Sunday, February 27, 2011

Spring Training First Official Weekend

The Pirates split two games with the Rays this weekend. One really cannot learn much from these games and really one needs to start looking at bodies of work rather than one outing, so this is really kind of hard judge anything at this point.

A lot is being made of Morton's outing as opposed to Brad Lincoln's since those guys are both after the 5th spot. Morton got Longoria out while Lincoln gave up a homer. However, Lincoln did appear to be aggressive and got a strike out while Morton did not. Morton also gave up a walk, and was bailed out by two double plays. Now that could be a good sign of getting ground balls, but what we really need to see from Morton is how he gets out of jams and recovers from something not going his way. Lincoln did seem to have trouble blowing the fast ball past people, but again it is early in spring training. I also think they have already made the decision to keep Morton on, and I do think that he will be a disaster.

One thing that I see that will be good is an aggressive approach on the basepaths. McCutchen got a steal today, and Wimberly had one against the Manatees. The team is running. They never did enough of that before. The Pirates are loaded with speed. They ought to run.

Wimberly is looking like a very patient hitter. He draws a lot of walks, or at least has so far. They have also played him both in the infield and in center field. I like the versatility. They have also played Josh Rodriguiz at both second and short.

Another thing that I was excited to see was Daniel Moskos. He pitched against AAA quality guys, but he got them out. He did struggle a bit there last year. Outing number one looked pretty good for Moskos.

Tomorrow is a Split Squad with two games. I always enjoy those the most because you see more guys. Looking forward to it.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Manatee Game 2011

The Pirates won 21-1. That is a relief. This game is interesting because usually the Pirates play people who are on the outside looking in. There will be no Andrew McCutchen in this game. It featured Steven Pearce, who hit two doubles, Garret Atkins, who hit a multi-run homer, and Brian Friday, who hit a homer. Corey Wimberly played as well. Wimberly played at second base. John Bowker played in this game as well, which despite his decent performance, is a bad sign for him.

Aaron Thomson pitched an 11 pitch perfect first inning if you believe in omens. Michael Crotta logged a perfect inning as well. I believe we will see him in the pen this year. Not out of Spring Training, but before all is said and done.

Others who played included Gorkys Hernandez who had three RBIs. D'Arnaud played, which was interesting. Maybe he will not be sent back to AA as everyone else seemed to be destined for AAA. He walked his first time up. I can't find more in-depth stats as this game is not "official". I did manage to find the recently hyped Tyler Yates. He gave up the Pirates only run.

An interesting note is that Pedro Ciraco did not play in this game. Perhaps a good sign for his future.

The Pirates have been racking up injuries so far in camp. It is becoming clear that Hart will not be ready for the start of the season. Ascino had some elbow tightness. Not a good sign. Scott Oleson also has taken a week off of throwing making it more and more likely that Charlie Morton will be allowed to sink the Pirates season just like he did last year.

Looking forward to real games get going.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Camp is Open 2011

Pitchers and Catchers have arrived. So have many of the other players. Spring Training this year will be all about watching the young guys. Very few positions open on the major league team, so not many story lines. I will go ahead and outline the ones I will be watching.

1. Corey Wimberly. Will he make the team?
2. How many catchers? I am on record as saying the Pirates will take 3 catchers to Opening Day.
3. Jose Ascino. How will he look after his injuries?

I think those are the three big stories. Here are a few that are going to be covered, but I think are non-stories.

1. Fifth Starter. This is already decided from on high. Charlie Morton will be losing ball games in blow out fashion every fifth day for half the season again. He is out of options, and Lincoln is not. The Pirates want Karstens in the pen, and Olsen is a lefty needed in the pen.
2. Bullpen. I also think that this is mostly moot now with the signing of Joe Biemel. That rounds it out. They will pick the closer before the first spring game, which should show us all we need to know for the pen. It will look like this: Hanrahan, Meek, Resop, Biemel, Olsen, Karstens, Ascino.
3. Rule 5. Will our pick make the team? Of course he will. All the Rule 5 picks have broken camp with the team, and so will this year's edition.

Still, Camp is always a fun time of year. Looking forward to it.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Our Organizational Strength

Buccofans has the best post I have yet seen on exactly how the organization has improved since 2007 when the leadership changed. It is a chart of the minor league free agents signed.

I would just add one thought to the list he has provided. Remember that Tyler Yates and Brian Burres were signed as minor league free agents, but both were signed from the Pirates themselves. They chose to remain in the PIrate system. So those guys are not really additions, but keepers from the last year.

Good stuff that makes me hopeful for the future.

Friday, February 4, 2011

West Virginia Power Roster Predictions

This is the team everyone in the nation will be watching because it will be loaded with future Pirate superstars.

C - Kawika Emsley-Pai
1B -Matt Curry
2B -Kelson Brown
3B -Eric Avila
SS - Drew Maggia
LF -Adelberto Santos
CF -Mel Rojas Jr.
RF - Daniel Grovatt

One quick note. I do think that we will see a lot of Justin Howard as back up 1B. He will probably not go to State College as he has already played against college players. I think the Pirates were real disappointed with the catchers in the low A range, so I believe Emsley-Pai will get every opportunity to shine as the starter.

SP - Jameson Taillon
SP - Zack Von Rosenburg
SP - Colton Cain
SP - Zachary Dodson
SP - Zachary Fuesser
SP/RP - Brooks Pounders
RP - Victor Black
RP - Brent Klinger
RP - Jason Townsend

Of course this is where the excitement is for the Power. Taillon will be the big name here, but Von Rosenburg and Cain are going to be future PIrate starters too. Dodson looked good last year and then the fifth spot is the question. Do they bring Stetson Allie up or use one of the other previous draft picks. Fuesser had a better year than Trent Stevenson so I put him in the rotation. Steveson will probably start back at State College, and I think the Pirates have shown before they like to start similar guys at different levels. Think of how they separated D'Arnaud and Mercer (and appear on the verge of doing it again this year). Allie then will probably start at State College. I think the fact that Pounders usually came in to take the 3rd or 4th inning means he does that again this year from West Virginia. He is not moved to the pen, but this is way to get guys some psuedo-starts when you have so many prospects. Victor Black has been told he will be in the pen this year, and Klinger and Townsend have already been in the pen, so they seem like potential guys to watch out of the pen, although Black could start up in High A.

All in all this is the team to watch. How will Drew Maggia and Mel Rojas do, not to mention Grovatt. What about Eric Avila? And is Emlsey-Pai an actual prospect? This is good stuff. I will be watching.