Saturday, August 01, 2015

N.Y. Mets: Friday Night Recap - Wonderful Wilmer Sends Crowd Home Happy



Here's my
Friday Night Recap
for 



Wilmer Flores Strikes Back!
The poor kid has been through a lot.
Sandy Alderson's folly with regards to addressing shortstop ever since the Mets let Jose Reyes walk away created the piss-poor situation Wilmer Flores was thrust into.  Then the other night happened.  His emotions were probably a culmination of the season long crap he's endured.

7/31/2015
vs. Washington Nationals




Mike
senior staff writer/Rising Apple

Friday, July 31, 2015

N.Y. Mets: Binge Podcasting

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET




NEW YORK METS: !Que bruto!

This has been one of the more surreal weeks in recent Mets history.

The Mets have relied on strong, effective, consistent pitching to weave themselves into playoff contention, along with gaining a measure of league wide respect and recognition as such.

Matters away from the pitching mound, however, continue fraying the edges of this nicely woven, albeit incomplete tapestry.

I can't help but chime in on Jenrry Mejia, whom, because of all the late breaking developments emanating out of Flushing, has escaped the general public's wrath.

.....handed a 2nd suspension a mere 20 days after returning from his initial suspension for testing positive for steroids.  He must now sit out 162 games as of Tuesday.

How ponderous is it, that he got busted taking old school(!) steroids?  That's like still using dial up internet.  Steroids...Really?  Like, the basic old fashioned Canseco type?  Loosy-goosy A-Rod stuff?

That's like the U-Bet of doping!

Who even knows what U-Bet is anymore?  Hint: think Boscoe, or just forget it.



Now for the other stuff:



Here's out most recent podcasts at 


Here's the deal:

We left off Episode #110 last Thursday putting ownership's feet to the fire.
Then, on the heels of Sandy Alderson's trade to acquire Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson, 
Sam called me around midnight seeing if I wanted to do a podcast at 1:00am.  
I couldn't resist, and so on the air we went.

7/28/2015
Rising Apple Report, Episode #110 1/2: An Impromptu Metsian Exhale



7/29/2015
We held a follow-up podcast on Wednesday night, and what a show it was.

  Rising Apple Report - Episode #111: 3 Days left For Another Mets Move

My guest was an impressive 13-year old Mets fan extraordinaire from Los Angeles, and, another fan of the show calling from the southwest mountains of Virginia, to whom I extended an invitation after receiving his emailing regarding our podcast.  We also took several live callers which went well.

Topics:

The Mets season up until game #100, Noah Syndergaard's recent dominant performance.
Sandy Alderson's trade acquisitions, remaining trade possibilities.
The ponderous Tulowitzki/Reyes trade.
How about that Ruben Tejada?  Jenrry Mejia is an idiot!
Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, and Jackie Robinson.
1969, 2010, and players who've worn #10 in Mets history,
and loads of other stuff.


7/30/2015
With a Thursday day game, why not have another...


This time Rich hosted, and we were joined by Rising Apple editor Danny, and The Coop!

Topics:

The 2012 season, and players who've worn #12 in Mets history.
John Stearns beat up a pitcher in 1980.

One small step forward for Mets fans; One giant leap backwards for Mets kind!
The botched Carlos Gomez for Zack Wheeler/Wilmer Flores trade, 
and the whole fiasco that transpired at Citi Field because of it.
Did Terry Collins throw Sandy Alderson under the bus?  Social media crap.

The Brooklyn Cyclones seize first place.





Mike
senior staff writer/Rising Apple

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Brooklyn Cyclones Retake First Place of McNamara Division

From the desk of:  THE SURF AVENUE SLUGGERS




McNamara Division:
1) Brooklyn           20-17
2) Aberdeen          19-18
3) Hudson Valley  19-18
4) Staten Island    19-18

BROOKLYN CYCLONES: Look Who's Number One..., Again!

On Tuesday, the Coney Island Nine and Staten Island Yankees entered that night's action tied for 1st place, with the Aberdeen Ironbirds and Hudson Valley Renegades a mere game behind in the McNamara Division standings.

By Wednesday, all four McNamara teams were tied for 1st place with identical 19-17 records.

The square dance now seems to be breaking up - maybe.

Staten Island lost their second straight to the Batavia Muckdogs, Aberdeen lost to the Auburn Doubledays, while Brooklyn defeated the Hudson Valley Renegades to recapture sole possession of the 1st place.

Moreover, with Wednesday's 6-3 victory over the Renegades, the Cyclones became the fourth team in the circuit, and first team in their division to achieve 20 victories this season.

The McNamara remains the only division with all its members still playing .500 baseball or better.  

The Pinckney Division Williamsport Crosscutters, however, lead the New York Penn League with a 25-12 record.

7/29 - Renegades @ CYCLONES: Game 2

Brooklyn's Kevin Canelon made Wednesday's start at Coney Island Grounds, and was opposed by Hudson Valley's Roel Ramirez.

The Cyclones jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the first.  Tucker Tharp and Vinny Siena led-off with back-to-back singles, then scored on Michael Bernal's triple to center field.  Bernal soon scored the third Cyclones' run on David Thompson's ground out to second.

Tucker Tharp led-off the bottom of the 5th with a home run to left, giving the Cyclones a 4-0 lead.

Hudson Valley ruined the shutout in the 6th, but Brooklyn stormed right back with a pair of runs in the 8th.  After DH Brandon Brosher received a 1-out walk, Jeff Diehl connected on a home run to left.

The Renegades scored 2 runs in the top of the 9th, charged to reliever Ruben Reyes to make it a 6-3 final score.

  • Starter Kevin Canelon tossed 6 innings, allowed just one earned run on 4 hits, walked one and fanned 7 batters to earn his third victory of the season.  He is now 3-2 with a 3.82 ERA over 33 innings pitched.

Closer Alex Palsha recorded his league leading 8th save of the season.  He has yet to allow a run over 13 appearances and 15.2 innings pitched.  To date, he's allowed 7 hits, issued just 4 walks, and fanned 18 batters.

Now down to .220, the Cyclones team average keeps spiraling precipitously downwards towards the infamous Mendoza Line.  On a team level, I never thought that possible.  Whether they achieve that dubious distinction remains to be seen.

On this night, they managed 9 hits, while usually averaging 7.16 hits per game.  Their 6 runs were also somewhat of an outburst when compared to their 3.75 runs per game average over 37 games played.

Despite Wednesday's output, Brooklyn's team batting average is presently .220, and spiraling precipitously downwards towards the infamous Mendoza Line.  On a team level, I never thought that possible.  Whether they achieve that dubious distinction remains to be seen.

On the bright side, a pair of home runs gave the Cyclones 18 for the season, which ranks them 4th in the league.

Brooklyn, would then be well served by getting just a few more people on base.  They presently sport a league low .297 OBP, making them the only team below the .300 mark.  The Cyclones have drawn the 4th least walks, have the league's least amount of hits, and as you might guess, they trail the league in total bases.

The Renegades and Cyclones will play the rubber game of their series Thursday evening at Dutchess Stadium.



Mike

Monday, July 27, 2015

L.I. Ducks: The Monday Swim - 7/27/2015

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE




On Troubled Pond...

Long Island Ducks: Flock has yet to recover from disastrous trip to Sugar Land.

For the beaten and battered Ducks, there's perhaps been no more timely, and needed break in the   schedule than today's.

The Ducks have gone 7-10 since play resumed after the Atlantic League All-Star break, and are fresh off getting swept by the Bluefish in Bridgeport.

Looking back, their problems seemingly started during their June trip to Sugar Land, where the Skeeters short circuited Long Island's first half pennant bid by taking 5 of 6 games, dropping the Ducks hopelessly behind the eventual first half champ Somerset Patriots.

Professional baseball circuits from within, and outside America's borders then began pecking away at GM Michael Pfaff's roster.  The departures of Lew Ford, Reegie Corona, Mickey Jannis, and Andrew Barbosa are just a few that Long Island has endured this month.

The present standings are a clear reflection of their plight.  Long Island is 3 games below ,500, and they trail the 1st place Bridgeport Bluefish by 6 games in the Liberty Division standings.

All that said, there's still good news to report.

The Ducks began the second half leading the Wild Card standings by 10 games over the Sugar Land Skeeters, whom also have gotten off to a 7-10 second half start, and lost their last 4 in a row.  Long Island's 10 game lead, then, has remained in tact.

  • Don't look now, but Jon Griffin is tied for the league lead in home runs, and is within 4 RBI of taking over the league lead from the departed Lew Ford.  With Ford out of the circuit, Griffin is the lone Atlantic League player with 50+ RBI.

The Ducks open a 7-game home stand on Tuesday against the Somerset Patriots and the Bridgeport Bluefish.



Mike

BK Cyclones: McNamara Division Proving Difficult to Conquer

From the desk of:  THE CONEY ISLAND NINE




McNamara Division:
1) Brooklyn          19-16  .543
2) Staten Island    19-16  .543
3) Aberdeen          18-17  .514
4) Hudson Valley  18-17  .514

BROOKLYN CYCLONES: Division race following same twisting, and looping track as neighboring Thunderbolt roller coaster.

The tourniquet constricting the McNamara Division continues to tighten.  All four teams are playing above .500, while just one game separates the last place club from first.

The light hitting Brooklyn Cyclones remain locked in a tie for 1st place with Staten Island, largely due to the Yankees' current 3-game losing streak.  Meanwhile, both the Aberdeen Ironbirds and Hudson Valley Renegades are tied, just a game behind.

The Cyclones now have 35 games in the books, as the NYPL arrives at their season's mid-point this week.  At this rate of play, the 2015 Wild Card winner could very well come out of the McNamara Division.

That remains to be seen, but the Cyclones had better improve at the plate.  It's clear they're operating with little room for error.  Despite their present standing, the Surf Avenue Sluggers have failed to live up that moniker this season.

They are last in the 14-team circuit in hits, and a .220 batting average, and rank 13th in runs scored, runs batted in, OBP, and slugging.

The Yankees haven't fared much better.  They're 5th worst in the league with a .244 team average.   For the moment, however, parity rules the day.  The Aberdeen Ironbirds are last in runs scored, OBP, slugging, and 13th in hits and home runs, yet, as noted, reside just a game out of first place with a .500 record to boot.

Brooklyn's Vinny Siena leads the McNamara Division with a .313 batting average.  Power wise, Michael Bernal, Brandon Brosher, and Jeff Diehl all rank in the league's top ten with 3 home runs apiece.

Staten Island's Jhalan Jackson is 2nd in the league with a .511 slugging average, while Brooklyn's Michael Bernal is 5th with a .465 mark.

Jhalan also leads the division with 4 home runs, while team mate Drew Bridges ranks in the league's top-10 with 3 homers as well.  Both Jhalan Jackson and team mate Brad Valera additionally rate in the league's top-10 with 18 RBI apiece.

This season, the Cyclones are getting by on pitching.  They lead the league with a 2.74 ERA.  The Yankees trail in 4th place with a 3.25 mark.  The Hudson Valley Renegades are making their mark in 3rd place with a 3.14 ERA.

Brooklyn pitchers have additionally surrendered the least number of hits, home runs, posted the best WHiP, and have fanned the second most batters in the league, while Renegades and Yankees pitchers have issued the least walks.

In fact, 4 of the top 6 teams in WHiP come from the McNamara Division.  In other words, the combined mound work of each club has created a too-tough-to-gauge divisional race with roughly 40 games left in the regular season.

The Cyclones fared poorly during their most recent road trip, getting clawed by the newly minted West Virginia Black Bears, then playing pedestrian baseball against Mahoning Valley.

Brooklyn is now 4-6 in their last 10 games, as is Staten Island.

TUESDAY
BROOKLYN CYCLONES
vs.
Hudson Valley Renegades
FROM
Dutchess Stadium
FISHKILL, N.Y.

After Monday's NYPL scheduled day off, the Cyclones will open a home-and-home series in Hudson Valley against the Renegades with clear first place implications.  The Yankees will host an out of division series against the Batavia Muckdogs.

The rivalry between Brooklyn and the Renegades has intensified over the last three years.

In 2012, the Renegades edged out the Cyclones for the division flag.  Brooklyn gained a Wild Card berth, however, only to get eliminated by Hudson Valley in the first round of the post-season.  Then last season, Hudson Valley outpaced the Cyclones by 4 games en route to another division flag.

Hudson Valley recently enjoyed a brief taste of first place as well.  They're the league's 5th highest slugging team, and lead the league in stolen bases.  On the mound, the Renegades are 3rd in the league with a 3.14 ERA.  They've additionally issued the least walks and are 5th in the circuit in team WHiP.



Mike

Thursday, July 23, 2015

N.Y. Mets: Podcast Episode #110 - Is This The Stumble Before The Fall?



Here's our latest podcast at 


We had a packed house, and still managed to keep order.

I hosted, and was joined by fellow Rising Apple writers Justin, Ryan, and Sam.
Our featured guests were Greg Prince from FaithAndFearInFlushing.com and
Gary Mack from MetsMusings.com.


Episode #110 - The Rising Apple Report: Is This The Stumble Before The Fall?


Last Night's Stuff:

Washington Nationals series review,
Los Angeles Dodgers series preview > biggest games at Citi Field, ever?

Post Tommy John surgery trials and tribulations: Matt Harvey and Bobby Parnell, how Jacob DeGrom and Steven Matz recovered, and what awaits Zack Wheeler.

Lucas Duda, Michael Cuddyer, Michael Conforto, Gavin Cecchini

The offense, the trade deadline, Sandy Alderson,
and of course, we put ownership's feet to the fire again.

The years 1979, 1993, 2010, and players who've worn #10 in Mets history.

The Brooklyn Cyclones, and much more.




Mike
senior staff writer/Rising Apple

Friday, July 17, 2015

Staten Island Yanks tie Brooklyn Cyclones for first place

From the desk of:  THE CONEY ISLAND NINE



Battle of the Boroughs - II



Back over the bridge...

Yanks lead series 2-0
I - SIY 3; BKN 2
II - SIY 1; BKN 0
III - TONIGHT

BROOKLYN CYCLONES: Staten Island Yanks to Host Friday Night's Battle for First Place.

Wednesday's series opener in Staten Island ended rather ponderously for the Cyclones.

With the game tied at two, and a runner on third in the bottom of the 10th inning, Cyclones reliever Carlos Valdez intended an intentional walk to Yanks first baseman Jake Hernandez.  Instead, Valdez and catcher Brandon Brosher combined to balk home the game winning run.

That's right - a balk off victory for the Staten Island Yankees, whom reduced Brooklyn's McNamara Division first place lead to just one game.

Then came Thursday's sold out game at MCU Park in Coney Island.  Led by starter Kolton Mahoney, rival Staten Island whitewashed the Cyclones, and thus gained a 2-0 lead in the series.  More importantly, the Yankees are now tied with Brooklyn for the McNamara Division lead.

Much to the dismay of the crowd, the Surf Avenue Sluggers fell silent once again.  They managed 6 hits and just one walk against three Yankees pitchers, en route to a 1-0 defeat.  This was the second time in the last three games the Cyclones have been shut out, and falls right in line with their statistically low offensive league rankings.

Thing is, starter Matt Blackham pitched a gem for Brooklyn, but nonetheless suffered his first loss of the season.  He allowed just one earned run on 5 hits, walked one, and fanned 10 batters over 6 innings pitched.

The series now shifts back to Staten Island for a Friday night battle for first place.



Mike

N.Y. Mets: Podcast #109 - Round Table at the Midpoint



Here's our latest episode of 
the RisingApple.com podcast


Rich hosted, with me, Sam, and 
Gary Mack from MetsMusings.com on the panel.

No Stone Left Unturned:
First half review, second half hopes. 
All hail the pitching!
What needs to be done, and who needs to do it.
Terry Collins : Papa Smurf :: Sandy Alderson : Wilpon's money.
What offense?  What about Wright?  Sandy said what?  Japan?
Frank Francisco to Michael Cuddyer bashing.
Vietnam and Duda's gold plated glove.
The 'ol trade deadline let's wait and see routine, 
Parity, legitimacy, transparency, and Ryan Church?
1973 vs. 2015 Mets comparison, the 2009 season, who wore #9,
and much more stuff.

Enjoy, and thank you.

Link to Blog Talk Radio:
Episode #109 - the Rising Apple Report: Roundtable at the Midpoint


I got tomorrow's recap too.  Check back...
Thor vs. St. Louis Cardinals




Mike
senior staff writer/Rising Apple

L.I. Ducks: Open Season on Flock Continues

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE


Long Island Ducks: Brownell was brilliant; Barnstormers gain split; Flock getting fleeced!

Foreign leagues and Major League Baseball continue enjoying open season on Ducks players.

The pennant race in the National League East between the New York Mets and Washington Nationals in particular is starting to take a toll on the Long Island Ducks as well.

Kinda...

The Mets purchased the contract of starter Mickey Jannis on the 1st of the month.  On July 16th, Reegie Corona was sold to the Washington Nationals organization.  He will report to AA-Harrisburg, and follows Lew Ford's recent departure to Mexico.

That means the Atlantic League's top two hitters are now out of the circuit.

Reegie Corona was an offensive force at second base.  He was batting .331 with 3 home runs and 31 RBI.  As such, he was the league's 2nd leading hitter, behind only Lew Ford.  Reegie also ranked 3rd in OBP and 5th in slugging, and was additionally 5th in hits and ranked 2nd in runs scored.

Back on July 9th, pitcher Andrew Barbosa was also sold to the Atlanta Braves organization.

*           *           *           *

In Wednesday's 5-0 win over the Lancaster Barnstormers, starter John Brownell tossed the Ducks' first complete game victory of the season.  Brownell faced 31 batters, and threw 128 pitches with 86 (67%) going for strikes during his whitewashing of the Barnstormers.  He allowed a mere 4 hits, walked a pair, and fanned 5 batters.  John now leads the Atlantic League with 72 strikeouts.  He additionally improved his season record to 7-2, and lowered his ERA from 3.22 to a 2.92 mark.

The Barnstormers gained a 4-game series split, however, with an 8-1 drubbing of the Ducks on Thursday.   Making his third start since returning from Taiwan, Bobby Blevins pitched 6 hit or miss innings, allowing 7 runs (6 earned) on 10 hits, no walks, with 7 strikeouts.  Recently signed right fielder Steve McQuail hit his first home run in only his second game with the Ducks.

Up next, the Ducks will resume hostilities against the Somerset Patriots in a weekend series at Bethpage Ballpark.



Mike

Thursday, July 16, 2015

N.Y. Mets: For Better or Worse, We'll Gain Clarity by the Deadline

From the desk of:  HEAD-BUTTING MR. MET




...and no, Clarity can not play shortstop or hit for power.

NEW YORK METS: I'm taking a wait and see approach, to see if Sandy Alderson takes a wait and see approach regarding the trade deadline.

For the record, I still believe the New York Mets are a rebuilding ball club.

Entering the season, I was not among those who believed they were serious playoff contenders - not yet.  I merely wanted the Mets to finish the season above .500 for a change.

That said, if you had asked me in March if I would have been happy in 2nd place with a 47-42 record, just 2 games behind the Nationals in the division race, I would have answered yes without hesitation.

The Nationals are failing to seize the moment, or the N.L. East if you will.  Instead, they have provided the denizens of Flushing with hope - hope that the Braves and Marlins will continue playing inconsistent baseball, that the Phillies remain out of sight and out of mind, and that the Mets can overcome their offensive malaise enough so as to eventually overtake Washington.

Then there's the matter of the Chicago Cubs.  The Mets are done with them for the regular season, but the damage has already been done.  In seven games against Chicago this season, the Mets lost seven times.  At present, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cubs hold both Wild Cards.  The Mets follow, one game out.  They will also have to contend with the defending champion San Francisco Giants.

The Mets have 73 games remaining, but just two weeks left before the non-waiver trade deadline.  If they are to optimize their final 60 games of the season, and actually play meaningful games in September, then the front office needs to step up and make enhancements to the roster.

Without having to badger ownership for money, or having to part with one of several top line pitchers, Sandy Alderson can still address the bench, the Mets lack of team speed, shortstop, the bullpen, or their most glaring need, acquiring a productive bat.  With a modest improvement, the Mets can indeed become viable contenders come September, and perhaps even qualify for October.

The balance of the 2015 regular season, then, appears in upper management's hands.

And so, I'm taking a cue from the general manager, and I'm going to wait and see if the general manager himself outwardly adopts a wait and see attitude with regards to searching for transactions, like he has in every trading period prior to this present one.

It's time to stop the annual chain of excuses as to why nothing was done.

Just saying....

By July 31st, we will at least have clarity - clarity into what type of team the Wilpons want to field, clarity into the actual autonomy Sandy Alderson really has, and clarity into the tight-lipped financial condition in which the Wilpons apparently still exist.



Mike

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

L.I. Ducks: Reliever Bruce Kern Working Overtime

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE


Ducks @ Barnstormers tied 1-1
I - LAN 5; LID 4
II - LID 5; LAN 0
III - Wednesday
IV - Thursday

Long Island Ducks: Reliever Bruce Kern gives his bullpen mates the night off.

The Ducks evened their series in Lancaster, as newcomer Darin Downs and reliever Bruce Kern combined on a 2-hit whitewashing of the Barnstormers.

Downs, who started just 1/3 of his 296 career minor league starts, faced 11 batters over 3 scoreless innings in his Ducks debut.  He threw 51 pitches with 29 (57%) going for strikes.  He allowed just one hit, walked a pair, and fanned 3 batters before exiting on the winning side of a 1-0 game.

Reliever Bruce Kern then delivered 6 brilliant innings for the victory.  He faced 19 batters, and threw 68 pitches with 49 (72%) going for strikes.  He allowed just one hit, issued one walk, and fanned 3 batters.


  • This was Kern's 27th appearance of the season, and his second 6-inning performance in his last 3 games.  He gained a victory on July 5th with 6 innings, and 8 strikeouts.  He also put in a 5 inning effort back on June 8th.  Kern is now 5-1 this season with a 2.67 ERA, down from a 3.11 mark.  He has 40 strikeouts with an 0.960 WHiP in 43.2 innings pitched, while hitters are batting a mere .194 against Kern.
  • Bruce Kern, 27, is a Stony Brook, L.I. native, whom attended St. John's University.  He came to the Ducks after 5 seasons in the Colorado Rockies lower system.


Randy Ruiz' RBI single in the 1st inning was all the Ducks needed.

A lead-off single by Jon Griffin, and doubles by Mike Blanke and Dan Lyons gave Long Island a 3-0 lead in the 7th.  Bryan Sabatella's base hit in the 9th then plated a pair of unearned runs to give the Ducks their 5-0 margin of victory.

Long Island improved to 49-26 overall, and trail Bridgeport by 0.5 games in the second half standings.  They remain 10.5 games ahead of the Sugar Land Skeeters for the Wild Card.



Mike

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

BK Cyclones vs. S.I. Yankees: Battle of the Boroughs - II

From the desk of:  THE SURF AVENUE SLUGGERS


BATTLE of the BOROUGHS - II



Cyclones lead season series 2-1
I - BKN 3; SIY 2
II - SIY 8; BKN 3
III - BKN 6; SIY 4

WEDNESDAY
Brooklyn Cyclones
vs.
Staten Island Yankees
FROM
Rotten Island

BROOKLYN CYCLONES: Richmond Bombers Host Series Opener 2 games back of 1st place Bums.

Baby Bums taking cue from parent club; 
contending with strong pitching, but with little hitting to speak of.

All four McNamara Division teams are playing above .500 baseball, led by the Brooklyn Cyclones.   The Coney Island Nine own a 2-game edge over the Staten Island Yankees, and a 3-game lead over the the Aberdeen Ironbirds and Hudson Valley Renegades, respectively.

The Cyclones (15-8) are in 1st place today based largely on the strength of their pitching.  Their 1.09 WHiP leads the league and their 2.47 ERA ranks second.  They are second in the league in strikeouts, allowed the second least hits and runs, and lead the circuit with 4 shutouts.

  • After five starts and 31.1 innings pitched, Tyler Badamo is 1-2 with a 2.87 ERA, and a 0.93 WHiP.   He is fourth in the circuit with 26 strikeouts.  Team mate Matt Blackham leads the league with 30 strikeouts.  He is 2-0 with a 3.09 ERA, and a 0.99 WHiP.  Closer Alex Palsha has yet to surrender a run over 11.1 innings pitched, and leads the league with 5 saves.

The 2nd place Staten Island Yankees (13-10) rank fourth with a 3.41 ERA, a 1.25 WHiP; they're fourth in strikeouts, and have allowed the fourth least hits, and the sixth least runs.

  • With a 3-1 record, right-hander Luis Cedeno is tied for the league lead (with team mate Derek Callahan) in victories, and owns a 1.37 ERA, and 0.99 WHiP over 26.1 innings pitched, with 18 strikeouts.

Staten Island owns a distinct edge at the plate.  They are second in the league in runs scored and fourth in hits.  They lead the circuit in OBP, and rank fifth in slugging and team average, and sixth in home runs.

  • Outfielder Griffin Gordon leads the team with 6 doubles and a .342 average.  Jhalan Jackson leads the team with 4 home runs and 14 RBI.

The Cyclones on the other hand, are last in the New York Penn League in hits, team average, and OBP, rank twelfth in slugging, eleventh in runs scored, struck out the fourth most times and are tied for fourth in home runs.

  • Vinny Siena is second in the league in hits, second with a .361 batting average, and sixth in OBP.  He is presently the Cyclones' lone .300 hitter.  Right fielder Michael Bernal leads the circuit in runs scored and is fifth in slugging.  He leads the team with 5 doubles, 3 home runs and 10 RBI.

The Cyclones will open the series in Richmond County, then host the Baby Bombers on Thursday.   The series will conclude on Friday back in Staten Island.



Mike

L.I. Ducks: Flock Loses Another Huge Feather

From the deck of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE



Getting Plucked

Long Island Ducks: Shuffling off to....Mexico?

Aye caramba!

Lew Ford is gone, left, adios.  He's off to go play south of the border - sold to Tijuana of the Mexican League.

General manager Michael Pfaff, however, expressed hope, confidence even, that Ford can return to the Ducks (for as long as Donald Trump does not become President, and...) once the Mexican summer league concludes their season in August.

  • The better known Mexican Pacific League is part of the Caribbean Winter League circuit.

The Ducks will be hard pressed to replace what was the Atlantic League's leading MVP candidate. Lew Ford topped the Atlantic League with a .363 average and 58 RBI.

Ford's departure is somewhat reminiscent of starting ace pitcher Mike Parisi's departure to Japan a few years back, as both left the country.

This also follows a major blow suffered by the starting rotation when their top pitcher, Mickey Jannis, whom led the league in ERA and strikeouts, had his contract sold to the New York Mets.

The mid-season acquisition J.C Romero and the return of Bobby Blevins may soften the blow of losing Jannis, if only somewhat.

That said, GM Michael Pfaff went after more pitching.

Southpaw pitcher Darin Downs, 30, will make his Ducks debut on Saturday against Lancaster.  He has three years of MLB experience, spending 2012-2013 with Detroit, and last season with Houston.   In 92 major league games and 90.2 innings pitched, all in relief, he owns a  4.76 ERA with an 8.1 K/9 average.   Otherwise, Darin is a 13-year minor league veteran of affiliated baseball.  In 296 appearances (90 starts) he owns a 4.05 ERA over 378 innings pitched, with a career 8.5 K/9 average.

The Ducks also signed lefty pitcher Donnie Veal, whom was released by the Atlanta Braves.  In 105 MLB appearances, all in relief, he owns a 5.48 ERA over 69 innings pitched, with 73 strikeouts.

The Ducks also took a flyer on 1B, OF, DH, Steve McQuail, whom played in the Frontier League, and has affiliated experience with the Arizona D-Backs.  During 2012-2013 while in the Frontier League, he averaged 304 at-bats, 20 home runs and 57 RBI.

The Wild Times:

The departures of Mickey Jannis and Lew Ford mean the Ducks' 2nd half just got a little more Wild.

Despite the Ducks loss to the Lancaster Barnstormers Monday night, Long Island gained a 1/2 game over the Sugar Land Skeeters.  They now lead the Wild Card race by 10.5 games.  Defending Atlantic League champ, Lancaster, is a distant third, 17.5 games out of the Wild Card.




Mike

Sunday, July 12, 2015

BK Nets: Deron Williams bids farewell to Flatbush

From the desk of:  THE HOOPS OF FLATBUSH


THE DUD of FLATBUSH
w/Utah - 17.3 ppg; 9.1 assists; .466 FG%
w/NJ,BK - 16.6 ppg; 7.5 assists; .418 FG%
Last 2 seasons - 13.6 ppg; 6.3 assists

BROOKLYN NETS: Franchise Player Expectations Go Unmet.

Giddy up...!

Life along Flatbush Avenue proved too much, and so goodbye Brooklyn...

Foiled by his own physical limitations, Deron Williams failed to meet or exceed a Borough's expectations.  Moreover, when made to play (or not play) under coach Lionel Hollins, Williams perhaps became demoralized as well.

It's been a tough 4 1/2 years for Deron Williams, playing in a tough town, for a tough coach.  And so, the Nets embattled guidon bearer during their inaugural march on Kings County resigned his post, having agreed with the team on a buy-out.

Deron Williams is now headed back home to Texas, where he'll continue his playing career with the Dallas Mavericks, in front of a friendlier fan base, and a kinder, more gentler media.

He's lucky the old Brooklyn Eagle wasn't still in circulation.  They'd have ripped him with an intensely local ferocity that Deron was lucky to escape, particularly here in New York.  I hope Williams realizes, that despite what he may feel, he got off light for the very little he provided.

Just ask Melo....

The Nets moved like thieves in the night, acquiring Deron Williams in February 2011 from the Utah Jazz.  In doing so, they also stole the next day's headlines away from the Knicks and their ballyhooed acquisition of Carmelo Anthony.  The consensus, back then, was the Nets acquired the better player, a franchise player, an all-star point guard in his prime.

The only question remaining was if the soon to be free agent would stay?

The answer remained in doubt right up until the second Williams signed a 5-year, $99 million dollar contract - not just to stay a Net, but more importantly to lead the team's long planned move from New Jersey to Brooklyn.

A new deal, a new life in the city, a new team brand, and a new arena to fill, all meant Deron Williams faced a monumental challenge.  He knew that, and excepted the terms (and the money).  He indeed came to Brooklyn with a certain cache, and was indeed the right move in so far as enticing a new fan base.  Unfortunately, he otherwise leaves with his primary responsibilities largely unfulfilled.

In the end, Coach Hollins summed it up best (paraphrasing) - Deron Williams is not a franchise player, an elite point guard, or even one of the NBA's top stars...., anymore, and certainly not while he was here.

In fact, Lionel Hollins stepped all over Billy King's franchise player-elect this past season like Godzilla going through Tokyo.  Coach was ruthless at times, but always spoke the truth.

Recurring ankle injuries not only diminished Deron's level of play, but seemingly polluted his disposition as well.  Whether on or off the court, injured or healthy, the man outwardly spent an inordinate amount of time sulking and brooding perhaps over his existence with the Nets, or playing in Brooklyn, or both.

To his credit, Deron was always a man about things.  He remained accountable, and never ducked the media.

However, you have to wear Brooklyn like a red badge of courage!

There's the rub...



Mike

Saturday, July 11, 2015

BK Cyclones: Boardwalk Bums Throw Away Chance at Sweep

From the desk of:  THE CONEY ISLAND NINE




14-6
First Place
McNamara Division

Cyclones win series 2-1
I - BKN 5; HVR 3
II - BKN 1; HVR 0
III - HVR 6; BKN 5

BROOKLYN CYCLONES: Coney Islanders err in bid to sweep Hudson Valley Renegades.

The Brooklyn Cyclones overcame a 5-2 deficit with 3 runs in the top of the 7th inning, forcing extra innings in Friday's series finale against the Hudson Valley Renegades.

They might even have come within a David Thompson throw of completing a 3-game sweep.

Matt Blackham started for Brooklyn, and got touched up for all 5 Hudson Valley runs.  All runs were earned, on 4 hits and 4 walks, and he fanned 5 batters upon departing after 4.2 innings of work.

Four Brooklyn relievers then combined on 6.1 scoreless innings through the 11th, allowing 7 hits and striking out 9 batters.

After the Renegades jumped out to a 1st inning 1-0 lead, Brooklyn tied it in the top of the 2nd on left fielder Oswald Caraballo's sac fly scoring third baseman David Thompson.

The Cyclones went ahead 2-1 in the 3rd.  Catcher Jose Garcia led-off with a double, and later scored on a wild pitch.

The 'Gades tied it in the bottom of the 3rd, and scored 3 runs in the 5th for a 5-2 lead.

DH Zach Mathieu then homered in the top of the 7th, and a 2-RBI single by center fielder Tucker Tharp tied the game at five.

That's the way things stayed till the 12th.

With reliever Nicco Blank pitching for Brooklyn, a throwing error by David Thompson on a sacrifice attempt allowed the winning run to score from second base.

Blank suffered his second loss of the season.

Thursday: Game Two
  • Final: Renegades 0; CYCLONES 1
Pitchers Blake Taylor, Andrew Church, and Carlos Valdez combined on 7 scoreless innings, in the Cyclones 1-0 abbreviated game victory over the Hudson Valley Renegades.  They combined to allow just 3 hits and one walk, and fanned 9 batters.

Tucker Tharp drove in the lone run of the game with a double in the 3rd.

Wednesday: Game One
  • Final: Cyclones 5; RENEGADES 3
Starter Gaby Almonte improved his record to 2-1, as the Cyclones bested the Renegades by a 5-3 margin.

Third baseman David Thompson went 4 for 5, and Michael Bernal went 3 for 5, accounting for 7 of the Cyclones 10 hits.

Closer Alex Palsha earned his 4th save of the season.

3B- David Thompson

Third baseman David Thompson, 21, was selected in the 4th round (119th overall) of the recent amateur draft.  He reported to Brooklyn after helping the University of Miami reach the College World Series.  Thompson led the nation (Division-I) in RBI and tied for the lead in home runs this season as a junior.  He was a 2015 All-America First Team, and 2015 All-ACC First Team.

  • 2015 season at University of Miami: 67 games, 253 at-bats, 83 hits, .328 batting average, 18 doubles, 19 home runs (3 grand slams), .640 slugging average, 90 RBI, 20-game hitting streak.


Next up, the Cyclones will host a series against the Aberdeen Ironbirds.



Mike

L.I. Ducks: Flock Has a Wild Card Up Their Sleeve

From the desk of:  THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE




Flock opens 2nd half with 2-0 defeat against Somerset Patriots.

Long Island Ducks: The Flock Should Expect Wild Times in   the Season's Second Half.


The Ducks and Patriots resumed hostilities Friday with the opening of the league's second half.

On this night, the league's best pitching stifled the league's best hitting.

Starter John Brownell was out-dueled in Somerset by Patriots starter Matt Zielinski.  Both hurlers were done after 6 innings.  Brownell allowed 2 earned runs on 6 hits, 2 walks, and fanned 3 batters.   Zielinski, however, kept Long Island scoreless, allowing 6 hits and one walk, with 7 strikeouts, en route to a 2-0 Patriots whitewashing of the Ducks.

Former Ducks closer Jon Hunton closed out the 9th for Somerset, registering his 19th save of the season.

As Mickey Jannis' contract was recently purchased by the Mets, Long Island must play the second half without the Atlantic League's top pitching triple crown contender.

The pressure, then, is once again on John Brownell to lead Long Island's starting rotation.  He suffered only his second loss on Friday against 6 wins this season.  In 86.2 innings pitched, Brownell owns a 3.21 ERA, with a 1.100 WHiP.

Brownell is in his 4th year, and 3rd full season with Long Island.  He owns a career 30-23 record for the Ducks.  Last year, he threw a career high 202 innings, and posted a career best 13-9 record.

Although the Ducks missed out on a first half flag, they enter the season's second half comfortably leading the Wild Card race by 10 games over the Sugar Land Skeeters.

For now....

Long Island's goal is twofold then: continue trying to overtake the Patriots and win the second half flag, and/or, maintain their lead over Sugar Land.  The Camden Riversharks are the next closest Wild Card contender, 18.5 games out.

The Ducks have just 7 games remaining against the Skeeters, where as they still have another 12 games remaining against the Patriots.

That brings us to another situation worth monitoring.  How long can the Somerset Patriots keep playing at their record setting pace?  They set a league record with a 50-20 mark in the first half.   They are presently winning near 73% of their games based largely on the strength of their pitching.



Mike

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Friday Recap: Thor Lowers His Hammer on Diamondbacks



Here's tonight's recap for 


Noah Syndergaard struck out a career high 13 batters.



Check in every week for my Friday Night Recap.



Mike
senior staff writer/Rising Apple

N.Y. Yankees: Evolving Rivalry Against Red Sox Resumes Tonight

From the desk of:  BLAME CARLOS MAY




TONIGHT
New York Yankees
vs.
Boston Red Sox
FROM
Fenway Park

American League East
First) Yankees   46-39
Last) Red Sox    41-45 

New York Yankees:  Winds of change blowing from the Bronx through Boston; First place Bombers take on last place Red Sox.

Don't look now, but Boston is the hottest team in the A.L. East.

The Red Sox have put the division in a tourniquet, and have been squeezing with an 8-2 record in their last 10 games.  That has made the invading Yankees' lead over their long time rival a precarious one.  To the Bomber's credit, they've won 5 of their last 7 games.

The three teams that separate them in the standings; Orioles, Rays, Blue Jays; seem in no rush to distinguish themselves.  Otherwise, the Sox should have been dead and buried long ago.  But, this is baseball - it's a long season, and this is what happens when you fail to put teams away.

The Red Sox will host the Yankees in a first half finale prior to the All-Star break.  Fenway Park should rock this weekend, with a retro feel of just a decade ago.  Together, they'll prove this rivalry is far from dormant, and that the A.L. East crown is up for grabs.

Or, the Sox will get swept, and that will be the end of that.

Unfortunately, Dustin Pedroia is likely to miss the series.  On the other side, the most recent traitor, Jacoby Ellsbury returns from his knee injury just in time to face his former team.

Fenway fans are sure to intensify their raucousness each and every time Alex Rodriguez steps to the plate.  Who can ever forget the time they wore those little blonde girl masks?  Alex in Boston has always meant good times!

If nothing else, we'll get to watch Old-Rod and Big GrandPapi share the Fenway stage for one of the last few times in their careers.

This could be a decisive series for the Red Sox, and for GM Ben Cherington in particular.   Continuing to play well in July will place the pressure of all New Englanders squarely on the shoulders of Boston's GM to make a deadline move.

After Clay Buchholz, the Red Sox have no reliable pitching to speak of, and they've gotten very little out of Mike Napoli and especially Fung-Fu Panda at the plate.  In fact, the Sox may have too many needs that can not be addressed in one deadline.

At 46-39, the Yankees are the best of the rest.  On Thursday, Masahiro Tanaka gave the Yanks 7.2 innings of pure optimism over the A's.  This weekend, they intend to subdue the Red Sox with Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova, and Nathan Eovaldi.  Lately, all three have been pitching like they're in dire need of an All-Star break.

Accompanying Mark Teixeira to the All-Star Game will be Brett Gardner - well deserved.



Mike