Saturday, October 07, 2006
Friday, October 06, 2006
Dejan has long last chat. On who does what in the front office:
"Littlefield decides what to do with the money allotted to him. The major-league payroll and development money -- not the same thing, necessarily -- are placed in his hands. Thus, if you have a complaint -- as so many do -- about why so much more of it goes toward one-year rentals rather than building up a sound developmental system, this is where to aim it."So DL really has the decision over how much to invest in development? If so, this sounds like an inherently flawed system. Why should DL care to develop the Bucs beyond 2008, the year he will almost certainly be fired?
One of my favorite Bucs, Bob Walk, on the second half:
"As far as the winning now, I don't really think it means anything. I'm not convinced that finishing strong means anything. We can find examples, sure. The '87 team is one of them. But for every one we find, I can show you a team that did that, then did nothing the next year. Next year is next year. I don't think this will help us next season."Daily chats begin Nov. 27th. All hail DK!
If you haven't read them yet, Pat and Charlie both have excellent season recaps on how, exactly, this season sucked. Pat laments the questions unanswered and the regular Sisyphusian frustration of being a Pirates fan. Charlie highlights some explanations for what went wrong, gives some props for what went right, debunks the second half improvement, then ends with a depressing commentary on how the Bucs are built to win 65-75 and any deviation from that won't be by design and won't last until we have a change in the ownership group.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Moving on to the second and third parts of the preseason poll, I admit to crapping my pants with the Reds-in-the-cellar prediction. In my defense I was in good company, and at least was right about the Bucs not finishing in the basement.
As for the other predictions, perhaps Vlad was the most prescient with: "Jeromy Burnitz will go over like a can full of botulism". For $6 million, Burnitz put up an ungodly .230/.289/.422 with 74 Ks in 313 ABs. Symptoms of botulism completely overlap with those induced by the 2006 Bucs and include: difficulty speaking, facial weakness, double vision, trouble breathing, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and paralysis. Note to DL: to prevent botulism, "Avoid eating preserved food if its container is bulging or if the food smells spoiled".
Beginning with my 75-win preseason prediction, the win total predictions for the 2006 Bucs in the HW Poll were: 75, 70, 75, 81, 69, 79, 80, 76, 73, <72, 78, 78, 71, 82, 82, 81, 82, 80, 76, 80, 85, 112, 78, 67, 82, 2. Of 26 predictions, two aren't serious (erh's funny 2 and Rowdy's 112), leaving 22 of 24 predicting over 67 wins. Long lost ex-fan Angry Bucco edged Randy's vague <72 by nailing the 67-95. That leaves over 90% of us who underestimated DL's uncanny ability to field losing teams.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Well he freaking should already, right? Kevin, to help make today as easy as possible, I've taken the liberty of writing your resignation speech:
"Good afternoon, Pirates fans. For years you have debated whether my heart is filled with evil, stupidity, or amply supplied with both. If consciously subjecting others to shame and misery for personal monetary gain is "evil", then I guess I've been evil. If having no long-term plan for a contending team and inexplicably extending the contract of an established failure GM is "stupid", then I guess I've been that too. If fielding a sub-.500 team all 11 years I've been on the job is "losing", then I guess that makes me an evil, stupid, loser. And a damn good one at that. I stand before you today as an accomplished loser, and for that, I blush with shame. However, by admitting these shortcomings and accepting the fact that I'm not cut out for this job, today I make the first steps towards regaining my freedom, pride, and membership in the human race. My dignity can no longer be bought and I hereby resign.
My last act as CEO is the immediate dismissal of Dave Littlefield. The only thing Dave has won since infecting the organization with his record-setting ineptitude is a Worst G.M. trophy. Dave bowled over your hopes like Wiggy. Then he kicked off your helmet and stomped on your head. For that I'm truly sorry. My final act as CEO ensures this will never happen again. I look forward to winning baseball returning to Pittsburgh soon."
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
The PG's Dejan Kovacevic weighs in with season-ending grades, highlights and lowlights, and analysis. The grades look fair to me. I'd downgrade Jack to a C-, as his .316 OBP and 18 errors for $4.9 million aren't "good". As for highlights, DK's second pick is my first: the May 27th game where Bay Wiggified Eric Munson to win the game in the 18th.
Monday, October 02, 2006
I'm a radio guy, and I follow the Pirates much more through the radio than through the TV. So I was a bit sad to hear about no more KDKA. The Pirates will lose some of their reach with the switch to Clear Channel stations -- maybe -- not sure -- But with satellite and internet radio, it does not matter so much.
It's fun to listen to the games from both sides of the press box. The other team's announcers speak more openly and unguardedly about the performance of our players. You need the satellite service or MLB audio to do this, of course. And these things should be easier or more ubiquitous over the next few years. Already I possess the intense technical ability required to stream the living room computer's MLB audio through my state-of-the-art home theater system. Soon enough everyone will be in on the secret.
When MLB and the NFL get on the same satellite radio service, I'm there. And not a minute sooner. There's no way I'll pay for two services and have two clock radios or whatever pieces of crap it is you buy to receive the signal.
In the meantime, MLB audio is OK but the insulting low quality (12 kbps) of the audio feeds infuriates me often. It can be hard to tell if you are listening to Lanny or Greg. The audio quality is that bad, and there's no excuse for it.
They are really shooting themselves in the foot with this shit-for-quality audio service they are selling. Click through iTunes and you see that even the blues stations that crank out tunes with grandpa on the washboard and grandma on the tin can, even those stations offer 32 kbps. No talk stations go lower than 16 kbps, and they don't have the bat cracking and the mitt pounding and the beer man yelling as background. You don't have to be a blind man to observe that one of the great things about the game is the panorama of sound. MLB could do a much better job of miking the game and broadcasting it themselves. I'd pay a lot more for a service that provided something like "high-definition" sound. Maybe we all would.
The sound might be that good on the TV broadcasts, but I'm a working man, and I do not have time to sit on my ass and watch many games. If I'm not looking at the TV, I'd rather have it on the radio since, when they are doing their job, they explain what you are not seeing while you listen and do whatever it is you need to be doing.
Sunday, October 01, 2006
All hail Freddy, who won the NL batting title the best possible way. The Marlins put Miguel Cabrera in the lead-off spot to better his chances of catching the Rake. No luck for Miguel with that. Freddy started for the Pirates, and he singled in his first two at-bats. He finishes the year at .344.
They won a game yeah whatever. Dejan Kovacevic asks:
Despite the standing, chanting support of 35,514 with each of his four at-bats, [Freddy] went hitless -- all against Cincinnati starter Bronson Arroyo -- to drop his National League-leading average to .343. That left him three points ahead of the Florida Marlins' Miguel Cabrera, who stayed at .340 by going 1 for 4 in Miami.
What it means: Sanchez remains in control, but not by much.
If, for example, he were to go 0 for 4 in the season finale today, his average would drop to .340. Cabrera probably could beat him, then, by getting two hits.
Sounds scary. But consider this, too: If Sanchez simply sat out, Cabrera would need to have a monster day -- 4 for 4, or 4 for 5 -- to pass him.
How will manager Jim Tracy handle it?
How would you handle it? I would start him and consider benching him if (1) he looked lost at the plate (i.e., if I thought someone else on the bench could do a better job) and (2) he would clinch the batting title with a shower. That said, if Freddy can't handle tomorrow with grace and concentration and ability, what good could he be in, say, a playoff game?
In 1991, Terry Pendleton took the final day of the season off with a .319 batting average. Hal Morris would have to go 4-for-4 to finish at .320. Morris led off for the first time all season and got three hits in his first three at-bats. He lined out in the last at-bat.
Pendleton was excused from playing because the Braves had clinched the division title the night before.
That's a good excuse. No one should be asked to further claim a batting title by playing an exhibition game while still drunk or hung over from a division-clinching party.
Tracy has no such excuse. And if Freddy sits tomorrow, Cabrera will get three hits in his first three at-bats. You know it, I know it, maybe Jim Tracy knows it. Honors are for the honorable. Pendleton had an honorable excuse, and you look at what happened to him. The Pirates did not clinch the division tonight. Tomorrow's just another day. Freddy should go to sleep and dream of singles and doubles jumping the middle-infielder's glove.
One last thing about Pendleton's batting title. It may have played a role in his edging out some Pirate for the 1991 MVP award.