New GM plans to bring Hollywood to Yuma
New Scorpions general manager Jose Melendez knew what he was getting into when he took over — mostly.
He knew about the last two years. He knew about the affiliation deal with the Colombians in 2009 producing not only the worst record in the Golden Baseball League, but also creating some bad PR in the community.
He knew about last year, when president Ricky Smith sold off the team's best players then left in the middle of the season after allegedly not paying players and other financial obligations.
What he wasn't ready for was the fact the Scorpions haven't made the playoffs in their six-year history.
“That's going to change,” Melendez said. “It has to change.”
Melendez spent the past six years with the Laredo (Texas) Broncos, where he was twice honored by the city's Chamber of Commerce and won the United League's Executive of the Year three times. He brought in Jose Canseco at the end of last season, and now the two are reunited in Yuma. Canseco was announced as player-manger of the Scorpions Tuesday in the same press conference Melendez was introduced as GM.
“I'm very confident we're going to make the playoffs this year,” Melendez said. “We're going to build a very good team. There's a lot of good players that want to come to Yuma now.”
One of those players, Melendez hopes, is former Cy Young award winner Pedro Martinez. He said he left a message with the veteran pitcher.
“Hopefully we can get something done there, but we're trying to pull all the stops,” Melendez said. “We want to make it work. I'm not afraid to do anything like this. It's probably less than 20 percent, but we have to try. Half the battle is trying. Hopefully we'll get it done.”
Melendez said there is an interest in big-name talent coming to the Scorpions — and not just baseball talent.
“We would like to do a ‘Celebrity Apprentice' reunion and maybe have Gary Busey coach first base. We're going to bring Hollywood to Yuma. That's what we want to do, that's our goal this year. That's our motto: Bring Hollywood to Yuma. That's what the Cansecos (Jose and twin brother Ozzie) want to do. We want to film a reality show — we're almost done getting a reality show filmed — of the Cansecos coming back into baseball. As you saw, the cameras were here, that was the production company. We're close to several networks who are going to pick it up so we're going to be filming Jose as he's living in his house and as he's living here. It's a project that we're doing and we're just trying to bring interesting things to Yuma.”
Melendez said he is a diehard fan of the Oakland Athletics and remembers watching Jose Canseco when he was younger.
“We're excited to give the Yuma Scorpions a new beginning,” Melendez said. “We want to get a fresh start. We're asking for the community to look at us and give us a new beginning, a new start. I'm very fortunate that us three are able to come here to Yuma and be able to give back to the community, and also see the Cansecos play one more time together, and that is something very, very special to me.”
Despite the shaky history of the Scorpions the past two years, Melendez said he feels this is the year that things turn around for the franchise.
“It's something a lot of people are not going to forget, what happened the last two years. I've been asking for forgiveness. I've been begging for forgiveness. I've been in Laredo the last two years, doing my thing. I don't know what's going on, I'm new to the problems. ... It's a very important year for the Yuma Scorpions, and the ownership group is pulling out all the stops to make sure we're successful.”
Staff writer Alex Espinoza contributed to this report.