Thursday, June 22, 2017

1st Half Cartoon Wrap, Bright Spots, Moving Forward

With ten games left in the first half the Biscuits held a one-half game lead over the North division and were trounced at home by Chattanooga.

A wise man once said "at the end of the day, you don't tell me how rough the seas are, you put the ship into port." Anything short of success is failure, controlling their own destiny the Biscuits found new ways to lose each of the five games at home - including leaving a franchise record 18 men on base in a single game.

When the final game vs the Lookouts went to extras, a single victory in the series would have allowed the Biscuits a chance to stay alive into the last five games. But the many innings of bullpen used to cover for a lack of a fifth starter came back to haunt Montgomery at the worse possible time. The Skitz were eliminated and the last series against the Braves was meaningless.

Many aspects of the Biscuits squad have been excellent, particularly in the outfield and behind the dish. O'Conner and Ciuffo have been reliable defenders and shown good progress with the bat. The outfield tandem of J.Williams, Goetzman, Gotta and Braxton Lee have been fantastic in just about all aspects.

The First Half MVP has to be Braxton Lee, who has taken control of the leadoff spot and been as good a defensive centerfielder as Montgomery has ever seen.

Braxton Lee, First Half MVP

It was mentioned that the victories against the Braves in the final series assured the Biscuits of a W-L over .500 for the half. Indeed the Skitz did finish four games over five hundred. However the concept of "finishing over .500" is baseball speak for "Acceptable mediocrity" and generally unpalatable to most fans. A few teams are really good, a few can be really bad, but most are just .500 teams and that is where the first half Biscuits club wound up.

Baseball teams have long been on their own to announce attendance and exaggerating the number of patrons is a long standing tradition.

While doing a bit of research I came across an 1800's era executive who was grilled by a local press man for drastically over stating the fans watching the previous days contest.

The announced number was 2217, but had been obviously nowhere near twenty-two hundred in the seats. The executive explained that the newpaper had misquoted him when he stated that there were twenty two fans on one side of grandstand and seventeen on the other.

The Southern League All Star Game was washed away, won by Mother Nature who doused the Pcola area on the night of the contest.

Crosley Field flooded
In many ways its a bummer, but perhaps karma for the high prices the team charged for the events. One of the ticketed events was the player meet and greet. Most cities make this a free event for fans on the day before the game. Its one of the best ways for fans to interact with the players and a great way to engage the public.

For the full experience a $150 ticket seemed a bit steep but now they have offered refunds on the game charge. Each event was about fifty dollars per person. Lets hope thats a trend that doesn't continue.


Looks like a makeover in the pitching department is in the works.

Kyle Bird was promoted to Durham, Tyler Brashears was sent back to Charlotte, Benton Moss was inserted in the rotation and replaces the departed Hunter Wood. Moss arrived two weeks ago, too late to save the season.

Yoel Espinal also returned from Durham to a spot in the rotation.

We can expect more pitchers to shuffle in and out as the Rays try to mix and match in a reactionary fashion. StoneCrab starters Eduar Lopez or Genesis Cabrera could be ready for a shot at double-A hitters and have earned a chance to grab a spot in the Biscuits rotation.

Yoel Espinal
Relievers would help, of course, but the starting rotation must have more depth in order for the Skitz to compete over the course of the second half.

The Biscuits score about four runs a game, not enough to guarantee wins even when the pitching falters. Sending relievers to the hill as starters every fifth day saps the team of needed quality late in games and is a recipe for more mediocrity.

Without a full compliment of starting pitchers, expectations for the Biscuits second half should be greatly diminished. And if the Biscuits do reach the postseason with a strong second half they get to face the Chattanooga Lookouts.

The second half begins Thursday, weather permitting, with a five game set against the struggling Brummie Barons. The Biscuits could use a series win to start off the second season but the question marks begin to pop up just four games into the second half when the starting rotation is rounded out with TBA.

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