Monday, July 28, 2008

Monday pre-game notes

The Pirates called up RHP Jason Davis from Indy yesterday. To clear a spot on the 40-man roster, the team DFA'd disappointing RHP Luis Munoz. JVB was sent back to Indy where he'll work solely out of the pen.

Davis was signed by the Bucs as a free agent on March 29, after Texas released him. The 28-year-old posted a 6-9 record at Indianapolis with a 4.41 ERA. Davis is a big guy (6'6") with a fastball that can get into the upper 90s, although more often it's around 93-94. He also throws a splitter.

Pirates GM Neal Huntington said. "He's been in the big leagues before and he has Major League-caliber stuff. He gives us length and unfortunately, with a couple unstable spots in our rotation right now, it's a good opportunity."

In other words, he's the long man and spot starter for the time being, and maybe the fallback if Yoslan Herrera bombs again before Ross Ohlendorf is ready.

In his last four starts, Davis posted a 2-0 record with a 1.95 ERA. He has a 20-22 lifetime record in 6 MLB years, mostly with Cleveland, and a 4.78 ERA.

> Jeff Karstens is supposed to report today, and is scheduled to take JVB's next start Friday or Saturday against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Let's hope the wind is blowing in.

> reports that:
A proposed deal to trade Jay Bay to Atlanta in exchange for four minor leaguers was killed when presented to the Pirates owners for approval.

Still as the week progresses, the Braves will continue to pursue Bay, who is set to earn $7.5 million during the final year of his contract next year.

The Pirates would have a definite interest in shortstop Brent Lillibridge, who they developed before trading him to the Braves in exchange for Adam LaRoche last year. In addition, they'd likely ask for Brandon Jones, who would be considered a Major League-ready outfielder. He hit .278 (15-for-54) with seven extra-base hits, including a homer, in 16 games with Atlanta earlier this year.

To complete the deal the Braves would likely also have to include one of their talented young pitchers from the Class A level and another marginal position player.

We'd prefer to see CF Gorkys Hernandez, OF Jason Heyward, or RHP Tommy Hanson as part of the Brave package. Jones isn't a power bat, and we need to find one or get another arm for Bay.

Several sources say that if Pittsburgh does hold on to their oft-discussed trio of trading chips Bay, Jack Splat, and John Grabow, they still may be shopped during the winter.

> Phil Dumatrait has been reported as either not throwing in Florida or tossing lightly, so his return looks like it'll be in late August or more likely September.

> It's thought that Tanner Scheppers wants to sign and begin his professional career now, so his pitching audition for the Pirate evaluators, now pushed back to August, should be the make-or-break part of the deal.

On the minor league front:
Daniel McCutchen lost his first start at Indy, 4-3. He lasted six innings and gave up 4 runs on 7 hits, striking out 3 and walking 2. DH Luis Ordaz (.323), 33, had two hits.

> The Curve won 5-3 in 11 innings, with LHP Dave Davidson (4-2, 3.29 ERA) getting the win with 3 shutout frames. 2B Shelby Ford (.279), RF Tony Webster (.242), C Steve Lerud (.234), and SS Luis Cruz (.263) each banged out two hits.

> Lynchburg gave up an eight spot in the eighth and lost 11-3. LHP Danny Moskos (7-7, 6.30 ERA) had another not-so-strong start, going 4 innings and giving up 3 runs on 4 hits with 3 walks. RHP Blair Johnson (3-2, 4.12 ERA) was hammered in the loss. C Kris Watts (.310) had two hits and two RBI. SS Jose De Los Santos (.240) also added a pair of hits.

> Hickory won 6-1 behind 6 goose eggs thrown by RHP Duke Welker (3-8, 4.34 ERA). SS Jordy Mercer (.202) collected three hits, and RF Erik Huber (.263) & 2B Greg Picart (.258)added two more apiece. Picart had two RBI.

> State College lost 6-3 as three errors led to three unearned runs. LF Quincy Latimore (.230) had three knocks, including his first home run, and 2 RBI. 1B Calvin Anderson (.261) and SS Chase D'Arnaud (.250) had two hits each.

> Bradenton lost 4-3. Starter RHP Zachary Foster (1-0, 3.26 ERA) has a strong start, going five innings while yielding a run on 2 hits, striking out 4 and walking 1. The Pitt-Bradford grad, 21, didn't figure in the decision.

CF Victor Sanchez (.306) went 3-3 while 2B Adenson Chourio (.337), 1b Carlos Silva (.294), and C Jesus Aguilara (.300) added a pair of knocks.


WilliamJPellas said...

More and more, I'm thinking that any Jason Bay trade is likely to be this offseason---though it is intriguing that several contending teams are apparently fishing to see what might bite. If we're looking for a true blockbuster, how about Bay, Grabow, and Paulino as a throw-in for 5 of the Rays' top prospects?

Ron said...

I think, Will, that they're probably done until the off season too. My gut feeling is that if the pitching comes around the second half of the season, and they sign Alvarez and Scheppers, maybe Wilson, they may feel OK about the team going ahead.
So it makes sense that they'd take a breath and try to see what they have for 2009. The market doesn't seem to be willing to meet the price, not just Pittsburgh's but everyone's, and these guys seem like they don't want to blow up the team unless the pitching forces them to. But we'll see; I can't really get a read on them yet. My guess is they have mood swings about the condition of the team.
Of course, if Pearce looks like he might provide a little power or at least some RBI, then Bay is expendable with Cutch on the horizon. But if he doesn't fit in the six hole, then it's a different ball game.

WilliamJPellas said...

I have my doubts about Pearce. While his 2007 season was truly amazing, prior to that I don't think he was considered an elite prospect in our system. Of course, there's been lots of overachievers through the years, we all know that. But McCutchen he ain't, and never was. McCutchen himself, for that matter, is not going to step in and immediately (if ever) replace Bay's production.

In fact, if it wasn't for Bay's knee injuries, I'd be all in favor of re-signing him for another 3 or 4 years. With Nady and Marte gone, and no other really high priced veterans on this team at present, we could actually afford a near-market contract for Bay, which would mean about $8-$10 million per. Again, only his knees make me at all nervous. But I could definitely live with an outfield of Bay, McCutchen, and McLouth for the next 3 or 4 seasons, I dunno 'bout you.

Meanwhile, we could trade LaRoche or let him walk and get some draft picks, and choose between Pearce and Walker as our first baseman. (Pearce is your first choice, Walker your second if Pearce fails and/or if Walker is somehow unable to dislodge Bautista from 3B.)

If this comes to pass, and if our pitching is even average next season, I'd say we're in business.

Ron said...

He was drafted 8th round out of South Carolina in 2005. His line in low A was .301-7 HR-52 RBI.
In 2006, he was at Hickory & Lynchburg, and combined hit .273-6 HR-98 RBI.
2007 saw him go from Lynchburg to Altoona to Indy, and that line was
.333-31 HR-113 RBI.
This year in AAA was .258-11HR- 54 RBI.
So he's been a pretty fast mover, Will, and productive everywhere. I'm willing to give him a chance, though I don't think his power will translate in the bigs, but he still might be a decent RBI guy.

WilliamJPellas said...

Hmmm, okay, that's a pretty impressive minor league track you just posted. As you say, lots of RBIs, sporadic HR power. I wonder why he's been so (relatively) mediocre at Triple-A this season? Any word on that?

Look, if he can come anywhere close to his minor league production while in a Pirates uniform, I could care less if he "only" hits about 15 HR per year. Lots of doubles and lots of RBI are just fine by me.

I'm just saying, for me, Pearce is more of a "prove it to me" prospect than is McCutchen, at least at this point in time.

Ron said...

I hope he's a 15-20 HR guy, Will, with 75-80 RBI potential. I heard rumors he got off to a rotten start at Indy because he couldn't screw his head on straight after being sent back down in the spring (emphasis on rumor.) So now that he's up, and hopefully given a fair shot to play, we'll see what he has.