By Mike Harrington
(For Amy Moritz's blog post on the Anthony Gose-less lineup for tonight's Bisons-Charlotte game, go to this link)
I had a quick chat late this afternoon after batting practice with Charlie Wilson, the Blue Jays' director of minor-league operations, to get some updated thoughts on the Bisons. Naturally, he was naturally thrilled with the way the club has thrived offensively.
"From an offensive standpoint, it's been really, really fun to watch," Wilson said. "The highlight, the most exciting game was following the game online in Syracuse where we put up 27 runs. Jimmy Negrych has had a great first six weeks but so has everybody else. You go around the whole diamond and everybody is contibuting in so many ways."
While the Bisons continue to lead the league in batting (.287) and home runs (51) and are second in runs (233), their pitching has been crumbling. The team ERA of 4.91 is second-last in the IL and would be the second-worst in franchise history if the season ended today. The starters have an ERA of 8.09 in May.
"Everybody is going to have a bad turn now and then," Wilson said. "You look to [Saturday] and you were hoping a guy like Claudio Vargas could go 6-7 innings. He didn't there but he's had 4-5 good ones before. There's no concern, no fear."
There's not a lot the Blue Jays could have done here. Josh Johnson and J.A. Happ are out with injuries and Ricky Romero is with the Bisons due to ineffectiveness. Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchinson are on the road back from Tommy John surgery and Marcus Stroman, a No. 1 pick in 2011, just made his debut at Double-A New Hampshire after serving a 50-day suspension for use of a banned stimulant. Chad Jenkins and Ramon Oritz have been summoned to Toronto.
"I think the staff will be great and who know how long Jenkins and Ortiz will be in Toronto," Wilson said. "Maybe those guys come back at some point. Thad Weber [claimed on waivers from San Diego] is here now and that's an added plus for the rotation."
Veteran Dave Bush, who gave up nine runs in his last outing, goes tonight. Ricky Romero, with an 9.82 ERA in two starts, makes his home debut tomorrow. Interestingly, Wilson declined comment when asked about Romero and referred any inquiries on his situation to Dane Johnson, the Jays' minor-league pitching coordinator.