Sunday, May 11, 2008

Splash down postponed until tomorrow...


Ah, the last thing you want when you're on a roll is a rain out. But as Bingo Banks would say about tomorrow "It's a beautiful day for a ballgame... Let's play two!"

The game will be made up as part of a 12:35 p.m. doubleheader tomorrow.

Zach Duke and Jair Jurrjens, today's scheduled pitchers, will met in the first game. John Van Benschoten and Tim Hudson will take the hill for the second. It'll be interesting to watch Jurrjens, who the Tigers reportedly dangled in front the Bucs in an effort to land Jack Wilson.

They eventually settled for Edgar Renteria. Why did the deal make sense to Atlanta but not Pittsburgh? Easy - Yunel Escobar was ready for the show; Brian Bixler wasn't.

The rest of the rotation will get an extra day off thanks to JVB's start of tomorrow's nightcap.

Geez, we wonder what's gonna happen to all those Jalapeno Hannah potato head thingies, the cheesiest Mother's Day giveaway ever. The pink bats and wristbands will still get sold and earn the Susan Komen Fund a buck, but now it looks like Mz. Hannah won't even be able to give her stuff away.

A couple of odds and ends to help you pass a rainy Sunday until the Pens come on:

On the Pirate front: How big a deal is a five game winning streak to the Pirates? Pittsburgh hasn't taken six straight since winning 10 in a row June 26-July 5, 2004.

Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune Review reports today that: Freddy Sanchez's already iffy shoulder has gotten worse in recent days.

Sanchez re-injured his right shoulder making a relay throw during a game last week against the Washington Nationals. He has started every game since for the Pirates, but he is playing through pain.

"It was going good for a while," Sanchez said Saturday. "But right after that relay play it started hurting again."

Why do the Pirates suffer through so many mystery ailments? We thought the City was the health capital of civilized society, at least according to UPMC. So why can't the doctors figure out why Freddie, and for that matter, Chris Duffy, have bum wings?

On the deals that didn't happen front: Dejan Kovacevic of the Post Gazette relates this tale from December's winter meetings:

The best pitcher in the American League so far, Cleveland's Cliff Lee, might well have been plying his trade in Pittsburgh.

As some might recall, he was part of the five-player trade proposal between the Pirates' new management and the Indians that was quashed near midnight Dec. 5 at the Winter Meetings. The deal had Jason Bay and Ronny Paulino going out for Lee, outfielder Franklin Gutierrez and catcher Kelly Shoppach.

Neither Gutierrez (.243) nor Shoppach (.250) has done much, but Lee is 6-0 with a 0.81 ERA and 39 strikeouts.

The punch line: It might have been Lee's inclusion that killed the deal.

Lee, 29, is owed $10.5 million this season and next, including $4 million this season, and Cleveland was known to be willing to move the contract, in part to cover Bay's pay. The Pirates had no issue with that, apparently, but they preferred a much younger pitcher, 22-year-old left-hander Aaron Laffey, so that at least one component of the deal included a prospect.

The Pirates, from team president Frank Coonelly on down, felt they could do better by hanging onto Bay and waiting for his value to rise, which it surely has.

Laffey, btw, is in his second season with the Tribe. He's 5-4 with a 3.78 ERA in that span with all of a dozen MLB starts and 69 innings under his belt.

His scouting report: Laffey throws an 87-88 mph fastball with very good sink. He also has an above average slider and changeup. Laffey is a groundball pitcher. He lacks dominating pitches, which will prevent him from being an ace, so he should settle into the rotation as a #3 or #4 inning eater.

Sounds like every other Pirate left-hander on the 40-man, hey? Still, holding out for a young arm with some upside instead of adding a pricey vet makes great sense for where the Bucs are at now.

On the ex-Pirate front: Brett Lillibridge, who went 0-8 in a cup of coffee stop with the Braves, is only hitting .190 at AAA Richmond, with 29 K's in 121 at bats.

Mike Gonzalez, who recently tore some scar tissue while rehabbing from TJ surgery, hopes to be back in Atlanta by the end of the month. Gonzo threw an inning in an extended spring training game yesterday, hitting 90 MPH, and will go again tomorrow.

On the high school front: Mike White of the Post Gazette has the lowdown on the upcoming WPIAL baseball and softball playoffs at 2008 Baseball, Softball Forecast

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