Archive for November, 2008

All The Right Moves

November 26, 2008


So let’s get the Yankees transactions out of the way first, shall we?

According to Baseball America, the Yankees have reinstated RHP Luke Trubee, C Larry Day, 1B Ben Jones, SS Ryan Wilkes from the inactive list and released all four.

They also reinstated LHP Kai Liu and OF Michael Jones.

Additionally, the team released C Jeff Nutt. 

What does this mean for the Trenton Thunder?  Absolutely, positively nothing.

Trubee put together two promising seasons in Staten Island and Charleston as a reliever out of Dayton, but did not pitch in 2008.

Day played in seven games for Charleston this season, hitting .067 with two RBI.  He played his college ball at UConn.

Ben Jones was a 14th round pick of the Yankees in 2004, but has not played since 2006.  He had a monster year in Charleston in ’06, hittig .298 with 21 home runs and 88 RBI for the Riverdogs.

Wilkes was selected in the 23rd round this season.  He hit .227 with an RBI in eight games for Staten Island.

Liu was one of the Chinese pitchers signed in that publicity stunt in 2007, kind of what the Pirates are doing with those two Indian pitchers.

Michael Jones played in the GCL for the Yankees, hitting just .184 with two RBI in 15 games.

Nutt played in ten games between Staten Island and Charleston this year and was 4-for-15 with an RBI.

OK, so that’s the Yankees related stuff.  Interested in Thunder alums and other Eastern League notables?  Sure you are…

Baltimore re-signed 3B Jeff Nettles, who was an Eastern League All-Star this year and former Yankees farmhand.  They also added OF Nolan Reimold and P Brad Bergesen to their 40-man roster.

Cincinnati signed C Ben Davis, who was a teammate of Nettles on Bowie for a while.  They also removed 1B Andy Phillips from their 40-man roster and he was granted free agency.  Phillips played for the Thunder for a brief stint.  Additionally, they added former Reading P Matt Maloney to their 40-man roster.

Former Thunder pitcher Marty McLeary signed a deal with Toronto.

The White Sox added P Jhonny Nunez to their 40-man roster.

Cleveland added ex-Aeros OF Trevor Crowe to their 40-man roster.

Detroit added Seawolves OF Wilkin Ramirez to their 40-man roster.

The Twins seemed to add half of their Double-A roster to the 40-man roster, with RHP Anthony Swarzak, C Drew Butera, 2B Steve Tolleson, 3B Luke Hughes and 3B Trevor Plouffe getting the call.

The Phillies traded OF Greg Golson to Texas and added P Carlos Carrasco to their 40-man roster.

Toronto added P Ricky Romero to their 40-man roster.  He sure wasn’t any good in Double-A, but he did put up decent numbers in a brief stay with Syracuse.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Attention Chad Jennings Fans: Update Those Bookmarks

November 24, 2008

The best reporter on the beat in the Yankees minor league system has got a new URL for his very popular blog, which you can check out by clicking here.

The old blog is still up, but it looks like this is going to be the place to go from now on…

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Who’s Available?

November 21, 2008

Just some real quick thoughts…Thunder Thoughts, if you will…regarding who was added to the 40-man roster and who wasn’t protected.

Anthony Claggett, Steven Jackson, Christian Garcia and Mike Dunn were all added to the roster.

– I like Claggett’s stuff the best out of the four, think he probably has the best upside of the group.  Would be curious to see if he remains a reliever down the road.

– I think Jackson’s stuff is pretty average.  It seems like he’s OK when he’s on, and really bad when he isn’t.  I question why he was kept over several others guys I’ll bring up in a bit.  Apparently, he really came into his own in Scranton…didn’t see it here, though.

– I haven’t bought into the hype on Garcia just yet.  I’ve stressed on here before that I can only base my assessments on guys off of what I’ve seen in person.  He pitched at Waterfront Park once and he wasn’t that sharp.  Everything I read leads me to believe he’s better than that, but I’ll believe it when I see it…that’s not a knock on him, just the way I approach things.

– Liked Dunn a lot in the short amount of time I got to see him, but I need to see more of him.  For an organization that has as much left-handed pitching as I have a chance of getting a date with Jenna Fischer anytime this millennium, he could become a very valuable prospect, very quickly.

Among the Thunder players left unprotected: P.J. Pilittere, Zach Kroenke, Kevin Whelan, Chris Malec, Marcos Vechionacci, Reegie Corona, Ramiro Pena, Jason Jones, J.B. Cox.

I think that’s all of them, I might have missed one or two…

The name that stands out to me here is Chris Malec.  I’d be rather surprised if a team doesn’t take a chance on him.  I’ve said before that I think that if he can improve his defense, his bat will advance him through many a farm system.

Pilittere and Jones also stand out for me…I think moving to another organization could be a blessing for them, especially Jones.  I still think Pilittere has a chance to advance with the Yankees, and I feel like he’s going to be a big league backstop one day.  Maybe not with the Yankees, and maybe not as a full-time guy, but he deserves a shot to wear a big league uniform.  As for JJ, I think the Yankees have shown time and time again that no matter what he does, they’re not going to give him a shot.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Four ’08 Thunder Pitchers Added To 40-Man Roster

November 21, 2008

Chad Jennings, as he tends to do, does a much better job of breaking this down than I ever could, so I’ll just post the press release and direct you over his way

(PR) The New York Yankees announced today they have added right-handed pitchers Anthony Claggett, Christian Garcia and Steven Jackson and left-handed pitcher Michael Dunn to the 40-man roster. In order to clear room on the 40-man roster, the Yankees designated right-handed pitcher Darrell Rasner for assignment.

Claggett, 24, spent the majority of the 2008 season with Double-A Trenton, going 4-2 with nine saves and a 2.15 ERA in 29 relief appearances for the Eastern League champions. He began the year on the disabled list with a left hamstring strain, then made one appearance at Single-A Tampa (3.0IP, 1ER) before being transferred to Trenton. All but five of his outings in 2008 were more than 1.0 inning. Acquired from Detroit along with right-handed pitchers Humberto Sanchez and Kevin Whelan in exchange for outfielder Gary Sheffield on November 10, 2006, he was originally selected by the Tigers in the 11th round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft.

Dunn, 23, went 5-7 with one save and a 4.49 ERA in 31 combined games (22 starts) with Single-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton in 2008. The left-hander pitched for most of the season with Tampa, going 4-7 with one save and a 4.55 ERA before joining Trenton for the Thunder’s final regular season game and then throwing four scoreless and hitless postseason appearances (4.1IP, 4BB, 7K) for the Eastern League champions. Selected by the Yankees in the 33rd round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, Dunn began his professional career as a position player before making the transition to the mound in 2006.

Garcia, 23, combined to go 4-4 with a 4.33 ERA in 14 appearances (13 starts) with Single-A Tampa, the GCL Yankees and Double-A Trenton in 2008, after missing all of 2007 to recover from right elbow surgery. Despite missing more than three months of the season battling right shoulder and elbow inflammation, Garcia struck out 74 batters in 62.1IP, while walking just 25. Originally selected by the Yankees in the third round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, Garcia owns a career record of 14-18 with a 3.86 ERA in 60 appearances (49 starts).

Jackson, 26, went 4-3 with six saves and a 4.18 ERA in 49 combined games (one start) with Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2008, striking out 91 batters in 79.2 innings pitched. He also made three postseason relief appearances for the International League-champion Scranton/WB Yankees, going 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA and recording the win in Game 1 of the IL Governor’s Cup Playoffs at Pawtucket. Jackson was acquired by the Yankees from Arizona along with INF Alberto Gonzalez, RHP Ross Ohlendorf and RHP Luis Vizcaino in exchange for LHP Randy Johnson on January 1, 2007. Selected by the Diamondbacks in the 10th round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, he owns a career record of 27-29 with a 4.31 ERA in 145 appearances (66 starts).

The Yankees’ roster now stands at 40.

Thunder Unveil Promotional Schedule

November 21, 2008

The Trenton Thunder have unveiled their 2009 promotional schedule.

It features the usual list of neat gotta-have-it items, fireworks nights, and stuff you might find at a yard sale several years from now — “I’ll give you five dollars for that Chase paperweight.”

In any event, you can check out the complete list here.  Seems like all the bobbleheads are of the “to be determined” variety for the time being.  For those of you holding your breath for a second Jose Tabata bobblehead night, might I recommend an oxygen tank. 

But I know that many people base which games they go to off of what the particular promotion is that night, so I would certainly suggest checking this out and planning ahead.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

The House That CC Sabathia Built

November 15, 2008

If you want the latest on the Yankees negotiations with CC Sabathia, as well as some great photos of the new Yankee Stadium, might I recommend Pete Abraham’s blog.  He’s got a bunch of great stuff over there, as can be expected considering he great work he’s done as Yankees beat writer.

As for some insight from myself on Sabathia, I interviewed the very friendly big man in June of 2007 at RFK Stadium for a piece I was working on regarding notable EL alums, a piece that ran in the Democrat in January of 2008.

Here’s the Sabathia section of that piece…

Before CC Sabathia was a Cy Young Award winning pitcher for the Cleveland Indians, he was one of the top prospects in the Eastern League during the 2000 season, pitching for the Akron Aeros.

Sabathia went 3-7 with a 3.59 ERA in 17 games for the Aeros before making the jump to the big leagues the following season.

“Akron was nice, we had a pretty good team,” Sabathia said.

“I don’t really remember pitching that well for them, but I had some good games and some good memories. It was definitely a tough league, a lot of guys that were in that league then are in the big leagues now.”

Sabathia also pointed to some similarities between his old stomping grounds and his current one that helped him along the way.

“Akron helped me because it’s kind of like Cleveland,” he said.

“It’s a big city with a lot of fans, and there’s a lot of attention. That definitely gets you ready for the big leagues.”

An added benefit for Sabathia was that he got to play for current Indians manager Eric Wedge, who at the time was making his way up through the system and serving as Akron skipper.

“I grew up with Wedgie, I’ve been playing for him my whole life,” said Sabathia, who also played for Wedge in Single-A Kinston the previous season.

“If you look at the relationship we have now, it’s a great relationship. He got a chance to see me as a kid, and to develop into a grown man now. It just makes our relationship a lot better.”

And about the jump from Double-A to the big leagues, which few players are able to do and even fewer are able to do as successfully as the three-time All-Star ultimately has, Sabathia said it wasn’t as difficult as you might think.

“The Eastern League was pretty tough, so it really wasn’t that different to be honest,” he said.

“I hate it to say it like that, but it wasn’t for me. I just kind of fell into a good team, and had some good veterans around me, and they helped me get off to a successful season.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Marquez, Nunez Dealt

November 14, 2008

The New York Yankees have announced they’ve dealt Jeff Marquez, Jhonny Nunez and Wilson Betemit in exchange for Nick Swisher and Kaneoka Texeira.

It made sense to acquire Swisher, as the Yankees had no internal options ready to play first base on a full-time basis in 2009.

However, I didn’t see the point in including either Nunez or Texeira.  I hate to see them give up Nunez, who I felt had the potential to become the Yankees closer one day, and I knew that the Yankees organization was very, very excited to have him on board.

What do you guys think of the trade?

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Baseball America Releases Top 10 Yankee Prospect List

November 11, 2008

Baseball America has released their list of the New York Yankees top 10 prospects, and it looks like this:

1. Austin Jackson, of
2. Jesus Montero, c
3. Andrew Brackman, rhp
4. Austin Romine, c
5. Dellin Betances, rhp
6. Zach McAllister, rhp
7. Alfredo Aceves, rhp
8. Phil Coke, lhp
9. Mark Melancon, rhp
10. Bradley Suttle, 3b

Four of the ten players spent all or parts of their 2008 season in a Thunder uniform.

My thoughts on the list?  My thoughts are people get too excited about these lists.  Base your opinions of a player off of what you think and what you see, and don’t put so much stock in what these lists have to say or even what I have to say.

People will spend hours arguing over how this guy should be over that guy and so on when — in the long run — it means absolutely nothing.

And how many times do you think the guys in charge of these lists have seen these guys play in person?  And perhaps more importantly, how many times did they see them play during this season?  For example, eighth ranked Phil Coke is the same guy who apparently didn’t even warrant a mention in the top 30 last year.  I know a lot of these places that do this sort of thing stay in touch with managers and farm directors, but I obviously can’t say enough about actually seeing someone play in person. 

I don’t pretend to know everything about the Yankee farm system — and that’s not to insinuate BA is pretending to know things…they’ve got about 20 million more sources than I ever will — and there’s no way you’ll see me doing one of these lists.  Until I see some of these guys play, reading about them in a book, seeing where they’re ranked on a list, or watching short videos of them does nothing for me.  I write about what I know…and I won’t even do the power rankings of the Thunder I did when I started the season out anymore, mainly because that’s probably more of a fan thing anyway, and not something I should have been doing in the first place. 

With that said, please feel free to share your thoughts on this particular list 🙂

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Six Members of ’08 Thunder Become Free Agents

November 9, 2008

According to this Baseball America blog post, six players who spent some time on the Trenton Thunder roster during the 2008 season have become free agents.

Pitchers Oneli Perez, Victor Zambrano and Jose Valdez, infielder Carlos Mendoza and outfielders Matt Carson and Edwar Gonzalez are all now available to the highest bidder.

I’m slightly surprised to see Perez and Valdez on the list, and moderately surprised that Gonzalez is on there.

Perez got off to a really rough start with the Thunder, but the six-fingered wonder showed some real flashes at time, especially in a spot start he made late in the year.

Valdez seemed to be one of “the guys” in the bullpen from the midway point of the year on, and while he has a small frame that doesn’t seem to leave much room for building himself up, he had good stuff and his numbers were solid.

I think a lot of people put Matt Carson and Gonzalez in the same group, but Gonzalez is two years younger and hit 20 home runs between Single-A Tampa and Trenton.  As is the case with many guys with a big bat, he certainly had a penchant for the strikeout, but I could have seen him in Scranton next year…in any case, this isn’t an organization that’s stacked with power by any means, so it was somewhat surprising to me.

As for Zambrano, Mendoza and Carson…Zambrano was more or less a waste of whatever money they gave him, as was Eric Milton, who they also let go.  They brought him in with the hopes that he could be a big league option late in the year.  He wasn’t.  So it’s a waste.

Mendy is a good guy, but had no future whatsoever in that organization.  He’s a good guy to have around both in the clubhouse and on the field in terms of versatility, but ideally you’d have someone younger in that role.

As for Carson, I think everyone pretty much was under the assumption that he was going to be moving on after the year.  I could see him being a big leaguer some day.  I remember people gave me a lot of crap for predicting he’d be a breakout player this year, but I feel like I was ultimately right…I think people underestimate how good of an arm he has and what kind of motor he has out there in the outfield, and again, this isn’t an organization that has too many legitimate power threats right now.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

2008 Domestic Violence Project Auction

November 7, 2008

I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Thunder home clubhouse manager Tom “Tonto” Kackley over the past few seasons.

He’s got a lot of experience in the game, and has got some great stories to tell.  I can’t begin to remember how many times it was myself, maybe another reporter or two, and Tonto and Tony Franklin in the manager’s office having some great conversations about baseball and a variety of other topics…my belief that Joe Namath isn’t a Hall of Famer, for example.

In any event, Tonto is holding his annual charity auction to benefit the Domestic Violence Project.  Unfortunately, it’s a cause that’s very near and dear to him, as his wife’s sister would have turned 40 years old last Sunday were it not for a disgusting act of domestic violence.

Over $5,000 was raised last season, and hopefully more money can be raised this season.  To view the items available, please follow THIS LINK.

Many great items are available for auction, including a bat that Reggie Jackson signed during one of his trips to Trenton, and game used items from many of your favorite Thunder players, including Austin Jackson.

Items will continue to be posted through Saturday, so please keep checking back to see if there’s something you’d like to add to your collection, or possibly pick up for a great holiday gift for a friend or relative.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT