Friday, July 4, 2008

Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades...

Tough way to lose a game. Tyler Yates has Bill Hall, the leadoff guy in the bottom of the ninth, behind 0-2 and twice looked to have him K'd. But he didn't get the calls, Hall walked, and a bunt, intentional walk, and Prince Fielder soft liner into left center later, the Pirates went down 2-1.

Walking the leadoff batter in a tie game in the ninth, bad calls or not, is an mortal sin in the baseball Bible. And now Yates knows why.

Paul Maholm was excellent, yielding only a run in eight innings, on a Mike Cameron homer. He changed speeds and used both sides of the plate masterfully last night. The Brew Crew's Dave Bush kept spinning his slow curve, and the Buc batters either watched it softly drop in or flailed away feebly.

Of course, stranding Joey Bats at third with no one out in the fifth didn't help the cause, either.

If the Dodgers had someone at Miller Field taking notes on Jack Splat, they may give Pittsburgh the ranch for him. He started two great DP's and climbed the ladder to haul down a liner.

Funny how when the Pirates are hitting, they can't get any pitching. And when the pitching is lights out, they can't hit. Might be time to start shopping. Hopefully, the Pirate wares won't be a blue light special as in years past.

On the Pirate front: Gorzo is gonzo. The Pirates today optioned LHP Tom Gorzelanny to Indy. He was 6-7 with a 6.57 ERA. Apparently the accountability thing finally caught up to the rotation. About time, too.

RHP John Van Benschoten is still with the team, and although he was rocked Wednesday, he'll get Gorzelanny's start. There's a whole cast of characters available if they don't want to travel the rocky JVB road further than that.

There's also the possibility that at long last the brass are getting ready to enter the market. And if they're after an arm, we don't believe it'll be Freddy Garcia or Josh Fogg, either, but a young gun in a big deal. Interesting times are around the corner for the Pirates.

On the hot stove front: According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Dodgers are pursuing Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson. They could make a substantial player offer from their collection of young 'uns. Wilson is signed for '09, and if they land him then the often and currently injured Rafael Furcal can walk as a free agent.

Class AA right-hander James McDonald, Class AAA shortstop Chin-Lung Hu and third baseman Andy LaRoche are among the Dodgers’ prospects the Pirates would like to chose from (and the trio currently being dangled in front of Cleveland for CC Sabathia.) Grabbing two of the three would be sweet.

This is the first bite on Jack Splat we've heard about since the blown-up Tiger deal of last year. And we must admit, Jair Jurrjens would have looked nice in the rotation.

If he's serious about playing out his contract and retiring, now is the time to move him while his value is up. And his off-season home (yah, the real one) is in LA. Maybe that could give the Dodgers some leverage in extending his contract and fatten Pittsburgh's booty bag.

It would only make sense, even if the team is weakened in the short run. As PennDOT is so fond of saying as we dodge the orange cones and blinking barriers, "temporary inconvenience, permanent improvement." The Pirates have to start to focus on 2010 and beyond.

What the heck, Bixler or Rivas can bat ninth as well as Wilson.

On the minor league front:
RHP Jimmy Barthmaier was named Indy's Player of the Month in June. Though he only picked up one victory, Barthmaier posted a 2.92 ERA in five starts.

> SS Jose De Los Santos and LF Miles Durham each went 3-4 for Lynchburg, which won 2-1. LHP Tony Watson pitched six scoreless innings and allowed 3 hits. He struck out 7, walked 2, and ran his record to 5-8 with a 3.69 ERA.

> 1B Matt Hague went 3 for 5 with a double and three RBIs to lead Hickory to a win, 8-4 over Columbus.

> At State College, Bucco draftees lit up the scoreboard in a 12-0 win. DH Cole White went 3 for 5 with two doubles, two runs scored and two RBI. 2B Chad Rice went 3 for 3 with four runs scored and 3B Matt Payne had three hits.

> The GLC (Bradenton) Pirate's 3B Jarek Cunningham went 3 for 4 with a run scored as the rooks were rocked 17-3.

On the draft front: The Pirates signed Colombian SS Jonathan Barrios, one of the top prospects in Latin America. No financial terms were released, but it may end up as the highest payout ever made by the Bucs for an international player.

Barrios, 16, is 5'10", 180 pounds, which is pretty bulky for a middle infielder. But the Pirates think he'll put on a couple of inches (up, we hope) and can stay at SS.

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