Sunday, March 30, 2008

the domino effect

Good Morning HomeSiders. Open your windows and take a deep breath. Do you smell that? That's BASEBALL in the air. As the last lines of the national anthem are sung and the roar of the flyovers are fading, we can begin the 2008 season.

While there are still many moves yet to be announced, the first move to directly affect my emotions is the willingness of OF Chris Snelling to accept assignment to Lehigh Valley. As a result, Mike Spidale has been reassigned to Reading into an already crowded outfield situation in Baseballtown. Greg Golson, Jake Blalock, Javon Moran, Jeremy Slayden and Brandon Florence already reside there, and one of them is probably headed back to Clearwater. Something is going to have to give before the R-Phils open on Thursday. The situation is not any better with the Threshers. They already have 5 outfielders: Quintin Berry, Gus Milner, Jay Miller, Julian Williams and Matt Spencer.

Fans with comcast cable can see the Phillies preseason finale against the IronPigs at 2:00 today on CW 57, which is channel 254 on my system in Manchester. One other note about the Phillies game tomorrow. It is on CBS-3 in Philadelphia, which was just moved this week on my cable system to channel 256, so if you are looking for it tomorrow afternoon, try it there. Then there is the National League opener in the nations capital tonight on ESPN. This Braves v Nationals game will feature a presidential first pitch and a nice look at the beautiful new Nationals Ballpark.

I am sure there will be more news to come and players being moved and/or released today, so keep an eye open here and remember if you hear something before I do, please share!!

Friday, March 28, 2008

prospects rewarded

The Phillies announced Friday morning that they are taking seven minor league players with them for the 2 games with Toronto at Philadelphia Friday night and Saturday afternoon.

They are RHP Jason Anderson
RHP Matt Childers
OF Greg Golson
IF Joe Hammond
C Lou Marson
LHP Brian Mazzone
RHP Will Savage

Suiting up for the preseason finale Sunday in Allentown are Marson,
SS Jason Donald
RHP Carlos Carrasco
RHP Pat Overholt
RHP Ron Hill

The Phillies also complicated things by signing free agent pitcher Tim Lahey off waviers from the Cubs. By my count, that fills the roster for opening day. They also sent Ray Olmedo and Chris Snelling to AAA, which overcrowds the IronPigs roster. They then signed free agent Chris Woodward, and assigned him to minor league camp.

There are obviously more cuts coming.

There are 6 days until opening night in Lakewood.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Z-Man facing another surgery

The roller coaster that is the career of Mike Zagurski continues. The Phillies website is reporting that the lefty, who is recovering from a torn right hamstring, may need Tommy John surgery to repair his left elbow. Z-Man, who was a big part of the BlueClaws championship season in 2006 as well as making a splash with the Phillies last year, is seeking a second opinion. It is customary in these cases to get a second opinion to make sure.

If he has this surgery, he will miss all of 2008 and possibly part of 2009.

On Monday, the Phillies traded Michael Garciaparra to the the Orioles for future considerations, and announced that right handed pitcher Steve Green will stay in Florida to continue to build his arm strength. This leaves one spot remaining on the IronPigs roster, probably to be filled by someone still in major league camp.

There are 9 days until opening night in Lakewood

Monday, March 24, 2008

the axe has fallen

OK, thanks to my correspondents in Clearwater, here are the cuts from earlier today:

In addition to the 8 I already gave you:

Charles Merricks
JJ Trujilo
Jamie Morales
Jean Guillen
Kirk Bascu
Philip Cuevas
Jermaine Williams
Jared Locke
Chris Rhoads
Daniel Schwartz
Ambiorix Rincon
Jon Forest
Nate Jeans
Nolan Mulligan
Eric Smolin
Jack Tilghman

My heartfelt thanks to Jeff Crupper for his help with this.

The work groups have been rearranged and it appears Penprase and Doug Morales are bound for Clearwater, not returning to Lakewood as I said earlier.

There are still too many bodies on the Phillies major league roster and each work group is still between 3 and 6 heavy, so there will be last minute cuts and shuffling to come.

Among the surprises to me (and the Phils surprise me every year) John Urick stays with Clearwater, and Tim Gradoville and Javon Moran remain at Reading.

Mike Spidale earns a spot as 4th outfielder in Lehigh Valley, joining Jason Jaramillo, JA Happ and Joe Bisenius.

As usual, most of the top prospects are starting the season at Reading.

There are 10 days until opening night in Lakewood.

early Lakewood roster

Posts on other blogs and websites, as well as rumors floating around cyberspace tell me the following:

Lakewood will have an extremely young team in 2008, so we are getting a few guys back to show the younger guys the ropes. Among the returnees, look for closer Garrett Hill (who in my opinion, has nothing left to prove at this level and should be in Clearwater), Zack Sterner and Joel Naughton.

Also appearing destined to start the campaign in Lakewood are Michael Durant, Terrance Warren, D'Arby Myers, Freddy Galvis, Travis Mattair, Dominic Brown, Julian Sampson, Drew Naylor, Jesus Sanchez, and CBA graduate Kyle Slate.

I would also not be surprised to see Zack Penprase and Doug Morales return to the fold.

With only 10 days to go until opening night, and many of today's cuts still unknown to me, this is as far as I can go with this. One name you do not see is Phillies #1 pick Joe Savery, who it seems is heading straight to the Threshers. As camp draws to a close, I will remain vigilant!!

Stay tuned, HomeSiders!!

early cuts

So far, the early cuts are in:

Justin Blaine
Matt Thayer
Paige Dumont
Charlie Yarbrough

Brian Burgamy
Ryan Cameron
Zac Stott
Corey Willey

I am sure the ax will continue to fall hard today

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Philadelphia BlueClaws!!

March Madness not withstanding, it was a wild and wonderful day in Dunedin, Florida for former BlueClaws. It started off with Cole Hamels on the mound and he was his usual dominant self for the first 4 innings. He began to tire in the fifth and was removed with 1 out in the 6th. His final line was 5 earned runs, all in the 5th and 6th, 9 hits, 3 strike outs, including blowing away Frank Thomas on a fastball in the heart of the strike zone. Cool Cole will make one more start in Florida before he gets the ball in game #2 of the regular season. Ryan Howard picked up an RBI, his 11th, with a bases loaded walk, and Carlos Ruiz had 2 doubles, driving in a run and scoring one. All of this has become routine for Phillies fans.

What was not routine was Jason Donald coming in to replace Jimmy Rollins after J-Roll got his 3 at bats. With the Phillies ahead 7-2 in the top of the sixth, JD came to bat with runners on second and third and I said to my wife, "wow, a base hit here and he can drive in 2 runs". Well, Jason took the first pitch from Brandon League, a fast ball out over the plate, and hit a line drive over the right-center field fence for a 3-run homer!! Then, in the 8th inning, he came to bat again with 2 on and nobody out and belted that one over the left field wall for ANOTHER 3 runs!! 2 swings, 6 RBI and a memory to last a lifetime . If that was not enough for BlueClaw fans, 2006 SAL batting champion Mike Spidale got into the act with a double off the center field wall in his only at bat of the game. The Phillies won the game 15-7, with 8 of the RBI going to former Lakewood stars.

In a game that is still going on at this time, original BlueClaw Taylor Buchholz has pitched 2 scoreless innings in relief for Colorado against the Dodgers. This lowers his ERA to 1.74 this spring.

I am still awaiting word from Clearwater on the cuts in minor league camp, and will post as soon as I hear.

Three Disabled

Just a quickie, Homesiders:

Saturday afternoon, the Phillies placed Scott Mathieson, Mike Zagursky and Francisco Rosario on the 15-day disabled list.

There will be major releases later today, so I will keep my ears open for my people down in Clearwater to report who has been let go. These releases will also go a long way to determining which minor league players end up on which team.

For those of you who are new to my postings, players names posted in red are former BlueClaws, while those posted in blue are players who have been on team with our alumni, but never actually played here. We sort of adopt them the same way you would root for other kids on your child's little league or high school team. Among the HomeSiders in Lakewood, we refer to them as "nac" (never a 'Claw")!!

Happy Easter to all and stay tuned for updates.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Around camps

Hello, HomeSiders

Former BlueClaw happenings around the majors:

Thursday in Clearwater Kyle Kendrick pitched 5 shut out innings against the Pirates in the Phillies 3-0 win. Philadelphia hit 3 solo home runs, including the 5th of the spring for Ryan Howard.

I happened to taking a break from March madness Thursday evening, and flipped on to the Mets-Orioles game just in time to see Chris Roberson pinch hit a single off Duaner Sanchez. Robey promptly stole second (because speed kills!). He is 3 for 5 in steals this spring and while teams are sending players back to minor league camps all around the majors, Roberson continues to get his chance to make the Baltimore roster.

Not so lucky is Randy Ruiz. Despite hitting .393 in Minnesota camp, the Twins reassigned "Homie" to minor league camp Friday. If he ends up on the AAA roster, that would put him in Rochester. Rochester, it so happens, will be Lehigh Valley's opponent when I make my maiden road trip to Allentown on April 27.

Another note from Friday, Gavin Floyd pitched 6 innings for the White Sox against the Giants. After allowing 2 runs in the first, Gavin settled in, shutting down San Francisco from there. He gave up only 6 hits, no walks, striking out 4 and lowering his ERA to 5.29.

Ther are 13 days to go until opening night in Lakewood.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Pitching is everything

Three former BlueClaws and a possible future one took to the hill on Tuesday and the results could not have been better. We begin at Bright House Networks field where Cole Hamels got the assignment for the Phillies against the Rays. Cool Cole tossed 6 strong innings, giving up just 1 run on 2 hits, no walks and struck out 7. Ryan Howard (.333 this spring) picked up his 9th RBI with a sac fly.

Meanwhile, over in St. Pete, where the upper minor leaguers spent the afternoon, J.A. Happ threw 4 hitless frames in the AAA game, which ended in a scoreless tie. The Phillies side got only 4 hits, but 3 of them went to ex-'Claws. Javon Moran had 2 and Mike Spidale picked up 1. If I had to guess at this point, I believe both of those outfielders will start the season at AAA Lehigh Valley.

The AA start went to Josh Outman, who was also sharp. 4 innings, 1 run on 4 hits in a 2-1 victory. As in the AAA game , hits were at a premium, Phillies getting 6, with 5 of those going to 2007 BlueClaws Zac Penprase (2 for 2, RBI), Tim Kennelly (2 for 2 with a double) and P.J. Antoniato.

Back at the Carpenter complex in Clearwater, 2007 first round draft pick Joe Savery showed why the Phillies drafted him out of Rice, allowing just 1 earned run in 4 innings, striking out 5. Depending on how well his next few starts go, he could bypass Lakewood and start the season at Clearwater. The Phillies won this game 11-10. Once again Tuffy Gosewisch had a big hit, a 2-run triple and scored 2 runs. Tuffy's 2007 teammates in Lakewood, Adrian Cardenas and Quintin Berry, also had 2 RBI each.

Leaving the field of play for a moment, the HomeSide wire was ringing with good news as I was informed 2001 BlueClaw Mario Delgado became a father two weeks ago. No statistics are currently available on the baby girl. We are waiting for the follow up call for that information and also on where (or if) Mario will be playing this year. He spent 2007 in the independent Northern League with the Kansas City T-Bones.

One final note of interest for BlueClaws fans. 2007 bench coach Joe Alvarez, who was released by the Phillies at the end of last year, has landed on his feet in the Tampa Bay organization, and will be managing in the NY-Penn league with the Hudson Valley Renegades. Joe was an invaluable source of information for me during the 2007 season and I will make every effort to get to a Renegades game this year to say hello. They play their home game in Fishkill, NY, along the banks of the Hudson River. They will also play road contests in Brooklyn, Staten Island, Aberdeen, and of course Williamsport. Did somebody say "road trip"?

There are 15 days to go until opening night in Lakewood.

Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Paddy's Day

Well, Michael Bourn leads us off again, as he belted his second home run of the spring in the Astros 12-10 win over the Dodgers on Monday. He is hitting .333 this spring for Houston.

Speaking of the Dodgers, they were part of an historic series in China over the weekend, and in the second game against the Padres, 2007 BlueClaw Kevin Howard got into the action for L.A. and got himself a single in 2 at bats. Kevin will probably be heading for AAA Las Vegas to start the season.

Also on Sunday, Gavin Floyd got into his third game for the White Sox this preseason. Gavin gave up 5 runs (4 earned) in the first 3 innings before settling down to record a scoreless fourth. Gavin, who has 8 major league wins under his belt, now has a 6.55 ERA in his preparation for this season.

Back to Monday's action, Robinson Tejeda pitched a 1-2-3 inning for the Texas Rangers in their 5-2 loss to Seattle, lowering his springtime ERA to 5.63.

In Clearwater, Carlos Ruiz pounded out 3 hits, scoring 2 runs and driving in another one in the Phillies 6-4 triumph over Cleveland. Carlos is now hitting .417 for the spring.

In minor league camp on Sunday, Will Savage, R.J. Swindel, Brett Harker, Andrew Cruse, and Matt German all threw 2 scoreless innings as the Phillies minor league squads took 3 out of 4 games from Toronto. On the offensive side, the former 'Claws were banging it out: Tuffy Gosowisch belted a home run, part of a 2 hit, 2 RBI day; Matt Thayer had 2 hits, including an RBI triple; while Quintin Berry and Fidel Hernandez both tripled in runs. Julian Williams doubled and scored, and P.J Antoniato, Greg Golson, Brad Harman, and Jason Donald all drove in runs.

So most of the news is good today, and there are 17 days until opening night in Lakewood!!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Welcome, HomeSiders

Welcome, HomeSiders, this is where we have moved to. This way, all you have to do is log on and come to this blog and find out all you want to know about BlueClaws and former BlueClaws. I know the team has it's own blog, this will be the fan's perspective. Well, Superfan's perspective, anyway!!

To start us off, let's see where some of our boys outside the Phillies organization are and how they are doing.

The most prominent former 'Claw will be 2004 Lakewood star Michael Bourn. Bourn, who stole 58 bases for Lakewood in '04, will be the starting center fielder for the Houston Astros to start 2008. Michael has been leading off pretty regularly this spring in Florida, and is hitting over .300 with 7 steals.

Bourn's Lakewood teammate, Randy Ruiz, is currently in spring training with the Minnesota Twins. Randy (my Homie from the Bronx for those who don't know) his hitting .455 this spring, and although he finds himself behind Justin Morneau at first base, his hot bat may earn him a spot on the Twins roster as a pinch hitter, and a DH. He has also been spotted playing a bit in the outfield. The Twins also have 2002 BlueClaw Bobby Korecky, who was recently returned to minor league camp and appears to be heading to AAA Rochester to assume closer duties there.

Gavin Floyd, a 2002 'Claw is likely to find himself in the White Sox starting rotation to start this year. Gavin has only made 2 appearances this spring as a result of a bout with the flu, but Sox skipper Ozzie Guillen has repeated his spot is secure, at least to start the season. At the time of this posting, he is making his 3rd appearance for Chicago against Arizona. You can check the Sox' website for results in an hour or so.

Other former BlueClaws in major league camps are Robinson Tejeda (14 major league wins including 5 last year) with Texas, Taylor Buchholz (12 major league wins, 6 last year) with Colorado, and Chris Roberson (who holds the stolen base record for Lakewood with 59 in 2003) fighting for a roster spot with the Orioles.

As the end of spring training nears, and teams make final cuts and minor league assignments, we will try to keep up with them. As always, I welcome any input anyone has to add, and look foward to feedback from around the Phillies system, and anywhere around minor league ball concerning "our boys".

18 days until opening day.....HERE WE GO NOW!!