Chat Transcript: Chris Mehring (Part 2)

Here is the transcript of the second half of the last night's chat with Timber Rattlers' play-by-play announcer Chris Mehring. It was a record long two-and-a-half hour chat, so we've split it into two parts.

What is your broadcasting style like? What kind of topics do you cover? How did you get into broadcasting?

Chris Mehring: I've always tried to pretend that I am having a discussion with one person. That discussion sometimes strays from the topic at hand, but it always comes back to baseball. Broadcasting, I went to school for. Wisconsin-Platteville for undergrad and Wisconsin-Superior for graduate school. The grad program at UWS was very, very hands on. They had us jump right in and do play-by-play for hockey and basketball games.

What type of player is Carlos Arroyo? He doesn't seem to have much power.

Mehring: When the season started, he was just a fourth outfielder, behind Delucchi, Harris, and Bohn. But he got better as the season went along. At the end of the year he had a thirteen or fourteen game hitting streak. He walked 34 times and struck out only 49, so he has good plate discipline. Not a lot of pop. He never seemed like he was ever running that fast, but he had eighteen steals and got to the ball when he had to in the outfield.

What about 1B Jon Nelson and 3B Matt Hagen?

Mehring: Nellie struck out 168 times, 30 short of the Midwest League record. He chased too many breaking balls and change-ups in the dirt, and he only walked 16 times. But Jon hit some monster home runs here last year. He played in the Instructional League in the fall. That, plus a good spring, plus time in the Cal League should get him going. Hagen had 129 strikeouts, but he tied Juan Silvestre's club record for homers in a season with 21. He didn't homer in the last month of the season, though. He really looked like he wore down late in the year. Matt went through some really tough stretches last year. Most of it came when he was hitting third or fourth in the order. He really put a lot of pressure on himself. When he hit sixth or seventh, he relaxed, the homers came in bunches, and the strikeouts were nowhere to be found.

Should the M's keep the rotation from last year's Rattler team in tact next year at IE? Should Livingston, Fulmer, Jimenez, Sandoval, and Watson all continue their development as starters?

Mehring: I think that the only player who might not get a starting role out of that group is Watson.

The MWL seems to be tough on power hitters. Jon Nelson crushed the ball in Everett, but that power didn't show in Wisconsin.

Mehring: Weather, for the first six to eight weeks, gives the pitchers a distinct advantage. There aren't a lot of what I would call hitter's parks in this league. The ball jumps out of Dayton's stadium, but that's about it. You have to crush pitches to get them out of most stadiums in this league.

Some have doubted Bobby Livingston because he isn't a power pitcher. Do you think he'll have problems as he climbs the system?

Mehring: I will never bet against Bobby. He will do whatever it takes to keep moving up in the organization.

Of the players on last year's team, who should we watch as a candidate to move through the system quickly, like a midseason jump from IE to SA?

Mehring: TA Fulmer, if he has a good start at IE, could make an early jump to the Missions. I think the same goes for Rene Rivera, maybe a little after mid-season.

Do you think Luis Oliveros would present a block to Rene from making that jump? Including the catchers at Wisconsin next year (Maduro, Ruchti), the Mariners seem to be building quite a stock of catchers. Does that hinder their development as a whole in some way?

Mehring: I always liked Oliveros as a defensive catcher. He had a great season at IE last year. You can never have too many catchers. With the DH, managers can help them develop their bats without getting too beat up behind the plate.

Who do you look forward to seeing at Wisconsin next year?

Mehring: I've heard a lot about Adam Jones. Chris Colton and Josh Womack interest me as well. As for pitchers, I'd like to see what Brandon Moorhead and Juan Ovalles could do with a full season. Tom Oldham's numbers were good too. I'm looking forward to April 8th.

The Rattlers could have a lot of lefties next year (Oldham, Hays, O'Flaherty, Feierabend, etc). How would the stadium affect their performance if at all?

Mehring: Fox Cities Stadium is pretty fair to both lefties and righties. Centerfield is 400. Right-center is 405. The weird thing about our stadium is that, no matter how hard the wind is blowing during the day, once the sun goes down, there is no breeze at all.

Out of the middle infielders at Wisconsin last year, who should play at IE next year?

Mehring: Garciaparra at short and I can see Corey Harrington getting a shot at second. Harrington seemed very comfortable in Wisconsin. Made the west division All-Star team at midseason.

If they move Adam Jones up to IE, could Garciaparra return to Wisconsin or move up to SA to keep getting regular playing time?

Mehring: I don't think Michael will be back here. IE is the next logical step for him now.

How much access as a broadcaster do you get to the players?

Mehring: I ride the bus with them. I am down on the field with them for BP every day. I go to the gym with them when we are on the road. Plus, during home games they'll stop by the office to see what's going on. I talk to them and pick and choose what I want to use on the air. I guess the access is pretty good.

Since we aready know what TimberRattler is (as opposed to an AquaSock), who had the best nicknames on the team?

Mehring: Gary Harris was just 'G'. That's all you had to say.

What about the second baseman next year?

Mehring: Not sure about the 2B in the system that are coming this way. From what I've seen-- statwise-- Orlandos seems interesting.

Who was the best all-around athlete at Wisconsin last year?

Mehring: Harris. Gary was the best athlete on the team.

It seemed like there was always a glut of relief pitchers on the T-Rats last year, or they came and went a lot... Viane, Dowdy, Delgado (Oscar and Danny), Morrow, Stitt... It was hard to keep track of who was on the roster and who wasn't.

Mehring: That's just the way our level of A ball is. If a college-age reliever is doing well in short-season, push him up a level, see how he can do, like they did with Moorhead.

Do you like the system where you have first-half and second-half playoff qualifiers?

Mehring: Yes, I do like the split season. It gives the team that had a terrible first-half a change to start over in June. Sometimes with a whole new roster. It keeps the second half of the season fresh.

What is your perspective on steroids in baseball and do you think it's a problem in the minor leagues?

Mehring: They address it in the minors with random testing a couple of times a season. Not sure about the penalties though. At this level, I don't think performance enhancing drugs are a problem. I haven't known any minor leaguers who have used steroids.

Mehring: Have we covered everything yet? :D

I don't think we did anything on the guy who had the unfortunate job of backing up Rivera at catcher...

Mehring: Chris Phillips, Rene's backup in '03, was my favorite player to deal with last season!

Mehring: Thanks for the time. Nice to chat with everyone. And just to plug the Rattlers' site, http://www.timberrattlers.com.

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