Aug 31st, 2009
By John Norris
So, I told Justin Cassel that I drafted his brother Matt…as my backup QB to Aaron Rodgers. Makes sense since he’s changed teams and needs an adjustment period. Justin seemed indignant at the notion that Matt is my backup. Guess I made the right move considering his MCL sprain, that’s why I have a championship going into my fourth year of playing fantasy football.
I’ll use this week’s edition to give you guys a preview of the Barons playoff run. Maybe it’s better this year that we don’t have Miguel Negron claiming that the Barons will “destroy” whomever they play seeing as they were swept out last season. How’s my confidence level about the Barons chances? About 50/50. We all know that momentum going into the playoffs is ever so important to a particular team’s odds. An honest assessment of the Barons heading down the home stretch is that of a team that is scuffling. With 8 games to go, but with a 4 game deficit in the division to Birmingham’s first round opponent Jacksonville, claiming both halves and getting up to 4 home games in the semis in a best of 5 series is unlikely. But with 85 wins, getting to 90 isn’t out of the question. Not only a notch in the team’s belt, but a momentum builder.
What am I concerned about? The pitching staff. There are 11 eligible pitchers for the Barons. In a best of 5, you’ll only need 3 starters. Those 3 will more than likely be Matt Long, Matt Zaleski and John Ely. The other two rotation members, Kyle McCulloch and Johnnie Lowe, will not start and Lowe likely won’t pitch at all. His scheduled start on Thursday may be his last outing of 2009. McCulloch will only log innings in a pinch or if one of the starters gets shelled. The aforementioned Justin Cassel said himself that he has been shut down for the year so that leaves the Barons with 9 pitchers. What about Charlie Shirek? He was removed from the rotation because of the amount of innings he’s logged already. The most in his professional career. Shirek has only pitched 7 1/3 innings in the last two and a half weeks so he will only be called upon in a pinch. Basically that leaves 8 men to carry the load. Clevelan Santeliz is the closer now, but with him charging the home plate umpire Saturday night, it remains to be seen what discipline he receives from the Southern League and how it will affect his playoff status. That leaves Johnny Lujan, Henry Mabee and Ricky Brooks. Lujan has really only pitched in garbage time, whether it be the Barons blowing someone out or getting blown out themselves. As long as Mabee keeps the ball down, he will be effective in 1 or 2 inning situations as a bridge to Santeliz. Brooks has a rubber arm and has been a workhorse since his promotion from Winston-Salem. He could pitch up to 4 innings if needed on a given night. As has been the case most of the season, the Barons do not feature any lefties out of the pen. Are you concerned as I am yet?
Even with losing Gordon Beckham, Stefan Gartrell, Brandon Allen and Tyler Flowers, the offense hasn’t fizzled in the second half. The additions of soon to be top 10 prospect Christian Marrero and the BB/RBI machine Jimmy Gallagher have leveled things out. With David Cook and his 24 homers and 82 RBI, Dayan Viciedo and his 10 homers and 73 RBI and C.J. Retherford and his 9 homers and 72 RBI, there’s plenty of offense left. A role player like veteran Javier Colina has contributed much to the team offensively and as a utility infielder. John Shelby III may act as our Dave Roberts and be a base stealing threat. Throw in the big bat of Lee Cruz, who can go deep at any point if he doesn’t hit a double to the gap. If Jordan Danks can get on base steadily at the top of the order, then the offense should have plenty of scoring opportunities. In a nutshell, the offense doesn’t concern me.
With Jacksonville being a Marlins affiliate, they feature a deep and talented pitching staff and several stud hitters. Plus, they’ve been the hottest team in the Southern League in the second half and the Barons dropped 4 out 5 to them on the road in a back breaking series at the end of July. But of course, in a 5 game series, anything can happen. And, as the song that plays every time the Barons score says, “it’s business time.”
As usual, requests for the next edition of JPNese can be made at Soxtalk.