Former Phillie Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez Reportedly Killed In Car Accident in Havana

Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez in 2016

Former high-priced signing Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez was reportedly killed in a car accident in Havana, Cuba which was just confirmed by the Phillies. Gonzalez was just 34.

He is the second former Phillie pitcher to die in an accident in less than a month. Roy Halladay was killed when his private plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico.

My continuing prayers to the families of these former Phillies.

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More Phillies Minor Leaguers Released-As Of April 2, 2016

Since my last release post, I’ve discovered that four more Phillies minor leaguers have been released.

Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez
Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez

Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, a Cuban, was given $12 million over four years but had only appeared in 5 1/3 major league innings.

Cody Forsythe
Cody Forsythe

Cody Forsythe, who played in Clearwater last season was a surprising release.

Calvin Rayburn
Calvin Rayburn

Calvin Rayburn was a bit of a surprise as he had pitched just the day before.

Finally, Panamanian catcher Jose Mayorga was also released.

Jose Mayorga
Jose Mayorga-photo courtesy of the Lakewood BlueClaws

As someone who knows quite a few of these guys, in this case Rayburn and Mayorga, it’s a tough thing to see. I wish them the best and hope they fine another team soon.

Scenes from Phillies Minor League Spring Training-March 24, 2016

It was a busy day at the Carpenter Complex, not only were the AAA and AA Phillies teams playing the Yankees, there was another team (either independent or a college team, even the Phillies players didn’t know which.) playing what will likely become the Gulf Coast League team this summer.

While I’m still not up to 100%, I did my best with my knee scooter, zipping between fields, trying to guesstimate when the different players would be either pitching or hitting and just trying to capture a few good shots. The side effect is that it makes it really hard to have any clue what inning or even what the score was.

Either way, Baseball Ross and I had a good time watching baseball.

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Andrew Pullin
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Miguel Nunez
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Jorge Alfaro
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Carlos Alonso
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Yaksel Rios
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John Richy

Interesting note: John Richy executed a nice bunt, almost out ran it to first and managed to advance the runner…just what a pitcher should do. It was good to see.

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Alec Asher
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JP Crawford
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Evan Crower

Evan Crower is a former quarterback at Stanford.

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Carlos Tocci
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Malquin Canelo throws to first as Cord Sandberg covers.
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Rhys Hoskins
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Carlos Alonso
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Christian Marrero
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Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez
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Roman Quinn
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Andrew Knapp
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Cord Sandberg
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Aaron Brown
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Rhys Hoskins

 

Scenes from Phillies Minor League Spring Training-March 9

It was another beautiful day here in Clearwater. After a cold and wet winter, this warm dry March is a wonderful change. 

The one thing that I’ve noticed that’s different from last year is that the atmosphere is lighter and more positive. You see the players with smiles on their faces and a little more bounce in their steps. It seems to be almost the opposite of last season, at least, so far.

Unless you’re someone who’s unnecessarily loquacious, there’s really not a lot that you can say about watching the endless drills of the first week of spring training. So my contribution will be a series of pictures depicting today’s activities.

Jose Taveras

José Taveras tracks down the ball during PFPs-Pitcher Fielding Practice.

 

Zach Green

Zach Green begins to spring for the ball.

 

Deivi Grullon

Deivi Grullon snags the ball from the pitching machine.

Rhys Hoskins

Rhys Hoskins makes contact in batting practice.

Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez

Miguel Gonzalez begins long tossing before going into the bullpen.

 

Aaron Brown and Dylan Cozens

Aaron Brown and Dylan Cozens during base running drills.

Alberto Tirado
 
Alberto Tirado pantomimes a toss in PFPs.

  

Evan Crower
 Evan Crower was a quarterback at Stanford University who still had a year of eligibility when he was signed by the Phillies.

Derek Campbell

Derek Campbell gets ready to fire to first.

Matt Imhof

Matt Imhof smiles after a successful throw to first.
 

Christian Marrero
 

Christian Merraro is ready to fly.

  

Drew Stankiewicz
 
  Drew Stankiewicz swings for the fence.

Alexis Rivero

Alexis Rivero tracks down the ball during PFPs.

Mitch Walding

Mitch Walding throws to second. 
 

Jeff Singer
 

Newcomer Jeff Singer played last season for the Camden Riversharks. He looked sharp today.

Baseball Ross and I will be back at it tomorrow, another day in paradise.

7 Teams, 8 Games, 3,200 Miles-A Trip of a Lifetime

It was during the long, cold winter that Baseball Ross and I were sitting and dreaming of warmer days. Somehow we got on the topic of “epic trips” and started brainstorming…what if…

At some point one of us said, “what if we saw every single team in the Phillies farm system in a week?” Sure, it sounded so easy when we were sitting there in the living room all wrapped in blankets (It was during the polar vortex and even here in Florida, we had wind chills in the teens) but putting it into action was a whole other story.

We scoured the schedules of all the teams looking for a time when all of them would either be at home or at an away game that would not only be an easy drive from Harrisburg (we have family there to see) but also coordinated with the pitching schedules of our favorite pitchers. What made it even more difficult is that the rotation for the Williamsport Crosscutters would be the last released, the day before their season began.

We found one week, actually 9 days, where we could see the last game of Extended Spring Training, get on a plane and fly to Harrisburg, the next night we drove to Williamsport saw the Crosscutters, then back to Harrisburg, then drove to Lakewood to see the BlueClaws, then back to Harrisburg, then to State College to see the Cutters again so we could see Feliberto Sanchez pitch, then back to Harrisburg, then we drove to Lehigh Valley to see the IronPigs, then back to Harrisburg, then we drove to Reading to see the Fightin’ Phils, then back to Harrisburg, then we hopped on a plane flew back to Clearwater and the next day see the first game of the Gulf Coast League Phillies and a Threshers game. We flew a total of 2,000 miles and drove an amazing 1,200 more. It really was a trip of a lifetime, because I really don’t want to do that all again in a week!

Williamsport

It was opening night. It had rained and was threatening to rain again (this would become an ongoing theme of the trip).  I did a blog on that night and you can read it HERE. The downside of all the driving (4 hours in the car for Williamsport) was that it did take a lot out of me so I only did this one blog while on the trip.

Lakewood

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We were here to see our friend, Ranfy Casimiro pitch. He’s a great kid and people never stop staring when they see us together. I’m barely 5 feet tall, he’s 6′ 8″! We are totally “the long and the short of it”.

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We were lucky enough to also catch Cody Asche make a rehab appearance here in Lakewood. (This would also be a reoccurring theme as we saw him in Clearwater before we left, then Lakewood…)

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The best was seeing Casimiro pitch one of the best games of his career.

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I also was lucky enough to meet Jay Floyd of Phoul Ballz. He had interviewed me last year on his podcast along with Mr. Tug. (You can listen to the podcast HERE)

While it didn’t rain, it was cold, 64 degrees!

State College to see Williamsport again

Our friend Feliberto Sanchez pitched in State College against the Spikes.

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For me this was sort of a homecoming. I went to Penn State, albeit the Harrisburg campus, but I have many fond memories of going to State College.

What trip to Happy Valley would be complete without a trip to the CREAMERY? If you ever go to Penn State a trip to the Creamery is a must.

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State College’s stadium is right next to Beaver Stadium. It also lies in the shadow of Mount Nittany. As this was the first game, it seemed that the grounds crew groomed the mound to be a miniature Mount Nittany. It was high and seemed to have steep drop offs instead of gradual sloping sides like a “normal” mound.

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We also got to see Ricky Bielski pitch

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The thing that sticks out in my mind is the lightning. It only rained for about five minutes that night but the lightning was all around the stadium. Long, bright bolts of lightning were striking all around the stadium. I was amazed that there wasn’t a delay. Ironically, the next night the new Lion LED sign that was added to Beaver Stadium just across the street was struck by lightning!

 

Lehigh Valley

There were many things on this leg of the trip that were memorable.

Three words: Aw Shucks Corn

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Seriously, it’s my favorite ballpark food of all time. I am ashamed to admit I ate two ears of it.

Four words: Bacon-scented Tee-shirts

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Seriously! I love bacon, but this is taking it just a little far don’t you think?

 

I finally got to meet @cherylpursell and @Kram209! Cheryl takes amazing pictures and Kram well he’s the biggest Pigs fan there is. He was also gracious enough to present me with a CODY ASCHE BOBBLEHEAD! (*FAINTS*)

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He was also kind enough to show me around Coca Cola Park.

 

The funny thing was, Cody Asche was making a rehab appearance there in Lehigh Valley so we got not only to see him play again, but got to see him next to his bobble head.

 

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I also was witness to long time Pharm-hand Tyson Gillies second to last appearance as a Pig before his release.

Reading

I got to see Jesse Biddle pitch.

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I also saw my friend Carlos Alonso

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I also met @Mr.Tug who was with PhoulBallz and is now the photographer of the Reading Fightin Phils! Meeting people is fun so before the night was done, @mikeyesh dropped by to say, “Hi” to Ross and I.

The next day, we flew back to Clearwater. By Friday we were up at ant Englebert field to see the GCL Phillies.

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Trey Williams

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All the draft picks were there including Aaron Nola, who could be called the 3.3 Million Dollar Arm.

All the Phillies Brass were there

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Nola didn’t pitch that day…

And finally to complete the trip, the Threshers game at night to catch a rehabbing Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez.

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The highlight was seeing JP Crawford in his first at bat with the Threshers.

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In all that traveling we managed to see my brother, his girlfriend and my niece as well as the two girls who grew up next door next to me as a girl who are like sisters to me. We even stopped at Hershey’s Chocolate World on the way to the airport.

20140705-222241-80561610.jpg It was a really good trip. We never really got rained on, saw next to no traffic and had no car mishaps. We didn’t even have any flight delays, in fact our planes arrived early!

I don’t think our crazy trip could have worked out any better! That being said, I sure am glad to be home.

It is the Spring of my Discontent

To paraphrase Steinbeck (and badly at that), it is the spring of my discontent. I love baseball, I do, but I’m so frustrated with it, so discontent.

There’s so many reasons…almost too many to count, but I’ll try.

1. The injury bug bit early, often and viciously. Roman Quinn, Jiwan James, Cole Hamels, Ethan Martin, Cameron Rupp, Kelly Dugan, Tommy Joseph, Mitch Walding, Adam Morgan, Hugo Arrocha, Josh Warner, Steven Inch, Nic Hanson, Chase Numata, Cory Bass, Darin Ruf, Rivar Angulo, Delvy Francisco, Mike Adams, Chris Bootcheck, Yoel Mecias, Anthony Phillips, Colin Klevin, Hoby Milner, Ryan Demmin, Aaron Altherr, Larry Greene, Zach Green, Brandon Short, Drew Anderson, Freddy Galvis, Andres Blanco and Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez. These are the guys I can think of right off the top of my head! While some of them have returned or are scheduled to return, there are still others that have no timeframe for return.

2. It’s barely a month into the season and Tyson Gillies was suspended for three games for destroying a bat rack in the clubhouse. To me this is a symptom of a larger problem, both with Gillies and the entire system. Gillies is developing a reputation as a guy with anger management issues. Another example happened just two weeks ago here in Florida. Kevin Walter was unhappy with the way things were going during a game in Tampa. He left the field, stormed into the locker room behind the dugout and from where I was sitting I could hear him swearing and a loud thump as if something was either thrown or a table tipped over. Just after that another Thresher player came out of the locker room with a worried look on his face. He stopped another player from going into the locker room saying “You DON’T want to go in there!”

It also is a symptom of how players (and fans) are frustrated with the lack of production and success in the organization. (Read on to number 3 for an example.)

3. The lack of wins. The records speak for themselves:

Phillies 13-12
Iron Pigs 11-13
Fightins 11-10
Threshers 5-19
Lakewood 7-16

Of the five teams currently playing in the organization, only TWO are above .500 and both of those teams are only ONE GAME over.

4. Misusing players. I have a prime example of this and it’s the one that had me totally stymied. Last season, there was only ONE Gold Glove winner in the entire Phillies system, Carlos Alonso. Carlos played 2nd for the Threshers and only made TWO errors all YEAR. ALL YEAR. He was promoted to Reading (and rightly so) and where did they have this Gold Glove winning second baseman play? Third and THE OUTFIELD! Really?!? REALLY?!? I’d have loved to sit in on the coaches meeting where they thought up that gem.

5. Bad umpiring. Last night was the end-all, be-all of bad calls. If you read my Twitter feed last night, you could tell how I was seething. The Threshers had been losing (again) and had battled back and had the winning run was at the plate. Pete Lavin had homered earlier in the game to spark the comeback and had come close to a second homer after that. Lavin came to the plate and Bright House Field was buzzing with anticipation. One foul, two fouls, three fouls, four fouls, it was easy to see that Lavin was pushing hard to be the hero. On the final call he checked his swing and from where Ross and I were sitting (and I later confirmed with another season ticket holder with another point of view) we did NOT see him break his wrists and the bat head did not cross the plate. The home plate ump called him out and didn’t even call the base ump to confirm! The game was over! Lavin was livid. If you know Pete, you know he rarely says anything to an ump, he’s fairly laid back. Last night, Lavin walked after the ump to discuss the call. The ump just walked away.

At that point, Nelson Prada got involved. When he started he seemed more in disbelief that the home plate ump didn’t even check with the base ump. I was just turning to leave when I heard Prada go ballistic! (While I am “censoring” this he used the full words) “That’s F*ing BS! That’s a F*ing BS call!”

I have to say, I was right there with Prada. While I’ve been known to occasionally heckle an ump and sitting behind home is great for that, I do not swear. There’s kids and it’s just not “proper”. Last night was the closest I’ve ever come to losing my cool and joining Prada with F-bombing the ump. My blood boiled! To end a game on a bogus call and not even check with the base ump when the winning run was at the plate was just bogus. I was so frustrated and angry. It took me a good hour after the game to cool off. I don’t think I’ve ever been that angry at a game.

I must admit I’m still sort of angry, angry and discontent enough that if Ethan Stewart and Colin Kelvin (returning from the DL) were not pitching today and tomorrow, I wouldn’t go.

If you want to see me try to decide if I’ll go tonight, watch this video, it’s pretty accurate as to how I’m feeling…

Starting Thursday, the Threshers are on the road, so I’ll get a break then, but man, I’ll be dragging myself in tonight. It’ll almost be like trying to drag myself into work on a “Monday morning”.

Let’s hope that Stewart and Kleven use this misfortune as a jumping off point so that we do not end the first month of the season with only 5 wins. If they do, we would be on pace to go 25-115 (assuming they’d continue with winning 5 games a month).