Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Nate can't wait...

Nate McLouth almost did it all last night, clocking a home run in the fifth and driving in the tying and winning runs with a bases juiced knock in the eighth. Guess he's just celebrating his freshly earned All-Star status.

In a game that'll be remembered most for 3 hours worth of delays, the Buc pitching did well enough - three more relievers used; that's 10 in three days, but who's counting? - and the Pirate bats came through when it counted (even if they were helped by a walk & beaned batter.)

Ian Snell returned, and so did his lost velocity. He was hitting the low-to-mid 90s again with his heater. But his control remained just as tenuous as ever, firing 88 pitches in 3-2/3 innings.

John Russell gave him the hook with the pitcher up after three straight batters reached base, and that provided the most compelling moments of the game.

Snell stormed off the mound, ignoring Russell and muttering darkly to himself, tossed his mitt, stomped into the runway and came back with a bat (not a maple one, we hope!)

But before he could bounce the lumber around the dugout, Doug Mientkiewicz stopped Snell, gently explained the facts of life to him, and sent him on his way with little pat. The storm passed. And that's leadership.

On the Pirate front: On Sunday, Jay Bay hit his 134th career home run as a Pirate. He's one dinger away from tying Al Oliver for 10th place on the club's all-time list. Bay should pass Kevin Young and Billy Maz this year, too, and start 2009 in 8th place, behind Frank Thomas.

On the hot stove front: Jack Splat says he doesn't want to leave, and the Bucs say there are no imminent deals in the works for him. We'll see - it sounds a lot like LA doesn't want to pay the Pirate price, although the lack of middle infield depth behind Wilson could be giving the team second thoughts, too.

They may think it's better to hang on to him for a couple of years until one of the lower level SS's can step up. The suits have played it close to the vest so far. The moves they make - and don't make - will speak volumes about the direction of the team down the road.

John Perrotto of the Beaver County Times says that "...the stumbling block appears to be what the Dodgers are willing to give up in return. Two sources indicated the Pirates are having a hard time determining exactly which players LA would give up.

A Dodgers source indicated that Los Angeles might be willing to deal CF Matt Kemp. The 23-year-old right-handed hitter, who has both power and speed, is considered a potential superstar.

The Pirates envision a long-term outfield that would include Kemp and Nate McLouth flanking CF Andrew McCutchen.

If the Pirates are unable to pry Kemp away, they are also said to be willing to consider a deal in which they would acquire a pair of prospects: RHP James McDonald and shortstop Chin-Lung Hu."

Wilson for Kemp? In a heartbeat. But we don't see him being part of the deal, unless it ends up being multi-player with Nady tossed in, perhaps (pure speculation, we are quick to add.) But what an OF that would be...

And for a while, too - Kemp gets minimum wage next year, and then arbitration from 2010-2012 before he can hit the market.

The other two? Chin-Lung Hu, 24, has been placed on the DL at AAA with blurred vision in his right eye. According to Hu, he suffered from poor vision in his right eye previously, but the problem went away during his career-year in 2007. There's a red flag for you, along with his lifetime .179 average in the bigs, though his glove is supposed to be really something.

James McDonald, 23, is 3-2 with a 3.52 ERA, 69 H and 79/25 K/BB in 79 1/3 IP in AA this season. At the very least, he appears to be ready for Triple-A. His scouting report: At 6-5, he throws consistently in the 90s, hitting 95 at times. He has a good four-pitch mix with a pair breaking balls and a superb changeup.

Some reports say the Dodgers are offering Andy LaRoche instead of Hu, but the Pirates don't seem to be in the market for another 3B'man, unless Pedro and Scott are playing very hard to get.

> They would love to move Chris Duffy and Ronny Paulino. Duffy is on audition at Altoona, but Paulino won't go until the off season unless he's a quick healer, since he's on the DL now for Indy.

> Steve Pearce was optioned back to Indy after the game last night. He went 1 for 3 during his recall with a double.

On the minor league front: RHP Jimmy Barthmaier pitched six innings, allowing 4 hits and no runs in Indy's 3-2 win last night. He struck out 6 and walked 2.

> At Lynchburg, OF Jamie Romak is still on a rampage, going 2 for 4 with two home runs, his 16th & 17th, and adding three RBI.

> Brad Lincoln (4-5, 5.20 ERA) went 5 1/3 innings, allowing 10 hits and seven runs for Hickory.

> DH Cole White was 3 for 4 for State College with a double and an RBI. He's batting .371 so far for the short-season Spikes.

> C Miguel Mendez went 2 for 3 (.552) with an RBI, and SS Jarek Cunningham was 2 for 4 with an RBI for the Bradenton (GCL) Purates.

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