Friday, June 13, 2008

Doesn't look like 1979...

Pittsburgh cannot stand prosperity. Up 6-1 in the third, the Pirates did everything wrong and were thumped, 9-6.

None of the pitchers had any command, missing Ryan Doumit's target by feet, not inches. The Pirates walked 8 unintentionally, and four scored. We won't mention all the 2-0 and 3-1 counts the Oriole batters had to work with, or the wild pitches.

The Buc batters had a field day for four innings. After that, 17 up, 17 down. They flew out 16 times.

One group doesn't throw strikes with the lead; the other doesn't chip away to add to it. It was a team loss in every way.

On the Pirate front: Get ready to chew some fingernails this series - the Pirates and Orioles each have 18 comeback victories, tied for fourth in MLB. The fat lady may have to make an encore.

>The O's and Bucs last met in Baltimore during the 1979 World Series, and the last time they rumbled in Crab Cake City before that was 1971, again in the Series. The two teams have met just once for a series in the regular season, at PNC Park in 2005. The Bucs took 2 out of 3 then.

Pittsburgh is 33-34; Baltimore 32-33. So somebody will be .500 or better when the three game set ends Sunday.

On the minor league front: What did the wanna-be Bucs do at Indy last night? DH Ronny Paulino hit his 3rd home run, a grand slam, and went 1 for 4 with a walk. He's hitting .550.

SS Brian Bixler went 3 for 4 with a triple, a walk and a steal to get his average up to .250. 1B Steve Pearce went 3 for 5, and is now sitting at .256. CF Andrew McCutchen went 1 for 5, dropping his average to .284. Finally *whew* 3B Neil Walker went 0 for 5. He's hitting .228.

>At Lynchburg, RF Jamie Romak hit his 11th home run and went 1 for 3 with a walk. His average is .290. The Brave throw-in on the Adam LaRoche deal is looking more and more like a real prospect.

On the hot stove front:
This is a little nuts. Jayson Stark of ESPN writes: "The Jason Bay/Xavier Nady rumors continue to percolate. But an official of one team that investigated says we should take all Pirates trade rumors this July with an entire shaker of salt.

'My feeling is they're not going to trade any of those guys, because [their ownership] wants to finish at .500. They haven't done it in 15 years. So if they're even close at the deadline, they won't trade anybody.'"

Scary news, if true. We've suffered through 15 years already; don't blow it now. Even if the suits move just big one guy and bring up McCutch, that will at least give us a sign that there's a light at the end of what's been a very long tunnel.

Actually, the sense we've gotten is that the brass don't plan to blow up the Bucs, but add a young piece or two and try to hang around in the Central while they rebuild the minors - and their fan base. After all, the pitching is young, and there's not much on the horizon to bump them. And we're OK with that.

We think they could move Nady (we'd rather move him than Bay because of Boras and his cranky wheels), LaRoche, Yates, Paulino, one of the lefty starters, one of the lefty set up guys and some other assorted odds and ends, and score a prospect or two and a few young guys to stock the system.

Hopefully, people will eventually go to PNC for the baseball one fine day instead of the bobbleheads.

On the high school front: Canon-McMillan scored 7 runs in the first two innings and cruised past Spring-Ford, 10-2, to win the PIAA Class AAAA championship.

>Burrell lost the PIAA Class AA championship this morning, dropping a 8-3 decision to Loyalsock.

>Camp Hill junior pitcher Matt Spiegel threw a two-hitter, striking out five and walking three as the Lions defeated WPIAL champion Carmichaels, 2-0, in the PIAA Class A baseball championship.

>Vicentian brought home the girls' A softball crown with a 2-1 victory against Upper Dauphin. The Royals were led by senior pitcher Trish Melvin, who struck out 14 batters and tossed a two-hitter.

Latrobe lost its bid to win the PIAA Class AAAA title, falling 3-0 to Hatboro-Horsham in a rematch against the defending champs.


WilliamJPellas said...

I'm mostly in agreement with you on that list, though I personally would not deal one of the young(er) lefthanded starters we have. I'm also inclined to hold onto Yates unless someone overpays for him---either alone or as part of a package---because he is one of the few hard throwers we have on the current big league roster (more are coming, but they're not here yet).

But otherwise, I think you're dead on it. In other words, the 2008 Pirates are good enough and young enough and have enough even younger guys about to graduate from Triple-A that a total demolition is not required, PROVIDED Pirates' brass is smart with a smaller number of trades than we initially thought were coming. Picture a scenario in which all 3 of our top players at Indy come up at some point over the rest of this season and are established big leaguers from the get go in 2009. That is, McCutchen is in center with McLouth moving to right, Walker is the regular at third, and Pearce at first. Let's say that Walker and Pearce give us production that is comparable to the two guys they are replacing, namely Bautista and LaRoche. Dunno 'bout you, Ron, but I'd think that wouldn't be too difficult! :-D Anyhoo, figure that we dump LaRoche on some AL pennant pretender for cash and a bag of baseballs, and that we move Nady and Marte as a package to, say, Tampa Bay for 3 of their good prospects from their loaded farm system. Let's say that one of those prospects is a righthanded starting pitcher, another is a middle infielder, and the third a first baseman, and that 2 of the 3 are with us to stay by some point in 2009.

All of a sudden, you're looking at a team that has 5 new young starters it controls for the next several years, and that still has its young starting rotation intact, along with productive veterans Bay, Sanchez, Wilson, and Doumit.

I'd take our chances with that group, given that additional reinforcements will be arriving from the minors over the next couple of years.

Ron said...

Yah, Bill, they can be a bit more surgical in their moves. We're still of the opinion that you could move Duke, Maholm or Gorzo as long as there's a deal in the pipeline to bring in a young righty. We'd guess Lincoln is the best starter at this point in the minors, and 2010 would be his erliest ETA, unless JVB has something we've yet to see.
Yates we can disagree about. They could lose Osoria too without us shedding a tear. Both have the same problem, as we see it - inconsistancy.
You can't count on Yates to throw strikes, and Osoria is so streaky it's stunning - he'll go two weeks being virtually untouchable, and then ten days where he looks like he doesn't know if a baseball is round or pointy.
There's a couple of arms in the minors Pittsburgh could probably get some mileage out of in the pen, like Chavez at Indy, Belisario in Altoona, probably a couple more that we're missing.
But it's fun speculating. Oddly enough, with all the free advice we've given out, Neal Huntington or Billy Beane have never given us so much as a call yet. Go figure!

WilliamJPellas said...

Heh! Yeah, no phone calls! Ingrates!

I'm curious as to why you'd be willing to deal Gorzellany. Although he's been brutal this year---and in my opinion has GOT TO be hurt---he's far and away the most talented of the 3 lefthanded starters we have at present. Duke wouldn't figure to bring much of a return all by himself, unless he gets on some kind of unconscious roll like he did his rookie year. (Said roll, BTW, is looking more and more fluke-ish by the minute, though Duke has certainly been better this year than last.) Maholm might actually bring the best return at the moment because of Gorzo's struggles. But all 3 of them, while definitely not great, are certainly bargains given their performance vs. what we are paying them. Why would you want to deal one of them at this point in time? As I say, just curious.

Meanwhile, Lincoln definitely looks very good in his comeback. I see no reason why he couldn't be with us by the midway point of next season, given his collegiate pedigree. That is, he's already pitched 3 years at the highest amateur level, which is probably equivalent to high-A or double-A if you consider the NCAA playoffs to have that high a level of play. Assuming he is fully healthy, I'd think he'd get a look at Altoona before this year is out, then start there next year. On to Indy for a cup of coffee and a tuneup, and he's in the 'burgh by July.

BTW, looks like the wheels have come of the LaRoche Bandwagon, eh? 2 straight days of benching! Adios, dude.

Ron said...

BTW, Bill, we do kinda like Duke. We mentioned him because he's the most likely to give Pittsburgh a return on the dollar right now. If he stayed, we'd have nary a complaint.
And we agree that if you need to strike out a righty, Yates is the man. But he's got value now, and with Chavez, Beam and Sanchez at Indy, he's probably the easiest guy to replace in the pen.

Ron said...

Whoops - forgot Gorzo. In our mind, the most likely LH to be dealt is Maholm, but the other pair have to be considered in the mix. Gorzo could be going through the sophomore jinx stage. But the brass has given very little indication of what arms would be available as part of a deal, so we're (as usual) taking a blind stab.
But a LHP is a big chip, and they need another righty in the rotation. They loaded up with LHP for PNC, and it worked. The team ERA is like 3 runs per game lower at home. Unfortunately, they play 81 games elsewhere.