Pump the Breaks Pedro!

I’m just going to come out and say it now:

Pedro Alvarez isn’t moving across the diamond anytime soon.

 

Sorry, I just don’t see that happening right now, not with his current contract, not with his current agent, and not with Ike Davis and Gaby Sanchez occupying the right hand corner of the diamond. It’s just simply not happening. I’m not going to stand on a soapbox and preach how I know this doesn’t make sense through fancy sabermetrics, and tell you you’re wrong because you don’t believe in the power of analytics. Frankly, you can take it or leave it as you like, but Pedro is staying at the hot corner.

 

Have you seen that bull throw the ball across the diamond at full potential? You know if this whole hitting thing doesn’t work out, hell he’d make one talented fireballer out the bullpen. He might even be the one you want to bring in to purposely hit someone if you’re playing out in the deserts of Arizona. That guy has an absolute cannon of an arm. His lateral movement then? For a guy of his size, he’s got some incredible reaction time, he moves to his left, he moves to his right, with the best of them.

Then lets look at his hitting, he’s getting on base more often and efficiently than last year (crap, said I wouldn’t use those sabermetrics). Personally I think he’s just swinging a better bat, but there’s one problem, that’s magnifying his hitting problem (if you even want to call it one). That happens to be the sudden burst of talent being shown by Josh Harrison. I’ve got nothing in the tank to explain how that’s happening, other than he is having a season that he’ll never forget. That all is besides the point, because let’s be honest, Pedro is not Pedro right now. It seems like nobody in the Pirates organization, so far at least, knows how to fix it. I’ll propose an idea though, because we fought for that Freedom of Speech thing almost 240 years ago.

 

First things first, shut him down. Just shut him down. Don’t leave him on the bench hoping he might get an AB or two, just put him on the DL, make up something. Tell him to go on a week-long vacation, come back in a week and we’ll get back to things. Think Spongebob forgetting everything except fancy dining, only Pedro doesn’t forget baseball. He just takes a week off. Believe me, there’s no one more critical of what’s going on right now than the big bull himself. And believe me, there’s no one else I want to succeed more than Pedro, for more reasons than he’s a great individual off the field. Anyway, after we get back from that quick heartfelt tangent, we fast-forward to Pedro stepping back on the field.

Don’t even put him into the field for the first three days, just let him hit down in Pirate City, let him get back into the swing of things (no pun intended), then throw him out on the field. Quit telling him the mechanics of throwing the ball across the diamond either. Just flat out tell him to be himself, do what he’s been doing all his life at third. There’s nothing more compromising than having him try and learn new things about third base, then go ahead and try them out in a game and be thinking too much trying to throw the ball across the diamond. He’s probably throwing the ball across the diamond thinking about everything except hitting the glove on the other side.

Then what’s the side effect of that? It’s in the third row, it’s five feet short, it’s off target in every sense of the word. Believe me, I’ve been there. As a youth I ran into the same problems as Pedro, and did the exact same thing I’m proposing here, only I’d take the night after the game and just do what I wanted to do. Play video games till 2 AM, anything to put me in bed, and not think about what I couldn’t do on the diamond earlier that day. Eventually I just got moved to the mound (Gee, I wonder where I got that Pedro comparison from?), and the rest is, well, history. I moonlight in the OF too from time to time, but the mound is my haven these days.

Again, that’s besides the point, but the main idea of this is just to make baseball fun for Pedro again. You can’t tell me he’s having fun out there having no idea what he’s doing because he’s thinking of everything but throwing the ball as he throws the ball across the diamond. So in short. Let him forget everything, then let him get back into it his own way, not through mental training. Hell even let him see a shrink, but give him that week off, he needs it.

 

Let’s not forget who won a Silver Slugger Last year.

Let’s also not forget that last 3B we gave up on, and that team from north of the boarder gave it a shot either.

Let’s not let that happen again, it starts with what I’ve been saying all along. Give the bull a rest.

D’Backs Were Kinda Right BUT Very Wrong

Wow, so it’s actually been two years since I’ve actually spoke my mind on the Pirates on here. The fact of the matter is I never felt compelled to really write anything before today just because I couldn’t commit myself to actually forming a long and drawn out opinion that I could talk for days upon. I though of maybe posting about what the hell we should do with Pedro, or maybe what we were thinking by doing absolutely nothing at the deadline. Then Goldschmidt happened.

You may know by all accounts Ernesto Frieri has the accuracy of a blind sharpshooter, like seriously, some nights he’s unhittable, other nights he couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with a fastball. So,  in all honesty it was no surprise to me that Paul Goldschmidt had an errant pitch hit him late in Friday Night’s comeback win against the D’Backs. It was a surprise to see Goldschmidt almost look at Frieri like he kicked his first born, and manager Kirk Gibson (who I had the utmost respect for) get caught on the camera saying “You gotta be f****** kidding me”. Well then again in a blow out skip, it might be smart to sub out your better players in order to ensure their health in case say, a wild-armed fireballer comes into the game to get some mopup work. (Hey! See how those things just work out?).

Well after the game it was revealed that Goldy was actually hurt I know most of the Pirates fan base sure felt for him. We know how hard it is to put our trust in Frieri as a pitcher, and we know it was no intentional shot at Goldy. I mean let’s be honest, the D’Backs are a full 14.5 games out of the wildcard that we are now leading, we have nothing at all to gain by injuring Goldy. Hell, we could really use him for the D’Backs to beat up on the Giants so we can have a comfortable Wild Card lead if all else fails and we can’t capture the division. Frieri even expressed his apologies after he learned of the injury he had thrown (literally) at Goldy. He couldn’t control the ball (as sad as that is for a MLB pitcher).

The D’Backs could have really sent a message by hitting say Russell Martin since he was the catcher Friday night, and could have presumably “Called” for the pitch. They could have done it early in the game against any player, just plunk him, get it over with, it’d all be fine. Hell I would have been completely fine with that, it’s retaliation I get that. They chose to go after Andrew McCutchen, easily our most comparible player to Goldschmidt, I’M EVEN COOL WITH THAT, because I’d do the same damn thing myself as a pitcher.

See as pitchers, we often get the job that a goon gets in the NHL, to be the enforcer. When it all goes to the fan, we’re expected to go right back out there and make things right and equal by pegging the first batter (or the batter who earned the beanball) on the first pitch. At worst, we throw one up and in and give them the stare, and they get it. It’s just the inherant nature of our job as pitcher, we stick up for our team, because lets be honest, nobody else on the team has the power to take a ball and throw it at someone else that pissed you off. Put one right in the numbers, even take a bit off, we’re not trying to hurt the batter, we just want to get the point across. See that’s why I have no idea with the D’Backs throwing at Cutch, because I would have done the same thing. And before you all go “Oh hey, grow up get some sportsmanship in your blood”, I’ve been commended for my sportsmanship by every league that I’ve participated in since I was 12, so shove it.

You see I would have done the same thing.

In the 1st Inning.

Before the game was out of reach.

See what I mean by my blog title?

Throwing at a star player as a team that is in the playoff race, when you’re all but out of it, intentionally, in an out of reach game, WITH A GUY WHO TOUCHES UPPER 90′s is not only lacking sportsmanship, it’s lacking common sense. It shows how scared you are of the opposing team, and how little you trust your pitching staff. Is Gibson trying to say he couldn’t trust his starter to go out and plunk Cutch early, and not have it come back to haunt them? Trust in your staff, as the home team you’re lucky to have the bottom of each inning all the way till the end of the game to match your opponent. That’s baseball, that’s why you “win the inning” so what if you plunk Cutch, and the Pirates score a run in the first, if you’re too much of a coward manager to put someone on in the 1st in fears that you might allow a run, you shouldn’t be a manager for two reasons. #1, you can’t coach your team to a win, and you’re giving up like 10-year old playing Madden after 1 TD. #2, you ought to be fired because you clearly can’t handle a major league team if giving up a run in the 1st is so petrifying of an option to you, that you have to wait until the game is essentially over to retaliate for something that technically happened 9 innings earlier.

Then there’s the pitcher Randall Delgado, ohhhh don’t even get me started here.

A converted bullpen arm that hasn’t lived up to all his expectations after being shipped to the desert for Justin Upton is brought in to the game for one single job, and you know what it is in hindsight. Main reason being, Delgado walked right off the field, no argument, no complaint to the umpire after beaming McCutchen. He literally walked off like a basketball player who drains a game winning three in someone’s face, and just walks off like it was no big deal. AS IF IT WAS HIS JOB.

In total, I really have no problem whatsoever with the D’Backs throwing at the Pirates on purpose, hell throwing at Cutch on purpose. What I do have a problem with is when they did it, and the situation they did it in.

Is Huntington Forever “Chasing Jose”?

There’s a post I saw today over at Rumbunter that had to do with the stark similarities between the Pedro Alvarez situation and the Jose Bautista situation from years past. As we all know how that trade ended up for us, its certainly plausible to make comparisons to each’s situation. For instance both play 3rd base, however Jose was more of an outfielder by my standards, and he’s certainly proven that since travelling north of the boarder. Both have/had (in Jose’s case) a long swing with huge power potential. Hopefully however we won’t make the same mistake with Pedro that we did with Jose.

That’s it, I said it, the first time in history I’ve admitted we messed up with Jose by trading him. Until this point I’ve attributed it to the hitting coaches in Toronto and the extreme hitters park he plays in for half of the season. I was a firm believer in the fact that at the time, the trade we made for Bautista was plausible, we got a catcher, which we needed in the system in Robinson Diaz. Sadly for us however, Toronto had what it took coaching wise to change his long swing and turn it into a power hitters stroke in 2 years time. It wasn’t the first time Toronto revived the career of a player who turned into a huge superstar (a la Roy Halladay), but honestly who’s saying we couldn’t do the same?

And that’s probably what eats at Neal the most when it comes to this situation, is he really forever chasing Jose? Every GM has had a questionable move, or two, in their career that can always be remembered. Whether its the Phillies trading Ryne Sandberg or the Portland Trail Blazers taking Sam Bowie, a GM will always have their day when they just make the wrong move. For Neal Huntington, that day was the day he traded Jose Bautista. 

Now when I say he’s “Chasing Jose” that doesn’t mean that he’s going to go trade for Jose Bautista and make things better, because doing that, won’t put the organization anywhere but backwards at this point with the rebuilding they’ve done. I mean that he’s forever going to try to never do that again. Pedro is just that prime example for him that he can’t make the same mistake twice can he? I doubt Huntington will just give in to a “rubbernecker” fan’s wants by trading a player who at only age 25 is considered a bust? Now Pedro hasn’t been testing positive for PED’s or illegal drugs, so it’s not fair  to give a player who is 7 games over a full major league season that relegation.

To put into comparison, Jose Bautista had only played in 75 games to that point in his career. and was basically a .200 career hitter, in comparison Pedro was basically a .200 hitter at the 50-75 career game mark as he finished his first full season hitting .256/.326/.461/, that is if you compare their careers at the same point of career games, the difference being Jose played 64 games of that 75 as a 23 year old, Pedro played all 75 as a 23 year old.

This is why Pedro is continuously getting chances at the major league level, I really don’t think Huntington wants to go down this weary road again by trading Pedro at this point, or even using his last option and sending him to AAA Indianapolis. Sure the fans want to give up on Pedro, its natural, it happened 5 years ago with Jose Bautista. Huntington hasn’t forgotten his ways, the fans haven’t let him either, but its the same fans that want the same with Pedro.

 

Follow Me on Twitter @Cutch_22

Follow Rumbunter on Twitter @rumbunter and find the article I reference earlier in today’s post @ http://rumbunter.com/2012/03/28/sorry-we-cant-help-ourselves-neal-huntington-pedro-alvarez-and-jose-bautista/

Burnett is Next?

So after the Buc Nation twitterverse was spurned by Edwin Jackson, and Roy Oswalt just flat out said he doesn’t want to pitch for the Pirates, the newest name has come forth and with every passing hour, the deal seems closer to done. Right now as it stands, A.J. Burnett will be a Pirate very shortly. The only speculation yet seems the amount that the Yankees will pay of his contract, and who is going to New York in return.

That’s the thing that I’m hung up most on, is who is going to New York. While I highly doubt it’ll be a pitcher that is currently in the staff, the money will be the obvious determining factor on who gets shipped out in return. The word on Twitter says that the Pirates are looking for the Yanks to eat about 2/3rds of Burnett’s contract, bringing the Pirates to being held accountable for only around 10 million. This makes pretty good sense for the Pirates because they’re getting Burnett at the value at which they offered Edwin Jackson. While I would much rather have Jackson, I am intrigued as to what Burnett can accomplish in an NL Central without Pujols or Fielder. The early speculation had Garrett Jones as the returning piece to New York, however that has changed. The Pirates do not want to move Jones (for reasons I can’t figure out). By that I mean that he would be a fair return for the aging Burnett rather than shipping off a prospect who might turn out to be a star in the Bronx. This would mean that I would think that the Yanks would target an aging prospect such as Bryan Morris or maybe even go young for Tim Alderson to bring in a pitching prospect to replenish their system. I would also expect them to inquire on Matt Curry or Matt Hague, as those are our two closest to ML ready First Basemen that would fill their need that Garrett Jones. Basically, I’m just afraid that the Pirates give away too much, such as a young pitcher with a high ceiling that would stunt our growth in the future, for a 35 year old pitcher, that could easily team his labrum in Spring Training (hopefully that wouldn’t happen).

It would certainly stand to help this rotation if we could bring in Burnett because it would help fill out an already hurting rotation that is filled with players that, while are good, might not even start on a top tier team.

Follow me on Twitter @Cutch_22 for any updates, I’ll probably be Retweeing any official news I see, along with tweeting my own views on the situation.

Pirates Get a Unique Chance in 2012

It’s the second week of 2012, the Steelers are out of the playoffs after an early Wild Card loss, the Penguins are missing Jordan Staal, Sidney Crosby, and Kris Letang to name a few players on IR, and the Pittsburgh Panthers Men’s Basketball Team has lost six games in a row. What does that have to do for the Pirates? They have the chance to take the city by storm and be the story of the year.

The team saw what the fan base could do last summer when the team was fighting for first place in July, and in pivotal series against the Red Sox and Phillies where games were consistently sold out because of the team’s success more than that of the superiority of the opposition. This team also showed great potential early in the season as well, potential that wasn’t immediately expected at that time either. 

Now the pressure of a successful summer in Pittsburgh rains down on the Pirates, as the “sub-standard” (for some fans) performances from other teams in the city continue. If the Pirates want to take advantage of the spotlight being shed in their direction, the time to act is now, and the time could not be any more perfect.

Still Need Middle Infield Help?

So this would be my first post of the entire year. Also, it’s my first post since last August. I suddenly became overwhelmed with my first semester of college, and just posting on twitter instead that 
I ended up just stopping my posts on here. But, as a new years resolution, when I find time I’m gonna go out and speak my mind on here. 

I saw today on twitter from @MLBTradeRumors through Ken Rosenthal that the Pirates may still be on the lookout for middle infield help.I can’t help but ask why because we already have well not a strong infield, but our positions are filled. At SS we have new signee Clint Barmes, Chase d’Arnaud, and Yamico Navarro who we got through trade. At second we have the obvious, Neil Walker.

The premier name mentioned was Orlando Hudson, except for the fact that he plays 2B and would probably want to start over Neil Walker. The name that intrigued me the most is Ryan Theriot, a former Cardinal and Cub/ all around career NL Centraler. He can play both 2B and SS and could easily back up both Barmes and Walker so that Navarro and d’Arnaud could get more time at the AAA level. Navarro is supposed to have good hands, but lack in the hitting department, and d’Arnaud could use more help with the fundamentals of playing SS because I remember many fielding errors from his summers’ stay with the Bucs. 

Theriot is a career .282/.344/.353 hitter, which really gives him a light hitting label. He only has 17 career homers and he is going to be turning 32 this season. He also has postseason experience, winning the World Series with the Cards this past season as a bench player who played only 2B in 35 games. However the season before, he played strictly SS for the Cards in 91 games. The certain downside is he is a much better fielding second baseman as to what he is as shortstop. According to Baseball Reference, he is comparable to that of Aaron Miles in the hitting category, a player who once played under manager Clint Hurdle in Colorado. He already reminds me of David Eckstein, and that is who he is comparable in defense.

In all I really do believe that Theriot is at least worth giving him a spring training invite to give him a shot at backing up our infield. The worst that could happen is that he becomes an absolute bust and makes me look like an idiot in this.

One last option, that I wouldn’t count out, however wouldn’t really help us at all in the long or short run is former SS Jack Wilson, who is also still on the market. While his defense would be great to have back on this team, last year he mainly played 2B for the Mariners and Braves, so he may not be the same ol’ Jack Flash he once was. 

So in the end of it all, I stress that I really do think Theriot would be a great fit for the Pirates organization for at least spring training, and also this is the first of hopefully many posts in this New Year from me.

Four in a Row? SALE THE TEAM

Okay, maybe I’m getting a little overboard with the sale the team idea, but it’s just a sarcastic wordplay on 3/4ths of the posts that are probably littering the Pirates’ Facebook page. Maybe this is where the bandwagon jumps off, I’m not sure, but being 1 game above .500 isn’t exactly a horrible position. We’re a stone’s throw from first, and with the Brewers and Cardinals playing each other right now, this is the perfect time for the Bucs to make that move.

Neal Huntington did the best he could by acquiring Ryan Ludwick and Derrick Lee from the Padres and Orioles respectively. I was going to post a list of the players that I hoped the Pirates would trade for and both would have made that list. While Ludwick went 0-fer tonight in his Pirate debut, he showcased his powerful arm from the outfield on more than a few situations. Only once did he end up completely off target. his first throw. He also ended up being close to getting a runner heading to third. Had the throw been a little quicker and earlier, he would have had the runner dead to rights.

As for Derrick Lee. Everybody in Pirate Nation knows him now. Derrick Lee was the owner off all 3 runs batted in for the Bucs tonight in their 5-3 loss to the Cubs. To the Cubs no less, Lee had two jacks and 3 RBI. Chicago is where Lee had the best season’s of his career and made a name for himself. This also answers some of the doubts that fans had in his commitment after he missed Sunday’s game against the Phils due to family commitments. 7 more HR’s from him and he will equal Lyle Overbay’s total this season, who was DFA’d today by the club.

As for more ramblings and notes. Steven Pearce, lets go buddy. You earned your way up here with your great success before your injury earlier in the season. Now prove your worth. It looks like Kevin Correia should pinch hit for him sometimes as he has 3 RBI in the past month….. Pedro Alvarez looked very comfortable at the plate today, driving two pitches up the middle and turning early on an inside pitch. Two of those AB’s resulted in a base hit for El Toro, and the third AB was a shot up the middle that was knocked down by Starlin Castro who was shading slightly up the middle… Andrew McCutchen added a hit to his season’s total tonight after having a rough series in Philly. While he has been slumping as of late, Cutch has consistently been bad in this part of the season for reason’s I don’t know. He put up identical numbers in the past two July’s and Augusts aren’t anything to look forward too either for Cutch. Hopefully he turns that around…. Tonight was Paul Maholm’s third career loss to the Chicago Cubs….. Neil Walker has a base hit in each of his career games against the Cubs…. I leave for Pittsburgh Friday and will be attending every game in the Padres series this upcoming weekend. Follow me on Twitter @Cutch_22 and I’ll be glad to meet up at sometime before the game. I’ll be out there ballhawking for the second year in a row…. Until next time folks.

We Do Deserve This

If you haven’t read this article. It ought to be required reading at the point for any Pirates Fan:

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/pirates/s_747210.html

 

I have to be honest. I haven’t been here for the long run.

That little week, the week after Nate McLouth was traded I hurriedly wanted to become a fan of the Atlanta Braves. I sent a letter to Pirates management to inform them how stupid they were, and how I would now be rooting for the Braves.

I grew up quite a bit in two years.

And it’s a good thing I stuck with the Pirates.

That tumultuous week, my friend, who has become one of my best friends over the years convinced me that you can’t just jump the bandwagon of another team who your (then) favorite player was traded to. It would be more embarrassing to jump ship like that then to keep rooting for a team that lacked “Nate the Great”.

And so I stayed, for 1 week out of my entire life I didn’t root for the Pirates, it was the emptiest week of my life, and I’m glad that I stuck on, because I’d be killing myself for not staying to see this.

That sight, is going to be the 20 deep lines of fans I’m going to see in August lining up for Pirates tickets to games I already have tickets to. It’ll be that sold out crowd August 6th, not just to see Train play after a Pirates game, but to see the Pirates game that comes before the Skyblast Concert. That sight will be the scores of new ballhawkers that I’ll have to compete for a HR in batting practice for.

That’s a sight I thought I’d never see. Instead of having a crowd of 10,000 sparsely shout “Lets Go Bucs!” during A New Pirates Generation after a win, I might have a crowd of near sellout capacity shouting with me.

But the best part, the best part of all, is walking around the Philly suburbs wearing Pirates gear only to get stopped and hear this:

“Hey, how are those Pirates doing? Trading McCutchen yet? Haven’t they been mathematically eliminated already?”

-”No, actually if you’d look at the NL Central, we’re a half game out of first place.”

“Really, wow, I didn’t see that coming.”

Will I finally be respected by Phillies fans? Probably not, but that doesn’t concern me at all. I have a team fighting for first place for the first time I can remember. Last time we were in 1st this late in the season I was four going on five. I’m sorry, my memory isn’t that great I don’t remember those days. I can go back to about the time where PNC Park opened. Hell, I snuck into the toilet flush with my parents. Yeah, I was part of the PNC Park Toilet flush. Then the sadness of my dad telling me my favorite player from all those highlights of the glory days, Willie Stargell died. I thought it was impossible, especially with the new stadium opening at that time.

The new stadium brought new hope to me, and as a kid going in there I thought it was pretty. My first 5 games I went to over the two or three years after it opened, I was the lucky charm, the Pirates never lost. I always seemed to come away with a ball or an autograph too. I’ll never forget the experience my father’s friend gave us when we met David Williams. He was such a nice guy, signing anything I wanted, and then treated us to dinner at the Olive Garden, all on him.

I sat through the futility, and I remember the David Bell experience, Raul Mondesi AWOL, Jeromy Burnitz’s failure, Joe Randa’s attempt to hold 3B over Freddy Sanchez, and Kris Benson’s arm failing us. I remember when Bryan Bullington was the “Can’t Miss Prospect” for us, and I remember getting him to sign a card for me in Reading. I also remember witnessing the Pirates turn a HR-hitting prospect into a failure of a pitcher. That’s you John Van Benschoten. And of all of this I remember the trade we passed on in the offseason of 2004 I believe.  We turned down the opportunity of getting Ryan Howard on the Pirates for at minimum Kip Wells.

To the notion of people wearing Clemente jerseys to hide the fact that they were Pirates fans at recess, that wasn’t for me. I wore whatever, whenever. I was not even the least bit embarassed to wear a Jason Kendall jersey to school, Freddy Sanchez jersey, and a Pirates BP jersey. Over the years I got an Xavier Nady t-shirt and Matt Capps as well. I proudly wore those even though the Pirates couldn’t pull through. I still wear my McCutchen and Alvarez jerseys to games, even if it’s a Curve game in Reading because I don’t care what another fan has to say anymore. These Pirates have taught us all this year that we don’t have to hide anymore in futility. We can come out of the proverbial closet and say “Yes, I am a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates”.

Do I want the shirt that Dejan Kovacevic mentioned at the end of his article that says “I was a Pirates fan before it was cool”? Yeah, I do because like that teenager that wasn’t too much older than the streak, I was there too. It’s true we deserved this and this is something all Pirates fans can enjoy.

Bucs at the Break (All Star Version)

What do you know, we’ve reached the All Star Break already here in Major League baseball, and for the first time since I was negative two, the Pirates have three all stars. Yes, count them, three all stars. I’d have pointed and laughed at whoever told me Kevin Correia was going to be an All-Star at the season’s beginning. The other two representatives of the Pirates are more believable. Both seem to be obvious choices, but if you ask Bruce Bochy, they’res a few outfielders that rank above Pirates selection Andrew McCutchen. McCutchen was almost the subject of a piece by me about him not making the ASG had he not been named Ryan Braun’s replacement in the N.L. outfield. The name that comes up the most is managerial selection Carlos Beltran. While I’m not busting on a guy that makes more in one AB than I do in a summer’s worth of work, Andrew McCutchen simply is a better player. Cutch owns Beltran in the universal ranking among position players. WAR or Wins Above Replacement is a statistic that is a gauge on how much a player contributes to a win over a replacement player at that position. Cutch is up near the league leaders, trailing Jose Bautista and Jose Reyes, but still at a 5.0 WAR. Beltran on the other hand has one at 3.4. While both are impressive, Cutch should have been the managerial pick, not Belts. The other representative is closer Joel “The Hammer” Hanrahan. At an astounding 26 for 26 in save opportunities. That ranks as the most consecutive saves in Pirates history, and the most in one season since Eric Gagne in 2003. While closers for the Pirates seem to be the pick a lot to represent the Pirates in an All Star Game (see Mike Williams and Evan Meek) this is Hanrahan’s first of probably many. You don’t throw upper  nineties as a closer and just not find your way in the ASG unless you’re blowing a lot of saves. This three is also the first three to appear in an ASG for the Pirates since 1990 when the Pirates’ representatives were Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla (who is still being paid by the Mets LOL), and Neal Heaton (who?). What is even more astounding is that all three representatives are first timers to the ASG. I’m especially excited to see Hanrahan, who will be tweeting live throughout the entire Home Run Derby (follow him @hanrahan4457). I wouldn’t be surprised however if only one Pirate makes his way into the game. That player being McCutchen. While Hanrahan certainly deserves his place, Bochy will choose one of his own in Brian Wilson over him in a save situation. Also, if the game were to go to extras, I’m sure Bochy would choose former Pirate (and family friend) Ryan Vogelsong over Kevin Correia. Either way, you can’t take away these players’ experiences or the fact that they are on the roster for the 2011 MLB All-Star Game in Phoenix, AZ.

 

Also if you could please, give me a follow @Cutch_22 on twitter, you’ll gain no exclusive access, however you will gain insight to my in-game tweeting, and even the Pirates games that I’ll be at this summer (BRING ME AUGUST!).

Injuries F@#$%&* Suck

It seems as though the injury bug that struck our Pittsburgh Penguins this year has made its way to the North Shore to plague the Pirates as well. Thankfully we weren’t dealt horrid injury news as the Pens were when Crosby and Malkin went down for the season within a month of each other. Still, the Pirates are left with missing a key set-up man, half a bench, and a full platoon of catchers. This leaves us with a very shorthanded team. Pedro Ciriaco is on the team yet, you may have forgotten about him. We also have a few new faces on the team in Tim Wood and Tony Watson. We’re left with Danger Zone Veras and Chris Resop as set-up options. We also have seen the apperance of former first round pick Daniel Moskos on the major league roster as well. For those who forget about him, it was him or Matt Wieters and well, we didn’t pick Wieters. Despite this, the Pirates still find themselves just two games under .500. This of course is after a 4 game losing streak as well. We might as well get down to the bottom of why these injuries f@#$%&* suck anyway.

The first name off of everyone’s lips is Pedro. Pedro Alvarez has been out for an extended amount of time with his quad strain. He had gotten a few extended spring training games under his belt in Bradenton, and seemed to be moving along well nicely with his rehab, and maybe had a stint ahead of him in the minors. Well that sure did not happen as planned, as we near a full month of games that he has missed because of this injury. He apparently had a re-occurrence of the quad strain and needs more time to rehab it in Pirate City.Rumors are circulating that we might see him after the All-Star break. The thing that I have been the most positive about is that Pedro might begin to produce like the September 2010 Pedro when he returns. I’m convinced he had been playing with an agitated quad for the entire season. It seems feasible considering he had sat out a stretch of games for the quad prior to his DL stint. I then believe this is what was causing poor at bats for Pedro. Certainly not being comfortable at the plate could have a lot to do with a batting average grinding on the Mendoza line. Hopefully my buddy can find his way back to the line-up soon, because I know there’s no place he’d rather be than on the diamond. Besides, former manager John Russell was a believer in him and told me himself (although it was in a dimly lit bar) that he believes he has a successful career ahead of him.

Secondly is the case of Evan Meek. Evan Meek was the only representative of the Pirates in the 2010 Midsummer Classic, and owned a sub 1.00 ERA heading into that break. He ended up being one of the most pivitol pieces in our ‘pen along with Joel Hanrahan. After being pinned as this year’s set-up man, Meek seemingly lost his touch. He found himself on the DL once earlier this season with arm trouble. He played phenominally in his rehab stint in AAA Indianapolis. Sadly, when he returned to the Bucs he was still a little off. He was missing velocity that he once had, and Evan himself felt no pain in his arm despite the drop in velocity (Phil Hughes-itis?). After a trip to see James Andrews, Evan luckily found out that he won’t need Tommy John surgery, just some time off. This is an injury that can’t be taken entirely too lightly. He’s a key arm that won’t do us any good if he ends up tearing his arm ligament and needing surgery. It looks like he may return in late July, which is good in more than one regard. The first is that he gets that time off to restore his arm, and the second being that he loses his trade value significantly, because what contender wants an arm that just came off of the DL to help them make a run through October?

Next is the tale of two catchers. At the beginning of the season if you told me that at mid-June, our starting catcher would be Mike McKenry with Dusty Brown as his back-up, my first comment would be “Who the heck is McKenry?” and “We must be like 20-40 right now.”. Well as it turns out both are here as injury replacements. Both Chris Snyder and Ryan Doumit are on the DL with injuries that will keep both out until the end of July, with Snyder likely missing the remainder of the season after having surgery on a herniated disk earlier this month. Snyder is currently on the 60-day disabled list, Doumit on the 15-day. His fracture in his left ankle is healing as expected and we may see him back in the ‘Burgh in the final days of July, also taking away from his trade value. Both were experiencing very successful seasons leading into their injuries. Chris Snyder, known for his defensive skill, was enjoring a season in which his average was above .270, which would be his best season since 2006. Doumit himself, who had been far from a fan favorite. Had  many Pittsburghers believing he no longer deserved a spot on the roster, was hitting .269 and was very “clutch” with his two grandslams in one single week. I’m sure when he returns he will infuse the weak catching platoon of a feisty McKenry and Dusty Brown.

As if that wasn’t enough, let us not forget two more players that are out on injury. Steven Pearce seemed to be on pace for giving Lyle Overbay a good run for his job at 1st Base before he was injured and put on the 15-day DL. Currently there is no timetable for Pearce’s return from his partially torn muscle in his right calf. His help would be greatly appreciated considering, Overbay’s hot .228 average has him benched for the entire Orioles series this week. Maybe we can ship him off for a reliever to help out the bullpen’s absence of Evan Meek and Pittsburgh native Joe Beimel. Beimel might be nearing the end of his career, and Pittsburgh might be the last go around for him. He again was placed on the 15 day DL for elbow inflammation. This is the same injury that had Beimel sit out most of the Spring Training. He hasn’t had a profound effect on the bullpen, but he could be a great complement to the hard throwing Resop and Veras if Moskos begins to struggle.

Seriously these injuries do really suck, and if the Pirates were to fall off the .500 line right now, I’d waste no time in blaming that. There really is nothing that the Pirates can do, if they go and try to grab a catcher, their need is so immediate that they would likely overpay for a player in that position. It’s not fair to Hurdle and the rest of the Pirates, but there really is nothing that the Pirates can do about this, except fight. Fight for .500.

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