Friday, August 05, 2011


As if the North American League has not had enough issues in its maiden season, it certainly does not need to have a team threatening to cease operation prior to the September 5 regular season finale.

The wrangling over construction of a permanent stadium and the charges of overdue rent between the Lake County Fielders and the city of Zion, IL seems to be reaching a boiling point.

Zion officials insist the Fielders owe $185,000 in back rent (part of it for last season) and Lake County President Rich Ehrenreich is threatening to fold the team, according to various media reports including a lengthy story in today's Chicago-based Daily Herald.

"I think we're certainly within days (of folding) if they're (the city) not going to come to the table to discuss this (completion of the stadium) with us," the Daily Herald quoted Ehrenreich. "Why would we continue to lose money every day in this project."

The newspaper says Lake County has 29 home games scheduled between today and September 5 and also has what it is calling a "now-iffy" final trip to Maui for four games August 10-13.

Earlier this season, Fielders Manager Tim Johnson quit in a salary payment dispute and virtually the entire team was traded or released. The Fielders have a 27-33 record.


One of the five Independent Baseball graduates on a major league disabled list, left-handed reliever Joe Thatcher, has finally been activated by the San Diego Padres.

The Frontier League alum (River City, O'Fallon, MO) had spent the entire season on the DL because of a shoulder strain that required surgery in May. Thatcher had made nine rehab appearances, one with Class A Lake Elsinore, CA and eight with Triple-A Tucson. He allowed only three hits and one earned run in 8.1 innings while striking out 12 and walking three.

Right-hander Brandon Kintzler, who formerly pitched for St. Paul, MN, in the American Association and Winnipeg before that Canadian city moved from the Northern League to the American Association, had a screw placed in his ailing elbow recently and it is debatable whether he will be able to return to the parent Milwaukee Brewers this season.

Shortstop Stephen Drew (Camden, NJ, Atlantic League) almost certainly has been lost to Arizona for the season while his brother J. D. (St. Paul) could get back to Boston. Lefty reliever Alberto Castillo also is on the Arizona DL. He worked for three teams in the Atlantic League (New Jersey cities Newark and Camden plus the traveling Road Warriors) as well as with Schaumburg, IL, which was in the Northern League.


I doubt I am alone when I get tired of seeing teams, in effect, loan players to pennant-contending teams in their own league or another circuit when they fall out of contention. The transactions are frequently labeled as trades for a player "to be named later" only to see a reverse transaction after the season returning the same player to his former team.

Leagues could require the player to stay with the new team well into or throughout the next season.

The acquisition of players from the Mexican League (which ends early) is nearly as bad.

In each instance, a player who has been with the team--possibly all year--loses his job because the roster limit is unchanged.

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