Carlos Alonso Wins Gold Glove as BEST Second Baseman in All of MiLB

Today, Alonso was awarded a Rawlings Golden Glove as the best second baseman in ALL of Minor League Baseball. (If you want to read the announcement, you can read it HERE.)

If you’ve been reading my blog and the blog of Baseball Ross, you’ll know that we’ve been singing the praises of Carlos Alonso all year. Alonso, who spent this year with Clearwater was outstanding at second base only committing TWO errors all season.

I think so highly of Alonso’s play I created my “Honorable Mention” for him specifically for My End of Season Top 10 Prospects in the Phillies’ System article. I also mentioned him as someone to keep an eye on when I was interviewed for the PhoulBallz podcast back on May 2nd.

As I told him when I messaged him, “There is no other player who deserved it more” and I meant it. He shows up every day, every play and gives 100%, the kind of guy you can point to your son and say, “see how he plays, that’s how it’s done.”

It’s great to see him finally get the recognition he has earned.

Congratulations Carlos!

Carlos Alonso posing with me after signing his jersey for me.
Carlos Alonso posing with me after signing his jersey for me.
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Sometimes You Wanna Go Where Everybody Knows Your Name

How’s the the theme from Cheers go?

Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name,
And they’re always glad you came…

This is what I love about minor league sports. Baseball Ross and I have been seriously following the Phillies farm system for almost 10 years. We have gone to spring training for about 7 of those years. Before we move to Florida, we would spend the summer driving to Lakewood, Williamsport, Reading and even managing a few days to watch the Threshers.

We do not really go out of our way to get to know all of the players, we let them do their job, but we have had the privilege of getting to know a few of the guys over the years.

Through writing our blogs, we’ve found that friends and family of the players follow us since reporting at the lower levels can be sparse, as well as getting to know others who love minor league baseball as much as we do.

By going to so many games and now being Threshers season ticket holders we have gotten to meet and know most of the other season ticket holders.

It makes all of this quite amazing. We’ve met all kinds of people. Some famous, some not so famous. BUT we all share our love of the game and there is a fellowship in that. There are a some games where I visit other fans or players family members that I’ve met. Sometimes if a game is close I’ll try to tweet or blog about what’s going on, but baseball to me, has become so much more than just a game, it’s a community.

Without baseball, literally, Ross and I would never have found our house. We had gotten lost in the way to a spring training game where the Phillies were playing the Blue Jays and got lost. Without baseball, I wouldn’t have even come here at all. I wouldn’t have made some amazing friends.

It almost makes me think of the opening narration by Annie Savoy at the beginning of Bull Durham:

I believe in the Church of Baseball. I’ve tried all the major religions, and most of the minor ones. I’ve worshipped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms, and Isadora Duncan. I know things. For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball. When I heard that, I gave Jesus a chance.

So for me there’s much more to baseball than “just a game” it’s a place to meet people, see some great places and may be find a place where everybody knows your name.

My Jerry McGuire Moment

I apologize for not blogging this week. It’s not that I haven’t been to any games or watched them on tv/internet, it’s that I just haven’t felt well, inspired to write.

I find myself feeling like Jerry McGuire in the beginning of the movie where he’s sort of rushing all around doing what he needs to do because that’s what he does, not what he wants to do. Then that one night he is hit by that bolt of inspiration that causes him to write his mission statement. Seeing that I’m starting this post at 1:30 a.m. I’d likely get fired by my boss too if I were writing this for a company that actually paid me to write. Heck, depending on where I end up, may be I’ll fire myself. (Ha!)

I think the thing that sent me into my funk was the whole Cole Hamels/Bryce Harper “incident”. It just got the wheels in my head running and I couldn’t get them to stop.

I look at the Phillies roster and how EIGHT of the 40 men on the roster are on the DL. EIGHT. These kind of things happen, granted usually not eight at a time. The Phillies are hurting for players that can produce at the major league level. Then Cole goes and makes, frankly, a bonehead move like hitting Harper ON PURPOSE with a 93mph fast ball.

How do you justify that? They are hurting for players and Hamels goes and gets himself suspended. So that made NINE guys that couldn’t play. If you ask me, he got off easy. He essentially only had to push back one day in the rotation. I honestly think if a player gets a five game suspension it should be five games where he could actually play. With a pitcher it equates to just delaying their start one day. Not much of a punishment for intentionally hurling a ball 93 mph into a guy’s butt.

Hamels contract is up for renewal at the end of the season. Howard Eskin was reporting that Hamels is asking for a seven year contract. Now, if he wants a contract that’s comparable to the 5 year deal that Cliff Lee got, Lee got 11 million the first year, 21.5 this year and for the next three years he gets 25 million dollars. Some sources are estimating that Hamels will ask for approximately what Lee is getting. If Hamels gets the 25 million a year that Lee is getting the next three years, for his contract: that’s ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY FIVE MILLION DOLLARS. Think about it.  I’m not saying he can’t produce but after his questionable behavior this week, would you feel comfortable investing that kind of money in a guy who might just make a decision on a whim that could harm the team without thinking about the consequences? Will he still continue to play to his fullest ability?

Look at all the money the Angels put out for Albert Pujols. INSANE money. He just got his first home run this weekend. What’s his incentive to keep playing as hard as he can? His money is guaranteed. He played hard last year because he wanted the big contract, this year? Can you say the same?  If he never hits another homer, he still gets paid the same. There’s no bonuses for playing hard and it’s just human nature to do only what you have to to get by. That’s where the problem lies, there’s just no incentive. I’m not by any means suggesting he’s tanking on purpose, but I’d wager he just doesn’t seem to be playing all out every game like he did last year.

Then look at the money that’s tied up in long term contracts. Chase Utley is down to only one more year, but will he ever be able to play again? If he does, at what level? I can actually say, I have had patella problems including surgery to thin the tendons to lengthen them. I did the therapy. My knee is good, but it will never be 100% and I can tell you from experience that it’s the stopping and turning that make it hurt. Not running/walking. I can walk for days and it doesn’t bother me, but if I stop quick and turn, that’s a different story. Isn’t that what a second baseman does? Grab a ball turn and throw? If it’s arthritis, there isn’t a lot that can be done to keep the pain from returning.

Howard’s out. Hopefully by the end of the year he’ll be back. He’s in the first year of a five year deal. 20 million this year and next and the last three years 25 million dollars.

Amaro’s got so much money tied up in some of these major contracts it doesn’t leave a lot for them to get players to add depth to the roster so that when injuries occur there’s someone to step in. They get players like Wiggington, a player who’s former team wanted to get rid of him so badly, they were willing to pay half his salary while he played for someone else. Laynce Nix’s contract wasn’t renewed with Washington. He was “cheap” at 1.15 million this year, but no one else wanted him. If so much money wasn’t tied up they might have been able to get some one, err, a little more playable?

Then when disaster strikes, and how can you not call eight of your players on the DL not a disaster, you could turn to your farm system for replacements. I personally think that the Phillies have one of the best farm systems in the league. There is a great deal of talent in the pool. So many guys who could step in and help. There might be a learning curve while they adjust to playing at the top level, but I’d rather lose a few games to inexperience than because the guy playing is past his prime.

I really like Jim Thome. He’s a super nice guy. I wish him no ill will, but I think there’s a problem when he can’t practice taking ground balls without needing to sit on a step stool. I saw him in spring training. They had him next to Bright House on the short field sitting on a step stool fielding ground balls. You can’t tell me that there was no one who was more physically able to fill first base. At the time we still had Matt Rizzotti. He had played with the  Phils last spring training. This year? They didn’t bring him up and soon dealt him to the Twins. Darrin Ruf is leading the Eastern League in batting average, Cody Overbeck is in Lehigh Valley and don’t count out Big Jim Murphy who’s 2nd in the Florida State League in RBIs. I’m not saying that these guys are truly ready to play as good as Howard the first day but they’d be making a third of what Thome is and may be they’d grow into the position and frankly, I’d be willing to bet that they could slide into second without throwing their backs out. Give the young guys a chance.

Shane Victorino’s contract is also up at the end of the year. Who’s going to replace him?

I’m fairly certain that they’ll either pay way too much for too long for him or they’ll bring in another guy over 33 to take his place.

What about all the good outfielders in the farm system? You’ve got guys like Derrick Mitchell and Tyson Gillies (Gillies is currently ON the 40 man roster though he’s playing in AA Reading) or even Rich Thompson who should at least earn a shot at winning the spot.

Look at all the players that the Phillies didn’t want who went on to have  success somewhere else: Michael Borne, Gio Gonzolez, Jason Donald, Adrian Cardenes, Michael Taylor, Lou Marsen…they’re somewhere else and making an impact and that’s just the guys that are in the majors.

They spend all that time to develop the talent then ignore it. It’s so frustrating.

As a fan, the majors are getting more and more out of reach as well. To make the money to pay these huge salaries, they have to charge more for tickets, souvenirs cost more, food, everything. It’s getting to where the average Joe can’t afford to take the whole family out. What about getting your kid an autograph? Unless you go to a charity event or pay for it, it’s likely not going to happen (unless you’re at spring training).

Then I look at the farm system. That’s where I as a fan, look for my investment.

The whole minor league system is set up to not only be fan friendly, but affordable. MiLB was running a promotion, “A family of four can go to a minor league game for 46 dollars” or something like that. It included a hot dog and drink for everyone too. Heck, on dollar Tuesdays in Clearwater, you can get a berm seat for a buck, a hot dog for a buck and a small soda for a buck. Heck add an ice cream sandwich in for desert and a bag of popcorn and that’s still just five bucks. You can take a family for dinner and a game for just twenty bucks. If you’d go to Citizen’s Bank Park, that’s what? Half of an upper deck seat?

The players may not make much money but they don’t mind saying hi or even waving on occasion if they see you at the games often enough and heck you can afford to go often when the prices are so low.

Saturday night we went to Dunedin to see the Threshers play the Blue Jays and we sat right behind the Threshers dug out. Cost six bucks a ticket. (Friday night it was only 3 bucks a ticket!!!) I don’t think most people have the money or connections to get seat like that in Philly. Here you can sit close enough that you can feel like you’re actually supporting your team and may be heckle the umps too.

That’s something the average person can’t do in Philly. With the salaries going up, I’m going to imagine the ticket prices will too.

I guess I’ve just been thinking too much, I just feel so jaded. It’s not that the Phillies don’t have talent, it’s just that so much of it isn’t “what it used to be” and to keep getting older guys without at least giving their young talent a chance is just so frustrating to me. They keep losing so many games for not having any offense and I look at the farm system and there’s so many young guys that just might be able to contribute if just given half a chance. They’d want to be there so much that they’d put in the effort, push so much harder that may be they could put together a few wins without worrying about throwing a back out, or pulling a calf muscle.

I don’t know. At least for now, I’ll spend $30 a month, sit at home with my dogs on my comfy couch and watch the Phillies that way. I can eat my own food and drink my own drinks. I can do that for a whole month and also watch MiLBtv too. All of those games as well for the same $30 bucks. If I’m going to go to a game, I’ll go to the minors. At least I know that these are guys with something to prove, a reason to play hard and may be sign a ball or two.

This is just my ramblings, the ramblings of a tired (it’s now 3 am when I’m finishing this) and frustrated fan. My mission statement if you will, to find good baseball wherever I can…or at least can afford.