Archive for July 7th, 2009

Game 83: Post-Game Notes (Roster Moves, Molina, Etc.)

July 7, 2009

— Following the game, relief pitcher Amauri Sanit was promoted to Triple-A Scranton.  Grant Duff was called up from Tampa to take his place on the roster.

In 21 appearances, Sanit was 1-2 with ten saves and a 2.95 ERA.  The Eastern League was hitting just .186 against him, which was a team best among active players.

Duff was 0-1 with one save and a 3.82 ERA in 24 appearances for Tampa.  In his fifth professional season, the 26-year-old righty was primarily used as a starter until the 2008 season.

— Jose Molina finished his rehab assignment with the Thunder having gone 0-for-7 with four strikeouts, two walks and a hit by pitch. 

“I feel good,” Molina said after the game.

“I ran, I did what they asked me to do.  That’s it.  Now I have to go up there and do my job.”

Not so fast, Jose.  It isn’t necessarily a foregone conclusion that Francisco Cervelli’s getting sent down, and that’s something he seems to be aware of.

“I’m finished here, so I’m going (to Minnesota) or I guess I’m out,” Molina said.

Thunder manager Tony Franklin thinks that the Yankees have got a tough choice on their hands.

“It’s going to be a difficult decision, I have no idea what they’re going to do,” Franklin said.

“You’ve got a veteran catcher who’s been in the big leagues and knows that pitching staff very, very well.  And you’ve got a young guy who’s up and coming and everybody’s raving about him right now.  I don’t know what I would do in this situation.  But I’ll tell you this, I don’t think you lose with whatever decision you make.”

— Molina did purchase a spread from Famous Dave’s BBQ for the players tonight.  Sadly, he did not do this for media.  And no, players never do that for us.  That’s a joke.  But purchasing a “big meal” for the players is tradition for a rehabbing big leaguer.

— Tony Franklin will not be managing the Thunder on Thursday afternoon.  With both a wedding to attend and the Futures Game on his plate, Jody Reed will be taking over the club.

— This marked the fifth straight day that Marcos Vechionacci wasn’t in the lineup.  Vechionacci and Franklin had a meeting several days ago to discuss the matter.

“When you’re not producing in this game, maybe you don’t play every day,” Vechionacci said.

“It’s hard.  Before, I was switch hitting.  This year, I’m hitting only righty.  I used to always use my lefty swing for righty pitchers, and right now it’s only (the right side.)  I just need to work harder in that situation.”

I asked Vechionacci why he no longer switch hits…

“The people on this team think my righty swing is better for lefties, so I’m only going to hit righty right now.”

Tony Franklin offered his opinion as to why Vechionacci isn’t in the lineup as well…

“He’s very frustrated, and he should be,” Franklin said.

“You have to realize that you’re not hitting very well right now, and I told him exactly that.  This is a performance based business, and they all need to know that out there.  We don’t just give you innings because you show up, you’ve got to earn those innings.  Maybe something as substantial as missing playing time will get him back on track.”

— Getting to the game, the Thunder again went through the motions in a listless 2-1 loss.

“We were not very good,” Franklin said.

“I try to be inspirational and bring a positive message to them every night.  I did again tonight.  But the fact of the matter is, we’ve got to be better than what we were.  We’re leaving guys in scoring position or at third base with less than two outs, and that’s unacceptable.”

— Kanekoa Texeira was about as good as you can be through four innings, retiring the first 12 batters he faced.  But he told us after the game that he got tired in the fifth, which is hardly surprising considering that he’s never really been used this way before.

“I threw 58 pitches, and it felt like I threw 100,” Texeira said.

“I’m surprised, my body’s holding up pretty good.  I’ve just got to keep praying that it doesn’t break down as the year goes by.”

— Don’t forget to check out Jared Smith’s Thundercast for all the…ummm, highlights of tonight’s game.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Jose Molina Updates

July 7, 2009

In all honesty, Molina is a non-story at this point. But, for the handful of people coming here looking for updates on Molina Mania, here you go…

Bottom 1st — Molina struck out on three pitches. He tracked the first two into the catchers glove quite nicely, and had somewhat of a check swing on the third.

Bottom 3rd — Four-pitch walk for Molina. So far with the Thunder, he’s 0-for-7 with four strikeouts and two walks.

Bottom 5th — Molina was hit by a pitch in the quad with the third pitch of the at-bat. He appeared to be fine, and walked to first base.

However, he absolutely half-heartedly ran to second on a ground ball to short…he didn’t even make it halfway to second base before turning and running back towards the dugout. And yes, he was the out at first. Not exactly setting a good example…

Top 6th — Molina is back out to catch the top of the 6th…so, I guess he’s fine and that was just a lack of effort. MOLINA MANIA CONTINUES AT WATERFRONT PARK. CATCH IT WHILE YOU CAN!!!

Bottom 7th — Molina did not take his last at-bat…Kyle Anson instead pinch-hit for him.  0-for-7 will be Molina’s final line here.  Four strikeouts, two walks and a hit by pitch.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Game 83: New Hampshire @ Trenton

July 7, 2009

Game 83 – New Hampshire Fisher Cats @ Trenton Thunder
July 7, 2009
Waterfront Park – Trenton, NJ

Pitching Matchup: NH Luis Perez vs. TRE Kanekoa Texeira

Starting Lineups:

FISHER CATS

Todd Donovan, LF
Adam Calderone, DH
Brad Emaus, 2B
David Cooper, 1B
Nick Gorneault, RF
Brian Jeroloman, C
Darian Mastroianni, CF
Bryan Kervin, 3B
Luis Sanchez, SS

THUNDER

Reegie Corona, 2B
Jose Molina, C
Eduardo Nunez, SS
Jorge Vazquez, 1B
Jesus Montero, DH
Noah Hall, LF
Chris Malec, 3B
Edwar Gonzalez, RF
Austin Krum, CF

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): Scoreless heading into the bottom of the 3rd…

1-1 in the top of the 5th. Texeira was perfect through four, but that whole not really being a starter thing has appeared to catch up with him this frame. I’m working on a few other stories during the game — not to mention the little speed pitch challenge — so the updates are going to be a little light tonight.

A bases loaded walk, and that’s it for Texeira. 60 pitches, 39 strikes for Tex, according to stats guy Dave. Kevin Whelan now in. 2-1, Fisher Cats, T5.

Josh Schmidt in to pitch the 8th…probably will have to go down for a chat with Jose Molina soon.

In-Game Photos:

molina

Jose Molina

montero

Jesus Montero

sanit

Amauri Sanit

texeira

Kanekoa Texeira

texeira2

Tex

In-Game YouTube Videos: Check out my YouTube account for videos updated throughout the game…

Final Score: 2-1, Fisher Cats.

Thunder Thoughts: My 64 MPH fastball in speed pitch has made me the unofficial press box champ. If anyone wants to challenge me, I’m game…

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Game 83: Pre-Game Notes

July 7, 2009

5:55 PM — Will have some stuff after the game regarding some All-Star news, as well as an update on why Marcos Vechionacci hasn’t been in the lineup. Spoke to both Nacci and Tony Franklin about that.

I’m also hoping to have something ready to go about the possibility of Scranton playing some games here. I spoke to head groundskeeper Ryan Hills and am awaiting comment from GM Will Smith.

3:45 PM — Noah Hall has been activated from the disabled list and will be hitting sixth and playing in left field tonight. There was no need for a corresponding move, as the team was at 23 players with Jay Stephens having been placed on the DL several days ago.

Jose Molina will be behind the plate for what’s likely to be his last game here.

Marcos Vechionacci has now been out of the lineup for five straight days…I’ll have to see what’s going on there.

Speaking of games, this is my 599th professional game I’ve covered, and 149th at Waterfront Park. I’ll have some sappy thank you’s tomorrow…

Lineups…

FISHER CATS

Todd Donovan, LF
Adam Calderone, DH
Brad Emaus, 2B
David Cooper, 1B
Nick Gorneault, RF
Brian Jeroloman, C
Darian Mastroianni, CF
Bryan Kervin, 3B
Luis Sanchez, SS

Luis Perez, P

THUNDER

Reegie Corona, 2B
Jose Molina, C
Eduardo Nunez, SS
Jorge Vazquez, 1B
Jesus Montero, DH
Noah Hall, LF
Chris Malec, 3B
Edwar Gonzalez, RF
Austin Krum, CF

In Defense Of Jorge Vazquez’s Defense…

July 7, 2009

vazquez2Jorge Vazquez leads the Thunder with a .332 batting average, 12 home runs and 49 RBI.

At the plate, he is an absolute monster.

He’s also an incredibly one-dimensional player.  He has no speed to speak of, and his defense leaves much to be desired.

He signed with the Yankees organization after ten productive years in the Mexican League, where he amassed a .321 career average and 151 home runs, including two seasons with 30+.

Of the 627 games he appeared in, 188 came at first base, 124 at third, 14 at catcher and six in the outfield.  He served as a designated hitter for the majority of the others.

Vazquez made one error tonight, contributed to another, and also had a miscommunication with Zach McAllister on a play during the first inning of the game.  Given that, it seemed like a good time to discuss Vazquez’s defense with Thunder manager Tony Franklin after the game.

“Here’s a guy who (has been) a hitter all of his life, all he’s been asked to do is hit,” Franklin said.

“This is a little something different for him.  This is a total different game for him, whether you know that or not or whether you believe that or not.  When you have a guy who’s been in the Mexican League in his hometown, people come to see him hit and that’s all he does.  Defense is a little different, it’s a total package.  I think he’s not as bad as he looks.  Yes, he’s missed some plays.  Malec’s missed some plays as well, and he’s a pretty experienced and seasoned guy.  But the more we put him out there, and the more we explain some things to him and help him get better, the better he’s going to get.”

Franklin gave an example of some of the work the slugger’s been doing to improve his defensive skills.

“We were out earlier today, just talking about some things as far as positioning is concerned,” he said.

“Yeah, he missed some balls.  But I’m happy with the way he caught the ball.  I’m happy because he was in the position to make the plays, and those are things we talked about today.  So that’s progress.  And at the times we do these things, you guys aren’t here, so you don’t have any knowledge of them.  So I see progress where you guys don’t sometimes.  I’ve got that advantage.  But that’s not to say he doesn’t need to make the plays.  Yes, he does.  No question about it.”

Franklin said that defense wasn’t stressed as much in the Mexican League, but that doesn’t take away from what may be a bigger issue for Vazquez…literally. 

His conditioning leaves lots of room for improvement, as it’s not much of a secret that he isn’t in the best shape.

When asked about that, Franklin immediately defended his player.

“You didn’t see Jorge when he first came to us in spring training, he was a pretty big guy,” he said.

“He didn’t have to be in condition to hit.  Somewhere down the line, information wasn’t dispensed to him that you have to be or look a certain way to play.  All (he had) to do is go up there and hit the baseball, and that doesn’t call for conditioning, that just calls for good hand eye coordination.  This guy has improved his body a tremendous amount, this guy has improved his running speed a tremendous amount.  So for you to say that he’s not conditioned, I take exception to that one, because I know where this guy was.  I know what he looked like after taking 10 ground balls and I know where he is now.  I see him running better and putting forth an effort.”

However, that effort hasn’t always been there 100 percent of the time.  And Franklin will be the first one to tell you that as well.

“As a matter of fact, I had to tell him (yesterday), ‘I need you to continue to run as hard as you can,’ because he didn’t run a ball out the way I thought he could,” Franklin said.

“But that’s how much effort he’s putting into it these days.  He’s realizing and understanding what it’s going to take for him to be an everyday first baseman.  Believe me, I worry about the fact he’s out there four or five days in a row, because I know how difficult it is for him.  But he’s getting through it, and I’m pretty pleased with it.  So I take a little exception to that, as far as his conditioning goes.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Game 82: Post-Game Notes

July 7, 2009

— It’s a little hard to be critical of a guy who came into the game leading the entire Eastern League in ERA and gave up only two earned runs on four hits and three walks.  But still, Zach McAllister needed to be better than he was out of the gate tonight, needing a whopping 65 pitches to make it through the first two frames.

“I tend to struggle a bit early in the first two innings,” McAllister said.

“By about the second, I felt like I got into a pretty good groove and was able to maintain through six.”

McAllister, a very likely candidate to start the Eastern League All-Star Game about a week from now, said he didn’t make any changes after the first two innings.

“I just started locating my balls better,” he said.

“Whether it was the breaking balls, the changeup or fastball, I just located better and got into a groove.”

Rated the sixth best prospect in the Yankees organization coming into the season by Baseball America, McAllister did settle down and manage to get through six innings of work. 

“That was probably one of the best things I can take from that outing, how I bounced back after the first two innings,” he said.

— The Thunder have lost 8 out of their last 10, putting them at 40-42 on the season.

“We’re not as good as I want us to be right now,” Thunder skipper Tony Franklin said.

“We’re hurting ourselves.  We’re right in these games.  We got crushed the other day, but for the most part, we’re right in the games.  It just seems to be one or two things in the game that really kills us during the game.  Today, it was our errors that hurt us pretty bad.”

— As mentioned in the game thread, Jason Stephens has a legitimate injury.  Sad that I have to ask, but with guys being placed on the phantom DL lately, I never know what to believe anymore.  But Stephens told me in the dugout before the game that he injured his left side and would be down for a few days.

— In case you missed the posted audio, Jose Molina will make his final appearance for the Thunder tomorrow behind the plate.  He’s expected to catch for seven innings, just like Sunday.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com