Thursday, August 25, 2016

Willy Adames Plays Serious, Skitz Notes, '17 Sked



There is much unknown in the world today, including the Southern League playoff picture. So instead of trying to pick apart what might be, today I will try to stick to the solid truths.

The Biscuits are very much in the playoff hunt. With just about a dozen games left it would be a good time for a hot Biscuit streak.


BARONS KNOCKED OUT
The Barons have been eliminated.
Monday nights loss took them out of the hunt, mathematically.

So if the Brummie bench seemed to take the loss hard, its because they knew they were just playing out the string after that one.


Barons infielder Marcus Lemon is the son of former White Sox AllStar outfielder Chet Lemon, who played for the Barons in 1974!



O RETURNS
Justin O'Conner
Justin O'Conner is back. Healed up and ready to get back to playing, I noticed him in uniform for game one.

Sure enough, he entered game action on Tuesday and quickly gunned down a would-be basestealer in the first inning. "Welcome back, Justin!" echoed across the yard. I think I yelled it loud enough for everyone to hear!


Pitcher Taylor Guerrieri is happy to have Justin O join the Skitz, and not just for his catching skills. It means Taylor has a new victim for videogame golf. Beware, Justin, Taylor G is a beast on the virtual links!


ONE JUSTIN BACK, ONE JUSTIN DOWN
Justin Williams was a late scratch from Mondays game. So late that even stadium announcer Rick Hendricks stumbled, "now batting... Justin Will..... uh, Granden Goetzman!" Williams is out due to a stomach bug, he should be good for game action in a day or two.


GO HARD
rhp Mark Sappington
These Biscuits give maximum effort, even when they aren't in the game.

Last night I saw Mark Sappington run in a full sprint from the bullpen just to pick up an errant baseball he felt he was responsible for corralling.
Had it all the way.







PIG FARMED OUT
Miss Gravy, the Suidae mascot pig for the past three seasons has announced her retirement.

It was sudden and not expected, though the video tribute was shocking - Big Mo was given a voice! Freaky, since we never heard Big Mo say a word before.

The fans were split on Miss Gravy, some liked her and some didn't. Lately she hadn't been making many appearances, so I guess we should have realized. She will be around for a swan song in the final weekend of the regular season, before heading out to the farm.

Dang, I miss this place!


WILLY ADAMES PLAYS SERIOUS BALL
Willy Adames loves baseball.
He loves to play the game and its fun to watch him enjoy playing shortstop. He has been having an excellent summer both at the plate and in the field, but he brings so much more to the squad than just numbers and skills.

His smiles and antics have added a lot of emotion to Biscuit baseball this year, entertaining everyone in so many ways.
Willy give a pregame lip-synch serenade to Kean Wong
elaborate pregame high fives!
Willy gets kids worked into a frenzy with the fake ball toss

However, once on the diamond he takes the game of baseball seriously. 

Seriously.


like VERY seriously....

Sometimes, the playful and the serious Willy Adames show up at the same time.


SERIOUSLY PLAYFUL
Here he is pregame, playing catch to warm up the honorary batkid who throws the first pitch.

Looks pretty normal, right? Very cool that kid gets to play catch with the Biscuits top prospect infielder!

But when the kid lets loose with a bad throw, Willy doesn't just let it go by.
No, he can't, thats not Willy Adames style.

He goes after it like its game seven of the World Series.
Seriously Playful!



BISCUITS OPEN 2017 AT HOME
SCHEDULE CLUES ABOUND
The Biscuits home opener will be on Thursday, April 6th, 2017 against the Biloxi Shuckers starting a five game set.

If you are desperate for next years Biscuits already, this is what I know.

Just announced is the Brummies sked for next summer. On April 12th the Biscuits make their first road trip, though its a short one, to Birmingham for five games. It will be the Barons home opener. The Biscuits host the Barons at the end of April, from 4/27 to May 1st.
 
The Wahoos have also released their sked for next summer and it shows them visiting at Montgomery on July 19th thru the 24th. The Biscuits visit Pensacola at the end of June and into the start of July.

The Smokies '17 dates tell us that the Biscuits visit TN from May 13-17th. The Smokies first visit to MGM is May 30 through June 3rd.

The Smokies host the Skitz for a short four-game set July 9th to the 12th and then AGAIN host the Skitz just twelve days later for a regular five game series. The BabyCubs then visit Montgomery for the final time August 21-25.

Montgomery visits the Jackson Generals twice, April 17-21 and again in July. The Biscuits host the Gens twice, May 18-22 and August 10-14.

Did you get all that? It might appear on the final!





#BULLPENLIFE

Monday, August 22, 2016

Biscuits Search for Wild Card


After dropping a crucial series against Chattanooga, the Biscuits are now chasing the Lookouts instead of the other way around.

Down one game in the "wild card" standings, the two games the Skitz dropped at the end of the first half loom even larger now. Sure, the team was tired and beaten up, depressed from being shut out of the first half crown - but falling to third place in June has created a huge obstacle for Bradys Boys at the close of August.


No longer do the Biscuits own their destiny, becoming reliant on other clubs to force losses on the Lookouts. However the schedule favors Montgomery, the Noogas have to close the season with five games against the Generals.

This team has much going for it but will have to play some fine baseball if they want to taste playoff champagne.

Either that or turn to other dark forces.


NEXT ON TAP
Next on the dance card is a grudge match against long-time rival Birmingham.

The Barons bring good prospects to the lineup but have yet to get the results one might expect. The Brummies are the league doormat, bringing their seven game losing streak to Riverwalk.

Barons play better on the road than at home, but are have just one win over the last two series. Montgomery hopes to make hay in the standings against Bham over the next five games.

Bham sports a P-rating of 109, a mix of prospects highlighted by WhiteSox #3 prospect pitcher Spencer Adams. A few prospects have graduated from this team since they were here last but have been replaced by quality guys. Trey Michalczewski, ranked #7, #10 Jordan Guerrero return for another series at Riverwalk. 
LHP Brian Clark and Courtney Hawkins pepper the list of top 3o prospects on the Bham squad.



WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Look for two bags. The Barons like to shop at the gap, picking up more two base hits than anyone in the league. Well, anyone except the Biscuits!


Kean Wong
Kean Wong has worked hard to improve his average and now is looking like the hottest hitter in the Rays system. He has been batting at .333 clip over the last month.


Look for the Barons to struggle on the hill. Slagtown tossers hold the leagues highest ERA, allow the most hits, the most baserunners per inning and the fewest bullpen Holds.


Hitters on both sides should look for a free pass, as the Barons and Biscuits moundsmen offer plenty of them. Only MsBraves hurlers walk more batters.

Look for Courtney Hawkins to try to hit a train, again. He made SportsCenter last summer when a high fly ball over the left field wall hit a passing train.


OF Justin Williams
Look for Justin Williams to keep driving in runs. JW's 22 runs batted in over the last thirty days are second among all TB players, tied with Longoria.


3B Pat Leonard
Look for Cade Gotta to bat lower in the batting order after three games hitting second during the series in Nooga. Gotta has just three hits in 29 at bats out of the two spot, but clubs a .336 average when batting 7th and 8th.

Patrick Leonard looks for lefties, hes crushing southpaw pitching at a massive .545 clip!

Look for Chase Whitley, assigned to the Biscuits after completing his rehab. He will join the starting rotation, sending Yonny Chirinos to the bullpen. The Troy pitcher has been excellent while wearing the Biscuits livery.




ADAMES RUNS TOP CIRCUIT
I hesitantly point out that Willy Adames leads the league in Runs Scored.
I say hesitant because a couple weeks ago I mentioned Chris Kirsch had snuck into the top five in the SL in strikeouts. Then Kirsch went without a single punchout in his next start.

With just two K's against the Lookouts, Kirsch dropped one spot to sixth place in the SL.
Now Chih-Wei Hu has moved into the team lead in strikeouts.

"You jinxed me!" Chris told me.

So is it a bad time to bring up that at 3.54 the Lackawanna Lefty is now in the top ten in ERA? Go get em, killer!



CHARITIES AUCTION
Can't snipe my Mahtook!
The annual charities jersey auction is Friday, soon the uni tops are available for online bidding.

Its always more lively when the home jerseys are up for bids, with the players names on the back. Fans love it, though it can be ruthless at the end. Grandmas and girlfriends have no qualms raising bids or trying to snipe at the last second!





POOR MORTY
What the heck is Mortensen to do?

He was an AllStar last year. A fine starter who had success in spite of getting bounced to the bullpen here and there.

This spring he shows up to camp and the Rays are teaching the knuckleball. Morty says he can do better and then does so, showing the best flutterball in the Tampa organization.

Its like when your parents like your girlfriend WAY better than you do. Sure shes okay, but not a life partner even though your folks are setting up long term plans for the two of you.

The Rays loved Mortys knuckler, maybe more than Morty loves it. But how can he break up with it now?
No help from the umps either

They want him to throw it all the time. But his numbers stink and he sits in the bullpen for six or eight days at a time. Less time throwing the knuckler makes it that much tougher to learn to deploy it properly, hurting his development.

He could discard the knuckler and pitch for better numbers to save his season stats, but thats not what the Rays want so he would be hurting his career by changing his pitch selection.

And it is a great pitch. Good knuckleballs are hard to hit, great knuckleballs are almost impossible to hit OR catch!

It doesn't help that he his regular receiver Mike Marjama was lost a quad strain. Morty lost the only guy who had any success knocking down the butterfly action of his special delivery. DePew and Araiza simply don't have as much experience with Mortys knuckler as Marj did.

Its a tough situation for a guy who has a major league quality knuckleball but cant throw it often enough to master the pitch because he has terrible stats to find places to match him up in game action. Tough situation, but noone is better equipped to handle the problem than Jared Mortensen. He has always struck me as smart enough to work his way through most any adversity.




Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Q Returns



That game was just....

Fortunately there weren't that many fans there to see it, being a Monday night. Surely, the rest of us wanted to turn away but just couldn't manage to.



THAT HORNY TRAIN
Between the top and bottom of the first inning, a train horn sounded in the distance. It kept sounding its horn as it passed the ballpark.

One. Long. Blast.

For just under THREE AND A HALF MINUTES that horn blared as the train neared and then passed the field just behind the outfield wall, eventually making it impossible to hear anything in a dramatic example of the Doppler Effect.

It was easily the longest and loudest, most game-interrupting-est train in Riverwalk history.



BISCUIT BUS
After Tuesdays day off, the final off-day of the regular season, Brady's Boys board the Biscuit bus and head to Chattanooga to face the team chasing them in the standings.

Montgomery is two games ahead of the Lookouts and unless the Biscuits win the division the Skitz need to stay two games up on them to make the postseason.

It is almost a must-win series, as a loss of three games would likely vault the Lookouts into second place and give them the better chance of making the playoffs. Montgomery would face an uphill climb to make up those games, though it wouldn't mean elimination.


Q RETURNS
There was a Querecuto sighting on Monday, the return of the hard hitting utility man means another roster move is coming. Q's last game appearance was on the 11th against Pawtucket as a member of the Bulls. When the Rays optioned Richie Shaffer back to Durham, Juniel Querecuto lost his gig.

Adames
Could it mean a promotion for Willy Adames? With career highs in many categories the young prospect could be ready to move up. The addition of shortstop Alec Sole could lend to that conclusion as well.

Also a possibility is that Patrick Leonard could be headed back to triple-A. After his return from Durham the third baseman has been a consistent player both at the plate and afield. Querecuto could fill at third easily, though losing Leonards bat would be a blow to the lineup.

Rapacz and Justin Williams
Also possible is a roster shuffle including Pat Blair, as Querecuto is technically coming from Hudson Valley. Hudson Valley is where players of all levels seem to reside on the roster in name only. Last time I looked they had six catchers active on the Renegades roster, including Biscuits bullpen catcher Josh Rapacz.



JACKSON GENERALS WATCH
The attendance for Monday night game in Jackson was generously listed as 894.

The Gens fell to the Shuckers 8-3, the Skitz trail them by two and a half games with exactly twenty left to play.

In the final twenty contests, the Generals and the Lookouts face off ten times.

Stay tuned, Biscuit fans, the best part is coming up!

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Songs of The Biscuits


The Skitz have locked up with the BayBears for a weekend series, Montgomery taking the first three before dropping Sundays contest. Not sure why, but it seems that the Biscuits often take the first three games of a series. I havent looked it up, it just seems a regular thing for them. Game five is Monday!

Granden Goetzman
Not for lack of trying, the good guys made a valiant effort but ran short of outs before pushing a tying run across the dish. These Biscuits just don't quit, scoring five runs in the 8th inning and threatening in the 9th fits their Never Say Die attitude.



BRAXTON'S BOOGIE SHOES
Of course when you hear Boogie Shoes you know Braxton Lee is coming to bat.
Braxton Lee and his shoes

Some fans say its the best walkup they have heard, between that and my appreciation of Brent Honeywells use of Black Sabbath's Iron Man, it got me thinking about the tunes the guys use this year.

I have heard some great and some not so great songs used over the years, usually there are a few new ones that I enjoy learning. So I asked around a little and was given a short list of walkup music used by the Biscuits!



THE SONGS OF THE BISCUITS


Armando Araiza has Buena Vision
Armando Araiza has a great sound, Ariel Camacho y Los Plebas del Rancho playing Buena Vision.

When Patrick Leonard comes to the plate, he hears Working For It by Zhu+Skrillex.

Ain't No Mountain for Goetz

Outfielder Granden Goetzman made sure he had Ain't No Mountain High, a classic that gets everyone singing - even in the Biscuits dugout!


New Right Fielder Justin Williams intro song is Ocean by JayZ ft. Frank Ocean.

Willy Adames brings Andas En Mi Cabeza, by Chino y Nacho ft Daddy Yankee. Always love hearing Daddy Yankee at the park!

Pitchers get intro music too, Taylor Guerrieri warms to Maggie May by Rod Stewart, another classic old school music lover.

Kean digs heavy reggae
Kean Wong has a dynamic walkup with Come Around by Collie Buddz, one of my fave walkups of this season.

 
Tommy Coyle takes his warmup cuts to the strains of Kanye Wests Stretch My Hands pt1.

Pat Blair's walkup is Flower by Moby.

Kyle Bird enters the game to Whistling Dixie by Randy Houser, rockin country style.

When Cade Gotta strides to the plate the song is Blood clot by Tribal Seeds, a sweet reggae jam.





TEAM NOTES
Chase Whitley had his rehab moved, so we don't get to enjoy seeing him tossing any more Biscuits games. On the good side it stabilizes the rotation and when he was here it gave the bullpen a nice break.


The Biscuits roster may have settled a little, hopefully we are mostly set for the final weeks.
Brent Honeywell gets a pregame hug from Willy Adames
While there are certainly players deserving of promotions, one would expect even they would like to finish the job and win as a team.

 


UMP ON THE MEND
Umpire Ryan Doherty has been sporting a cast on his left arm after taking a foul ball earlier in the series. Gamer.




PLAYOFF PICTURE MURKY
If the Biscuits win the second half North Division championship, things are so much simpler.
The Jackson Generals have already won the first half, and they also lead the division here in the second half.

If they should hold that lead and Montgomery finishes second, the Biscuits would need to have a two game lead over Chattanooga in order to make the playoffs.

If Montgomery does have that two game lead, the Biscuits would travel to Jackson Tn for the first two games of the playoffs first round, then head home to Montgomery for game three.

However, IF a game four and/or five is necessary, league rules say the two teams would have to travel BACK to Jackson TN since the Generals are the first and second half champs.

But!
The Generals aren't any happier about that extra travel than the Biscuits are. In fact, the Jackson Gens aren't too thrilled to host any playoff games. Attendance in Jackson is so bad that the last time they made the playoffs they opened the gates for free. Literally, free playoff baseball for anyone who shows up.

The word is that the Generals are willing to give up the rights to host games four and five.


All those scenarios are of course, dependent on the Biscuits holding off Chattanooga's Lookouts and falling short of the Generals in the second half.