Thoughts and pictures of my local minor league baseball team the New York Penn League Connecticut Tigers; a Detriot farm team. We'll still be looking at former Navigators/Defenders players along the way....

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Congrats Kevin Frandsen!! Former 'Gator

made his MLBB debut last night with the Giants and went 3 for 4 scoring three runs. Kevin blew thru here late last season in about six weeks. Luckly I got his auto. Also the Gaints traded Tyler Walker to the D-Rays for a minor league pitcher, Carlos Hines, who is ticketed for Triple A Frenso. Maybe he'll take Defenders Jeff Peterson's spot on that roster and Jeff will return back to CT.
Brian Wilson, the RP, who earlier made his MLBB this month is on the DL after throwing two scoreless innings in his only and only appearance.
Folks around here should realize that some of these player aren't that far away from the bigs and come out to the park.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Good Luck Chris and Josh...

Former Navigators pitcher Josh Habel and catcher Chris Curry signed with the Gary SouthShore RailCats of the indy Northern League Thursday. They join former Gator SS Jay Pecci on the team. Curry was one of my all time favorite Norwich players; easy to have a conversion with, always shook your hand and seemed really happy with life. I'm going to link the Railcats page here so I can keep an eye on them.
In less happy news I see the Defenders lost again to the FisherCats tonight 5-0 managing just 4 hits. They've lost three series in a row, 5 out of the last six games and somehow are still in first place. Those bats better wake up soon.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Daily competition....

I have two newspapers to choose from to get my Defenders news; The New London Day and the Norwich Bulletin. The best coverage between the two is the Bulletin. The Bulletin sticks to one beat writer, Will Hernandez, while the Day assigns several writers who will handle the reporting. The result I see is that Will is around the team and players all the time and is able to get closer to them, get some trust going and is able to produce better player profiles and info. He's also closer in age to these guys and played some ball in college. He'll also throw in some little things that hard core fans like; for instance Defender RP Jeff Peterson got called up by Frenso yesterday. That item was not reported in the Day. (Side note: the Defenders website shows an updated roster w/o Peterson--an update that would not of happened as fast last year; good job up there.)
Will has a blog going on the Bulletin web site and he reveals stuff about himself and the team that you won't read in the print version of the Bulletin. The site also has a nice multi-media section of Defender video clips, pictures and links.
I had hopes the Day was going to step it up this season given Defenders manager's Dave Machemer's spring training blog in the but it was discontinued when the Double A season started. Also Defenders' GM Jim Beaudoin's preseason on-line chat at the site was a first. Those efforts are a remarkable change from previous seasons when sometimes all you got was a box score the day after a home game and maybe an AP paragraph. The Day's coverage good, bad or otherwise will have an effect on team attendance with causual fans from the New London/Groton/Stonington and Westerly areas. I realize, of course, the Day is not a PR branch of the Defenders and they have the right to run their business as they see fit.
I'm interested if anyone from the two papers will cover the "road" games with New Britian this year.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

DMac! DMac! DMac! DMac! Derin McMains' dramatic

three run homer in the bottom of the ninth wins it 5-4 for the Defenders over Reading! And as a fan all I can say is WOW! They snatched one from the jaws of defeat and aviod losing their fourth in a row. DMac was mobbed at home and the remaining 100 or so fans went nuts. McMains is a really likable guy and this team was overdue for a big hit. Manager Dave Machemer had shook up the normal lineup and had Derin leading off and that made the difference in the ninth as Justin Knoelder was hit by a pitch and an out later Aaron Sisk (got to start playing him regular) got an infield hit setting the stage for DMac's HR. Billy Salder pitches two effective innings in relief for the win. Starter Pat Misch went six innings and only giving up an unearned run. The Phillies broke out in the top of the 7th agianst Defender pitcher Jeff Peterson scorcing three runs. The Defenders got one back in the bottom of the frame with McMains knocking in Justin Knoelder, who had doubled with a single to make it a 4-2 game. McMains finshes with 4 RBIs on the night. Best of all the B-Mets lose and the first place lead is up to two games.
Misc Fan notes: A bunch tonight. First, the above picture of Derin skying is from the 2004 Navigator season. I had a bunch of other pictures of Derin that he graciously signed for me tonight before the game and I mentioned this picture I had given him that year and he replied he still had it. I always offer the players copies of the pictures I ask them to sign and it goes over well. After all I'm asking something from them, the least I can do is offer something in return. Derin got a couple of new pics from me tonight. Second, I went with a different cap tonight, a 2003 Navigators model as a streak buster instead of the 2004 model so I'll have to wear that one for hopefully a long time now. And lastly, miracle ticket #1 of the season to go with the miracle finish. As I was approaching the ticket window another fan gave me a spare ticket for free. This happens about 2-3 times a year for me; saves me a voucher. Must be my face. Another small crowd tonight and dizzle in the air.
DMac! DMac! DMac! DMac!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Defenders losing 6-1 going to the bottom of the 8th in a rain delay as I post this..

Chris Begg gave up three runs over seven innings. Again the Defenders bats are quiet, getting only 4 hits and fanning 11 times. Brian Buscher knocked in the lone Defender run. The Giants want to take a look at Jonathan Sanchez as a reliever. Sanchez, who leading the E.L. in K's and ERA as a starter came into the game in the 8th and ended up being charged for three runs. It's pouring rain up there now so the Defenders are looking at their third straight defeat.
Misc Fan notes: Another small crowd thanks to the weather. The pic is of the front office staff and grounds crew in front of the tarp right before the heavens opened up. I won't be going to the Wednesday game as I previously hoped.

Congrats RP Brian Wilson....

called up yesterday from Triple A to the Giants. Brian was a Norwich Navigator last year for about 6 weeks until he was called up to Triple A Frenso. He could be the Giants closer of the future as Tyler Walker has been put on waivers. He was very impressive here last year. Good Luck Brian!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Rain, rain and more rain

washed out today's game this afternoon. Did walk around the concourse a bit and saw the lineup posted. Dave Mac had bumped up Jake Wald into the two hole in the lineup to get his bat going and dropped DMac into the nine spot. Also with Chris Begg the scheduled starter he'll keep those two on the field since Begg gets a lot of ground ball outs. But at some point in time he'll have to stick Aaron Sisk out there for his bat. The Defenders have lost the last two series but remain in first place. A three game set starts at Dodd Monday against Reading who took them two out of three down there last week. I should be at all three games. Old friend Brian Mazone pitches for them now and lost a 1-0 complete game to New Britain the other day. Brian hit the only other home run by a pitcher in franchise history last year; the first being current Defender closer Joe Bateman in 2004.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Defenders bats as cold as the temp tonight as

Trenton beats Connecticut 7-1 up at Dodd. Jesse Floyd was knocked out by the fourth and the Defenders were only able to manage four hits. Eddy's hitting streak ended at thirteen games. Reliever Mike Musgrave was the lone bright spot with three plus inning of scoreless pitching.
Misc. Fan notes. Derin McMains flirted with being tossed on a called third strike to end a budding rally. DMac threw the bat, helmet and gloves in protest of a ball that was clearly a ball. With Floyd pitching tonight and Aaron Sisk geting into the game in the ninth I now have pictures of all Defenders so far this year.
Nice crowd for a cold one up at the park. School is out this week and the Yankee farm team is in so that helps but I think it's a good sign for the coming months. One good thing about the cold weather is a lot of fans have bought themselves a Defenders hooded sweatshirt from Cutter's Corner, the giftshop. A bunch of them being worn around the park the last couple of games.
Quick conversion with owner Lou DiBella about setting up an interview for this modest blog effort.
Readers note: First thanks for the growing number of "hits." I won't be at the game Saturday, it might rain anyway, but I will be there Sunday.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Eddy Martinez-Esteve, Jonathan Sanchez lead Defenders

to a 2-1 victory tonight over the Trenton Thunder. Martinez-Esteve collected three hits, driving in the tying run with his league leading eighth double of the season and scored the winner on Brian Buscher's single in a two run Defenders third inning. The lefty Sanchez stuck out nine batters in 5.1 innings of work. Jeff Peterson pitched hitless 2.2 innings in relief and Joe Bateman worked a perfect ninth for his fourth save of the lead. Sanchez gave up his first earned run of the season tonight, struggled in the first two innings but leads the league now in strikeouts and ERA. The three Defenders pitchers held the Thunder to just three hits. Martinez-Esteve extended his season long hitting streak to 13 games.
Defenders left 11 runners on base and the bases loaded twice and lacked that one big hit to bust open the game despite getting ten hits on the contest. Defenders turned a couple of DPs and Justin Knoedler got a guy stealing to help out. Jeff Peterson extended his scoreless inning streak and his ERA is a perfect zero.
Misc Fans nots: Great to be back at Dodd tonight and a better sized crowd with the Yankee (ex- Navigators affiliate) in town. Moment of silence to open the game for two yankee minor league officials killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. New pocket schedule with the promo schedule included is now out. Some new promos that I'll go over soon in a future post. The Trenton pitcher was former Navigator and Yankee Julio DePaula who was the ace of the 2002 Navigators team that won the Eastern League championship that season. He still holds the franchise record for strikeouts and complete games in a season. He is working his way back from Tommy John surgery. I think Sanchez might give him a run at it this year.

Interesting promo being run by the team: If you're a Red Sox fan and you show your BoSox cap at the ticket window you can get a reserve seat for $4 and root for the Defenders to beat your hated rival's farm team. The same deal goes for Yankee fans coming out for Portland Seadogs games, the Red Sox farm team. Pretty clever thinking by someone in the front office.
Welcome back Travis and congrats on your first MLBB hit and run scored last night with the Giants!!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Travis Ishikawa made his MLBB debut last night

pitch hitting for former Navigators RP Jack Traschner. Travis grounded out in his first big league at bat. Travis is the first ever "Defender" to make the big leagues.
Misc Fan notes: The Defenders lost again in Reading 3-0 Tuesday. Chris Begg took the loss. The team is now three and two on the road trip. After sweeping Trenton they need to win tonight and finish this trip on a winning (4-2) note.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Travis Ishikawa called up by the

S.F. Giants. Giants infielder Lance Niekro had a death in family and the Defender first baseman was called up the the bigs to take Niekro's place. I'm sure Travis wishes it was under better circumstances. Travis was batting .323 with 1 HR and 5 RBI at the time of his callup. This is a great example of how close some Double A players are to getting the call up and is why folks should come out and see these guys play.
Misc fan notes: Connecticut swept the Thunder in a three game set but lost the opener in Reading tonight in extra innings. Defenders tied for first with the B-Mets in the division.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Lefty Jonathan Sanchez fans 10 in six innings and combines on 4-0..

shutout of the Thunder in Trenton. The Defenders are now in first place with Portland's win over the B-Mets. Defenders bang out 12 hits in the victory and go for the sweep Saturday. Nate Schierholtz goes 3 for four and drives in the first run of the game in a three run sixth. Justin Knoedler and Aaron Sisk with a RBI each in the contest. Matt Palmer and Jason Waddell, the early mainstays out of the bullpen, finshed the shutout.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Ballpark review..........................

I've been to five games so have this year and here's some impressions:
1) They painted and it was way overdue; especially the letters for rows in a section and the yellow safety paint. The last time paint was applied was in 2002 ahead of the Double A All-Star.
2) The gift shop is nicer and there is still plenty of room for more goods. Good section of new Defenders merchandise.
3) The food. I don't eat a lot at games if anything, but the lines at both Nathans and the pizza stands say folks are liking it. Menu selections are very good at both and prices are OK. Big improvement.
4) They reopened the arcade after that was closed for about 3 years. Good move, kids like it and it's another source of money.
5) The video board. Super. And I know it's going to get better as the season progresses because they got to be like kids in the candy store with that thing.
6) Ads. The flat screen TV's around the concourse are always on and running ads. The TVs are nice and another source of revenue. Best ad is the UPN Yankee spot that always get a big crowd reaction.
7) The Tater statue is out by the playground and I assume that will open up when the weather is better and school is out. I hope the same is true for the Fry shack and Susasge/fry dough stand.
8) Schedules above the urinals. Let's make use of the space and sell.
Obviously there is more stuff to do. The condition of the field is the most glaring but they've hired a new groundskeeper with big league experience so hopefully that will turn around.
My big question is where are all the fans? Opening day was good but after that it's been me and a few hundred of my friends for the rest of the games. The team is off to a great start (they won again tonight in Trenton with Aaron Sisk getting a couple of hits and RBI!) and it's perplexing to say the least.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Afternoon Delight...get out the broom, as

the Defenders defeat the FisherCats 2-0 to complete a three game sweep of New Hampshire this afternoon. Chris Begg (2-0) turned in his second straight piching gem going 7 inning and giving up just two hits. R.D. Spiehs gave up a hit in his inning and two thirds and Jason Waddell got the ever fearsome Chip Cannon, who was the tying run at the plate for the final out and his first save of the young season.
Again another low scoring, tidy game that came in just under two hours. All the scoring came in the bottom of the third. Randy Walter doubled, Clay Timpner walked and Derin McMains singled to score Walters and Timpner came in on the right fielders throwing error into the infield. Defenders record goes to 5-1 and they hit the road starting in Trenton Thursday for three games each against the Thunder and Reading Phillies.
Misc. Fan notes: Thanks for the ticket Strat! Baseball Bingo at the park today from the good folks at Foxwoods. Strat and I each had about 5 cards each and neither one of us came close to a bingo. No one else did either and the grand prize of a skybox for a day for you and 23 of your frieds went unclaimed. No Aaron Sisk sighting today. I think the Defender bats are really going to wake up on the road; especially in Trenton.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

They played the game in a record one hour and..

52 minutes because:
a) it was really, really cold
b) we have a day game Wednesday and we played 11 innings yesterday
c) let's catch the last half hour of "American Idol" on Fox in the clubhouse and they're singing Queen cover songs!
d) both starters were really, really on
e) all of the above
f) some of the above
Please vote in the commments section.
Anyway, the Defenders win again 2-1 over the FisherCats in franchise record time. New Hampshire scored a two out run in the top of the first; a walk, stolen base and a double down the line by by Chip Cannon (what a great baseball name). That stood up until the bottom of the seventh when Eddy Matrinez-Esteve doubled leading off. Tyler "Bomber" Von Schell tried to sac bunt him over on the first pitch he saw and fouled it off. Next pitch--Bomber goes boom--a blast to left center over everything for the victory.
Again the story was great starting pitching on both sides. Fellow blogger and Defender pitcher Garrett Broshuis went six inning and has nice off speed stuff. His only walk hurt him but Bomber got him off the hook. Matt Palmer picks up his second victory of the season in relief and Joe Bateman gets his second save of the year with a perfect ninth.
The other common thread was the Defender defense. 3B Brian Buscher made an outstanding play in the first taking a double away from a FisherCat batter and the rest of the infielders continue to make tough plays look easy.
Misc fan notes: Catcher Brian Munhall made his Defender debut and got his first hit. He also tossed out a FisherCat baserunner trying to steal second. Quick conversion with Garrett as he was going out to warmup pregame giving him props for his blog (see link to the right). At least he knows someone is reading it. The team has gone thru the starting pitching rotation now completely with Garrett's debut tonight and Defenders starting pitchers have given up only 2 earned runs in 29 innings in the first five games which is just outstanding. Only Defender not to play yet is 3B Aaron Sisk and maybe we'll see him Wednesday.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Defenders lose 4-2 to Portland this afternoon...

as their bats went quiet for the second game in a row. Defender lefty Jonathan Sanchez in his Double A debut picked up the hard luck loss giving up three unearned runs in the fourth. Brandon Moss, who seems like he has been with Portland forever, got the big hit with a two out bases loaded double up the left field gap to score two runs and a third run then came in on a error with the replay from the outfield. It was the only hard hit ball off Sanchez in his five innings of work. Sanchez had good stuff and it's easy to see why manager Dave Mac has high hopes for him. Relievers Jeff Peterson and Mike Musgrave saw their first action the the season for Connecticut. After playing error free ball the first two games the Defenders made three today. The Jake Wald error in the top of the three run Portland fourth was the most costly as he bobbled the ball in deep short and it was ruled an error. The play happened in front of me and even if he had handled it clean, his only play was to first and I don't think he could have made the out. That same play in Portland would have been ruled a hit. Anyway they take two of three from the SeaDogs and the FisherCats are in next for a three game set.
Misc fan nots: Thanks Strat for the ticket!--see you Wednesday afternoon. First Nathan's hotdog today; not bad. Readers note: I have to work Monday night but will be at the Tuesday and Wednesday games.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Piching and defense carry the Defenders with a

4-2 victory over the SeaDogs. Pat Misch pitched five shutout innings giving up four hits. He didn't have great stuff but helped himself out on a couple of hustle plays covering first and the lefty picked off a runner. Matt Palmer pitched the sixth and seventh innings to pick up the win. Joe Bateman threw a 1-2-3 ninth for the first ever Defender victory.
The Defenders were no-hit the first five innings by Portland starter Chris Smith. He left after five inning and the Defenders picked up four runs, two unearned off the Portland bullpen.
Jake Wald, the Defender SS was the star of the game with two runs scored and a RBI. Derin McMains got the first Defender hit, a double, in the sixth to start the scoring. The play of the game was turned in by Wald and McMains in the eight inning. Portland had put across two runs already to cut the CT. lead to 4-2 and had runners on first and secord with one out when Wald fielded a hard grounder behinh second rolling on his backand in one motion flipped to McMains for the force at second and on to first for the DP. It was one of three inning ending DPs the Defenders turned and a "10" for style points.
Misc fan notes: what a difference a day makes with a much smaller crowd tonight. It rained off and on today so that didn't help. The game was delayed about 20 minutes at the start because of the weather. No lines at Nathans and no smoke either. Rookie lefty Jonathan Sanchez makes his Double A debut Saturday. Defenders went with the same lineup today as yesterday.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Opening Day..sweet victory...

as the Defenders win 5-1 over the Portland Seadogs tonight. The Defenders jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first as Clay Timpner singled for the first ever Defender hit and one out later Nate Schierholtz hit the first ever Defender home run in history. Chris Begg pitched two hit ball over seven innings and earned the victory. Billy Salder and Geno Espineli pitched an inning each to finish the game. Schierholtz also had a double and scored two runs. Eddy Martinez-Esteve had two RBIs and Jusin Knoelder had the other RBI before a festive crowd of 4,901 that included a very loud group of a 100 or so Coast Guard cadets. The bright spot for Red Sox fans out there was the two very effective innings pitched by touted prospect Craig Hansen.
Misc. fans note: The other big winner was the Nathans Food stand that featured long and I mean long lines thru the game. Owner Lou DiBella was fussing over the lines at Nathans before the game started and the lines just got longer and longer. Hey; it was opening day for the help there too. And it's great to see the owner at the park attending to detail. Also the Nathans grill produced smoke that blew over the first base side most of the game until they got it under control. I'll review the changes to Dodd in another post in detail but it's a big thumbs up overall.
Opps moments: A represenative from Gov. Rell read a message that refered to the team as the "Connecticut Thunder" a women's football team and the PA announcer did say "Navigator" once and although I expected really more out of just force of habit. And ex-Nav Angel Chavez was picked up on waivers by the Phillies and sent to Reading so we'll see him in acouple of weeks when they come into town.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Roster thoughts....

Like I said yesterday I really like this team on paper. A bunch of these guys have played here in Double A Norwich already so they know the league and the field and the level of competition. The former Navigators are pitchers Joe Bateman, Chris Begg, Pat Misch, Matt Palmer, Billy Sadler and R.D. Spiehs. Returning position players are catcher Justin Knoelder, 3B Brian Buscher, 2B A.J. LaBarbera, 2B Derin McMains, 1B Tyler Von Schell, SS Jake Wald and OF Randy Walter.
The three starting outfielders, Eddy Martinez-Esteve, Nate Schierholtz and Clay Timpner have power and speed and Walters, the former Nav, is a good fill-in outfielder. The infield has power at first base with starter Travis Ishikawa and back-up Von Schell. Third baseman Aaron Sisk was a free agent pickup from the Cubs and will share time there with Buscher. The other four infielders are pesky hitters and LaBarbera especially so last season with runners in scoring position. Behind the plate Knoelder is a good defensive catcher with some speed. Newcomer Brian Munhall is the other catcher.
The starting pitching staff looks solid with Begg and Misch the Double A vets at the top of the roatation. Dave Mac's "hot" pick, lefty Jonathan Sanchez and 12 game winners with 2005 Class A Calf. League champs San Jose Jesse Floyd and fellow blogger Garrett Broshuis round out the rest of the starters.
In the bullpen Matt Palmer, a former Navs closer, figures to be the long guy and spot starter. Billy Salder, another sometime closer, the 8th inning set-up guy and Joe Bateman (the answer to the following trivia question: Name the first Navigators pitcher ever to hit a home run?) the closer.
Knoelder, Ishikawa and Schierholtz are on the Giants 40 man roster. Martinez-Esteve is the "hot" rookie.
I have a good feel about the team. A good mix of Double A vets and guys who won last years championship at Class A San Jose.
In other notes: read GM Jim Beaudion's chat on the New London Day website. Some good stuff there. And in Dave Mac's weekly blog he revealed the releases of pitcher Mitch Walk and SS Jamie Atlas. Hopefully they can catch on somewhere else.

Monday, April 03, 2006

2006 roster is set.....

go to the Defenders website to check it out. It's too late today for me to get into the roster in detail (I'll do that Tuesday night) but it looks REAL GOOD! I'm pumped! Here's a few pictures of returnees for this season from the 2004 squad.

Defender GM Jim Beaudoin will be chatting

on-line Tuesday from noon to 2pm at the New London Day website and it's a great chance to ask questions and see what's up with the team as we head to Thursday's opener. If you can't get to a computer Tuesday afternoon (like me) submit you question(s) ahead of time and read the transcript later.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

2004 Navigator Angel Chavez put on waivers

by the Giants today as part of their cut down to an Opening Day lineup and a 40 man roster. Angel made his MLBB debut in Sept. 2005. A good infielder and a slap hitter I won't be surprised if another team doesn't pick him up; he's a handy type of player off the bench especially in the NL. If he gets thru waivers, the Giants should bring him back as a non 40 man roster player.