Sunday, July 6, 2008

Gimme shelter...

With two guys coming off the DL and on a pitch count working the next pair of games and JVB the next, a rested bullpen would be just what the doctor ordered.

Well, forget the doc. Zach Duke gave up 6 runs in 2-1/3 very forgettable innings and the Pirates used up 4 relievers in their 11-6 lathering at Milwaukee. And Duke didn't even get the loss. That honor would go to Denny Bautista, who had a four run meltdown in the fourth inning.

And no matter how much Pittsburgh prides itself on the "bounce back Bucs" tag, they're staggering home to face Houston. We wonder at what point Neal Huntington and the suits decide that maybe this team isn't competitive, and get to work on putting one together that is?

On the Pirate front: Congrats, Nate McLouth. He was chosen to the All-Star team by players' ballot, the same way Jack Wilson made the team in 2004. It's a nice way to be recognized.

McLouth is part of a class of 25 first-time All Stars. The Cubs and Red Sox each had 7 players selected to their squad.

> It'll be interesting to see how (or if) the Pirates toy with the roster, considering Phil Dumatrait and Ian Snell will almost certainly be on a short pitch count leash when they come off the DL on Monday and Tuesday and JVB, ostentatiously the long reliever, is slated to go Wednesday.

They're working with a short staff now, though if Steve Pearce is sent down as expected, it'll be back to twelve when the pair return without any more tinkering.

> Dejan Kovacevic of the Post-Gazette brings up the "200 inning, 20 innings over the prior year" theory in his article today. Ian Snell and Tom Gorzelanny each topped 200 innings pitched last year for the first time in their careers. Snell exceeded his previous high by 22 innings, Gorzo by 40 1/3.

> Sending Gorzo down to Indy wasn't a spur of the moment decision, but has been simmering on the back burner for a while. On his June 1st radio show, GM Neal Huntington said the Pirates would consider shipping Gorzelanny to Class AAA Indianapolis if didn't straighten up and fly right.

"As hesitant as we would be to do something like that, yes, we would," Huntington said then. "I'd say we're still a ways away from that, but the reality is that we have to help Tom Gorzelanny."

It seems like everyone but Gorzo understood that he was on a short tether.

> Who knew? The Post Gazette found that Doug Mientkiewicz, who played for the New York Yankees last season, was a teammate of Alex Rodriguez way before that. The two played football together at Westminster Christian HS in Miami.

Mientkiewicz was a tight end and A-Rod the QB. Both had D-1 scholarship offers, too.

On the hot stove front: A bit more on the possible return for Jack Splat if he dons the Dodger blue: in an interview with, LA GM Ned Colletti said the tight market for shortstops means the Dodgers might have to swing "a bigger deal, rather than a one-for-one type deal."

If so, Colletti may be willing to part with an everyday player, such as Matt Kemp, 23, (OF, .284, 7-44) James Loney, 24, (1B .299, 7-44) or Andre Ethier, 26, (OF, .281, 10-38.) Whether the Bucs are looking for help at those positions and who the side players involved in the discussions are unknown.

This much is known. For once, the Pirates are holding the trump card for a possible deal. We'll see how they play it.

On the minor league front:
RHP Mike Thompson, 27, made his first start since missing 2 1/2 months to knee surgery. He pitched five scoreless innings, giving up 1 hit, 1 walk, and K'ing a pair. His record is 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA. Thompson was signed as a minor-league free agent this year from the Padre organization.

RHP Evan Meek pitched two scoreless innings of relief, but has been spotty at AAA, as his 4.85 ERA will attest.

> Ty Taubenheim's first outing after his return to Indy on Friday was a complete disaster. The RHP gave up 8 runs on 7 hits in 3 2/3 innings.

> The Curve won 3-2, in 10 innings. RHP Luis Munoz went five scoreless innings and allowed three hits, but still has control issues after his demotion, walking 4. RF Brad Corley went 3 for 5, including the walkoff RBI single in the 10th. 1B Jason Delaney went 3 for 4 with a double and two RBIs and is batting .300.

> RHP Yoslan Herrera, 27, has a 0.81 ERA over his past five starts with Double-A Altoona. Much of his improvement is credited to throwing his changeup more often. He should be in line to move up to Indy soon.


WilliamJPellas said...

I'd rather have Loney than Kemp at this point in time, because 1) we don't need any more of Adam LaRoche's act and Steven Pearce has regressed this season at Triple-A, 2) we've still got Jason Bay until further notice (along with McCutchen and McLouth even if we deal Nady and not Bay), and 3)because Kemp doesn't have the non-arbitration years that would otherwise make him very attractive.

In one of your earlier posts, Ron, you mentioned a righthanded starting pitcher and a top shortstop prospect in the Dodgers' system. I'd say that if we ended up with those two guys plus Loney in exchange for Jack and Marte/Grabow, that that would be a very acceptable return in trade. Keep in mind that even if those other two guys are good prospects, they're not big leaguers yet, and we'd only be getting one established major leaguer while the Dodgers would be getting two.

However, it bears mentioning that the scuttlebutt on some other sites indicates that a true blockbuster could be brewing. In this scenario, it's Jack and Nady and maybe a bullpen arm to the Dodgers for a truckload of players, most of them minor leaguers but also a couple of notable names currently playing for the Dodgers.

I think I like that even better!

What are you hearing, Ron?

Ron said...

Actually, Will, the names I hear are all over the board. It'll clear up when the Sabathia smoke clears. But from what I read of the tea leaves, I think a big deal - a half dozen guys, anyway - is brewing. My only regret is that the Dodgers don't have our crying need, which is young, MLB-ready arms. I think the Bucs keep Marte, throw in an OF'er and a bullpen arm, maybe play musical chairs with a couple of AA guys. From a selfish stand point, I'd rather see Yates go than Grabow, just because we'd go from overloaded with lefties to being down to Burnett in 2009 if Marte gets dealt or walks. I just hope something's on the horizon for a nice young RHP.

Ron said...

Eckstein, Guzman and Uribe are all available, too. They're free agents at the end of the year, so if the Dodgers consider Hu to be the SS of the future, getting a rent-a-player on the cheap would be the way to go.
If they deal for Wilson, I really think it'll be a bigger package. Nady sounds right; they need sticks in LA. Now that they lost the Sabathia sweepstakes, they have a lot of guys in play and could kill a coupla birds with one stone. Should be interesting; I think the ball is in LA's court now.
It's a pity Toronto has fallen from grace. If they were still in a race, a Wilson-bay package would probably net the Bucs a nice haul.

WilliamJPellas said...

Seems to me that Rafael Furcal can walk at the end of this season, as well, unless my information is incorrect. If he's healthy he's a heckuva player, though he's been hurt more frequently in recent years and that's a concern. On the other hand, you'd think that would drive his price down, and he's still not particularly old. How 'bout a 3 years plus an option free agent deal for Furcal? Basically a swap of shortstops without making an actual trade.

Just a thought for next season. ;-)

Ron said...

I dunno, Will. He's coming off a $39M contract, and while his price will go down, it won't be that much, I suspect. He could rally and become all that - he's hell on wheels when healthy - but he could also be the reincarnation of Kevin Young.
Options? Bixler, of course. I'd rather see him there than Rivas. I've also read some speculation that they could move Bautista there - not much of a glove, but certainly a bigger stick than most SS's. They could hold out for Hu in return for Jack Splat, though we need arms. We have a couple of SS's in the lower system, but they're nowhere near MLB ready and may not be for years, if ever.
Actually, I'd rather sign a guy like Eckstein for a stop-gap. Two years, an option, and maybe the system will grow someone to take over.
The Jays are still looking for a SS, and dangling AJ Burnett as bait. I don't think that's what the Pirates are looking for, though it would be interesting.

WilliamJPellas said...

Burnett is a heckuva pitcher when healthy, no question about that. He'd be an intriguing risk for this Pirates team. If he was able to give us, say, 350 innings over the next two seasons---a big if---he'd probably win 30-35 games for us.

Ron said...

Yah, that would make a statement, Will, especially after Sabathia and Harden joined the central.
He's under contract until the end of 2010 at $12m/year, and can block trades to 15 teams. We're guessing Pittsburgh is on the list, though we don't know that for sure.
His biggest red flag is that he's been averaging about 130 innings per season. If he could get it up to 175, he'd be worth taking a pop at.
And that would certainly send a message to the fans, and more importantly, the team.

WilliamJPellas said...

Here's the thing. Burnett is a risk, but he's a "good" risk. That is, there is no question whatsoever that the man can get it done. The issue with him is simply, how often he gets it done while he is wearing your uniform, ie, how often he gets on the field.

For my money, he is exactly the kind of veteran this team should target when it DOES go after veterans. A player who carries some risk but potentially a massive reward. As long as we are careful to make sure the bulk of our player acquisitions are young players (veterans-for-prospects trades) I have no problem at all if the Pirates decide to roll the dice on the occasional carefully chosen veteran.

Ron said...

I did screw up on his contract, Will - I thought he had team options for the next two years, but they're player options. So he could be a three-month rental and then off to greener pastures. Still, a move like that would give the brass some credibility, even if Burnett isn't on the radar.

WilliamJPellas said...

Hmmm, the contract thing does change the equation significantly. I'd want to know we had him at least for next season and ideally through 2010 before I'd unload any of our current significant veterans for him. Still, Burnett or a Burnett-like pitcher would be a great acquisition for this team---again, provided he wasn't the ONLY thing we went after.