-- No problem figuring out what's wrong with the Bucs; they can't pitch worth a lick so far during this young season. The back end of the bullpen has held up OK, but as a group, they're being called on too early and often.
But it's not too unexpected. Going into the season, only Zach Duke and Paul Maholm had track records as MLB caliber pitchers, capable of 30 starts and 200+ innings. And the minors aren't really that deep at the top.
Brad Lincoln, Donnie Veal, and Kevin Hart/Dan McCutchen are the future at Indy; Tim Alderson, Rudy Owens, and Justin Wilson are the heart of Altoona's staff, and none of them are expected to be able to make the jump next year.
But so far most of the pitching is bubbling at the A level. It will be telling to see how the suits address that pitching gap when Pedro and the gang start arriving at Pittsburgh.
-- Still no movement in the Ross Ohlendorf triangle. Ohlie missed his last start and side session, and Brian Burres and Dan McCutchen are being held as insurance for Saturday's game.
Hey; it's early in the year. If Ohlendorf's hurt, backdate him on the 15 day DL. Meanwhile, both Pittsburgh and Indy have TBAs for Saturday's pitching slot. GW has been leery of the way the Pirates handle injuries; just do the sensible thing and move on, OK?
-- The Pirates have homered in five games this year. They've won four of them.
-- Pirates Charities and the West Virginia Power announced today that they will partner to raise funds to benefit the Montcoal Mining Disaster Fund by collecting donations from fans during the Pirates' and Powers' home games on Saturday, April 17. The fund is for the families of the miners who were recently killed in the Upper Big branch mine.
-- Altoona is off to a 6-1 start; its only loss was to the vaunted Steve Strasburg.
-- Spring camp isn't just for the major league players and hopefuls; it's an organizational evaluation. The Pirates, over the past few weeks, have released some three dozen minor-league vets. The bigger names were: LHP Kyle Bloom, LHP Nelson Pereira, RHP Chris Aure, and RHP R.J. Rodriguez.
Bloom, 27, as you may recall, was a Rule 5 pick of the Tigers last year who was returned to the Bucs during final cuts. 21 year-old Pereira was a sweet little junk-balling lefty, but was a soft thrower and fly-ball pitcher in Class A, not really in the current Pirate mold and without much additional upside.
Aure was a 20 year-old pitcher drafted in 2008 from Alaska who was injured last year. Rodriguez was a closer with some nice periphery numbers, but he is a 25 year-old who had never risen above A ball.
It shows that the wheelin', dealin', and drafting have made an impact on the lower level pitching, at least to the point where it's not a warehouse anymore. GW can't wait til that same dynamic reaches Altoona and Indianapolis.
-- The Astros became the final team in MLB to win this year; they had dropped their first eight before beating St. Louis 5-1 today.
-- And finally, it's Jackie Robinson day, celebrating the April 15, 1947 date when he broke the color line in MLB. That's why everyone will be wearing his famous number 42, unretired for the day.