This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Not much went right for the Salt Lake Bees in 2011 on or off the field.
It was not the worst win-loss season for Triple-A baseball in Utah that came in 2004. But from the beginning, the Bees struggled to score runs, eventually setting franchise records for consecutive home losses as well as home losses in a season.
Off the field, miserable April snow and rain ultimately contributed to the franchise's lowest ever attendance average.
On the positive side, Salt Lake hosted the Triple-A All-Star Game, which drew national attention and was aired on the MLB Network.
On Tuesday night, the Bees used the bat of Efren Navarro and the pitching of Matt Palmer to break a six-game losing streak, defeating Colorado Springs 6-2 at a rain-soaked Spring Mobile Ballpark. Navarro drove in three runs, while Palmer allowed one run in six innings.
Salt Lake (60-78) enjoyed just one winning month in 2011, ironically, in April when playing conditions were least desirable. The Bees were 12-10.
"The pitching has not been overly steady or dependable that last two seasons, and that has absolutely been my fault, 100 percent," Los Angeles Angels minor league director Abe Flores said. "We pick these guys. The coaches are frustrated because they think it is a reflection of their coaching job. It's not."
Salt Lake's pitching staff, a patchwork of youth and veterans that included five pickups from independent baseball, ranks near the bottom of the PCL in earned-run average. Of the five, Ryan Ketchner was eventually released, while Jerome Williams earned a call-up to the Angels.
The Bees also ranked 12th of 16 teams in run production and were second-to-last in home runs.
"We're trying to put information in front of these guys," first-year Salt Lake manager Keith Johnson said. "They have to go out and execute. We're trying to put them in positions to succeed and we've had guys who have had great years.
"But for a baseball team, those outs, getting the kind of ground-ball outs and getting that runner home with less than two outs have kind of eluded us."
Lacking power Jeff Baisley is the Bees' lone player with at least 20 home runs Salt Lake could not manufacture runs. A third of the everyday players were either released from teams in 2010 or veteran free agents.
Of the handful of prospects, only Jeremy Moore and Navarro, a 50th-round pick in the major league draft, have improved as the year has dragged toward its conclusion. Navarro hit all 12 of his homers after July 2 and was the best fielding first baseman in the PCL.
Moore became only the second player since 1958 in Triple-A to have at least 15 homers (15), triples (16), doubles (23) and stolen bases (20).
"It's tough to win that way," Johnson said. "You battle to put guys in scoring position, and then [the opposition] would pop a two-run homer. It's been one of those years that is coming down to the end. There's no use crying."
Thanks to a new playing surface, Salt Lake lost only four games to weather. Salt Lake drew 45,520 spectators to its first 16 home games, compared with 43,685 for its first six dates in 2010. Salt Lake averaged 6,393 this year as compared to 7,293 in 2010.
"Our entire decline has been from the spring," Salt Lake general manager Marc Amicone said. "Who is going to come out when it is 32 degrees with snow flurries? Given the spring, it's been a pretty positive year, including the festivities with the All-Star Game. It was a good year that way. We received some wonderful publicity."
Amicone acknowledged that the product on the field may have also kept some fans away. But he has no complaint with the team's relationship with the Angels. It was the Bees' first losing season since the franchise was purchased by the Larry H. Miller Group.
For Los Angeles, winning and player development go hand in hand.
"[Player development] never works in cycles in my mind," Flores said. "We want to hand out [championship] rings every year. I can't simulate the PCL playoffs. You can't simulate the pressure of having to win or go home. For us, that's playing in the big leagues."
Bees 6, Sky Sox 2
R Salt Lake snaps a 6-game losing skid.
• Efren Navarro has three RBIs and extends his hitting streak to 12 games.