The All Star Break might be the approximate half-way point for the big league guys, but for us down here in the minors, we had our half-way point back in June. Nevertheless, it is a few days without meaningful baseball where we can reflect on the games gone by and look forward to the rest of the season. Here are some things that have been on my mind as I look forward to the rest of the IronPigs season:
- There are more than 72 shirts. I don’t know how else to tell you other than to come out and say it. But, it’s true, any way you want to frame it. There are more than 72 “limited edition” T-Shirts available, no matter what you’ve heard. Yes, it’s misleading and, to a degree, dishonest. But it’s also marketing. I have no doubt that there is a limit–and when they’re gone, they’re gone. It’s not that much different from some of the other goods they sell in the store, you know? More than once, I’ve hesitated to pull the trigger on a hat or sweatshirt or something that I kind of liked, only to go back and find that the very item is no longer in stock, and has been replaced by something else. So if you like the shirt and you must have it, by all means place an order. If you’re on the fence and you want to look at it first, stop by the store and take a peek. But no matter what happens, just know that there are more than 72.
- The team is winning. You can pick any number of starting points, but the one I like is June 12. The IronPigs had just dropped three in a row down in Durham to the Bulls. They headed to Norfolk and lost 4-3 in a game that was 4-0 most of the way. Adam Morgan, win-less in all of his starts on the season, was on the mound. He pitched 6 scoreless innings, followed by 3 scoreless from Cesar Jimenez, 2 scoreless from both Hector Neris and Seth Rosin, and a Danks double in the 14th inning provided the only run. Jake Diekman came in to shut the door, and the Pigs took a 1-0 win. Since that time, they are 19-10. What else happened around that time? On 6/14, Domonic Brown was promoted to the Phillies, and on 6/15 Aaron Nola was promoted to the IronPigs. Just saying. As far as other random starting points? The ‘Pigs are 7-3 in their last 10, 8-3 since July 1, and 11-3 since the second half of the double-header on Sunday June 28. It’s not clear when it happened, but reports are that the ‘Pigs have been playing better ever since Chase d’Arnaud installed a PS4 in the IronPigs clubhouse–Call of Duty and NBA 2k15 have been the most popular games. All this winning puts the ‘Pigs in fourth place in the division, 9 games behind a Rochester team we’ve beaten up pretty good of late, and 7.5 games behind a reeling Scranton team. Buffalo is in the mix, but is below .500. The ‘Pigs have 7 games left against Rochester, 9 against Scranton, 3 against Buffalo, and a whopping 11 against the IL’s worst team, Syracuse. “So I’m saying there’s a chance.”
- Time is short. There are only 24 home games left on the IronPigs schedule, and two of them happen on the same day, with the day/night two-ticket doubleheader recently announced for Saturday, August 15. Only 16 of the games take place before the kids go back to school, and 12 of them occur between Monday, July 20 and Sunday August 2.
- I love those day/night doubleheaders. Every rain out, I peek at the schedule to see if a day/night is a possibility. When we were postponed on Thursday July 9, I knew it was possible, as the PawSox would be back on a weekend. Lo and behold, it came to be, and the day/night was added for 8/15. There are many factors, but an epic day is a possibility. You’ll remember the one we had a couple years ago: We grilled breakfast sandwiches in the parking lot and shared them with the parking attendants. Then I almost killed Ed with a spicy Bloody Mary. We won the first game, tailgated again through the break with Dan’s BBQ, and went back in for the nightcap. We won that one too. It was an epic day. Could we repeat it? Well, it depends. It depends on the weather, how the team is doing, who’s going to be around, and a few other factors. Stay tuned, but be prepared to suck the marrow out of that day if the circumstances allow.
- What about Aaron Nola? Nola will start our first game back, up in Rochester on Thursday. He’ll then be in line to start the day game on Tuesday 7/21 (11:35AM) at home and the Sunday afternoon game versus Syracuse at home on 7/26. He could be summoned to Philly any time, or he could remain until the home game on Friday 7/31 versus Norfolk. His exact call up could depend on the potential trades in Philly, as well as the health of their current starters. Stay tuned, but I don’t see any way he’ll be with us longer than that.
- Who might come up from Reading yet this season? I’m still thinking we’ll see OF’s Cam Perkins and Kelly Dugan when the time is right–probably around August 1st. I think a lot of these guys will get Spring Training invites next season, and will be challenged to win a job in Philly. Those that don’t will be with the IronPigs. I don’t really think pitchers Eflin or Lively will be up this season–but both should start with us in the Spring. 1B/DH Brock Stassi is an interesting case: He’s performed well enough to get a promotion, but might not see regular time with the ‘Pigs. We’ll have to wait and see how they handle that headed towards August 1. Perhaps if Tommy Joseph gets activated as a 1B/3B, they’ll start him in Reading and send Brock up to AAA.
- I’ve been thinking about catchers. It’s been widely thought that the Phillies’ farm system lacks quality at the catcher position. Their best prospect, Deivi Grullon, is in Lakewood and many seasons away from helping the Phillies, if he even, ever, does. However, I’ve been really impressed with a couple guys at the upper levels of the system: Gabriel Lino has done really well with the IronPigs–much better than I thought he’d do, both with the bat and behind the plate. Logan Moore has done well, too. Andrew Knapp has performed well offensively and defensively in Reading since he was promoted, and our old friend Cameron Rupp has held his own with the Phillies. With those four guys, I think the Phillies will be OK through the first phase of their re-build, and I no longer think a catcher has to be part of the trade packages that they get back later this month. Certainly, it’s a position that could be improved, but add a veteran to that mix and it’ll get them through the next couple years, I think.
- Who will get promoted to the Phillies? Well, there’s Nola, for sure. I think LHP Adam Loewen is on the precipice of making the majors for a third time. I also think Brian Bogusevic will find his way up there at some point once he returns from the Pan Am games. I’m not sure if they’ll get Biddle up there this season, or not. One or two of those catchers will go up for September. Aaron Altherr will probably spend September in Philly, as will Nefi Ogando. Beyond that, we’ll have to see what happens at the trade deadline and what the Phillies need thereafter based on position and health.
So, that’s what’s been on my mind. How about you? Respond in the comments below if you like. Also, remember the AAA-All Star viewing party for Season Ticket Holders is tomorrow night over at the park. Request your tickets if you haven’t done so already. I expect to have a full preview of the 7-game home stand up on the blog on Sunday, in advance of the ‘Pigs return home on Monday.
See you at the park,