Coming off a series win vs the Tribe, the Bucs can creep closer to .500 and the division lead with a series win, or hopefully sweep vs the Royals. That wasn't meant to be a joke, the Bucs, while in last are only six games out of first. While they won't win it, fans should pay a little attention to this team. This past week brought about three moves that give Pirates fans a cause for excitement in the future.
The first move was the promotion of Brad Lincoln to AAA Indianapolis. After mowing down hitters at AA Altoona, Lincoln looked very sharp in his AAA debut. Lincoln's record doesn't show his dominance as he is only 2-5, but the 2.20 ERA in over 81 IP is very encouraging. As is the less than a hit per inning and the 8k/2bb per 9IP. People inside the organization say Lincoln is ready, so he may get the call this season. Probably after the July 31st trading deadline.
The second move was the promotion of Pedro Alvarez to Altoona. The average will come up, but Pedro can flat out hit. He didn't waste any time connecting on his first AA homer. In 3 games with the Curve, Pedro has hit two homers and driven in five. So far in the minors, Alvarez is hitting .246 with 16 homers and 66 RBI's. A September call-up looks realistic at the moment. When was the last time that two Minor League promotions created a buzz in the Pirates organization the way Lincoln and Alvarez have.
The third move was just as popular. That involved Ian Snell being demoted to AAA (Thank God). I actually didn't go to the game on Friday because I couldn't watch Snell pitch anymore and after that performance, I'm glad I didn't. I would rather see a pitcher with lesser stuff, but with the guts to go after hitters than watch Snell baby his way around the strike zone any longer. Pirate fans are tired of the excuses and tired of Snell placing the blame on everyone except himself. Don't expect a deal, because he has absolutely no trade value. I for one hope Ian can figure it out, but chances are he will never pitch in Pittsburgh again.
- Virgil Vasquez gets the first shot at replacing Snell, but expect Jeff Karstens to wind back up in the rotation or Tom Gorzelanny to get another look- at least until Lincoln is deemed ready.
-Good crowds for the 3 games series against the Tribe.
-Andrew McCutchen is on his way to winning rookie of the year, as I predicted before the season began. He will put up better numbers than the guys ahead of him at the moment. The Rockies Dexter Fowler and the Cardinals Colby Rasmus.
-Heads up play from Jack Wilson realizing the wheel play was on and taking third in the ninth last night. Heads up because it worked. If he gets gunned we are all ripping him right now. I like the aggressiveness though.
-Speaking of McCutchen, he looks like he has been here for years. Rookies don't have the poise at the plate and carry themselves the way that Cutch does. The at bat to draw the bases loaded, game tying walk last night was spectacular. Especially after starting 0-2 in the count.
-13 game hit streak for McCutchen and has hit in 18 of 20 career games. The 18 RBI's out of the leadoff spot is also very impressive. He is hands down the best player to come through the Pirates system since Bonds. I've been trying to think of others, but other than Aramis Rameriz, there just isn't much to choose from, which says a lot about how the Pirates have been run the last 15 years. they have had a couple of very good players: Rameriz, Kendall, Mclouth, etc., but none with the potential to be great.
- Love the move from Pirates management to DFA Craig Monroe. I especially love the timing, the day after dogging it in the field and not running out a ground ball. Especially with a young team, they don't need that in the clubhouse. Stick with the young guys for now.
-Steve Pearce got the call to take Monroe's place. He was having another good year in AAA but until he can adjust to a major league breaking ball, Pearce may be nothing more than a AAAA player. He made a huge blunder in right the other day, but he does have power and if he figures it out could be a nice bench player and a short term stop gap at first base when Adan Laroche gets dealt.
-Good to see John Russell get his money's worth last night when he got tossed. JR gets criticized for not showing emotion, but I think he has been good for the team. He picked his spot and it was a good, long argument and the team responded with a win.
-How awful is this team on the road? The 14-26 record doesn't even begin to sum it up. The 19-13 record at home is nice, as is the 13-7 mark against the NL East. Even worse than the road record though is the awful 10-21 mark against the NL Central. To eventually be a good team, you have to take care of business on the road and inside your own division.
-All star weekend could be worth paying attention to. Both Alvarez and Lincoln have been selected for the Futures game and Zach Duke and Freddy Sanchez are making cases for the MLB all star game. Likely only one gets the nod, but there is an outside chance both could go.
-No updates on the Sano situation. This is one I would really like the Bucs to win. Go head to head with he big boys and come out of it with the player you want. There have been questions on weather he is really 16 years old and I say Who cares? It looks like the Bucs, Yanks, Twins, Orioles and Cardinals are the top suitors. The race for the super prospect Sano is one the Bucs need to win.