Saturday, June 29, 2013

Grape Jelly Series - Montgomery Edition!

The Grape Jelly Series continues today at Riverwalk stadium where the home-team Biscuits host the visiting Tennessee Smokies in a battle royale of breakfast foods that can be served with grape jelly. Or jam.

Tennessee leads the North Division early in the second half and will be hungry to extend that lead at the expense of the Biscuits who need to pick up the series win in order to maintain the pace of the South Division race. This is my favorite series of the regular season!

Let the puns continue -

For this matchup the first order of business is for Biscuit starters to be hot and fluffy in the heat of "the oven" instead of flaking out and going flat. The Smokies are able to make toast of fat pitches and will have no problems battering biscuit tossers if the Skitz hurlers dont put them on a strict diet of breaking balls.


Mgr Bailey vs Biscuits

Veteran manager Buddy Bailey has over 1500 wins and puts his teams into contention on a regular basis, regardless of the depth of talent on the team. Bailey seems able to have pulled the best results from the rosters has been given, seemingly before most of his current wards were born. He is a former catcher himself and has done much to improve the Cubs catching, which was in a sad state for some time!

Rafael Lopez - Fla state collegiate, lefty hitter has four homers and .253 average in 51 games
SS Alcantara
Chad Noble - Texan has just 18 games with Tn, batting .243 on the year between tn and daytona, but leads team in BABIP

1b Justin Bour - big first sacker has five homers, is a lefty power surge waiting to happen
1b Jonathan Mota - .245 and five homers, from Valencia Venezuela
3B Villanueva
ss Erismendy Alcantara - 10 homers, switch hitting infielder from the Dominican
ss Elliot Soto- glove man, smooth defensive infielder
2b Ron Torreyes - right handed Venezuelan is hitting .262
3b Christian Villanueva - 8 homers from the Mexican third baseman. On the Cubs 40 man roster

Matt Szczur
Johermyn Chavez - Southern League veteran hitting less than the Mendoza line in just over 20 games
Anthony Ginsanti - florida native is hitting .257 this season
Matt Szczur - Cubs prospect is batting .300 with 17 stolen bases. On the Cubs 40 man roster
Rubi Silva - 9 homers, 8 sb from the Cuban lefty hitting outfielder

Closer Batista

Frank Batista, Dominican righty has ten saves as the Smokies closer

Trey McNutt - Alabama native has two wins, two saves and five losses out of the Smokies pen. On the Cubs 40 man roster DL'd on 6/28

 Kevin Rhoderick - two saves in 21 games from the Arizona native this season

RP Rosscup
Hunter Cervenka - Texan lefty is two wins and one loss in ten games for the Smokies

Zach Rosscup - Oregonian lefty has one win, one save, 25 games and a great 2.05 era. Leads Smokies with over 31%Kswinging rate.

Spot starter Yeiper Castillo oh and two as a smokie thru 6/27

Dae-Eun Rhee - on disabled list/rehab

P.J. Francescon - right hander from tennessee is a recent addition to the smokies bullpen, was starting in high-A Daytona until the promotion. Has 85% ground ball rate!

Jeffry Antigua - veteran lefty reliever added 6/28

Tony Zych - in 25 games the Illinois native has two wins and four losses to go with a 3.66 era


 Starter Erik Jokisch has 15 starts, one complete game, a 3.57 era and five wins this season, and could get a start in the series, but wasnt listed in the probable pitchers at this writing.

Alberto Cabrera - Six foot-four inch tall Dominican right hander is 7-3 with a 3.53 era in 15 starts. On the Cubs 40 man roster

Austin Kirk - Lefty from Ok, 1w-1L in four double-A starts since promotion from Daytona.

Kyle Hendricks 8-2 with a splendid 2.17 era in 15 starts, attended Dartmouth

Dallas Beeler - in nine starts the big Oklahoman has a great 3.13 era and four wins

A.J.Morris -  Texan right hander has been in 18 games, making four starts towards a two win and zero loss record. One of the best BABIP pitchers for Smokies.


Someone is going to be toast this weekend and it might be the fans who will be baked in the heat of "the oven". Temps are starting to soar into the 90's and we shall soon see what, if anything, the team has planned for fans to beat the heat!

The Smokies were not much to write home about in the first half but have been given a shakeup over the past few weeks and it seems to have given them life. As a result, they are without prospect infielder Jae Hoon Ha and Ty Wright, both promoted to triple-A in recent weeks. This could affect their play in this five game set.

The Biscuits usually play to the level of their opponents, so I expect a tough series at home, and each game should be close in score, except the blowout game that the Skitz seem to have once a homestand.

Biscuits and Smokies are both good with grape jelly and both score runs at about the same rate, though in different ways. Look for the Smokies to run the bases with team speed that the Biscuits have had trouble stopping in previous homestands. Expect the Biscuit defense to be a difference maker in the series, the team with the fewest errors afield is usually the one that takes the series.

Look for the Biscuits to continue to be vexed by the long ball now that the weather has warmed, Skitz pitchers are already the most generous givers of the gopher ball. On the other side of the coin, Montgomery hitters have the most trouble reaching the fences and are last in the league in homers.

However we lead the league in triples, and have more than three times as many as some clubs, which shows we can run a little bit.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Why Jake Floethe?

Before I get started, let me begin by saying that I am thrilled to get Jake Floethe to join the Biscuits pitching staff. The team needs him.

I had expected he might have a chance to break camp with the Skitz out of spring training, but it didnt happen. I like the kid, hes a good pitcher and has solid numbers in his career as well as this season. He has stepped right into the rotation and has already tossed a couple very big games for us.
Jake Floethe MiLB photo

Its not a criticism, but I wonder why he was the player promoted to join the Biscuits staff after the Rays moved Buschmann and Kelly to Durham.....

Why did we get Jake Floethe?

He has the Bulldog look down

He only had one start in ten appearances for Charlotte. The StoneCrabs are playing way under .500 ball and have two pitchers who were passed over for promotion that have better numbers.

It looks like Jake was the main man out of the Charlotte bullpen, called into games when the starter was unable to post more than four innings, which was often, and as a result would pitch up to five innings in relief per game.

He has good numbers against the Florida State league, 4w-3L and a nice 3.56 ERA.

He stuck out just 27 men in over 40 Innings Pitched and allowed more than a hit an inning. He walked 18 men in ten appearances for Port Charlotte, only twice was he able to avoid the free pass and usually allows multiple bases on balls.

Flat Brim = Family Resemblance?
Maybe he was throwing the ball well, but I have to wonder why wasn't he in the StoneCrabs rotation? If he was the best option for promotion, do his stats not reflect his performance?

It seems an odd choice to send to a team seeking a playoff berth, when there are several guys who have numbers that look better but are left pitching for a team more than a little out of the playoff picture.

With that in mind, lets see if we can shed some light on the Tampa decision making.


How about Jesse Hahn, in 13 starts hes 0-1 with a sparkling 1.23 ERA, has fanned 44 batters in 43 innings pitched, and gives up less than a walk a game.

How about Felipe Rivero who is 5w-3L, a nice 3.38 ERA and some good strikeout totals. He even pitched a shutout already this year, of the seven inning variety.

Ryan Carpenter has good numbers in Charlottes rotation, 6-3 with a 3.60 ERA, 64K in 70IP.

If I were any of those three guys, I would wonder what more I had to do to get a promotion!  I am guessing it wont be long before they get here....

It cant be that age is factor, while Rivero and Carpenter are under 23, by the numbers the best of the Charlotte starters, Hahn, is only two months younger than Floethe.

We can point out that Hahn has yet to make it past the fourth inning in any start this season, but add the fact that Floethe had only one start this year in game two of a doubleheader.

In four starts with the Biscuits Jake has twice failed to get to the fifth inning.

Yes, Jake Floethe is a starting pitcher. He has 32 career starts, mostly in 2012. Yes, he has gone at least three innings in each of his ten appearances this season. It's easily seen that he has been a valuable rubber arm out of the bullpen for a staff of younger guys, often able to pitch more innings more often than some of the other starters.

But hes not the only dependable hurler. SP Rivero has only twice in his last ten starts failed to reach the fourth inning, and has much better numbers. In Carpenters last ten starts he has made it to the 5th inning or better nine times.

The point being that maybe the guy with the best stats didnt get the promotion from the 14-games back StoneCrabs to the 2-games back Biscuits. 

Here's my thoughts on it:
Jake Floethe should have indeed been brought up when he was, but it should have followed the promotions of one or more of the other StoneCrabs starters, and the DE-motion of Victor Mateo. Mateo has seemed overmatched at times in Double-A and might better serve the organization and his own development to work through the issues at a lower level.

Victor is a very hard working guy with a great attitude. I appreciate that he is trying hard to improve and wants to win. He probably feels he is just a couple bullpen sessions from getting back to normal, but when you log 49 earned runs in 15 games, hitting 11 men and allowing 35 walks in the first half of the season, I think it says control may be on the list of things to work on. The 2 wins and 7 losses in the first half of the season had already banished him to the Biscuit bullpen.

This is not a new problem for Mateo. He has posted ERA's over 4.00 three times since 2008, but that total is less than two runs lower than it stands now. Victor has allowed almost as many bases on balls as he did in 2011, but that season it took 20 starts and a half dozen relief appearances to reach the total he has gotten in just fifteen starts. That season he also gave up more than a hit per inning, so the Rays have to be aware that he is having the same issues.

To ask him to take the hill going into the final series of the half - just a pair of games out does a disservice to him and to the Biscuit fans hoping for playoff games in September.

Mateo knows going into the game that its a must-win situation. He also knows, like we do, that opponents hit .291 off him, that he is one homer behind Thompson for the most allowed, that he has been giving up walks in groups and hit alot of batters.
He knows that 70% of baserunners who try to swipe a bag succeed. He knows this and he knows that the Biscuits only score four runs a game and his Earned Run Average is over a run and half more than that.

I think thats a ton of pressure to put on a young man who is struggling to hone his skills into a craft for a team a long way from Santo Domingo. Especially considering that there are quality pitchers of the same age playing for Charlotte that have proven they are worthy of the chance to pitch in a game that means more than the StoneCrabs June 11th game, attendance 997.

If it is about player development, there is little reason for leaving players in lower levels with losing teams when there is an equal chance for them to develop, improve and learn how to win. That is the reasoning we are given when players are being sent to Durham, but it appears that isnt always the way players are sent to Montgomery.

If it wasn't about winning we would never bring the infield in or give an intentional walk.


Mike Colla is not chopped liver, nor even chipped beef. Nor is he the part of the shirt next to my neck. He IS our new starter. He IS pitching great.

Colla is a Cali native
I LOVE that the Rays spent money on a guy for the Biscuits, even if they maybe did it to keep us from having a guy from the Port Charlotte rotation.

It means the big club had to tend to our needs, maybe even TALK to us and find out what we needed. It gives me hope to know that it actually does happen. Sometimes I wonder.

Mike is a former Pirates farmhand, the 26 year old went to Arizona before signing with the Bucs. Hes been mired in the Eastern League for a few years, spending all or part of the last four seasons in double-A. Until this spring when Pitt lost faith he started in independent ball when the Rays came calling.

Colla in college
With the Skitz he has made three starts, two good and one bad. With over 400 career minor league innings he should have stamina, and looks to post his first winning season since 2009.

His first home start against Huntsville was excellent, six punchouts in six innings, one run allowed on a solo homer, one walk and five hits. It was just what fans hope the big club will send to a team in the hunt.

Second start was on the road and the Mr.Hyde to the first starts Dr.Jekyl - six runs on the same five hits, plus three walks, the same one homer and five strikeouts.

He did his job well in one way that game by going 5.1 innings, taking the weight off the bullpen a little for not having to bail him out.

Game three saw him pitch seven innings of one hit ball, stretching out innings and giving the bullpen a breather.

And that is why we got Jake Floethe and Mike Colla instead of Hahn, Rivero and Carpenter!


Oh, hey, thats right. We went to Chattanooga and are playing the Lookouts!

The Dodgers affiliate is Puig-less but still boasts Jock Pederson in the lineup. With the promotion of Puig to Los Angeles, Pederson takes over the title of Dodgers Top Hitting Prospect. However also on the Prospects list are pitchers Chris Reed, Onelky Garcia, Yimi Garcia, Ross Stripling and outfielder Blake Smith.

A four catcher tandem on the roster is sort of rare, but the Lookouts probably enjoy getting to employ one in the DH in the series against us, perhaps including Matt Wallach. Also, 32 year old 3B Sean Burroughs is on the comeback trail with the Lookouts, providing veteran leadership and a solid bat in the lineup.

Osvaldo Martinez play for the Lookouts this season, another veteran infielder that make this a tough team to face.

Game One - the Biscuits started Jake Thompson against the Dodgers top pitching prospect Zach Lee and managed to score in the ninth to tie and the tenth to win in extras.

Game Two - Mike Colla will make his fourth start against the Lookouts Reed 3w-6L.

Game Three - Enny Romero vs Andres Santiago 3w-5L

Game Four - Victor Mateo? vs TBA

Game Five - Jake Floethe vs Ross Stripling


Its going to be a tougher series than the wins and losses will show. This five game series will set the tone for the second half road trips and also give the players a good idea of what the sales tax is in the state of Tennessee, where they will be visiting often in the next two months.

I look for the starting pitchers to step up in the coming weeks, and it could begin in this series. They will be asked to stretch out innings and take the pressure off the bullpen. A side effect of this will be seen in the bullpen, which always benefits from a strong effort by the starting pitcher.

I look for Mikie Mahtook to add fifteen points to his batting average by seasons end, the LSU product has been showcasing his defensive abilities in recent highight reels, but soon he will figure out the batting stroke that will carry him to Durham and beyond.

Cameron Seitzer finally popped the seal on the home-run ball in the home series just ended. Now that the pressure is off we will start to see what he can really do, and Southern League pitchers may not appreciate it.

I look for Hector Guevara to earn more walks, but none may be as large as the one he got in the first game of the Chattanooga series!

I often talk about prospect lists for other teams, but we have no lack of talent in our organization, and even on our own team. Of course there is Mahtook and Enny Romero, top twenty prospects who inhabit the Montgomery roster.

On the way up!
Here is a quick list of the guys who are waiting and hoping for the promotion to Montgomery and also on the MLB top prospect list.

Taylor Guerrieri is 5-2 with a 2.52 ERA in 11 starts at Bowling Green A-ball, ranked #2 in the Rays organization.

Blake Snell, the #7 prospect is a lefty pitcher also in Bowling Green, 2w-5L so far this season.

Richie Shaffer is batting .247 for Port Charlotte High-A and is ranked at #9 among Rays prospects.

The #10 prospect is Drew Vettleson, also playing in Charlotte. Drew is an outfielder batting .268 on the year.

Shortstop Jake Hager is the #14 prospect, having an easy go of it in the Florida State League with Charlotte - batting .286 with nine steals so far.

Also in the top twenty: Tyler Goeddel, Brandon Martin, Patrick Leonard and Ryan Brett.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Skitz host Wahoos for First Series of Second Half June 19

A new start and a fresh homestand begin on Wednesday as the lovable Pensacola Blue Wahoos arrive in town.

I say lovable because you have to. You have no choice. Its not an option to say no.
Not because they are a great little club, which they are. Not for the great new stadium, which it is. Nor even for the pink-and-baby blue fish-thing that adorns their hat and website, cute as it is.
Hes having fun and smiling!

Its because this team is gonna be here off and on for the next month so many times if you don't love them they are gonna drive you nuts by coming back over and over again!

So with that, we can take a look at whats coming up.

JUNE 19 

The Wahoos just added Yorman Rodriguez, Matt Kennelly, Marquez Smith, James Walczak since mid-June. Lotsa new guys! They may have some new faces since their last visit, though Van Mil is still the closer. Getting to the late innings with a lead would be a good plan.

Wednesday - Jake Thompson vs Tim Crabbe
 Crabbe went seven strong innings vs the Biscuits on May 5th, getting six strikeouts in the game at Pensacola.

Thursday - Mike Colla vs Ryan Dennick
Ryan Dennick

Dennick, The Cuyahoga County Casanova and king of the MiLB photoshoot, has been beaten twice by the Biscuits, once at home and once on the road. Surrendering five runs in 5.1 innings and then getting blasted for nine runs (eight earned) on ten hits in 7.1 innings pitched at Riverwalk on June 3rd.

Friday - Jake Floethe? vs Dan Renken?

Saturday - Enny Romero? vs Chad Rogers?

Sunday - Mateo? vs Josh Smith?

*starters have only been announced for the first two games at this writing, we will have to see how each manager wants to set up his rotation, so matchups could change. I will try to provide an update on the probables.


I started to put together a lineup list of the Wahoos, but like the pitching the beginning of the second half means change is in the air. Gone are the trials and attempts from spring training plans, now is the time to put plan B into place. That can happen in the rotation, in the bullpen, on the bench or the every day lineup of any team in the league today. Change is what to look for!

We will get to see what each of these managers think is more effective than what they have been doing, what they are going to change sends a strong message to the fans about what kind of strategy the big club is taking with this level of prospects.

Now is the time that under-appreciated players that have been hidden on the roster are given a chance based on first half hustle, the second half is where hustle pays off in the form of opportunity!

But can he throw strikes?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Montgomery Biscuits First Half Review & Second Half Outlook

To sum up the first half, let me start with: thats why the blog is called the Grumpy Biscuit and not the "Optimistic Biscuit".

After almost ten years of seeing the Big Club call up the best guys to bolster Durham while they are ten or twelve games back it seems that they prefer us not to make the playoffs in the first half. Its another year when we are in a close race and don't have the horses available and left without anyone who can produce consistent numbers without divine intervention or mathematical aberration involved.

Thank you Lord, for Sergio Pedroza! He beat the odds wearing our jersey!


Biscuits tenth season!
The season started by hosting the Barons and the Biscuits took the series, three games to two. After a day off it was the first road trip where the Jackson Generals handed the Biscuits a few more firsts, first rain out, first double header, first series loss, first three game losing streak.

Was a bad first road trip

That streak would run to four when the Skitz came home against Mobile, but Montgomery would end up taking the Series with three wins in the final four games of the five game set. A road trip to Tennessee gave the Biscuits another series win as they handed the Smokies three losses, but then quickly turned around and lost three of five to the Barons at home to end April.
April 25th vs Bham

May began with a trip to Pensacola, where the Biscuits won four in a row vs the Wahoos - a team that would flounder in last place almost the entire first half. Coming home, the team lost four out of five games to the division leading MsBraves, which started with an historic rout that saw the Skitz beaten 19-2 and ended in a heartbreaking extra-inning defeat on Saturday May 11th. Within a week Greg Sexton and Zach Quate were released.

A ten day road trip followed, the Biscuits winning three games for a series victory against North Division leading Birmingham, then dropping a mind-boggling four games to North Division WORST Huntsville Stars!

Home against the Jackson Generals, the Skitz looked flat, lost three games and the series before heading to Mississip to face the Braves where they won the first four out of five games to round out the month of May.

With June beginning and two weeks left in the first half, more changes were made. Matt Buschmann got promoted, Jake Floethe arrived and entered the rotation. Steve Tinoco, Keith Castillo and Matt Nevarez were just getting names on their jerseys.

The Biscuits came home and faced the Blue Wahoos of Pensacola, losing three games to them and one to mother nature, giving the Biscuits another series loss against a last place team. The homestand continued against Huntsville, who was kind enough to drop four games in the Biscuits favor.

The final series of the first half was on the road against Jacksonville, but became moot when the visiting Skitz dropped the first two games thus eliminating them.


The biggest tease of the first half was the four games we took from the Mississippi Braves. The Braves had beaten us like a dirty rug in the series at our place, convincing me that we were pretenders not contenders - then out of the blue we gave them exactly the same at their ballpark. I shouldn't have let it fool me, the hitting just isn't there on this team. Even if it was, our most consistent pitchers have been sent on to Durham when the team needed them most. Too many losses to last place teams sunk the first half hopes, but they played well enough to hang on till the end.

The Biscuit bullpen was awesome thru May, but after a few tweaks and tinkering we are left with some guys in new roles and some guys in new apartments. Any starting pitcher we have left that gets good numbers is probably mad he hasnt been called up yet and not happy to spend the second half with this team. Our closer is likely scouting apartments in North Carolina.

And who can blame him. We havent hit, we havent run the bases particuarly well, we havent scored runs and we havent shown much spirit. This is a Biscuit team that looks like it is going through the motions, both in the field, at the gate and in the standings. The guys who have put up numbers have moved on for the most part, and I have to hope there is a crop of StoneCrabs ready to replace them or it will be a long and painful summer ahead.

The second half of the season gives new hope and a chance to see some new teams! Gone are the first half Barons, Baybears and Stars who we wont host again unless we make the playoffs.

We start the second half on June 19th vs Pensacola.

We go five with the Wahoos followed with a five game series on the road against Chattanooga's Lookouts.
Get used to em!

June will close and July begin with the Skitz coming home to face the Cubs affiliate Tennessee Smokies for five games. Its our first look at the Smokies here, though the Skitz have been to their ballpark already. 

We go on the road to Mobile for a five game set, beginning July 4th against the BayBears. A gulf coast theme is developing as the Southern League drifts toward the water for summer.

We will then host Pensacola AGAIN, giving us three visits by the same team in FIVE WEEKS, just ahead of the Southern League allstar break, July 15-17

We follow the break with a trip BACK TO MOBILE for the second time in three weeks.
Every other week?

Confused? No doubt the schedule maker intended it! 
Chances are they came away thinking they had the best Southern league schedule ever. I say this because this year there is no three or four game series on the schedule. Usually there is a snag around 4th of July, because teams are promised a game on either July 3rd or 4th, resulting in a short series appearing on the schedule. Not so this year, as they are all five game sets, including a day off the week before the SL AllStar game and the three days off around the festivities in Jacksonville, who will host this years AllStar Game. 

SOMEONE thought they had a slam dunk, but I think they screwed up pretty badly.

---------Take note, riverwalk attendants! Its taken 11 years for the AllStar game to come back to Jacksonville. We hosted in 2006, so it could mean we will have to wait another four years? Bummer!--------

We wave goodbye to July with a five game homestand against the Suns followed by a visit to the Mississippi Braves, always a popular series for fans.

Logos not subjected to drug testing

August 2nd gives Montgomery fans their first look at the Chattanooga Lookouts, who are here for five games. The Dodgers affiliate no longer has top prospect Yasiel Puig and may be even less populated by the time they arrive at Riverwalk.

The Lookouts do however have some excellent pitching prospects that will inhabit the roster. I look forward to this one!


The Biscuits will then spend ten days in Tennessee, first against the Smokies and then a series facing the Generals. It could be a tough trip but the Skitz have played well on the road, especially against Tn teams.

The ten day days on the road is followed by a ten game homestand. The Biscuits will host the Ms.Braves and the Jacksonville Suns in what could shape up to be the biggest ten game stretch of the year.

The final series of the year is on the road against the Barons, who will be lining up their playoff roster for postseason play.  

Hey, someone reads the blog, its nice to be noticed!

The JG of the Jackson Generals, but the JAX of the Jacksonville Suns? Gasp, I thought, as I blogged about it, hoping that the bus driver knew where he was headed!


Hey, someone fixed it! Cool!
I wondered about this when the schedule went up, but didnt expect it would get fixed. Cheers to you, blog reading-logo correcting person!

Or maybe they just noticed it themselves in the office? Oh well, who knows! haha

Est 1885, last update 1985?
The Biscuits website is okay, there are a few tweaks I would love but am glad they run it themselves instead of handing it over to the league like EVERY other team in the southern league. And practically every other team in baseball!

And have you seen the Southern league website? Its bad. Real bad.

The "Team Headlines" list the Biscuits offseason trophy for promotions. From March! Every other team has current stuff!

There are three "Inside The Southern League" stories, two are last years Billy Hamilton story.

Have you tried to search a boxscore from a month ago? Two months ago? Cant do it. Its broken.

But they ask you to follow them on twitter!