September 23, 2021

Parity Exists, But Injuries and Player Losses Make the Challenges Tougher

May 16, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Parity appears extremely strong three weeks into the Atlantic League season with every team within two games of the division lead, but the challenge to managers and player personnel bosses to keep it that way is certain to build now that the expected roster-juggling has started.

It seems every person this typist talks to has the same story about replacements not being in abundance so as injuries, player sales to major league organization and the roster-plucking by Taiwan and Mexico add up only those with the quickest fingers at dialing up players and agents may survive.

Look at some of what has happened within the last few days.  Two-time defending champion Somerset got hit hard by key injuries and defections and Bridgeport had two more players depart.  Then, on Thursday alone Camden lost two players to major league organizations and Newark’s starting catcher went the same route.

Patriots Lose Three Big Bats

It is no secret Somerset’s veteran trio of Matt Hagen, Josh Pressley and Jeff Nettles is being counted on for much of the Patriots’ offense as it was last season when they combined to drive in 240 runs.  Nettles is now gone for up to eight weeks with a broken left hand.  Pressley had an MRI on his back, and is on the disabled list.  In addition, highly-regarded Pete LaForest, the all-star catcher and RBI leader (82 in a 94-game season) in the independent Can-Am League in ’09 who was leading Somerset in home runs (3) and RBI (16), has left to play in Taiwan, and starting pitcher Mike Thompson is temporarily on the inactive list to tend to family matters.

Bridgeport, which lost ace Esteban Yan to foreign play right before the season opened, has seen veteran outfielder Tike Redman go to Mexico, and Alex Prieto left the team to be closer to family.

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House, Valentino, Costanzo Have Contracts Sold

The New York Mets made two acquisitions for Buffalo. They purchased catcher J. R. House from Newark and designated hitter Valentino Pascucci from Camden, both with major league experience.  The move for New York to add a catcher no doubt started when major league backup Henry Blanco was injured, necessitating the promotion of 23-year-old prospect Josh Thole. House had started in 16 of the Bears’ first 17 games, hitting .345 with eight RBI.

The ‘Sharks also had third baseman Mike Costanzo’s contract purchased by Cincinnati.  He was hitting .278 with four homers and 10 RBI for Camden. 

Now Dad!

“Breaking balls on the inside,” Tim Raines said with a hearty laugh when I asked the Newark manager how he would have his pitchers work to his son, Tim Raines, Jr. when the Bears and Somerset finally meet up May 28-30 in Newark. “Nothing straight and over the plate”, he emphasized, while still beaming.

The father-son duo played together in Baltimore and Junior played under his Dad briefly last summer, but the games at Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium will be the first time they will oppose each other while the Sr. Raines is managing.

(Subscriptions to the Atlantic League Notebook are available on a monthly or full season basis via or  Bob Wirz also writes a weekly column, the Independent Baseball Insider, as well as a blog, The author has 16 years of major league baseball public relations experience with Kansas City and as chief spokesman for two Commissioners and lives in Stratford, CT.)

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