Saturday, July 31, 2010

Trade Deadline rating

Bucs Dugout has a nice round up of the trading deadline deals. But I want to add a few thoughts anyway.

First, I think Neal Huntington is a genius. He pulled off a few trades that I thought were impossible. He got some talent (not a lot), but opened up room for next year. He also addressed a real need that Pirates had now at catcher.

Now, let me list the trades in the order from worst to first in my opinion.

3. Octavio Dotel (“Doh”tel) was traded to the Diamondbacks for James McDonald, a starting pitcher, and Andrew Lambo, an outfield. McDonald was thought of highly at one point, but even the Pirates have him starting out in the bullpen. The Pirates have a poor starting rotation, and he can’t crack it? That make me worry. Lambo is a solid prospect. He looks like he could take Gorkys Hernadez’s place as a possible outfielder of the future. But, I am not such a big fan of Lambo on the principle of him getting caught using steroids. What is the clean Lambo going to look like? I don’t know. Add in the fact that Dotel is the best player we traded away, and you have the worst trade. It is a “C”, but nothing more.

2. Javier Lopez to the Giants for Joe Martinez, a starting pitcher and John Bowker, an outfielder. This is a solid deal. Lopez has been a great lefty for us this year. And now he brings in two prospects. Martinez is so-so. Right now it is a good thing to load up on AAA pitching and see what we need. Martinez fits that bill. But who I really like is Bowker. Bowker was the PCL player of the year last year. I will take that in a heart beat. He has not really been given a shot at the majors, and I think he ought to get a call up in September. I like this guy. Probably worth Lopez by himself. This deal is a B.

1. D.J. Carrasco, Bobby Crosby, and Ryan Church for Chris Snyder, a catcher, Pedro Ciriaco, a shortstop, and 3 million bucks. This deal shows how great Neal really is. He dumped Church. He just successfully traded away a guy hitting under .200 and a salary of a free agent. He added to that a veteran short stop who hits .230 and a reliever having a great year, especially against righties but will play the market this off season. How he traded Church and Crosby is beyond me. This is as amazing as trading away Bixler. A once crowded outfield now looks better. A spot is opened for Argentis Diaz and the Pirates get money. But even more than that the Pirates get a catcher who has major league experience and can throw out runners. Doumit is just horrible at defense, and Jarmillo cannot throw anyone out either. Kratz has shown the ability to do that, but Snyder will cement the defensive part of this. Snyder is a better hitter than he is showing this year, but he is not great. This is just filling in until Sanchez reaches the majors. Still, Snyder has a year of control after this year as well, so it is not a renting situation. This really frees the Pirates up to try and deal Doumit. Hopefully Jarmillo will head back to AAA. This was an amazing dump of players for the Pirates. And it showed that Neal is not going to let the a major league team suffer like he did last year when he traded away all the left handed pitching in the pen. A giant hole exists in the major league catcher slot. The hole is now at least patched over with something. Add in a AAA shortstop in Pedro Ciriaco, another position where the Pirates have a hole, and I think the trade is great. I give this an A-.

I am back Pirates still losing (13-25)

I am back from a little trip, and while the Pirates did take a series, overall they lost ground.

Tonight was forgettable. However, it illustrates a point that needs to be made about the future of the Pirates. McCutchen was 2 for 4. Tabata was 3 for 4. Walker was 1 for 3 with a walk. The only disappointment in the future of the Pirates was Alvarez who was 0 for 4 with 3 strikeouts. Even pitcher Daniel McCutchen was not awful going 5.2 and allowing 4 runs. Those three top of the order guys are all hitting over .290. Add in Jones and Milledge at .270 and the team looks like it ought to be good. Just a hole at short and a hole at catcher make the team average look real bad. But Jones and Milledge are having lower than expected power years, which hurts everyone. Like today, the starting three got lots of hits, but Jones left 5 guys on base. The lone run the Pirates scored was by a Jeff Clement pinch hit homer.

On a real down note the Pirates bullpen was bad. Ledezma and Jackson were sub-par. In fact Ledezma was awful giving up 5 runs and recording only one out. Gallagher gave up two hits, but nothing hurt his final line. The two hits still made his outing look bad. I hope this is not the beginning of a post trading deadline slump like last year.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I blame JR (11-21)

The Pirates are now in a skid, but McCutchen is coming back tomorrow. This loss was avoidable, and I believe it is JR, the manager's fault. Here is why:

Karstens is a good pitcher. But there is a reason he is not on another team's roster after being waived by the Pirates in the off-season. He has a few problems. One he has a slight problem with the long ball. Two, and more important for this game, is that he tires out too early to be a consistent starter. By the 6th inning he is done. In the first say four innings, his stuff has just a little extra on it that helps him get out of innings and jams. It helps him get the ground ball double play in the fourth. But, he gave up one in the fifth, and his stuff was starting to go. Just like in the last several Karstens starts, he pitches well enough to get the win, but gives a run back in the 5th and then loses it in the 6th. Add in an enemic offense and the Pirates lose. So it happened again. But after just giving up the tying run and with Lopez loose in the pen, Karstens continued to pitch. They then went down 3-2. And then again 4-2 before Karstens got the third out. Lopez came in to start the 7th after the Pirates were down. That is a manager not knowing his pitcher. Sure, taking the guy out in the 6th inning taxes a bullpen, but that is why Karstens is not an ideal 5th starter for any team. He is great spot starter, and was fine as a bullpen guy last year. I like Karstens and I do think he is the best 5th starter option we have, but let us not pretend that he is something that he is not. And I am sure Karstens would rather have been pulled and have the Pirates hold up a 2-1 led for a win rather than get a loss after completing the 6th. That is JR's job. He is just not that good at it.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Big Hitting, Big Prospects, and Big Injuries (11-18)

Tbe Pirates are now above .500 at home. Thanks to a quality start by Zack Duke, and another Pedro Alvarez explosion. And we cannot forget Neil Walker and Dwelven Young who both hit well including a career high 5 RBI game for Young. Sean Gallagher pitched well in relief as well. I love 15-3 games, especially when it is the dreaded Brewers. Who by the way saw Prince Fielder get plunked by a pitch. Good for Duke.

Mel Rojas is looking good. He needs to work on taking good routes to the ball in the outfield, but his speed is great. He is making a bid to be a highly ranked prospect at the end of the season.

Oh yeah, Ryan Doumit is on the DL and Jarmillo is back up. I suppose it will be another platoon situation like Jarmillo and Diaz did last year. I hope Kratz does not end up having to play back up to Jarmillo. Either way, the Pirates need to part ways with Doumit. Doumit is full of potential, but never quite lives up to it. He can officially be called injury prone now. Catcher is now a position the Pirates can upgrade.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Who should be the player of the game (10-18)

What a game! An 11-9 victory that saw the Pirates hang 9 in the first inning on the hated Brew Crew. Some really great performances.

Pedro Alvarez went 2 for 4 with a walk and both hits were homers. Alvarez hit a grand slam in the first. And a solo shot in the second. Five RBI day for the prospect.

Neil Walker went 4 for 4. How do you top that kind of day. The guy was amazing at the plate. Simply amazing. It was his hit that pushed Dwelven Young to third setting up the back breaking 11th run that killed the Brewer rally. Plus he scored on Alvarez's slam.

Dwelven Young had two hits in a rare start in the outfield. He scored twice and managed to keep a McCutchen-less Pirate outfield on track.

Evan Meek showed his All star stuff. He never even threw a ball. All strikes for an important three up three down 7th.

Dotel pitched a great ninth. He did allow a two strike double to Jim Edmonds, which allowed the tying run to the plate, but struck that guy out. He also fanned Prince Fielder to start the inning.

Hanrahan also pitched a perfect 8th.

D.J. Carrasco came into the game with one out in the second, four runs already scored, a runner on first, and a surging Brewer club confident thanks to Brad Lincoln who got blitzed. Yet Carrasco got out of the inning with no more damage and pitched two more scoreless innings for a 2.2 innings of perfect relief to earn the win.

A game you wish would have been a blow out, but a lot of real good things happened in this game.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

That is why Malholm is the ace (9-17)

Sometimes Paul Malholm shows you why he has front of the rotation potential. He out dueled Roy Oswalt tonight for a complete game three hitter. He can do this from time to time, but he is unable to put it together consistently enough to be a true ace, but on this team he is the ace.

It was also another hit parade with multiple hits for most of the team. Walker is on a tear. Jones ended the drought of innings without a multi-run homerun. That was good to see. Milledge continues to impress. Alvarez got his hit, and low and behold Cedano had four hits. No kidding. Big win for the Pirates. We did still have some base running mistakes. Milledge was nailed going home on a play he had no business trying to make. Carols Lee in shallow left field nailed him after taking two extra steps and double clutching. The Catcher had plenty of time to get it and make a clean tag. The game was still in the second inning.

McCutchen did come out of the game after making a nice diving catch. He was favoring his throwing arm and X-rays showed no fratures and it is simply a strained AC joint, which is a shoulder strain. He will probably miss tomorrow's game, but will not miss significant time.

In other news Mel Rojas Jr., went 1 for 4 in his debut with a run scored at State College. They got the win. Jarek Cunningham homered in the 12th and then Kyle Morgan singled home Aaron Baker to add another run that West Virgina ended up needing. Still they hung on for the win. The other teams not so good. Altoona was unable to pull off another 10 run 9th inning, which they would have needed to get the win. Last night's 18-15 come from behind miracle win was followed up by a 4-13 loss. It was not really Justin Wilson's fault who pitched well enough. The 8 run 8th inning came on Cory Hamman's watch. D'Arnaud had an RBI double and Jordy Mercer had a base hit and scored a run and Josh Harrison had a hit as well.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Where was that all year (8-17)

The Pirates won big and won against the Astros for the first time this year. The Pirates scored first, responded when they went behind . . . twice, and put the game away. Meek-Hanrahan-Dotel do their job and the Pirates win 12-6.

What was not to like everyone in the Pirates starting lineup got two hits except the pitchers who got zero, and McCutchen who got one. McCutchen did get two runs scored thanks to a walk. Walker had three hits and Eric Kratz had two big hits: the first of his hopefully productive major league career. One of those was a two out RBI base-knock. Tabata and two hits including an RBI double and reached on an error earlier in the game. Milledge continued to be hot, Jones had multiple hits as did Alvarez who also chalked up another RBI.

The only bad thing to report is that Ohlendorf stunk it up in the second inning after a great opening frame. He did not make it out of the inning after allowing four runs and leaving with the bases loaded. The bullpen was great expect the guy who got the win, Javier Lopez, who came in and gave up the lead on a two out two strike count. Other than that there is nothing to complain about.

Go Pirates!

Second Half - If the Pirates want to get better

The Pirates looked like the same team as the first half as they could not throw anyone out stealing, had wild pitches, balked, failed to convert a run down (Ronny Cedano thanks a lot), and got picked off second base BY THE CATHCER! Tabata got two hits and so did McCutchen (one of which was a two out RBI), Walker converted a sac fly, and Alvarez got a hit. That was about it. So here are a few things I think we ought to watch for while expecting the Pirates to lose a lot of games.

1) McCutchen has to hit .290 to .300 for the year. He was a little under this at the All Star break. McCutchen is the "Carrier" for this team, and thus, he has to hit at least .290. The leader has to get it done on the field.

2) Garrett Jones has to hit more HRs in the second half than he did in the first half. The Pirates are woeful in power hitting. Part of that is because Jones did not live up to expectations. He needs to have at least some power in the second half for the Pirates to have success.

3) Alvarez needs to end up with a .250 AVG and 10 HRs. This is doable, but his continued progress is important for future hopes.

4) Tabata needs to hit above .250 for the second half and Walker needs to hit .280. These guys are the future, we needs to see the future with a bright spot.

5) A trade needs to take place. I don't care who it is, but someone needs to get traded that is not part of the long term future. Duke, Dotel, Church, Doumit, even Milledge as long as the return is good.

6) The Pirates need to sign Tallion and Allie. With Rojas on board this is the next big project with Kingham a priority as well.

7) Sterling Marte needs to get back healthy. The minors have been full of injuries, and Holt as well as Sanchez are done. It would be nice to see someone come back with no real complications.

As a word of caution, people need not to get so excited about Morris. He needs to show a lot more in Double AA than he has before he is a top notch prospect. He did dominate A this year, but after multiple years in it, he really should have. He is behind where he ought to be, so let us just wait and see on his second half before we put him up at the top of Pirate hopes.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

In defense of Brian Bixler

Several things are happening in the Pirate organization. Mel Rojas Jr., is about to sign with the Pirates. I suppose he will start out in State College. I am looking forward to seeing him. Chase D'Arnaud hit a grand slam to help the West beat the East in AA All-Star game. Also Nathan Baker was promoted along with Jeff Locke to Altoona while Tim Alderson was demoted to Bradenton. Also Jarmillo was dropped to AAA and Eric Kratz is going to be the back up catcher. Something I thought should have happened in Spring Training.

But the big buzz is the reaquisition of Brian Bixler for a Player to be Named Later or Future Considerations. Bixler was traded to the Indians in the off season for Jesus Brito. Now Bixler is back and the blogs don't like it. Bucco Fans rips Bixler in the comment that "apparently the team was lacking in strike outs and bad defense". Raise the Jolly Roger puts the news in a post entitled Bad News All Around and state he prefers Cedano and Crosby. And the Bucs Dugout doesn't understand the move either. Claiming that Brian Friday should even fill the need in AAA Indy, which is why they reaquired him in the first place.

I want to take a minute and defend Brian Bixler. Now, I know this deal is not for the majors, but for AAA only. He is not on the 40 man and that is good because he is not a real prospect. However, at the end of last year I had him as in the top 30 Prospects in the Farm System, and I believe he was. Now he was low enough that if we had ranked guys that were signed, but had yet to play for the minors (ala Colton Cain), he would have fallen off. Still, Bixler is not as bad as we like to think. Let me give out 5 reasons I like Bixler in our system.
1. He was only given 166 PA total over two years (I think). And these were spread over several different call ups. So, he was never given a chance to get used to the speed of the major league game. Everyone is calling for time to be given to Alvarez and rightly so. Bixler deserves the same.
2. He was improving. The first time Bixler was called up, he came with a lot of hopes of being able to replace Jack Wilson, and lead a franchise. He struggled big. Even his defense was awful. But each time his offense was slightly better, but his defense was much better. I think he would continue this trend.
3. He can play anywhere. Seriously. He learned second base when the Pirates were clearly in need of a second baseman. He learned the outfield to help out the AAA Indians. He has since played third as well. Anyone who can play SS, 2B, and 3B can play 1B. The place you cannot play Bixler is catcher. What more do you need?
4. He is the best short stop in AAA Indy right now. That is right. Argentis Diaz is not good. Bixler's .278 average puts him above Diaz and Friday is just below Bixler at .277 (but Friday has a better Slugging Percentage).
5. Look at what we have. Cedano and Crosby are .230 hitters. Do we really think that if Bixler were given consitent playing time that he could not hit .230? His defense is better than Cedano who makes easy plays into infield hits all the time. Crosby may still be better because he does the little things, but Bixler can play all over the field making him a better back up. Bixler would also do it all for a lot less money.

Waiting on Mercer and D'Arnaud is hard. And yes Bixler is a draft bust. No doubt. But, I still would take him on the major league team right now rather than what we have. Bixler is not a real major leaguer, but then neither is Cedano. I understand the frustration for it is an apparent step backward. But this really is for AAA and not for our big league team. Although one can dream that Cedano is cut and Bixler gets some playing time. I hope everyone takes a step back and realizes that Short Stop is the major reason we are not competeting for a playoff spot right now. Well, starting pitching first, but then Short Stop. It is a huge hole. Bixler is as good a fix as any we have right now.

Dace Kime Not going to be a Pirate any more?

Bucco Fans has an excellent break down on this story of the Pirates and the Kime family. In short it appears he has attended oreintation, which might make him inelligible to play for the Pirates. It really looks like Dace is to blame for most of this along with perhaps some lack of communication on the Pirates. But this is really an attempt by MLB to keep young guys out of the Pirate system (not just Pirate, but any team giving out over slot bonuses).

Still many are concerned about how the Pirates said they were "not going to jump through hoops." I am okay with this, as Kime was the top 10 draft pick I least wanted. If him not signing means signing some of the other guys, I have no problem with this at all.

Monday, July 12, 2010

2010 Draft results so far

The 2010 Draft was one loaded with potential, but its success rests on its ability to sign the top two picks: Jameson Tallion and Stetson Allie. Both are not expected to sign until the deadline. There are a lot of other Top 200 talent guys that also have yet to sign. So the book is still largely unwritten, but now is the time to examine who is already in the system for the Pirates.

Tyler Waldron, 5th round, is the highest pick to sign so far. He was formerly a starter and the a bullpen guy at Oregon State. He was put into the State College Spikes where he has done rather well as a starter. He is 0-1 in 4 starts with an 4.76 ERA, but he has a 13:4 K:BB ratio. That is pretty good. I am not sure he has what it takes to be a starter long term in the organization, but considering his struggles in his junior year at Oregon State, these are encouraging numbers.

Vincent Payne, 12th round, signed on the same day as Waldron out of Junior College. Payne slipped into the GCL Pirates, but has not done well. He has a big 6.43 ERA and has given up more hits than innings pitched. His K:BB ratio is 3:2. A slow start to say the least for this 12th round guy.

Bryce Weidman, 14th round, is also a JuCo pitcher. He has had much better success with a 1.50 ERA in two starts and one relief appearance. However he has a 2:2 K:BB ratio, which is not really good for upward projection. Still his ability to avoid hits is a good sign.

Matt Curry, 16th round, was a graduate of college and is right now the highest position player signed by the Pirates as a First Baseman. He did not sign until June 28th, so his appearances are low yet. In 8 games and 31 At Bats he has a robust .323 Avg at State College. Even better is that 6 of his 10 hits have been doubles. He is even a perfect 2 for 2 in stolen bases. Curry could be a real prospect. His work in the College World Series shows he knows how to play and perform under pressure.

Justin Bencsko, 20th round, and is another senior this time playing the outfield. Bencsko has played more games since he signed earlier, but is hitting only .188 at State College. He has shown to be strike out prone with 15. The lone bright spot is his 10 walks and only 1 fielding error.

Adalberto Santos, 22nd round, was yet another senior in the later rounds taken and put right into State College. He was put in the outfield although he appears to have played 2nd base at Oregon State. So since he appears to learning a new position it is of note that he has a no errors. He is also the only player hitting better than Matt Curry. He has a .329 AVG and a .909 OPS. He has more walks than strike outs (14 to 9) and is 7 out of 9 in Stolen bases. The outfield is crowded in the Pirate organization, but this guy looks to be around for now.

Justin Howard, 24th round, is perhaps my favorite pick so far. Howard hit an amazing .456 for New Mexico. Bucco Fans secured an adjust stat for the hitter friendly stadium and he is still hitting above .400. His glove is bad, but one has to think that Howard makes the First base position crowded in the Pirate minor league system. He had a late season injury in college that could have caused his draft stock to fall and appears to have kept him out of playing time for any Pirate farm system so far.

Casey Sadler, 25th round, from JuCo is pitching for the Spikes out of the pen. He has 2 appearances and has a 3:1 K:BB ratio, but has allowed 9 hits in 5 innings.

Kevin Kleis, 27th round, JuCo pitcher also out of the pen. He just signed on July 7th, so no stats for this one yet. He is only 18 right now, so he could be a prospect with the right development. Appears to have strike out potential.

Matt Skirving, 30th round, is a catcher coming out of college early. He is hitting .302 for the Spikes with a couple of doubles and a triple. He has 6 walks to 7 strike outs, so that is a good sign. His 2 errors might spell trouble, but he has time to work in the defense. However, Pirate fans are not in a mood to put up with catchers that cannot catch or throw out runners (Paulino and Doumit and even Jarmillo).

Jason Townsend, 31st round, is a pitcher coming out early. He has come out of the pen 3 times for the Spikes to get a 1-0 record and an 1.80 ERA. He has a 2:1 K:BB ratio. Nothing stellar here, but nothing disappointing either.

Chase Lyles, 32nd round, happens to be a JuCo third baseman. He is hitting .289, but leads the team with 3 HRs and tied for the team lead with 2 triples. This glimmer of power makes Lyles a hopeful. The 3 errors means his defense is still being worked on.

Justin Ennis, 33rd round, comes out of the NAIA, which I admit I have little knowledge about how NAIA guys project. He is a lefty pitcher which always is a good place to start. He has 6 appearances and has a 2-0 record for State College. He also has a decent 5:2 K:BB, but gives up a lot of hits and runs. His 6.10 ERA has to come down for Ennis to be a bullpen prospect.

Kelson Brown, 34th round, is a JuCo short stop playing for the Spikes. He is hitting .309, but has 10 strike outs, but garnered 11 walks. A nice start for the young man. Considering how weak the middle infield is for the Pirates, he has a chance to impress.

Cliff Archibald, 36th round, is a JuCo pitcher throwing now for the GCL Pirates. He has three innings over two games and has exactly one strike out and one run allowed. A little early to make much out of this guy. Probably just a filler for the Pirates organization. He is listed as James Archibald on MiLB.

Kevin Decker, 39th round, is a graduate of College of Charleston. And he is turning out to be the steal of the draft. Currently holding the best ERA in all of the Pirate farm system at 2.42, he is anchoring the State College staff. He leads the team with 14 strikeouts and has only given up 6 walks. Decker looks like a real prospect. I hope to see him in West Virginia before the year is out.

Bryton Trepangnier, 41st round, is the highest prep player to sign so far. It is a little odd for prep guys this deep in the draft to choose the pro route, but who am I to question. He signed on the 5th of July and has not been assigned to a minor league team yet. He is a pitcher.

Logan Penvy, 49th round pick, is in the same boat as a prep pitcher who forsook college for the pros. His was more of a spite move since the college he committed to fired the coach. He too is a recent signing, so no stats. Yet, the Pirates have promised to pay for 4 years of a state college when his career is over. A nice thing, and a bit unusual for a 49th rounder. Maybe he has some real potential.

So it looks like the Pirates have some real good stuff here so far. Decker is the highlight so far, but Santos and Curry are doing great, and Lyles’s power could be what the doctor ordered for a very light hitting Pirate franchise even in the minors. Waldron looks good and as a 5th rounder is living up to expectations. The Pirates also have Howard’s great bat waiting for his injury to heal. I am sure the Pirates have more signings coming. Tallion and Allie are the necessary pieces. One would be disappointed if 3rd rounder Rojas got away. Then there are several other prep pitchers the Pirates would love to ink like Kingham and others. If you add those guys to this mix, I think the Pirates have done well in this draft.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Doh! "Doh"tel again!

That was one we needed. When the Pirates best hitters do not hit and the bottom of the order still gives you a lead in the 8th and again in the 9th, you have to win. Cedano had multiple hits, Doumit hit, Milledge had a homer, as did Alvarez. Walker, McCutchen, Tabata, and Jones were all hitless. Although it needs to be said that McCutchen did his job as a carrier. He had two sacrifice flies including the go-ahead in the 9th. He came through in the clutch. He found ways to get the guys across the plate. He did the same last game. But, "Doh"tel struck again, and Hanrahan blew it as well.

In other news Jeff Locke is going up to Altoona. That will be intersting to see. He earned that promotion.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Jordy Mercer - a prospect?

Pirates lost again. 4-3. Good news is that Alvarez and Tabata had multiple hits each. Enough about that, I want to address some discussion about Jordy Mercer and whether or not he is a prospect.

My answer is: Of course he is, and I think he might actually be a good one.

First, let us not forget Jordy was selected right there with D'Arnaud, and in fact was put in a higher minor league system to begin last year letting you know who the Pirates thought better at the beginning of last year.

But, let us just look at the stats. We will just use the two others mentioned: Chase D'arnaud and Jarek Cunningham. Remember as we look at this Cunningham is in Low A ball, so he is facing considerably weaker pitching.

Cunningham hit .318 in Rookie League in 08 with an impressive .892 OPS. This year he is hitting .266 with a .745 OPS. He had an awful May which lowered his stats a lot. He has only walked 20 times and struck out 70, so that is not very good plate discipline. He has 6 HRs and 24 doubles.

Chase D'Arnaud hit .286 in State College, and even better an overall .293 last year in A ball. But this year he is hitting only .243 with an OPS of .686 down from .852. D'Arnaud has only 2 HRs, but 23 doubles this year.

Jordy Mercer hit .250 his first year spread over State College and Hickory. He hit .255 last year in High A with an OPS of .713. This year he is hitting .272 with an OPS of 697. Mercer has 3 HRs and 19 doubles.

But we need to go a little deeper. Take a look again.

Cunningham is hitting .284 with nobody on, .242 with runners on, and even less, .232, with runners in scoring position. Thus, he has 30 RBIs this year and a total minor league career of 55.

D'Arnaud is hitting .211 with nobody on, .293 with runners on, and .321 with runners in scoring position. D'arnaud then has 31 RBIs this year and a two year total of 88.

Now Jordy Mercer is hitting .205 with no one on, .345 with runners on, and .316 with runners in scoring position. Giving Mercer 42 RBIs this year and a two year total of 125.

Prospects ought to hit better with runners on because pitchers have to pitch to you. Cunningham gets worse, and is facing worse pitching. His strike out total is to high, and walks too low.

Add to that the fact that Mercer is far and away the best fielder, and D'arnaud is so error prone it could keep him off the field.

Jordy Mercer is a prospect. I think D'arnaud might still project a little better, but I think that Mercer is a legit prospect.

Friday, July 9, 2010

That stinks! (7-14)

The Pirates absolutely blew a game today. McCutchen had two hits (1 a homer), two RBIs, and a run scored. Tabata had two hits and a run scored. Walker had a hit, Jones had a hit, Alvarez had a hit and an RBI. Milledge had two hits (1 a homer), a run, and an RBI. Even Cedano had a hit and a run scored. Paul Malholm had a quality start by going 7 strong. The Pirates are up by two going into the 8th inning. The Pirates have to win those games.

Hanrahan gave up a run, and "Doh"tel made an appearance and the game was tied. Then even Evan Meek failed, and the Brewers took one that should have been ours.

Just to make matters worse, every Pirate minor league team lost tonight as well with the possible exception of the Dominican Summer League Pirates who have yet to play as of the writting of this post. Von Rosenburg took the loss for State College, although he only allowed one run in 5 innings and struck out 4 and only walked one. Cain gave up two runs in 4 innings, struck out 5 and walked 2. So, if we are looking for good news there were some nice performaces by prospects, just no wins.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

What is it about the Astros? (7-13) and some other stuff

Well the Astros swept us again. Hard to win when the only hit is from Neil Walker. The Pirates need the All Star break and they need to beat the 'Stros. We will see if some of the early season mojo is still in place as they play the Brewers. If there was good news it is that Ohlendorf pitched well again.

In other news that I have been neglecting. The Pirates traded (and I mean sent money for) to get Sean Gallagher from the Padres. He will pitch from the pen, and McCutchen is back in AAA. It will be interesting to see who they bring up for the 5th starter spot. It ought to be Zack Duke, but he will have to not have any set backs. That will be after the All Star Break.

The Pirates have now signed 18 of their draft picks. I am surprised by how many are high school guys at the bottom of the draft. I would have thought most of them would go to college to raise their status. Anyway, during the All Star break, I will take a closer look at the 2010 draft.

The Pirates signed 6 from the Dominican earlier this week. They are
RHP Yunior Montero, LHP Cristian Hernandez, OF Miguel DeAza, SS Rodney Polonia, OF Yunior Valdez, and LHP Melvin Rosario. I like some of the pitchers and DeAza could be good, but maybe his older age helps him look better right now than the others.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Minor League Look In

With an off day it seems good to take a minute and look at the Minor Leagues.

Indy is almost a waste of our time. All the talent is in the majors. Pearce, Karstens, Alvarez, Walker, Tabata, Lincoln, and some others from the pen are all up in the bigs. A prime example of their struggles is the double header they just played getting shut out in both. They have some cast off major leaguers that we will probably see in call up time like Morton (doing awful), Eveland (lost tonight), and Aki (getting better), but the real people to watch are yet to arrive with the exception of Daniel Moskos. He is pitching just as well so far in AAA. He looks real good.

Altoona is the home of the stars of the next wave to arrive late next year. While Tim Alderson is having a so-so year, Rudy Owens has been great. Jordy Mercer and Harrison have been excellent at the plate. Chase D'Arnaud is struggling with his average, he still is second in the whole league in doubles. The man hits for extra bases. A very good sign. Gorkys is not doing so well. Hovering at .250 is not good enough.

Bradenton also featured the Next Next Wave, but sadly they are all hurt. Sanchez, Kratz, Holt, and others have all hit the DL. That left Robbie Grossman, but he is not hitting any more. He strikes out a lot, but does draw the walk. So too early to give up on such a young kid, but not exactly a leap forward for him. Jeff Locke, however, is amazing. He needs a promotion. As does Nathan Adcock. The pitching of these two guys keeps Bradenton a place to watch.

West Virginia are not a great team. Hopefully some people will join them out of State College. Evan Chambers is a possible prospect. He is not tearing it up. Even my man Zachary Foster is struggling there. All around a bad year. This is the worst spot right now for the Pirates. A surprise in WV is David Rubenstein, 11th round in 08. He is hitting .328 with an .829 OPS. He is hitting over .300 off both righties and lefties and hitting almost .400 away from home. Maybe there is something to this guy.

State College is full of pitching prospects, but not many with the stick. Von Rosenberg is here, but not dominating. Trent Stephenson is doing just okay. Zachary Dodson might be doing the best. He got a no decision with 5 strikeouts in 4 innings on the 4th. These guys are going to be fine, but for the Spikes to win they need unbelievable pitching. They are not getting it. Some of this year's guys are here. Kevin Decker is pitching okay here. Tyler Waldron looked good in one of his starts here. And right now Alberto Santos (22nd round pick) is hitting .358 with a 1.021 OPS.

GCL is a pretty poor looking group right now as well. Colton Cain is pitching down here and did good once, but struggled his next time out. He did strike out five in 3.2 on the 3rd of this month. So he is looking pretty good. The rest of the team is really a lot of non-drafted signees. Some look good, but it is a bit early to tell. Eric Avilia is hitting .333, Kevin Mort is hitting .292. Joey Schonfield is struggling (last year's 10th round guy). He is the everyday catcher, but he needs to be hitting better.

That is a quick look at the minors. I will try to get run down of draftees signed soon.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Beating the Phils is always good (7-11)

Saturday the Pirates lost as Malholm was awful. He has been so solid most of the year, he was due a bad game. 8 runs in three innings (7 earned) is a bad game. The good news was Alvarez hit his first homerun and had his first mulit-hit game.

Sunday July 4th was better. Karstens gave up a lead that Tabata, Walker, Jones (RBI ground out), and Alvarez (RBI basehit) got him. It was the third inning when they went down 4-2. Karsten would give up a homer in the 7th and that would bring in Meek who got three ground outs. Then the fun started with Alvarez's second home run. It included a big pinch hit by Dwelven Young, and ended with Tabata knocking Young home and now the Pirates were up 8-5. Hanrahan and Dotel made sure it stayed that way.

The only bad news is that McCutchen is in a mini-slump as he went 0-4 to drop his average to .295.

The Pirates are ready to take off. If they add in Pearce this team could be great.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Pirates rolling and Miller back. (6-10)

The Pirates are undefeated in July and Quentin Miller is back and pitched 2 perfect innings with one strike out for GCL Pirates, Marte will start on Saturday in GCL and Walker will start in the bigs on Sat. More importantly Lincoln, McCutchen, and Ohlendorf all got their first wins this year. Since this will be the nucleus of next year's staff, this is great news. All pitched great and went deep into the game.

The Pirates acheived the series victory over the hated Phils when McCutchen pitched 5.1 of great baseball and Meek killed any hope of a comeback as the Phils were shut out. Dotel got a save. Tonight Ohlendorf went 7 shut out innings, and Hanrahan and Dotel pitched a perfect 8 and 9. The two runs for the Pirates were by McCutchen and Doumit, and they were unearned.

The back end of the Pirate bull pen is solid. Meek, Hanrahan, and Dotel are excellent. In fact, trade rumors are floating for Dotel, especially with the Marlins who know we are interested in at least John Raynor. Still, I hope we get more than that in return. I do expect Dotel to go. Javier Lopez has been a fairly solid guy, especially good when they put him as an exclusive lefty-lefty guy. Since the bullpen market this year is slow, he may go as well.