Lugnuts Notes: : Home and Away series against the West Michigan Whitecaps

May 16 thru 19

  • Whitecaps 3 games, Lugnuts 1 game
  • Lugnuts are 20-23 (.465)
  • Third place, 4.0 games behind the Whitecaps, 2.5 behind the Battle Cats. Both South Bend and Fort Wayne are 2.0 games behind the Nuts.
  • Infielder Tony Longueira has been added to the roster

More ugly games, but at least against a good team. No team can afford to give up six or more runs per game.

At least the weather was nice. The home crowds–9,690 on Saturday, 9,640 on Sunday–were simply incredible.

Sunday’s game was the 23rd home game (I know because it says so on my ticket). That’s one third of the season, give or take three innings. That’s enough to make some judgements. So: What have we got here?

In a few words: Lots of offense. Some fairly good pitching, some really awful pitching. And some painful defense.

This team gives ballgames away. [Matt] Treanor throws too many balls into center field, and [Jose] Cepeda misses the first baseman about every third game. [Emiliano] Escandon’s made several plays he likely finds embarrassing. Sometimes it’s obvious [Pat] Hallmark’s being converted into an outfielder. Quinn–Mark’s a good outfielder–has made a couple costly mistakes.

They’re not all bad. As noted, Quinn’s mostly excellent in left. [Juan] Rocha’s center field isn’t very graceful, but Sunday’s error was his first. Although [Gary] Coffee recorded 11 errors in April, he’s made no official errors yet in May (I’d have scored Miranda’s “triple” differently, though). [Mark] Melito’s been wonderful.

Cepeda’s a particular concern. He fields well, his arm is simply incredible, and he looks terrific out there. But he committed 18 errors in his first 38 games; that costs ballgames. Most of the errors were bad throws. Now, KC seems certain to give this player a real shot at the big team. Either he’ll stop making the errors or he’ll have to change positions. But what position? I dunno. It would be a shame to waste that arm at first.

Jose’s combination of obvious talent and obvious discipline are not common. I love watching him play. But I worry about him.

My last tulips have about expired, as have the last daffodils. My lilacs are beginning to blossom. The summer garden is beginning to fill in, though nothing’s close to flowering. I expect the first daylilies to be next, though some rose may beat them. And Joan’s talking about planting herbs and vegetables.

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1 Response to Lugnuts Notes: : Home and Away series against the West Michigan Whitecaps

  1. joel says:

    This entry generated a response from Juan Rocha‘s sister, who thinks her brother graceful. Who am I to argue with that?

    Rocha was drafted in 1994, in the 67th round. (Can’t do that anymore; these days the draft stops after round 50 40.) The Royals released him during the 1998 season, so he finished the summer in the independent Atlantic League. And kept playing–he finally retired from indy-league baseball after the 2006 season. Not bad at all.

    Wonder what he’s doing now….

    A couple years later I had this to say about the 1996 Lugnuts’ defense:

    The 1996 Lansing Lugnuts team holds two closely-related league fielding records: They had 1743 assists, and turned 171 double plays. That double play figure is simply incredible; most years the league leader has about 130.

    This was a team with no regular shortstop (Mark Melito started 55 games), a third baseman who regularly threw the ball into the stands, a chubby first baseman, and a terrific second baseman (Carlos Febles) who spend 38 games on the DL. That summer, only West Michigan and South Bend made more errors than Lansing.

    So how’d they set this record? Opportunity certainly helped. The Luggies led the league in games played. The pitching staff surrendered 1336 hits, which is within a dozen of the MWL record. Most of the 218 errors put men on base. The 521 walks weren’t an outrageous number, but most MWL teams posted better numbers in 1996.

    That’s about 2075 baserunners. Let’s compare some other 1996 teams: Cedar Rapids had 137 DPs; they got those with 1892 “baserunners” (total of hits & walks & errors). Peoria, with the best pitchers, had 107 DPs and 1634 “baserunners.”

    Obviously, opportunity helped. But that’s still an incredible number of DPs.

    (This was originally posted to the [long defunct] Midwest League Mailing List on November 7, 1998; it’s also on the MWLGuide website.)

    A downtown brewpub, the Blue Coyote, handed out discount tokens to the fans after each DP. Blue Coyote was a marvelous place, a block from the ballyard; I miss it. (I note that the head brewer doesn’t.) I still have a couple of the tokens filed away somewhere.

    In the event you’ve just stumbled onto this entry, here’s an explanation of what I’m up to.

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