View Full Version : Birmingham Early Review

Rex Hudler
05-09-2004, 04:14 AM
The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly...........

Note: This was originally done on May 5-6. I tried to change the stats where applicable, but some numbers may be off a couple of days.

In no particular order..........

The good.....
Mike Morse has surpassed everyone's expectations. He is a career .248 hitter. His swing is a bit long and he doesn't take a lot of pitches as evidenced by only 4 BB's. But he is showing power in a tough stadium to hit in and has been solid in the field. While watching him play defense, I don't get much of a reaction, positive or negative. I don't see Jason Dellaero skills, nor do I see Edward Scissorhands, so that is all I have to go by now.

Michael Spidale is doing exactly what he needed to do coming into this year. His weaknesses are a lack of power, a below average arm and falling into a habit of hitting too many fly balls. He takes walks (.432 OBP) and has 12 doubles. He will need to keep his average up and not fall off like last year where he lost approx. 30 points in the last two months of the season. He is not real big, so perhaps his body breaks down over the course of the long season? His OF defense is excellent and he can really go get balls in the gap. He will never get much acclaim as a prospect, but he has a chance as a 4th OF if can have a good year in AA. If not, he will become just another minor league OF with a couple of nice tools.

Chris Stewart is a light hitting catcher who is very good defensively. He doesn't have Olivo's arm strength, but his release is as quick as they come. He is hitting for a higher average than expected, but hasn't produced much (3 BBs, 3 2B, 3 RBI). Defense is definitely his forte.

Arnie Munoz is blowing away the Southern League. He doesn't look imposing, nor does he have an imposing fastball. He does, however have a big time curveball and varies speeds with it. His changeup has been real good and he can sneak it up to 90 mph occasionally, although he is normally around 86. The only knock on Arnie is his size. Will his body hold up through a full season's worth of starter innings? Will MLB hitters be intimidated when looking at a 5'7" pitcher? Will his curveball and change be good enough to offset an average fastball? Results are what matters so I think he will be okay. Whether that is as a starter or a reliever, remains to be seen.

Jeff Bajenaru does not belong in AA. Lights out is the easiset way I can describe him so far this year. A BB/K ratio of 2/21 in only 12.2 innings is especially impressive. He locates well, throws in the low 90's and his slider has made hitters look stupid.

The pitching staff has been solid all the way around. The starters, minus Honel and Wing have been excellent and the bullpen has held up their end of the deal. A team ERA of 3.27 says it all.

The bad...
Kris Honel has only pitched 4 innings and is on the DL. After a simulated game on Sunday where he was throwing in the low 80's, I don't think he will be back soon. I hear he has no more pain and no medical exams have found anything, so it is a mystery what is wrong.

Ryan Wing is still in Arizona rehabbing tendonitis in his shoulder. Originally expected to report to Birmingham in May, it now looks as if it will be at least June.

Wyatt Allen just can't cut it. I have seen no indication of any command or real idea of where the ball is going to end up. It looks as he were a risky draft pick based on arm strength that never could learn to pitch. He has gotten better recently, but I am not holding my breath.

Jim Bullard hasn't been that bad aside from one spot start where he got drilled. The bad part of his situation is that the Sox converted him in the fall to a sidearm arm slot ala Kelly Wunsch. Bullard recently abandoned that arm slot and is back to his normal 3/4. Rather than working to get better in Instructional League, the off-season and spring training, he was led into a failed experiment and lost development time. The ironic thing is that they were trying to make him like Wunsch, now they are trying to get rid of Wunsch.

Ruddy Yan has disappointed. He is hitting .276 which isn't bad if the rest of his numbers were where they should be. H only has 4 stolen bases while being caught stealing 4 times. He has also walked just 4 times and struck out 20, which is not what you are looking for from your leadoff hitter.

The vets/free agents have been extremely disappointing. Darren Blakely, Rob Sasser, Micah Franklin, Aaron McNeal and Nate Murphy (average age 28.6) are hitting a collective .224 and have 140 strikeouts between them (averaging 1 for every 3.2 AB's). Note: Murphy has been hot and raised his average 20 points in the past 5 days.

The ugly...
-- .243 team batting average
-- 244 strikeouts in just 922 AB's
-- Only 22 SB as a team, after having 8 in one game
-- Shaffer hitting ..088 (put him out of his misery please)
-- Micah Franklin hitting .122 and looking unbelievably
overmatched. His swing is incredibly wrong for this big ballpark. He is getting twisted into a pretzel on breaking balls time after time. He had his big league time. Time to move on....
-- Kris Keller is really struggling with an 7.31 ERA. He has his one inning in the big leagues. Time to move on.....

05-09-2004, 08:59 AM
Excellent report Rex.

Munoz sounds like he has a future in the Sox pen.

05-09-2004, 10:40 AM
Thanks for the update!

duke of dorwood
05-09-2004, 10:43 AM
Great update for those of us that do not have the time to research. The Honel news is a bit scary