Posts Tagged ‘Clearwater Threshers’

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.”

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Looking For A Pat Burrell Bobblehead? Don’t Go To Clearwater

clearwater threshers bobblehead

As Eric M. has mentioned here several times this season, the Clearwater Threshers are celebrating the 2008 World Series win of its parent club, the Philadelphia Phillies, by staging bobblehead giveaway nights in honor of each regular member of the starting lineup.  Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins already had their days; Pat Burrell was scheduled to be handed out last night – until the mighty Tampa Bay Rays reached down and put the kibosh on the whole deal.

According to a statement released by team general manager John Timberlake,

The Threshers are in violation of the Major League Baseball Agency Agreement which, in this instance, prohibits the promotion of the Phillies brand within the home television territory of the Tampa Bay Rays.

It seems strange that the Rays are just calling the Threshers on this now when it was clearly a planned season-long promotion.  All I can figure is that it had something to do the fact that Burrell left Philadelphia for Tampa as a free agent after last season and the Rays don’t want an organization located twenty minutes away to give away bobbleheads of one of their players in another team’s uniform.

On a local note, this helps explain why the New Hampshire Fisher Cats give away mostly Red Sox-themed bobbleheads.  Because they are within the Red Sox “home television territory”, they probably aren’t able to do such giveaways related to the Blue Jays, or at the very least require special permission to do so.

Update: Okay, so it wasn’t directly related to the Burrell bobblehead.  Much a pity.

The Threshers had already given out one bobblehead and were advertising the second when the Rays first raised the issue a month ago. On Thursday night — the eve of Friday’s planned third giveaway, of former Phillie and current Ray Pat Burrell — the Threshers ended the promotion.

That article also notes the question of what to do with sponsorship money and the bobbleheads themselves.

Houston’s Minor League System is Turning Out Some Fine… Ballparks

We spend a lot of time talking about prospects here, but there’s no doubt that players and big-league potential are only part of the appeal of minor-league baseball. For many Americans, a day at the local ballpark is an entertainment option, competing against the movie theater or mini-golf. For more casual fans, especially those with kids, the physical amenities offered by the ballpark can sway the vote. My own five-year-old son will vote loudly for minor-league baseball more for the rides, games, and dippin’ dots than for the product on the field.

So when Minor League News asked readers to vote on their favorite minor-league venues, and didn’t even restrict the vote to baseball, it proved meaningful that so many votes went to ballparks in the Houston Astros organization. Enough so that the Corpus Christi Hooks and the Round Rock Express found themselves in the top two spots in a recent poll.

Overall, 52.5 percent of voters selected ballparks as their favorite facilities, 47.5 picked arenas. Venues of over 800 teams were considered in the rankings. Fans were allowed one vote from an IP address. Approximately 11,000 votes were cast.

[KIII TV]

1. Whataburger Field – Corpus Christi, Texas 38.9
2. The Dell Diamond – Round Rock, Texas 13.7
3. The Arena at Gwinnett Center – Duluth, Georgia 9.9
4. Nutter Center – Dayton, Ohio 7.9
5. Stockton Arena – Stockton, California 6.7
6. Germain Arena – Estero, Florida 6.0
7. Rabobank Arena – Bakersfield, California 4.8
8. Sovereign Center – Reading, Pennsylvania 4.6
9. Brighthouse Networks Field – Clearwater, Florida 3.8
10. Orleans Arena – Las Vegas, Nevada 3.6

The overwhelming love for Whataburger field either shows a very well-traveled readership, or it points to a marvelously organized voter turnout by south-Texas-based fans, but either way, there’s no denying that the field is ready for its “MiLB Cribs” closeup.

I was in Corpus over a decade ago, and I don’t think Whataburger was there then. If I ever get back there, I might just get hooked.