Thursday, July 26, 2012

Q & A


Q:  What's wrong with Aaron Sanchez?
A:  Adversity amid the season.  Happens to everyone.  Carry on.

Q:  What happened to Carlos Perez and David Rollins?
A:  Traded to Houston and we wish them well.  It came as equally stunning news to all of us.

Q:  Are Shane Opitz and Andy Fermin a better double play duo than Andy Burns and Jon Berti?
A:  Not offensively.  Defensively?  Yes, I think they are.  Consider that Opitz has turned exactly as many double plays (36) as Burns in 12 fewer games, while Fermin is averaging 1.05 double plays per game compared to Berti's 0.57 mark.

Q:  Who hits the longest home runs, Kevin Patterson or anyone else?
A:  Ask a tougher question.

Q:  Are you listening to "Around the Nest"?
A:  Every Friday, 5-6 p.m.!

Q:  Will this Lugnuts team win the 2012 Midwest League Championship?
A:  Tough to tell.  They'll have a shot, but they need to shore up the bullpen first.

Q:  What makes Kipp Schutz so awesome?
A:  Besides "Trickwinkle"?  You'll have to ask him.

Q:  Fill in the blank:  Blake McFarland is ____.
A:  Impossible to bring up around scouts.  They laugh, scoff, snort, and change the subject -- compared to the rave reviews they offer about, say, Great Lakes relievers Jose Dominguez and Juan Rodriguez and Yimi Garcia, who light up the radar guns and also do things like walk seven straight batters and blow leads.  Yes, we understand, Blake's Major League future is much dimmer than a guy who can throw 98 mph.  We simply prefer the guy who grits his way through five more shutout innings and gives his team everything he's got.  Whatever happens from here, we've loved having Blake McFarland on the Lugnuts.

Q:  Who is the Lugnuts' X-Factor?
A:  Michael Crouse.  He hits homers, steals bases, draws walks, makes eye-opening catches, and delivers cannon throws from the outfield.  When he's on, he changes the game.  When he's off, he's a hole in the lineup.

Q:  Is this the final question?
A:  Yes... for now.

Marathon


There were 28 runs scored, 15 by Bowling Green batters.  19 position players took part in the game; only one, Andy Fermin, did not score a run.  Fermin didn't start the game, by the way.

There were 39 hits, 22 by Lansing batters.  19 position players took part in the game; only one, Andy Fermin, went hitless.

There were 24 strikeouts, 13 by Hot Rods pitchers.  There were 13 walks, 12 by Lugnuts pitchers.

There were four blown saves, two by each team.

Here were the sorts of twists and turns we experienced:
  • Two batters into the game, the Hot Rods led 2-0 on a Jake Hager home run off Aaron Sanchez.
  • The Lugnuts immediately countered with two runs in the bottom of the 1st, and then scored six more runs in the 2nd inning, capped by a Kevin Patterson home run.  8-2, hometown heroes.
  • Stymied by Sanchez from the 2nd through the 4th innings, Bowling Green loaded the bases in the 5th on a trio of walks.  Bryan Longpre came in from the bullpen... and allowed all three runs.  8-5, Lugs.
  • Longpre gave up two more runs in the 6th before he was chased in favor of Phil Brua.  8-7, Lugs.
  • A sacrifice fly ties the game in the 7th against Brua.  8-8.
  • A Juniel Querecuto error in the 8th gives Lansing the lead back.  9-8, Lugs.
  • The Hot Rods crush Kramer Champlin in the 9th to the tune of four more runs.  Stunningly, it is now 12-9, Bowling Green.
  • In the bottom of the 9th, K.C. Hobson singles, Michael Crouse singles, and Kevin Patterson whomps a three-run homer way out to right.  12-12.  Seriously?  We play onward.
  • The 10th inning passes uneventfully.
  • With two outs in the 11th, Hobson drops Gustavo Pierre's throw on what should be an inning-ending groundout.  Juniel Querecuto scores.  13-12, Hot Rods.  Surely that must be it.
  • In the bottom of the 11th, Patterson strikes out, Chris Schaeffer grounds out, and Chris Peters grounds to third -- but Querecuto's throw is a poor one, and the Lugnuts still have life.  Shane Opitz promptly drills a game-tying triple to right-center.  Because, you know, why not?  13-13.
  • A scoreless 12th inning.
  • Aleson Escalante runs into trouble in the 13th inning.  A bunt single and walk put two runners on, though left fielder Peters grants Escalante a reprieve by grabbing a single from Querecuto and throwing out Drew Vettleson at the plate.  A walk later, however, and the bases are loaded.  Ryan Brett bloops a fly toward shallow right, Chris Hawkins gets a late break on it, and the ball dies for a fluke two-run double.  15-13, Hot Rods.
  • In the bottom of the 13th, Michael Crouse grounds out, Kevin Patterson strikes out, and Chris Schaeffer flies out.  Ballgame.
There is no momentum in baseball.  There is most certainly a hangover effect.  On the bright side, it was a day game.  Plenty of time for the players to shower and sleep and recharge their batteries for the rest of the series.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Around the Nest

Let me draw your attention here:

"Around the Nest"


Dunedin's Craig Durham and I put together a weekly Blue Jays Minor League Talk Show, featuring the voices of the system.  It airs every Friday from 5 to 6 p.m. Eastern, as we take calls, answer Twitter questions, and generally talk Jays prospects.

To learn more, go to jaytalkin.blogspot.com.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Winning now

I am not a scout, and for that I am thankful.

A scout, looking at the Lugnuts' 4-0 shutout victory on Friday, might make a small note about Tyler Ybarra or scrawl a comment with regard to K.C. Hobson, but the game as a whole means nothing.

That game meant something to me.

The Lugnuts' Blake McFarland, Ybarra, and Brandon Berl, received by expert signal-caller Aaron Munoz, stared plainly in the face of the top scoring team in the league, a team that had steamrolled Aaron Sanchez and three relievers for 15 runs the previous day, and held their mighty offense scoreless.

This was a win.

Scouts perpetually ask who I believe are the top Lugnuts prospects; this is not the same at all as asking who are the top Lugnuts players.  They want to know who can impact a Major League roster, who would be worth trading for, and whether the Blue Jays are a team worth considering.

My answer to the scouts:  Sanchez, Noah Syndergaard, and Justin Nicolino.

As for the answer to my own question -- Who can the ailing Lugnuts count on if they are going to keep winning? -- I received a quartet of answers last night against Quad Cities, and I do not doubt that more answers will be provided in the upcoming weeks.

The scouts care about next year, two years from now, three years from now.

I care about 2012, and so do these Lugnuts.