Archive for August, 2012

Cashman Addresses Trenton Media

August 30, 2012

Brian Cashman (left) watches as the player development contract was signed today in Trenton, extending the agreement through 2022

Gracious as always, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman spent about 10 minutes with a large group of media members in the Yankee Club at Waterfront Park following the player development contract press conference.

I was able to fire off quite a few of the questions you’ll see answered below…

You could have put your Double-A affiliate anywhere…what made you initially align with the Thunder in 2003, and what made you want to stick around for as long as it seems like you guys are going to?

Brian Cashman: “Well, Joe Plumeri started the conversations with us.  We experienced the Trenton situation with other affiliates and knew it was a great situation.  It’s close to the Yankees.  They run an unbelievable operation.  We knew that all you ever heard about was all the Yankee fans there nestled away down here in Mercer County.  It’s just been awesome marriage.  There’s no reason not for it to continue.  This is home.  They’re a part of our family, and I’m thankful they feel we’re a part of their family.”

How did you arrive at extending this through 2022 as opposed to a shorter term?

Brian Cashman: “We have no interest in moving anywhere and we just kind of wanted to solidify it publicly.  They kind of mentioned it from their perspective. They’ve always been so accomodating to anything we ever need, so there’s no reason to consider moving anywhere else.  This is the best  place we could possibly be, and the extension of the PDC is a public recognition of that.  I consider this the best minor league operation in all of sports.”

With Tony Franklin being named Eastern League Manager of the Year, that must mean a lot to you guys as an organizaton as well…can you just talk a little bit about him finally winning that award here?

Brian Cashman: Tony’s an ace.  He’s such a pro.  He’s done so much for our franchise, our players are in great hands with him here.  He’s obviously been great here in the community.  He’s just got the perfect demeanor for what we’re looking for at this level.  Trusting him with our assets at this level has been very easy to do since he came to us.”

Is he at the point in his career where he sort of dictates whether he comes back next season?

Brian Cashman: “Mark Newman has those (conversations) with him.  I’m very happy with Tony.  But obviously at this stage of the game for him, he’s very happy and doing what he wants to do, but he’ll let us know if this isn’t something that he’s interested in doing anymore.  But I think he’s happy, too.”

What specifically does he offer young players?

Brian Cashman: “Well, he’s been in the big leagues and he’s gone through the system…he’s calm, there’s no panic in Tony.  These kids, they’re fighting for a career.  Their hopes and dreams kind of rise and fall with their performance on a weekly and monthly basis, and you need someone with a steady hand to help guide them through those emotional rollercoasters of competition.  He’s got a tremendous personality and leadership to help influence these kids for us.”

Do you anticipate any big league rehabs coming here soon, such as A-Rod?

Brian Cashman: “Alex is going to start a rehab assignment tomorrow in the Florida State League.  We’re on the road in Lakeland, so he’ll play through the weekend for our Florida State League affiliate and then we’ll re-evaluate and see where he’s at.”

How about Andy Pettitte?

Brian Cashman: “We’re not even at the point where I can think about that.  He hasn’t even got on the mound yet.”

Is Gardner a possibility as a pinch runner?

Brian Cashman: “I don’t think so.  I’m not thinking that way at all.  If he can’t help us in every aspect, I don’t know if that’s going to help us.  We’ve got to be comfortable putting him out there on the defensive side, because if it goes extra innings, it’s not something we’re looking at.”

At this point of the year, it’s an interesting time with September call-ups…how do you determine which players you call up now and which ones you wait for until their seasons are done?

Brian Cashman: “It’s all hands on deck.  We’re obviously in a race, and it’s tight.  So I’m going to call up whoever I feel we can utilize now.  That’s as simple as that.  We’ve already gone through that with our staff.  We haven’t announced who it’s going to be, but we know who we’re going to do on Saturday.”

There’s obviously a lot of players on this Thunder roster who have stood out all season here…but who are the guys who have stood out to you or the organization that are here?

Brian Cashman: “Well we’ve got some guys, especially Montgomery.  He’s a guy that we promoted, and he’s someone that I’ve been following.  I think he’s got a pretty wicked slider that can move pretty quick through the system, not necessarily this year.  He’s one guy right off the bat — we have other guys too — but Montgomery is someone that I think is knocking on the major league door here in the next year or so.”

It seems like Dellin Betances has regressed this season…is it safe to say that he’s a guy that you would have hoped would have helped you at the big league level this year?

Brian Cashman: “Yeah, I thought he could.  But, baseball’s a difficult game, and yeah he’s obviously struggled with his command this year and he’s obviously on the DL.  It’s been a disappointing year for Dellin, but it doesn’t change his ceiling and it doesn’t change his potential.  Prospects are suspects, and he’s in the prospect category that had a suspect season.”

How do you guys view him in the future in terms of starting or relieving?

We’ve talked about all that stuff, but we just want to get him healthy first.  Obviously, guys who are failed starters become relievers.  He’s got a number of weapons that, if he can command them, he’d be a candidate for a rotation spot.  But if he can’t, obviously he’ll go to the bullpen.”

Has anybody in this organization who was under the radar kind of come out of nowhere to make a mark in the system this year?

Brian Cashman: “I think earlier it was Tyler Austin.  He just catapulted himself up the prospect list with what he did down in Charleston and obviously carried it up into Tampa.  He has to have the high mark…he was a prospect, but now he’s made himself a mega-prospect.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Mark Newman Interview, Part Deux

August 30, 2012

Mike Ashmore: As an organization, how do you determine which guys you send to the Arizona Fall League?

Newman: “Several factors. First is who needs at-bats, and who is in a physical and mental condition at the end of the year where they can gain from another 50 games out there. That’s the major consideration. We typically want to find players with upside that can make a step in their progress toward the big leagues in that 50-game pod or whatever you want to call it. Those are the criteria.

Pitching can really be difficult because you can’t wear guys out. You’ve got so many bullets, and you don’t want to go beyond a certain limit with them. That’s a little trickier than position players.”

MA: I know the pitchers haven’t been announced yet, but what kind of names are you throwing around as far as guys who might be heading out there?

Newman: “We haven’t announced it because we’re not throwing the names around. There’s several, there’s a group of ten or so.”

MA: Is it typically guys who haven’t had a lot of innings that you’ll send out there?

Newman: “Right. Relievers or starters that have been short on innings is basically it.”

MA: With Betances, was there anything serious on the MRI?

Newman: “No. Biceps tendinitis. He’s had it a couple other times in his life, no structural problem with his shoulder.”

JN: So what’s the next step for him? I know he said he’s going back to Tampa on Friday…

Newman: “He’s got medication, then some treatment and arm exercise programs and then he’ll start to throw.”

JN: How much do you guys work with him on the between the ears side of the game?

Newman: “We’ve worked with him and everybody else. We talk about three aspects of the athlete all the time. Physical; bigger, stronger, faster…Fundamental; catch it, throw it, slide, hit…and mental and emotional. Understanding the game from a strategical and tactical standpoint and then feel the right away about yourself and how you fit in this game at various times. We deal with that with everybody and he’s no different.

Obviously, everybody thinks that he’s a big guy with great stuff and shows flashes of brilliance. We know he needs consistency, well it must be in his head. Well, he needs to improve his ability to concentrate over extended periods of time, but there’s other things that go with it too, there’s a physical component. We don’t think you can isolate any one of those three things; fundamental, physical or mental/emotional. That’s the issue. Typically, there’s multiple issues with every player and there is with him too.”

JN: Is that last aspect — whether that’s his problem or not — is that the hardest to treat?

Newman: “The hardest thing to treat is no ability. I can’t tell you the number of kids I’ve seen over my lifetime in this business that have improved mentally and emotionally and gotten confidence and gained an understanding of the tactical side of the game. Addy has made great improvement, and there’s no reason Dellin can’t do that. Dellin’s had moments where he’s looked like a big leaguer and moments where he was less than that.

He still has major league ability, and we still think he’s going to be a major league pitcher. A lot of times, watching these guys develop, it’s like watching a guy walk up a flight of stairs with a yo-yo. If you focus on the yo-yo, you get the up and down. If you focus on the bigger picture, you see up and down, but overall an increase in performance. You see that with a lot of guys, and with him it hasn’t exactly been that way, but we have confidence that he’s going to get it going and be consistent.”

JN: You said he’s a major league pitcher, do you still see him as a major league starter?

Newman: “We think he can pitch in either role. It might be quicker for him to get there as a reliever. Easier. And we’re not sure how we’re going to pursue this in the long term, but right now he’s a starter.”

MA: Pardon my ignorance on the eligibility rules aspect of it, but is Dellin someone you could and/or would send to the AFL?

Newman: “Yes. I’m not sure that we do because of the health issues, we want to make sure he’s 100 percent.”

MA: Could you foresee guys coming up from Tampa at the end of the year up here? This team is a little thin right now…

Newman: “Yeah, that’s possible. Tampa’s still in it, so we’ll worry about that when it happens. The thing that’s going to drive all this is call-ups in New York on September 1st. We’re not sure what that’s going to be, but that affects…we’ve got right Scranton right now, these guys have a good chance, Tampa’s got a chance. If all three of them in the playoffs, that could get hairy.”

JN: How do you guys value minor league playoffs as far as development is concerned? Does it help them to be in a postseason environment?

Newman: “Yeah, it does. It’s something we think is important. They need to get used to playing in that kind of environment. And we win a lot, we win a lot in Triple-A, and our guys…it doesn’t hurt their development at all. It’s part of being a Yankee. You go out and try to win.” 

Franklin Named Manager of The Year

August 30, 2012

Tony Franklin accepting his award from Thunder GM Will Smith

TRENTON — Finally.

At the press conference in which the Thunder and Yankees extended their player development contract, Tony Franklin was named the 2012 Eastern League Manager of the Year.  In his sixth season with the club, the extraordinarily popular 62-year-old skipper has led his team to a 77-60 record, good for first place in the Eastern Division.

He’s also won two championships, and led Trenton to four playoff appearances in six seasons, but had never before won the award.  In true Franklin fashion, he deflected the attention from himself, instead choosing to acknowledge his coaching staff and players when handed the honor.

“I humbly accept this.  This is a really, really, really nice honor,” he said.

“But awards like these don’t happen by me being out there, there are a lot of people that go into helping guys receive these awards…my coaching staff; pitching coach Tommy Phelps, coach of everything Luis Dorante and our hitting coach extraordinare, we’ve hit like crazy, Tommy Slater.  They’re all tireless workers, very experienced and passionate about what they do.  They’re one of the biggest reasons why I can stand up here and accept all these accolades.

“Of course, the players are the ones that make it all possible.  They’re the ones out there every single day.  These guys have played tremendously well for us, and I can’t say enough about how well they’ve played this season.  I know that they’ll continue to do it.”

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, who was present for the news conference, joined a long list of those raving about the efforts of Franklin, who is 99 games over .500 as Thunder manager (482-383).

“Tony’s an ace,” Cashman said. 

“He’s such a pro.  He’s done so much for our franchise, our players are in great hands with him here.  He’s obviously been great here in the community.  He’s just got the perfect demeanor for what we’re looking for at this level.  Trusting him with our assets at this level has been very easy to do since he came to us.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Game 138: Pre-Game Notes

August 30, 2012

3:55 PM Lineups…

New Britain

Hicks, CF
Herrmann, C
Arcia, RF
Colabello, 1B
Pinto, DH
Romero, 3B
Hanson, 2B
Tosoni, LF
Beresford, SS

Hermsen, P

Trenton

Garcia, CF
Murphy, DH
Adams, 3B
Almonte, RF
Maruszak, SS
Mahoney, 1B
Segedin, LF
Farnham, C
Ibarra, 2B

Hall, P

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Game 137: Pre-Game Notes

August 29, 2012

6:05 PM — Josh Norris and I spoke to Mark Newman for about ten minutes…stay tuned for a joint release on that most likely tomorrow.

In addition, David Adams was one of three Yankees prospects named to play in the Arizona Fall League today.  Slade Heathcott and Austin Romine were the others…

Also, lineups…

Thunder lineup: Garcia CF, Murphy C, Adams DH, Almonte RF, Murton 1B, Mahoney 2B, Segedin 3B, Brown LF, Ibarra SS, O’Brien P

Rock Cats lineup: Hicks CF, Hanson DH, Arcia RF, Colabello 1B, Tosoni LF, Romero 3B, Rohlfing C, De Los Santos SS, Beresford 2B, Darnell P

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Game 136: Post-Game Notes

August 29, 2012

– The confidence is back. And so too is a postseason berth for the Trenton Thunder, their ninth playoff appearance in 19 seasons of existence and sixth in ten years as a Yankees affiliate.

Today’s game — a 7-4 win over a fading New Britain club — was essentially the opposite of yesterday’s tough loss. This time it was Trenton that got ahead early, putting up six runs on Rock Cats starter Steve Hirschfeld in the first two innings. The Thunder hit three home runs in those first two innings; one each from David Adams, Addison Maruszak and Adonis Garcia. Garcia would add another longball later on.

Vidal Nuno cruised through six innings of one-run ball, and although there were some hiccups after he came out from Graham Stoneburner and rehabbing big leaguer Pedro Feliciano, Ryan Pope came in to record the final five outs and seal the win.

There was no ridiculous celebration — typical of a Tony Franklin team — but there were a few players dancing in the clubhouse…quite poorly, I might add.

“I told them we’ll celebrate like no other when we win what we’ve come here from the start of the season to win,” Franklin said.

“We haven’t done anything yet, this is just the first step. We’re in the playoffs, and that’s a good thing. It seems like it took forever to get here, but we made it and it’s a good start.”

The swagger seems to be back.

“There was that two-week stretch where we were pretty down on ourselves, but we battled back,” said David Adams.

“We put together a couple wins, and then after losing the first one yesterday, I think it only got us a little more hungry. I think we’re building that excitement back up and that confidence back up, and I’m excited to see what we can do.

There is, of course, a fine line between confidence and cockyness. To be clear, Addison Maruszak spoke confidently after the game about his team’s chances once the playoff start on September 5th.

“We’re pretty confident that we can win it,” he said.

“If you’re not confident that you can win it, then you’re probably not going to win it. Even when you’re not playing good, you’ve got to be confident and that’s probably the hardest thing to do in life. When something’s going wrong, just to still be confident that it’s going to be OK. Right now, I feel like we should be the team to beat. I know Reading and Ruf are doing real well and stuff, but we should feel like we could beat them. If we don’t feel like we can beat them, something’s wrong.”

– For Adams, he finally got to experience the feeling of clinching a playoff berth in a Thunder uniform. Adams was on the 2010 team that went to the championship series…except he never got that far, not even close. He missed the majority of the last year and a half due to an ankle injury, but now that he’s back and healthy, he’s glad that he’s getting the opportunity to advance to the postseason in the capital city.

“It’s exciting, but at the same time, like (Tony said), we’re excited but this isn’t the goal,” he said. “The goal is to win the big one. I think a lot of guys agree, we’re going to save that celebration for when it happens.”

Watching a team he should have been on advance to the playoffs two seasons ago, Adams says, wasn’t easy.

“It was tough, especially with one of my best friends, Dan Brewer, being on the team and he got real hot and carried the team,” he said. “I talked to him all the way through it, so hearing it from him, I was excited for him. It’s one of those things, especially them losing in the championship, it’s like what if I could have been there? But I’m here now, so hopefully we can pull it out.”

– Maruszak exited the game in the fourth inning after fouling a ball off his calf, but expects to be able to play tomorrow if needed.

“I’ve faced that guy before, and he’s never thrown cutters like that,” said Maruszak of the odd occurence of fouling a ball off his calf.

“It just got under my barrel a tad enough for me to square it off for me to hit me in my calf. I’ve fouled balls off before and it’s never been like this, but I guess I just hit it in a perfect spot where it just started balling up. I was fine, I could go, I could do everything. But I couldn’t sprint, I couldn’t give 100 percent down the line…I think it’s up to me not to let that go and to tell somebody. It’s not right for me to not be able to go 100 percent and not tell anybody. I don’t want to be in there if I’m going to hurt the team.”

– Walter Ibarra is still “under the weather,” according to Tony Franklin, and that’s why he couldn’t come in the game tonight and the defense had to shift around the way it did…Ibarra has not played since August 22, but is not on the disabled list.

– Darin Ruf hit his 37th home run of the season tonight for the Reading Phillies, tying the franchise record set by Ryan Howard…however, when you consider it’s a franchise that’s been around since 1967, and it makes what Ruf has done all the more impressive. So too does the fact that 19 of those 37 longballs have come THIS MONTH. Safe to say that Ruf was on my MVP ballot this year…

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

VIDEO: PEDRO FELICIANO POST-GAME PRESS CONFERENCE

August 28, 2012

VIDEO: PEDRO FELICIANO REHAB, 8/28/2012

August 28, 2012

Pedro Feliciano allowed both inherited runners to score on Tuesday night

Game 136: Pre-Game Notes

August 28, 2012

6:10 PM — Spoke to Brett Marshall for something you’ll see a little way down the road…he’s your likely Game 1 starter once the playoffs begin.

4:50 PM — Lineups…

Thunder lineup: Garcia CF, Murphy C, Adams 3B, Almonte RF, Murton 1B, Maruszak SS, Mahoney 2B, Segedin LF, Gil DH, Nuno P

NB lineup: Hicks CF, Pinto C, Arcia RF, Colabello 1B, Hanson DH, Romero 3B, Rohlfing LF, Roof 2B, Beresford SS, Hirschfeld P

2:20 PM — Uh, well.  It’s 2:20.  So there’s not  a whole hell of a lot going on here.  Stump Merrill is supervising J.R. Murphy and Jeff Farnham on throwing drills from behind the plate.  That do anything for you?  Yeah, I thought so.  I’ll have lineups and whatnot for you as the day unfolds here in lovely Trenton.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Game 135: Post-Game Notes

August 27, 2012

– Let’s start from the beginning. That was not one of Craig Heyer’s best outings tonight. Making a spot start, the affable righty lasted just 2 1/3 innings, allowing six runs in a nightmare first frame. He gave up seven runs in all, and has allowed 29 earned runs in 28 innings since coming off the disabled list (right arm soreness) on June 30.

“Arm-wise, I feel good. Mechanically, I don’t,” Heyer said after the game.

“It was just a bad outing today. I haven’t thrown well from the second half on. You’ve got to keep battling out there. If I do get the ball again in five days, I’m going to battle my ass off again and we’ll see what happens.”

Thunder manager Tony Franklin isn’t concerned about Heyer just yet, but acknowledges that he needs to be better.

“He hasn’t pitched a lot,” he said. “It’s very difficult when you’re not in there on a regular basis pitching. You pitch an inning here and an inning there, and he’s in and out of the bullpen, and it’s not easy to do. Do I wish that he was a little bit more sound right now? Yeah. But it’s difficult to do when you haven’t been in there a lot.”

When offered this as an excuse, Heyer didn’t take it.

“It’s not real difficult,” said Heyer of his many roles.  “I’ve been doing it for a couple years now, so it’s not too difficult to do.  It’s just mechanically, I’ve got to find it.  If you’re not doing your job, how many chances are you going to get?  I have to work some stuff out with (pitching coach) Tommy (Phelps) and see if I can get something figured out.”

– Luke French, on the other hand, was outstanding.  The former big leaguer threw a nine inning complete game against Trenton, which is something you next to never see in the Eastern League.  The hulking lefty allowed only a Kevin Mahoney fifth inning home run to break up his shutout, and befuddled the Thunder lineup all night.  Just two years removed from the big leagues, he knows an outing like this was a big step towards a possible return there.

“I pitched pretty good down here, but didn’t have the same success in Triple-A,” French said.

“I know what I’m capable of, but for a couple years it just hasn’t been good. If anything, this is just a reminder to myself that I can do it. I may not have the best stuff, I may not have the hardest fastball, but I know how to get guys out. It was just a year and a half ago I was pitching in the big leagues. I can still do it.”

– Oh yeah, a major leaguer rehabbed with Trenton today.  Pedro Feliciano faced four hitters — three of them lefties — and struck out two while walking one in a scoreless sixth.  He’s still expected to throw one inning tomorrow and another on Thursday before finally getting back to the big leagues for the first time since 2010.

“I felt good, I just need to work on my mechanics,” he said. “I just pulled back a few times, and that’s why I threw a few balls. Everything’s there (physically), but it’s just working on mechanics.”

Feliciano told me that he was pulling his head back a little too much, and opened himself up a bit, leading to a little bit of erratic command.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com


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