Thursday, June 4, 2009

Bulls on the Bay*

Game 53: Bulls 2, Mud Hens 5
Season: 34-19
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun Story, Indy Week Story

I don’t have anything particularly worthwhile to write about yesterday’s game, except to point out amid all the talk about Durham Bulls pitchers’ strikeouts (17, a season high) that the Mud Hen’s OPS was 1.018, implying one of the worst overall pitching performances this year.

Instead let’s take a look at the players who started the year with the Bulls and are now with the Rays.

  • Michel Hernandez, catcher. Michel’s last game with us was on April 13 (boy, that seems like a long time ago). He was called to the Rays to fill in for backup catcher Shawn Riggins, who remains on the disabled list. His first appearance with the Rays was April 15 and he’s played in a total of 13 games since then. At bat he’s hitting .289. Not a single passed ball. And he’s stolen 5 bases. Riggans seems to be a fragile guy. I’m not sure we’ll see Michel back here again.
  • Reid Brignac, infielder. Reid was essentially our starting shortstop and played in 36 games, his last being May 21. His first game for Tampa Bay was on May 22 where he came in the game for Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett. Since then he’s appeared in 11 games (2 at second base, 9 at short), but only started 6 games. He’s hitting .231 with 1 walk and 5 strikeouts. Not sure he’ll stay there once the Rays sort out the health of their infield crew.
  • David Price, pitcher. David started 8 games as a Bull. His record was 1-4 with an ERA of 3.93. He got his first start as a Ray on May 25, filling in for DL’d Kazmir. He has now started 2 games. His record is 1-0 and his ERA is 3.00. Assuming he stays as a starter, the Rays have to figure out who to send to the bullpen, trade, or send to us. Given the various complexities of how that works, I don’t figure to see him back in Durham.
  • Randy Choate, pitcher. Randy was doing a terrific job as a short reliever for the Bulls (21 appearances, usually only a few batters, 3-0, ERA of 3.72). His first appearance for the Rays was on May 25 and he’s had a total of 4. 3 innings pitched. 2 saves. The Rays have three relievers on the disabled list, one of whom (Chad Bradford) is likely to transit Durham on a rehab assignment soon. Can’t knock his performance with the Rays, but I’m betting we’ll see him back here.
  • Joe Dillon, infielder. Joe played 14 games for us (part of the Adam Kennedy deal, I think), and played every infield position (and dh’d) while he was here. His first game with the Rays was on May 27. He has not started in a single game, but has appeared in 5 and is hitting .182 in 11 at bats. He was hitting .262 with us. I don’t understand the business of baseball well enough to guess if he’ll be back, but he sure isn’t seeing much playing time with the Rays.
  • Matt Joyce, outfielder. Matt started the year in Tampa, then came to Durham where he was a regular (41 games), playing all the outfield positions and dh’ing a couple of times. Solid numbers with us, but clearly a young man on his way to a permanent spot with the Rays. His first game with Tampa Bay was May 31. He’s played in 3 games so far and is doing very, very well. Tampa Bay has been playing a very odd game all year with their right fielders, a “platoon” system that doesn’t seem to be working very well. I don’t think we’ll see Matt back here. Happy to have him, mind you, but the Rays are smarter than that (I think).
  • Dale Thayer, pitcher. Got to mention reliever Dale Thayer. He’s already back, but he had three appearances with the Rays in late May and picked up a save. Happy to have him back. With Dale and Winston Abreu in the bullpen, we’re not likely to lose a game that we’re ahead in the 8th or 9th.

So, here’s a trivia question: Who’s on Tampa Bay’s 40-man roster who is still with the Durham Bulls? Just three players: Pitcher Mitch Talbot (on DL), outfielder Justin Ruggiano, and infielder Elliot Johnson (currently on DL). In other words, there ain’t hardly anyone left for them to take away from us. We can plan on going with what we’ve got for a least a few more days.

*As a former resident of the Tampa Bay area, in that time when the City of St Petersburg was in its “If we build it, they will come” phase (note: they did and they did), I am aware that Tropicana Field isn’t on the Bay. But what is on the Bay besides a port terminal whose major export is phosphates and whose major import is, get this, orange juice?


  1. Hurt his hand (in BP, I think) a couple of weeks ago. Originally thought to require surgery, but now looks like it won't. Have heard, but am not sure, that he's at Rays' rehab setup in Florida. No word on when he may be back in lineup. Johnson going on DL, and Brignac and Dillon getting called up, is how Mateo and Chaves ended up here. With Rays' Bartlett on 15 day, Iwamura on 60 day (probably season) and Longoria with a tight hamstring don't think any of our infielders will be back soon. Aybar's the only slack they've got. We don't have any (infield or outfield).

    That was probably more than you wanted to know ... sorry.