Monday, December 29, 2008

Friday, December 26, 2008

NFL week 17

Can't sleep with all the excitement about Kansas City at Cincinnati. Holy barnburner. What a slate of games

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wake me up when the winning starts

Dejan Kovacevic reports the Pirates have hired a new radio voice, Tim Neverett.

This is big news for those of us who listen to a lot of games.

A little research shows that Neverett is well qualified for the job. He wrote this, for example, about the Rockies in May 2008:

The Rockies might just add to the suffering with their terrible start and shambles of a pitching staff. The injury to Troy Tulowitzki doesn’t matter, honestly, because he was not even hitting the weight of a high school sophomore when he went on the disabled list. Jeff Francis went zero for April in wins and started the month of May the same way. Brad Hawpe is primed to hit only six home runs this season with his one long ball a month pace and the additions of De La Rosa, Quintinilla and Hererra are starting to bring back memories of three and four seasons ago when the Rockies ran out “Todd and the Triple A Team”.

The same editorial concludes:

Settle in, relax, take your time. This summer is going to be a long one for Colorado Sports Fans. Wake me up when the winning starts, OK?

I doubt he'll catch as many zzz's as he'd like this coming summer, but it does look like he's ready to step in and explain the Pirates to us. Congratulations, Tim -- we will listen.

Free agents vs. prospects

The Bucco blogosphere has suddenly been festooned with much excellent interesting commentary on a Q+A question about free agents vs. prospects in the current market, and whether the Bay trade was wise. For the record, Rowdy and I both liked the Bay trade at the time.

Andy LaRoche has 164 ABs as a Pirate. Sure, those haven't been pretty, but give him a chance at least.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bootcheck

Reliever Chris Bootcheck has agreed to terms, Dejan reports. Bootcheck missed most of the 2006 season after injuring his hammy while running from the bullpen to the mound during an Angels brawl. This reminds me of Bucdaddy's question of why, during a bench-clearing brawl, do the bullpens both sprint in from the OF to join the donnybrook, instead of just sprinting towards each other (and saving their hammys)?

UPDATE: No deal yet.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Power pitchers

Dejan wonders how many projects Kerrigan can take on, and what the evidence for turning wild power arms into success stories is. Perhaps in Neal's defense, strikeout rate is a better predictor of future strikeout rate than walk rate to future walk rate, according to this THT piece. As far as specific examples, Ollie comes to mind. His strikeout rate has remained consistent, but walk rate varied wildly.

In other news, Rinku checks his closets for Najeh, and finds nothing.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Reinventing the Wiggy wheel

The Bucs have expressed interest in Wiggy, the P-G reports. Wiggy's breakout 2008 will probably guarantee greener pastures. But if not, management might wish to consider the reverse Wiggy wheel.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

NFL week 15

Steelers at Ravens with a lot of marbles in the pot.

I've been watching the Ravens with a lot of respect this season. They have been better than most have noticed. I felt nervous about this game early in the week, but today I don't think that's the case. I'm expecting a good game from the Steelers.

I'm also looking forward to seeing what percentage of tickets were consumed by the Steeler Nation. I get a kick out of that every week.

One man, one mound, one ball

Hot Stove update from Dejan brings news that Kerrigan will pick up some of Ronny's slack, calling games from the dugout and catching when needed. In other news, JR says Nate will lead off, Gorzo is in shape, and Kuwata still wears his Bucs jersey.

All hail Bob Smizik

We raise our glass to Bob Smizik, who after a long, illustrious, cantankerous career, is retiring. The loss of Ronny Ballgame has led many to drastic measures, and we completely understand.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Rule 5

Starting today, Donald Veal and Andres Santos will attempt to fill the void left by Ronny Franchise. The P-G reports Ramon Vazquez will be signed soon. Vazquez's fourth most comparable batter is Ed Ott. Veal will be entertaining. Neal should hire Kerrigan some Special Assistants.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Farewell Ronny Ballgame

Ronny traded to the Phils for Jason Jamarillo, the P-G reports.

I've seen them; kids, men, women, worshippers all, hoping to get his name on a torn, dirty piece of paper, or hoping for a grunt of recognition when they said, 'Hi-ya, Ronny.' He never let them down; not once. He was the greatest crowd pleaser of them all.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Winter Meetings

The Marlins want Ronny but are underestimating his worth, Dejan reports from Las Vegas.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Endearingly ridiculous

Bruce Reed, Pirate blog connoisseur and former domestic policy adviser in the Clinton administration, writes a fantastic piece on Rinku and Dinesh for Slate.

Meanwhile our new friends appear on CNN and have Thanksgiving dinner. Everyone is just stuffing their heads.

Waiting for the trade

Both the Dodgers and Tigers are in the mix for Jack Wilson, and Jack is willing to renegotiate his contract for the Dodgers, the P-G reports.

Tracy flashback

A search for a suitable Jack Wilson tribute video on youtube instead turns up one of Tracy's attempts at the longest sentence ever, from the glory days of the DL firing (fast forward to one minute for Tracy and Jack on DL's pink slip). Tracy:

You know I have a job to do here and I can honestly tell you that up to this point I can hold my head very high knowing the fact that where I felt like we were when we began on opening day of 2006 and where we're at right now, this is heading in the direction that a guy, as the manager of this club, would want to see it go.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Jack not traded yet

Dejan reports that Coonelly denies the report that Jack Wilson has been traded to the Tigers.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Gayo

Dejan thinks he failed to put Rene Gayo into words in Part 3 of his Dominican series. The walking contradiction of Rene Gayo could be simplified into Tracyese: Rene is a big, powerful-looking, big man. Who breaks into tears upon remembering giving away an extra 10K of Mr. Nutting's money.

In other news, Rinku and Dinesh don't yet break the top 5 international Bucco prospects, and Ed Eagle catches up with Dave Parker, who makes his case for the Hall-of-Fame.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

NFL week 13

Hellified ball at Foxborough starting soon.

All hail Sadid

Part one of Dejan's Caribbean story (with movie) features Rene Gayo at work signing 18-year-old Sadid Frias for seven times what Rinku and Dinesh got. The story mentions the Pirates used DNA and bone tests to nullify the contract of one of last year's Dominican signees, "Joldi Sierra", who was lying about his name and age. All hail honest young Sadid Frias, and the tripling of Rene Gayo's budget!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Pushing Paulino

Dejan returns with a Hot Stove update. Jack, Grabow, and Ronny are for sale. Neal is "kicking the tires on every 4-A starter out there." The Astros recently expressed interest in JVB as a hitter, but he wants to keep pitching.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Rinkumania

Brilliant move by Neal, making history with signing Rinku and Dinesh. Now Neal needs to seal the deal, for the betterment of humanity, and make the continuation of The Million Dollar Arm Blog a condition in the contract.

Dinesh on Barry:

Mr. Bonds sir has the finest house anyone could ever imagine. He has many animals that he has hunted and preserved to display. He has his own real movie theater. he also has many cars and a gym just like the one at USC. He even has a mirror that turns into a TV! GAZAB!
Rinku on pork ribs, cops, and healthcare:
Back at home; we had Marty sir and his wife over for dinner. Just like we promised. You’ll know the menu by now. We don’t want to risk making anything but pork ribs. However, I’m not gonna ever handle pork ribs after today. I cut couple of my fingers trying to slice it before serving. Marty sir called the cops. They need to be informed about the smallest incident here. Poor Marty sir came under suspicion initially when the cops got in. They left us with a hospital address once they were satisfied nothing untoward had happened.

I wish I hadn’t gone for any treatment though. I reeled at the bill they produced for some simple bandaging and a tetanus shot. 300 bucks! It’s whooping. They took me to the emergency room for such a clear-cut case (pun intended). I didn’t get any meds and neither did they do anything to ease the pain. To put salt to injury, we had a stack of forms to sign as a procedure. Deepesh sir and I went into hysterics and laughed our guts out. It was crazy. Back home in India, we would’ve gotten treated just fine for a mere twenty rupees. Healthcare here is indecently expensive. I hope I don’t make another visit to a hospital here for whatever reasons.

Walkoff Walk has been following our two new heroes for awhile.

Are you not entertained?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bucs sign two Indians

Bucs sign two young Indian pitchers, winners of the "Million Dollar Arm" contest, reports the P-G. The two have their own blog (link via Deadspin). Welcome aboard, Rinku and Dinesh!

Hot stove

The Tigers are still looking at Jack Wilson, reports the Detroit Free Press. Matt Capps is potentially available, says ESPN. No word yet on possible McLouth and Freddy suitors, perhaps because Neal has been overwhelmed by near-ubiquitous interest in Ronny Ballgame.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

40-Man

Set for the Rule V draft. Bucs protect Lerud and Uviedo over Romak and Bloom. Bloom has been on fire in Hawaii, but career-wise, is no stranger to the base-on-balls. Romak has an Eldredesque K-rate and has not yet established himself at AA. Assuming Jason Davis does not belong on the 40-man, it seems the Bucs have room for Eduardo Morlan or another Rule V pick.

In other news, we raise our glass and wish the best of luck to JVB, who will be playing for another team next year. All hail JVB!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

NFL week 12

Starts tomorrow.

Bengals at Steelers, 8pm.

Daytime high in the mid 30s, cloudy, some wind, good chance of snow. Should be fun.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

NFL week 11

Chargers at Steelers underway. Ben only sacked once in the first four minutes.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Free agents

Given this free agent list, which cheap free agents should Neal pursue for a RH power hitter, a veteran starter, and a bullpen guy? I'll start with: Milton Bradley (OPS+ of 153 and 163 the last two years), Josh Fogg, and Julian Tavarez. The 2009 Bucs should not enter the record books without a fight, and a Bradley/Tavarez ticket would fight this fight, with or without Dirty Doug.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Week 10 NFL

... Steelers host the Colts on Sunday at four. The way the Steelers defense has been playing, I almost pity the Colts' offense.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Joe Kerrigan

New pitching coach announced today. Kerrigan will try to clean up Jeff Dr. James Andrews' mess.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

NFL week 7

The Steelers play the Bengals in Cincinnati. Not sure what the Bengals will do to the field this year to try to gain a small advantage -- maybe a ton of sand, or maybe they leave the sprinklers on all night -- but they will probably do some kind of low-class chiseler move since they usually do.

The Bengals are 0-6. Teams that have not yet won a game at home can be dangerous at home, since there is an extra ton of pressure to win for the season ticket holders. And I have friends who worry that the Steelers (at least under Cowher) had/have a tendency to play down to bad teams on the road. I don't remember this happening so much, I say in response, with division games. If they were at Kansas City, I would be more worried.

Anything can happen of course. We all know that. But this one is not making me nervous a few hours before kickoff.

It looks like Casey Hampton, Willie Parker, and Marvel Smith will not play. Hampton might be the most underrated Steeler as the DT in the 3-4. But Chris Hoke is even more underrated as his backup, so the defense should be OK. Moore should start for Parker, who kept missing practice last week with the knee injury, and the Undertaker will start for Smith. Rookie wideout Limas Sweed should make his debut today. All in all, I don't think all this player news amounts to much beyond the fact that such key injuries expose the Steelers. If Hoke is healthy, they will be fine if Hampton sits; but if both those guys are too hurt to play ... etc. etc.

Finally, let's cheer sludgeworm for his 61-27 record against the spread this season. He is blowing away the rest of our pool. All hail sludge!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

On bye

No game this week for the Steelers. The Ravens are in Indiana, the Bengals are at the Meadowlands, and the Browns will host the Giants tomorrow night on Monday Night Football.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Monday, October 06, 2008

Saturday, October 04, 2008

NFL week 5

Ever stay up really, really late on Saturday just so you could roll out of bed, Sunday, just in time for the 1pm kickoffs?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Lanny retires

News here at the Post-Gazette.

Steelers maimed

The Steelers are dealing with a lot of injuries.

Can they make Polamalu a two-way player? I'd like to see him run the draw. Or get some time on the offensive line.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pedro goes yard

The P-G's Colin Dunlap was there for Pedro Alvarez's first Bucco dinger:

The power everyone spoke of perked up, when Alvarez hit a prodigious, no-doubter over the fence in right-center that travelled onto the property of an adjacent golf course.
Dejan's analysis and grades are in. Ronny Ballgame fails and will "surely will be shopped in offseason to teams that see more." Overall, the grades seem fair. If I had to bicker, Duke's C- seems too generous for his league-worst .304 BAA. J-Mike's Clutch doesn't outweigh his .228/.300/.382 line for a B-, and no way Nyjer's 91 OPS+ and striking out 20% of the time is satisfactory for a starting OF.

Monday, September 29, 2008

NFL week 4: Ravens at Steelers

Roethlisberger and Flacco run for their lives as the Rashard Mendenhall Era begins.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Game 158: Pirates at Brewers

Maholm and Sabathia at eight.

Maholm is going for his twentieth fifteenth twelfth tenth win.

In other news, the Lions fired Dave Littlefield Matt Millen.

Pedro Alvarez, Pittsburgh Pirate

MLB and the union have settled their grievance. Pedro Alvarez is in Pittsburgh and his signing will be announced at a press conference shortly, Dejan reports. Welcome aboard, Pedro.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Game 157: Pirates at Brewers

Karstens vs. Bush at eight. The Brewers trail the Mets by one game in the wild card race, and have won nine in a row against the Bucs.

Meanwhile, testimony has been halted in the union's grievance hearing as the Bucs and Pedro work on finalizing a contract.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Alvarez and Bucs agree to new contract

Pedro and the PBC have agreed to a four-year, major league contract worth a guaranteed $6,355,000, reports the P-G's Dejan Kovacevic. Supposedly the contract will be signed pending a physical, which could happen as early as this week, and the contract would quash the pending grievance. All hail El Matatan!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Game 155: Astros at Pirates

Jimmy Barthmaier and Scuffy Moehler open for Lynyrd Freakin' Skynyrd. Game at seven.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Game 154: Astros at Pirates

Snell and Wolf at seven open for Zambelli fireworks. Among qualifying NL starters, Snell is dead last in ERA (5.69), WHIP (1.83!), and BAA (.313). Must protect manhood.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Game 152: Dodgers at Pirates

Chad Billingsley and the Dodgers will play baseball at PNC tonight at seven. Zach Duke and the Bucs will try not to embarrass themselves again.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Game 151: Dodgers at Pirates

Karstens vs. Lowe at seven. Pup Night! Last chance this year to bring your dog to the park.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Game 150: Dodgers at Pirates

Ohlendorf vs. Kuroda at seven. Cutch and Neil Walker will be in the dugout, absorbing the teachings of Ronny Ballgame.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

NFL week 2: Steelers at Browns

Game at eight.

Game 149: Cardinals at Pirates

Thompson and Davis at one-thirty.

The Pirates ride this two-game winning streak to 62-86. If the season ended today, I believe they would have the fourth overall pick in the draft. Only Washington (56), San Diego (57), and Seattle (57) have fewer wins.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Friday, September 12, 2008

Game 147: Cardinals at Pirates

The Pirates are still looking for win number "far more" tonight as the Cardinals send Pineiro to the mound to compete with Maholm.

Game is scheduled for seven, but the weather is not looking cooperative.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Game 145: Pirates at Astros

The Pirates will attempt, once again, to stop the streaking Astros.

Gorzelanny and Moehler at eight.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Game 143: Pirates at Astros

Snell and Arias at eight.

Astros are 76-67 and six games out in the wild card race. They trail Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and St. Louis.

This is the kind of series the Pirates lose big time. Every September they lay down for teams like this. So if this year is like last year, the year before, etc., then the Pirates get swept.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Game 137: Pirates at Reds

Snell and Harang at 7.

The Pirates are 22 games under .500.

The NFL season begins this this week, so it's time for the pick 'em pool. If you signed up for the Honest Wagner Pick 'em Pool last year, you are still in the pool once you remember your login and account password. The password for the pool is 51yardparker. Go to Pigskin.com to revive or make your account.

And if you have some time to kill, the youtubes are full of little Steeler movies. There are not so many 2008 Pirates highlights.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Labor Day

I don't get Labor Day. To celebrate labor, no one goes to work?

The Pirates have the day off.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Game 140: Bats at Indians

No game for the Pirates today, but the last-place Indians host the first-place Bats at seven. It's family night.

Family night means four box seats, four hot dogs, four sodas, and four Indians Hats will cost you $52. Funny, I don't see anything about four beers.

Who do they think they are kidding?

There might be an audio feed here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Pedro Alvarez

I have not yet read all the Pedro Alvarez stuff -- just the postings on the PG blog, including the statements from the Pirates. My first impression is that there must be more to the story.

Game 133: Cubs at Pirates

Marquis and Duke at twelve-thirty.

Pretty good chance of rain, so this one might go on as long as last night's game.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Game 132: Cubs at Pirates

Zambrano and Snell at seven. Pirates are 57-74, and they are tied for fifth in the NL Central.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Game 130: Pirates at Brewers

Maholm and Sabathia at two.

Steelers begin the season two weeks from today with a home opener against Houston.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Game 128: Pirates at Brewers

Zach Duke and Dave Bush tonight at 8.

Update: Pearce sent down to make way for Dirty Doug, who returns tonight. Gorzo will start tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Game 127: Pirates at Cardinals

Davis and Wellemeyer at 8.

Pirates are 57-69, twelve games under .500 and 20.5 games out of first place.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Game 123: Mets at Pirates

Pedro Martinez, Zach Duke, another Skyblast.

Dejan Kovacevic's coverage of the draft signing deadline makes Coonelly, Huntington, and Nutting look real good. Here's hoping these guys produce for the Pirates.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Game 121: Reds at Pirates

Tonight we have Cueto and Snell, the LaRoche brothers, Zambelli fireworks, and REO Speedwagon.

This one will sell out or come close. Game starts at 7.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Game 119: Reds at Pirates

Jeff Karstens makes his home debut against Edinson Volquez at seven. C'mon, shutout.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Friday, August 01, 2008

Game 109: Pirates at Cubs

Jeff Karstens will make his debut this afternoon at Wrigley. Jason Marquis will start for the Cubs. Game on at 2.

So ... guess today's lineup. I'm not sure I'd start all those new guys in a day game after moving at the trade deadline, but maybe John Russell will.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bay traded

Kovacevic, from his blog, which still is hard to load:

UPDATE 4:56 p.m.: No updates for a while. I am heading to the ballpark for Neal Huntington's gathering. Look up something about these four players on your own, and place them in the comments. Already have three texts from people with other teams saying, essentially, "Wow," at the Pirates' return. And in a positive way. I have no opinion. The only one of these prospects I know is LaRoche's brother. Hansen throws 97 mph. I hear the ESPN guys gushing about it hear in the background, too.

He asks that you post whatever info/dirt you have on these guys in the comments over there.

. . . (earlier) . . .

By Dejan Kovacevic | 4:30 p.m. Thursday

The Pirates traded All-Star left fielder Jason Bay to the Boston Red Sox as part of a three-team deal in their only move before Major League Baseball's 4 p.m. deadline.

Boston sent outfielder Manny Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers as part of the deal. The Pirates will receive Brandon Moss, Craig Hansen, Andy LaRoche and Avery Morris.

Video here: Brandon Moss, Craig Hansen, Andy Laroche, and Avery Morris, who is a little younger than I expected.

. . . more news from DK:

The Pirates will receive third baseman Andy LaRoche - Adam's brother - outfielder Brandon Moss, and right-handed pitchers Craig Hansen and Bryan Morris. LaRoche, Moss and Hansen will join the Pirates' 25-man roster for the game tomorrow in Chicago. Morris will be assigned to Class A Hickory.

Three of these guys will be in Chicago tomorrow. Brandon Moss is a 1B/OF and could start in left. Hansen is this relief pitcher, I guess. Avery Bryan Morris (no relation to Matt, Bones tells me) must be this low-A starter.

Afternoon of July 31st

Trade deadline in 90 minutes.

Here are some links to jam on:

Dejan Kovacevic's PBC Blog. Kovacevic, the beat writer for the Post-Gazette, has much better access and information than most. Unfortunately, the Post-Gazette was not prepared to handle a high level of traffic this afternoon, so it often stalls out and does not load right now.

Jim Furtado's last-minute trade news thread. Baseball Primer is a gang forum with hundreds of outstanding posters who are fans of all the big-league teams. If someone delivers a scoop on the ratio or on TV, a Primate will probably share this here. You will also get a mixture of mainly amusing and very good analysis from a group of people who are, on the whole, unusually well-informed.

Ken Rosenthal's blog for Fox Sports always delivers some inside dope.

Jayson Stark reports trade deadline news here for ESPN.

Will Carroll might have news on the Baseball Prospectus Unfiltered blog.

A Pirates-fan-only version of Primer is the OnlyBucs.org forum. Look for the most recent posts in the "OnlyBucs Fan Forum" -- the threads are sorted by most recent post, which you will see if you peruse the right column of the fan forum's home page.

You might also check the comments to this post, if haloscan holds up and can deliver them on this, a very busy day (I imagine) for haloscan-powered blogs.

Enjoy the day. I expect little to no trading to happen this afternoon, so I will kick back, put my boots on the table, savor a beer or two, and listen to the bugs hum.

No game tonight. Karstens will get a chance to go all Drabek on the Cubs tomorrow at two.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Trade time

Ground is shaking.

. . . Peter Gammons says you can go to bed.

. . . good morning. Jayson Stark says Manny deal is 50-50.

Game 108: Rockies at Pirates

Cook for the hapless Rockies. Duke for the Pirates. Game starts at seven.

Dejan Kovacevic is providing frequent updates on his new blog. There is no better source for bloggy information.

the 30th

Good game last night.

Today is a trade rumor day. All kinds of trades may or may not happen today or tomorrow.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Game 106: Rockies at Pirates

Your 2007 NL Champions, who have won 9 of 10 and just swept the Reds, will scrounge up a starter to face Ian Snell tonight. The Rockies are ten games under .500; the Pirates are nine games under .500.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Beer

DFH 60 min for me. This is a beer that you really must pour out into a pint glass to drink. I tried to drink one straight from the bottle and did not like it. There seems to be a syrupy thing straight from the bottle that I don't taste from a frosty pint glass. Am I nuts or what.

I've had enough of these Pirates for the weekend. What are you drinking?

Game 105: Padres at Pirates

Jake Peavy and Paul Maholm at 1:30.

As you wait for the game, read Wilbur. He's persuasive.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Game 104: Padres at Pirates

Banks and JVB.

Nady and Marte for Tabata, Ohlendorf, Karstens, and D. McCutchen

I read some of the trade comments left by people on the other blogs. First off, people pay way too much attention to the pissy comments made by television broadcasters and rival GMs. You will grow gray and die before these people talk about Pittsburgh in a way that's fair and not infuriating. The Pirates should be run to win games and not to please the media or impress the scouts and GMs who work for other teams.

So throw out all the complaints that reference a rival's or a media personality's snap opinion. Evaluate the trade for yourself.

Here's what I say. I'm not a fan of trading excellent everyday players for long-shot prospects. In theory I think it's not sound. In practice it can work. It depends on the players, and it depends on the prospects.

Xavier Nady is a 120-game-per-year player. He's already played 90 games this year. He might go on to set a career high in games played; maybe he'll play 150 this year and set a new career high in at-bats (468 is his current career high). Guys like this tend to be underrated, but I don't think Pirate fans are reacting to the trade like this is the case. He's not the equivalent of Jason Bay or Jack Wilson in the playing time department. For the sake of argument, let's not regard Bay and Wilson as every-game players any more. Still, the difference between a 125-game player and a 140-game player is large: it's two weeks starting a replacement player.

Nady also has a career OPS under 800. He's 29 and he's having a career year. To put his career in perspective, his most comparable batters are Pedro Munoz, Shane Spencer, Herb Perry, Don Lenhardt, Dick Kokos, Harry Anderson, and Jim Greengrass.

He's been a great player this year and, by all reports, an even better clubhouse personality. I don't see him as someone who has a career that suggests he would also be a great player for us in 2009 and 2010. He's the kind of player you trade high.

Damaso Marte? He's a relief pitcher.

I like the prospects the Pirates got for these guys. I think they got a good haul. I also think the team has an unusual and urgent need for starting pitchers. I don't think the trade makes the 2009 Pirates significantly worse, and I think that even the 2008 Pirates might not be so worse off as people are talking.

Sure, Nady was one of our best hitters, but the shape and nature of his relatively long career suggest that he was likely to cool off or get hit by a pitch and miss a month.

Marte was our best relief pitcher, but where's there is opportunity, some kind of breakout usually follows. There's a good chance that someone will pitch as well in the vacancy created by Marte. And relief pitchers are not the most dependable variety of ballplayers.

... update ... the change of players does not alter my perception of the trade. Three minor-league starters with some promise plus Tabata for Nady and Marte is a good return. I'm not persuaded by overconfident prospect forecasting, so comments like "middle-relief fodder" or "#4 starter" don't carry a lot of weight with me. Such comments might depress my expectations, as they should, but there are no guarantees. Given the chance, some players will grow and outperform expectations. Others will wilt and fail.

And duh, the Pirates could use middle relievers and #4 starters, so the minor-league pitchers fill an obvious need.

So, for sure, the trade is not killing the Pirates this year or next.

And as always, more comments in the comments ...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Game 103: Padres at Pirates

Baek and Duke, starting about now.

... sounds like Marte and Nady to New York-A for half a AA team.

... Bones & Rowdy give the trade two thumbs up.

High draft picks are for Losers

The off-day Dejan Kovacevic describe the Alvarez situation in this report of his phone call with Scott Boras, a burly dude who wears black turtlenecks and expensive watches.

Boras argues that Alvarez is a can't-miss player, an elite prospect. He compares him to the best players he has represented out of the draft. (I wouldn't make comparison to J.D. Drew, if I were Boras, given the way he bungled the Philadelphia negotiations, but whatever.) Boras argues that the Pirates need to pay Alvarez a lot of money because it's a good investment for the Pirates. The Pirates, obviously, are balking at the high asking price. And they are of a mind to offer less each week that goes by without seeing Alvarez in the minor leagues getting ready for next year.

The Pirates got themselves into this situation by Losing. Littlefield avoided players like Alvarez in the draft, a plan with predictable bad results. One, the Pirates have not produced so many good players with their high draft picks, and a winning team team needs good players. So, two, the Pirates have been perpetual Losers. And three, the fans of the Pirates caught on to this cheap philosophy and have wisely demanded better from the new leadership.

Boras must know the pressure that the Pirates are under to pay what he wants for Alvarez. Here the new leadership pays a price for the incompetence of the old leadership. They are over a barrel. They have to sign this guy. They could not sign him, but this would surely perpetuate losing much more than the opportunity cost associated with overpaying for Alvarez.

The way to get out of this situation is not get into it. The truth of the matter is this. The Pirates do not want high draft picks. High draft picks are for Losers. Literally -- you have to lose a lot of games to get a draft pick capable of claiming a player like Pedro Alvarez. You lose that many games, get that high a draft pick, and then you pay the Loser's Fine to the Bad Man in the Black Turtleneck.

The Pirates need good players to stop Losing. So, obviously the way to solve the problem begins with getting the good player. Once they get the player, the next step is equally obvious: stop being such Losers. That's the only way to avoid getting into this situation again.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Game 102: Padres at Pirates

Friars come to town to match Clay Hensley up against Yoslan Herrera. Game on at 7.

Alumni autographs day. Former Bucs Grant Jackson, Barry Jones and John Smiley will sign autographs on the Riverwalk from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Bones and I met John Smiley in his rookie season. He was amused.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Game 101: Pirates at Astros

One more game on fantasy island before the Pirates come home to face the Randy Wolf-less Padres. It's a day game. Snell and Moehler will start.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Game 100: Pirates at Astros

Maholm and Cassel at 8.

I happily slept through last night's adventure. Today I was going to pack up & send in the win meter for repairs, but it looks like it buzzed to life while I was sleeping. FWIW it's humming pleasantly, perhaps because Maholm is the scheduled starter.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Game 97: Pirates at Rockies

In what's likely to be a low-scoring game, Yoslan Herrera starts tonight against Jorge de la Rosa.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Game 95: Pirates at Rockies

Pirates have been much more entertaining than in previous years, and they come out of the All-Star break six games under at 44-50.

There may or may not be a whole lot of talk about trading players soon. The place to get prospects, I think, is the draft. I have not done any scientific studies of the question, but I doubt any of those fabled winning small-market franchises were built on trading very good players for lottery tickets. More likely they drafted well year after year.

As far as I know, too, the Pirates are under no great need to trim salary.

And it also does not look to me like the Pirates have a lot of top minor-league talent that's blocked. Is it so urgent that Pearce graduate? If so, he's about the only one.

The team surely needs more reliable starters. So does most every other team in the league. The Pirates will have to grow their own. It's hard to see how trading Xavier Nady would solve the problems with the rotation.

Tonight it's Maholm and Jimenez in mountain time at like 9 o'clock.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Off day

Nate did pretty good last night. All hail Nate!

Week-long road trip starts tomorrow in Colorado.

Monday, July 14, 2008

At the break

Pirates are 44-50.

Home Run Derby tonight.

Your lying eyes might say otherwise, but the guy on the mound will not be Tom Gorzelanny.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Game 93: Cardinals at Pirates

Yoslan Herrera makes his major league debut vs. Todd Wellemeyer at seven.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Game 92: Cardinals at Pirates

Zambelli Fireworks!

But, you have to sit through a baseball game.

Kyle Lohse and Zach Duke at seven.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Game 91: Yankees at Pirates

The teams will try to make up that postponed game from last month.

Paul Maholm and Ed Asner at seven.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Game 89: Astros at Pirates

Backe and Snell at 7. Snell, like Dumatrait yesterday, comes off some extra rest.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Game 88: Astros at Pirates

Runelvys Hernandez and Phil "Kama Sutrait" Dumatrait at 7. Dumatrait returns from the rest that he needed to recover from the strain of so many difficult positions.

And, the Brewers kick off the silly season by making a big trade.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Game 85: Pirates at Brewers

Tom Gorzelanny and Ben Sheets this afternoon.

Pirates are 40-44 but only 15-25 on the road this year.

Also curious in the standings right now: The Rockies are 35-51. We had a pretty interesting debate the other night about whether this Pirates team is underachieving or overachieving. Opinions were split down the middle.

I've always thought that it should be "not hard" to finish at .500, and that a .500 season should not be regarded -- all by itself -- as evidence that a .550 season was the inevitable next step. A .500 breakout could be followed by a .450 slump. It also seems to me that I can look around the league every year and see a bunch of .500 teams that are pretty sorry. Are they lucky or are they overachieving? Or, are the 67-win teams underachieving?

The recent history of the Rockies tells a story. I'm not sure what is that story, but it seems somewhat relevant. Colorado win totals from 2001-2008: 73, 74, 74, 68, 67, 76, 90. Hmmmmmmmm.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Off day

No game today. An orthopedic surgeon and a physical therapist offer their comments on internal rotation deficit. Meanwhile, Dejan discusses Capps, bunting, and stadium etiquette in today's Q+A.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Game 84: Pirates at Reds

John Van Benschoten and Daryl Thompson soon enough.

Matt Capps out for July and August and I guess, September as well. I'm not a medical professional, and I don't understand his injury, but as a fan I know that when they say "eight weeks" it usually means "rest of the season and maybe some of next season too."

Insert expletives here.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Game 83: Pirates at Reds

Zach Duke takes on Edinson Volquez tonight at seven. Six games under and back in the basement, the integrity of the travesty appears safe. For now.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Game 82: Pirates at Reds

Paul Maholm vs. the Harangutan starting soon. Paul Meyer notes that for the first time in 52 years, the Bucs' pitcher is not batting ninth.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Game 81: Rays at Pirates

Gorzelanny vs. Sonnanstine starting now. Bucs are on pace for 77 wins.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Game 80: Rays at Pirates

Edwin Jackson and Ty Taubenheim tonight.

Mid-season editorial

As they approach the mid-point in the season, the big story is the ineffectiveness of most of the pitching staff.

The Pirates are rolling with a few flat tires in the starting rotation, and the failures of the starters have taken a toll on the bullpen. Opponents are averaging about 8 runs per game over the last week or so.

Edwin Jackson will start against Ty Taubenheim, who has been called up to make a start for the Pirates tonight. Denny Bautista, who was acquired in a low-risk trade to provide some relief for the overworked mop-up crew, has gone on the DL. T.J. "Steely Mc" Beam and John Van Benschoten have been recalled to eat innings, if they can. Dejan Kovacevic reports for the Post-Gazette that the indestructible-looking "Franky Six Fingers" Osoria could also be headed to the DL. Kovacevic also reports that Cuban defector Yoslan Herrara could be called up to start next week. Rotoworld reports the Bucs just picked up Ryan Drese. I guess we'll see him on the big club pretty soon.

The Bucs are 37-42 and seven games back in the race for the wild card. Another loss tonight and they'll fall to that depressing depth, six games under. One measure published by Baseball Prospectus suggests the Pirates have a 1 in 200 chance of making the postseason.

Pirate fans may be asking themselves if they think the team should gun for a .500 season, thus breaking that depressing run of non-winning seasons, or if they should make roster moves and trades that sacrifice the present somewhat for the future. I see the distinction as a false one. On one hand, .500 is not satisfying. If they finish the year at .500, I expect most Pirate fans will feel silly for thinking it was going to feel like a big accomplishment. It won't land the Pirates in the playoffs. On the other hand, I'm deeply skeptical of plans that see much beyond next year. In most cases, I think the best decision for next year is also the best decision for the rest of this season. And plans for two years down are fool's gold. Of course the team should stockpile all the best young talent they can; what I object to, and scoff at, to some extent, are the kind of plans that spell out who is our CF, who is our ace pitcher, who is our clean-up hitter, etc., in years as far away as 2010 and 2011. If the team stockpiles all the depth and promise it can in the minor leagues, it's wise to believe that players will appear as needed. What's not wise is pretending you know exactly which prospects will pan out, or which veterans will pull up gimpy and ineffective.

So it's six of one, half dozen of the other. The Pirates need to make roster moves and trades that will make them a better team right now and for next year. .500 can't be a goal, and liquidating the roster talent in the belief that there will be, at some later date, stunningly effective ways to spend that saved salary, can't be the plan.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Game 80: Rays at Pirates

Jimmy Barthmaier vs. Scott Kazmir at seven. Rays are a half game out of first. Barthmaier, who broke out in Indy, makes his major league debut.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Game 77: Yankees at Pirates

Beauty vs. the Beast at seven.

The starting pitchers will be Darrell Rasner and Tom Gorzelanny.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Snell's elbow

Ian Snell will have an arthrogram tomorrow due to right elbow irritation that flared up today, reports the P-G. Snell also had this to say:

"I never give up. I don't care if people boo me, tell me I [stink], whatever. You're not going to take my manhood from me or my competitiveness from me. Nobody will ever do that! Ever! Until the day I die, then you take it from me."

Game 76: Blue Jays at Pirates

Ian Snell vs. Dustin McGowan at 1:35 PM EDT.

Rotation anchor Phil Dumatrait has been placed on the DL with a left shoulder injury. T.J. "Steely Mc" Beam has been recalled from Indy, where he was dominant. Dejan has the scoop and also suggests that Marte might not be traded. Meanwhile, Paul Meyer reminisces over the 1960 World Series.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Game 75: Blue Jays at Pirates

Paul Maholm vs. former Rays' batboy Jesse Litsch starting soon. Nady's not on the DL, as Salas was sent down. Dirty Doug gets the start in RF.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Game 74: Blue Jays at Pirates

Duke vs. Halladay at seven. The Post-Gazette reports that Nyjer Morgan (.559 OPS at Indy) has been called up, presumably because Nady (.886 OPS) is going on the DL. Win meter: broken.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Game 73: Pirates at White Sox

Dumatrait vs. Floyd at two. Breakout vs. Even Bigger Breakout. Fourth place vs. first place. 7 runs vs. 24 runs. Pistol-whippee vs. pistol-whipper. Beer vs. beer. Jolly Roger: proudly unfurled vs. shamefully concealed.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Game 72: Pirates at White Sox

Gorzelanny vs. Buehrle at eight. Despite yesterday's pistol-whipping, Bay's stomach virus, and Gorzo's 35K:46BB ratio, victory is imminent as Iowa Pirate braves floods and a beating to fly the Jolly Roger.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Game 71: Pirates at White Sox

Ian Snell vs. Javier Vazquez at eight as interleague play continues. Although Nady is out with the acromioclavicular joint* sprain and Vazquez has eaten more innings than the entire Bucs rotation, Snell is coming off two decent starts and ALR is hypnotically descending from the treestand, so victory is imminent (if J-Mike wills it to be so).

* the acromioclavicular joint, or AC joint, is the connection between the clavicle and scapula.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Game 69: Pirates at Orioles

Zach Duke vs. Radhames Liz at seven. According to BA, Liz has freakishly long arms - standing up straight his fingers stretch to below his knees. Also freaky is that his scapula makes an audible clicking noise every time he throws a pitch.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Game 68: Pirates at Orioles

Dumatrait and Burres at seven. Only one team will emerge at .500. Regardless of .500 being just mediocre and nothing to be content with, tonight's game is a big freakin' deal.

First, as Dejan points out, a win "would mark the latest in a season the Pirates have been .500 since Sept. 1, 1999." Is it Freakshow II? Are you not entertained?

Second, Dumatrait's first pitch will be the first Bucco pitch in Baltimore since Teke's on Oct. 17, 1979.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Game 67: Nationals at Pirates

Gorzelanny and Bergmann in half an hour. ALR gets the day off. Dirty Doug at first and Gomez at third.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Game 65: Nationals at Pirates

Maholm and Redding at seven. Bucs are two games under .500 but only a half game out of the basement.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Game 64: D-Backs at Pirates

Zuke vs. the Unit. Game on.

Wilbur on draft

Wilbur Miller's profiles of the 2008 draft class are up. All hail WTM for surviving this torturous exercise during the DL/Creech era, and maintaining his invaluable site.

In other post-draft linkage, scout.com gives the Bucs the second highest draft grade in MLB: "Beyond just the elite talent at the front of the class, the depth that Pittsburgh added really is remarkable".

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Game 62: D-Backs at Pirates

Whatever is inhabiting the recesses of Tom Gorzelanny's mind takes on Dan Haren tonight at seven. Gorzo can't keep up his 1.87 WHIP and 28 K to 40 BB act for much longer.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Game 61: D-Backs at Pirates

Snell and Webb at seven. Ronny calls the game remotely from Indy.

Day two of the draft continues. None of JR's kids taken yet.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Game 60: Astros at Pirates

Maholm vs. Backe starts now. An angry Wiggy stands between the Bucs and a trip out of the basement.

Draft thread

C'mon, lucky seven. Baby needs a new pair of shoes!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Game 58: Astros at Pirates

Wandy Rodriguez and Phil Dumatrait tonight at seven.

If I had to pick one game to go see the Pirates, I'd look for a game where they are facing Wandy Rodriguez. I don't much of anything about Wandy, but the way the Pirates bat him around, when his name is drawn as the match-up, I'm always surprised to see he's still in the league.

The weather could be better for this one.

In other news, Bo Diddley died. The ipod shuffled through "Dearest Darling" about two hours before I heard the news. That would be freaky except that I listen to Bo Diddley all the freakin' time. The man was pretty good.

And, oh yeah, last night there was a hockey game. It was pretty good.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Game 56: Pirates at Cardinals

Ian Snell and Braden Looper at two.

It's June. Now is when bad starts become bad first halves.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Game 51: Pirates at Reds

Snell and Cueto at seven tonight.

Pirates are 24-26, five and a half back of first.

The YTD stats are somewhat comical. Not in a good way. Bay is back with a 950 OPS. McLouth, a guy we called "Frodo" when he came up with Duffy ("Sam"), wants to be an All-Star with a 1025 OPS. He is proving something this season, but I'm pretty skeptical he'll keep that Vlad Guerrero-like pace all year long. Nady (900 OPS) and Doumit (950 OPS) have been solid. Cue the Benny Hill music for the rest of the numbers: Paulino (500), LaRoche (700), Sanchez (600), Bixler (440).

The only starting pitcher who has been league-average has been Dumatrait.

The bullpen has been great.

More than half that offense will be better, but that does not mean they will be good. Of the four sluggers, only Bay I think is likely to maintain that pace in something like everyday play. Doumit and Nady could too. Whatever happens, I don't expect the offense to dramatically improve.

The bullpen could stay the same. The starters should improve. The substitution of Dumatrait for Morris, alone, might be enough to pace the team to 26 wins in the next 50 games. Heck, if they can manage 24 of 50 with these numbers, I guess I expect -- assuming no major subtraction of players through trade or injury (big assumption) -- that this team will still be around .500 at the 100-game mark.

And this is falling in line with expectations I've had for a long time. When the Pirates finally finish a season at .500, we will be underwhelmed, on the whole, with both the record and the general range of individual performances. .500 is mediocre.

That said, we will enjoy all the victories. It is cool to watch, listen, or attend a game and see it end with a victory. I don't get tired of that.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Off day

The Pirates are not playing this Memorial Day, for some reason. Tomorrow they will start a stretch of twenty games in twenty days.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Game 48: Cubs at Pirates

Zambrano and Duke. Pirates have to do better than 1-8 against the division's frontrunner.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Game 47: Brewers at Pirates

Dave Bush and Tom Gorzelanny in half an hour.

Bucs in a bit of tailspin here. How low will they go before they get within a series of .500 again?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Game 46: Brewers at Pirates

Ben Sheets and Ian Snell in about an hour.

What are your expectations for Snell going forward? I see him settling down and clubbing the crap out of the league through the end of the summer. I'm not sure when he'll start all this though. Maybe tonight?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Friday, May 16, 2008

Game 42: Pirates at Cubs

The Pirates draw Chicago for six of the next nine games. The Bucs are 0-for-6 against the Cubs this year, so now would be a good time to figure them out.

Today they will play the second of four consecutive day games. The starting pitchers will be Tom Gorzelanny and Sean Gallagher.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Game 40: Pirates at Cardinals

Pirates are 19-20. Tonight it's Paul Maholm and RHP Todd Wellemeyer.

The Pirates will call on Ronny Ballgame to step up and do some of the things Ryan Doumit was doing.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Game 39: Pirates at Cardinals

The Pirates move to the central time zone for some games. Tonight at eight, Phil Dumatrait and Kyle Lohse.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Games 37 and 38: Braves at Pirates

These guys will play two today, weather permitting. The scheduled starters are Jair Jurrjens and Zach Duke at 12:30, then Tim Hudson and JVB.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Game 37: Braves at Pirates

Jair Jurrjens and Zach Duke at one-thirty. Jurrjens made the Pirates look bad in the first week of the season.

The Bucs have run their record to 17-19. Five in a row is sweet, but 17-19 is worse than mediocre. One day a winning streak will end with the Pirates above .500.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Game 36: Braves at Pirates

Four in a row improves the current high moment to .457, or 16-19. This is a 74-win pace.

Tom Gorzelanny and Chuck James tonight at seven.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Game 35: Braves at Pirates

Ian Snell and Tom Glavine tonight at seven.

The sweep of the Giants was sweet, especially since they come away with their ace to open the next series. That's how you want it done. On the other hand, you'd like to be better than four games under .500. Any season will have its ups and downs, and winning three straight to attain .441 is not much of an up. Here's hoping Snell can keep the Pirates on a roll tonight.

In other news, Nyjer Morgan has been demoted. And the Pirates made a pretty good low-risk pick-up in acquiring Jason Michaels from the Indians.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Game 33: Giants at Pirates

Zito and Dumatrait at seven.

I thought they moved Zito to the bullpen, but the Pirates' website has him listed as tonight's starter.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Game 32: Giants at Pirates

Jonathan Sanchez and Zach Duke at seven.

The big, powerful-looking big man returns and everyone will surely make little mental comparing notes between him and Bautista.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Off day

The Pirates are flying to San Francisco.

... (later) Now they are flying back to Pittsburgh. Funny idea, that, flying all day for no reason.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Game 31: Pirates at Nats

Ian Snell and Tim Redding at one-thirty.

These two pitchers are defying expectations. Snell should be getting better results with his stuff. Redding has been winning more games than his peripherals suggest he should.

In other news, Sean Burnett got the call, and the Pirates designated Evan Meek, the Post-Gazette reports.

The Pirates are six games under at 12-18.