Monday, July 6, 2009


Ryan Freel of the Friars


RHP Brandon Lyon of Darwin.

And a recent grab of Jeff Francouer has bolstered the outfield of the Finches, greatly aiding our current good outfielder Josh Hamilton who has been stretched to his limit! When questioned about the release of Francouer by Texas, the Finches' manager responded:

"It is a bit bewildering that Texas would just go and throw away a good player for some rookies. Sure, the rookies have a great chance at blooming but you should always have a backup plan. I admit I released Francour as a free agent but that was due to budget constraints and was sad to see him go. Now with a base salary of .40, he is definately welcomed back. Had Texas just made the right offer I would have traded to get him back but alas in this case he loses a player and with nothing to show in return. I do not wish to say I have hostile feelings toward Texas, but this situation could have proved more beneficial for their club in the end."

Saturday, March 28, 2009


The Darwin Finches, who posted the league's best record in 2008 only to fall in the World Series, have placed the majority ownership of their club on the open market. GM and majority owner Scott Hatfield has indicated that in this poor economy he wants to diversify his investments, and so he has made his controlling interest in the ball club available.

Early indications are that an investment group headed by former Black Mesa GM Ryne O'Connor has the inside crack on acquiring the ballclub, having given early indications that they would keep the Eastern Division champs in the Northern Territories of Australia as a condition of the sale, pending approval from the Commissioner's Office.

Unknown, at this time, is whether or not the club will attempt to keep the pricey veterans in its nucleus to make another run at a world championship, or whether the team will begin transitioning to youth while attempting to remain competitive.

As for Hatfield, rumor has it that the former Delta and Darwin GM is looking for a new challenge and has been petitioning the league to consider expansion.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


September 13th--Darwin GM Scott Hatfield confirmed what had been earlier hinted at, that the Finches had made a deal just hours before the trading deadline to bolster their pitching staff, in effect their final gamble of the 2008 season. "We are well-positioned for a playoff run already," said Hatfield. "As we speak, Darwin is only two games out of first in the East and we lead the wild card. But there are still 25-30 games left in the schedule for all of the clubs. No one has been eliminated, and certainly no lead is safe. Clubs like Worcester, Yuma, Lexington...all likely to win 80 or more games....they are all nipping at our heels. Besides, our goal is not just to get into the playoffs...Darwin's achieved that twice...we want to get to the Series, and our chances of doing that improve greatly if we win our division outright."


"So, with that said," Hatfield continued, "We have made a deal with Pottsylvania to acquire RHP Gil Meche (10-11, 2.77 ERA in 25 starts) and lefty reliever Hideki Okajima (3-5, 3.52 in 49 G). We feel that Meche, who had nine complete games with the Creepers and clearly was their best pitcher over the whole season, can upgrade our rotation. We have a lot of guys who are six-inning guys at best, and this puts a strain on our bullpen, which is not as deep as last year."


"You can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs," Hatfield added, "So we had to make a tough decision. We'll be sending Pottsylvania GM Jeff Moore a guy who has been with us since Day One....Jeff Francouer. Over the years we've resisted many opportunities to deal this guy, and we still think he's a big-league regular. But he's kind of lost his way this year, swinging at too many pitcher's pitches, and as a result his production has suffered. And, with the way Rick Ankiel, Milton Bradley and Josh Hamilton have swung the bat, he just hasn't gotten the playing time. So, since we are already deep in the outfield with Aaron Rowand, Chone Figgins, Lance Berkman and others able to play there, Jeff became expendable. But we wish him well and we wouldn't be surprised if he ended up playing right regularly for the Creepers next year, and hit .280 with 90 or so RBI. He's that type of player."

In addition to Francouer, the Finches dealt hulking reliever Jonathan Broxton (5-4, 2.59 ERA in 55 G) and recently-activated RHP Josh Johnson (who has missed much of the last year with injuries), as well as a player to be named. Broxton, who figures to fill Pottsylvania's closer job, and Johnson, a likely future starter, are both just 23, which augurs well for their having a big impact on the club next season.


Darwin GM Scott Hatfield pulled no punches in talking to the media. "This is it, people. We are, as the poker players say, 'all in'. Darwin is trying to win it all. Meche is going to be given an opportunity to go deep into ball games. Okajima gives us the situational lefty we've been missing. Barring injuries, Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer and Jonathan Sanchez are the Finches future, not their present. It's tough, but consider that by dealing Francouer we open a roster spot for Josh Hamilton, whom we had to temporarily option to the minors in order to carry 11 pitchers. Moving Josh Johnson, on the hand, allows us to return Chad Billingsley to the rotation. To get this all set up, we'll have to gamble on juggling the rotation yet again. We'll let (41-year-old knuckleballer) Tim Wakefield have another spot start, and then we're going to give the ball to Meche, and ask a lot from him, and put it on our staff to rise to the occasion. We may put Greinke in the pen, we may cut a player in order to bring up Mark Loretta or somebody else. But we're going to do whatever we can in the next few weeks to win as many games as can. We may sit David Ortiz and let Bradley DH. We may DH Chipper Jones if he needs time off, too, and let Wiggington play. Bottom line, we're in the hunt and anything's possible!"

Saturday, August 30, 2008


For the first time in several weeks, the Darwin Finches are not in first place in the Eastern Division. A hot streak by Frostbite Falls against Central Division clubs (winning eight straight) and some failures by Darwin's bullpen has allowed the Finches division rivals to first catch, and then surpass them.

As a result, Darwin GM Scott Hatfield is concerned, and for the first time in months, may be actively pursuing help on the trade market.

"Basically, our concern is still the effect that our starters are having on our bullpen," Hatfield admitted. "We have trouble getting our veteran starters to go deep in the ballgame, and we've tried to get our youngsters to go long, it just doesn't seem to be happening. Zack (Grienke) is in his first year as a full-time starter, and he's tired. Kazmir, we all know, had an injury this spring and we don't want to push him too hard, or we may lose him again. Chad's pitched pretty good for us of late, and it seems like that since he didn't start early in the season, that he's fresher now. But he still goes deep in the count to most hitters, and is around 100 pitches usually in the fifth. So, while I wouldn't say any of my guys are pitching badly, those four guys are basically five-inning pitchers at this point in the season, and the relievers are getting worn out."

An agitated Hatfield began ticking off his options. "A couple of times earlier this season, we had Tim Wakefield make a spot start, and just leave him and his knuckleball in there most of the night. He's always been very durable, versatile, a good team player. But he's in his forties now, and even knuckleballers can be overworked. He's showing signs of it. So I don't think much of that option."

"Or," Hatfield continued, "we could try putting some youngters in the rotation. Kershaw won a game in relief for us last week, and he has certainly earned an opportunity to start. Sanchez has shown some flashes But, like Kazmir, like Chad, these guys are young and they will go pretty deep in the count. So I'm not sure what that would get us."

"Another possibility," Hatfield sighed, "would be to increase the overall size of the pitching staff. Call up Max Scherzer, who is probably ready to contribute. Give Cla Meredith another shot at sticking on the roster. Just inflate the pitching staff, so there are lots of arms and I don't overwork the pen! But, to do that, I'd have to move some regular players down, and barring a trade, one of them would certainly be Josh Hamilton, and I don't have to tell you the excitement he's brought to our ball club since joining it. Hamilton's got options. Jeff Francouer, Rick Ankiel, they don't. So I would definitely have to weaken the lineup and the bench a bit in order to add some pitching depth."

"Finally," Hatfield concluded, "There is the trade market. I've been very reluctant to go there, because whether or not you improve that way is a bit of a crap shoot, especially when you're dealing with pitchers. Clearly, I would love to have a right-hander in their prime who could give us a complete game now and then, and maybe help us match up better with Frostbite Falls as the season goes on. But who's out there? Gil Meche? Brett Myers? Jon Garland? I'm not sure that the arms that I might be able to get would be enough of an upgrade to justify sitting one of my present starters."

"So," concluded the Darwin GM, "I continue to weigh my options. The trading deadline is September 14th, so if we're going to do anything, it will have to be soon."

Friday, July 4, 2008


Darwin----The defending Eastern Division champions are in first place again, their pitching staff lead all of BARB in ERA (XXX), but is it all a house of cards?

GM Scott Hatfield thinks so, at least if you read the transcript of this press conference:

HATFIELD: Th---um----Is this thing on? Right. OK, any questions? Yes, you there.

PRESS: Bob Nightengale, Kansas City Star. Mr. Hatfield--how does one put this? Why are we here?

You got the press release, right?

Yes. But it doesn't seem to make any sense. We've watched the Finches pitch and play pretty good defense for more than a third of a season, you're in first place, and your announcement says, and I quote, 'Our club is on the verge of a total collapse.'

Yes, that's what it says.

Well, sir, can you explain how you come to that conclusion?

Sure, Bob. I came to it by the same means that I assembled the best club in BARB, with my superior knowledge of baseball. Next question.

Candy Sofax, Modern Maturity. If I could follow up on my colleague Mr. Nightengale---I don't meant to speak for him, but I think he was hoping to hear an explanation of your particular chain of reasoning.

Oh, right. Well, it's like this. We put together a veteran club to start the year, as you know, and our old guys are having troubles staying healthy. Randy missed a month to start the year, but then we lost Smoltzie and Glavine at the same time and, really, if you look at the numbers, none of these guys are averaging six innings a start. That puts a real strain on our bullpen. As you know, a Finches trademark the last two years is a deep, flexible, pen. But, with J.J. Putz and Jeremy Accardo both out, and us with no situational lefty---none proven, anyway----well, I think we've let that souffle bake as long as we dare. Even if Tom and John got healthy, really, we're still going to be calling on our bullpen sometime in the fifth most games. And that's just too heavy a workload, in my opinion. We've already seen our team ERA rise nearly half a run in the last two weeks. Like that souffle, it's time to get that thing out of the open, so it doesn't fall. Yes, you there.

Dan Taylor, Channel 26, Action News. That's---

Never heard of you.

We have the Valley's leading sportscast, at 6 and 10.

Maybe you mean Death Valley, Dan.

No, that's the San Joaquin Valley. And we'll right back with a real question right after we plug high school football.

It's the middle of the summer, Dan.

Well, we have highlights of annnnother San Joaquin Memorial scrimmage, right in the next segment. Don't you looove it when I smile while cocking my head to the left, and then the right?

And here's another thing. Why do you do updates and teasers from the newsroom with your shirt off, then put on a suit that looks like it was from an 80's wedding and needs a mullet to carry off when you do the actual broadcast? You haven't actually done any location broadcasts since Appleton had a heart attack.

Well, I'm too busy reading scores from arrrrrround the majors. Dodgers won, Giants lost, Athletics breeze, Angels edge! And here's some stock footage of a walkoff home run by some Yankee from yesterday afternoon. And back to you!

Mmmmm. I just love how you manage to pack so little into 90 seconds. Is there a question from a real journalist?

Eric Maddy, Huntington Beach Coupon Clipper here.

Yes, go ahead, Eric.

What exactly are the Finches going to do about their rotation?

Finally a question I know the answer to! Well, it's simple. The veterans are banged-up and not going deep enough. So it's time to shake things up. We're going to let Wakefield take a spot start to push the rotation back, and I don't mind telling you that we intend to let him throw as many pitches as it takes: 130, 140, whatever. He doesn't throw hard enough to hurt himself. The main thing, we're going to skip Randy's next start and throw him to the back of the rotation. Chad Billingsley and Jonathan Sanchez are going to go in there ahead of him and after Kazmir, Grienke and Perez. Then we'll see about where Randy fits in. We're going to stretch our young pitchers out and ask them to go deeper into games and take the pressure off the pen. I know our team ERA is probably going to continue to climb, but we'll be able to keep our relief corps from getting overworked.

Hal Bodley, AP. What happens when Tom Glavine gets off the DL?

Well. Tom is a veteran and knows the score. We don't think he would be effective in the pen, so we plan on using him as a starter if that's what is best for the team. But if we have five or six guys we like better...that could be a problem. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Thank you for attending, and may the baseball gods smile on the Darwin Finches...!

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Finches currently on or just off the major-league disabled list, as we speak:

C Ryan Doumit
1B David Ortiz
IF Chone Figgins

RHP John Smoltz (out for year)
RHP Mark Prior (out for year)
RHP Josh Johnson (out for year)
RHP Jeremy Accardo
RHP J.J. Putz
LHP Tom Glavine

Monday, June 2, 2008


In his last 19 major-league starts, Zack Greinke has gone 7-4 with a 2.56 ERA. Not bad, but as long as he's with the Royals that projects to probably just 12-13 wins a year, tops.

The question for Darwin: should Greinke start, or be dropped into long relief, a role in which he excelled for much of last season, in order to get aging veterans Tom Glavine and Tim Wakefield starting opportunities?

And, if John Smoltz returns from the DL again, what role should he have with the club?

Right now, the only sure things in the rotation of the Unnatural Selections are Oliver Perez and Scott Kazmir.