Posts Tagged ‘Pittsburgh Pirates’

Pirates Guaranteed First Over-.500 Record At Break Since 1992

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The Jolly Roger has broken out.  For the first time since 1992, the Pittsburgh Pirates are assured of having a winning record heading into the All-Star Break.  Ironically, the last time the Pirates compiled a winning season was the same year, 1992.  Here we stand in 2011 watching an assembly of young talent get better each week.

Clint Hurdle has done a great job managing a group of what is primarily, youngsters with gold “P’s” on their hats.  Having Joel Hanrahan named to the All-Star team is great, and he has earned the right with his perfect save conversion (26 saves in 26 chances) record in 2011.

Kevin Correia belongs too.  The former Padres retread has been exceptional when the baseball world had him marked down and nobody was buying.  Correia is at the top of the NL Leaders in wins.  He belongs.

Any doubt that Andrew McCutchen belongs?  Cutch has been swinging a mean stick (batting .407 in July) since his recent passing over and he homered again on Friday to hammer home his point.  An argument can be made that with 57 RBI that Neil Walker could have been playing in the showcase.

The unique factor that seems to drive the Pirates is that someone new is stepping up to take a turn being the hero.  Mike McKenry and Alex Presley are the two newest Pirates to don the cape and be huge in recent Pirate wins.

The enthusiasm at PNC has been spectacular all season and there are no signs of the rush screeching now.  This team is playing well enough to compete for a playoff spot.

Pirates Enter June Respectably

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What has only happened a handful of times in the past 20 years seems to be breathing again.  It is almost June and the Pittsburgh Pirates are flirting with .500.  The Pirates have one of the worst streaks in all of sports, in fact it is the worst.  Eighteen consecutive seasons with more losses than wins come September.  Kevin McClatchy, who was the majority owner for many of those years, and Dave Littlefield, who was McClatchy’s pon in dumping payroll, caused the Pirates to be the punch line of many jokes over the past couple of decades.  This year, the team is not laughing.

The Yankee fans, always known for running their mouths about “homegrown talent“, have done little with their farm system over the past ten years.  Everyone knows that the mighty Yankees can buy things they need whenever they need them.  Unfortunately, Pittsburgh can’t do that.  Yep, it is a small market team and the best shot they have is to develop players through a good farm system.  That farm system is starting to show effective on the big team.

Free agency is non-existent in Pittsburgh unless they are selling.  The Pirates look like a pack of geniuses for picking up Kevin Correia (pictured, top) for a 12-pack of balls and some fireworks.  Correia has been among the leaders in the NL in wins, WHIP, and ERA.  The other big acquisition was probably manager Clint Hurdle.  Hurdle had success in Colorado and was notorious for a couple of blistering months where his team was unbeatable.

Look at what has come from the farm system and how they are doing.  Andrew McCutchen is not where he should be as far as batting average, but he is piling up extra-base hits at key moments.  He is also one of, if not the best, defensive outfielders in the game today.  Neil Walker is showing no signs of a sophomore slump.  Jose Tabata is making strides in the right direction.  Paul Maholm has had a few hard luck losses but has a stellar ERA and all of his starts but one have been quality starts.  Evan Meek is rested and ready.  There are more.  Pedro Alvarez is the question mark of the group.  Alvarez, known for his slow starts, can really give the Pirates a lift if he can come off of the DL swinging a hot bat.  Evan Ryan Doumit is contributing with game-winning grand slams.

All of those guys came from a farm system striving to serve a purpose instead of agricultural turnover.  A farmer raises a pig and sells it.  These pigs are staying in the pen for a few more years.

The Top-10 Free Agents Being Sought By The Pittsburgh Pirates

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The Pittsburgh Pirates front office has been busy since the season ended in hopes of fielding a more competitive team.  Paneech.com was lucky enough to catch a few leaks about who could be a new Buc by opening day.  It is a pretty strategic list, and man, if Neal Huntington could nab a couple of these guys, the sky is the limit.  Without further ado, here is the list of free agents that the Pittsburgh Pirates are most actively pursuing. 

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Christopher Columbus

Who better to “start” than Christopher Columbus.  He started a new country, the Pirates should definitely be able to get six quality innings from this guy.  Reach out to the Italians in Pittsburgh and sign one.  Columbus has great location and mixes his three pitches (Nina, Pinta, Santa Maria) with great control.

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Charlie Brown

Charlie Brown has pitched through very adverse conditions throughout his career.  By adding Christopher Columbus and Brown, the rotation is pretty well set with Paul Maholm, Ross Ohlendorf, and Kevin CorreiaScott Olsen will probably hurt himself by the time Spring Training starts.  Brown brings a declining 12.26 ERA to the table, but much of that can be blamed on shoddy fielding behind him.  Lastings Milledge will make Chuck feel right at home, perfect fit!

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Charlie Sheen

Charlie Sheen is a mess these days, but so are the Pirates!  Sheen could help the one-man bullpen that is Evan Meek out with some quality innings.  There are a few good clubs in Pittsburgh that Sheen will fall in love with and when you see the rest of the list, you will appreciate the talent he may get to hang out with.  It will be a new fellowship of Pirates players called the Rum Bucket Tippers that Sheen will captain on great nights out after the games not seen since the likes of Dale Berra!

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Lindsay Lohan

Lindsay Lohan will co-captain the Rum Bucket Tippers fellowship for post-game celebrations.  Lohan, like Sheen, will add great stability to the “pen“.  Coming off of a very successful rehab assignment, Lohan’s stock can only rise.  The “pen” will have great depth (not to be confused with depth perception).  The last two pieces to a successful “pen” and definitely two more fellows to lead the Rum Bucket Tippers fellowship society are:

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Strawberry and Gooden

you guessed it.  Strawberry and Gooden, the Penn and Teller of sports.  One minute they are locked up, but they always seem to escape.  These two can easily round out the Rum Bucket Tippers fellowship of Pirates who want to move in a new direction.  The ”pen” would be loaded with Sheen, Lohan, Strawberry, Gooden, and Evan Meek.

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Ace Frehley

There were concerns when JJ Hardy signed with the Orioles earlier this week that the Pirates big plan fell through.  Frehley is poised to step right in, not only at short, but also the Rum Bucket Tippers fellowship.  Can you imagine him with those 12″ platform silver space boots sliding into second to break up a double play?  By crippling the rest of the shortstops in the league with the silver boots, Frehley could start the All-Star game for the National League by default. 

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Tito Ortiz

Tito Ortiz can add some punch to a light hitting Pirates offense.  Ortiz, no stranger to getting his ass kicked lately, could do what so many other retreads have done, find himself in a Pirates uniform.  The most attractive thing to the front office about Ortiz is that Dana White has offered to pay 75% of his salary just to keep him away from the UFC.

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James Harrison

James Harrison could be the next Bo Jackson by participating in two sports.  The deal is that he gets fined for hitting in one sport, but would get rewarded for it if he joined the Bucs this season.  Can you imagine all of the Steeler fans who would suddenly resurface as Pirates fans?

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Ringo Starr

Ringo Starr was the least talented Beatle.  That would qualify him for an instant contract with the Pirates.  Teach him how to catch, and if that fails maybe RF.  Oh, wait, the Pirates are already doing that with Ryan Doumit.  Oh well, use him as a utility player.  Can you imagine the popularity of Yellow Submarine as the new Pittsburgh Pirates seventh inning stretch song led by Starr?  Wow, the marketing department (do they have one?) better jump on this.

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Simon Cowell (Manager)

Simon Cowell had the managerial job locked up but his negative attitude (above) forced the front office to hire Clint Hurdle.  Cowell, not always popular with the fans, does have an eye for talent and is a winner.  Passing on Cowell to be the new skipper will surely come back to haunt the Pirates.

So there you have it, all of this talent is out there and the Pirates are just lurking in the weeds for the right moment to announce some of their new signees!  Hustle to the box office and order your season tickets before they are gone and be sure to mark August 12th on your calenders.  Not only is it Zambelli Fireworks night, but is also Clint Hurdle bobblehead night.  They were going to use a player, but the front office was unsure about who might still be around, so Hurdle gets the “nod”.

When Does The Garage Sale Start?

They are usually advertised weeks ahead of time, held in the early Summer months, and involve two parties, a buyer and a seller.  I can only be talking about a garage sale Major League Baseball team selling its star players by the deadline to insure a “profit” while rebuilding.  Some of this year’s advertised garage sales are already listed.

The Houston Astros will peddle Roy Oswalt (above) to either the New York Mets or Chicago Cubs by the end of June.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, Oswalt doesn’t get any run support in Houston, but neither does John Santana as a Met.  Same song, different band.  The Astros may also peddle Lance Berkman and possibly, red-hot Hunter Pence.

Pittsburgh is an annual stop on the garage sale circuit.  Unfortunately, all of the stuff in the shed is pretty much useless to families with bigger gardens.  I don’t see a Pirate going anywhere unless Paul Maholm stays hot.  They have no big salaries to dump right now and what a perfect way to lure the fans into thinking they are seriously rebuilding for next season instead of trying to make money.

Cleveland made out the last few years by selling.  They have some players that might be on the move.  Grady Sizemore, hurt and all, is a prime target to go.  Really, Cleveland has nothing to play for so anyone on the field has a “For Sale” sign on their back right now.  The only Indian who should be safe is Carlos Santana (above) who is absolutely destroying the minor leagues as the Indians future catcher.

This may come as a surprise to some, but I see the Seattle Mariners playing yard sale games this year.  The plan was to bring Cliff Lee in, use a decent offense and a solid staff to win the division.  Lee only has three starts and guys Like Rowland-Smith couldn’t hold things up in his abscence.  Cliff Lee will be headed South to either the Angels or Padres by July when the Mariners realize that they can’t get there this season.  Ichiro may get dumped as well, I am sure the Dodgers would love to have him.

Pirates Suffer Worst Loss In History, 20-0

Way back, even before the days that the great Honus Wagner donned a Pirates uniform, someone envisioned baseball in Pittsburgh’s future and started a team.  Despite the fact that Pittsburgh has not had a winning season in 17 years, they managed to sink to yet a new record-low getting clobbered 20-0 by Milwaukee.  The loss was the worst in franchise history.

Gone are the Spring training games that Pittsburgh did all they could to win in hopes of dazzling the locals into buying season tickets.  The flowers are not even really growing in Pennsylvania yet, but the weeds at PNC Park were sprouting in abundance Thursday.

This game was brutal on so many fronts that expose the Pirates as a misled, uncompetitive bunch, yet again.  Management knows what’s up, they only have two bobblehead nights this season.  The Brewers bullied Pirate pitching as they banged out 25 hits.  It’s what Prince Fielder needed to get going as he hit his first long ball of the season.  It allowed Jim Edmonds to believe he still has it.  It turned Randy Wolf’s start into an early Christmas present.  Pirate starter Daniel McCutchen was quoted after the game as saying, “I felt like I was throwing batting practice out there.”  Good luck finding a job as a batting practice pitcher in your future Daniel.

Oddly enough, the pitied Pirate fan can vouch that it could have been 100-0, it is still only one loss and that the Pirates are 7-8 and still on pace to go .500.  The rest of the civilized world can scratch a team out of the playoff hunt now.  The season is over, don’t even think about going .400.

The next question would be, when does the auction start?  You know that players will be moved, probably before the All-Star Break this time.  More problems, the cupboard is just about empty and nobody will be beating the door down for Lastings Milledge or Joel Hanrahan.  Pittsburgh needs to spend a little to get somewhere, the soil can not be turned over so many times and still yield a marketable product.

For now, get your weed whackers out, because PNC Park will be full of them this year.

Spring Training…Amen

With 2010 being an Olympic year, the wait may have seemed a bit bridged.  Unfortunately, the novelty of watching curling is quickly growing old.  Baseball is right around the corner, some teams have their full rosters in camp already, and it couldn’t come any sooner.

Unfortunately, I still have a bitter taste in my mouth dating back to last season.  The New York Yankees finally made good on some of their high-dollar investments and cashed in on baseball’s biggest prize.  The Yankees bullying little teams that cry poverty doesn’t bother me like it used to.

Take Pittsburgh for example.  The Pirates have not won a thing, or even had a winning season in sixteen years, longest run of that style in history.  Management for the Pirates would dupe people into thinking that poor small market teams couldn’t afford to pay their players, hence pinstripes.  I don’t buy it anymore.

Based on profit percentage, Pittsburgh has been in the Top-10 teams for showing a profit about half of their sixteen years of futility.  Beautiful ballpark, horrible management.  Unfortunately, horrible management is eating at the finest steakhouses they can find.  Defy me.  Put a winning product out there.  You want to sell season tickets?  Assemble a team for a whole season.  I would have sued last year if I owned a Pittsburgh Pirates season ticket package.  Trade half the team for money and a few prospects, give me half my money back.

Cleveland seems to be catching on with the “greedy owner” theory.  They dumped everyone… do they even have a catcher in camp?  Big free agent signing of Russell Branyan?  Wow.  Things have changed in Cleveland, at least philosophically.

Fantasy baseball is by far the best of all fantasy sports.  As a baseball fantasy owner, you have daily work to see who is starting, who is benched, and hustling to meet the first-pitch deadlines.  Football is good too, but anyone can wake up hungover on a Sunday morning and see that Tony Gonzalez has a bye, so he should not be in the starting lineup.  Total daily involvement as a fantasy sport has kept baseball afloat through a dark period, now the sport needs to strengthen up (no hidden meaning there).

The itch is here.  Play Ball!

Youngstown State Football Profiles: Luke Matelan

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Growing up about five minutes from Pittsburgh in the suburb of Woodland Hills, Luke Matelan can technically call Saturday’s season-opener against Pittsburgh a home game.  Matelan is excited about the chance to play in front of many acquaintances from his recent past.  I recently had a chance to talk with Matelan about YSU, cereal, and civil engineering.  By the way, pronunciation perfectionists, it is (MATT-a-lawn).

Paneech: How does it feel to play against the college you grew up watching on Saturday?

Matelan:  It’s going to be a good homecoming for me.  I get to play in front of my family and friends who don’t always get to make it up here for the games, I’m pretty excited.

Paneech: Why should Penguin fans buy into the notion that things are better this season?

Matelan: It feels like everyone is more together this year.  Last year we had some adversity and people parted ways, but this year I feel like everyone has each other’s backs and we are here for the long haul no matter what happens.

Paneech: Tell me who else recruited you and why you ultimately chose YSU.

Matelan:  Alot of Division 1-AA schools down South were recruiting me.  I chose YSU because I saw winners, and I want to win, so that’s why I came here.  I think we have alot of guys who can do special things here and we just need to put it all together and good things will happen for us.

Paneech: Tell me about your major and what classes you have had that you may have really liked or disliked.

Matelan: I am majoring in Civil Engineering.  I have about a year and a half of schoolwork to complete the requirements to graduate.  The classes are not really that fun, they are alot of work, so you have to make the best of it and enjoy yourself while you can.  Physics is not my favorite subject, but I just deal with it.

Paneech: Does playing football satisfy your phys ed requirements to graduate?

Matelan:  No (laughs), I don’t think so.  We take classes like golf in the offseason to meet the requirements.

Paneech:  How hard is it to keep up with schoolwork during the season?

Matelan:  It gets pretty tough because I am drained when I come back from practice.  I get some food and then I really buckle down and get right to the studies.  It’s tough sometimes, but it is manageable. 

Paneech:  Who is your favorite NFL player and team?

Matelan:  I’ll have to go with the Steelers because I am a hometown guy and I think James Harrison is fantastic coming off of the edge, that guy’s a beast.

Paneech:  Who is your favorite baseball team?

Matelan: I always liked the Seattle Mariners since I was young.

Paneech:  What happened to rooting for hometown teams?  What about the Pirates?

Matelan: We don’t have enough time to talk about the woes of the hometown baseball team right now.

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One Word Answers

Favorite Cartoon Character:  I don’t watch cartoons.

Ultimate Vacation Destination: Somewhere in the Carribean on a nice beach.

Favorite Board Game: Scattegories

Favorite Soft Drink: I don’t drink pop.  Just water and milk.

Dream Car To Someday Own:  Some big SUV, like an Excursion.

Greatest Musician of All-Time:  Jimmy Buffet

Best Show On Television:  Burn Notice

One of the best answers I have ever got in my one-word answers follows, I had to print the whole answer.

Favorite Cereal and How Much Do You Eat?  Well, let’s start with the bowl size.  You have probably seen a salad bowl that people get when they eat out somewhere that feeds many people.  I just fill one of those bad boys up with Cinnamon Toast Crunch, it’s always a good pleasure.  I like to snack on that when I get a chance.

Tim Lincecum Has A Career-High 15 K’s vs Pirates

Tim Lincecum looked worthy of some Cy Young hype with his effort agains the Pittsurgh Pirates Monday night.  Lincecum pitched a complete gams and struck out 15 Pirates.  The San Francisco Giants won the game 4-2.  The two Pirate runs were unearned gifts courtesy of wishy-washy and heavily traveled shortstop Edgar Renteria

Lincecum only surrendered three hits and made the Pirate lineup look foolish from top to bottom.  No doubt about it, The Freak was cranked up and rolling at the bay!

Granted the fete was somewhat downplayed because it happened against the Karen Carpenter-offense of Pittsburgh.  The Pirates had been shut out their last two starts and Lincecum was not the man they needed to see to get the offensive bus moving forward.

Why The Pittsburgh Pirates Should Be Suspended

It’s like somebody keeps trying to poke the Pittsburgh Pirates mascot logo’s other eye out.  Problem is that it is happening from within – sabotage, conspiracy, and greed.  Meet the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Major League Baseball should impose fines to Pirate management and ownership for not even trying to win.  This team is only 7.5 games out of first place right now, but they keep making moves to eat away at what they are paying out.

About a month ago, Nate McLouth was peddled to Atlanta.  Sure, Charlie Morton might end up being OK someday, I grasp that logic.  McLouth was a proven commodity who they did not want to pay, so they moved him.  Same with Jason Bay, Xavier Nady, Bobby Bonilla, Barry Bonds, Doug Drabek, Nyjer Morgan, and on and on and on… 

This pattern sickens me.  The LaRoche trade yesterday confirms what so many have known for so long.  Pittsburgh’s baseball franchise doesn’t care a lick about trying to win.  They take good players and feed the rest of baseball with the talent they grow.  They (management) then whine about how they cannot afford to pay these guys because attendance is so poor.  I’m sick of that story too.  Keep bodies on the field and you might put bodies in seats.

I am serious, this practice needs to be reviewed by the powers that be.  If I were a season ticket holder for this team, I would be calling my lawyer to find out how to recoup my wasted money.  There was absolutely no intent to win in the past 18 seasons.  Pittsburgh is simply a flea market for the rest of baseball.  Trading your All-Star outfielder (McLouth) before the break when you are 5 games out of first place is ridiculous.

I am all for sending the Pirates management elsewhere.  Let’s trade them to New York or Boston so they can display their Lemonade Tycoon mentality on a bigger stage.  Bring someone in to own and run the team that wants to win.  Sign Roy Halladay, make a damn run.  Do something to prove to people you care about their interests an inkling.

Maybe it’s because of the Penguins and Steelers successes that Pirates management feels they can be lax and just get through another harvest without trying to win.  Yeah, that’s it… the public already feels good about Pittsburgh sports, so screw this Pirates winning thing, lets keep dumping players and the Steelers will open training camp and people can root for a team trying to win again.

Nothing against the players, because they are trying their hardest to still win games.  If Garrett Jones, Ryan Doumit and Andrew McCutchon keep performing the way they have been, they too may get an “E” ticket out to a winner.  Can’t keep guys with stats like that. 

Lastings Milledge sucks.  The Mets found that out firsthand last season.  He couldn’t even crack the lineup in Washington.  Pittsburgh basically gave the Nationals Nyjer Morgan, who has been on fire ever since, for Milledge and Joel Hanrahan.  Mark my words, Milledge will be cut by years end.  Then again, it is Pittsburgh.  They may try to put him in the pen with the two teenage Indians who won the reality show (more cheap contracts).  Maybe next year, my 88 year-old grandmother can hit cleanup when they run out of people.

If you do not want to even attempt winning, sell the team, not all of the players.

Garrett Jones – Making A Name For Himself In Pittsburgh

Garrett Jones has been on a tear lately.  In fact, he was long overdue to contribute as major leaguer.  Those wacky Pirates front office people will make you think they traded Nate McLouth to get Jones into the lineup.  Don’t buy it.  Had that been the case they would have never asked for Lastings Milledge when they peddled Nyjer Morgan off to the Nationals.  Either way, Jones has had an opportunity to get some AB’s with the Pirates and has more than made the most of his chances.

The 6’4″, 245 lb. outfielder turned 28 on June 21.  Kind of old for a rookie prospect.  Through Sunday, Jones was batting .286 with 7 HR and 9 RBI.  What’s impressive about those numbers is that he has only had 56 at-bats so far.  Fourteen games and homer in every-other-game.  Pretty impressive.

Jones was seemingly a lifetime member of the Minnesota Twins farm system.  He racked up over 1,000 minor league games while in that system.  The Pirates could not let Jones sit in Indianapolis too long as he was tearing the cover off of the ball.

Jones’ emergence as a powerhitter has me scared of what the front office must be thinking.  Either they are going to play out his hot run and send him back to Indy, or they are going to trade Milledge or Moss because there isn’t room for him in the outfield.  My prediction would be the earlier.  Jones will be sent back down once he cools off.

The run that Garrett Jones has been on lately has been fun to watch.  His two homers against San Francisco were the only two runs the Pirates needed for a win, and that was in 14 innings.  More impressively, one of the homers was off of Tim Lincecum and the other was a 14th inning game-winning shot.