Why York has no shot of winning it all

Editor’s Note: This is the first installment in a two-part series. This post will argue why the Revs will fall short of the Atlantic League playoffs. Another post later in the week will argue why York could make a run at the Atlantic League title.

You can only toss around words like “potential” for so long. Sooner or later, you have to judge a team on results alone. And while the York Revolution are not quite to that point yet, we’re getting close.

In manager Chris Hoiles’ tenure, his teams have finished halves 26-37, 32-31 and 30-40. York has only been a contender one time — for about a month in last year’s second half. The rest of the time has been spent wondering what went wrong and going on winning streaks that have meant essentially nothing.

The time for York to make a run is now. And many might think that is very possible with some of the best additions in club history lately (Kennard Jones, Chris Ashby and Shea HIllenbrand). But here’s five reasons why York’s ’08 season will end in disappointment yet again.

1) York can’t hang with good clubs

I’ve beaten this point into the ground many a time, but it’s one worth mentioning again. The Revs are 5-23 against Newark and are 0-9 in series all-time against the Bears. Some say the division alignments don’t really matter, but York would beg to differ. The Revs surely wouldn’t mind Newark moving over to the Liberty Division.

The Revs also seem to struggle against Somerset — although not as mightily. But I’m sure die hard fans out there remember Somerset spiking the stake into the heart of York’s playoff hopes last summer at Sovereign Bank Stadium. It was ugly to watch and Somerset/Newark will definitely play a large part in York’s second-half fortunes. After three with Long Island and Bridgeport to start the second half, York plays 11 of 14 against the Bears and Patriots.

2) A shaky bullpen

All-Stars Nick McCurdy (1.42 ERA, 48 strikeouts, eight walks in 44 1/3 innings) and Jason Olson (3.99 ERA in 38 1/3 innings) have been reliable for most of the year. But after that, there are no safe bets. Matt Trent (14.54 ERA in July) and Mark Rosen (13.50 ERA in July) have been beaten around lately, Travis Phelps is coming off an injury and Dave Veres (2.52 ERA) hasn’t made an appearance since July 2. According to Revolution director of baseball opeartions Adam Gladstone, the Revs shut down Veres (pictured) to give him some time to rest his body.

“He’s in a situation where he knows what his body can do,” Gladstone said. “His goal is to get back to a major league organization and he needs to work some kinks out. We just need to give him some time.”

Time may not be on York’s side, however. The Revs are already two games behind the Patriots and while that’s a manageable margin right now, a rough spell after the All-Star break could put York in a dubious position.

3) Inconsistency

This is an aspect of York that has been overlooked over the last two years. Everyone is in awe of York when the bats are going good and the pitching is slamming the door. To contrast, everyone jumps on the Revs when the team is playing poorly. But why not blast York for not being consistent?

For example, in the last 17 games, York won five straight, lost four straight, won four straight and has now lost four straight. This is what happens when you build around sluggers with poor on-base percentages. And even though Chris Ashby (pictured), Shea Hillenbrand and Kennard Jones have all helped reverse that trend, the Revs still need to work more on patience. For the year, the club has walked 293 times while striking out 461 times.

4) A below average bench

An Atlantic League bench is usually bare — mainly because signings or injuries force guys into action. But while York is unusually deep right now, that doesn’t mean the bench guys are quality players. Kaz Tanaka (.214, eight stolen bases) is little more than a pinch runner and while Luis Taveras (.214, five homers, 20 RBIs) handles pitchers well, he can’t stay healthy and doesn’t get on base with consistency.

Sam Rosario (pictured; .294 BA/.333 OBP) has played above expectations so far, but his defense has not been good. So if Kennard Jones happens to get signed, which one of these guys do you thrust into full-time duty? And do you really want Tanaka as an every-day player? Probably not. (Speaking of bench guys, the New Era’s Jason Guarente recently sat down with former Revolution emergency catcher Kevin Kotch).

5) York doesn’t get it done in the clutch

Sure, there have been dramatic wins this season. Matt Esquivel’s big walk-off hit in Bridgeport comes to mind. But as a whole, the Revs have truly struggled in close games — usually a situation in which real contenders excel.

York is 6-13 in one-run ballgames (including three straight losses at Southern Maryland to cap the first half) and 4-11 in two-run ballgames. This can be attributed to some of the bullpen’s recent struggles, but what about the hitters? Other than Esquivel and occasionally Jason Aspito, York’s hitters seem to struggle with the game on the line.

We’ll definitely see our share of slugfests down the stretch, but my guess is York finds itself in more close games than normal as the second half Freedom Division winner is decided. That doesn’t bode well for York.

*Padgett photo by Bill Kalina.

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3 Responses

  1. Interestingly enough, it seems like all five of these reasons to doubt York were on display during this last series before the break in Camden. It really would have been nice to have had some momentum going into the break, rather than limping into the break.

    I think one of the facets of the game which seperates Newark from York is defense, particularly up the middle with Newark having Bobby Hill at 2nd, Ramon Castro at SS, and Keith Reed in CF.

    York seems to have a knack for clutch defensive lapses such as the Hillenbrand offline throw in Camden that turned a potential double play and come-from-behind win into a loss Camden in this last series.

  2. Maybe York shold have traded away someone else before Kevin Kotch. Seems to be holding his own in Lancaster.

    The big talk before the season was how “Matt’s Row” was going to be so great. Let’s see Padgett .288, Esquivel .284, Dryer .232 (K’s do this row in)

    Talk about the bench. Should York really be holding onto someone like Kaz. I guess they have to until all those Kaz Mania shirts are sold in the First Capital Team Store.

    The bullpen just needs a few more guys like Olson, McCurdy.

    To bad Espy is retired. Jones, Cruz, Espy, Ashby, Aspito, Hilenbrand (Could be a deadly first 6 batters to face)

  3. Tanaka is a great guy and a brave man for coming to this country just for indy ball. But there’s no way he should have been brought back this year. He’s an incredible liability defensively — even when he’s playing in the short left field at Sovereign Bank Stadium — and his lack of playing time tells the whole story.

    He’s just not an everyday player at this level.

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