The Biscuits lost one of their top relief pitchers Sunday when the Devil Rays promoted left-hander Jeff Ridgway to Class AAA Durham. The Rays are demoting lefty Jason Cromer, a starter the last two seasons in Montgomery, from the Bulls.
Are we about to see a repeat of 2005?
Last year, almost to the day, the first-place Biscuits started losing players key players en masse.
May 26: starting pitcher Chris Seddon (6-1, 4.82 ERA) to Durham -- the Biscuits dropped out of first place that day for the first time in three weeks,
May 29: stopper Chad Orvella (nine saves, 0.36 ERA) to Tampa Bay -- the Biscuits stayed 1 1/2 games back,
June 9: second baseman Fernando Cortez (.333 average, 39 runs, 23 RBIs) to Durham -- the Biscuits were in fourth, 2 1/2 back, and in the midst of a five-game losing streak that nixed any first-half title hopes.
The Biscuits failed to even have a winning record in the first half and finished in fourth place. They were toast in the second half and crossed the finish line 12 1/2 games out of first.
Montgomery is set up for the same again this year.
Kudos to Ridgway, who has revitalized a career after missing all of 2002 with arm problems and threw only 80 innings combined the last two years. He deserves to be promoted after bowling over Southern League hitters (10 hits allowed, 19 1/3 innings) and I know the minor leagues are for player development.
Without him, the Biscuits still have a chance of catching pennant fever -- unless the Rays start stripping the team again.