Saturday, May 31, 2014

Biscuits flaking out


The team that started so strong fans were ready to print playoff tickets by the end of April has fallen off quickly after losing seven straight and even second half hopes are fairly doused.

The dreaded elimination number for the Biscuits is 11, any combination of Skitz losses or BayBears wins means we are out of the race. Also, in order to win the half we need to vault both Mississippi and Jacksonville, one of whom just beat us like a dirty rug and the other of which has their turn next!

Who knew we were being propped up by Curt Casali and Jake Thompson? Yet that is what it appears to be, as we have struggled at the dish and on the hill since the departure of the veteran reliever and the Vandy backstop.

Even the victory that halted the Biscuits franchise high seven game losing streak was almost handed over in the ninth inning. With a firm lead late the bullpen did everything it could to give up the game but the Suns just barely ran out of outs.

The May version of the Biscuits is the polar opposite of the April Biscuits - its back to being tough to watch and fans now wait for the glass to spill before deciding if its half full or half empty.

As the Miss.Braves and Wahoos arrive for a ten game homestand to begin June, Biscuits fans wonder what will their glasses be filled with this month?
no doubt about it


Taylor Motter has been sent to the Disabled List, Jeff Malm was activated from extended spring training to fill his spot on the roster.

Grayson Garvin was activated from the Disabled List and pitched two innings in a start against Jville.

At 27-28 the Biscuits would be in second place if they were in the North Division, instead of fourth place in the South. However the team would be even farther behind the division leader, a full ten games back of the Huntsville Stars, who just swept the powerful Smokies in a five game series.

Andrew Bellatti leads the team in getting swings and misses, be they in the strike zone or out of it, with Runion and Patterson close behind. All are over 80% swinging strike rate.

Reliever Jimmy Patterson leads the team in getting swings and misses in the strike zone, always a strong part of his game.


Former Biscuits outfielder Todd Glaesmann, traded for Heath Bell in the offseason, has announced he is being reinstated and will be returning to baseball on June 8th with the Dbax.

It couldn't happen to a nicer guy, or a better rain turtle artist.

G-man announced his retirement earlier this year but recently tweeted that he wasn't quite ready to give up the dream.

A talented player, one of our faves, we wish him the best!


Another former Biscuit having a baseball time of it, Henry Wrigley is back to doing what he does - hitting homers and playing great first base. 

Wrigs is hitting .263 with three homers for the Saint Paul Saints of the American Association. True to his usual habits, he has driven in 16 runs in 14 games.

Henry is just ten home runs shy of 100 for his career, a nice milestone!


Former Biscuits catcher Mark Thomas was assigned to the Mobile BayBears from extended spring training this week. He returns to the Southern league after being caught by the leagues witch hunt drug program.

I'm glad of it, he is an excellent catcher and I look forward to seeing him on the division leader BayBears roster.


Moose Morton

Morton played for the Rebels in 1955, catching and filling in at third base for Montgomery in 106 games. He hit .263 with ten homers for the Rebels that season. In his career Moose was a solid bat in the lineup, hitting .282 and hitting 79 homeruns in nine seasons.

Morton, a Tuscaloosa native, had exactly one at bat in the major leagues, striking out for the Red Sox on September 17th 1954 against the Washington Senators. At that time the Rebels were affiliated with the Red Sox and they farmed Moose to Montgomery in '55.

Morton had attended UofA on a baseball scholarship and signed with the RedSox as a pitcher - an arm injury led him to move to catching. His career was put on hold for the Korean war, and after his playing days were over he went back and earned his BA from Alabama and then his Masters.

Later, Moose would be known by folks near his home in Ohio as Rev. Guy Morton Jr, pastor. Guy Morton Jr passed away in early May.

Moose's dad Guy Morton Sr. was a major league pitcher with Cleveland with over ten seasons at the big league level, winning 98 games. Guy Sr. died when Moose was just five, but the pair is one of the rare Father-Son Alabama natives to make the major leagues.

Leo Marentette

Leo Marentette was a 19 year old rookie getting his first chance at pro ball when he got to Montgomery in 1960. 
Leo Marentette

Born in Detroit the kid was pitching against Alabama-Florida league hitters and doing well, winning seven games and losing seven with a fine 3.98 ERA. Leo started 15 games and relieved in another 13 as he put in over 120 innings pitched.

Leo gets a little more MLB time than Moose Morton, but not much. In 1965 Marentette is given the call by the Tigers. He gets into two meaningless late season games, allowing just one hit in three innings. 

He won't get back to the Bigs until 1969, when the Montreal Expos need arms. Leo pitches in three games and is rocked for four earned runs, including a Bobby Bonds homer at windy Candlestick park. He even gets an at bat and while he doesn't get a hit he also doesn't strike out.

Leo Marentette passed away on May 8th 2014.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Mo-Skitz, Two-Lukes & How to win a game without throwing a pitch


The Biscuits fell to the Stars on Saturday to even the series at two games apiece. The "best team in the Southern league" has been less than bulletproof in Montgomery.

The rubber game on Sunday could prove interesting, as the Stars are not used to having to press to win series and the Biscuits have had no problem hitting the Huntsville bullpen. The Huntsville team has the talent, but the fiesty Skitz have been unwilling to roll over.

If that is the hallmark of Brady Williams management style, I like it. This team doesn't know the meaning of the word Quit.

They do know the meaning of the word Run.

This may be the year of the GoGo Skitz, but the numbers don't exactly reflect what we see between the chalk.

This year the Biscuits are running wild, stealing bases and executing the hit-and-run often. With nearly 40 stolen bases already, this team stands to blow past last years steal total of 88.

But everyone in the league is running more, the Skitz will likely drop from 6th in stolen bases last year to seventh in spite of the extra steals.

However only one team has been caught stealing less than us, a category we led the league in last year. All in all I would say that we have been better at choosing our spots for steals, optimizing our opportunities. Also that there are no catchers who can throw out baserunners raises the stolen base totals for everyone!


Putting the Mo in Mo-Skitz, the Biscuits have enjoyed a nice run at "Moustache May" and have some very good facial appendages working.


The coaching staff leads the way, though if Brady Williams keeps his lip sweater all year he will need to do a new opening announcement video or it will look like we fired our manager mid-season and hired a new one with a mustache.

Among the other face hair growing guys - Matt Lollis is well on his way to the intimidating closer 'stache. Taylor Motter has a blonde shock of tough scruff that isn't apparent from a distance but seems to grow longer the closer he gets.

The catchers Maile and Bailey have both got the look of classic era players and have impressed me in many ways - more on that below!

Several other guys have great facial hair working, its a pleasant change from the clean cut/shaved head look. I find it makes it easier to root for a guy when I can recognize him and its great to see the team encourage a little individuality!

We miss Casali's bat in the lineup, but his Durham departure has allowed us to enjoy seeing the two-Luke catching tandem.

Mustachioed battery Matt Lollis and Luke Bailey
I mean of course, Bailey and Maile, who have been in the squat for the Skitz since Curts callup.

Both these guys follow the play to first base, running in foul territory behind the runner in case of an overthrow.

Its a small thing, but when I see a catcher actually come down the line more than a few steps it tells me they have a respect for their game and a drive to win.

Most catchers don't get twenty five feet down the line, yet we see Bailey and Maile chasing the action as far as 75 or 80 feet down the first base line. Already this year they have pulled in errant throws and prevented runners from advancing on potential errors.

Also they are great at blocking balls in the dirt. They aren't afraid of using their body to block a pitch on the bounce and keep the play in front of them. Both are probably black and blue from ankle to neck from knocking down balls that hit in front of the plate. As any Biscuits fan knows, we often see our balls in the dirt, so its great to have a couple guys who can really reach down and dig them out.

How about their hitting - the two-Luke catching tandem is the best hitting catcher pair we have had maybe ever. Hitting a combined .290 with 19rbi, the pair also lead the squad in Line Drive %. Both are in the top half of the team in OPS. Yes, Casali was excellent, but as a pair we could certainly have worse than two-Lukes!

The Biscuits hit the road for a series in Jacksonville, Florida against the Suns. If you check the schedule online you would see that its become a SIX game series instead of the usual five. The May 9th Friday night rainout at Riverwalk was changed to a road game in order to get it played in the first half.

Just another example of the league office giving us the shaft - this is where we can point the finger when prices go up and low attendance is cited as the issue. Here's hoping we sweep and thumb our noses at them on the way out!

The Biscuits return on Saturday May 31st against the Ms.Braves, including a guest appearance by "Mountain Man" from Duck Dynasty. Mountain Man has come down from the hills of popular TV to make appearances at quite a few minor league parks already this season. Its a ten game homestand, after the Braves we welcome the Wahoos for the last home games before the Southern League AllStar Game.

Will Cameron Seitzer get a chance to defend his Home Run Derby title? I think so!
Cameron taking a mid-at-bat break on his way to winning the HR Derby



MAY 24, 1918  

Ralph with A's 1917
Ralph Sharman, drowned on May 24 while swimming in the Alabama River at Montgomery near Camp Sheridan. Sharman was only 23 years old and had temporarily left a promising big league career with the Philadelphia Athletics to join the Army. He was captain of the Camp Sheridan team.
Ralph Sharman

Sharman is one of just five major leaguers who are killed in service during World War One, and is the only one to die in the United States. The others were killed overseas and include Alex Burr, Eddie Grant, Bun Troy and Larry Chappell.

Sharman signed and appeared with the A's in 1917, playing in just 13 games. He collected 11 hits, a pair of RBI and stole a base. He is buried in his home state of Ohio.

MAY 24th, 1941

Selma Cloverleafs (Southeastern League) 

Leafs pitcher Hal Toenes relieves in the top of the ninth inning against the Jackson Mississippians with a runner on 1B and two out.  

Without throwing a pitch to the batter, he picks the runner off at first base. The Selma Cloverleafs, four runs down in the 9th inning, score six runs in the bottom of the ninth to give Hal Toenes the pitchless win. 
(from "baseballlibrary/chronology/1941MAY")

see you at the park!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Time Factor Creeps In

Yes indeed, time is a factor for the Biscuits. Last week we got to the one-quarter pole in the MLB season, containing deeper importance for a team in a split season - the first half is halfway complete. Make sense?

Its tough on the Skitz but they did enjoy a day off, skiing, mountainclimbing, catching spies and all other things a player can do on an offday and free netflix from the apartment complex's unsecured WiFi.

Or maybe get something for the grill and just have dinner.

Good for them, because the work starts again today- the North Division sends their beastly Stars to face off on Military Wednesday to begin another five game assault. Last time here they took four of five games, pounding out over 35 runs on us. And that was before the roster moves that sunk the lineup into the slump its been in this month. A strong showing will be needed in the next three weeks if a first half victory is to be had.

The MoBiscuits are currently tied for second place with the Ms.Braves, both three games behind division leader Mobile.

Congrats to Hak-Ju, not only is he getting back on track with his career prospects after his injury last year, but he also got his Durham Bulls 2013 Championship Ring. Nice!

MAY 21 1906
Montgomery hosts New Orleans in a record setting game, it takes just 2 hours and 22 minutes to play all nine innings. There's something you don't see anymore!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Biscuits Identity Crisis, Jim Hugh Moss from One Hitter to Electric Chair

Who are the Biscuits?

Even they don't know - if the team wins the reward is losing their best players which makes it harder to win. If they lose, well, then they are just losers. So far the team has enough talent to withstand a few promotions, though the replacement level guys who fill the void are pretty low quality.

Its an annual problem made worse this year by the Rays playing Devil Rays style baseball, by that I mean "in the basement". The low spot in the AL East standings means that the Rays don't have the luxury of standing pat in the minors. Its all hands on deck in Tampa!

For the Biscuits that means they lose out. The Bulls players move up and the Biscuits lose guys to fill the Durham roster. We have seen in the past that the Port Charlotte roster is off limits for in-season advancement in the first half of the season and often until after mid-July.

So it falls to the guys on the Biscuits who are unable to impress enough to get promoted to power the pennant drive.

Which explains why the Biscuits have never won the first half, and don't know if they are winners or losers.

In fact, they are just Biscuits. 


Skitz 2b Ryan Brett is fourth in the Rays organization with a .398 BABIP.

Willie Argo is second in the organization with over 17% Walk rate.

Pitcher Matt Ramsey, second in the organization in strikeouts per nine innings, leads all Rays with a 47.1% strikeout rate, 41% swinging!

The announcement finally came out - and yes it is indeed a Big Mo statue wearing patriotic clothes.

The marketing department really struck out on this one, from missing the mark on the subject of the giveaway to announcing it just a couple weeks ahead of time and thusly not having a chance to play it up. Add in the fact that fans wanted a Mateo themed giveaway, and its one-two-three strikes your out!

They could give Big Mo in an Uncle Sam hat any year, its a rare chance to commemorate a historic occasion like the first no-hitter in your ballpark. Shame on the Biscuits for failing to promote it the way fans want to see it handled.

Sadly, this has been a trend - falling into the same category as the Meet the Biscuits event that didn't happen. Fans want consistency, not just on the field. The team can't expect fans to support a rotating strategy or random events.

Scott Trible was promoted to General Manager, prompting the question "What took so long?"

Tribs has been filling the role vacated by Marla midseason last summer, likely doing the heavy lifting GM work for Assistant GM money. Its a good thing they went ahead and promoted him, or the ownership might risk being seen as cheapskates.

MAY 17 1920 
"Negro Hurler Goes to One-Hit 'Ledger'

Hurling big league baseball, Moss for the Montgomery Grey Sox held the New Orleans team of the Negro Southern League to 1 hit yesterday afternoon and the home club won the contest 5 to 4. The visitors' runs were due largely to errors."

This is pitcher Jim Hugh Moss, one of only a handful of professional baseball players ever to be executed for murder.

Moss had already spent time with the Chicago American Giants before 1920, later he left the north to return to his southern roots and get work on the railroad. He was recruited to pitch for the GreySox as Montgomery put together a strong team for the Negro Southern league. Moss would be a top of the rotation guy, as evidenced by his one hitter against New Orleans.

However, eight years later he would be embroiled in a bad situation - riding with a white couple and a bottle of whiskey the group would stop at a gas station. The store owner was gunned down and Moss was executed for the crime, as was the husband of the couple.

The wife got a prison sentence and submitted three different versions of a "confession" that variably implicated Moss, her husband, or someone else entirely - depending on which one was at trial and might benefit from a different story.

Later Moss would be recognized as a likely miscarriage of justice.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Roster Changes Aplenty

The end of the first week of May usually means roster changes for the Mo-Skitz and this year is no exception. A bad stretch of play for Montgomery tested the mettle of the team and raised the flag to the parent club as the good bullpen arms have been sent to triple-A, replaced with question marks in butter and blue.
Bulls newest RP

Departing for Durham is the aforementioned Jake Thompson and Jim Patterson, now we can add Braulio Lara to the list as the Rays continue to adjust rosters at the cost of Biscuit victories.


New to wearing the Montgomery uni is starting pitcher Roberto Gomez, the Dominican native has been in the TB organization since 2010 and gets his first taste of baseball above A ball. His live arm has gotten him here, though not evident in his stats. This year and last he has an ERA over 4.50, allows more than a hit an inning and doesn't strike out many.

Matt Ramsey comes off the DL to join the bullpen, and offers hope at the tail end of games if he can get his strikeout pitch working like it was before the injury. Through three innings this year the Knoxville native has punched out six.

Also we have Kevin Brandt, who was mentioned in the last post. KB had a tough outing tonight, surrendering a trio of tallies in a single frame via three hits and a base on balls.

While the Skitz still hold a share of the top spot in the South Division, tied with Mobile, its hard to see Montgomery holding on after the changes we have seen in the past ten days. While a hot April sent the team to the top, the team has just three wins in the last thirteen games, making that Friday rainout look like a mercy mission.

I wish I could predict good things for the Biscuits, but the next homestand vs the Huntsville Stars (24-12, 1st place North Division) and the Mississippi Braves (18-17, one game out of 1st in South Division) will be a huge test for a team that has seen its best hitter replaced with Jeremy Moore and its durable veteran bullpen reduced to relying on arms that have less than three years experience each. It could be a long month of May in Montgomery.


One of my personal favorite oddities occurred this date in history for Montgomery. On the same week that the first Mothers Day was celebrated.

MAY 10 1908 
Montgomery and Shreveport play 15 innings to a tie, 3-3. Not unusual in the era before lighted fields but its what happens the following day that makes it special.
Your 1908 Montgomery Senators
MAY 11, 1908 
Montgomery and Shreveport AGAIN play 15 innings ending in a tie, 1-1. Thats right, 30 innings in two days and no victories or losses. Incredible!

See ya at the park!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Back to base-ics!

Took a couple weeks off the blog - been dealing with overzealous city inspectors. Its called the 4th amendment, guys, look into it.

Now we have traded C Curt Casali and relief pitchers Jimmy Patterson and Jake Thompson for OF Jeremy Moore and reliever Kevin Brandt.

Talent wise, its one of the worst shafts we have gotten. Casali is one of the strongest hitters we have seen in a Biscuits uni and the bullpen guys were beyond valuable. Thompson has the stamina for a full season of good pitching and Patterson is one of the better lefties we have had in relief in some time.

So, what did we get in return?

Getting Brandt from Port Charlotte is a fair replacement for Thompson, both are starters learning the conversion to the bullpen. Appearing in 2o games at three levels last year, Brandt excelled in the small sample size of innings. His conversion to reliever began last year at Charlotte and again for the StoneCrabs this year. He has great stats, but has only tossed 15 games above A-ball, and a meager 41 career games since being an 18th round pick in 2012. His durability could be tested in Montgomery, as the Rays would probably like to get a better gauge of his stamina.

Ah, and then we got fan favorite Jeremy Moore....

His first game here, I boo'd him heartily, heckled like I had never done to a home player. Like a pitcher who has waited all offseason for another chance to face the guy who hit a homer off of him and watched it too long -  I took great pleasure in being loud and obvious.
Moore is less

Yeah, we see what got you here - so far thru two games Moore is oh-fer eight with five K's. I suggested in my blog last summer that he had vision issues, though he had no problems giving me the stankeye during his final at bat of Mondays affair - a strikeout that included two check swings and a watched strike three.

He made the play in left field on the final fly ball of the game. He should be glad, I would have been all over him for dropping an easy fly ball.

At 26 Jeremy Moore is already a player hanging on for dear life. The frustration was apparent last year when he confronted me and other fans angrily, and its obvious now in the struggles at the plate. Having had exactly one hit in the majors, Moore comes with the tag "former big leaguer" which also brings expectations from fans, managers and front office folks.

However there is no evidence to support the idea that Moore is working back to the bigs - the term generally used for this kind of player,"organizational depth", is more telling of what Jeremy brings to the team.

Moore had a cup of coffee, but if you want to see what kind of player he is between the lines we have to look at his Minor League service time. He lost 2012 to a hip surgery, so there is a full season lost. However, on both sides of the injury the numbers are the same. In any season Moore plays 100+ games he has 100+ strikeouts. He topped 2009 with 151 K's, arguably his best season.

Defensively, Moore's ability rests on his legs. If he has the speed after his hip issues he could be the defensive fielder of the the "good field, no hit" variety. Primarily a left fielder, his .966 fielding percentage and his 1.77 range factor numbers are underwhelming.

His stolen base totals before the hip injury were good, racking up twenty bags three times. However he is also a lock to be thrown out at least a third of the time and in some seasons up to half the time. Since the injury Moore hasn't run much at all, 10 steals in 18 attempts last year.

I wont rag on him after this, I got him back for last years incident, so to me, its over. I would suggest that Moore should look into night school, because a change of profession is on the horizon!

See ya at the park!