Sunday, December 30, 2007

Humorous Longoria anecdote

I found this amusing in today's Chicago Tribune:

Shortly after Tampa Bay drafted him two years ago, third baseman Evan Longoria asked a club official a question that revealed his naivete.

"When was the last time you were in the playoffs?'' he asked during a drive, almost causing the car to swerve off the road.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Fund raises almost $13,000 for Montoyos

More than 60 families and individuals, including minor- and major-league players, donated to the Alexander Montoyo Fund, and the Montoyos will receive almost $13,000.

Donations totaled $12,756, which includes a $5,000 donation by the Biscuits, for former Biscuits manager Charlie Montoyo and his family. Newborn son Alex is still at the UCLA Medical Center more than two months -- and two open-heart surgeries -- after he was born with a heart defect.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Rays, Floyd (finally) agree to terms

They've apparently been haggling over the final details for a few days, but the Rays and outfielder Cliff Floyd finally announced a one-year contract, with a one-year team option, today. Floyd fills the hole the Rays have been seeking to fill for a left-handed hitter who plays outfield. He's a 15-year major-leaguer.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Edmonds trade clears path for Rasmus

Russell County High's Colby Rasmus appears to be a clear winner in the trade Friday that sent Jim Edmonds from the St. Louis Cardinals to the San Diego Padres.

Edmonds, a center fielder and an eight-time Gold Glove winner, was signed through next season and was a roadblock to Rasmus, St. Louis' top prospect who spent all of 2007 at Class AA Springfield. Now, Rasmus is the heir apparent.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Cubs, affiliates extend relationships

The Chicago Cubs have extended the player development contracts with five of their minor-league affiliates, including the Tennessee Smokies, through 2012.

MLB announces first post-Mitchell suspension

Texas Rangers minor-leaguer Julio Gonzalez is the first player suspended after the Mitchell Report's release. Major League Baseball announced the 50-game suspension today for a positive test for a performance-enhancing substance.

Mayor pledges $100 for Montoyo

Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright said he's giving $100 to the Alex Montoyo Fund. The Biscuits set up the fund this week to help former Biscuits manager Charlie Montoyo and his family while infant Alex is treated for a heart defect.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

One Alabamian, plenty of former Rays in report

Hartselle native Steve Woodard and at least seven former Tampa Bay Rays were among those mentioned in the Mitchell report.

Woodard is listed on page 305 of the 409-page PDF (actual page number is 257). Former Tampa Bay players Tim Laker (PDF page 207), Denny Neagle (235), Adam Piatt (247), Jim Parque (271) and the infamous John Rocker (302) are also in there. Jose Guillen is mentioned -- forgot he played with Tampa Bay.

Of course, there's plenty of Jose Canseco, who is talking about writing a second book and selling movie rights. I heard that on an XM radio interview.

Here's what the report says of Woodard ...

In a September 7, 2007 article, the New York Daily News reported that Steve Woodard, a former pitcher who played with four different major league clubs over seven seasons ending in 2003 (the Milwaukee Brewers, Cleveland Indians, Texas Rangers, and Boston Red Sox), received a shipment of steroids and human growth hormone from The Health and Rejuvenation Center, the same Palm Beach Gardens anti-aging center that reportedly supplied St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Rick Ankiel. The article did not state when the shipment to Woodard allegedly occurred.

Neither I nor any member of my investigative staff had any prior knowledge of any allegation about Woodard.

Jack Cust is in there and why do I mention him? He had signed with the University of Alabama before he was drafted in 1997.

UPDATE: There are nine former Rays mentioned. I'll turn things over to the noted experts at the Tampa Tribune and St. Pete Times.

Balfour, Glover sign one-year contracts

Relief pitchers Grant Balfour and Gary Glover and the the Tampa Bay Rays avoided arbitration and agreed to one-year contracts today.

Mitchell report out

Gentlemen, start your asterisks.

Top players implicated in steroid report

Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Miguel Tejada among those named.

Mitchell report available to view

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Rays release spring training schedule

You can start planning your trip. Next spring will be the team's last at Al Lang Field. Times Eastern.

29 at Cincinnati Reds, 1:05 p.m.
1 Toronto Blue Jays, 1:05 p.m.
2 at Pittsburgh Pirates, 1:05 p.m.
3 at Detroit Tigers, 1:05 p.m.
4 Minnesota Twins, 1:05 p.m.
5 Houston Astros, 1:05 p.m.
6 at Philadelphia Phillies, 1:05 p.m.
7 Philadelphia Phillies, 1:05 p.m.
8 at New York Yankees, 1:15 p.m.
9 Cincinnati Reds, 1:05 p.m.
10 Cleveland Indians, 1:05 p.m.
11 at Minnesota Twins, 1:05 p.m.
12 New York Yankees, 1:05 p.m.
13 at Boston Red Sox, 1:05 p.m.
14 Toronto Blue Jays, 1:05 p.m.
15 at Atlanta Braves (split squad), 1:05 p.m.
15 at New York Yankees (split squad), 1:15 p.m.
16 Detroit Tigers, 1:05 p.m.
17 off
18 at Philadelphia Phillies, 1:05 p.m.
19 Philadelphia Phillies, 1:05 p.m.
20 Cleveland Indians, 1:05 p.m.
21 at New York Yankees, TBD
22 Pittsburgh Pirates, 1:05 p.m.
23 at Cincinnati Reds, 1:05 p.m.
24 Pittsburgh Pirates, 1:05 p.m.
25 at Toronto Blue Jays, 1:05 p.m.
26 at Minnesota Twins, 1:05 p.m.
27 at Cleveland Indians, 1:05 p.m.
28 Cincinnati Reds, 1:05 p.m.
29 at Cincinnati Reds, 1:05 p.m.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Dukes in running for Deadspin award

Elijah Dukes is in an online tournament for the Sportshuman of the Year. Here's your chance to support the former Biscuit. Dukes, seeded fourth, has already advanced to the second round and faces stiff competition from Gilbert Arenas.

Former major-leaguer joins Montgomery coaching staff

Former major-leaguer Ben Oglivie will be the Montgomery Biscuits' hitting coach in 2008.

Oglivie was a 16-year major-leaguer and had a .273 career average. He led the American League with 41 home runs in 1980 for the Milwaukee Brewers, played in the 1982 World Series and was a three-time All-Star.

Manager Billy Gardner, pitching coach Neil Allen and trainer Jimmy Southard will return for a second season. The Biscuits will be trying for a third straight Southern League championship.

"It would be wonderful if we do that," Gardner said. "Anytime you go into a season, a championship is what you shoot for."

Hector Torres, Montgomery's hitting coach this year, is going to be a coach at Rookie-level Princeton. Longtime Princeton manager Jamie Nelson is filling Tampa Bay's newly created catching coordinator position. Jared Sandberg, a former Tampa Bay major-leaguer, will be a coach at short-season Hudson Valley. The Rays will have three coaches at Hudson Valley and Princeton.

Durham -- manager Charlie Montoyo, pitching coach Xavier Hernandez, hitting coach Gary Gaetti, trainer Mark Vinson
Montgomery -- Billy Gardner, Neil Allen, Ben Oglivie, Jimmy Southard
Vero Beach -- Jim Morrison, R.C. Lichtenstein, Brady Williams, Joel Smith
Columbus -- Matt Quatraro, Bill Moloney, Ozzie Timmons, Nick Medina
Hudson Valley -- Joe Alvarez, Rafael Montalvo, Jared Sandberg, coach Michael Johns, trainer Jeff Dill
Princeton -- Joe Szekely, Marty DeMerritt, Rafael Deleon, Hector Torres, trainer TBD
Minor-league coordinators -- Jim Hoff, Dick Bosman (pitching), Steve Livesey (hitting), Skeeter Barnes (outfield/baserunning), Jamie Nelson (catching), Nick Paparesta (rehab and training), Chris Tomashoff (assistant training), Trung "T.C." Cao (strength and conditioning), Tim McKechney (equipment manager)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Biscuits raising money for Montoyos

The Biscuits have started a fund for Alex Montoyo. Donations can be made at the team's front office, at any MAX credit union or over the team's Web site. The Biscuits are matching the first $5,000.

Infant Montoyo battles heart problem

One of the toughest parts of this job is when sad things happen to people who have become good friends.

Talked to Charlie Montoyo tonight.

I apologize beforehand, but I'm not going to share everything we talked about. I'd heard about the situation from others, but I didn't feel I should post anything before talking to Charlie. He also doesn't know I'm posting anything now -- so I hope he isn't offended.

Charlie and wife Sam had their second son in mid-October and Alex has yet to see home.

Born with a heart problem, Alex was taken by air from Tucson to Phoenix on the day of his birth. He's since been moved to Los Angeles and the UCLA Medical Center.

Alex has had two open-heart surgeries in less than two months but is fighting hard. He's been on and off a ventilator, can grasp his parents' fingers and likes watching a rotating toy that's above his bed.

Charlie, Sam and their first son, Tyson, are living in an apartment a short walk from the hospital, so Alex has family continually by his side.

Pray for him.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Goodbye, Nashville ... I'm out

Just took my "victory lap" around the Gaylord Opryland and sent my stories for Friday's paper. Look for a Michael Coleman story in a few days, too. With that, time to head home.

Rays trade Lahey for $$$

The Rays sent Rule 5 pick Tim Lahey to the Chicago Cubs for big bucks, no whammies ... and no players. Figure is a reported $150,000.

Wright stunned by Houston pick

Wesley Wright was watching a little TV, and not tracking the Rule 5 draft, when a Houston Astros scouting supervisor called.

Crosschecker Clarence Johns, who originally drafted Wright for the Dodgers in 2003, told Wright that the Astros had picked the left-handed pitcher today.

"I said, 'Are you for real?'" Wright said. "He said, 'Yeah, you can get out of bed now.'"

"It's a dream come true for all of us. ... It still really hasn't hit me yet. Maybe it will in the next day or two."

"You never know what an organization is looking for. All you can do is go out and do the best you can. I feel I've improved every year and I feel I have the ability, but I didn't know how things would work out."

"I knew I had a chance to get picked up, but I didn't know anything for sure. I was prepared for anything. I was ready to go to spring training with the Dodgers and do the best I could. Now, I'm looking forward to going to Kissimmee and doing good things for the Astros."

"It's exciting and it's a big thing, too. I know what I have to do and it's in front of me. I'm anxious to talk to them and see what they want out of me."

On his Arizona Fall League performance ... "People will see you enough on your good days that you hope it outweighs your bad days. With baseball, the biggest thing is being seen and I think the fall league was a good opportunity for me to be seen."

On his 2007 season, which lasted from the start of spring training until mid-November and left him mentally drained ... "Right now, it seems worth it. I don't look back with any regrets."

Rays take 3 in minor-league Rule 5

The Rays took three more players in the minor-league phase of the Rule 5 and lost nobody.

Rashad Eldridge -- Outfielder was with the Minnesota Twins. Hit .291 with seven home runs and 41 RBIs at Class AA New Britain this year. Likely to start next year with the Biscuits.

Julio Puentes -- Right-handed pitcher played in Venezuela this year for the Astros. Finished 5-3 with eight saves and a 2.25 ERA in 40 innings.

Jose Mejias -- Right-handed pitcher played in Venezuela this year for the Mets. Was 4-5 with two saves and a 3.20 ERA in 56 1/3 innings.

Rays send Lahey to Cubs

The Rays traded pitcher Tim Lahey to the Chicago Cubs within an hour of picking Lahey in the Rule 5 draft. Not sure of the full package yet.

Wesley Wright headed to Astros

Goshen High graduate Wesley Wright was taken by the Houston Astros with the eighth pick of today's Rule 5 draft.

Wright was with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The left-hander was 6-2 with a 2.49 ERA in 30 games at Class AA Jacksonville and 1-2 with a 9.18 ERA in 14 appearances with Class AAA Las Vegas. Wright logged 21 1/3 innings in the Arizona Fall League and was 0-1 with one save and a 5.06 ERA.

Former Auburn University pitcher Steven Register went to the New York Mets with the 13th pick. Register was 1-3 with 37 saves at Class AA Tulsa in the Kansas City organization this year.

Pajama-clad Meek surprised by pick

Evan Meek, who lives in Seattle, was still in pajamas -- "Heck, I still had sleep in my eyes. I'm never up this early." -- when he heard the Pittsburgh Pirates took him with the second pick of today's Rule 5 draft.

"I'm excited. It's hard to find words right now."

"I thought there was a chance I might go, but I didn't expect to go with the second pick. I was watching it on and, when I heard my name, I thought I was hearing things."

Meek didn't give up a run in the regular season with the Biscuits after Aug. 9 and had an 0.93 ERA in the Arizona Fall League.

"I was fortunate to do well there. Everything just came together. The last month of the season and in the fall league, everything came together."

"I talked with my agent (former major-leaguer Joe Sambito) after Tampa didn't protect me. He said, 'I don't want to get your hopes up, but I think there's a good chance you'll be selected in the Rule 5."

"I hadn't heard anything at all. I wake up today, I knew the draft was at 10 o'clock Eastern, I turn on the computer and start watching it. All of a sudden, 'Wait, what?' I'm just happy Pittsburgh is going to give me a shot."

"Today is a good day, but there's a lot of work to be done."

Meek was originally an 11th-round draft pick of the Minnesota Twins in 2002. Comparing it to that day ... "This is more exciting. Much more exciting because of everything that's happened in my career. I've had all the ups and downs, and this lets me know there's some light there."

"I had a good first year with the Twins, but then I had some control problems. It's taken a lot of hard work to get out of that. Just knowing that someone thinks I can be a major-leaguer is awesome. I can't tell you how excited and ready I am for this opportunity."

Meek had a fitful night last night. "I didn't sleep at all. I tried to, but I couldn't sleep because I knew this was this morning. I hoped for the best and hoped to be picked, but there are no guarantees."

Meek had to go to run an errand. He had to drive his little brother, seventh-grader Bryce, to school.

Meek drafted by Pirates; Rays grab Twins' Lahey

Former Biscuits pitcher Evan Meek was taken by the Pittsburgh Pirates in today's Rule 5 draft.

Meek must stay on Pittsburgh's 25-man active roster for all of the 2008 season or the Pirates must offer him back to Tampa Bay.

The Rays had the No. 1 pick in the Rule 5 and took right-handed pitcher Tim Lahey from the Minnesota Twins. The Pirates had the second pick and grabbed Meek.

The Pirates have to pay the Rays $50,000 for Meek. If Pittsburgh send Meek back to Tampa Bay, the Rays return $25,000.

Meek, a right-hander, was 2-1 with a 4.30 ERA and one save in 44 relief appearances for Montgomery this season and helped the Biscuits win a second straight Southern League championship. The 24-year-old caught attention in the Arizona Fall League, going 1-0 with an 0.93 ERA in nine games.

Lahey was 8-4 with a 3.45 ERA and 13 saves in 50 appearances for Class AA New Britain.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

O'Conner elected president of minor leagues

Pat O'Conner, who once said Montgomery couldn't support a Class AA team, was elected president of Minor League Baseball today. O'Conner was the top aide to Mike Moore, who has been president of the mionrs since 1992, and will take over for Moore on Jan. 1.

O'Conner also ended one of Montgomery's flirtations with organized baseball in 2000. Montgomery was considering whether to go for a possible Class AA team or embrace a Class A team being offered to the city.

On June 21, 2000, O'Conner sent Mayor Bobby Bright a letter "unconditionally withdrawing" the offer. Wilmington, N.C., eventually landed the team, which later moved to Albany, Ga., and then to Columbus, Ga.

Rays, Biscuits to talk PDC extension

The Biscuits are entering their first "contract" year in 2008, but the team and the Tampa Bay Rays may soon talk about an early extension on their formal relationship.

Montgomery's player development contract with Tampa Bay runs out after next season. Neither side would commit to an early extension today but negotiations -- perhaps short ones -- could begin quickly.

"They're great partners and we love having them," Biscuits GM Greg Rauch said. "We've loved seeing them here at the winter meetings and celebrating a second straight championship. We're looking to do a third straight next year."

The Rays have experience with early extentions. Two years ago, in January 2006, Tampa Bay and Class AAA Durham agreed to continue their relationship for the 2007 and 2008 seasons.

The Biscuits verbally agreed to stay with Tampa Bay through 2008 when Tom Dickson and Sherrie Myers bought the Orlando Rays from Tampa Bay and moved it to Montgomery in 2004.

"Throughout the years, we've had a great relationship with Tom and Sherrie and Greg," Rays farm director Mitch Lukevics said. "We're excited to work with them, we have a good relationship and we hope to continue that great relationship."

Rays named 'Topps Organization of the Year'

The Tampa Bay Rays won the "Topps Organization of the Year" award today at baseball's winter meetings.

The award, which Tampa Bay has never won, is based on a points system that includes four minor-league categories: All-Star players, Players of the Month, each league's MVP award, the Topps overall Minor League Player of the Year award, and major-league rookies who made the Topps Rookie All-Star team.

The Rays drew points from ...
Delmon Young -- Rookie All-Star
Justin Ruggiano -- August player of month, All-Star
Jae Seo -- July pitcher of month
John Jaso -- August player of month, All-Star
Evan Longoria -- May player of month, All-Star
Chris Mason -- All-Star
Fernando Perez -- All-Star
Dale Thayer -- All-Star
Desmond Jennings -- June player of month
Maiko Loyola -- All-Star
Mike McCormick -- All-Star
Jason Ragan -- All-Star
Emeel Salem -- All-Star

Topps has handed out the award every year since 1966. The Dodgers, Brewers and Yankees have won five times each.

Twins manager likes Delmon

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said today that he's excited to have former Biscuit Delmon Young in the outfield.

"His past doesn't worry me at all," Gardenhire said. "I've known Dmitri (Delmon's older brother) for a long time. He plays the game, has fun, and watching this young man play was the same way. He went out and played the game. He worked hard. He was at the ballpark early. Those things bode well for our ballclub. We like that kind of player."

Also ...
"He's got a clean slate. He's with the Minnesota Twins now, and we are very, very excited to have him," Gardenhire said.

Walking in Memphis, err, Nashville

Making a play on that song from (when?) 1991, I think, and how it relates a writer's day at the baseball winter meetings.

Picked this up Tuesday night from C. Trent Rosecrans, a buddy who covers the Cincinnati Reds for the Cincinnati Post (and a former Alabama beat writer). Trent bought a pedameter at the start of Day 2, hooked up it and put the results on his blog.

He finished Tuesday at 15.1 miles. When I saw him about 10:30 -- just before my final lap, in which I came upon a group of Devil Rays, Biscuits and Durham Bulls officials engaged in friendly conversation -- he was at the 12-mile mark.

Former Biscuit Coleman opens business

Michael Coleman, the MVP in the 2006 Southern League championship series, has opened his own baseball academy in Nashville.

Just got back to the Gaylord Opryland resort from the M3 offices and Coleman has a lot of his old pictures -- including the one of him spraying champagne after the Biscuits won the title -- on the walls. Coleman just opened the doors about a month ago and said he already has 70 kids signed up for lessons. When I left, he was waiting on a parent to stop by and check out Coleman and the facilities.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Brazell signs with Japanese team

Montgomery native Craig Brazell, who led the minor leagues with 39 home runs this season, has signed to play next year for the Seibu Lions in Japan’s Pacific League.

Friedman sure Price will start in minors

Rays general manager Andrew Friedman said he "absolutely" expects that pitcher David Price will start the season in the minor leagues. He wouldn't give a hint where Price might head to out of spring training.

"We don’t want to place undue pressure on him," Friedman said. "He’s very polished, he’s a great competitor, and we’ll figure out where he’ll start the year. We expect him to develop quickly. What that means in terms of timing is difficult to say. We’re not going to rush the process, but as soon as we feel like he is ready, he’ll be in the big leagues."

Price unsure where he'll start

David Price, who is at the Gaylord Opryland for Baseball America's awards luncheon, said he isn't sure where he'll make his professional debut. Of course, he hopes it's in the big leagues with the Rays.

"I don't know," Price said. "They haven't told me anything."

Price just started throwing again, has been working out with former teammates at Vanderbilt and knocked out some classes toward his sociology degree this fall.

Maddon high on Longoria, Price

Here are a few highlights from Rays manager Joe Maddon's talk to the media that just ended ...

**He said he didn't know if Evan Longoria will start 2008 in the major leagues, but third base is being cleared for him. The Rays fully play to play Aki Iwamura at second.

"He's begun the quest to become an All-Star second baseman," Maddon said. "We're pretty much committed to the fact that Aki is the guy there. We'll put him at second base and leave him there whether Evan is ready to do his thing or now, so we aren't bumping Aki all over the place."

**He said David Price, Tampa Bay's No. 1 draft pick in June, could reach the major leagues by the end of next season. He said he didn't know where Price may start his professional career -- Montgomery? -- but said the Rays should be conservative with it.

"He could come quickly," Maddon said. "I've heard that it's possible within the next year. ... Guys like him, you really want to make sure. He's going to show us or tell us when he's ready to be here."

**Also on Longoria: "This guy is a major league-caliber person and I think he'll fit in very quickly," Maddon said. "He gets it."

Allentown team swaps mascot name

The Allentown IronPigs, who play their inaugural season in 2008, have changed their mascot's name after receiving complaints that the name was inappropriate. The mascot, announced this weekend as PorkChop, will instead be called Ferrous.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Rays have two openings on 40-man roster

Besides Elijah Dukes' trade, the Rays also lost shortstop Josh Wilson today when the Pirates claimed him off waivers. That leaves just 38 players on Tampa Bay's 40-man roster.

With Delmon Young's trade last week, the Rays have lost two major-league outfielders and Tampa Bay has the No. 1 pick in Thursday's Rule 5 draft. One of the top available players in the Rule 5 is an outfielder -- Cleveland's Brian Barton.

White Sox, Mets to play in Civil Rights Game

The Chicago White Sox and New York Mets will play in the second annual Civil Rights Game in Memphis, Tenn., on March 29, 2008, Major League Baseball just announced. The St. Louis Cardinals and Cleveland Indians played in the inaugural game this spring.

Rays pick up Gibson for Dukes

Left-handed pitcher Glenn Gibson is headed to Tampa Bay from Washington in exchange for troubled outfielder Elijah Dukes, a former Biscuit.

Gibson was a fourth-round draft pick in 2006 and was 4-3 with a 3.10 ERA in 12 starts this season at short-season Vermont. He's the son of former major-league pitcher Paul Gibson, who had a nine-year career with Detroit, the New York Mets and New York Yankees.

Dukes, who was drafted in 2002 by Tampa Bay, was sent home in 2004 by the Rays, was suspended twice with the Biscuits by the Southern League in 2005, was sent home again and caused an uproar with comments in USA Today about Class AAA Durham in 2006, and made his major-league debut in 2007. He was placed on the inactive list June 22 and didn't return.

Goldberg-Strassler in the house

Jesse Goldberg-Strassler, who interned with the Biscuits the last two summers, is here in Nashville trying to move up in the baseball broadcasting world. It's entertaining to watch Jesse work the room, maneuvering from person to person with his always-present smile. I know many of you never dealt with Jesse, but it's safe to say he's one of the more positive people you'll meet.

Dukes may still go to Nats

Just heard a rumor that Elijah Dukes may still be headed to the Washington Nationals, despite the Nats' recent acquisition of Lastings Milledge.

Veterans Committee adds 5 to Hall of Fame

The two Veterans Committees, one for executives/pioneers and another for managers/umpires, voted in ...
Barney Dreyfuss
Walter O'Malley
Bowie Kuhn

Billy Southworth
Dick Williams

The managers/umpires committee had 16 members, so a candidate needed 12 votes to get in. The voting: Billy Southworth 13, Dick Williams 13 ... Whitey Herzog 11, Doug Harvey 11, Danny Murtaugh 6, Hank O'Day 4 ... Davey Johnson, Billy Martin, Gene Mauch and Cy Rigler received less than 3.

The executives/pioneers committee had 10 members, so a candidate had to get eight votes for induction. The voting: Barney Dreyfuss 10, Walter O'Malley 9 ... Ewing Kauffman 5, John Fetzer 4, Bob Hawsam 3, Marvin Miller 3 ... John McHale and Gabe Paul had less than 3.

Earl Weaver, who played for the Montgomery Rebels in 1956, was here for the press conference. He remembered playing in Montgomery, but nothing else.

This was the first year of a revamped veterans selection process, splitting it into four separate ballots. This year's two categories will be considered every two years. Next year, players whose careers started after 1943 will be considered (and will be every two years). Also, players from pre-1943 will be considered (but they won't be considered again for five years).

Greetings from the winter meetings

Just arrived and got online from the massive Gaylord Opryland complex in Nashville, Tenn., site of this week's baseball winter meetings. The Veterans Committee will announce the results of its 2008 election in a few minutes.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Tuskegee-Virginia Union semi-LIVE blog

5:04 -- Little scrambles for a short gain. Ballgame. TUSKEGEE 58, VIRGINIA UNION 51, final.

5:04 -- Virginia Union recovers the onsides kick. One play left, 5.5 seconds to play.

5:01 -- Safety. Tuskegee's up 58-51 with 8.2 seconds left. Jarvis DeVaughn sacked the QB for a 13-yard loss to put it at the 6 and Jason Stanley picked up the 6-yard scraps for the safety.

4:58 -- Two-point conversion failed, but I'll repeat about that touchdown: Wow.

4:56 -- Touchdown, Tuskegee. Atkinson to English for a 57-yarder. Wow! There's 46-4 seconds left.

4:54 -- Tuskegee holding penalty on first down. Atkinson throws to Fitzhugh for a 10-yard gain and the Tigers take timeout with 57.2 seconds remaining. They have the ball at their own 43.

4:49 -- Touchdown, Virginia Union. Niles Rainey returns the fumble 50 yards for a touchdown. The all-important extra point ... GOOD. Virginia Union up 51-50 with 1:43 to play.
4:49 -- Fumble, Tuskegee's Atkinson.

4:48 -- Atkinson squirms out of pressure and finds English on the right sideline for a 9-yard gain.

4:47 -- Sack leaves Tuskegee facing a third-and-8 from the 37. Timeout, Virginia Union with 2:32 to play.

4:42 -- Touchdown, Virginia Union. Taylor catches a 22-yarder. Tuskegee's lead shrinks to 50-44 with 3:18 left.

4:35 -- Virginia Union recovers an onsides kick.
4:31 -- Touchdown, Virginia Union. Steven Miller 18 pass from Little. Extra point blocked. Tuskegee up 50-30 with 10:58 remaining.

4:06 -- Punt, Tuskegee.
4:01 -- Turnover, Virginia Union.
3:57 -- This shows you how this game is going. The scoreboard was a point off after each of the last two touchdowns ... and I didn't notice. Tuskegee is ahead 50-24. End of third quarter.

3:52 -- Touchdown, Tuskegee. Virginia Union fumbled away the kickoff and Tony Forney went 5 yards on the next snap. Tuskegee 49-24. Might have to check in on Troy-FAU now. Uh-oh. So much for my reservations at the J.W. Marriott on Canal Street.

3:49 -- Touchdown, Tuskegee. Fitzhugh 1 run. Tuskegee up 42-24 with 1:22 left in the third.

3:37 -- Touchdown, Virginia Union. Steven Miller 18 pass from Little. (The two hooked up for a 24-yard gain on the previous play to convert a third-and-16.) Tuskegee 36, Virginia Union 24, 5:54 left in the third.

3:30 -- Tuskegee punts.
3:32 -- Missed field goal, Virginia Union.

2:45 -- Halftime.

2:43 -- Touchdown, Tuskegee. Antoine Mitchell 19 pass from Atkinson. Tuskegee 36, Virginia Union 17, 32.2 seconds left in the half.

2:37 -- Turnover, Virginia Union. Jeremy Obie returns the interception 27 yards, VU commits a personal foul and Tuskegee takes over at the VU 43.

2:30 -- Touchdown, Tuskegee. Jonathan Lessa 27 pass from Atkinson. Tuskegee 29, Virginia Union 17, 2:54 left in the half.

2:26 -- Virginia Union three-and-out. Tuskegee takes over at the VU 49.

2:20 -- Touchdown, Tuskegee. Atkinson 1 run. (Mario Jackson returned the free kick after the safety 52 yards to the 19.)

2:13 -- Virginia Union three-and-out. High snap goes out of the end zone. Safety for Tuskegee. Virginia Union 17, Tuskegee 16, 7:28 left in the half.

2:11 -- Turnover, Tuskegee. Jacary Atkinson should have taken a sack and instead threw an interception.

2:08 -- Fumble, Virginia Union. Jarvis DeVaughn causes a fumble while making his second sack of the series. Tuskegee recovers at the 29.

2:02 -- Touchdown, Tuskegee. Fitzhugh 3 run. (TD set up by a 25-yard pass-interference penalty. Yes, a 25-yard penalty.) Virginia Union 17, Tuskegee 14.

1:55 -- Punt, Virginia Union. Tuskegee at the VU 25.

1:49 -- Touchdown, Tuskegee. Richard Fitzhugh 2 run. (Jason English had a nice 37-yard catch to put Tuskegee at the 4.) Virginia Union 17, Tuskegee 7, 13:29 left in the first half.

1:36 -- Field goal, Virginia Union. Gil Hernandez 21 FG. (Hampton did catch a 30-yard pass to get it to the 3.) Virginia Union 17, Tuskegee 0, 2:45 left in the first quarter.

1:29 -- Punt, Tuskegee three-and-out. Low snap on punt. Blocked by Adidias Arrington. Va. Union takes over at Tuskegee's 33.

1:24 -- Touchdown, Virginia Union. Hampton 75 pass from Little. Virginia Union 14, Tuskegee 0.

1:19 -- Punt, Tuskegee. The Golden Tigers did get two first downs and cross midfield.

1:11 -- Touchdown, Virginia Union. Michael Hampton 84 pass from Lamar Little.

1:07 -- Tuskegee three-and-out.

12:53 p.m. CST -- Tuskegee won the toss and will receive.

11:58 a.m. CST -- Just arrived at Charlie W. Johnson Stadium in Columbia, S.C., for the Pioneer Bowl between Tuskegee and Virginia Union. Gorgeous day in the Palmetto State and sweet stadium, too. The CWJ just opened this year. I'll give sporadic updates on the game, though not as much as last week's Iron Bowl. Where we had five writers last week, I'm by myself today, so I won't have as much time.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Rays, Percival announce contract

The Rays and pitcher Troy Percival finalized a two-year contract and announced it this morning. Percival fills the last spot on Tampa Bay's 40-man roster.

I'm just getting caught up with the day (just arrived in Columbia, S.C., for Tuskegee's Pioneer Bowl game Saturday), so I also see the Nationals shouldn't be interested in Elijah Dukes anymore. The Nats picked up Lastings Milledge in a trade.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A's claim Bankston; Percival, Rays close to deal

The Oakland A's grabbed former Biscuit Wes Bankston off waivers Wednesday. The Royals, who designated Bankston for assignment last week, also released Montgomery native Craig Brazell. Brazell won the minor-league home run championship this year.

The Rays are close to signing reliever Troy Percival to a two-year deal worth $8 million, according to Fox Sports. Percival was 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA in 34 games with the Cardinals in 2007.

Dukes in Tampa Bay's plans

Stadium plans, that is.

Bear with me. This is a reach. Please note the players high-fiving in the upper reaches of the artist's rendering of the new stadium. Please note the player on the left.

Isn't that No. 35? Isn't that Elijah Dukes? It resembles Dukes more than pitcher Dan Wheeler, who took 35 when he joined the team after Dukes had been deactivated. Plus, pitchers don't do high-fives at home plate.

I guess it could be a 25 (and probably is), but that wouldn't be any fun. I played with some programs I've never used to zoom in, but it loses all focus. Does anybody have a good, old-fashioned magnifying glass?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Delmon, Pridie traded to Minnesota

The Rays and Twins have consummated the six-player trade involving former Biscuits outfielder Delmon Young and Jason Pridie.

Tampa Bay receives pitcher Matt Garza, starting shortstop Jason Bartlett and minor-league pitcher Eduardo Morlan. Minnesota gets Young, Pridie and shortstop Brendan Harris.

Earlier reports of a potential trade had relief pitcher Juan Rincon headed from Minnesota to Tampa Bay and didn't include Morlan.

Morlan is in line to start 2008 with the Biscuits. He spent most of this year with high-Class A Fort Myers, where he was 4-3 with 18 saves and a 3.15 ERA in 41 appearances. He ended the season with two relief appearances for Class AA New Britain.

Morland, who turns 22 in March, is "one of the top five or 10 relief prospects in baseball," according to Rotoworld.

Stokes traded to Mets

Former Biscuits pitcher Brian Stokes has been traded to the New York Mets for cash. The Rays designated Stokes for assignment last week when they set their 40-man roster. Stokes, who was in Montgomery in 2005, was 2-7 with a 7.07 ERA in 59 relief appearances this year for Tampa Bay.

Delmon, Pridie to Twins?

The Rays and Twins are close to a trade that, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, would send Delmon Young, Jason Pridie and Brendan Harris to Minnesota and net Tampa Bay pitcher Matt Garza, shortstop Jason Bartlett and relief pitcher Juan Rincon.

Tampa Bay general manager Andrew Friedman left today's ballpark announcement without commenting, according to the St. Petersburg Times.

Rays unveil plans for waterfront stadium

Well, I would upload a picture, but my frail mind can't find a way. However, here's a link to several images on the new Web site touting the stadium.

The stadium, which will feature a retractable roof*, will cost an estimated $450 million and be part of a $1 billion redevelopment program for downtown St. Petersburg.

*--From the press release:
The ballpark design also includes a unique retractable roof which will shield the playing field and fans from the elements yet still maintain an intimate environment. The roof will be comprised of a light weatherproof fabric that will be pulled along cables that are suspended between arches on one end and a central mast structure on the other. It will take approximately 8 minutes to open or close the roof, and, even when the roof is deployed, the feel of an open-air ballpark will be maintained.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

3 minor-league free agents sign with Rays

Catcher Hector Gimenez, who was in the Houston organization, has signed a minor-league contract with the Rays, while utility man Chris Richard and outfielder Jon Weber have re-signed with Tampa Bay. Richard and Weber played at Durham last year.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Young unanimous among top rookies

Former Biscuit Delmon Young was a unanimous pick for the 49th annual Topps major-league rookie All-Star team. Major-league managers do the voting and Topps announced the results today.

Dodgers first baseman James Loney, Brewers third baseman Ryan Braun, Diamondbacks outfielder Chris Young and Astros outfielder Hunter Pence were also unanimous selections. Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz, Royals pitcher Brian Bannister and Red Sox pitcher Hideki Okajima rounded out the team.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Auburn-Alabama -- LIVE BLOG

10:18 -- Time to go do some real work, but I'll leave you with this.

If, like $aban said Monday, good things can come from catastrophic events, he should consider tonight, his Alabama debut against Auburn, something like ...

10:14 -- Tide's Rolando McClain deserved a flag for that shove and is currently receiving the chewing he also richly deserves. He's a true freshman, so can't blame Shula for that.

10:10 -- Tiffin hits a 49-yard field goal. Tide has two timeouts left. Don't light those cigars yet. Bama isn't out of it.

9:56 -- Brandon Cox touchdown with 3:58 remaining. This one's over. Auburn's ahead 17-7. Isn't Alabama paying $4 million to Saban to win games like this?

9:51 -- Keith Saunders with your latest Alabama brain cramp. A roughing-the-passer penalty gives Auburn a first-and-goal at the 8. He's also a senior, so another one fans will blame on Shula.

9:42 -- Quentin Groves gets a good piece of J.P. Wilson. Call the play the Tide's Pickett's Charge.

9:38 -- Roy Upchurch's 9-yard run gave Alabama the ball across the 20. Keith Brown just caught a long pass to the 43. Those plays could be the breakout the Tide needed, like U.S. troops in the Battle of the Bulge.

9:32 -- Tide has third-and-5 at the 6. Play of the game. John Parker Wilson overthrows Nikita Stover and Bama has to punt out of the end zone. That was a potential game-changing moment. If Auburn scores a touchdown, this one is over.

9:30 -- Can't claim I thought of this. But has Under Armour been cheap with the Tigers? Nary a Tiger has sleeves. I might see one, actually.

9:28 -- We go to the fourth quarter. The excitement is so obvious.

9:27 -- Brain cramp, massive brain cramp by Matt Caddell. Why field that punt at the 5? Then, he fumbles it and the ball goes out of bounds at the 1. Oh, remember, Caddell is a senior. Blame Mike Shula for that one, of course.

9:23 -- Nice acting job by the punter. Good call, too.

9:22 -- Montez Billings just juked himself out of getting a first down. Grow a pair.

9:20 -- Auburn is backed up deep, just in front of the Alabama section. Think the Tigers feel surrounded? The French have some experience with that, too.

9:18 -- This one is settling into quite a stalemate ... a seige, depending on your perspective.

9:01 -- Wes Byrum tanks a 43-yard field goal. He had made six straight since a 46-yard miss at Arkansas.

8:59 -- Carl Stewart wide open. Cox misses him.

8:55 -- And the second half begins.

8:32 -- Cox is in for the halftime kneel. Time for both teams to have a friendly little truce and have a little off-time preparation.

8:31 -- Sweet interception by Jerraud Powers. Absolutely amazing.

8:27 -- Cox throws an interception that could give Alabama at least a halftime tie. Cox is also hurt on the play. Appears to be a right leg injury. Cox is helped off the field, but he's putting weight on his leg.

8:25 -- My toboggan is on.

8:22 -- Leigh Tiffin pulls it from 44.

8:21 -- Another brainy move by a quarterback. John Parker Wilson takes a sack and puts the Tide out of field-goal range. Roy Upchurch rescued the chance at three points.

8:13 -- Why go after that punt? Auburn should have put a return on.

8:07 -- Momentum change. Brandon Cox sits down on the job on two straight plays, courtesy of Lorenzo Washington and Simeon Castille. The sacks took Auburn out of field-goal range. Then, a quacker of a punt against the wind.

8:05 -- Third-down pass to Auburn's Ben Tate and Alabama's Simeon Castille pulled a matador maneuver. Ole. Tate was all ready to dole out a shot.

7:56 -- Touchdown, Alabama. There's Saban's Battle of Trenton. Now, he needs to follow up quickly and head to Princeton.

7:55 -- Glen Coffee is small, but he sure hits a hole hard. Dang, he's listed at 6-2 and 197 pounds. Looks smaller.

7:52 -- That draw looked like a 3-year-old drew it. Awful.

7:52 -- Second quarter is about to start and the wind has kicked up pretty good. It's now at the Tide's back.

7:45 -- Good call on the pass interference. Jonathan Wilhite screened off the receiver like he was going for a rebound.

7:43 -- Hey, Alabama has crossed midfield. A long kickoff return and an end around got them there.

7:39 -- Auburn field goal. If Alabama doesn't get in gear quickly, this one is about over. Total yards, at the moment -- Auburn 101, Alabama 11. It might be time for a desperate move by Saban ... like attacking Trenton, N.J.?

7:29 -- Auburn just declined an Alabama penalty, giving the Tide a second-and-8 rather than a first-and-15. Me thinks the Tigers are trying to send a message.

7:24 -- Touchdown, Auburn. Well, that didn't take long. About as long as England vs. Argentina from 1982.

7:17 -- Mario Fannin vs. Simeon Castille isn't fair. Fannin just juked Castille two ways from Sunday.

7:16 -- OK, it's as cold as a welldigger's heinie out here, but 21 of the 22 players on the field right now are bare-armed. Takes guts, guys. (And Alabama's Justin Woodall is the wimp.)

7:15 -- Second player already hurt. Auburn guy went down on the kickoff and now Alabama free safety Rashad Johnson.

7:09 -- Bo Jackson presented the game ball to the officials. Somewhere, Robbie Jones just looked to the sky.

7:07 -- It's on. It's time for war. The archiduke has been assassinated. Both teams are on the field. (Let's all thank Nick now for me being able to make these overly dramatic historical references.)

6:58 -- That Auburn drum major's big entrance move would get him laughed at in the SWAC.

6:57 -- Dadgumit. The Auburn band has returned. The Alabama band never left.

6:54 -- It's 49 degrees with winds from the east at 8 mph. Temps dropping to 45 during the game with a wind chill of 40. Glad I have a sweatshirt and an extra pair of socks with me.

6:53 -- The Eagle has landed.

6:50 -- Auburn is having a moment of silence for former Alabama running back Siran Stacy and his family for the tragic car accident earlier this week. Classy.

6:48 -- Ah, peace is at hand, just like on Sept. 10, 2001, Dec. 6, 1941, and April 18, 1775. At least Nick Saban would make such comparisons, right? Maybe, in the words of former British prime minister Neville Chamberlain, "there will be peace in our time."

6:47 -- Alabama has left the field and won't have as much time for milk and cookies. On the way, Simeon Castille spiked his helmet twice.

6:44 -- Auburn has left the field, presumably for some pregame milk and cookies.

6:36 -- And I was hoping for a good, old-fashioned, midfield, pregame brawl. There are seven uniformed law enforcement officers stationed at various spots on the 50-yard line between the teams.

6:34 -- Didn't realize this is the first Iron Bowl to be played on Thanksgiving weekend since 1992. That was a Thanksgiving Day game and Alabama won 17-0. That weekend, a friend and I drove to Ole Miss and watched the Egg Bowl. That trip's story is long and sordid. I'll have to fill you in some other time.

6:29 -- Twas just announced that Auburn women's gymnastics tickets are available. Line starts at the ticket office in 10 minutes.

6:27 -- Hope is alive. Auburn's band is leaving. I haven't been to an Auburn game since 2004 -- nor an Alabama game, for that matter -- so this might just be a previously scheduled exit.

6:26 -- Just remembered. The Outback blimp is also making an appearance on the Plains tonight.

6:24 -- We regret to inform you that both bands have successfully entered the stadium.

6:19 -- Slight wind coming from the north, currently into the face of Alabama kicker Leigh Tiffin for warmups. Tiffin just pumped one in from 50 without much problem. His season high is 51.

6:14 -- You think Auburn is loose. Patrick Lee was just dancing to another tune ... while awaiting a punt in warmups.

6:10 -- There are three bowls who have passes tonight: Chick-fil-A, Outback and Liberty. OK, the Senior Bowl is here, too, but they don't count.

6:05 -- Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer" is going. Nice to hear the student section sing along with a classic from back in my day. I'm old.

6 p.m. -- It's an hour before kickoff at Jordan-Hare Stadium and there are five of us writers here representing your beloved Agonizer. Following in the example of Mr. Hornet, Josh Moon, and his blog, I thought "what the heck." I'm going to do a live blog of my own. Sure, me posting about football isn't quite what my lovely, widely ignored blog is about, but bear with me.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Rays add four to 40-man; Marlins add Miller

The Rays have added catcher John Jaso, outfielders Fernando Perez and Jason Pridie, and left-handed pitcher James Houser to their 40-man roster, shielding the four from next month's Rule 5 draft.

To make room, Tampa Bay traded outfielder Chris Snelling to the Phillies for cash considerations and designated pitchers Brian Stokes and Jon Switzer for assignment.

All except Snelling are former Biscuits. The Rays claimed Snelling off waivers from the Oakland A's on Oct. 25.

Jaso and Perez were expected to be protected and Pridie isn't a surprise. Houser was steady this season with Montgomery until a mid-August suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. The suspension will keep him out for the first month of the 2008 season.

Stokes was 2-7 with a 7.07 ERA in 59 relief appearances this season with Tampa Bay. Switzer appeared in 21 major-league games and compiled an 0-2 record with an 8.05 ERA.

LATE EDIT: The Marlins added Selma's Jai Miller to their 40-man roster, while the Royals pulled Montgomery native Craig Brazell and former Biscuits infielder Wes Bankston off theirs.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Team USA upsets Cuban juggernaut

The United States won its first International Baseball Federation World Cup since 1974 with today's 6-3 victory over Cuba. The Cubans had won the last nine World Cups.

Jayson Nix, the tournament's most outstanding player, and Jason Jaramillo had two RBIs each, while former Biscuits Justin Ruggiano and Evan Longoria were a combined 5-for-9 with three runs scored.

Nix, an infielder in the Colorado Rockies' system, was 12-of-31 with six extra-base hits, six RBIs and nine runs scored in the Americans' nine games.

Flag courtesy of I eagerly anticipate coverage in the Havana newspaper.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

USA, Cuba reach World Cup championship

Team UAS beat the Netherlands 5-0 in the IBF World Cup semifinals today and will face Cuba (of course) in Sunday's championship. Cuba downed Japan 5-3 in the other semifinal.

Russell County High's Colby Rasmus led off the first inning with a home run and scored twice. Matt Wright gave up four hits in six innings, while former Biscuit Justin Ruggiano capped a four-run eighth with a sacrifice fly.

Rasmus is 12-for-30 with seven walks and seven runs scored in eight World Cup games. He's hit five doubles and two homers.

Aroldis Chapman, 19, allowed three hits over eight innings and struck out 11 for the Cubans, who have won nine straight World Cup titles. The Americans beat the Cubans in Havana last year in an Olympic qualifying tournament.

The U.S. last won a World Cup in 1974.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Arizona Fall League crosses finish line

The Arizona Fall League schedule ended Thursday and will have its playoffs this weekend, but the Rays won't have to worry about that. The Scottsdale Scorpions didn't qualify for Saturday's championship game after finishing 16-16 and 4 1/2 games out of first place.

Reid Brignac -- .177 average, 2 HRs, 6 RBIs
John Jaso -- .256, 3 HRs, 6 RBIs, 7 walks
Chris Nowak -- .240, 2 RBIs, played in only nine games
Evan Longoria -- .318 average before joining Team USA

Nick DeBarr -- 0-1, 2.45 ERA in 11 innings, .171 average against
Calvin Medlock -- 0-0, 1.62 ERA in 16 2/3 innings, 19 strikeouts, .127 OBA
Evan Meek -- 1-0, 0.93 ERA in 9 2/3 innings, 5 walks, .094 OBA
Mike Prochaska -- 3-2, 6.55 ERA in 6 starts (22 innings); debuted with a one-inning, six-run effort; threw five shutout innings Tuesday

I didn't forget about the locals.
Auburn's Michael Nix, with the Peoria Javelinas -- 3-0, 4.73 ERA in 13 1/3 innings
Goshen High's Wesley Wright, with the Peoria Saguaros -- 0-1, 5.06 ERA in 21 1/3 innings, 11 walks
Selma's Jai Miller with the Saguaros -- .233 average, nine RBIs, 33 strikeouts in 22 games

Americans beat South Korea, head to semifinals

Team USA beat South Korea 3-1 today to reach the semifinals of the IBF World Cup. The Americans will play the Netherlands on Saturday. Cuba (of course) and Japan will play in the other semifinal.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Fla. governor likes Rays' stadium idea

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist says he's in favor of the Rays' stadium plans for the current site of Al Lang Field along the St. Petersburg waterfront. That led the team to release a statement from team president Matt Silverman: "The governor's words speak for themselves. We are very pleased to have his support."

Rays keep Reyes, cut ties with Norton

The Rays exercised their option on stopper Al Reyes and declined to do the same with Greg Norton today. They also put their three 60-day DL guys -- Rocco Baldelli, Shawn Riggans and Ben Zobrist -- back on the 40-man roster, as required at this point.

Reyes had 26 saves this year for Tampa Bay. Norton, who had a rehab stop with the Biscuits for a knee injury, could still re-sign with the Rays. Had Norton not went down with a knee injury on the final day of spring training, Carlos Pena (.282, 46 home runs, 121 RBIs) would not have made the team.

Ruggiano, Team USA rough on Taiwan

Former Biscuit Justin Ruggiano homered twice in Team USA's 10-7 win over host Taiwan today at the IBF World Cup.

Ruggiano hit a three-run homer in the seventh to break a 6-6 tie and clubbed a solo shot in the ninth. He was 3-for-5 with five RBIs and the Americans clinched their pool's top seed. They'll face South Korea on Friday in the quarterfinals.

On Tuesday, I was in a football-induced haze and forgot to mention that ... Dodgers third baseman Andy LaRoche knocked in three runs and Russell County High's Colby Rasmus scored twice in the USA's 4-2 victory over South Africa.

In your Nestor Perez update, he had two RBIs today in Spain's 4-3 loss to Japan and was 0-for-2 in Tuesday's 19-1 setback against Mexico. Perez had a .211 average and Spain finished 1-6.

The biggest surprise today was the Netherlands' 2-1 win over Cuba. The Cubans' last World Cup loss was in 2001.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Four Biscuits Topps in Double-A

Biscuits made up a third of the Topps Double-A All-Star team that was released today: third baseman Evan Longoria, catcher John Jaso and pitchers Chris Mason and Dale Thayer.

Russell County High's Colby Rasmus, an outfielder in the St. Louis system, also made the team.

Mason also was named the level's most spectacular pitcher because of his Class AA-best 2.54 ERA.

Monday, November 12, 2007

40-man decisions await for Rays

The Rays have to finalize their 40-man roster in the next week, which will leave a few former Biscuits available for next month's Rule 5 draft.

Basically, the 2004 draft class will be exposed to the Rule 5 draft, unless they're on the 40-man roster ... or were 18 when they were drafted. By my vast methods of (shaky) deduction, that leaves 21 Tampa Bay minor-leaguers who will be potentially exposed next month.

Of the 21, I could only imagine four that teams would be interested in. A Rule 5 draftee has to stay on the active major-league roster for the entire next season or he can be returned to his previous team.

Pitcher Nick DeBarr was taken last season by the Boston Red Sox, but the Sox returned him to the Rays in spring training. Outfielder Jason Pridie went through the same thing two years ago with the Minnesota Twins. Outfielder Fernando Perez and catcher John Jaso are also currently unprotected.

The Rays currently have 36 players on their 40-man roster and three others on the 60-day disabled list who will have to be added to the 40-man before they finalize it. So, you make the move.

Who would you protect and who on the current 40-man roster would you dump?

NOV. 14 ADDITION: I now imagine five possibilities. Evan Meek will also need to be protected and he could be intriguing. He's allowed three hits and one earned run in nine appearances the Arizona Fall League.

Delmon second in AL rookie voting

Former Biscuits outfielder Delmon Young finished second in the AL Rookie of the Year voting to Boston's Dustin Pedroia.

Pedroia drew 24 of 28 first-place ballots and was listed second on the other four. Young had three first-place votes.

Milwaukee's Ryan Braun, who played for Huntsville in the 2006 Southern League championship series, won the NL award.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Americans hit five home runs, drub Spain

Former Jacksonville Sun Andy LaRoche homered twice, while former Biscuit Evan Longoria and Russell County High's Colby Rasmus also added circuit clouts in Team USA's 12-2 win over Spain today.

The Americans (4-1), who hit five home runs, take Monday off and engage South Africa on Tuesday at the IBF World Cup in Taiwan.

Rasmus' three-run, inside-the-park home run highlighted Team USA's game-ending, seven-run seventh. LaRoche and Longoria also hit two-run homers in the seventh. LaRoche also had a two-run shot in the first.

Former Biscuits shortstop Nestor Perez was 0-for-2 for the Spanish.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Setting sun shines on Americans

Dodgers outfielder Delwyn Young hit a three-run homer in the first and former Biscuit Evan Longoria hit a two-run double in the eighth to give Team USA a 5-1 win over Japan on Saturday at the World Cup.

The Americans, after Friday's surprising loss to Italy, are 3-1 in pool play and face Spain on Sunday. With former Biscuit Nestor Perez finishing 1-for-3, the Spanish lost 8-4 to host Taiwan on Saturday.

Rays pine for bay ballpark

The Rays have ideas for a new, open-air stadium by the bay on the site of their current spring home, Al Lang Stadium, to replace drab dome Tropicana Field. The team is moving its spring operations to Port Charlotte, Fla., after next year.

It would be a tight fit, but what a gorgeous view. (The picture at right gives you an idea.)

Friday, November 09, 2007

Italians take Americans down a notch

Italy remained unbeaten in the IBF World Cup with a 6-2 win over Team USA today. Justin Ruggiano homered in a two-run third that cut the Italian lead to 3-2. The Americans face Japan on Saturday.

Nestor Perez's Spain did beat South Africa 7-4 for the Spaniards' first victory. Perez was 1-for-3.

We have a Nestor Perez sighting

It was a fruitless search -- sans the United States and Canada -- for team rosters from the IBF World Cup, until today.

The International Baseball Federation's Web site finally started putting box scores and such to go with the games, here in the third day of action, allowing me to examine the other teams. Low and behold, on Spain's roster, is Nestor Perez, the native Cuban who played for the Biscuits in 2004.

Perez was 0-for-2 in Spain's 11-1 loss to Italy on Thursday. He was 1-for-3 Wednesday in a 6-0 loss to Panama.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Base coaches to don head protection

General managers decided today to require first- and third-base coaches to wear head protection on the final day of the GM meetings in Orlando. That's in response to Class AA Tulsa coach Mike Coolbaugh's death in July after being hit in the neck by a line drive.

They didn't specify what protection -- full double-eared helmet, no-eared helmet, hat liner? -- and will decide that at next month's winter meetings in Nashville.

Longoria homers for Team USA

Former Biscuit Evan Longoria singled in the first run and homered to cap the United States' 7-0 win over Panama today in the IBF World Cup in Taiwan.

Andy LaRoche was 3-for-4 with four RBIs for the Americans, who recorded their second shutout in two tournament games. Matt Wright gave up three hits over six innings, while Russell County's Colby Rasmus, the U.S. leadoff hitter, scored twice and had an RBI.

The Americans face Italy on Friday.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

U.S. wins World Cup opener

Former Biscuits outfielder Justin Ruggiano scored the first run and Monroeville's Chris Booker picked up the save in the United States' 3-0 win over Mexico today in the IBF World Cup in Taiwan.

Ruggiano was hit by a pitch with two outs in the fifth and, after a single and walk, scored on a wild pitch. Russell County's Colby Rasmus walked before Jayson Nix hit a two-run single.

Rasmus finished 2-for-4 and Evan Longoria 1-for-4.

The Americans face Panama on Thursday.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

IBF World Cup starts Wednesday

Team USA faces Mexico on Wednesday (4 a.m. Central time) in its IBF World Cup opener in Taiwan.

Former Biscuits Evan Longoria and Justin Ruggiano, and Alabamians Colby Rasmus and Chris Booker are suiting up for the U.S. Ruggiano was a replacement pick after Cincinnati's Jay Bruce couldn't go.

Longoria is the probable starter at third base.

Monday, November 05, 2007

NY Post: Rays could shop Kazmir

The logic makes sense. If teams will hand the Twins a mother lode for one year of stud pitcher Johan Santana, the Rays could get a similar deal for three years of Scott Kazmir. Santana is a free agent after 2008 and Kazmir won't be. Mets fans are still a little raw over the fleecing they took when they gave up Kazmir in 2004.

What kind of message would trading Kazmir be to Tampa Bay fans? The Devil Rays have tried reaching out, including renaming the team this week -- they're dropping Devil from the nickname. Moving Kazmir now would be a slap.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Rays keep pitching coach Hickey

The Devil Rays are keeping pitching coach Jim Hickey, who jeopardized his employment with a DUI just after the season.

Hickey pleaded no contest Monday to a DUI and leaving the scene of an accident. He has to perform 50 hours of court-ordered community service and will do more through the Rays, according to a press release.

"I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to continue coaching for the Rays,” Hickey said in a release. “Last month, I let down my family, the organization, and the Tampa Bay community. I am truly sorry for my actions."

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Ria Cortesio released by minor leagues

Ria Cortesio, the female umpire who has been in the Southern League for five years, has been released by the minor leagues.

City rolls in Biscuits' dough

The Biscuits made their quarterly rent payment today and counted out more than $274,000 to the city.

The $274,055.87 payment pushed the team's rent total for fiscal year 2007 to $727,365.33. In four years, the Biscuits have paid more than $2.9 million in rent.

The team totaled more than $5.9 million in revenue in the areas it shares with the city as rent, virtually matching its total from fiscal year 2006. The two years differed by less than $40,000.

Areas of revenue interest for fiscal year 2007 ...
Concessions $1,398,522.68
Tickets $1,311,996 (lowest in team's four years, $80,000 less than '05)
Sponsorships $1,200,735 (highest in team's four years)
Group tickets $540,962.50
Retail $491,466.23

The Biscuits totaled 311,872 in announced regular-season attendance this year, 8,800 more than in 2005. They drew almost 323,000 their inaugural year and almost 314,000 in 2006.

The rent is based on a percentage of sales at Riverwalk Stadium. In most areas, the city gets 10 percent after sales tax. In areas without sales tax, the team gets 33 percent. The city gets 100 percent of parking.

The team still exceeds projections used by the city when it approved stadium construction in December 2002. Fourth-year predictions called for 220,000 in attendance and $498,484.90 in total rent.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Birkins' stock goes to Rays

The Rays snagged Baltimore left-handed pitcher Kurt Birkins off the waiver wire today and dropped catcher Raul Casanova from the 40-man roster.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Rays add outfielder, release pitcher

The Devil Rays have added outfielder Chris Snelling and released pitcher Jay Witasick. Tampa Bay claimed Snelling off waivers from the Oakland A's and released Witasick to make room on the 40-man roster.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tillery hopes to hoe Rockies road

Here's one guy with Montgomery ties who will be in anguish over the World Series. Start your pity now.

Brad Tillery, the former Biscuits intern and BTW Magnet/Auburn University graduate best known for his awful "water sprinkler" on-field dance move (representation at left, though it's not Tillery), is a huge Colorado Rockies fan. He used to live in Denver and grew to love the Rox.

Tillery is now the radio voice of the Lansing Lugnuts. He's exiled to the press box, which saves fans from viewing any more of those moves (representation also at left).

I'll say Red Sox in five, which will please Tillery's boss. Lansing general manager Pat Day , formerly an assistant GM with the Biscuits, is a Boston fan. He doesn't show it as much as Tillery.

Of course, Tillery has his own prediction.

And the major-league umpire with Alabama ties drew a World Series assignment. Chuck Meriwether graduated from Athens State. Meriwether works third base tonight and will have the plate for Game 4. He's a 16-year major-leaguer and has one previous World Series (2004).

Friday, October 12, 2007

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Martinez named Tampa Bay bench coach

Former major-leaguer Dave Martinez has been hired as Tampa Bay's bench coach, the Rays announced today. He replaces Bill Evers, whose contract was not renewed after this season.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Rays release 2008 schedule

The Devil Rays won't travel to Atlanta, so there won't be an easy opportunity to see former Biscuits next year.

However, if you can travel to Tampa Bay, might I suggest somewhere between April 8-27? The Rays play 17 home games in that 19-day stretch. Tampa Bay also has a 10-game homestand May 23-June 1 and two nine-gamers: June 12-22 and Aug. 26-Sept. 4.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Perez jots down end-of-season journal

Fernando Perez wraps up the season and his player journal at To me, the most interesting stuff was about some of the advice coaches gave him this year. Perez is also looking for an offseason job.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

McGee tops Davis on FSL list

Baseball America ranked Jake McGee over Wade Davis in its annual list of the Florida State League's Top 20 prospects.

McGee is third and Davis fourth, while first baseman Rhyne Hughes crept in at 20th on the 20-player list. Davis might also land on the Southern League list, which is due out Monday.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Biscuits represented in major-league playoffs

Former Biscuits pitcher Jose Veras is on the New York Yankees' roster for the American League Division Series. He's the first former Biscuit to be on a major-league playoff roster.

Also, umpire Chuck Meriwether is working the Rockies-Phillies series. Why should we care? Because he's a graduate of Alabama's Athens State University. Former major-leaguer Gary Redus, a friend from long ago, was at Athens State at the same time and always kept up with Chuck.

Booker, Rasmus joining Longoria in Taiwan

Monroeville's Chris Booker and Russell County High's Colby Rasmus will be teammates of former Biscuit Evan Longoria on Team USA in the International Baseball Federation World Cup, which will be Nov. 6-18 in Taiwan.

USA Baseball announced the 24-man roster today. The roster is made up of top professionals not currently on a major-league team's 25-man roster.

Booker is with the Washington Nationals and reached the major leagues this season. Rasmus was a first-round draft pick in 2005 of the St. Louis Cardinals, is the team's No. 1 prospect and was a Texas League All-Star at Class AA Springfield this year. Outfielder Jay Bruce of the Cincinnati Reds, who was named Baseball America's Minor League Player of the Year, is also on the U.S. squad.

The roster includes two players who were also on the team last year that qualified the United States to play in the 2008 Beijing Olympics: pitcher Heath Phillips of the Chicago White Sox and pitcher Lee Gronkiewicz of the Toronto Blue Jays. Former Biscuit Jeff Ridgway also was on the team, which beat Cuba in Havana for the qualifying tournament championship.

Roster (major-league team) ...
LHP -- Jerry Blevins (Oakland), Brian Duensing (Minnesota), Neil Musser (Kansas City), Josh Outman (Philadelphia), Heath Phillips (Chicago White Sox)
RHP -- Chris Booker (Washington), Lee Gronkiewicz (Toronto), Jeff Karstens (N.Y. Yankees), Chris Perez (St. Louis), Steven Shell (L.A. Angels), Jeff Stevens (Cleveland), Dallas Trahem (Detroit)

C -- Bryan Anderson (St. Louis), Jason Jaramillo (Philadelphia)
IF -- Brian Bixler (Pittsburgh), Michael Hollimon (Detroit), Andy LaRoche (L.A. Dodgers), Evan Longoria (Tampa Bay), Jayson Nix (Colorado), Steven Pearce (Pittsburgh)
OF -- Jay Bruce (Cincinnati), Tyler Colvin (Chicago Cubs), Colby Rasmus (St. Louis), Delwyn Young (L.A. Dodgers)

USA tournament schedule ...
Nov. 7 vs. Mexico, 6 p.m. Taiwan time, 4 a.m. CST
Nov. 8 vs. Panama, noon Taiwan, 10 p.m. Nov. 7 CST
Nov. 9 vs. Italy, noon Taiwan, 10 p.m. Nov. 8 CST
Nov. 10 vs. Japan, 6 p.m. Taiwan, 4 a.m. CST
Nov. 11 vs. Spain, 6 p.m. Taiwan, 4 a.m. CST
Nov. 13 vs. South Africa, noon Taiwan, 10 p.m. Nov. 12 CST
Nov. 14 vs. Taiwan, 6 p.m. Taiwan, 4 a.m. CST

Group B includes Cuba, Australia, the Netherlands, Thailand, South Korea, Canada, Germany and Venezuela.

Nov. 16, quarterfinals
Nov. 17, semifinals
Nov. 18, championship

Jaxx sold to Sounds minority owner

The West Tenn Diamond Jaxx have been sold to a group that includes Reese Smith, a minority owner of the Class AAA Nashville Sounds. The deal needs approval of the Southern League, Minor League Baseball and Major League Baseball.

The Sounds' plans for a new stadium in Nashville have hit major snags (the city canceled the financing deal this spring) and the Diamond Jaxx have been looking to leave Jackson, Tenn., so maybe a move to Nashville is on the horizon?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Pena, Young win Comeback Player awards

Tampa Bay's Carlos Pena and Washington's Dmitri Young, a former Alabama Christian star, were named Comeback Players of the Year today.

Pena, who made the Devil Rays out of spring training only after an injury to another player, won the AL award. Pena hit .282 and set Rays records with 46 home runs and 121 RBIs this year. He was a non-roster invitee to spring training and wasn't going to make the team until Greg Norton suffered a knee injury in the final exhibition game.

Young had a .320 average, 13 homers and 74 RBIs to win the NL award. The 33-year-old played on Alabama Christian's varsity as a seventh- and eighth-grader. He hit .564 in 1986 and .400 in 1987.

Rays won't renew Evers' contract

The Devil Rays have one coaching position to fill and may have another.

Tampa Bay announced today that bench coach Bill Evers' contract won't be renewed, while no decision has been made on pitching coach Jim Hickey. Third-base coach Tom Foley, hitting coach Steve Henderson, first-base coach George Hendrick and bullpen coach Bobby Ramos are expected to return.

Evers, 53, was hired by the Rays on Oct. 16, 1995, and has been in a Tampa Bay uniform longer than anyone else. He was the manager at Class AAA Durham from 1998-2005 and has been in pro ball as a player, coach or manager since 1976.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Devil Rays pitching coach arrested

Tampa Bay pitching coach Jim Hickey was arrested this morning and charged with DUI, hit and run and resisting arrest without violence.

It came a few hours after the Rays returned from their season finale at Toronto and ended a 66-96 season in which their pitching staff compiled an AL-worst 5.53 ERA and 21 blown saves.

Hickey refused to get out of his car and was removed by St. Petersburg police officers. He was booked into the Pinellas County jail at 3:29 a.m. and made bail at 7:58 a.m.

Jennings named SALLY League's top prospect

Tampa Bay's Desmond Jennings has been named the Class A South Atlantic League's top prospect by Baseball America.

The center fielder hit .315 with 45 steals and 75 runs scored this season for the league champion Columbus Catfish. He missed the last month with a knee injury.

Pitcher Jeremy Hellickson ranked eighth and outfielder Ryan Royster ninth.

Jennings is from Pinson Valley and is a former Alabama football signee. He played in the AHSAA Class 5A championship series two years ago at Paterson Field and Riverwalk Stadium.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Davis, Royster receive top Rays honors

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays picked Montgomery's Wade Davis as their minor-league pitcher of the year and Class A Columbus' Ryan Royster as the organization's player of the year.

Davis was a combined 10-3 with an organization-best 2.50 ERA in 158 1/3 innings between Vero Beach and Montgomery this year. Royster won the organizational Triple Crown: .329 average, 30 home runs and 98 RBIs.

The individual team awards ...
Durham -- pitcher Jeff Niemann, outfielder Justin Ruggiano
Montgomery -- pitcher Chris Mason, third baseman Evan Longoria
Vero Beach -- pitcher Jake McGee, first baseman Rhyne Hughes
Columbus -- pitcher Heath Rollins, center fielder Desmond Jennings
Hudson Valley -- pitcher Alex Cobb, center fielder Emeel Salem
Princeton -- pitcher Jeremy Hall, infielder Omar Luna

inaugural Erik Walker Community Champion Award -- third baseman Patrick Cottrell, who was with Vero and Montgomery this year
(award named for Erik Walker, the pitcher who died last October in a canoeing accident, to recognize teamwork, sportsmanship and community involvement)

Tampa Bay included its Dominican and Venezuelan teams.
Dominican -- Juan Santana (3-4, 1.05 ERA), Ramon Novas (.313, 33 RBIs)
Venezuelan -- Omar Bencomo (2-3, 2.89 ERA), Julio Cedeno (.300, 32 RBIs)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Bankston rides pipeline to Royals

Wes Bankston was claimed off waivers Friday by the Kansas City Royals, making him at least the fifth Biscuit to reach that organization. Joey Gathright and Fernando Cortez went to the Royals last year in a trade, Jason Cromer signed with them last offseason, Jose Diaz landed there before going to Japan this year and now Bankston.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Rays to name minor-league award winners

The Devil Rays are scheduled to announce their organizational minor-league awards next week. They pick the system's top hitter and pitcher, plus a hitter and pitcher for each of their farm teams. To spread the love, the system's top players won't also be a team MVP.

If I had a vote, here's how it would read:
(As always, feel free to tell me where I'm wrong, just provide an explanation of your view.)

Pitcher Heath Rollins, Class A Columbus -- 17-4, 2.54 ERA, set Rays minor-league record for wins, was 9-1 with a 2.09 ERA after July 1, also won two postseason starts.
Outfielder Ryan Royster, Class A Columbus -- won organizational Triple Crown with a .329 average, 30 home runs and 98 RBIs.

Pitcher J.P. Howell -- was 7-8 with a team-best 3.38 ERA and a league-best 145 strikeouts, held hitters to a .229 average.
Outfielder Justin Ruggiano -- led Bulls in average (.309), homers (20), RBIs (73), runs scored (78), stolen bases (26). Jason Pridie was also a tempting choice. Pridie hit .318 but didn't have enough at-bats to qualify for the league leaders.

Pitcher Chris Mason -- 15-4, 2.57 ERA, named Southern League's top pitcher.
Third baseman Evan Longoria -- .307, 21 homers, 76 RBIs, Southern League MVP.

Pitcher Jake McGee -- despite a 5-4 record and an early-August promotion to Montgomery, his 2.93 ERA ranked second in the Florida State League and he totaled a league-best 145 strikeouts.
First baseman Rhyne Hughes -- won the FSL batting crown with a .329 average, also had 12 homers, 57 RBIs and 65 runs scored. This was the toughest choice of the ballot because Sergio Pedroza hit .286 with 22 homers, 70 RBIs and 59 runs scored. Their OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) were identical .907s.

Pitcher Jeremy Hellickson -- was 13-3 with a 2.67 ERA, lost only once in the season's final two months when he allowed four hits and one run in six innings.
Center fielder Desmond Jennings -- had a .401 on-base percentage, scored 75 runs and was 45-of-60 on steals, played in one game in the last month due to a knee injury.

Pitcher Jason Ragan -- 5-6 record, 2.80 ERA in 11 starts, .224 average against.
Outfielder Emeel Salem -- led team with .311 average, was 28-of-36 on steals and scored 41 runs.

Pitcher Jeremy Hall -- was 4-1 with a 1.56 ERA in 12 starts, walked 11 and struck out 59 in 69 1/3 innings.
Shortstop Omar Luna -- .289 average was tops among Rays who played at least 20 games. Tough choice for all the wrong reasons.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Bankston taken off 40-man roster

Wes Bankston came off Tampa Bay's 40-man roster to make room for Justin Ruggiano.

Bankston hit just .238 this year with Class AAA Durham with 15 home runs and 59 RBIs.

With Evan Longoria's emergence at third base pushing Joel Guzman into more time at first base, Bankston wasn't as valuable.

Ruggiano joins Devil Rays

My two-day slumber finally ended today and I find that outfielder Justin Ruggiano has joined the Devil Rays after Carl Crawford was hurt.

Ruggiano hit .309 with 20 home runs and 73 RBIs. He also stole 26 bases and scored 78 runs. The Rays have to also add the 25-year-old to the 40-man roster.

In my sleepy stupor last night, I even watched a little of Chris Seddon's second major-league start. The Florida Marlin took the loss at Atlanta.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Biscuits win Southern League title

Biscuits beat Stars 4-3 for their second straight Southern League championship. Sergio Pedroza hit a three-run home run with one out in the ninth.

(Yep, I'm late with this. The dramatic ending meant I had to rush.)

Game 5 vs. Stars

The Biscuits will either drown their sorrows and excessively party after tonight's Game 5 of the Southern League championship series.

Your lineups ...
Fernando Perez, cf
Josh Asanovich, 2b
Reid Brignac, ss
Chris Nowak, 1b
John Jaso, c
Gabriel Martinez, lf
Sergio Pedroza, dh
Patrick Cottrell, 3b
Erold Andrus, rf
Richard De Los Santos, rhp

Michael Brantley, lf
Alcides Escobar, ss
Hernan Iribarren, 2b
Adam Heether, 3b
Steve Sollmann, 1b
Mat Gamel, dh
Brendan Katin, rf
Lou Palmisano, c
Steve Moss, cf
Steve Hammond, lhp

Ridgway called up to Devil Rays

Former Biscuits reliever Jeff Ridgway was promoted to Tampa Bay after Class AAA Durham's season ended Saturday and awaits his major-league debut.

Pitcher J.P. Howell was also promoted from Durham. The Devil Rays now have 30 players on their active roster.

Ridgway, who was with Montgomery early in 2006, was 2-3 with four saves and a 3.06 ERA with Durham. He made a team-high 54 appearances. In 64 2/3 innings, he had 67 strikeouts and a .228 average against.

Game 5 information

Richard De Los Santos will start for the Biscuits against Stars left-hander Steve Hammond. De Los Santos, who has won two spot starts in the last month, was a surprising choice ahead of Tony Peguero.

"De Los Santos has pitched better," manager Billy Gardner said. "He's had two good spot starts for us, and we'll have everybody available."

Well, maybe not everybody. I gave Gardner an odd look and asked: "Everybody?" I mentioned Wade Davis and Jake McGee and was promptly told "noooo."

If you need a ride, Mayor Bobby Bright says you're on your own. A Bright-sponsored bus for a second straight day isn't in the plans.

"I can't afford two of them," Bright said.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Braves corral Bulls in Game 5

Doug Clark and Carlos Mendez hit back-to-back home runs in Richmond's four-run first and the Braves beat Durham 7-2 for the International League title.

Bulls, Braves take it to Game 5

The Richmond Braves scored three times in the seventh and twice in the eighth to beat the Durham Bulls 6-2.

The Braves forced a decisive Game 5 in the International League championship series. It's scheduled to start at 6 p.m. Central.

Mike Rozema's RBI single snapped a 1-1 tie in the seventh, while Gregor Blanco and Brent Lillibridge also singled in runs.

Justin Ruggiano homered in the fourth and Michel Hernandez singled in Evan Longoria in the ninth for the Bulls.

Game 4 vs. Stars

It's a Chamber of Commerce day at Joe Davis Stadium and the Biscuits can wrap up a second straight Southern League championship with a win in tonight's Game 4 against Huntsville.

Your lineups ...
Fernando Perez, cf
Josh Asanovich, 2b
Reid Brignac, ss
Chris Nowak, 1b
John Jaso, c
Gabriel Martinez, lf
Sergio Pedroza, dh
Patrick Cottrell, 3b
Erold Andrus, rf
Mike Prochaska, lhp

Guilder Rodriguez, 2b
Alcides Escobar, ss
Steve Sollmann, 1b
Adam Heether, 3b
Brendan Katin, rf
Hernan Iribarren, lf
Lou Palmisano, c
Steve Moss, cf
Ryan Crew, dh
Lindsay Gulin, lhp

Friday, September 14, 2007

Durham sits and waits

Game 4 of the International League championship series between Durham and Richmond was postponed due to rain. The teams will play a doubleheader, if necessary, today.

The opener is at 2 p.m. Central today with the nightcap, if necessary, at 6. Durham needs only one win.

Game 3 vs. Stars

Columbus won the South Atlantic League title Thursday, Durham can win the International League tonight and Montgomery faces Huntsville in Game 3 of the Southern League series.

Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright formalized plans to bring a bus to Huntsville, but the trip will be for Saturday's Game 4. The first 45 people to show up -- place and time not provided to me -- get a free ride.

Despite some heavy rain earlier today, nary a cloud is visible right now.

Your lineups ...
Fernando Perez, cf
Josh Asanovich, 2b
Reid Brignac, ss
Chris Nowak, 1b
John Jaso, c
Gabriel Martinez, lf
Patrick Cottrell, 3b
Sergio Pedroza, dh
Erold Andrus, rf
Chris Mason, rhp

Michael Brantley, lf
Alcides Escobar, ss
Hernan Iribarren, 2b
Adam Heether, 3b
Steve Sollmann, 1b
Mat Gamel, dh
Brendan Katin, rf
Lou Palmisano, c
Steve Moss, cf
Derek Miller, lhp

8:10 p.m.: I just found out a story was posted at 11:59 a.m. to detailing the trip.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Catfish sweep South Atlantic series

The Columbus Catfish beat the West Virginia Power 6-0 to sweep the South Atlantic League championship series.

Jeremy Hellickson threw three no-hit innings before leaving after a rain delay, while Matt Fields snapped a scoreless tie with a solo homer in the fifth. Ryan Royster hit a three-run shot in the sixth and Cesar Suarez a two-run homer in the seventh.

Durham takes 2-1 lead in title series

Michel Hernandez's two-run single with two outs in the seventh gave the Durham Bulls the lead in a 3-2 victory over the Richmond Braves.

The Bulls took a 2-1 lead in the International League championship series and are one victory from the title. Game 4 is Friday.

Braves starter Francisley Bueno threw six no-hit innings, but was replaced by Buddy Hernandez to start the seventh. Jason Pridie was hit by a pitch, stole second and went to third on Justin Ruggiano's single. Chris Richard doubled home Pridie to make it 2-1.

After Zach Schreiber replaced Buddy Hernandez, Evan Longoria flied out and Brent Butler grounded out, Michel Hernandez hit a line drive to center to bring both runners home.