It's never too early to start thinking about 2010.
That was the forward-thinking message sent by the Lakewood BlueClaws on Thursday afternoon, as the South Atlantic League club held a news conference to unveil their new logo.
"The announcement is in conjunction with the release of the 2010 schedule," explained BlueClaws general manager Geoff Brown, who has worked for the team since its 2001 inception. "We just wanted to change things up after nine years. We're freshening up the crab."
Indeed, the crab -- who goes by the name of "Pinchy" -- appears to be refreshed. The crustacean on the current logo maintains a blank façade, but the "new" Pinchy looks both mischievous and determined.
"[Pinchy] is definitely more aggressive," Brown said. "In selecting the new logo, we relied heavily on the thoughts of our staff and took into consideration the feedback we have gotten from fans."
The logo was created by Plan B Branding, which describes itself as a "creative ideas" company specializing in storytelling.
"When it comes to the Jersey Shore, how can you not be inspired?" said Plan B's Jason Klein. "We went out there in February and [the BlueClaws] gave us a tour of Lakewood. We ate at the local hotspots, snapped a lot of photos of boardwalk signage and looked at old photos of Lakewood sporting uniforms in a museum."
Hence the new uniform font, dubbed "driftwood," which evokes the sort of lettering often seen on Jersey Shore boardwalks. The colors are described as dark Atlantic blue, crab blue, sea mist light blue and, of course, Phillies red.
The BlueClaws released only the primary logo Thursday, with the assurance of more to come. Brown mentioned that an alternate 'Claws jersey eventually will be unveiled, while Klein waxed enthusiastic over the possibilities of Pinchy.
"One trend we've been seeing involves having the character icon do as many different things as possible," he said. "That character is like the Mickey Mouse of the franchise. He can be rendered in many different ways in order to appeal to as many people as possible while still maintaining the integrity of the brand."
But amidst all the change, the BlueClaws emphasize that their affiliation is staying the same. This point was driven home by the presence of Phillies director of scouting Chuck Lamar and assistant general manager Benny Looper at the news conference.
"The Phillies are part of everything we do and we wanted to thank them for their partnership," Brown said.
The new logo announcement also gave the BlueClaws a chance to remind their fans that 2009 has a lot of baseball left.
"We still have nine more home games and then the playoffs," said Brown. "But that doesn't mean we can't be excited about 2010."
Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.