Archive for July, 2009

Now Pitching For The Colorado Rockies…

The first “Now Pitching For” in forever, and I’m like four days late on it.  That’s how I roll.

Jhoulys Chacin burst onto our radar last season when he went a combined 18-3 with a 2.03 ERA and 160 strikeouts in 177.2 innings for Modesto and Asheville.  His performance earned him a coveted spot on the Z-Meter last May, and he hasn’t left since.  Well, until now, but this is like graduation day, really.

Chacin’s walks were up and his strikeouts were down at AA Tulsa this season, but that didn’t stop the Rockies from calling him up on Friday to take the place of reliever Ryan Speier, who was designated for assignment.  He made his major league debut on Saturday, pitching the ninth in an 8-2 Rockies win over San Francisco.  He walked one, threw a wild pitch, and struck out two.


A Walkoff Win, Followed By A No-Hitter – This Is Not Charleston’s Week

Hunter Strickland and Diego Moreno of the West Virginia Power teamed up to pitch a pretty good game tonight, no-hitting the Charleston RiverDogs, 4-0, at Appalachian Power Park.

Strickland went the first six, striking out five and allowing just two baserunners (an error and a hit batsman) before turning it over to Moreno, who pitched the final three innings for his fourth save.

I tuned in to the radio broadcast for the ninth and was pleasantly surprised to hear West Virginia’s announcer steadfastly refusing to utter the actual words “no-hitter”.  That silly bit of superstition bothers some people, but I’ve always appreciated it as one of the fun little things that makes baseball great.

This was the second of a four-game series between the Power and the RiverDogs, and so far, the home team is giving the fans their money’s worth.  On Sunday, West Virginia overcame deficits of 2-1, 5-2, and 6-4 before eventually winning on a walkoff homerun with two out in the ninth.

Pedro Martinez’s Low Fuel Light Is On; How Much He Actually Has Left Is Anyone’s Guess

Pedro Martinez made his first rehab start of the season on Sunday for Philadelphia’s A-level affiliate in Clearwater.  One of our bestest blog friends, the inimitable Jordi Scrubbings, was there to witness Petey’s rain-shortened outing:

Martinez, signed by the Phillies a few weeks ago, was clearly not the Pedro of old and I could tell he knew it. The 97 mph fastball was long gone, the aura and mystic was fading, and he was fighting to prove his ability to merely contribute. The former Cy Young ace was now a conjurer, a Merlin of the mound, hoping his knowledge, guile, and a little bit of smoke and mirrors was enough to make it back to the Show.

Last time Pedro returned from a long layoff, in 1997, Scott Hatteberg said much the same thing – he didn’t have the heat, didn’t have the breaking stuff, had a long way to go to return to respectability.  At the time, here’s what I wrote about that comeback, which saw him pick up his 3,000th career strikeout:

Pedro will never have his “old stuff” back. He’s 35 years old with a variety of injuries. He’s a back-end starter, a guy who goes out there once a week or so when the team needs a boost and manages to claw and scratch and fight for five or six innings before handing things over to the bullpen. He’s the guy who can sit on the bench and talk to the young pitchers about their approach – they’ll never have his ability, but they can have his brain.

I don’t think that’s changed.  I think Pedro has accepted his shortcomings and wants to be the sort of pitcher who can contribute in any way possible.  The question now is whether or not he can will his body to be capable of even that much.  Jordi saw him in action, and while it was only 1 1/3 innings, he was not optimistic:

As it was the major league Mets who put him out to pasture after last season, the minor league Mets put the final nail in his legendary career. Although I didn’t expect Pedro to dominate, it was clear he was struggling. Most of his pitches were up in the zone, the Mets were getting good wood on the ball, and he only produced one swinging miss, albeit on a classic Pedro change-up. The box score will say Pedro didn’t do that badly, giving up one hit, hitting a batter, and striking one. But great change-up aside, I’d say his tank is empty.

Please, God, let Jordi be wrong, just this once.  Let this be the Pedro of old breaking himself in the way he knew best, by working on whatever it was he wanted and not caring about the results.  Let there be one more thunderclap in that golden right arm, one more ten strikeout performance on a hazy summer day, one more outing that makes me call my son into the room and say, “Son, THIS is what greatness looks like.”

This Week in Bobbleheads – Week 17

Dog days of summer have started in baseball and the big push for bobblehead giveaways in the minors are very apparent in the month of August as these posts get larger and larger. Let’s get to this week then shall we?:

San Francisco Giants7/27/09Lou Seal (Stitch & Pitch) (Mascot) – What is more relaxing then going to a San Francisco Giants game than going with your needle arts projects too! Get your craft circles together for a fun filled evening with stitching and baseball. Fans will receive a very special Lou Seal themed bobblehead to take home along with being able to sit in the Stitch-N-Pitch area with other creative people. Rocker not included.

Bowling Green Hotrods 7/28/09 Joe Blanton – First 1,000 – Started in the A’s system and hit a homer in the 2008 World Series with the Phillies.

Memphis Redbirds 7/28/09 Adam Wainwright – First 1,500 – Wainright is being portrayed in his 2nd Redbirds bobblehead.

Wilmington BlueRocks 7/28/09 Everett Teaford – First 1,000 – The Rocks will try once again to give out Teafords since it was last postponed by rain. He has also been promoted to AA since.

Auburn Doubledays 7/29/09 Adam Lind – First 1,000 – The Bluejays powerful slugger began his rise to stardom here.

Madison Mallards 7/29/09 Maynard G. Mallard (Pitching) (Mascot) – First 500 – This time the jack-of-all-trades mallard will try his hand at pitching in bobblehead form.

Trenton Thunder 7/29/09 Derby (Mascot) – First 2,000 6 and over – Derby is the son of the Thunder’s original batdog Chase.

San Francisco Giants 7/30/09 Lou Seal (Policeman) (Mascot) – This time Lou Seal is in Police garb on motorcycle as part of Law Enforcement night.

Wilmington BlueRocks 7/30/09 Joe Biden – First 1,000 – The Delaware native has some catching up to do in political bobbleheads as this is his very first giveaway.

Evansville Otters 7/31/09 Jerry Sloan – First 500 – HOF coach in the NBA with several teams is being honored in his hometown.

Lake County Captains 7/31/09 Omar Vizquel – First 1,500 – Long time Indian and future HOFer at SS will get a bobblehead here.

Norfolk Tides 7/31/09 Ryan Zimmerman – First 2,000 17 and under – Another member in the neighborhood heroes series. He’s the Nats lone hitting hope.

Sacramento Rivercats 7/31/09 Eric Byrnes, Nick Swisher – First 1,500 – Not quite sure if there are 1,500 of each or is there equal amounts of each as part of a Rivercats anniversary duo.

West Michigan Whitecaps 7/31/09 Matt Nokes – First 1,000 – Another part of Tiger Fridays, Nokes will make an appearance as well.

Cleveland Indians 8/1/09 Victor Martinez – Can he be another trade deadline commodity?

Hagerstown Suns 8/1/09 Mike Mussina Statue – First 1,000 – Mussina played here when the Suns were a longtime Oriole affiliate.

Mississippi Braves 8/1/09 Phillip Wellman – First 1,000 – From what I’ve been told, this bobblehead will not throw a temper tantrum and there are no spare bases included.

Mahoning Valley Scrappers 8/2/09 Ted Toles – First 1,000 – Inducted into the Ebony Lifeline All Sport Hall of Fame, Ted Toles was honored in 1941 for his outstanding performance and leadership as a New Castle Indians baseball player.

Tampa Bay Rays 8/2/09 Scott Kazmir – Kids 14 and under – The 2008 AL champs series continues with this stud pitcher.

Wilmington will be my minors home away from home this week as I travel for the Teaford and Biden. Hope the weather holds up.

The Homer Strikes…

Those of you that know me? They know that I’m a Brewers fan. My baseball team is struggling right now. They need to make a deal. Get themselves a starter.

Problem? Anyone willing to trade a starting pitcher usually want to get themselves a starter coming back. For the Brewers? This poses a problem.  See, arguably the best prospect they have currently is in the Pioneer League.

The delightful comedy of the name Jake Odorizzi notwithstanding, the Brewers are in-line to lose a shot at the playoffs for two bugaboos. One that has happened often. One not so much.

This effects the Brewers chances directly for two reasons.

An injured Brewer pitching prospect is four words that just fit together.

The lost post of mine from Bus Leagues Baseball is the story of the Milwaukee Brewers Top 100 Baseball America prospects. And there was a prevalent theme. Pitchers careers died out from injury. From Tyrone Hill to Nick Neuguebauer to Mike Jones, the road to Milwaukee is paved with the corpses of torn labrums and ligaments. It just is, you know.

This is what has sunk the prospectdom of Zach Braddock and Alexandre Periard. Zach has had to be shifted to the bullpen because his elbow cannot handle the rigors of rotational work. Alexandre, a.k.a. The Canadian Hiroki Kuroda, who had two months in Double-A last season, fell back down the hill and is currently back in Brevard County.

The Jeremy Jeffress conundrum

Everybody has a marijuana joke for when a player gets bounced for a certain amount of time due to the ol’ Shad Grimgravy. They’ve recycled them from the Ricky Williams incident. But when you have a pitcher who can hit triple digits with regularity, you have a pitcher with instant trade value, no matter how mixed the results.

But since Jeffress has a real problem with drugs? You can’t trade him. He won’t help you this year. He probably won’t help next year either. He may be more likely to get bounced for life than bounce his slider in Miller Park.

Now the divinity of Cliff Lee or Roy Halladay is not under this blogs purview, so we won’t bother. All we’re going to say is, you have to be lucky as well as smart when you build a farm system. If Periard was doing well in Double-A?

Who knows what would be happening.

An Osprey Never Quits

The Missoula Osprey staged what might be minor league baseball’s comeback of the year last night, rallying from a late 7-0 deficit to beat the Billings Mustangs, 8-7.

Billings scored twice in each of the first three innings and held a seven run lead heading into the bottom of the seventh.  With two out, Missoula scored on a bases loaded walk (one of three free passes in the inning) to finally get on the scoreboard.

Bryan Gardner came on in the eighth for Billings and put two men on (via walk and hit by pitch) before escaping from the inning unscathed. He was sent back out to start the ninth, charged with securing the six run lead, when everything went to hell in ten easy steps.

1.  Alex Herrnberger walked.
2.  Henry Zaballa walked; Herrnberger advanced to 2nd.
3.  David Nick walked; Herrnberger advanced to 3rd; Zaballa advanced to 2nd.
4.  David Narodowski walked; Herrnberger scored; Zaballa advanced to 3rd; Nick to 2nd. 7-2, Billings

At this point, manager Julio Garcia had seen enough, replacing Gardner (final line: IP, 0 H, 5 BB, 4 R) with Daniel Corcino.

5.  With Bobby Stone batting, Zaballa scored on a balk; Nick advanced to 3rd; Narodowski advanced to 2nd. 7-3, Billings
6.  Bobby Stone singled on a ground ball to shortstop; Nick scored; Narodowski to 3rd. 7-4, Billings
7.  Offensive Substitution: Pinch runner Adonys Canelo replaced Stone.
8.  Ramon Castillo singled on a line drive to left; Narodowski scores; Canelo to 2nd. 7-5 Billings
9.  Offensive Substitution: Pinch runner Ender Inciarte replaced Castillo.
10. Paul Goldschmidt homered on a fly ball to center; Canelo scored; Inciarte scored. 8-7, Missoula wins

To recap, those seven ninth-inning runs were driven in by: a walk, a balk, an infield single, a single to left, and a walkoff homerun.  Three runs scored before the Osprey even got a ball out of the infield.  Missoula: where amazing happens.

Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” (As Interpreted By A 21-Year-Old Minor League Pitcher)

Via today’s Roundup at The Big Lead comes this video of Palm Beach Cardinals Casey Mulligan doing his best to entertain the crowd during a recent rain delay:

I like that as you’re listening to all the adults laugh at Mulligan’s “Thriller” dance, one little kid who doesn’t get the joke pipes up with the one question everyone always wants to know about the tarp: can you use that thing as a slip and slide? (To answer your question, dear child: yes.)

Mulligan’s dance moves clearly leave something to be desired. Good thing he’s a decent reliever (1.16 ERA, 69 strikeouts in 46.2 innings at the A and A+ levels this season) and shouldn’t have to quit his day job anytime soon.