Monday, August 27, 2012
In a bitter news conference, St. Francis Friars owner Scott Hatfield confirmed that the monk-operated franchise had thrown in the towel on a 2012 season that had begun with a "fire sale" and ended, for all practical purposes, with the injury to slugger Jose Bautista.
"With Bautista, we are an elite team in terms of scoring runs," Hatfield said ruefully. "Without him, we move back to the middle of the pack, offense-wise....and despite improvements to our bullpen, our starting pitching has not been good enough to keep us competitive with Jose out."
Noticeably absent: longtime "acting" GM Jack McKeon, who has returned to the racetracks and boardwalks of his Florida retirement community, and who apparently no longer even advises management on player movement. "Jack served the Friars very well in a transition period," said Hatfield when asked about McKeon's absence. "Jack was the inspiration for our 2011 team that shocked the Central Division and made the playoffs, but I think if he was here he would understand the direction we feel forced to go."
Hatfield was red-faced during the brief and bitter moments that followed. "As you know, I feel that our division rivals in Arizona have been extraordinarily fortunate in making the playoffs last year, and don't think too much of their organization's moves the last year. But personal feelings shouldn't blind thoughtful people to opportunities, and so, no matter how much it hurts to swallow this pill, I'm here to report that the Rattlesnakes have essentially caught us in the standings with their pile of free agents, and they....that is to say, their GM, Ronald Melkonian, seems to feel that acquiring a pitcher can make them a contender for a playoff spot. After last season's improbable chain of events, I can see where they might think that."
"I therefore announce that Arizona has agreed to take on the contract of injured RHP Shawn Marcum, who is currently rehabbing in the minors, along with left-handed hitting 2B Kelly Johnson. In return, St. Francis will receive IF Aaron Hill, LHP Zach Britton and two minor-leaguers to be named later. Ironically, both Hill and Johnson have been traded for each other in reality.....and, more painfully, both Marcum and Britton were previously swapped between the two teams. I don't see this as a blockbuster, but just another building block. Perhaps if Arizona rattles off ten straight wins and gets back in contention, this will be considered their turning point."