Saturday, August 18, 2012

L.I. Ducks: Mike Loree Purchased By Taiwan League

From the desk of:   THE WEBBED SPIKES NINE

LONG ISLAND DUCKS: Adrift in Stagnant Waters.

Mike Loree Off to Taiwan.
Leaves Behind Club Languishing in Last.


What happened?  What happened to the first half Liberty Division champs?  The Long Island Ducks currently sport the worst second half record in the Atlantic League.

Perhaps we can sum it up this way.  The Ducks haven't been able to beat the South Maryland Blue Crabs.  Currently seven games out of first place, and firmly anchored to last place in the division, the Ducks were fresh off getting swept by the Crabs before engaging in this current series against Lancaster.  Over the second half, the Ducks have lost nine of ten games to the Blue Crabs.  There's your difference in the standings.

The Ducks sport a second half worst 12-22 record.  South Maryland leads the Liberty Division with a 20-15 second half record.  But what precipitated the difference in the Ducks from one half to the next?  It's hard to put a finger on one thing.  But if pressed, I'd say their starting pitching is the culprit.  They are very thin in the rotation, and it has caught up to them.  What's more, their rotation just suffered a major blow.  Of all the darnedest things, on August 16th, Mike Loree's contract was purchased by the Lamigo Monkeys of the Chinese Professional Baseball League of Taiwan.

Mike wasn't having nearly the season he had last year when he won the pitching triple crown.  This season, he proved to be a lot more hittable.  His 5-7 record is testament to that.  In 104.1 innings pitched, he surrendered 117 hits.  And his season ERA was almost at five.   But this is a tremendous loss none the less.  This leaves Bob Zimmermann as the only remaining Ducks starter to make over ten starts this season.  Zimm leads the staff with twenty-one starts.  Mike Loree came in second with eighteen.

Between now and the playoffs, Coach Baez will have to restructure a new three-man core.  In Mike Loree's absence, the Ducks will be going with Chris Hayes, Eric Niesen, Adam Rowe, anchored by Bob Zimmermann.  Who emerges as the fifth starter remains to be seen.  For the moment however, the Ducks are having to dip too deeply, and way too often into their bullpen.  They haven't been getting any kind of consistent length from the pitchers mentioned.

Offensively speaking, the Ducks are doing just fine.  They lead their division in runs scored.  The Ducks are tops with 530 runs scored this season.  The next closest divisional opponent is Bridgeport, with 478 runs scored.

However, Kraig Binick is not enjoying the type of season he had last year at the plate.  He is batting at a .254 rate.  That is exactly one-hundred points lower than his batting average at this time last season.  On August 18, 2011, Kraig Binick was rolling along with a .354 batting average.

Brandon Sing was brought in to hit home runs.  And he has done just that.  He has twenty home runs on the season in 328 at-bats.  He is only two homers off the League lead.  Thirty-seven games into Matt Esquivel's return, he has his batting average up at a .319 clip.  And Bryant Nelson has complimented Brandon Sing well with sixty-three RBI.

The team leader, and League leader, in RBI is Ray Navarrete.  He has seventy-four on the season, giving the Ducks three players with over sixty rbi.  And recently, Ray Navarrete applied his name to yet another club benchmark.  With forty-two doubles this season, Ray set a new Ducks and Atlantic League record.


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