December 30, 2004

Notes from Caracas, Venezuela

Baseball America has the latest numbers from the Venezuelan Winter League, where each team is required to have 10 million players on the roster.

For Leones de Caracas, hometown hero Bobby Abreu, a native of Aragua, VZ, popped by for six games, belted dos ding-dongs and dos double-baggers during season play. He's on the roster for the end-of-season round-robin tourney and got a hit in the first game yesterday, but Caracas took the loss. Washington Nationals pitcher Tony Armas, Jr. pitched five scoreless to earn the win.

Phillies utility pie thrower and VZ veteran Tomas Perez, Barquisimeto, VZ, is also in Caracas, where he's seen plenty of action at SS and 1B. In 47 regular season games, he only hit .247, but lead the team in walks with 23, raising his OBP to a not too horrible .332. Goodeye-goodeye-goodeye.

He didn't get a hit in last night's game however (0-4). Come on, Tomas, you can do it.

Tomas Perez

In the pen, Caracas can unleash Jorge Julio and Francisco Rodriguez in the late innings. The Caracas natives, who pitch for Baltimore and Texas respectively, equal a one-two punch better than some MLB clubs. During regular season play, Julio, who's not so great with Baltimore, and Rodriguez, who was great for Texas last season, shared closing duties with about 10 other guys, including former Philadelphia closer Wayne Gomes.

Gomesy went 1-0 with a 7.20 ERA in 17 games.

Julio and Rodriguez, by the way, are throwing to a savvy backstop, MLB veteran catcher Henry Blanco.

Henry Blanco

December 29, 2004

Sil Campusano research complete

Floating around the house this Christmas was Rob Neyer’s Big Book of Baseball Lineups. It's a great book, but the best feature is the all-bust lineup for each club. For the newer franchises like Toronto and Florida, the names are fairly recognizable.

Take Toronto. Playing CF for the all-bust Toronto Blue Jays is slender Dominican sensation and former Phillie Sil Campusano. Who can forget Sil.

Campusano, Sil, OF, Philadelphia
1990 66 85 .212 .269 .318
1991 15 35 .114 .139 .200

Thanks for the memories, Sil. Here's a link to the sabermetrics numbers for the readers who want more.

I remembered Sil best, not for his four hits in 1991, but because I had his baseball card, and I'm fairly certain he was a Donruss Rated Rookie, which meant he got to be in protective plastic. When I have time to sort through my old cards, his card will be in the stack, preserved in mint condition, worth all of five cents.

I did a search for Sil's accomplishments as a Phillie this afternoon during company time. I used the Reading Eagle Archives. Since I'm in the marketing department at the Eagle, linking to the archives should make up for the twenty minutes or so I spent researching Sil Campusano online. That, and I'll even throw in a plug from a personal friend of mine:

"Take it from me, Reading Eagle Archives is fantastic!"
Michael Jordan
Professional Baseketball Player

Back to the research. Here’s an article, in its glorious original form, on how the acquisition of Sil Campusano was going to be the spark the Phillies needed. (Article)

Other notes in researching Sil, there's a correction to the Neyer book where it talks about Sil Campusano. In the sidebar, Neyer wrote about the Blue Jays' plan whereby George Bell would move from left field to DH and Sil Campusano would take over in left field. He got the first part right, the second part half-wrong. Campusano was supposed to take over in center field, with Lloyd Moseby moving from center to left.

Neyer offers a special thanks to alert reader Neate Sager for the Sil Campusano corrections, and from the rest of the online baseball world, thanks, Neate. We can now take a deep breath and move forward.

December 28, 2004

Howard tops list of Phils prospects

Baseball America has released its list of the top ten Phillies prospects for 2005, headed by former Reading slugger Ryan Howard.

As expected, Howard was given the top spot following a year that included 46 home runs in the minor leagues. Though his strikeouts remain high, his power rivals that of any prospect, Baseball America said, which also gave him strong marks for surprising agility, underrated defense, and power from pole to pole.

The toss up for the second spot went to Gavin Floyd over Cole Hamels, last year’s No. 1 prospect. He fell to third due to concerns over his health, though they believe his ceiling is higher than Floyd's.

The rest of the free internet list is as follows:

1. Ryan Howard, 1b
2. Gavin Floyd, rhp
3. Cole Hamels, lhp
4. Greg Golson, of
5. Michael Bourn, of
6. Scott Mathieson, rhp
7. Jake Blalock, of
8. Carlos Carrasco, rhp
9. Edgar Garcia, rhp
10. Scott Mitchinson, rhp

Of these, only one, Cole Hamels, is expected to start the season in Double-A Reading, although OF Michael Bourn could see action as a late-season call-up.

BPF take
Favorite son, catcher Carlos Ruiz, failed to make the cut, but we’ll keep a lookout for the all-important honorable mention in the print addition. Other omissions of note include power prospect Juan Richardson, 3B, and power pitcher Keith Bucktrot.

All three players will likely begin the season in Triple-A Scranton.

December 27, 2004

Philler: Schott, Caminiti eulogized

One of many year-end issues to feature prominent faces that passed in 2004, the best of these, The New York Times Magazine, includes two notorious baseball names, Marge Schott and Ken Caminiti, for leaving unforgettable marks on the game, and symbolizing past and present eras.

Marge Schott
Charles McGrath was charged with summing up Marge Schott's life in about 25 column inches and you won't find a better piece of writing on the complexly-simple owner, and her fetid dog, Schottzie. If there was ever a person to base an Oscar-worthy baseball film, it's Marge Schott.

An Academy Award winner would surely include the times she stuck up for Hitler, made ethnic slurs about the Japanese Prime Minister, and showed up for team photographs with her 170-pound dog wearing a Reds cap. But a good, thoughtful interpretation would examine why the fans loved her, the commissioner who hated her, and players at a point in history (1984) who were just as fanatical as the owner.

"And this eccentricity may be her real legacy, a throwback to a time, before the corporatization of sports, when you had to be a little bit singular to want to be a team owner in the first place," McGrath wrote. "Not coincidentally, Schott was one of the last of the owners whom fans actually rooted for."

Ken Caminiti
The first asterisk. Not officially, but never the less.

Caminiti gets a page because he symbolizes a topic that painted headlines this year with a broad, deflating stroke of clear cream. Relying heavily on a July 2002 Sports Illustrated article, writer Michael Sokolove recaps his public admission of steroid use and personal testimony of how the drug physically changed him in his MVP season of 1996.

"I’d be running the bases and think, man, I’m fast! And I have never been fast. Man, I felt good. I'd think, Damn, this pitcher's in trouble."

The rest of the obituary goes past retirement, down the spiral, and finally to an apartment in the Bronx where he died by overdosing on cocaine and opiates.

Caminiti is the both the best and worst example of a modern ballplayer, depending who you ask, but his more damning legacy represents the broken illusion that what we, the fans, are seeing is authentic.