Who is Bixler? You ask. Well for one, he is an ex-Pirate and new member of the Cleveland Indians. Brian-his first name, has been dubbed one of the worst Buccos in the storied history of the Pittsburgh Baseball Club.
Bixler was swapped with Jesus Brito. Brito was a member of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, my hometown minor league team back in my city of Youngstown, OH. The Scrappers are a Single A affiliate of the Indians. I have been to a handful of Scrappers games this past year and greatly recall seeing Brito play. My ears perked up whenever he was announced, partially because his name sounds oddly similiar to a Mexican food dish, Burrito.
Brito, pictured to the right, is an intriguing fellow. He is just 22 and has spent two seasons in the Tribe’s farm system. Last season the Dominican Republic native batted .322 for Mahoning Valley, that is the fifth highest batting average among all minor leaguers for last season. Also interesting is that Jesus was born on Christmas Day, December 25th. I mean what else are you going to name a baby born on Christmas Day?
Even though he is light years from making the big league roster he definitely has shown potential to be a solid player. He has the ability to hit and get on base. His development will be crucial to his success.
Going back to my original statement, that Bixler is often regarded as one of the worst Pirate players in history. Honestly, it is true. In 68 major league games, the Sandusky, OH native owns just a .178 career batting average. Mario Mendoza, be happy. Bixler was often sought as the future shortstop to take over for Jack Wilson. Bixler never even came close to sniffing the dirt off Wilson’s cleats. . 475 OPS, .237 SLG, only 6 extra base hits and 62 strikeouts in 152 at bats are not major league numbers at all.
The fanfare from the trade of Bixler has resounded across online media since the trade was announced yesterday.
There has been some colorful comments left on the official facebook fan page of the Pirates. Usually littered with comments trashing the team left and right, fans came out of the wood work to express gratitude that Bixler will never don the black and gold again. Here is a sample of what has been posted:
- “I liked bixler, until he forgot how to hit a baseball. Happy trails.”
- “The Indians now have the worst player in baseball in their organization.”
- “Bixler made Sammy Khalifa and Rey Quinones look pretty good”
- “Thank goodness Bixler is gone!”
Pretty harsh huh? I can’t disagree though, it is well warranted. Bixler had every opprtunity to succeed and was handed opportunities to play. He failed, miserably, and rightfully showed he is not ready for a major league position.
My good friend, Jon Anderson from mceffect.com may have stated the best goodbye message to Bixler in his facebook status this morning.
Jon said: “woke up, remembered the Pirates traded Bixler yesterday… I think it’s going to be a good day.”
I got a good laugh out of that and will have to check on him later to see if his day went well.(Chances are, it did!)
This may have been the most landmark off-season deal the Bucs have made thus far. Yes they have added Bobby Crosby, Ryan Church and Akinori Iwamura. And the bullpen pieces are faling together. They signed veteran Brendan Donnelly to a one year deal and inked American League innings pitched leader DJ Carrasco. There are also talks of picking up the aging Octavio Dotel.
But this move brough Pirate fans together. The joy and happiness of seeing Bixler leave Pittsburgh gave something we have not had in quite sometime, hope. This is perhaps my favorite comment I have come across regarding the issue:
“Do you feel that? I haven’t felt it in a long time. You know what it is? Optimism. I like this club. I like where they are heading. In Neal We Trust!”
Optimism my friends, it is a good thing to have.
photo credits: mlb.com, milb.com, tcd.ie
Who woulda thunk our Bucco’s would be in first place? Currently the Pirates are 6-1 in Grapefruit league play and sit right at the top of the standings. Pittsburgh has played good ball all spring long. Clutch hitting and timely pitching performance from the starters has been key early on this spring.
In yesterday’s game aginst the Twins, Andy LaRoche stepped up in the 5th inning with a 2 run shot that would be the dagger for Minnesota. In most games 2 runs would surely not be enough to get the dubs, but thanks to a superb start from Tom Gorzo and a nice outing from new face Chris Bootcheck the Buccos were able to cap off a solid win.
Today (3/5) the Pirates face an NL central rival in the Reds. The starting lineup features many familiar faces that will be penciled in on the opening day roster. However, four minor leaguers will get their shot at big league competition. 1B Garret Jones, C Robinson Diaz, 2B Shelby Ford and SS Brian Bixler. Although Bixler has gotten his shot many times last season he will give it another go this spring to redeem himself.
Jones and Diaz intrigue me. Not alot of fanfare has been pronounced for these two youngins. The Pirates are in need of a quality backup for Doumit, Diaz may just be the ticket. Jones has had a solid spring in his few chances. With Adam solidly at first and Steve Pearce gritting his teeth at the chance, Jones could look to give some competition at first. Ford has been deemed the 2nd baseman of the future and according to Baseball America he will be at the helm by ’11. Today all 4 players will bat at the end of teh lineup. It’ll be interesting to see how they’ll fare against Red’s starter Nick Masset…also gunning for his spot in the big show.