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11/17/06 -- Is Mitch Talbot ready for a spot in the Devil Rays' rotation?

Chuck & Phil,
Looks like Mitch Talbot took a step forward this year.  Do you think he's ready to compete for a rotation spot in Tampa ?  Have your thoughts changed on Yovani Gallardo since my question 6 months ago ?

Baseball Examiner:


Hello again, Steve! Congratulations on your excellent entry for our contest as part of a 3-way tie! It's too bad that dirty Mel had to win the tie-breaker from you.


Mitch Talbot is a right handed pitcher who was selected in the 2nd round of the 2002 Draft by the Houston Astros. Talbot had a promising debut in rookie ball, but as he progressed through the Astros' system, he statistically regressed with each season. By the time he got to Double-A in 2006, Talbot finally started to turn things around, just in time to be trade bait for Aubrey Huff in a July deal with Tampa Bay. Talbot finished 2006 very strong with the Devil Rays Double-A affiliate, making his 2006 season the best of his 3 full minor league seasons.


With the D-Rays starving for quality pitchers to compliment their strong group of hitting prospects, Talbot may be given a bit of a look in Spring Training. After all, Talbot was briefly in big league camp with the Astros.


Talbot is not currently on the Devil Rays' 40-man roster, but that may not last for long because he's likely available for the Rule V Draft next month. It would be expected that he will be placed on the 40-man roster before then to protect him.


Anytime someone is on the 40-man, he's always just a callup away. But I think Talbot could use a bit more seasoning to build on his strong 2006 campaign. If he continues his success for at least 10-12 starts in Triple-A next year, he could easily be a mid-season callup to the Devil Rays. But I don't think he's quite ready to make the Opening Day rotation.


As for Gallardo, he sure did have a great breakout season, did he not? He's established himself as one of the better pitching prospects in baseball and his presence will be made known on prospect lists heading into next season. Nice call!





8/13/06 -- Simulated Game?

I hear the term "simulated game" as in "the pitcher has been in rehab and he pitched a simulated 7 innings yesterday". What does a pitcher do in pitching a simulated game?

John E
Dunkirk, Md.

Baseball Examiner:


Thanks for the question, John!


A simulated game consists primarily of a pitcher, a catcher, and someone who stands in the batter's box with the bat on his shoulder. In some cases it may also require an umpire to call balls & strikes. The "batter" never swings but is only there to present the presence of a hitter. The pitcher then throws to the catcher in a situation not much different from what we did as kids throwing a whiffle ball against a netting backstop or a tennis ball against the garage door.


In a simulated game, the pitcher is likely on a strict pitch count. In the case of a pitcher throwing a certain number of "innings", it's possible that they're considering each batter as having walked after 4 balls or been struck out after 3 strikes. Three strikeouts, of course, equal an inning.


However a simulated game may be conducted, the point is to get the pitcher some work in which they will simulate throwing certain pitches in certain locations, perhaps in certain counts. It's different from throwing off the mound which is just an attempt to build up arm strength. A simulated game is an opportunity for a rehabbing pitcher to regain precision before facing live competition.



5/7/06 -- Two pitchers that didn't make our Top Prospect lists

Chuck & Phil,
I noticed your top 10/20 pitcher lists didn't include either Chuck Lofgren or Yovani Gallardo.  How close were they to making the lists and please compare and contrast them.



Chuck of Baseball Examiner:


Hi, Steve!


Phil put together our RHP list and had this to share regarding Milwaukee Brewer prospect Yovani Gallardo:


Yovani Gallardo is an interesting prospect and was in the picture on the top RHP list, probably in the 25-30 range. The positives on Gallardo are his pure stuff. His fastball can touch the mid 90’s and he compliments it with a solid curveball, slider, and change up.  Gallardo dominated Low A in 2005 which is a good reflection of his stuff. However, he walked 51 in 121 innings which equates to 3.8 walks per 9 innings. While this is not out of line for young pitchers it bares watching.


Many guys get by at lower levels with one or two good pitches despite marginal command. However, as these same pitchers face more experienced batters who will lay off pitches out of the strike zone, the ones who fail to improve their command tend to struggle. This fact is the reason Gallardo was left off the top 20. The guys in front of him either have better raw stuff and/or have shown success at higher levels. Gallardo has the stuff to be a top pitcher and if he can prove himself against more advanced hitters he will be high up on this list next year.


Thank you, Phil.


Indians LHP Chuck Lofgren didn't make my Top 10 list and would have been edged out by other lefthanders that are in the upper minors who were considered but missed the cut. Lofgren is off to a good start at high-A Kinston in his first 5 starts (25 1/3 IP, 23 hits, 24 k, 6 bb, 2.13 era). He is definitely one to watch at only age 20.


Both pitchers spent their 2005 season in the low-A South Atlantic League at age 19 after being drafted out of high school in 2004 (Gallardo in the 2nd round; Lofgren in the 4th round). Lofgren has the better fastball but has yet to find an effective breaking pitch. Gallardo throws 4 pitches (fastball, curve, slider & changeup) while Lofgren is searching for a 3rd pitch to complement his fastball & changeup.


Presently, Gallardo is ahead of Lofgren. Gallardo's 6 starts this year have been fabulous (33 IP, 24 hits, 48 k, 7 bb, 1.64 era) and could warrant a Double-A promotion this season while Lofgren continues to find a breaking pitch.



5/7/06 -- CO2guru demands props for NCAA D-II player



Chuck of Baseball Examiner:


For the rest of us who don't know: West Liberty State College is a Division II program in West Liberty, WV and a member of the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.


Justin Edwards is a third baseman for the Hilltoppers and was just named first-team All-WVIAC. Edwards has started all 48 games this season and is second on the team with a .398 batting average and leads the team with 6 home runs and 42 rbi in 161 at-bats with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 8 (k's) to 15 (bb).


Justin has also made 11 appearances as a pitcher. His 9 starts, 56 2/3 innings and 3.34 ERA each lead the team as well. He's given up 54 hits and 26 walks with 48 strikeouts. He led the 20-28 team in victories with a 5-4 record.


No offense, but the first thing to do in order to fall off the radar is to go to a D-II school. If scouts are guilty of sandbagging on Justin Edwards, so were D-I coaches for not recruiting him. To get noticed at a small school, a player has to make a lot of noise and have outstanding tools. Justin had a great season and was a leader on the team, but his season doesn't even compare with that of West Virginia State first baseman Jeff Miller who was named WVIAC Player of the Year. And Jeff Miller has difficult shoes to fill following the careers of other WVIAC Players of the Year from West Virginia State: David Smith & Jason Moore. And who could forget John Priddy and James Elswick from the late-80s?


We'll see come June Draft whether Edwards is recognized by any scouts. If not, he'll have to sell himself and showcase his skills to get signed as an undrafted free agent.



3/29/06 -- Merk Perlin breaks down the NL West


The 2006 National League West race will once again come down to the final weeks of the season. The West in 2006 will most likely command the most attention of any division, not only for the exploits of San Francisco Giant Barry Bonds, but the new and improved Dodgers, the talented young Rockies, the unproven Diamondbacks and the formidable Padres.


As long as baseball has been played, pitching has been paramount to success; this year will be no different. However, the projected winner, the San Diego Padres will have to overcome much uncertainty with their pitching staff to take the title of baseball’s most competitive division in 2006. The winner of the West will be able to avoid and overcome injuries and do so with an eye on the National League Pennant. Expectations are high throughout the division; for some, time is the enemy, for others, it can’t move fast enough. Once spring training ends and pitchers start throwing inside and cleats rise at second base, baseball will transform from steroid suspicion and contract incentives to men playing a boy’s game. When the boys of summer take the field this year in the National League West, they won’t be alone as the dream of baseball transcends vicariously to each of us who love the game. 


First Place Second Place Third Place Fourth Place Fifth Place
San Diego Padres San Francisco Giants Los Angeles Dodgers Arizona Diamondbacks Colorado Rockies



3/16/06 -- Andy's Opportunity to Rant


I’ve taken notice that as of April 2nd, ESPN has come to realize the existence of baseball clubs outside of New York and Boston.  I wouldn’t get used to it, but I’ll enjoy it while it lasts.


ESPN wants rivalries, because that is what sells. I’ve also realized that the monster network doesn’t do much research. Had they bothered, they would’ve found a rich and intriguing history in the American league’s oldest members. Yes, its’ true there was baseball before the Big Bambino.


The American League kicked off its Major League status when the Cleveland Nine took on south Chicago’s own squad. New York and Boston’s relationship can be compared to two neighbors in a ritzy neighborhood. Who can outspend the other, who will have the priciest and most popular names first? Honestly I hope they bankrupt each other, but I digress.


The Indians and White Sox, cannot afford this type of relationship, much like the fan base majority, the teams take on a blue collar image. The south-side Sox and Tribe are more like dueling brothers. We’re almost always in the same boat trying to stay afloat, avoiding a move out of town, and winning without spending.


One dictionary’s definition of rivalry is as follows, “One that equals or almost equals another in a particular respect.” I don’t know if the Yankees beating up the Red Sox for some eighty odd years, with one Boston retaliation in that time doesn’t really fit the description of rivalry. It looks more like the classic bully and the bullied. I have problems keeping my lunch down when I hear of the devastating sale of Babe Ruth.


Cleveland did the same thing a few years prior with a young man by the name of Joe Jackson. Cleveland sent the man, whose swing was copied by the Sultan of Swat, to Chicago for cash. Yankee stadium is the place that Ruth built, a former Red Sox.  Well Comiskey was the house that Charles built, but not without the help of Cleveland’s owner.


Being surrounded by New York and Boston fans at work, (Tidewater area, Virginia) I hear the constant bickering and complaining. I have to listen to Yankee fans complain about how hard it was to stand and watch Don Mattingly go without a championship.


That’s it? That’s the best that you got? I could list off dozens of Hall of Famers and hall of fame potentials between the Sox and Tribe who never saw a title, and in some cases a winning season. Prior to last October, there was one hundred and forty four years of title starvation between the two cities. Two hundred and forty one years if you count the Cubs, but let’s not talk about the hopeless.


If you want to hear rightful complaining it should be coming out of the mid-west, yet the true fans don’t complain much, they’ve grown dull to it. Or they appreciate the small things, like a league-leading ERA, or good small ball, homeruns are for football fans if you ask me. The rustbelt fans wait patiently for their turn to watch as their championship team is paraded down Main Street. Chicago got theirs last year, with a little divine intervention and a good bullpen, Cleveland may finally have theirs.


If not, hey, at least I got to see a game on ESPN.


-Andy J Holcepl


2/19/2006 -- In 2016, the Assistant Director of Minor League Operations for the San Francisco Giants, Mark Perlin, reflects back on the past 10 years


Baseball Examiner: Mark Perlin is currently a Sports Management student at UC-Santa Barbara. The following is a class assignment to imagine where he plans to be in 10 years, and then look back at how his career has progressed in the past 10 years.


Mark Perlin
A Look Back to 2006

Winter 2016: "Thank you for thinking of our organization Mr. Henderson, but I don't think Fresno is the ideal home for your comeback."

Determining which veteran players on the decline fill out the organizations minor league roster is part of my job as the Assistant
Director of Minor League Operations for the San Francisco Giants. The path to this point has not been glamorous, or easily achieved; a lot of hard work, doubt, and downright cynicism have followed me to where I stand today. Ten years ago I was sitting in Al Ferrer's Sports Management class with only dreams and aspirations. Examples of former students signing 30 million dollar contracts, nine figure guys on the verge of becoming ten figure guys and stories of success coming to fruition being thrown around left and right. Where was I? Absent. I only possessed a childhood dream and an excess of knowledge about a
field that I thought was only accessible through a players tunnel.

I met with Coach Ferrer, the man who seemingly facilitated dreams for kids like me, and had more connections than Heidi Fleiss. After that initial meeting I was like Pete Rose in the 12th inning of the 1970 All-star game, barreling down at a wiry Ray Fosse. I looked around me; the competition was playing the game of life as if it were an exhibition game. Motivating mottos crisscrossed through my head, dreams of blockbuster trades and contract negotiations passed through my strike zone. Then I wised up; I was just another rookie in his first at-bat, going up against the likes of Nolan Ryan; what would distinguish my fate from Robin Ventura or Will Clark?


Actions speak louder than words, I got an internship my first quarter, Winter 2006, at the UCSB Recreational Sports Department, the equivalent of Rookie Ball. I took this unglamorous internship by the reigns and viewed it as an opportunity. Next quarter my solid performance resulted in continuing my internship with a new upgraded title, which would look
great on the resume I submit to my boy hood dream employer, the San Francisco Giants. That summer through my persistent emails and telephone calls I got an internship with the Giants, when I was lucky I was an usher in the third deck, when I wasn't, I was picking up seagull excrement at one o'clock in the morning.


Upon returning to UCSB that Fall I gained employment with the UCSB Athletic Department. While working for the Gauchos I continued to email and converse with my contacts at the San Francisco Giants. I began to develop a few solid connections with the Giants, and I built my resume up by hanging around with Coach Ferrer and helping him where I could. I was slowly but
surely was building a foundation. I did not have delusions of grandeur upon my graduation from UCSB in the fall of 2008, but when the Giants offered me a part time position as an usher I was definitely underwhelmed.


Then Coach Ferrer threw me a changeup, a former student of his had an opening in a low level marketing position with the despised Los Angeles Dodgers. I was torn, not between allegiances between baseball teams, but between boy and adulthood; no longer was I a fan, but I was a baseball professional. I took my $32,000 salary and moved to the concrete jungle. Never did I imagine myself staring at pictures of a loud, foul mouthed, old Italian man as the symbol of my employer. I was definitely a Dodger.


I worked two years with the Dodgers, all the while keeping in contact with the Giants connections I had from my
internship in the summer of 2006. An opportunity arose and I flew to San Francisco, interviewed well and became the Assistant Director of Minor League Marketing. A $50,000 annual salary was certainly not earth shattering, but I moved back in with my parents, worked 70 hour weeks because I wasn't just working, I was working for the Giants; my dream
seemingly closer than ever to coming to fruition.


I made trips to San Jose Giants games on my off days, hung out with aspiring GMs bogged down in A-Ball of Pacific Coast League, made connections everywhere I could, 24 years old with a vision and a dream. Two years of busting my butt and I was 26 years old, still pretty young, just hired my third employee from UCSB, continuing the history of taking care of your own,
but my career seemingly was not taking me to the infield dirt and Mississippi mud that I had longed for in baseball.


I met with my superiors and informed them of the difficult decision I had made to pursue my MBA from San Diego St., which offered a program emphasizing Sports Management. 18 months later I was a free agent with a solid resume and good work experience. 28 years old, I informed the Giants of my desire to come and work for them; they offered me the position of Director of Minor League Marketing.


As I was renting my U-Haul for the trip back home to San Francisco, I got a call. The San Diego Padres, where my friend who was once relegated to GM of a the A-Ball San Jose Giants, had now become the special assistant to the General Manager,
and was being groomed for bigger things. He offered me the position of Assistant Director of Minor League Operations for the San Diego Padres at a $75,000 a year salary. I tell the Giants I cannot except their offer, but they can't accept losing me either and offer me the same position at $85,000.

That is my path and I hope to keep climbing. I enjoy my life because I am around my first love; baseball. My second love, my wife who I met while going to UCSB has a good career and I enjoy the time off that a seasonal sport like baseball allows. I enjoy opening the door to others with the same dream as I had 10 years ago, although I am stressed, because I am speaking to 200 of Coach Ferrer's students tomorrow and I know he is going to bring me down below them, and show them my path to "success." I just hope they understand that the climb to the top does have stops in Peoria, Salem-Keizer, Fresno and Chavez Ravine.



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