9-9? Acceptable? Really?

If mediocrity and inconsistency are two of the symptoms of swine flu, it would seem that the 2009 Trenton Thunder have collectively been afflicted.

Tonight’s 3-2 loss — their second straight loss to the Defenders by that score and third game in the series where they could only muster two runs — sent the Thunder to 9-9.

The Double-A team of one of the best and deepest farm systems in baseball is .500

So, it would be safe to assume that manager Tony Franklin isn’t happy with where the team’s at right now.

“Well, I think we’re better than that,” he said.

OK, I’ll bite.  How much better?

“It’s kind of hard to determine right now,” Franklin said.

“But when you’re 9-9 and you’ve been in just about every baseball game, you figure that if you got a hit here or made a play there or made a pitch there, then we’d win a baseball game.  I don’t know what that translates (into) in terms of games, but I certainly think we’re better than a 9-9 team.”

Are they?

The same questions that surrounded this team from the get go are still there; Where is the offense?  Will the back end of the rotation hold up?  Does this team have enough speed to play small ball to compensate for their lack of power?

Offense?  What offense?  The team has scored 60 runs in 18 games, good for the lowest total in the Eastern League.  That’s 3.33 runs a game.  Their four home runs are last in the league, and five teams in the league entered the night already in double digits.  Only 2-15 Harrisburg has drawn less walks, and the club is in the middle of the pack with 11 stolen bases.

The back end of the rotation will dazzle you one night, and frazzle you the next.  Zach McAllister was amazing last Thursday against New Britain, but couldn’t give the Thunder more than four innings yesterday.  Ivan Nova picked up his second straight win last Friday, but needed 95 pitches to get 16 outs tonight.  Ryan Pope made his best Double-A start on the 19th in Connecticut, but followed that up with his worst six days later at Waterfront Park against the Rock Cats.  The talent is there, the consistency isn’t.

Of the 11 stolen bases the Thunder have, six come from Colin Curtis and Edwar Gonzalez.  I wouldn’t consider either player as being “fast.”  Reegie Corona, who led last year’s team with 24 steals, has a grand total of two so far.

And then there’s been something that’s made itself painfully obvious that nobody even thought of at the beginning of the year…defensively, the team is atrocious.

Through 18 games, the position players have combined for 28 errors.  Francisco Cervelli has managed to amass five of them while catching, which is almost unheard of.  Eduardo Nunez already has seen “E-6″ pop up on the scoreboard eight times.  Marcos Vechionacci has made five errors.

People who think this team is better than 9-9 will tell you that they’ve been decimated by call-ups (Eric Hacker, Chris Malec, Jose Valdez) and injuries (Edwar Gonzalez). 

In fact, Franklin did just that.

“Let’s face it, we’ve lost some pitching and we’ve lost some hitting,” he said.

“That’s a lot.  You just don’t lose a guy like Malec and a guy like Hacker and a guy like Valdez and not feel it a little bit.  But we’ve replaced those guys, pitching wise.  Maybe not offensive wise, as far as Malec’s concerned, but that’s a lot to ask.  We’re still in this.  We’ve been in some close games, and we have not been blown out, and I’m pretty happy about that.  But we’re better than 9-9, I do know that.”

I guess only time will tell if that’s really the case…

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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17 Responses to “9-9? Acceptable? Really?”

  1. Boreifs Says:

    Fewer walks. Less sugar.

  2. thunderfangabe Says:

    mike, do you think so of the problems stem from the fact that a bunch of the guys do not have AA experience and are still really learning the league? gonzo, curtis, malec all played last year so they know the other teams a bit more, but some of these other guys are pretty young and maybe aren’t adjusted yet. those 3 i mentioned are the only ones hitting over .300 and reegie is not toooo far behind at .262 or so.

  3. thunderbaseball Says:

    I’m sure that’s part of it, but it definitely isn’t all of it. And even when/if some of these guys do make that adjustment…do these guys even project as decent prospects? Basically, does this team have the horses to get the job done?

    Last year, that wasn’t a problem…

    There are guys with Double-A time who, without question, need to step up…just like a lot of other guys on this team.

    Everyone else can make excuses for what’s going on with this team (and yes, I get that there would be a lot of teams that would be thrilled to be 9-9 right now) but I’m not going to be that guy.

    Maybe the past few years have just set the bar too high…

  4. thunderfangabe Says:

    the past 2 years definitely had some standouts

  5. yankeesdaily.com » Blog Archive » Scranton Wins but Igawa Pitches Only Ok Says:

    […] Trenton Thunder lost a close game to the Connecticut Defenders by a score of 3-2. Starting for Trenton was Ivan Nova and he gave up 3 runs, 2 earned run on 8 hits in 5.1 innings of […]

  6. Sean Serritella Says:

    All the best players moved up to either the big leagues or to Scranton. You have to expect this Mike. You can’t hog all the good players down in Trenton. You need to pass them on to Scranton.

  7. thunderbaseball Says:

    That’s fine…but I’m not fine with people thinking being 9-9 is fine, as it seems to be at times.

  8. yanksince57-was last year 1959 or was it 1965? Says:

    my main thought – is trenton developing players or not? starters are 21, 22, 22, 23 and 26 for a rehabber. c 23 and 26, 1b 25 and 27 for a fast tracked defector, 2b 22, ss 21, 3b 22, supersub 23, lf 24, cf 25, and rf 25. bullpen 23, 23, 25, 25, 26 and 28 and 29 for 2 special projects. unlike previous years, i see NO 30+ career minor leaguers plugged in as place holders! also, the same patience needed in ny equally applies to trenton. :)

  9. T-H-H Says:

    I can only comment from their recent series in Norwich, but by the end of it I mentioned to a friend that this Trenton team seemed to be pretty weak offensively compared to teams from the past. And it wasn’t that the Def pitching is that strong….. it isn’t.

    Buy from limited observation so far, my feeling is the talent level in the EL may be down a bit this year.

  10. Steve Says:

    We need Jesus in Trenton (Montero).

  11. John Says:

    For the most part it looks like the .500 winning pct is what we can expect from this team this year. This is a young team with inconsistent pitching (although the pen has looked decent with the exception of the game by committee), very little clutch hitting and far too many base running errors. It also looks like this team is pressing at the plate. They aren’t letting the game come to them. Too many fly outs or unintentional swinging bunts. The exceptions are Curtis, Malec, Gonzo & Reegie (all who had significant time here last year).

    FYI – Gonzo had on a pair of the coolest batting gloves last night while swinging a bat in the dugout.

  12. David Says:

    I thought Cervilli was suppose to be a good defensive catcher. How does he have 5 errors in 18 games?

    Montero will be the catcher next year (along with Romine?). Offensive help is on the way, but maybe not this year.

  13. Billy Says:

    What are your impressions of Michael Dunn.? He seems to have come into his own and starting the year throwing strikes.

  14. thunderfangabe Says:

    wow john made a comment haha

  15. thunderbaseball Says:

    Dunn’s had one bad inning all year…when Scranton needs a guy who needs regular work, Dunn will be the guy. Was a little surprised Valdez got the first call-up out of the pen guys (yes, Wordy got one too…but he’s probably not going to see regular innings) but he was throwing really well too.

    But yeah, there aren’t too many nervous people in the ballpark — at least the press box — when Dunn’s out there.

  16. Notes From The Past 48 Hours « Mike Ashmore’s Thunder Thoughts Says:

    […] I seem to remember this post getting a lot of attention… […]

  17. yanksince57-was last year 1959 or was it 1965? Says:

    so if the thunder tank, was it lack of talent or organizational mistakes or injuries?

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