This semi-regular column will be Trenton's counterpart to The Cat's Mewlings, with updates on the state of the Trenton Traffic.
It's been an interesting start to the season, as we currently sit 18-15, 3 games back of the vaunted Atlanta Bandits. Management contemplated setting dynamite and hitting the plunger, but opted to re-tool for what could very well be one last run, as many key players are in the final year of their contracts (notably David Dunwoody and Dwight Salmon).
Most of the veterans spent the entire offseason on the trading block- reactions have been varied. In the lineup, Stephen Mills and Vasco Lopez have come out swinging in the middle of the lineup (Lopez already has more homers than he did all of last season), but Cap Herrera is struggling in the #3 hole. The other veteran off to a slow start is LF Rico Valdes, who may finally be starting to slow down after jumpstarting the offense last season when he was plugged into the lineup.
The pitching staff has been another story- that story is Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde. Dunwoody hasn't looked as good as he did last season when he placed second in the Cy Young voting, but he's been solid. Salmon is having a bounceack season, and Jason Sprague has been solid. On the other hand, free-agent signing Woody Hiller has been bad (1-6, 5.05). I have had to come out and publicly state there is no truth to the rumor circulating Trenton that the first 5,000 fans to show up for our first home game after the road trip (against Fargo) can try out before the game to take Damion Mays's spot in the rotation. The bullpen is a similar story- Bernie Corino regained the closer's role after Quinton Hughes left and has done a great job, and Matty Eusebio and Dan Linden have been solid. But usual stalwarts Pablo Rojas and Karl Coleman have been shaky and the Will Piper experiment appears to be blowing up in our face.
All in all, fan reaction has been mixed to the start. Some fans look at the bright side, saying that essentially the same group struggled early in the season and then turned it on a little after the All-Star break. Some fans aren't happy that we seem to lose some games we feel we should win, especially when we jump out to an early lead. Hard to say where this season is going. Stay tuned.