JPNese 4/19

In his first edition of JPNese for this season, our resident Birmingham Barons expert John Norris gives his thoughts on the team, and their disappointing start to the season.

I’ve been thinking all week what exactly to write
about.  What observations do I have to pass on about our 2-8 Birmingham
Barons?  Although manager Ever Magallanes had a good feeling about the
team according to this AL.com
article
, I have to respectfully disagree.  After about 2 innings
opening night I had a bad, bad feeling about this team.  Now, I never
expected the 2010 team to be anything like the “Murderball” team of 2009
or the “Runaway Train” team of 1989.  But I certainly did not expect a
team with a .200 winning percentage.

Yes, I know
it’s only been 10 games.  But usually I can tell what the season’s going
to be like very early on.  I’m not saying I’ve given up all hope, most
of the players on the team are off to horrendously slow starts.  I’m
probably the biggest cheerleader for Christian Marrero, I’m a huge fan of
John Shelby III and Jim Gallagher.  But with Marrero and Gallagher
struggling, the team is floundering as a whole.  While Tyler Kuhn has
been a pleasant surprise, his success comes  from no expectations.  His
presence on the roster is likely only due to the absence of Jared
Mitchell.  Salvador Sanchez was off to a good start, but has missed the
last 5 games for unknown reasons.  Veterans Lee Cruz and Cole Armstrong
are also scuffling as well.  In regard to Birmingham’s light, light
hitting middle infielders, it’s not pretty.  Although hometown boy Greg
Paiml has 1 of the 3 Barons homers on the year.  The “fruit of the Jim
Thome trade,” Justin Fuller hustles and plays good defense, that’s about
it.  I am disappointed to see Dale Mollenhauer off to a bad start, he’s
been very productive since the White Sox drafted him.

The most disappointing aspect of all this is not getting to see what
Brent Morel is capable of.  He can’t do much damage out of the cleanup
spot when he has no one producing around him.  His stock can only suffer
as a prospect or trade bait without the chance to really shine.  How
does this affect the White Sox future plans for Morel?  He would no
doubt be a piece in a much rumored Adrian Gonzalez deal.  One silver
lining though is that he is truly a tremendous fielding third basemen.

The pitching staff has also been a let down.  While the
bullpen has been mostly solid, they’re usually pitching from behind in
the score.  Charlie Shirek has done his usual thing as a groundball
machine.  He should be 2-0 at this point, but the bullpen let him down
in his first start.  Johnnie Lowe has also pitched well, much to my
surprise given the shellings his took in the 5 starts he made for the
Barons at the end of last season.  On the other hand, Anthony Carter has
already been taken out of the rotation after throwing 80 + pitches in 3
innings in his AA debut.  Jhonny Nunez has been hit or miss and Matt
Long has not pitched well at all.  Maybe Justin Cassel can regain the
form his showed in 2008, probably not.

Is there still
hope?  Of course, but I’m not holding my breath.  A new homestand starts
tonight, hopefully the Barons are mad as hell and not going to take it
anymore.  When you hit rock bottom, the only way is up.  Until next
time…

               Cheers,
                        
JPN

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