27 August, 2006

Alexander Smit Dispatches - "Live" Update

Sunday night, Beloit lefty and Donutball's adopted player, Alexander Smit, threw 7 innings of no-hit ball! Smit left the game at the beginning of the bottom of the 8th with a 1-0 lead. Danny Vais, in relief, allowed the first home hit in that inning and Cedar Rapids plated a run in the 9th to send the game to extra innings.

Following MILB.com, Beloit and Cedar Rapids are locked in a 2-2 tie in the top of the 14th.

More tomorrow!


Cedar Rapids took the game with a run in the bottom of the 19th inning.

Smit struck out 11 and walked 4 in his 7 innings of no-hit ball. MILB.com now show split stats on each player page, so check out Alexander's updated numbers. The splits after May are impressive.

From the game report:

"You can't worry about it," smit said of a potential no-hitter, adding that he focuses on retiring the first batter of each inning.
The Snappers dropped their second straight extra-inning contest, even though seven pitchers combined for 25 strikeouts.

"We both had chances, we came up short. That's baseball," said Smit, who started the season in the bullpen.

With nine games left in the regular season, Smit will probably get one more start. That's a shame given his recent form. He's pitched 14 consecutive scoreless frames. Well, he should get a shot in the Midwest League playoffs which start on 6 September.


25 August, 2006

Tottenham Anderlecht UEFA Cup Final 1984

aaaahh! What great memories!

Tottenham: Czech's in the Post

Tottenham Hotspur's re-entry into Europe starts in Prague, much loved destination for stag weekends.

Slavia Prague, mind you. Not, Sparta Prague who face off against Champions' League rejects Hearts.

Slavia were Czech champions back in 1996, but done little since then. They're not exactly laden with household names. Let's not be complacent though.

First round action in the UEFA Cup starts on 14 September. Spurs last won the UEFA Cup in 1984 in a dramatic penalty shoot-out against Anderlecht. Your citizen journalist was there.

Love this:

"The fact that the jersey is half white and half red should symbolize the dichotomy of life."

Win some, lose some.

21 August, 2006

Alexander Smit Dispatches - Back in the Groove

Alexander Smit bounced back from his rocky outing last week with a strong outing Sunday as Beloit downed Clinton 8-1 to help their Midwest League playoff push.

Smit went a full seven innings allowing a run on two hits and three walks. Once again he averaged over one strikeout per inning with a total of nine.

With last night's effort, Smit is 5-0 as a starter - 7-1 overall. He has lowered his ERA to 3.15 - 2.55 as a starter. Smit has given up 71 hits and 46 walks in 94.1 innings, whilst striking out 120.


Thanks to Brian from the Nationals Farm Authority for picking up this mention (right down the bottom) of Alexander in Baseball Prospectus.

19 August, 2006

Football: Premier League Preview

As promised, Donutball has got out it's crystal ball, put it's citizen journalist credentials on the line and bottled it. A quick run through each of the Premier League clubs on the opening day of the 2006-7 season.

Questions: a third title in a row for the "Chosen One"? Relegation for Pompey? Carrick the new Roy Keane? Red cards for Robbie Savage? Twenty goals for Berbatov? dodgy penalty decisions for Liverpool?

Answers: we haven't got a clue.

All you need to know about al-Arsenal's new Emirates Stadium - 900 toilets and 370 metres of urinals. Top four. Flush.

Aston Villa are buoyant with the arrival of Martin O'Neill, the man who should have been England manager, and new sugar daddy, Randy Lerner. Challenging for UEFA Cup place.

Mark Hughes has turned Blackburn Rovers into a tough nut to crack and surprised in 6th place last year, without Craig Bellamy they'll do well to match that performance. Lots of cards, not too many goals, mid-table.

A lot of print about Bolton's Sam Allardyce disappointment at not getting the England job. Wanderers - like Lancashire neighbours Blackburn - will be difficult to beat, but could be a let down. Up, down, up again, mid-table.

Charlton's Darren Bent was the top English premier League marksman in 2005-6, but failed to crack the World Cup squad. New boss Ian Dowie has a tough act to follow, but the 'Addicks are becoming a top table fixture. Lower half, but taking the odd scalp.

Ballack ,Salomon Kalou, John Obi Mikel, Shevchenko, "Khalid the Cannibal" Boulahrouz and, possibly Ashley Cole: quite a transfer window haul for Chelsea. Yet, Mourinho says "we're not ready". Champions (possibly of Europe too).

Sticky times for the Toffees. Everton in the post-Ferguson era. Andy Johnson is a great signing, but this squad's too thin. Struggling, but will survive.

Fulham have been rocked by the sulkiness of Steed Malbranque. Manager Chris Coleman has to work more magic, but this might be their last top flight season for awhile. Bottom four.

If any club looks like breaking Chelsea's grip on the title, it's Liverpool. Ignore opening day. Ignore the Community Shield. Liverpool's defence is rock solid; Sissoko, Gerrard and Bellamy hum in midfield; late signing Dirk Kuyt, much sought after by Premier League clubs, adds much needed pop up front. Runners-up.

With Stuart Pearce as manager, you can expect lots of effort from Manchester City. Last season's disastrous run-in showed how thin a squad Pierce has. A lot of transfer activity over the summer, but another struggling year. Lower half.

The start of the season, I think, is crucial for Manchester United. I expect the usual strong run after Christmas, so if they begin in good form Man U might make a race of it. Big surprise not to see a striker signed over the summer. Top four.

Ex-England man Gareth Southgate takes over at Middlesbrough with Steve McLaren off to Soho Square. Looks to be a baptism of fire. Will ship goals, but probably score a lot too. Lower table.

Owen injured. Shearer retired. Damian Duff, the only summer signing. Newcastle look like one of many fighting for scraps. Top half, possible run at UEFA Cup place.

It wouldn't be a proper season without a relegation battle for Portsmouth. Wheeler-dealer Harry Redknapp has brought in a lot of experience with Glen Johnson, David Thompson, Sol Campbell, David James and Kanu. Lower table.

Steve Coppell returns to the Premier League with Reading. The Madejski Stadium will be full, but it could be a short stay at the top. Fighting relegation.

A sleeping giant (tm), Sheffield United, finally return to the Premier League. They were founder members, y'know. Little top flight experience, but manager Neil Warnock is a magician. Watch the Blades disappear.

Despair at the end, but 2005-6 was Tottenham's best season in the Premier League - fifth (should have been fourth). Michael Carrick loss means more to Spurs than his addition means to Man U (huh?). How good is Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov? Zokora: Patrick Viera or Danny Murphy? Top six: short UEFA Cup run.

I know about zero about Watford's squad. Marlon King scored 22 goals last year. They threaten to be fit and will probably want to stop others playing. Struggle from post-to-post.

West Ham have quietly put together a decent Premier League squad. They have depth to overcome to Dean Ashton injury. Card shark Teddy Sheringham's still trotting along. Challenging for a European place.

Interesting signings for Wigan: Emile Heskey, Chris Kirkland and Denny Landzaat. They surprised most last season, but are no longer an unknown quantity. Mid-table (I'm sure they'll take that.)

17 August, 2006

MLB Debut - Rafael Perez

Perez is a hard throwing lefty who until this season had only half-a-season above A ball. The lanky Dominican has fairly ordinary K/IP ratios and only slightly better than average control. He throws a 94mph heater which has good movement and a plus slider. Perez has yet to develop his change of pace. All in all, he looks like a possible LOOGY candidate if he can stick in the Bigs.

Cleveland called up Perez early in the season, replacing RHP Matt Miller. The club was looking for a long man out of the bullpen and Perez fitted better than most other candidates in the system. That said, he had barely time for the proverbial cup of coffee, pitching an inning on 20 April against the Orioles, picking up two strikeouts.

Perez returned to the Akron Aeros in AA a few days later. He had a longer spell with Cleveland over June and July, pitching in 12 games, allowing 7 hits and 4 walks over 8.2 innings, with 10 strikeouts.

At Akron, Perez started 12 games and posted a 2.81 ERA and had a WHiP of 1.11. That contributed to his recall, but he found himself at AAA Buffalo in late July. With the Bisons, Perez has pitched in relief, throwing 15.2 innings with a WHiP of 1.15 and 21 Ks.

The Baseball Cube (ignore the Pulaski line in 2005 and the 1998 and 1999 White Sox numbers - whole different Perez's)

16 August, 2006

Alexander Smit Dispatches - The Swing Play the Blues

Tough night Tuesday for Beloit lefty Alexander Smit, coming on the back of his Midwest League Pitcher of the Week award.

Smit lasted just three innings and a batter, allowing 3 runs on six hits and six walks. It was his worst outing since joining the rotation in June. Last night was his tenth start.

The Swing of the Quad Cities won 4-3, the winning run coming in the 6th inning by which time Smit was out of the game. This is a crucial series in the Western Division as Beloit and Quad Cities chase the final playoff spot. Quad Cities now lead by a game-and-a-half.

With 14 regular season games remaining, Smit figures to get two, possibly three more starts. Overall, he has posted a 6-1 record with a 3.40 ERA and 1.28 WHiP. In 87.1 innings, he has struck out 111 batters and walked 43.


15 August, 2006

MLB Debut - Travis Ishikawa

The Jints have been patient with Travis Ishikawa, a smooth fielding first baseman with a sweet stroke. At the same time, he does come with a reputation. It's probably time he earned it.

Ishikawa probably won't be mistaken for Prince Fielder or Conor Jackson. He might be a Hal Morris type, hitting for average but never turning the corner to be a all-star. Or, he could fizzle out at AAA.

He hit .282/.387/.532 at San Jose in the California League, with an OPS was +14 above the league average. That looked like Ishikawa's breakout year. But, despite his callup to the Giants in 2006, the numbers show a step backwards. As of 15 August, he's hit .232/.316/.403 in 86 games at Connecticut. Although in a pitcher's league, those are poor numbers. His walk total is just 35 in 350 plate appearances.

Stepping back to April, Ishikawa got an early call to San Francisco when Lance Niekro went on the bereavement list. He spent less than a week with the club and made a couple of brief appearances. On 18 April, he grounded out on the first pitch he saw, pinch hitting for Jack Taschner in the 7th. He picked up his first MLB hit the next day in another pinch hitting role and played an inning in the field.

Travis has had a couple more trips up to the big club since then and compiled a line of .292/.320/.500. On 26 May, the first appearance of his second stint, he went 3-for-4 with 3 RBIs.

With the Hillenbrand deal, Ishikawa's opportunities have diminished. Clearly, he needs further seasoning at AA.

The Baseball Cube

Alexander Smit Dispatches - Pitcher of the Week!

This just into Donutball HQ:
"Beloit Snappers starting pitcher Alexander Smit was named the Midwest League Pitcher of the Week for the week of August 7-13. Smit pitched seven scoreless innings with 11 strikeouts and allowed one hit in an August 10 start versus Fort Wayne. Smit no-hit the Wizards for 6 1/3 innings before Will Venable reached base on an infield single, the only hit Smit allowed. Beloit won the game 6-3 and went on to sweep the Wizards."

Midwest League Notebook:

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "He was great and had great stuff. He's got good numbers. We had a lot of strikeouts. I think [his fastball] was deceptive. Guys were having trouble picking it up. Give the credit to him. He's the first guy we've seen in a while that we couldn't get anything going off." -- Wizards manager Randy Ready told the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette about Smit.

Congratulations, Alexander!

13 August, 2006

Football: Sven Gone, Beckham Out (Good Riddance?)

Friday: smiling Steve McLaren names his first England squad.

There's a number of possible reasons for David Beckham's exclusion from the England squad to face Greece next week.

He's not very good: Beckham is one paced, cannot tackle or head. He cannot read the game, commits too many petulant fouls and gets too many yellow and red cards for a supposedly influential midfielder. On the plus side, he is still one of the best free kick specialists in the world (by far the best Englishman) and can deliver great crosses, albeit with decreasing frequency. Not even his greatest detractors could forget 10 years of loyal and occasionally brilliant service, 94 caps, 17 goals, ::cough:: 2 red cards.

Form: His World Cup performance was poor, despite his winner against Ecuador and a couple of "assists". Too often he drifted out of the game. His lack of pace showed and those assists apart his delivery into the box was erratic.

Age: This shouldn't be an issue, as he'’s just 31. For crissakes, Phil Neville's in the squad.

Injuries: Beckham ended the World Cup on a stretcher and is far from match fit.

The new coach: McLaren wants to stamp his mark on the team. What better way to distinguish himself from the discredited Sven Goran Eriksson.

Beckham wanted out: Resignation from the captaincy after the World Cup gave McLaren an excuse to drop Becks. The captain probably didn't want to "retire" from international football a failure. At the same time, with Eriksson gone his automatic selection was jeopardised.

Whatever the reason - or combination of the above -– Donutball is glad to see England move forward minus it’s overrated, inconsistent and one-paced liability. But, don't be surprised if Coach Steve makes the call to the ex-captain later in the season.

Meanwhile, Terry Venables as assistant coach? WTF?

Athletics: Second Place? That's Losing.

Athletics (track and field) is not a sport about which Donutball normally gets agitated.

However, Britain's sorry performance in this week's European Championships in Sweden has got up our goat.

This was Britain's worst performance at the European Championships since 1978. It's part of a depressing pattern over the last five or six years which has seen disappointing results at several major events. The Athens Olympics, with Kelly Holmes double gold effort, now seems watershed. The (not so great) old guard has given way to the unfocussed, medicore new guard.

At Gothenburg this week, Britain took one paltry gold. Belgium, for goodness sake, took home three golds. Britain's total of 11 medals - with 5 each of silver and bronze - was joint second. But, the unofficial table is counted on golds, so that makes GB 10th.

Leave out the Russians, who have the population, talent and experience, Britain should be one of the top nations. GB should be top five.

What made matters worse today was the team dissension after that solitary gold which came in the 4x100 men's relay - effectively a consolation prize. Sprinter Darren Campbell left the track in a huff, not joining his teammates in celebration, choosing instead to give a cryptic interview about "certain accusations". Campbell left the air clouded. What accusations?

We can only assume that he was referring to how the British team has been slammed in the press for the poor performance. Or, perhaps there is lingering disquiet with the inclusion of disgraced relay team member Dwain Chambers. Chambers, you will recall, failed a drug test back in 2003 and served a lengthy ban before returning to the track earlier this year.

It's fairly widely known that the team is full of huge egos and split beteween several training and coahing camps. The days of Britain taking a team of individuals is long gone. With some exceptions, it's now a bunch of egos wearing the same vest.

This is not a blanket criticism of the athletes. There have been some excellent performances by the likes of Mo Farah, second in the 5000m, Rhys Williams's bronze in the 400m hurdles and Nathan Douglas's second in the triple jump behind the irrepressible Cristian Olsson. But, too many athletes came off the track seemingly baffled by their mediocre performances. Too many seemed content with mediocrity.

Now we get splits amongst former athletes, like the irritating Paula Radcliffe, about the involvement of other former athletes in training Britain's current crop.

Expectations, of course, have been built up by the BBC and other media. For the BBC, deviod of live sport thanks to Sky and other competitors, has hyped up these championships and the British hopes for medals.

The BBC has suffered from its own surfeit of egos in the commentary box and on the "comfy sofa" of the studio. Why they need the likes of British "leg ends" Steve Cram, Colin Jackson, Jonathan Edwards and Radcliffe on hand when BBC's American import Michael Johnson is the only one willing to level constructive criticism of team management and coaching.

Michael Johnson would never settle for second. Neither should the British athletes.

11 August, 2006

Alexander Smit Dispatches - One-hit wonder

Terrific news for Donutball fans from the Midwest League. Beloit's Alexander Smit had his best performance of the season last night in front of 3,467 at Fort Wayne's Memorial Stadium.

Smit allowed a hit in seven innings of work, a one out infield single in the sixth. He struck out 11 Wizards and walked none, picking up his 6th win of the season. Another batter reached on catcher interference. Otherwise, Smit competely dominated the game.

"I was just trying to get ahead of (the hitters)," Smit explained. "That was the only thing I was trying to do, stay ahead in the count and use my fastball. My curveball and slider were working well. I mixed those up a little bit. But everything was going the way I wanted to tonight."

Actually, things have been going Smit's way since he became a regular member of the Snappers' rotation at the end of June. He's 4-0 with a 2.52 ERA as a starter

"I've been working with my arm slot and finding the strike zone," he said. "I worked with my pitching coach, Steve Mintz, and it's helped me out a lot. I've been trying to get my arm mechanics back like I did last year."

With opponents hitting just .160 against him in his last eight outings, has Smit thought about climbing the ladder in the Twins' system?

"I only worry about what I can control," he said. "I just worry about pitching well. I don't worry about all that other stuff. I just want my team to win."

Beloit won the game 6-3. Game Log Box

10 August, 2006

MLB Debut - Fausto Carmona

Or, as some wag called him (probably on teh Yuda Chat) Cleveland's Snoop Dogg d/b/a Fausto Carmona. Or as Baseball America said in 2005: "When the Indians signed Carmona...he was a malnourished stringbean."

Well, he's svelte 6'4" 220 lbs these days and brings the heat. Complimenting his 94mph hard sinking fastball, Carmona delivers a biting slider and features a plus changeup (according to BA; Sickels and McKamey think it's below average, meh). With that great array, you might think Carmona could be added Liriano and Hernandez to form a Holy Trinity of rookie hurlers. What let's him down are average H/IP ratios throughout his Minor League career and mechanics - coaches worry about his whippy action.

Carmona was recalled on 15 April to replace Fernando Cabrera who went on the DL. He started the same day, pitching 6 innings, allowing 1 run on 5 hits and 2 walks whilst striking out 4. Carmona picked up a "W" as the bullpen preserved the 7-2 victory.

Two more starts followed in April in which Carmona got shelled. The Indians sent him back to Buffalo where he made 4 starts giving up 21 hits and 4 walks in 22.1 innings with 22 Ks. Carmona came back to Cleveland for good on 12 May when they dumped Danny Graves and Felix Heredia.

With the Bob Wickman trade, Carmona is now the de facto Cleveland closer. Donutball is not aware of any imminent rap releases from the 22 year old Dominican hurler.

The Baseball Cube

08 August, 2006

MLB Debut - Ramon Ramirez

Colorado pitching coach Bob Apodaca had this to say about 24 year old righthander Ramon Ramirez back in May:

"[When Ramirez arrived at Spring Training] ... his back leg, his knee, would really collapse, creating a very flat plane to the plate ... I didn't see it. The other pitching coaches did because we were assigned different pitchers and catchers during Spring Training, and we discussed the guys. He had a good arm, a quick arm, and everything was flat and up.

"So he and I had a discussion that lasted about five minutes when they were playing catch in the outfield. I told him, 'This is what I'm seeing, but this is what I need to see. So how do we do that?' He just made a subtle adjustment on his back leg, still getting some flex but not collapsing, and he immediately took to it. He took it from that simple five-minute session, took it right into his side work, and was very impressive in his spring debut for us."

Those little adjustments have helped make Ramirez an essential component in the Rockies 2006 bullpen. Okay, he won't get to save Game 7 of the World Series, but the Dominican has taken big steps in his first MLB season.

Ramirez, picked up in the Shawn Chacon trade in July 2005, made his debut on 14 April against Philadelphia pitching 2 innings of relief allowing one hit and striking out two. Colorado lost 10-7.

Ramirez was used almost exclusively as a starter in the Minors though he started his pro career as an outfielder in the Rangers system back in 1997. His next stop was a brief stint in Japan with the Hiroshama Carp in 2002 - by then he was pitcher - and was signed by the Yankees in March 2003.

It was an up and down Minor League career and in 2005 the Yankees more or less gave up on Ramirez before he was packaged in the Chacon deal. Ramirez can bring the heat and had a Minor League career K/IP ratio of about 1:1. The rap is that he's a thrower rather than a pitcher. He can throw a decent curve, but has no changeup to speak off. However, with his mechanics improved, he's certainly become more of a pitcher this season and fits the bill as a power reliever.

He pitched 14 innings of relief to start his MLB career before allowing a run. Despite a rough July, (as of 8 August) he still leads Rocks relievers with a 2.80 ERA and sports a nifty 1.04 WHiP.

The Baseball Cube

Cricket: We Love Monty!

Whilst 2006 has not been the golden cricket summer that was 2005 - when England wrested the Ashes from Australia in the series of the decade - there's been glimmers of glory and performances to cheer. The emergence of Monty Panesar, of course, tops the list.

Panesar was one of several key players in England's win today over Pakistan clinching the 4 match series 2-0.

If you'd told me 10 years ago that England's cult cricket hero would be a left arm spin bowler from Luton wearing a Patka, I think I might have raised an eyebrow. Monty has raised eyebrows over the last eight months since being a surprise selection for the test series in India. And, what a debut. Panesar's first wicket was none other than the great Sachin Tendulkar.

Injury to England's tried and trusted Ashley "Wheelie-bin" Giles has meant that Panesar has enjoyed an uninterrupted run in the England test side in this summer's series - a disappointing split with Sri Lanka and now the morale boosting victory over Pakistan. It's morale boosting for two reasons. This is England's first series win since the Ashes triumph, followed as it was by a 2-0 defeat to Pakistan in late 2005; second, it puts England in good spirits before the return series against Australia this winter.

England continue to have a selection dilemma. Over the summer injuries meant the likes of Monty, Sajid Mahmood and Ali Cook were been called up to the side. All have performed well, sometimes reaching great heights, as did Monty at Manchester.

If Giles is fit, the selectors have a tough choice between left arm spinners. Giles is more than handy with the bat and fills the difficult No.8 spot. But, Panesar has proved himself to be a both an attacking and defensive bowler, something Giles is not. Then again, can the inexperienced Monty handle the pressure of Aussie crowds? Can England risk someone who's a batting and fielding liability?

There are other big choices. At wicketkeeper: Read's 'keeping ability versus Jones's (so far invisible) bat. As for the bowlers, does Mahmood have the discipline to succeed Down Under?

Thos questions can wait. For now, it celebration time.

There's other positives to take from England's success. The series against Pakistan has been played in good spirit. Given world political that could have been an issue. (Though I'm keeping an eye out for reports of crowd behaviour given Leeds' sad history of racist spectator behaviour.) Then there's the appearance in the team of a British born Sikh and Lancastrian of Pakistani origins. A small statement for British multicultural society; a bigger statement for cricket in the modern era.

Why do we love Monty? The return of classic left arm spin bowling; his success, of course; his quiet determination; his youthful enthusiasm. He's from Luton!

06 August, 2006

MLB Debut - Matt Smith

Yankee reliever Matt Smith debuted 14 April in a 5-1 loss against Minnesota.

The lefthander was recalled from Columbus on 14 April (though ESPN says 15 April) to replace catcher Koyie Hill who New York designated for assignment. Smith was subsequently shuffled back and forth to Columbus to fill in for injuries.

In his debut, he faced one batter (Joe Mauer) starting the 8th inning in relief of Tanyon Sturtze.

Matt Smith is your LOOGY (Lefty One Out Guy) in training. He's a converted starter who has seen his K/BB ratio improve after his move the the bullpen. He split time between Trenton (AA) and Columbus (AAA) last year as he made the switch in roles. Smith's fastball tops out at 92mph, but the curve is his out pitch.

Everbody needs a LOOGY.

Smith was involved in the Yanks/Phils deadline day trade. Smith, Minor Leaguers shortstop C.J. Henry, pitcher Carlos Monasterios and catcher Jesus Sanchez went to Philly in exchange for outfielder Bobby Abreu and pitcher Cory Lidle.

The new Phillie hails from Las Vegas, birthplace of Barry Zito and home to future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux.

The Baseball Cube

05 August, 2006

MLB Debut - Tony Pena, Junior

Tony Pena (2): or, son of 94 year old former MLB catcher Tony Pena Sr.

Just to confuse matters, Tony Junior is one of two Pena's to appear for the 2006 Atlanta Braves. Catcher Brayan Pena, a 26 year old Cuban defector, has ridden the same R-Braves shuttle as Junior. Brayan is currently back at AAA despite doing fairly well at the plate - .321/.345/.464.

Anyway, Junior is a slick fielding shortstop who has poor plate discipline and, so John Sickels says, makes too many mental errors. He's a toolsy infielder - great athletic ability and speed, but poor baseball skills.

Pena slipped off Baseball America's top 30 Braves' prospects this year and ranked fourth amongst the organisation's shortstops behind guys called Elvis, Yunel and Luis. In 2005, he had a full season at AAA and put up some lousy numbers - .249/.285 /.347 in 490 at bats. He walked just 21 times with 113 strikeouts.

Nevertheless, he got a chance early on in the season replacing Chipper Jones on 12 April when the All-Star went on the DL. Junior was optioned back to the R-Braves on 30 April as Atlanta recalled LHP Macay McBride from the DL. Pena was recalled 29 July when Jones went down again.

Pena's debut came as a pinch runner for Wilson Betemit on 13 April in Atlanta's 7-6 loss to the Phillies. He was stranded at second as the Braves rally stalled. Pena got his first AB on 15 April as he replaced the injured Edgar Renteria. He grounded out in the 8th. A first hit - and so far only MLB safety - came on 21 April against the Washington Nationals.

At Richmond this season, Pena had 298 ABs batting .282/.312/.359 and just 12 walks.

The Baseball Cube

Alexander Smit Dispatches - "Swing batter!"

Friday night in Beloit, Wisconsin Dutch lefthanded pitcher Alexander Smit won his fifth game of the season - his third victory as a starter. On the way, he struck out 12 batters in 6 innings as the Snappers downed the Dayton Dragons 3-1. Box.

Smit's success as starter continues. He worked through a tough first inning, conceding a run on two walks, a stolen base, single and sac fly. Thereafter, he allowed just one hit and no further walks. He was dominant, retiring 12 batters in a row from the first to two out in the fifth when a batter reached on shortstop Toby Gardenhire's error. Smit fanned five in a row at one stage. His 12 Ks sets a club high for the season.

Last year Smit struck out an average of 12.3 batters per 9 innings in 96 innings split between Beloit and Elizabethton. In 2006, he's not quite on the same pace, but 98 whiffs in 77.1 innings is still good for 11.4 per 9. That's not bad for a guy who tops out at 92mph.

In each of his eight starts, Smit has made it to the fifth inning and has now extended his streak of going to the sixth to 6 games.

02 August, 2006

Our Banner has Returned


It didn't go anywhere, we're just totally pants when it comes to CSS.

Lead by example, we say. Either that or pinch bits of code from someone else's blog.

For our next trick, we'll tackle that backlog of MLB Debut posts. And, watch out for that FA Premier League preview!

Alexander Smit Dispatches - 30 Games to Go

It's the last month of the Minor League season and time running out for prospects to impress. Donutball's adopted Snapper, Alex Smit, did himself a further good as racked up his fourth win of the season on Sunday as the Beloit Snappers clobbered the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 9-3. (Box)

Smit worked 5 2/3 innings for the victory; the fifth consecutive start in which he has reached the sixth inning.

All three Wisconsin runs came on Robert Hudson's 5th inning homer. Otherwise, Smit retired the first 10 batters he faced and wound up with a 4 hit, 2 walk, 6 strikeout effort.

With Sunday's performance, Smit's ERA sits at a respectable, but hardly spectacular, 3.66. Still, it's a major improvement on the first two months of the season when the figure was closer to 9.

Since joining the rotation in late June he has not missed a turn, going 2-0 in 7 starts with a 3.12 ERA. In 37 innings as a starter, Smit has conceded 13 runs on 27 hits and 15 walks with 43 strikeouts.

Beloit Snapper 2006 baseball cards are now available. We're thinking of making an investment!