Posts Tagged ‘Portland Sea Dogs’

A Kid’s Gotta Eat

For two full minor league seasons now, I’ve kicked around the idea of figuring out a way to put together a comprehensive list of major leaguers who appear in the minor leagues on rehab assignments. One of the best things about the bus leagues is that every so often, you get the chance to see major league talent at minor league prices. Daisuke Matsuzaka was supposed to pitch in Manchester on Saturday (he pitched on Sunday instead, when the weather was much better) – I paid $20 for two tickets with an excellent and close view of the mound. I shudder to think what they would have cost me at Fenway (okay, I looked it up: about $250 for the pair, twelve and a half times as much, not including fees).

Minor league players look forward to rehab assignments for another reason: when a big leaguer comes down to the minors, tradition dictates that he feeds the team before and/or after the game.

There have been a couple stories about this during the summer, but it wasn’t until Matsuzaka came to town and fed the Sea Dogs with pre-game sushi and post-game steak dinners that I realized something: as a group of fans that revels in the weird aspects of minor league baseball, we really should be talking about this more.  And we will – well, not this season, but next year, mark my words, there will be more in-depth coverage of what major leaguers are doing to help the kids out while they’re down on the farm.

I’m not sure we can do it without help, however, so if you happen to read a story that talks about this tradition, drop me a line at onemoredyingquail@gmail.com.

It Never Hurts To Have Too Much Pitching

Sunday was a very good day for Red Sox minor league pitchers. Five of the organization’s six minor league teams saw an impressive performance from either rotation or the bullpen:

Pawtucket (AAA): Michael Bowden – 5 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 4 BB, 5 SO (73 pitches)
Portland (AA): Ryne Lawson – 6 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 3 BB, 4 SO
Greenville (A): Nick Hagadone – 3 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 2 BB, 4 SO
Lowell (A-): Anatanaer Batista – 4 IP, 1 H, 4 SO
GCL Red Sox (R): Manuel Rivera – 5 IP, 1 R, 1 H, 2 BB, 4 SO

The staff in Salem (A+) must have forgotten to eat its Wheaties.

Two of those pitchers, Bowden and Hagadone, were preseason Top Tens for the Red Sox. Bowden saw some major league action this season, appearing in one game for Boston. Seventy-three pitches doesn’t seem like a lot, especially for a guy working on a no-hitter, but he recently spent some rest time on the disabled list and is a prized prospect. As a Sox fan, it’s reassuring that the team seems to know how to handle it’s top young players (Augie Garrido, take notes).

I’m honestly not sure what they’re doing with Hagadone – he’s started eight times but only pitched nineteen innings. If I had to guess, I’d say they were building his arm strength up slowly while still getting him live game action, but that’s just a guess.

Lawson’s performance was, after looking at his numbers, the nicest one to see. The Eastern League has knocked him around this year to the tune of 1-8, 6.65 ERA. He doesn’t strike out a lot of guys, walks more than he strikes out, and has a WHIP of 1.62. New Hampshire beat him up in his previous outing, turning five walks and eight hits into eight runs. The six inning, one-hit performance at Trenton on Sunday was completely out of line with the rest of his recent starts, but maybe it’s something he can build on.

Now Pitching For The Boston Red Sox…

A few weeks ago, my wife’s uncle and I were talking about the Red Sox when he mentioned that Jonathan Papelbon might not stay with the team when he hits free agency.  As a fan, the thought of Paps leaving is a little scary – say all you want about closers being a dime a dozen, the fact of the matter is that ninth inning worries have been few and far between for the last several seasons.

Upon hearing the news, however, I was strangely unconcerned, because I had recently heard news of the big flamethrowing righthander romping through the minor league system.  Drafted in the first round in 2006 as a starter, moved to the bullpen in 2007, and then

Forty-three strikeouts in 28 innings for Single A Greenville in 2008.  A 1.99 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 49.2 innings following a promotion to Double A Portland later that year.  Triple digits on the radar gun in 2009 spring training.  A 1.13 ERA, six saves in eleven games, and 29 strikeouts in 16 innings for Triple A Pawtucket this season.

Yes, when Papelbon is gone, I will feel completely comfortable watching Daniel Bard step into the closer role.  For right now, he’s hanging in the bullpen and waiting to make his major league debut, which ought to come any day now.  And suddenly, I find myself longing for the days when Josh Bard was also in a Red Sox uniform, and lamenting that we may never see a Bard-Bard battery.

Oh, and he needs a nickname.  I don’t know why.  He just does.

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!

Two Roads Diverged

On a shelf in my parents’ living room, there is a baseball signed by every attendee of the 2004 New Hampshire Baseball Dinner. Some of the names are starting to fade, but most are still clearly visible. Jim Rice. Johnny Pesky. Rick Wise. Butch Hobson. Bill Monbouquette. It’s one of those items that is pretty cool to have, even if the actual monetary value is probably nonexistent.

In addition to some of the big name stars who signed balls for fans that night, there were a couple of relative nobodies, minor leaguers who had played their high school ball in New Hampshire and were now working their butts off for the opportunity to play in the major leagues.

Manchester’s David Williamson (for some reason, all the stats sites refer to him as “Willie” Williamson) was a former seventh round pick by the Cardinals out of UMass-Lowell who was starting to run into some serious and confusing trouble. Like Steve Blass, Mark Wohlers, and others before him, Williamson was a pitcher with immense physical talent who, somewhere along the way, had forgotten how to throw strikes. In 2002, with the Low A New Jersey Cardinals, he appeared in six games, all starts, posting a 2.25 ERA, 10.13 K/9, 7.13 BB/9, and a 1.29 WHIP in 24 innings pitched. His line the following year? 17 games, four starts, 9.90 ERA, 7.20 K/9, 15.30 BB/9, 2.45 WHIP in 20 innings pitched. In 2004, he ended up at the end of the world, in Nashua, pitching for the Pride, hoping to figure out the problem and capitalize on his potential. Didn’t happen. I distinctly remember watching him in one of the three games he pitched – he got two quick strikes on one of the hitters he faced, then hit the backstop on the fly with his next pitch. He ended up appearing in a total of eight games between Nashua and Pennsylania (the league’s traveling team, which really WAS the end of the world for most guys), walking 31 batters in 7 2/3 innings. Just like that, his career was over.

The other minor leaguer at the dinner that night was Litchfield’s Kyle Jackson, a 32nd round selection by the Boston Red Sox in June 2001. Unlike Williamson, Jackson has achieved limited success at the minor league level; for awhile, he was even included on Boston’s 40-man roster. He suffered a setback in 2007, however, going 4-9 with a 5.99 ERA in 42 relief appearances at AA Portland. Now 25 and in his seventh minor league season, Jackson’s career is at a critical stage. Will he finally follow in the footsteps of Charlie Zink and Chris Smith (Portland’s “Governor” and “Mayor”, respectively, as Kevin Gray tells us at the beginning of a story on Jackson in today’s Union Leader), who left the Sea Dogs after a combined nine seasons with the team, moving down the highway to AAA Pawtucket? Or does Jackson’s story end before he walks down the tunnel, through the dugout, and out onto the impossibly green grass of Fenway Park? At this point, only time will tell.

Spotlight on AA Ball – 4/16/2008

OK, for starters:

THE ALTOONA CURVE (PIRATES!) HAVE A ROLLER COASTER BUILT IN THE OUTFIELD! I TEND TO THINK THAT IS FAIRLY BAD-ASS! I wonder if anyone has ever been beaned by an errant homer while riding in the cars? [Baseball Pilgrimages]

It was a chilly night in Norwich, CT. Thirty-six degrees, to be precise. Obviously, visiting Portland Sea Dogs (Red Sox) lefty Dustin Richardson wanted to spend as little time on the mound as possible. He fanned double-digit Connecticut Defender (Giants) batters to earn the win. [MiLB.com]

28 is not the ideal age for a AA player, but 3B Yurendell de Caster is tearing it up for the Harrisburg Senators (Nationals). The Curacao native is hitting .366 with 4 homers, 13 RBIs and 9 runs. He’s even legged out four doubles in just 11 games. Think the parent club could use that kind of production? [MiLB.com]

This isn’t so much news, per se. But if you’ve spent time looking at minor-league websites at all, you know most of them follow a pretty predictable template. Which is fine, but the Carolina Mudcats (Marlins) have a nice, refreshing setup, including video. [GoMudcats.com]

The Corpus Christi Hooks (Astros) play in Whataburger Field. Which is a pretty funny name, after all. But when you look at the photos of the park, and the surrounding area, it looks pretty damn sweet. [CCHooks.com]

That’s the AA news for this week. Look for the Z-Meter tomorrow, and AAA news on Friday.

Spotlight on AA Ball – 4/9/08

Your AA News:

Remember how the Mets traded away several prospects to get Johan Santana in their starting rotation? Meet Fernando Martinez, the guy they kept. He’s 19 years old and already in AA with the Binghamton Mets, and he’s still the #1 prospect for the Mets. [Pressconnects.com]

For Art Solomon, owning the AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Blue Jays) was not enough. He just reached into Georgia and bought the Columbus Catfish (Rays) as well. I only have one piece of advice for Mr. Solomon – keep your mascots far, far away from one another. It could be a tragedy in the making. [Columbus Catfish]

Royals owner David Glass has always taken heat for not living close enough to Kansas City. At least now he can claim to be keeping an eye on the club’s future, as the Wal-Mart exec’s office in Bentonville is just a few miles from the KC-affiliated AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals home in Springdale, AR. [NWANews.com]

If I may toot my own horn, I managed to work AA-ball into an article I wrote for ESPN: the Magazine’s website. I suggested that fans in San Antonio for the basketball try to fit in a baseball game between sessions. [ESPNmag.com]

In an attempt to make the game more homey, the Portland Sea Dogs have gone so far as to paint the women’s restrooms. Goin’ whole hog! [OurSports Central]

That’s all I have time for today. Check back for the first real Zimmerman-o-meter on Thursday, and AAA news on Friday.