The Brooklyn Cyclones were 14-32 at the end of the weekend, on pace for the fewest wins in team history.
Former Met All-Star and fan favorite Edgardo Alfonzo is in his first season as Cyclones manager after spending several seasons as a coach. His predecessor, Tom Gamboa, said that the toughest thing for new managers is how fast the game goes and how it can really speed up on a rookie skipper.
Fonzie didn’t disagree that the game can go fast but pointed to a different challenge. “Sometimes it does but the biggest thing and the toughest part is pitching-wise,” Alfonzo said after Brooklyn’s 3-2 loss to Lowell on Saturday.
There are pitching limits on Brooklyn pitchers. On nights, Alfonzo is allowed to use two or three or four pitchers, but can’t use his full bullpen like Terry Collins could if he wanted to. “It’s hard because if the first guy don’t get it that night, you have to realize, well, what are we going to do here? I think that’s the only hard thing about this league, or this level,” Alfonzo said.
Pitchers are also not allowed to pitch on back-to-back nights.
Mets first-round pick David Peterson is in Brooklyn, and pitched one inning so far. Unlike the last two seasons, when Brooklyn lost because of a scuffling offense despite quality pitching, this season has seen the pitching struggle as well. There are bright spots like Cannon Chadwick and his 0.51 ERA in 11 appearances, and Trey Cobb’s 1.15 ERA in 11 games.
But Brooklyn has some bloated numbers. Starter/reliever Trent Johnson has a 5.44 ERA in nine appearances. Keaton Aldridge had a 5.63 ERA in nine games.
Not counting Peterson, who pitched three innings, and Franklin Correa, an infielder who was pressed into pitching in one game, there are nine other pitchers with ERAs north of five.
When asked what his biggest surprise in managing his first 45 games was, the man with the most hits in Mets postseason history went back to the same topic.
“Pitching,” Alfonzo said. “It’s tough because you’ve got the newest draft guy and they need to throw, they need to be introduced to professional baseball.”
The bats have largely silenced by New York-Penn League pitching. Not counting Jeremy Vasquez, who has had seven at-bats, Walter Rasquin is the only .300 hitter on the Cyclones. Only three others are above .250, and none of those three are at .280 for Brooklyn.
While Alfonzo gets accustomed to managing, most of these players are playing professionally for the first time. Many were born around the time, if not a little after, Alfonzo made his debut with the Mets in April 1995. The modest manager said that not many Cyclones have asked about his playing days. “They can ask me,” Alfonzo said. “No, not too many guys. They don’t know what kind of player I was. And I don’t tell, I just be here as the manager and if they want to ask a question, I’d be willing to answer.”
Although younger players could be intimidated by approaching a manager, they would be well rewarded by asking Alfonzo about his career. Even if it’s not about the All-Star game and World Series, they can ask about working their way up the minors like he did.