Saturday, March 22, 2008

Rays and Yankees

The Pirates play the Rays today and the Yankees tomorrow.

In other news, Freddy Sanchez looks to be slow healing again, as Jenifer Langosch reports he was in more pain after playing.

And Paul Meyer gathers quotes about Evan Meek. It does not sound like he will be setting up for Matt Capps in 2008; my guess is we'll see Hector Carrasco doing the Jose Mesa in some of those eighth innings.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Pirates at Phillies

Grapefruit league game at 1.

We'll probably see some of those right-handed relievers.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Right-handed bullpen

So I guess the Pirates carry 12 pitchers, including one closer and five starters, with two left-handed setup guys, two right-handed setup guys, and two swingmen and/or mop-up guys in the bullpen. They may not need a fifth starter until mid-April, so they could start the season with an extra mop-up guy or a three-man right-handed setup team.

On the left-handed side, I expect Grabow and Marte, and Burnett (or Fossum) as a swingman.

On the right-handed side, I count eight guys for, at most, four jobs: Carrasco, Dessens, Kim, Kuwata, Meek, Osoria, and Wright. I have no idea how this will turn out. Osoria and Meek have achieved good results this spring, and they are young; Carrasco has pitched better than I expected, but he is an old man at 37. Dessens got a late start, and he looks more like a swingman or spot starter than a setup person. With Burnett doing well, it does not seem urgent to have him on the roster in early April. Kim and Kuwata have not pitched so well, and they seem to be competing for "guy with funky style" job -- if there is one of those. Jaret Wright has pitched five spring innings without a strikeout, and like Fossum, he does not look like someone to press into a setup job. Kim may also be someone to steer toward a AAA starting job or a swingman role. The Pirates have no shortage of these swingman/mop-up/seventh starter guys.

Did I forget anybody?

It looks to me, after half an hour's thought, that some two of Meek, Osoria, and Carrasco will get right-handed setup jobs. It also looks possible that all three could make the roster for Opening Day.

And all three have been pitching every third day, so maybe we'll see Osoria and Meek as the second and third pitchers in the next game.

Yankees at Pirates

Matt Morris will show good posture tonight.

Adam Sandler will DH and lead off for the Yankees.


Getting the car repaired this morning, I read in a recent Sports Illustrated - can't find the text online - a piece by Jon Heyman about the Tiger's "slot-busting" draft strategy. Basically, they gamed the league's prohibition on paying "over slot" to scoop up the best talent in the draft. It cost more, but it's still cheaper than signing free agents. The example touted was Rick Porcello. (Biography, recent news.)

Obviously, this is what the Pirates have to do to compete. They can't afford top talent on the free agent market. They can't win championships without top talent. The only strategy that might bring top talent to this team will focus on the draft. There are other things that can be done. They can make smart trades, and they can be the team that best educates its young players. But the draft has to be the heart of it all. They have to get the best players available in every round.

And that means they will have to pay "above slot." Given Coonelly's job before he joined the Pirates, this issue has been, for me, one of the bigger tests for him. None of us believe Littlefield truly rated Moskos above Wieters in pure baseball terms. It appears that he picked Moskos to prove that he can eat shit and like it. It was a suck up move. "Oh yes, Boss, don't worry, there will be no conflict; we will not rock the boat; I don't know why the other 29 teams rate Wieters higher than Moskos; we don't; thank goodness we will avoid the dilemma that would be how to sign Wieters."

All that said, Moskos is also great, and he doesn't need to keep hearing it from the fans that he's not Wieters. But it's plain as the nose on your face that the Pirates need offense, and that they did not need another relief-pitching or even starting-pitching prospect with that pick.

Coonelly and Huntington are doing pretty well, I think, so far. The big test is not going to be the April win-loss record but what they do in the draft. Do they put the team first, or do they put the league first?

The team could also take a lesson from the Steelers: you want to be the team that young players most admire for draft prowess. Getting drafted by the Pirates should be a distinction, and not a curse or insult. Ask Danny Moskos. Since they are not winning games at the big-league level, all the Pirates can do to remedy their loathsome reputation with young players is pay them better than other teams -- and become known as the team that stops at nothing to get the best young players. Then Pittsburgh may not be the place to win a championship next year, but it would be one of the best places to go right out of the draft.

If not hiring players represented by Scott Boras is somehow good for the Pirates, then I would love to hear what Pirate-first arguments support that position.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Monday, March 17, 2008

Blue Jays at Pirates

For St. Patrick's Day, the Pirates will wear green capes in today's 1pm game.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Snell paid

Congratulations to the guy. I'm glad he'll be here for awhile. Here's hoping he keeps pitching so well for all them years.

Paul Meyer reports for the Post-Gazette that he'll make $8M and a lot more if the Pirates pick up the 2011 and 2012 option years. I think this is a good deal for both sides. It's not too often where it seems that both the player and the team are doing the smart thing at the same time.

Raise your Dogfish Head to the pride of Delaware. All hail Ian Snell!

Red Sox at Pirates

Tom Gorzelanny will start for the good guys.