The Wingnuts made a surprising roster move this weekend, releasing 30-year-old outfielder Kennard Bibbs, who started the season hitless in eight at-bats.
Bibbs left Friday’s game at St. Paul with an injury, and when he wasn’t listed in Saturday’s box score I assumed he was still hurt. But when I asked manager Kevin Hooper about Bibbs’ health, he told me the team had decided to let Bibbs go.
It wasn’t performance-related. Hooper felt that Bibbs, an LS-5 (one step away from being classified as a veteran by the American Association), wasn’t providing the leadership and intensity Hooper expected. So Bibbs is gone and Eric Williams, released in spring training, returns to the team starting Tuesday against Sioux Falls.
Bibbs had a strong track record in the American Association. He was a regular with Sioux Falls in 2008 then hit .323 with El Paso last season. Hooper had spoken highly of Bibbs during the preseason, mentioning how Bibbs would be a key for the Wingnuts on defense and on the bases.
“As a manager, however I can make this team better I’m going to do it,” Hooper said. “I’m sure this one opens some eyes, too, because this is a guy who hit .320 last year. I’m here for the guys, and it’s a bigger picture. It’s not about one guy. I just felt that was the right move to make.”
Williams, 25, batted .365 with a .547 on-base percentage in the Continental League last season. The CL features a lot of young pitchers which Williams feasted on, and playing in the American Association will definitely be a test. Hooper believes, however, that Williams will bring more to the table from a chemistry standpoint.
I don’t believe Hooper was doing this to send a message, because being 0-3 isn’t that big of a deal, especially when the Wingnuts had a late lead in two of those losses. I just think Hooper felt like the negatives with Bibbs outweighed the positives, so he jettisoned him. Six paragraphs in and I finally used the word jettisoned.