The Orlando Calrissians have had a disappointing start to their season. Orlando’s misfortunate has been less visible than the serious struggles of the Salt Lake Samurai. But much like the Samurai, the Calrissians have spent the entire season in or close to the division basement. This week, the Calrissians front office and manager Logan “Lobot” Bothan have decided to clean house, making major changes to both the lineup and the pitching staff with the goal of setting the team on a course to compete.
“If there’s a bright center to the universe, we’re on the planet that it’s farthest from,” said Bothan. “Knoxville and Jackson are like the Death Star: the ultimate weapon, with only the smallest vulnerabilities. We’re going to have to form our own little rebel alliance and find a way to defeat them. It’s out only hope.”
Orlando’s lineup has been completely rearranged with an eye toward jump-starting the sputtering offense, the league’s worst. Players that have performed, like DH Bart Law and 1B Brooks Defoor, have been moved up, while those who have struggled, like 2B Jose Buendia and C Herschel Lesher, have moved down. Two of the worst performers, SS Lucky Barnes (.189/.246/.264) and CF Monte Carquinez (.154/.241/.231), have been benched entirely in favor of Sean Gilmartin and Glen Madden, respectively. The Calrissians also reduced RF Magnus Larson and Lesher to platoon duty, giving more playing time to Arnoldo Nabors and Amos McCormack.
The shakeup extended to the pitching side as well. Orlando’s 5.52 ERA is among the league’s worst, and its starters bear most of the blame: the rotation has posted an ERA of 7.02 this season. Bothan demoted fifth starter Tom Trane (0-2, 9.42) to the bullpen, and sent third start Rick Tomblin (0-1, 15.26) to the minors. Long reliever Chuck Weaver, who has posted a 3.86 ERA in relief, has been slotted in as the new second starter (bumping Steve Gardner to third). As the new fifth starter, Orlando has called up Oscar Morton. The 31-year-old lefty pitched last season in Australia, where he posted an 11-9 record and a 4.34 ERA. Morton is a hard thrower with a wild streak, which should be a contrast to the largely softer-tossing Calrissians rotation.
“I hope we’ve made it clear that playing time is tied to performance,” Bothan said. “We don’t have the luxury of patience, and reputation is meaningless. If you perform, you play. If not, you sit.”
If the Calrissians hope to be contenders, they’ve got a ways to go; less than a month into the season, they’ve already fallen 9 games behind division-leading Knoxville and 7 ½ games behind second-place Jackson. But Bothan hopes that these bold moves will turn things around and destroy what Bothan feels is a loser’s mentality that has settled in the Orlando clubhouse. “We must unlearn what we have learned,” said Bothan of the team’s mentality. “In a dark place we find ourselves, but a little more knowledge lights the way.”
Asked whether he really believed that the Calrissians had the talent to compete with the Smokies and Hammerheads, Bothan said, “I find your lack of faith disturbing,” and walked away.