THEY can hit. Oh my, the 2009 Winnipeg Goldeyes can hit.
And they can pitch, mostly.
Put it all together, add a 5-2 win Tuesday night and the Fish are atop the Northern League standings this morning with a 7-3 record.
With 10 games now behind them, some assessments of this Goldeyes squad can be offered.
Here’s what we love, what we like and what still needs improvement:
WHAT’S BEEN GREAT
Hitting — The Goldeyes headed into last night’s game hitting a leagueleading .305 as a team. That’s completely unsustainable, of course, but it does suggest that all the offensive potential this team shows on paper is already translating on the field.
Dustin Richardson — The Goldeyes catcher, who missed most of last season with a skull fracture sustained in a freak accident, has been sensational. He was hitting .438, fourth-best in the Northern League heading into last night, has been great defensively and is calling some good games behind the plate. What’s more, he says he thinks he can do better. "I set pretty high standards for myself," Richardson said Tuesday.
"Right now, I’m just trying to stay level-headed."
Wes Long — The Goldeyes’ shortstop had the unenviable task this spring of replacing longtime fan favourite Max Poulin at short.
And already fans are forgetting Poulin. Long has been great at the plate, never Poulin’s strong suit, and was hitting .405 heading into last night with eight RBI and seven runs scored.
And defensively? Perfect so far. Long has yet to commit an error in the field.
WHAT’S BEEN GOOD
Pitching — The numbers say the Fish staff has been unremarkable — they sported a fourth-best team ERA of 4.34 heading into Tuesday night.
But they’ve looked better than average on the field.
They’ve had decent outings from starters Bear Bay, Daniel Haigwood, Ben Pfinsgraff and Ace Walker. The bullpen has been even better, with Aaron Odom and Derek Feldkamp doing good work in the later innings and Chris Homer setting the table for closer Matt Davis, who’s seen lots of action already and sports a 11 record, with two saves.
Juan Diaz — Diaz was brought in this spring to drive in runs and he’s done a decent job thus far. He has eight RBI and has a .343 batting average, which tells you he’s been making good contact. And that, Diaz says, bodes well for the weeks and months to come.
"If I am making good contact," Diaz said Tuesday, "the home runs will come. They will come soon."
Diaz has hit two long balls through the first 10 games.
WHAT NEEDS WORK
Defence — The Goldeyes have put 11 errors up on the board, an average of more than one per game. That’s simply too high and will have to get better.
Weather — The Goldeyes have missed just one game due to weather — a perfect storm in Kansas City on opening night that lacked just the four horsemen to complete the experience. But although the games have mostly gotten off, game-day weather has been awful nonetheless — frigid, rainy and just generally craptacular.