Friday, March 30, 2007
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Monday, March 26, 2007
C - Ronny Paulino
1B - Adam LaRoche
2B - Freddy Sanchez (Jose Castillo)
3B - Jose Bautista
SS - Jack Wilson
LF - Jason Bay
CF - Chris Duffy
RF - Xavier Nady
SP - Zach Duke
SP - Ian Snell
SP - Tom Gorzelanny
SP - Paul Maholm
SP - Tony Armas Jr.
RP - Salomon Torres
RP - Matt Capps
RP - Damaso Marte
RP - John Grabow (Juan Perez)
RP - Shawn Chacon
That leaves seven open spots. Two will go to relievers, with Dan Kolb, Josh Sharpless, and Jonah Bayliss still in the hunt. I would expect Kolb and Sharpless to prevail, mostly because Bayliss lost some of his spring to an injury. The other five roster spots will make up the Pirates' bench. The only sure thing at this point is Jose Castillo. Other than that, there are many different directions that Jim Tracy could go. Luis Matos, Nate McLouth, Jose Hernandez, Michael Ryan, Ryan Doumit, Don Kelly, Humberto Cota and Brad Eldred all still have a chance. I would like to see Castillo, Matos, McLouth, Doumit and Kelly head north. I don't think Eldred is ready to hit Major League pitching, though he may find his way to Pittsburgh if LaRoche struggles against left-handers early in the season. Doumit should pinch-hit as well as back up catcher, first base and right field, allowing him to play a few times a week. Matos and McLouth should back up in the outfield, with Ryan waiting in Indy should one of those two falter early on. At this point, I would rather see Don Kelly play the role of Jose Hernandez this season. I don't think either are any good; I just like Kelly better. The fact that he is left-handed doesn't hurt either. This is a pretty sad bench.
Outside of Gorzelanny, the starting pitching has been a pleasant surprise this spring. Sean Burnett looks like he is ready to pitch in Pittsburgh again, and I would not be worried if Shane Youman had to make a spot start. Also, Bryan Bullington looked solid during limited action. I was concerned with the lack of starting depth coming into the season. I am feeling much better about that right now. The Pirates should have a few insurance options in the Indianapolis rotation.
NOTES: Juan Perez will likely make the roster out of camp due to John Grabow's injury. Assuming Freddy Sanchez starts the season on the disabled list, Jose Castillo will fill in at second base. Because of this, both Don Kelly and Jose Hernandez might come north at the beginning of April. That is a very scary thought.
Friday, March 23, 2007
Jose Castillo "congratulates" Jose Bautista after having his job stolen
Thursday, March 22, 2007
What lineup is this guy looking at? The Pirates offense was pathetic last season and, despite the addition of Adam LaRoche, will likely struggle to score runs in 2007 as well. The only real strength this team has is a young pitching staff that could turn out to be pretty decent. The offense will be the last thing that carries the Pirates to victories this season. The only real chance of the team being competitive is a healthy season and progression from its entire rotation. If I was Jim Tracy, I would march this magazine right into the locker room and show Ian Snell the above quote. Then I would sit back and watch him strike out 25 batters in his next start. Anybody who thinks the Pirates pitching staff is Zach Duke and a bunch of scrubs clearly does not watch much Pirates' baseball. I don't mind bashing the Pirates correctly, but don't just make things up without doing any research at all.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
- Green baseball caps are dumb.
- Regardless of whether he's any good or not, I like Don Kelly.
- It took a whole 6 pitches before we were told that Don Kelly is Neil Walker's brother-in-law.
- Boof Bonser kind of reminds me of Jimmy Anderson. Except he's a much better pitcher than Jimmy was.
- Why aren't the Pirates wearing green helmets? That must have been too costly. Or maybe after the hats were made, they realized how stupid it was.
- I was thinking Armas was looking pretty good early on. Then Torii Hunter came to the plate.
- Don Kelly could use a sandwich. Or maybe several sandwiches.
- The Pirates' bottom of the 2nd inning started like this: leadoff single, high chopper over the third baseman's head for a single, a pop up that is misplayed and drops in, groundball off the pitcher goes for an infield single. Final result: zero runs. What is this, April 2006?
- Here's a quote from Bob Walk. "Brian Graham has done a heck of a job." Sigh.
- Jack Wilson actually looked like a good number two hitter today. 2-2, 1 BB
- Don Kelly will play the role of Jose Hernandez/Mike Edwards at Jim Tracy's next job.
- With all the Don Kelly references, you might think you are watching/listening to a Pirates broadcast.
- The middle of the order looked very shaky today.
- Masumi Kuwata looks like a guy that was a star in Japan. Five years ago.
- Ronny Paulino looks like he's ready to make the trip to Houston.
- Someone should have told Jason Bay about the "spontaneous" green hat/8-pack promotion. He probably didn't help the cause much during his interview when he said something along the lines of, "I get to keep the hat, I don't know that I will though."
- That looked like a high school game. I think the Twins misplayed 31 flyballs. But the Pirates were kind enough to run the bases poorly so as not to take advantage,
- Brad Eldred is still really big.
- This looked like the same old Pirates game. Waste early opportunities, fall behind 7-1, start to rally in the 9th, bring the tying run to the plate, leave the bases loaded, lose 7-3.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
1. Milwaukee Brewers
2. Pittsburgh Pirates
3. St. Louis Cardinals
4. Houston Astros
5. Chicago Cubs
6. Cincinnati Reds
I think that worked pretty well, though my method is not sophisticated enough to predict final win-loss records. Maybe it is time for the Pirates to "roll the dice."
Monday, March 05, 2007
Adam LaRoche hits a baseball extremely hard.
Adam LaRoche was the most prized acquisition for Dave Littlefield and the Pirates this offseason. He is coming off a career season in which he went .285/.354/.561 with 32 homeruns. LaRoche started slowly in 2006, hitting .251/.325/.479 with 13 homeruns before the All-Star break. However, he was phenomenal in the second half, with a line of .323/.387/.655 and 19 homeruns.
There are a few different theories on what caused this dramatic turn around. One focuses on the fact that he began taking medication for Attention Deficit Disorder, a condition he has struggled with since high school. Even LaRoche himself, who generally prefers to keep his symptoms and play on the field separate, has admitted that he has felt a greater ability to focus at the plate since beginning treatment.
Another belief is that LaRoche simply needed a regular spot in the lineup to become comfortable. He had spent much of his career starting only against right-handed pitchers, mostly because of his anemic numbers against lefties. However, once given the full-time first base job during the 2006 season, he flourished. He improved greatly against left-handers, with a respectable OPS of .797.
Adam LaRoche had his breakout season in 2006, and will look to improve in his first season in Pittsburgh. He will be 27 years old, just entering his prime, and playing in a favorable environment this year. The right field seats at PNC Park are only 320 feet from home plate, and LaRoche seemed to enjoy depositing baseballs into these sections when visiting last season. It is not hard to dream of fly balls off of his bat sailing into the Allegheny River beyond right field. Expect LaRoche to be a major factor in the middle of the Pirates’ lineup in 2007
2007 Statistics: .301/.362/.584
I have missed some significant happenings during my time away. Most importantly, spring training has begun. As is usual for this time of year, my spirits are high and my smile is quick. Any moment that the sun peaks out from behind the clouds, I boldly proclaim that spring is here and it is time for some infield practice. Then I scoop up the nearest stone and try to play catch with whomever I might be with at that moment. After dodging this hurtling object, he or she must attempt to stay patient, while once again explaining to me that my mediocre high school baseball career ended almost five years ago and to please stop throwing rocks at people. Others may not enjoy this time of year as much I do, but thus far no serious incidents have occurred as a result.
Check back soon for more optimistic previews. Hopefully I will get through the starting lineup before the season begins.