Showing posts with label Nunez. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nunez. Show all posts

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Escape the Heat

Season: 39-45; Trip: 1-0; Bulls v. Bisons: 5-0; Standings

Alex Torres had a solid outing and Bulls hitters went nuts, notably ex-Buffalo Bisons Chris Gimenez and Jesus Feliciano. With a game day starting temperature of only 84° it was a good day to be in Buffalo (it was 102° down here). Twelve runs on 16 hits with no errors? Great day!

Anyone keeping score at home must have had fun trying to deal with scoring one inning when thirteen batters come to the plate (the 5th) and score nine runs. With a single and a home run in the same inning, that has to be one of catcher Chris Gimenez’s personal bests.

Worries? Well, Josh Leuke and Jhonny Nunez did give back five runs. Their ERAs have ballooned up to 6.57 where they are tied for the worst ERAs of any Bulls relievers.

Outside the game —
  • Matt Buschmann was sent back to Montgomery. 
  • Chris Archer may start today, but keep an eye on Tampa Bay. Hellickson was injured last night.
  • Leslie Anderson came off the DL and may play in today’s 1 o’clock game.
  • The Bulls have scored 47 runs in five games against Buffalo!
  • Charlie Montoyo isn’t the only manager who’s hands are tied by the big league club. See the Buffalo News article that explains some of the reasons behind the 5th inning disaster last night.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Nice Good-Bye


Season: 20-29; Home Stand: 5-5; Bulls vs. Tides: 2-4; Standings
Box, Wrap, Herald-Sun

So, you’re a Bulls fan. The score is tied at the bottom of the 10th. Brandon Gomes has already pitched two superb innings. But things really don’t look all that great for the Bulls in the 10th. After Henry Wrigley (.262) leading off, the next players coming to bat in the inning are Hideki Matsui (.121), Jose Lobaton (.000!), Juan Miranda (.186), and Reid Brignac (.141). That is not a promising array of hitters. Probably a good idea to keep Jhonny Nunez warming up.

But, who said the gods of baseball don’t have a sense of humor? Wrigley grounds out, but then Matsui hits a single (Feliciano comes in to run for him). As Jose Lobaton is striking out (still .000), Jesus Feliciano is stealing second base. Juan Miranda hits a single, sliding into first base, and Feliciano moves to third base. Miranda gets to second on indifference and Brignac hits a perfect, up-the-middle line drive.

Outside the game
  • Lots of folks think that Matsui won’t be back and I’m guessing they are right. But for now his entourage is hitting the road for Norfolk, Indianapolis, and Louisville.
  • Am I the only one who is mildly irritated by Jose Lobaton not wearing stockings? Doesn't that amount to him thumbing his nose at the Bulls and their uniform policy? And Bulls fans for that matter? I know, he's a major leaguer down on rehab, but why not try to fit in with the rest of the team? We liked him as a Bull. Now I'm not so sure I like him as a Ray.
  • Looks like former, and until yesterday likely future, Durham Bull Brandon Guyer is out for the season.
  • As various Rays get healthy, some speculation on who’s going to be leaving the team for Durham. See commentary RaysIndex and DRaysBay.
  • A Rays blogger checks in from Afghanistan.

Friday, May 25, 2012

One Hit; 12 Ks


Season: 19-29; Home Stand: 4-5; Bulls vs. Tides: 1-4; Standings
Box, Wrap, Herald-Sun

All the stories essentially point out that the Bulls just barely avoided being no-hit and the pitcher Chris Archer had 12 Ks. For example, from the Bulls’ Wrap:
The Tides’ near no-hitter masked Chris Archer’s dominant performance. The Clayton, NC native Archer struck out a career high 12 batters, just one K shy of tying the Bulls single season mark. He threw 6.0 innings, allowing 5 hits and 3 runs that were all earned. He was pulled in favor of Ryan Reid after throwing 97 pitches.
I don't want to diminish Archers' achievement, but let’s not get too carried away here. Let’s take a look at the three innings before the tarp was pulled on the field for a rain delay (and I went home and watched the finish of the game on television). In the 1st inning a walk, single, and hit batter filled the bases before Archer struck out two to end the inning. The 2nd inning was very nice with 2 Ks and a fly out. But then in the 3rd a single, walk, K, single (1 RBI), triple (2 RBI) put three runs across before the 2 Ks. So, yes, he can obviously throw strikes and he was throwing them at 96-97 mph at the end of this outing. You know, and this is pure guesswork, what would happen if he stopped trying to strike everyone out?

In the meantime, no Bulls were hitting the ball and almost none were getting on base until a 9th inning flub let a runner on and Matt Mangini got the Bulls only hit of the night that loaded the bases. Leslie Anderson hit into a double play to end the game.

Oh yeah, Jhonny Nunez made the trek back from Hudson Valley to come on in relief in the 9th. He gave up a home run, but looked none the worse for wear for his travel.

Outside the game
  • Just for the record, the reason that Nunez was able to return from exile was that the Texas Rangers claimed John Gaub off waivers opening up the roster spot. Gaub has been sent to the Rangers' Triple-A club, the Round Rock Express.
  • The move to Pennsylvania has not gone well for Kyle Hudson.
  • But the fellow for whom he was traded, Rich Thompson, has been the subject of several articles, including this one. [thanks, DRR]
  • Here’s an interesting piece on how the Bulls have been coping with Hideki Matsui’s presence. An online search implies that the Hampton Roads/Norfolk folks are oblivious to Godzilla’s arrival on Saturday. Do they know something we don’t? Is Godzilla going to Boston with the Rays? 
  • As I write this endurance runner Diane Van Deren is making her way around Falls Lake on her trek from Clingman’s Dome to the the Outer Banks.
  • For something really outside the game, what about those olympic table tennis trials that were held in Cary?

Monday, May 21, 2012

A Simple Game



Season: 18-27; Home Stand: 3-3; Bulls vs. Knights: 3-7; Standings
Box, Wrap, Herald-Sun

Regarding Saturday’s game: Former Bull Alex Cobb went to St. Pete and won a game for Tampa Bay; Montgomery Biscuit Shane Dyer came to Durham and did not.

But let’s talk about Sunday ...

Three home runs, terrific pitching, a 6-0 shutout. This really is a simple game isn’t it?

When Matt Torra took a couple of his warm-up pitches from the stretch I have to admit that I was worried. But it seemed justified. In the first two innings he pitched exactly four pitches from a full windup. However, at the end of those two innings the Knights had not scored a run and had left three runners on base. After that, for the first time since his great game against Louisville on April 30, the 2011 edition of Matt Torra was in the DBAP. Welcome back!

Then John Gaub got his first real test of the season. Gaub has been used for extremely short relief so far this year. Last night he was in there for three full innings and earned a save (again demonstrating I don’t understand the rules. How do you earn a save in a 6-0 shutout?)

Meanwhile infielder Cole Figueroa got his first home run with the Durham Bulls, new catcher Mayo Acosta got his first home run with the Durham Bulls, and Leslie Anderson got his third. As the Herald Sun’s Steve Wiseman wrote:
Sunday felt like old times for the Durham Bulls and their fans at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Other RBI were recorded by Henry Wrigley on a double and a Hedeki Matsui sacrifice fly.

About Hideki Matsui:

First, let me say what a great pleasure it is to have him and his entourage at the DBAP. I don’t think we’ll see its like again. And I don’t think we’ll see a player quite like Matsui here again either. What he is showing us, however, is the tiny differences the years bring to even the greatest talent. He may be only 5% less than the player he once was, but that is a difference. So far he is 3 for 31 in 6 games (.143/,174/.190). He has hit two balls with authority and both were caught. There’s an elegance and smoothness to all his play, but my guess is that it’s a notch below last year, and well below his prime.

For example, he was on first with a single when Henry Wrigley hit his double in the 3rd inning. His run from first to home to score did not have a hitch and his slide was perfect. He wasn’t some lumbering, knee-broken catcher. On the other hand, with even a slightly better throw from centerfield that hadn’t pulled the catcher up the line, he would have been caught.

The chatter is that he may be heading for the Rays as soon as this weekend. Looking at it from the perspective of a Bulls fan, he may be filling the stands, but he’s not helping the Bulls win games. Sorry to say that. He appears to be a great gentleman and a great ballplayer and maybe he just needs to work on his timing more. I hope so.

Outside the game
  • Former Bull, switch-hitting catcher Jose Lobaton is rehabbing with the Montgomery Biscuits. He’s appeared in four games so far. In normal times he might be coming through Durham. But yet another catcher left the game early in Tampa Bay last night (Stephen Vogt put on the gear), so he might just head for the Rays when he’s ready. Too bad. I like watching Lobaton play.
  • Bulls RHP Bryan Augenstein is off the disabled list. Bryan who? you may ask. That would be understandable. Augenstein pitched one game for the Bulls back on April 7. Did pretty well, but went on the DL. Jhonny Nunez has been “reassigned to Hudson Valley.” Note to new readers: the Hudson Valley Renegades is a real baseball team in the Rays system. However, what this means is that Nunez may be hanging out with the Bulls, but he can’t pitch until he gets assigned back to Durham. In other words, the Bulls are gaming the system. More power to them.
  • If I’m reading the plots correctly Dian Van Deren came off the Parkway and made in almost to Pilot Mountain in one day! On foot! I know it was sort of downhill, but, Wow!


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bulls Help Chiefs to a Win

Box, Wrap
Season: 12-22; Trip: 1-2; Standings

When the pitchers give up 11 walks and two critical errors are made at third base, it’s hard to win the game. Even if not every one of those free passes had scored, there was the other 15 hits (4 doubles) that helped. Put another way, pitching was a problem last night.

Alex Cobb left the game in the second inning “due to illness”. No further information is available yet. And illness is very plausible. He certainly wasn’t himself. I’m not sure what John Gaub’s and Jhonny Nunez’ excuses were.

Gaub had been doing just fine (well, maybe OK is a better term) this year in his very brief appearances. He usually is in for only one or two batters. Last night he faced 8 batters, walked 5 of them, and gave the Chiefs two free runs. At the beginning of the inning the Chiefs had been ahead 8-2 and Charley Montoyo will, on occasion, leave a pitcher hanging in the breeze apparently to see how he responds.

But those two runs made it 10-2. The huge Bulls comeback in the top of the 8th, six runs on a Mangini grand slam and Feliciano double, still left the Bulls two runs behind.

No matter. Nunez gave up 5 runs on 4 hits and two walks (his ERA ballooned from 5.20 to 6.27 on the evening).

Outside the game:
  • Something we see very little at AAA level is defensive shifting. That’s partially due to lack of data. But the Rays are getting a lot of attention these days for their shift tactic.
  • No word yet on whether or not the Bulls will get anyone to fill in for Brandon Guyer. Worrisome since this umpiring crew threw a Chiefs player and their manager out of the game last night. That’s four ejections in the last two games.
Chart(s)

How About Them Rays ?


This is the season’s running total of runs scored minus runs allowed. If you crank that through the Pythagorean Expectation formula you see that they are doing a good bit better than would be “expected.” In general, deviation from the expectation is attributed to luck and relief pitching. The Rays are first place in the American League East. The trend is a 10 game moving average. We last looked at the Bulls about a week ago.

How About Them Biscuits?


The Biscuits (the Rays AA team over in Montgomery, Alabama) are right at their “expectation”. They are in 4th place in the Southern League’s South Division.

Monday, May 7, 2012

End With a Win


Season: 11-20; Home Stand: 5-5; Standings
Box(1), Box (2)Wrap, Herald-Sun, Indy Week

At four o’clock Sunday the Bulls picked up where they left off in the rain on Saturday night, this time with Jhonny Nunez pitching and the Bulls still behind by three runs. Nunez left the bases loaded for Alexander Torres in the 6th by walking three batters, but Torres got a dribbler for a 1-3 putout to end the inning. In the 7th inning, after two outs, Torres loaded the bases himself on three walks before getting a comebacker end that inning. He ran out of luck in the 8th when two more of his BBs came in on two hits. He stayed on in the 9th and managed a 1-2-3 inning.

I’m sure that Mr. Torres is as much a puzzle to himself as he is to everyone close to him (and those of us up in the stands). So far there isn’t any hint that being moved to the bullpen makes a difference, although he’s only made two appearances. He was left in after those very messy 7th and 8th innings. Was that to save the bullpen or Torres’ confidence?

The seven-inning second game was much less frustrating. New guy Lance Pendleton had five solid innings. A terrific right field to third base throw by Jesus Feliciano in the 7th inning saved at least one run, possibly the game, for the Bulls, because Ryan Reid was not his usual sharp self.

Have to mention Craig Albernaz’ work in this game. First of all, there should be no doubt that he’s one of the best defenders in AAA. He showed that last night with a bullet to second base that caught Xavier Avery trying to take advantage of a slight bobble (could it have been intentional?). And he just has style. Ryan Reid came in with two outs in the 6th to face Norfolk’s Jamie Hoffman. Reid got to a 3-2 count and Hoffman fouled off the next pitch. On the next pitch Albernaz jumped up and began running toward the bench before the ump even called the strike and signaled the out. That’s style. Read on to see how well he can bunt.

This year’s Bulls need small ball innings like the 3rd. In that inning Jeff Salazer singled, moved to second base on a ground out sacrifice bunt by Albernaz, got to third on a wild pitch, and came home on a sac fly by Cole Figueroa. The home run by Matt Mangini an inning later was the difference in the game, but the little stuff is what’s going to keep the Bulls in games this year.

Really nice to end the home stand on a win. Here's hoping this road trip is better than the last.

Outside the game
  • As mentioned yesterday, Cesar Ramos is off to the Rays to see if he can help there. Brandon Gomes will join the Bulls sometime later this week.
  • There’s a Durham Bulls connection to that 17-inning Orioles-Red Sox game yesterday. The losing pitcher for Boston, outfielder Darnell McDonald, played for the Bulls in 2005 and 2006. Too bad he was essentially the last man standing up in Fenway yesterday (not that I mind the Red Sox losing, mind you).
Chart of the Day — Standings

In the International League South Division the Bulls ended their long slide and came back a bit. This will be an important trip for the Bulls.

click on chart for larger image


Friday, April 13, 2012

Albernaz Throws Perfect Inning

Game 8, Thursday, April 11, Coolray Field, Lawrenceville, Georgia
Gwinnett Braves 7, Durham Bulls 1
Box, Herald-Sun, play-by-play

Just to get this off on the right foot to all those who remember Pogo: Friday the 13th comes on Friday this month (that would be today)!

The 14th pitcher to take the mound for the Durham Bulls in 2012 and the fifth, and arguably the most successful, last night, was ... catcher Craig Albernaz! That’s a hint on how the night went down in Georgia.

After pitcher Bryan Augenstein came up with a sore elbow (he's now on the 7-day DL), the Bulls took a “starter by committee” approach with the first pitcher out of the box being former Brave Jhonny Nunez. He was followed by Ryan Reid, Romulo Sanchez, John Gaub, and Albernaz. Pretty ugly all around, with only Gaub and Albernaz having scoreless outings.

None of the Bulls did very well at bat and Beckham (2 errors) and Miranda (3 errors) were awful in the field.

Shake it off!

Outside the game:
  • The Bulls are playing at Coolray field, a new facility not far from Atlanta. It hasn’t been treated very kindly by the folks who judge ballparks, such as Stadium Journeys and Ballpark Reviews. Brian Merzbach over at Ballpark Reviews was particularly harsh:
It is a great example of how a minor league ballpark is now more of a playground for spoiled suburban kids than it is a place to watch a baseball game. 
  • Former Bull Jeremy Hellickson is reported to be OK.
  • Rays catcher (and former Bull) Jose Lobaton is reported to have a hurt shoulder. That could shake up some rosters, including the Bulls. Slightly surprised that Robinson Chirinos isn’t included in the speculation.
  • Former Bull Dirk Hayhurst adds in his two cents to the Guillen controversy.
  • Johnny Damon signing with the Indians means that there’s one more guy in the way of former Bull Russ Canzler getting to the big leagues. Too bad.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Torres: Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

Game 7, Wednesday, April 11, DBAP
Durham Bulls 5, Charlotte Knights 4
Season: 5-2
Box, Wrap

I know that Alexander Torres is supposed to be a great prospect, but two starts into this season I’m not so sure. Now obviously this is just a look from very far off in the stands, but today’s 4 BB and 6 Ks was vaguely like the 3 BB and 7 Ks of his first start. And then there’s the 94 pitches in 4 1/3 innings on Friday and 96 pitches over 5 innings today. And let's not forget the wild pitch and hit by pitch today. Yes, the Knights only scored three runs, but one of those runs came from a walk and another came when a runner got in position on a wild pitch.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s worried. This looks very much like the Torres of 2011. Don’t get me wrong. I like having him in the rotation, but I’d be even happier if the young man were showing greater progress.

Meanwhile, the Bulls jumped on the Knights’ starter for three runs before the first out and four runs before the 1st inning was over. Almost enough to win the game although enough runs kept sneaking across to make the game very, very close until the end.

It turned out that the key play came on a near-routine fly ball by Brandon Guyer that was dropped by the Knights’ right fielder in the 7th allowing a run to score. Very unusually for the DBAP, the wind was whipping through the park all day. Did the Knights’ Shelton misjudge the ball or was he too intent on preventing the runner tagging up from third base? Impossible to tell, but that extra run made all the difference.

Very successful opening home stand. Too bad about this awful upcoming road trip. Fourteen games in 15 days in four different cities. That’s outlandishly bad scheduling.

Outside the game:
  • Broadcaster Patrick Kinas reported that pitcher Bryan Augenstein has a sore elbow and that reliever Jhonny Nunez will get tomorrow’s start down in Gwinnett County. 
  • Chris Richard was in the ballpark for what was reported to be his last time. He’s moving to California. 
  • Former Bull Jeremy Hellickson was hit by a batted ball during warm ups today in Chicago. Reported to be OK, but taken to hospital.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

First Impressions — Part 2 — Pitchers

The starting rotation for any AAA team is frequently in flux. This year won’t be any different. But it sure looks good for the opening round of games.

We saw, and wrote about, four of the five starting pitchers last year (see here and here). Of the four, Alex Cobb, Alex Torres, and Matt Torra are very solid guys. We only saw Chris Archer a couple of times so we neither agree nor disagree with the hype around him. Alex Cobb, on the other hand, is for sure the real deal and if Alex Torres ever gets a handle on his control, he is sure to see some big league time this year. Cobb, Torres, and Archer are on the Rays 40-man.

New guy Bryan Augenstein has some major league time and has bounced around a bit, most recently in the Cardinals system. His stats show him as spending almost all his time as a reliever, but it appears that the Rays want to look at him as a starter. I think he’s going to be a very interesting ballplayer to watch.

As with the starters, most of the relievers have spent some time in a Bulls uniform. Five of the seven on the roster have been with the team. (However, in Marquis Fleming’s case it was only for 2 innings last July. He was the winner of the 2011 Moonlight Graham Award.) Cesar Ramos only had 4 innings, but Ryan Reid had 55, Dane De La Rosa had 70, and Brandon Gomes had 25 before he was called to the Rays. So the only relievers who are complete strangers are Jhonny Nuñez and Romulo Sanchez. We saw Nunez in a Charlotte Knights uniform last year. Sanchez played in Japan last year and has a good bit of AAA time (and a few innings with the Pirates and Yankees). Gomes, De La Rosa, and Ramos are on the Rays 40-man roster.

That leaves reliever Josh Leuke, who comes to the Rays system from the Mariners. We assume that he’s to start the season with the Rays, but we don’t know that for sure. Nor do we know if there could be a ripple effect down through the system. He is on the 40-man, has decent stats, and obviously ready to play in the big leagues.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Stacy Long Goes to Spring Training

Stacy Long is a reporter for the Montgomery Advertiser and blogs about the Montgomery Biscuits, the Tampa Bay Rays AA team. He is, as far as I can tell, the only print reporter who goes to Port Charlotte to see what’s going on in minor league camp. I’d been wondering if he was going to be able to make it down there this year, and he has. He is a terrific writer with a good sense of humor. If you are wondering who might be in line to show up later this summer as a Durham Bull, you can do no better than keeping an eye on Biscuit Crumbs. Link also at my sidebar.

Over on his blog yesterday he reported that catcher Craig Albernaz, just about my all-time favorite Durham Bulls catcher, has just been sent down to minor league camp.  Four other ballplayers, pitchers Jhonny Nunez and Romulo Sanchez, infielder Matt Mangini and outfielder Brad Coon were also sent down. All of those, with the possible exception of Albernaz are very likely to be in a Bulls uniform at the start of the season. Although Craig has spent a good bit of time in Durham over the years, by far most of his time has been in Montgomery. The Rays seem to like him there where he can help bring young pitchers along.
Long quotes Joe Maddon as saying: “He’s [Albernaz] been a big part of our success just by what he does on a daily basis. He’s a lot of fun to be around. He doesn’t complain about the workload. This guy has coach written all over him.”
In an even more recent post, Long quotes Rays GM Anthony Friedman as saying Matt Bush won’t be playing for the Rays, hence not for the Bulls, this year. “I think it’s safe to say that he’s not going to play for us on the field.”

In his story in the Advertiser, Long reports on the competition between former Biscuits (and former Bulls) Jeff Neimann and Wade Davis for a starting pitching slot.

Great stuff. Good reporter.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Watching Spring Training, and a bit more ...

Russ Canzler, former Durham Bull
Dan Johnson, former Durham Bull
*** 29 days **
  • I am eventually going to get over the fact that neither of these guys are going to be playing for the Bulls this year (or maybe not), but I can't help pointing out that former Durham Bull and International League MVP Russ Canzler introduced himself to the Cleveland Indians by hitting a grand slam. To make me feel even worse, former Durham Bull and International League MVP Dan Johnson introduced himself to the Chicago White Sox by hitting a home run, as noted on a Charlotte Knights blog (the sound in the background is the grinding of my teeth). 
  • Looking to the future, here are some players who, if they don't make it to the Rays roster (and at best only one or two will), we could see with the Bulls. Over at ESPN Florida Tommy Rancel writes about Infielders Will Rhymes, Matt Mangini, and Juan Miranda, catcher Chris Gimenez, and pitcher Jhonny Nunez. At DRaysBay, JC Mitchell writes about infielder Mangini, outfielder Jeff Salazar, and pitchers Brian Augenstein and Ricky Orta.
  • If you want a very interesting way to keep track of these guys, you can do no better than to keep an eye on Rays Index. Over there Cork Gaines has a table that's tracking innings played by everyone in camp. Fascinating, and a good way to do some guessing about the Bulls roster.
  • How's your cynicism index these days? Here's one for you. As all those obsessed with the International League know, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees aren't going to be playing in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2012 (not that they ever did, but let's not go there). Their playing field is undergoing a year-long refurbishment. That presented an interesting marketing dilemma that was recently solved ... change your name! For 2012 only, they will be known as the "Empire State Yankees"! Why? 'Cause they'll be playing in the Empire State. Read all about it at a Rochester Red Wings Press Release. Now, just why is this being announced by the Red Wings? 
  • Dirk Hayhurst's new book (Out of My League, haven't read it yet) is out. Over at his blog Mrs. Hayhurst has some interesting comments about baseball and life.