MLN: The 'Hens Getting Plucked

The Toledo Mud Hens have managed a week-long hold of first place in the West Division and continue to edge closer to the best record in the International League. But one must wonder how long the Hens can maintain their current dominance with a surprising number of pitchers and hitters being called up the big leagues everyday.

I understand that the point of the Minor Leagues is to prove a player has what it takes but give the Toledo Mud Hen fans a break! After pre-season trades left the Tigers Triple-A affiliate in a bit of a jam the Mud Hens have enjoyed surprising success as both old and new additions stepped up to the plate to provide some support (both figuratively and metaphorically). Not content on leaving things the way they are in Detroit the Tigers have had to call on their prospects for help several times already, making DJDJD transactions within the first 40 days of the season.

The latest addition to the Tigers by way of the Mud Hens is OF Matt Joyce who was promoted on Monday, May 5. Joyce was enjoying a successful year with the Hens hitting .299 and knocking out five with 21 RBI in 28 games. Aside from the productive numbers the Tigers were in need of a left-handed bat after releasing Jacque Jones and Joyce fit the bill. Joyce is naturally an outfielder but will be given an opportunity to DH as the Tigers attempt to assemble an outfield consisting of Sheffield , Granderson and Ordonez.

Another Mud Hen to join the ranks of the Tigers outfield is Ryan Raburn who was promoted a couple days into the season after hitting .316 in the first 5 games. Thus far Raburn has enjoyed moderate success with his new team hitting .238 with a homerun and four RBI in 21 AB striking out five times and walking four.

As for pitching promotions it was to no ones surprise the Tigers promoted RP Francisco Cruceta on May 10. Cruceta, who made quick work of minor league batters striking out fifteen in seven innings while posting a 0.71 ERA has made three relief appearances for the Tigers. SP Armando Galarraga who was 2-0 with a .225 ERA in two starts in Toledo was called up on May 16 to fill in for injured SP Dontrelle Willis. Galarraga, in return for the opportunity has posted a 2-1 record with a 1.88 ERA in four starts and has been nominated for MLB's Rookie of the Month Award.

As a whole the Mud Hens have seen their fair share of roster changes due to promotions and I do emphasize that this is a good thing. If changes must be made to a minor league roster I would always hope it is to because some kid is getting his "big shot".

For local Mud Hens fans that are hopping for continued success and roster stability I would suggest one of two things, either get ready for a "musical chairs" season or pray that some of the Mud Hens players stop playing so well! With the current hot streak one must wonder how long it will be before Tiger brass starts calling for prospects like 1B Jeff Larish (.280 AVG, 9 HR, 27 RBI), 3B Mike Hessman (league leader in almost all offensive categories) SP Eddie Bonine (league best 6-0 record) and Closer Blaine Neal (.75 ERA, 18 K in 12.1 IP and a league best 11 saves). My guess is that it will probably be sooner than later.


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