Archive for November, 2010

Ocean County Freeholders Proclamation

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

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=”327″ />The BlueClaws recently received a proclamation from the Ocean County Board of Freeholders in regards to the team’s recent success. You can click the image to see an enlarged version. The text of the proclamation reads as follows (their emphasis):

Whereas, once again, this year proved to be an extraordinary and exciting one for the Lakewood BlueClaws; and

Whereas, on September 18, 2010, the BlueClaws captured their third South Atlantic League Title, making them back to back South Atlantic League Champions and tying the franchise record of 84 wins against 55 losses; and

Whereas, the Lakewood BlueClaws clinched the championship, beating the Greenville Drive 4-2 in Game Four. The BleuClaws took three of four in the best of five series, becoming the first team in South Atlantic League history to win the first half, second half, and league titel; and

Whereas, in addition to their title win, the Lakewood BlueClaws produly boast the Number 1 rank in attendance for the South Atlantic League and all of New Jersey for the tenth straight year; and

Whereas, the BlueClaws once again partnered with OceanFirst Foundation and donated $30,000 to local-military-based charities. Each home run hit resulted in a $1,000 donation; and

Whereas, as Ocean County has followed its hometown team, the Lakewood BlueClaws, from pitches to runs to plays, we say congratulations on an historic season and an outstanding job.

Now, therefore, I, James F. Lacey, Director, of the Board of Chosen Freeholders of the County of Ocean, State of New Jersey, on behalf of this Board, hereby honor and congratulate the:

Lakewood BlueClaws
2010 South Atlantic League Champions

and thank them for an outstanding season; and further extend warm wishes and congratulations to the coaches and families of the players.

Presented by:

John P. Kelly
John C. Bartlett, Jr.
Joseph H. Vicari
Gerry P. Little

Freeholder Director
James F. Lacey

We thank the Freeholders for this proclamation, which was presented to General Manager Geoff Brown and Director of Community Relations Jim DeAngelis.

Sandberg to Lehigh Valley?

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

The Philadelphia Inquirer today says that Ryne Sandberg  is in the mix for the Lehigh Valley managerial post, vacant since Dave Huppert, the only manager in the team’s history (2008-2010) will not return to the organization.

Sandberg led Iowa to an 82-62 record during his first season as a triple-A manager and he was named the Pacific Coast League manager of the year.

“I really liked the way his team played,” a National League scout said. “I liked the way they ran the bases.”

Sandberg started his managerial career in 2007 with the Cubs’ single-A Peoria Chiefs of the Midwest League. After two seasons with Peoria, he was promoted to double-A Tennessee of the Southern League.

The Hall of Fame second baseman is best known in Philadelphia as being the “throw-in” player in a deal that sent shortstop Larry Bowa to the Cubs in exchange for shortstop Ivan DeJesus. A 20th-round pick by the Phillies in 1978, Sandberg went on to play in 10 All-Star Games and win an MVP award with the Cubs.

Related: has the “Throw In Sandberg” trade (with Larry Bowa to Chicago for Ivan DeJesus) as  “Honorable Mention” among the worst trades in sports history.

Related: Sandberg left the Cubs organization last week after he did not get the big league manager’s job, which went to Mike Quade. Chicago Tribune story.

Josh Zeid Checks In

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

2010 BlueClaws pitcher Josh Zeid was one of a handful of players to go from A-ball to the Arizona Fall League, where he went 3-0 with a 3.86 ERA in four starts and threw a shutout inning in the Rising Stars Game.

Having reached his innings limit, Zeid has finished his time in Arizona and we spoke to him Monday afternoon while he was driving on I-10 in New Mexico on a 30-hour drive to Clearwater.

How was the competition compared to what you had been facing? It’s like facing an all-star team every game out. If you have an off-day at all, even an off-pitch, they’re going to hit it a long way. I saw some pretty long home runs, but it was a lot of fun.

How was the experience for you having come from a level where you were one of the older guys to one where you were one of the younger and more inexperienced players? They let me know every day that I was younger or had less experience, not negatively, but they said that it was a great honor to be invited from Lo-A…I was the same age as some of the guys who had played in Double-A, which was a little sad, but you have to trick yourself into believing you can get these guys out. If you can, you can be successful at any level.

What was the Rising Stars experience like? The day I found out they were shutting me down for the year, I found out I made Rising Stars and that would be my last outing. I had a pretty good year, but I was Lo-A, senior sign. Most of the other guys that were on the team were older, or higher picks, so it meant a lot. It was cool, national television, that’s always a little scary. But it was a lot of fun. I faced the guy who hit the game winning home run, which kind of stunk, there was a cash prize for the winning team, $500. We were pretty down. We had bases loaded in the top of the 9th, but they got out of it. And they won in the bottom of the 9th.


Today in the APP

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

BlueClaws groundskeeper Ryan Radcliffe gets a mention in today’s Asbury Park Press in a story about fans collecting souvenir sod from FirstEnergy Park.

Despite the raw wind whipping onto the field and the cold rain, the fans came — to secure their own piece of BlueClaws’ history or possibly just for the free sod to replace their own brown lawns.

“I’ve been a fan since the stadium opened. I’ve grown up a Phillies fan,” said Todd Jenkins, 40, of Pemberton, who walked onto the field with his head down and baseball cap on to shield his eyes from the rain.

Jenkins, who is a partial-season ticket holder, said he planned to take away enough sod to fix up the bare spots at his home and his parents’ home.

“I love coming here and watching the young kids develop and go through the program,” he said, referring to the minor league rookies, some of whom make their way to the big leagues.

Jenkins said he plans to brag that his lawn came from the BlueClaws stadium.

By the end of today, groundskeeper Ryan Radcliffe expects that much of the sod will be “going, going, gone” so that installation of the new playing surface can begin.

Click here to read the full story.

(PHOTO: Tom Spader, Asbury Park Press)

Baseball In New Jersey

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Thought this was a pretty cool blog post from our buddy Dan Cichalski at, who used to cover the BlueClaws for the Asbury Park Press.

(T)he Giants may have the earliest New Jersey connection of any World Series champion (aside from the fact that the entire game itself was born in Hoboken): they held spring training in Lakewood back in 1897. I had known that they trained on John D. Rockefeller’s Lakewood estate from 1943-45, when teams were restricted in their travel during World War II. But in searching for some articles on that, I came across a few in the New York Times archive describing the club’s 1897 preseason preparations.

There’s more in there about early baseball and its connection to our state, including a clip from the March 25th, 1897 (yes, 1897) edition of the New York Times.

Weekend Fall League Update

Monday, November 8th, 2010

From our last post a few days ago, we’ll pick this up on Thursday down in Arizona.

Thursday: Mesa picked up a 7-4 win over the Peoria Javelinas. Matt Rizzotti was 1-3 with a two run single (more below). Justin De Fratus earned the save with a shutout ninth inning (walk, hit) while Chris Kissock got one out in the 6th inning, the only batter he faced (getting Koby Clemens to pop out with runners on 2nd and 3rd).

Friday: Tyson Brummett started for Mesa in a 13-5 win. He gave up one run in two innings. BJ Rosenberg gave up one run in the 3rd and Jacob Diekman (recent addition to the roster) gave up two runs in the 4th (he has allowed 8 runs in 2/3 of an inning so far). Tim Kennelly went 0-5 but drove in a run in the win.

Saturday: The Rising Stars game. Josh Zeid and Justin De Fratus were selected and Zeid threw a perfect inning while De Fratus retired the only man he faced. Not much else really going on but it’s good to see those guys pitching well. De Fratus looks like a strong candidate for a Phillies bullpen spot heading into spring training.

Here is the recap. The West won 3-2 (Zeid and De Fratus were on the East) on a walk-off HR by Tampa’s Leslie Anderson.

Zeid is continuing his blogging here and should have a post up soon about the Rising Stars game. Sunday was a league day off and they go again today. The regular season ends on the 18th and then the Championship Series.

Mesa, at 12-10, is two games out of first.

Rizzotti has played great, despite missing two weeks with an injury. The 2008 BlueClaw is 17-42 with 9 RBIs, 10 walks and just five strikeouts. He is 5th in the league in hitting.

In-Depth on Field Surface Installation With Groundskeeper Ryan Radcliffe

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

radcliffethe benefits of reading to children>We told you yesterday that the BlueClaws will install a new playing surface beginning next year (details and photos). For a more in-depth look, we sat down with BlueClaws groundskeeper Ryan Radcliffe.

Why now?
Usually something like this is done every 10 years or so. Right under the grass, you have a mix of about 90% sand and 10% organic material (in a 10 inch rootzone). Over time, the top layer of the rootzone underneath the grass will build down from the surface with a lot of silt and clay, about a quarter inch per year. As that builds up, it’s harder for the water to drain completely through.

How long will the process take?
It’s about a three week process.

How far down underneath the surface will you go?
We’ll go three inches down to strip out the organic layer that’s built up over the ten years.

What’s the first thing that you have to do?
First, we have to check the irrigation system. We put a flag wherever there is a head, coupler, or valve, covering anything near the surface that they could possibly hit. Then, we get rid of the top three inches and then come back in with about 800 tons of sand which is spread evenly over the field at .88 inches above the surface.

Where did you get .88 inches?
They have a GPS type of machine and went in and surveyed 50 points throughout the field and essentially took the average elevation. We have the original blueprints from 10 years ago which they used as a starting point. That original elevation for the sand is what they want to get back to.

So essentially the field is three inches higher now than it was 10 years ago?
That’s right.


Buster Goes Trick-Or-Treating

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

That’s right. With the Mad Hatter.

Also, Brian from Glen Rock, NJ sent over this great photo of a BlueClaws pumpkin stencil.


New Playing Surface Coming to FirstEnergy Park

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

While the field is pretty quiet right now, it won’t be for too long. The BlueClaws will install a new playing surface at FirstEnergy Park over the next few weeks.

It’s an elaborate process, with the current sod coming out and new sod (90,000 square feet worth) coming in.

Here’s the full story from We spoke earlier with BlueClaws Head Groundskeeper Ryan Radcliffe, who detailed everything for us. We’ll have that up here soon.

Below, the pictures are from the fall of 2000, when the field was laid down for the first time. Obviously you don’t completely recognize the park, because it wasn’t yet complete. We didn’t start playing until April of 2001.

Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game Rosters Announced

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

2009 BlueClaws RHP Justin De Fratus and 2010 RHP Josh Zeid will represent the Phillies in the Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game, which will be shown Saturday night at 9 pm on MLB Network.

Click here to see the full rosters.

De Fratus (stats), who was taken in the 11th round in 2007, is having a tremendous 2010. He began in Clearwater, where he had a 1.79 ERA and 15 saves before being promoted to Reading. There, he finished the season with a 2.19 ERA in 24 innings and earned a spot with Team USA in the Pan-Am Games qualifying tournament last month in Puerto Rico.

They finished up and he went straight to Arizona, where he has thrown five shutout innings (one hit, two walks, ten strikeouts).

Since he is a college draft pick (Ventura College in CA) who has been in professional baseball for four seasons, he is Rule-5 eligible and is a lock to be added to the Phillies 40-man roster before the Winter Meetings and the 2010 Rule 5 Draft. He’ll also get his first taste of big league spring training this year and have a chance to make the Phillies bullpen.

Josh Zeid (stats) pitched for the BlueClaws this year, threw seven perfect innings in the SAL Championship Series, and has pitched well in four starts in Arizona (3-0, 3.86 ERA, 12 K, 1 BB).

Congrats to both players.

Here is a preview article from

Long Overdue Fall League Update

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Here are a couple of days worth of Arizona Fall League updates for you, again with most of the former BlueClaws playing for Mesa…

Thursday: In a 6-4 loss to Peoria, BJ Rosenberg (2008) gave up four runs in the 5th inning to suffer the loss, while Matt Rizzotti had two hits in five at bats.

Friday: Only Rizzotti played in this 9-1 loss to Scottsdale, going 1-2 with two walks.

Saturday: Tim Kennelly went 2-4 with a pair of doubles in another loss, while Justin De Fratus continued to pitch very well, striking out the side in his inning, while Chris Kissock also threw a shutout inning for Mesa.

Sunday: League off-day

Monday: Nice day to pitch, when your offense has 20 hits and scores 15 runs. That’s how it was for Josh Zeid yesterday, who threw four shutout innings, two hits, no walks, three strikeouts, to improve to 3-0, 3.86 (four starts). He blogs about his outing here.

Last week in Peoria I felt slow, and had bad tempo through my windup. Everything between pitches felt like I had heavy feet, and I just didn’t feel confident. Today I made sure to work quickly and not let close calls by the Home plate umpire get the best of me. I figured if I didn’t give myself time to dwell on the pitches I had just thrown, all I would have to do is throw the next pitch. Coaches always preach “it’s about the next pitch, not the previous pitch,” and you know what, they’re right. I’ve realized that before, but it’s something that I need to learn how to do mid-game, not 6 days later.
I was very proud of my game today, all of my pitches worked well, and I kept the ball in the ballpark, which any pitcher can say is a huge feat, but what was most fantastic about the game today was how great the whole team played.

Also, Tyson Brummett, BJ Rosenberg, Chris Kissock, and Justin De Fratus threw four perfect innings of relief (former BlueClaws threw 8 shutout innings in the win). Matt Rizzotti was 3-5 and Tim Kennelly went 2-3. Nice day all around.

Michael Taylor has cooled off a bit since his blistering start (8-17 with 2 HRs) but has walked 5 times in his last 15 plate appearances.

Rizzotti, who is 14-34, is 4th in the league in hitting (.412) and Zeid, with his three wins, ranks 2nd in that category.