They're off to the races: East rivalries add spice
CAPE COD TIMES
The East Division of the Cape Cod Baseball League traditionally produces some of the wildest regular-season races, so why should this summer be any different?
Last year, Brewster pulled away to win the pennant, but Chatham and Orleans had to have a play-in game to see which team would become the East's second playoff representative. (Chatham won).
This is a division with experienced managers. Only the defending champion Brewster Whitecaps will have a new face leading the dugout - Billy Jones of Arizona State. The geographic closeness of all the franchises brings out some of the best rivalries in the league.
The season begins tonight, and here's how things shape up in the East:
Manager: Billy Jones
Field/directions: Cape Cod Regional Technical High School, Route 124, just north of Exit 10 off Route 6 in Harwich.
Last season: 28-16; first in the East; won championship over Hyannis (two games to none).
Outlook: Brewster's first-ever league title was a first time an "expansion" team from 1988 took the crown. First-year skipper Jones, from Arizona State, brings in a team with a similar West Coast flavor to that of last season's championship outfit. There will be plenty of mound experience. Ryan Gloger (Stanford) was 4-2 with a 1.72 ERA for the Whitecaps in 2000, while pitcher Chad Clark (USC) went 3-1. Pitcher Mike Weel (Austin Peay) also returns to the Brewster staff after going 3-1 last year and earning a spot on the East All-Star squad. The Whitecaps are looking for big things from catcher Dan Matienzo (Miami). "We have six temporary players right now," said GM Phil Edwards. "If any of them excels, they could stick around here or with another club. At minimum, it will be the best two weeks of their year."
Top alumni in the majors: Sean Casey (Reds), Billy Wagner (Astros), Seth Greisinger (Tigers).
Manager: John Schiffner
Field/directions: Veterans Field, off Route 28 in Chatham center.
Last season: 23-20-1; tied for second in the East; lost to Brewster in East finals (two games to one).
Outlook: Pitching has long been a staple for the A's and this year should be no different. Pitcher Dan Krines (Fairfield) returns to Chatham after a stellar summer last year in which he earned a share of the BFC Whitehouse Award as the league's top pitcher. Krines went 7-1 with a 2.01 ERA after originally being slated as a temporary player. Also back is P Rich Hill (Michigan) from nearby Milton, who went 2-2 last year. Outfielder Kris Cox (Mississippi) hit .304 with 19 steals for the A's last summer. Shortstop Drew Meyer (South Carolina) played all 44 games and led the league in assists for Chatham a year ago, while outfielder Karl Nonemaker (Vanderbilt) also is back after earning second team All-America. "To be a coach in the Cape League is very special," said Schiffner, a 20-year veteran in the Chatham organization who enters his ninth season as manager. "We've got 18 guys in town and we're ready to go."
Top alumni in the majors: Jeff Bagwell (Astros), Darrin Fletcher (Blue Jays), Scott Schoeneweis (Angels).
Manager: Buddy Custer
Field/directions: Whitehouse Field, Harwich High School, Oak Street.
Last season: 21-21-2; fourth in the East.
Outlook: The Mariners don't have anyone returning from last year, but hope starting pitching and team speed will be the key again. Harwich was third in ERA last year and will look to Matt Lynch (Florida State), Whitt Farr (William & Mary) and Tom Klemm (St. John's) to anchor the staff. The Mariners were second in the league in stolen bases in 2000. With the strength of the league's pitching, they look to rely on making things happen on the bases. Outfielder Matt Davis (Virginia Commonwealth) starred in the Coastal Plains League last summer, while catcher Jeff Mackor (Boston College) earned All Big East honors this spring. "The first 10 to 15 games are important," Custer said. "You can't win it in the first couple of weeks, but you could sure lose it. We've got guys looking forward to seeing how they measure up against the rest of the league."
Top alumni in majors: Mike Lansing (Red Sox), Charles Nagy (Indians), Todd Stottlemyre (Diamondbacks).
Manager: Don Norris
Field/directions: Eldredge Park, Eldredge Park Way and Route 28, off Exit 12 from Route 6 in Orleans.
Last season: 23-20-1; tied for second in the East; lost to Chatham in one game play-in to the playoffs.
Outlook: Orleans originally had six left-handed pitchers signed, but have none at this time, thanks to injuries, the draft and Team USA signings. Pitching still should be a strength of the Cardinals, though, as they return both Matt Incinelli (North Florida) and Brett Lewis (Georgia Southern) from a year ago. Incinelli (5-2, 1.82 ERA) had the league's fourth-best ERA and earned a spot on the East All-Stars, while Lewis went 4-3 with a 2.83 ERA. First baseman Larry Broadway (Duke) and outfielder Tyler Davidson (Washington) should give Orleans more pop in the middle of the lineup. Local product Brad Scioletti (Army) from Barnstable High will be with the club for two weeks before returning for duty at West Point. "One thing I like is that we have a lot of guys who have played summer baseball before," Norris said. "Hopefully the excitement of the Cape League will further enhance that."
Top alumni in majors: Nomar Garciaparra (Red Sox), Frank Thomas (White Sox), Todd Helton (Rockies).
Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox
Manager: Scott Pickler
Field/directions: Red Wilson Field, Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School, Station Avenue, South Yarmouth.
Last season: 21-23-0; fifth in the East.
Outlook: The Red Sox look to be strong up the middle. Pitching and defense should be key, not to mention experience from last year. Catcher-first baseman John Baker (UC-Berkeley) won the team's 10th player award last season and Jason Cooper (Stanford) is back and hopes to attack the shorter fences at Red Wilson Field from the left side of the plate. Infielder Scott Dragicevich (Stanford) will play a major part once he arrives, as will infielder Steve Sollman (Notre Dame). The Red Sox have 10 pitchers in early and J.D. Willcox (Stanford) should return after the College World Series is completed. He compiled a 4-2, 3.46 ERA campaign for Y-D in 2000. "There isn't one guy ahead of another in the rotation," Pickler said. "It's amazing how close the league was last year, especially in the East. That's why team chemistry is so important, and that could decide who finishes first this season."
Top alumni in majors: Craig Biggio (Astros), Denny Neagle (Rockies), Mike Bordick (Orioles).
Compiled by Contributing Writer Paul Godfrey.