12:58 PM - Tonight is the Spirit Preview Show on 1510 the Zone at 7 PM. Thinking about it and blogging about it gives me a convenient excuse to get away from studying for finals for a little bit. On this post I'll run 'live updates' as I listen to the show, and I want to get your reaction to what you hear tonight in the comments. Also, if I happen to miss anything because I'm studying, fill me in. :) -JG
7:31 PM - I just got a chance to tune in. Brent Connolly and Nick Lopardo are talking about how important Jeff Ware was to the pitching staff last season. Nothing but praise [and rightfully so]. Now they're talking about Pete Filson: "He has 8 or 9 years of experience with the Big Leagues... he brings great experience and great wisdom" -Nick Lopardo
7:35 PM - Hahahahaha, Nick Lopardo said "I just met Pete Filson for the first time today" - then two minutes later, he said that during the interview process, he liked Filson's "attitude and enthusiasm." I suppose it could come through over the phone, but still....very funny
7:40 PM - Here we go - the position by position breakdown:
Catcher - "It's going to be tough to replace Alex [Trezza]" - Nick
"It's wide open this year" between Gutierrez and Mike Torres to become the starting catcher. "Torres was a Spirit killer on Brockton" - Nick
Torres "wants to be the starting catcher," he bulked up to 195 pounds
7:49 PM - And we're back...
1st Base - "A lot of buzz about" Brad Rea in training camp
"It's an open spot and someone will win it for us out of camp.... we'll have to see what happens" - Nick
Due to the number of veterans on the roster, Jeff Brooks will be left out.
2nd Base - It's "[Ricardo Cordova's] job to lose"...no surprise
According to Nick, the four Veterans have been in town for four weeks working out together and getting ready for the upcoming season
3rd Base - Another "open position," says Nick; Gilbert Gil was mentioned first. Additionally, Mike Torres "may wind up being our third baseman" if Gutierrez becomes the Catcher. "It might be another revolving door."
Lots of nice talk about our old pal Andy Howdeshell.
Shortstop - Jerson Perez will step in to play short.
"We are very good [up the middle]... it's a matter of filling the corners" -Nick
Outfield - "Looks like the strongest part of the Spirit lineup" -Leahy
Rob Fischer is back: "He understands what it's all about to play North Shore Spirit baseball" -Nick
BJ Weed will be a part of the outfield: "BJ has bulked up" in the weight room this offseason.
Carlos Rodriguez: "A proven veteran... played for Bridgeport and Reno last year, hitting .288" and "A guy that killed us in 2003 for Quebec"..... Tom Donahue thinks that Rodriguez is "one of the finest" minor league players he's ever seen.... "I think he can have a big year for us" - Nick
Darren Blakely: Hit 25 home runs in 2004 for Winston-Salem; "a legitimate professional baseball player... one of the few guys with [AAA experience]] on our team" - Nick
"Not only do we have a very capable defensive outfield, we have some thunder in those bats... they will go a long way toward filling the home run void caused by Trezza and Davilla"
Chad Gabriel: "Could be the sleeper of the bunch... he's got a lot of pop in his bat"'
Designated Hitter - "It's an opportunity for any one of five guys to play that role... and a chance to platoon guys a little bit but still get him in the ballgame"
My take: the offense seems a bit unstable, but there are a lot of talented players on it. I'm fairly optimistic. Pitching talk when they come back
8:11 PM: We are back. Pitching talk, baby!
"The starting rotation looks to be very strong and very deep":
1. Bryan Morse - enough said
2. Chris Farley - "He had injury problems, but... [from time to time] he was unhittable"
3. Joey Siak - back again
4. Shawn McNamara - another returnee
5. Matt Bishop
The starting rotation is the same as it was last year, and that's certainly not a bad thing. 5 deep.
-Jamie Baker:"We've added a great veteran in Jamie Baker"..."He will be the star of the bullpen" - Nick
-Dennis Robinson returns for another year
-For the rest of the 'situational guys,' it will be a competition "8 solid pitchers coming back... so out of this group you just mentioned there are 2 or 3 spots available"
-Fitz is back to be the closer
8:29 PM - "The parking situation will be much, much better next year" - central parking will be back beyond the centerfield fence
8:30 PM - Pregame buffets: As you come in on the lower concourse down by the offices, there will be some entertainment/music and a pre-game buffet for about $10.
8:34 PM - A new ticket manager has been hired for this season; she was the ticket manager for Lancaster who had the highest attendance in the Atlantic League last year.
8:36 PM - On approx. August 3rd, there will be a Doug Flutie Bobblehead Night and Flutie will be in attendance. There will be another Buffett night, and potentially 'another special event, involving soccer'
8:41 PM - New concessions: soft serve ice cream, McKinnon's steak sandwiches, and a Budweiser beer named after the Spirit