Ricky Romero hits rock bottom in Buffalo

05/31/2013 4:53 AM - Devo

Ricky Romero 4.jpgThe former "Ace" of the Toronto Blue Jays is struggling beyond what anyone could imagine.

On Monday-Ricky Romero's fourth Triple A start-against the Durham Bulls, he went 2/3 of an inning surrendering eight runs on five hits. He walked three and didn't strikeout a batter.

Overall, Romero has a 13.85 ERA in Buffalo. He has given up 20 earned runs in 13 innings, struck out three and walked a staggering 20 batters.

Romero's struggles were evident even before the All-Star break last year. Despite an 8-2 record his ERA was over 5.00 and his control issues became very apparent.

In the second half of last season, a time when Romero was in the midst of a 13 game losing streak, all the signs pointed to a pitcher that had serious problems. Mechanical or not, there was an obvious disconnect.

After the season Sportsnet's Shi Davidi reported on Romero's elbow and knee surgeries. Was that the cause of this? Was he hiding injuries and overcompensating on the mound? Whatever the case may be, this is not the Ricky Romero that helped lead Cal State Fullerton to the NCAA World Series title in 2004. This is not the kid with "swag" that was in the top 10 in AL Cy Young voting in 2011. Romero is now a guy in the minors trying to make it from inning to inning without imploding.

Of course, this is not the first instance of a pitcher completely losing his ability to throw strikes. Rick Ankiel is the most recent pitcher in memory to have a breakdown this severe.

Ankiel was second in Rookie of the Year voting in 2000, but once in the playoffs suffered through two of the most agonizing appearances you could ever imagine; 11 walks in four innings and countless wild pitches to the backstop. Fortunately for Ankiel, he could hit the ball pretty good. Given the opportunity to change it up and become a hitter, Ankiel embraced the change and has become a functional utility player that once hit 25 home runs in 2008.

Adam Loewen, one of the highest drafted Canadians ever, was as a pitcher coming out of the draft. Injuries forced him from the mound to the batter's box and now he's working his way through the minors as an outfielder. Romero has never been known for his batting skills and is unlikely to go that route.

Pitching is Romero's bread and butter, and it's completely foreign at the moment. No one can understand what he is going through right now except him and him alone.

Once at the top of his game, he's now a shell of his former self. The act of pitching, once so natural, has become a disease with no cure.

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.

Chicago White Sox sign Florence Freedom's Josh Richmond

05/26/2013 7:34 AM - Devo

Josh Richmond.jpegFlorence Freedom outfielder Josh Richmond has signed a minor league deal with the Chicago White Sox.

While attending the University of Louisville, he garnered a lot of attention despite battling injuries. The Dallas News reported on the 2010 draft, and of the six Cardinal players drafted, Richmond was considered the one with the most potential. Not bad for some who played in only 23 games in his final collegiate season. You really have to have immense ability to be considered so highly by a MLB club when not playing at 100 percent.

Richmond, who was signed by the Texas Rangers in the 12th round of the 2010 MLB June Amateur Draft, spent the first three years of his professional career in the Rangers system. Over that span, Richmond batted .232 with 19 home runs and 91 RBI. His best season came in 2011 when he belted 11 home runs and hit 32 doubles with a .318 average over 126 games for the Hickory Crawdads of the South Atlantic League (Statistics courtesy Baseball Reference).

According to Scout.com, Richmond was signed by the Rangers at above slot value for $195,000. After a disappointing 2011 season with Myrtle Beach, he was released.

After his release, Richmond hooked up with the Florence Freedom of the Independent Frontier League, and within five games, he was back in affiliated baseball. According to an article by Cincinnati.com on May 24, the White Sox signed Richmond after batting .267 with a .389 OBP in 15 at bats.

Freedom general manager Josh Anderson, who was quoted in the article, believes Richmond has all the tools to be successful at the next level;

“The White Sox are extremely pleased with Curley (a previous Freedom player signed by the White Sox in 2012) and they are turning to the Freedom again hoping Josh can be their next find here in Florence,” Freedom general manager Josh Anderson said. “Josh has the make-up of a guy that can go to the next level and have success. We wish him all the best.”

Currently Richmond is suiting up for the Kannapolis Intimidators, the White Sox Single A Affiliate. In two games he's batting .250 with one RBI.

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.

Cats Roster Grows

05/25/2013 5:11 PM - Devo

Thunder Bay Border Cats 2.jpgPress Release courtesy Thunder Bay Border Cats

The Thunder Bay Border Cats roster continues to take shape as they get ready for their opening game of the 2013 Northwoods League season on Wednesday, May, 29th, in Willmar against the Stingers.

The Cats are proud to announce the signing of catcher Anthony Azar of Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.  The 5'11", 185 pound native of The Woodlands, TX., is in his junior season with the Bearkats.  Azar has played in 51 games this year and is batting .310 with 19 doubles, five home runs and 45 runs batted in.  He has twice been named the Southland Conference "Hitter of the Week" this season after leading the Bearkats in hitting last year with a .354 average. 
 
The Cats have also signed pitcher Clint Knoblauch (Florida Gulf Coast University), pitcher Ryan Atwood (Florida Gulf Coast University), pitcher Chris Kerwood (Arkansas State University), pitcher Caleb Smith (Cisco College), pitcher Daniel Stoney (Madonna University), pitcher Clay Cinnamon (Miami of Ohio University) and infielder Derek O'Dell (Texas Christian University).
 
The Border Cats have been forced to delete two players from the roster as pitcher Cashtyn Deleeuw (injury) and pitcher Blake Smith (innings pitched limit) will not be joining the club this season.  
 
The Border Cats play their home opener against Willmar on Saturday, June 1st, at 6:05 p.m. at Subway Field.
 
Single game tickets go on sale this Friday at the stadium box office from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.  Fans who have purchased season tickets can also pick up their packages starting Friday.    
 ______________________________________________________________________________________
           
pronounced: 
Azar - "ay - zar"
Knoblach- "nob - lock"  (no relation to Chuck Knoblauch)
Cinnamon - "sin - a - moan"

Former Athletic Lenny DiNardo tosses no-no

05/24/2013 4:30 AM - Devo

Lenny DiNardo.jpgUnless you're a die-hard baseball fan, the name Lenny DiNardo won't mean much.

DiNardo played parts of six years in the bigs with his best season coming in 2007 for the Oakland Athletics. He appeared in 35 games, made 20 starts and went 8-11 with a 4.11 ERA in 131 innings.

Never was he the most imposing pitcher or intimidating, DiNardo relied on keeping batters off-balance with a wide array of pitches. When your fastball tops out at 84 mph (courtesy of FanGraphs), a mix of curves, sliders, and change-ups is a must.

Since DiNardo made his last appearance in MLB for the Kansas City Royals in 2009, he's bounced around every possible minor league level in the Athletics organization making it all the way to Triple A. His ERA during that three years span ranged between 3.51 and 6.49.

This year DiNardo is playing for the Lancaster Barnstormers of the Independent Atlantic League. However, this is not his first start in Indy ball. Before being resigned by the Athletics in 2011, DiNardo spent the beginning of the year with the Long Island Ducks of Atlantic League going 2-1 with a 5.09 ERA (provided by Baseball Reference and MLB Trade Rumors).

His numbers are very similar this year, meaning that are obviously not too good. As a matter of fact, in DiNardo's last start he gave up 10 runs in less than three innings to the Sugar Land Skeeters.

No where to go from here except up, right?

According to an Atlantic League press release, DiNardo made history in early May tossing the first no-hitter in Barnstormer history. He struck out eight and walked only two. No-hitters are extremely rare and sometimes they come from the most unexpected people. Being 33 years old, DiNardo is also very cognizant of the magnitude of the situation.

"I'm 33 years old," said DiNardo. "I don't know how much longer I'm going to be able to pitch. So, like I told Jerry (Owens), to be part of something like this, with a group of guys like this, is really special. This was a total team effort."

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.

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