As first reported by yours truly on Twitter, Chris Colton was sent to Joliet (Ill.) of the Northern League to complete an earlier trade in which the Wingnuts received pitcher Sean Teague. Well, I don’t know if that completed the trade or not, because now Joliet owes the Wingnuts a player. It’s all very confusing.
I ran into Colton outside of the stadium after last night’s game and after he’d been told by Wingnuts manager Kevin Hooper and the coaching staff that he’d no longer be with the team. When the possibility of a roster move with Colton first arose a few days ago, I guessed he would be released to make room for another player. That left me wondering if Colton would just retire and focus on his business in Georgia, in which he offers athletic instruction.
But Colton was excited about the new opportunity. He’ll be playing for the same manager, Chad Parker, that he played for last season with Windy City of the Frontier League. I asked Colton how long he was planning on continuing to play and he said, “I guess until the wheels fall off.”
Colton also said the coaching staff and the players were sad to see him go, which I can understand. He has a unique presence in the clubhouse as a guy who will joke around but also takes his profession seriously. Most of the time, anyway. Sometimes Colton was just a little bit too loose. Still, that doesn’t detract from the type of guy he is, and I haven’t run into anyone who doesn’t like him.
As a veteran making a significant amount of money in relation to the rest of the roster, Colton needed to produce more to keep his job. He is one of the best defensive outfielders in professional baseball, but he wasn’t quite getting it done at the plate. Most glaring were his .200 batting average with runners in scoring position and his .133 average with runners in scoring position and two outs. Guys getting paid the relative big bucks have to earn their money, and Colton was falling short.
As we parted, I told Colton good luck and he stood up and said, “I enjoyed the reports in the paper and if it’s God’s will we’ll meet again.” Classy. I extended my hand, but he said, “No handshakes” and gave me a hug instead. Add me to the list of people who will miss Colton. He was always fun to talk to and always had high energy.
As for what the Wingnuts will do with the open roster spot, it appears they’ll play a man short for a little while. There was talk of bringing in former Wichita State outfielder Ryan Jones, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. Wichita will bring in a player in the next few days but is waiting for some paperwork issues to be resolved first. I’m not sure if I’ve been given clearance to say who it is by the team, so I’ll play it safe for now.
The Wingnuts are making a lot of moves this year. Well, a lot compared to last year, but not that many compared to 2008. There’s something to be said for allowing players to work through their struggles, but Hooper is impatient when it comes to losing, and especially impatient when it comes to a lack of effort. Not that anyone in particular is showing a lack of effort, but that’s one thing that will get a player a ticket out of Wichita. I think the moves that are being discussed will help the Wingnuts improve, though. As I said last night, stay tuned.