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Your intrepid Syracuse correspondent is on vacation so I am preparing the month end review four days in advance, as Mike Myers would say: "Talk amongst yourselves. June was a good month for the Chiefs, discuss."

April and May were disappointing and frustrating for the Chiefs, they found creative ways to lose games and generally played much worse than anyone expected. June has been a big improvement and the team has moved over .500, having been at 22-29 at the end of May. Syracuse are still a long way behind Buffalo, the division leader, but getting over .500 is a good position going into the last two months of the season.

The turnaround in team fortunes can be linked to the hitters. The Chiefs pitchers were excellent all year, and were third in ERA at the end of May. As of this writing they have actually dropped back a spot in June to be 4th in ERA. Interestingly the Chiefs pitchers are number one in fewest walks allowed in the IL. So it is the better hitting, combined with the always good pitching, that has driven the better June record. The Chiefs finished May 13th in the IL in batting average and 12th in slugging. As of this writing they have moved up to 10th in BA and 9th in SLG, a big jump in one month. Let's see who has been hot.

The Hitters

The Chiefs have been helped in June by having no hitters who have struggled, all of the hitters have contributed at different times, but there are a couple of hitters worthy of special mention. The big difference from May is the arrival of Kevin Barker who was called up from AA to replace Eric Crozier. Barker has been amazing, a batting average of .400 after 24 games with a 1.207 OPS. I assume it cannot continue but it is a long streak and Barker has had big hits in key situations to help the Chiefs win games. Early in the month Jason Alfaro was hot too, moving his OPS from .644 to .676. Anton French has found his 2004 form, moving his OPS from .745 to .789. Many of you know that Gabe Gross has been swinging a hotter bat and, before he was injured, John Hattig hit .325 in 22 games. Having the team hitting better through the lineup has given a chance to different players to be a hero on different nights. Chad Mottola has continued his steady play and although John-Ford Griffin's numbers are down in the month he has had some big hits and still leads the team in RBI's.

The Pitchers

As mentioned the pitching continues to be excellent. Prospects Chad Gaudin, Shaun Marcum and Francsio Rosario have pitched well as has David Bush, and spot starters Josue Matos and Chris Baker. The bullpen has been helped by the return of Justin Miller and the improvement in Brandon League.

Shaun Marcum has pitched well but has not dominated, the AAA sample size is small so far, but the issue is whether he is going through a rough patch, or whether AAA hitters have caught up to him. July should help decide that. Brandon League made three June starts, with mixed results and then moved to the bullpen, where he has been excellent. League has had several successful appearances and Marty Pevey is now willing to put League into hold situations. League had been fighting to find a consistent delivery and it looks like he might have found it. Chad Gaudin has shown he can pitch well at AAA, he has pitched 8 and 9 innings, giving up a total of 3 runs, in his two starts since coming back from Toronto, now he needs to solve major league hitters. Going the other way is Jason Arnold whose ERA has gone from 2.57 at the end of May to well over 4 in June.


The Chiefs are now back in the territory where many of us expected them to be. Catching Buffalo might be too much to ask, but the Chiefs should push ahead and hopefully keep the Bisons within range.

Syracuse June Review | 11 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Ducey - Monday, July 04 2005 @ 02:14 PM EDT (#121466) #
I guess the downside of the developments in Syracuse is that after Gross and Hill left not a lot of "prospects" on the offensive side exist. Barker has spent time in the majors before but wears the AAAA tag. He might fill in for an injury but it is hard to get excited about his upside. I keep hoping Griffin will hit for average and power and force his way to Toronto. French could be a bench player as could a few others.

On the pitching side, everyone in the bullpen has been pitching so well that guys are being stuck in AA - Gronk, Vemilyea, Andrade - behind them. I think Miller has put up good enough numbers to have earned a spot in Toronto but I would not like him abused in the Downs long relief role. I look for him to be advanced in the event of a trade of, or injury to, Frasor, Walker, Chulk or Speier.
R Billie - Monday, July 04 2005 @ 02:26 PM EDT (#121470) #
I don't think he has to be abused in long relief. Just make him a 2 or three inning reliever who pitches every second or third day depending on the situation. Maybe four innings on a day the starter doesn't make it very far and give him two or three off days.

I think a 2 to 4 inning middle of the game role is perfect for Miller at this point. As long as you give him regular work. And there should be enough work...I think he can give you what Frasor and Chulk are providing and more.

I wish they could move him to the rotation but I'd be happy with him just staying healthy at this point.
Ducey - Monday, July 04 2005 @ 04:28 PM EDT (#121487) #
I just think the long relief role for the Jays right now is a tough one to put a pitcher with potential in. He is going to be behind Chulk, Frasor, Batista, SS, Speier and maybe even Walker. He will get irregular work, sometimes not pitch for a week or so, be trying hard to impress to move up in the bull pen and will more than likely not do well. Then the Jays will have to put him thru waivers to get him to AAA to get him work and confidence.

I like Downs, Whiteside in that role as they have more experience to draw upon on adjusting to the uncertain workload and you can bring them up and down at will because no one is going to grab them off waivers.
R Billie - Monday, July 04 2005 @ 05:40 PM EDT (#121498) #
I don't think it matters for long relief how much experience you have. There's also no rule that says you are only going to use your long reliever in blowout situations. The Jays used Pete Walker in a tight spot in the 6th and 7th innings on Saturday when his "role" doesn't really call for that.

I think if Miller comes up and they throw him out there and he performs they'll use him more often. He's thrown less than 35 innings in Syracuse but he seems to have his game together. With Miller you can tell, either he's going well or he's going awful. When he's going well you have to try to use him.
John Northey - Tuesday, July 05 2005 @ 07:53 AM EDT (#121554) #
The one problem with calling up Miller is you would have to keep him up or risk him being taken by someone else as he is out of options iirc. I suspect the Jays won't call him up until August, at which point if he has problems they can just bury him in the pen until September and expanded roster time.

I must say I have been impressed by Gibbons and how he does keep guys in the game, especially hitters. Gross seemed to be forgotten but he was benched for no more than 1 game before getting back in with one exception (2 games). Yes, it is normally as a defensive replacement but he does get back in.

Downs has become the 'end of the bench' guy in June, 4 off, pitch, 7 off, pitch, 5 off, pitch, 3 off, pitch, 3 off, pitch, now on a 3 off again. He still only once had more rest than a starter though. Given he is the 12th man on what is now an 11 man staff that isn't too bad. Still, a role you want a AAAA pitcher or old vet near the end in. Miller is working towards AAAA status but not quite yet.
scotnic - Tuesday, July 05 2005 @ 08:49 AM EDT (#121556) #
Just a little side note but did anyone else notice that while the jays are below average at best at SS, 3 former jay SS prospects are all-stars?????? Pity
Craig B - Tuesday, July 05 2005 @ 12:15 PM EDT (#121569) #
Below average at best? That's not right. Adams' bat has been above the major league average for shortstops this season so far, and I would venture to say that he's at least average defensively as well (better-than-average range, an above-average number of errors, and a touch below average on the double play).

Ask Dodger fans how much fun it was watching the punchless Izturis in 2002 and 2003. As for Lopez, he's turned it around this season but it did look for all the world like he was headed right out of baseball in 2003. Hindsight is 20/20, as they say.
Paul D - Tuesday, July 05 2005 @ 01:16 PM EDT (#121584) #
Craig, where do you find the numbers for shortshops to show that Adams is above average? (Not that I don't believe you, but I'm curiuos and would like to see the numbers).

And Izturis? I think he's about to become one of the most overpaid players in the Majors, either through arbritration, or via a trade to a team that signs him to a long term contract.
Jonny German - Tuesday, July 05 2005 @ 01:26 PM EDT (#121588) #
I'm not Craig, but for league average stats I go to Tons of info under "AL Profile" in the stats pop-up. The average AL shortstop is hitting .270 / .323 / .391 this year, while Adams is at .250 / .300 / .435 in 200 AB.

Izturis signed a 3-year $9.9M extension with the Dodgers in February, with an option for 2008 at $5.85M.
Mike Green - Tuesday, July 05 2005 @ 01:26 PM EDT (#121589) #
ESPN's zone ratings show Adams as last among AL shortstops. Win Shares has Adams as below average defensively as well. Not that these numbers are particularly reliable indicators.
Craig B - Tuesday, July 05 2005 @ 01:31 PM EDT (#121590) #
Baseball Prospectus has Adams' PMLVR at +0.044, so he is slightly above the ML average for his position. I know you don't need quite so advanced a metric, but it's pretty accurate.
Syracuse June Review | 11 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.