Archive for February, 2009

Saturday Spring Training Notes

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

Some early spring baseball notes…

Jason Donald (BlueClaws 2007) is 0-6 in three games, but has reportedly played well at third. He’s back in the lineup today against Tampa Bay. With Pedro Feliz iffy to be ready for the opener, Donald is getting a long look at third and second.

Not a good day yesterday for Andrew Carpenter, who faced six batters and didn’t get an out. Antonio Bastardo (2007) gave up a run in two innings and Sergio Escalona (2007-08) gave up four runs while getting four outs. Recap here. The Phillies are an insignificant 0-3 so far.

In the same game, Matt Maloney (2006), now with the Reds, gave up two runs including a home run to Pablo Ozuna.

Adrian Cardenas (2007) went 2-2 for the A’s yesterday in the Cactus League.

Kyle Kendrick (2004-06) and Drew Naylor (2008) throw today for the Phillies against Tampa Bay. Kendrick is next up in the fifth-starter battle. Carlos Carrasco and JA Happ each started strong with two shutout innings. Chan-Ho Park throws tomorrow.

With Indians OF Grady Sizemore nursing a sore groin, Phillies OF Shane Victorino will replace him in the World Baseball Classic.

Saturday Notes: BlueClaws

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

Here are some items of note for you…

Those of you who are our friends on Face

buy cheap cialis

book have received an e-invitation to next Saturday’s FanFest at FirstEnergy Park. Those of you who are not our friends on Facebook are of course also welcome to the event, at which individual game tickets will go on sale and each will be $1 off. Fans can win a spot in an on-field promo during the season, play broadcaster in the press box, and much more.

All the details can be found here. This week, we’ll have a preview, including an interview with the event’s coordinators.

On BlueClaws.com we’ve put up a couple of new pages that are worth bookmarking. One is a calendar of upcoming events, both involving the BlueClaws and the Phillies (such as the reporting dates for minor leaguers). Another is a “What’s New” page, where we link to the new stuff that comes up on BlueClaws.com.

Anybody interested in a FlexiBushel (details here), where you can get seven undated tickets at value pricing, should know that through March 7th, the package comes with a $25 gift certificate to one of six Jack Baker’s area restaurants. So you have a week. Here’s the order form. Or you can get them online here.

There is a poll up on MiLB.com (right side of the page) asking fans for their favorite new promotion in 2009, and Kids Eat Free in Jersey, as I type, leads with 46% of the vote.

That’s it for now. Back in a few.

70 in 70: Number 40

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

Just 40 days to go until Opening Day, and fortunately in baseball, we have a great designation. It’s called the 40-man roster.

From Wikipedia: The 40-man roster comprises all of the players on the 25-man roster, plus anyone who is on the 15-day disabled list, and contracted players on “optional assignment” in the minor leagues.

The important difference between the 25-man roster and 40-man roster is obviously that the 25-man roster members are the active players on gameday. The others are either in the minors or on the disabled list.

But what then is the importance of the 40-man roster? It comes later in the calendar year. Players, after being drafted, have three or four years of exemption (depending on if they were drafted out of college or high school / signed as a free agent). After that period, if they are not on the 40-man roster, they are eligible to be selected in the Rule-5 Draft at the Winter Meetings. It was through this process the Phillies acquired Shane Victorino.

The BlueClaws have several former players (13) on the 40-man roster of the Phillies, including recent additions Joel Naughton, Sergio Escalona and Drew Naylor. Ex-BlueClaws on other rosters include Gavin Floyd (White Sox), Matt Maloney (Reds) and Josh Outman (A’s).

Dave Schofield from Spring Training

Friday, February 27th, 2009

Spring Training LogoBlueClaws team photographer Dave Schofield checks in on his way down to Clearwater.

Hello again from the road. This is Dave Schofield, BlueClaws team photographer. I am making my way down to Florida for another spring training, and each mile I drive, the weather gets warmer and more baseball like. My first stop will be in Loganville, Georgia where I will get to spend a couple of days with my daughter and her husband. It is a bit our of the way, but the chance to visit with them on the way down was too good to pass up. 

Again this year I will be doing the posed headshots of all the Yankees and Phillies minor leaguers. I have added Reading to the list of Phils minor league teams I will be photographing. Again I will do headshots for the New Hampshire Fishercats of the Eastern League. During my time in Florida I will shoot three World Baseball Classic warmup games, I have Phillies v Canada, Phillies v. USA and Tigers v Puerto Rico. I am looking forward to the Tigers/PR game since it will bring Bernie Williams back into action. 

As for the major league games I will be shooting, they should be a lot of fun, since most of the stars will be with their respective WBC teams. This will give some prospects a chance to play with the big club in spring training games. The minor leaguers will not start playing games until March 21, since the season starts a bit later this year. 

Well I am looking forward to providing Blog readers with some interesting tid bits from spring training. I will submit my blog from time to time and also put some photos of former and future BlueClaws up as well. 

As I get warmer and warmer I will think of you in NJ getting colder…ha ha…more from spring training on Thursday!  

 

 

 

70 in 70: Number 41

Friday, February 27th, 2009

Inside of six weeks to go until the BlueClaws opener on April 9th. Today’s 70 in 70 item looks back at what was just a fun, great day (they’re all like that but this more so) back in May of 2007. Number 41 refers to the number of media members on hand on Wednesday May 23rd, 2007 at FirstEnergy Park to see Ryan Howard rehab with the BlueClaws.

Howard went on the disabled list about two weeks prior, and we saw that he would be eligible to come off on Friday the 25th. So we went to the schedules, and saw that in the days leading up to his anticipated return, both AA-Reading and AAA-Ottawa would be on the road. We put two and two together, and later received confirmation that Howard would be coming to Lakewood.

As you’re aware, 41 media members is a lot of media members. We had to set up tables for some on the concourse. But it all worked out on that end and Howard hit a home run to boot.

The Hagerstown pitcher, Yunior Novoa, struck out Howard in the 5th inning, and he spun around and pumped his fist, showing up, and maddening, Howard. When Howard came up in the seventh, he responded with his bat.

“He just jumped in “He just jumped right in and was part of the team just like us,” said shortstop Jason Donald.

All told, the BlueClaws had over 17,000 fans on the two days and that pushed them towards the 3-million mark reached in July of 2007.

Could the push for 4-million fans begin with a rehab assignment? Chase Utley may or may not be ready for Opening Day…

Good Start for Carrasco and Happ

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

Charlie Manuel dropped the green flag today on the race to be the Phillies fifth-starter, and Carlos Carrasco and JA Happ each responded very well. Each pitcher threw two shutout innings this afternoon in Clearwater, though the Phillies dropped a 6-2 decision to Toronto.

Carrasco, considered a longshot due to his lack of experience (he’s only made six starts above Double-A), retired all six batters he faced, three via strikeout. Happ allowed just one hit and retired the other six that he faced.

“It’s amazing to see these two kids go back to back,” catcher Carlos Ruiz said. “They were very impressive.”

 - Jason Donald went 0-3 but reportedly made a few sharp plays at third.

Bobbling to the Ballpark

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

BobbleheadsBig day here in Lakewood. We’ve confirmed our four bobblehead dolls that will be given away during the 2009 season. We’re looking at a Phillies-centric list here this year, of course, with the parent club having won the World Series in 2008. But most exciting to us is the continuation of the “Made the Phillies” series, with Lou Marson and JA Happ.

  • June 9th, Lou Marson “Made the Phillies,” Smart Carpet and Flooring
  • June 15th, Charlie Manuel “World Series Champions,” American Red Cross
  • June 30th, JA Happ “Made the Phillies,” Verizon Wireless
  • July 16th, Cole Hamels World Series MVP Bobbleheads, RE/MAX of New Jersey

There you go. Individual game tickets go on sale at FanFest on March 7th, 12 noon.

Keep on bobbling. Below the fold, by the way, is a list of everyone who has been bobbled in BlueClaws history.

(more…)

70 in 70: Number 42

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

Six weeks from today, the BlueClaws will open their 2009 season against the Delmarva Shorebirds. We’re 42 days away from baseball at the Shore, and 42 is the number of combined wins in the championship year of 2006 for the BlueClaws big three: Carlos Carrasco, Matt Maloney, and Josh Outman.

They combined to go 42-21 that year, with each finishing with a sub-3 ERA, putting them all in the top five in the South Atlantic League. Maloney was named pitcher of the year, having led the league in both wins and strikeouts. In the latter category, Outman was second and Carrasco third.

While some BlueClaws fans hoped that they would form a strong core, along with Cole Hamels, in the Phillies rotation beginning around this year or next, Outman and Maloney have since been traded, bringing back pieces that helped the Phillies make the playoffs in 2007 (Kyle Lohse, Maloney) and win the World Series in 2008 (Joe Blanton, Outman).

Outman started the Cactus League opener for the Athletics yesterday, throwing two shutout innings. He’s in the mix for the A’s fifth-starter job. (AP Photo)

“I want my command to settle in right away,” Outman said in the San Francisco Chronicle. “Bob Geren said what they’re looking for the pitchers to do is throw strikes, and that’s what I want to do. I know I can compete at this level, but throwing enough strikes has been an issue at times.”

Maloney is part of the battle for the fifth-starter job with the Reds, though appears to be a longshot.

Finally, Carrasco will pitch later today for the Phillies against Toronto in Clearwater as the Phillies fifth-starter competition gets underway.

Good luck to all three.

Phillies Lose, Tomorrow More Interesting

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

The Phillies have lost what is probably the least important game of the year. They dropped the Spring Training opener today to Pittsburgh 8-2 in Bradenton. Tomorrow is a far more relevant.

Why? Because the battle for the fifth-starter’s job gets underway with Carlos Carrasco and JA Happ each scheduled to pitch against Toronto in Clearwater. Kyle Kendrick, also in the competition, goes Saturday and Chan-Ho Park throws Sunday. It’s these four for one spot. Should be interesting.

Pitching coach Rich Dubee made it clear that “getting my work in” would not be a viable exucse for these four. The evaluation period begins tomorrow.  

 - Today, from a past-BlueClaws perspective, Jason Donald went 0-1 with a walk while Jeremy Slayden went 2-2. Joe Bisenius gave up four runs in the fourth and took the loss.

 - Mike Zagurski signed a one-year deal, believed to be for the $400,000 league minimum.

 - The most interesting thing to happen today was that Jimmy Rollins got lost on the way to the ballpark. I’m sure he’s got the GPS, might as well use it, right?

Guest Blogger: LeAnn of Brick

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Here’s part one of our guest blogger series. If you want to participate, feel free! Just email me at ggiombarrese@blueclaws.com with your favorite BlueClaws story. Whether it be your favorite game, your favorite player(s), your thoughts on the 2009 Phillies, the World Baseball Classic, or anything else. Submit an entry, and we’ll give you a free three-month subscription to PhillyBaseballNews.com (a $24.95 value), a great Phillies fan site. Here’s our first entry, thanks to LeAnn of Brick.

We love the BlueClaws.  My children are 12 and 13 and going to a BlueClaws game is their favorite thing to do.  They love the coaches, the players and the workers at the stadium.  We have friends that introduced us to the BlueClaws several years ago, Sue and Heather, they are the biggest fans ever!  We enjoy going to the games and spending time with them. 
 

We also visited PA last year to attend an Iron PigsGame, we visit Clearwater and we always make it to Citizen’s Park for a game or two during the season.  Just bought tickets to the “on deck” game in April.  The players are some of the nicest guys you could ever meet in your life.  They love the game and they love their fans! 
 

We can’t wait for Opening Day on April 9th–counting down the days! 

Happy Opening Day, sort of

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Spring TrainingIt’s Opening Day, but the boring one. The Phillies open up their Grapefruit League schedule this afternoon against the Pittsburgh Pirates, with the first pitch in Bradenton at 1:05. Here are a few Phillies notes as we head into the Spring Training Schedule.

The Lineup
1. Jimmy Rollins SS
2. Shane Victorino CF
3. Raul Ibanez LF
4. Ryan Howard 1B
5. Geoff Jenkins RF
6. Matt Stairs DH
7. Jason Donald 2B
8. Eric Bruntlett 3B
9. Chris Coste C

Jamie Moyer and Joe Blanton will each throw about 40 pitches.

- Donald gets the first shot, which is probably insignificant, at second base, open at least temporarily, until Chase Utley returns. Utley continues to be optimistic he’ll be ready for Opening Day. This and the fifth starter race are the main things to follow in camp.

- Carlos Carrasco and JA Happ will pitch tomorrow against Toronto, Kyle Kendrick on Saturday against Tampa Bay, and Chan-Ho Park on Sunday against Atlanta. These four fight for the fifth-starter’s job.

- Philadelphia Daily News writer David Murphy on 2008 first-round pick Anthony Hewitt: “2008 first-round draft pick Anthony Hewitt might hit the ball as hard as anybody in camp. The ball just explodes off his bat. It’s pretty amazing to watch and consider that he is still a teenager. That said, don’t expect to see him in the big leagues any time soon. He is very much a project. Still, it is fun to watch him take batting practice.”

Hewitt could be in Lakewood in 2009.

- Murphy on two former BlueClaws: “Sergio Escalona and Antonio Bastardo are two guys I’m looking forward to seeing in action. Neither are likely to make the team. But both have had flashes of brilliance in the minors.”

70 in 70: Number 43

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Our 70 in 70 feature continues today, and we’re just 43 days, a day over six weeks, from the BlueClaws opener on April 9th. A couple of weeks back, MLB.com surveyed several scouts from various organizations and built a top-50 prospect list, a list which featured a pair of former BlueClaws.

At #43 was Lou Marson, a BlueClaws catcher in 2006. At this link, you’ll get a nice video analysis of Marson. Here’s what Phillies manager Charlie Manuel had to say about the young backstop.

  • “I saw him when he was a rookie. When he first signed, he was 17 years old out of Arizona. I liked him then and he’s going to be a good player. He’s got big hands and he can throw and he can handle the mitt. There’s no reason why he can’t be a good catcher.”

Also on the list was Carlos Carrasco, who came in at 28th. Here’s the video, and here is what Phillies Director of Minor Leagues Steve Noworyta had to say about Carrasco.

  • “He’s special. The maturity factor is the biggest thing.”

70 in 70 rolls on tomorrow.

World Baseball Classic Final Rosters

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

The active rosters have been announced for the upcoming World Baseball Classic with seven former BlueClaws ready to go.

  • Australia: Drew Naylor (RHP, 2006), Joel Naughton (C, 2007-08), Brad Harman (IF, 2005)
  • Italy: Jack Santora (IF, 2003)
  • Panama: Carlos Ruiz (C, 2001), Avelino Asprilla (IF, 2006)
  • Venezuela: Victor Moreno (RHP, 2002)

Other former ‘Claws who were on provisional rosters but not final rosters include LHP RJ Swindle (Canada, 2006), RHP Scott Mitchinson (Australia, 2006-07), RHP Carlos Carrasco (Venezuela, 2006) and OF Mike Spidale (Italy, 2006).

Carrasco is in the mix for the Phillies fifth-starter’s job and pulled his name out a few days ago.  

Ryan Howard (2002) and Cole Hamels (2003) decided not to compete before the provisional rosters were announced. Here is the US roster. Hamels would have either been the lead or second starter along with Jake Peavy. In Howard’s absence, Kevin Youkilis will play first base for the Americans. I assume Derek Jeter will start at short but with Jimmy Rollins there, there will be some discussion, at least in the media and among fans, if not with the staff.

In addition to those mentioned above, the other Phillies listed are JC Romero (who is suspended for the first 50 games of the regular season) will pitch for Puerto Rico and Matt Stairs will play for Canada.

Class Shines Through

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

We’ve told you here in this space about the invitation the BlueClaws sent out to four potential Hall of Famers. In all honesty, we try to be honest where possible here at BlueClaws Blog ;) ,we didn’t expect a big response. After we sent out the release, we followed up with letters to the current club headquarters and spring training facilities with each player.

So we sent these letters out, and that was pretty much the end of it.

So I’m sitting at the office the other day, and the mail comes. I get all the newspapers, dailies and weeklies, Baseball America, Sports Business Journal and the like. I never get any letters. But on this day I got a letter.

It was from Bert Blyleven. He took the time to send over a hand-written note thanking us for the opportunity to come to FirstEnergy Park. He won’t be able to make it (he has a full schedule broadcasting the Minnesota Twins), but he certainly did not have to send a hand-written note. It caught me completely off-guard.

So Mr. Blyleven, if you read this, we’re sorry you can’t make it this year. But thanks so much for getting back to us. And here’s to hoping that you get a free trip to Cooperstown in July, 2010. Thanks.