Friday, October 15, 2004

Mesa and Ronny Paulino

Ed Eagle reports the Pirates are talking seriously about bringing back the 43-year-old Jose Mesa. I'm amused. I expected the Bucs to make an offer and this kind of respect is part of the offer. But I don't know what to make of this red-carpet treatment until I find out what kind of money the team is offering.

In other news, the Pirates signed Altoona catcher Ronny Paulino. He's 23 and, if my spreadsheet is right, just finished his seventh year in the minors. Eagle reports that Paulino was up for minor-league free agency if the Pirates didn't act to keep him in the organization.

The Pirates have a bunch of minor-league players worth adding to the 40-man. If Paulino's a surprise for addition number one, that's mainly because he's a catcher, and not because he's not worthy. The Pirates have a few catchers on the 40-man already. As Charlie mentioned in the comments, the fact that the Pirates moved to keep this catcher may suggest they plan on cutting (or trading) another one soon.

Adios Mark Corey

Remember when DL said that "we’ve got other things going on that will help explain this in time" when asked to explain why they sent out Corey to make room for Dave Williams? Not surprisingly, here's an other thing - the Bucs released Corey. Now he can go out and live the Duaner Sanchez career path that so outrages some Pirate fans.

Ed Eagle counts at least six players the Bucs will/might lose in the Rule 5 draft (see link above). The Bucs now have three roster spots and a little over a month to clear what room they will for those draftable prospects.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Brings a tear to my eye

Ed Eagle remembers the 1979 NLCS.

Honest Wagner NFL pick-em: week 6

snf 09.5 NYJ ..snf ..snf ..snf
car 08.5 PHL ..PHL ..PHL ..PHL
ksc -2.5 JAX ..JAX ..ksc ..JAX
snd 04.5 ATL ..ATL .snd* .snd*
mia 03.5 BUF ..BUF .BUF* ..BUF
was -0.5 CHI ..CHI ..CHI .CHI*
cin 02.5 CLE ..cin ..CLE .CLE*
sea 04.5 NWE .NWE* .NWE* .NWE*
gnb 02.5 DET ..DET .DET* ..DET
hou 06.5 TEN ..hou ..TEN ..TEN
den -1.5 OAK ..den ..den .OAK*
pit 02.5 DAL .pit* .pit* .pit*
min -3.5 NWO .min* ..min ..min
tab 06.5 STL ..STL

Asterisks indicate best bets.

Season to date:

Scoop 44-30 .595
Bones 42-32 .568
Rowdy 35-39 .473

Best Bets
Bones 12-10 .545
Rowdy 12-15 .444
Scoop 05-08 .385


Dr. Bones has no comments this week, just straight up prognostication.

Scooper: Pit needs to win this dallas game more than they need to win either the new england or the steagle games that follow the bye. Both are at home, but to split those two would be doing real well, and a loss to both is more likely than a win against both. So if they lose at dallas that would put them at 4-2 and staring down possible 4-4 with a three game losing streak. The dallas game will set up how the next three weeks shake out. If they win they can play NWE and phl loose, and I think a split is likely, knowing that 5-3 at the turn is assured; if they lose they'll be playing those two games with a pucker factor that will not benefit their play.

Rowdy: sf: Ugly hunch here. PHL: I'll have my cheesesteak with mushrooms, swiss cheese, mayo, ketchup, lettuce and tomatoes. JAX: Chiefs find stump, axe, in locker room before game. snd*: Brees and LT over Kordell Vick. BUF: Bills usually tough at home. CHI*: Brian Urlacher returns, leading reinforcements. CLE*: Browns have been better at home. NWE*: Back on the cover train. DET: Favre in domes. TEN: Completes my overreaction to MNF. OAK*: House of horrors, forecast: pain. pit*: Steelers have owned Vinny since his days as a hapless Brown. min: Moss on big stage. tab: Just one calorie.

Parcells: Roethlisberger resembling Marino

From this week's love in the USAToday, here is Sunday's opposing coach on our new QB:

"He is the best prospect I've seen in the last 10 to 15 years," Dallas coach Bill Parcells said Wednesday in a conference call in advance of Sunday's game against the visiting Steelers in what promises to be Roethlisberger's toughest test by far.

"I have not seen anybody come into the league like that," said Parcells. "The only guy that I can say came in and in the first year started playing like he's been playing, is Dan Marino."

Coaches typically flatter the opposing players, but that's beyond the range of typical flattery.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Ed Eagle's mailbag

Ed Eagle will run a mailbag forum for the off-season at least.

Adios Nelson Figueroa

This frees up one spot on the 40-man roster. Who's next?

Pirates, Twins

Brian O'Neill compares the two teams in today's Stats Geek.

The Pirates can contend on a small budget provided they draft a coherent, winning plan and then have the patience to see it through to fruition. Under Littlefield the overall picture is so far, so good: more steps forward than backward.

Right now, for me, the goal is not winning the World Series, but patching together a 92-win team that can get into the playoffs. I don't know how you feel about this, but for me baseball is an everday thing, a daily hobby, something like a soap opera obsession that keeps you both in and out of the larger world, depending on your current mood and inclination. I can exact considerable satisfaction from the most run-of-the-mill regular-season victory. The difference between winning 92 games and winning 72 is three solid weeks of winning. That's a huge difference for the fan who follows the team day after day.

All the talk about building not a winner but a team that can win in the playoffs, common among some fans of some other teams, goes right over my head. I just want to win consistently during the season. When we get that accomplished, then we can think about the playoffs.

The question of whether or not a small-market team can win a World Series is pretty moot. Right now the task is piloting this small-market team to 92 wins. And I think the team is headed in that direction. So far, so good. I'm not saying I expect or know that it will happen, or happen soon, but in the last few years I think the team has made progress and I'll be sticking around to see if this plan works out.

Jason Bay to centerfield

Paul Meyer suggests the idea in last week's Q & A, which I just got around to reading. We'll have to wait another week for another installment since they are taking this one off.

With Bay in left or center, either way, the Bucs need another CF-caliber outfielder.

Honest Wags NFL pick 'em: week 5 results

Ten underdogs covered in week 5 and the pick 'em results are not for the faint of heart. The junto was badly fooled in the tb-NO game and the oak-IND game: not one of us had the right answer there. No one can claim to have had a good week, but Scoop and his horse sense best survived the storm. Week 5: Scoop 7-7 (0-1 best bets), Rowdy 6-8 (2-4), Bones 4-10 (2-3). Scoop and Bones continue to hold sparkling YTD records, with Scoop at 44-30, Bones at 42-32, and Rowdy far behind at 35-39. No one is doing well with the best bets; good thing we never wager real cash on our genius. Bones leads in that department, 12-10. Rowdy has gone 12-15, and Scoop is hanging back at 5-8.

Week 6 features some surprising lines. I look at the matchups for the next week on Sunday night and guess who will be favored. This week, I'm surprised to see Washington favored at Chicago, Denver favored at Oakland, and Kansas City favored at Jacksonville. Jacksonville gets no respect from Vegas ... there were also underdogs when hosting Indy a week or two ago and when hosting Denver even earlier in the season. They've been a persistent bargain this year.

I smell a trap. In chess such things are called "poison pawns." You know there's something fishy about their availability, but you can't resist taking what you're given. A few moves later, you understand you've been a sucker. Chicago, Oakland, and Jacksonville look like poison pawns to me. I guess I'll be taking them regardless.

Monday, October 11, 2004

State of the Bucs

Joe Rutter has a M.A. Thesis on the state of the Bucs as the annual organizational meetings begin.

There's just a little over a month until the November 19 deadline for submitting the 40-man roster. Pirate fans should be prepared and Pirate fans should participate in the process by paying attention and threatening to get upset if the team looks prepared to cut someone we really ought to keep.

Here's Wilbur Miller's overview of the current situation with the the minors and the 40-man. It doesn't square exactly with the overview provided by Joe Rutter. We have a month or so to learn why the organization might value a Rajai Davis over a Javier Guzman, or where guys like Ray Sadler and Chris Duffy stand, or what the organization expects to get out of the crop of guys - J.J. Davis, Carlos Rivera, etc. - who have yet to deliver on their promise.

Pirate fans can live with disappointment (we're still here, yes?) but we don't need any more Rule 5 surprises. I hope the front office does a good job communicating a rationale for the big decisions they'll make in the next four months.

Kendall rumor

Robert Dvorchak reports on talks between LA and Pittsburgh involving Kendall, Craig Wilson, and Yencey Brazoban. We have a lot of guys in the system worth a look at a corner position; it might be wise to move Craiggers (a bargain) with Kendall (not a bargain) to a big-payroll team like LA.

There's a breakeven point, though. Any deal has to value Kendall appropriately. If a team will take him as valued at $8M per year, that works. At some lower number, we pay too much to save too little.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

All hail the team

That's the kind of game that, if I had taped it, I would watch again every day until next Sunday.

In the mid-90s I did that. Scoop thought I was a little nuts but the games get better each time you watch them again.

Also taking me back to the mid-90s is our matchup next week. No doubt Seattle at New England will be the game of the week, but Pittsburgh at Dallas will be pretty damn good too. The bloom is off the Carolina-Philadelphia game, the Colts and Giants are on the bye, and the Sunday and Monday night games feature some sorry teams. Atlanta may still be overrated by many but I doubt too many are buying into the strong start from the power-blue Bolts. The Jets host the one-win Niners. That won't get the andrenaline flowing. We'll get the Jets ad nauseum before week 7, when they face the Patriots. So ... I'm guessing our Steelers are in for some national attention this week.

It's hard to stay below radar when there are so many newcomers to the ranks of division leaders. With the exception of New England and Philadelphia, the usual stories about the usual teams don't have much life to them. Ben Roethlisberger might wind up in an article for SI. Or maybe the USAT will run a feature on them for Tuesday or Wednesday. Regardless, if the Steelers can manage a win in Dallas, they'll be one of the big stories of the 2004 season and people will start talking about the playoffs.