Archive for May 29th, 2008

Baseball and Pancakes – What More Could a Fan Want?

Any time I read about some intrepid soul venturing out to see as many baseball games as possible, I get a little bit jealous. But when I read about an RV that will be hitting 60+ minor-league ballparks across the United States, and also chowing on pancakes, I just have to write about it.

It seems that the International House of Pancakes will be celebrating a 50th anniversary soon. To share the wealth, they’ve loaded up that beautiful machine you see above, and they’ll be driving cross-country bringing breakfast joy to the bus leagues. They’ll be driving over 8,000 miles before it’s all said and done, and in this time of spiraling gas prices, that’s true dedication.

The Pancake Express (my choice of name) will hand out T-shirts, sponsor games, and enter fans in a sweepstakes as part of the celebration of their half-century of “breakfast any time”. As a guy who has a five-year-old with a pancake jones, I’m most excited about the 2-for-1 coupons they’ll be offering, as well as the nine new pancake flavors. In addition, the “Most Valuable Pancake” mascot will be along for the ride, so I’m really, really hoping they make it to Montgomery, AL so the Pancake can meet the Biscuit.

We do know the first few stops of the tour. Jacksonville Suns (Dodgers) fans will get the first taste:

May 31/June 1 – Mobile BayBears @ Jacksonville Suns (7:05/3:05pm). The Suns are giving away emergency lamps on Saturday and having wooden bat day for the first 1,500 kids through the gates on Sunday.

June 2 – Rome Braves @ Charleston RiverDogs 7:05pm.

June 5/6 – Pawtucket Red Sox @ Charlotte Knights (both 7:15 starts). Might Justin Masterson pitch? Sweeter than syrup!

June 7/8 – Charlotte Knights @ Durham Bulls (7:05/5:05). The Knights are going to be eating a LOT of pancakes, if I’m any judge.

June 12-14 – Charlotte Knights @ Norfolk Tides (Thursday and Friday 7:15 starts) and Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees (Saturday 7:15). See what I mean about the Knights? It’s like they’re following the Pancake Express on purpose.

June 16/17 – Charlotte Knights @ Richmond Braves (7pm on Monday, double-header starting at 1pm on Tuesday). Getting mighty greedy, Knights. That’s all I can say.

Starting Monday, IHOP will be running a sweepstakes on their website, and putting up photos and tracking the progress of the Pancake Express. Check back to see when they’ll be in your neighborhood.

Oh, and please pass the syrup?

The Z-Meter: 5/29/2008 – Chasing Headley

The Z-meter tracks the story arcs of 25 top prospects (or players we just like) on their way to the bigs. It is named after current Washington Nationals star Ryan Zimmerman, who made the transition from anchoring the University of Virginia to starring in MLB in one year.


Evan Longoria, 3B, Durham (AAA) to Tampa Bay Rays (MLB)
Luke Hochevar, RHP, Omaha (AAA) to Kansas City Royals (MLB)

Max Scherzer, RHP, Tucson (AAA) to Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB)

Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Jacksonville (AA) to Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB)
Jay Bruce, OF, Louisville (AAA) to Cincinnati Reds (MLB)

Justin Masterson, RHP, Portland (AA) to Pawtucket (AAA)

Antonio Bastardo, LHP, Clearwater (A) to Reading (AA)

Travis Snider, OF, Dunedin (A-Advanced) to New Hampshire (AA)

Josh Vitters, 3B, Boise (Short A) to Peoria (A)

Oh glorious day, caloo, callay! (Sorry, I have a five-year-old, must be too much Dr. Seuss) Both Jay Bruce and Clayton Kershaw cashed in their golden tickets this week, so we’re sending up the Z-meter a couple days early in celebration. Time to find someone new to fixate on – I plan to obsess over Ian Stewart now, personally.

I’m adding a couple of statistical marvels from the minor-league ranks to take the place of our two stalwarts who have gone on to their reward. Nelson Cruz has a ridiculous .705 slugging average for Oklahoma Redhawks (Rangers), and Jhoulys Chacin is mowing down batters for the Asheville Tourists (Rockies), with eight wins and just one loss (check out his ridiculous strikeout numbers below). Welcome, fellas.

UPDATE: Reader Will, a minor-league road tripper extraordinaire, has been lobbying for the inclusion of Chase Headley, and he’s right, the Beav needs to be here. Added.

Let’s see who else is hot this week:

The top level. These prospects are in AAA in the prime of their youth, and ready for the call that will change their lives.

Chase Headley, LF – Portland Beavers (San Diego): .301 – 38R – 9HR – 27RBI – 0SB – 19BB – .524 SLG – .888 OPS

Homer Bailey, RHP – Louisville Bats (Reds): 11GS – 4W – 4L – 4.05 ERA – 29BB – 54K

Andrew McCutchen, CF – Indianapolis Indians (Pirates): .304 – 35R – 7HR – 24RBI – 17SB – .480 SLG – .869 OPS

Carlos Gonzalez, RF – Sacramento River Cats (Athletics): .292 – 20R – 4HR – 24RBI – 1SB – .435 SLG – .778 OPS

Ian Stewart, 3B (Reserve List) – Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Rockies): .281 – 43R – 12HR – 43RBI – 6SB – .614 SLG – .988 OPS

Joe Koshansky, 1B – Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Rockies): .298 – 33R – 10HR – 44RBI – 0SB – .569 SLG – .948 OPS

Colby Rasmus, LF – Memphis Redbirds (Cardinals): .197 – 31R – 7HR – 19RBI – 6SB – .332 SLG – .629 OPS

Nelson Cruz, RF – Oklahoma Redhawks (Rangers): .338 – 42R – 14HR – 40RBI – 14SB – .688 SLG – 1.142 OPS

These guys also have the potential to skip straight to the majors, but are more likely to get promoted to the top of this meter first.

Justin Masterson, RHP – Portland Sea Dogs (Red Sox): 8GS – 1W – 3L – 4.23 ERA – 16BB – 37K

Fernando Martinez, CF (injured) – Binghamton Mets (Mets): .280 – 19R – 3HR – 16RBI – 3SB – .408 SLG – .721 OPS

Jacob McGee, LHP – Montgomery Biscuits (Rays): 10GS – 5W – 2L – 3.59 ERA – 23BB – 51K

Cameron Maybin, CF – Carolina Mudcats (Marlins): .247 – 34R – 7HR – 17RBI – 13SB – .416 SLG – .775 OPS

Wade Davis, RHP – Montgomery Biscuits (Rays): 11GS – 5W – 3L – 3.17 ERA – 25BB – 48K

Elvis Andrus, SS – Frisco RoughRiders (Rangers): .268 – 31R – 0HR – 19RBI – 12BB – 19SB – .316 SLG – .638 OPS

Jeff Samardzija, P – Tennessee Smokies (Cubs): 11GS – 3W – 5L – 5.76 ERA – 33BB – 32K

Luke Montz, C – Harrisburg Senators (Nationals): .347 – 19R – 9HR – 37RBI – 16BB – 0SB – .636 SLG – 1.055 OPS

Travis Snider, RF – New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Blue Jays): .248 – 21R – 8HR – 29RBI – 0SB – .473 SLG – .830 OPS

Antonio Bastardo, LHP – Reading Phillies (Phillies): 6GS – 2W – 2L – 4.09 ERA – 19BB – 26K

Matt LaPorta, CF – Huntsville Stars (Brewers): .285 – 39R – 13HR – 46RBI – 1SB – .575 SLG – .967 OPS

Mat Gamel, 3B – Huntsville Stars (Brewers): .383 – 49R – 11HR – 44RBI – 3SB – .659 SLG – 1.102 OPS

These guys have vast potential but need to work out some kinks in A-ball before they can advance.

Ian Gac, 1B – Clinton LumberKings (Rangers): .329 – 36R – 14HR – 40RBI – 29BB – 1SB – .677 SLG – 1.131 OPS

Lars Anderson, 1B (injured) – Lancaster JetHawks (Red Sox): .277 – 28R – 7HR – 23RBI – 0SB – .484 SLG – .867 OPS

Rick Porcello, RHP – Lakeland Flying Tigers (Detroit): 11GS – 3W – 5L – 2.48 ERA – 14BB – 35K

Matt Wieters, C – Frederick Keys (Orioles): .346 – 35R – 12HR – 32RBI – 25BB – 1SB – .615 SLG – 1.051 OPS

Mike Moustakas, SS – Burlington Bees (Royals): .254 – 21R – 7HR – 24RBI – 3SB – .429 SLG – .732 OPS

Jhoulys Chacin, RHP – Asheville Tourists (Rockies): 11 GS – 8W – 1L – 1.64 ERA – 21BB – 73K

Prospects chosen from Diamond Cutter’s Top 25, Baseball America, and my own irrational sense of whimsy.