Archive for December, 2009

If You Care About Such Things…

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

Today marks…

  • 50 days until major league pitchers and catchers (about 18 more or so until minor league pitchers and catchers)
  • 101 days until BlueClaws Opening Day in Asheville
  • 109 days until the BlueClaws raise the championship banner before the April 16th home opener against Greensboro

And the snow is melted. Of course, if you didn’t have a good breakfast you’re in danger of getting blown away. So it’s partially a mixed bag.

Q&A: Justin De Fratus

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

defratusWe had a chance to talk to 2009 BlueClaws pitcher Justin De Fratus earlier this week. De Fratus went 5-6, 3.19 with the BlueClaws this year, spending the first-half in the bullpen and second-half in the starting rotation. He turned 22 in October and is likely headed to Clearwater with manager Dusty Wathan and many of his BlueClaws teammates next year.

  • How do you feel after the oblique injury (which ended his season a week before the playoffs)…I feel great. I’ve done a lot of ab workouts, focusing on the injury to make sure it never happens again.
  • Watching the playoffs after you’d been such a key contributor all season…I wanted to be out there but at the same time you have to understand a career is bigger than a Single-A Championship…Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to win badly, and we did. It would have been harder if we didn’t win, but we did. It showed me how good, how deep that team was.
  • Off-season workout plan…I got home from Instructional League on October 3rd and still wanted to give my oblique some time, so I really started getting it going in the second week of November, when I started doing my running and workouts. I’ve thrown a few times but haven’t gotten too crazy with that. I will soon, after the start of the new year.
  • Starter or reliever…They haven’t told me either way. I think I’ve had success at both, and I don’t care to be honest. I just want to play in the big leagues. Whatever is going to get me to the big leagues faster is fine with me.
  • What did you think of the Halladay trade?…I didn’t think about it from an opportunity standpoint, but to me I lost two friends, especially d’Arnaud. He was with me every step of the way, from GCL to Williamsport to Lakewood. That was the toughest part for me, losing Travis. I’ll run into him again, and the game goes on. I’ll just do what I can do. Hopefully it works out.
  • If you face d’Arnaud, do you know how to get him out?…No. He owns me. I think he’s 3-3 off me, hit one off my hand, one off the wall, and a laser past the shortstop. We’ll see.
  • Plans for 2010, obviously likely Clearwater to start…The Phillies haven’t pointed me in the wrong direction at all. I’m going to trust what they want to do. If they feel a full year at Clearwater is what I need, then great. They’ll do the right thing by me and the organization.
  • Your championship ring…That’s going to be sweet. I’ll have that one on all the time.

New Year’s Eve

Monday, December 28th, 2009

2010-glassesOf course, New Year’s Eve means the dawning of a new

Buy generic levitra online

year, a new desk calendar, and some new glasses (like those at the right)…But in BlueClaws world it also means a few more things, especially some deadlines on big offers.

  • December 31st is the last day to take advantage of the following offer: Order your Bushel of BlueClaws ticket package (promo dates announced so far here) by New Year’s Eve and get a FREE $25 gift certificate (one per seat, not per order) to a Jack Baker’s area restaurant (such as the Lobster Shanty, Moore’s Tavern, or Escondido’s)…Order form here
  • December 31st is the last day to book a group and be eligible for a raffle to win four tickets to see the Phillies play next year at Citizens Bank Park…group info here
  • Ever wanted to be on a bowling team called the Alley Claws or Pinchy’s Pin Busters? Tbhe BlueClaws Bowling League (details here) begins the first weekend in January.

The BlueClaws front office will be open from 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Thursday of next week (through 5 pm on New Year’s Eve)…You can always reach us at 732-901-7000.

Definitive BlueClaws/Phillies Bowl Guide

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

bowlguideWho do you root for in all the bowl games if not your school or favorite team? We’ve compiled the definitive BlueClaws/Phillies Bowl Guide to help you. School affiliations, one way or another, for different former BlueClaws and members of the Phillies. I’m sure we missed some so feel free to jump in the comments…

New Mexico Bowl: Wyoming vs Fresno State (Steve Susdorf, 2009 LBC)…Wyoming won 35-28

Las Vegas Bowl: BYU vs Oregon State (Mike Stutes, 2008 LBC; Andrew Baldwin, 2005 LBC)…BYU won 44-20

12/24 Hawaii Bowl: Nevada vs SMU (Phillies broadcaster Scott Franzke)

12/26 Meineke Car Care Bowl: Pittsburgh (Nick Evangelista, 2004 LBC) vs North Carolina (Jason Knapp, 2009 LBC-committed to UNC but signed with the Phillies)

12/26 Emerald Bowl: USC (D’Arby Myers, 2008-09 LBC) vs Boston College (Kevin Shepard, 2004 LBC)

12/27 Music City Bowl: Clemson (Herm Demmink, 2007 LBC) vs Kentucky (Joe Blanton, Phillies)

12/28 Independence Bowl: Texas A&M vs Georgia (Jayson Werth, Phillies-committed to UGA but signed with Orioles)

12/29 EagleBank Bowl: Temple vs UCLA (Chase Utley, Phillies; Tyson Brummett, 2008 LBC)

12/29 Champs Sports Bowl: Wisconsin vs Miami (Domonic Brown, 2008 LBC-committed to play football here but signed with Phillies)

12/30 Humanitarian Bowl: Idaho vs Bowling Green (Andy Tracy, Phillies minor leaguer played with Lehigh Valley last year)

12/30 Holiday Bowl: Nebraska (Jacob Diekman, 2008-09 LBC-committed but signed with Phillies; Luke Wertz, 2009 LBC) vs Arizona (Jason Donald, 2007 LBC; Anthony Gose, 2009 LBC-committed but signed with Phillies)

12/31 Armed Forces Bowl: Houston vs Air Force (Karl Bolt, 2008 LBC)

12/31 Sun Bowl: Oklahoma (Will Savage, 2006 LBC; Greg Dobbs, Phillies) vs Stanford (Michael Taylor, 2008 LBC; Eric Bruntlett, with Phillies in 2009; John Mayberry, Jr, with Lehigh Valley and Phillies in 09)

1/1 Outback Bowl: Auburn (Javon Moran, 2004 LBC) vs Northwestern (JA Happ, 2005 LBC; Dan Brauer, 2006 LBC)

1/1 Capital One Bowl: LSU (Clay Harris, 2006 LBC; Brody Colvin, 2009 Phillies draft pick committed to LSU) vs Penn State (Phillies broadcaster Chris Wheeler)

1/2 International Bowl: South Florida vs Northern Illinois (Matt German, 2007 LBC)

1/2 PapaJohn.com Bowl: UConn vs South Carolina (Mike Cisco, 2008 LBC; Andrew Cruse, 2007 LBC; Aaron Rawl, 2005-06 LBC)

1/2 Cotton Bowl: Ole Miss (Cooper Osteen, 2006 LBC) vs Oklahoma State (John Urick, 2006 LBC; Jason Jaramillo, 2005 LBC)

1/5 Orange Bowl: Georgia Tech (Jeremy Slayden, 2006 LBC) vs Iowa (Harry Kalas, legendary Phillies broadcaster; Nathan Johnson, 2005 LBC)

1/7 BCS Championship Game: Texas vs Alabama (Austin Hyatt, 2009 LBC)

Happy Holidays

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

Be safe everyone.

happyholidaysblueclawssnowman

Roy Halladay Redux

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

It’s been a week since the big trade, one that sent several former BlueClaws (three in this deal, seven including the Cliff Lee deal from July). Obviously, Halladay is now a Phillie, as are three Seattle minor leaguers (that we find more about here).

So basically, what do we think of the trade?

Pros

  • Legitimate ace comes to Philly at basically $17 million per season (Toronto is paying $6 mil of 15 this year, then 20 per for three more)
  • While prospect hit was significant, the system is far from bare (see this excellent analysis from the folks at Phuture Phillies)
  • Roy Halladay is really good: from Phillies NationYou deserve to embrace the fact that the Phils just acquired a guy who had a 2.97 ERA in 112 innings last year against the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays, three of the top six offenses in baseball during that time.
  • From Jayson Stark: So while the Phillies still have bullpen issues to address, “I like this deal a lot for the Phillies, long-term and short-term,” said an AL scout. “They got the best pitcher in the game right now. And they got a couple of guys from Seattle [Aumont and Gillies] I’m surprised they could get.”

Cons

  • They had the horses to have Halladay and Lee on the same team, but were evidently uncomfortable with the additional salary that would have been required, and are building for the long term, rather than one massive run for glory.
  • If Halladay is great, how much better will he be than Lee?
  • Dave Murphy tweeted the following yesterday after the Javier Vazquez deal went down: Could set up an epic World Series pitching match-up: Sabathia-Vazquez-Burnett against Halladay-Lee-Hamels. . . .Wait, the Phils did what??

To us, Halladay is still better than Lee. He is a Hall of Famer. Lee has a lot of work to do there. You make the swap there without a problem. And even though you trade away some guys you don’t want to trade, the difference between Halladay for four years and Lee for one is some valuable prospects, and that’s how it worked out for the Phillies. We’re all operating under the assumption that having both together wasn’t an option, and signing Lee long term was not an option. So what’s the next best scenario? I think this is pretty darn good.

Thoughts?

Countdown 2010: Week Three

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

tenthseason22Welcome back to Countdown 2010, where we ask your help in building a series of top ten lists in advance of 2010, the 10th season in BlueClaws history. We’ll unveil these each week beginning in January and we’d love your help (you can answer using the comments section).

Week One: favorite moments, giveaway items, celebrity appearances (vote here)

Week Two: favorite food items, mascots/entertainers, former players (vote here)

Now, onto week three…

  • Moments by former BlueClaws in big leagues: Such as Cole Hamels winning World Series MVP last year, Gavin Floyd’s near no-hitter, etc…
  • Reasons why you come to a BlueClaws game: self explanatory

Thanks!

Javier Vazquez and the Phillies

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Today the Yankees acquired Javier Vazquez from the Braves, giving up only utility OF Melky Cabrera and, on the surface, weakening probably the second best team in the NL East.

Vazquez this past year went 15-10, 2.87 while Cabrera had a .716 OPS in a major hitters park. Keith Law of ESPN even voted Vazquez second on his NL Cy Young ballot.

I also considered the quality of opponents each pitcher faced — not just their slash stats, but my own scouting take on the teams they faced. The NL East had better offenses and better-quality hitters than the Central or the West, which boosted Vazquez to 2nd on my ballot where he might otherwise have been third.

How does this deal help the Phillies? Easy. You get a big time pitcher out of a division they already controlled strongly. The Braves blog Talking Chop assesses the move as a straight salary dump on the part of the Braves.

All of this salary conservation has led up to this final purge from the books, and now the team must make a move that brings a big bat here, and they should have the salary room to do so. Perhaps with $15 million to spend, they can aim higher than Johnny Damon or Xavier Nady, and zero in on Jason Bay or Matt Holliday. For some fans, that’s the only way the team will win them back after another tumultuous off-season of questionable moves.

So, the way we see it, good deal for the Phillies. Which brings us to an interesting tweet we received from a fan named Scott:

Think bigger. It’s not much of a break for Phils when they’d win the div anyway. It means Phils chances of winning WS are low.

So, thoughts from the gallery on this tweet? We say you’re too far away from analyzing potential World Series match-ups. Point well taken, but so much can happen that first you want to make the playoffs, then from there, let the chips fall where they may. At least as it stands now, the chances of making the playoffs have improved. Good day for the Phillies.

Breakfast With Buster Photos

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Another photo gallery…this one from our Breakfast with Buster Holiday Food and Toy Drive on Saturday. The BlueClaws and Salvation Army of Ocean County thank everyone for their support and for braving the snow, making it out to donate.

Also a special thanks to Manhattan Bagel of Brick for providing free bagels for everyone at the event.

buster-breakfast-09-019buster-breakfast-09-021buster-breakfast-09-022 (more…)

Some Snow Photos

Monday, December 21st, 2009

First off, thanks to the good folks at MiLB.com for making this picture their Photo of the Week.

Obviously, many of you have no idea what the ballpark can look like after a big snow storm. Here are a few photos. Enjoy!

picture-076

trophysnow350250snowseats350250 (more…)

Congrats to Lakewood Township

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

Congratulations to the good folks at Lakewood Township and the Lakewood Development Corporation. This week, they formally paid off the final bonds owed on FirstEnergy Park. Friday, we hosted a “Bond-fire.” From today’s Asbury Park Press…

The “bond” fire at the BlueClaws stadium on Friday was little more than a flame sputtering from a portable hibachi grill — perhaps a bit anticlimactic for the ceremonial end to the largest and longest-running public debt facing township economic development.

But, the point was made.

“(Twenty) million dollars . . . it burns fast,” Mayor Robert W. Singer said after dipping into the fire a scroll meant to represent that last bond owed to pay off the minor league ball field and promised commercial anchor of Lakewood.

The last payment, made Dec. 1, actually was about $1.8 million, with $20 million being the total cost, plus interest, of building the 6,588-seat park in 2000. After 10 years, it finally belongs to Lakewood.

Read the rest here

What Came Back to Philly?

Friday, December 18th, 2009

A lot was made about the prospects that were traded by the Phillies (Kyle Drabek, Travis d’Arnaud, Michael Taylor) in the Roy Halladay/Cliff Lee mega-deal earlier this week. But remember, the Phillies got three prospects in return from Seattle.

To analyze, we talked to Geoff Baker, who covers the Mariners for the Seattle Times (blog, Twitter). Let’s take a look…

Phillippe Aumont, RHP

  • 6-7, 20 year old Canadian with a big arm. He got David Wright on a shattered bat line drive, then struck out Kevin Youkilis and Curtis Granderson with the bases loaded in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
  • Baker says: They changed administrations and Jack Zduriencik thought he projected better as a reliever. They were persuaded at the WBC. Big body who can make big leagues quickly and be one of the better relievers in the game…They have a bunch of relievers though, and  couple of them had to go…He does power skating in the offseason. Big strong guy. He’s had some hip issues since he was a kid, probably because he’s so massive. But he manages to control it, takes medication at times. He does stretching exercises. He should be in the majors fairly soon.

JC Ramirez, RHP

  • Had a 5+ ERA in the California League last year but was near 7 at home and just 3.09 on the road. His park in High Desert is one of the best hitters parks in the country.
  • Baker says: Good fastball, plus slider, but a work in progress. He’s not as polished and he pitched in a big hitters park in High Desert (Cali League). Had one of the better arms in the system, I’m told.

Tyson Gillies, OF

  • Very fast outfielder hit .344 in the California League last year, stole 44 bases and had a .431 on-base percentage…Uses a hearing aid in both ears.
  • Baker says: He’s a speedy CF. His time out of the box is very quick. We saw him in spring training. He really impressed them with his speed and baserunning. But he’s blocked here for years with Franklin Gutierrez and he doesn’t have the power bat they are looking for to play the corner. He might be about a year or year and a half away.
  • Me: Sounds like Shane Victorino or Anthony Gose

All three of these guys are likely headed to Double-A Reading.

Michael Taylor to Oakland

Friday, December 18th, 2009

Worth a quick mention, an article from the San Jose Mercury News on new A’s OF Michael Taylor. Of everyone that got traded in the Halladay/Lee swap (and there were 9 players total), to us the biggest winners, by far, were Halladay (gets contract extension and pitches for a winner) and Taylor.

Now an Athletic, the soon-to-be 24-year-old (by soon we mean tomorrow) Taylor has a chance to step in and be the everyday leftfielder in Oakland, a chance he was not going to get in Philadelphia.

“We just think that not only is he a very good prospect and player now, he continues to get better each year,” A’s general manager Billy Beane said. “We think he’s a potential monster talent.”

That said, Taylor has played just 30 games in AAA, even though he’s hit .333 with 39 home runs between Lo-A and AAA over the last two seasons. So Michael, are you ready?

“You know, that’s a tough question, because I think every player thinks they’re ready,” Taylor said on a media conference call. “I think you don’t know until you’re put in that situation and get enough at-bats at that level. I’d like the opportunity sooner rather than later.”

Because of two trades this week, looks like he will.

It will be hard for any player to have a better half in Lo-A than Taylor did with the BlueClaws in 2008: .361-10-50 and 10 stolen bases. Probably the only player who’s come close is a pitcher: Cole Hamels, who went 6-1, 0.74 with the BlueClaws in 2003 as a pitcher.

Brett Wallace, who was traded to Toronto for Taylor, was originally drafted by St Louis and traded in July to Oakland in the Matt Holliday deal. So that makes three organizations in six months. Welcome to the pros.

More From Mark Parent

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

shore-sports2New BlueClaws manager Mark Parent was on with our buddies Joe and Mike over at the Shore Sports Report (website, Twitter) on Wednesday afternoon. You can hear them every weekday, 3pm – 6 pm, on 1160 WOBM-AM and Fox Sports 1310 (the BlueClaws radio home).

Anyway, here are some snippets from Parent…

  • Managing with a catcher’s background: You learn how to deal with different personalities, get the best out of them, like a car salesman. You sell what you need to get across, the Phillie way, make it a part of what they believe in and will be successful with. As a catcher, you deal with so many personalities. The shortstop goes and fields a groundball and hits. A catcher works on every hitter, 30 pitchers over the course of the season, and is always thinking a few innings ahead.
  • parent3aPhilosophy: Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect. Taking 100 ground balls while going through the motions is not going to make you better. Taking 15 or 20 with a purpose will make you successful. That’s something that Cal Ripken, Sr. instilled in me a long time ago.
  • Manager that influenced him: Larry Bowa. I came up in AAA with Larry and through the San Diego organization. The thing that always impressed me was that he was thinking two or three innings ahead and never got caught up in the rah-rah stuff. He never missed a pitch and always saw situations. He was a teacher, always had his players ready, and it always seemed to happen just the way he planned out.
  • Why return now: I got the itch…I watched my two kids grow up a little bit, they’re kind of getting tired of me. What I do is baseball, so here I am.
  • Balance between winning and development: Development is first and foremost. Each organization that I played for had their philosophies. None of them were that much different but they had their philosophies. You try to win the ballgame but the important thing is that they’re learning…get the guy over from 2nd to third with less than two outs…I wasn’t a very good player but I found my niche helping the team win when I played. You have to find a way to help the team when you’re in there.

And my favorite quote, when asked if he has aspirations to coach or manage in the big leagues…

  • “I tell the kids, the back of my baseball card is full. We’re doing this to develop you.”