Sunday, June 15, 2008

Be still, my heart

Well, we'll say this - if the last two games of this series were playoff games, they'd be shown on ESPN 'til the cows came home. As is, the Bucs salvaged a win in the three game set filled with high drama, taking a 10 inning, 5-4 victory.

Jason Michaels two-out, two run single. Nate McLouth's catch with two out and two on. Brian Roberts going the opposite way for a two-out, two run ninth inning homer to tie the game. Adam LaRoche stroking the game winner in the tenth. Matt Capps getting a blown save and win in the same game, a day after George Sherrill did the same for the O's.

It's what you'd expect to see from two teams that aren't there yet, but heading down the right road. Big hits, big plays, big hearts. And what more can you ask for?

On the Pirate front: Xavier Nady has a left shoulder contusion after crashing into the wall chasing after a foul fly in the ninth last night. X-rays taken last night were negative, but he will have a MRI test tomorrow in Pittsburgh, and the results will tell the tale as to whether he'll go on the DL or be good to go.

> Who woulda thunk it in April? The Pirates have gone a season-high 65 innings without committing an error. That's 7 games plus. Who sez having Jack Splat back doesn't make a difference? (EDIT - Jose Bautista ended the streak at 73 innings with his ninth inning boot today. Nice timing, Joey Bats.)

On the minor league front:
C Ronny Paulino hit his fourth home run at Indy, a two-run shot. He's returning a bit to earth - his average is down to .429.

> LHP Danny Moskos is starting to heat up. He pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings and allowed 3 hits while striking out 7 and walking 1. His record is 6-3, with a 4.04 ERA at Lynchburg.

For those with a short memory, Clemson's Moskos was the Pirate's top pick in 2007, selected 4th overall, ahead of the now infamous Matt Weiters. He's being converted from a closer to a rotation guy.

> Brad Lincoln is settling in a Hickory. He allowed 3 runs on 9 hits in six innings. He struck out 4 and walked 2 in his shakiest start since coming back from rehab. We're curious to see how his arm holds up as the innings add up. Lincoln is 3-2 with a 2.70 ERA.

> Hickory 1B Miles Durham hit his 11th home run and went 2 for 4 with a triple and 2 RBIs. The 25 year old is hitting .335 with 49 RBIs.

On the hot stove front:
Dejan Kovacevic of the Post Gazette wrote today about why Jason Bay may be off the trade market - Hey, Jay Bay May Stay.

> MLB Trade Rumors agrees - "Xavier Nady is more likely to go. The Boras client is not expected to re-sign with the Pirates when he reaches free agency after the 2009 season. Trading him now makes sense - he's hitting well and he's more than a rental."

On the draft front: likes the Pirate draft. Their take:
"This is the year that Pittsburgh Pirates' fans have been waiting for. There is perhaps no other team that landed two more impressive talents with their top two picks. If Tanner Scheppers is indeed healthy, he and Alvarez are two of the premier talents in this draft class.

Pittsburgh then took advantage of the depth of college position players, nabbing two quality shortstops in back to back rounds in Mercer and D'Arnaud. Just when it seemed they'd go college heavy throughout the draft, Pittsburgh may have gotten a steal with prep outfielder Robbie Grossman at 174th overall.

Beyond just the elite talent at the front of the class, the depth that Pittsburgh added really is remarkable, and that's where the sleepers come into play for them. In the 8th and 9th rounds they were able to get two quality third baseman still on the board, Jeremy Farrell and Matt Hague.

Their best sleeper pick of all, though, may have been their 14th round pick, Mike Colla. Colla gives them a durable college arm with a good, low-90's fastball."

Hague's the only one they've signed so far, so we'll see how it plays out. Drafting good players is the start, but getting them inked and into the fold is another story.

On the ex-Pirate front: LHP Shane Youman, who was released as part of the Pirate housecleaning over the winter, was cut from Phil's Double-A team, Reading. He was flat-out awful, with an 0-1 record, 11.28 ERA, 21 walks surrendered in 22-1/3 innings and a WHIP of 2.42.


WilliamJPellas said...

Agreed completely that Nady should be the first Pirates veteran to be traded, NOT Bay. Much as I like "X", he's probably at his peak right now, and unquestionably not worth the money he'll demand because Darth Sidious-Emperor Palpatine-Scott Boras is his agent. Sorry, X-Man, thanks for the good performance, but you're worth more to us as trade bait.

Speaking of which, I've been beating the drum for a Nady-Marte package deal for some time now. Think a good veteran professional bat like Nady who has also been better than advertised defensively, along with one of the better lefty relievers in all of baseball, think that combo would tempt any number of contenders? How many good minor league prospects would be coming our way in exchange for those two going to, say, the Angels or the Rays?

Answer: a bunch. I bet we could get 4 good double to triple A guys, and more than that if we wanted to take some class-A players. I'm not a big advocate of going THAT low in the minors, BTW, I'm just throwing the numbers out there. But I'd be quite happy to get 4 of another organization's good prospects in exchange for Nady and Marte. That would mean that at least a couple could step right in and play the rest of the season in Pittsburgh, and the other 2 would be here to stay by 2010 at the latest. Yes indeed, I'd take that!

Ron said...

No question that a strong package would bring in more than individual deals would, Will. We haven't really followed what other teams needs; there's enough holes here to that need addressed, hehe.
We're not really sure how much of the brass' heart is into dealing yet as it is into signing the draftees, especially Alvarz and Scheppers, since Boras and the Bucs have gone to the mattress regarding negotiations. The money spent on them will determine how many of the other upside guys we chose will be affordable.
But when they do deal, a blockbuster will certainly result in a bigger haul than individual sell-offs.

WilliamJPellas said...

One note of caution, though, regarding any veterans-for-kids trades. Dejan Kovacevic had a great piece in the P-G recently in which he detailed the numerous failures of almost every similar trade the Pirates tried over the past decade and change. Only Jason Schmidt ever really worked out among the numerous players we got in exchange for our veterans like Denny Neagle, Jeff King, Jay Bell, and many others. There were a couple other guys who ended up as semi-useful spare parts / bench players. But that's about it.

That said, the Schmidt trade also included another guy who almost certainly would have been an All-Star had he not gotten hurt, and that was Ron Wright. Wright was by all accounts a monster, a legendary minor league slugger who was a close to a sure thing as you could find anywhere in the minors. Too bad, we'll never know what might have been.

Again, though, Dejan's warning is totally apropos. While I would like our chances in a trade where we'd receive some of the Rays' top minor leaguers, there's no guarantee they'd be productive big leaguers going forward. There IS some risk!

Ron said...

Risk runs both ways, Will. The Bucs just signed Snell and Sanchez, so...

WilliamJPellas said...

Great point, Ron. Well said.