Sunday, June 8, 2008

Hot fun in the summertime...

Ah, a little payback. No, not during the early mashup between the teams, but when the Bucs finally turned the tables on a wild pitcher, in this case none other than the Big Unit.

Doug Mientkiewicz walked to lead off the third. He scored - on Luis Rivas' bases loaded walk. Jason Michaels walked with one out in the fourth. He scored. Jack Splat walked to begin the fifth. He scored. Mientkiewicz walked again to start the sixth. He scored again. Spot a trend?

Randy Johnson walked 5 in his 5-2/3 innings. Four scored, and the other drove in a run. How often has this happened against Pittsburgh? Sweet to be on the fat end of that stick for once, hey?

Zach Duke quietly put together another nice game, evening his record at 4-4 and dropping his ERA to 4.10. He went six, giving up a pair of runs on five hits, and striking out 5.

Damaso Marte and Tyler Yates came on to provide a little drama before Matt Capps got the call, and nine pitches later, he had netted his 15th save in 15 tries. The Bucs finished on top 5-3 to salvage a draw of the four game set with the D-Backs.

Yates wildness hasn't hurt the Pirates yet, but it's beginning to become a little worrisome. We hope he can find his eye if he's gonna keep pitching in the seventh. After all, his rep as a wild thing is what got him dealt to Pittsburgh.

The boys got a little feisty in the heat. Arizona manager Bob Melvin was ejected by home plate umpire Jeff Kellogg after arguing that a double was a homer in the second. Boo hoo, hehe. Then the clubs threatened to have a third inning smack down when Mientkiewicz and Johnson exchanged looks and then words.

The benches and bullpens emptied, but a tennis match broke out and calm was restored. Who woulda thunk the Zachster would outdo the Big Unit - and have more K's, to boot?

All in all, a fine way to spend a summer afternoon.

On the Pirate front: How good has the bullpen fivesome of Tyler Yates, Frankie Osoria, Damaso Marte, John Grabow and Matt Capps been? Today, the Pirates ran their record to 21-0 when leading after six innings. The outings haven't all been gems, but plenty good enough to close the deal.

>Jason Michaels was ejected for arguing a strike call yesterday. He was playing for the gimpy Xavier Nady, and as a result, Doug Mientkiewicz had to sub in right field for only the 6th time in his 11 year career. We hope John Russell explained the difference between passionate and stupid to Mr. Michaels.

On the minor league front: Indy scored 5 times in the ninth to pull out a 9-7 win. TJ Beam ran his record to 2-0 with a 1.72 ERA and Jesse Chavez, who's coming out of a recent pitching funk, got the save, his fourth. His ERA is 3.44.

Neil Walker hit his 8th and 9th long balls of the year, picking up 4 RBI's and his average, now at .237. The thought of Pedro coming aboard seems to have brought out the best in Walker.

Ronny Paulino is batting clean-up for the Indians, and went 2-5 tonight with a double.

>The Pirates made an interesting move when they signed Franklyn German to a AAA contract a few days ago. The 6'7", 260 lb. Dominican RHP has pitched for Detroit, Florida and Texas, and boasts a high-90's heater and a split finger fastball. German, 28, is considered to have closer potential.

His only drawback? In 158-2/3 big league innings, he's struck out 114 - and walked 119! So far in Indy, it's been 2 innings, 2 K's, 2 walks.

>Brian Rogers, the pitcher the Bucs bagged from the Tigers for Sean Casey, was released to open a spot. The suits didn't see him as having a major league arm. The transition from soft throwers to flame throwers continues.

>Altoona had a big night too, winning 13-5. Shelby Ford became just the tenth player in Curve history to record five hits in a single game. 5-for-6 on the evening, the 2B was a homer shy of the cycle and finished the night with a triple, double and three singles along with a pair of runs scored and an RBI. He's hitting .365.

C Miguel Perez (.304) and OF Jonel Pacheco (.298) also had big nights. Perez finished the night 2-for-5 with 5 RBI. He hit a home run, a three-run double, and a sac fly. Pacheco added three doubles en route to going 3-for-6.

>Mike Crotta led Lynchburg to an 8-2 win. The 23 year old RHP threw 6-2/3 innings, allowing two runs on two hits and striking out four in his longest start of the season. Crotta is now 5-4 with a 4.84 ERA.

>Brad Lincoln and Hickory lost 2-1. He went 5, giving up both runs, as his record dropped to 3-2. The Crawdads have lost four in a row, and 7 straight on the road.

On the draft front: Pittsburgh picked off some of the low hanging fruit and inked three selections this morning. 11th-rounder OF Dave Rubinstein of Appalachian State, 35th round pick LHP Tyler Cox of Illinois State, and 36th round draftee OF Kyle Morgan from the U of San Francisco all agreed to deals.

Rubinstein, a junior, hit .332 with 9 home runs and 48 RBIs as a junior and was an All-America. Senior Cox was 4-4 with a 4.55 ERA in nine starts, and Morgan, another senior, batted .298 with 6 home runs and 50 RBIs.


WilliamJPellas said...

I'm not sure I buy the reasons that have been floated for Brian Rogers' release. Although in general it's better to have a staff of "power arms" than a staff of soft-tossing "pitch to contact" types, pure velocity in and of itself is no guarantee of success. Sure, the fastball is sexy, we all get that. But would Randy Johnson have won as many games as he has if he couldn't throw strikes? Ask Nolan Ryan. It took him the better part of a decade before he could get the ball across the plate with any consistency---which is part of the reason why he LOST nearly 300 games in his career! (He also played on A LOT of terrible teams.)

Anyway, seems to me that ideally you need both. Hard throwers and a few soft-tossers, if only to mess with the enemy's head and lineup from day to day and inning to inning. Certainly at minimum you gotta have hard throwers who also throw strikes.

WilliamJPellas said...

BTW, Rogers was pitching very well this season in the minors. While his big league resume to date was thin and unimpressive, it was also incomplete. I don't know that he is the kind of guy we should have sent packing, at least not yet. Meanwhile doesn't Indy have some guy in his late 30s pitching for them? And somehow Rogers isn't big league material while this other guy, I guess, is? That's leaving aside such leading lights as Ty Taubenheim and Jason Davis.

Nope, not buying it. I think this was a case of new management getting rid of old management's acquisitions just to chart a new course.

Ron said...

Bill, we were a bit surprised at that move, given that Rogers is RH, was throwing pretty well, and is only 25. But they showed their hand when they dealt Todd Redmond for Tyler Yates. A pitcher has to be special to impress the new suits if he's a nibbler, and apparently they saw him a block to some arms they wanted to look at.
He was released June 4th, and a week later he's still not on anyone else's roster, so they must share the majority opinion on his upside.

WilliamJPellas said...

Agreed that the Redmond-for-Yates deal means this administration favors power arms over control pitchers. Again, in general, I get that and agree---but as frustrating as it is to watch Zach Duke get his brains bashed in from time to time, he can still be awfully effective when he's on his game. And there are few things as maddening as a "power arm" that walks the bases full every third inning.

So, we'll see what happens going forward, but it seems that this brain trust will take someone who throws hard over someone who doesn't, as their first consideration in evaluating pitching talent.

Ron said...

Good point, Bill, but I'm not so sure that they're ignoring off speed guys as much as trying to balance an organization that went overboard on them in the Littlefield years.
Judging them now may be doing them an injustice. We'll have to see what kind of arms they feed into the system over the years. Being AL guys, the tendency for them is to look for power arms, we'll admit.
But there's also the old baseball saw that says you teach a guy any pitch except the fastball.
Our guess is that they'll look for a mix in the long run, just to keep opponents off balance. But as with any work in progress, we'll see down the road.

WilliamJPellas said...

BTW, although Yates has been mostly effective for us---and a key component of our pen, to be sure---we might yet live to regret seeing Redmond head out of town. Atlanta doesn't miss very often when it comes to evaluating talent, and I have to wonder about a trade in which they like someone and we (evidently) don't. If nothing else, Redmond might have been good insurance for our starting rotation when we have to let a couple guys walk (Maholm? Gorzellany?) rather than pony up big bucks to keep them. Not that you can't develop more pitching in the meantime, and on that score maybe Lincoln's arm is sound and a couple guys from this year's draft can rise quickly through our system.

I'm just nervous about getting rid of Redmond when our system is as thin as it currently is, that's all I'm saying.

Ron said...

Well taken point, Bill, especially if Tyler Yates becomes trade bait as suggested by a couple of national sites. Even if he stays, a potential starter for a set-up guy isn't the greatest move in the baseball galaxy. But the Bucs thought they needed someone major league ready, we'd guess, so maybe overpayed a bit for Yates.
Redmond, btw, was the Player of the Week for AA Mississippi at the end of May, and in 13 starts has gone 77-1/3 innings with a 6-2 record, 3.72 ERA, a 1.25 WHIP, and 5:1 K to BB ratio. So the Bucs may have given up too soon on him, or he just may not have fit their profile. But he's doing quite well so far. And you're right that the Braves don't miss on identifying talent too often.