“There once was a team who left Pawtucket…”
How are the IronPigs Doing?
Not great. The ‘Pigs went 2-4 at home versus 1st place Scranton on their last home stand. Last week they were in Trenton to face the displaced Buffalo team. Again, through rain-outs and double-headers, they managed 2-4. From June 26 to June 30 they lost by a combined score of 51-16. Certainly, pitching has been a problem through there, but they’re making up for it by not hitting or scoring runs, either. The IronPigs are 23-31 on the season, 11-13 at home and 12-18 on the road. They are 3-7 in their last 10, and sport a -66 run differential on the season.
Worcester comes to our Shire with a second-place record of 32-21. They’ve won two in a row, but are also 3-7 in their last 10, coming off a 3-2 rain-shortened series at home versus first-place Scranton. INF Christian Arroyo is on rehab assignment with the Woo-Sox, at least as of yesterday. Top ten prospect INF Jeter Downs remains with the team and is hitting .234. I feel like INF Josh Ockimey and OF Franchy Cordero have reached “Pig Killer” status. Get used to these guys, they’ll be back later this month.
Who’s on the IronPigs?
LHP Tyler Alexander was added from the Frontier League, where he led the league in strikeouts as well as fewest walks, over five starts. I’m expecting him to get a start later in this series, but he just pitched yesterday, so it likely won’t be until the weekend.
RHP Chase Anderson is still with the team as of this writing, officially on rehab assignment from the Phillies. He’s been starting, and wearing uniform #16.
RHP Mark Appel is back with the IronPigs, on the comeback trail. He’s wearing #35 and his success at this point rests with his fastball command.
LHP Jakob Hernandez remains with the IronPigs, working out of the bullpen.
RHP Spencer Howard is back with the IronPigs. He’s working on getting stretched out and functioning as a full starter after what ended up being a sort of “opener” role with Philadelphia. Once his hits his innings limit, they’ll likely shut him down for the season. His outing on Saturday night was a good one, although I can’t say if he maintained his velocity or what was different from the Phillies starts. He’s currently at 35.2 innings pitched on the season between both levels.
RHP Adonis Medina was recently placed on the 7-day injured list. The nature of his injury is not known. The loss of another starter is not good news; however, he did look like he wasn’t pitching as well lately, so perhaps the injury was coming.
RHP Brady Lail is still on the team. He’s given up 19 runs in 16 innings.
C Freddy Francisco, veteran of exactly 59 rookie league games and 6 single-A games, is our third catcher.
INF CJ Chatham is on the injured list with a broken hand.
INF Nick Maton is back with the club, from the Majors. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get called back, pending the injury to Andrew McCutchen, who did play in Chicago Monday night.
OF Adam Haseley is on the injured list with a groin.
INF/OF Scott Kingery is on the injured list with a shoulder, I believe.
OF Cornelius Randolph remains on the injured list with an elbow. Initially I heard whispers that it wasn’t good, but recently I’ve seen signs that maybe he could return sooner than I thought. Here’s hoping.
OF Matt Vierling is back. He spent but 72 hours with the ‘Pigs after getting promoted from Reading, because he got the call to the big leagues. We’ll await another call, perhaps, pending Andrew McCutchen’s oblique.
Who’s Hot? Who’s Not?
1B Darick Hall had hits in each of the Trenton games, 8-for-21 overall.
INF/OF Dalton Guthrie had two multi-hit games on the road trip.
OF Ryan Cordell has been hot and cold. His average is down to .213
LHP Cristopher Sanchez has been the best starter in the rotation, although he’s coming off a lackluster outing in Trenton.
RHP JD Hammer has a 1.37 ERA and hasn’t allowed a run since June 16.
RHP Brady Lail is still on the team.
What’s Going On at the Park?
This home-stand has been designated “Salute to Veterans” week. Expect special events at each game.
Tuesday: “Tail Waggin’ Tuesday” is the new “Bark in the Park.” Bring your furry friends and hang out on the lawn.
Wednesday: Mystery at Coca Cola Park. It’s a Mystery.
Thursday: “Friends” Night. Happy Hour 5-7PM, $1 Berks Hot Dogs. $2 Drafts (The promo says $1-$2 Drafts; if anyone can find the $1 drafts please let me know. I think it should be $2-$3 Domestic Drafts.)
Saturday: Hispanic Heritage Night. Adult Coqui Cap Giveaway. Fireworks.
Sunday: TBD Night, sponsored by Matheson, the same folks who brought us the air giveaway. This is the “Salute to Philly” game as the Lehigh Valley Sprinkles.
Good seats are still available for all games. NEW this homestand: On the weekends, lawn seating will include a buffet meal. Tickets are $19 for adults, $15 for kids 2-12. There doesn’t appear to be a General Admission option on weekends any longer. What’s included in the buffet? Where will it be located, exactly? Those are questions yet to be answered.
“Hog Heaven,” the main food concession on the club level, will return to it’s normal form for this home-stand. No word on the “Pig Stop.” The in-seat delivery did seem to work out OK, but with larger crowds ahead, the return of the normal food stand makes the most sense. Hopefully they’ll have the $1 hot dogs this Thursday. The specialty bar menu items will still be ordered on your phone and delivered to your seat. Perhaps they should number the barstools? Nope, the minute they do that they’ll make me pay for mine.
Projected Pitching Matchups
Rainouts and doubleheaders during our series in Trenton, and Worcester’s series with Scranton, have the rotations in a bit of shambles. The Medina injury doesn’t help. Will update shortly. If they keep Spencer Howard on a strict 5-day rotation, he’ll pitch Thursday. If they want Anderson to pitch on a 5-day schedule, he’ll pitch Friday.
Tuesday Starter: LHP Cristopher Sanchez (2-3, 4.08) vs. TBA
Chase Anderson is expected to pitch on Friday, Spencer Howard on Saturday.
Opinion: “Cashless Cash Grab”
As all the safety restrictions put in place to cope with the contagious virus have fallen away, one thing at Coca Cola Park will remain: The stadium will continue to operate “cashless.”
Of course, there are certainly some advantages of cash from a business standpoint. However, with the dawning of the quick transactions via “tap and pay” with your chip credit card or Apple Pay or Google Pay it’s time to take a look at the advantages for the IronPigs, of remaining “cashless.” First, cash management. In the past, security personnel would clean out the cash registers periodically throughout the evening. In most operations such as stadiums, the cash then must go to a secure “count room” where multiple additional personnel are on hand to count the register money and justify with a register receipt. Collecting and counting the money from the parking attendants is another challenge–trying to justify with the number of cars and the number of parking passes used. Secondly, there may be other cash obstacles in place from an accounting and tax payment standpoint for a business the size of the IronPigs. In a cashless environment, little of that is necessary. Fewer employees are needed, and everything is easily accounted for, and trackable.
New equipment was necessary at all point-of-purchase sites, and certainly the credit card companies will want their processing fees. How to pay for that? First, the IronPigs likely negotiated the most favorable fee arrangement they could get, and they likely did well based on the volume of business they do. Second, they added the sales tax on top. In the past, $2.50 for a hot dog meant that the actual price was less, $2.36 or so, but it was arranged so that the end price for the hot dog would include the sales tax for ease of change-making at the transaction point. Now, it’s all added on top. In addition to other price increases, most things in the park now costs 6% more.
What’s a fan to do? You can’t fight city hall, so here are some tips to help you negotiate the cashless landscape:
- Make sure you have a tap-able chip card or other quick pay device set up and ready to go. Have a backup ready, too, if you can.
- Of course, avoid putting your IronPigs concessions on a card with a balance, if you can, or you’ll be paying interest on your hot dog and beer.
- Pre-pay your parking by purchasing it with your tickets or by buying a pre-paid pass.
- If you have cash in your budget for baseball activities, you can always go to the Clubhouse Store on a non-game day and purchase a gift card with cash. That can then be used for most ballpark expenses.
- When ordering, depending on the concession, make sure you’re in line with the “register” as you’ll need access to the customer-facing screen to complete your transaction.
- Remember that outside vendors within the park will still take cash–the Gyro stand, for instance.
- You should absolutely tip your servers and bartenders when you have the opportunity, and the point-of-sale system does allow it in most cases. However, remember that you can tip in cash as well.
[One of the things I’ve noticed since doing these home-series previews this season–in addition to the fact that it’s more difficult without press access–is that stuff changes. Inevitably, Tuesday afternoon and into Wednesday there will be roster changes, news items and other intelligence for me to share. I’ve been adding them in the comments, but in this case I think I’ll just leave this space for the updates, and then I’ll update the whole post. So check back here under this heading for new news early in the series–after that I’ll just make a new post.]
The Phillies signed veteran catcher Tyler Heineman and assigned him to the IronPigs. That makes four catchers so perhaps our young friend Freddy Francisco will find his way to a more appropriate level. Perhaps the extra veteran catchers are in place so that the Phillies can take Marchan on the taxi squad from time to time.
We now enter the portion of the schedule where Reading and Lehigh Valley alternate. That means baseball every night except Monday. Look for a Reading “preview” of sorts for those who want to catch a game during the “off” weeks when the IronPigs are on the road.
See you at the park,
Cover photo by Jack Mitroka