The pace is picking up here at One Morrie Silver Way….right now, as I write this, a meeting of the Red Wings Hall of Fame committee is taking place in our conference room. Last year, the committee voted to elect Elmer Fairchild, Chris Hoiles and Paul Mitchell to the Wings Hall; who will join the elite group in 2011?
What we can answer right now is, “What are some of the highlights of the 2011 promotions schedule?” Here’s a quick rundown, with more details to be finalized and posted in the Schedule section of RedWingsBaseball.com in two weeks:
* ZOOperstars! July 8 and Aug. 13
* Baseball/Fireworks/RPO concert triple header July 17
* The Famous Chicken July 30
* Wings Cap giveaway June 18
* Bark in the Park June 26
* Former Yankees/Blue Jays pitcher Jimmy Key Aug. 21
* Red Wings Legends Card Strip giveaway Apr. 24 and 29, June 4, Aug. 12 and Aug. 19
* Post-Game Fireworks April 15 and 29, May 6-7, 21; June 3-4, 17-18; July 4, 8, 17, 30-31; Aug. 12-13, 19-20; Sept. 2-3/
* Kids’ Glove giveaway June 3
* Post-game Team Autograph Session April 23
In addition, our non-game day special event schedule will be the biggest ever – with the return of the 98PXY Summer Jam, and two more concert special events plus a big, non-concert event that might be hard to top.
Your Red Wings planning calendar should also include the debut on TWCS of our Red Wings Insider special with manager Tom Nieto March 7, and of course the reporting dates and spring training games for the Wings in March – click here for all the details on the Wings in Spring. And it’s not too early to get your tickets for the 83rd annual Red Wings Welcome Home dinner April 5, at the Radisson Hotel Rochester Riverside; click here for the info on how to order, and click here to see our coverage from last year’s dinner.
How’s that? Enough to look forward to on a cold Friday in February?
Ok, one more nugget for our valued season seat holders: this year’s ticket package will celebrate our 15 seasons at Frontier Field, with images of Red Wings who are associated with countless great Frontier Field memories since our first season here in 1997. Howie Clark, Marv Foley, Garrett Jones and Francisco Liriano are just four of the 10 players who will grace your season tickets this season. Not a season seat holder? Now’s the best time to get all the details on becoming one!
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To hopefully provide warmth this wintry Rochester weekend, here’s an update on some Wings Things to look forward to.
* Our typical off-season Friday posting will take a break next weekend, as we head off to TwinsFest 2011 in Blaine, MN just north of Minneapolis. American Airlines and The Hotel Minneapolis present our exclusive coverage, beginning Thursday Jan. 27 in the News section of RedWingsBaseball.com. TwinsFest is an annual fundraiser for the Minnesota Twins Community Fund, and features the entire 40-man roster plus several top prospects. For TwinsBaseball.com info on TwinsFest, click here; to look back at our heart-warming coverage from last year’s TwinsFest, click here.
* While TwinsFest provides a focal point for the fans of Twins Territory, our annual shareholders’ meeting next Saturday provides the annual overview of Rochester Community Baseball. Red Wings manager Tom Nieto will discuss the ball club and answer questions from fans at the meeting, to be held at the Doubletree Hotel in Henrietta; you can also catch Tom on the local airwaves, when he joins 1280 AM/107.3 FM WHTK’s John DiTullio between 5-6 p.m. Friday afternoon, and 1180 AM WHAM’s Bob Matthews between 6:30-7 p.m. Friday evening.
* Speaking of appearances, RCB President/COO/CEO Naomi Silver is the featured speaker at the Center for Dispute Settlement’s 21st Annual Awards Luncheon Feb. 8th at the Rochester Plaza Hotel. Find out more at CDSADR.org.
* We’re happy to announce the addition to the Red Wings front office lineup of three talented teammates: Eric Friedman, Derek Swanson and John Blotzer. Eric and Derek were marketing/promotions assistants during the 2010 season, and now officially begin their pro baseball careers in our Groups/Picnics Department. Both are Saint John Fisher College grads. Eric is from East Syracuse, follows the Boston Red Sox, and lists Dustin Martin as his fave Red Wing player. Derek is from Rome, NY and a Yankees fan, and enjoyed watching Toby Gardenhire play for the Wings last summer.
John is our new Director of Game Day Production, heading up our in-stadium video board, closed circuit telecast, and live TWCS game telecast pieces. John takes over for Jeff Coltoniak, and joins us after working for both Toledo and Durham in the IL. John’s from Pittsburgh, and thus a big Pirates fan.
* Fans loved the Red Wings Legends Card Set that debuted in 2010, presented by CollectorFest Monthly. We’re happy to say the Legends set will return in 2011, with dates to be announced soon; five players from last year’s set will return with a new card as part of the 2011 20-card set. Two players from the Minnesota Twins era (2003-present) will be honored with a card this year; and we can tell you that Freddie Beene and Tommy Shopay – pound for pound, two of the best and most popular Wings in the 1970′s – are also part of the set.
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The Twins have signed six more Minor League Free Agents who could wind up being a part of the 2011 Red Wings. Here’s a look at the players:
Steve Holm- Holm is a 31-year-old catcher who will be in his 1st season outside the San Francisco Giants organization after they drafted him in the 17 th round in 2001. He spent last year with the Giants Triple-A affiliate in Fresno where he was the main catcher after a guy named Buster Posey got promoted to the big leagues. Holm hit .246/.343/.382 with 4 HR and 37 RBI in 82 games. He has also spent parts of the 2008 and 2009 seasons in the Majors with the Giants. A couple of Red Wings connections for Holm…he played at McClatchy High School in Sacramento, CA with former Wings lefty Ricky Barrett. He also played collegiately at Oral Roberts University, whose products include Wings manager Tom Nieto and former Wings hitting coach Bill Springman.
Matt Brown- Brown is a 28-year-old who played 1B, 3B and LF for the Rangers Triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma City in 2010. He hit .249/.311/.442 with 10 HR and 32 RBIs in 79 games. An injury early in the season affected his year and he barely played in May and June. Last year was his only season in the Texas system. He came up with the Angels spending bits of 2007 and 2008 in the big leagues. He enjoyed a huge 2008 season in Triple A with the Angels affiliate in Salt Lake City hitting .320 with 21 HR. He also played with former Wing Brian Duensing on the United States Olympic Team that earned the bronze medal that year in Beijing. Fun fact: Brown is from beautiful Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
Ray Chang– Chang primarily played 3B last year for the Red Sox Double-A affiliate in Portland, Maine although he also spent a little time at the other three infield spots. The 27-year-old hit .298/.384/.436 with 9 HR and 55 RBIs for the SeaDogs. He previously spent time in the Padres and Pirates systems and also played for the Chinese National Team in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. Chang’s parents—who are from China originally—own a restaurant in Kansas City, Missouri. The Padres signed him as a non-drafted free agent out of Rockhurst College in Kansas City after Chang attended Rockhurst High School—the same high school that produced longtime big league pitcher David Cone and current Lehigh Valley slugger John Mayberry, Jr.
Andy Baldwin— The 28-year-old former Batavia Muckdog was born in Minnesota but grew up in Oregon and pitched on some terrific teams at Oregon State. The Phillies drafted him in the 5th round in 2004 and his first pro experience was right down the Thruway at Batavia. Near the end of 2006, he found himself traded to the Mariners as part of a deal that brought former Red Wing Jamie Moyer to Philadelphia. The right-hander has spent all of the last three years with Seattle’s Triple-A affiliate in Tacoma averaging 138 innings pitched per season while working as both a starter and a reliever. Most recently, he was 9-7 with a 4.90 ERA for the 2010 PCL champs in Tacoma. Interestingly, he posted a 2.86 ERA in home games while fashioning a 7.24 mark away from Tacoma. He currently is pitching very well in the Venezuelan Winter League.
Chuck James— The 29-year-old southpaw came up with Atlanta as one of many Georgia natives the Braves always seem to have. He won 11 games for the Braves in both 2006 and 2007 before encountering some arm problems that eventually caused him to miss the entire 2009 season. He came back last year in the Washington Nationals system and actually made his first appearance of the season against the Red Wings in Syracuse. On April 23, James twirled five shutout innings against the Wings allowing only one hit. He went 2-1 with a 3.92 ERA in five starts for the Chiefs before spending the rest of the year with the Nats’ Double-A team in Harrisburg. Pitching primarily in relief for the Senators, James was dominant going 8-0 with a 1.59 ERA in 21 appearances (two starts). Opponents only hit .181 against him in the Eastern League.
Rene Rivera– The 27-year-old Rivera will be in the Red Wings catching mix in 2011. He was a 2nd round pick of Seattle in 2001 out of Puerto Rico eventually making it to the big leagues with the Mariners for parts of 2004, 2005 & 2006. The Wings saw quite a bit of Rivera in 2009 when he played for Buffalo. In 2010, he began the season in the Independent League ranks with Camden, NJ before the Yankees signed him. He split the rest of the season between Double-A Trenton (.319-5-17) and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (.250-2-11). One of his two HR for Scranton got a bit of attention. On May 29, Rivera homered off Syracuse’s Stephen Strasburg…the first HR the super-prospect had allowed as a pro.
Sad news on the passing of a great American: Bob Feller.
Rochester ‘s Mr. Baseball, Joe Altobelli, knew Feller very well. In fact, Alto’s first year as a Major League player was as a Cleveland Indians teammate with Feller in the HOFer’s next-to-last season (1955). Among Joe’s memories of “Rapid Robert”: Feller helped explain to Joe how options worked since Joe had been optioned back and forth between Cleveland and Triple A Indianapolis several times that year.
Joe made the Indians out of spring training that year—a year after Cleveland won 111 games in the regular season before losing to Johnny Antonelli’s New York Giants in the World Series. One of Joe’s best memories of his time with Feller occurred that season when Feller and Joe’s buddy Herb Score defeated Boston in both ends of a doubleheader while holding the Sox to only five total hits.
A quick check of www.baseball-reference.com tells us even more. The date was May 1, 1955. In game one Feller threw his 44 th—and final—Major League shutout in a 2-0 Tribe win. The Indians completed the DH sweep with a 2-1 win in the nightcap with Score fanning 16 men while allowing just four hits.
Here’s the fun part…Feller twirled a one-hitter (the 12 th and last in his career) in the opener. The only hit he allowed was a one-out single from Red Sox catcher Sammy White in the 7 th inning. One inning later, Cleveland manager Al Lopez inserted Joe for defense to replace the glove-challenged first baseman Vic Wertz.
I was talking to Joe on the phone about the game while looking at the box score on baseball-reference. Suddenly it hit me…the final out of the game—the final out of Bob Feller’s last career shutout—came when Boston’s Grady Hatton lined out to Joe at first base.
When I told Joe about this, he simply replied “Well, I could always catch line drives!”
Here is a great tribute to one of the best pitchers ever: http://joeposnanski.blogspot.com/2010/12/rip-bob-feller.html ….and re-visit a RedWingsBaseball.com interview with Bob, at TwinsFest in January 2009, on this page in our News section. Interesting to hear Bob talk about flying to Arizona the next day…to pitch in an Indians fantasy camp.
Had a great time Wednesday night watching the MLB Network and their replay of the classic Game 7 of the 1960 World Series. It was believed that complete footage of the game no longer existed until someone found a full copy of the game in Bing Crosby’s basement last year. Seriously. Among the things that jumped out at me about the broadcast…
-Seeing Red Wings Hall of Famer Bill Virdon in his prime playing CF for Pittsburgh six years after starring in the Rochester outfield
-Watching those old-time deliveries. There tended to be a lot more moving parts in the pitchers’ windups back then
-Dick Groat…the 1960 NL MVP for Pittsburgh. I’ve had a chance in the last few years to visit with Mr. Groat a couple of times in his role now as a color analyst for the University of Pittsburgh basketball team. He is an incredible man and it was fun to see him back in his younger days. (Dick Groat is also the answer to a great trivia question. He is the only man ever to lead the nation in points per game and assists while he was starring as a basketball player at Duke.)
-Nobody wore batting gloves so players weren’t constantly backing out to adjust their gloves
-In that same vein, pitchers didn’t dilly dally between pitches. No wonder a 10-9 game lasted only 2 hours, 36 minutes.
-How many hitters batted with a closed stance. You rarely see hitters today with that style in which your front foot is closer to home plate than the back foot. (Most hitters today seem to go with an even stance or an open stance.)
-Only one voice at a time on the TV broadcast. Back in those days, the local broadcasters handled the national TV feed. Consequently, Pirates broadcaster Bob Prince (“The Possum”) called the first half of the game, while Yankees voice Mel Allen broadcast the last half. There was no interaction between the two during the game.
-Also, as far as the broadcast goes…Mel Allen botched the call of Yogi Berra’s home run off Roy Face in the 6 th inning thinking it was foul when, in fact, it was fair. If an announcer made that sort of gaffe in a World Series today, he would be roundly ridiculed.
-No goggles needed in the postgame celebration. They showed a portion of the postgame interviews Bob Prince conducted in the Pirates clubhouse right after Bill Mazeroski ended the game with his famous home run. Unless it wasn’t visible, there was no spraying of champagne or beer in the clubhouse. In fact, some of the Pirates players were already in street clothes by the time Prince got to them and appeared ready to get their offseason started.
The MLB Network broadcast included commentary from some of the men who played in the game as part of a panel moderated by Bob Costas. I’m sure they will be replaying the broadcast again, and it is certainly worth checking out for any big baseball fan.
In news out of the just-completed Baseball Winter Meetings: The Twins have traded shortstop J.J. Hardy and 2010 Red Wing Brendan Harris to the Orioles for Minor League reliever Jim Hoey and Brett Jacobson. Hoey had spent some time in the Majors with the Orioles before suffering a shoulder injury. He could possibly be a Red Wing in 2011. Jacobson was rated as Baltimore’s 16th best prospect going into 2010 and spent all of last year at the Class A level; he is currently playing with Perth in the Australian Baseball League, which has included Luke Hughes, Allan de San Miguel and Liam Hendriks on the roster…
Former Wings pitcher (1982) and Orioles starter Storm Davis is the new pitching coach for Class A Hickory (Rangers)…ex-Red Wings shortstop Jason Bartlett is now a San Diego Padre after the Tampa Bay Rays dealt him for pitchers Cesar Ramos and Adam Russell. Bartlett—the son-in-law of former Wings pitcher Tony Chevez—is a northern California native who probably won’t mind being back in his home state…former Wings outfielder Trent Oeltjen has re-signed with the Dodgers on a Minor League contract…the Mets have signed former Wings starter Boof Bonser to a Minor League deal. That means Wings fans could see Boof in a Buffalo uniform in 2011…the Phillies have signed one-time Wings LHP Dennys Reyes to a one-year MLB contract.
More: Former Mariners and Yankees pitcher Jeff Nelson, who made an autograph appearance at Frontier Field this summer, spotted at The Disney Swan Hotel’s Il Mulino New York restaurant. Jeff had Wings pitching coach Bobby Cuellar as his coach in Seattle; and when Jeff was a high school pitching phenom growing up in Baltimore, Orioles/Wings catcher and current coach Floyd Rayford caught Jeff during some winter workouts…Quinton McCracken, a key component in the Red Wings’ drive to the playoffs in 2006, begins his front office career with the Arizona Diamondbacks’ player development office…. Congratulations and best wishes to Wings trainer Tony Leo and his new wife Jennifer, getting married today in New Orleans.
Former Wing Ron Shelton – an All-Star in Hollywood for “Bull Durham” and other films – is working on a new TBS comedy about minor league baseball. Click here to read the USA Today story about the show.
Don’t forgot our Frontier Field Team Store is open Saturday from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. Dec. 11 and 18. The Team Store will also be open on Christmas Eve, Friday Dec. 24 from 9 a.m until 1 p.m.; and be sure to visit us at Eastview Mall next Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 18-19. Click here for all the details on our Holiday Pack and Team Store hours.
Our goal is to post a new blog entry each Friday in the off-season….since we didn’t the past couple weeks, we want to make it up to you. As the holiday season approaches, the Red Wings Baseball off-season calendar is starting to fill up – so let’s update you on a bunch of stuff …
* This week we’ll announce details on the perfect gift for every baseball fan on your shopping list: The Red Wings Holiday Pack, with four undated tickets, a t-shirt and a coupon for a 2011 yearbook for just $28. The Holiday Pack t-shirt will feature a cool new logo celebrating the upcoming 15th season of Red Wings Baseball at Frontier Field – and we’ll also be sharing details on that celebration this week, and how YOU can help us select the top moments of those seasons.
*Our annual Holiday Sale on Sat. Nov. 27 will be a great time to snag a Holiday Pack, Voucher Pack, or Season Seats. Spikes and Mittsy will be here for the kids, look for a complete rundown with our Holiday Pack announcement.
* For fans in Ontario County and the eastern Monroe County suburbs, we’re finalizing plans to be at Eastview Mall on a December weekend. We had a great response last year, and we’re looking forward to having a presence again this holiday season.
* On Monday, MiLB.com continues their organization All-Stars series. Milwaukee’s farm system will be the focus tomorrow, with Minnesota slotted for Tuesday. The series honors “the players — regardless of age or prospect status — who had the best seasons in their organization.” The position-by-position look could include RHP Kyle Gibson, who has hurtled up through the organization in one season. He’s already been honored with the Jim Rantz Award as the Twins’ top minor league pitcher of 2010; we won’t be surprised if Kyle makes the MiLB.com list. (I won’t be surprised if he’s our Opening Day starter in Pawtucket April 7.) RHP Anthony Slama, the Wings’ IL All-Star Team closer, is another logical candidate for the list, along with the guy who is a sure thing to be our lead-off hitter April 7: Ben Revere. In fact, if Ben’s not our lead-off hitter April 7 (unless traded, injured or in the big leagues), I will wash Josh Whetzel’s car once a week for two weeks.
*The next two weeks will bring a pair of interesting Wings-related lists to light: the filing of Minnesota’s 40-man roster on Nov. 19, and Baseball America’s Top 10 Prospects in the Minnesota organization on Nov. 23. We’ll clue you in on both when available, be sure to check the News section of RedWingsBaseball.com for updates. Fans of the Wings at Facebook.com/RocRedWings will see an update from us when we add the info to our site.
* Our Hot Stove Report, in the News section of RedWingsBaseball.com, will help you keep track of off-season player moves, free agent signings, winter ball stats and more. Head over there now for an update on Luke Hughes, Allan de San Miguel, and Justin Huber playing in the Australian Baseball League.
We’ll post again here next Friday, and be sure to check out RedWingsBaseball.com and Facebook.com/RocRedWings for complete access to all things Wings. And one more date to keep in mind: Feburary 17, the date pitchers and catchers report to Twins camp in Florida.
With Cliff Lee’s win over the Yankees in Game Three of the ALCS, the Texas Rangers lefthander improved his lifetime postseason record to 7-0 with a 1.26 ERA in 8 all time postseason starts. It’s almost hard to fathom how far Lee has come in just three or four short years.
In 2007, the southpaw from Arkansas was just two years removed from going 18-5 for the Cleveland Indians. However, his fortunes started to slide in 2006, and—after losing four straight starts for the Tribe in the middle of ’07—Cleveland demoted him to Triple A Buffalo to try and straighten him out.
His fourth start for the Bisons after the demotion came August 15 in downtown Buffalo, against a Red Wings team that was playing some good baseball. The Wings struck for three runs in the 2nd inning off Lee and were well on their way to a 10-4 win over the then 28-year-old. Lee’s final line in the game: 5 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 5 BB, 7 SO. What stands out most in that game? The five walks issued by Lee. He was always known as a pitcher with good stuff, but with shaky command at times. Now, Lee is considered one of the best command pitchers in the game. In fact, Lee has not walked as many as five men in a game since then – 108 starts including postseason!
Denard Span had three hits in that game, two off Lee. Denard told us over the weekend that he remembers that game, and the two hits he picked up off Lee. Denard, in his first Triple-A season, saw it as a great learning experience to face a big league pitcher like Lee. “He definitely was a different pitcher in Buffalo than he was when I faced him later in the big leagues. He wasn’t as aggressive and didn’t pound the strike zone like he has been doing the past couple years….probably the reason he was down in Buffalo.”
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Darnell McDonald also had three hits in the game, part of a Rochester lineup that included Matt Tolbert, Garrett Jones, Jose Morales, Lew Ford and Glenn Williams. Check out
I’ve never seen it really explained how he has made such an unbelievable transformation. Without a doubt, however, something clicked for Lee between 2007 and 2008. That next season Lee won the AL Cy Young Award going 22-3 with a 2.54 ERA, and he has turned into maybe the best Big Game Pitcher of his generation. By the way, how much was Lee struggling when the Indians sent him down to Buffalo in 2007? Due to a contract extension he signed before that season, by MLB rules, Lee had to clear waivers before going to the minors. In other words, any other team in baseball could have claimed Lee at that time! 29 other teams in baseball have probably kicked themselves about that in the years since.
-In Lee’s first four seasons as a full-time MLB pitcher (2004-2007), he ranked 87th in terms of fewest BB/9 IP (3.01) among pitchers with 300 total innings or more. Over his last three seasons…Lee ranks 2nd on that list (1.28) behind only Roy Halladay (1.27).
-During that same time span (2008-2010), three former Red Wings rank in the top 14 in fewest BB/9 IP. Kevin Slowey is 3rd (1.50), Nick Blackburn is 7th (1.93) and Scott Baker is 14th (2.21).
-Aside from the numerous former Red Wings with Minnesota this season, others with Red Wings ties played in the 2010 Major League Baseball Postseason. Three key members of the Tampa Bay Rays (Jason Bartlett, Matt Garza and Grant Balfour) are former Wings. Although he was not on the playoff roster, Cincinnati used former Wings catcher Corky Miller at times behind the plate this year. Former Wing Randy Ready is a coach on the San Diego Padres coaching staff. Two former Wings are in uniform for the San Francisco Giants. Catcher Eli Whiteside (although he is not on the playoff roster) and outfielder Andres Torres, who had a tremendous season for the Giants, finished fourth in the NL in doubles (43). Finally, although no Texas Rangers players are former Red Wings, four of their staff members are. The head man—manager Ron Washington—spent much of 1987 with the Red Wings. Special Assignment Coach Jerry Narron is a former Red Wings player and manager. Additionally, the two Rangers athletic trainers—Jamie Reed and Kevin Harmon—are both former Red Wings trainers. Former Wings skipper John Hart is the Senior Advisor, Baseball Operations and Brighton’s Josh Lewin – who began his broadcasting career with the Wings – just completed his ninth season as TV play-by-play announcer in Texas.
Since 1992, top Minor League prospects have been heading west to the Arizona Fall League. Seven Twins prospects will be playing for the Peoria Saguaros beginning on Tuesday, Oct. 12; for the first time in recent history, all of the Twins’ AFL players have either appeared in a Wings uniform, or are logical candidates to play here next season. Red Wings broadcaster Josh Whetzel provides details on the prospects:
David Bromberg—The 23-year-old RHP was promoted to Rochester in mid-July once Ryan Mullins was lost to a season-ending back injury, and he acquainted himself well in his first exposure to Triple-A hitters. Bromberg was just 1-4 in his 9 Red Wings starts, but compiled a solid ERA of 3.98 with a very good WHIP (walks+hits per innings) of 1.15. The 2009 Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Year, Bromberg has shown the ability to strike out hitters in his young career having already led his league in Ks twice. He fanned 47 hitters in his 52 innings for the Wings last year. Look for him to be a real workhorse for the 2011 Red Wings staff.
Carlos Gutierrez—The Twins 1st round pick in 2008, Gutierrez joined the Red Wings for the last homestand of 2010 (0-0, 2.25 ERA) after spending the rest of the season as both a starter and reliever for Double-A New Britain. Overall with the Rock Cats, the 24-year-old RHP was 5-8 with a 4.57 ERA. His ERA was 3.58 in 16 appearances in relief, however, after moving into the ‘pen midseason. The hard thrower from the University of Miami does a great job of inducing groundballs and could be in the Red Wings bullpen plans to start 2011.
Tyler Robertson—The big lefty won’t turn 23 until December and made his Triple-A debut for the Red Wings in a spot start in May, suffering a hard-luck loss. Robertson spent almost the entire season at Double-A New Britain, going 4-13 with a 5.41 ERA as a starter. The Twins apparently plan on having Robertson pitch in the bullpen while in Arizona, viewing him as a possible southpaw reliever at the Major League level. It will be his first time working as a reliever, but—if he takes to it well—he could be in the Wings relief mix to begin next season.
Kyle Waldrop Waldrop will be the only Twins player in Arizona that spent all of 2010 with the Red Wings. The RHP was the last pitcher to make the Red Wings out of spring training, but quickly established himself as one of the best middle relievers in the IL while in only his second season as a relief pitcher. The former Twins 1st round pick has a terrific sinker and posted a sub-2.00 ERA much of the season before ending the year with a 2.57 mark. If he doesn’t make the Twins out of spring training next year, Waldrop figures to once again be one of the best at his role in the IL and should have a great chance at making his Major League debut at some point in 2011.
Joe Benson—The Twins named Benson their 2010 Minor League Player of the Year after hitting an organization leading 27 HRs. It was a breakthrough season for Benson although it didn’t come without adversity. After a slow start at Double-A New Britain, the Twins sent Benson back to Class A Fort Myers in mid-May and had him spend about a month with the Miracle. Upon his return to Double-A in June, the Twins 2nd round pick in 2006 took off while hitting more than 5x as many HR as his previous career high. A great athlete who could have been a Division One running back, Benson also stole 19 total bases while playing excellent outfield defense. The Chicago-area native should have a shot at making the Red Wings in spring training next year.
Chris Parmelee—Like Benson, Parmelee started the year in Double A before a brief demotion to Class A. Also—like Benson—Parmelee came back to New Britain to put together some good numbers with the Rock Cats hitting .275 with 25 doubles and 6 HR in 111 games. The lefty hitter plays both 1st base and OF and was the Twins 1st pick in 2006 out of his HS in California. Parmelee is a rarity in that this will be a return engagement to the AFL for him, having also played there last fall. He will just be turning 23 next spring and should have a great chance to make his Triple-A debut in 2011.
Ben Revere—A two-time league batting champ and a former Twins Minor League Player of the Year, Revere had trouble staying healthy in 2010. His most serious injury occurred when he was beaned late in the season, breaking his orbital bone. Initially, Revere was expected to miss the rest of the season but recovered in time to finish the season with Double-A New Britain and get promoted to Minnesota for September. His .305 batting average led all Twins full season minor league players while his 36 stolen bases were the most in the system as well. Revere figures to man an outfield spot for the Wings to begin 2011.
The Peoria team will be managed by long-time big league catcher Ted Simmons. Red Wings hitting coach Floyd Rayford will serve as the hitting coach with Charlotte pitching coach Richard Dotson tutoring the pitchers. Check the News section of our website for coverage during the AFL season.
As the Twins try to keep their season alive in New York, and those seven future Wings get ready to start playing in the AFL on Tuesday, we also say goodbye to a good friend and valuable member of the Red Wings front office. Today was Director of Game Day Production Jeff Coltoniak’s final day with us; Jeff has accepted a position with the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets.
While his name may not be one of the more recognizable on our staff, fans at Frontier and on RedWingsBaseball.com know who Jeff is by extention of his prolific, artistic output: every piece of video board content, website video, fan appreciation and player feature video, TWCS TV game and “Red Wings Insider” episode, and Clubhouse Clip has been created or directed by Jeff. In addition to his many talents, Jeff is one the most genuinely nicest people I have met in my 10 years with the Wings.
I could go on about his prolific fast food binges (Taco Bell and Arby’s back to back for lunch on the same day), his zen-like approach to folding t-shirts at TwinsFest, his respectful reverence when having lunch with wrestling legend Mick Foley, his “down home” back-up singing vocals, or the immense personal pride he must have felt while shooting the video of Jimmy strutting down Main Street in broad daylight…but instead I will say best of luck to Jeff and Meg, and thanks for being part of the team.
Jeff (the guy with the camera), with Jason Pridie and Rob Dermody, Twinsfest 2009.
Well, it has been awhile—-too long in fact—but I am back with another blog entry while watching it sprinkle in Allentown. The Wings meet the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs for the final time tonight and need a win to take the season series. Cole DeVries—up from New Britain—makes his 1st Triple A start replacing the promoted Nick Blackburn.
The Wings have 15 games left counting tonight and need to go at least 7-8 to avoid becoming the 1st Red Wings team since 1945 to lose 90 games in a season. Since 1979, only two IL teams have lost 90 games: the 1985 Pawtucket Red Sox (48-91) and the 2000 Richmond Braves (51-92). That 1945 Red Wings team went 64-90 and was managed by Hall of Famer Burleigh Grimes. Grimes is famous for being the last “legal” spitballer. For more on Grimes, check out this.
The Wings currently have a winning percentage of .372. That is nowhere near the worst in Rochester history. The 1920 Rochester Hustlers, for example, went only 45-106 for a .298 winning percentage. The manager of that team was named Arthur Irwin who committed suicide the next year when he jumped off a boat sailing between New York and Boston. He apparently led a double life which included complete families in two cities. Seriously. Here is more. Here is the good news…the Rochester bunch won 100 games in 1921 under George Stallings and were on their way to a great run.
On the flip side of the Wings, the Durham Bulls are still on pace to win 90 games. The Bulls recently clinched their fourth straight IL South title. If they do win 90, they will be the first team to win 90 in the IL since Scranton/Wilkes-Barre went 91-53 in 2002.
Happy Birthday Wishes today to a couple of former Red Wings…Wings Hall of Famer Jeff Manto is 46 today and Ed Barnowski turns 67. You can make a good argument that Barnowski should be in the Wings Hall of Fame too since he not only pitched for the Wings but was later the team General Manager.
Hope to see you out at Frontier Field before the season is over. Only eight more home games left with some great promotion still on the calender. Make sure you head to www.RedWingsBaseball.com for all the latest.
Keep your fingers crossed for the weather tonight in Allentown.
The Baseball Hall of Fame inducted another class of deserving recipients yesterday, and Red Wings manager Tom Nieto knew all three.
Whitey Herzog was Nieto’s first Major League manager when he got called up to St. Louis in 1984. Whitey put Tom right into the Redbirds starting lineup his first day in the Majors even though he had caught the night before for Louisville. After the game, Whitey gave Nieto a memento from his first big league game. “
“He gave me the official card that he gave the umpires. I guess he had put his coffee cup down on it because it had a nice coffee ring on it. I still have it framed in my sports room in Florida and it still has his signature and coffee ring on it.”
Even though Nieto was just a rookie, Herzog treated him with respect. “He always made you feel at ease as a manager. He treated everybody the same. He treated the #25 guy the same way he treated the #1 guy.”
Nieto later was briefly a teammate of Andre Dawson’s with the Expos and competed against him in the National League. “He was a warrior,” says Nieto. “He had those bad knees but he showed up ready to play everyday and never complained.” Nieto added that “Hawk” had the best arm he’d ever seen. “They say Ellis Valentine had a cannon, but Hawk had the best arm of anybody I ever played with or against.”
Umpire Doug Harvey was inducted into the Hall of Fame also, and Nieto says that Harvey’s personality stood out to him. “He was such a nice guy. You could actually talk to him about pitches.”
Nieto says that some umpires can actually be intimidating to a young catcher, but Harvey was such a good guy that he wasn’t intimidating. He did say that an umpire intimidated him in the first game he ever caught in the American League. Who was the umpire? None other than Rochester’s own…Ken Kaiser!
Former Seattle and Yankees reliever Jeff Nelson was at Frontier Field signing autographs last night. He was on four World Series title teams with the Yankees and is second among all pitchers in postseason appearances behind only Mariano Rivera. (In 798 regular season appearances, Nelson never made one start. Question: who has the record for most MLB appearances without ever starting a game? Answer later.)
Wings pitching coach Bobby Cuellar was Nelson pitching coach in both the minors and the majors with Seattle. Here is what “Nellie” has to say about Bobby: “Hopefully these guys listen to him. He works his butt off and he knows what he’s doing. What an asset. I loved him. The only thing that’s changed is he has more gray hair. He told me today ‘There’s a few of them from you.’”
Nelson, who does some broadcasting work now, says he thinks his former Seattle manager Lou Pinella will resurface as a big league manager again…even though Pinella says he is retiring after this season. “Some of the old school managers like Lou are going away,” says Nelson. “I’d love to see him continue. He really helped me when I went to New York. Since Lou had played in New York, he had that intensity when he was our manager in Seattle…and that really helped me when I first joined the Yankees.”
18 time All Star and 7 time batting champ Rod Carew will be signing autographs tonight at Frontier Field. It’s not often that a Hall of Famer makes an appearance at Frontier Field so make sure you get out tonight to pick up Carew’s signature!
The Wings are nearing the All Star Break with just six games left before the three day intermission. You still have four chances to catch the Wings at home before the break with two games left against Scranton/Wilkes Barre on this homestand, and then games Saturday and Sunday vs. Buffalo.
The Red Wings, of course, landed two players on the Triple A All Star Game roster….Anthony Slama and Dustin Martin (whose HR last night gave him 53 RBIs on the season to match his total from 2009.)
Two former Red Wings were selected for the Major League All Star Game (three if you can one-time injury rehabber Joe Mauer.) First baseman Justin Morneau was named to his fourth American League squad while left-hander Arthur Rhodes at 40-years-old just made his first All Star Game after getting picked for the National League. Rhodes is having a phenomenal season for the Reds compiling a 1.06 ERA in 38 relief appearances. Arthur—who spent parts of five seasons with the Wings—is the fifth 40-year-old to be a 1st time All Star joining Satchel Paige, Connie Marrero, Jamie Moyer and Tim Wakefield. Check out this story concerning Rhodes selection.
Since we are nearing the All Star Break, I thought we would check in with how a few former Red Wings are doing…
-Steven Tolleson was claimed off waivers this past offseason by the Athletics and has spent much of this season playing SS for their Triple A affiliate in Sacramento (with a brief taste of the big leagues). Steven is hitting .328 with 6 HR and 27 RBIs for the River Cats.
-Former Wings OF/1B Doug Deeds is playing well for Arizona’s Triple A team in Reno, NV. Doug is hitting .301 with 6 HR and 30 RBIs with a .394 OBP for the Aces.
-RHP Jason Jones spent last year in the Wings rotation and looked like a possibility for this year’s staff before he was released in spring training. He latched on with the Nationals and started with their Double A team in Harrisburg before a promotion to Syracuse. He has made three starts for Syracuse and nearly threw a perfect game in his last start vs. Lehigh Valley! The story is here.
-OF Trent Oeltjen just took advantage of an out clause in his contract with the Brewers. Trent, who played some in the bigs last year for Arizona, was hitting .301 with 8 HR and 38 RBI to go along with 12 steals for Nashville.
-In the Far East, Justin Huber is hitting just .184 with 5 HR in 40 games for Hiroshima in Japan.
In other news, former Wings infielder Sergio Santos picked up his first career MLB save for the White Sox last night. It is amazing to think that only two years ago Sergio was the Wings regular shortstop much of the season. Sergio and Anthony Slama were high school teammates in Santa Ana, California.
Also, our own Joe Altobelli had his Florida State League hitting streak record broken by Clearwater second baseman Harold Garcia. Joe hit safely in 36 straight games for Daytona in 1951 when he was only 18-years-old and the record had stood ever since. Garcia’s streak ended yesterday after he hit safely in 37 straight games. “Alto” took it in stride. He has even mailed Garcia a congratulatory letter which comes as no surprise from the classy former Red Wings player, manager, GM and broadcaster.
That’s all for now. Hope you enjoy our broadcasts on 1280 WHTK and FM 107.3 Rochester Sports Talk. You can also listen online at www.whtk.com.