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July 22, 2007 – Part 1: Leaving The A.L. July 22, 2007

Posted by atlanticleaguenews in Uncategorized.

Leaving The Atlantic League To Play Overseas: This is a three-part series that will begin appearing in the Hunterdon Democrat this week. Part one is below…

When the heads of the independent Atlantic League started tossing ideas around in the mid ‘90s, one they all agreed upon was to help players get to the big leagues. Losing players during the season was a given due to that goal; however, in recent years, players have been fleeing for places other than major league organizations.

Pitcher Dave Elder appeared in 19 games for the Cleveland Indians between 2002 and 2003. After his release, Elder landed with the Atlanta Braves organization the following year and then unemployed eight games into the season.

At the time, his options were minimal, so the Georgia Tech product inked a deal with the Atlantic League’s Somerset Patriots. In 21 relief appearances, Elder was spectacular, posting a perfect four-win record and 1.34 ERA. The New York Yankees took notice and signed him immediately.

The next few seasons, Elder bounced around, returning to Somerset for at least one stint per year, including the start of this season. But after just two games, he was gone again.

This time Elder didn’t leave for a major-league-affiliated club. Instead, the right-hander joined the Vaqueros Laguna’s of the Mexican League. Mexico? A country that doesn’t even have a Major League Baseball team?

This has been the trend in recent years and Mexico isn’t the only country fleecing the Atlantic League of its talent. Taiwan and Japan have gotten into the act, too.

It’s always been said by league and team officials that the Atlantic League gives players their best shot of getting back to the bigs. Even Rickey Henderson, a future Hall of Famer, said that the reason he signed with the Newark Bears was because that’s what he was told. He was right and the Los Angeles Dodgers picked him up that same year.

“The Atlantic League has earned the reputation as the premier independent league for players looking to get back into an affiliated organization,” Long Island Ducks G.M. Mike Pfaff said. “I can only speak for the Ducks, but I know we are thrilled for players when they get signed.”

Greg Modica, a former San Diego Padres farmhand, left the Patriots during the 2005 season to play in Taiwan. What he thought was going to be an $8500 per-month paycheck, turned out to be a spot competition with former big league journeyman Leo Estrella. Modica was back in Somerset one week later.

In a league where the salary restrictions are solely “guidelines,” Modica felt the money was far too much to pass up, despite the fact that he might not get the same exposure.

“It depends what the players expectations are with baseball,” Modica said. “Some of these guys know that their major league dream, or comeback, is over and they continue to play because it’s fun. If a guy doesn’t think he has a reasonable chance to make it back to affiliated ball, he isn’t really worried about exposure.”

Modica was welcomed back by the Patriots; however, there are cases where players are blacklisted by the club they left for jetting for greener paydays; meanwhile, the team gets nothing in return.

“The whole point for the players to play in the Atlantic League is to better there situation — whether this is to get them back to an organization or financially,” Modica said. “The owners are making their money; if a player has the chance to make some, why hold that against them?”

Next Week, Part 2: Atlantic League officials comment on players leaving the league. – Scott Stanchak

Aracena To Bridgeport: Jason Guarente is reporting some pretty huge news. C Sandy Aracena has apparently been assigned to the Bridgeport Bluefish.

Bridgeport has been trying to get Aracena ever since Tommy Rojas went down with an injury.

Aracena, considered by some to be the best catcher in the Atlantic League, was hitting .293 with two home runs and 15 RBI in 43 games this season.

The league website has P Trevor Marcotte and C Nick Valdez (listed as “Luis Valdez” on the site) heading to Lancaster, but there’s no word on whether those moves actually happened…

There was a scenario rumored to be happening in which the Road Warriors will receive a catcher from a South Division team, but that team would then need to sign another catcher.

Jose Inactive: Perhaps he realized that he was missing MacGyver reruns. Perhaps he broke his hip. I don’t know if you get the idea, but Felix Jose is really old.

Now, he’s really inactive.

Lancaster has placed the former Major League All-Star on the inactive list, and it seems unlikely that he’ll return.

Marcotte To Lancaster: The Lancaster Barnstormers have received P Trevor Marcotte from the Road Warriors.

The 29-year-old was 4-4 with a 7.16 ERA in 13 games this season. He has not pitched since July 1st. -MA


1. Fausto Gabon - July 22, 2007

Not MacGyver, Matlock.

2. BoosterBabe - July 23, 2007

Aracena was behind the plate tonight for the BLuefish in Lancaster.

Last I heard, we were losing 6-2…I was at a friend’s house (that’s what we were listening to while we ate dinner….it was enough to give us indigestion!) LOL
I haven’t turned it on since returning home.

But I’m glad we got him! (though John Nathans has been doing a great job, too and I love to watch him play because he puts SO much into the game! He loves to play and it’s obvious to anyone who watches him)

3. prissyblonde - July 23, 2007

Greg Modica never played in the Mets farm system. He played for the Padres.

4. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - July 23, 2007

Yes, you’re correct.

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