Gophers, Paperclips swing a biggie

As teams scramble to position themselves for either their late-season push or for the 2012 season, the first shoe has dropped in what may become a series of major deals prior to the July 31 trading deadline.

The Bushwood Gophers, jockeying for position in the Northbound Division with Superior and Hickory, have acquired possibly the league’s biggest stick in their pursuit of a 2011 title: Slugger Josh Hamilton of the Applegate Paperclips.

The Gophers pick up Hamilton for the final four months of the season and beyond, in exchange for outfielder Curtis Granderson and pitcher Josh Beckett.

Granderson had been a drag on the Gophers’ otherwise productive offense this season, hitting 100 points less than what he posted for the Yankees in 2010, and Beckett hadn’t even appeared in a game. Beckett was a ninth-round draft pick, taken as a gamble that he’d return to past years’ form, and he has.

Beckett sports a 0.92 WHIP at the time of the trade, and Granderson has 21 homers plus a .940 OPS, giving the Clips two strong players for 2012 if they continue to perform at this pace.

A 7-13 performance in June, including 1-4 series against both Bushwood and Margaritaville, had dropped Applegate back to a 38-42 record, dousing any hopes of morphing into a contender for 2011 after 13-7 May.

In Hamilton, the Gophers pick up a studly hitter who was hitting .387 going into May play, plus a -4 arm in CF. Beckett didn’t figure into the Gophers’ 2011 plans.

And so the gauntlet has been dropped. What will Superior or Hickory do to match that move? How about Wisconsin or Margaritaville? Stay tuned.

Gophers’ clubhouse resembling M*A*S*H unit

It has been a painful season for the Bushwood Gophers — in real life, that is.

While the Gophers remain solid contenters in the I-75 Northbound standings, Bushwood players continue their parade to the DL across the major league diamonds.

The non-stop sequence of injuries escalated from alarming to full-blown panic in Bushwood on Monday with the news that perennial MVP contender Albert Pujols will miss six weeks for the Cardinals with a broken left arm.

Counting Pujols’ injury, 10 of the Gophers’ top 11 hitters have now visiting the DL already this season, with most of the injuries putting players on the shelf for a month or more.  And when they have been healthy, the Gophers hitters have been largely unproductive, as evidenced by the fact that Bushwood has been rooted in last place in the I-75 Yahoo standings since opening day.

The moral of the story:  Bushwood fans had better enjoy the good times while they last because the end seems to be near.

Here is a recap of the Gophers injury epidemic: Continue reading

Tope Dope for May

TOPE DOPE: Springfield went 11-9 in May despite disrepectful treatment by the Superior Titans, who really need to leave the Topes alone. The empahsis on speed has also changed the Topes’ old ways in home run hitting. .. SI has just 46 homers while surrendering 70. However 60 of those 70 were hit by Margaritaville and Bushwood in March. … Justin Morneau continues to make the most of his fewest AB total since becoming a Tope, 333/9/29 in 105 ABs. .. Dr. Choo is hitting .304 and is tied with Morneau for the team home run lead, he also leads the team with 12 steals and 48 strikeouts. … Brett Gardner is 10-16 in steals but his average improved to .228. …However he has fanned 43 times. Chad Billingsley returns to the rotation while Clayton Kershaw gets a month to recuperate.

Wacky May provides separation in North, upheaval in South

We may have just concluded the wackiest month in league history. It was a month for further separation among  contenders and also-rans in the North, but a month of complete reshuffling in the South. To wit:

* One team (Wisconsin) went 17-3; another (Chatfield) went 3-17. And they didn’t even play each other.

* Every team in the South concluded the month in a different position in the standings than it had at the beginning of the month. Continue reading

Clip Files for May

A staple of league newsletters in the 1980s and ’90s, team notes are back! If you have team notes you’d like to submit for your club each month, e-mail Gary

CLIP FILES: Applegate posted a 13-7 record in May, winning all four of its series.  The winning record came despite ace Clay Buchholz being deactivated to preserve innings. Trevor Cahill picked up two more wins and is the league’s only remaining unbeaten starter at 8-0. … But is the Clips’ winning record (31-29) a mirage? They only own winning records against four teams, beating up on luckless South Grand Prairie twice to the tune of 4-1. … Josh Hamilton is hitting .387 but has been limited to 33 RBIs… Jamey Carroll has 12 errors in 41 games, tied for the league high. … Freddy Sanchez has played in all 60 games and is hitting .301. He’s third on the team in RBI at 32. Gaby Sanchez is now a full-timer (DH and 1B) and is hitting .315. … Logan Morrison has 27 walks to his 16 hits. His .413 OBA is more than double his .203 BA. … Josh Willingham also has more walks (32) than hits (27) and an OBA of .372 to soften his .218 BA. … Jamey Carroll, on the other hand, has been a disappointment, with a .276 OBA compared to .379 OBA for the 2010 Dodgers… Stephen Strasburg saw his second month of action and was not effective. For the year he is 2-4 with a 5.06 ERA. He has 25 innings of eligibility left. … Opponents are hitting .293 and the 5-column of Neftali Feliz.