Saturday, August 05, 2006

Game 111: Pirates at Cubs

Zach Duke and Mark Prior. Four o'clock. The Pirates are 42-58.

How much does Mark Prior remind you of Oliver Perez? He ain't right this year.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Pirates beat Zambrano

Box score here. Gorzelanny and Nady had big days; Castillo and Paulino homered. When's the last time the Pirates beat Carlos Zambrano? Long time ago or never, I would guess. That mofo has owned the Pirates.

Game 110: Pirates at Cubs

Tom Gorzelanny and Carlos Zambrano at two. The Pirates go for win number 42.

Some links from the Post Gazette: the Pirates signed Vladimir Guerrero; the Pirates have the worst defensive efficiency in the majors; and then there is the Q & A full of trade analysis.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Game 108: Braves at Pirates

Horacio Ramirez and Paul Maholm at seven.

Chris Duffy looks like a #8 hitter to me, but what do I know. It's probably good for the development of our young starters. If they can't learn to pitch well without a lead, they'll never make it in this town.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Game 107: Braves at Pirates

Smoltz and Snell at seven.

last word on Shealy

Joe Starkey answers the question for the Trib-Review. The Rockies asked for Mike Gonzalez straight up, Starkey reports, and David Littlefield never returned their call. This more or less confirms what I suspected, which is that Littlefield did not want Shealy. The fans wanted Shealy, and the Pirates were happy to string them along to keep their attention. (Today's Denver Post article also confirms that the Rockies waited until the deadline not for the Pirates to match the Royals' lame offer, but for the Red Sox to decide on a deal involving Coco Crisp.) The Pirates were not serious about adding this player.

I'd guess that the "problem" with Shealy, in Littlefield's eyes, is that, like Aramis Ramirez and Chris Shelton, Shealy's defense is not good enough for our groundball pitchers.

Gonzalez straight up for a young hitter of Shealy's ability, with no service time, would have been more than fair. It's a trade the Pirates should have made, not just because they need a first baseman, but also because they need to break from worn, stubborn circle of that Proven Loser logic which has brought them to where they are today in the standings. Littlefield is not very good at being a GM. I see no reason to expect that he will learn from his mistakes. And the ownership group has given me no reason to believe they would know how to go about finding and hiring a new GM.

The fate of the team lies with the young players we have now in the system. We've seen how Littlefield pursues the addition of talent by trade and by free agency, and we've seen how he fails to learn from his mistakes. He has his way, and he's sticking to it. Nevermind that time has shown it's a Proven Loser way. Players will come and go, but if the Pirates get good ones of the kind they need most, it will be as much the result of luck as it is the result of planning. In other words, it's up to the young players we have now, and there's no reason to expect that help is on the way.

Stats Geek

Brian O'Neill does thinking so we don't have to.

Chris Duffy

Will Carroll reports:

How bad is it in Pittsburgh? Chris Duffy, who took a month off after getting sent down, was angry to be called up! He was expecting to be traded. "I don't like it there," he told Pirates officials. "I did all this hoping to get traded."

Classic. I like him even better now.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Trade deadline or Sheriff's sale?

After further reflection, the sheriff's sale strikes me as a good metaphor for today's trade deadline activity. Sorely deliquent in the win columns, the tawdry Pirate household endures foreclosure. The rest of the league showed up, sniffed and poked, shook their head. They took much of the furniture. There goes that pool table, there goes that hot tub. There goes the crystal, the everyday china, that sports car which looks good but cannot get you to work and back reliably. And so and so forth. Some of the items got more than I might expect. Others got about what I expected, but nothing got more than twenty cents on the original dollar. It was sad.

Trading whatever it took to land Shealy would have provided a good distraction. And evidence that the Pirate household had changed its ways. No more would they trade Aramis Ramirezes, squander Chris Sheltons, or acquire Jeromy Burnitzes. It would be nothing but high-ceiling prospects at three years for one million dollars.

Regardless, whatever, it was nothing as bad as the team's current record.

Grade the day

What do you think of all these trades?

Littlefield loses Shealy bidding

ESPN is now confirming that the Royals acquired Ryan Shealy and another player for Jeremy Affeldt and Denny Bautista. I don't know how the Pirates will explain themselves, but it's pretty much a huge disappointment to miss out on such a rare opportunity to acquire that kind of talent.

No Ryan Shealy

No reports so far of Shealy going anywhere. Dejan Kovacevic rounds up the deals we've already heard about. From his use of the past tense, it sounds like the day is over. That may be standard journalisteese. And he does not mention deal or no deal. We'll know soon enough.

Craig Wilson to New York Yankees

Commenter el jefe says "coiffed karl ravitch" now reports the Yankees have acquired No. 36.

... Clay says ESPN has Shawn Chacon joining the Pirates for Craig Wilson. Go get a ring, Craiggers. And cut your hair and shave all that shit off your face.

Kip Wells to Texas

The Rangers acquired Kip Wells, who is going home to Texas. Link is Ken Rosenthal.

... Littlefield gets a ten-gallon hat and three new pairs of boots.

... 4:13pm ... Seriously, Gordon Edes says the Red Sox did not like Kip's medical records and ESPN reports the Pirates get RHP Jesse Chavez.

Oliver Perez and Roberto Hernandez to New York

For Xavier Nady. Link soon. This news comes from ESPN's Jayson Stark. And from Clay and Brian L.

... Jon Heyman of confirms the Pirates get Xavier Nady. My first reaction was good riddance, good job getting something for the Superflake. My second reaction is good trade, but we need to see what else happens today to get a proper context.

Kip to Boston?

For real this time. Rotoworld reports that ESPN reports that a Kip Wells to Boston trade is close. DK reports a deal looks close as well. If Nixon's hurt, I'd think the Red Sox might want Burnitz to platoon with Wily Mo. Call me crazy.

And here I thought the Red Sox were just doing their best to jam everyone's phone line.

Down to the wire

Just under an hour. Within the next 90 minutes or so, we should know what went down and what did not go down.

... the Mets might want to jump into that relief-pitcher market all of a sudden. Get well, Duaner. Milledge for Roberto!

Red Sox asking about Kip

Gordon Edes of the Boston Globe says one of his Pittsburgh sources says the Red Sox are talking to the Pirates about Kip Wells today. FWIW.

PG chat

Kovacevic is killing them in the chat this afternoon. Their java won't allow cutting and pasting, so we'll have to wait for the final transcript to quote some choice lines.

... here it go. You can find the funnies on your own. Walker? Altoona? Soon? Have I been living in a cave?

Boston gets attention

Nick Cafardo reports (around 1pm) that Boston appears to be locked in a stalemate with a number of clubs. They have made demands the Red Sox won't meet. They want "Jon Lester, Jonathan Papelbon, Craig Hansen, Manny DelCarmen, Dustin Pedroia."

One team could hold up dozens of trades if they drop their hints correctly. Since trading - theoretically - improves all parties, it might be smart to do what you could to prevent other teams from making trades. If you like your team, and if you don't think you can much improve it by making trades, why not do what you can to gum the rest of the league's player movement? No good could come of it, so why not stall and stall and hope to prevent your competitors from improving themselves?

At some point, teams must give up on coy suitors and make the best available offers.

Pirates enter Soriano chase

Sike, we wish that was the news. Interesting line from Will Carroll's report on the Marlins calling for Soriano:

The more involved issue is the potential shadow of the new CBA, with teams worried that a de facto salary floor might be put in place. Teams that have bottomed out the payroll would rather not make Royal-style veteran mediocrity signings, and are looking to see if there are fits or long-term signings that would make the bottom line more favorable looking to the teams writing revenue sharing checks.

With the players looking up to Florida as getting it right, we'd hope the Pirates front office would pay attention to this point. Last November, before the Casey signing, the Randa signing, and the Burnitz signing, some half-drunk blogger argued the Pirates should do likewise with their money. There's the issue of one guy making tons more than all the other guys, but I doubt this is a problem when that one guy is really good. It's far worse, I further guess, to have a handful of mediocre guys making a lot more money than everyone else.

I'd love to see the Pirates go into 2007 with one bona fide top-tier free-agent acquisition and a cast of pre-arb competitors.

More on Boston; Toronto seeks SS

Gordon Edes writes about the Red Sox working to send Mike Lowell to San Diego and get Ryan Shealy from Colorado.

Why would Colorado participate in a three-way deal that strengthens their division rival? Either they have a low opinion of Lowell, and want to inflict him on San Diego, or they are bluffing interest to get more from Kansas City or Pittsburgh, or they are not in the business to win anything this year.

The same notebook entry notes that Toronto has been in the market for a shortstop.

Shealy to Boston?

The Red Sox want Shealy this morning, the Boston Herald reports, and have been working on a three-way deal with Colorado and San Diego.

Jack Wilson demanded trade?

Will Carroll reports "The Pirates appear ready to make some minor deals, though sources tell me that Jack Wilson all but demanded to be traded over the weekend." That's in his "Will's Mill" rumor page at Baseball Prospectus. Let's say this rumor is true. What's eating at Jack?

Sean Casey traded to Detroit

Ken Rosenthal reports for Fox Sports that Detroit gets Sean Casey for a minor-league pitcher. Chris Shelton has been pretty wretched since about April 30.

... minor-league right-hander Brian Rogers, a AA reliever.

... Shelton demoted. Looks like the Mayor at first and the Meathook at DH.

So Comfy

eBay surfing: Dick's service station. Beer cans. Bucco Power. Paul Waner matchbook. Tap handle. "So comfy".

Thousands cheer Big Ben's every move

One of the top five most-emailed stories from today's Post-Gazette.

2pm chat

The Post-Gazette will have one of their chats later with beat reporter Dejan Kovacevic. Line up the burning questions such as "Could Jose Hernandez play right field?" or "Is it wise to break up this team now that they are on a winning roll?"

Denver Post: Shealy prob. traded today

Troy E. Renck and Patrick Saunders describe the situation for their young slugger:

Kansas City and Pittsburgh continue to pursue Shealy, and he remains on the back burner for Baltimore and the New York Yankees, increasing the likelihood he will be traded before today's 2 p.m. nonwaiver deadline.

Evidence of Shealy's rising value came during the past two days. The Royals offered left-handed reliever Jeremy Affeldt and a minor-league prospect, and the Pirates became open to trading left-handed reliever John Grabow and an additional player, with center fielder Nate McLouth a possibility. . . .

The Rockies have turned down Affeldt for Shealy straight up. The Rockies want multiple players and have to be satisfied with each to move Shealy, with one scout saying the Rockies are afraid he could turn into their Travis Hafner.

Nate Silver's PECOTA card for Ryan Shealy lists these players as comparable: Derrek Lee, Deron Johnson, Butch Huskey, Richie Sexson, Josh Phelps, Travis Hafner, John Ellis, Joe Adcock, Bucky Jacobsen, Gus Triandos, and, further down the list, Carlos Lee and Sid Bream and Craig Wilson. Shealy's "similarity index" to this list is 56, indicating a "very common typology." In other words, he looks like "just another" Richie Sexson. If Littlefield wants another Jason Bay on the plus side of his trading ledger, Shealy's a smart gamble. Not a sure thing, of course, but a smart gamble.

The addition of McLouth's name to the trade-rumor pool grows that group to something like nine or ten men from the current 25-man roster.

They sell tickets

As Dejan Kovacevic notes, the team sold some tickets for this weekend's sweep of San Francisco.

Considering the insanely terrible won-loss record, it's amazing, bobbleheads or no, that they sell so many tickets right now.

It's the winning, I would guess. The All-Star Break was a good time and it put the city on its feet, baseball-wise. And since then the team has been decent to good, with only a few painfully bad adventures here and there.

Trading update

Dejan Kovacevic has more than I can summarize. Names include Sean Casey, Roberto Hernandez, Kip Wells, Joe Randa, Craig Wilson, Jeromy Burnitz, John Grabow, Ryan Shealy, Bill Stoneman, Miguel Tejada, Alfonso Soriano, and Salomon Torres.

Will Carroll notes that interest in Casey has fizzled because of his strained oblique.

Rob Rossi describes Casey's Pittsburgh days in the past tense.

Earlier on Sunday, Peter Abraham, beat reporter for the Journal News, wrote on his blog that the Pirates "snoozed" and "lose" in the talks with New York.

I wondered for a moment if the Trot Nixon injury would not ignite some Boston interest in Littlefield's favorite player, but then I remembered Trot is the lefty and the Bosox already have Wily Mo Pena.

For the very latest buzz, Ballbug is a cool Memeorandum-style bot summary of baseball news. I'm not sure when this launched, but I'll be checking it often on Monday.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

the Abreu trade vs. the Aramis trade

So, Pirate fans, now that the details of the Abreu trade are out, I ask you: is it as bad as the Aramis Ramirez trade? No doubt it's a salary dump of historic proportions.

The Phillies got a guy who is arguably a good and very young prospect, but Aramis was much more rough around the edges when he was traded. Abreu's one of the best players in the game, no doubt about it. And the Phillies got some debts cancelled for him, and little more.

... see Jim Salisbury. Also Joe Sheehan and Christina Karhl at BP.

... after some discussion in the comments, I come away thinking that the big difference between the Aramis salary dump and the Abreu salary dump is the way the teams went about it. Both teams wanted to save money. Both players had reputations for being "lollygaggers" or less-than-acceptable defensively. But the Phillies maintained the illusion of wheeling-and-dealing, of driving a hard bargain for Abreu. For months. And they stockpiled outfielders to give the fans the impression that there was a need to move one of the team's very best players to make time for guys like Shane Victorino and David Dellucci. The Pirates (after Benson came up hurt) traded Aramis abruptly. Neither team got much of anything for their star players, but the Phillies appear to have avoided the PR disaster that the Pirates inflicted upon themselves with the clumsy handling of their own salary dump.

Is it dishonorable to trade away top talent for mere cash saved? I would think so, but maybe not. The dishonor may not be the salary dump but the getting into the position where a salary dump is needed. But was it truly necessary? No bank seized Abreu to auction him off in a sheriff's sale.

Game 106: Giants at Pirates

Matt Morris and Zach Duke at one thirty.

... the Abreu to New York deal should expedite remaining trades. If Steven White's included, for example, then he's not joining the Pirates organization for Hernandez and/or Burnitz.

... Ken Rosenthal suggests the Pirates are out of the Shealy talks. What other first-base prospect could Littlefield be targeting? Or will we go with Jose Hernandez at first next year?

... rain delay on this one. Zach Duke pitched very well.

Twelve teams scouting Pittsburgh

Dejan Kovacevic reports twelve teams scouted the Pirates last night.

He also reports that the Rockies are believed to want John Grabow for Ryan Shealy. From what we know, which is "not much of anything," the Rockies are sitting on that offer for Jeremy Affeldt. Affeldt? If I'm Colorado, I keep waiting.

I can understand why the proven contenders are not so interested in the unproven Shealy. He's a player with much more value to the Pirates than to, say, the Red Sox.

Hell yeah I'd give them Grabow for Ryan Shealy. That's the kind of chance the Pirates must take if they ever hope to raise their ship from the deep.

I make the trade unless, of course, Grabow can play first as well as he pitches. Then I'd keep Grabow and move him there. I like John Grabow.

The rest of the article is interesting in that it features Bay and Jack Wilson looking up to the Florida Marlins.

... now behind the pay wall at Baseball Prospectus, Will Carroll reports that three teams, including the Reds, are asking about Craig Wilson. "But once again," he writes, "the Pirates are asking for the moon. Here's hoping DL gets something at least moon-like for No. 36.