Archive for December, 2009

BlueClaws Year in Review

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

blueclaws2009Our buddies at MiLB.com are putting out their annual MiLBY’s this week, for best performances (take a look here). So before you put up a new calendar, let’s take a look back at 2009 and pass out some hardware, BlueClaws-style!

Willie Mays Hayes Award
Anthony Gose, OF…the 2nd year pro stole 76 bases to lead all of professional baseball. He also obliterated the BlueClaws team record of 59, set six years ago by Chris Roberson. The fan favorite certainly did a good job mimicking the man who he described as his favorite player, and was an easy choice for this award.

Kyra Sedgwick Award
BJ Rosenberg, RHP…for best closer…Rosenberg had a 0.89 ERA (and was 7-2) before an August promotion to Reading. He did not allow an earned run over his last 28.2 innings with the BlueClaws, and is likely the only candidate who could win a MiLBY (in the not as creative “Best Reliever” category).

What the Heck Was That Game Award
August 27th, 2009…This would be the strangest, by far, game of the 2009 season. The BlueClaws scored four unearned runs in the first inning at Hagerstown, led comfortably into the 4th, when the lights went out, causing a 22 minute delay (and legitimately threatening completion). Eventually, of course, they came back on. In this game, Trevor May gave up three hits over five innings, but walked six. In this game, Troy Hanzawa, getting a day off, entered the game in the bottom of the 1st when Harold Garcia was ejected. In this game, Jordan Ellis allowed a run over two innings (8th/9th) on no hits, three walks, two hit batsman, and four wild pitches. Lakewood won the game 7-2. O, and Vladimir de los Santos came up to the plate with a broken bat (which he realized was broken when, ready to hit, he tapped the bat on the plate). All in a good 3 hours and 10 minutes.

Jeanmar Gomez Award
Jason Knapp, RHP…Gomez won the MiLBY for best performance of the year (he threw a perfect game at Trenton). Knapp gets the Gomez Award for his performance on April 21st, when he threw seven shutout innings, on hit, one walk, 14 strikeouts. Unfortunately, he left in a 0-0 game and Lakewood lost 2-0. But Knapp was unhittable. 14 strikeouts tied Robinson Tejeda (2001) for the single-game franchise record.

Gorm Heimueller Award
Jesus Sanchez, RHP…Gorm is the Phillies minor league pitching coordinator and was behind the conversion of Jesus Sanchez from .206 hitter and catcher to 10-6, 3.44 pitcher. Sanchez went 9-2 from the second week of June with a 2.4 ERA, earning a spot on the 40-man roster in one of the biggest surprises / great stories of the 2009 season. Remember, Easter Sunday, the fourth game of the year, he didn’t get out of the first inning against Delmarva, and had a 5+ ERA in mid-May.

Dan Quisenberry Award
Jacob Diekman, LHP…for pitching sidearm…Diekman, in the first half of the season, threw overhand and had a 7.09 ERA. But at the break, he decided to switch to sidearm, and saved his season, maybe his career. He had a 1.24 ERA after the break, and opponents hit .186 against him (compared to .333 in the first half). He only allowed one earned run in his first 22 innings as a sidearm pitcher.

Jim Brown Award
Steve Susdorf, OF…not here that long, but he made it count…Susdorf hit .333 with the BlueClaws from Memorial Day through the end of the first half, hitting safely in 15 of the 21 games he played with Lakewood. He was then promoted to Clearwater and ended the year with Reading. While he was only here for a month, hitting coach Greg Legg said that they might not win the first half without him, a half they ended up winning by six games.

Better Late Than Never Award
Trevor May, RHP & Matthew Way, LHP…Neither one was with the BlueClaws when the season opened (Way was still in college at Washington State), but these were certainly two of the biggest reasons the team had the success it did in the playoffs. May only allowed three earned runs in his last 36 innings while Way went 4-1, 3.11 with the BlueClaws after an August promotion from Williamsport. He threw seven great innings in the game one division series win at Kannapolis.

Human Vacuum/Good Guy Award
Travis “Moose” Mattair, 3B…Moose made his last season with Lakewood a special one, as he was arguably the league’s best 3B defensively and was a team leader on a championship ballclub. Absolutely one of the best guys you’ll ever meet, we wish Moose the best as he tackles Clearwater in 2010.

I Left My Heart in Greensboro Award
Travis d’Arnaud, C…The BlueClaws catcher was hitting .189 with four home runs when the BlueClaws got to Greensboro on May 30th. He homered in three straight games, hit .300 the rest of the way, and led the BlueClaws offensively to a championship. d’Arnaud had an amazing total of 29 doubles in the second half, hit 14 home runs on the year, and would have hit 20+ if he played in a more hitter-friendly ballpark. Now, he’s a Blue Jay, sent over in the Roy Halladay deal.

phanaticwaterThank God It Wasn’t April Award
Mike Morvay, assistant groundskeeper…for the photo that appears on the right. This took place on August 24th when it was about 93 degrees, as opposed to the mid-40s that you usually get in April. Good job Mike.

Nice Knowing You Award
Lake County Captains…Yes, we jumped away from just the BlueClaws for this one, but after seven years of playing 20 games a year (which would be one full season), Lake County (and Bowling Green) head to the Midwest League. Good luck folks. The BlueClaws by the way sent them off on their Midwest League life by falling 8-2 at LCO in their final Sally home game.

That’s What It’s About Award
Anthony Gose, OF…During a charity jersey auction at the end of the year to benefit the American Cancer Society, Gose bought four of his teammates’ jerseys donating over $600 to charity. He then gave all the jerseys to children.

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.