Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pooling (B) Resources

Jesus, the Defensive Specialist is lucky to be here after ‘Mighty’ Joe Quinn’s estate sent their legal hounds in to tear Deep in the Hole a new one. Who would have thought that excluding their man in the Defensive Specialist’s breakdown of the best Australian to have played in the big leagues would cause such a ruckus? The situation was on a knifes edge until the Defensive Specialist ignored his Chief Legal Counsel’s advice and approached the estate man-to-man. The way the Defensive Specialist sees it, if you can stare down a 220-pound base runner trying to bust up a double play any-which-way he can, then you can talk your way out of a 3 million dollar law suit. The Defensive Specialist carefully broke down Joe’s career, highlighting his short comings in comparison to some of the other players in this evaluation and once again reiterated that it would tarnish their mans reputation to consider him against the modern day player. “Let him be remembered for being the first Aussie in the big leagues” the Defensive Specialist implored. Fortunately the Defensive Specialist’s common sense prevailed and Joe’s estate agreed to back down under the proviso that The Defensive Specialist run a picture of Joe (Joe is in the top left corner):

Ok, its time to finish off Pool B. Without further ado:

Pool B

Brad Harman

Brad Harman was born in Melbourne and signed with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2003. He was unexpectedly added to the Phillies 40 man roster and made his major league debut in 2008 when All Star Jimmy Rollins was injured. Unable to hit .500 with 25 jacks and 75 RBI’s in the time Rollins was out of the lineup, Harman was demoted back to the minors after 6 games and 11 plate appearances. To date his big league numbers are 1 hit in 10 at bats with 1 RBI.

Graeme Lloyd

Graeme Lloyd put together a tidy 10-year big league career across 8 big league clubs. The majority of his career saw Lloyd as a LOOGY (Lefty one out only guy) meaning that he would generally come in to face a dangerous opposition left handed hitter. If the Defensive Specialist was handing out an award for ‘Best running hay maker thrown by an Australian in the Major Leagues’ Lloyd would be a no contest winner for the wild punch he threw at Armando Benitez in 1998.

 Originally signed by the Toronto Blue Jays in 1988, Lloyd made his first Major League appearance as a 26 year old for the Milwaukee Brewers in 1993. In his first season, Lloyd appeared in 63 relief innings, compiling a win loss record of 3-4 with a pretty ERA of 2.83. In 1994 Lloyd worked 47 innings generating a 2-3 tally with 3 saves and an ERA of 5.17. 1995 saw Lloyd toss 32 innings for the Brewers while going 0-5. His ERA was 4.50 and he recorded 4 saves. In 1996 he appeared in 52 innings going 2-4 with a 2.82 ERA before being traded to the New York Yankees for Bob Wickman and Gerald ‘Ice’ Williams. His first year in the Big Apple was a little rocky as he posted a 17.47 ERA in 5.2 innings and took the loss in two ballgames. Lloyd was part of the 1996 Yankee World Series team working in 5 postseason innings, earning a win in the World Series and not giving up any runs.

In 1997 Lloyd appeared in 46 games, compiling a 1-1 win loss record and one save. His ERA was 3.31 in 49 innings. Lloyd was part of another World Series team in 1998, submitting a spectacular 1.67 ERA in 37 innings of work with a win loss record of 3-0. He appeared in 3 postseason contests yielding no runs once again.

In early 1999, Lloyd was included in the Yankees blockbuster trade for Roger Clemens, which saw him being packaged with David Wells to Toronto. Lloyd’s workload jumped considerably as he cracked the 70-inning barrier. He went 5-3 with 3 saves and ERA of 3.62 while appearing in 74 games.

Lloyd lost all of 2000 to arm surgery after signing as free agent with the Montreal Expos for 12 million. He rebounded in 2001 with 84 appearances and 70 innings. His win loss record was 9-5 with one save and an ERA of 4.35. Lloyd started the 2002 season with Montreal and worked 30 innings, going 2-3 with 5 saves before being traded to the Florida Marlins for a package of players including Cliff Floyd. With Florida, Lloyd tossed 26 innings winning 2 and losing 2.

Lloyd was a free agent after the 2002 season and signed with the New York Mets in January 2003. He took part in 36 games as a Met, going 1-2 with a 3.31 ERA before he was packaged to the Kansas City Royals for Jeremy Hill in late July. At age 36, Lloyd threw 12 innings for the Royals, losing 2 games and submitting an ERA of 10.95. He did not appear in the big leagues again after the 2003 season.

Lloyd’s career numbers were 30-36 with a 4.04 ERA and 17 saves. He also has 2 fat daddy World Series rings to his name.

Jeff Williams

Lefty Jeff Williams signed with the LA Dodgers as a free agent in 1996. He made his major League debut in September 1999. He operated as a starter primarily in his rookie year, going 2-0 in 17 innings. In 2000 he played in 7 games, submitting a stinky 15.88 ERA in just 5 innings work. 2001 saw Williams used in 24 innings where he went 2-1 mostly in relief. His ERA was 6.29. 2002 was Williams’ final season in the big leagues. He pitched 10 innings and had an ERA of 11.70.

His Major League numbers were 4-1 with a 7.49 ERA in 57 innings.

Like Michael Nakamura, Williams found himself playing Japanese Major League Baseball. He signed in 2003 with the Hanshin Tigers and established himself as a bonafide relief pitcher helping the Tigers to their first Central League championship in 18 years. Williams has now spent 6 years in the Japanese Major Leagues having considerable success.

As an interesting side note, Williams was named in the Mitchell report -allegedly having purchased steroids from admitted dealer Kirk Radomski. The report included a reproduction of a cheque for $1,820 Williams paid to Radomski in 2004 for the steroids. Williams has never tested positive for steroids in his professional career. 

Pool B is in the books. If you look up to the top right hand corner on this page you will see a new poll set up and ready for your votes. The pole will remain open until next Tuesday. Send any question or comments to or hit the comments box below

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

You’re the best around, nothings gonna ever keep you down!

With Ryan Rowland-Smith cruising to a comfortable victory in Pool A, it’s time for the Defensive Specialist to give him some competition by unveiling the contenders in Pool B. The voting has been relentless and heated debate has broken out in emails flowing into the Deep in the Hole mailbag. It’s the best of the best around here and who better to referee the tussle than the man with the quickest hands in the game – The Defensive Specialist.

Before the Defensive Specialist launches into the breakdowns a couple of key issues:

  • The estate of Joe Quinn has sent correspondence to the Deep in the Hole legal team demanding that ‘Mighty Joe’ receive his due consideration as Australia’s best Major Leaguer. The Defensive Specialist steadfastly holds to the notion that today’s complex metrics around player evaluation will do Joe no favours as a player from a bygone era that played baseball with dead balls and bats with no barrels.

  • The Defensive Specialist is a team player as you all know and can usually shake off a teammate’s error (mental or physical). However, a cut had to be made on the Deep in the Hole staff when a member of the fact-checking team failed to register Chris Snelling as an Australian to have played in the big leagues. The Defensive Specialist apologizes to Snelling and will include him in one of the upcoming pools. (The Defensive Specialist did offer a tidy severance package to the dismissed fact-checker).

Pool B

Trent Oeltjen

Diamondback, Oeltjen was called to the major leagues on August 6th 2009 and began his big league career with a bang, collecting a single, blasting his first career homerun and stealing two bases against the Pittsburgh Pirates. He dropped another bomb leading off his 3rd game against the Nationals and in his fifth game narrowly missed hitting for the cycle. Oeltjen was sent back to AAA in late August and recalled to the show in early September.

In his first year, Oeltjen appeared in 24 games hitting .243 with an on base percentage of .250. He stole 3 bases and scored 11 runs. Oeltjen was recently optioned to AAA indicating that he will likely fill the role of spare outfielder should the D’Backs be struck with injury again in season 2010.

Damien Moss

Originally in the Atlanta Braves system, Moss has bounced around in recent times, playing the 2009 season in the Colorado organization. Moss made his major league debut in 2001 at age 24 as a member of the Braves. He appeared in 5 games, making 1 start and throwing 9 innings.

In 2002, Moss started 29 games for the Braves compiling a win loss record of 12-6 and an ERA of 3.42. Moss worked 179 innings, punching out 111 hitters and figuring in Rookie of the Year voting. After the 2002 season, Moss was traded with Merkin Valdez (a person, not a pubic hair wig) to the San Francisco Giants for Russ Ortiz.

Moss went 9-7 for the Giants over 20 starts with an ERA of 4.70 before being traded at the July 31st trade deadline to the Baltimore Orioles for Sir Sidney Ponson. Being traded for a guy with a bad body and numerous indiscretions on his resume obviously did not agree with Moss whose wheels fell off in Baltimore going 1-5 and submitting a heinous ERA of 6.22 in 50 innings.

Looking to escape the stigma of being traded for Sir Sid, Moss signed as a free agent with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2004. He started two games for the Rays, getting shelled for 15 earned runs in his 8 innings of work. He was released by the Rays in August of that year. Despite quickly signing with Cincinnati, Moss has not been able to get back to the big leagues.

To date, his Major League line is: 22-19 with an ERA of 4.50.

Shayne Bennett

Adelaide born Bennett was drafted in the 25th round by the Boston Red Sox in 1993. In 1996 he found his way into the Montreal Expo system and made his Major League debut in 1997 at age 25 on August 22nd. Bennett saw action in 22 innings, posting an ERA of 3.18 with a win loss record of 0-1. In 1998 Bennett played a much bigger role, appearing in 62 games and throwing 91 innings. Bennett spent all of his time in relief going 5-5 and recording one save. His ERA was 5.50.

Bennett’s last season in the sun was 1999, appearing in 5 games (including his one and only big league start). He went 0-1 with a disappointing 14.29 ERA.

Bennett finished his 3-year big league career with a 5-7 record and 5.87 ERA

Now if you’ll excuse the Defensive Specialist, he has to meet with his Chief Legal Counsel in order to develop an appropriate strategy to deal with the harassment being offered by Joe Quinn’s estate. The remainder of Pool B and the next poll will be up on Thursday morning.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pool (A) Party

Continued from:

If the Defensive Specialist never spoons another gluggy ladle of pea and ham soup again it will be too soon! Ok, it’s time to complete pool A of the Defensive Specialist’s little project to determine the best Australian to play in the big leagues.

Despite being bombarded by hundreds of emails from devoted Joe Quinn fans, the Defensive Specialist is remaining resolute in his stance that Mighty Joe cannot be considered in this evaluation simply because no analytic tools exist that can accurately value an individual who played in an era where they wore woolen uni’s and left their glove out in the field as obstacles while they hit. Can you imagine coming up with an accurate Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) ( on a field littered with leather?

Anyway, making up Pool A so far we have Glenn Williams, Michael Nakamura and Cam Cairncross. The Defensive Specialist needs to keep his feet moving, so lets keep the breakdowns coming:

Ryan Rowland – Smith

‘The Hyphen” wins the Deep in the Hole award for ‘Best Australian Major League player with a hyphen in their name’. Rowland–Smith made his Major League debut as a 24 year old in 2007 with the Seattle Mariners. Appearing in 26 games (all in relief) Rowland–Smith (R-S) worked 38 innings, yielding 17 earned runs, striking out 42 and compiling an ERA of 3.96.

In 2008 R-S started the season as a reliever before being sent back to AAA so that he could convert to a starter (build up arm strength in order to provide 5+ innings per outing). R-S made his first major league start after the All Star break against the Toronto Blue Jays.  Rowland–Smith’s numbers from August to the end of the season were particularly impressive as indicated by his 2.56 ERA over this period. His totals for the year included 118 innings of work, 77 punch-outs and an ERA of 3.42.

2009 saw Rowland–Smith make one start before injury struck. He went back to AAA to rehab with mixed results. Rowland–Smith was recalled near August and became a starter for the Mariners. He made 15 starts for the M’s, compiling a win-loss record of 5-4 and an ERA of 3.74 over 96 innings.

Rowland–Smiths development was widely praised in baseball circles and he is now figured prominently in Mariner planning for season 2010.

Mark Hutton

South Australian Mark Hutton put together a 5-year big league career spanning 4 teams. Making his first appearance in the Major Leagues with the New York Yankees in 1993 at age 23, Hutton appeared in 7 games while making 4 starts. He won 1 and lost 1 while working 22 innings. Hutton was back in the big leagues with the Yankees again in 1994, appearing in 2 games and throwing 3 innings.

In 1996 Hutton had a win – loss record of 0-2 for the Yankees, appearing in 12 games. In the same season he was traded to the Florida Marlins for Dave Weathers where he made 9 starts and won 5 games, losing 1. He worked 56 innings mostly as a starter and turned in a respectable ERA of 3.67.

Hutton commenced the 1997 season with the Marlins in a relief role. He appeared in 32 games, working 47 innings. His win – loss record was 3-1. A mid-season trade to Colorado in exchange for Craig Counsell saw Hutton appear in 8 games as a Rockie. He made only one start in his tenure and was 0-1 in his time there.

Season 1998 was Hutton’s last in the Major Leagues. After being traded to the Cincinnati Reds for Curtis Goodwin, he appeared in 10 games. Hutton worked 17 innings and made 2 appearances as a starter. His ERA was an unimpressive 7.41.

Hutton’s professional career in the US continued into 2000. He finished his big league life with a win loss record of 9-7 with an ERA of 4.75.

Trent Durrington

Durrington was a 14-year professional who made his Major League debut in 1999 with the Anaheim Angels (at the time known as the California Angels) on August 6th. Appearing in 43 games, the second baseman hit .180 over 122 at bats. Durrington sniffed the big leagues again briefly in 2000 with 3 at bats before being released.

After joining the Dodger organisation briefly in 2001, Durrington was signed, released and signed again with the Angels where he saw Big League action again in 2003, appearing in 12 games while seeing time at second, third and designated hitter. His brief tenure resulted in a batting average of .143.

Signed as a free agent by the Milwaukee Brewers, Durrington played in 53 games in 2004. He managed his first of 2 career homeruns in this season and hit .232 while scoring 13 runs. Durrington saw time at second, third and DH while also managing a stint on the mound where he retired the only batter he faced. 2005 was Durrington’s final season in the Big Leagues, appearing in 28 games and hitting .214 in 18 AB’s for the Brew Crew.

Durrington’s pro career continued for 2 more seasons with time spent in both the Boston and Cleveland organisations.

So there you have it folks, the Defensive Specialist has completed Pool A. If you look closely up to the left hand corner of this page, you will see a poll allowing you to choose who you feel is the best Aussie Big Leaguer from this group. The Poll will remain open until Tuesday next week, when Pool B will be revealed.

If you have any questions, comments or opinions, hit the box at the bottom or drop an email to

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It's a knockout - Aussie Style!

In case you haven’t noticed, the Defensive Specialist has been grounded – unable to attend any Claxton Shield games last weekend. Do you want the bad news? As a result of some diabolical scheduling and the Defensive Specialist’s commitment to various charities, there will be no previews, reviews or key learning’s this week either. The Defensive Specialist is keenly aware that the loyal readers aren’t going to keep venturing Deep in the Hole simply for the Defensive Specialist’s good looks and athletic ability so in lieu of any Claxton Shield coverage, the Defensive Specialist thought that it might make for an interesting read and subsequent debate if he tackled a little project.

What’s the project you ask?

Well how about the Defensive Specialist breaks down every Aussie to appear in the big leagues in order to try to determine the best player to come out of Australia? Now a few caveats:

  1. Apologies to all friends, fans and family of the mighty Joe Quinn – Australia’s first big leaguer. The Defensive Specialist’s complex evaluation metrics don’t work so well with a guy who hasn’t taken a legitimate swing in anger since 1901.
  2. For all of the people out there having a conniption because their favourite local area shortstop or pitcher was the greatest player to ever strap it on down under, The Defensive Specialist is afraid that you’re just going to have to suck it up and either write your own post or start up an email campaign not only justifying your guy’s inclusion but also providing 5000 signatures to support the case.
  3. A number of players are currently in the big leagues so the Defensive Specialist will evaluate to present day.
  4. The Defensive Specialist plans to run through all 23 (Joe Quinn is the 24th) Australians to play in the big leagues, take a look at their careers, ruminate on their careers and then determine the best Aussie big leaguer. Before the Defensive Specialist makes his call, a poll will be run so that the readers can chime in with their choice. The Defensive Specialist will break the players into 4 pools and as the players in each pool are detailed, readers will have chance to cast a vote. The 4 leaders from each pool will then be put into a final poll for a reader’s choice award.
  5. Pools A, B, C will contain 6 players, Pool D will contain 5.
  6. Hopefully the readers realize that this is going to run over a few weeks.
Ok, with all that out of the way, let The Defensive Specialist make a dent in the list by getting the breakdowns underway. Please note, players are represented in no particular order:

Pool A

Glenn Williams

Williams’ career batting average at the big league level is an impressive .425. If that figure had been carried over a 1 or 2 year career, well it wouldn’t have been a 1 or 2 year career – he’d be getting paid a lazy 30 million a year and kicking it with Derek Jeter in the offseason instead of coaching the NSW Patriots. Williams got a cup of coffee in the big leagues with the Minnesota Twins in 2005, went on a ridiculous tear over 13 games before snapping his shoulder off and not stepping foot on a big league diamond again. Williams hit successfully in all 13 games that he appeared in making major league baseball look easy.

Being somewhat of a minor league journeyman by 2005 at the age of 27, Williams didn’t profile as your prototypical third baseman – a position that generally requires a power bat. Without the ability to consistently pop the ball out of the yard (Williams career high in homeruns in the minor leagues was 23 in 2004 at the AAA level), the Twins were using Williams as a stopgap only. Sure, if he kept swinging it at a .420 clip, Minnesota would have found a way to keep him in the lineup, but long term, he probably wasn’t going to be an option as an every day player and Williams was not able to get a shot in the big leagues again.

Michael Nakamura

Nakamura did not enjoy much success in the Major Leagues but if the Defensive Specialist was writing a blog about Australia’s best Japanese Major Leaguer, Michael would be our guy. Nakamura made his big league debut with the Minnesota Twins in 2003 giving up 11 earned runs in 12 innings of work. Nakamura was traded to the Toronto Bluejays the following year where he appeared in 19 games, giving up 21 runs in 25 innings. Nakamura did not appear in the big leagues again and finished with a career ERA of 7+ in 31 innings.

Nakamura’s career took a different turn when he was drafted in 2004 by the Nippon Ham Fighters. In his second season in Japan, Nakamura set a Pacific League single-season record by recording 39 saves in a championship year for the Fighters. Nakamura now plays for the Yomiuri Giants.

Cameron Cairncross 

Debuting as a 28 year old in 2000, lefty Cairncross appeared in 15 games for the Cleveland Indians working 9 innings of relief.  The Queenslander had his lone major league win against the Baltimore Orioles when Kenny Lofton hit a walk off homerun in the 13th inning for a 12—11 W. Cairncross finished the season with a respectable ERA of 3.86.

Cairncross did not play professional baseball again in the US after the 2000 season.

Now, if you’ll excuse the Defensive Specialist, he has commitments at the soup kitchen and will bring you the remainder of Pool A later in the week.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Aint nothin' but a G thang baby!

A lot of press and airtime gets given to Australia’s baseballers currently toiling away in the minor leagues and for a lucky few, in the big leagues (a lot less toiling done there however). What doesn’t get much coverage is college baseball. Numerous young Australian ball players are taking another path to reach their dreams of playing in the major leagues. As something different, the Defensive Specialist thought checking in with a few of these college players may shed some insight into the life that they are leading in the US.

The first cab off the rack is Adam Gendall, a relatively unknown out of Western Australia who ‘walked on” (no scholarship) to his junior college team. Obviously with no money at stake, walk-ons have a much harder time sticking in a program and have to work doubly hard to prove their worth. Adam is a lefty stick, who moved from third base to first base in the US. The Defensive Specialist fired him some questions and Adam took the time to break it down.

1)    What school are you attending?
Southeastern Community College, West Burlington, Iowa

2)    What were you expecting heading over to the US?

Before I left Australia I expected college to be like the movies. The only stuff that has been similar is the parties, women and lots of beer. However my intentions were to keep my head down and make sure I came out with a degree and a heck of a lot better at playing baseball.

3)    Where are you living?

I am living on campus at the community college. The dorm life is not like seen in the movies as the population of school and town is tiny in comparison to huge university campuses. It is beneficial to my goals of studying as the distractions are minimal and the nearest big uni campus (University of Iowa) is an hour’s drive away.  Furthermore the only students that live on campus are student athletes, so my dorm is all baseball players which is great as I am able to grab someone and get some hacks in or play catch.

4)    How does being on an American team compare to being on an Australian team?

The biggest difference is that you’re playing a game that is religion and embedded in the culture. The competitiveness is at a higher level and on day one there are 50 blokes fighting for a starting role so its dog eat dog. No form of team chemistry is established until the team is cut down (approximately 15 guys get cut), and the team edges closer to the end of winter and ultimately spring season.

5)    Are there any other Aussies on your team?

3 this year, myself and one other sophomore (WA), and a freshmen (VIC)

6)    How does it differ to baseball in Australia?

The intensity of games is one that I had never experienced before .

7)    If you could do it again, what would you do differently before heading over?

Become more athletic! It doesn’t take long to realize that no matter what position you play athleticism is crucial. When you get to the states you get stronger and bigger through weight lifting programs, your arm speed improves from throwing more, and your swing comes into its own through repetitions. The amount of running is something that I wasn’t ready for either. In addition to making plays required to be a realistic starter, athleticism is a must.

8)    Describe your team and program?

My program is one that has been improving every year. The head coach has been in the program for 5 years now and has turned a losing program into a program now ready to win the region and reach the World Series. Last year (my freshmen year) the team broke the school record for wins 42-15. A record previously held by a team that won regional’s but got bounced in the World Series.

The schedule is quality - we travel south in the early part of spring to Mississippi, South Carolina, and this year Tennessee. As the weather improves we come back to Iowa to play a highly competitive conference. At our peak last year after a 15 game winning streak we were ranked (National Rank) as high as 7th.  With the last 3 years being successful the program now has a serious goal of making the World Series.

9)    What’s a day in the life of a junior college baseball player right now?

Right now, it’s coming into winter so focus is on strengthening and developing mental and physical toughness. Days are very long, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays start at 6AM with running in the basketball gymnasium. Sprints are the flavour of the moment and mental toughness gets tested – especially for freshmen in the first week. The morning is never complete without at least 5 slightly larger catchers or pitchers power chucking into the strategically placed bins. Not envious of the campus cleaning staff at all!

Following sprints, breakfast and a quick clean up (more so for our chucky individuals), its off to class usually until at least 1pm. Off to the weight room by 2pm – 3.15pm in your lifting groups (depending on class schedule). Position players then go to the indoor hitting facility at 4.30- 5.30. Dinner is at 7pm and then it’s time for study table where homework gets done for an hour and half.  Team defence follows at 9pm in the basketball gymnasium again until coach is happy we have got our work in. We get to sleep in until 8am on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

10)Describe fall ball.

When you arrive it is fall. The weather is nice enough to play for 1-2 months. So you get to practice on the field everyday and a fall schedule is set up. 1-3 games a week is common and practice every day except Sunday.  Initially a lot of testing is done and the coaching staff need to find who can and can’t play, so the line up is all over the place until the end of fall when it is usually starting to become clear.

11)What’s your summer schedule like?

College baseball is over by Mid-late May and a 3 month break is issued until August when it all starts again. However there are thousands of summer leagues in America that your coach typically helps you find as he doesn’t want you heading back home and sitting around for 3 months.  Host families are set up for out of state/country players.

12)How do you find the class work and do you have to score certain grades to play?

Players need a C average to play. Easily attainable provided you simply attend class and do minimal homework. However if you wish to transfer to division one university grades should be more up around A’s and B’s, again attainable with focus and persistence.

13) What’s the competition like for positions on the team and how do you become a starter?

Moving up the depth chart requires hard work and respect. If you can gain the coaches trust in you as a ball player you will move up. Working hard, going to class, and presenting clear improvement will get you in that starting roll. In addition clutch is huge! Players that can come into game get outs, pitch strikes or get that big hit will before long find themselves moving up the totem pole.

14) Can you describe the pitching that you see week in week out?

Pitching standards are high, in that you would be hard pressed to find a college staff without 2-4 starters tickling 90. My program has 2 consistent 90 arms, hand full of upper 80 arms, then a few lower-mid 80 arms (MPH). Generally for a lower-mid 80 arm off speed and filth is essential to survive in the program as relief guys.

15)How many games do you play per week / season?

Regular season runs from early Feb to mid May and post season is until mid June. Last year we played 59 games. In the heart of the season - April we played 34 games, more than a game a day. Games are 7 innings, usually you will play a series of 4 (double dip Saturday and Sunday) against a conference team on weekends and at least one-three mid week.

16) What was your most memorable moment in your freshman season?

I thought that I had a pretty successful freshman year and I have lots of great memories. I had a couple of walk off knocks and our team won a lot of close games against good conference teams – very fiery clashes. But I guess because not a lot of people get to say it, mine would have to be my first ever college at bat. It was my first start, my first chance to prove I could cut it. There was a righty on the mound who had a really good change. I worked a 2-0 count and the pitcher threw a fastball that I managed to turn on and hit over the right centre wall. It sparked a hitting streak, which saw me getting a starting role in the line up.

17) How did your team and you individually go in your first year?

Last year was a successful year for the program overall however we were severely hurt late in the season with 3 sophomores injured during regional’s which had our backs against the wall. We fought hard in regional’s, only to be bounced out in the last qualifying game after a 14 inning victory the night before.

My season started off really well then I guess through immaturity and inexperience I had ups and down. A strong finish saw me end up hitting about .330, 6 doubles, 1 triple (unhooked the trailer early in the season), 4 HR, and 31 RBI’s.

18) Do expectations change as you move into your sophomore season?

Personally I will be taking the same approach into spring; obviously I will likely see more at bats I guess I’ll be trying to keep things more consistent this spring. In addition I’ll be looking to be a leader for the freshmen as I remember how it was last year not knowing what to expect.

19) What are your goals for the season?

Consistency, getting over .350, and a World Series birth!
20) What are your plans once you complete junior college?

GETTING OUT OF IOWA! No but seriously, transferring to a division 1 school, in a good conference (south) so I can play the best with the best.

21)How do you go with the ladies?

Any young aussie looking to come over to the states for college can expect ladies in the sack, it’s all about working the lingo, they’re mad keen for it!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Let the Defensive Specialist make you 3% smarter

Before closing the chapter on the Perth Heat V Victoria Aces series, the Defensive Specialist would like to introduce a regular feature to run at the conclusion of each series that he lays eyeballs upon.

“What has the Defensive Specialist learned?’

The Defensive Specialist is sure that the baseball loving public enjoys the game recaps, but if you cant walk away from the experience at least 3% smarter, then the Defensive Specialist is simply not performing his role. Lets dissect the series a little further and come up with some key learnings:

Key Learning 1

Perth Heat debutant, Liam Hopkinson is actually called Liam Hopkins. The Defensive Specialist humbly apologises for ruining your entire series Liam.

Key Learning 2

Both pitching staffs are a little short, especially at the back end. The Aces have the well-known names of Donovan Hendriks and Greg Wiltshire but the talent drop-off was noticeable. Obviously the return of Adam Blackley will bolster the staff but after those three guys and the smoke and mirror routine of Casey Jones, there wasn’t much left in the pen.

The Heat had a viable closer in years past – Brendan Wise who was capable of locking down a narrow lead. With Wise “listening to his heart- Roxette” in the US this season, the Heat have had to turn to Dean White who has significantly less experience on the bump and doesn’t quite have the stuff that Wise has. Liam Hendriks being shut down robs the Heat of a legitimate ace and although Scott Mitchinson will eventually be added to the staff once he recovers from the myriad ailments that have beset him recently, it’s tough to judge what he will be able to contribute.

Key Learning 3

Not only were the pitching staffs short, velocity was at an alarmingly low level. Wiltshire was the Aces firmest arm at 86mph although he had no clear idea where it was going. For the Heat, White nudged 86 in his one inning of work. As the summer heats up and more pro bats are added to the line-ups, the Defensive Specialist is predicting fireworks if the velo doesn’t go up soon. The opening weekend saw both teams post significant run tallies which is somewhat uncommon for early season clashes where pitching typically trumps offense.

Key Learning 4

Missing hitters

Yes, the Defensive Specialist saw a bushel of runs scored over the 3 games, but when you consider some of the names that were missing offensively, the Defensive Specialist starts to fear for the life of pitchers. If the Aces had the likes of Daniel Berg, James Beresford and even Justin Huber, they may have scored 35 runs at some stage this past weekend.

Perth Heat were missing their most dangerous hitter in Luke Hughes who ably fills the 3 hole and lets the rest of the line up settle into place. The absence of Hughes also forces a cavalcade of poor defenders out to third base that weakens the Heat defensively. Unfortunately for the Heat, Lachlan Dale is unable to travel to games outside of Western Australia (can he not get a pass out from his girlfriend?), which denies them another potent bat.

Key Learning 5

Travelling with only 19 players on the roster means that both managers have to carefully construct their roster so as to mitigate disaster. The Heat’s bench was short, as they carried 9 pitchers and 10 offensive guys. When Chris House went down with a sore coccyx, the Heat were left with noone on the pine. With Dean White now in the closers role, Heat Manager Don Kyle is robbed of another valuable utility player.

The Aces faced a manpower issue in game 3 by countering the beat down they were receiving by saving an arm and rolling rightfielder Andrew Russell out to the mound. Not the optimal solution to the issue.

Key Learning 6

In-game MC’s are unnecessary for baseball and actually detract from the experience. Baseball fans don’t need Frisbees, quizzes, or crowd members trying to put on frozen t-shirts. The Defensive Specialist is keen for readers to leave their worst in-game entertainment experience in the comments below. The challenge is to top the players introducing themselves.

Key Learning 7

We live in a weird world.

The Defensive Specialist happened to be in the press box extolling the virtues of playing as much Guns ‘N’ Roses as possible to the sound guy when a beleaguered volunteer straggled into the room. The volunteer mentioned to the announcer that she’d been besieged by complaints that the music was too loud (The Defensive Specialist used that opportunity to chime in and say “and shit”). But the next complaint rocked the Defensive Specialist to the core of his very existence.

You see, Baseball Victoria had a very bright idea. Instead of losing foul balls and having to spend $2000 per weekend on baseballs, they encourage kids to chase the balls (a baseball rite of passage) and by returning them to the canteen, they receive vouchers to KFC.  So regularly throughout the game, the announcer would make sure that every kid knew they could get some greasy food in exchange for handing a ball in – easy money right?


Someone had decided the announcer needed to stop the kids racing off into the dark alone and instead should change his instructions to:

“Kids make sure that you chase after any foul balls – UNDER FULL ADULT SUPERVISION and return to receive your free voucher”.

None of the research the Defensive Specialist did on Geelong before his trip indicated that the Geelong Baseball Facility was a Mecca for pedophilia.

Now if the complaint was that Baseball Victoria was encouraging obesity, a finely tuned athlete like the Defensive Specialist would strongly concur!