I want what is best for my Pittsburgh Pirates. I’ve been here long enough and continue to support my favorite baseball team through the thick and thin. Over the weekend the Pirates announced they would non tender pitchers Phil Dumatrait and Matt Capps. Not that I totally support the decision but hey, maybe it is the right move. Dumatrait was injured all of last year and never really amounted to anything but a 5th starter or maybe a middle of the road reliever in the year before. The real kicker about this news is the loss of closer Matt Capps.
Capps was a great guy and a joy to watch for the past five years. He was built from the ground up in the Pirates organization and did quite well in his time in Pittsburgh. He struggled last year, surrendering 12 home runs in just 54 innings pitched. He blew five saves but was still able to establish a career high in the SV department registering 27. Prior to last season Capps was regarded as one of the best closers in all of baseball. His 0.97 WHIP was among the leagues best and his speed pitches and accuracy were a thing of beauty. He only walked five batters in all of 2008 and in 2007 struck out 64 batters in a matter of 79 innings. He was indeed a “Big Bull Rider” and a force on the mound.
Now I never think one bad year can define a career for anybody in sports, baseball especially, a reliever especially as well. Coming out of the bullpen has to be one of the most overlooked aspects of the game of baseball. The tense warmup and spur of the moment action must be hard to jump into with every single fan expecting you to mow down each batter your facing.
The untimely, de-facto release of Capps sent shockwaves down the backs of most Pirate fans. Capps has been trade bait for quite some time and it painned the pundits to see Capps walk without anything in return. That I do agree with-this I do not.
Cook: Who cares what Pirates do any
Monday, December 14, 2009
By Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Ron Cook is one of the best sports writers in Western, PA. I am a big fan of his and respect his work handling all sports buzz occuring in Pittsburgh. Hoping to one day become a “Ron Cook” of the journalism buisiness I take heed in the words he writer for one of the best newspapers in all of America. article in today’s paper.
I can only dream the headline read something like that, instead the article was one of despair, dissapointment and just plain apathy. Those three feelings are not uncommon between Pittsburgh Pirates “fans” in this area. To hear Ron Cook, a Pittsburgh sports columnist who has been around for the past three decades and a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America, say this about my beloved baseball team isn’t as disheartening as I hope it would be. In fact he is actually right.
“I guess that’s what really ticks me off most, that the Pirates have become so irrelevant in our sporting consciousness. Baseball is such a beautiful game and we’re stuck with the worst franchise with the worst ownership in the sport. What did we do so wrong?”
He is spot on. WIth the success of the other sports teams in Pittsburgh, who is left to actually care about the Pirates? Cook continues to state the obvious with this next quote, really raising my concern about the most pressing need for this team.
“Teams all over baseball are looking for relief pitching. That includes the Pirates, who, after releasing Capps and left-hander Phil Dumatrait over the weekend, are looking at a bullpen next season of Joel Hanrahan, Evan Meek and what other low-priced stiffs they can find to put out there. Good luck with that.
I know Capps isn’t Mariano Rivera, but it is incomprehensible how the Pirates can give away one of their few commodities without getting anything in return.”
Cook gets it, but does the Pirates front office? I would think so and GM Neil Huntington somewhat agrees.
He said a return for Capps to Pittsburgh really could happen, and Matt himself wouldn’t rule it out either. However if I’m Capps I would want to move on and be with a team who trusts me.
Capps will be missed. Ryan Doumit, having been through the departure of many other teammates was shocked by the decision. He told the Post-Gazette that Capps was reliable and “one of the best around.”
I just want somebody to know that these kind of moves are talked about and dissected withing the strong community that are Pittsburgh Pirates fans. I trust in a turnaround and wait for that day to come, sooner than later. Most people in Pittsburgh, like Ron Cook, are tired of their patience running out any longer.
“You might care if the team loses 115 games next season.
I stopped caring a long time ago.”
7:05– Bucco game starts. Excitement runs through my veins as another Philies-Pirates game begins. I enjoy this cross state rivalry and look forward to the games each year.
7:15- Pirate right fielder Garret Jones launches a home run to right field. I was skeptical of Jones at first. He never did intrigue me. He has since proven me wrong. Since his time in the big leagues he has connected with the ball well and been an asset in the outfield. He showed tonight that he has the power that the Pirates need.
7:18- Delwyn Young homers to left field. I love Young. He seems like a good guy with a nice personality and a good fit in the clubhouse. He brings a fire and passion to the team and always seems to get on base. A home run from him is always welcome.
7:48- Andrew McCutchen continues the trend and blasts an HR to left field. I had actually called this homerun. With Adam LaRoche on first I was ready for him to score. I figured no time like the present. I said Cutch is due for a dinger and he delievered right on cue. With a 5-0 lead I figured the Pirates had this game in the bag.
9:07- The Pirates got 2 more runs here in the 7th in thanks to a handful of miscues by the Philadelphia defense. Garret Jones drew a walk scoring Jack Wilson. Later in the inning Ryan Doumit knocked in McCutchen to earn his first RBI since returning to the big league club.
9:40- With the Pirates in the field and the Philies searching for any form of life at the plate Jack WIlson showcased his glove making a diving, over the shoulder catch in mid left field robbing Shane Victorino of a hit. Being the always aware, always attentive shortstop he is, Wilson flung the ball over to LaRoche at first doubling up Jimmy Rollins. It was an amazing play and sure to be a web gem and top 10 play on tomorrows ESPN broadcasts.
10:00- Matt Capps comes in with a 7-3 lead. I am always weary of these situations. I’m talking baout when a closer is brought in during a non-save situation. Capps had a little breathing room so I was sure he could seal the deal and give the bucs a win.
10:02- Just a few minutes after coming into the game Capps gave up a solo shot to Matt Stairs. I wasn’t worried yet. I like Matt Stairs, he too is a good guy and a fan favorite no matter where he plays. With the Pirates in 2003 he hit 20 homeruns. He leads all current MLBers with 18 pinch hit homeruns.
10:11- Ryan Howard steps to the plate with 2 men on and one out. This was the first meeting between Howard and Capps. Howard took advantage of the Big Bull Rider and absolutely blasted a shot over the centerfield fence. With one swing of the bat the game was tied and another chapter was written in Howard’s legacy book.
10:22- Ten minutes later the ball game was over. The bases were loaded and Paul Bako singled to left field scoring Raul Ibanez, who would be the dreadful winning run.
With the loss the Pirates slip to 11 games under .500. There is little hope for the rest of the season. There is also little hope for the future of Matt Capps. It is inexcuseable for a closer of his nature to blow a game like this. The Bucs recently brought in Joel Hanrahan from the Nationals. I do believe they have plans for him in the pen as a closer here in the near future.
Ryan Doumit performed well in just his second game back from the DL. He was 0-4 in his first game but turned it around tonight with 2 doubles.
Andy LaRoche turned on the jets when he laced a triple in the 8th inning. I did not realize it but it was his 4th triple of the year.
Andrew McCutchen had a heck of a game. He had 2 hits, one being the HR, a stolen base and scored. This is the kind of production we need from him in the leadoff spot.
Virgil Vazquez will square off against J.A. Happ tomorrow for game 3 of the series when Pittsburgh hopes to avoid the sweep.
RAISE THE JOLLY ROGER…21-24
Freddy Sanchez went bonkers at the plate going 6-6 with 3 RBI and a homerun. Nate McLouth added a homerun as well and the Pirates beat the Cubs 10-8 at Wrigley. Andy LaRoche also enjoyed contributing to the offensive explosion. He now has a ten game hitting streak with his 3-hit performance on Memorial day.
Paul Maholm started the game for Pittsburgh but Tom Gorzelanny picked up the win. Sean Burnett earned his first career Major League save. Long overdue for a guy who was supposed to be a cornerstone to the Bucs future pitching staff way back in 2003. He only was given the reins last night after Matt Capps was struck with a Geovanny Soto line drive. Capps was pulled from the game and taken to teh hospital for X-rays, they came back negative. (GOOD SIGN).
Just like the rest of the Major League Baseball team the Pirates took part in Memorial Day festivities.
By adorning the red caps the Bucs did not match at all. The ***** Eye for the Straight Guy folks would have a field day making over this uniform combination. But what matters is that those who fought to serve our country were honored. I for one really like the hate. I’m a sucker for flashy hats and that one that Jack Wilson is wearing in the picture to teh right is just that-flashy. I may have to take a trip to the mall and hit up Lids. It would go well for my summer wardrobe, plus it would come in handy come 4th of July.
The Pirates weren’t the only ones in the patriotic spirit yesterday.
Although he was the “Southside Slugger” in rocky 3, Clubber Lang appaered on the other side of town. The beloved Mr. T was on hand decked out in perfect Red White and Blue attire to throw out the first pitch in the ballgame. Still looking buff-minus the earings he delievered a perfect strike across the plate.
This is not what I hope to see this week. The road trip to Chicago has not been as friendly as hoped for the Bucs. Sunday was an exciting come from behind thriller as the Pirates won 4-3 thanks to a tying homerun by Jack Wilson, his 1st of the season. And the ultimate winning run scored by Nyjer Morgan and hit by Delwyn Young. All the damage was done with the game on the brink in the top of the ninth.
The Pirates only managed 2 hits against Sox pitcher Gavin Floyd in Fridays 2-0 loss. A different story in the pivital game three. Sunday’s win gave the Pirates 16 hits en route to their 20th win of the season.
Pittsburgh now sits at 20-24 on the year and face the Cubs. I have to applaud whoever does the scheduling of teh season games. To hav ethe Pirates stay in Chicago for a six game stretch was very convienent. I’m sure the players appreciate not having to travel across the country but rather across town. I wonder if they just stayed in the hotel this past week? Doubtful because Chicago is a huge city, but nontheless it is a good move.
The Pirates now face the Cubs in an interesting crossroads. The Cubbies have lost 7 in a row. This could be both an advantage and disadvantage facing Pittsburgh. Can the Pirates kick Chicago while their down? Or will Chicago be hungry and feeding on the Pirates?
With all these questions upon us lets take a look at some of the images from Sunday’s dramatic victory at U.S. Cellular Field.
Eric Hinkse filled in at first base for Adam LaRoche. Hinske did things in a big way hitting a ground rule double in the first and a solo homerun in the 8th. The HR was his first of the year. Hinske’s performance should dictate more playing time at first base or anywhere on the diamond.
Starting pitcher Jeff Kaaaaaaarstens had one of his best outings of the year. (I add the aaaaaaar for the dynamic Pirate-sounding effect. Works dont it?) 5.1 innings pitched, 5 hits and 3 earned runs was his stat line. A no-decision but he definately allowed the Bucs to stay in the game.
Jack Wilson connects for his homerun in the top of the ninth. It was his first of the year and it could not have come at a more opportune time. The dinger tied the game at 3 and ultimately boosted the Pirates to score the winning run a few batters latter.
Nyjer Morgan crossed the plate for that winning run thanks to the RBI at the hands of Delwyn Young. The look in Morgan’s eyes and expression on his face sum up the feeling of winning that every player feels after a crucial moment. Morgan, a sprakplug in his own right will help instill the positive and most importantly winning mentality in the minds of the players to continue to win vicoriously.
Outfielder Nate McClouth, Morgan and Brandon Moss gather to celebrate the 4-3 vicotry after Matt Capps shut down the WHite Sox 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth. Capps struck out the side en route to his 9th save of the year.
After singing the Blues while witnessing 2 straight losses, I was signing the praises of the Bucs while watching this game on my couch, all part of my ideal lazy Sunday type of afternoon. As this week continues in Chicago I hope to see more jubilation in part to Buc victories, theres nothing like a good win to make your day alot better.
PHOTO CREDITS: allposters.com, espn.com
Well it’s nearly 2am on a Friday night and just like everybody else on the WVU campus, I’m wide awake. With music blaring out my window and everybody awake and drunk, they’re having a good time. Me on the other hand, am quite depressed. I hate when the Pirates lose, I hate when the Pirates lose in extra innings and I really hate when a former Pirate beats the Pirates in extra innings. All three occured tonight. In the bottom of the 12th of the 1th with Chris Burke on second Brian Giles came through with a sharp line drive into right field. It hurt inside. I had passed up a night of debouchery (yes debouchery) to stay on my couch and watch my team. It also hurt because seeing Giles come through in the clutch brought back fond memories.
The good old days of the 100 loss first season at PNC Park. Giles hit a walkoff homerun against the Astros towards the end of summer. I’ll never forget fathers day 2001 when Giles slid across home plate to down the Indians and give the Pirates their first series sweep of the year. Giles was a good player and i’ll never forget his batting stance, short stature, power swing and of course the McLouth-esque slicked back blonde hair.
I really do feel we should have won this game. We were right in it but squandered key opportunities. Here are my 3-up, 3-down for tonight’s contest.
- Jason Jaramillo- Great plate discipline and game control. He can definately handle the weight for these next 8-10 Doumit-less weeks
- Ian Snell- solid game in a quality start. Looking to finally come around and become the starter we all knew he could be.
- Brandon Moss- 1st RBI of the year….bout time bud
- Jack Wilson- 0-5. Pooped, yes pooped out on a bunt, that could have broken the game open.
- Nyjer Morgan- while he is leading the NL in stolen bases with 6 he wa spicked off on a key base running incident in the 9th inning.
- Matt Capps- gave up the winning run, looked shaky and not his overpowering self.
Well, there’s two more game to be played. With DUUUUUUUUKE on the mound tomorrow it’ll be interesting to see if his hot streak continues. Gotta get the whole team back on the hot streak more than anything.
PHOTO CREDIT: espn.com
“The Mad Capper”
“Big Bull Rider”
Matt Capps could be called which-ever you prefer. The only thing he prefers is a save opportunity. WIth 5 already on the season, Capps is automatic when he’s on the mound. The 6’2 245 guy is as big as advertised. Following in the footsteps of heavy set closers, Bob Wickman and Eric Gagne, Capps has a unique style of power when pitching.
Since being on the big league club since 2005 Capps’ presecence has always been felt. Totaling 45 saves over the past four years he is among the elite closers in the major league.
The Pirate’s organization is no stranger to a strong closer. Number 43 Mike Williams was a fan favorite for many of the beginning years at PNC Park. In ’03 Williams set the Pirates record for saves with 43. That mark can easily be surpassed by Capps.
Capps is no stranger to big league talent. The Douglassville, GA native played on Team Georgia in 2001. The team featured young 20-something ball players that represented their home states in Oklahoma City during the SUn Belt classic. Brian McCann and Jeff Francour joined Capps on the team.
Capps, a bachelor and only 25 years old has been on his fair share of wedding parties. He was best man to fellow pitcher Zach Duke. The comraderie on any team is great and will provide for great chemistry and success in any situation. It’s great having a duo like this on our team.
Capps is not tenth on the all time saves list for a Pirate. WIth many outstanding years ahead of him, he should have no problem making a name for himself in the Pittsburgh organization
PHOTO CREDIT: postgazette.com/mlb.com
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RAISE THE JOLLY ROGER…1-0
Breath it in folks…our Buccos are 1-0. A thrilling come from behind victory in the top of the ninth gave Pittsburgh a 6-4 ‘W’ over the Cards. Everyones favorite shortstop Jack Wilson comes through in rockstar fashion.
On the Pirates side of things, without Paul Maholm the Buccos would not have one this game. Maholm went 6.2 innings with one eraned run on seven hits. The staff ace pitched very well on the mound in chilly, windy conditions. Maholm also came through at the plate. The Mississippi native was 1-1 with a bloop single while drawing three walks. Just getting used to his success at the plate, Paul could use some tips on the base paths. In an attempt to score from third he was caught in a pickle and tagged out. Had he not have disobeyed 3rd base coach Tony Beasley’s stop sign the Pirates could have put the game away early in the 6th inning.
It was a nerve racking game when Tyler Yates was handed the reigns from the bullpen. I’ve been skeptical of our bullpen since spring tarining and Yates only heightened my negative feelings. The 2 year vet gave up two runs, one of which was a solo homerun by Ryan Ludwick. However, the ‘Mad Capper’ went out for the save and the ‘Big Bull Rider’ himself notched it.
The game today made me proud to be a favorite Pirate fan. It’s great to rub it in my buddies faces for always putting me down because I’m a ‘Burgher. A lot of good came from today. Also, a hint of bad. Stay tuned after Wednesday’s game when The Peas will analyze the first series. Until then, it is a great night to be a Pirate fan wherever you may be.
2. USA Today