Archive for February, 2009

70 in 70: Number 44

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

HatsJust 44 days to go until the BlueClaws 2009 opener. Did you know, there are 44, at last count, different BlueClaws hats available in our ClawsCove? That does not count the dozens of hats representing other teams, both Major and Minor League. There you go. 44 hats. See some here. That’s a lot.

Some Notes on Former BlueClaws

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

We mentioned the big three starters of the 2006 BlueClaws SAL title team in a post the other day. Let’s look at some other

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former BlueClaws around baseball. Some good news, some not so much.

We’ll start in Oakland with Adrian Cardenas (BlueClaws 2007). He was acquired along with Josh Outman in the Joe Blanton trade in July. Lisa Winston of MLB.com catches up with Cardenas, now at his first big league camp in Arizona. It’s a great story, because Cardenas didn’t grow up, like so many others, with baseball as the focus of his life.

“To this day, my parents don’t know anything about baseball. The only reason I’m playing is because I worked so hard at it, not because I had some psycho father or mother bombarding me with demands to get out there and play,” recalled Cardenas, who grew up in Miami. “They were more like that with piano and that’s where I learned discipline. There were many times I wanted to quit and they made me stick with it.”

Winston also writes about former BlueClaw Scott Mitchinson (2006-07), now with the Athletics.

Mitchinson, who was acquired in the Minor League portion of the Rule 5 draft, December 2007, went 5-3 with a 1.74 ERA with Kane County in the Midwest League. He’ll be given a shot to reach Double-A this year with the Athletics. In 2004, Mitchinson won the Paul Owens Award as the Phillies Minor League pitcher of the year. He went 7-0 with 60 Ks and 1 BB with the GCL Phillies.

He’s always had talent, it’s a matter of staying healthy. We wish him luck.

Drew Naylor (2008) and Joel Naughton (2007-08), both in big league camp with the Phillies, could be a battery combination, as they were in Queensland and Lakewood, for Australia in the World Baseball Classic.

That would be neat.

StutesPhillies Director of Minor Leagues Steve Noworyta tells Baseball America that 2008 BlueClaws pitchers and Phillies draft picks Vance Worley and Michael Stutes (pictured) both have a chance to start the year in Double-A.

“A lot will be determined by what they did in the offseason, how they come into camp, and how they pitch this spring,” he said.

Worley was a Phillies draft pick in 2005, but he went to Long Beach State before the Phils got him again in last year’s third round. Stutes won two national titles at Oregon State and was a ninth round pick.

Two former BlueClaws were released this week. The Phillies said goodbye to Welinson Baez (2006-07), who was a former third baseman they tried to convert to a pitcher. The Twins released Bobby Korecky (2002), who appeared in 16 games with the Twins last year.

70 in 70: Number 45

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Just 45 days to go until the BlueClaws opener, but 4/5 (April 5th) is a very special day at Citizens Bank Park, as the Phillies will raise their 2008 World Series Championship banner. It’s a Sunday night game against the Atlanta Braves, and Cole Hamels (BlueClaws 2003) will get the start for the Phils.

Meanwhile, recovering second baseman Chase Utley, who had offseason hip surgery, hopes to be ready to go. If not, Jason Donald (BlueClaws 2007), a non-roster invitee to spring training, will have a chance to make the team, as will Brad Harman (BlueClaws 2005) and Eric Bruntlett.

Basic point being…Opening Day is coming soon.

Video of the Week

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

Hey look, they’re playing baseball.

Baseball Prospectus Top 100

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

Last week, Baseball Prospectus came out with their annual top 100 prospect list, featuring several former BlueClaws.

  • 43. Carlos Carrasco (2006), RHP, Phillies
  • 55. Michael Taylor (2008), OF, Phillies
  • 92. Kyle Drabek (2007), RHP, Phillies
  • 93. Adrian Cardenas (2007), SS, Athletics

Just goes to show how subjective these lists can be. Dominic Brown is in the top 50 of the lists put out by the writers at Baseball America, but he can’t crack the top three Phillies prospects per Baseball Prospectus.

A few others of note…

  • 2. David Price, LHP, Rays, Phillies saw him in the World Series
  • 13. Tommy Hanson, RHP, Braves, Phillies will see a lot of him real soon…Braves refused to include in trade for Jake Peavy
  • 30. Matt LaPorta, 1B, Indians, traded from Brewers for CC Sabathia
  • 38. Jesus Montero, C, Yankees, top Yankees prospect
  • 45. Fernando Martinez, OF, Mets, top Mets prospect
  • 72. Jeremy Jeffress, RHP, Brewers, hit 100 on FirstEnergy Park radar gun in 2007
  • 83. Nick Weglarz, OF, Indians, hit home run over Coors Light WRAT Trap in 2007
  • 85. Jeff Samardzija, RHP, Cubs, former Notre Dame receiver
  • 86. Todd Frazier, SS, Reds, Toms River native, played at Rutgers

70 in 70: Number 46

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

Just 46 days to go until the BlueClaws 2009 opener on April 9th, a few less days than that for the Phillies opener on April 5th, and that’s where we land for today’s 70 in 70 update.

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: 155px; height: 119px” height=”119″ src=”http://www.chrisoleary.com/projects/Baseball/Pitching/Images/Examples/Example_Grip_CircleChange_JamieMoyer_002.jpg” width=”155″ align=”right” />Jamie Moyer, Phillies starting pitcher, is 46 years old, and pitching in the first year of a two-year agreement signed this offseason with the Phillies. Cole Hamels, who was on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week, was six months old when Moyer made his professional debut in 1984.

Here’s a great article from the New York Times which talks about the relationship between Moyer and former BlueClaws manager Steve Roadcap in the early 90s at the lower levels of the Chicago Cubs organization. The Cubs released Moyer from their minor league camp and tried to keep him on as Roadcap’s bullpen coach in Peoria. Moyer was 29 and felt he had more baseball left in him. He was right.

Larry Stone of the Seattle Times caught up with Moyer this week in Clearwater, and asked him about possibly pitching at age 50.

“Oh, I don’t know. I’m closer to 50 than I am 40,” said Moyer. “But a lot has to happen, a lot of things have to go the right way for that to happen. My feeling is, I’m going to take this year and enjoy it.”

Re-signing Moyer was one of the top priorities of GM Ruben Amaro in his first offseason, and while it looked iffy at times, they got the deal done before the Winter Meetings in December.

“I’m sure if you ask Jamie, he’ll say that he will play out a few more contracts,” Amaro said at the time. “I know on paper it probably says this is his last contract, but it will be fun to see how it plays out.”

’06 Big Three in Mix for Jobs Around Baseball

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

As a follow-up to the previous post, let’s look at some former BlueClaws in the mix for jobs around Major League Baseball. Carlos Carrasco (Phillies), Josh Outman (A’s) and Matt Maloney (Reds), the cornerstones of the BlueClaws 2006 SAL title team, are all in camp battles for fifth starter jobs with their respective clubs.

Carrasco, who turns 22 in March, is probably the longest shot on the board in the Phillies battle. JA Happ (BlueClaws ’05), Kyle Kendrick (’04-’06) and Chan-Ho Park all have more experience and the Phillies would like Carrasco to get a full season in at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, or at least a half-season to go with the six starts he made there last year.

We spoke with David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News last week and he thought Happ was the slight favorite.

Here’s a great article on Outman, 24, who was acquired by the A’s (along with Adrian Cardenas) in the Joe Blanton trade in July.

“His location, for as hard as he throws, is impressive,” Curt Young, the A’s pitching coach, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “With the stuff he has, he has the potential to be a No. 2 or No. 3 starter in the big leagues.”

According to this blog post, courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle, Outman is in the mix for the fifth starter spot in Oakland along with Gio Gonzalez, a former Phillie, Edgar Gonzalez and Jerome Williams. Gonzalez (7) and Outman (12) are among the best prospects in what Baseball America ranked the 3rd best system in baseball.

Gonzalez is considered the better prospect by most, but Outman did get a big league call-up at the end of last year. Impossible to make the call this early. We’ll have to wait for the games to start.

Maloney, who just turned 25, went 11-5 in AAA Louisville last year, but had a high ERA of 4.68. This article indicates Maloney is in the mix, but lists him with a whopping 10 other candidates, some of whom have significant big league experience (Micah Owings) or higher prospect status (Homer Bailey). Maloney would be a big surprise if he won the job out of camp. He’s probably headed back to Louisville.

Maloney, who threw a complete game shutout to clinch the SAL title in 2006, was traded in 2007 to the Reds for Kyle Lohse.

70 in 70: Number 47

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

BlueClaws champsJust 47 days to go until Opening Day 2009 (you know what they say about time flying and Opening Day). Anyway, let’s go back to 2006, the year the BlueClaws won the South Atlantic League title. It was a tremendous second half that pushed them to that point, a second half which saw them win (you guessed it) 47 games, against just 23 losses, and win the Northern Division by 10.5 games.

What was your favorite part of that team?

Here are the stats from the 2006 BlueClaws.

Led by Carlos Carrasco (now competing for the 5th starter spot with the Phillies), Josh Outman (same for the A’s), and Matt Maloney (same for the Reds), the superior pitching carried them to playoff series wins over Lexington and then Augusta in the finals.

What stands out? Well, each one had a sub-3 ERA. Each one struck out a batter per inning. And each one allowed less than seven hits per nine innings. Not bad. No surprise they all have a chance to make a big league roster this year.

Part one of our Minor League Memories series looked back at that year from the perspective of the staff.

A Closer Look: Joel Naughton

Friday, February 20th, 2009

NaughtonBefore Spring Training, we had a chance to catch up with Joel Naughton, a BlueClaws catcher in 2007 and 2008, who is in big league camp with the Phillies after being added to the team’s 40-man roster in November.

“Shocked,” said Naughton, when asked for his response after being told he was added to the 40-man roster. Since he had played four years with the Phillies, he was eligible for the Rule-5 Draft in December, until the Phillies protected him by putting him on the 40-man roster.

“It gave me a huge booster leading up to Spring Training,” he added.

Naughton is a native of Australia, so when he goes home after the American season, he walks right into summer in the Southern Hemisphere.

“I took about 2-3 weeks off with no activity,” he said. “Then I started training to build back up to play. Once I was ready, I played games about three days a week.”

He said he started playing baseball in Australia at age 10. “A friend brought over two gloves and we started playing catch. It all went from there.”

2008 was Naughton’s second year in Lakewood. “I was disappointed in part but I was pleased I was going to be the starter. I was able to share my experience to help some of the younger guys.”

Naughton had a fine year himself, earning an All-Star Game appearance, and hitting .275, up 16 points from the year before.

70 in 70: Number 48

Friday, February 20th, 2009

Just 48 days, less that seven weeks, to go until the BlueClaws 2009 opener on April 9th.

Today we look at the BlueClaws autograph signers. You can see the entire list at this link. Four on the list (Steve Carlton, Bob Feller, Jim Rice, and Goose Gossage) are in the Baseball Hall of Fame, or in Rice’s case, will be inducted this year.

Last month, the BlueClaws invited four potential Hall of Famers (Jack Morris, Bert Blyleven, Lee Smith, and Andre Dawson) out to the ballpark to sign autographs. Both Gossage and Rice were inducted after signing here in Lakewood.

This year’s signers include Hacksaw Jim Duggan on June 20th (County Line Hardware) and Darryl Strawberry on August 1st, which is Autism Awareness Night.

Cole Hamels Graces SI Cover

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

Cole Hamels, Baseball, Philadelphia PhilliesFormer BlueClaw Cole Hamels is on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week.

The left-handed pitcher, who was in Lakewood in 2003, is the first former BlueClaws player to be featured on the cover of the nation’s most famous sports magazine. There have been Phillies cover stories, including the most recent playoffs, and Carlos Ruiz (2001) was on the cover a couple of times in an action shot. However, those stories were about the Phillies in general. This story is about Cole Hamels himself.

For a complete SI cover database, click here.

70 in 70: Number 49

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

No doubt as to this one…Opening Day, April 9th (4/9), just 49 days away, as 70 in 70 rolls on to the 2009 opener.

The ninth BlueClaws season begins with the gates opening at 5:30 and the first pitch of the season following at 6:35. The BlueClaws will meet the Delmarva Shroebirds (Orioles) for the first of 11 times at FirstEnergy Park and 18 meetings overall.

The World Series trophy will be in attendance that day, as part of the Phillies’ World Series Trophy Tour, presented by Comcast SportsNet and Teva Pharmaceuticals. Fans will have the chance to take pictures with the trophy through the seventh-inning stretch. Learn more about the World Series trophy from our Winter Tour preview here.

In addition, the first 5,000 fans will receive BlueClaws magnet schedules, courtesy of Pine Belt Chevrolet.

Kids Eat Free all yearNo banner raising ceremony this year, but it is the debut of the BlueClaws’ Kids Eat Free program, announced on Tuesday. All children ages 12 and under will eat for free at every BlueClaws 2009 home game.

That’s what’s on-tap so far for Opening Day, 4/9, coming up, in 49 days.

Hitting the Links

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

Haven’t done this in awhile…

The BlueClaws, along with the Trenton Thunder, announced Tuesday that all children, ages 12 and under, will eat for free at every home game for both clubs in 2009.

Tony Graham has the story in the Asbury Park Press.

BlueClaws GM Geoff Brown talked with top sports blog Deadspin about the promotion.

At Home with the BlueClaws, courtesy of Ben Hill of MiLB.com.

The Phillies held their first full squad workout on Tuesday. New Phillies OF Raul Ibanez reflects on Alex Rodriguez’s steroid admission. The two played together in Seattle.

Mets OF Carlos Beltran agrees with their new closer, Francisco Rodriguez, that the Mets, not the Phillies, are the team to beat in the NL East.

70 in 70: Number 50

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

Business at BallparkOur 70 in 70 countdown rolls on. Just 50 days to go until the opener, the perfect chance to talk about our Business at the Ballpark promotion, which returns in 2009.

Each package comes with 50 tickets to eight different BlueClaws games. At each game selected, the business can set up a display table and hand out items of interest to the thousands of BlueClaws fans in attendance that night.

For more information, click here, or call 732-901-7000 x 113 and talk to Mike Van Hise.