Thursday, November 26, 2009

Jon Weber Goes Over To the Dark Side

Well, I wish I had better news for this Thanksgiving day, but the headline says it all. Jon Weber has signed a minor league contract with the Yankees. That means that we may see him at the DBAP next year — in a Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees uniform.

Adam Sobsey broke the story locally this morning and has several apt comments regarding what Jon has meant to the Bulls over the last three years.

We knew something like this was coming after Weber was unable to get a call-up to the Rays in September after a superb season with the Bulls. He soldiered on for Team USA and is, at the moment, doing one heck of a job in the Mexican Pacific League. I had understood that he was going to make a run at playing in Japan and I guess that didn’t work out.

He will be missed, not least by the fine fellows over at Farfaleaux, Foghart, & Bloviate, L.L.C., who have had occasion to speak in Weber’s defense.

And, most obviously, by Watching Durham Bulls Baseball. But next May 10th, at the DBAP, you can bet that we’ll be there ready to dodge any bats thrown our way.

Relatively recent posts on Jon are here, here, and here.

Good luck, Jon. Here’s hoping we see you play in Yankee Stadium some day!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Odd & Ends

There’s enough happening out in the webworld to provide an update.

  • Over at DRaysBay Tommy Rancel has an item about Justin Ruggiano spending some time with a famous “swing mechanic.” Here’s hoping that he discovers something, because last year was really dismal. Given the way the Rays’ outfield is shaping up, however, even if Justin does get on track my guess it won’t be in a Rays uniform.
  • Then there’s Cork Gaines’ “Trade Value Index” over at RaysIndex. Fascinating list with a number of Bulls on it.
  • The writers at RaysProspects have put up their top 30 lists, which gives us something of a heads up regarding those guys down in the Rays system who might be showing up in Durham someday.

Meanwhile, right out at the DBAP, they’ve done a deal for Duke to play some of their home games at the DBAP. Here’s the press release, but better, Adam Sobsey has surfaced over at IndyWeek with his take.

I’ve got to wonder about the wisdom of the deal. The field looked really awful at the end of last year. I listened to the explanations regarding Bermuda germination, temperatures, etc., etc. But just seems to me that it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to add 18 games to the schedule.

For a deeper understanding, take a look at George Habel’s blog.

Seems to me it’s really simple. College students = beer sales. That’s assuming that anyone at Duke is actually interested in their baseball team. Don’t think we’re going to see a “McNallyville” (Duke’s baseball coach) outside the gates of the DBAP any time soon.
  • Charlie Montoyo won the Mike Coolbaugh Award. I have to be honest and say that I’ve never heard of the award before. But since I think Charlie should have been the International League Manager of the Year, maybe this will be at least some recognition of the job that he’s done with the Bulls.
Here’s an update on minor league free agents. In addition to the list I posted earlier add
  • Calvin Medlock
  • Carlos Hernandez
  • Henry Mateo
  • Jon Weber
In other words, just about everyone who isn’t on the Rays’ 40-man is now a free agent.

Speaking of the 40-man, Stacy Long thinks the Rays are running out of slots.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Books & Movies

We can’t go to the DBAP to watch a game.

The World Series is long over.

My Spanish is non-existent so watching erratic streaming video of the Liga Mexican del Pacifico’s Venados de Mazatlan really doesn’t do much for me. So it’s to the bookshelves or Netflix to make in through the winter.

What I thought was that I’d put up really short list and hope you readers will add to it. Here’s the criterion I used for my list — do I plan to read/watch the book/movie again some day?

So, here’s the beginnings of a list to help us through the winter. What can you add? I’ll update this post for a couple of weeks with your additions.


Shoeless Joe. W.P. Kinsella. 1982. ISBN: 9780395957738. The novel that film Field of Dreams was based on. Similar to, but in its way very different from the film.

Baseball: A Literary Anthology. Nicholas Dawidoff (Ed). ISBN: 193108209X. Terrific collection of poems, stories, essays, etc.

The Curious Case of Sidd Finch. George Plimpton. 1987. ISBN: 9780025976504. Based on the famous 1985 Sports Illustrated April Fool’s Day story. Fun read.

The Natural. Bernard Malamud. 1980. ISBN: 978-0809435944. Also made into a well-known film. Book is better.


Bull Durham. Of course. What red-blooded Bulls fan doesn’t have a secret yearning for Susan Sarandon (except for those who go for Kevin Costner -- unfortunately, once seen it’s pretty hard to get the image of those gills he has in Water World out of your head).

Major League. Mostly for the fun of it.

Bang the Drum Slowly. Robert de Niro playing a semi-literate catcher with a terminal illness. What not to like? Note that Netflix categorizes it as a “tear-jerker”.

Field of Dreams. Keeps the heart of the Kinsella novel and a very strong cast.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Free Agents

According to Doug Milhoan over at RaysProspects a bunch of current/potential Durham Bulls have filed for free agency including:

  • Joe Bateman
  • Jason Childers
  • Winston Abreu
  • Julio DePaula
  • Rashad Eldridge
  • Jason Cromer
  • Brandon Chaves

Of course that doesn’t mean they can’t show up in Bulls uniforms next year and there are several (actually all) of these guys I’d like to see back.

Also, Milhoan reports that Chris Richard is on the tryout list for a Japanese baseball team, the Chiba Lotte Marines.

In addition to Richard, Winston Abreu made the short list of one blogger’s speculations regarding Japanese baseball [NPB Tracker]

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Checking In On Jon Weber

Sometimes you just can’t make things up (although I’ve been known to do so).

Encouraged by commenter AmyT (now there’s a serious Jon Weber fan), I went out on a hunt for the website of Jon Weber’s winter league team, Venados de Mazatlan (The Mazatlan Deer) of the Mexican Pacific League. Website found here.

[Note for guys: Serious cheesecake highlights the click-thru for online store]

Jon is doing more than just fine since he showed up down there. He’s played in 7 games (his first was Nov 6) and is leading his team in batting average (.469) and OPS (1.096). He doesn’t yet lead the team in doubles, but he’s got 5 so far. And 10 RBI. Appears to be mostly playing left field.

As Amy noted, you can watch the Venados on streaming video, so I checked it out last night.

First thing I noticed is that the Mexican Pacific League has apparently taken a cue from NASCAR and done some serious decorating of their players’ uniforms. Logos are all over the jerseys, batting helmets, even on trousers.

As it happened, Venados was at bat when I checked in, the 5th inning I think. First batter hit a home run to put them up by a couple of runs. The next batter was Jon.

And here’s where it gets weird.

Please note that it was the first time, ever, that I’ve watched a Mexican League game;

that it is beyond possibility that Weber could possibly know that at 11:33 p.m. EST I’d be checking in on the game;

and yet ...

you guessed it ...

On the the second pitch he threw his bat in the direction of the first base dugout!

Camera followed him as he rubbed down the handle of his bat ...

Gotta get that guy some pine tar!

By the way, he grounded out, short to first on a 2-2 count.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Hernandez to Baltimore; Richard to Free Agency

Rays Index is reporting that Michel Hernandez has signed a minor league deal with Baltimore and that Chris Richard has chosen to become a free agent. My guess is that means we’ll be seeing both of them next year, just not in a Bulls uniform. But maybe, just maybe, the Rays will make Chris a better offer? After all, it’s not as if they’ve got a ton of first basemen coming up through the system.