Archive for February, 2010

Happy Anniversary…BlueClaws!

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Today is a special day in BlueClaws history. It’s the 10th anniversary of the unveiling of the name BlueClaws to the general public.

It happened in the Lakewood Town Square 10 years ago today, the unveiling of the name. The first BlueClaws logo (changed after the 2009 season) was unveiled in August.

A total of 49 BlueClaws entries were received. The name was first sent in by nine year old Matt Koscielski of West Belmar and Jan Gualtier of Ocean County.

If you’re wondering, ground was broken on the ballpark April 13th, 2000.

Sunday Links and Coffee (Snow Melting Edition)

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

Welcome back to another edition of Sunday Links and Coffee, a series of links from around the baseball world to enjoy with your Sunday java.

  • Andy Martino in the Inquirer writes about the Phearless Phour, a nickname given to the Phillies infield by 3rd base coach Sam Perlozzo, who said: “They don’t back down off of any play, so I call them the Phearless Phour.”
  • Matt Gelb on former BlueClaws pitcher Mike Zagurski, who is looking for a shot in the big league bullpen after two long years (08 he was injured, 09 he was recovering from the Tommy John surgery and trying to work his way back up the ladder). Zagurski said: “I think I can help them,” he said. “Hopefully, they’ll see that.”
  • Dave Murphy of the Daily News on the ultimate cost cutting maneuvers the Phillies will have to undertake: they have $130 million committed to 15 players in 2011. Their Opening Day payroll in 2008 was $110 million.
  • Lifelong Phillies fan Gerard Sheilds: Hope is eternal, even for Phillies fans.

Elsewhere in baseball…

  • Bill Madden in the Daily News on the never-ending Johnny Damon drama.
  • While he is a Met, Adam Rubin in the NY Daily News has a good one-on-one with David Wright worth reading.
  • A statistical look at some of the big name upgrades this year around the league, by Cliff Corcoran on
  • While he is one of the best managers in baseball, with two World Series titles in the last six years, Terry Francona oversees a team in transition, writes Tony Massarotti in the Boston Globe.
  • Joe Torre and Sandy Koufax tell stories and an LA gala to raise money for Torre’s Safe at Home Foundation. Great stuff in here. When did the lightbulb go on for Koufax (at one point in his career he was 36-41, believe it or not)? It was Gil Hodges telling him he’d have to go eight innings after two pitchers missed the plane for a B-team spring training game.Koufax decided to ease up on what had been an uncontrollable fastball to be sure he made it the eight innings, which he did, without allowing a hit.

Dave Schofield from Spring Training (Chapter One)

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

Throughout the spring, BlueClaws team photographer Dave Schofield will be checking in and doing some guest blogging. Dave got down earlier in the week. Here is entry one:

feb-27-blog-creds-508CLEARWATER, FL – The day began early for me on this the first day of my work here in Florida. I had a long drive to Winter Haven and Chain O’ Lakes Park for the St. Bonaventure University v Northeastern Univ. baseball game. The day started out with a slight drizzle and some threat of rain. Well the threat was realized at Chain o’ Lakes as the rain fell steadily until the start of the game and the after two innings it began to pour resulting in a 2 hour delay. I shot the two innings and then left for Clearwater again.

In the next few days I will shoot five college baseball games. On March 3 the season opens with the Yankees at 1PM at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa as they take on the Pirates. After that game I will head to Brighthouse Networks Field to shoot the Phillies playing Florida State University. I will begin posting photos with my blog with that game.

If anyone has anything they want to ask me about spring training or any of the former and future BlueClaws feel free to email me at and I will try to get to all of the questions.

Should anyone feel any jealousy about me being in Florida, the temperature at Winter Haven today was 42 degrees with winds and rain…it was COLD! But I didn’t have to shovel anything.

We will talk again in a couple of days.


(photo is a collection of credentials Dave has for the spring)

GREAT Prospect Analysis

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

Here is an incredibly detailed Phillies top 30 prospect ranking by the folks at Phuture Phillies.

Domonic Brown vs Roy Halladay

Friday, February 26th, 2010

dombrown1Yesterday in Clearwater, Roy Halladay faced some of his new teammates for the first time in a live batting practice at Bright House Field, and first up was Domonic Brown (BlueClaws 2008).

Fresh off his ranking as the 15th best prospect in the game by Baseball America, Brown got to face Halladay. If they ranked starting pitchers, Halladay would of course be in the top 5.

Brown fouled off a few and then struck out, and said afterwards:

“It was pretty nasty, man,” Brown said. “Pretty nasty. It was tough for me. Roy was throwing his cutter, and everything was moving. He has a nasty sinker.”

And Charlie Manuel on Brown:

“Brown’s got a talent,” Manuel said. “He leverages the ball out front and it jumps off his bat. I like that he makes contact even on balls that almost get by him. We’ll see how quick his bat is in the game.”

Brown will likely head to Lehigh Valley to open the 2010 season.

Looking Ahead: Jarred Cosart

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Continuing our Looking Ahead series, though which we look at some of the players that could well be BlueClaws during the 2010 season (remember, we won’t know the official roster until around April 3rd but it’s still fun to take a look). Today, Jarred Cosart, a right-handed pitcher who was ranked 8th in the system by Baseball America this year.

Previously: Jiwan James, Sebastian Valle

Cosart was drafted in the 38th round in 2008 and did not sign with the Phillies until late in the process, for $550k and out of a commitment to Missouri. Because of the late signing, he did not pitch in 2008 and went 2-2, 2.22 in 2009 with the GCL Phillies. Cosart will not turn 20 until May 25th, and is considered a power right-handed arm, like Trevor May and Jason Knapp (since traded to the Indians).

This is from Frank Piliere, a former scout who now writes for MLB Fanouse:

Few pitchers in the low levels of their system excite the Phillies’ player development staff as much as Cosart. The 19-year-old right-hander had an impressive 2009 campaign in the GCL, but it was the stuff he showed in his strong performance that has the organization intrigued. Cosart lived around 91-94 mph with the fastball, touching 95. He also mixed in a curveball at 74-79 mph, as well as an occasional changeup. For a young man with limited experience, his feel for three pitches was interesting to watch.

With a strong frame and some room to grow, Cosart will be one of the most fascinating young arms to watch in the Philadelphia organization. He’s got a lot to learn about location and how to mix his pitches, but the big arm and secondary pitches are in place. The way his raw stuff grades out, this is a pitcher with front-line starter-type ability.

John Manuel of Baseball America told us:

He probably has the best pure arm in the system, free, easy and powerful.

He’s around 92-94 with the fastball and has an overhand 11-5 curveball in the mid-70s from the different reports, but we’ve never seen him pitch, of course. But we’re looking forward to.

You can always take a few guesses as to who will be on any minor league team, and it’s a little bit harder at the lower levels. But there are always a few that just seem like locks, and I would think Cosart/Lakewood fits there.

OceanFirst’s Home Runs for Heroes Returns

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Some news on a popular program…

LAKEWOOD, NJ – The BlueClaws, OceanFirst Foundation, 92.7 WOBM and 1160 WOBM-AM announced that Home Runs for Heroes will return in 2010, after a successful debut season in which $24,000 was donated to local chariteis that provide essential support to veterans and active members of the United States military.

Like last year, the program will tie each position on the field (not including pitcher, but including designated hitter) with a local military-based charity. Each home run by the BlueClaws at home this year will bring a $1,000 donation to the corresponding charity courtesy of OceanFirst Foundation.

Read the rest of the release here (includes information about non-profit grant applications for the program).

It’s really a great program. Last year, $24,000 was donated by OceanFirst Foundation because of BlueClaws home runs. ARMS (American Recreational Military Services) ended up with the most money ($9,000, seven of the home runs from Jim Murphy).

We’ll have a draft lottery on the field before Opening Day like last year and keep you posted on the program throughout the year. Last season’s results:

Position Organization Amount
C Catholic Charities, Trenton Diocese $3,000
1B American Recreational Military Services $9,000
2B VetGroup $2,000
3B Navy/Marine Relief Society – Earle $2,000
SS Navy/Marine Relief Society – Lakehurst $1,000
LF Army Emergency Relief – Fort Monmouth $3,000
CF National Guard Family Readiness Council $1,000
RF American Red Cross $1,000
DH Army Emergency Relief – Fort Dix $2,000

Baseball America’s Top 100

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

domonicbrown2Baseball America does a great job with their prospect rankings, and they’ve come up with another list: Top 100 in all of baseball. Five former BlueClaws on there, four of them have been traded by the Phillies.

You can see the full list here, but below are the former BlueClaws (year in Lakewood):

  • 15. Domonic Brown (2008): top Phillies prospect was one of the few from the top of the system that was NOT traded in the last eight months. Probably headed to Lehigh Valley to open 2010.
  • 25. Kyle Drabek (2007): Traded to the Blue Jays in the Halladay deal and is in their big league camp now. Pitched two months for the BlueClaws before being shut down and having Tommy John surgery.
  • 29. Michael Taylor (2008): Had an exceptional half with Lakewood (.360-10-51) before a promotion to Clearwater. Traded as part of the Halladay deal to Toronto who immediately traded him to Oakland, where he will compete for a spot in their outfield.
  • 64. Jason Knapp (2009): It’s too bad his last outing with Lakewood (and the Phillies) was a 2/3 of an inning six run nightmare, but he was traded to the Indians while on the DL in July. He still led the ’09 Claws in strikeouts, with 111 in 85 innings.
  • 81. Travis d’Arnaud (2009): Also sent to Toronto in the Halladay deal and earned an invite to big league camp. Hit 13 home runs with Lakewood last year and hit 50 points higher in the second half despite catching five-six games per week.

Phillipe Aumont, who came back to the Phillies in the Lee to Seattle trade was ranked 93rd.

Two other notes from Dave Murphy:

  • BA rates RHP Arodys Vizcaino (69), who NYY traded along w/ Melky Cabrera + Mike Dunn for Javier Vazquez higher than any of the three Cliff Lee kids
  • Brown is highest-rated Phillie since RHP Gavin Floyd (#9 in ’03), and fourth since ’90 to crack Top 15 (Burrell #2 in ’00, Rolen #13 in ’97)

Sign of Spring: the Bios Are Here

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

pink-flowerOne of my favorite signs of spring, like the flower on the right, is the massive file of player bios that the Phillies send over. This year: 64 pages in Microsoft Word. Draft information. Statistical information, and so much more.

Some of the good stuff…

  • New BlueClaws manager Mark Parent caught 24 innings in a doubleheader on July 24, 1998, at age 36. Two 12 inning games because starter Mike Lieberthal was injured and Parent was the only other catcher on the roster.
  • Ernie Whitt, who managed Clearwater in 2009 (Dusty Wathan manages them in 2010), led the 2004 Canadian Olympic team to a 4th place finish (ironically better than their hockey team might do at these Olympics). He also managed them in the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classics.
  • BlueClaws coach Greg Legg begins his 29th straight year in the system after being drafted in 1982. That is truly amazing when you think about it. Even more amazing was that last year’s championship with Lakewood was his first!
  • Luis Arzeno, who was a system catcher for six years, and spent part of 2009 with the BlueClaws, is now a coach for the Guanama Phillies in the Dominican Summer League.
  • Jeremy Barnes, who played SS for Williamsport last year, is the only player in the system who went to Notre Dame (and would be the first BlueClaw to have played there, unofficially).
  • Kelly Dugan, a 2nd round pick last year, went to Notre Dame HS, however.
  • While he was just 10-66 with Lakewood in the early part of last year, Leandro Castro ended up leading the Penn League in hits and total bases. Would expect him to be here this year again.
  • Siulman Lebron pitched for Williamsport last year. I smell a Lebron Chooses BlueClaws Over Knicks, Cavs press release right around the time of July 1st.
  • Last year, the BlueClaws had Tyler Cloyd and Jacob Diekman from the baseball powerhouse state of Nebraska. Could 2010 bring Darin Ruf here? He hit .207 between GCL and Williamsport (176 ABs) after being drafted in the 20th round out of Creighton.

We’ll sift through these bios and start to build some mock BlueClaws rosters. Also, this year’s media guide will be made available on-line, likely around April 1st.

Jayson Werth

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Jayson Werth with the Orioles about 10 years ago and Jayson Werth today in Clearwater.

On a more serious note, Werth spoke today about his impending free agency and the upcoming season after reporting to spring training. This is a big year for Werth who will become a free agent after the season, and into a market one year after Jason Bay, a comparable player, got a $65 million deal from the Mets. Todd Zolecki has the full Q&A here, but I thought this one quote was interesting.

Q: Do you see how much the Phillies are spending and wonder if there will be room for you on their payroll?
A: I haven’t really thought about it. I know that how much they are spending is an issue, and I think it’s always an issue, no matter what the situation is. I definitely think that will play a part of it going forward. But again, that’s something that my agent and the team will work out, and hopefully it will work out and I’ll be in Philadelphia for a long time and continue to play with these guys. A lot of these guys are signed up for a few more years at least. The game of baseball is weird like that. Guys come and go, but our situation here, we’ve had a lot of guys stay and a lot of guys sign up for a long time. I’m already a part of something special and have been the past few years. To continue that would be awesome. Just going forward, we’ll have to see what works.

Checking in on Kyle Drabek

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

Kyle Drabek is one of three (Travis d’Arnaud, Randy Ruiz) former BlueClaws in Blue Jays camp this spring, as the 2007 BlueClaw was sent to the Jays as part of the Roy Halladay trade in December. The right-hander, considered the top pitching prospect in the organization and one of the top arms in the minor leagues, found out about the trade while watching ESPN at home in Texas.

“It was a total shock,” he told Andy Martino in the Philadelphia Inquirer. “That was the first things that I saw of it.”

2007 saw Drabek pitch well for two months with the BlueClaws, including a 7.2 inning, two hit, one run outing in the second game of a split-double header that year. But he got hurt in June, had Tommy John surgery that basically cost him 2008.

2009, however, was a great year for 21-year old (he turned 22 in December). From Clearwater, where he had 10.8 Ks/9 and earned a spot in the Futures Game, he went to Reading, where he went 8-2, 3.64, though his Ks dropped to 7.2 per 9.

He shot back up the prospect rankings and was in high demand. While the Phillies held onto him at the trade deadline, they sent him to Toronto two months ago.

Tommy John surgery is not considered to be career-threatening anymore, but it’s still surgery. Drabek told us last year, however, the improvements in medicine, and specifically those coming back from this surgery, calmed him down a little bit.

In talking to the doctor he told me that about 90% of the people come back stronger and that was a huge confidence booster because I knew that I could come back nice and strong. When I began to throw it felt great and that also helped my confidence a lot.

He reflected on his time with the BlueClaws this way:

I had a blast in Lakewood. The field was amazing, the atmosphere was awesome and the fans were amazing. I had never played in front of that many fans before and I played with a lot of great guys. I had a lot of fun there.

Now it’s off to Toronto, and adjusting to a new team, new teammates, new uniforms, and a new situation. That’s where it helps to have a father who played for a long time in the big leagues, and Doug was there to help.

“He said, ‘You know what? It’s baseball,’ ” the younger Drabek said. ‘ “This stuff happens, and you just deal with it and try to do your job.’ ”

And we expect that we’ll get to watch him do his job in the big leagues pretty soon.
One other note, since Drabek is in big league camp, he won’t be playing the Phillies minor leaguers every third day like they would in the minor league camp, since Dunedin and Clearwater are about five miles apart.

Sunday Links and Coffee (early spring training edition)

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

Welcome back to another edition of Sunday Links and Coffee, a series of links from around the baseball world to enjoy with your Sunday morning coffee. Our first edition now that spring training is underway begins with:

Kyle Halladay

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

If you’re going to follow someone around, you could do a lot worse than Roy Halladay. Kyle Kendrick (BlueClaws 2004-06) has apparently taken to the new Phillies ace, and even earned the nickname Kyle Halladay, as Tyler Kepner of the NY Times tweeted yesterday:

Phils’ Kyle Kendrick works out early with Halladay, plays catch with him, and has a reddish beard. Teammates are calling him “Kyle Halladay”

Kendrick made his big league debut in 2007 and won 21 games over the next two seasons (after skipping Triple-A). But he had a 5.49 ERA in 2008 and spent most of 2009 in Triple-A, having been effectively passed by JA Happ and others.

But entering 2010, Kendrick, who went 3-1, 1.96 in September with the Phillies, is in a competition with Jamie Moyer for the 5th starters job. And he’s trying to learn from one veteran (Halladay) to beat out another.

As Jim Salisbury notes here, Kendrick, who usually arrived at camp around 8 am, now arrives around 5:45 with Halladay.

“He’s in good shape, the best I’ve seen him in,” manager Charlie Manuel said on Friday. “He looks strong right now, and that’s good.”

Kendrick added: “My work ethic has gotten a lot better, I think,” Kendrick said. “Before, I just did my own thing. I didn’t really have a plan. Now I have a plan, thanks to Roy.”

Recommended Reading

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Not really BlueClaws related but this is a really good and interesting article (from Tyler Kepner in the NY Times) on Ross Ohlendorf, a former Yankee, now a Pirate pitcher, who interned last summer at the Department of Agriculture. Full article here.

It is a safe bet that Ohlendorf is the only [player in spring training] who spends some of his free time finishing a cost-benefit analysis on a program that traces disease in cattle, poultry, swine, goats and sheep, and its effect on farmers.

“If there are things that interest me, and I am interested in a lot of things, I try to make an effort to learn more about them,” Ohlendorf said Wednesday in an interview at a restaurant here after a morning practice in Bradenton, Fla. “If I’m going to do something, I want to put in the time to do a good job with it.”

Ohlendorf, 27, has the unusual combination of superior intelligence, athleticism, curiosity and drive. It helped him become a star at Princeton while earning a degree in operations research and financial engineering. It has helped him develop into a dependable major leaguer who was 11-10 with a 3.92 earned run average in 29 starts for Pittsburgh last season.


Ohlendorf had recently caught a ceremonial first pitch from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at PNC Park. What if he applied for a 20-hour-a-week job at the department from the end of the Pirates’ season until mid-December, when his throwing program would begin in earnest?

He sent his résumé in an e-mail message to Doug McKalip, the confidential assistant to Secretary Vilsack. McKalip was impressed for reasons beyond baseball.

“Most of our interns just got out of graduate school, or they’ve finished a doctorate and want to work for a federal department as part of their experience,” he said. “But it’s pretty rare to have someone from an outside profession who’s willing to volunteer time and has the kind of background Ross brings. With his G.P.A., with his engineering and mathematics background, and also a direct role in a farming operation, Ross was especially qualified.”