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The K-Tribe Chronicle: The Kinston offense is just plain offensive

The K-Tribe Chronicle: The Kinston offense is just plain offensive
May 18, 2011
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(Photo: Kinston Indians)
From the Reservation:

Kinston did about what I expected them to do after their season best week in week four. They followed it up with their worst week, going 1-5, and tumbling further down the standings.

If I seem a little discombobulated about it, it's because I am. This is the same pattern this team took last year, before righting the ship later in the season as their roster began to stabilize. This year, their roster has been fairly stable from the start. While a few players have moved up, for the most part, this team has been intact from the start.

Okay...let's back up a second here. The Kinston pitching has been solid. This isn't a group that's as good as last season's opening rotation, but the top of their rotation in Brett Brach and Drew Pomeranz are. Their bullpen also showcases some good, solid arms. While Pomeranz is the only lock for Cleveland in the near future, this team does have some solid pitching depth that will make the organization overall, more valuable in the future.

The offense...well...stinks. For now, that's all I have to say about that, so...let's get driving...

Where We Stand after week 5:

Overall Record: 14-22 (1-5 the past week, last place in the Carolina League Southern, 8 games back)

Week #5 Games:

10 @ Myrtle Beach, Postponed: Rain
11 @ Myrtle Beach, L 0-6 (WP: J. Wieland; LP: T. House)
11 @ Myrtle Beach, L 0-2 (WP: R. Kelly; LP: B. Brach; SV: J. Ortiz)
12 @ Myrtle Beach, L 2-4 (WP: R. Erlin; LP: D. Pomeranz; SV: T. Hurley)
13 vs. Frederick, L 2-4 (WP: R. O'Shea; LP: C. Cook; SV: J. Moore)
14 vs. Frederick, W 5-0 (WP: G. Soto; LP: O. Drake)
15 vs. Frederick, L 1-9 (WP: R. Bundy; LP: T. Murata)

This Week's Transactions:

05/13/2011 SS Tyler Cannon assigned to Kinston Indians from Lake County Captains.
05/12/2011 Kinston Indians activated CF Delvi Cid from the 7-Day disabled list.
05/12/2011 2B Kyle Smith assigned to Lake County Captains from Kinston Indians.
05/12/2011 Kinston Indians released 3B Daniel DeGeorge.

The Offense:

While I normally would have three-up here, if I did, I'd be making things up. The Kinston offense has been absolutely non-existant. This week, in their five losses, the K-Tribe were outscored 34-5, and even if you add their win, 34-10 is nothing to shout about. While it's true that the Carolina League is struggling offensively overall, Kinston is at or near the bottom in every category.

The Baby Tribe are last in runs, with 108, nearly fifty behind league leading Winston-Salem, who has 154. If they scored 20 runs tonight, and nobody else in the league scored, they'd only move up one slot, and by one run. They are last in the league in homers, with 11, 21 behind league leading Winston-Salem, and six away from tying for last. The are also last in RBI, Total Bases, and Slugging. Oh, I'm not done yet.

The Indians are second to last in hits, triples, average and OPS. When your team is last, or second to last in every major category, your team has no chance. That's too bad, because the pitching had a chance to make this team really, really good.

Thank goodness for a second half.

One UP...

1. Tyler Holt is very much proving that he was worth the tenth round pick in the 2010 draft. Clearly, the focus of the draft were those first five picks, with the likes of high ceiling guys, Drew Pomeranz and LeVon Washington at the center. Holt is more of a prototypical Tribe pick. Think Trevor Crowe, only slotted in the right spot, instead of in the first three or four rounds (Crowe was a first rounder, if I remember correctly) While still young at 22, he brings a mature approach to the plate, and simply does his job...get on base. He's seventh in the league with 37 hits, sixth in the league with eight doubles, second in the league in walks with 22, fifth in the league in stolen bases with nine, second in the league in OBP with a sparkling .410 mark, sixth in the league in average at .303, and 13th in the league with an .803 OPS. He'd likely have made mention in the runs category, had Kinston's lowly offense figured out what to do with him once he's on base.

and Three Down...

Bo Greenwell is mired in his first major slump of the season. Perhaps there is something in the water in Kinston, or perhaps Greenwell is just ready to move on to Akron. Either way, it will be interesting to see how he comes out of this. Greenwell had a solid season last year, but definitely faded down the stretch. Now that he's struggling early, here's hoping that he can burst out of it, and continue to the end of the year. In a deep system, he'll have to as an intangible-type player. This week, Greenwell went 3-22 (.143), with three runs scored, a double, an RBI, a walk and four strikeouts. He was also caught stealing, just to kick some dirt onto the pile.

And for my weekly update on Abner Abreu... I know, I should really cut him some slack. I suppose I'm still a bit bitter after his struggles last season, and continued struggles this season. Still, the lanky K-Tribe outfielder is doing absolutely nothing this year except taking up space on the bench. This week, Abreu went 5-21 (.238), with 8-K's. No, I didn't forget any other stats there runs, extra-base hits, walks, homers or RBI. Not bad for a guy who was supposed supply all of that (except walks) this season. He's still young, but not the clock is certainly ticking. Seriously, the day Abreu is on the three-up side continuously will be a great one...or of course...just a dream...

The Lake County crew finally began filtering up to Kinston to give it a needed boost on the offensive side. Up came Tyler Cannon, Jason Smit and Kyle Smith, hitting .366, .344 and .286 respectively. So far, Smit is hitting .211 and Cannon is hitting .200 (Smith did have a 2-2 day in his only game this week, so I'm kindly going to leave him out of this conversation...for now). While I'm sure that the early struggles of Cannon and Smit are hardly of much concern, and likely a direct result of jumping into an obvious pitching-heavy Carolina league, you do have to start wondering what is going on in Kinston. Is there some sort of curse because Kinston is rolling closer to Raleigh next season? Is there something wrong with the water supply? Do they need a new hitting coach? We shall see, but something needs done soon.

The good news is that the second half will start the team fresh, and truth be told, the first half still has some life left in it. The only question is whether or not the K-Tribe offense will have any life left.

The Pitching:

Three Up...

1. As long as Adam Miller is here, and as long as he is mowing people down, he's getting a spot in the 3-up for the week.  This week, Miller only made one appearance, but was more than impressive.  "Atom" went two innings, giving up only one hit, while striking out four.  Boy, I really hope he can stay healthy.  If he does, and you add that electric arm to a bullpen already shaping up to be a nightmare to most major league teams, things could get nasty, and quick.

2. Giovanni Soto still isn't popping up on many radars, unless he's making a third-of-an-inning start because of a rain delay.  Well, it might be time to start paying attention to the kid.  He hasn't really had a horrible start this season, and over the past three weeks, has been downright nasty.  This week, Soto went seven innings, giving up three hits and a walk, while striking out eight batters.  This kid is for real.

3. Preston Guilmet is the least used pitcher in the United States.  While I exaggerate a bit, the K-Tribe rarely has use for their closer, and it's not because they are destroying teams.  While this is true, Guilmet may be showing even more value to the club for what he's doing when he does make those appearances.  Guilmet's ERA is currently still at 0.00, and this week in his lone appearance, he went a non-stressful inning, and striking out one.  It will be interesting to see where he fits in the grand scheme of things, since he isn't a power arm, in a system full of them.

...and three down...

3. Toru Murata is having a hard time figuring out where he fits on this club.  He's been bouncing between the starting rotation, as well as the bullpen.  This week, Murata started, and it was a nightmare.  He went three innings, giving up five hits, three earned runs and a walk, while striking out only one.  I hardly think he came all the way over to the states for that.  Of course, the Indians could make a choice with him, and stick with it.

2. The only reason I'm putting Drew Pomeranz here is because he lost. His numbers weren't sterling, but they weren't horrible either.  He went 4 1/3 innings, giving up six hits, three earned runs and two walks, while striking out six.  I'm most curious at how he rebounds next Wednesday in his next start.  Is he going to come back and decimate a team in retaliation, or is he going to struggle to regain his form.  Tune in...

1. Jose Flores was one of only two relievers who made two appearances.  One was pretty solid, while the other, well, wasn't.  Overall, he went 1 2/3 IP, with four earned runs, a walk and a K. That 21.60 ERA isn't going to move you up many ladders.

Week 4 Awards:

Offensive player of the week: Tyler Holt 

Pitcher of the week: Giovanni Soto 
Player of the week: Giovanni Soto

Here comes week 6:

May 2011

16 vs. Lynchburg, L 0-11 (WP: Z. Spruill; LP: B. Brach)
17 vs. Lynchburg, W 4-3 (WP: T. House; LP: C. Rasmus; SV: P. Guilmet)
18 vs. Lynchburg, 6:30 PM
19 vs. Lynchburg, 6:30 PM
20 @ Frederick, 7:00 PM
21 @ Frederick, 6:00 PM
22 @ Frederick, 2:00 PM

The Rearviewmirror:

Growing up, I remember finding my first Harmon Killebrew card, and thinking, "That has to be the coolest name I've ever seen." Of course, turning the card around and finding out that he hit more homers than anyone but four other players (at the time) made the name stand out even more.  His last year in the league was my first year as a huge baseball fan, and while he never really did much that season, I kept his card in my mint section, because he was always one of my favorites.  The guy came so close to 50 homers so many times, hitting 49 twice, and 48 once, and was even robbed of 50 when a homer was called a double, even though it had gone over the wall.  Growing up with baseball, you just remember the stories of the mammoth home runs, but one of my favorite baseball players ever, Rod Carew, always said that he was the person he was because of Killebrew.  Killebrew was one of the good ones.  The funniest thing about Killebrew is that you hear the name, and Paul Bunyan or someone like him pops into your head...larger than life.  Killebrew wasn't small, but at 6'0" and 195 lbs, he wasn't big either...

...until he picked up a bat.

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