Results tagged ‘ james darnell ’

Interview with James Darnell

Former TinCaps 3B James Darnell was promoted to Triple-A Tucson just in time to go to the Futures Game, then come to Parkview Field. He tells us about his rebound season and his favorite Fort Wayne memories.


Thoughts from the break

After four days of frisbee golfing, watching Karate Kid II (on DVD, not cable), laying near swimming pools, cooking my own meals, laughing at people who asked me if I was going to the All-Star Game, wowing manager Shawn Wooten by running down fly balls during team workouts and general lounging, it’s back to my version of real life.

But hey… If every day was a vacation, at some point it would stop being a vacation, am I right?

In any case, the four-day break was a chance to assess lots of things. Like THE FIRST RANDOM THOUGHTS SESSION IN MONTHS!

Random thoughts:

  • Last year, TinCaps OF Rymer Liriano was a really raw kid trying to hit a million home runs. This year, he’s a less-raw 19-year-old who’s much more under control, trying to hit line drives. He has changed his approach, upped his walk rate, cut his strikeout rate and stolen 31 bases in 50 games. If you watch an at-bat from last year (or even from his first few games with the TinCaps this year) followed by an at-bat from the past month, you’d never believe it’s the same guy. Incredible turnaround. He was one of the most frustrating guys to watch last year because it looked like he had this potential but wasn’t tapping into it. Now he’s the most fun guy to watch on the team. I’m on the bandwagon.
  • Also, 3B Jake Blackwood can H-I-T. With James Darnell killing it at Double-A and Jedd Gyorko running wilder than Hulkamania on the California League, seems like third basemen all over the Padres’ system are due for promotions.
  • LHP Mark Hardy really knows how to pitch. It’s just the team hasn’t scored runs while he’s pitching (2.1 runs/game in support; even less while he’s actually in the game). Last two starts: 13.2 innings, 7 hits, 3 runs (2ER), 2 BB, 15K… And an 0-2 record. They’ve scored exactly one run in those two games combined. I don’t know why, but this makes me angry for him.
  • RHP Zach Cates pitched extraordinarily well in shutting out the Great Lakes Loons on the last day before the All-Star break. I mean, fastball in the mid-90s (topped out at 96 if I remember correctly and if you trust stadium radar guns), good hook. Best I’ve seen him this year. And it kept the Loons out of the playoffs, so there’s that.
  • If you’d given me ten guesses as to who would be the 100th Fort Wayne alum to get to the major leagues, I wouldn’t have guessed Josh Spence. I suppose he hasn’t gotten into a game yet (and therefore isn’t #100 yet), but still.
  • Legendary author Ben Hill visited Parkview Field (as you found out on the podcast). And he filed several expert reports. He did virtually everything, including dancing with the Bad Apple Dancers. Good times were had by all.
  • I’m not at liberty to disclose anything more than this: The Bad Apple Dancers will have an array of special guests joining them for the remainder of the season. Stay tuned.
  • During the team workout on Wednesday night, I decided to shag some fly balls (since most of the pitchers were allowed to leave during batting practice). It had been at least a year since I’d picked up a ball and probably more like three since I’d taken a fly ball. Actual quote from Shawn Wooten: “I’ll be honest… you’re fast!” I just felt like running.
  • Belting out Mumford & Sons songs in the car on the way to work is becoming a daily thing, which may or may not be a good thing for my voice/on-air performance.
  • There’s a black Lab in northeast Ohio who was placed on the 15-day DL with a toe infection today. Had to undergo surgery. Hopefully he’s the Chase Utley of injury rehabs.
  • As of two days ago, former TinCaps video dude Allan Wertheimer is engaged. To be married. Which is neck and neck for “2011′s most shocking ‘yes’ answer to a marriage proposal,” in close competition with my homeboy Dave Hutte. (Honorable mention: South Bend Silver Hawks radio guy Owen Serey). The Wertheimer Effect is about to rain down on an entire family. God help us all. There will be an entire entry dedicated to Wertheimer-Whitmore Wedding Prop Bets soon, I promise.

Musical guest… One last little piece of relaxation before the second half starts… John Butler!

Take care!

DW

Athletes are people too, part 927

Call me a jerk, but once the season gets going, I tend to get into a baseball cocoon and not really notice what’s really going on in the world. You know, other than the earth-shattering story of figurehead monarchs getting married in a country we rebelled against specifically to get AWAY from said monarchy (the only acceptable discussion of that wedding is going in-depth on schemes to crash the reception. That’s it.).

Anyway, yesterday a reporter called and wanted to talk to some of our players (Chris Franklin, Chase Marona, Zach Cates) about the storms down south. I didn’t really know what he was talking about, so I turned to the internets for help, and holy cow. Monster tornadoes, towns leveled, people killed… Terrible stuff. Turns out the players’ families are OK despite some damage to their houses, but you can imagine it would be tough to focus on a dumb game when things are devastated back home.

Random thoughts:

  • This year’s San Antonio Missions, also known as the 2009 TinCaps No-Mercy Reunion Tour, have already had quite the season. They’ve scored 20+ runs in a game twice, and now their home ballpark was the scene of an ugly exchange between fans and the Frisco RoughRiders (Double-A Rangers). As Baseball America points out, Rangers prospect Engel Beltre was in the middle of it and was suspended 15 games, and he’s no stranger to stirring up trouble. The Missions really weren’t involved, but it’s ugly anyhow.
  • Our old homeboy RHP Erik Davis is (still) getting it done in the Nationals’ organization. He was traded this spring for INF Alberto Gonzalez and is now at Double-A Harrisburg with another old homeboy, former Wizards radio guy (and my former boss in Harrisburg) Terry Byrom.
  • In other Harrisburg/baseball news, there’s bad umpiring at every level of this game. I’ve heard a lot of people complaining about a handful of bad umps in the big leagues, especially because MLB umps have a Supreme Court Justice-esque ability to keep their jobs despite their job performance. Get used to it.
  • Fact: The Padres are bad offensively right now. A .289 team OBP is horrendous.
  • Fact: If you think Jed Hoyer’s job should be in jeopardy, you’re nuts. Everything he touched turned to gold last year, the big-league team played over its head, and now they’re coming back to earth. But in the high minors there’s a crop of hitters (led by Anthony Rizzo, who came back in the Adrian Gonzalez trade, and former TinCaps Jaff Decker and James Darnell) who are getting closer to MLB-ready. Plus they have six picks in the first two rounds of the draft this June. Give it time.
  • The FIRST-PLACE(!) Indians are calling up their first-round pick from 2009 for a spot start. Prediction: They won’t end this season as the first-place Indians.
  • How do we bring sabermetric stats to the masses? By focusing on what the stats MEAN, not how they’re calculated. In an age where we can get the internet on our phones, if people want to know, they’ll find out.
  • Browns GM Tom Heckert proved last night he’s a stylin’ and profilin’, jet-flyin’, limosine-ridin’, kiss-stealin’, wheelin’-and-dealin’ son of a gun. Whoo!
  • Good story about the Lynchburg Hillcats’ manager. He’s the guy who got hit in the face by a foul ball at Braves spring training and lost his eye. He never lost his optimism, though.
  • You may remember our discussion of a phenomenon known as The Wertheimer Effect, named for former TinCaps video guy Allan Wertheimer. In the first month he worked for the Minnesota Vikings, Brett Favre’s consecutive starts streak ended, the head coach got canned and the Metrodome roof caved in. Well, it’s rearing its ugly head again… The Vikings took Christian Ponder in the first round of the draft last night. The one and only explanation for such a mistake is The Wertheimer Effect.
  • Between a Skyline Chili location within walking distance of the hotel, Montgomery Inn BBQ pork sandwiches at the ballpark and LaRosa’s/Donato’s Pizza being available in Dayton, I may not fit on the bus to come back to Fort Wayne at the end of this trip.

Musical guest… The Strokes!

Take care!

DW

Spring Training story time

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.

Random thoughts:

  • 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!

Take care!

DW

James Darnell – so hot right now

Former TinCaps 3B James Darnell was kind of the man yesterday. You may remember him from such classics as the first home run ever hit at Parkview Field (which I completely botched on the radio – it was our first game at the new park so it was a new angle, plus it was such a low liner that I thought it was going to end up taking the left fielder’s glove off… next thing I knew, it was flying onto the Home Run Porch. Literally thousands dozens of listeners around the world thought to themselves, “This new radio guy is garbage!” Lesson learned, I guess).

Anyway, James (who is a VERY nice guy) was featured in a Padres.com article yesterday afternoon. Key points: He struggled with a cyst-like growth on his hand last year (he eventually had it removed, then “rehabbed” with the TinCaps for a few games), and he will probably be the starting third baseman at Triple-A Tucson to open the year. You know, I think I read something about Tucson playing a series at Parkview Field this summer. Maybe you’ll want to come out and see good ol’ JD again. Right? Right.

Also yesterday, Darnell singled in his only at-bat in the Padres’ Spring Training game. He’s 4-for-8 for the spring.

So, you know… James Darnell: so hot right now. And chances are good that he’ll be back in Fort Wayne this summer for the Triple-A series. Maybe he’ll hit another laser-beam home run and maybe I won’t screw it up this time.

Random thoughts:

  • Another Fort Wayne alum, INF/OF Mike Baxter, is having a nice spring so far. He had a huge year last year with Triple-A Portland. Padre fans should be clamoring for his quick arrival in San Diego, if only for the Anchorman/Baxter/San Diego references.
  • MLB.com’s Jonathan (don’t call me Joe) Mayo has his Top 10 Padres prospects. Six Fort Wayne alums in the top ten. Possible future TinCaps OF Donovan Tate is No. 10. Lots of other TinCaps-related stuff in there, too.
  • If Padres LHP Randy Flores is healthy, he’d be a nice addition to the bullpen.
  • Do you realize Padres RHP Mike Adams has a career ERA of 2.31? And the peripheral stats show it’s not smoke and mirrors? And that despite being 32 years old he still has THREE arbitration years left including this one? AND that the Indians claimed him off waivers, sent him to Triple-A, then turned around and traded him to the Padres less than two months later for some guy named Brian Sikorski, who they released within a year? AND that the tone of my voice has gone up an octave, Tim Kurkjian-style, since I started this rant?
  • Legendary author Ben Hill asks the question, “What’s the deal with baseball in Tucson?
  • Former Padres GM Kevin Towers cleaned house in Arizona this winter after seeing the clubhouse atmosphere a little too loose.
  • Indians 3B prospect Lonnie Chisenhall is having a good spring.
  • At least one team has learned not to sign aging relievers to long-term contracts.
  • The Royals are getting sued because a guy got hit in the eye by a flying hot dog during one of their promotions. I should probably be more of an expert on this, but wouldn’t this be covered by the disclaimer about flying objects from the field on the back of every ticket?
  • Giants RHP Jeff Suppan used to work for a newspaper company. He lasted three days, but still.
  • Fort Wayne alum RHP Dirk Hayhurst writes books and blogs… Marlins RHP Burke Badenhop is writing a screenplay for a comedy.
  • Yes, I will be reading this book after reading the excerpt.
  • I can’t get enough of this video. Because I’m still bitter and because LeBron is an out-of-touch baby. I know it’s irrelevant as long as they make the playoffs, but did you know the Heat would have to win every game for the rest of the season just to equal the Cavaliers’ win total from last year?
  • Book update: Just finished Ghost Wars, which is about the CIA’s history in Afghanistan from the Cold War through 2001. It’s almost 600 pages long and has an enormous cast of characters, but I thought it was outstanding. Then I found out the author did over 200 interviews to track down info and was also serving as the managing editor of The Washington Post while writing the book. Incredible stuff. It’s not the type of book you sit down and read 100 pages of at a time, but if you want to learn about why things are the way they are in Afghanistan (and some other countries in the region, too), this is a good start.
  • In a scene sure to be included in “The Wedding Singer II: The Search for More Money,” Cyndi Lauper cheered up delayed travelers in Argentina by singing “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” over the airport sound system. Everything about this story sounds made up.
  • This weekend I’m finally going to a “Learn to Curl” session hosted by the Fort Wayne Curling Club. This is probably my last chance at Olympic glory, so I’m a little nervous.
  • Finally, while watching NFL Network last night, I noticed analyst Charlie Casserly looks suspiciously similar to The Muppet Newsman. Am I right or am I right?

casserl<br />
y-muppet.jpg” src=”http://mlblogstincaps.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/casserly-muppet-thumb-400×210-27258811.jpg” class=”mt-image-none” width=”400″ height=”210″ /></a></span><br /><i>(left-to-right: Newsman, Casserly)</i></p>
<p>Musical guest… The Beach Boys!</p>
<span class='embed-youtube' style='text-align:center; display: block;'><iframe class='youtube-player' type='text/html' width='555' height='343' src='http://www.youtube.com/embed/09dQmeB_NgU?version=3&rel=0&fs=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent' frameborder='0'></iframe></span>
<p>Take care!</p>
<p>DW</p>
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  • Posted on March 9, 2011 at 10:22 am
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