Saying Goodbye…


The Golden Bears that take the field next year will be far different then the ones that earned the Bears a bid into the College World Series. At least three players will be gone, and plenty of juniors will have a tough decision to make on a return to school or pursuing their professional careers.

Dwight Tanaka and Austin Booker are both gone for good, as both were seniors. Tanaka never really played a major role in his career, but he was used frequently as a pinch runner and was part of the rally against Baylor on the base paths. That won’t be forgotten. Booker was a quality leadoff hitter all year for Cal, and he’ll have his chance to play pro ball for the Oakland Athletics. He’ll be tough to replace next year in left and with the bat.

Kevin Miller was terrific in non-conference play and helped the Bears consistently win mid-week games. That kind of pitcher can’t be underestimated, and his victories probably were the difference between making the postseason and not. He really faded at the end of the year, and by postseason time he had problems consistently retiring quality batters. He’ll be in Houston’s system next year.

Dixon Anderson and Erik Johnson, both critical members of the weekend rotation, were drafted and may depart from Berkeley. Johnson was a second round pick of the White Sox, and is very likely gone. He was this team’s ace and best pitcher, and constantly went toe to toe with the best in the Pac-10 and won more than he lost. If he does leave, it’s a huge void to fill. Anderson is a different story; he’s massively talented, and was drafted by the Nationals. But he never put it together all year and he was the one who lost the game that sent the Bears home from the tournament. He’ll be missed as well, but not as much as the ace Johnson.

Two junior position players were drafted, as Marcus Semien and Chadd Krist were White Sox picks. Both will be missed terribly if they’re gone. Semien was the higher pick, but with Campbell in the wings it wouldn’t be as big a loss as Krist. Semien still was a huge middle of the order threat and would not be easily replacable. Krist was the cleanup hitter all year and he (along with Renda) represented our whole offense for much of the year. Without him, our offense takes a huge hit. We don’t want to lose Krist.

Last (but not least) is Matt Flemer, a pick of the Kansas City Royals. He still could return, but he’s also a huge loss if he joins Kansas City. The comfort of having a shutdown closer cannot be quantified, and Flemer was as shutdown as they come. Whenever the Bears needed a lead to be held, Flemer was there and never blew it. Quality relievers can be harder to find then it would be seem, so keeping Flemer will be very important.

All these players will be missed, some more than others, but all missed nonetheless. We can only hope that the juniors come back to finish their education and to improve the 2011-2012 squad. Otherwise, some current underclassmen will have to step it up. Go Bears!