Returning to Work without Brosseau

Perth heat celebrate walk off win during Game 1 between the Perth Heat and Adelaide Bite in the Australian Baseball League held at the Perth Harley Davidson Ballpark on December 8th, 2017 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by James Worsfold/ SMP Images)
(Photo by James Worsfold/ SMP Images)

The holidays are over and most of Perth is back to work this week. Or at least until Australia Day! The Heat will also be back at work following another series win this time three games to one over Adelaide in a 5-3 Sunday win. Yet, the weekend has that dark cloud looming over it with the loss of Mike Brosseau to a broken bone in his finger on top of his hand.

There are times in this game where you remember where you where when you received the news or discovered something that would change the roster in a way that could reshape how the baseball season goes. Those monumental shifts are most the time pretty easy to notice and hit you like a punch in the gut.  Paul and I were in the hotel (the legend of the Akabar) with the Bite Broadcast crew when I met up with Andy Kyle to give me the news. It was a punch in the gut for all of us and the look on Andy’s face was one of pain for Mike and the entire club.

I mentioned on the air over the weekend how it felt when the Kansas City T-Bones lost their #1 starter last season with just under four weeks to play.  The news shook the organization to the core yet baseball had to go on. Kansas City would fight for a three way tie and second best record in franchise history but the loss of the ace and his last three starts were the difference in the post season as the club perhaps playing the best in the league lost the tie breaker and did not play post season baseball.

I am convinced had the T-Bones not lost the former White Sox Scott Carroll to the Chicago Cubs AAA club that Winnipeg would have not won the American Association.  There was a feeling on the club on the bus and in the change room at that time that the team was on the road to something special. While it was special record wise it fell short of a premiership and it left the team with a feeling of unfinished business.

Last Friday the Heat’s fortunes in the 17-18 Australian Baseball League took a huge hit when Mike Brosseau was hit by a Nate Hutchens pitch in the fifth inning of a 17-10 win. The “Indiana Man” was on his way to another great night at the plate and was 2-for-2 when he was plunked. It was the second time the Heat lost an import to a hit by pitch. The first came in game one of a double header with Adelaide on 9 December when the now departed Max Beatty of the Bite hit Zac Law in the head. What is different this time is that was on borrowed time. The Heat were already working on life without the Texan as he was due to be married after the first of the year. He was scheduled to play the rest of that series and the final series before Christmas and then return home. The brass had already started working on options for how the club would go about their business without Law.

7-1-18-adelaide

The plan to fill that roll has actually gone pretty well. At the time Law was hitting at a .333 clip (10th in the ABL at the time) and was second in homers with three. That coming from a position that if you can get .250 you feel pretty good and if you get over .300 with pop you feel dang good! Alex Hall took the defensive reigns full time and the club has not missed a beat. Hall was third in the ABL defensively behind the plate. He trails veterans Allan de San Miguel of Melbourne and Robbie Perkins of Canberra.  Teams just don’t run on him and the pitching staff as they have teamed up for the fewest attempts by any opponent in the league. He is calling and catching game with authority that you don’t see from youngsters very often. On the 10th of December Hall was batting .175 but since taking over full time he has jumped up 42 points to .217. Three of the four homers for Hall have come since then and he has 12 RBIs in the 13 games since taking over. The biggest number is that the club has won despite losing Law.  The club swept the double header on the 9th of December and have fashioned a 10-5 record since that weekend and sit firmly in second a game and half behind Brisbane plus own the tie breaker with Canberra who sit three game behind Perth but in reality four games.

LEADING CATCHERS
(Minimum Fielding: # of games played by a catcher must
equal or be greater than 0.5*team games)
CATCHER CLUB CS SB ATT PCT
de San Miguel, Allan Melbourne 5 6 11 .455
Perkins, Robbie Canberra 6 13 19 .316
Hall, Alex Perth 3 7 10 .300

This time things are different in the loss of Brosseau. It is safe to say that the club was caught off guard and also is working against a time frame that makes replacing Mike nearly impossible.  Brisbane and Canberra just got that much better. Let’s be honest you don’t lose the best in the league and it not hurt the Heat. The Bite bullpen should get plenty of thank you notes from fans back east in the ACT and Queensland but the Heat and the league competitive balance did shift. It does not mean the Heat are done and I believe that is far from the case.

7-1-18-ade

Unlike Kansas City here is where the Heat I believe will not only survive and thrive with depth. The early theme of the Heat season was “where would the at bats come from?” At the time it seemed that the club had a stockpile of bats to use. Remember in Melbourne in round one there was no Tim Kennelly, Robbie Glendinning was not home, Ulrich Bojarski had yet to play a game at Matt Kennelly was not on the radar. In the pitching department Warwick Saupold, Joe Van Meter and Jake Baker were not on the list until really now. The club  has seen their once deep roster being put to the test. Paul and I talked at length about how a collective unit will have to cover for Brosseau. That is what the club will have to do. The alarm is sounding but the depth will carry this club.

Perth General Manager Lachlan Dale and Manager Andy Kyle were busy over the weekend working the phones. TBA has learned that baring any major last second development the plan going forward is that the club will not be bringing anyone in.  The time frame is just too late and the Heat will circle  the wagons and fight on. There is plenty of really good going on right now. Jesse Williams looks to be developing right in front of our eyes (11th in average at .320 and 20 RBI in 15 games) He is having the kind of send off “Bojo” had last season and maybe even better? As we mentioned Alex Hall is starting to hit and the move of Williams to second will help him in a more natural spot.  Jake Fraley changes the game like no other player in the league right now his speed and 25 stolen bases. Tim Kennelly is set to join the Heat again this weekend and he along with Luke Hughes should be a force. Garrett Whitley is warming up as well and is getting on base at a .400 clip. Matt Dixon is starting to contribute on the cult hero level of Jesse Barron a few years back and Jake Bowey is the Matt Kennelly starter kit.

7-1-18-ade-4

The biggest thing the club needs might be innings in games three and four of a series and that solution might lie in the arm of Matt Kennelly? The veteran and former skipper is only available for home games but the Heat have two home series remaining plus the hope of some games or a game at home at Perth Harley-Davidson Ballpark in the post season.  In a Talking Baseball exclusive on life after Mike Brosseau  Heat GM Lachy Dale tells us what the plan is going forward for the Heat.  Listen in below on our Sound Cloud Chanel.

Again, this thing is not built on the Rays, or the youth or the veterans of the Heat. The club is built on all three and this team is not where they are now if not for all three equal parts. Those parts will step up and do what they have done all year. Too much has gone right for it not to continue.

We also had a chat to Mike Brosseau before he flew out last night. He sat down and talked about his time in Perth, the team and his time table to get ready for his season with the Rays organisation.  This exclusive from “Baseball’s Best Mate” is right here on Sound Cloud below.

We will have our weekly podcast back this week as we get you set for Round 8 of the ABL and ready for our call of the entire series on Baseball’s Best Mate Talking Baseball Australia.

DV

7-1-18-ade-2