Saturday, August 27, 2005

Reader review of Oliver Perez's start tonight

Brian writes:

I went to the Indianapolis Indians game tonight against the Columbus Clippers to see Oliver Perez pitch..

Here's his line:

1 2/3 pitched, 7 hits, 6 earned, 2 walks 0 k's 1 wild pich, 1 hit batsmen, 2 homeruns

Needless to say, he had no control and very un-Oliver like velocity. He was topping out at 91-92 and just getting punished.

Even the outs were hard hit.

I left after the third inning, but from what I saw Jose Bautista is quite a player. He made at least 4 plays over there at 3rd tonight and one of them was a diving stab of a line drive that stopped the bleeding for Oliver. He also had a hard hit single and didn't look overmatched at all.

Craig Wilson looked pretty good out there in the field and while he didn't get a hit while I was there, he did draw two walks.

Ronny Paulino looks like a big league catcher back there too. He handled Oliver's wildness pretty well (His control was TERRIBLE) and you can tell he is a leader on that field.

That's all I've got - If you have any questions about anything else I saw - let me know!

All hail Brian. Thanks for the report.

Game 130: Reds at Pirates

Seven o'clock. Weather's not looking too great with the likelihood of rain, but I guess they get the game in. Eric Milton and Josh Fogg.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Alan Robinson on McClendon

Hitting the wire tonight is an AP story by Alan Robinson on McClendon's view of his contract situation.

Good things come to those who wait. I can think of no reason why Littlefield, even if he wants Lloyd back next year, would need to inform him of that before October.

I don't think a manager change would do much to change things, but I admit that I don't know half the story. Continuity of care, as they say in the daycare business, makes a huge difference on young people. Are rookies major-league toddlers? Maybe some of them.

And there must be off-the-field factors that go into a decision like this. Is McClendon very unpopular with the fans? Do the Pirates hire polling firms to find out? Since the team is in the business of selling tickets, I could understand letting a perfectly good manager go just because the fans would be more excited by a change of leadership. An owner or GM who gets into the habit of switching managers often - as PR, scapegoat-sacrificing stunts - pretty much sucks. But there's no point in never making a change, either.

What I learned from Robinson's article is that McClendon appears to genuinely want to come back. I did wonder if he might not be ready for something new. All the losing has to wear on you. Even if he was itching to finish the year and go fishing, I wouldn't expect him to ever say such a thing. But something about these quotes has me thinking that he does want to be back here. That should count for something.

I'm prepared for just about anything, short of Chuck Tanner returning.

Steelers and Redskins

Any thoughts about the game?

Bad Dog

From Indy's newsletter:

CALL-AN-INDIAN -- ZACH DUKE Listen to a grand slam line-up of baseball stories read by Indians players as the Indianapolis Marion County Public Library presents Call-an-Indian. Call (317) 275-4444 to hear former Tribe pitcher Zach Duke read "Bad Dog Dodger."

Someone needs to record this as an mp3 file.

(Thanks to Jason from the comments).

Game 129: Reds at Pirates

DK reports the Pirates promoted Walker and McCutcheon, so good news on the prospect front. Who will the Bucs send to the Arizona Fall League?

Congratulations to Tony LaRussa for winning all those games.

Tonight the Bucs face Aaron Harang, who has quietly put together a solid season for the Reds. We'll be watching Mark Redman to see what he can do against a lineup that's loaded with lefty-killers. Keep an eye on Wily Mo Pena, for example, who hit two home runs the last time the Reds faced a left-handed starter.


No shit.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Game 128: Cardinals at Pirates

Some guy with a lot of wins against our admirably-overachieving soft-tossing lefty.

Dave Williams for team captain, I say.

All hail Grant Brittain

This is a great story. And one, I'm sure, that other teams will remember at next year's draft.

Duke fell to the 20th round! Wow. Did he increase his final signing bonus with that gambit? It depends on where he would have gone had he been singing "Pro Ball" to all the scouts.

Expectations for 2006

From yesterday's Q & A by Dejan Kovacevic of the PG:

Only the Pirates' management can mess up next season.

That is not to say they will. Only that I see it as being the greatest potential variable.

Leave what is there alone. Get a third baseman through a trade, get a right-handed starter as insurance through free agency, and do the usual tinkering with the bullpen.

Otherwise, work with what is already in place. And by that, I mean ?

Continue to make a priority of the young players in every situation everyday, even if it means temporary setbacks.

Teach, teach , teach. Dismiss the boorish concept that major-leaguers already should know this or that. Work with them, if need be, as if it is their first day in the Gulf Coast League.

Take every measure imaginable to make sure these players get the best instruction, physical conditioning and everything else in the wintertime so there are no ugly surprises in the spring.

Get Bay signed through his arbitration years before he breaks you and, simultaneously, get him feeling rewarded for his massive contributions. Consider Perez, too. He never will be cheaper than with his shopping-cart discount.

And yes, even if there is an outcry back home, make sure there are at least two or three veterans on the team to keep things in line. Some fires already were put out this year. Better to be safe in this regard for next year.

Bottom line: It will not be easy to mess it up.

I agree with everything except the first and last sentence. It will be easy to mess up 2006, and it will be easiest for the players, not the management, to screw it up.

It's fairly obvious how to run the team. And it's fairly obvious that the best qualities management could have are varieties of patience. And say what you want about their taste in players, Littlefield and McClendon have shown a lot more patience with the bottom half of our roster than most fans have.

This is why I think it's a bogus argument, to say that replacing the management, or only replacing the management, would turn the team around: the managers just don't do that much. Cuban or McClatchy, Theo Epstein or Dave Littlefield, Ken Macha or Lloyd McClendon: the difference, I think, is almost always overstated. I don't doubt there's some difference, but I do think that, more often than not, it's greatly exaggerated or misunderstood.

It all comes down to the players. It's dangerous to promote the understanding that they have nothing to do but "be themselves," or "relax and have fun." Because that's not true. If you look at the truly great ballplayers, none of them got to be where they are because they were good at relaxing and having fun. Read everything you can find about Roger Clemens, Nolan Ryan, or Greg Maddux, and compare that to what you know about Oliver Perez and Kip Wells. In order for the Pirates to improve in 2006, the players have to improve. And that will take study, sacrifice, perseverance, humility, and a lot of hard work.

Ballplayers work like dogs during the season. It's a hellish job, with all the travel, and one with a unique set of difficulties. Nobody understands what the players go through except the players. But no matter how hard they work in the season, they still have to keep at it in the off-season if they want to get better.

Last year, there was a sense during the off-season that everything might fall into place. Then look at our April. I don't know what the players did in the off-season, but it's obvious that whatever they did, they did wrong. April could not have been a bigger disaster.

If the fans expect better next April, I think they have to make that clear to the players. Framing the situation as one that will inevitably improve - as one in which only the management can fail - does not help. David Littlefield will have little influence on young pitchers who debate, some morning in December, whether or not they should study some film or whether or not they should just go party all week. Lloyd McClendon (or whoever the manager will be) will not be there when a player is tempted to overeat, to not do his maintenance workouts, or to make other bad decisions that will affect his preparation for 2006.

Littlefield could spend six million dollars hiring nannies and personal trainers and additional coaches for the players, so that they have all the help they need to make the off-season something that will prepare them for success in 2006. But if the players don't avail themselves of these resources, I don't see how this can be interpretd as a failure of management.

The responsibility for the team's play at the start of 2006 is on the players, not on the managers. There are some fairly obvious things the owner, the GM, the manager, and the various coaches could do to point these young men in the right direction. But that won't be enough.

These young men have unusually good opportunities to have an unusually lucrative and satisfying career. If they are given the impression that any degree of future success is simply inevitable, they are that much more likely to screw up those opportunities. Management may or may not do all the things on that checklist. What really matters is how much the players contribute to their own improvement.

Fight Club

Not sure what to make of this.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Game 127: Cardinals and Pirates

Chris Carpenter and Kip Wells.

Duke lives

He'll rub some dirt on it and not miss more than one start. Ed Eagle reports:

Fortunately for the Bucs, X-rays taken during the game were negative. And although Duke was limping around with his foot in a walking boot after the game, he's not expected to miss more than perhaps one start.

All hail that.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Felt something pop

As Bones says, Oh the humanity!

Game 126: Cardinals at Pirates

Jason Marquis and Zach Duke.

... while you are waiting, read Southpointbucco's post on Wigginton and Noonie at OnlyBucs.

Let Duke pitch

The pitch count that matters is number per inning. And Zach Duke's inning total is one thing, the number of pitches he has thrown this year, another. He has been effective and efficient all year, so the high inning total is somewhat deceptive. I doubt he's thrown that many pitches.

I worry more about a player pitching when he's tired. If he's had four or five days' rest, let him start. If he's ineffective and wears out in any inning, being it inning one or inning eight, then of course you remove him.

If I ran the circus, I'd let him take his regular turn the rest of the season. He needs experience. Let him see the league. Give him tape to study during the winter.

No way would I shut him down just to shut him down. Let him play out the string. Take him out when he labors, and let the inning count go as high as he can drive it. So long as he's not throwing 120 pitches to go five or six innings, I doubt there's anything to worry about. If he's effective and efficient, no one can say he's being poorly managed.

Welcome Ty

Wigginton's back, as John Perrotto and so many others report.

Sounds like the Bucs will start Mackowiak at second and Wigginton/Sanchez at third vs. righties, and Wigginton at third and Sanchez at second vs. lefties. But that's just a WAG based on the known platoon splits. Wigginton ran warm and freezing cold earlier in the year. Neither Wigginton nor Sanchez is much of an option vs. RHP, but Wigginton hit some righties before this April.

Odds are, Mac will play the shuffle boogie with the oppo research notebook and the Magic 8-ball.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Jose Castillo hurt

If he's out for some time, the Bucs could call up Bob Probert Ty Wigginton, or they can call up Jose Baustista.

I vote Probert for the rest of the Cardinals series. They are hanging by a thread, physically; throw the wrecking ball at them. If Ty fails to hit like crazy and spark the team, send him down and give Bautista the experience.

Game 126: Redbirds at Pirates

Mark Mulder and Josh Fogg. Given the Bucs' record against LHP and against the Cardinals, and given Josh Fogg's record against St. Louis, the odds of the Bucs winning this one must be something like one in five. Our hopes may lie with lefty-killer Freddy Sanchez.

I'll be watching Jose Castillo throughout this homestand, to see if he can start hitting at home.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Legal history of piracy

Nyar. And I thought the golden age of Piracy was the 1970s.

Eldred homers off a LHP

That should help balance the strange YTD splits for the right-handed slugger.

Sure, Eude Brito was a minor-league lefty a short while ago, but we'll take it. Any excuse for a toast ... so ... all hail Brad Eldred, may it one of hundreds of black-and-gold home runs off left-handed pitching!

...just thought of something. If Brad let his hair grow real long and did not wash it, then we could call him ... El Dread.

He's probably heard that one before ...

Game 125: Pirates at Phillies

The season is winding down quickly. 1:35pm, Mark Redman and someone named Brito.

This Eude Brito throws left-handed, so we should watch to see if the right-handed Brad Eldred can hit him. When he starts pounding the left-handed pitchers, then we'll start see what he could be at this level.

Light at the end of the tunnel

"I don't know if everybody's seeing the end of the tunnel or what, but it just seems like the whole atmosphere around here has changed a little bit over the last 10 days," veteran reliever Rick White said. "I guess you can attribute that to the fact we're playing playoff-contention teams."

As I get over the disappointment of this season, I'm agreeing more and more with those who think the Pirates could contend one of these next few years.

Paul Meyer, who reported that quote, found an even more optimistic scout:

A scout last night suggested "the Pirates are closer to winning than people think. If [Oliver] Perez comes back like he was last season and the kid [Zach Duke] is for real, they have a chance to have the best pitching staff in the league."


"Staff," the scout said. "They have two left-handers [Mike Gonzalez, John Grabow] in the bullpen who are in the top 10 percent in the major leagues."

Food for thought -- at least.

Link here.