PLANET SHOWS FANGS ARE STILL THERE, WITH RED CROSSWALKS AND HEAP BIG MAGIC POTHOLE MACHINE ‘SIGHTING’ plus, COLONIALS’ 2011 PREVIEW BY JOSH CUTLER
BY DAN VALENTI
AN UNSAFE SHADE OF WEARING-OFF RED
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, May 25, 2011) — We didn’t say we were off politics and the mystery and madness of same, remember? We merely said the focus would change for the summer. Thus we present two quick hits, to keep limber:
(1) After a mere two weeks, the red paint on the crosswalks in and around downtown Pittsfield is showing alarming signs of wear. In some cases, lots of black pavement shows through, which leads to questions beyond the hideous and unsafe color.
* Where did the city get the paint? How much did it cost? How cheap a grade did they use?
* Is this a highway-grade product? It doesn’t look that way based on the way it’s shedding, which is faster than a collie in a Jacksonville June.
* Why didn’t the city finish the job? If you’ll notice, as you drive off of North Street and center city, most of the walks have a wearing-off red in the walk itself but no white safety borders. Neither the city nor anyone else has given an explanation. LIABILITY WARNING: These walks, in this color, without glo-white safety borders is a lawsuit waiting to happen.
(2) The Planet got the following message from the front, sent by no less an informant than Da Gen, known to the rest of the world as The General. We had Da Gen’s message decoded and present it FOR YOUR EYES ONLY:
In our ever vigilant mission of bringing peace and security to the residents of Palookaville, one of our Battalion forward observers reported from the field a sighting of the Big Red Magic Pothole Machine, the arrival of which is being much anticipated by the citizenry.
As we moved thr Battalion Color Guard and Marching Band in
place for an appropriate welcoming ceremony, we had to call off the
mission upon realization that the sighting was none other than the
annual Spring appearance of the Popcorn Wagon on Park Square.
Battalion will not let this minor setback weaken our resolve
to properly welcome this much anticipated wonder of engineering to line
our lanes for velvet smooth travel in the future-projected delivery
The Planet thanks DA GEN for this false sighting. We know the Heap Big Red Magic Pothole Machine, procured at a cost of more than $125 Large, has not shown up yet. This machine can quilt blankets for old ladies out of blacktop, it can leap tall tales in a single bound, and is more powerful than corner-office candidate sprouting a string of soothing Moons in June.
We included this report to let you know The Planet’s teeth still have plenty of bite, as rubber-nipple mild as it is. We continue to gather intelligence while we enjoy our vacay on the Riviera of The East.
Colonials Gather on The Day of The Big Speeches
Windbag politicians need to learn from Pittsfield Colonials field general Jamie Keefe about the “speech-i-fying” business. At 10:45 a.m. this morning, at BWP (Beloved Wahconah Park), Jamie rounded up the entire squad for two brief presentations. The first came from Owner Buddy Lewis and the second came from The Planet.
Jamie brought the room to order like he was actor Geroge C. Scott doing Gen. Patton rallying the troops, except there was no giant American flag and that Keefe was much more to the point. He said Lewis and The Planet would be speaking, and he gave us “two to three minutes.” Keefe’s one-minute into into brought Lewis to center stage. The Colonials’ owner told the guys two things:
* The organization is in it to win a championship, and
* The team takes seriously its obligations to the community.
Asked by Keefe and Lewis to address the team, The Planet pointed out the importance of creating a product (exciting, winning baseball) and a venue (BWP) that will become a “must see” for the people of Berkshire County. We briefly recounted the strange “politics of baseball” in Pittsfield and the civil war (aka The Civic Authority debacle) that tried to mothball the historic ballpark.
We tried to reinforce what Buddy said: Play your best on the field and off it, be an ambassador of good will. Do this, and Pittsfield Colonials’ baseball at BWP will turn into as much a cultural and entertainment asset to Berkshire County as the Norman Rockwell Museum and Tanglewood.
That was it. Jamie Keefe for two minutes before and after, Buddy Lewis and The Planet sandwiched in between, 10 minutes tops: Four presentations, 12 minutes. Politicians and other hot-air types, take note!
Despite what seems to be a London-sized stalled front of clouds, showers, and punctuations of torrential rain, Opening Night moves ever closer, upon us like the arrival of a lost-missing love.
Baseball will soon be back at Beloved Wahconah Park, as the Pittsfield Colonials return for the all-important Year Two. This will be the year that determines the direction of professional baseball in Pittsfield. The team has acted during this off season in every which way, including loose, to market the product (high-quality Can-Am League professional baseball) and services (“the fan experience”). Two things will tell in the end: success on the field and fannies in the seat. The two are related in a “which-came-first” circle with no beginning or end.
As The Planet’s gearing up for this season, we present Josh Cutler’s “2011 Pittsfield Colonials’ Preview,” exclusively on this site.
THE 2011 PITTSFIELD COLONIALS: A SEASON OF UNFINISHED BUSINESS
BY JOSH CUTLER
PLANET VALENTI Sports
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MAY 25, 2011) — The theme of the 2011 Pittsfield Colonials season will be one of unfinished business. Despite beginning the 2010 season with a 7-20 record, the 2010 Colonials rode a mid-season surge which carried them to a 48-45 overall record.
The Colonials’ 28-18 second half record earned them the Can-Am league’s 2nd half crown, bringing professional playoff baseball to Pittsfield for the first time since the Pittsfield Mets’ 1997 New York-Penn League Championship against the Batavia Clippers. After a dramatic 3-1 semifinals series victory over the Brockton Rox,the Colonials lost against the more experienced Quebec Capitales in the Can-Am L Championship finals, 3 games to 1 (in a best of 5 series).
FIFTEEN PLAYERS BACK THIS SEASON
The Colonials will be returning 15 players from the 2010 squad, including nearly all position players and 6 pitchers. With a new manager, new infusion of young talent, and the addition of veteran experience from affiliated, independent, and international baseball, the Colonials will look to build on the momentum which carried them through to the championship series last season.
Here’s a position-by-position run-down.
With 2010 Can-Am League Manager of the Year Brian Daubach taking a job with the Hagerstown Suns (Class A affiliate of the Washington Nationals), the hopes of the 2011 Colonials will rest on the shoulders of JAMIE KEEFE. The 37 year-old Keefe joined Daubach as his bench coach during the middle of the 2010 season in the midst of the Colonials’ charge towards the second-half championship.
A third round pick in 1992 by the Pittsburgh Pirates, Keefe spent 6 years in the Pirates and San Francisco Giants organizations, rising as high as Triple A. He played another three years of independent baseball.
Keefe has previously served as manager of the Chillicothe Paints, Florence Freedom, and the Kalamazoo Kings, all of the independent Frontier League. With many of the same pieces of the 2010 roster in place, Keefe will look to build on the core strengths of the club, most notably an offense which batted .289, tops in the Can-Am League.
The Colonials staff will be led by starter/pitching coach CHAD PARONTO, who spent the 2010 season with the Pawtucket Red Sox, AAA affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, amassing a 4.22 ERA in 54 appearances, tops on the club.
A Pittsfield resident, Paronto spent parts of seven seasons in Major League Baseball with Baltimore, Cleveland, Atlanta, and Houston, compiling a 4.32 ERA in 183 1/3 innings. Paronto’s most fruitful season came in 2006 as a key member of the Braves bullpen, going 2-3 with a 3.18 ERA and 8 holds in 56 2/3 innings. In 466 minor league appearances over 15 seasons (including 88 starts), Paronto has a 46-54 record with a 3.88 ERA in 961 innings.
In addition to his role as a starting pitcher, Paronto will serve in a mentoring role towards the younger members of the staff in his role as pitching coach. The 6’5” Paronto will be given the ball on Opening Night, Thursday May 26, against the New Jersey Jackals at Wahconah Park in Pittsfield.
Left-hander DAVID QUALBEN will be returning to the Colonials rotation in 2011. The 27 year-old southpaw went 6-7 with a 5.42 ERA last season for the Colonials, striking out 75 batters in 114 2/3 innings. Qualben’s Game 2 performance against Brockton in the 2010 semifinals served as the catalyst for the Colonials’ momentum shift in the series, dealing seven shutout innings, allowing only three hits while striking out five in an 8-1 victory. A seventh round pick by the Houston Astros in the 2006 draft, Qualben has a 27-35 record and 4.23 ERA in 5 seasons of professional baseball.
Also returning to the rotation will be MIGUEL FLORES. The 6’1” righty from Lynwood, California saw the most success out of the Colonials rotation in 2010, going 10-4 with a 3.63 ERA in 20 appearances during the regular season. A reliable and durable power pitcher, Flores allowed only five homers in 111 2/3 innings, though at times he struggled with command of the strike zone. In 14 games of affiliated experiences with the St. Louis Cardinals organization in 2008, Flores pitched to a 2-2 record and a 2.66 ERA, striking out 30 in 44 innings.
Strapping 6’4” right-hander PAT MORAN will also be in the mix for a 2011 rotation slot. A midseason addition to the 2010 Colonials rotation, Moran compiled a 5-2 record and 4.12 ERA in his first season of professional baseball. Moran was the winning pitcher in the Colonials’ series clinching victory against Brockton in the semifinals, allowing 4 runs on 7 hits in 5 2/3 innings while striking out 5 Rox batters. A native of Winterport, Maine, Moran went 12-6 with a 3.88 ERA during his 2 seasons of collegiate baseball at St. Joseph’s (Maine).
PAT BRESNAHAN will likely fill a similar role as a middle reliever as he did in 2010, when he went 3-2 with a 5.51 ERA down the home stretch. Drafted in the fifth round by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2006, the 25 year-old Bresnahan compiled a 9-9 record with a 3.51 ERA in three seasons with the Pirates organization (2006-2008). The 6’1” right hander out of Arizona State split last season between Pittsfield and the Bridgeport Bluefish of the Atlantic League.
Joining the fray this season will be veteran lefty DANIEL CEVETTE. A third-round pick by the Cleveland Indians in the 2002 draft, the 6’3” southpaw most recently saw action in 2009 with the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, the AA affiliate of the Kansas City Royals, garnering a 5.32 ERA in 14 appearances. In 110 games of professional experience (including 70 starts), Cevette touts a 3.88 ERA, including 337 strikeouts in 364 1/3 innings. An eight-year veteran of affiliated baseball (seven of which were spent in the Cleveland farm system), Cevette will likely be in the mix to fill one of the spots in the back end of the rotation.
29 year-old veteran YOSANDY IBANEZ will likely be looked on to fill a key role in the Colonials bullpen. A native of Havana, Cuba, Ibanez has spent parts of two seasons with the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim organizations. In three seasons of independent baseball, Ibanez has compiled a 10-6 record with a 2.76 ERA, striking out 202 batters in 189 innings of work while allowing only 165 hits.
RAFAEL LLUBERES will return to play a key role as a situational lefty out of the Colonials’ bullpen. Lluberes went 2-1 with a 4.09 ERA in 26 games out of the pen in 2010, striking out 23 in 22 innings. Prior to his time with the Colonials, Lluberes spent six seasons in the Milwaukee Brewers organization, spending time both as a starter and reliever. In 187 appearances in professional baseball, Lluberes has a 23-33 record with six saves and a 4.17 ERA.
MATT LYONS returns to the Colonials for his second season in professional baseball. Lyons appeared in 18 games in 2010 (all in relief), going 1-0 with a 3.22 ERA, striking out 32 batters in 22 1/3 innings. A native of Farmingdale, N.Y., the 6’4” Lyons played collegiate baseball with Stony Brook and has also spent time with the Washington Wild Things of the Frontier League.
Haverhill, Mass., native TIM STRONACH spent 2006 through 2009 in the New York Mets’ farm system, compiling an 18-22 record and 4.49 ERA in 81 games (48 starts). Stronach most recently appeared with St. Lucie (A+) in 2009, going 3-4 with a 4.06 ERA in 15 games (eight starts), striking out 42 in 57 2/3 innings of work.
A signee from the May tryout session, pitcher T.J. WINK is a 6’4”, 180 pound southpaw from Glenwood City, Wisc. Wink spent his collegiate days at the University of Wisconsion-Superior. New to professional baseball, Wink will likely look to earn a role out of the Colonials’ bullpen.
30-year-old DAISUKE YASUI will also look to succeed in a situational role for the Colonials. A veteran of the French and Continental Baseball leagues, Yasui most recently pitched in American professional baseball in 2003, appearing in four games with the Victoria Capitals of the Canadian Baseball league. Yasui features a submarine-style delivery which should play well in a relief role with the Colonials.
Rounding out the pitching staff will be right-hander MIKE ZENKO. A native of West Palm Beach, Fla., the 6’4” Zenko spent 2010 in the Frontier League with the Kalamazoo Kings, going 2-3 with a 5.04 ERA in 15 appearances (two starts).
Veteran SCOTT KNAZEK will return to Pittsfield as part of the two-man tandem behind the plate for the Colonials. Knazek, 26, stepped up when Chris Torres missed time due to injury in 2010, batting .256 with 1 homer and 17 RBIs in 66 games. Knazek’s intangibles and game-calling skills were key to the Colonials’ second-half surge to the top of the standings. A five-year veteran of professional baseball, Knazek spent two seasons with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim organization.
CHRIS “C.T.” TORRES will share the backstop duties once again with Knazek in 2011. A 32nd round pick by the Detroit Tigers in the 2005 draft, Torres has spent parts of three seasons in the Can-Am league. In 47 games, Torres belted three home runs and 17 RBIs at a .262 clip. The 28-year-old Torres will again be asked to provide stability and veteran leadership behind the plate, as well as his colorful clubhouse personality.
Can-Am League veteran JEROD EDMONDSON will resume his role as Pittsfield’s first baseman, though his versatility allows him to play all three outfield positions as well. An 0-52 midseason slump deflated Edmondson’s 2010 average to .244, though he still remained productive at the plate with nine homers and 48 RBIs in 93 games and in the field, as his defense never lapsed. An ankle injury inhibited his availability during the playoffs, though in six games, he batted .333 with one homer and four RBI. Edmondson earned the Can-Am League batting crown in 2009, hitting at a .332 clip in time spent with the New Jersey Jackals and the American Defenders of New Hampshire.
Second base will again be manned by DANNY BOMBACK, one half of the Colonials’ dynamic up-the-middle DP combination. A veteran of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, Bomback batted .324 with seven home runs and 62 RBIs in 93 games, while stealing 41 bases in 52 attempts. Bomback continued his hot hitting into the postseason, contributing six RBI in the Colonials’ eight games played. Bomback’s biggest moment of the season came in Game 1 of the Can-Am League Championship Series against Quebec, where his one-out single gave Pittsfield a momentary 1-0 series lead against the Capitales. Bomback’s standout season led to his selection to the 2010 Can-Am League Postseason All-Star Team.
MATT NANDIN will return to his post as starting shortstop and will look to build on his chemistry developed last season with Bomback up the middle. Nandin, 23, batted .321 with 8 homers and 48 RBI in 2010, contributing 25 stolen bases in the Colonials’ aggressive offensive style of play. Like Bomback, Nandin’s play also earned him Can-Am League Postseason All-Star honors. A native of North Syracuse, N.Y., Nandin played his four years of collegiate baseball at LeMoyne College, Syracuse.
23 year-old JASON TAYLOR will once again anchor the hot corner for the home nine. An in-season addition, Taylor’s .306 average, 12 homers and 45 RBIs were instrumental in providing the punch necessary to power the Colonials’ mid-season surge. Winner of July 2010 Can-Am League Player of the Month honors, Taylor’s biggest hit of the season came in Game 3 of the Brockton series, where his ninth inning triple off of Colin Lynch tied the game at six and set the stage for Quentin Davis’ game-winning sacrifice fly. A second round draft pick by the Kansas City Royals in 2006, Taylor is a .259 career hitter in four seasons of professional baseball.
Four-year veteran BILLY MOTTRAM will likely fill the designated hitter role that Donny Leon manned in 2010. Originally drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 2007, Mottram’s best season came in 2009 the Florence Freedom of the Frontier League, where he clubbed 23 homers and 79 RBI in 96 games. Mottram has batted .266 with 43 home runs and 187 RBIs in 323 professional games. He can also serve as a fourth outfielder if needed.
27 year-old JOHNNY WELCH is also most recently of the Florence Freedom. A four-year veteran of independent baseball, Welch batted .303 with 14 homers and 46 RBI for the Freedom in 2010. Welch has previous experience in the Can-Am League, splitting the 2007 season between the North Shore Spirit and the Brockton Rox.
ANGEL MOLINA will be looked toward to provide the power bat which the Colonials envisioned from him when he was signed prior to the 2010 season. Molina batted .350 with seven homers and 35 RBI in 58 games, despite missing significant time with a broken wrist during the middle of the season. An 11-year veteran of professional baseball, Molina’s best season came in 2008 with the Florence Freedom, as he exploded for 22 homers and 71 RBIs while cleaning up at a .327 clip. Molina spent eight seasons in the Florida Marlins’ organization, batting .265 with 51 home runs and 301 RBI.
Center fielder QUENTIN “Q” DAVIS brings lighting speed on the bases and in the field. In 250 at-bats (69 games), Davis belted seven homers and drove in 22 runs, going along with 15 stolen bases. Drafted in the 13th round by the Atlanta Braves in 2005, Davis is a .256 career hitter in professional baseball with 22 homers, 206 RBIs, and 126 stolen bases.
Rounding out the outfield will be RAFAEL CABREJA, a veteran of the Boston Red Sox minor league organization. In 80 games in 2010, Cabreja batted .307 for the Colonials, chipping in 13 home runs and 55 RBIs to an offense which batted. In three seasons with the Red Sox organization, Cabreja batted .230 with five home runs and 51 RBI. Cabreja will likely see the bulk of his time in left field, though he can play center and DH.
The Pittsfield Colonials open their 94 game season at Wahconah Park on Thursday, May 26 at 7:00 p.m. against the New Jersey Jackals, as part of a seven-game home stand to open the season. Tickets can be purchased by visitingwww.pittsfieldcolonials.com, visiting the team offices at 2 South Street (in the Berkshire Common building), or by calling the team’s offices at (413) 236-2961.
JOSH CUTLER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
We will present another pre-opener feature by Cutler tomorrow. See you at BWP on Thursday.
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.