Sunday, December 30, 2007

NFL week 17: Steelers at Ravens

Steelers trail 7-0 early in the first quarter as Batch drives down downfield.

Gimme a P

A number of interesting bits in Dejan Kovacevic's notebook. Half-angry Pirate guy is making fewer appearances in the team literature.

Nate McLouth made the most of his 2007 playing time.

I'm up now watching Game 1 of the 1979 World Series. The Bucs are down 5-1. Ballplayers were all about tight pants, spectacles, and mustaches in 1979. They had some adorable wives. And Dave Parker was the highest-paid player in all baseball.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Crimps galore

Honus the Alpaca was sold this year to Ozark Mountain Alpacas, who know him and boast that he's ready and willing, for a $2500 stud fee. The camelid offers "the complete package," his new owners remind us. He demonstrates "what everyone is looking for in a breeding male . . . density, fineness, consistency in crimp, good bone density and strength, and the presence that calls attention to him." And there's more. He's also won another prize since our last update.

Way to go, Honus!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

New management, old owners, and other stuff

There has not been much new reading material featuring a fresh angle on the longstanding problem that's been the Pittsburgh Pirates. It's been this way for a while, actually. The question of whether or not the new management can accomplish much under the same-old ownership group is going to take a year or more to sift.

It does look, however, like they are once again making the choice to not spend money this off-season. Given the available talent, it may or may not be a wise decision. I find it hard to get excited about the possible return of Shawn Chacon. I suppose it would be good for one set of running jokes. But like a lot of Pirate fans, I could use some new running jokes. The old ones, born of frustration and humiliation, are losing the bright, shiny, amusing luster they once had.

Both Bob Smizik's chat and Dejan Kovacevic's Q & A repeat what appears to be the developing consensus: the change in management means little as ownership continues to take what must be substantial profits. And it may be 2009 before we have enough data to firmly believe these.

In other news, Jose Castillo is a worthless bum. Good riddance I say. Whether or not he ever plays well for another team reflects only on Jose Castillo. The Pirates gave him plenty of opportunity and, from what I could gather, sufficiently sound advice for self-improvement.

And no, the Steelers should not be resting people or going into the game with a half-assed plan that compromises the desire to win with some desire to curl into a fetal position and not get hurt. If players are too hurt to play, they obviously should not play. But the healthy players should all be in there. The Steelers have looked pretty mediocre in the second half, and they need to practice winning games before the playoffs begin.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Jose Castillo a Marlin

Joe Capozzi reports for some Florida paper.

This obviously leaves a big, powerful-looking big hole in the Pirates' JV infield.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Friday, December 21, 2007

Kip

Kip Wells will make $3.1M with up to $1.5M in bonus money to pitch for the Rockies.

It seems to me like this is a lot of money for his services.

Willie Parker breaks leg

Steelers will ride the Dump Truck into the playoffs.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Rainbow warrior

At the Dandy House this morning, everyone was a-buzz with the news that the Pirates re-signed Masumi Kuwata.

The same article claims that the Pirates still need arms for the bullpen.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Catcher talk

Dejan Kovacevic explains the Pirates will bid on Johnny Estrada.

There's a lot of talk in that article about his hitting, but I want to know if he can catch the ball. For example, if someone throws the ball from the outfield to Johnny Estrada, while guys are running around the bases, will Estrada catch the ball? Also, there are other times when the catcher needs to catch the ball. If Estrada won't catch the ball, I don't see how he could be an upgrade over Ronny Ballgame.

I also wonder if Estrada is adept at reading signs communicated from the dugout. Because while I'd prefer to see him start (if he will catch the ball), there's no sense abandoning the advantage of Ronny's Paul Lo Duca-like feel for things that instantaneously pop up during an at-bat and his definitive understanding of how to carry out an at-bat. So if Estrada is good with Paulino calling the game from the dugout, things could work out--so long, of course, as Ronny could keep that feel for the at-bat while not behind the plate trying to catch the ball.

On one hand, I could see how it would be hard to focus and get a feel for things popping up if you are in the dugout. On the other hand, I could see how it might free the mind from distractions if you are not trying to catch the ball. So it would be an experiment.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Steroids report day

Happy performance-enhancing drugs day.

Here's a thread to talk about the needles in the ass.

Pirates' most glaring need thread

Here's a thread to keep the conversation going about the Pirates' most glaring need (must score more runs). Here we can also share whatever we got in terms of trade-type, FA-type, or waiver-wire-type brainstorms and gossip.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Bullpen smullpen

Dejan Kovacevic reports not a lot of worry about the 2008 bullpen.

I'm of the opinion that you line up five or seven guys who could start right away. Put four on the big-league club. The rest go to Indy, take turns, and wait. Then you get six to eight guys who may not have the repertoire or health to start. You put a few of these guys on the club as long relievers, and you put a few guys on the club as set-up men or late-inning people. The one-to-three out specialists become your closers. The manager more or less rides the hot hand until some performance-determined hierarchy emerges. Some schmucks have all the luck; some studs have all the pain. There's no predicting that the Pirates cannot get good late-inning performance from some one to three of Burnett, JVB, Bullington, Osoria, Bayliss, Romulo!, Perez, Taubenheim, Barthmaier, and Dumatrait.

So if I ran the circus, I'd trade Grabow and Marte for position-player prospects. The young starters might whine about there being "no one" to preserve their Ws. To that kind of whining, I would scowl. I would remind them that they could get more outs from their 110 pitches. They have to become more efficient if they want to get better anyway.

The distinguished closer and set-up ranks are full of one-pitch bulldogs and failed or fragile starters. The current roster of no-name pitchers may not inspire confident bullpen construction, but if you give these guys the opportunity, I would trust that a few of them will turn in solid work.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

NFL week 14: Steelers at Patriots

The Steelers should take Brady out back and really jump him. That's what it's about. This guy needs to know what it is to play the game wrong and how important it is to get sacked a lot. It's not going to be a slack deal. It won't be tolerated. But it will be handled in a way to try to get the best possible results out of Najeh because he's a good player. (post inspired by John Russell via Dejan).

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Torres considers retirement

Sully might rather retire than move his family to Milwaukee, reports Dejan Kovacevic.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Torres traded

Sully traded to the Brewers for right-handed relievers Marino Salas and Kevin Roberts, Dejan reports. No word yet on whether Salas and Roberts hit the weight room every day, or every other day.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Winter meeting notes

Dejan Kovacevic has a bunch of them.

It sounds like the Indians came to question Ronny Ballgame's health, which I find incredible. I wonder if the Pirates sufficiently emphasized his ability to call games.

My favorite part of today's Kovacevic is the correction issued by Salomon Torres. It's buried, scroll to the bottom to find it.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Paulino deal in the works

Dejan Kovacevic reports this morning that late last night, the Indians and the Pirates resumed talks, perhaps in response to the Cabrera trade, centering on Ronny Ballgame.

The Indians want him, it appears, and for outfielder Franklin Gutierrez, catcher Kelly Shoppach, and perhaps Cliff Lee, the Indians will get Ronny Paulino. The deal also hinges on the Pirates including Jason Bay.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Big-time trade news

Nate McLouth may or may not be the "it" boy of the offseason trade conversations.

I wouldn't want Jason Bay if I was the Cleveland Indians. His knees are all crickety and he has that nasty Canadian attitude. No, I'd leave him in the Burgh. Nothing to see here ...

Monday, December 03, 2007

Sunday, December 02, 2007

NFL week 13: Bengals at Steelers

The 4-7 Bengals come to town for another prime-time Steeler appearance.

Third base no problem

Dejan Kovacevic reports that Neal Huntington is high on Jose Bautista.

I'd have the same attitude. There are more urgent problems for sure.

The same report describes Ronny Paulino as insufficiently hungry. I'm not sure that's a good message to send. What is it--is he out of shape, physically and mentally, or does he need to be more hungry?

There are better metaphors to improve a work ethic. I wouldn't tell the slow-moving, apathetic catcher to work on his "hunger."

Friday, November 30, 2007

Cards sign Izturis

The St. Louis Dispatch reports that it is Izturis who will bat ninth for La Russa. This makes it more doubtful that the Pirates will trade Jack Wilson.

The Kuwata signing must have forced St. Louis's hand. With the Japanese master coming to Altoona or Indy, Izturis was the only Dandy House veteran on the market.

Kuwata returns

Dejan Kovacevic reports:

Reliever Masumi Kuwata, who made 19 appearances for the Pirates last year and considered retirement after posting a 9.43 ERA, has informed general manager Neal Huntington he would like to return to the team next season. Kuwata is flying from Japan to the United States for a medical exam early next week. He is willing to take a one-year, minor-league contract, as he did last season.
Is there a Dandy House in Indy?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Kendall to Brewers

Well, there goes our chance to contend in the NL Central.

I wonder if Jason still practices that play. You know, the one that Ronny Paulino did not practice in all of 2007. Does Kendall have to practice that play?

Is that why he gets the big bucks?

Monday, November 26, 2007

NFL week 12

The 0-10 Miami Dolphins are in town.

Fridge is full of Lagunitas IPA. I am ready for kickoff.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Starting from scratch

Dejan Kovacevic is back and he writes about potentially "outrageous" prices for Bay or Wilson in trade.

He also remarks that a Bay or a Wilson trade would not be popular with the fans. He knows better than me. Still, I doubt it. There aren't too many fans left, so I guess he could ask for a show of hands. That would answer the question pretty decisively--assuming he can get the attention of all five fans.

Whatever happens, too, cannot be called a "rebuilding." When is the last time the team was "built"? I would say they are not rebuilding but starting from scratch.

Kovacevic also notes that the Pirates might send Castillo after Phelps.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Pitcher, catcher wanted in trade

Ken Davidoff writes that the Mets would trade youth for a catcher and pitcher. He must have written this before he had his morning cup of coffee, for Ronny Paulino is nowhere mentioned as someone the Mets surely covet.

It had me wondering, though, if the new bosses might trade one of Snell or Gorzelanny. Either player should fetch a great deal in minor-league talent. The wisdom of such a decision depends on whether or not one thinks the Pirates will contend soon. It also depends on one's opinion of young starting pitchers as building blocks. The example of Oakland's once-famed trio still comes to mind. Are they the best thing to collect, or is their inherent volatility - the greater risk of performance-impairing injury - something that would make you eager, as a GM, to trade them high?

We all know how Littlefield would answer this question, but what will Huntington do? Any idea how he'd define a "solid core" about which to build?

The Pirates have to improve their offense to get anywhere. I don't know how that happens quickly if they will not sign expensive free agents. If they intend to grow the talent, that could take many years. Who on this roster would still be here when they finally harvest enough home-grown hitting talent?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Coaches

The Post-Gazette indicates that the next wave of Pirate excitement will be all about some coaches getting hired.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

NFL week 11: Steelers at Jets

The Steelers have yet to impress on the road in a non-division game. The Jets are 1-8 in this season with no parity.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Gerut of the 1000 OPS

Rotoworld is is telling me that Jody Gerut has a 1000 OPS in winter ball. And Cesar Izturis is a free agent. And Jose Castillo is a big, powerful-looking big man.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Coonelly has eyes that open

Dom Cosentino profiles Philly guy Frank Coonelly for one of the Philadelphia newspapers contributing to the phillyburbs website.

Besides the fact that Coonelly has eyes that mainly stay open, and not closed, the article contains other interesting news such as:

Coonelly said he had been approached with other opportunities by other teams in the past, eventually taking himself out of consideration. He decided to join the Pirates now, he said, because Nutting has been working to get the organization's financial house in order in recent years — the key element to begin re-building the Pirates in the model of the Cleveland Indians, Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies, three playoff teams whose payrolls are similar to a small market like Pittsburgh's.

“It can be done,” Coonelly said. “We can't afford the most expensive free-agent pitcher on the market, but we can succeed by taking that money and putting it into scouting and development.”

How will the Pirates spend "that money" on scouting and development? It appears to me that they are starting from scratch, so I am interested to see how this will happen.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Huntington hires special assistant

The AP reports that Huntington has hired Larry Corrigan away from the Twins. His strengths are talent evaluation and player development.

I'm scratching my head over this one. Why would the Pirates need help in these departments? I guess Bob Nutting is made of money these days.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

NFL week 10: Browns at Steelers

The Steelers don't give a flying you-know-what about the Browns, especially Kellen Winslow the soldier.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Bay dangled

NH spread the word that Jason Bay is available for prospects, Marty York reports.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Huntington hires people

The Post-Gazette has details.

Bones may be disappointed that he's hiring and done firing. But you have to hire if you want to fire, so this was inevitable.

Any thoughts about these fools who just signed on with the Pirates? I wish them luck is all.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Saturday, November 03, 2007

John Russell, manager

Perrotto reports "strong indications" that Russell will be the new manager.

All hail Chuck Tanner

The Bucs appear set for three hires next week. They have hired Chuck Tanner as special assistant to the GM, and the 2007 team was disgusting to Coonelly, Rob Biertempfel reports.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Monday, October 29, 2007

Season over

Pirates to hire Alex Rodriguez as player/manager later in the week.

Ah, just kidding. My money's on Joe Randa for player/manager.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

NFL Week 8: Steelers at Bengals

Another loss would drop the Steelers to 4-3, where they'd be in a tie for first with the idle Ravens. I smell a smackdown simmering on the stove. Game on at 1pm. Elsewhere, the Browns are at St. Louis as road favorites.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

World Series

Any thoughts about the World Series? I expect the Rockies to get blown out, maybe swept; they sat a long time waiting for this series to start.

But ... no doubt I am rooting for them. All hail the underdog.

Monday, October 22, 2007

ZiPS for 2008

Last week, Dan Szymborski posted ZiPS projections for the 2008 Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Pirates have five players poised to hit better than a league-average catcher (~720 OPS) centerfielder (~785 OPS): Bay, Doumit, and the three first basemen. Ian Snell eats more innings than Matt Morris, and Romulo! lives large with a 5.92 ERA.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

NFL week 7: Steelers at Broncos

The Steelers' game does not start until tonight, so we can all go back to bed and sleep late.

Elsewhere in the AFC North, the Ravens play in Buffalo, and the Bungles host the Jets. The Browns are on bye. All of Cleveland can focus on the team's third and last chance to win a game and go to the World Series.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Flying Dutchman himself

Long, bizarre piece by Myron Cope on the Nuttings, meeting Honus Wagner, and the 2007 season. (Link via BBTF).

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Memo to Neal

NH- Huzzah for all the pink slips. Keep 'em coming. A few friendly unsolicited suggestions on talking to reporters and keeping it honest:

1. Avoid using the word "struggle" in the first person for four consecutive sentences, like you did to Paul Meyer:

"I think ethically I struggle with that," Huntington said. "An individual's involved in a playoff run, it's probably one of the most exciting times of their lives, and I struggle with trying to distract them. I struggle with pulling them out of that environment. I struggle with that step in the process."
This just makes it sound like you're, uh, struggling. A lot. There will be more worthy struggles than the ethics of when to pester other teams.

2. Avoid describing 28 year olds as "young kids", as Jenifer Langosch quotes:

"I think Kevin is a young kid with a lot of pop in his bat who will bring great depth to our Minor League system"
Kevin Thompson is a man. Maybe a young man. Definitely not a young kid. Also, avoid suggesting that one man could possibly bring "great depth" to the wasteland of Creechlings. Or, if the quote is inaccurate, sternly reprimand whoever's responsible and/or work more pink slip magic.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Snatch it back and hold it

So when we are not sleeping here at HW HQ, we are drinking beer and wine and listening to the blues.

Is there a better blues album than Junior Wells' Hoodoo Man Blues? This is a serious question. The answer I think is no. Some may be as good, but none are better.

So what else is there to do, besides watch the Indians beat up on the hapless Red Sox?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Huntington hardly sleeps

Information executive Neal Huntington incrementally rebuilds the Pirates, reports Tom King for the Nashua Telegraph. One pink slip at a time, we'll get through this. All hail the new GM!

Meanwhile, John Perrotto suggests that Boston pitching coach John Farrell, ex-Florida pitching coach Rick Kranitz, and Colorado scout Dave Holliday are candidates for the manager, pitching coach, and scouting director jobs, respectively.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Midweek bunch o' nothing

So what's new and exciting? I'm about all done trolling YouTube for Hee Haw clips.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Lovullo

Cleveland AAA manager Torey Lovullo is a top candidate for new manager, reports John Perrotto.

If he gets the Pirates' job, Lovullo should have some pull to bring some top classic country-western acts to PNC Park. His father, Sam, was the executive producer of the television variety show Hee Haw for 25 years.
The Hee Haw acts could run between innings to break up the Benny Hill music.

Thtand up thtwait

Neal Huntington addresses an angry mob in Scene Two of Bucdaddy's play (read Scene One here).

Sunday, October 07, 2007

NFL week 5: Seahawks at Steelers

The Penguins have the day off, so we will have to amuse ourselves with that lowly football team.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Tracy, the day after

(Scene: the unemployment line. A content Jim Tracy and his staff stand in place.)

T-bone (holding Post-Gazette): Trace, Dejan wrote a long piece about you today.

Tracy: Is the manager of the 2004 NL West Champions intrigued? Yes.

T-bone (skimming aloud):

Before Tracy had donned a Pirates uniform, in the winter of 2006, he met with center fielder Chris Duffy and told Duffy he should play like Dave Roberts, the Dodgers' leadoff man ... Tracy told shortstop Jack Wilson, a three-time runner-up for the Gold Glove, that he did not like his approach to ground balls, that it should be more like Cesar Izturis of the 2004 Dodgers ... Jose Castillo was told to be like Adrian Beltre. Bench players were told to be versatile like Jose Hernandez, who also was acquired.
Manto: That's pretty messed up. Your obsession with the '04 Dodgers seems hurtful and kind of pathological. Is this why you always tell me to look and act like Tim Wallach?

Tracy: Look, Tim, is it wrong for a man to project the greatness of a division champion onto a group of lesser men in hopes that the latter would in essence realize that projection? No.

Cox (laughing): And then Ronny says to me "Coach, I don't practice catching throws from the outfield?" And I say "Ronny, I need to know these things."

T-bone (reading aloud): Paulino never was seen addressing that play in an on-field workout all summer.

Colborn: Damn, Ronny dropped a lot of balls.

Tracy: Lo Duca had only three errors all year.

Cuellar: Look, DL is way the hell up there in line! Man, he looks tired, like he's been standing for awhile.

Tracy (smiling): Our general manager was terrific. (Cranes his neck and spots DL far off in the distance) They should get him a chair. If our GM stands too long, you take the legs away from him, and in essence you've lost the GM.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Tracy fired

The Pirates have scheduled a press conference for 3:30 today.

Tracy still waiting

Decision today "doubtful", by Dejan Kovacevic. Tracy and his staff continue to wait and talk.

Manto: Any word yet, boss?

Tracy: Has our manager received any communication from our new general manager regarding our employment status? I'm not saying that.

Cox (laughing): What the #*@! is taking so long?

Tracy: Does the commissioner of major league baseball want an announcement made during the series of October games once played by myself and Cesar in 2004? No. Does our new general manager need more time? Yes.

Cuellar: Sounds like there's gonna be a big shake-up. (reading from the Post-Gazette): Huntington confirmed that his announcement could involve more than just the manager and coaching staff. "There is a series of decisions to be made," he said. "Is there a possibility that other personnel could be involved there? Yes." (laughs out loud) Trace, he's interviewing himself, just like you!

T-bone (whispering to Manto): Uh oh, maybe Neal is infected.

Tracy: If the manager is intrigued by "a series of decisions", which in this particular case, it would appear that the answer to that question is yes, than the "series of decisions" intrigues the manager.

Colborn: Tell 'em, Trace.

Manto: Go on, skipper.

Tracy: Of course our new GM needs more time. Is this man going to come in and rashly decide all of our fates, or by his action bring about the events indicative of how that action might come to be with regard to the coaching staff? No.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Tracy waits

No decision still, Dejan Kovacevic reports. No discussions between upper management and Tracy and his staff since Monday, leaving them to sit around and talk amongst themselves:

Tracy: We have some people who, resume-wise, wouldn't be suggesting that we have some guys in that lineup that are doing what they're doing right now offensively.

Manto: Like Ronny Ballgame.

Tracy: I've used the words 'consummate professional' about this guy. I've used the term 'warrior.' We've seen all of that here. For two years he was basically the guy. Maybe not on paper, but as the year unfolded and you went out there between the lines and played your 162, he in essence was the guy for two years.

T-bone: Yup.

Tracy: He can really catch. He can really throw. And he really cares.

Cuellar: Uh huh.

Tracy: I think we realize exactly what it is we have to do. I also think redundancy time after time gets to the point where you've heard it before and don't want to continue to hear it. You just want to go out there and do it.

Manto: Damn straight.

Cox: Nady's hammy is barking.

Tracy: Hamstrings are a very tricky thing. This one is very tricky due to the individual because if you push the envelope too quickly and you take his legs away from him, you've in essence lost a player.

Colborn: C'mon, Trace, we're done. We failed.

Tracy: We didn't fail. We just didn't succeed as much as we'd have liked. (long pause) If we get beat, it's because the opposition went out and beat us.

Cox (laughing): Maybe you should've gotten thrown out a few more times.

Tracy: For what reason? For being ejected for what you don't feel, due to the action that took place, is indicative of the fact of action that's solely the player? I saw things out of the ordinary out there.

Manto: So will we still get paid?

Tracy: Why should this year be any different? Because it's the last year of the contract? So what? If I had two years, would there be any more job security? What difference does it make?

Colborn: Neal and Frank didn't ask about our philosophies. We will be canned.

Tracy: You always try to create the best scenario, but if that's not completely available, we won't use it as an excuse. The uneasy part is that decision-making on the other side is fairly simple.

(All Tracy lines are verbatim quotes from: Dodger Blues, Prisuta via Billy, or Kovacevic.)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Tracy very likely done

Decision by Friday, Dejan Kovacevic reports. So far, Frank and Neal have mostly only asked Tracy and his staff questions about player evaluations. I imagine this wrapping up something like:

Huntington: Castillo?

Tracy: Who?

Huntington: Jose Castillo.

Tracy: Big, powerful-looking, big man.

Huntington: Anything else?

Tracy: Real big. Not as nimble as Cesar. Now there's a player for you, Cesar Izturis. Even before I coached Cesar to win the division in 2004 - this isn't my first rodeo, you know? - I knew I'd found my #2 hitter. Offensively, he does a lot of hitting. Soft hands too, that Cesar. Does the man carry himself in every way like a big league baseball player? Yes. Does the man truly understand every facet of how this game is played? Yes. Is he versatile enough to play every infield position? Yes. Could he pitch in middle relief? I don't know.

Huntington: Please let me ask you the questions, Jim. (turning to staff): Anything else?

Colborn: I don't really pay attention to velocity with anyone. You just gotta stand up straight. Like Shawn.

Manto (with marker, at white board): So you see, [(R+RBI)-HR]/games played = "runs produced". It's as important as on-base percentage or any of your "nu skool" numbers.

Cox (laughing while raspily wheezing): Armas never told me he didn't slide!

Coonelly (stands up and stretches): OK, guys, let's call it a night.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

NFL week 4: Steelers at Cardinals

It's the other Pittsburgh team.

Game 162: Cardinals at Pirates

The Pirates have momentum as they finish their quest to force a one-game playoff and sneak into the playoffs as a wild card.

Game on at 1:35pm. Be prepared to see some guys playing at the peak of their abilities.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Game 161: Cardinals at Pirates

Gorzelanny and Wainwright, just underway. 1-0 Pirates. Gorzo going for his 15th win.

New scouting director

Ed Creech will likely be relieved of his duties, Dejan Kovacevic reports:

Two team sources said that, although general manager Neal Huntington has just begun his new job, the evaluations of Creech's work from upper management -- including ownership -- are negative enough that he is a virtual lock to be replaced.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Game 159: D'backs at Pirates

Owings and Armas in relief of JVB. In progress. We may have to wait another day for win #68. It's 4-0 Arizona.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Game 157: D'backs at Pirates

Osoria and Pena now in the seventh. Bucs lead 2-1.

We will win 67. One of these days. Maybe tonight.

GM day

UPDATED. Huntington hired.

No word on whether or not he accepted the slot money for the job. Not that I care either way, mind you.

As WTM writes in the comments, "that feeling of abject hopelessness is lifting like a fog on a sunny morning."

Go forth and celebrate.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Huntington

The conflicting reports have resolved themselves. John Perrotto reports the Pirates got a chorus of "hell no" on that Huntington will be hired. Paul Meyer reads the tea leaves and says Huntington remains the man.

Game 156: Pirates at Cubs

Gorzelanny and Zambrano at 2:20pm. The Pirates will continue their late-September tour of the NL Central as equal-opportunity patsies.

NFL Week 3: 49ers at Steelers

Somehow or other, the 49ers are 2-0 as they step into Heinz Field this afternoon. They are led by Akili Smith (??), who I thought would be playing in the CFL this year. And - here is the craziest part - former Vice President Al Gore (?!) starts at running back. He'll try to be the first player to rush for 100 yards against the Steelers since the early days of the Cowher era. Call me overconfident--I think the Steelers can stuff this guy, no problem.

Fire up the Jimmy Psihoulis and Bill Yeager.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Friday, September 21, 2007

No decision yet on GM hiring

Alan Robinson reports for the AP. NTNGod posted this at Primer a few hours ago. Those guys are Primer sure are smart.

We'll know soon enough. I'd have more energy to focus on this GM search if I could get over the suspense involved with the Pirates attaining their 67th win. You could call this excitement, my way of maintaining the integrity of the game.

Game 154: Pirates at Cubs

Maholm vs. Marquis, starting soon. The Bucs have reclaimed the basement with only nine games left to protect the integrity of the travesty.

Neal Huntington, new GM?

The Bucs will soon name Neal Huntington the new GM, John Perrotto reports. Huntington is currently a special assistant to the general manager with the Cleveland Indians.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Game 153: Pirates at Padres

Morris and Tomko this afternoon, starting in about ninety minutes.

The Pirates are making their sixth attempt to win their 67th game of the season.

No love for losers

Dejan Kovacevic reports that Armas, Chacon, and Izturis will not be back in 2008. He also reports that Carlos Guillen has told the press that he hopes Detroit, in their possible search for a new shortstop, can do better than Jack Wilson.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Game 152: Pirates at Padres

Ian Snell vs. Chris Young, starts now.

GM announcement soon?

The Post-Gazette's Paul Meyer relates some speculation:

There was some speculation yesterday that the Pirates could have a short interview list and could make the announcement about a new general manager Monday, an off-day for the team before it begins its final homestand of the season Tuesday.
Meyer throws Logan White's name into the mix. Any short list would seem to include at least LaCava, Zduriencik, and Bernazard (but not Amaro, who Meyer suggests will be named Astros GM shortly). Another candidate for Bucs GM could be Mike Rizzo, who Meyer reported has interest in the job (read Vlad's bio of Rizzo at Bucs Dugout here).

Monday, September 17, 2007

Game 150: Pirates at Padres

JVB vs. Jack Cassel soon. Stakes are high, as JVB is running out of chances. The Bucs trail the Padres by 15.5 games in the wild card race.

A good thing

Tim Marchman of the New York Sun likes the Coonelly hire:

One doesn't have to like the idea of quasi-collusion to admit that the most likely explanation here is simply that Coonelly, a powerful and effective baseball man, has agreed to try and turn around perhaps the game's least effective franchise.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Game 148: Pirates at Astros

Morris and Wandy Rodriguez starting soon.

Frank Coonelly in uniform. He'll stand in as the first-base coach. He'll help Ronny call the game, he'll steal the signs, he'll high-five all the players rounding first, and he'll try not to mix it up with the umpire calling the balls and the strikes.

Bernazard

John Perrotto on emerging GM candidate Tony Bernazard. Perrotto's source indicates that no GM interviews have taken place.

Coonelly goes to work

Frank's first CEO move is removing Armas from the rotation, Dejan Kovacevic reports. Coonelly is also the topic of the latest Q+A, in which Dejan finds the new CEO to be "loud, clear, and confident", and not your average bean counter.

Bay never met McClatchy?

New CEO Frank Coonelly boarded the team bus and introduced himself, mlb.com's Jenifer Langosch reports:

"He came on the bus and said hi before he left and wanted to show his face and meet everybody," outfielder Jason Bay said. "He said that he was going to be around more early on, to feel his way around."

Contrastingly, Bay said he has never met outgoing team CEO Kevin McClatchy.

How could the CEO in charge of day-to-day operations of the franchise never meet the franchise player?

UPDATE: sludgeworm found this nice picture of Bay and McClatchy chatting from an earlier story (by Jenifer Langosch).

Friday, September 14, 2007

Game 147: Pirates at Astros

Snell vs. Oswalt. Jack Wilson vs. Wiggy, round 2. Starts soon.

Bernazard and LaCava

Mets assistant GM Tony Bernazard and Blue Jays director of player personnel Tony LaCava have already interviewed for the GM job, SI.com's Jon Heyman reports.

Antonetti and Hahn have declined to be interviewed.

New GM will decide on Tracy

So says Paul Meyer.

After the general manager is hired, that person and Coonelly will take a hard look at people employed by the Pirates.

"I have a lot of contacts within the game who know who's good and who's not good and I've already begun that process," Coonelly said. "... We will figure out who the people are who are going to help us move forward and who the people are who have been holding this organization back."

My gut feeling is that Frank will find more not good people than good people.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Coonelly Era starts now

Today the Pirates will officially announce Frank Coonelly (pronounced COON-lee) as their new CEO, the P-G's Paul Meyer reports.

The Trib's Rob Biertempfel has a nice pro-Coonelly piece with quotes from Keith Law and an agent:

One prominent agent who has sat across the table from Coonelly during hearings described him as intense, shrewd and well organized.

"He's a barracuda," the agent said. "Very aggressive. He's not just throwing stuff at the wall to see if it sticks. He does his homework. In that regard, he's a great choice for the Pirates."

I'm willing to give Coonelly a chance, at least until he announces his new GM. All hail the new CEO!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Game 146: Brewers at Pirates

Gorzelanny vs. Bush in twenty minutes. Bucs need one more loss to clinch.

GM update

Paul Meyer mentions Amaro, LaCava, and Wren but also says Amaro hadn't heard from the team as of yesterday and Frank Wren was a "stretch".

Still no official Coonelly announcement. Maybe Nutting wants to wait until after the Bucs clinch losing season #15.

New Dominican academy

Dejan Kovacevic reports. Overdue, but still a positive development.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Monday, September 10, 2007

Game 144: Brewers at Pirates

Villaneuva and Armas in half an hour.

GM candidates

Perrotto's list. Paul Hagen of the Philadelphia Daily News claims that Ruben Amaro Jr. might be the frontrunner. Paul Meyer suggests that the 30-year-old D'backs Assistant GM and former director of baseball operations for the Red Sox Peter Woodfork is also a candidate. From the Arizona Republic:

"Woodfork has carved out an expertise in all matters financial and technical, including arbitration, contracts and the fine print in roster shuffling. But he says he still has a lot to learn, including honing his player-evaluation skills.

"It's definitely something I'm going to need to improve on in my game," he said.

Doesn't sound like the proven talent evaluator that Cory wants to see.

Vlad at Bucs Dugout has excellent GM candidate bios on Logan White and Chris Antonetti.

On Coonelly, don't miss Pat.

I'm fine with a Bean Counter CEO. Expert Bean Counter who loudly and nastily argues? Better yet. If, and only if, there's a Baseball Guy who can evaluate talent as new GM.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Game 142: Cubs at Pirates

Zambrano and Snell starting now. Here's hoping that Snell has all the powers of Snell at his fingertips tonight.

Coonelly in as CEO?

In what might be -- as sludge suggests -- a Grimm Tribune moment, Ken Rosenthal proclaims that Nutting will make the "phenomenal" choice of Frank Coonelly for CEO. Link here.

Paul Meyer hedges for the Post-Gazette.

Vlad jumps the gun -- the fat ladies have not sung in the Pirates' front office. (They are not fat, I'm sure, but very beautiful ... I mean this rhetorically.) Do read his post, however, and click on those crazy links he dug up on Zip "he's a larned skoller" Frank Coonelly.

Littlefield era post-mortem

Dejan Kovacevic offers his analysis of the Littlefield era here in the Post-Gazette.

It's strongly worded, and it's pretty damning. I also think it's fair.

And I cannot think of anything significant that Kovacevic has left out.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Game 140: Pirates at Cardinals

Bullington vs. Maroth, starts now. McLouth back in CF. Phelps at 1B, Pearce in RF, Maldonado catching. Ronny on the bench, calling the game and stealing signs.

UPDATE: start of game delayed by rain again. Game on (3:35 PM).

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Game 139: Pirates at Cardinals

Armas and Mulder, starting real soon. Tonight's wrinkle is Izturis at third, Bautista in center, Pearce in right.

UPDATE: Start of game delayed by rain. Game on (9:00 PM).

Honest Wagner NFL pick 'em pool

Get in the pool:
FREE PigPool at Pigskin.com.
poolname: Honest Wagner Pick 'em Pool
password: 51yardparker
If you did this in years past, you're still in the pool and you can simply login and make your picks. For more info, see Rowdy's post from last year.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Game 138: Pirates at Cardinals

Morris vs. Pineiro starts now. Morgan and Pearce starting again.

Bullington, JVB, and Davidson

Three pitchers called up, reports Dejan Kovacevic. Bullington will try to protect the integrity of the rotation, but all three are unlikely to make the postseason roster.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Game 137: Pirates at Cardinals

Ian Snell vs. Kip Wells. Kip, 6-15 but hitting .340, is batting eighth, in front of 3B Brendan Ryan. For the Bucs, Nyjer Morgan leads off and plays CF, while Steve Pearce bats sixth and plays 1B.

Pirates prospects

The Trib's Rob Biertempfel reports on Pirates prospects, with a few zingers added by BP's Kevin Goldstein.

Under "mixed results", the summary at the end lists: Yoslan Herrera, Jonah Bayliss ("The skinny: Spring training success might have been a mirage"), Brad Lincoln, and Pedro Powell. Although Powell hit only .241/.320/.304 in his second full year at Lynchburg, this profile by mlb.com's Lisa Winston reports:

Powell was slowly but surely starting to learn how to play the "little man's game."

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Game 136: Pirates at Brewers

Gorzelanny vs. Suppan at two eastern. Bucs need a win to stay in contention.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Game 135: Pirates at Brewers

Youman vs. Bush in fifteen. Batting sixth and playing RF, Steven Pearce.

Tracy on integrity of the game

Don't expect all of the Indy call-ups to start regularly. Jim Tracy (via mlb.com):

"You don't foresee a lot of days where you are going to have the liberty to run four or five guys out there -- who were playing baseball in Triple-A or Double-A -- in a big league game," Tracy said. "You need to protect the integrity of the game and your situation in relation to the other competitors that you're playing against."
I'd hate to see what Pirates baseball without integrity would look like.

Pearce, Morgan, and Perez up

1B Steve Pearce, OF Nyjer Morgan, and LHP Juan Perez have been called up from Indy, Paul Meyer reports.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Game 134: Pirates at Brewers

Armas vs. Gallardo soon. Jack returns, freeing Izturis to work in the dugout.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Game 133: Reds at Pirates

Morris vs. Belisle, starting now.

Duffy surgery

Chris Duffy will have surgery on his left shoulder tomorrow, Dejan Kovacevic reports. Duffy will miss the playoffs, but should be ready for spring training 2008.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Game 132: Reds at Pirates

Snell vs. Harang, starting now.

Torres to return

No structural damage to Sully's arm, John Perrotto reports. Sully is expected back in time to pitch in the playoffs.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Game 131: Reds at Pirates

Maholm vs. Arroyo, second game of the doubleheader underway. Irate Fans and Pirates Fans for Change congregating in Section 140.

Game 130: Reds at Pirates

Gorzelanny vs. Ramirez in the first game of the doubleheader, starting now. Nady's back in RF.

Wilbur on DL

Wilbur Miller tries to steer Bob Nutting clear of the Kool-Aid, in a two-part series for OBN: Part 1. From Part 2:

After more than six years with Littlefield at the helm, there isn’t a single position player on the major league roster who was originally signed under Littlefield.
Don't drink it, Bob. Please. (Links via Bucs Dugout.)

LaCava

John Perrotto and Keith Law like Tony LaCava for CEO. Sounds great to me. In addition to being a top-notch scout with an expertise in evaluation, LaCava has experience in firing people, an absolute prerequisite for this job.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Game 128: Pirates at Astros

Morris vs. Patton soon. Kata in LF tonight for Bay. Wiggy starting at third for the 'Stros.

Torres to DL

Romulo! Sanchez recalled from Altoona to take Sully's place, Dejan Kovacevic reports. Not joining him on the DL is Nady, despite having a torn hammy. Nady will fight for DL's job in PH situations. Torres will have company around the buzzsaw in the trainer's room:

Duffy has had rotator cuff damage for two years and is considering surgery.

Clayton Hamilton is out for a year after medical staff misdiagnosed a broken rib (John Perrotto report via Vlad at Primer).

Second round pick Duke Welker was shut down due to arm pain, Dejan reported last week.

Committee of One

Paul Meyer on Bob Nutting's top-secret CEO hunt, this time with no huge picture.

Didn't like this part:

And one National League front-office person thinks that, at the end of the day, Littlefield -- whose contract runs through 2008 -- could remain the team's general manager.

"Why else do you allow him to take on $15 million for next season at the trading deadline [July 31] if he isn't coming back?" that person said, referring to the $9.5 million owed to pitcher Matt Morris and the $5.45 million club option for shortstop Cesar Izturis in 2008.

Dejan mentioned that Nutting approved of the Morris trade in part because Nutting liked Matt Morris as a pitcher. As for Cesar, although he's not a good baseball player, he brings other things to the table.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Game 126: Pirates at Rockies

Maholm vs. Morales, starting soon. Kata starting at third.

Craig Monroe has been traded to the Cubs.

Baseball Guy, CEO

Nutting says new CEO will be Baseball Guy, Paul Meyer reports. (Warning: superhuge picture of Bob Nutting precedes story in above link). Crossing off Bill Nutting and Bean Counter, today's new CEO Odds are:

Dan Duquette: 3:1
Walt Jocketty: 5:1
Joe Garagiola, Jr.: 20:1
Chuck Greenberg: 20:1
Other Baseball Guy: 3:1
Dave Littlefield: zero

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Game 125: Pirates at Rockies

Tom Gorzelanny and some guy, dunno who he is, never heard of him, Joseph Fogg. Starting in half an hour.

Looking good

Thumbs up for the new PG webpage redesign.

The book

It sounds to me like Jerome Bettis has out now a fun book. Ed Bouchette summarizes on that link.

Dan Duquette, CEO candidate

Pirates CEO candidate Dan Duquette has met with Bob Nutting, the BCT's John Perrotto reports. For no other reason, Dan becomes the early favorite in today's HW CEO Odds:

Dan Duquette: 3:1
Bill Nutting: 4:1
Chuck Greenberg: 4:1
Joe Garagiola, Jr.: 10:1
Walt Jocketty: 50:1
Bean Counter: even
Baseball Guy: 3:2
George W. Bush: 1,000,000:1
Mark Cuban: 10,000,000:1
Dave Littlefield: zero

Is Dan Duquette evil, stupid, or neither? Who's missing from the list?

Duffy's shoulder

Duffy's having an MRI on his shoulder today, which we now learn has been bothering him since spring, Dejan Kovacevic reports.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Game 123: Pirates at Rockies

Matt Morris vs. Ubaldo Jimenez at 9:05 PM EDT.

Monday chat

Dejan Kovacevic in today's chat thinks upper management will be the first focus of the new CEO. The update on the CEO search: Paul Meyer will be reporting the search for the P-G and "there is a process in place".

Friday, August 17, 2007

Game 120: Phillies at Pirates

Durbin and Gorzelanny at seven.

Durbin has been in the bullpen, and he's not expected to go too many innings tonight.

Coming off a shutout, Gorzelanny is due to get bombed. I'm hoping he's better than that, but I've developed that expectation over the years. It seems to me that a lot of starters get blown out in starts after the All-Star game and starts after complete-game shutouts.

Pirate news

Dejan Kovacevic's P-G notebook has something to say about Littlefield's contract extension, Jack Wilson clearing waivers, and that prospect guy who wanted "$10 million and a major-league contract." (The nerve of that guy ... thinking the Pirates have $10M in payroll to throw away.)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Game 119: Mets at Pirates

Brian Lawrence and Tony Armas. The Benny Hill music starts at seven.

After the game ... Skyblast. And Styx in concert. Yes ... Styx.

Skyblast + Styx = sold out Pittsburgh baseball stadium.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Games 115 and 116: Giants at Pirates

Cain and Maholm, Lowry and Youman. Game one at five.

I'm off to scout Latin America, but I hope to be back in time to catch the second game.

God to punish Pirates

Great, just great.

Salomon Torres explains in Post-Gazette report from Dejan Kovacevic.

God's wrath will surely end the Pirates' long run of winning seasons.

It was fun while it lasted.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Preseason football: Packers at Steelers

Steely McBeam to play quarterback in the second half.

Game 113: Pirates at Giants

Armas and Lincecum sometime later this afternoon.

Low-cost talent

Dejan Kovacevic notes the Pirates have signed Victor Zambrano and inserted him into the Indianapolis rotation.

Ronny Ballgame

Ronny did a good job catching the ball last night. From Dejan Kovacevic's Post-Gazette recap:

Ortmeier was between Bautista and Paulino at home plate, and the throw would have to go inside the runner.

"I was expecting it to come to the other side," Paulino said.

Because of that, Paulino had to dramatically change his glove position to backhand the ball and, as he did, Ortmeier was beginning a hook-slide to elude him.

But Paulino, as he had earlier in the game on a similar play at the plate, swept his tag and banged Ortmeier in the back of the helmet.

"All I tried to do was to find a way to get the ball to Ronny," Bautista said. "He made the better half of the play."

The view from the other dugout was half-and-half in that record.

"That was a heck of a play, and it ended up being the ballgame," San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said. "Their third baseman did a heck of a job to get to the ball and make the throw, and the catcher made a really good tag."

. . .

For Paulino, that tag and the previous one- on Ryan Doumit's excellent throw from right field that gunned down Pedro Feliz in the second -- might have represented vindication for a catcher who has struggled all season with plays at the plate.

"Give credit to our catcher," Tracy said. "He had a terrific game."

Unlike Paulino, Matt Morris did not play well, except, in my opinion, for the part when his veteranosity induced a double play after beguiling the Giant hitters with seven consecutive balls. "That's not how I pitch," he said.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Game 112: Pirates at Giants

This does not start for about four hours, but I am already drinking beer and tailgating somewhat around the old radio.

Matt Morris and Russ Ortiz tonight.

Tonight it's part two in the ongoing series, "Is Matt Morris a better bet, going forward, than freely available low-cost pitching?"

Morris was tagged for four earned runs in his last start, so he's still looking for his first quality start as a Pirate.

Friday afternoon

Any outrage du jour on the menu, or is it just the usual fare?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Game 110: Pirates at Diamondbacks

Paul Maholm and Byung-Hyun Kim in fifteen minutes.

Kim has made 14 starts this year. He's averaged 5.64 innings per start. He's gotten 8.05 strikeouts per 9 innings to 6.39 walks, 7.69 hits, and 1.30 home runs. He's earning $2.5M this year as the option year after a one-year, $1.5M contract signed with the Rockies before the 2006 season.

For those of you who read the previous comment thread, Matt Morris has made 22 starts this year. He's averaging 6.5 innings per start. He's gotten 4.84 strikeouts per 9 innings for 2.52 walks, 10.76 hits, and 0.75 home runs. He's making $10M this year as part of a three-year, $27M contract signed with the Giants before the 2006 season.

Paul Maholm has made 22 starts for the Pirates this year. He's averaging 6.27 innings per start. He's gotten 5.28 strikeouts per nine innings to show for his nine-innings averages of 2.54 walks, 9.52 hits, and 1.11 home runs. He's making 403K in this, his third year of major-league ball.

Perrotto on the Morris signing

John Perrotto is still scratching his head over the Morris deal.

On one hand, I suppose there is a lot of head to scratch.

On the other hand, the rationale behind the trade looks clear enough to me. The same kind of bad things we might predict about Morris's future performance could also be said about the future of Jeff Suppan.

It is crazy that reliable starters command so much money. It is crazy, too, that pre-arb players make so little. But that is the way it is these days.

A starter was, I think, a need and not a want. And when you need something, you cannot complain persuasively about the price. This is especially true if you get what you need for less than the going rate. And I think that, in the Morris deal, the Pirates acquired a veteran starter for much less than they would have paid in the off-season free agent market. After all, they were able to acquire his expensive skills for only 1 1/2 or (if they pick up his option) 2 1/2 years. No starter like Matt Morris would settle for a one- or two-year deal.

Littlefield may negotiate like a fantasy-league jerk--as Dejan Kovacevic's report might suggest--but he has made some good trades.

P.S. I'm not suggesting that a number of good trades should be enough to save his job. We can give credit where it is due and still be disappointed in his performance as GM.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Game 109: Pirates at Diamondbacks

Gorzelanny and Owings, starting in twenty mintues.

Winners and losers

Early in the year the Arizona Diamondbacks (63-50, first place in the NL West) ranked as the youngest team in the NL. So I've considered them proof that age was not the problem with the 2007 Pirates (44-64, last place in the NL Central).

These days, the Pirates are a bit younger overall (27.8 to 27.9), but the Diamondbacks have an impressive list of players who are 24 or younger: Edgar Gonzalez, Micah Owings, Miguel Montero, Stephen Drew, Mark Reynolds, Carlos Quentin, Justin Upton, Chris B. Young.

The kids of Pittsburgh are Matt Capps and Zach Duke.

There must be a lesson in there somewhere.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

exhibition football: Saints and Steelers

NFL Network ball-hogs the exhibition opener. I make a point of ignoring exhibition football, but with the new coach and whatnot, I will follow the events of this game. And perhaps there will be some good reading about it tomorrow.

Game 109: Reds at Pirates

Gorzelanny vs. Arroyo, delayed by rain. Cesar starting at third and batting second.

UPDATE (4:30 PM): Game postponed until Aug. 28th.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Game 106: Cardinals at Pirates

Youman vs. Reyes, scoreless in the second.

Morris and meanings

As usual, I woke up and read the Post-Gazette Pirates coverage. There are two things about it today that bothered me.

First, we are skeptical of David Littlefield and the stories we hear from him and his employees. So why do we regard the Brian Sabean crew as a collection of spin-free truthtellers? The story about the Pirates riding in like moronic knights to lift the spirits of a depressed San Francisco conference room strikes me, at first glance, as Sabean et al posturing before the San Francisco public. It's not that they traded away Matt Morris in a brazen salary dump: they got a great deal! Well above market price! And look -- we're not dumb like other guys!

Why else would Sabean tell these stories to reporters? If he's not out to save face, then he's guilty of pretty unprofessional conduct.

The story could be true. It does fit the narrative we're usually told about Littlefield. And maybe no one lies or spins the truth in San Francisco. A lot of nice people live out there.

Second, there is a common misconception that the rest of the season is "meaningless." The 2008 Pirates, no matter who is the GM, will mainly consist of the 2007 Pirates. When I talk about wanting to see a winning team on the field, I am talking about tonight, tomorrow, and next year. No amount of money spent on building a school for 16-year-old Dominican children will help the Pirates win games now or next year. It's true the Pirates need to do such things, but such things can not be confused with the things they need to do win more games now and next year.

Dejan Kovacevic rants that Morris will now get paid for "meaningless starts for an utterly meaningless final two months." As fans, we may not care to watch these starts. Here we go Steelers and so on. But if the 2008 Pirates are going to win games, the 2007 Pirates better improve. They need to study, practice, concentrate, develop patience, and figure out what it is they need to know to win more games. So the rest of the season has a lot of meaning for the players. I may not watch these games, but I sure hope the team uses them well to better grow whatever bit of talent these 2007 Pirates might have.

There are no meaningless games.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Game 105: Cardinals at Pirates

Armas vs. Looper, starting soon.

10 reasons I like the Matt Morris trade

For a bunch of reasons, I like the Matt Morris acquisition.

1. Morris has been very good. The main reason the Pirates continue to lose is talent. They do not have much talent. A player that has been very good has a better chance of performing at that level than a player who has never been very good. So there is hope for him.

2. Morris is not old.

3. Morris has been dependable and durable, even when not very good.

4. Morris has already had Tommy John surgery.

5. I have not witnessed the recent struggles of Matt Morris. Ignorance is bliss. He comes to me with a clean slate.

6. In the short term, this is good theater. To some extent, that's all the game is: theater. This sort of thing sells tickets.

7. The team has not thrived with cautious and predictable leadership. A more creative and aggressive style of leadership can only help.

8. The acquisition suggests that the front office has money to spend. (blinks, as though stunned) Have the recent and excessive profits been saved for future payroll? Such arguments sound a little less bogus.

9. The Pirates need talent to win, and they have little talent on the roster and little talent in the minor leagues. They will have to buy some talent to put a winner on the field. Talent is expensive. And when I look at recent free agent signings, the expensive thing is not the annual rate but the number of years. Two years for twenty million dollars is much wiser, I think, than six for seventy-five or eight for one hundred.

First-tier free agents are not going to sign for two years. If a lower-payroll team shops for a promising free agent who will sign for two years, they can only explore the scratch-and-dent bin. Since these higher-risk, higher-upside second-tier free agents aim to complete a short-term deal only for leverage on a later, long-term deal, they are not inclined, if they have any talent and choice, to sign a short deal with a perennial loser. They want to showcase their talent. Players like Randy Wolf sign with the Dodgers; players like Tony Armas sign with the Pirates.

I've long argued this point. Somewhere in the archives, for example, I argued that the Pirates should trade for Manny Ramirez near the end of his contract.

I would have preferred that the Pirates acquire a slugger. Why not Adam Dunn? The Reds asked for a lot for the privilege of assuming the tail end of his contract. The Giants wanted next to nothing for Matt Morris and his remaining contract. There's no doubt this team also needs starting pitching, so the fact that Morris is not a slugger is not much of a strike against the deal for me.

10. I'm a huge fan of Dogfish Head beer. If Dave Littlefield is extended by the new "baseball man" CEO, Bones owes me a six-pack of Dogfish Head beer. I believe my chance of acquiring this free beer has improved. I can't say why, for sure, this is evidence that Nutting's new man will retain Littlefield, but I can say that I sense that the beer is out there, wanting me and drifting my way.

All that said, Morris must be effective. Nutting and Littlefield are not off the hook for this. If Morris bombs, I will not shrug and say it was still a good idea to get him. So I like the acquisition, but it's not my job to know for sure if Matt Morris will be an effective pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates. That is Littlefield's job. If Morris is just another loser, this was an expensive mistake and another line in the incompetence book.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Game 104: Cardinals at Pirates

Wainwright and Maholm at seven.

Let's see. Overwhelmed by the opposition, demoralized and apathetic, the Pirates appear to be fighting a hopeless and ineptly-managed battle to escape 2007 with 82 wins. General Littlefield, stubborn and contrary, recommends a surge. President Nutting approves it.

. . .

Is that a terrible comparison or what?

Regardless, when will The Surge first start for us?

Matt Morris

Bucs trade Rajai Davis and PTBNL to SF for Matt Morris, mlb.com is reporting. Why?

Non-waiver trade deadline

I'm up early, waiting for the magic of Dave.

Jack Wilson to Tigers?

The Bucs and Tigers have been talking, the P-G's Dejan Kovacevic reports:

Pirates general manager Dave Littlefield's return will be negligible if Detroit assumes most or all of Wilson's contract, which pays a $5.25 million salary this season and $14.5 million for the next two. Industry observers say it is enormously unlikely the Pirates would find any team to take all of it.
OK, so lower the bar for expectations here. Looking over the Tigers' roster and pretending I'm DL, and thus hell-bent for versatile infielders who can't hit worth a damn, I see Omar Infante has played seven positions and Neifi Perez's suspension will be over soon. Maybe Jack could fetch both?

Monday, July 30, 2007

On the super cheap

Rob Biertempfel summarizes and follows up on Jim Heyman's SI.com ranking of Bob Nutting as the fifth-worst owner in MLB.

"They're not trying their hardest," Heyman said. "They're being cheap. It's a cheaper route to begin with, when you go with a long-range plan based on the farm system. But they're taking an even cheaper route on the cheap route.

"When you're that cheap, you've got to make it up by being brilliant -- and they don't have Billy Beane running the team. I don't blame (general manager Dave) Littlefield; they don't give him money to work with. They can't expect to win with one of the lowest payrolls in baseball. The owner is very cheap. Cheap owner, cheap team."

S.Zielinksi posted this at Primer. Jim Furtado is gathering information to better persuade high-payin' advertisers; if you are a fan of Primer, today would be a good day to visit and take the survey, which involves ranking all of your favorite beers and wines and spirits.

No trades for Bucs?

"Odds are the Pirates won't do anything else before the deadline," wagers Jim Molony for mlb.com.

Makes sense, I guess. The NL-worst Bucs have at least three relievers to trade and virtually no offense, while most of the other teams want relief help. Better to hold now and wait for the new GM.

R.I.P. Bill Robinson

We are saddened by the news that Bill Robinson, Pirate from 1975-1982, died Sunday at the age of 64.

We'll remember Robinson in part for his single in the top of the sixth in Game 7 of the 1979 World Series. Down 1-0, Robinson started the rally that put the Bucs up for good, by singling before Stargell's jack. All hail Bill Robinson!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Friday, July 27, 2007