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2008 Erie Seawolves Diary

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To start off this year's Diary/blog,

here is the Seawolves spring training game schedule:

March 15 at Cleveland (Winterhaven)

March 16 at Atlanta (Disney)

March 17 vs. Houston (Lakeland)

March 19 vs. Atlanta (Disney)

March 20 vs. Cleveland (Lakeland)

March 21 at Atlanta (Disney)

March 22 at Cleveland (Winterhaven)

March 24 vs. Cleveland (Lakeland)

March 25 vs. Houston (Lakeland)

March 26 at Houston (Kissimmee)

March 28 at Cleveland (Winterhaven)

March 29 vs. Cleveland (Lakeland)

http://www.seawolves.com/seawolves-news/2008/02/spring-training-2008

Toledo's spring schedule is the same.

Should be an interesting season.

Who do you think will be on the 'Wolves this year and how will they do?

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My 2008 roster projection:

SP Bonine, Connolly, Gerbe, French, Aponte?

BP Righter, Rusch, Zell, Tomey, Finigan, Wise, Dolsi, Perez

C Ryan, Kunkel

IF Robertson, Rhymes, Worth, Leon, Dlugach, Haske

OF Ramirez, Scram, Justice, Perry

That's 25 and I believe they start out at 24 and then go to 23 after a month. One or two relievers will be cut, promoted or demoted.

I see this team as a 500 club at best.

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I'm assuming you have Trzesniak, St. Pierre, Cotto, McIntyre, Kirkland, Almonte, Joyce, Thomas, Kown, Johnson, Cedeno, Ostlund, and Beltran all in Toledo or released?

Of your list, I currently don't project Aponte, Tomey, Wise, Gerbe, Ryan, Kunkel, Worth, Leon, Haske, Perry, Justice, or Scram to be there.

I've got Cedeno and Perez as possible cuts, and guys like Ostlund and Righter as possibles as well, though less likely; all of which could open up slots for the likes of Wise, Gerbe, Tomey, etc.

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I'm assuming you have Trzesniak, St. Pierre, Cotto, McIntyre, Kirkland, Almonte, Joyce, Thomas, Kown, Johnson, Cedeno, Ostlund, and Beltran all in Toledo or released?

Of your list, I currently don't project Aponte, Tomey, Wise, Gerbe, Ryan, Kunkel, Worth, Leon, Haske, Perry, Justice, or Scram to be there.

I've got Cedeno and Perez as possible cuts, and guys like Ostlund and Righter as possibles as well, though less likely; all of which could open up slots for the likes of Wise, Gerbe, Tomey, etc.

Trzesniak was my "floater" between AAA and AA. The main reason i have Ryan and Kunkel at AA is I don't want them taking time away from Skelton in Lakeland.

If St. Pierre is converted to a pitcher, I cannot see him debuting in AA.

Cotto I had at AAA or released. He could also be at AA if Melian is either released or moves up to AAA.

I have McIntyre as a reserve IF for Toledo.

I know it is a longshot but I have Kirkland being released with Hessman at 3B and Larish at 1B at AAA.

I have Thomas and Joyce at AAA with the idea of them moving up but apparently most others disagree.

I missed Kown and Ostlund on my "hen scratched list". They should be there with Aponte and Wise being at Lakeland.

The other relievers I have at AAA but it seems that several relievers will be cut this spring.

In the past, many draftees were out of the system in a year or two. I am not sure if the talent level has increased but we do have a lot of players who are now in year three or four.

Naturally, I would love to hear from Micro and others on the players but also want some input on how the Tigers (should) approach minor league cuts going into the season. For example, we have a bunch of relievers. Do you keep them based up an evaluation of how they could eventually help the Tigers or do you base it on how they could help Toledo, Erie, lakeland, etc. this year?

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http://www.minorleaguebaseball.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080210&content_id=346468&vkey=news_milb&fext=.jsp

Questioning Authority with Tom Brookens

Former Tiger working his way through system again -- as skipper

By Michael Echan / Special to MLB.com

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After leading West Michigan to a second straight title, Tom Brookens was promoted to Erie. (Emily Smith/MLB.com)

There are thousands of Minor Leaguers trying to make it to the Majors, and who better to show them the way than former big-league stars and journeymen? Each week, MiLB.com talks with a Major Leaguer-turned-Minor League manager or coach to get his unique take on life down on the farm.

Questioning Authority archive ¬ February 22, 2008 - Tom Brookens February 19, 2008 - Pat Listach February 15, 2008 - Rick Burleson February 12, 2008 - Jim Morrison February 8, 2008 - Dave Clark February 5, 2008 - Luis Pujols January 31, 2008 - Ryne Sandberg March 12, 2007 - Darnell Coles March 5, 2007 - Bob Milacki February 26, 2007 - Mike Easler February 20, 2007 - Scott McGregor February 12, 2007 - Tim Raines February 5, 2007 - Mike Harkey January 22, 2007 - Torey Lovullo January 15, 2007 - Tommy Herr January 8, 2007 - Larry Parrish

Tom Brookens has become a hot coaching commodity in the Detroit Tigers' system. After guiding the West Michigan Whitecaps to their second Midwest League championship in a row and third in the past four years, the Tigers promoted the fourth overall pick in the 1975 First-Year Player Draft to the Double-A Erie SeaWolves of the Eastern League.

The 54-year-old Pennsylvania native spent the first five years of his 16-year playing career in Detroit's system, making stops at Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Evansville before his Major League debut in 1979. Brookens primarily manned third base for Detroit, occasionally spelling Alan Trammell at shortstop and Lou Whitaker at second base, and was part of the team that beat the San Diego Padres in the 1984 World Series. Brookens called it a career in 1990 after final seasons with the New York Yankees and the Cleveland Indians. Brookens hit .246 with 71 home runs, 40 triples, 175 doubles and 431 RBIs over his 12 seasons in the Majors.

Minorleaguebaseball.com: What do you remember most about your first time around in the Minor Leagues?

Tom Brookens: The one thing you never forget is your first game. For me, that was back in 1975 when I was playing for Montgomery in the Southern League. I remember it was against Savannah down at their place in Georgia. I grounded out to first in my first at-bat. Things like that you never forget.

MiLB.com: Are things drastically different in the Minors from when you were a player?

TB: If you're talking about between the lines, I would have to say no. The game, essentially, is the same as it was. The Minor Leagues have made leaps and bounds over the years, though. It's not just all about player development any more, surviving on shoe-string budgets, playing in old stadiums, really tough bus rides and having small crowds. Now you see a lot more people in the stands and much better facilities. Not just for the players, but the buildings are more family-friendly too.

MiLB.com: What is your favorite story to tell from your playing days in the Minors?

TB: You see this all the time where the old coach or manager tells a story that's so "out there" that the players think the whole thing is made up. I get that a lot with this story. I'm not sure what the year was, but when I was playing in the Southern League, our bus drove into Charlotte, N.C. to play the Orioles' affiliate there. The only thing was that when we pulled into the hotel, we found out that the thing had burned down over a week ago! I take one look and tell my teammates: 'We better play pretty good this week. This team's so hot, they're burning everything up!' Nowadays, you'd never have a situation like that because everyone would know about that the day it happened, but back then, there was no way to communicate it.

MiLB.com: How have your former big-league teammates reacted to you being a coach? Did it surprise them?

TB: I don't think any of them were very surprised. If you asked me if I would have been surprised if any of my teammates got into coaching, I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't have been and the same could probably be said for them about me. When you're in the game for as long as I have, it gets to you. It gets in your blood.

MiLB.com: Do many of your players know that you were once a Major Leaguer and even won a World Series?

TB: A lot of them have at least an idea about my past since they can look up pretty much anything on their computers. Plus, when I get to Erie, I'll probably see a couple of kids I had back at West Michigan.

MiLB.com: How much do you learn from your players? Do they keep you up-to-date with what's going on in pop culture?

TB: Oh, I'm always learning from them. They're in the clubhouse playing their music and video games. I come in and ask what the name of the band is, they tell me, and I scratch my head trying to figure out what that is. I have three daughters (all in their mid-20s), so they kind of prepare me for dealing with guys of the same age. Still, I'm the old geezer in the clubhouse and in the front of the bus. Back when I played and listened to my tape cassette player and headphones, my managers took a look at me and shook their heads, wondering what kind of crap I was listening to with these new-fangled things.

MiLB.com: How do the fans react to you? Do many of them remember you from your playing days?

TB: Yes, quite a few of them do. This was especially true last year in Grand Rapids (West Michigan). I played 10 years with Detroit, and (West Michigan) is right in the Tigers' backyard. Now as I go to Erie, I suspect it's more in Pittsburgh's fan base, but I've always been greeted nicely by the fans.

MiLB.com: What cities do you enjoy visiting the most?

TB: The neat thing about being in the Minor Leagues is that you're able to visit these neat little towns and cities that in almost any other situation, you'd never have a chance to see. When I first started in the New York-Penn League, it took me all over the Northeast, then I went to the Midwest League last year. Now I'm in the Eastern League, and I'm sure there are going to be some nice places to see around there too.

MiLB.com: What's the toughest part of the job?

TB: Without a doubt, the toughest thing is having to call in a player and tell him that he's been released. That's something I never liked doing and never will like doing. Sometimes they can see it coming: they aren't playing too much any more, they're not performing well on the field. But other times, it comes right out of the blue. It's something that you really have to prepare yourself to do, and it's part of the job I wish I didn't have to do.

MiLB.com: Do you have your own bobblehead? Do you like it?

TB: Why yes, I do! I really liked it when they came out with one of me a few years ago. Heck, once you got your own bobblehead, that's the pinnacle of your career. I was ready to announce my retirement (and) the day before I was going to do it, I was talking with one of my friends. He said: 'Tom, the new thing now is getting your own Fathead (poster). You know you've really made it when you get your own Fathead.' So I don't think I'm going to stop until I get my very own Fathead!

Michael Echan is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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Nate, a few more candidates for Erie: Rainwater, Christensen, Witt, Moreno, Graham and Middleton. My list of candidates for unknown where they play or are released: O'Brien, Sleeth, Piccola, Hammond, Beltran, Perez, Tomey, Gagnier, Sborz, Darrow, Hess, Chestnut, Gil, Homer, Clelland, Mahoney, Ostlund, Kunkel, Casanova, Harrigan, Lehrman, Maddox, Tucker, Lamont, Linares, McIntyre, Haske, Patino, Harryman, McBratney, Seawell and Maples. I believe Finigan and Dlugach will be DL at beginning of year.

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As of right now....here's my projected Erie roster....

C - Nick Trzesniak

C - Max St. Pierre

1B - Pedro Cotto

1B - Ryan Roberson

2B - Will Rhymes

SS - Erick Almonte

3B - Kody Kirkland

UT - Nick McIntyre

OF - Wilkin Ramirez

OF - Clete Thomas

OF - Matt Joyce

OF - Jackson Melian

SP - Luke French

SP - Jon Connolly

SP - Andrew Kown

SP - Eddie Bonine

SP - Jeremy Johnson

RP - PJ Finigan

RP - Freddi Dolsi

RP - Danny Zell

RP - Matt Righter

RP - Juan Cedeno

RP - Marcelo Perez

RP - Ian Ostlund

DL - Brent Dlugach

Those players in orange have a tenuous grab on jobs in my view/understanding....meaning they are on the bubble for cuts. Those in red are in serious jeopardy of being cut at some point this spring.

Other position player candidates at Erie....Deik Scram could fit in the outfield mix with a strong spring that builds off his 2007 season. Derek Wathan could factor into the shortstop job if the organization doesn't want Almonte at Erie.

Other pitchers factoring into the mix.....Armando Galarraga could work in either the Erie or Toledo rotation, this will depend on the status of Connolly and Johnson, and whehter Christensen remains in the rotation. Brendan Wise and Jeff Gerbe have strong cases for the Erie bullpen off of last year's performance...if Cedeno or Perez are cut, these guys are likely the first in line. Sleeth and Homer are both in serious jeopardy of being cut, but will likely work out with both the AA and High-A groups for the bulk of the spring. Anthony Tomey is tenuous but should be able to finagle a spot in Erie in some fashion.

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They'd probably do a decent enough job at preventing runs, but they wouldn't score much unless Wilkin and Clete both took big leaps forward to help the offense....

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Some questions:

Wasn't St. Pierre going to try his hand as a reliever?

Johnson has pitched well as a reliever in AAA last year. Other that organizational filler, what would be the purpose of him starting in AA?

Is it the best interest of Joyce, Thomas and Justice (still at Lakeland) to repeat at the same level?

With Almonte at Erie, how does SS stack up in A ball with the likes of Worth, Iorg and Ciriaco? Would keeping them in the same level hurt someone like Sizemore from advancing?

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Some questions:

Wasn't St. Pierre going to try his hand as a reliever?

Last season when St. Pierre was with the Brewers organization, they tried to convert him to a pitcher. However when Detroit picked him up again it was to catch. He was invited to Major League Spring Training as a catcher. I saw a picture somewhere (maybe one of HueyTaxi's) with St. Pierre standing with the likes of Dusty Ryan, James Skelton, Pudge, Inge, etc...

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Pierre had some fun on the mound last year....I've been told nothing that indicates the same will happen this year. He is a catcher.

Johnson is exactly that....he's organizational filler. He has the ability to eat innings with reasoable quality....something that is going to be sorely needed at AA....and the bullpen is likely packed at AAA already. He could certainly end up there, but right now, I've got him penciled in at Erie on the basis of a few comments and my understanding of the situation.

First off...what exactly did Justice do to warrant a promotion to Erie? He was barely able to hold his own at Lakeland for the better part of last year, let alone handle AA in 2008. While Joyce and Thomas could both likely perform at Toledo...the difference in development gained between AA and AAA is negligible in my eyes....particularly for a hitter. With Clevlen, Perry, Timo, and potentially Guzman or Melian in Toledo....where exactly is there room for the two of them? If one of the above are let go, injured, etc., then Clete and Joyce are first in line to move up.

I've currently got both Cosme and Mateo as 'reds' at Toledo, meaning there is a strong likelihood that Almonte could end up there....he could also work as a DH-type at Erie, allowing Worth to perform at short there. Ciriaco and Iorg both have to prove they are ready for Lakeland in order to advance past West Michigan....both have about an equal shot of debuting in High-A. I don't think keeping either at the same level would hinder Sizemore in any way....as I don't see him sniffing shortstop this year unless something unforeseen happens.

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Early reports I had (before spring training had officially started) had him starting the year on the DL for a short time.....but I've got inquiries in to get an update on that now...

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.... Ciriaco and Iorg both have to prove they are ready for Lakeland in order to advance past West Michigan....both have about an equal shot of debuting in High-A...

Is it within the realm of possibilities both could make it to Lakeland... and share SS and 3B duties?

Just thought I'd ask...

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Perry is no longer in the organization.

We now have Clevlen, Timo, Guzman and Raburn who may make up the OF in Toledo, pending what the hell the Tigers do with super sub Inge. They don't need or would probably keep Raburn in Comerica if they aren't able to trade or otherwise dispose of Inge. Then, this does leave both Joyce and Thomas to Erie, despite the quick mention in this article today:

http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080222/SPORTS02/80222038/1048/sports

For the development of Joyce and Thomas, I think AAA would be best to keep them with Hollimon and Larish, but, AA is a high quality and challenging enough.................

not sure Justice deserves a promotion. The OF of Wilkin, Thomas and Joyce will probably be the OF in Erie.

Dlugach will NOT be ready until mid year at best!

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Perry is no longer in the organization.

We now have Clevlen, Timo, Guzman and Raburn who may make up the OF in Toledo, pending what the hell the Tigers do with super sub Inge. They don't need or would probably keep Raburn in Comerica if they aren't able to trade or otherwise dispose of Inge. Then, this does leave both Joyce and Thomas to Erie, despite the quick mention in this article today:

http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080222/SPORTS02/80222038/1048/sports

For the development of Joyce and Thomas, I think AAA would be best to keep them with Hollimon and Larish, but, AA is a high quality and challenging enough.................

not sure Justice deserves a promotion. The OF of Wilkin, Thomas and Joyce will probably be the OF in Erie.

Dlugach will NOT be ready until mid year at best!

I see Clete and Matt spending time together, and had Mike yell HELLO as Clete took the field with him today.

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It happened shortly after the season was over..........................

He signed with another organization.....I read it in Baseball America sometime in Oct or Nov, but, can't find it now. Not sure which organization, but, he's a gonner!

Here's the deal with OF situation at the upper levels.

Surely, the Tigers will keep OF's:

Grandy

Magglio

Jones

Thames

Sheffield

what about :

Raburn

Guzman (for the LIFE of me I can't understand THIS signing)

Timo

Clevlen

Joyce

Thomas

AA-

Wilkin for sure

I can't see the Tigers keeping on the 25 man both Raburn and Guzman and maybe neither. With the roster including Santiago, Inge, Wilson -- I just don't see them keeping another OF in Detroit to begin the season UNLESS somehow Raburn makes it as another utility player.

What do you guys think ?

I sincerely don't see Joyce and Clete going to AAA, not enough room.

Unless somehow they cut Guzman and keep Raburn in Detroit.

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It happened shortly after the season was over..........................

He signed with another organization.....I read it in Baseball America sometime in Oct or Nov, but, can't find it now. Not sure which organization, but, he's a gonner!

I don't think that's true. I've been following pretty closely all offseason and haven't seen that.

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o.K..........

I do KNOW I read this. But, tell me this--

He's NOT on the 40-man and he was NOT one of the 21 non-rostered spring training invitees.

So, where is he?

I promise you, he's with another team, but, I can't find out which.

What can we find out?

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