Saturday, April 22, 2006

Game 19: Pirates at Astros

Ian Snell and Taylor Buchholz at seven eastern.

As for this comment from Ed Eagle:

Whatever it is that separates winning teams from losing teams on a game-by-game night, the Pirates just haven't been able to find it through the first 18 games of the season. Time after time, they have come so tantalizingly close to putting it all together only to suffer another gut-wrenching defeat.

Some guys have all the luck; some guys have all the pain; some guys get all the breaks; some guys do nothing but complain. I think Shakespeare said that.

I do think the Pirates have suffered as much from bad luck as they have suffered from bad play. But I also doubt such things even out over time. Since I think it's no great difficult thing to play .500 ball, I imagine the Pirates could pull together and play .500 ball the rest of the season. Since they've been through a run of bad luck, I doubt they can finish the year at .500. It could happen, but I don't expect it. I expect they could finish right where they are now - at eight games under .500. That would happen if there is more unexpected blossoming than the average team usually sees in one year.

And a lot of the forthcoming win-loss record depends on the continued development of young pitchers. So much, in fact, that predictions about a final win-loss record are pretty stupid. We just can't know. The easy prediction would be, some will straighten out and be good while others will not. The team could win 58 if none of the starters improve beyond mediocrity. Or they could win a lot more if they enter August with four aces.

We could talk more about the relative likelihood of this guy or that guy or these guys or those guys getting it together and pitching like top-quality players. I don't know what to make of Ollie. I still expect Tom Glavine-like things from Zach Duke. That may be irrational. Ian Snell I've always seen in the Ramon Ortiz mold. Victor Santos could be like Josh Fogg. Sean Burnett and Tom Gorgonzola look promising. Any of these guys, however, could be more anything two years from now. Young starters are that hard to project.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Game 18: Pirates at Astros

Zach Duke and a fish called Wandy at eight eastern.

Poor and getting worse

Hey - "What's wrong with you people, anyway?"

Dejan Kovacevic takes the John Perrotto suggestion one step further: all this is your fault, you loser fans! Your fault!

You fans had better get your act together. Otherwise, the players will never turn this season around. Put on the A-team theme, you know, and build them a cabbage cannon to blast them Astros.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Operation Crackpipe

Breaking story:

TAMPA, Fla. -- Former outfielder Derek Bell was charged with felony cocaine possession, police said Thursday.

Bell, 37, was pulled over for a traffic violation, Tampa police said.

"He was found with a crack pipe in the back seat of his car which was still warm," police spokesman Larry McKinnon said.

Bell is also charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, McKinnon said. Bell later told police the items were his.

(Thanks to fred for the tip.)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Day off

So the Bucs hit the anticpated one-day break with a record of 5-12. And a lot of guys are injured. Yikes.

Game 17: Cardinals at Pirates

Chris Carpenter and Victor Santos at noon-thirty eastern.

Jack Wilson

Wilson is on pace for 40 errors. And 40 walks in 570 at-bats. Also 101 runs, 101 RBI, 10 steals, and 41 home runs. Curious start.

I'm pretty sure he won't finish the year with a 995 OPS. When I compare it to April 2004, however, this current month looks as good or better.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Game 16: Cardinals at Pirates

Great day for baseball. Should be clear and in the sixties when Oliver Perez battles dead arm at seven eastern.

Your fault

One of my favorite kinds of sports writing is the essay that blames the fans for the team's poor performance.

The same people who complain that the Pirates should shake up the rotation are the same ones who beef about the club never fully giving its young players a chance.

This from "Yeah, they stink, but that's what you wanted" by John Perrotto.

My view is this. Fans can say whatever the hell they want to say. They can be as hypocritical and irrational as they want. People who expect calm, rational consistency to argument or observation should join a book club, and even then they will probably be disappointed. Such clarity rarely characterizes leisure-time diversions.

Following a sports team is a hobby. And it's a hobby, I think, that's good because you can do it carelessly. The fans have plenty of things to worry about - their health, their jobs, their families, you name it - and they don't need a scolding because they carry the teddy bear upside-down. Or sit him in the mud, and then complain that he's dirty.

This is not a comment so much on the start and end of Perrotto's otherwise good essay, but on the whole way some of us bicker and flame one another as the Pirates continue to disgrace the family name.

It's not fair, I think, to blame the fans for not rooting correctly. Or even for having ill-informed expectations. These things should be expected, tolerated, and maybe even encouraged. If you want more mature fans, you have accept the immature ones and retain them over the many years it can take to learn some first principles.

In other news, this team sucks. For example, did you see the bench last night? Mike Edwards, Humberto Cota, and Jose Hernandez. Not much different than Ben Grieve, Benito Santiago, and Abraham Nunez. They did a good job loading up on depth before the season, but it only took a few injuries to return them to this condition.

As soon as the pitchers begin a string of mediocre-to-good starts, the batters will stop scoring runs. That's what I expect. The pitchers can't be this bad much longer, and since the team now lacks several of its best hitters, opposing teams will have no problem avoiding our few good hitters in their best situations.

The only way the Pirates continue to score as many runs as they have been scoring: guys like Jose Castillo and Chris Duffy have to step up and play like stars. That, or the opposing teams have to use only the back end of the bullpen to protect their 7-0 leads.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Game 15: Cardinals at Pirates

The Bucs are bobbing along at six games under .500, the winners of four games in their last eight. Much of the good in the past week came from Craig Wilson, who takes home the NL Player of the Week award for his 10-RBI effort.

Tonight it's Jason Marquis and Paul Maholm.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Concentration and focus

Alan Robinson on the Pirates' coming decision on Ian Snell.

Game 14: Cubs at Pirates

Glendon Rusch and Ian Snell at 1:35pm eastern. With the win yesterday, the Pirates are 4-9, five games under .500.

Cubs blog wrong

Yesterday, Cubs blog The Cub Reporter had a piece titled "What You Need to Know About the Pirates". Overall, it's a fair summary of the Bucs from 1990-present, coming from a non-Pirates-fan. Interestingly, some commenters post haikus. But the second sentence (and the first bold-faced thing you need to know) is: "When their fans close their eyes at night, they see Sid Bream in their nightmares." Then a bit later:

Pinch-hitter Francisco Cabrera, rarely used during the regular season, came up and lined a single to left field -- Justice scored easily, and Bonds came up throwing, trying to get Bream and the piano he was carrying. His throw was just late, as Bream lumbered across the plate representing the winning run. All across western Pennsylvania grown men cried in their Iron Citys and young boys wondered what they had done to make God so mad at them.
Wow. Where to start? First, I've never had Sid Bream nightmares, nor do I know of any other Pirates fans who dream of Bream. I've never had a nightmare that I remember about baseball, but if I did, it'd probably include terrible visions like these. Anyway, one more time, for the record: Bream looked at strike three, so should have never reached first. Bream didn't "lumber across the plate". He slid (carrying piano) and clearly missed home plate with his lead foot. Spanky blocked the trailing leg and tagged Bream's ass out. Thanks for nothing, Randy Marsh. Elsewhere angry young men concluded there was no God.


Casey's fractures are in a transverse process of one his lower back vertebrae. Not good. No surgery, but out 6-8 weeks. DK points out that (1) Casey now has had three collision-induced injuries in eight months and (2) Casey's 7.5 mil + Wells' 4.2 mil = "nearly a quarter of the team's $47.1 million payroll is on the disabled list."

The Black Knight always triumphs! Have at you! Come on, then.

DK's dug up treasure

From DK's pre-Duke Saturday notebook: "Josh Fogg, released by the Pirates in December, is 2-0 with a 4.67 ERA for the Colorado Rockies. That is twice as many victories as the Pirates' entire rotation."

From DK's Sunday notebook: "The Pirates have two players in the top 80 for all-time strikeouts: Jose Hernandez has 1,353 and ranks 69th. Burnitz has 1,317 -- 15 already this season -- and ranks 80th." In other bad news, Doumit could be DL-bound.