October 2012

That time of the year

There is a new Mehring Monday up on the main website.  It takes a look at the career Raul Ibanez and his home runs.

Speaking of Raul Ibanez, some interesting documents were found as the front office prepared to move over to the new office building – 2350 N. Casaloma, Suite 102.  Those documents are the scoresheets and long form boxscores from the first half of the 1994 Appleton Foxes season.  Ibanez, Alex Rodriguez, and a few other future major league players were part of that team.  I am still trying to figure out how to use them on the blog, but keep your eyes open on this space for a little bit more of Appleton Baseball History.

That time of the year – from the title of the post – would refer to the start of the Fall and Winter Leagues.  Arizona Fall, Dominican Winter, and Venezuela Winter have all started within the last week.  Australia and Puerto Rico will start soon.

As of now, 23 former Timber Rattlers have seen action in the three leagues that have begun play. 

Phoenix Desert Dogs:
Nick Bucci
Khris Davis
Brockk Kjeldgaard
Santo Manzanillo
Hunter Morris
Jimmy Nelson
Josh Prince

Peoria Javelinas:
Caleb Thielbar

Cardenales de Lara:
Edilio Colina
Jose Escalona
Ryan Feireabend
Jose Jimenez
Johan Limonta
Oswaldo Navarro

Navagantes del Magallanes:
Sean Halton
Carlos Maldonado

Bravos de Margarita:
Renee Cortez

Aquilas del Zulia:
Austin Bibens-Dirkx

Caribes de Anzoategui:
Mike Wilson

Aguilas Cibeanes:
Edward Paredes
Juan Sandoval

Leones del Escogido:
Taylor Green

Tigres del Licey:
Carlos Triunfel

No ex-Rattlers playing in the Mexican League that I could find.  I’ll update this list once Puerto Rico and Australia begin play.

Renovation Photos from October 10, 2012

Episode Three can be found here.

We got inside the stadium to do some taping for next week.  A few photos to give you a preview of the Episode Four.

My booth.

From the press box.

All along the concourse.

January 9, 2012

October 10, 2012

From the back of the temporary offices

Meanwhile, in the 2012 Arizona Fall League…

Brewers prospects – with several former Timber Rattlers – are playing for the Peoria Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League.  Action started on Tuesday with the Dogs beating the Phoenix Scorpions 4-3.

Ex-Rattlers in that game:
Khris Davis (’10): 0-for-2, 2 walks
Hunter Morris (’10): 0-for-3, 1 walk
Josh Prince (’09): 0-for-1
Kyle Heckathorn (’10): 2IP, H, 0R, 0BB, 2K, Winning Pitcher

Other former Rattlers to watch for in these games include:
RHP Nick Bucci (’10)
RHP Santo Manzanillo (’10, ’12)
RHP Jimmy Nelson (’11)
OF Brock Kjeldgaard (’09)

The Arizona Fall League schedule runs through November 15.

Rings & Manager News & Sale

Subjects handled in reverse order of the title of the post:

1.) The Timber Rattlers Team Store has announced a “We don’t want to move this stuff back sale”!

The store is up and running at the new location – 2350 N. Casaloma Drive, Suite #102.  As the name of the sale states “We don’t want to move this stuff back” as in, when the renovations are done, we don’t want to move stuff back to the newly expanded team store.  That means 25% off everything – except 2012 championship items – in the store for the rest of the offseason.

Christmas shopping early.  Go for it.

2. Matt Erickson back for two years?

Manager Matt Erickson told the Milwaukee Brewers he would like to remain with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.

Erickson said he recently spoke with Reid Nichols, the Brewers Special Assistant to the General Manager/Director of Player Development, in their annual end of season meeting and let his wishes be known.

“He always asks if I have any questions, what are my long-term goals and if I want to move up,” said Erickson, who led the Timber Rattlers to the Midwest League championship in just his second year. “But it came right back to the present. It’s hard to beat my situation right now, the balance this gives me in my professional life and my family life.

“And to be perfectly honest, in my opinion, the affiliate in Appleton is the best in the organization right now. So I told Reid I would like to stay right here at least two more years.”

3.) The “problem’ with Championship Rings

“There are a million ring people, as I’ve been finding out as they’ve all been contacting me since we won the championship,” said Zerjav, referring to the Timber Rattlers capturing the Midwest League championship.

Zerjav said the organization has decided upon The Elite Group Inc. of Green Bay to handle the design of the rings. The company is owned by Gary Rotherham.

“We’re going to look to him. He helped design the Packers’ Super Bowl rings (in 1996),” said Zerjav. “We like the local aspect, too.”


“A lot of the rings are pretty standard,” said Zerjav. “On one side you have the player’s name, position and the year. Then you have the league and the team record. We talked to a lot of players before they left. Some want the ‘TR’ logo on top of the ring with rubies and a black background. Others want the snake head on top with rubies in the eyes.

Interesting list of possible recipients of the ring.  Click for the details.

Also, I can attest to the design being standard. Here is the ring I received as the radio voice of the Green Bay Gamblers when they won the United States Hockey League’s Clark Cup in 2000.

Simple design of the face.


Side view of logo, name, and record.


Image of the Clark Cup. The saying at the top is “Play for Each Other”.

I haven’t pulled that ring out of the drawer in years.  Simple designs are best.

Rooting Interest for 2012 MLB Playoffs

The  2012 MLB Regular Season has ended and the playoffs start today with the Wild Card Games:  Baltimore at Texas for the American League and St. Louis at Atlanta for the National League.  Oakland, Detroit, and the New York Yankees are the other teams in the AL playoffs.  Cincinnati, San Francisco, and Washington are the other NL teams.

The Brewers missed out on the playoffs this year.  Rattlers fans may want another team to cheer on in the playoffs.  Let’s check the rosters for ex-Rattlers in the MLB postseason to give you a good idea of the possibilities.

Wild Card Teams:
Baltimore (2)
Adam Jones (’04)
Chris Tillman (’07)

Texas (0)*
*-Mark Lowe (’05) was with the Rangers during the regular season, but was left off the playoff roster due to struggles down the stretch.

St. Louis (0)

Atlanta (1)
Eric O’Flaherty (’04, ’05)

Divisional Champions
Detroit (0)

New York (3)
Raul Ibanez (Foxes, 1993 & 1994)
Alex Rodriguez (Foxes, 1994)
Rafael Soriano (2000)

Oakland (0)

Cincinnati (0)

San Francisco (0)

Washington (0)

Toss out the teams with no former Appleton Pro Baseball Alumni on their roster as possible teams to follow in the playoffs.  Good.  Who wants to cheer for St. Louis?

That leaves New York, Baltimore, & Atlanta.

If we go on numbers, that leaves…The Yankees?  Seriously? Pass.

The Braves will already have enough bandwagon fans because of Chipper Jones last ride.  No room there.

That leaves the Orioles.  To lay it out point by point:

  1. Former Rattlers Jones and Tillman both had outstanding seasons in 2012.
  2. Baltimore is in the playoffs for the first time since 1997.
  3. Baltimore was the parent club of the Foxes from 1960-1965.
  4. Earl Weaver and Cal Ripken, Sr. managed the Foxes.
  5. Boog Powell and Dave McNally played for the Foxes.
  6. The Foxes won pennants as an Orioles affiliate in 1960 (Three-I) and 1964 (MWL).
  7. This guy.  Though Wild Bill is gone, he is not forgotten:

The choice is clear.

Go, Orioles!

Renovation photos from October 3, 2012

Episode 2 of Renovation Update has has been posted to YouTube. There is a quick tour of the new front office (2350 N. Casaloma Drive, Suite #102) and a look at the progress made on the demolition. Here is the link for it.

Now, some of what you’ll see in next week’s episode:

View of the press box from the field


View of the lack of a roof on the third base concourse.


Work on the first base concourse.


The only door left standing in the front office is one in the conference room that no one ever used.


A view of what used to be the main concession stand on the third base side of the concourse.



Baseball America’s Top 20 Midwest League Prospects

Drew Gagnon. Not considered? Really?

This post is to provide reasons why the MWL list turned out the way that it did.  Not to howl at the moon and go, “WE WUZ ROBBED!”  I plan to provide a little context and make at least one argument in favor of the inclusion of at least ONE Rattler.

What list?  Oh, read on!

The last paragraph of the article by Jim Callis that accompanies Baseball America’s Top 20 list of Midwest League Prospects that had no Timber Rattlers:

Wisconsin captured the championship with the oldest roster in the league and nary a prospect who received strong consideration for this list. The Timber Rattlers won the finals in four games over Fort Wayne, which led all clubs with five prospects among the Top 20.

I’m going to do some math….back in a second…an hour…head over to this page at Baseball Reference and let’s do math together! Add a the average age of the hitters for a team to the average age of the pitchers for a team and divide by two.  Right?

Okay. Back.
The average age of the 2012 Timber Rattlers was 22.4.  Take out the Major League rehabs to appear with the Rattlers this past season – Shaun Marcum (30), Jonathan Lucroy (26), and Carlos Gomez (26) – and the average drops to 22.3.  They are still the oldest team in the league…BUT by just over a month.

Five oldest teams in the Midwest League (2012):

  1. Wisconsin – 22.4 (adjusted at 22.3)
  2. Burlington – 22.2
  3. Beloit – 22.1
  4. Quad Cities – 22.0
  5. South Bend 21.9

Average age of a player in the Midwest League in 2012: 21.8 years.

Five Youngest teams in the Midwest League (2012):

  1. Lake County – 20.8
  2. Bowling Green – 21.3
  3. Peoria – 21.3
  4. Dayton – 21.5
  5. Fort Wayne – 21.6

It should be noted that I am not getting Dayton’s average age to figure correctly.  Their hitters have an average age of 21.3 even with rehab appearances by Drew Stubbs (27), Joey Votto (28), and Miguel Cairo (38).  Take those players out of the equation and … I get an average age for the hitters of 21.6.  That can’t be right.  So….number with a grain of salt please.

I am not going to argue that a Timber Rattlers player should have been included in the Top 5 prospects on the list.

  1. Javier Baez – ss, Peoria
  2. Miguel Sano – 3b, Beloit
  3. Francisco Lindor – ss, Lake County
  4. Archie Bradley – rhp, South Bend
  5. Noah Syndergaard – rhp, Lansing

The only thing to quibble with the Top 5 ton hat list is the order.  Instead, let’s take a look at the 16-20:

16. Kyle Smith – rhp, Kane County
17.  Travis Jankowski – of, Fort Wayne
18. Adys Portillo – rhp, Fort Wayne
19. Jace Peterson – ss, Fort Wayne
20. Stephen Piscotty – 3b, Quad Cities

Here are five 2012 Timber Rattlers who were placed on Baseball America’s Top 30 list of Brewers Prospects in the 2012 Prospect Handbook: RHP Santo Manzanillo, RHP David Goforth, RHP Drew Gagnon, SS Yadiel Rivera, and 1B Nick Ramirez.

Manzanillo wasn’t going to make the MWL List. He’s been in the league before, was still working his way back from his car accident, and didn’t have enough games with the Rattlers in 2012 to be eligible.

Rankings are not entirely based on stats in a particular year.  How a particular observer projects that player will do in the future is a big part of it

The point that Yadiel Rivera hit .247 with 12 homers, seven stolen bases and 22 errors while Peterson hit .286 and stole 51 bases with 28 errors may mean less than the data points that Rivera is 20 and was a 9th round pick in 2010 while Peterson is 22 and a 1st round pick in 2011.

Also, where a player was drafted – if he was drafted at all may have a lot to do with it.  Brandon Macias had an incredible 2012.  He was at or near the top of the list in a lot of offensive categories – OBP, runs, average, doubles, hits, hit by pitch. By any standard an outstanding season.  Except with the list makers.  Macias an non-drafted free agent in 2011 is not going to get consideration for a list like this while Stephen Piscotty, a supplemental first round pick in 2012, makes the list. Piscotty played well in 55 games for Quad Cities in 2012.  Project his numbers out over a full season and the numbers may be a bit similar with maybe a slight edge to Macias.

But the list makers will  give the edge to Piscotty every time.  It’s just the way the lists work.  After watching and getting to know Macias all of the 2012 season, he doesn’t care about lists and whether he makes them or not.  He’s just going to go out there are play hard and to the best of his ability every day.

Player vs. player comparisons may not be as big of a factor as some of the other criteria used to slot players on the list.  BUT, here is a player-to-player comparison:
Drew Gagnon was 6-1 in 14 starts with a 2.83ERA and 65 strikeouts in 82-2/3 innings with the Rattlers before being promoted to Brevard County in the Florida State League.  Gagnon is 22 and was a 3rd round pick in 2011.

Adys Portillo was 6-6 in 18 starts with a 1.87ERA and 81 strikeouts in 91-2/3 innings with Fort Wayne before being promoted to San Antonio in the Texas League.  Portillo is 20 and was signed out of Venezuela on July 2, 2008 when he was 16.

I’m not saying that Portillo should be taken off the list and Gagnon belongs in his spot.  But, to say that Gagnon – or any of the Rattlers who were eligible for the list that Baseball America considers prospects – didn’t receive strong consideration for the list is a little ridiculous.

Just for fun, Baseball America’s Top 20 list of Midwest League Prospects after the 2009 season.

 1. Aaron Hicks, of, Beloit (Twins)
2. Dee Gordon, ss, Great Lakes (Dodgers)
3. Josh Vitters, 3b, Peoria (Cubs)
4. Brett Lawrie, 2b, Wisconsin (Brewers)
5. Mike Montgomery, lhp, Burlington (Royals)
6. Casey Crosby, lhp, West Michigan (Tigers)
7. Simon Castro, rhp, Fort Wayne (Padres)
8. Jaff Decker, of, Fort Wayne (Padres)
9. Cody Scarpetta, rhp, Wisconsin (Brewers)
10. Ethan Martin, rhp, Great Lakes (Dodgers)
11. Tim Melville, rhp, Burlington (Royals)
12. Eric Hosmer, 1b, Burlington (Royals)
13. A.J. Pollock, of, South Bend (Diamondbacks)
14. Wily Peralta, rhp, Wisconsin (Brewers)
15. James Darnell, 3b, Fort Wayne (Padres)
16. Chris Archer, rhp, Peoria (Cubs)
17. Kyle Russell, of, Great Lakes (Dodgers)
18. Grant Desme, of, Kane County (Athletics)
19. Pedro Figueroa, lhp, Kane County (Athletics)
20. Chris Carpenter, rhp, Peoria (Cubs)

Also for fun, here is what Jim wrote about the MWL Champions that year:

Decker and third baseman James Darnell, a 2008 second-rounder, were part of a TinCaps team that won a minor league-high 94 games and both half-season titles in the MWL East, then swept Burlington in the playoff finals.

And the Champions in 2010:

Great Lakes led all minor league teams with 90 regular-season victories, but the Loons came up short of a championship. They dropped the last two games of their semifinal series to Lake County, which didn’t place a single player on this Top 20 Prospects list.

And the Champions in 2011:

Another righthander, Carlos Martinez, drew comparisons to Pedro Martinez (no relation) and would have given Walker a run for the top spot had he not been promoted after just eight starts for eventual champion Quad Cities.

At the end of the day, the 2012 list has done its job.  It gave us a starting point for the 2013 season and got us talking about Baseball America – and baseball – two weeks after our season ended.

Worth 2,000 words

Two pictures that are worth 1,000 words each.

Full shot of Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry wearing the Timber Rattlers Jersey as part of losing his wager on the MWL Championship Series.

Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry.

A new order of Championship T-shirts are in at the team store.

Championship T-shirts now in red!

Much more at this week’s Mehring Monday on the main website.

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