Archive for October, 2010

Back In Business

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

playoff-partySorry about the two days of downtime here at BlueClaws Blog, we had some techincal issues which are now solved. I hope you were able to make it through the days.

Last night was our annual BlueClaws playoff party for BlueClaws ticket plan holders…Part of the fun was getting a picture taken with the BlueClaws South Atlantic League Championship trophies, as shown on the right.

We have a collection on our Facebook page.

Let’s Go Phillies

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

With the NLCS set to begin tonight, we would like to wish best of luck to the Phillies in their series against the Giants.

The Phillies made one roster move, putting Kyle Kendrick on the 25-man roster and removing Greg Dobbs. They only carried 10 pitchers in the first round series, but since it was going to be played over eight days, and they were only using three starters, they still had seven relievers with plenty of off days. This series, with four starters (Joe Blanton in game four), means an extra pitcher.

Now, six former BlueClaws are active for the Phillies.

  • Ryan Howard (2002), who of course rehabbed here in 2007 and again this year, when we retired his jersey.
  • Domonic Brown (2008), who made a meteoric rise up the system this year and was somewhat of a surprise inclusion on this 25-man roster, but the Phillies are only carrying 10 pitchers.
  • Carlos Ruiz (2001), an original BlueClaw, Ruiz was the catcher in the second BlueClaws home game, in which he had four RBIs and caught a no-hitter (from Keith Bucktrot).
  • Cole Hamels (2003), he was here for a few months at the beginning of 2003 when he made his professional debut and dominated (6-1, 0.84).
  • Antonio Bastardo (2007), he went 9-0, 1.87 over 15 starts with the BlueClaws and is one of two lefty reliever on the staff, with JC Romero.
  • Kyle Kendrick (2004-06), a 7th round pick in 2003, he blossomed at the beginning of the 2006 season, pitching to a 2.15 ERA over seven starts before being promoted. He was in Philadelphia the next year.

Greg Golson is again on the Yankees 25-man roster, so there are seven former BlueClaws still active in the postseason.

In anticipation of Halladay and Lincecum tonight, Sam Donnellon of the Daily News talked to Jack Morris and John Smoltz, who of course dueled in game seven of the 1991 World Series, a 1-0 win in 10-innings for Morris’ Twins.

He notes that tickets are going for 4-5 times face value. Should be fun.

Ryan Howard on Letterman

Friday, October 15th, 2010

From last night…

Fall League, Day Three

Friday, October 15th, 2010

A couple of former BlueClaws in action yesterday in the Arizona Fall League.

Star of the Day: RHP Josh Zeid, who started and earned the win (they do not use the minimum five innings for a starter to qualify for the win) in his AFL debut yesterday. He gave up one run over three innings, striking out three. He’ll probably blog about it later today at his AFL blog.

Also: BJ Rosenberg followed Zeid but struggled, allowing three runs in 1.2 innings. Matt Rizzotti was 2-4, also for Mesa, who won 11-6 (box)…Michael Taylor did not hit his third home run in as many days, going 0-5.

Why You Can’t Hit a Curveball

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

The AP takes a look in this article, which ran in today’s Asbury Park Press.

The problem is that how you see the ball differs depending on whether the eye is focused on it or if the peripheral vision at the side of the eye is being used, Lu and Shapiro report in a research paper published online Wednesday in the journal PLoS ONE.

Batters focus on the ball as it leaves the pitcher, Lu explained, but when it’s about 20 feet from home plate they often switch to peripheral vision, then go back to central vision as the ball arrives at the plate.

That can cause the ball to appear to break as much as a foot, the researchers said.

(snip)

Lu said he and Shapiro began studying the subject because they realize the “break” of a curve is inconsistent with physics.

Since then, he said, sports researchers have approached them for help in finding ways to defeat a curveball.

He said fans watching games on television also say a curveball appears to break when observed from behind home plate.

That is a geometric illusion, he said, caused by the fact that for the first part of a pitch, the viewer sees little or no vertical drop. Because the pitcher throws the ball at a slight upward angle, the first part of the pitch appears more or less flat. Then the drop seen near home plate surprises the eye.

So maybe you shouldn’t try to “keep your eye on the ball” after all.

Fall League, Day Two

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Day two in the Arizona Fall League.

Star of the Day: Michael Taylor, again. He hit his second home run of the young season, but unlike Tuesday when he homered off a former BlueClaws teammate, this time he took Eric Niesen deep (a Mets farmhand who played for Double-A Binghamton this year). Taylor, who hit six HRs this year with Triple-A Sacramento (A’s) is using the Fall League to try to gain momentum heading into 2011 after what he felt was a sub-par season. From MLB.com:

“It was a frustrating year,” he said. “A lot of things go into why a player has a good year or a bad year. Sometimes it’s luck, sometimes it’s circumstances; obviously, I had some hopes for this season and it didn’t quite work out the way I wanted to, but I learned more from this season than I did any other season because I learned how I had to grind in the face of disappointment.

“I’m as proud of it as any other season because of the amount of work I put in. It’s tough to come in every day when you’re searching for something that can help you make the leap.”

Taylor plays for Phoenix, and again homered off Mesa, the team with the Phillies prospects. The only former BlueClaw to play yesterday was Tim Kennelly, who went 1-3 with an RBI single.

Here is the box score.

The story of the day in the Arizona Fall League, however, was that the Nationals decided to send Bryce Harper, the #1 overall pick in the 2010 draft.

“He’s 17 years old and he doesn’t even turn 18 until Saturday,” GM Mike Rizzo said. “He is very excited. What I had to decide on was: ‘Is he going to be over his head in the AFL?’ It’s a very advanced league, but I think he is going to handle it. It’s going to be very valuable to him.”

Happy Birthday

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Happy Birthday to Taylor Buchholz, who turns 29 today. Buchholz has bounced around, making the big leagues in 2006 with Houston, and also pitching for Colorado and this year with Toronto.

His BlueClaws claim to fame? He threw the first pitch in team history, April 5th at Kannapolis.

Slightly related, that game at Kannapolis was the first time that franchise was known as the Kannapolis Intimidators, like today. They had been the Piedmont Boll Weevils, the Phillies affiliate before the BlueClaws came to be in 2001.

Greg Legg managed them the year before, getting knocked out in the first round of the playoffs. Legg was then the first manager in BlueClaws history. So he managed the last game in Boll Weevils history, then the BlueClaws in the first game in their history, against the old Boll Weevils, now Kannapolis. Make sense?

Jonathan Singleton Working in Left Field?

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Missed this the other day, but caught it on Phuture PhilliesFrom Todd Zolecki on MLB.com:

The Phillies are exploring ways to get top prospect Jonathan Singleton on the field. Singleton, a 19-year-old first baseman, is playing left field in the Florida Instructional League because Ryan Howard has blocked his path to the big leagues at first base. “We introduced it to him about midseason,” Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “Obviously, with Ryan signed to a long-term deal, we wanted to see if he had the aptitude and the athleticism to do it. He took to it pretty well. He’s doing fine. I think he’s just getting acclimated to it.” The Phils tried Howard in the outfield during Spring Training 2005, but pulled the plug relatively quickly. Could Singleton be different? “Much later time for Ryan,” Amaro said. “Singleton is 19. Ryan, by that time, he was ingrained at first base. He has a different body type than Ryan. He’s a little bit smaller guy. Not as big. Not as large as Ryan.”

Also worth nothing:

Amaro said right-handers Jesse Biddle and Jared Cosart are throwing well in the FIL. Cosart missed time this season with an elbow injury, but Amaro said he is throwing 98 mph again.

We say: On Singleton, makes perfect sense. If it works, great, if not, so be it. But why not try? As Amaro says, with Singleton being just 19, it’s a little different than when Howard tried it at 23 (because of Jim Thome). Singleton certainly projects to have enough power to play a corner outfield spot…On Cosart, great sign. He said he felt 100% when he was here during the playoffs.

Arizona Fall League, Day One

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Day one in the books down in the Arizona Fall League. Here’s the rundown from a  BlueClaws perspective…

Star of the Day: Michael Taylor (2008)…playing with Phoenix, the Oakland A’s OF hit a home run in the fourth inning off another former BlueClaw, RHP Tyson Brummett of the Phillies. The two were teammates with Lakewood for a few weeks in the beginning of the 2008 season, and later with Clearwater.

Elsewhere: Matt Rizzotti (2008) went 2-4 for Mesa and John Mayberry was 0-2, playing half the game in right field.

Box Score.

BlueClaws in the Arizona Fall League

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

The BlueClaws are very well represented in the Arizona Fall League, the most prestigious off-season league in the game. All told, eight former BlueClaws will play, plus 2010 Lakewood manager Mark Parent, who will serve as hitting coach. All Phillies representatives will play for the Mesa Solar Sox.

The league runs through mid-November, and BlueClaws Blog will have daily updates, features and interviews.

Further, 2010 BlueClaws pitcher Josh Zeid, one of the Phillies representatives, will be blogging from Arizona. Click here to read Zeid’s blog.

Below, find information on the Phillies representatives in this year’s Arizona Fall League:

Pitchers
Tyson Brummett (BlueClaws 2008): Brummett, a 7th round pick in 2007 from UCLA, had a 4.06 ERA this year split between Clearwater and Reading. He went 3-0 with a 1.95 ERA with the BlueClaws over six starts in 2008.

Justin De Fratus (BlueClaws 2009): De Fratus, an 11th round pick in 2007 from Ventura College, split the year between Clearwater (2-0, 1.79, 15 saves) and Reading (1-0, 2.19, six saves). He is currently playing for Team USA in the Pan-Am Games Qualifying Tournament and will head to Arizona after that tournament is complete. De Fratus went 5-6, 3.19 as part of the 2009 SAL Champion BlueClaws, striking out 101 and walking just 16.

Chris Kissock (BlueClaws 2008): Kissock, a 9th round pick in 2007 from Lewis-Clark State, went 7-3, 2.68 between Clearwater and Reading this year. He went 4-6, 4.37 with the BlueClaws in 2008 and pitched in the Hawaiian Winter League that year.

BJ Rosenberg (BlueClaws 2009): Rosenberg, a 13th round pick in 2008 from the University of Louisville, was with the BlueClaws from Opening Day until August 7th in 2009, and didn’t allow an earned run after Memorial Day (29 innings pitched). He was then promoted straight to Reading. This year, he participated in Major League Spring Training but he pitched just 27 innings after battling injuries.

Josh Zeid (BlueClaws 2010): Zeid, a 10th round pick in 2009 from Tulane, is the only 2010 BlueClaw to appear in the AFL this year (Troy Hanzawa played in the AFL in 2009 after spending that season with Lakewood). Zeid went 8-4, 2.93 this year with Lakewood and played in the SAL All-Star Game. During the SAL Championship Series, he faced 20 hitters and recorded 21 outs.

(more…)

Josh Zeid’s Next Blog Post

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

BlueClaws pitcher Josh Zeid is blogging from the Arizona Fall League. Lakewood’s right-hander, who will start on Thursday, posted his latest entry here.

With my dad as co-pilot, I made stops in Niceville, Florida for a night, had lunch in New Orleans at the ACME Oyster House, and then stopped for a night in Houston. I then drove him to San Antonio, where we had awesome Mexican food at the Riverwalk, and then dropped him off at the airport in town. From there, I drove to the middle of nowhere near Van Horn, Texas, and spent the night, leaving myself only 8 ½ hours for my final day of travel. No speeding tickets, no accidents, no close encounters, thankfully – but I did go through lots and lots of gas. But it is invaluable to have a car here in Arizona, so I made the trek.

Read the full post here. More on the Arizona Fall League later.

Buddy Bianacalana Plug From SI’s Peter King

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Buddy Biancalana, who managed Cole Hamels with the BlueClaws in 2003, got a nice plug in Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback column today.

h. Remember Buddy Biancalana? He’s the little shortstop who helped the Royals beat the Cardinals 25 years ago in the World Series, and he’s co-authored a book, The 7 Secrets of World Class Athletes, that has a few lessons for us all. It’s about how players can use a mental edge to get maximum performance, and he recently got Ricky Watters on a golf course to test it out. Watters had been a middling, frustrated golfer, but he used the mental and physical edge he learned from Biancalana and co-author Steve Yellin to improve dramatically. (They haven’t seen my golf swing yet if they think can get bad golfers to play well.) There are some interesting concepts in the book, and it’s an easy read.
Good stuff.
Here is the official site of the publishing company if you’re interested in the book.

Hamels Puts Phillies in NLCS

Monday, October 11th, 2010
Andy Lyons / Getty Images

Andy Lyons / Getty Images

Former BlueClaws pitcher Cole Hamels threw a complete game shutout last night in Cincinnati to put the Phillies into the National League Championship Series. After a somewhat shaky 2009, Hamels has rebounded in a big way this year, and shutout the best hitting team in the league to put an exclamation point on this Division Series.

“He’s so mentally strong right now,” closer Brad Lidge said on ESPN.com. “Not that he wasn’t pitching well last year. I just feel like this year he’s just gone to that next level. He just stays locked in for the entire game. I really felt tonight like, from pitch one to the last pitch, he didn’t change his demeanor or his approach one iota. It didn’t matter what was happening behind him. It didn’t matter that we missed a pop foul that fell in. Whatever. He just went right back to work.”

Hamels and Roy Halladay became the first teammates since Vida Blue and Ken Holtzman of Oakland in the 1974 ALCS to throw complete game shutouts in the same series.

“He definitely has a fire in his eye this year,” leftfielder Raul Ibanez said in the Philadelphia Daily News. “He definitely has a determination. He was determined last year, but this year, he looks like he’s determined every time he goes out there. He’s very aggressive, he pounds the strike zone. He’s always had a lot of confidence, but he’s pitching confidently all year.”

Also, should bring this back…Hamels as a BlueClaw in 2003 as a 19-year old.

The numbers: 6-1, 0.84 ERA, 74.2 IP, 32 H, 25 BB, 115 K

A breakdown…

  • In his 13 starts, he allowed seven (!) earned runs, and opponents only scored off of him in four starts (once was an unearned run).
  • Before a 7/26 promotion, he went his last 25 Lakewood innings without allowing an earned run.
  • In eight of his 13 starts, he allowed three hits or less.
  • In no game that season did Hamels allow more hits and innings pitched.
  • He only made three starts in Lakewood that year, but did not allow a run in 19 innings among those three outings.
  • Lefties went 7-69 against him and the leadoff hitter went 5-63.

Not bad eh? Hamels was the Phillies top ranked prospect following the season.

Buster in Philly

Friday, October 8th, 2010

Seen here with the Phanatic mascots from Reading, Lehigh Valley and Clearwater dousing a Reds fan with silly-string. I wonder if the Reds fan was late reacting to the silly-string because he lost it in the lights.

busterredsfan