Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Week 16: Tied for First; Bull Durham Book Out

The Durham Bulls ended the All-Star week with a three-game sweep of the Norfolk Tides. That took them to a tie for first place. Notable was a very nice come-from-behind victory and the debut of phenom Taj Bradley. The stage is set for this week's head-to-head with the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, the Philadelphia Phillies AAA franchise. 

Geek stuff: No big change in the basic stats for the week. 


This is a big deal. These next six games are the only games the Bulls and the IronPigs will play this year, thanks to this rather bizarre schedule the International League has dictated. The IronPigs are on a 2-game win streak, the Bulls are on a 4-game streak. Someone will end up unhappy tonight.

The Bulls appear to have an edge in most categories except defense. The IronPigs look to be about the best in the League in that category.

Bull Durham

A book about my (our?) favorite movie is out. Ron Shelton's book, The Church of Baseball, is getting solid reviews. And a nice story from my friend Josh Shaffer over at the N&O. I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but it appears to have a ton of nifty trivia. A must-read for me.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

The Durham Bulls at the All-Star Break

 The Durham Bulls arrived at the All-Star break tied for 2nd place in the International League East. They've played 90 games and have 60 games left in the regular season. They wrapped up week 15 with a 3-3 split against the Gwinnett Strippers. 

I have to mention the pitiful attendance at Gwinnett. There were only 1,910 paid (meaning a lot fewer actually there) for a near-perfect game on a Sunday by Durham's pitchers. Those who go far back enough (not me) to lament the Braves holding Richmond, Virginia hostage in the location negotiations way back when have got to be muttering, "I told you so," to both the mayor of Richmond and the Atlanta Braves. 

Geek stuff: The Bulls' .764 OPS is down slightly from the previous week, but they still hold the 2nd best OPS in the IL East. Their team ERA of 4.22 is a slight improvement and they are also 2nd best in that stat. Their WHIP is 1.35 and that is also a slight improvement, but that ranks 5th in the IL East.

Relief pitcher ERA is trending downward, a very good thing to see. 

Tampa Bay Rays

How about their big daddies playing in that bandbox by the bay? Not too bad. The Yankees are, obviously, running away with the division, but the Rays have made a nice run up into second place in the division and to first place in the wild card. The striking thing about the last couple of weeks was the surge by the Baltimore Orioles. The falling off by the Red Sox was, of course, welcome by Rays fans, even if not many of them seem to like going to the games.


The Bulls have a short 3-game visit with the Norfolk Tides starting Friday, July 22. The Bulls appear to have an advantage, but hard to say since we don't have much information on either team's recent transactions. Do have to notice that the Tides' defense could use a lot of work. They are giving away almost an unearned run per game.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Charlie Montoyo Leaves Toronto


Charlie Montoyo, May 9, 2011, Back to the DAP

Charlie Montoyo, my all-time favorite Durham Bulls manager was dismissed by the bosses in Toronto after what seemed to me to be a fairly short bad spell of games. Probably more to it than that. 
Stories here, here, here.

Charlie Montoyo, May 2013

Who knows what happens now. Working for billionaires and managing a crowd of millionaires has got to be tough. With the Bulls, his job was very different. It was to hone the skills of the youngsters in his care and, secondarily by very successfully, win games. He did a very, very good job of that for plenty of years and championships. A search on this blog will surely turn up a bunch of stories.

Here's hoping Charlie and his family the very best.

Monday, July 11, 2022

Week 14: Bulls Split Series; Roster Turmoil

The Durham Bulls split their series with the Memphis Redbirds and finished in a three-way tie for first place in the International League East (Jacksonville and Lehigh Valley). Given the extraordinary roster turmoil of the week, that 3-3 series is pretty good. 

On just one day four players were called up to the Tampa Bay Rays (Jonathan Aranda, Luke Raley, Josh Fleming, and Phoenix Sanders) and two were "activated" (Diego Infante and Calvin Faucher). Earlier we heard that Brandon Lowe is on his way for a rehab assignment. Vidal Brujan is on his way down from Tampa Bay. New guy Joe Wieland showed up, as did Carlos Garcia

You can't tell the players without a program — which you can't get no more at the DBAP without a cellphone.

Statistics for the week were OK. Starting pitchers are doing just fine, but the relief crew is not. Hitters had a big day on Friday's 13-0 blowout, but overall the OPS grew only a few points (.768 to .774). Nevertheless, the Bulls are one of the best hitting teams in the league (before losing their best hitter in Aranda). 

International League (and Triple-A) Playoffs

I guess I wasn't paying attention earlier in the year, but Patrick Kinas mentioned that playoffs will be going on out in Las Vegas in late September and early October. First, there will be a one-game playoff between the IL East winner and the IL West winner. Then there will be a similar game between the Pacific Coast League division winners. Finally, a national championship game on Oct 2. A few comments just for the record. A single game is no way to decide a "championship" in baseball. What happened to the Governors' Cup? It was proudly displayed in the DBAP trophy case for several years (and on several of my t-shirts). No mention.

Matchup: Bulls v Strippers

For a team that is in 6th place in the IL West, the Strippers/Bulls matchup is much closer statistically than I'd expect. Their pitching numbers and defensive numbers are better than the Bulls. Could be some good games.

After Sunday the 17th, the minor leagues shut down for the All-Star break. The Bulls are back at the DBAP on Friday the 22nd for a three-game set against Norfolk, then a 6-game set against Lehigh Valley.

Monday, July 4, 2022

Weeks 12 & 13: Bulls Have Solid Road Trip

 The Bulls come back home in a 4-way tie for first place in the International League East, with another team only ½ game back. [standings] They were 7-5 on their road trip to Jacksonville and Charlotte. 

Could it have been even better? Yes. A couple of Tampa Bay Rays players are among the ranks of vaccine deniers apparently. They were not allowed to travel to Toronto since Canada has the common sense policy of not letting folks visit who aren't vaccinated. That meant that the Rays cleaned out the Bulls' bullpen during the Charlotte visit. Mostly it didn't seem to matter, but last night's 12-inning marathon stretched them to a breaking point.

The Bulls' stats are looking good, with the notable exception of the relief crew.  Those guys saw a truly ugly rise last week. That will change, I hope, when the folks come back from Canada.

Matchup: Bulls v Redbirds

The Bulls have already played 12 games against the Memphis Redbirds this year. Six games here in Durham back in April and six games in Memphis a month ago. In April the Bulls got their head handed to them winning only one game of the six. In June in Memphis, things went only a little bit better as they won two games and lost four. Not to get too geeky about this, but that means of the 36 games the Bulls have lost this year 25% have been to the Memphis Redbirds. Just sayin'. This week could be a big deal.

Another oddity, in addition to playing an out-of-division team 18 times this year, is the Monday game today. The Bulls were playing ball until 11:00 last night and then traveled home. This is going to be a challenging series.

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Game 75: Bulls in First Place!


click for larger image

All is right with the world! 

The Durham Bulls have ascended to their rightful position as the leading team in the International League East. What a terrific recovery. 

Back on May 11, they were hovering around 8 games below .500 and that was the worst record in the league. Now at mid-season, they are 8 games above .500 and are a half-game ahead of everyone in the East. Well done! 

It has not been easy and this five-team cluster is likely to stay that way for the next several weeks. Not helping were those Tampa Bay relievers who were not vaccinated and unable to travel to Toronto, leading to a severe depletion of the Bulls bullpen (Bulls' relievers have given up 20 runs in the last three games!). 

Nevertheless, this is a remarkable achievement. Congratulations to the Bulls!

Here's hoping for a great 4th of July for all of us!