Where are we this so far this year? The answer is, and this may surprise you, better than last year. Last year at mid-season (72 games) we were 4 games above .500. At no time during the year did we get more than 9 games above .500. This year (except for the first 3 games) at no point have we been below 4 games above .500. At 72 games we were 6 games above, and we've been as high as 16 above twice. Last year we moved into first place in the South Division in early June and never looked back. At the end of the season we were 6 games above .500 and 9 games ahead of our nearest competitor in the Division (Norfolk).
Our offensive performance (OPS) this year is .011 better. Our pitching performance (Opponent’s OPS) is .031 better, compared to end of year numbers for 2008.
When you look at it from a fan’s perspective, the only problem this year was the last home stand. That was really painful to lose 7 out of 8 in mostly crappy weather before huge crowds — and we had to bring in a ringer from Tampa Bay to do it.
So what needs to be done to make things even better?
Top of my list is seeing the guy who contributed so much to last year’s team come back up to the plate. Justin Ruggiano is not the same player. I’m not sure what’s happened this year, whether it’s physical (he had eye surgery in the off-season) or mental. The power’s obviously there, but from the far distance I watch him from he just doesn’t look comfortable. I had a brief chat last year with the Bulls hitting coach, Gary Gaetti. I asked him just what does he do? His answer was interesting. He said, “I wait for the batters to come to me.” So here’s hoping that if that is Dave Myers’ approach to the job, Justin asks for help. This season seems to me to be more than a slump.
Last year Justin was part of lineup that had some real horses in the middle of it that could blow a game apart (Guzman, Ruggiano, Richard, Johnson, et al). This year the middle of the batting order is nothing like the threat last year’s was. But we win more games.
- Wish we had more speed. It makes the game more exciting to see guys stealing bases and stretching singles into doubles.
- I’d like to see fewer base running blunders. I’m gonna blame Montoyo for that. This is AAA and he calls the shots out there at 3rd base.
- I’d like to see Mitch Talbot back on the mound and back in last year’s form. AAA has the interesting luxury of not having the press constantly pressing for answers. But I’d sure like to know more about our guys on the disabled list.
Otherwise, you gotta go with the numbers. This is one hell of a team this year. Clearly we are a Governor’s Cup contender.