This ‘N That

Another busy week with non-baseball stuff. I really need to win the lottery. Which I guess would mean that I should buy a Lottery ticket some way.

I’ll be with the Tempe Angels in the next few days. I’ll be at Peoria on Sunday for the game against the Mariners. Then I’ll be at Tempe on Monday and Tuesday for the home games. Monday is against the Phoenix A’s. Tuesday is against the Peoria Padres.

All three games are scheduled for 10:30 AM, but the Tuesday game is now a doubleheader. The Angels’ July 11 game against the Padres in Peoria was rained out. The league office decided the game would be made up on Tuesday at Tempe. The Padres will be the home team in one game, the Angels in the other. The twinbill begins at 9:00 AM.

As you might suspect, the temperature for these games is usually around 100 degrees. Minor league doubleheaders are seven innings for each game. Fourteen innings is a lot to ask in 100+ degree weather, but if the boys are game, I’ll be right there with them. Just have the ambulance standing by.

Elsewhere …

The Angels promoted Jordan Walden today to Rancho Cucamonga. Jeremy Haynes was reassigned to Cedar Rapids. Walden was named the #3 prospect last November in the Top 10 Prospects report.

Hank Conger hit three dingers in Rancho’s day game Wednesday at home against High Desert. Reports in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin suggest that Conger may start catching again in a few days. Hank also hit a homer last Sunday for the Quakes — right after I left to head home to tend to other responsibilities. Are you avoiding me, Hank? (smile) I need to get some of his dingers on video.

A final note … Normally I ignore posts on other web sites and blogs, because unprovoked personal attacks against me are usually intended to draw attention and distract me from more important things.

I have noticed, however, that a particular blogger has repeatedly posted on his blog and others a false statement claiming I said that “Michael Collins is the next Mike Piazza,” and similar falsehoods.

In truth, I granted this individual an interview in July 2005 where he posed several questions. Here’s the truth of what he said, and what I said:

Rob: Michael Collins at Cedar Rapids: Old for his league? Another guy I looked up and said, wow, those are some good numbers. Good plate discipline, hardly ever strikes out (17 K’s in 167 AB — exactly the kind of player the Angels seem to like) and a little pop (.545 SLG, more of a gap hitter based on his doubles).

SS: Michael belongs in a special category, in my mind. He was signed out of Australia at age 16. He didn’t grow up where there’s much of a true baseball development program (i.e. no Little League) so his learning curve will be longer.

That said, I’ve seen him every year since he’s signed and have seen him sprout into a big athletic body. In the back of my mind, for some reason when I see Michael I think of Mike Piazza. The defense may not be as good as, say, Mathis but the offense is finally coming along just as Piazza was a late bloomer.

As a basis of comparison … Piazza’s DOB is 9/4/68. As you know, he was selected by the Dodgers in the 7,945th round (okay, the 62nd round) of the June 1988 draft. His first year, in 1989 at age 21, he played Short-A at Salem in the Northwest League and posted an AVG/OBP/SLG of .268/.318/.444. The next year, his first full season, he was at High-A Vero Beach and posted .250/.281/.390. Returning to High-A at Bakersfield in 1991, he posted .277/.344/.540.

So now we have Michael, who turns 21 on July 18, posting .347/.426/.545 in a pitcher’s league.

(Yes, his age is appropriate for the Midwest League.)

Is it for real? Well, at Provo in 2003, he posted .333/.353/.447 in 132 AB. The Pioneer League is a hitter’s league, but I felt he needed to play every day in 2004 at Provo but he didn’t get the chance. Now he’s getting to play every day and he’s finally kicking in.

I hope the Angels find a way to keep him. He’s a six-year minor league free agent at season’s end. I think he’s worth placing on the 40-man roster but if he indicates he’s willing to stay with the system then maybe they can save that slot for someone else.

Now that’s what I really said.

This isn’t the first time this individual has misquoted and distorted what I’ve said. Based on the comments I’ve read about him on various boards, it seems my sentiment about his veracity is not alone.

It’s also interesting that this individual has a penchant for going down the home page to copy the links I’ve posted for reposting on his site without attributing from where he copied them.

This is the last time I will comment on the matter. But having seen this falsehood posted multiple times on multiple boards, I wanted to set the record straight.

That’s not to say I have anything against Michael Collins. He’s been a friend since I met him in August 2001 at Arizona Summer League, when he had just turned 17. Michael turned 24 on July 18. His AVG/OBP/SLG at Double-A Arkansas are .264/.351/.412. He’s been on the disabled list since mid-June with a bulging disc that apparently has been bothering him most of the year.  It’s interesting that the veracity-challenged individual didn’t mention Michael’s injury either as context for his 2008 numbers.

I’ve always admired Michael for no other reason than beginning his professional career as a 16-year old halfway around the globe, when most American high school juniors would be looking for minimum-wage summer jobs if they got any job at all. He’s always been one tough ballplayer and, yes, his physical build reminds me of Mike Piazza.

If Michael is at Tempe next week, I’ll look forward to shaking his hand, catching up on things, and wishing him luck to get his career on track.

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