Leftovers at the dinner table

Hope all of you had a great Thanksgiving. Where did that mild weather go? I think old man winter is starting to sink its teeth just a little bit.

As the blog subject line implies, today’s blog serves as a mixed bag of leftovers. Basically, what most of our fridges have looked like this week, right?

On the Cougars big league alumni front, the big news this off-season has been the accolades given to 2001 Cougar Miguel Cabrera. The announcement of Cabrera’s American League MVP  was significant. While we’ve had several former Cougars designated as an “MVP” in the postseason, including 2 World Series MVPs (can you name them?)…we’ve never had a MLB regular season MVP until Cabrera.

Many other former Cougars have been in the hot stove headlines – just not as prominent as Cabrera.

Elder statesmen: The following players are on the free agent market: Scott Podsednik, Joe Blanton, Alex Gonzalez and Matt Treanor.

In 63 games with Boston last season, Podsednik (’97 Cougar) batted .302. Blanton (’03) was dealt to the Dodgers during last season, and has some value as a mid-rotation pitcher.

A 14-year big league veteran, former Cougar Alex Gonzalez is a free agent who spent last season with Milwaukee.

There’s certainly some value in having a veteran presence such as Gonzalez (’96)  and Treanor (’99, ’01) on a club as well. The average age of these four ex-Cougars is approaching 35 years old. Here’s hoping that all four players are part of an Opening Day roster next season.

Change of address forms: A few former Cougars have switched teams this off-season. The Astros claimed former Cougar Sam Demel (’07) off waivers from Arizona. Demel spent most of last season at Triple-A Reno, and appeared in only 1 game for the D-Backs. In each of the prior two seasons, Demel made 30 or more relief appearances.

Cougars pitcher Mickey Storey (’09) was claimed off waivers by the Yankees. Storey made his big league debut last summer, and posted a respectable 3.86 ERA in 26 games.

One last former Cougar I was able to see online who switched clubs was infielder Jason Christian (’08-’10), who was signed to a minor league deal by the Twins. Christian was originally a 5th round pick of the A’s and spent portions of 3 seasons at Kane County, including 2009 , when he was named a Midwest League All-Star. Christian has spent time with the Reds and Braves farm systems, including 55 games at Double-A Mississippi (Braves) last season.

High Marks: The prestigious Arizona Fall League concluded play not too long ago. Former Cougar Justin Marks (’10) was named to the Top Prospects Team after impressing with a 5-1 record and 2.59 ERA in 7 starts.

We talked a little bit about Marks in an earlier blog post. You think back to his ’10 season at Kane County, and the numbers didn’t indicate dominance by any means. Marks went 3-12 with a 4.98 ERA in what is typically viewed as a pitching-friendly Midwest League, particularly in the early months of the season. Marks’ season in 2011 was at High-A Wilmington after being dealt from Oakland to Kansas City. That season, Marks was 8-8 and his ERA dropped nearly a full run. Last summer, Marks posted a 3.80 ERA in 17 starts at Double-A Northwest Arkansas, got a brief call-up to Triple-A Omaha, and finished his ’12 season in excellent fashion this fall in the AFL. Lots of positives for Marks to build on for 2013 in the Royals system.

Nashville-bound: Some of our staff will be leaving Monday for the Baseball Winter Meetings, which will be held in Nashville next week. I’ll try to do some blogging while I’m down there. It’s a great week for a lot of reasons I’ll hopefully share next week. One of my colleagues, MiLB.com writer Ben Hill does it better than I could, so HERE is a link to his story previewing the week ahead, particularly for those of us who work in Minor League Baseball.

I’m looking forward to getting back to the Opryland hotel. As beautiful as the hotel/resort is, it’s downright confusing to navigate after being there in 2007 for the Winter Meetings. Hopefully I’ll be able to improve upon my experience last time around….

Finally, thanks to some of our fans who e-mailed me or commented on an earlier blog about our 1991 game program that I wrote.  A lot of folks had great memories of that first season in the Cougars’ infancy, and can say that they’ve been here since the very first pitch.

As always, thanks for reading!

-ST

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About Kane County Cougars

The Kane County Cougars are the Class-A Affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
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