Aspen Scores Big
November 27th down on your calendars as the first day of
In preparing for free agency the Rainmakers knew they needed a #2 or #3 starter, a Left Fielder and some middle relievers. There were several very good players available and they made some excellent offers. As it turned out on that cold Sunday morning in November the Rainmakers found out that the pitching ace, Bartolo Colon, was available and ready to sign on. Once the Rainmakers were able to secure their stating pitcher all the other pieces fell into place. They snagged outfielders Dave Dellucci and Randy Winn as well as veteran shortstop Omar Visquel. Along with the signings of relief pitchers Shigetoshi Hasegawa and Chris Spurling they seemed to have successfully met their teams needs.
Colon will lead
Eric Bedard as well as veterans Jared Washburn and Ryan Franklin.
††††††††††† Bartolo Colon doesn't throw 99 mph for a complete game anymore, and he has worked hard perfecting his game and not relying on his fastball. The key to his turnaround is his use of the changeup against righthanded hitters and his success in pitching inside. He still can throw 96 or 97 when he needs to, which makes his slider and changeup more effective. He continues to struggle with his off season work routine and, in the past, has come to Spring training out of shape.
††††††††††† With the
signing of Randy Winn and Dave Dellucci Aspen has
shored up their outfield, which already included Brady Clark and Ken Griffey JR. With four outstanding outfielders they probably
will be moving one of them in a trade. More than likely Griffey
looks like the odd man out. He is on the last year of his contract and he is
less expensive than the rest. Look for
Randy Winn can spray the ball to all fields and drive a ball on the inside third of the plate. He is able to handle the bat well, but he lacks the patience to be a top-of-the-order hitter. He generally is better off hitting lower in the order, where he sees better pitches.
He has voiced his desire to play Centerfield however his arm is average and he† has trouble† tracking flyballs. He doesnít particularly get a good jump on the ball and has a hard time tracking it. He is able to overcome these problems because of his speed. Aspen is intending on using him in Right or Left Field. Winn has said all along he will do whatever management wants as long as he can be an everyday player.
††††††††††† Allstar shortstop Jack Wilson had a very disappointing
season last year and
††††††††††† In general,
you should know that Omar Vizquel is one of the best
fielding shortstops in baseball history. His career fielding
percentage is at the top of the charts for major league shortstops. His
specialty is the barehanded catch and immediate
fire to turn a quick double play. He has good speed on the bases and a
consistently high batting average, although he is not a power hitter. In 1998
and 1999 Omar was named to the American League All-Star Team. He is a 9-time
Gold Glove winner, and
Omar takes his job very seriously and has a strong work
ethic. He has said that when he takes the field, he feels he is representing
his entire home country,
Shigetoshi Hasegawa and Chris Spurling are joining a group of superb group of middle relievers. Along with Chris Reitsma, Bob Howry, and, lefty,† Scott Eyre these two will make up probably one of the strongest relief staffs in the league this year. Anyone of these guys is capable of setting up their closer Bob Wickman.
Whereas in 2003 Hasegawa was good at keeping the ball down, his pitches were flat and up in the strike zone far too often in 2004. That's a problem when you're stuff isn't overpowering by any means. Hasegawa's forkball and slider-pitches that hitters often pound into the ground-weren't nearly as effective. He frequently fell behind hitters. He also walked 31 batters. Hasegawa is regarded as a capable fielder with a quick, compact delivery that stifles the running game.
When they traded away Pedro Martinez and Scott Rolon their loyal followers were visibly shaken and let the front office know by not attending the games and filling the seats. Hopefully, with the moves made on this Sunday in November Aspenís front office is sending the Rainmaker fans† the message that they are tired of being the stepping mat of the league and are ready to take a chance this season at restoring glory once again.