Archive for May, 2008

If you like bobbleheads…

May 31, 2008

The Thunder have made some adjustments to their bobblehead giveaway schedule.

Here’s the remainder of the bobblehead schedule:

June 11: Melky Cabrera
June 25: Chien-Ming Wang
July 2: Scott Patterson
July 9: Phil Hughes
July 30: Ian Kennedy & Joba Chamberlain
August 13: Ian Kennedy
August 20: Jose Tabata

Several of those dates were listed as “Bobblehead Giveaway TBD” on many schedules, and the July 2nd giveaway was originally to be a George Washington bobblehead.

And yes, that is a Jose Tabata doll.

Sadly, a Brian McNamee bobblehead commemorating The Rocket’s appearance last May is nowhere to be seen.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Game 55: Trenton @ New Britain

May 31, 2008

Game 55 – Trenton Thunder @ New Britain Rock Cats
May 31, 2008
New Britain Stadium – New Britain, CT

Pitching Matchup: TRE Phil Coke (4-1, 3.38 ) vs. NB Errol Simonitsch (0-2, 10.67)

Starting Lineups:


1 – Pena
2 – Jackson
3 – Curtis
4 – Gonzalez
5 – Russo
6 – Tabata
7 – Pilittere
8 – Malec
9 – Corona

New Britain

1 –
2 –
3 –
4 –
5 –
6 –
7 –
8 –
9 –

Pre-Game Notes:

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

Live Box Score: The direct link is here.

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

Final Score: 13-3, Thunder

Post-Game Notes: The Thunder had 21 hits in this one, including four by both P.J. Pilittere and Chris Malec.  Every Trenton starter except Jose Tabata had an RBI.

Phil Coke only lasted two innings thanks to a rain delay, and Mark Melancon replaced him and threw 3.2 innings of relief.  His line isn’t all that good: 3.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1 HR

Thunder Thoughts: Jason Jones (7-1, 2.36) is set to take on Oswaldo Sosa (2-4, 6.46) tomorrow.  Sosa is the Twins 23rd best prospect, according to Baseball America.

The Thunder are off on June 2nd, but then Eric Hacker’s on the bump in Connecticut on the 3rd, and George Kontos is set to fire on the 4th.  That would have Alfredo Aceves pitching on the 5th, then Coke on the 6th in Trenton, JJ on the 7th, Hacker on the 8th, an off day on the 9th, Kontos on the 10th and Aceves on the 11th. 

So if you live near Trenton, and want to see Aceves, it looks like the 11th is the day you should be buying tickets for.  And you get a Melky Cabrera bobblehead (if you’re one of the first 2,000 fans).

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Eight Minutes With Mark Melancon

May 31, 2008

I promised that I would post the entire interview I did with Yankees prospect and Trenton Thunder reliever Mark Melancon a couple weeks ago.

So now, in its entirety, is my chat with Melancon, which took place in the Thunder dugout.

Mike Ashmore: The Yankees picked you in the ninth round of the 2006 draft.  Take me back to that day, what was that like for you…

Mark Melancon: “It was exciting.  There was a lot of talk that I might go higher.  I knew that I’d either go real high or fall back because of my arm.  It was both, it was mixed emotions.  Once it was all said and done, I was very happy with what happened.”

Ashmore: Considering that you got picked by the Yankees, and all the history and tradition that comes with that, what did it mean to you to get picked by them?

Melancon: “At first, I thought it might be a slow process of getting to the big leagues.  But after I learned a little more about it, the Yankees had a different mentality.  And obviously we’ve seen that with Joba and Ian and Hughes and some other guys.  It’s the perfect situation.”

Ashmore: What team did you grow up following?

Melancon: “The Rockies.”

Ashmore: Hmmm.  Their pitching has always been…ummm, interesting.  Safe to assume there was nobody there who you really tried to model your game after?

Melancon: “No, and I still don’t.  When a game’s on TV, I like to just watch the pitcher no matter who it is.  I didn’t really have anybody that I really looked up to.”

Ashmore: Tell me about your experience being the closer at Arizona.  It seems like your performance there is what really put you on the map…

Melancon: “I had an unbelievable experience at Arizona.  I’m so happy that I chose school over the draft out of high school.  It was just a phenomenal learning experience for me, and getting out on my own and stuff like that was great.”

Ashmore: For someone who hasn’t seen you pitch before, can you give me a scouting report on yourself in terms of what you throw and your mentality out there?

Melancon: “I have a two-seam fastball, four-seam fastball, curveball, and a changeup that I’m working on now.  I feel a lot more comfortable with it than I did four or five weeks ago.  I’m trying to incorporate all those pitches.  Just kind of a bulldog mentality…I go after guys, and I’m not afraid to come in and locate inside.  That’s kind of my mentality.”

Ashmore: I’m sure I’m not the first person to tell you this, but that curveball you’ve got is pretty nasty.  Is there a certain way that you throw it that makes it so successful, or…

Melancon: “I think my arm speed.  I don’t spike it, it seems like a lot of guys…the new thing to do is spike it (a different way of gripping the pitch).  I never had a feel for that pitch.  When my curveball’s not as good, it’s usually because my arm speed isn’t there.  I tell myself to throw it hard and mimic a fastball arm speed.”

Ashmore: You have a unique delivery as well.  I don’t really know how to describe it, there’s a sort of catapult-like effect to it…it’s long as well.  Has it always been that way?

Melancon: “No, it’s always been over the top.  I don’t know if that’s good or bad, or if it causes deception.  As of now, it doesn’t seem to be too bad, so I’m going to stick with that.”

Ashmore: You’ve always kept your elbow that stiff during your delivery too?

Melancon: “Yeah, I guess.  I don’t know.”

Ashmore: It seems like there’s so many guys who have been through Tommy John surgery these days, but I don’t think a lot of fans really understand what it’s like to have to go through something like that in terms of rehab.  What was a typical day of rehab like for you?

Melancon: “Well, you go through stages.  Every three weeks or something, you progress.  Initially, it’s real slow, but after a few weeks, you really start moving quickly.  Fortunately for me, my rehab went really well.  I didn’t have any setbacks.  I was able to rehab in Arizona with a guy that really knew what he was doing.  I was thankful to come back to the Yankees, and of course they know what they’re doing.  It was actually a very strenuous rehab as far as working an hour and a half every day on the littlest things, just to secure your shoulder and elbow.  It’s obviously something that strengthens your shoulder enough for you to come back throwing harder.”

Ashmore: So do you feel like your velocity is where it was before, or do you feel like you’re throwing harder…

Melancon: “Well, in college, I’d sit 92 or around there.  And that’s where I’m sitting now.  I feel like I wouldn’t get that velocity earlier in the year and now I feel like I’m getting it sooner in the year.  But I still haven’t thrown that many innings in competitive games to know if I’m going to gain more velocity or what.  But as of right now, I’m very happy with my velocity.”

Ashmore: Are you happy with your progress this season?  Did you feel like you’d be here at this point in the season?

Melancon: “Yeah, I was hoping to be up here by this time.  I struggled a little bit early in Tampa, but recovered from that.  That was just a couple location problems.  But other than that, I’ve been pitching OK and hopefully can keep getting better.”

Ashmore: Everybody says stuff like “the next Joba” when it comes to you…again, I’m well aware I’m not the first person to tell you that.  But when people do say that to you, or you do hear that, what comes to mind…

Melancon: “Well, I’m thankful for Joba opening the door.  Him and Ian, proving that young guys can do it.  But at the same time, that’s fine if they compare me to Joba, because that’s a good thing.  He’s doing really well.  I don’t take that to heart as a bad thing.”

Ashmore: One of the big things on prospect websites or in prospect books or magazines is trying to project when a player like yourself is going to get to the big leagues.  Do you have any goals in mind as far as when you’d like to get there?

Melancon: “No, I don’t.  And that’s why I don’t read those magazines, because nobody knows.  If I pitch well, I think I can be there pretty soon.  But it’s all about consistency.  Those things are over my head, I just have to go out there and be consistent.  If I do that, I feel that I have the stuff to be in the big leagues.”

Ashmore: Off the field, what kind of guy are you?

Melancon: “Laid back.  I really enjoy golf.  Pretty low key.”

Ashmore: We’ll end it on a goofy one…percentage of people who mispronounce your last name?

Melancon: “If they don’t know me…ninety-nine percent (laughs).”

Game 54: Trenton @ New Britain

May 30, 2008

NEWS: Despite last night’s incident, Jose Tabata IS in tonight’s lineup, as first reported here around 3:45 PM. 

Game 54 – Trenton Thunder @ New Britain Rock Cats
May 30, 2008
New Britain Stadium – New Britain, CT

Pitching Matchup: TRE Alfredo Aceves (1-0, 0.00) vs. NB Jay Rainville (4-5, 6.61)

Starting Lineups:


1 – Ramiro Pena
2 – Austin Jackson
3 – Colin Curtis
4 – Edwar Gonzalez
5 – Cody Ehlers
7 – P.J. Pilittere Kevin Russo
8 – Kevin Russo  Joe Muich
9 – Reegie Corona

New Britain

1 – Hughes
2 – Plouffe
3 – Lis
4 – Peterson
5 – Tolleson
6 – Winfree
7 – Martin
8 – Gardenhire
9 – Butera

Pre-Game Notes: Oh, by the way, there is a game to be played tonight. Might seem hard to believe with Tabata Part Deux going on, but the rest of the guys are playing baseball tonight too.

I asked Tony Franklin about Mark Melancon’s four inning outing on Tuesday — and considering that Melancon’s “plan” would entail him pitching today — I figured it would be relevant to post what Tony had to say…

“He had an excellent outing.  Minimal amount of pitches, that’s the longest he had gone.  I’m very pleased with what Melancon did (Tuesday).  Since he’s been here, he’s been very good for us.”

“You start looking at the clicker, and you think oh my goodness gracious, he’s got three innings in, and he’s got about nine pitches per inning.  That’s pretty good, it was unexpected to be honest with you.  We’ve got to protect him a little bit, we’d like to use him in the next few days.  If we let him throw a few more pitches than that, we’d probably lose his services for about three days.”

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

Live Box Score: The direct link is here.

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

Final Score: 2-1, Rock Cats

Post-Game Notes: Jose Tabata was 1-for-4 and scored the only Thunder run.

Thunder Thoughts: If every team sends out a press release like the one Altoona did, then Thunder fans will be able to vote in the position player and pitcher from Trenton they’d like to see in the All-Star Game.

Here’s Altoona’s release…

Altoona Curve fans will have the unique opportunity to directly send two Curve players – one pitcher and one position player – to the 2008 Eastern League All-Star Game, which will be played on Wednesday, July 16 in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Starting today (Friday, May 30) and running through June 26, Curve fans can visit to cast their ballot for one Altoona Curve pitcher and one position player, who they would most like to see in the E.L. All-Star Game. At the end of the voting period, the pitcher and position player with the most votes will represent the Curve in the E.L. All-Star Game on July 16 in New Hampshire.

To participate in fan balloting, fans can either click the banner on the home page or select the “E.L. All-Star Voting” subpage under “FAN ZONE”. Fans can also vote for players from all 12 Eastern League teams by visiting

Because of this unique voting system, each of the league’s 12 clubs will be guaranteed at least two All-Star players. The remaining All-Star players will be chosen through voting done by league managers, broadcasters and media.

There have been some rumblings that next season’s midsummer classic could be taking place in Trenton — it’s believed that Waterfront Park is next in the Eastern League rotation — so if this process continues next year, it could be much more significant for Thunder fans than it already is.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Tabata IS Playing Tonight

May 30, 2008

According to a source, Jose Tabata will be in tonight’s starting lineup.

A big surprise, to say the very least.

If everything we’ve been hearing about a physical altercation in the dugout is true, there is absolutely, positively no reason this guy should be on the field…past history of incidents or not.

The same is to be said of anyone else involved in the incident.  Whoever it was Tabata allegedly got involved with shouldn’t be playing either. 

I assume there’s still time for the decision for him to play tonight to change…but as of now, word is that he’s playing.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

As The Tabata Turns

May 30, 2008

Have been able to confirm that Jose Tabata is with the team in New Britain. 

I can’t imagine he’d be in the starting lineup, but we won’t know that until later tonight.

I did see John Nalbone’s update — that Tony Franklin told reporters yesterday that Tabata being pulled wasn’t directly because of that play — but that could also be a way of Franklin saying that it was a culmination of many plays like it, or that something happened between Tabata and a player or coach as a result of the play that led to his being asked to leave the game.

There is also speculation that a different play may have led to an incident.  According to one account, Reegie Corona chased a fly ball into medium right field in the middle of the game.  It was, again according to this particular account, a ball that Tabata clearly should have waived Reegie off of.  After the out, Tabata appeared to stare at Corona.  When the inning was over something happened in the dugout.  It looked like Tabata and another player, possibly Corona, were getting into it and there was some shoving at the home plate side of the dugout.  Tabata was restrained and pulled into the tunnel.  Some players went into the tunnel, Wright, Russo and possibly other players.  One to two minutes later Tabata came walking out, grabbed his three bats from the rack, came to the outfield side of the dugout, retrieved his hat and glove and walked out of the dugout.

Now again, I was not at the game and can’t confirm that account, but if that is the case, this would seem to be more serious than the first incident.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Tabata Removed For Defensive Lapse

May 29, 2008

Have heard from two separate sources now that Jose Tabata’s benching was directly related to a play in which Austin Jackson dove for a fly ball, and Tabata failed to back him up as the ball rolled past Jackson and the runner got all the way to third.

Just reporting stuff as I hear it…again, I wasn’t at tonight’s game.  I believe it’s team policy for the most newsworthy things to happen at games I’m not at.  I’m now batting .500 on being at “Jose Tabata discipline games.”

I know a lot of people who attend the games post here as well…if anyone can describe the play in question, I’d certainly appreciate it.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Nalbone: Franklin Talks Tabata

May 29, 2008

Colleague John Nalbone of The Times of Trenton has quotes from manager Tony Franklin here.

“We had an in-house issue we needed to deal with. Don’t ask me what it is because I’m not telling you,” Franklin told Nalbone.

“We’re very pleased with the way he is playing. He is playing hard. But there are certain standards that need to met within this organization and with this team, and when those standards are not met we take action. It’s our job to make sure these players know what they are supposed to do at all times out there.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Source: Tabata Not Hurt, Removed As Punishment

May 29, 2008

According to a source, who I greatly appreciate calling me back at this late hour, Jose Tabata was not injured during tonight’s game and was removed for “punishment reasons.”

I don’t know if it was related to a specific play in the game or what, but according to the source, “significant disciplinary actions” may follow.

Am told it is uncertain if he will be traveling with the team for their six-game road trip.

Tabata was already suspended three games by the Yankees for an earlier, apparently similar incident earlier this season.

While he showed somewhat of a spark upon his return, he appeared to fall back into his old ways of late, and recently showed a lack of hustle on several plays during the first three games of the New Hampshire series.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT 

Tabata Removed From Tonight’s Game

May 29, 2008

Am working on finding out more about this at the moment, since I wasn’t at tonight’s game, but Jose Tabata was removed from the game tonight.

All I’ve heard so far is that there was no apparent injury, but I don’t know any more at this time.  I hope to have more on this either later tonight or tomorrow.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT