Dedicated to fans of Long Beach State Dirtbags baseball (well, okay, officially the 49ers).

Dirtbag's 2006 Rankings

15th in ESPN/Sports Weekly
15th in NCBWA
16th in Collegiate Baseball
16th in Baseball America
1st in Non-Conference "Intended" SOS -
21st in Overall "Intended" SOS -

Posted Articles [View Selected Article Only]

Former Dirtbag Adam Heether...

Former Dirtbag Greg Dobbs...

Collegiate Baseball Ranks The Recruiting Classes

Former Dirtbag Jason Vargas Is The #4 Prospect...

Dirtbag Newcomer Brandon Decker Adds Speed


Long Beach State...

Former Dirtbag Jason Vargas...

Former Dirtbag Jeremy Reed May Be Out For The Season

That Dirtbag Attitude In Pre-Dirtbag Days

Gotta Love Good D

On 2nd Thought....

Former Dirtbag Chris Demaria...

Baseball America's Out With Their Transfer List

Pro Fall Ball

The 2006 NCAA Division I Conference Shuffle

Former Dirtbag Brian Anderson Top Closer In Northwest League

Former Dirtbag Caleb Balbuena Is Featured...

Former Dirtbag Greg Dobbs Having Hot September

Former Dirtbag Eddie Davis Lost Home And Business To Hurricane Katrina

Monday Night In The Minor League Playoffs...

Former Dirtbag Bobby Crosby...

Question Of The Day: Is Former Dirtbag John Bowker Actually Roy Hobbs In Disguise?

Former Dirtbag Jeremy Reed...

The San Jose Giants Victory In Game 4...

Over The Weekend In The Minor League Playoffs...

Former Dirtbag Bobby Crosby...

Friday Night In The Minor League Playoffs...

Baseball America Gives Report Card On 2004 Draft...

Hopeful Sign?

Wednesday And Thursday Night In The Minor League Playoffs...

Former Dirtbag Chris Demaria Gets 1st Big League Win...

Learn Something New Every Day...

Former Dirtbag Paul McAnulty...

Former Dirtbag Chris Gomez...

Former Dirtbags Jeremy Reed And Greg Dobbs Doing Their Best To Smash Angels Post Season Hopes

Former Dirtbag Jeremy Reed...

Tuesday Night In The Minor League Playoffs...

Former Dirtbag Bo Ashabraner Returns Home

Monday Night In The Minor League Playoffs...

Sunday In The Minor League Playoffs...

Former Dirtbag Jered Weaver...

More On Former Dirtbag Chris Demaria's MLB Debut...

Saturday Night In The Minor League Playoffs...

Former Dirtbag Paul McAnulty Make 1st Major League Start

Former Dirtbag Chris Demaria Makes Major League Debut

Friday Night In The Minor League Playoffs...

San Jose - Modesto: California League Preview

Former Dirtbag Paul McAnulty Has Convinced The Doubters

Last Night In Minor League Playoffs...

Former Dirtbag Jason Giambi: Comeback Player of the Year?


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Welcome to Dirtbags Baseball blog! I was introduced to Long Beach State baseball in 2002 when my nephew, Neil Jamison, joined the team (and university) as a freshman. I started the blog in March of 2004, and generally discuss the team, current players and those that have moved on to professional baseball - as Neil has done in the San Diego Padres organization. Living in San Diego County, and with Neil moving to the next level, I won't be attending as many Dirtbags games. But, mostly from a distance, I'll remain a Dirtbags fan. I welcome tips on stories and information concerning the Dirtbags (current, past and future). I can be contacted at


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This website is not affiliated with Long Beach State University or its NCAA Division I baseball program. All original material copyright 2004-2006 by Jeffrey A. Agnew.

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Friday, September 30, 2005

Former Dirtbag Adam Heether... featured in this piece in the Modesto Bee:
Catching Up With ...: Heether is moving on up
Former Ripon High, MJC star promoted to Double-A after hitting .305 in Florida


The upside to Adam Heether's 2005 was that he enjoyed a breakout baseball season in the Milwaukee Brewers organization. The downside was that the breakout included two broken bones.

The third baseman, a product of Ripon High and Modesto Junior College, finished 2005 at the Double-A level after hitting his way out of the High-A Florida State League.

Heether, 23, hit .305 with six home runs and 54 RBIs for the Brevard County Manatees (Melbourne, Fla.) to earn a late-season promotion to Huntsville, Ala., where he hit .314 in 14 games.

Suddenly, Heether is on the rise in an organization that certainly could use help at the top. [more].

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Former Dirtbag Greg Dobbs... featured in this piece at
Notes: Dobbs in a groove
Infielder uses stint at Triple-A to rediscover his swing
By Patrick Mooney /

DETROIT -- As the season slowly winds to its conclusion, Greg Dobbs has found his rhythm in September.

Dobbs recently strung together a 10-game hitting streak and is batting .333 (20-for-60) for the month, entering Sunday.

"I've been getting consistent at-bats, which always helps," Dobbs said. "It's definitely helped me feel more comfortable at the plate."

Dobbs made the club out of Spring Training as a bench player but soon discovered how difficult that role can be.

"Pinch-hitting's gotta be one of the toughest things to do in this game," he said.

Dobbs was sent to Triple-A for a few weeks this summer. Seattle manager Mike Hargrove credited Dobbs with shortening his stance during his time in Tacoma.

"He came back swinging the bat well," Hargrove said.

Dobbs indicated his professional education continues in the Seattle clubhouse, absorbing knowledge from fellow left-handed hitters like Dave Hansen and Raul Ibanez.

Dobbs will enter another unconventional classroom this offseason. Dobbs won't play winter ball and instead plans to focus on completing his business degree with online classes. Dobbs, who spent time at the University of Oklahoma, estimated he's six or seven courses away from the degree.
Greg Dobbs played as a junior at Long Beach State in 1999, virtually tied for the Dirtbag lead in batting average that year at .376 (Jaeme Leal, also at .376, was a fraction ahead). He was drafted in the 10th round by the Houston Astros, but did not sign, and instead transferred to the Univ. of Oklahoma. After sitting out the 2000 season, as a 23 year old senior in 2001 he batted .428 (104 hits in 243 AB) in 59 games for Oklahoma - good for 14th best in Division I. Following the season, he signed a free agent contract with the Seattle Mariners.

Collegiate Baseball Ranks The Recruiting Classes

Collegiate Baseball is out with their annual college baseball recruiting class rankings, and they place the Dirtbags 30th. Below are their rankings with the top 40 in order, followed by an additional 42 "other top recruiting classes." There are 5 schools on the 49ers 2006 schedule with recruiting classes ranked higher, and 8 ranked lower (2006 opponents are in red). Here are the rankings:
Collegiate Baseball's 2005 Recruiting Results
(As of Sept. 26, 2005)

Rank Team Recruits Frosh JC Tran.

1. South Carolina 23 13 10 0
2. Arizona St. 13 6 5 2
3. Texas 16 11 2 3
4. Vanderbilt 13 10 2 1
5. Louisiana St. 11 7 3 1
6. Tennessee 18 13 4 1
7. Arizona 9 6 2 1
8. Mississippi 18 13 5 0
9. UCLA 19 14 4 1
10. Florida 12 8 4 0
11. Stanford 11 0 0 0
12. Alabama 12 9 2 1
13. Tulane 12 8 4 0
14. Cal. St. Fullerton 12 7 1 4
15. Miami, Fla. 14 9 4 1
16. San Diego 12 10 1 1
17. Mississippi St. 11 8 3 0
18. Virginia 14 10 3 1
19. Fresno St. 16 10 6 0
20. Oklahoma St. 21 6 14 1
21. Texas Christian 11 7 3 1
22. Texas Tech. 20 9 10 1
23. Georgia Tech. 10 9 1 0
24. Clemson 10 6 3 1
25. Florida St. 15 9 4 2
26. Wichita St. 9 8 1 0
27. Central Michigan 12 8 4 0
28. Washington 14 13 1 0
29. Rice 11 7 1 3
30. Long Beach St. 13 8 4 1
31. North Carolina 9 8 1 0
32. Georgia 18 15 1 2
33. California 11 11 0 0
34. North Carolina St. 11 7 0 4
35. Pepperdine 10 7 1 2
36. Notre Dame 9 9 0 0
37. Central Florida 16 16 0 0
38. Baylor 14 10 3 1
39. Michigan 8 7 0 1
40. Arkansas 17 16 1 0

Other Top Recruiting Classes: Nebraska, College of Charleston, Southern California, Texas A&M, Southern, Auburn, East Carolina, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Memphis, Houston, Ohio St., Oregon St., Penn St., Santa Clara, Georgia Southern, Missouri, Illinois, Wake Forest, Northern Illinois, North Carolina-Wilmington, Oral Roberts, Cincinnati, Lamar, Cal Poly SLO, Minnesota, Louisiana-Monroe, Stetson, Samford, Western Illinois, Cleveland St., Arkansas-Little Rock, Iowa, East Tennessee St., Louisville, Winthrop, Evansville, San Jose St., North Carolina-Greensboro, Washington St., U.C. Irvine, S.W. Missouri St.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Former Dirtbag Jason Vargas Is The #4 Prospect...

...from the Florida State League (Advanced Class A), according to Baseball America. BA has this scouting report (no link, paid subscription area):
4. JASON VARGAS, lhp, Jupiter Hammerheads (Marlins)
Age: 22 Ht: 6-0 Wt: 215 B-T: L-L Drafted/Signed: Marlins '04 (2)

Few players go from pitching in the FSL to making an impact in the major league playoff chase in the span of three months. But for those who saw Vargas pitch in Jupiter, it wasn't a complete surprise.

"If you walk into the stadium late, you can't tell if he's losing 7-0 or winning 7-0. He's a real aggressive kid with a good mound presence," Palm Beach manager Pop Warner said. "He's got a really good idea of how to pitch. He reads swings great and knows how to get guys out, which is why he's in the big leagues."
Pop Warner? Seriously? Yes, indeed!
While Vargas' mental approach and stellar command impressed managers, his stuff also stood out. He sat between 91 and 94 mph with his fastball, showing the ability to add and subtract velocity to keep hitters off balance.

His pitches seemed to pick up a little extra gear as they got close to the plate. His slider could get slurvy, but it was unhittable when it was on and he felt confident throwing it at any point in the count. His changeup is an average offering.
9 9 2 3 0 3.42 55.1 47 24 21 6 14 60 .225

Dirtbag Newcomer Brandon Decker Adds Speed

Decker is a Dirtbag

East County
LONG BEACH -- Granite Hills High [El Cajon] infielder BRANDON DECKER, a two-time member of the All-East County baseball team, has committed to NCAA Division I powerhouse Long Beach State for the 2006 season.

Decker who helped the Eagles gain a share of the Grossmont South League baseball title, batted .389 during the regular season, as Granite Hills (28-6) rattled off 13 consecutive victories to advance to the CIF Division I championship game. For the season, Decker batted .360 and finished fifth in East County with 14 stolen bases. In his junior season, the second baseman batted .430, with 41 runs and 16 steals.

Long Beach State posted an overall record of 37-22 last spring, as the Dirtbags finished one game behind nationally-ranked Cal State Fullerton in the Big West Conference standings.
The San Diego Union-Tribune describes Brandon as an "ideal leadoff hitter". In his junior year, the 5'9", 140# infielder posted a .649 slugging percentage in 114 at bats, hitting 9 doubles, 2 triples, and 4 HR.

Well... looks like former Dirtbag Jeremy Reed won't be out for the rest of the season after all. He was back in the lineup for Seattle last night. Of course, the rest of the season amounts to 5 games for the 67-90 Mariners.

Long Beach State...

...was among 6 southern California colleges (the others were USC, Pepperdine, Northridge, UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo), and scouts for 5 MLB clubs (Colorado Rockies, St. Louis Cardinals, San Diego Padres, Florida Marlins and Houston Astros) to attend "the first Tri-County Baseball Combine last weekend at Ventura College." 70 high school players showcased their abilities in hopes of moving to the next level.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Former Dirtbag Jason Vargas...

...was a hard luck loser last night. Jason, who has lost 4 of his last 6 decisions, and is now 5-5 since being called up on July 14, last night went 7.0 innings and gave up just 1 run. He left the game trailing 1-0, and the Marlins would eventually lose 4-0 to the Nationals. [Box Score]. Jason gave up 5 hits, struck out 4 and walked 2. His season ERA is now 4.09.

The Palm Beach Post, and Marlins Manager Jack McKeon, sum it up:
...The Marlins wasted a solid starting effort from rookie pitcher Jason Vargas, losing 4-0 to the Washington Nationals before 11,467 at Dolphins Stadium. The Marlins have lost four straight and 10-of-12.

"Vargas did a great job," manager Jack McKeon said. "He has a chance to be a good one. Once again, you can't win if you don't score any runs."...
And, oh yeah, he's now batting .308 on the season (8 for 26), with 2 doubles (.385 slugging percentage). Maybe Dontrelle Willis won't be the only pitcher Jack McKeon (or whoever ends up managing the Marlins) moves up to 7th or 8th in the batting order.

Former Dirtbag Jeremy Reed May Be Out For The Season

From the Seattle Times:
Reed ailing

Seattle center fielder Jeremy Reed aggravated an injury to his left wrist and, according to [Mariner's Manager Mike] Hargrove, may not play the rest of the year.

"It's been bothering him for a while, but now it's as bad as it's been all year," Hargrove said. "It's just gotten to the point where we have to shut him down."

Reed jammed his wrist into the center-field wall at Comerica Park when he chased down Chris Shelton's deep fly ball Friday night.

Hargrove said it's something the team will monitor through the last six games of the season...

Saturday, September 24, 2005

That Dirtbag Attitude In Pre-Dirtbag Days

Over at 6-4-2 blog, Rob's got a great piece on Robb Nen, the former San Francisco Giants closer and son of former Long Beach State 49er (and big leaguer) Dick Nen. I won't steal his thunder, give it a read. But this portion of the quote Rob uses really caught my eye:
...This is the closer's moment: Head-to-head with a bruising bat and the game, and the championship, on the line. My stuff against yours, no quarter and no holds barred. This is the time when [Robb] Nen reaches back, not just to the reserves of strength in his arm, and not just to 300-plus saves worth of experience over a 10-year career, but all the way back, to the lessons his dad, former big-leaguer Dick Nen, taught him about always going hard. "He told me, it must have been a thousand times, 'let everything you do show your respect for the game,' " Nen says. " 'Don't cheat yourself, and don't cheat your teammates.' "...
Dick Nen was the first Long Beach State player to make it to the Major Leagues, making his debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers on September 18, 1963. The "Dirtbag Era" began in 1989, but it's clear that Dick Nen's attitude about the game fit the mold.

Gotta Love Good D

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
ASSIST MAN: In a rare start at first base Wednesday, [former Dirtbag] Greg Dobbs tied a Mariners record for first basemen with five assists.

Each time he smothered ground balls and flipped to pitcher Felix Hernandez covering at first. Only Bruce Bochte (1979) and Pete O'Brien (1991) had done that as Mariners. It was an unexpected feat, considering Dobbs is basically a third baseman...

On 2nd Thought....

This from the New York Sun:
Giambi's Talent Shines Through

September 23, 2005

Earlier this year, when he was literally unable to do much of anything on a baseball field other than draw walks, I suggested that [former Dirtbag] Jason Giambi was having possibly the worst season in history for a player with an on-base average above .380, and wrote, not for the first time, that the Yankees should simply release him. Given what was known at the time, I don't think I was wrong to write what I did, but Giambi promptly made a fool of me and everyone else who wrote him off.

In June, despite hitting only one home run, he posted a .310 BA/.431 OBA/.474 SLG line, and then of course in July he had a month for the ages, hitting .355 with 14 home runs and 21 walks. It wasn't a fluke; ever since, he's been more or less the player the Yankees thought they were getting when they signed him after the 2001 season, and, along with Alex Rodriguez and Mariano Rivera, he's been one of the three best players on the team this year. He leads the league in on-base average and has been, per at-bat, every bit as good a hitter as Rodriguez, David Ortiz, or anyone else in the league. It's been remarkable to watch, and even if the Yankees' grasp on first place proves tenuous, Giambi's vindication as a player is complete.
On the season, Jason Giambi is hitting .277, with a .438 OB% and .541 SLG%, comparing well to his career numbers: .295/.413/.540. He's hit 30 HR, and has 80 RBI. Probably reflecting his early season troubles, he has struck out at the rate of 1 per 3.83 AB, compared to his career at 1:5.05.

Former Dirtbag Chris Demaria...

...had his best outing Thursday night since being called up by the Kansas City Royals, pitching 2.0 scoreless innings, striking out 4, and allowing 1 hit. [Box Score]. In the process, Chris lowered his ERA from 6.23 to 4.26. Since arriving with the Royals, he's gone 6.1 innings, striking out 10, walking just 2, and allowing 8 hits.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Baseball America's Out With Their Transfer List

According to BA, shortstop Donnie Ecker is leaving Long Beach State for Santa Clara. You could almost call that one a trade, as outfielder Robert Perry is leaving Santa Clara to join the Dirtbags. Baseball America also erroneously lists left handed pitcher Hunter Hewitt as transferring in from the Univ. of Kentucky to Long Beach State. Hunter graduated from Trinity High School in Louisville, Kentucky in June, so he's an incoming freshman.

Perry, who will be a junior, is included in my fall preview. Here's his stats with Santa Clara last season:
.324 32-31 108 27 35 11 1 4 19 60 .556 17 4 12 .427 7-8 63 3 1 .985
The only Dirtbag to steal more bases than Robert last season was Evan Longoria, who swiped 10 in 11 attempts. His slugging percentage would have placed him 2nd only to Troy Tulowitzki. He would have been 3rd in doubles and homers, and tied for 2nd in triples. His 17 walks would have placed him 1st on the Dirtbags, remarkably achieved in just 108 at bats due to a finger injury (Chris Jones would have been 2nd, with 15 in 172 AB). Robert would also have come in 3rd in on base percentage. Given the 49ers offense last season (out of 284 D-I schools, 263rd in runs scored [4.5/game], 231st in slugging [.375], and 165th in batting average [.284]), a few more bats with average and power are needed. It sure looks like welcoming Robert Perry aboard will be a move in the right direction.

Pro Fall Ball

Here are those former Dirtbags invited to either the Arizona Fall League (AFL), or Fall Instructional League (FIL) - Arizona or Florida:

September 21, 2005

Jered Weaver (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) and Chris Demaria (Kansas City Royals) are on the roster of the Surprise Scorpions in the AFL. I don't know whether Chris' callup to the Royals will affect his joining the Scorpions. Update: As of right now, Chris is still on for the AFL.

Neil Jamison (San Diego Padres), and John Bowker (San Francisco Giants) are in FIL in Arizona.

Update: Chris Jones (Pittsburg Pirates) is heading to the FIL in Florida tomorrow. Troy Tulowitzki (Colorado Rockies) and Steve Hammond (Milwaukee Brewers) left last week for the FIL in Arizona.

September 22, 2005

Update: Brian Anderson (San Francisco Giants) is also in Arizona for Instructional League. As is Cody Evans (Arizona Diamondbacks). The Florida Marlins don't participate in Instructional League, they do a winter camp instead - where Brad Davis is now.

Hat tips to readers Kelly, Gary, Richard, Gayle, Al and Gloria for emailing me the update information.

Instructional League information is difficult to come by on the web. I'm sure there are others going to instructional ball, and I'll update this post - and bump it to the top - as I learn of them. Drop me an email ( if you know of someone I've missed.

posted on 9/22/2005 by Jeff Agnew

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The 2006 NCAA Division I Conference Shuffle

College Baseball News and Notes blog has a nice summation of the Division I baseball conference changes. Of the top 6 conferences in baseball RPI for 2005 (according to Boyd's World, in order: SEC, Big XII, ACC, Pac10, Big West and Conf. USA), only 2 will have changes.

The Atlantic Coast Conference will expand to its full (until they decide to change it again) complement of 12 teams with the addition of Boston College. BC was 71st in RPI for 2005, which would have put them 8th in the conference (ACC RPIs for 2005: Georgia Tech 6, Clemson 7, Miami 8, North Carolina 16, NC State 18, Florida State 26, Virginia 34, Wake Forest 75, Virginia Tech 124, Maryland 135 and Duke 195). The addition of Boston College marginally improves the ACC, but not as much as losing the 3 bottom dwellers would have. I know, football, basketball, $$$.

The really big changes are coming to Conference USA. CBN&N lays out the C-USA ins and outs: "Conference USA (9) -- OUT: Charlotte, Cincinnati, Louisville, St. Louis, South Florida, TCU; IN: Central Florida, Marshall, Rice." The average 2005 RPI for the exiting schools was 138.8. TCU (33), South Florida (65) and Louisville (73) were good to decent, but NC-Charlotte (138), Cincinnati (171) and St. Louis (214) were real anchors. Marshall (201) isn't going to help, but Central Florida (41) and especially Rice (14) are great additions. The 12 teams in the 2005 C-USA had an average RPI of 95.25, even with Tulane at #2, and the top 5 teams at 56th or better. The 9 teams for 2006 had an average 2005 RPI of 78.33. And if you toss out the 2 worst teams (Marshall at 201, and Memphis at 222) the average 2005 RPI is 40.29. For comparison, the average in 2005 in the Big West was 77.25, and tossing out the 2 worst (CS Northridge at 177 and Pacific at 113) yields an average of 54.66.

Bottom line: Conference USA is going to be a much better, and unless the Big West improves we may find C-USA ahead in conference RPI in 2006. That may not bode well for the BWC to secure 3rd and 4th Regional bids.

Former Dirtbag Brian Anderson Top Closer In Northwest League

John Sickels (Minor League Ball) notes that Brian Anderson was the top closer in the Northwest League this season, with these comments:
Brian Anderson of Salem-Keizer led the circuit with 19 saves, posted a 1.95 ERA, and racked up an impressive 42/3 K/BB in 28 innings.

Former Dirtbag Caleb Balbuena Is Featured... the Sonora Union Democrat:
"Avoid fried meats, which angry up the blood." That's Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Satchel Paige's advice on how to stay young.

In 1948, on his 42nd birthday, Paige - a longtime star in the Negro Leagues before the color barrier was broken in 1947 - became the oldest player to make his major league debut.

Tuolumne's 28-year-old Caleb Balbuena hopes to get there sooner. He was by far the oldest player on the roster of the Class A Modesto Nuts this year, but that made no difference to him.

The Summerville High School graduate feels better on the mound than ever before. As a Nuts reliever this season, he felt every bit as energetic as in his rookie year at the turn of the Millenium. And he still dreams of the big leagues like a 6-year-old putting on his first Yankees jersey.

His pitching line speaks for him: A 2-0 record and a 2.65 earned-run-average with a 15-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 17 innings. The Nuts made the North Division championship series, but were swept by the San Jose Giants.

"I had a good outing," said Balbuena, who was signed by the Colorado Rockies' organization in August and sent to their Class A farm team. "I was very happy with my performance, coming into the organization from independent ball and being a little bit older.

"Maybe I'll get a big league invite."

Balbuena, a 6-foot-7, 255-pound right-hander, said his age worked to his advantage. While getting upset about off-days a few years ago, he now learned to accept them.

"I'm recognizing now that I don't feel good every day," Balbuena said. "One day I hit the fastball location and one day I may hit the backstop. Pitching is 80 percent mental."

Balbuena learned how to utilize his entire repertoire: fastball (two-and-four seamer), curve and slider.

He wants to play winter ball either in Mexico or the Dominican Republic to stay sharp during offseason. If that doesn't work out, he'll practice at a throwing school in the Los Angeles area and hopefully join a major league camp for spring training.

His former coach at California State University, Long Beach, Dave Snow, who now works as a Rockies scouting consultant, thinks it's possible Balbuena will play at a higher level next year.

"He put himself in a good position," Snow said. "I talked to him after the season ended and we had a very upbeat conversation. He feels good about the way he performed, especially in the playoffs."

Balbuena played baseball and basketball for Summerville and competed at Modesto Junior College, Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo and Long Beach State. After helping the 49ers reach the College World Series in 1998, Balbuena moved around in the minor league system, playing on six farm teams in California, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Missouri. He pitched for the Kansas City T-Bones, an independent team, before coming to Modesto.

He left the T-Bones with a 2.45 ERA and remained solid for the Nuts, striking out six batters in three playoff innings in Game 2 of the Giants series.

"I've never struck out that many guys in three innings before," he said. "I felt good and I felt confident."

His father Phil noticed that, too. He attended many Nuts home games and even traveled to away games in Stockton and San Bernardino to see his son in action.

"His mental game has improved outrageously," Phil said. "The heat is still there but he knows he doesn't have to throw it all the time. His arm his healed and he's putting it all together now."

A few years ago, while playing for a minor league team in Pennsylvania, Balbuena injured a tendon in his throwing arm and underwent ulnar collateral ligament construction, also known as Tommy John surgery (a tendon from wrist or hamstring is implanted in the elbow).

The procedure went well and Balbuena used the break to overhaul his throwing mechanics. It put less stress on his arm and added another 5 to 7 mph to his fastball.

"If I keep putting up zeros, I'll have a job within an organization," Balbuena said visioning the majors. "It doesn't matter what city."

posted on 9/21/2005 by Jeff Agnew

Former Dirtbag Greg Dobbs Having Hot September

In September, [former Dirtbag Greg] Dobbs has been hitting at a .341 clip. He is now batting .255 after entering the month with just a .197 average.

[Seattle manager Mike] Hargrove has taken notice of the improvements Dobbs has made since he rejoined the big league club in late August.

"[Dobbs'] swing is a little more controlled and I don't mean he's swinging less hard," Hargrove said. "He's keeping the ball in the middle of the field and not looking to pull everything."

After his struggles at the beginning of the season, the Mariners optioned Dobbs to Triple-A Tacoma on June 16.

"When he was here last, he got to where he was trying to pull everything and doing a lot of things mechancially wrong at the plate," Hargrove said. "He came back and he got out of that, which was what we wanted to have happen."

The recent adjustments that Dobbs has made paid off in Monday's win over the Blue Jays. Dobbs pinch-hit in the ninth inning and led off with a single to center field. Four batters later, Richie Sexson hit the game-deciding grand slam.

"Everybody loves the Sexson grand slam, but if Dobbs doesn't get on," Hargrove said. "I don't know if we get to Richie. That was a big hit."

posted on 9/21/2005 by Jeff Agnew

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Former Dirtbag Eddie Davis Lost Home And Business To Hurricane Katrina

Dirtbags Look to Help Former Player Eddie Davis
College World Series Player Eddie Davis' Family Devastated by Hurricane Katrina

September 19, 2005

LONG BEACH, CA-- Dirtbags helping Dirtbags. It's been that way since Dave Snow came to campus in 1989, and it continues today as current Head Coach Mike Weathers and Snow have sent a letter out to former Dirtbag players to help former player Eddie Davis, whose home and business were lost because of Hurricane Katrina.

Davis, who played for the Dirtbags during the team's return trip to Omaha in 1993, was living in New Orleans with his wife and four-year old son when the Hurricane hit and safely evacuated to Houston. Though is family is safe, Davis lost his home, communications business and most of their belongs. Davis also established a baseball academy in the city, which is also on hold as he has relocated to Dallas, TX.

Fans will remember Davis most notably for his pinch-hit, two-run homer against eventual National Champion LSU in the College World Series, as the Dirtbags came back with five runs in the seventh and eighth innings to defeat the Tigers 10-8 on June 9, 1993. Davis then signed with the Dodgers following the season.

Players and fans who would like to help out Davis can send money directly to Eddie at: 4300 Horizon North Parkway #423, Dallas, TX 75287. He will be in Dallas at least for the next couple of months.
Eddie also started against LSU in the '93 World Series on June 11. The Dirtbags lost the game 6-5, and were eliminated. Davis went 1 for 5, scored a run, and had 2 RBI. He was drafted by the Dodgers in the 23rd round (634th overall) in 1993.

Monday Night In The Minor League Playoffs...

...the San Jose Giants won the California League (Advanced Class A) title, beating the Lake Elsinore Storm in game 5, 3-1. [Box Score]. Todd Jennings went 0 for 3, and John Bowker did not play. In the series, John was 4 for 11 (.364), including a homer and a double. He slugged at .727. Todd had a tougher series, going 3 for 17 (.176) and slugging at .294.

The Giants scored all 3 runs in the 7th inning off Storm closer Matt Varner. Varner, who pitched most of the season for the Fort Wayne Wizards (low Class A Midwest League), was 2nd in the affiliated minor leagues in saves during 2005, at 34 (tied with Chris Mobley of the Greensboro Grasshoppers in the low Class A South Atlantic League, and 1 behind Mark Worrell of the Palm Beach Cardinals in the Advanced Class A Florida State League).

All former Dirtbags have now concluded minor league play for 2005.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Former Dirtbag Bobby Crosby...

...has, indeed, been activated from the 15-day Disabled List. (The linked page is constantly updated with new transactions).

Update (9-20-05): Bobby Crosby was in the Oakland A's starting lineup last night, and went 0 for 2 with a walk, and scored a run.

Question Of The Day: Is Former Dirtbag John Bowker Actually Roy Hobbs In Disguise?

Remember the scene in The Natural when the character played by Robert Redford, Roy Hobbs, smashes a homer that breaks the scoreboard (actually, turns it into fireworks!). Fast forward to yesterday: when John Bowker led off the 3rd inning with a shot over the fence, the ball hit the San Jose Giants' scoreboard and broke it! At least the part that displays the balls and strikes on the batter at the plate. The San Jose Mercury News has this recap:
Following San Jose's 8-7 victory over Lake Elsinore on Sunday at Municipal Stadium, so much favors the Giants heading into today's decisive Game 5 of the California League championship series.

The Giants have the momentum after back-to-back, back-to-the-wall wins over the Storm. They have home-field advantage, which so far has meant everything in this series. And they have the hot bats and the hot arms and haven't trailed the Storm at Municipal Stadium.

What the Giants don't have is a fully functioning scoreboard. In a symbol of how dramatically this series turned over the weekend, John Bowker broke the balls and strikes lights when he crushed a line drive home run off of it in the third inning. [more].
On the subject of The Natural, I ran across this on the scoreboard scene (from the Internet Movie Data Base):
Three of the events in the movie are taken from real life incidents: The shooting of Hobbs was suggested by the 1949 shooting of Ed Waitkus by Ruth Ann Steinhagen, a 19-year-old obsessed fan. (She was judged insane and was released from an asylum after just three years.) Wonderboy was inspired by Caroliny, Shoeless Joe Jackson's special bat, which also was from a tree that had been hit by lightning. Hobbs breaking the scoreboard with a home run is taken from the May 30, 1946 hit by Bama Rowell of the Boston Braves, who broke the Ebbets Field scoreboard when he hit a double, showering Dixie Walker with glass. Though he'd been promised a free watch by Bulova for hitting the company's scoreboard sign, Rowell never actually got it until 1987.

posted on 9/19/2005 by Jeff Agnew

Former Dirtbag Jeremy Reed... featured here at

The San Jose Giants Victory In Game 4...

...of the California League Championship series is featured here, at
Giants win again, force Game 5
Timpner drives in four runs, Bowker adds two RBIs
By Eric Justic /

One game will decide the California League Championship Series, thanks to San Jose's 8-7 victory over Lake Elsinore in Game 4 on Sunday at Municipal Stadium.

The Giants fought off elimination for the second night in a row to even the series at 2-2. They avoided a sweep Saturday with a 9-3 triumph.

San Jose won Game 4 by defeating a starter against which it had success during the regular season. Arturo Lopez possessed a 14.73 ERA against the Giants after surrendering six runs in 3 2/3 innings on Aug. 4.

The Giants solved Lopez in this one by scoring five runs in the fourth to build a 7-1 lead. After San Jose loaded the bases on Brian Horwitz's single, Nate Schierholtz's double and a walk to Todd Jennings, John Bowker delivered a two-run single [actually, a 1-run single]. Lopez picked up two quick outs but walked in a run before Clay Timpner clubbed a three-run triple.

Lopez was strong early, needing just 12 pitches to get through two perfect frames. But Bowker crushed the southpaw's first offering in the third off the right field scoreboard and knocking out the lights to signal balls and strikes.

Guillermo Rodriguez followed with a double and Jake Wald hit a fly ball to right fielder Jordan Pickens. Pickens stumbled trying to make the catch as Wald was given a double. Two batters later, Rodriguez scored on Timpner's groundout to give San Jose a 2-0 lead.

Rodriguez also hit a solo homer in the sixth, while Bowker and Horwitz collected three hits apiece.

Lopez (0-1) was charged with seven runs on eight hits and two walks with two strikeouts in five-plus innings.

San Jose starter Jonathan Sanchez (1-0) worked five strong innings for the win, yielding one run on three hits and two walks with six strikeouts. He loaded the bases in the second without allowing a hit, then worked out of trouble.

Colt Morton reached on Jennings' error at third base and Sanchez issued back-to-back four-pitch walks to Juan Ciriaco and Brett Bonvechio. But the left-hander escaped by fanning Andres Pagan and Drew Macias.

Lake Elsinore broke up the no-hitter and the shutout in the fourth on doubles by Pickens and Bonvechio.

The Giants bullpen barely held onto the lead over the final four innings. The Storm rallied for four runs in the sixth as Ciriaco cracked a two-run single and Macias delivered a two-run double. With two outs and two on, Michael Johnson fouled out.

Bonvechio crushed a two-run homer off Joe Bateman with two outs in the ninth to get the Storm within 8-7. But Giants first baseman Pat Dobson reached into the dugout to snare Ciriaco's pop-up as Bateman registered his first save.

The decisive fifth game is at 10 p.m. ET on Monday in San Jose.

Over The Weekend In The Minor League Playoffs...

...the San Jose Giants won games 3 [9-3, Box Score] and 4 [8-7, Box Score], to force a 5th and deciding game tonight in San Jose against the Lake Elsinore Storm in the Advanced Class A California League Championship series. John Bowker exploded yesterday, going 3 for 4, including a 3rd inning leadoff homerun. John also scored 2 runs, and had 2 RBI. Todd Jennings had a rough game, committing 2 errors and going 0 for 3 with a walk, and scoring a run. On Saturday, Todd was 1 for 4, and John did not play.

...the Gary Southshore RailCats won the independent Northern League Championship by victories in game 4 [12-4, Box Score] and 5 [2-1, Box Score] against the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks. Saturday, Curt Lee went 1 for 4, and scored a run. Yesterday, he was 1 for 2, and drew a walk. Here's the story at the Northern League website.

Former Dirtbag Bobby Crosby...

...may return to the Oakland A's lineup by Wednesday following the ankle injury that put him of the DL. Perhaps as early as today. Bobby hit in the batting cage on Friday.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Friday Night In The Minor League Playoffs...

...I watched the San Jose Giants fall to 0-2 in the best of 5 California League Championship series to the Lake Elsinore Storm at the Diamond in Lake Elsinore, by a score of 4-1. [Box Score]. San Jose's former Dirtbags had tough games. Todd Jennings was 0 for 4, and John Bowker 0 for 3 - and both struck out twice. But they weren't alone as Storm starter Eddie Bonine pitched a masterful game, going 8.1 innings, striking out 9, walking none and allowing just 1 run on 2 hits. And that run was not scored until the 9th inning, after he was pulled following a 1 out single. He consistently pitched in the low 90s, low and on the corners, with a lot of movement.

The big hit in the game was a shot by Lake Elsinore catcher Colt Morton, good for a solo homerun leading off the 2nd inning. He absolutely crushed the ball over the left field fence, hitting within a foot of the top of the 30 foot scoreboard.

San Jose had a shot in the 9th, as Storm reliever Leonel Rosales allowed a triple (scoring the runner he inherited from Bonine) and a walk, putting runners at the corners with 1 out. Representing the tying run, Giants' DH Brian Buscher struck out swinging, followed by Todd Jennings, who popped up foul to 1st base to end the game. The series now moves to San Jose, with game 3 set for 5:00 p.m. this afternoon.

...the Arkansas Travelers run ended last night with a 6-5 loss to Midland, which won the AA Texas League crown. [Box Score]. Former Dirtbag Kasey Olenberger started for the Travelers and pitched quite well, going 6.0 innings, striking out 7, walking 1, and allowing just 1 run on 7 hits. But then the bullpen collapsed, allowing 4 runs in the 7th and another in the 8th. the independent Northern League Championship series, former Dirtbag Curt Lee's Gary Southshore RailCats beat Fargo-Moorhead 7-3. [Box Score]. Gary now trails in the best of 5 series 2-1. Curt was 0 for 3, but drew a walk,

Friday, September 16, 2005

Baseball America Gives Report Card On 2004 Draft...
The most successful players from the draft class of 2004--so far--have been two guys who weren't even first-round picks: Huston Street, who went 40th overall to the Athletics, and Jason Vargas, who went 68th overall to the Marlins. Most of the first-rounders are making slower but steady progress toward the big leagues, with the exception of a few fast movers such as Justin Verlander. And the inevitable injury bug has already struck a few players as well, most notably Philip Humber.

...12. Angels: Jered Weaver, rhp, Long Beach State U., $4,000,000, Double-A
Didn't take him long to knock off the rust after finally signing in May...

Hopeful Sign?

From the Oakland A's website:
...Shortstop Bobby Crosby (fractured ankle) worked out on a treadmill Thursday under the supervision of strength coach Clarence Cockrell. "Clarence was positive," Macha said, adding that there remains no timetable for Crosby's return...

Wednesday And Thursday Night In The Minor League Playoffs...

...the only action involving former Dirtbags on Wednesday was in the independent Northern League title series involving Curt Lee's Gary Southshore RailCats and Fargo-Moorhead. Gary lost 5-4 to go down 0-2 in the best of 5 series. [Box Score]. Curt was 0 for 4 in the game. Yesterday was a travel day, and the series resumes this evening.

...Jered Weaver started for the AA Texas League Arkansas Travelers last night against Midland. Arkansas entered the game down 2 games to none in the best of 5 series for the Texas League title, so each game is do or die. Last night the Travs lived to play another game tonight, besting Midland 4-3. [Box Score]. Jered pitched 7.0 strong innings, but left the game trailing 3-2. He gave up 6 hits, including 2 homeruns, struck out 7, walked 2, and allowed 3 earned runs. Arkansas scored 2 in the bottom of the 8th to secure the victory. Kasey Olenberger did not pitch.

...the Advanced Class A California League title series got under way last night at Lake Elsinore, with the Storm hosting Todd Jennings' and John Bowkers' San Jose Giants. Lake Elsinore took game 1 of the best of 5 series, 7-4. [Box Score]. Todd had 2 doubles in 3 at bats (plus a walk), scored a run, and had an RBI, starting at 3rd. John started in right field and had a double in 4 at bats, drew a walk, and also drove in 1.
Update: I saw this at after I put up this post: "After the umpires called [Todd] Jennings out in the ninth, the Giants' third baseman twice charged at the crew chief Jason Milsap and hurled his batting helmet halfway across the field before he and pitching coach Trevor Wilson were ejected from the game. Jennings, who had two doubles on the night, may face a suspension for his actions."
I'll be at the game in Lake Elsinore tonight. It's about 3:00 p.m. as I post this, I just called the ticket office and there are plenty of tickets left. You can order by phone at 951:245-4487, or online here. After tonight, the series moves north to San Jose. This will be my 1st trip The Diamond (pictured left) at Lake Elsinore, though I've talked to several friends and relatives who have been and given rave reviews. The Storm website gives this description:
The Diamond is a state-of-the-art baseball park that is continually voted as one of the finest parks in all of Minor League Baseball. The park has 6,066 fixed seats, luxury suites and a grass berm seating area on the right field line - allowing over 8,000 fans to take in a night or afternoon of Storm baseball.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Former Dirtbag Chris Demaria Gets 1st Big League Win...

...and he was kinda jazzed about it (from the Kansas City Royals website):
...The chief beneficiary was rookie pitcher Chris Demaria, who got his first Major League victory in just his third game since being promoted from Double-A Wichita. He worked a scoreless ninth.

Demaria was so excited after the ninth-inning comeback that he broke into a victory dance. Naturally, his teammates immediately began calling him "The Dancing Machine."

"I was so happy I just broke out into a dance. It was an appropriate time," he said. "It was as exciting as it gets."

Demaria, in the ninth, got Dye on a ground ball before walking Juan Uribe. Then he started a double play on Chris Widger's comeback tap, with Berroa making an acrobatic leap on the pivot to avoid the incoming Uribe...
In 2.1 innings pitched, over 3 appearances, Chris has allowed 2 hits, 1 run, struck out 2 while walking 1. He is 1-0 with a 3.85 ERA.

Learn Something New Every Day...

...or close to it. This horrible story out of Toronto (from the Providence Journal) points out another baseball rule I'd never heard of:
Red Sox Notebook: Torn Achilles ends Kapler's season

10:16 AM EDT on Thursday, September 15, 2005

Journal Sports Writer

TORONTO -- A bizarre and season-ending injury to Gabe Kapler in the fifth inning last night led to a true baseball rarity -- use of a pinch-runner in the middle of a play.

Kapler was on base via an error by Toronto third baseman Corey Koskie when Tony Graffanino belted a home run over the left field fence. But as Kapler rounded second base, he tripped on the seam of the artificial turf and went sprawling to the basepath, in obvious pain, having ruptured his left Achilles tendon.

Graffanino, approaching second in his home run trot, slowed and stopped at second base bag, careful not to pass Kapler and be called out. As Kapler lay motionless on the turf, unable to get up without help, the Red Sox training staff and manager Terry Francona raced out to attend to him.

As play came to a standstill, Francona conferred with the umpires and after some discussion, the Sox summoned Alejandro Machado from the dugout. Machado ran to the point between second and third where Kapler remained on the ground, then broke into a home run trot, followed in short order by Graffanino.
Okay, I don't feel so bad. It sounds like Francona and the umps weren't too quick to figure out what the rule is either.
Rule 5-10 (C) specifically allows for pinchrunners in such instances.

Kapler, unable to stand without help, was placed on a cart and driven off the field, joined by trainer Jim Rowe. He was scheduled to fly home with the club late last night and be re-evaluated today.

"When he fell," said Francona, "I thought he was going to get right up. I got to the top step (of the dugout) and I didn't go out. But the second I went out there, I knew it wasn't good."

Kapler told Francona he felt like someone had struck him with the baseball.

It can take as long as a year to recover from surgery to repair the ruptured Achilles, though some pro athletes have been able to come back in six months time.

"I have no idea," said Kapler. "I haven't had the chance to (think about the recovery). But it's going to be a while before I can help my teammates. . . . It's going to be a challenge. This whole season has been a challenge."

Kapler said it was "embarrassing" to not complete the run around the bases.

"I would have liked to," he said.

Machado remained in the game in center, making his second appearance there. An infielder, Machado had played center as a late-inning defensive substitute when the Sox pinch-hit for Kapler.

Standing with the aid of crutches, Kapler said, "I don't feel an ounce of pain -- not one tiny little bit."

That likely was the result of nerve being cut in the area.
Rule 5.10 states:
The ball becomes dead when an umpire calls "Time." The umpire in chief shall call "Time": ... (c) When an accident incapacitates a player or an umpire; (1) If an accident to a runner is such as to prevent him from proceeding to a base to which he is entitled, as on a home run hit out of the playing field, or an award of one or more bases, a substitute runner shall be permitted to complete the play.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Former Dirtbag Paul McAnulty... the AA Mobile BayBears Player of the Year. This from
The Mobile BayBears handed out their team awards on Tuesday with five players earning honors and one executive.

The winners are usually announced at the final home game of the season, but they were canceleddue to Hurricane Katrina.

Outfielder-first baseman Paul McAnulty was named player of the year for 2005...

McAnulty, now in his second stint of the season with the parent San Diego Padres, hit .282 for the BayBears with 10 home runs and 42 RBIs in 79 games.

Former Dirtbag Chris Gomez...

...has signed a contract extension with the Baltimore Orioles. Chris, who played at Long Beach State in 1992, was rumored to be on the trading block this summer. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has this:
Infielder Chris Gomez and the Baltimore Orioles agreed Tuesday to a $850,000, one-year contract extension through 2006.

Gomez has started at all four infield positions this season. He entered play Tuesday with a .283 average, one homer and 17 RBIs.

His 2005 contract also called for him to make $850,000, and he earned a $50,000 bonus for appearing in 60 games. He began Tuesday needing four more games to earn another $50,000.

Gomez's new deal allows him to make about $250,000 in bonuses.

Former Dirtbags Jeremy Reed And Greg Dobbs Doing Their Best To Smash Angels Post Season Hopes

After last night, the Oakland A's trail the L.A. Angels of Anaheim (ummm, the team formerly known as the Anaheim Angels...and uhh, the California Angels) by just 1 games. As reader Rhonda points out, in no small part due to the exploits of Jeremy Reed and Greg Dobbs, who led thier Seattle Mariners to a 2-1 victory over the Angels last night. From
Superb Franklin helps Mariners prevail
Dobbs' game-winning single caps duel with Angels
By Jim Street /

SEATTLE -- The five-man infield the Angels used against the Mariners in the ninth inning on Tuesday night worked out great for the team trying to widen its lead in the American League West.

But the Mariners had just enough outs remaining to overcome the unusual defense, which produced a double play and kept the winning run at third base. The decisive blow came two batters later, when Greg Dobbs delivered a walk-off single to center field, scoring Jeremy Reed for a 2-1 Mariners victory before 28,803 at Safeco Field.

It was the Mariners' second consecutive win to open the three-game series.

"We want to compete and show people we can play," Reed said. "We are not giving up."...

The bottom of the ninth inning started when Reed pushed a bunt past Byrd and beat out a single. Raul Ibanez dumped a single into right-center, putting runners on first and third with nobody out.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia replaced center fielder Steve Finley with infielder Maicer Izturis, and stationed him on the first-base side of second. So, the Angels had five infielders staring at Richie Sexson when he came to bat.

Right-handed reliever Scot Shields, who had just replaced Byrd, induced Sexson to hit into a 4-8-3 double play.

"You don't see that very often," Hargrove said of the five-man infield, "but I have seen it work. What do you have to lose?"

While the Angels turned two, Reed remained at third base.

Hargrove explained that if there had been one out, or it was earlier in the game, Reed might have been instructed by third-base coach Carlos Garcia to run on contact to prevent the opposition from trying to pulling off a double play.

But with none out, Reed was told to make sure the ball went through the infield.

"It was late in the game, and that was the winning run," Hargrove said. "If he stays on third base, there are a lot of ways he can score other than a base hit."

Reed said he never had seen a five-man infield before, and the thought of trying to score the game-winning run "crossed my mind, but I had to let the ball go through right there. If I run, they have an opportunity to step on second and throw me out."

The play worked for the Angels, but Scioscia decided to walk Beltre intentionally and face Dobbs -- a rookie with far less experience.

After Beltre took second base uncontested, Dobbs lined his walk-off single into center field.

"I can't say that I blame [Scioscia]," Hargrove said. "In that situation, I would rather pitch to Greg Dobbs than Adrian Beltre. But if Dobber keeps coming through like that, they probably will stop doing that."

Dobbs was mobbed at first base by his teammates.

"You've got to have positive thoughts in that situation," he said. "I was looking for something that I can put a good swing on."

Dobbs did just that, and the Angels were foiled by another Mariners rookie.

"We have a lot of young guys who are getting playing time, and we're trying to strive to make the club next year," Reed said. "We have to keep plugging away and try to win every game we can."

posted on 9/14/2005 by Jeff Agnew

Former Dirtbag Jeremy Reed... in the running for a gold glove. Thanks to reader Rhonda for pointing me to this story:
Notes: Reed making case for hardware
Reliability, flashy 'D' in center yield Gold Glove hopes
By Jim Street /

SEATTLE -- Mariners center fielder Jeremy Reed keeps making catches that would tend to make him a strong candidate for a Gold Glove Award this season.

He has made diving catches running to his right, left and straight ahead. He has run into fences and slid belly first on warning tracks to rob opposing hitters of base hits.

"I feel like I have made some pretty decent plays," Reed said on Tuesday, "and I would love to have something positive like a Gold Glove to come out of this year. But I don't know how they decide who wins them."

Major League managers and coaches vote for the awards, which go to the best defender at catcher, pitcher, first base, second base, shortstop and third base. Three outfielders also are selected, but not a left fielder, center fielder and right fielder, per se.

"I don't know if there is anyone in the American League who has played the position better than Jeremy," Mariners manager Mike Hargrove said. "He certainly has played well for us."

Going into Tuesday night's game against the Angels, Reed had made three errors in 374 total chances, a .982 fielding percentage, and had five assists. [more].

posted on 9/14/2005 by Jeff Agnew

Tuesday Night In The Minor League Playoffs...

...the San Jose Giants (Todd Jennings and John Bowker) were idle. Their best of 5 series for the California League title begins tomorrow night in Lake Elsinore (with game 2 in Lake Elsinore before the series moves north). Want to go? Order tickets here.

...the Arkansas Travelers fell behind 2 games to none in the best of 5 series against Midland. From the Travelers website:
The Texas League Championship resumes on Thursday after taking Wednesday to travel to Little Rock. Game three will be played at Ray Winder Field with the Travs sending RHP Jered Weaver (3-3, 3.98 ERA regular season, 1-0, 4.50 ERA post season) against Midland RHP Brad Ziegler (2-1, 6.86 ERA regular season, 1-0, 3.60 ERA post season).
Kasey Olenberger has not yet pitched in the series.

...Curt Lee was 1 for 3, with an RBI, in the opening game of his Gary Southshore RailCats Northern League (independent) title series against Fargo-Moorhead. [Box Score]. Game 2 of the best of 5 series is at Fargo-Moorhead again today, with the series resuming in Gary on Friday.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Former Dirtbag Bo Ashabraner Returns Home

Bo Ashabraner graduated from Esperanza High School in Anaheim in 1999, where he was a right handed pitcher. He was drafted in the 46th round (1,359th overall) by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, but chose instead to pitch for the Dirtbags. His junior and senior year stats (2002 & 2003) at Long Beach State (courtesy of Boyd's World) were:
2002 2.79 0 0 7 1 0 0 9.2 11 6 3 3 7 2 0 0 41 .268 3 3 0
2003 2.51 1 3 17 0 0 1 32.1 23 9 9 16 35 7 1 2 114 .202 5 4 2
Overall, Bo appeared in 53 games during his Dirtbags career, going 2-4 with a 3.11 ERA, and striking out 83 in 84 innings pitched. In his freshman year (2000), he was limited to 7 games, the result of a foot injury. As a sophomore (2001), Bo pitched in 22 games, going 1-0 with a 3.38 ERA. He missed the 1st half of his junior year after off-season elbow surgery.

In 2003, Bo was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in the 8th round, 228th overall. He signed with the Indians June 12, 2003, and was assigned to the Burlington Indians in the rookie level Appalachian League. Bo went 2-1 with a 6.06 ERA over 16.1 innings, and saved 2 games. He struck out 18 while walking 7, and opponents batted .294. In 2004, with the Lake County Captains in the low Class A South Atlantic League, Bo had a good season. He appeared in 28 games (46.2 innings), going 5-2 with 3 saves and a 2.70 ERA. He allowed 42 hits, struck out 49 and walked just 11. Opponents batted only .235 against him. But the injury bug bit again, and Ashabraner spent most of the 2005 season on the disabled list. He was reinstated from the DL onto the Captains roster on May 5, and pitched 7.2 innings over 7 games through May 21, posting a 7.04 ERA with 2 saves, striking out 3, giving up 8 hits, and walking 5. On May 21, he was released by the Indians.

Yesterday I got an email from reader Gail (hat tip) that Bo Ashabraner is now the varsity baseball pitching coach at his alma mater, Esperanza High School. So it comes full circle! It's unfortunate that Bo suffered so much from injuries (his HS senior baseball season was also lost to tendonitis) that made his professional career short lived. But great to hear that he is working with young players to improve their game. From Gail's email, it sounds like the kids are really enjoying working with him.

Monday Night In The Minor League Playoffs...

...the San Jose Giants completed a sweep of the best of 5 North Division Championship series by a score of 6-0 over the Modesto Nuts (Advanced Class A California League). [Box Score]. San Jose advances to the California League Championship series, and Modesto's season ends. Todd Jennings went 1 for 4 in the game for San Jose, and batted .400 for the series, while John Bowker did not play in the game. For Modesto, Troy Tulowitzki was 0 for 4, and batted .308 for the series. Caleb Balbuena (also for Modesto) did not pitch. For the series he pitched 3.0 scoreless innings.

...Edgar Varela's season came to an end as his Lancaster JetHawks were swept in the California League's South Division series by Lake Elsinore - by a score of 11-6. [Box Score]. Edgar started at 1st base, and went 1 for 4 in the game, and batted in 1.

San Jose will now play Lake Elsinore for the California League title in a best of 5 series beginning Thursday at Lake Elsinore.

...the Arkansas Travelers lost the 1st game of the AA Texas League Championship series to the Midland RockHounds. [Box Score]. The former Dirtbags on the Travelers, Jered Weaver and Kasey Olenberger, did not pitch.

And now, backing up a little. I've neglected the independent Northern League playoffs, where former Dirtbag Curt Lee has been playing for the Gary Southshore RailCats. The RailCats just completed a win in the best of 5 South Division series over the St. Paul Saints. In game 1, Curt went 1 for 3 and scored 2 runs. In game 2, he was 0 for 4 with an RBI. Lee played defensively at 2nd base in game 3, but did not bat. In game 4, he was 0 for 3. In the deciding game 5, Curt went 1 for 2 (a double), and drove in 3 runs. Gary Southshore now takes on Fargo-Moorhead in a best of 3 series for the Northern League title beginning today.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Sunday In The Minor League Playoffs...

...the San Jose Giants went up 2 games to none, with a 6-5 victory over the Modesto Nuts in the Advance Class A California League North Division Championship series. [Box Score]. Troy Tulowitzki hit leadoff for the Nuts, and went 3 for 4 plus a walk. Troy knocked in 2 and scored a run. Unfortunately, his throwing error allowed an unearned to score - the Giants 6th and deciding run. Caleb Balbuena pitched, and very effectively, going 3.0 innings. He struck out 6, walked 1, and did not allow a hit. Caleb did not allow an earned run (the above unearned run scored when he was on the mound). For San Jose, John Bowker went 1 for 5, and Todd Jennings was 1 for 3 with a walk and scored a run.

...the Lancaster JetHawks fell behind the Lake Elsinore Storm 2 games to none in the South Division Championship series in the California League. [Box Score]. Edgar Varela made a single pinch hitting plate appearance, striking out.

Former Dirtbag Jered Weaver... featured in this great piece by Rich Lederer at the Baseball Analysts. To whet you appetite, here's a couple of excerpts:
...The 6-foot-7, 205-pound right-hander has had an up and down first year, showing flashes of brilliance and even dominance. However, he has yet to build back his arm strength and has only completed seven innings once this year...

Although three of Weaver's first four starts at Arkansas were nothing to write home about, the four-million-dollar man has bounced back in his last five outings to record a 3.00 ERA while striking out 35 batters in 30 innings. In the department of good news/bad news, Weaver has struck out at least one batter per inning in 14 of his 16 starts but has gotten more outs via the air than the ground in all but two starts...

The soon-to-be-23-year-old is scheduled to pitch for the Surprise Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League...
Rich goes through the often made comparison to Mark Prior, a comparison invited by their similar college stats. He also compares Jered to John Patterson, Chris Young, and others.

Rich, a Long Beach resident (and USC alum - let's not hold that against him), has been following Jered since early in his career at Long Beach State. He blogged then at Rich's Weekend Baseball Beat, but has since combined with Bryan Smith to put out the Baseball Analysts.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

More On Former Dirtbag Chris Demaria's MLB Debut...

Demaria debut: Before Chris Demaria made his Major League debut on Friday night, his bullpen mates told him to stick with his normal routine and not change anything under the bright lights of Comerica Park.

However, things have changed dramatically for Demaria, who was pitching for the Class A High Desert Mavericks last month.

"I don't know if anyone could anticipate that kind of jump," Demaria said on Saturday, sitting in front of his locker in the clubhouse.

As Demaria watched the Royals ring up 12 runs, he sensed he'd get his chance, but admitted, "My nerves took it up another notch when I knew for sure."

With his parents and grandparents in the stands, Demaria entered in the ninth and promptly surrendered a home run to Carlos Pena, the first batter he faced.

"The bad pitch got killed," Demaria said, laughing, "and the good ones didn't."

Demaria retired the evening's final three hitters and received a few more voicemail messages during a busy week.

"He'll remember that night," Bell said.

Saturday Night In The Minor League Playoffs...

...this box score is packed with former Dirtbags. In the Advanced Class A California League North Division Championship series between the visiting Modesto Nuts and the San Jose Giants, the Giants made easy work of it, cracking the Nuts 14-2. San Jose's Todd Jennings started at 3rd and went 2 for 3, with a walk, and was hit by a pitch. He scored 2 runs, and batted 1 in. The Giants John Bowker (left field) went 0 for 5, drew a walk, scored a run, and batted 1 in. The Nuts' Troy Tulowitzki played shortstop and was 1 for 5, and Caleb Balbuena did not pitch. the other California League Division Championship series (South), Edgar Varela played 1st base and went 1 for 5. His Lancaster JetHawks lost on the road to the Lake Elsinore Storm 6-5. [Box Score]. Another Big West Conference connection: former Fullerton Titan Ryan Schreppel started for Lancaster and went 2.2 innings, allowing 6 runs (4 earned), and took the loss.

...Jered Weaver and Kasey Ohlenberger's Arkansas Travelers will take on the Midland RockHounds (who yesterday won game 5 of their series with San Antonio) in the AA Texas League Championship series beginning tomorrow.

Former Dirtbag Paul McAnulty Make 1st Major League Start

Another homecoming tale: Years before Park made Dodger Stadium his home away from home, a kid from Oxnard was making pilgrimages to the stately ballpark.

Paul McAnulty, whose favorite player was the great Andre Dawson, started in left field on Saturday behind rookie right-hander Clay Hensley. It was the first Major League start by the 24-year-old McAnulty, who calls to mind another ex-Padres player, John Kruk, with his style and appearance.

"I started coming here when I was 3, 4 years old," McAnulty said. "I was here when Ramon Martinez pitched his perfect game [in 1995]. My parents were here when Kirk Gibson hit the homer in the World Series. And I was here one night when Mickey Hatcher came in to pitch -- and hit the first two guys he faced."

During a brief stay with the Padres, McAnulty singled and scored on June 28 at Dodger Stadium, drawing a loud response from hometown fans. He appreciates the Kruk comparisons, but Tony Gwynn was his model hitter.

"He went up there with the attitude, 'I'm going to get you,'" McAnulty said. "He'd find a way to get you. He showed that you don't have to hit home runs to find ways to help your team win.

"That's why I love watching [Brian] Giles. He has that same mentality. I just spent 10 minutes watching him the batting cage after I was done. He amazes me with his demeanor, his approach."

McAnulty batted .344 at Triple-A Portland after getting promoted from Double-A Mobile, where he was the team's 2004 Minor League Player of the Year.

"He's a hard-nosed player," Bochy said. "He's hit everywhere he's been. You look at him and may not realize it with his physique, but he runs pretty good and is a pretty good outfielder. He's a gap-type hitter who can hit the ball out of the ballpark. He's got a chance to be a nice player for us."
Paul went 1 for 4 in the game. [Box Score].

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Former Dirtbag Chris Demaria Makes Major League Debut

Chris Demaria made his Major League debut last night for the Kansas City Royals. Pitching the 9th inning (1.0) of their 12-2 route of the Detroit Tigers, Chris gave up a lead homerun to Detroit's DH, Carlos Pena. He then settled down and retired the side in order, striking out 1. [Box Score].

Chris was drafted in the 17th round in 2002, 493rd overall. As points out:
Demaria is the lowest 49er draftee to make it to the show, surplanting Gabe Gonzalez (16th) and Brent Cookson (15th), who each reached the Majors in the 1990's. The 2002 LBSU draft class also becomes the most successful, with Jeremy Reed, [Paul] McAnulty and now Demaria all reaching The Show.
Update: From the St. Cloud Times:
DETROIT - The St. Cloud River Bats have a third major leaguer.

Right-hander Chris Demaria, called up from Class AA Wichita by the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday, finally made his major league debut in Friday's 12-2 win over the Detroit Tigers.

Leading 12-1 entering the bottom of the ninth, Demaria took the mound and threw strike one to Carlos Pena. Demaria's next pitch landed in the right field bleachers.

Demaria bounced back, retiring Craig Monroe on a ground out, Brandon Inge on a strikeout and Omar Infante on a ground out to end the game.

Demaria pitched for the River Bats in 2000 and 2001 and follows current Los Angeles Angels infielder Robb Quinlan and right-hander Justin Huisman, who pitched for the Royals last season, as former Bats who made it to the majors.

Friday Night In The Minor League Playoffs...

...but first, let's back up. I failed to mention that former Dirtbag Caleb Balbuena pitched the 9th inning in Modesto's series clinching victory over Stockton (Advanced Class A California League) on Thursday. Going 1.0 innings, he struck out 2, walked 1, and gave up no hits or runs. [Box Score].

...Edgar Varela went 0 for 4, with an RBI, in the Lancaster JetHawks series clinching victory over High Desert (California League), dropping Edgar's playoff batting average to .222. [Box Score]. The JetHawks begin the South Division Championship series at Lake Elsinore tonight.

San Jose - Modesto: California League Preview

With 3 4 former Dirtbags in this series starting today - Todd Jennings, John Bowker, and Troy Tulowitzki and Caleb Balbuena - this one could be fun. Here's a preview from (republished at
San Jose Giants Playoff Preview

By Kevin J. Cunningham
Date: Sep 9, 2005

Yes, the Giants are in the playoffs…the San Jose Giants. You know, that south bay city that's always complaining they need a baseball team, even though they have one? Well, the Class-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants are ready to run for the California League title. Get everything you need to know here.

The San Jose Giants were the best team in the California League for the entire season, but now they get a chance to add the championship title to their trophy shelf. The Giants, who were Co-Champions in 2001 after the September 11th disaster cancelled the Championship series, won the first half title of the Northern Division easily and finished 1 game behind the Oakland A's affiliate Stockton Ports in the second half, got a first round bye in the California League playoffs. Now, with the Modesto Nuts, affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, defeating the Ports in the first round, the stage is set for Saturday’s first game of the Northern Division Series. The Giants won the season series, going 15-9 against the Nuts in 2005....

Who to Watch - San Jose Giants:

...outfielder John Bowker, who started slowly, came on strong in the second half to end up with 13 home runs....

Modesto Nuts:

• Troy Tulowitzki - The Rockies' first round pick in 2005 (7th overall) missed much of the year with injury, but has come on strong since returning. At shortstop, he's a highly rated defender, and is expected to become a power hitter (he had 4 HR in 94 at bats at Modesto), and should be pushing through to the majors quickly. Though he has spent little time on the Nuts team, he is one of their most talent players... [read the entire article here].

Friday, September 09, 2005

Former Dirtbag Paul McAnulty Has Convinced The Doubters

Bad body. Doesn't run well. Can't hit with power. Twelfth round draft pick. Can't play defense. A sampling of some of the things that have been said and written about Paul McAnulty, the Padres top left-handed hitting prospect.
That's how John Conniff's piece at begins (no link, paid subscription area). Paul tells Conniff:
"I love being the underdog, its been that way my whole life. It really motivates me. I've never been given anything in this game. Every opportunity I've ever had has been on what I earned on the field."
As Conniff points out, the Padres "organization seemingly keeps trying to find a league where McAnulty can't hit." So far, they haven't succeeded in doing so. After being drafted out of Long Beach State in 2002, Paul hit .379 in rookie ball at Idaho Falls, winning the Pioneer League batting title. [Stats courtesy of the Baseball Cube]. He also slugged at .604. In 2003, at Class A Fort Wayne (where both Cesar Ramos and Neil Jamison spent part of August and September this year), Paul fell off to .273, with a .378 slugging percentage. But in 2004, it clicked, and Paul became a top Padres prospect when he hit .297 and 23 homeruns, slugging at .521 for Advanced Class A Lake Elsinore. This year at AA Mobile, he hit .364, and slugged at .453 (10 HRs). And at AAA Portland (Oregon), his batting average was .405 and his slugging percentage was .563.

Back to the MadFriars piece:
Tye Waller, the Padres Director of Minor League Development, was impressed with McAnulty's play in Mobile and Portland this year.

"Mac has really poured himself into improving defensively," said Waller. "However, if you play the two corners your best position is batter. He's got to hit. He started to hit down there not only for average, but for power. He's becoming the hitter we envisioned."

Last Night In Minor League Playoffs...

...Jered Weaver got the win for the Arkansas Travelers in the AA Texas League. Arkansas moves on to the Texas League Championship Series starting Monday. Jered went 6.0 innings, allowing 3 runs on 6 hits (2 HRs). He struck out 9, while walking 2. [Box Score]. As reader Rhonda points out, it's the 3rd game in a row that he has fanned at least 9. Jered's playoff ERA is 4.50.

...Troy Tulowitzki went 2 for 5 with a walk, and scored 3 runs, in the Modesto Nuts win over the Stockton Ports (Advanced Class A California League). [Box Score]. Troy is hitting .400 in the playoffs. Modesto advances to the Division Championships against the San Jose Giants, beginning tomorrow in San Jose. That series will resemble a Dirtbags reunion, as Todd Jennings and John Bowker play for the Giants.

...Edgar Varela had a single plate appearance for the Lancaster JetHawks as a pinch hitter, and struck out. [Box Score]. Edgar is batting .400 in the playoffs. The JetHawks, also in the California League, lost to High Desert - evening the series at 1-1. The winner of tonight's game will take on Lake Elsinore in the other Division Championship series.

...Cesar Ramos started for the Fort Wayne Wizards (Class A Midwest League) and took the loss against West Michgan. Fort Wayne was eliminated from the playoffs. Cesar went 5.0 innings, allowing 5 runs on 8 hits. He struck out 4 while walking 2. Cesar's playoff ERA was 9.00. Neil Jamison also pitched in the game for Fort Wayne, going 1.0 innings in relief, allowing no runs and 1 hit. Two inherited runners scored. [Box Score]. It was Neil's 2nd playoff appearance, and over 2.0 innings his playoff ERA was 0.00.

Former Dirtbag Jason Giambi: Comeback Player of the Year?

Jason Giambi is a leading candidate for American League Comeback Player of the Year. And that has baseball columnists across the country apoplectic. On the one hand, I agree with the prevailing view that performance enhancing substances - primarily steroids - are the scourge of sports in general, and baseball in particular. But I also believe in redemption (within limits - Sadam Hussein, you need not apply). One of those columnists is Tom Hanson at the Naples (Florida) Daily News, who writes:
Comebacks should be inspiring. They should be grandiose feats of beating incredible odds. They should be special.

Comebacks shouldn't be controversial.

Ken Griffey Jr.'s performance in 2005 epitomizes the true essence of the word. He's, without question, the NL Comeback Player of the Year.

Jason Giambi's story, however, only makes a mockery of the adage. In no way should the New York Yankees first baseman get any consideration for the American League Comeback Player of the Year.

Comebacks should be reserved for feel-good stories - not scandalous tabloid-esque headlines.

Stories such as Mario Lemieux of the Pittsburgh Penguins returning to hockey after chronic back problems and a battle with Hodgkin's Disease or Sean Elliott coming back to the NBA after receiving a kidney transplant from his brother.

Baseball has had its share of these stories.

From Andres Galarraga returning from cancer in 2000 to pitcher Tommy John in 1976 coming back from a rotator cuff shoulder injury that, until then, ended a career, we have cheered and anticipated these comebacks.

In Cincinnati, Reds fans are tired of losing, but seeing Griffey return to the form that made him the best baseball player in the 1990s gives them something to be excited about.

Overcoming chronic hamstring injuries, which eventually needed surgery, doesn't sound like much.

But with every home run this season - 35 to date, which gives him 536 for his career, tying him with Mickey Mantle - Griffey has given his Hall of Fame career validation.

But Giambi's comeback is as gray as his Yankees road jersey.

What exactly did he overcome?

Giambi admitted in a federal investigation that he used steroids. He said he was sorry.

But does that mean honoring him is the ultimate forgiveness?
Of course not!
Sure, Giambi went from being the American League MVP to a reincarnation of Mario Mendoza in four years, hitting .208 with only 12 home runs and 40 RBIs last year.

Giambi's 2004 downfall can be attributed to being diagnosed with an intestinal parasite and a benign pituitary tumor. But can we be assured that these unfortunate illnesses weren't caused by using illegal substances?
I guess Mr. Hanson's presumption is that they were. I don't have any idea - and they may well have been related. But, with my limited medical knowledge, it seems strange that a parasite would be caused by abuse of steroids.
The fact that Giambi used steroids overshadows any of his recent accomplishments. He went from hitting .198 in May with three home runs to .280 and 27 home runs now. In July, Giambi carried the Yankees by hitting .355 with 14 home runs and 24 RBIs.
So, if I understand Mr. Hanson correctly, whatever Jason Giambi accomplishes for the rest of his life will be tainted by his use of steroids. How many of us would want our failings to so define us that the good we do doesn't matter?
But do we know that he didn't have the help of some juice?

His manager, Joe Torre, thinks Giambi deserves the award - steroids or not.

"I think (the steroid issue) works to his advantage if you consider that the player he was and the player he is right now are not that different," Torre said last weekend. "If people think he was that player because he was on steroids, well they know that's not the case now."

Yet, comebacks should be incredible. They shouldn't be incredulous.

True comeback players, like Griffey, help paint baseball as a perfect place to be reborn. They shouldn't be like Giambi or 1994's AL winner Jose Canseco. They shouldn't taint the game's image.
Don't get me wrong. What Jason Giambi did was cheating, a very bad example for young people, bad for baseball, and probably bad for his own health - some of his health issues last year may well have been related to the substances he took. Being the Comeback Player of the Year is not about forgiveness. It hasn't been in the past, and it needn't be in the future. But I also don't think the use of steroids is an unforgivable sin. Mass murder, child molesting - unforgivable. Cheating at baseball - don't think so.

Giambi admitted his wrongdoing and apologized. Even if it was at least partially self induced, Giambi went through a living hell last year. Earlier this year, it looked like his baseball career was about to end. But he worked hard. He overcame a kind of pressure that would have crushed most of us. Under the best of circumstances, playing for the New York Yankees - with the most demanding media and fans in the country - is like sitting on top of a powder keg.

And Jason Giambi is no Ty Cobb. This is a guy with a good heart. As I posted here, he recently jumped in to help his former coach with the Oakland A's, Ron Washington, who lost his home (and his mother lost her's as well) in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Jason hasn't played for the A's since 2001.

I won't forget Giambi used steroids. If he does it again, he should be banned from baseball. But I can forgive. Tom Hanson's self-righteous rant is half right. Comeback Player of the Year stories should be "feel-good." Where he misses is that Jason Giambi's story is "feel-good." The man did wrong, but he's making it right. As Barry Bloom put it: "He did the work to redeem himself as a player. And there's nothing more human than his rise, fall and redemption."