Saturday, April 16, 2005

Game 11: Cubs at Pirates

Ryan Dempster at Kip Wells. Redman sits another game, Wilson in left, Bay in center. Ross catching. I'd like to see an early lead for Kip.

Use this as a game thread if you care to chatter, holler, or rant as it happens.

Go Reds

Reds and Astros going at it right now. The Reds are 4-5 and the Astros are 5-4. I root for the teams leading the division to lose. Right now in the fifth, the Reds lead 3-0.

NL Central rivals

Which team in the NL Central do you most want the Pirates to beat on? For me, it must be the Cubs.

Second place might be the Astros in Houston.

All hail Bobby Hill

After last night's heroics, I'd like to see Bobby Hill getting more playing time somewhere.

Craig Wilson, left fielder

Left field is another center in PNC. So like a lot of people I've been curious to see if Craig Wilson, who started in left on the road, would play there when we got back. I think we all agree that an outfield of Wilson - Bay - Lawton provides the Bucs with their best offensive arrangment and, provided that Wilson can manage OK and not be totally horrible, the best overall option as well.

In Dejan Kovacevic's report I see indications that the Pirates might stick with this thunderfoot outfield.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Bucs win

That was cool. Perhaps Mr. Cota should start looking for apartments in Indianapolis. Or is he out of options? and a half out of first. If the Bucs can win tomorrow, they push the Cubs into last place. I know it's early in the season. I don't care. That is cool.

Game 9: Cubs at Pirates

Carlos Zambrano, ugh, who has owned us, against an Ollie working to regain his slider. Game starts at 7:05pm.

The bums

More and more I think it doesn't matter what team you follow. Part of the experience is the gratuitous kick in the head when your team is down. Los Angeles may be in a different league than our Bucs. Many people felt a duty to make that clear to me after this post. But reading Eric Neel's latest makes me think it's not as different as some would insist.

There's no consolation here. The Dodgers are 6-2.

Twisting in the wind

Another day, another national outrage. Paul Hagen of Knight Ridder has this take on the Pirates' season to date:

JEERS For the Pirates. They're letting manager Lloyd McClendon twist in the wind as a lame duck by not exercising his 2006 option. That sends a signal that the organization isn't fully committed to the manager, and that's never a good thing.

Just one week into the season, fans were already screaming that he should be fired. And uncertainty over his future can only undermine his authority in the clubhouse. If general manager Dave Littlefield was so unsure, he should have brought in a new guy to start spring training. This creates an unnecessary distraction.

McClendon, sixth among all big-league managers in seniority, has so far taken the high road.

"Some people were calling for my head the day after I took the job," he said. "It's part of the deal. You just go on about your business and stay committed to the things you're doing."

Nice mixed metaphor in the first line. Corpses "twist in the wind," as when they've been strung up and left as an example to others. Has management lynched McClendon by not signing him for 2006? And who hangs a "lame duck"? Do hunters leave their birds to twist in the wind, as an example to other ducks?

But, whatever. He's exaggerating, I think. Do we need to worry about McClendon having his authority undermined?

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Monday Night Football

It's feast or famine for the Steelers. When they don't get any Monday night games, I'm all like, how can they not have any Steelers on Monday night? When they have three Monday night games, I'm all like, how can they have so many? They always have their best seasons, it seems to me, when they come in under the radar. So ... never sure what to make of all the preseason attention.

Edwin Jackson

Remember last March, when the Dodgers wouldn't trade Edwin Jackson and a prospect for Adam Dunn? Peter Gammons went bulldog for them like the Cincinnati team was out of its mind.

Jackson will get another crack at the majors this year or next, but that was nutty.

Takes a licking

Mark Redman is OK.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Game 9: Pirates at Brewers

First pitch 1:05pm. I love the day games. Josh Fogg at Chris Capuano. Capuano's a lefty so it will interesting to see if Mack-a-whack gets the start again at second base.

Fogg quotes

Some good ones in today's report from Rob Biertempfel.

John Perrotto, helpful fellow

Good stuff yesterday from John Perrotto. I especially like the part about the urinals in the press box. One of these days I hope we find out who recommended batting Tike third.

2 games out

Fantastic win tonight for the Bucs. I tuned in late to the KDKA web feed just in time to catch Wehner prognosticate Ward's jack 10 seconds before it happened. Later C-dub (!) makes a great catch at the wall, Mac masterfully manages the bullpen, and Old Man/Pitching Coach/Closer Mesa pitches a perfect 9th to slam the door. What are the odds on all of that? Probably not bad considering Ward was overdue, C-dub has game, Mac isn't that terrible, and Mesa saved 43 games last year. And all hail Dave Ross, who's en fuego! Only 2 games out.

Bucs win; Kovacevic's Q & A

Kovacevic calls for some horse trading in the weekly Q & A.

I'm ready to see whatever it takes go to procure an Austin Kearns. So I'm with Kovacevic there. But Littlefield's wait-and-see approach makes sense to me. A GM has to be more patient.

For one, we don't know which one of our contenders for full-time play is the real stiff. Any deal for a hitter requires cutting someone. Who walks the plank? Ward, who homered tonight? Redman - moving who to left full-time? Or do the Pirates try to land a third baseman and move Wigginton into a supersub role? It would be easy to answer those questions sarcastically, but it wouldn't be wise. It can not be right to kill the season with another rebuilding purge. We have to make the most of what we have; we have to get some return, in PT and performance, on most of these players.

Anyway, these questions are beginning to answer themselves. Since we started the season with about six guys who had maybe a 50% chance of having a good year, it makes sense to get a better read on who is going to pan out before acquiring another player. There are question marks here and there and any success the team might have this year depends on some of those players coming through for us.

And another thing. In the best-case scenario plan, the one that ends with packed houses and meaningful games in September, the Bucs acquire help mid-season. Fans will take notice if it is the Pirates who are trading minor-leaguers.

So why not give it a little time, let the wheat separate from the chaff, and then deal whatever it takes to get the kind of bat we need now?

Well, the longer you wait, the more exposed the team remains to some kind of horrific start which will make any acquisition look like too little, too late. Maybe it's all chaff. The Bucs have a lot of tradeable talent, but even the acquisition of Carlos Beltran would not help the team if May brings only Randall Simon-shaped flowers.

Bucs won tonight on five extra-base hits and some nice defensive play in the outfield. So the Bucs are two games out of first place. And two games under .500. If the bats keep perking up ...

And who is this David Ross? Two doubles and a homer tonight. Maybe he can bat third?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Game 8: Pirates at Brewers

Mark Redman at ... Gary Glover. Bucs are two-and-a-half games out of first place.

I'll miss at least the first half of this one. My spidey sense tells me the Pirates will start hitting the ball soon. Maybe tonight Wigginton and D. Ward combine for five hits. Or maybe not. Who knows.

Use this as a game thread if you please.

Stats Geek on the pitchers

I share his expectation that the back half of the rotation will prove average, while the front half much better than average. Both Wells and Ollie need time. Many pitchers do.

Full Stats Geek state of the rotation speech here.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Game 7: Pirates at Brewers

Kip Wells vs. Doug Davis. Ever since I made fun of his taste for edgy facial hair, Davis has owned the Bucs.

I don't expect Kip to improve on his last start by much. Surprise us, Kip.

Use this as a game thread if you want to sound off during the game. First pitch 2:05pm.

Paranoia everywhere

This is a couple of days old. For the Hardball Times, Ben Jacobs summarizes the outrage burning among the fans of a few high-payroll teams. The Pirates have no monopoly on distressing the fan base.

The only thing to please the fans is winning now, winning yesterday, and looking like a probable winner tomorrow.

Bobby Bradley

Paul Meyer writes about him.

Tike-a-mania intermission

In case you were wondering, no, Tike Redman is not hurt.

Is Graham Koonce the superior fielder to Daryle Ward?


Lots of it in Kovacevic's recap of last night's game. What is the old saying? Fortune favors the brave?

Lawton to play a lot

From Ed Eagle's notebook:

Lawton would prefer not to rest at all. Unlike past years, when he would discontinue his offseason work regimen once the season started, Lawton plans to continue to work out before and after games in an effort to improve his durability. His goal is to play all 162 games in 2005.

"[Wearing down] last year had nothing to do with anything on the field. It was the conditioning during the season," said Lawton.

"As a player you want to be out there on the field every day," said Lawton. "My thing is you sign up to play for 162 games. I've never done it. Hopefully this will be the year."

I wonder how one works out to improve baseball durability.


Something he does well.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Great Bob Smizik essay

Catching up on the reading. Bob Smizik wrote a good one about McClendon.

Hell no, none of this is McClendon's fault. If Littlefield, McClatchy, or the Nuttings fire Mac before the season's over, that's weak.

Reading boxes

When a tyke, I often - always - went to bed before the east coast games were over. So I didn't even try to follow baseball as it happened. Every morning there would be the paper, or, if Bones and I were at our the grandparents', every afternoon we'd sit on the porch and wait for the mid-afternoon delivery of the four-page Tyrone Daily Herald. Only two sections were of interest: the box scores and the funny pages.

To this day I can skip a day or two or three of watching or listening to baseball - so long as I can get the box scores from a paper.

You see things in the box scores that you might miss otherwise. You miss an awful lot by not tuning in, but sometimes the events that seem to characterize the game as it happens are just white noise, masking other events. And of course no one has the time or the patience to watch or listen to every single game.

So I missed everything yesterday but spent an hour this afternoon reading the box scores. I go here and print the whole - it runs twenty-odd pages. That way you get all the late games as well.

Looking at Saturday's box score, I see Matt Lawton going 2-for-3 and three RBIs. He's been a great acquistion. Why was I concerned about him? With some effort I recalled the history of this guy as a Buc. My initial response to the Kendall trade was enthusiasm, since I've been a fan of Lawton as an offensive player. Then we heard through the grapevine etc. that he has a tremendously weak throwing arm and doesn't play any outfield position well. So then I look below, in the San Diego batting section, and see: 3B - X Nady, M Loretta and remember the note-to-self I made about tracking the number of triples the Pirates allow this year. Sure enough, those two were enough to have them leading the league. I don't know if any of the triples were on Lawton; that's a question I'd like answered. Or not.

I also see that Ward and Wigginton have been zeroes out of the gate. Ollie is throwing way too many balls - is he having the same problems he had in spring training a year ago? And I also see that he loads the bases in the fifth, gets lifted, and Mac calls on Rick White to bail him out. White appears to have allowed some or all of those runners to come around and score.

In other games, I see a bunch of quality starters getting torched. Besides Ollie, Zito (8 earnies), David Wells (6 earnies), Roy Halladay (5), Javy Vazquez (5), Scott Erickson (good luck with that), and Jeff Suppan (5) were all hit hard. There were some gems, but obviously it's not unusual to see even the better pitchers struggling early. Given that Ollie pitched in the 03-04 winter season and did not in the 04-05 winter season, I'll be giving him a bunch more starts before I begin to wonder if the 04 season was some kind of fluke.

I also note that Houston's Willy Taveres wants to stick when Berkman returns. The guy is fast - have you seen him run to first? Wow. And St. Louis's lineup strikes me as high stakes. If David Littlefield had signed David Eckstein to lead off for the Pirates, can you imagine the outrage we'd endure around here? His OBP the last two seasons: .325, .339. He's hitting .429 so St. Louis he looks good in red for now. After Eckstein, it's Larry Walker, Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen (still not hitting this year), Jim Edmonds, and Reggie Sanders. From an injury standpoint, that's a high-risk, high-reward quintet, esp. when - for what reason - I see Abraham Nunez (yes, that Noonie) pinch-hitting (!) for Scott Rolen. I'm curious to see how the Redbird Nation will react if Tony LaRussa sends Noonie to pinch-hit as often as McClendon did. Five somewhat-fragile studs and Noonie. Wow.

All hail Jose Mesa for career save number 294. Lanny's "There was no doubt about it" rings pretty hollow these days, doesn't it? Uh, duh, Lanny.

Game 6: Pirates at Padres

Battle of 5th starters.