Well peeps, the first weekend of the 2014 Diamond Dawg season is in the books. It was good to take 2 of 3 from WCU. They were a much better team than Hofstra. Look of WCU to be a hard team to deal with as a 3 or 4 in a regional somewhere, but hopefully not here. While it's too early to tell much, here are some thoughts on the weekend overall:
1. Brandon Woodruff's start was disappointing to say the least. He struggled with control and didn't last 2 innings. Looked like it might have been nerves combined with an inconsistent strike zone. It's too early to panic, but I understand being concerned after he struggled with control last season. We NEED him to step up and be the Friday night guy for us.
2. Ross Mitchell continues to be be crazy good. Came in and threw strikes.
3. I was super impressed with Trevor Fitts. I've been on his bandwagon since late last year. No, I don't think he'll be a double digit strikeout guy every week. But I do think he could replace Graveman as the new workhorse of our weekend rotation, getting deep into games and eating innings.
4. Jacob Lindgren was Jacob Lindgren. Great stuff, terrible control. Incredibly disappointing after all the offseason hype about how good he's looked coming out of the bullpen. It's just one game, so he could still get it together. But what's concerning is that it was a continuation of everything we've seen from him the last 2 seasons.
5. Very impressed with Preston Brown. He came in and pounded the strike zone. I think he'll be a big part of the bullpen moving forwards.
6. Jonathan Holder cut 'em down. 'Nuff said.
7. Confession: I didn't get to see most of Dakota Hudson's four innings. But what I did see impressed me. I look for him to be a very good Sunday option for us.
8. I was very impressed with Vance Tatum, even though he only faced one batter. He came in, threw strikes, showed good velocity, and a nasty breaking pitch. He may be our new #2 lefty behind Mitchell if Lindgren continues to be bad.
9. Cohen did what Cohen does. Lots of tinkering with the lineup and putting guys in different positions. I know how I would personally like to see the lineup shake out, but I trust Cohen's tinkering. It's one of, if not the, biggest reasons we've been so good late in the season under Cohen.
10. We need Alex Detz to start getting some hits, but it was nice to see him continuing to find ways to get on base.
11. CT Bradford looked much better. He's finally healthy, and it shows.
12. Wes "Grizzly" Rea continues to be clutch. I'm expecting a big season to him. Maybe it was just me, but did it look like he was standing further back from the plate this weekend? I really, really hope my eyes weren't deceiving me on that adjustment.
13. Matthew Britton looked about like I expected. Very good glove, didn't do much offensively. Looks like we swapped Frazier's bat for increased defense.
14. I like Derrick Armstrong, but if I see him at DH again I might throw something at my tv. He's our 5th or 6th best OF and needs to be relegated to a pinch running/late inning defensive sub role.
15. Unless Reed Humphries and Daniel Garner step up, we're going to be a small ball team with almost no power. One major area of concern offensively is that we struck out a LOT for a small ball team. We also didn't run very much. It's hard to play small ball if you aren't making contact and running.
16. Congrats to Coach Cohen on his 500th win. Big accomplishment.
Just a few thoughts I had. Granted, it's way too early to tell very much, other than our pitching looks to be in good shape for the most part. I expect us to improve offensively. Plus, Cohen will continue to tinker until mid-to-late March. I personally would like to see Humphries win the 3B job and Garner win the C job so we can put Detz at DH. I think getting those guys into the lineup gives us our best balance of small ball and power. We can use Zack Randolph as a late inning defensive sub at C if needed. If Garner can't win the C job, I look for a 3-way time split between him, Humphries, and Detz at DH/3B. All that said, I trust Cohen to get the best lineup onto the field. If that means a team full of small ball players, so be it. A wise man once said "Just win, baby!" So long as we win, WMD will be happy, happy, happy.