The Buffalo Bisons lineup is about to go through a transition period.
In Minor League Baseball, sometimes success can actually work against a team. Buffalo is getting a firsthand look at that now.
Toronto has called up Bisons catcher Josh Thole and has bought out the contract of third baseman Andy LaRoche, promoting him to the Blue Jays.
Both players have played a pivotal in Buffalo this season, guiding the Herd to a 31-27 start.
Thole appeared in 41 games for the Bisons, hitting .322 with seven home runs and 31 RBI’s.
Moving across the border, Thole should fit well in Toronto and compete for playing time with JP Arencibia.
The Blue Jays gain is Buffalo’s loss. The Bisons were 22-14 in 36 games in which Thole started.
Now the Herd will look to Mike Nickeas and Sean Ochinko to fill in at catcher.
Nickeas, who split time with Thole last year on the Mets will have improve his play. He’s struggled in 24 games with the Herd this season, hitting only .147 with three RBI’s.
Ochinko will be fighting for the starting spot as well after getting called up from Double-A New Hampshire.
As much as the Bisons will miss Thole, they’ll equally miss third baseman Andy LaRoche.
LaRoche has played a large role in the Bisons lineup this season. The former Dodger, Pirate, and A’s utility man has hit .282 with the Herd in 2013, driving in 32 RBI’s.
In the month of May, LaRoche hit .317 and is currently leading all International League third baseman in fan voting for the Triple-A All-Star Game.
His loss will severely impact the Bisons. Buffalo has since moved second baseman Jim Negrych to third in his absence, forcing Mike McCoy and Eugenio Velez to split time at second during Friday night’s double-header.
LaRoche brought a consistent, steady bat to the Bisons lineup and his major league experience could only be seen as a positive.
Buffalo has been a great hitting team all year, sitting second overall in the International League in team batting average.
Thole and LaRoche have been a big reason why.
Sure, the Bisons display two of the best hitters the International League in Luis Jimenez and Jim Negrych but it was their depth that allowed their lineup to be as effective as it was.
Top to bottom, Buffalo’s lineup was stacked. It’s still very good even with the losses of Thole and LaRoche but it’ll be hard for the Bisons to keep pace with how they started the year after their subtractions.
One positive for Buffalo is the fact that center fielder Anthony Gose has been sent down to the Herd from Toronto. Gose did very well in his short period with the Blue Jays, hitting .304 and will provide a definite upgrade in center field for the Bisons.
In this period of transition, Bisons Manager Marty Brown will just have to try and put the puzzle pieces together.
Buffalo still has a talented lineup despite Thole’s and LaRoche’s departures.
Now, they just have to prove it.