Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Ironpigs Elite

Congratulations to Ryan Vogelsong on a great game for the Giants on Saturday night.  I can’t help but wonder if he would be this good with the Phillies if they wouldn’t have released him on July 15, 2010.  Afterall, he was just 2-5 with a 4.91 ERA in his half season with the Lehigh Valley Ironpigs.   Vogelsong was a 32 year old veteran trying to make it back to the big leagues when he passed through the Lehigh Valley.  There always seems to be a veteran or two in the Ironpigs starting rotation who are trying to earn one more shot at the show but few ever seem to realize that dream.  We’ve seen the likes of Kris Benson, Gustavo Chacin, Rodrigo Lopez, Nate Bump, Brandon Duckworth, Dave Bush, Ryan Feierabend, Aaron Heilman, Tim Redding and others all pass through the gates of Coca-Cola Park, all with varying degrees of success, or failure.

Now, nearly 28 months after being released by the Phillies/Ironpigs, Ryan Vogelsong was the winning pitcher in Game 3 of the 2012 World Series.  It made me think,…were there any other pitchers who started a World Series game “after” starting a game for the Lehigh Valley Ironpigs.   It didn’t take me long to think of one other name.  On July 31, 2009, Pedro Martinez started a game for the Ironpigs.   He was then called up to the Phillies where he won 5 of 6 decisions the remainder of the season.  In the 2009 World Series he made 2 starts for the Phillies, both losses to the New York Yankees.  But Pedro may be in a class by himself because he started (and won) a game for the Boston Red Sox in the 2004 World Series.  That “could” make him the only pitcher to start a World Series game before and after he started a game for the Ironpigs.

Then I remembered another pitcher who possibly started a game for the Ironpigs before starting a game in the World Series.  I knew Brett Myers pitched for the Ironpigs in 2008 and 2009 but did he start a game for the 2008 Ironpigs and also start a game for the Phillies in the 2008 World Series?  The answer to both is yes.    Brett Myers pitched in 2 games for the 2008 Lehigh Valley Ironpigs, both starts.  He then started Game 2 of the 2008 World Series, losing to the Tampa Bay Rays 4-2.  When Brett returned to the Ironpigs near the end of the 2009 International League season, he again pitched in 2 games  but this time they were both in relief.

I then found 3 other pitchers who started a World Series game BEFORE they started a game for the Ironpigs.  The easiest one to think of was Roy Oswalt.   Oswalt was a 20 game winner for the 2005 National League Champion Houston Astros.  Houston advanced to face the American League champion Chicago White Sox and were swept 4 games to none.  Oswalt started Game 3 and went 6 innings, leaving the game with the Astros trailing 5-4, a game they once led 4-0.  The White Sox would go on to win that game 7-5 in 14 innings and then sweep the series the next night.   Six years later Roy Oswalt pitched in 2 games for the 2011 Lehigh Valley Ironpigs and both of them were starts. Add him to the list.

While looking at the boxscores from the 2005 World Series I noticed that Roger Clemens pitched Game 1 for the Astros.  His opponent that night was Jose Contreras who was 15-7 for Chicago that year as a starter, but did he ever start a game for the Ironpigs?  On May 24, 2011 Contreras made a rehab appearance with the Ironpigs.  Although he was being used exclusively as a reliever in Philadelphia, he started that day at Coca-Cola Park against the Gwinnett Braves and threw 2 scoreless innings.

The final name I found was someone I barely remembered putting on an Ironpigs uniform.   In 2006 the Detroit Tigers met the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.  The Cardinals and Tigers split the first 2 games in Detroit before moving to St. Louis where the Cardinals won 3 straight to clinch the World Series.  Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter started game 3 of that series and threw 8 scoreless innings before Braden Looper came on for a save as the Cardinals shut out the Tigers 5-0.  Starting that game for the Tigers was the final pitcher I could find who had once started a World Series game and also started a game for the Lehigh Valley Ironpigs.   His name was Nate Robertson and he was a 13 game winner for the Tigers that year.   Robertson struggled in the majors after the 2006 season and in 2010 he found himself briefly with the Ironpigs.  While in Allentown he pitched in 2 games, both starts, and went 1-1 with a 3.39 ERA.  He had been signed as a free agent by the St. Louis Cardinals on August 2, 2010 but was released on  August 23.  The next day he was signed by the Phillies.  He was assigned to the Ironpigs where he made his 2 starts before moving up to the Phillies.  He made 2 relief appearances with the Phillies on September 6th and 8th.  In that second appearance he allowed 6 earned runs in just 2/3 of an inning and two days later he was released.  He has bounced around the minors the past 2 years, never again pitching in the big leagues.  But, for that one year he was a solid starter for the American League Champions and good enough to start a World Series game.

With my half-hearted research, that puts my list at six:  Vogelsong, Martinez, Myers, Oswalt, Contreras, and Robertson.   Overall, not too bad.  If I missed anyone, please let me know.

Stay dry, and may the Baseball Gods smile down on the Ironpigs in 2013.

Other tidbits:
–Tigers outfielder Quintin Berry was drafted by the Phillies in 2006 and put on waivers in July, 2010.  He bounced around with several organizations before finding his way to Detroit.  He was promoted to the Tigers this year and never went back to the minors.  He hit .258 this year with 2 home runs and stole 21 bases in 21 attempts.

–There are only two Sunday home games with a 5:35 starting time for the Ironpigs in 2013, July 21st and September 1st.  July 21st is the only Sunday home game in July and there are no Sunday home games in August.  Same with Saturdays.  Saturday away games from July 1st to the end of the season outnumber Saturday home games by a 7-2 margin.

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LeSean McCoy in Lehigh Valley October 27th!

STEELHAWKS AND PIG PEN PRESENT COMMUNITY DAY BENEFITING THE CARING PLACE IN ALLENTOWN

********* Heard today that LeSean McCoy backed out of this charity event. No reason was given. **************

Featuring Philadelphia Eagle LeSean McCoy
Bethlehem, PA: The Lehigh Valley Steelhawks are very excited to announce that they will be working with the Pig Pen Family Entertainment Center (previously known as the Pig Pen Sports Bar & Grill) to present a Community Day benefiting The Caring Place in Allentown on October 27th, 12pm-5pm.

Our very own Tammy Santiago, Director of Performance Partnerships, will be co-hosting and MC for the event that will feature a special appearance by NFL running back LeSean McCoy of the Philadelphia Eagles. Lehigh Valley Steelhawks Mascot, Talon will be there and our very own Precious Metals will be performing.

Other events on the day will include a Bowl-a-thon, a Halloween costume contest for ages 12 and under (must be accompanied by an adult). McCoy will be participating in the bowl-a-thon and raffling off Eagle tickets and other memorabilia. All proceeds will benefit The Caring Place. McCoy will be rolling one ball in the bowl-a-thon and sponsors will be making donations based on the number of pins he knocks down. Please contact Tammy Santiago (tsantiago@lvsteelhawks.com) or the Pig Pen for sponsorship information or need any other information regarding the event.

In other news, the Steelhawks will be holding their first open team tryouts as members of the PIFL on November 17that Iron Lakes Sports Complex. Stay tuned for the Steelhawks to announce their 2013 PIFL game schedule, coming soon! The team is hard at work recruiting for the 2013 season. For further information please call Lehigh Valley Steelhawks Executive Vice President and General Manager Mike Clark at (610) 282-3100, or visit our website at http://www.LVSteelhawks.com for the latest Steelhawks news!

Fans are reminded that 2013 season ticket deposits are being accepted now to reserve your seats for the 2013 PIFL season. You can reserve your seats by calling the Steelhawks front office at 610-282-3100. Ticket packages start as low as $48!

*****

The Steelhawks are a PROFESSIONAL Arena Football team that plays in The Professional Indoor Football League. The PIFL (www.proifl.com) is a eight team league with franchises in six states. The league holds a 12-game regular season schedule that runs March through June. The PIFL’s playoffs culminate in late June with the PIFL Championship Cup. Season ticket packages start as low as $8 per game (or $48 for the full season) and games are an exciting event for people of the Lehigh Valley to attend on weekend nights.

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Was Tyson Gillies Hurt Again Today?

I noticed in the Sunday boxscores from the Venezuelan Winter League that Tyson Gillies was removed for a pinch runner today in the 6th or 7th inning.   He is their leadoff hitter and probably the fastest guy on the team so why would they pinch run for him?  After doing a little research I found an article in Spanish that said the following about Gillies:

“Leve tirón en cara posterior del muslo izquierdo. Sin consecuencias graves. Retirado del juego por prevención.”

A loose (online) translation of the above shows:

“Light pull in posterior face of the left thigh. Without serious consequences. Retired person from game for prevention.”

The description doesn’t sound serious but with Tyson’s history of hamstring injuries the past 3 years, it could be cause for concern.   Afterall, he is considered by many to be the frontrunner for the centerfield job with the Ironpigs in 2013.   Hopefully it does turn out to be just a minor tweak.

Here is the original tweet:

Cardenalesdelara.com ‏@CardenalesDice

Tyson Gillies: Leve tirón en cara posterior del muslo izquierdo. Sin consecuencias graves. Retirado del juego por prevención.

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Getting To Know Phillies Pitcher Jay Johnson

Jay Johnson is the type of baseball player everyone wants to see do well.  The young left-handed pitcher from Sussex Corner, New Brunswick, Canada suffered an injury to his left elbow that required Tommy John surgery when he was just 13 years old.  By 2006 another surgery was needed on his left elbow  to clean out the loose chips and spurs that remained from the previous procedure.   The result of that surgery made it difficult for him to straighten his left arm and he was diagnosed with something called “bent-elbow syndrome”.  So, in 2008 at the age of 18 he had his third surgery on his left elbow.   That would have been enough for any normal teenager to give up his baseball career, but Jay Johnson pushed forward.

The results of the third surgery were immediately noticeable as his velocity increased by nearly 10 mph.  In 2009 he pitched for the Prairie Baseball Academy Dawgs where his coach was a veteran baseball man named Blair Kubicek.  Under the guidance of Kubicek (more on him later), Jay Johnson was drafted in June, 2009 by the Baltimore Orioles in the 25th round of the Major League draft.  Unfortunately,  the Baltimore physicians didn’t like the looks of his elbow and he went unsigned.  Strike One.  He then enrolled at Texas Tech University where he pitched in 2010.   Again, in June, 2010 he was selected in the 26th Round of the draft, this time by the Toronto Blue Jays.  An MRI was performed on his elbow as part of his physical and it was discovered he had bone chips.   Based on those results, the Blue Jays didn’t sign him to a contract.   Strike Two.   Not ready to give up, Jay flew to Arizona at his own expense for a workout with the Seattle Mariners.  The Mariners were impressed with his ability but again their doctors were not with his elbow.  Strike Three.

That’s when his former coach Blair Kubicek re-entered the picture.   Over his lengthy baseball career, Kubicek developed working relationships with a number of major league scouts and executives.  One of those executives was former Orioles, Blue Jays and Phillies General Manager Pat Gillick.  Kubicek told Gillick the story of Jay Johnson and said he was one of the three best players he ever coached.  Going on his word, Pat Gillick arranged a tryout for Johnson with the Phillies.  Since Johnson was still in Arizona after his tryout with the Mariners, it was arranged for Phillies scout Brad Holland in Arizona to see him pitch.  What Holland witnessed was a kid with a 92-93 mph fastball with a delivery that would make him tough on left handed hitters.  Next, it was off to Clearwater where he would be pitching in front of top Phillies brass, including Dallas Green, Benny Looper and Chuck Lamar.  After the tryout he was told the Phillies would be offering him a contract.  Johnson immediately called his former coach back in Canada to tell him the good news.  He was finally going to get a chance to pitch for a professional baseball team.

Jay Johnson made his professional debut in 2011, pitching for the Lakewood BlueClaws.  His record was 1-5 but his ERA was a solid 2.94 and he also registered 5 Saves.  He recorded 49 strikeouts in 49 innings pitched and allowed 41 hits.  His control was a problem as he walked 35 batters in his 49 innings.  Over the entire season he did not allow a home run.   In 2012 he spent most of the year with Reading after pitching briefly in the Gulf Coast League and with Clearwater in the Florida State League.  With the Reading Phillies he pitched in 28 games and had a record of 2-1 with a rather high ERA of 5.02.  He allowed 33 hits and 18 walks in 28.2 innings of work while striking out 30 batters.  15 of the 28 outs he recorded against left-handed hitters were via the strikeout.   He showed enough potential as a left handed reliever for the Phillies to choose him as one of seven Phillies prospects to participate in the Arizona Fall League this year.

The 2012 Arizona Fall League begins their season on Tuesday, October 9th.  In addition to Johnson, Phillies prospects Cody Asche (3B), Tommy Joseph (C), Zach Collier (OF) and pitchers Tyler Knigge, Kyle Simon, and Colby Shreve will be on the Peoria Javalinas roster under the watchful eye of 2012 Reading manager Dusty Wathan.  If all goes well he will likely begin the 2013 season back with Reading, but a promotion to the Lehigh Valley Ironpigs is not out of the question.   Even with the possibility of a 4th elbow surgery to clean out the remaining bone chips looming in his future Jay Johnson is proving that there is still life after strike three.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFjimFsfxqM

Acknowledgment to article by Bob Elliott at http://www.canadianbaseballnetwork.com for information in this post.

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The END of a (mini) ERA

(click for full size)

Ryne Sandberg

155 W 132 L  .540 WP

(The only two winning seasons in Lehigh Valley IronPigs history and so many more memories)

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Filed under DiPro's Dish, Lehigh Valley IronPigs

What’s Going On Up North

For now, they’re still called the Yankees.  It’s only a matter of time before they’re the Trolley Frogs.  The franchise hasn’t always done a great job with promotions, IMHO, but here’s what they’ve got on tap for next season on a nightly basis.  They’ll add specific promotions later, but this is what they’re up to.  Some of this looks pretty familiar, and that’s part of why I found it interesting:

Monday:

$1 hot dog Mondays.  I take this to mean that all hot dogs, all game, on Monday, $1.  Nice.

Tuesday:

“2 For Tuesday” is buy-one-get-one for lawn tickets.  Also, Nice.

Wednesday:

“Kids Eat Free”  12 and under get a coupon at the gate for a free kids meal.  Once again, nice!

Thursday:

“Thirsty Thursday” will yield $1 beer and $1 Pepsi.  It’s not clear if it will be only pre-game or throughout, or perhaps only until a certain inning (it was through the first period for the WB-S Penguins when I went).  Also, a live band pre-game. 

Friday:

Pre-game block party with live music.  (not specified what this means, exactly) And post-game fireworks “most incredible professional fireworks..”   No word on if the local hotels will be sponsoring any of these…  ;-)

Saturday:

“special giveaway” and a live band before the game. 

Sunday:

Family FUNday, with player autographs and clowns.  Also, kids run the bases post-game.  No word on whether the clowns will sign autographs, or if any of the players will be clowns. (kidding) 

So it’s great that our close-by rivals will be doing a better job with promotions compared with previous years.  If you’ve got a band within driving distance of Moosic, you might want to send in a demo–looks like they’ll be hiring a bunch of them this season. 

And a reminder, if you’ve got any ideas for the IronPigs, please add them in the comments to the previous post.  As you can see, decisions that are made now, by the organization, will impact some of the activities at the park next season. 

Up next in Kram’s Korner:  “Inside Information” about the arena (will post when time and circumstances permit)

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