Archive for April, 2009

9-9? Acceptable? Really?

April 30, 2009

If mediocrity and inconsistency are two of the symptoms of swine flu, it would seem that the 2009 Trenton Thunder have collectively been afflicted.

Tonight’s 3-2 loss — their second straight loss to the Defenders by that score and third game in the series where they could only muster two runs — sent the Thunder to 9-9.

The Double-A team of one of the best and deepest farm systems in baseball is .500

So, it would be safe to assume that manager Tony Franklin isn’t happy with where the team’s at right now.

“Well, I think we’re better than that,” he said.

OK, I’ll bite.  How much better?

“It’s kind of hard to determine right now,” Franklin said.

“But when you’re 9-9 and you’ve been in just about every baseball game, you figure that if you got a hit here or made a play there or made a pitch there, then we’d win a baseball game.  I don’t know what that translates (into) in terms of games, but I certainly think we’re better than a 9-9 team.”

Are they?

The same questions that surrounded this team from the get go are still there; Where is the offense?  Will the back end of the rotation hold up?  Does this team have enough speed to play small ball to compensate for their lack of power?

Offense?  What offense?  The team has scored 60 runs in 18 games, good for the lowest total in the Eastern League.  That’s 3.33 runs a game.  Their four home runs are last in the league, and five teams in the league entered the night already in double digits.  Only 2-15 Harrisburg has drawn less walks, and the club is in the middle of the pack with 11 stolen bases.

The back end of the rotation will dazzle you one night, and frazzle you the next.  Zach McAllister was amazing last Thursday against New Britain, but couldn’t give the Thunder more than four innings yesterday.  Ivan Nova picked up his second straight win last Friday, but needed 95 pitches to get 16 outs tonight.  Ryan Pope made his best Double-A start on the 19th in Connecticut, but followed that up with his worst six days later at Waterfront Park against the Rock Cats.  The talent is there, the consistency isn’t.

Of the 11 stolen bases the Thunder have, six come from Colin Curtis and Edwar Gonzalez.  I wouldn’t consider either player as being “fast.”  Reegie Corona, who led last year’s team with 24 steals, has a grand total of two so far.

And then there’s been something that’s made itself painfully obvious that nobody even thought of at the beginning of the year…defensively, the team is atrocious.

Through 18 games, the position players have combined for 28 errors.  Francisco Cervelli has managed to amass five of them while catching, which is almost unheard of.  Eduardo Nunez already has seen “E-6″ pop up on the scoreboard eight times.  Marcos Vechionacci has made five errors.

People who think this team is better than 9-9 will tell you that they’ve been decimated by call-ups (Eric Hacker, Chris Malec, Jose Valdez) and injuries (Edwar Gonzalez). 

In fact, Franklin did just that.

“Let’s face it, we’ve lost some pitching and we’ve lost some hitting,” he said.

“That’s a lot.  You just don’t lose a guy like Malec and a guy like Hacker and a guy like Valdez and not feel it a little bit.  But we’ve replaced those guys, pitching wise.  Maybe not offensive wise, as far as Malec’s concerned, but that’s a lot to ask.  We’re still in this.  We’ve been in some close games, and we have not been blown out, and I’m pretty happy about that.  But we’re better than 9-9, I do know that.”

I guess only time will tell if that’s really the case…

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Game 18: Connecticut @ Trenton

April 30, 2009

Game 18 – Connecticut Defenders @ Trenton Thunder
April 30, 2009
Waterfront Park – Trenton, NJ

Pitching Matchup: TRE Ivan Nova vs. CON Daryl Maday

Starting Lineups:

DEFENDERS

Brad Boyer, DH
Antoan Richardson, LF
Eddy Martinez-Esteve, RF
Brett Pill, 1B
Mike Mooney, CF
Sharlon Schoop, 2B
David Maroul, 3B
Brian Bocock, SS
Jackson Williams, C

THUNDER

Eduardo Nunez, SS
Reegie Corona, 2B
Colin Curtis, CF
Jorge Vazquez, DH
Marcos Vechionacci, 3B
Francisco Cervelli, C
James Cooper, RF
Kevin Smith, 1B
Justin Snyder, LF

Radio Links: Click here for the links to each team’s broadcast.

Live Box Score: The MILB.com direct link is here.

Around the Eastern League: For scores from around the EL, go here.

In-Game Updates (LIVE from the ballpark): Two batters into the game, and Connecticut’s on the board already. Brad Boyer hit a 3-2 double down the left line, and Antoan Richardson bunted out in front of the plate…Boyer was headed to third, and Cervelli threw low to first, scoring Boyer. 1-0, Defenders. 0 out, T1. Awesome.

Also, Chad Jennings is reporting that Jason Stephens will be making a spot start for Scranton.

Eddy Martinez-Esteve triples to center over Colin Curtis’ head, scoring Richardson. 2-0, still nobody out.

1-2-3 inning by the Thunder offense…2-0, T2.

Nova’s at about 70 pitches through five innings. Trenton’s tied the game at 2…Eduardo Nunez singled home a run in the third, and Marcos Vechionacci doubled home Colin Curtis in the 4th. Curtis hit a long double to get things going in that inning in the first place…

Mike Mooney with a long sac fly to center…Connecticut takes a 3-2 lead, T6.

95 pitches for Nova through 5 and a third, and that’s it for him. Two back-to-back inefficient outings by Trenton starters. The bases are loaded with one out, and Kanekoa Texeira is now in.

One pitch for Tex, one 4-3 DP. That’s how you do it. 3-2, heading into B6.

Maday’s out after five for the Defenders…Ben Snyder now in the game.

Nice job by Texeira…Noel Castillo in to pitch the 9th. In case I forget by the time I post his photo and video, he was at 89-92 with his fastball early in the inning. Still 3-2…

Dan Otero in for Connecticut in the 9th to close this puppy out…

Vazquez, Vechionacci don’t get it out of the infield…Cervelli singles to center. Fortenberry pinch runs for Cervelli…Cooper walks…Smith up in a 3-2 game with the tying run at 2nd…just like last night…groundout to pitcher, over.

In-Game Photos:

curtis

Colin Curtis

nova1

Ivan Nova

snyder1

Justin Snyder

In-Game YouTube Videos:

Check out my YouTube account for an Ivan Nova video…

Final Score: 3-2, CT.

Thunder Thoughts:

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Game 18: Pre-Game Notes

April 30, 2009

5:35 PM — Alan Horne has officially been added to the roster.  He is set to pitch Saturday…but again, things may change.

Lineups…

DEFENDERS

Brad Boyer, DH
Antoan Richardson, LF
Eddy Martinez-Esteve, RF
Brett Pill, 1B
Mike Mooney, CF
Sharlon Schoop, 2B
David Maroul, 3B
Brian Bocock, SS
Jackson Williams, C

THUNDER

Eduardo Nunez, SS
Reegie Corona, 2B
Colin Curtis, CF
Jorge Vazquez, DH
Marcos Vechionacci, 3B
Francisco Cervelli, C
James Cooper, RF
Kevin Smith, 1B
Justin Snyder, LF

4:05 PM — It appears they’re working on a pickoff/rundown drill.

4:00 PM — The entire team is meeting with Tony Franklin near the mound before the start of BP. I assume he’s giving them the “uhhh, hey maybe you guys should start winning some games sometime soon” speech.

3:55 PM — Also, if you’re on the fence about heading out to the game, keep in mind it’s dollar beer night. Just don’t overdo it, folks…

3:25 PM — The only news I can really think of is that Alan Horne is still here. Given all the speculation about where he’s actually going to pitch on Saturday, I suppose that’s newsworthy. If anything else is going on, I’ll be sure to have it, so keep checking back.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Game 17: Post-Game Notes

April 29, 2009

- Zach McAllister was ineffective and inefficient.  Yankees fans can breathe a sigh of relief, though…because that was it.  McAllister was uninjured, despite being pulled after just four innings of work.

“I wasn’t very good,” said McAllister, who allowed three runs (two earned) five hits and four walks while striking out five.

“I fell behind a lot of hitters and kind of struggled with getting my command when I needed to.”

- The bullpen was outstanding in relief of the Thunder’s best prospect, with Wilkins Arias and Josh Schmidt (nice to see him get off the side of the milk carton) combining for five innings of two-hit, scoreless relief.

Arias allowed just one hit and one walk while striking out two in three innings, while Schmidt and his low 80′s “chedd” tallied four K’s and only one hit allowed through the final two frames.

“We’ve got some new people down there, but you look at what Arias did tonight, that was pretty good,” said Thunder manager Tony Franklin.

“If we keep getting performances like that out of our bullpen, we’ll be OK.”

As for Schmidt, he’s one of the best guys to talk on the team, and someone who…and it’s not necessarily my job to tell you who to be a fan of…but someone who you can’t help but root for.  Great guy off the field, and someone who you know doesn’t exactly wow the scouts with how hard he throws…but if you look at the numbers, they’re definitely in his favor.

I’ll take the guy who throws 82-83 and can locate over the guy who throws in the low 90′s and couldn’t find the strike zone on Mapquest any day of the week.

- For as relatively uninteresting and lengthy as the game was, it did have a very exciting ending.  With two outs and James Cooper on second, Kevin Smith lined a ball up the middle for a hit.  Tony Franklin sent Cooper around third, but the center fielder’s throw — while low — was accurate and beat Cooper to the plate.  He tried to bowl over catcher Jackson Williams and knock the ball out, but Williams held on and the game was over.

“That was a tough way to end it,” said Franklin, who was honored with a bobblehead giveaway tonight.

“I was surprised that the outfielder was as close as he was.  But they play a pretty shallow center field and Mooney came up and made a good play and made a heck of a throw.  And the catcher made a great play to hold on to the ball, I though he got hit pretty good.”

- Christian Garcia will be one of two pitchers facing Alex Rodriguez in an extended spring game tomorrow…assumably, he will be sent to Trenton once he’s ready to play.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Hungry For…Uhhh, Bobbleheads?

April 29, 2009

0429092336

It was Tony Franklin bobblehead night at the ballpark, and the friendly skipper was immortalized with what you see above.

I just so happen to have an extra one, and figured I’d give it away here on the blog.

The first reader who sets me up on a date with their 20-something sister/daughter reader who can come the closest to guessing the total amount of professional games I’ve covered in my seven year career as of April 29, 2009 will win the bobblehead.

E-mail me at mashmore98 AT gmail.com with the subject “BOBBLEHEAD” with your guess.  I’ll accept your entries until May 8th.

Hungry For Food?

April 29, 2009

Hi, I’m Mike Ashmore from Mike Ashmore’s Thunder Thoughts, Inside the Trenton Devils with Mike Ashmore, AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com, MikeAshmore.com and the Hunterdon County Democrat.

And when I’m in the Hamilton area and in search of a…uhhh, ristorante, I go to Rosa’s.

Rosa’s Ristorante caters the Thunder players post-game meals.  Eat what the players eat and such.

Find them on 3442 S. Broad St. in Hamilton, or give them a call at (609)581-9053. 

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Game 17: Connecticut @ Trenton

April 29, 2009

Game 17 – Connecticut Defenders @ Trenton Thunder
April 29, 2009
Waterfront Park – Trenton, NJ

Pitching Matchup: TRE Zach McAllister vs. CON Henry Sosa

Starting Lineups:

DEFENDERS

Brock Bond, 2B
Brad Boyer, 3B
Eddy Martinez-Esteve, DH
Bobby Felmy, LF
Mike Mooney, CF
Andrew D’Allesio, 1B
Tyler LaTorre, C
Sharlon Schoop, SS
Antoan Richardson, RF

THUNDER

Eduardo Nunez, SS
Reegie Corona, 2B
Colin Curtis, CF
Jorge Vazquez, DH
Marcos Vechionacci, 3B
James Cooper, RF
Kyle Anson, C
Kevin Smith, 1B
Justin Snyder, LF

Radio Links: Click here for the links to each team’s broadcast.

Live Box Score: The MILB.com direct link is here.

Around the Eastern League: For scores from around the EL, go here.

In-Game Updates (LIVE from the ballpark): This Alan Horne stuff is the biggest news to hit here all season, so it’s going to be a little light until I get everything hammered out with that.

PLEASE LOOK BELOW THIS POST FOR HORNE QUOTES, VIDEOS AND PHOTO. ALSO, COMING SOON WILL BE TOMMY PHELPS QUOTES RE: HORNE.

McAllister looking good through one…he struck out two of the first three batters he faced.

Mike Mooney doubles home a run off of McAllister in the third, after an outstretched Colin Curtis just missed corraling the ball…

In the bottom of the third, with the bases loaded and nobody out, Eduardo Nunez grounds into a 4-3…but also drives home a run. 1-1, B3. 1 out.

Reegie Corona with a little flare to center…2-1, B3, 1 out.

2-2 game after a passed ball eludes Kyle Anson…T4

Trenton’s missing a lot of chances here…it’s now 3-2 Defenders, T5.

McAllister out…after 4? Wilkins Arias in. I don’t think he threw enough pitches to where he’d get taken out…I wonder what’s up.

In-Game Photos:

vazquezattemptstokillusall

Jorge Vazquez lined a ball over the net and into the glass windows that seal off the press box. The window did not handle this well…

In-Game YouTube Videos:

Final Score: 3-2, Defenders

Thunder Thoughts:

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

EXCLUSIVE: Alan Horne Side Session Videos and Photo

April 29, 2009

Click here to view YouTube videos

horne

EXCLUSIVE: Tommy Phelps Talks About Horne

April 29, 2009

Phelps quotes:

“He pitches on the 2nd in New Britain.”

“He’s going to start every fifth day, build strength up.  I think he’s only eight, nine months (off of surgery), which is pretty quick.  He’s been pitching the ball well down there, it’s just a matter of him getting back in the swing of things and then it’s Mark Newman and all them’s call.”

“His pitch count is going to be the same as everybody else’s, and he’ll work his way up.  I think the last game, he threw six innings, seventy-some pitches or something like that.  He’ll be on the normal routine.  So I haven’t heard anything different.”

“I saw him pitch down in spring training.  I think he was just starting to get into games, mostly BP’s and stuff getting ready for games.  He was throwing the ball well.  His arm was working well.  But there’s going to be times, especially when you’re rehabbing, there’s going to be some highs and some valleys.  You work through those with your arm strength and whatnot.  He’ll have those moments this year and maybe next year.  But I think they did a little cleanup, and he’s going to be fine.”

“I definitely will watch when he starts to labor or get tired.  Some other guys, you might try to work them through that stage.  But for him, we’ll take care of his arm.  Our number one concern for all our pitchers is their health.  And then from there, it’s them winning and them competing.  But their number one thing is their health.”

Mike Ashmore, mashm0re98 AT gmail.com

EXCLUSIVE: Alan Horne Is Here, Starting Saturday (With Quotes)

April 29, 2009

I just came running up from the field, where Alan Horne just got done throwing a side session in front of pitching coach Tommy Phelps. Francisco Cervelli caught about 35 of Horne’s pitches.

Before my recorder went on, Horne told me he felt the side went well…also, Tommy Phelps confirmed to me exclusively that HORNE WILL BE STARTING FOR THE THUNDER SATURDAY.

Photos and video coming soon.

Here are quotes from Alan Horne:

“I was throwing everything with no problems, no pain or anything like that. The main thing with me really is to keep building my arm strength through number of pitches and just getting in game situations. I’m trying to get some velo back. I’ve been running on almost two years without a break from throwing last off-season and getting ready for the season and throwing and rehabbing all of last year. It’s a long process right now, and I’m just trying to continue to try and build and work through it and hopefully just keep getting a little better every time out. That’s what I was doing down in Tampa, just trying to build every time out.”

Horne’s face lit up when I asked him about getting into an actual game on Saturday…

“That’s big. I haven’t really done that in a while. I was so streaky last year, I got to make a couple starts here and there, but I never really got to find a rhythm. Then I got into a few extended spring games down (in Tampa), and I’m starting to find that rhythm a little bit and I’m ready to start testing it against some competition. Get a little adrenalin going, things like that. It’s tough to do that in a controlled environment like in spring training.”

Horne talks about his up and down last few seasons…

“It’s tough. I was right there knocking on the door. Arguably, I could have been the first or one of the first guys called up last year. I didn’t have to throw very well for very long to be one of the guys. Last year, I just kept trying to push through it, but I could never make it back, but I finally got a reason for it at the end of the year. I found out I needed the surgery, which probably was needed a lot earlier than that. We just weren’t aware of it. I’m just glad to be back and going in the right direction now. It’s still going to be a long process, but I plan on having a long career, so that’s all right.”

Horne talks about returning to the site of his best pro season…

“To get back to some competition at the higher levels and come back here, which is a familiar setting and where I had some success a couple years ago, it’s a big thing. Hopefully I can continue to build on my success from a couple years ago here and keep going up.”

Horne drove up to Trenton yesterday and arrived in the clubhouse at around 5:45. He threw a side session at around 6:20.

I’ll have quotes from Phelps later on…had to bust tail to post that stuff, so I have to do the game thread and so on.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 52 other followers