Can Syracuse Chiefs rise above the challenge of its revolving-door roster?
Since the 2009 International League season started, the Syracuse Chiefs have made 110 transactions in 112 days. Promotions, demotions, injuries and outright releases are not uncommon in minor-league baseball, and the Chiefs have certainly seen their share of all of the above.
Within the past week alone, the hometown nine lost three of its best players: On July 29 outfielder Corey Patterson opted for his release, and on Aug. 1 the parent Washington Nationals recalled power-hitter Elijah Dukes and power-pitcher Jorge Sosa.
Despite the revolving-door roster, the Chiefs have hung on to second place in the league's North Division, trailing the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees by less than three games.
So Chiefs fans -- who have n't seen a playoff game in 11 seasons -- retain reasonable hopes for post-season baseball at Alliance Bank Stadium for the first time since 1998.
That year the Buffalo Bisons swept the Chiefs 3-0 in the first round.
Syracuse's last league championship was 33 years ago, in 1976, when the club was still affiliated with the Yankees.
Wild card spot?
If the 2009 Chiefs hold on to overcome Scranton for the North Division pennant or nail down the wild card playoff spot, they'll do it with a cast of characters who hardly know each other.
Just four of the 13 Chiefs who played in the April 9 home opening loss to Rochester remain on the roster -- heavy hitters Brad Eldred, Kory Casto, Justin Maxwell and Pete Orr.
Sitting on the bench that day was Jorge Padilla, a 29-year-old outfielder who soon emerged as the sparkplug of this year's squad. The fleet-footed Puerto Rican all-star leads the league with a .365 batting average and boasts a .410 on-base percentage.
Padilla, who celebrates his 30th birthday on Aug. 11, rarely strikes out, bunts beautifully, has socked 23 extra-base hits and has stolen 14 bases so far this season. Padilla hit safely in 018 straight games from mid-June through July 6, recording the Chiefs' longest hitting streak of 2009.