Monday, June 7, 2021

Durham Bulls Five Weeks In

 


The Durham Bulls are 29 games into the season and are still looking good. In fact, a little better than the last time we updated. Their nice run in late May and their 3-2 run against Norfolk last week, kept them at 13 games above .500 and just a game back of Nashville, which had an extraordinary 15-game win streak.

Nevertheless, let me gripe some more about the so-called Triple-A East (Southeast). The Nashville Sounds lead the division that the Bulls are in, but the Bulls will not even play them this year. How weird is that? 

Back to the Bulls, though. The team OPS is .849, the best in the entire league. The Bulls team ERA of 3.59 is 2nd, behind the Buffalo Bisons, who just got kicked out of their stadium so the Toronto Blue Jays could play there. A stat that I like, team WHIP (Walks/Hits per Inning) is 1.126 and is also the best in the league.

23 pitchers have stepped up on the mound so far this year, including the severely injured Tyler Zombro. Zombro was reported this morning to have moved out of the ICU over at Duke. We are wishing him well. 

Among the hitters, Wander Franco and Vidal Brujan are getting the most playing time and they are making the best of it. Franco's .922 OPS and Brujan's .949 are among the tops in the league. Brujan is on the Rays' 40-man, Franco is not. But the Rays are looking pretty good in the infield just now, so maybe they both will stay with the Bulls for a bit longer. Brujan also leads the league in stolen bases with 13. 

DBAP notes

  • The DBAP is pretty much open now. Pretty big crowd on Saturday (7,100), a bit smaller on Sunday (5,400).
  • They had food trucks on Saturday up on the right-field concourse.
  • The center-field gate was open on Saturday
  • Still no printed program, which I find very annoying. Should not have to dig out my phone just to find a player's name. 
  • I'm guessing there's some kind of "bubble" around the players. All of the in-game entertainment is in the outfield.
  • Noticed the extension of the screens to the end of the baselines.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Eighteen Games In; How Do the Durham Bulls Look

 The 2021 Durham Bulls are a very good baseball team. They stand in third place in the Triple-A East (Southeast). More about that weirdness later.


As a team, for the entire Triple-A East league, they rank 1st in hitting, 6th in ERA, and 2nd in WHIP (Walks/Hits per inning pitched). That's very, very good. 

And we can see it in the individual players. Six Bulls hitters have OPS's above .900. Granted the season is young, but that's still an exceptional number.

They have so many pitchers on the roster that I confess I can't keep track of them. There are, I think, 22 of 'em. Of those, 20 have made a mound appearance. 

So far Tampa Bay hasn't screwed with the team all that much, but that will surely change.

What about this Triple-A structure and schedule? I don't like it. How to count the ways? 

  1. No Governors' Cup. I've got a drawer full of South Division Champions and Governors' Cup T-shirts. But what are we rooting for this year? 
  2. What's this division structure and 6-game series all about? I'm guessing the idea is to save travel costs. But as much a fanatic as I am, I'm not gonna go to see 12 games in a row against just two teams.
  3. And even in "our" division the Bulls have teams they play a lot and teams they play hardly at all. 
  4. What would be wrong with a simple set of "grand rounds"? One home and away series for every team in the league? Why not? Then those of us who are not Tampa Bay Rays fans — that would be most of us — could see teams they are following. 20 x 12 = 240. OK, you'd have to trim it a bit. 
  5. I get that they are trying to save travel money, but calling the games from the MiLB-TV broadcast? Really? Shades of Bull Durham movie broadcasts.
  6. What are the players playing for? Only a few are on the Rays' 40-man roster, 5 pitchers and 4 position players. The salaries at Triple-A are OK. But, again, what are they playing for? Should be something — like a Triple-A championship ring.

What about the DBAP?

OK. Not great. Just OK.

  1. The field seems to be in good condition.
  2. All the between-inning stuff has been moved to extreme right field and out of view/earshot. Not sure why. 
  3. Covid protocols seem to be OK
  4. But you'd think they'd print a program since the visiting team will be here for 6 games. Can't tell the players without a smartphone ... and I don't like digging out my phone to try to figure out who's on first. Maybe with the crowd restrictions, they decided to save some money. At any rate, don't like it.
  5. Radio/TV. Needs tech work. Odd echo last night (23 May). Pose/Kinas team in good form. Kinas doing a great job calling games even if in the TV broadcast he sounds like he's in a well (OK on radio).
  6. Food beverage ordering is just plain awkward. I don't buy much at games, so not much impact.
  7. Netting has been extended. Mostly a good thing since parents apparently don't like to look after their children.
  8. 8. Still, IT'S GOOD TO BE BACK!!!

Monday, May 10, 2021

Tomorrow!

 


The Durham Bulls had a solid start to their season over in Memphis against the Cardinals' franchise, the Redbirds. They took 5 out of 6 in this new style season where six-game sessions are going to be the norm. They come home tied with Gwinnett for first place in the Triple-A East— Southeast.

While in Memphis, the Bulls scored an impressive 49 runs and only allowed 23. The team OPS was .973, the second-best in the "Triple-A East" (the new name for teams mostly from the old International League). 

14 Bulls came to bat over the six games, hit 16 home runs, and gathered up 128 total bases.

The pitching crew did just fine as well. The team ERA is now 3.46, 5th best in the league. The WHIP was 1.079, the second-best. And a bunch of them saw action. Sixteen different Bulls were on the mound.

Tuesday night we'll have our first home baseball since September 2019. It's been a long, long dry spell. 

The Bulls' opponents will be the Jacksonville (Florida) Jumbo Shrimp, which ranks right up there with the Gwinnett Stripers as a team name. They are the Miami Marlins AAA team that has roamed around the country in recent years (New Orleans and Wichita). This year they started the season at home and won 4 of 6 against the Norfolk Tides. They are in third place in the Southeast.

The DBAP has a ton of new rules for this season and they all seem to make sense. On the other hand, we can expect them to change as the COVID rules for North Carolina change. I'm gonna start with my mask on and see how it goes. 

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Durham Bulls Off to Good Start

 Game 2, Durham Bulls 4; Memphis Redbirds o

Season: 2-0

Box

Here's a cut & paste from the Bulls report

FRANCO BLASTS FIRST TRIPLE-A HOMER, RYAN FANS NINE IN 4-0 SHUTOUT WIN

Consensus #1 prospect Wander Franco homers & drives in two; starter Joe Ryan earns 1st Triple-A victory


MEMPHIS, TN – Durham second baseman Wander Franco and center fielder Vidal Brujan both homered, while Bulls starter Joe Ryan struck out nine and yielded just two hits in five innings pitched in a 4-0 two-hit shutout win over the Memphis Redbirds on Wednesday night at AutoZone Park.

 

Brujan bashed the fifth pitch of the game for a leadoff longball off St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Miles Mikolas, who was with Memphis on a Major League Rehab Assignment to start the scoring. Two innings later, Brujan would score on Franco’s run-scoring double to right.

 

Franco would later smash a solo shot to left in the fifth for his first career Triple-A home run. The 20-year-old, unanimously touted as the top overall prospect in baseball, has recorded five hits over his first nine at-bats through two games with Durham.

 

Ryan (5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K) retired each of the first 12 batters he faced, which included five consecutive strikeouts at one point, before Memphis DH Austin Dean clubbed a double to left to start the fifth. Ryan earned the win while Mikolas (2.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, BB, 3 K) suffered the defeat. Bulls relievers Phoenix Sanders (1.0 IP, K), Ryan Sherriff (1.0 IP, BB, 2 K), Stetson Allie (1.0 IP, K) and Tyler Zombro (1.0 IP) combined for four hitless frames to preserve the shutout, with Redbirds RF Lane Thomas’ seventh-inning walk the lone blemish.

 

Durham and Memphis are slated to square off in the third game of their six-game series on Thursday evening. First pitch is scheduled for 7:45pm ET. Starting pitchers for both clubs have not yet been announced.

Some additional love for Wander Franco here.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Durham Bulls Begin Season With a Win

 Game 1: Durham Bulls 7; Memphis Redbirds 5

Wrap, Box

They had to wait almost 2 hours, but the Bulls got on a baseball field for the first time since 2019. In Memphis against the St Louis Cardinals AAA franchise. All is right with the world!

And they won with extra-base hits — a triple and 2 home runs. They used 6 of the 17 (!) pitchers on their roster. But only 1 of the 4 (!) catchers. (More about that someday soon). 

Meanwhile, the MiLB-TV worked OK. Plus Patrick Kinas was on the air at 99.9.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Updated Schedule Released

 First home game is May 11 against Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp.

https://img.mlbstatic.com/milb-images/image/upload/milb/urvaxtuv0fhucskvc1zb.pdf



Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Season Start Delayed

 


Here's some background on today's one-month delay. 

However, underneath it all is the reality that MLB delayed AAA because they can, but with the big leaguers in a union, they could not.

Baseball America's J.L. Cooper: "The decision to delay the start of the Triple-A season largely came about because of the difficulties of blending Triple-A travel with the reality that players frequently move back and forth from Triple-A to the majors and vice versa....At the MLB level, teams travel entirely by charter. At the Triple-A level, bus trips are by charter, but all flights are commercial. MLB’s Covid-19 protocols are quite strict in ensuring that MLB players do not cross paths with the general public to reduce risk of a coronavirus outbreak.

But those protocols cannot apply to a Triple-A player brought up from the minors—in many cases those players will have flown commercially in the past week.

By switching to alternate sites, teams will be able to keep their pool of potential call-ups under similar coronavirus protocols to the MLB team."

ESPN's Jeff Passan:

"Some executives told ESPN they believe the alternate sites could last longer into the season. The reason for rekindling sites -- which serve as training facilities for players who are likeliest to be called up to the major leagues -- is the proximity to teams' home stadiums and easier oversight of testing and coronavirus protocols, according to sources. Further, Triple-A teams travel via commercial airline, whereas major league teams can go from hotel to stadium to private flights on getaway days....Still, MLB's belief that April is likely to be the most difficult month for COVID-19 concerns has not wavered since it tried to get the MLB Players Association to agree on a one-month delay to the season. The union rejected the idea. MLB's control of the minor leagues allows unilateral implementation of policies."