After 20 straight games against American League opponents – and three straight games where the Chiefs allowed nine runs – Syracuse might be happy to return to National League baseball. And the Chiefs will start a stretch of 16 straight NL games against the Louisville Bats, the International League’s worst team record-wise by five games. What’s happened to the Reds’ Triple-A affiliate this season? Let’s check it out.
Catcher: Corky Miller, Dioner Navarro
The Reds are in fairly good hands at catcher with two major league veterans here in Triple-A. Navarro’s hitting .284 with nine walks to just 11 strikeouts for the Bats, and he’s played at least some part of each of the last eight seasons in the major leagues. However, the last three years have resulted in averages of just .218, .194 and .193 for Navarro. Miller, who played at least one game in the majors ever year from 2011 to 2010, is likely more for organizational depth at this point. Neither is likely to see much time in the majors outside of an injury, though, with Ryan Hanigan hitting north of .300 and top prospect Devin Mesoraco having a solid season.
First Base: Neftali Soto
Soto smashed 30 home runs last season at Double-A, but he’s posted a line of just .227/.281/.366 with six homers so far this season. The 23-year-old’s in his first full season in Triple-A, and he’s on the 40-man-roster, so Cincinnati will likely show patience with him. But with Joey Votto, one of the best players in baseball, starting for the Reds, there’s no need to worry about that position aside from an injury.
Second Base: Cody Puckett, Chris Valaika
A 40-man member, the 27-year-old Valaika could probably play anywhere in the infield if needed, and he’s been called up to the Reds each of the last two seasons. However, he owns a slash line of just .265/.299/.371 in his Triple-A career – there’s not too much patience or power there. Puckett, just called up from Double-A, is hitting .222 in eight games in his first stint in Triple-A. Up in the major leagues, former All-Star Brandon Phillips has a strangehold on the starting position, though there could be a utility spot available – neither Wilson Valdez nor Miguel Cairo is hitting above .200 this season.
Shortstop: Kristopher Negron, Miguel Rojas
Shortstop Paul Janish, hitting .315/.390/.521 in 23 games, would be the most promising option here, but he’s currently on the Disabled List with a broken wrist. Meanwhile, the Bats have relied heavily on Negron, who’s played in every game this season, but he’s hitting just .221. The 23-year-old Rojas is at .217 through 20 games, with almost no power or patience at the plate, so it’s likely the same situation as at second base – if the Reds need a change-up at utility infielder, Negron could get called up from the 40-man. But Cincinnati’s in good shape at the position with young Zack Cozart starting all but one game this season.
Third Base: Willie Harris
Harris, a former Chief (five games in 2009), was 3 for 35 with the Reds this season before being removed from the 40-man roster – and he’s just 11 for 57 with Louisville. This was Todd Frazier’s position, but the brother of last year’s Chiefs outfielder Jeff has taken over for the injured Scott Rolen up with the big league team. And Frazier has been tremendous, with a .597 slugging percentage thanks to 12 extra-base hits out of his 20 total hits.
Outfield: Daniel Dorn, Joey Gathright, Felix Perez, Bill Rhinehart
The only outfielder on the 40-man roster for Cincinnati, Denis Phipps, is on the Bats’ Disabled List with a .168 average. So more so than any position, the Reds are likely keeping their fingers crossed that none of their outfielders get injured. It’s likely that one of the utility players would be called up in an emergency, as none of the options here are thrilling for Cincinnati. Perez, in his third professional season from Cuba, is hitting .230 with just one home run. Rhinehart, acquired from the Nationals last season while at Harrisburg, is at .230 with just four homers. Dorn’s in his fourth straight season with the Bats, without a game of MLB experience, and Gathright was just signed out of independent ball. The best bet of the group might be Gathright, who’s played in the major leagues in seven of the past eight years before 2012 and might be one of the fastest players in baseball.
Starting Pitchers: Jeff Francis, Sean Gallagher, Chad Reineke, Wirfin Obispo, Brett Tomko, Pedro Villarreal
Four of the six starters here have pitched in the major leagues, with the exception of Obispo – today’s starter – and Villarreal. But, strangely enough, the only 40-man roster member here is Villarreal, a 24-year-old with a 3.70 ERA in four starts. He’s walked just two in 24.1 innings while striking out 18 in his debut season at Triple-A. Obispo’s making just his second Triple-A start of the season today, while the rest of the Louisville rotation has been generally average . Tomko does have an ERA of 3.18 in nine starts – despite an 0-5 record – but he’s walked 26 in 51 innings and he’s changed teams for the 13th time in his career. But Cincinnati won’t have to worry too much – the Reds’ rotation has been stiller this year outside of Mike Leake, but the young-right hander is one of the team’s top prospects and has improved over his last few starts.
Relief Pitchers: Scott Carroll, Nick Christiani, Carlos Fisher, Josh Judy, Jordan Smith, Kanekoa Texeira, Travis Webb
The worst ERA of any regular Reds reliever is Sean Marshall’s 4.24 mark, so we’ll spare you having to go through everyone of the Louisville relievers – especially because Jordan Smith is the only one on the 40-man roster. However, Smith’s 6.89 ERA ranks as the second-worst number on Louisville’s roster. The best Bat here has been Texeira, who’s sported a 0.81 ERA in 13 games. However, he’s walked 13 to just 10 strikeouts in 22.1 innings, so those numbers should dip soon. Judy, the former Indians right-hander, has also excelled, with a 3.27 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 22 innings.
Hope you enjoy today’s Chiefs/Bats clash and your Memorial Day. And don’t forget to email your ideas or tweet them at email@example.com or @ChiefsRadio.
After splitting a four-game set with Columbus, the Chiefs are staying in Ohio to take on the Toledo Mud Hens. After an 8-5 win last night took 3 hours and 15 minutes, you might feel like you’re somewhat situated with Toledo already, but let’s take a look at the Hens’ roster in our latest examination of an IL roster…
Catcher: Bryan Holaday, Omir Santos
Alex Avila, Detroit’s regular catcher, is off to a slow start offensively. But the guy who started last season’s All-Star game for the American League might not be in danger of losing his job this early on in the season. Backup Gerald Laird has been a steady second-stringer, likely leaving Santos and Holaday in Triple-A for the foreseeable future. But look out for 22-year old Rob Brantly, who’s hitting .326 with 13 doubles and three home runs in Double-A.
First Base: Brad Eldred, Ryan Strieby
Eldred has been destroying Triple-A pitching for a good chunk of the year, leading the league in home runs, RBI and slugging percentage by wide margins. But even after a quick promotion to Detroit this season, the Tigers designated Eldred for assignment, removing him from the 40-man roster. It doesn’t seem likely he’d jump back on the 40-man unless there’s a rash of injuries. Strieby’s a similar player to Eldred – big power numbers, heaps of strikeouts – but he’s struggled so far this season. (Oh, by the way…Prince Fielder plays first base for the big league team.)
Second Base: Eric Patterson
Patterson has 228 games and five seasons of major league experience, so he’d be a logical choice for promotion if Detroit needed an infielder. However, he’s posted just a .217 average and .294 on-base percentage in that major league time, so the Tigers might look elsewhere for an infield solution…but, that being said, the Tigers may not have much of a choice soon. Their two second baseman this year – Ramon Santiago and Ryan Raburn – are hitting .183 and .148, respectively. Raburn’s going to get most of the reps at the position, but if the Tigers’ regulars can’t crack the Mendoza Line, Detroit may soon look elsewhere.
Shortstop: Argenis Diaz, Danny Worth
Here’s another guy who could help Detroit in the major leagues – Worth, who, incredibly is the ONLY Toledo position player on the 40-man roster. 24 of the Tigers’ 40-man players are pitchers, a number which likely has to change at some point, but is quite bloated as of now. Worth, however, was just 3 for 17 with Detroit this season, so the Tigers may not be rushing to call him back up. Diaz, hitting just .222 without an extra-base hit in 28 games, still has plenty of time to develop at age 25, but this year might not be his year for promotion.
Third Base: Audy Ciriaco, Justin Henry
Let’s get this out of the way first: Miguel Cabrera is the Tigers’ third baseman, and he’ll be staying put unless there’s an injury, thank you very much. So Ciriaco and Henry would be best served in the majors as utility guys, a role Henry’s quite well-suited to. The 26-year-old can play just about every position on the diamond, and though he lacks power, he’s an on-base and stolen base machine. The 24-year-old Ciriaco seems to have a number of good tools, but he’s hitting just .219/.260/.373 this season.
Outfield: Quintin Berry, Jeff Frazier, Matt Young
The Tigers are in good shape here, with Austin Jackson and Andy Dirks performing well in the major leagues and Brennan Boesch starting to heat up. There’s also Delmon Young, who’s just returned from suspension, although that’s a question mark for the Tigers. If there’s a backup spot to be had with the major league team, perhaps Young gets a shot. The 5’8 29-year-old doesn’t look like the most imposing player, but he’s currently second in the International League in walks and third in on-base-percentage, while hitting a solid .282. Young, who signed with the Braves as an undrafted free agent, has certainly had to overcome plenty of odds throughout his baseball career, and if he keeps on getting on base, it might be tough for Detroit to say no. Frazier, the former Chief, and Berry seem likely to spend the season here with Toledo.
Starting Pitchers: Casey Crosby, Andrew Oliver, Jacob Turner, Thad Weber, Adam Wilk
Remember what we said about only one of the Mud Hens’ position players being on the 40-man roster? (In case you don’t, just scroll up the page.) Well, here’s a situation with a polar opposite. All five of Toledo’s current starters are members of the 40-man roster, with the Tigers able to call up any of the arms at a moment’s notice. Of course, with a rotation of Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello and rookie sensation Drew Smyly (2.89 ERA) – good luck cracking that group. The 24-year-old Wilk is the lone member of the five to start for Detroit this season, but he’s 0-3 with an 8.18 ERA in three starts, while Weber has allowed 10 hits in four innings in a pair of relief appearances. The next shot might go to the 20-year-old Turner, the ninth overall pick in the 2009 MLB draft, who tossed a few games for the Tigers in 2011.
Relief Pitchers: Chris Bootcheck, Brooks Brown, Darin Downs, Matt Hoffman, Zach Miner, Jose Ortega, Ryan Robowski, Rob Waite
Hoffman and Ortega, a pair of 23-year-olds, are the two 40-man players here. However, Ortega, who does throw about one thousand miles per hour, likely needs some seasoning before a promotion to the major leagues. Exhibit A: his 0.2 inning, three-walk performance against Syracuse last night. Hoffman’s allowed 16 hits and 11 runs in 8.1 innings, so he’s likely not next in line for a call up, either. Former major leaguer Chris Bootcheck’s pitched well for Toledo, but he hasn’t tossed in the majors since 2009, and he had double-digit ERAs in three of his last four seasons. So…I don’t know what the answer is here, either. One other option could be Tyler Stohr, a 26-year-old who’s posted a 1.13 ERA in six Double-A games, but is on the 40-man roster. (Why is he in Double-A? Who knows.)
That’s all for now…be sure to tune in today at 2:00 for the Chiefs and Mud Hens in the second of a four-game series. We’re on the air at 1:45 for the start of the pregame show.
Hello from Huntington Park, a beautiful downtown ballpark in Columbus, Ohio. The Chiefs and Columbus Clippers meet for the first of eight times this season – with all eight games between the two teams coming in the next 13 days. Here’s a look at the Clippers, the Triple-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, in our latest “Triple-A Trickledown”…
Catcher: Luke Carlin, Matt Pagnozzi
Carlos Santana has a firm grip on the starting catching job in the major leagues for Cleveland, but Lou Marson’s just 2 for 21 as the Indians’ backup. If there’s a spot to be had in the majors, Carlin, who’s hitting .265 and has major league experience, would likely take it over Pagnozzi, who played in the majors for a bit last season but is currently hitting .215 with Columbus. Veteran backstop Michel Hernandez is also waiting in Double-A if needed.
First Base: Beau Mills, Matt LaPorta
LaPorta, a one-time top prospect who was acquired as the centerpiece of Cleveland’s C.C. Sabathia deal, has had some trouble adjusting to major league pitching to date. But Triple-A’s been a vastly different story, with LaPorta mashing IL hurlers this season to the tune of a .333/.408/.658 slash line with 10 home runs in 31 games. Meanwhile, full-time big league starter Casey Kotchman is at .198 with three home runs, so LaPorta may soon get another chance to prove himself. Mills, a 25-year-old who’s a former first-round pick, has been solid but not spectacular to date, and is likely to spend the season with Columbus since he’s not on the 40-man roster.
Second Base: Cord Phelps
Phelps has started 36 of the Clippers’ 37 games at second base this season with decent offensive numbers, but a former Clipper’s right ahead of him in the major leagues. Jason Kipnis, who’s started all 35 games for the Indians, has excelled in the bigs with a .281 average and six home runs. A backup spot could be open with veteran Jose Lopez off to a sub-.200 start, but the organization may want to give the 25-year-old Phelps regular at-bats and keep him in Triple-A.
Shortstop: Gregorio Petit, Justin Toole
Cleveland’s likely filed this position under “don’t worry unless there’s an injury”, because 26-year-old Asdrubal Cabrera has turned into one of the Indians’ best players in the major leagues. The switch-hitter’s posted a .316/.414/.500 line, with 17 walks to just 9 strikeouts and 12 doubles on the season. Petit’s hitting just .213 with limited power and patience, while the just-promoted Toole was hitting .196 with Class A-Advanced Carolina. At Double-A Akron, shortstop Juan Diaz is hitting just .234, but he’s a 40-man roster member who was promoted for last season’s Triple-A playoffs.
Third Base: Lonnie Chisenhall, Andy LaRoche
Jack Hannahan’s been above-average as Cleveland’s starting third baseman this year, but Chisenhall’s lying in wait in case of a slip-up or injury. The 23-year-old (who’s currently on the Disabled List) was a first-round pick of the Indians in the 2008 draft and has quickly shot up the minor league system, splitting time between Triple-A and the major leagues last season. This year, Chisenhall’s batting average and slugging percentage are second on the team, only behind Matt LaPorta. LaRoche, a 28-year-old major league veteran, is likely here to provide organizational depth for the Indians – though it’s comforting having someone who’s played in the majors for parts of each of the last five seasons.
Outfield: Russ Canzler, Ezequial Carrera, Ben Copeland, Chad Huffman
Canzler – last year’s International League MVP – and Carrera are the two 40-man roster players here, but neither is off to an especially hot start with Columbus. However, Cleveland’s major league outfield is somewhat of a mess, with none of the Indians’ five main outfielders posting a batting average higher than .261 or an OPS above .700. And former star center fielder Grady Sizemore, who’s struggled in each of the last two seasons, is out until at least June after knee surgery. All of that begs the question – what in the world are Tim Fedroff and Jared Goedert doing in Double-A? Fedroff – 25 years old – is hitting .339 with a .430 on-base percentage after hitting .338 with Akron and .272 with Columbus last season. Meanwhile, Goedert, who’s hit 35 home runs in the last two seasons with Columbus, is hitting an astronomical .362 with 12 extra-base hits and 20 walks. Huffman’s having a solid season, but the 28-year-old Copeland hasn’t played or hit much so far. Seems like the winds of change could be blowing soon…
Starting Pitchers: Eric Berger, Paolo Espino, David Huff, Corey Kluber, Chris Seddon, Kevin Slowey
Huff, Kluber and Slowey are the three 40-man starters on Columbus’ roster, with Kluber’s 2.58 ERA in seven starts providing the standout mark of the bunch. However, the right-hander’s only pitched in three career major league games, with an 8.31 ERA, and he’s yet to pitch more than six innings in a game this season. Huff, a 2006 first-round pick, posted a solid 4.09 ERA in 11 games (10 starts) with Cleveland last year – and he’s left-handed – while Slowey, a major league veteran, has struggled with a near 6:00-ERA this season. There’s probably not an open spot in Cleveland’s rotation in the moment, especially with Zach McAllister temporarily called up after an injury to Josh Tomlin. But down at Akron, 22-year-old left-hander T.J. McFarland is going to be hard to ignore for much longer, at 6-1 with a 2.18 ERA in seven starts.
Relief Pitchers: Cody Allen, Hector Ambriz, Scott Barnes, Frank Herrmann, Matt Langwell, Chris Ray
The two 40-man players here are Barnes and Herrmann, a pair of left-handers who have been solid but not overwhelming statistically. The fact that they’re left-handers could help, with the worst ERA in the bullpen belonging to Tony Sipp’s 6.94 mark. However, Sipp sported a 3.03 mark last season, so he’ll likely get the benefit of the doubt for some time. A perhaps-familiar name to casual fans in this bullpen could be Ray, a former Orioles closer who saved 33 games with the O’s in 2006. But injuries set back Ray, who missed nearly all of 2008, and he’s now on his fifth organization in four years. However, the right-hander’s 2.08 ERA this season could mean that he’s back on the right track.
That’s all for now – as always, your thoughts are welcomed at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Happy Saturday to everyone. Today, in the third part of our ongoing 72-part series, we analyze the Rochester Red Wings roster, because you can’t spell “Rochester” without “roster”. Actually, that doesn’t have anything to do with anything. Never mind. Let’s move on.
Catcher: Rene Rivera, J.R. Towles
The first two times that Syracuse played the Red Wings, Rochester had three catchers on its roster, with Drew Butera joining Rivera and Towles. But with Joe Mauer banged up, Minnesota’s brought up Butera for some extra catcher insurance. Both Rivera and Towles have plenty of big league experience, but each player’s hitting south of .200 to date with the Wings this season. Butera’s also the only 40-man player of the three, so he’ll likely be the man on the move this season.
First Base: Aaron Bates, Matt Rizzotti
With Justin Morneau still on the DL, Chris Parmelee and his .195 average have been inhabiting first base for Minnesota for most of this season. However, the answer to the Twins’ problem likely won’t come from within. Bates, despite a .380 OBP, has just four extra-base hits (all doubles) this year. Rizzotti also had just four doubles, but his OBP sits at .258. Bates has played just five career games in the major leagues (2009 Red Sox), while Rizzotti’s never played above Triple-A.
Second Base: Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Joe Thurston
Second’s been an offensively challenged position for the big league club this season, with Alexi Casilla posting a .250/.277/.300 slash line. Nishioka, signed last season to be the starting second baseman, had a tough season with the Twins in 2011 and has been with Rochester all this year, though he’s currently on the disabled list. With a hot streak, he could easily find his way back in the major leagues thanks to the Twins’ need for infielders. Thurston just provides organizational depth at this point after being released by the Phillies a few years ago.
Shortstop: Pedro Florimon
Brian Dozier was in this spot until about a week ago, when Minnesota promoted him to the major leagues. He’s started just 4 for 21, but he’ll likely get the benefit of the doubt with no other great offensive options. Veteran infielder Jamey Carroll, who’s started 27 games this year at shortstop, is hitting just .212. Meanwhile, the new Red Wings shortstop has impressed in five games. He’s 7 for 21 with two home runs and has sparkled defensively after being called up from New Britain. Florimon, who made his major league debut last season with Baltimore, isn’t on the 40-man roster, but if his newfound power sticks, he could certainly find his way there.
Third Base: Sean Burroughs, Ray Chang, Danny Valencia
Valencia’s just been sent down after starting as the primary third baseman in Minnesota all season long. He hit just .190 in 27 games before the Twins before Minnesota made the move, though things aren’t much better for the team. Trevor Plouffe’s the only player currently on the roster to have started at third in the major leagues this season, but he’s hitting just .137 in 19 games this year. (In case you haven’t figured out, Minnesota’s having some trouble offensively this year.) The 28-year-old Chang has had a nice season for Rochester, hitting .303 with a .384 OBP, though he’s never played in the major leagues before, while Burroughs was also just sent down from the majors recently. The former Padre is hitting just 2 for 12 and is no longer on the 40-man roster after being designated for assignment.
Outfield: Matt Carson, Bene Revere, Clete Thomas, Rene Tosoni
Josh Willingham has been tremendous and Denard Span’s had a solid season for the Twins this season, though the third outfield spot is a revolving door for Minnesota right now. Darin Mastroianni was just called up to the major leagues and Erik Komatsu’s recently been signed, so the Twins will likely see what they have from those two relatively young players. Thomas was removed from the 40-man roster after a 4-for-28 start with Minnesota, while Tosoni, a 40-man players, is off to a difficult start at .128 with the Red Wings. Revere, who’s already been up to the big club this season, might be a logical choice to return. He’s posted a .319 average and .359 OBP with Rochester, and despite a lack of power, is one of the Twins’ best base stealers. But maybe Carson, the former Oakland A, will get his shot soon, since he’s leading the team in OPS. With a hot streak, any of those four could theoretically head up…though they might want to watch out for former Detroit Tiger Wilkin Ramirez, who’s tearing the cover off the ball in Double-A (.356, 7 extra-base hits in 10 games).
Starting Pitchers: Cole DeVries, Luke French, Liam Hendriks, Daryl Thompson
Yes, that’s only four starting pitchers litsed, and no, that’s not a typo – with P.J. Walters’ promotion to the major leagues two days ago, the Red Wings had to throw reliever Jeff Manship into a spot start. Hendriks, the only 40-man player of the bunch, was 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in four games, so he’s been essentially replaced by Walters in the major league rotation. While DeVries and Thompson have been good, not great, that might just be enough thanks to a Twins rotation that’s struggled tremendously all season long. Scott Diamond was recently called up to the majors, where he threw seven shutout innings, and he might be there for a while. Carl Pavano (5.02 ERA), Nick Blackburn (7.18), Francisco Liriano (9.45) and Jason Marquis (6.26) have all had a rough go of things this season.
Relief Pitchers: Casey Fien, Deolis Guerra, Jeff Manship, Tyler Robertston, Anthony Slama, Esmerling Vasquez, Brendan Wise
For the most part, Minnesota’s bullpen has been very good this year with four relievers posting a sub-3 ERA and five at 3.75 or better. But there’s always room for improvement, and that improvement could come from Guerra. If that name sounds familiar, it’s likely because Guerra was one of the four players traded for Johan Santana in the Mets/Twins blockbuster from way back in 2008. Guerra’s only 23 years old, and as one of three 40-man relievers, he could find himself in the major leagues before long. In four Triple-A games, he’s allowed six hits and no runs in nine innings while striking out nine. Manship and Tyler Robertson are the only other 40-man players, but the name to watch here is Anthony Slama. The right-handed reliever has struck out a staggering 27 batters in 15.2 innings, allowing nine hits and 10 walks. Though the walk numbers are a bit high, you’d have to imagine Slama will be in the major leagues soon with these types of numbers. The Red Wings could likely be welcoming a new face soon, though, with 40-man member Lester Oliveros tearing up Double-A to the tune of a 1.42 ERA.
Look forward to seeing everyone out at the park today on Armed Forces Day. It’s a great event to celebrate our military and an absolutely gorgeous day to do so. As always, we’d love to hear from you with thoughts and comments. firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com are the places to do so.
In part two of our series where we look at the rosters of Chiefs opponents and analyze why each player is here, we meet the Durham Bulls for the first time. The Bulls come in at 11-20 – but after a 13-game losing streak, they’ve actually won five of their past seven games. Let’s have a look at the nuts and bolts of Durham’s roster…
Catcher: Craig Albernaz, Stephen Vogt, Nevin Ashley (DL)
This isn’t a tremendous position of strength for the Rays – at least offensively – with Chris Gimenez at .229, Jose Molina at .204 and DL-ed catcher Jose Lobaton 2 for 10. Lobaton’s on the disabled list with a sore right shoulder and Robinson Chirinos is on the DL with a concussion, so the Rays’ depth has been thinned out considerably at the position. And Ashley – probably the best hitting catcher Durham had – just broke a bone in his right hand. Neither Albernaz or Vogt is hitting north of .167, and there doesn’t appear to be much in the way of immediate help in Double-A Montgomery, so upward movement doesn’t seem too likely for the Bulls at catcher.
First Base: Juan Miranda, Leslie Anderson
Up in the majors, Tampa Bay’s starter is set, with Carlos Pena’s .845 OPS fitting just fine into the Rays’ lineup, and Ben Zobrist or Matt Joyce could likely fill in if need be in times of injury. However, immediate backup Brandon Allen, who’s 1 for 18 in the majors this year, could be in jeopardy of losing his spot. If Anderson, who’s hitting .347/.420/.429, keeps up his performance, the Rays might have something to think about. Anderson, a free agent from Cuba, is in his third year with the organization, and he’s played almost as much outfield as first base. Miranda, a former Yankee and Diamondback, is hitting just .192 and likely just provides organizational depth at this point.
Second Base: Shawn O’Malley
Tampa Bay’s doing just fine at second base with a combination of super-utility-guy Ben Zobrist (.191, but a .342 OBP) and Jeff Keppinger (.311, despite a .328 OBP). O’Malley, the only current Bull with more than three starts at the position, is hitting just .205 with a single extra-base hit. The Rays could also slide over Sean Rodriguez in a time of need. That’s good for Tampa Bay, because the only other infielder on the 40-man roster is…
Shortstop: Reid Brignac
Brignac actually doesn’t have the most starts at shortstop for Durham this year – that honor belongs to Tim Beckham. However, Beckham, the top pick in the 2008 MLB draft, was recently suspended 50 games for a second violation of the Minor League drug policy. So it’s up to Brignac, just 6 for 45 (.133) in Durham, to shoulder the Bulls’ load. The Rays’ top hitting prospect, shortstop Hak-Ju Lee, is one level below in Double-A, but he’s only hitting .237 with limited power. With Rodriguez at .210 with just four extra-base hits in the majors, the Rays may juts have to hope that good defense and the occasional offensive burst will be enough at shortstop this season.
Third Base: Cole Figueroa, Matt Mangini
Evan Longoria’s now out four to eight weeks after a partially torn harmstring, leaving a gaping hole for the Rays at third base. Will Rhymes was called up to fill the void, leaving Mangini and the recently promoted Figueroa to fill the void for Durham. Mangini – who has a bit of a major league time – is hitting .257 with one home run, while Figueroa was just called up and had never previously played above Double-A. Longoria’s replacement will likely come from within the major league club or via a trade.
Outfield: Jesus Feliciano, Brandon Guyer, Kyle Hudson, Jeff Salazar
Guyer’s the unquestioned offensive star of Durham, a 40-man roster member who made his major league debut last season with the Rays. If there’s an outfield injury, he’ll likely return to the majors after three separate stints with the big club last season. Salazar’s played in 168 major leagues – but none since 2009. Hudson was 4 for 28 in his first 14 major league games with the Orioles last season, while Feliciano’s 54 games in 2010 with the Mets were his first and only. So the rest of the major league experience here is limited at best, with Guyer the only 40-man member. Desmond Jennings, Matt Joyce, B.J. Upton and Zobrist have the outfield covered for now in the major leagues, and the Double-A outfield is a largely veteran group as well.
Starting Pitchers: Chris Archer, Alex Cobb, Jim Paduch, Lance Pendelton, Matt Torra
Cobb might be the next in line if Tampa Bay needs a starting pitcher. A 2006 fourth-round pick, he’s pitched to a 3.38 ERA in six starts. Archer, another 40-man member, is only 23 years old. But at 1-4 with a 6.30 ERA and 23 walks in 30 innings, his time has likely yet to come. The other three starters are likely just organizational depth for Tampa Bay – which, by the way, has as good of a rotation as just about anyone in baseball. Matt Moore – thanks to two bad starts out of six – has been the only subpar Rays starter to date. As the organization’s top prospect, he’ll likely get plenty of chances before he’d get sent back down to Triple-A.
Relief Pitchers: Dane De La Rosa, John Gaub, Brandon Gomes, Josh Lueke, Jhonny Nunez, Ryan Reid, Romulo Sanchez, Alex Torres
A jam-packed relief staff features five 40-man players – De La Rosa, Gaub, Gomes, Lueke and Torres. Of the five, only Gomes has a sub 4-ERA, with five scoreless outings to date. Lueke and Torres are both north of 9:00 in ERA. The Rays, with a 3.81 team ERA, aren’t likely to make too many changes, if any, due to performance. As for Double-A, the Biscuits have a team ERA north of 5.00, without many individual standouts, so Durham’s relief corps could stay the same for quite some time.
Hope to see you tonight – weather permitting – for the premiere of the new scoreboard. We’d love to hear from you as well – send any story ideas or feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Good morning, Chiefs fans – hope to see you out at the ballpark tonight for the red carpet premiere of our brand-new digital scoreboard. Here’s some links to get you through between now and then:
*Speaking of that scoreboard, here’s Bud Poliquin.
*Cole Hamels may have incited a brand-new rivalry by plunking Bryce Harper.
*A look at the Orioles/Red Sox game – the front-runner for weirdest of the year.
*Andy Pettitte’s thoughts on his Scranton/Wilkes-Barre outing (in Rochester) yesterday.
*SI’s Andy Staples wonders if football will ever be the same.
*The Avengers made HOW much money??
In case you can’t make it out to the park (and we certainly hope you can), we’re on air at 6:45 tonight in advance of a 7:00 start time. Catch us on The Score 1260 or thescore1260.com.
Today marks the beginning of a new series where we’ll take a look at each opposing team’s roster and examine why they’re here – the “trickledown” effect of sorts from who’s in the major leagues. With the Chiefs in Buffalo, it’s time to examine the roster for the Bisons – the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Mets.
Catcher: Jean Luc Blaquiere, Lucas May
This group looked 50% different just a few days ago, with Rob Johnson starting two of the three games the last time the Bisons played Syracuse. But the veteran backstop’s been placed on the disabled list after suffering a left knee sprain. May’s a 27-year old with 37 big league at-bats in 2010, so he’d likely be the next catcher in line over Blaquiere, who hit just .229 with Double-A Binghamton last year and has all of two at-bats this season.
Up in the major leagues, Josh Thole’s got a firm grip on the starting job with a .317 average, and backup Mike Nickeas is the only other catcher on the 40-man roster. Outside of an injury, this isn’t likely to change much.
First Base: Valentino Pascucci, Josh Satin
Ike Davis had a solid 2010 and strong 37 games before an injury in 2011 – but with a .185 average through 22 games, there’s room for improvement for the Mets’ major league first baseman. It might not come from the Bisons’ primary first basemen, though. Satin’s been turned almost exclusively into a first baseman with Buffalo this year, but he’s hitting .275 with just a .294 on-base percentage through this season. Satin shot through the Mets’ system last year and got some experience with the big club at the end of the season, but he’s likely not enough of a power hitter to make the jump.
Pascucci, on the other hand, is more than enough of a power hitter. But the Triple-A veteran isn’t on the 40-man roster and doesn’t have much major league experience. He played with the Bisons throughout Buffalo’s entire season last year – heading to the majors after the Triple-A season ended – and seems likely to stay with the Herd for the duration of 2012.
Second Base: Bobby Scales, Michael Fisher
Daniel Murphy’s been playing a solid second base for the Mets, with Justin Turner providing versatility as his primary backup. There likely won’t be a change from Triple-A, since neither Scales nor Fisher is on the 40-man roster. Scales, a longtime minor leaguer with a few big league games sprinkled in, seems likely to provide Triple-A depth for the Mets. Fisher’s in his second Triple-A season after hitting .259 with four home runs in 65 games last year.
Shortstop: Omar Quintanilla
Quintanilla’s played 227 games in the major leagues between 2005 and 2011, but after a 1-for-22 output last year and a .172 average in 2009, he’s not on the 40-man roster for the Mets. If the mets needed a utility infielder in a pinch, Quintanilla could be an option, but he’d have to overtake 40-man players Satin and Zach Lutz. Quintanilla hasn’t been in Double-A since 2005, so expect to see a good chunk of the veteran with Buffalo.
Third Base: Zach Lutz, Brad Emaus
Lutz just returned from a brief trip to the Mets, where he was 1 for 8 with five strikeouts in five games in his first time on a major league roster. The third baseman played just 72 games in 2010 and 63 in 2011 due to a number of different injuries, but he’s provided pop when healthy – 47 home runs in 286 career minor league games. As a 40-man player, he could certainly see some time in the bigs again, though David Wright won’t ever be in trouble of losing his job this season.
Emaus started last season with the Mets after New York claimed him in the Rule V draft from Toronto. Since then, it’s been a rocky road. Emaus was designated for assignment after 18 days in the major leagues and sent back to the Blue Jays, who promptly traded him to Colorado the next day. This January, Emaus was traded to the Red Sox, who released him in early April. Two weeks later, Emaus signed with the Laredo Lemurs of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball, which is apparently a real thing. And then a week later, the Mets re-signed him.
(Hang on, let’s pause for a moment to take a breath now…)
Emaus has posted great numbers in Triple-A in his career, and that’s likely where he’ll stay for the duration of 2012.
Outfield: Fred Lewis, Dustin Martin, Vinny Rottino, Matt Tuiasosopo
This is a relatively easy group to figure out for Buffalo. Outside of a few rehab games for Lewis, none of these four outfielders played in Double-A last season, and none of them are on the 40-man roster, either. With Scott Hairston, Andres Torres, Lucas Duda and Kirk Nieuwenhuis, the Mets are set in the outfield, with Mike Baxter and Jordany Valdespin, both up from Buffalo, as backups. Jason Bay’s on the disabled list, so either Baxter or Valdespin is likely to return to Triple-A at some point, and outfielders Adam Loewen and Corey Wimberly are sitting on the Bisons’ disabled list – meaning this is a Bisons group that could get very crowded very quickly. The only other two outfielders on the Mets’ 40 man roster are in Double-A (Juan Lagares) and Single-A (Cesar Puello), so don’t expect a ton of upward movement here.
Starting Pitchers: Jeurys Familia, Matt Harvey, Jeremy Hefner, Garrett Olson, Dylan Owen
Familia and Hefner are the two 40-man starters here, with Harvey – one of the Mets’ most prized prospects – not far behind. New York’s rotation so far has been mostly good, with four of the five spots in no danger of being replaced – Johan Santana, R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese and Mike Pelfrey. #5 starter Dillon Gee’s sporting a 4.85 ERA in four starts, but that’s mainly due to a single poor start. Unless there’s an injury, this staff is likely set.
As for the current Bisons hurlers, Hefner, Olsen and Owen have all posted strong numbers and have past Triple-A success. Harvey and Familia have been up and down, but both pitchers are prized prospects who should get every chance to prove their worth at this level. Owen will likely be bumped to the bullpen when Chris Schwinden returns from the major leagues. Schwinden, a 2011 IL All-Star, is currently up in the majors with Mike Pelfrey on the 15-day DL.
Relief Pitchers: Fernando Cabrera, Josh Edgin, Jack Egbert, Justin Hampson, Brad Holt, Chuck James, Jeff Stevens
The Mets’ bullpen certainly has some room for improvement, with Manny Acosta (9.00 ERA) and Miguel Batista (7.84) off to slow starts. But – as you might be able to guess by now – none of these seven Buffalo relievers are on the 40-man roster. But in case there’s a move to be made, the Bisons have a few strong options. Cabrera – the team’s closer – sports a Bisons-best 0.87 ERA in nine games, while former major leaguer James has a 1.17 mark in eight games. With a 3.04 team ERA, there are plenty of options in Buffalo for the Mets, should New York need them.
Check back tomorrow for a profile of new Chiefs infielder and Buffalo native Jim Negrych. And please send us your ideas for segments you’d like to see or players you’d like to hear about at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Don’t forget to tweet at us as well @ChiefsRadio.
Respect the game. Some players might toss that phrase off as a trite baseball cliché, in the same book as take it one game at a time or give 110%. Josh Johnson, the newest member of the Syracuse Chiefs, isn’t one of those players. After talking to the 26-year old infielder on Monday, that was readily apparent.
“My dad was a big league ballplayer,” said Johnson, “a big inspiration in my development. He always told me to respect the game and hustle on and off the field. Nobody’s better than the game. This game’s going to continue for years beyond mine, so if I can leave my little mark on the game and inspire a young man to play the game as hard as Pete Rose inspired a young man to play the game respectfully, then that’s my ultimate goal.”
Charlie Hustle himself would be proud of the way Johnson’s gone about his business after two days in Syracuse. The switch-hitting infielder’s collected two hits and made a number of strong defensive plays – this after hitting .395 with seven extra-base hits in his first 11 games with Harrisburg this season. The jump from Double-A to Triple-A often overwhelms players – but Johnson doesn’t seem to be one of them.
“It’s the same game,” Johnson said when asked about the transition. “I’m going to stick with my same routine, nothing new. They’ve got to throw strikes. I’ve got to catch the ball. I’ve got to make my plays on defense. It’s the same game.”
On defense, Johnson, who’s listed at 5’11 and 170 pounds, has a bit of an unorthodox throwing motion. Some players, like Pawtucket’s Jose Iglesias, can field and throw a ground ball so smoothly that the ball never seems to touch their hands. Johnson is not one of those players. Think David Eckstein, who seems to put every ounce of strength he has and more into his throws, and you’ve got an estimation of Johnson’s play. And that’s the way he likes it.
“I like to throw the ball as hard as I can,” says Johnson. “I like to run the bases hard. I just try to do everything 100%. As long as I just continue to play my game, I’m a high energy guy, hustling on and off the field, respecting the game.”
Chiefs fans might see Johnson all over the field this season. He’s played five different positions in the minors – second base, third base, shortstop, center field, and left field. And his father, Larry Doby Johnson – yes, named after the American League’s first ever African-American player – was a major league catcher over parts of five seasons. So…does that mean the Chiefs could even have an emergency catcher on their hands?
“No,” says Johnson with a laugh. “Definitely not. My dad was a catcher and I see the wear and tear it has on those guys’ bodies. I don’t think I’ll be volunteering my services.”
Nor will he volunteer his services to pitch – unlike the other Josh Johnson, the Miami Marlins’ ace. It’s a silly comparison to bring up – yes, the two professional ballplayers share a name. They’re also about eight inches apart, play completely different positions, have a different skin color and have never played for the same organization. It seems outrageous that anyone would confuse the two, right? Would that ever really happen?
“All the time,” says a smiling Johnson. “(People) always, for some reason, believe that I’m a lighter-skinned, taller, hard-throwing righty. But I’m not too sure how they can confuse us. It happens all the time – they ask me to sign cards, and I sit there and I look and I see a guy flipping a ball up, looking with a mean face and a Marlins hat on.”
This Josh Johnson’s concerned with blazing his own path to the majors. Maybe he’ll get there and face his namesake one day in a division battle. But even if the Chiefs’ newest player doesn’t get there, it won’t be for a lack of trying – or a lack of respect. For his father, for his team – or for the game.
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KB here…I’d love to say that I’m writing this from Florida, but alas, Jason and I have returned to the not-as-warm North. The good news? It’s 70 and sunny today on Long Island, and I hear it’s about the same in Syracuse. I’ll be 315-bound in a couple of days, so that’s great news. We’ll be rolling out a couple of new videos from Florida in the next few days. Here’s Jason with likely Chiefs relievers Lee Hyde and Jeff Mandel to start it off.
Here’s the second set of pictures from our trip to spring training. They’re from today’s Nationals/Yankees game from Space Coast Stadium in Viera, the home of the Nats’ spring training complex.
That’s all for tonight. Jason’ll have some thoughts tomorrow morning.