2009 Johnson City Cardinals Team Review

The Johnson City Cardinals (37-30) finished in second place in the Appalachian League West Division and the third-best record in the league.

The Johnson City Cardinals (37-30) finished in second place in the Appalachian League West Division in 2009, seven and a half games behind the Elizabethton Twins (45-23).  Johnson City's 37-30 record was the third best in the Appy League, behind eventual champion Danville Braves (47-21) and the Twins. 

 

Johnson City put together a winning record for back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1995-1996 and won the most games in a single season since 1996 (42).  Here is a closer look inside the Cardinals 37-30 record:

 

Longest winning streak:  4 games (twice)

Longest losing streak:  4 games (once)

Record in 23 series:  15-8

Record in one-run games:  13-3

Series sweeps:  3

Swept:  Twice

Record against West Division:  22-16

Record against East Division:  15-14

Record against Elizabethton Twins:  6-5

Record against Danville Braves (Appy Champions):  1-5

Home record:  22-14

Road record:  15-16

 

Appalachian League All-Star Team

 

The votes were due by Noon on August 25 and the winners were announced that evening.  The Cardinals collected three of the team's 15 spots.  C Robert Stock, 3B Rich Racobaldo, and relief pitcher David Kington all were voted Appy All-Stars for 2009. 

 

All-Star Team Analysis

 

Acronyms: 

 

AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS is a "line" or batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage/on-base plus slugging percentage.  Sometimes, the "line" includes only the first three.  The bigger the numbers the better. 

 

AB is at-bat.  To be considered a league leader in the Appy League, a batter needed to maintain a minimum of 2.7 plate appearances per team-game.  That corresponds to roughly 160+ ABs. 

 

IP is innings pitched.  To be considered a league leader in the Appy League, a pitcher needed to maintain a minimum of 0.8 IP per team-game.  That corresponds to roughly 53 IP.  With a piggy-back or tandem starting pitching system, the maximum number of IP is roughly 59. 

 

K and SO are a strikeout. 

 

WHIP is walks plus hits per inning pitched.  The lower the better.  1.0 or below is considered very good. 

 

BAA is batting average allowed.  The lower the better since it is a pitching stat. 

 

SO/9 is strikeouts per nine innings pitched.  These are almost always higher for relievers.  The bigger the better.  

 

SV is a save.  The more the better. 

 

GO/AO is ground out per air out.  With the Cardinal organizational preference of pitchers "pitching to contact" with a good sinker, the bigger the GO/AO, the better.   A pitcher with a GO/AO of two or greater relies heavily on a sinker such as a slider, cut fastball, or 2-seam fastball. 

 

RISP is runners in scoring position (second or third base).  

 

Position by position:

 

Unfortunately, 1B Matt Adams (.365/.406/.574/.980 in 115 AB) ran up against a very strong group of Appy first basemen.   The top of that list included Player of the Year Riaan Spanjer-Furstenburg (.359/.411/.543/.953 in 234 AB) of the Danville Braves.  Adams' promotion to Batavia just past the middle of the season didn't help his cause.  However, Adams likely would have posted slightly better numbers than Spanjer-Furstenburg if he could have maintained his offensive output through the season.  Given Adam's very good performance in the New York-Penn League (.346/.394/.523/.917 in 130 AB), that seems probable. 

 

Rich Racobaldo (.408/.469/.592/.1.061 in 125 AB) had such a spectacular start to the Appy season that he won (tied with Pulaski Mariner 3B Vincent Catricala) despite an early promotion to Quad Cities.  His cause was helped by a relatively weak group of Appy third basemen and the fact that his name remained at the top of the league leaders for a couple of weeks after he left.  In fact, his name fell off the list just a few days before the votes were due.  Racobaldo struggled in the Midwest League (.234/.304/.371/.675 in 124 AB) but still posted a very good first-year two-level-combined line of .321/.389/.482/.871. 

 

Robert Stock (.322/.386/.550/.936) was a pretty easy pick for catcher with a relatively weak group in the Appy this year.  I analyzed the All-Star options based on games, at bats, and batting average.  19-year-old Fernando Cruz of the Burlington Royals posted the best fielding percentage (.995) and 18-year-old Miguel Gonzalez of the Bristol White Sox had the best caught-stealing percentage (35%).  Stock's offensive statistics were much better than Cruz's and Gonzalez's and the fielding (.985) and caught-stealing (12-for-41, 29%) percentages were not far off.  Stock cooled-off considerably at the end of the year after being promoted to Quad Cities (.095 AVG with 5 K in 21 AB). 

 

Dave Kington (2-1, 3.31 ERA, 8 SV, 1.04 WHIP, .169 BAA, 8.3 SO/9, 1.00 GO/AO in 16.1 IP) led the league in saves and that is what likely garnered him reliever of the year in the Appy.  However, if I could have voted for a Cardinal, Aaron Terry (6-0, 2.08 ERA, 6 SV, 0.96 WHIP, .170 BAA, 12.5 SO/9, 3.56 GO/AO in 26 IP) receives my vote.  Kington had a very good year and made the most of his opportunities.  Kington was injured late in the year and missed the last 12 games.  Terry received an end-of-season promotion to Batavia and struggled in two games pitched (2 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 1 HR, 1 K, .500 BAA). 

 

Ted Obregon (.268/.332/.377/.709) was a distant second to 2B Jose Altuve (.324/.408/.508/.916) of the Greeneville Astros.  Obregon struggled in the field with a .944 fielding percentage, mostly at 2B. 

 

Michael Swinson (.338/.425/.541/.966 in 74 AB), due to injury, just didn't have enough at bats (200+ AB for league leaders).  Swinson cooled-off after his promotion to Batavia, where he posted a .196/.279/.272/.551 line in 92 at bats. 

 

Justin Smith (1-1, 3.70 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, .198 BAA, 13.7 SO/9, 0.80 GO/AO in 24.1 IP) and Jesse Simpson (3-0, 1.24 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, .176 BAA, 8.7 SO/9, 2.35 GO/AO in 29 IP) didn't pitch enough innings in the Appy League (53+ IP for league leaders).  Both pitchers saw most of their statistics get a little bit worse in the New York-Penn League after their mid-season promotion to Batavia.  Smith (0-3, 4.50 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, .236 BAA, 12.2 SO/9, 0.76 GO/AO in 20 IP) led Batavia in SO/9 while Simpson (0-1, 2.78 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, .213 BAA, 11.9 SO/9, 1.92 GO/AO in 22.2 IP) significantly improved his SO/9 and finished third in the category for Batavia. 

 

Andy Moss, according to the way I reduced the field, was the best right-handed pitcher in the Appy League.  Moss (1-2, 1.32 ERA, 1 SV, 1.01 WHIP, .196 BAA, 7.9 SO/9, 1.64 GO/AO in 54.2 IP) had fewer total strikeouts (48) than winner Vito Frabizio (64 K in 70 IP, 8.2 SO/9) of the Bluefield Orioles but their strikeouts per nine innings were comparable.  Moss outperformed Frabizio in several significant statistical categories (ERA 1.32 vs. 2.96, BAA .196 vs. .223, GO/AO 1.64 vs. 1.26, and BAA w/RISP .213 vs. .240).  Both Moss and Frabizio got losses in rough New York-Penn League appearances after late season promotions.  Moss allowed eight hits and seven earned runs over 4.2 IP (.421 BAA) while Frabizio allowed seven hits and six earned runs over 3 IP (.467 BAA). 

 

Roster Changes and Injuries

 

The roster saw a total of 19 batters and 21 pitchers (40 players) during the 2009 season.  11 batters and 11 pitchers played exclusively for Johnson City. 

 

Two of the eight batters that played for more than one level skipped over Batavia when they were promoted from Johnson City to Quad Cities (Rich Racobaldo and Robert Stock).  Racobaldo was promoted mid-season while Stock was promoted near the end of the year.  Since most of their ABs were with Johnson City, they will both be eligible for Johnson City Player of the Year honors.

 

Two of the eight batters that played for more than one level were promoted from Johnson City to Batavia near the middle of the Johnson City season (Matt Adams and Michael Swinson).  Since most of their ABs were with Batavia, they will both be eligible for Batavia Player of the Year honors. 

 

One of the eight batters (Hector Alvarez) started out at Batavia (two games) but was bumped down to Johnson City due to a glut of infielders at Quad Cities and Batavia following the late signing of 2B Jason Stidham and the move of 3B Alan Ahmady away from his 1B draft position.

 

Three of the eight batters that played for more than one level were promoted from the Gulf Coast League (GCL) Cardinals to Johnson City at mid-season (Jonathan Rodriguez, Kleininger Teran, and Joey Hage).  Rodriguez had most of his ABs for the GCL while Teran and Hage are eligible for Johnson City Player of the Year honors.

 

Two of the ten pitchers that played for more than one level were promoted from Johnson City to Batavia just past the middle of the Johnson City season (Justin Smith and Jesse Simpson).  Since most of their IPs were with Johnson City, they will both be eligible for Johnson City Pitcher of the Year honors.

 

Two of the ten pitchers that played for more than one level were promoted from Johnson City to Batavia at the end of the Johnson City season (Andy Moss and Aaron Terry).  Since most of their IPs were with Johnson City, Moss will be eligible for Johnson City Pitcher of the Year honors while Terry will be eligible for Johnson City Reliever of the Year honors.

 

Two of the ten pitchers that played for more than one level were promoted from the Gulf Coast League (GCL) Cardinals to Johnson City at mid-season (Cale Johnson and Zach Russell).  Most of Johnson's IPs were with Johnson City so Johnson will be eligible for Johnson City Pitcher of the Year honors.  Most of Russell's IPs were with the GCL Cardinals so Russell will be eligible for GCL Pitcher of the Year honors.

 

One of the ten pitchers (Pablo Ortiz) started out at Johnson City (five games, 13.1 IP) but missed his scheduled start on Monday July 20 due to weakness in his shoulder and elbow.  Ortiz rehabbed in Jupiter, FL, was bumped down to the GCL, and made one appearance for the GCL Cardinals on Friday August 28.  Ortiz allowed one run on two hits and a walk over one inning pitched.  Since most of Ortiz's IPs were with Johnson City, he will be eligible for Johnson City Pitcher of the Year honors.

 

Three of the ten pitchers that played for more than one level were promoted from the Gulf Coast League (GCL) Cardinals to Johnson City near the end of the season (Angel De Jesus, Patrick Daugherty, and Keith Butler).  Most of their IPs were with the GCL Cardinals so they will be eligible for GCL Pitcher/Reliever of the Year honors.

 

Batters Eligible for Johnson City Player of the Year (16):  Rich Racobaldo, Luis Mateo, Robert Stock, Rainel Rosario, Ted Obregon, Yunier Castillo, Audry Perez, Kleininger Teran, Edgar Lara, Hector Alvarez, Ross Smith, Travis Tartamella, Matt Rigoli, Joey Hage, CJ Beatty, and Romulo Ruiz. 

 

Pitchers Eligible for Johnson City Pitcher of the Year (11):  Andy Moss, Anthony Ferrara, Randy Santos, Chris Notti, Reynier Gonzalez, Michael Thompson, Jesse Simpson, John Durham, Cale Johnson, Justin Smith, and Pablo Ortiz. 

 

Pitchers Eligible for Johnson City Reliever of the Year (6):  Jose Rada, Aaron Terry, Jason Novak, Travis Lawler, Kyle Heim, and David Kington. 

 

Injuries:  At least ten of the forty players lost playing time either in the field or at the plate during the season.   

 

Pablo Ortiz (2-0, 6.75 ERA), a starting tandem pitcher, missed about 75% of the year due to weakness in his shoulder and elbow. 

 

CJ Beatty (.175, 2 HR), an outfielder, bruised his elbow just a few games into the year.  Beatty was restricted to DH after just two games on defense.  Beatty then injured his right hand/wrist on a strikeout in his first at bat on August 4.  The injury required surgery.  Beatty missed over 70% of the season due to the injuries.  Beatty began his rehab in Jupiter, FL and reported on September 10 that he was scheduled to start throwing again on September 11 and that he was getting in a few "dry swings (with a bat)".  

 

Romulo Ruiz (.134, 5 HR), a 3B/1B/DH, missed all of the 2008 season due to labrum surgery.  Ruiz missed 12 games (about 20% of the season) due to a hamstring injury in early July.  Ruiz returned to play three games at third base in mid July but really struggled with his throws.  Ruiz finished the season playing 12 games at first base and 17 games as the DH. 

 

Michael Swinson (.338, 6 SB), an outfielder, had a wrist injury that forced him to miss 14 games (just over 20% of the season) in early July. 

 

Luis Mateo (.344), a second baseman, suffered a hamstring injury on July 12 that was re-injured during warm-ups on July 23.  Mateo missed over 50% of the season before returning to the lineup as the third baseman on August 25.   

 

Rainel Rosario (.272), an outfielder, missed a little over 50% of the season due to some kind of blood clot or cyst above his right knee that forced him to return to Jupiter, FL from July 10 until early August for rehab. 

 

Matt Adams (.365), a first baseman, missed one game in mid-July due to chest pains suffered during warm-ups prior to the game.  A precautionary hospital visit presumably addressed all the medical concerns since Adams was back in the starting lineup the next night. 

 

Jonathan Rodriguez (.250), a first baseman, twisted his right ankle when he got in a rundown between first and second base on August 13.  Rodriguez missed four games at the plate and five games in the field. 

 

David Kington (2-1, 3.31 ERA, 8 SV), the Appy League Relief Pitcher of the Year, missed the last 12 games of the season due to an unspecified injury. 

 

Matt Rigoli (.179), a 3B/1B/DH, was hit by a pitch in his left forearm/wrist/hand area on August 27.  The injury forced Rigoli to miss the last five games of the year. 

 

Tandem Starting Pitchers

 

Listed below were the pairings for Johnson City in 2009.

 

RHP Reynier Gonzalez and RHP Andy Moss

RHP Cale Johnson (replaced Pablo Ortiz) and RHP Angel De Jesus (replaced Jesse Simpson)

RHP Chris Notti and RHP Zach Russell (replaced Justin Smith)

LHP Anthony Ferrara and RHP Michael Thompson

RHP Randy Santos and LHP Patrick Daugherty (replaced John Durham)

 

Team Hitting

 

A review of the team league leaders showed that Johnson City, the second youngest team in the Appy League, hit 65 home runs (2nd).  The offense was second in slugging (.417) and was third in wins (37), doubles (122), and on-base plus slugging (.749).  The Cardinal hitters were ninth out of ten in triples (12), strikeouts (562), and stolen bases (54).  They were last in sacrifice bunts (10).  Their team batting average (.260, 5th) fell for five weeks in a row to end the season. 

 

Team Pitching

 

The pitchers, the second oldest in the league on average, finished tied for first in the league in shutouts (6).  They were the only team to not record a single balk during the season.  They finished second in SO/BB (2.85).  They finished third in the league in strikeouts (552) and SO/9 (8.8).  The Cardinal pitchers, due to their tandem starting pitcher system, led the league in holds (26) and finished 11 holds in front of second place.  The pitchers finished ninth in hit batters (49).  Johnson City led the league with 71 wild pitches.  They were fourth through eighth in all other pitching categories.  The team ERA (4.34, 7th) and walks plus hits per inning pitched or WHIP (1.37, 7th) both improved each of the last three weeks of the year.   

 

Team Fielding

 

Johnson City finished fifth in fielding percentage (.960).  They committed 100 errors in 67 games.  The catchers only allowed 10 passed balls (9 was the league low) however, they were last in catching base stealers (20%) and were well below the league average (32%).  The catchers also contributed to the pitchers league lead in wild pitches. 

 

Individual (Top Ten) League Leaders

 

Pitching

 

Andy Moss:  1st in ERA (1.32), 4th in WHIP (1.01), 10th in holds (2).

Aaron Terry:  2nd in saves (6), 3rd in wins (6), 3rd in games (21), 5th in games finished (12).

Jose Rada:  1st in games (23), 3rd in holds (3), 6th in wins (5). 

David Kington:  1st in saves (8), 1st in games finished (17), 8th in games (19). 

Michael Thompson:  1st in holds (5).

Travis Lawler:  3rd in holds (3). 

Zach Russell:  10th in holds (2).

Chris Notti:  10th in holds (2).

Jason Novak:  10th in holds (2).

Angel De Jesus:  10th in holds (2).

 

Hitting

 

Edgar Lara:  1st in games (64), 7th in doubles (16), 5th in home runs (9), 10th in walks (26).

Ross Smith:  8th in games (61),

Audry Perez:  5th in home runs (9).

 

 

Also in this series: "2009 Gulf Coast League Cardinals Team Review"

 

 

Follow Shawn on Twitter http://twitter.com/stkerrick. E-mail Shawn at stkerrick@gmail.com.

 

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