The Bullpen Blues
That familiar sense of summer is back in the air here in the nation’s capital, and with summer comes baseball.
The Ottawa Fat Cats season kicked off with a bang during these past couple of weeks. So much so, that I have to do a 3rd ‘wave’ of signings… and even a release.
As reader Pierre pointed out, it appears that Phil Craig-St. Louis is no longer on the Fat Cats’ roster. There was no public release about this, which I find somewhat strange, but it’s likely just a case of Craig-St. Louis turning down the request of joining the team.
It is a big commitment to join a team that is on the road at least every other weekend, but I’m still disappointed that we won’t be able to see him in a Fat Cats uniform more than once. He would’ve definitely been a valuable asset for the Fat Cats if he played to the impressive extent that he did against the Gatineau Volant.
Onto a couple of signings.
Mark Charrette will re-join the team. He’s another core guy for the Fat Cats, so having him back is a big relief for me and I’m sure a lot of other guys involved with the Fat Cats as well. With him back in the line-up, it’ll be interesting to see where Jason Coker draws in.
Most recently, the Cats picked up Matt Hummel. The right-hander from Morrisburg seems a little familiar to me. Not sure if I’m just going crazy, or if he has played with the Fat Cats previously. Either way I believe that I’ve seen his name somewhere before. [Turns out, he did play for the Fat Cats for a short time in their inaugural season. Josh Soffer let me know.. thanks, Josh]
Hummel plays for the Marshall Thundering Herd in NCAA Div 1, so it’s great to get another guy with experience at a high level of ball on the team. Hopefully he’ll be able to help out with the Fat Cats’ woes on the pitching mound.
That works as a nice Segway into my next topic..
I’m not envious of the position that Tim Nelson is in right now. It’s not exactly a secret that that the area that the Fat Cats coaching staff needs to focus on right now, is on the mound. New guys that the Cats signed, Boisvert and MacDonald-Wilson, have both appeared. I’m not going to jump to conclusions on them just yet and say that they don’t belong on the team, but their debuts have been…. bad.
MacDonald-Wilson has an ERA of 16.20.
Boisvert has been credited with a loss already, and he’s only faced 2 batters.
To tack on to that, it’s not only the new pitchers that have been struggling. Josh Soffer has one of the worst ERAs in the league (21.60). Just all around, the work on the mound from the Fat Cats’ bullpen has been brutal.
It’s obviously not just the bullpen that’s causing this team to lose ball games. Other areas of the team’s offense and defence lack consistency. Core guys, like LaDale Hayes, have been struggling at the plate. Don’t get me wrong, when Hayes gets on base, he’s one of the most effective players in the league. The problem here is the amount of time that he’s on base.
Fortunately for us, the starters haven’t been as bad. Marc-Andre Major for example has had a respectable debut. I didn’t expect him to come in and steal the show, which he hasn’t, but I’m not uneasy when I see that he’s starting. Major is a good acquisition for this young Ottawa team. He adds some experience that some of the guys on the mound need.
With Matt McGovern having his “arm rested”, Brandon Huffman has assumed the role that McGovern has temporarily vacated quite nicely. Gov’s shut-down role up there was something that many—including myself—thought was irreplaceable. However, Huffman has proved all of us wrong. He currently leads the league with 17 strikeouts and is 3rd in the league for ERA, at 2.25.
We definitely miss Gov on the mound, but Huffman has been more than a suitable replacement for him so far.
Before I go, I have to acknowledge the achievement at the dish for Ottawa. Mombo and new acquisition Wade Wilson both went yard versus Kitchener. This is actually a pretty big achievement for the Fat Cats, considering their 9 homers all season last year.
Currently, the Cats are on pace to double that number with 18 home runs. I doubt this number will stand, but an improvement over last year would be great and I think that the Fat Cats are more than capable of doing that. At the very least, they could break the streak that they have going—no homers at Ottawa Stadium for 358 days and counting.
Ottawa plays the Kitchener Panthers again this weekend in a 3 game home-opening series. I’m confident that Ottawa will be a more determined group this time around. We can take 2 of 3 games this series, but the key word there is “can”. There is a difference between “can” and “will”. Distinguishing between those two words is up to the Fat Cats.
I won’t be there, unfortunately, as I’m in Quebec City for the weekend. Maybe I’ll be able to catch the Quebec Capitales in action. They play the Rockland Boulders in a 4 game series on the holiday weekend… a flashback to the Can-Am League would certainly bring some memories back rapid-ly (see what I did there?).