Chalk up one more for the Somerset (NJ) Patriots.
Travis Anderson's walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning Monday night lifted Sparky Lyle's gang to its fourth Atlantic League title, and officially ended the Independent Baseball season.
This corner's attention immediately shifted to the major league postseason, and to which Independent players might be on the 25-man rosters.
In other words, lots of news and thoughts, as always.
I had thought reliever Mark DiFelice might have a chance of being among the chosen 25 at Milwaukee, especially since Manager Dale Sveum had used the right-hander in some key spots down the stretch. It was not to be, we learned late Tuesday, but DiFelice, who pitched for both Somerset and its Atlantic League championship series opponent Camden, NJ in his Indy days, will stay with the Brewers which means there always is a chance he could be activated for later in October.
If anyone spots the 32-year-old during the Division Series against the Phillies it will be pre-game or in the stands since only six players not active will be allowed on the bench. Milwaukee identified its sextet, mostly veteran players. For the record, DiFelice finished with the fourth best earned run average on the Brewers' staff, posting a 2.84 ERA and winning the only decision of his first year in the majors. Four walks and 20 strikeouts in 19 innings (17 hits) look pretty good on the resume for next season.
THREE OR FOUR EXPECTED TO BE ON ROSTERS
All the details will not be known until Wednesday because some teams have that long to make a decision, but it would appear either three or four players with actual Independent playing experience will be active for the Division Series.
Milwaukee has catcher Mike Rivera (Atlantic City, NJ), who hit .306 during the season but seldom plays because of backing up durable Jason Kendall. It does not help his case of pinch-hitting since the Brewers only carry two catchers. Chris Coste (Fargo, ND, Northern League, plus the defunct Prairie and North Central Leagues) has a similar role with Philadelphia although his chances of playing or coming off the bench are much better since Carlos Ruiz's bat is not his strong suit. Outfielder J. D. Drew (St. Paul, MN) appears likely to be ready to play for Boston (barring any late recurrence of his injuries), and lefty Craig Breslow (New Jersey Jackals) will be in his usual situational role in the Minnesota bullpen, if the Twins outlast the Chicago White Sox in their one-game playoff.
A few of the other players who finished the season with playoff-bound teams may be invited to stay around, as DiFelice is doing.
SOMERSET PREVAILS IN '01, '03, '05, '08
We intend to get deeper into Somerset's success in this week's subscriber-only Independent Baseball Insider, but it is no secret Newark, NJ is the only other team to grab even more than one Atlantic League title in the 11 seasons the league has been around. Newark has won twice. The Patriots' legend grows with its fourth championship, all in this decade. Third baseman Brandon Larson was named MVP of the final series, won in four games by Somerset.
GRIMES' HOT SEASON PAYS OFF WITH METS DEAL
Outfielder Scott Grimes of Worcester, MA, who took Player of the Year honors in the Can-Am League, has been rewarded for his .365-21-57 season and a league-record 87 runs by signing with the New York Mets' organization. His is one of several signings we have seen already in the early days since the various Independent league playoffs have finished. There will be more to come.