Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Annual Rant Comes Early This Year


After signing with the Rays, Grady Sizemore will join the Port Charlotte Stone Crabs for workouts.

With the StoneCrabs twenty games over .500, its starting to be insulting watching as the Tampa Rays send their players anywhere but Montgomery. It happens every year, but this season it seems to have come early.

Seriously, the Charlotte team is 43w-20L this year and armed to the gills at every position.

The Crabs have had nine MLB rehabbers appear in a combined 15 games this season. The Charlotte ERA is a miniscule 2.30, their pitchers have a stellar 1.137WhIP. Their batting is just as excellent, with half as many homers as Montgomery they have less than 20 fewer RBI. They lead their league in Runs, Average, OBP, RBI and OPS. Also Wins, ERA, Shutouts and fewest Runs Allowed.

Losing just FIVE games at home so far this year in Port Charlotte, its an affront to the fans in double-A that cheer the team, buy merch and support the players above and beyond the call of duty.

Yet we as fans buy Biscuit tickets, drink the leagues most expensive beer, go to Rays games at home in Tampa and on the road, all for the parent club that has no qualms about making the Biscuits manager struggle to put a competitive lineup on the field for the better part of a decade.

I cheer the Montgomery team when it does well, dress down the Biscuits when they do things wrong, but no quarter is given to the Major league team when they handle the team this way year after year. This is a problem that the Rays and Biscuits front offices need to address.

Montgomery has a losing record at home each of the last seven years and have fallen short of playoffs due to needing players. The most recent playoff appearance resulted in the Biscuits being swept, a team that was there because it only lost half of the last ten games while another team tanked badly.

Cam Seitzer as relief pitcher
When Cameron Seitzer plays shortstop last summer because they won't send a middle infielder, that is a deliberate decision to cut Montgomery short. A decision made in the Rays front office. The same office that traded the Biscuits closer, Matt Ramsey, for international signing slot money that was spent on a 16 year old.

Its a recurring theme, shorting Montgomery players the team needs to compete.


If you doubt that, just look at the roster over the past 30 days.

With the potential arrival of Matt Buschmann we could finally see a return to a full set of 25 players. Assuming there isn't another Biscuit promoted, he fills the spot vacated FOUR DAYS ago with the promotion of RP Winkler to Durham. No other team in the chain goes as many as three days with a short roster.

SS Daniel Robertson
Yet, the Biscuits don't have 25 guys who can play.

There is shortstop prospect, Daniel Robertson. Sidelined since about June 3rd with a broken hamate bone, two weeks later he is yet to be put on the disabled list which means he is yet to be replaced on the roster.

Montgomery has been playing with a short roster the entire month, with the last significant move being infielder Querecuto, who came in to replace Everett Teaford on June 3.

Everett Teaford, of course.
Everett Teaford
If you don't remember Teaford, don't feel bad.

He was never here, simply a paper move to fill the spot Richie Shaffer opened up on his promotion on May 24th.

Its not the first time hes gone missing.

Confused yet?
Just wait....

Winkler debuts wearing Shaffers #8
Teaford came onto the roster to fill the spot opened by Shaffer, but not just that. Shaffer was promoted on the 24th, and on the next day pitchers Winkler and Stanek arrived to bolster the bullpen.

They filled empty holes where Mikey O'Brien was released and Leonardo Reginatto promoted to Durham on the 21st of May.

So that roster spot that was filled was actually two roster spots that opened up before the Shaffer promotion, which makes three open positions on the roster, but only two men were sent to fill them.

Since the 15th of May Montgomery has sent to Durham/Charlotte, put on the DL or released: Reginatto, Shaffer, O'Brien, Teaford*, Stowell**, Patterson*, Dominguez*, Winkler, Cooper, Zarate*

Not making the DL yet, but injured, Daniel Robertson

Since the same date the Skitz have received: Dominguez*, Reginatto, Stanek**, Winkler, Teaford*, Querecuto**, Stowell**

*appeared in one game or less for MGM this year
**still active with team on 6/16

Sum it up?
I'm not sure I can, but I will try.
The Biscuits have simply sent out more guys than they have gotten. When two bad pitchers in late May were released and 3b Shaffer promoted, we were sent one pitcher and an infielder.

Guys who seemed like replacements at the time of their joining the team, weren't replacements at all and the Rays likely knew it.

Wilmer Dominguez caught one single game before being shuffled on paper to "extended spring training" (i.e. Bullpen catcher in Montgomery), reliever Jimmy Patterson made a spot start lasting two innings and hasn't been seen on the team since.

Teaford was never here, a roster move on paper as the Rays shuffled players around the Biscuits, buying the Rays time for the other affiliates to absorb players that should have come to Montgomery.

Durham Bulls-12 games over .500 tyvm
Reginatto was sent from Charlotte to Durham, then spent a week here before going back to the Bulls. JuneQ did the same, bypassing the Biscuits for four games with the Bulls before being sent to the Biscuits - essentially a swap of Reginatto for JuneQ. (pretty sure the idea behind this was "send them both to durham and see who is better, other guy goes to biscuits")

In the meantime, our prospect shortstop Robertson has returned to Tampa for his hamate bone surgery but hasn't been put on the Disabled List as Port Charlotte's prospect shortstop Willy Adames puts up numbers worthy of a call-up (.290avg/.365opb/.776ops).

All this together means the Biscuits are short a reliever for a week, short two relievers most of a week and without an infielder for ten full days. All in the same three week span!

Simply put, the Tampa Bay Rays have again decided to hang us out to dry.

The idea of improving the minor league depth comment that Montgomery fans were hoping meant an improvement at double-A obviously meant that the Rays wanted to see Charlotte and Durham win by fifteen games instead of just ten. No other conclusion can be reached when seen in light of the roster moves.


So whats the reason?
I have my suspicions, but not sure if there is one single thing.

Some have pointed to the field itself.
Its a drag, man
In large part its true, the Riverwalk Stadium playing conditions are often atrocious.

We have the hardest clay infield in the league, maybe in all of minor league ball. The outfield is pocked with low spots that become mudholes after any rainfall and the entire playing field takes a week to dry out after a single rainstorm.

When it does finally dry, the basepaths crack like a desert floor.

The field was just re-built two years ago.

But in answer to that I say: The Rays play at the Trop and are complaining about our field? You gotta be kidding me.

There is not a single problem at Riverwalk that doesn't occur - or worse - at the major league level, and will continue to happen through 2027.

Bad lighting, low spots, lumpy turf, hard infields and fans who don't show up are the longtime hallmarks of Tampa Rays baseball. Their playing conditions are often atrocious, maybe the worst in the league.

The Rays should bring all their best guys here to soak up the atmosphere before getting to the bigs, this is closer to real life for Tampa prospects than twelve game leads and "hit-bull-win-steak" summers will ever be.

Get over it, BayRays, just put some talent on the field at Double-A.

The fans in Montgomery turn out in droves to support a winner - put one on the field and see.

No, of course they can't compete with college football, but the Rays don't try to compete with NHL or NFL seasons in Tampa.

Again in this, Montgomery emulates the big leagues better than any other affiliate in the chain. It should be a positive, not a negative. Otherwise, players are disappointed when they get to Tampa and see empty seats for playoff games.

Fans everywhere love to see a winner. It's why the Biscuits were the top minor league merchandise sellers in the 2006-07 era. The team was good and fans showed how much they liked it - with dollars. Fans everywhere, not just Montgomery.
nearly ten years ago

The Rays put winning teams on the field in Charlotte and Durham EVERY year, yet Montgomery has made the playoffs only once since their 2007 championship.

As for the Rays, I can only hope they prove me wrong. But so far, this year has the same stamp as the ones before it. The Biscuits have the talent to win, but have had the legs cut out from under them, hamstrung by the MLB parent club front office. This team is going nowhere as long as it is cut off from the talent in the system.

So if you made it this far, you deserve a treat, maybe we can get Willie Argo to whip something up for us!

A look at the hottest Biscuits hitters, Boog Powell and Johnny Field Jr.!

1 comment:

Chris W. said...

Points well made.