Friday, February 13, 2009

A Little of This...

While the Pirate pitchers and catchers are getting poked and probed by the medicos, GW thought he'd take a quick lap around Bradenton and the league to see whassup as we enter spring traing:

* Now that the batteries are in camp, the next reporting date is Monday, when the position players are due in. Full squad workouts start Tuesday.

* The Bucs and Nate McLouth still may reach a middle ground on contract numbers and avoid arbitration. "It's possible we will be able to reach an agreement, and maybe more so today than when I spoke to you last," McLouth told Jen Langosch of "I don't know what odds I would put on it or what percentage, but there's a chance."

If they do ink a deal, it'll be a one-year contract, and they'll agree to disagree until next season.

* Dejan Kovacevic of the Post Gazette picks out what he sees as the top ten issues confronting the 2009 edition of the Buccos, topped by Adam LaRoche's miserable April starts.

* Rob Beirtempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review reports that LHP Phil Dumatrait just began tossing this week and looks like a very likely bullpen candidate to start the season.

* The Associated Press' Alan Robinson talks about the Pirate pitching. Buc skipper John Russell had this to say about Joe Kerrigan and his staff: “Joe is not going to be a miracle worker, he’s not going to come in and sprinkle fairy dust around and everybody’s going to be a Cy Young pitcher. But these guys will be better.”

* The Top 100 prospects list of 2009 was released by Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus. Pittsburgh is represented by Pedro Alvarez (#4), Andrew McCutchen (#25), and Jose Tabata (#91).

Current Bucs that were on the 2008 list were Andy LaRoche (#14), Andrew McCutchen (#24), Steve Pearce (#43), and Neil Walker (#94).

* The Sporting News takes the view that the 2009 Pirate squad will end up in the cellar of the NL Central Division.

* Tom Singer of explains how the hot stove turned cold for so many free agents this year. He lists the guys that took the biggest pay cuts this off-season:

• Jason Giambi: cut $15.75 million ($21 million with Yankees to $5.25 million with A's).
• Mike Hampton: $13 million ($15 million with Braves to $2 million with Astros).
• Bobby Abreu: $11 million ($16 million with Yankees to $5 million with Angels).
• Andy Pettitte: $10.5 million ($16 million to $5.5 million with Yankees).
• Carl Pavano: $9.5 million ($11 million with Yankees to $1.5 million with Indians).
• Pat Burrell: $7 million ($14 million with Phillies to $7 million with Rays).
• Adam Dunn: $5 million ($13 million with Reds/D-backs to $8 million with Nats).
• Omar Vizquel: $4.9 million ($5.3 million with Giants to Minor deal with Rangers).
• Jason Varitek: $4 million ($9 million to $5 million with Red Sox).
• Angel Berroa: $3.95 million ($4.75 million with Dodgers to Minor deal with Yankees, valued at $800,000 if on big league roster).
• Juan Uribe: $3.5 million ($4.5 million with White Sox to Minor deal with Giants, valued at $1 million if on big league roster).
• Brad Penny: $3.5 million ($8.5 million with Dodgers to $5 million with Red Sox).

* Baseball America rates the #1 draft picks of the decade - and hey, they actually have three numero unos they consider worse selections than Bryan Bullington!


WilliamJPellas said...

According to Dejan's top ten list, the Pirates have more or less locked in three spots in their rotation: Maholm (of course), Snell, and Duke. So, supposedly there are only two spots open. Again per Dejan, it's Ohlendorf, Karstens, and Gorzellany fighting for that final spot. No mention of Daniel McCutchen, and I simply don't get that. I know that under Dave Littlefield the Pirates seemed to prefer mostly soft-tossers who were strike throwing machines, and of course Zach Duke is the personification of that approach. McCutchen, while ostensibly cut from the same control pitcher cloth, nonetheless has outstanding numbers all through his minor league career, and one would think there'd have to be a spot for a guy like him. In other words, even if he is a Littlefield type rather than a Huntington type, surely he's at the top of the heap when it comes to his style of pitching.

Count me as one who is firmly in Daniel McCutchen's corner. I strongly believe he will be a very effective major league pitcher. Call him, a righthanded Maholm.

Meanwhile, it is distressing to see that Karstens' elbow is evidently still bothering him; I suspect he is hurt badly enough to need surgery. (Again, you'd think this would further open the door for McCutchen...sigh.) Reading between the lines, and assuming Dejan knows things we don't, I'd say Ohlendorf is a lock unless he completely blows up in spring training. Assuming Karstens is hurt, and/or will be the long man because Dumatrait isn't ready, that would leave Gorzellany as the last starter. Or McCutchen.

Maybe we'll see a June callup of both McCutchens. I could deal with that.

I am really getting worried about Freddy. I heard on another website that supposedly doctors believe he has a tiny metal fragment embedded in his eyeball. Do you know anything about that? The guy just seems to be one of those people who go through life snakebitten when it comes to their health. I am hoping against hope that he can hold it together for at least one more season.

Ron Ieraci said...

Freddie's bod is in a fragile state, Will. Remember, he had back spasms last year, his rotator cuff was "irritated" - and he still hasn't thrown 100% yet - and as for his eye, here's what DK wrote three weeks ago at Pirate Fest:

"The eye is more of an unknown.

The blurriness is the lingering result of a foreign object, perhaps a tiny piece of metal, that entered his right eye during a game in April 2007. Doctors attempted to address it last season with drops, but the effect was limited. So, this offseason for the first time, Sanchez is wearing contact lenses, even though his vision was near-perfect before the incident. That has helped, he said.

"I've lost some vision, and it's kind of frustrating," Sanchez said. "But it's something we're trying to get figured out before spring training."

That will include another visit to a specialist next week."

Your McCutchen seems to have the same mystery problem that Andrew McC, Walker, Pearce, et al, is said by the suits to suffer from, and that can only be cured by more time at Indy. Funny that Morgan or little LaRoche don't seem to have that same ailment.

It's especially odd since Daniel is one of "their" guys, and options aren't a problem with the rotation.

WilliamJPellas said...

What do you make of McLouth? For a guy who's been the quintessential good soldier type, he sure is playing hardball in contract negotiations. I guess it might not matter anyway if he has another season in 2009 that's as good or better than what he did in 2008---meaning, if he does that, the Pirates can't afford him long term, regardless. Maybe that's what Nate is trying to accomplish? Or, maybe he really was angry about the way he was jerked around by Jim Tracy and Dave Littlefield and he's sticking it to the club now that he's got some leverage? I wouldn't have taken him for the vengeful type, but I guess ya never know.

Ron Ieraci said...

I see it differently, Will. I never detected any animosity, just a difference in perceived value. McLouth and the Pirates both know that whatever salary he draws this year will be the baseline for next year and/or any longer-term talks.

I thought Maholm got a fair deal, and Doumit was low-balled a little, although his injury history may have contributed to that some. So I don't see any vengefulness, just a guy standing up for what he thinks he's worth. I don't believe that shows cockiness, just self confidence, which McLouth has in ample supply.

WilliamJPellas said...

Clearly you were right on about this, Ron. Nate signed today for pretty reasonable dollars, all things considered. I'm curious to see if he can maintain his 2008 offensive stats.