Season: 44-41; Trip: 0-1
Wrap, Box, Charlotte Observer
Did the chaos outside the foul lines cross over into to being between the lines yesterday?
The Rays lost two games in Kansas City, 9-5 and 7-1, and the Bulls were crushed in Charlotte, 17-6. In their games the Rays used a couple of pitchers just arrived from Durham. But that’s just the visible signs of turmoil.
Since the first of July, just seven days ago, we’ve seen more than 13 transactions affecting Bulls (134+ on the year). And that doesn’t count Preston Guilmet who, after getting a save in the first Bulls home win in a looooong time, was DFA’d the next day. Or Everett Teaford, who was called up, pitched in both Rays games, and DFA’d immediately after. Or the first baseman who isn’t going to show up in Durham because he was claimed off waivers.
Every single one of the six, count ‘em, six(!) pitchers who threw for the Bulls last night (we won’t count the two position players), have been on the carousel back and forth from the Rays to the Bulls to the Rays this year. Of the 10 pitchers on the mound for the Rays in KC for those two games, six have a 2015 Durham Bulls jersey with their name on it.
The Rays have the reputation of being very smart at gaming the system. But the cracks are showing. Who is taking care of the players themselves or trying to create a sense of team solidarity? What must it be like to never know who’s going to be on the field with you? Or where you will be playing?
Last night the Bulls infield had seven errors, a record on the year. The shortstop (Tim Beckham's first time this year), third base, and catcher committed two errors each. Second base just one. The catcher, Luke Maile, also got thrown out of the game in the 7th, apparently for pointing out to the home plate ump that he was being a complete ass for calling a ball based on a time violation in a 12-2 (the score at the time) game.
Vince Belnome, who hasn’t played at all in a couple of weeks, played three positions — DH, pitcher (3 runs, 1 earned, 2/3 of the 8th inning), and then swapped off to play first base while starting first baseman J.P. Arencibia pitched for the last out, giving up two more runs. Why position players? Well, the Bulls didn't have a starter because the Rays needed one since for some mysterious reason a postponed game meant ... whatever that could have meant ... got me. So we got a parade of relievers doing an inning or so each. And not doing all that well, to include giving up two grand slams.
Yes, the game was a disaster all around. But the larger question is, why?
Would not the Bulls, and the Rays, be better served by just sucking it up a bit in the interest of reducing chaos? That 134+ transactions so far this year is chaos incarnate.
For example, when the Monday game in Kansas City got postponed for a double header on Tuesday, did that really call for a starting pitcher shuffle that blew a hole that will last more than a week in the Bulls starting rotation to no apparent advantage to the Rays?
I want to like the Rays, I really do, because they have given us a terrific baseball team for most of the last several years. But this year I have this persistent image of some unshaven youngster sitting in a mildewed Florida “lanai” with the rulebook in one hand and a couple of computers (one just for airline schedules) nearby creating a “perfect” model of how to have 25 numbers on a roster. But those numbers are people, and even if each individual move makes sense in isolation, the chaotic pattern is hurting the whole idea of a team. It’s all tactics, no strategy.
The Rays can, and should, do better by their fans, by Durham Bulls fans, and, most of all, the players in their system. Sit back and think about it for a minute. When the chaos outside the lines starts showing up inside the lines you’re in trouble. Give some thought to the value of at least attempting to create some stability instead of gaming the system just because you can.