Loons Preview of the Second Half

If one were to peruse the occurrences of the first half of the season for the Great Lakes Loons, they would come away with a feeling of drama: a lot of good and a much that needs work.

Manager Lance Parrish made it apparent in several conversations that the initial focus was on player development, these young players will make mistakes, hopefully they will learn from them, and that the focus should not be on wins and losses.

However, for the second half, Parrish is taking a more competitive philosophy. "I expect this team to be a lot better than they were in the first half," Parrish said. "I see no reason at all why we cannot contend for a division title."

Offensively, the Loons are giving Lou E. Loon, the mascot, much to jump around about. Take for example, Eduardo Perez who is eight in the Midwest league in batting average (.321) and currently leads the club with eight long balls.

Preston Mattingly has seen his average jump in the last month from an "oh my gosh, that's not cool" .171 to .250. And let's not forget Josh Bell who at the end of the month of May set a franchise record with a 15 game hitting streak and, though has cooled as of late offensively, is looking poised to go on an offensive tear in the second half.

As I mentioned before, the Loons have many areas in which they need work. Bell is still struggling defensively with a team lead 21 errors at third base.

Mattingly, whose nickname was "E6" when he was playing at shortstop has since moved to second base, and though he seems to be more comfortable at that spot, has illustrated some of the many defensive flaws he showcased at the shortstop position.

Overall, the team is second in the Midwest league with 101 errors, a number that must decrease if they hope to be competitive in the second half.

When it comes to the Loons pitching staff, there are few better anchors than Clayton Kershaw (7-2, 1.89) and Cody White (7-5, 2.89). I would bet five dollars (a hypothetical bet since I do not have five dollars), one of these two will be moved up in the next month or so.

Garret White (1-4) has looked pretty good in his first two starts since moving from the bullpen and should prove an adequate replacement if Kershaw or White is promoted.

And speaking of the bullpen, Great Lakes have recently run into trouble trying to find a reliever that can get guys out. Aside from closer Miguel Ramirez, there is not one arm who has an ERA under 4.50.

Look for the Dodgers organization to do a lot of shuffling between Ogden and the Great Lakes Loons in the coming months because it appears there will be a lot of coming and going between the two teams.

So can the Loons win the second half title? They definitely have the ability to do just that but will have to improve substantially in the bullpen and on the defensive end of the equation. But what do I know? I'm just a writer who doesn't even have five dollars in his pocket.

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