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30 in 30: A Chiefs Countdown to Opening Day – Day 19

We’re counting down until Opening Day with a new post on our Inside the Chiefs blog every day until Syracuse’s opener on April 3rd. Here’s what’s on tap today…

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We’ve mentioned before in this space that the Chiefs are committed to fun and off-the-beaten-path promotions this year. Well, here’s one that’s seen quite a bit of ink recently.* On July 1st, we’re giving away free general-admission tickets for life to fans who get a visible tattoo of the Chiefs logo, on Carmelo’s Ink City Tattoo Night.

Let’s roll that back one more time for emphasis.

Free general admission tickets. For LIFE.

*I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist the awful pun.

It’s Tattoo Appreciation Night, which means you can also get the tattoo for free. Just make sure it’s somewhere you wouldn’t mind revealing – you will have to actually show the tattoo when cashing in for tickets.

This promotion’s been making some waves over the last 48 hours – in fact, even ESPN’s Keith Olbermann has chimed in:

Don’t be fooled by the title of the video – Olbermann’s reaction is largely positive, calling Tattoo Night a great promotion.  KO even went to a couple of Chiefs games back in the day! Who knew?

Let the record here show, Mr. Olbermann – if you’re up for it, we’ll have you come step into the broadcast booth for a game this year – either on Tattoo Night, or on any other night you want. And you’ll be our “World’s Best Person in Syracuse”.

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Have something you want to see or talk about on the blog? Hit us up on Twitter @ChiefsRadio – or shoot me a message at kbrown@syracusechiefs.com.

Kevin Brown

30 in 30: A Chiefs Countdown to Opening Day – Day 18

We’re counting down until Opening Day with a new post on our Inside the Chiefs blog every day until Syracuse’s opener on April 3rd. Here’s what’s on tap today…

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I promised to post some responses from Wednesday’s March Madness-themed post yesterday, but then the Nationals made a viable feast of moves and sent a bunch of players to Syracuse. So back to the original plan: your most popular thoughts on who our committee of one left out as a potential #1 seed in a hypothetical Chiefs-themed bracket of players and coaches…

*Yes, I realize this is a wordy and somewhat crazy gimmick, but hey, it’s March Madness.

Stu Pederson

Stu Pederson

Duh. This might be the most obvious one I missed. If only I’d walked across the hallway of my office into the ticket office…I’d have seen a small stack of “STUUUUUUUUU” megaphones. Pederson played 473 games over five years for the Chiefs, who even had a “Stu Pederson Night” in his honor. He was inducted into the Syracuse Baseball Wall of Fame in 2012.

Willie Horton

Horton

According to his Syracuse Baseball Wall of Fame plaque, Horton was a part of the “most potent outfield in Syracuse Chiefs history” in 1964. He hit 28 home runs and knocked in 99 RBIs that season, four years before he hit .304 in the World Series with a championship Detroit team. Horton spent 18 seasons in the major leagues after his time in Syracuse.

Shawn Green

Shawn Green Chiefs

In 1994, Green’s debut year in Syracuse was a memorable one. He was named to the International League All-Star Team before being selected as the league’s Rookie of the Year. Green hit .344 to win the league’s batting title and led the Chiefs to the finals of the Governor’s Cup playoffs. You may have heard of him after that – he played 15 major-league seasons, made a pair of All-Star teams and hit four home runs in one game in 2002 with the Dodgers.

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Feel free to send more suggestions to our Facebook page or Twitter account (@SyracuseChiefs) and we’ll post the best ones.

Have something you want to see or talk about on the blog? Hit us up on Twitter @ChiefsRadio – or shoot me a message at kbrown@syracusechiefs.com.

Kevin Brown

30 in 30: A Chiefs Countdown to Opening Day – Day 17

We’re counting down until Opening Day with a new post on our Inside the Chiefs blog every day until Syracuse’s opener on April 3rd. Here’s what’s on tap today…

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Happy Moving Day. The Nationals cut seven players today – likely all headed to Syracuse – in their biggest spring-training day to date. Zach Walters, Christian Garcia, Ross Ohlendorf and Jhonatan Solano were officially optioned to Syracuse, while Will Rhymes, Manny Delcarmen and Brock Peterson were reassigned to minor-league camp.** Let’s examine the moves:

**For terminology’s sake, an explanation: players on the 40-man roster are “optioned”, while non-roster invitees (players not on the 40-man) are “reassigned”. But there’s no reason I can see why the latter three players wouldn’t be headed to Syracuse.

IF Zach Walters – Walters tied for the International League lead with 29 home runs last season and made his major-league debut at the end of the year. There are only two main questions with Walters – where will he hit? (Last year, almost entirely sixth or seventh.) And what position will he play? (Last year, mainly shortstop, but with a big chunk of third base in the second half of the year.)

RP Christian Garcia – Garcia’s talented enough to be in a major-league bullpen. But with the Nationals, it’s just a numbers game – too many good pitchers for one group, meaning he’ll return to Syracuse. A quick reminder of what he can do here from his 2012 numbers: 27 games, 0.56 ERA, 32.1 innings, 18 hits, 11 hits, 38 strikeouts, 14 saves in 14 tries. Not bad.

SP Ross Ohlendorf – Ohlendorf put up a 4.22 ERA in 14 games (13 starts) with the Chiefs last year, though his other numbers suggested a better season than that – 74.2 IP, 65 H, 30 BB, 71 K. He then sported a 3.28 ERA in 16 games (7 starts) with Washington. He’ll likely be in the rotation – good news for the Chiefs.

Ross Ohlendorf

C Jhonatan Solano – Ever since the Nationals traded for Jose Lobaton on February 13th, we’ve assumed Solano would be with the Chiefs come Opening Day, and there’s no reason to doubt that now. Catcher Chris Snyder remains in major-league camp, however, with the Wilson Ramos/Lobaton combo.

IF Will Rhymes – Rhymes spent every day of the 2013 season on the Chiefs, playing in 133 games – one shy of Walters’ team high. He posted a .360 OBP thanks to an outrageous 65/29 BB/K ratio. Expect him to be a key contributor again at either second base or third base, depending on where Jeff Kobernus (if he’s optioned) and Walters play.

Will Rhymes

RP Manny DelcarmenHealthy for the first time in a few years, the former World Series winner (2007 Red Sox) could provide a major boost to the Chiefs’ bullpen. Delcarmen’s worked his fastball back up to the mid-90s in velocity and has improved his Triple-A ERA each of the last few years. His contract, however, does have an out clause for June 1st.

IF Brock Peterson – Peterson bashed 25 home runs in 122 games for Triple-A Memphis last year, a season in which he made his major-league debut (26 at-bats with St. Louis). He’s knocked out 139 minor-league home runs in 10 seasons. Expect him to play some 1B and OF for the Chiefs this year.

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Have something you want to see or talk about on the blog? Hit us up on Twitter @ChiefsRadio – or shoot me a message at kbrown@syracusechiefs.com.

Kevin Brown

30 in 30: A Chiefs Countdown to Opening Day – Day 16

We’re counting down until Opening Day with a new post on our Inside the Chiefs blog every day until Syracuse’s opener on April 3rd. Here’s what’s on tap today…

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If you haven’t been thinking about baseball in the last few days – well, I suppose I couldn’t blame you. March Madness has engulfed the sports-loving nation with the NCAA Tournament starting tomorrow, and I, for one, am fully in on the madness.*

*Yes, I know the Tournament technically started yesterday with the play-in games. But the Tournament starts tomorrow. End of discussion.

So naturally, visions of brackets and regions and seeding are spinning through my head, and I figure it’s only appropriate to give them a Chiefs spin. The question of the day: who would be the #1 seeds in a March-Madness style bracket of Chiefs players and managers? Some potential picks…

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Hank Sauer

Sauer

The case for: Hit 50 home runs and drove in 141 runs in 1947. Ranks third all-time in Syracuse home runs and RBIs. Hit three home runs in one game on June 24, 1947. Has a room named after him. Has jersey number retired.

The case against: …nope, this one’s pretty airtight.

Dutch Mele

Mele

The case for: All-time Syracuse leader in…take a deep breath now…games, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, home runs and RBIs. Played nine seasons with the Chiefs. International League Hall of Famer. Anything else?

The case against: Only played six games in the major leagues in his career. Went by the name “Dutch”.

Chad Mottola

Mottola

The case for: See what I said about Sauer? Mottola’s one spot ahead of him in both home runs and RBIs. He’s also second all-time in doubles. Mottola won the 2000 I.L. M.V.P. – the last Chiefs player to do so – before returning to Syracuse from 2005 through 2007.

The case against: Similar to Mele – played in just 59 major-league games. (I say “just” as if just making it to the major leagues isn’t a mind-blowing, outrageous, amazing accomplishment, but we’re nit-picking at one seeds here.) “Only” one season of five with Syracuse of an OPS over .791.

Bobby Cox

Cox Chiefs

The case for: Managed the Chiefs for four consecutive winning seasons from 1973 to 1976 – the last time Syracuse has picked up four winning seasons in a row. Managed the Chiefs to three consecutive Governor’s Cup finals, including the team’s last championship in 1976. Also played one year for the Chiefs in 1970…

The case against: …where he hit just .219. Also, baseball games are ultimately decided by the players on the field, not the managers, right?

Stephen Strasburg

Strasburg

The case for: In six games started in 2010: 4-1, 1.08 ERA, 33.1 IP, 18 H, 7 BB, 38 K. Began his only Syracuse rehab start in 2011 with five perfect innings. The highest, second-highest and fourth-highest-attended games in the entire history of Syracuse baseball were Strasburg starts. That’s absurd.

The case against: Played in a grand total of seven games for the Chiefs. That’s only seven more than I have.

Carlos Delgado

Delgado

The case for: In 181 games with Syracuse, Delgado hit .323 and smashed 43 home runs while walking 89 times. He’s a Syracuse Baseball Wall of Famer who also turned into a borderline Hall of Famer with the Chiefs’ then-big club, Toronto, mashing 473 home runs in an amazing major-league career.

The case against: 181 games is a much smaller sample size than most of the other Syracuse Wall of Famers. Did the vast majority of his work outside of Syracuse.

Steve Grilli

That's Steve on the right, in beautiful days, with former Chiefs and current Cincinnati Bengals broadcaster Dan Hoard on the left.

That’s Steve on the right, in beautiful days, with former Chiefs and current Cincinnati Bengals broadcaster Dan Hoard on the left.

The case for: He’s a former Chiefs player, long-time and still current broadcaster and Syracuse native whose bar (Change of Pace) makes the single greatest wings in the history of the world. And he’s a hell of a dad.

The case against: You think I’m gonna make a case against my occasional broadcast partner and all-around great guy? No, sir.

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I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of Chiefs history, of course, with many deserving names left out of this post. But that’s where you come in. Who would you promote as a Chiefs #1 seed? Leave your responses in the comments, on Facebook or Twitter, and I’ll post some tomorrow if we get some good feedback.

(And my choices, for the record? Sauer, Mele, Cox and just for that extraordinary run, Strasburg. Call me crazy.)

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Have something you want to see or talk about on the blog? Hit us up on Twitter @ChiefsRadio – or shoot me a message at kbrown@syracusechiefs.com.

Kevin Brown

30 in 30: A Chiefs Countdown to Opening Day – Day 15

We’re counting down until Opening Day with a new post on our Inside the Chiefs blog every day until Syracuse’s opener on April 3rd. Here’s what’s on tap today…

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I’ve been in quite a musical mood today, thanks to a couple of disparate albums I’ve run through – Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Soundgarden’s Superunknown. (I just bought tickets to see the latter – as for the former, well, no one ever needs an excuse to listen to Elton John.) So today’s blog post pertains to music in baseball – specifically, players’ intro music.

That’s one of my favorite things about baseball – a chance for every player to personalize himself a bit picking the exact piece of music (and exact segment of that piece of music) that marks his arrival to the game. How great is that? No other sport allows this to happen, but the individual nature of baseball means every batter or pitcher gets an opportunity to express himself in some way through music.

Everyone knows about Mariano Rivera jogging in to “Enter Sandman” – but here are a few of my underappreciated favorites…

Jayson Werth

I don’t know if there’s a major leaguer with more eclectic taste in walk-up music than Werth, the Nationals’ right fielder. Last year, his first at-bat would be introed by the theme song from The Walking Dead. Following his second at-bat song – Dave Matthews Band’s “Warehouse”, which I could do without – Werth kicks it old-school for his third trip to the plate…

Love it. (I now get extra-excited when I hear this Zevon classic in lieu of Kid Rock’s “All Summer Long”, which steals from not only this song, but “Sweet Home Alabama”, and mildly desecrates both.) But the real kicker comes in Werth’s fourth trip to the plate…

The Game of Thrones theme! Is there anything more epic than that? If I was a pitcher at this point in the game, I’d just intentionally walk Werth for fear of unleashing the Mother of Dragons. For the use of not only one TV theme song but two, Werth deserves some kind of special award. Maybe a life-sized trophy of his beard.

Ryan Mattheus

Mattheus, recovering from chest discomfort, just returned to the mound on Monday – meaning he’s unfortunately a bit behind schedule, meaning the Chiefs may see him this season, meaning fans may hear this at NBT Bank Stadium…

As MASN’s Dan Kolko points out, the use of “Firework” started as a joke in Harrisburg in 2011. But once Mattheus started dominating hitters left and right, as he did in nine scoreless outings with Syracuse, the tune stuck. It’s nowhere close to your run-of-the-mill intro song – and that’s why I love it. Boom, boom, boom.

Jeff Mandel

OK, there’s nothing fancy or notable behind this pick from Mandel, a Chief from 2010 to 2013. But “Gold on the Ceiling” is quite possibly one of my 10 favorite songs from the past five years. I can’t not include it. Play this as loud as humanly possible.

Best intro music in my three years covering the Chiefs = you get your picture in the blog. Congratulations, Jeff!

Best intro music in my three years covering the Chiefs = you get your picture in the blog. Congratulations, Jeff!

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Have something you want to see or talk about on the blog? Hit us up on Twitter @ChiefsRadio – or shoot me a message at kbrown@syracusechiefs.com.

Kevin Brown

30 in 30: A Chiefs Countdown to Opening Day – Day 14

We’re counting down until Opening Day with a new post on our Inside the Chiefs blog every day until Syracuse’s opener on April 3rd. Here’s what’s on tap today…

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More Nationals’ moves! That’s what’s on tap today, as Washington cut its major-league camp to 44 players. Here’s a look at the moves and how they’ll impact Syracuse…

OF Eury Perez – Well, Perez was officially optioned to Syracuse, so there’s your easy answer there. And it’s no surprise – Perez had a fine season for the Chiefs last year, hitting .300 with a career-high seven homers and 30 extra-base hits, to go along with 23 steals (in 31 attempts). There’s no room in the Nationals’ outfield right now for Perez, who’s only 23 years old, though it seems like he’s been around for a while. Expect him to be a Chiefs mainstay in 2014.

Eury Perez (by Glenn Gaston)

OF Steven Souza, Jr. – A Washington Post piece from Adam Kilgore yesterday speculated that Souza could be a stealth candidate to make the Nationals’ roster at some point this year. Well, it won’t be to start the season – he, like Perez, was officially optioned to Syracuse. Souza, who was added to the Nationals’ 40-man roster in the offseason, will be playing in his first game above Double-A when he debuts with Syracuse. The promotion’s a well-deserved one – Souza sported a whopping .300/.396/.557 slash line in 77 games with Harrisburg last season. (That’s a .957 OPS, a number higher than any major-league player had last year – just for a comparison of how well Souza hit in his particular league.)

LHP Sammy Solis – Solis was optioned to Harrisburg, where the left-hander will start the season – but a move to Syracuse shouldn’t be too far off. At 25 years old, Solis was named as a possibility to make the Nationals’ bullpen, thanks in part to a strong spring. He’ll likely be on an accelerated track toward the majors should he start well for the Senators.

INF Mike Fontenot – Fontenot spent the entirety of 2013 in the International League. It wouldn’t be surprising to see that again with Syracuse this season. The veteran of seven major-league seasons played in 120 games with Durham last year, hitting .264 with 32 doubles. Fontenot can play just about any position in a pinch. He could be a tremendous asset to the Chiefs in that respect.

C Koyie Hill – Hill, a Chief for 31 games in 2012, is back with the Nationals’ organization after a season split between Triple-A New Orleans (60 games) and Miami (18 games). His defensive skills and staff-handling are valued by the Nationals – but as we previously noted with a few other catchers, it’s all about a numbers game in Washington’s system. If Chris Snyder stays with the team (he opted out last year), Hill might be squeezed out of a spot with the Chiefs. If not, he could very well be Jhonatan Solano’s backup in Syracuse.

Koyie Hill

OF Brian Goodwin – A first-round pick in 2011, Goodwin stands as one of the crown jewels of the Nationals’ system. At just 23 years old, he may be Washington’s highest-regarded position player, and the Nats’ center fielder of the future. With Harrisburg last year, Goodwin posted a .252/.355/.407 slash line, walking 66 times and putting up double-digit numbers in doubles (19), triples (11) and home runs (10). Is he ready for Syracuse? Could the Chiefs have a ludicrous-speed outfield of Goodwin, Perez and Souza? I’m not sure there’s room, but I think Goodwin will be in Syracuse sooner rather than later. Call it a hunch.

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Have something you want to see or talk about on the blog? Hit us up on Twitter @ChiefsRadio – or shoot me a message at kbrown@syracusechiefs.com.

Kevin Brown

30 in 30: A Chiefs Countdown to Opening Day – Day 11

We’re counting down until Opening Day with a new post on our Inside the Chiefs blog every day until Syracuse’s opener on April 3rd. Here’s what’s on tap today…

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For Day 11 of our countdown – here’s 11 reasons to get excited for the 2014 Chiefs. Simple enough, right? Here you go:

  1. The Chiefs will be participating with a float in tomorrow’s Syracuse St. Patrick’s Parade, starting at noon – the second time the Chiefs have ever participated in the event. Chiefs employees and team mascots Scooch and Pops will be on hand to distribute 2014 pocket schedules, Chiefs St. Patrick’s Day-themed can koozies, beads and candy.
  2. Opening Day is right around the corner on Thursday, April 3rd, when the Chiefs face the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders at 2:00pm. Opening Day, presented by Syracuse.com & the Syracuse-Post Standard, is a $1.00 Thursday presented by 95X. Fans can purchase $1 Hofmann Hot Dogs, $1 Coca-Cola products, $1 beer (Saranac, Budweiser & Labatt brands), $1 programs and $3 general admission tickets on Opening Day and all Thursdays throughout the year, as every Thursday in 2014 is a $1.00 Thursday. The first 5,000 fans through the gates on Opening Day will also receive a 2014 Chiefs magnet schedule courtesy of Ra-Lin. In addition, Opening Day is a guaranteed win night. If the Chiefs don’t win, fans can redeem their ticket stub for any game in April or May.
  3. World-famous mascot Reggy the Purple Party Dude will bring his popular brand of wacky entertainment to NBT Bank Stadium for the Chiefs’ opening four-game series against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Reggy is a rare talking mascot who has served as the official spokescharacter of the Mascot Hall of Fame.
  4. Friday night’s game on April 4th has been moved to 5:00pm, because every Friday home game this year is a Fireworks Friday presented by Coca-Cola. April 4th will be the first of 11 Fireworks Fridays in Syracuse this year.
  5. On Saturday, April 5th, the Chiefs plan to combat the cold weather with a Fleece Blanket Giveaway presented by Coca-Cola. The first 500 fans through the gates at NBT Bank Stadium will receive a Coca-Cola Fleece Blanket as part of our first Giveaway Saturday of the year. The Chiefs will give away a great promotion for every Saturday home game this season, with future promotions such as Scooch and Pops dolls, Saranac pint glasses, Coca-Cola rally towels and more to be announced.
  6. The finale of Syracuse’s opening homestand is a Family Sunday on April 6th. Kids 12 and under are free for all Sunday home games this year and get to run the bases after the game. Sunday will also be the final day of Reggy the Purple Party Dude’s stay in Syracuse.
  7. Every night’s a theme night this season at NBT Bank Stadium. On Social Media Mondays, fans have the chance to win great ticket and merchandise promotions and prizes through their Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare accounts. Two-for-Tuesdays allow fans to buy one regular-price ticket and get a second free. And on Winning Wednesdays, fans have the chance to win great prizes throughout the night for each of Syracuse’s six Wednesday-night home games. Scheduled prizes include a kayak, courtesy of Herb Phillipsons, and even a free funeral package on Celebration of Life Night.
  8. You never know what you’ll see at NBT Bank Stadium with some of the Chiefs’ more off-the-wall promotions in 2014. Syracuse’s schedule includes Deport Justin Bieber Night (Friday, April 4th), Star Wars Day (Sunday, May 4th), Carmelo’s Ink City Tattoo Night (Tuesday, July 1st) and Salute to Facial Hair Night (Tuesday, August 5th) as just some of the Chiefs’ creative ventures.
  9. 2014 marks the 100th year of Syracuse Chiefs baseball. Syracuse players and coaches will wear a 100th anniversary patch on this year’s uniforms throughout the season. The Chiefs will also celebrate their storied history on a 100th Anniversary Night to be announced.
  10. The Chiefs return to the radio airwaves this year with all 144 games to be broadcast on The Score 1260 AM. Fans can also listen to every game live through a link to The Score on the team’s website at syracusechiefs.com.
  11. Yours truly, Kevin Brown, and Jason Benetti will be returning for the this year’s radio broadcasts. Prepare yourselves.

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Have something you want to see or talk about on the blog? Hit us up on Twitter @ChiefsRadio – or shoot me a message at kbrown@syracusechiefs.com.

Kevin Brown

30 in 30: A Chiefs Countdown to Opening Day: Day 10

We’re counting down until Opening Day with a new post on our Inside the Chiefs blog every day until Syracuse’s opener on April 3rd. Here’s what’s on tap today…

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Since yesterday’s post – our most-viewed of the blog series so far – the Nationals have made six additional cuts from big-league camp. Might as well play another round of “where will this guy end up”, then, right?

LHP Danny Rosenbaum – “Rosey” spent every day of the 2013 season with Syracuse, never going up or down. He sported a 3.87 ERA in a league-high 28 games started. Rosenbaum will be part of Syracuse‘s rotation to start 2014, and he may very well be a Chief for a long stretch once more.

Danny Rosenbaum

Danny Rosenbaum

RHP Clay Hensley – Six months ago, Hensley – a veteran of 271 major-league games – couldn’t top 81 mph on a radar gun. But after undergoing Tom House’s throwing program, he’s upped his velocity back to its usual high-80s/low-90s mark. Hensley’s contract contains opt-out dates after spring training and June, meaning the right-hander could leave if he thinks he’ll latch on with a major-league team. The Nationals, however, are hoping he’ll end up in Syracuse – and it’s up to Hensley to decide.

RHP Josh Roenicke – Roenicke hasn’t pitched in the minor leagues since 2011 with Colorado Springs, with ERAs of 3.78, 3.25 and 4.35 over the last three years (Colorado 2011-12, Minnesota 2013). He allowed eight hits and four runs in three-and-one-third spring innings, though, leading to his reassignment to minor-league camp. It’s Syracuse or bust for Roenicke at this point – he’s not pitched in Double-A since 2008, and he’s clearly far too good for that – and might depend on whether or not his contract has an opt-out clause.

RHP Daniel Stange – Stange has thrown in 101 Triple-A games over the past four years, with a 5.61 ERA – however, that’s a 5.61 ERA entirely in PCL play, where the ballparks may as well be on the moon. Stange did throw in 46 games in Double-A in 2012 with the Padres, so Harrisburg isn’t out of the question, if only for the crazy numbers games in the Nationals’ bullpen. His status may depend on the opt-out status of others.

LHP Matt Purke – Purke was officially assigned to Double-A Harrisburg, where he’s slated to be a first-time Senator. The third-year professional out of TCU was regarded as one of the Nationals’ top prospects upon being drafted, but multiple shoulder issues over the last few years have hampered his progress. Coming off of a 4.43 ERA in 12 Potomac starts, and at just 22 years old, it might take a little while before Purke makes a next-level jump.

Matt Purke (CSN Washington)

Matt Purke (CSN Washington)

OF Michael Taylor – Speaking of 22-year-olds who’ve never played above Potomac that were officially assigned to Harrisburg…meet Taylor, considered the best defensive outfielder in Washington’s minor leagues. The good with Taylor: he’s an A-plus defender who stole 51 bases last year in just 58 tries. The not-as-good: his career slash line of .249/.319/.399 – though his .263 average and .340 OBP last year were career highs. In Taylor’s fifth professional season, the Nationals will look for him to continually up his offense – but his speed and defense may already be Syracuse-ready. (Heck, they may already be Washington-ready.)

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Have something you want to see or talk about on the blog? Hit us up on Twitter @ChiefsRadio – or shoot me a message at kbrown@syracusechiefs.com.

Kevin Brown

30 in 30: A Chiefs Countdown to Opening Day – Day 9

We’re counting down until Opening Day with a new post on our Inside the Chiefs blog every day until Syracuse’s opener on April 3rd. Here’s what’s on tap today…

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The Nationals began spring training with a whopping 63 players in camp. They’ve whittled that number down to 55 in the past few days, sending eight players to minor-league camp – moves that may foreshadow the Chiefs’ Opening Day roster. Today, we’ll examine whether or not we’ll see those players in Syracuse this season…

INF Matt Skole – At 24 years old and in his fourth professional season, Skole’s already drawn raves from Nationals coaches and comparisons to Jim Thome. But he’s coming off a season in which he played just two games due to injury. Expect Skole to return to Harrisburg to start the season – that’s where he began last year – with the chance to move up midseason should his performance be anything like his career minor-league numbers (.290/.410/.510 slash line).

C Jeff Howell – 2014 would be Howell’s third straight year as a Chiefs if he spends time in Syracuse, after 30 games in 2012 and 13 games last year. However, the Nationals still have three catchers in camp (Jhonatan Solano, Chris Snyder, Sandy Leon) outside of the Wilson Ramos/Jose Lobaton combination that’ll start in Washington. With Solano all but ticketed for Syracuse, that probably leaves just one backup spot, and the guess is Howell returns to Harrisburg, where he spent the majority of last season.

Howell, in action with the Chiefs last year.

Howell, in action with the Chiefs last year.

RHP Gabriel Alfaro – Alfaro’s an interesting story. He pitched two years in Auburn from 2005 to 2006 and didn’t throw again until 2010 with independent-league Camden. He next resurfaced in 2012 in the Mexican League, leading the league in saves in each of the past two seasons while posting a 2.60 ERA and 11.2 strikeouts/nine innings. Despite that success, I’d hypothesize Alfaro starts in Harrisburg, just so the Nationals treat him somewhat cautiously after not having thrown in minor league baseball since 2006 – but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in Syracuse with a strong minor-league camp.

LHP Tyler Robertson – Robertson pitched in 26 games with the Chiefs last year to the tune of a 3.04 ERA. After that success, you can expect to see him back here in Syracuse.

INF Josh Johnson – After a solid 53-game start to his season with Harrisburg last year, Johnson absolutely tore up the International League in 35 games with the Chiefs, posting a .341/.458/.466 slash line and stealing six bases in six tries. It’d be surprising not to see him return to Syracuse after such wild success.

Johnson, last season - likely before he got on base somehow.

Johnson, last season – likely before he got on base somehow.

C Brian Jeroloman – With one of the best batting eyes on the team, Jeroloman picked up 13 walks in 30 games for Syracuse last season, but played his remaining 21 games in Double-A with Harrisburg. His status goes back to the numbers game as pointed out in Howell’s section. The guess here is Harrisburg with a trip to Syracuse at some point in the season.

RHP A.J. Cole – Cole threw 6.2 scoreless innings, striking out seven and walking none in his first major-league spring training. He posted a 2.18 ERA in seven late-season starts with Harrisburg last year. And he’s the Nationals’ highest-ranked pitching prospect outside of Lucas Giolito. It seems he’ll start with Harrisburg again – he is only 22, and the Nats may want to take it slow with no immediate rotation vacancies to spring him into – but look forward to seeing him in Syracuse at some point this year.

LHP Felipe Rivero – Unlike the other members of this post, Rivero was officially assigned to Double-A Harrisburg – the other seven were assigned to Minor League camp. So we know where Rivero will start the year. But where will he finish it? At 22 years old, Rivero hasn’t yet pitched in a game above High-A, but the Nationals were bullish on him in spring training. Livan Hernandez, helping out the Nationals as a coach, even said “he’s going to be a superstar” just a few weeks ago. The guess here is Rivero may stay in Harrisburg year-round for seasoning, but don’t discount a rise up to Triple-A.

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Have something you want to see or talk about on the blog? Hit us up on Twitter @ChiefsRadio – or shoot me a message at kbrown@syracusechiefs.com.

Kevin Brown

30 in 30: A Chiefs Countdown to Opening Day – Day 8

We’re counting down until Opening Day with a new post on our Inside the Chiefs blog every day until Syracuse’s opener on April 3rd. Here’s what’s on tap today…

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For some players, the tensest moment of a gameday might not come during the game itself. It might come at around 3:30 in the afternoon in the middle of the clubhouse hallway, when a simple piece of paper is pinned up to the bulletin board…

The lineup card.

Nats lineup

The sacred, unbreakable lineup. Nine individuals listed in order from one to nine – an order that means everything. In a game where so many outcomes and variables depend on randomness, this is as un-random as baseball gets. There are certain general outlines that a typical lineup follows: fast guy in the leadoff spot, contact hitter second, best hitter third, power hitters four through six, speedy “second-leadoff” type in the nine position. This is the way baseball has more or less worked for decades and decades and decades.

But is it the right way? Statistically, well…no.

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Yesterday, Nationals manager Matt Williams talked about his 2014 lineup, saying he likes Denard Span at the top of the card. That makes some sense: Span’s career on-base percentage of .351 is a well-above-average mark – however, his OBP over the last four seasons sits at just .332. So why not Jayson Werth, who hit leadoff toward the end of 2012? Werth sported a massive .398 OBP last year – a number that’s a combined .373 mark over the last four seasons.

The argument against Werth hitting leadoff? He’s a “run-producer” who’s expected to hit in the middle of the lineup, so he can have more opportunities to drive players in. But it sounds like Werth’s more likely to hit somewhere from the third to fifth spots. Now, consider this: per Baseball Between the Numbers, there’s a difference of about 18 plate appearances per season between each spot in the lineup. Let’s say you bat Werth fourth and Span first. Now, Span’s coming to bat about 54 times more than Werth during the season. Or, in mathematical terms, this guy:

.279/.327/.380, 28 2B, 11 3B, 4 HR in 153 games

…is batting 54 more times than this guy:

.318/.398/.532, 24 2B, 25 HR in 129 games

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What does this mean for the Chiefs this year? Well, in the past two seasons, speedy outfielder Eury Perez has largely taken a stranglehold on the leadoff spot, with Jeff Kobernus typically occupying the #2 position last year. But maybe it’s worth considering a flip? Kobernus posted a stellar .366 OBP last year, ahead of Perez’s .336 mark – and Kobernus proved to a better base-stealer. With that combination of speed and discipline, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Kobernus get the lion’s share of plate appearances at the top of the order this year – should both players return to Syracuse.

Kobernus (Gaston)

Jeff Kobernus doing what he does – getting on base.

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Have something you want to see or talk about on the blog? Hit us up on Twitter @ChiefsRadio – or shoot me a message at kbrown@syracusechiefs.com.

Kevin Brown

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