Saturday, July 15, 2006

Game 92: Nationals at Pirates

Astacio and Snell tonight.

Pirates of the Caribbean 2

We skipped the game and saw this film last night -- it was good, like Raiders of the Lost Ark, with obvious Star Wars elements, in an early American setting.

DK Q+A

DK addresses the inequitable economic system in baseball in this week's Q+A. Of course the question is moot for the Bucs until DL is run out of town, but how long will it be until MLB has one of these newfangled equitable economic systems?

Friday, July 14, 2006

Game 91: Nationals at Pirates

Ramon Ortiz and Zach Duke.

Trading Sean Casey

The Sporting News reports Casey could wind up in San Francisco.

On the non-blockbuster front, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that the Pirates could deal Sean Casey to the Giants if they can't work out a long-term extension. Joe Randa, Jeromy Burnitz and Craig Wilson are all likely to head out of the Steel City as well; unfortunately for Pirates fans, it doesn't seem that the same can be said for GM Dave Littlefield.

Casey's career has shown that he's good in limited doses and bad when playing game after game after game. Tracy went to the well more than once too often after Casey returned from his injury. Casey needs regular rest. He'll probably come back from the ASB and hit real well for a week. Then he'll go 0-for-16 over a four-game stretch. Two weeks of 660 OPS later, Tracy will give him one day off.

Casey should be starting five days a week, and he should be getting days off even after an 8-for-12 series. Endurance is not his middle name. The Pirates have plenty of guys who can play first for a game or two. It is the easiest position to fill. It should not be difficult to find time off for Casey by playing the usual platoon advantages with the corner outfielders and middle infielders capable of manning first.

This is another example of how the Pirates fail to get the most from the players they have. Littlefield once talked about flexibility, but Tracy has been anything but flexible. Certain players must conform to certain narrow expectations. When they don't, Tracy takes a page out of G. Ogden's playbook and demonstrates an inflexible patience that only makes the matter worse. This macho stubbornness may look good in the mirror, but it's not been effective as a strategy for managing our young ballclub.

The Pirates won't recognize Casey for what he is. So like most of you, I hope they do not sign him to an extension--at any cost. Even if he's cheap, he's a Loser if he clogs the first-base position with daily 770-820 OPS production.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

G. Ogden Nutting vs. the woman who hit Big Ben

Rick Pedone of the Osceola News-Gazette compares their charms.

How about them Penguins?

We can find things to talk about while we give the old cold shoulder to Nutting's losers.

The Penguins released their schedule for the upcoming season.

Can anyone recommend a small handful of Penguins sites? We could use some non-Pirate-related reading material for the slow moments here in our drinking room.

Near-death experience

Ben is now the hero of a soap opera. "Playmakers" was all wrong. The next television drama based on the NFL should be much more like "General Hospital."

Irate

On the Irate front, Steve Z. of IrateFans eloquently argues for a public audit of the Pirates' books. IrateFans also has a nice set of new essays from Jim Krug on Baseball Mogul mockery of DL, Charlie on detailing the DL blunders, and Pat on abandoning all hope.

News of other bloggy goodness brings: Charlie arguing against and even pleading with DL not to resign Casey. I wholeheartedly agree with Charlie and most others here: signing Casey to a 3-year, $18,000,000 deal would be sheer insanity. Billy and Zeke came within 5-10 feet of evil, greedy, master loser Ogden Nutting while wearing their authentic IratesFans t-shirts at the ASG.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Jason Schmidt thinks Pirates not bad

John Perrotto talked to Jason Schmidt for the Beaver paper.

Schmidt makes my point exactly--the team is not that bad. Sure, the rotation has not been good. I don't think they should be a pennant contender.

But 30-60 is far too bad. There must be, under normal conditions, something like a 1% chance of a team with this much raw talent winning only 30 of the first 90 games.

It's suspicious. I reject the bad luck hypothesis. Something is very wrong with this organization.

The irony of Schmidt's comments is that, when Schmidt was a Pirate, I always suspected him of malingering and saving his body for his next club. Perhaps this is because I'd be inclined to do the same thing if I was a player on this team.

The underperformance has been too consistent to expect it to stop. What happens if Littlefield signs great players, makes great trades, and fields a team that, on paper, ought to win 90 games? With no other changes, I expect that team would win 80.

They fall into slumps, stop reading the standings every day, hate going to the ballpark, and sleepwalk their way through games, bemoaning their bad luck and resenting the fact that they can't speak candidly to the press. That's no way to compete.

The organization follows the example of the ownership. Until the owners come out and prove otherwise, all evidence points to them being chisellers with no great desire to win. They conceal their intentions behind a shifting cloud of PR fakery.

Selig lies through teeth

Perrotto reports on Bud Selig vigorously defending the Nuttings:

"There is an accounting for every revenue-sharing dollar and I can honestly say I've never had a club who pays into revenue sharing question where their money is going," Selig said. "We would never allow a club not to use the money to make their team better. That's not happening and it is not happening."
Wow. In sentence one, Selig uses DL tactic of diverting attention with meaningless garble. Just because teams that pay don't question how the money is spent doesn't mean that the Bucs spend all of their revenue sharing money on making the Bucs better (which they obviously don't). In sentence two, Selig employs the Tracy tactic of creating confusion with the double negative. In sentence three, Selig displays the Nutting tactic of outrageous redundant lying with minimal information content.

Is Selig a "scared little man ... cowering to pressure?" Either way, so much for my hope of Selig and MLB wresting control of the Bucs out of the Nuttings' evil, greedy vise-grip. That leaves civil charges (punitive damages), criminal charges, and Senate investigation.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

All-Star game

OK, I am generally against these things, the All-Star game, the Hall of Fame, the batting title race, the Rookie of the Year race, etc., as distractions from winning and losing. And with the Pirates a stunning, mind-blowing, hard-to-believe 30-60 at the break, it's even harder to not regard such trumpery without irritation.

But the game is in our beloved park, and J. Bay is hitting fourth, and Freddy of all people could make an appearance. So raise your hand if you are watching the All-Star game, and raise your glass if you have one. To our park, the greatest of parks!

And let's go you Buccos.

A source of the problem

Tom Glavine calls out the Nuttings.

"I don't know the ins and outs of what's going on here with the ownership group, but you have to take a look at that and see if that's a source of the problem," Glavine said. "You have teams over the past few years that weren't doing well before, but they're doing well now. You have to ask that question: Have the economics of those other teams changed so dramatically? Or have the people who run those organizations done a better job of putting a team together?"
All hail Tom Glavine! (Huh, never thought I'd type that.)

Later in the article, DK quotes A.J. on Mack-o-wack's learned helplessness:

A.J. Pierzynski ... said a losing culture can be blamed, too. He said he and teammate Rob Mackowiak, formerly of the Pirates, often discussed the difference in the atmosphere that built the White Sox into a champion last year and the one in Pittsburgh.

"Rob would always say how bad it was, how hard it was to come to the park," Pierzynski said.

Freddy

Looks good in the uniform.

So does Jay Bay.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Pirates' popularity tumbling

Harris Interactive does polling to determine the popularity of baseball clubs. I remember seeing the last one of these - it is probably discussed somewhere in the archives - which reported that the Pirates were a top ten team. As in, one of the ten-most popular baseball clubs in the nation.

This high ranking, obviously, had little to do with recent won-loss records. And it could hardly be the product of the size of the team's market. The fact that the Pirates were ranked at #8 as recently as last year testifies to the loyalty of Pittsburgh fans, who, in my experience at least, are raised to root for one team only. They rarely go over to the dark side when they move to another section of the country.

Well, surprise surpise, that's changing, at least according to this Puget Sound Business Journal report describing the most recent poll, in which our good friends in Seattle spread the word, on the eve of the All-Star game, of "Seattle up, Pittsburgh down." The Pirates have fallen to #21.

Home run derby

Nice uniforms.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Institutionalized futility

The editors of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette call out the Nuttings.

All hail the Post-Gazette.

Game 90: Pirates at Phillies

Duke vs. Hamels. Tied at 2 after two. Phils are resting Ryan Howard and playing Noonie instead.

Sucky Saturday

Went to the game last night, only to see Maholm give up 4 runs in the first inning. I've heard there isn't a safety zone at Citizens, but thats not an excuse. Very boring game. The only excitement was a lone homerun by Bay in the the 6th. On the plus side, Pittsburgh fans were out in high numbers!

House for Sale

Michael O'Keefe surveys the state of baseball in western PA for the New York Daily News. If you have friends or family wondering why you just can't wait another year for the team to be good, this link provides the start of a good answer.

All-Star game publicity stunts

Spike shares his inspired genius in the comments about ideas for All-Star game publicity stunts. My favorites are #1 ("Sinking of a symbolic pirate ship in the Allegheny with giant paper mache heads of Littlefield, Nutting and Tracy on board.") and #7 ("Flyer brigade hands out copies of Jim Leyland's resume to everyone entering the PNC Park area.").

IrateFans plans to make a showing on Monday, July 10th from 6 to 10 a.m. at Pittsburgh’s SoHo restaurant on Federal Street across the street from PNC Park, where ESPN will be broadcasting live. What if an angry mob showed up, wielding protest signs of Bob Nutting, Jr.'s ugly mug with devil horns? What if Bob's daughters later witnessed the protest on the news and demanded "Daddy, why do these people hate you?"

Back to Spike's ideas, a few hundred Pirates fans in attendance at the All-Star game with IrateFans or "Anything is better than Nutting" shirts would likely not attract a huge amount of attention from Fox and the national media. But a (burning) symbolic pirate ship with giant paper mache heads of DL, Ogden, Bob Jr., and Jim sinking in the Allegheny during the 7th inning stretch? Now that would turn some heads!

Pittsburgh just sits there

Wilbur has written another excellent piece for OnlyBucs.net on DL's lack of effort:

"... while other teams are working hard to discover ways of acquiring talent without breaking the bank, the Pirates are just sitting there. This is a team that leaves no stone unturned when it comes to squeezing a few extra dollars out of its customers, whether it's prevailing upon the city to ban T-shirt vendors who might drain off a little of the owners' merchandising revenue, or imposing water bottle bans. Until the Pirates apply some of that determination and ingenuity to their on-field product, they can expect to flail away indefinitely behind the teams that are really trying."

DK Q+A

DK answered questions on Friday. In this miserable year of Pirates baseball, DK's reporting has been one of the few bright spots. Too bad though that this year being refreshingly honest has usually meant being extremely depressing. This week, DK lowers the expectations for the trade deadline, predicting that "no true prospects will be acquired, partly because what is offered has little value" and instead we'll get the usual collection of "Class AAA players no one else wants". DK surmises: "If every move is aimed at improvement in the next year or two, one could argue, then the future never really arrives."