Results tagged ‘ mat latos ’

Another brain dump: 5/26

It’s been a while, yet I don’t really have any dumb off-field observations (that I care to share) that I can stretch over four paragraphs, so here’s what I’ve been seeing on the field.

  • Don’t look now, but former TinCaps RHP Mat Latos might be turning it around. Eight strong innings against the Cardinals last time out.
  • Former TinCaps OF Blake Tekotte made his MLB debut last night with a pinch-hit at-bat. Aside from Latos (who really wasn’t in town that long in ’09), Tekotte is the first player from that championship team to get to the big leagues.
  • San Antonio RHP Casey Kelly: He’s good.
  • Why is it that now the team isn’t winning, people want to move the fences in and install artificial turf at Petco Park? That park can be a huge advantage and the Padres are in the process of molding their roster to fully exploit it.
  • It’s been a good road trip… The TinCaps started the year going 3-13 away from Parkview Field. They’re 6-3 on this trip.
  • They’re allowing a little over 3 runs per game (which is good), but they’re scoring almost 5 runs per game, including outbursts of 9, 8 and 9. That’s a HUGE contrast from the offensive struggles earlier this year.
  • How inept have they been with Adys Portillo on the mound? The TinCaps have scored less than 2 runs per game in the games started by Portillo. While Portillo is actually IN the game, they’ve scored a TOTAL of five runs in the seven games, and never more than ONE run in any game while he’s in there. That’s brutal.
  • Rymer Liriano has especially looked good with his approach this trip. Last year when he struggled here, he lunged out at the pitcher, “stepped in the bucket” striding toward third base, rarely took a walk. This year he’s walking more, looking fooled less. Three at-bats that have really impressed me: at Lake County, runner at second, less than two outs. Got an inside fastball, but kept his hands in and hit a grounder to the second baseman to advance the runner. I about jumped out of my chair. And yes, I’m a small-ball nerd. Another game at West Michigan: Doubled to the gap in left-center one at-bat, tripled to the gap in right-center in the same game. He’s been more patient and he’s using the middle of the field. Impressive stuff, and remember he’s still only 19 years old.
  • Luis Domoromo has never looked overmatched here despite being 19 years old. But lately, he’s been put into the three-hole and he’s been outstanding: six games, .423 OBP, 2 homers, 8 RBIs.
  • The arrival of Rico Noel has put the lineup back in more of a natural flow, despite Noel’s numbers: Noel has the speed of a true leadoff hitter, Liriano has been in the two-hole, Domoromo has taken off in the third spot, Jake Blackwood stays in the cleanup spot and everybody falls in line after that. Where you hit in the order tends to affect the quality of pitches you see, and this lineup seems to suit the hitters better.
  • Chris Franklin, who was easily the leader in the team’s “Mustache May” competition, shaved his mustache. He claimed the sweat dripping off the ‘stache was distracting, and people kept staring at him when he walked into restaurants and other going-out type places. I’ve never been more disappointed in a player than I was when he walked onto the bus sans-mustache. It was like he stole his mustache from Principal Rooney from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” Actually, maybe that’s why he shaved it. Never mind…
  • Yesterday we played a morning game in Lansing. The amount and quality of the press-box spread was off the charts. Scrambled eggs, french freedom toast, biscuits and gravy, sausage, ham… it was like I’d found the source of all breakfast food in the entire universe. But I’d still put my breakfast food up against theirs.
  • After the game on Sunday, a few of us staff types went to dinner in Grand Rapids. We weren’t going to stay long until we found out a WWF (I refuse to call it WWE) event was coming on TV that night. The peoplewatching would make it worth our while. People were booing/cheering at the TVs, chanting, it was nuts. But the wrestlers don’t have half the charisma they did when it was Hulk Hogan/Jake the Snake/Ric Flair, etc. These new wrestlers just look like they spend an uncomfortable amount of time lifting weights and tanning. If I wanted to see that, I’d just go to any run-of-the-mill neighborhood dance club and watch the Jersey Shore wannabes for two hours.
  • With that in mind, here’s a long-overdue goodbye from Bill Simmons to “The Macho Man” Randy Savage. We all knew wrestling was cheesy and fake and larger than life, but that’s why we loved it. It’s just not the same anymore. And the Macho Man was a minor-league baseball player, so there’s that.
  • TinCaps manager Shawn Wooten told us about the time he went to Wrestlemania II. My respect level for him was already high, but now it’s through the roof. There are other non-baseball things we’ll be discussing with him sooner than later, too.
  • Dear Seattle: Thanks. Signed, Cleveland.
  • Between Ray Small and Club Trillion expanding on the potential violations at Ohio State, it’s pretty clear the Buckeyes are going down hard.
  • I know you’re wondering how my time at home with the dogs went. Well, the black lab had a broken toenail and his paw was swelling up, but he’ll be fine. Both dogs broke the no-sitting-on-the-couch rule while I was home. I’m like the fun grandparent who gets to spoil the kids every time I come to town. And they know it. Also, I went to dinner with the family at Covered Bridge Pizza which has the most eatable pizza in the universe. I ate way more than I should have and I still wanted more. I don’t know what they put in there, but if everyone used it we’d be an even more obese nation than we already are.
  • Last year before he resigned in embarrassment, strength coach Rick SantaBarbara and I went to Gym Bumz, the workout facility here in Lansing and became homeboys with the gym owner. I may or may not own not one, but two Gym Bumz shirts. Jealous?

Quick update

Just wanted to point you to an excellent human-interest/baseball story about TinCaps RHP Keyvius Sampson. Some of his adoptive family came up from Florida to watch him pitch the other night. It certainly wasn’t the only well-done TinCaps story we’ve seen so far, but it’s the one I have open in my browser right now.

Also, Zach Cates: He’s good. Hard fastball, nasty curve and a good change. When he was locating, he was pretty unhittable against South Bend last night. The TinCaps got some help from South Bend errors last night, but they forced the tempo a bit and that may have led to the mistakes.

Random thoughts:

  • Former TinCaps RHP Mat Latos is expected to return to the rotation on Monday.
  • A Padres coach is recovering after getting smoked in the mouth by a ball and RHP Casey Kelly made his organizational debut.
  • There’s going to be a movie about Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey – Robert Redford will play Rickey.
  • From Buster Olney about Manny Ramirez: “Legacy? Hall of Fame? Teammates? Does anyone really think, after all we’ve seen in the past decade, that Ramirez cares about any of that? He won. He’s like the guy who robbed a bank of millions and was sentenced to 10 hours of community service.” Yep, but he was some kind of hitter.
  • The Phillies’ rotation has an ERA above 6. Everybody freak out!

Musical guest… Elvis Costello!

Take care!

DW

It’s the final countdown

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.

Random thoughts:

  • 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!

Take care!

DW

Stop me if you’ve heard this before…

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.

Random thoughts:

  • 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!

Take care!

DW

Another TinCap traded

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.

Random thoughts:

  • 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!

Take care!

DW

TinCaps: The College Years

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.

Random thoughts:

  • 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!

Take care!

DW

One story, two headlines

Today we’re turning back the clock and doing what I was doing five years ago in my Case Studies in the Media class. You know, aside from daydreaming about the riches and fame of broadcasting professional baseball games, planning my next prank on Dave Hutte and checking out the ladies.

Yes, I’m comparing and contrasting two stories about the same event.

Yesterday, the Padres didn’t have a major-league spring training game, but Mat Latos pitched in a minor-league game just to stay on his throwing schedule.

His line (if you value such things): 3.2 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 6 K, 76 pitches

Padres.com headline: Latos beginning to turn corner with command

San Diego Union-Tribune headline: Latos rocked in minor league game

Quotes: “I got my work in. I want to get out of here and go fishing. You guys don’t have anything better to do?”

Thoughts:

  1. The people who wrote the articles may or may not have been the ones who wrote the headlines. But you’d think the stories were about two different games if you just looked at the headlines.
  2. Latos doesn’t sound like a guy who is freaking out about a performance on a back field in Peoria on March 16.
  3. Here’s the original thought I can add to this: Anytime I talk to one of the Padres’ roving instructors, their whole focus is on the process. Learning the mechanics, learning the mental side of the game, doing the things that make a player consistently successful over the long haul. Statistics (and winning) are completely secondary. Get the process right and the results will come. That’s in the minors, where it’s all about development. I think the Spring Training mindset is similar: Get your mechanics right, get in shape and be ready to go by Opening Day. The difference between the major leagues and the minors is, once the regular season starts in the big leagues, winning is the most important thing. In the minors, the regular season is still about development first. Just about the only time winning comes anywhere close to first in the minors is in the playoffs, and health (pitch limits, etc.) is still paramount.

Random thoughts:

  • As promised, Parkview Field is green(er) for St. Patrick’s Day. A hearty handshake goes to the first person who can tell me what St. Patrick is the patron saint of (no googling allowed). Hint: Green beer is not the correct answer.
  • The Triple-A Tucson Padres unveiled their uniforms, and they could be a sneak peek into what San Diego wears in the not-too-distant future. It’s definitely what you’ll be able to see in Fort Wayne in July.
  • The TinCaps caught legendary author Ben Hill’s attention with the new dress code/flair requirements.
  • I have it on good authority that Ben now signs his e-mails as “Legendary author Ben Hill.”
  • Here’s another Padres’ Top 20 prospects list. I don’t know about you, but I’m done looking at lists… Let’s start the games already.
  • In this week’s minor-league transactions, former Fort Wayne RHP Matt Bush was taken off the Rays’ 40-man roster and re-signed to a minor-league deal. Also, RHP Aaron Everett retired. I thought he might’ve been headed to Fort Wayne after a solid year with Eugene in 2010, but I guess that’s over.
  • Move over, Eater X. Tim Lincecum is here and he’s ready to crush a family-sized meal at In-N-Out Burger.
  • Ken Griffey, Jr., explains why he retired when he did.
  • Giants prospect Brandon Belt is making a strong case to open the year in the big leagues.
  • Yankees RHP Ivan Nova has a new slider and it looked good yesterday. He could be a big boost to that rotation.
  • An Angels pitcher hurt his toe playing with his kids. Well, they’ll just have to put a “no-playing-with-your-kids” clause into every contract now.
  • This kid is living nine-year-old me’s dream: A northeast Ohio kid playing in the Indians’ organization.
  • The Brewers’ new manager wants to know why all of his key players decided to get hurt this spring. Except Rickie Weeks… maybe he’ll wait until the regular season.
  • I don’t know which part of this is weirder: Playing Van Halen’s “Eruption” on violin, that the violin is shaped like a baseball bat, or that it seems like it was played in the middle of a busy elementary school cafeteria (complete with kids hacking like chain smokers).
  • The Braves’ minor-league manager who got smoked by a foul ball had his eye removed. I talked to someone “in the know” about this yesterday and a lot of people around the Braves are just glad he’s alive. Apparently he still wants to manage this year, which would be an incredible recovery.
  • Go Buckeyes. And Wofford. The next two days are two of the best sports days of the year.

Musical guest… Luther Vandross!

Take care!

DW

The best Colt in Indiana

OK, technically Colt Hynes isn’t in Indiana anymore, but he used to be. And he’s the subject of today’s “you just never know” story.

The year was 2009. TinCaps president Mike Nutter handed me a piece of paper with the handwritten last names of the team’s Opening Day roster, just received from the braintrust in Arizona. He said it looked good and the biggest question was the bullpen. “They like the closer and the setup guy, but they’re not sure about the rest… Colt Hynes is going to be the situational lefty.”

You know, the Colt Hynes who would turn 24 years old that June and was still kicking around A-ball. The one who put up a 4.60 ERA the previous year (with decent peripherals). The 31st-round pick in the 2007 draft. I don’t know if Mike rolled his eyes, but chances are I did.

Hynes came in and made 13 appearances for the TinCaps in 2009. He only allowed runs in two games. Great for Fort Wayne, but let’s see him do it at a higher level, right? How do 49 appearances with a 2.90 ERA and no homers allowed at Lake Elsinore strike you? That’s pretty good, right? Well, there wasn’t a job for Colt at Double-A last year so he went back to Lake Elsinore to start the season. He did pretty much the same thing for half a season, except he cut his walks by more than half. Then he went to Double-A in mid-July and continued being a professional butt kicker. You know, if you’re into 1.19 ERAs.

Now, he’s been listed as a guy who “has impressed in camp” for the Padres. Maybe he’ll get to the big leagues this year and keep getting people out, maybe he won’t. But either way, for haters like me who doubt Colt Hynes and players like him, let’s all say it together: You just never know.

Random thoughts:

  • Lots of former TinCaps mentioned as the San Diego U-T discusses an improved Padres’ minor-league system. More importantly for speculators like us, it has a rundown of which players could go where to open the year. That’s a big-money outfield he’s listed for the TinCaps. And Portillo/Sampson in the starting rotation (plus Cates, if he’s as good as advertised) would be fun to watch.
  • Former TinCaps RHP Mat Latos got stronger as he went on Friday against the Giants. I don’t know what happened, but for some reason it was blacked out on my TV. Apparently Fort Wayne was mysteriously transported to either San Diego or San Francisco’s TV territory for a three-hour period. Also, lots of guys got sent to minor-league camp. Which is expected, since minor-league camp just got underway.
  • The Padres will face Jake Peavy today in a Spring Training game.
  • Former Fort Wayne hitting coach Riccardo Ingram, who is still working in the Twins’ system, is fighting a brain tumor.
  • LHP Clayton Richard says his shoulder thing is none of your business. He didn’t really say that, but that’s what he meant. Which is fine. Also, solid quote about his pace: “I like to err on the side of quick.”
  • David Newhan is in Padres camp after a scary off-season surfing accident.
  • Padres owner Jeff Moorad has completely sold his share of the D-Backs.
  • Former Fort Wayne INF David Freese is getting a shot to be the Cardinals’ starter at third this spring.
  • Lots of MLB parks are getting upgrades this season.
  • Several prospects could make an impact in the big leagues this year, says Jerry Crasnick. Brandon Belt is not on that list, but I assume they just ran out of room.
  • Yankees RHP A.J. Burnett hasn’t walked anybody in nine innings this spring. They really need him to be good this year.
  • Grady Sizemore is running, but says his knee is still a little stiff. Meanwhile, an injury could open the door for 3B Lonnie Chisenhall.
  • Nationals RHP Jordan Zimmermann is good and Bryce Harper got sent to minor-league camp. Supposedly he could make his big-league debut this year. Prediction: He gets to Double-A, but the only way he gets to Washington in 2011 is if it’s written into his contract, which is entirely possible.
  • Listen to Peter Gammons. I remember last year when he was raving about Marlins OF Mike Stanton. And he was right.
  • There’s a new MLB historian and he says baseball’s origins are way more complicated than Abner Doubleday and Alexander Cartwright. Which isn’t a huge surprise; history generally isn’t as cut-and-dried as we’d hope.
  • The CEO of the Rangers stepping down was the definition of awkwardness.
  • NBA forward Kevin Love was a good baseball player as a kid.
  • Stay hot, Ohio State… Kirk Herbstreit is moving out of Columbus because idiot fans won’t leave him alone. I can only imagine it’s partially because of what he said about Terrelle Pryor, which I thought was completely on the money.
  • I played baseball and started broadcasting at an NCAA school, so I know there are TONS of good things happening in college sports. But apparently Sunday was “here’s how ridiculous the NCAA is” day. I caught an ESPN report which said the guy who ran the NCAA for 30+ years wrote a book railing against it. Then I watched “The Fab Fi
    ve
    ” about Michigan basketball, which talked about how much money the school made off the players, but then the school got hit with NCAA sanctions including vacating wins because the players received money from a booster. Then I watched “The Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV,” which mentioned that (on two occasions) UNLV basketball had NCAA sanctions delayed by a year, basically because the team was good. Also, Jerry Tarkanian got a $2+ million settlement from the NCAA after he sued them for harassment. Uh, what?
  • I know you’re wondering about my first try at curling. It was
    fantastic. And a tough game to play – the sheet of ice is way longer
    than you think. It’s kind of a mixture of bowling, shuffleboard and
    cornhole with a twist of Canadian tuxedos. And you’d better be used to doing lunges before you start playing, or you’ll be sore the next day. Also, Abby Naas did fall over on the ice (as expected), but it was from a lunging position.

Musical guest… The Jackson 5!

Take care!

DW

One last shot

Remember the stockholders meeting in “Mr. Deeds” when Deeds tells everyone they should try to be what they wanted to be when they were six years old instead of doing what made them the most money? Well, when I was six years old I wanted to be a famous athlete. By the time I was 15, I realized not everyone stopped growing when they were 15, and now here I am. Like Kenny Powers before he started taking steroids: washed up, damaged goods with a fastball in the 70s and no hitting abilities. Too short for basketball, too non-roided-up for football or pro wrestling. I need something that isn’t dependent on being a physical freak with moderate athletic ability. I need something anyone can succeed at if they work at it long enough. I’ve decided my final hope at athletic greatness may just be curling.

So tomorrow, I’m starting my journey toward Olympic glory with a Learn To Curl session with the Fort Wayne Curling Club. I figure if the U.S. Olympic curling team had a bartender, construction worker, substitute teacher and parole officer (which wouldn’t be bad identities for the 2010 version of The Village People) last Olympics, a radio guy has as good a chance as anyone. So I’ll see you suckers in Georgia in 2014. The country of Georgia, not the state. I’ll be the one with the gold medal.

Also, Abby Naas is going to try curling as well. Prediction: She falls down on the ice like an infant deer and fractures a wrist. Or in the words of Clubber Lang… Prediction? You know the rest.

Also, “Mr. Deeds” got a 24 on Metacritic? And “Taken” got a 50? Really? Sure it’s cheesy, but “Mr. Deeds” is funny and incredibly rewatchable. I suppose “Taken” is too, but for entirely different reasons.

Random thoughts:

  • Fort Wayne alum OF Cedric Hunter hit a three-run homer on his birthday as the Padres beat the Dodgers. Watching the tape-delayed broadcast on MLB Network, I am happy to report that Hunter’s home run ball was caught on one bounce by a shirtless guy wearing jorts, who promptly fell down on the grass berm. In former TinCaps box score trolling, Simon Castro and Rob Musgrave pitched a scoreless inning each and Jeudy Valdez went 1-for-2 with a stolen base.
  • Former TinCaps RHP Mat Latos faces the Giants tonight.
  • Former Fort Wayne LHP Cory Luebke looks like he’s going to Triple-A to open the season according to this.
  • Highlights from yesterday’s Union-Tribune Padres chat: Latos’ reaction after tough spring performances is troubling, San Diego may be interested in Rangers C Taylor Teagarden as a backup now that Gregg Zaun retired, RHP Heath Bell had a motorized cooler that once broke down between the dugout and the bullpen at Petco Park, players on the 40-man roster must stay in big-league camp through Sunday (March 13), at least four MLB players have to be available to play in each Spring Training game and someone wanted to know the best place to “spot” Padres off the field. Whoever asked that question is what we call a cleat chaser. And there are male and female cleat chasers. And they’re more common in the minors than I ever imagined before I got into baseball.
  • This is a story about Padres OF Chris Denorfia, but he talks about how long it took him to fully recover from Tommy John surgery, which is of interest to former Fort Wayne INF/OF Kyle Blanks.
  • Former Fort Wayne RHP Jake Peavy feels better a day after his first start of Spring Training.
  • Not a whole lot interesting from the minor-league transactions report, but here it is anyway.
  • Mets LHP Johan Santana doesn’t sound like he’s going to be ready to pitch anytime soon.
  • The Rangers’ new owner might become the Rangers’ former owner soon. Which is a bummer, because he had a lot of success as the owner of the Double-A Altoona Curve.
  • In this notebook, the Phillies could be a fit for Rangers INF Michael Young and Kendry Morales now spells his first name Kendrys, which is his given name. Uh, what?
  • Twins OF Ben Revere, a former MWLer, is proving the haters wrong.
  • Question: Why would Tommy Hilfiger decide to show off what sports uniforms would look like if they designed them? Answer: Because ESPN asked them to. And they look horrible.
  • As much as I want to defend Ohio State football, they’re in trouble. You can’t sign something saying you knew nothing, then come out months later saying you knew something, which is what I’ve heard happened. But there’s pressure on these guys to make big money for the school, and coming out with information like this mid-season might mean losing, which means less money. What have we learned here? Tell the truth. Money ruins everything. Setting high moral standards for yourself makes everyone fall all over themselves to hammer you when you when you make a mistake. Because it’s better to just not even try doing something difficult because then you can’t fail, right?
  • This looks like one of the most fun vacation ideas of all time.

Musical guest… Pearl Jam!

Have a great weeken
d!

DW

Something to talk about

It’s OK if you’re skeptical of this story, because I would be too. But I promise it’s entirely true.

Saturday
night while eating dinner at a downtown restaurant, I overheard a
conversation from the next table… Nondescript local guy said, “Bang
for your buck, you won’t get a better deal in town than the TinCaps.” He
went on to tell his whole table about watching a game from a concourse suite and how much fun it was.

So
apparently our CIA-style plan of placing undercover marketing staffers
in local restaurants to pass along not-so-subliminal word-of-mouth
publicity is working. Next time you go out with “a group of friends” and the new guy is singing praises about Parkview Field, you’ll know what’s up.

I’m kidding, of course… Or am I?

Random thoughts:

  • Former TinCaps happenings from yesterday’s Padre game: RHP Mat Latos was wild again (but feels OK), LHP Colt Hynes pitched 1.1 scoreless frames in relief, RHP Matt Lollis gave up a couple of runs in his only inning. Also, RHP Heath Bell made his Spring Training debut and felt good.
  • Backup catcher candidate Gregg Zaun is hanging ‘em up.
  • Former Fort Wayne 3B Chase Headley is working to get better. Best quote in the article comes when he’s asked about his critics: “I’m not concerned with outside opinions.” This is a rampant thing in sports coverage and it’s completely overblown: the “expectations” card. Any
    competitor worth a darn has higher expectations for himself than anyone, so anyone else’s expectations are more or less irrelevant. If I ever write that story or ask an expectations-related question
    during an interview, you have my permission to furiously send an e-mail
    that says, “Dude, you’re not living up to my expectations!”
  • Another story about Cameron Maybin (who is coming back from concussion symptoms after running into a pole during batting practice) and how the Padres’ leadoff hitters struggled last year. I can’t get over the .306 OBP… that’s bad.
  • The Padres’ bullpen coach is fighting hard against pancreatic cancer.
  • With the Padres’ potential new Triple-A ballpark in suburban San Diego in limbo, the ownership group is looking at its options, including selling.
  • Former Fort Wayne RHP Jake Peavy’s recovery from his freak injury is profiled.
  • Former Fort Wayne RHP Dirk Hayhurst is now with the Rays and had to assure them his writing career is harmless.
  • Rockies OF (and Midwest League alum) Carlos Gonzalez hit the bejeesus out of a ball on Sunday. The article doesn’t say it directly, but it was a double.
  • Another MWL alum, Dodgers INF Dee Gordon, won Baseball America‘s Winter Player of the Year award.
  • The players’ union met with the World Umpires’ Union to hash some things out.
  • Fighting amongst teammates isn’t as rare as we might think, and a lot of times the team ends up winning.
  • Some prospects might be ready to contribute in the big leagues this year, including Indians 3B Lonnie Chisenhall and LHP Drew Pomeranz. Nationals OF Bryce Harper probably isn’t ready yet, but he made a nice play in the field.
  • The Phillies have some injury issues with 2B Chase Utley and OF prospect Domonic Brown, who was struggling mechanically at the plate.
  • Royals SS Alcides Escobar, a big piece of the Zack Greinke trade, can’t catch a break.
  • I grew up listening to Cavaliers radio guy Joe Tait… he’s a character. I’m biased, but I think Ohio teams have some of the best radio people in the business with Tait, Tom Hamilton of the Indians, Marty Brennaman with the Reds (this episode notwithstanding) and Paul Keels with Ohio State.
  • Another great one, Cubs radio guy Pat Hughes is going to be part of writing a book about Ron Santo.
  • I don’t know if it makes the shows any better, but three pretty good bands touring via old-school railroad cars sounds like fun.
  • This is what happens when baseball dorks get ahold of Photoshop.
  • This is what happens when one of the best sports writers around wants to make a point.
  • This is what happens when you invite the TinCaps to a throwback charity event and encourage costumes: old-school rappers. Like Kris Kross.

Musical guest… Old Crow Medicine Show!

Take care!

DW

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