Blogs > Minor Matters

Run by The Trentonian's Nick Peruffo, this blog will provide daily multimedia coverage of the Trenton Thunder.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Wow, bad times for Jose Tabata

This just came across on Sports Illustrated. It says that Amalia Tabata Pereira, 43, was involved in taking a 2-month-old from a hospital in Florida. Jose Tabata does not appear involved in any way, according to Pirates president Frank Coonelly.

Even so, this can't shine well on the 20-year-old outfielder who is less than a year removed from being the top hitting prospect in the Yankees system,

Welcome to the rivalry, Austin

Amazing as it is that Austin Jackson (as well as Ramiro Pena and P.J. Pilittere) is still in big league camp a week before the rosters are finalized, it's certainly not without merit. He has Reggie Jackson's blessing, a host of supporters in the media, and last night he gave everyone watching in person in Tampa and across the country on the MLB Network a taste of what the future has in store.

Facing Red Sox reliever Devern Hansack with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth last night, Jackson wrapped a grand slam around the left-field foul pole, his third home run and 10th RBIs of the spring.

It's the second grand slam of the spring for the Yanks, the first one coming from top hitting prospect Jesus Montero against the Pirates.

Pena also collected a hit on the night, upping his spring average to .304 and putting him into serious consideration for the major league utility job.

Coming tomorrow, the second edition of Fungoes. Keep an eye out.

Fungoes: Part Deux

Quite a bit has happened in the past few days, so let's take a second to digest it all:

Congrats, Japan: The Japanese successfully defended their World Baseball Classic crown last night in a thrilling, extra-inning victory, 5-3. Ichiro Suzuki's two-run single in the 10th off of Chang Yong Lim gave Team Japan the lead and once again put the game in the hands of Yu Darvish, the uber-phenom who has no interest in coming to America, who had entered in the ninth and given up the tying run.

Darvish showed uncharacteristic wildness in the tenth, walking two guys before finally closing the deal. The final out set off an explosion of unbridled joy from the players and their extremely raucous fans.

Considering some of the great contests this WBC gave us, I'd consider it a success. That said, almost everyone agrees that some tweaking couldn't hurt. Here's my idea: Play the Classic entirely without the U.S., with the victor facing the winner of the fall classic for a three-game set -- a true World Series.

Lyon Crowned: Chase Wright, everything is forgiven. As it turns out, even all-star closers are susceptible to the wrath of the Red Sox.

Brandon Lyon found that out the hard way last night, when he gave up consecutive home runs to Mike Lowell, Jason Bay, Chris Carter and Ivan Ochoa.

Because it's an exhibition game it obviously won't count in the record books, but it's the second time in two years (and the third time in history) that a team has hit four in a row. Amazingly, Mike Lowell was involved in the last one, too, joining Manny Ramirez, J.D. Drew and Jason Varitek in tagging Wright at Fenway Park on April 17, 2007.

Said Lyon: "These are good hitters. You're facing good hitters every day. There's outings like this that humble you a little bit, get you back to a different mind-set. Maybe you start focusing a little more."

For the sake of Tigers fans everywhere, I certainly hope so.

Boswell says Say No to Strasburg: Today's Washington Post has a column from the esteemed Thomas Boswell saying basically that, unless he lowers his demands, the Nats should pass on San Diego State right-hander Stephen Strasburg, the near-unanimous top prospect for June's First-Year Player Draft.

It's an interesting thought, for sure, but one I think is wrong.

Boswell points out that the draft has a very poor history when it comes to producing top-flight pitchers from the No. 1 slot. He's right, a lot of the great pitchers today have come from lower spots, or through international free agency.

That said, past track record is no reason not to gamble on a stud like Strasburg, who is striking out 19.24 men per nine innings this season. He's fanned 74 in 34.1 innings . Let me repeat: he's fanned 74 in 34.1 innings.

His fastball has been clocked as high as 102 mph. His curveball is already top-flight. Scouts say he could be effective in the major leagues right now.

Of course, Boswell doesn't say the Nats should totally forget the idea of signing Strasburg, just the idea of signing him at his purported demands of a 6-year/$50M contract. Of course, Scott Boras is his agent, er, adviser, so that figure is more than likely just a high starting point designed to get the Nats to "settle" for what Strasburg is actually seeking.

Bottom line: The Nats cannot afford to pass on Strasburg, no matter the price.

The Schill is Gone, The Schill has gone away: Curt Schilling announced his retirement earlier this week, making the news official on his blog, He exits the game with a 216-146 record and the second-best postseason ERA of all time, behind Christy Mathewson.

He's a borderline hall of famer, but I think that bloody sock game in 2004 (Wow, it's nearly been five years) will put him over the hump with most voters, the same way the World Series-winning blast in 1960 did for Bill Mazeroski.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Predicting the Thunder roster

I'll admit it: I stole this idea from Peter Abraham (and probably everyone else's) blog. Unoriginality aside, I'd like to take a moment about two weeks before Opening Day (April 8) to make my best guess about what the Thunder roster will look like when the season begins.

And heeeere we go:

C - Francisco Cervelli
C - Kyle Anson
C - Joe Muich
1B - Jorge Vazquez
1B - Kevin Smith
2B - Reegie Corona
SS - Eduardo Nunez
3B - Marcos Vechionacci
IF - Walter Ibarra
OF - Colin Curtis
OF - Tim Battle
OF - Seth Fortenberry
OF - Edwar Gonzalez

SP - George Kontos
SP - Eric Hacker
SP - Zach McAllister
SP - Christian Garcia
SP - Jason Stephens

P - Humberto Sanchez
P - Kevin Whelan
P - Michael Dunn
P - Jose Valdez
P - Wilkins Arias
P - Michael Gardner
P - Josh Schmidt

- At first glance that rotation is pretty nasty looking, although Kontos may well be in Triple-A. Brett Smith, who was injured all last season would seem to be the obvious choice to take his place.

- That bullpen, the lefties especially, looks pretty intimidating, especially if Whelan and Sanchez rebound.

- Carrying three catchers is unorthodox, but Tony Franklin did it a lot last season (P.J. Pillittere, Muich, Eladio Rodriguez) so it wouldn't shock me to see him do it again.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Sanchez optioned to Trenton, Thunder notebook

Per Peter Abraham's blog, big right-hander Humberto Sanchez has been optioned to Trenton. He was there briefly last season, pitching just an inning in the season's final game. He also got two innings in the big leagues in September.

I assume the Yankees will continue to use Sanchez as a reliever, as he seems to have proven himself not durable enough to continue as a starter.

Funny story about Sanchez from last season: During the postseason, myself, a couple of colleagues and Sanchez and few other Thunder pitchers were hanging out in the tunnel outside the clubhouse.

The guys in the media all knew Sanchez would be getting a shot with the Yankees in short order. Sanchez, however, didn't believe it.

One of us piped up and asked, "Hey, Humberto, ready for the bigs in a few weeks?"

Sanchez, who has a young daughter, smiled and replied, "Nah. In a few weeks all I'll be doing is changing diapers."

Lo and behold, September 18 came around and Sanchez was at Yankee Stadium pitching a scoreless inning in relief of Mike Mussina. Once October came around, though, I assume he was indeed changing many a diaper.


There's another Thunder notebook on The Trentonian Web site, this one detailing Ramiro Pena's success in Tampa, a sweet home run for Austin Jackson and an update on the rest of the gang's ups and downs in spring training.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Serendipity in Fort Myers

Austin Jackson, who is having a spectacular spring for someone who's barely sniffed Triple-A, hit his second home run yesterday. This one might have been a little more fun for Jackson because of who he hit it off -- Jason Jones.

Jones and Jackson were teammates in Trenton, and likely would have been reunited in Scranton this spring, except Jones was taken by the Twins in the Rule 5 Draft.

Jones then made some less-than-laudatory comments about the Yankees in the St. Paul Pioneer Press early in the offseason, making a possible return to the Yankees organization a little awkward.

In addition to Jackson's bomb, former Thunder pitcher Anthony Claggett picked up his first spring win in relief of Phil Hughes.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thunder get their rings

As seen in today issue of The Trentonian, last year's Thunder players (at least those at the minor league complex) received their championship rings from the 2008 season. Some, like pitcher Mark Melancon, who played significant time for the Thunder and the S/W-B Yankees, received two rings: One for the Thunder and one for Scranton's title.

Also in The Trentonian is an article written by yours truly updating some of the Thunder's performances during the spring. There's a stat box in the print edition, so go pick up a copy and keep up with all your heroes from last season.

The Trentonian will be putting out a special Thunder section on April 6. The section will contain in-depth details about the players, a dissection of the team's comings and goings since the end of the ELCS, analysis of the team's chances for a threepeat and much more.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Don't look now, but Kei Igawa has pitched a shutout

OK, granted, it is over a series of games, but here's Igawa's line for the spring: 9 IP, 0 R, 4 H, 2 BB and 6 K.

Could he emerge as the Yanks' best option at long reliever? Right now the pool of candidates includes Igawa, Jason Johnson, Brett Tomko (who's also had a decent spring) and, in spots, Phil Coke.

What do you think? If you were the Yankees, would you trust Igawa as the long reliever? Would you trust him at all?

Update: Ryan Madson, meet Austin Jackson. The former Thunder center fielder reached the Phils' setup man for run-scoring single in the ninth inning of this afternoon's 12-0 Yankees win at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla.

Jackson is now hitting .280 on the spring with a home run and 2 RsBI.

Welcome back, Zach

Over on Peter Abraham's blog there's welcome news for the Yankees and perhaps the Thunder: Zach Kroenke will be back.

Kroenke, a left-hander from Lincoln, Neb., was returned today by the Florida Marlins, who selected him in the Rule 5 Draft.

He split last season between Trenton and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, posting a 7-0 record with an excellent 1.17 WHIP and a sparkling .190 BAA in 53.2 innings.

There's a good chance he'll be back in Trenton sometime this season. He was one of three members of the Thunder taken in the Rule 5. Reegie Corona and Jason Jones were the other two.

Jorge Vazquez update: The future Thunder first baseman went 1-for-3 last night with a run scored in Team Mexico's 8-2 loss to Team Korea in the World Baseball Classic. Team Mexico takes on Team Cuba at 11 p.m. this evening, so keep your eyes peeled for Vazquez.

From late-night boredom, a question

In thumbing through my extensive cache of old Sports Illustrated baseball articles, I came across one written about Evan Longoria in the March 3, 2008 issue.

The article, written by Ben Reiter, contains an interesting detail, revealed to Reiter by Rays' GM Andrew Friedman, about the team's draft board in 2006.

Friedman reveals that Longoria was their first choice, but it's the next three names that I find interesting: Behind Longoria on the Rays' board were Brad Lincoln, Andrew Miller and Tim Lincecum.

Lincoln was taken 4th, by the woebegone Pirates, and has posted a 6-10 record with 94 Ks in 127.2 innings and a WHIP of 1.32. Lincoln will turn 24 this season, so he still has time to turn it around. So far, though, not very impressive.

Miller, along with Cameron Maybin, was one of the co-centerpieces of the trade that sent Miguel Cabrera to Detroit. He flashes ace-quality stuff at times but still hasn't quite put it together. He'll also turn 24 this season (four days before Lincoln, in fact), so the jury's still out.

Lincecum, well, we all know Tim Lincecum:

Last season, he:

- Struck out 265 batters.

- Was responsible for a quarter of his team's wins.

- Had a WHIP of 1.17 and an ERA+ of 167

- Allowed 72 runs. The rest of his team allowed 687.

So, the question here is: Knowing what you know now, would you rather have Longoria or Lincecum?

I'd take Lincecum simply because I believe an ace starter is the most important commodity in baseball. There are 30 teams and maybe half of them have true aces on their staff.

What do you think?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Peavy on the BoSox?

In Nick Cafardo's baseball notes column in today's Boston Globe, Boston first baseman Kevin Youkilis had some kind words for Padres pitcher and Team USA teammate Jake Peavy, even going so far as to say he'd be a nice addition to the Sox' rotation.

Of course he would. He'd look nice in any rotation. Problem is, Peavy, whose name has come up ad nauseam in trade talks this winter, has very vocally expressed his reticence to pitching in the American League.

My question is: What would Boston, which has a LOADED farm system, have to give up to get Peavy?

My guess is it would take two top pitching prospects, i.e. Clay Buchholz, Michael Bowden, Justin Masterson or Nick Hagadone, and one or two lesser position-player prospects, perhaps a Josh Reddick, Zach Daeges or (if you keep him at shortstop) Casey Kelly.

That's an awfully steep price, but Peavy's an awfully good pitcher.

If I'm Theo Epstein, I offer Bowden, Anderson and Reddick, mostly because with Youkilis and Ellsbury in place at first and center, Anderson and Reddick may be without a position. Thus, they are expendable.

What do you think?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

What a day in Bradenton!

The Pittsburgh Pirates clearly are no match for the Yankees' minor leaguers. Of the 10 runs the Yanks scored through the seventh inning, eight were driven in by top Bombers prospects.

Some of the details:

- Austin Jackson hit a two-run home run, his first of the spring, off Denny Bautista.

- Uber-catching prospect Jesus Montero also notched his first spring home run -- a grand slam, no less, off Chris Bootcheck.

- Former Thunder shortstop Ramiro Pena had no hits but still managed to drive in two runs.

- Both Jackson and Pena stole a base.

It wasn't all rosy for the Yanks' prospects, though. Mark Melancon, the reliever whom most predict will succeed Mariano Rivera at closer, had possibly the worst outing of his career.

His line: 2/3 innings pitched, 6 hits, 5 earned runs, 1 walk, 1 strikeout and 2 home runs. Not pretty, but I guess even Melancon is due for a bad day now and again. To put it in perspective, Melancon allowed just 24 earned runs in 95 innings pitched last season.

All in all, a pretty nice seven innings for some of the boys in Bradenton.

UPDATE: Our long national nightmare is over, folks. Kevin Russo has a spring training hit. He got a single late in the game, going from 0-for-17 to 1-for-18. Good for him.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Pujols, SI daring me to believe again.

I want to believe Albert Pujols is steroid-free. I really do.

Problem is, though, that many, many others whom I've wanted to believe have let me down.

Alex Rodriguez, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Rick Ankiel (especially Rick Ankiel), Jason Giambi and a host of others.

Four years after the strike of 1994 McGwire and Sosa gave the game a much-needed power boost, injecting (perhaps not the best word) the game with 136 home runs of fan-drawing power. Their chase captivated a nation. Moreover, their chase captivated me. I still have the sports pages from The Oregonian chronicling both men's assault on the record books.

McGwire finished with 70, and it seemed that was that. Maris had been annihilated. No one, it seemed would come close to challenging McGwire's mark for a very long time.

In 2001 came Bonds, then BALCO, and ultimately, burden for baseball.

Another phenomenon hit the landscape in 2001. Pujols, after a largely uncelebrated amateur career and one whizbang season in the minor leagues, introduced himself to America in stunning, nearly unprecedented fashion.

That year Pujols hit .329/.410/1.023 with 47 doubles, 37 home runs and 130 RsBI. Since then, Pujols has had no dropoff. None.

For the last eight seasons, Pujols has been a model of consistency. He's never hit lower than .314, never OBPed lower than .394, never struck out more than 93 times (and after his rookie season, never more than 69 times), never hit fewer than 32 home runs.

He's been almost too good. I watched A-Rod do the same thing, albeit with many more strikeouts. The Yankees third baseman, too, was a model of consistency and frankly, it got my hopes up. I wanted someone to destroy Bonds' tainted record, and I thought it was possible without steroids.

I mean, Hank Aaron hit 755 without juicing, why couldn't someone else? Why not A-Rod?

Of course, February and March came around and Selena Roberts and David Epstein blew the lid off A-Rod's big secret, exposing him as a cheat just like all the rest.

So now, with Pujols, the question is always in the back of my mind: Is he for real?

Then yesterday, waiting for me in my mailbox was the most recent issue of Sports Illustrated, with a cover story about Pujols by the always-excellent Joe Posnanski, explaining to me exactly why I should believe.

The story was detailed, emotional, and above all, believable. It showcased the slugger's interminable will to be the best (just as this story did in 2006) and his overpowering love of service. It painted him as a truly great human, someone kids can finally look up to and hope to one day emulate.

Pujols and Posnanski certainly swayed my opinion, but not fully. The damage of the last 11 years will not be easily undone. A few more years without any severe peaks or valleys (or positive tests) from the Redbirds' most recent slugging first baseman, though, would go a long, long way toward the cause.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Fun with PECOTA

If you're a stat nerd like me, then you probably picked up the Baseball Prospectus Guide to the 2009 Season. It's packed full of goodies, but at the top of the list has to be the PECOTA projections.

For the unfamiliar, PECOTA stands for Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm and is a complex formula, devised by BP's Nate Silver, that takes into account all sorts of factors to make educated guesses about what a player will do in the upcoming season. Those guesses are usually pretty accurate, which is what has driven BP to the forefront of the baseball analytical landscape.

Toward the back of this year's book there is predictive leaderboard based on the PECOTA projections. The usual suspects are there: A-Rod, Pujols, Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, etc. One name that shocked me, though, is Matt Wieters.

Anybody who follows minor league baseball or the Orioles with any sort of regularity knows the masses have Wieters pinned for stardom almost immediately. BP, however, took it one step further, projecting he will be among the leaders in nearly every offensive category.

To wit: BP predicts Wieters for a line of .311/.395/.939, along with 31 HR and 102 RBI.

They project he will:

- Lead the league in Wins Above Replacement Player (WARP) with 7.9, edging Grady Sizemore by 0.9.

- Have the top Value Over Replacement Player (VORP) for a catcher -- and sixth-best overall -- with 59.6. Considering that the leader is Albert Pujols', with 87.8, that's pretty darned impressive.

- Come in fifth in the majors in BA (he'll win the batting title in the AL) and EqA, ninth in HR, OBP and RsBI, tie for seventh (with Ryan Braun) in runs scored.

That's quite a lot to heap on a 23-year-old, but if the hype is true, then he'll have no problem living up to everyone's lofty expectations.

BTW: He's hitting .409/.435/1.107 with a home run and five RsBI in 22 spring training ABs. AL East, you have been warned.

Other interesting predictions from BP:

- Chipper Jones will lead in BA, Ryan Howard in HR -- with 40 -- and Pujols will top the league in RsBI, with 124.

- Brett Gardner will steal 32 bases, trailing leader Jose Reyes by 36.

- Your Isolated Power leader will be --shocker!-- Adam Dunn.

- Rich Harden will lead the bigs in Ks, ERA and WHIP, with respective totals of 235, 3.04 and 1.12 -- yet he'll have just 13 wins.

- Jayson Werth will lead the league in VORP for a right fielder, and Elijah Dukes will come in second.

- The best VORP for a rookie pitcher will be (everyone together, now) Brett Cecil of the Blue Jays.

- Joba Chamberlain will have the third best stuff in the league, ranking behind Harden and SF's Tim Lincecum.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

WBC Upset for the Ages, Thunder Notebook

Yesterday's upset of the Dominican Republic by the Netherlands was the biggest in sports history.

It was bigger than Douglas over Tyson, more monumental than USA over Russia in 1980, more shocking than Chaminade over Virginia. It was all these things for one reason: the Netherlands had to beat the D.R. twice.

Sidney Ponson was their ace. I'll say it again, Sidney Ponson was their ace.

The Netherlands couldn't get a hit out of the infield in the first game but still won managed three runs. They managed just three hits and struck out 14 times against Ubaldo Jimenez, Pedro Martinez, Tony Pena, Rafael Perez and Damaso Marte last night, but were able to get to Carlos Marmol -- a man who's made some of the best look like amateurs -- in the eleventh for two runs, enough to fell the giant and advance to the next round.

Conversely, the D.R.'s star-studded lineup managed just seven hits against guys named Stuifbergen, Smit, Cordemans, Neuman, Markwell and Boyd -- none of whom have thrown a major league pitch.

Together, they stifled a team making a combined $82,400,000 this season. Combined, the players from the Netherlands will earn just $400,000 this season.

I went in to the World Baseball Classic a blank slate. I didn't care who won because, ultimately, the games mean nothing. I was rooting for players more than teams. Italy's Francisco Cervelli, Mexico's Jorge Vazquez, Canada's Philippe Aumont -- those were the guys I wanted to succeed.

Now, though, I would be hard-pressed to say I'm not rooting just a little bit for the biggest underdog the world has ever seen.

Thunder Notebook: I wrote a Thunder notebook for today's issue of The Trentonian. It covers what I did earlier about Vazquez and expands with some updates with an update on Cervelli -- the Thunder's opening day catcher, and some notes on how last year's Thunder (and Brett Gardner) are doing in spring training. I'll post a link in a couple of hours.

For now, though, here's a picture of Cervelli to tide you over.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Vazquez provides Mexico some WBC Thunder

If you were paying attention last night you got a glimpse of a powerful new member of the Thunder.

Jorge Vazquez, a first baseman who will turn 27 on Sunday, was obtained in the offseason by the Yankees from Quintana Roo of the Mexican League. He's listed on Trenton's roster and will likely open the season as its starting first baseman, taking the place of released Cody Ehlers.

He's also the designated hitter for Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. Last night against Australia, Vazquez provided most of his team's punch.

The 6-foot-2, 230-pound Vazquez went 1-for-4 with a grand slam and two runs scored as Mexico fell to Australia, 17-7.

It's a small sample size, to be sure, but last night's line might provide a bit of hope to a team that hit the fewest home runs last season in the Eastern League.

After a day off, I'm back

Well, a lot has happened in 24 hours, especially in the world of the Yankees.

The team and Alex Rodriguez, in conjuction with Dr. Marc Phillipon in Vail, Colo., have decided their best option was less invasive surgery. Instead of four months, A-Rod will miss 6-10 weeks. Obviously, this puts the Yankees in a much better position and gives them a much different set of options regarding how to replace his production.

The first and most likely option is to use a guy like Cody Ransom for the first month and a half. He's shown himself this spring, and in a small stint with the Yanks last season, to be an at least adequate replacement for A-Rod. As a matter of fact, Ransom went yard in his first two at-bats as a Yankee. Other in-house options include Angel Berroa, former Mariners farmhand Justin Leone and Triple-A third baseman Eric Duncan, a former top Yankees prospect.

This, to me, seems like the best solution. It doesn't cost you anything and leaves less of a mess to clean up when A-Rod returns. Going out and trading/signing someone would only further complicate the logjam of players between Scranton and the major leagues.

That brings us to the second option, which is, you guessed it: Go trade for someone. Probable low cost options include guys like Mark Teahen in Kansas City, Bobby Crosby in Oakland and Hank Blalock in Texas.

Again, while these guys might give you better production than would Ransom, Berroa, Leone or Duncan, their cost vs. ultimate playing time once A-Rod returns makes me want to lean toward just toughing it out for six weeks or so. Despite what the John Kruks of the world think, the Yanks' lineup is plenty potent, even without A-Rod.

Mark Teixeira, Xavier Nady, Nick Swisher, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui are plenty of power for now.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Updating the A-Rod situation, plus a few other tidbits

Well, it seems as if A-Rod's injury could be even worse than originally feared, or better, depending on how he holds up to a regimen of rest and exercise, instead of surgery.

With the surgery, A-Rod would be out for four months, dealing a major, major blow to the Yankees lineup. His absence would put a world of pressure on newly acquired Mark Teixeira, not to mention the rest of the pitching staff.

Here's my idea of the Yanks' lineup without A-Rod.

1- Damon - LF

2- Jeter - SS

3- Swisher - RF

4- Teixeira - 1B

5- Posada - C

6- Matsui - DH

7- Cano - 2B

8- Ransom - 3B

9- Gardner - CF

It's not the scariest lineup in the world, but it's certainly not the weakest, either.

Fun with suffixes: I know, I know. Who in the world could have fun with suffixes??? Hear me out, though. Hardcore baseball fans in the mold of, say, a Tim Kurkjian or a Rob Neyer might find this interesting.

The suffix -mbo is one of the rarer suffixes in the English language. In fact, based on some admittedly cursory research, just one MLB player has ever had a name ending in -mbo: Pete Rambo, an outfielder for the Phillies at the turn of last century.

Yet, if the boys over at Baseball America are correct, we could see two such guys playing against one another in short order.

The Dodgers' top prospect is outfielder Andrew Lambo, taken in the fourth round of the 2007 draft. He projects to hit for power and average, somewhat in the mold of an Andre Ethier-type.
In 508 at-bats over two levels last season Lambo hit 18 home runs and drove in 91 runs.

Elsewhere in the state, the Angels' No. 8 prospect is Mark Trumbo, an extremely powerful first baseman selected in the 18th round of the 2004 draft. Trumbo, 23, clubbed 32 home runs and racked up 93 RBI over the course of last season.

Point is, after having just one guy with a name ending in -mbo over 130 years of baseball, we could see two playing on the same diamond (in interleague, of course) in just a matter of time.

Thunder tidbit of the day (Disclaimer: Thunder tidbit will not be daily): When you look at the numbers their hitters posted last season, it really is amazing that the Thunder won the Eastern League crown.

Trenton was the lightest hitting team in the league -- by far. Of their 1,262 hits last season, 902 -- 71 percent -- were singles. By contrast, their opponent in the ELCS, the Akron Aeros, had 69 percent singles in 2008.

Two percent may not seem like a big difference, but consider this: The Aeros had 395 XBH to the Thunder's 360.

Trenton beat Akron in doubles, 263 to 240, but fell short in triples and home runs -- 32 and 65 to 41 and 114, respectively.

Those numbers, perhaps, are the best testament to just how good the Thunder's pitching was in 2008.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Breaking: Alex Rodriguez needs surgery, will miss 10 weeks.

As first reported by ESPNDeportes and Enrique Rojas, Alex Rodriguez needs surgery to remove a cyst on his hip and will miss 10 weeks while recovering. The news was reported to ESPNDeportes and Rojas by Rodriguez's brother, Joe.

Here's the link:

Obviously, this deals a major offensive blow to the Yankees for the first month of the season. The Yankees can't find anyone who will deliver close to Rodriguez's firepower with the bat, they just can't.

What they can do, however, is find someone who will contribute solid defense and hit in the bottom third of the lineup. His name is Mark Grudzielanek, and he's a free agent. Sure, he's primarily a second baseman, but he's versatile. In his career he's played 1,108 games at 2B, 626 at SS and just 31 at third.

In 85 games with Kansas City Grudzielanek made just 4 errors and hit .299/.345/.744. He's no A-Rod , but he's a better option than Cody Ransom, Angel Berroa or Eric Duncan.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Thunder schedule is out

Per a Thunder's press release:
(Trenton, NJ) - The spring training schedule for the Trenton Thunder, the Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees, will get underway on Saturday, March 21st against the Altoona Curve, the Double-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Thunder spring schedule will consist of 14 games against other organizations. There are also two days in which intra-squad games are scheduled.

Additionally, I wrote an article in today's Trentonian about the spring training schedule, former Thunder pitcher Jason Jones having some harsh words about his former organization and an update on some former Thunder players showing their stuff with the big club in Tampa, Fla.

Here's the link:

Andrew Brackman and Mark Melancon did their part against the Braves in Orlando today, tossing two shutouts in a 3-2 loss.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Morning Roundup

Morning, everyone. There's a lot going on in the baseball world. Let's take a trip around the league and see what's new.

Jeter faces the Yankees: For the first time in his career, Derek Jeter will be batting against the New York Yankees. Of course, it's as a member of Team USA and not, say, the Red Sox.

Jeter and the rest of the American squad will face off against Phil Hughes, Phil Coke, Mike Dunn, Jose Veras, Eric Hacker, David Robertson and Kanekoa Texeira. Depending on their respective attitudes, it could be a real thrill for some of those young guys to pitch against superstars like Jeter, Dustin Pedroia, Jimmy Rollins, Chipper Jones, Brian McCann, Kevin Youkilis, David Wright, Ryan Braun and one of my favorites, Adam Dunn.

I just hope the guys evaluating the team take this lineup into consideration when the younger, less experienced hurlers get bombed.

On the other side of the coin, the Yankees get to face Roy Oswalt, a welcome test after days spent beating up on lesser, probably minor league-bound pitching.

The game is on MLB.TV and YES, so take a look, if you can.

Changes afoot for Team USA: The United States yesterday lost outfielder Brad Hawpe, as well as pitchers Joe Nathan and B.J. Ryan for the entirety of the Classic, and will be without new Angel Brian Fuentes for at least the first round.

Replacing them will be Joel Hanrahan, John Grabow and LaTroy Hawkins. Not exactly the scariest pack of relievers, but they'll have to do at this point.

Cabrera signs with Oakland, Nomar close: The Oakland A's have added veteran Orlando Cabrera to their mix infielders, probably to compete with oft-injured Bobby Crosby for the starting job. Cabrera, 34, hit .281 with 8 home runs and 57 RsBI with the White Sox last season, and also went 19-for-25 in stolen base attempts.

Cabrera provides Oakland a welcome change from Crosby, who hasn't been the same since his Rookie of the Year season of 2004. Of course, last season was the first since '04 that he has played in more than 100 games, so the potential may still be there.

Perhaps the clearest indicator of each man's value is his VORP: Cabrera's last season was a respectable 18.6; Crosby's, however, was a dismal -0.6. Their EqAs were .253 and .233, respectively, and their MLVrs were -.073 and -.178.

Put simply, Cabrera is an upgrade over Crosby, but not by much.

The A's are also close to adding a second bat to their infield, Nomar Garciaparra, whom Bobbie Dittmeier of reports is closing in a one-year pact to travel to the Bay Area.

Garciaparra, entering his 14th season in the big leagues, hit .264/.326/.792 in 163 AB with the Dodgers.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Okay, so maybe I was wrong. Maybe.

It seems all is fine in Metland, for now.

Johan Santana threw a bullpen session today and said he felt fine. The MRI that had been ordered for Santana has been cancelled. Whether he's actually feeling fine, or trying to tough it out for the sake of the team remains to be seen.

Pitchers have been known to do similar things.