Showing posts with label Doumit. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Doumit. Show all posts

June 5, 2009

New Lineup

Wow! 

I said that shortly after Andrew McCutchen got his first MLB hit in his first at bat.  When McCutchen turned on the afterburners rounding second after Nyjer Morgan’s single in the first.

All I could say was “Wow!”

With the combination of McCutchen and Morgan at the top of the lineup, that kind of speed is hard to defense.

Wow!

Speed kills.  Speed creates runs.  With the speed the Pirates now field, and Freddy hitting like Freddy in the 3 hole.  There could be a ton of created runs through the rest of this season and beyond.

You can’t teach speed.  Other teams can only hope to contain it.

I have seen McCutchen in a few games.  I have never noticed, until today, how fast he actually is.

Wow!

It is entirely possible the Pirates may end up in a better place without McLouth.  Sanchez is a Tony Gwynn like 3 hole hitter.  He just hits.  The Pirates had an issue before today.  They had two number 3 hitters.  Freddy batting second was wasting some of his talent.

Now they have two leadoff guys.  This could be fun to watch.  Especially after Doumit returns.

Wow!

It is only one game.  But…

Wow!

May 2, 2009

A Few Promising Things

I am not trying to drink the Kool-Aid. I am not saying this team will contend.

What I am saying, even with a four game losing streak, there is still a few things to believe as promising.

Even with Maholm having a bad outing, he never should have started his last inning, Maholm still fought and had his team in a position to win when he was finally removed.

The night before, the Pirates battled back to tie the game at five before the bullpen imploded.

Snell pitched very well, being out dueled in Wednesdays game.

Duke has continued to shine.

The pitching staff still lead the NL in ERA at the end of April, a five pretty good teams in Pittsburgh Pirates history did the same. So there is some hope with the pitching staff.

There are plenty of reasons to think this staff has at least 3 legitimate pitchers at the top of the rotation.

Ohlendorf and Karstens, they have even looked good at time.  They are both filling their roles in the rotation the way they should as forth and fifth starters.  The way they have pitched, many teams would take that production from the 4 and 5 spots.

The Pirates offense has not been as outstanding the last 22 innings, but slumps can be expected on any team. 

The best part of this 4 game skid...The Pirates are still at .500 on the season.  As long as the team can get this skid under control, and soon, there is still plenty of reasons to think this team might break the streak.  The key to breaking the streak, the pitching must maintain what they are doing. 

The starting rotation needs to keep from pushing, thinking they need to go 7 or 8 innings scoreless.  The only way that mind set is avoided...the offense needs to step it up and soon.

Injuries:

Jaramillo has stepped in nicely to fill the mitt behind the plate after Doumit went down with a wrist injury.  He has hit better than expected and has provided a little better defense behind the dish.  While Doumit's bat is missed, his glove has been more than adequately replaced.

Bixler has provided solid play at short with Jack Wilson on the DL.  His bat has yet to fully translate to MLB levels, but his defense has been solid. 

The loss of McLouth for 6 games did not help the offense.  Morgan has continued to play well, when not getting picked off when on base. 

The problem for the Pirates right now, they can't afford any more key injuries.  The depth still is not where Huntington would like it to be.  Luckily, the injuries have happened at positions where adequate players were waiting in the wings. 

If the Pirates take a hit in the starting rotation, that could doom the team to that record breaking season of 17. 

Brother In Arms:

I am formally retiring the Lil and Big LaWhiff titles.  Both brothers are playing well.  Andy has recovered from one of the ugliest starts of a season I have ever seen a player have.  His glove has been solid and his bat has translated enough to show he is ready to be the everyday third baseman until a certain someone arrives.

Adam is being 2nd half Adam in the first half.  If he can keep this up the whole season, he has a good shot at 35 HR's this season.  A nice change for a lineup that hasn't had much pop since the early 90's.

 

Game Thread:

The game thread may be up late again today.  Too many things to do and I am still tweaking the new Netbook.

April 21, 2009

Plenty Of Reasons

There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic this season:

The Pirates starting pitchers are pitching well, pitching inside and going deep enough in the game to bypass a potentially weak middle of the bullpen.

The offense is showing they can score runs.

The defense has been solid and spectacular at times.

LaRoche’s can hit in April.  Adam is hitting .314 and Andy is hitting .250 after a very slow start.

The pitching staff has 4 shutouts.

Nyger Morgan has been phenomenal to date.

 

 

Now it is time to come back to reality…

Karstens pitches today.

Brandon Moss still has no RBI on his stat sheet.

Doumit’s MRI was inconclusive.  A CT scan is scheduled for Tuesday.

 

But for now, let’s enjoy a good start to the season and see what comes first.  A winning streak or a losing streak.

April 15, 2009

BTW News, Pirates 2009, New Young Buc

Ahhh!

Yesterday, my youngest son had surgery to remove adenoids and to have tubes put in his ears.  Everything went well and he is doing very well.  As a parent you have a tendency to be distracted when your child is about to have an operation, no matter how minor.  Just the thought of your child going under is a scary proposition, no matter how many times you have been through it.  Needless to say, holding him in the recovery room made a huge weight be lifted from my mind.

 

Pirates 2009:

While sitting in recovery holding Nicky as he slept, my mind started wandering back to baseball and the Pirates.  The 4-3 start to the 2009 season is a good thing, like that is breaking news. 

My biggest interest going forward is what will happen first.

You see, I have a belief that it is easier to stay above .500 than it is to get back to .500.  When trying to recover lost ground, teams always seem to press because of a tangible goal of .500.  When a team gets close, then fails, the pressure keeps building.

Failing to reach .500 for a young team, such as the Pirates, seems to always have a snowball affect, more like an avalanche.  When they get close but come a win or two away from the mark, as we have seen a few times in the last 16 years, the team seems to always have that losing streak right then.

A team that is over .500 can endure a losing streak and still not worry of a tangible goal they are failing to achieve, as long as they stay above .500.

So what I am looking for is what happens first.  Do the Pirates have a long winning streak or long losing streak?  If they can attain a long winning streak first, that will go a long way towards breaking the 16 year spiral we as fans have endured.

As for players so far, here are a few things I have noticed:

  • Brandon Moss seems to be a little faster than last year, I have been impressed with the speed he has shown so far.  While not blazing speed, he has been impressive none the less.
  • Staying with Moss, he has yet to earn a RBI.  A somewhat distressing fact.
  • Was I wrong on Nyjer Morgan?  He has been a catalyst for this team with the bat and with his speed and toughness.  He is doing a lot of little things right that have plagued him in the past.  A couple example are breaking up a double play to keep the inning going just prior to Doumit's grand slam.  Another example was taking out the catcher on an excellent hip check from his youth.  While he didn't need to make contact, the play was closer than it appeared as the ball was on it's way home.
  • Freddy Sanchez and Jack Wilson both look like they want to stay in Pittsburgh.  Each has been fantastic, maybe no more so than the fantastic double play they turned against the Reds.
  • Zach Duke looks as if he has turned back the clock, or at least hit the same point that Maholm did a year and a half ago.  He seems to be trusting his pitches again and is pitching to all parts of the plate.
  • With Maholm, Duke and Ohlendorf all pitching well, getting Snell to stay in a groove rather than grooving too many pitches will be a big hurdle for Russell and Kerrigan to clear.  If Snell finds himself again, the bullpen may not be an issue as they will not be used often.

I fear the warm and fuzzy sensation I have been having about the Pirates, too many times in has turned into a stomach virus the last 16 years.

 

New Young Buc:

The Pirates have acquired Delwyn Young from the Dodgers for two PTBNL.  Look for Luis Cruz to be demoted after Young arrives in Pittsburgh.  Young will likely be used as a utility player who can play outfield and most infield positions save 1B.

BTW Take:

Cruz was on the roster due to Bixler becoming a prospect again in spring training.   This move allows the Pirates to have a bat on the bench, rather than just a glove.  It doesn't make perfect sense, since Young has not played 2B in two years. 

March 29, 2009

Random March Madness

Pitt was doing well enough in the tournament, I did not want to jinx them with my posting.  Call it my superstitious side, call it the baseball player in me reemerging.  Call it whatever you will, I had to step back from the keyboard for a couple days, and they won both.  The old rule, don't mess with a streak.

Unfortunately, I am back now.  On to the Madness...Random that is:

How's this for a 180:

The Pittsburgh Pirates and Jack Wilson have begun discussions for a contract extension.  Apparently Wilson has initiated the discussions.

BTW Take:

Did I miss something?  For the last few years Wilson has been making statements on how he would retire after his contract was up.  Now he is initiating discussions for an extension?  Personally, I would be a little annoyed with Wilson.  He has basically undermined trade discussions with his talk of retirement.  Now he wants to continue playing.  I can't blame the guy for wanting to stay in Pittsburgh, it is a great city to live in and I miss it dearly. 

Could there be more to it?

Might Wilson be looking at the team as actually being close in the next couple years?  Might he be showing faith in the direction Huntington is going?  Considering how well the rotation has done this spring.  Considering the stars of the Pirates future (McCutchen, Tabata, Alvarez) are very close.  Thinking Andy LaRoche is ready to show what he can do.  Might all those things add up to Wilson having faith in the direction?  Might he see an end to the humiliation, and end to the streak?

Maybe?  Or Jack is full of it and just wants another payday.  You decide.

 

WBC Should Be WBC:

I have an idea for the World Baseball Classic.  Change the name.  It should be the World Baseball Championship.  I want to see a true world champion determined.  No more of this country versus country crap.  Let's abbreviate it and take league champion versus league champion.  I want to see a true World Champion named.  MLB fans could cheer on their representative, Japanese League fans root for their representative.  I want to see who is the best of the best.  Make it a yearly event.  Make a true World Champion!

 

Rumor Update:

My last post was on a rumor of the Pirates hunting for someone for the rotation.  The next day the Ohman rumors started kicking up again.  Now they can be tied together.  If the Pirates can land Ohman, they will be trying to move Burnett to land a fifth starter off the waiver wire heap.  There are going to be quite a few casualties of the 25 man roster in coming days, the Pirates are scouring the wire for a target.

As a side note, I have heard Walkers name in some rumors surrounding the starting rotation, as trade bait not a position switch.

 

Wily Mo No Mo':

The Nationals released Wily Mo Pena.  Please Neal Huntington, look away from the shiny object like Wily Mo looks away from the ball on defense.

 

McCutchen, Tabata, Alvarez:

This spring, all three have shown they are nearly ready.  Look for Alvarez to finish the year in Indianapolis, he should fly through the system in quick order.  Tabata and McCutchen should be in Pittsburgh and soon. 

 

Left Field:

While Nyger Morgan is a fun and energetic guy, he does not belong on a MLB roster at this time.  It is a certainty that McCutchen will not be starting in left to start the season, more of a business of baseball thing than a baseball decision.  This leaves a few candidates for the starting job: Monroe, Salazar, Jones and Hinske.  A platoon may be in order for Monroe and Hinske.  But my money, if I were to bet, is still on Salazar.  Salazar can play better D than either Monroe or Hinske and is no slouch with the bat either.  Jones is the wildcard, I have liked what I have seen of him and he just seems to have that little something extra.  That something that it is hard to put a finger on.

 

Fifth Of Starter:

Ohlendorf has locked up the fourth starter sot in the rotation.  As mentioned earlier, the front office is not happy with the competition for the fifth starter spot and are looking to fill from outside the franchise. 

 

Jaramillo:

It was made official, Jaramillo was named backup to Doumit.  Diaz was sent to Indy.  I look at this more along the lines of wanting to get the better all around guy some more playing time.  Jaramillo is obviously better with a glove and arm, but Diaz has impressed with the bat.  If Doumit goes down for an extended period, look for Diaz to get called up and step into the starter role.

 

BTW:

It is great to be back writing again, I wish my superstition would have won Pitt the championship.  Anyhow, Jon with his beast of the east entry is leading a pitiful pack of prognosticators in the BTW Bracket Challenge.  It is not a pretty sight.

 

In my Sportsocrocy  Mock Celebrity Bracket, I still have a good chance of winning.  I need a win out of Michigan St and North Carolina today and it is nearly locked up.

February 17, 2009

Ohman, Jaramillo, Steroids

Ohman:

Jerry Crasnick is reporting on ESPN.com that the Pirates are one of three teams who have offered major league contracts to Will Ohman, the other two are the Padres and Marlins.  Ohman plans to continue discussions with three contending teams being the Mets, Dodgers and Phillies.

BTW Take:

While it is nice to know the Pirates have an offer on the table, all three contending teams could still use help in the pen.  One of them will step up and offer a deal to Ohman.  The only chance the Pirates actually have is if the money is so far off that Ohman looks at a deal with the Pirates as nothing more than a preamble to a trade to a contender in June.

 

Jaramillo:

A player happy to come to the Pittsburgh Pirates?  Yes there is such a player.  His name is Jason Jaramillo. 

BTW Take:

While on the surface one would wonder if Jaramillo is destined to pop a drug test, he actually has a lot of reasons to be happy.  He and John Russell have a good history.  He was trapped behind two solid catchers in Philly, much the same as where Ronny Paulino sits now, but now has a chance to make the majors.  He also knows quite a few Pirate players and coach Long.  He feels like he is coming home in a sense.

Jaramillo is a good defensive catcher, a nice alternative to the average at best defensive catcher in Doumit.  Don’t think Jaramillo will take away Doumit’s position, Doumit is a catcher because of his bat which is much better that Jaramillo. 

 

Steroids:

Just like anyone else, I am sick of hearing this story and how everyone wants to hear the other 103 players named.  What does it matter?  It has already been leaked that players were warned of the tests prior to 2003.  It is not hard to “study” for such tests.

If anyone is gullible enough to believe the 104 players who tested positive are the only players to have used?  I have some ocean front property here in Iowa I’d like to sell you.

People are calling for “clean” players to come forward and be “role models” by standing up for clean and fair play.  The name I hear most often is Jeter.  Has anyone considered why Jeter may not step up and do this?  Might he be viewed as a hypocrite the same way A-Rod is being viewed?  Might he be afraid his name will be mentioned in the future on a different report?

The 104 failures are not the only doping cheaters in the history of the game.  Please people, stop acting like this list is the be all end all list of cheaters.  It is merely a start of what is sure to be a long laundry line of dirty laundry to be aired in the coming years. 

There is a reason the 1990-2003 seasons are looked at as the “Steroid Era”. 

This is why I don’t write about steroids.  The more time that passes.  The more players get named.  The important thing is MLB does everything possible to keep the game clean.  Lord knows there are no players in the Hall that have cheated.  Right?  (Sarcasm alert in case you missed it)

 

Donate:

I will be walking in the MDA Stride and Ride locally. Please sponsor me in my Stride and Ride Walk for MDA at https://www.joinmda.org/srcoralvilleia09/dharr18. Every dollar is appreciated.

 

BTW Note:

My wife is having surgery on Tuesday.  I can not guarantee a post Tuesday night, but I have been working on my most challenging piece yet…An optimistic view of the Pirates 2009 season.  Hopefully it will be up soon.

I am also working a new 5 Questions piece that I hope to have up sometime in the next couple weeks.  I am getting the questions together and hope to have them sent out sometime this week.  Thanks to the surprise 5 Question target.

February 4, 2009

Huntington Interview on Stern and Kennedy - Part 2

This is the second part if Neal Huntington’s interview on Stern and Kennedy. Stern and Kennedy can be heard on XM 175 (Sirius 210) MLB Home Plate. The interview was recorded Friday, January 30th.

The first part of the interview can be read here.

Stern:
Neal, you talk about the fans, obviously Kevin and I, and anyone who works in talk radio, we feel the pulse from the fans as well as anybody. And Pirate fans are certainly alive and well. Between that stadium and that city, a ton of passion and a lot of reasons to want to get excited and get behind the team. When you first came onboard and you started to feel the pulse of this city. How much of this is about wanting to bring a winner back to the city of Pittsburgh?

Huntington:
Well, it is why we do this. We do this to build a winner. To win championships. To work with great people. And to work towards that common goal of winning. As I got more familiar with the people of Pittsburgh, I knew from the outside looking in that it was a passionate sports town. But I had no idea. You look at Pitt basketball, the Steelers and Penguins. And there's three teams here in one city being very successful and the support for them each individually is tremendous. If we go back to a couple series over the course of the summer, we were playing well. The place was packed for the Yankees series. Which I know it is packed everywhere for the Yankees series. But you feel the electricity. We're playing relatively, unfortunately for us right now, meaningless games in September. And we spark a rally and we come from behind 4-2. And the people in the stands are cheering. And they are excited about the game.

So, the passion is still here. They want to win, and they tell me every single day that it is time for a winner. And that is what we work towards. That is why we wake up and we are definitely moving in that direction.

Kennedy:
What is the pulse of the fans...with what you have done this winter?

Huntington:
They have really liked that we have gotten Ryan Doumit and Paul Maholm signed to multi-year deals that put us in a position to build around them. We know what that is going to cost us. So now we can put pieces in place around them to make us a better and deeper organization.
Obviously we want the same thing with Nate McLouth. We are working hard, but we have three more years with Nate even if he chooses to leave via free agency at the end.
They are excited about the direction we are going in. They do understand, but at the same time they are frustrated. They don't feel we have done enough this offseason. They wanted us to go play in the big free agent market and to try and turn this thing around overnight.
Kevin, you know as well as I do, there is no miracle cure for a franchise that has been losing for a long time.

Kennedy:
Yes. Yes. Right.

Huntington:
We are building. We added up our level of talent. We do feel it can happen sooner than later. You look at what the Twins did last year. We have a ways to go talent wise. We do have some good talent here.
Joe Kerrington coming in to help our young pitchers. We think that will help make us better on the mound.
Perry Hill's going to make us better defensively.
Donnie Long, in his second year, is going to make us better.
We have some young players that are learning and developing. Our veteran players need to go out and do what they are capable of. They need to not be tough in April and May. We need to come out of the gates and we need to swing the bats and play the game well with our veterans. And the guys who broke out last year we need to keep moving and getting better.

BTW Take:

“Our veteran players need to go out and do what they are capable of. They need to not be tough in April and May.”

I think this sentence was a message to a certain first baseman.

Overall, there are quite a few comments I like, maybe none more than the one I have already mentioned. I think NH is calling out the players as well as putting the pressure on the coaching staff to turn this around. He wants to see actual improvements in the team, not the perceived improvements the last regime imagined.

Huntington’s comments stay consistent with the accountability stance ownership and management has been preaching. However, I fear they are putting too much faith in coaching to improve a recognized lack of talent.

I will work on getting more scribbled down and post it as I get it completed, it will likely be 4 parts. Check back tomorrow, hopefully I will have some more of the transcription completed. Unless I get a message from XM to cease and desist.

By no means do I claim this transcript is absolutely accurate. Anyone who has listened to a radio interview knows many sentences run together and the words “and” and “um” are often used.


There is a good discussion started over at The Buccos Forum. Here is a link:

http://www.thebuccosforum.com/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1233722408

Donate:

I will be walking in the MDA Stride and Ride locally. Please sponsor me in my Stride and Ride Walk for MDA at https://www.joinmda.org/srcoralvilleia09/dharr18. Every dollar is appreciated.

December 21, 2008

Doumit Deal Is Done

According to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, the Pirates have come to terms with Ryan Doumit on a contract that will cover his 3 arbitration years with a club option for his first year of free agency.  Financial terms are expected tomorrow when the contract is announced.

BTW Take:

No surprise at this point.  This will be a 3 year deal probably around $12-$15M plus the club option.  This makes sense for Doumit.  As for the Pirates, this is a gamble with Doumits inability to stay healthy.  Some will point to him never being able to play 140+ games a year as this being a waste.  The problem there, Pirates fans were spoiled by Jason Kendall and his durability.  Catchers don't generally catch 140+ games a year unless they DH in the AL.  This could be a good contract, depending on health and Ryan's ability to improve on the "breakout" year he had in 2008.

Don't expect a .350 hitter.  It would be more realistic Doumit being a .280 to .290 hitter with 20HR's and improved defense while starting 110+ games.  Those stats would do the Pirates well and cement Doumit as a solid MLB catcher with the potential to be considered among the best in the NL.

One other important thing would be for Ryan to have a complete season and not tail off towards the end of the year as he did in 2008.

 

UPDATE 11:37:

Jerry Crasnick is reporting the "deal could be worth a total value of $20 million over four years or $30 million over five years."

After a few calls, text messages and emails.  The 3 years of arbitration could be worth between $8 million and $10 million depending on the source.  The fourth year is supposedly a team option that can be automatically invoked with certain performance levels, one of which is games played over the first 3 years.  The forth year is believed to be worth between $6 and $8 million.  The last year is supposedly a straight team option between $7 and $10 million.  Total contract, based on sources, is between $21 million and $28 million with options included.  There is also a buy out tied to the fifth year, this number varies from my sources between $500K and $3M.

I guess this will tell me how good my sources on this are.  I hope I got all the numbers straight, I've been under the weather along with my wife today. 

Prospects On The Rise, Other Stuff

First, I would like to pay on my sympathy to the Pirates organization, former teammates and family of Dock Ellis who passed away Friday.  I remember watching him pitch as a young child.  The baseball world lost a valuable member of its family.

Prospects On The Rise:

According to Dejan the Pirates are hoping to start Pedro Alvarez at High A Lynchburg.  Tabata could start in AAA, creating a log jam of center fielders in Indianapolis.  Lincoln and Moskos could be starting in Altoona to start the season as well.

BTW Take:

I hope Coonley and Huntington aren't rushing Pedro too fast to make up for missed time.  Actually it looks like they are moving quite a few prospects up quickly.  This type of expectation reeks of an organization trying to force its hand and show they are improving well before it is time. 

This is a nice change from the Littlefield era where no one seemed to move at all unless they seemingly had been ready to move up for at least half a season.

If Tabata and McCutchen are both in Indy to start the season, look for both to get significant time playing in left as well as center.  With the large size of left in PNC, this season in Indy should tell the team who will be the left fielder of the future for the Pirates.  I would not be surprised to see an outfield of Tabata, McCutchen and McLouth to close out the year in Pittsburgh.

 

Other Stuff:

Another Bucs Outlet:

Another location to follow the Pirates this season, Evan Foley will be covering the Pirates at Study Of Sports.

 

Doug Is A Good Guy:

An interesting quote from Dejan's Hot Stove Report:

"Busiest guy on the phone this winter might be Doug Mientkiewicz, who has made a habit of calling teammates to ensure they are staying in shape. And this is especially noteworthy, considering Mientkiewicz not only is a free agent but also has yet to receive an offer from the Pirates."

BTW Take:

It seems like Doug might return after all, either that or he is just that good of a person.  Doug will be a great manager someday.

 

Free Agent Updates:

No major updates on the Turnbow, Bootcheck, Hairston nor Cabrera fronts.  The Pirates are still believed to be in the running for each player.  There are at least a dozen teams interested in Cabrera.  At least a handful of teams are interested in Hairston and Turnbow.  There are a couple teams interested in Bootcheck, with the Pirates being the closest to signing him at this time.

 

Contract Negotiations:

A contract is expected to be announce with Ryan Doumit early next week, likely before the Christmas to New Years break.  One thing to consider, the Pirates may actually be busy over the holiday break in hopes of landing an extension or minor free agent signing.

 

Minor League Managers Named:

Several coaches and managers were named.  Here is a link to the PG recap of the moves.

December 19, 2008

Pirates Close To Signing Doumit

According to multiple sources, the Pirates are close to a contract extension with Ryan Doumit.  Some sources believe the signing could happen before Christmas.

Talks with Maholm are preliminary at this time.

Talks with McLouth are not as promising, but they are not dead either.

BTW Take:

While I like Doumit, there really is no surprise he would want to lock down some figures for the rest of his arbitration years.  Considering his injury history, I would not be surprised if a deal is worked out into 2012, his potential first free agency year.  I am sure Ryan would welcome a steady paycheck.

I expect Maholm to follow a similar path as negotiations progress.  With the volatility and injury risk of the position, any pitcher would be wise to take a guaranteed deal through their arbitration years.

As for McLouth, I don't see a deal getting done this Winter.  A signing is a possibility during spring, but not during Hot Stove Season.  Considering he won a Gold Glove and made the All-Star team, the squabbling will likely be over bonus money and rewarding him for a wonderful 2008 season.  The Pirates are looking at McLouth to leadoff in 2009 while McLouth is looking at the numbers he put up in 2008 and wants to be paid accordingly.  This will be a slow process that could become volatile if McLouth is forced into batting leadoff the entire 2009 season, potentially affecting his offensive numbers especially RBI's.  Nate will want the money a 100 RBI guy gets.  A deal will likely happen before the season to protect the Pirates if Nate slides backs down to a middle of the order into an RBI producer position and to protect Nate if he is forced to stay in a leadoff position limiting his RBI potential.

December 17, 2008

A Wild Thought Looking to 2012

All the anticipation of a Mark Teixeira signing has me thinking.

While listening to an interview on MLB Live (XM 175) during the winter meetings, a key quote came from one of the GM's who were being interviewed.  He made a comment that you aren't building a team for just this coming year, but also building with an eye five years down the road. 

This had my mind wandering with thoughts of what the Pirates moves might mean five years down the road.  None of the recent signings fall under that scenario.  However the rumored discussions going on with McLouth, Doumit and Maholm would at least be looking three or four years in the future.

That lineup in 2012 could have a nucleus of McLouth, McCutchen, Tabata, Alvarez and Doumit.  A few other names could be Sanchez, Andy LaRoche and Walker.  All in all, that seems like a pretty nice lineup to manage.

The rotation in 2012 could consist of Maholm, Gorzelanny, Snell and Bryan Morris and about 10 others to chose from for the remaining spot.

Now the question is, should the Pirates be looking at adding to that lineup now?

Adam LaRoche likely will not be a Pirate beyond 2009. 

In 2012 Alvarez will be manning one of the corner infield positions.  Walker or Andy LaRoche might be manning the other.

Why not make a move to have the veteran centerpiece to the lineup added now?

Teixeira is a rare talent.  Offering a contract to him with an eye to the future could make a nice lineup be formidable.  Obviously there would have to be some sort of out for Teixeira in the event season 20 of losing is looming.  The Pirates would probably like an out too.

Offer Teixeira a $200M 10 year contract with opt outs after year 3 (2012), year 5 (2014) and year 8 (2017).  The Pirates also should receive an opt out after year 5 also.

This would destroy payroll, and could never happen with the somewhere in the range of $50M payroll.  Or could it?

Adam LaRoche will be getting somewhere in the $7-8M range after arbitration.  If that contract was traded, the Pirates still have $12M to pick up.  Ironically there have been many references to the Pirates have $12-15M to spend if the fit is right.

A trade of Jack Wilson would free up some additional room under the estimated payroll.

It seems most of the rotation is already in place.  Why not add the key piece if he would be interested in playing on the east coast, close to where he calls home.  If Teixeira is honestly considering Baltimore or Washington, why not Pittsburgh?  He could be mentioned with Stargell, Clemente, Maz and many other in Pirate lore and be a local hero in a town that follows baseball until Steeler camp opens.  That could change with a player like Teixera on the roster.

A signing like this would sell some tickets in a tough economic time for the Pirates.  Teixeira would be a named face of the team for years to come. 

If LaRoche is not moved?

Teixeira can play third.

Why would Teixeira want to play in Pittsburgh besides being a Pittsburgh hero? 

Take another look at the talent that will be around him in the next couple years.  If $20M isn't enough, the talent that will be coming in the next couple of years could make the decision easier.  He won't be coming into a rebuilding project.  He will be reaping the benefits of coming in at the end of a 16 year rebuilding project.

If Baltimore and Washington are actually part of the discussion, the Pirates have a better future looming based on prospects than Washington.  Baltimore has Weiters and a few other nice prospects similar to the situation the Pirates are in.  My personal biased opinion is the Pirates have better closer than Baltimore.

Another reason, in three years he has an opt out that would likely be a much better market for free agents. 

Why would the Pirates make such a 10 year gamble?

In order for Huntington to build the franchise through trades, there needs to be pieces to trade.  The Pirates could always trade him for a bounty of young talent before year three and further rebuild their minor league system.  Teixeira could be that huge piece, even if he is not in the 2012 lineup.  If he is still here in 2012 and beyond, the Pirates have their new star to hang their hat on.  Not just a nice player hyped by the team as an elite player.

This scenario will never happen, but it is fun to dream isn't it?

December 13, 2008

Non-Tendered and Possible Pirate Targets

Here is a link to the non-tendered players:

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/wire?section=mlb&id=3766373

 

The three guys I'd like to see as possible targets are:

Willy Taveras -The Pirates have gone a long time without a speedy leadoff guy.  I don't count Duffy in this since he never really established himself in MLB.  Plopping Taveras in CF with McLouth in LF and Moss in RF makes a decent offensive outfield.  Defense could be poor though.  This would also buy a little more time for McCutchen in Indy.

Aaron Miles - IF the Pirates are actually looking at moving Sanchez, this is a good target for them.  The other option is getting Miles and sending Freddy back to 3B.

Tkashi Saito - If his new age medicine works, this is a guy who would solidify the late innings in Pittsburgh.  Saito in the 8th, Capps in the 9th.  That should take some strain off the starters from having to go 7 to feel safe with a lead.

With a first 3 in the Lineup of Taveras, Miles and McLouth the team is in good shape for small ball and good speed at the top of the order.  Sanchez could also bat second if he played 3B. 

If McCutchen can take away an outfield spot, Taveras could slide to left and McLouth moves to right.  While the team would lack power, it could be a very aggressive lineup on the base paths.  I am thinking along the line of St. Louis in the Coleman days.

If Huntington was sincere in saying McCutchen will be on the roster at some point in the season, a possible lineup of the following could produce some RBI chances and a few interesting games.

Lineup:
McCutchen, CF
Taveras, LF
Sanchez, 3B
Doumit, C
McLouth, RF
LaRoche, 1B
Miles, 2B
Wilson, SS
Pitcher, P

Just a drunken thought, that's all.

December 12, 2008

Winter Meeting Recap

Thanks to a wonderful site called Woot I have been sidetracked from writing.  Woot was kind enough to have a 3 day Woot-off during the Winter meetings.  Sorry people, my geek life takes precedence occasionally.

Now, onto the recap.

No Mo Ro Pa:

The Pittsburgh Pirates and Philadelphia Phillies swapped catchers.  Ronnie Paulino was sent to the Phillies for a return of Jason Jaramillo.

BTW Take:

Looking at stats alone, it seems Jaramillo has a better eye in the minors based on his walk numbers alone.  Beyond walks, there minor league stats aren't much different. 

The sad think for Ronnie, he went from being a backup catcher to Ryan Doumit to potentially being blocked by Carlos Ruiz and Lou Marson.  People seem to think Paulino is a good hitting catcher.  He never showed a .310 average was in him while playing in the minors.  Remember it took a few injuries to even get a shot in Pittsburgh. 

He was praised for his handling of pitchers, but his defense was lousy and his offense came back to earth after his fluke of a .310 season as a rookie.  A .280 minor league hitter does not turn into a .310 MLB hitter.  Paulino also earned a tag of being lazy, whether he deserved that tag or not is something you can decide.

Jaramillo was considered a top prospect not long ago.  He is only a year younger than Paulino.  This seems to be a trade to grant Paulino his wish of a trade while getting a player back that Russell has managed in the past and was very high on.  More or less, a slacker for a hard worked.

 

Rule 5:

The Pittsburgh Pirates took Donnie Veal in the MLB portion of the Rule 5 draft.

In the Minor League portion, the Pirates did something unusual, grabbing players from the Latin Summer Leagues.  The players taken in the Minor League portion are Andres Santos ( 22, New York Yankees) Rafael Quintero (21, Cleveland Indians), Gerardo Esparza (21, Seattle Mariners). The first two were in the DSL, Esparza in Venezuela.

BTW Take:

Veal seems to be a solid pickup.  He has had some tough times over the last 3 years off the diamond.  If he can get his game together, this guy could be a steal.  I found this article on his personal problems over the last 3 years.  He lost both his parents, his mother to cancer and his father to a diving accident.

The minor league pickups I have not found much on, but the fact the Pirates went outside the norm makes these moves even more impressive in a creative kind of way.  Dejan has a nice little write up on this in the PBC Blog, the 6:05 update.

 

Free Agent Signing:

The Pirates are on the verge of signing a 2 year contract with Ramon Vazquez. 

BTW Take:

Everyone seems to think this is a precursor to a Jack Wilson or Freddy Sanchez trade.  I have my doubts.  This has the smell of a move to have an additional option if Andy LaRoche or Neil Walker can't take the Hot Corner.  Vazquez could play third or Freddy could move back to third if both prospects fail to make the grade.  Vazquez has played 255 games at third.

Just because rumors swirl about a Wilson trade doesn't make Vazquez the next shortstop.

 

Bixler a Marlin?:

Rumors swirl about the Marlins being interested in Brian Bixler.

BTW Take:

I'd hate to see Bixler go.  I had the opportunity to see Bixler play in College.  If you asked me to give a CHP (Can He Play) rating, I would say he can play.  I think he struggled with the initial call up.  Don't be surprised if he doesn't perform worlds better in his next call up.

 

McCutchen To Pittsburgh:

In one of Huntington's press meetings, he made a statement McCutchen will "likely" be on the MLB roster sometime in 2009.

BTW Take:

I am anxious to see what he can do.

 

The BIG News:

The Pirates are in discussions to sign extensions with Maholm, McLouth and Doumit.

BTW Take:

McLouth and Maholm make sense.  Doumit scares me with his injury history.  Last season he stayed mostly healthy, but I'd like to see him do it again before dropping a long term deal on him.

August 5, 2008

BTW QA

A question from Rick:
How do you see the Bucs OF shaping up next year? With McClouth, McCutchen, Moss and Pearce, someone seems to be on the outside looking in. I'm betting Pearce gets the shaft again. What say you?

I've been thinking about that, for most of the 10 hour drive to WV.
I can see one of two things happening:
McCutchen spends another year seasoning in Indianapolis, he has been quite streaky this year.

or...

Pearce is moved back to first. McCutchen takes over in left with Moss moving to right. I have a hunch that Huntington will try to move Adam LaRoche over the winter. He and Andy should savor their time together this season.


And one from Eric:
When is someone in this Organization going to understand NO MITT Doumit is NOT A CATCHER!!!!!!!!!

He missed 3 pitches last night & costs the Pitchers who knows how many strikes by not knowing how to catch pitches or Is incapable of doing it.


Doumit's struggles last night were more to do with Hererra crossing him up than Doumit not being able to play catcher.
One thing with Hererra, he has a ton of movement on his pitches, so much so he rarely knows where they are going. I think this movement stems from his loss of velocity since he left Cuba. If he ever regains that speed, he will regain some of his control.


Only 5 days until I head back to Iowa...Then back to normal posting with pregame vitals.

August 4, 2008

New Lineup

It seems like the offense has not lost a step. After Adam LaRoche returns, the middle of the lineup could be just as potent. McLouth, Doumit, LaRoche and LaRoche could be a potent 3 through 7. It seems 3B may no longer be a complimentary position in the lineup.
It was relaxing to see Andy deliver big in a clutch situation.
My big question is, who bats 1 and 2? My guess is Sanchez then Wilson.
Any thoughts?

While I am on "vacation", I will be doing mostly quick thoughts with the occasional deeper post when I can get to a computer.
Posting from my handheld means no spell checking...

July 30, 2008

Something Fishy, By the Bay, Getting Deep

Something Fishy:

The Sun-Sentinel is "reporting" Ryan Doumit is one of four catchers targeted by the Marlins before the deadline.

BTW Take:

The article mentions the Pirates have Paulino in the minors who was their starting catcher, inferring there is depth in the system.  They also say John Grabow would have to be part of the deal.  Two problems, Paulino (last I checked) was on the DL and working his way back.  Second, Paulino has fallen out of favor with management and coaches. 

Of all the players on the Pirates, the one that is least likely to be moved is Doumit.  He is still controlled for 3 more years, so the Marlins would have to absolutely sell the farm to get him.  I don't see that happening and I do not see Huntington trading away useful parts for the future just for a few more bodies in the minors considering the lack of depth at catcher in the minors.

Doumit does not get moved, at least until he has less that 2 years guaranteed with the team left.  There is no way he is moved before 2010 trade deadline.

Bay By The Bay?:

Dejan reports at the PG that Tampa and other parties are in deep trade talks over Jason Bay.

BTW Take:

Bay to the Rays makes sense for both teams, considering Bay is signed through next season, he is not a rental to Tampa.  Tampa has a DEEP farm.  Perfect match.  Let's see what happens.

It's Getting Deep:

Joe Starkey at the Trib has a good column up on what should happen before the deadline with an excellent quote from Doug Mientkiewicz:

"The franchise has to get deeper," said Mientkiewicz, who has experienced big-league baseball's high-revenue (Boston, New York) and low-revenue (Minnesota, Kansas City) districts. "They have to get a lot more talent in the minor-league system to be competitive. I think we're all seeing now that this franchise is very limited in talent at the higher levels.

"The only way you're going to get better as a big-league team is to get deep in the minor leagues. You have to be 28 to 35 (players) strong in order to be competitive."

"This isn't a one-year project," Mientkiewicz said. "You have to give them time, because the people who were here before were ... "

With that, Mientkiewicz just shook his head...

Quote from a reader:

Understand the concept that the team has to get more prospects. TBay probably is only team right now able to pry Bay. My point is Bay is ONE veteran they should keep, at least until next August because without him, Nate and Doumit become weighted down with expectations. Pirates will not get ANYONE in trade or FA with Bay value and character in next 4-5 years. Tabata may be high ceiling but also very high risk. Pirate fans are so used to seeing players dumped, their mindset has become "let's trade away all our vets and start over". ...that being said, I honestly believe Huntington has had no intention of keeping Bay from day one and he will be dealt today or Wed....this team got an o.K. return for Nady/Marte, but they really could have got more( I live in Trenton area and have seen all 4 play). THey will take less for Bay and 3 years from now, Nate and Doumit will be Bay today. Why? Because look at who Huntington signed and wanted to sign over the winter to long deals...Snell, Sanchez and LaRoche. He is better than Littlefield( who wouldn't be), but his prime evaluations are curious.

Update 5:32:  The above quote is from W.G.

BTW Take:

I won't publish their name, until I get an OK from them...

The Doug M. quote says it all, the system needs to get deeper to get better and stay better.  It is easy for we fans to look at Bay and want to keep him, but that does not make it the right thing for the organization in general.  Huntington needs to plan for the future and turn over every bargaining chip he can to bring water to the desert that is the Pirates minor league system.

Until there is actual talent in all levels of the franchise, there will be no long term sustained success at the major league level.  While I hate comparing to Oakland or Minnesota, they have built their franchises the right way with plenty of depth.  There are few teams the Pirates can be compared to thanks to the ineptitude of the previous front office.  Tampa has taken the right approach by drafting the best available player in the drafts, they are reaping the rewards this season.

If Huntington were to build only through the draft and keep any players of worth to stay mildly competitive, it would take 4-6 more years of losing to rebuild this franchise.  A large part of that would be luck and health as much as it would be talent and homework just to improve in 6 years.  By the time the franchise was rebuilt, Huntington would likely be out of a job.

Live Blog:

I am going to start up a live blog to run through the deadline starting today through after the deadline.  Leave some comments, questions or links in the live blog and I will have them posted as I see them.  As always, I will have the first 10 posters have unmodified posts so they can post any links or comments for trades that may come down the wire before I see them.