West Mich MLN: Ups and Downs in First Month

Every team in baseball, whether it be a Major League team or a farm team, has to admit that, over the course of a season, there are positives and negatives. However, if you are a Whitecaps fan, you've probably reached the point where the negatives are heavily outweighing the positives.

The 'Caps have found themselves holding 7th in the Eastern Division after a 2-5 week. The week has put them at 8-17 on the season. While many people have focused on the negatives of this team, such as fielding and hitting most recently, the team has seen a few bright spots, as well. After the first month of the season, it now seems appropriate to break down both aspects.

The Negatives

The biggest flaw that can be noted this season is the amount of hits (199) compared to runs scored (78). While the team has seen fairly consistent play out of CF Jamie Johnson and 1B Jordan Lennerton, overall, batting has been a detrimental problem for this team. Furthermore, the team continues to be at the bottom of the Midwest League in every major statistical category offensively.

The 'Caps have also struggled with fielding early in the season. 2B Hernan Perez has been anything but consistent in his ability to field early this season, leading the team with eight errors. As a whole, the Whitecaps have already had 23 errors on the season. 3B Wade Gaynor has also seen his share of struggles in fielding, producing six errors this year.

The Positives

A steady bright spot for West Michigan has been pitching. While RHP Jacob Turner (0-0, 1.00) hasn't been everything he was expected to be early in the season, mostly due to injury and conservative outings, the staff as a whole has been able to show up with relative consistency.

After a rough first outing, RHP Ramon Lebron (3-1, 3.32) has been pretty outstanding since, and has been a huge factor in keeping the team from holding last place in the division. While LHP Giovanni Soto (1-2, 2.59) may not have the record to show it, he has done a pretty good job of keeping his team in games. Soto's biggest problem has been that he hasn't been provided much run support early in the season. Even Turner has done fairly well in his two starts, holding teams to seven hits in nine innings of work.

While there are no statistics to show this, the way that 'Caps manager Joe DePastino has kept team morale up cannot be overlooked. After suffering through a poor start to the season, many teams would struggle to keep a positive attitude in the clubhouse.

But not DePastino's Whitecaps.

After every game, whether it's a win or loss, there are no heads down in the clubhouse, no complaints, no negative reaction. But there's also a serious tone. DePastino has said time and time again that he wants his players to have fun, while trying to win games. And, while that mentality hasn't played out in their favor so far, there is little to no doubt that it will play to their advantage later on in the year.

The upcoming schedule does not prove to be much easier for the 'Caps. The team has a three game road series against the Lake County Loons, who currently hold second place in the division at 16-8. The team then gets a break at home, facing a 5-19 Bowling Green team that holds last place in the division before facing a Lansing Lugnuts team that took three of four from the Whitecaps at home earlier this season.

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