Brian VanderBeek

August 16, 2014

Beek’s Blog: The rights and wrongs of loading playoff rosters

The practice of adjusting minor league rosters for playoff pushes is common, but it does have a shady side

Beek's Blog

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David Dahl was removed from the temporary inactive list prior to Saturday’s game and was inserted into the lineup, batting third and playing centerfield. He had been out of the lineup since running into the wall in the eighth inning of Tuesday night’s game against Bakersfield, jamming his wrist.

The 20-year-old outfield prospect likely will not be with the Nuts much longer. The South Atlantic League has approved Colorado’s request to move Dahl back onto the roster of the Asheville Tourists for that team’s playoff push. Dahl played 88 games with Asheville, hitting .305-10-41 before being promoted to Modesto on July 23.

The practice of loading rosters for playoff pushes by way of shuffling players between levels is very common in the minors, but some leagues are starting to crack down on the practice. The Rockies checked into the possibility of returning Modesto infielder Pat Valaika back to Asheville, specially for the playoff effort, but were told by the SAL that the move would not be approved. Valaika played only 34 games with Asheville (.370-4-23) before moving to Modesto on May 19.

But in past California League seasons, such moves were made without executive friction. Perhaps the most egregious exploitation of the lack of playoff recall rules came in 2005, when San Jose infielder Kevin Frandsen was called up to Double-A Norwich before the All-Star break, then played the final month of the season with Triple-A Fresno, hitting .351 with 10 doubles and 16 RBI.

When the Grizzlies’ season ended without a playoff berth, Frandsen returned to San Jose, his hometown, to stay sharp for fall baseball. The San Jose Giants took the opportunity to add Frandsen to their active roster (claiming he was replacing an injured outfielder) and he went on to be named the MVP of the California League postseason as the Giants dispatched of Modesto and Lake Elsinore to win the league title.

Two years later, San Francisco sent Fred Lewis to San Jose for a rehab assignment just in time for him to hit two home runs is a series-clinching victory over Visalia.

Of course, rehabs are a different issue, and finding a game for a rehabbing major league player after the minor league regular season is over can be difficult. It also can backfire.

Just two years ago, Colorado sent pitcher Jorge de la Rosa to Modesto for a rehab start that ended up being Game 3 of the California League Championship Series. But de la Rosa was greeted by a leadoff homer by Delino Deshields Jr., and ended up taking the loss as Lancaster clinched its first league title.

Just a question here - do you think Frandsen or Lewis treasure their California League championship rings?

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