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....

Thursday, September 27, 2007

One that got away.....

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Giants version of GB is year is clearly Matt Cain...

who ends with a 7-16 record despite a 3.65 ERA and 163Ks. Matt is shown here in a 2004 pic.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I think he's back also...............

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Here's a guy I think who'll be back next season...

Friday, September 21, 2007

Just a great post on McCovey's the other day

by Kevin (aka Brute) on his projections for each Giants farm team's rosters for 2008. A great read for serious and casual fans and an interesting discussion thread follows. Here's his take on the 2008 Defs team:

"Connecticut Defenders

Connecticut will inherit a championship team, but this team is even less high-prospect laden than the '05 team that dissolved in CT in 2006. That said, there's some possibility, with some returning faces and possible pushes.

As usual, pitching will be in the forefront in CT. The team will likely have a couple of holdovers from this year's rotation, especially Broshuis and McKae. They'll probably also get a couple of San Jose's top guys, including Paul Oseguera and the streakier-than-usual Joe Martinez. The question is whether Augusta's rotation will see some pitcher's skip San Jose. The likeliest are Ben Snyder, Adam Cowart and Kevin Pucetas. Cowart seems most likely to follow the Jonathan Sanchez road, as Sanchez also spent a full season in Augusta and just cameoed in a San Jose offseason before moving up to Connecticut.

The bullpen won't be as strong as this year's. The top name coming up is the ever-controversial Sergio Romo. Taylor Wilding, Jason Waddell and Darren Sack will likely get second shots, and Ben Cox is a probable to move up along with Ryan Paul. If Kelvin Pichardo is held back, this squad should be good, if not exactly great.

The offense is going to be touchier, but a mix of returning players to CT (Which usually leads to more production) and a couple of SJ guys may have some promise. The biggest names coming up will Ben Copeland and Antoan Richardson. Richardson is Velez with better OBP, much better OF defense, and believe it or not, slightly better speed (if not a more aggressive attitude). They'll probably match with Eddy Martinez-Esteve in the outfield, who is no guarantee to stay healthy. Travis Ishikawa may also get shot number three in Double-A. Catcher is the other hot spot, where Pablo Sandoval and power hitting Adam Witter will fight for playing time (and probably with EME for DH time).

The question marks are elsewhere in the infield. Kyle Haines and Anthony Contreras are solid performers, and will likely mix with the return of Mark Minicozzi for a mix-and-match infield. But what if the Giants get aggressive with either Brian Bocock or Emmanuel Burriss (the latter being more likely)? And then there's newcomer Travis Denker, who has proven to be a power hitter, but has some serious questions as he comes up. And will he be moved to the outfield, or stay at second?

Defenders fans may again be disappointed in the names of the talent headed their way, but it's not an untalented team. It's a gritty blue collar team that may or may not be able to stay that way without Lenn Sakata."

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Here's a guy I think should be in Fresno next year..

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Kind of torn on where Nick starts next season...

I'm thinking back with Connecticut.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

SJ Giants rally from two games down and win

three straight to win CA. League championship. Old friend Mark Minicozzi is MVP. That's Jason Waddell #15 in the background, who was with the Defenders last year.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Hard to believe it's been 5 years already....

and this was the last time we've had playoff baseball in Norwich?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Went racin' today with 101,000 other NASCAR fans

in New Hampshire.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Congrats Eugenio Velez! First MLBB hit last night...

a pitch hit triple and he would come in to score on a wild pitch.

Friday, September 14, 2007

I can name one person in this photo....

HI. !!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I'll guess Simon comes back in 2008....

nothing against him; just a feeling.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

My guess is Triple A for Mr. Holm in 2008.....

and we see a full season of TJ and Dayton behind the plate.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Joe's final blog entry and Kevin's (aka Brute's) reply.

Sorry's impossible to find with the Bulletin's "new" web layout. This was dated Sept. 8th:

The end of the season
Sad that it came so soon. How great would it have been to have played another week or so? I can't say it enough, this team was far better than its previous version and despite that, the record doesn't show that.

I was impressed by a few guys and there were those who frustrated the life out of any baseball fan watching.

I don't know if what we witnessed the final two weeks is a true sign of who they were because there wasn't anything tangible on the line. Pride, however is a great motivator.

Seeing Eugenio Velez make it to the majors last week told me a few things: 1) the Giants don't view him as a player who can make a major impact. What does he do that Rajai Davis can't? He may be faster but Davis is a better fielder and hitter. 2) the Giants aren't going to rush anyone they feel has long-term potential and start their clocks towards arbitration.

The two guys who I expect to see in the bigs are John Bowker and Nick Pereira. They share different personalities but both seem equipped to succeed. Bowker's numbers say it all and he should spend all of next season in Triple-A unless injuries force his promotion. Plus, with a few other deserving guys in Fresno, there shouldn't be a rush.

Pereira's numbers were misleading. He was in the top 10 in many stats, but doesn't get the credit he deserves. Talking to him during the last homestand, he expressed to me how he's learning to not try to strikeout everyone -- to pitch. He's grown up a lot this season.

There were a few pitchers who should reach the majors at some point and in various capacities: Joe Bateman, Osiris Matos, Brian Anderson and Geno Espineli stand out. I suspect that if Dave McKae and Brooks McNiven become more consistent, they will be there as well. I like Kelvin Pichardo's arm but he losses the strike zone easily.

Steve Holm may make it as a backup or as a starter for a year or two. He's one of the most level-headed guys in the clubhouse and a stand up teammate. He's never ran excuses for anyone or anything and is underestimated defensively. Of course, his bat was what we all noticed.

Simon Klink showed singns of promise, but is this close on defense from being a top fielder and his at-bats were MUCH better after the all-star break.

I think Carlos Sosa proved clutch at many times this season and should be back next year. My gut feeling is he, Jake Wald, Trey Webb, Pat Dobson, Dayton Buller, Alex Hinshaw, Justin Hedrick, McNiven and McKae are back here next season. Honestly, I hope Garrett Broshuis is not. He's one of my favorite guys to talk to. He's a great teammate and can discuss anything under the sun. He fell victim to poor run support and shouldn't be blamed for the bad record. His stuff isn't as good as everyone else, but he's a thinking man's pitcher.

The All-Star Game was about as fitting as anything related to the team. There's the struggle to sell seats, a late surge and then the fog wipes out the game. Personally, game or not, I enjoyed being around Dodd Stadium for those two days and feel what the Defenders did was nothing short of great.

Now, if there were more fans throughout the season. It sucked, to be blunt. I don't want this team to leave but am worried it will. I'm tired of the excuses about it not being a Sox, Yanks or Mets affiliate. That's nonsense. If people wanted to see those teams, why did attendance stink against Portland, Trenton and Binghamton? I agree, however, that the Giants have to go. I haven't been given the impression that they care about what happens and would rather keep players away from here than have them play at Dodd.

This should be a good start for us to chat....let me your thoughts.

And guys, thanks for the input and conversation -- it's been fun.

Kevin said...
I don't believe the problem is that the Giants specifically don't want to play players at Dodd specifically. The Giants have players play at two other offensively inhibitive stadiums (Augusta is a huge park, and San Jose can murder left-handed hitters with it's unusual configuration and wind coming in from right). And if they did, why didn't they leave?

I personally believe it's a more general problem in baseball: There are simply no west coast leagues for Double-A. While it's not a common problem in the Eastern League (The Giants are the only West Coast Affiliate), you do see it in the track record of other west coast Double-A teams, especially in the Southern League; long stretches of mediocreness with occasional spurts of greatness. (the Texas League does better, and is not coincidentally the most western league).

Teams are simply more likely to keep top players (especially those they feel don't need to be stepped up level by level) closer to the home club for many reasons, from rehab to easier access for club officials. This is hardly a new thing; why do you think that Clemens got his rehab start in Double-A Trenton and then was moved to PA?

Affiliated baseball simply cannot put a league at each level in every area; there are obviously more baseball towns in the East. That will lead to this happening a lot. The Defenders could definitely pursue someone else, but I think Joe is right about some of the excuses: Trenton and other teams with more local major league affiliates didn't draw. It's unlikely that Norwich could get a more desirable draw without either proving a fan base or improving the facilities significantly.

To that end, I don't think things have been so bad. The top prospect in the Giants system for 10 years (before Lincecum), Matt Cain, did pitch in Connecticut. Lincecum skipped, but does anyone really think he simply wasn't ready for the higher levels? And the 2006 team was a team with several highly rated players: from the 2006 SFDugout rankings, the team had the #2, #4, and #8 prospects, not to mention several lower guys (#11, #13, #14), and one guy who went straight to the majors (Alfonzo). That team was as derailed by the injuries to two of those top three guys, and simply having players who were promoted from being too good (Alfonzo, Sanchez).

In terms of players, it should get better. The Giants have obviously not had the swoon of high picks other teams do for various reasons, but that's changed. Last year, they had six picks in the top 51; this year, they'll probably have another Top 10 pick. So there's as good a chance of a superstar/top prospect coming along. However, I will admit that it won't be for a while; neither San Jose nor Augusta had top position players, although both had the top pitching in their leagues (in fact, SF owned every Single-A league they were in).

And do need to readjust: baseball isn't all about hitting. The Giants have focused on pitching for better or for worse, and they are superstar prospects, too. Say what you will about the teams, but Connecticut had the #2 team ERA in the league this past year. That's not nothing, but chicks just seem to dig only the long ball.

3:06 AM

Deeper into the 2004 vault and we pick out....

Brad Hennessey. He made 18 starts in his only season here in '04 going 5-5 in 18 starts with 101 IP to a 3.56 ERA. Gave up 106 hits and only had 55 Ks. Went to Fresno and in 5 starts goes 4-1 before making his MLBB debut the same year with the Giants. Now a full time reliever with the Giants with 19 saves this year. Like the throw back uniform. Is he the closer next year?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Chris Begg, circa 2004, .....

Chris went 7-6 in 26 starts in the 2004 season. 159 IP, 138 hits, 123 Ks for a 3.06 ERA. 4 CGs and 3 SHOs. Always liked Chris.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Josh Habel, 2004 Opening Day pitcher....

Josh went 4-10 in his only season with Norwich. 136 IP, 130 hits allowed, 123 Ks pitched to a ERA of 4.36. They rarely worn the cream colored uniform prefering the black "Gators" mesh style. He went to the Brewers organization in 2005 and then on to the indy leagues.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Trey Webb, should be back next season .....

Trey ended up hitting .242 after getting off to a 0-29 start coming up from Augusta in April. Three homers and 24 RBIs in 99 games. Needs to cut down on the K's as he fanned 80 times in 322 ABs and had more K's than hits (78). Committed just 6 errors despite playing mostly three positions; 2B, SS and OF. 10 SBs in 13 tries.

Friday, September 07, 2007

I liked the pink uniform tops myself.....

as modeled by Simon Klink and Brook McNiven. Taken 5-12-07; Phillies 2 Defs 1.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

THANK YOU! The 2008 home opener is a noon start!

Something I think was touched on a couple of times behind home plate. Real happy to see that on the Defenders website. First time in Norwich/Connecticut history the opener has started this early in the day. Group sales Tony!

Congrats Eugnio Velez! Made his MLBB debut

last night in a PH role. That first hit will come soon enough. And he's the daily pic of the day.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Daily pic...took enough; let's put them up

I did mention something about 10 promo ideas for the front office. Let's consider this one #1. Have fans upload to the team web page their picture of the game. Best fan picture of the week wins 4 free tickets and the picture featured on the web page. Losing pics go to a photo galley on the team's web site.
Anyway, let's start out with a tip of the hat to the real defenders of our country; those who serve in uniform. Taken on May 2, 2007 Curve 5 Defs 4.

Open forum....I'm pretty much done re: the Defenders

until the 2008 season gets underway. If there is stuff you the readers want to take up here's the space for it. Use the comments features for this and we'll continue on here thru the off season.

It's over......2007 a season of frustration......

At times they could look so good, almost like a tease, but most of the times would drive you crazy. Like all Giants teams here since 2003 there just isn't much hitting. It's usually one or two guys at best providing the runs and you're hoping for the best. This year it was John Bowker head and shoulders season long above everyone else. TSV and Randy Ruiz gave us some late season power but the team had to finish winning 12 out of 16 to stay out of the Eastern Division cellar.
Eugenio Velez provided speed and excitment and finds himself a Sept. callup with the Giants because of it. Velez is still very much a work in progress.
The pitching staff never had a stopper. A couple of converted relievers (Geno and Brooks), a season long tough luck loser in GB, and a couple of guys you never were really sure which version would show up in Nick P. (who finshed strong) and McKae. Cox and Sack washed out as starter and found themselves back in SJ. Chris Begg left early to go to Triple A.
Never got a feel for the bullpen as the player shuffle was in effect season long. Brian Anderson tested your heart as a closer. Yet if you look at it from a team pitching staff performance against the league it was a successful year but looking at those stats and seeing it live were two different things for sure.
Who's back next year and who's coming here in 2008? Bowker, Velez, Geno and I guess Anderson should be in Fresno. I figure Hinshaw will begin the season in CT. I don't follow Augusta and San Jose so I don't know who is likely to show up here. I think some guys will make decisions about their playing days and I think others will have those decisions made for them. Wouldn't surprise me to see about 10-12 guys from this year's edition back in 2008.
I don't want to see EME back here never and TI can go directly to Fresno if he is still with the Giants thru the off season.
The fences will come in for 2008 (see below) and run production will go up. It's effect on the team's win loss record remains to be seen as does it's effect on player performance.

The fences come in...How far in and what the new

dimensions look like is info yet to come. Anyway this is from today's New London Day newspaper:

Norwich – The City Council unanimously approved a $610,000 ordinance tonight for numerous capital improvements to the Thomas J. Dodd Stadium, some of which are required in the city’s lease with the Connecticut Defenders minor league baseball team.
Aldermen said they were pleased with last week’s agreement between the Baseball Stadium Authority and the Defenders to settle questions over back rent the team owes and the amount of credit the team should receive for equipment purchases and improvements already paid for by the team.
The $610,000 includes an estimated $190,000 to replace the playing field, about $100,000 to move the outfield fences in to encourage more home runs, another $100,000 to upgrade public bathrooms and other funding to replace carpeting in the skyboxes and make improvements to the visiting team’s dugout and clubhouse.
The city’s lease with the Defenders requires the city to replace the playing field this fall.
Gary Schnip, the Stadium Authority member who oversees stadium operations, said he would bring specifications for the field replacement to city Purchasing Agent William Block tomorrow and hopes to advertise for bids by the end of this week.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Defs end on a winning note and beat Bowie 5-2

this afternoon. John Bowker and randy Ruiz knock in a pair of runs each. Geno goes 7 IP giving up just a run to end his record at 8-10.

Misc fan notes: I'm taking Tuesday off from the blog and will be back Wednesday with some year end thoughts.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Defs hang on and beat the BaySox 7-6....

as they blow a 5-1 lead for Dave McKae. Carlos Sosa goes 4 for 4 with a pair doubles and three RBIs. TSV hits homer #14 and knocks in three. Ryan Sadowski gets the win. Brian Anderson makes it interesting again in the 9th but manages save #29.
One game left!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

In CFL action Connecticut 21 Bowie 1....

as the Defs score 15 runs in the top of the 5th. Five players get 3 hits apiece lead by Dayton Buller with a pair of triples in that inning and knocking in 5 runs. How do you collect 15 runs in an inning? Like this:

Carlos Sosa doubles (22) on a line drive to center fielder Luis Montanez.
Pat Dobson walks.
John Bowker doubles (33) on a line drive to center fielder Luis Montanez. Carlos Sosa scores. Pat Dobson to 3rd.
Randy Ruiz strikes out swinging.
Oscar Alvarez intentionally walks Tyler Von Schell.
Simon Klink singles on a ground ball to left fielder Jeff Fiorentino. Pat Dobson scores. John Bowker to 3rd. Tyler Von Schell to 2nd.
Julio Cordido walks. John Bowker scores. Tyler Von Schell to 3rd. Simon Klink to 2nd.
Pitcher Change: David Haehnel replaces Oscar Alvarez.
Jake Wald singles on a line drive to left fielder Jeff Fiorentino. Tyler Von Schell scores. Simon Klink to 3rd. Julio Cordido to 2nd.
With Dayton Buller batting, wild pitch by David Haehnel, Simon Klink scores. Julio Cordido to 3rd. Jake Wald to 2nd.
Dayton Buller triples (1) on a fly ball to center fielder Luis Montanez. Julio Cordido scores. Jake Wald scores.
Carlos Sosa singles on a ground ball to center fielder Luis Montanez. Dayton Buller scores.
Pat Dobson walks. Carlos Sosa to 2nd.
John Bowker singles on a line drive to left fielder Jeff Fiorentino. Carlos Sosa to 3rd. Pat Dobson to 2nd.
Randy Ruiz singles on a line drive to center fielder Luis Montanez. Carlos Sosa scores. Pat Dobson scores. John Bowker to 3rd. Randy Ruiz advances to 2nd, on fielding error by center fielder Luis Montanez.
Tyler Von Schell strikes out swinging.
Simon Klink reaches on throwing error by third baseman Oscar Salazar. John Bowker scores. Randy Ruiz scores.
Julio Cordido walks. Simon Klink to 2nd.
Pitcher Change: Luis Lebron replaces David Haehnel.
Jake Wald walks. Simon Klink to 3rd. Julio Cordido to 2nd.
Dayton Buller triples (2) on a fly ball to center fielder Luis Montanez. Simon Klink scores. Julio Cordido scores. Jake Wald scores.
Carlos Sosa pops out to third baseman Oscar Salazar in foul territory.

The other Defenders with three hits were: Jake Wald (HR #7 3 RBIs), John Bowker (RBI and 4 runs scored), Randy Ruiz ( 3 RBIs) and Simon Klink (RBI and 3 runs scored).
Nick Pereira ends his season on a high note over his last few starts and finishes 9-9 on the year with a 3.39 ERA.

In today's New London Day.....

Norwich — City officials and the Connecticut Defenders have reached an agreement on overdue lease payments owed to the city and credits the minor league baseball team should receive.

The agreement resolves key financial issues as the City Council is set to vote Tuesday for capital improvements to the Thomas J. Dodd Memorial Stadium.

Aldermen delayed action Aug. 20 on an ordinance to authorize $610,000 for several upgrades to the city-owned Dodd Stadium, saying they wanted a report on the financial status of the team's lease payments by the Sept. 4 council meeting.

In an agreement signed Friday by Defenders General Manager Charlie Dowd and Stadium Authority Chairman Michael Jewell, the parties agreed that the Defenders should receive a credit of $78,656.26 on lease payments to cover purchases and improvements the team made at Dodd Stadium. The team replaced broken equipment, painted portions of the stadium in time for the July 11 All-Star game and made some improvements to the skyboxes.

The credit will be subtracted from lease payments totaling $237,812.77, including July and August rent payments. That would leave the team with a balance of $159,156.51.

Glenn Carberry, attorney for the Defenders, said the team is committed to paying off the back balance within the next two months.

Acting City Manager Joseph Ruffo welcomed the agreement and thanked the parties for resolving the issues in time for Tuesday's vote.

“I especially appreciate the volunteer efforts of the Baseball Stadium Authority members involved,” Ruffo said Friday. “They put their time and effort into it, and we are grateful to have people like that.”

Both Carberry and Stadium Authority member Gary Schnip, who oversees stadium operations for the authority, said Wednesday's meeting to iron out the finances was productive and positive.

“It was very amicable,” Schnip said. “We didn't have any problems. It went relatively smooth.”

The Defenders' lease with the city runs through the 2012 baseball season, but the team has the option for an early buyout after the 2009 season, leaving some to question whether the city should invest large amounts in the 13-year-old stadium.

But the Defenders announced Thursday that the 2007 season that ended Thursday night saw the biggest increase in attendance in stadium history and the highest average attendance since the 2002 season — when the Norwich Navigators won the Eastern League championship as a New York Yankees-affiliated team.

The Defenders drew 195,235 fans this year, an increase of 24,428, or 14.3 percent, over last year. Team owner Lou DiBella said the upswing is a move in the right direction, but admitted Thursday that the team did not make money this year. DiBella said he is looking for further improvements in the next two years. He said the team's future is tied to improved attendance and advertising.

At the Aug. 20 public hearing, Schnip and Jewell told the council that the city must be committed to maintaining its facility as any other city-owned building, either for the Defenders' or for another professional minor league baseball team in the future.

Carberry said the agreement “clears up a bunch of issues,” and the team now looks forward to supporting the Stadium Authority's proposed capital improvement plan.

The proposed ordinance would pay for several upgrades recommended by the Stadium Authority. Chief among them, and most expensive, is the proposed $190,000 to replace the turf on the playing field. That work is required in the city's lease with the Defenders.

The ordinance also includes about $100,000 to move the outfield fences in, an effort to generate more home runs and offense. The team made that request, but Schnip and Jewell told the City Council that the move would be necessary for the long-term viability of Dodd Stadium as a professional baseball stadium.

Other proposed fixes include $100,000 to improve public bathrooms at the stadium, long a source of complaints by fans. The bathrooms were never finished prior to the first baseball season there, back in 1995. The bare concrete floors become wet and slippery with condensation.