Friday, August 14, 2009

A Worm's Belly Looks Up To Me...

Hey, some people see the glass as half full; other see it as half empty. Then there's Pittsburgh, that doesn't even have a glass to look at.

The Bucs were pounded again today, 17-2, by the Cubbies. The Phils' had just swept a three-game series from the Cubs, and Chicago had lost seven of the last eight, the last five in a row. They had the Pirates right where they wanted them.

Even by Pirate standards, the pitching was horrendous. Charlie Morton gave up 10 runs in an inning - he started the second, but never got an out, allowing six straight runners to get aboard. When JR sent him to the showers, he had given up seven hits, including a homer, two triples and a double, with three walks.

Not that it made much difference, but Chris Bootcheck let the next three guys reach base on his way to giving up seven runs in 2-1/3 innings. Steve Jackson tossed 4-2/3 frames of shutout ball after that, earning the eternal thanks of the bullpen. We can only assume by that time, the Chicago hitters were worn out.

We could talk about the fielding (both triples were misplayed balls), but why pile on? Suffice to say that Pittsburgh has the look of a AAA team right about now, and not a particularly good one.

If JR can prevent the current train wreck of a squad from losing 100+ games, he deserves a medal. Going 17-30 over the final six weeks isn't much of a challenge for most teams, but it may prove to be Mt. Everest for the Baby Buccos.

We can understand the hitting woes, because too many players are pups.

Here's the career at-bats for the thirteen guys on the roster: Ramon Vazquez (1,891); Ryan Doumit (1,212); Ronny Cedeno (1,138); Lastings Milledge (946); Andy LaRoche (695); Brandon Moss (539); Delwyn Young (386); Jeff Salazar (296); Andrew McCutchen (251); Steve Pearce (246); Garrett Jones (223); Jason Jaramillo (163); and Luis Cruz (76).

The pitching isn't much more mature, though a couple of the guys have been around the block and overall, the staff should be better. Their career games, starts, and innings:

Matt Capps (256 G, 255.2 IP); Joel Hanrahan (132 G, 11 GS, 183 IP); Zach Duke (122 G, 121 GS, 751 IP); Paul Maholm (120 G, 120 GS, 749.1 IP); Chris Bootcheck (79 G, 3 GS, 134.1 IP); Evan Meek (68 G, 60 IP); Jesse Chavez (67 G, 63.2 IP); Ross Ohlendorf (59 G, 28 GS, 205 IP); Jeff Karstens (55 G, 28 GS, 200.2 IP); Kevin Hart (39 G, 6 GS, 77.2 IP); Jose Ascanio (35 G, 39.2 IP); Charlie Morton (26 G, 25 GS, 124.1 IP); Steve Jackson (21 G, 23 IP); and Donnie Veal (11 G, 10 IP).

The Pirates have four players on the roster that will end 2009 with 1,000+ career at-bats, and four pitchers with 200+ innings of work in the bigs. There's a lot of learning going on, and no one left on the 25-man to teach them. And that's the downside of blowing up a team. The only constant is inconsistency.

-- Ryan Doumit sat out for the second day in a row. His right wrist, the one that was cut earlier in the season, is sore after taking a foul ball on Wednesday. X-rays came back negative, and his status is day to day. It's supposed to be unrelated to the previous injury, but...

-- Phil Dumatrait will work out of the bullpen at Indy to finish off his rehab. He had been starting, but is slotted to join the pen when he returns to Pittsburgh. He has to be recalled to the team by August 19th.

-- Donnie Veal will begin his rehab assignment next week. The Pirates plan to send him to the Arizona Fall League after the season to pitch as a starter.

-- Baseball America's Prospect Hot Sheet this week is kind of a mixed bag for the Bucs. Tony Sanchez and Pedro Alvarez are ranked one-two on the "Hot Sheet" portion; Brad Lincoln and Daniel Moskos are ranked one-two in the "Not So Hot Sheet."

-- According to Baseball America's Jim Callis, the Pirates signed RHP Jeffrey Inman, the club's 12th-round selection from Stanford for $425K, well over slot value.

His report is that he throws a heater in the 90-93 range with run, and has a plus curve. The downside is he stays up in the zone and needs a third pitch. The Pirates have now signed 23 of their 51 selections from this year's draft, including each of their first 14 selections.

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