> How consistent has Paul Maholm become? His last outing marked the 19th consecutive start in which he pitched at least six innings. Eleven of his 20 starts have lasted at least seven innings. Maholm is 3-2 with a 2.63 ERA over his past nine starts.
> Out of the reams of stuff written about Adam LaRoche, the one item that really sticks out is his RISP line. He's batting just .223 with runners in scoring position, which goes a long way towards explaining his disappointing 55 RBI year.
Last year, when he drove in 88 runs, his RISP average was .313. That might have been an anomaly, as he was a .255-.265 RISP hitter in his three seasons with the Braves. It surely suggests that he's better suited to the six hole instead of a prime RBI lineup spot in the middle of the order.
> We're a little surprised over the hubbub concerning Steve Pearce's demotion. He was auditioning with Brandon Moss for next year's RF spot, and was losing. Moss' line in Pittsburgh is .209-3-7 with a .312 OBP and .403 slugging %. (Overall in 2008, he's .255-5-18, .325/.434) Certainly, that's not mashing it.
But Pearce was just .224-0-7 with a .299 OBP and .349 slugging %. Moss runs and fields circles around him. Factor in Nyjer Morgan's showing at Indy and Nate McLouth's virus, and it probably wasn't that hard of a choice for the Pirates.
He'll be back in a week. Our guess is that Pearce will spend September battling Morgan, or maybe even Chris Duffy in the spring, for the fourth OF spot in 2009. He's the favorite, but he'll have to show some pop in his bat to seal the deal.
> Factoid of the day: Chris Duffy (4/20/80 DOB) is just 10 weeks older than Nyjer Morgan (7/2/80 DOB). Time sure flies.
> Mike from Hyzdu Headquarters caught the Curve game against New Hampshire, and saw the Pirate scouts out in force. His take is that they're checking out the Jay's AA position players at NH for the Player To Be Named as the return on the Jose Bautista deal.
> Brian Bixler may be getting groomed for a utility spot on the Bucs next year. He's been spending a little time at second, as 24-year old Luis Cruz, signed as a minor league free agent from the Padre organization, has been playing more and more at shortstop since being brought up from Altoona a month or so ago.
BB first played second base last year, and in 22 games over two years, has yet to make an error there. It's also a good way to get two bats into Indy's lineup, as Bixler is hitting .285 and Cruz .322.
> After winning 15 games last year, LHP Oliver Perez is 9-7 with a 3.93 ERA this season. Jon Heyman, in SI's Daily Scoop, believes the soon-to-be free agent and ex-Pirate will command $12M/year over 4 or 5 seasons when he hits the market.