Imagine GW's surprise when arriving home from PNC to find out not only had the Pirates lost the ballgame but Pedro, too. Let it rain...
First, the ballgame. Nicely pitched by Zach Duke and Jason Marquis. The game was decided in the seventh on two bunts and a well-placed double.
Reed Johnson led off with a bunt single to the left side of the diamond, right after Andy LaRoche had dropped back after playing him tight, we would guess on the bench's command. Mark DeRosa followed by doubling down the line.
With the infield in, Ronny Cedano hit a soft roller to third. LaRoche had an iffy play at plate, and took the sure out at first. We're not sure we agree that was the right choice given the circumstances, but c'est la vie. Then Henry Blanco popped up a safety squeeze, dropping it in a step beyond Duke and stopping fair by a ball's width.
Two manufactured runs, and that was the ballgame. You won't win many with five hits anyway, although early on the Pirates stranded a pair at third with two down. But Raul Chavez' lead-off single in the fifth would be the last hit for Pittsburgh.
We did see enough in person of Andy LaRoche to confirm that he's gonna be a project at third base, after seeing reports all over the board on his fielding. We're not too concerned about his bat. Once he relaxes, it'll come around.
But he doesn't seem to be very instinctive or reactive at the hot corner, he doesn't range far afield, and we were surprised he didn't trip over himself a couple of times with his watusi footwork. He does have a nice arm.
Correctable faults? To a degree, but we don't ever see him as becoming more than an average fielding third baseman at best. His lumber will have to carry him, and that's not at all uncommon on the corner.
The Pirates made a roster move before the game, adding RHP Jesse Chavez to both the 40-man (Phil Dumatrait was placed on the 60-day DL) and active rosters, and sending Craig Hansen to Indy for a few days. He pitched a scoreless ninth, featuring a Chavez-to-Chavez battery.
Now on to the big news, the Boras claim that Pedro's contract is invalid because it was filed after midnight. This may not have much to do with Pittsburgh, but with the draft system as it currently exists.
He's always felt the deadline worked to managements' advantage, and if his goal is to stretch it out or perhaps dismantle the whole thing, his groundwork will be laid out in arbitration, with an eye towards the next contract.
Then again, it could and probably does have everything to do with Boras telling prospective clients that he was going to get the biggest bonus of the draft for his guys. Gotta protect that SBC (Scott Boras Corporation) brand name.
Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com wrote "According to one source familiar with the dissension, Boras is believed to be asking that the Pirates pay another $200,000 in addition to the agreed upon $6 million. Doing so would ensure that Alvarez joined Buster Posey as the highest paid player in the Draft."
The Player's Union is involved, too, and their participation will be on the contractual issue of the midnight deadlines and a wink-wink agreement to process late paperwork in violation of the Basic Agreement. It's not a strong case as we understand, but the MLBPA is the mechanism Boras chose to press his case.
We were always a bit concerned about the whole "e-mail the contract to the League unsigned" scenario legally. The Bucs never claimed that the entire contract was in by midnight, just that its basic agreed-upon structure was presented in a "timely manner." Now we'll find out what an arbitrator thinks of the process.
(Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com has a good piece with the history and legalities of the situation at The Alvarez Saga)
A third very-out-there possibility is that there are other forces at work that we're unaware of. What if, for example, Alvarez is hurt in some fashion?
There's nothing to suggest this scenario except Alvarez' reluctance to show up Pittsburgh, but if he is damaged goods, Boras has gained him another month (August 15 - September 10, the earliest arbitration date) to recover and pass his minor league physical, the last step of approving his contract.
In any case, don't look for the Pirates, along with many other teams, to deal with Boras again without a gun held to their heads. If a deal's not a deal, what's the point?