January 2007

Direct from Central casting?

OK, it’s not as clever as C-YA Friday. What can I say? Lisa’s a better marketer than I am. I just couldn’t come up with a better theme for Tuesday’s Around the Minors organization previews (to be heard on MLB Radio at 12-1 p.m. ET). We’ve got Cincinnati and Detroit and both are playing in Central Divisions, are they not? I guess I could’ve gone with some sort of CD reference. Oh well.

Before I get to our Five Faves for the show, I read something coming out of Chicago I had to discuss here. It seems that GM Kenny Williams threw Duane Shaffer, Senior Director of Player Personnel, under the bus during a town hall meeting on Saturday. Here’s an excerpt from Joe Cowley’s story in the Chicago Sun-Times:


During Saturday’s town hall-style meeting with fans, Williams was asked
about the Sox’ lack of developing in-house pitching talent. That was
made even more obvious this offseason when Williams had to trade Freddy Garcia and Brandon McCarthy to replenish that department.

Shaffer, who was also criticized by manager Ozzie Guillen last season, is in charge of the draft, and now Williams wants that department to start producing.


”Because we’ve missed on our evaluations from our amateur scouting
department too often,” Williams responded to the fan’s question. ”The
scouting department has been put on notice. I expect more from them.”

He later tried to soften things by saying his message of not resting on the 2005 World Series title laurels was pointed at everyone, not just Shaffer and his staff. Now it’s true that some of the White Sox’ drafts over the past few years haven’t been tremendously productive. A lot of the pitching talent brought in has indeed flamed out or gotten hurt. But I think some things need to be pointed out in terms of why the White Sox, according to Williams, haven’t developed in-house pitching talent.

How far back is Williams going? McCarthy, used to "replenish the system" according to the story, was a 2002 draft pick. A 17th-rounder at that and he was ready to contribute big-time to the White Sox rotation. If you want to go back a little further, Mark Buehrle was a 1998 draftee who signed in 1999. Jon Garland wasn’t drafted by the White Sox, but they got him as a Minor Leaguer and developed him into a big part of the rotation. Sean Tracey  may have angered Ozzie Guillen, but still has a big league future. Lance Broadway, the 2005 first-round pick, will be at Triple-A, knocking on the door. Right behind him should be Kyle McCulloch, the 2006 first-rounder who should move quickly. Heath Phillips (2000) and Charlie Haeger (2001) are just about ready to contribute. There are a host of other arms in the system with promise, who could help out in the next few years if they are still with the White Sox.

And I guess that’s what bothered me the most about Williams’ comments. Sure, maybe the Sox don’t have the most talent-rich pitching corps in baseball, but doesn’t Williams bear some responsibility for that? He traded away Gio Gonzalez (2004 draftee) and Daniel Haigwood (2002) to Philadelphia for Jim Thome. Back in July of 2004, he traded Jon Rauch (granted, it took him a while to establish himself) to the Expos for Carl Everett. Last year, Tyler Lumsden was sent to Kansas City to bring in Mike MacDougal. It’s clear that Ken Williams sees the farm system as a place to find bargaining chips for trades. That’s fine, especially since it did lead to a World Series title, but then don’t go ripping the farm system for not providing more talent to the big leagues.

Besides, even if pitching isn’t a strength, there’s still some nice bats at the upper levels waiting to break in. Brian Anderson may have not done well in his big league debut, but the 2003 first-rounder still has time to prove himself. Josh Fields and Ryan Sweeney are ready for full-time roles now. Williams traded Chris Stewart, who at the very least could be an excellent backup catcher right now. But the trade that hurts the most is the one that sent Chris Young to Arizona. Imagining him in center field right now would make a lot of White Sox fans happy.

Wow, that was  a long tangent. Let’s get to the Five Faves for the Tigers and Reds:

REDS

Homer Bailey, RHP
Joey Votto, 1B
Jay Bruce, OF
(I don’t think any team has an easier three to pick from)
Johnny Cueto, RHP
Paul Janish, SS
(I’ll get into why I chose Janish on the show)

TIGERS

Cameron Maybin, OF
Andrew Miller, LHP
Jair Jurrjens, RHP
Gorkys Hernandez, OF
Brent Clevlen, OF

Our kind of town, Chicago is…

It’s all Chicago, all the time on Around the Minors tomorrow (Tuesday). So if you want to talk White Sox with new third base coach and former minor league manager Razor Shines or Cubbies with farm director Oneri Fleita, be sure to tune into MLB Radio from 12-1 p.m. ET.

Before we get to our "Five Faves" for the Windy City farm systems, don’t know if you caught Friday’s show (Jan. 19), but if you want to hear me (Jonathan) make a total fool out of myself, listen to the first 5 minutes or so of the show. For some reason, something came over me, and I decided that singing would be a good thing to do. So go check it out and let me know how I did — think of it as an Around the Minors version of American Idol, but without Paula Abdul.

OK, now on to the matter at hand. Here are Lisa’s (White Sox) and my (Cubs) takes on "Five Faves" for each organization:

Cubs

Felix_pie_1
Felix Pie
Sean Gallagher
Donald Veal
Eric Patterson
Mark Pawelek

 

 

White Sox

Ryan_sweeney
Ryan Sweeney
Josh Fields
John Danks
Lance Broadway
Gio Gonzalez

BoSox and Bravos

We’re plugging along with Day 2 of the organizational previews tomorrow (Friday). If you want to talk about the farm systems of the Red Sox and the Braves, tune in to MLB Radio at 12-1 p.m. ET. I’m flying solo (Lisa’s off), so please come and stop by for a while. I’ll be chatting with Red Sox advance scout (and former Portland Sea Dogs manager) Todd Claus as well as Braves farm director Kurt Kemp, so get those emails in to radio@mlb.com about either team.

If you missed the show on Tuesday, when we talked Orioles and D-Backs all hour, you can go back and check it out in a number of ways. You can go to the MiLB.com multimedia page. You can go the MLB Radio Archive . You can also go the podcast route.

OK, now onto the Sox and the Braves. Here are the "Five Fave" prospects for each team. Again, you’re welcome to weigh in here or on the show on Friday:

Red Sox

Ellsburyjacoby
Jacoby Ellsbury
Clay Buchholz
Dustin Pedroia
George Kottaras
Michael Bowden



Braves

Andruselvis
Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Elvis Andrus
Yunel Escobar
Brandon Jones
Eric Campbell

He said, She … croaked

Hi folks … Froggy the Gremlin here … recovering from the last vestiges of the cold I picked up on, thankfully, the last day of RCDP …

But there is no better panacea for the winter chills than thinking about spring training! And ATM will OFFICIALLY get festivities started this Tuesday when we kick off our organizational preview shows.

Notice I don’t say ANNUAL shows … this is the first time we’ve done this so please bear with us and feel free to pitch in with input, ideas and, especially, questions you may have about players you want to know about in advance …

The plan is to focus on two organizations, one AL and one NL (until, of course, the final show) and tackle a few key questions about each one … hoping to bring on a farm director or other highly-placed front office executive for each system who will chat with us about hopes and plans for 2007 … and it will all wrap up neatly on March 6, just in time for the Minor Leaguers to start reporting to the backfields and Minor League camps in Florida and Arizona (and you know who will be THERE as well for that).

Anyway, here is the list of dates to circle on your desk calendars or, as Jonathan points out, your Outlook (I am hopeless with all things technical which is why it’s taken me a year to figure out how to blog):

Tuesday, Jan. 16: BALTIMORE and ARIZONA

Friday, Jan. 19: BOSTON and ATLANTA

Tuesday, Jan. 23: CHICAGO and CHICAGO

Friday, Jan. 26: CLEVELAND and CINCINNATI

Tuesday, Jan. 30: DETROIT and COLORADO

Friday, Feb. 2: KC and FLORIDA

Tuesday, Feb. 6: LA ANGELS and HOUSTON

Friday, Feb. 9: MINNESOTA and LA DODGERS

Tuesday, Feb. 13: NY YANKEES and MILWAUKEE

Friday, Feb. 16: OAKLAND and NY METS

Tuesday, Feb. 20: SEATTLE and PHILLY

Friday, Feb. 23: TAMPA BAY and PITTSBURGH

Tuesday, Feb. 27: TEXAS and ST. LOUIS

Friday, March 2: TORONTO and SAN DIEGO

Tuesday, March 6: SAN FRANCISCO and WASHINGTON

REALLY enjoyed today’s show with Arizona Diamondbacks pitching prospect Micah Owings, the starting pitcher in last year’s Bricktown Showdown (which has officially been extended through 2008) and Boston Red Sox outfield prospect Jeff Corsaletti, a VERY proud Gators alumni, joining us. (Jeff, hoping you make good on that promise of a Mr. Celery T-shirt!!! j/k). You can hear more from Micah next Wednesday, Jan. 17, when we post the links to the video interviews we did from RCDP with prospects from each of the 30 organizations … and I can guarantee that Jeff will be getting more calls from us to come on ATM in the future!

So meanwhile, since there is no such thing as a weekend or downtime for us here at ATM (not that we’d want there to be of course), Jonathan and I are both working diligently these next few days to finish capsules for the Top 100 prospects for the upcoming Fantasy 411 guide (please remember that Top 100 prospects for fantasy purposes does not directly reflect Top 100 prospects period). So yet another package for you all to look forward to in the near future …

OK, time to wrap this up and go spend a little quality time with my daughter (the final episode of Season 2 of Dawson’s Creek awaits … hey, it’s no Gilmore Girls but it has its strange charms).

You can never have enough pitching

Baseball aromatherapy??? I like it. Copyright that, Lisa, before it’s too late.

Now that the Randy Johnson trade is complete, we can say that Ross Ohlendorf (along with Steven Jackson and Alberto Gonzalez on the Minors side and Luis Vizcaino on the big league side) are Yankees. Thus ends the long saga of waiting for everything to become official. I talked about Ohlendorf going through the Rookie Program as a member of the Diamondbacks, waiting to find out if he actually was officially traded.

Well, the Princeton product joined us on Around the Minors today (go to MLB Radio and check out the archive when it’s ready) and is clearly very excited about donning the pinstripes down the road. For now, he’s likely headed to Triple-A Scranton which could easily have the deepest rotation in the Minors in 2007. Check this out:

Phil Hughes
Humberto Sanchez
Tyler Clippard
Ross Ohlendorf
Steven Jackson?

I used a question mark for that No. 5 spot because that’s where things get very interesting. With all the moves the Yankees have made, they are now ridiculously deep on the mound at the upper levels. If Jackson is in that rotation — and with an ERA well under 3.00 in Double-A last year, he clearly deserves to move up a rung — that leaves out a lot of other decent arms. Matt DeSalvo didn’t have a very good year in 2006, but has been to Triple-A in the past. Jeff Karstens went 11-5 with a 3.29 ERA across Double- and Triple-A and had a 3.80 ERA in the bigs. Steven White pitched well with Trenton, not as well in Triple-A, but should be back there. Darrell Rasner was 4-0 with a 2.76 ERA in 10 starts in Triple-A last year and also contributed to the big league club. That makes nine starters. Even if one or two make the leap to the bigs — and it’s a big stretch trying to figure out how that would work, especially considering the logjam in the pen that also now exists — there are still way too many arms for spots.

My question is this: What’s going to happen. Will there be some unhappy hurlers forced back down to Trenton? I’m sure the party line will be something like: Things always have a way of figuring themselves out, it’s a nice problem to have, or, you can never have enough pitching. I’m curious to know what people out there think will happen — send me your thoughts on the Yankees rotation/pen as well as the Scranton Yankees rotation.

Checking in from VA …

Lisa here …

The RCDP is just wrapping up and it’s been an exhausting, exhiliarating and, I think, really productive and educational experience for everyone involved … not just the 100-plus rookies (or almost-rookies) participating but also everyone else who has gotten to share in the experience.

Though it’s early January, when this neck of the woods is usually cold at best and frozen under at worst, the temperature this morning was a balmy 70 degrees. In fact, when I stepped out onto the terrace here, it smelled like spring training … call it baseball aromatherapy!

One of the definite highlights of the RCDP has been the participation of the Second City comedy/improv troupe from Chicago, which has brought many of the topics at hand to life for the players. I suspect there are a few guys here whose second calling might be acting or stand-up comedy if they weren’t such talented baseball players.

This has also afforded Jonathan and me a tremendous opportunity to talk to interview so many of the players one-on-one about their experiences here and during their baseball careers. Make sure to set aside a large chunk of time on Jan. 17 when not only will our half-hour video feature about the program run here on the MiLB.com and MLB.com websites, but in addition you will be able to find individual interviews with a player from each and every Major League club linked directly from that team’s individual website.

Needless to say when we finished that last of the 30 interviews (Chuck James, pitcher for the Atlanta Braves for those who were wondering), it was all I could do to keep from letting out a huge "woo hoo!" at the accomplishment!

Tune in to our ATM show on Tuesday to hear more about the program!

My turn

OK, Lisa, I’ll see your 10 pounds and raise you 5. Let’s try to lose 15…but maybe by Opening Day?

Anyway, what good is a resolution if both of us don’t actually make an effort here? Lisa and I are here in Leesburg, Va. as the Rookie Career Development Program is under way. Day 2 is about to get started here and it’s simply amazing for a prospect geek like me (and I think I speak for Lisa, too) to be here where you have all of the best young players in the game in one place at one time. I sat at dinner with the Royals’ Billy Butler, the Giants’ Pat Misch, the Braves’ Chuck James and the Red Sox’ Brandon Moss.

I’m not here to name drop (though it’s fun). We’re going to be interviewing many of these guys for MiLB.com and for the varoius club.coms. In addition, we’re doing a 30-minute show on the Rookie Career Development Program, its history, its participants and what it hopes to accomplish. So stay tuned for that.

I was a little disappointed that the annual trip to the Capitol in D.C. was cancelled because of the opening of Congress. Last year, it was a real highlight, walking through those hallowed halls, watching all the young players in awe of the surroundings. Plus, Senator **** Durbin of Illinois spoke to the group and was very impressive. As much as I wish I could have gone again this year, I feel badly for this year’s participants for missing out. I know some were really looking forward to it. That being said, the rest of the program will be a tremendous experience for all of them.

One of the more interesting side stories here is that Ross Ohlendorf was sent to be a participant by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Yesterday, it was widely reported that the Yankees and D-Backs had finally agreed on a trade. One of the prospects presumed to be in this deal was Ohlendorf, the right-hander out of Princeton. He’ll reportedly be joined by fellow pitcher Steven Jackson, shortstop Alberto Gonzalez and Major Leaguer Luis Vizcaino. Haven’t had the chance to chat with Ohlendorf, but I have to guess this is all a little surreal being here (with a nametag that says Arizona Diamondbacks on it, by the way). At least he can get to know Phil Hughes and Humberto Sanchez, who are here and will help Ohlendorf make up one of the deepest rotations in all of the Minors this coming season in Scranton.

Be back with more later…

Our New Year Resolution (no, really!)

Happy New Year, everyone!

Lisa here … fresh off the first ATM show of 2007 … I hadn’t realized how much I missed our theme music!

Jonathan and I made up our list of New Year’s resolutions and above even losing that pesky 10 pounds by spring training (that’s my resolution, just like it is every year) and … well, whatever Jonathan’s resolutions were, we put at the very top to blog regularly here at "He Said, She Said."

We have a few ideas we’re looking forward to implementing, all interactive with our readers … including starting up a "Minor League travelogue" of sorts that folks can refer to if they’re planning a Minor League road trip. When we hit the road we’ll blog about sights and sites, restaurants, ballparks and other spots of interest and we hope that our readers will do the same … if you live in a town/city fortunate enough to host (or be near) a Minor League club, please share with us what visitors should be sure to check out!

We hope to get that started around spring training …

Meanwhile, the cybertwins will be back on the road together again this week as we head to Leesburg, Va., for the Rookie Career Development program. Stay tuned for lots of video footage of that event and hopefully a world’s record for player interviews … as well, of course, as our blog updates!

By the way, if you haven’t done so already, be sure to check out our updates to our 2006 Organization Previews in the news archives of MiLB.com … it’s almost as much fun (OK, maybe even more fun) to read Jonathan’s take on the results as it is to read the predictions themselves.

If nothing else, it’s certainly made me start thinking about our picks for ’07 … so stay tuned.

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