Sunday, July 5, 2009

Bucs Flounder in Florida

We're looking forward to after the All-Star break, when the Pirates should be blown up and the future starts to arrive a piece at a time. But geez, until then...

Pittsburgh made Ricky Nolasco look like he was channeling Bob Gibson. He held the Bucs to three hits and struck out a dozen in eight innings to lead the Fish to a brutal 5-0 spanking of the Pirates. And hey, those eight goose eggs lowered his ERA to...5.42.

Not to knock Nolasco; his little slider and curve kept the Bucs off balance all day, and a generous strike zone called by plate ump Bob Davidson helped all the pitchers. And Since returning from AAA, Nolasco is 4-1 with a 1.54 ERA and 45 Ks in 41 innings. But if we had a buck for every pitch out of the zone, even Davidson's, that the Pirates swung at, heck, GW could probably buy Adam LaRoche's contract.

The Big O had a rough day. He hurt himself by catching too much of the plate, and his team mates didn't help. Andrew McCutchen and Ramon Vasquez miscommunicated a pop-up into an RBI, and Adam LaRoche (who struck out seven times in the series) made an ill-advised throw home instead of taking the sure out, eventually costing the Pirates another run.

But why quibble? When you get three hits, Billy Mazeroski's glove couldn't save you. And that's why we can't wait to see the new Pirates, the sooner the better.

Meanwhile, the old Bucs are visiting Houston. The probable pitchers are linked, from

-- Steady Freddy was named as the Bucco's only 2009 All-Star rep, as expected. Now he only needs 600 plate appearances to vest his 2010 contract, and he has 329 at the half-way point.

Only twice in the past decade have the Pirates had multiple players on the National League All-Star squad. That was in 2006 with Jason Bay & Freddy Sanchez at PNC, and in 2000, when they were represented by Jason Kendall & Brian Giles.

For Sanchez, it's his third appearance. And he's been selected at three different positions - shortstop in 2006, third base in 2007, and second base in 2009.

-- DK in the Post Gazette on current trade rumors: "The Pirates and San Francisco have had trade talks regarding Freddy Sanchez and, to a lesser extent, Adam LaRoche. The Giants have had a scout following Sanchez, and their interest in LaRoche goes back several months. Their preference though, is for a right-handed bat.

Other players the Pirates are known to have discussed moving are Jack Wilson, John Grabow and, only in an exploratory sense, Matt Capps. The latter apparently would be moved only at a high price."

-- Sanchez confirmed that he has been bothered by spasms and tightness in his back since stepping out of a cab at Land Shark Stadium on Friday, and nothing worse. Monday probably would be his earliest return date.

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