April 2011

Manic Monday

Countdown – T-minus 65 days until the Home Opener, 63 Days before the 2011 Season opens at Helena, and at least another week before the latest edition of the Osprey Record Book is done. Sorry, but Sunday turned into a fun day …

– First, a quick reminder that the Osprey Job Fair will be held on Tuesday, from 3-8 p.m. at the DoubleTree Hotel in Missoula.

– Bobby Borchering had started in quite the funk for the Visalia Rawhide this season. Let’s hope Sunday’s effort goes a ways in breaking that up. We here at Bird Droppings hopes the same thing can happen to Pedro Ciriaco, and soon.

– Speaking of Visalia, their games attract runs like free food brings people out of the woodwork. Sunday’s win was the first time in four games this season that one of the teams involved scored at least 10 runs.

– Speaking of a ton of runs, Mobile and Mississippi combined for 24 of them on Sunday, with the Braves earning a 14-10 win. Five of the BayBears runs came off the bat of … yup, Paul Goldschmidt, who cranked out a RBI single and a grand slam in the slugfest. Through 10 games, Goldy is 10th in hitting (.364), and leads the Southern League in home runs (6), RBIs (15), slugging pct. (.939) and OPS (1.439). Teammate Taylor Harbin (2007 Osprey) is fourth in the league in hitting with a .387 mark.

– More on the former Osprey in the farm system can be found both here and here. Also an interesting read from Arizona Republic writer Nick Piecoro on how close the D-backs are to having a great farm system, according to ESPN’s Keith Law.

– Good signs are arriving about the early season performance of former Osprey pitcher Esmerling Vasquez, especially when everyone seems to have notice the newfound bite on his curveball.

– Lyle Overbay explores one of the great mysteries of baseball life – why some guys can hit against certain teams. Overbay is a .400 hitter against the Cincinnati Reds, whom he now gets to see on a semi-regular basis with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

– Also looks like Daniel Schlereth has found a home in the Detroit Tigers bullpen, and is part of a youth movement being used on the road to (Jose) Valverde.

– Nice piece we stumbled across on former Osprey reliever Evan Scribner and his odd road to the closer role for the Tucson Padres. Scribs has been up-and-down out of the gate, with an 0-1 record, two saves, and a 6.43 ERA. In five outings, he has struggled in two of them, and been virtually unhittable in the other three. Ahh, the life of a closer …

– The South Bend Silver Hawks are struggling out of the gate – again – but the offense was helped a bit by seeing a somewhat familiar face – Kevin Eichhorn. Eichhorn (2008-10 Osprey), now in the Detroit Tigers organization, was touched up in his second start this season on Sunday, allowing four hits and two walks in 4 2/3 innings pitched against the Hawks. Eichhorn also struck out six batters, and retired the order the first time through, but Raul Navarro (2010) drilled a two-out single in Game 2 of Sunday’s doubleheader. Keon Broxton (2009) also had a bunt single (he’s at .302 for the season), while Chris Jarrett (2010) walked twice in the SB setback.

– Here’s today’s minor league schedule and former Osprey who get the call on the mound:
AAA – Reno (7-3) vs. Colorado Springs
AA – Mobile (7-3) vs. Hagerstown
A Adv. – Visalia (4-7) at Stockton
A – South Bend (2-8) at Great Lakes – lefty David Holmberg (2010) will get the start for the Silver Hawks.

The deadline approaches …

T-minus 69 days until Opening Night at home, 67 days until the Osprey open their season at Helena, and less than 48 hours to e-file your tax returns. If you’re still doing them on paper, you have an extra three days.

– A reminder, the Osprey will hold a Job Fair on Tuesday, April 19, at the DoubleTree Hotel from 3-8 p.m. There are many day-of-game positions available for the 2011 season at the Job Fair. You will be able to complete applications and have an interview during the event.

-Esmerling Vasquez (2004) is back with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Vasquez pitched an inning and a third of scoreless relief in Wednesday’s 15-5 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. The right-hander threw just one inning in Reno, getting a strikeout and not allowing a thing, and is coming off of a strong Spring Training, something which has helped with his confidence.

Tom Layne, meanwhile, was being groomed as a reliever, but the crafty lefty is suddenly in Reno’s rotation. His performance last night may be enough to allow that to happen. Layne allowed three runs (two earned) in five innings, while scattering five hits and two walks, and struck out five in a win at Colorado Springs. The Aces have now won five in a row after losing their opener.

– Not so good news for former Osprey Matt Helm, who apparently is down with an injury.

– A good win for Double-A Mobile on Wednesday, as they beat Mississippi in their home opener. And, yes, former Osprey had their hands all over the win, although Goldy lost an apparent home run. The BayBears also made a roster move, one which brings former Osprey reliever Josh Ellis down from Reno, where he had yet to make an appearance this season.

– The prices of things all around us may have gone up, but the good news Osprey baseball will once again be very affordable this season. Read more here as studies show that minor league baseball is still a great bargain.

– Here are some ERAs from the Chicago White Sox bullpen – 0.00, 2.84, 7.36, 7.71, 11.25 and 11.57. Can you guess which belongs to former Osprey Sergio Santos and Tony Pena? Well, while White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen had his first meltdown of the 2011 season following a six-run, two-inning run by the Oakland A’s that victimized the Pale Hose once again, we discovered the numbers – which are ugly.

Unless your last name is Santos.

Sergio is at it again, and while there have been thoughts of moving him into the closer’s role, this may be the incident that pushes Guillen to follow his gut and do just that. Santos is still pitching in special circumstances – dubbed the “Santos Rules” last season – and so far, he has done well. In five appearances, the 2002 former Osprey infielder-turned-pitcher has pitched 7 2/3 innings, allowing five hits and three walks, while striking out nine batters. And Santos, after Wednesday’s action, had not allowed a run. His 1.04 WHIP (Walks and Hits per Innings Pitched) is second to only Gavin Floyd’s 0.93.

The same is not true of Pena, unfortunately, who is struggling with an 11.25 ERA in the first 12 games this season. There was some consideration to move Pena into the rotation with the absence of Jake Peavy, but he has struggled in his five outings, which include a blown save.

– For people who are ready and can’t wait to watch live baseball, the Missoula Mavericks American Legion squad takes to the field for their first game of the 2011 season on Saturday, when they will host the Great Falls Chargers in a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. at the old Osprey nesting ground, better known as Lindborg-Cregg Field.

Tuesday’s gone with the clouds …

T-minus 71 days until the Osprey open at Ogren Park Allegiance Field, 69 days before they invade Helena and look to take down the Brewers, and 68 days (at the most) before they meet the media.

Also, a significant development today in Missoula … the sun is making a basically solo appearance  in the sky. Usually, it’s hiding behind a multitude of clouds, or trying to peer through a thin layer of cloud cover. We welcome it’s appearance with mainly clear skies today. Another sign that the season is getting closer by the day …

– Former Osprey infielder Perdo Ciriaco (2005) showed off his glove skills on this line drive during the opener for the Indianapolis Indians. Ciriaco was one of the last cuts for the Pittsburgh Pirates before they broke camp this past Spring Training. The glove is there, but Ciriaco is just 2-for-18 (.111) in the first five games this season, with two stolen bases.

Jarrod Parker’s 2011 debut was one to forget, as Double-A Mobile lost for the first time this season, 10-4, to Carolina. Parker (2007) was tagged for eight runs in 3 2/3 innings pitched. Paul Goldschmidt (2009) had two hits and a RBI, while Taylor Harbin (2007) continued his strong start, collecting another hit and run scored, and watched as his average fell … to .571.

A myriad of notes from Arizona Republic writer Nick Piecoro, including the threat of a “Goldy Watch”-type piece (that’s what we called it last season when we were tracking the Goldschmidt Home Run Train) and where Raul Navarro (2010) was ticketed to head to, which changed by the time March was over.

– Baltimore’s fans are apparently feeling it, so to speak, after their fast start. A couple of them were giving Jose Valverde (2000) the business during the Detroit Tigers’ series at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.  Nice to know fellow Osprey Daniel Schlereth (2008) had his back. By the way, Valverde has two saves in two tries, and Schlereth has allowed just a run on three hits and two walks in his first four innings of work.

And here’s your little-known fact of the day. In the movie Major League 2, which had all of the game-related footage shot inside Camden Yards in Baltimore, the bullpen scenes involving Charlie Sheen were actually shot in the visitor’s bullpen, which is behind the O’s bullpen in the Camden Yards layout. There’s also a walkway right above the bullpen bench area, which you can notice in this clip.

– The players at Extended Spring Training are back to work, after taking a short break. The grind will include six days of work, and a day off, each week. Mike Belfiore (2009), who is on the South Bend DL by expected to be on the Visalia pitching staff before long, is joined by 2010 former Osprey Robby Rowland and Stephen Cardullo, among others.

Weekend headlines …

T-minus 72 days until the home opener, 70 days before the Osprey open at Helena, and only 4 days after today to e-file your tax returns. If you’re doing the paper variety, however, you still have until Apri l18. When the government will actually process it, however, is a different story …

– Miguel Montero is about as hot as a sidewalk in Phoenix in July right now, getting a base hit in each of his first seven games, and going 13-for-26 (.500) to start the season. Montero also liked the way the D-backs were able to open the home schedule with a win over the Cincinnti Reds.

– Stumbled across this nugget of information about the rotations in the minors, as well as some other information about former Osprey with full-season clubs.

– The Sunday Skim also includes the following pieces of info as far as the D-backs’ full-season teams are concerned:

Triple-A Reno managed to win twice on Sunday over Salt Lake, taking two of three games in the opening series of the season. Jordan Norberto picked up the save in the lidlifter of the twinbill, forced by a snow-out on Opening Night. Tom Layne (2007) also made one appearance in the opening series, scattering three hits and a walk in three innings, and one earned run. John Hester started just one game of the series, and went 0-for-3.

Double-A Mobile had a 9 a.m. MT start with Carolina in the end of their five-game series, with Jarrod Parker (2007) aiming to get off to a good start this season and help the BayBears finish off the sweep. Taylor Harbin (2007) is off to an 8-for-12 start, with three runs scored, a double and two RBIs. And, oh yeah, Paul Goldschmidt (2009) had a heck of a debut. Goldy collected an RBI single with two out in the 3rd inning on Monday. You can follow the game here.

Class A Advanced Visalia has stumbled out of the gate, but there are four former Osprey who are leading the team in hitting. The pace-setter should be no surprise – it’s Adam Eaton (2010) , who after last night’s doubleheader split with Bakersfield, is hitting .412 with two doubles, a home run, and five RBIs. The other three leaders in batting – catcher Rossmel Perez and first baseman/outfielder Kyle Greene, who were teammates in Missoula in 2008, and second baseman David Nick (2009).

If the record is 0-3, it must be the start for the Class A South Bend Silver Hawks, who have dropped their first three games for the past five seasons. However, in three of the last four occasions, the Hawks made the Midwest League playoffs. And while the Hawks have had issues with their offense, they shed all of those problems and pounded the Fort Wayne Tin Caps on Sunday.

– There are several former Osprey currently at Extended Spring Training, with one of them being left-handed pitcher Mike Belfiore (2009). He suffered from a slight muscle pull in his mid-section, and should be headed to Class A Advanced Visalia within a couple of weeks. Belfiore is currently listed on the South Bend DL, but according to what we have heard, Belfiore will head to Visalia. Then again, stranger things have happened before …

– By the way, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic is going to include a minor-league update on his blog nearly every day. We’ll directly link to any information involving former Osprey that is mentioned within it, which may be hard to avoid, since there are close to 50 former Osprey in the four full-season squads for the D-backs.

Promotional Calender Released

The Osprey have announced their 2011 Promotional Calendar, which includes so many cool things that you may just want to get season tickets instead and go to all of the games! Read about it here, check out the game schedule here, and view the promotional calendar here.

Good and bad starts … and Opening Day II

OK Osprey faithful – a good number of our alumni will be opening their seasons today, and yet there are a handful whom will be waiting to start their seasons – let’s hope a good number of those who are waiting are back in Missoula.

It may be Opening Day in the minor leagues for the full-season leagues, but the Osprey are still in countdown mode – 76 days until the home opener, 74 days until the season opener, and an estimated 72 days before the first batting practice home run finds the Clark Fork.

– One former Osprey who would be a “new face, new place” candidate is Lyle Overbay (1999 Osprey), who is off to a solid start for the Pittsburgh Pirates. In six games, he’s hitting .304 with a home run and four RBIs. Here’s also a sit-down chat Overbay had at the start of Spring Training about joining the Pirates.

– We mentioned Miguel Montero’s start in our last post – he homered again in the D-backs win on Wednesday at Wrigley Field over the Chicago Cubs – but we also should mention the start by Gerardo Parra (2006) as well. Parra had a three-hit day on Wednesday, and his average climbed to .333 with the effort. Parra has made the start in all five of Arizona’s games so far this season.

– Daniel Schlereth not only made his first Opening-Day roster, earning a place on the Detroit Tigers’ 25-man roster, but made an appearance in the opener as well. He pitched an inning for the Detroit Tigers, allowing a hit, on March 31 at Yankee Stadium. So far, that is the lone appearance for Schlereth, who will likely be used as a left-handed specialist this season by the Tigers.

– Today marks Opening Day for the minors, as all of the full-season leagues will begin play today – or tonight – throughout the land. Along with the 49 former Osprey who are on rosters with teams in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ organization, there are others who are in the minors with other teams. The list, and a little bit of info on each:

Evan Scribner (’07), Tucson (AAA-San Diego)- Ben Catley’s pick to be the next former Osprey to make his Major League debut. The right-handed reliever has developed into quite the find for the Padres, who traded Tony Clark in 2008 for Scribner, straight-up, before the trade deadline. Scribs’ best pitch is a slider which has a lot of bite. If he gets guys out at Tucson, he’ll get the call soon enough.

Ryan Robowski (’09), Lakeland (A Advanced-Detroit)- Robo is a lefty who looks a bit like Scribner in his delivery, and was the pitcher on the mound who closed out the Northern Division Playoff with Great Falls in 2009. He will stay in the bullpen with the Tigers’ organization.

Scott Allen (’09), Tampa (A Advanced-NY Yankees)- Allen is young, has electric stuff and has some potential to be a solid starter. He’ll get to play in the same league as Robo (Florida State League), and in fact, they will open the season by facing each other.

Kevin Eichhorn (’08-’10), West Michigan (A-Detroit)- Eike will get to be a starter for the Whitecaps, where he will be pitching in the Midwest League. The potential for a start against South Bend looms … he’ll be in the starting rotation.

Greg Smith (’05), Colorado Springs (AAA-Colorado)- The left-hander is looking to work his way back to the Major Leagues. Smith had a so-so spring, so we shall see what pitching at altitude (Colorado Springs is actually nearly 1,000 feet higher in elevation than Denver) treats him.

Wilkin Castillo (2004), Gwinnett (AAA-Atlanta)- Castillo is looking to have a solid spring and be waiting for a chance to be back in the Major Leagues.

JD Closser (1999), Albuquerque (AAA-LA Dodgers)- Closser is also looking for another chance to be with the Major League club, as he continues his career. He is in his third season with the Dodgers organization.

Jerry Gil (2000), Louisville (AAA-Cincinnati)- Gil is trying to do a Sergio Santos, but one better – if he would make it back to the Major Leagues as a pitcher, he would be the first and only Osprey to do so as a position player and as a pitcher.

Steven Jackson (2004), Chattanooga (AA-LA Dodgers)- Jackson was signed as a free agent by the Dodgers and assigned to Chattanooga to pitch out of the Lookouts’ bullpen. Jackson spent parts of two seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and made his MLB debut in 2009.

Reynaldo Navarro (2007-08), Wilmington (A Adv.-Kansas City)- Navarro was a shortstop here, but is being turned into a second baseman by the Royals’ organization. Navarro has had some experience playing the other middle infield position, and according to scouts, his arm seems a better fit on the right side of the infield.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Tuesday’s question dealt with the best opponents batting average allowed by an Osprey pitcher (minimum 65 innings pitched). The trick is the qualifier – in the Osprey Official Record Book (coming as a PDF file to a computer near you sometime in May!), the record-holder is based on at least 10 innings pitched – which would be Jose Valverde (.075 in 2000). But under the qualifier of the question, the answer would be Jordan Norberto, who holds the mark of .216, set in 2006 … Eichhorn, at one point in the 2010 season, had a shot of breaking the mark, but a start at Casper changed all of that.

Today’s question – How many former Osprey are currently playing in the Mexican League? A hint: You have seen video of at least one of them in this very blog. Answer coming on Monday …

Lofty – and tight – goals

Word has it that the rims have been loosened, finally, at Reliant Stadium. For anyone who listened to the radio broadcast of the men’s college basketball title game on Monday, former Georgetown head coach John Thompson referred often to the “tight rims” as shots for both teams were going in and out of the cylinders. Let’s hope the Osprey pitchers don’t run into tight strike zones this season.

The funny thing uttered this morning – if any starting Major League pitcher could hold their opponents to the success rate at the plate of Butler’s made field goals from the title game (which, in baseball terms, would be .188), they’ll likely win the Cy Young.

Which begs the question – do you know which Osprey pitcher, with at least 65 innings pitched, holds the record for lowest opponents’ batting average for a single season? We will post the answer on Thursday.

– Carlos Gonzalez (2003 Osprey) did something in 2010 that no other former Missoula Osprey has been able to do since the organization took flight in 1999 … be in the Top 3 in a Major League MVP vote. And you would think that, now, with a lengthy contract and job security, a player could have a tendency to allow that success to carry him for a bit.

But CarGo is not one of those guys – especially when you set a goal like putting up a 40 HR/40 steal season. If he does pull off the 40/40 trick, he would be the first player ever from Venezuela to achieve the single-season milestone.

– More CarGo – partially because a miniature version could be coming soon to an Ogren Park Allegiance Field near you – how about this catch?

– Speaking of former Osprey playing at elevation … until a blister ended his night early, former Osprey pitcher Jorge De La Rosa (1999-2000) looked good in his first start of the 2011 season.

– Another former Osprey off to a good start is Miguel Montero. Miggy (2002-03 Osprey) has gone 6-for-12 with a home run and two RBIs in the first three games. Montero also had an extra-base hit taken away from him by … CarGo. It was Montero whom Gonzalez robbed in the 7th with that diving catch on Saturday.

– More Miggy – he apparently had what Arizona Republic reporter Nick Piecoro called an “interaction” with outfielder Chris Young following the Saturday loss at Coors Field. It also sounds like D-backs manager Kirk Gibson likes the fight his team is showing.

– Gerardo Parra (2006) also had his own incident on Saturday night, with of all people, Jorge De La Rosa. Piecoro has pieces of the story, but there’s a missing piece floating somewhere, and the origins may only be known to the two people involved.

Coming Thursday – Extended Spring Training stuff, those amazing Pirates, and the fulfillment of the trivia quotent for the week.

Roster announcements

Minor league teams in the Arizona Diamondbacks system have begun to announce their 2011 rosters for the season. Here’s what we have been able to find so far (number of former Osprey listed, as well as the former Osprey on the roster and their Missoula year(s). This list has been compiled as of Monday, April 4):

Triple-A Reno (7): John Hester (2006), Tom Layne (2007), Josh Ellis (2007), Esmerling Vasquez (2004), Daniel Stange (2006), Jordan Norberto (2006), Clay Zavada (2006 – will start season on DL).

Double-A Mobile (8): Jarrod Parker (2007), Bryan Henry (2007), Charles Brewer (2009), Bryan Shaw (2008), Jake Elmore (2008), Paul Goldschmidt (2009), Taylor Harbin (2007), Ollie Linton (2008). Former Osprey hitting coach Alan Zinter (2008) is serving in the same capacity for the BayBears.

Class A Advanced Visalia (16): Chase Anderson (2009), Christian Beltre (2008), Victor Cappellan (2008), Derek Eitel (2010), Trevor Harden (2008), Yonata Ortega (2007), Diogenes Rosario (2009), Taylor Sinclair (2008), Eric Smith (2009), Adam Worthington (2009), Rossmel Perez (2008), Bobby Borchering (2009), David Nick (2009), Chris Owings (2009), Adam Eaton (2010), Kyle Greene (2008). Former Osprey hitting coach Jason Hardtke (2009-10) is the manager for the Rawhide.

Class A South Bend (18): J.R. Bradley (2010), Blake Cooper (2010), Eury De La Rosa (2009), Jeremy Erben (2010), Bradin Hagens (2009), Kable Hogben (2009), David Holmberg (2010), Patrick Schuster (2010), Jeff Shields (2010), Dan Taylor (2010), RayWily Gomez (2009), Ramon Castillo (2009), Matt Helm (2009-10), Raul Navarro (2010), Keon Broxton (2009), Chris Jarrett (2010), Roberto Rodriguez (2010), Bobby Stone (2008-09-10).

Teams will open their seasons on Friday, April 7. South Bend will play an exhibition against the University of Notre Dame on Tuesday.

They have learned their destination …

As we find out player placements, we will add them to this post throughout the weekend. Some of it may be spotty, just to let you know, but we will do the best we can. Official roster announcements are due out this weekend from the full-season squads.

– Chris Jarrett (2010 Osprey) has just informed his Facebook following that he will start the season in South Bend. A place which is expecting 30 degrees and snow and ice just in time for the SilverHawks arrival. He’s joined in the outfield by former Osprey outfielders Roberto Rodriguez (2010) and Keon Broxton (2009).

– Scott Allen (2009) has learned that he will be pitching at Class A Advanced Tampa in the New York Yankees organization. Allen – who was in line to be the Opening Day starter for the Osprey in 2010 before he was promoted to South Bend in early June – was involved in the trade that brought Juan Miranda to the D-backs.

– Former Osprey reliever Jeff Shields (2010) will start the season in South Bend, along with a growing number of his Osprey teammates from last summer’s squad.

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