Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Caravaning in the sub-tropics

Justin MorneauThe Minnesota Twins have announced what, in effect, amounts to the Twins Caravan efforts in South West Florida, the annual free youth clinics. 11 clinics are scheduled for each Saturday starting on January 13 and continuing one through February 10th.

While the coaching staff for the clinics was not formally announced, look for some of the local Twins coaches such as Milt Cuyler, Rick Knapp and Eric Rasmussen to be in attendance as well as the cast of local players (::cough::cough:: Tommy Watkins) who always seem to show up to help out at these functions.

There is no pre-registration, the Clinics are free and open to boys and girls between the ages of 5 and 16, irregardless of skill level. Hitting, fielding, and throwing will be taught at each clinic, and parents are encouraged to join their children on the field.

There are two clinics on January 13, 2006, the first from 10 a.m. until Noon, the second from 1 until 3 PM. Both those clinics along with the Challenger (children with handicaps) Clinic on February 10, will be held at William Hammond Stadium at the Lee County Sportsplex on Six Mile Cypress.

The remaining 8 clinics are as follows:

Jan. 20  10 a.m. to 12 p.m.  Cape Coral (TBA)
1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Fort Myers Little League, Deleon
Jan. 27 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Buckingham Little League
1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Lehigh Little League
Noon to 2 p.m. Centennial Park, Fort Myers
Feb. 3 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Desoto County Little League
1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Charlotte County Little League
Feb. 10 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. San Carlos Little League
Locations addresses and contact numbers are as follows:

Jan. 13 & February 10 (Challenger)
Minnesota Twins/Lee County Sports Complex
14100 Six Mile Cypress Parkway
Fort Myers, FL 33912

Jan. 20
Jason Verdow Memorial Park
801 Se 27th Street Cape Coral, FL 33990
Art Avellino
- 239-772-4232

Fort Myers Little League
Sam Fleishman/Deleon Community Park
1750 Matthew Drive Fort Myers, FL 33907
Don Overhouser
- 239-872-7787

Jan. 27
Buckingham Little League
9800 Buckingham Road
Fort Myers, FL 33905
Pat Shannahan - 239-33-8355

Lehigh Little League
1400 West 5th Street 33936
Darrel Willis
- 239-823-6126

Feb. 3
DeSoto Little League
Speer Recreation Center
185 West Winifred Street
Arcadia, FL 34266
Tara & Matt Anderson
- 863-990-0529

Charlotte County Little League
Harold Ave Recreation Center
Port Charlotte, FL 23400
Lou Agusto - 941-629-6552 or 941-629-0114

Feb. 10
San Carlos Little League
18215 Three Oaks Parkway
Three Oaks Park Fort Myers, FL 33912
Todd Backster
- 239-989-5868

It should be noted that Jeff Smith will NOT be at the clinic scheduled for January 13th, as he will be holding his annual baseball camp at the Community School of Naples. Visit GCL Twins or phone 239-659-6543 or 239-269-8742 for additional information on the Jeff Smith Professional Baseball Camp.

The clinics will take us pretty much up until the start of Spring Training in February. Major League pitchers and catchers will arrive on Sunday February 18th, with the first workouts scheduled for Monday, February 19th. Position players report on February 23, with the first full-squad work out taking place on Saturday, February 24.

The twins have invited minor league catchers Korey Feiner, Jose Leger and Jose Morales to Major League spring training. Free agent infielder signee Ken Harvey has been invited to camp as has Gil Velazquez and Tommy Watkins (New Britain/Rochester) and Glenn Williams (Rochester).

Outfielder Josh Rabe, who appeared in 24 games for the Major League Twins last season was also invitied. Rabe was removed from the 40-man roster earlier this year and outrighted to Rochester, where he spent most of last season.

Pitchers invited to camp include free agent signees Carmen Cali, Mike Venafro, and Jeremy Cummings, as well as Jason Miller and Australian Tristan Crawford, who have both been playing in the Twins minor league system. Also on the list of invitees, is the Twins second round pick in 2005, Kevin Slowey.

Aside from the major league coaching staff, the following coaches will also be at major league spring training: Tom Kelly, Tony Oliva, Phil Roof and Terry Steinbach, as well as National Baseball Hall of Famers Rod Carew, Harmon Killebrew and Paul Molitor.

The Twins have signed short stop Nicholas Papasan, who was their 24th round (726th overall) pick in the 2006 June Draft. He's been scouted as having an excellent bat with surprising power for his size (5'9", 175 lbs). He'll be joining the GCL Squad this season, where he may end up being switched to second base.

Josh Taylor
mentioned on his blog Taylor's Twins Talk the signing of Jesus Carnevales from Puerto Rico and Jae-Hyung Jang from South Korea. Both are expected to join the GCL Twins for extended spring training. There is little information forthcoming, I guess I'll just wait for the media guide.

Speaking of the GCL, for a league that was close to being disbanded at the end of the 2005 season, it sure has become lively. Both the Baltimore Orioles and the St.Louis Cardinals have opted to field GCL teams this season, bringing the number of teams in the league to 15. The Toronto Blue Jays were considering joining the League as well. The addition of the Orioles means that I'll get to see a few more games this year, as the league will be play every other Sunday now as well.

Unfortunately, it means the boys will not get as much time off as they had last year.

Meanwhile the Appalachian League will operate with only 9 teams this season, as Pulaski was unable to drum up any interest once the Blue Jays pulled out.

I have been in an organizational mood of late - very strange since anyone who knows me will tell you I've never been organized a day in my life. In any case, I've gotten all of the 2006 photos for the Twins and the Miracle into albums and tagged. There is something in the range of 1,500 of them (not counting spring training pictures). I've now started working on 2005. What this means is that if I have your address (like Vicki Harrington) I've finally dug out and sent the photos that I was supposed to send back in oh August...September...

If I don't have your snail mail address (Leavitt, Buenrostro, Parmelee) and you'd like to e-mail it to me, I'll be happy to drop said photos in the mail to you. Otherwise, you'll have to look me up at spring training.

No, sorry Eli. No photos for you until I get an autograph.

The baseball portion of this blog is now being duplicated on Blog Spot: Rookie Whites. If you'd like to exchange links, please let me know, links will appear on the Blog Spot location not on Xanga or Myspace.

I've also been doing some hockey blogging through the offseason at Live Journal for the entertainment challenged.

Finally, there was article in the Naples Daily News which related to lefty shooters on the ECHL Florida Everblades and the ratio of lefties to righties in hockey in general. What I found interesting about it was the a number of Canadians in the Twins organization - Justin Morneau, Rene Tosoni and Jon Waltenbury -- all bat lefty even though they they seem to be otherwise right handed.

Everblades president Craig Brush advanced the following theory in the article: "Your top hand on a hockey stick is your strong hand, so if you start playing hockey when you're a little boy, if you're right-handed you're going to shoot left-handed and if you're left-handed you're going to shoot right-handed. All three of my kids are right-handed, Matt played baseball first, he shoots right-handed, the other two shoot left-handed. If you played baseball first, like a lot of American kids do, and you learned how to hit right-handed then you'll shoot right-handed, whereas if you surveyed Canadians, there would be more lefties."

Could all the lefty batting in the Canadian contingent stem from playing hockey first? It's an interesting thought. Perhaps I need to have a chat with our neighbors from up north during spring training this year.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

A slight draft

Justin JonesEveryone should know the story by now...Terry Ryan takes Johan Santana in the Rule V Draft, puts him in the Twins bullpen for a year, sends him down to the minors for a bit and manages to come up with a two-time Cy Young Award winner.

The odds of this happening are on the same level as picking up the next Triple Crown winner for $50,000 in a maiden claiming race. Which, however, does not stop general managers, including Mr. Ryan, from trying their hands at it.

In fact, Ryan snags someone each year. He just rarely keeps them.

The Twins potentially lost two pitchers in the major league portion of today's Rule 5 Draft, with closer Kevin Cameron being picked up by the Padres, in the first round, and reliever Levale Speigner being picked up by the Nationals in the second round.

Of the two, Cameron probably has the best chance to stick with a major league club. He was on the fast track for Minnesota a few years ago until he was derailed by injuries. In fact, Pat Neshek was sent down to High A Fort Myers as he was not getting enough time behind Cameron in AA New Britain. But Neshak is now in the majors, and Cameron took over for Neshak in Rochester after the Minnesota native was pulled up to the majors.

He got a bit of a showcase in the Arizona Fall League, posting a 1-1 record with a 8.59 era, but on the whole he can be solid. Cameron was 6-4, posting a 2.98 era with 9 saves, 53 hits, 26 BBs and 65 Ks in 66 IPs with Triple-A Rochester.

Speigner split time between New Britain and Rochester this year, allowing 5 home runs in 40 games in AA, but is considered a good prospect. He throws a low 90s fastball and a solid curveball, but his projection into a major league bullpen right now is kind of questionable.

Meanwhile, Ryan claimed infielder Alejandro Machado from the Nationals. Machado's numbers were not stellar in AAA Pawtucket: .260/.356/.346 with 21 SBs in 373 at bats. Nor is a change of scenery likely to make a difference, as he's been traded four times in the last five seasons. Still he may be an insurance policy if Jason Kubel is not ready to play next season after undergoing surgery for a torn meniscus at the end of November.

Machado played with the Florida State League's Brevard County in 2004, and entered professional baseball in 1999 with the GCL Braves. He DID hit .300/.359/.379 in 117 game in Pawtucket in 2005, but on the whole, the likelyhood of Machado staying on the Twins roster is going to be slim and will depend on the injury situation.

In the Minor League portion of the draft, the Devil Rays claimed Erold Andrus from the Twins in the first round, with the first selection. Andrus was acquired from the Yankees last spring and spent the season with the Fort Myers Miracle. He's a decent enough fielder but hit only .207 with the High-A team in 198 at bats.

Also gone from the Twins system is left handed pitcher Justin Jones, who was claimed by the Nationals. Jones started the season in AA New Britain, but struggled and was demoted to High A Fort Myers. He continued to have some problems, and did not look like the lefty ace he was in 2005. I had asked him if he was injured, and he said no, but shortly thereafter he was placed on the disabled list with a shoulder ailment.

He was supposedly activated to AA New Britain at the end of the season, but never went, as he was sitting in the stands for the Miracle's play off game against Dunedin.

I rather liked J.J. and wish him well with the Nats. I was hoping to get him to sign and 8 x 10 for me in spring training, but I don't want it bad enough to drive over to Spacecoast and find him.

Meanwhile the Twins took right handed pitcher Jesse Floyd from the San Francisco Giants in the first round and 3rd baseman Brian Buscher, also from the Giants in the second round.

Floyd, who pitched last season for the AA Connecticut Defenders is expected to join the Rochester Red Wings this season. The 6'5" native of Nederland, Texas, had a 4-14 record with a 4.00 ERa in 25 games (135 innings) for the Defenders. The Defenders were woeful last season, finishing 15.5 games behind Norther division leading Trenton, and half a game ahead of the Twins affiliated New Britain Rock Cats, which were cellar dwellars all season long.

Buscher also played for the Defenders last season. He hit .259/.321/.366 in 467 at bats with the AA team. This is an interesting pick up, as I was expecting Matt Moses to play for triple-A Rochester and David Winfree to handle 3rd base in double-A New Britain. Buscher's entrance into the system might mean the Twins have lost faith in one or the other of their current prospects. Winfree, the Twins 2005 minor league player of the year hit only .176 in the Arizona Fall League this season, but three of his 12 hits were for home runs and four more for extra bases. He also had 17 RBIs in 21 games and slugged .382.

Moses hit .297, but only hit 1 homer and drove in only 13 in 21 games played. Moses has spent the last year and a half in AA working on his batting, which was only .249/.303/.386 last season in 474 at bats.

It may be an interesting contest for third base this spring training down in the minors.

The Twins finished off their involvement in the winter meetings with out much activity, although there were several staff changes. Rob Antony was promoted to Director of Baseball Operations and Contracts and will now work in the contract negotiation role as well as taking care of his previous duties. Just in time to, as we get into the arbitration period and the Twins have several contracts to renegotiate.

Also Perry Castellano was named the Major League strength and conditioning coach. (Great going Perry, but I'm going to miss seeing you around the GCL games.) Perry has been the minor league strength and conditioning coach for the past six seasons.

The Twins also added Lee MacPhail and Kenny Compton to their scouting staff. There was no word on which territories they would be covering. MacPhail was recently with the Nationals organziation as Director of Baseball Administration while MacPhail, the nephew of former Twins general manager Andy MacPhail, has worked previously with the Twins organization.

Today was also the last day for the teams to offer salary arbitration to players or risk losing them to free agency. Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Nick Punto, Mike Cuddyer, Lew Ford, Jason Tyner and Juan Ricon are all eligable for arbitration this year.

Twins fest starts on January 26th and major league pitchers and catchers report on February 18th for the start of spring training.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Hibbing, revisited

Eli TintorJoe, my little friend from Wisconsin, was asking about autographs from Fall Instructional League -- mainly Parmelee, Benson and Brandon Roberts, but he included some words about Eli Tintor as well.

"Also watchout for Eli. He's got pop he hit 3 homers this two weeks that ended up game winners. I was there for the first, he was estatic. He had a smile from one ear to the other. I talked to him the day after and he said he didnt know how long it be before it ever happen again like that. a few days later in the playoffs bang. So watchout hes a 'Special Player'."

As if anyone needs to tell me about Eli. Tintor was drafted into the organization as a cather in the 18th round of the 2003 draft and played the 2003 and 2004 season with the Gulf Coast League Twins. 2004 was kind of a special season for him, as he got loaned up to the Miracle partway through, in part because the organization was a little thin catcher wise with Joe Mauer hurting his knee at the major league level.

Generally speaking, I'm tickled to death when we get any of the GCL boys on the Miracle squad, but I loved having Eli up. I bounded over to the gift shop, got a Miracle ball and had him sign it for me. Still have it too, and it's the only autograph on that ball.

Eli was a little tickled about being called up as well. "It was everything I could have imagined — playing in front of 1,000 people and all that stuff," he told his hometown newspaper.

He got to play in seven games before they sent him back down. "It was brutal (going back). Now I have to be up at 6:30 a.m. to be on the field by 7 a.m. With the Miracle, we were on the field at 3 p.m. I'm down a little bit, but I got the experience."

He was here when Terry did a group sales with the French foriegn exchange students, a game which left my friend Aaron majorly pissed off as they were seated in our section. They knew nothing about baseball, where all dressed like little tarts and refused to stay seated during the game.

And when I say they knew nothing about baseball, I mean NOTHING. They had to give them sheets with with lyrics to take me out to the ball game on them, so they could sing the seventh inning stretch.

However, they did enjoy getting this pictures taken with "real baseball players" and while Eli may not have been Derek Jeter, he was the next best thing as far as these girls were concerned. So I did get a laugh, watching him down on the field with girls just dripping all over him as he kept possing for pictures.

(If you want a laugh, ask him about the incident.)

He was here for Hurricane Charley too, an experience for anyone in the GCL class of 2004.

"We were right in the middle of it," Tintor said, again to his hometown newspaper. "There were 130 to 140 mile per hour winds. It was pretty nuts.

"Trees were down. Wires were down," Tintor said. "Houses were torn down. I guess there were casualties, too.

"Some stoplights came flying through the parking lot. You couldn’t get outside without getting hit by debris."

The boys lasted four days without electric and there had been some talk of transfering them over to the clubhouse to stay instead of at the host hotel, but it never came to that.

Lots of experience all in one year. I was pretty bummed when he was back with us for extended in 2005 but in the end he went up to Elizabethton. I has hoping they'd move him to Beloit, but his batting, .228 in GCL, probably wasn't up to snuff.

He did well in Elizabethon though, hiting .281 and earning Appalachian League Player of the Week honors. He was considered the the third string catcher at the time although some of his fans felt otherwise about the situation. But the bat is the key thing and the bat was coming around.

I told him that in spring training this las year too. As long as you can hit...he assured me he had the batting thing figured out. Evidently he did. It was the catching thing that was a problem and Eli was moved to the outfield for 2006 as a member of the Beloit Snappers.

I have no clue how his fielding was (10 errors seems like a lot for an outfielder, even in Beloit) but he hit .285 with 12 home runs, making him second on the team behind Erik Lis in the home run department. 54 RBIs sent him third in the team in that department was well. Not a bad plate perforance at all.

So he's here for Fall Instructional League to work on his fielding skills and perhaps I can now look forward to him gracing the Miracle roster again -- even if it is as a outfielder. I'll have to ask him how he likes being way out in the field, as opposed to being part of all the action behind the plate.

Of course, on a personal note he's a fun guy too, especially has he kept telling me that he's from so far up north -- Hibbing, Minnesota -- that it never unfreezes up there and they play baseball on ice covered fields all of the time. I'm quite certain he's pulling my leg, as I've since heard that it does unfreeze, for about a month and a half over the summer.

And that yes, air conditioners are luxery items in Hibbing and the only people that have built in swimming pools have them so they can play hockey on them in the winter. I wonder if he's every played hockey. Shall have to ask him that as well.

So, I'm hoping to get autographs for Joe at Fall Instuctional League (if I survive that long) and I will certainly keep an eye on his "special player", Eli Tintor.

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Joe Growl-aur

Jim Rantz showed up Monday -- it was "Got it at a Thrift Shop Night" at the game -- and they were giving things out that they'd gotten from Goodwill.

One of the items was a large stuffed sheep. The fan that received it, had a blast with it and was holding it up and shaking it throught the game. It was one of those spontaneous things that was brilliant.

Anyway, they were saying the sheep is going up on as "Miracle Sheep" etc, etc. etc.

And of course I told the staff that I thought the sheep was brilliant.

In any case, I come in tonight and the staff had a very large stuffed golden teddy bear for me, which Andrew delivered with his little son A.J. following behind, eyes all a goggle.

The sheep was about 5 pounds, the bear is about 15 or so. It's going to be a bit tougher to animate him. But that's okay, I needed some exercise in my life.

Anyway, I really didn't have an agenda for tonight but several of the GCL boys showed up and I thought I'd go sit with Jim, just to weird them out. However, that's when I got waylayed with the bear. And the boys were leaving at that point.

I go and say hi to Jim anyway who looks at the bear and says "Don't bring that to Gulf Coast League tomorrow."

Hadn't really planned on it, but it will likely still be in the front seat of the car.

After I went back to to my seat, one of the bat boys came to talk to me and then well...

We tried to come up with names for the bear. Now, I believe I've got a Miracle T-Shirt that will fit him and the Miracle hat I bought at the yard sale this winter is a couple of sizes to big for me, but I should be able to tack it onto his head at a jaunty angle.

Anyway, later, I was talking to Chris our concession guy, and he said "How about 'Miss-A-Bearicle'?" which is a play on the mascot's name. I said no and added that I thought it was a boy bear in any case.

"Well, what does he like to do?"

"Come to Miracle games, obviously."

"Then I think you should name him Joe Growl-aur."

So Joe Growl-aur it is. Now all I have to do is find a little mitt for him.

Once I get him dressed, I'll post pictures.

And open up a account for him.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


I took yesterday's game at the Edgar Popowski field yesterday as my "rehab" start and will return to the Miracle games this week, in part because the Hummerheads are coming into town I keep hoping that they will bring Travis Bowyer with them.

I realize that is is unlikely to happen, but a girl can hope can't she? (Yes, I know, if you're a pitcher I will always tell you I will only love you until the next fireballer comes along and I can be very fickle that way, but Trav is well....He's my Bowyer-friend, you know? The stories I could tell about that guy!)

Anyway, I get down to the field and it's locked. So I head over to the front office. The old guy that comes to all the games is sitting in his car. "Is that locked, or just latched."

"It's locked," I say. "Latches wouldn't stop me."

So I thump into the BoSox front office with all my Twins gear and a guy comes out of the back room eating a piece of pie. "Can I help you with something."

"The guest enterance is locked," I inform him.

"Oh, we'll get that taken care of right away."

Took about five minutes but they did finally find the right key and open the gate.

"Sorry for the delay," he says.

"It's okay, 20 years ago I would have just climbed the thing, but I'm not up to that anymore. Besides, the poor fellow in the car with the walker wouldn't be able get in unless we got it open."

They've actually done a nice job on the BoSox Complex over the last three years. There's now a couple of concession stands and what looks like a merchandising booth, none of which are open during GCL games and which are likely only there for Spring Training when the BoSox are in town.

The bathrooms are very nice though and those are open. Especially since in the past all we used to have there was Port-O-Potties.

Michael Cowgill is looking for the bathroom. "Oh, you go around the corner there and there's this trailerrr...." one of his teammates is telling him. "You're in for a treat."

"Don't let him fool you," I tell him. "The bathrooms are really nice."

"I was just telling him..." Ya, but it's the way you were telling him.

Cowgill comes back a few minutes later. "Those ARE really nice." See.

If you're planning a trip to Fort Myers, make sure you stop by the Red Sox Training Complex on the end of Edison Avenue and check out the bathrooms. They're worth the visit. If the gate is locked, make them open it for you.

(Assuming of course the trailer lasts through the next hurricane.)

Loek Van Mil comes over and sits down. He tells me he's feeling under the weather. I can sympathize with this. Even though the weather was a bright and sunny day.

So he's not making his starts this week and will only pitch a few innings out of the bullpen. Good. Well...not good that he's sick, but good that I won't have to feel too bad about not being able to take off work to watch him pitch.

With all the time I have taken off I feel I need to be in the office for a whole week at least before I beg off another day for a ballgame.

Above offer of only loving you until the next fire baller comes along not withstanding, he's already fended off a crush on Dave Bromberg's slider and still remains my favorite in the rotation, so he's doing well. I shall be remarkably unhappy when he goes to Betsy.

Dan Leatherman and Justin Staatz both went to Elizabethton however. We signed lefty Adam Revelette out of the University of Kentucky to replace one and we are receiving Walt Patton back from Elizabethton.

I didn't really understand the promotion as his stats last year weren't all that great. 3-1 with a 7.43 era in 17 games (23.0 innings).

Walt's a nice kid, but he struggled last year at times. Loek says he had a tough extended as well.

I did rather like Abby's blog in which she said "I'd also like to say that I am terribly sorry, Mr Patton, but I fear you have no future in baseball. I know tonight's walks were probably not your fault, but the fact is you've only pitched .2 innings and you have an ERA of 135. That is not good. I am so very sorry."

I saw him make one very good outting but all the rest he needed work on. Hopefully he'll improve and (more hopefully) he's not injured.

We have enough injured boys around this place. Speaking of which...

Jeff Schoenbachler and Kyle Edlich come by. "When are you going to Minnesota?" one is asking the other.

"If you boys want to go to Minnesota, I wish you'd do it the right way already.

"You," I point at Mr. Edlich "Should be pitching in Triple A at least and YOU..."

Oh...don't get me going on Schoey. On July 10th, David Winfree played third base for the Miracle for the first time. YIPPEE!!!!

Jeff Schoenbachler has already broken my heart however, as I seriously doubt he's going to make it the Miracle in another year. Maybe if I'm luck he'll get here for his fourth-pro year. If he ever gets healthy again. ::sigh::

Bowyer was a fourth-yearer, although Bowyer's problems weren't related to his health, but to his control. Now he's out with arm problems too. How depressing.

Mr. Gassner made his first rehab start however and did pretty well, 1 run on 2 hits with 2 strike outs in 2 innings worth of work. Pity we couldn't make that ninth inning rally stand. Although he'd left the park by that time.

At least with Schoey and Edlich I will not have to worry about being left alone. A crowbar couldn't get those kids out of this city right now.

"Well," one says "See you tomorrow."

"No you won't. It's Sunday, you get a day off."

I'm hoping that someone takes Benson and Parmelee off and that they go....bowling, fishing, golfing, to the beach or something suitably fun, get out of the wretched little hotel rooms and relax. The pressure on those two kids is incredibly intense each time they step up to the plate. You can feel it in the air.

They need to get away for baseball for a day and do something fun. Mr. Fox, if he were here, would take them golfing. I miss Mr. Fox. He's a good guy.

Meanwile, Dear Mr. Van Mil:

I realize I have been tied up in my own problems for a while and forgot to offer to make you homemade chicken soup. I'm sure it will take care of your stomach ailment as it's been known to cure just about anything. (Except arm injuries, sorry Mr. Edlich & Schoenbachler.)

If you would like some please let me know. Please take care and get well soon.

(I'm sorry, I realize that oversight was quite unforgivable.)

Anyway, I started writing this all yesterday and accidently deleted it. Now it's Sunday and I really MUST go do laundry as there's a lot of it this week.


Sunday, July 9, 2006

Twins! (by the numbers)

The GCL Reds have two guys on their roster named Cabrera -- Angel and Enmanuel. The Pirates have a De Los Santos on their roster, a short stop with the first name of Jose.

Meanwhile the GCL Twins have their own shortstop named De Los Santos, his first name is Esterlin.

The GCL Twins have a Matthew, Mark, Loek and well, Juan on the roster, something the Miracle can't lay claim to. But the Miracle did have Jesus (Merchan) and (Matt) Moses at one time on their roster last year.

They do have an Angel (Garcia) and were only missing a "Mark" for a full house earlier this season.

The most popular given name on the GCL Twins this year is "Joe" although Acosta goes by Jose and William Benson goes by his middle name of Joe.

Through Extended Spring Training, it was "Danny" with Danny Hernandez, Danny Berg and Danny Sanitestban. Now we only have one "Dan" Leatherman, a free agent signee out of the University of West Virginia.

The average height for a GCL Twins player is 6'1". The shortest is Michael Cowgill at 5'9", the tallest is Loek Van Mil who tops out at 7'1".

The average weight for a GCL Twins player is 192 pounds. The scrawniest player is Esterlin De Los Santos, who weighs only 155. The heavyweights on the team are pitchers David Bromberg and Justin Staatz. Both of them weigh in at 230 pounds.

The average age of a GCL Twins player is (not suprisingly) 19. The oldest player on the team is Michael Cowgill, who turns 23 on July 21st. The youngest is Joan "Turtle" Ortiz, who is just 17.

Note that if you take the fielding out of the picture, the average height of our pitching staff is 6'4", the average weight is 199 pounds and the average age is 20.

The Twins travel a total of 398.6 miles weekly for games. Over the course of 9 weeks, that totals out to 3,587.4 bus miles totaled on the season.

The shortest trip the Twins take is to the Boston Red Sox Players Developmental Complex, a short hop of 10.5 miles on way or 21 miles round tip. The longest trip is to Pirates City in Bradenton, a trip of 101.6 miles (1 hour 35 minutes) one way, or 203.2 miles round trip.

The only other trip the Twins take during the course of the regular season, is to Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, 87.2 miles one way (1 hour 20 minutes) or 174.4 miles round trip.

Twins batting is currently 8th in the 13 team league, with 79 runs on 114 hits during 493 at bats. Their pitching record is slightly worse, 9th in the 13 team league with a 9-6 win/loss record and a combined era of 3.64.

7'1" righty Ludovicus Van Mil is ranked 14th in the league with pitchers who have pitched a minimum of .8 innings per game. He has a 2.03 era with 9 walks and 8 strikes outs in 13.1 innings.

Loek Van Mil is not just a "tall guy", but may be well the tallest guy in his family. His father is tame 6'8", his mother tops out at a lowely 6'1" and his older brother is a mere 6'6". And yes, any one of them would fit in well with our tree toppin' pitching staff.

Second round draft pick Joe Benson is 12th in league with a .308 batting average, acquiring 16 hits, 9 runs in 52 at bats through 14 games.

Twins birthdays this month are Eric Santiago (July 10), Dan Leatherman (July 12), Juan Delgano (July 18) and Michael Cowgill (July 21). A very Happy Birthday to all our July Twins.

None of our Current Twins are a "twin" per say, but Elizabethton Twins catcher Jeff Christy is a quadruplet, one of the famous Christy Quads, the second documented case of quadruplets in the state of Nebraska.

That about wraps it up for this edition of your GCL Twins by the numbers.

Have any fun facts about the GCL Twins you'd like share? Just e-mail me at and I'll get them into an upcoming issue of Twins (by the numbers).

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Baseball Advanced Media

Some days I just want to collect all my toys, pack them up, quit, go home and not play anymore. Usually the reason for this is disgust, which is the current problem.

I'm disgusted with Baseball Advanced Media. For those of you not familier with the situation it goes something like this:

MLB decided they wanted to cash in on the fantasy baseball crazy by protecting their stats. That means other places can't have them or use them for Fantasy Baseball. Copyright laws by the way state you cannot copyright a list of facts and figures so basically, stats can't be copyrighted. But MLB will try...oh yes, they'll try.

Then they decided to take it one step further and put Minor League Baseball on the same system. So now, all scoring is done through Baseball Advanced Media (aka BAM).

To a certain extent, as far as the fans are concerned it's great! If you can't listen to the game you can at least check the stats while the game is in progress. How this is actually handled on a club level however...

Well, according to Sean, the broadcaster for the Fort Myers Miracle, Benn - the Miracle statistician - calls into BAM at the end of each inning and gives them an update on what is going on. This is then entered into the computer and published on line. Needless to say, sometimes the person on the other end of the phone gets it wrong, and so Benn then has to call back in, usually at the end of the game, and get it corrected.

Sometimes I have to tell Sean to tell Benn if I notice something erronious, but, Benn is pretty meticulous.

Rather unfortunately, this has not been the case with the scoring for the GCL Twins.

Let's take the roster for example. The Twins drafted a Michael Cowgill in the 40th round, signed him, and sent him down to play Gulf Coast League. He's listed on the roster as Thomas. Okay, so maybe he's trying to change his name now that he's playing professional baseball, but everyone down at the park still calls him Mike, not Tom. Meanwhile "Esterlin" De Los Santos has suddenly become "Starling" De Los Santos. I mean, I don't know, maybe the Twins media guide is wrong but...

Then there is "Jon" Staatz, who is in fact named "Justin" Staatz. It took me a while to track him down, but when I went up to him and said "Hi, who are you?", he was definate about being a Justin.

Finally there is my new little buddy Dan Leatherman who, up until just today, was listed as being 5'11", 175 pounds and 30 years old. (He's 6'2", 195 and he says he's 22, by which I think he's 21 going on 22.)

You know, I spell one kid's name wrong and I get a nasty gram from a parent or girlfriend about it. I'd like to see a few of them send nasty grams to BAM.

Then there are the boxscores. On Saturday they missed a positional change. On Monday they missed a pitching change. I mean, okay, maybe I'm wrong and it wasn't Garcia on the mound, maybe it was Carreras, but it sure as heck wasn't Schoenbachler. (Jeff's just NOT THAT TAN, if you take my meaning).

Loek gets off the mound and is disappointed because we have the score at 4-2 when in fact it was 4-3, but I had Chris Parmelee's parents, some people from Joliet come to see Joe Benson and one of the players brother in the bleachers with me and we were all talking back and forth. So I lost a runner. It's easy to do. But to miss an obvious pitching change?

Then there is the questionable entry on June 28th where they have Brad Tippett pitching .01 innings and taking the loss. The next day they have him down for a save after pitching another inning.

I'm not saying it didn't happen, I'm just saying it's unlikely the Twins allowed him to throw on two consecutive days.

And I know for a fact that he pitched the 29th as I was there, but I don't think that loss on the 28th belongs to him.

Meanwhile, if I'm right it was Garcia and not Carreras that relieved Schoey on Monday, and I'm pretty sure I checked the roster just to be sure, then he certainly didn't pitch the following day in Sarasota so that was someone else. say, you're nitpicking.

You're right, I am. But these kids play down here in relative obscurity with almost no coverage. Is it too much to ask that the coverage they do get be correct?

And I know whoever is doing the stat work, is not calling back into BAM to correct things when they go wrong. So then this stays on their professional record?

I dunno. I think we had problems last year too, so maybe I should see if I can figure out if a erronious stat from last year (and I think I marked the errata on the boxes) is listed in the media guide that way.

And maybe by next year Michael, Esterlin and Justin will all be Thomas, Starling and Jon in the media guide as well.


But you know, if I did pick up my toys and pack it up, who would provide the right information to the general public? And granted, I'm not perfect, not even close, but when I do see something wrong on the site, I fix it.

Not so with with BAM it seems, as there is no one to complain to.

Maybe Saturday I'll ask Milt or Jake about it and see what they say.

Chris ParmeleeMeanwhile and speaking of Parmelee's folks...

We got on the subject of Angel stadium. They live close enough to see both the Dodgers and the Angels, but prefer the Angels. I don't blame them. That's a beautiful stadium.

They also said he prefers wood bats to aluminum and that he'd played in the summer wooden bat leagues for a couple of years.

"That's good," I said. "Because if he can hit the high school with a wooden bat, I'd hate to see what he can do with an aluminum one."
I think that's going to be our new little bit when he comes up to bat. "Common Chris, hit the high school again!"

"Let's go Parmeleeeeeeeee!!!!! Out of the park and into the football stadium!"

I'm sure we can come up with a few more as we go along.

The current concessious -- and we don't have a tape measure on that -- but we think that first home run went like 420 or 425 feet. He wasn't just over the fence. He was WAY over the fence.

When we were talking out of the park on Saturday I said to Knappy "I love Joe Benson. He's a great little player."

"Yeah, he says, "and that Chris Parmelee isn't too bad either."

Naw....he's an overachiever, is what he is.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Goodbye Kid

So...I have this head cold, you see, and decided I needed to go see Dr. Bromberg (2005 RHP D&F) pitch today in an effort to cure it as I don't want to be sick for the four-day weekend.

Chris Parmelee

Number 1 comes up to the plate, first professional game, first professional at bat and nails it -- not just over the little fence, but over the big fence and out into the street. That thing would have been gone out of any ballpark, major league or otherwise. Everyone's just standing there, not saying anything watching this kid trot around the bases.

Finally the old guy in front of me, turns around and says "Who was that?"

"Chris Parmelee, " I said, with a bit of awe in voice. "The Goodbye Kid."

And then I did my best impression of a Blur song.

He walked on his next two at bats, and then struck out for his fourth at bat.

So -- if a visit to the good Doctor Bromberg didn't cure me, the single shot over the left field fence by Nurse Parmelee certainly did.

Man...that was one of the prettiest things I ever have seen. I think at 1.5 mil, he may be a bargain.

Joe Benson

2nd Rounder Joe Benson. I love Joe!!!!

Tyler Robertson

3rd Rounder Tyler Robertson.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Hanging with the Boys

Monday night, which was the first game back from All-star break I was sitting in the Resop's seats and Miracle GM Steve Gliner had come over to talk to me about the All-Star game.

Kevin Slowey was holding court over behind the plate and we watched for several innings as people came by and paid their resepcts. I had the All-star shots, so I figured I should go and pay my respects as well.

Several of the GCL boys had showed up as well, including Loek Van Mil, who showed up alone and left alone. I don't get that -- they usually travel in packs and he doesn't strike me as the lone wolf type.

Anyway, Kyle Aselton was sitting in the row in front of Slowey and Brian Duensing was on Slow's left. So I came in from the right, nod at the GCLers as I go past and go sit down next to Aselton.

"They take that arm off yet?" I ask him. I haven't seen him since he went on the DL, so I've no idea what they've been doing to him.

"That's not nice!" Slow says. "You need to be nice to him!"

"Who every told you I was nice?" I shoot back. This backs Slowey up for a minute.

I fish out Slow's All-star shots and hand them back to him.

"Besides, I love Kyle. He's Ace. I don't call too many players around here Ace. Do I Ace?"

Aselton laughs.

Being my favorite is a tough job, but you know, someone has to do it.

"Are these from the All-Star game?"

"Yeah, your father broke my hand."

"Yeah, well...he has this Rambo thing going on..."

"After he left they people behind me wanted to know who that young man was. I told them it was your dad. 'That young man Kevin Slowey's Dad?' they said."

"Yeah, he's well preserved. Like I said he has this Rambo thing going on.

"Here we go, this is my All-star delivery," he says, showing a shot to Duensing. "This is my favorite."

"Let me see." He shows me the worst one in the lot.

I say "Tell Duensing not to worry about dropping his first two starts. Tell him how many games it took you to pick up a win."

"Too many," he says. Like six or ten."

"How many wins do you have?" Aselton asks.

"Four," Slowey says.

"That's it?" Aselton doesn't believe that.

"Well I keep blowing them late."

"You get no decisions," I point out. "You don't blow anything." I look at Aselton. "Three guys, nine pitches on Saturday and he says he blows things."

"Are these all nine pitches?" Slow asks.

"Your teammates hate you," I said. "I can't figure out why, you're such a nice guy."

He doesn't argue this one with me. "Let me see the rest of the pictures." I had them back and admonish him not to get the out of order.

"Of course, they don't hate you as much as Garza. They hired an assassin to take him out of the game."

"THAT was painful," Slow says, as he gives the rest of the pictures back.

So then I said goodbye to Slowey. "I'm not going anywhere," he says.

"You're going to New Britain."

"No, only Casilla went up."

"Well, you need to go too."

"No I don't. Besides you only have four starters, they put Powers back in the bullpen."

"What about Colby?"

"He's still in the bullpen."

I look at Aselton. "Well, Ace here is coming of the DL."

"Not for two more weeks," Aselton says.

"I'm staying here for the rest of the season," Slowey says.

"No, you're not."

"He got Twins minor league pitcher of the month," Aselton says.

"I did not," Slow returns.

"He got FSL Pitcher of the Week," I say, "twice".

"I'm going to win Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Month and give it to him," Aselton says.

Riiiightttt. He offers to go up to New Britain and sit on the DL.

"You should go up to New Britain and take pictures," Slow tells me.

"They have a photographer. He's not as nice as I am."

"Figures," Slow says. I have no idea what Duensing is making of this whole conversation and I'm not sure I care.

I decided I had to leave at this point as I'd been down there a LOT longer than the break between innings. I'm surprised none of us got yelled at.

"Don't worry," Slow tells me, "You'll have lots and lots of time yet to waste your film on him," he says in regards to Aselton. I don't consider it a waste, actually.

Anyway, I saw Aselton later in the concession line and we had a serious conversation on his arm, but he stills says two to three weeks.

That's the last time I've seen him, because we got the card sets on Tuesday and I've been trying to find Aselton because he needs to sign his card.

I don't see where having a sore elbow should prevent him from operating the camera or charting or something similar.

So, I went back up the stairs, gave Van Mil shots -- I had a lot, since I'd snapped that one week, forgot to pace myself and had nearly shot a whole role of him before I realized what I was doing.

Spoke briefly to Joe Benson, who's a total sweatheart of a kid -- and he can swing a bat too! What is it with the second rounders, that they are always so nice?

God, if Chris Parmelee comes in and is an ass I'm going to be so unhappy. Moses was such a prick when he was here. Garza was alright, but I heard he'd become a much bigger prick when he got to AA.

I hope that doesn't happen to Slow either, and that he stays as nice as he is now.

Span is real nice, but he's a Florida boy, so of course he's gonna be nice. He's almost a local Florida boy too. Plouffe is real nice.

Anyway...Aselton was an 11th rounder (2004). (I guess I should scan the card in for Eden, as I'm sure she'll want to see it.

So Eden says the nickname post was the funniest one I've done in along while and that she will definately be calling the guys by those nicknames. I'm sure that will go over really well, especially if you tell Pleasing Pie Miss Dianna made them up. LOL!

She also says "Sexy Poohbear is, well, just that (definitely my fave by the physical factor)."

You keep your grungy little mitts off Sexy Poohbear.

Of course, she's not the only one who noticed because ETwins also said "So tell Brandon McConnell any good?" which I thought was a loaded question.

Okay, okay, okay....Brandon was drafted in 2003 and missed the whole 2004 season with a torn labrum. But when I walked into spring training in 2005, I noticed him right off the bat. How could I not? He was to die for. Besides, he was standing there in his rookie whites grinning at me.

Which made me very, very nervous. We finally determined it was a case of mistaken identity, but that didn't stop him much. Anyway, they finally made him cut his hair, and in retaliation grew the mustache. I hate those things. If you want to do nice full goatee, fine, I like goatees. Mustaches don't do a damn thing for me.

I don't like David Gassner much, but the goatee is great. Really.

It's okay, Brandon is still my buddy, and I miss Sexy Poohbear very much and he won't set up a myspace account so I can't stay in contact with him. ::cry::

(Just think...he could!)

Um...anyway, in answer to ETown's question, if you can get him to shave off the caterpiller under his nose and grow his hair back to surfer length again...yeah...

He's not just good or even "any good".

He's to friggin' die for.

Saturday, April 8, 2006

Starting off Slowey

Kevin SloweySaturday night was not a good night to watch baseball. It was the Miracle season opener and as always they double sold the stadium so that there would be a good crowd. General Admission tickets were given out free at Publix supermarkets and you could upgrade to box seats for $2.00. I should know better than to go to opening night.

However, as they always do on opening night, they’ve got a stud pitcher on the mound which I cannot turn down the chance to see. This was no different. So I put up with the crowds, the kids, and the non-baseball people milling around in the aisles trying to sort of out which of them should be sitting in seats they all had tickets for because I just had to see Kevin Slowey pitch.

What little I saw of the pitching, I watched from the walkway behind the handicapped seating. At least everyone there was sitting down. And it was well…stunning. Magnificent. It left me wanting to see more. Slowey pitched a perfect game through five innings.

What I found interesting about this is that Slowey does not seem to consider himself the sort of guy that’s going to throw a perfect game. He puts his balls down in the zone and he tries the get the batters to hit. He then relies on his defense to get the outs for him. Yet he struck out his first batter…and half of the other fourteen he faced. Does that sound like a guy that relies on his defense?

Slowey likens himself to the Twins' Brad Radke. Or perhaps, more accurately he tries to be like Radke, a guy that relies on his positioning to get the outs. This is similar to what the Miracle fans saw with Nick Blackburn last season.

Blackburn, by the way, did not look so good in his first outing of the new season with the Rock Cats, giving up five earned runs on 8 hits in 4.1 innings. Still when I watched Blackburn over spring training, an outing in which he allowed two hits, but struck out three in two innings worth of work, how much he looks like Radke when he’s throwing.

And Radke, not so strangely enough, is one of my favorite MLB pitchers. So perhaps it’s not surprising that I’m drawn to both Blackburn and Slowey.

(In Blackies’ defense, I simply cannot imagine trying to pitch in near freezing weather. I still remember what it was like, bundled up in old Cleveland Municipal Stadium trying to watch a game when it was that cold with the wind blowing in off the lake.)

The main thing note with Slowey is the deception in his delivery. The coaches have all praised him, stating he’s been getting better as he goes along, but Slowey pretty much opened up his professional career by striking out 7-of-8 to pick up his first save last June in Elizabethton. Being a college pitcher, the Betsy Twins were using him out of the bullpen to start to give his arm a rest. He finally started his first game in Beloit later on in the season, and it’s been all starts since then.

If he can continue this kind of performance, he won’t be long in High-A ball, although certainly, it will be interesting to see if he can continue to dominate with the tougher game schedule of pro ball in his first full year of it.

Both Matt Garza and Kevin Slowey are facing that same challenge. Despite their age, they are youngsters in terms of experience. Yet we’ve seen quite a few college pitchers move fast through the Twins system in recent years including Scott Baker and Jesse Crain. Slowey and perhaps Garza could be the next two, although Glenn Perkins might see his chance in the majors by next season.

Right now the starting pitching rotation in Fort Myers is phenomenal. In six weeks though, it will be gone. However, the next homestand is only a couple of days away and you can be sure I’ll be there, drinking down the nectar of the Twins’ minor league pitchers with my eyes.

Notes: 3B David Winfree had bone chips removed for his elbow and will be regulated to DH for the next month. C Javi Sanchez has been catching in the bullpen and could be activated off the DL by the end of the next homestand (April 13-19). Jose Mijares has had shoulder problems but is expected back with the next week to ten days. Mijares, a 2002 free agent signing out of Venezuela who first came to the States in 2004, is on the Twins 40-man roster and is projected to move quickly through the system as well. Righty Jay Rainville had season ending surgery earlier this week and will sit out the season. The injury prompted the Twins to move lefty J.T. Thomas down from New Britain to start in Fort Myers. Kyle Waldrop was not considered ready for the jump to High A, but will likely make it to Fort Myers midway through the year.

Questions, Questions: Where is Brent Krause? Unless he’s on the DL with Beloit – and the Snappers are not listing their disabled players, he’s been released. While he was on the Fort Myers “break camp” roster, he did not make it to the first workout on Wednesday. Miracle broadcaster Sean Aronson assures me he is NOT with the High A team right now.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Crying Time

Lots of cuts were made this week, starting with catcher Bryan Kennedy on Sunday. While intellectually I knew he was never going to make it, and that if not cut last year he'd go this year, it was still tough to take.

But I like Bryan as a person and not as a catcher. That's sort of the funny thing, some of the players that weren't going to amount to anything, are the ones I end up liking the best.

Rob Bowen was claimed off waivers by the Detroit Tigers. Not really a surprise, I figured he'd have to get out of this organization to get a chance anywhere, especially after Shawn Wooten and Steve Lomansney were picked up as free agents. We know Chris Heintz is the starting catcher for Rochester, but I'm wondering if they'll go with three catchers in Rochester again this year.

Bowen was kind of my first Miracle love, not be cause he was that good, but because he was that good looking. Play wise I liked Gabby better. Bowen was using the goalie style mask at the time and kept losing the balls. He looked like a big chicken out there, scratching in the dirt all of the time.

Matt Yeatman was also released. I kept waiting for him to have his break out year, but he was probably better in 2003 for the Miracle than he was in 2004. He made it to the Rock Cats, but got moved back to the bullpen. I understand the Brewers picked him up. I still think he can make something of himself. Aside from missing Matty, I will miss his wife Robbie. She was totally cool!

What can I say about James Tomlin? Great on the basepaths, but not with a bat. Could of been the next Willy Mays, but he couldn't learn to hit. And you've got a log jam in the outfield.

Josh Gray...still not sure why they even brought him into training camp this year. I was surprised he wasn't released during the offseason. Nice guy, but after a quick start for the Miracle, it was all down hill.

Jan Granada and Daylan Childress I'm sort of ambivilant about. They were free agent picks ups.

What worries me is the names I don't know yet. Who's gone that I'm going to cry over. And believe me, I'm sure there are is a guy or two that has gotten released that I'm just going to say "WHY?" over.

Meanwhile, I have to come to terms with the heartbreak of who we don't have on the Miracle -- once I found out who that is. For example, if I look at the catching (again), a post today said that Phillips and Morales were catching for New Britain. That would move Geiger and Javi Sanchez down to the Miracle, but then De San Miguel goes to Beloit and you've got catchers coming up from Elizabethton that want to go into Beloit.

Grrr...well, tomorrow I'll have a much better idea once I get the updated roster. And yes, they will put a bunch of guys into extended and cut some from there in June, once they've drafted. Oh...the heartbreak!

I'm depressed and I might end up being more depressed by tomorrow evening.

I guess I'll watch Altoona take on New Britain tomorrow as I'm not going to Bradenton to watch the A teams and GCL is just working out. Sunday is the game between Rochester and Minnesota in Hammond and I've got a ticket for that. Kind of looking forward to all the pomp and circumstances. Next Wednesday is the season ticket holder party, and Thursday the Miracle open on their season on the road. The home opener is Saturday night.

I THINK the first Extended game I can make is Saturday, April 15th vs. the Blow Sox. I'll I've to get into work early if I'm to make that one though.

In the meantime, I'm trying to work on the GCL player profiles, because I'm hoping that will keep me occupied and keep me from being too depressed.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Woody's Fan Club

Johnny Woodard is 6'4" tall, he's 205 pounds of solid muscle and he sports a tatoo on his fore arm that reads "Super" with a star underneith.

He plays like a superstar too, with a power bat, a good glove on first and a threat running the bases. Let's just say he's not the kind of guy you'd want to find coming at you if you were a catcher blocking home plate.

Woodard is currently in the work group for the New Britain Rock Cats, but there's a good chance he'll be sent to Fort Myers to start the season.

In any case, he was playing in the game Sunday as the New Britain Rock Cats defeated the Portland Sea Dogs, 5-3.

Sitting in the stands or perhaps more appropriately laying on the ground were these two little girls, probably about five and six, dressed up in princess pink and purple. They were at that age where they could still amuse themselves by making castles of peanut shells and catching microscopic ants to be the knights they sent to defend them.

They were both adorable as heck.

Woodard, who hails from Fairfield, California is also quite black. These little girls, were the very much white.

And they amused themselves with the peanut shells, pebbles, and ants until Johnny got into the on deck circle. Then they would both look up a say "Hi Johnny!" in unison.

Woodard would wave at them, and smile.

When he got up to the plate the girls would chant "Go JOHNNY!" together. Unfortunately, this did not help him at the plate as he struck out and lined out in the game.

They left with their parents after the fifth when Woodard got done playing.

He must have the youngest fan club in professional baseball!

For the Betsy fans who read my blog, I got to see Ryan Mullins pitch on Saturday and was very impressed with him. The bit of leg action he has going there was amusing. His father was in attendance at the game too.

Pictures from the contest including Joe Nathan (because well, he's Joe Nathan), Caleb Moore for Andy, Danny Santiesteban for his brother, Eddie, Toby Gardenhire for the Cleveland fan who wants him to play there, Dusty Bensko for his Mom, Travis Kalin for old times sake and Sean Richardson for me can be found on the Kodak Gallery.

I had much fun this weekend, but I got done and felt like I need a day off to recover. Unfortuantely, if I had a day off, I'd just go down to the ballpark again.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Today's stupid question comes from

He writes, on the GCL Twins website:

"Do the players ever ask why you're at the ballpark so much? It could border on stalking!"

Actually no. Usually they ask me why I'm not at the ballpark more often. They "kind of" understand having to work, but still think it "sucks" that I can be there to watch them pitch on Tuesday.

Not to mention Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

I wasn't aware that being at one GCL game a week - usually on Saturday - constitutes stalking.

As for being at the Miracle games, well...I'm a season ticket holder. I'm pretty sure the Miracle want me there every game so I can spend my money on concessions and the like.

In fact, if I miss a game, someone -- be it a player, staff memember, or fellow fan -- always wants to know why. I feel like I need to bring a note from my mom that I was sick. Or perhaps my cat, since my mom does not live with me.

"I'm sorry, my personal assistant could not attend the game on Tuesday afternoon because she was busy feeding me." Or working to earn her food and those special little shrimp treats she likes so much.

Last year, Jannio Guiterrez wanted to know if I was coming on the road trip to Spacecoast with them. When I said no, he wanted to know why not. I was there in the 2003 season, so I should come this time as well.

The fact that Jannio REMEMBERED my being there in 2003 is a problem. It means he's been in High A ball for too long.

Do I rearrange my schedule to get to the games? You betcha. In fact, I got into the office at 7:00 AM on Saturday so that I could get my mandatory four hours in so that I could make the noon start.

So, we started at 12:30. Floyd "Sugerbear" Rayford says we always start at odd times when we play the Orioles.

How often do I bother the coaches? Generally never unless they bother me first or I have a question that needs answering, and then at the most maybe 5 minutes.

How often do I bother the players? They bother me more often. Especially during spring or extended spring training. They find this to be amusing. They all want to get on the website.

Do I have a life? Of course not. I'm a tax professional, it's tax season. I'm at the office 24/7. When would I have time for a life?

So, now I've answered all of your questions, I've got one for Mr. Mindbender. If it's a spectator sport, why wouldn't they want spectors at the game?

Monday, March 20, 2006

Spring Training Sunday

Tony Oliva watched part of the game with us today. Molly (Paul Molitor) doesn't bother me, but I find myself in awe of Oliva and it's really hard to watch a game when he's around. I think it's because I grew up watching Oliva. He's the only coach we have that flakes me out (totally) when he's around.

One of these days I'll work up the nerve to ask him for an autograph. I've got all the rest of the Twins' HOfers. But knowing me, I'll probably do something stupid like sink down to my knees, and say something like "Mr. Oliva, would you do me the honor of signing my poor, pathetic baseball."

I have to wonder if this is one of the reasons the guys don't pay a lot of attention to baseball history, because they know they're going to have to work with some of these great players sooner or later in their career and don't want to be over-awed by them.

We (Fort Myers) won 6-4 over Lynchberg. I think the funniest part of the game was when Kory's dad asked me the score, and I said, "We're two up but I'll tell you in a minute" as I grabbed my camera and bounced up to take pictures of Chris Brown.

When I sat down again, I explained. "Brownie played for our college team ("Florida Gulf Coast University" one of the players wive's supplies) and he's a bit of a local hero." They understood this, as their son is a bit of a local hero in Beloit.

Then I look at my scorecard and I say "6-4".

"6-3" the wife argues.

"No," I say, it's 6-4."

"He's 6-3," she tells me rather nastily.

I looked at her and said, "Oh, I'm sorry. I thought we were talking about the score, which is 6-4. Not how tall his is."

The media guide lists Brownie at 6'2" and I'll stick with that. I'm hoping he makes the Miracle this season, but...unless they cut Zamijc (pronouced as Z'amich) --which I wish they would, he's mostly useless-- we'll have Woody and Zamijc at first base.

On the whole, watching games with the wives/GF's is very annoying as they are all more interesting in how even their tan is, vs. how their boys are doing in the field. Some are my friends. Cassie got to a game late and I gave her the run down so she could "pretend" she was there on time, so now she's my friend forever. Some are just very annoying. Some I love more than the players. I don't care if Matty's on the team, but I want Robbie to hang out all year long. LOL. (Okay, that's not really true. Matty's my favorite pitcher, but I don't really care if he's pitching in New Britain, I think Robbie should hang out in Fort Myers.) Other ones, well...If one of "my" guys latch onto a girl I can't stand, I'm going to have to talk to them about it. So far, it's not happened.

Meanwhile, Tommy's mom, Anna showed up and sat down next to me. "He's not here," I say. "They went to Bradenton." She disagrees. He called her up and said they were playing at home, so he hurried over from church. Evidently, she was right. They (the Triple A guys) played a scrimage against the Double-A guys on field one. I didn't even look over there as I thought they were playing at Bradenton. ::shrugs::

In any case, she points at the field and says "Who are these guys."

"Fort Myers, you know, the local team your son played for for two years and that issued a bobble-butt for?" Oh yeah. She starts to take off and I say "Oh, yeah, be anti-social. Like we only like you for your son." She comes back and sits down cowed. I love Anna more than I love Tommy, and I know she doesn't quite understand that. I met her because of Tommy, but I would love her even if Tommy wasn't part of the picture.

Given a choice between the Wives/GF I'd take the parents as a whole as being the much cooler group. Too many gold-diggers amongst the the W/GF group, but then again, I'd have missed some meeting some tremendous people if I went by that rule.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


I went to watch Fort Myers take on Lynchberg, although this is a preseason game and a lot of these guys won't be with the Miracle when the season starts.

Ah, but Eli Tintor has been assigned to the Miracle workgroup. I'd seen him last week for pitchers and catchers, but I got to talk to him today. I just adore Eli, I really do.

He comes bounding out on the field for practice, sees me, waves like crazy and is like "Hi, how have you been?"

"Good, Eli. It's good to see you again, buddy."

And it really was.

He comes down to the end of the dugout after drills and sits, so I went over talk to him.

I said "You had a really good year in Tennessee." He LOVED Tennessee. He loved the fans, he loved the stadium, it was so enthused about the whole experience.

I mentioned "his" website and he blushed, but he really loved it too.

I said "I really love this color shirt on you," plucking the sleeve of his blue pullover. "It would be nice if it stayed on your back."

He remains optimistic, but I think he'll start the year in Beloit and tell him so. "That catchers' meeting when Cliburn was telling you guys that there wasn't quite the log jam at catching that there was in the past," I say ryely. "I was wondering what organization's depth chart he'd been looking at."

He laughed and said "Yes, but good things come if you work hard." Ah, so he's bought into the program.

"Work on your batting, that's the key."

"I have that", he says. Feiner doesn't and much as I like Kory, I'd rather Eli behind plate because Feiner just doesn't not swing a stick well.

Strangely enough I ended up sitting with Feiner's parents behind me. But I think they saw me talking to Eli and understood why I was going crazy when he went up to bat.

It was just kind of weird as they're like "Well, of course we want them to all move up..." Do we?

Okay, granted, I'd like to pick my own players, but you've got to take the bad with the good. Not saying that Kory is bad mind you, he just needs to work on his hitting some (.188 at Beloit).

I really need to try to have Tint over for dinner before he gets shipped off to Beloit.

Anyway, Fort Myers defeated Lynchburg 6-4. David Winfree hit a home run to lead off the fourth. David Shinskie surrendered a home run in same inning. It was a bad move putting Shinskie in to pitch after Matt Garza got off the mound. It made Shinskie look really bad. Then again, rookie FranK Mata pitched a better two innings than Shinskie did.

Hibbing had a sac-fly in his first at bat -- on his first swing yet! So while he didn't get on base, he did get a RBI!

The second time around he struck out. (Feiner hit a double that also drove in a run.)

Alexi Casilla, who we picked up from L.A. for J.C. Romero hit two triples(!) and two singles and was very impressing for a little kid (5'9", 160 lbs).

Hibbing hits!

Eli Tintor

Eli Tintor

Eli Tintor

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Rock Cats drop Bowie in exhibition game

The New Britain Rock Cats defeated the Bowie Baysox, 5-4 in the second preseason game of training camp.

Bowie took a two run lead in the second, both runs were unearned with players advancing on errors. Justin Jones took the start for the Rock cats, striking out two in the first inning. His pick off throw to Erik Lis in the second however was off target however, accounting for the first run.

The Baysox player had gotton on base on a double, one of two Jones issued up in that inning.

New Britain reliated though as Scott Whitrock hit a double to get the inning started. Javier Sanchez walked, and Justin Arenson hit a single. Alan De San Miguel brought in the first runner has he flew into first base. Sanchez was tagged out on the basepaths, but Kaulan Kuhaulua hit a single, and advanced to second on a throwing error, driving in another run.

With runners on second and third, Angelo Fermin knocked in a double that scored both, before the inning was rolled over.

Nick Blackburn allowed a double in the third that the Baysox were able to convert when Kyle Phillips missed a throw to the plate, but he otherwise pitched two solid innings, striking out three of the eight batters he faced.

Fermin hit a long double that he ran out for a triple in the fifth and came home on a sac-fly by Erold Andrus.

Bud Smith allowed a single home run in the eighth for the Baysox fourth.

On the whole, this was a really well played game for the Twins prospects, and was satisfying to watch as my first minor league game of the season. Justin Jones, Nick Blackburn, J.T. Thomas and Matt Yeatman all pitched, and I enjoy watching all three, even though J.J. still drags his foot when he throws -- the visual equivalent of finger nails on a chalk board.

Thomas and Yeatman both experienced some trouble as did Bud Smith who had to work to get three outs in the seventh.

Fielding wise, David Winfree and Angelo Fermin both had some excellent plays, but it was Larry Jones who stole the show, getting his glove on a long outfield fly which could well have gone over the fence. An excellent play by Jones who had one single for his two at bats in the game.

Winfree hit two singles in the game during his two at bats. Fermin was 2-for-3 at the plate as was Andrus, the only two players to get three at bats as the fielding changed over after the fifth inning.

I am being cautiously optimistic about having Javi Sanchez and Allen De San Miguel behind the plate for the Miracle this season. Despite his young age, De San Miguel proved he could play at the High A level last season and remains one of the most explosive players in the farm system. The burst of speed he put on the second was nothing short of phenomial, drawing cries of "WWWHHEEEEEELLLSSSS!" from his teammates on the bench.

Rochester and New Britain journey to Bradenton tomorrow, while I will likely watch the Miracle take on Lynchberg for a 1:00 PM game at the Lee County Sportsplex.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Baseball Advanced Media

I got a very interesting piece of e-mail from the Florida State League’s Brevard County Manatees regarding the redesign of their website. It seems that Baseball Advanced Media is the organization working on it. Now, you probably know BAM from They are the company that designed and built and put Yankees material on the Twins page.

The letter states “BAM is working to incorporate all Minor League Baseball team web sites into this operation, however that will be a few years away.”

Now honesty, do you really like Granted, after looking at some minor league team’s websites on the internet, having the sort of content that BAM can provide, plus the look and feel is going to be an improvement. But I honestly feel the “cloned” team sites, and I’m sorry, they are very cloned, is kind of annoying. And when you get into areas like voting for the All-Star team or the coverage for the Hall of Fame voting, reporting that impacts all of Major League Baseball, the articles are generally not written to be team specific before they are published. Additionally, if you are on a narrowband connection – and yes, I know there is a narrowband version – it either takes forever to upload, or you lose a good deal of content.

And in the end, somewhere on the page there is other MLB content. And I’m sorry, but I really don’t particularly care to have Red Sox or Yankees content on my Twins site. Nope, not even headlines for those teams. They just don’t belong there.

Now we’re looking at “cloning” all the minor league sites. In a way, this will be sad. Individuality has gone down the drain. Just like most fans quite creating and running unofficial fan pages for things and have gone over to straight blogging. And most blogs are rarely topic specific.

Which is another thing. now offers you the chance to write blogs. Great. I’d like to find a Twins blog on there, but…there really isn’t a good search mechanism worked into the site, at least not on the blog page.

Well, on the bright side, it means they won’t be pulling the Miracle page down every off-season to “rework” it.

In other news, Florida Gulf Coast University passed a resolution to go to NCAA Division I competition. The Fort Myers local college has already produced infielding prospect Chris Brown for the Twins, and that was when they were a Division III university. Baseball is one of the programs designed to be fast-tracked, making them eligible for post-season play in about three years if everything should go well. The Eagles are projected to join the Atlantic Sun Conference, which has several universities in the area (Stetson, Jacksonville and North Florida) none of which have football programs, a notable lack on FGCU’s athletic program.

However, the Eagle’s baseball program has been largely successful to date and with a large number of scouts in the area, the students they attract are guaranteed to get a pretty good look, not just by the Twins, but by many of the Major League teams who will already have scouts in the area to watch the FSL and Gulf Coast League teams that play out of Fort Myers, as well as the players who work out in the area during the off season.

The move has already drawn a lot of interest, but a number of details need to be worked out before the move can be finalized. In the meantime, the Division II Eagles prepare to take the field, with FGCU opening on February 1st against Barry University.

Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles

Outfield Jason Grove has not played baseball in a year after leaving the Yankees’ organization in March of 2005. The Twins signed Grove to a minor league contract with the intention of having him join the New Britain Rock Cats for the start of the 2006 season.

The Washington state native had played two seasons with the Trenton Thunder of the Eastern League before cutting ties with the Yankees. The Twins have promised him a swift promotion to Rochester if he can produce with New Britain. Grove can produce hits (180 hits for 619 at bats for a .291 two-year batting average), but needs to improve his long ball game if he is to contribute offensively at the higher farm levels. Grove has only hit 16 homers during his two years at the AA level.

Former minor league coach Jeff Carter has left the Twins to join the Kansas City Royals organization. Carter served as the hitting coach for last year’s High-A Fort Myers Miracle team while he helped mentor field manager Riccardo Ingram through his first season of High-A ball. Carter served as a hitting coach in AA New Britain during 2004, and was the field manager that led the 2000 Elizabethton Twins to an Appalachian League championship while winning manager of the year.

Carter, who lives in Arizona, also led the low-A Quad City River Bandits to a 256-218 record from 2001 to 2003, including two playoff appearances.

The Twins extended family wishes him well in his new endeavors with the Royals.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

That's the Ticket!

U-2 TicketEvidently, I'm not as crazy as I thought I was for hanging on to my ticket stubs. While it's not yet a huge industry, ticket stub collecting is growing in popularity and has already earned its own little nitch.

There are several products available to collectors and some of them are quite innovative.

That's My offers Ticket Frames for example. Their spiel: "You got the tickets. You went to the game. You took the pictures. Perhaps there were even hotel, airline, and rental car expenses? It may have been the single greatest sporting event you ever attended. May have been? Okay, it was the single greatest sports event you've ever seen. Your friends and family are jealous. Now you're back at work and just dying for someone to ask you about your seats, the halftime show, the bone-crushing tackle, the 500-foot home run, that birdie on 17, the diving catch, or how great a time you had. But nobody has.

"Enter the Ticket Frame from That's My Ticket the perfect item for capturing the experience and memory of being there. With your game ticket as its centerpiece, the Ticket Frame combines every aspect of attending a sports event. The headline and sub-headline trumpets the game's significance. The officially licensed 8-by-10 game photo spotlights the key on-the-field moment. The 600-word game summary illustrates the day's newsworthy events and includes post game quotes from the individuals who made history. The TMT composite stat box highlights all the game's scoring and action. And, your Ticket Frame gets personalized by your 4-by-6 photo; thus you not only get to relive the memory of the game, your Ticket Frame allows you to relive your experience at the stadium."

Nice, except, I'm not the kind of person to have my photo taken every place I go. Plus, their package, while nice, is sort of limiting. For example, I'm not going to be finding frames for the Everblades games or even the ECHL All-Star game. While fun for me, I doubt my "buddies" are going to be all that impressed that I attended. And they certainly don't have the 1997 World Series available. Besides, what would I put into that photo space?

World Series Ticket

That's My offers an alternate idea. For just a low price, they digitally reproduce your ticket(s), typically to a scale of approximately 3:1 or 4:1 onto high quality 3mm thick reinforced PVC backed card and covered with a high UV protected matt seal. Once again, you have a piece, suitable for hanging on you wall at home or in the office. They can repair damage, or add a few fake tear marks if you think what will make it look mor authentic.

Smashing Pumpkins TicketTicket collectors enjoy tickets because they are a real piece of memorabilia from a sporting event, concert, broadway show, etc. Tickets are less collected, researched and sold than trading cards, However, tickets are scarce and limited to seating capacity. The scarceness of ticket stubs translates to money value. Scarcity adds value to the price of a ticket stub. When you add the historical significance of event the value can really jump.

Ticket prices are varied and full of gaps. It takes the new collector time and effort to find their bearings. New tickets from this year All-Star, World Series or Super Bowl are expensive as people pay $100-$3,000 to attend the event and often keep the ticket. Tickets stubs from these recent events sell for about $150 a ticket stub. Even these stubs are worth the price considering the scarcity, beauty and significance.

And yes, autograph tickets have a place too. Obviously I'm not the only one getting autographs on ticket stubs. lists the factors for determining value as follows: Full ticket vs. ticket stubs. (Many venues now check your ticket with a optical scanner and do not tear it. For older games however, finding a whole ticket is very tough.) Condition: Mint, Near Mint, Fine. It should be noticed that some collectors do like the nicks and tears in the stubs. Game Results or historical value, such as Cal Ripkin's 3,000-hit game. And rare games: world series, super bowl, etc.

PSA is getting ready to offer Ticket Grading for sporting event tickets. They also plan to open the PsA Set Registry and offer a few suggestions - like all seven of Nolan Ryan's No Hitters. They have already posted ticket grading standards on their website.

NHL Entry Draft Ticket

For myself, I'm just kind of amused to have the tickets, and look back on them and say "Oh, man, I remember that game/show/event." To that end, I stopped by the scrap book store, got a journal sized book for $5.00 and have started adding my ticket stubs to the album using photo mounts. Not perhaps the most creative of ideas, but it's simple and it keeps them from getting crunched up or damaged any more than they are now.

And who knows, maybe one of these days, one of those tickets might actually be worth something.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Gulf Coast League – Game On!

Last year in August, Minor League Baseball, as well as several newspapers reported the “potential” end of the Gulf Coast League and the Arizona League (not to be confused with the Arizona Fall League). Both leagues are low Rookie A-ball; do not charge admission to the games and good information on both is pretty difficult to get. Twelve MLB teams, including the Twins, use the GCL, while nine use the AzL. The teams that use neither league, such as the Cleveland Indians, use two short-season clubs and they too, would have lost an affiliate to replace the teams for clubs that would be losing affiliates under the new system. Additionally, the short-season Appalachian League would have become a co-op league, similar to the way the Arizona Fall League (not to be confused with the Arizona League) is currently run – all of the clubs place a set number of players, say six or eight, to play on teams that are not owned by any one club.

The idea was to cut out – or at least cut down – on the prospects drafted out of high school and have the teams focus on college prospects.

I had a lot of problems with the proposed system, not the least of which is my concerns for health problems in college players – especially pitchers. Former first round draft pick Matt Fox is currently our Twins poster child for said injuries. (Fox had arthroscopy on his shoulder before the start of the GCL and was shut down after pitching only several innings in extended spring training. He will have to prove that he is healthy, and that he can remain that way in Spring Training this year, or you can write him off as a wasted first-rounder.)

Evidently I was not the only one with concerns as many GM’s had issues with the Instructional Leagues being made mandatory, what do to with their existing training complex and where to put Latin-American, Australian or Euro-Asian players that were signed as free agents, and probably not quite good enough to keep up with the college kids.

The issues regarding the closing of these leagues were tabled until the Winter Meetings. Currently there has been little or no resolution on the issues and the proposed shut down of the Gulf Coast and Arizona Leagues is not going to happen, at least not this year.

So yes, the Gulf Coast League Twins will play a 2006 season. Nelson Prada returns as field manager for the 2006 season and Milt Cuyler returns as batting coach. Eric Rasmussen was originally announced as pitching coach for the Gulf Coast League Twins. This was not a demotion; Rasmussen wanted to stay closer to Fort Myers (GCL is less travel than FSL) where he also conducts a private pitching school. However, Bobby Cuellar fled the organization for a major league pitching job and Ras again found himself as pitching coach for the Fort Myers Miracle. Ivan Arteaga, a veteran of the Mets organization, has been hired to replace him as the pitching coach for the Gulf Coast League.

No, I do not have a GCL or even an extended spring training schedule available yet. However, I have posted the Twins Minor League Spring Training Schedule which is available at the Gulf Coast League Twins website. Please remember that this is baseball and the schedule is subject to change without notice.

A couple of other notes, Joel Lepel becomes the Twins minor league field coordinator replacing Joe Vavra, who has been promoted to hitting coach for the Minnesota Twins. The Twins also announced that minor league pitchers Omar Burgos, Tim Henkenjohann, Peter Tautor, and Joe Gault were released. Henkenjohann, who hails from Germany and Tautor, from Australia were both Southpaws. Outfielder Ron Perodin and infielder Odannys Valdez were also released. Nothing here was really a surprise, although I am a little disappointed to see Gault go, I felt he had potential.

Meanwhile, I just can’t wait until March 10th! Being a former catcher (yeah, okay, even if it was softball), I LOVE pitchers and catchers camp!