2000 STORIES...


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Monday, Oct. 2, 2000
STATE OF THE BELFAST BOMBERS
Story by Buddy Wiley

BELFAST (AP) - Fans and management of the Belfast Bombers, totally disappointed with the performance of manager Nelson Mandella has had him resign his position.

Management: "We have the youngest, strongest, pitching arms in the league and Nelson and his staff has done nothing with them...this has to change. There is more to this game then offense and I don't think they (Nelsons coaching staff) got that point. We acknowledge that he worked wonders last year during the play-offs winning the series with a injury riddled staff. He made some good pitching decisions and we credit him for that. But his strengths are not in the areas that the direction of this team is going. " Mandella and management have been at odds on player acquisition and the team direction since new management took over and moved to Ireland. Belfast management is actively pursuing Ex Red Sox star Dwight Evans to head the team. There is a strong chance that if Evans takes the position he will be pulling Luis Tiant in as the new pitching coach. Evans: "It is a tempting offer, Belfast has talent and when healthy can compete with any team in the Weaver. I think that if we can bring up some of the speed in the minors and start harnessing the power of the pitching staff...this team would be a active candidate for another Championship ring." Tell us here in Ireland that statement doesn't sound like he is interested.

Belfast management had also been questioning the injury plagued OF Jaris Kohl's desire to play and actually had him on the trading blocks towards the end of the season do to his limited playing time. Well their playoff run kept him on the team and it seems to be a good thing. This year, though 'Stan the Man' will probably be the recipient, Kohl put forth a solid run for MVP himself. Leading the blizzard in HRs, Triples, Slugging percent, and second to Musial in BA, Runs Created and hits, Kohl has shown Belfast that he is everything that has been expected of him. Kohl: "I understand their (management) concern about my playing time...I agree with them, I am an important factor in this team competing for a title. I want to continue playing in Belfast and I think after this years performance they want me to continue playing in Belfast...next year with d-Mick healthy we should do a lot better then we did this year and I want to be a part of it." Well it looks as if he is going to be a part of it...David Justice, the player they acquired to fill the void if Kohl was traded was put on the trading blocks earlier this week, along with speedy SS Kurt Zeigler (make room for speedy youth Evans may be bringing up). Belfast believes they have to many quality outfielders and would like to trade some to deepen other positions. Management: "We feel Justice will bring in solid offers and catch the interest of other owners...something our offering of Femnos didn't do. Management doesn't feel changes have to be made and that the talent on the team now, if able to stay healthy, will be a viable candidate for the Blizzard Title next season. Management has also contracted a safety engineer to conduct a study on the field to see what can be done to reduce injury. The City of Belfast has already put to rest any ideas of the team moving by letting them know, they will not let them out of their contract, and the team will be in Belfast for at least another three years.

This year pitcher Bob Warren was a big surprise for the team along with Carl Evertt. Warren, who was acquired to fill a long reliever role, led the team in wins and was probably the most consistent starting pitcher on the young staff. Evertt, his first year in Belfast, hit over three hundred with 30 HRs, 80 RBIs, .519 slugging percent and didn't commit a single error all season. The big disappointments lay in the pitching staff. Team expected a lot more from fireballers Paul Wilson and Marc Kroon. Both pitchers had horrible ERAs and BA against numbers. On the offensive side catcher Winston Churchill had a uncanny poor hitting year. All three are expected to change things around next year and are projected to stay with the team. Players to watch out for next year...Pitchers: Atkinson, Bob Warren, and Closer Rob Nelson ... Batters: Mantle, Kohl and two nicely developing youngsters Ryu Nobeoka and Carl Evertt. GO BOMBERS!

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