Saturday, October 29, 2005

Brad Eldred

En fuego.

Mesa, White, and Meadows file for free agency

So long, fellas. Thanks for the memories. The link is the classic 12 inning 8-7 win over the D-backs on Sept. 8th. Tony Clark jacks Mesa, but Bay comes right back and ties it. Cota wins it in the 12th. One of the most memorable games of the year for me. White got the win. Joe came in and gave up the lead with sudden, efficient violence. Mesa leaves as fifth all-time on the Bucs save list with 70. I think Mesa is a class act, and I wish him the best of luck. Who's gonna throw long toss with Torres?

(Runner-up Mesa-White-Meadows memory of '05 is the 6-3 win over the Marlins on July 26th when Lawton went apeshit, going 4-for-4 and swiping 3. Bucs turned 4 double plays and Mesa saved his 25th.)

Thursday, October 27, 2005

HW pick 'em week 8

I did OK last Sunday (6-3) but still doubt I have a handle on what's going on in the NFL this year (32-43 YTD). When you're a loser, you better scale back. When I string together consecutive strong weeks, then I will move forward and again pick ten or more games per week. If I can't string together consecutive strong weeks, eventually I'll scale back to one or no games a week and rid the earth of one more worthless handicapper.

This week, I have only seven picks: Detroit, New York Giants, Philadelphia, Kansas City, Jacksonville, Buffalo, and Pittsburgh. Jacksonville is a great buy on our website, where the line gives them a point and a half. Even if this is a typo for Jax -1.5, it's still a good deal I think.

I count 102 games in the books, so you need 51 games to qualify for the lead in our pool. alien1011 leads with his .567 percentage on 67 games. Slow Country 21 was the stud of week 7 with the 11-3 performance. All hail these guys.

If you are new to the blog and curious, you can still get into our pool. It's free. Link with instructions here.

Littlefield's off-season work

Chris Kucharski has some new posts at his usually-quiet Trib-R Bucco Blog. Also see Dejan Kovacevic's Q & A and Ed Eagle's interview with Littlefield.

I have posts working on most of the subjects he raises. If my drafts were more temperate, I'd be closer to a whole series of posts about the 2005 and 2006 rosters. Now is the time for us to debate the offseason moves.

Kucharski suggests:

Trade analysis: The Pirates should swing for the fences when making a trade. Don't forget though. You have to give up something to get something. That's why it is important for Littlefield to get the right guy. Tracy or Dunn would be my first choices, and I would give up anyone except Zach Duke to get either one. They both can play two positions, which gives you some flexibility. If they trade for someone, they might have to resort to free agency to fill one of the other holes, even if that means going back to those mid-tier free agents. Bottom line: Here is what I would like to see: Trade Oliver Perez, Ian Snell, Jeff Miller and Humberto Cota for Dunn. Sign Bill Mueller to play third base. Sign Tom Gordon to be your closer. Dunn has two more years of arbitration left and then would become a free agent for the 2008 season. He made $4.6 million this past season and should make around $6 million this year. This would add around $15 million to the payroll next season.

The Pirates need a Jason Bay-caliber bat to play 155-160 games. Odds are they can only find that in RF and/or 1B.

All the other needs are secondary.

I saw Sanchez tear through September, and I noted Mackowiak's struggles in centerfield (playing him there for a whole month was McClendon's worst decision of 2005, in my opinion). So I don't think third base is that great a problem. A Sanchez/Mackowiak platoon at third could be great. Sanchez hit .326/.369/.459 against left-handers. Rob Mackowiak hit .312/.385/.471 as a third baseman, and Mackowiak saw few lefties in there (he can't hit them). Mackowiak's 2005 stats suck mainly because of the awful numbers he posted as an out-of-position CF (.202/.261/.290).

I would trade Zach Duke. His future is Mark Buehrle-esque. That's awesome, but we have a lot of starting pitching. You have to trade off the top of your deck if you expect to get a top-notch player in return. I am not eager to trade Zach Duke. Rather I think we have enough in the soft-tossing lefty department to dangle him for the kind of hitter we so need.

I would love to sell Oliver Perez high and invest that money into a steady hitter. The Pirates can't afford dot-com stocks like Ollie. He went past the point of no return for me this season. I don't trust him to get his act together and patiently dominate the league for another season.

Kip Wells I would give away. See how I have no credibility? I think Kip Wells has proven that his ceiling is in the Brett Tomko / Ramon Ortiz / Jimmy Anderson level. He had his chances to prove otherwise. If we can keep him at low cost as a fifth starter, then I'm OK but not happy. In the meantime, I roll my eyes at all talk of him breaking out into a bona fide #1 or #2 starter.

Regardless, at this point the Pirates should be willing to trade anyone. Bay would be my only untouchable.

Adam Dunn will be frightfully expensive in a year or two. That is the kind of player we need, though. I would seriously explore what it would take to get him for two years. Could we get a FA like Brian Giles for just one year? If we could, I think that would be wise.

I also think Chad Tracy would make a good fit.

Hank Blalock looks like a good target, too. He can't hit lefties so he would need a platoon partner.

Another guy I'd consider is Lyle Overbay. He's not worth Zach Duke, but he's steady. We've learned that we can't depend on streaky types like Craig Wilson. When they slump viciously, the team falls into a deep hole. Like an overmatched power-running football team, the Pirates have to begin 2006 with the strategy of Staying in the Game.

Jermaine Dye, Series MVP

Score one for the proven veteran.

Heath Miller, ROY?

Someone at the USAT speculates it could happen.

All hail the White Sox

Sweeps are sweet. The very best kind of Series victory.

Not that any kind of Series victory is bad.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Home-field advantage

The USAT looks at all the home-field success this year in the NFL.

This explains Mojo's success with the pick 'em strategy he described last week.

FWIW, if any other pool players want to write a paragraph or two explaining some approach to picking games against the spread, email them in.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Wallach, Ventura not interested

John Perrotto reports that the Pirates have so far failed to recruit a hitting coach from outside the organization.

Hopefully it was not about money. More than any team in the league, the Pirates need the best coaches. They do so much player development at the big-league level.

The Pirates need to turn themselves into a research university if they hope to figure out how to contend with this roster. What would have a probable greater return on investment, an additional $2M invested in outfielders, or an additional $2M toward better coaching?

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Steelers at Bengals

Throw the runner down after he's out of bounds.

...quote of the day:

"I know they treated this like a measuring stick, to see how they compared to us," Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu said, "and we wanted to see how we stacked up to them, as sort of the new kids on the block. It was like they wanted a piece of us, and we came out to show them, hey, that's not necessarily a good thing to wish for."

...and quoth the Undertaker:

"That's just us," said offensive right tackle Max Starks. "Nothing fancy. Play our style, don't panic, do what we do. Beat up on people, make enough plays in the passing game, and kind of impose our will on [our opponents]. Not a bad formula."

These are from Pasquarelli's article now up at the ESPN site.