Random Thoughts Heading into the Holiday Weekend

This doesn’t extend to everyone on the team, but the
ValleyCats so far this season are dead last in the New York-Penn League in
batting with a .205 average (I was pleasantly surprised after checking this stat).
A couple of days ago the ‘Cats were batting below the Mendoza line… as a team! They were shut out in three
straight games on the road. Honestly, that isn’t acceptable.

Don’t get me wrong, there are guys on this team that can hit. Ben Orloff has really come
around and has stepped up as one of the leaders of this team. Heading into the
final game in a three-game set against the Tigers, Orloff leads the team with a
.333 batting average. He struggled last year, partly due to some elbow
tendonitis. He never batted above .179 last year and was 1 for his first 21. In
21 ABs this year he already has seven hits. 

And defensively, don’t even get me started. Orloff is one of
the most talented defensive middle infielders I have ever seen. He has already
made two highlight reel worthy defensive plays. I’m talking SportsCenter top
ten and Baseball Tonight’s web gem kind of plays. He had one the other night
that blew me away. On a pop up in foul territory, Orloff ran all the way from
second base and made a sliding, over-the-shoulder catch just in front of the
tarp. And last night might have been the best play fans at “The Joe” have seen
all season. On a ground ball up the middle, Orloff ranged all the way to his
left, scooped up the ball on the second base side of the bag, flipped it to
second baseman Kiké Hernandez, who bare-handed it over to first for the 6-4-3
twin killing. Media Relations/Productions Manager Chris Chenes was standing
next to me at the time. His jaw hit the floor.

 As my fellow
VCN member Kevin Whitaker has already pointed out, pitching has been the
strength of this team. The bullpen has pitched exceptionally well. As a group,
the ‘pen under Pitching Coach Gary Ruby (Ruby Ruby Rubaaaaayyyyyy. Sorry,
couldn’t help myself. Love that song when he comes out, even if he doesn’t) has
a 2.50 ERA. The pitching staff collectively has a 3.21 ERA, which is good for
fourth in the entire New York-Penn League. Tom Shirley and Carlos Quevedo have
been phenomenal so far for the ‘Cats. Quevedo is in the top-20 in the NYPL in
ERA and is eighth in strikeouts. Shirley ranks fourth in K’s, but the biggest
problem with Shirley is that he throws too many pitches. He allows a lot of baserunners, which could come back and bite him later.

“It’s pretty evident to everybody we can really pitch,” said
Orloff. “It’s good as a hitter cause we’re in every ball game. We’re never
going to be chasing five or six runs with the way these guys have been throwing
the ball. So if we can just execute – do these little things, score enough runs
– we’re going to be real successful this year.”

Notes from the
World Cup:

It’s the biggest sporting event in the entire world (apologies
to die hard American football fans and bracketologists all around the world,
but it’s true) and it’s coming to a close. We had “World Cup Wednesday” here at
ballpark last week and it really brought out a lot of love for the event. A lot
of the front office staff here in Troy is extremely interested. Some watch it
on their computers, some listen to it on the radio, and some watch it on the TV
in the concourse.

When USA played Ghana, and eventually lost in a heartbreaker
in extra time, we had quite the scene here from “The Joe.” There were
ValleyCats staff members mixed in with Lowell Spinners players and a few
ValleyCats players sprinkled in. Most of the crowd lived and died with every US
shot, except for Kiké Hernandez. When people say the world stops for the World Cup,
they aren’t lying.

As for my prediction: have to go with the Netherlands against Germany. Germany
dominated, and I mean dominated, the
favorite to win the cup after beating Argentina 4-0. The Netherlands team is
very interesting as well. Sneijder and Van Persie have been sensational, and
you can’t forget about Kuyt. In the end, I have the Germans winning in a 3-1 game over the Netherlands. Germany is on a
roll right now. The only team that can stop them is Spain, and the only way
they do so is if Fernando Torres remembers how to play. He has not been himself
this entire cup (to his credit he is coming off an injury).  


Evan Valenti

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