Saturday, February 17, 2007

Now pinch-bunting

This MLB.com report has me expecting Kuwata! to make the team.

He sounds like a man among boys.

Lincoln, Gerut, and Herrera

Two spring training notebooks from Dejan Kovacevic today. One deals with Lincoln and Walker. On Lincoln's elbow :

"All that is known is that there is a strained muscle in the forearm which might or might not be a sign of underlying ligament damage."
A more specific diagnosis than "irritation in the elbow" as initially described, one that could either be devastating or no big deal.

The other reports that Jody Gerut:

"...took the field once with a trainer but left soon thereafter."
Being accompanied by a trainer while simply taking the field can't be a good sign. I'm assuming Gerut jogged out (with trainer watching/spotting him), rather than Gerut being carried or wheeled out by trainer. Regardless, get well, Jody - we could use your LH bat.

The best news from today seems to be this, from this same notebook:

"Herrera was throwing a combination curve-slider that had observers buzzing."

Friday, February 16, 2007

Lincoln hurt, Walker now 3B

Bad news out of the first real day of spring training. Brad Lincoln has been shut down with an irritated elbow, the AP reports. The only other pitcher revealed to be injured on Day 1 of ST is recently acquired minor-league starter Michael Tejera, out because of shoulder pain.

The other big news is Neil Walker is officially trading in his tools of ignorance for a 3B glove.

"He'll no longer be catching," Littlefield said. "We made the decision based on his athleticism and the fact that, as we look at our organization, Neil has a lot of potential with the bat, and we think this is a quicker way for him to get to Pittsburgh."
Walker's value goes down a lot not catching. Is this move more about Paulino viewed as a fixture or Neil's mitt?

Better

John Perrotto.

Big, powerful-looking medium man

Dejan Kovacevic on Castillo's body fat.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Kuwatamania

Pitchers and catchers report today. Dejan is in Bradenton, where Masumi Kuwata is the main attraction for the Bucs. Kuwata enters as #9 on the starter depth chart. He could "throw strikes as a third-grader while blindfolded" and once "a gust of wind blew his 5-foot-9 frame off the mound for a balk". Although unable to find a video link of either of these events, this 9 minute Japanese video shows highlights of Kuwata's last outing with the Giants.

Roundtable # 15

New Pirates roundtable up, featuring one outsider per other NL Central team all predicting the Bucs will finish in last place.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Comments off

So far as I can tell, this is a haloscan issue. We have email - honestwagner at yahoo dot com - if you care to send letters. Thanks.

... comments on again. This on-and-off commenting might persist a few days while Haloscan works out whatever is going wrong for them.

All hail Michel Therrien

Dave Molinari profiles the coach.

All hail Dave H.

No more gallon of white space--archive issued fixed. Thank you Dave!

the Winning carryover

Bones had a long comment on Dejan Kovacevic's recent Tracy interview. He has his issues with Tracy, and I have mine.

I don't blame Tracy for emphasizing the positive. I do blame him for the horrible start to the 2006 season. At the end of April, they were 12 games under .500. At the All-Star Break, they were 30 games under .500.

Tracy talks about carrying over "the winning." What winning? There was no winning.

I do not have cold, hard statistics to support this next opinion: I think it is easier to play .500 ball if you spot the competition 30 games. After the team established itself as a laughingstock of historic distinction, the competition more brazenly scheduled around the Pirates in a way that improved the Pirates' chance of splitting a series. Ace starters took an extra day of rest to skip the series and save up for the Mets. Ailing position players sat out the series to rest their balky knees for the Cardinals. A team that is 30 games under .500 does not bring out the best in their opponents. So the second-half record does not impress me.

Now hey, any win is a good time. I enjoyed a lot of those 67 wins. What's not a good time, though, is looking for the improvement in the standings and finding the Pirates 16 to 30 games under .500.

And the extra kick in the groin was the eight-game losing streak in September. The Pirates faced a string of playoff-bound or playoff-bubble teams, who were all ready to rip their faces off. The Pirates responded not as the mythical .500 team of the second half but as Tracy's first-half team of astounding losing streaks.

So Tracy can say we need to keep chopping wood, we need to keep pounding the rock, we need to execute the fundamentals, etc., etc., but I want him to say we need to win games, we need to win games, we need to win games. When you take care of the little things, you take care of the little things. You do not win games, magically, by taking care of the little things. You win games by scoring more runs; you win games by winning games. This much is obvious.

And further, wins only have much meaning in the context of a winning record. So the Pirates need to establish and maintain a winning record. That, above all, must be the goal for 2007. Continuous improvement, executing fundamentals, having a family atmosphere in the clubhouse, all that is nonsense next to the need to win games and keep winning games.

As you can tell, I am impatient already for April.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Benson hurt

There was a time when I thought Benson would be an ace for many years.

Pirates must run the ball

Now I get Tracy's "pounding the rock" talk ... the Pirates are going to run the ball, Steeler style! All hail that.

This is the best suggestion I've heard since Bones invented the Wiggy wheel.

Site stuff

Things were bloggered this morning with the comments -- not sure if anyone noticed or not. Because we are old school, Haloscan manages our comments. Somehow Blogger comments got enabled (not that there is anything wrong with them) and apparently small hell broke loose.

Pat raises a question about our permalinks of dubious performance. Yah, we often get a lot of white space above single posts (or small archive pages). We do not know why. We are not IT people. We have never been able to figure out why Blogger formats such pages with the text centered, vertically, in the left side. (For example.) If anyone can see the cause in the HTML, we'd love a hint. In the meantime we'll rationalize said white space as our attempt to reach only determined readers.

Please use this thread for any other suggestions you might have about our stone-age blog.

... 6:40pm comments are blinking on and off all day. Not sure what's happening. We don't have much time to work on the site today - tomorrow we'll fix it if the problem does not solve itself.

Tracy pounds rock

You know what? I'm not going to single out Tracy or get into a big dissertation about him. He's not going to be any different from anybody else. That's all.

Dejan's classic interview provides a fresh glimpse into the festering madness of Jim Tracy.

"... you keep pounding the rock, keep making it clear that, hey, this is the way we're going to play. This is a formula that we feel has been very successful for us as a staff with other teams."
When asked why continue to stress the second half given the overall record, Jim essentially answers: "my style ... is the best." Jim wastes no time trying to personally take credit for the second half lucky streak of mediocre baseball. Tracy, as usual, also doesn't miss a chance to try to take credit for being surrounded with talent in LA.

On Jack calling out Castillo:

If you've got something that you need to talk to a teammate about -- like some of those comments that made it into print -- I just feel like those are things that can be handled behind closed doors. As you know, that's how I've handled a number of things in the past year.
I guess Dejan put him on the spot, but Jim basically calls out Jack for calling out Castillo then unfavorably compares Jack to Jim (on pedestal, and who doesn't do that kind of stuff)? "As you know..."? Wouldn't Dejan or anyone not know if it was really handled behind closed doors? My memory of last year, which might not be accurate, features Tracy regularly criticizing, often inexplicably, whoever he felt wasn't playing as hard as Jose Hernandez or Mike Edwards.

The most memorable Tracyese quote for me, one that I marveled over, re-reading again and again, trying to comprehend, was the one Azibuck modified, to plead with Jim, to please make sense:

If Jim Tracy realizes one thing, that all we're looking for is for him to meet us, as fans, halfway, and if he did that, I know this: He's a couple adjustments away on the English language side, of being the kind of speaker that makes sense once in a while.

Linkage

Made some changes to the sidebar.

Cory from ANPG and Randy from Buried Treasure have teamed up at Pittsburgh Lumber Co. Randy has been examining the Downfall of the Fam-A-Lee, and Cory has been previewing the division and getting busy with Retrosheet, so check it out if you haven't yet. The Pirates Roundtable has also moved over there and looks to be updated twice a week from here on out.

Pirates blog The Dock Ellis Experience is back. New Pirates blog links include 82, Bucs Trade Winds, and Wait 'Til Next Year.

Other added links: Pirates/Steelers blog Pie's Reviews, Cleveland/Steelers (?!) blog The POJO Dojo, other baseball blogs: Mop Up Duty, Beyond the Boxscore, U.S.S. Mariner, Brewers blog Brew Crew Ball, Cards blog Viva El Birdos, and two Braves blogs, Home of the Braves and Talking Chop (so we can better follow Craig Wilson).

The order of some of the links is now different with football links moved down.