Thursday, April 29, 2010

Controlling the Running Game

After a good twelve game start, followed by an awful seven game stretch, the Bucs managed to win their last two in Miler Park; sending them to LA on a good note.

Despite how bad things have gone at times, the Pirates sit only three games under .500 and only five games out of first place.

It would be nice to see them hang around for a few months; hopefully attracting a few more fans in the process.

One thing has to happen though for the Bucs to start to play better though and that is control the running game better.  Although Ryan Doumit's bat has come around the last week, his defense gets worse year to year.

He doesn't call a great game behind the plate, often going away from pitcher's strengths.  His calls on location also makes you wonder sometimes.  The pitchers just always seem to fare better when they are throwing to the backup catcher.  Dating back to when Ronny Paulino was the backup catcher, the ERA against was always much lower for the backup then for Doumit.

Everyone also saw the play Monday night in Miller Park when he failed to block the plate as well.  That just can't happen, especially from a veteran catcher.

One area that's abysmal this season is Doumit throwing out base runners.  So far, opposing base runners have attempted 22 stolen bases and Doumit has thrown out just one runner.   That's about 4% if you are scoring at home.  The league average is usually around 25%.  The worse part is that none of the steals have even been close.  Backup catcher Jason Jarimillo has yet to have a runner attempt a steal on him.

Much of the blame should be put on Doumit, but not all of it.  The pitchers must do a better job of holding runners on.  Paul Maholm is really the only pitcher that has any success controlling the running game.  It also seems teams are stealing third way too much on the Pirates.  Funny how they always seem to pick the perfect pitch to run on.  That answer is simple- they are reading Doumit's signs.  He has to do a better job of switching up the signs when a runner is on second.

Some blame has to be thrown at John Russell and the coaching staff as well.  How many pitch outs and pick off attempts do we see?  Not that many.  That stuff is called from the dugout.  They need to give Doumit a little more help there, but in the end Doumit has to start throwing some of these guys out.  It's leading to way too many runs.

The Pirates need to improve in many areas to start competing and they can start here.  It's nice for him to hit a few ninth inning homers to help his confidence; now he needs to help his confidence behind the plate by throwing out a few base runners.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bucs win a series in Miller Park

Wow.  First time in four seasons a series win in Milwaukee. Back to back exciting games.  I will write a bigger post tomorrow but my thoughts on today are:

-Maholm- struggled in the first but overall rebounded to give them a solid outing.  If our starters can keep getting into the seventh the way Karstens and Maholm did, then this team has a chance to compete most nights.  A big IF though.

-Good to see Andy show a little pop.  He's swinging a real hot bat and should stay in the 2 hole all year.

-Cutch had a great game- 4 hits and 2 HR.  We will see more of this the rest of the year.

-Good work by the bullpen the last 2 nights, even though Lopez (yesterday) gave up the Fielder bomb and Dotel blew the save today.  Those things will happen.

-How does Aki not knock down the McGhee grounder in the 10th.  He was positioned perfectly.

- Another lousy strike zone by a home plate umpire against the Bucs.  it's getting to be a trend.  If Dotel gets the strike 3 call on Mcghee then the game is over.  Laroche got punched out on a much worse pitch.  It's been happening all season.  Pitchers haven't been getting calls and Pirates hitters are getting the same pitches called.

- Russell not bunting Crosby in the 14th?  Don't agree with that but they won the game.

-Not to defend Doumit, but right when his bat is coming around, JR gives him a day off?  I don't want to hear about a day game after a night game, because he always catches Doumit in those situations.

To hear our post game recap.  Today featuring Randy Gore, click HERE

It's Bob Nutting's Turn

Even after last night's great win, the Pirates still need to make changes.  Most notably with manager John Russell.  He has to go.  Period.

Zach Duke has publicly criticized Russell and there have been rumblings that several players have also said they won't go out of the their way to please Russell.

Fact is, he doesn't have the respect of the players, if he ever had it.

Another fact is that John Russell has nothing to worry about.  His job is not at all in jeopardy.  Why, you ask?  Two words- Bob Nutting.

If he would fire Mr. Mumbles, the penny pinching Nutting would have to pay him and a new manager.  No way that would happen.  Nutting refuses to add to payroll until the ballpark packs and the team gets better.  He has no intention of doing so, because those are two things he knows will never happen.

I'm on record still of saying I have no problem with tearing the team apart and starting over.  I also have no problem with having the lowest payroll in the league this season.  This team wasn't going to win anyways.  I have a huge problem with Nutting keep stating that he will add payroll when the team gets good and when the fans show up.  Quit treating Pirates fans like fools Mr. Nutting.  They can only take so much of your BS.  If you want to continue to  ruin this once proud franchise, could you at least do it without being seen or heard.

So, where are we with this team.  Nutting is and always will be the owner.  He has three yes men that work for him in Frank Coonely, Neil Huntington and John Russell.  They, just like Nutting are going to be here for a while.  Enjoy.

I always enjoy when people email me some of their opinions and here is some from Bill Gorby- a very longtime and knowledgeable Pirates fan.  Feel free to email me your thoughts as well.  My email is somewhere on this page,

Bill's thoughts on Bob Nutting:

Bob Nutting has stated that he'll increase payroll only when the Pirates become competitive. He has made no public statement to the media or Pirate fans that he'll increase payroll under any other circumstances. In fact, it remains a wide-open issue as to what criteria he'll use to determine if he will ever spend more than the minimum to field a team.
Given the nature of such an "interpretable" promise we can expect nothing from this man. Here's why.
1. It is entirely up to him to decide when and if he's going to increase payroll --- which leaves Pirate "success" completely in question.
2. If he doesn't spend the money to make the Pirate team competitive in the first place, then he doesn't ever need to increase payroll because (duh) they WILL NEVER BE COMPETITIVE.
3.. This "double-speak" means he never has to break his promise to increase payroll, and at the same time he can continue to suck on the teats of other teams salary cap and revenue sharing money and put those proceeds in his pocket.
Lord knows what he does with the money. He "says" he puts it into scouting and the minor league system, but nobody really knows because his books are sealed. Moreover, it is certainly in his best interest to use the MLB "community money" to pay down the debts that he inherited while at the same time increasing the resale value of the the franchise.
And who really knows, some money could be going into Seven Springs. We really have no checks and balances to view.
The man has MLB and the media completely fooled while at the same time he snickers in his office chair about the idiots who don't understand his true intentions.
P.S. MLB really needs to investigate this man's true intentions and force him to get out of the ownership group. That will never happen because of the incompetent leadership of one Bud Selig and MLB execs.

Bill's thoughts on John Russell's job:

To answer your post about firing JR I don't believe that will ever happen.
He won't be fired until after this pathetic embarrassing season is over. Why would el-cheapo Nuthing fire him and have to replace him while the season is still going on? That means he would still have to pay him and a new manager. He'll wait til September or October when he won't have to pay him anymore and then (possibly) fire him.
As far as Opie, he probably won't go at all. After all, he and Coondog head the best management team in all of professional sports---remember? Those words came right out of Nuthings mouth.

I will include more of Bill's or anyone else's thought in another post.

Streak Over

Huge Win.  That was a fun one to watch.  Great outing by Karstens.  I wouldn't have counted on that one.  As much as I hate to say it.  Big Blast by Doumit  (He still Sucks though).

I will have more after tomorrows game.  In the mean time, listen to our postgame report by clicking HERE

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Time to go back to a Traditional Batting Order

It was kind of fun bashing John Russell the other day so let's do it again. (For everyone that sent emails or text complementing me on the post- Thank You)

What is with the gimmack batting order? I'm tired of this already also.  Let's look at the numbers first. After today's game, the Pirates have scored in exactly seven of their last 60 innings. NOT GOOD.
They have scored three runs or less in ten of their 18 games, and the best one is......... Wait for it.......... They have been outscored 130-62 so far in 18 games.  That's a run differential of -68.  Again, NOT GOOD.

Now, most of the run differential can be attributed to the pitching staff (I will get to them tomorrow), but alot of it is on the offense just as well.

Problem 1- Why is Andrew McCutchen batting second.  I will tell you why, because John Russell wants to make things appear like he is managing this team.  It makes no sense.  By batting Cutch second, you take his aggressiveness away from him.  He's never gonna see a fastball to hit batting second.

Why? Because by batting Cutch second, JR has taken the guessing game away from the other manager.  With a guy on, are they ever going to bunt or hit and run with their best hitter?  Of course they aren't and the other manager knows that.  Therefore, he sees breaking ball after breaking ball with runners on until he gets to a three ball count.  Batting Cutch leadoff, he is naturally going to see more fastballs to hit because the other pitcher doesn't want to walk him, allowing him to steal a base or two.

Cutch's numbers are a little down, but he has had to work hard for what he's gotten so far.  Move him back to the leadoff spot and the numbers will begin to rise again.  Aki Iwamura is a more than capable two-hole hitter.  He can handle the bat.  He is better suited to bat second anyways.  They could take advantage of that ability to lay down bunts and hit and run with him.  I have no idea what the thought process going into batting Aki leadoff and Cutch second.

I don't want to hear about that by batting the pitcher eighth and Ronny Cedeno ninth, Cutch will drive in more runs.  Granted the math supports batting the pitcher eighth if you have an Albert Puljos, Ryan Braun or Ryan Howard.  Last time I checked, the Pirates didn't.

The numbers suggest it isn't working.  Through 18 games, the eighth spot (pitcher) in the order has stranded 32 base runners- nearly 2 a game.  More often than not, lateley; they've come up with men on and two out. In contrast, the 9-1-2 combo that Russell figured would drive in so many more runs have driven in a total of 16 runs- or less than 1 per game and only have 3 RBI's combined in the last 12 games. 

It worked for a short time early, with Ronny Cedeno benefiting the most batting in the ninth spot.  Now that Cedeno has cooled off drastically, combined with Cutch not getting good pitches to hit; it's time to realize that the experiment is flat out not working.

I could also go on about having Ryan Doumit in an RBI spot that he's not capable of producing in, but there isn't many other options for Russell there so i won't go on a rant about that. This apparantly is JR's form of managing, putting people in situations that they are doomed to fail in. 

Put Cutch back in the leadoff spot and Aki in the two hole.  Bat the pitcher ninth.  Andy Laroche will likely benefit from it as well.  Just another reason that John Russell has to go and has to go soon.  Again, Neil Huntington.  Make a change and make it soon

Today's moves

The Pirates needed to make some roster moves because their bullpen is taxed and who knows how long Charlie Morton will last.  Chris Jakubauskas was placed on the 15 day DL and Brian Burres was called up from Indianapolis.

Brian Bass was called up and Danirl McCutchen was sent down to Indianapolis.  Bass wasn't on the 40 man, so they DFA'd Brandon Jones to clear room for Bass.

Wonder if we will do anything offensively today?  We've only scored in 4 of our last 49 innings. 

I will have a column about the offense, or maybe the pitching up after the game likely.  Depends on which pisses me off more today.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Bucs lose 4-3 in Opener of Road trip

10 day road trip, could get ugly.  We played better today.  Paul Maholm deserved a much better fate.  Poor Delwyn Young.  The guy can't play third base, but I feel bad for him.  He is thrown in on the fly and expected to do well.

Here's a thought.  Instead of bringing up Diaz for a couple games, Why not as guy like Neil Walker for a week?  That would make too much sense.  We likely win today though if he's at third and not DY.

How in the hell could JR pitch to Carlos Lee?  I'm still upset over that one.

Didn't catch the game, then you can listen to my postgame report by clicking HERE

Time to Show Good 'Ol JR The Door

John Russell has to go.  That's the nicest way I can say it.  Now it's easy to blame the manager and I often don't take this route, but I have had it with this guy.  Not only am I tired of looking at his lazy ass, with his arms crossed in the dugout -looking like he is about to fall asleep; but I'm tired of his actions (or lack there of) during the games.

Let's just look at the last three games.  Wednesday night against Milwaukee.  The Brewers are getting call after call off the plate, leading to13 Bucco strikeouts.  Hitting coach Don Long began to chirp at the umpires while JR was dosing off in the corner.  Why doesn't Russell raise his voice?  I'm not asking for temper tantrums like Earl Weaver or Lou Pinella, I'm asking him to stick up for his players.  God forbid he ever raise his voice, maybe teams won't get calls a foot off the plate.  Why would he do that though?  He's only the damn manager.

Then Thursday the Bucs get pasted 20-0.  Did one Brewer get knocked down? No, of course not. Why send a message? We only play them 15 more times. You can bet Llyod McClendon wouldn't have let his team get run over without sending a message.  What does that say to the ballclub?  That their manager is a gutless, quitter.

Even better, Mr. Mumbles as I like to call him could have sent a message in his press conference, but did he raise his voice or call out his team?  Of course not.  Instead he let everyone know that 20-0 games happen sometimes.  Really, JR?  The last time I checked, they've only happened like five times in the last 115 years.

You can check out Mr. Mumbles feeble attempt at explaining a 20-0 loss by clicking HERE.

Then tonight, not as bad , but how does he not walk Carlos Lee with first base open?  They guy has only killed the Pirates for the last three seasons.  Granted he's struggling right now, but I about jumped out of my seat when they pitched to him.  That likely ended up costing this team a win.

Pirates fans deserve better than this guy.  Granted nobody wants the job with an owner that won't spend money, but the guy is a lousy manager.  How many times in three years have his in-game decisions helped the team win a game?  Likely, you can count them on one hand. 

I have always believed a team takes on the personality of it's manager.  There are some teams who's players will run through a wall for their manager.  This team has taken on a lazy personna and it starts with Russell.  You can bet they would  be playing alot harder for a guy like McClendon.  He wasn't a bad manager, he just had crap for players.  Give him this group and I guarentee they would be much better.

I'm not saying fire Russell and hire McClendon back though.  I have a guy in mind that would be a good fit here and that's Phil Garner.  They need a guy to come in and say "This isn't the way we play here." They need a guy to light a fire under this team and challenge them until they succeed,  Scrap Iron is that guy for me.  He's gotten teams to the playoffs and took the Astros to the World Series.  Even as a part time fix, a guy like Garner would have this team in much better shape than a guy like JR.

Neil Huntington, make a move and make it soon.  I don't think I can take this guy any longer.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

embarassing loss

Today, as a matter of fact the last 3 games we very embarassing to be a Bucco fan. Outscored 36-1.  Outhit 46-18.  The Brewers had more extra base hits than we had hits.  I will discuss the pitching sometime tonight or tomorrow but for anyone that didn't watch that game, click HERE to listen to my postgame report.

Two Different Teams-Two Different Approaches

So far through 14 games, the Buccos have been two totally different ballclubs.  For seven games, this young team has battled hard for nine innings, making every pitch and every at bat matter.  They won all seven of those games.

For seven other games, they have been a ballclub who has fallen behind early and coasted threw at bats and didn't throw strikes and didn't do the little things necessary to win.  Consequently they got the crap kicked out of them in all seven of those games.

In the Pirates seven wins, they've had to scratch and claw.  They've outscored the opposition 41-25 in those seven games.  All but two have been one or two run games.  Their largest margin of victory was by six on opening day.

In the Bucs seven losses, they have been outscored 65-13.  Their closest loss was by six runs on two different occassions.  Now, I feel that there really is no difference between losing 10-2 and 1-0- a loss is a loss, but what's the reason these guys haven't been able to even compete in those seven losses?

Is it starting pitching?  Absolutely.  I feel bad for the position players that seem to know they only have a chance to win two out of every five days out.  The starters not named Zach Duke and Paul Maholm have got to start giving this team quality innings and quality starts.  The pitching is the obvious answer and that's not what has my attention.

Is it the manager?  Sure blame JR.  I'm getting tired of looking at him, but that's not the main problem either.

You can even blame Ryan Doumit for leaving a small village on the base paths through 14 games.

The problem is the two totally differnt approaches these young guys take at the plate.  In seven wins, from the first inning on, 1-9 in the lineup, these guys work deep in the count.  The approach at the plate has been to see alot off pitches, foul off close pitches and take advantage of pitchers mistakes.  Hitting coach Don Long has made that point to this team.  They are hitting over .300 with runners in scoring position in the seven wins, almost all the hits coming with two strikes.

One example is the ninth innings on Friday and Saturday in wins vs the Reds. Take Lastings Milledge for example.  Both days he had the chance to be the hero.  It would be understandable for a young guy to get anxious and chase bad pitches in both situations.  Friday, Milledge fell behind 0-2 and managed to work the count full, fouling off four, two-strike pitches before delivering the game winning single.  Saturday, he did it again, falling behind in the count and managed a long at-bat before working a walk to tie the game.  We need to see at bats like this all the time from everyone on this team.

A bad trend in the wins have been to have success the first time through the order, struggle in innings 3-8 and then win it in the ninth.  The Pirates have got to start having good at bats for all nine innings.

In the losses, the approach is very different.  Maybe these guys are pressing too much.  Instead of discipline and quality at bats, we instead see alot of contact early in the count- which isn't a bad thing if your swinging at good pitches and hitting the ball hard, which the Pirates aren't.  In the losses we also see more guys chasing out of the zone.  The strikeout rate is alarming early in the season.

When they get guys on base, they are unable to get hits with guys on base.  Again, the approach is way different.  Another problem is having to bat Doumit behind Garrett Jones. Jones is never going to see a good pitch to hit until they get someone capable to hit behind him.  If they could get away with batting Doumit 10th then they should.

The Bucs have scored exactly one run since the fifth inning on Sunday.  That's 22 innings of baseball with one run.  No way they should be getting dominated by the likes of Dave Bush.  The approach at the plate has to change and change for the better and on a more consistent basis.

Today could be the last day of the season the Bucs are at or above the .500 mark, so enjoy.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

More walk off magic

Not gonna write much until tomorrow but another big win and some great at bats in the ninth off a good closer.  Gotta like Milledge first of all.  Real easy for a young guy to chase with the bases loaded and the game on the line and the legend also working out of an 0-2 count to win it.

McCutchen didn't pitch bad and unlike last night the bullpen was outstanding.  After the 5th inning run allowed by Carrasco, they retired 13 straight.  Especially great job by Evan meek.

take a listen to my Lexycast Post game Report by clicking HERE

Exciting Walk-Off Win- Can The Bucs Build Off It?

Big win for the Bucs last night. If you missed any of it, you can hear my Lexycast by clicking HERE.

Lastings Milledge came through with the walk-off single and he deserves a ton of credit, but a ton of credit also needs to go to Andrew McCutchen.  After his two-out single to left, Cutch's steal of second turned out to be the big play of the game.

Now several people have stolen 50 or 60 bases, but it takes a special type of player to steal that bag, in that situation, when everyone in the ballpark and everyone in both dugouts know you are running.  Not only that, he stole it easy.

After the steal, Milledge came through with a very good at bat.  He's probably the only Bucco I would want up in that situation.  He proceeded to spoil four, two-strike pitches, before working the count full and then delivering the walk-off single up the middle for the Bucco win.

Zach Duke gave the team another tremendous start, I have since backed off my criticism of him.  He looks great and the ball just seems to be coming out of his hand much better.  That's the big thing I noticed last night.  His delivery and arm slot is real consistent right now.

If Duke keeps it up, he very well could become the ace the Pirates desperately need.  His trade value is increasing by the start. Usually, this would excite me, but with a team lacking effective starting pitching and a team with the lowest payroll in the majors; could this be a time to lock Duke up long term?

The bullpen was horrific last night, unable to find the strike zone.  Joel Hanrahan looked good, with his fastball in the 95-98 mph range, but even he walked a batter.  Javy Lopez- 2 walks without throwing a strike and Brenden Donally also walked in a run. Although, Angel Hernandez didn't do these guys any favors.  He's the worst ump in the league, with the most inconsistent strike zone.

Octavio Dotel blew his first save after giving up a leadoff triple on a fastball right down the middle, but give him some credit to get out with the game tied 3-3.

Now with the team at 5-5, coming off a big win at home; it's time they build off that and string together a few in a row.

-Ross Ohlendoff was placed on the 15 day DL, retroactive to April 12th.  He will come off on April 27th.  Daniel McCutchen was called back up to take Ohlendorf's spot tonight.  I think he will fare better than he did in his first start in Arizona.

-Andy Laroche is not in tonight's lineup as he left last nigh'ts game in the second inning with back spasms.  He was replaced by Bobby Crosby last night. Delwyn Young gets the start at third tonight.

-Pedro Alvarez hit his fourth homer of the season last night for Indy (made two errors though). Jose Tabata has an eight-game hit streak and is hitting .351. For all you Ryan Doumit haters, Tony Sanchez is hitting over .370 at Bradenton.  I will start doing my minor league reports again sometime this week.

-Pirates are ranked 17th in hitting with a .249 team avg.  They have averaged 4.3 runs per game and their team OPS is .716

- They rank 30th in pitching with a team ERA of 6.93.  Opponents are hitting .302 off them.  That's a little misleading though.  If you take the poor outings of Hyden Penn, Charlie Morton, Brian Burres and McCutchen away, they have a team ERA of 4.01.  Not too bad of a job.  Now the other guys have to start pitching better.

-Penn cleared waivers and was outrighted to AAA Indy.

-I sit next to all the scouts at the games and lucky me, there was Dave Littlefield, scouting for the Cubs.  For his sake I hope he's better at that job than his last.

-  I should have something up for tomorrow as well.  Until then, LET"S GO BUCS.  You can listen to my Lexycast of tonight's game, which should be up 15-20 minutes after the last pitch.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly of Week 1

Well, it took seven games to get below .500, if you took the over, well then you likely are a winner.  I haven't gotten around to writing much this week because I have been deathly ill (Doctor was unable to determine if the cause of the sickness was due the the Pirates pitching lately, but maybe I need a second opinion).

So after a week, I still have a decent buzz about this team.  Like everyone else, its not nearly the buzz after a 2-0 start, but unlike everyone else, I didn't expect them to win the World Series afer two games.  Good news is the Reds come to town so maybe they can win two out of three at home (a little cheap shot at my friend Michael Hammons Big Red machine)

Well let's get into discussing.

- Zach Duke's two starts have been somewhat impressive.  I know I'm hard on the guy, but this is the way he should be expected to pitch pretty much everytime out.  Let's hope Duke has a third solid start on Friday.  So far Duke is 2-0 with a 3.00 era in 12.0 ip.  I will take that.

- All other starters have combined for a 12.31 era

- Daniel Mccutchen's fourth inning in which the D'backs scored a whopping 13 runs. (not all were charged to McCutchen but 9 overall were)

- Charlie Morton's first 2 innings on Friday in which the first 5 outs came by strike out

-Charlie Morton's third and fourth innings where he continued to fall behind in the count and looked likie a different pitcher.

- Ryan Doumit calling a lousy game for Morton.  If Adam Laroche said the D'Backs knew what was coming befor Doumit even called it, after the first time threw the order, that's not a good sign of a catcher being able to adjust when calling a game at the MLB level.

-Octavio Dotel and most of the guys in the bullpen pounded the zone for the most part and showed they can get people out.

-Hayden Penn was lousy in three appearences.  The Dodgers first six batters got hits off penn in his Bucco debut.

- Have I mentioned Hayden Penn?

- Garrett Jones three homers in his first five at bats.

- Jones has had only 1 hit the last five games

- There is no one to protect Jones.  Jones and Ryan Doumit are a combined 1 for their last 27

- Not Ryan Doumit

-Ryan Doumit

- Wait for it........ Wait for it....... Did you guess Ryan Doumit?

-The Pirates have been agressive on the basepaths, going a perfect 8 for 8 swiping bags so far

-When your down 10 runs in half of your games, you can't utilize your speed and run much

-Ryan Doumit....... I'm sorry, i couldn't resist

- Aki Iwumura and Ronny Cedeno are off to surprising good starts

-Those are the only two off to good starts.

-The next time someone gets a big hit with guys on base will be the first since Ryan Church's pinch hit opening day double.  Someone's gotta pick it up.

- I've been happy so far with both Jeff Clement and Lastings Milledge.  The numbers will improve for both.  It's also encoraging to see the way Milledge is hustling all the time.  A sign of a guy taking things like it's his last opportunity.

- I like batting Milledge in the three hole, but he also must show some power.  He has had some bad luck early. scorching some balls right at people. However, if you bat Milledge third, Somehow, somewhere you have to protect Jones in the lineup or he won't see another good pitch to hit all season.

- I can't resist.  Ryan Doumit.  He just isn't capable of batting in a run producing spot. With the way Cedeno and Aki have gotten on base early, batting the pitcher #8 isn't that terrible, but Doumit shouldn't be hitting above seventh.  He's lousy (Just watch, after I ripped him to death, he will have a huge game tonight)

- It's only been seven games.  We've got a lot of Bucco baseball to look forward to. (Technically, depending on your perspective, that last statement could also qualify as THE BAD & THE UGLY for you as well)

Take care and I will have something tomoorow as well.  If you haven't yet, go to and follow our Pirates broadcat for the year.

Bucs drop Opener of Series

I promise I will write something tomorrow.  I have been deathly sick for like 3 days now.  Ugly one tonight.  If you didnt watch go ahead and listen to our postgame report.  I will write a recap tomorrow

Click  HERE to listen

Saturday, April 10, 2010

listen to game recap

I will post something tomorrow before the game, but in the meantime.  Check out my post game broadcast at

Friday, April 9, 2010

Opening Series Thoughts

I attended two of the three opening games, opening day and Thursday afternoon's beatdown and I left with a good feeling overall.  In the first two games, the crowds were tremendous and the team competed hard, which is all we can really ask for at this point in the Neil Huntington rebuild.

I also left with a positive feeling about where things could be headed with this franchise; because in my mind, this 2010 team is really NH's team for the first time since he took the job.  It's taken three seasons, but the look of this year's team is how he wanted to shape the roster.  So now he can start to be held accountable as well.

As far as the games went, Bucco fans should be happy.  The opener was tremendous and they battled and won an extra inning game on Wednesday.  They would have lost that game last season without a doubt.  I said all along while everyone was ripping the bullpen acquisitions that I liked the ne look bullpen and they pitched extremely well in the first series (Hayden Penn's outing on Wednesday excluded).  With last years bullpen, the Bucs are likely 1-2 instead of 2-1.  I think they will amount to a few more wins throughout the season.

As for yesterday, for those of you that jumped on the band wagon after two games, don't hop off after one bad loss.  Remember that they are a young team and there are going to be days like yesterday afternoon. The defense was bad, the bats weren't there and then there was the Hayden Penn fiasco.

The thing about being young is there will be inconsistent play throughout the season. Get used to it.  One big area I would like to see improvement in, and it can start tonight, is the play away from PNC Park.  The Bucs finished with a league worst 22-58 road record in 2009.  That can't be nearly as bad in 2010. 

With a six game road trip beginning tonight in Arizona (3 at D'Backs, 3 at Giants), to keep whatever positive energy people have had about the team for the first couple days of the season, they need to win atleast three or four ballgames.  They do have to face Dan Haren tomorrow, but luck out and miss Tim Lincecum in San Francisco.  To improve at all, these guys must be able to win consistently on the road.

- Brandon Moss cleared waivers and reported to AAA Indy.

-Ramon Vasquez was released.  The Pirates will eat his $2mil salary.

- Pedro Alvarez homered in his first AAA game.

-Delwynn Young reached base all four times at bat in his first start of the season yesterday with two walks and two doubles.  The only bright spot of the game.

-The Laroche Brothers meet as opponents tonight with Adam being the D'Backs first baseman.  Here is a shocker, Adam is off to an 0-12 start for the D'Backs.  Bucco fans know that all too well.

-Tonight it's Charlie Morton, who I expect big things from vs. Rodrigo Lopez, a winnable game.

You can listen to a recap of yesterday's game at .  Sign up to follow the Pirates and you will get our broadcasts sent to you all season. Click On that link to hear yesterday's recap.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Opening Day Success

Well I'm getting to this much later than I wanted to but what an opening day.  The Buccos performence was great in an 11-5 victory over the Dodgers, but among the longballs and solid effort from Zach Duke and the backend of the bullpen the main thing I took away from this one was the crowd.

 I attend 20-30 games a season, pretty much every season and at no time in the last 10-15 seasons, have I felt the energy at PNC Park that I did yesterday afternoon.  It made you happy to be a Pirates fan for a change.  I am often very critical of Pirates fans for their constant complaining and whining and general lack of baseball knowledge, but that wasn't the case yesterday afternoon.

It wasn't just due to it being opening day either.  There was a general positive energy through out the fourth largest crowd in PNC Park history.  The only sad part is that the energy and the size of the crowds will start to fade away, likely beginning with tomorrow night's game against the Dodgers.

As for the game, atleast for one day, we got a glimpse of what kind of potential talent this team could have if a ton of what if's come true.  While they will still finish with an 18th consecutive losing record, you could see that just maybe this team could turn the corner one day.

Offensively, they did it all.  Three bombs, including no doubters from Garrett Jones and Ryan Doumit. They utilized their speed, with Andrew McCutchen and Ronny Cedeno swiping bags.  They got timely hitting for a change when Ryan Church hit a two out pinch hit double that cleared the bases.  Lastings Milledge doubled and Jeff Clement reached base three times as well. Maybe as good as a game they may have offensively as a team all season.

They played solid defense as well. Clement played a solid game at first base in his first major league game there.  Milledge made a nice running catch in left and overall, the team made all the plays they should make.

On the hill,  Duke gave the team a decent start and the bullpen pitched well, especially the last 2 1/3 innings.  Brenden Donally got out of a jam with a couple of strikeouts and Octavio Dotel threw the ball extremely well.

Even manager John Russell had an impact.  Atleast for one day, he pushed all the right buttons.  Lifting Duke after five innings with the bases loaded was probably the call of the game.  He wanted to break the game open and he trusted his bullpen.  Even batting the pitcher eighth paid off for a day.  Would Ronny Cedeno have come through the way Ryan Church did?  Probably not.  I still don't like McCutchen hitting second, but it didn't have an impact yesterday.  In fact, it seemed to work out the way JR envisioned it.  Cedeno reached base a couple times and Cutch got at bats with men on base.

So be happy Bucco fans, your team looked great yesterday.  Don't over react though and raise expectations.  It is what it is- one win, that's it, but hey first place for a day, Right?

To hear Randy Gore and my new project covering the Pirates, go to and sign up to follow the Pirates.  You will recieve daily game updates, commentaries, news stories etc. from us.  Here is a taste.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Opening Day Roster is Set

The final roster moves have been made before today's 2pm deadline to finalize the opening day roster.  Hayden Penn and John Raynor get the final two roster spots, while Ramon Vasquez  was DFA'd and Steve Pearce sent to AAA.

The Bucs have 10 days to either trade or release Vasquez, so it's almost certain they will release him and eat his salary of 2 million for this season.

Here is what the opening day roster will look like

Starters: Zach Duke, Ross Ohlendorf, Paul Maholm, Charlie Morton, Daniel McCutchen.
Relievers: Octavio Dotel, Brendan Donnelly, Evan Meek, Javier Lopez, D.J.Carrasco, Jack Taschner, Penn.
Catchers: Ryan Doumit, Jason Jaramillo.
Infielders: Jeff Clement, Aki Iwamura, Ronny Cedeno, Andy LaRoche, Bobby Crosby, Delwyn Young.
Outfielders: Lastings Milledge, Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones, Ryan Church, Raynor.

Carrasco and Taschner had to also be added to the 40-man roster.  The release of Vasquez and Jose Ascaino to the 60-day DL, cleared spots for them.

Spring Notes:  Bucs finished  with an MLB worst 7-21 spring record.

Batting:  McCutchen led the team hitting .351, followed by Milledge at .308.
              Young led the team with 6Hr & 18 RBI's

Pitching: Carrasco led the team with a 2.25 ERA and a .184 opponents batting average against (my prediction is that he will lead all relievers in innings pitched for the second straight season.  He will be forced to pitch alot.)
              Other ERA's- Maholm 4.30 (best among starters), Duke 6.27 and Ohlendorf  9.61.

As you know, I place no stock in spring numbers, but I figured I'd throw that in for those who do.

The time for optimism is nearly over, opening day is tomorrow. The road to losing season #18 begins.  I will be in attendence.  I'm working on a new Bucco project for this season.  I will give details later

Follow me on Twitter

There have been times where I have wanted to post stuff and either haven't had the time or haven't been by the computer, so I'm trying out the twitter thing. 

You can follow my blog on twitter as well  @opershutdown

We will see if it goes anywhere