Everyone can see how the poor work of the rotation is affecting the big league club. But consider the trickle down affect. The minor league teams are scrambling for pitching, guys are on a yoyo, going from level to level, and the whole baseball process is being disrupted. And there's no help on the horizon.
The Bucs drafted 3 pitchers with their first ten picks of the draft, but ominously, haven't signed any yet. They inked 6 arms drafted in the final 15 rounds, but how much help outside of organizational depth will that provide?
Hey, the Pirate window is probably three years down the road if they get some arms. Pedro Alvarez will be delayed a year if he doesn't sign pronto and pocket his $7.5-8M bonus. Andrew McCutcheon is the only guy in the minors that's shown he's truly ready for prime time.
We like the players on the field for this team. But there's no one behind them, and if they don't start solving the pitching and depth issues rampant throughout the system, that window may not open.
Get to work now. We know there's some sentiment to hold on to guys until the winter since this team has hung in so well, considering it's had to overcome the league's worst pitching. But you have a better chance of finding the pot of gold before the deadline. Go for it.
> We were saddened to hear of the death of Dave Ricketts at the age of 73 yesterday. Born in Pottstown, he was a back-up catcher over parts of 6 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates and later coached for both teams. Ricketts was a class act during his career and life.
He played college basketball at Duquesne, averaging 17.9 points in 1956-57. As a sophomore, Ricketts played on the Duke's 1955 NIT championship team. He was also one of the 1967 Cardinal World Series victors, so he knew how to win.
His brother, Dick Ricketts, also played both sports. He pitched briefly for the Cardinals and played three seasons in the NBA. He died in 1988.
On the Pirate front: John Grabow's been on ice lately with a tired arm, and Romulo "The Chief" Sanchez was sent back to Indy. The Bucs will square up the roster after the break.
> Adam LaRoche has a right thumb contusion, and should be back at first after the All-Star festivities.
> Phil Dumatrait played catch Sunday from a distance of 45-60 feet for about five minutes. Although the pain continued in his left shoulder, he said it's beginning to feel better every day. Sounds to us like a guy that was brought back from the DL too quickly.
> Xavier Nady's wife Meredith is expected to give birth to their first child, a boy, during the All-Star break. He'll be another Xavier, the seventh generation, we believe.
On the minor league front: Indy CF Andrew McCutchen went 0 for 2 as the leadoff hitter for the U.S. team in the Futures Game starting off the All-Star hoohah, and is hoping for an invite to the Olympics.
> RHP Jason Davis was called back to Indy and LHP Corey Hamman was sent down to Altoona as the pitching musical chairs continues.
> Altoona put 2B Shelby Ford on the seven-day DL with a high ankle sprain.
On the draft front: The Pirates agreed to contract terms with RHP Brent Klinger, 20, their 21st-round draft pick. He was 6-4 with a 3.18 ERA and 62 K's at Glendale CC. His fastball reaches 94 MPH and Baseball America rates him as "projectable," meaning they expect he'll get better with age.
> Dejan Kovacevic of the Post-Gazette writes:
It does not sound as if they will sign fifth-rounder Justin Wilson, who pitched the clinching game of the College World Series for Fresno State University last month. "He's decided he's worth a lot more than fifth-round money because of his heroics," Huntington said. "We've made our final offer."
If Wilson is not signed, the money will be used toward other draft picks. One high-end player the Pirates remain focused on signing is California high school outfielder Robbie Grossman, the sixth-round pick.