Tuesday, February 22, 2011


For immediate release:
"Trader Jack" McKeon, acting GM of the St. Francis Friars, unleashed a flurry of short press releases that augured significant changes for a club that finished 71-81, ten games below .500 and the fourth-worst record in the league:


McKeon confirmed that RHP Leo Nunez, who spent most of 2010 languishing in Arizona's minor-league system, was added to the club's roster. Nunez compiled a 9.56 ERA in 15 games with the Thunder last season, and was the proverbial "player to be named" in a late-season trade that sent RHP Gavin Floyd to Arizona.

Nunez, who has proven in the past that he can collect 30 or more saves in a season, will compete with RHP Francisco Cordero (1-2, 3.21 ERA and 6 saves) and former closer Frank Francisco (2-5, 5.47, 15 saves) for the role of St. Francis's closer in 2011. But to open that roster spot.....


Carlos Lee, a former Oakland United star making nearly $10 million a year, has been granted his unconditional release by the Friars, which acquired him in a mid-season deal for versatile utility man Ben Zobrist. Lee hit .299 in limited duty for Oakland before being traded to St. Francis last season, and hit .261 overall with 6 HR and 25 RBI in 176 at-bats.

Pretty decent production, but as McKeon explained, this was irrelevant. Lee's usefulness in the trade was to facilitate a deal with a club that had too much salary. "When I helped set up these rosters last spring," McKeon remarked, "I left lots of cap room to either assume salary in trade, or else eat contracts. Unlike some of the other clubs, which had very little wiggle on their cap, I didn't care much about Mr. Lee's contract at the time, and that allowed us to add some pretty fair prospects in the deal."

"But now," McKeon concluded with a smile, "I'm afraid we have no interest in paying a plodding outfielder better suited to first base over $18 million a year, who is coming off his least productive year ever. He's been a talented guy...would you believe he was a minor-league third baseman, with a throwing arm that was at one point described as the best in all of baseball by some scouts? But now, he's just a bat, and not a good enough bat to justify the salary. The Friars are going to let someone else ride 'El Caballo'. That means 'horse', by the way."


Another mid-season acquisition, veteran C Jason Varitek, has been named the first player-manager in BARB history. Varitek won high marks for his leadership after being acquired in a mid-season deal with the Pottsylvania Creepers, and hit .368 in 22 games, often off the bench. "We see Jason as someone that players respect and will play hard for," said McKeon. "We don't expect that he'll hit .368 or even .268 again. That's not the way we assess his value. We see him as being a great role model for our young catchers (J.P. Areceibia, Jesus Montero and Tony Sanchez), and a voice of authority for our young pitchers (Kyle Drabek, Zack Britton, Shelby Miller). As a switch-hitter, he provides interesting options for us late in a ballgame, but we we also plan on keeping both Pyrzinski and Barajas, giving us three catchers, so that we won't work Jason too much.

In another unprecedented move, McKeon has hired Justine Siegel, the first woman to coach professional baseball. She will become the first woman coach in BARB history, and the first woman to be prominently associated with a BARB team since the ill-fated Anna Benson helped run the Darwin Finches. Siegel will pitch BP and run conditioning drills for pitchers as assistant bench coach, and will travel with the team. "It's a new era," said McKeon. "The kid can do the job I've asked her to do, and she's a good role model on how to positively push for change without rubbing people the wrong way. Also, it makes some of the padres here nervous, and that's a plus for me. I have to keep them on their toes."