A blockbuster day was held in Pittsburgh today. The Pirates downed the Cubs 3-0 which was refreshing, but what came before that was very unsettling.
Eric Hinske was delt to the Yankees for two low A propspects. One is a pitcher, teh other an outfielder. Not much info is out there about the pair but when you are in A ball chances are you are lightyears from the MLB. Hinske was a solid backup player and a good role model for the younger guys on teh team. He will be missed but the fact that chances are he wasn’t returning to the team next year.
What really upsets me was the trade of Nyjer Morgan. There have been talks about dealing the speedster for teh past few weeks but I just disregarded it. I knew what we had in Morgan and believed he was going to be a part of the future. That is going against a lot of theories other Pirate fans have about Morgan. He was a great guy, great in the community, a great teammate and a fan favorite. He could have been beloved in Pittsburgh for many years to come. But then again so could Jason Bay, Xavier Nady and Nate McLouth.
What upsets me teh most about the trade was the return. We recieved Lastings Milledge.
Headcase extrodinaire. He has been the complete opposite of a Nyjer Morgan. In his 3 stints as a major league player he has been tossed numerous times, fined numerous times and found himself in trouble with the law numerous times.
Right now Lastings is in teh GCL league rehabbing an injury. His skills have been degressing over the past few seasons. He has been demoted by the Nats early this season. Take that in for a moment folks…demoted by the Nationals, the Washington Nationals. The worst team in the MLB. He is just 24, with a lot of room for development. Now some may say this is a great move for the Bucs. they traded a mediocre outfielder for one with much more upside…but I don’t see it. Milledge is a bust, he is overrated and overlooked for good reason. He’s had opportunites but has failed to live up to the hype.
The Pirates need power, and need it fast. Although Milledge will probably not make it up to PNC Park for a few months he may provide some pop. He has the coveted “potential” genes, but if he doens’t use it, makes no sense to me. If he can turn it around with this change of scenery it will be a great move….I just don’t see him getting that hot.
Speaking of hot, if you’ve ever been to the Pittsburgh area you are familiar with Quaker Steak and Lube wings.
It is known as best wings USA.
They are famous for their very hot ATOMIC hot wings. Very few have tried to down 5 of these boned wings. You must be brave, hungry, and able to handle heat to complete the coveted challenge and earn a spot on their wall of fame.
My friend Andrew Schuerholz, nephew of Braves VP John Schuerholz, who I have mentioned before completed the feat today. He was in town visiting from Baltimore and couldn’t leave Youngstown without attempting the feat. He passed with flying colors and earned respect from the restraunt. Congrats Drew!
PHOTO CREDITS: mlb.com, roethisteinnews.com, sidesalad.com
For you non-Pittsburgh Pirate fans out there this entry may be somewhat irrelevant. I recently went to Eastwood Field in Niles, Ohio-about a 15 minute drive from Youngstown to take in a minor league baseball game.
Eastwood Field is home to the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, low class A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. Although I have a deep hatred of the Indians I do support the hometown team-the Scrappers. It is always a fun time at the field with wacky promotions and close to the action seats. Over the years a slew of Major League players have played for the Scrappers, most notably:
-Ben Francisco, Ryan Garko, Chris Gimenez, Trevor Crowe, Tony Sipp,and Victor Martinez-all current Inidans
-Ryan Church- outfielder for the Mets
-Kevin Kouzmanoff-infielder for the Padres
-C.C. Sabathia-hurler for the Yankees
It is a good place to go to take in a baseball game and see just drafted young play their hardest to reach the next level.
My trip to the field this week was to see young talent at its finest. The Scrappers were playing the State College Spikes, the farm team of the Pirates. I was there to mostly see Tony Sanchez, the first round pick of the Pirates in this month’s draft. There has been much talk and speculation about Tony. He was named the collegiate catcher of the year and has the batting numbers to prove it. However, he was ranked at about number 30 in terms of talent in the draft. With the 4th overall pick the Pirates nabbed Sanchez. Many pundits felt it was a security issue for the Bucs. They were able to quickly sign him with a contract rather than picking the best available player who may not have signed with the organization. Personally I like what Sanchez has to offer. I’d rather take a position player than a pithcer in any draft. In the Pirates case a position player is usually the right move regardless, we have a long history of pitching busts.
Decked out in my Pirates gear me my dad and my friend Andrew were able to get front row seats right behind the Spikes dugout. The tix were courtesy of my buddy Jared, The Indians fan. He is working as an intern in the Scrappers ticket office for the summer. It is a good gig for him as he is pursuing a career in sports management. The hours are long but he enjoys every second of being around baseball.
We headed down to our seats while the Spikes were warming up. Tony was playing catch with the starting pitcher. He looks like he has a strong arm for a catcher. He has a quick relaease and can really zoom the ball to his target. As he walked towards the dugout I started yelling his name holding up a ball and picture for him to sign. He was very cordial as he signed my items. We were able to have a brief conversation. He seems like a very genuine guy who is legitimately happy to be playing in the organization. He has a nice smile and a nice voice. Female fans around us were intrigued by his good looks. He said he hopes to do his best for a quick rise through the system and cracking the major league roster in the near future.
Here are pictures of my signed items.
I printed this picture off postgazette.com. It is Tony at PNC Park for the first time after signing his contract. He was there for a brief press conference and intorduction to his future stomping grounds.
He signed this ball right on the sweet spot without being asked to do so. Big props in my book as most players just carelessly sign any spot.
Tony began the game batting in the 3rd spot in the lineup. A perfect notch for him as he needs to develop into that same spot in the future. He is known to have slight pop in his bat, but not overwhelming power. Hopefully the minor league staff can hone his skills so he can drive the ball deep.
FIRST AB- Tony deleivered a frozen rope shot to right over the shortstops head. It flew off his bat and he was safely aboard with a single. He could have had an RBI on the play but the third base coach held the runner at third. Very discouraging as we booed him for not sending him home.
SECOND AB- He got bad wood on the ball and slowly dribbled it to the shortstop. The shortstop then stepped on second for a force out. On the throw to first the shortstop threw it in the dirt. Sanchez reached on the error and turned on the jets. He took advanatge of the situation and jetted to second base. The next batter ripped a drive to right field and Tony would come around to score what would be the lone Spikes run of the game.
THIRD AB- A pitch got in on his hands and he wasn’t able to turn on it. It was a roller right at the first baseman who easily stepped on first for the unassisted out
FOURTH AB- In hi slast time up he drilled another shot into left field and recahed with a single.
He finished the game 2-4 with a run scored. Not a bad day at the plate. In the other two game of the series he was help hitless in one but reached base once in the other game. It was a single too and he drove it to where else but left field. He also scored a run in that game after the hit.
Behind the plate Sanchez did a solid job keeping balls in front of him. He had one passed ball but othe rthan that it looks like he will be a big body who can mow down runners and be a solid overall defensive backstop.
As a whole I wa simpressed. Tony is a nice guy and a good face for the Pirates organization. There is a lot of work to be done. He can’t just be a singles hitter. He must add some depth to his batting arsenal. We need power at the big league level and if he works at it Tony can be the bopper we need. (no I am not suggesting steroids)
I wish I could have scouted the Spike better as whole instead of focusing on Tony the whole game. This guy sitting a row behind us was a big Pirate fan from Sharon, PA. He had notes about every player in the lineup and telling me who to look out for. There are some guys who may be able to sneak through the system liek second baseman Brock Holt and firstbaseman Kyle Morgan. There are also some pitchers on the team that have the right stuff-so he says.
In the corwd of 4,000 people a good thousand of them were Pirate fans. Alot of cheers went out for the Spikes.It was nice to hear and nice to give a “Lets Go Bucs” to passers by.
The loudest cheer of the night when the Indians score was announced. The Indians were beating the Pirates 5-0 in the 7th inning. Many people were pumped about that. The Youngstown area is loaded with Tribe fans. Pirates play second fiddle once again. I wa stracking the Pirates game on my cell phone and was very dissapointe din Ian Snell. He was shelled again giving up 5 runs. Things took a turn for the better for the Pirates in the car on the drive home. We tuned in to the radio after the Scrappers game, btw Mahoning Valley downed the Spikes 2-1. It was the ninth inning and the Pirates were scratching back with a 5-2 thanks to an Adam LaRoche homer that landed in the Allegheny River. The Pirates rally continued as Kerry Wood came into the game and started blowing up. The Pirates scored 2 off of Wood. Nyjer Morgan, Andrew McCutchen, Brandon Moss, Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez all collected hits in the 2 runs scored. The lineup batted around as Adam stepped up to the plate again. He did not deliever the same heroics as he popped out to right field to end the game. Very dissapointing but I hold my head high after a strong come back. The Bucs did win last night 10-6. Hopefully the offense will be alive again tonight. I will be in attendance at PNC Park for this rubber match between the interleague rivals.
Pirates lose 8-2 at the hands of the Minnesota Twins
- Nyjer Morgan hits 2 run homerun-1st of the 2009 season
- 5 double plays were turned by the Pirates-they lead the MLB in that category
- Paul Maholm had his worst start of the year-8 earned runs and 14 hits
- Joe Mauer is outstanding- he went 4-4 and is currently batting .414
It will be interesting to see how this interleague matchup turns out. The Bucs had a lot of luck in the last series against the Tigers getting 2 out of 3. With the offensive firepower that the Twins posess it will be tough for the Pirates to get out of the Land of Lakes with a decent win.
I’m loving the props on the mlblogs home page. Matt Weiters got some recognition for making his debut and now Andrew McCutchen graces the cover.
As we all know by now Nate McLouth was traded to the Braves in exchange for prospects. The dust has finally settled and the fact that hes gone has set in. Fans and players alike were equally shocked and held in disbelief by the trade. In this article off espn.com, Pirates players vent about their frustrations with the front office.
Its good to see the players have so much dedication for a teammate. It shows that the players here in Pittsburgh strive to do the best they can to give the fans something to cheer about. I think the team will be brought closer together with the events that occured and pull it all together.
But the sun will always rise and it surely did yesterday afternoon in Pittsburgh.
Cutch is here and the future surely is NOW.
McCutchen impressed on his opening day going 2-4 with and RBI. He showcased his speed by stealing a base an scoring two runs. He along with Nyjer Morgan both celebrated the day and showed the Mets that speed definately kills as the Bucs downed the Metropolitans 11-6.
Jon from the Mc Effect was at the game and had the time of his life. He has a nice rundown of the days events over on his blog, be sure to check it out. http://eatsleepmlb.mlblogs.com
The Pirates are now inching closer and closer to that coveted .500 mark. WIth a new sense of identity and Cutch the boy wonder in teh lineup on an everyday basis watch for Pittsburgh to deliever and prove to the baseball world that they can win.
After Day 1 of the McCutchen project PNC Park was able to
RAISE THE JOLLY ROGER…25-28
I kind of jumped the gun a little with last nights post. I had just seen Snell get yanked from the game and assumed that the Bucs were detined for another loss, their 29th of the year. However, by the glory of Andy LaRoche teh Pirates pulled together a 5-run 8th innings and propelled Pittsburgh to a 8-5 win over teh Mets. I love answered runs and the Pirates had 8 of them last night.
The Buccos put together a string of 13 hits in the game and were relentless at the plate. Nyjer Morgan went 2-4, Adam LaRoche went 3-5, Jack Wilson went 3-4, Jason Jaramillo went 2-4 and Andy went 3-4 with 3 RBI and a TRIP_TRIP_ TRIPLE.
The big hit was delievered by pinch hitter Delwyn Young. His single drove in the go-ahead run and gave the Bucs momenum to add their insurance in the same inning.
This was a special game for a handful of reasons.
1) My good friend Chris Kiernan was able to witness the game. If you remeber a few weeks back when “A Deeper Look Inside Chris Kiernan” was written, he is from New Jersey. Being in teh New York metropolitan area he was able to catch the game on Chris was fresh off a visit to a minor league game where the Trenton Thunder played against teh Pittsburgh AA farm club, the Altoona Curve. Prior to the game he went down to the baseline and scored me some autographs of future Pirates players. He was very generous and so were the players. He offered them words of encouragement in hopes of seeing them at PNC Park in the near future.
2) Capps got a save. I’ve been very nervous as of late when I see him warming up. However, it seems that the dust has settled and the Capper has found his groove once again.
3) Attendance= 11,812. While the Mets were probably shocked at that number the Pirates probably weren’t. For a weekday game that is actually decent in Pittsburgh. We’re so used to crowds below 10,000 dipping into the 8,000s. With summer quickly approaching and the Pirates looking above average get used to Western Pennsylvania residents flocking the North Shore to see some Bucco baseball
4) Its a win and you know what that means…
RAISE THE JOLLY ROGER…23-28
Photo Credit: AP photo/gene puskar
The Buccos lost the final 2 games of the series in Wrigley Field. On Wednesday the Bucs lost the rubber match 5-2 at the hands of the Cubs. On the entire roadtrip in Chicago Pittsburgh went 2-4. Really under par and not what I would like to see but hey, we weren’t swept in either series so I guess that is always a plus.
What was more of a plus was the face-time the Pirates got on ESPN. Sportscenter covered teh game very well, mostly because of Carlos Zambrano’s tirade at homeplate umpire Mark Carlson.
Big Z was ticked off by Carlson’s call at homeplate. Zambano had just thrown a wild pitch which got away from catcher Geovanny Soto, the WP allowed Nyjer Morgan an attempt to steal home. Morgan slid gracefully under the tag of Zambrano who was in position tocover the plate. Morgan was called safe, which replay showed he surely was.
Carlos disagreed and went bezerk. He bumped into, swore at and dissrespected Carlos which led to his ejection. Big Z then took matters into his own hands and tossed the game ball into the crowd. When manager Lou Pinella came out to intervene Zambrano returned to the dugout but his antics weren’t nearly complete.
Zambrano would then go on to heave his glove into the dugout and slam it on the ground. He had already used a ball and glove in his routine to complete the equipment triple crown Carlos brought out a bat and took his frustrations out on the Gatorade machine in the dugout. He had dented the top and banged up the machine. Now this Gatorade machine was something I had never seen before. It was a fountaine drink dispenser exclusively for Gatorade. That is THE coolest thing I’ve ever heard of. Imagine having that in your kitchen. Gatorade is delicious as it is and now you don’t have to go to the local convienent store to pickup a bottle of the fruity drink. Just get a cup and put it under and push the tab, its ingenious. Why Zambrano would want to destroy this amazing invention is beyond me, if he really didn’t like it he should have just packaged it up and sent it to me.
Watching Carlos go crazy yesterday reminded me of a time way back when, the late ’90’s I believe. Carl Everett, playing for the Red Sox went irate at the umpire for one of the most minor incidents I ever heard of. the ump instructed Everett to move back in the batter’s box because he was crowding the plate a bit too much. Everett disagreed and you know whenever you’re in a disagreement, the only logically solution is to headbutt your opposition, Everett did just that.
Everett also took his frustrations out on dugout beverage dispensers. He busted up the Powerade cooler ripping off the lid and tossing it out on the field. I give Everett the benefit of teh doubt in this one. The cooler did not break, the Cubs Gatorade dispenser however may just be in ruins.
The 1990’s were one of my favorite decades in baseball. Mind you I’ve only been alive for just over 2 decades. I went to my first baseball game then and gathered many of my favorite players from this time period. One of the most notable players from this decade was Roberto Alomar.
Alomar was big aroudn Northeast Ohio in the late 1990’s when he played for the Indians and did very well. He was a fan favorite thanks to his power at the plate. He played with his older brother sandy with the Indians at this time and the two packed a greta punch for Cleveland.
Perhaps Alomar’s most notable performance came before he arrived in Cleveland as a member of the Baltimore Orioles.
He is indeed spitting in the face of umpire John Hirschbeck. Alomar was aruguing a called third strike and everyone knows when you argue balls and strikes nothing good is going to come out of it. Alomar was indeed ejected and after this game in Spetember of 1996 Hirschbeck and Alomar were in a tustle in the clubhouse fighting over the same issue.
I conclude with my personal favorite incident in terms of blowups at the umpire.
We all know Lou Pinella is the flagship manager when it comes to umpire arguments. His long tenure of dirt kicking, yelling and fighting and base tossing has been well documented. However back in 2001 Pirate manager Lloyd McClendon one upped Pinella.
Legendary Llyod was perturbed when first base ump Rick Reed called Jason Kendall out on a bang-bang play at first base. We all know the classic phrase “tie gos to the runner” and McClendon surely heard of it too. When he was explaining the age old baseball statement to Reed, Mac believed the ump was off his marbles for calling Kendall out. McClendon showed that maybe he was the one off his marbles when he ripped out first base from the ground and trotted off with it into the dugout. Once in the dugout he slammed it at a wall and made his way to the locker room. 2001 was the opening year for PNC Park and that moment christened the park liek no other stadium has been before. I still remember watching that game at home thinking how great of a scene it was. The crowd was going wild and ESPN flashed it up the next day all over Sportscenter.Llyod never got a chance to really show what he could do with the Pittsburgh ball club. He lit a fire under his squad but they always lacked the necessary talent to even come close to being good.
Zambrano better be suspended and fined for his actions on Wednesday. The above mentioned antagonists all were suspended and fined. I’ve never been a fan of Zambrano. He is a thug and needs to learn how to control his emotions. After his incident on Wednesday he has now earned a spot on my hate list of 2009. Ryan Braun is already on there and now space has been made for Carlos.
espn.com/AP Photos, bostondirtdogs.com, cbsnews.com, espn.com page 2
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