Average numbers produce average results, and that's what the 39-41 Salt Lake Buzz are at the midway point of the season - average, perhaps a tad below.
Their mediocrity puts them in a surprising second place in the Pacific Coast League's Southern Divison but still a whopping 14 1/2 games behind pace-setting Fresno.Currently, the Buzz's team earned run average stands at 5.10 - mediocre enough for 13th in the 16-team PCL. And the team's .269 batting average places them 12th in the league.
"We've played inconsistent throughout the first half," Salt Lake manager Phil Roof said. "We're hot and cold. In one stretch we won 18 of 26. We played well, defended well and our starting pitching took us to the sixth or seventh inning."
With that hot streak, which included six straight wins between late May and early June, the Buzz were hovering three to six games behind the division leaders most of the first half.
But immediately following the modest streak, the Buzz lost six in a row and 16 of their last 25.
"We went the other way in a combination of things. When it (offense, pitching, defense) doesn't work, we don't play well," Roof said.
In years past, the league's first-half champion would earn a spot in post-season play, then all teams would wipe the records clean and compete for a post-season berth in the second half.
But with the merger of three AAA leagues (American, International and PCL) into two, first- half records will carry over.
As a result, the Buzz start the second half with a lot of work to do if they're to earn a post-season bid.
"We have 64 games left, and our luck can turn around," Roof said. " Fresno hasn't cooled off yet. They've played well continuously. It's time for them to have a cool spell. There are 64 games left, and anything can happen."
Starting pitching: C
Losing Dan Serafini, who was 5-2, to the parent club Minnesota Twins, and Ricky Bones (6-2), who signed with the Kansas City Royals, didn't help the starting rotation. Lefties Travis Baptist (8-3, 2.77 ERA, PCL All-Star) and Mark Redman (4-2, 5.02 ERA) are the only consistent starters with winning records. Jeff Harris is 1-0 with an 11.25 ERA since being called upfrom Double-A New Britain. Benj Sampson is 4-4 with a 6.09 ERA.
Roof's take: "Our pitching is just average."
Being in the middle of the pack in the PCL in hitting will not get it done. They need to get more help from veterans Jamie Odgen and Scott Stahoviak, who was to rejoin the team today after David Ortiz was recalled after completing his rehab assignment.
Salt Lake's Chad Rupp is the only Buzz player hitting over .300.
Roof's take: "We need to get smarter and develop the talent to compete as this level. It hurts . . . with only one guy over .300"
With a 9-16 record and 11 blown save opportunities, the bullpen, manned by Gus Gandarillas, Travis Miller, Todd Ritchie, Shane Bowers and Kevin Ohine is simply not producing.
Roof's take: "They're inconsistent right now, all of them. It's not because they're overworked. They need to believe in themselves and go out and execute their pitches."
While the Buzz appear to be playing solid defense behind their pitchers, they're not.
Roof's take: "In this ballpark (Franklin Quest Field) we can't give a team four outs in an inning."
Report card: Buzz
Starting pitching C