Most of you are probably aware that the Arizona Fall League, the Hawaiian Winter Baseball League and the caribbean winter leagues are in full swing, and the that M's have prospects in both. If you didn't, um, Michael Wilson, Ryan Rowland-Smith and Yung-Chi Chen have been pretty darn good, Wlad Balentien, Josh Womack and Harold Williams have struggled. Tui continues the nice BA/OBP, poor slugging thing.
But this diary isn't about that. This is about stories that you may have missed while watching Kevin Durant, the World Series or reading about the AFL.
1: The European Baseball Championships were held this fall in Barcelona. Long-time power Holland took the title, which is not at all surprising. What WAS surprising was the team they beat in the final: the United Kingdom. The brits were led by the tournament MVP, a member of the 2007 Tacoma Rainiers and a grad. of Eastlake HS in Redmond: Brant Ust.
Another power, Italy, had a disappointing tournament and fired their long-time coach soon after. Alex Liddi, the Wisconsin T-Rats 3B, played for the Italians. Italy still qualifies for the 2007 world cup (more below), but the UK will qualify for the World Championships in 2008 or 2009 based on their performance.
2: With the WS over, a number of minor leaguers declared free agency. You can peruse the list here and look for 2008's Jack Cust amongst the names. Some M's fans might remember include Clint Nageotte, Rich Dorman, Greg Jacobs (who had a hell of a 2007 in Reading), Vince Faison and Wiki Gonzales. The M's themselves look set to lose Cibney Bello, Justin Lehr, Brad Thomas and Jesus Merchan (acquired from the Phillies in the Julio Mateo deal).
Though it's not up on the M's website, the M's look like they picked up an indie league vet from the Yankees, Scott Patterson. Patterson's 29 now, but is coming off a truly remarkable season for AA Trenton. Check it out. That's a K/9 over 11 and a BB/9 under 2. Intriguing, anyway, though he's obviously a longshot to make the majors. So was George Sherrill though... Patterson is currently pitching for the Lara Cardenales in Venezuela, alongside Ryan Rowland-Smith, Brad Thomas and Brandon Morrow.
3: The Baseball World cup kicks off on Tuesday in Taiwan. The US team has been warming up by playing in the Arizona Fall League. The team includes Evan Longoria, Jay Bruce and Josh Outman, but no M's representatives.
While M's OF prospect Greg Halman played in the Euros, he doesn't appear on Holland's World Cup roster. It appears Yung-Chi Chen will stay in Arizona, too. Alex Liddi will be there representing Italy, however, and Michael Saunders and Phillippe Aumont will play for Canada.
Aumont ran into some trouble in a tune-up game in Australia, however, going 1/3 of an inning, and giving up a run on 3BB and a hit. Hope he wasn't hurt...