Toronto’s biggest bargaining chip sits in Vegas

05/28/2012 4:44 AM - Devo

Travis Snider May 2012.jpgWe are nearing the end of May and the Toronto Blue Jays are MLB’s best .500 ball club. 

I’m not really sure if that’s good or bad at this point, but considering all the hype this team had from multiple outlets before the season started, I guess .500 is a little disappointing. 

If you take into account that the Jays are playing in, quite possibly, the toughest division, not just in baseball, but in all of sports, then .500 should be just fine. That’s where the problem lies: Parity. Parity is running rampant through the AL East with no less than six games separating first from last. The division is literally upside down with the Baltimore Orioles playing way over their heads and leading the division through the first-quarter. 

The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, the division’s perennial stalwarts are struggling to stay afloat. Pitching is killing the Red Sox and age will sooner or later catch up to the Yankees. 

The Tampa Bay Rays will continue to rule this division with superb pitching, timely hitting and a coaching staff that is second to none. The Orioles, on the other hand are sitting on top of the division and doing pretty well if you don’t mind me saying. They rank seventh in the AL in opponents batting average against, sixth in strikeouts, fourth in ERA, fifth in WHIP, and are second in the AL in home runs and fourth in OPS. 

If normalcy returns to the East the Orioles will fall out of contention around July and with the rest of the pack pounding on each over a dozen times, a slightly above-average year could put you in the running to either take the division or snake that second Wild Card spot. 

On paper the Jays have all the tools; power (Jose Bautista), speed (Rajai Davis,) defence (Colby Rasmus), pitching (Ricky Romero/Brandon Morrow), and high octane rookies on the verge of breaking out (Brett Lawrie, Yan Gomes, Travis d’Arnaud, Adeiny Hechavarria). 

Until these rookies begin to take over and become the leaders of the new Jays’, a couple more pieces have to be added to fully compete and make the playoffs for the first time since 1993. Whether it’s another bat to slot in between Bautista and Encarnacion, or a solid number three pitcher to take the pressure off of Kyle Drabek, and Henderson Alvarez, there biggest asset right now is Travis Snider who is sitting in Las Vegas with the 51s. 

Snider has really been taking his lumps since getting drafted by the Blue Jays in the first-round of the 2006 amateur draft. 

His career is seen as a roller-coaster of ups and downs. Dominating in the minor leagues but never quite living up to expectations once called up to Toronto. Some may say he has been cursed. One thing I do know is that regardless of what is asked of him, he does what is best for the team. And if in fact he has played his last game for the Jays, at least he is raising his stock in Vegas with a superb season so far. 

In 26 games Snider is hitting .333 with five home runs and 27 RBI. He’s also belted 11 doubles while sporting and OBP of .411 and slugging .604. 

Sure, Snider hasn’t had the success in MLB that the organization has expected; 232 games, 248 batting average, 28 home runs, and 236 strikeouts, but one thing that every organization can’t ignore is his ability to stick to the plan and not give up. 

This year did have a different feel to it. Many believed it was Snider’s time to shine. He battled with Eric Thames for the starting left fielder position in spring training, and all signs pointed to him coming out on top. Unfortunately Thames’ all-around game looked a little more polished relegating Snider to their minor league affiliate. 

Despite his success in Vegas it’s rumoured that the Jays are reluctant to trade him since they might need him at some point this year. Still, the numbers he is producing is raising some eyebrows and his stock is rising. A bat or another arm will be a necessity as the season moves on and the progress and maturity of Snider is crucial when it comes to what he could bring in a late season trade. 

It was once thought that Snider was too good for the minors but not good enough for the pros. But on second thought, his struggles might mean playing full time elsewhere but could give the Jays the firepower to take them to the next level. 

Everyone wins.

Devon is the Founder and Executive Director of The GM's Perspective. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Currently, Devon is a Manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario Canada, and can be reached at devon@thegmsperspective.com. You can follow The GM's Perspective on Twitter and Facebook. His full bio can be seen here.

**Devon is available for hire or freelance opportunities**

 

 

Former Ranger Benji Gil suits up for Forth Worth

05/24/2012 4:12 AM - Devo

Benji Gil.jpgLong-time Texas Ranger and Anaheim Angel Benji Gil has signed on to play shortstop for the Fort Worth Cats of the North American League. 

One year after winning the World Series with the Anaheim Angels in 2002, Gil has been off the radar when it comes to professional baseball. 

Eight years in the pros and mostly playing the part of a utility player, Gil never played more than 130 games in a season, and when his career was finished, played in more than 600 games, belted 32 home runs and piled up 171 RBI in the process. 

Once his days in MLB were finished, Gil bounced around Triple A with Chicago, Detroit, and the New York Mets. However, since 2006 Gil has been playing in the Mexican League with Monterrey, Chihuahua, and Oaxaca. 

In those six years, he’s gone deep 41 times, has driven in 249 runs, and batted .317 over the course of 1600 at bats. 

Gil was recently added to the Cats roster after ex-TCU shortstop Shelby Ford went down with a hamstring injury. 

I talk about this a lot but you can always expect the unexpected from Independent baseball. It gives those on the cusp that one opportunity to live out a dream, but also gives former Word Series champions a chance to get back on the diamond. 

The NAL, which has over 2 million fans view their games each year, has seen many former Major Leaguer’s join and has seen over 35 players sign professional contracts. 

Indy ball gives you affordable family entertainment but the product on the field is second to none.

Devon is the Founder and Executive Director of The GM's Perspective. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Currently, Devon is a Manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario Canada, and can be reached at devon@thegmsperspective.com. You can follow The GM's Perspective on Twitter and Facebook. His full bio can be seen here.

**Devon is available for hire or freelance opportunities**

 

MiLB attendance on the rise

05/20/2012 7:50 AM - Devo

MILB 3.gif2008 was the benchmark for attendance in MiLB. With over 43 million taking in games that is what every manager, owner, and shareholder is striving to reach. 

Through the end of April, over 6.4 million have made their way to the park this year. That’s an increase of over 11 percent from 2011. 

Pat O'Conner, Minor League Baseball president was quoted on MiLB.com as to why he thought the fans are showing up in record numbers; 

"Additionally, our clubs have kept their prices at a level where our industry is, once again, one of the more affordable family entertainment options," added O'Conner. The average cost for a family of four to attend a Minor League Baseball game this season is $61.23. The cost includes two adult tickets, two child tickets, four hot dogs, two sodas, two beers, a program or scorecard and parking.” 

Isn’t that what makes a successful business these days: Affordability? 

Whether its electronics, retail, finance, etc…if the service is affordable and comparable to its competitors you can usually maintain your core customers while attracting new ones. In saying this, customer service is a staple of any business, and without it, those new customers would revert back to their old ways. 

O’Connor and everyone involved are aware of this. How else can you explain why attendance is on the rise when the majority of the cities that these teams play in are surrounded by their Major League counterparts? 

Sports is entertainment but, it needs to be affordable to the average family. 

To attend a game, as mentioned earlier by O’Connor, costs a family of four just over $60. Where else can you take your family out and pay $60, that’s nearly unheard of. Just going to the movies costs you on average, $10 a ticket. And with food and drinks you’re pushing towards $70-$80. 

Baseball, family and affordable fun; is there any wonder attendance is creeping towards record highs? 

Find below the teams leading the way in average attendance courtesy of MiLB.com

Pacific Coast, Round Rock (7,583)

Mexican, Monterrey (11,878)

Eastern, Richmond (6,000)

Southern, Pensacola (4,823)

Texas, Frisco (6,745)

California, Lake Elsinore (3,923)

Carolina, Winston- Salem (4,417)

Florida State, Daytona (2,732)

Midwest, Dayton (8,513)

South Atlantic, Greensboro (5,279)

Devon is the Founder and Executive Director of The GM's Perspective. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Currently, Devon is a Manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario Canada, and can be reached at devon@thegmsperspective.com. You can follow The GM's Perspective on Twitter and Facebook. His full bio can be seen here.

**Devon is available for hire or freelance opportunities**

Sugar Land Skeeters set Atlantic League attendance record

05/17/2012 5:22 AM - Devo

Sugar Land Skeeters.jpgThe Atlantic League’s newest franchise; Sugar Land Skeeters, are making quite the impression. 

The team, which is the brainchild of ODP Chairman Peter Kirk and Partner, 16-time Gold Glover, Brooks Robinson has seen record breaking attendance numbers after only one month. 

A four games series between April 26 – April 29 pulled in an average game attendance of nearly 7,400 and 29,413 total over the four-game stretch according to oursportscentral.com. That ranks fifth among 200 minor league teams in the nation. 

With a $27.9 million stadium filled to the rafters, the Skeeters are undoubtedly making their mark and solidifying themselves as a force when compared to the other teams from the east. 

With capacity reaching 6,000, this state of the art minor league stadium “will also generate economic activity annually of approximately $7.7 million or a net return of $169 million over 30 years on the investment of the City and ODP.”  

At present date the top ten average attendances per team are:

1. Dayton Dragons Midwest 8,513

2. Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs International 8,107

3. Louisville Bats International 7,669

4. Round Rock Express Pacific Coast 7,432

5. Sugar Land Skeeters Atlantic 7,353

6. Frisco Rough Riders Texas 6,745

7. Albuquerque Isotopes Pacific Coast 6,698

8. Columbus Clippers International 6,635

9. Fresno Grizzlies Pacific Coast 6,340

10. Memphis Redbirds Pacific Coast 6,210

To be ranked so high as a first-year team is a testament to the management team when related to preparation, marketing and results. 

I say this as the Skeeters currently sit near the bottom of the Freedom Division, but number one in attendance. Independent Baseball is not about results, it’s about location, the fans and the atmosphere. 

It looks like the Skeeters have perfect this formula so far.

Devon is the Founder and Executive Director of The GM's Perspective. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Currently, Devon is a Manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario Canada, and can be reached at devon@thegmsperspective.com. You can follow The GM's Perspective on Twitter and Facebook. His full bio can be seen here.

**Devon is available for hire or freelance opportunities**


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