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8/25 Minor League Wrap-Up

I actually had an idea for an intro, and have since completely forgotten it.  It'll come to me on the bus ride home, and then I'll have completely forgotten it by the time I get home and back in front of my computer.  Yes, I find this hilarious.

OH WAIT, now I remember it!

I played softball with the LL crew yesterday, and it was awesome.  Many of us went out to watch the game over drinks afterward.  As you'd guess, one of the questions people asked me is how I go about covering the games I recap here.  Do I watch the games?

Well, clearly, unless proliferates, there's no way I could possibly see any of these, especially the rookie ball games in Venezuela and the Dominican.  Obviously, I'd love to, and if I could make a lifestyle out of traveling and covering minor league ballgames in person, I'd take it.

I could listen to the radio feeds via, and often times, when I have the time, I do.  But aside from obviously checking the boxes and game logs, I sometimes will research other sources, the local rags via Yahoo news search, other bloggers, to see if I can catch additional details. Lately, I haven't had as much time, and in such times, it's often little more than boxes and game logs.  I freely admit I sometimes miss key details and I appreciate the efforts of J from Mariner Minors, Chris Mehring, the dude who comments here as Mavs fan and others who drop in and let me know after the fact about anything I missed.  But I do my best to stay informed, even sans the usage of great tools like Baseball America's subscription service (which I plan to subscribe to once I've dropped a couple paychecks and my situation is back in order in the next few weeks).

Meanwhile, I appreciate everyone reading, and as the season winds down, I'll continue to do my best to quickly cover the action around the horn.

On to the wrap-up!

Arizona:  The AZLMs had Saturday off.  I'd say they probably spent the night out getting trashed, but these are mostly 18-20 year old kids, so probably not.

a:  Salem-Keizer 5, Everett 3
EVE:  29-36... S-K:  50-15

Alfredo Venegas:  5 IP, 7 H, (5 R) 3 ER (HR), walk, 5 K, hit batter
Will Brown:  2 IP, 1 H, K, balk
Philip Roy:  1 IP, 2 K
James Davenport:  2-4, double, 3 RBI, K (.240/.318/.333)
rest of Aquasox lineup:  4-30, 2 walks, 16 K

I think the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes could beat some full season A ball clubs right now.  They are absolutely rolling the entire NWL.  I saw them on the Aquasox schedule and, without looking at the score, figured what had happened.

A:  Burlington 4, Wisconsin 1
WIS:  24-36... BUR:  29-31

Kyle Parker:  4 IP, 7 H, (4 R) 3 ER (HR), 3 K, wild pitch
Family Warrior Harold Williams:  2 IP, 2 H, 4 walks, K
Michael Wagner:  2 IP
Reed Eastley:  1-4, double, 2 K (.275/.382/.407)
Juan Beltran:  1-3, RBI, K (.222/.289/.265)
rest of T-Rats lineup:  0-18, 3 walks, 3 K

The T-Rats put a lot of balls in play.  It's just that nearly all of them turned into outs.  And Kyle Parker, not at his demolition derbiest, couldn't do nearly enough to win the ballgame and even left before the 5th.

A+:  Modesto 4, High Desert 0
Mavs:  21-41... Deez Nuts:  38-24

Jose Escalona:  5 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 6 K
Roman Martinez:  3 IP, 1 H, 5 K
The Mavs were 3 hit, with no other baserunners, and struck out 8 times.

No, I can't believe the Mavs were shut out in back to back Cal League games either.  Oh wait, yes I can.

AA:  The West Tennessee DIAMOND JAXX had their Saturday game rained out.  These guys are older and they would be more likely to go out and get hammered, but what the hell is there to do out in rural Tennessee?  (sorry, Huntsville, but you make Nashville look like Seattle)

Tip cows?  Smoke meth?  Drive out to the hinterland in Phat Andy 29's bomb ass ride with those bitchin Checker Auto rims, splash through flash floods and throw rocks at trailers?  Eat crappy BBQ and drink Budweiser?  Yeah, I'd stay in and play pranks on Michael Hrynio given the choice.

AAA:  Tacoma 6, Portland 0
TAC:  64-71... POR:  55-80

Jorge Campillo:  7 IP, 3 H, 5 walks, 4 K
Jake Woods:  2 IP, 2 K
Nick Green:  1-5, RBI, 2 K (.321/.369/.590)
Jeremy Reed:  1-5, double, RBI (.294/.350/.440)
Bryan LaHair:  2-4, double, solo HR, 2 R, K
Charlton Jimerson:  1-3, R, RBI, walk
Rob Johnson:  3-4, 2 doubles, 2 R, 2 RBI

I've heard and read the cries to give Jorge Campillo a shot in the bigs, in HoRam's place.  We can all agree that Ho absolutely sucks and should not be in a big league rotation.  We can agree that he needs to be replaced, and that just about anyone MLB capable who can work 5 innings is an upgrade.

So people say, hey, go get Jorge Campillo.  How can he be markedly worse?  Dave and Jeff and others who have strong knowledge of how player skillsets can translate from AAA to MLB say that Campillo is a marginal replacement level guy at best and may not be an upgrade.  Other look at Campillo running a low 3 ERA, getting AAAers, some of whom are pretty decent, out start after start and say, even if, why not give the guy a shot and prove you correct?

It then goes back to what I'll sloppily dub The McLaren Defense: look, we're in the middle of a pennant race, and the last thing a manager wants to do is risk wins and losses and valuable games on testing an unproven commodity.  If we were 20 games out and the season was lost, we'd see Adam Jones and whoever else called up and getting a test run everyday right now, but because maintaining a competitive balance requires some degree of consistency, we prefer to err on the side of personnel caution and go with the vets whose performances levels we're fairly certain of, whose lows are more limited and highs are more likely than those of a rookie or AAAer who hasn't seen much of the bigs.  Bascially, I'm not gonna risk a game in a tight race to try and determine if this Mexican AAAer with an 85 mph fastball, who has to pitch absolutely perfect not to get his heat-lamp stuff hammered by the bottom of the Anaheim Angels order, is good enough to hold a spot in my rotation.  If he fails, I likely lose a game, and if this race comes down to the end of the season, that's huge.

I'm sure you don't buy it.  Look at it this way:  Say you're a AAA starting pitcher.  Take 2 or 3 of the toughest hitters in any AAA lineup.  Now imagine that EVERY hitter you face is at least that tough, if not tougher.  Now replace those three toughest hitters with guys like Vlad Guerrero or Michael You- wait, I'm going for tough hitters... Jim Thome, Justin Morneau.

Does Jorge Campillo get Justin Morneau out?  Shit, can he get Nick Punto out?  The guy he walked twice, who worked the count well, or the guy who hit the best line drives off him, could be just as good as Punto, and as big leaguers go, Punto's not that good.

In other words, I don't like the refusal to test drive Campillo in HoRam's slot, but I don't blame the M's for not going that route.  I don't think they should stick with Ho, but I can see them doing so when the alternatives are low-end guys whose ceiling is replacement level.