Saturday, February 03, 2007

Kolb signed

He gets a minor-league deal. Huh.

Danny Kolb

DK reports the Pirates have shown interest. This is a pretty bad idea, unless Torres has some kind of secret injury. Or unless the Pirates are ready to deal a reliever or two once they have insurance in place.

It's a bad idea not because he'd be a waste of money, but because this grizzled veteran would command playing time. And that playing time would be better invested in younger pitchers. The Pirates have quite a few, and I have confidence in the ones they have.

My guess is DL thinks he can sign Kolb now and then flip him for a quality prospect mid-season or at the trading deadline. This works in a perfect world. This world is not perfect. These plans have not worked out the last few years. Odds are, Kolb will be mediocre to bad for the Pirates and no one will want him to trade for him at the price DL will demand.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Super Bowl prediction thread

Bears win, 24-21. The score does not reflect the true nature of the game, which is a Bears blowout. Late in the game, the Colts have the ball after scoring last. The score is 24-14 and it could be a game if they can score again. Manning throws an interception. In desperation, Dungy throws the red flag. The zebras huddle up and rule no interception. The stunned Bears let the Colts score two plays later but hold on to win.

What is your prediction?

La Lob

LaRoche knows the eephus, the Trib reports. His pop was an expert.

As small men, Bones and I had a book called (I think) "Strange but True Sports Stories." The section on the eephus was a favorite. The pitch was part of my repertoire back when I started every day, Japanese-style, in the neighborhood wiffle ball season.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Tony Armas Jr.

So the Pirates signed Armas Jr. today for one year with a club mutual option for a second year. Armas is relatively young for a free agent (28). He should be good for 150 innings.

This is a good low-risk signing with upside. We hope the other guys will pitch well enough (and stay healthy enough) to make Armas unnecessary. But you never know.

Now the lame hand of the gang of four can work as the fifth starter, and Chacon can start the season as a swing man or as a AAA starter. That's how I'd play the cards.

DK reports $3.5M for one year or $8M for two years. That is a good contract for the Pirates.

... 2/2 6:30am ... D. Kovacevic reports Armas has been hired for the job I more or less just described. It was not hard to predict:

Earlier this month, the Pirates retained Shawn Chacon with a one-year deal worth $3.8 million. And their plan, as general manager Dave Littlefield confirmed last night, is to use spring training to determine which of those two [Armas or Chacon] -- and, possibly, Shane Youman or Marty McLeary -- will start and which will work in long relief.

Burnett, Van Benschoten, and Bullington should start as often as they can, on a regular starter's schedule, either in Pittsburgh or in the minors. Chacon and Armas you do not demote; one or both can do the Terry Mullholland swing-man job.

It's no surprise or crime that the fifth starters will make eight or nine times more money than the front four. Salary is primarily about service time and secondarily about performance.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The competition

In a recent Q&A, Dejan Kovacevic expresses his skepticism about the quality of the NL Central competition. I'm with him there. This is one of the reasons I always expect the Pirates to win half their games: I am not impressed by the other teams in the division. Sooner or later, their stupidities will catch up to them, and the Pirates will gain from that.

Arbitration cases

John Perrotto runs them down. Any predictions?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The 650

So who leads the Pirates in PA in 2007? Bay's an obvious choice. Who else might reach 650 plate appearances? I'd guess Wilson and that's it. Adam LaRoche looks like a 550 PA guy to me, unless he's been getting minor-league at-bats the last few years. I have to look into that.

This is an important early step in doing your Pirates sudoku. Now that the team is more or less settled, it's time to do this.

It's my hunch that plenty of PT will fall to Castillo, Bautista, Nady, and Jose Hernandez. I can see all three of those guys getting all the PT they can handle.

FWIW, in that December 2005 link I predicted 6050 PA for the Pirates in 2006. They finished with we could call it 6106 (5558 AB, 459 BB, 89 (!) HBP).

new Blogger

So we moved from the old Blogger to the new Blogger, and I see the navbar, uh, that thing at the top, is back. And first we did not have it on. Then we had to have it for awhile, and then we had the option to take it off. We took it off. We took it all off.

Right now, it appears we're back to the days of navbar-that-must-be-obeyed. Once upon a time we had a few AdSense ads on the site. We made so much money we had to stop with the AdSense. (FWIW, new Blogger loves AdSense.) When we were making money on the ads, it made sense to have the Blogger ad up at the top. All hail Blogger!

Then we took the ads off the site. And this not being a commercial site, I thought it appropriate to not have a navbar. So away it went. But now, I cannot find a way to remove it. I would like to remove it, but it will not go.

All that said, Blogger's great. I recommend it, navbar or no navbar. You can create your own blog with the "create blog" link in the top right. It's easy and free.

And it is better without the navbar.

P.S. This is Rowdy. Do not be distracted--"Honest" is just a pseudonym.

Tickets getting sold

WTAE reports the Pirates are selling tickets. They are shooting for 1.9M tickets this year. If they are at or above .500 going into August, I think they will sell far more than that. If they begin the season 6-18, they will sell less than that.

What's up?

Anything new and exciting to share?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

On defense

John Perrotto has a report about Wilson's weight and the overall defense. This is worth reading and thinking about. I've come around on this subject. Call it Stockholm Syndrome if you want, but I think I now understand how it might be wise to put so much stock in players like Jack Wilson and Chris Duffy.

The Pirates were right, too, to trade the shortstop prospect before they deal Duffy. You can look through the archives on this blog for the last month or so and find posts from me explaining how I came to this position. To make a long story short, I figure Duffy over McLouth in center is worth a double a week. If you call their defense even and add a double a week to Duffy's offensive production, you realize that you are looking at a player that is very good. Also note that the Braves, who can do no wrong in some circles, wanted Duffy (Perrotto reports) to start in center for them in 2008. The Braves consider him a worthy heir to Andruw Jones' job, and that should be noted by his detractors.

Jack Wilson is another guy who I think is a good major-league player. He has to be on his game, defensively, but with the exception of last year, he has always been on his game, defensively. As Perrotto points out in that report, linked above, Jack Wilson was still an above-average defender in 2006.

When the shortstop makes an outstanding play in the field, it's probably not worth as much as when the centerfielder does the same. The shortstop has twice the opportunities, however. If a defender like Duffy prevents about one double per week (compared to a below-average centerfielder like McLouth), then I'd guess a shortstop like Wilson prevents two singles per week (compared to a below-average shortstop). But even if we call it one single per week, when you add that to Wilson's offensive numbers for the sake of comparing him to a better-hitting, less-spectacular defender, then I think Wilson would still hold his own.

I'm not saying he's a great hitter, and this has nothing to do with where he should hit in the batting order. So don't start in the comments on those themes. He is a good to great defender, I am saying, and this atones for the average to below average offense he provides. He is a good player. It's not his fault that the team does not win 81 games year after year.

Bones and I have been debating whether or not Jack Wilson is "overrated." He thinks he is--or, he thinks Jack might be the most overrated player on the team. I say no. I see no love for Jack Wilson anywhere. To be overrated, I think, a player has to be highly rated. The Pirates' front office love him, obviously, and his face is on the team's home page. And they do silly promotions with him, like the Jack-in-the-Box toy. But outside of that circle of people, I see no one trying to say that Jack Wilson is more than a mediocre to below-average ballplayer. Would you agree? Any non-Pittsburgh baseball pundits out there writing nice things about Jack Wilson? I don't see it. I'd say the Pirates have few or no players that are highly rated outside the 15212 zip code, so I doubt it's fair to say any of these guys are "overrated."