The Pirates lone representative in the 2009 MLB All-Star game will be second baseman Freddy Sanchez, marking the third time in the last four seasons that Sanchez has earned the honor. No real surprise here. Zach Duke pretty much pitched himself off the team his last two outings, so Sanchez was the only possible choice. Sanchez is hitting .316 and having a very solid season. He missed the Florida series with tightness in his back, but hopefully Sanchez will be fine to take part in the game.
Speaking of Sanchez, his name has popped up in a couple trade rumors as of late. Both the Minnesota Twins and San Francisco Giants have expressed interest in Sanchez in the last week. The Giants have also expressed interest in Adam Laroche, but Sanchez is their top priority. Other Pirates names that have been floated out there as the trade deadline approaches within weeks have been Jack Wilson, Matt Capps and John Grabow.
Neil Huntington needs to be smart if and when he ships Sanchez. Freddy is probably the biggest chip left on the team that can help improve this team and MUST bring back good youngsters. There is nothing behind Sanchez and Wilson, so middle infield depth is a priority, preferably someone who can start with the big club next season. Capps can be had, and Huntington wants a power arm in return. One thing is for sure, the Bucs will definitely be receiving calls on all 5 players in the next few weeks.
One thing I think the Bucs should do is be willing to eat portions of each guys salary. Most teams will take on the contracts, but won't pony up top prospects in return. If the Pirates are willing to eat half of Sanchez and Wilson's salary, the return will likely be greater. Now I'm not suggesting to be stupid and pay money for no reason (Matt Morris anyone), but it can be used as a bargaining chip to acquire better players.
-Garrett Jones has been fun to watch so far. Big time power and he has speed for a big guy. He has been up for four games and now is tied for the outfield lead in homers with 2.
- 10 out of 10 baseball experts agree that the Morgan, Burnett for Milledge and Hanrahan swap is a win for the Bucs. Selling high while buying low is a good formula for any GM.
-I love Joel Hanrahan's arm. Fastball anywhere for 94-98 with a nice slider. I'd like to see him rely on the fastball a little more and work the inner half of the plate, something Joe Kerrigan will be able to help him with.
-Any concern over Ross Ohlendorff's last outing? Fastball barely got to 90 and he had only 5 swings and misses the entire game vs. the Marlins. I hope it was just one start, because I like what Ohlendorff has given the team so far. He is a solid back end of the rotation guy.
-We still can't win on the road.
-Steve Pearce simply can't hit a breaking ball. He looks bad at the plate. it amazes me that this guy ever saw a fastball, even at AAA. I know a AAA breaking ball isn't a major league breaking ball, but his approach isn't very good.
-Ian Snell makes me sick. Another good outing at AAA Indy. Complete game shutout. I really feel he still has good stuff, maybe the best on the team. He has to find away of bringing it out at the big league level. I wanted to find out how many full counts he has had at Indy. I'm sure it wasn't 3-2 on every single batter, like we are used to. If anything, maybe this will help get his trade value back up.
- Tough decision for the Bucs as Donnie Veal must be activated by Wednesday. The guys with options left have all been pitching well. Meek, Chavez, Jackson and Karstens. Your guess is as good as mine, but I'm leaning towards Meek.
-With Doumit coming back soon, there has been talk of moving Robinson Diaz to a backup infielder role. I hope he catches the ball better in the field than he does behind the plate, but the bat is very nice still.
- Congrats to former Bucco Tim Wakefield for making his first all-star team at age 75. Maybe it's like 43 but you get the point. Very classy guy and has done the job forever. Wakefield is having a great season and it's good he was recognized.
- Bucs get Mike Hampton tonight and if they have proved anything this season, it's that they can't hit the vetern lefty. Hampton has dominated them twice and the last time out got 17 out of 18 outs on the ground.
-No update on the Sano situation. It looks as if it will come down to the Bucs or Orioles. Both clubs are waiting out the MLB investigation on Sano's true age, which is expected to be concluded sometime this week. The Bucs better get him.
-Last Note is that Charlie Morton was flat out nasty earning his first Bucco win Friday vs the Fish. Fastball was hitting 96 with that nasty curve. One hit allowed through 6. If he didn't have to sit 45 minutes through a rain delay he probably would have kept pitching.