Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sorry Charlie (21-44)

Charlie Morton gave up 8 (7 Earned) in 3.1 innings. Typical Charlie. I admit I really did not even watch the game because I expected as much. I am tired of Charlie getting any pitching time.

Apparently though, he was not the only Pirate that was awful. Cedano, Milledg, and Young all showed why they are defensive liabilities. Doumit had a passed ball. Cedano laid down a no out bunt with runners on the corners with the pitcher hitting after him. Probably a missed sign. Awful stuff. After Morton left the Pirates gave up no more runs. Surprise.

In Doumit's defense, he has been hitting okay lately. He was 2 for 2 today with 2 walks, and a solo HR. Walker also homered. He is also hitting well.

Let's all hope that the Morton experiment is over. Please Brad Lincoln get the call up so you can start.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Again with the mismanagment (21-43)

JR is trying to make a case against himself. He really is. The Pirates have a big lead and the bullpen cannot close it. Granted Duke struggled. He was lucky to get out of 5.1 with only 4 runs scored. Chan Ho Park failed in his job. Sean Gallagher put a runner on in the 7th after getting them out of the 6th. But JR is still the most to blame. The situation is this. The Pirates are up 7-4 with a runner on first in the 7th inning. Prince Fielder is up, and already has one homer in the game. JR wants a lefty to face left handed fielder. Okay, I get it. Good idea. The choices are Wilfredo Ledezma and Brian Burres. Only one of these two has real experience coming out of the pen. Ledezma is the current left handed specialist. Burres came out maybe twice earlier this year for the Pirates and did it once for AAA Indianapolis. Who does JR get in this all important moment in the game? Who does JR go to only two outs away from the dealy 8th and 9th combo of Meek and Hanrahan? You got it. Burres. Burres hangs a slider and the Pirates are only up one, which Park cannot hold and that is all you need to know.

But just in case you are worried I might be wrong about JR. Putting Burres in followed by Park (who gives up the tying run), who was then pinch hit for in the next inning (this pinch hit was the right decision). The bullpen in a tie game was now left to Hanrahan, Ledezma, Resop, and Meek. Hanrahan pitched the 8th. Now still a tie game you pitch Resop in the 9th. What happens if you need to go into extra innings? Do you try to milk a second inning out of Resop? Do you bring in Ledezma and Meek in the 10th and 11th and hope it is over by then? You no longer have a long pitcher to protect against this thing. I guess you have Daniel McCutchen, but he just pitched a start a few days ago. The Pirates bullpen was dead as soon as Burres was removed from the game.

I wrote the above paragraphs in the 9th inning. So, what happened you ask? Ledezma was the one forced to go multiple innings (10th and 11th), and in his second inning, he lost the game on a walk off single. I don’t see how JR can escape blame for yet another mismanaged bullpen.

This loss over shadows a rather good game by Walker (two hits including a solo HR), Tabata (multi hit game including a HR), and Alvarez (2 hit game).

Friday, August 27, 2010

Nick Kingham

So, a lot of fun speculation about the order of prospects in the Pirates system has been going on since the draft. Most of it has been about where to place Allie and the recently signed Heredia. Appropriate questions of course, but I think the better question is where to place Nick Kingham. Kingham has a very high upside. He has 3rd starter written on him right now, and he is only 17. He could very well pick up more MPH on his fastball. That would raise his status even more. So where Nick Kingham fits to me is a very interesting question. The beginning of the answer to that question started last night.

Kingham pitched two innings allowing three hits, but no runs, and two strikeouts. Not a bad debut. Of course he was not the only debut. A couple of other draft guys are seeing action now at the GCL level who might also make an impact for the Pirates one day. Lakind and Grovat played the field. Neither got a hit. Brandon Crompton pitched well in his first start (2nd appearance), and has yet to give up a run. So a good start for the other top 10 draftee. Where these guys fit in the picture is awful interesting. Looking forward to seeing them more.

Guess what happened again . . . (17-42)

The Pirates lost again. James McDonald's final line is real bad. 6 and 1/3 6 runs and 7 strikouts, but the line is bad because the manager is bad. McDonald dominated through 5. He was killing. He gave up a run in the sixth and a close ground ball double play kept the Pirates on top (2-1 at that time). So, now we have seen people start to hit McDonald, he also walked a guy. Pitch count is not super high, but about 80 (don't know for sure). I would think with Meek and Hanrahan rested from the day off you think you can get one inning out of the rest of the pen and try to win the opener on the road. Not, JR. He puts McDonald back out. Lead off hitter in the 7th walks. Followed by a strike out. Next batter reaches. Now the tying run is in scoring position, why not go get him? Well, JR does not and a triple gives the Brewwers the lead: 3-2. Okay, so now we get him, now that he can get the loss. Wait, JR leaves him out there some more. It takes at least another two hits before JR gives a clearly out of gas McDonald the hook. Now the game is out of reach, and the pen gives up everyone on base and then some to make sure the game can not be won. Just awful coaching. Awful.

Still, some positives. Tabata continues to be awesome. McDonald did strike out 7 and was unhittable for 5. Oh yeah, Chris Synder hit another homer. A good sign to have a little extra pop in the line up.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I am back and so are the Pirates (20-41)

I had a little visit with the in-laws, and no time to post. But the Pirates managed a 3-3 split while I was gone including tonight's series win over the Cardinals. Always good to pop them in the mouth. The two game win streak was fueled by the top three hitters in the line up as one might expect. A double (McCutchen), triple (Tabata), and single (Walker) was the highlight of last night's win, but tonight they got together again when Walker got the bases clearing triple. Tabata would add an RBI later in the game and Jones hit a homerun to make the top four all look good. Better yet, Daniel McCutchen got the win. He now has more wins than Ross Ohlendorf despite having an ERA two runs higher. Wierd.

Despite the record while I was gone most of the news was bad. Yes, the top three are hitting, but that has to be expected if the Pirates are going to compete. They are not getting a lot of support. Yes, Jones has two home runs with his last two hits, but his hits are getting rarer and rarer. Alvarez is in a big hitting slump since getting two knocks against Johann Santana. His homer draught is getting kind of long too. Both Jones and Alvarez are over used. Alvarez has done well after a day off, and Jones has only had two all year (I think that is right). But with Clement on the DL, who is going to play first? LaRoche would be the best bet. Again, JR is to blame for the overuse. Doumit continues to supplant Milledge, but his stats don't warrent it. Ohlendorf is on the DL, maybe for the rest of the year. Karstens was a scratch tonight. All of this is not good. Even in two of their wins, they were out hit by the other team. Santana only gave up four hits, it just so happened that two of them were homers and Duke was on fire.

The only real good news is that Brian Burres got called up to replace Ohlendorg and not Morton. This is good because there was no need for Morton to make a start with tomorrow off. Burres was better in the majors than Morton. Bring Burres back. Plus, he can do bullpen stuff, with McCutchen pitching today, they might need an inning eater, and Burres can do it.

Yes, the financial stuff happened while I was gone too. I will probably just post some links tomorrow. There is nothing to say other than ESPN is dumb and so are most of the headlines.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A better sign for the future (17-38)

The Pirates lost after a 2 hit five inning performance by Malholm. He struggled in the 6th and would give up four runs, which was more than enough to sink the Pirates. McCutchen hit another homer, but it just made it a four to two loss.

The more important news is the signing of Mexican 16 year old right handed fireballer, Luis Heredia. And I am going to go out on a limb and say that this is a better sign for the long term health of the franchise than the great draft we just had. In previous Front Office administrations, signing Latin American or International players at all was rare. No real prospects came through the system. But, now the current managment has clearly put a priority on it. Luis Heredia is just the most recent proof. Take a look at Dominican Facility recently built, or the back to back championships of the VSL Pirates, or even the current roster of the GCL Pirates.

Now it is true that we lost out on a high profile signing in the off season, but that kind of stuff happens from time to time. Agents don't give you a chance to match, and sometimes players don't want to play for the Pirates. However, more signings that are big name like Heredia will help change players minds. Agents too probably as they see the Pirates are serious about shelling out money.

Not only that, but note how many new international markets have been opened up by the Pirates lately. A few years ago they signed a pitcher from Japan who pitched in Pittsburgh. They have since signed players from India, China, and Austrilia all firsts for the Pirates. This not only shows we are scouting in far away places, but can lead to new sources of revenue for the Pirates as far as fans and selling merchandise.

The Pirates are committed to international development despite the reputation we currently have. And this is more important to a franchise than even the drafts. At least as far as long term health. The Draft is super important for the Pirates now because they have the chance to change the face of their franchise every year mainly because they are drafting at or near the top. This usually means you get one sure fire prospect and probably another that is decent at the top of the second round. Our recent over-the-slot approach has garnered us more than normal, but a lot of this will change if the Pirates start winning. Back of the first round draft picks are not sure fire prospects and not franchise changing. This means that the best way for winning teams to keep on top is through the International Free Agent pool. Signing young talent like Heredia will be of the utmost importance when the Pirates starting making their eventual runs at the World Series. Thus, doing well now is a far more encouraging sign than even our recent amazing draft.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Again, a loss (17-37)

Another well pitched loss. Poor Ross. A 3-2 loss is ugly. Seven innings of good pitching all for naught. Doumit hit a bomb that left the yard and the stadium. McCutchen is heating up as HR 11 made it a one run game. Meek looked better getting two strike outs. Tabata went 3 for 4. Other than that not much to report. A loss is a loss.

It is getting to the point where there is very little excuse for what is going on at the big league level. You cannot lose this many quality starts in a row. Your pitchers are trying their best. Even if Karsten's start was not officially a quality one, he pitched well enough to win. The bullpen only blew one of these. The rest is up to the bats. McCutchen, Walker, and Tabata are not enough. Alvarez is raising is average, but his power is not as often. Jones is over worked, and thus his bat is regressing. The other positions are weak. Add in Doumit instead of Milledge, and the offense takes a nose dive. Even with the powerless Milledge, it is not enough. Upgrades are necessary.

Already looking forward to next year.

Monday, August 16, 2010

One franchise changing draft

I think we can say that we know where the Pirates stand now having signed 27 of their 50 draft picks. Let me go ahead and go on record. This is a franchise changing draft. Now, I think the 08 draft was good enough to make us competitive, and 09 has great potential, but mostly it was potential. The 2010 draft is fabulous. Let us take a look for a moment at one of the greatest drafts possibly ever.

First, there is Jameson Taillon. This kid is great. He has high 90 fastball that is thrown for strikes. He has a great curve and slider. Apparently he throws a decent change, but that is one the Pirates are going to work on. The kid is 18 and thus in for some growth in power. He has ace potential. Something the Pirates have not legitimately had in some time.

Second, we have Stetson Allie. Allie was a first round draft pick that was picked in the second round because of signability fears. Allie has similar stuff to Taillon, although not as many polished pitches as Taillon, but throws as hard or harder. Control of his triple digit fastball is an issue, but again the kid is 18. He is a clear cut top of the rotation guy with ace potential. Add to the mix that he can hit. A good hitter with power in his bat. Wow.

Then the Pirates signed picks 3,4,and 5. Mel Rojas Jr., is an Andrew McCutchen type player, who is only 19. He will be a touch slower than Cutch, but has that starting center fielder bat and defense. Waldron is okay, could be a good reliever, but Nick Kingham is a steal in my book. He was in the Top 200 according to most ranking systems, and is a solid middle of the rotation pitcher. He has a low 90’s fastball and the Pirates can work on the rest. Another 18 year old kid that ought to bring good times to the Pirates. In the past pitchers like Kingham have been asked to be the ace, but Kingham is the third best pitcher in this draft for the Pirates. So even if all the other Pirate pitchers from last year fail, Kingham does not have to be anything other than a number 3 starter. That is a no pressure situation for the youngster.

Admittedly the Pirates missed out on some guys in the top 10 of their draft, but they were not the sure things that Allie and Taillon are. The only one really worth missing in Zack Weiss and in the end the Pirates were talking to him all the way up until the deadline. They did sign number 9 pick Brandon Crumpton. He is a college kid, so hopefully he can progress quickly and might be some bullpen help just out of not having a place for him in the starting rotation.

Other than Rojas the Pirates added only a few bats. First base seems to be the place that the Pirates improved the most. The race to see who turns out to be the best first baseman in the group will be interesting. The Pirates signs Matt Curry out of TCU, and he is already doing well in State College. Justin Howard hit .456 with a 1.217 OPS at New Mexico. That is pretty good. And maybe we should add Jared Lakind in here out of High School. He is a lefty pitcher who plays first base and he was drafted higher than Howard. These guys could make a real difference in a traditionally weak place of the Pirates.

Middle infield sees only Drew Maggi as a real prospect. He is a sophomore, and looks good defensively and as a hitter for average. He got a big bonus to fore go more school. He might be a difference maker in the weak middle infield. Adalberto Santos also should be mentioned. He signed quick and is doing great at State College. He is small, but so far so good.

The Pirates got lots of other High School arms that might could develop into something. The Pirates shocked everyone with a big payout to Ryan Hafner (17th round). Late round picks Logan Penvy and Brian Trepagnier signed as well. These guys are high 80 throwers now, could they develop into something that helps out the Pirate system?

Now that is a great draft. In four years fully 3 out of 5 starting pitchers could have come from this draft with some of the bullpen guys being there too. Rojas could be roaming the outfield and firstbase could be occupied by a 2010 draftee. And if these things come true, then the Pirates will look real good. Real good. Add that to the fact that in four years you will still control Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez, plus last year’s draft number 1 Sanchez behind the plate, and in all probability next year’s overall number 1 pick too. Let us not forget that Zack Von Rosenburg and Colton Cain are in the system and ought to be the other two pitchers in your starting rotation in four years. Really this ought to bring Pittsburgh a championship.

No one could ask for more than this. No one.

A big night (17-36)

The Pirates win tonight in more ways than win. They sign Tallion and Allie as well as Drew Maggi already. I will have a post after the deadline to run down the whole thing.

On the field, the Pirates destroyed the Marline, 7-1. Alvarez had a big two run base hit. Jones had a multi RBI double. McCutchen had a two hit night including his 10th HR. Tabata had no hits, but scored twice because he walked twice. Walker was hitting, Diaz got a hit. The return to the normal line up worked. I will complain more about JR's line up stunt another day. I am too happy right now. In addition the offense James McDonald was on display. Six strikeouts in seven innings of one run baseball. He looks great, and will need to lead the staff next year.

All in all, this is a perfect night for Pirates fans.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Another loss (16-35)

The Pirates were offensively awful again tonight. Karstens was normal for him: solid four or five innings, struggle in the sixth. He allowed one run in five innings, and the Pirates were ahead two to one going into the sixth. Karstens had two outs and a runner on second and first when a bloop basehit to Milledge should have ended the inning. Milledge's throw beat the runner by a mile, but was off line on the first base side. Still it was handled by our new catcher, but he seemed to not realize how far away from the plate he was. He took one step and looked as if he was about to try and block the plate, the only problem was the plate was another two steps away. Still the runner was just starting his slide a diving attempt at a tag was not in time and the Pirates had given up the lead. Sean Gallagher came into hold them but he could not. He gave up all of Karsten's inherited runners and one of his own, which made Karsten's final line look bad as well as effectively putting the game out of reach. Add in two more runs allowed by Daniel McCutchen and one more on an ugly hanging curve ball by Chan Ho Park and the Pirates lose big.

If one were looking for good news it has to be Pedro Alvarez. He was zero for one with three walks.

Not much action in the minors as most of the games were rained out or suspended. Indy lost. Altoona lost in extra innings, but Rudy Owens was brillant with five scoreless and a demoted Daniel Moskos pitched a perfect inning too. D'Arnaud had one hit, a triple, and stole two bases (one of which was third base). Jordy Mercer had a two for four day, and Lambo went hitless. Bradenton won, but was out hit. The team only managed four hits total, three of which came from catcher James Skelton. Thus, Bradenton won one to nothing thanks to the great pitching of Matt McSwain.

All eyes however are on the the draft deadline, which will be the news tomorrow. All reports seem to be that Tallion may have already signed, or that he clearly will sign. A few less, but still the reports say, Stetson Allie will also sign. The question is now about the other prospects. How many will Pittsburgh pull in.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Seriously, new manager needed (16-34)

The Pirates got another great start from their starter. This time it was Paul Malholm. The Pirates even jumped out to an early lead as McCutchen (hot again), tripled, and Garrett Jones hit a homer. But the Pirates were the Pirates in the second as Clement and Diaz each got a hit, and then they were bunted over to second and third by Malholm. But McCutchen struck out on three straight pitches, and Jones failed to get a hit ending the inning. And you had that sinking feeling in your gut it was also the end of the offense as well.

But the Astros are a bad team and Malholm only gave up a solo homer until the 6th when he ran into trouble. But the Astros this time failed to capitalize with one out and runners on the corners. A ground ball to Alvarez should have scored a run, but Alvarez went home and they got the runner. Not typical for the Pirates, but a good sign.

Then worry set in again as JR lets Malholm hit for himself in the top of the 7th. It almost always spells disaster, but maybe a tired bullpen is the reason. Malholm did get a hit in that at bat. Malholm only had 82 pitches at the time, but he struggled in that 6th and was saved by that rundown at home. Of course Malholm ran into trouble immediately. Lead off single, bunt moves him to second and a three-two count on the next hitter, but Malholm got him to chase a slider for a big out. But in the end, it did back fire as Houston tied it on a two out single. One has to question the decision making here. Even if we think the gamble to bring Malholm back out is okay, they might should have gotten him after that strike out. He as into the 90’s on the pitch count by that point and struggling. He was facing a right handed hitter, and you have righties in the bullpen. Leaving him in to face right handed Hunter Pence, who had the earlier home run was clearly bad and was 2 for 3 on the day. A three-one count was sure doom. Pence delivered and the Astros took the lead. It was ridiculous that the previous runner was in scoring position. The throw was never going to get the guy at home and it appeared to high to be cut off. Yet another poor play in the field allowing the winning run to second. JR did come get Malholm now that he could get a loss rather than a win or a no-decision. JR is the worst manager of pitchers I have ever seen. Oh yes, Resop did get the out on the first batter he faced.

In the end, this was a game the Pirates deserved to lose. They struck out 14 times against Astros starter Bud Norris, and only one of those was Malholm. Everyone struck out at least once and Alvarez struck out all three times he faced Norris.

Fire JR. Fire JR (16-33)

Zack Duke pitched well and Ohlendorf pitched really well, but neither got the win because of bad offense. Ohlendorf pitched 7 shut out innings displaying his ability to get out of tight spots, and left the game with a one run lead. However Evan Meek blew the game and this is what I want to talk about. Not about Ohlendorf’s start, or Alvarez’s three hit night. No. I want to talk about JR and what he did to Meek last night.

Overall I think Meek is being overused, but last night he was outright gimpy. I mean he visibly seemed to limp. He clearly had nothing. It took about two hitters to see he was not normal. Yet, JR left him out long enough to give up a three run homer and then a few more singles to boot. JR was enormously stupid in how he handled that. There is literally no excuse. JR continued to be dumb when the tying run came to the plate and he pinch hit with Dwelven Young rather than Clement. You need the big bomb and Clement has had two since being called up. He is the power threat. Young, not so much. Milledge made another base running mistake by staying put, which by now has to be on the managers a little. And then a double play made sure that this game was over.

Hunington has been a great GM, but he has to start being blamed for keeping JR around.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I'll take it (16-31)

If that is James McDonald struggling I will take it. Now the Pirates lost this game, but I really think this is the best lost we have had in a long time. James McDonald proved a couple of things. One, he does have struggles. Two, he is a strike out machine even without his best stuff. Three, he can be the ace.

Number one is easy enough. McDonald gave up four runs in 4.2 innings. That is not as good as 6 shut out innings.

Number two is also easy to prove. In less than five innings he struck out 7. That is one shy of last game, and he had four less outs to do it in. He did not have his best stuff either. Still a good fastball that MLB was clocking at 93 in the fifth. His breaking ball was still nasty, but if they do not swing it is not going to be a strike. And his change up this game was no where near as good. Yet, that is a recipe for 7 strike outs. It has been a long time since the Pirate organization has had a real strike out guy.

Number three is a bit more complex. But it involves number two. McDonald is the strike out pitcher in our line up. Take this into consideration. Every other pitcher when they struggle ends up letting in a lot of runs at the beginning of the game. Morton did it every night. Ohlendorf has done it, so has Duke. Even Malholm did it the other night. Only Karstens appears to be immune to the give away the game early problem. McDonald really struggled in the first. He took 30 pitches to get out of it. But he did get out of it. No runs allowed. He gave up his first run in the fourth. He gave up three in the fifth, but they were all two out hits. Now if a real right fielder had been playing rather than Ryan Doumit then the inning would have been over with no runs scored. But Doumit let one drop in front of him, playing it safe but everyone else would have caught it with ease. Doumit makes that catch the Padres have one run, and the Pirates win the game 5-3. Instead, it is the beginning of four runs and the Pirates lose 8-5.

Now, there were really only a few hitting highlights. Doumit just did miss a homer, and it plated two runs, but going 1 for 4 did not really make up for his poor defense. I hope it pleased some AL suitor looking for a DH. Alvarez got another RBI. Walker had two hits, and Tabata was held to only one. Again, the Pirates were robbed of a couple of hits by great defensive plays by the Padres. In key situations too.

McCutchen is in a mini slump. He is in danger of falling below .280. He needs to wake up soon.

This game makes the Pirates the worst in baseball. With Baltimore playing better maybe Kansas City is our last real competition for the first over all pick.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

VSL Championship

The Venensula Summer League Team won the championship today after taking game 3 of a best of 3 set against the VSL Mariners. Not only did they win they won big. 21-3. They got 21 runs on 20 hits. 5 Mariner errors helped a lot.

David Pino is a guy to watch from this team. He hit .313 on the year and a .357 in the series. He had on OPS of over .900 on the year. He is a second baseman too. Expect to see some of these guys in Rookie League ball next year.

Congrats to the VSL Pirates on a championship!

Another loss (16-30)

Jeff Karstens lowered his ERA, got a quality start, but lost the game. Hard to blame anyone for this loss, even ole JR. The Pirates just played a better team. The Padres got the double play when they needed to on McCutchen in 7th and a game ending one in the 9th. This kind of stuff happens. Frustrating to watch Karstens get 3 up 3 down in 5 of his 6 innings and lose the game.

On bright notes, JR pulled the right strings. I did not try to push Karstens passed his limit. He got Dwelven up and he delivered with a pinch hit. Alvarez got a two out RBI. Jose Tabata had multiple hits and stole a base. Other than those offensive spots and Karstens great pitching, there is nothing worth remembering about this game.

Monday, August 9, 2010

A day off, but still news (16-29)

The Pirates have added some more of their draft picks. Brandon Crompton (9th) and Ryan Hafner (17th). More are on their way according to several blogs like Pirate Prospects. Neither of these two excite me very much. Compton does have college experience and might could be bullpen help. Hafner, I think, is one of those guys that probably should have gone to college. Good fastball and a hopeful frame is the best way to describe him. Bullpen is his best hope too. But to get there he will have to increase velocity and learn at least one other pitch. That will just get him two.

We also need to disucss the firings. Gary Varsho and pitching coach Bill Kerrigan were fired this week for insubordiantion basically. They wer not supporting John Russell. He apparently asked for them to be fired and they were. Good sign for Rusell, but is it a good sign for the Pirates? Probably not. I want to say up front, you cannot really disagree with the firings because who on the coaching staff deserves to keep his job? Anyone? Anyone? No. But can you really blame them for not following Russell? He is not a good maanger. We don't know specifics, but perhaps they thought Doumit should not be given playing time as much as possible? Is that really bad? What decisions has JR made that were really laudable?

Now I think Kerrigan is a bad pitching coach, and always has been. Fire him for that, and I think that is a good move. Varsho, I respect a bit more. It has also been unclear what exactly he did. He had a good run as a bench coach with the Phillies, and I would be interested in knowing more. Now, that said, both the replacements are just as good. The bullpen Coach is the new pitching coach. Good news, and the minor league coordinator is moving to bench coach. Both have been strengths for the Pirates. I hope it goes well.

Still, I think the Pirates are not going to be able to move forward without a new manager.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

That is more like it! (16-28)

Pedro Alvarez saves the day with his first walk off home run. Ross Ohlendorf pitched great with six strike outs through six. He allowed two runs, only one earned (thanks Milledge!) The Pirates had scored their runs on a three run blast by Chris Synder and a shot by Jones, and then a strike out by Jones that got past the catcher to allow the fifth run on a wild pitch. That throwing error by Lastings almost cost the Pirates the game as as 5-2 lead was blown in the ninth by Hanrahan. Even giving up a three run homer if Milledge does not make that error the Pirates win 5-4. However, Hanrahan survived to keep a tie. Gallagher then gave up a two run blast to Todd Helton to go into the bottom of the 10th down 5-7 despite leading going into the ninth inning. Andrew McCutchen then hit a home run that was reviewed and called back. Tabata flew out and Walker struck out. Then inexplicably Jones got walked. Pedro Alvarez then took a pitch deep into the night to win the game 8-7.

It was not like this was the only spot for Alvarez. In fact, he had three hits on the night. Every Pirates starter had a hit including Ohlendorf. Pinch Hitter Dwelven Young also had a hit. McCutchen and Tabata had two joining Alvarez as the multiple hit guys. Meek had a nice inning. And Ledezma and Resop combined to get out of the 7th, although they were unable to stop the inherited runner from scoring.

The Pirates prospects had a good night too. Colton Cain struck out three in three innings of work for State College. Kevin Decker then got the win pitching four innings nicely himself. Cain did give up two walks, one of which scored, but Cain did not give up any hits. That followed up Zack Dodson's hitless 5 innings from yesterday, and Trent Stevenson pitched well to end that game as a win. Of course that followed up a really nice outing by Zack Von Rosenburg, so the Spikes are pitching well. Good news for the Pirates. Oh yeah, Mel Rojas was 2 for 3.

GCL Pirates hung on to win as well 4-3. Jarryd Sullivan the Aussie struck out six in five innings only allowing two hits. He has done well in the Rookie league.

But the big news was Altoona. They took a 8-6 lead into the top of the ninth before hanging 10 runs on the opposition for a 18-6 win. D'Arnaud, Watts, and Durham all had four hits. D'Arnaud hit doubles number 30 and 31. Hague and Lambo both had three hits including Lambo's first homer in the Pirate organization. Mercer and Harrison brought up the rear with two hits a piece (double number 22 for Mercer). This all helped Bryan Morris get an easy win. He struck out two, walked two, and allowed two runs in earning his 6th win at Double A.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Both ends of the spectrum (15-28)

Thursday's game had it all. James McDonald striking out 8, getting two double plays, and shuting out the Rockies for 6 strong innings on only 89 pitches. Wow. What a way to make a debut.
Friday's game had the opposite effect. Chan Ho Park made his Pirates debut, and he flopped at best. After Pedro Alvarez had dramatically tied the game on a three run homer, Park comes in and gives up a run on two hits and the Pirates are behind again. Hanrahan gives up two more before Daniel McCutchen strikes a batter to bail Hanrahan out of the inning. But by then it is too late the Pirates lose 6-3.

Really the Pirates were lucky to be in the game at all. Duke gave up 10 hits in 6 innings. His 5 strikeouts really bailed him out. Not a pretty game except for Alvarez hitting his 9th and Tabata going 2 for 3 with a sacrifice. Jones returned to earth and wore the collar. I am still confused as to why Clement won't even sniff a start at first. Jones could use a day off.

In other news the Pirates apparently might have a buyer for Andy LaRoche. LaRoche could be the Pirates utility infielder next year, but he is out of options, so he could just be taking someone's place on the roster. The Cardinals are interested in Andy as they have just lost their starting third baseman. On the one hand there is no way we are going to get a good deal post trading deadline. Waiver trades are seldom good. But then again, this is better for Andy's career. Sometimes you do have to think about the guy. Andy has no chance of starting anywhere, and could even be in the way by the middle of next season. Might as well get something and let him have a chance at a big league career worth remembering.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Hope in the signings (14-27)

The Pirates lost to the hated Reds again. I have to say that Karstens pitched okay. But the bullpen just blew up. At least Daniel McCutchen threw an inning of relief and it actually was a relief. I have to question JR again. Tabata did not play and he is arguably the second best player on the team. He just had a 12 game hit streak, why is he on the bench, but Garrett Jones who has not had a hit in a really long time not getting a break? Jeff Clement deserves a shot. He is 3 for 5 since being recalled, all pinch hits, and two of those hits are homers. Jones needs a break. Clement needs a shot because next year he may not be with the team. They need to be able to choose between Clement and Pearce. Clement has power the team desperately needs. Play him.

The Pirates were awful all the way down tonight. State College is getting one hit with Waldron giving up 2 Earned Runs (5 total), and Brooks Pounders gave up two himself. Jeremy Farrell hit a first inning homerun and that was it for the GCL Pirates. They lost Kleis and Trepainger pitched okay. Kleis had five strikeouts. The lone exception was Altoona who knocked around 13 hits. D'Arnaud had three, Lambo had two, Owens struck out 4 giving up only one hit, which was a homer.

But the best news is the signing of Nick Kingham our fourth round pick. Welcome to the Pirates, Nick!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

An Organizational Good Day (14-26)

The Pirates escaped tonight. Malholm pitched a good six innings, but struggled in the 7th. JR made a questionable decision to go put in Meek with a 7 to 3 lead. Was their really no one else in the bullpen that could not have gotten out of the 7th? Meek allowed one of the inherited runners to cross, but put out the fire. But then Meek began to run out of gas in the 8th. A two out double plated two runs to get the game to within one run. Finally with two on, Meek got the last out of the inning. Hanrahan had no problems getting his three outs and the Pirates win 7 to 6.

The game did see McCutchen beaned in the neck. No concussion and probably no DL, but expect a missed game or two.

The problem with the current Pirates was illustrated nicely in this game. Walker had four RBIs in a game where they scored 7. Tabata scored twice and added an RBI himself. One of those runs was also going to be McCutchen, but it was Young who came in for McCutchen when he got beaned. That is five of the RBIs came from the top three guys. The offense is almost all located there. Jones failed to do anything. Milledge got a timely hit after an Alvarez walk that proceeded a Snyder base hit that scored both of those guys and that was the scoring. Alvarez when he is hot can do stuff, but right now he is not. Milledge is lacking power so most of his hits go without benefit to the team. Snyder is new, so we will see if he can turn Milledge into an asset at the bottom of the line up. And it should be noted that in this game Snyder produced at the bottom of the line up and the Pirates won. If they get production from someone other than the big three, they win the game.

The Pirates minor league teams did rather well tonight.

The GCL Pirates took a game today 4-3. The big hit was Cayonez’s double that scored two in the eighth. He scored later that same inning to take the lead. The big story in my mind however is with the pitching. Cliff Archibald, a 2010 36th round JuCo arm, struck out 7 in five innings without giving up a walk and one run. In fact he has only given up two walks all year. Barrett Phillips, who has been a strikeout machine this year and you may remember was undrafted signing last year, got the win after throwing three scoreless innings, and striking out three.

The West Virginia Power won 10-6. Evan Chambers had three RBIs as did Baker. Cunningham had three runs scored and McPherson gave up two runs in five innings, both were solo homeruns. He struck out three walking one.

The State College Spikes lost by the same score. Mel Rojas and Alberto Santos both had three hits and one RBI. Zack Fuesser actually looked pretty good. He gave up two runs in his four innings striking out two and walking two. He is only twenty and has a 3.77 ERA.

Bradenton crushed their opponents 11-5. Leech pitched good. Sterling Marte went 2 for 4 with a run scored and Latimore hit a homer.

Altoona pulled out an extra inning win 3-2. Yung Chi Chen scored all three runs and the walk off hit came from Chase D’Arnaud. The other two RBIs went to Harrison who was 2 for 4.

Altoona won the first game of the night in a close manner as well by the score of 4 to 3 thanks to a three run 4th inning. D’Arnaud went 2 for 2, Mercer went 1 for 3 as did the recently acquired Lambo and Harrison. Wilson continued his good season earning his 9th win actually raising his ERA to 3.13 over 6 innings. He struck out 4.

Indianapolis won a game 5 to 3. Four of those runs were in the first inning when Ciriaco knocked in a run as did John Bowker. Brandon Moss added an RBI in the first and then scored on a throwing error. The added one more later and Jeremy Powell got the win.

The Domincian Summer League Pirates also won in extra innings completing the almost sweep for the Pirates organization today. It was a good day.

2011 Prediction for 40 Man roster

There is a real nice look at next year’s 40-man roster and the problem the Pirates are going to have getting their young talent on the 40-man, and upgrading their team at the former BuccoFans now Pirate Prospects. He will be giving us his ideas soon, but let me go ahead and give mine to see how they line up when his go up.

First, as a Pirate fan, you have to protect your young talent. So I am going to start there. I would add the following to my 40 man roster to ensure they do not get taken in a Rule 5 draft. I add Rudy Owens, Daniel Moskos, Sterling Marte, and Jeff Locke without blinking. They have to be with the organization. That leaves off a few players that are good, but I am not sure they can be protected. I would not have worries about most of them like Jim Negrych, Brian Friday, and even some pitchers like Diego Moreno, Elicer Navarro, and perhaps Nathan Adcock. Those guys just have not pitched against enough high quality to be given a spot on a 25 man roster for the whole year. They need more development. The question marks are Alex Presley, Michael Dubee, and Michael Crotta. It is hard to take a non-pitcher and hide him all year, so I think I would pass on Presley assuming that other teams would as well. Dubee is not an essential part of the future, so I would pass on him as well. I think that it is just not possible to squeeze in Crotta, but I also think some team will take a run at him. So you might lose him. So let us put him on the roster for safety.

So five positions are taken up by guys who need to be protected. That leaves 35 spots. Let us be realistic and just pencil in Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata, Garrett Jones, Lastings Milledge, Neil Walker, Ronny Cedano, Pedro Alvarez, and Chris Synder as your starting line up. That gets us to 13. We can fill the rest of that 25 man roster up right now as well. The bench will be Jeff Clement, Eric Kratz, Argentis Diaz, John Bowker, and a fifth spot which will either be Young or LaRoche. I would prefer Young, but I think it will be LaRoche. That is 18 total. The starting rotation will be Paul Malholm, Brad Lincoln, Ross Ohlendorf, with the other spots up for grabs, but let us just give it for now to McDonald and Daniel McCutchen. Then we need a bullpen so we are looking for 7 more guys. No need to start anywhere other than Meek and Hanrahan. I think that the team keeps Jeff Karstens this year. Gallagher was just acquired, so he stays and Jose Ascino will also be in the pen. That is five. I think we will leave the pen like this for now. That gives us 28.

So we need to fill out 12 more people. To get 40, and I think that the Pirates ought to skip out on the Rule 5, so they should go ahead and fill up the roster. You cannot have people on the DL in the Winter Meetings, so expect Steven Pearce and Kevin Hart to be on the list. They will end up on the 60 Day, but will need to be protected. I think we can safely put Brian Morris, Ramon Aguero, and Donald Veal on the 40 man. Wilfredo Ledezma will be on the list. Pedro Ciriaco and Gorkys Hernadez will probably stay on the 40 man as well. Joe Martinez, Charlie Morton, and Jason Jarmillo to make the cut as well. That is 39. This leaves room for a free agent signing, which I think will happen. Probably a veteran bullpen free agent.

So, what does this mean? I think it means that if Doumit cannot be traded, and I think they are trying with this showing Doumit off at other positions, he will not be tendered a contract. I also think that the Pirates end up letting Young walk. I think that the Pirates will DFA Brian Burres, Steven Jackson, Chris Jakabauskas, and Justin Thomas with the hopes of keeping them in the system, and they probably will. I think it also means that they do not try to resign Zack Duke. I think the Pirates tried to move him and could not. He is not worth the five million he is going to get in arbitration.

Now, it is possible that Duke takes that 40th spot. I think that depends on the trades that can be made. The Pirates listened to trades about Charlie Morton. If they could make one it opens an extra spot, which might mean they do tender Duke a contract and try to trade him next season. And remember after the Rule 5 expect Pearce and Hart back on the 60 Day DL, which will allow two more people to join the 40 man roster, probably more free agents from the pen, or if one of those guys above who gets DFA earns it during spring training. The other way to keep Duke is to not protect Crotta, which is a real possibility.

The Starting 25
A. McCutchen - OF
J. Tabata - OF
G. Jones – OF/1B
L. Milledge - OF
J. Bower - OF
J. Clement – 1B
N. Walker – 2B
R. Cedano – SS
P. Alvarez – 3B
C. Synder – C
A. Diaz – SS
A. LaRoche – IF
E. Kratz – C
P. Malholm – P
B. Lincoln – P
R. Ohlendorf – P
J. McDonald – P
D. McCutchen – P
S. Gallagher – P
J. Karstens – P
E. Meek – P
J. Hanrahan – P
J. Ascino – P
W. Ledezma - P
Free Agent – P

The rest of the 40 Man
D. Moskos - P
K. Hart – P
C. Morton - P
J. Martinez – P
D. Veal - P
R. Aguero – P
B. Morris – P
P. Ciriaco – SS
S. Pearce – 1B
G. Hernandez – OF
J. Jarmillo – C
S. Marte – OF
R. Owens – P
J. Locke – P
M. Crotta – P

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Not good (13-26)

The Pirates are clearly not ready for prime time with the sweep by the Cards. Not much to say on that front. Tabata continues to be great, McCutchen is McCutchen, and Alvarez got a hit. Other than that, nothing good.

So let us go to the minors for some good news. State College followed up a great outing yesterday by Zack Von Rosenberg with a win. It was a 7-6 come back win. Zack Dodson was only so-so in his four innings. No walks three strike outs but 6 runs 5 of which were earned. Trent Stevenson continues to look really good as he went three innings with only one hit a walk and mutliple strike outs. Mel Rojas went hitless, but he is donig pretty well.

Altoona won off of the efforts of Hector Gimenez. How this guy fits into the future of the Pirates is interesting. They just got another catcher in the trade with Arizona, and Sanchez is coming, but Gimenez is looking rather good right now.

Indy lost big. They are not a good team with all of their talent raided by the majors. Charlie Morton started and only gave up one earned run, but showed the same problems he always has: unable to work when the going is tough. He gave up two more unearned runs, and he walked six. That is not good. The loss came when Daniel Moskos struggled again. He has really fallen off at Triple A. His ERA is above 9. I hope he gets it together because next year's pen might need him.

The Maurders were rained out.