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January 25, 2007 – Ask Ashmore Day January 25, 2007

Posted by atlanticleaguenews in Uncategorized.
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Ask Ashmore Day: Yes kids, it’s your chance to ask yours truly anything you want. Leave your questions in the comments section, and I’ll take some time during the day to answer them as best I can.

It can be Atlantic League related, or one of you can even try to interview me if you so choose, asking me about all of the glorious moments of my career (ha).

Such Is Life In Camden: The official announcement will be made tomorrow, but atlanticleaguebaseball.com will be the first place to tell you that the Camden Riversharks have signed Dick Such to be their pitching coach for the 2007 season.

Such, who spent the 2006 season with the Ducks, apparently just signed the deal today.

Are The Surf Playing Ball?: While rumors have persisted all off-season that Jeff Ball would be out as the manager of the Atlantic City Surf, the whispers became much louder over recent days, with one reliable source even reporting that Ball had been replaced.

If that’s the case, it’s news to Ball.

“Not to pat myself on the back, but I feel like I’ve done a hell of a job here,” he said.

And he’s absolutely right.

He was the Atlantic League Manager of the Year in his managerial debut in 2004, and arguably should have won the award again in 2006.

All in all, he’s 220-171 as manager of the Surf, a franchise which has long struggled with budgetary restrictions. While it’s painfully clear that Ball has a future in affiliated baseball if he so chooses, it now seems as though he’ll have a hard time hanging on to a Can-Am League job. But could the Atlantic League remain in his future?

Several positions remain open in the league, and Ball has had discussions with several league officials who told him they’ll “keep him in mind.”

One of the officials Ball has spoken with is Jon Danos, president of the Lancaster Barnstormers, who currently have a hitting coach position open.

While Ball says he hasn’t specifically spoken to Danos or anyone regarding that specific job, he’d be very willing to discuss the position, although he would miss managing.

If things don’t work out for Ball in what he described as an unpredictable off-season for him, which would be beyond ridiculous by the way, he’s recently opened a baseball academy in southern New Jersey, and plans to have a showcase for high school and college talent in May.

To be fair, I’ve also contacted the Surf to see their position on the matter, and would hope to speak to Surf owner Mark Schuster about it as well.

UPDATE: 3PM, I just got off the phone with a member of the Surf front office, and their position is that Jeff Ball is undoubtedly the manager of the team for 2007.

Not to discredit that, but I’m still awaiting word from Mark Schuster on the matter, because that seems to be where the buck stops on the issue. If he tells me without a shadow of a doubt that Ball is the guy in 2007, then I’ll consider the issue a dead one.

Bears Sign Big League Blood: (PR) NEWARK , NJ – January 24, 2007 – The Newark Bears Professional Baseball Club announced today they have acquired outfielder Joey Gomes from the New Jersey Jackals of the Canadian American League for future considerations.

Gomes, brother of Tampa Bay Devil Rays outfielder Johnny Gomes , will be entering his sixth professional season after being drafted by the Devil Rays in the eighth round of the 2002 draft. In 2004, Gomes reached the double-A level with Montgomery of the Southern League and finished that season batting .270 with 12 runs scored and seven doubles. While playing for Visalia of the California League in 2005, Gomes ranked second in the league with 172 hits, third in games played with 133, and fourth with a .325 batting average, all setting career highs.

Gomes began the 2006 season with Mobile of the Southern League before finishing with the Jackals. In 25 games with Mobile, he hit .279 scoring 11 runs with 11 RBI. With the Jackals, the former New York Penn League All-Star batted .262 in 29 games with nine doubles, one triple, two home runs, and drove in 15 runs.

Bobby Jones Article: Bobby Jones, formerly of the Newark Bears, is now giving pitching lessons according to this Star-Ledger article.

King Of The Hill: From the things I knew but forgot to report department, Bears P Jeremy Hill has signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Jose’s Versus Joes: Jose Canseco will be on the second season of Pros vs. Joes on the SPIKE channel. You may remember John Rocker, everyone’s favorite Duck, was on season one. It starts tonight the 25th at 10 eastern.

Hackman Signs: According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Luther Hackman, has been signed by Milwaukee and invited to Spring Training. Hackman was quite effective for Bridgeport last year, taking a no-hitter deep into a game in Somerset.

Pats Coach Makes Good: Doug Radziewicz, former interim hitting coach for Somerset, has been named a coach at Western Illinois. – Mike Ashmore, mashmore@patriotsbaseball.com

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Comments»

1. SouthernALFan - January 25, 2007

Anyone can scout the AP Wire… I know this. I am simply posting these numerous Indy transactions to make a point. The AL is bush. They NEED to publish their transactions if they are a real league.

American Association
EL PASO DIABLOS-Agreed to terms with LHP Jacoby Marshall.

FORT WORTH CATS-Agreed to terms with OF Carlos Adolfo.

SHREVEPORT SPORTS-Agreed to terms with INF-C Mick Kurhan.

SIOUX FALLS CANARIES-Agreed to terms with OF Will Smith. Acquired RHP Jerrod Fuell from Winnipeg of the Northern League for cash.

Can-Am League
NASHUA PRIDE-Agreed to terms with RHP Akiro Okamoto.

QUEBEC CAPITALES-Acquired OF Mike Galloway from Evansville of the Frontier League for a player to be named.

Frontier League
GATEWAY GRIZZLIES-Agreed to terms with OF Joe Meador, OF Daniel Sellers, RHP Erik Dessau and RHP Anthony Rebyanski.

KALAMAZOO KINGS-Announced the retirement of INF Adam Leavitt. Released INF-OF Jared Johnson, INF John Wolff, RHP Robert Eli Rose and RHP Steven Squires.

RIVER CITY RASCALS-Agreed to terms with INF-OF Brad Hough and LHP Bryan Hansen.

WINDY CITY THUNDERBOLTS-Agreed to terms with INF Dusty Bensko.

Northern League
GARY SOUTHSHORE RAILCATS-Agreed to terms with LHP Brad Mumma.

2. KenD - January 25, 2007

I don’t think you can judge the quality of a league by its web site. However, of all the indy’s the AtL has the worst. The American Association is arguably the best.

3. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 25, 2007

There’s honestly not as much going on as you may think, however.

Of all the independent leagues, the Atlantic League is going to have the biggest delay into the calendar year as far agreeing to terms with players goes.

Due to being the premier indy league in the country, the league is able to shoot for a lot of players who are candidates to sign with organizations, and a lot of players won’t sign with an Atlantic League team unless it’s a last resort.

While teams have signed premier players early — you may remember the Ducks signed Erick Almonte very early in the 2006 signing season — most signings aren’t made officials for another two weeks or so.

The Bears are the only team to make an effort to change their approach, making three transactions with other independent league teams in order to keep their name out there.

Obviously there are the players you know are coming back each year for each team in the AL.

But other leagues are able to sign more players because those leagues are really their only option.

With that said, ASK ME STUFF.

🙂

-Mike-

4. go ducks - January 25, 2007

Any idea which Ducks will be back from last year? Alsio any news on Mel Stocker?

5. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 25, 2007

Mel Stocker is probably one of the names you’ll see back in a Ducks uniform for 2007.

The organization seems to view him as a Justin Davies type of player, so unless he signs a last-minute minor league deal, he’d likely be returning next season.

I’d expect you’ll see some familiar faces back as well — guys with local ties like Rob Cafiero will likely be back (although it’s about time the guy gets some more playing time wherever he goes) — and then you might see players like Kevin Haverbusch, Elvis Pena and so on.

Projecting the Ducks roster is difficult with the acquisition of Surf players, since nobody has any idea just who out of those ten players will actually end up signing with the team.

In fact, some people aren’t even sure that the Ducks will hang on to the rights for any of those players, so it could be a crapshoot entirely.

Even in general, projecting the Ducks roster is probably the most difficult one to do in the Atlantic League. You know they’re going to have a ridiculous assortment of big leaguers there, I just couldn’t tell you who yet.

-M-

6. Jeff - January 25, 2007

Any word or the Camden pitching coach position? How about Mikelson returning there as a player coach? Possible?

7. Jeff - January 25, 2007

Mike – How is your relationship with Rick Wise, of the Barnstormers? Two seasons ago, he took the time to talk with me for about 20 minutes. Last year in Camden, he was borderline unpleasant. I saw him act the same way to some other fans.

8. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 25, 2007

Jeff,

I literally just posted something about the Sharks pitching coach spot.

As for Rick Wise, I have never ever had a problem with the guy, and the only negative things I’ve heard about him have been from fans on here saying he’s been difficult to deal with.

My personal experiences with him have been great, and my 10Q with him was actually one my favorites.

However, I’m clearly biased due to my well-known love of the Red Sox.

To answer your question, I have no problem with the guy, and have actually never heard a player speak negatively about him either.

-M-

9. Barnstorming - January 25, 2007

Rick Wise has had alot of bcak problems threw out last year.
that could account for some of his unpleasantry.

10. Jeff - January 25, 2007

Mike – Have you ever thought about getting involved on the management side (front office) of the Atlantic League? I know that would be a career change, but wondered if this has every crossed your mind?

11. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 25, 2007

I think that would be a scenario in which someone would come to me, not the other way around.

If there’s a team or a league out there that likes the way I operate, to say I wouldn’t seriously consider any offer made would be crazy.

It’s humbling to be in the position to where people would even think to consider me for something like that, and is a reminder of how far I’ve come since I started waaaaaaaay back in 2003.

I have somewhat of a sports marketing background that I could put to use if need be — but truth be told, I love what I’m doing now.

Outside of the paycheck, of course.

12. Matt - January 25, 2007

haverbush and cafiero are most likley to come back next year. But Mel is less likley.

–Mike when you tried out for the Warriors was it a actual tryout and were actually trying to get on the team or was it just to do a story and how was the experience?
And who would you say would be the best player overall you have ever met?

13. Nick Alessandro - January 25, 2007

Mike,

We hear a lot about the big names in the AL and their on field accomplishments. My question has two parts. First, who are the best player personalities youve met in the Atlantic League? Second, who are the players (other than Cafiero) who you feel havent gotten the playing time they deserve from the Atlantic league?

14. ribby14 - January 25, 2007

Mike,
Any idea if the Atlantic League is planning on getting into the Massachusetts market? You would think that with the size of Red Sox Nation, there would be ample fans to support a team in Mass no? Or is just a case of, “We’ll only support something that relates to the Sox.”

15. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 25, 2007

First off, nice to see some new names on the message board. If you’re new to the site, welcome aboard.

Let me tackle these one at a time…

The Road Warriors “tryout” was really more to get a story and try to give people a first-person look into the team, since they’re fascinating on so many levels.

I’m 6′, 130 lbs. soaking wet. The fastest I’ve ever thrown is 72 MPH. It would be unrealistic for me to have any expectations of making that ballclub.

The experience was amazing. If I can figure out a way to do it again to make it unique, I’d do it in a heartbeat. The specific guys on the team were a great bunch, and they couldn’t have been more helpful and accomodating.

The best player I’ve ever met? I assume you mean that in terms of players I’ve met on a professional level, not me dorking around and getting autographs and such. When I was younger, I was fortunate enough to meet players such as Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays, so those guys certainly stand out.

From “major sports” Reggie Jackson, LaVar Arrington and Chris Webber all stand out as good guys.

Phil Hughes and Charlie Manning were also great to work with in the Eastern League.

As far as the Atlantic League goes, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet so many great people through my job. It seems like I’m on the phone with a player or a general manager or someone in a front office every day, and I feel very fortunate to be as involved as I am in the game.

To be completely honest, the people I don’t like stand out far more to me than the people I do, and that’s only because the former group is substantially smaller than the latter.

To name the best guys in the AL would only slight the guys I didn’t name who’ve been outstanding to me through the years.

If you’re looking at that question from a skill standpoint, the best player I’ve interviewed in the AL was Rickey Henderson in 2004. Along with the Q&A we did, I actually did the last Atlantic League interview he ever did.

I was a big Rickey fan growing up, so I was fairly nervous talking to him, but once I got through the first question, it went pretty well.

Best player personalities? Geez. That kind of reverts back to some of my answer on the last question, where singling out certain guys only slights guys who’ve been good to me in the past.

Keith Ramsey comes to mind though. He’s one of the most genuine people I’ve ever met, a very “what you see is what you get” kind of guy. The guy doesn’t have a BS bone in his body, and I know you guys are sick of me trumpeting him as a good guy, but you don’t really understand if you’re not around these guys every day.

There are a lot of other guys, but he’s one of the first that comes to mind for sure.

Guys who don’t get the playing time they deserve? Hmmm…

I know he’s not in the league anymore, but I always though that Sandy DeLeon didn’t always get a fair shake.

Teams seemed to view him as a rent-a-player, and while there are other players who should come to mind as well who maybe deserved playing time more, he was the first one that popped up.

On a side note, it’s also entertaining to watch him call a game. He’s the most vocal catcher I’ve ever seen.

But I should also explain my Cafiero comments as well.

Fans in the AL don’t get to watch BP, and that’s a shame. When I go to a game just to go, I love to get there early and watch BP and watch the players get loose and stuff like that.

Rob has hit some of the biggest bombs I’ve ever seen in BP — and yeah, I’m familiar with the term “batting practice player” — but I don’t think you can legitimately say that the guy has been given a fair shake in the AL.

The AL has thrown around the idea of exploring the Massachusetts market.

If I’m not mistaken, Can-Am League teams in the area (except New Haven, I think) draw pretty well.

If you can establish some sort of Red Sox connection with the fans there; maybe Butch Hobson as manager, Oil Can Boyd as pitching coach, etc…if you can do that, you might have a successful team.

Hard to say, that’s such a tricky market.

If they did it right, I think they’d draw. I don’t if that makes sense, but I think that’s the best way I can put it.

16. Joseph Doemill - January 25, 2007

Mike,

Can you give us an all good guy team by position, and all not good guy team?

17. Nick Alessandro - January 25, 2007

Mike,

What can you tell us about BASA and their increasing role in the Atlantic League? It seems a little odd that most teams are using them to find players when only Lancaster made the playoffs last year from the teams they staffed. Also, what was your influence on becoming a writer?

18. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 26, 2007

I’m pretty much half asleep at this point, so I’m going to take some time to do these tomorrow. I didn’t want anyone to think I was ignoring them.

I can tell you right now that there’s no way I can do the all bad guy team. It’s 98% that it does me no good to do it, and 2% that I doubt I could actually fill out a starting nine anyway.

If anyone wants to leave me any more questions, that’s more than fine — I just want to make sure I don’t half-ass anyone on an answer.

I really do appreciate all the interest in this.

-M-

19. beisbol - January 26, 2007

Hey Mike–

Great blog, it’s usually the first thing I click on when I get up in the morning. Anyways, I’m just wondering what you think the future of some of last year’s Road Warriors are going to be? I loveEspecially Joe Nichols. This guy is one of the nicest guys in the league, and really looks like he is willing to do anything the manager asks of him–he can play all over the field. Although his numbers don’t look great, in his last two games of this past season he really seemed to turn it on, going 3-4 with two walks and his first home run of the season. I think if he was to get a fair number of at bats he could be an extremely useful player. What do you think?

20. Scott Stanchak - January 26, 2007

Mike,

Who is your favorite television personality?

21. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 26, 2007

All right, let me try to tackle these the best I can.

My favorite television personality? It’s a tie between Scott Stanchak and Lauren Graham. Both are listed for entirely different reasons haha.

An all good guy team? I’ll do this solely based on guys who were in the league last season…

C – Jeremy Booth
1B – Rob Cafiero
2B – Bryant Nelson
SS – Tony Gsell
3B – Jeff Nettles
OF – Derek Barrows
OF – Ryan Radmanovich
OF – Will Pennyfeather
DH – Ozzie Timmons
P – Keith Ramsey

MGR – Jeff Scott
PC – Brett Jodie
HC – Brad Strauss

Those were the guys that came to mind first, I’m sure there are guys I’m leaving off.

—–

BASA. Hmmm…I like the guys associated with BASA; I like Adam Gladstone, I like Ellie Rodriguez, etc. With that said, having an organization to acquire players for more than one team in an eight-team league seems silly. You’re right, Lancaster was the only successful team they had last year. At least one team has dropped them for 2007, but it seems Bridgeport will be using them. And that’s interesting in its own right, because Dave LaPoint plays a big role in bringing players in to his teams.

I’m not sure if last year was a case of spreading their resources too thin, or a case of them working out the kinks in their first year, but I don’t think you could say they were a success last season.

My influences on becoming a writer? I feel like I’m good at what I do because I care about it as much as I do. If I’m writing about a subject that I don’t have any interest in, I feel like that’s going to show up in my work. Sports have always been a big part of my life, and I knew that if I were ever to break into sports somehow, I could combine my passion for sports and writing and become…voila, a sportswriter.

As for influences I have as a writer, I really don’t have any to be honest with you. I read a lot of sports books and read pretty much everyone who covers this league, but I try to let my own style come through and not try to mimic anyone else. A lot of people make comparisons to me and Bill Simmons, and that’s great…he’s great at what he does, but I don’t want to be Bill Simmons. I have his book, and I thought it was hilarious and well-written, but I think I’m better writing serious pieces, and that’s not something he generally does.

Beisbol, glad you enjoy the blog. Welcome aboard the comments section.

Two of the Road Warriors from last year have signed affiliated deals; Benito Baez and Mike Huggins. I think you’ll see a few guys from last year’s team come back to the Road Warriors, and then maybe a few scattered throughout the league. The Road Warriors roster is always the most difficult to get a hold of, so I might not even have an answer to that question until opening day.

Joe Nichols. Geez. The guy hit a buck 22 last year, but did hit about double that last season in Lancaster. He can play a few positions, but he really needs something else that makes him stand out other than his versatility. I haven’t seen him do anything abive average that makes him stand out to me. I think he’s a solid AL utility player, but he’ll have a difficult time finding a place where he can start.

However, I think catcher is the weakest position in the league year in and year out, so it’s entirely possible you’ll see him as a regular player last year. He’s never had that role in the AL, so perhaps he could blossom into a player who’s a candidate to get picked up. Time will tell.

22. Alex - January 26, 2007

Hey Mike,

I am a huge fan. First off, I saw you had Barrows as an outfielder on your all good guy team. I love Barrows too as he goes out of his way to acknowledge the fans. But he played a lot of shortstop at the end of the season for the RoadWarriors. Is he going to play outfield next year? Do you have any idea where he will play next year?

Also, how do former major league stars feel about playing in the Atlantic League? You mentioned that you interviewed Rickey Henderson. He seemed to just enjoy the game and wanted the opportunity to play. But how does a Juan Gonzalez feel? Is it a sobering experience?

Thanks alot,
Alex

23. AtlanticLeagueBaseball.com - January 26, 2007

Alex,

Since nobody’s a Mike Ashmore fan, I’ll assume you mean you’re a big fan of the league. Either way, that’s good. And again, either way, welcome aboard.

Your question about Derek Barrows actually comes at an interesting time. I had someone in charge of procuring players for another league ask me about him just yesterday, so I’m actually looking into the answer to your question for my own purposes. He’s another one of those versatile players who can catch as well, although it isn’t his primary position. As about four of you may recall, he caught my bullpen in that tryout for the Road Warriors from one of the aforementioned questions.

He’s a guy I could see going back to the Road Warriors next season. But I’m hoping to speak with someone who might be able to get me a more definitive answer early next week on that one. Stay tuned.

As for your second question – whether you’re Juan Gonzalez or Juan Rocha, nobody wants to be in the Atlantic League. All these guys want the opportunity to play and view it as their best opportunity to get back to a big league organization. It’s a sobering experience for all these guys, I’m sure.

Let’s take Gonzalez as an example. A few years ago, the guy is in a position to reject a seven-year, $148 million contract extension from the Tigers. Fast forward to 2006, and he’s playing in front of a couple thousand fans, making less in one month than what he’d make in one at-bat with that deal.

Seeing a few less zeroes in your paycheck is enough to sober anyone, regardless of occupation.

Just to clarify one of my previous answers, yes…I’m obviously aware LaPoint is the Ducks skipper now. I did a bad job of trying to convey my point. My point was, is why hire an organization in charge of acquiring your players when you had a guy like LaPoint, who won the Manager of the Year last season and did a stellar job of getting players in to come play for him.


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