5/16 Recap: Sounds v. Aces

May 16, 2009

The Sounds beat Reno last night, lead by the offense of Jason Bourgeois and Joe Koshansky. Tim Dillard was solid before fading away a bit in the 6 inning, in which he allowed all of his 3 runs.  It was my first game out at the stadium post-renovations and it looked nice. Other random observations from the game:

  • Tim Dillard really has average stuff and it’s no wonder why, with his tall-and-fall mechanics. He leads the PCL with six wins, but I wouldn’t read too much into that, he looks as average as ever.
  • Angel Salome looked a little off at the plate tonight, late on some pitches.  Hopefully, it was just a bad night.
  • On the flip side, Tony Gwynn looks much better at the dish. I think his approach has genuinely improved and I’m going to have a bigger post on him soon.
  • Batting Iribarren and Koshansky back-to-back is a bad idea.  It makes it really easy for one of the many LOOGY’s in the PCL to take care of them and that fell right into Reno’s hands one inning with men on and one out.
  • Another matchup that looked bad for Reno, a sidearming righty vs. Koshansky, ended in an out, but Koshansky hit it hard.
  • Koshansky’s interesting night also featured a beautiful bunt single.  He was out soon after on a hit-and-run, however, proving bad managing always eventually comes to bite.

It was good to see the Sounds win after losing Gamel. They’ll miss his bat, but they’ll be fine, and their pitchers will probably appreciate a real thirdbaseman in the field.


Brewers Lineup-2010

April 22, 2009

The Brewers lineup is about to be scary good. They will have awful defense, aside from the second to none glove of Alcides Escobar.

R Weeks-2B

A Escobar-SS

R Braun-LF

P Fielder-1B

C Hart-RF

M Gamel-3B

M Cameron-CF

A Salome-C

 

They could go with Gwynn if they don’t pick up Cameron’s ’10 option. There would be significant improvemnts at the plate at C and 3B, and SS would have a true ballplayer that can absolutley do it all.

The only concern for the BrewCrew will be pitching. They will need to get at least one pitcher and some bullpen help in the offseason. If they do, they will be right there with the Cubs and Reds.

Alcides flashing the leather

Alcides flashing the leather


Matt Gamel–2 more months?

April 22, 2009

Matt Gamel is on the exact same path that Ryan Braun took to the majors. Braun and Gamel are comparable in so many ways. They both played 3B for the Sounds, or at least attempted to. Braun has now been moved to the OF, and if Gamel’s defense doesn’t radically improve in the next couple of months, he could be switched as well. Bill Hall is the current every day starter for the Brewers, but it’s obvious he’s not the long term solution anymore. The only reason Gamel’s not in the Majors right now is because of his defense.

 

Gamel–.444/.518/.911, 5 HR, 19 RBI in just 12 games? Heads up. My recommendation is get his autograph while you can…as in now.


Gwynn, Koshansky Optioned To Nashville

April 4, 2009

Joe Koshansky will be fielding first at Greer this season.

Joe Koshansky will be fielding first at Greer this season.

According to Adam McCalvy at Brew Beat, Tony Gwynn has cleared waivers and will return to Nashville for another season. Gwynn continued his trend toward total slap hitter for the Sounds last year, hitting a career high 62.1% of batted balls on the ground. The result was a modest .275/.328/.331. He’ll need to raise that average this year, if he has any aspirations of a career with the Brewers. Defensively, he was a solid 4 runs above average in center. Unless he enjoys a real breakout in 2009, look for fan-favorite Gwynn to spend the majority of his season with the Sounds.

Also mentioned in McCalvy’s post, the Brewers claimed Joe Koshansky, a former member of the Colorado Rockies organization, off waivers from the Rangers. Last year, Koshansky posted a monster .300/.379/604 line with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. He plays good defense at first, and should have no problem pushing former Brave Scott Thorman from the Sounds’ firstbase job.

All stats provided by Minor League splits dot com.


Turnbow Changing Approach

March 12, 2008

Derrick Turnbow is having a nice spring so far, retiring the last nine batters he’s faced.   He attributes his success to a new approach.   

During that stretch, Turnbow has recorded just one strikeout, which actually has pleased him.”I’m trying to let them put it in play instead of trying to strike everybody out,” Turnbow said. “It’s a change, a different mind-set.”I’ve been keeping my pitch counts down, throwing more strikes. I’m not trying to blow it by everybody. I’m just trying to get ahead (in the count), throw first-pitch strikes.” 

Source…He’ll probably register plenty of strikeouts if he trusts his stuff and throws strikes. This comment does make me wonder though whether he’s ever turned around seen the defense behind him…his BABIP can’t be healthy. 


Price Sent to Minors

March 12, 2008

After striking out the side in his pro-debut this spring, David is heading to minors camp.  

Rays manager Joe Maddon told Price to hurry back after breaking the news to the left-handed phenom, who said the Rays have not told him at what level they intend to start his professional career.     

…he’ll be in the majors soon enough. Depending on where he starts, he could get the early call and put together a big rookie year with the Rays. No need to rush these things, though. He’s got a full career ahead.  


The R.A. Dickey Story

March 11, 2008

R.A. Dickey, being perhaps the best pitcher to come out of Nashville, will be a subject of updates on this site.  I’ll probably call the feature “Dickey Watch” or try to pun “R.A.” somehow but in the meantime I’ve written up a brief history of the man.  For further (and better) reading, check out recent NYT and NPR pieces on R.A. (I quoted Dickey out of the Times article)

After a precipitous fall out of playoff contention last season, the Seattle Mariners resolved to make major improvement to their weakened pitching staff this winter. They paid out an estimated 48-million dollars for Minnesota Twins right-hander Carlos Silva and traded five players, including top prospect Adam Jones, for Baltimore ace Érik Bédard. Yet a less-heralded new hurler is attracting the attention of teammates and media at the M’s training camp. Nashvillian R.A. Dickey is competing for a spot in the big leagues, on a team now deep in starters, and may have his best shot yet.

Some Nashvillians may remember R.A.’s early playing days as a flame-throwing pitcher who lead MBA to the 1993 state championship. After this incredible 1993 campaign, the Detroit Tigers selected R.A., already labeled a top prospect, in the 10th round of the MLB draft. He chose to pitch for the University of the Tennessee, where expectations remained high. According Mike Anderson, Dickey’s best friend and catcher throughout high school and college, “He was labeled from the very get-go one of the top 3 pitchers at UT.”

He didn’t disappoint, winning an unheard of fifteen games his freshman season (for reference, ex-Vanderbilt stud David Price won 2 games his freshman year). Following an All-American college career, Dickey was selected by Texas in the 1st round (18h overall) of the 1996 amateur draft. Shortly before he could sign with the Rangers, however, it was discovered he lacked an ulnar collateral ligament. The ulnar collateral ligament, made famous as the tendon repaired in Tommy John Surgery, is essential to the stability of the elbow and accordingly, pitching. Unable to undergo surgery on a non-existant ligament, Dickey signed with the Rangers for a drastically reduced sum. As he describes it now: “Imagine winning the lottery and then losing the ticket.”

R.A. Dickey didn’t dwell on his misfortune for long. Anderson remembers a deliberate change in R.A.’s attitude: “He started thinking, ‘This is going to drive me. This is going to make me work a little harder’”

During his time with Texas, Dickey worked mostly in the minors; occasionally making spot starts for the big league team. Taking the advice of coaches, he began to develop a traditional knuckleball, a low-effort pitch more suited for his mechanics. A knuckleball is a achieved by deadening all spin upon release the ball, allowing air currents to determine its erratic path to the plate. Dickey’s knuckleball evolved out of knuckle-curve he threw in college and an unknown knuckleball-esque pitch he toyed with in the minors.

The transition wasn’t easy. As Anderson remembers it: “He’s a power pitcher his entire career. He’s throwing fastballs, after fastballs, after fastballs, and now he has to learn a new pitch, especially a knuckleball, which is incredibly different to control or to take care of.”

Dickey gained that control after signing a minor-league contract with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2007. Assigned to AAA, he returned to Nashville, a welcome but hopefully temporary homecoming. He finished his season with Sounds 12-6 with a 3.80 ERA. His success earned him the PCL Pitcher-of-the-Year honors (think AAA Cy Young) and the attention of major league teams.

This winter R.A. signed a minor-league deal with the Minnesota Twins in hopes of cracking the big-league rotation. Not protected by the Twin’s 40-man roster, he was selected by the Seattle Mariners in the Rule-5 Draft, held this year in Nashville. Fortunately for R.A., the Mariners are required to keep him on their 25-man roster major-league roster, unless they chose to “sell” him back to the Twins. Dickey’s chances of making the staff, rotation or bullpen, are the best of his career.

Even without a decision this spring about his immediate future with Seattle, R.A. does not mind thinking long term. “The majority of knuckleballers have most of their success from ages 32 to 40, and win most of their games,” said Dickey at camp. His long-time catcher and friend shares his optimism: “Charlie Hough retired when he was 45, I believe, and Charlie Hough was a knuckleballer. So hopefully his career will be very long.”


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