Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Bulls At Midseason

In the International League a season consists of 144 games. Last night’s game was the exact mid-point for the Durham Bulls. Seems early doesn’t it? Well, in comparison to the major league baseball, it is early. The majors play more games and they play on a much more leisurely schedule. Today, for example, the Bulls’ parent club is in Washington, DC to play only their 67th game.

Triple-A ballplayers simply work harder, all chasing the dream of at least a September call-up.

As we all know, this isn’t the Bulls’ best year for a lot of reasons. Can we hope for something like stability and maybe some better starting pitching for the second half of the season? I’m a notoriously poor predictor, but my best guess is that we can look forward to improved hitting as the season progresses, but our pitchers are just going to have to make the best of it.

To get another look at the Bulls in mid-season I checked back on game 72 of 2011. It was played against the Buffalo Bisons at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. On WDBB I took the occasion to let off a rant about the Bulls uniform jerseys. As an indicator of the influence this blog has, the Bulls are still wearing those jerseys and I still can’t read the numbers.

The box score provides an interesting insight into Triple-A baseball and this year’s Bulls. If you click through, or check the lineup below, you will see that none of the position players and only one of the pitchers for Game 72 of 2011 is on the Bulls 2012 roster.

Desmond Jennings*
Ray Olmedo
Brandon Guyer*
Dan Johnson
Russ Canzler
Jose Lobaton*
Robinson Chirinos*
J.J. Furmaniak
Omar Luna*
  Dirk Hayhurst
  Rob Delaney
  R.J. Swindle
  Brandon Gomes*
  Jake McGee* 
* Still in Rays system

(Note: The Bulls won the game 9-5 on doubles by Chirinos, Jennings, Guyer, and Furmaniak; a triple by Olmedo; and home runs by Lobaton and Johnson. Some of the same sort of flash we saw last night, but has otherwise been absent in 2012.)

The list also points out some of the bad luck within the Rays system for 2012. Among those who played in game 72 last year, seven are still in the Rays system. However, four of those seven have been on or are on the disabled list. One is out for the year (Guyer) and another (Chirinos) hasn’t been heard from since Spring Training. Omar Luna is down in Montgomery with the Biscuits.

These are, of course, not the only players on the roster a year ago and a few of those are still with the Bulls. I can only remember Leslie Anderson and pitchers Ryan Reid and Alex Torres. Maybe more, but no other names come to mind. Otherwise the Bulls have had essentially a complete turnover from 2011. The stability is in the staff: Montoyo, Allen, Myers, Sandoval, and Trainor.

Another mid-season thought is to take a look at this year’s candidates for the WDBB’s Moonlight Graham Award. That award is given to the player with the least amount of time in a Bulls uniform. Last year’s winners are here, along with the key criteria for selection. So far, it looks like Mayo Acosta at 9 games and 24 plate appearances is the leading candidate for the position player, but I have to think someone will pass through with less time than that. Among the pitchers, it Adam Liberatore’s one inning could be a lock unless he comes back from Montgomery and gets in some more innings.

Lastly, a chart (of course). Here’s where the Bulls stand in the South Division  of the International League at mid-season.

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