Saturday Sinatra

In the Wee Small Hours

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There was what looked like a pretty interesting story on Brewer prospect Cody Scarpetta from the Rochelle (IL) News-Leader.

But, to read the whole thing and share it with you, I'd need to go down to Rochelle, find a paper from Thursday, scan in the article, and post it. The reason for this day trip is because an article that begins like this:
After giving a talk at St. Paul Lutheran School on Wednesday morning, minor league pitcher Cody Scarpetta spent about 10 minutes answering questions from students and teachers.

One youngster asked the 20-year-old Milwaukee Brewers prospect if he would be on TV this summer.

“Hopefully soon,” Scarpetta replied. “You never know.”
It ends with "Find the compete story in Thursday's Rochelle News-Leader" This is the equivalent of To be continued...

Fortunately, mystateline.com has a more in-depth story on Scarpetta, with an accompanying video report.
Baseball players will soon be reporting to Arizona and Florida for spring training. Rockford resident Cody Scarpetta will be one of them. He plans to get a jump by leaving Monday for the Brewers' training complex in Arizona.

Scarpetta has been taking this offseason very seriously. He's been working out four times a week at Tim Bailey's Top Performer's Sports Performance Training Center in Loves Park.
A little history:
Scarpetta has always been serious about baseball. But some adversity early in his professional career has made him even more determined to succeed. His senior season at Guilford two years ago was cut short by a torn tendon in the middle finger of his pitching hand. That caused him to fall in the draft from a likely early-round pick to an 11th round pick by the Brewers.

Later that summer the tendon ruptured again, and Scarpetta underwent a second opertion. The scars are still visible from where surgeons removed a tendon in his forearm and inserted it into his hand. Scarpetta says he has fully recovered.
Since November he has been listed on the Brewers' 40-man major league roster right there with Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun and all of the other big-leaguers. He's there because the Brewers needed to protect him from the rule-five draft this winter.

Most players have to have five years of minor league service before they're eligible for the rule-five draft. A rare clause made Scarpetta eligible. Any player who has his contract voided within a year of playing time is also eligible. The Brewers had voided Scarpetta's original contract after his finger tendon ruptured the second time.

Now that Scarpetta is healthy, the Brewers couldn't risk having another major league team grab him based on his power and his potential.

"I guess they thought enough of me to put me on the roster, and I'm real thankful for that," said Scarpetta.
Now, a little future:
This season Scarpetta will most likely wind up with the Brewers' high class A team Brevard County in Viera, Florida. Or he could wind up pitching for their Class A Midwest League affiliate in Appleton the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. That would mean he would be pitching close to home.

"It would be great to pitch in front of everybody."
Yes. Yes, it would.

Just to get you caught up Between the Green Pillars has Scarpetta at #15 and Bernie's Crew has him at #13 on their respective lists of Brewer prospects.


Lawrie at #5

Jim at Bernie's Crew has placed Brett Lawrie at #5 on his list of top Brewer prospects.
Brett Lawrie is perhaps the most difficult Brewers prospect to evaluate because, well, we have not seen him play an inning of professional baseball. Scouting reports have been overwhelmingly positive, however, so there is plenty of reason to rank Brett in the Top 5. It is not all hype. The young man has raw plus-plus power. His performance against professional pitchers in the Dominican Republic has become stuff of legend to those who have seen it. The young man went 21-for-30 with fourteen extra base hits. According to Baseball America, those games included a three-home run game against one Dominican Summer League team, and socked five more homers in a double header in the Dominican. That is the type of raw power we are talking about with Lawrie.

One of the most difficult steps for a high school hitter is to make the transition from aluminum bats to wooden bats. How can the Brewers be so sure Brett will acclimate quickly?

It is rather simple, actually. Brett has been using wooden bats exclusively since he was 14-years old. In case you were not impressed by his monster numbers with the Canadian Junior National Team, you should be now. The 19-year old can hit for power to all parts of the field, which is fairly uncommon for a player so young. He can be a little pull-conscious sometimes, however, which can largely be attributed to his partially open stance. Brett already has his hips a bit open. It is quite easy for him to get the barrel around and pull the baseball. I suspect that will correct itself as he matures in the minors, but it is obviously something to keep an eye on next season.
There is video at the link of CBC-Edmonton news report from the World Junior Championships.

Where does Jim think you will be able to keep an eye on Lawrie?
I, as well as every other Brewer fan, am really excited to see Brett make his professional debut in Milwaukee's system this upcoming season. There has been talk about keeping him in extended Spring Training for a bit, but his bat is advanced enough that I expect Brett to begin the 2009 season with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in Appleton. That team is going to be star-studded. Jake Odorizzi, Erik Komatsu, Cutter Dykstra, Cody Scarpetta, Trey Watten, Brock Kjeldgaard, Wily Peralta, Efrain Nieves, and Brett Lawrie should be exciting to watch day in and day out. To think about the talent Milwaukee has coming to Appleton is incredible. I, for one, will be there to watch plenty of it. You should be as well, if possible.
Yes. Yes, you should.

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Back in business

The Timber Rattler on-line store has been down for a while. But, it is back and back STRONG!

Co-branded hat? Yep.

Co-branded hooded sweatshirt? Yep.

Bratzooka T-shirt? Oh, Yeah!

There is a lot more over there, so go to town, folks.

MWL Announcer News

A couple of announcements by Midwest League teams yesterday.

Alphabetically, Lansing is up first.
The Lansing Lugnuts have announced that Jesse Goldberg-Strassler will become the next "Voice of the Lugnuts" beginning with the upcoming season. He will be taking over for Brad Tillery, who is leaving to pursue educational opportunties.

Goldberg-Strassler comes to Lansing after spending last season as the play-by-play voice of the Frontier League Champion Windy City Thunderbolts, where he was named runner-up for Ballpark Digest's Broadcaster of the Year. The Greenbelt, Maryland native previously spent two seasons as the number two voice for the Double-A Montgomery Biscuits (2006-2007) and one season working for the Can-Am League Brockton Rox (2005).
Brad has been great to work with over the last few years. Now, who will I talk to about wrestling? Good luck to him as he returns to his beloved Auburn!

South Bend, you're next.
The South Bend Silver Hawks announce the addition of Owen Serey as Media Relations Coordinator and the Voice of Silver Hawks Baseball on ESPN Radio 1490 AM.

Prior to joining the Silver Hawks, Serey spent the 2006-2008 seasons as the Media Relations Assistant and Color Commentator for the Dayton Dragons. During that time, he made numerous trips to South Bend to broadcast games for the Dragons and is excited to continue his career in the Midwest League.
Owen knows the league and the personalities in the league so he better not spoil it for the new guys (remember there is a new guy in Fort Wayne and there is still an opening in West Michigan) before their respective first series against the Timber Rattlers.

Welcome to the club, guys. I'll be in contact about the association dues

Meet the new boss in Cedar Rapids

The Kernels have a new manager.
Bill Mosiello has been named field manager for the 2009 Cedar Rapids Kernels, the Kernels and parent Los Angeles Angels confirmed Thursday.

Mosiello, 44, had been an assistant coach at Auburn University. He also has assistant's experience at college powerhouses such as Arizona State, Southern California, Cal State-Fullerton and Tennessee.

Mosiello spent four years as a coach and manager in the New York Yankees farm system earlier this decade. That included a two-year stint as manager at low-Class A Charleston, where he compiled a 129-98 record.
Why does this name sound so familiar?
He also managed part of the 2004 season with Battle Creek in the Midwest League, taking over for former Kernels skipper Mitch Seaone. Mosiello replaces Keith Johnson, who was reassigned last week to manage high-Class A Rancho Cucamonga.
Battle Creek! That's why! I thought I had repressed that place.

What's an ex-GM to do?

Here's the answer if you're former Minnesota Twin General Manager Terry Ryan.
A “fancy title” hasn’t put Terry Ryan far out of the game of baseball.

“In essence, I go out and see games,” the senior advisor to the Minnesota Twins general manager said Wednesday night. “That’s about all I do now.”

The 55-year-old Janesville native was among the “fans” who attended the Winter Snappers Hot Stove Banquet at the Country Club of Beloit. Ryan was the Twins general manager from 1994 to 2007, before stepping down from the position.

Ryan still is a part of the Twins organization, the parent club of the Beloit Snappers, but is back to his roots of player evaluation. He no longer has to worry about signing players and dealing with agents and all the other head-banging aspects of being the No. 1 man on the organization food chain.
Terry Ryan, ex-head banger!
“We had an awful good year with the circumstances of losing all the guys that we did,” Ryan said of the Twins. “We had quite a transition, but we had a good year. We had a lot of things happen that were impressive.”

Minnesota finished 88-74 in the regular season and in a tie with Chicago for first in the AL Central. The White Sox then won the one-game playoff, 1-0, in Chicago to earn the playoff berth.

Without the year-round responsibilities the general manager has, Ryan is able to spend his spare time in a cabin he owns in the Wisconsin Dells area.

“I don’t hunt much, but I try,” Ryan said. “My wife likes it better than I do. My wife’s sister has a place right down the street.”

Ryan gets back down to baseball business Feb. 11. He expects to work through November. So he certainly isn’t retired.
At 55.


Thursday Motivation (1/29)

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"17 different kinds of awesome!"

That above quote is how I responded to an e-mail that included a link to this story.
Negotiations for the naming rights dragged on for a couple of weeks. The owner of the facility had a certain figure in mind. The beer company had its own ideas.

"We asked for a 12-pack," said Dean Reder, owner of a backyard pond in Orono.

"We're going way better than that,'' said Paul Dockendorf of the Joseph Schlitz Brewery. "We're sending three cases!"

Thus, in December, Schlitz Arena was born. There was a ribbon cutting, a banner raised, doughnuts and a trumpeter playing the American and Canadian national anthems. Oh, and free beer.

Is this heaven?

No, it's Orono.

It's not really an arena, of course. It's just a pond behind Reder's house. The pond probably measures about 110 feet by 70 feet. On Saturday mornings, Reder and 20 or so of his pals, ages 27 to 50, play a little shinny. Between and after games, they partake of powdered doughnuts and beer. Which, by the way, is the official breakfast of Canada.

But now it's not just any beer. It's free beer.
How was this level of awesome attained?
One morning, Reder and a couple of his longtime hockey buddies decided to e-mail the brewery, just as a lark, to see if it would be interested in sponsoring their Saturday morning games. They asked for a 12-pack. Little did they realize that Schlitz would be more than a little interested.

"We're an old-time beer geared toward old-time hockey," Dockendorf said. "The people at the brewery just love this. These are exactly the kind of people we are trying to connect with."

At a pond hockey tournament a couple of weeks later, Schlitz sent over three more cases. The brewery planned to deliver an additional five cases to the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships over the weekend. That's not all: Reder and friends now have and shirts from Schlitz. Deliveries often are made via a mint condition 1965 El Camino that is decked out like a classic beer bottle.
The awesome -- for the awesomely challenged -- has been highlighted. The most awesome phrase in the history of writing is in bold italics.

Much more awesomeness, including a link to the Schlitz website and this:

Here's a quick beer lesson. Started in 1860, Schlitz became the most popular beer in the world by the mid-20th century. But it died in the early 1980s. First, they tampered with the recipe. Second, Stroh's bought the brewery and decided to emphasize Schlitz's sister beer, Old Milwaukee.

But in 1999, Pabst bought the company. It went back to the original recipe and is trying to capitalize on the retro craze. In Minnesota, it just recently started to try to connect with the beer-drinking masses. Reder and his buddies represent grassroots advertising. Their hockey group is the perfect target audience.

Tampering with a beer recipe? Not awesome. Emphasizing Old Mil? Even less awesome!

This may be...no. This is the most awesome story you read out of Minnesota all year. In fact, Tom Powers should win a Pulitzer for Awesome for this story and it has given me an idea for Thursday Motivation.

When promotions attack

A blog called Daily Cognition has a list of the top five baseball promotions that went bad. The usual suspects (Disco Demolition in Chicago, Ten Cent Beer Night in Cleveland) are on there. The only minor league promotion on the list is from the West Michigan Whitecaps.

The Promotion: Cash Drop. The West Michigan Whitecaps, Detroit’s class-A affiliate, had a helicopter drop $1,000 in various bills from a helicopter after a game.

What went wrong: People love money more than they love other people. Two children were injured scrambling for the cash.

A girl received a bloody lip being pushed to the ground, while a seven-year-old boy was bruised when he got trampled in the fray.

The Outcome: The boy was taken to the hospital, but released after treatment. The team management summed up the incident by reminding everyone that they had signed waivers.

For my take on this, check out this link where I wrote about it at the time.

I think this last one is on the list is on there for two reasons. The first is the author is trying to fill out the list with a #5. The second is the author gets to mention Slate.

The Promotions: All-you-can-eat seats . Undoing the work of Shaq and Cookie Monster, the Dodgers decided to promote obesity by opening up a section of all-you-can-eat seats. Although beer, ice cream and candy are still for sale, most food is just given away. Ticket prices range from $20-$40.

What went wrong: Not everybody can handle an open buffet of hot dogs and nachos. One Slate reporter wrote about his experience in the seats, which predictably ended in vomit. I can only imagine that countless other fans have had their evenings end in a similar way.

Um, no. I've been to a few all-you-can-eat nights, but none of them have ended that way. With Leather sums up my feelings about Slate:

Slate.com is the preeminent place on the Internet for joyless contrarian d*******gs to show off the big words they know but can’t use in conversation, and it’s never more irritating than when they try to write about sports.

Twins in Beloit

Minnesota Twins General Manager Bill Smith and manager Ron Gardenhire were at the Beloit Snapper Hot Stove Banquet last night.

There is video at the link. But, here is this part with any White Sox fans who might stop by:
Although most of the Stateline pulls for the Cubs or White Sox, the Twins don't mind tip-toeing into enemy territory.

"I love the White Sox and our rivalry with them," said Gardenhire. "I love Ozzie too. I don't always understand half the things he's trying to say, but he makes me laugh and we have fun."
And isn't that what it's all about?


Baseball on TV (1/28)

A little Charlie Brown today, I think.

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I haven't mentioned this before...

But, now seems like a good time.

A lot of you have probably noticed that Jim Powell is leaving the Brewer broadcast booth and taking a job in Atlanta.

A few of you have e-mailed -- Hi, Uncle Jerry -- to ask if I would be going after the opening at Miller Park. Truthfully, I thought about at least sending something in just to get my name out there for the future...for about a day.

A few things stood in the way:

Unlike most of the radio announcers I know, I do not have a tape (or what the kids these days call a CD) and resume ready to go at a moments notice.

By the time I heard about the opening and where to send the information, it was too late to get something down to Milwaukee. The need for me to be on the phone and in meetings selling for this Timber Rattler season took precedence over taking a day and a half to put together something in a rush that would have gotten me laughed out of the building.

In the end I am -- above most things -- a realist.

WTMJ-AM (Radio 620) and the Milwaukee Brewers have narrowed their search for a replacement for broadcaster Jim Powell, who is leaving to become the play-by-play for the Atlanta Braves.

All of the finalists have major-league experience. Rick Schlesinger, the Brewers' executive vice president for business operations, said today that both the franchise and WTMJ hope to have a replacement in time for the first spring-training game on Feb. 25 in Arizona.

The main point/stumbling block is in bold.

Powell remains classy to the end.
The future of this team looks bright and of course Bob and his new partner will do a great job bringing the games to you. I was not in any way trying to get another job...my family loves Milwaukee and I loved my job. Going to my hometown to work for the team I rooted for while growing up is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I just could not ignore it. I hope you understand. How many people on this earth besides Ueck and now me actually get to broadcast the Major League games of the team with which they grew up? Can you name anyone else? My family and I will always love Milwaukee and I will continue to follow the Brewers very closely. I hope the Braves and the Crew meet for the NL title every year!
That's part of a thank you message he placed on a Brewer message board over at Sports Bubbler.com

Thanks to Right Field Bleachers for making those links easy to find.

Lawrie at #7

Ryan at Between the Green Pillars placed Brett Lawrie at #7 on his list of top Brewer Prospects.

Click the link for a report, but here is what Ryan thinks the near future holds for the 2008 #1 pick:
For his part, Lawrie expects to move quickly. He’s told multiple sources that he expects to be in the minors for a “year and a half” which would put him in the majors before the end of the 2010 season at the age of 20. To do that, he will have to absolutely kill the ball and establish a position with amazing speed. Obviously, Lawrie doesn’t lack confidence in Lawrie, which is something that also comes through in every interview he’s given. He has the skills to suggest that it’s not all empty boasting and that he can back it up, but we’ll just have to wait for spring to see just what he can do. The Brewers may elect to send him to extended spring training and possibly even to Pioneer league when it opens play in June, but if he’s going to move as fast as he thinks he can, he’ll be seeing Appleton before mid summer. If Lawrie shows he can hit pro pitching and play a passable catcher, expect to see him near or at the top of this list next year.
I bolded the part that is most important to Timber Rattler fans.


Softball, anyone?

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver to host charitable softball game on June 14 at Fox Cities Stadium in Grand Chute

WOO and may I add HOO!
In a joint announcement with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, Driver revealed on Monday his plans to host his charitable softball game for the second straight year.

The popular contest, which pits Packers offensive players against the defense, will be staged on June 14 at Fox Cities Stadium.

“Guys get the opportunity to mingle with the fans that you don’t get to have on Sundays,” the 33-year-old Driver said during a news conference at the ballpark. “And I think that’s the thing I’ve always cherished about it, how much guys go out and support the fans and interact with the fans.

“The guys don’t even care about the game too much. They’re always by the fence signing autographs and doing this and doing that. The fans get the opportunity to see us first hand.”

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Donald Driver Foundation, which assists homeless families and tackles issues surrounding the lack of educational opportunities in communities in Wisconsin, Texas and Mississippi.

Driver, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, said last year’s game, which drew 5,366 fans, raised over $125,000 for his foundation.
Ticket information? Yep, I've got that
Tickets: $30 per box seat, $20 per reserved seat, $10 per general admission grass seat. Tickets go on sale March 13 at 10 a.m.
Those tickets will be on sale at the Timber Rattler box office, over the phone, and on the internet at that time.

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Is it wrong?

The reason I'm asking "Is it wrong?" is due to something that happened yesterday and my reaction to it.

This is unusual because I rarely, if ever, reveal anything too personal about myself on this blog -- or in real life for that matter. But, this has been weighing on me and has me doubting myself as a normal human being.

Feel free to discuss amongst yourselves regarding the question, Is it wrong that when I heard about Kevin Greene becoming a linebacker coach for the Green Bay Packers I immediately thought of this:

Not much wrestling in that first part...But, worth it for the way the new linebacker coach gets fired up in the ring. With a few football drills and...oh, just watch it.

Greene gets into the ring about 2:30 into the second video and cleans house after taking the "hot tag" from Steve McMichael.

Not to give away the ending, but Greene is really going to want to beat the Bears for revenge.

And to answer my own question....Yes. Yes, I think it is wrong.

Four seasons is a long time.

This blog is going to keep a story alive until after the 2012 season?

If you click on that link you will be taken to....oh, I'll just let the title block explain:
Follow the Cubs AAA team to Omaha

This blog will detail the Ricketts' family purchase of the Chicago Cubs and what we believe to be the subsequent departure of the Omaha Royals from the Omaha area. This will eventually lead to an agreement between the Cubs and Omaha to play their AAA games at Omaha's new downtown stadium - appropriately named "tdAmeritrade stadium".
There is nothing about the author, the "Commissioner", at the "about me" link. Also, this blog just started up yesterday.

Also, I'm just stringing random sentences together in the hopes of making sense in a post.

Not your normal caravan

Most major league teams take their winter caravans to lunches, dinners, and various other events in their areas of influence. Not the Cincinnati Reds. And in this case, that's a good thing.
The Cincinnati Reds brought a little sunshine and a lot of smiles to kids at Children's Medical Center of Dayton on a cold winter morning.

Manager Dusty Baker, outfielder Chris Dickerson and broadcasters George Grande and Jeff Brantley joined Rosie Red at the hospital Sunday, Jan. 25, to visit with the kids and hand out signed baseball hats as part of the annual Reds Winter Caravan.

The Dayton stop came on the final day of the Western leg of the team's three-leg 3,000-mile tour, which began Thursday. The caravan included three buses traveling in three directions covering five states.

The Dayton leg included visits to Dayton Children's and the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
This part would have been worth being there to see.
When 4-year-old Preston Saunders of Hillsboro said he liked to watch "SpongeBob SquarePants," Baker told him, "Me, too!" And showed Preston how he could laugh like Patrick, one of the show's characters.
Part of me wants to post a side-by-side comparison of Dusty and Patrick....But, that would mess up the above story.


A few changes here. A few changes there.

The changes here:

Added links over on the left to the following blogs

The Watson Files

Between the Green Pillars

The Junkball Blues

I'll mention this again. If you have a Brewer Blog let me know and I'll put up a link in the blogroll.

Added LumberKings to the Mariner System section.

Also, the link to the internet broadcast has been switched from MiLB.com to 1280WNAM.com. Didn't want to leave that until April 11.

The changes there -- with there being the Timber Rattler website:

New, sharp-looking banner at the top (we -- meaning people more talented than I -- did that)

New ads for various businesses (we -- meaning the sales department -- didn't do that)

A change elsewhere is that I am now on facebook. Or, I at least have an account. Having a blog and a facebook account seems like overkill, but I figured...what the heck.

One last change...there is one less day on the countdown....

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Story about Hoffman

I've been meaning to mention this since the Brewers signed Trevor Hoffman, and this post from the Newsline 9 Sportsblog of Wausau reminds me to mention that Hoffman began his professional career in 1991 in Cedar Rapids.

The post is by Bryon Graff. The stories are from Jack Roeder, the GM of the Kernels.
Roeder recalls a newspaper story about Hoffman in which the reporter asked the pitcher what he did in the bullpen before entering games. Hoffman's reply? I dig up worms to eat. That right there told Roeder that Hoffman had the so-called "closer's mentality." Hoffman is also a great asset in the communit[y]. Roeder says he would sign up for everything. One time there was a dog show that needed judges. So the team chose a couple players and sent them off. Later Hoffman asks why he wasn't asked to judge the show. As Roeder put it the show "was nothing" but Hoffman said it's something he really would have liked to attend.

"The Moose isn't going to be around anymore"

Kirby Arnold of the Everett Herald catches up with JJ Putz ('00) to see how the trade from Seattle to the New York Mets has affected the Putz family.
J.J. Putz had prepared himself to be traded long before the Seattle Mariners dealt him to the New York Mets in early December, so when it happened it wasn't a shock.

His family still hasn't come to grips with it.

His wife, Kelsey, cried knowing she'd leave a circle of close friends she'd made in Seattle. And his 3-year-old twin daughters, Lauren and Kaelyn, still aren't fully aware of what has happened.

"We keep telling them the Moose isn't going to be around anymore, but I don't think they fully realize it yet," Putz said. "When they sing 'Take Me Out to the Ballgame' they still say 'root, root, root for the Mariners.' We have to correct them on that now."
Plenty more at the link.


Reaching out

The On-Deck Event that the Brewers held yesterday sounds like it went pretty well.
...[T]he Milwaukee Brewers brass and players glad-handing, hugging, signing and answering a myriad of questions from their admirers at the "Brewers On Deck" fan event Saturday at the Midwest Airlines Center. The festivities drew 10,411 fans who milled about the food booths, autograph and picture tables, souvenir stands and even an "American Idol" knock-off stage with the national anthem as the mandatory song.

Of the tickets sold, 9,000 were pre-sale and 1,000 of those were bought by Brewers right-hander Jeff Suppan, who spent about $10,000 and distributed the passes to the United Service Organization and Milwaukee-area Little Leagues. Also on the charitable side, the Hunger Task Force was there collecting donations and food because local pantries are running low, according to Brewers Charities president Lynn Sprangers.
Speaking of charity, remember that the Brewers had some tiered pricing for player autographs. Here was the reason:
Some asked where the money for the autographs went since signatures ranged from free to $25. Executive vice president of business operations Rick Schlesinger assured all proceeds went to worthy causes.

"It's all for charity," he said. "All of the proceeds are going to Brewers Charities and the Make a Wish Foundation. Neither the club nor the players are getting any money for it."
If any of the blogs were there to cover the event, I'll have more details by Thursday or so. In the meantime...

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Anything to use this movie poster

Why a Dana Carvey movie from 1990? Here's the headline....

Opportunity knocks for Mariners' Lowe and Corcoran

The Lowe in the story is Mark Lowe ('05). The event was part of the Mariner Caravan.
Mark Lowe and Roy Corcoran didn't deny that they'd like to be the Seattle Mariners' closer for the upcoming season.

"Certainly, any reliever would like to be the closer," Lowe said. "It's the best job in the game. At the same time, you want to do whatever makes the team better.

"If there's somebody better than you to do the job, then you tip your cap to them."

The 25-year-old Lowe finished with a 5.37 ERA in 57 appearances and a career-high 632/3 innings last season.

Lowe, with his 96 mph fastball and sense of humor, might have the arm and personality to fill two positions vacated by Putz — closer and team prankster.

"I can throw a pie," Lowe said, drawing a chuckle from the crowd.

Putz was known for putting a pie in a teammate's face during postgame interviews.
Lowe can also be known for:
In the offseason, Lowe golfed in Texas, hunted elk in Montana and hunted hogs in Arkansas. He worked out and began throwing in December.
And I get tired taking the garbage out to the dumpster.

Gee, do ya think?

Cobb bless the Omaha World-Herald for trying to squeeze a story out of absolutely nothing. I'll start with the headline:

Chicago Cubs Sale: Omaha affiliate unlikely
Does a new baseball stadium plus apparent strong local ties to the Chicago Cubs equal a Cubs farm team moving to Omaha?

It's an equation that doesn't add up — at least not in the near future.

One reason is obvious: The Ricketts family of Omaha is in position to buy the Chicago Cubs, not the Iowa Cubs, which has separate ownership. Another has to do with player development contracts, which tie major league teams to minor league affiliates. Major league teams provide minor league teams with their players during the length of the contracts.

A third reason has to do with territorial rights.
And they would've gotten away with it if it wasn't for those meddling territorial rights.

Wait....Territorial rights? You keep using that word and I don't think that means what you think it means.
In Omaha, there is a contract between the Omaha Royals and Kansas City Royals that expires after the 2010 season. The Chicago Cubs are bound with the Iowa Cubs, located in Des Moines, through 2012.

"We're extraordinarily happy with our relationship with the Kansas City Royals," said Omaha Royals President Alan Stein, who is negotiating with Sarpy County to build a new ballpark there.
Ah, the term you were looking for is Player Development Contract.
The Iowa franchise, which has been affiliated with Chicago since 1982, has been successful in undergoing a near-total makeover of its stadium in recent years and consistently posts higher attendance figures than the Omaha Royals. The Cubs' average attendance last year was nearly 7,400 a game. The Omaha Royals' paid attendance averaged close to 5,400 people a game.

Owner Michael Gartner of Des Moines has not considered selling the team since purchasing it in 1999, said Sam Bernabe, I-Cubs president and general manager.

Are the I-Cubs looking to move to Omaha?

"If this is a serious question, then I can't really comment on it because it would be an infringement on the Omaha Royals," Bernabe said.

By rule, major- and minor-league personnel are not allowed to comment directly on their player development contracts, other than in a 30-day window near the expiration of the current contract.
Also, by rule, when major- and minor-league personnel answer questions with the phrase, "If this is a serious question..." they think that the question being asked, you know, not serious.

Kind of like this section....
Still, speculation around Omaha isn't likely to die easily.
The Ricketts family is negotiating to buy the big league Cubs, Wrigley Field and a 25 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet. Sources have put the value of the bid at about $900 million.

Omaha's new downtown stadium could bear the name of the business Joe Ricketts started, TD Ameritrade. Joe Moglia, chief executive officer of TD Ameritrade, confirmed to The World-Herald in June that he hopes to gain naming rights to the new ballpark.

Also, Jim Hendry, the Chicago Cubs' general manager, is a former Creighton baseball coach. Oneri Fleita, the team's director of minor league operations, is a former Creighton player. Those typically are the positions within an organization with the most influence on the placement of its minor league affiliates, and those two have been at their posts for several years.
I KNEW IT! The Masons, the Council on Foreign Relations, Skull and Bones, and Creighton! It all ties together!
Neither immediately returned phone calls.
Keep calling. I'm sure they will get right back to you.

What? It doesn't end there? Bring it.
But what about another Chicago Cubs affiliate moving to Omaha? They are Class AA Tennessee (near Knoxville) of the Southern League, high Class A Daytona of the Florida State League, low Class A Peoria (Ill.) of the Midwest League, Boise (Idaho) of the short season Class A Northwest League and the rookie-level affiliate in the Arizona League, which plays at the team's spring training complex.

All of those teams play in leagues that are set up for overnight travel, typically by bus, unlike the PCL, which uses air travel more extensively than any other minor leagues. Shifting a lower-level Cubs affiliate to Omaha would require approval of the leagues and their franchises, which would be leery of the travel distance and added expenses. The closest league with a Cubs affiliate is the Midwest, but its closest team is in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and that league has moved more south and east with its latest franchise changes. The Midwest League has recently said it hadn't even considered placing a team in Omaha.

Again, those leagues wouldn't be allowed to move in until the Royals move out.

Which brings the discussion back to the Iowa Cubs.
Which is where it all ended earlier in the article with that two paragraph section that went:
In Omaha, there is a contract between the Omaha Royals and Kansas City Royals that expires after the 2010 season. The Chicago Cubs are bound with the Iowa Cubs, located in Des Moines, through 2012.

"We're extraordinarily happy with our relationship with the Kansas City Royals," said Omaha Royals President Alan Stein, who is negotiating with Sarpy County to build a new ballpark there.
Gotta admire the spunk, I guess.

Clinton Report

Last night was the Hot Stove Banquet in Clinton. Nothing on the event except this preview of the event from Friday. That's Rattler Radio for you, a link to a story that's two days old....Oh, just get to the story.
In some ways, Saturday’s Hot Stove Banquet is the beginning of the baseball season for the Clinton LumberKings. Despite a sluggish economy, LumberKings general manager Ted Tornow is upbeat.

“We’re not seeing it like other entities … and we hope we won’t,” Tornow said of a business downturn during the recession. “We see us having another good year unless the bottom drops out. We’re losing some accounts but gaining some others. That’s no different than the past 10 years. I can only pinpoint about six accounts that have said they can’t do it (continue their business support of the LumberKings because of the economy).”

Season-ticket sales remain steady, too, he added.

“We’re literally about as even as last year,” he said. “You hear about layoffs and the economy being bad, but we’re not seeing it.”

Some of the reasons for that, according to Tornow, are that Clinton is a small, tight-knit community with a long history of professional baseball and that the franchise has kept prices lower than many others in the business.

“It (the comparatively good times for the franchise) surprises me because you read the national headlines, then you realize that this club has been around for 72 years and has been through a lot of turbulent times and is still surviving,” Tornow said.
John Boles, who was the keynote speaker at a Welcome Home Banquet a few years ago in Appleton, was the main speaker for the L-Kings last night.

If there is a report on the event, I'll have it for you by
next Sunday.


There was some switching up of coaching staffs in the Midwest League late last week.

It looked like the manager in Cedar Rapids was set. It's not.
Keith Johnson, the Kernels’ manager last season who was originally scheduled to return to Cedar Rapids in 2009, has been selected to take over the managerial position at the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. An announcement on the Kernels’ new manager will be forthcoming.

The restructuring of the Angels’ minor league field staffs became necessary after longtime Angels’ Field Coordinator Bruce Hines took a position with the Seattle Mariners. Former Kernels hitting coach Eric Owens, who had initially been tabbed to manage the Quakes, has been named the Angels roving instructor for outfield, bunting and base running, and Johnson has been assigned to take Owens’ spot in Rancho Cucamonga.
Speaking of the Mariners, Eddie Menchaca ('02, '04) was going to be the hitting coach at Clinton.
The Clinton LumberKings, in conjuction with the Seattle Mariners have announced the addition of coach Jesus Azuaje to the field staff for 2009. Azuaje, a coach with Seattle's rookie affiliate in Pulaski last year, takes over the spot vacated by Eddie Menchaca. Menchaca will fill a similar post with short-season Everett.
One of these days I need to go through the league and figure out who all the managers and coaches are.

But, not today. Today, I'll just post a David Bowie video!


Guest blogger (1/24)

I used to be known as known as fireworks, but now....

Lo, I am become Death, Destroyer of worlds.

Don't believe me. Then, just read this article from the Kane County Chronicle.
For years, the Kane County Cougars have entertained fans with postgame fireworks.

But a neighbor to Elfstrom Stadium, where the Cougars play, says 30 shows a season releases too many particles in the air and poses a health risk. The stadium is owned by the Kane County Forest Preserve.

Dr. Rodney Nelson, who has been campaigning against the fireworks for about 15 years, said a new study from the New England Journal of Medicine backs up his position. The ecological study, published this week, found that fine-particle air pollution lowers life expectancy.

The researchers found that concentrations of fine particulate matter – equivalent to one-twentieth of the width of a human hair – can travel deep into the lungs and has been linked to the worsening of asthma and heart disease.

Fireworks, Nelson said, can release fine particles into the ambient air, affecting Geneva residents in neighborhoods near the stadium.

“One exposure can be lethal,” Nelson said. “Once again, the Kane County Forest Preserve will threaten my health and the health of my neighbors by creating ... fine particle pollution at least 26 times and four nights in a row at least twice.
It's science!

The good doctor is willing to be reasonable, though!
He said he would accept the risk posed by one exposure due to Fourth of July celebrations, but not from 30 pyrotechnics shows in a season.

“I’m willing to bend once a year. I’m not that radical,” he said.
I know. I know. about three or four paragraphs up in the story there was this:
“One exposure can be lethal,” Nelson said.
I bolded that and -- for good measure -- italicized it, too.

Frankly, as the new Destroyer of Worlds, I am glad that sentence wasn't printed like this


I really need to sneak up on people if I want to take over for bubonic plague and ebola.

Maybe I should worry, because the government is there...ready to help:
Mayor Kevin Burns said officials will listen to Nelson – as they would to any resident’s concerns – and act if necessary.

“We admire Dr. Nelson’s passion and persistence,” Burns said. “And we encourage him to also share his thoughts with state officials and lawmakers who have regulatory authority to address this matter.”

Second Ward Alderman William Barclay said he would open Nelson’s concerns for discussion at a future city council meeting.

“I love fireworks as much as anybody else,” Barclay said. “I celebrate the Fourth of July and watch fireworks at Cougar stadium. I’d hate to not them have [fireworks] at a game. I think he has some legitimate health concerns. He presents some valid arguments why that is unheathy.”
The bureaucrats are there, too! Now, I'm really scared!
Illinois Environmental Protection Agency spokeswoman Maggie Carson said Nelson raises interesting concerns. The IEPA already has a device to measure ambient air pollution, based in Elgin.

She said it is not likely the agency would put a monitoring device near the stadium to measure particulate matter from fireworks.

“What the Illinois EPA does is look at broader trends,” Carson said. “If there was an industrial park with a lot of pollution we might put a monitoring device there. But we would not measure a spike an hour after fireworks. We would not look at short-term issues, but those of a lifetime.”

Carson suggested that people with respiratory issues should close their windows when fireworks are used.

“If you have a lung ailment, it’s in your best interest to avoid any concentrated air pollution,” she said.
Close their windows?!?! Curses, foiled again!

I forgot to mention the title of the article from the Kane County Chronicle....I may be the new Destroyer of Worlds...But, I'm not evil!

Fireworks shows bug Geneva doctor

75 dies insquequo Oris Dies


Stop by to see us

And by us, I don't mean me...If you are planning on being at the Brewers On Deck Event at the Midwest Airlines Center on Saturday, there will be some Rattler personnel and a certain mascot there too.
Fans will be able to purchase co-branded Rattlers/Brewers merchandise, as well as discuss ticket options for the upcoming season. Fang will also be on hand to sign autographs and take pictures. The event takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and features player appearances, question and answer sessions, and much more.
Here's a chance for you future Timber Rattler fans in Southeastern Wisconsin to get a taste of the Timber Rattlers and get ready for the baseball season.

Maybe, I should go. Because there is this thing:
Other activities include an opportunity for fans to test their broadcasting skills at the FS Wisconsin Sports Desk.
Big day on Saturday.

76 dies insquequo Oris Dies

Programming note

I get to go in late to work this morning. Bob Burnell of WOSH asked me to be on his morning show at the Planeview Travel Plaza in Oshkosh to talk a little Timber Rattler baseball.

Added bonus -- for me at least -- the coach of the Oshkosh North Boys' Basketball team is on before me. Tonight's Time Warner Cable Sports 32 game is Oshkosh North at Kimberly. I might actually be prepared for a game.

My part on 1490AM this morning is around 8:45am and you can hear it by going here. You may need to download a Silverlight Player Plugin for your computer.

Why would you want to do this? Because WOSH is a Cumulus station along with our new radio home at WNAM. You'll need Silverlight in April if you want to hear the ramblings of the radio play-by-play announcer.

Nothing like getting it taken care of right now.

If you are in the area, you can also listen the old-fashioned way by turning on the radio.

#10 at Bernie's Crew

Jim at Bernie's Crew has unveiled his #10 prospect in the Brewer minor league system. Cutter Dykstra.
Cutter should be one of the most exciting prospects to watch in Milwaukee's organization in 2009. He plays with the same high-energy approach that made his father, Lenny Dykstra, famous. His physical maturation is all but complete, as his 5'11" frame tempers those projections, yet Cutter could become one of the organizations top young outfield prospects if he takes to center field well. He has good speed and a powerful arm -- as evidenced by his four outfield assists in only 39 games -- which leads scouts to believe it is only a matter of time before the young man becomes a solid center fielder. Dykstra did struggle in center last season though, committing four errors in only 24 games patrolling center. If not, however, he could move back to the infield -- perhaps second base. That is an organizational weak spot, so he still profiles well at either position.
And this is how it wraps up:
The Brewers could even have him split time between second and center, but I suspect they will attempt to fully groom the 19-year old for the center field duties of the future. His plate discipline is for real, and Cutter can flat out drive the ball to all fields. He will never have plus-power, but he has more than enough to keep pitchers honest. Cutter Dykstra will be fun to watch in Appleton next season.
Ticket packages (7 and 10-game and full season) available now.

Just found out

BOBBY! is with another organization.

The Seattle Mariners drafted Livingston in the fourth round of the 2001 draft. After spending more than four seasons in the Mariners' minor league system, the 6-foot-3, 193-pound pitcher made his major league debut on April 25, 2006. He allowed 10 earned runs in five innings for the Mariners before being demoted to the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers on May 15, 2006.

Following the 2006 season, Livingston was designated for assignment, and the Cincinnati Reds claimed him off waivers. Livingston was 3-3 with a 5.27 ERA in 10 starts for the Reds during the 2007 season, but he was placed on the disabled list on Aug. 24, 2007 with a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. The 26-year-old pitcher missed the beginning of the 2008 season while recovering from the injury. Livingston was 4-4 with a 4.98 ERA in nine starts for the Triple-A Louisville Bats in 2008. Look for him to provide depth for the Orioles in the minor leagues, perhaps with the Triple-A Norfolk Tides.

Bobby Livingston was a Timber Rattler in 2003 and set the team record for wins in a season with 15. I have several BOBBY! stories from that season. None that I will share at this time.


Thursday Motivation (1/22)

Sticking with the Eastwood theme for at least another week. In the Line of Fire is a classic.

Click for larger image.

77 dies insquequo Oris Dies...77 dies?!?! That's 11 weeks insquequo Oris Dies

Our manager was in town, too

Jeff Isom had a little chit chat with the prodigal beat writer on Tuesday.
Jeff Isom won't know the makeup of his roster until shortly before the 2009 Midwest League baseball season begins.

Still, he has a pretty clear idea on what fans can expect when they head to Fox Cities Stadium in Grand Chute to check out the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.

"One thing's for certain," the first-year Rattlers manager said on Tuesday during a visit to the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel, where he attended the annual Red Smith Sports Award Banquet. "It will be a competitive club."

That's because the Brewers have relied on one of the top minor league systems in baseball — their own — in forging into a playoff contender.

Milwaukee's homegrown talent includes such stars as Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, J.J. Hardy Corey Hart and Yovani Gallardo.

Meanwhile, potential stars like catcher/third baseman Brett Lawrie (third) and outfielder Cutter Dykstra (seventh) are ranked by Baseball America as among the top 10 prospects in the Brewers system.

Both were drafted by Milwaukee last June and could be slated to open the '09 season with the Rattlers.

"You look at our major league club, and you've got guys like Prince Fielder and Corey Hart and Ryan Braun," Isom said. "All of those guys made stops at every spot from A-ball, all the way up. So we value the minor league system."
About that...
"Brett Lawrie, he's a 19-year-old kid who can flat-out hit — fun to watch," Isom said. "And there's a whole handful of guys, guys like Cutter Dykstra, just a good group. Our scouting department's done a great job of not only finding talent, but good kids, as well."
And there is this announcement from the boss:
[Timber Rattler President Rob] Zerjav said the club's first home game — April 9 at 6:35 p.m. against Quad Cities — will feature a double bobblehead giveaway.

He said fans will receive a twin bobblehead of Rattlers mascot Fang shaking hands with Brewers mascot Bernie Brewer.

This will commemorate the Rattlers becoming a Brewers affiliate.
Makes sense. Not like we're a Rays affiliate.

Brewer Prospect Countdown

Just catching up with Between the Green Pillars and Bernie's Crew and their countdowns of their top Brewer prospects.

Ryan at BTGP has Jake Odorizzi at #10.
Odorizzi has the stuff to be a #1 starter and could move quickly if he improves his command from what he showed in his pro debut, which seems likely given what all the scouting reports said about him. He’ll need to do a little “filling out”, but that is normal for a guy fresh from high school. The team may send him to extended spring training to keep him away from the cold Appleton spring, but if he’s healthy he should find his way there before the end of May. Pay close attention to his walk rate, if that improves the sky is the limit for Odorizzi.
Jim at BC has Odorizzi at #11....with video!...by someone who doesn't know what to focus on between pitches...

no prediction from Jim as to an arrival date in Appleton.

Two kids sit down at a table for the Whitecaps Winter Banquet...

and this happened.
When Bennett Sinner, 8, and his brother Eric, 13, second- and seventh-graders at St. Mark Lutheran School in Kentwood, took their seats at a front-row table, they didn't know who would join them. It wasn't long before [Brandon] Inge and his wife, Shani, sat in two of the seats.

"Inge is my favorite player and I was shocked when he sat down at our table," Bennett said.

"Having him at our table is exciting, and I thought it was a joke and I was trying to figure out what television show was messing (around) with me," Eric said.
Making kids think they are on Candid Camera was not the only thing going on yesterday in Grand Rapids.
Who better to sell Detroit Tigers baseball than the organization's No. 1 salesman, Tigers president/CEO Dave Dombrowski, who was in his element Wednesday afternoon as the guest speaker for an invite-only luncheon hosted by the West Michigan Whitecaps.

Despite Dombrowski's baseball talk, the theme behind the luncheon was to show Fifth Third Ballpark could be utilized as more than just a baseball venue.

Dombrowski was back in his element Wednesday night as a guest speaker at the sold-out 15th Annual Whitecaps Baseball Winter Banquet, held at the JW Marriott in downtown Grand Rapids.

"For me this was pretty easy because when they asked me to make this presentation ... really, it's baseball and it's about our relationship with the West Michigan club, which is very close and important to us," Dombrowski said. "When you can help out your minor league teams, you do it when it's possible.
Like the other day when Doug Melvin was in town, he went to a meeting of an Appleton civic organization. Thank you for that.

Back in the story, there is a bit with Whitecaps CEO Lew Chamberlain about the potential look of the MWL after it goes to 16 teams in 2010 and then there is this:
The Whitecaps have received two more coaching commitments from former Detroit Tigers John Warden and Dave Bergman for their July 10-12 fantasy baseball camp at Fifth Third Ballpark.

Cost is $895 per person and limited to the first 60 players. Warden and Bergman will join Dave Rosema, Dan Petry and Phil Regan as coaches. For more information, call the Whitecaps' front office at (616) 784-4131.
What's that number again?

Highlights from the Weston

WSAW-TV of Wausau has a video story on the induction ceremonies from the Central Wisconsin Baseball Hall of Fame. Jack Roeder, the General Manager of the Cedar Rapids Kernels, was inducted. There is this quote:
"So many memories from here, when I worked with the (Wausau) Timbers," said former Timbers G.M. Jack Roeder. A lot of the things we do in Cedar Rapids (Kernels, Single-A team) were really born here."
In a non-Midwest League related note, there is this quote from another inductee:
"To be recognized after that many years for something you did that many years ago, I'm glad it happened when I'm alive," said a smiling John Bauer of Auburndale."
Yep. Beats the alternative.

A partnership in the MWL

News! From Quad Cities!
One of the great charms of Modern Woodmen Park is that it feels like home. From the smiling ticket taker greeting guests at the gate to the friendly usher escorting them to their seats, the River Bandits put a great deal of emphasis on maintaining a comfortable and inviting atmosphere.

A significant part of the organization's perpetual focus on improving the guest experience involves the quality and service of the food and beverage operation at Modern Woodmen Park. After making wide-ranging upgrades in concessions in 2008, the River Bandits took another giant step in that arena on Wednesday by announcing a new partnership with Professional Sports Catering, who will oversee the club's food service operation.

"The best part about Professional Sports Catering is that they love what they do - and they're really good at it," said team owner Dave Heller. "PSC is owned and operated by people that work in Minor League Baseball, and because of that their focus is the same as ours - serving our fans. As a result, our fans can look forward to markedly better food with bigger portions and shorter lines. The result will be an even better experience at the ballpark."

PSC is owned and operated by Tom Dickson and Sherrie Myers, who also own and operate two Minor League Baseball teams: the Double-A Montgomery Biscuits and the Single-A Lansing Lugnuts.
That's all well and good. But, the windows in the radio booths at Modern Woodmen Park don't open.

Lara in the Playoffs

Cardenales de Lara lost at Caracas. They are 7-8 in the round robin portion of the Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional playoffs.


Ex-Rattlers for Lara:
Ivan Blanco ('05): 1-1/3IP, 2H, R, BB, K, HR

Ex-Rattlers for Caracas:
Carlos Maldonado ('98, '99): 1-for-3, run, BB
Julio Mateo ('00): 3-1/3IP, 6H, 5R, 4ER, 2K

Lara is at Caracas again tonight at 7:30pm Venezuela Time. This game looks like the final one in the round robin.


Baseball on TV (1/21)

First of all, why did no one tell me about this Chiller channel that is now available on my Time Warner Cable System?

Second of all, why did no one tell me that there was a Twin Peaks marathon on before the Championship games on Sunday?

Third of all, I managed to catch this part from that wonderfully weird series. The baseball tie-in? Agent Cooper is throwing something at a target from exactly 60'-6" away...to help him solve a murder...don't ask questions...just dive right in to the oddness.

"Would you please, put on the kitchen mittens?"

78 dies insquequo Oris Dies

New guy in Fort Wayne

If there is time later this week, I'll need to add another blog to the links on the left under the Broadcasters section. There is a new radio guy in Fort Wayne and he's got a blog.

Oh, his name is Dan Watson and the blog is called The Watson Files.

Seems to write a bit more coherent posts than a certain writer you all check out occasionally. I hate him already.....just kidding.

Missed one

When running through the World Baseball Classic provisional rosters, I was almost positive that I had all of the ex-Rattlers.

Not quite.

Taiwan: Kuo Hui Lo

In response to the question from The Kid about why Michael Saunders is not on the provisional Canadian roster...

I don't know.

A day that ends with some Q & A

The prodigal beat writer got a chance to talk with Brewer General Manager before the Red Smith Banquet last night. There is a Q & A after the introductory stuff.
Ever wonder what a day in the life of a Major League Baseball general manager is like?

Not as hectic as you might think.

Just check out the scene Tuesday from the lobby of the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel.

You had Milwaukee Brewers general manager Doug Melvin posing for a seemingly never-ending series of pictures with Wisconsin Timber Rattlers president Rob Zerjav as the two clubs prepare for the 2009 season — the Rattlers' first as the Brewers' low Class A Midwest League affiliate.

And as for that incessant buzz of his BlackBerry? Was it an impending trade? News on Prince Fielder's salary arbitration request?

"Everybody communicates this way now," Melvin said with a laugh as he hunkered down in an oversized chair. "Probably only 10 percent of what comes across there is anything that's important."

Melvin was in town to attend the annual Red Smith Sports Award Banquet, where he received the event's Nice Guy Award.
Most of the Q's & A's are about the big league club, but there is this at the tail end.
Q: Finally, it appears one of the organization's top prospects, 19-year-old Brett Lawrie, likely will be pegged to play for the Timber Rattlers this season. What are your impressions thus far of the player you selected with your top draft choice last June?

A: We haven't seen him play a lot. He was busy last year with the Canadian junior championship and the (Canadian) Olympic team, but he's a very talented kid, very versatile — a real gamer. He's got a chance to be a real good hitter.

People have talked about him as a young kid, a high school kid, who could come up really quick. There's a chance (former major leaguer) Lenny Dykstra's kid could be here in Appleton, Cutter Dykstra, but I'm not sure at this point. Brett Lawrie has probably got a chance to come here, and I think fans will enjoy how hard he plays. He's a real hard-nosed, blue-collared type player.

View from the American League Press Boxes

Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times recently did a post on all of the press boxes in the American League and rated them from worst to best.

This is something that I may pick up on as we get closer to the start of the season. I may come up with a different ratings system though.
1. Stadium proximity/access
2. Food
3. Interview space in visitors' clubhouse
4. Working conditions in pressbox/view
5. Postgame access to clubhouse from pressbox
Mainly because the only thing that matters to me is #4...and maybe #2...maybe.

Anyway, Oakland is at the bottom, Fenway is at #13, and old Yankee Stadium is #12. #1 is as surprising the fact that the stadium at Baker's #1 hosted a World Series last October.


Ex-Rattlers in the World Baseball Classic

Or at least on the Provisional Rosters.

USA: Brian Fuentes, JJ Putz, Matt Thornton

Australia: Craig Anderson, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Chris Snelling

Canada: Phillippe Aumont...Noting that potential future Rattler Brett Lawrie is on Team Canada

Dominican Republic: Damaso Marte and ex-Appleton Fox Alex Rodriguez

Italy: Alex Liddi

Korea: Shin-soo Choo

Netherlands: Greg Halman

Puerto Rico: Joel Pineiro

Venezuela: Felix Hernandez

79 dies insquequo Oris Dies

BA's Top 10 Brewer Prospects

Again...Not that BA.

This BA, Baseball America. Here is the Top 10...which was kind of already covered....
  1. Alcides Escobar, SS
  2. Mat Gamel, 3b
  3. Brett Lawrie, c/3B
  4. Jeremy Jeffress, rhp
  5. Angel Salome, c
  6. Lorenzo Cain, of
  7. Cutter Dykstra, of
  8. Taylor Green, 3b
  9. Cole Gillespie, of
  10. Jonathan Lucroy, c
The scouting reports are behind the subscriber wall and so is Tom Haudricourt's chat.

Quickly on a couple of potential Rattlers:
Q: JAYPERS from IL asks:

Thanks for the chat. How far off the Top 10 did Jake Odorizzi fall, and what factor(s) excluded him?

A: Barring any in-house changes, I had Odorizzi at No. 11, so obviously he just missed the Top 10. The kid has a high ceiling and the Brewers were very careful to limit his work after he signed.

Q: Michael Stern from Rochester NY asks:

Great chat! What do you think about Lawrie eventually moving to 1B, with Fielder moving on in a trade? Could he play there? With Gamel or Hardy moving to 3B he seems blocked, and if he doesn't work out at C, it seems 1B would be the most logical spot. Does he have enough power to play there? Is he a possible 35-40 HR guy? How does the Brewers infield appear that it will shake out?

A: It wouldn't surprise me if Lawrie found his way to first base at some point. Or the OF. Or 3B. That's how versatile he has been. But, like many of the Brewers' top prospects, Lawrie is much more advanced offensively than defensively. Accordingly, it's going to be some musical chairs in coming years regarding defensive positions for these guys.
Note: edited a few things because a BA password was asked for every time I checked the site since I posted this story. Should be fixed.

Early candidate for Headline of the Year

When a story has a headline like this and it has a tie-in to a Midwest League team, you just know Rattler Radio will be there.

Cardboard heroes repel bird droppings
Andrew Ottmar crunched along the frosty Fifth Third Field outfield, avoiding goose droppings as he advanced on a sentinel coyote.

"It's like a piece of rubber," said Ottmar, the Dayton Dragons director of operations said while bending over to readjust the fake coyote torso.

He grabbed the similarly fabricated rabbit that was in the coyote's mouth.

"You don't really need this," he said. "We thought it looked more real."

To geese, the rubber coyote, his furry prey and their cardboard friends are real enough.

Last week, Dragons personnel installed several decoy animals throughout the infield and outfield to displace geese that periodically sat in the downtown stadium and used it as a restroom.

Since then, geese sightings have drastically reduced.

I can see why....Can I just mention that Geese are stupid? Geese are stupid. There I said it.

Cardinal Caravan Greatest Hits

Steve Batterson collects some stories from the Cardinal Caravan stop at Modern Woodmen Park.

The one-liners of the event come from The Mad Hungarian!
Temperatures hovered near 20 degrees, and snow covered the playing field at Modern Woodmen Park on Monday, but the Cubs-Cards rivalry never is out of season.

Or, as former St. Louis pitcher and Cardinals broadcaster Al Hrabosky put it, “I’ve got my World Series ring on because I know none of the Cub fans have ever seen one.”

Or, as he added, “When you talk about the Cubs, all you have to remember are the last two letters.”
Oh, to be a funny broadcaster.

Take off sign

There are many Rickey Henderson stories out there. 100% Injury Rate has a Top 25, but this one -- as told by former Brewer manager Tom Trebelhorn -- isn't on there.

Treb was on an XM Radio show with Dave Sims and Kevin Kennedy and Eric Degerman of the Tri-City Herald caught it for our enjoyment.

Trebelhorn was Rickey's first manager in baseball, which was in Boise in 1976. And here we go...
"We're in Boise, and I said, ‘Rickey, you're on your own to run. You're fast. I want you to be aggressive. I want you to be fearless. I want you to be really confident in what you are doing.' "

" 'OK, OK, OK,’ Rickey said to me,” Trebelhorn added.

"So he's not running,” Trebelhorn continued. “Finally I said, 'Rick, why aren't you running? And he said, 'Well, you know I really need the sign to go.' “

At this point, Kennedy begins to chuckle in the background.

"All right, I'll give you the sign,'" Trebelhorn said.

"So he gets on first base and I go through the whole signs," Trebelhorn said. "At the end, I take all the signs off -- and he steals second.

"So I said (to Henderson), 'All right. Watch. Look at me," Trebelhorn said. "I give him the same signs again, and I give him the 'take off' sign. I take EVERYTHING off. Nothing is on. He steals third."

Kennedy chuckles some more.

"I said, 'Rick, god dang it. Back to back pitches this is what I want you to do on your own, but I didn't give you the 'steal' sign," Trebelhorn said. "You don't even know the signs."

"And (Henderson) said, 'Man, man, Treb, man. I know the signs. Rickey knows the signs. Rickey knows the signs."

"So I said, 'Well, what's the sign then?' " Trebelhorn said.

Henderson then tells Trebelhorn, "Man, it's the 'take off' sign. So I 'took off' to second, and I 'took off' to third!"

Lara in the Playoffs

Cardenales de Lara lost at Zulia last night in Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional.


No ex-Rattlers got into the game for Lara.

Los Cardenales are off tonight. Back in action at Caracas on Wednesday.


Just a couple of friendly reminders

Reminder #1: In case you didn't check in this weekend, the Timber Rattlers are getting a new video scoreboard.

It's going to be...what's the word? AWESOME!

Reminder #2: 80 dies insquequo Oris Dies

"Full Speed Ahead"

The former home of "Crash" and "Nuke" is getting some renovations.
The road hasn't always been a smooth one, but Minor League Baseball and the City of Durham are moving full-speed ahead on the Durham Athletic Park renovations.

This $5-million project, whose initial funding was provided by a bond referendum, is a crucial one for those involved in Minor League Baseball. Once the renovations are complete, the venerable facility will be used as a comprehensive "Baseball Lab," in which nearly every category of baseball employee will receive education and training.

Additionally, the refurbished playing surface will serve as a home field for nearby educational institutions (most notably North Carolina Central University), and will also be used as a location for city festivals and other events. When the work is done, the city of Durham will function as the owners of the facility, while Minor League Baseball will be the operator.
"Baseball Lab" that almost sounds like a course in school.

Lara in the Playoffs

Lara is back at .500 in the round robin portion of the Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional playoffs.

10 innings
Box score

No ex-Rattlers got into the game on Sunday.

Lara is at Zulia again tonight at 7:30pm Venezuela Time.


Guest blogger (1/18)

Hi, kids. It's me. Broomy McSweep. I'll make occasional appearances during the season. Usually after the Timber Rattlers sweep a doubleheader or a series.

But, today I'm here to represent the cold weather getting swept out of the Midwest. It was actually 17 degrees above zero when I was outside. I am also here to represent sweeping out the inbox of the guy who writes this blog.

First: Lara lost 4-2 to Caracas. Ivan Blanco ('05) 2-1/3IP, 2H, 0R, 3K got in the Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional Playoffs.

Second: Just Blue Skying in Peoria.
The NHL hit one out of the park when it staged an outdoor regular-season game last season and again this season.

How about an outdoor hockey game in Peoria?

It’s something the Peoria Chiefs are considering. They’d like to play host to a Winter Classic, American Hockey League style, at O’Brien Field.

Chiefs president Rocky Vonachen and Peoria Rivermen chief operating officer Josh Morin have talked, only informally, about the logistics of having the Rivermen play an outdoor game at O’Brien Field next winter.

It’s only exploratory. But as the NHL event continues to grow in popularity, it’s a matter of time before someone in the minors pulls this off, too.
Third: The important part about Scott Steinmann taking over as the manager of the Clinton LumberKings...what Ted thinks.
"He probably knows the bus routes by heart. We’re excited to have him. I enjoyed getting to know Scott when he was on the other side of the field,” Clinton general manager Ted Tornow said.

“He’s had some success at higher levels and as Seattle reorganizes its organization, they obviously believe he has something to offer in terms of educating and guiding their younger players.”
Fourth: Never leave like this...ever. Mehring jumped in with a few comments, those are in italics. I bolded the really relevant thing.
New Curve broadcaster Ron Potesta, like owner Bob Lozinak, spent the past six years in a place where fans don't care much about minor league baseball.

Radio announcers are like players (editor: We are?), Potesta said, in that they don't get too enthused going to the ballpark and performing when there are 200 people in the stands (editor: We don't?). That was the norm when Potesta worked for the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx in Jackson, Tenn.(editor: except for last year when attendance jumped over 25% over the 2007 season to 2,096 per game), but he knows things will be very different with the Curve at Blair County Ballpark.

''I am so excited to see 5,000, 6,000, 7,000 people at the ballpark,'' Potesta said. ''It puts an extra spring in your step.''

Potesta, who replaces Jason Dambach as the voice of the Curve, comes to Altoona with 12 years of minor league broadcasting experience. He worked for Lozinak's former team in Tennessee, and prior to that he had career stops in Lubbock and Abilene, Texas, Elmira, N.Y., and Vero Beach, Fla.

''In my 12 years of broadcasting, this is probably going to be the first year where the fan base is actually relevant,'' said the 44-year-old Potesta, who earned Southern League Broadcaster of the Year honors in 2007 with West Tenn.
So long, Diamond Jaxx and thanks for the memories.

Fifth: Whitecaps to host Irish Music Festival.
[T]he Aug. 22 event will boast an Art at the Park show with exhibits and sales of original paintings, sculptures, jewelry, fabric, ceramics and pottery, along with performances by popular Celtic acts The Elders, Screaming Orphans, Stephen's Green and balladeer Brendan Nolan, who will emcee.
They must not have been able to get Celtic Women:

Sixth: Former Kane County Cougar and current Philadelphia Phillie announcer Scott Franzke was interviewed by Shay Roddy of the Phillie Phanatics blog. Just click the link for some good announcer stuff.

Seventh: Between the Green Pillars has revealed Cutter Dykstra as the #13 prospect in the Brewer organization.
Dykstra was sidetracked briefly in July with a groin injury, which resulted in a short rehab assignment in Arizona, but he returned quickly to Helena. He played SS in high school, but was moved to CF late in his senior year, which allowed scouts to get a look at the position he’ll play in the pro’s. The most obvious flaw in Dykstra's game is his below average arm, which could limit his ability to play CF. If his arm can be playable in CF, he has a good shot to be an everyday player in the big leagues at some point. If he isn’t able to do that, he will probably become a 4th OF “tweener” type, because he lacks LF power and obviously couldn’t play everyday in right. He’s got the makeup of a Dykstra, which was obviously something that intrigued the Brewers and is a good enough reason to give him the benefit of the doubt on making the adjustments he’ll need to make to get to the big leagues. Unless something unforeseen happens, you can probably count on him being the lead-off hitter for the Appleton Timber Rattlers next year.
That's WISCONSIN Timber Rattlers, Ryan. But, otherwise good stuff.

Eighth: Last week, Tom Hardricourt revealed his Top 10 Prospects in the Brewer system as he put it together (with one tweak by the editors) for Baseball America. BA will be putting up that list along with 11-20 and some scouting reports tomorrow at some time. But, since the cat is out of the bag...
1. SS Alcides Escobar
2. 3B Mat Gamel
3. C Brett Lawrie
4. RHP Jeremy Jeffress
5. C Angel Salome
6. OF Lorenzo Cain
7. OF Cutter Dykstra
8. 3B Taylor Green
9. OF Cole Gillespie
10. C Jonathan Lucroy
That seems like a good place to stop today.

81 dies insquequo Oris Dies
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