Yellow Jacket Buzzin's

July 1998 

Atlanta, GA - As the southern weather turned hot in June, so did the North Georgia Yellow Jackets' bats.  Led by Tony Gwynn's .406 (49-122, 3 HR, 19 RBIs), Luis Alicea's .381 (24-63, 2 HR, 16 RBIs) and Reggie Jefferson's .370 (34-92, 5 HR, 20 RBI), the Jackets hit .305 as a team in the month of June.  The pitching staff, anchored by Ismael Valdes' (4-1, 3.28 ERA) and Armando Reynoso (3-1), contributed to the cuase with an overall ERA of 3.68 for the month.  The combination of decent pitching and great hitting led the Jackets to a 19-9 record for the month, a great rebound after enduring a 1-13 slump against the Chicago Knights and Cook County Maulers to end the month of May.  This left the Jackets 10 games over .500 at 47-37. 

While pleased with the showing, Owner/GM/field boss Tony Galietta is looking for ways to coax even better outings from his pitching staff.  " We need for the middle relief guys to step up and do the job.  Our starters need to watch their IP's, and the set-up guys gotta come thru."  Jay Powell, Jesse Orosco and Rick Aguilera have run hot & cold in their performances in this role.  There's talk around the clubhouse that these former closers are none too happy that the closer's role was handed to rookie Armando Benitez the first day of spring training.  Benitez has justified the move.  He has recorded 18 saves, only 3 blown saves and a 2.25 ERA.  Aguilera has made his displeasure known in the clubhouse and has requested to be traded, and management is trying to oblige the veteran. 

The mood in Atlanta is upbeat, as this relocated franchise stays in the hunt for a playoff spot.  "Channel Island looks very strong," Galietta said.  "We're hoping to stay close.  We close out the season with the Surfer Dudes, and if our pitching can come through, you never know what could happen!"  While no one is discounting a run at the top spot in the NL West, most observers feel that a wildcard spot is more within reach of these bees. 

Down on the farmů

Jason Christiansen, recently demoted from the Jackets continues to ring up impressive #'s with his major league affiliate.  At press time, Christiansen spotted an ERA below 1.00, and could be ready to fill the set-up role the Jackets are desperate for in '99. 

Cliff Politte spent some time in the early season w/ the Cardinals before being sent to AAA.  Hopefully a late summer call-up will occur so that this impressive pitcher can qualify for a card and join the Jackets in '99 or '00.