Archive for December, 2008

Yankees Cut Three; Other Moves Too

December 30, 2008

According to Baseball America, the Yankees have released 2B Prilys Cuello, SS Ramon Pena and OF Alvaro Ramirex.

Other notable transactions include the Milwaukee Brewers signing former Thunder outfielder Trot Nixon, the Phillies re-signing ex-Thunder closer Justin Pope and Toronto signing my 2006 Thunder MVP, Randy Ruiz.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Padres Use Six Finger Discount To Sign Perez

December 26, 2008


Birthday boy and Scranton Yankees beat writer Chad Jennings reports that the San Diego Padres have signed former Thunder relief pitcher Oneli Perez to a contract.

Looks like it is about time you got out your checkbook and did some online sports betting.

And with that, the other 29 teams in Major League Baseball continue to systematically dismantle last year’s Trenton Thunder squad.

As for Perez, he was briefly on the Yankees 40-man roster after being acquired off of waivers from the Indians, but was designated for assignment, cleared waivers, and finished the season with the Thunder and Scranton.

He got off to a horrendous start with the Thunder, posting a 12.60 ERA in his first four games, but he eventually straightened himself out and was especially impressive during a late season spot start in which he struck out nine batters in just four innings.

Perez, who thankfully has enough fingers for the rings he earned with both Trenton and Scranton, only appeared in the postseason for the latter squad, going 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in three appearances.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Phil Hughes Doesn’t Suck At Life

December 24, 2008

I was trying to find a way to capture the holiday spirit, and figured there were few better than this one, courtesy of Zell’s Pinstripe Blog.

I’ve heard many great stories about Hughes, and he was always good to me during the time I covered him in 2006 and during his 2007 rehab appearances.

Happy Holidays to all of the readers of Thunder Thoughts, and thank you for your continued support.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Tony! Tony! Tony! Franklin’s Back For ’09 (UPDATED)

December 22, 2008

(PR) The Trenton Thunder, the Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees, have announced that Tony Franklin will be back for his third season as Manager. He will have a trio of new coaches join his staff including former Major Leaguers Tommy Phelps (Pitching Coach) and Frank Menechino (Hitting Coach) and former Eastern Leaguer Vic Valencia (Coach). Returning to the Thunder dugout will be Trainer Tim Lentych for his second season with Trenton.

Franklin has guided the Thunder to back-to-back Eastern League Championships, which are the first two titles in franchise history. The Thunder finished the regular season with the best record in the Eastern League (86-54) for the second straight season. Trenton defeated the Portland Sea Dogs (Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox) in the Northern Division Championship Series (3-0), and the Akron Aeros (Double-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians) in the Eastern League Championship Series (3-1).

The 2008 Eastern League Championship was Franklin’s third title as manager. In 1993, he led South Bend (Single-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox) to the Midwest League Championship. Prior to his time in Trenton, Franklin spent most of the last 11 years as the Minor League Infield Instructor for the San Diego Padres. His 13-year managerial career began with the White Sox organization as the manager for Geneva (NY) of the New York-Penn League in 1982.

Franklin spent four seasons in Geneva, making the playoffs in 1985. After one season with Wytheville (Appalachian League), he guided the White Sox affiliate in the Florida State League, the Sarasota White Sox, to a playoff appearance in 1989. Franklin spent two years as the skipper of the Birmingham Barons of the Southern League, including 81 wins in 1991 and a berth in the Championship Series.

While in Birmingham, Franklin was the manager of former Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson. Before Trenton, his last managerial stint came with Las Vegas in 2000. Franklin filled in for Duane Espy and guided the Stars to a 43-50 mark.

Franklin was honored by San Diego in 1997 with the Jack Krol Award for Outstanding Minor League Instruction in the Padres’ organization. He and his wife, Haiba, have three children Derrick, Wayne and Shelby.

Franklin becomes just the second Thunder manager to have a three year tenure with the club. DeMarlo Hale managed Trenton for the 1997-1999 seasons.

Tommy Phelps will embark on his first season as a pitching coach. In 2008, he was the Yankees Minor League Rehabilitation Pitching Coach. Phelps is a former Major League pitcher, and also has spent time in the Yankees Minor League System. He pitched for the Florida Marlins in 2003 and 2004. During 2003, he went 3-2 with a 4.00 ERA in 27 games (seven starts) for Florida and was part of a Marlins team that won the World Series over the Yankees. He pitched in 29 games for Milwaukee in 2005. He went 7-4 with a 4.45 ERA in 2006 with Columbus (Triple-A affiliate of the New York Yankees). Phelps was originally an 8th round pick by Montreal in the 1992 draft.

Frank Menechino will be Trenton’s new hitting coach. This will be his first coaching position. Menechino played for the Oakland Athletics (1999-2003), and the Toronto Blue Jays (2004-2005). Menechino had his best season with the Athletics in 2001. He hit .242 in a career-high 139 games with 12 home runs and 60 RBI. Menechino spent some time in the Yankees Minor League System with Columbus (Triple-A) in 2006. During 2008, he played professionally in Italy.

Vic Valencia will join the staff as a coach. He played in the Yankees Minor League System from 1995-2000. During 1999 and 2000, he spent time with Norwich (Double-A). In 1999, he hit 22 home runs and contributed with 72 RBI for the Navigators. He also played in the Eastern League with Akron (2003-04) and New Hampshire (2004).

Tim Lentych returns to Trenton for his second season, after the prior three seasons as the trainer for the Charleston RiverDogs (Low-A affiliate of the New York Yankees). In 2004, he began his stint with the Yankees organization as the trainer for the Staten Island Yankees (New York-Penn League). Lentych received his B.S. from Ball State University in 2002, and his M.S. from the University of Tennessee in 2004. He has completed internships in athletic training with the Baltimore Orioles in 2001, and the Tennessee Smokies (former Double-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals) in 2003.

UPDATE — Scranton has named their field staff as well, here’s their release…which includes Scott Aldred and Lee Tressel moving on from Trenton.

(PR) The New York Yankees have announced the 2009 Triple-A field staff and it contains some familiar names as well as some new faces. Dave Miley, who led the Yankees to the 2008 Governors’ Cup returns as manager along with hitting coach Butch Wynegar and trainer Darren London. Scott Aldred is the Yankees new pitching coach replacing Rafael Chaves, who has taken a position with the Los Angeles Dodgers as the organizations minor league pitching coordinator. Aaron Ledesma is Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s new infield coach taking over for Alvaro Espinosa whose contract was not renewed by New York. Lee Tressel will join the staff in 2009 as strength and conditioning coach.

“We’re excited to have Dave Miley coming back as manager of the Yankees in 2009,” said SWB Yankees Executive Vice President and General Manager Jeremy Ruby. “Anytime you can bring back a manager who led your team to a championship as well as the best record in the league, you can’t help but be excited. Dave has been great to work with over the past two seasons and we look forward to another successful season with him guiding the team.”

Miley, enters his fourth season guiding the Yankees’ Triple-A club, the first with the Columbus Clippers (2006) and the previous two with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Prior to joining the Yankees, Miley spent 26 seasons in the Cincinnati Reds’ organization, including three seasons (2003-2005) as the big league manager in Cincinnati.

Under Miley’s guidance, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre has posted the best record (172-115) in the International League over the past two seasons, including winning the 2008 Governors’ Cup as league champions. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre tied Louisville for the IL’s best record in 2008 at 88-56, becoming just the fifth franchise in the International League’s 125 year history to post the league’s top mark in at least three consecutive seasons. In his inaugural season with SWB, Miley led the club to a league best 84-59 record and a berth in the International League Governors’ Cup Playoffs and was named the International League Manager of the Year.

“I’m excited about coming back to the Yankees in 2009 to help defend the Governors’ Cup,” said Miley. “Being able to bring a championship to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season was tremendous. The great regular season and the run we had through the playoffs and all of the great fan support made it a fantastic year. I’m looking forward to another great season in 2009. The coaching staff that Mark Newman (NY Yankees Director of Player Development) and the Yankees have put together is tremendous and will help make my job easier.”

2009 will be Miley’s ninth season in the International League, where he has posted a record of 685-569 (.546). In three seasons as skipper of the Yankees top farm club Miley’s record is 241-188 (.562). Miley also spent six seasons in the IL from 1998 through 2003 with Indianapolis and Louisville. In four seasons at Louisville, he went 296-245 (.547) and established franchise records for wins and games managed (541). In 2001 he guided Louisville to its first Governors’ Cup Championship over the former Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons.

In his minor league managerial career which spans 17 seasons, Miley has an overall record of 1,356-973 (.566) with an impressive 15 winning seasons. As a player, he was signed by the Reds in 1980 and spent seven seasons as a minor league catcher batting .238 with 16 HR and 172 RBI.


Wynegar will be in his third season with the Yankees. Prior to joining Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, he spent four seasons as the Milwaukee Brewers hitting coach and played 13 seasons with the Twins, Yankees and Angels.

Under his guidance, the 2008 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees placed in the top six in the IL in several team offensive categories including runs, hits, homers, RBI’s and BB. In 2007 with Wynegar at the helm, the Yankees led the International League in runs scored.

While with Milwaukee his pupils put up some impressive numbers. In 2003 the Brewers’ offense was 3rd in the National League with 194 home runs and in 2005 they tied a NL record with 571 extra-base hits. Prior to joining the Brewers, he was a manager in the Texas Rangers system from 1995-1997 and the Minor League Roving Hitting Instructor from 1998-2002.

As a player, the two-time American League All-Star played in 1,301 major league games compiling a .255 average with 65 HR and 506 RBI. In 1976 he was named The Sporting News American League Rookie of the Year and became the youngest player at the time to appear in an All-Star Game (20 years, 212 days). While with the Yankees he caught Dave Righetti’s no-hitter on July 4, 1983 and Phil Niekro’s 300th victory October 1, 1985.


Aldred begins his fourth year as a professional coach in the Yankees minor league system and his first as pitching coach with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In 2008, Aldred’s Trenton Thunder pitching staff led the Eastern League in ERA (3.13) for the second consecutive year on route to the league title. In his debut season as a coach in 2006, he guided the Single-A Charleston pitching staff to the second-best ERA in the South Atlantic League (3.20).

Originally drafted and signed by the Detroit Tigers in 1987, he made his Major League debut with the Tigers in 1990. Aldred appeared in 229 games over an 11-year Major League career, posting a 20-39 record with a 6.02 ERA with six different teams (Detroit, 1990-92, ’96; Colorado, 1993; Montreal, 1993; Minnesota, 1996-97; Tampa Bay, 1998-99; Philadelphia, 1999-2000).


Ledesma will be in his first season with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and his second in professional coaching after serving as hitting coach for the single-A Tampa Yankees in 2008. Originally a second round selection by the New York Mets in the 1990 Amateur Draft, he made his Major League debut with the Mets in 1995. Ledesma hit .296 with 38 doubles, 4 triples 2 HR and 76 RBI appearing in 284 big league games over five seasons with the Mets, Baltimore, Tampa Bay and Colorado.

His lone full season in the Majors came in 1998 with the Devil Rays after he was selected in the third round of the 1997 Major League Expansion Draft from Baltimore. Ledesma led Tampa Bay with a .324 average (97-299) appearing in 95 games and playing all four infield positions.

During his minor league career, he appeared in the International League with Norfolk (1994-1995); Rochester (1997) And Durham (1999). He earned Junior College All-American honors at Chabot College in 1990.


London will be entering his 17th season as the Yankees’ Triple-A Athletic Trainer and 20th in the Yankees’ organization. He began his career in 1989 working at Class-A Prince William his first two seasons. He was promoted to Class-A Ft. Lauderdale in 1991 and Class-AA Albany in 1992.

He joined the Columbus Clippers in 1993 and during his stint in Columbus was named the 2006 “International League Athletic Trainer of the Year,” by the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society (PBATS). He is a graduate of the University of Maine-Orono where he earned a BS in physical education with a coaching minor.


Tressel joins Scranton/Wilkes-Barre as strength and conditioning coach after spending the 2008 season in a similar position with the Yankees double-A affiliate in Trenton.

Prior to working in Trenton, Tressel served as the strength and conditioning coordinator at the Yankees minor league complex in Tampa, Florida. He also served for three seasons (2004-06) as an assistant in the Yankees’ baseball operations department under General Manager Brian Cashman. Tressel graduated from Baldwin Wallace College in Berea, Ohio in 2003 with a degree in sports management and business.

Give The Gift Of Ashmore For The Holidays

December 19, 2008

I did an interview with the guys over at “6 Pound 8 Ounce Baby Joba,” which you can read here.

I mean, you should check out the site at least for the interesting name, if nothing else.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Gonzalez Re-Signs With Yankees, Other Moves

December 18, 2008


The New York Yankees have re-signed outfielder Edwar Gonzalez, who played a key role in the Trenton Thunder’s championship season.

Gonzo hit .295 with 14 home runs and 67 RBI for the Thunder after being called up from Tampa in early May.  Overall, he hit 20 home runs between Tampa and Trenton, and you could make a case that he’s jumped over Colin Curtis on the organizational depth chart.

If nothing else, he’s one of just a handful of guys with legitimate power in the system who are close to being big league ready.  The concern would be that last year was a career year and that he may have peaked, but it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility to see him start the year in Scranton as a third or fourth outfielder.

In other news, the team has signed 1B Jorge Vazquez.  If I’ve got the right guy, he can rake.  He’s got video game numbers in the Mexican League.  I wonder if he could start the year in Trenton…I’d imagine Juan Miranda would start in Scranton.

The Yankees have also released RHP Stephen Artz, RHP Jason Kiley, RHP Gabriel Medina, RHP Mike Obradovich, RHP Rob Semerano, RHP Drew Shetrone, LHP Tim Dennehy, LHP Shawn Joy, 1B Roy Gomez, 2B Chris Kunda, 3B Brian Chavez, OF Taylor Holiday, OF Erik Lovett, OF Matt Morris (thanks, Baseball America!)

Because it’s early in the morning and I have nothing better to do Because I love giving you all the information I can, here are some brief looks at each of those players:

Artz – Righty reliever split 2008 between Charleston and Tampa, posting a 4-2 record with a 3.63 ERA in 29 total appearances.  Good BB/K numbers (7/34) but the opposition was hitting him to the tune of a .318 average.  He’s a former top indy ball prospect, as the Yankees plucked him out of the United League.

Kiley – Was picked in the 25th round in 2007.  Went 2-1 with one save and a 4.24 ERA in 20 relief appearances with Staten Island this year.  At 6′ 5″, 235 pounds, it’s my professional opinion that he’s a pretty big dude.  Similar to Artz, his BB/K numbers (3/21) were good, but the average against (.294) was not.

Medina – Was the D2 Pitcher of the Year in 2006 out of Emporia State, and was picked by the Bronx Bombers in the 15th round that year.  Spent three years in the Yankees system, but never made significant progress. 

Obradovich – Signed as a UFA in June, Obradovich started out in the Gulf Coast League and eventually made it to Staten Island, even making a cameo appearance in Tampa inbetween.  A righty reliever, he went 3-1 with six saves and a 3.49 ERA in 22 total appearances.  He walked just three batters and struck out 36, and held batters to a .198 average.  I, uhhh…guess that wasn’t good enough?

Semerano – Is a 27-year-old righty who hasn’t advanced past A-Ball in his career.  He went 4-1 with a 5.09 ERA in 22 relief appearances with Tampa last year after spending the prior four seasons in the Oakland system.

Shetrone – Was signed out of the independent Northern League in June and was assigned to Staten Island.  He went 2-2 with a 2.41 ERA in 22 appearances, walking 10 and striking out 46 in 41 innings of work.

Dennehy – Was the Yankees 26th round pick in 2007.  Spent last year with Staten Island, where he went 2-1 with a 3.68 ERA in 16 relief appearances.  A 22-year-old lefty, he struck out 16 batters in 22 innings of work.

Joy – Signed as a UFA out of Southern Illinois, the undersized southpaw was 1-1 with four saves and a 3.66 ERA in 15 games for the GCL Yankees.  He walked seven and struck out nine, and batters were hitting .303 off of him.

Gomez – Was signed by the Yankees in 2003, and spent four years playing in the Dominican Summer League before coming stateside just this year.  Played for the GCL Yankees, Staten Island and Tampa, driving in nine runs in 68 at-bats.

Kunda – Had been in the Yankees organization since 2006, and made a brief appearance in Scranton this season, going 1-for-3 with two RBI in two games.  Did not perform well in Tampa this year, hitting  just .145 in 45 games with a .369 OPS


Chavez – Picked in the 32nd round by the Yankees in 2007.  Played in just 10 games between Staten Island and Tampa last year, and had a .167 career average with two walks and 28 strikeouts.

Holiday – The Yankees 19th round selection just one year ago, Holiday spent all of 2008 in Single-A Charleston, where he hit an underwhelming .215 with two home runs and 29 RBI.

Lovett – Was picked in the 42nd round this year and was sent to Staten Island.  He played in 23 games, hitting.273 with three home runs and 11 RBI.

Morris – The Yankees 23rd round pick in 2007, Morris split the season between Staten Island and Charleston.  He finishes his two-year stint in the Yankees farm system with a .207 career average, two home runs and 15 RBI.

Chad Jennings, who has fine taste in photo selection, weighs in with his thoughts over on his blog.  I’d say Chad’s blog is a must-read…but I think you guys know that by now.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Coke vs. Robertson: Who Will Have The Better Career?

December 16, 2008

After the somewhat surprisingly successful first installment of the WWHTBC series, it’s time to break out round two.

This week, we’ve got Phil Coke going up against David Robertson.  Both started the season with the Trenton Thunder, and both got to the big leagues in 2008 with the Yankees.  Not only that, both made an impact.

But who will go on to have the better career?

Please vote in this poll, and share your thoughts as to why you voted the way you did in the comments section.  There is no wrong answer here…


The Coke File

Age: 26
Height: 6′ 1″
Weight: 210 lbs.

2008 Stats:

AA: 9-4, 2.51 ERA, 23 G/20 GS, 39 BB/115 K
AAA: 2-2, 4.67 ERA, 14 G/1 GS, 5 BB/22 K
MLB: 1-0, 0.61 ERA 12 G/0 GS, 2 BB/14 K

Pros: One of the few left-handed options who is big league ready, mentality, versatility
Cons: Experience at the higher levels


The Robertson File

Age: 23
Height: 5′ 11″
Weight: 180 lbs.

2008 Stats:

AA: 0-0, 2 SV, 0.96 ERA, 9 GP, 6 BB/26 K
AAA: 4-0, 1 SV, 2.06 ERA, 21 GP, 17 BB/51 K
MLB: 4-0, 0 SV, 5.34 ERA, 25 GP, 15 BB/36 K

Pros: Curveball, college pedigree, rarely gives up the longball
Cons: Overall experience, consistency at the big league level

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Talkin’ Sabathia With Randolph and Reggie

December 12, 2008

My good friend and colleague over on the Somerset Patriots beat, Ryan Dunleavy of the Home News Tribune and Courier News, was able to catch up with both Willie Randolph and Reggie Jackson at the Patriots holiday party last night.

You can read his story in the paper here, as well as check out these additional quotes on my blog:

Extra quotes from Willie:

“Macha and I are going to work very closely together. I know Macha from our playing days back with the Pittsburgh Pirates and we’ve stayed casually in touch over the years. He wanted me to be one of his guys, so I accepted.”

“The opportunity presented itself, and I think that being in the game, on the field, is better than being at home where I could’ve sat back and collected my money. That’s not what I’m all about.”

“I’m going to be like a second lieutenant. Macha and I are going to work together to get this team in the right direction. I don’t have to be the boss. I’m looking forward to helping him be best.”

Regarding Sabathia:

“I wasn’t holding out too much hope there. Anytime a club offers $40 millions more than what we offer – and that was like unprecented for the Brewers….”

“I think he’ll handle it well. I think he showed on the big stage last year what he can do. What he did down the stretch was something that I thought was what you want in a player.”

“I’d be very surprised if he doesn’t step up and do a good job for them.”

Quotes from Reggie:

““I love Willie like a brother.”

“I went with Brian (Cashman). Brian did a wonderful job. I was just talking to C.C. about what the city offers, and really what the team offers, the Steinbrenners.”

“They take the money that they earn and put it back into the team. They don’t make money with the team. They make money with the brand and, of course, the value of the team, but they put the money back into the team. I admire that. Certainly the money that the team paid him, that the Steinbrenners paid him, made a significant difference in helping change his mind to become a Yankee.”

“We need pitching. He’s going to make a significant change to that. I think it changes the attitude from the people on our staff, inside our ball club and organization. It’s a significant help there. I think our fan base and the people that support the team understand that they’re trying to do the right thing, so I certainly think that it’s worth its value.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Nova Picked Too, Welcome New Readers

December 11, 2008

The San Diego Padres have selected Ivan Nova in the second round of the Rule 5 Draft.

Nova went 8-13 with a 4.36 ERA last season in Single-A Tampa.

For people who’ve stumbled across this blog looking for information on your team’s new player — Reegie Corona for you Mariners fans, Jason Jones for Twins followers and Zach Kroenke for Marlins fanatics — please see the right hand side of the page for videos of those players in action.

Also please use the search feature for quotes and information on those players from throughout the 2008 season.

I would be happy to answer any questions you may have about any of these players, so please feel free to send them along.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

Jones To The Twins

December 11, 2008

The Minnesota Twins have selected Jason Jones in the Rule 5 Draft.

I can’t help but hope he sticks there.  He deserved better than what he got in the Yankees organization, and hopefully he has a good spring training and makes the big league club.  You won’t find a nicer guy, and it would be hard to argue that you could find a more consistent pitcher as well.

The Yankees have now lost three players in the Rule 5 draft: Jones, Reegie Corona and Zach Kroenke.  All three played the majority of their seasons in Trenton in 2008.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT