Blogs > Minor Matters

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

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ortiz and Ramirez on "The List"

More names: Michael Schmidt of the New York Times is reporting that David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez are on the list of 103 names that tested positive for steroids in 2003. As Chris McKendry astutely points out, 2003 was the year Ortiz signed with the Red Sox on the cheap.

Big, big kudos to Schmidt and the Times, who seems to always be the one breaking these stories.

Heath Bell to the fish? Fox Sports is reporting that the Marlins and Padres are in talks that would send closer Heath Bell to Florida for a high-level pitching prospect like Sean West or Andrew Miller, both left-handers and the latter of whom was originally the centerpiece of the Miguel Cabrera/Dontrelle Willis to the Tigers trade two offseasons ago.


A minor move: As I type this Josh Anderson has been dealt from the Tigers to the Royals for cash considerations. Anderson is a fourth-outfielder type who's put up a batting line of .242/.282/.597 in 74 games this season in Detroit.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

I love the last few days before the non-waiver trading deadline. All the rumors swirling around players like Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Jarrod Washburn, Victor Martinez, Adrian Gonzalez and Heath Bell just makes me giddy.

For instance, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports have reported that the Phillies have offered a package of Jason Knapp, Lou Marson, Carlos Carrasco and Jason Donald for Cliff Lee. So you're telling me they can get a Cy Young-winner for a package that includes NONE of the players the Jays wanted for Halladay? That's insane. If Ruben Amaro swings this, Broad and Pattison should be renamed Ruben and Amaro.

Where does that leave Halladay, though? My guess is if the Phils pass on him, he gets dealt to the Red Sox, who, although they are in the same division with the Jays, have exactly the kind of prospects available to deal. Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard, Lars Anderson, Justin Masterson, Michael Bowden and Junichi Tazawa all could be tantalizing options for J.P. Ricciardi.

Speaking of Halladay, a scout told me the other day that the team within the division that has the most viable prospects for a possible big-time deal is the only one not trying to make a play -- the Baltimore Orioles.

Of course what the Orioles lack is the money and success on the field to get Halladay to waive his no-trade clause, but their system is clearly the most fruitful in the AL East. Some combination of Matt Wieters, Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta, Brad Bergesen, David Hernandez, Brandon Snyder and Jason Berken would certainly trump anything the Yanks, Rays or Sox could offer.

Keep it here for all the latest coverage as the trade deadline nears, and remember to follow me (jnorris427) on Twitter.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wow, if you thought the real Mets were bad ...

Stumblin and rumblin: Check this out. Apparently the Mets VP of Player Operations, Tony Bernazard, removed his shirt and confronted the Binghamton Mets, calling infielder Jose Coronado something that rhymes with wussy.

Here's the New York Daily News story. If this is true, and there's really no reason to believe it's not at this point, then Bernazard should have been fired the moment it got to Omar Minaya and the Wilpons. Anything else simply condones this behavior.

Trade deadline approaches: Adam LaRoche of the Pirates was dealt today, joining Nate McLouth and what are sure to be many others on the list of this season's Bucs' Castaways. Rumor says he was dealt to the Giants, but no confirmation has been made. If true, I'm curious to see what the Giants gave up.

Edit: He was dealt to the Red Sox, according to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer Devan Kovacevic.

Update for The Trentonian's Thunder coverage: I have given in and am now on Twitter at jnorris427. That will be the new place, as well as this blog, to get updates on the Trenton Thunder.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Whelan to Scranton, Sanchez to Trenton

(Manchester, NH)- The Trenton Thunder, Double-A Affiliate of the New York Yankees, have announced that RHP Kevin Whelan has been promoted from Trenton to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Triple-A). RHP Humberto Sanchez has been promoted from Tampa (High-A) to Trenton to take Whelan's spot on the roster.

Whelan had a 4-0 record with a 2.63 ERA and two saves in 30 games for the Thunder. He had tossed 13 shutout innings during July, and had not allowed a hit in his last four outings. In 2008, Whelan combined to post a 1-0 record with a 4.50 ERA and two saves in 24 combined appearances between Tampa (High-A) and Trenton. He also appeared in 27 games for the Thunder during the 2007 season. He was acquired by the Yankees along with RHP Anthony Claggett, and Sanchez, in exchange for OF Gary Sheffield on 11/10/06. He was originally drafted by Detroit in the fourth round of the 2005 draft. Sanchez has been with Tampa since June 9th.

He was 0-1 with a 4.76 ERA in nine games (three starts) for the Tampa Yankees. He was re-signed by the Yankees on May 1st, after being released by the Yankees April 25th. He split the 2008 season between the New York Yankees, Trenton, Tampa, and the GCL Yankees. He was 0-0 with a 4.50 ERA in two relief appearances for the Yankees. He made one start for the Thunder. He also appeared in a game for the Thunder in the Eastern League Championship Series vs. Akron. He made two starts for Tampa, and he was 0-1 with a 2.31 ERA in 12 games (nine starts) for the GCL Yankees. Following the season, he pitched for the Peoria Javelinas of the Arizona Fall League. He was originally selected by the Tigers in the 31st round of the 2001 draft.

Odds and Ends on an Off Day

Is Omar Minaya insane? According to's Jon Heyman (but also contradicted by ESPN's Keith Law) the Mets rejected a request of Fernando Martinez, Bobby Parnell, Jonathon Niese and Ruben Tejada for Roy Halladay.

If true, this is pure, uncut, Colombian crazybeans. Even if it doesn't get them back into contention this season, Roy Halladay and Johan Santana next season, even if grouped with three hoboes hanging outside Citi Field, means no more Phillies atop the NL East. It also gives the Mets their best chance at a world title since 2000.

Sure, they purposely kept Martinez out of the Santana deal, but Roy Halladay, frankly, is better than Johan Santana. The above package is light compared to what the Jays have been rumored to be asking for from the Phils, Yanks, Red Sox, et. al.

Sorry to be a stick in the mud, but ... I am 100% against Notre Dame and Army playing a football game at Yankee Stadium. I've always hated the idea of other sports being held at baseball stadiums. I don't like this, I don't like the winter classic, I don't like boxing matches being held there, either. It's a baseball stadium, darnit, keep it to baseball only. The only way it's OK is if neither team makes a dime off the game. Yankees, or in the case of the Winter Classic, the Red Sox, keep 100 percent of the gate, concessions, plus a fee from each school for the right to host a game there.

I am a jinx: So, I write this after the Thunder top Portland on Sunday. What do you suppose happens the next day? Three blown saves in one game, that's what.

Friday, July 17, 2009

So Zach McAllister has a tired arm ...

Thunder ace Zach McAllister was placed on the 7-day disabled list yesterday with what the team is terming a "tired arm." He could miss a week, or a he could miss the season; that's just how hit-or-miss this kind of injury can be. It really all depends on the results of the MRI he's undergoing today.

McAllister is certainly not the first pitcher to hit the shelf with this type of injury. To prove it, here's a very short list of pitchers I found over the last three seasons who've had tired arms, and what happened when they came back from the DL.

2007 -- Kenny Rogers diagnosed with tired arm on March 29, goes on DL and doesn't make his debut until late June. He went 3-4 with a 4.43 ERA the rest of the way.

2007 -- Nate Robertson missed 21 days with a TA, went 5-7 over the remainder of the season.

2008 -- Carlos Zambrano diagnosed with TA in late August, misses one start. Next start is a no-hitter.

2009 -- Daisuke Matsuzaka has missed nearly a month with a TA, possibly due to overuse in the World Baseball Classic. He had an 8.23 ERA and a 2.20 WHIP before going on the disabled list.

It seems the history of pitchers with tired arms is really a mixed bag. I'm sure McAllister hopes his experience is more like Zambrano's in 2008.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

All-Star Game wrap

Hey, it's been a while, but I've been on vacation. I was at yesterday's EL All-Star Game, though, and have a couple of notes to share that didn't make it in the paper.

Phillies announcer Tom McCarthy, who started his broadcasting career with the Thunder, acted as an MC for a few of the festivities before the game. McCarthy introduced the members of the Thunder staff who've been around for all 15 seasons, including team photographer Dave Schofield and mascot Boomer, among others.

Trenton mayor Doug Palmer and Thunder manager Tony Franklin each threw out a ceremonial first pitch.

Thunder shortstop Eduardo Nunez had two hits, and reliever Mike Dunn and Josh Schmidt each recorded a scoreless inning of relief.

Look for a story in today's Trentonian about Jesus Montero's views on his name coming up in trade rumors, as well as one reporter's thoughts about what the Yankees would have to give up to land Roy Halladay before the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Another Thunder All-Star, HR Derby rosters announced

First off, Thunder left-hander Mike Dunn has been added to the Northern Division roster for the All-Star Game, to be played on July 15.

Dunn replaces Reidier Gonzalez of the Fisher Cats, who is injured, but was fine a few days ago against the Thunder.

Also leaving the roster is Akron's Vinnie Pestano, who will be replaced by the Aeros' Carlton Smith.


Additionally, the Thunder released details about the Home Run Derby, which will take place before the All-Star Game.

Here's the press release:

Brian Dopirak :

Brian Dopirak leads the Eastern League in home runs with 19. The Crystal Beach, Florida native has appeared in 85 games for the Fisher Cats in 2009 and has a .313 batting average with 68 RBI which also leads the Eastern League. The first baseman was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the second round of the 2002 June draft. He was released by Chicago after the 2007 season and signed a free agent contract with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Jorge Vazquez :

Jorge Vazquez is ranked 8th in the Eastern League with 12 home runs. The Culiacan, Mexico native has appeared in 52 games for the Trenton Thunder this season and has batted .332 with a team leading 51 RBI and a team high .584 slugging percentage. Vazquez also appeared in five games for Mexico in the 2009 World Baseball Classic and batted .294 with one home run and five RBI. Prior to the 2009 season, the first baseman spent 10 seasons in the Mexican League and sported a .321 career batting average in 627 games with 151 home runs and 491 RBI.

Rene Tosoni :

Rene Tosoni is tied for 11th in the Eastern League with 10 home runs. The Toronto, Ontario native has appeared in 81 games for the New Britain Rock Cats and leads the team in home runs, games played, walks (36), runs scored (45), slugging percentage (.483), and RBI (49). Tosoni was drafted by the Twins in the 36th round of the 2005 June draft. The outfielder will also appear in the XM All Star Futures Game on July 13th at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

Michael Taylor :

Michael Taylor is ranked 4th in the Eastern League with 15 home runs. The Apopka, Florida native is the No. 6 ranked prospect and "Best Power Hitter" in the Phillies Minor League System according to Baseball America. The outfielder has appeared in 82 games for Reading this season and he leads the team in batting average (.336), home runs, RBI (64) and hits (102). Taylor was selected by the Phillies in the 5th round of the 2007 draft out of Stanford University.

Brennan Boesch :

Brennan Boesch is ranked 2nd in the Eastern League with 17 home runs. The Santa Monica, California native has appeared in 81 games for the Erie Sea Wolves this season and leads the team in home runs, RBI (56) and hits (83). The outfielder was selected by the Tigers in the 3rd Round of the 2006 June draft out of the University of California at Berkeley.

Nick Weglarz :

Nick Weglarz is tied for 6th in the Eastern League with 13 home runs. The Stevensville, Ohio native has appeared in 82 games for the Akron Aeros this season and leads the team in RBI (58). The outfielder is the No. 3 ranked prospect in the Indians Minor League System according to Baseball America. He was selected by the Indians in the 3rd round of the 2005 June draft.

Frank Menechino :

Frank Menechino is the Trenton Thunder hitting coach. He played in the majors from 1999-2005 for the Oakland Athletics and Toronto Blue Jays. He played second base, shortstop, third base and designated hitter. In his 7 year Major League career he hit a total of 36 HR and drove in 149 runs. Menechino played in the 1996 Double A All-Star game at Waterfront Park.

Mark Zagunis :

Mark Zagunis just completed his sophomore season at Holy Cross High School in Delran, NJ. In 24 games this season, Mark batted .524 with 33 hits, 7 doubles, 2 triples, and 7 home runs (3rd in Burlington County Scholastic League). Zagunis homered at Waterfront Park on Sunday, May 17 in the Burlington County Scholastic League Championship against Delran High School.

Mike Fassl :

Mike Fassl is a rising senior at New Egypt High School in New Eygpt, NJ. The catcher played in all 24 of his team's games during his freshman and sophomore years before being limited to just 9 games last season with an ACL injury. In his 57 game high school career, he has 5 HR, 49 RBI and a .344 batting average. He has participated in the Trenton Thunder Showcase and Blue Grey Classic at Waterfront Park.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Jesus Montero named to EL-All Star Game

Via a Thunder press release:

EL ALL STAR ROSTER Bowie LHP Thall Also Added

(Trenton, NJ)- The Trenton Thunder, Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees, and the Eastern League, have announced two changes to the rosters for the 2009 Eastern League All-Star Game to be played in Trenton on July 15th.

For the Northern Division squad, Binghamton Catcher Josh Thole will not be attending the game because he is on the disabled list with a dislocated left thumb. He is being replaced by Trenton Catcher Jesus Montero on the roster.

For the Southern Division squad, RHP Josh Perrault was promoted to Triple-A Norfolk of the Baltimore organization and will not be attending the game. Bowie LHP Chad Thall will replace him on the All-Star Roster.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

EL All-Star Game Roster Changes

Just got this press release from the Thunder:

(Trenton, NJ)- The Trenton Thunder, Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees, and the Eastern League, have announced some changes to the rosters for the 2009 Eastern League All-Star Game to be played in Trenton on July 15th. For the Northern Division squad, Portland RHP Junichi Tazawa will attend the game, but will not play because of his participation in the MLB XM All-Star Futures Game on Sunday, July 12th. Portland LHP Dustin Richardson will be added as a replacement to take Tazawa's spot on the active roster.

Connecticut RHP Madison Bumgarner will not play in the game because of his participation in the Futures Game. Bumgarner will not be making the trip to Trenton. Connecticut RHP Dan Otero will take Bumgarner's spot on the roster.

For the Southern Division squad, Erie RHP Josh Rainwater will not participate because of his promotion to the Triple-A Toledo in the Detroit Tigers organization. Erie RHP Zach Simons has been added to the Southern Division roster to take his spot on the team.

Akron RHP Hector Rondon has been promoted to Triple-A Columbus in the Cleveland Indians organization. Akron RHP Jeanmar Gomez has been added to the roster to take his spot on the team.

Extras from last night's Thunder game

There were a couple of questions that particularly caught manager Tony Franklin's ire during the postgame session yesterday. He didn't raise his voice, but you could tell how passionately he felt in his responses.

First, a question by yours truly about what I perceived as a "lack of a plan" by some of hitters, especially with runners on base.

The manager's response:

"You guys (the media) can sit there and say 'we have no plan' because we go up there and hit the first pitch. You guys can say they need to take more pitches so they can walk more, you know. But the fact of the matter is: they don't learn how to hit unless they go up there and swing the bat and decide whether or not this is a good pitch to hit or not. That's part of the development.

"This is Double-A ball, this is not Major League Baseball. Believe me: we are preaching and we have preached the fact that we need to be patient. We need to be a little more selective if we're going to swing at the first pitch.

"We need to play a little bit better than we have, and this is why, basically, (the coaching staff) have jobs. This is why they have the levels of baseball that they do. Does it get frustrating from time to time? Yes, but we've got to learn to live with that. Hopefully by the end of the year we're going to be better.

"You might say, 'well, we're at the end of the year already; we're halfway through the season.' That's true enough. It doesn't happen overnight. It doesn't happen overnight. I constantly say, 'this is the level where you start to find out where you are in the game of baseball in this industry. Do you stack up or don't you? What do you need to improve on? What is it that you do pretty well that you need to improve on? It makes you very competitive, and this is the level where a lot of guys need to do some better things."

Immediately after that came a question from colleague Mike Ashmore, who asked whether a perceived lack of conditioning may be hurting Jorge Vazquez's defense at first base.

“Here’s a guy who (has been) a hitter all of his life, all he’s been asked to do is hit. This is a little something different for him. This is a total different game for him, whether you know that or not or whether you believe that or not. When you have a guy who’s been in the Mexican League in his hometown, people come to see him hit and that’s all he does. Defense is a little different, it’s a total package. I think he’s not as bad as he looks. Yes, he’s missed some plays. Malec’s missed some plays as well, and he’s a pretty experienced and seasoned guy. But the more we put him out there, and the more we explain some things to him and help him get better, the better he’s going to get.

We were out earlier today, just talking about some things as far as positioning is concerned. Yeah, he missed some balls. But I’m happy with the way he caught the ball. I’m happy because he was in the position to make the plays, and those are things we talked about today. So that’s progress. And at the times we do these things, you guys aren’t here, so you don’t have any knowledge of them. So I see progress where you guys don’t sometimes. I’ve got that advantage. But that’s not to say he doesn’t need to make the plays. Yes, he does. No question about it.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A quick note before I head to sleep

I just discovered this guy a few minutes ago, but the media (self included) is sure to have a field day with him once he finds his way to Waterfront Park.

Just look at that name. He was born to play for the Thunder.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

EL All-Stars are here

After balloting was completed on June 28, the Eastern League's All-Stars have been announced.

Here are the results:

P Madison Bumgarner* Connecticut
P Matt Fox New Britain
P T.J. Large Portland
P Zach McAllister* Trenton
P Roy Merritt* Binghamton
P Joe Paterson Connecticut
P Reidier Gonzalez* New Hampshire
P Josh Schmidt Trenton
P Anthony Slama* New Britain
P Junichi Tazawa* Portland
C Brian Jeroloman* New Hampshire
C Josh Thole* Binghamton
INF Lars Anderson* Portland
INF Brock Bond* Connecticut
INF Reegie Corona Trenton
INF/OF Brian Dinkelman New Britain
INF Brian Dopirak New Hampshire
INF Jorge Jimenez Portland
INF Eduardo Nunez Trenton
INF Whitney Robbins* New Britain
INF Jorge Vazquez* Trenton
OF Eddy Martinez-Esteve Connecticut
OF Rene Tosoni New Britain
OF D.J. Wabick Binghamton
P Daniel Moskos* Altoona
P Ryan Ouellette* Bowie
P Josh Perrault Bowie
P Vinnie Pestano Akron
P Josh Rainwater* Erie
P Hector Rondon* Akron
P Joe Savery* Reading
P Jack Spradlin* Harrisburg
P Josh Wilkie Harrisburg
P Vance Worley Reading
C Alex Avila Erie
C Carlos Santana Akron
INF/OF Miguel Abreu* Bowie
INF/OF Leonard Davis* Harrisburg
INF/OF Jason Delaney* Altoona
INF Brian Friday Altoona
INF Beau Mills* Akron
INF Neil Sellers Reading
INF/OF Ryan Strieby Erie
INF/OF Jonathan Tucker Bowie
OF Brennan Boesch Erie
OF Deik Scram* Erie
OF Michael Taylor* Reading
OF Nick Weglarz Akron