Intra-division play resumes today. Find out what happened below the fold…
The first round of inter-division play wraps up today. Who came out on top? Find out below…
It was a day of key hits and costly errors in the Patriot League today. Who came out on top? Read on to find out!
The Orlando Calrissians have made a major shakeup to their coaching staff, and may be on the verge of an even bigger one. The team fired pitching coach Tyler Thornton and hired Hall of Famer John Smoltz to replace him. And according to team sources, manager Logan “Lobot” Bothan has been put on notice that if the team’s level of play doesn’t improve soon, he too may find himself on the unemployment line.
The Calrissians have been a major disappointment this season, posting a 10-21 record and remaining firmly in the Eastern Division basement for virtually the entire season. While the team has been weak on both sides of the ball, the front office chose to address the pitching performance first. Under Thornton, Orlando has posted a team ERA of 6.08, which is sixth in the league. Three-fifths of the team’s original starting rotation has either been demoted to the minors or exiled to the bullpen.
When asked for the reason behind the change, Calrissians owner Brian Aufmuth was blunt. “At this point, our pitchers couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn from 10 feet away,” said Aufmuth. “Their mechanics suck and they clearly lack confidence.”
Aufmuth made it clear that he hopes Thornton’s firing will send a message to the rest of the team. “It was time for a change,” said the owner, “and to show the whole team they better start playing like they are being paid.”
Smoltz is a pitching legend, having won over 200 games in the major leagues while compiling a 3.33 career ERA over 22 seasons. He excelled as both a starter and reliever, collecting over 150 career saves. It was Smoltz’s success and versatility that made him appealing to the Calrissians, despite his lack of coaching experience.
“Smoltz is a proven winner as a starter and in the bullpen,” said Aufmuth. “He is someone everyone on the pitching staff can respect and learn from.”
For his part, Smoltz is excited for the opportunity. “I’d always considered coaching as a possible career path,” said Smoltz. “To get in on the ground floor with a young organization… that’s a dream come true. We’ve got a young staff with a lot of potential. I see great things in their future.”
Some observers wondered why hitting coach Bobby Brunson was not let go, as the Calrissians offense has arguably been worse than the pitching. The team’s .235 batting average is worst in the league, and their .363 slugging percentage is ahead of only the Salt Lake Samurai. The scuttlebutt around the clubhouse is that Aufmuth has another big name in mind for that position: all-time hits leader and former manager Pete Rose. However, the league office is reportedly hesitant to allow the Calrissians to hire Rose, given his lifetime ban from Major League Baseball.
The team’s poor overall performance has severely dented Aufmuth’s confidence in Bothan. According to team sources, the manager has been stripped of his say in personnel decisions, and is reportedly on “a very short leash” to demonstrate improvement before his continued employment is in jeopardy.
Aufmuth declined to state how long Bothan would be given to turn things around. “I’ve told him I’ve altered our deal,” said Aufmuth, “and he should pray I don’t alter it any further.”
A couple of tight games, a blowout and a rainout on today’s schedule. Find out all about it below the fold…
The following transactions occurred in the Patriot League over the last week:
Jackson Hammerheads: Activated RF Erin Arispe from the 15-day disabled list. Demoted 1B Vernon Mack. Traded DH Erasmo Crofoot to Orlando for RP Hilton Sircy. (See story here.)
Orlando Calrissians: Claimed SP Charles McNally off the waiver wire. Places RP Tom Trane on the 15-day disabled list. Called up RP Aron Filippi. Demoted SP Steve Gardner. Waived DH Jerome Arch. (See story here.)
Salt Lake Samurai: Placed RF Romeo Martinez on the 15-day disabled list. Called up 3B Luis Poncilar.
Silver City Outlaws: Demoted OF Beau Baynes. Called up OF Kent “Tex” Whittier.
We’re back to a full slate of action in the Patriot League today. Read on to find out what happened!
The Orlando Calrissians, mired in a season-long slump and stuck at the bottom of the Eastern Division, shook up their roster with two big moves today. First, they acquired DH Erasmo Crofoot from the Jackson Hammerheads to bolster their feeble-hitting lineup. Next, they signed veteran starter Charles McNally to add experience to their rotation.
“It was time for us to make a change on both sides of the ball,” said Calrissians owner/GM Brian Aufmuth. “The way we’ve been playing this year is not acceptable.”
The 30-year-old Crofoot has been a pleasant surprise for the Hammerheads. Claimed off the waiver wire during spring training, Crofoot slugged his way near the top of the league leaderboard with 14 home runs. He also became a fan favorite in Jackson for his all-or-nothing swing and the lifelong globetrotting journey that brought him to the league. But the Hammerheads’ team concept de-emphasizes raw power, and the front office was reportedly concerned that the slugger was too one-dimensional a player to succeed in the long term. Crofoot batted a mere .220 for Jackson, he has had no doubles or triples, and he had more strikeouts (35) than hits (29).
But for the Calrissians, who have hit only 28 home runs as a team, Crofoot’s power would be a blessing. He is expected to play second base, his natural position, in Orlando.
“Well, I’m used to moving around, so what’s one more stop?” said Crofoot. “It’s good to know that there’s somebody that wants me enough to trade for me. I want to thank the Hammerheads organization for giving me a shot to chase my dream.”
The Calrissians did not acquire Crofoot cheaply, giving up relief pitcher Hilton Sircy in exchange. The 23-year-old Sircy, who came to Orlando via the Polynesian League, was the Calrissians’ most effective pitcher by far, posting an 0.96 ERA. He appeared in only 5 games for the Calrissians, however, and some scouts have raised questions about his durability.
“While we appreciate everything Erasmo Crofoot has done for this team, we felt we had to make this deal,” said Hammerheads owner/GM Steven Butler. “A reliever of Sircy’s caliber is hard to find, and we could really use another lockdown arm in our bullpen.”
Shortly after striking the deal to acquire Crofoot, the Calrissians claimed McNally off the waiver wire. The 37-year-old is best known in Patriot League circles for the locker-destroying tirade he went on after being released by the Jacksonville Dragons in spring training. The Calrissians hope that he can bring some veteran experience to a rotation that is long on potential but short on results. McNally replaces Steve Gardner, a 21-year-old right-hander who has shown flashes of great promise along with serious inconsistency. Gardner compiled a 2-4 record and a 6.30 ERA with the Calrissians. In his last start before being sent down, he allowed 10 runs to California, including 8 in the first inning.
“I’ve been sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring,” said McNally, who reportedly turned down coaching offers. “I know I’ve still got some gas left in the tank, and I’m gonna show the rest of the league that they were wrong to pass me over. Especially Jacksonville. I can’t wait to pitch against them.”
In an unrelated move, the Calrissians placed left-hander Tom Trane on the disabled list with a strained oblique. Trane injured himself during Wednesday’s game against Milwaukee. Orlando called up 21-year-old lefty Aron Filippi to replace Trane.
Only one game on the schedule for today, as most of the league enjoys a welcome day off. Today’s score awaits below…