Friday, May 29, 2009

Houston Calling...

Let's see...Houston's on a seven game losing streak. In last place. The local paper is calling for the manager's head. The guy that's on the mound has an 8.13 ERA after seven starts.

Hey, just another day at the office for the Astros, and sadly enough, the Pirates. Houston outpitched and outhit the Bucs, taking an easy 6-1 win that could have been bigger if the 'Stros hadn't run the bases like hopped-up kamikazes.

The only noteworthy happening was a Donnie Veal sighting. He came on in the seventh inning, and gave up a run on three hits, with a walk and two strikeouts, in two frames of work. His heater was all over the place, but he showed a pretty nice hook.

And more importantly, he threw much better in his second inning than the first; the butterflies from his first appearance in three weeks had a chance to settle.

It just might be that they're getting ready to actually, you know, use him a little now that the pen is short, either as a long guy or mop-up arm. About time; the kid needs to face some MLB batters if he's ever to become a MLB pitcher.

-- Matt Capps was given the OK to pitch tonight if needed. Talk about dodging a bullet.

-- Ryan Doumit can begin strengthening exercises on his right wrist, fractured on April 20th. He'll begin warming up pitchers Saturday, though he won't be allowed to throw.

Doumit will be examined next on June 15th, and if that goes well, he can start a minor-league rehab stint. Still, the timetable seems to be about six more weeks for his return.

The Pirates don't seem to be in a hurry to rush him back and then have to shut him down again, and Robby Diaz and Jason Jaramillo are taking the sting out of Doumit's absence.

-- No news on Tyler Yates or Craig Hansen, who had tests done a couple of days ago. Guess they're not on a fast track to return, seeing how no one can quite figure out what's wrong with them. Ah well, someone has to keep Phil Dumatrait company.

-- Tom Verducci of SI's "Three Strikes" column says of Tampa Bay after the injury to 2B Akinori Iwamura:
"The Rays have hit a crisis point...If they do decide to make a trade, one scout suggested that they ought to pry away Freddy Sanchez from the Pirates. Sanchez is exactly the kind of player who fits well in the way Tampa stresses defense and grinding out at-bats."

-- Neal Huntington explained to's Jen Langosch all about his recent moves in building up the minor league pitching.

He explains that they need depth, guys with options, and don't need pitchers that won't buy into the program; so some of it is just addition by subtraction.

-- Speaking of signing pitchers, the Bucs inked RHP Scott Nestor and sent him to Altoona. Nestor was last in the Phillies organization. The 24 year-old has a power arm and no control; he has a minor league ERA of 5.07, averaging 10 K and 6 BB per nine innings. Pittsburgh continues to be a fastball flophouse for wild children.

-- The Pirates have traded Altoona IF Anderson Machado to the Cubs for a PTBNL or cash.

-- 2006 first-round pick RHP Brad Lincoln extended his streak of scoreless innings to 19 after tossing six shutout innings for the Curve on Wednesday. Lincoln is four innings away from matching the Altoona record for consecutive scoreless innings, 23, a mark that was set in 2006 by Franklin Perez.

Not to downplay Perez's achievement, but now he's pitching for the indie Atlantic League's Bridgeport Bluefish. Been there for three years, as a matter of fact. Sic transit gloria.

As for Lincoln, he made this week's version of Baseball America's "Prospect Hot Sheet" again. They think a call to Indy should be coming shortly.

-- And hey, forget about hot-stoving the Pirate draft. This year, every mock draft has the Pirates picking someone different, pitchers and position players. Should be an interesting call in June. GW will stick his neck out and scratch any Scott Boras clients.

-- Guess who's managing again? Jim Tracy is baaaaack. The Rockies fired manager Clint Hurdle earlier today and promoted Tracy, who was Colorado's bench coach, to the top spot.

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