Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Jamo Hangs Tough, Middle of the Order Comes Up Big As Pirates Outlast Cubs 5-4

Jamo had a clean first; Jon Lester walked J-Low to start it off, then shut it down. A knock and a walk  around an out in the second caused a little sweat, but an around-the-horn DP restored order. The Bucs took a walk and Joey O doubled with an out, but the contact play got J-Hay tossed out at home (good call as the pitcher was on deck; Jordy didn't do his job). Three grounders, three outs for the Cubbies in the third. Gregory singled with two away and touched home following Freeser's two-bagger high off the Clemente Wall. He plated on Cervy's homer, a fly up the line that just snuggled inside the foul pole (the line is 325'; Statcast had his ball traveling 328'). The Cubs came right back in the fourth - a double that Gregory missed shoe-stringing and a flare to right put runners on the corners. JT hung an 0-2 curve and Javy Baez launched it off the Rotunda to tie the match. Two outs later, Chi-town banged out another double and only Jordy's snag of a liner by Lester kept it even. Jordy singled with an out; JT's not very good inning continued as he bunted into a DP.

Jamo took the game into the seventh again (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Chi-town drew a two-out walk in the fifth for all their damage. Gregory walked with two away and Freeser shipped him home with another opposite field double, digging out a 1-2 curve. Amore followed with a knock to left, but Freeser was cut down easily at home; with two outs, Joey Cora was pretty aggressive with the windmill. Baez opened the sixth with a ground rule double and Jamo left him there thanks to a couple of bullets that found mitts. Steve Cishek took over and tossed a clean frame. A leadoff Baby Bears single in the seventh was quickly mopped up by a 6-4-3 DP. Pinch hitter Anthony Rizzo caught a 1-2 fastball in the hand; the Pirates challenged, claiming the ball hit the bat first, and lost. Edgar Santana took over; Jamo wasn't sharp, but did a good job containing the Cubs except for the curve to Baez. The next Bruin walked, but a whiff shut it down. Old Bucco and new Cubbie Jesse Chavez 1-2-3'ed the Pirates. Kyle Crick took the ball in the eighth and with two gone walked Ian Happ, despite being ahead 0-2, before putting it to rest.

Justin Wilson toed the rubber and his first pitch was roped into the seats by Gregory to add an insurance run. Freeser's liner to center was run down and the page turned quietly afterward. Felipe Rivero climbed the slope and gave up a single under Freeser's mitt and an Addison Russell triple, ruh-roh. The Pirates asked for a review; it appeared Russell's hand came off the base and it did; he was rung up *whew*. Given a reprieve, Felipe cruised home with a whiff and bouncer; RTJR.

Ol' man Freeser has been key in the Bucco resurgence (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)

Pretty fun day. Spanked the Cubs with Dickerson & Bell on ice, and added a couple of stellar arms to not only prime the pump but to let the fans and team that the FO is on their side. Dunno where it will all lead, but ya gotta have the feels for this bunch right now.

Notes:
  • Gregory had two hits, three runs scored and an RBI. Freeser had two doubles, two runs chased home and plated once. Cervy had two raps, two runs batted in and scored one time. Not a bad performance by the 3-4-5 hitters; the drove in and scored all five runs. The club had eight hits; the middle of the order had six of them.
  • The Pirates have recalled utility man Chris Bostick from Indy, where he hit .297 with 25 doubles, four homers and 34 RBI in 81 games.
  • There were 18,972 rooters in the yard tonight. As an added attraction, they got to see a couple of military helicopters buzz the park and town; there's a defense exercise going on this week.
  • Chad Kuhl was switched from the 10 day DL to the 60 day DL, creating an open 40-man roster spot.
  • Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs digs into the biggest move of the deadline, the Pirates-Rays deal.

Chris Archer Sweepstakes Goes to the Bucs

Well, they said it would never happen, but lo and behold, Chris Archer, 29, is now a Bucco. The price was steep - Austin Meadows, Tyler Glasnow and a PTBNL (NH said he would be "a player of significance") - but Archer now slots at the top of the rotation with Jamo.

He's having a down year; in fact, since 2016 he's been pretty average. His slash over that span is 22-36/4.10 (3.61 FIP) with a 1.276 WHIP and ERA+ of 99. Archer is 3-5/4.31 this season, tho he still has swing 'n' miss stuff with 102 whiffs in 96 innings. Chris works with a fastball-slider-change tool box and a durable rubber arm, having started at least 32 games and working 200+ innings from 2014-17. The Bucs are betting on a change of scenery and escape from the AL East will return him to the ace of 2013-15. A plus for the usually tone-deaf Pirate PR efforts is that he's an all-around good guy and should become a fan fave in Pittsburgh.

Chris Archer (photo Joesph Garnett Jr/Getty)

The two-time All Star is controllable through 2021. His contract calls for $7.6M in 2019 and two team options for $9M in 2020 and $11M.

Meadows was the Bucs top prospect and won the Rookie-of-the-Month in May, but the outfield went from threadbare to packed in a heartbeat this season. Corey Dickerson took command in left, while Jordan Luplow & Adam Frazier are on the MLB roster. Chris Bostick (called up today), Bryan Reynolds and Jason Martin are all having strong years at the upper levels. Austin may bloom into the stud he was predicted to be (he is hitting .292 w/five HR) but the positional depth worked against him. He was the key to the deal; the Pirates made P Mitch Keller's an untouchable, and the Rays countered by making AM their centerpiece.

Glasnow was the number one prospect for two years running before Meadows. He dominated in the minors but his command was sorely lacking; the 6'8" guy couldn't settle into a repeatable motion. Ty's MO continued in the bigs - a lot of K's, a lot of walks and a lot of pitches. Ty apparently didn't win the confidence of Clint and the FO as he was demoted from starting and worked virtually all low-leverage, mop up outings this year. He's a lotto ticket for the Rays; a change of scenery and a different set of voices may unlock his potential.

Cubs In Town, Jamo v Lester, Lineup & Notes - Archer, Kela Now Pirates

Today: The opener of the quickie two-game set is at 7:05. The match will be aired by AT&T SportsNet and 93.7 The Fan. Of course, judging by the current monsoon, starting on time could be iffy, though the storms are supposed to pass through before game time.

Pitchers: RHP Jameson Taillon (7-7, 3.73) kicks off against LHP Jon Lester (12-3, 3.06). JT has been dependable for the Bucs. He's been charged with three earned runs or less in each of his last 11 starts (5-4/3.09) and in 18 of his 21 outings overall. This will be Jamo's first start of the year against the Cubs. He hasn't had much luck against them in the past with a 2-3/5.06 slash against them in five career starts. Lester seems to be wearing down a bit in July; he's 2-1/6.31(the ERA is inflated by one very no good outing). He's already 2-0 against the Bucs (and the Cubs have won all three of his 2018 starts against Pittsburgh), pitching one gem and two other games where he was so-so but got lots of support from the bats. Overall, he's 7-5/3.39 against Pittsburgh.

Jamo starts the Cub series (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Lineup: Jordan Luplow LF, Starling Marte CF, Gregory Polanco RF, David Freese 3B, Fran Cervelli C, Josh Harrison 2B, Jose Osuna 1B, Jordy SS, & Taillon P. Lefty lineup today; southpaw again tomorrow.

Notes:

  • Busy day. The Bucs landed RHP Chris Archer of Tampa Bay in exchange for OF Austin Meadows, RHP Tyler Glasnow and a PTBNL. Earlier in the day, they swapped for righty reliever Keone Kela, sending Taylor Hearn and another PTBNL to Texas. The deals seem solid, with the qualifier that we have to see who the players to be named are. Kela's is supposedto be a lower-ranked prospect; no hint of who's involved in the Archer deal. The price was high, but both guys are under team control for the future - Archer through 2021 and Kela through 2020.
  • In his last 20 games, David Freese is hitting .364 (20-for-55) with three home runs and 13 RBI.
  • Over the last 16 games, Pirates starters have a combined 2.75 ERA and held opposing batters to a .237 batting average.
  • Quick starts count: the Bucs are 39-15 when scoring first and 16-37 when the opposing team plates the first run.
  • Chicago has been meh of late, going 3-4 in the past seven games. The Bucs are 4-5 against the Windy City boys this season (1-2 at PNC Park and 3-3 at Wrigley). Chi-town leads the Pirates by seven games in the division.
  • Per Ken Rosenthal of MLB.com, the Pirates had a Plan B if the Keone Kela deal fell through; they were talking to San Diego about Kirby Yates. The 31-year-old has mostly been a set-up guy who features a splitter and has a 2.94 ERA in the past two campaigns.
  • After the Bruins set comes an off day Thursday and a weekend three-gamer v the Cards to end the brief home stand.

Bucs Pull the Trigger; Get Kela for Hearn & PTBNL

The Bucs strengthened an already formidable bullpen early this morning when they got Texas closer Keone Kela for minor leaguers LHP Taylor Hearn and PTBNL (reportedly to be not as highly ranked in the system as Hearns, a Top Ten prospect, was). Also, someone on the active & 40-man roster is going to have to get chopped to clear a space for Kela.

The Pirates most serious contender, according to reports, was the Dodgers; the Cubs and Red Sox were also in the hunt. The Pirates were looking for immediate but controllable help while the Rangers are looking at a rebuild with a 2020 transition window, so the deal gives both sides what they were after.

Keone Kela (photo Mark Terrill/AP)

Kela, 25, moved into the closer’s role for the first time this season and converted 24 of 25 save chances (spoiler alert: he had a lead of three-plus runs in 14 saves; he had just six saves closing out with a one-run lead), with a 3.44 ERA and 44 K in 36-2/3 IP. Keone features a fastball (97-98)/curve combo. The righty fits the hard-thrower mold the Pirates like and fills the controllable/affordable bills; he won't hit his walk year until 2021 and makes $1.2M, plus he sports the appropriate arm ink.

KK does present some risk; he was on the DL three times with elbow and shoulder injuries in 2016 and ’17, but so far, so good in 2018. Kela also had a discipline issue that landed him in AAA to start 2017, but that appears to be water over the dam as he's been a good citizen since (and we assume the Pirates did a background check). He also sports a chasm of a split with a .125 BA v RHH/.321 v LHH; he has all but ditched his change. The Pirates could maximize him with that third pitch in his kit, so Uncle Ray's job will be to develop that or another pitch to attack the lefties.

He won't bump Felipe Vazquez but now Clint has a couple of late-inning set up choices with Kela and Kyle Crick, joining with Edgar Santana and Richard Rodriguez to form a pretty strong back end, with all sorts of leverage possibilities if the ol' skipper feels frisky.

Taylor Hearn (via @thearn14 twitter)


Hearn, 23 and the Pirates #7 prospect, slashed 3-6/3.12 with 1.09 WHIP and 107 strikeouts in 104 IP for the Curve, holding opponents to a .198 average. It's a homecoming for him as Hearn is from Royse City, Texas, less than an hour away from Arlington. He was projected to be a big league reliever, although he was the top-ranked lefty starter in the Pirates system, so it'll be interesting to see how Texas uses him.

Now to see if Neal has any more wheelin' and dealin' in mind before the 4 o'clock deadline drops...


7/31 Through the 40s: Gee Signs; Loose Lefty; 19 Innings; HDB Vic, Joe, Peanuts, Elmer & Frank

  • 1870 - C/1B Joe Sugden was born in Philadelphia. Sugden spent the first five seasons (1893-97) of his 13 year big league career with Pittsburgh, hitting .277. Joe went on to become a scout for the St. Louis Cardinals. 
  • 1892 - LHP Erv ”Peanuts” Kantlehner was born in San Jose. Working mostly as a starter for the Bucs from 1914-16, he went 13-29 with a 2.85 ERA. Erv later coached high school baseball. He was said to have gotten his nickname in the minors for reasons unknown - it was certainly not his size, as he was a six-footer.
Lefty Killen (photo via Baseball revisited)
  • 1896 - Per Gregory Wolf of SABR: “In a game against Cincinnati at League Park, (Pirates pitcher) Lefty Killen charged home plate to argue with umpire Bud Lilly, who had changed his call on a fly down the left-field line from foul to hit. According to the Pittsburgh Daily Post, Lilly ‘let go at’ Killen, apparently under the impression that the pitcher would strike him. Killen retaliated by landing ‘a couple of blows on (Lally’s) face’ before a riot erupted with players, spectators, and police rushing onto the field. When order was finally restored, Killen was under arrest and escorted to the local police station. Killen was ultimately fined $25 while team owner William Kerr publicly condemned the umpire for provoking the incident.” Pittsburgh won in spite of the rhubarb, 9-7, over the Cincinnati Reds at League Park. The incident wasn’t out of character for the short-fused Killen. Wolf noted “The ‘grave objection to Killen is his temper,’ opined Sporting Life. ’He is as obstinate as a mule.’” 
  • 1912 - The Pirates scored three runs in the 19th inning and then barely held off Boston to take a 7-6 decision at the South End Grounds. 38-year-old Honus Wagner was the man of the hour, stealing home and later driving in the final, game-winning run for Pittsburgh against the Braves. The game was a duel turned into slugfest - it was 2-2 going into the 18th when both clubs scored twice, and five more runs were scored in the 19th. Otto Hess of the Braves had an excuse; he went all 19 frames. For the Bucs, Hank Robinson and Howie Camnitz faded in relief of Marty O’Toole (he called it a day after 12 innings), although Camnitz got the win despite giving up two runs in the last frame. 
  • 1914 - RHP Elmer Riddle was born in Columbus, Georgia. The 10-year veteran tossed his last two campaigns (1948-49) in Pittsburgh, winning an All-Star berth the first season while posting a 12-10, 3.49 line. He faded badly in ‘49, winning just one game in his final year while hobbled by a bum wheel. He toiled briefly as a scout for Kansas City afterward and then worked for United Oil in his hometown of Columbus. 
Vic Davalillo 1972 Topps
  • 1936 - OF Vic Davalillo was born in Churuguara, Venezuela. He played for the Bucs from 1971-73, hitting .290 while a platoon player in the outfield and first. Vic played on two Pirate playoff clubs and when he was traded to Oakland in 1973, he joined a third. Davalillo was a motherland hero; he played 30 seasons in the Venezuelan Winter League and still holds a handful of career records, including a .325 BA. In 2003, Vic was selected in the inaugural class of the Venezuelan Baseball Hall of Fame. 
  • 1939 - The Pirates obtained 6' 9" LHP Johnny Gee from Syracuse of the International League for $75,000 and four players. Nicknamed “Gee Whiz,” he lasted parts of four seasons (1939, 1941, 1943-44) with the Bucs, winning five games. Also known as “Long John” (and as the “$75,000 Lemon”), he never fully recovered from a 1940 arm injury. Gee was the tallest person to play MLB until 6’10” Randy Johnson debuted for the Montreal Expos in September, 1988. Not too surprisingly, Long John went on to play pro hoops for the NBA Syracuse Nationals. 
  • 1944 - RHP Frank Brosseau was born in Drayton, North Dakota. A first-round pick of the Bucs in the 1966 secondary draft, he was inked from the U of Minnesota as an OF’er. When his bat proved weak, he was converted to the mound. That got him a shot in the show with the Pirates, albeit for three games in 1969 and 1971, working 3-2/3 IP and giving up two runs. He finished his pro career in 1971 at AAA Charleston.

7/31 From the 50s-70s: Bragan Bounced; ASG; No to Interleague; HBD Mike & JJ & More

  • 1953 - Murry Dickson broke a personal five-game losing streak and the team’s four-game skid by scattering eight hits to defeat the Chicago Cubs 4-0 at Forbes Field. Though Bruins were on in every frame but one, only three Cubs reached second and just one made it as far as third. C Nick Koback had a memorable day; not only did the rookie collect his first MLB hit, a ninth-inning single, but he called a shutout in his first big league start behind the dish. 
Bobby Bragan (photo via Sports Memorabilia)
  • 1957 - Manager Bobby Bragan was ejected for arguing a call (actually, he held his nose) during a 4-2 loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field. After being tossed, he went slightly bonkers. Bobby got an orange drink from the stands; the umps told him to take it into the clubhouse, and he offered them all a sip and ordered hot dogs for the boys in blue, but they weren’t placated. After their report to the league, Bragan was fined $100 and threatened with suspension if he didn’t clean up his act. After the game, Bragan was quoted by the Pittsburgh Press’ Les Biederman as saying “My only regret is that the hot dog didn’t arrive in time.” Bragan was fired three days later and replaced by Danny Murtaugh on a temporary basis. The fill-in Murtaugh managed until 1964 and was brought back as skipper three more times after that. 
  • 1959 - RHP Mike Bielecki was born in Baltimore. His first four years (1984-’87) were spent in Pittsburgh, where he went 10-17 with a 4.57 ERA. He was the Pirates first round pick in the 1979 draft (secondary phase) and went on to have a workmanlike 14-year MLB career. 
  • 1961 - C Smoky Burgess, OF Roberto Clemente, P ElRoy Face and 1B Dick Stuart repped the Bucs in the second All-Star game of the year at Fenway Park, a 1-1 tie called after nine innings because of rain. The next tie wouldn’t be until 2002 when the game was controversially called after the sides ran out of pitchers. Clemente went 0-for-2, Burgess & Stu 0-for-1, and the Baron of the Bullpen was uncalled upon by manager Danny Murtaugh. 
  • 1962 - The NL owners unanimously rejected a proposal by Commissioner Ford Frick to include inter-league play at the annual scheduling meeting held in Chicago. The idea dated back to 1903 when the NL and AL first made peace, but wouldn’t come to fruition until 1997. 
Even Maz had bad glove days...1964 Topps
  • 1964 - It happens to the best of them. The San Francisco Giants took advantage of three errors by Bill Mazeroski and three more by his teammates to edge the Bucs 8-6 at Forbes Field. Maz's last error, a dropped catch on a potential around-the-horn DP ball in the ninth, would have ended the game with the Pirates on top 6-5 if he had held on to turn the pivot. The Pirates made six errors during the contest with 3B Bob Bailey mishandling two chances and C Jim Pagliaroni adding another miscue to the list. 
  • 1976 - Al Oliver was featured as the cover story of The Sporting News in an article titled “Batting Demon.” It was his third AS year, and he finished the season with a.323 BA and .839 OPS. He played 18 years of MLB ball and finished up with a .303 lifetime batting average, .795 OPS and seven All-Star appearances. 
  • 1979 - IF Jason Joseph “JJ” Furmaniak was born in Naperville, Illinois. A three-time All-Star in the minors, Furmaniak had a cup of coffee with the Bucs in 2005, getting into 13 games and hitting .192 after being dealt to Pittsburgh for David Ross. He signed with Oakland in 2007 and played 16 games for them before going to Japan for a season. JJ then finished out his career in the minors with 2011 being his last campaign.

7/31 From the 80s: Willie HoF; Near No-Nos; Strike Ends; Game Stories

  • 1981 - The player’s strike ended after 42 days. In the settlement, teams that lost a top free agent would be compensated from a pool of players left unprotected from all of the clubs (who could protect 26 players) rather than just the signing club, a procedure that lasted until 1985. The union agreed to restrict free agency to players with six or more years of major league service. Reportedly, the negotiations were so bitter that after the deal, Players Association rep Marvin Miller and the owners' negotiator Ray Grebey refused to pose with each other for the traditional “done deal” photo. The year became “split season” with first-half winners meeting second-half titleists to determine the champs. It was a weird year; the Pirates and Cards played 102 games during the season while the Giants got in 111. 
Jose DeLeon 1984 Fleer
  • 1983 - Rookie Jose DeLeon held the Mets hitless for 8-1/3 innings before Hubie Brooks singled, but Mike Torrez countered with 11 shutout innings as New York won 1-0 in 12 frames. In his previous start‚ DeLeon had held the Padres hitless for 6-1/3 innings. Manny Sarmiento took the loss when the Pirates opted to go for a DP with an out in the 12th, but George Foster beat the relay to first. The day was a double defeat for the Bucs as they lost the twin bill’s lidlifter 7-6, blowing a 6-1 lead. Jim Bibby took the loss in the 11th on Bob Bailor’s walk off single to waste Jason Thompson’s first-inning grand slam. 
  • 1985 - The Pirates scored twice in the bottom of the 10th to rally past the Phillies 4-3 at TRS. Cecilio Guante picked up the win in spite of himself, allowing a home run in the top of the 10th and tossing a wild pitch in the ninth that tied the game. Former Bucco Kent Tekulve suffered the loss after Steve Kemp lined a two-out walk off single to left to bring home Larry McWilliams, pinch running for Jason Thompson. The batter before Kemp, Marvell Wynne, hit into a force that plated Lee Mazzilli and knotted the score again. 
  • 1988 - Willie Stargell was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as the sole honoree that year. Stargell played his entire career (1962-1982) with the Pirates, batting .282 with 2,232 hits, 475 home runs and 1,540 RBI. His home run and RBI totals remain first on the club’s all-time list, in addition to his 937 walks and 953 extra-base hits. 
  • 1992 - Knuckleball specialist Tim Wakefield made his debut against the Cards at TRS, replacing Zane Smith who was hurt, and pitched his way to a 3-2 win. He was in hot water early, giving up a couple of unearned runs in the fifth after working his way out of second and third frame jams. But he left the bases full of Redbirds in the fifth and cruised afterward. He got all his support from a pair of bombs, a two-run shot by Barry Bonds and a solo homer off Jay Bell’s bat, and made the three scores stand up. The Bucs went into first after the win and never looked back. 
  • 1997 - Kevin Young played through a case of the flu, and the pregame chicken soup worked its magic as his three-run, eighth-inning homer carried the Bucs to a 4-1 win over the Colorado Rockies at TRS. Jason Schmidt went eight frames for the win with Rick Loiselle earning the save. 
  • 2012 - AJ Burnett held the Cubs hitless through 7-2/3 innings before giving up his only knock, a single to right by Adrian Cardenas. The Bucs won 5-0 at Wrigley. Burnett pitched a complete game while a clutch Neil Walker had all five RBI.  
  • 2013 - The Pirates won their fourth straight in a five-game series (they would lose the next day 13-0) over St. Louis with a 5-4 win at PNC Park. With Card ace Adam Wainwright on the hill, Pittsburgh rallied three times from early deficits to tie the game 4-4 in the fifth. The score stayed that way until the bottom of the eighth. Neil Walker opened with a single and tagged to second after Pedro Alvarez’s drive to left died in the corner for the second out. Russell Martin turned on a slider and lined it into short left center for the game winner. The Pirate bullpen tossed five scoreless innings in the victory, with Tony Watson getting the win and Mark Melancon earning the save. The Pirates extended their NL Central lead to 2-½ games with the decision. 
Tony Watson 2014 Topps Update
  • 2015 - Behind Starling Marte’s ninth-inning defensive prowess and Jung-Ho Kang’s stick, the Pirates snapped a six game losing streak at GABP by hanging on the beat the Cincinnati Reds 5-4. Marte threw out Brandon Phillips at home for the second out of the ninth, then made a tumbling, grass-top grab of Todd Frazier’s low, hooking liner to end the game, giving Mark Melancon his 31st straight save conversion. JHK ripped three straight doubles, scored twice (once on a heads-up sprint home following a short wild pitch) and drove in a run. Kang finished July with a .379 BA & 13 extra-base hits, the most productive month for a Pirate rookie since Paul Waner hit .381 with 14 multi-base contests in September of 1926. Jeff Locke got the win for the Bucs.

7/31 - Deadline Deals: Lieber, Sanchez, Gonzo, X-Man, J-Mac & More Become Bucs

  • 1987 - The Pirates traded RHP Don Robinson to the San Francisco Giants for C Mackey Sasser and $50K. Robinson did everything from starting to closing for the Giants from ‘87-91, with a slash of 42-33-14/3.56. Sasser played a dozen games for the Buccos and then was sent to the Mets after the season as part of the Randy Milligan deal. 
  • 1993 - RHP Jon Lieber was traded by the Kansas City Royals along with reliever Dan Miceli to the Bucs for closer Stan Belinda. Lieber won 38 games in five seasons with Pittsburgh, Miceli had 24 saves/10 holds in four Pirates campaigns and Belinda lasted two years for KC, blowing 2-of-3 save opps and settling into a bridge role. 
Jon Lieber 1994 Flair
  • 2001 - The Pirates traded the well-traveled LHP Terry Mulholland to the Dodgers for pitchers Mike Fetters and Adrian Burnside. Mulholland, from Uniontown, pitched for 11 teams in a 20 year career and had a pair of stints with the Cubs, Phils and Giants. The FO also swapped Mike Williams to the Astros for RHP Tony McKnight. It was actually more like a lend-lease, as Williams signed with the Bucs again as a free agent after the season. 
  • 2002 - The Bucs sent first round bust OF Chad Hermansen to the Cubs for OF Darren Lewis, who refused to report to the Pirates and retired instead. Chad hit .209 for the Cubs before moving on.
  • 2003 - Pitchers Brandon Lyon, Anastacio Martinez and Jeff Suppan were traded by the Bucs to the Red Sox for LHP Mike Gonzalez, 2B Freddy Sanchez and cash in a redo deal. Originally, Gonzalez had gone to Boston for Lyons and Martinez a few days earlier, but Lyons flunked the physical causing a reworking of the swap. The mulligan panned out pretty well for the Bucs. 
  • 2004 - GM Dave Littlefield reportedly rejected an offer to deal pitcher Kris Benson to the Phillies for a power-hitting prospect named Ryan Howard, who would eventually become a NL MVP. The Bucs thought they had a Howard clone already in their system with Brad Eldred. 
Jody Gerut 2005 Topps
  • 2005 - The Cubs sent young OF Jody Gerut to Pittsburgh for vet OF Matt Lawton. Chi-town shipped Lawton to the Yankees for a minor leaguer in August. Gerut, hampered by a bum knee, barely played and was released after 2006, appearing in just four games as a Pirate. 
  • 2006 - Busy at the deadline: The Pirates traded pitchers Roberto Hernandez and Oliver Perez to the Mets for Xavier Nady. Pittsburgh also sent P Kip Wells to the Rangers for P Jesse Chavez, traded OF/1B Craig Wilson to the Yankees for P Shawn Chacon and acquired RHP Brian Rogers from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for 1B Sean Casey. Nady hit .301 in three Pittsburgh seasons, Chavez was flipped in the 2009 offseason for Aki Iwamura, Chacon gave the Bucs two workmanlike campaigns and Rogers was ineffective, getting into 13 games over two years. 
  • 2007- The Bucs traded OF Rajai Davis and IF Stephen McFarland to the San Francisco Giants for RHP Matt Morris, who was being paid $7.5M in 2007 and under contract to make $9.5M in 2008 with a $1M buyout for 2009. He was released on April 27th of 2008 after going 3-8 with a 7.04 ERA in 16 Pirate starts. Many believed this deal was the straw that broke the back of GM Dave Littlefield’s era in Pittsburgh. Rajai is still playing. 
Craig Hansen 2008 Topps
  • 2008 - Jason Bay and Josh Wilson were traded to the Boston Red Sox in a three-team deal that sent Manny Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Andy LaRoche & Bryan Morris to the Pirates from LA, and Brandon Moss & Craig Hansen coming to the Bucs from Beantown. None of the prospects panned out for Pittsburgh, and Bay’s career was hamstrung by injury. Reports were that Tampa Bay offered SS Reid Brignac & P Jeff Niemann for Bay, but the Bucco FO wanted Wade Davis, David Price or Jeremy Hellickson instead of Niemann, ending that talk in a hurry. Miami was also a player and offered a package anchored by OF Jeremy Hermida and P Ryan Tucker, but the Pirates were focused on an 18-year-old outfielder named Mike Stanton, another untouchable. 
  • 2010 - A lot of wheeling and dealing: RHP James McDonald was traded to Pittsburgh with OF Andrew Lambo by the LA Dodgers for RHP Octavio Dotel and cash. The Bucs also flipped LHP Javier Lopez to the Giants for RHP Joe Martinez and OF Joe Bowker. In a big house cleaning/change of scenery deal, SS Bobby Crosby, RHP D.J. Carrasco and RF Ryan Church were sent to the Arizona Diamondbacks for cash, C Chris Snyder and SS Pedro Ciriaco. J-Mac had a promising start but crashed while Lambo couldn’t overcome a spate of injuries; the other players didn’t leave much of a mark with the organization. 
  • 2011 - OF Ryan Ludwick was sent to the Pirates by San Diego for cash. He hit .232 with two homers during the dog days and then signed with the Reds in the off season. 
  • 2012 - 1B Gaby Sanchez and RHP Kyle Kaminska went from the Marlins to the Pirates for OF Gorkys Hernandez and 2013’s sandwich compensation draft pick five minutes before the deadline expired. Gaby stayed as a platoon 1B and bench bat through 2014 with Pittsburgh, hitting .241, and then went to Japan to play. Before that trade, the Bucs dealt 3B Casey McGehee to the Yankees for RHP Chad Qualls; both ended up as stretch run rentals for their respective clubs. 
Michael Morse 2015 Topps
  • 2015 - The Bucs picked up 1B/OF Michael Morse, who had just been traded to and DFA’ed by the LA Dodgers, for OF Jose Tabata and cash. The Beast hit .275 with a .390 OBP in 45 games during the stretch, mainly off the bench. In a late deal spurred by AJ Burnett’s same-day trip to the DL due to elbow inflammation, Pittsburgh then sent minor league RHP Adrian Sampson to Seattle for veteran lefty JA Happ, who turned in a masterful slash of 7-2/1.85.  
  • 2017 - LHP Tony Watson (5-3-10, 3.66) was sent to the LA Dodgers for a pair of prospects, IF Oneil Cruz and RHP Angel German. Tony joined the club in 2011 and was seventh in franchise history with 450 appearances, but had lost his closers job to Felipe Rivera and was in his walk year. To replace him, the Pirates picked up 40-year-old rental Joaquin Benoit from the Phillies for 23-year-old Bradenton Marauders closer Seth McGarry.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Monday Off Day Stuff - Pitchers the Pirates Are Looking At & Notes

The Bucs could use some pitching; a starter who slots in two-three spot of the rotation behind Jamo and another seventh-inning type reliever would fill the bill. They're not, at least that it's leaked out, looked at any position players, satisfied that the pipeline is full and they have internal replacements close to major league-ready.

The Orioles Brad Brach, who was considered a Pirates target, went to the Braves for $250K in international bonus pool money; while the price was right, the Pirates apparently shied clear because of his rental status. Reports say that the Bucs, instead of looking at a Kevin Gausman-Brach package as previously thought, have shifted their sights to a Gausman-Mychal Givens combo. Gausman is a starter whose stuff is better than his record and Givens a set-up guy. Gausman has two more years of control & Givens three. The Birds are said to be looking for an infield/pitching prospect package in return. Baltimore's asking price is high, and that could thwart any deals.

Likewise, some recent reports have the Pirates as part of the Chris Archer sweepstakes; though having a down year, he would slot with Jameson Taillon at the top of the Bucco rotation. Spoiler - whether they've just kicked his tires with an inquiry or are actual contenders is up in the air. Archer is a popular commodity, as he's under team control for three more seasons for $27.5M. There hasn't been much noise in the Keone Kela bidding war, and the Pirates have been reported to have some interest in another Texas bullpen piece, Jose LeClerc, a middle-inning arm.

Decisions, decisions...(photo via Amherst College)

There's also been some additional wisps of smoke that the FO might check in on Sonny Gray and Zack Wheeler, but it doesn't appear that the New York clubs are terribly tempted to move any of their pitchers at the moment. The Mets are asking a sky-high return for Wheeler, while Gray could enter the market late as the Yankees are still in pursuit of pitching. They've also been said to snooping around the Padres arms, though no specific target(s) has come to the surface.

The list, of course, isn't complete and may be more smoke than fire; the Bucco FO rarely publicizes its wish list, so many deals Neal makes drop from the blue. We'll know in 24 hours or so what he has up his sleeve. One thing we hope is that he deals to shore up the club and not to make a PR point.

The recent hot streak and a rash of injuries have all but removed the Bucs from the sellers' market, unless someone is sniffing at J-Hay, and the Pirates, with some depth to their minor league system, are now looking to add controllable pieces, as is their wont - no rentals need apply.

Notes:
  • Jung Ho Kang, who's been out with a wrist injury for the past month, is expected to begin rehab this weekend.
  • The Mariners traded two minor leaguers to the Twins for Zach Duke. Even at 35 and with 2016 TJ surgery, the Zachster is still hangin' in there as a LOOGY.

7/30 Through the 50s: Jeems Umps; Manager-Go-Round; Duel; Double-Dipping; Game Stories

  • 1886 - Enjoying an off day between games against the Metropolitans in New York, Allegheny pitcher Gentleman Jim Galvin decided to take in the NY Giants-St. Louis match at the Polo Grounds, and ended up with the best seat in the house. Still steaming over some verbal blasts unleashed during the prior day’s game, ump John Gaffney demanded a pre-game apology from the Giants. With none forthcoming, he stormed of the grounds, and Pud was pulled from the stands to ump. He must have done OK; the Giants edged the Maroons 2-1 and he escaped in one piece. 
Galvin went from the hill to behind the dish - 1989 HoF sticker 
  • 1891 - The Pirates got off to a 31–47 start following a disastrous 23–113 season, demoted captain/manager Ned Hanlon (who had left the team in 1890 for the Pittsburgh Burghers of the upstart Players' League before returning to the club after that league folded) and hired Bill McGunnigle as skipper. McGunnigle managed the club to a modest 24–33 record over the remainder of the year. He was replaced by Tom Burns, who didn’t make it through the 1892 season before losing his job to Al Buckenberger. 
  • 1904 - Baseball had some pretty rowdy roots. Per BR Bullpen: “Cardinals pitcher Jack Taylor walked seven and tossed three wild pitches to help the Pirates beat St. Louis, 5-2 at Exposition Park. The outcome was viewed suspiciously because several local gamblers had bet heavily on Pittsburgh before the game, but the real reason was Taylor and teammate Jake Beckley's late-night public drinking.” Pittsburgh Press writer Ralph Davis did note dryly that “Taylor was not hit hard, but he was inclined to be wild.” Bucco hurler Roscoe Miller’s five-hitter may have played a role, too. It was the opener of a twin bill; the Pirates also took the nitecap behind Sam Leever 2-1. “Old Sam” even chipped in with a pair of hits, outdone only by Tommy Leach’s three knocks. 
  • 1909 - The Bucs ended NY Giant’s Christy Mathewson’s 13-game winning streak by a 3-1 score at Forbes Field. Tommy Leach doubled in Fred Clarke & Alan Storke, and Wee Tommy in turn was chased home by Dots Miller in the first. That’s all the support Vic Willis would need, scattering nine hits for the complete game win. 
  • 1922 - Max Carey went deep twice as the Pirates beat the Giants 7-0 at the Polo Grounds. Carey hit a two-run shot in the seventh inning and then connected for another two-run blast as part of Pittsburgh’s 13-hit attack. Johnny Morrison went the distance for the Pirates, allowing seven hits in the shutout. 
Max Carey 1922 (photo Associated Press)
  • 1937 - The Pirates snapped a 15-inning scoring drought in the bottom of the ninth to take a 1-0 walk-off victory from the Boston Bees at Forbes Field. Ed Brandt of the Bucs and Hub City’s Guy Bush hooked up in a classic duel when an Al Todd hustle double opened the final frame. Johnny Dickshot ran for him, and an intentional walk and a sac bunt that was beat out loaded the bases. After a pop out, pitcher Red Lucas hit for Brandt and lifted a fly to right that scored Dickshot without a throw (Pittsburgh Press beat writer Claire Burcky wrote that “...(RF Gene) Moore just stuck the ball in his tobacco pocket and jogged off through the clubhouse tunnel.”). Bush scattered seven hits while Brandt gave up just two raps, both doubles to Ray Mueller, who was the only Bee to get past first base. 
  • 1948 - Pittsburgh unleashed a four homer barrage against Brooklyn to take a 10-5 win at Ebbets Field. Wally Westlake hit for the cycle, while Max West, Monty Basgall and Clyde Kluttz went deep to chase Dodger workhorse Ralph Branca. Bob Chesnes went the distance to claim the win. 
  • 1956 - Sports Illustrated wrote that “Bing Crosby, one of the 11-man syndicate that made the winning $5,500,000 bid for the Detroit Tigers, is also 16% owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates. When baseball Commissioner Ford Frick ruled that Crosby could own an interest in only one club at a time, the Groaner said he would keep the Pirates.”

7/30 From the 60s Forward: Sweeps; Walk-Turned-DP; Streaks; '62 ASG; Game Stories

  • 1962 - In the second All-Star game of the year, this one played at Wrigley Field, the AL bashed the NL 9-4. Dick Groat went 2-for-3 and was HBP while driving home two runs. Roberto Clemente went 0-for-2 and Bill Mazeroski 0-for-1. President John Fitzgerald Kennedy tossed out the first pitch. 
Roberto Clemente 1968 Topps 3-D
  • 1968 - The Bucs swept the Milwaukee Braves 8-5 and 5-4 at Forbes Field. In the opener, Donn Clendenon’s error led to three unearned Bravo runs, but the battery (and 8-9 hitters) of the Bucs, Milt May and Steve Blass, drove in a combined five runs to overcome the boot. There was a memorable bit of glovework to help make up when Roberto Clemente robbed Mike Lum. Les Biederman of the Pittsburgh Press wrote “Clemente took off in pursuit and ran as hard and as fast as he could. Just as he approached the wall, Clemente reached up and caught the ball, still with his back to the diamond. He crashed into the wall...and was stunned for a second but held the ball." The Great One didn’t start the evening match, but did rally and came on in the eighth inning. The second game went 10 innings before Manny Mota’s roller scored Matty Alou from third. Maury Wills and Clendenon each went 4-for-5 to help Ronnie Kline, who tossed 4-⅓ innings of shutout relief, to the victory. 
  • 1975 - The Pirates had to delay the start of the game at TRS by 18 minutes to let the Ladies’ Day promotion crowd of 43,260 get to their seats. It was worth the wait as the Bucs pounced on the Phils’ Steve Carlton on the way to an 8-1 win. Jerry Reuss went the distance, as Manny Sanguillen had a big day, going 5-for-5 with a homer. Al Oliver (HR, 2B), Willie Stargell (2B) and Dave Parker (2B) each had two-hit days. There were 21 hits banged out between the clubs, but the game still took just 2:25 to play. 
  • 2002 - Pittsburgh snapped a six game losing streak with a 4-1 win over the Colorado Rockies at PNC Park. The Bucs broke open a pitching duel between Kris Benson and the Rox’s Denny Neagle in the eighth, scoring three times with two outs. The rally was keyed by Adam Hyzdu’s two-run double. Mike Williams earned the save of Benson’s win. 
Adam Hyzdu 2002 Fleer Tradition
  • 2006 - Pittsburgh concluded a five game winning streak by taking a 2-1, 10-inning victory from the SF Giants at PNC Park. Jose Castillo’s leadoff homer in the ninth forced the game into extras, and Jose Hernandez’s single in the 10th scored Jack Wilson with the tie breaker. Both starters, Zach Duke and Matt Morris, put up zeroes but were gone before the seventh was done, and it took 11 more pitchers to finish up what they had begun. 
  • 2013 - The Pirates swept a doubleheader from the Cards by 2-1 and 6-0 scores at PNC Park to vault over them into first place in the NL Central. The opener went 11 innings, with the winning run scoring after Alex Presley’s apparent DP ball deflected off pitcher Kevin Siegrist’s glove and into left field to plate Russ Martin. Vin Mazzaro got the win. The key blow in the nitecap was Andrew McCutchen’s two-run homer that bounced off Matt Holliday’s glove and into the second row of seats in left. Rookie Brandon Cumpton went seven frames for the win, tossing three-hit ball. C Tony Sanchez took his MLB bow behind the dish and became one of seven Pirates to call a shutout in his first game; the last was Jason Kendall in 1996. 
  • 2014 - The San Francisco Giants broke a six game losing streak largely thanks to a DP via a walk. The Pirates, who had won three in a row, led 5-4 in the sixth when Chris Stewart drew a one-out walk with runners on second and third. Giant hurler Jean Machi got the ball back from the catcher and noticed Travis Snider had wandered off second base, apparently thinking it was a bases-loaded walk (he later admitted that was the case). Machi picked him off, and Gaby Sanchez, who was at third, was caught in the backwash and picked off, too. The Bucs went on to lose 7-5 at AT&T Park, wasting long balls by Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer. 
Cutch 2017 Topps Bunt
  • 2017 - The Pirates were in a four-game losing streak that had dropped them from 2-½ to 5-½ games off the NL Central lead when a pair of the Bucs big dogs, Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole, got off the leash. Cutch was up five times; he homered three of them and walked the other two while Cole Train tossed seven innings of one-run ball with eight whiffs as the Pirates took a much-needed 7-1 win from the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. They were helped along by Josh Bell who banged a pinch-hit dinger and Jose Osuna who drilled a two-run triple.

7/30 Deadline Deals: Shark-Felipe; Schmidt-Vogey; Benson-Joey Bats; Wilson-Chris; Gorzo-J-Hay; & More

  • 2000 - The Bucs got SS Jack Wilson from the Cards in exchange for LHP Jason Christiansen. Wilson was the starter at short when healthy from 2001 until he was traded in 2009, and won a Gold Glove and All-Star berth in 2004. Jason tossed through the 2005 season but only had one strong year in that span. 
Jack Wilson 2001 Donruss Rookie Phenoms
  • 2001 - The Bucs sent RHP Jason Schmidt and OF John Vander Wal to the Giants for OF Armando Rios and RHP Ryan Vogelsong. Schmidt went 7-1 the rest of the year for SF and then signed a big four-year contract. Vander Wal wason four teams in the following four years, retiring in 2004. Vogelsong underwent Tommy John surgery two months later. When he returned, he went 10-17/5.82 over four years and then left for Japan. 
  • 2004 - The Pirates traded RHP Kris Benson and IF Jeff Keppinger to the Mets for 3B Jose Bautista (who they had lost in the 2003 Rule 5 draft), IF Ty Wiggington and RHP Matt Peterson. Bautista became the tenth major leaguer to play for four teams in a season, having been on the rosters of Baltimore, Tampa Bay and Kansas City. In fact, he was actually on five teams, as he was acquired by the Mets from the Royals but sent to Pittsburgh the same day. Benson, the other key player in the deal, won just 27 more games in his career. 
  • 2009 - The Pirates shipped lefties Tom Gorzelanny and John Grabow to the Cubs in exchange for IF Josh Harrison and RHPs Kevin Hart and Jose Ascanio. Gorzo became a bullpen guy for several clubs, Grabow’s last season was 2011, Hart & Acasio succumbed to injuries and J-Hay ended up the keeper of the deal. For the Pirates, it was the end of a 10-day purge. Besides Gorzo and Grabow, they had earlier dealt away Freddy Sanchez, Jack Wilson, Ian Snell and Adam LaRoche; Harrison and Ronny Cedeno were the only prospects netted from those three deals to become starting players for Pittsburgh. 
John Grabow 2009 O-Pee-Chee
  • 2011 - The Pirates traded minor league 1B Aaron Baker to the Orioles for 1B Derrek Lee, the first time that Pittsburgh was a buyer at the trade deadline since dealing for SS Shawon Dunston in 1997 to bolster the “Freak Show” lineup. Baker never made it past the AA level while Lee hit .337 with seven long balls for the Pirates in 28 games (he missed a month with a wrist injury) as Lyle Overbay’s replacement before retiring at the end of the year at age 35. 
  • 2012 - In a trade of 2006 first rounders, Pittsburgh sent RHP Brad Lincoln to Toronto for OF Travis Snider. The change of scenery didn’t help much - Lincoln’s MLB career ended after the 2014 season and Travis has bounced around between AAA and the show since. 
  • 2015 - Keep the phone charged: The Pirates acquired veteran RHP Joe Blanton, 34, from the Royals for cash after he had been DFA’ed. Blanton went 5-0/1.57 for the Pirates during the dog days. RHP Vance Worley was released to make room for him. In a bigger deal, RHP Joakim Soria was picked up by the Pirates from the Tigers for Altoona SS prospect JaCoby Jones. The Detroit closer, slotted to work the back end of the bullpen behind Mark Melancon and Tony Watson, had 29 Bucco appearances with a 2.03 ERA, one save and 11 holds. Finally, IF Justin Sellers, who had been DFA’ed, was sent to the Chicago White Sox for cash. 
Joakim Soria 2015 Topps Update
  • 2016 - The Pirates sent closer Mark Melancon and $500K to the Washington Nationals for a pair of hard throwing lefties (both touched 100), reliever Felipe Rivero and prospect Taylor Hearns. The Shark was a bullpen backender that came over in the Joel Hanrahan deal with Boston. In four years w/Pirates, he went 10-10-174/1.80. Rivero is on his way to becoming one of the league’s elite back-end relievers after taking over the closers’ job in 2017 from Tony Watson. Hearn was a 21-year-old lanky southpaw with an upper 90s heater and control issues. He was already on the Bucco radar; he was the Pirates 22nd-round pick in 2012, but didn’t sign and went to Oklahoma Baptist. As for Melancon, he turned into a pure and costly Nat rental, signing with the Giants after the campaign.

7/30 Birthdays: HBD Clint, Johnny, Casey, Josh, Bill H, Hal, Chuck & Bill M

  • 1870 - C/1B Bill Merritt was born in Lowell, Massachusetts. The reserve played for the Pirates from 1894-97, with a brief stop in Cincinnati (Pittsburgh was one of Bill’s six MLB outposts). He hit .280 with the Bucs. 
Casey Stengel 1918 (photo via RMY Auctions)
  • 1890 - OF Casey Stengel was born in Kansas City, Missouri. The Ol’ Perfesser spent 1918-19 as a Pirate, with a .280 BA, and performed his famous “bird in the hat” stunt as a Bucco. He’s much more associated with New York, of course, than Pittsburgh. Between playing and managing, the Hall-of-Famer is the only person to have worn the uniforms of all four of New York's major league clubs - the Dodgers, Giants, Yankees and Mets. 
  • 1894 - IF Chuck Ward was born in St. Louis, Missouri. He started his six-year MLB career with the Pirates, playing 125 games and hitting 236 in 1917. The next five campaigns were spent with the Brooklyn Robins, where he became a deep bench player, batting 100 times in just one season. Ward started pro ball in 1912 as a 17-year-old at Falls City and retired after the 1924 campaign spent with Toledo. He later managed the Rutgers nine for a dozen years. 
  • 1905 - C Hal Finney was born in Lafayette, Alabama. He was a reserve that played for the Bucs from 1931-34 & 1936. He spent his MLB career in Pittsburgh, finishing with a .203 BA. Finney came by that BA honestly - he held the record for non-pitchers for most at bats in a season without a hit from 1936, when he went 0-for-35, until 2011. His OBP was .000 as well, a futility mark that stood until 2008. 
  • 1912 - OF Johnny Rizzo was born in Houston. He burst on the scene in 1938, hitting .301 with 23 HR and 111 RBI as a rookie; his HR mark for a first year Pirate stood until Jason Bay bettered it in 2006. Rizzo drove in nine runs against the Cardinals in 1939, and that’s still the team’s single-game record. He cooled off after that red hot start, and early in 1940 was traded for Vince DiMaggio after putting up a line of .283 with 29 HR and 168 RBI while in Pittsburgh. Johnny joined the Navy in 1943 and played minor league ball upon his discharge, then worked in the sporting goods business. 
Johnny Rizzo 1938-39 (photo The Sporting News)
  • 1928 - C Bill Hall was born in Moultrie, Georgia. Hall signed as an amateur free agent with the Pirates in 1947 season. He got cups of coffee in 1954 and ‘56, then a longer look in 1958. In the three campaigns, he hit .262 in 57 games. Bill retired to his Georgia farm after the 1960 season. 
  • 1957 - Clint Hurdle was born in Big Rapids, Michigan. After a 10-year stint as a player and then manager of the Colorado Rockies from 2002–2009 with a World Series appearance, Hurdle took over the Pirate reins in 2011, replacing John Russell. He broke the Pirate 20-year losing season streak in 2013 when he guided the club to 94 wins and the playoffs, with two more wild card postseason appearances in 2014-15. 
  • 1978 - IF Josh Bonifay was born in Macon, Georgia. The son of Bucco GM Cam Bonifay, the Pirates drafted Josh in 1999. He had a long and successful minor league career, mainly at Altoona. He hung up the spikes after the 2007 season and became a coach in the Pirates system. In 2011, he moved to the Houston organization and now is with Texas.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Wheeler Does It All In Series-Splitting 1-0 Win Against the Pirates

It was a clean first for J-Grove. Gregory singled with two gone against Zack Wheeler, then swiped second before Red Beard walked, but a fly left them on ice. After a couple of well-struck outs in the second, Austin Jackson drew a nine pitch walk; his eye just ran up the pitch count. S-Rod singled for the Bucs; the rest of the side struck out. The Mets were quiet in the third; Gregory singled with two gone for the Pirates to no avail. A bopped batter moved to second on a grounder in the fourth with two away, and a liner to Starling kept him planted there. Freeser opened with a rap, followed by a pop and two whiffs; Wheeler has been dealing so far. NY opened the fifth with an infield single; a 4-6-3 DP erased that runner (not often do you have a Fraze-to-S-Rod-to-Freeser twin killing) but another infield knock and Wheeler double into the RF corner (he holds his own with the lumber for a twirler w/.229 BA) put the Mets up 1-0. He celebrated by spinning an eight-pitch frame. J-Grove answered with an eight-pitch inning of his own in the sixth.

Strong outing but no cigar (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Gregory opened with his third hit, a single to center. He stole second after a pair of fly outs and was stranded again. New York banged back-to-back one-out singles in the seventh and a grounder moved them up. Michael Conforto was intentionally walked and a grounder closed it out. Seth Lugo claimed the hill and worked a 1-2-3 frame. Ric Rod took the ball in the eighth - Musgrove had a great outing, giving up a run on five hits - and gave up an opening walk and caught Joey Bats with a pitch an out later; free runners in a 1-0 game, SMH! Then he hit another Met to load 'em up w/o a hit. Rodriguez straightened out to get a pair of pops to keep it close. With an out, Starling singled and was caught stealing by a gnat's eyelash, but review upheld it and Gregory K'ed. Felipe Vazquez entered for the ninth and gave up a one-out walk; it's a tight strike zone today called by Dan Bellino. But not that tight as DJ Nightmare fanned the next pair. Anthony Swarzak got the ball and struck out a pair around a liner to put the Pirates to bed.

Well, kinda got to expect it with the Pirates lineup missing two everyday guys for the next few days. Now that they're being given a chance, the bench/Indy guys have to step up. They've got the window to showcase; now it's on them and the remaining regular crew to produce.

Notes:
  • Gregory had three hits; the Bucs only had six on the day.
  • Today's crowd was 23,749.
  • In his radio show, NH said “We’d love to add (but) we really like this core...(we'll) see what makes sense. We’re engaged in conversations on multiple players." He's in a tough spot, and the closer to the deadline, the dearer the acquisition costs are. Huntington added that he doesn't expect to be a seller this year.
  • The latest rumor to hit the fan is that the Bucs are working on a deal involving the Oriole's Kevin Gausman and Brad Brach (first reported by Jason Rollison); that doesn't strike us at first blush as much of an upgrade, especially as Brach is a rental. He's popular, though; the Cubs and Braves are also reportedly on him.
  • Pirates fans stepped up big again for Pirates Charities night; the team raised $700K for its  Miracle League program

Pirates Look to Take Series, J-Grove v Wheeler, Lineup & Notes

Today: The Sunday getaway game starts at 1:35 and will be carried by AT&T SportsNet & 93.7 The Fan. The kids get a Hulk bobblehead (no, don't think he signed) and can start out the day in the Kids Zone & finish by running the bases.

Pitchers: RHP Joe Musgrove (4-4, 3.90) closes it out v RHP Zack Wheeler (4-6, 4.33). J-Grove cruised in his last outing and in his last four games has gone at least seven innings three times, with two or fewer runs yielded three times. This will be his first go at the Mets. Wheeler is on a bit of a roll, too - over his last five trips to the bump, he is 2-0/3.03 with 30 strikeouts in 32-2/3 innings, making him potential deadline trade bait. The Bucs kicked off his strong run in late June when he spun seven scoreless frames against them, giving up five hits and K'ing seven.

J-Grove looks to take the series from the Mets (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Lineup: Adam Frazier 2B, Starling Marte CF, Gregory Polanco RF, Colin Moran 3B, David Freese 1B, Elias Diaz C, Austin Meadows LF, S-Rod SS & Musgrove P. Dunno about the S-Rod love, but solid enough lineup for who's available on this Sunday. J-Hay's been down a couple of days; wonder if his hand is bothering him or his play is bothering Clint.

Notes:
  • With Cervy & Starling back in the saddle and Corey D & J-Bell on the DL, replaced by Austin Meadows and Jose Osuna, Clint will finally have a 25-man roster to work with again.
  • Bucco sports medicine director Todd Tomczyk said the Pirates are "optimistic" that Josh Bell (oblique) and Corey Dickerson (hammy) won't be lost beyond the 10-day DL because of their injuries.
  • The Pirates staff leads the majors with 12 shutouts, already matching their 2017 total. Trevor Williams has a 17-inning scoreless string and in his last three starts has defeated Gio Gonzalez, Cory Kluber and Jacob deGrom.
  • Musical chairs: The Pirates have used 11 different starters in the leadoff spot this season, matching the most in one season for the club since 1900 (the 1956 squad also had 11 guys leadoff).
  • The Pirates are off tomorrow and then the Cubs roll in for a quick two-game set.
  • It's HoF Induction Day for Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome & Trevor Hoffman (elected by the Baseball Writers' Association of America) with Jack Morris & Alan Trammell (elected by the Hall's Modern Era Committee).

7/29 Through the 50s: Hans Granny; Ed Comes Undone; Game Stories; RIP Harry; HBD Dave & George

  • 1886 - 2B George Cutshaw was born in Wilmington, Illinois. He came to the Bucs in exchange for Burleigh Grimes and manned second base for four seasons (1918-21). Cutty hit .275 as a Pirate. His best year was his last, when he hit .340. But he was injured in August, and the 35-year-old was sold to Detroit, where he spent the last two years of his career. 
Ed Doheny (image via the Vermont Historical Society)
  • 1903 - P Ed Doheny, it was announced in the Pittsburgh Press, “..had left the team under a mental hallucination (he believed detectives were tailing him) and returned home.” His mental state had slowly unraveled as the season went on, and owner Barney Dreyfuss told the paper “If it is true that Doheny is mentally deranged, I am certainly sorry to hear of it. (Manager) Fred Clarke told me that there was something wrong with the pitcher before the team started West, but I laughed at him. Now it seems that Fred was right.” Ed was wrestling with real demons. After rest at home, he returned to the Pirates briefly and in September was escorted home by his brother. After some violent episodes there, he was declared insane and sent to the Danvers State Asylum, where he died in 1906. 
  • 1909 - Harry Pulliam committed suicide in New York City. A writer in Louisville, he joined Barney Dreyfuss in Pittsburgh as the team president, akin to today’s general manager title. In 1903, he was elected president of the NL. He made the ruling to support umpire Hank O’Day’s call in the famous “Merkle” misadventure, which eventually cost the Giants the championship in a playoff against the Cubs. He took several months off after that after having a nervous breakdown; the following year, he took his life, often blamed on depression caused by the pressures of the president’s office. 
  • 1915 - Honus Wagner hit a grand slam in the eighth inning off Brooklyn Dodger Ed Pfeffer (It was “a dandy drive” per the Pittsburgh Press) during the Pirates 8-2 victory at Forbes Field. The inside-the-park round tripper made the 41-year old infielder the second oldest player ever to hit a homer with the bases juiced, a record set by 42-year old Cap Anson in 1894. (Cap's mark stood until 1985 when 44-year-old Tony Perez of the Reds claimed it.) Erving Kantlehner scattered nine hits while going the distance for the win, helped by an unassisted DP when RF Bill Hinchman snared a short line drive and raced to first base to double off Pfeffer. 
Hans 1914 Helmar Oasis
  • 1922 - Max Carey (2), Reb Russell, Cotton Tierney and pitcher Wilbur Cooper all homered at the Polo Grounds as the Pirates whipped the league-leading NY Giants, 8-3. Cooper went the distance for the win. Charlie Grimm had four hits while Carey & Russell banged out three knocks. It was a sweet victory over their rivals, but in the long run the G-Men took the flag with the Pirates finishing in third place, eight games behind. 
  • 1940 - The Bucs scored six times in their final at-bat, with the lead run thrown out at the plate as Frank Gustine tried to score from first on Vince DiMaggio’s single. It was a big play; the Dodgers pushed across a two-out run in the bottom half as the Pirates went down 7-6 at Ebbets Field. The game was marked by a ninth inning brawl started when Brooklyn C Babe Phelps spiked P Mace Brown at a play at first. Manager Frankie Frisch was fined $100 and ejected while three of his players were hit with $25 fines. 
  • 1947 - Frank Gustine went 4-for-5 against the Boston Braves to lead Pittsburgh to a 6-5 win at Forbes Field. It ran his hitting streak to 21 games before it was snapped the next day. Tiny Bonham went the distance for the win. 
Dave Lapoint 1989 Upper Deck
  • 1959 - LHP Dave LaPoint was born in Glen Falls, New York. the 12-year veteran spent part of 1988 with the Pirates, coming over from the Chicago White Sox in August for Barry Jones. He got eight starts for the Bucs, slashed 4-2/2.77 and signed with Yankees in the off-season, almost doubling his salary from $425 K to $800K. He’s bounced around several baseball-themed activities since his retirement after the 1991 campaign, coaching minor & indie league ball, hosting a talk show and running academies. Dave now describes himself on twitter as a “Former MLB Pitcher with a face made for radio and a body made for bowling”

7/29 From the 60s Forward: Freddy, Jack, Ian Traded; Game Stories; RIP Bill; HBD Mike & Tommy

  • 1963 - OF Tommy Gregg was born in Boone, North Carolina. A seventh-round pick of the Pirates in the 1985 draft from Wake Forest, Gregg spent the first two years of his nine-season career with the Buccos in 1987-88. He hit .217 in limited time before being shipped to the Atlanta Braves as part of the Ken Oberkfell deal.Tommy spent several seasons as a bench player for the Bravos, and is now part of their minor-league coaching staff. 
Tommy Gregg 1988 FleerUpdate
  • 1968 - Henry Aaron was caught red-faced thanks to some smoke and mirrors by the Buccos. On a hit-and-run, Gene Alley and Bill Mazeroski decoyed Hammerin’ Hank into believing Joe Torre had hit a grounder between them; the reality was he had lifted a fly to Roberto Clemente in right. When Aaron stopped at second to try to find the ball, it was too late; it was already on its way to first for the DP. It wasn’t one of his better days on the bases as he was also picked off first base in the Pirates 3-2 win at Forbes Field. Beside his Emmy performance, Maz also homered to help Bob Veale to the win.
  • 1968 - RHP Mike Williams was born in Radford, Virginia. In six seasons (1998-2003), he went 15-23 and saved 140 games for Pittsburgh with a 3.78 ERA. His mark of 46 saves in 2002 is still a team standard, but fame is fleeting - his 12-year baseball career closed after the 2003 season following a trade to Philadelphia. 
  • 1971 - Gene Clines was the hero of the Bucs 8-5 win over Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium. His three-run homer was the big blow in a six-run sixth inning, and the CF went 4-for-4 with four RBI and a pair of runs. Bob Robertson and Willie Stargell also went yard in the win that was cemented by 5-2/3 scoreless frames tossed by the bullpen. 
  • 2000 - Brian Giles went 5-for-5 with a pair of doubles while Warren Morris and Emil Brown homered as the Bucs ran up a 10-2 count against the San Diego Padres at TRS. Francisco Cordova got the win as three Buc pitchers scattered six hits in front of a Saturday night crowd of 30,118. 
Bill Robinson 1976 SSPC
  • 2007 - Bucco outfielder Bill Robinson passed away in Las Vegas. The local boy (he was from McKeesport and went to Elizabeth-Forward HS) spent eight years as a Pirate from 1975-82, hitting .276 with 109 homers. He played five positions as a Pirate (1B/3B, all three OF spots) and while a regular for only one year, he got into 100+ games six times in his eight seasons here. 
  • 2009 - 2B Freddy Sanchez was traded to the San Francisco Giants for RHP Tim Alderson. The Bucs also traded RHP Ian Snell and SS Jack Wilson to the Mariners for RHP Aaron Pribanic, RHP Brett Lorin, 1B Nathan Adcock, SS Ronny Cedeno and 1B Jeff Clement. Snell was out of baseball by 2010 while Freddy & Jack were snake-bitten by injury. For the Bucs, the only contributor was Cedeno, and he wore out his welcome after 2011. 
  • 2014 - The Pirates beat the San Francisco Giants 3-1 at AT&T Park behind Francisco Liriano’s 11 whiffs and homers by Travis Snider and Josh Harrison. After an April-May slump that saw them fall nine games behind in the NL Central race and eight games below .500, the Bucs pulled within a game of first and even in the loss column plus while moving into the second wild card spot.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Bucs Crack deGrom, Mets Late to Take 5-0 Victory; Dickerson to DL, Meadows Back Up

Willy tossed a 1-2-3 first; Jacob deGrom gave up a leadoff knock to Fraze and then fanned two of the next three Buccos. Both sides went quietly in the second. The Mets got a knock and a walk to open the third, but helped by poor bunt, Trevor stranded the pair. Fraze singled with two gone and was left aboard. Two raps and a walk with one gone set up shop for NY in the fourth, but a 6-4-3 DP doused the fire. Gregory opened with a double and moved up on a grounder but was cut down at home on Joey O's bouncer; looked like the ol' contact play backfired again. Willy kept dodging the Met slings and arrows, leaving another pair on the bases in the fifth. There was nada from the Buccos in their half. The Metropolitans got a two-gone single for their sixth inning troubles. The Bucs sprinkled a little two-out fairy dust around the batter's box in their half; Gregory singled, stole second and scored on Red Beard's grounder through the right side.

No back down from Willy tonight in his match up with deGrom (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

After six hard-fought zeros and 97 pitches, Willy handed the ball off to Edgar Santana in the seventh. After an out, deGrom (.111 BA) singled for his second hit of the day. A force & a steal put Amed Rosario at second and a K kept him there. J-Low opened with a rap and another by Jordy with an out put Corsairs on the corners. Freeser grabbed a bat and his gentle tap to short got the insurance marker home. Fraze followed with his third hit, a double, to make it 3-0 before Starling's liner to right was gloved. Kyle Crick got the call in the eighth and struck out the side. Robert Gsellman toed the slab and the dynamic duo of Polanco and Moran struck again with a double/single combo that produced another run. Luplow hit into a force, stole second, and scored on Amore's knock. Jordy walked before the party ended. Ric Rod started the ninth and a couple of whiffs and a fly later, finished it. RTJR.

With all the injuries, maybe the Pirates are showing that they have a little more depth than they're credited with; they're certainly not hanging their heads because of the DL list. We'll get a little better read on how strong the cavalry is when the Mets leave town and the Cubs & Cards visit. But it sure has been a fun ride in the past three weeks.

Fraze is back in the swing of things (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)
Notes: 
  • Fraze and Gregory each had three hits; Red beard added two more. Maybe it's the Primanti sandwiches, but Frazier has been raking in his four games since being called up, going 6-for-11 with four doubles, a run scored, two RBI and two whiffs.
  • Willy has tossed 17 straight scoreless innings. His ERA has gone from 4.60 before the streak to 3.89 after tonight. 
  • Just before game time, the Pirates placed Corey Dickerson on the 10-day DL, retro to July 25th, with a strained left hamstring and recalled Austin Meadows.
  • The Bucs drew their biggest crowd of the season at PNC Park with 35,900 packing the house.
  • Per Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, the Bucs are interested in the Orioles RHP Brad Brach, a 32-year-old rental, with a slash of 1-2-11/4.85 (4.01 FIP). He was an All-Star in 2016 and has been pretty effective in his career until this year as a ground-ball guy with some swing and miss stuff.
  • Per Joe Block, the Pirates have won 15-of-18 for the first time since 1990.

Pittsburgh-NY Round Three, Willy v deGrom, Lineup & Notes: Bell on DL,Osuna Up

Sorry we're late; the Bucs had some last minute injury decisions to make today.

Today: The game starts at 7:05 and will be on AT&T SportsNet & 93.7 The Fan. There will be an Italian block party before the game and Zambelli fireworks afterward, bella vita! It's also Pirates Charities Night with the stuffed-full-of-Bucco-goodies backpacks up for bid; you can participate at the yard or through AT&T SportsNet which will highlight the funder.

Pitchers: RHP Trevor Williams (8-7, 4.11) tackles RHP Jacob deGrom (5-5, 1.71). Willy's put a couple of nice outings together back-to-back; he better remain on his A-Game tonight against the league's ERA leader. Williams does enter the contest with an 11-inning scoreless streak. He hasn't faced the Mets since last year, when he beat them while tossing seven innings of one-run, seven-hit ball. Don't let deGrom's record fool ya - he's gone 14 starts giving up two or fewer runs, while spinning a goose egg six times and would easily win a non-support case against his teammates. He's gone seven or eight frames 10 times in his last 12 outings, so he's not particularly a guy to wait out, either. This will be his first outing against the Bucs this year; last season, he beat the Pirates by holding them to a run on six hits with 10 whiffs in 8-1/3 frames.

Willy has a tall order against deGrom tonight (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)

Lineup: Adam Frazier 2B, Starling Marte CF, Gregory Polanco RF, Colin Moran 3B, Jose Osuna 1B, Jordan Luplow LF, Fran Cervelli C, Jordy SS & Williams P. Still a pretty depleted squad, but at least Starlings back in action. Sorta surprised than Freeser's hot bat was benched; thought he'd be penciled in at first tonight. deGrom does have a L/R split  - righties hit .177 against him, lefties .221 FWIW.

Notes:
  • J-Bell was placed on the DL with an oblique strain; Jose Osuna was recalled to replace him. Corey D went through warmups and took BP; his availability is TBD.
  • David Freese is the first Pirate with five or more RBIs, five times on base (via walk, hit, or HBP), and a walk off RBI in the same game since 1920 (the first year RBIs became an official stat), per @EliasSports.
  • The Tigers claimed LHP Josh Smoker and optioned him to AAA Toledo.
  • The Brew Crew has made another move: They got 3B Mike Moustakas from KC for OF Brett Phillips and RHP Jorge Lopez, both who have been on the big team. They're planning to move Travis Shaw to 2B, ala Neil Walker, to get both bats in the lineup. 
  • Meanwhile, the Cubs picked up LHP Cole Hamels and cash from the Texas Rangers for two minor league pitchers and a PTBNL. Hamels numbers aren't very hot this year, but he has a sizeable home/away split, so Chicago is betting that getting him away from the hitter-friendly Globe Life Park in Arlington will rejuvenate him, and Hamel does have a dazzling ERA at Wrigley in a handful of career outings.