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Fishing for Mudcats: "Choking on the splinters..."

Fishing for Mudcats: "Choking on the splinters..."
May 31, 2012
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From the Bait Shop:

Preface: Stats used for this article were from Monday, May 22, through May 29th
Last week, I discussed in detail how the Mudcats couldn’t find their way. While their 2-4 record last week was distressing, there were still signs that the team was something more than that record would indicate. I was a firm believer that the parts of this team were too great for the sum of the team to play any worse than that. Well faithful readers, I was wrong. The Mudcats did themselves better (well, worse, but who’s counting) by rolling out an OH-FER in week #8. The Mudcats took themselves completely out of the equation in the first half of the season by dropping all six games that they played, and falling seven games back with only 21 games left in the first half of the season.
The pitching staff just fell off the table. There really wasn’t much to talk about in terms of overall good, as both the rotation and the bullpen were absolutely terrible. Overall, the pitching staff went a total of 50 innings, giving up 57 hits and 39 runs (37 earned), while walking 27 batters, and striking out 36. Yeah, you read that right…they walked way too many batters, and struck out way too little. They also gave up nine homers. When you are struggling to find the strike zone, and giving up that many homers when you do, trouble will ensue, as their 6.66 ERA would attest.
The starters did actually pitch more innings than the bullpen this week, and they actually had the better week, which isn’t saying too much. They went 32 innings, giving up 35 hits and 21 runs (all earned). They walked 14 batters, while striking out 21. They gave up seven of the nine total home runs. Hey, at least their ERA was below 6.00, right? Hey, what can I say, I’m an eternal optimist.
The bullpen wasn’t anywhere near mafia standards this week, pitching only 18 innings, while giving up 22 hits and 18 runs (16 earned). They walked 13 batters, while only striking out 15. If your bullpen ERA is 8.00, there is no way your team is successful. It’s not hard to see why this team sunk to the bottom this week.
The offense wasn’t much better. While a couple of players were shining, the rest of the team took a dive. Overall, the sticks went 45-for-195 (.231), with 19 runs scored (vs. 39 for their opponents), 11 doubles, 1 triple, four homers and 17 RBI. They walked 28 times, and struck out in 51 at bats. They did manage to steal five bases…so there’s that. It just wasn’t very good.
It’s not really all that complicated. If your pitching is bad, and your offense is bad, well…your bad…
Now that I’ve made a statement of cosmic, educational proportions, let’s go fishing, so I can show off my scholarly advancement…

Where We Stand After Week #8:

Overall Record: 22-27 (0-6 this week), 4th Place in the Southern Division, 7 games behind Winston-Salem.

Week #8 Games:

22 @ Frederick, L 1-6 (WP: S. Copeland; LP: M. Goodnight)
23 @ Frederick, L 2-7 (WP: B. Erbe; LP: K. Blair)
 25 vs. Winston-Salem, L 5-7 (WP: J. Collop; LP: F. Jimenez; SV: N. McCully)
 26 vs. Winston-Salem, L 5-7 (WP: T. Marin; LP: J. Flores; SV: K. Bellamy)
 27 vs. Winston-Salem, L 3-8 (WP: S. McCray; LP: J. Reichenbach)
 28 vs. Wilmington, L 3-4 (WP: L. Perez; LP: M. Goodnight; SV: C. Boruff)

This Week’s Transactions:

No official league transactions listed from the 22nd through the 28th

The Offense

The Good…

Tony Wolters continues to shine at the plate, and it’s good to keep seeing his name in the good column. While most of the rest of the team has taken a dive, Wolters continues to excel, with hits in five of his six contests. In his only oh-fer game, Wolters walked three times, showcasing the advanced approach that he has when things are going well. He was second on the team in runs, while leading in hits with eight, and tying for the lead in doubles (2) and walks (5). Wolters hit .364 for the week, and has brought his average up to .222. He was hitting .130 on May 1st, so I’d say he’s taking more than baby steps. Wolters is playing as well as anyone in the system right now.
Jeremie Tice split his time equally between DH at first base, and continued to excel at the plate, hitting .333 for the week. Tice is the overall average leader for the team (.302), and is leading the team and the Carolina League in homers. This past week, Tice went 7-for-21 (.333), with two runs, a team-leading three doubles, a homer, and a team leading four RBI. He walked three times, and struck out four. Tice has an advanced approach at the plate, but is an elder statesman on the team. He needs to find a position, and get out of High A to prove his worth in the system. If only he could play in the outfield consistently.
Jake Lowery has been struggling for the better part of a month now, so it was good to see that he was able to hit over .300 this week. The offensively-talented catcher went 4-for-13 (.308), with two runs and three RBI. He managed to walk four times, and only struck out three times on the week. That was an accomplishment, as Lowery can be over-aggressive at the plate. There are concerns about his stamina, as he seemed to struggle at the end of last season, and has followed a similar pattern this season in the early going. It is interesting that he only played in four of the six games. Perhaps they are trying to build some of that stamina as the season progresses.

…The Bad and the Ugly…

There really are a lot of directions I could go here to start off, but I’m going to stay in Cleveland with the homegrown Anthony Gallas. Let me just start this off by saying that Gallas is one of my favorite players in the organization. No, it’s not because he’s the most talented (he’s not), and it’s not because he’s a good pal (have talked to him more than once at the park, but never have even introduced myself other than being a part of a miniscule amount of media). It’s because the kid is an underdog, and for the most part, has done very well. This week, not so much. Gallas managed one hit, and while It was a double, you’ve got to do more than 1-for-22 at this level if you want to advance. Gallas saw his overall average drop forty points, and is now hitting a measly .217.
While Gallas is the underdog of the team, Carlos Moncrief is blessed with an incredible abundance of “five-tool” talent. Moncrief just can’t seem to put it all together for any extended period of time, and when he doesn’t, he can be very bad. This week, Moncrief did lead the team with three runs, as he can run the bases with plus speed, and create some havoc. Still, he hit .190 on 4-for-21 hitting, with a double and a homer, and three RBI. Where does Moncrief go wrong? Well, he struck out nine times in five games, without a walk. That’s just not going to cut it.
Giovanny Urshella and Tyler Holt both hit .217 for the week, and while I’m mentioning them here, I do want to mention that both are with an asterisk. Urshela is coming of a stint on the DL, and Holt really didn’t have a bad week, as he manages to get on base every game, and really is the straw that stirs the drink. He wasn’t stirring much this week, but much of that was the team. He did manage five walks, and while he struck out eight times, he really is tempering his aggressive approach overall.

The Pitchers:

The Good…

Kyle Petter is starting to look like the guy that got bumped up early from Lake County after doing well there early. He got bombed early on in Carolina, but has gained his footing. He was the only pitcher in the pen or starting rotation that looked consistently dominant this past week. He made two appearances, each for two innings. He was near perfect, giving up only one hit, while striking out four. He lowered his overall ERA to 6.20, which shows you how bad his start was. Remember, it’s not how you start a race…but how you finish it.
Danny Salazar made a nice and interesting return to the rotation. He only went three innings, as the Indians are clearly going to keep him tempered for the foreseeable future, so that he can stay healthy. He was absolutely dominant in his three-inning stint, giving up one walk, while striking out four. Salazar fits in with a bunch of others in the low minors that have the potential to be something more than just a #3 starter, or a middle of the road bullpen arm. He’s clearly got something to offer, so pay attention as the season progresses, and so do his innings.
Shawn Armstrong is still the best arm in the Carolina bullpen, and some think on the entire team. He did get touched for a run, but overall, his 0.72 ERA is nearly impeccable. Armstrong is an elite reliever in the system right now, and that’s saying something with some of these guys.

…The Bad and the Ugly…

For the second straight week, Kyle Blair is on top of this week with just another atrocious outing in a piggy-back situation with Danny Salazar. I don’t know how a guy can look as good as Blair did prior to his last two appearances, then look this bad, but Blair has figured out how. He got lit up for another seven runs, on five hits (two homers) and five walks. Yeah, in 2 1/3 innings, he let ten guys on base in some form. That’s just not very good.
I’m not surprised that Jose Flores is struggling. No, I’m not saying I told you so here, but I’ve never been a big Flores fan. This is the guy that I saw for most of last season, and while he has an intriguing power arm, his delivery continues to be a mess. I do feel like he can “figure it out” for a few games at a time, but he always seems to regress. He gave up two runs, three hits and a walk in his one inning of work.
Francisco Jimenez seemed to revert to his early 2011 form as well, and fell back in line with my Flores/Jimenez bashing. Perhaps these guys were feeling reminiscent, and missed me jack-hammering them, as I did for much of last season. Jimenez has completely climbed out of my dog-house, however, and I do feel that he has a bunch to offer in the system as another guy like Paolo Espino and Eric Berger, in both a starting and relieving role. Not sure it translates to the major league level, but they certainly can hold form in the minors. This week though, Jimenez was terrible, giving up nine hits, two walks, six runs and three homers in five innings of work.
I could go on and on here, but let’s just leave it as it is. The staff was terrible this week, across the board. 

Week #8 Awards:

Hitter of Week 8: Tony Wolters
Pitcher of Week 8: Kyle Petter
Player of Week 8: Tony Wolters

The Archives:

Hitter of Week 1: Tyler Holt
Hitter of Week 2: Jesus Aguilar
Hitter of Week 3: Jake Lowery
Hitter of Week 4: Giovanny Urshela
Hitter of Week 5: Jesus Aguilar
Hitter of Week 6: Ronny Rodriguez
Hitter of Week 7: Tyler Holt
Hitter of Week 8: Tony Wolters
Pitcher of Week 1: Cody Allen
Pitcher of Week 2: T.J. House
Pitcher of Week 3: Mike Rayl
Pitcher of Week 4: Shawn Armstrong
Pitcher of Week 5: Dale Dickerson
Pitcher of Week 6: Francisco Jimenez
Pitcher of Week 7: Shawn Armstrong
Pitcher of Week 8: Kyle Petter
Player of Week 1: Cody Allen
Player of Week 2: T.J. House
Player of Week 3: Jake Lowery
Player of Week 4: Shawn Armstrong
Player of Week 5: Jesus Aguilar
Player of Week 6: Francisco Jimenez
Player of Week 7: Tyler Holt
Player of Week 8: Tony Wolters

Here Comes Week #9:

May 2012
29 vs. Wilmington, 7:15 P.M
 30 vs. Wilmington, 7:15 PM
31 vs. Wilmington, 7:15 PM
June 2012
1 @ Winston-Salem, 7:00 PM 
2 @ Winston-Salem, 7:00 PM 
3 @ Winston-Salem, 2:00 PM
4 @ Wilmington, 7:05

Looking Astern:

I’ve heard rumblings that Trey Haley is hurt again, but I can’t get a contact that can give me any more information than that. I don’t know if he’s going on the DL, and if this is something that is long-term, but when you have a guy that’s struggled with injury like Haley, you can’t help but worry. Haley has an elite arm, and let me tell you something, if you see him pitch, you can see that this kid can be special. I’ve seen guys throw 95 plus and look average because their fastball doesn’t have movement or true “life” to it. Haley has that life…that movement. He started off in the rotation (and if healthy, would have been a top-end guy), and was moved to the pen. He has closer written all over him as he really started to command his pitches. It looked like Haley had turned a corner. Now comes the rumors of a potential injury. While not confirmed by any stretch, I hope it’s not the case, because I have to believe another setback will really hurt him in the eyes of the organization. You’re never going to give up on a kid that can throw like Haley can, but there will come a point when his healthy becomes a true issue. I’m not saying it is now, but I know that every scout I’ve talked to with regards to Haley always prefaces anything they say with, “if he’s healthy…” You can read between the lines on that.
Haley went on the DL today, and I haven’t been able to get the lowdown on his situation. Make sure you check in with IPI, as I’m sure Tony will have any information on Haley (if he hasn’t already) long before anyone else does.

Jim is currently the senior editor and Columnist, as well as  the host of IBI's weekly online radio shows, Smoke Signals and Cleveland Sports Insiders. You can follow Jim on Twitter @Jim_IBI, or contact him via e-mail at

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