Now that the Trappers have won only 41 games for the season instead of 49, and there was no Streak and no championship, Triple-A mongers will gear up for another run at regaining Salt Lake City's long-lost prestige.
The Trapper organization, however, goes right on with the business of planning for 1989 in Derks Field.A new general manager to replace Steve Pearson, who left for a job with Weber State in July, will be named in the next day or so, "And we'll start over again," said Van Schley, a minority owner and the player broker who provides the Trappers with talent and coaching staff.
Field Manager Barry Moss and pitching Coach Darren Garrick have been invited back for next season, and Moss says, "I'd like to come back." In the off-season, he'll help Schley scout while working for a real estate investment agency in California. He'll be back at that job this time next week.
Schley's busy plotting ways to escalate the Pioneer League talent war.
When the independent Trappers started four years ago with an all-college-graduate roster against the high-but-teenaged draft picks of major-league clubs, they challenged those big-league clubs to put better talent in the league. This year, they did. "Last year's team would not have won this (1988 South) division," said Schley.
Great Falls and Butte, the North and South champs, are full of top Dodger and Ranger draftees, many of them college grads instead of kids.
"That makes it more of a challenge for next year," admits Schley. "And we're definitely going to have a more experienced team, more players with pro experience. We're going to push to the legal limits of the league rules to get a good team."
He hinted at using experienced Australian pros to beef up the Traps, as long as the Dodgers and Rangers took up the challenge.
Rookie-league rules allow only five experienced players per team - the object is to have a rookie league.
But because of changes in drafting last year, "There are not as many (undrafted) players around," Schley says. It means more hustling in scouting. "An independent team can't compete with a Great Falls if they load up with a college all-star team. There is no point in doing this if they do that every year," Schley says, "but I think we can continue to be competitive."
Says Moss, "I hope we can continue to give Salt Lake City a contending or championship team, which is what we are committed to doing."
*** Two Trappers have already signed with big-league organizations, relief pitcher Sean Johnson with Milwaukee and second baseman Kelly Zane with Montreal. Schley said he expects eight to 10 signed by the time the winter baseball meetings adjourn in December.
Catcher Mando Verdugo, said Schley, has attracted attention from four big-league teams who are discussing purchase of his contract. Seattle is interested in pitcher Willie Ambos, the Giants and Reds like DH Marty Peralta, the Dodgers and Giants covet third baseman Kerry Shaw, the Astros like pitchers Michael Gibbons and Terence Glover and Montreal is interested in pitcher Fred Riscen.