Ex-Oriole star Brady Anderson helps out with team chemistry
After a recent win, outfielder Brady Anderson proclaimed the Portland Beavers pretty much unbeatable.
'Only the Royals can beat us, and maybe not even them,' he said, referring to red-hot Kansas City in the American League.
Through Wednesday, the Beavers were 10-4 and had won 10 of their last 12 in the Pacific Coast League.
'I think we have the type of club to win a pennant, barring injuries and loss of players,' manager Rick Sweet says. 'Three-quarters of our players could be gone by the end of the year.'
The parent San Diego Padres have pilfered player after player from the Beavers the past two seasons. It didn't matter much, because slow starts kept Portland from contention in the Northern Division.
The Beavers, 71-73 and 72-71 in two seasons under Sweet, have several elements that make them better so far this year.
nÊPitchers Ben Howard, Dennis Tankersley, Carlton Loewer (3-0), Mike Bynum and Randy Keisler have given Sweet quality starts every time out. Only Johnny Hunter has struggled as a starter, but he pitched the final four innings in Portland's 13-inning, 3-2 win over Tucson on Monday. Howard and Tankersley are prospects who could be called up by San Diego.
•ÊThe middle relief corps has been shaky, but Beaver closer Courtney Duncan has five saves.
•ÊAfter two years of having unproductive offensive lineups, Sweet has some pop in outfielder Jason Bay, 24, who has three homers already, and Tagg Bozied, 23. Anderson says of Bay: 'He's got a good idea of what to do at the plate and has power to all fields without much effort. He's quiet, then explodes on the ball.'
•ÊThe Beavers' versatility shows in Anderson, third-year center fielder Kory DeHaan and left fielder Mark Quinn.
•ÊAt third base, the Beavers feature PCL All-Star Alex Pelaez, hitting .345.
•ÊPortland has some speed, starting with Bernie Castro at the top of the order, followed by DeHaan and Anderson.
•ÊThe outfield has been terrific, with DeHaan sporting a 13-game hitting streak. It's a nice start for a 26-year-old player perhaps getting his last chance to make it with the Padres. Sweet says DeHaan's at-bats have been more 'consistent.'
•ÊMost importantly, the chemistry has been great, Sweet says. Credit former Baltimore Oriole star Anderson. 'I've had Rickey Henderson and Pete Incaviglia the past two seasons,' Sweet says, 'and Brady Anderson has been the best. He has been absolutely outstanding.'
Anderson says he is 'having a blast. The guys are great, and Rick's an aggressive manager, especially if you're a base stealer. (Hitting coach) Rob Deer is an intellectual guy who has a really good eye and an understanding of the business of hitting.'
The Beavers' first homestand ends at 7 tonight at PGE Park against Las Vegas. The club will play the first of another eight straight at home on May 2 against Fresno.
Will there be pennant fever in Portland? Maybe later in the summer. For now, Sweet just wants to see more fans than the 400 or so in the stands for games early this week.
'It's an exciting ballclub,' he says.