Monday, June 13, 2016

Rebuilding Biscuits


As the Biscuits bus left for Pensacola on Friday morning, the theme of the trip was Thrift Store Fashion. It was a theme embraced by the guys as they went all out to bring home the Best Dressed Title and avoid the Worst Dressed, though some were hoping to win both.


A fitting theme for a team that has been showing some wear, in need of a good cleaning up and perhaps a new patch or two.

While the Jackson Generals sewed up the first half title, Montgomery was slipping into third place in the division and wearing used clothing. After dropping the home series against Biloxi, the Biscuits were pretty well discombobulated and changes were in the works.


MISSION ONE: SAVE THE STAFF

REBUILD THE BULLPEN
Assessing the Biscuits struggles in the first half doesn't take a star chart or slide rule, the bullpen needed help and it showed. A pair of good arms had graduated, Parker Markel and Adam Kolarek were sent to Durham at the start of May, leaving the Skits with two empty chairs in the bullpen.

Kyle Bird listens to pitching coach RC Lichtenstein
Kyle Bird landed a week later as the first reinforcement, proving his worth in the first month by playing in ten games and losing none of them.

 As a lefty, Bird is tough on right handed hitters and has kept his walks very low. Bird is prone to pitch in traffic, he will usually allow a hit but he knows how to limit the damage. He has been particularly effective at Riverwalk.



Next in is Jordan Harrison. If the name sounds familiar, you get a cookie. Jordan was a Biscuit last April, tossing in six games and losing one.

After his bad start in Montgomery last year, Jordan went back to Port Charlotte, then down to Bowling Green and back to Port Charlotte, the lefty is now earning a second shot of double-A. For the Stone Crabs this year, hitters knocked Harry to a .309 clip but as a Biscuit Jordan has kept them to just .107 average.

ADJUST ROTATION
Starting Pitcher Hunter Wood
Then came Hunter Wood.

Fans wondered when we talked about Wood and his stats, he is a starting pitcher and we had a full staff of starters.

The Skitz had two six games series in a row, an oddity which gave Brady Williams the luxury of a six man rotation. But eventually the change was made, Ryne Stanek was seen sitting in the bullpen.

Wood earned his promotion with fine numbers and hard work, and responded by allowing just two earned runs and winning his first three starts.

BUILD A BRIDGE
Ryne Stanek was blissed about being sent to the bullpen.
Well, it RHYMES with blissed.

Not sure how many times a team has sent its strikeout leader to pitch in relief, but that is exactly what the Biscuits have done with Stanek.

Truth be told, I do agree its best for the team, though it does hurt Stanek and his prospect status. However a good fastball in the strikezone is just what the Dr. ordered for the Biscuits bullpen, and Ryne Stanek brings it.

This team needed a bridge - someone who could get the ball from the starter to closer, pitch multiple innings and strike out hitters. Stanek relieving gets him into the game more than once a series and lets Brady match up the other relievers. Simply put, this makes the Biscuits bullpen a whole lot better.


OUTGOING
In order to clear a roster spot, Brett Marshall was released.

THE DOUBLE-SWITCH
 I asked "how does a guy not on the roster lose the game?"
Buddy Borden was also given walking papers, though Borden's roster move wasn't posted on the league website until hours after his replacement, Kyle Winkler had taken the loss for the Biscuits in his first game with the team.

#BullpenLife
If you remember Winkler, you get another cookie! He was pitching for us last year too, in May and June. Winkler bounced around and was pitching great in indie ball, catching the eye of the Rays who brought him back.


The assessment was the same for both outgoing pitchers, Borden and Marshall seemed to be good guys but couldn't quite find a way to miss bats.


 NEW LOOK SECOND HALF STAFF
The New Rotation order could shuffle after the AllStar Break
motivational post in Biscuits dugout
Kirsch
Wood
Hu
Faria
Guerrieri

The new look bullpen:
Lefties Asher, Bird, Harrison
Righties - Mortensen, Winkler
The Bridge - Stanek
Closers - Ames, Schrieber



 MISSION TWO: LINEUP TUNEUP
BATTER-FIELDER CHANGES
Johnny Field
When infielder Juniel Querecuto was sent up, Pat Blair arrived quickly to replace him.

Also promoted are fan faves Johnny Field and Jake Hager.

I felt all these players were deserving of their callup to triple-A, they simply played their way out of the Southern League.

When Johnny Field was sent to Durham, in his place returned 3b/1b/OF Patrick Leonard.

Leonard takes over third base duty and gets a few games in the outfield, he should play regularly as he regains his swing.



GOTTA WELCOME
Cade Gotta was promoted from the Stone Crabs, and went right into the lineup, helping fill in for the injured-but-not-DL'ed Granden Goetzman.

Goetzman has been out with what is thought to be a strained hamstring since the series in Bham a few weeks ago.

Cade Gotta is fun to watch, with as much energy as a five gallon pot of coffee, he puts max effort into every swing and throw.

Presumably Cade puts max effort into tying his shoes and parking the car too, batting well over .300 he should keep doing whatever it is he is doing.

This guy is the Hunter Pence of Biscuitville, and could be the spark plug the team needs.




THAT NEW CAR SMELL
The New Look Biscuits Lineup
looking at the numbers, once goetzman is healthy the projected lineup looks pretty good for the second half...
wong 2b
goetzman cf
bauers rf
adames ss
leonard 3b
gillaspie 1b
marjama c
gotta lf
dh depew/lee/coyle/blair


BAD DAY
for Jean Machi, former Biscuit. details.


OTHER NEWS
Could the Biscuits get their bullpen catcher back?

Armando Ariaza was returned to the Rays from the Mexican league team he had been loaned to, the Tigres de Quintana Roo. He was sent to Port Charlotte.

Mayo Acosta was sent from Durham to Hudson Valley.

The Biscuits have been utilizing Tommy Coyle, Pat Blair and other non-catchers to warm pitchers in the bullpen. The other alternative is using the backup catcher, the guy who is supposed to be getting a rest from catching, to warm relievers.

With the Rays shuffling backstops, no word on Justin O'Conner yet.



BASEBALL CARDS
The Biscuits baseball cards are out, and I am pretty happy with them!

Not all, but most are ones I submitted, its great to see how they were used and it turned out great.

Pitcher Kirsch told me it was the best looking card he ever had, which pretty much made it all worthwhile.

No complaints here, grab a pack and see for yourself!



EMBARRASSED PSYCHIC
I went down and congratulated RC on sending more pitchers to the bigs, I told him I thought Snell and Schultz were getting called up. He and the Rays pitching coordinator were stunned, and raced to their cellphones. I must have misread a report and felt foolish when it turned out to be false.
"Maybe I'm wrong," I told RC, "or the Amazing Kreskin!"

Wait, Snell starts Thursday?

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