Closer Simas hasn't Missed a Beat Since 2004 Championship Run
When the Long Island Ducks won the 2004 Atlantic League championship, there were many heroes. Bill Pulsipher was the ace of the starting staff; Justin Davies was the 'feel good' story and Bill Simas...well, without him shutting the door in the ninth inning, all of the other highlights would have faded away a long time ago.
Five years later, Big Bill has returned to the Flock and at 37, may be more effective now than he has ever been throughout his career. In his most recent outing on Monday night at Somerset, he pitched three scoreless innings to pick up his 11th save of the season in the Ducks' 4-2 victory over the Patriots. Simas also has a 3.27 ERA.
The 6'3", 220-pound righthander is an imposing sight on the pitcher's mound and was a sixth round pick of the then-California Angels back in 1992. After nearly three years in the Halos' farm system, Simas was part of a deal in which Jim Abbott - the one-handed pitcher - came to the west coast from the Chicago White Sox. Looking back on the swap, then-Angels general manager Bill Bavasi told reporters, "I traded four 'can't miss' guys who you can't remember now," with Andrew Lorraine, John Snyder and McKay Christensen being the other players who went to the Windy City.
It took him a few seasons to establish himself out of the Pale Hose's bullpen, but in 1998 Simas went 4-3 with a 3.83 ERA and 18 saves in 60 appearances. The next two seasons he had 70 and 60 appearances, respectively, before missing the entire 2001 campaign due to a right elbow injury and subsequent surgery.
The next two season, Simas pitched at the Triple-A level for both the White Sox and Dodgers organizations attempting to make his way back to the big leagues. Although his statistics were good, he was released by Los Angeles in March of 2004 and signed with the Ducks. Sometimes you need to take a step back in order to go forward again, as the independent leagues are viewed as having a lesser competition as Triple-A. But Simas was impressive on Long Island and signed by the Seattle Mariners in August. He saw limited action playing for Tacoma in Triple-A and was cut in less than three weeks.
The Ducks welcomed him back just in time for their miraculous playoff run and he made nailing down big games a habit en route to winning it all. In four postseason appearances, Simas didn't surrender any runs and had three saves - two of them being of the series-clinching variety. He finished the season 2-4, 1.95 ERA and 17 saves.
In 2005, Simas spent a season south of the border, going 4-6 with a 2.82 ERA and 21 saves for Monclova of the Mexican League. Then he basically disappeared. Simas did not play baseball for two years before resurfacing with Indios de Mayaguez of the Puerto Rican Baseball League last summer, where he made 21 appearances and had a 1.93 ERA. He was not finished after all.
Perhaps looking for a comfortable place to show everyone he still has some gas left in the tank, Simas signed with the Ducks in March the same day that starter Randy Leek returned to the squad.
"Randy and Bill give us strength in our starting rotation and bullpen," said Ducks general manager Mike Pfaff. "It only seems fitting that as we head into our 10th anniversary season, our pitching staff will be anchored by one of our best arms from recent years as well as one from our past."
While Leek has had a difficult go at it this season as compared to last, Simas keeps plodding along. It would come as no surprise if he is scooped up by an organization before the season is out. Come to think of it, there are two teams located not too far from Central Islip that could use a quality and experienced arm out of the bullpen.