Friday, November 21, 2014

Hemstitching: Moves Continue Shredding 2014 Roster

A bunch of moves yesterday, and some from a week or two earlier, are putting the finishing touches on shredding the 2014 Durham Bulls. Happens every year. Part of being a minor league fan.
  • To go back in time a bit: Early in the month Jerry Sands, who started the 2014 season with the Bulls, got called up, then got hurt, has been designated for assignment (DFA’d). Reportedly he will not be accepting an assignment to Triple-A. 
  • Also DFA’d was Vince Belnome, who apparently will be taking a Triple-A contract.
  • Adam Liberatore, a star of the Bulls’ bullpen, was traded to the LA Dodgers. Too bad. Liked watching him pitch. 
  • Cole Figueroa was DFA’d by the Rays to make room on their 40-man. No word yet on whether or not he will be taking a minor league contract. Hope so. Like him a lot. He makes a difference as his stats show.
  • Mikie Mahtook and Matt Andriese were added to the Rays 40-man to protect them from the Rule 5 draft. For a non-geek explanation of the Rule 5 draft check this out. They earned their place on the roster with their performance last year. Congrats.
  • Neal Allen, the Bulls pitching coach for a really long time, has been interviewed by the Twins for a pitching coach job. I think he had a lot to do with Bulls (and Rays) success over the last several years. Would hate to see him go.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Bulls Below the Border

For some guys baseball is a year-round profession. After a few weeks off at the end of the season they are off to the Winter Leagues. I’ve scrolled through the rosters and found some current and former Bulls who are playing ball as we speak, including a couple we haven’t seen in a long, long time. If I've missed someone important to you, let me know.

Robbie Knopf over at Rays Colored Glasses is tracking and writing about the Winter Leagues in more detail. Worth keeping an eye on that blog.
  • Pitcher Winston Abreu, a WDBB favorite from several years ago (2009 and 2010), has had a couple of innings with the Toros de Este of the Dominican Winter League. 
  • Catcher Mayo Acosta is also playing for the Toros del Este in the Dominican Winter League. Not doing all that well in 10 games so far. 2014 Bulls season profiled here.
  • Infielder Wilson Betemit is playing for the Giganantes de Cibao, also in the Dominican Winter League. Doing OK over 16 games. 2014 Bulls profile here. Think, but don't know for sure, that he's now a free agent.
  • Pitcher Merrill Kelly has been in a starting role for the Leones del Escogidos in the Dominican Winter League. Not doing all that well, yet. A key player in the 2014 Bulls crew.
  • Pitcher Josh Lueke is pitching in relief for the Toros de Este of the Dominican Winter League. 2014 Bulls stats here. Lueke also a free agent now.
  • Infielder Ray Olmedo is playing for the Aguilas del Zulia in the Venezuela Winter League.
  • Reliever Jim Patterson, who had just 10 innings with the Bulls in 2014, is pitching for the Gigantes de Carolina in Puerto Rico’s Roberto Clemente League.
  • Pitcher Enny Romero, not a favorite of WDBB last year, is pitching in relief for the Leones de Escogido of the Dominican Winter League.
  • Catcher Roman Ali Solis is with the Tomoteros de Culiacan in Mexico’s Pacific League and playing a lot of baseball. 
  • Pitcher Jake Thompson has started three games for the Tiburones de la Guaira in the Venezuelan Winter League. A help last year.
  • Outfielder Jon Weber, another WDBB favorite from history (2007-2009), has 6 doubles, a triple, and 6 home runs for the Mayos de Naojoa of the Mexican Pacific League. Nice to see Jon still in baseball. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Change at the Top, and More

What does it mean to the Durham Bulls that the top of the Tampa Bay Rays leadership team jumped ship?

Hard to say.

One of the oddities of the Tampa Bay Rays has been the stability of their front office and coaching staff. But the #1 front office guy, Andrew Friedman, and the manager, Joe Maddon, have moved on.  Friedman is off to California and manager Joe Maddon has signed on with the Chicago Cubs.

Friedman was “in the house” at the DBAP once or twice each season and was thought to keep a very close eye on the Bulls’ roster. Certainly someone up there was finding the veterans to fill out the team each season. And grabbing guys when the Rays needed help.

As far as I know the only time that Joe Maddon was ever at the DBAP was that exhibition game a few years back.

We are pleased to pass on that Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo is on the long list of folks to be interviewed for the Maddon job. However, he has lots of competition. The current Rays bench coach, Dave Martinez, would seem to be a leading candidate, which could open the door for Charlie to move into that position.

For Durham Bulls fanatics, note that another candidate on the long list, Kevin Cash, spent a good bit of time in a Durham Bulls uniform back in 2005 and 2006. He is coming into the interview from a coaching job in the Cleveland organization.

So, what does it mean? It could mean that for the first time in a very long while we will see some change in the leadership of the Bulls. We always see a lot of change among the players, but we’ve been blessed with a very stable managing/coaching crew for several years. It could stay the same, but ...

Outside the game —
  • Robby Price has been released. As noted earlier, he was a valuable guy last year, but often an odd man out.
  • Jerry Sands, the outfielder who started with the Bulls last year with some extraordinary numbers, went up to the Rays and then had a season-ending injury, has been designated for assignment. Power hitter. As regular readers know, we are far from being expert on the DFA process. He could end up with the Bulls in 2015, but other teams could want him.
  • Vince Belnome has also been DFA’d to make room on the Rays 40-man. Again, hard to say if he will be back. We like Mr. Belnome, but have to recognize that 2014 was not a good year. Maybe 2015.