Friday, March 29, 2013

March 29- Portland Beavers

The 2013 baseball season is only a few days away, and for some reason it doesn’t feel like it where I am.  Few weeks ago I wrote a post on my history with Portland baseball, and I can assure you that very little has changed to sway my opinion on the matter. Yes, there will be a new team moving in about three miles away from where I’m currently living, but it’s a short season-A club that relocated from Yakima, Washington. This isn’t a knock on the Hillsboro Hops; I’m honestly looking forward to watching them play. It’s just a mere observation in a city that houses two top-tier sports franchises (Trailblazers and Timbers) and yet the best it can do is attract, and hopefully maintain, a short season-A club when the Seattle Mariners reside 185 north of where I’m currently sitting and writing this piece. I think one of the more remarkable, and real eye-opening things about this move and the demise of the Portland Beavers all revolves around how I acquired this cap.

Despite the fact that the Beavers relocated at the end of the 2010 season, you can still find a few of their items all over Portland. What’s most insulting is that most of the shops are still charging full price for merchandise of a team that no longer exists. The Beavers hat that I wrote about on March 6 was one I had purchased from PGE Park (now Jeld Wen Field) in the concourse area during a game against the Sacramento River Cats. I think I paid about $30 for it. The one that I am writing about was one of two that I didn’t all ready own which happened to be sitting on the top row (not even mixed in with the other MLB or MiLB caps) collecting dust at the Lids in the Clackamas Town Center Mall in September. As soon as I saw them I said I wanted them as long as they had my size. Sure enough they did, and sure enough I was a bit shocked when they still rang up as $35 each. Granted, I do have a Lids Club card, but it was still a weird concept to have to pay full price initially for the hat of a Minor League team that no longer exists. Oh well. I’ll always be a little sad and upset over what happened.

This particular hat was introduced in 2008 when the Beavers changed their colors and logo from the traditional black/red/white that had been popular throughout the century. I remember thinking it was a bit weird, but I did like the new color scheme. I’ll be honest; I’m not that big of a fan of red. This featured logo served primarily on the front of the batting practice caps and batting helmets; however, those caps were all black. This cap was merely a random second style the team came up with the feature the logo on a different colored cap. The concept for a team to do that is quite genius actually. I’ve never been too much of a fan of mesh caps; however, there have been a lot of logos that only appear on the batting practice caps that I really enjoy; the 1999 Arizona Diamondbacks batting practice cap is the first that comes to mind.

Because this is the batting practice logo I figured it would be best to find numbers from a few guys who were big names with the Beavers, but most important, got the job done with their hitting.

#21- A lifetime pinch hitter and Minor League journeyman, Wily Mo Pena was originally signed as a free agent by the New York Mets back in 1998. Over the next 14 years Pena made a few half-of-a-season appearances at the Major League level whenever an extra power hitter was needed, but the other, longer half was spent in AAA. No matter who your team is, there’s a pretty good chance he was on the payroll at some point. In 2010, Pena never saw a second of action in the Majors as he was signed to an Atlantic League team called the Bridgeport Bluefish along with “One At-Bat” subject and current Baltimore Oriole Adam Greenberg. About midway through the season Pena got inked to a Minor League deal with the San Diego Padres which sent him to Portland for 40 games. During his time there he hit .324 with nine home runs and 24 RBI. From the few games that I saw I could never figure out why he never stayed up in the Big Leagues. The man can certainly hit. For the last season Pena played 130 games in Japan with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks along with former Oakland Athletics prospect Brandon Allen and former/current MLB pitchers Brad Penny and Brian Falkenborg.

#29- I went to a lot of Beavers games in 2005 as they had a lot of talent on the squad back then. One player in particular received the most attention simply because of his last name. I imagine that he knew it and had been hearing it all his life, which I can, once again, only imagine how frustrating that might be. Nonetheless, Josh Barfield did a fine job of earning his way to the Major that season hitting .310 with 15 home runs and 72 RBI. He was called up before the season was over, rightfully so, and stayed with the Padres through the entire 2006 season, but was traded to the Cleveland Indians in the offseason for Kevin Kouzmanoff and Andrew Brown.

Barfield played 130 games for the Indians in 2007, but didn’t quite have the bat flair he showed in San Diego as he finished the season hitting .240 with three home runs and 50 RBI. Barfield was demoted to the Buffalo Bisons, the Indians AAA affiliate, and replaced by prospect Asdrubal Cabrera in 2008. When Cabrera went on a skid Barfield was called up to replace him, but Barfield sprained his finger within days of getting back in the Bigs and ended up on the DL. 2009 was primarily spent in Columbus with the Clippers, the new AAA affiliate of the Indians.

In 2010 the Padres signed Barfield to a Minor League contract in which he played 78 games in the Rose City. If I remember correctly I caught him in four or five games that season. From what I could tell, very little had changed in his swing and side-to-side motions on the field. Granted, it had only been five years since I last saw him and he is only two months older than me. That year he hit .294 with five home runs and 36 RBI, but he never got called up on account of David Eckstein being the everyday guy. Barfield bounced around through the Philadelphia Phillies and Orioles organizations over the last two years, but has yet to see any MLB action since 2009. It’s a damn shame.

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