Friday, August 1, 2014

A Win, Some Rain, a New Infielder

Season: 59-51; Trip: 1-1

Alex Colome looked good after 10 days rest. Belnome, Lee, Nix, and Mahtook had 2-hit games.

They will resume the postponed game as beginning of a double header (7-inning) at 6:05 today. Mike Montgomery had given up a 2-run homer in the 2nd, but rain was coming down much of the game as the teams spent two hours mostly sitting in dugouts.

David Price and Nick Franklin

The big news yesterday was the trade of former Bull David Price to the Detroit Tigers. For a look at the deal from the Rays point of view here are a couple of links. Over at Rays Index, Cork Gaines seems to think the deal makes sense. The Process Report weighs in here. And Robbie Knopf at Rays Colored Glasses has his thoughts.

We here at WDBB don’t much care about either the Smyly or Adames piece of the trade. What we want to know is how the deal will affect the Durham Bulls’ chances for at least a South Division title if not another Governors’ Cup. Since it looks like a one-for-one for starting pitchers down in St. Petersburg, the key Durham Bulls consideration is the young middle infielder from the Mariners organization Nick Franklin

The 23 year-old, switch-hitting Franklin had a lot of time with the Mariners last year (102 games), but only 17  this year. He has impressive numbers in his 75 games with the Tacoma Rainiers, .294/.392/.455. He has split his time between 2B and SS. So there’s no question that his bat will bring a lot to the Bulls. His OPS ranks near the very top of the Bulls, in the statistical company of Mikie Mahtook and Jeremy Moore. [stats]

However, a lot depends on the Rays assessment of where he stands on his development path. Don’t forget that Cole Figueroa is still sitting on the Rays’ bench and Franklin certainly seems like a bat the Rays could use. Franklin could go to the Rays sooner rather than later. Is he going to take up a 40-man slot? Don’t know. [Update, 10:30: Yes.]

But let’s assume he comes to the Bulls. Who will leave? And where? And what serves the Bulls' best interests? Obviously, the weakest link in the Bulls infield is Hak-Ju Lee. The question with Lee would be what would help him the most, seeing more Triple-A pitching, or spending some time in AA? I’d bet on sticking with the Bulls. That leaves Jayson Nix, Mike Fontenot, Ray Olmedo, and Robby Price (but don’t forget Figueroa and someday, someday, Tim Beckham will be back). Faced with similar choices this year, it has always been Robby Price who's been pushed off the bus.

I think we’ll know pretty soon and you can be sure that the decision will have nothing to do with the Bulls Governors’ Cup prospects. There’s a reason the Rays wanted Franklin. We just don’t know exactly what that is yet.

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