Let’s just say that the American Association abandoned roster rules for one season and that teams could sign whatever players were willing to play in the league. And let’s also say that general manager Josh Robertson and whomever next year’s manager will be decided to clean house and bring in a completely new roster. And let’s also say that they asked my input and ended up with 22 ex-Wranglers.
What would that roster look like? Well, it would look like a team of ex-Wranglers, I suppose. It would look, more specifically, like this: DISCLAIMER: I’m killing time in the office, waiting for an e-mail reply and waiting to leave for tonight’s game. I recognize that this blog entry has no meaning whatsoever, but it’s still fun!
Catcher: Adam Donachie (Wranglers 2006-2007)It’s sad to say, but the catchers who have come up through the Royals system look like, well, a group of players who are suited for independent ball. I went with Donachie because there’s no evidence that Mike Tonis is still alive. Donachie is batting .218 in Double-A with the Orioles.
First base: Craig Brazell (2007)Brazell started this season with the St. Paul Saints before going back to Japan, where he played last year. He hit a combined 39 homers between Wichita and Omaha in ‘07 and 27 last year in Japan. I’d expect him to hit third in this lineup.
Second base: Jeff Eure (2007)Well, this is convenient! Eure already plays in the American Association, with St. Paul. He’s batting .265 with five homers. So he’s not very good. But his presence in the league was the basis for coming up with this team in the first place, so he pretty much has to be a part of it.
Third base: Brennan King (2005)Not to be confused with current Wingnut Brenan Herrera, of course. What other journalist do you know who can say he covered two Bren(n)ans? I feel proud. King currently is in Double-A with the Phillies, but he’s very mediocre even by minor-league standards, so there’s a chance he won’t find an affiliated job next season.
Shortstop: Irving Falu (2005, 2007)This is another guy who might be tough to snag for an independent team, since Falu is currently in Triple-A. But he’s still in the Royals organization and looks to be on his way to minor-league free agency this season. If nobody else picks him up, why not return to the glory days of Wichita, where he …was well below average.
Left field: Kit Pellow (1997-98)All this guy does, at every level he’s ever played (except the majors) is hit bombs. He actually has 300 career minor-league homers. On the dot. His M.O. has been to play in the Mexican League before finishing with a team in the American Association (OK, he’s only done that once — last year). So why can’t he play a whole season of independent ball? Last year he hit a combined 40 homers at three stops.
Center field: Mel Stocker (2004-05)I never would have given Stocker much of a chance to reach the majors, but he actually did, playing in nine games with the Brewers in 2007. He’s never been much of a hitter, but he can really run (298 career steals), and he has decent plate discipline. We need a leadoff guy on this team, so Stocker (who was nicknamed Male Stalker by former Wrangler media relations guru Katie Cook and me) is our guy.
Right field: Tydus Meadows (2002-03)I wanted to go with Cory Aldridge or Byron Gettis in this spot. But Aldridge is playing very well in Triple-A and figures to have an affiliated job next season, and Gettis hasn’t played since 2005 and I don’t know what happened to him. Meadows gets the job by default, but he has a decent pedigree, with 152 minor-league homers. He was playing with Joliet of the Northern League (where Kash Beauchamp was the hitting coach), but hasn’t played since July 11.
Designated hitter: Josh Pressley (2005)Sure, he was suspended for performance enhancing drugs back in that magical 2005 season, but he surely learned his lesson. Pressley, who owns more than 100 minor-league homers, hit 30 bombs (with a .354 average) for Somerset of the Atlantic League in 2008. This season, he continues to crush weak pitching, with 14 bombs and 71 RBIs.
Batting orderCF StockerSS Falu1B BrazellDH PressleyLF Pellow3B KingRF MeadowsC Donachie2B Eure
Starting pitcher: Tyler Lumsden (2006)Once a big-time prospect in the White Sox organization, Lumsden had no success after coming over in the Mike MacDougal trade, even going 3-13 in Omaha last season. He’s a lefty currently in Triple-A, so he’s likely to find work in an organization. But if teams collectively give up on him next year, there’s a spot for him in Wichita.
Starting pitcher: Kyle Middleton (2004-06)Even though Middleton pitched in the AA this season with Pensacola, he’s not a strong candidate to return since he’s pitching well in Triple-A with Oakland. The Wingnuts would have loved to pry Middleton from Pensacola earlier this season and I’m sure they would welcome him with open arms if he happens to fall out of favor in Oakland and can’t get picked up by another team.
Starting pitcher: Ryan Baerlocher (2001-05)This is another guy whose whereabouts are unknown to yours truly. But he pitched as recently as 2007, so I’m sure he could be ready to go by the start of 2010. Baerlocher spent way too much time in Wichita, perhaps not getting the chance to develop into the capable, mid-rotation major league starter he looked to have the potential to be. He finished (or maybe started) 2007 in the Atlantic League.
Starting pitcher: Thad Markray (2005-06)Markray’s time in Wichita was marred by the death of his young daughter. He looked to have the capability of being a major league reliever at some point, but he was probably never the same after that happened. He’s currently pitching his second season with Shreveport-Bossier in the American Association.
Starting pitcher: Les Walrond (2003)Walrond seemed like a perfect candidate for this team until I discovered he pitched in the majors last season. Six games for the Phillies, who I imagine gave him a full World Series share for his efforts. But Walrond hasn’t played this season, so I imagine he’s hurt. What better place to prove you’re healthy for 2010 by starting in the city where you pitched (and won!) two games six years ago?
Closer: Ryan Braun (2005-06)Another ex major-leaguer (35 combined games in 2006 and 2007), Braun dealt with some injuries and is trying to make his way back. He missed all of 2008 and has pitched this season in rookie ball and Class A with the Chicago White Sox. If he returns to Wichita, I hope the mustache he rocked back in 2005 returns, too. Oh, and it’s not THAT Ryan Braun.
What a team, huh? I didn’t do a bench or name relievers — gotta make Robertson do SOME work, you know? But I’ve given him a head start. This was done all in fun and would never actually work, obviously, because of roster rules that necessitate rookies, but this would be a darn good squad. Of course, I doubt any of these players, while they were in Wichita the first time, ever got excited about the opportunity to one day return on the bottom rung.
Hey, it’s time to go to the ballpark! It worked!