Archive for July, 2008

Video: Dayton Dragons Brawl With Peoria Chiefs

It’s the winging of the baseball into the opposing team’s dugout that really makes this clip. Not that I condone such behavior. It just makes it stand out from your average baseball fight.

Hat Tip to Gheorghe: The Blog for being generally awesome, and for airing this video first.

The Z-Meter: 7/30/2008

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)
Homer Bailey, RHP, Louisville (AAA) to Cincinnati Reds (MLB)
Ian Stewart, 3B, Colorado Springs (AAA) to Colorado Rockies (MLB)
Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Sacramento (AAA) to Oakland (MLB)
Chase Headley, 3B, Portland (AAA) to San Diego (MLB)
Eulogio De La Cruz, RHP, Albuquerque (AAA) to Marlins (MLB)
Joe Koshansky, 1B, Colorado Springs (AAA) to Rockies (MLB)
Jeff Samardzija, RHP, Iowa (AAA) to Chicago Cubs (MLB)

Justin Masterson, RHP, Portland (AA) to Boston (MLB)

Jeff Samardzija, RHP, Tennessee (AA) to Iowa (AAA)
Luke Montz, C, Harrisburg (AA) to Columbus (AAA)
Wade Davis, RHP, Montgomery (AA) to Durham (AAA)
Kila Kaaihue, 1B, Northwest Arkansas (AA) to Omaha (AAA)

Antonio Bastardo, LHP, Clearwater (A) to Reading Phillies (AA)
David Price, LHP, Vero Beach (A) to Montgomery (AA)
Matt Weiters, C, Frederick Keys (A) to Bowie Baysox (AA)
Lars Anderson, 1B, Lancaster JetHawks (A) to Portland SeaDogs (AA)

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

Ian Gac, 1B, Clinton (A) to Bakersfield (Advanced A)
Jhoulys Chacin, RHP, Asheville (A) to Modesto (Advanced A)

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

Whew! Now we’re talking. Jeff Samardzija bought his first-class ticket out of the Z-meter by notching two saves (so far) for the NL-Central leading Chicago Cubs, who are trying to figure out who should close in the absence of Kerry Wood. I’m replacing him with Futures Game pitcher Trevor Cahill, who is 6-1 for the Midland, TX affiliate of the Oakland As. I also decided to replace Jacob McGee with Tulsa speed merchant Dexter Fowler so I didn’t have to pay royalties to Rays Index. We’ve still got plenty of their fantastic pitching prospects in the rotation.

The other promotion was hot-hitting Kila Kaaihue from Northwest Arkansas to Omaha. Think the Royals like the look of the Hawaiian’s 26 homers in double-A? I wouldn’t be surprised if KC doesn’t call him up for the annual push to get out of the AL Central basement.

In general, when a player gets called up to the bigs from now on, he’ll be replaced with someone in A or AA on the meter. That way, we can start getting a look at guys who might still be here for next year’s edition, instead of those who will be in the majors in September.

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.

Andrew McCutchen, CF – Indianapolis Indians (Pirates): .276 – 56R – 9HR – 40RBI – 26SB – 50BB – .404 SLG – .769 OPS

Matt Tuiasosopo, 3B – Tacoma Rainiers (Mariners): .255 – 60R – 6HR – 52RBI – 37BB – 2SB – .398 SLG – .740 OPS

Colby Rasmus, LF (injured) – Memphis Redbirds (Cardinals): .249 – 56R – 11HR – 36RBI – 15SB – 49BB – .395 SLG – .741 OPS

Nelson Cruz, RF – Oklahoma Redhawks (Rangers): .349 – 91R – 37HR – 96RBI – 24SB – 56BB – .729 SLG – 1.171 OPS

Luke Montz, C – Columbus Clippers (Nationals): .181 – 4R – 0HR – 10RBI – 4BB – 0SB – .236 SLG – .460 OPS

Wade Davis, RHP – Durham Bulls (Rays): 2GS – 2W – 0L – 2.08 ERA – 6BB – 12K

Kila Kaaihue, 1B – Omaha Royals (Royals): stats reset with promotion

These guys also have the potential to skip straight to the majors, but may get promoted to AAA first.

Austin Jackson, OF – Trenton Thunder (Yankees): .295 – 64R – 9HR – 57RBI – 53BB – 15SB – .448 SLG – .823 OPS

Dexter Fowler, OF – Tulsa Drillers (Rockies): .337 – 86R – 9HR – 61RBI – 61BB – 20SB – .514 SLG – .944 OPS

Cameron Maybin, CF – Carolina Mudcats (Marlins): .262 – 56R – 12HR – 38RBI – 45BB – 17SB – .456 SLG – .814 OPS

Elvis Andrus, SS – Frisco RoughRiders (Rangers): .291 – 60R – 2HR – 45RBI – 26BB – 41SB – .352 SLG – .700 OPS

Trevor Cahill, RHP – Midland RockHounds (Oakland): 6GS – 6W – 1L – 2.19 ERA – 19BB – 33K

Travis Snider, RF – New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Blue Jays): .258 – 57R – 16HR – 63RBI – 46BB – 1SB – .456 SLG – .808 OPS

Antonio Bastardo, LHP (injured) – Reading Phillies (Phillies): 9GS – 2W – 3L – 3.11 ERA – 29BB – 39K

Matt Wieters, C – Bowie Baysox (Orioles): .326 – 16R – 5HR – 21RBI – 18BB – 0SB – .547 SLG – .981 OPS

Lars Anderson, 1B – Portland SeaDogs (Red Sox): .192 – 3R – 0HR – 1RBI – 3BB – 0SB – .231 SLG – .507 OPS

Matt LaPorta, CF – Akron Aeros (Indians): .277 – 60R – 21HR – 73RBI – 48BB – 2SB – .534 SLG – .915 OPS

Mat Gamel, 3B – Huntsville Stars (Brewers): .360 – 82R – 16HR – 84RBI – 40BB – 5SB – .588 SLG – 1.005 OPS

David Price, LHP – Montgomery Biscuits (Rays): 7GS – 5W – 0L – 2.20 ERA – 12BB – 38K

Fernando Martinez, CF – Binghamton Mets (Mets): .292 – 37R – 5HR – 25RBI – 14BB – 5SB – .420 SLG – .752 OPS

Alcides Escobar, SS – Huntsville Stars (Brewers): .334 – 76R – 7HR – 61RBI – 22BB – 25SB – .437 SLG – .802 OPS

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

Ian Gac, 1B – Bakersfield Blaze (Rangers): .291 – 15R – 6HR – 23RBI – 12BB – 0SB – .496 SLG – .866 OPS

Jhoulys Chacin, RHP – Modesto Nuts (Rockies): 6GS – 5W – 1L – 2.23 ERA – 7BB – 36K

Rick Porcello, RHP – Lakeland Flying Tigers (Detroit): 20GS – 6W – 6L – 2.83 ERA – 29BB – 60K

Mike Moustakas, SS – Burlington Bees (Royals): .258 – 55R – 15HR – 49RBI – 32BB – 5SB – .435 SLG – .757 OPS

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

Shark Week!

Who knew that the Discovery Channel cared as much about Jeff “Shark” Samardzija’s call-up to the Cubs as we do? Of course, he did help the long-suffering Cubbies grab first place in the NL Central outright, which is a pretty big deal.


Bull Durham Stadium to become Training Field of Dreams

The Durham Bulls haven’t played in Durham Athletic Park for years now. Nobody’s had to hold the flavor of the month’s junk there for some time, but the park still stands. Nobody really wants to tear down the filmic backdrop to the legendary baseball movie “Bull Durham”.

Now comes the news that the City of Durham is renovating the stadium, courtesy of a $6.3 million budget. The new field will host the collegiate baseball battles of North Carolina Central University. Some reports also claim that the facility will be a training ground for future ballpark employees:

When it’s finished, the old park will be a new training ground for minor league baseball. People will come to Durham to learn how to take care of fields and how to “flip” them from festivals to ballgames.


I’ve attempted to contact the city to find out what they’re doing with the debris from the old stadium. Wouldn’t you love a chance to buy the table Millie was lying on when she and Nuke… never mind.


Inspiration For 50th Round Picks Everywhere

Mike Loree is too good for the Northwest League.

I first considered writing about Loree about two weeks ago, when he was in the midst of a remarkable stretch in which he retired 62 of 63 batters over four starts for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (A-, Northwest League).  If you want empirical proof that Wins and Losses are vastly overrated, look no further than Loree’s results from those games:

June 25: 5 innings, 0 runs, 2 hits, 0 walks, 3 strikeouts – NO DECISION
June 30: 6 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 7 strikeouts – WIN
July 5: 7 innings, 1 run, 1 hit, 0 walks, 7 strikeouts – LOSS
July 11: 7 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 7 strikeouts – NO DECISION

In his next two outings, on July 16 and 21, Loree came back down to earth, allowing six runs on fifteen hits in nine innings.  He struck out a total of just six batters and also issued his first walk of the season.

So why mention him now?

Because yesterday, 21-year-old righthander was at it again, carrying a no-hitter into the seventh inning for the fourth time.  He allowed two hits, a walk, and a run before leaving after 6.2 innings, but his team managed to get him some runs and the bullpen held the line for a 3-1 win that evened his record at 2-2.

This week in Bobbleheads Part 10

As the dog days of Summer loom ahead, the bobblehead hobby continues to be a big part of promotional schedules.  I’m Eric the bobble guy with the most accurate listing of the sports world in bobbleheads/figurines at .  For all of you that read this blog, please join my forum as well to augment your collections.  The week ahead looks like this:

Carolina Mudcats 7/28/08 Tim Wakefield – The Red Sox knuckleballer was part of the Pittsburgh chain at this level.

Tri-City Valleycats 7/28/08 Mayor Brian Stratton – First 1000- The final mayor in the 3 part series.

Wisconsin Woodchucks 7/28/08 Jim Gantner (Brewers Uni) This former Brewer still maintains his Wisconsin roots as manager here.

Lakewood BlueClaws 7/29/08 Mike Zagurski (Made it to the Phillies) – First 2000- While recovering from Tommy John surgery, Zagurski will be there to sign them as well.

Madison Mallards 7/29/08 Maynard G. Mallard (Mascot) – The annual fan favorite bobblehead in a new pose for 2008.

Corpus Christi Hooks 7/30/08 Josh Anderson Figurines – Future Astros budding star in Figurine format.

Lowell Spinners 7/30/08 Joshua Papelbon – First 1500 – Younger brother of the Red Sox closer makes his debut as a bobble.

Trenton Thunder 7/30/08 Joba Chamberlain/Ian Kennedy Double – Chamberlain and Kennedy are another of the Thunder gems that will don Yankee Pinstripes for years to come.

Greeneville Astros 7/31/08 Andrew Johnson – This former US president has Greeneville roots.

Long Island Ducks7/31/08 “Mustard” Racing Hotdog – Mustard beat out Ketchup and Relish in an earlier fan poll based on the Hotdog races at Citibank Park.

Fayetteville Swampdogs 8/1/08 Fungo Bobbletail (Mascot) – This year it’s the tail that bobbles instead of the head.  What’s next?

Gateway Grizzlies 8/1/08 Izzy (Mascot) – Friday must be popular for mascot bobbles eh?

Helena Brewers 8/1/08 Ryan Braun – Another bobble for this 2008 Brewer All-Star.

Houston Astros 8/1/08 Lance Berkman – Not a hobby bobble this season for the NL All-Star, but still part of the set.

Minnesota Twins 8/1/08 Jack Morris Bronze Statuette -Player turned broadcaster turned Bronze Statue.

Norfolk Tides 8/1/08 Michael Cuddyer – Joins the Uptons as part of the Local Heroes series.

Portland Seadogs 8/1/08 Jonathan Papelbon – I hope the dog doesn’t eat this like he did the World Series ball.

Batavia Muckdogs 8/2/08 Ryan Howard – First 500- Howard becomes the first ever Muckdogs bobble.

Brockton Rox 8/2/08 Bobbling Wrecking Ball – It’s a replica of Yankee Stadium with a mini wrecking ball that really moves.

Jacksonville Suns 8/2/08 John Shoemaker Figurine – Longtime Dodger farm Manager makes a statuette.

Oklahoma Redhawks  8/2/08 Mickey Mantle – Yankee superstar in a bobble of his roots.

Pawtucket Pawsox 8/2/08 Dustin Pedroia – First 4000 14 and under- The diminuitive 2B bobbles for kids only.

Portland Beavers 8/2/08 Jerry Mathers (Leave it to Beaver) – A unique idea of the bobbling Beav.  He will sign them also.

Quad Cities River Bandits 8/2/08 “Shoeless” Joe Jackson – Say it ain’t so.

Rockford Riverhawks 8/2/08 Ryne Sandberg – Current Peoria Chiefs manager part of the Rockford Cubbies HOF series.

Sioux Falls Canaries 8/2/08 Cartwright Brothers – Giveaway includes a postgame concert with the Splitpea Band.

Tampa Bay Rays 8/2/08 BJ Upton Figurine – First 10000- Upton was worthy of costing Rocco Baldelli an MLB job.

Beloit Snappers 8/3/08 Rickie Weeks – First 500- 2nd time around in Beloit for a Weeks bobble.

Everett Aquasox 8/3/08 Dan Wilson – First 1000- He will be there to sign them as well.

Seattle Mariners 8/3/08 Dave Niehaus – This 2008 HOF broadcaster was a late add to bobble fame as well.

Dallas McPherson Has A Chance To Do Something Specialish

A few weeks ago, one of the big stories in minor league baseball was Dallas McPherson and his phenomenal streak of seven consecutive games with a homerun. The former Angel has continued to tear up AAA pitching ever since, ending play on Thursday with 35 homeruns so far on the season.

Were this Francisco “Don’t Call Me Nelson” Liriano we were talking about, there might be some sort of formal inquiry as to why McPherson is still languishing in Albuquerque, crushing homeruns at a rate of one every 9.37 at-bats. Like Liriano, however, the question is best answered by looking at the major league team: the Marlins infield is one of the most well-versed in baseball’s primary language – Homerun. Mike Jacobs (20), Dan Uggla (24), and Hanley Ramirez (24) all have more than twenty roundtrippers on the season, with the resurgent Jorge Cantu (18 ) trailing just behind the pack. If this were the American League and McPherson could DH, things would be different. As it is, he’s blocked by Cantu and Jacobs for the time being. Ah well, there’s always September.

So I’m going to assume that McPherson will be cashing his checks in New Mexico banks for at least a few more weeks, which raises an interesting question: how many players in recent minor league history have gone deep more than forty times in a single season?

As it turns out, not very many. Nine players have hit forty homeruns in a season ten times since 1992, including McPherson, who finished second to Ryan Howard among all minor leaguers in 2004. If he adds five more to his total this season, he will join Phil Hiatt as the only players in the past seventeen years with more than one minor league forty homer season. The list is below.

Brandon Wood (43), 2005
Ryan Howard (46), 2004
Dallas McPherson (40), 2004
Phil Hiatt (44), 2001
Brandon Berger (40), 2001
J.R. Phillips (41), 1999
Chris Hatcher (46), 1998
Phil Hiatt (42), 1996
Russell Branyan (40), 1996
Todd Greene (40), 1995

Look at those names. Not a lot of renowned major league homerun hitters in that group, are there? Howard is one of the premier sluggers in the game today, and Branyan just recently reached 350 combined for his major and minor league careers, but who else? Greene? Hiatt? Hatcher? Light on the name recognition.

You always hope that a player like McPherson, who is performing so well after missing all of last season following back surgery, gets another chance to make a first impression at the major league level. But at the same time, it would be pretty cool to see if he could reach forty again, or, if he gets hot, challenge Howard and Hatcher’s Steroid Era record of 46.

Now Pitching For The Chicago Cubs…

It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for, baseball fans.  Jeff Samardzija is a Chicago Cub.

Well, maybe “all” is a bit of an overstatement.  For some reason, though, I get the feeling that Extra P is really excited about this latest development in The Shark’s career.  (Darnit, I just remembered that his nickname is Shark.  Samardzija’s, not Extra P’s.  That and Greg Norman’s success at the British Open last weekend should have been the perfect recipe for an opening line about it being “a good week for sharks” or something equally lame.  Oh well, not going back to change it now.  You’ll just have to deal with my usual lameness.)

Samardzija, who was drafted by the Cubs in the fifth round of the 2006 draft, was called up to replace Kerry Wood and his blistered finger on the roster.  Although used primarily as a starter in the minor leagues, he could make his major league debut out of the bullpen as early as this afternoon against the Florida Marlins.

Photos: Akron Aeros @ Altoona Curve 7/24/2008

What the heck was Extra P. doing in Altoona, PA?

It’s a direct result of this site, actually. The primary goal of my trip to Pennsylvania was to visit my brother, who lives in Pittsburgh. There are much quicker ways to get there than to go through Altoona. But I knew that the Altoona Curve (Pirates) have a cool ballpark, and when I saw that there was a noon game against the Akron Aeros (Indians) on my travel day, I knew I had to make the detour.

The Aeros, as you probably know by now, are breaking in a new guy by the name of Matt LaPorta. Sadly, the big fella went 0-4 and left five men on base. The Curve won, 3-1.

Facade of Blair County Ballpark

The Aeros run in from calesthenics

The roller coaster at the adjacent Lakewood Park provides written support for the team, and an interesting view of the ballpark.

Aeros DH Matt LaPorta has the uneasy feeling that several thousand people are watching him.

LaPorta meets a young fan, as well as an older one.

Curve mascot Steamer eats children. You’d think there’d be more of a public outcry.

Also cool: the Aeros have a player with the last name of Panther. That’s got to be an advantage with the ladies.

I’m going to perform a public service here and let you know how the whole roller-coaster thing works. Blair County Ballpark is part of an entertainment complex, including an ice park and the Lakewood amusement park. When I went to buy my tickets, I could never figure out whether the roller coaster was inside the park or not. It’s not.

The good news is that the roller coaster is an easy walk from the game – the parking garage is right between the two. Entry to the amusement park is free. Once inside, you can buy tickets to ride individual rides – the roller coaster costs $3 per person, so that’s a good deal in my book. There’s also railroad-themed mini golf and a water park, so a visitor could really spend all day in one area. Seems to me it would be fun to go early, ride the coaster while the teams were warming up or even during the first inning, and then head into the ballgame.

Anyway, if you get a great day like we had, and you don’t mind the detour, this is a great place to spend a day.

Back To Basak’s

That headline really makes no sense.  I just like it.

According to Peter Abraham of The LoHud Yankees Blog, Ian Kennedy came very close to an impressive achievement tonight, only to be let down by his defense:

Needing one out to finish his no-hitter, Ian Kennedy got Richmond’s Barbaro Canizares to ground to second base.

Forget it. Chris Basak’s second error of the night extended the game. Scott Thorman then cracked an RBI double to tie the score 1-1.

Once I got past the fact that the name of the guy who hit the ball that should have been the last out was Barbaro Canizares – they don’t get much more awesome than that – I kinda felt bad for Kennedy.  You fight and battle for seven innings (it was the second game of a doubleheader), you get within one out of a moment you’ll remember for your entire career, you get the batter to hit a fieldable ball, and your teammate blows it.  On the plus side, I’m sure nobody feels worse than Chris Basak right now.