Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Bucs Rock; Holdzkom to Indy, Worley to Pen; Lineup & Notes

Pedro hit two long flies, including a grand salami, while Josh Harrison, Starling Marte, Tony Sanchez and Pedro Florimon also went long as the Bucs rolled over the Phils (good choice, AJ) 18-4. The most excitement came when a fourth inning quick pitch to Sean Rodriguez led to some yapping and an inning later, to some on-field milling about by the players. The only collateral damage came when coaches Rick Sofield and Juan Samuel were ejected. Clint was bounced in the sixth when he griped over a ball-strike call. Guess everyone is getting bored of the camp routine by now.

Pedro Alvarez 2014 Bowman series

Today's Game: The Bucs travel to Lakeland to meet the Tigers at 1:05 with Vance Worley on the hill against David Price. Detroit, btw, will be the Pirates Home Opener foes on April 13th.

Today's Lineup: Jordy Mercer SS, Neil Walker 2B, Cutch CF, Corey Hart 1B, Jung-Ho Kang 3B, Francisco Cervelli C, Sean Rodriguez RF, Mel Rojas Jr LF, Worley.
Today's Bench: Andrew Lambo, Pedro Florimon, Tony Sanchez, Wilkins Castillo.
Today's Pitchers: Antonio Bastardo & minor league guys.

The clock winds down; the only decision left is to choose among Lambo, Florimon and Jaff Decker for the 25th man spot. Florimon has been closing fast; he's out of options (Lambo & Decker can be sent down) and the Bucs don't have a true glove man on the pine right now. It'll be an interesting call.

  • John Holdzkom was sent to Indy along with Rob Scahill, while Blake Wood was assigned to minor league camp. Holdzkom's option made either him or Jared Hughes the likeliest to go, and Hughes is a ground ball guy, something lacking in the Bucs power bullpen. Big John also had some control issues, and the staff will work on that and adding a second pitch to his arsenal. Stolmy Pimemtel used up another of his nine lives for the time being, tho there is still a bullpen cut to go. Melancon, Watson, Bastardo & Worley are in; Liz & Caminero are all but in, and leaves one spot.
  • As first reported by Bill Brink of the Post Gazette, Jeff Locke has won the fifth starter spot, bumping Vanimal to the bullpen.
  • Clayton Richard can opt of his contract today, so we'll see what happens on that front.
  • Ex-Pirate farmhand Andy Oliver pitched yesterday, as did Upper St. Clair's Kevin Slowey. The Phils also have lefty Joely Rodriguez, traded for Antonio Bastardo, on their 40-man roster; he's on their AAA roster after a strong spring.
  • Steeler coach Mike Tomlin was at McKechnie for the game. Maybe he came to watch center Maurkice Pouncey throw out first pitch.
  • The Reds released Paul Maholm; he wants to remain a starter and lost out trying to claim a spot in the Cincy rotation.

3/31:Opening Day Thrillas; Bell Released; Young Signed; Bigbee & PNC Park Born...

  • 1887 - RHP Chester “Chick” Brandom was born in Coldwater, Kansas. Chick tossed from 1908-09 for the Bucs, getting into 16 games and going 2-0-3 with a 0.94 ERA. The Bucs were loaded back then, and he was sent back to the minors despite that shiny record. But he may have a greater claim that his Bucco stint. David Hill, in a Rumbunter post, said that a 1908 picture of Chick shows him delivering a knuckleball, and that would make him the first known practitioner of that pitch, predating guys like Eddie Cicotte. 
  • 1895 - OF Carson “Skeeter” Bigbee was born. He played eleven years for Pittsburgh, his only MLB club, from 1916-26, and hit .287 lifetime. His best seasons were 1921-22, when he batted .323 and .350, scoring 213 runs over that span and leading the NL in singles both years. 
Carson Bigbee 1922 - The Sporting News Collection
  • 1945 - The Pirates traded OF Vince DiMaggio to the Philadelphia Phillies for P Al “Lefty” Gerheauser. Both were near the end of their playing days; DiMaggio hung up the spikes after the ‘46 season and Gerheauser won just seven more games in three years. 
  • 1984 - C Gene Tenace ended his 15-year career when he was released by the Pirates in spring training. He had hit .177 for the Bucs in 1983 as a 36-year old. 
  • 1988 - The Chicago Cubs traded minor league LHP Mike Curtis to the Pirates for RHP Mike Bielecki. Bielecki turned into a journeyman pitcher, working 14 years in MLB while Curtis never got out of AAA, ending his career as an Indy league pitcher. 
Mike Bielecki 1986 Fleer series
  • 1997 - The Pirates lured FA 1B Kevin Young back to Pittsburgh from KC with a $400K contract. He would sign two more deals with the Bucs worth $28M over the following six seasons before retiring after the 2003 campaign. 
  • 2001 - PNC Park hosted its first MLB baseball game when the Pirates and Mets played an exhibition. The game was a sellout as the Mets won 4-3. The Mets won the next day’s spring game too, 3-2, notable mainly because Aramis Ramirez hit the first HR in the park’s history.
  • 2002 - “Operation Shutdown” OF Derek Bell was released, telling the media he would sail into the sunset on his yacht rather than compete for a starting spot. His voyage as a ballplayer, tho, was scuttled as he never appeared in another MLB game. 2003 - Pittsburgh helped the Reds christen Great American Ballpark. Cincy played second banana for the yard’s opening act; the Bucs won 10-1 behind homers from Reggie Sanders, Kenny Lofton and Jason Kendall, all banged in a six-run second inning. 
  • 2008 - In an Opening Day shootout at Turner Field, the Bucs beat the Braves 12-11 in twelve innings. Damaso Marte and Matt Capps blew a 9-4 ninth inning lead, capped by a fly ball dropping between LF Jason Bay and CF Nate McLouth with two outs to tie the score. Pittsburgh reclaimed the lead in the top of the 12th on a Xavier Nady three-run bomb, but Atlanta almost tied it again with two runs in their half before Franquelis Osario nailed down the save. The X-Man had four hits while McLouth, Freddy Sanchez and Ryan Doumit had three to prime a 17-hit attack.
Xavier Nady 2007 Upper Deck series
  • 2014 - Neil Walker blasted a tenth inning, 3-2 changeup from Carlos Villanueva deep over the Clemente Wall to give the Bucs and Bryan Morris a 1-0 Opening Day win over the Cubs at PNC Park. Francisco Liriano and Jeff Samardzija started the game, leaving it for the bullpens to decide. It also marked the first use of expanded replay, which had been rolled out in the Arizona Fall League, when Cubs manager Rick Renteria challenged a double play in the top of fifth inning. The original call on the field of out at first was confirmed by replay.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Kang Goes Yard In Bucco Win; Decker Hurt; Lineup & Notes

Pittsburgh whipped the Braves 4-2 in dramatic fashion, with Jung-Ho Kang's two-run shot in the ninth providing the winning margin. Kang had two hits and three RBI, so that little week-long time out seems to have been right on time. Pedro Florimon's sac fly brought home Austin Meadows, who had tripled, with the Bucs opening tally. All the in-the-mix pitchers - Stolmy Pimentel, Radhames Liz, John Holdzom - tossed passably, though Big John had a plunk and walk in his frame while Liz was touched up for a homer.

Andrew Lambo went 0-for-4, and it may be that the final roster spot will come down to him or Florimon. Jaff Decker, who had an impressive spring, was helped off the field with a calf strain, picking about the worse possible time to get hurt with camp breaking later this week.

Pedro Florimon stayin' alive (Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Today's Game: The Pirates play their last spring home match at McKechnie Field against the Phils. It begins at 1:05 and will be webcast on pirates.com. Mark Melancon will get to start so that he gets to see some regular-season batters; we expect Vanimal to follow.

Today's Lineup: Josh Harrison 3B, Gregory Polanco RF, Starling Marte CF, Neil Walker 2B, Pedro 1B, Tony Sanchez DH, Jordy Mercer SS, Francisco Cervelli C, Sean Rodriguez LF.
Today's Bench: Wilkins Castillo, Jung-Ho Kang, Pedro Florimon, Andrew Lambo.
Today's Pitching: Vance Worley, Antonio Bastardo, John Holdzkon, Adrian Sampson.

The days of the 15-man bench are done as guys get their fielding routines down at their at-bats up. Ditto for the pitchers; it's time to get in some innings.

  • Jaff Decker told reporters that he doesn't believe his calf sprain is anything more than a tweak. He plans to throw and soft-hit today, but no running.
  • Today is the Pirates last spring game at Bradenton. They have three more games on the road, break camp Thursday and play two with the Phils at Citizen's Park (why never PNC?) over the weekend before the April 6th Opener at Cincinnati.
  • Hunter Strickland, the fireballer who the Giants claimed from the Bucs in 2013 and became a 15-minute story during last year's pennant race, has been sent to AAA Sacramento.

3/30: B-Days for Van Haltren & Rhynes; Rincon Purchased; Deacon Phillippe Passes On

  • 1866 - OF George Van Haltren was born in St. Louis, Missouri. He played briefly for the Pirates in 1892-93, hitting .325 but deemed expendable because of a deep outfield. A borderline HoF player, Van Haltren was sold to the New York Giants, where he spent the next decade putting up a .321 BA. 
George Van Haltren (1909 cartoon by Harry Murphy/Sunday Oregonian)
  • 1899 - IF Hal Rhynes was born in Paso Robles, California. He began his career in Pittsburgh (1926-27) and hit .258. He was a .250 batter in his seven MLB years and a minor league lifer, spending 20 years on various farm clubs. 
  • 1952 - Deacon Phillippe passed away. The RHP tossed 12 seasons (1900-11) for the Bucs with a 168-92 record and 2.50 ERA, winning 20 games six times and never suffering through a losing season. He won three World Series games against Boston in 1903, beating Cy Young in the opener and tossing five complete games. Toward the end of his career, he worked six shutout innings in the 1909 Series against Detroit. In 1969, Pirates fans voted him as Pittsburgh's top all-time right handed pitcher.
Deacon Phillippe (photo via South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame)
  • 1997 - The Pirates purchased LHP Ricardo Rincon from the Mexico City Reds. In 1997-98, he went 4-10-18/3.17 for the Bucs, and was then traded to Cleveland for Brian Giles in one of Pittsburgh’s better baseball deals.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Bucs Romp; Notes & Lineup

The wind blew out, the wind blew in, and in between the gusts the Bucs took an 8-3 win from the Jays. Charlie Morton gave up a pair of homers, but he had the bad luck to toss with the wind whistling toward the fences (altho the first dinger needed no help) and gave up three runs in six innings of work. Gregory Polanco homered for the second time, Neil Walker had three RBI and the Pirates pounded out six extra-base hits; even prospect Reese McGuire got into the act with a double.

Gregory Polanco heating up (photo Mike James/Baseball America)

Today's Game: The Bucs take a trip to Lake Buena Vista to meet the Braves, with Stolmy Pimentel getting the starting nod. The game starts at 1:05 and will be broadcast by 93.7 The Fan.

Today's Lineup: Josh Harrison 3B, Jaff Decker LF, Starling Marte CF, Corey Hart DH, Jung-Ho Kang 2B, Andrew Lambo 1B, Wilkins Castillo C, Pedro Florimon SS, Austin Meadows RF.
Today's Bench: All minor leaguers, topped by Reese McGuire.
Today's Pitchers: Antonio Bastardo, Radhames Liz, John Holdzkom, Blake Wood.

Big game for Stolmy. He's out of options and so far this spring, he's not given the Pirates much reason to keep him on the active roster. Don't expect a long outing; he's still considered bullpen material. It's also a test day for guys looking to claim that 25th spot, with Decker, Lambo and Florimon all starting. A couple of pedigree pups get off the porch today as Meadows gets the call in the outfield and McGuire is on the bench.

  • AJ Burnett worked six innings at Pirate City in a minor league game yesterday, giving up a pair of unearned runs and whiffing seven, tossing 96 pitches. His control was much sharper - he walked one -  as he rounds into shape for April.
  • A couple of food-for-thought tidbits: Rob Biertempfel of the Trib notes that the Bucs haven't had back-to-back Opening Day starters at first since Adam LaRoche (2007-09) while David Laurila of Fangraphs, in a notes column, wonders if catchers (and we'd add coaches) shouldn't take Spanish classes instead of putting all the onus on the Latino players.
  • The Pirates broke the spring attendance record at Bradenton's 93-year-old McKechnie Field yesterday when 6,300+ spun the turnstiles, bringing the attendance to 99,450 fans for 14 games with one more contest to go. The old record was 93,433 fans set in 2013, the first season that McKechnie Field seating was expanded from 6,600 to 8,500. It is a little misleading; last year's average was 7,587 fans per game compared to 7,104 warm bodies this campaign.
  • Ol' Bucco Ross Ohlendorf was assigned to minor league camp by the Rangers.

3/29: Bob Steele, Mike Kingery B-Days

  • 1894 - LHP Bob Steele was born in Cassburn, Ontario. Steele hurled for the Bucs from 1917-18, when they had some fairly poor clubs. He was 7-14, but his ERA was 2.87. Pittsburgh sold him to the Giants during the 1918 campaign, and 1919 was his last big league season. He did make the record books (albeit Canadien) when he tossed a no-hitter for the Moose Jaw Robin Hoods against the Calgary Bronchos (sic) in the Class D Western Canadian League in 1913. 
Bob Steele in 1913 as a Moose Jaw Robin Hood (photo via W. Canadian League)
  • 1961 - OF Mike Kingery was born in St. James Minnesota. Mike closed out his 10-year MLB career with the Bucs in 1996, signing on as a $750K free agent at the age of 35. He became their part-time center fielder, hitting .246 before retiring to Minnesota to raise his family and begin the Solid Foundation Baseball School.
Mike Kingery - 1996 Fleer Ultra series

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Bucs Win, Lineup & Notes

Gregory Polanco homered and so did Tony Sanchez as the Bucs defeated the Twins 4-2 yesterday. Jung-Ho Kang tripled and scored; Starling Marte and Jaff Decker had RBI doubles. Jeff Locke gave up both runs over 5-2/3 IP. It was a short game; a Florida rainstorm brought it to a halt in the eighth inning after Blake Wood and Antonio Bastardo got what would prove to be the final four outs.

Jung-Ho Kang - the transition hasn't been easy (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Today's Game: The Bucs face the Blue Jays at McKechnie in a 1:05 contest with Charlie Morton taking the ball. The game will be aired by 93.7 The Fan.

The Lineup: Jordy Mercer SS, Gregory Polanco RF, Cutch CF, Neil Walker 2B, Corey Hart 1B, Andrew Lambo LF, Francisco Cervelli C, Sean Rodriguez 3B, Morton P.
The Bench: Jaff Decker, Wilkins Castillo, Tony Sanchez, Pedro Florimon, Jung-Ho Kang and a minor league group led by Reese McGuire.
The Pitchers: Mark Melancon (Happy B-Day!), Jared Hughes, Rob Scahill and minor league guys led by Zack Dodson.

The innings are getting tougher to come by for the players remaining on the major league roster. Clint's working in the regulars and making sure the bench guys get a couple of swings before camp breaks. Decisions still loom for the fifth starter, the last player on the bench and the bullpen composition, so the games still are meaningful for a handful of fringers.

  • The Pirates are featured on tonight's "30 Clubs in 30 Days" on MLB Network at 7PM.
  • Neal Huntington says Pedro Florimon is still in the hunt for the final bench spot. That says something about wanting a late-inning glove guy on the bench and the versatility of the players that have already won spots on the pine.
  • Justin Sellers still has an Achilles problem and Chris Stewart is slowly getting back into action with a hammy issue.
  • Commissioner Rob Manfred visited camp today. Notably, he gave the Bucco ownership & FO lots of love and backed off his stance of looking into defensive shifting.

3/28: Mark the Shark, Chief Yellowhorse, Bryon Morris B-Bays; Sisk, Cannizaro, Solomon & Heaton Traded; Cum Posey Dies

  • 1898 - RHP Moses “Chief” Yellowhorse was born in Pawnee, Oklahoma, appropriately enough as he was a full-blooded Pawnee. His MLB years were 1921-22 and spent in Pittsburgh, where he went 8-4 with a 3.93 ERA, but suffered three different arm injuries that ended his career. He was one of the first, if not the pioneer, full-blooded Native American to play MLB ball. It wasn’t all peaches and cream; he once drilled Ty Cobb between the eyes in an exhibition game for insulting him, though he was quite a fan favorite during his short time in Pittsburgh.
Chief Yellowhorse 1922
  • 1946 - Cumberland “Cum” Posey, who owned the Homestead Grays from 1911-46, died in Mercy Hospital from cancer. He was part-time player until 1929, and managed until 1937. Posey was a big-time owner, and his teams played regularly in Forbes Field and Washington DC’s Griffith Stadium. The Grays won eight Negro League pennants and three World Series titles under his hand. 
  • 1969 - The Pirates traded RHP Tommie Sisk and C Chris Cannizzaro to the San Diego Padres in exchange for OPF Ron Davis and IF Bobby Klaus. Sisk was on the backside of his career while Davis and Klaus never become big-time performers, but Cannizzaro became an All-Star in 1969 for the expansion Padres (albeit with a .220 BA) and had a 12 year career that ended after 1974. 
  • 1980 - RHP Buddy Solomon was traded by the Atlanta Braves to the Pirates for minor league player Greg Field. Solomon worked 1980-82 for Pittsburgh, going 17-15-1 with a 3.58 ERA before being traded at the deadline to Chicago for 3B Jim Morrison. He died young in a car accident in Macon, Georgia, at age 34, in 1986. 
  • 1985 - RHP Mark Melancon was born in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. Melancon came to Pittsburgh in 2013 from the Red Sox as a versatile back-ender, working both as set-up man and closer, and earned a spot on the ‘13 All-Star team. Mark the Shark took the closers job full time in early 2014, saving 33 games in 37 chances. In two seasons, he’s picked up six wins, 49 saves and 40 holds from the Bucco pen while posting a 1.65 ERA (1.86 FIP) in 144 appearances. 
Mark the Shark - 2014 Topps series
  • 1987 - RHP Bryan Morris was born in Tullahoma, Tennessee. Acquired in the Jason Bay trade, he was part of the Bucco bullpen from 2012-14, going 13-8 with a 2.61 ERA before being dealt to Miami. The change of scenery did him good. Morris was other worldly in his Marlin stint, posting an 0.66 ERA (although with a 3.03 FIP). 
  • 1989 - LHP Neal Heaton was traded by the Montreal Expos to the Pirates for RHP Brett Gideon. Heaton worked four years for the Jimmy Leyland playoff teams of the early nineties and made the All-Star team in 1990. He was out of the MLB after the 1993 season and is now a pitching instructor for the private All Pro Sports Academy in Bellport, NY.
Neal Heaton 1991 Fleer Ultra series

Friday, March 27, 2015

Bravos Beat Bucs; 12 Pared From Roster; Lineup & Notes

Neil Walker went 2-for-4 with a double and a HR, Josh Harrison went yard, Jordy Mercer had three knocks and Cutch two more, but it wasn't enough as the Braves beat the Bucs 7-5 yesterday. Atlanta scored twice in the ninth (and had another cut down at home) after going seven innings without scoring. Vance Worley was tagged for five first-inning runs, then adjusted on the fly and blanked the Braves over the next five innings, retiring 13 in a row at one point. His adjustment was just to work away; they were teeing off on pitches on the inside half. Clayton Richard put up a pair of goose eggs before tiring in the ninth and being charged with the Bravo's final tallies.

Josh Harrison has been rockin' steady all spring (2014 Topps series)

Today's Game: The Pirates go to Fort Myers to take on the Twins with Jeff Locke on the hill. Once again the game will be on webcast only at pirates.com.

Today's Lineup: Josh Harrison 3B, Gregory Polanco RF, Starling Marte LF, Tony Sanchez C, Pedro 1B, Jung-Ho Kang SS, Jeff Decker CF, Sean Rodriguez 2B, Locke.
Today's Bench: Andrew Lambo, Pedro Florimon, Wilkins Castillo and a flock of minor league hands.
Today's Pitching: Antonio Bastardo, John Holdzkom, Rob Scahill.

Kang is back in action after a time-out to work on some hitting. Decker is getting some time too; he's a dark horse to break camp, but is putting some pressure on Lambo, who is having another not so memorable spring. So we'll see what the FO reads into Florida's small sample sizes.
  • This morning, the Pirates reassigned Deolis Guerra, Gorkys Hernandez, Charlie Leesman, Brad Lincoln, Steve Lombardozzi, Brent Morel, Gustavo Nunez, Deibinson Romero, Jose Tabata, Sebastian Valle & Josh Wall to minor league camp. Bobby LaFromboise was optioned to Indy.
  • Stephanie Apstein of SI previews the 2015 Pirates.
  • Tyler Waite of Fansided compares the Pirates with the other elite squads in the NL.
  • The Sporting News ranks Clint as a Top Ten manager. Interestingly, they have him just behind Lloyd McClendon.
  • Ya think Nick Leyva was lost coaching at third base? AJ Cassavell and Paul Casella of Sports on Earth would beg to disagree.
  • Monica Gagnier of The Pittsburgh Business Times takes a look at fan value, using the Pirates ticket Cost Per Win as her beacon.

3/27: Blass, Cangelosi, Burwell & Marte

  • 1895 - RHP Bill Burwell was born in Jarbalo, Kansas. Burwell pitched but one year for the Pirates, going 1-0/5.23 in 1928, but later served as a Pirate coach and scout (1947–1948; 1958–1962). Burwell was acting manager of the Pirates for the final game of the 1947 season, after player-manager Billy Herman resigned, and beat the Cincinnati Reds, 7-0. He was the pitching coach for the 1960 WS champs, and as a minor league assistant, he helped develop Vern Law by teaching him how to change speeds and throw a change-up. 
Bill Burwell via SABR
  • 1975 - The Pirates released RHP Steve Blass, who went from Game Seven World Series winner in 1971 to a pitcher who had no idea where the ball was going once it left his hand, a condition that to this day is known as the “Steve Blass disease.” Blass is now a Pirate ambassador and member of the broadcast team for Root Sports. 
  • 1987 - OF John Cangelosi was traded by the Chicago White Sox to the Pirates for RHP Jim Winn. Cangelosi became a useful bench piece for the Bucs, spending four seasons in Pittsburgh, while Winn worked two more years in the show.
John Cangelosi 1989 Score series

  • 2002 - The Pirates sent LHP Damaso Marte and minor league IF Ruddy Yan to the Chicago White Sox for RHP Matt Guerrier. The Bucs would get Marte back a few years later and while Guerrier never tossed for the Pirates, spending two seasons in AAA. He ended up with an 11-year MLB career that’s still going (maybe - he’s an unclaimed FA in 2015).
  • Thursday, March 26, 2015

    Bucs v Braves, Lineup & Notes

    The Pirates get back on the bike today against the Braves with Vanimal on the hill against once-upon-a-time Bucco Wandy Rodriguez. The game's at McKechnie Field, scheduled for a 1:05 start. It will be aired on pirates.com.

    The Lineup: Josh Harrison 3B, Neil Walker 2B, Cutch CF, Corey Hart RF, Starling Marte LF, Jordy Mercer SS, Pedro 1B, Francisco Cervelli C, Worley.
    The Bench: Jaff Decker, Wilkins Castillo, Jose Tabata, Andrew Lambo, Steve Lombardozzi, Sebastian Valle, Gregory Polanco, Pedro Florimon, Deibinson Romero, Gustav Nunez, Gorkys Hernandez, Brent Morel, Sean Rodriguez, Tony Sanchez. Yep, home game, so all hands all deck.
    The Pitchers: Clayton Richard, Deolis Guerra and three guys from minor league camp; it's time to start streeeeeeetching out those arms.

    The no-doubt-about-it Bucco SS (Topps 2013 Rookie card)
    Cory Hart continues to get some outfield work as Vance Worley tries to build on what's been a very solid spring for him. This is as close as they've gotten to a regular season lineup; add El Coffee and that's it. Opening Day is just around the corner on April 6th and there are only seven Grapefruit League games left. It should be just about time for The Turk to make his rounds.

    • Cutch cut his hair; he'll auction off the dreads at MLB.com for Pirate Charities. 
    • Jung-Ho Kang was originally part of the game roster, but was scratched to take more batting work at Pirate City.
    • Forbes has released its always controversial MLB Franchise Value report. Not unexpectedly, the Bucco club has zoomed way up in the ratings.
    • Tim Williams is flipping his popular Pirates Prospects site from an ad-revenue model to subscription basis, beginning April 13th. You can sign up on his home page.

    3/26: Jack McCarthy, Chuck Klein, Mackey Sasser, Matt Herges, Tyler Yates

    • 1869 - LF Jack McCarthy was born in Hardwick, Massachusetts. McCarthy started for the Pirates in 1898-99, and hit a robust .298. But the Pirates landed Fred Clarke, also a LF, when they absorbed the old Louisville team and sold McCarthy to the Chicago Orphans. He played until 1907 and had a lifetime .287 BA. 
    Jack McCarthy - 1904 Chicago Daily News photo
    • 1940 - After being released by the Pirates‚ Chuck Klein signed up for his third go-around with the Phils. Klein was a Hall-of-Fame OF who hit 300 homers, helped greatly by the Philadelphia Baker Bowl’s short porch. He played 85 games for Pittsburgh, hitting .300 with 11 HR, but was released at age 34 and became a bench player for Philly through the war years. 
    • 1988 - C Mackey Sasser and RHP Tim Drummond were traded to the NY Mets for minor leaguer Scott Henion and 1B Randy Milligan. Milligan hit .220 for the Bucs before having some solid seasons at Baltimore while Sasser caught the next six seasons for the Mets, batting .286 for NY. 
    Mackey Sasser 1988 Score series
    • 2003 - The Pirates released RHP Matt Herges, for whom they had traded RHP Chris Young to the Padres in December. SD reclaimed Herges on April 1st, keeping their reliever and getting a young front line pitcher for free from Pittsburgh’s GM Dave Littlefield. 
    • 2008 - The Pirates traded minor league RHP Todd Redmond to the Atlanta Braves for reliever Tyler Yates. Fastballer Yates went 6-5 in two seasons with Pirates, pitching to a 5.08 ERA before arm surgery derailed his career. Redmond finally got a shot at Toronto in 2013, and was effective in 2014 after being converted to the pen.
    Tyler Yates - 2011 Getty Images photo

    Wednesday, March 25, 2015

    Spring Battles Still Unsettled...

    The Bucs came into camp with just a couple of spots open for the taking. We've watched a couple of questions resolves themselves, but other battles are still being waged.

    The Rotation: The starting five right now are Frankie Liriano (who will toss on Opening Day), Gerrit Cole (who should get the home Opener), AJ Burnett, Vince Worley and Charlie Morton. The performances of AJ and Morton in camp haven't been terribly uplifting so far. Burnett has whiffed 12 in his 12-2/3 IP but walked eight; hopefully his control will come around. Charlie has been getting hit pretty hard, and he chalked it up to too much thinking, too little trust. The clock for getting him back on track - Ray Searage & Jim Benedict are trying to simplify his motion - is ticking.

    There are a couple of things that bode well, though. Jeff Locke and Rahdames Liz should both make the club and can step in if someone does falter. And if Charlie needs a little more time to get comfortable, he could be skipped during the season's first week so that his first outing wouldn't be until April 15th. So even with Brandon Cumpton's TJ surgery, the Pirates seem solid enough. Clayton Richard may replace Cumpton (who would move to the DL) on the 40-man roster - he's performed well and has an opt-out clause if he's not on that list.

    The Bullpen: Mark Melancon, Tony Watson and Antonio Bastardo are in. Jeff Locke and Radhames Liz are very likely to join them; both are out of options and both are stretched enough to bail out the rotation if and as required. That leaves two spots for John Holdzkom, Jared Hughes, Stolmy Pimentel and Arquimedes Caminero. It may come down to options - Holdzkom & Hughes have one; Caminero & Pimentel don't.

    Has Arquimedes made the cut? (Photo: Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

    Performance would make it an easy decision; Arquimedes and Big John have been head and shoulders above the other pair so far. But Stolmy has a big arm and Jared has 170 big-league appearances, so all sorts of mix-and-match are in play.  Unless he implodes, Carmenero should claim one of the spots while the other is still up for grabs; we'd guess Holdzkom has the edge for that final spot as of now.

    The Starters: Nothing has changed the set lineup, with the questions being whether Pedro and El Coffee could pick it up. So far, Alvarez has been solid, going the opposite way and cutting his K rate down to 23% while Polanco is still under the Mendoza Line. But 30 - 40 plate appearances does not make a trend, so... Josh Harrison, who is due to a return to earth, has given no indication of letting up so far, hitting a healthy .321.

    The Bench: It's more competitive than first thought. Sean Rodriguez is in, Tony Sanchez - who has been tearing it up in camp - will get at least an April cup of joe until Chris Stewart returns and Cory Hart also has had a decent spring as the RH compliment at first. Andrew Lambo, again off to a slow start, has gotten some competition from Jaff Decker. Lambo and Decker still have options in their pockets, so that's one battle where it that won't come into play. The current make-up of all RH hitters on the pine fairly much limits the final cut to these two.

    Management may be sorry they touted Jung-Ho Kang as a lock on the active roster. He's had adjustment problems, as a .111 BA and 41% K rate show. We're certainly not saying he's a bust at this stage of the game, but he is quite obviously in a learning cycle. That makes his bench use somewhat problematic, but the Pirates may have painted themselves in a corner. Pedro Florimon and Steve Lombardozzi are the next men up and both are veteran bench players.

    Jung-Ho Kang...he's not in Kansas any more (photo: USAToday Sports)
    The Pirates are in a pretty good spot now. The rotation has some back-end depth, even if it lacks a true ace. The bullpen may be a bit jerry-rigged to protect depth starters like Locke and Liz, but carrying two long men shouldn't be too much of a burden. The position starters are set and the bench is stocked with guys who have mainly been there, done that and are versatile enough to warm Clint Hurdle's chess-playing heart.

    3/25: Bucs Bring In Jay Bell, Vanimal; Maz Hurt in Camp; Lee Mazzilli's B-Day

    • 1955 - OF Lee Mazzilli was born in New York City. Mazzilli spent four of his 14 seasons as a Pirate, playing fairly regularly for his first two years (1983-’86) and hitting .244 overall. In 1986, the Mets were thought to have offered Ray Knight (who was nearing the end of his career) for Mazzilli, but the Pirates turned them down. Instead, they released him in July when he was hitting just .226, and he re-signed with NY for free. 
    • 1965 - Camp isn’t all fun and games. Bill Mazeroski broke a bone in his right foot and was out of the Bucco lineup until May. He came back to hit .271 and earned another Golden Glove for his trophy case. It was the only time between 1964-67 that he didn’t appear in every game, and Maz played in 130 contests after his foot healed. 
    Billy Maz 1961 Topps series
    • 1989 - The Pirates sent SS Felix Fermin and UT Denny Gonzalez to the Indians for SS Jay Bell to complete a PTBNL deal from November 28th, 1988. Bell manned the SS spot for eight years and earned an All-Star berth in 1993 for the Bucs. He returned to the team in 2013 as their batting coach before moving on to the Reds. 
    • 2014 - RHP Vance Worley was purchased from the Minnesota Twins. After going 1-5 with a 7.21 ERA in 2013, Vanimal started out at Indianapolis, and after tinkering with his arm angle, he was called up to start on June 15th to replace injured Francisco Liriano. He finished the campaign with an 8-4 record and 2.85 ERA and is carrying his success over with a strong spring campaign.
    Vance Worley 2015 Topps series

    Tuesday, March 24, 2015

    Bucs Go Long To Top Rays 7-6; Today's Lineup v Orioles & Notes

    AJ Didn't have the greatest of starts, and it was made worse by Brad Lincoln. Burnett went 4-2/3 frames and left with a runner on third. Two walks and two beaned batters later by Lincoln led to a couple more runs before that third out was recorded. But Arquimedes Caminero, Bobby LaFromboise and Deolis Guerra put up zeroes, and the Pirate bats saved the day.

    Gorkys Hernandez had three hits, including a homer, Francisco Cervelli (two RBI) went yard and Pedro Florimon dinged one to pull out the win, along with RBI from Andrew Lambo, Starling Marte and Wilkins Castillo, who had a ninth inning knock to put Pittsburgh over the top. It wasn't pretty, but every team needs to win an ugly game every so often.

    Today's hero Gorkys Hernandez (photo US Presswire)

    Today's Game - The Orioles come to McKechnie today with Radhames Liz getting the starting honors. The game starts at 1:05 and will be streamed by pirates.com.

    Today's Lineup - Josh Harrison 3B, Gregory Polanco RF, Cutch CF, Neil Walker DH, Starling Marte LF, Pedro 1B, Jordy Mercer SS, Jung-Ho Kang 2B, Tony Sanchez C.
    Today's Bench - Jaff Decker, Gustav Nunez, Deibinson Romero, Andrew LAmbo, Pedro Florimon, Sebastian Valle, Steve Lombardozzi, Jose Tabata, Wilkins Castillo, Sean Rodriguez.
    Today's Pitchers - Charlie Leesman, Jared Hughes, Brad Lincoln, Deolis Guerra, Josh Wall.

    Pass the ammunition, Cutch is back. For that matter, so is Kang. He was shut down for a little drill work, and instead of competing with Jordy today, he'll man the middle with him. Lincoln and Guerra are making back-to-back appearances from the pen; it's getting to that time of year, and Brad could sure use a bounce-back outing.

    • The Bucs are off tomorrow. They'll be back in the saddle Thursday to face the Braves.
    • Matt Snyder of CBS Sports has his 2015 Pirate team preview.
    • Saint Mary's Joe was released by the Rangers yesterday. The 37-year-old had a 2.20 ERA over 56 appearances with the Mariners last season, but gave up 14 runs (11 earned) in just three spring innings for Texas, including three homers.

    3/24: Two Sluggers Honored: Ralph Kiner & Hank Greenberg

    • 2006 - At Mickey Mantle's Restaurant & Sports Bar in New York City, the U.S. Postal Service unveiled the "Baseball Sluggers" postage stamps which were issued on July 15th at Yankee Stadium prior to the game against the White Sox. The four Hall of Famers featured in the set had roots in New York with Mickey Mantle (Yankees), Mel Ott (Giants) and Roy Campanella (Dodgers) playing their entire careers in the Big Apple, and the fourth, Hank Greenberg, had set schoolboy records at James Monroe High School in the Bronx. Greenberg spent his final season (1947) in Pittsburgh where he mentored slugger Ralph Kiner. 
    Hank Greenberg & Ralph Kiner in 1947 - Photo from The Sporting News Archive
    • 2014 - The Pirates announced that the team would wear #4 patches all season to commemorate slugger Ralph Kiner, who died on February 6th. Kiner led the NL in home runs for seven straight years (1946-52) and led MLB in long balls for six consecutive seasons (1947-52), both records. He was selected for the All-Star Game in six straight seasons, 1948-53.

    Monday, March 23, 2015

    Pirates Pounded; Take On Rays, Lineup & Notes

    The Charlies - Morton and Leesman - got beat up royally yesterday by Houston 14-2. So far, the tweak in Ground Chuck's delivery doesn't look like it's clicked, so we'll see what Ray Searage pulls out the hat with just a couple of weeks left in camp. Morton himself said after the game that he's doing too much thinking (about mechanics) rather than pitching. But it does show why having some depth behind the rotation (we're looking at you, Jeff Locke) is so key. Jordy Mercer, who has had a pretty good spring (.294) homered while Pedro brought home the other run, plating Gregory Polanco.

    Pedro - 2014 Topps Triple threat series

    Today's Game: The Bucs travel to Port Charlotte today for a 1:05 game against the Tampa Bay Rays, with AJ on the mound. The game can be heard on webcast from pirates.com.

    Today's Lineup: Gorkys Hernandez CF, Neil Walker 2B, Starling Marte LF, Corey Hart RF, Andrew Lambo 1B, Francisco Cervelli C, Sean Rodriguez SS, Brent Morel 3B, AJ P.
    Today's Bench: Jaff Decker, Wilkins Castillo, Jose Tabata, Steve Lombardozzi, Sebastian Valle, Pedro Florimon, Deibinson Romero, Gustav Nunez.
    Today's Pitching: Bobby LaFromboise, Arquimedes Caminero, Deolis Guerra, Brad Lincoln and three minor-league camp reserves.

    Role reversal - Lambo is playing first and Hart gets his first outing in right. We also notice that Cervelli has moved down in the lineup and The Kid moved up. 

    • Mark Melancon, Tony Watson and Antonio Bastardo worked a minor league game yesterday against the Phils' AAA squad. They all tossed a scoreless frame after working Saturday; the Bucs are breaking them into back-to-back outings at this point of camp.
    • Cutch has gone from day-to-day to "ready for Opening Day" status. The Pirates are smart to let him get to 100% if not entirely forthcoming with their injury reports. Let's hope Andrew gets the last week of camp in; that should be all he needs.

    3/23: B-Days - Mike Smith, Ray Kremer, Wedell Smith, Johnny Logan & Lanny Frattare

    • 1868 - OF/P Elmer “Mike” Smith was born in Pittsburgh. Smith was a pitcher who was converted to the OF, and played from 1892-97, then briefly again in 1901, for the Pirates. He was a good hitter with a .325 BA, .415 OBP and 136 OPS+ during his Bucco years. Smith also tossed for the Pirates in 1892, going 6-7/3.62. He remained a local boy after his 14 year career in MLB, and when he died, he was buried in North Side’s Union Dale Cemetery.
    • 1893 - RHP Remy “Ray” Kremer was born in Oakland, California. Kremer pitched ten seasons for the Pirates (1924-33), his only MLB club, and went 143-85, winning 20 games twice and leading the NL in ERA in 1926 and 1927. What's more amazing is that he didn't make his major league debut until he was 31 years old!
    Ray Kremer 1925 - The Sporting News Archives
    • 1914 - Writer Wendell Smith was born in Detroit. He was the baseball writer and sports editor for the Pittsburgh Courier from 1937-47. Smith covered the Homestead Grays, Pittsburgh Crawfords and the Pirates. He chronicled the early days of Jackie Robinson, and was reputed to be one of the industry insiders to recommend Jackie to Branch Rickey. He was recognized by the BBWAA Spink’s Award in 1993. In a bit of irony; the group had turned down his membership application while he was with the Courier, though in 1948 they finally relented and admitted him as one of its earliest black members, behind only Sam Lacy.
    • 1926 - IF Johnny Logan was born in Endicott, NY. Logan spent the end of a productive 13 year career with the Pirates (1961-63) as a reserve, getting in 152 games and hitting .249. Playing mainly as a Brave, Logan batted .268 with 93 home runs, 547 runs batted in, 651 runs scored and 1,407 hits in 1,503 games. He was a four-time all-star, including three in a row from 1957-'59, and was on Milwaukee's 1957 World Series-winning club.
    Johnny Logan - 1963 Topps series
    • 1948 - Pirate announcer Lanny Frattare was born in Rochester, NY. He was part of the Pirate broadcasting team from 1976-2008 and announced over 5,000 Bucco games during those 33 seasons ("...and there was no doubt about it"), becoming the Pirates longest-tenured voice before moving on to academia.

    Sunday, March 22, 2015

    Bucs, Bosox Tie; Lineups & Notes

    Who said baseball games don't end in ties? The Bucs and the Bosox played nine innings and ended up sister-smooching in a 2-2 draw. Starters Frankie Liriano and Wade Miley were in good form, with Francisco ringing up six whiffs in his four frames. The outing did take him 81 pitches, so he still could zero in on some quicker at-bats.

    The Pirates scored when Starling Marte, who had a pair of knocks, singled, stole second and came around on a Corey Hart knock. The next run was scored by Gorkys Hernandez, who is quietly having a nice spring, hitting over .350. He tripled and plated on a Clint Hurdle special, a suicide squeeze dropped down by Gustav Nunez. Deolis Guerra gave up one Red Sox run, and the tying tally came in on a two-out, ninth inning single off Stolmy Pimentel, who is not having a nice spring. His ERA is 9.00.

    Marte Partay; he steals second and scores on Corey Hart's single (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

    Tomorrow's Game: The Pirates go on the road to Kissimmee to meet the Astros in a 1:05 match. Charlie Morton will toe the rubber. He missed his last outing, instead pitching a minor-league sim game. The game will be aired by the MLB Network and on 93.7 The Fan.

    The Lineup: Josh Harrison 3B, Jordy Mercer SS, Gregory Polanco RF, Tony Sanchez C, Pedro 1B, Jaff Decker CF, Steve Lombardozzi LF, Pedro Florimon 2B, Morton P.
    The Bench: Andrew Lambo, Gustav Nunez, Gorkys Hernandez, Brent Morel, Sebastian Valle, Deibinson Romero.
    The Pitchers: John Holdzkom, Blake Wood, Rob Scahill.

    Cutch is still out; Hurdle said he'd be running bases today. Just idle speculation, but sounds like he's working through a hammy/groin tweak; he's not slated to play tomorrow, either. Brent Morel is back after being on injury ice for a spell. And hey - who ever thought they'd see Tony Sanchez hitting cleanup? Josh has been hitting leadoff a lot; looks like he'll be back in the top spot again in 2015. 

    • Frankie, Tony Watson and Antonio Bastardo K'ed 12 Red Sox in six innings, with Watson & Bastardo striking out the side.
    • Jung-Ho Kang was scratched today. He's not hurt, just getting in some extra work. He's a scratch for tomorrow, so the staff is emphasizing some field drills for him during his transition from full-time KBO All-Star to Pirate prospect.

    3/22: Jimmy Sebring & Moose Solters

    • 1882 - RF Jimmy Sebring was born in Liberty, PA, near Willamsport. He played for Pittsburgh from 1902-04, hitting .261, and in 1903 became the first MLB player to homer in a World Series game; he hit .333 against Boston in that first WS. The talented OF’er (he was an early “can’t miss” prospect) had a rift with the team over a couple of different incidents and was traded. He then played with a series of outlaw teams, sidetracking his promising career. Sebring was on the comeback trail when he passed away from kidney disease in 1910 at the age of 27. 
    Jimmy Sebring 1903 - via SABR
    • 1906 - OF Julius “Moose” Solters was born in Pittsburgh. He never played for the Pirates, but was one of the better local ballplayers with one of baseball’s sadder stories. Moose (he was 6’1”, 190 lbs), the son of a Hungarian immigrant who worked at J&L, went to Fifth Avenue HS. Solters played nine years in the AL for four clubs, slashing .289/89/559, putting up five double-digit homer seasons along with four 100+ RBI campaigns. In 1941, he was hit by a ball during pre-game fielding drills after he had turned to wave to his in-laws in the stands. Solters suffered headaches and double vision afterwards, effectively ending his baseball career, while slowly losing his vision. He returned to his native Beltzhoover and ran a bar. Solters was also a key figure, along with Frankie Gustine, in planning and fundraising for Frank Vittor’s 1955 Honus Wagner statue. He passed away in 1975 and is buried in Calvary Cemetery.
    Moose Solters 1934 Goudey series

    Saturday, March 21, 2015

    Great Day To Play Two As Bucs Sweep; Lineup & Notes

    The Pirates swept a split squad doubleheader yesterday, beating the Phils 6-5 at McKechnie Field and taking a 4-2 decision in Ft. Myers' Hammond Field over the Twins. Neither starting pitcher was overwhelming, but both Vance Worley and Gerrit Cole went five innings. Cole got the win against the Phils, while Vanimal notched a spring W against Minnesota.

    v. Philadelphia: Pedro went 3 for 4 with a double and a homer, both to left center, as he continues his opp field approach. Jordy Mercer went 3-for-5 while Tony Sanchez added an RBI double. Sebastian Valle doubled home Mercer for the winning walk-off run. Starling Marte and Steve Lombardozzi had a pair of hits. Clayton Richard gave up two runs in three innings of work, but Rob Scahill closed the door in the ninth for the save.

    Jordy Mercer - photo Charles LeClair/USAToday Sports

    v. Minnesota: Francisco Cervelli went 2 for 3 with two solo home runs. Gerrit Cole drew a bases-loaded walk with two outs to plate the third run and a Josh Harrison single brought home the insurance tally. Charlie Leesman, Brad Lincoln, Josh Wall and Bobby LaFromboise all tossed scoreless frames with LaFromboise getting the save.

    Today's Game: Boston visits the Pirates with Frankie Liriano on the hill. The game starts at 1:05 and will be aired by Root Sports & 93.7 The Fan.

    The Lineup: Jose Tabata RF, Neil Walker 2B, Jung-Ho Kang 3B, Corey Hart 1B, Starling Marte CF, Francisco Cervelli C, Sean Rodriguez SS, Gorkys Hernandez LF, Liriano P.
    The Bench: Jaff Decker, Wilkins Castillo, Tony Sanchez, Steve Lombardozzi, Sebastian Valle, Andrew Lambo, Gustav Nunez, Deibinson Romero, Pedro Florimon, Gregory Polanco.
    The Pitchers: Tony Watson, Mark Melancon, Antonio Bastardo, Stolmy Pimentel, Deolis Guerra & Minor League Campers.

    Kang continues his infield tour, moving to third today, and Partay Marte looks like a fixture in the middle of the order. Sean Rodriguez is also a guy with many hats, playing short. We don't think these are spring look-see moves, but part of the team philosophy of player versatility, a concept that Clint embraces.

    • Jung-Ho Kang has decided not to take part in the media craze for the time being; he's cut off interviews until camp breaks and the season begins. That's probably a good decision; he has plenty on his plate as is.
    • Stetson Allie, who had been working as an OF/1B, will become a full-time outfielder per Tim Williams of Pirates Prospects. He's got the arm for right, if he can cover the ground. The move indicates he's transitioning pretty well into a position player and the Bucs are already looking to avoid a jam-up at first between Josh Bell and Allie down the road. One thing for sure is that the switch will add another strong prospect to the list of outfielders already in the system; that's a deep deck the FO has to deal from.
    • Clint Hurdle told the media gang that Tony Sanchez has made the club as Chris Stewart isn't expected to be ready for at least two more weeks.
    • Even with the wave of young guns, Jim Callis of MLB.com ranks the Pirate farm system as #4 in MLB.
    • David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal writes that Wandy Rodriguez looks like he's earned a spot in the Braves' rotation.
    • Joe Lucas of Yardbarker reminds us not to go asleep on the Brewers this year. They led the pack for a good portion of 2014 and still have a healthy collection of lumber.

    3/21: Pittsburgh Associates; B-Day for Manny, Mysterious & Bill Brandt; Estaban Signed & Some Dealin'

    • 1884 - RHP Frederick “Mysterious” Walker (his moniker came from pitching under a fake name for the San Francisco Seals) was born in Utica, Nebraska. He didn’t play much or well in Pittsburgh: in 1914, Walker pitched for the Pittsburgh Rebels of the outlaw Federal League and appeared in 35 games, tossing a career-high 169-1/3 innings with a record of 4–16 and a 4.33 ERA. He made more of a name locally for himself in football. He was Carnegie Tech’s head coach from 1912-13 (we assume during the off season) and in 1914 served as an assistant football coach under Bob Folwell at W & J College.
    • 1893 - The Pirates traded C Duke Farrell and sent $1500 to the Washington Nationals for LHP Frank “Lefty” Killen in a win-win deal for both clubs. Farrell banged heads with manager Al Buckenberger, and after leaving Pittsburgh played 13 more years as one of baseball’s better hitting catchers, retiring in 1905 with a career .277 BA. Duke, just recovering from a broken leg, appeared against his old mates for Boston in the 1903 World Series as a pinch hitter. Killen tossed six seasons for the Bucs with a 112-82/3.71 line and set the team record for wins with 36 in 1893, one of two thirty-win seasons he had for Pittsburgh.
    Duke Farrell with the Boston Americans - photo via SABR
    • 1915 - RHP Bill Brandt was born in Aurora, Indiana. Brandt spent his brief career (1941-43) as a Pirate, going 5-3 with a 3.57 ERA and getting just 80-⅔ IP over that time. He was effective as a minor leaguer, but after serving his country from 1944-’45, Brandt never pitched above AAA ball again, topping out at Hollywood in the PCL.
    • 1944 - Former Pirate C and current PNC restaurateur Manny Sanguillen was born in Colon, Panama. In 12 years with the Bucs, he batted .299 and was on three All-Star teams, which was quite a feat during the Johnny Bench era. Manny hit .282 in two World Series and five NLCS bouts. Noted for never seeing a pitch he didn’t like, the free swinger’s lifetime batting average of .296 is in the Top ten for catchers in MLB history. Manny is still a well known local figure with a ballyard eatery and service as a special instructor during the spring.
    Manny Sanguillen - photo from Tracy Stallard Sports
    • 1982 - The Pirates traded SS Vance Law and RHP Ernie Camacho to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for pitchers Ross Baumgarten and Butch Edge. Law, who was at the beginning of his career, played nine more MLB seasons, once as an All-Star, and Camacho pitched for eight more years. Baumgarten and Edge never panned out for the Bucs.
    • 1986 - The Pittsburgh Associates, a coalition of 13 public and private investors, formally purchased the Pirates from the Galbreath family for $21.8M in a deal that had been essentially hammered out in the previous fall. The Associates were led by Mayor Richard S. Caliguiri along with Westinghouse, Alcoa, PPG, USS, PNC, Mellon, CMU and Ryan Homes. Private investors included Chicago real estate developer Harvey Walken, contractor Frank Schneider and businessman Frank Fuhrer and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette publisher William Block. It assured that the club would stay in Pittsburgh while a new long-term buyer could be found to keep the club in the city and out of the clutches of circling vultures like Portland and New Orleans.
    Pirate sale to the Pittsburgh Associates - Pittsburgh Press
    • 1991 - RHP Estaban Loaiza was signed as an undrafted FA by the Bucs as a 19 year old pitching for the Mexico City Reds. He worked his first four seasons with Pittsburgh (27-28-1, 4.63) and had a 14 year career in MLB with a pair of All-Star selections and 126 wins.

    Friday, March 20, 2015

    Bucs Lose, Play Two Today; Kingham & Diaz Cut, Lineups & Notes

    The Bucs dropped a 6-4 decision to the Orioles yesterday. The bats are warming up a bitt: Jordy Mercer went 3-for-3, Corey Hart went 2-for-4 with a home run and even Gorkys Hernandez had two hits, including a triple, and plated twice. The pitching was not so hot, with long balls being a bugaboo. Radhames Liz started (he's being groomed as a long man out of the pen) and surrendered a run on two hits in his two frames. Stolmy Pimentel gave up two runs on three hits in the 8th inning to pick up the loss. The camp's most pleasant surprise, Arquimedes Caminero, had the magic leave him yesterday as he gave up a pair of solo homers. And Steve Lombardozzi didn't do much to aid his cause, throwing a pair of balls away at second.

    Gorkys Hernandez trip-trip-triples (photo by Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
    Todays Games: The Pirates play a split squad DH, taking on the Phillies in Bradenton at McKechnie Field and the Twins in Fort Myers. Vance Worley faces Philly and Gerrit Cole goes against the Twins today, with both games at 1:05. They'll be carried on MLB.com's Gameday audio feed.

    v Phils:

    The Lineup: Steve Lombardozzi LF, Jordy Mercer SS, Gregory Polanco RF, Neil Walker 2B, Pedro 1B, Tony Sanchez C, Sean Rodriguez 3B, Vanimal.
    The Bench: Gustav Nunez, Deibinson Romero, Sebatian Valle, Jose Tabata and some guys from minor league camp, highlighted by Reese McGuire.
    The Pitchers: Clayton Richard, Rob Scahill, Deolis Guerra and several young arms from minor league camp.

    The Pirate pitchers are approaching stretch time; we assume that Clint is looking for seven frames between Worley and Richard, and that means the reliever innings are going to become much harder to come by.  Cutch is still out but doing all the drills, so we expect they'll reboot him next week.

    v Twins:

    The Lineup: Josh Harrison, Francisco Cervelli C, Jaff Decker LF, Jung-Ho Kang 2B, Andrew Lambo 1B, Gorkys Hernandez CF, Austin Meadows RF, Pedro Florimon SS, Cole P.
    The Bench: Wilkins Castillo and eight minor-league campers.
    The Pitchers: Bobby LaFromboise, Brad Lincoln, Charlie Leesman, Josh Wall and a handful of minor league guys.

    The game has a couple of strong sidebars: Gerrit Cole trying to stretch it out a few innings, Kang with his first look at second and hot but young prospect Austin Meadows gets to show his stuff.

    • The Pirates continue to pare the roster, sending Nick Kingham and Elias Diaz, both of whom performed well in camp, to Indy. The roster now sits at 45 players.
    • True Beliver: Buster Olney of ESPN picks the Bucs to win the World Series
    • The Bucs Top 30 Prospects as ranked by MLB Pipeline.
    • Joely Rodriguez, 23, the soft-tossing lefty that the Bucs sent to the Phils for Antonio Bastardo, was optioned to AAA Lehigh Valley. Philadelphia is a good spot for him; their rotation doesn't have nearly the depth of Pittsburgh's, and he's now part of an organization that's thin in lefty pitching. Don't be surprised to see him earn a call-up this year.

    3/20: Roberto Enters HOF, Crawfords Broken Up, Happy B-Day Walter Schmidt & Blas Minor

    • 1887 - C Walter Schmidt was born in London, Arizona. He donned the tools of ignorance for Pittsburgh from 1916-24, hitting .257. Schmidt went through the unusual transaction of buying his own release from the San Francisco Seals after the 1915 season for $3K and negotiated a deal with the Bucs. He went that route because he suspected that the Seals had turned down previous offers for him made by MLB clubs and didn't want to miss the boat to the show. 
    Walter Schmidt 1923 (photo Bain News Service via the Library of Congress)
    • 1937 - The Homestead Grays acquired future Hall of Famers Josh Gibson and Judy Johnson for $2,500 in cash and a pair of journeymen players after Pittsburgh Crawfords owner Gus Greenlee was forced to unload his stars as salary dumps. By the end of 1938, the Crawford’s Greenlee's field was razed to give way to the Bedford Dwellings housing project, and Greenlee sold the Crawfords to Toledo businessmen, leaving the Grays as the only black team in town. 
    • 1966 - RHP Blas Minor was born in Merced, California. Working out of the Buc bullpen from 1992-94, he had an 8-7-3 record for Pittsburgh with a 4.76 ERA. Minor also pitched for the Houston Astros, New York Mets & Seattle Mariners, and got to live out every boy’s childhood fantasy - after being a major league ballplayer, he retired to become a fireman.
    Blas Minor 1994 Pacific Crown series

  • 1973 - In a special election held by the BBWAA‚ Roberto Clemente was voted into the Hall of Fame. The Board of Directors waived the five year eligibility period for Clemente, and he was inducted on August 6th as the first Hispanic player to enter Cooperstown. Roberto was a Latino trailblazer. Not only was he a hero in the Latin countries, but he was the first Latin American/Caribbean player to win a World Series as a starter (1960), receive a National League MVP Award (1966), and receive a World Series MVP Award (1971).
  • Thursday, March 19, 2015

    Bucs Hold Off Tigers Before Record Crowd, Cut-Down Day, Lineup & Notes

    Home runs by Tony Sanchez, Starling Marte (3-for-3) and Willy Garcia helped the Bucs take an 8-7 win from the Tigers last night. The bats were hot as Pittsburgh pounded out 14 hits. AJ was strong for three frames before hitting his pitch count and being charged with a pair of runs in the fourth. Antonio Bastardo gave up a run (he's been scored on in 4-of-5 appearances) while notching a pair of K, and dark horse bullpen candidate Bobby LaFromboise was lit up for four runs and five hits (all ground ball singles) trying to put away the game in the ninth. Josh Hill came on to get the final two outs on a DP grounder after giving up his own worm-burner knock..

    Starling Marte pointing toward a breakout seaon? (photo ESPN/AP)

    Today's Game: Radhames Liz gets his first Grapefruit League start (he's made four relief appearances) as the Bucs travel to Sarasota to face the Orioles again. Game time is 1:05, and there is no TV or radio; log into MLB.com.

    The Lineup: Jaff Decker CF, Steve Lombardozzi 2B, Corey Hart DH, Jordy Mercer SS, Sean Rosdriguez 1B, Elias Diaz C, Persdo Florimon 3B, Gorkys Hernandez LF.
    The Bench: Andrew Lambo, Alen Hansen, Willy Garcia, Gift Ngoepe, Sebastian Valle, Wilkins Castillo, Deibinson Romero, Gustav Nunez, Mel Rojas Jr. and a handful of guys from the minor league camp.
    The Pitchers: Nick Kingham, Jared Hughes, Arquimedes Caminero, Stolmy Pimentel, Collin Balester.

    Still no Cutch. He is taking field drills, so he should be close. Sean Rodriguez gets a look at first today; we're surprised Lambo hasn't gotten much time at the spot.

    Also today, the Bucs announced eight cuts: Casey Sadler, Jameson Taillon and Alen Hanson have been optioned to Indy, Willy Garcia to Altoona and Collin Balester, Jeremy Bleich, Gift Ngoepe and Mel Rojas Jr. were assigned to minor league camp.

    • Jose Tabata had to be carted off the field when he fouled a ball off the inside of his ankle. It was diagnosed as a contusion, not a break.
    • Chris Stewart was called "week-to-week" with his hammy sprain and is expected to miss another two weeks, which may prove glad tidings to the new and improved Tony Sanchez.
    • The game last night drew a record crowd to McKechnie Field of 9,018, the most people to catch a game in the franchise's 92 year history.
    • Jung-Ho Kang must be coming along OK in the field; the Bucs plan to introduce him to second base in the coming days.
    • Justin Sellers hopped a flight to California yesterday to be with his wife for the birth of their child. Sellers factoid: His dad, Jeff, pitched for the Red Sox in the mid-to-late eighties.
    • Congrats to Joe Jordano, Pitt skipper. He's in his 15th season with the Panthers and just collected his 500th coaching win.

    3/19: Paul Smith, Jose Castillo B-Days, O'BrienTwins Inked & Bill Landrum Cut

    • 1931 - 1B/OF Paul Smith was born in New Castle. He was used sparingly in his Buc career (1953, 1957-58), though his stick was solid, hitting .275 for Pittsburgh. He was among the local boys such as Ron Kline, Ron Neccai, Tony Bartirome and Bobby Del Greco that Branch Rickey brought to camp to try out for a spot on the club in 1952 and cracked the roster the following season, hitting a career best .283 in 110 games. 
    • 1953 - The Pirates signed bonus baby twins Eddie and Johnny O’Brien, multi-talented basketball (They were both All-America, led the team to a pair of tournaments and even beat the Harlem Globetrotters!) and baseball stars at Seattle University for a reported $25,000 each. They could both pitch and play infield, but neither made much of a mark with the Bucs. 
    O"Brien twins around manager Fred Haney (photo via David Eskenazi Collection)
    • 1981 - 2B Jose Castillo was born in Las Mercedes, Venezuela. He was considered the long-term answer at second, but after four Bucco years (2004-07) and a .256 BA, he was released and replaced by Freddy Sanchez. He closed out his baseball career with gigs in Taiwan and Japan. 
    • 1992 - The Pirates released RHP Bill Landrum, who had won 13 games and saved 56 more over the prior three seasons, tossing to a 2.39 ERA. He was due $1.7M, and by releasing him this early in camp, the Bucs were on the hook for just a quarter of his salary. That caused a bit of a media & fan kerfluffle, but Landrum only lasted two more years in the show after his release. Performance, along with wear & tear (he was thought to have shoulder and knee problems) also played into the decision to let him go. 
    Bill Landrum 1991 Studio series

    Wednesday, March 18, 2015

    Bucs Blasted, Frankie Gets Opening Day Nod, Pump Up vid, Lineup & Notes

    The Bucs were bum-rushed yesterday, falling to the Astros 13-7. Jeff Knock...oops, Locke gave up six runs, and his bullpen fireman, Deolis Guerra, came in and poured a can of gas on the flames. Big John Koldzkom was also touched up for a pair. On the plus side, The Kid had a three run homer to go with a two-bagger, Elias Diaz had a broken-bat two-run knock, Andrew Lambo doubled home a score and Gustav Nunez added the other RBI.

    Today's Game: The Bucs host Detroit at McKechnie Field in Bradenton today at 6:05 with AJ doing the honors v Shane Green. The game will be on Root Sports and 93.7 The Fan.

    AJ Burnett photo UASToday Sports Images

    The Lineup: Josh Harrison 3B, Jose Tabata LF, Jung-Ho Kang SS, Neil Walker 2B, Starling Marte CF, Pedro 1B, Tony Sanchez C, Andrew Lambo RF, AJ.
    The Bench: 17 deep, with Gregory Polanco, Elias Diaz & Jaff Decker being the main cogs. Brent Morel is also on the card, so he's recovered from his hammy tweak.
    The Pitchers: Tony Watson, Mark Melancon, Bobby LaFromboise, Josh Wall, Casey Sadler, Antonio Bastardo, Charlie Leesman (not sure which ones Clint plans to toss after AJ gets his four innings/65 pitches worth of work)

    • Well, one not so deep mystery solved: Frankie Liriano will be the Opening Day pitcher against the Reds. He's the first guy to get the OD nod back-to-back since 2005-06 when Ollie Perez kicked off the seasons. Before that, you have to go back to 1992 when Doug Drabek got his third consecutive Opening Day start.
    • The rotation, as announced by Clint Hurdle, will be Liriano , Gerrit Cole, A.J. Burnett, Vance Worley/Jeff Locke and Charlie Morton. That leaves Cole scheduled to pitch in the home opener on April 13th v the Tigers.
    • Cutch was a scratch again, although he has taken batting practice the past two days. Chris Stewart has also missed some time with a sore hammy.
    • The Pirates black matte batting helmets were a hit at camp, so much so that they're going to wear them during the season.
    Ready for some baseball? "Pump Up" by, oddly enough, Hockey Night In Pittsburgh, ought to get the juices flowing again..


    3/18: Happy B-Days to Nixey, Elbie, Dick & Brian

    • 1874 - Pirate skipper Jimmy “Nixey” Callahan was born in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Callahan was the Buc manager in 1916 and part of 1917, never sniffing the first division and replaced midway through his second year by Honus Wagner after compiling an 85-129 record at the helm. He was a nice ballplayer (tho he never suited up for the Pirates). In 1902, Callahan pitched the first no-hitter in American League history and is the only pitcher to have collected five hits in a game three times. 
    • 1916 - 1B Elbie Fletcher was born in Milton, Massachusetts. He played first for Pittsburgh for seven seasons (1939-43, 1946-47) with two years off during WW2. Elbie put together a line of .279/79/616 as a Bucco, and was an All-Star in 1943. Fletcher began his big league career in 1934 with Boston after a contest was held to determine which local high school player was most likely to reach the majors, with the winner receiving an invitation to the Braves' spring training camp. With the help of some ballot-box busting votes from his large family, Fletcher won, and then actually made the team.
    Elbie Fletcher - 1941 Goudey series
    • 1926 - LHP Dick Littlefield was born in Detroit. The journeyman southpaw worked from 1954-56 for some pretty sad Pirate teams and put up a 15-23 record with a 4.29 ERA. Littlefield was the poster boy for journeymen as he played for nine teams in his nine year MLB career. 
    • 1962 - RHP Brian Fisher was born in Honolulu. A second round draft pick of the Yankees, the Bucs traded for him in 1987. He was a workmanlike starter for two years, but suffered from knee problems in 1989 and was released by Pittsburgh after a Bucco line of 19-22/4.72 ERA. He lasted in the show until 1992 when his knees finally gave out. He was a second round draft pick by the Atlanta Braves, and had a fastball that touched 97 MPH.
    Brian Fisher - 1989 Donruss series