Friday, August 25, 2006


Jon Heyman for writes that the Pirates went "bust" in 2006.

There are reasons general partner Kevin McClatchy turned into a hermit at the All-Star festivities. For one, it was no time to be festive. For another, he didn't want to have to explain why his seemingly improved team had virtually the same record as the Royals.

This has to be hard on a newspaper owner like McClatchy, who's used to turning out garbage while paying his workers peanuts and still making big profits. Unfortunately for him, the standards are a tad higher in baseball. Word is, a frustrated McClatchy may recede even further into the background and allow others, such as chairman Bob Nutting, to take a more active role.

That's right, someone writing for Sports Illustrated calls the content of newspapers garbage. I don't usually think of magazines as being all that better than newspapers, but what do I know?

And he may have his point. At least I'd like to think the standards are higher in baseball. Not sure right now. Maybe.

Game 129: Astros at Pirates

Clemens and Santos in a few.

20-18 since the All-Star break

The record since the All-Star Break does not impress me, and it does not give me a whole lot of hope for 2007. Any collection of middling professionals should manage a .500 record; such a win rate must always be the most likely outcome of many games.

When the Pirates went 30-30 to start the 2004 season, then I was excited. Not because the team was at .500, but because they had just won something like 20 of 30 to get to that mark. They were playing very well and winning at a .600+ clip for several weeks at a time.

Then they went to New York and Boston and played like the Washington Generals.

We all know that team was no good, and this current team has done nothing to show us they are any better. There may be nothing a team can do to redeem a 30-60 start short of 48-24 finish.

Expecting a ballclub to play .500 ball ranks right up there with expecting your teenage children not to get arrested. It's not much of an expectation. And it's one the Pirates have consistently missed year after year.

It's possible to enjoy winning a series from the slumping Braves, and to enjoy beating the slumping Astros, and it's fun to follow the pursuit of individual milestones like a batting-average championship. There's enough to like about the team; there's no shame in following them or pulling for them. But any talk of there being clear signs the Pirates are turning the corner--that's premature. They remain Losers with a capital "L" until the standings suggest otherwise.

Kovacevic Q & A

Questions were asked, questions were answered.

I disagree with Dejan on the subject of Adam Dunn. He would earn that money, so the money would be well spent. There are a small group of predictably, consistently good hitters who would also justify a big salary.

No one should take our current players for granted. There's no guarantee that Jason Bay or Freddy Sanchez, for example, will continue to be healthy and continue to play at a high level. The Pirates need much, much more offense before they will be more than a mediocre team. The team can't wait for Latin American teenagers if they want to be good in this decade. Payroll is not a poor way to invest money provided, of course, that the Pirates choose the right players to sign.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Game 128: Astros at Pirates

Wandy Rodriguez and Paul Maholm at seven.

Ian Snell

Is Ian Snell more jacktastic or walkeriffic? His HR/9 rate is 1.25, and his BB/9 rate is 3.45. Which one of those numbers is more of a concern?

Regardless, he could be our opening-day starter for 2007. He's been our best pitcher this year.

Dewan's Fielding Bible

How has John Dewan's Fielding Bible held up this summer? Mike Berardino's report for The Sporting News suggests the players are aware of his research. Does it command the respect of most teams these days? Are there plans to make it an annual? The 2005 stats are of little interest at this point.

I wonder if this book has had an influence on Littlefield and/or Tracy. If not, where do they get their crazy ideas about the significance of defensive abilities (relative to offensive skills)?

Victor Diaz

Think the Pirates will claim Victor Diaz off waivers from the Mets? They DFA'd him to make room for Shawn Green.

He's right-handed so I do not expect Littlefield to want him.

... and you know what, he's having an awful year at 24. I'd want to know why before I'd claim him.

Braves quashed

At the end of Dejan Kovacevic's series-ending recap, he writes that the series win in Atlanta may end their "realistic hope" for a fifteenth consecutive playoff appearance. Make it so!

At 59-67, they had no business having hopes in the first place.

This weekend could bring record turnout

Dejan Kovacevic's notebook notes that the coming series with the Astros could result in record ticket sales for a four-game series.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Ogden Nutting stands in line

Seaks discovered this webpage covering a recent event in West Virginia. It has a picture of Ogden Nutting standing in line to hear President Bush discuss alternative uses for coal.

Game 127: Pirates at Braves

Emerging ace (?) Ian Snell and Tim Hudson at seven-thirty. Don't pitch like a little girl, Ian.

Yankees losing money

Cashman tells Bloomberg radio that the Yankees are not making money. And "The New York Daily News reported in December that the team lost between $50 million and $85 million last season." Cashman also talks about the team needing a new stadium to insure their long-term viability. What's not clear to me is how much such talk will get the team from taxpayers.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Game 126: Pirates at Braves

Shawn Chacon and Oscar Villareal at seven-thirty.

Stepson Sold!

For a brief instant, sanity prevails! Adios, Jose K. You're next, Mike Edwards.

Tigers and Pirates not alike

John Perrotto writes a good one. Go read it.

I wonder, though, if the acquisition of Pudge played an important part in the Ordonez signing. More likely, the overpaying of Ordonez played the only significant role.

This is one of the hidden costs of losing: the more you lose, the more you have to pay to get the talent you need to win again.

Fortunately, the Pirates should have a ton of payroll freed up for the next few years. Get one top-level player this offseason, and add another one or two before 2008. That's what the Pirates would need to do to follow the Detroit plan.

Wanted: Left-handed bat

Dejan Kovacevic summarizes the current outlook for the 2007 season. The Pirates will try to acquire a Ryan Howard, Justin Morneau, Adam LaRoche, Nick Johnson-type player.

Good luck with that, Dave.

In other news, it will be fun to see J.R. House in town this weekend with the Astros. I have been following his minor-league performance this season and wondered when Houston would promote him. (Before you grasp at a connection, let me add that House is a right-handed hitter.)

Monday, August 21, 2006

Game 125: Pirates at Braves

Duke and Smoltz tonight. Smoltz, wow. His career has more or less spanned the entire losing-season streak of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Perhaps when he retires, the Pirates can be mediocre again.