TigsTown MLN: 'Caps Cha-Cha-Changes

"It's a simple game: You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball." Now let's not throw out the "lollygaggers" comment by Skip from Bull Durham just yet. But it is true, West Michigan is certainly making this more complicated than needed.

Let's start with the good. The ‘Caps are sitting in third place— just five games back of first place Lansing—due to the sweep of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers this past week. With a week and a half of road games under way, things aren't as bad as they seem. Today they kick off their first game against Quad City, who they are 2-1 on the season against. Things might be interesting against Kane County (53-51) though. Kane Country proved to be a thorn in the ‘Caps' heel last series as they took two out of three games. The last game was rained out.

West Michigan rounds out their road trip, August 5, against Great Lakes for a three game battle that they are favored to win, since leading the season series 5-2 against the last place Loons.

Many changes, however, have come to the Whitecaps this past week. Big hitter Chris Carlson made his way back to the ‘Caps July 23 from the disabled list. Carlson's last game was during the All Star game June 17 in Midland, where he injured his left hand after being hit by a pitch. His big stick is needed more than ever now. The return of Carlson meant the leave of Hayden Parrott as well July 23. He joined Oneonta the second time this season after hitting .200 with one home run and six RBI for the Whitecaps.

Three days later (July 26) Rudy "The Arrow" Darrow was promoted to Double-A Erie. The ‘Caps will surely miss his strong arm coming from the ‘pen. In a surprise move Brandon Douglas was assigned to Oneonta as well. After winning the Midwest Player of the Week award this comes as quite a surprise for the ‘Caps, but could mean good things for the young shortstop, who will have plenty of time to grow in the farm system.

Making a return to West Michigan from Oneonta is right-handed pitcher Orlando Perdomo, who was a member of the 2006 Whitecaps Midwest League Championship team. He missed all over last year, however, with an injury.

Outfielders Keith Stein and Chris White have also been promoted from Oneonta to provide good depth on the roster.

With the good news of Carlson, one would think something bad was around the corner—that's just how this season has been for West Michigan. The bad came when the Tigers promoted ace Alfredo Figaro to High-A Lakeland July 26. El As de Victorias (The Ace of Victories) he most certainly was. The Dominican Republic native marked his stay with the ‘Caps at a phenomenal 12-2 record—a standing six game winning streak—and a 2.05 ERA in 19 starts. May 5 he was awarded Midwest Player of the Week and made the East All Star squad for the 2008 Midwest League All Star game.

Though his promotion is well deserved, it's going to be hard not having his golden arm throwing high 90s fastballs and killer curves from the hill.

With the loss of Figaro, Kibler is next in line to be the ‘Caps' great hope. The southpaw's towering 6'5, 210 frame certainly personifies what a dominant pitcher should look like. The only question now is: Can he fill Figaro's shoes? So far on the season he's 10-4 with a 1.81 ERA. Most people think he can, but only time will tell.

Injuries continue to plague this team. However, good offensive performances are few and the defense is average at most. It's obvious the first half ‘Caps are gone. What we are left with now is quite undetermined. Again, only time will tell.

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