2006-05-14T00:39:58.550-04:00This offseason, the Bucs made some ugly free agent acquisitions. Burnitz is one step away from Gianthood (and a second step from the baseball graveyard). Randa furtively moved Sanchez to the utility role that management preferred, despite his inability to outproduce the incumbent. Roberto Hernandez wasn't a bad signing, but there were better places to assign that money; Victor Santos got the fifth starter spot due solely to buttercream veteran frosting.
2006-04-20T13:49:55.020-04:00I'm off for a while. I had the equivalent of 22 undergraduate college credits this semester, I start grad school on June 26, and my wife and I just had a beautiful, healthy baby daughter on Easter Sunday.
2005-11-22T00:56:33.126-05:00The Pirates' signing of Jason Bay (four years, $18.25M) was the best possible use of this off-season's newly available funding.
2005-07-24T00:45:25.646-04:00Tonight, the Bucs (41-55) lost to the Rockies (33-61) in a dog day evening affair. But for a few minutes, I remembered what it's like to hold your breath when the pitcher goes into his motion.
2005-07-19T19:32:24.943-04:00It is hard to evaluate the effectiveness of a pitching coach. Some combination of reputation and results keeps certain pitching coaches on the big league payroll for decades.
2005-07-01T00:26:20.053-04:00I was talking APBA with some friends last week, and I learned that my buddy John is replaying the 1975 season; I spent the whole summer between high school and college doing the same. Jerry Reuss was 23-2 in my replay, but the Bucs couldn't get past the Reds in the LCS.
It was the highpoint in the baseball career of one of the finer pitchers of his time, and arguably, one of the greatest achievements in the history of sports.That's from the first search result when you Google a certain former Bucco.
2005-06-08T17:41:52.413-04:00Josh Phelps is again a baseball nomad. I still think he'd look good in black and gold.
2005-06-07T14:13:55.160-04:00The Bucs drafted Andrew McCutchen 11th overall, surprising no one. McCutchen's a toolsy high school outfielder from Florida, 5'11"/175. Lance Broadway would have been nice (think a right-handed Barry Zito), but there were many worse picks than McCutchen.
2005-06-06T09:57:19.866-04:00In the 2005 Topps set, the Pirates have two Topps All-Star Rookies (Gonzalez and Bay) for the first time ever.
2005-06-05T03:17:20.140-04:00I'm back. Sorry about that unexpected hiatus.
I couldn't have said it better myself, except for the "and Dave" part. I still have a good deal of faith in the Pirates' GM. These next two months will be quite telling.[The Wigginton demotion] has Lloyd's fingerprints all over it. I am not a Wigginton fan, but this organization has no friggin' clue. Wigginton should have been played all over the infield to show his versatility in order to be shopped at the deadline. Now (like D'Angelo Jimenez) he has no trade value.One more thought... just how much value does Sanchez have at 3B? Jack Wilson wasn't hitting as well as Wigginton, and has less of a track record. Yet, he continues to chew up outs like a rat through cork. I know Sanchez had a couple of token appearances there, but a more extended audition would have been very helpful. Who knows? Maybe he could field well enough to get another bat in the lineup.
I'm glad the Pirates have played better lately, but they really need to hit bottom again so Lloyd and Dave both get fired, and the pressure builds for McClatchy to step aside. Instead, they'll lose between 85-95 again, and the streak continues with no end in sight.Just one man's opinion. :)
2005-04-26T21:12:31.200-04:00It's a shame that Brian O'Neill's columns are labeled so pejoratively. You have to wonder how many people skip it because of the word "geek" (or even the word "stats").
Mackowiak is not your classic top-of-the-order guy. He strikes out a lot. He walks less than the league average. But he is fast. He has stolen 30 bases in 38 attempts since 2002 and he may have grounded into fewer double plays per at-bat than anyone in the history of baseball.Fascinating stuff. And to think all I've come up with lately is that Brewers owner Mark Attanasio is the brother of Quiz Show and Donnie Brasco scribe Paul Attanasio.
2005-04-26T20:36:41.606-04:00For those who are interested, this was McClendon's lineup card for the game that was rained out earlier this evening:
2005-04-21T09:20:01.730-04:00Thanks to Gene Collier, the 2005 Pirates have a nickname, as apt as 1979's "We Are Family" and 1997's Freak Show.
2005-04-19T09:59:17.116-04:00Thanks to today's coverage, we can play Mad Libs with McClendon for the first time this season:
"The meeting was about perception and reality," McClendon said. "Every talk show in town is going to be saying I should be fired. They are going to be saying our players are [adjective], I'm a [adjective] manager and our team is playing [adverb].Try it. It's fun!
"That's the perception, but the reality is that we're only 13 games into the season. We need to keep playing hard and not worry about all that other [noun] coming from people outside this clubhouse.
"We'll win five or six in a row and all those people who are saying we are [adjective] will be saying it's a miracle."
[T]he Pirates have guys who make outs too much. When the best argument for a hitter begins with how much better his outs are, either find another hitter or another argument.Excellent column in today's P-G by Brian O'Neill. It's great to see this type of analysis in a major newspaper; the revolution may not (yet) be televised, but it's being read at Denny's.
The worst team for productive outs was Boston, which scored the most runs in baseball.
2005-04-18T11:02:32.556-04:00Murmurs from Morgantown have J.R. House taking snaps instead of BP. A once-touted Pirates farmhand returning to the college ranks is not without precedent.
2005-04-14T20:57:00.783-04:00When I saw this article's headline, I thought Chuck Berry might be planning a tour. Retrospect is a strange filter; it's easy to forget that Rocker had an effective season after the SI interview. His walk rate spiked, going from bad to worse, but the wheels didn't come off until the 2001 season. By that time, over a year had passed since the article was published.
2005-04-17T20:16:33.513-04:009:47 PMDeep within the recesses of letsgobucs HQ, within sniffing distance of scenic Neville Island, it's the first ever live bucsblog for yours truly.My job: Watch the game; provide trenchant and/or asinine commentary; keep everybody company while we watch the Bucs try to put one in the W column.Your job: Forgive any typos; comment as you please; refresh frequently.I have a handful of aluminum Irons on ice, a sausage pie en route from Mama Lena's, and an endless supply of useless information at my fingertips.Let's give this a try.10:07 PMTike's batting third again. You have to wonder if this truly is an experiment, and what it's going to take to get Lloyd to end it. Redman went 0-5 last night.This is a man who is lucky to be drawing a MLB paycheck, and he's batting third.10:09 PMJohn Wehner's making his TV debut. Not bad so far; he's in the Bob Walk mold -- insightful but genuine, unpolished.10:13 PMThat's about as hard as Tike Redman's going to hit a soft-tosser like Lawrence. He pasted it to right; Giles turned improperly and still ran it down with little trouble.Redman's the worst #3 hitter for this team since Leyland strictly adhered to lineup slotting, and subbed in Cecil Espy for Van Slyke in the 3 hole.10:18 PMThough it's early, it's good to see that Brian Giles is off to a good start.Players like him seldom age gracefully, and the end tends to come at once, not gradually.To wit:Exhibit AExhibit BExhibit CGiles will always be one of my favorite players, a bright spot on a lot of bad Pirates teams.10:24 PMIf the Pirates' FSN broadcast team ever do musical theater, I'd bet a stack of high society that Dan Potash would get the lead. Jazz hands when recounting an interview? That's a performer.10:28 PMThat 'stache on Craig Wilson is fantastic. I didn't think the Thor coif could be outdone, but he looks like an extra in Boogie Nights. Not that there's a lot of competition, but that's the best Bucco mustache since Tommy Sandt's.10:30 PMWehner's got the chops. I keep forgetting that he's a franchise guy, having worked in various capacities throughout the chain. He knows personnel up and down, which brings rare insight to the booth. I'd imagine that as the team breaks in the farmhands this season, Wehner will have a lot to say. That he already does is a true testament.10:40 PMYears ago, my wife and I were merely dating. I'd flown out to San Francisco, where she was living, and we took a road trip down the coast. We stayed in a hotel literally across the street from Disneyland when I realized that the Bucs were playing in San Diego the next night.I told her I couldn't miss the opportunity to see the Pirates play on the road. She said to forget about Disneyland and we headed to San Diego. How's that for knowing you've got a keeper?Now, every time the Bucs are out west, I think about this game.10:44 PMTwo on, scoreless in the third, one out, and your #3 hitter's coming up. Great news, unless you're batting Tike Redman third.This is inexplicable. Why put an outmaking machine in the heart of your order?10:45 PMRedman walks. McClendon gets a pass, for now.10:46 PMNot deep enough. Two outs.10:47 PMLanny's got his one career grand slam on his note cards, evidently.How about some Mustache Magic for Craig Wilson?10:48 PMAll hail the Mustache Magic! Maybe it's time to take a banner to PNC.That's the Pirates' first lead since the one taken in the bottom of the first on opening day. That one lasted about nine minutes.10:53 PMI've said it many times to my friends,[...]
2005-04-07T15:23:03.303-04:00I will now empty my pockets of Bucco tidbits accumulated during today's opener.
2005-04-04T12:59:07.906-04:00Sorry I've been MIA for a month or so; I'm back in school full-time and it's kind of kicking my butt.
2005-03-03T00:03:46.986-05:00"I throw four pitches and try to throw them all for strikes," he said. "I've got just a few minor things I'm trying to iron out but, for the most part, I'm pretty comfortable with where I'm at."I read that quote and was sure it came from Ryan Vogelsong, who many profile as a starter who "just needs to put it together" to be a mid-rotation regular. Vogelsong hits a little, won't embarrass you on the bases, can put down a bunt with regularity, and fields his position very well. He also has a four-pitch repertoire ideal for a starter.No, it was Bryan Bullington who spoke those words.Bullington, as I lamented recently, was the number one choice in the 2002 amateur draft. McClatchy decided that the Bucs should go the safe route and select a polished college pitcher who would help the team in short order, not gamble on the high school shortstop who was crowned Jeter Redux before he could vote. Rumor was that the shortstop wanted too much money to sign, as he was heavily recruited by Florida State.The Pirates picked Bullington; I felt the mistake was so grave that I downloaded this photo into a folder labeled "ruefulnostalgia". The Pirates offered him a $4,000,000 signing bonus. Bullington sat out the entirety of 2002, then accepted the Pirates' initial offer in late October.B.J. Upton was the second pick of the 2002 draft. He signed for just $500,000 more than Bullington, then excelled at every level as the Rays promoted him aggressively through their farm system. He made his MLB debut this year at age 19.Upton is on the cusp of stardom. He may open the 2005 season at AAA to work on his defense, but he'll be back in the bigs before the end of the season. He'll start hitting this year, and probably won't stop till 2023 or so. This is the type of star to which you hitch your franchise's wagon.Bryan Bullington is not.I say this not out of bitterness or spite, but as context for a pair of recent articles profiling the Pirates righthander. The Post-Gazette ran a story on Monday with the aforementioned quote, and Ed Eagle posted an article on mlb.com late last week.Bullington's is a story that writes itself, so there's no surprise that he's in the news. As Upton's star ascends, Bullington has stagnated. He's somewhere between Altoona and Pittsburgh, a distance far shorter by car than by metaphor. He's a de facto underdog, a magnet for sports writers hungry for daily leads.Ask anyone in the Pirates system, and their pre-programmed answers say what you'd expect. They claim to be satisfied with Bullington's progress. From the P-G:"The velocity comes and goes, but he's going to settle in at 89-93. He's got enough fastball," Littlefield said. "As with a lot of young pitchers, it's more about command and being able to throw more than one pitch for strikes. He's gotten better at that, and he's going to have to get even better." Fair enough. He does indeed have to get better; he's developmentally behind at least five other untested Pirates starters -- two of whom will miss the majority of the 2005 season. But it's good to hear Littlefield address Bullington's progress frankly.I have spoken to the Pirates GM several times. I am continually impressed by his insight, his passion, and his candor. But every time I grow overly enamored, a quote like this makes my jaw hit the table:"At this point, I don't think we're ready to acknowledge who was the better pick," Littlefield said. "Bullington has progre[...]