Monday, February 24, 2014

Watch List Profiles, and More

Now that we've got our watch list up.  Let's troll around and see what's being said about players on the list.

Former Bulls broadcaster Neil Solondz has been busy interviewing several on the players on the list. Fascinating backgrounder on outfielder Kevin Kiermaier here. Young outfielder Mikie Mahtook is interviewed here. Catcher Luke Maile gets some radio time here (doesn't look like he's on the short list for the Bulls, yet). Pitcher Steve Geltz has some interesting things to say about his championship year with the Bulls here.

DRaysBay has an interesting profile of catcher Curt Casali here.

Pitcher Mike Montgomery thinks he might have gotten a handle on some mechanical issues as reported here.

Veteran infielder Jayson Nix notes some differences between Yankees and Rays spring training camps here.

The Process Report profiles Rays pitcher staff possibilities here and provides thumbnails of Brad Boxberger, Josh Lueke, and Juan Carlos Oviedo.

In another blog entry, the Process Report also takes a look at the infield and gives short profiles of Wilson Betemit and Logan Forsyth.

Odds and Ends:
  • Did you know that Babe Ruth hit his first professional home run in Fayetteville, North Carolina? You can look it up. It will be 100 years ago, on March 7, and the state is putting up a sign.
  • A couple of minor leaguers have filed a class action suit against major league baseball. Former Bull Dirk Hayhurst has an opinion (of course he does).

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Bull City Summer Exhibit Opens

As we’ve mentioned here a couple times, Bull City Summer was a project to capture a season at the DBAP and now they are beginning to show off their work beyond the world-wide web.

I've put a couple of their images up over the last few months, but I'm not going to do that this time. You'll have to go see for yourself.

We visited the exhibit today (Feb 23) and here are some thoughts: some trivial (what else would you expect from WDBB?), some that we hope will pique your interest enough to go take a look.

You don’t have to be a Durham Bulls fan or a fan of baseball to have a enriching experience. This show is simply solid artistry worthy of your time and attention.

Furthermore, even if you were a regular follower of Bull City Summer on the web, I’m here to tell you that the deficiencies of the web to convey visual/emotional information are made clear. You simply cannot match the impact of seeing these images in person by staring at a computer screen. Go see what the artist intended.

Nor should you wait for the book. It will be impossible for a book to do justice to most of these photographs. In fact, an argument can be made that book format simply isn’t the right way to present some of these works. And besides, if you live in the Triangle, it’s convenient and free. What a deal!

Some of the photos are simply stunning and go far beyond baseball in their emotional impact. In fact, although it might help that you’ve been to a baseball game or two in your life to appreciate the scenes, it probably is not necessary. These are deeply thoughtful images of an aspect of summer in Durham, North Carolina, surely the artists’ intention.

As for the trivial: the NC Museum of Art has two buildings the “East” and the “West” or, for folks who’ve been around for a while, the Old (East) and the New (West). The Bull City Summer show is in the East building (signs point the way once you get out of the parking lot). Once in the building, ask for directions. Photos are arranged by artist and take up a couple of galleries.

Players to Watch - 2014

I was asked to pull together my previous posts into one post that could be used to check all the guys I think we should be watching this spring. Here they are. Please note that some of these men have a good shot at making the Rays this year (but they have to get on to the 40-man first). Others may have contracts that let them "opt-out" at the end of spring trainings. And others will likely end up in Montgomery with Rays AA team, the Biscuits.

You will want to go to the original posts for stats and comments links: pitchers, catchers, and infielders/outfielders.

Jeff Beliveau*
Brad Boxberger*26RHPPadres/Tuscon
Alex Colome*25RHPRays
Josh Lueke*29RHPBulls/Rays
Mike Montgomery*23RHPBulls
Jake Odorizzi*24RHPBulls/Rays
Juan Carlos Oviedo*31RHP
C.J. Riefenhauser*24LHPBulls/Biscuits
Felipe Rivero*22LHPSingle-A
Enny Romero*23LHPBulls/Biscuits
Kirby Yates*27RHPBulls
Matt Andriese†23RHPPadres AAA
Santiago Garrido†23RHPRoyals AA
Steve Geltz†23RHPBulls
Merrill Kelly†25RHPBulls/Biscuits
Braulio Lara†25LHPBiscuits/Bulls
Adam Liberatore†27LHPBulls
Mark Lowe†31RHPAngels
Victor Mateo†24RHPBiscuits
Sam Runion†25RHPRoyals AA
Juan Sandoval†33RHPBulls/Biscuits
Mayo Acosta26CBiscuits
Curt Casali25CBiscuits
Luke Maile23CBowling Green (A)
Eddy Rodriguez28CPadres system
Roman Ali Solis26CPirates System
Tim Beckham*24InfBulls
Vince Belnome*26InfBulls
Hak Ju Lee*23InfBulls
Logan Forsyth*27InfPadres
Kevin Kiermaier*23OFRays/Bulls/Biscuits
Wilson Betemit†32InfOrioles system
Cole Figuroa†26InfBulls
Jayson Nix†31InfYankees
Ray Olmedo†32InfTwins AAA
Justin Christian†33OFCardinals AAA
James Darnell†27OFPadres AAA
Mikie Mahtook†24OFBiscuits
Jeremy Moore†26OFDodgers System
Jerry Sands†26OFPittsburgh System

* = on Tampa Bay Rays 40-man Roster
† = minor league contract with an invitation to spring training

Friday, February 21, 2014

Sunday, NC Museum of Art, Bull City Summer Opens, Be There!

Frank Hunter, BCS
If you are like me, you've been waiting months to take a look at the images created by that crowd of photographers last summer. Our day has come. Sunday.

Ivan Weiss, BCS

Friday, February 14, 2014

Getting Ready for Spring — Part 2: Catchers

A glance at the Rays 40-man shows two catchers on the list. They are going to need both of those guys. So, unlike any season that I can recall, the Bulls will be starting their season without a catcher who’s also on the 40-man. We see five catchers on the NRI list. If that seems like a lot, remember all those pitchers in camp. Somebody’s got to lead them through their daily routines and catch/warm them up once the games start.

Regular readers know that I’m very much an amateur at this business and I really don’t put much faith in my own predictions, but ...


Of those five catchers, one has worn a Bulls uniform. Mayo Acosta was an emergency call-up from A+ ball in 2012 and played in 9 games. Two, Casali and Maile, have never played AAA ball. And, not to put too fine a point on it, while Rodriguez and Solis both have 8 seasons of pro ball, neither of them have much AAA time.

The Rays dealt away three superb catchers from the Bulls last year (Vogt, Gimenez, and Albernaz). The current situation simply doesn’t look good at all. What puzzles me is that the Rays do such a good job picking pitchers, how come they don’t do better at finding guys to catch them?

Mayo Acosta26BiscuitsStatsNotes
Curt Casali25BiscuitsStatsOnly AA
Luke Maile23Bowling Green (A)StatsOnly A
Eddy Rodriguez28Padres systemStats47 AAA games
Roman Ali Solis26Pirates SystemStats41 AAA games

Update to Part 1

Two changes to the pitchers we need to keep an eye on. Just keep remembering the 40-man, NRI rubric. If they are a non-roster invitee they’ve got to get on the 40-man to play for the Rays (but are fair game for the Bulls). And they’ve got to get into the rotation/relief corp to stay with the Rays for the season opener. That said, the Rays traded catcher Jose Lobaton (and Felipe Rivero, who was on yesterday’s list) for an up-and-coming RHP Jake Karns from the Nationals system. [stats]. He could easily start the year either with the Biscuits (the Rays AA team over in Montgomery, Alabama, or with the Bulls).

Also the Rays have reportedly signed a veteran LHP Erik Bedard to a minor league deal. [stats]. As Bulls fans we should be skeptical of ever seeing Mr. Bedard. Yes, he signed a minor league deal, but that doesn’t mean he has to accept a minor league assignment at the end of spring training (it’s all in the fine print that we will never see). If he doesn’t make the Rays 25-man, but does slip into the 40-man, then the Bulls could have a left-handed starter, but don’t bet on it. Much more likely he has some sort of opt-out agreement.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Durham Bulls in the Spring — Part 1

That's ice hanging down from the camera!
DBAP Thursday Morning, 13 Feb 2014
Now, just what does a Bulls fan do when Spring Training starts? Stand by. WDBB is about to take a stab at telling you.

Pitchers and catchers report to the Rays camp in Port Charlotte, Florida tomorrow. We aren’t going to know who is on the Bulls’ roster until April 2nd. That means we’ve got a month and a half to speculate. Won’t that be fun?

Let’s start with some basics. We will assume that all of the 2014 Durham Bulls are to be found (at first) in the Tampa Bay Rays major league camp. Once Spring Training gets into full swing we will see 64 (or so) ballplayers in camp. How do we know that? Because that’s how the Rays do things. They have a 40-man roster (dictated by Major League Baseball) and they have published a list of Non-Roster Invitees that has 24 names on it. (40 + 24 = 64 — Take that, Mr. Hochheim! I am so going to graduate from 2nd grade!)

Of those 64 names, only 25 will be allowed to play baseball for the Tampa Bay Rays on opening day March 31. Most of the Rays media (including bloggers) are going to be focused on just who those 25 might be. We don’t really care about that, except as it has an effect on the other 39 guys — the source of the 2014 Bulls.

We want to keep an eye on guys on the 40-man who aren’t a “lock” to make the team. They include a mix of prospects and veterans. Just to have a start point, we can take a look at how Rays Index saw the roster a few days ago. But remember, this is a moving target. The Rays just traded Jose Lobaton, for example.

Pitchers first. What strikes me is the sheer number of pitchers at camp. By my count, there are 11 prospective Bulls on the 40 man list and another 10 on the NRI list. The Bulls usually carry 12-13 pitchers on their roster, so at least 8 of these guys won’t be coming to Durham at the end of March.

Looking at the table a couple of other things are interesting. This is a pretty young crowd.
Not a lot of lefties in the bunch. And 13 of them have already had some time with the Bulls. You might guess that previous AAA experience gives them quite an edge.

NamePosAge2013 TmStatsWDBB Cmts
Jeff Beliveau*LHP27BullsStatsNotes
Brad Boxberger*RHP26Padres/TusconStats
Alex Colome*RHP25RaysStatsNotes
Josh Lueke*RHP29Bulls/RaysStatsNotes
Mike Montgomery*RHP23BullsStatsNotes
Jake Odorizzi*RHP24Bulls/RaysStatsNotes
Juan Carlos Oviedo*RHP31Stats
C.J. Riefenhauser*LHP24Bulls/BiscuitsStatsNotes
Felipe Rivero*LHP22Single-AStats
Enny Romero*LHP23Bulls/BiscuitsStatsNotes
Kirby Yates*RHP27BullsStatsNotes
Matt Andriese†RHP23Padres AAAStats
Santiago Garrido†RHP23Royals AAStats
Steve Geltz†RHP23BullsStatsNotes
Merrill Kelly†RHP25Bulls/BiscuitsStatsNotes
Braulio Lara†LHP25Biscuits/BullsStatsNotes
Adam Liberatore†LHP27BullsStatsNotes
Mark Lowe†RHP31AngelsStats
Victor Mateo†RHP24BiscuitsStats
Sam Runion†RHP25Royals AAStats
Juan Sandoval†RHP33Bulls/BiscuitsStatsNotes

Note: * marks a player on the Rays' 40-man roster. The † designates a non-roster invitee.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Charlie's Back … and More

Charlie Montoyo at the old DAP, May 2011
Watching Durham Bulls Baseball has returned from doing battle with Google and Go Daddy with a domain name back in place and ready to go forth and write about our favorite baseball team in 2014.

The best news of the last couple of weeks is that Charlie Montoyo and crew are back!

Every season I worry that Mr. Montoyo is going to get hired away or promoted, but it didn’t happen this year and that is very, very good news for Bulls fans. Without a doubt, he is one of the best, if not the best, managers in minor league baseball. His record (scroll down to bottom of page) is simply spectacular with championships galore to his name. He has won the IL South Division championship 6 out of  his 7 years with the Bulls. And it is that title that, in the opinion of WDBB, marks the quality of the team and the management for a year.

Could it be that the Rays recognize his contributions to the system and prefer he stay in Durham? And compensate him accordingly? We can only hope so.

We should not overlook either Neil Allen or Dave Myers. They are coming back as well. Neither of them could be considered chatty, at least I don’t recall more than the few cryptic comments to the press over the years. Nevertheless, you can’t argue with their results.

Other news:
  • I could not be more appreciative of the Bulls’ participation in an anti-bullying campaign. Just a terrific way to leverage Wool E. Bull’s “star power” to a very, very important cause. Great idea! Thank you!
  • Alex Torres, about whom we have written a great deal over the years, most recently here, is off to the San Diego Padres. Last year he seemed to find himself as a reliever. We can expect to see at least a couple of the folks he was traded for this season.