Yeah, I heard you. Most of you, when you saw the title and author, ran through three quick thoughts in rapid succession. Some of you didn't go through all three, but many of you did. I would be upset if you didn't. If you wrote the article, I'd have ticked down the first two myself. They were, in order...
1. It isn't Thanksgiving. That's in November.
2. How can you be Thankful cheering for the last sixth place team in MLB's foreseeable future?
3. You already wrote this. It got shut down.
Nonetheless, I am Thankful for my team. Mainly, their future, but I am more confident about long-term sustained success than any time I can remember. Follow me below the bump to find out why.As to "Why now?", that's easy. Leading up to the June draft, I was busy familiarizing myself with the college players we would eschew for high schoolers. For the next couple weeks, signings were front and center. Now, the full season teams have moved on to their second halves, and Boise is off to an entertaining start. I have a reasonable feel for what I've seen, and want to be happy. If you want to (insert catchy term for 'kill my buzz'), I reeeeeally don't want to hear it. I hope this is non-divisive, but it doesn't really matter. A few of you will enjoy the read, and that's enough for me.
I was slow getting off of Dial-Up on my computer. I'm proud to be stingy, but eventually I broke down, in part because I wanted to hear more minor league games. Specifically, in the Cubs pipeline. Fortunately, the Cubs have an nice batch of people bringing us games. I've had back-and-forths on-line with them, and appreciate their efforts. FYI, the Fiberpipe feed from Boise is one reason I hope the Cubs get something worked out with them. When they're a quality team, they are a fun watch.
For all practical purposes, that last sentence is the crux of this entire Fanpost. A quality team is more fun to follow than a crappy one. Regardless the sport or level, when you're everybody's Whipping Boy, the interest can wane. Really quickly. For those that don't pay much attention to the minors, I really do feel your pain.
But seeing what I'm seeing in the minors, things will be getting better, sooner than later. Some somewhat jumbled thoughts follow.
* There is now a unified message for the player in the system. I haven't read the manual, or tried to choke it out of anyone I'm following on Twitter. It seems to be something like.... 'If you're pitching, trust your stuff. If you won't get people out throwing strikes, we'll get rid of you anyway.' (Probably in a more sunshiny way) 'If you're a hitter, you do better if you don't swing at balls you can't hit. So don't swing at them.' (Again, more sunshiny) If you're on defense, know how many outs there are, and what you'll do in any eventuality. (Applies as well to baserunners)
* Few things about baseball are more frustrating than.... I'll give you an example. On July 17, 1975, my dad stumbled into White Sox tickets. I was a kid and would watch any game live. It was a twinbill: remember those? By the time we were leaving home the first game was over. But we'd get to see the nightcap. By the time we got there, Claude Osteen had been pulled in the first inning. Detroit won 9-1. I'm sure we had fun, but nothing dampens a baseball game quicker than your starting pitcher getting shelled.
While the system has had some pitchers get hammered (three that I can think of, but won't name them) more often than preferred, most of them have been fairly good. There were too many times a few years ago when I would wake up just in time for a Boise game, and we'd be down 7-1 in the third. Stuff still happens, but most of our games at all levels, have been competitive recently this season.
* Every team releases guys. So do the Cubs. Most of them (at the lower levels) have been due to a lack of roster space. Pierre LePage is now in Indy Ball after we released him. Good 2B, popular guy in the clubhouse. No place to play him. Brian Inoa was going to be the spare IF/DH for Boise. He had represented in 2010 and 2011. He was hitting .250 (SSS alert), but was recently released. The system now expects more. Richard Jones was given half a year in Daytona, but was let go when better options were available.
* I haven't seen anything of the new draft picks, except for a game a month ago by Pierce Johnson. As well as Tayler Scott and James Pugliese have looked (among others), Boise's staff will be tough to crack in a year if 'the new guys' are as good as last year's picks. When Jorge Soler, Albert Almora, and others get a shot somewhere in the pipeline, those teams will be more enjoyable to watch.
Even guys I expected nothing from (Timothy Saunders among them), are worth the follow. If later round picks have skill, I look forward to our picks, signed, unsigned, and undrafted.
* I really enjoy that our system seems young. Most of our guys in Boise were born in the 90's. While that seems obvious, there are more 22 or 23 year olds in the Northwest League than you think. While Tim Wilken isn't a perfect scouting visionary, he still catches way more heat here than he deserves. Many of his misses have been from too few scouts and too tightly controlled pursestrings.
* Which leads me to Tom Ricketts. He wants his team to be well-trained, in the field and off it. In the states, and beyond. For those of you that still think he's cheap after the Dominican Academy they're building, after spending on Szczur, Concepcion, Soler, and Team Theo, I really have nothing for you. And as for Team Theo, they've done a few things I disagreed with (being very slow signing draft picks and sending only 11 hitters with one catcher to the opening road trip), but Bizarro-Rome can't be unbuilt in a day, and he still has my approval. He and his are building it very closely to how I would want it built. (No, we don't want a re-hash of my last post. So save it. :))
* I'm not that into watching Iowa (not a huge fan of watching 32 year old minor league pitchers), but I enjoy any of the other teams.Rizzo was fun to watch, however. Given a few years, even Iowa might be worth watching for more than the 1B, 3B, and CF.
I'm happy. I have plenty of system games to follow on my day off today. Most of them should be entertaining. I even hear the big club called up a guy today. Most of all though, these storm clouds will pass We will be fine. And if you're fixing to pee in my Wheaties, don't bother. I'm out of milk.