Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Now that the waistline has expanded once more with Holiday goodies, it is time to get back to the "important" things in life. That means all things baseball, of course.

If anyone is looking for a little extra inspiration I suggest a visit to www.CarePages.com. Care Pages is the website of the Shepherd Center, the catastrophic care hospital in Atlanta where Pensacola (FL) Pelicans ace Rusty Begnaud was taken for rehabilitation not long after the tragic swimming pool incident last June which left the hurler paralyzed from the chest down.

Rusty's parents, Calvin and Pat, show the grit this entire family seems to display, with their in-depth updates on the 26-year-old's progress now that he is back home in New Iberia, LA. And they find so many ways to express the joys or the small steps of progress in Rusty's new life, whether it is through his new flat screen TV, his talk to a church group of teenagers or his work just to transfer from his (wheel)chair to mats and learning to roll from his back to his side.

We should all gain strength from the Begnaud family.

This corner also would like to send best wishes along to longtime St. Paul (MN) Saints publicist Dave Wright. Dave, who had been at the center of the storied Saints franchise from its infancy, has left that assignment. What stories he must have tucked away in his mind of the days of Kevin Millar, Darryl Strawberry, the hundreds of other players who have come and gone plus all of the promotional stunts that helped put this franchise as well as Independent Baseball on the map.

Good luck, Dave, with whatever you do down the road.

For those of you wondering what the signing of catcher Rad Barajas by Philadelphia might mean to top Indy Baseball grad Chris Coste I don't feel you need to fret too much. Media reports have said the signing of the 31-year-old Barajas should take some of the burden off Carlos Ruiz, who seems likely to be given a chance to become the No. 1 backstop. That much appears to be true, but we were told some time ago the Phillies wanted to carry three catchers which makes it unlikely they expect Ruiz to be behind the plate every day.

And, it is evident Manager Charlie Manuel has not forgotten Coste's contributions in 2006, pointing out to the media during the Winter Meetings that Chris had hit .328 and "did a heck of a job the last part of the season." Since he was catching at least twice every time through the rotation it seems doubtful his starting time will come to a standstill.

Coste, who will play at 34 in 2007, also seems destined to getting some pinch hitting duties and possibly fill-in time at third base and third base. We also know he wears well on his managers.

Subscribe now for off-season columns plus bonus offer...only $25!

Request a Free Week of the Independent Baseball Insider

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


A potpourri of leftovers, mostly from last week's Winter Meetings, which did not make their way into our most recent Independent Baseball Insider column.

The Golden League and United League both seem encouraged about their efforts to start winter leagues next month, although they still have room for more players at this time.

This corner still has not had definitive word about any cities joining the Continental League, but I was told one more time from a league official that they expect to have four to six teams playing in 2007. It sounds to me like Texas and New Mexico communities are the most likely to participate.

What is getting into the Kansas City Royals? Not only are they shelling out some sizeable contracts for major league free agents, but they announced the signing of 21 players to minor league contracts, including onetime Independent Baseball players Roberto Giron (Frontier, Northern and Texas-Louisiana Leagues), Graham Koonce (Golden League), Justin Gemoll (American Association), Omar Pena (Can-Am League) and Cody Clark (Golden). Only Pena was in the Royals' chain last summer. The others came from a variety of major league organizations.

Outfielder Victor Hall, who played with both Mesa and Reno in the Golden League, was the only player with Independent ties selected in the Rule 5 draft at the Winter Meetings. He was taken by Philadelphia in the Triple-A phase of the draft after hitting .320 in 63 games for the New York Yankees' Tampa affiliate. Keep Hall in mind as a possible choice to become the first Golden Leaguer to play in the major leagues.

Independent Baseball will be back on the silver screen in January. The Santa Barbara (CA) Film Festival picked up the 91-minute independent film production about the Samurai Bears, who played in the Golden League in 2005. Golden League Commissioner Kevin Outcalt described the movie as "sort of (like) Bull Durham meets Lost in Translation". Samurai Manager Warren Cromartie sings in the movie and among those who get screen time is Kash Beauchamp, now handling player acquisitions for the South Coast League. Ed Asner's son, Matt, and Donny Gold of Mod 3 Productions produced the movie.

Subscribe now for off-season columns plus bonus offer...only $25!

Request a Free Week of the Independent Baseball Insider

Friday, December 08, 2006


Oh, those good intentions of the Winter Meetings. I am going to find time to blog, get to a few "road office" tasks during down time, etc., etc. Well, here I am scrambling to write something decent from an Independent Baseball perspective, and packing for the trip back home.

The three days I was here--less than 72 hours, actually--are somewhat of a blur this morning.

At times, the center of the baseball universe seemed squeezed around the huge white Christmas tree in the center of the Dolphin lobby. Of course, anyone who has attended a Winter Meetings session realizes the lobby is the most important location to run into a friend, hear the latest trade or free agent rumor or see and be seen.

This lobby, a part of the sprawling Disney Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando (actually, I believe it is Kissimmee), is smaller than the ideal Winter Meetings lobby. It was wall to wall humanity late in the evening, unless someone like super agent Scott Boras walked through, then there would be a tilt factor because the media would swarm to his side of the floor to attempt to hear what he was saying.

A friend asked me--for his blog, incidentally--if I could describe the sound in the room. It wasn't exactly a beehive buzz. What was it? I did not have an immediate answer (Sorry, Larry), but I reflected on his question later that night. The best I could come up with was that the sound, with everyone talking at once, reminded me of Grand Central Station when the trains suddenly stop running and everyone is trapped without a way home.

There were several news tidbits and rumors from the Independent world that I didn't get into this week's Independent Baseball Insider column, but they have to wait until I find more time or I will miss my airplane. Better not be late.

Subscribe now for off-season columns plus bonus offer...only $25!

Request a Free Week of the Independent Baseball Insider

Saturday, December 02, 2006


As we clean off our desk and get ready to head to the Winter Meetings in Orlando we decided you might like to see a recap of all the new managerial appointments in Independent Baseball since the season ended.

We count 17 appointments, including half of the 12-team Frontier League and two-thirds of the new, six-team South Coast League. Eight jobs are open--or at least not announced--by our count, with three of those somewhat surprisingly in the Atlantic League.

The 17 "new" faces include Dave Lapoint, Mike Marshall, Andy McCauley, Dan Shwam and Mike Pinto, all of whom have moved from one city to another. The new appointments by league:

AMERICAN ASSOCIATION: Butch Henry, El Paso; Steve Shirley, Sioux Falls. Pensacola's job is open.

ATLANTIC LEAGUE: Dave Lapoint, Long Island. Bridgeport, Camden and the expansion team at York, PA are open.

CAN-AM LEAGUE: Dan Shwam, Grays (road team).

FRONTIER LEAGUE: Mark Mason, Chillicothe; Jeff Pohl, Evansville; Phil Warren, Gateway; Mike Pinto, Marion; Toby Rumfield, River City; Andy Haines, Windy City. We understand the new Slippery Rock job has been filled although we have not seen an announcement.

GOLDEN LEAGUE: Cory Snyder, St. George; Mike Marshall, Yuma.

NORTHERN LEAGUE: Andy McCauley, Kansas City; Steve Maddock, Schaumburg.

SOUTH COAST LEAGUE: Desi Wilson, Anderson; James Frisbie, Bradenton; Jackie Hernandez, Charlotte County; Phil Plantier, Macon. South Georgia and Aiken are open.

UNITED LEAGUE: Laredo is open.

We will be writing our regular Independent Baseball Insidercolumn from Orlando, and hope to do some blogging as well as the Hot Stove season heats up.

Subscribe now for off-season columns plus bonus offer...only $25!

Request a Free Week of the Independent Baseball Insider