Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Our Right-Handed Starter?

Pat at WHYGAVS and Charlie at Bucs Dugout have reported that the Pirates have signed Cuban defector Yuslan Herrera, a 25 year old right-handed starting pitcher (there are others bringing this news to us also, but I read it at these two sites first). There is not much information available on him that I can find outside of what Pat and Charlie have found. Apparently he throws a fastball in the 88-92 mph range with an above average splitter, and has had some success in Cuba in the past. However, he defected after the 2004 Olympics and nobody seems to know what he's been doing since then. I'm not sure what to make of this alleged signing (no official word as of yet), but it is at the very least intriguing. This could mean that maybe Dave Littlefield is coming up with some new ideas about how to build a successful team, which would be beneficial to everyone. But more importantly, if Herrera can be a successful 4th starter, as one scout claims he could, he would be a very cheap and efficient way to fill the right-handed starter hole the Pirates currently have. That would leave a considerable amount of payroll available to use on the left-handed power hitter the team so desperately needs. Acquiring that impact hitter would have the Pirates on a definite move in the right direction.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Jeromy Burnitz

A couple days ago, the Pirates made it official. They will be buying out Jeromy Burnitz's contract for 2007. While this just a formality, as Burnitz obviously would not be with the team next year, I am a bit sad to see him go. While I won't miss his rally-killing strikeouts or his below-average defense, I like Burnitz the person. I loved how open he was about his struggles this season, never made excuses, and occasionally even voiced what everyone watching was thinking - that he was not helping the team at all.

The Pirates could not under any circumstances keep Burnitz. But I wish him well and hope he finds somewhere else to play and succeed.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

2006 World Series

It's been a while since I have found some time to post anything new. I figured this would be a good time, what with the World Series beginning tonight. A few days ago, the world was preparing to hand the Tigers the title without so much as a hesitation. This was a team that had dominated the Yankees and A's this postseason, including seven straight victories entering the World Series. They were boasting a dominant pitching staff and came from a superior league. The Cardinals had just been shut down by the one and only Oliver Perez, who, other than the occasional sailing fastball, looked nothing like the Perez that went 3-13 with a 6.55 ERA this season. Most believed that no team from the NL would stand a chance against any AL team, especially a St. Louis squad that had been only five games over .500 in the regular season.

And the Cardinals won tonight 7-2. Not to sound like I knew this might happen, because I didn't, but why were we so quick to mark this one down as over before it started? Yeah, the AL beat the snot out of the NL during interleague play. Yeah, the NL only had one team with 90+ wins.

So what.

Anything can happen in a seven game World Series. Over 11 seasons, Jim Leyritz averaged one homerun every 28 at-bats in the regular season . In the postseason, he homered every 8 at-bats, including a couple of clutch bombs. Hell, the Pirates took five straight from the Mets and Dodgers in September. ANYTHING can happen with a small sample size. Plus, the Tigers were anything but dominant in the second half of this season. They dropped 31 of their final 51 games and squandered a huge division lead before settling for a wild card berth. Nobody remembers that after a couple of postseason wins.

That said, the Tigers will quite possibly still take this series. A 7-2 loss in game one does not mean a thing. I hope they do. Andy Van Slyke deserves his ring.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Good Reading

Check out Pat from WHYGAVS's post from August on whether or not Jason Bay is clutch. It is well written with solid research.
EDIT-10/10/2006: Also, Charlie at Bucs Dugout has some additional input on the matter in his 2006 review of Bay.

Cory at Pirates Generation has a look into the 2007 Pirates. It's a nice breakdown of the roster and possibilities to improve it.

The Post-Gazette has a look back at the 2006 Pirates and a look forward to the 2007 Pirates.

Stats Geek also had a live chat yesterday that you should check out.

I apologize for linking to some older posts, but this blog is in its infant stage and I read some interesting items before it began.

Monday, October 02, 2006


Contratulations Freddy Sanchez
2006 National League Batting Champ

Catching Up

I have not posted anything in over a week, and I apologize for this. I have been a bit busy, and also a bit inefficient with my time. A brief recap of what has happened since that last post:

  • Two consecutive 2-1 losses last Saturday and Sunday to the Padres. Trevor Hoffman tied Lee Smith's saves record Saturday and broke it on Sunday. I am happy for him, but did not enjoy the conclusion of a lousy west coast trip that had started promising. I was able to watch very little of these two games, so I will not comment any further.
  • The Pirates returned home to host the red-hot Astros on Tuesday. Houston was in the midst of an incredible surge upward in the standings that would eventually fall a bit short. I attended this game, and found only a bit to enjoy throughout the evening. The second inning was fun, as Bay and Bautista launched a couple of pitches well into the bleachers to briefly tie the game. Also Freddy had a typical four hit, two double night to take firm control of the batting race. Other than that, just your typical 7-4 loss.
  • I was in attendance for Wednesday's game as well. This one started in a very promising manner, with Freddy bringing Duffy home with a first inning single (here's hoping we get to say that every day in 2007), Doumit ripping a second inning pitch over the centerfield fence, one more coming home in the third, and three runs scoring as the result of an Xavier Nady single in the fifth. Also, Shawn Chacon had quietly allowed just a sac fly through five innings and we were holding a strong 6-1 lead. But it all fell apart in the sixth, as Shawn Chacon ran out of gas after looking dominant just an inning before. The lead was cut to 6-5, and the Astros were able to scratch a run across against Torres in the ninth to tie it. And a game that was already dragging was extended several innings. I had to wake at 5 the next morning and the game did not end until after midnight. Plus, this was a game the Pirates had no right losing after our early lead. But I love extra-inning games way too much not to enjoy the night. There's just something exciting about being one of the last thousand fans remaining in the park as the game goes longer and longer. 14th inning stretches are great. I was on the scoreboard twice, since there was no inning-break entertainment planned and nobody else was really left to be shown. Yes, we lost. yes, I slept through the alarm in the morning. Yes, Freddy's two early hits were cancelled out a bit by extra at-bats. Yes, Houston did not give him a chance to win it, employing the intentional walk tactic. But I still had a blast.
  • I was at work on Thursday and could not watch the game. It sounded as if Gorzelanny was throwing well, but all three hits that he allowed came in the fifth inning and three runs came across also. Oswalt shut us down and that was that.
  • I was unable to watch the game again on Friday, and do not know much about what happened. Freddy had a couple of hits and the infield turned a slick double play. The losing streak is at eight.
  • I went to the game on Saturday, and the losing streak ended. This one only lasted about 2 hours 20 minutes despite a 13 minute rain delay thrown in. McLeary either pitched well or the Reds saw that they had been eliminated from the playoffs and quit trying. Either way, a shutout is a good thing everytime. The Bucs got a couple of clutch hits from Paulino and Bautista, and Torres got the save to pull within one appearance of Tekulve's record. Freddy went 0-4 and will enter the final day of the season leading the batting race by only 3 points. It should be exciting.
  • Sunday's game flew by also. Shane Youman looked pretty sharp (hard to tell from sec 210, but seven shutout innings is a decent measurement and he was breaking bats all game). Despite Youman's performance, Nady's three hits-including the game winner, and Torres tying Tekulve's record, this day belonged entirely to Freddy Sanchez. With thousands chanting his name, he calmly singled in his first two at-bats to clinch the batting title. While Miguel Cabrera took the rest of the day off after K'ing twice and losing any chance of coming back in the race, Freddy continued playing his heart out as the Pirates defeated the Reds 1-0. After Freddy's second hit, he was given a standing ovation while standing on first base. Eventually he gave in to the crowd and briefly raised his helmet to the crowd. The Post-Gazette compared that moment to Roberto Clemente acknowledging the crowd after hit number 3000. The tribute to Freddy after the game, while a bit dramatic, was great, and I was glad to be there for it.

In home games that I attended this season, the Pirates were 11-14. In two away games, they were 0-2. Wait 'til next year.