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Monday Morning Minors

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The minor league season is winding down. There are less than three weeks left in minor league schedules, and playoff races are shaping up. Sacramento is the hottest team in the PCL right now, but they trail Tucson by seven games in their division. Midland is half a game back of Frisco, and need to win the second half to make the Texas League playoffs. Stockton is in the same situation as Midland, but are four games back of the division leader. Kane County got second place in the first half, which is good enough to get them a playoff spot. Vancouver is six games back in the West Division of the Northwest League, despite being six games over .500. As for Arizona, well, since a one game "playoff" decides the "winner", does it really matter?

Since being sent down from Oakland, Jason Windsor has kept at it. He has won all three starts since rejoining Sacramento, allowing just four runs in 18 2/3 innings, striking out 21 and walking just four. He increased his Triple-A record to 11-0. Komine is a nice option for Oakland, but it's hard for me to accept him as a better solution, both long term and short term, than Windsor.

Kurt Suzuki has been out since August 4 with a wrist injury, but could be back soon. Meanwhile, Vasili Spanos, who missed nine games with a hamstring injury, returned on Saturday to the Midland lineup. Spanos has performed well with the `Hounds this season, hitting .316 with 47 walks and nine homers in 373 at-bats. Also close to returning to Midland is Dan Putnam. He has been beating up Cal League pitchers during rehab for the past nine games, hitting .404 with a couple doubles and a homer in 37 at-bats.

Also rehabbing is Cliff Pennington down in Arizona. He has one hit and two walks in eight plate appearances. There is no denying that he was awful in Stockton before his injury, but he did show signs of improvement. After hitting .103 in April, he bounced back to hit .340 in June before sitting out. There isn't much of the season left, so it's time to look towards 2007.

Landon Powell was supposed to be a premium hitting prospect, and a catcher to boot. Batting .262 with 15 homers isn't the end of the world, but from a 24 year-old in High-A, it is disappointing. He was someone Oakland wanted to push, but they aren't able to until he can handle what is in front of him.

Jared Lansford made his Stockton debut on Wednesday. He lasted 4 2/3 innings, allowed five runs (three earned) on seven hits and a walk with two strikeouts. It will be interesting to see if his odd ways of winning will continue in High-A. Hitters there are obviously more mature and advanced. In fact, he had just one home run hit against him in Kane County, and that was already matched in his first start in Stockton. He will be in the starting rotation for the rest of the season, so we will get to see a few more starts out of him.

After Kane County starter T.J. Franco gave up six runs in 1/3 of an inning, he was pulled from the game. Not a good start indeed, but the Cougars came back to win that game 19-10 this Sunday. At one point they scored 16 unanswered runs. Catcher Raul Padron led the way, going 4-for-6 with a homer, a double and six RBI. Jeff Baisley also had four hits, including a double. Chad Boyd, Justin Sellers, and Isaac Omura each added three knocks. Steve Kleen, who went 2-for-5 with a triple and a walk, led the team with four runs scored. Reliever John Herrera picked up the win after tossing five solid innings for the Cougars.

Yes the season is winding down, and I will miss it, but it will allow me to focus on Oakland more. It's funny how disconnected a person can get when you follow so many other teams.