Many Players for 51's But Few Victories

For Las Vegas, it was a case of the same old-same old. A lot of players- some 58 wore the 51's uniform at various times- and not a whole lot of victories- the team finished 67-77, last in the Pacific South Division. And, more than incidentally, serving as a vital supply base for the parent Dodgers.

Chief among those who moved from Vegas to L.A. were James Loney and Matt Kemp, both, presumably, at last to be full-fledged big leaguers. Then there were the likes of Delwyn Young, Tony Abreu, Andy LaRoche and pitchers Eric Stults, Eric Hull, D. J. Houlton, and Hong-Chih Kuo, who moved up and back at various times, if only to receive a casual glance for some.

The likes of Shea Hillenbrand and Roberto Hernandez were around for brief moments to groom their games for returns to the big leagues

The season began with a lot of former big leaguers on hand that had been acquired as free agents but most of them were gone by the end. Mitch Jones did extremely well and had 19 home runs and 60 runs batted in in 52 games before his contract was sold to Japan. Others who were in this category included outfielder Larry Bigbie, catcher Kelly Stinnett, first baeeman/outfielder Larry Barnes and pitcher Joe Mays, Matt White and Travis Smith.

Another vet, Tomas Perez, was brought in to play shortstop but when Wilson Valdez came back, he was peddled elsewhere. Valdez, who was pretty good for the team in 2006, was even better this time, hitting .343. When Chin-lung Hu came up from Jacksonville, Wilson moved to left field and back up to Los Angeles in September.

Hu was one of a host of those brought in as replacements, mostly coming from Jacksonville. He played extremely well, hitting 318. John Lindsey, a 30-year-old making AAA after a dozen years of trying, was a revelation, batting .333 with 19 home runs and 88 RBI after taking over for Loney at first.

Other who came up included third baseman Marshall McDougall (.304), infielder Luis Maza (.329) and pitchers William Juarez, Eric Cyr, Miguel Pinango, Matt Riley and Jon Meloan. Meloan proved to be as effective in relief here as he was for the Suns (2-0, 1.69) and was off to L.A. in September. Pinango, who had been signed as a minor league free agent over the winter, was a bulwark of the starting corps (10-7, 4.12). Dwayne Pollok, Chris Fussell, and former farmhand Greg Bauer, were others added to the pitching staff.

That the league is still very much a heaven for hitters and a hell for pitchers is proved by the fact that 11 players were at least part-time regulars hit over .300. Stults (5-7, 7.56) and Houlton (6-4, 3.65) generally pitched well and Hull (4-3, 2.74, 11 saves) was an absolute marvel when he was in the bullpen.

LaRoche was bothered by shoulder problems in the early going and a bad back lately but still hit .309 with 18 sent out of he yard. Ken Huckaby, who shared catching with several others, did well as did Sergio Garcia in the infield before he was set down for 60 days for using a banned substance. Choo Freeman, the former Rockies outfielder, was almost unnoticed with a .270 mark.

Spike Lundberg was inconsistent as both a starter and reliever as was Casey Hoorelbeke, used as a set-up man. Greg Miller started very well but when he lost his ability to find the strike zone was sent down as was Mark Alexander.

Injuries took Kuo and Tim Hamulack out fairly early.

The 5-10 Young stood tallest of them all, batting .337 and setting a modern PCL record with 54 doubles, plus 17 homers and 97 RBI. With players like that, Abreu (.355) and Hu, it certainly can't be called a wasted year even with all those defeats.

TEAM LEADERS

Batting

Average- Abreu .355
Home Runs- Lindsey, Jones- each 19
RBI- Young 97
Stolen Bases- Valdez 14

Pitching

Innings- Pinango 126.2
Wins- Pinango 10
ERA- Hull 2.74
Saves- Hull 11

Most Surprising- Lindsey, the seeming independent ball lifer, who not only made it to AAA but who hit extremely well.

Most Disappointing- A number of the former big leaguers like Larry Barnes, who hit only .230 and was released.

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