Thursday, June 23, 2011

Out of the Smoke, Into the Sun

Game 71, June 21, DBAP
Buffalo Bisons 9, Durham Bulls 1
Wrap, Box, Herald Sun

Game 72, June 22, DBAP
Durham Bulls 9, Buffalo Bisons 3
Season: 40-32; Home Stand: 2-1
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

Let’s start this off with something really trivial, and yet something that takes away from the fan experience this year. I think maybe I’ve mentioned this problem before, but at the end of a post. This time it goes up front.

I got to the park a bit late for the day game because the Durham Freeway was essentially a massive parking lot. But at least the smoke had cleared out some from the day prior and I could breathe. The Bulls were on the field by the time I got to my seat so I scanned the field to get a sense of where Charlie had put his team for the game. At second base, for example, he has essentially three choices: Furmaniak, Lopez, or Luna. But I can’t tell who’s on second because the jersey NUMBERS ARE UNREADABLE and HAVE NO NAMES ON THEM!

On second thought, this really isn’t a trivial issue. I find it extremely frustrating to not be able to tell who’s playing in the game or getting ready to pitch, and I recognize quite a few of the players. How much more frustrating it must be for fans who have only the program to go by with very little hope of being able to put a number against a name.

The time has come for the Bulls to accept the fact that they made a bad decision. I agree that if you’re up close, say 10 or 20 feet away, they look OK. Otherwise, they are the worst shirts in the International League. Please, please do something about them. 

If you auction them off, I’ll even bid for Albernaz’. Maybe not very much, but I will bid.

[Update, 11:00 am, Thursday: I've been informed that, because of the mesh material they are made from, the players love the jerseys. In this heat that makes all the sense in the world to me. So we have to back off. The Bulls should be wearing what works best in these very early dog days. 

The players will have to get used to the fans not knowing who's on third until a new batch is obtained with names and more legible numbers.]

Maybe I’m just grumpy because I missed Tuesday night’s game. From all accounts, however, it wasn’t much of a game and the smoke from the fires down east made things difficult.

Yesterday afternoon Dirk Hayhurst started and he had trouble closing the deal. In every inning he'd get a quick two outs and then take more than a batter or two to finish up. The temperature and humidity was brutal. If that was the reason Montoyo took him out after four innings, that made a lot of sense to me.

The oddity of the afternoon was the way the ball seemed to be carrying. A bunch of both team’s hits that didn’t seem to be much coming off the bat, sailed on out to the warning track. A couple went in for doubles and couple, after missteps by fielders, were caught. Maybe an out wind, but that's rare at the DBAP. Probably something to do with what aviators call “density altitude”. Whatever it was, that condition did not account for the three home runs. Those were authoritative shots by the Bisons’ Pascucci, and the Bulls’ Lobaton and Johnson.

Another oddity was Ray Olmedo’s triple in his first at bat. He was also the first of two Bulls that got stranded on third in the early innings. In the 3rd, however, both of the Bulls that got to third base (Desmond Jennings and Brandon Guyer) scored. After the third it seemed it was a matter of Bulls relief pitching hanging on, which they did. Speaking of relief pitching, the masterful jobs of Brandon Gomes and Jake McGee need to be mentioned. Gomes had a 1-2-3 8th and McGee, after giving up a double in the 9th, struck out the next three batters, the last two looking.

After running through three left-handed pitchers, Buffalo brought on Dale Thayer with the bases loaded, one out in the 8th. At that point the Bulls were only ahead by a score of 4-3, so there was certainly a chance for a team who recently scored 16 runs in the last third of an inning a couple of nights ago. That is, a chance if they could get two more outs. Didn’t happen. Ray Olmedo singled in a run. A Brandon Guyer ground out brought in another run and left runners on second and third. Dan Johnson’s home run brought in three more.

Chart of the Day — The Hitters

The trend over the last 10 games is not very encouraging. On the other hand, the Bulls have a 7-3 record over the period. Notable is Robinson’s Chirinos’ improvement and the very high level that Brandon Guyer has achieved. Worried about Anderson.

Looking to the future? Here’s a piece over on DRaysBay that’s an analysis of the Montgomery Biscuits hitters. A couple are looking pretty good.


  1. So whose the next prospect to come up from Montgomery? Probably another pitcher and probably that Moore kid, but it would be nice to see a position player make the jump. I know its a long shot, but Beckham would be interesting since it looks like the light has finally come on for him or is it just that he feels that Korean prospect getting ready to jump over him. I just hope Beckham is not the second coming of BJ Upton at shortstop in Durham; it was so frustrating seeing Upton throw the ball after making one great catch after another all with an attitude and a half. Oh well, Upton won't be with the Rays next year anyway. Time will tell for all.

  2. I don't follow Rays prospects very closely. That's why I put up the link and point folks to Rays Prospects as well. That said, I'm guessing that we are not likely to see any of these before August unless or until someone goes on the DL and that ripples down through the system. Personally, I'd like to see a stronger player than Omar Luna in the Bulls mix, but whomever might come up would probably get more playing time in Montgomery. And I'd like to see a better third baseman, but can't ague with the bats of DJ, Lopez, and Canzler.

    As for pitchers, I don't think I've ever guessed right there.

    Note update on my uniform jersey rant. Players like 'em. Guess I'll back off.

  3. I think the current hats are worse than the jerseys...I like the classic blue style with the bulls logo the picture in the previous post

  4. This is all speculation, nothing that should be taken seriously...

    A lot really depends on the Rays near the deadline. If they're still competitive, I think we're unlikely to see much in the way of changes.

    If they're not competitive, they're likely to dump Damon, Upton and maybe Shields/Neimann. Obviously in the latter case that would create some ripples to us. Admittedly though I don't see a lot of turmoil in the infield short of an injury because the Rays are essentially playing a middle infield of pospects/AAAA guys anyway. I guess they could trade Kotchman.

    Jennings might go up regardless, but with Ruggiano playing so well, it's a bit unclear if that's going to happen this year. And if so, we'd likely get something like Fuld back rather than someone up (legend not withstanding).