Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Slumber Company

-- Ya gotta score to win, but the Bucs didn't put up a run until Adam LaRoche homered in the ninth, and Houston won 4-1 in front of 20,690 fans who couldn't get tickets to the Penguin game. Actually, it was "Buck Night," and the promotion seemed to work out pretty well, except for the final results.

Pittsburgh's best shot to make a game of it came in the sixth when with runners on first and second, Ryan Doumit sent a two-out liner to the left field corner. Carlos Lee made the grab at the wall to end the inning and for all intents and purposes, the game. Lee killed the Pirates with more than his glove; he had 3 RBI tonight, too.

The Big O couldn't match Mike Hampton, who went six innings giving up four hits, walking one, and striking out eight with an assortmant of junk. Ohlendorf lasted five frames, and was touched up for eight hits - four doubles - and four runs.

Jesse Chavez, Craig Hansen, and Sean Burnett shut down the Astros for the final three frames, but the Buc bats didn't have an answer. They got nine hits, but eight were singles and except for the sixth inning, Pittsburgh never threatened.

The Bucs have lost four games; three of them were by 2-0, 2-1, and 4-1 scores. Pirate pitching has given up four runs or less in seven of the eight games played, but Pittsburgh is only 4-4. The arms have held up; now it's time for the bats to make some noise.

Tomorrow's Businessman's Special will mark the 2009 debut of Jeff Karstens. The Astros will counter with Russ Ortiz.

-- Delwyn Young will report to the Pirates Friday, and that's when they'll have to pare someone off the 25-man roster.

-- Of all the ballplayers that hit 100+ home runs since the 50's, who do you think hit the most opposite field blasts? If you guessed Roberto Clemente, you win.

Jeremy Greenhouse of The Baseball Analysts pulled the figures, and The Great One hit 54% of his 175 taters over the right field wall. I was around during that era, and I can guarantee you that his HRs weren't oversized pop-ups that plopped inside the 300' right field line. Clemente's balls were screamers, and usually cleared the wall near right center (375')...and in a hurry, too.

-- Xavier Nady left yesterday's Yankee game in the seventh inning after experiencing sharp pain in his elbow after a throw, a real concern as he had Tommy John surgery in 2001 on the 'bow. He'll undergo a MRI exam today to determine the extent of the injury; the Evil Empire is making noises like it could be a bad one. We wish the X-Man the best; pity it had to happen in his walk year.

-- In the Central, the Cards announced that RHP Chris Carpenter "will be out for a while" after exiting his second start early with a strained ribcage. You might recall his first start - it was a one-hitter against our hometown heroes. St. Louis is waiting on Thursday MRI results to determine how long he's going to be gone.

-- Hey, the Buc suits aren't the only tough-love bossmen around. Ala Gorzo, the Nats sent Lastings Milledge down to AAA. Apparently, bad juju coupled with bad performances both at bat and in the field made it an easy decision for Washington. He shouldn't have been playing ahead of Elijah Dukes anyway. Still, kinda interesting that one bad boy takes over for another.


WilliamJPellas said...

Really too bad about "X". I didn't know he'd had Tommy John in 2001; that would definitely explain the slower-than-expected start to his career.

Nady wasn't a great player, but he was definitely a good player. All he did the entire time he was in Pittsburgh was produce, and he was even better than expected with his glove, showing a better than average defensive game at both first base and in right field.

Even in the 'burgh, though, Nady had an assortment of nagging injuries that robbed him of a number of games. Mostly these were leg / hamstring problems. I honestly think he'd have gone over 30 HR and 100 RBI in 2007 had he not missed 30 - plus contests.

If he's looking at a second elbow reconstruction in his early 30s, and with him being a good but not elite hitter, this could conceivably be curtains for the X-Man. Which is a shame. He deserved a better fate.

Regarding tonight's game, I think the pattern of the 2009 season is already becoming evident. The Pirates will pitch better and play better defense, and they are also a bit faster than they were in 2008 (though they could hardly be slower). Unfortunately the team has real hitting deficits. I hate to sound like I'm piling on, but Andy LaRoche is just killing us. With even league average production from our starting third baseman, our offense still wouldn't be great, but it would be serviceable. If present trends continue throughout the season, I'd say we're better than mediocre but on the low side of average, at best.

Ron Ieraci said...

Yah, Will, it is too bad. He was going to have a tough enough time landing a fat deal with Manny, Vlad, Holliday and Ankiel coming out next year, but if he gets the knife to boot...

And the Pirates do need some productive guys at the plate. It's early, but they leave way too many guys on base. Otherwise, they are at least incrementally improved from last year.

WilliamJPellas said...

Speaking of Ankiel, I for one think he'd look really good in black and gold. And given the late start to his career as a full time hitter, I'd think his negotiating leverage is likely to be somewhat less than it would otherwise be for a 30 year old, lefthanded, power hitting outfielder.

I bet he could be had for reasonable dollars. Of course, I realize we have Tabata coming up from the minors, but if Ankiel would take two years plus an option, we could ease Tabata in, say, in September 2010. That way he gets a full year at triple A (assuming he'll be promoted to Indy late this year, then gets a big league cup of coffee late in 2010). If he tears the cover off the ball at triple-A in 2011, we bring him up for good at the All Star break. Meanwhile our outfield for at least a year and a half is: Ankiel in left, McCutchen in center, McLouth in right, with Moss the fourth OF.

Whaddaya say?

Ron Ieraci said...

Another LH outfielder, Will? Besides, I'm willing to give Moss a full year to see what he has. I'm still holding out for Rocco Baldelli, hehe.

WilliamJPellas said...

Well, I'm giving Moss this season, 2009, to show what he can do. While I like Brandon and think he's pretty good, his knee injury looks to me like a chronic condition. I'd be surprised if he can hold up with more than part time duty. That, to me, spells "fourth outfielder". That's why I'm stumping just a little bit for Ankiel.

That said, I like Rocco, too. Always have. I dunno if he is going to be able to stay on the field, himself, given his medical condition. But if he could give you 400 at bats and 120 games, you bet I'd love to see him in black and gold.