Friday, March 28, 2008

HW Readers' Poll 2008

Only three more days, so last chance for season predictions. If you have a minute, please humor us in the comments:

1. How many games will the Pirates win in 2008?
2. Will the Pirates finish in last place? If not, who will?
3. 2008 whipping boy?
Any other predictions?

I'll start.
1. 66
2. We will.
3. Although my gut says Matt Morri$, it doesn't seem like he qualifies as a "boy", so I'll go with team player/enigma Ronny Ballgame.

Last year, I aced this thing. I predicted 67 wins (bested by seaks, who nailed 68), another basement victory, and that DL and Creech would be fired. This last prediction sparked the Great DL Debate of 2007, which ended with a pink slip for DL and six beers for me. I can't imagine a better outcome than that from these predictions. Not unless I predicted they'd play well and they did, which I won't predict because I don't see it. We will lose. A lot. Again. Same old reason : not enough talent, offense, pitching, and depth. Some will find that too negative, but it's just my honest prediction. It will take years for Coonington's hazmat crew to clean up the mess they waded into.

As for other predictions, Wiggy is back in the division. I see Wiggy bowling over a Bucco, either injuring Doumit or sliding untouched while Ronny drops the ball. Maybe both.

Pirates at Twins

Game at 1.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Pirates at Yankees

Tom Gorzelanny pitches today at 1pm.

Dejan Kovacevic foresees Sean Burnett hanging back. I disagree with the idea that the cut is "unkind," as the PG headline writer suggests. We all know that Spring Training stats do not mean much, and we also all know that the Pirates are going to use a whole bunch of pitchers this year, as they do every year; Burnett will get his chance soon enough.

Plus, as Kovacevic reports, Burnett and his wife are having a baby this week. It's not a good, but a great idea to leave him off the 25-man roster for another week or two or three. Congratulations, Sean Burnett.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Tigers at Pirates

Another game today at 1.

As you probably know by now, the Pirates made some moves to clarify the bullpen situation. As usual, Dejan Kovacevic and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette are the best places to get the lowdown. Jaret Wright and Byung-Hyun Kim are gone; Doug Mientkiewicz makes the team, as expected. Management did the right thing with Kim, for sure, so let's give credit, it's due. (Hands over some credit.)

They also get credit for picking up Yates at the annual end-of-March reliever fire sale. This required patience and faith; I think the previous GM would have acquired more "sure things" at high off-season prices when it became clear to many that the Pirates did not have a lot, on paper, for the bullpen. (Hands over some more credit.)

This leaves some uncertainty in the bullpen. As DK writes:

Removing Kim and Wright leaves six relievers - Franquelis Osoria, Sean Burnett, Phil Dumatrait, Evan Meek, Masumi Kuwata and Hector Carrasco -- for three openings. Huntington said he plans to make final decisions in that regard in the next two days.

If Osoria's a lock, as we've been hearing, it's five guys for two spots. Kuwata and Carrasco, I'd cut right away. Dumatrait and Meek I'd want to keep, so my decision would be to buy Burnett a fancy new suitcase and a fancy new cell phone. I'd tell him to keep the phone on and the suitcase packed, and I'd put him on the bus to Indiana. He goes down because he can, and he'll be back all quick like because teams always need good arms.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Twins at Pirates

Ian Snell makes his last spring start this afternoon.

The Pirates should also cut some guys and not cut some other guys.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Pirates at Rays

Matt Morris will stand up straight at 1pm today.

Dejan Kovacevic returns to the PG with this bullpen analysis. I'd a thought the Pirates would keep Dumatrait in a starting role, but it appears he must be kept on the roster or the Pirates lose him.

So the story today is the Pirates are looking at Capps (CL), Marte (LHP), Grabow (LHP), most likely Burnett, who has had a great spring (LHP), Osoria (RHP), Dumatrait (LHP), five starters, and then one more guy. Kovacevic thinks Kim (RHP) or Meek (RHP).

Burnett has been tougher on righties than lefties, as Kovacevic explains, so he could be counted in the RHP column.

If the choice is Kim or Meek, no doubt I'd take Meek. Kim has not been good, and he's not likely to be good in April. There's no point in looking beyond that point when considering not-looking-good veteran relievers. If the Pirates let him go, someone will likely grab him, and on the other hand, guys like this are often made available. There must be a few veteran relievers as good as Kim, and now on other teams, who are likely to get cut soon and made available to the Pirates.

Guys like Meek, on the other hand, are harder to come by. I would carry him and keep him so long as he pitched well, as he's doing now. If he becomes a mess, you give him back.

Finally, there should be a chance the Pirates start the year with only four starters. With all the rainouts and days off the team usually sees in April, it's possible the Pirates won't need a fifth starter for weeks. (EDIT: But not likely. As azibuck comments, unless a game is cancelled in Atlanta or Florida in week one, they will need a fifth starter on Sunday, April 6.) So the team could carry Meek and Kim. It's always possible that one of the other relievers will need some time on the DL, so if the team gives up one of those guys to carry a starter they don't use, that's somewhat unfortunate.