The publication of the Baseball America Almanac is an exciting time for baseball addicts seeking information on forgotten Phillies.
Back in August, Beerleaguer challenged readers to seek the whereabouts of former Phillie infielder Lou Collier, who spent one year with the organization in 2004, mostly with Scranton, before disappearing from the face of the earth.
A friend of the family with connections to the front office received word the 31-year-old Collier was playing somewhere in Asia, either Korea or Taiwan. Later, frequent contributor George S. confirmed that Collier was indeed playing in Korea for the Lucky Goldstar Twins (LG Twins).
In seeking players like Collier, the Internet is an incredible resource, but doesn’t always yield solid answers, or even clues that can be read in English. I'm learning a good bit of Spanish actually just by checking the Leones Website because it's the easiest way to check in on Tomas Perez.
That’s why the publication the Baseball America Almanac is a momentous occasion for those who want solid answers, and can spend hours browsing stats and box scores. Here are some highlights, compiled by Beerleaguer senior correspondent Martin Smith:
-- Lou Collier did indeed play out the season with the Lucky Goldstar Twins, hitting .303 with 15 homers. It’s funny he can’t get work on a major-league bench. Two seasons ago in Scranton, Collier hit .326 with 14 homers and a .517 slugging percentage. In their 2005 annual, Baseball Prospectus called him "a defacto 27th or 28th man," and questioned, based on his late-career offensive surge, why he "hasn’t been a 23rd or 24th man instead."
Good question. Collier is just as good with the stick as Marlon Anderson, who signed a two-year deal with Washington to be their pinch hitter.
-- According to the Inquirer, the player to be named later in the Vicente Padilla trade will be either veteran pitcher Ricardo Rodriguez or 17-year-old Dominican infielder Julio Gonzalez. Rodriguez’s history is well-documented, but an extensive search for Gonzalez produced nothing, including no mention in the Almanac.
The Dominican summer league has 32 teams and about 1000 players. The Almanac lists only players who hit at least .250 with 150 ABs. Gonzalez must be one hell of a hidden gem, or else the Phillies are looking at the wrong guy.
-- Speaking of the Dominican League, check out this line: Pitcher Jorge Perez (Diamonbacks) pitched 25 games, 32 innings, fanned 64 batters, for an ERA of 0.00 era and 21 saves. Impressive. Like, Jedi Knight impressive.
-- Need to salvage a reliever from the junk pile? How about Mets 1991 second-round draft choice Marc Kroon? Pitching with Yokohama in Japan, the 32-year-old went 3-2 with 26 saves and a 2.72 ERA last season.
This quote: "Kroon set a Japanese baseball record for throwing the fastest pitch recorded in a game in Japan, clocked at 161 kilometers per hour (100.625 mph)."
Kroon became the team’s closer after former Mariner Kaz Sasaki went on the DL. Players can make pretty good coin in Japan, so no word on whether Kroon would consider a stateside return. The last time he pitched here was 2004 in the thin air of Colorado Springs (Rockies, AAA), where he went 2-3 2,72 ERA with 20 saves. He also led the Mexican Pacific League in saves last winter. It's not a bad idea having at least one fireballer in a bullpen. Perhaps the Phillies can look into it.
-- The "have bat will travel award” for 2005 goes to Darryl Brinkley, who hit .376 in Mexico, .323 in Taiwan and .444 in a brief stay with New Jersey in the Can-Am League. His resume from previous seasons includes Korea, Italy and the Netherlands. Brinkley keeps a passport in his back pocket and suitcase packed at all times.
-- As for other North Americans of note, Tony Batista hit.263 with 27 HRs. He’s back in the states, signing a one-year deal with Minnesota. As for former Red Sox outfielder Gabe Kapler, well, I guess he didn’t like the sushi, hitting .153 with 3 homers.