26 June 2017

"I Hate This Team"

Joe Reisel's Archives

"I Hate This Team!"

That is a direct quote from someone with whom I was watching the June 18 Norfolk Tides - Louisville Bats game. Granted, this game was played the afternoon after a 16-inning, five-hour-and-twelve minute contest in which the Tides blew a 5-1 lead after the first inning. And granted, the quote came immediately after Jesse Winker delivered a two-run, game-tying single in the eighth inning. Fortunately for Tides fans, the Tides scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth on a Mike Yastrzemski single.

Despite the exaggerated nature of that comment, I have to agree that the 2017 edition of the Tides haven't been my favorite. Yes, they're playing poorly, with an overall record of 32-44 (after June 25), but this isn't the worst record they've had. And the team features a former National League home run champion (Pedro Alvarez), the Orioles #1 prospect (Chance Sisco), and a couple of other players who are (1) fun to watch and (2) playing fairly well (Johnny Giavotella, David Washington.) So why do I like this team so little?

Reason #1 - the team has little power - especially at Norfolk's Harbor Park - and the two big power hitters - Alvarez and Washington - are all-or-nothing sluggers. Those two players have combined for 561 plate appearances; they have 26 home runs and 148 strikeouts. When they hit the ball well, good things happen - but when they don't, nothing happens.

Reason #2 - although Chance Sisco is a good prospect, it's hard to get excited about watching him. He's a catcher, so he doesn't get many chances to make good fielding plays. As an offensive player, he doesn't have great speed or great power; he's a singles-and-doubles type hitter. He's not exciting, or even interesting, to watch. And Harbor Park is hard on players like Sisco.

Reason #3 - The Tides outfield is filled with fourth-outfielder types. For a period of time, the Tides outfield consisted of some combination of Chris Dickerson, Craig Gentry, Michael Bourn, Mike Yastrzemski, and Logan Schafer, all of whom are speed-and-defense players. Only Dickerson has performed well at the plate.

Reason #4 - Perhaps the biggest reason why this team isn't likeable is that the starting rotation - as best as can be figured out - is composed of five pitchers who rely on command, rather than stuff, and who haven't pitched very well. Jayson Aquino, Chris Lee, Tyler Wilson, Jordan Kipper, and Gabriel Ynoa have all had their moments, but too often they haven't been as sharp as they need to be. The Tides rank third from the bottom in both team WHIP and team strikeouts - not an inspiring combination.

As I was writing this, it struck me that the reason this team isn't fun to watch is that too many Tides games at Harbor Park are the same. A finesse starting pitcher who gives up too many hits, an offense that relies on singles spiced by an occasional home run, too many in-inning pitching changes. We have very little reason to expect anything interesting or exciting. And interesting or exciting things happen too infrequently.

Sounds a little like the major-league Orioles to me.


tony2302 said...

sounds an awful lot like the farm/scouting heads need a change of perspective or maybe a job?

Jon Shepherd said...

I think what we are seeing in Norfolk is partially due to what Duquette has turned Norfolk into. The club is a weigh station for Major League depth. The club is full of failed prospects and post-peak MLBers. It is designed to supplement the Major League squad, but is not doing it as well as it has in years before. A major reason why is that a wave of Orioles prospects did not show up. The club dealt a few out and that is why they are not here, but, largely, the club had some difficult at the end of MacPhail's tenure (almost all of his tenure) and the beginning of Duquette's. RIght now, the talent has all been pushed hard to advance but really is sitting at Frederick and Bowie. Add in the Orioles minimal presence in the international sphere and the talent pipeline is a bit pulsed. It is one of the major reasons why Duquette went for broke with fringe pitchers with options.