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.
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.
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