Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bucs Can't Dodge Bullet

It was a typical night at the office for the Bucs. First and second, no one out in the first. First and second, no one out in the third. Nobody scored either time.

The fourth and fifth innings saw the Bucs scratch out a run, but they left a runner at second to end one frame and at third the next. Then the opposing bullpen got the call, and the last 14 Pirates were retired without a peep.

The evening's offense came to six hits total, and 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

On the mound, Daniel McCutchen was scuffling, his change-up all over the place and constantly behind in the count. The big blows were an Andre Ethier dinger and RBI doubles from Manny Ramirez and Russell Martin.

It could have been worse; Lastings Milledge threw out a runner at home in the first, the Buc's 40th outfield assist, and running mate Andrew McCutchen made a pair of spectacular grabs.

It may well have been a case of nerves and excitement for McCutchen. He was pitching in front of 42,045 fans at Dodger Stadium in just his third MLB start, easily the most rockin' house he's ever worked.

His Pirate debut had come in front of less than 2,000 fans in Cincinnati. The announced crowd at his second start at PNC Park was less than 15,000. The bright lights of LA may have spooked him a bit in his first prime-time start.

But as usual, he kept the Bucs in it, leaving on the short end of a 4-2 score after five frames. The Pirate bullpen gave up a couple more, and the Dodgers came away with a 6-2 win.

There is a little more sub-plot involved in this series than Pirate road woes, the Andy LaRoche (he had two hits) and Delwyn Young homecoming, and Manny Mania.

Colorado and the Giants are going head-to-head while the Dodgers entertain the clueless-on-the-road Pirates. LA is hoping its two closest competitors bloody one another up while the Bucs roll over.

So it's a good test for the young Pirates; they could be spoilers or the Dodger's road to the Promised Land. And not just for three days. The Big Blue have a four game set coming up at PNC later in the month.

-- Chuck Finder of the Post Gazette got a little insight into the Nate McLouth deal when he talked to Dirt Dog Doug Mientkiewicz, who said "When Nate [initially balked at a] move to left or right field, I pretty much felt, as a baseball fan, that the handwriting was on the wall. Once Andrew [McCutchen] was ready, you got to play him."

So just maybe there was an underlying current of discontent between Nate and the suits that helped grease the skids for the deal.


WilliamJPellas said...

Whatever. There's still no way---NO WAY---they should have traded McLouth. Period.

MarkInDallas said...

I doubt McLouth's reluctance to move was a big factor in the trade. I would guess he would get over it pretty soon.

Next year is the year to see if Morton can put it together and be next year's Ohlendorf. If so, then the trade looks pretty good.

WilliamJPellas said...

No, it doesn't.

One of baseball's cardinal "unwritten rules" is that you never trade a position player for a pitcher straight up. Perhaps you might make an exception if the pitcher is a true ace, ie, if you have the chance to add C. C. Sabathia for your stretch run, as the Brewers did last year.

And of course the Pirates got 3 players for McLouth not just one. But the trade hurt us badly in the short term, and it is no sure thing in the longer term. I didn't like it then, I don't like it now, and I doubt very much I'll like it in the future.

Ron Ieraci said...

McLouth's deal does have to be looked at over time. Right now, it is pretty one-sided; Morton hasn't done a whole lot here, Hernandez hasn't done a whole lot at Altoona, and Locke hasn't done a whole lot at Lynchburg.

McLouth is hitting .274 with 18 HR and 65 RBI overall. Not great, but it sure would look good in the middle of the Buc order somewhere.

But that's today; the suits haven't made a move yet, even the Bay deal that looks like it's swirling around the drain, that can be voted up or down for a couple of more years.

That's a big part of the Pirate nation's frustration. There's some idea of what was traded away and where they would fit, but no real grip on the return value.

Guess we'll see in 2011.