Archive for February, 2011

You May Actually Be Able To Hear Thunder Games This Season…

February 23, 2011

(PR) (Trenton, NJ) – The Trenton Thunder, Double A Affiliate of the New York Yankees, and The College of New Jersey announced a partnership today that makes WTSR, 91.3 FM the new flagship station of the Trenton Thunder Radio Network. The agreement was announced at a press conference held at Paul Loser Hall on the campus of The College of New Jersey in Ewing, NJ.

The College of New Jersey’s student radio station, WTSR, will broadcast all 142 Trenton Thunder games plus playoff games for at least the next three seasons. WTSR boasts a 1,500 watt signal that reaches listeners over large portions of Mercer, Bucks and Burlington counties. All games can also be heard online at

“This new partnership expands the reach of Trenton Thunder baseball within the region,” said Thunder General Manager and The College of New Jersey alumnus Will Smith. “We look forward to working with a distinguished institution like The College of New Jersey to bring Trenton Thunder games to even more fans over WTSR’s airwaves.”

“We’re excited that students will be able to learn the technical side of the radio business through Thunder broadcasts,” added Smith. “If I was a student, I’d be excited for the chance to work with and learn from broadcasting New York Yankees Double-A Baseball.”

“TCNJ is very excited about this partnership with the Thunder. It will provide our students with access to hands-on learning opportunities and will help broaden awareness, throughout the region, of TCNJ’s standing as a national leader in the delivery of undergraduate, public education,” said Matthew Golden, Vice President for College Relations and Advancement.
The partnership between the Thunder and The College of New Jersey will provide paid educationally based employment opportunities at the radio station for students. Students will serve as Board Operators during each game broadcast and will have the opportunity to create and produce much of the content heard during games. The College of New Jersey will have opportunities during the broadcasts to promote the school as well as in-stadium promotional opportunities during Thunder home games.

The Thunder broadcast team for 2011 will consist of Jay Burnham returning for his second season in Trenton and his ninth year as a Minor League Baseball broadcaster. Burham will be joined in the booth this season by Hank Fuerst, who is in his first year with Trenton and his second as a Minor League broadcaster.

It was also announced that WBCB 1490 AM of Levittown, PA will carry at least 20 select Thunder games this season.

The 2011 Trenton Thunder season will begin on Thursday, April 7 at New Hampshire with the home opener set for Thursday, April 14 versus Harrisburg. All Trenton Thunder tickets are all on sale now at All Thunder games can be heard at 91.3 FM and online at

Former Fan Favorite Manning Resurfaces

February 23, 2011

Charlie Manning (2004 Photo: Mike Ashmore)

Charlie Manning pitched in parts of five seasons for the Trenton Thunder, and his familiarity to fans made him one of the team’s most popular players.  From 2003-07, the soft-tossing lefty appeared in 138 games in a Trenton Thunder uniform as a middle reliever, and was a reliable part of bullpens managed by Stump Merrill, Bill Masse and Tony Franklin.

But although Manning reached Triple-A in each of his last four seasons in the Yankees organization, he never cracked the Yankees roster.  His big league dreams finally came true the following season, when he debuted with the Washington Nationals after signing with them as a minor league free agent prior to the start of 2008.

Manning appeared in 57 games for the Nationals that season, going 1-3 and posting a 5.14 ERA.  He last pitched in 2009 as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals organization, spending his entire season in Triple-A Memphis.

But now Manning, who will turn 32 prior to the start of the 2011 season, is back.  Today, he signed a contract with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs of the independent Atlantic League.

I’m looking forward to covering Manning again, assuming I’m back on that beat as well, which is not a given.  When I first started covering this team in a beat writer capacity, which was 2006, Manning was one of the friendlier faces in the clubhouse.

Enjoy this old 2006 story from the Democrat profiling Manning…


Fans of the Trenton Thunder have had plenty of opportunities to get to know 27-year-old southpaw reliever Charlie Manning. After all, this is his fourth season with the Thunder and fifth in Double-A overall.

But if he keeps pitching the way he has been, the only opportunity fans will be talking about will be the one he’ll be getting in the Bronx.

Manning is 6-0 with a 2.61 ERA in 22 appearances for Trenton, with his win total tying him for fourth among all Eastern League pitchers and his batting average against of .177 leading all Thunder hurlers.

The Thunder temporarily lost Manning for two days in late May, as he was called up to Triple-A Columbus for the third consecutive season. But after just one appearance in which he didn’t allow an earned run, he was back in his familiar stomping grounds of Waterfront Park.

Thunder manager Bill Masse has managed Manning both in Single-A Tampa and with Trenton, and has nothing but praise for his most reliable reliever.

“He’s been very good,” Masse said. “He’s got a real good cut fastball, and he’s incorporated a two-seamer, which he’s always had, but this year he’s throwing it for strikes.”

Manning, who as a starter won a championship with Norwich in 2002, has spent the past two seasons as a reliever after being traded back to the Yankees from the Reds in June of 2004.

The knock on Manning has always been his velocity, with the left-hander topping out in the mid 80’s. And that plays a large role in why Masse has used him out of the bullpen for the past two years.

“He doesn’t have a good changeup for a starter,” Masse said. “When you’re throwing 87-88 miles per hour, you need something to keep you off the fastball. Arm strength is not a real easy thing to find, but some guys find their niche later on in life. He’s still young enough to where three years from now, he could be throwing 90.”

While Masse has only used Manning as a reliever, former Thunder manager Stump Merrill would also use him as a starter, with 18 of his 49 appearances for Merrill coming as a starter. But the Florida native insists he’s learned to love his new role.

“I love getting the chance to throw every day, especially if I have a bad outing,” Manning said. “I can just get right back out there the next day and redeem myself and not sit there for five days and think about it. I like the adrenaline rush of hearing your name get called and getting up and getting going.”

After getting his ring with the Navigators in 2002, Manning’s next big accomplishment may only be a few days away, as his numbers would seem to put him in prime position for a spot on the Eastern League All-Star team.

“If I make it, great. If I don’t, it’s two days off,” Manning said with a laugh.

If the officials in charge of selecting the team make the right decision, the only vacation Charlie Manning should have planned for July 11th and 12th is a trip to Altoona, Pa. to represent his team in the Double-A version of the midsummer classic.

Thunder Notes: Three days short of his 20th birthday, Thunder pitcher Phil Hughes was one of seven Eastern League players named to the All-Star Futures Game. Hughes is the ninth Thunder player in team history to be named to the game, a showcase for top prospects around minor league baseball. He’s the first Thunder player to be named to the game since current big leaguers Robinson Cano and Dioner Navarro in 2004, and is the first to play for the American team in the game. Hughes responded to the nomination by carrying a no-hitter into the 8th inning against Connecticut just two days later…Charleston outfielder Jose Tabata is the only other Yankees prospect set to participate in the game, which will be held in conjunction with the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Pittsburgh.

Around the EL: Phillies starter Randy Wolf was rocked in his June 21st rehab start against Erie for Reading, allowing six runs on six hits in just 3.2 innings of work…In a surprising move, The B-Mets 22-year-old Mike Pelfrey (3-1, 2.48) was not invited to the Futures Game, but 26-year-old teammate Matt Lindstrom (1-2, 3.18) was.

Cashman: Banuelos, Betances Back In Trenton

February 17, 2011

Over at New York Daily News beat writer Mark Feinsand’s Yankees blog, he’s got comments from Yankees GM Brian Cashman on just where Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances (pictured) will be headed to start the 2011 season.  Thunder fans will be particularly pleased…

“Betances and Banuelos aren’t earning spots in the rotation out of spring training,” Cashman told the paper.

“They’re going to get their first taste of big-league camp, then they’re going to get slotted into Trenton. They have no chance to make this team.”

Banuelos and Betances, both regarded as being among the top pitching prospects in all of baseball, joined the Thunder late in the 2010 regular season and made three starts a piece in the regular season; Banuelos was 0-1 with a 3.52 ERA and 17:8 K/BB ratio in 15 1/3 IP while Betances was 0-0 with a 3.77 ERA and 20:3 K/BB ratio in 14 1/3 IP.

But it was the postseason where each young pitcher had a performance that really opened the window into the potential that many around the game see in each of them…

In other Yankees-related news, embattled former Staten Island Yankees pitching coach Pat Daneker has signed with the independent Atlantic League’s Southern Maryland Blue Crabs to serve in a similar capacity.  Daneker, who reportedly had his World Series ring stolen last year, has significant pitching experience in that league.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT

2011 Plans

February 14, 2011

So, I haven’t written on here in a while.  I’m aware of this, and my inbox would suggest that you guys are well aware of that as well.

I’ve had quite a bit going on over the past few months, and there has been — and continues to be — a lot of behind the scenes stuff going on in regards to just what my plans will be for the 2011 baseball season.  Barring any less (damn you, auto-correct!) last second changes, I will be back in some form or another to do a fourth season of Thunder Thoughts.  I can’t really say a whole lot more than that, but I’ll know exactly what’s going one way or the other probably by the end of the month or early next month.

I write on a freelance basis…so I apologize for not being able to tell you a little more, but that’s the way this business goes.  On that note, yes…that post below this one was obviously a sponsored one.  The only money I make off of this blog or any other is off of advertising…I only get paid for my print work.

Regardless, I’m back for 2011.  I have more on my plate with my hockey beat than I’ve ever had before, traveling all over to do features for in addition to my Trenton Devils beat writer duties, so I can’t make any promises on off-season content.  I do have a lot of stuff in the can, and will likely use that more as a lead-up to this season than off-season filler crap to keep you coming back here for no legitimate reason.  But I can assure you that from April to September, there is still no place you’d rather be when it comes to getting your Trenton Thunder coverage.

In the meantime, I am always available via e-mail (mashmore98 AT and on Twitter (mashmore98).

Is Andy Pettitte A Hall of Famer?

February 14, 2011

Trenton Thunder fans were treated with the opportunity to see legendary Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte rehab with the team during the 2010 Eastern League Playoffs.  Little did anyone know that they’d be among the last starts he’d ever make.

Pettitte retired recently, but the debate among fans, writers and even those into baseball betting raged on as to whether or not he’ll be elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame when his time comes. 

A quick trip to to look up his stats reveals a compelling case.  A three-time All Star and five-time World Series Champion, the southpaw finished with a 240-138 record, 3.88 ERA and 2,251 strikeouts.  But the postseason is where Pettitte really made his mark, finishing as Major League Baseball’s all-time leader in playoff wins with a remarkable 19.

But, regardless of the circumstances, Pettitte admitted to using HGH twice in 2002.  And that might be just enough to keep him out of Cooperstown given his fringe nature as a HOF’er to begin with.  To me, I think Pettitte’s postseason prowess is enough to put him over the top…but for most writers, I suspect he’ll have four “t’s” in his name but not enough “W’s.”  Never an ace, Pettitte may very well be on the outside looking in when his name appears on the ballot.

What do you think?  Is Pettitte a Hall of Famer?     

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT // Twitter: mashmore98 // Sponsored story