I had a conversation with St. Paul Saints radio personality Sean Aronson Sunday afternoon before the Wingnuts’ game against St. Paul at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
Before I get to that there’s one note coming out of last night’s 10-9 Wingnuts win. An error charged to St. Paul center fielder Coby Smith during Wichita’s seven-run second inning was changed to a three-run double by Ryan Patterson. So give Patterson three RBIs, bringing his total to seven, and tack on five more earned runs to the total of St. Paul starter Ryan Morse. If Smith had caught the ball, it would have ended the inning. Instead, three runs scored and Mario Delgado followed with a two-run home run to cap the scoring in the innings.
Here is the conversation I had with Aronson:
Q: What are you overall impressions of the team early on? It looks like the Saints have a pretty strong group.
I like our team. You look at the first series we played against Wichita at our place, and we won three pretty tough ballgames. (Then) Lincoln comes in and we lose two games in the ninth inning. Then you saw (Saturday) night’s game. That’s kind of the way it’s been, up and down. When the offense clicks with everybody, this is going to be a scary group. The pitching has to cut down on the walks, there’s no secret there. But overall, the veteran guys that we have are going to do their jobs, and the young guys have already proven they can step up.
Q: The middle of the order has Brent Krause, Ole Sheldon and Jason Cooper, and when you add Kevin Millar to that mix, it makes the lineup even more dangerous.
It does. Millar even said he struggled out of the gate, so what he added more than anything was the leadership. It wasn’t the big RBI, it wasn’t the big base hit, but the leadership was there. So to have him gone for a little bit (on television broadcasting duties) is going to hurt, but we have enough veteran guys who are going to step up. Add in the mix as well Gerard Haran, who can swing the bat. His average doesn’t show it, but the kid can hit the ball a ton. And one guy I’m waiting to watch get going is Coby Smith. He’s stolen over 40 bases twice in his career, and once he gets on base, we’re going to have a lot of opportunities to do a lot of different things.
Q: You talked about Millar’s leadership. What have been your experiences with him?
He’s great. MLB Network was actually following him around for about 10 days, which has to be hard for anybody, just to have a TV camera in your face wherever you go. He handled it like the jokester that he is, like the nice guy that I heard he was. For the time that he was with us, he was incredible. He did every interview that was asked of him, he signed every autograph. When (Wingnuts radio broadcaster Steve Schuster) was in town, he mentioned how there was a young lady in the front office (in Wichita) whose mom had gotten into a car accident. She was a big Red Sox fan and wanted an autograph from Millar. I went down to Millar and told him about this and he said, No question, and wrote a little personal note to him, as well. It just shows you the type of guy he is.
Q: Jason Cooper reached Triple-A with two organizations and was a fringe prospect for a while. He seems motivated to get back to that level, where a lot of guys playing independent ball don’t always seem to be.
I had a chance, obviously, to watch him last year and what he could do a year ago, and nothing has changed. The toughest position to be in as a player, and I’ve heard this from a lot of guys, is Triple-A. It’s sort of that deal where, you’re waiting for that call-up to the majors but you hope that some young stud in Double-A doesn’t get called up before you. It’s the toughest position for those guys to be in. But he goes about his business, he doesn’t complain about anything, he plays the game extremely hard. I think he’s one of those guys, when Millar is gone, he’s the leader of this ballclub.
Q: Sunday starter Joe Woerman was in flight school in Tacoma while pitching in Triple-A there. What information do you have on that?
He did something like 130 hours in flight school. He said he’s always been interested in that. As a matter of fact — right before we left this trip — he owns a model plane that you can fly, and he was flying it around in the parking lot. He’s really into planes. He said that it was about last Thanksgiving when he popped a DVD in of him pitching, and that really got him going again. He was like, I want to get back and I want to play again. Maybe the flight school thing is when his career is officially over, but for now this is where he wants to be.
Q: The Saints have a lot of pitchers with experience in the upper levels of the Minor Leagues.
Yeah. This pitching staff has talent. Our bullpen, for the most part, has been phenomenal. But again, the one thing — and I stress this, but Jason Verdugo, our pitching coach; George Tsamis, our manager and all the pitchers would agree — if you continue to walk guys, it doesn’t matter how good a pitcher you are. It’s one less hit the other team needs to score a run.
Q: The last guy I want to ask you about is Krause. He’s been here for a few years, so with the new additions it seems like he could be overlooked. But he has always been steady.
He’s a guy that if you just looked at him on the playing field, you wouldn’t know what he was thinking. He doesn’t look intense, and I think that’s something that may have hurt him when he caught on with an organization for a couple of years. Just because you don’t look intense, it doesn’t mean you’re not trying. This guy is about to set every single record in Saints history this year; he’s going to surpass every one of them. And you saw what he can do, two nights ago, with his arm in right field. He’s as close to a five-tool player in this league as you’re going to get. Every time he signs with an organization and winds up back with us, I scratch my head