Archive for July, 2008

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.

From the Bus Leagues to Center Field

Legendary sports blogger Texas Gal celebrated the first birthday of her Red-Sox centric blog Center Field a few days ago, and OMDQ and I decided we wanted to get her something special. Or, at least, something unique. So here it is:

OMDQ’s walk down memory lane, remembering Sox prospects past

Extra P’s dissection of the potential of the current top 10 Sox prospects

Happy, happy, Texy!

Slight Tweaks to Olympic Roster

A couple weeks back, we announced our take on the 2008 Olympic Baseball roster. Since then, a few things have changed.

Colby Rasmus has withdrawn due to injury.

Geno Espineli was called up to San Francisco

Clayton Richard was called up to the White Sox

First guy on the list is probably extremely bummed. The other two are probably mostly ecstatic.

Anyway, on to the replacements.

Taking their place, including the 24th man left off the initial announcement, are second baseman Jayson Nix (Colorado Rockies organization), pitchers Jeremy Cummings (Tampa Bay Rays), Brian Duensing (Minnesota) and outfielder Nate Schierholtz (San Francisco Giants). Nix is the 24th man.

[NBC Olympics]

The article also points out that the dual call-up severely depleted the team’s supply of left-handed hurlers.

I recognize Schierholtz’s name from the Futures Game. The others I’ll have to learn more about. Congrats to the new additions, and to the callups. Colby… there’s always next year man. Keep ya head up.

The Z-Meter: 7/23/2008

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)

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)

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)

No more call-ups this week, though we had one near miss. Several news outlets reported that Jhoulys Chacin was getting the hee-yuge call up from High-A Modesto to the parent club in Denver. Rumors that proved to be false. The Rockies had, instead, called up Juan Morillo. Chacin still rocks the party, though. He’s 5-0 in his latest gig.

We did have one promotion, however. Rays prospect Wade Davis made the move from Montgomery to Durham, and promptly won his first game there. His ERA still has that new-car smell, at 0.00, for now.

The only other news is that the trade that broke up the Huntsville Stars dynasty is finally starting to show some negative effects. LaPorta, Gamel, and Escobar all had sub-par weeks, though their overall numbers are still high. I’m off to Altoona tomorrow to see the Curve take on the Aeros, so maybe I’ll have some LaPorta photos and eyewitness news for you when I get back.

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): .282 – 54R – 9HR – 37RBI – 25SB – 48BB – .417 SLG – .787 OPS

Matt Tuiasosopo, 3B – Tacoma Rainiers (Mariners): .265 – 54R – 5HR – 47RBI – 36BB – 2SB – .408 SLG – .761 OPS

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

Nelson Cruz, RF – Oklahoma Redhawks (Rangers): .341 – 84R – 32HR – 83RBI – 21SB – 56BB – .709 SLG – 1.151 OPS

Jeff Samardzija, RHP – Iowa Cubs (Cubs): 6GS – 4W – 1L – 3.13 – 16BB – 40K

Luke Montz, C – Columbus Clippers (Nationals): .175 – 4R – 0HR – 7RBI – 3BB – 0SB – .246 SLG – .462 OPS

Wade Davis, RHP – Durham Bulls (Rays): 1GS – 1W – 0L – 0.00 ERA – 3BB – 6K

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

Kila Kaaihue, 1B – Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Royals): .307 – 59R – 24HR – 67RBI – 78BB – 3SB – .614 SLG – 1.080 OPS

Austin Jackson, OF – Trenton Thunder (Yankees): .297 – 61R – 9HR – 57RBI – 51BB – 15SB – .456 SLG – .832 OPS

Jacob McGee, LHP (injured) – Montgomery Biscuits (Rays): 15GS – 6W – 4L – 3.94 ERA – 37BB – 65K

Cameron Maybin, CF (injured) – Carolina Mudcats (Marlins): .265 – 55R – 12HR – 38RBI – 43BB – 17SB – .461 SLG – .818 OPS

Elvis Andrus, SS – Frisco RoughRiders (Rangers): .286 – 57R – 1HR – 42RBI – 25BB – 38SB – .342 SLG – .685 OPS

Travis Snider, RF – New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Blue Jays): .265 – 52R – 15HR – 60RBI – 38BB – 1SB – .463 SLG – .811 OPS

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

Matt Wieters, C – Bowie Baysox (Orioles): .333 – 13R – 3HR – 11RBI – 12BB – 0SB – .519 SLG – .938 OPS

Lars Anderson, 1B – Portland SeaDogs (Red Sox): .214 – 1R – 0HR – 0RBI – 1BB – 0SB – .286 SLG – .552 OPS

Matt LaPorta, CF – Akron Aeros (Indians): .283 – 58R – 21HR – 72RBI – 46BB – 2SB – .551 SLG – .939 OPS

Mat Gamel, 3B – Huntsville Stars (Brewers): .362 – 80R – 15HR – 81RBI – 40BB – 5SB – .586 SLG – 1.007 OPS

David Price, LHP – Montgomery Biscuits (Rays): 5GS – 4W – 0L – 2.03 ERA – 10BB – 25K

Fernando Martinez, CF – Binghamton Mets (Mets): .290 – 36R – 5HR – 25RBI – 14BB – 5SB – .421 SLG – .752 OPS

Alcides Escobar, SS – Huntsville Stars (Brewers): .335 – 75R – 7HR – 61RBI – 22BB – 25SB – .438 SLG – .803 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): .309 – 13R – 4HR – 18RBI – 8BB – 0SB – .485 SLG – .857 OPS

Jhoulys Chacin, RHP – Modesto Nuts (Rockies): 5GS – 5W – 0L – 1.69 ERA – 4BB – 32K

Rick Porcello, RHP – Lakeland Flying Tigers (Detroit): 19GS – 6W – 6L – 2.91 ERA – 28BB – 54K

Mike Moustakas, SS – Burlington Bees (Royals): .246 – 44R – 12HR – 43RBI – 27BB – 5SB – .403 SLG – .710 OPS

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

Photo: Albuquerque Isotopes Mascot Orbit

I’m no stick-in-the-mud. I got a good laugh out of the guys at The Meaningful Collateral trying to gin up a sexual harassment controversy from this photo of the AAA Isotopes (Marlins) mascot Orbit.

I have it on good authority that it’s hard to see out of those mascot heads. I’m pretty sure poor, innocent Orbit was trying to entertain the child, not get a free shot of mother’s milk for his espresso.

Hat Tip to TMC for a great photo of a previously unseen-by-Bus-Leagues mascot!