*Charlie Wilson (right), Blue Jays director of minor league operations and Doug Davis, minor-league field coordinator (left) presenting Fisher Cats slugger Eric Thames with an award in 2010. Letters of Intent
By Bob Elliott
Wednesday’s game story and box score from the New Hampshire loss to Richmond Tuesday night show plenty of mistakes:
The Fisher Cats had two errors, a runner picked off, another forgetting how many were out costing his team a run and the team went 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position.
There were five lead changes, including the final two as New Hampshire’s Moises Sierra hit a two-run, homer off the Richmond closer in the eighth.
Then, Richmond shortstop Skyler Stromsmoe (Etzikom, Alta.), hit a game-winning, homer in the ninth against ’Cats closer Bobby Korecky.
When Charlie Wilson, Blue Jays director of minor league operations, returned to his hotel in Concord, N.H., it wasn’t the same as having watched a extra inning loss at the Rogers Centre.
Field coordinator Doug Davis and Wilson run the farm system.
“I’m closer to this, I spend all my time with minor leaguers,” said Wilson (North York, Ont.). “Our players for the most part are young, learning life away from home, learning the game, they’re going to make mistakes. It’s part of the process.”
While Tuesday night was a heart-breaking loss, 2011 has been a very good year for the Jays on the farm.
“I’m so proud of our staff, our managers, our coaches, five teams made the playoffs, four made the final, it’s exciting, at one time this season six of our seven clubs were either first or second in their leagues,” Wilson said. “That says a lot about the players’ abilities.
“Where we are is not because of Charlie Wilson sitting at his desk eating popcorn. The amateur scouts have done a great job the previous two drafts, same with our pro scouts whether it was the Roy Halladay or Scott Rolen deals.”
General manager Alex Anthopoulos and assistant GM Tony LaCava decide if prospect Adeiny Hechavarria is moved, but when someone is injured, Wilson’s cell rings.
In early July, catcher Ryan Budde was placed on the seven-day inactive list at Vegas. The catching dominoes began to fall: Yan Gomes was promoted to Vegas from New Hampshire, Joe Bowen to New Hampshire from Dunedin and Tim Mahler to Dunedin from Gulf Coast.
How often does Wilson’s phone ring? Especially with teams in the system (Vancouver and Vegas) usually on the coast?
“A lot, from early in the morning until after 1 a.m.,” Wilson said. “When I’m on the road a 1:30 a.m. call is not a problem. At home? My wife Debbie kicks me and says: ‘Will you answer your phone?’ ”
Not ideal work hours with four kids -- Matthew 19, Brooke 17, Nicole 15 and Anna three -- in the house.
“If it’s an injury, I’ll call the manager of other club, the manager will tell the trainer, who books the flight,” Wilson said.
After Tuesday’s loss he spent almost an hour discussing the Game 1 defeat with manager Sal Fasano, coaches Justin Mashore, Pete Walker and Danny Solano.
Then another hour with trainer Bob Tarpey. The season ends for the ’Cats in Richmond. Travel arrangements had to be made.
Example: Lefty Tyler Ybarra has made three stops since the regular season ended: Bluefield, then Vancouver and he flew to Lansing as an emergency back-up arm.
Davis and Wilson talk multiple times daily. Wilson guesses he’s on the phone 3-to-5 hours a day, many times to his assistants in Dunedin, Joanna Nelson and Mike Nielsen.
Wilson was in Dunedin until Anthopoulos took over and Wilson moved to the Rogers Centre.
His duties include setting budgets, signing internal free agents, running spring training while Davis, LaCava and Wilson hire coaches and staff.
Wilson grew up playing in Leaside (”but not very well, Eric Lindros was a year younger,”) as a fan of George Bell, Jesse Barfield and Lloyd Moseby. He was hired by Howard Starkman (Mississauga, Ont.) in 1993 to work in media relations and moved to baseball operations under Gord Ash (Toronto, Ont.).
Minor-league rosters are not created equal:
Triple-A and double-A teams have 24 players; Dunedin has 25, with no more than two players with six years experience; Lansing, 25, no more than two with five years; Vancouver, 30, no more than three with four years and Bluefield 35, none with three years service.
All pieces of the puzzle.