Archive for January, 2009

Several Former ‘Claws Get Spring Training Invites (UPDATED)

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

BastardoAmong the 19 23 players invited to Phillies spring training as non-roster invitees are four former BlueClaws players: Antonio Bastardo (2007), Jason Donald (2007), Tuffy Gosewisch (2007), and Jeremy Slayden (2006).

Bastardo (pictured) burst onto the scene with the BlueClaws in 2007, when he went 9-0 in 15 starts. He is in the top 15 of Baseball America’s top Phillies prospects…Donald hit .310 with Lakewood in 2007, earning a call-up to Clearwater at the All-Star break. He spent 2008 in Reading and played for the US Olympic team…Gosewisch hit .224 with the ‘Claws in 2007 and is one of the best defensive catchers in the system…Finally, Slayden was RF on the 2006 SAL Champion BlueClaws squad, where he hit .310. He’s hit 31 home runs over the last two seasons.

Several other former BlueClaws, including Carlos Carrasco (2006), Lou Marson (2006), Joel Naughton (2007-2008), Drew Naylor (2008), Mike Zagurski (2006), and Sergio Escalona (2007-2008), will be in big league camp as they are on the Phillies 40-man roster.

UPDATE: Also invited, on Thursday, were four more players, including Phillies 2008 first-round pick Anthony Hewitt, an OF who hit .197 with the GCL Phillies last year. I’d say there’s a pretty good chance we’ll see him in Lakewood at some point this year.

Click below to read full bios, courtesy of the Phillies PR staff.

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Q&A: Michael Taylor (Part 1)

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

Michael Taylor, a 2007 5th round pick of the Phillies out of Stanford, burst onto the scene in 2008 after hitting .345 between Lakewood and Clearwater. After not being ranked in the Baseball America top 30 heading into the 2008 season, Taylor’s huge 2008 boosted him up to 6th in the 2009 list released last week. Taylor took a few minutes recently to chat with BlueClaws Blog.

Question: What did you learn in Williamsport, in 2007? Was it a tougher adjustment than you expected?

Michael Taylor: It was an adjustment. It depends on each individual person, where you are. But for me, it was an obvious adjustment period. I’ve always been making strides to find where I am most comfortable. A part of Williamsport was that I just wasn’t that healthy. I had some back stuff that was inhibiting me. Not to say that was everything, part of it was full time wood bats. I dialed through it and wanted to get that first summer under my belt to have something to take into the offseason, and it worked out. I learned a lot about myself and professional baseball and what I needed to do to be successful.

Q: What did you focus on that offseason (2007-2008)?

MT: Getting healthy. As far as skills wise, you have to shorten your swing. You can get away with more with a metal bat. There’s a bigger sweet spot, you have to hone your swing and make it a simple, repeatable process. You play every day so the more you can repeat, the quicker you can get out of bad habits and be consistent every day.

Q: Did you feel you were ready for a big breakthrough heading into the year?

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Hitting the Links

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

The BlueClaws hosted a Phillies Winter Tour stop on Tuesday night. Tony Graham has the story in the Asbury Park Press.

You’ll note the last line of the article, that one table burst into Fly Eagles Fly, totally missed that one for the live blog. But was obviously a Phillies-centric atmosphere.

Tony also has an update on CBA graduate Kyle Slate, who will be fighting in spring training for a spot on the BlueClaws roster on Opening Day.

Jim Rice and Rickey Henderson were elected this week to the Baseball Hall of Fame. MiLB has a look at the minor league careers of both Henderson and Rice.

Spring Training a Month Away

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

It might be 25 degrees outside today, but pitchers and catchers are a month away.

It’s January 14th and Phillies players begin to report to Clearwater on February 14th for the beginning of spring training. Meanwhile, we’re just 85 days from the BlueClaws 2009 season opener, at FirstEnergy Park on April 9th. Almost there.

Phillies Winter Tour (1/13)…Live Blog

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

Welcome to Woodlake Country Club in Lakewood for tonight’s Phillies Winter Tour stop, featuring, among others, the World Series trophy, won by the Phillies for the first time since 1980. We’ll be live-blogging the event tonight, so keep it right here for continuous updates, including interviews with the guests. Any questions for the guests, please leave them in the comment section. Enjoy.

Guests will begin arriving at 5 pm, with the press conference scheduled for 6:30.

4:24: We’re good to go. Any questions, feel free to submit them via the comments section.

4:45: With “Hero,” by Enrique Iglesias, in the background, the trophy has been taken out of it’s protective box, and photos will begin shortly.

Welcome to the Winter Tour4:58: Craig Solomon of the Phillies, the keeper of the trophy, checks in and says he hasn’t yet dropped the 30 pound trophy (hopefully he won’t tonight, but no guarantees). He was recently in Las Vegas at an auto convention, and will soon head to Tuscon, Florida, and elsewhere, including the other Winter Tour stops in Williamsport, Lehigh Valley, and Reading.

5:26: Josh Ellis’ interview with trophy keeper Craig Solomon has been posted here.

5:28: The Phanatic has arrived. Now it’s a party.

Trophy and case5:40: Buster checks in. He seems happy to see his mentor, the Phanatic, and is also dressed up for the occasion. He’s sporting a tuxedo, and I don’t mean a tuxedo t-shirt.

5:59: Just spoke with Kenny Campbell, a 10 year old who fell out of the right field seats at Citizens Bank Park in August. Back soon with the link.

6:02: Buster checks in…”hyikrfeghyjkufdergthuikuvfdrghbgdfghjkkjhngtdfrgtjikjuhfgthjjuyhuj.” And now he is walking away. Thanks for that contribution Buster.

6:11: Here’s a clip with young Kenny Campbell, of Brick, and family on the Today Show in August after his incident at Citizens Bank Park. Talked to him for a ClawCast, which you can listen to right here.

7:07: Sorry for the delay, was down at the press conference. We’ll be updating you here for the rest of the night. The program is about to begin.

7:10: Tom McCarthy opens the program to a huge ovation. It will be tough for someone to top that one. He begins with a bald joke.

7:19: Caught up with Greg Legg downstairs at the press conference. He’s ready to go for another season, his 27th in professional baseball, every single one with the Phillies. Here’s the interview.

7:23: Great gesture by the Jersey Shore Boy Scouts of America. They let Tom McCarthy draw a raffle ticket for a spot at the head table. There are two winners. Which is impossible.

7:24: A young lady from the back, gets to go all the way up to the head table.

7:26: Tom McCarthy checked in downstairs before he began to emcee the event. He claims BlueClaws General Manager Geoff Brown stole his hair style and several ties. But beyond that, we spoke about the upcoming Mets/Phillies pennant race from a unique perspective. McCarthy called Mets games in 2007 and Phillies games in 2008.

Saladblog7:35: Salad and blogging.

7:37: By the way, all the photos were done in about an hour and 45 minutes. That was 450 pictures in 105 minutes. Which works out to 4.28 pictures per minute and one picture every 14 seconds. Not bad.

7:42: JA Happ will have his “Made the Phillies” bobble-head night at FirstEnergy Park on June 30th. Just announced by Tom McCarthy. So we’re breaking news here at the Winter Tour.

7:45: Lisa Carone, BlueClaws special events manager and blog friend, checks in and thanks everyone here (which of course means they’re not following along) at the Winter Tour for a great turnout in 2009.

7:50: Couple of more interviews we’re putting up as I type. Stay tuned.

7:56: Really enjoyed talking to Chuck LaMar, the Phillies Assistant GM for Player Development and Scouting, a new title this year after the front office reshuffling. LaMar was the original GM of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and really build the core of the team that went from 5th place in the AL East in 2007 to the World Series in 2008. It was LaMar who brought in Kazmir, Shields, Upton, and Crawford, and it was LaMar’s new team, the Phillies, who won the Series in 2008, beating the Rays. An interesting interview, hope he comes out to Lakewood this year.

8:00: The program is set to resume here in a few minutes.

8:05: A few new pictures coming up and then a salmon break.

8:08: McCarthy: “People always ask what it was like to be around the team in September. I tell them that it was even better in October.” Sounds about right.

8:09: Lost in the shuffle sometimes between the Curse of the Bambino and the Curse of the Billy Goat, the Phillies were able to reverse the Curse of Billy Penn.

8:11: Greg Legg and Dusty Wathan first to be introduced by Tom McCarthy.

8:19: Chuck LaMar up at the podium now. He notes all the homegrown talent in the organization and the lineup during the World Series. Talking about Raul Ibanez, “His makeup is outstanding.” Ibanez was signed last month and will replace Pat Burrell, now with Tampa Bay.

8:21: Chan Ho Park comes up, that’s an upset. LaMar says Park will have to earn a spot in the rotation (JA Happ, Kyle Kendrick, Carlos Carrasco will be in the mix), and could be in the bullpen this year.

8:20: McCarthy notes the reports are positive on Chase Utley. LaMar on whether Utley can be ready for Opening Day: “I sure wouldn’t bet against it.” Interesting.

8:23: I promised my mother I wouldn’t spill anything on myself. So far so good.

8:25: Marti Wolever, Phillies Director of Scouting, is up at the podium, and says that Cole Hamels, when he was drafted at 18, had the maturity of a 25 year old.

8:26: Wolever: “Our young guys can play, and I think they proved it this year. We’re going to live by that philosophy [development] and we’re very pleased with our farm system.”

8:28: Given the chance to talk about some recent BlueClaws, Wolever goes straight to Kyle Drabek and Dominic Brown. Talked to Steve Noworyta, Phillies Director of Minor Leagues, last week, and he mentioned that Drabek is his sleeper to make it to Philadelphia in 2009.

8:30: Steve Noworyta is called up to the podium and talks about winning the World Series. “I told my kids to enjoy this moment, because you don’t know if it will ever happen again.”

8:32: The Phillies people LOVE their 2008 draft. We’ll go into details on this in the coming weeks, but a lot of these guys may be BlueClaws in 2009.

8:36: Great ovation for Tim Gradoville. Tom McCarthy suggests a bobble-head doll for the Phillies new bullpen catcher.

8:38: JA Happ on his bobble-head doll: “Very exciting.” On spring training: “Always competition, but that’s what makes it fun. I’ll be ready to go.”

8:40: Happ thinks his time in the big-leagues in 2008 will help him win a spot in the rotation in 2009. Happ on Jamie Moyer: “He’s such a good resource, just having my locker near his was great. He’s always willing to talk, and he goes beyond baseball. He’s an unbelievable resource and a great guy.”

8:43: Some housekeeping notes. Here are a slew of interviews done by Josh Ellis during the press conference portion of the program from earlier today. Here’s one with new BlueClaws manager Dusty Wathan. Josh also had a chance to talk to Phils Assistant GM Scott Proefrock, new Phils bullpen catcher Tim Gradoville, and finally, Phillies Director of Scouting Marti Wolever.

8:46: Another upset: Happ says his greatest career milestone was NOT his bobble-head doll, but rather getting his first major league win.

9:02: As the enormous line for JA Happ’s autograph begins to shrink as he fires off signature after signature, we’re winding down this Winter Tour stop here at Woodlake. We’ll be back to wrap it all up in a bit.

9:28: So we (Josh and I) sat in the back of the room as we blogged the event. The Zinger of the Night Award goes to BlueClaws marketing manager and blog contributor Zack Rosenberg, who wondered aloud if we were playing Battleship. Good one Zack.

9:34: That’s all folks. Thanks for reading. Next live blog: FanFest on March 7th. Back with more tomorrow here on BlueClaws Blog.

Rookie Career Development Program

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

MiLB.com has a neat video about the annual Rookie Career Development Program, which takes place this week near Washington, DC. They teach top prospects, ones that could reach the big leagues in 2009, about different things that are of high-importance at that level, such as dealing with the media, financial responsibility, and anti-drug initiatives. You will need Adobe Flash player to watch.

Tuesday Night Plan

Monday, January 12th, 2009

Tuesday night is Winter Tour night over at Woodlake Country Club. We’ll be live-blogging the event for you, which will include remarks from Tom McCarthy, the Phillies broadcaster and Brick native who will emcee the program. We’ll post audio interviews with the guests, including new BlueClaws manager Dusty Wathan, former BlueClaws pitcher JA Happ, and much more. Should be fun. We’ll post the thread here early afternoon. Feel free to submit questions for any of the guests and we’ll work them into our interviews. If you’re coming, please come over and say hello.

Rice & Rickey

Monday, January 12th, 2009

It was sure worth the wait for Jim Rice, who today was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association of America in his 15th (and final) year on the ballot. Rice, who received 76% of the votes was elected along with Rickey Henderson, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, who received 94.8%.

Rice was an eight-time All-Star and the 1978 AL MVP. Henderson is considered to be the greatest lead-off hitter of all-time and is the stolen base king.

Henderson’s 94.8% is impressive, but what player was elected to the Hall of Fame with the highest percentage of votes from the Baseball writers?

Jim RiceOf note to us here at the Lakewood BlueClaws, Jim Rice appeared at FirstEnergy Park to sign autographs last June. His election to the Hall of Fame means he is now the 4th FirstEnergy Park autograph signer to be enshrined in Cooperstown. He joins Steve Carlton, Bob Feller, and Goose Gossage on that list. To see a complete listing of FirstEnergy Park autograph signers, click here.

Video of the Week

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

The ZOOperstars are part of the entertainer schedule announced last week by the BlueClaws. They’ll be in Lakewood on 6/8 and 8/6. This is from a 2007 visit to FirstEnergy Park. Funny stuff.

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The Guests (Part 5)

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

This is part five in a blog series looking at the players, coaches, broadcasters, and executives that will appear at the Phillies Winter Tour on January 13th at Woodlake Country Club. Remember, fans will have the chance to get their picture taken with the World Series trophy, and tickets are available by calling Steve Farago or Lisa Carone at 732-901-7000 ext 120 or 192.

The Trophy

The Commissioner’s Trophy
Formally known as the Commissioner’s Trophy, the first World Series trophy was created in 1967. Every season, one new trophy is made an presented to the team that wins the World Series. The current trophy is designed by Tiffany & Co. which has been under contract with Major League Baseball since the 2000 World Series. In addition the World Series trophy, Tiffany & Co. produces the trophies for the NFL, NBA, PGA Tour, NASCAR, and MLS. The trophy itself takes more than three months to make and uses 200 troy ounces of sterling silver. The trophy stands 24-inches tall (not including the base) and weighs about 30 pounds.

The World Series trophy contains 30 flags, one for each Major League Baseball organization, with latitude and longitude lines which symbolize the world and 24-karat stitches which represent the stitches on a baseball. The trophy is presented to the winning team in an on-field ceremony, if the World Series is won by the home team that night. If a team clinches on the road, the ceremony takes place in their clubhouse. The Commissioner’s Trophy is the only major sports trophy that is not named after a person.

Learn more here and here.

Baseball Notes

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

Hall of Fame Voting

The 2009 class at the National Baseball Hall of Fame will be announced Monday, and it’s the last year (of 15) on the ballot for Red Sox OF Jim Rice. Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe makes the case on one of the toughest calls in HoF history. Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com has the pros and cons to Rice’s candidacy. The only “lock” candidate this year is Rickey Henderson. Next year, probably Roberto Alomar. But this is it for Rice, his last year on the ballot. I think he makes it, and should.

The DH

Personally I hate the DH. It’s bad for baseball. It takes a lot of strategy out of baseball. But the players union loves the DH. Of course they do. They get 16 extra everyday hitters with a multi-million dollar contract, compared to additional bench players at a much lower salary. Why do I bring this up?

36 years ago (January 11th, 1973), the American League owners vote 8-4 to approve the designated hitter. Ironically, A’s owner Charlie Finley, who came up with the idea, voted against it, because he also wanted a designated runner, which was nixed.

The first DH was Yankee Ron Blomberg, pictured.

Phillies in the mix for Nomar?

It could happen, says the Philadelphia Inquirer. Garciaparra, however, hasn’t yet decided if he will continue his playing career. He would simply be a right-handed bat off the bench.

The Guests (Part 4)

Saturday, January 10th, 2009

This is part four in a blog series looking at the players, coaches, broadcasters, and executives that will appear at the Phillies Winter Tour on January 13th at Woodlake Country Club. Remember, fans will have the chance to get their picture taken with the World Series trophy, and tickets are available by calling Steve Farago or Lisa Carone at 732-901-7000 ext 120 or 192.

The Staff

Dusty Wathan
Dusty Wathan was named the new manager of the Lakewood BlueClaws on December 16, 2008, replacing Steve Roadcap, who was promoted to manage the Double-A Reading Phillies after two years in Lakewood. He was basically a career minor leaguer who got five at-bats with the Kansas City Royals. After his playing career ended, Wathan went right into the manager’s seat with Williamsport last year and will be managing for a second year in 2009.

When Wathan was announced as manager, he sat down for a Q&A with BlueClaws Blog. You can read that here.

Greg Legg
The first manager in BlueClaws history, Legg returns to Lakewood after serving as the team’s hitting coach in 2008, his 28th year in the Phillies organization. Legg managed in the system from 1997-2007 before returning to Lakewood as the hitting coach in 2008.

An interesting Legg story, in 1994 he began his coaching career with Clearwater. But Kevin Jordan, playing for then-Triple-A affiliate Scranton Wilkes-Barre, broke his leg. So Legg put down the stopwatch and notebook and picked up a bat and glove to fill in for Jordan. He was back in the dugout in 1995.  

Hitting the Links

Saturday, January 10th, 2009

Couple of items of note…

Great article by John Manuel of Baseball America about the Phillies front office structure now that Pat Gillick has retired and Mike Arbuckle has moved on. Basically, while losing Gillick and Arbuckle is a tough blow, the farm system has been completely rebuilt and is in much better position now than it was when they got here.

ESPN.com makes some 2009 predictions.

Phillies LHP JC Romero was suspended 50 games for testing positive for an illegal over-the-counter supplement.

There’s a bunch of new stuff from the front page that might interest you:

Learn how your baseball team can play a game on the FirstEnergy Park field.

Here’s the group theme night schedule.

The BlueClaws Kids’ Club, perfect for your child, friend, brother/sister, nephew/niece, whoever, is a $150 value for just $19.95.

The Guests (Part 3)

Friday, January 9th, 2009

This is part three in a blog series looking at the players, coaches, and executives that will appear at the Phillies Winter Tour on January 13th at Woodlake Country Club. Remember, fans will have the chance to get their picture taken with the World Series trophy, and tickets are available by calling Steve Farago or Lisa Carone at 732-901-7000 ext 120 or 192.

The Player

JA Happ
Happ was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2004 draft out of Northwestern. He was with the BlueClaws in 2005, where he went 4-4 with a 2.36 ERA. Happ worked his way up to Triple-A in 2007, but had a 5.02 ERA, though during that year he made his big league debut on June 30th. Happ was back at Triple-A in 2008, but significantly improved his strikeouts, walks, hits allowed, and WHIP, and thus lowered his ERA to 3.60.

He is a viable option to be the Phillies 5th starter in 2009, and with lefty reliever JC Romero suspended for the first 50 games of the season, Happ could definately be in the mix for a spot on the Opening Day roster out of spring training.

How many Northwestern Wildcat alums have made the big leagues? Just 21. Notables include Yankees manager Joe Girardi and Dodgers 2b Mark Loretta.