Development vs. Winning
Fans in Boise last night had the opportunity to see the purest example of Short-Season Class A baseball at its finest – as the Hawks squandered leads of 6-1 and 10-4, falling to the Vancouver Canadians, 12-11, in a nearly four-hour nine-inning marathon. (Click Here for Friday the 13th Game Notes)
Fans have been very critical about the fact that Boise supports a “winning” team and have been critical about comments about “this is just a vehicle to develop talent.” Last night was a perfect example for both. Left-hander Mike Heesch was outstanding for a third-straight time out, striking out three in two innings of work – but despite being on cruise control, he was pulled with the 10-4 lead in the seventh. I could hear the fans grumbling – WHY!!! Typically, affiliates have set standards and protocols for their draft picks – limiting their innings and pitches during the first summer (sort of like Stephen Strasburg with the Nationals). Heesch is currently limited to just two innings – as he threw well over 100 innings this summer in college. When both Rafael Diplan and Roderik Pichardo ran into trouble – why wasn’t someone else up…that’s because Su-Min Jung was the last guy left in the pen. Bryce Shafer, Eddie Orozco, and Pete Levitt were unavailable after throwing a lot of pitches the night before, while Hayden Simpson and Mike Hamann are needed for tonight’s game, and the same goes for Felix Pena and Wellington Cruz on Sunday. So, Mark Johnson was hung out to dry – he had to leave Pichardo in (even though he was self destructing), as once Jung was done – the Hawks would have most likely had to use a position player in a pitching role.
Others grumbled – why weren’t the Hawks bunting late in the game. Once again, it is an organizational philosophy in terms of how to play the game. If it were Yakima, Tri-City, Vancouver, or Eugene – a runner gets on first, and more often than not, they will be sacrificed into scoring position. Not with the Cubs, as they are trying to teach the kids how to hit with runners in scoring position. In the same sense, if you play for a tie (and know you don’t have much pitching – it is truly worth it).
But the fans say – we want a winner. I know for a fact that Mark Johnson wants to win – when I was in the clubhouse last night, you could tell from the mood that they wanted to win. But where is the fine line of developing talent and playing to win – fans in Boise were spoiled by Tom Kotchman and the Angels philosophy on winning (which is more in line with the Rockies, D-Backs, and Padres). Nonetheless, I don’t think anyone can take away the fact that the team played hard and should be commended for that.
FOOD UPDATE: Had some great eats in Yakima – as many of you saw in the tweets, as the pulled pork nachos were fabulous. Looking forward to next week as to see what they’ll have for us in Eugene. Food Standings through 7/12 – Ham/Turkey Sandwich (4), Smoked Sausage (4), Chicken Sandwich (3), Hot Dogs (3), Pizza (3), No Food (2), Pulled Pork Nachos (2), Pulled Pork Sandwich (2), Meatball Sandwich (2), Hamburger (1), Chicken Caesar Wrap (1).