Baseball: Slammers manager Breyman has familiar trade partner in Gateway Grizzlies
By Tim Tierney For Sun-Times Media August 20, 2013 9:22PM
Updated: September 22, 2013 6:30AM
Trading closer Justin Erasmus, who’s among the Frontier League leaders in saves, to the Gateway Grizzlies wasn’t a reach for Joliet manager Mike Breyman.
Gateway had slipped into second place in the West Division, and was willing to part with three players over the weekend to get an elite closer for the playoff race.
The deal also was made easier for Breyman because he played for the Grizzlies from 2004 through ’08, was their bench coach in 2009 and the team’s hitting coach last season.
“It does look like I’m helping my old team out, but that’s how you do this,’’ Breyman said. “You build relationships with guys. If the shoe is on the other foot next year, they’d help us out.’’
When the Slammers’ first-year skipper made it known Erasmus was available, Gateway manager Phil Warren was the first to reply.
“They’re pretty much selling out for this year,’’ Breyman said. “That’s what you’ve got to do when you’re in a playoff race.’’
Although he called the vocal Erasmus “irreplaceable,’’ Breyman described what the Slammers are getting in return as “definitely worth what we’re giving up.’’
Joliet’s relievers will be bolstered by Jason Sullivan (3-1, 5.01 ERA), a candidate for the end of the bullpen next season.
Breyman said the names of the remaining Gateway players in the deal won’t be made public until the end of the season.
“The other guys we’re getting are pieces for next year as well,’’ he said.
Winning is everything
The Slammers are ninth in the league in attendance, averaging just under 2,000 fans a game with two series left.
Promotions and menu changes can help, but filling seats still comes down to winning. Three of the top four teams in attendance — Gateway, Traverse City and Schaumburg — likely will make the playoffs.
The Slammers were 35-46 a year ago compared with 33-48 going into Tuesday night’s series opener against Frontier. This year’s team still has a good chance to finish with a better record — the 2012 squad lost 15 straight from Aug. 14 through Aug. 30 and ended up 37-58. ... Jerod Yakubik hasn’t given up on this season. He’s hitting .458 in the last seven games (11-for-24) with a double, triple and five RBI. ... Two fireworks games remain at Silver Cross Field: Wednesday against Frontier and the home finale Aug. 29 vs. Evansville. The Wednesday game is Military Appreciation Night at Silver Cross Field.