Friday, December 16, 2016

Holiday Biscuits Hot Stove

Yes, I know, its been almost a month since the last post. So dive right into a hefty helping of holiday Biscuits fresh from the hot stove....

Jared Mortensen
Skitz knuckleballer Jared Mortensen was taken in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft, packing up his flutterball and Kurt Cobain-era heater to pitch for the Astros.

Good news for Morty, who has fewer obstacles in the Houston organization between himself and the big leagues. Also, its closer to home - the Canadian Biscuit has been making his home in Texas for a while now.

Mortensen had been stuck in a holding pattern in Montgomery for three seasons, going 19w-13L and striking out 224 in 70 games at double-A.

Richie Shaffer
Former Biscuit Richie Shaffer was shipped to Seattle in trade, then DFA'd by the Mariners and claimed by the Phillies.

Again, a good thing for Shaffer as it means he has only to wait for the Phils front office to tire of Maikel Franco's slow development in order to get his big league gig.

Shaffer played for the Skitz in 2014 and 2015, appearing in 158 games with 26 homers, 91 RBI and .233 average.

Justin O'Conner
Biscuit catcher Justin O'Conner was also Designated For Assignment after the Rays piled millions of dollars onto catcher Wilson Ramos and needed a roster spot.

Its a good bet that some team will claim O'Conner, who possesses one of the best throwing arms behind the dish.

Its not out of the realm of possibility that O could be moved back to his original position - third base. He also pitched before turning pro and could be a candidate for becoming a pitcher again.

Some have labeled Justin as an injury risk, though I don't agree with that - until jacking his back up this spring he had been in over 100 contests for three straight seasons.

Ryan Brett
Another former Biscuit, Ryan Brett, was released by the Rays and then quickly resigned back with Tampa Bay. Brett is also accused of being injury prone, although with him the label is much more accurate. After being hurt in his third MLB game back in 2015, he has yet to play in a game since.

Brett played for the Biscuits in 2013 and 2014, batting .290 with 31 stolen bases in 132 games.

I like Ryan Brett but honestly I wonder how the team can value a second baseman who has chronic shoulder issues and average range so highly. With such a plethora of infielders in the organization, it seems odd that the Rays would retain the diminutive third round infielder and let a first round catcher like O'Conner get away.

The new Biscuits hat, the "Biscuit Lid" is taking pre-orders, but it requires a down payment in advance? $15 down now reserves you the chance to pay twenty bucks when the hats finally arrive, though its not yet known what the actual price will be. Somewhere in the $35 range.

Come on, Biscuits! Figure out the price and sell the merch. The team has already missed their best chance to sell the hats when there was a buzz about the new design and now are unable to deliver the goods for Christmas, it will be February before they are made available.

The new cap is the winning submission from the recent hat design contest and will be a pretty cool top for fans when they do come in.

I am humbled and honored to have been asked to give a scholarly presentation to a group of baseball researchers on Montgomery's original first baseman, Dr. A.T.Pearsall. Pearsall, the subject of a blog post a while back titled "Ex-Excelsior", brought baseball to Montgomery and indeed he can be said to be the Father of the game in Alabama, if not all of the South.

I have learned more than a little of the good Dr's background, it is a fascinating story of a player banned from the game for saving lives as a Confederate doctor. Also Pearsall founded Montgomery's baseball team and played first base for its first team in 1867.

The presentation will be part of the annual conference of baseball historians, researchers and authors held every spring at Rickwood Field in Birmingham.

After being asked to speak, I went back to fact check my work and learned there was much more to the story of Dr.Pearsall and am looking forward to presenting my newest findings to the Southern Association Conference and the Rickwood SABR chapter.

Thats not the only speaking engagement I have coming up in the new year. I have also been asked to speak for the Alabama Recreation and Parks Association state conference. I will host a one hour educational presentation on the history of baseball in Montgomery, covering topics from the 19th century through current events.

Attendees can accrue college credit for attending, which is a first for me - how cool is that?

New from Clarence Watkins
I was given an early sneak peek at a new book titled "Baseball in Montgomery: Images of Baseball" by its author, Clarence Watkins. I am proud to call Clarence a friend as well as colleague, we got together for lunch earlier this month and he had an advance copy of the book that is due out in February 2017.

Watkins has authored books on the game in other cities and this time he has taken on the Montgomery history with a very visual telling of the past teams. Full of images and info with a tasteful and honest look at the players and games, it provides a nostalgic overview and is chock full of rare photos from years gone by.

Did I mention the great pictures? Seriously, Clarence has unearthed photos that have only been seen in former players mothers scrapbooks. This publication features three of my fave folks on the cover, Goat Walker is featured in the forefront and behind him is a Biscuits team photo that shows coaching legend Ozzie Timmons and Victor "No-Hitter" Mateo.


Monday, November 21, 2016

Hot Stove, Ex Biscuits on the Move

Some former Biscuits were on the move last week as the hot stove heats up. Richie Shaffer and Taylor Motter were packed off to Seattle and clearing room on the 40 man roster for new additions.

In return the Rays acquired 1B Dalton Kelly and RHPs Dylan Thompson and Andrew Kittredge. 

Some of the guys added to the 40 man roster are former Skitz stars, Willie Adames, Chih-Wei Hu, Austin Pruitt, Ryne Stanek, Jamie Schultz, Daniel Robertson and Hunter Wood. Those players are now protected from the Rule 5 draft.

For Biscuits fans, its great news, as neither Motter or Shaffer are likely to be back in Montgomery and the prospects received might. For the Rays, it opens the door for promotions within the organization.

Also in last weeks transactions, former Biscuit Armando Araiza signed with the Braves and popular infielder Juniel Querecuto agreed to a deal with the San Francisco Giants.

The winner of the hat contest will be revealed today, everyone has been on the edge of their seat waiting to see which design will be chosen!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Winter Biscuits

There isn't much news right now, but lets see if we can come up with something to tide us over for a little while.

Several Biscuits filed for free agency last week, among them Jake DePew and Jaye Chapman. Also filing was reliever Andrew Bellatti, as well as catchers Wilmer Dominguez and Armando Araiza.

Juniel Querecuto
Many teams in the Southern League had players declaring themselves free agents, some may return to their current organizations and some may move on.

Triple-A teams can be even more apt to have players declare as such, though only four Durham Bulls took that route. Of those four only Juniel Querecuto has past Montgomery ties.

Willie Argo
Willie Argo was dealt from the St.Paul Saints and his new club, the Sioux Falls Canaries, have picked up his option for 2017.

The American Association league has been the stomping ground for the former Biscuit outfielder, Argo boats a .290 career average before being traded to a new club in the indie loop. He stole 28 bases and hit a dozen homers in 2015 for the Saints, then in 2016 he swatted another eight homers.

Argo had a big moment with St.Paul when he got to meet Bill Murray in the Saints dugout at a game, Murray being part owner of the franchise.

Willie was obviously a little bummed about the trade and having to leave the Saints. A nice farewell tweet thanks fans and the club for support over the last two years.

A 22nd round choice in 2012 by the Rays, Willie Argo appeared in 120 games with Montgomery in 2014, stealing 24 bases as a Biscuit. In a strange turn of events, the Rays released Willie just one day after his appearance with Chef Jeff on Flip My Food. Guess they didn't like the Hot Dog Biscuit!

The Biscuits hat contest voting has been extended, but I have to say I am a little skeptical. It looks like a couple of the designs fans can vote for were seen on the announcement for the contest. Another is listed with a designers copyright attached. I am not sure how many actual "fan" submissions there were, but at least if the choices are all professionally designed we get high style!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Hot Stove Heats Up Biscuits

You must be starving for Biscuits already... okay, let me stoke up the hot stove and then we will see what we have in the cupboard.

The Biscuits released their schedule for 2017, we will be taking a look at that over the next few weeks and months. Most of the season ticketholder benefits remained about the same, and the ticket price didn't change either. Pretty much business as usual there and we like it.

Have you submitted your design for the new Biscuits hat yet? You only have until the 7th!

I am glad to see this, its a variation on a suggestion I made, turn the design over to the fans. The Biscuits website has the template to download, pretty straightforward. One design per fan.

When I asked for details I learned it would not be a gamer, its a hat for fans made by fans. It is also likely a '47 brand hat, which should be cool.

My design? Just add houndstooth checks and watch them fly off the shelves.

Not yet officially confirmed, it is a foregone conclusion there will be extra nets at Riverwalk for next season.

Cade Gotta brought nets to the park with a foul ball line drive that injured a fan, luckily she only lost an eye as it could have been fatal.

Less than two weeks later another fan injury in the same section, the result is that nets will extend over the dugouts.

I consider myself an old-school baseball guy, but I have softened just a little on the nets. Stats wise, a miniscule percentage of fans are injured by flying objects at games. However that low number could be reduced even more by adding a little more netting.

The Biscuits front office took the brunt of the bad press on the fan injuries this past summer, when in fact it is the duty of the City of Montgomery to maintain the park and its equipment to keep fans safe.

The cost will be the city's responsibility, but an effect will likely be felt by the team, where the premium seating will suffer from a slightly diminished view. Other teams have seen a dramatic drop in season ticket sales where extra nets have been put up. Which also lowers the chances someone will be hurt in those seats - since nobody will be sitting there.

Word on the street is that the Biscuits could be skippered by a new manager in 2017.

Brady Williams is usually a one year contract guy and may have other plans and opportunities. When he left, Brady seemed to be of a mood for change, certainly he has little left to prove as a manager at the double-A level.

Possibilities abound within the Rays organization, Reinaldo Ruiz, Mike Johns, Ozzie Timmons, Craig Albernaz, Tim Parenton or any of a whole crew of Tampa Rays coaching guys. Also it is not beyond the realm of possibility that the Rays would bring in a new manager to head the Skitz.

For just the third time in team history, the Biscuits will wear a themed jersey.
Stranger Things is the theme, the Netflix series is an homage to horror pop culture and the jersey top is a woodsy scene with the team name in the shows title script.

Someone asked my opinion, but frankly since I haven't seen the show it is kind of tough for me to get excited about having a Biscuits uniform in that style. It seems rather a niche item and I just don't have any idea how fans will look at it.

It certainly isn't the throwback/fauxback jersey that was considered last year, which I would have much more excited to see.

Yes, I said THIRD time for the Biscuits in a themed jersey.
Can you name the other two?
See answer below!

We can also take a peek at the predictions made earlier in the year.

Roster - I predicted the majority of the opening day roster, and most of the players I predicted would be Biscuits made it to the club at some point during the season.
23 players made the team that were on my January list.

Also, there was some doubt about the coaching assignments, I successfully predicted all three coaches, plus Marty Gantt who was on my team roster appeared as the Biscuits video coach.

Record - I predicted the Biscuits would win ten more games in '17 than they did in '16. They actually won one less than last year. Swing and a miss.

Win Both Halves - I said it could happen, but the Skitz only won the second half. So thats a half-success for the prediction.

Postseason - I predicted the Biscuits would make the postseason, which they did, but I also said they would win more than last year. They won exactly the same, one postseason game. Swing and a miss.

One of the great things about being a "blogger" is that I can make mistakes. Like that misplaced comma in the January post with the predictions! That was of course supposed to be a period, but hey, I missed it.

But then sometimes I nail it.
Like the roster, getting a look into the future, taking a guess and seeing it come to pass is a cool thing.

So is getting history right.

I went back and took a look at one of my most popular posts to check it for facts. Always trying to improve. I wasn't sure what made it popular, but the post "Odd Arch Persons" has gotten a ton of views over the past year or so, rising to the top of the list. I checked it out, read it again and was surprised to learn more about what I had learned about!

To save you the trouble of having to read up on past posts, Arch Persons is one of just two players on the 1909 Montgomery team to not reach the major leagues. However he has a card in the popular tobacco T206 set, released from 1909-1911.

Of the 500+ cards in the set, about a hundred are minor league players and four were with Montgomery. I found that interesting enough and decided to take a deeper look at the player pictured in the famous set.

When I looked Persons up to write the original post, he had intermittent stats listed on Baseball Reference dot com, some years were missing and some were fully noted.

As I looked further, I learned his name was often misspelled, and that Arch Persons and a player named Archie PeArson had career stats that dovetailed together perfectly.

It was obvious to me that they were one and the same, the guy had turned a misspelling of his name into a handy career move. Archie was able to negotiate contracts midseason or jump to new teams thanks to being able to play as Person on the east coast and Pearson when in the west.

A career minor leaguer, he simply stood out to me as a Montgomery player who had a great 1910 baseball card but never made to the bigs. I wrote about what I learned on the blog, posted his numbers and some of the research I had done and found a few photos in old newspapers that nobody else seemed to have available.

Archie Persons
I must have been right, changed the Arch Persons player page to include his west coast stats and deleted Archie Pearsons as a separate player!

I was stunned, it felt great to have helped a guys career get right with history. Not a great star or famous figure, simply a baseball grunt who earned his living with a misspelled name.


Surely you heard that the Suns new ownership has changed the team name to Jumbo Shrimp. Fans are up in arms, but its the same old same old for the owner, who also changed the name of the Akron Aeros without shedding a tear for the teams actual fans.

While many local fans complained about the name change, one fan put up a petition against it. Comments there are worth reading, one signer gave credit to the new owner for figuring out how to shorten lines at the concession stand by making people too embarrassed to attend games.

The Suns made a roster move just the day before the change in moniker, so now David Vidal is the last Jacksonville Suns player!

Emails reveal the Smokies ownership has a secret desire to go back to Knoxville, probably around 2019.

The owner would be willing to pay the rent at the current ballpark to the end of the lease if Knoxville has a new home for the Smokies. That would mean paying 300K through 2025 for a place the team didn't want.

For now, those involved say its an Appalachian League team being considered. But at $50-60mm to build, the low level summer league team would probably never be able to offset the cost of a new park.

While the park is still in great shape, the Lookouts owner says Chattanooga will need a new stadium in the near future.
What I found most intriguing is his reference to a "design flaw" that puts a large chunk of the fans in full sun most of the year.

 "The biggest one is the orientation, and the reason we have a harder time in July and August compared to April and May is very attributable to that orientation. Many teams have the best part of their season during that time because the kids are out of school, and the fact that is harder for us is because the sun angle that causes us the issues there."

The article states that the 'Nooga park is the third oldest in the Southern League, behind Mobile and Jackson Tn. It also says the team has had attendance issues recently, due in part to the fans "having no relief from the sun and heat during the early innings."

Truly this a design flaw at Riverwalk as well.

Most Biscuit fans easily recall the Back To The Future jerseys worn in 2014.
Brady Williams had a classic moment wearing them as he was tossed for arguing with the umpires and proceeded to let loose with his opinion before hitting the showers.

However if you also said the Climbers Jerseys the Biscuits wore at the 2006 Rickwood Classic, you get a cookie!

Sure, the game was rained out but the team certainly suited up in the 1909 style garb, supplied by the Bham Barons.

I have tried and tried to get info on the Montgomery tops worn, but have yet to find out what happened to them. Likely the Barons have them in storage, but I have no confirmation that they even still exist. I still have hopes the Biscuits will get invited back to Rickwood and get to wear the old uniforms again.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Big 2016 Season Awards, Gotta Sets Record

The Generals of Jackson wrapped up the Southern League title with a sweep of the MsBraves last week, pretty much as expected.

The Biscuits could only tip their cap and call the Gens their daddy after mustering just a single victory in the playoffs for the second consecutive season. The victory was the first postseason win the Biscuits have had at their home park since 2007.
While the Generals garner the league flag I find it tough to consider them the best team in the league, their main talent being to claim more W's than L's. Its a feat they managed with smoke and mirrors more than ability.

 Posting a league high batting average and OBP by leading the circuit in hits and walks gave opposing pitchers fits and opened the door to winning games.

The Generals pitching was nondescript, vanilla enough not to hurt the club. Tyler O.Neil was sent with a mission to carry the team from day one and indeed he did so, putting up MVP numbers and setting aside his career progress to bring a title to Jackson, Tennessee.

The Generals won the Southern League on one single piece of advice - "Don't swing the bat until you absolutely have to".

Jackson saw more pitches and took more walks than any other team in the league. They had longer At Bats by waiting until two strikes were called to swing for a hit.

Example: Tyler O'Neil hits walk off three run homer in first game of playoffs on a two-ball and two-strike count.

When opposing pitchers challenged on the first two strikes and then went out of the zone on the very next pitch, the Generals had issues.

For whateever reason, teams in the southern league were unable or unwilling to be that efficient against Jackson.

Example: Biscuits no-hit the Generals with bullpen pitchers, the no nibbling relievers went right at hitters and shut them down entirely by trying to pitch efficiently.

The Biscuits season came to an end at the hands of the Gens, who seemed to have a mojo working on the Montgomery team all year. While the end was bitter it should not sour the great season fans enjoyed at Riverwalk all summer, as Brady Williams was handed a roster full of talent and prospects with which to entertain.

And entertain they did, winning often at home in dramatic fashion and dazzling on the road. This squad was full of familiar faces early in the year but by seasons end had a very different look. The excitement of several late inning walk off wins brought new energy to Riverwalk Stadium.

Stats wise, the team was full of talent and provided solid numbers. Leading the league in homers and OPS, the Biscuits put many dents in the walls of southern league ballparks. Second in stolen bases, the Skitz were off and running, challenging catchers and infielders with speed.

Chih-Wei Hu: best ERA in the league
The starting staff was phenomenal from the first day and only got better. While the bats were making much noise, the starters were quietly consistent and effective. Pitching put this team into the playoffs, in large part due to its strong and talented starting pitchers. 

Biscuit bullpen pitchers were a mixed bag, sometimes dazzling, sometimes demoralizing. It was tough going at times and left fans wondering how the team would close the door at the end of the game.

However, over the course of the summer Manager Brady and Pitching Coach RC Lichtenstein managed to hammer out a reliable bullpen. Fans even got to see a couple MLB rehabbers.

Somehow it came together when the Rays brought in Jaye Chapman, the team looked complete.

Most notable among the promotions were pitchers Jacob Faria and Ryne Stanek. Both were having fine seasons and picking up great accolades, so advancement was definitely due.

Faria, right and Stanek would head to the Bulls
Ryne Stanek
Ryne Stanek was leading the team in strikeouts when he was reclassified as a reliever.

When was the last time you saw the team strikeout leader sent to the bullpen? But Stanek thrived there as well, dealing high 90s gas and shutting down opponents rallies. He was a welcome addition to the bullpen at a time when help was needed.

Jacob Faria, who had already put down cash on an apartment in Durham before being sent to the Biscuits at the last minute before the seasons start, took the return to double-A in stride and pitched his way out of town before the All Star Break.

He got some good out of those Durham digs after all!

Casey Gillaspie
1B Casey Gillaspie went to Durham also, proving his worth in Montgomery by showing world-class plate discipline.

Casey led the circuit in walks and batted .270 with 11 homers and a team leading .840 OPS, BigCaseDawg was a beast with a bat. I felt he was a fine defensive first baseman, his .988 fielding percentage led Biscuits infielders.

Also working his way up the Rays ladder was shortstop Jake Hager. After injury shortened his 2015 season it didn't take long for Hager to show he was ready for a promotion to Durham.

Johnny Field Jr.
Along with Hager went Johnny Field Jr. both among the earliest promotions, but also the easiest to predict, as both had little left to prove at the double-A level.

However, the Bulls team they went to was terrible and it can be argued that they were better off in the Southern League compared to what they experienced in Durham.

Before his promotion, Field was guilty of breaking up a no-hitter that the Biscuits were going to win. Up 3-1 in the bottom of the 8th inning, Field singled to the groans of the home fans as well as teammates!

After the last game I saw Cade Gotta and shook his hand, thanking him for his fine work.
I told him how much we enjoyed watching him play the outfield for Montgomery and that I felt he "really brings it every single day".

 What I should have said was "Congratulations on setting the Biscuits record for most games by an outfielder without an error."

Its true. All summer fans debated which of the fine Biscuit outfielders was best in the Willie-Mickey-Duke fashion.

Each outfielder brought rave reviews for their talents -
Left fielder Granden Goetzman's reliable two handed catches, Braxton Lee's fleet feet in centerfield, Justin Williams cannon arm in right field all drew praise.

Yet Cade Gotta quietly handled every ball hit his way without fail and picked up a team leading 12 assists while splitting time at all three outfield positions.

Gotta was the one who was without a regular position, getting into games all across the outfield and rarely in the same spot two days in a row.

Perhaps shifting to a new spot in the field every day kept him fresh and alert, able to handle each opportunity cleanly.

For the record: Ty Morrison had one error in 101 games, his .996 fielding percentage from 2012 was tops among Skitz OF regulars with more than 60 games.

In 2011 Stephen Vogt played 40 errorless in left field, Emeel Salem had 49 games error free the year before.

Previously, the diminutive centerfielder Pedro Powell had held the record with 54 clean games in the outfield in '09. Jason Pridie had 40 error free games in 2007.

 Cade Gotta played 66 flawless contests for the Biscuits this summer, which is the new franchise mark. His 2.8 range factor is stellar.

By comparison, Kevin Kiermaier logged a 2.92 Range Factor three seasons ago, but made three errors and finished with .989 fielding percentage in 89 games.

Fans marveled at the outfield talent on this years team, perhaps the feat going unnoticed is a tip to the event - good job on not doing something to get noticed.

So let me go on record here and predict: Cade Gotta makes an error in the first week of 2017. Jinx is on!


The most valuable player overall this season has to be Willy Adames. Willy looked to be having the time of his life on the field, and as well he should - he was on his way to a career year statistically. The young shortstop was the face of the team, emerging as a smiling leader on the field and in the dugout.

Adames cut down on his errors, especially of the throwing type, displaying great range and accuracy. His footwork around the bag seemed excellent, avoiding unwanted contact with baserunners and having good positioning for putting a tag down when needed.

The Adames batting was consistent after a slow April, knocking career highs in batting average, home runs, stolen bases - he just missed on RBIs.

A steady occupant of the third spot in the batting order, Willy was much better batting fourth but hey, they don't ask me to fill out the lineup card!

While much can be said of the numbers Willy Adames generated, his best talent is his personality. He brings winning attitude and lifts a club with a cheerful presence, forming a bond with players and fans that makes baseball fun to play and watch.

More than one person suggested that the first half MVP award for this team goes to catcher Mike Marjama.

A torn quad muscle ended the young backstops season much too early, his handling of the pitching staff was exemplary in the first half. Marj brought a great bat to the middle of the lineup and was an important factor in the Biscuits success.

Marj underwent surgery to repair his injury after it became apparent that he would not be able to return to the team during either the season or the playoffs.

Credit Marjama that he was trying to get back to help his teammates, working to rehab until the last possible moment, even to get into just one game to help the Biscuits to a pennant.

Mike Marjama is a solid catcher and an excellent individual, always striking me as an upfront and hardworking player.

Batting .288 with five homers and 38 RBI in just under a half season, Mike should be ready to go for spring training and hopefully come back to Montgomery to pick up right where he left off.

Jake Bauers had a fabulous season and is a strong team MVP candidate, the young slugger handled being shuffled from outfield to first base with ease and showed great defensive skills at both positions, making it hard to pass him up for the award.

Indeed, many consider Jake Bauers the best all round first baseman the team has had. Jake didn't let many bad throws get by him, his ability to dig out low balls is excellent. Bauers brings good movement around the bag and has great range for a first baseman.

Bauer had seven outfield assists, so don't run on Jake. He had ten stolen bases, though, so he might run on you!

Jake led the team with 14 home runs, 78 RBI, stole ten bases and played both right field and first base with flair.

No Biscuit played in more games this year than Jake Bauers 135.

Bauers should be co-MVP, if Willie wants to share the title.

An online poll saw a write-in vote cast for catcher Jake DePew, and I wholeheartedly agree that JD made the difference for the Biscuits when they needed him most.

Moving from backup to every day catcher, Jake stepped up and took over handling tough pitchers.

If it were not for the fine play of DePew, Montgomery would not have made it to the post season. Jake DePew saved the Biscuits.

Also an online vote was cast for Miss Gravy, the suidae mascot in her final season with the team. Unfortunately Miss G did not appear at enough games to qualify for the award, but is regarded highly enough that her name was tossed in for consideration.

The toughest of the awards, the three headed monster of Hu-Guerrieri-Kirsch drove the Biscuits into contention.

With around 140 innings pitched each, its tough to find a way to set one apart from the others.

Taylor Guerrieri won a dozen games, Chih-Wei Hu led the league in ERA and Chris Kirsch pitched his way onto the league leaderboard in multiple stats.

Any of the three could easily handle the moniker of MVPitcher, but if I have to choose one....

For me, the title of Most Valuable Pitcher goes to lefthander Chris Kirsch, who had a solid season and led the pitching staff with 114 strikeouts.

Kirsch pitched a dominant complete game shutout at Birmingham and later brought the Biscuits their first postseason win at home in almost ten seasons.

Among the top five leaders in ERA and strikeouts in the league, Kirsch never missed a start and almost always carried the ball late into the game.

Following the final game I caught Chris to congratulate him on his work this summer. This is how the conversation went:

me "Great season this year, Kirsch"
ck "yeah, not bad for a guy with a torn hip labrum"
me ":O"

Again, its true. Chris Kirsch pitched all season with a hip injury, one that will require offseason surgery to correct. He expects to be fully recovered in time for spring training.

Chris said he knew about the injury as the season began but didn't want to miss any time after being assured he was okay to pitch through it.

Yeah, not bad at all.

Kirsch narrowly edges out Chih-Wei Hu. And for me the only reason is that Hu missed two Montgomery starts, one he made in Durham and another to the Futures Game.

Chih-Wei allowed fewer hits, fewer walks and fewer home runs than Kirsch, but as a top prospect he is expected to have better numbers than a 14th round signee like Chris Kirsch, who made each of his 24 starts for the Skitz.

Also making a very strong case is Taylor Guerrieri.
Also with fewer hits and fewer walks than Kirsch, but giving up a couple more long balls and thusly a higher ERA, Taylor led the staff with 12 wins and had excellent statistics all season.

Guerrieri made one more start than Kirsch, it could have been two but rehabbing Chase Whitley forced Guerrieri into relief, he picked up his first career save in that game.

A quick look at the relief corps reveals some good candidates for top fireman.

Kyle Winkler
Kyle Winkler was a reliable hurler for Montgomery this summer, filling in at closer and working well as the setup man.

Winklers 2.59 ERA was tied for the best in the pen, his 1.02 WhIP shows he was great at keeping runners off the pillows.

An argument could be made for Jaye Chapman, but the veteran closer was a late addition compared to the other relievers on the list. His 4.43 ERA also works against him in these considerations, though his nine saves tops the team.

Jordan Harrison
Kyle Bird
Lefties Kyle Bird and Jordan Harrison were both very good. Harrison also had a 2.59 ERA in relief, didn't take a loss all year and stifled opponents in the hit department.

Kyle Bird was in a few more games than Harry and got touched for a few more hits, but kept his ERA under 3.00 and finished 17 games.

But the true Bullpen Boss is Jeff Ames, appearing in 48 games and earning six saves Jeff was "Good Aim" Ames.

Learning the cutter helped get Ames into a lot of contests over the course of the full season. With a nice 2.71 ERA, one win and one loss, Jeff earned the trust of his manager and was deployed in games the good guys had a chance of winning.

A feel pitch that Jeff gets two different types of movement from, the cutter is a weapon that put the right hander into the game more than any other reliever this year.

A broken bone he received in the last game of the year isn't expected to be any problem for Jeff moving forward into next spring.

Overall the success of the Biscuits was more a group effort than individual accomplishment. There was no one man who was more important, nobody asked to carry the team for weeks at a time. Each player took their jobs seriously and performed to the best of their ability.

Not mentioned here are many quality players who contributed to the second half Champions - the guys like Pat Leonard, Kean Wong, Tommy Coyle, Juniel Querecuto, pitchers Jared Mortensen, Steve Ascher, Brent Honeywell and others. Each of them pitched in to bring a great team together on the field in 2016.

The BayBears will affiliate with the LA Angels, supposedly of Anaheim though I haven't been there to be sure thats the case. This will be the first time the BayBears have had to use a designated hitter, having always been aligned with a National League team in the past.

It will be a two year deal, buying the league two season to find and build a new ballpark somewhere nearby to accommodate a team, or to upgrade the Hank.

Previous tenants, the AZ Diamondbacks have bolted to better digs in Jackson, Tn and will stock the Generals. The Mariners now set up shop in Arkansas, completing the affiliate shell game for the moment.

#BULLPENLIFE: The Offseason