Saturday, July 19, 2008

Coors Field - a Hitter's Park For Everyone But...

Can't pitch, can't score, can't win. Colorado takes its third in a row from the Pirates, 7-1.

> Xavier Nady, proud papa, made it to Colorado tonight, but didn't make the lineup. He sat the game out, despite the desperate times the Bucs are struggling through. Are the winds of change about to hit Pittsburgh?

Now Nady did pinch hit in the ninth, and may have just been pooped from the excitement of his first child's birth and the cross country trip. But with the Yankees suddenly in the market for a right handed bat, the trade rumors will swirl hot and heavy around Nady now, and the bidding could get interesting.

> Watching Matt Herges pitch reminded us of one of the great Keystone Kop moments of recent Bucco history. It was tales like the Herges saga that keep the Dave Littlefield legend alive.

The Pirates traded two pitching prospects to Montreal in the 2002 off season, one of whom was RHP Chris Young, to get Herges. Then they released him at the end of spring training to keep LHP Dennys Reyes. Herges never threw a pitch for Pittsburgh.

It was reported that the final cut was among Herges, Reyes, and Salomon Torres. Torres could spot start, Reyes was left-handed, and Herges was left holding the bag.

Herges so far has a 10-year career as primarily a long/middle relief guy, with a 40-33 record, 34 saves and a 3.81 ERA. Young, in five years as a starter, has a 39-26 record, mainly with the Padres, and a 3.75 ERA. He'd look pretty dang good in a Pirate uniform right about now, don't you think?

Reyes? He lasted 10 innings with Pittsburgh, compiling no record and a 10.35 ERA. He was gone by May. So Littlefield gave up Chris Young and Matt Herges to have Dennys Reyes pitch 12 times for the Pirates.

And they may have given up on Reyes too soon. After a couple of so-so years, he's found a home with the Twins for the past three seasons as a set-up man/lefty specialist out of the pen.

On the Pirate front: LHP Phil Dumatrait is having a slower rehab process than anticipated. Though he's eligible to come off the DL on Thursday, he won't make it back that quickly.

"He's not throwing, from what I understand," John Russell said before Friday's game against Colorado. "He still had some discomfort. He played a little catch on Sunday. He'll go to Florida and rehab down there, get the inflammation out of the shoulder and start in on a throwing program."

He's expected to need at least two minor-league rehab starts before he returns to the Pittsburgh rotation.

More good news, hey?

> Russell said Pittsburgh hasn't decided on the Pirates' starter for Monday. And we thought JVB was Huntington's etched-in-stone choice as the #6 starter. Still, they have to start someone, and JVB has a good a shot as anyone. But the fact that the suits have to think it over doesn't bode well for him.

> LHP Tom Gorzelanny will make at least two more starts for Indy. He's scheduled to go Sunday, with a limit of four innings/65 pitches. He'll get another start after that, for five innings/85 pitches, then be re-evaluated for a return to the Bucs.

> In case you were wondering, like we were, where Jay Bay was during the inside the park home run that careened wildly away from Nate McLouth and rolled along the track towards left, well, he was at third. Bay backed up third base after the ball was hit to right center, as all old school LF'ers with a little hustle in them do.

> It's past time to quit beating up Dave Littlefield & Kevin McClatchy over the state of the Bucs and move on. We know they made boneheaded moves, like the A-Ram and Chris Young deals, but they were immersed in ineptitude all around them.

We have to assume that the signings, deals, and drafts they made went through the chain of command, which would certainly include Bob Nutting, before they were OK'ed. And the duo did zero in on pitching, unfortunately with many more misses than hits.

Our take is that the scouting and financial constraints they were working under doomed the pair to failure no matter what. So it was a true team effort, and while Littlefield and McClatchy deserve their fair share of abuse, it was a case an ingrained institutional incompetence. And they did serve to keep the heat off of Nutting's role in the organization's current shortcomings.

Let's hope that he's learned from the past. Nutting has given us small indications that he may be, though we have yet to see a signature move by the new suits.

On the hot stove front: Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports that a Pirates scout watched David Price's last start, though he was likely looking at other members of the Montgomery Biscuits, Tampa's AA club. The Rays are interested in Xavier Nady.

Price, btw, was the Rays #1 draft pick last year. He's a LHP from Vandy, and just made the jump from A to AA on July 1. He's considered untouchable by the Rays, so the Pirates were checking out position players in all likelihood. RHP Wade Davis, 23, or RHP Jeremy Hellickson, 21, who just made the move to AA, could also be potential Pirate targets.

It looks more and more as if a MLB ready arm isn't in the cards for the Pirates, and they'll have likely have to settle on AA prospects when they pull the trigger. No one seems willing to give up pitching without getting pitching back.

> One theory floating around regarding the Pirates alleged "unreasonableness" in trade talks is that it's all being generated by the New York press.

Apparently the Mets thought Aaron Heilman and a pick or two from their scrap heap were proper compensation for one of the Buc OF'ers, and are venting their displeasure through the media, probably more to save face with their fans than anything else.

So consider the source when those rumors pop up, and hope that the suits sick to their guns and get the max available when they do deal. The future of the franchise could well depend on it.

On the minor league front: At Indy, LF Nyjer Morgan went 0 for 4 to end his hitting streak at 17 games. He's batting .272. He also bowled over Andrew McCutchen while the pair were chasing down a gapper, but both escaped the crash unharmed.

> RHP Brad Lincoln made his Lynchburg debut last night and was rocked, allowing 5 earned runs on 7 hits through 4 innings of work, in an eventual 13-5 loss to Potomac.

> Lynchburg LHP Brian Holliday has been named the Carolina League’s Pitcher of the Week. He joins OF Jamie Romak, who won the Carolina League’s Player of the Week last month, as the Hillcat's second award-winning player this season.

Holliday went 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA in two starts. In 12 innings, the southpaw allowed just two runs while striking out a league-high 12 batters.

The Moon Township native turned his season around after a nightmarish start in 2008. At one point, he endured a stretch of 13 straight starts without a victory. Over an 11-start period between April 29th and June 10th, he went 0-7 with an 11.13 ERA.

He started to turn his season around by late June, and in his last five starts, Holliday has lowered his ERA by one run. He's now 4-8 with a 6.02 ERA.

> RHP Matt McSwain allowed 1 run on 2 hits in 5 innings, striking out 6 while walking 1. He's 3-3 with a 2.05 ERA for Hickory, which eventually lost. The Crawdad's starting pitchers now have a 2.01 ERA in their last 10 starts, but only a 3-2 record to show for their efforts.

> 20 year-old Dominican C Miguel Mendez homered for Bradenton in the GCL, his fourth of the year. He's batting .409 with 11 RBI in 12 games. SS Jarek Cunningham went 3 for 7 with a double in two games. His average is .400.


WilliamJPellas said...

For Price and a better than average AA position player prospect, absolutely I'd deal Nady. I think that's a reasonable return for "X" alone. That said, I'd see if Tampa is willing to throw in 1 more elite prospect or 2 more good ones if we were to add Marte to the mix.

Ron said...

It doesn't seem like the Rays are willing to deal Price yet, Will, but you're right. A package will bring in more prospects than selling off one player at a time.
We'll see within the next week or two how the Bucs are headed. We're still not convinced that the suits think the team isn't competitive and that the pitching is just a case of bad karma this year. 13 games out of first and 10 out of the wildcard may say otherwise, but...