Saturday, September 11, 2004

Wilbur Miller's Rule 5 thoughts

Wilbur Miller, a regular at OnlyBucs and Primer, runs down a list of prospects who might need protection from the Rule V draft. I'd say this is damn fine work.

All the Curve hail

Those guys are good!

All hail Jason Bay

Another big game, and right when we really needed it. My throat was getting awful dry for that, and it was good to see him nail one at Enron after Biggio robbed him of a home run earlier in the series.

Here's another beauty to frame (I recommend gold leaf) for the Jason Bay shrine that now dominates your drinking room.

Look again. It's a really good one.

Ryan Vogelsong = winner

Today at least. Huzza! Huzza! Get me another beer.

I had some deep thoughts about Ryan Vogelsong while I sat in the car and waited several hours for little Rowdietta to wake up from her much-needed nap in the car seat. (I had the game on the radio.)

First of all, everyone's going to holler and burst blood vessels over the offseason about how bad he was in 2004.

Second of all, like Jack Wilson, he had an unusual rookie year in that the Pirates, as they do, started him on day one and stuck with him the rest of the year. He didn't lose 20 games but Vogelsong was good enough to stay in the rotation for almost the entire year. The Bucs were unusually patient with him. He'll have unusually bad numbers when the year is over. There won't be many precedents, I fear, and he'll look bad when compared to the few there are. But he's not as bad as his numbers suggest. Most teams wouldn't let him hang around long enough to rack up such numbers, and, as with the 20-game losers, he has enough stuff to make us think he could get better and be good.

Third of all, he's never going to be great. I think Brett Tomko is his ceiling. More and more he reminds me of Tomko. He'll be around and in the league for awhile.

I won't be surprised if the Pirates bring him back for another full year in 2005. He's dirt cheap and this year, he's been durable. That said, if they can stick him in Nashville, they can sleep at night knowing that they gave him a full year to show his upside and that upside was something you'd love to have at Nashville provided that you could put five other guys in the opening day rotation. Vogelsong looks like a great sixth starter with room to improve and definitely the potential to string together a few good weeks or even a very good half-season. He'll never be an ace, I think, but he should be useful and I bet he'll be in the league for longer than most expect.

I'm rooting for him.

Castillo a six hitter

Joe Rutter reports today on Jose Castillo's improvement at the plate. Mac sees him batting sixth one of these days.

There's a typo in the article that I can't figure out. Castillo's OBP is .315, which is not good but above the laugh line. He's had a down and up season at the plate and further overall improvement is likely next year.

John Van Benschoten = winner

Last night at least. Congratulations to him and huzza for all that.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Recent stats, offense

21-day numbers, sorted by at-bats:

Player. BA... SLG.. OBA.. G. AB BB H. HR R RBI SB
WilsonJ 0.274 0.405 0.307 21 84 03 23 02 13 06 1
Kendall 0.278 0.306 0.357 19 72 06 20 00 10 05 0
BayJasn 0.270 0.571 0.377 19 63 08 17 05 10 13 0
Cstillo 0.381 0.524 0.400 19 63 02 24 01 05 07 1
RedmanT 0.222 0.286 0.258 19 63 03 14 01 05 02 2
WardDry 0.164 0.426 0.271 19 61 08 10 04 09 13 0
WilsonC 0.197 0.426 0.310 19 61 06 12 04 11 05 0
Wiggytn 0.246 0.328 0.338 20 61 09 15 01 04 06 0
Makawak 0.172 0.310 0.310 20 58 11 10 02 05 09 1
NunezAb 0.238 0.286 0.273 15 21 01 05 00 00 02 0
HillBob 0.176 0.235 0.250 14 17 00 03 00 02 03 0
Bautsta 0.125 0.188 0.222 09 16 02 02 00 00 00 0
CotaHum 0.083 0.083 0.083 05 12 00 01 00 01 00 0
Alvarez 0.500 0.500 0.667 01 02 01 01 00 00 01 0
Sanchez 0.000 0.000 0.000 01 01 00 00 00 00 00 0

Jack Wilson has been mediocre, Kendall not good, Wigginton not good, and Redman has been awful. Ward and Craig Wilson are swinging and missing or, when they do make contact, driving the ball. The bench has been feeble.

On the plus side, Jason Bay and Jose Castillo have been automatic. Castillo has looked like much more than a #8 hitter since he adjusted to that adjustment they made to his swing.

Slop and slather

I enjoyed Still Mill's pregame analysis.

I don't expect slop this Sunday. In the past, Cowher has coached the team like the Yankees, saving everything for the "second season" or the final ten or twelve games. That bullshit might work once, and reports I've read about Cowher and the practices and the no-golf-carts policies suggest they're gearing up to go wire-to-wire this year.

Which is the only way to go.

And, thank God, I've yet to hear any Kordell-like "Girls just want to have fun" nonsense about how to play winning football. Diligence is the mother of good luck; would you live with ease, do what you ought, and not what you please.

So no slop this weekend. I expect crisp play from the good guys.

Jason Bay picture

Frame and adore.

ROY voting

So here's how it's done: two BBWA writers from each NL city vote before the postseason begins.

For some reason I was led to believe that John Kruk and Harold Reynolds would get votes.

Breaking news

Oliver Perez is good.

Jason Bay overrated?

Give me a break. In other news, a survey of 1,083 randomly-selected baseball fans, taken on the eve of next year's big fantasy baseball draft, will probably indicate that Lloyd McClendon is widely regarded as the league's best manager.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Zach speaks, destroys Erie

Here's a Zach Duke interview from (under "Around the Minors with Mayo"). said they'd broadcast tonight's blowout of Erie but I haven't been able to get the feed to work.

Duke gets five or six days off after the AA season ends, and then will head to an instructional league for two weeks in Florida.

NFL week 1: Honest Wags pick them

VIS SPRD HOME Rowdy Scoop Bones
ind 03.5 NWE ...ind ind ind

ten -3.5 MIA ...ten* ten ten

sea -2.5 NWO ...NWO sea NWO
cin 04.5 NYJ ...NYJ cin NYJ
arz 10.5 STL ...STL arz STL
oak 03.5 PIT ...PIT* oak PIT*
snd 04.5 HOU ...HOU snd snd
jax 02.5 BUF ...jax jax* BUF
det 02.5 CHI ...det det det
bal -2.5 CLE ...bal bal* CLE
tab 01.5 WAS ...WAS tab WAS

atl -3.5 SNF ...atl SNF SNF
dal 04.5 MIN ...dal MIN MIN*
nyg 09.5 PHL ...PHL nyg nyg

ksc 02.5 DEN ...DEN DEN DEN

gnb 02.5 CAR ...gnb* CAR* CAR*

Asterisk (*) indicates best bet.

I take it easy in the first week of the season, which is usually pretty straightforward. The weeks get progressively harder as the season advances for a whole lot of reasons. The hardest thing about week 1, I've found, is resisting the temptation to make "smart" picks based on you getting ahead of everything and everyone to pick only the teams that will be there toward the end.

Raiders, Scoop? I'll quote Hunter S. Thompson, who's something of an authority on the team and wrote two weeks ago:

"You can teach a kid everything else in the game," said Al Davis on one wet afternoon in Oakland when he was bitching about Ken Stabler and "Fast Freddie" Biletnikoff, both famously slow on foot. "But you can't teach speed."

Al was weird in those days, and he still is. But the Oakland Raiders will suck this year, and so will the Denver Broncos. They both suffer from a lack of team speed, and they both have dysfunctional quarterbacks. No playoffs for these poor bastards. They will struggle. Do not bet on them.

Mahalo indeed. I don't remember why I'm betting on Denver but that's no reason to change my mind. Perhaps Scoop can explain.


14 is a lot of strikeouts.

Jason Bay for Rookie of the Year

The Pirates are seeking the attention of the people who actually do the voting.

Yes, this is a biassed site, but it's been clear to us that Bay has been an extraordinarily special rookie since he came back from his shoulder injury and joined the club in May.

He shot out of the gate at a steady 900+ OPS clip. His early struggles were strictly confined to one or two games. There have been no long Jason Bay slumps.

By early July, it was clear to this fan that Bay had emerged as the best player on the team. How many rookies do that on any team? The Rookie of the Year talk was going strong by July 2.

Big-game Bay responded to the early attention by singlehandedly winning not one game at a time but a game and a half at a time. Jason Bay showed that rare ability to command a game and win it single-handedly. We could only scratch our heads as national writers talked about two relievers - Atinori Otsuka and Ryan Madson, and "Alligator Arms" Matsui, a player with obvious flaws in his game. Even Pittsburgh's local sports curmudgeon, the ever-impossible-to-impress Bob Smizik, insisted Bay was no Kiner but remained a likely Rookie of the Year winner. Now that Bay is poised to tie and surpass Kiner's record for home runs as a rookie, perhaps we can begin to compare Bay's rookie year to Kiner's without much exaggeration or embellishment. Pirate fans looking for a new and long-term fixture with the club could see Bay as the rookie fans dream about as early as July 26. Even the Canadians were getting excited about the guy.

Throughout August it looked that Bay would cruise to the title. He certainly played like he deserved it and he did this consistently and, at times, dramatically. He won over Pittsburgh, charming the homers first and then even the Smiziks. The Canadians recognized the success of their son. The buzz was spreading. All that remained were the national writers. Then we hear that Khalil Greene had surged to the front, on the basis of good defense - Bay himself plays outstanding defense and should move to center next year - and some recent hot hitting - nevermind that Bay's been hitting like Kiner since he started the season.

I understand if fans of the game at the national level want to watch games with playoff ramifications, but it would sting to see Bay lose the award to a less consistent and less deserving player who occupies a less important role on another team.

Look at Bay's splits. We see only consistency and excellence. Look at the big games. He won the Rookie of the Month award in June and July, and his August performance was just as good, especially when you consider that much of the team looked tired in August and didn't provide the same kind of run-producing opportunities Bay had in his award-winning months. (In June, Bay's 18 hits generated 14 runs and 17 RBI; in July, his 27 hits generated 13 runs and 20 RBI; in August, his 27 hits generated 13 runs and 15 RBI.) Bay has been no one-month wonder. He's a full-season wonder.

Khalil Greene has had a great rookie season, but there's no way that his entire season matches up, across the board, with Bay's. He hasn't hit as well and he hasn't been nearly as consistent. He spent most of the seasons batting eighth. Why this may make his batting numbers a bit more impressive, it also indicates that he was surrounded by a much stronger supporting cast than Bay. Bay has taken over his team and now represents, in the minds of the fans, the hope and future of the franchise. There is greatness and there is Greatness and it's pretty clear to this party that Bay has shown much of the unusual variety as he has paced this club through a difficult and often disappointing rebuilding year.

The season is not over yet, but Bay's consistent record makes me confident that he won't tank and post a .521 OPS as teams continue to focus on him as a big-time player. A little more pressure will not faze this guy. To those of you who haven't seen him play and haven't been paying attention, it's not too late to see this Greatness for yourself.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Tonight's game cancelled

They cancelled tonight's game and don't expect to reshedule it. Not good, I think. We want to play as many games as we can.

Football starts tomorrow. I'm doing my homework. It's amazing how much I forget about the NFL between the Super Bowl and opening day, and then I'm amazed at how much I remember when I start to look at the rosters. It's a bit like riding a bike ...

Bay in center

And other subjects in today's Q & A with Paul Meyer.

Eldred, Duke

Get full PG treatment this morning. Say what you want about Eldred's K/BB ratio, you can't argue with his results.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

All hail Dave Williams

Who knows what will happen the rest of the game, but right now Dave Williams is outpitching Ben Sheets and the Pirates have a lead for the first time in forever it seems.

This love of mine

I asked the sun, the moon,
The stars that shine,
What's to become of it,
This team of mine?

Adios Brian St. Pierre

Good roster management. Randle El will be the third QB to make room for another kickoff coverage maniac. Third QBs should learn kickoff coverage going forward.

In another surprise move, the Steelers signed former Pirate minor-league goon Walter Young.

Monday, September 06, 2004

The unprotected, part 1

Here is the best source of information I've been able to find on the Rule V draft. It's over there in the links on the right-hand side.

Here are some assumptions I'm making and don't find specifically addressed there: (1) all pro leagues are equally pro, i.e., rookie leagues count equally as A leagues, (2) any part of a pro season counts as a full season for the purpose of determining a player's experience, and (3) the same eligibility requirements hold for all players regardless of whether they were acquired by draft, trade, amateur free agency, or the minor-league Rule 5 draft (which is different from the big-league Rule 5 draft).

This rule is clear:

Players who were 18 or younger on June 5 preceding the signing of their first contract must be protected after four minor league seasons. Players 19 and older must be protected after three seasons.

Why June 5? That's roughly the date of the draft. If a player is drafted as an 18-year-old but turns 19 before he signs, his team doesn't lose that extra year of protection.

Everyone should know by now that a player selected in the big-league Rule 5 process has to stay on the selecting team's 25-man roster for the full year. If they want to keep him and take him off the roster, they have to put him on waivers and any team can claim him and be bound to same rules. If he clears waivers, he has to be offered back to the original team.

What we saw last year is that a lot of clubs have no scruples about selecting players when there is a 90% chance they'll never be able to keep him on the big-league club for the full year. The price of the selection is very low and it's no deterrent for teams like Oakland to grab some guy and take a flyer on him. Players can bounce around for a full year - as Jose Bautista did - before knowing where they'll be when spring training opens the next year.

Obviously, the Pirates want to protect as many players as they can. Yet it's clear to me that the Pirates will probably lose at least some players again. There's too many who appear to be worth protecting and even clubs that rarely promote prospects to the big leagues (e.g., the Yankees) need them so they can make trades (witness their failure to trade for Randy Johnson this year).

Here's a rough list of minor-league hitters that will be exposed unless they are added to the 40-man roster. Some of these guys will not be worth protecting, but for the sake of comprehensiveness, I've included everyone who hit well this year who isn't 30.

Rich Thompson
Brad Eldred
Jorges Cortes
Nate McLouth
Ronny Paulino
Rajai Davis
Chris Duffy
Yurendell DeCaster
Ray Sadler
Javier Guzman

House, Davis, Rivera, Alvarez, Sanchez, and Doumit are already on the 40-man; Boeve and Stansberry are finishing only their second pro season.

The pitchers:

Mike Connolly
Landon Jacobsen
Matt Peterson
Mark Michael
Leo Nunez
Jeff Miller

Bradley and Snell are on the 40-man and Duke is finishing his second pro season. Jeff Miller is the only relief pitcher on the list. I'm assuming that, with so many players to protect, the last thing we'd do is protect a bunch of minor-league relievers.

Those who know better, please leave a comment or send an email to honestwagner at yahoo dot com.

Who from those lists, in your opinion, most warrants addition to the 40-man?

How willing are you to sacrifice some of the guys who have already had a crack at big-league play and failed to emerge as big-league players? How attached to J.J. Davis or Carlos Rivera do you think the team should be?

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Graham on the prospects

Joe Rutter met with Brian Graham, the Pirates' third-year director of player development, and wrote about it.

According to Joe, Graham talked about Eldred, Duke, Jorge Cortes, Bryan Bullington, Bobby Bradley, Jeff Miller, Nate McLouth, and Chris Duffy. Not discussed in Rutter's article but worth considering, I think, is the fact that, on that list, only Bradley is already on the 40-man roster. Duke and Bullington don't need to be protected, but the rest could be taken in the Rule 5 draft - I'm pretty sure - if the Pirates don't add them to the 40-man roster.

Lower in the system, Graham mentioned Tom Gorzelanny, Rajai Davis. Javier Guzman, Craig Stansberry and Adam Boeve. Gorzelanny, Stansberry, and Boeve have less pro time than a player needs before he must be protected. Gorzelanny was just promoted to Altoona for the playoffs. Boeve is 24 and in his second pro year after a college slugging career at the University of Northern Iowa.

According to The Baseball Cube, Javier Guzman is a 20-year-old shortstop who was drafted at the age of 14 by Colorado. Can that be right?

I won't read anything into this, yet, but the ranks of the possibly deserving who were not mentioned include Ronny Paulino, Yurendell DeCaster, Ray Sadler, Mike Connolly, and Leo Nunez.