It’s a weird feeling right now. I feel like I might be ready for the season to start, but the minute you think that is the minute you realize you forgot something and you’re completely hosed.
News from TinCapsVille:
- At a meeting between the team and the front office yesterday, everyone in the room said their name and where they were from. It was ripped straight from the script of “D2: Because Everything’s Better When We Can Root for Team USA.”
- Heard around a chilly, windy batting cage yesterday: “Coming from Arizona, it feels like we’re hitting cement baseballs.”
- Jake Blackwood hit one over the retaining fence behind the left-field concourse during batting practice yesterday. It’s only BP, but that’s some pop.
- Here’s the pitching rotation, at least the first time through: RH Keyvius Sampson, RH Zach Cates, RH Matt Branham, RH Adys Portillo, LH Andrew Werner. LH Mark Hardy and RH Matt Jackson will pitch every fourth day as piggyback relievers, meaning the starter will go 5 innings (at most) and the piggyback guy comes in to go 3-4 innings. That’s mostly because there are seven guys the Padres want to develop as starters, but five spots in the rotation. With all the turnover in the minors, the piggyback system keeps these guys ready to step right into the rotation if somebody gets hurt/promoted.
- During the workout yesterday, the team scouted the idiosyncrasies of Parkview Field. Manager Shawn Wooten and the catchers checked out how the ball will bounce (or not bounce) back off the screen behind home plate. The infielders scouted how the ball comes off the fence along the side of Parkview Field (in case of overthrows) and everybody watched the way the ball rolls down each baseline on bunts. That’s heads-up stuff that can pay off big time.
- Last year we had RHP Jerry Sullivan playing pianos like a lounge singer at hotels and LHP Mike Watt bringing his guitar on the road. This year we have Cates playing coffeehouse-style guitar shows in the clubhouse and I’ve heard RHP Adam Dominick can play as well. Maybe we’ll book them for post-game concerts on the amphitheater.
- I told strength coach Reed Wainwright on Monday I’d be in the weight room on a daily basis. I don’t think he believed me until yesterday when I was down there for the second straight day working out for real.
- C Rocky Gale automatically wins entrance song of the year for selecting Ted Nugent’s “Stranglehold.” The plaque for the alternates is down in the ladies’ room.
- According to former Fort Wayne 3B Chase Headley, the ghost of David Eckstein may have helped the Padres win their home opener yesterday. RHP Aaron Harang had a nice start to pick up the win. If you’ve noticed, the Padres won their first series and they won the opener of their next series against the defending champs without their No. 1 starter. I know it’s a small sample size, but have we underestimated the sneakiness again?
- Former TinCaps RHP Mat Latos could be activated from the DL early next week.
- I don’t know how I missed it, but here are some minor-league transactions from Baseball America. Fort Wayne alums RHP Dexter Carter and OF Kellen Kulbacki were released. Carter was re-signed by the White Sox (who drafted him originally, but I think we covered this before).
- Someone asked BA who would win in a battle of Royals minor-leaguers vs. the rest of the top prospects in MiLB. Something tells me the person who asked that question is a relative of Bob Swerski, who once famously asked who would win in a fight between Mike Ditka and a hurricane.
- Two things I saw from watching the Rangers-Mariners game on TV last night: Rangers RHP Alexi Ogando could make everybody forget about the Neftali Feliz starter/closer debate, and Mariners RHP Michael Pineda is strikingly similar to former TinCaps RHP Simon Castro. Tall, wiry build, a slightly harder fastball than Castro, a nice slider and needs to use the changeup more or he’ll get beaten by left-handed batters (which Pineda did). Still, he looked good to me.
- Rockies fans picked Katy Perry’s “Firework” to be SS Troy Tulowitzki’s entrance song. But he slumped, so he changed it to a Justin Beiber song. Because it must’ve been the music.
- How many more losses before Red Sox fans go into full-on meltdown mode?
- Yankees RHP Rafael Soriano got knocked around and then left the clubhouse before reporters could track him down to talk. Which is probably the quickest way to getting hammered by the New York media, not to mention your teammates.
- They might change the rules about college baseball players and agents.
- Mustache Watch? I can handle that.
- That’s enough, Jim Nantz.
- I got an e-mail from former TinCaps video guy Allan Wertheimer this morning euphorically claiming the hot buffet “IS BACK!!!” at the Vikings compound, where he now works. About 45 minutes later, he sent this picture message to my phone, captioned “YES!!!!!!!” Apparently the Vikings are bringing in 30 draft prospects today (many of them 300+ pounds) and somehow the video guy is the one everybody’s staring at for eating too much.
- Speaking of breakfast, my family is coming to town for the first series of the season. I’m not sure why, but I’m pretty excited to make a Wertheimer-size breakfast for us on Friday.
Musical guest… OK Go!
Yesterday was the day everything starts to speed up. The team got to the ballpark for the first time, got their uniforms, had media day (interviews, photos, etc.) and a workout. And an acoustic guitar session in the clubhouse. Same old stuff.
In the “not-same-old-stuff” category, unbeknownst to me (but knownst to MiLB.com), this year our streaming audio will apparently be available on your favorite iProducts in addition to computers. So we’ve got that going for us, I guess.
- The rosters for Triple-A Tucson and Advanced-A Lake Elsinore are updated on their sites. Double-A San Antonio doesn’t look like it’s updated yet.
- Former TinCaps RHP Mat Latos pitched a simulated game against minor-leaguers and looked good. Also, the team has three days off in the first week of the season. I wish the minor leagues had a week like that.
- The San Diego version of Jeff “KoKo” Greer has been working for months on new stuff for the PETCO Park video board. Our version of KoKo has some new stuff up his sleeve, too.
San Diegooouan… San Diegoite… San Diegan RHP Aaron Harang will start the Padres’ home opener.
- Tony Gwynn is making adjustments after his bout(s) with cancer.
- Former Fort Wayne RHP Jake Peavy will rehab at Double-A on Friday.
- I can’t find video of it anywhere (thanks a lot, MLB.com video editors), but former Fort Wayne 3B David Freese made a pretty incredible play for the Cardinals last night: dove toward the hole to snag a grounder, threw to first from the seat of his pants and got the runner at first.
- There’s an article about the top prospects coming to the Midwest League this year, but at least two of them (Michael Choice, LeVon Washington) aren’t on MWL rosters. Odd.
- Flavor Flav will appear at a Midwest League game. Why wouldn’t he?
- When it comes to calling prospects to the big leagues, service time plays a big part in the decision-making process.
- Rangers RHP Brandon Webb plunked three guys in a simulated game. I can’t remember the last time there was a positive report about him.
- Kevin Millar had some things to say about Lou Piniella’s last Spring Training with the Cubs.
- Joe Posnanski ranks the top 32 players in the big leagues.
- The wife of the Marlins’ owner is writing a book about baseball players’ cooking abilities. She clearly stole my idea.
- Can you remember a less-athletic (but still productive) Division-I basketball player than Butler’s Matt Howard? He probably spent half of the game last night sprawled out on the floor.
Musical guest… Blue Oyster Cult!
The TinCaps landed in Fort Wayne yesterday, no problems. The coaches haven’t arrived (they’re driving their own cars in from wherever they’re from). The only real bit of news is that RHP Keyvius Sampson looks like he’s going to get the start on Opening Night. From everything I’ve heard, he’s nasty when he’s healthy.
- If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, well… Fort Wayne should be flattered.
- In a story you read here last week, Former TinCaps C Griffin Benedict is now a big-league bullpen catcher. He says it was kind of a tough decision, believe it or not.
- Padres RHP Dustin Moseley took the loss in St. Louis yesterday, but deserves another start. Of course he does; if the Padres hadn’t been shut out we’d be talking about how great of an addition Moseley is.
- There’s been a moderate amount of freaking out about Orlando Hudson laying down a sacrifice bunt as the No. 3 hitter in the order. I’m a huge proponent of small-ball and I’ve never understood why it’s that big of a deal. I don’t care where you’re hitting in the lineup; you are who you are. Putting Orlando Hudson in the three-hole does not make him Albert Pujols. If you have run producers in the 4-5 spots in the lineup (and you should), why is it taboo to stay out of the double play (especially against a sinkerballer like Jake Westbrook) and bunt your way into a second-and-third, one-out situation? And I’d be saying this even if it hadn’t turned into a six-run inning.
- Speaking of freaking out, the Red Sox got swept by the Rangers. WE’VE GOT TO KEEP OUR COMPOSURE!
- Still speaking of freaking out, the Royals held their own Futures Game between their Triple-A and Double-A teams. Word is, it was like the Beatles landing in America for the first time. When your team has been so bad for so long, it’s only natural to get pumped about prospects but these guys are getting hyped to the point where it’s almost impossible for them to live up to it.
- Who does Red Sox manager Terry Francona think he is with those glasses? Harry Potter? John Lennon?
- Indians C Carlos Santana started a triple play in his first MLB appearance at first base as the Indians guaranteed they wouldn’t go 0-162.
- In the entire history of baseball, no pitcher has ever been as bad on Opening Day as Indians RHP Fausto Carmona was on Thursday. Thanks a lot, Elias Sports Bureau.
- Rockies RHP Ubaldo Jimenez’s thumb is affecting his velocity.
- So what happened was, Jim Edmonds was all, “That Brandon Phillips ain’t nothin'” and Brandon Phillips was like, “Hater in da house!” I didn’t even make half of that up.
- Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey wants to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro with some athlete friends, including a guy who once bicycled from Connecticut to Mets Spring Training in Florida. Also, Dickey got the idea from reading a book about people getting gangrene while climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. I’m not making any of this up.
- Marlins OF Mike Stanton: He’s good.
- What does Neil Diamond do during his down time in South Africa? Make friends, of course.
- Dave Hutte Status Update: “Bought a Cubs royal plush blanket and Packers tree skirt. Both 75 percent off!” Dave Hutte is nothing if not thrifty.
Musical guest… Thin Lizzy!
So this morning we got the go-ahead to announce our roster. You can check out all the smoke-blowing here.
Aside from things in the actual press release/website article, there’s one thing that deserves to be shared above anything else: RHP Adam Dominick is a product of Division-III Wisconsin-Whitewater (bonus points) and is from Waukesha, Wisconsin. Notable natives? Steve Miller (of Steve Miller Band fame) and Les Paul (of Les Paul guitar fame). Even more impressive, when “artist” Ke$ha was playing a show in nearby Milwaukee, she wanted the town to temporarily change its name to Wauke$ha… but the mayor turned her down.
So… Waukesha, Wisconsin: OK by me.
Also, the day we release the roster is usually the day my “life” gets suspended until September. So if posts become fewer and further between, you’ll know why.
- The San Diego U-T was under the impression the minor-league rosters wouldn’t be released until early next week. Oops.
- The Padres are on pace to go 162-0 after a comeback win over the Cardinals yesterday. Former Fort Wayne 3B Chase Headley scored the go-ahead run from first with some heads-up baserunning (and a mistake by the Cardinals) in the 11th inning.
- In this notebook, we see Fort Wayne alum OF Cedric Hunter made his MLB debut, becoming the 96th Fort Wayne product to do so. Former TinCaps RHP Mat Latos threw a bullpen session before the game in St. Louis and will make a minor-league rehab start, probably at Triple-A Tucson. Also, LHP Cory Luebke is transitioning to a bullpen role.
- Former Fort Wayne OF Brad Chalk gets some pub (even if it’s pretty harsh/honest) in a Baseball America chat.
- Midwest League product and now-Dodgers LHP Clayton Kershaw mowed down the Giants last night. That was the one game I watched any extended part of. Kershaw looked good.
- Braves OF Jason Heyward went yard on Opening Day again… Just call him Mr. March. Heard this on TV last night: The only other player to hit homers on his first two Opening Days was Mets SS Kaz Matsui. So Heyward has that to live up to.
- They’re going to try to play baseball in Cleveland today. And Ozzie Guillen is not pleased. My mom sent me a picture from northeast Ohio yesterday – there was four inches of snow on the ground.
- Mariners RHP Michael Pineda: He’s good.
Musical guest… Jimmy Buffett!
Have a great weekend!
No, another TinCap did not get traded yesterday. At least not that I know of.
Today when the Padres play the Cardinals (on national television, no less), you’ll want to pay attention when somebody starts throwing in the bullpen. Because one of the bullpen catchers is none other than former TinCaps catcher Griffin Benedict.
The way it went down (according to what I’ve heard from a couple of people) is this: Benedict was called into an office at the Padres’ complex toward the end of Spring Training and was told they didn’t have a spot for him on a minor-league roster. But the Padres like the way he catches, and with bullpen coach Darren Akerfelds fighting pancreatic cancer, they needed a second bullpen catcher. So Benedict accepted, and now he’s traveling with the big club, probably getting paid way more than any minor-leaguer (and I assume he gets tips on top of a salary). From what I heard, a lot of guys on the minor-league side were pretty jealous when they found out.
And that’s the story of how Griffin Benedict made the big leagues.
- We’ve hit a lull in the minor-league articles… Camp is wrapping up and the official rosters aren’t out yet. I’d guess Friday or Saturday we’ll get an Opening Day roster.
- If you haven’t heard about the TinCaps’ Open House and Meet the Team night, well… you’re just not paying attention.
- Legendary author Ben Hill has decided to cave into the TinCaps’ demands and feature us (or, more accurately, our 3D glasses) in his MLBlogs profile picture. I’m trying to talk him into coming to Parkview Field this season to join the Bad Apple Dancers. If he plays his cards right, they might even temporarily change their names to the Ben Apple Dancers.
- The San Diego U-T has (even) more questions about the Padres heading into Opening Day. They caught lightning in a bottle last year, and that usually doesn’t happen back-to-back years. Especially when 60 percent of your starting rotation is either coming off injuries or currently injured. But as Heath Bell says, it sure seems like, over the past year, the organization has put itself in a position to have more long-term success. I saw the 2010 Padres as a band-aid fix to the organization’s problems while the front office performed reconstructive surgery behind the scenes.
- Former Padres RHP Edward Mujica had a nasty fall and landed on his right elbow/head. Between this and the Jake Peavy injuries, Padres GM Jed Hoyer is looking like the Bill Bellichick of baseball… once he trades them, they go down like flies.
- Tigers manager Jim Leyland remembers his first day as a minor-league manager; he put his shoes on top of a water heater and the soles melted.
- Giants 1B Brandon Belt made the big-league team and was so overcome that he cried. Noted rally thong-wearer Aubrey Huff responded with, “”Why you crying? I’m the one who’s gotta play right field every day.”
- For the Royals, the waiting is the hardest part. Somebody should write a song about that.
- I wish more writers would share what the Diamondbacks’ beat writer did… Unabridged quotes from unnamed scouts about D-Backs players. Because while media types can watch every game and get into the clubhouse, our primary job is to write articles/broadcast games/etc. The primary job of a scout is to evaluate players. The more perspectives we get, the better chance we’ll get the whole picture.
- Indians manager Manny Acta talked about his time as a minor-league player, eating fast food every day.
- So you’re telling me that the six cities hosting MLB games today are Washington, Cincinnati, St. Louis, New York, Kansas City and Los Angeles? Why does MLB keep doing this to itself? Every team with a roof plus the Angels, Dodgers, Padres, Marlins, Braves and Rangers should open every season with a six-game homestand.That leaves three more teams (2 AL, 1 NL) to host outdoor games in northern-ish cities. Figure it out.
- And then there was the exhibition game played in a near-blizzard in Columbus yesterday.
- Speaking of Columbus… they have bigger problems than snow.
- It’s becoming clear that MLB.tv is the greatest idea in the history of sports on TV. Not only can you choose between home/road feeds, you can also turn the announcers’ sound off and just listen to the natural ballpark audio. Now if they could just shut those TinCaps broadcasters up, we’d really have something…
Musical guest… Michael Franti & Spearhead!
Another former TinCap was traded by the Padres. Again. Two days ago it was RHP Erik Davis to the Nationals. Yesterday it was 1B Allan Dykstra to the Mets for RHP Eddie Kunz.
Dykstra, if you remember, was a first-round pick in 2008 and played for the TinCaps in 2009. I thought he was a very nice guy with big-time pop, but also has a degenerative hip condition (meaning, not going to get better) which may or may not have had an effect on him. A phrase I heard at least one scout throw around was “slider-speed bat.” And that’s a tough thing to overcome if true. I’m not sure where he would’ve been assigned this year with 1Bs Matt Clark, Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Blanks and Nate Freiman also in the pipeline for the Padres.
Kunz was a supplemental first-rounder in 2007. I saw him pitch in the Eastern League in 2008 and he was nasty. Kunz made his big-league debut later that year, but he hasn’t posted a sub-5.00 ERA since then. I haven’t seen any scouting reports lately to explain it, but guys usually don’t go from dominant at Double-A to struggling the next year without an injury or something weird happening.
- Here’s another “what’s it like to work at a ballpark?” example: Before lunch today, I’ve seen our head groundskeeper knock over a full cup of Mountain Dew while using sweeping arm motions at a staff meeting; watched a demonstration of a paper cutter slicing through a phone book (in front of a crowd of about 10 employees, spellbound as if we’d just witnessed atomic fission); and participated in the minor-league phase of our fantasy baseball draft. ‘Tis the season.
- Yesterday I ran some tests of our new radio equipment from the ballpark, then went to the radio station to check out how it sounded. It’s crystal clear. You won’t even believe it when all dozen of you turn on your radios. And the streaming feed is fixed – no more volume fluctuations between game audio and commercials. Now if we could find a radio guy whose voice isn’t jacked up, we’ll be in business. Big thanks to Mogan David, the engineer at Federated Media for his consulting work with a complete doofus.
- Former TinCaps RHP Mat Latos was placed on the DL yesterday and the Padres finalized their 25-man Opening Day roster. Six players from the active roster played here: RHP Ernesto Frieri, LHP Cory Luebke, C Nick Hundley, OFs Will Venable and Cedric Hunter and 3B Chase Headley. Mike Baxter, Kyle Blanks and Mat Latos are Fort Wayne alums on the DL.
- The Padres won’t be sneaking up on people this year. I fear we underestimated the sneakiness last year, and perhaps the team isn’t quite as sneaky this year with the questions about the pitching staff.
- RHP Aaron Harang got knocked around by the Brewers yesterday in the Padres’ Spring Training finale. INF Dean Anna, RHP Brad Brach, Jaff and Cody Decker are the recent TinCaps who made the box score.
- Former Fort Wayne RHP Jake Peavy had a good simulated game yesterday, but is bummed he’s not making the trip north yet.
- Same feeling for Nationals RHP Stephen Strasburg, who is staying behind to rehab from Tommy John surgery.
- Phillies 2B Chase Utley hopes to be back before the All-Star Break. Uh-oh.
- Intriguing stuff from Baseball America about prospects, when to bring them up to the big leagues, changing the culture of a team, etc.
- The Mariners have a reliever who is the classic huge-prospect-caught-for-drugs-twice-retired-bartended-backpacked-around-the-country-returned-to-baseball-jumped-to-the-big-leagues story. We’ve heard it a million times. He pitched in the MWL, for Clinton last year.
- The Jays put Jose Bautista in right field and Edwin Encarnacion at third. In other words, as Buster Olney says, former MWLer Brett Lawrie won’t be in the minors long if Encarnacion doesn’t figure it out.
- Former megaprospect Alex Gordon is back, and he’s hitting third for the Royals.
- Baseball now has a 7-day DL specifically for concussions. Which is nice for the minor dings. Who will be the first team to put a phantom “concussion sufferer” on the DL to free up a roster spot?
- Changes to Wrigley Field? Blasphemy!
- One fan would rather eat his tickets than eat lunch with his team’s owner.
- The Giants will decide where to assign 1B Brandon Belt today.
- A catcher-pitcher argument followed by a dizzy spell followed by vomiting. And “Jungle” Jack Hannahan starting at third base. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2011 Cleveland Indians!
- “There is no heat in Cleveland in March! And we like it that way!” – Cavaliers TV play-by-play man Fred McLeod. I don’t care if Miami was tanking the game for playoff seeding or not, that win makes Cleveland’s 2011. Now if the Browns get A.J. Green in the NFL draft, we won’t know what to do with ourselves.
- Oh, that’s weird: another story about corruption in college football. Read this book and tell me the bowl system makes sense. I dare you.
- Since everybody else is doing it, predictions for playoff teams: Red Sox-White Sox-Rangers-Yankees, Phillies-Reds-Giants-Braves. I really wanted to pick the A’s and Rockies, but couldn’t pull the trigger. In October we’ll all look back on this and laugh.
- This is the best idea I’ve heard all day.
Musical guest… Young MC!
Earlier this off-season, former TinCaps INF Cole Figueroa was part of a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays. Yesterday RHP Erik Davis, another member of the 2009 TinCaps, was dealt to the Nationals for INF Alberto Gonzalez.
The trade makes complete sense – the Padres wanted to give SS Everth Cabrera more time in the minor leagues but also wanted a utility infielder who could play shortstop.
As far as Davis, he tied the Fort Wayne franchise record (held by LaTroy Hawkins) with 16 wins in 2009. At one point that season, he won five straight starts, not allowing more than two runs in any of those starts. He had a really nice season last year, topping out at Triple-A.
- Former TinCaps RHP Mat Latos will open the year on the DL. Sigh. He’s supposed to play catch today. In other roster moves, former Fort Wayne OF Cedric Hunter and LHP Cory Luebke each made the big-league team.
- INF Brad Hawpe had a hairline fracture in his ribs last year, but never went on the DL. He’s looking for a bounceback.
- The Padres and Brewers combined to hit SIX home runs in a 5-4 game yesterday. Former Fort Wayne OF Will Venable accounted for two. Former TinCaps RHP Anthony Bass served up three of the homers, but give him a break – he was going against the Brewers’ MLB lineup. Ryan Braun hit two, Dick Weeks hit the other.
- Here are the best- and worst-case scenarios for the new Padres.
- Former Fort Wayne RHP Jake Peavy is ready to open the year in extended Spring Training… But that doesn’t mean he’s happy about it.
- Fort Wayne alum Michael Cuddyer had an eventful off-season with a couple of health issues.
- Legendary author Ben Hill tells us about the Tucson Padres’ “Name the Mascot” promotion.
- Former Midwest Leaguer and now-Rockies OF Carlos Gonzalez took a little while to tap into his potential.
- Diamondbacks INF prospect (and 2010 South Bend Silver Hawk) Bobby Borchering is soaking up all the knowledge he can this spring.
- I never thought I’d see Carlos Zambrano described as a “voice of reason” but it actually happened.
- Peter Gammons reminds us that he’s still the man… by writing an excellent Spring Training update.
- The Dodgers found Fernando Valenzuela by quasi-accident. If you ever watched the 30-for-30 documentary about Valenzuela you know how key he was to helping the Dodgers win the Latin-American community back after some craziness that happened when they were building Dodger Stadium.
- O’s manager Buck Showalter is now directing his crotchetiness toward his own players instead of Derek Jeter. But when you swing at a 3-0 pitch in a blowout, you’re asking for crotchetiness.
- Former Rockies slugger Dante Bichette is now a pretty good tennis player.
- The Rays think Manny Ramirez has another big year in him.
- A bunch of Rays had their apartment robbed, and apparently Evan Longoria had an AK-47 stolen. Uh, what?
- I’m still sick. Voice sounds terrible. Many of you are probably thinking, “But it always sounds terrible!” You’re right, but shut up.
Musical guest… Kenny Rogers and The First Edition!
It seems like there’s something of a split when it comes to the value of Spring Training. Do the stats matter? Do wins and losses matter? Well, take this Spring Training story into account when you think about it.
This weekend I talked to a well-placed source about minor-league Spring Training games. There was a minor-league game in Florida. Team A, the visitors, had a big lead the whole game, but their pitchers were using a lot of pitches and not lasting very long. Team B was coming back in the bottom of the ninth, two outs and bases loaded. Team A Manager calls time and tells the umpire his pitcher has reached his pitch limit and he’s the last guy who needed to get his work in that day. The umpire tells Team B Manager that the game is over because Team A is out of pitchers.
Then something happened that is completely unheard of in Spring Training baseball:
Team B Manager flips out. Completely loses it.
Says Team A is chicken, doesn’t want to lose the game. He’s furious and isn’t going anywhere.
Team A Manager calls his farm director. Tells him this other manager is a whack-job. This is a Spring Training game, right? Who cares?
So Team A Farm Director calls Team B Farm Director, who is at the complex where the game is being played. Would you please remind your manager that this isn’t the World Series?
Team B Farm Director walks over to the field, tells his manager to relax and that the game is, in fact, over.
The moral of the story is this: Stats mean virtually nothing. If you’re on the bubble of getting released or not making the big-league team, it’s more about how you look. How’s your bat speed? Do you have command of the strike zone? Are you throwing harder than 82 mph on your fastball?
And wins and losses mean nothing.
And so ends today’s Spring Training story time.
- Just heard former TinCaps RHP Anthony Bass is starting today’s big league game.
- TinCaps manager Shawn Wooten gets some pub in a New York Times blog about disciples of Mike Scioscia. Padres manager Bud Black, Rays manager Joe Maddon and Brewers manager Ron Roenicke were on Scioscia’s staff when the Angels won the World Series. And Wooten played on that team.
- Usually needles are discouraged around baseball, but Stitch N’ Pitch is an exception.
- LHP Clayton Richard struggled against the Angels yesterday. Fort Wayne alums OFs Will Venable, Blake Tekotte and Daniel Robertson and INFs Andy Parrino and James Darnell got playing time.
- On Saturday, former TinCaps RHP Brad Brach was in the middle as the Padres and Dodgers “got spirited” with some beanballs. Mat Latos stopped in the middle of an autograph session and jogged to the field, just in case the jaw-jackers started to get a little more heated.
- Latos was supposed to start that game, but he skipped it with shoulder soreness and now might be headed to the DL.
- SS Everth Cabrera is going to make San Diego’s Opening Day roster. When the Padres released Kevin Frandsen on Friday, this looked likely. Also, OF Cameron Maybin is expected to return to the lineup today after a bout with quad stiffness.
- Former TinCaps RHP Dexter Carter was released by the Padres. I’ve heard he’s already been picked up by the White Sox, the organization that drafted him.
- The San Diego U-T‘s Padres preview asks if the Padres can catch lightning in a bottle again.
- The U-T also has profiles of the 2011 Padres.
- Tony Gwynn is cancer-free.
- Here’s the 819th prospect ranking list of the year, this one by FanGraphs.
- The Royals’ loaded farm system is like a really good garage band: They might hit it big as Royals, they might end up with other successful teams, they might flame out completely. You just never know. Just ask the Diamondbacks, circa 2005. They had OF Carlos Gonzalez, SS Stephen Drew, LHP Brett Anderson, OF Justin Upton, etc.
- Mariners RHP Michael Pineda… He’s good.
- Mariners LHP Erik Bedard is still alive, and he’s having a good spring.
- Remember when the Cardinals were toast because they lost Adam Wainwright? Well, since then, Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum have had injuries for the Brewers, half the Reds rotation (Johnny Cueto, Bronson Arroyo, Homer Bailey) has health problems and Carlos Silva, who was kind of good for the Cubs last year, is gone. And that’s just the NL Central… The Phillies are just as depleted with Chase Utley out, Brad Lidge hurt and Jayson Werth gone to Washington.
- The Red Sox got slammed by injuries last year, but they’re investing big in injury prevention.
- Well what happened was, Buck Showalter was all like, “Derek Jeter’s a baby and Theo Epstein’s overrated,” and now Terry Francona’s getting all like, “Yo, why you hatin’?”
- The Indians’ payroll is down for the third straight year.
- The Cubs hired their new PA announcer after holding a giant PR campaign/dog-and-pony-show/employee search.
- Did you know there have been 90 space shuttle missions since the Pirates’ last winning season? NINETY!
- Reds LHP Aroldis Chapman’s translator was the trainer at Triple-A Louisville, but now the trainer got the call to the big leagues. Also in that notebook, Hal McCoy makes an exquisite point: When you’re flying, why is it that the people who play by the rules and check luggage at the airport counter are charged a decent chunk of money, but the people who act completely shocked when their their gigantic bags don’t fit into the overhead bins get to pay nothing? The luggage ends up in the same place, under the plane.
- Apparently the Canseco brothers are kind of like those wrestlers who dressed exactly the same, right down to their masks, then when one of them got wailed on, they’d both go under the ring. When they came out, nobody knew who the legal man was, so the fresh guy would get back in the ring. You know what I’m talking about, right?
- Buster Olney told the story of his dogs. When the TinCaps go to Lake County in mid-May, I’m going to hang out with my dogs so much they’re going to get sick of me.
- “America’s Next Great Restaurant” is a decent idea for a show, but it’s almost like they ran out of good contestants. I can’t believe some of the ideas ever made it to the show. A restaurant totally based on meatballs? A fast-casual grilled cheese sandwich restaurant? These must be the William Hungs of the restaurant reality show business.
- I’m also proud to announce that I made my first omelet yesterday. And it was delicious. My breakfast arsenal is expanding pretty quickly.
- I picked up a cold and my voice is almost completely gone. This is the radio guy’s equivalent to a pitcher having shoulder soreness two weeks before Opening Day: Better now than during the season.
- Even though my post from Friday got deleted with the changes to MLBlogs, I do like the new format. It’s MUCH easier to use on my end and I don’t think you have to be registered to comment anymore. So comment away!
Musical guest… Milli Vanilli!
By all accounts, Rays manager Joe Maddon is a pretty hip dude. He’s an avid cyclist, taking a collapsible bike with him on road trips. His musical taste ranges from Pavarotti to Bruce Springsteen. He’s a connoisseur of fine wines. His glasses are a fashion statement. It was Maddon’s idea for the Rays to wear crazy costumes on road trips. He’s on record as saying he probably won’t cut his hair all season. He even does commercials for vitamins as if he were some kind of modern-day Hulk Hogan.
What I’m trying to say is, Joe Maddon may, in fact, be the most interesting man in the world. Or at least Major League Baseball.
“I think you kind of need to have that blessing when you walk into a
new place, before everybody feels comfortable with you,” Maddon says.
“You know what I liken it to? It’s almost like the
best-looking-girl-in-the-bar theory. Everybody’s afraid to talk to her
because she’s the best-looking girl in the bar. Well, Manny is one of
the best hitters since — I don’t know — Babe Ruth? So somebody’s
afraid to talk to him about hitting. And if they do, they’re going to be
less than forceful in their opinions because, after all, he’s Manny
“So it’s no different,” Maddon philosophizes. “For those
who are single, always approach that best-looking girl in the bar [and
say], ‘Excuse me.’ And for managers and coaches, always approach that
potential Hall of Fame player. He might want to hear what you have to
So there you have it. When in doubt, do what Joe Maddon would do: Suck it up, have some confidence and talk to good-looking ladies.
Now you know. And knowing’s half the battle.
- Before you do anything else, take a moment to bask in the genius of TinCaps head groundskeeper Keith Winter, the Most Interesting Groundskeeper in the World. Aside from Joe Maddon, he may be the top philosopher in all of baseball right now.
- The Padres got beat by the Brewers by a touchdown (with a former Michigan football player on the mound… surprise), but Fort Wayne alums Will Venable, Jedd Gyorko, Blake Tekotte, Daniel Robertson, Sawyer Carroll and Rymer Liriano all got into the game for San Diego.
- Sidearming RHP Pat Neshek made his Padres debut and has a decent shot to make the big-league roster.
- Padres RHP Aaron Harang has been doing a lot of video work, trying to get back to what made him successful with the Reds.
- Baseball America updates their organizational rankings to reflect some of the trades since the Prospect Handbook came out. The Padres moved up to No. 8 after the Cubs traded some of their top prospects to the Rays for Matt Garza.
- Padres GM Jed Hoyer is on record saying Spring Training stats mean virtually nothing. Others think they mean something… unless they don’t. As usual, I’m in the Hoyer camp on this one.
- Former Fort Wayne RHP Jake Peavy played catch and will get the rehab process restarted soon.
- Midwest League alum LHP Clayton Kershaw is maturing as the ace of the Dodgers.
- There’s a preview out there for the Giants’ reality show on Showtime. It looks almost exactly like HBO’s 24/7 series, which isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it may be the first reason ever to actually subscribe to Showtime.
- Orioles LHP Zach Britton is having a nice spring. I’m very skeptical of AL East pitching prospects… they get thrown into the meat grinder like nobody else in baseball.
- Angels 1B Kendrys Morales has some foot soreness. He’s the guy who broke his leg celebrating after a game-winning home run. Apparently the foot issue is a separate problem from the broken leg.
- The Phillies signed Luis Castillo right after he got released by the Mets, but now nobody can figure out why he was slow to report to Phillies camp. Sigh. Wasting talent is lame.
- Opening Day in Japan has been pushed back, not surprisingly.
- The Twins had a couple of beer vendors caught up in a “check-ID” sting.
- Will Rhymes will be the Tigers’ starting second baseman. They haven’t found a good alternative since Placido Polanco left.
- Yankees C Jesus Montero will probably start the season in Triple-A. Which is good, actually… Better than sitting on the bench in the big leagues.
- A Josh Hamilton-like story is unfolding at Marlins camp.
- The Cubs are getting a look at a former college football star whom they paid good money. And I’m not talking about RHP Jeff Samardzija. Who, by the way, is out of options this spring. If they don’t keep him in the big leagues, the Cubs would have to put Samardzija through waivers to send him to the minors. That whole situation stinks. They overpaid to get him to pass up football, he was rushed through the minors (at least partially because of the money) and now (surprise!) he’s not ready to be who they thought he’d be. Ugh.
- Don Zimmer is starting his 63rd season in baseball. The stories he could tell…
- I’m kind of mad that I missed the Supermoon the other night.
- Last night I got invited to crash a wedding reception. If you’re invited by someone other than the bride or groom, is it still considered crashing? Quasi-crashing?
- I can’t get enough of this: Rockies SS Troy Tulowitzki is asking fans to pick his new walk-up song, replacing “Party in the USA.” If it was me, I’d take the top five suggestions and pick it myself. Right now if I had to pick a walkup song, I’d go with an edited version of “The W.A.N.D.” by The Flaming Lips, “Your Touch” by The Black Keys, “Motown Philly” by Boyz II Men, “Good Vibrations” by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, “2 Legit 2 Quit” by M.C. Hammer or the chorus of “Ice Ice Baby.” And I’d force Tony DesPlaines to alternate songs every single at-bat, and he’d hate every sec
ond of it, but the crowd would go bananas.
Musical guest, with perhaps the greatest walkup song ever… Ted Nugent!
RHP Mat Latos got the start on the mound. Then in the 9th inning, Jaff Decker, Daniel Robertson and Blake Tekotte came to the plate back-to-back-to-back. Decker singled, then Tekotte doubled him home.
No, I’m not reminiscing about a TinCaps game from May 2009… I’m talking about last night’s Spring Training game in Peoria, Padres vs. White Sox. It was darn near a TinCaps 2009 reunion.
I can’t help but wonder if the 2009 TinCaps team was like the “Saved by the Bell” heyday era for those guys. Maybe not their most profitable time, or even what they’d consider the most successful of their individual careers (since the point is getting to the big leagues, not winning Midwest League titles). But as far as having fun, winning games and being the toast of the town, they may never be a part of a perfect mix like that again in their careers.
At this point, they’ve all moved on. Some of the players from that 2009 team have gone away, like how Jessi Spano and Lisa Turtle mysteriously disappeared from “The College Years.” Others (Adrian Gonzalez trade pieces come to mind) have come in to fill their place, like Bob Golic as the awkward resident assistant/washed up-football player and Alex as the quirky weird hat girl. It’s still a decent show/team, but it’s just not the same vibe, even if it’s a higher level and better for them individually.
We said it back then and it still seems completely right: Teams like that don’t come along very often, especially in the minors. So when they do, just enjoy it while it lasts. Like “Saved by the Bell,” the Belding years.
Or maybe I just watched too much TV as a kid.
Side note: “The College Years” did what I thought was impossible: it made college seem lamer and more awkward than high school. If that is actually how anyone’s experience went, I feel horrible for them.
- Latos had a tough beginning to the night, but got it together and finished strong.
- Fort Wayne alum INF Mike Baxter will miss around eight weeks due to thumb surgery. He tore a ligament.
- Former Fort Wayne INF/OF Michael Cuddyer has been playing in minor-league games for the Twins and he’ll probably get into a big league game tomorrow. He had a wart removed from the bottom of his foot.
- Legendary author Ben Hill reports on minor-league teams trying to give their fans healthy options at the concession stand. I’m a loyal customer at the Field of Greens deli wrap stand at Parkview Field. Their wraps are the dinner of champions.
- Ben also has the story of the Tulsa Drillers’ remade mascot.
- Nationals megasuperstud Bryce Harper hurt his ankle yesterday, but says he’s fine. With Stephen Strasburg already out, that would’ve been a lot of signing bonus money on the shelf.
- A beanball battle in Spring Training? Really? And it was a former Nationals pitcher, now with the Cardinals, who was a big part of it. At least Nats SS Ian Desmoond, who is a good dude, turned it into a standup routine: “We were really trying to keep the fans around. Once
Pujols came out of the game and Carpenter came out of the game, we
knew they were going to leave. So we just had to add a little
entertainment for them. It was intentional, but Miggy throws like Miss Iowa. It’s no big deal.”
- Mark McGwire is trying to keep a low profile as the Cardinals’ hitting coach.
- Has anybody else noticed the Phillies have caught all bad breaks since signing Cliff Lee? Utley’s hurt, Domonic Brown is struggling/hurt, they can’t find a right-handed hitter and now outfielders are colliding in Spring Training games. Some teams have everything go right, others have everything go wrong, and sometimes there’s no real reason why.
- Reds LHP Aroldis Chapman is now a part-time model. I can only imagine the verbal beating he’s taking every day in the clubhouse because of it.
- In Marlins camp, a minor-league lifer is getting a shot at the big club, but his at-bats might dry up when professional butt-kicker Mike Stanton is fully healthy.
- The Cubs are going to make some roster decisions soon.
- The Mets already have, and now they have to change the culture.
- Hey, another story about Mariners RHP (and former Midwest Leaguer) Michael Pineda!
- I feel like I’m a pretty balanced guy when it comes to stats vs. traditional scouting methods to evaluate players. One thing that can easily be overlooked/undervalued is a player’s work ethic/personality.
- But on the statistical side, Fangraphs examines the way to make the best batting order.
- Just for fun, Baseball America went back and (in hindsight) did a redraft of the 2005 MLB Draft, one of the best in recent memory
- I’m reading “Death to the BCS.” As you might assume by the title, it’s not fair and balanced. A lot of the evidence is anecdotal instead of numbers-based, but it points out just how illogical the current college football system and refutes every one of the BCS’s arguments. It’s a good, quick read. I recommend it.
Musical guest… The Temptations!