Wednesday, July 2, 2008

X marks the spot...

Once the two AAAA starters, Pittsburgh's JVB and Cincy's Daryl Thompson, took a seat on the pine, a real ballgame broke out. The Pirate bullpen of Denny Bautista, Sean Burnett, John Grabow, and Tyler Yates outdueled the Red's relievers and the Bucs won 9-5 to take the series.

The first five Pirates got hits off Thompson, and before the night was over, Xavier Nady went yard twice and Jose Bautista once to offset 3 Cincinnati dingers off JVB. Van Benschoten's career ERA is 9.05, the highest in MLB history for a pitcher with 16 starts or more, according to Stats Inc. Ouch.

As a starter, JVB is 1-10 with an 8.82 earned run average. In 67 1/3 innings, he's given up 66 earned runs. And he's our sixth starter?

Pittsburgh called up Steve Pearce to replace Matt Capps. We have no idea why, as it left the pen an arm short, but we assume tomorrow's off day will see JVB returned to Indy and another pitcher added to the staff.

Besides that bat the pitcher eighth hocus-pocus, our only question is why Jack Splat is batting ninth and Freddie Sanchez (who sat out tonight) is batting second. Logic would dictate they flop positions, at least until Sanchez finds his stroke.

Sanchez is batting .229. His backup, Luis Rivas, edged ahead of him tonight, now sporting a .231 average. Even Adam LaRoche, up to .235, is leaving him in the rear view mirror.

Now off to Milwaukee. We suppose both teams will bat their hurlers eighth. Who needs a DH?

On the Pirate front: Pirates closer Matt Capps will be out at least the next eight weeks with a right shoulder grinch. He had an angiogram Wednesday which revealed bursitis and showed an internal rotational deficit (shoulder misalignment) as well.

He's on the 15-day DL for now, and a decision as to whether to move him to the 60-day DL be made dependent on his rehab progress. Keeping him off the 60-day DL allows the Pirates to bring Capps back early if he recovers more quickly than expected.

The injury won't require surgery. Get well quick, Matt. We don't know if we can take two months of Romulo Sanchez as a possible closer. It also ratchets up the odds that Damaso Marte, John Grabow and Tyler Yates finish up the year in Pittsburgh.

> JVB will arrive at Great American for his start tonight after having spent the night in his own home, which is a six-minute drive across the Ohio River in Ludlow, Ky. The right-hander grew up about 12 miles east of Cincinnati, in the suburb of Milford.

Oddly, Van Benschoten had never been inside Great American Ball Park, which opened in 2003, until the team arrived in town on Monday.

> We didn't note it in the post-game news, but we certainly didn't mean to underplay the fact that Jack Splat's glove had as much to do with last night's win as did his 3 hits.

He speared a two-out liner in the first, threw out a runner at home in the second inning and another at second base on a great hustling play backing up Jose Bautista in the tenth. OFs Doug Mientkiewicz and Nate McLouth made sweet diving catches, too.

> On the Keystone Kop side of the game, watching Ryan Doumit not score from second on a double and get thrown out at third on the same play but for the grace of terrible call by a rookie ump rates right up there. That and watching any Pirate try to bunt.

On the hot stove front:
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports wrote that both the Haloes and the Rays could be looking into deals for Matt Holliday, Jason Bay, Xavier Nady, Ken Griffey Jr., or Adam Dunn. They have more than enough on the farm to get something done

On the minor league front:
At Lynchburg, RF Jamie Romak kept on keeping on. He went 2 for 4 with a home run - his 14th - and two RBI. RHP Mike Crotta, 23, went seven shutout innings, allowing just three hits while notching his 7th win.

> Recent draftee Matt Hague hit his third home run and went 2 for 4 at Hickory.

On the draft front: Tanner Scheppers said he's penciled in to come to Pittsburgh on July 27 to get poked and prodded by the Bucco medicos. He expects to be healthy enough to throw off a mound for GM Neal Huntington and company while he's in town.


WilliamJPellas said...

Agreed completely that the Angels and Rays are the most likely trade partners for the Pirates, if indeed any significant deals are in the offing this year at all. I think it most likely that the team will deal Nady and a reliever (either Grabow or Marte but not both of them) to one of those two teams. In exchange, I think we can expect to receive 1) a righthanded starter in the high minors, either double-A or triple-A, who can step in right away, 2) a minor league first baseman rated good or better as a prospect, 3) a second minor league position player, likely a catcher. Depending on how desperate the other team is and how adroit Neil Huntington is in handling negotiations, perhaps there could be a fourth player, albeit a long shot A-baller.

But for my money, if another team stepped up and offered the kind of package I just described in exchange for Nady and Grabow/Marte, I'd do it.

Meanwhile, I don't expect the Pirates to trade Bay in addition to Nady unless someone (Toronto?) steps up and does something silly-stupendous. Nady is definitely the more likely candidate to be dealt because he'll be a free agent after '09 and The Evil Emperor is his agent. A pox on your house! Away with you!!! Uh, or something.

Ron said...

An arm is crucial to any deal, Will, and while we don't think Huntington can land a Eric Beddard treasure trove, we agree that his best bet is to package players rather than sell them off singly. We'll see if the Capps injury takes the bullpen out of play. We hope not.