Tagged: Lastings Milledge

Tippin’ their hats and callin’ the Pirates their daddy

Sorry Pedro…

 

 

 

pedro-martinez-7001381.jpgAnd sorry Yankees…

 

Thumbnail image for jeter.jpgYa’ll are much better currently and historically than the Pirates, but give me time to enjoy a win.

The Buccos defeated the Yanks 12-7 on Tuesday, but most impressive was what was done in the first inning.

Andrew McCutchen got things started with a single.

Ronny Cedeno…a single also.

Lastings Milledge brought home McCutchen with a double.

Then this guy…

 

GFJ1_edited-2.jpgMade it rain!

Jones blasted a three run homer off none other than CC Sabathia. Sabathia got rocked in two innings pitched giving up seven hits and five earned runs.

It was nice to see us do some damage against Sabathia. The Pirates totaled 15 hits against NY, the most of the spring. It wa salso nice to out hit a team for a change also, the Yanks recorded just eight.

Charlie Morton, anticiapted fourth starter, had a decent outing with a three inning showing on four hit ball. He did give up three runs, but struck out a pair.

By the way, that Garrett Jones picture, photo shopped by yours truly. I got the program for my brithday and have been playing around with it.  

Tomorrow it is Pittsburgh-Baltimore live on FSN Pittsburgh. 

photo credits: nytimes.com, espn.com

 

 

 

 

A 2-0-1 weekend

The Pirates competed in a trio of ballgames this weekend in the Sunshine State.

They did not lose a single game.

 

 

 

 

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The jolly roger was raised for the first time this spring training season on Friday in a 5-3 win over the Orioles.

One of my favorite prospects in the organization is catcher Tony Sanchez.

tony sanchez.jpgI was able to catch one of Sanchez’s very first minor league games in person back in Youngstown, OH. He was with the State College Spikes facing my hometown Mahoning Valley Scrappers.

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.

daveparkerposter.jpgMy 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

 

Front Page Material

 

lastingmlblogs.jpgThis picture look familiar? It should. It is featured on the front page of mlblogs.com. When I logged on this morning I was welcomed with the sight of Bucco. I was shocked, simply because when are the Pirates even merely mentioned? Lastings Milledge was front and center as mlb.com drooled over his fantasy potential. 

Lastings Milledge my friends, this guy is going to be good. I’m not the only one who thinks so. Cory Schwartz of Fantasy 411 on mlb.com had this to say about Pittsburgh’s starting left fielder. 

Lastings Milledge is something of a forgotten man after being run out of two organizations, and he was further hampered last season by a broken finger, but he’s stolen 28 bases in his last 162 Major League games going back to 2008, along with a .278 average and 17 homers. He seems comfortable in Pittsburgh, especially now that he’s been moved to the less stressful defensive assignment in left field, and he’s still only 24. Milledge’s talent has never been in question, so with a full season of health and calm this could be year he starts converting those skills into big-time fantasy results.

I agree with everything Schwartz mentioned above. When Milledge first came over from Washington I thought we were in for a long, rusty relationship. He had indeed hit his rough patches as a Met and even in Washington he butted heads with those in charge. It looked as if we had traded Nyjer Morgan, one of the nicest guys in the business, for this firecracker.

Within days, Milledge proved us all wrong. Management praised his attitude and worth ethic as he put in the time and effort he never seemed to in previous years. Everytime I saw him last season he had a smile on his face and looked like he belonged. 

lastings2.jpgHitting the seen near the beginning of 2006, Milledge was heralded as “the future,” a phenom. Whether the hype went to his head is something often discussed but he was never welcomed in New York. As the youngest player in the National League, just a few days into his 21st year, Milledge was never understood by his veteran teammates. Such stars as Cliff Floyd, David Wright and Billy Wagner were reported to have lashed out against their rookie member in the clubhouse. It is safe to say they had a reason. Milledge acted like a kid in a candy score in the Shea Stadium outfield. He celebrated outlandishly, high fived fans and blew up at umpires. Maybe the vets had a point. Milledge definitely had some growing up to do. He got that opportunity in Washington when he was traded to the Nationals. Ironically enough Milledge was swapped for Ryan Church. Now the two pieces of a trade will be united together in ittsburgh as Pirates this year.

In a new setting and a new environment, young Lastings still had to fight to find his niche.

Thumbnail image for lastings3.jpgHe was welcomed by the younger, more relaxed clubhouse in Nationals Stadium. It was his performance on the field that rolled some eyes. Batting in the third spot Milledge was batting .245 with seven home runs and 32 RBIs. Miniscule numbers for a quality 3rd batter. He suffered through a lingering foot injury suffered while in New York. After the rehab process he showed some life in his bat with an above .300 average to close out the 2008 season. When he was traded near the July 31st trade deadline, Milledge had a hand injury and could not play baseball for the life of him. With a sub-Mendoza Line batting average and nagging metacarpals Milledge came to Pittsburgh amidst the outcrys of Pirates fans who mised their beloved Nyjer Morgan. Like I said before, it was only a matter of days before he put the criticism to rest and strived.

 

lastings1.jpgPart of the facts attributing to the resurgence of Lastings was the much younger clubhouse. Stepping in as actually one of the veteran guys at the rip age of 24 was appealing. Also, lets face it, its Pittsburgh. Milledge found a home in the lower part of the batting order and finished the year strong. With our outfield set, he is truly a part of the bright future of the Pirates.

picture credits: mlblogs.com, dailynews.com, postgazette.com, washingtonpost.com       

 

2009 Buccos close the door on PNC Park….

WITH A WIN!

What a refreshing way to close the door on PNC Park for the 2009 campaign. It is bittersweet for me. I hate the end of baseball season (yes I know the Pirates still have two series of road games to play and yes there is still playoffs, but the fact I gotta wait til April to see a live game puts me in a tizzy) Bu anyway the faith is still there. The Pirates actually have a little life and a fight in them to take 3 of 4 from the mighty Dodgers.

On Friday the Bucs edged the Dodgers 3-1, they struggled on Saturday but remained in the 8-4 defeat, it was 6-5 on Sunday as Lastings Milledge nailed a 3-run walk off double and on Monday the Bucco big bats came out in an 11-1 victory.

It is all bittersweet. I loved the way we played against LA but where was that winning spirit throughout the course of the season. Pittsburgh is swept by the Reds but can win three games against the Dodgers in the same week. It just doesn’t come full circle. I honestly believe we have the talent. McCutchen, Jones and Milledge will be cornerstones on this team. However, it takes me than three solid major leaguers to win ballgames. The other regulars on the team have had flashed of brillance but never enough to sustain a winning record.

Andy LaRoche was one of those flashes today

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He went 5-5 with a pair of homers, two doubles and a triples. With a showing like that you would think this guy is a superstar but this year he has been far from it. He’s batting .259 with 12 homeruns. Totally mediocre and he has played the 3rd base position all year. For a player at that position he should be doing much better. He has been a dissapointment considering the hype around him. After all we basically got him for the price of Jason Bay. He’s been off and on all year with a 2 week slump here and a week of greatness there. Emma from CRZblue has been asking about her former top prospect in LA. Emma, what you saw today is really just Andy wearing his “good baseball player” mask. He has a lot of slack to pick up if he wants to guarentee his spot next year. Pedro Alvarez is in the minors and knocking at the PNC Parks doors rapidly.

LaRoche came over from the Dodgers in the three way trade last year. The Dodgers gave the Bucs another key player that has been a starter for Pittsburgh most of the year.

Delwyn Young is a natural corner outfielder. Since the Pittsburgh trade he has been converted
to a second baseman. It took him a while to get adjusted but since he has been more nurtured he has been a soild infielder. He’s been seen on top plays and web gems. He’s been strong at the plate doing his job as speedy guy and getting on base. He is a pure singles hitter who always seems to get a hit. He’s flireted with a .300 batting average for most of the season. He has descended throughout the past 2 months and is now at .261. I’m sure this being his first full time position player season he is winded and will need some much needed R and R this offseason.

The Pirates-Dodgers connection extends beyond the baseball field.

Last week the Pirates took a trip out west to Sunny California and were warmly welcomed by the Dodgers in historic Dodger Stadium.

Like always Cat was at the game showing her pride and watched her Dodgers sweep the Bucs in three games. While she was there she so genuinely picked up a token of memorabilla for me.

She was able to snag an autograph from Pirates reliever Jesse Chavez. Chavez has been very rocky all year and isn’t the most liked guy in Pittsburgh. However, he is nice with the fans and always takes time to sign autographs and throw balls to fans in the stands. I’m impressed with him and all the Pirates players. They relaize their not a team like the Dodgers and should be happy with the strong fan base that will always stick with him. I just want to say thanks Cat! I’m definately keeping this on display, my favorite part is actually the Dodgers season ticket stub. It is very cool and add to my baseball collection. I also want to say hey to my friend Steve, he’s lurking in the background and got caught in the pic.

Worth the Wait

So after being back at West Virginia for a a weekend I haven’t had time to write an entry as you can tell.

Maybe I should have stopped writing for a few days more during the season.

bucco jump.jpgThe Battling Buccos have been on quite the roll. Pittsburgh swept the Brewers in a 3 game set and over the weekend took 2 of 3 from the Reds. I’ve been folowing itently on this run, much to the dismay of my friends and roomates. I hear a bunch of “Come on, it’s the Pirates”, “who cares” and “Theyre out of it anyway”. But my Friday and Saturday night was fixated watching these players develop in a crucial series in terms of NL Central Standings. The Reds and Pirates flip flopped throughout the weekend in the race for 5th place. The Pirates are now in the cellar with a record of 51-71. 20 games out of a .500 record. When I put it like that it sounds ugly. Attrocious actually. Especially after a prediction of 85 wins after the Home Opener victory against the Astros. My friends called me crazy and comprimised on my prediction. My WVU buddy, Andrew, gave me the benefit of the doubt giving me a 75 win plateau. For every win over 75 he will owe me a dollar, and for every loss under-I owe him a dollar. Fairly innocent and resonable. There is still enough time in the season for a run much like the 5-win run that occured over the weekend. I still watch the games intently for that sole reason and the reason for future development.

jones-cutch.jpgThis is one of my favorite pictures captured throughout the entire season. Maybe its because of teh vintage unis. Which I love by the way, Some say they are disgusting, others say they are pajamas, I say they are classic and they should incorporate them into their combinations, much like the Brewers do with their vintage jerseys. But back to the picture. McCutchen and Jones are the centerpiece of this team now. In his last ten games Cutch has been on base in every game driving in 4 runs in theat span. He holds a .284 batting average and 7 homeruns and 6 triples. He is undoubtebly they best Pirate on the roster and at only 22 years of age you know he is the real deal. There is nobody else touching him in the National League in terms of poise, talent and skill. He should be the runaway favorite for Rookie of the year.

Garret Jones could also be considered a candidate for ROY. He was called up in early June and has been the driving force behind the Pirates power attack. In just over 3 months he has 14 homeruns and flirts with a .300 BA. H ehas trouble getting hits with runners in scoring position-a key stat for individual and team success but no one can complain with his power numbers thus far.

The wildcard in the Pirates offense is Lastings Milledge.

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Milledge has the tools for success and very well could become an impact player. Fans have been down on him in recent weeks in liey of his diminishing performance. Milledge came to the Pirates in exchange for Nyjer Morgan. Everyone loved Nyjer, he was a great person and no one could argue his heart and the effort he put forth on the field. When Lastings took over left field people had a right to get down on him. This weekend, he put on a show which included a homerun and a four hit weekend. He opened some eyes and gained some faith that he is the man for the job.

Tonight it is the battle for Pennsylvania. The Philies come to the Burgh for a series. It could get ugly as the Philies need a strong push as they head for the postseason. It is the big news around the campus of WVU. There is a great population of students from Pittsburgh and Philadelphia so the rivalry extends south to West Virginia as well. To surprise the number of Philly fans and earn bragging rights a series win would be fantastic for the Bucs.

 

So this is what a win feels like

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Before I express my feelings of relief, just got to ask one thing. Whats up with this celebration? I love seeing it. I love the look on the players faces when they are in mid air rejoicing after a win. I just don’t like that every team does it. I feel so proud as a Pirates fan knowing the Jolly Roger has just been raised and my boys are up like this, but every team in the MLB does it. It really rubs me the wrong way. I hope some team, I would love it be the Pirates, to come up with their own victory celebration. I would honestly like some touchdown celebrations of sorts. Nothing too drastic just an after the game dance or diddy out in the outfield. It would be a great marketing tool and players and fans alike can partake in their own jigs.

Now enough about that let me just say that a win is a win. They don’t come often but I surely enjoyed this 7-3 win over the respectable Rockies.

The Pirates owned this game from start to finish. Nearly every player contributed to the win in their own special way.

ross o.jpgStarting pitcher Ross Ohlendorf was outstanding on the mound. He picked up his tenth win and now stands at 10-8. He went 6 innings giving up 6 runs and surrendering 3 earned runs. He was a little shaky as he gave up 2 home runs but still managed to work his way out of jams. He showed that he has the poise to avoid disastorous situations and get the key outs.

 

 

 

ryan doumit.jpgRyan Doumit maneuvered his way out of a deeper funk. He notched a double as he went 2-4 with a walk and run scored. Doumit has been iffy all season. He started out hot, but went down with an injury that kept him out for a few months. On his rehab stints he stunk up the joint in the minor leagues. He failed to get hits and looked like a scrub. He has been equally scrubby since his return to the 25 man roster. He’s had his moments with 2 hit games, such as this one, but he has gone hitless in too many games. A good showing at the plate and a win may boost his confidence.

 

 

 

 

last. m.jpgLastings Milledge is not off the hook either. I love his potential and upside but he still has not proven he is the answer in left field. I still do miss Nyjer Morgan but I honestly believe Milledge will live up to the hype and be a star. You can see he puts in time in the weight room and stretches out those meaty legs. He flashed his hops during the game robbing a homerun and elevating above the outfield wall. It was a sensational grab and earned the number one spot on Baseball Tonight “Web Gems” The hosts ,emtyioned that the Pirates hold the lead for team appearances on the web gem segment. A cool honor and rightfully so as it seems night in and night out there is also a Buc on the spotlight.

 

 

 

cutch run.jpgAndrew McCutchen had another hat trick tonight. Remember 2 weeks ago when he hit 3 homeruns. Well as an encore a few days later he went hog wild again. Cutch stole 3 bases. An amazing feat and something only those special players can perform. He has some outstanding speed in those legs. To get him off and running is a great sign, and a warning sign for opposing teams. Getting him on base and on the move will definately score some run. (3 for him tonite)

 

DY-TB.jpgOne of my favorite faces of the Pirates organization is 3rd base coach Tony Beasley. Not only does his last name rhyme with mine he is a charasmatic fellow, like myself. I sometimes question his decsions about sending and holding runners, but 9 times out of ten he knows how to handle it. Last week his father and aunt dies, just a few days apart from each other. He was on leave to be with his family in these tough times. I love his courage and wish the best to his family. Its great to have him back guiding the Bucs. Here Beasley is with Delwyn Young. DY just laced a triple scoring two runs. He finsihed the game 2-5.

 

 

 

Maybe this game will right the ship and direct the Bucs to more wins. I know its late in the season but I hope they can finish respectably. Like I’ve preached before I want to see hope for the future. Tonight I surely did. My goal for the Bucs is to always finish above the Indians when the season is all said and done. We are a few games back now but if the push continues, watch out Tribe.

Defense wins chmapionships, but not a game against the Nats

 

 

 

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Three “Baseball Tonight” web gems, one of which was by the guy above Andy LaRoche, was not enough to keep the Pirates in the game. Ronny Cedeno’s backhanded grab and diving double play didn’t allow Pittsburgh to put runs on the board. They fell to Washington 8-4. It is tough to swallow a loss like this. One because it was the Nationals, two because it was the Nationals, and three BECAUSE IT WAS THE NATIONALS!

Sorry, but its true. Even though most normal fans would say, “Matt come on its the PIRATES.” But the Bucs had no business losing this game. The bullpen faltered and gave up 4 runs after following starter Charlie Morton. Morton pitched pretty well through 5 innings of work. He shut out the Nationals and struck out 2 batters. The straw that broke the Camel’s back came in the sixth when Adam Dunn belted a homerun. It was tough to swallow and the runs kept coming from hits and a triple by Christian Guzman. It made me very upset to see Charlie let picthes get away from him. After meeting him in Arizona I really have admired his attitude and I know he has it in him to go out and do a solid job night in and night out. I’ll still be rooting hard for him, I just hope the stuffs there longer in the game next time he goes out. The following inning the bullpen came in to give up 4 runs as well. A homerun by Ryan Zimmerman headlined the inning follwed by a bunch of small ball that gave the Nats a good sized lead.

The Bucs offense is not off the hook here either. What started out as a promising game turned ugly and filled with goose-eggs. Andrew McCutchen struck again leading off the first inning with a homerun. He now has 7 on the year and is 2nd on the team with homeruns. It’s great to see that his 3-homerun night was not a fluke and he does have some power built inside.

cutch-milledge.jpgIts a great seeing this sight. The 1-2 punch of McCutchen and Milledge is a match made in heaven. Kind of like and M&M, no pun intended. The charisma they have and established chemistry is great in the clubhouse and at the top of the lineup. Although Milledge did not see the basepaths this game and was 0-5 he still has what the Bucs need. This was the only game Lastings has played in for Pittsburgh without collecting a hit. His failure to reach base may have been a reason for the Bucs failure to put more runs on the board but the rest of the lineup is not off the hook.

3 runs were scored in the first inning and it looked like they were set up nicely to cruise for the W. Steve Pearce, Garrett Jones, Ryan Doumit, set up runs and Delwyn Young scarificed a run in. The rest of the game was dull as the Pirates couldn’t score a run until the bottom of the ninth when Doumit doubled in a run.

On top of Milledge’s o-fer, Ronny Cedeno and Delwyn Young were as well. Ryan Doumit really needed this game to turn his game around. He did not get a hit in the first 3 games of the series. Tonight he was 3-5 with a run and RBI. From the cleanup spot he needs production and he showed it tonight. If he can turn things around quickly and recover from his early season injury he will be a coveted player at the catching position.

The Pirates finished off this series splitting four games with Washington. They start right back up tomorrow hosting the Diamondbacks. I will be attending this game and am very excited to do so. Its kind of funny that of the last three MLB games I’ve been too, the D-Backs have been involved. (Arizona was in Colorado when I was there, at home in Chase Field when I was there, and now here in Pittsburgh.) It is safe to say they are quite familiar. I just hope this result is a little different. The Diamondbacks took 3 of 4 from the Pirates out in the Grand Canyon State.

Tonight, I leave with a great quote from a great player.

“I loved the city of Pittsburgh,” Sanchez said. “I loved going to the ballpark every day and playing for those fans. They’ll always have a special place in my heart for the support they showed after I won that batting title.

“That’s a baseball town in my eyes. I hope all the trades work out, because they deserve a winner there. I’m sure it’s hard for them right now, but I’ll always be watching to see how they’re doing.”

This quote was taken from an ESPN.com article by Jerry Crasnick. It’s greta to see Freddy speaking with such admiration and understanding. I still wish him the best even though he is 3,000 miles away. It does however pain me to see this….                                            freddy giants.jpg