So, Ryan Sadowski. Briefly known to Giants fans as "The Dude" or "The Big Sadowski." Always known to me as "Dow" or "Best friend in the organization." He came out of nowhere to start his career with 13 scoreless innings. Then groundballs started finding holes, a few walks crossed the plate, and a Ben Hur chariot race rounded the bases.
Giants' brass, and fans, quickly dismissed him. In a whirlwind of a season, he was promoted to the big leagues, experienced success, experienced setbacks, was demoted to the minor leagues, taken off the 40 man, cleared waivers, and became a free agent. I'm exhausted just typing all of that.
After entering free agency, he drew interest from several teams. He decided to sign with the Houston Astros. The deal is a minor league contract with an invite to spring training.
It's no surprise the Astros were interested in him. After all, he dominated their lineup in his second start. In writing about it in a "Suitcase Chronicles" entry I said the following:
I watched as he threw sinker after sinker, plowing through the Astros lineup, making guys like Berkman, Tejada, and Carlos Lee look as if they belonged on the South African WBC team instead of an MLB team.
I have no doubt that Dow can pitch again in the big leagues. I'm obviously a bit biased since he's such a great friend, but the guy has the stuff. When he's healthy, I'd pit him against any back of the rotation starter in the big leagues. He's probably not as good as his first two starts, but he's definitely not as bad as his last couple. The truth is somewhere in between. Now he's entering a phase of his career where he is likely to become a journeyman. And this can be difficult.
Journeymen are usually not loyal men. They are mercenaries earning a paycheck. They travel from team to team, sometimes playing for several organizations within a single season. They might spend a few months in Korea or Japan, maybe even make an appearance or two in Mexico, before again traversing the United States. They make few great friends in the game, instead making a plethora of acquaintances.
I played with such a fellow this year by the name of Josh Phelps. Signed by the Giants in the offseason to add depth to the first base position, he was sidelined most of the year when one of his rotator cuff muscles decided to stop working in spring training (you can't trust a nerve). He's a great guy, even if he's a mercenary. In the last six years, he's played with Toronto, Cleveland, Tampa Bay, Detroit, New York (Yankees), Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and San Francisco. That's eight organizations in six years.
Each year he has to learn a new set of teammates and coaches. He enters spring training knowing not a single soul. New to the organization, he competes for a spot. His contract isn't guaranteed, and he could be released at any moment. When this happens, h searches for a new team and new set of teammates. It's a recurring process.
But Josh is a great guy. He's laid back yet serious, works hard but doesn't push the limits too far. He enjoys the game but views it in a realistic way. He shows little emotion. He no longer enters the clubhouse with the fervor of a redneck at his first rodeo, but he earns a decent living by hitting a baseball, and he appreciates that. He has played parts of 8 seasons in the big leagues, appearing in a total of 465 games. Each year he grinds away part of the season in the minors, hoping to put up enough numbers to appear in a few more major league games.
This is the lifestyle that Dow is entering. Simply by gaining a bit of big league time, his prospects have improved. He will now be earning a decent wage even as a minor leaguer. Hopefully he'll earn another chance at the big leagues, and Korea and Japan are still possibilities. His future is still less than certain, but it looks brighter than it did a year ago.
Dow is about to go through another change. He's getting married in a couple of weeks, and I can't wait to see him.