Thursday, November 15, 2012

Blue Jays trade analysis - part deux

Yesterday I wrote about the Jays recent trade and warned fans not to have high expectations, based on the results of some other blockbuster deals or big signings. I outlined several examples over the past 10 or so years where teams added major parts in the offseason and didn't get the results they expected.

That's all well and good, but just because some big trades don't pan out, doesn't mean that they all won't.  So today, I'm going to look at the specific players involved in this trade, and analyze how much of an impact they can be expected to provide.

The players the Blue Jays received were Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buerhle, John Buck and Emilio Bonifacio.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Blue Jays blockbuster = World Series?

The Toronto Blue Jays pulled off a blockbuster deal and have added 4 all-star players to their roster.  Money aside (Rogers still has a few excess billions), the only cost was  a controversial shortstop (whom will be replaced by one of the premier shortstops in the league), an under-performing pitcher and some prospects.  And although some of these prospects might pan out in future years, it’s not as though any of them were the kind of prospects that your average baseball fan was following in the minors – a la Bryce Harper or Jesus Montero. In fact it wasn’t even the top organizational prospects – but their consensus #2, 5 and 8 guys.

What does any of this have to do with Baseball in Alberta?  Well, if these moves help the Blue Jays win the World Series, the impact will be felt at the local level.  There will be a resurgence in fan interest, like there was in the early 90s, and it will cascade all the way down to cities building more youth baseball diamonds, more revenue for independent teams, more players wanting to play, attracting more qualified coaches north of the border and so on.  So, yes, this trade could have a major impact on the baseball landscape in Alberta, from Little League to the WMBL to semi-professional franchises to potentially attracting minor league teams back to our province.

So will this trade:
- make Toronto a better team for the immediate future? Absolutely. 
- help the Jays' chances of making the playoffs? Probably
- bring the World Series trophy to Canada soon? Nope!

Look, I'm sorry. Even though I'm a Red Sox fan, I'm involved enough in Canadian baseball to know that the Jays winning will help the baseball industry nation wide, and I'm all for that but I just don't see these moves making that kind of a difference.

There are two ways we can look at this:  Look at individual player's impacts, or look at what history tells us about the fate of teams that made huge acquisitions, bolstering their rosters in hope of attaining that elusive championship.  Today I'm going to start by looking at history for some parallels.  In my next post, I'll analyze this specific trade more closely.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Coaching changes

Back in March, I wrote an article asking what’s next for Colin Moro.  The Calgary native and former Calgary Viper star had suddenly found himself without a place to play as spring neared.  Well, the phone never did ring from a team looking for an experienced hitter.  Instead he spent the spring and summer coaching a high level team with Calgary’s Pro Baseball Force.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

World Cup of Women's Baseball

The IBAF World Cup of Women's Baseball has been going on all week at Telus Field in Edmonton, and the first round is now complete, and the playoffs are being played this weekend. Yes, there is girl's baseball-real baseball, not softball-and not just in the movies.  Canada has had a very impressive showing so far.  The team is made up of 20 women from across the country ranging in age from 17 to 29, including four from right here in Alberta who have been major contributors to the team's success so far.  These Albertans who are representing team Canada are Heidi Northcott, a pitcher from Rocky Mountain House, Nicole Luchanski, a second baseman (basewoman? baseperson? someone please help me out with the proper nomenclature here) playing in her hometown of Edmonton, Tara Sliwkanich a pitcher from fort Saksatchewan, and Meagan Cornelssen, an outfielder from Grande Prairie.

The squad started off strong, with their first two contests being mercy-shortened 5 inning affairs, 12-2 over China - with Luchanski going 3-4 scoring 3 runs and knocking in 2 while Cornelssen added 3 RBIs -  and 14-2 over Venezuela.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Provincial Championships - Part Deux

The last weekend of July saw Baseball Alberta Championships in the Competitive Mosquito, PeeWee and Midget levels.  The August long weekend completed the rest of the Provincial championships.

Strathmore were crowned Competitive Bantam champions in Tier I, beating Grande Prairie 25-20 in a slugfest in the championship game, hosted in St. Albert.   In other Tiers, the Olds Spitfires hosted and won Tier II,  Calgary PBF hosted and won Tier III, Bawlf won Tier IV in Confederation Park and Barrhead took the Tier V title hosted by Kikino.

At the Performance level,  Red Deer hosted the PeeWee championshiops.  Sherwood Park went undefeated in pool play, while Red Deer and Spruce Grove tied for 2nd.  Due to Spruce Grove winning the head to head game, they advanced to the final to play the A's.   The Spruce Grove White Sox won the first final game 10-7, but since the A's were undefeated, a second final game was necessary.  In that one, Sherwood Park rebounded from their loss beating the White Sox 10-3 and taking home the Provincial Championship.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Provincial Championships

Last weekend Baseball Alberta crowned it's PeeWee and Midget Competitive Champions.

In Tier I PeeWee held in Grande Prairie, Camrose Red and Lacombe went undefeated in pool play, earning a berth in the semi finals. Camrose held off Leduc to advance to the finals, while Lacombe suffered their only loss to Fort McMurray, setting up a championship game between Fort McMurray and Camrose Red.  Fort Mac again handed a team their only loss of the weekend, narrowly defeating Camrose 8-7 and winning the PeeWee Tier I Provinical Championship.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Albertans in the minors... and majors too!

A while ago I posted a list of Albertan players playing in the minor leagues.  Since that time several more players have started playing, and one has gotten the long-awaited call.  Here is an update on these home province players:

Let me start with the ones mentioned in my April post:

Jim Henderson who is a Calgary native and was originally drafted by the Montreal Expos is pitching at AAA for the Nashville Sounds.  This is his second stint at AAA, having had prior experience there with the Iowa Cubs in 2008, before the Brewers organization promoted him to their AAA affiliate last year. Although a bit old to be considered a 'prospect' at age 29, he could be called up during the season and help out in Milwaukee's bullpen
As undoubtedly most of my readers have heard by now, Jim Henderson did indeed get called up, receiving the call the evening of July 25th and has appeared in 3 games so far for the Brewers and has yet to give up a run.  I don't expect him to continue to sport a 0 ERA indefinitely or even approach the success of the last pitcher from Calgary to play in the show, but he is doing his job and helping the Milwaukee bullpen.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Alberta draftees:Signing updates

Earlier this month, 4 Albertan baseball players had their dreams realized when they were drafted in the MLB draft.  Players only have until July 15th to sign.  If they don't sign, they may or may not be eligible to be drafted again next year, depending on their circumstances  (If players go to college, they are only eligible after their junior year or 21st birthday, unless it's a community or junior college).

And this year, with MLB's new collective bargaining agreement, it's made it tougher for teams to sign everyone they want.  Teams no longer have an unlimited budget.  There are consequences, some severe, to spending more than an allotted bonus pool.  Anywhere from paying a "luxury tax" on the amount over the bonus they spend, to losing 2 first round draft picks in the future.  The specific details are here.

Fortunately, this has not impacted the Alberta players as they have all been signed already:

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

4 Albertans taken in MLB Draft

As usual, pitchers led a strong contingent of Alberta players drafted by the MLB.  Last year 5 out of the 7 players selected were hurlers, and this year all but one is a pitcher.

Yesterday, Calgary outfielder Tyler Hollick was the only Albertan player taken, as he was selected by the Giants in the 14th round.  Today he was joined by three pitchers:  Shane Dawson, a lefty from Drayton Valley who went to his home country Blue Jays in the 17h round; righthander Adam Paulencu from Sherwood Park who was taken by Colorado in the 26th round; another righty, Logan Seifrit from Spruce Grove selected by Seattle in the 33rd round.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

2012 MLB Draft: Alberta preview

With the MLB draft coming up next week, here is a quick preview of local baseball players to keep an eye on.  

Last year, seven players from our province were drafted.  Stay tuned to this blog as I will post updates as Albertans are selected.  

According to the Canadian Baseball Network’s draft list, Alberta has four players ranked in the top 20 in the country and several more who may be selected.  Many of these are familiar names who have been mentioned on these pages and elsewhere previously.  

The following are among the players expected to be drafted:

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Baseball dead in Calgary?

So go the rumours.  And looking out the window today seeing an unwelcome snowstorm serves as a reminder that this is a hockey first –  if not hockey only – town.  The Vipers folding at the end of last season helped create the perfect storm (yes, pun definitely intended) for any casual fan to believe that there is no baseball left in Calgary.

But this excellent article by the Calgary Herald's Scott Cruickshank articulates splendidly why this isn't so.  It includes the viewpoints of most of the city's baseball movers and shakers.  This includes the heads of several local programs, including Pro Baseball Force, FMBA, Babe Ruth, NSA, U of C, Little League, Okotoks Dawgs, and more.

Calgary has had several local players drafted into the MLB and there will be more soon.

Those who think that baseball is exclusively an American sport, check out Diamonds of the North or Bob Elliott's "The Northern Game: Baseball the Canadian Way" for a Canadian perspective of the game.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Albertans in the MLB... and minors

A post on Albertans in the MLB would be pretty short.    There are currently many Canadian stars in the MLB including Joey Votto,  Justin Morneau and Brett Lawrie, but there isn't a single player who hails from the Texas of Canada. In fact there haven't been too many Albertans who have played in the majors.  Chris Reitsma was the last man to appear in the show who came from Wild Rose country.

But below are a few local prospects to keep your eyes on:

Jim Henderson who is a Calgary native and was originally drafted by the Montreal Expos is pitching at AAA for the Nashville Sounds.  This is his second stint at AAA, having had prior experience there with the Iowa Cubs in 2008, before the Brewers organization promoted him to their AAA affiliate last year. Although a bit old to be considered a 'prospect' at age 29, he could be called up during the season and help out in Milwaukee's bullpen.

Also at AAA is 28 year old middle infielder Skyler Stromsmoe from Bow Island.  He is playing for the Giants' affiliate, the Fresno Grizzlies.  He is a very versatile player, spending a lot of time at 2nd, short and 3rd as well as the outfield and has even pitched on a few occasions.  He led Canada to gold in the Pan Am Games last year, and was just promoted to AAA for the first time this season.

A litte further away at AA is catcher Lars Davis from Grande Prairie.  He is in the Rockies organization playing for the Tulsa Drillers.

Sheldon McDonald, a left-handed pitcher from Spruce Grove was drafted by the Cubs last year where he pitched for their rookie and low A affiliates.  He has started this season with a  promotion to Single A Peoria Chiefs.

There are also several players who will be playing in lower levels that haven't started their season yet.  I will update this post once those leagues get underway.

It's just a matter of time before the next player from Alberta is playing in the show.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Canada Cup and Talent ID camps scheduled

The 2012 Canada Cup Team Alberta ID Camp dates have been announced. This is for 16 and 17 year old players (born in 1995/96) and those selected from the ID Camps will have the opportunity to compete as Team Alberta at the Canada Cup in London, Ontario in August. Please look here for registration and other information.

Date City Time* Location Contact
22-Apr Medicine Hat 11:00am Athletic Park Lovell McDonell
23-Apr Lethbridge 5:30pm Spitz Stadium Aaron Lavorato
4-May Calgary 6:00pm Optimist Park Miki Kawahara
7-May Okotoks 5:30pm Seaman Stadium Brett Thomas
8-May Calgary 5:30pm Inland Park Dennis Odding
14-May Sherwood Park 5:30pm SAP #4 Curtis Denney
15-May Red Deer 5:30pm Edgar Park Terry Letkeman
22-May Edmonton 5:30pm Callingwood Park Dan Rude
29-May St. Albert 5:30pm Legion Memorial Park CJ Jayasekera
31-May Grande Prairie 5:30pm Evergreen Park Mona Turner
4-Jun Ft. McMurray 5:30pm Ron Morgan Park Lou Pote
7-Jun Elk Point 6:30pm Bassett Field Doug Bassett

* The registration process will begin 30 minutes prior to the scheduled start time and run for up to 3.5 hours.

As well, below are the locations and times for the Talent ID camps for13-15 year olds interested in trying out for the Alberta Summer Games. Please look here for registration and other information.

April 22ndMedicine Hat11:00amAthletic Park
April 23rdLethbridge 5:30pmSpitz Stadium
May 4thCalgary 6:00pm Optimist Park 
May 7thOkotoks 
5:30pm Seaman Stadium  
May 8thCalgary5:30pm Inland Park
May 14th Sherwood Park5:30pm Strathcona Athletic Park #1
May 15thRed Deer 5:30pm Edgar Park 
May 22ndEdmonton5:30pmCallingwood Park
May 29thSt. Albert5:30pm Legion Memorial
May 31stGrande Prairie 5:30pm Evergreen Park 
June 4thFt. McMurray 5:30pm Ron Morgan Park 
June 5thElk Point 6:00pm Basset Field 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Strong showing for Alberta in Best of the West

Alberta sent four teams to the Best of the West 18U Invitational Tournament held in Kamloops, and had a very strong showing.   This is an annual invitational tournament that features the best teams in Western Canada.

In round-robin play, the Prairie Baseball Academy (PBA) from Lethbridge, went 3-0 to get the overall first seed in the playoffs, while the Okotoks Dawgs also went undefeated to secure the 2nd playoff spot.  Meanwhile Calgary's PBF Redbirds and the Vauxhall Jets went 2-1.  Vauxhall secured the 3rd playoff spot by winning their pod, while Calgary waited for the results of a Langley Blaze - White Rock Tritons match to see if all four teams in the playoffs would be from Alberta.  However, the Blaze won to finish with an identical 2-1 record and got the wildcard berth edging out the Redbirds on tiebreaker rules.

This left 3 out of 4 Alberta teams, and 1 of 8 BC teams playing for medals.  In total Alberta teams went 10-1 against teams from BC in round-robin play, as Calgary's lone loss was to Vauxhall.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What's next for Colin Moro?

Colin Moro has done it all.   From winning championships in the city he grew up in, having the opportunity to play with his childhood favourite team’s jersey on his back, getting a baseball scholarship, to winning Rookie of the Year and all-star awards.  But as spring approaches this player who has always had baseball in his blood is looking for a place to play this season.
Growing up Moro played for his local Little League and Babe Ruth teams in Calgary before going to the Prairie Baseball Academy in Lethbridge in 2003.   After two seasons there he got a scholarship to play baseball for the LSU-Shreveport Pilots where he played until 2007.  During the summers he played in the WMBL, winning a championship with the Calgary Dawgs in 2004 and again with the Okotoks Dawgs in 2007.  These were huge highlights for him, both for winning a championship in his home town as well as the honour to be a part of such a great organization.

In 2008, he started playing professionally, joining his hometown Calgary Vipers and instantly made an impact.  
He won Golden Baseball League (GBL) Rookie of the Year honors, as he led the Vipers to the Championship Series.  It was a great experience for Moro : “I remember how satisfying it was to be the starting centerfielder everyday and to be able to contribute to a championship caliber team”, he said, adding that in the deciding game, “standing on deck with a one run lead in the 8th inning I remember saying to myself that I was willing to do anything to keep the lead for just six more outs”.   Alas, it was not meant to be and “it was absolutely heartbreaking to watch them score the tying and winning runs in the bottom of the 9th”, he lamented.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Successful weekend for Big League Experience in Alberta

Big League Experience (BLE), out of Oliver BC, was in Calgary on the weekend of March 3rd to run the 2012 Alberta Super Clinic.   BLE have been running these clinics all throughout BC for the last 14 years, and have been coming to Calgary to provide Albertans with their top level coaching since 2004.  It was a very successful weekend for everyone involved, from the instructors and scouts to the participants.

The clinic ran for 2 days and the players who participated benefitted from the opportunity to get instructions from many top tier coaches.  The instructional staff was led by BLE co-owner and director Marty Lehn who is the Milwaukee Brewers scout for Western Canada and whose background includes coaching at the international level for Team Canada at two World Qualifier tournaments, three World Championships, three Olympic Qualifiers, the Pan-Am games as well as at the 2004 Olympics.   Additionally, he has led Team BC to 3 National Championships and was named Canadian Coach of the Year in 1998.   Lehn was joined by Red Sox Canadian Scout Chris Pritchett who was drafted in the 2nd round by the Angels in 1991 and played with them throughout his MLB career until finishing up with a stint in Philadelphia in 2000. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Blue Jays Super Camp coming to Alberta

For the second year in a row, the Toronto Blue Jays are partnering with Baseball Canada to give young players a chance to participate in camps with former MLB all star players.  This year they have expanded their tour from 7 cities to 13, adding Edmonton as a stop along with Calgary.  This camp is open to players aged 10 to 16.  The instructors in the Alberta camps are scheduled to be  Sandy Alomar, Homer Bush, Lloyd Moseby, Rance Mulliniks & Duane Ward.

The cross-country camps start off at Telus Field in Edmonton on July 2nd - 4th, and continue at Foothills Stadium in Calgary July 5th - 7th.  To register and for more information, click on this link to the Blue Jays site.

And parents... this is a great time to share some Canadian baseball history with your young ones.  With the Blue Jays looking like they are ready to challenge to be a playoff contender again, why not relive the glory of the first time the World Series flag flew in Canada, and the dramatic Joe Carter World Series clinching walk-off homerun by getting highlights of both World Series on the DVD below:

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Albertans named to Junior National Team

Congratulations to Mike Belliveau, Wyle Cunningham and Logan Seifrit on being named to the 2012 Spring Training Roster for Canada's Junior National Team (JNT).  Along with pitching coach, Chris Reitsma, these athletes will be representing Alberta on the team, in a series of exhibition games in Florida from March 6th to 13th and again from April 14th to 21st.

The Junior National Team will also  be travelling to the Dominican Republic in late May, and in the summer and fall will compete in the World Junior Championships.

For Seifrit, a pitcher from Spruce Grove, this will be his second opportunity to play with the team, as he was also on last year's spring training roster, and travelled with the team to Cuba and the Dominican.  This will be a new experience for Belliveau, a catcher from Calgary, and Cunningham, a lefthanded Red Deer pitcher.  The full roster can be seen here.

We wish the best of luck to the Alberta participants, as well as the rest of the team.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Revolutionary Approach to Pitching Velocity

Every once in a while I post something that will help young players in our Province (or elsewhere really... but I don't know that anybody else is reading this!) improve their game.  I've previously posted information on the "WANNA BE A BETTER BALLPLAYER" site which is a great resource for high schoolers wanting to learn more about the college recruiting process and what scouts look for.  I have also recently added a page of resources to help improve your game.  I'm hoping that as more local ballplayers take advantage of these resources, we will see more Albertans drafted in future years, and go on to have successful MLB careers.
Today I am going to discuss a product which was shared with me by a fellow member of the Baseball Blogger's Alliance who endorses this and I fully trust.  Before getting into details, and my "sales pitch", let me assure you that you can try it risk free for 60 days AND if it doesn't add 5-10 MPH to your fastball after going through the 16 week program you can get all your money back.   Purchasing this will usually cost you $480, but through my connection with the creator if you purchase it using this link, for a limited time you only have to pay $97.   That's right - for about the same cost of taking a girl out to a nice dinner, and with a much better guarantee of getting the desired results you can learn how to throw harder, dominate hitters and get noticed by scouts.