Mac shows his intention to get the most of his bullpen by bringing in left-handed Thing #1 to face Ben Grieve in the seventh. He'll empty the bench trying to win this one tonight.
...biggest win of the year. Big, big win. Good work, men.
Mac shows his intention to get the most of his bullpen by bringing in left-handed Thing #1 to face Ben Grieve in the seventh. He'll empty the bench trying to win this one tonight.
...biggest win of the year. Big, big win. Good work, men.
Someone put the fear of Fogg into Danny Sheridan who now has the Bucs as 3:2 favorites tonight. Same pitching matchup. Either way, I think this Bucs team is about to go off on some fools this week or next.
Opportunity of the day appears to the Blue Jays at Boston as 13:5 underdogs. What's up with 13:5? This is major league baseball. That's an over/under of 117 wins in a season of Jays at Red Sox. Is it Terry Adams starting in a pinch against Pedro? I don't know much or care to know much about the AL, but that number strikes me as something like an NFL team being 28-point underdogs.
Watched some Baseball Tonight last night. In case you missed it, this is what they reported:
A-Rod A-Rod A-Rod painful cliche A-Rod A-Rod A-Rod affected exuberance A-Rod A-Rod commercial break A-Rod A-Rod A-Rod commercial break A-Rod Los Angeles A-Rod A-Rod A-Rod commercial break Angels A-Rod A-Rod commercial break A-Rod terribly painful cliche A-Rod commercial break A-Rod A-Rod this guy hit a home run commercial break A-Rod A-Rod A-Rod another home run commercial break A-Rod A-Rod A-Rod more painfully affected exuberance A-Rod A-Rod commercial break A-Rod A-Rod commercial break A-Rod commercial break A-Rod A-Rod A-Rod commercial break A-Rod more grown men humiliating themselves through affected exuberance commercial break A-Rod A-Rod commercial break A-Rod A-Rod commercial break A-Rod A-RodI would improve the show by doing two things. First, devote 3/4 of the screen to abbreviated box scores and snapshots of the current standings. Second, have the children in suits make balloon animals. They can honk a bicycle horn when they feel like talking. Together, those two changes would make Baseball Tonight a much more enjoyable show.
Yeast's Yost's Brewers come to town. The matchups are interesting. Tonight it's Ben Sheets against Josh Fogg. Obviously we have the better of that one so I'm scratching my head about the 13:10 line favoring Ben "Not a Strikeout Pitcher" Sheets. That translates into a projected 92-70 record for a full season of "Three" Sheets vs. Fogg at PNC. Tempting.
Tomorrow, Wes Obermueller vs. Kip Wells and Sunday, Doug Davis vs. Kris Benson.
Should be fun. Hope to see you at the park.
Kendall booers, put this in your pipe and smoke it.
They are in the Pirates-doubting business, so forgive the saucy cynicism in the write-up of Kendall's contribution below the rankings. When you are currying favor with a national market, you have to beat up on one or two teams. Otherwise you'll be exposed as used car salesmen and your cheerleading gets suspicious.
As a Pirates fan, something about this end of Bob Dvorchak's article pleases me:
A turnout of 11,029 that was booing lustily in the first inning stood and cheered for Mesa and the Pirates for the happy ending of what could be called the Good News Bears.Hell yeah we'll boo when you embarrass us on the field. We pay attention and we want to win. We'd be a little more patient if we were coming off a 90-win or even an 83-win season. In the meantime the team has to live with our impatience and know that we wouldn't be in the stands if we weren't dying to support a winning team or at least a team that plays like it's going to win tomorrow if not today. No one on the team should take it personally or get their panties in a wad about it. Play the game as well as you can and the everything will fall in line eventually.
McClendon dismissed any notion the Pirates' psyche was battered after falling behind by six runs, especially after an ugly start to the homestand.
"I tend to tighten up the belt buckle and go at it a little harder," McClendon said. "If you start feeling sorry for yourself, you're going to get your [butt] kicked even more."
Get well Jack Wilson. Good thing we have depth up the middle. If Wilson misses time, it will be interesting to see Jose Castillo at short with Bobby Hill at second.
There's a lot of talk about Wilson deserving a spot on the All-Star team. I dunno, he doesn't walk as much as Albert Pujols. What do you think?
All's well that ends well. Bob Smizik is right today when he notes that the Pirates are in good position to take advantage of the opportunity created by Mondesi's departure.
I wouldn't go as far as to criticize Littlefield for signing him in the first place, however. A team can never have too much depth. The Bucs rented Mondesi for a few weeks at a very reasonable cost and he helped the team win some games. There was no harm done by signing him. In hindsight it's easy to say we could have done without him but going into the season we didn't know if Kendall would be here, we didn't know if Craig Wilson would hit well enough to atone for his boneheaded defense, we didn't know if either of the second base options (Hill or Castillo) would sink or swim, we didn't know if Redman could hit enough to play center every day, and we didn't know who would play third base every day. A lot of those situations are unresolved, but some are resolved, and having that additional stability gives the Bucs the chance to platoon and tinker in the other positions. Mondesi brought some stability in a chaotic lineup.
There has to be a balance of veterans and rookies, full-timers and platoons or a "rebuilding" team is going to lose 100 or 120 games. That's not an option: there is no such thing as "losing to win," there is no heroism in losing, and losing only tends to further losing. If someone starts telling you that the Pirates can only win again by doing things with the roster that would cause them to lose 100 or 120 games, laugh in his face until he stops talking because if that's not stupid coward talk it's evil dissembling. No doubt the Cubs-loving national media thinks that losing 120 games today is the best way for the Pirates to win later. And when that debt company calls you and says you can only get rid of your debt by giving them $1000 (and thus going into more debt), double down and give them $2000 so they work twice as hard to restructure your debt.
There are other reasons to be glad Mondesi was with us. When he finally got paid, he spent a bunch of his salary on gifts for our players. So a good portion of his relatively small (by baseball standards) salary actually went to augment the relatively small (by baseball standards) salaries of the other players. That's great. I'll miss his arm too, that's for sure. When you play a bunch of close games, outfield assists are huge and provide an enormous lift for the team and the fans.
That said, I look forward to seeing what Rob Mackowiak and/or Ruben Mateo and/or J.J. Davis can do with some additional PT in the outfield.
Not too many teams play .450 baseball at home. Last year only the Mets, Reds, Brewers, and Padres managed to do this in the NL. The Bucs were 39-42. 4-12 is .250 baseball. Even last year's 119-loss Tigers went 23-58 at home. That's .284 baseball.
The prevailing theory about why the Bucs are 4-12 at this point seems to be this: the Bucs have played good teams. Quid 05 runs it down here. "Playing good teams" is no excuse for going 4-12 at home. Yeah, so what, they played Philadelphia, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, and San Diego. These Pirates are capable of .450-.500 ball against the better teams in the league, especially at home.
The important thing is that the Bucs don't need an excuse to explain the record. All they need to do is admit they played some crappy ball. A lot of the mental and coordination errors will go away as the Bucs settle into a more regular lineup. That's a large part of the experience advantage teams like the Astros have on the Pirates: they have been playing the same people in the same positions for game after game, month after month, and year after year. We still don't know who is the starter at what, two-to-four of the eight defensive positions?
I expect the 4-12 record is just the result of the usual ups and downs being coincidentally timed with coming and going from PNC. At some point they'll rip off a string of home victories, maybe even against better teams, and the home record will better reflect the team's ability to compete. In the meantime let's not indulge in defeatist talk about it being silly to expect the Pirates to play .500 ball against teams like the Padres.
Looking at the numbers for the Sounds this morning, we see that Chris Truby continues to hit. In the preseason we said we'd want to see at least a half-season of AAA rakery before we believed this was a new man. We're hoping it's the case but we're not optimistic. J.R. House continues to paste the ball, too, and so does Luke Allen. Tony Alvarez is making his case for another crack at the Bucs' starting centerfield job. Randall Simon has hit for no power in ten games. I'm beginning to doubt we'll see him again on the big club.
On the pitching side, Mark Corey has been an effective closer. None of the starters look ready to me. Dave Williams and Cory Stewart have some nice numbers but are giving up too many home runs to inspire a lot of confidence.
...what was I thinking. Simon's on a rehab assignment at Nashville and can only stay down there until May 27. Don't ask me what we'll do with him if Ward continues to hit well. It's not like anyone is going to want Simon in trade.
There's some talk, what with the Bucs 4-10 at home this year, about the effect playing at home might have on the players when the crowds aren't so large.
A few PG readers spoke up in Paul Meyer's Q & A about the stupidity of blaming the fans for staying away from the park when the team is going on 12 losing seasons. They are absolutely right. There's nothing worse than shelling out a lot of dough and going to see your boys get humiliated. Every time the Bucs win big or win a squeaker, the fans leave the park wondering how soon they can make it back. It's a beautiful park and the Bucs are going to sell more tickets because of that, but it is winning or losing that determines the overall quality of the experience. Especially here in Pittsburgh.
Meyer talked to the players about playing at home in his article today. It sounds to me like the team on the whole has the right attitude. Keep playing hard at home and the wins will take care of themselves. This team has a lot of talent and they are going to win their share of games so long as they gather experience quickly by scrapping day after day after day.
Interesting quote from Mac on Brian Giles:
"I miss him walking around naked - in a manly way,'' McClendon joked.Apparently walking around naked was one of the "clown acts" Giles was known for in the Pittsburgh clubhouse. You know what they say about guys with big clown feet - they always have a fat, stubby red nose.
Oh geez, how low can we go. I lifted the quote from Steve Novotney's latest which otherwise focusses on the decent guy Mondy was in the short time he was with the team.
According to Baseball America, pure college arms appear to "pan out" better than the most polished college arms and the rawest, best-stuff prep school arms. Articles like this make me wonder about the time frame in which these players contribute. It's naive to think a team like the Pirates can look at the overall picture and draft whatever produces a player with the best career. It's not that the Pirates need the player to succeed or contribute right now, but sooner is much better than later. How do these respective groups fare after two years? After four? After six?
Right now the Bucs could afford to go with a prep arm if they thought he'd be ready in three years the way Kerry Wood was ready in three years. There was no good prep-arm gamble in last year's draft. I'm sorry but Jeff Allison is not what the Bucs need and the Paul Maholm pick was smart.
And what about the relative risk of traumatic injury, traumatic immatuity, or traumatic inability? The Bucs can not afford to take the most high-risk, high-reward prospects the way the Yankees can.
I'm sure DL and staff are light-years ahead of me on this trail of thought, and I don't think of myself as lecturing them or even hoping to influence their opinion. What I would like to see though is a more intelligent or at least more lively debate among well-informed fans as to what the Bucs should do with their #11 pick come June 7. My vote is for left-handed college starter.
Here's what Steve McNair said about defensive lineman Alfred Haynesworth's current holdout: "That is a slap in the face for us. A lot of people, coaches, players think he should be here. We've got 11-year, 12-year veterans here. He is a third-year veteran. Does Albert really want to win? If he really wants to win he'd be here. If I am here, yes, he is disrespecting me not being here."
Substitute Plax's name for Alfred and you have exactly the quote some Steeler should be saying. Plax has lied to Cowher and lied to his teammates, among whom it is clear he has in the four years he has been a Steeler made no real friends.
Also consider that Haynesworth plays on the other side of the ball than McNair, which makes it easier for McNair to call him out. That Heinz and Plax play so closely together makes Heinz's thougtful comments all the more impressive.
Cowher should take Gildon's co-captaincy and bestow it on Heinz. Heinz politicked for it a few years ago, but the tough guys don't like listening to a receiver. But no one currently on this roster is tougher than Heinz, on the field and in the lockerroom. He's Greg Lloyd circa 1995. Compare his comments with the belgian waffles served up by the Bus and Tommy and it's clear who deserves to be captain.
Hey, this is good. John Perrotto argues the Bucs should easily win the Giles trade. Not the smartest thing to publish the day that Giles arrives (couldn't it wait until Friday?), but he's right on. Giles is an expensive and aging corner outfielder. We got or can get them cheap. Bay can play some center, and Oliver Perez is a left-handed power pitcher. Cory Stewart is also a left-handed starter and it looks like we'll be seeing him soon enough, too.
I caught all kinds of abuse for defending this trade and the Aramis Ramirez one. Bobby Hill can still win the Aramis Ramirez deal. People have to remember that the Bucs weren't re-signing Aramis, and the Bucs can play Hill for cheap for several years provided he continues to make the grade.
I'd guess that no one would claim him off waivers, but you never know how such media coverage will impact a player's value on the open market.
The Bucs added another lefty, Mike Gonzalez. He's been lights-out at Nashville. Welcome to the Show bro.
We rarely read Peter Gammons because the rumors are never realized and he almost never talks about the Pirates.
So it's understandable that I just caught his May 10 article tonight. (Oh yeah, I was out on the high seas too.) Anyway, he says that starting pitching is the most precious resource in the big leagues right now. Tell me why they abuse the Pirates for drafting starting pitchers? I hope the Bucs do it again, too. Don't buy into that bullshit peddled by half-interested and condescending cynics who claim that the Pirates need to draft some high school kid who's gonna make the bigs at 20, be tantalizingly below average for many years, and have his prime in post-arbitration-eligible years the Bucs won't want to afford. And that's the best-case scenario. Stay the course, Dave Littlefield, and get us another left-handed starting pitcher - preferably someone who keeps the ball in the park.
Like you care dept.: I got drunk and ranted about this six weeks ago. Scoop was face-down and drooling and Bones was sleeping beneath the table when I finished.
P.S. Get well Paul Maholm.
Yet another NL Central rival went down tonight while the Bucs kicked it on the couch studying game tape of select Friar starters.
Former Buc Jason Schmidt did his thing in a complete game shutout. This fragile and oft-injured pitcher threw 144 pitches for
Dusty Baker Felipe Alou. Bwa-ha-ha-ha. Maybe he was "coasting" half the way.
Aramis Ramirez went 0-for-3.
Brian O'Neill's latest is real good. (FWIW, more on Craig Wilson / Jim Thome here.) Stats Geek is on a roll lately. I read the previous week's essay in hard copy (shudder) as I had no access to the internet. The PG sports page does look good though, doesn't it.
The it-girl Brewers lost at Montreal. Keith Ginter, hitting third in the lineup, had three hits. So did Geoff Jenkins. Chad Moeller went 0-for-2 but drew two walks so don't think bad of his .235 average. Lyle Overbay now has a hit streak of 18 games. This guy is having a monster year so far: .369 / .414 / .638. Walks and power. Damn. And we gotta see this guy on Friday. He hits left-handed and we'll see him in PNC. Not cool. Maybe Mike Johnston will buzz his tower and put the shake in him before he breaks out with a Sean Casey impression.
The Cards (20-19) lost in the ninth to the Mets (19-20). They play two more. It would be mega-freaky if the Mets sweep and the Cards head to Chicago under .500.
Scott Rolen had another big day (yawn) and is now hitting .331 with 13 walks in 135 at-bats. The next time someone tells you that Jack Wilson is off to a good start this year, look 'em in the eye and say this: "Yeah, but Scott Rolen has 13 walks in 135 at-bats." That will shut 'em up.
Reggie Sanders went 0-for-4. This guy is streaky. When's he due? Looking at the log, I guess he picks it up two weeks from today. Oh great, that would be at Pittsburgh at the end of the month.
For the Mets, the great Ty Wigginton went 0-for-3 but he drew a walk so his .205 average isn't so bad as it looks. Izzy, pitching in his upteenth every-other-day appearance, got roughed up and blew his second save of the year. Yawn.
The Reds got outscored some more and run their record in that department to 175-191.
Matt Holliday had another monster Larry Walker impersonation night. Jeromy Burnitz is having a good year again. Both those guys hit two homers. Shawn Estes pitched well again.
For the Reds, D'Angelo Jimenez went 1-for-4 but NO WALKS. That's sad since he's only hitting .210. Wily Mo Pena was the star of the hour with a nice 2-for-3, solo-HR performance in the losing effort. He jacks his batting average to .213.
Cory Lidle got pounded - eleven hits, six earnies, two jacks in five innings. I wonder if we get to face him soon.
No Pirates game tonight & none yesterday so I'll look around the rest of the NL Central.
The Astros beat up on the Marlins in Florida tonight. Hee Choi went 2-for-4 tonight with a double but NO WALKS. No good buddy since you're only hitting .235. That's not going to to do it. Maybe Dusty Baker was right about Choi.
Ramon Castro went 0-for-1 and dropped his average to .145. I seem to vaguely remember someone telling me he could be the next Carlton Fisk. Maybe I was drunk at the time.
The other Abraham Nunez - get your own name, buddy - went 0-for-1 pinch-hitting. Sounds like the Abraham Nunez I used to know.
The Astros have a good team. Mac said, last time we saw them, that they had more talent than us. This stuck to me. I don't believe it. I think they have more experience. We have a lot of talent and little experience. They have a lot of talent and a lot of experience. Either way, Astros win their NL-most 23rd game.
Just because a young player posts near-identical stats in his 23rd and 24th year doesn't mean that is his plateau or "true level" of play. It was a coincidence, that's all. Jack will only maintain his high slugging percentage if he continues to hit a lot of triples, but the rest of the performance is not that far "above" or away from a level we think he can maintain.
As for drawing walks, we maintain that you don't need to draw a lot walks if you hit .350 or even .300. A lot of walks only matter when a player is hitting .230 or .250. The point of "plate discipline" - that ability to draw walks which arises from good strike-zone judgment and pitch recognition - is to hit pitches hard. If a walk is as good as a hit, it's only as good as an infield single. It's beyond stupid to expect that all hitters - regardless of batting average - draw one walk per ten at-bats. If a player can hit .400, obviously that player has outstanding plate discipline, regardless of whether or not he draws walks. There should be a sliding scale with walks per at-bats. A player that hits only .210 or .230 - Hee Choi, Adam Dunn of a year ago, and D'Angelo Jimenez come to mind - better walk a ton if they want their performance to show evidence that they have good plate discipline. A player who hits .270 should walk a good amount, a player who hits .300 doesn't need to walk quite so much, and a guy that hits .350 or .400 doesn't really need to walk much at all. There's a hare-brained superstition that players hitting .350 with few walks are "less likely" to keep up that .350 BA which is as bold as predicting that teams with a 14-2 record with many one-run wins are "less likely" to finish 140-20. Duh, no one is likely to finish the season with a .350 BA.
The test of Jack Wilson's improved hitting is not how many walks he draws while he is hitting .350. It's whether or not he draws enough walks during stretches of .250 hitting to maintain a .340+ OBP.
...rainout update: AWT's comment shows I'm not being clear or coherent. Here's my point with Wilson's lack of walks to date. Look at his projected stats for this year. He's on pace for 50 doubles, 19 triples, and 19 home runs. What can we say? The little guy is hitting the ball hard. Anyone who second-guesses his performance to date as anything short of awesome is looking at a gift Z4 and saying yeah, but my '86 Toyota Corolla was bigger. No doubt that, all things being equal, a high-walks .349 hitter is better than a low-walks .349 hitter but we are way at the top of the curve here, approaching the limit which is HOF level. And sure a high-walks .349 hitter is more likely to hit .349 all year than a low-walks .349 hitter. And a high-walks .349 hitter may actually be likely to finish the year at .349. Think Albert Pujols. Now, remember we are talking about Jack Wilson. The guy hits .349 with a .372 OBP and we're going to say yeah, but he's not Albert Pujols? I don't think so. If Jack Wilson goes 20-for-his-next-100 with four walks then I'll agree he's not walking enough. In the meantime, so long as his OBP is 370, everyone line up and take your turn saying Jack Wilson has had spectacular OBP so far this season.
The two t-shirts rule. Love them Hanes Beefy Tees and the printing is first-rate. The fabric for the baseball jersey is a little thin. Not heavyweight like the baseball jerseys I wore when I too was before the mast. That may be better for hot summer days but I was a little disappointed. I dunno why I thought it would be beefy-T quality. The shirt ordered for my little Rowdietta looks a little small. We'll see what it looks like after it's been
through the washer and dryer pounded between two rocks down by the brook and hung in the sun to dry.
The mug is the best of all. This thing rocks and is gonna hold the mega-sangria soon. In the meantime it jumps to the head of the line as the best
latte f'n grog cup in the house. The diameter is the regular size but it's taller. Rowdietta would call it the "big sippy".
And it's appropriate. Mercury is one bad-ass fluid:
Mercury has been known since ancient times. The origin of the name comes from the Latin word hydrargyrum meaning liquid silver. It is heavy, silver-white metal, liquid at ordinary temperatures. Stable in air and water. Unreactive with alkalis and most acids. Gives off poisonous vapour. Chronic cumulative effects.Esp. note the last two sentences and don't say you weren't warned.
Obviously no one runs a big-league club this way. But Mac has been telling us for years now that he fills out the lineup card on a strictly play-for-play basis: if you play well, you get more playing time. If you embarrass yourself, you ride the pine.
Check out Bobby Hill's last 7 days and season to date. Give the man some PT.
Them was good at-bats. More like that please.
Is that 59 on Mack's shirt in honor of the fact that he was something like a 59th round draft pick?
... hold on there. 53rd round draft pick.