The Pirates competed in a trio of ballgames this weekend in the Sunshine State.
They did not lose a single game.
One of my favorite prospects in the organization is catcher Tony Sanchez.
He is a very likeable fellow coming out of Boston College.
In his very first spring training at bat, Sanchez belted a solo homerun off Baltimore’s Troy Patton.
Sanchez is just 21 years old, eight months older than me. It is very funny that someone my age is one of the hottest prospects on a major league ballclub. I guess it is really not too much to fathom as I am a year from graduating college surrounded by Division 1 athletes at one of America’s top sports universities.
Sanchez will probably begin the year in AA Altoona, but will find his way in the ‘Burgh by 2011.
On Saturday the jolly roger may have been raised, but just halfway.
The Pirates and Philies played their way to a 3-3 ten inning tie.
The reining National League champs got hot right off the bat with two runs in the first inning. Pirates starter Kevin Hart looked very sloppy. He looks to be the 5th starter in the rotation so he really needs to hone his mechanics for the remainder of March.
The bottom of the first inning let the Pirates match the Phils, in fact they one upped the boys with Brotherly love. The Buccos scored their only three runs of the contest in the first frame. Ryan Church delievered a two run home run.
On Sunday’s day of rest, the Buc’s bats did anything but. Pittsburgh destroyed absolutely destroyed Minnesota 15-5.
Bobby Crosby gave a good audition for the starting shortstop position with a four RBI performance.
Crosby belted a 3-run homerun while going 2-for-3. It was great to see this guy come through. Whether starting or on the bench he will be vital to the team’s success. Garrett Jones also connected for a homerun, his first of the spring.
The weekend was fun filled with Pirates baseball.
On Sunday it was 30 Clubs/30 Days featuring the Pirates on MLB Network. I think the broadcast team led by Matt Vasgersian really brought to light the hope and promise of the Bucs. They were valiant to praise the efforts of Neil Huntington and the restocked minor league system. They also had good interviews with Lastings Milledge, Andrew McCutchen and Paul Maholm. McCutchen also had a “wired-in” segment with him playing around with teammates comparing his speed to Usain Bolt (a stretch) and hitting an opposite field homerun into the Allegheny River at PNC Park (a bigger stretch).
This weekend I also recieved a package I have long been anticipating.
My Dave Parker poster finally came! I saw this on ebay for a nice price of seven bucks and could not pass it up. It is actually a 7-up ad from the early 80’s. I’m sure the cobra will be so proud to know a college id knows who he is and that the Pirates pride is still stemming from the “We Are Family” days.
On Tuesday I will get the opportunity to see live baseball for the first time in a while.
The West Virginia baseball teams hits the recently snow vacated field to do battle with Duquesne. I once again will be the beat writer for the school newspaper covering the team.
photo credits:piratebox.com, AP/sportingnews
Two games in. Two losses
The Pirates lost 2-4 at the hands of Atlanta on Thursday. The Pirates have put up miniscule hits these past two days, recording just four against the Braves. Compared to the five hit by Atlanta, I guess it should not be too big of a talking point.
Two of the Bucs reaching base safely were new additions. Ryan Church and Bobby Crosby.
Church got the start in right field, but should not be too commended for his effort. He struck out twice while getting his single in three at bats. Over the weekend I called in to a local sports talk station. The guys were talking about off-season accquisitions by the Pirates and failed to mention Church. I chimed in expressing my interest in him and that he could be a central part to our team. They agreed and complimented me, a good feeling considering I am not a frequent caller to these type of shows. I normally just like to sit back and listen. The show was Sunday during an intermission of the USA-Canada hockey game and I was lucky enough to be directed straight to the show. I did watch the game and if anybody else did I hope you were listening intently at the very beginning of the first period. Announcer Doc Emerick dropped a Pirates mention saying “I bet the Pittsburgh Pirates are glued intently to this game.” Perplexed I was, but later found out Emerick is a huge Pirates fan. The New Jersey Devils announcer earned major points in my media heroes book.
Crosby had a decent day at the plate. With two outs in third he ripped a single through the infield bringing in a run. It was the first tally mark of the afternoon for the Pirates. It was the only noise he would make in his three at bats.
Andy LaRoche hit the first homerun of the Spring Training season for Pittsburgh. His solo shot in the 7th was the only other productive at bat in the contest.
The underlying storyline heading into this ballgame was the matchup against former Pirate centerfielder Nate McLouth.
The 2008 Gold Glove winner was the first Pirate traded in last summer’s infamous fire sale. A shocking move to the city of Pittsburgh and the entire baseball world as McLouth just inked a long term deal with the club in the offseason.
In an interview with Jennifer Langosch Nate announced his disdain for the Pirates organization. Here is a sample of what he said.
It feels good to be in an organization this year that’s going to be in a playoff hunt and not have to talk about ‘We hope years down the road …’ and things like that. It’s good to have that feeling in Spring Training.
It was tough, but I was kind of lucky that I was the first one to get sent out and I didn’t have to deal with it the whole summer.
If I was in Nate’s position, I certainly would be a bit ticked and I understand what he is saying. At the time I was unsure of the trade, but it can pay big dividends for the Pirates. We got a starting pitcher (Charlie Morton) and a centerfield prospect (Gorkys Hernandez) out of the deal. It makes me happy theat McLouth is not down playing that situation. He truly wanted to be a Pirate and felt betrayed by the organization. Some say it is still a stupid move, but it really was not.
Our outfield now is one of the youngest and most talented in the National League. McLouth refused to move to left field when Andrew McCutchen would be promoted and that may have pre-empted the trade in the first place. McLouth’s numbers also dropped considerably when he was in the ATL.
In 85 games with the Braves, McLouth batted a mediocre .256 and hits 11 home runs, bringing his total up to 20 for the year. His on base percentage dropped a handful of points from the year before and his OPS was .773, the second lowest in his five year career.
It is hard to tell what the short and long term effects of the trade will be. The duo the Pirates recieved from Atlanta has yet to pan out. In sort of a fitting manner, it was Morton that started the game for Pittsburgh. He had control issues walking three batters (including McLouth).
photo credits: piratereport.com, coxnewsweb.com
Baltimore is up next! Bucs-O’s Friday at 7p.m.
The Pirates are reportedly close to signing infielder Bobby Crosby to a one year deal on Thursday. The 29 year old shortstop is a former Oakland A with an aresenal of talent hiding within him and six years of big league experience.
As the winter meetings come to a close and the biggest blockbuster officially landing on Wednesday (the 3-way trade of the Yankees, D-Backs and Tigers), it is safe to say this free agent pick up by Pittsburgh will be overlooked, not only by the baseball world, but in the Pittsburgh area as well.
The Pirates will be a better team. Maybe not in 2010 but by 2011 they should have a developing young core of guys that will make a push for the playoffs. Once the girls of the metropolitan area catch on, Pirates fever will begin to rank right up there with the recent surge of the Pens. Call me a wishful thinker but if the Pirates flirt with .500 this year and maybe, just maybe make a run at the playoffs Bobby Crosby will be reason for that overdue change of pace.
He will only be signed for one year at 1.5 million dollars. In no way will he be a starter, but a relaible option of the bench and an ideal utility infielder. Last year he made a majority of his starts at first base surprisingly but he is a natural shortstop. He adds to the expanding depth in the infield as he joins Delwyn Young, Neil Walker and Ramon Vazquez on the bench filling in for Andy LaRoche, Ronny Cedeno and Akinori Iwamura.
Personally I like this signing. It is low risk and worth the 1.5 million for a solid utility guy. For some reason I get a good vibe from he, though just a backup I feel he will give the team a different kind of spark and catch the attention of ladies if, and thats a big, IF, the Pirates catch fire in 2010.