Friday, January 05, 2007


Some meanderings as I contemplate temperatures "soaring" into the 60s in the Northeast for part of the weekend.

The Philadelphia Eagles can count on one serious fan getting up at 4 a.m. in Vietnam in order to catch Sunday's playoff game against the New York Giants. That's what righthander Justin Knoff, who had a sterling August-September run for the Can-Am League's New Haven County (CT) Cutters, told me he would be doing in Saigon, where he will be visiting to attend a friend's wedding.

Knoff, who also has pitched for Winnipeg of the Northern League in addition to two major league organizations, is wintering in Thailand where he is teaching 12 to 17-year-olds. His offseason occupation fascinated me to the point I featured it in this week's Independent Baseball Insidercolumn. Knoff's hometown is Burlington, NJ so it is logical for him to be an Eagles and Phillies fan.

"I am a huge Philly sports fan and have been to more Phillies games than I can count," was one of his instant message emails this week. Quite a way to conduct an interview, but it worked.

D. J. Carrasco, who is one of the major league alums the Frontier League proudly claims (Johnstown, PA), has signed with Arizona, but so far has not gotten an invitation to the major league camp. He has a 14-15 career record for parts of three seasons with Kansas City, then spent last season at Fukuoka, Japan.

Among those invited to a major league camp recently is 32-year-old Chris Ashby, who hit .308 with 4 homers and 38 RBI in 198 at bats at Albuquerque last season. He likely is viewed as an added catcher, which all teams need in spring training, although Florida could see him as a potential utilityman and pinch hitter. The 6-foot-3 Ashby had a lofty .462 average (6-for-13) as a pinch hitter last season when he played first base and the outfield in addition to catching. Ashby has been in Triple-A eight of the last nine seasons with the exception being 2002 when he played for St. Paul, MN, then in the Northern League and now part of the American Association.

Nick Cafardo speculated recently in The Boston Globe that if either Sammy Sosa or Carl Everett, both of whom want to play, gets a chance this season it might be in an Independent league, Mexico or Japan. They obviously aren't getting much major league consideration right now.

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