Calrissians Trade For Crofoot, Sign McNally

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.”

Erasmo Crofoot ORL
Erasmo Crofoot

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.”

Hilton Sircy
Hilton Sircy

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.”

Charles McNally ORL
Charles McNally

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.

Big Shakeup in Orlando

Orlando CalrissiansThe 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.

Logan Bothan
Logan Bothan

“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.

PBL Transactions, 4/19/15 – 4/25/15

The following transactions occurred in the Patriot League over the last week:

California Sharks

 

California Sharks: Traded RP Lucas Henderson to Salt Lake for RP Boss Walker. Demoted RP David Watts. (See story here.)

 

Jackson Hammerheads

 

Jackson Hammerheads: Placed SP Luke Danton and RF Erin Arispe on the 15-day disabled list.  Called up DH Armando Behrens and 1B Vernon Mack.

 

Jacksonville Dragons

 

Jacksonville Dragons: Claimed free agent RP Mike Manigault.  Demoted RPs Elias Rosado and Emilio Abbas.  Waived C Carlos Asperzol.

 

Knoxville Smokies

 

Knoxville Smokies: Traded RP Ward “Blueberry” Jackson to Jacksonville for RP Jack Jacques. (See story here.)

 

Orlando Calrissians

 

Orlando Calrissians: Demoted SP Rick Tomblin. Called up SP Oscar Morton.

Patriot League Preseason Predictions

We asked each of the Patriot League’s owner/GMs to offer their forecasts on how their teams would fare this season.  Enjoy their picks and predictions below:

 

California SharksCalifornia Sharks

“Well, since my manager already said we’re going to win a title, I suppose the least I can do is agree with him.  Seriously, I think our rotation is strong, our lineup is solid one-through-nine, and our fielders can cover a ton of ground.  If we have good luck with injuries, I think we’ve got a shot at this.”

Colin Mills, owner

 

Jackson HammerheadsJackson Hammerheads

“This team has the potential to be a perennial contender. With a top team batting average and on base percentage coming into the season, the opposition will be hard pressed to get anyone in this lineup out top to bottom. A young nucleus, with a few key vets make this team a force to reckon with. Look for the team’s whiz kid GM (me) to make a couple splashes throughout the season.”

Steven Butler, owner

 

Jacksonville DragonsJacksonville Dragons

“Every opposing pitcher will be sweating bullets on the mound at Tesla Field, and if the Dragons can hit as many homers as I think we will, we have a good chance to win the East.”

Eric Stetson, owner

 

Knoxville SmokiesKnoxville Smokies

“Ain’t I supposed to say my guys are the best? Hell, you want me to pick who we’ll facing? I’ll say someone from the West cause the East don’t qualify! I would have said Milwaukee but they hired that guy Loony Zane.  Give me the Outlaws cause the fans will kill off the other teams.”

Snuff Wallace, manager

 

Milwaukee Bear ClawsMilwaukee Bear Claws

“I don’t want to be overconfident, but I think we’ve got a good shot to make the playoffs.  I’m not saying we’re going to win it all, but I think we’re going to be very competitive.”

Jennifer Petitt, owner

 

Orlando CalrissiansOrlando Calrissians

“[No response, probably because he knows his team is doomed or he’s too chicken to argue otherwise.]”

Brian Aufmuth, owner

 

Salt Lake SamuraiSalt Lake Samurai

“We will finish as high as we possibly can with the talent we have. It will depend on the strength of our opponents. Success or failure might depend on the pitching. Their arms carry the answer.”

Sarah Buehler, owner

 

Silver City OutlawsSilver City Outlaws

There ain’t a gunslinger worth the silver in his belt buckle goes into a fight thinkin’ he’s ever gonna lose.  We’ve put together a set of bats to rival anyone and a couple of aces that could knock a flea off a pin at a hundred paces.  In my not-uneducated opinion, the only thing that’ll stop us from taking the Series this year is us shootin’ ourselves in the foot..”

Hank Stroman, GM

Special Star Wars Screening in Orlando

 

BespinBespin, home field of the Orlando Calrissians, held a special midnight showing of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” on Thursday.  The screening, which drew a crowd of almost 5,000, was open to the team’s season ticket holders as a way to celebrate both the continuation of the movie franchise and the beginning of the baseball franchise.

Star_Wars_The_Force_Awakens_Theatrical_Poster
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Theatrical Poster (via Wikipedia)

Calrissians owner/GM Brian Aufmuth, a devoted Star Wars fan, was the driving force behind the screening.  “The timing couldn’t have been better,” Aufmuth said.  “We had a chance to welcome our fans to the stadium and celebrate one of the greatest movie franchises of all time.  It’s a win-win.”

Calrissians manager Logan Botham and several players, including starter Nathan Nunb and second baseman Jose Buendia, turned up at the screening to meet the fans and sign autographs.  “I’ve always been a huge Star Wars fan,” said Botham.  “Growing up, I always dreamed about appearing in one of the movies.  Life has taken me down a different path, but this is a very exciting opportunity.”

The movie was projected on an IMAX screen which was placed in the outfield, and the fans watched from the outfield bleachers.  “It was a really cool experience,” said Calrissians fan George Archer of Kissimmee.  “It was a great way to watch the movie and get to see the stadium.  This place is going to be paradise!”  The team opened the concession stands for the showing, as well as the Vapor Room bar behind home plate and the on-site casino.  Fans showed up hours before the movie began to knock back cocktails, play the slots, and mingle with fellow fans.  “Before we’ve even played a game,” said Aufmuth, “we’re building a community of fans.  I can’t wait for Opening Day!”