February 2011

Welcome to the party, Pal

New Midwest League radio announcer…in Burlington:

Jon Versteeg was named the Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations on Wednesday.

Versteeg comes to the Bees from the Connecticut Tigers of the New York-Penn League where he served as director of media relations in 2010 and radio broadcaster for all 76 games. He has also called games for the Joliet JackHammers (2006-2009) of the independent Northern League as well as the Salem Avalanche of the Carolina League and Tri-City ValleyCats of the New York-Penn League.

In the off-season, Versteeg works as the radio studio host for Northern Illinois University football and men’s basketball. He also calls men’s and women’s basketball for North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, NC.

I wonder if he’s, you know, one of those….

A 2005 graduate of Syracuse University where he covered Orange football, basketball and lacrosse on WAER Radio…

Oh, great. Another one from the ‘Cuse.  It’s almost like they have a big time broadcasting school out there or something.

John, allow John McClain and me to say, “Welcome to the party, pal!”

WelcometothePartypal.jpg

Thursday Program post (1970)

This is going to be a fun one.  Click for the larger images.  Make sure to check out the .pdf files, too.

The 1970 cover with a photo of a packed Goodland Field grandstand….and the ad for Zaug’s vending…
1970foxescover.jpgNext up is this version of the Foxes honor roll…And the Cubs were on WAPL?

1970honorroll.jpgSomebody kept score during this game between the Foxes and the Clinton Pilots.  No, the person didn’t stop scoring after seven innings.  Appleton lost 1-0 on a 2-hitter in one of the games of a doubleheader.  Also, Bleier’s Bar should be familiar to Steelers fans as well as Appleton locals.

1970scorecard2.jpgHere is a fun couple of pages with pictures from Foxes History.  Make sure to click on this page for the larger images.  The team photo in front of the bus and the honorary firemen might be my favorites.  I may crop these and post the photos individually later.  But, this page is A-Level Awesome!

1970picturesfromthepast.jpg
Here are a pair of inserts that were, um, inserted into the program.  Sorry about the extra clicks.  But, I wanted to test posting a .pdf to see how the game notes posts will look during the season.

The first one is from a game between the Foxes and the Clinton Pilots.  In 1970, the Pilots were an affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers.  Jim Slaton is listed on the roster…but as Jim Slates.

1970insertsheet.pdf

This is an insert for a series against the Danville Warriors.  Danville was a true co-op team with players from 12 different major league systems.

1970insert2.pdf

I see green! I see green!!!

And I am not taling about the batter’s eye in center field!

Field photos 002.JPG

Yesterday, the only thing that could be seen was the very top of the pitchers mound. Now…Spring is almost here!  Opening Day is just seven weeks away!

A word about an Annual

I received an offer from Brian Carriveau of CheeseheadTV (and various other websites) to write an article for the Maple Street Press Milwaukee Brewers Annual 2011.

MapleStreetPressBrewersAnnual2011.jpg
My article is about the relationship between the Timber Rattlers and the Brewers.  But, there is so much more in the annual.  The top Brewers bloggers on the web all contributed articles.  I have been paging through my advance copy in my free moments over the last few days and there is a lot of great stuff.

This is being mentioned today because today is the day that Maple Street Press is starting to ship the Annual.  It will be on newsstands on March 1, but you can order it right now and it will be sent out to you.

Here is the link to order it

I am just going to steal the table of contents from Jaymes at The Brewers Bar.  Nice work on that, Jaymes. Thank you.

Turning Up The Heat
by Kyle Lobner
After a busy offseason, take a player-by-player look at the roster to see how the Brewers size up heading into 2011.

An Aggressive New Direction
by Drew Olson
Ron Roenicke is bringing a different brand of baseball to Milwaukee.

Past And Present
by Jaymes Langrehr
Take a “big-picture” look at the direction of the Brewers organization.

Stocked Up On Talent
by Kyle Lobner
With several new roster additions, the Brewers are hoping to avoid the same old results.

Know Thy Enemy
by Tony Wilson
Look at the NL Central, including last year’s division-winning Reds, the always dangerous Cardinals, and the rival Cubs.

Carving His Own Niche
by Jordan Schelling
Entering
only his fifth year in the major leagues, Ryan Braun is becoming one of
the best known figures in Brewers franchise history.

A Contending Rotation
by Brian Carriveau
Thanks to Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke, the Brewers boast one of baseball’s best rotations.

Back In The Booth
by Drew Olson
Bob Uecker’s absence in 2010 only underscored how much he means to the Brewers.

Success Is A Relief
by Brian Carriveau
The Brewers bullpen has Milwaukee poised to contend this coming season.

Identity Building Exercise
by Nicholas Zettel
The 2011 season will go a long way toward determining how good several of the Brewers’ star players become.

Looking For Leather
by Jaymes Langrehr
Just how bad was the Brewers defense in 2010?

A Lead-off Profile
by Jack Moore
Statistics show that Rickie Weeks was born to lead off.

Farm Report
by Ryan Topp
Take a look at the inner workings of the Brewers farm system.

The Future Of The Franchise
by Jim Breen
Check out the minor league prospects bubbling just beneath the major league surface.

Forging A Friendship
by Chris Mehring
With two seasons under their belt, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers are earning their keep as a member of the Brewers farm system.

Brewing Up Memories
by Jason Wilde
As Miller Park celebrates its 10th season, look back on some of the park’s most memorable moments.

Team Streak
by James Wold
From
Juan Nieves’ no-hitter to Paul Molitor’s 39-game hitting streak, the
1987 Brewers were one of hte most remarkable teams in franchise history.

Larger Than Life
by Mike Johnson
CC Sabathia only spent about three months in Milwaukee as a member of the Brewers. But what an amazing three months it was.

Needs More Uecker
by Scott Vander Helden
Introducing “Word Association: Milwaukee Brewers Last Names Edition.”

The Super Second Chance offer in the media

Our own Ryan Moede was on the radio with Justin Hull of The Score yesterday.  Here is a link to the interview.

Here is the link to the story on the Rattlers website.

How to train the Dragons

A couple of stories from the Dayton Daily News about the Midwest League affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds and their new manager Delino DeShields.

#1 Will Dragons be more exciting this season?


A feistier approach is only one way in which DeShields should stand apart from Todd Benzinger, who was not asked back by the Cincinnati Reds after two seasons. Unlike Benzinger, DeShields sees managing in Dayton as a means to an end. He hopes to work his way back to the big leagues and knows he must be prepared to handle an entire roster, including pitchers.

Toward that end, DeShields said he recently informed Dragons pitching coach Tony Fossas that his days of determining when to make pitching changes are over. Fossas, in addition to training the arms, had done this under Benzinger.

“I don’t know how Todd Benzinger or (two-term Dragons manager) Donnie Scott did it, but the manager handles the pitching staff,” DeShields said flatly.

And…

The Dragons, who last season finished 53-85 and endured a record 24-game home losing streak through the guts of the summer, will be taking delivery on a new set of players, many of whom DeShields managed as rookies in Billings, Mont., last season.

“We’ll be exciting,” DeShields said. “We’re going to run, hit-and-run, bunt. I’m not going to sit back and get beat.”

#2. ‘Next wave’ excites DeShields

According to Baseball America, the bible of the minor leagues, the Dayton Dragons could start the season with six of the Cincinnati Reds’ top 16 prospects and nine of the top 30.

Last season’s opening-day roster contained one player in the top 20. In 2009, the Dragons had none in the top 30.

It’s one reason new manager Delino DeShields, introduced at a Fifth Third Field press luncheon on Tuesday, can’t wait to get started.

“You had the (Chris) Heiseys and the (Joey) Vottos come through here,” DeShields said. “This is the next wave.”

And…

Most intriguing is shortstop Billy Hamilton, ranked as the Reds’ No. 2 prospect behind pitcher Aroldis Chapman, who is already in the major leagues. Not since Jay Bruce in 2006 have the Dragons begun a season with a player this highly touted.

“He’s a humble, grounded kid who has a chance to be a game-changer,” DeShields said.

One scout called Hamilton, 20, the fastest player in professional baseball. The switch-hitter batted .318 last season and led the Reds organization with 48 stolen bases despite starting in mid-June.

The Rattlers go to Dayton this year, June 3-5.

Pineda gets some press

Former Timber Rattlers pitcher Michael Pineda (’08) is one of the top prospects in baseball.  USA Today takes a look at why.

The Michael Pineda watch began in earnest last spring. He was just a kid getting a few innings of work late in a couple of spring games.

Fellow Seattle Mariners prospect Dustin Ackley sure took notice. “He’s unbelievable,” Ackley said of the imposing pitching prospect who is ranked No. 4 among our 100 Names You Need to Know.

Pineda, 22, could be No. 2 in the Seattle rotation by the end of this season.

“There’s a spot in the rotation for him,” Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik says.

Is he another Felix Hernandez, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner and Seattle ace? Not yet.

As for the pertinent numbers on Pineda, who was signed in 2005 in the Dominican Republic as a 180-pound 16-year-old, try 6-5, 245 and 100. In other words, he’s filled out that frame growing up in the Mariners system and, yes, he can hit 100 mph.

Notes about Chuck Tanner

You may have heard about the passing of Chuck Tanner.  A major league manager who won a World Series with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1979.  There is a tie between Appleton baseball history and Chuck Tanner.  More on that in a moment.

First, check out this story at Big League Stew about the his hometown of Newcastle, Pennsylvania paying their respects.

Meet Tanner and Hayden Zissis. They’re both fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates and both were on hand to pay their respects to Chuck Tanner in Newcastle, Pa., at his wake on Tuesday. As you might be able to guess, Tanner is named after the manager of the world championship 1979 squad, even though he was born 22 years after the accomplishment. Both Tanner and his brother wore their Chuck Tanner jerseys, his trademark bucket hats and gold stars with his No. 7 emblazoned in the middle. That’s a nice tribute for Chuck Tanner, who passed away last week at age 82.

There is a link within that post that leads to this story in the Detroit Free Press.

Jim Leyland was a close friend of Chuck Tanner, the longtime major league manager. Tanner lived near Pittsburgh, not far from Leyland.

Tanner, whose health had been failing for some time, died Friday. When Leyland spoke to Tanner’s son Bruce later in the day, Bruce relayed a message his father had recently given him.

As Leyland explained:

“He told Bruce, ‘You tell Jim Leyland to get his *** to spring training and don’t even think about coming up here for the service.’ “

Bruce Tanner is one of the Appleton ties to Chuck Tanner.

The elder Tanner was the manager of the Chicago White Sox from 1970-1975.  At that time, the Appleton Foxes were the Midwest League affiliate of the team from the south side of Chicago.

The Sox picked Bruce Tanner in the fourth round of the 1983 draft.  Bruce appeared in a few games for the Foxes in 1983.  In 1984, Bruce Tanner had a pretty good year for the Foxes.  The younger Tanner was 12-4 in 37 games (nine starts) and tossed 123-2/3 innings to help the Foxes to their third straight Midwest League Championship.

Prospect Madness so far

If you are not following Prospect Madness over at Bernie’s Crew – well, you should be – here are the results so far:

Kyle Heckathorn over Hitaniel Arias

Cody Hawn over Eric Arnett

D’Vontrey Richardson over Jose Pena

Daniel Meadows over Maverick Lasker

Still time in the two polls going on today. 

Mike McClendon v. Sean Halton (open until 12:30pm today)

Logan Schafer v. Josh Butler (open until 8:30am Thursday)

You know the drill:  Head over, read, vote.

Also over at the Timber Rattlers home page

Dusty Rhodes, the new hitting coach of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, steps into The Interrogation Room.

For those of you wondering: This is an excerpt from Dusty Rhodes in The Interrogation Room:

TIR:
Looking back at some old schedules on the UNF
baseball site, we noticed that your Ospreys had some battles with former Timber
Rattlers pitcher Kyle Heckathorn when he was with Kennesaw State.  What do
you remember about Heck’s games against you?

DR: I watched him get better every year we played them. He had a
tremendous arm and some of the best games he pitched in college were against us.
He was always a competitor. His last year at Kennesaw State there was no
question he was one of the best pitchers in the nation.

This is NOT an excerpt from Dusty Rhodes in The Interrogation Room:

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