Thursday, December 06, 2007

Rule 5 update

Former Defender Joe Bateman was selected by Milwaukee in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 draft. One other Giants prospect, LHP Travis Blackley was selected by Philadelphia in the major league phase.

The Giants selected Jose Capellan from the Red Sox in the major league phase and SS Juan Ciriaco from the Padres in the Triple-A phase.

As for Bateman, he showed signs of having big-league stuff especially once he regained his comfort level after returning from an arm injury in spring training. Good luck to him.

And just an amusing note, Ray Liotta (not from Field of Dreams) was selected by Kansas City in the Triple-A phase.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

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.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


As the season winds down, many of the players pack up as much as they can before returning home for the offseason. One thing catcher Steve Holm is hoping to leave behind is his car. He has a 1997 Nissan Pathfinder with 165,000 miles and is asking $4,999 or best offer.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Last chance

Sorry it's been a while -- I was out of town. Now that I am back, let's discuss the start of the final home stand of the season.

What is amazing -- record aside -- is how fast the season has gone by. With the all-star game more than halfway into the season, the "second half" flies by rapidly.

Anyhow, back to business...there's a double header Tuesday and five good games should be expected. We all know the crowds have been less-than-desirable, but here's hoping that baseball fans come out in full force this week to cheer on the Defenders.

Look, you may not like how they've played, but they have played hard so let them know you appreciate them and the value of minor league baseball.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Hardest time

“By far, not even close. Part of it is because I feel like I’m not only worrying about making sure that I’m prepared and that the team’s prepared, I’m worried about individual psyches, where they’re at and where they’re going. That’s a non-stop job.”

-- Manager Shane Turner on the nine-game losing streak being the toughest experience as a player or manager.

Holm on DL

Catcher Steve Holm was placed on the disabled after a mishap in the team’s indoor batting cage Tuesday. While playing catch with Dayton Buller, Holm jumped to make a catch and rolled his ankle when he landed. Replacing Holm on the roster is Todd Jennings, who has spent parts of the last two seasons with the Defenders. Jennings and Buller will share the catching duties.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Fun comment

from Trenton's Noah Hall:

"No, I think with hitters, there are just teams that sometimes you're just comfortable against them for one reason or another. Although like (Joe) Bateman, I hate facing that guy, you know? That's a guy that's really tough for me. He's just tough. It's not always just the team, but some teams, for some reason or another, you're just more confident and you happen to get more hits. That's all it is."

Friday, August 17, 2007


Another game blown in the ninth inning. It gets pretty frustrating even when there are two weeks plus left to the season.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

RIP Phil Rizzuto

I never got to see him play. That is, outside of video highlights from his World Series games. But I am part of the last generation to experience "The Scooter" in the broadcast booth.

My childhood is filled with memories of watching Rizzuto and Bill White discussing cannoli and calling people Huckleberry in between pitches.

His passing is such a great loss. It's safe to say we'll miss Phil.

Here's one last "Holy Cow" just for you!

Re: Sunday's article

I want clear something up before I say anything else: the team is not leaving after this season. The reality is they are here at least through next season and very likely in 2009 (possibly as a lame duck).

That said, I couldn't agree more with the responses posted below. There are multiple parties to blame for what's happening here. The only factor which is exempt of blame is that the market size is small. But, it was big enough when it was a Yankees affiliate. Did the novelty wear off? I'm beginning to believe so.

Those who decided to put the stadium in a business park should be ashamed of themselves for the short-sighted thinking and for essentially condemning the team to Siberia.

Not having local ownership has hurt the team, but I'm not convinced that it has been that big of a factor.

What bothers me the most is that the staff in place this year has done a fantastic job and those who have decided to turn away from the team for whatever reason are missing out on a fun experience irregardless of what happens on the field.

As for on the field, I am sick and tired of hearing people tell me that the Defenders front office (i.e. GM Charlie Dowd) doesn't put good enough players on the field. HELLO!!!! Dowd and the Defenders aren't responsible for providing players. That distinction belongs to the San Francisco Giants, who have done about as poor of a job as possible.

The best player in recent memory skips Norwich entirely, there are no every day position players on the big league team and don't provide the attractive rehab assignments. Look, the best position player the Giants have had here is John Bowker and no one knew what we were in store this year until two months had passed.

The hope here is that things somehow turn around before its too late.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Check out Sunday's Bulletin

I provide an analysis of what the future may hold for the Connecticut Defenders. Hopefully it will spark debate, conversation and maybe even action towards keeping the team in place.

Just when ou thought it was safe

The Defenders blow a late-inning lead and lose tto Erie Saturday night. The usually reliable bullpen faltered as Kelvin Pichardo and Billy Sadler gave up home runs in the bottom of the eighth. The Defenders scored once in the ninth -- on a Tyler Von Schell homer -- to get within a run, but that was all they could do.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Nice win

Wednesday's win is exactly the kind of win the Defenders would have usually let slip away. They took an early lead, allowed Akron to tie the game, but instead of faltering in extras, they hung in there to pull out the win on Simon Klink's home run.

Maybe even more impressive is that it was at Akron, a place the Defenders had only won once since changing affiliations.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Back at it

Sorry I was gone for a few days so there weren't any updates. The Defenders, however, are back on the road after a solid series with Erie. The D-Men are out in Akron, Ohio to take on the Aeros, who showed last week that they are a good team and don't need to be flashy, either.

If the Defenders learned anything they can take into this set it is that the team cannot afford to give away games with mistakes. Connecticut can't allow letting tr=he routine plays slide so Akron can extend an inning. There seemed to be one inning in each game that ultimately doomed them. If the Defenders cab avoid this again, they may win a game or three.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


That's the feeling watching this game. The Defenders looked lifeless as the Aeros scored five runs in the fifth inning.

Manager Shane Turner wants to see his team rise above challenges on the field but the message seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Let's give Akron starter Chuck Lofgren cedit, but the Defenders have just looked bad tonight.

At one point, I felt as if I went back in time to April or May before realizing it was never this warm during those months.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Welcome back

to Billy Sadler, who was sent to the Defenders today from Triple-A. Taylor Wilding was sent to San Jose.

From San Francisco Chronicle

This is a portion of an article on the SF Chronicle website. It reiterates point I brought up last week in a blog entry regarding Giants outfielders:

In an interview last week, Sabean said he and manager Bruce Bochy hope to give more starts to younger players such as Lewis and Kevin Frandsen over the final two months of the season. If Sabean can clear more roster space by trading older position players, either today or during the August waiver trading season, he plans to promote more prospects so the team can evaluate them for 2008.

Dan Ortmeier, Clay Timpner and Nate Schierholtz, three outfielders at Triple-A Fresno, are swinging the bat well, with the latter two batting over .300, possibly earning them a look.

"I really believe we'll need to play some of our young people to evaluate them," Sabean said. "I have talked to Boch about that."

Sabean also offered more details on the Giants' reconstruction plan. For the first time, he acknowledged he might have to trade some of the young pitching the organization holds dear to acquire talented young position players who can complement the team's aging veterans as the Giants transit to a new era.

"We're going to be in a position where we have an opportunity to study and identify which positions we need to focus on, and we may have to cross that bridge in the winter," he said.

At the same time, Sabean acknowledged that young impact hitters are difficult to acquire, and he has a Plan B. If the team cannot engineer such deals, he is prepared to rip a page from the San Diego Padres' playbook: Have the Giants do the best they can offensively with the talent in hand and bolster the pitching.

"We will build around the pitching we have," he said. "If we have to make it stronger, we'll strengthen it. We've all learned from San Diego what pitching can do in this division. We're halfway there with what we have in hand without any moves we have to make to acquire position players.

"That's the road we might have to take if we're going to have a different lineup that is challenged on the power side or on the run-scoring side. Why not make our strength even stronger?"

That comment might dishearten fans hoping for a quick fix that could turn the Giants into a young, exciting, speedy, powerful team. But as any rebuilding team can attest, there are no quick fixes without spending a gazillion dollars on free agents - a path the Giants swear they plan to abandon.

Patience might be in order as the Giants see whether such minor-league outfielders as Ortmeier, Schierholtz and Timpner can cut it in the majors. Behind them is right fielder John Bowker, who is posting impressive numbers for Double-A Connecticut.

Bowker is batting .296 with 17 homers and 70 RBIs playing in a pitcher's park and a pitcher's league. On the other hand, he has 81 strikeouts in 395 at-bats.

Behind Bowker are Class A shortstop Brian Bocock and 17-year-old third baseman Angel Villalona, both appearing in distant dreams.

Ahead of them all is Lewis, the next best hope for the Giants to break their long drought of home-grown position players.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Coming back home

The Defenders are back home starting Tuesday with a pair of three-game series against Southern Division teams. Both Akron and Erie are tough and have gotten decent pitching performances. Off the top of my head, I'm not sure if Erie's Dallas Trahern, an all star, will pitch this weekend.

Connecticut has gotten itself out of last place -- again -- and I'm interested to see how the offense functions after playing football in Portland. The season seems to be more about being competitive than it does trying to make the playoffs. Reality is, the odds are slim to nothing against the Defenders. Could they catch New Britain? Yeah. I think if they continue to play the way they have in the past two weeks they can. But catching New Hampshire and Portland is a tall task.

John Bowker is out of the slump he entered after the all-star game and is on a tear. Eugenio Velez is on the Giants' 40-man roster and Randy Ruiz joins his fourth EL team in two seasons. The last month should be interesting.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Ruiz was signed as a free agent after he was released Tuesday by the Triple-A Ottawa Lynx. No word as to what roster move was made to accommodate the addition.

Defenders add Ruiz

More to follow on the addition of one of the more dangerous hitters in recent EL history.

Trading places

With the trade deadline less than a week away, it's always interesting to see the names that come up in rumors and speculation. I learned earlier this week that a lot of what you read in papers covering major league teams are more about guessing than it is about reliable information.

That aside, I still find myself biting when there's something about my Yankees. As for the Giants and Defenders, the only name I'm hearing much of is San Francisco pitcher Matt Morris.

There haven't been as many scouts following the Defenders recently, but two teams which have been fairly present at home and away are the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners. Scouts from other teams have popped up here and there and have spoken with me regarding some of the Defenders.

Two players that came up in conversation most often were Alex Hinshaw and Eugenio Velez.

It wouldn't surprise me if Velez was dealt. Considering the number of outfielders in the Giants' system, the team can reduce the backlog and possibly acquire infielders, which are the greatest need.

With Nate Schierholtz, Dan Ortmeier, Fred Lewis, Brian Horwitz, Clay Timpner, John Bowker and Velez there are plenty of outfielders at the Triple- and Double-A levels.

Figure with the current Giants' OF of Barry Bonds, Dave Roberts and Randy Winn not having many years left (Bonds and Roberts are likely gone after this season), there's a need for players. Lewis likely moves into the lineup with Schierholtz next season.

My guess is that Bowker is the most likely to stick in the bigs out of the remaining cast. Logic, plus the need to move players up in the system, makes it seem likely that an outfielder will be moved either via trade or during the offseason.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Might I say...

It dawned on me that I took over this beat about a year ago. What a year it has been!

This season has been better than last in so many ways. Mostly because coming in mid season is tough. But I think my writing is better, which hopefully makes those 1-0 defeats easier to stomach the next day.

Covering the Defenders is fun. Whether it is getting to know the guys as more than baseball players or being around baseball nearly every day for five months, you can't beat it.

Being as competitive as I am, I would like to see better media coverage of the team. I know some outlets are only interested in the Defenders fans' dollars but don't want to return the interest in the team with coverage. I'm also a little fed up with disingenuous responses to why the Defenders don't deserve this or that. Maybe it's that the team knows there are some who view them as second-class citizens. I don't want the Norwich Bulletin to be a follower in the "Who Gave up on the Defenders first" race. It's much nicer making the case for why they shouldn't be ignored; never mind they are a newsworthy element in the community.

That's part of what hurts them. We have plenty of media outlets from Hartford to New Haven on East who ignore them. I understand the TV stations can't get out here regularly. Maybe twice a month would be nice.

The point is that if the media doesn't feel the team deserves coverage, than why should those who watch/listen/read from those outlets believe the Defenders are worth their while.

I had a peer recently ask me why the Bulletin and I continue to cover the Defenders because they are "bad." I would simply say: why bother ever showing up if your not going to make a consistent effort?

There are two other papers within a short distance of Dodd Stadium besides the Bulletin. One shows up every full moon and the other hasn't been down once.

I'll cut one paper some slack, they are very small and don't have a particularly large staff. The other? They're bigger than the Bulletin and just turn a blind eye.

It's time the local media wakes up and realize they have a role in how the Defenders' future plays out.


Brooks McNiven was named the Eastern league's Pitcher of the Week today.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Mac story

Norwich Bulletin

NORWICH -- Sitting in what had been his office for nearly three seasons, Dave Machemer sat at the desk one last time, looking equal parts tired and relieved.
Three years can seem like an eternity, especially for a minor league baseball manager. Machemer, who has never managed a team for as long as he has the Connecticut Defenders, stepped down Sunday. He was replaced by Shane Turner, who managed the team the two seasons prior to Machemer‘s arrival.
“Sure I’m disappointed in the way the club played this year,” Machemer said. “As a manager, I always tell the guys, it’s the captain of the ship is the guy that’s going to go down with the ship.”
Bobby Evans, the San Francisco Giants Director of Player Personnel, offered Machemer the option of being reassigned as a major league scout or be released. Machemer said he didn’t sleep much Saturday night but after much deliberation, decided to remain employed.
“After some reservations at first, because it is a change,” Machemer said of the new post. “It’s something I had never done. Once I heard what it curtailed and the chance that it guaranteed me another year on my contract, I felt a new chapter in my life needed to begin.”
The move itself wasn’t unexpected. The timing, however, was. With the Defenders mired in last place and 10 ½ games out of a playoff spot, it would seem that the postseason serve as a likely time to change directions. But the Giants thought otherwise.
It had been a difficult week for Machemer and the Defenders. The Giants general manager and vice president of player personnel were present for two games in New Britain where the Defenders gave up 24 runs in two games, including the series finale in which the Defenders allowed 12 runs in the seventh and eighth innings, costing the team a win.
It appears that it was the team’s play over those two days that sealed Machemer’s fate.
After the game, Machemer held a team meeting that Turner was present for.
“I think all of us involved, we’re all a part of this no matter how big or small,” said Turner, who will manage the team through the final month plus of the season, “I felt responsible. I’ve been here enough. I felt like we can get more out of these kids.”
With the Defenders on pace for their worst winning percentage in franchise history, Machemer’s 176-206 record with the team became too much to bear.
“Any time the club struggles, you always look at what your options are to improve the club or help the situation. It’s a difficult situation because we have a lot of confidence in Machemer. Sometimes making change is what’s best for the club.”
Earlier this season Machemer became the team’s all-time leader in wins for a manager and was the fifth among active minor league managers with 1,233 wins over 18 years as a manager.
The players were surprised that the move came when it did and are unsure of how the managerial change will affect the team, especially this late in the season. With the exception of May, when the team was 11 games under .500, the Defenders’ performance had not been horrible, per se, as they have been six games under even in April, June and July combined.
“I feel like I let him down,” shortstop Jake Wald said. “In the end, he’s the head of this team, he’s the leader of this team and the Giants felt a switch would help us. … I do feel a little bad.”
Many of the Defenders are familiar with Turner, who managed Triple-A Fresno and most recently served as a roving outfield/base running instructor within the Giants organization.
“We had no idea,” catcher Steve Holm said. “This is my seventh year playing and I’ve never been involved in anything like this. I guess it’s going to be a learn on the fly thing. We know Shane, so it’s not like they’re bringing in someone you don’t know.”
On his way out, Machemer had few regrets, if any.
“I can still say I came to work with a positive attitude every day and I thought on that given night, we came to play hard and we came to win,” he said. “I think I have given the players an honest shake every night. I really do.”
Reach Joe Perez at 425-4257 or

The explaination

Bobby Evans, the Giants Director of Player Personnel, spoke with Machemer last night and made him the offer of accepting a reassignment as a major league scout for the team or be fired. The Giants obviously value Mac's ability to evaluate talent, so that's the reason they kept him on board. They also gave Mac a guaranteed contract through next season, something he did not have as manager of the Defenders.

Machemer out

Shane Turner is new (old) manager. More later.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Tony Scott on ESPN2

The Defenders box office manager Tony Scott just completed a four-minute segment on ESPN2's "First Take" to discuss tonight's Harry Potter promotion.

I think a few minutes were cut from the originally planned segment because of "breaking news" regarding Michael Vick.

This looks like a good promotion tonight and Scott said he anticipates close to a full house.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Tidbits with Sabean

On the Giants' draft philosophy:
"First and foremost, most of the time we have driven our draft with pitching. The last couple years, we've gotten more diverse and I think we've seen that we've been successful in developing those pitchers, not only for our own purposes but in trade for position players. Now the game has changed where position players are getting so expensive to go out and trade for or moreso sign on the free-agent market that we've got to have a better balance and we realize that now."

"Unfortunately for us, our pipeline's been pitching, for some reason, whether it's a young fan or anybody that follows the club from year to year, they get excited about following the position players that come through whatever organization or whatever affiliate and it's one of those years that we get guys like Velez, who's going to play in the big leagues, Bowker's going to play in the big leagues, I'm impressed with Holm's development, he's a kid that's come a long way, so I think it's just proof in the pudding that you need a better balance and we're striving for that."

On moving the field this offseason:
"I don't know. I know it was one of our requests at the beginning of the year and I know it was caught up in some red tape with the ballclub or the franchise or the city, I'm not sure, but it was on our wish list."

On the lack of rehab appearances:
"It's geography, more than anything. It's very difficult with any major league player when you have Triple A in Fresno, San Jose right down the street from us, 30 minutes, and then of course we've got our own complex and spring training situated year-round in Arizona. So with those three opportunities, you're able to stair-step guys. Unless the team was actually on the East Coast working their way west, it really doesn't make sense."

On the MLB all-star game:
"The All-Star Game was very exciting. At this time of the year, us in the front office, quite frankly, unless you're going out to see a minor league team, you want to try to take a step back and evaluate things. But with all the family and friends in town and seeing how the city put on such a great reception for these guys, it was very exciting. I think it's good for the organization to showcase the ballpark and the city. That was a big first step. Of course, the next one is hopefully to get Barry [Bonds] over the hump with this home run record as soon as possible. That part has been a distraction for everybody."

On fan support of Barry Bonds:
"He's never had a problem at home. The San Francisco community, given that he grew up with his dad playing there and the great things he's done for the organization, that's really his bastion. I'm not surprised. I'm smart enough to realize that there's a way online you can stuff the ballot box, so to speak. They paid him all due respect, so to speak. I think it's fitting he started in left field for the National League."

On whether he worries if Bonds passes Aaron on the road:
"I worry right now more about scoring four runs at home, like we did last night. No matter who's in the lineup, we get a chance to win. What's frustrating for us is that he's not swinging the bat well at all, whether it's him trying to hit a home run or getting a home run in the game or moreso him to drive in runs as a fourth hitter. He has to go back to being more relaxed and putting the ball in play more, and when he's on, which is good in the pinch-hit appearance last night when he drove the ball to left field, to left-center, it means he's staying on ball better and he's not pull-hooking it, trying to hit the ball nine miles to right field."

Bonds' future with the team:
"Everybody's going to be evaluated on the year as a whole. The one thing of concern would be the age factor as well as what we're seeing in the past week or so. It's tough to get him there in the day after a night game and he's going to need a couple of days off here and there. It's not so much him and his talent, but as you build a lineup or team for the future, you want your everyday three, four and five hitters out there as much as possible. We'll keep an open mind, but he's got a hill to climb."

With having an aging MLB team, what is the significance of this season of player development:
"The position players are going to be given more of an opportunity. Fortunately, we've got guys right now like [Kevin] Frandsen, who's going to play a little bit more. Even [Fred] Lewis. We brought up [Dan] Ortmeier and [Nate] Schierholtz, who I think are going to crack the situation before the end of the year. Fortunately, for the organization itself, on the big league team we've got a young pitching staff that we'll be able to build upon and around. But the game – with everybody's concern being the budgets that we all have or moreso just the rigors of the schedule, it seems to be getting younger and younger every year, and we all have – we'll follow through as much as the rest of the decision has."

On the trade deadline:
"We'll see. I think we said all along, and this is before we knew what kind of fortunes we were going to have. Right now, we're obviously in last place and way below .500, but we want to get involved in transactions that help us present and future. We're not going to rent players and we have to be really smart in who we give up. It would be safe to say that we will not want to give up any shining lights, especially in the pitching department and moreso with position players that will impact us next year."

More in the paper tomorrow

Special guests

Giants GM Brian Sabean and minor league director Dick Todrow are with the Defenders. More on my conversation with Sabean later.

Monday, July 16, 2007

New poll

Vote and leave comments with your thoughts.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Tough loss

This is a frustrating team. They have as much young (read not career-minor league) talent as anyone not named Trenton and with it comes mistakes of inexperienced. Part of me is convinced that the majority of the team probably should be in Single-A or hey need to bring in some serious experienced help to give them a boost.

The let downs of Ishikawa and EME (who I doubt will be in the organization after this season, hurt early on. But now it seems many of the offensive players are in a funk. And after the All-Star break, that shouldn't be.

I think the poll this coming week will be about what you, the fan, wants to see. Keep an eye out for it during the NB series.

The winner is...

2,423. That's what is announced.

Let's make a deal

My eye count says there are 500-800 people. The Defenders will announce 2,000, or at least I think they will. Let's see what's closer my eye count or my guess at what will be announced.

It looks like a spring training game here -- minus palm trees.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

No dice

Tonight the Defenders had planned on giving away Daisuke Matsuzaka bobble heads, but because of Major League Baseball's trademark and licensing agreement, the promotion had to be scrapped. In its place, the giveaway was a camouflage San Francisco Giants cap.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


I've gotten a few votes on the poll to the right, now let's hear what you guys thought beyond one word votes.

It's been some time

Since the Defenders were more than just percentage points out of last place. After the 2-1 over Binghamton Thursday, the Defenders are a game ahead of Binghamton, which also marks the first time in roughly two months since they have been out of the basement.

New look

I've changed the appearance of the blog and added a poll. Keep your eyes open for a new poll question every week.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Fire! Not really.

The fire alarm went off at Dodd Stadium and caused a 15-minute delay in the home run derby. It was comical because every time the PA announcer tried to speak, the alarm would go back on.

Star gazing

I'm up at Dodd and there weren't too many people here. There was a couple dozen autograph seekers outside the gate. Sales have picked up, with nearly 6,000 sold and additional premium seats made available.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Tyler Von Schell was named the Eastern League's Player of the Week after batting over .400 with three homers and 10 RBI.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Amazing first half

With two RBI already against Binghamton today, John Bowker has passed Nate Schierholtz's team-best RBI total from last season.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

All-Star changes

Alex Hinshaw is out and Brian Anderson and Osiris Matos are in.

The team felt with Hinshaw recently coming off the DL, it wasn't worth the risk of him getting hurt in an exhibition game. He is replaced by Anderson. Matos joins the team as a replacement for Portland's Clay Buchholz, who is pitching in the future's game in San Francisco.

Klink streak snapped

Simon Klink's 21-game streak of reaching base safely came to an end Wednesday. Something tells me another streak isn't far off. He's seeing the ball well and hasn't looked bad in most of his at-bats over the past month.

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Fearsome Five

The Connecticut Defenders posted five players to the Eastern league All-Star team for the game held at Dodd Stadium July 11.

The players are: Pitchers Geno Espineli and Alex Hinshaw, catcher Steve Holm, second baseman Eugenio Velez and outfielder John Bowker.

Manager Dave Machemer will guide the Northern Division team as Norwich is the host city.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Getting a read

The scouts are out on droves today. As the trade deadline in less than a month away, teams are taking a long look at prospects.

Worth noting is the interest of an American League East team in today's starter, Dave McKae.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Roster questions...and answers

Just to respond to a previous question, Alex Requena is not on the DL. He is just fine.

Catcher Todd Jennings was called up to AAA Fresno, not because his numbers were so fantastic, but because there was an injury to the back up there and they needed an extra body. The Giants don't want to take at-bats away from Steve Holm since he's possibly the best offensive catcher in the system.

Replacing Jennings for the time being is right handed catcher Dayton Buller.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Welcome back

Tyler Von Schell rejoins the Defenders today. Don't expect him in the lineup at Portland tonight but he should be at first tomorrow at Dodd Stadium.

Writers' all-stars

The Eastern League Baseball Writers Association has announced its mid-season All-Star team.

C – Robinzon Diaz, New Hampshire
1B – Jordan Brown, Akron
2B – Eugenio Velez, Connecticut
3B – Neil Walker, Altoona
SS – Asdrubal Cabrera, Akron
OF – Greg Jacobs, Reading; Brian Barton, Akron; Caleb Stewart, Binghamton; Aaron Mathews, New Hampshire (three-way tie for last two spots)
DH – Jackson Melian, Erie
Utility – Jesus Merchan, Reading
Right-handed Starter – Clay Buchholz, Portland
Left-handed Starter – Geno Espineli, Connecticut
Reliever – Matt Peterson, Altoona

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


After Monday's game there was an alleged altercation involving the visting clubhouse attendant and two members of the media; one from New Britain and the other from Hartford.

What I was told was that after speaking with Rock Cats manager Ricardo Ingram, the two men apraoched the New Britain starting pitcher for the game, who was eating his post-game meal.

Now this is not uncommon. The players respect that you are on deadline and have a job to do and in return, you make the questioning go as quickly as possible.

As the pitcher, Ryan Mullins agreed and began answering questions, the attendant -- who is an employee of the Defenders -- told the scribes that they were not allowed to talk to Mullins. Supposedly, the attendant got in the face of one writer and may have pushed him.

After the two writers left, supposedly the attendant followed them out onto the concourse, yelling at them and got in front of the same writer who may or may not have been pushed in an attempt to prevent him from going back to the press box. That writer allegedly pushed the attendant out of his way. As a result, the attendant claimed he was assaulted and is going to press charges.

How much of the above is accurate, I don't know. I do know the writers have recordings of part of the altercation and that they, as well as the attendant, have spoken to the police.

More than once in the course of when I returned from the Defenders' clubhouse that people tried to get one of the writers to stop working on hie stories and to talk with the police. The writer refused because he was on deadline and his livlihood is at stake if he misses deadline. he said once hsi work was sent, he would talk.

Some of the people who came to get the writer handled the situation professionally, while others did not.

I have an opinion on this, but reserve the right to voice it until I can hear more details.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Injury news

First baseman Travis Ishikawa’s day as a Defenders have likely reached their end. The first baseman, on the disabled list since June 16 after cutting open his right knee making a sliding catch, has been sent to Single-A San Jose to continue his rehabilitation. Once activated, Ishikawa will likely be assigned to Triple-A Fresno, according to Defenders skipper Dave Machemer.
“When his rehab is done he’s going to get a shot to go to Fresno and play some there,” Machemer said. “A change of scenery.”
Pitcher Alex Hinshaw also still on the disabled list and is making progress.
“He’s getting a little better,” Machemer said. “I don’t know the time frame, but he is showing improvement and light tossing.”
Two players who were sent to extended spring training in Scottsdale, Az., Derin McMains and Eddy Martinez-Esteve, are on different paths. McMains’ season is over as the infielder after undergoing shoulder surgery. Machemer said the oft-injured Martinez-Esteve is “day-to-day.”

Saturday, June 23, 2007


Eugenio Velez is starting in center field and not second base tonight. This is his first game as a professional in the outfield.


I pulled into the Dodd Stadium parking lot two hours before the game and had much less variety in the parking spots to choose from. Why? Because there are so many people here for the salute to veterans that the lot was more than half full.

It's great to see so many people at the game -- and early!

Big crowds

If the Defenders draw over 5,000 fans for Saturday's game against New Britain, it will be the first time since August of 2000 that the franchise has done so for three consecutive games. Maybe the fans of the team are coming around after all!

Friday, June 22, 2007

See ya Sosa

Carlos Sosa smacked his first home run of the year Thursday, putting the Defenders up for good against Portland. The ball easily cleared the Foxwoods sign in right and I don't even want to guess at how much further it went before hitting the ground.

It was a good win; the guys were as loose as they have been in a couple of weeks.

On a side note, the attendance was over 5,000 and I would say every head was accounted for. With fireworks Friday and the rescheduled salute to vets, we may see three consecutive 5,000-plus crowds.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

More on Tuesday's controversy

Following Tuesday's game, Defenders manager Dave Machemer saw video of Eugenio Velez's at-bat in which he was ruled to have stepped out of the batters box. The home plate umpire saw a cleat mark in front of the box, determined it was Velez's and ruled him out. John Bowker doubled on the next pitch, which likely would have scored Velez with the tying run.

According to Machemer, the video shows only part of Velez's foot out of the box, which is not illegal, thus the call incorrect.

The actual rule, taken from

A batter is out for illegal action when --
(a) He hits a ball with one or both feet on the ground entirely outside the batter’s box.
Rule 6.06(a) Comment: If a batter hits a ball fair or foul while out of the batter’s box, he shall be called out. Umpires should pay particular attention to the position of the batter’s feet if he attempts to hit the ball while he is being intentionally passed. A batter cannot jump or step out of the batter’s box and hit the ball.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


The Defenders have released pitcher Jeff Petersen and righty Taylor Wilding has been assigned from Single-A San Jose.

Monday, June 18, 2007


to John Bowker as he was named the Eastern League's Player of the Week.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Coming home

Nice to see the Defenders coming home after a fairly successful series at Altoona. The Curve are tough and now we get to see what a good past 10 days to 2 weeks doesalong with nice weather for the crowds.

Tuesday's Juneteenth celebration should be fantastic, as should the fireworks on Friday and Saturday's televised and re-scheduled salute to veterans. Let's see a new record for attendance for a homestand come about by next week.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

familiar faces

I'm in Boston catching up with some familiar and not-so familiar faces. Check out tomorrow's paper and see what some of Norwich's former players have to say about life after Dodd.

Friday, June 15, 2007


With the All-Star Game three weeks away, I'd like your thoughts as who should represent the Defenders. I'm going to not include Eugenio Velez because he hasn't been with the team a much more than a month.

My picks:
The definites...
John Bowker
Geno Espineli
The possibles...
Carlose Sosa
Garret Broshuis
The dark horse...
Jake Wald

Your thoughts, picks?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Running into a wall

Trenton's pitching staff is far and away the best in the minors -- and the numbers show it, too. So when the Defenders began their series with the Thunder Tuesday, no matter how hot the bats are, Trenton can cool them off quickly.

It will be interesting to see if the Defenders can break out even in one game against Trenton because the Thunder have had the Defenders' number.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The McKae explaination

This is what Dave Machemer -- and Dave McKae -- told me about McKae being pulled after eight VERY impressive innings.

Mac said that pitchers aren't supposed to go over 90 pitches, give or take a few for a final batter. He said it is an organization decision that he needs to follow because "I like my job."

McKae said he knew he wasn't coming back out because of his pitch count. He was disappointed with the outcome, but said he trusts that wouldn't happen much.

My thing is: Even if McKae came out for one more batter, I doubt it would've hurt him or the Giants. Next is, if Anderson shows he isn't getting the job done -- and I think home run, single, single shows this much, why not pull him? Someone else was warming up. Part of the problem is Anderson and for that matter, Matos, haven't pitched in a week. With all of the blow outs lately, where was the work for these guys?

What's important ow is the team try to take the last game and start another win streak heading to Trenton.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

New look

Despite the tribute to veterans being postponed and rescheduled for June 23, the Defenders still sported special jerseys that, in my opinion, look better than the normal uniforms.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Official transaction

Simon Klink is off the DL and Alex Requena is now "disabled." Jake Wald has yet to make the move to the DL. The team appears to want to give Wald a couple days to see how his hammy responds.

nice evening for baseball

The crowd is slowly trickling in and with it being Friday it can only mean one thing: FIREWORKS! What does that mean? At least 3,000 fans at Dodd Stadium.

It's just a good overall night here and the hope is the rain stays away until well after the game.

Tomorrow will be even better. There should be a sellout here.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Just in case you missed it

In today's Norwich Bulletin, I reported that both Jake Wald and Alex Requena are expected to go on the disabled list today with Simon Klink being activated and available to pinch run or hit. No word on who fills the open spot.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Minus one

Victor Torres, the San Francisco Giants' roving hitting instructor who had been with the team since it left Arizona, has returned to Scottsdale. Torres was assigned to the team to help ease the work load of hitting instructor Gary Davenport, who was coming off of multiple knee operations during the offseason.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

EME update

Eddy Martinez-Esteve has been sent to extended spring training. I haven't had the chance to speak to Dave Machemer but I will get more on this for you later.

Full strength and a little lighter

After Simon Klink was placed on the DL and Darren Sack was sent down to San Jose, the Defenders are at full strength today as Dave McKae and Alex requena arrive into town today.

Sack really struggled with the Defenders -- his ERA was over four runs worse than the next highest on the team.

If you recall, Alex Requena spent time with the team in April and when he was demoted, he was leading the Eastern League in stolen bases. Manager Dave Machemer doesn't plan on playing the speedy outfielder every day. Happy with the results of the Sosa-Dobson-Bowker trio, Requena will give one of those guys a day off or slide in when there is a DH.

On a related note, Eddy Martinez-Esteve is "not ready" to play yet as he is not fully healthy.

McKae will fall into Sack's slot in the roatation is will take the mound this weekend.

Also, a few of the guys are sporting shorter, more aero dynamic haircuts. If you were at Wednesday's game, you may have seen Nick Pereira charting pitches with tonight's starter, Garrett Broshuis. Pereira looked like a completely different person.

Maybe the new look and the new life in the bats will mean a turn for the better.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Roster moves

Darren Sack is headed to Single-A San Jose, Alex Requena returns and Dave McKae joins him, as well.

McKae has some nice numbers: 5-1 with a 1.93 ERA with 11 starts at San Jose. He has 58 strikeouts, 16 walks and 49 hits over 65 1/3 innings.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Incredible shrinking crowd

There might be 200 people at Dodd Stadium tonight. Let's take a poke at possible reasons why so few people are here when it was two tickets for the price of one night:

* It's Tuesday night
* No one had a friend/date/family member to take to the game
* The repeat of "According to Jim" was too good to pass up
* It's too warm/cold/dry/wet
* Real Red Sox fans don't care about prospects
* Minor League Baseball isn't real baseball
* I broke a nail
* It isn't fireworks night
* Cutter is no Tater the Gator
* There's way too much traffic
* Last year's inflated concession prices were better
* When the Defenders have a jingle like the Rock Cats, then I'll consider going
* Holm-Jennings, Jennings-Holm; I just don't know who's the catcher and who's the DH
* Ever since the Navigators left, I haven't been able to support a new team
* There's a baseball team in Norwich?
* They don't win

People, get over yourselves. If this team leaves, it will be the fault of those who don't attend games. So what they don't win; neither do the Rock Cats and they draw twice as well as the Defenders. Stop with the excuses.

Klink update

Defenders 3B Simon Klink has been placed on the disabled list retroactive to May 21. I spoke with Klink on Friday and he seemed pretty optimistic regarding his return, noting that he was scheduled to take batting practice Monday. Yesterday, his optimisim was restrained, telling me he hit off a tee and hoped to play by Thursday. Manager Dave Machemer told me that Klink "isn't close."

When dealing with shoulder in injuries, especially when it involves the rotator cuff, as Klink suggested, you have to be VERY cautious.

Here's hoping for a speedy recovery.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Thank you

To our troops, past and present, thank you.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Viva Velez

Eugenio Velez may have only been in town a week, but he's showing signs of why he was the SAL MVP last year. Today, he stole four bases, two on the same at-bat and ties the franchise recoed (both Navigators and Defenders) which was set on 4/21 of this season by Alex Requena.

Memorable meeting

Getting to spend over a half hour with Felipe Alou yesterday was something I will not forget any time soon. The history and the knowledge of the game that he shared was exciting and I hope that if you only read the short amount in today's hard copy that you check out the full interview online.

Friday, May 25, 2007


Travis Ishikawa is not with the team as he is with his family following the passing of his grandmother. Let's all keep the Ishikawa family in our thoughts and prayers.

Simon Klink injured his left shoulder diving for a ball in New Britain last weekend and is looking to take BP Monday. He told me tonight that he is feeling better every day but because of the nature of his injury he and the team are taking things day-by-day.

Also in town is former Giants manager Felipe Alou. Look for more on this over the weekend.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Klink dinged?

Simon Klink only had one at-bat Wednesday against the B-Mets before Jake Wald took over. I haven't heard what the reasoning was, but I will get you an answer hopefully before Thursday's game starts.

I really like Klink's glove, but is he better than Wald? I don't know.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Escape from New Britain

Has anyone ever told you that Eastern League stadiums are like penitentiaries?

After the game had ended, I was sitting in the press box with Ken Lipshez of the New Britain Herald and Tom Hein of the Hartford Courant. Ken left and just a few moments after, I departed. As I made my way towards an exit at the stadium, I found that it was locked. As was every other possible exit.

I walked around the stadium searching for a way out or for any signs of life. Alas, I came to the conclusion that Tom and I were the last people at New Britain Stadium. Somewhere after Ken left and before I made my way down, the last gate was locked.

What is unusual is that on every previous visit to NBS, even when I have been there until 11 or later, there was at least one gate open.

Back to the story...

I run into the stands and yell up to Tom in the press box. He asks me to wait until he comes down to attempt my escape. My first idea was to climb up on a bar stool and lift ourselves over a gate. Tom wasn't a big fan of the idea.

We made our way to left field by the visiting team entrance. Tom suggests using the stand used for handing out game programs. I'm not convinced it can hold my weight (230-240 lbs). Seeing a shed used by the grounds crew, we try to figure how to climb the shed and get over the fence. We grab a trainer's table outside the visiting clubhouse and attempt to climb on top of it and onto the shed. It is too short.

We carry the wooden program stand and get on the table and onto the stand and onto the shed. Tom got his right leg up, but struggled to get on the shed, so I gave him a boost. He slid down the far side of the shed and rested. After evaluating the roughly 10-foot drop, Tom sat on the end, grabbed the fence and hung on to break his momentum before lowering himself to the ground with a drop of about five feet.

He walks over to the side where I lifted and then lowered our bags containing our laptops into his outstretched arms.

Now it is my turn. I rise the same way, but can't get on the shed. Instead I decide to turn around and try to jump up from the stand and onto the roof. Not only did that not work and I found myself momentarily stuck, but when I jumped up, the program stand cracked. I knew I couldn't get on the roof, so I would have to lower myself onto the stand again and hope that it wouldn't break from my weight. One slight problem -- I couldn't see the stand. After carefully avoiding serious bodily harm, I climbed down.

Tom found a hydraulic lift that was near even with the fence, but it was about a foot away from the fence and a longer drop, so I would have to clear the railing of the lift, clear the space between the railing and fence and make a greater descent in one movement. Not happening. Oh, did I add that I have a fear of heights?

We find some metal steps on their side next to the shed. I climb them, but it is not enough to get me on the shed. We try adding an eight-inch wood step, but that fails. We added a metal folding chair, which was a risk because the metal steps wobbled. Using the top of the fence for leverage, I get on the roof.

Taking a moment to rest, I slide down and into position to do as Tom had done. But I can't get a good grip with one hand and making the move downward seems ill-advised.

We try another option, using a door hinge on the gate as a pivot, but that was physically impossible without breaking my ankle before I came down.

Finally, I get the idea that Tom drive my car over and I climb down onto my roof. So after Tom drives my car in between two fences to where I was positioned, I slide onto my hood, avoiding the gap between car and fence. I slide down the back and use the tire gate as a step and make my way to the ground about 90 minutes after the ordeal began.

Lots of moves

Let's start with congratulations to Brian Horwitz. The right fielder has been called up to Triple-A Fresno.

Replacing Horwitz is second baseman Eugenio Velez. Velez was expected to start the year in Norwich, but a spring colission with Nate Schierholtz led to Velez needing time to recover from his injuries and landed him in extended spring training.

Velez put up some gaudy numbers in Augusta last year: .315 avg., 145 hits, 29 2B, 20 3B, 14 HR, 90 RBI and 64 SB.

Velez is starting today with Jake Wald at third. It will be interesting to see how playing time is divided between Wald and Simon Klink. I expect another move to resolve this logjam.

The other move of note, is if you noticed Alex Hinshaw started Saturday's 2-1 loss to the Rock Cats. He is replacing Ben Cox in the rotation. Cox is going to the bullpen, a place he had spent his entire career before 2007.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Where's Waldo?

Second baseman Jake Wald hurt his neck in an as-of-yet known injury during Wednesday game against Binghamton. He left the game in the fifth inning. Wald is also not in the lineup today. He has been replaced by Trey Webb, who is batting eighth.


This is early! It is about 70 minutes until the first pitch and sleep is on the brain. Those pesky 10:35 a.m. starts will do that to you. My mind doesn't kick in until 3-ish on most days. I guess that its baseball is what makes this an allowbale act.

What's fun is the clatter of the kids making their way into the stadium for D.A.R.E. and Education Day. The great thing about kids at baseball games is they create a buzz, an excitement that no one else -- except for maybe Roger Clemens -- can bring to the park.

Anyway, the hope here is that it doesn't rain so the kids can enjoy some baseball.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Hot dog gate

It's over, folks.

I've had more people ask me about the hot dog incident from last night more than I've had people say hi. I was even brought to the stand in an attempt to make the situation better.

Look, the Defenders are trying hard to make customers happy, which they should and they do. Honestly, the great hot dog and kraut drought of 2007 lasted an inning and shouldn't dissuade anyone from getting a dog or anything else.

Bigger than baseball

Anyone who's spent five minutes talking to me knows there are few things I hold in higher regard than baseball. Today I want to talk about something far greater than the game.

A few hours before the game, the Defenders held a press conference to announce that on May 26th all but $2 from each ticket sold will go to help the family of Tyler Dyer, the 14-year-old freshman baseball player from Waterford High School. Dyer fractured his neck in three places in a boating accident last month.

The only member of the media who attended, I sat and listened to the team's announcement as well as comments from some of Dyer's family.

Usually I can remain unaffected by whatever I am covering (save for my first assignment at Yankee Stadium), but when I went to speak with Dyer's grandfather and all he could do was cry, I wished I could do more than simply say I'm sorry or that things will get better.

This is where I can do something, using the platform my blog affords me. I'm asking everyone who reads this to make a donation to the Cactus Jack Foundation.

Simply think if it was your child, your nephew or grandson or neighbor who was in the hospital bed instead of Tyler. Few of us as wealthy enough to not need a helping hand. I'm not asking you to fork over a paycheck or an amount to keep you from paying the bills.

Do something that makes a difference.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Sometimes I want to eat poorly

After the fourth inning, I decided to try one of the promotional $1 hot dogs that the Defenders have every Monday. I walk up to the stand and am informed that there's a wait on hot dogs, presumably because all 20 people here are hogging the dogs. I was also told that there is no more kraut. How do you run out of kraut with no people in the stands?

Sunday, May 13, 2007


Today's game got off on the wrong foot. After announcing the National Anthem, there was a long pause and God Bless America was played instead because of a technical error. It was fixed and the anthem was re-introduced before being played.

On another note, another BEAUTIFUL day to be at the ballpark. Even though it is Mother's Day (Hi, Mom!), nothing says quality time like a baseball game. Of course, I am partial.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


To follow up on my two comments about the crowd at Dodd Stadium, the official figure is 3,079. For three consecutive days the Defenders have drawn more than their season average and more than any other game this season before Thursday.

Possible moves

With the Giants promoting Dan Ortmeier and Fres Lewis from Triple-A Fresno, there seems the Grizzlies might need some outfield help from the Defenders, but that doesn't appear the case.

Fresno still has Clay Timpner and Nate Schierholtz, and are using Justin Leone and Chad Santos (both infielders) in the outfield. So don't expect any Defenders to be moving up the ranks as a result of Ortmeier and Lewis getting the call to San Francisco.

No repeat of Friday

After over 5,300 fans came into Dodd Stadium Friday night, my guess is there is no more than 2,000 here Saturday. That's pretty sad. People, wake up or when you finally decide you want to attend a game, the Defenders are no longer in town.

EME's return and more

Eddy Martinez Esteve, who hasn't played in nearly a week due to a strained hamstring, is in today's starting lineup and in left field.

There have also been some concerns as to any move made to accomodate the adition of pitcher Joe Bateman. Jeff Petersen has technically been sent to Salem-Keizer, although he will be back with the Defenders Monday.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


The word on EME is that he tweaked his hamstring but is not expected to go on the DL. He took batting practice today and may be a case of any day now.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

No news

Its been a few days, but I have not been able to get word of what EME's condition is. With the team returning home, I will hopefully have some sort of answer tomorrow.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Begg's delight

Chris Begg, the Connecticut Defenders' top pitcher, was recalled to Triple-A Fresno following Thursday's game. The promotion was confirmed by Fresno Grizzlies media relations director, Ralph Rendon. Begg, who is 2-0 with a 2.21 ERA for the Defenders, has hurled 21 consecutive scoreless innings.
Begg's presence in Fresno became necessary as the Giants are expected to recall top prospect Tim Lincecum to replace Russ Ortiz, who is on the 15-day disabled list because of an inflamed nerve in his right elbow.
After a solid 2006 campaign with the Defenders, Begg had anticipated starting the season in Triple-A. Ironically, it was the Giants' signing of Ortiz and Lincecum's emergence that kept Begg with the Defenders.
"Its's tough coming back here, I'm not going to lie," Begg said prior to the season. "It's hard, but I'm going to take the mound and put up numbers and try to achieve the goal of making it to the big leagues."
Begg is scheduled to start tonight against Las Vegas.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Requena sent down

After tonight's game against Altoona, outfielder Alex Requena was sent to Single-A San Jose. The move was made to allow the Defenders to activate infielder Trey Webb.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

New face

Many Defenders fans have heard the name, but tonight they will see him take the field for the first time in 2007.

Mark Minicozzi will start tonight at short and bat second in the lineup.

Also worth noting is that with this series against Altoona, it will mark the first time Connecticut's pitchers will bat as this is a series between two National League affiliates.

Getting back to it

It's been way, way, way too long since I've been able to see the Defenders and Tuesday should end that dry spell. Being out of town for a wedding over the weekend cost me the Rock Cats series. I always enjoy when the Defenders face their in-state rivals. There seems to be a little more edge to the games.

Speaking of dry spells, that's what opposing lineups are going through against Chris Begg. Begg was less than impressive in his first start, but he has been solid since.

While he has been as good as expected, the lineup continues to struggle, baffle, frustrate and annoy. There is potential but who knows what it is going to take for that potential to rise up. My thing is this: this isn't a power lineup, so why can't they string singles/doubles/walks together?

For starters, these guys strike out A LOT. When you swing at bad pitches, you cut down on possible walks and good pitches that could be put into play.

The upcoming series with Altoona should be entertaining. A Pittsburgh affiliate, there are some good prospects on the Curve that you don't want to miss. Andrew McCutcheon and Neil Walker are the two most prominent. Walker was a catcher -- he hit his first AA homer at Dodd last year -- and is now a third baseman.

Let's hope for some decent crowds and a trio of Connecticut wins.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Something about Trenton

Its their pitching staff. That's the only explaination why the Defenders have barely mustered runs against them this.

You can point to inept efforts against New Hampshire and to a lesser extent New Britain, but when you look at the numbers, the Defenders simply can't touch the titans' pitchers.

There have been signs of life for the Defenders' lineup. Carlos Sosa has shown a lot of signs of potential thump to the offense. He hit for average and decent power a year ago, and while Dodd Stadium may prohibit him from exploding, he should do fine in time. Manager Dave Machemer told me that its been high on his to-do list to give Sosa as much of an opportunity to show what he can do as possible.

In eight games, he's hitting .296. He's only driven in two runs, which is teh same number of times he's drawn a walk. He's struck out six timers. Sosa is going to have to learn better plate discipline if he wanst to advance onto Triple-A or the Majors.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Ringing the bell

During a pitching change at New Britain Stadium, the hillarious video clip from Saturday Night Live where the cast does its version of "Behind the Music" with Blue Oyster Cult was aired on the big screen.

For those not familiar with the clip, it is where Will Ferrell is playing the cowbell.

It has nothing to do with baseball, but it makes me laugh.


The Rock Cats usually draw very well. Throw in the beautiful weather today after what felt like a solid week of rain, there are less people here approx. 30 minutes before the first pitch than were at either of the two games at Dodd Stadium yesterday.

BAsed on what I see in the stands, my guess is 200 people.

Hello again

The Defenders are in New Britain and will be facing a couple of familiar faces during this four game series. Brian Buscher and Jesse Floyd were taken in the minor league Rule 5 draft over the winter.

Buscher is the DH tonight and Floyd starts Sunday.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


After seeing what David Purcey can do, consider me impressed by the big southpaw. At 6-foot-5, Purcey is an imposing presence on the mound. With 11 Ks against the Defenders over seven innings, needless to say, it shouldn't be too long before Purcey is with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Go away

I say this to the rain. There have been too many postponements and not enough baseball.

The skies here look ready to burst and I don't know if the second game of the double header is going to happen. The first is about to start, so let's keep our fingers crossed.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Two days late and a dollar short, but...

I'm going to discuss this topic anyway.

Last night at the office, a few of us were discussing the declining number of black baseball players in the majors. It really amazes me just how the number of African-American players are in the league.

What I found more interesting is that some teams have no black players and some have more Japanese than black. That is a trend far from ending.

Understand that it is not a mandate that x-number of any ethnicity play baseball or any other sport. But with Jackie Robinson having gone through the gauntlet just to have the chance to play, it makes the topic more tragic than anything.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

A couple others

Quincy Foster is with Lancaster and James Garcis is with Long Island, both Atlantic League teams.

Where is...

R.D. Spiehs?

A lot of people have been asking about the reliever who spent last season with the Defenders. He's no longer in affiliated ball, but pitching for the Somerset Patriots of the Atlantic League. His manager with the Patriots is Sparky Lyle.


Derin McMains sustained a knee injury in New Hampshire while diving for a ball and Mark Minicozzi is still nursing a wrist injury from Spring Training. Called up from San Jose is SS Trey Webb.

Neither injury appears to be serious and both players should be back near the end of the month.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Opening Day

Too bad more people aren't at Dodd Stadium tonight, but I can understand not wanting to sit in the cold. It is pretty chilly out there.

The crowd is small and most everyone is huddled together -- by coincidence -- and not for warmth. Although warmth is a secondary advantage.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

No game tonight

The rain has forced tonight's Defenders-Thunder game to be rescheduled. The game will be made up Saturday as part of a doubleheader starting at 2:05 p.m.

Rain, rain go away

The weather forceast for the next 10 days is not one the Connecticut Defenders don't want to see.

Rain is forecast for just about everyday, Saturday being the exception.

I'm looking forward to getting to Dodd Stadium tonight and hope for a game.
Check out this morning's paper. With the home opener scheduled for today -- weather permitting -- there is a special Defenders's section. Included are features on Dave Machemer, Charlie Dowd, Eddy Martinez Esteve, a team preview, capsules of the Eastern League's teams and more.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Fan input

I know some of you have strong opinions regarding the Defenders. I would like to discuss these views with you. If you are interested in sharing your views with me, send me an e-mail at

Sometimes the voice of fans doesn't seem to hold as much water outside of tickets sold. I'd like to give more volume to your voice.


Saturday, April 07, 2007

Four in a row

The Sea Dogs have postponed Sunday's game against the Defenders. The good news for Connecticut is their next stop, New Hampshire, played their first game tonight.

Guess what...

I arrive at Hadlock Field to find today's game has been postponed. Talking to the head groundskeeper at the stadium, he thinks the teams might get in Sunday's game. From what I saw, there's no way the teams play. The warning track is shot. That needs a few more days to dry out.

Check out the videos I post on the Norwich Bulletin website shortly.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Shocker..not really

The Defenders will have to wait another day to play.

While you are passing time, check out my story on hitting coach Gary Davenport.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Go away snow

I went about half way before being called back. From Thompson to Worcester, the conditions deteriorated rapidly. I don't want to know what was ahead of me.

As it stands, I would doubt highly that tomorrow's game will be played either. My guess is they may try to squeeze in two Saturday, but I doubt it since there is more precipitation forecasted.

Dave Machemer told me tonight that he is pretty certain the snow created logistical problems for at least some players. Some of those new to Norwich were going to wait until the team returned from the road trip to Portland and New Hampshire before they cemented housing plans. For now, they are staying at the team hotel.

Four games were given the ubiquitous PPD. It will be interesting to see if anyone gets in more than two games this weekend.

No game tonight

The Defenders' game tonight at Portland has been postponed due to snow. No make up date has been announced.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Well, it is off to Portland for me. The question is more runs or inches of snow. I liked GM Charlie Dowd's comment to me when we discussed the potential weather situation in Portland. He said, "It's not my gate."

Who can blame him after all of the games the Defenders had lost or at least rescheduled because of rain last year.

Check out tomorrow's Bulletin. we have coverage of the series in Portland, Fan Fest and a feature on Chris Begg. Look for more throughout the weekend and a lot more just before the home opener.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The roster is set

Lots of familiar faces at Dodd this season. From the looks of it, most of the Giants quality prospects are everywhere but Norwich. But there are a few guys worth keeping an eye on and a few who need to stay healthy in order to get their careers back on track.

Returning: Begg, Broshuis, Espinelli, Petersen, Matos, Jennings, Ishikawa, McMains, Wald, Horwitz, Requena and Martinez-Esteve.

The team also has just two lefty bats and two switch hitters. There are two southpaws, both coming out of the pen.

The rotation looks like this: Begg, Broshuis, Ben Cox, Nick Pereria and Darren Sack.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

A new season is upon us


I can't tell you how much I have been looking forward to this season. I say teh same thing every year, but there are a lot of reasons I say this in 2007.

*This is my first full season cover the team.
*The Defenders are hosting the Eastern League All-Star Game.
*I expect some changes at Dodd Stadium to make a difference in the fan experience
*Most of all, I think this season is going to determine what the team's future holds, be it here or not.

If you are a Defenders fan, drop me a line. I want to talk to you. Not just in the blog forum but over e-mail. I want to hear what you think along the way.