Friday, December 21, 2012

Slow Day's News

It says something about the time of year that the big item on the web related to the Bulls is a video interview of Wil Myers where he mentions that he doesn't wear batting gloves.

See Rays Index

Friday, December 14, 2012

Even More ...

Bulls Leveraging NC Native Myers

We have something like 115 days before we are going to know just who will be playing for the Durham Bulls this year. That’s a bunch of months. And yet we can’t stop thinking about this big trade the Rays made and how much better the Bulls could be looking at the beginning of the season. And not just the the trade that might bring Wil Myers and a couple of pitchers to the Bulls. Rich Thompson should be coming back. And the Rays just traded for a very interesting guy named Vince Belnome out of the Padres system.

Some links to keep us thinking.
  • As they should, the Bulls front office has jumped on the possibilities of Wil Myers being here with an interesting ticket offer.  Worth buying into, I’d think. Also some clever photoshopping that I stole.
  • Over at Grantland, Rany Jazyerli thinks that the Royals messed up.
  • Joe Maddon had a few comments on the big trade.
  • For a bit more stuff on the players involved check out this link. But for some real depth you should at the commentary over on DRaysBay.
  • The trade opens the door for Chris Archer to make the Rays starting rotation. I was startled to see the N&O recognize that possibility and run down an interview. Here’s hoping he gets his chance. For what it’s worth, I think he is better prepared that Matt Moore was at this time last year.
  • Over at Fangraphs Mike Newman has some worrisome comments on Tim Beckham. I can’t disagree with his observations. The stat lines from the Arizona Fall League don’t provide any insight into his progress as a second baseman.
  • At Rays Index, Cork Gaines has updated his 40-man roster projection, which led me to chase down young Alexander Torresnumbers for winter ball. With 10 starts, he’s getting a lot of time on the mound (47 innings). Too much?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Big Trade

This is a very big deal for Bulls fans: The Rays traded former Bulls James Shields and Wade Davis to the Kansas City Royals yesterday. In return they got four prospects, three of whom are very promising (and, of course, saved themselves a bunch of money in the process).

Three of the four could start the season with the Durham Bulls, outfielder (and top prospect) Wil Myers, right-handed starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi, and left-handed starting pitcher Mike Montgomery. A fourth player, infielder Patrick Leonard, was working his way up through the KC system. Hard to tell if he’s ready for AAA yet, but all the others already have some AAA time and have a shot at starting the season with the Rays.

But it’s more likely they will start with the Bulls and that would be a welcome change from the beginning of 2012.

2013 is looking good!

For some analysis and stats, see the commentary at The Process Report, DRays Bay, and RaysIndex.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Hemstitching: Rhymes, Beckham, Wrigley, and More ...

  • Will Rhymes, who played in 46 games with the Bulls last year, has signed with the Washington Nationals. We liked watching him play the game.
  • Tim Beckham, who was with the Bulls almost all of last year except for his 50-game suspension, has been moved to the Rays’ 40-man roster. Also on the 40-man is much-talked-about infielder Hak-Ju Lee, who has not yet made it to Durham.
  • Henry Wrigley became a free agent over a month ago, but haven’t heard anything since then.
  • Rich Thompson, on the other hand, is back in the fold. Hoorah! Along with Rich, veteran infielder Mike Fontenot signed a minor league deal. Fontenot played mostly with the Phillies last year with a few games in Lehigh Valley. (Stats)
  • In addition to Thompson and Fontenot, the Rays have also signed RHP Matt Buschmann, who spent most of 2012 in Montgomery, but did have two starts with the Bulls. And they have signed one of my favorites from 2012, Shawn O’Malley
  • Two others, RHP Will Inman and IB Nick Weglarz are new to the Rays and, if they show up, will be new to the Bulls. Inman, however, pitched for Pawtucket last year and we’ve probably seen him.
  • Former Durham Bull Jonny Gomes seems to think that his time in Durham will help him in left field in Fenway.
When he was a prospect in the Tampa organization and playing at Triple-A Durham, Gomes says he imagined himself one day playing left field for the Red Sox at Fenway Park. The left field wall at the Bulls’ ballpark in Durham has similarities to the Green Monster and it was then when he began to learn how to handle the complexities of the position.

          Yeah, that really helped former Bull Carl Crawford ...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

“Thanksgiving in Camp" sketched Thursday 28th 1861, by Alfred R. Waud
 Library of Congress
Just remembering ...

Family and friends and community; past, present, and future.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Is It Spring Yet?

We have to wait 139 days before we can go to the DBAP to see a Bulls game. What can we do before then?

Well, we could go down to take a look at Spring Training. I’ve never done that, but I’m looking very closely at a couple of programs put on by Road Scholar (formerly Elder Hostel) that takes you to visit the Rays and the Yankees … and you get to watch a couple of games. 

The first is in early March. That’s only 110 days off! And there’s another one the week after that. 

Maybe … 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

2012 Moonlight Graham Awards

Each year Watching Durham Bulls Baseball recognizes the hitter and pitcher who has spent the least amount of time in a Durham Bulls uniform. The award is named in honor of North Carolinian Archibald “Moonlight” Graham who famously played only two innings for the New York Giants in 1905, never coming to bat.

We have just a few criteria for selection: Not considered are players who come through on a rehab assignment, played only in postseason (did not apply this year, obviously), or (for the pitcher) a position player thrown to the wolves at the end of a game.

The 2012 Winners

 Infielder Robby Price

Robby Price came up from the Single-A Charlotte Stone Crabs and played second base in the last two games of the season (Sep 2 and 3) at Knight Stadium against Charlotte. He did well at the plate with 3 hits (all singles) in 6 ABs. Price is 24 years old and out of the University of Kansas (his home town). He doesn’t show up in the top prospect lists that I’ve seen. After ending the season with the Bulls he went over to Montgomery to lend a hand in their playoff games. He has never played at the DBAP. At a guess he will start 2013 with the Montgomery Biscuits. Stats. Box Scores.

Left-Handed Relief Pitcher Jim Patterson

On September 3rd, at Knight Stadium, Patterson came on in relief for Lance Pendleton and pitched 3 ⅓ innings. It was a rainy day and the game was called after seven innings. 2 hits, 4 Ks, no runs scored, pretty good. Prior to that game Mr. Patterson had also been with the Charlotte Stone Crabs where the 23 year old had a decent season. Left-handed relief pitchers are always in short supply. We could see him in 2013. Stats. Box Score.

Congratulations to Robby and Jim! Good luck in 2013!  

About Moonlight Graham

Archibald “Moonlight” Graham achieved lasting fame as a character in the W.P. Kinsella novel, Shoeless Joe, and then became even more famous when he was played by Burt Lancaster (and Frank Whaley) in the Kevin Costner film, Field of Dreams. As a ballplayer he played two innings in the major leagues as a right fielder for the New York Giants in 1905. He never came to bat. You can look it up. He did, however, go on to a career as a well-loved physician in Chisholm, Minnesota.

Of interest to us is that he was a North Carolina native (born in Fayetteville, grew up in Charlotte); graduated from UNC (where he played baseball); and was the older brother to UNC President and US Senator Frank Porter Graham. If you find him an intriguing character, the Wikipedia article is a good start. There’s a nice NBC piece done on him a few years ago. And then there’s a terrific book by Fayetteville writer (and Bulls fan) Brett Friedlander and Robert Reisling, Chasing Moonlight. Copies of the book are in the Wake County Library system, Amazon, and I found my copy at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hemstitching: Rays Prospects, Rich Thompson, and more ...

In the weaver’s world the word hemstitching is used for two purposes: to tie up loose ends (literally, because an “end” is a thread in a warp) and for decoration.

  • The best site for keeping an eye on upcoming Rays (and the source of some terrific stats analysis) is apparently dropping out of the game. Rays Prospects has announced that it is going dark. Too bad. They were very helpful to WDBB when I was trying to get going. Doug Milhoan, Kevin Gengler, Jim Donten, BurGi, good guys all. Now am I going to have to chase down this winter league stuff on my own?
  • Rich Thompson decided on free agency after he was “outrighted” to the Bulls last week. Thompson was one of the few good things to happen to the Bulls last season. On the other hand, at 33, with a taste of the big leagues in his mouth, and with the Rays dumping him, you have to think he felt he had to take a shot at going it alone. Good luck, Rich. Here’s hoping you land in a good place.
  • Rays Index has put up a Rays roster payroll projection for 2013. Scroll down near the bottom to see several current Bulls (and 40-man roster guys). Check out the notes. Cork Gaines, as usual, has some interesting thoughts. 
  • In spite of a stellar post-season, former Durham Bull Delmon Young is being dumped by the Detroit Tigers.
  • In the Winter Leagues a couple of potential Bulls are doing OK, notably Kevin Kiermaier, Henry Wrigley and (!!!) Alexander Torres.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Bull(s) in Winter

I’m not very good at chasing down the various winter leagues (and they haven’t all started yet). On the other hand, Jim Donten over at Rays Prospects is. So you probably want to add it to your RSS feed just to keep up. From Jim you learn that Tim Beckham is playing in the Arizona Fall League, Henry Wrigley is in Venezuela, and Alex Torres is also in Venezuela.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Bulls By the (Other) Bay

Rehabbing Jonny Gomes, May 30, 2007

Just noticed a couple of ex-Durham Bulls playing baseball out in Oakland in the A’s-Tigers series. How many of you remember these guys?

Jonny Gomes came up through the old Devil Rays system and was a fan favorite in Durham, especially in the 2004 season. He came back from time to time, as in this shot in 2007. He was also back in town as a Louisville Bat in 2009. After playing for the Reds and Nationals, he’s now with the Oakland A’s mostly at DH. He has not come to bat in the first three games of the ALDS series against the Tigers. He’s just about the twitchiest batter I’ve ever watched it the plate. Stats (minors and majors).

In Oakland’s bullpen is former Durham Bull Grant Balfour. The very intense Australian appeared in 15 games for the Bulls in 2008 with a stunning ERA of 0.38 before going on to a couple of good years with the Rays. He’s got 24 saves with the A’s this year (notable 17 for his last 17 opportunities). He got tagged with the loss on Sunday, but he got the save against Detroit last night. Stats (minors and majors)

Over in the Detroit dugout is DH Delmon Young. Back in 2005 and 2006, Young was a rising 20 year-old prospect in in the Devil Rays’ system. He got a lot of press in 2006 for throwing his bat at an umpire (50-game suspension) and for his part in a USA Today interview with his fellow prospects 21 year-old B.J. Upton and 22 year-old Elijah Dukes. This was the year before Charlie Montoyo arrived and brought some adult leadership to the management of the team. After a year with the Rays, Young has gone on to a decent career with Minnesota and Detroit, now essentially a full-time DH even if only 26. Stats (minors and majors)

In Detroit’s bullpen is Joaquin Benoit, who appeared in 8 games with the Bulls in 2010. He started the year with the Bulls, but went to Tampa Bay before the end of the first month. He’s looking OK in the Tigers’ postseason. Stats (minors and majors)

Did I miss anyone?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Bulls by the Bay: How Did They Do?

Eight players who spent the bulk of their season with the Durham Bulls were called up to Tampa Bay for the month of September and a couple of games in October. We know they very likely made more money in that month than they did for the entire rest of the year, but what else happened to them?

Well, mostly they sat on the bench. Of the position players only catcher Chris Gimenez saw significant playing time. Only Chris Archer among the pitchers spent much time on the mound.

  • Chris Gimenez appeared in 18 games in September and October. In fact, he started the last five games of the season, which says a lot since the Rays were making a run in those very games. He also went 13 for 32 in September and October for a .406 batting average. 
  • Outfielder Rich Thompson appeared in 14 games in September and October. He didn’t start a game, mostly coming in to pinch-run in late innings. To that end, he stole 4 bases and scored 2 runs. At bat he was 1 for 5. 
  • Reid Brignac and Stephen Vogt essentially sat on the bench. Brignac played in 8 games, started none, and had 4 ABs (0-4). Stephen Vogt also played in 8 games. He only started one game, the last game, at DH. At bat he was 0-8. Stephen is awaiting his first big league hit.
  • Pitcher Chris Archer was comparatively busy. He appeared in 4 games in September — a 7 inning start against the Rangers, as the 9th pitcher in a 14 inning marathon against Baltimore (3 ⅔ innings), a winning 5 inning start against Boston, and a 2 inning relief appearance at the end of September. That was 17 ⅔  innings overall.
  • At the other extreme was Dane De La Rosa who made one-inning appearances in four games.
  • Brandon Gomes had five appearances for 6 innings.
  • Cesar Ramos also had five appearances but put in 5 ⅓ innings.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Last Rays Chart

Nothing to be ashamed of in this season for the Rays. Lots of "ifs" to discuss over the winter.

You've got to hand it to the O's. They had a great year.

The slide of the Red Sox was a terrible sight. Not sure what happened to the Blue Jays after the All-Star break. I don't follow them at all.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Rays Get Close, But ...

Three games left, all against Baltimore. Oakland has to lose three games to Seattle Texas. Rays have to win all of theirs. Not likely ...

Too bad. Nice end-of-season run.

click on chart for larger version
Update (10/2/2012): Didn't happen

Friday, September 28, 2012

DJ Lines Out

The Rays continued their run, now stretched out to eight in a row. On Chicago’s bench were former Bulls Ray Olmedo and Dan Johnson. DJ came in to pinch hit in the 9th, but flied out. Out west, former Bull John Jaso hit a home run for the Mariners to beat the Angels.

So the Rays are creeping up on a wild card shot. A stretch, but possible. Can’t imagine the White Sox will keep on losing, but maybe.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Rays Charts

Thought I’d take a break from looking back at the Bulls and look forward at the Rays.

As readers know, I think that charting games above/below .500 is an interesting way to look at teams across time. This chart shows the American League wild card race (with the Yankees thrown in for good measure. The AL East teams are plotted since the All-Star break. Angels and Athletics are just shown for the last couple of days. Comparing two teams, each game difference amounts to a 1/2 game in the standings. The Rays are now one game back of the Angels. They will need to catch up with either Oakland or Baltimore to reach the playoffs.

Regular readers will also know of my interest in the runs scored/runs allowed metric. On that measure the Rays have been booming recently. Unfortunately for them, the Orioles don’t seem to care about that metric. They are at a -6 and still solidly ahead of the Rays, who are at a +102 level, well ahead of Oakland (+73) or LA (+81). So this chart may not pass the “so what?” test, but it’s pretty anyhow. The red trend line is a 10 game moving average.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Durham Bulls in 2012 — The Hitters: Part 2

In addition to the 12 ballplayers profiled in our last post, 20 other ballplayers came to bat for the Durham Bulls in 2012. Players are listed in order of number of games played. The “slash line” is Batting Average/On-Base Percentage/Slugging. An asterisk after a player’s name indicates he bats left-handed, a # sign indicates he is a switch hitter. Basic 2012 Bulls stats are here and here.


Will Rhymes* (29) played in 46 games (194 times at the plate) in his two stretches with the Bulls. He was mostly at second base.
  • Decent, but not particularly helpful hitting numbers, .256/.326/.361 with 21 RBI, an OK wOBA of .320 and a slightly negative wRAA of -0.9. Rhymes was an infielder-in-waiting all year for the Rays as they moved folks on and off the disabled list. Mostly Rhymes stayed with the Rays. However, the Rays dumped him off the 40-man at the end of the Bulls season, when the Rays designated him for assignment. I was mildly surprised to see him pass through waivers.
  • Will the Rays want Rhymes back next year? A larger question might be, does Rhymes want to come back? Hard to tell. My guess is that everything will depend on how the Rays are looking at their future infield. 
  • Stats
Juan Miranda* (29) started the season with the Bulls, then was moved on in early June. He was in 44 games (176 PA) primarily at first base.
  • Miranda is one of the poster children for the Rays not treating the Bulls right this year. Signed at the last minute, he stuck with Rays through spring training then was assigned to the Bulls. He went 0-5 with three strikeouts on opening day back in April. He stayed until June when he was released to make room for Brandon Allen (see below). 
  • His numbers: .187/.307/.273 with only 8 RBI. His wOBA was .279 and his wRAA was -6.3.
  • Stats
Nevin Ashley (27) was one of the Bulls I was looking forward to watching this year. But he broke his hand in April and didn’t make it back until late July. He got into 35 games with 130 plate appearances.
  • We are getting into small sample size issues here, take everything hereafter with a grain of salt. Decent numbers. Slash line: .245/.357/.455 with 13 RBI. His wOBA was a decent .363 and his wRAA was 3.8.
  • If anyone didn’t think that catching was a tough job, they should look at what happened to the Rays this year. At least Mr. Ashley got back into a lineup. Robinson Chirinos spent the entire year on the DL.
  • Stats.
Kyle Hudson* (25) was traded to the Phillies system for Rich Thompson. He started the season with the Bulls and played in 31 games (133 PA).
  • As a Bull he had some decent numbers, .291/.378/.318, wOBA .327, wRAA 0.2. However, the rest of the year got pretty ugly for him as an Iron Pig with a wOBA of 281 and wRAA of -11.5. 
  • Stats.
Brandon Allen* (26) was the last of the collection of late signers that showed up in Durham (following Feliciano, Salazar, Mangini, and Miranda). He played in 29 games (129 plate appearances) after being sent down by the Rays.
  • His numbers are OK. Again, please note we are venturing well into small sample size territory here. His .263/.295/.451, 14 RBI, wOBA of .327,  and wRAA of .2 reflect end of tenure improvement, because his start wasn’t very good.
  • Allen was off to play in Japan in late July.
  • Stats.
Early, Late, and Mid-Season

Brandon Guyer (26) is a terrific young ballplayer who started the season with the Bulls (22 games), got called up, messed up his shoulder, and was on the disabled list for the rest of the year. Maybe in 2013.

Brooks Conrad (32) was a mid-season hire by the Rays who finished the season with the Bulls (25 games. He was very helpful at the end. Not likely to be back.

Hideki Matsui* (38) was one of the odder moments in Bulls history. He was signed by the Rays and sent to the Bulls to get in condition. He played in 13 games and apparently helped the Bulls out quite a bit on the financial side. Otherwise, his numbers were pitiful, .170/.231/.444. For a while it was fun having him around. But also a little sad.


Evan Longoria, Jeff Keppinger, Sam Fuld, Jose Lobaton, Desmond Jennings, Luke Scott, and Matt Joyce all had rehab assignments. Other than having the opportunity to see the big leaguers on the field, an unfortunate reality of minor league baseball is that these fellows aren’t much help to the team. As a group they played in 31 games, had 125 plate appearances, and only managed 8 hits (.198) with a grand total of 8 RBI, half of those on Luke Scott’s two home runs.


Catcher Craig Albernaz (29) was essentially with the Bulls all year, but only saw action in 23 games, 6 of those as a pitcher in the waning innings of a losing game.

Catcher Mayo Acosta (24) came up from Montgomery to lend a hand for a couple of games (9) in May. He had a decent year overall. Very good chance that he will be in a Bulls uniform at some time next year.

Infielder Sean Rodriguez (27) was sent down for two games at the end of the Bulls season in some roster maneuvering by the Rays. He won a game for the Bulls with a home run, then broke his hand in some sort of locker room incident.


At the very end of the season two players were jumped all the way up from the Charlotte Stone Crabs played a couple of games, then went on to help Montgomery in their playoffs.

Kevin Kiermaier* (22) played in four games and was the one and only young outfielder to play for the Durham Bulls in 2012. At a guess he’ll be playing in Montgomery next year.

Robby Price* (24) is an infielder who played only in the last two games that were played in Charlotte. He went 3 for 6 in a promising start.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Durham Bulls in 2012 — The Hitters: Part I

Thirty-two different ballplayers came to bat in a Durham Bulls uniform this year. Some quite a few times (Leslie Anderson, 482 times), some hardly at all (Matt Joyce, 3 times). That compares to 25 last year, 27 in 2010, and 25 in 2009. So this year was well above normal.

Players are listed in order of number of games played. The “slash line” is Batting Average/On-Base Percentage/Slugging.

An asterisk (*) after a player’s name indicates he bats left-handed, a # sign indicates he is a switch hitter. A distinct oddity to this year’s Bulls is that 8 of the top 12 batted left-handed and one switch hit.

The Top 12 (50+ games)

Jesus Feliciano* (33) was in his first season with the Bulls and had a decent year.
  • He played in the most games of any Durham Bull (125) and was #2 in plate appearances.  His line of .270/.312/.326 and 46 RBI helped. An unimpressive Weighted On-Base Average  (wOBA) of .294 and a Weighted Runs Above Average  (wRAA) of -11.5 does not auger well for his future in a Rays system that loves to crunch numbers. 
  • On the other hand, it sure seemed to me that if anyone came through for the Bulls this year, it was Feliciano. He’s got time with several different AAA teams and played 54 games with the Mets in 2010. My guess is that he and his agent will be working on another minor league contract with invitation to spring training next year, but not with the Rays.
  • Stats.
Leslie Anderson* (30) had a career year with the Bulls. For reasons known only to the Rays front office, it was not good enough to push someone off the 40-man and give him a place on the Rays bench at the end of the year.
  • Anderson led the Bulls in plate appearances with 482 (116 games). His line of .309/.355/.450 led the Bulls and very nearly won him the International League batting title. He was also led the Bulls in RBI with 56. His wOBA of .355 was an improvement over 2011’s but below Rich Thompson’s .371. He was also one of very few with a positive wRAA (11.2). The loose end with Anderson is what position should he play? This year he had 24 games at 1B, 49 in the outfield, and 43 as DH.
  • What we don’t know much about is his contract with the Rays. Does he have another year or not? We don’t know if he will be looking a minor league free agency this year. He was passed through waivers last year, probably because no other team wanted to pick up his contract (after his defection). This year he showed his worth as a ballplayer. Given the folks that the Rays invited last year (see below), seems to me that Mr. Anderson deserves a shot next spring.
  • Stats. Story.
Reid Brignac* (26) was not a name I expected to be third on this list, but here he is at 99 games and 400 plate appearances.
  • His line .228/.321/.347 with 46 RBI is not too impressive. His wOBA of .308 and negative wRAA (-5.6) are simply not very good numbers. And yet, from a fan’s perspective, he was a valuable Durham Bull this year. Unlike their parent club, the Bulls defense held up pretty well and that was, in my opinion, helped both by Brignac’s play and by his apparent mentorship of young Tim Beckham.
  • At this writing, Mr. Brignac is back up with the Rays where he has made an appearance late in 5 games and has had 3 AB (0-3). Seems to me that the Rays have completely lost confidence in their starting shortstop of 2010 and 2011. You have to think that he’ll be looking for a new home this winter. And that might be good for both parties. But I like watching him play baseball. I’ll miss him if he goes.
  • Stats.

Stephen Vogt* (27) had a slow start, including some time with the Rays, but seemed to be on track by the end of the year.
  • He played in 94 games with 396 plate appearances. He had a decent slash line of .272/.350/.424 with 43 RBIs. His wOBA of .350 is above average and his wRAA was a valuable 7.4
  • The puzzle he had to face each day was sorting out which glove he was going to use. He played catcher in 37 games, 1B in 16 games, and was in the outfield for 53 games. How much of this was necessity on Montoyo’s part (the Rays never bothered to look for outfielders to play in Durham this year) and how much was dictated by the Rays, we’ll never know. Certainly the hints are that the Rays regard Vogt as a second string player. He was called up to the Rays for September and has made brief appearances in four games (4 PA, 2 BB). He has not yet had a hit as a major leaguer. Vogt was one of the players caught up in the turmoil of the Rays’ early season injuries. I’d love to see him back. More than that I’d like to see him have some success with the Rays this month.
  • Stats.
Henry Wrigley (25) had a solid season, playing 32 games with the Montgomery Biscuits before coming up and playing 94 games with the Bulls (380 PA). He’s also the first right-handed batter on this list.
  • His numbers are pretty good: .285/.324/.472 with 52 RBI. And his wOBA of .350 and wRAA of +7.4 is a match with Vogt’s. Although he put in a few games in the outfield (6), he played mostly 1B (53 games) and as DH (31 games). The Bulls had some confusion around the first base position this year (9 different players there), so it’s hard to tell. From a distance (I sit over near third base), I’d say that he’s a solid, but not great, first baseman. If he could just get a chance to settle in there on a regular basis, he might turn out to be a real asset to the Rays system.
  • My guess is that Mr. Wrigley has a good shot at coming out of spring training with a place on the Rays’ 40-man. If he spends the winter working on his 1B footwork, he might go places.
  • Stats.
Cole Figueroa* (25) had 25 games with the Biscuits and 88 with the Bulls (347 PA). He just might be the most interesting of this year’s Bulls as far as the future is concerned.
  • Numbers: .286/.344/.386 with 42 RBI. His wOBA was .330 and wRAA barely in the positive range (+1.3). So nothing special there. Nor is his speed all that great (Spd, 4.2). I just liked watching him play. He split time between 3B and 2B this year and my bet is that he’ll be back next year. One of the positive signs for the 2013 Bulls.
  • Stats.
Matt Mangini* (26) played in 82 games with 329 PAs. From the stands he struck me as a very solid young ballplayer.
  • Mangini’s numbers, .273/.337/.373, 32 RBI, were OK. His wOBA of .326 was average and his wRAA was neutral (0.0). He was part of a very large crew of ballplayers from outside the Rays system who signed contracts with invitations to spring training this year, but, it seemed to me, got pushed out as Rays players finally started getting healthy.
  • Mr. Mangini was released by the Bulls in August and went to play for Mobile (the Diamondbacks franchise in the AA Southern League). He helped that team win a championship.
  • Stats.
Tim Beckham (22) started off the year by blowing a hole in the Bulls’ lineup when he drew a 50-game suspension. He came back to play in 72 games (323 plate appearances) and learn something about a new position, second base.
  • Beckham’s numbers are not particularly impressive overall, .256/.325/.361 with 28 RBI. The advanced metrics aren’t much better, wOBA of .317 and a wRAA of -2.2. Beckham came up through the system as a shortstop and that’s all he’d played until this year. His fielding percentage was better at 2B than SS, so maybe that’s his future.
  • The Rays are going to undoubtedly give this young man every possible chance to succeed. But I have to say that, other than being a right-handed bat in a lineup full of lefties, he did not add much to the Bulls this year. Maybe next year? We can hope.
  • Stats.
Chris Gimenez (29) got ensnared in the Rays injury turmoil early this year and, although I’m sure he didn’t mind, spent a good bit of time (34 games so far) at the beginning and end of the season with the parent team. As a Bull he got in to 71 games (301 plate appearances). He was one of my favorite players this year for a lot of reasons. Too bad he didn’t spend more time with the Bulls.
  • His line of .310/.389/.483 was one of the best on the team. His 49 RBI computes out to a stunning 100 or so if he'd been with the Bulls an entire season. His OPS of .871 was far ahead of any of the regulars on the team. His other metrics were similarly impressive. He had a wOBA of .382 and a team best wRAA of 13.3.
  • Although mostly he played at catcher, he did get to run around the outfield some (20 games). Unlike most of the September call-ups, he’s getting some playing time this September. So far he’s been in 10 games and has hit .353 with 2 RBI. Would I like to see him back with the Bulls? You bet. But I’ve got to think he’s got a shot at bigger things now. I hope so.
  • Stats.
Jeff Salazar* (31) played in 68 games (234 plate appearances) but was released in mid-July.
  • Salazar had some moments, but he was never able to put together a solid stretch in his time with the Bulls. On his departure he was at .216/.287/.327 with 22 RBI. His wOBA was only .284 and his wRAA was -7.7
  • To some extent he was yet another victim of the previously mentioned Rays signing of a bunch of players just before spring training. When they didn’t make the Rays they ended up in Durham and, especially in the first several weeks, they never jelled. Salazar was not alone. I’ve not heard if he caught on anywhere else. If a reader has, add a comment and I’ll correct it here.
  • Stats
Sean O’Malley# (24) played in 67 games (247 plate appearances) and finished out the season with the Montgomery Biscuits (35 more games). I like this guy.
  • OK, his numbers aren’t very good. He was at .245/.304/.310 with only 18 RBIs. And his wOBA was just .294 and, even worse, his wRAA was -6.1. But, what can I say? He was really fun to watch. He did steal 11 bases and only got caught once. That was second to Rich Thompson’s 22 in a similar period. He was essentially pushed back to Montgomery in the post-All Star roster turmoil.
  • O’Malley is a fan’s kind of ballplayer. Works hard. Runs like the wind. Seems to be having fun. Now if he can just start hitting a bit better.
  • Stats
Rich Thompson* (33) rounds out the top 12. He played in 63 games (282 PA) and made quite a splash with the Bulls.
  • I was surprised going through my notes that the trade of Kyle Hudson for Rich Thompson happened back in mid-May. The Rays needed an outfielder and Thompson was apparently made available by the Phillies. Thompson was a fan favorite with the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs and is becoming one with the Bulls. He went directly to the Rays and didn’t show up in Durham until early June. He brought some badly needed speed to the team. In his 63 games he stole 22 bases and only got caught 5 times. He was part of the September call-up crew. So far he’s done a bit of pinch-running/base stealing and is 1 for 4 at bat.
  • Thompson’s numbers are among the best on the Bulls: .311/.369/.436. His wOBA was a fine .371 and his wRAA was +9.9. He had the highest Spd number (8.4) on the team. The only other player even close was Shawn O’Malley at 7.3. 
  • Stats
Note: Primary statistics sources are Baseball Reference and FanGraphs.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

2012 Bulls Charts - 2 - Pitchers

Here are the charts with the basic metrics for the pitchers we saw with the Bulls this year. Several that we saw are not on the charts because they just didn't seem to fit. For example, Alex Cobb started 8 games, and did not do very well as a Bull (1-4) before going up to the Rays to stay. Alex Colome and Matt Buschmann came up from Montgomery for a couple of games near the end of the season (and looked very good). Jhonny Nunez appeared in 22 games before his release. On the other hand, Romulo Sanchez stuck with the Bulls for 34 games before his release. Also included is Bryan Augenstein even though he was on the DL for much of the year.

Note that most of the pitchers on the 40-man are now with the Rays: Dane De La Rosa, Brandon Gomes, Chris Archer, and Cesar Ramos. The two who are not had very different ends of the season. Josh Lueke's last six appearances were pretty awful (7 1/3 innings, 13 ER). Alexander Torres, who comes off as the Bulls' very worst pitcher in just about every category this year, pitched a decent few innings in his last game on September 1st.

Youngsters Adam Liberatore and Frank De Los Santos arrived near the end of the year, and looked pretty good.

Looking at FIP, things sort out a bit differently. I wish I were more confident in FIP as a measure of minor leaguers. For the stats folks out there, I used a constant of +3.2 in the computation.

Matt Torra, Lance Pendleton, Chris Archer, and Jim Paduch were the workhorses this year.

Pitching Efficiency is my name for a slightly quirky metric, pitches per out. Look at how hard Torres was working this year.

Monday, September 10, 2012

2012 Durham Bulls Charts - 1

The Bulls never quite recovered from that awful early start, although they held their own through the mid-season. Charlotte's striking run to the top has now been followed by first round playoff victories. We might see them at the DBAP later this month.

[Note: I've got two tickets for the Triple A championship game that I can't use. Email me if you'd like them. First come, first serve.]

The Bulls win-loss was matched by the runs scored - runs allowed curve (trendline is a 10-game moving average). The slight difference between expectation and actual would appear to be the bullpen which was, mostly, the bright spot of the 2012 team.

Why was this year so tough? Check out the green line as it started out awful and never approached decent. For a bit more heartbreak, compare the ERA chart to the one from the end of 2011.

210 days until the first game of 2013

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Red Sox, Knights to Play for Governors’ Cup

International League

Playing baseball before cozy crowds limited to intimate family and friends, the Pawtucket Red Sox (442 fans up in Rochester) and the Charlotte Knights (649 fans over in Fort Mill, SC) won their games and will be the contenders for the 2012 Governors' Cup. The first game will be played in Pawtucket on Tuesday. Wrap.

Pawtucket made it look easy grabbing seven runs in the second inning and giving up only 2 hits and 1 run.
Box, PawSoxHeavy

Over at Knights Stadium a rain delay put off the end of the game for a couple of hours, and Indianapolis almost got back into the game.
Box, Wrap

It is sad that the Carolinas, where Shoeless Joe Jackson, Moonlight Graham, and Crash Davis all played baseball before they were in Kevin Costner movies, could only find a couple hundred folks to watch a championship game. Pitiful, just pitiful.

Southern League

Meanwhile, over in Montgomery, 2,348 fans (that would be twice as many as the combined attendance at the IL games) watched the Biscuits get crushed 10-2. That's puts them a game away from elimination. Box, Montgomery Advertiser.

Bulls by the Bay

Chris Archer had a terrific 7 innings in a losing cause. Joined a long list of American League pitchers in giving up a home run to former Rays prospect Josh Hamilton.  Rich Thompson went in as a pinch runner, stole a base, and scored a run. Box

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Playoffs Even Up, Who's Watching?

Indianapolis and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre avoided elimination in the International League playoffs and the Montgomery Biscuits evened things up with the Mobile BayBears. Attendance numbers give a glimpse into a reality of minor league baseball — only a few fans really follow the teams closely enough to care about postseason.

International League

Indianapolis Indians at Charlotte Knights
Indianapolis 8, Charlotte 0
Box, Wrap

Charlotte leads the best-of-five series 2-1. But if they had won, would anyone other than the team have known? Attendance: 1,703. Pitiful, even for Fort Mill. (Although, to be honest, the Bulls rarely draw more than 2,000 or so for playoff games)

Pawtucket Red Sox at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees (Playing in Rochester)
SWB 4, Pawtucket 3
Box, Wrap

Pawtucket leads series 2-1. Attendance: 2,028. Not bad considering Rochester is hardly “home” for the Yankees.

Update: See Jenks' (Pawsox Heavy) take on the game here.

Southern League

Montgomery Biscuits at Mobile BayBears
Montgomery 2, Mobile 1, 11 innings
Box, Montgomery Advertiser

The Biscuits evened series to 1-1 with a walk-off hit by newcomer Robby Price. Infielder Price passed through the Bulls locker room on his way from the Charlotte Stone Crabs to the Montgomery Biscuits. Kevin Kiermaier, who had followed the same path, scored the winning run. Folks down in Mobile turned out in much better numbers (2,563) than elsewhere.

Friday, September 7, 2012


International League

Charlotte Knights at Indianapolis Indians
Charlotte 14, Indianapolis 13
Box, Wrap, Charlotte Observer
Charlotte leads series 2-0. Series moves to Fort Mill tonight. Charlotte led 9-0 at 3rd innings and nearly let it get away from them.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees at Pawtucket Red Sox
Red Sox 3, Yankees 2
Box, Wrap
Pawtucket leads series 2-0. Series moves to Rochester, New York tonight.

Southern League

Montgomery Biscuits (Rays) at Mobile BayBears (Diamondbacks)
BayBears 5, Biscuits 3
Box, Montgomery Advertiser
Mobile leads series 1-0. Players with time on the Durham Bulls squad, Sean O’Malley, Omar Luna, and Matt Buschmann, all had tough nights.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Ups and Downs

Dane De La Rosa and Stephen Vogt have joined Brandon Gomes, Rich Thompson, Reid Brignac, Chris Gimenez, and Cesar Ramos as September call ups.

Missing from that list is Chris Archer. Where is he? In Alabama! Yesterday afternoon he was on the bus with the Montgomery Biscuits heading for Mobile, Alabama. I guess the idea is to keep him in shape for a later in the week call up to the Rays. It isn’t entirely clear that minor league baseball will allow the move. Keep track of him by way of Stacy Long’s blog Biscuit Crumbs.

Along with Archer, Kevin Kiermaier and Robby Price, who just spent a few days with the Bulls have also joined the Biscuits.

International League Playoffs

Charlotte Knights (White Sox) at Indianapolis Indians (Pirates)
Charlotte 8, Indianapolis 1
Box, Wrap, Charlotte leads series 1-0

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees at Pawtucket Red Sox
Pawtucket 7, Scranton/WB 4
Box, Wrap, Pawtucket leads series 1-0

Days to Go

214 days to the next Bulls home game.

UPDATE: Apparently Archer was not going to be allowed to pitch, so he's been promoted to the Rays

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Stormy Sky by Laurie Williams

Season: 66-78; Final Standings

The clouds and rain rolled in. I’m guessing the umps had a fit of common sense and said to the managers, “Let’s call it a day.” And the managers agreed. After all, the Knights need to get up to Indianapolis for their playoff game on Wednesday. The Bulls? Well, the Bulls (most of them) just needed to go home.

We’ll spend the next few days trying to wrap up this season. Regarding these last two games, the kindest review would point out that Chris Archer had a good start on Sunday; that Josh Lueke dug himself an even bigger hole in losing Sunday’s game; and that Leslie Anderson simply didn’t have enough time to get the hits he needed to win the batting crown. 

If we were looking for oddities (and we usually are) we’d note that in both games the Bulls outhit their opponents, but still lost. What could that mean? At a guess, the Knights were tuning up for the playoffs and the Bulls were not. 
 * * * * * 
There was another oddity in this last game that creates a dilemma for Watching Durham Bulls Baseball.  I need your opinion on an issue. The oddity was that Jim Peterson came into the game in relief and Robby Price started at second base.

Back when we set up the Moonlight Graham Award, given to the Durham Bull with the least amount of time in a Bulls uniform, we set up a fairly simple set of criteria excluding a few categories of players who come through that we didn’t think should be eligible for the award.
Not considered are players who come through on a rehab assignment, played only in postseason, and (for the pitcher) a position player thrown to the wolves at the end of a game.
Here’s my problem this year. We’ve got a pitcher and a position player who meet these criteria, and who are clearly the players with the least amount of time in a Bulls uniform, but we’ve never seen them (the aforementioned infielder Robby Price and pitcher Jim Patterson). They both played only at Knights Stadium, but they will not step onto the field at the DBAP. So, here’s my question: 

Should we add playing at the DBAP as a criterion for eligibility of the Moonlight Graham Award?

Outside the game —
  • The Tampa Bay Times is reporting that Stephen Vogt and Dane De La Rosa are being called up and speculates that Chris Archer could be called up soon.
  • Bulls catcher Chris Gimenez hit two RBI yesterday to win the game for the Rays.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Nice Ending

Season: 66-76; Home Games Left: 0

Dane De La Rosa’s fourth pitch to the Knight’s catcher Josh Phegley was a strike, and Phegley knew it. He swung. He missed. The 2012 season of the Bulls at the DBAP was over. 

Yes, the Bulls have two more games to play and I’ll be doing some more charts and graphs and summing up. But, unless I decide to go to that AAA National Championship game, that was the last baseball action I’ll see at the DBAP this year. Very likely the last time on the DBAP grass for a lot of the Bulls and Knights as well.

I am a die-hard Alexander Torres skeptic, but after a slightly shaky start last night, he was brilliant. It was easily his best game of the 26 he’s appeared in this year: 10 Ks, 1 walk (!), only 3 hits. He simply had the Knights in his hand. As a fan I personally appreciate Charley Montoyo taking Torres out of the game after his 2 K’s at the top of 6th because it gave all of us a chance to show our appreciation as Torres walked off the field. Mr. Torres has had some awful experiences on the mound this year, but it certainly looks like his trip to Florida for the month of August fixed something (for details, see Adam Sobsey’s account at the Indy Week link). He’ll have some time to keep working on whatever he’s been working on. Will he be the pitcher so many think he can be next year? We’ll see.

Ryan Reid got the win. That gives me a chance to thank him for his work this year. Something of an everyman for the Bulls: 46 appearances, 79 innings, decent ERA, a couple of spot starts, no trips to the DL. And I love that distinctive pitching motion of his.

Frank De Los Santos had part of an inning, then Dane De La Rosa came in for his 20th save. Together, Bulls pitching accumulated 15 strikeouts, the best 9-inning performance of the year.

Meanwhile, to give him his due, Charlotte’s Charles Shirek pitched a very solid eight innings, saving the Knight’s bullpen for the playoffs. He only made two mistakes: a walk to Cole Figueroa and a pitch to Brooks Conrad that was crushed over the right field wall, scoring the only runs of the game.

All was well at the DBAP last night. If the season had to end, and it did, it ended with interesting baseball. What more could we ask for?

Outside the game —
  • Brandon Gomes got called up to the Rays.
  • At .308, Leslie Anderson is 6 points back of the leader in the batting title competition.
  • The Montgomery Biscuits clinched a playoff berth in the Southern League.

Saturday, September 1, 2012


Coming up from the Charlotte Stone Crabs, infielder (mostly 2B and 3B) Robby Price. He's in his third year with the Rays system and doing OK. Stats. 24 years old, throws right, bats left (of course).

In from Hudson Valley, drafted this year out of Northwestern University, catcher Goeff Rowan. 15 professional at bats in 8 games. Opponents are unlikely to have any charts on him. Stats. 22 years old. R/R.

Two more candidates for the 2012 Moonlight Graham Award.

No telling when they'll be in the dugout. We can hope they were started moving when the Rays began making their decisions.

More *&#!

Bulls infielder Will Rhymes was designated for assignment today to allow Jeff Niemann to come off the Rays’ disabled list. That means that Rhymes will have to clear waivers to play for the Bulls. I don't see how that can happen before the end of the Bulls season.

That also means that the Bulls go into tonight’s game with exactly 9 position players. I wonder if any of those guys in the bullpen would like to DH if something goes awry? How about tonight’s starter, Alex Torres as a DH instead of pitching? Probably wouldn't be any worse. Cant' pitch, maybe he can hit.

Gotta admit that's an interesting twist to the game. Usually it's a position player who goes out the mound as a sacrificial lamb. Maybe tonight we'll see roles reversed, with a pitcher having to borrow a bat and getting a quick class from hitting coach Dave Myers on which end to hold.

Also noticed that former Bull Russ Canzler was called up to the Cleveland Indians. That makes four of last year's favorite Bulls playing in the majors for teams other than the Rays (Johnson, Olmedo, Ruggiano, and Canzler, although I haven't seen Johnson on any on the lists, just in Indy Week.)

Last Home Game Tonight

Game 141, Friday, August 31, DBAP
Durham Bulls 2, Charlotte Knights 7
Season: 65-76; Home Stand: 0-1; Home Games Remaining: 1
Box, Wrap, Herald-Sun, Indy Week

It was a steamy night and about all we had on offer was a couple of quirky moments. Otherwise, the Bulls seemed to be more than a bit flat. After last week’s 6-game win run, the Bulls have dropped four in a row. They won’t end the year in the absolute cellar, but they’re working on it.

One of the mantras of baseball, especially “small ball”, is to never let the leadoff runner on base. Particularly unpardonable is to walk the leadoff batter. But Charlotte did let the leadoff runner on eight out of nine times last night, and half of those on walks. Nevertheless, only one of those runners scored (new guy Kevin Kiermaier, we’ll get to him later). Three double-plays killed any chance of those leadoff runners making a difference.

Leslie Anderson had an 0-fer night, dropping his batting average to .308. The three players ahead of him on the list have been called up, meaning that their numbers can’t change. So all Leslie has to do is raise his average up to .315 over the next three games and he’s in!

Jim Paduch’s final start of the year began really ugly with a home run. Then an error, wild pitches, passed balls and a couple of singles set up a 4-run inning. That was enough. A few innings later, he was followed by Josh Lueke, whose end-of-season work has not been impressive. He’s let in 13 runs over his last six appearances. I’d guess his hopes at a call-up are fading fast.

On the other hand, Brandon Gomes and Dane De La Rosa are looking good. 3 innings with no runs and 6 Ks between them.

The Bulls started the night with exactly one position player on the bench (if you don’t count the designated hitter), new guy Kevin Kiermaier. He came in for Jesus Feliciano in the 7th and singled up the middle, got to third base when the next two batters walked, and came home on a passed ball. The next inning he ran into the center field wall. (I wonder. The Bulls didn’t take batting practice yesterday. Was that his first time ever in the DBAP center field?) He drew a walk for his AB in the 9th and got to second base, but Henry Wrigley flied out with the bases loaded. He’s probably a lock for our Moonlight Graham award (unless someone else gets called up to fill the hole, but maybe we’ll get to see some more of him next year.

Last home game tonight! No more Durham Bulls Baseball at the DBAP in 2012. Expecting another sell-out crowd. Let’s hope for some good baseball to end the year.

Outside the game —
  • Adam Sobsey at Indy Week is reporting that Dan Johnson was called up to the White Sox last night. Good for Dan. Seems like end-of-season call-ups are his role in baseball.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Rays Start Cleaning Out Bulls Roster

Infielder Reid Brignac, catcher Chris Gimenez, pitcher Cesar Ramos, and outfielder Rich Thompson are on their way to Toronto to join the Rays. Good for them. At a guess, they aren't the only ones who will be called up. Not quite sure why they are so anxious to pull the string on the very first day (tomorrow). Other possibilities were discussed here earlier in the month.

As Bulls fans we have seen Reid Brignac do a very good job at shortstop and second base, and get a few key hits in his time with the Bulls. However, the Rays certainly seem to have lost confidence in him. His prospects of being called up for September weren't very good until Sean Rodriguez broke his hand. 

We really like Chris Gimenez. He was hitting well and helping the Bulls. His call-up was expected and deserved. 

Cesar Ramos is a puzzle to me. He's probably a better pitcher than I think he is. He must be. He's going to the Rays.

Rich Thompson plays his heart out every day. We'll see if the Rays trust him enough to give him any real playing time. We can hope.

What does it mean for tonight and the rest of the season? Well, I'm sure the Montgomery Biscuits are hoping that the angel of call-ups passes them by. They are in line for a run at the championship — if the weather will let them play. The Southern League playoffs begin next week. My guess, and hope, is that the Rays dig down into Single-A teams and give us a look at some prospects.

Question for readers who follow those prospects — Who should get a visit to Durham tonight? And a trip to Charlotte for Labor Day weekend? Or are the Bulls just going to have to suck it up for a couple of days?

[Update: An outfielder from the Charlotte Stone Crabs has been added to the Bulls roster, left-batting, right-throwing Kevin Kiermaier. Stats are here and the RaysProspects latest data are here. The Rays obviously think a good bit of him since he's headed for the Arizona Fall League along with the Bulls' Tim Beckham and the Biscuits Hak-Ju Lee.

Thats a one for three swap. See comments from Samantha regarding previous year attentiveness the the Bulls' needs.]

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Anderson Named IL All-Star, and More ...

Leslie Anderson was named to the 2012 International League All-Star team today. He’s the only Durham Bull to make the squad. He also eased into first place in the batting stats holding at .313. Rich Thompson is lurking back at .310 and in a tie for third place.

As noted in the comments to yesterday’s post, Sean Rodriguez broke his hand hitting locker after Sunday’s game. He is off to see the Rays’ hand specialist and may be out for the rest of the season. Goes to show you how little we fans can possibly know about what happens outside the lines of this sport. What we do know is that he helped the Bulls in the two games he played. A couple of links here and here.

Meanwhile, over in Alabama Biscuits catcher Mayo Acosta, who had nine games with the Bulls earlier in the year, had his ankle broken in a plate collision. The Bulls' Craig Albernaz has been sent there to lend a hand. The Biscuits are in a run for the end of year playoffs.

However, Hurricane/Tropical Storm Isaac is playing havoc with schedules in the Southern League.

In the International League wild card Pawtucket picked up a game on Lehigh Valley and now leads by a game and a half. Bloggers comment here and here.

Lastly, a chart to dream about as we wait for tonight’s game against Norfolk. When last we looked at this chart the Bulls needed to play .600 ball to get to .500 by the end of the season. Didn't happen. Now they need to win all of their games to reach .500 by the end of the season. Maybe, just maybe?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Better Late Than ...

Season: 65-72; Home Stand: 6-3; Home Games Left: 2

A beautiful day for baseball. In what seems like a very long time the Bulls started the game in bright sunshine. So bright that it may have been what caused a slight hiccup in right field in the top of the 1st. The hiccup led to a triple, but the runner never scored. 

Cesar Ramos went on to have a terrific day. Obviously going from the bullpen to starting is much more complicated that I would have thought. Yesterday he pitched very, very well against a team that has to be wondering what happened to the 2012 Durham Bulls, the team that was lurching along near the bottom of the division. This team was the pitching, running, scrambling, hitting team of yesteryear and beat the Tides for the fifth game in a row.

Mr. Ramos was never in any real trouble until the 5th when the bases were loaded with two outs. But a popup to short ended that threat.

Josh Lueke had another shaky outing. Single, K, K, home run, K. Those two runs brought the Knights back to 4-2. Brandon Gomes came in for a two-inning save that, even though a run came in, simply felt like things were in hand.

Meanwhile visiting infielder Sean Rodriguez should be feeling pretty good. The reason he’s with the Bulls has everything to do with DH’r Luke Scott coming off the DL. Since that time, Scott has played in 4 games for the Rays, with 4 hits and 1 RBI. Rodriguez, on the other hand, has played in two games for the Bulls with two doubles, a home run, and 4 RBIs. Last night’s was off the Bull (video here). The Bulls have won all of their games, the Rays dropped their last two. Take that Tampa Bay!

As it happens, both middle infielders hit home runs last night. Tim Beckham, playing shortstop hit one to the deepest part of center field in the 5th.

Six games in a row, all at home, is a big deal in any season. Thank you, Durham Bulls! 

Outside the game
  • Rich Thompson’s run at the International League batting title is getting less stealthy. He was 3 for 4 last night, raising his average to .310. He’s now tied for third place. Leslie Anderson sat out the evening and slipped into second place when Gwinnett’s Jose Constanza went  2 for 3. Thompson also stole 3 bases (at 28 he’s in third place in the IL with no chance to catch up with Gwinett’s Durango’s 43, but maybe Indianapolis’ d’Arnaud’s 31).
  • When Roger Clemens stepped to the mound for his first game in a bunch of years pitching for the Sugarland Skeeters, in the batters’ box was none other than former Durham Bull Joey Gathright, now playing for the Bridgeport Bluefish. Gathright struck out.
  • The wild card race between the IronPigs and the PawSox continues to be very, very close.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Five W's Are Good

Season: 64-72; Home Stand: 5-3; Bulls v. Tides: 11-7
Home Games Left: 3

The Herald-Sun is reporting that Jeff Neimann’s pitching hand is OK after X-rays did not find a fracture. Fans were worried when they saw the ball hit Niemann and his very awkward, looping toss to Anderson at first base to end the inning. Niemann then met the Bulls trainer at the top of the dugout steps and disappeared into the clubhouse.

I haven’t been able to make many games of this next-to-last home stand, so it was fun to be at one of the better ones. Great to see the Bulls have a nice winning streak near the end of the season. 

As careful readers will know, I’m not the best judge of pitching talent. Nevertheless, it seems clear to me that even before his injury Niemann was not ready for prime time, unless he was working on specific issues without regard to the game. The first batter hit a home run. He gave up a walk in the 2nd and a single in the 3rd. The 4th was something of a mess with a single, double, walk, single, and sac fly scoring a couple of runs before he got the last out with two men on base. So far with the Bulls he’s gotten in 8⅓ innings, 17 hits, 3 BB, 4 Ks, 1 HR for an ERA of 7.56.

Fortunately, Ryan Reid, Frank De Los Santos, and Dane De La Rosa were on their games. For the next five innings they held the Tides to just 2 hits.

Meanwhile, the Tides’ young Zach Clark absolutely dominated the Bulls the first time through the order, but had trouble the second time through. In the 4th, two walks and a single got a run across (but then he struck out the next two batters). In the 5th, however, the Bulls got to him with the help of visiting major leaguer Sean Rodriguez, playing shortstop. His two-run double capped off a three-run inning, and that would be enough to win the game.

A glance at the International League hitting stats show just how tight the race for the batting title is. The Bulls’ Leslie Anderson ended the night leading the league at .313, but he’s only 1 percentage point in the lead. The key “lurker” on the list is the Bulls’ Rich Thompson at .305. No doubt this is going to go down to the wire. One of the players on the list, Mauro Gomez of the Pawtucket Red Sox, has been called up. That means his numbers are fixed. If everyone drops below .310, Gomez wins. Of course, after that Red Sox-Dodgers deal yesterday, maybe the entire PawSox team will get called up.

Outside the Game
  • In his column yesterday Adam Sobsey took a look at a couple of Bulls prospects for a September call-up: Stephen Vogt, Chris Gimenez, Leslie Anderson, Tim Beckham, Dane De La Rosa, and Cole Figueroa get profiled.
  • The Pawtucket Red Sox and the Lehigh Valley IronPigs are neck and neck for the wild card slot. Worth checking out fan blogs up that way, Bacon and Biscuits (Iron Pigs) and PawSox Heavy (PawSox).