Archive for the ‘ Dailies ’ Category

Jurickson Profar’s Historic Pounding of the Ball

By Ben Gellman
Broadcasting Assistant

The Crawdads have a prodigy at shortstop in 18-year-old Jurickson Profar.  No shortstop in the South Atlantic League has turned more double plays, and no player in the league is younger (including Hagerstown’s much-hyped Bryce Harper).  He’s batting .424 since May 16, and leads the team in homers after last night’s solo blast.

John Sickels of MinorLeagueBall.com gave high praise to Profar in a blog post yesterday, so he’s clearly catching some eyes.  While Profar’s defense has drawn rave reviews in all quarters, it’s what he’s done at the plate this season that is so impressive.

Through his first 36 games, Profar is batting .279 with 36 hits.  Of those 36 hits, 20 have been extra-base hits, powering Profar’s team-best .550 slugging percentage.  That’s 55.55% of his hits going for extra bases.  His isolated power (SLG-BA) is .271.  How good is that?  Well, only seven MLB players have a better ISO right now.  None of them are middle infielders.  Throughout MLB history dating back to 1871, only 13 seasons with an ISO above .271 have been turned in by a middle infielder.  Six of those came from Alex Rodriguez, and 5 came from Ernie Banks.  (The other two belong to Rico Petrocelli and Bill Hall.)

That gives you an idea of just how rare it is that Jurickson Profar is turning in so many extra-base hits.  When he puts the bat on the ball, fans here in Hickory know extra bases are in the offing.

Rangers Top Prospects Preview

By Ben Gellman
Broadcasting Assistant

The Texas Rangers have put a lot of resources over the past decade into restocking their farm system, and here in Hickory, we get to see the benefits of that.  Crawdads fans cheer on some of the top prospects in the game as they pass through, and today I’ll start to take a look at the top prospects at a few positions for the Rangers by examining catcher and first base.

Catcher: When will the Rangers be ready to trust Taylor Teagarden?  The backstop has been waiting to take the reins behind the plate for Texas for a number of years, but a series of other catchers have blocked his way.  His defensive skills are well-regarded, and he can provide a little pop with the bat as well.  Teagarden is now behind Yorvit Torrealba, Matt Treanor and Mike Napoli, and there’s no telling when he’ll get a chance at the job.  Expect Teagarden to spend most of the 2011 season playing with the Triple-A Round Rock Express, unless he gets used as a trade chip.

First Base: People forget how highly touted Chris Davis was for a very long time.  Before Justin Smoak and Mitch Moreland climbed the first base depth charts, Davis was exciting Rangers fans with his light-tower power potential.  Davis is versatile, able to man the hot corner as well, but the signing of Adrian Beltre puts Davis in limbo once again.  He may eventually become a designated hitter by default for the Rangers, though he’ll need to cut down on his strikeouts and improve his pitch selection before he’ll get consistent at bats in the big leagues.  Despite a terrific spring, Davis may start the 2011 season in Triple-A Round Rock.

Ben Gellman is in his first year as Broadcasting Assistant with the Hickory Crawdads.

The Game Inside the Numbers: WHIP

By Ben Gellman, Broadcasting Assistant


I’ve loved the statistical side of
baseball ever since I was a kid.  And the
landscape of that side is changing precipitously.  Teams are employing math whiz after math whiz
to help them get a leg up on the competition. 
For a good background in how this can help a team, I recommend reading
Michael Lewis’s book Moneyball, in which he examines the rise of the
Oakland A’s when they started searching for undervalued assets.

 

Some of these recently-developed stats,
like VORP (Value Over Replacement Player), are complex and difficult to
grasp.  Others, like OPS (On-Base Plus
Slugging), are the result of simple addition. 
Today, I’ll take a look at a vital pitching statistic: WHIP.

 

WHIP is an acronym for “Walks plus
Hits per Inning Pitched.”  It deals
with the ways a pitcher performs independent of his defense.  Because walks are on the pitcher only (and
not on the defense behind him), it stands to reason that a pitcher who limits
his walks puts himself in a greater position to succeed.  WHIP helps translate that concept into the
number of opponents a pitcher allows on-base per inning.  Like ERA, the lower the number, the
better.  It’s no surprise that the active
leaders in the stat include Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman, Johan Santana and
Roy Halladay, all of whom have dominated for a number of years.

 

Take a look at last year’s WHIP leaders,
if you want to see how closely a solid WHIP corresponds to success on the
mound.  Of the top 20 starting pitchers
in WHIP, only two (Jeremy Guthrie and Bronson Arroyo) had an ERA worse than
3.65, and a ******** nine had an ERA under 3.00.  What’s more, all of the top ten had more than
160 strikeouts.  In my next stats column,
I’ll consider the correlation between high strikeout numbers, low walk rates,
and pitching prowess.

 

Questions?  Disagreements?  Lavish praise?  Send it all to crawdadsradio@gmail.com.

Fast Runners, Faster Runs

By Ben Gellman, Broadcasting Assistant

“Speed kills/Coming down the mountain/Speed kills/Coming down the street.” –Bush, “Speed Kills”

 

Few things in baseball are quite so exciting as a baserunner exploding for 90 feet of sheer adrenaline to steal a base, or a center fielder sprinting like a gazelle to snare a fly ball that common decency demands must be beyond his grasp.  The crowd rises to its feet and an audible rush of anticipation blows through the air.  Even the tiniest fractions of seconds can determine the difference between a hero and a goat.

 

Speedsters can hold the outcome of games in the balance.  Today, I’m taking a look at the greatest of all time to swipe a bag, and some of the best in the game at thievery right now.

 

The discussion of great base-stealers has to start with Rickey Henderson, who terrorized pitchers from 1979 all the way until 2002 with his prowess on the paths.  Henderson stole 33 bases in 89 games as a 20-year-old rookie in 1979.  Seriously.  For context, only 13 players stole more bases in a full season in 2010.  Henderson never looked back, swiping a round 100 bases in 1980 and earning the first of ten All-Star appearances.  In his fourth season, Henderson set a new single-season record for steals with 130, a record that stands to this day.  He finished his career with 1406 stolen bases, nearly 500 more than his nearest competitor.  He also owns the career record for runs, with 2295.

 

Lou Brock was as good a thief as anyone before Rickey came along.  He got off to a slow start, not really flourishing until traded from the Chicago Cubs to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1964.  He ripped off 703 stolen bases between the trade and the end of the 1974 season, and was elected to the Hall of Fame after setting the record for steals at 938 before Henderson could break it.

 

Though he may have been overshadowed by Henderson, Kenny Lofton deserves a place among the great base-stealers of all time.  After a trade from the Houston Astros to the Cleveland Indians following a cup of coffee in 1991, Lofton bloomed, swiping an average of 51 bases per season for the next nine years.  He was named to six All-Star squads, and earned four straight Gold Glove awards for his nimble defense in center field.  He’s been teaching members of the Cleveland Indians some of his techniques, so watch out for the Tribe on the basepaths!

 

Today’s best base thieves continue to give pitchers fits.  Juan Pierre of the Chicago White Sox and Michael Bourn of the Houston Astros are threats to steal every time they reach base, and swiped a combined 120 in 2010.  Carl Crawford of the Boston Red Sox and Hanley Ramirez of the Florida Marlins both supplement their swift strides with sweet swings, as they’re very capable of popping the ball out of the yard.  And Texas fans should be excited with speedy shortstop Elvis Andrus, who stole 32 bases in 2010 and will look to up that number in 2011.

 

And Hickory fans can look forward to a speedster of their own in 2011, as lightning bug middle infielder Leury Garcia may be back to build on his impressive 47 steals as a Crawdad in 2010.

Analyzing Albert

By Ben Gellman, Broadcasting Assistant

There are few teams in baseball that can say they have a player who truly is the face of the franchise, a singular and team-defining superstar.  Derek Jeter, of course, is that for the New York Yankees.  The Minnesota Twins have Joe Mauer, the Tampa Bay Rays have Evan Longoria, and the Atlanta Braves have Chipper Jones.  But perhaps no single player means more to his team than Albert Pujols does to the St. Louis Cardinals.  That’s why the ongoing contract negotiations between Pujols and the Cards are so fascinating to watch: we could see a legitimate superstar in his prime walk away from the team with which he’s spent his entire career, and with which most observers believed he’d spend the rest of his career.

 

The Cardinals have more than $40 million committed annually to Matt Holliday, Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Kyle Lohse, putting a cramp in their budget.  Lohse’s contract is the only loser among that bunch, as the other three players have outperformed their salaries for some time.  But Pujols wants a game-changing contract, and rightly so, as he’s arguably the greatest right-handed hitter the game has ever seen.  He and his agents may be seeking a deal worth upwards of $30 million annually, a nod to the infamous Alex Rodriguez contract with the New York Yankees.  What’s more, Pujols cut off negotiations once he arrived at Spring Training on February 16th.  So the Cardinals have a rapidly closing window to keep The Machine, El Hombre, Prince Albert in St. Louis, a town that adores him for his on- and off-field achievements.

 

Pujols is, by almost any statistical measure, demonstrably the best player in baseball, and has been for the last several years since Barry Bonds faded from glory.  His defense, baserunning and hitting are all exceptional, and he is certain to be elected to the Hall of Fame on his first ballot.  In fact, he may be so undeniable as a candidate for the Hall that he may be elected unanimously.  The Cardinals cannot afford to let that kind of player go at ANY price, so expect Bill DeWitt to dig deep in his bank account and pay Pujols every cent he’s worth.

 

But there IS the possibility that Pujols will somehow wind up leaving the Cardinals at the end of 2011.  If that happens, every team in baseball would salivate over him.  But who would be the best fit?  I’ll take a look at that in a coming blog post.

Retail, Retail, Retail

Valentines Day is the day to celebrate love. One thing that I love is that opening day is less than 2 months away. The off-season has sure flown by and we are geared up and ready for an exciting 2011 season.

The ticket stock is in and the stadium will be getting put into shape in the next few weeks and before we know it the sound of baseball will fill the air here at L.P. Frans Stadium and all around Hickory. All the Rangers players will be reporting for Spring Training out in Arizona this coming week and the norm of baseball season will be ready to start.

All of the retail items have been purchased and we are anxiously waiting for them to arrive here to get the team store ready for action. Be sure to keep your eyes pealed for all the new Crawdads gear that is hitting the store in 2011.

Lots of new and exciting items will be coming into the store. You will be able to find every got to have Crawdad item this year for Men, Woman, and Children. We will have a little bit of everything and a new look to show off as well.

Get excited April 7th will be here before we know it. Individual game tickets go on sale Saturday March 12th, secure your seats for the most exciting games of the season that day. See you all soon.

Douglas enters his second season with the ‘Dads and first as director of ticket operations & merchandising after serving as interim tickets manager in 2010. Prior to joining the Crawdads, Douglas spent the 2009 campaign with the Wilmington Sharks of the Coastal Plain League. The Tampa, Florida, native is a 2009 graduate of Campbell University.

First Day with the ‘Dads!

Derek Bonner, Stadium Operations Assistant

 

My name is Derek Bonner and I am the the stadium operations assistant. First day went well, started cleaning to get ready for the season. I can’t wait! There have been a couple nice warm days so far. I love it! The weather in Morgantown, West Virginia, where I am from, temperatures are in the 20’s and snow.

 

On a side note, I’m assuming Conrad did not see his shadow also, because baseball season is just around the corner!

 

I look forward to a successful season and hope to see you here at the ballpark to enjoy every minute of it with us!

Go Pack Go!

By Jared Weymier, Promotions Assistant

Since I am from Wisconsin, Super Bowl XLV means a little more to me.  I love the Green Bay Packers.   I have been waiting for this moment for the last 13 years!  The anticipation for the big game has been killing me and I’ve tried to soak up all the excitement surrounding the game for the past week and a half.

The game between the Packers and the Steelers should be a good one and I think it will come down to the wire.  The Steelers scare me for a variety of reasons.  First, they have the best defense in the league led by the 2010 Defensive Player of the Year Troy Polamalu.  My second fear is Ben Roethlisberger.  He may not be the classiest guy off the field but there is no denying his ability on the football field.  The Packers have struggled with other quarterbacks that are similar to Roethlisberger.  Finally, the Steelers are loaded with Super Bowl experience while the Packers only have three players that have ever been to a Super Bowl (Charles Woodson, Ryan Pickett, and John Kuhn).

However, I am still very confident in the Packers.  Our defense is capable of making a lot of plays.  Clay Matthews is a beast as a pass rusher, Tramon Williams is turning into a playmaker, and Charles Woodson is continuing to play like a Hall of Famer.  Our offense has been inconsistent all year, but when they are clicking on all cylinders they are impossible to stop.  Aaron Rodgers is well on his way to being in the conversation with Payton Manning, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees as best quarterback in the league.  The receivers may be the best and deepest in the NFL and our offensive line has been solid all year.  The only glaring weakness is the running game, but the combination of James Starks, Brandon Jackson, and Kuhn has worked well recently.  The fact that the game is being played indoors also favors the Packers since they are built as a team that thrives on turf.

I hope the Packers win for many reasons.  Obviously they are my favorite team but, I want them to win so Woodson, Donald Driver, and Chad Clifton can get that first ring they deserve.  Those players have meant so much to the organization over the years.  I also want this win for Aaron Rodgers.  He is a great quarterback and has overcome so much adversity since he’s been in the league.  I hope if the Packers win it will finally put to rest all the Brett Favre drama that still gets talked about in Wisconsin and finally bring feuding Packer fans together.  I hope General Manger Ted Thompson will get the credit he deserves for building this team through the draft and sticking to his guns.  Finally, I hope Mike McCarthy gets the recognition he deserves for leading the team with the most players on injured reserve to the Super Bowl.

I’m going with my heart on this one.  I’m picking the Packers to win 24-20.  This should be a great game.  What are your thoughts on the Super Bowl and what do you think the outcome will be?

Welcome aboard, Ben!

By Ben Gellman, Broadcast Assistant

 

Hey Crawdads fans!  My name is Ben Gellman, and I’m the new Broadcast Assistant with Hickory!  I just wanted to give you all a chance to get to know me as I begin blogging about the Crawdads for the 2011 season.

 

I grew up a fan of minor league baseball in Columbus, Ohio, as I attended my first Columbus Clippers game at three weeks old.  I’ve been a fan of the game ever since, and I’m very excited for my first full season in professional baseball.  I broadcasted basketball and baseball at Division III Brandeis University as an undergraduate student from 2004 through 2008.  I was also fortunate enough to be a web intern with the sports department of the Boston Globe while I was there.  I pursued my master’s degree in broadcast journalism at Syracuse University, and interned with the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League.

 

I moved down to North Carolina in 2009 to be near my girlfriend (now fiancee), and worked for a year as a news/sports anchor-reporter at 1360 WCHL in Chapel Hill.  I did my first-ever football broadcasts in Chapel Hill, and reported on UNC athletics.  I can’t wait to spend the 2011 Crawdads season with you!

Welcome 2011 (Ticket Office Tales)

By Douglas Locascio, Director of Ticket Operations & Merchandising

Where o where has the time gone? The year 2010 passed by in the blink of an eye. With January here it is another step closer to opening day 2011 on April 7th. Lots of exciting things are happening here at L.P. Frans Stadium even when baseball is not going on.

The Crawdads are proud to be hosting the 2011 Hot Stove Banquet scheduled for Thursday, January 27th at Rock Barn Golf and Spa. Don’t miss this year’s keynote speaker, Rangers First Baseman Mitch Moreland, talk about Texas’ journey to the World Series and much, much more! Moreland will highlight the fun-filled evening that will begin with a social gathering at 6:15 p.m. before a delicious dinner at 7 p.m. with the program starting shortly after.

College Baseball is coming to L.P. Frans this offseason when the Appalachian State Mountaineers take on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in a regional showdown on Tuesday, March 29! First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m., gates open at 6:05 p.m., and tickets are on sale now.

In between those great events are two fun Saturday events that will give the kids something to do. On February 12th, 2011 @ 11:00 AM the 2011 Crawdads Valentines Day party will take place here at the stadium. Then on March 12th, 2011 @ 11:00 AM the 2011 Crawdads St. Patrick’s Day party will be happening.

Get yourself prepared for the 2011 Season TODAY by stopping by the office or giving us a call to purchase your ticket books, book a party, or just to get more great information on what is in store this season. All the latest and greatest up-to date information can be found on our website.

Douglas enters his second season with the ‘Dads and first as director of ticket operations & merchandising after serving as interim tickets manager in 2010. Prior to joining the Crawdads, Douglas spent the 2009 campaign with the Wilmington Sharks of the Coastal Plain League.  The Tampa, Florida, native is a 2009 graduate of Campbell University.