Friday, August 29, 2008

Random Ramblings

Time for a few Random Ramblings............

It is not hard to believe that Scott Boras has sunk to new lows in attempting to change the contract situation with Pedro Alvarez.
I still like the Pirates stance in this one,both legally and morally.
Scott Boras is( simply put) a cancer on both the game and business of baseball.
I would think being hated by so many people would bother Boras,but it won't.
Boras would probably agree with the statement once made by Terry Knight,the former manager of Grand Funk Railroad-"People put the black hat on me and that is fine-as long as I keep wearing the black hat to the bank every week".
Nothing that I could add would better resemble Scott Boras.

Reader Jason Christensen sends us this note on the California Leagues two teams not coming to the Carolina League for 2009.
Looks like the leagues settled on the language without figuring out the logistics on where,when etc.
The article does follow up on the likelihood of Richmond joining the Eastern League.

Bill Cover sends us word that the move will happen,but for 2010.
Baseball America reports that Bakersfield will certainly be one of the teams and High Desert is most likely to be the other.

Former Oklahoma basketball star and current jazz (not Utah) star Wayman Tisdale recently had part of his right leg amputated.
Tisdale played 12 years in the NBA and was a member of the 1984 Olympic winning basketball team.
One of my favorite games in my video collection features Tisdale against Keith Lee and the Memphis State Tigers in the 1985 Midwest Regional Final in Dallas.
Great game and best wishes on a speedy recovery for Wayman!

The Cleveland Browns have been mentioned with two big name veterans recently,but only seem to have interest in one.
Cornerback Ty Law has been mentioned by Romeo Crennel as a possiblity if the finances are right,while wideout Joe Horn has shown interest in Cleveland,but the Browns don't appear to return the interest.
Too bad as I think Horn could be a good fit in the slot position for Cleveland,especially with their recent injuries.

I have watched some of the MSNBC coverage of the Democratic convention and despite my own political ideals and agreement on some of the things said,I cannot disagree more with their coverage.
Keith Olbermann is out of his element when he is not doing Countdown and when you are the anchor,you should leave your opinions (whether I agree with them or not) out of the broadcast.
It is to the point of watching the unedited,unopinionated coverage of C-Span for this family.
Politico offers some tidbits on this issue and the behind the scenes problems that this is causing.

One pundit that I am always impressed with is CNN's Gloria Borger.
Borger always seems to approach things from an interesting perspective and usually comes up with new information as well.

Real Time with Bill Maher returns for its fall run tonight.
Glad to see the always thought provoking program back to the cablewaves!

The Ashland Arrows travel to Bellevue to battle the Bellevue Redmen in what should be a much sterner test than last week against Willard.

The Pirates start a three game weekend series against the Brewers tonight at PNC Park.
The Pirates hope to fare better than they did last week in Milwaukee.

Pitching Matchup
Milwaukee:David Bush (8-9 4.24 ERA) at Pittsburgh:Tom Gorzelanny (6-8 6.82 ERA) 7:05

Photo Credits
Helmets;Ohio Helmet Project

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ohio State preview

The Ohio State Buckeyes enter the 2008 season considered as one of the top three teams in the country(Depending on the poll) and seem to have the talent available to make another National Championship run.

Ohio State likely bloomed a bit earlier than expected in last seasons surprise visit to the BCS title game and figured that this was the season that was more likely to produce a championship.

Todd Boeckman returns at quarterback after a series of late season struggles.
Boeckman will need to produce early,especially in the USC game to take the pressure off Chris Wells.
Former Pirate farmhand Joe Bauserman backs up as does the heralded freshman Terrell Pryor.
Pryor will see action,but likely in specialty situations and lopsided affairs.

Chris Wells is the leading candidate for the Heisman at tailback.
The 6'1 junior from Akron should be the top runner in the country and should make the Buckeye ground attack second to none.
Speedy sophomore Brandon Saine and senior Maurice Wells should get plenty of time as well along with freshman Daniel Herron.

Fullback brings a few questions as two relatively untested seniors battle for the job.
Brandon Smith and Ryan Lukens should both play often as they continue to slug it out for playing time.

The Wide Receivers are strong with senior Brian Robiskie and junior Brian Hartline returning as starters.
Robiskie should be a top contender for the Biletnikoff award for the top pass catcher.
Hartline will continue to be the Buckeye go to guy on short passing situations.
Junior Ray Small is solid at the third wideout and sophomore Dane Sanzenbacher should see some passes as well.

Two huge tight ends give Boeckman large targets and surprisingly soft hands in senior Rory Nicol and junior Jake Ballard.
Ballard ,in particular,was playing especially well at the end of 2007.
Both will be quite active this season.

The offensive line lost just one starter and should be a strength of the squad.
Senior tackle Alex Boone anchors the line that feature two other seniors in guards Steve Rehring and Ben Person with junior Jim Cordle returning at center.
Sophomore Bryant Browning will attempt to fill the shoes of NFL bound Kirk Barton at the other offensive tackle.

The defensive line will need to step up this season as rushing the passer was an issue in several games down the stretch in 2007.
The ends are the proven position with Lawrence Wilson returning from an early season broken leg and powerhouse soph Cameron Heyward commandeering those spots.
Look for Rob Rose and speed rusher Thad Gibson to see the field often as well.
The tackles are less inspiring as Nader Abdullah,Doug Worthington and Todd Denlinger need to improve this season after mediocre 2007 efforts.
Worthington has the most talent of the three and shows flashes of dominance,but does not always sustain his efforts and had some off the field problems in the off season.

The Linebackers have no such worries with All-Univerise James Laurinaitis manning the position.
The senior from Minnesota is the best linebacker that I have ever seen at Ohio State and that covers a lot of ground.
There is other talent surrounding Laurinaitis as well with senior Marcus Freeman and the next OSU All-American in sophomore Ross Homan.
Homan will be the the player that we will be bragging on in 2009.

The secondary lost two talented players for the first two games as Donald Washington and Jamario O'Neal was miss them for disciplinary reasons.
Washington will battle soph Chimdi Chekwa to regain his starting spot on one corner,while senior Malcolm Jenkins is firmly entrenched on the other.
Juniors Kurt Coleman and Anderson Russell are solid at the safeties with O'Neal appearing in multi-back sets.

Speedy running backs Brandon Saine and Daniel Herron should be the kickoff return team and Brian Hartline should split punt duties with Ray Small.

Ryan Pretorius and Aaron Pettrey both return to continue their years long war for the kicking position.
Pretorius has the edge,but Pettrey will get some attempts.
A.J.Trapasso is back as the punter.

The Buckeyes most heralded hurdle is the early season hurdle is the game at USC,but two other games look large to me.
At Wisconsin is always tough and the Badgers look to be the main competition in the Big Ten.
The other sleeper is at Michigan State as Mark D'antonio knows the Bucks well.
That one could be the proverbial trap game.

Lets go with 11-1 and another Big Ten title.
Running the table is so hard and it is so tough to predict perfection.....................

Photo Credit

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Cubs sweep out of Pittsburgh,Scott Boras is slime!

I was going to post last night about the Pirates meltdown,but with an early start today,I figured that I would cover all three games at once.

In a series that featured a rear kicking in Game 1,a late inning letdown in Game 2 and an anemic offense in today's Game 3,one thing was the common thread through all three-Cubs win Pirates lose.

Game one featured former Bucco Aramis Ramirez crushing a homer among his 3 RBI and the struggling Kosuko Fukodome adding four more as the Cubs cruised to a 12-3 win.
Jeff Karstens lost his three start in a row (2-3) as he lasted just three innings and allowed five runs.
His relief was not as effective as Karstens as Jason Davis allowed five runs in two innings.
All three Pirate runs came off homers from Brandon Moss (solo 4) and Adam LaRoche (two run shot 18).
Otherwise,not much else to say.

Game two was an affair that highlighted the awful bullpen as the Buccos lost three leads over the course of the game and allowed seven Chicago runs in the eighth in a 14-9 Cubs win.
The main culprit was Craig Hansen,who paid the price at games end with a ticket to Indianapolis.
Hansen (0-2) pitched to four batters,allowing a single and then walking the next three batters before being lifted from the game.
Hansen was able to put his fist down the middle of the dugout water cooler,which was the first thing he was able to put over the middle of anything on this day.
Only Matt Capps of the seven Pittsburgh pitchers was able to have an stint in this game without allowing a run.
That,my friends,is downright pathetic.
Although perhaps not as pathetic as Geovany Soto of the Bruins having seven RBI on the night.
But the offense was hitting for a change as six Pirates batted in a run with Adam LaRoche and Doug Mienkiewicz leading the way with two each.

If a few runs of those runs from Tuesday had been saved for the following game,Zach Duke's best effort in a while would not have been wasted in a 2-0 series sweeping win for the Cubbies.
Duke allowed two seventh inning runs and nothing else in his eight innings of work,but the offense was unable to dent Jason Marquis at all.
Duke fell to 4-13 with the defeat.
Raul Chavez led the Pirates with two of their five hits.
Jesse Chavez made his Pittsburgh debut with a scoreless ninth.
Chavez was the replacement for the demoted Craig Hansen and finally is getting an overdue chance.
I am not sure that Chavez will perform well,but his numbers indicate maybe and how many times do we seen Flammable Frankie Osoria,Marino Salas and Romulo Sanchez to know that it would not hurt to try someone else.

Bullpen Notes

Scott Boras is challenging the Pirates contract agreement with Pedro Alvarez as being null and void.
I plan on getting into more detail on this in a post later tonight,but allow me to say three things.
One) I back Frank Coonelly and the Pirates 100 percent on this matter.
Two) Boras has no case other than attempting to save face for himself.
Three) Scott Boras has very little chance to beating Frank Coonelly in any thing that involves law.

Ten players of the pre-1943 ERA will be considered for the Baseball Hall of Fame's Veterans Committee on December 7.
The candidate that I would like to see be admitted was the big righthander Allie Reynolds.
Reynolds won 182 games in a career that spanned 1943 to 1954 and Reynolds left the game with plenty of action left in his arm as his final season consisted of a solid 13-4 record with an ERA of 3.34.
Reynolds never had a season (other than a two game cameo in 1942) without reaching double digits in wins in his seasons with Cleveland and New York.
Reynolds was a big game pitcher too as he complied a 7-2 record with an ERA of 2.79 in 15 World Series starts.
Reynolds made six All-Star teams and in each of his last three seasons as well.
If Reynolds makes it into the Hall,look for a Forgotten Superstar feature coming up.

Look for more on Scott Boras coming up and a preview of the Ohio State Buckeyes soon as well.
The Buckeyes open against Youngstown State on Saturday.

Photo Credits
Ramirez and Hansen:Keith Srakocic-AP Photo
Chavez:Nancy Zinni

Monday, August 25, 2008

Minor League Shakeup and You can't contain Mike Cameron!

Mike Cameron went five for five off Pittsburgh pitching and J.J. Hardy's single ended the game in the 12th inning as the Milwaukee Brewers polished off the Pirates for the 12th game in a row at Miller Park with a 4-3 win.
Jason Davis was the loser (1-4) and was able to only retire one Milwaukee batter in the defeat.
I feel really bad for Paul Maholm,who pitched very well against arguably the NL's best pitcher in C.C. Sabathia and deserved a win.
Maholm allowed a very high 12 hits,but on three occasions worked his way out of tough spots and showed a veterans poise.
In the third,the lefty was able to escape a bases loaded,no out situation without allowing a run.
Pittsburgh scored the first run of the game in the fifth on a Ryan Doumit single and after falling behind 2-1 tied the game in the seventh.
Nyjer Morgan's bloop single plated Freddy Sanchez to even the score before Cameron's homer in the eighth gave the Brewers the lead back.
Nate McLouth came off the bench in the ninth to swat a pinch hit single off our old friend Gas Can Torres to complete the Pittsburgh scoring and the games total until the 12th.
John Russell and Adam LaRoche were ejected in the sixth for arguing an absolutely awful strike three call on LaRoche.
Nice to see a bit of fire from the usually sober Russell.
The Pirates return home tonight for a series against the powerful Chicago Cubs.

The Pirates also received their PTBNL from the Blue Jays for Jose Bautista.
He is catcher Robinson Diaz from Toronto's AAA affiliate in Syracuse.
Diaz was once thought to be a hot prospect and the catcher of the future in Canada,but has suffered through an injury plagued season and had fallen behind in the catcher laden Toronto system that includes J.P. Arenicbia,Brian Jeroloman and Curtis Thigpen.

Pitching Matchup
Chicago:Ted Lilly (12-7 4.25 ERA) at Pittsburgh:Jeff Karstens (2-2 2.25 ERA) 7:05

Minor League Bullpen Notes

Ballpark Digest is reporting a MAJOR shakeup in the local minors today.
The Bowie Baysox (Baltimore AA) will be moving to the vacancy in Richmond,while the Connecticut Defenders will then move to Bowie to replace the Baysox.
This keeps AA baseball in Bowie,but will cost them the valued local affiliation with the Baltimore Orioles.
I can hear the next question now,"But Shawn,why doesn't Connecticut just move to Richmond"?
Well,here is where the Carolina League comes into the scenario.
The rumored two team move from the California League looks to be coming true and one of the teams will play temporarily in Newport News Va.
Newport News is in the territory of Norfolk,so the Tides (AAA) have to agree to sign a waiver.
The owner of the Tides owns the Baysox,so in order for him to sign the waiver,he was to be pacified and given the Richmond market.
Confused?Thought so.

The big loser in this maneuvering is Connecticut losing their team,but Bowie does not exactly win either as their attendance could drop as their affiliation moves from the Orioles to another team.

The big winners are the two cities that will enter the Carolina League,the two MLB teams that will be able to do the same (the Carolina League is the Cadillac of High A ball) and the autograph chasers that will get to have two extra teams come to town each season!

Talked to an anonymous source that told us that the head of Mandalay Baseball operations was at Friday's game at the Muni and has rumored as saying that the new GM for the Hagerstown Suns will likely be coming from outside the current organization.
Don't run with that one just yet,this source has been about 50/50 in their success rate in the past.

And finally a great article on the history of Ernie Shore Field in Winston-Salem as it approaches its end in minor league baseball/
The Warthogs will be moving into a brand new park in Winston-Salem and will be changing their name as well.

Photo Credits
Cameron:Darren Hauck-AP Photo
Ernie Shore Field-Lauren Carroll-Winston-Salem Journal

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Braun flexes muscles as Milwaukee bounces Bucs

Tom Gorzelanny was not awful,but not good either.
Ryan Braun was excellent.
Combine the two and you have a 6-3 Milwaukee win over the Pirates at Miller Park.
Gorzelanny lasted four and two thirds in his return to the rotation from Indianapolis and really didn't look that bad.
Not good,mind you,but gave some hope that a rebound could be on its way for the lefthander.
If he could have gotten Braun out,the evening would not have been that bad.
Braun homered and doubled off Gorzelanny in the 4th and 5th which produced three runs and sent Gorzo from the game.
Adam LaRoche hit his 17th homer in the sixth in the only offensive Buc highlight.
The series concludes today at 2:05

Pitching Matchup
Pittsburgh:Paul Maholm (8-7 3.64 ERA) at Milwaukee:C.C.Sabathia (14-8 2.99 ERA) 2:05

Bullpen Note

A slow day and a busy one for me with my fantasy draft later today.

Just wanted to acknowledge a very nice lady that I met at the Muni yesterday.
Her name was Gloria,it was a pleasure to speak with her and help her a bit with getting the signature of Oriole prospect Sean Gleason.

Until tomorrow,where I will have more substance!

Photo Credit
Running the bases:Darren Hauck-AP Photo

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Bernie Brewer gets slide burns

Bernie Brewer must have injured his skin in the seventh inning with burns from sliding so often as the Brewers cruised to a 10-4 win over the Pirates.
The game was close going into the Brewer seventh at 4-3,but neither Denny Bautista or Sean Burnett could stop the Milwaukee offense as six runs crossed the plate for the Brewers.
Zach Duke allowed four runs in six innings and was credited with another loss in dropping to 4-12.
The Pirates led two to nothing early as Ryan Doumit's first inning fielders choice and Duke's single in the second each produced a run.
It was pretty much a rear kicking from there on with the exception of a seventh inning homer by Brandon Moss (3) that brought the Pirates within one run.
I missed the game due to the late start (central time),but tonight's game starts an hour earlier,so will be able to see this one.

Pitching Matchup
Pittsburgh:Tom Gorzelanny (6-7 6.57 ERA) at Milwaukee:Jeff Suppan (8-7 4.62 ERA) 7"05

Bullpen Notes

As you gleaned from above,the Pirates have recalled Tom Gorzelanny from Indianapolis.
Romulo Sanchez was returned to the I-Tribe.

Matt Capps will also return to the roster today and someone must go to make room,but no announcement as of this writing.

Before yesterday's loss,Doug Mientkiewicz was placed back on the roster from the bereavement list and Steve Pearce was returned to Indianapolis.
I was disappointed that Pearce was sent down instead of Nyjer Morgan until I found out that Nate McLouth is fighting off Mono and Morgan is needed to play center.
I understand it,but still feel that Pearce needs to have as many at bats as possible.

The Ashland Arrows crushed the visiting Willard Crimson Flashes 51-13 in Ashland behind a school rushing record by Shane Kipp.
Kipp ripped off 323 yards on 23 carries to lead the Arrows to the win and added four touchdowns to boot.
Ashland will receive a sterner test next Friday in the Bellevue Redmen.

The New Jersey Devils placed veteran Vitali Vishnevski on waivers yesterday.
The hard hitting veteran spent just one year in New Jersey,scoring two goals with five assists.
Devils GM Lou Lamoriello saved some space on the salary cap release and continues to clear extra room for possible deals as the season progresses.

I spoke to a source about the Hagerstown Suns not releasing their schedule as early as other teams and the answer was that they release in September.
It seems to me that it is later than that,but I could be mistaken.
I also brought up the fact that Rome and Charleston had released their sked for 2009.
The retort was that a rule was thought to be in place that prohibits a release until after August 30th.
If that is the case,there are many teams violating that rule!

A terrific article over at Wooden's World of Baseball looks at the bias that the affiliated baseball world has toward those on the Independent circuit.
As someone that admits to having such biases,it is certainly thought provoking.

And finally,a brief shout out to Suns fan "Tony Clifton".
This is not the real Tony Clifton,one of the late Andy Kaufman's alter egos,just a guy that attends all the Suns games and looks just like the Clifton character.
He is not an obnoxious fan or anything,but just seeing him at the games makes me think of all the laughs that Kaufman and manager Bob Zmuda gave me from one of my all time favorites!

This clip is from the Andy Kaufman movie,not the "real" Tony Clifton.


Until tomorrow

Photo Credits
Brewers:Darren Houck-AP Photo

Friday, August 22, 2008

Getting caught up-Everything else version

Time to finish off the house cleaning,so things can get back to normal.

The Cleveland Browns weakest link was at the cornerback position and they were burned often in their last pre-season game against the Giants.
So Phil Savage attempted to do something about it and shipped (you guessed it) another draft choice to the Miami Dolphins for corner Travis Daniels.
No word on what pick is headed to Miami,but if it is a 2009 (likely) pick,Savage will have already traded three of the Browns seven picks after moving his first three picks in the 2008 draft.
I know the Browns are the chic' pick to be the surprise AFC playoff team,but I am really wondering about Phil Savage and if he even has a plan for the future.
The Browns had better be as good as people think they will be-for Savage's sake!

Daniels is in his fourth NFL season after being a fourth round pick from LSU in the 2005 draft.
Daniels has started at times,but has mainly been used as a nickel or dime back.
Looks like a quality depth guy,but not someone to comfortable with as your every down starter.

A quick question for the Hagerstown Suns.
Why is it that other teams in the SAL are releasing their 2009 schedules now and the Suns never seem to do so until the winter months?
I have always wondered why late in the season,the Frederick Keys are actually handing out 2009 early bird schedules and the Suns never issue anything on the next season until the next calendar year.
It takes so much work to put together the Hagerstown schedule when you do it piece by piece from the other teams sites.
I know that Rome is coming here next year and that Charleston is not from their web pages.
C'mon guys just release it and be done with it!

1980 Kentucky Derby winner Genuine Risk passed away in Virginia at the age of 31 recently.
The filly became the first female to win the derby since Regret in 1915 and was one of the most popular horses of her time.

The Ashland Arrows kick off their 2008 season at Community Stadium against the visiting Willard Crimson Flashes.
Coverage here tomorrow.

On Tuesday,we traveled to Frederick to see the Lynchburg Hillcats for the final time in 2008.
It was a great night as I was able to get every card that I had for the Hillcats signed,a short time to visit with Eric Krebs and Mike Crotta,a Lynchburg win and Rachel even traveled to the Frederick side to get Keys prospect Billy Rowell to sign a few cards for me.
Crotta talked about his improved performance over his last few starts (which continued with a win the following night) and his starts against the Keys earlier in the year.
We talked with Mike about Matt Wieters and he joked "Well,he hit about half of his homers off us,so we are glad he is gone!".
Crotta then followed up with "I gave up some of of those,so I can say those things"!

We then talked to Eric Krebs about his being hit with the line drive in the head and that we had asked Jared Hughes about it when we saw him in Harrisburg.
Eric explained how hard the ball was smashed and that it was measured at well over 100 MPH off the bat and on contact.
He told us about being in two hospitals in the DC area for the next few days,was then allowed to return home to Texas for a bit before tuning up in Bradenton for his return to Lynchburg.
I then asked Eric if the story that Hughes had told us was true,where Krebs told the trainer that he wanted to stay in the game after taking such a tremendous shot.
The reply was classic-"Yeah,I told him that,but I didn't mean it'!!!

The game was a good one too.
Lynchburg took a 4-2 lead into the ninth,but Fredercik quickly tied the game off Dustin Molleken at 4 and the game looked over with the bases loaded and just one out.
Here comes Krebs from the pen to try to salvage extra innings against Jason White.
White skies a fly ball to right fielder Miles Durham and with Todd Davison tagging the game looked over.
One problem-Durham didnt see it that way as he gunned the ball to the plate to throw out Davison and send the game to extra frames.
As Battlin Bob and I rejoiced (Cherie said she heard us on the other side of the stadium),Krebs had done his job.
Kent Sakamoto then drilled a ball over the wall in the Hillcat 10th for a lead that Krebs would not relinquish and Lynchburg (and Krebs) grabbed a victory 5-4.

Great night at the ballpark!!!

On the signing front
As I mentioned earlier,I was able to add every player that I needed.
Notable pickups were Brian Friday,Daniel Moskos,Miles Durham (who had several cards that I needed from the last three years) and Tony Watson.
Another pickup was outfielder Mike Goetz.
Goetz was a recent signee from Independent ball and seemed shocked that I had a card of his.
Goetz said "I figured no one would have a Helena Brewer card and sure enough you did!".

Thanks to a few people with some help on cards.
Rachel for getting Billy Rowell and to Dave Sloan for his help with the Jupiter Hammerheads on his recent trip to Florida.
Dave was able to add most of the Hammerheads,most notably the red hot (and personal favorite) Logan Morrison among others.
Thanks again!

Until next time!

Photo Credits
Daniels:Preston Keres-Washington Post
Krebs:John Setzler Jr.
Helmets:Ohio Helmet Project

Getting caught up-Pirates version

Missed the last few days for many reasons,so I will try to catch up now.
Look for posts on my trip to Wilmington,Delaware when I have time.

I did not get to see either of the Pirate games against the Cardinals,as I was in Frederick for the former and Wilmington for the latter.
The Pirates split the series with El Birdos,as they won the first game 4-1 behind Ian Snell's (?) seven shutout innings and were swatted aside in the second 11-2.

Snell's numbers were indicative of a return to form as he improved to 5-10 on the year,struck out 8 and most importantly only walked one.
Snell's lack of command has been his biggest problem this season,as he has been off the plate and then forced to bring in the fastball.
The Pirates led 1-0 for most of the game before a three run ninth.
T.J. Beam was able to get the final out to earn his first save.

The second game looked miserable as Jason Davis (1-3) was smacked around to the tune of eight runs in less than four innings.
Ryan Doumit hit his 13th homer for Pittsburgh in losing to the Cards Todd Wellemeyer for the third time this season.

The Pirates are in Bernie Brewerville for three games over the weekend.
I will likely miss tonight's game as I return to work from vacation and those great 8:05 starts hurt the chances of looking at the tape.

Pitching Matchup
Pittsburgh:Zach Duke (4-11 5.26 ERA) at Milwaukee:David Bush (7-9 4.26 ERA) 8:05

The Pirates recalled Tom Gorzelanny from Indianapolis to possibly return to the rotation.
Zach Duke could be in trouble in keeping his spot with another bad outing tonight.

The Bucs also sent the unhappy Jose Bautista to the Blue Jays for the famous player to be named later.
Toronto needed a third baseman to replace the loss of Scott Rolen with yet another injury.

This brings the total of PTBNL to three over the off season.
One each from Toronto (Bautista),Boston (Josh Wilson) and Seattle (Craig Wilson).
The Pirates will owe the Indians a player in the Jason Michaels deal.

I would hope that the Pirates will get at least a low level prospect for these guys in an long shot attempt to pan gold.
All too often under the Captain's management they would settle for a cash payment.

Back later this afternoon with more inbox cleanup,a look at our visit to Frederick for Lynchburg's final local trip,a quick look at the Ashland Arrows opener tonight and a question for the Hagerstown Suns that I am not sure they will have an answer for.

Photo Credit
Logo:Chris Creamer

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Pearce single avoids sweep

John Maine didn't seem to have much of his quality stuff yesterday,but for five innings it kept the Pirates off balance.
Pittsburgh was able to make hay against the Met bullpen for 5 runs over the last 4 innings and dodge the sweep attempt by the Mets in a 5-2 win at PNC Park.
Paul Maholm allowed the Mets a run in the second and another in the fourth before Adam LaRoche tied the game with his 16th homer in the sixth inning.
Maholm would not be involved with the decision after seven innings of pitching.
Maholm allowed the two runs with just five hits,four strikeouts and three walks.
The Bucs were able to use three Met bullpenners to score three runs in the eighth to break the tie.
Steve Pearce gave the lead to Pittsburgh with a single down the third base line that scored LaRoche and Jack Wilson followed up with a double that scored Jason Michaels and Pearce to add some room for comfort.
Sean Burnett earned the victory (1-1) for getting the wild Tyler Yates out of a bases loaded jam in the eighth and John Grabow grabbed save number four after pitching the ninth.
The Pirates travel to St.Louis for two games there before a three game series in Milwaukee.

Pitching Matchup
Pittsburgh:Ian Snell (4-10 5.91 ERA) at St.Louis:Braden Looper (11-9 4.07 ERA) 8:05

Bullpen Notes

The game yesterday was only on the Mets network and two thoughts on that.
One:The Mets announcers are really whiny.
Especially Keith Hernandez,who makes excellent points when he isn't bitching about something.
Two:Why does FSN Pittsburgh never show any of the afternoon weekday games?
Their argument is that most people are working and the ratings would be low.
My argument is that whatever watches has to be more than infomercials and the best damn whatever..............

In a story released today,Will Smith has left the Hagerstown Suns for the AA Trenton Thunder.
I knew about this a few days ago,but was requested to keep it quiet from the person telling me this.
I did so.
I have never had a personal issue with Will Smith,although I have been critical of him here at times.
There are things that I wish he had done differently,but now that is now in the past.
Best wishes and congratulations to Will and his family..

Look for a post soon that will be concerning the vacancy in Hagerstown and why the next hire could be the most critical that the franchise has ever made.

On the signing front.
Ebay pickups:former ABA and NBA center Artis Gilmore and Devils David Clarkson,Jamie Langenbrunner and Travis Zajac.
From this weekends card show:Tom Gorzelanny,A dual auto of Gorzelanny and Freddy Sanchez,Steve Pearce and Browns Pro Bowler tackle Joe Thomas.

Until tomorrow with Pirates-Cards and tonights trip to Frederick for Hillcats vs Keys.

Photo Credits
LaRoches:Matt Freed-Pittsburgh Post Gazette
Gilmour: me

On the Road:Harrisburg

Recently as part of this summers attempt to see all the Pirate minor league affiliates,we traveled to Harrisburg to see the visiting Altoona Curve (Pittsburgh AA) against the hometown Harrisburg Senators.
Usually we travel to Altoona to see the Curve,but after Battlin Bob's autograph issues last year with a Curve usher,we decided to try Harrisburg as a way to see another stadium and perhaps make signing easier for us and them.

The visiting team is almost always easier to get things signed from.
I have always wondered why that is so,one would think the home team could use the PR aspect,but my best guess is that so many more children go after the home team and rarely bother the visitors.
Just a theory.

In any event,the trip from Hagerstown was easy,fast and direct.
Battlin Bob drove and he had been here before,so it was not problem for him.
The fast part?Not so sure Bob found it so fast as I thought so because I slept half the way there after getting off work just a few hours before.
Upon arriving on City Island,which really is a small island accessible from the city by bridge,we found (as Battlin Bob had told me) that the hike from the parking lot was quite a trek.
It includes lots of steps to reach Commerce Bank Park,so if you are bringing kids or people that have problems with lots of walking,keep that in mind.

The stadium (being on a island) is surrounded by water,so the Susquehanna River runs parallel to the park and is very visible when waiting in line for tickets along the left field line.
The river is especially attractive when leaving the stadium at night as the Harrisburg skyline really lights up the river and its bridges.

Harrisburg is planning to begin a renovation this off season,so I wanted to see a game there before the work started.
It is a pretty basic late 80's (1987) facility and it shows its age in spots.
The Senators do not really have a "team shop" as it is more like a trailer that had everything marked and you ask the employee to get what you want to buy.
I would imagine that might be the first thing that gets finished for the 2009 campaign.
A pro and con for the Harrisburg souvenir area.
Pro:Plenty of 3XL shirts!
I didn't get one,but it is rare to have big guys size shirts in just about every design,
Smart thinking.
Con:Only carried the Senators set and no Eastern League top prospects either.

Seating has three levels with a box (10),middle range (8) and general admission (6).
Battlin Bob and I bought the middle range and regretted it as some of the metal bars were visual obstructions.
We spent most of the night in GA with Ryan and Joe Plum making a cameo appearance. which included him catching a foul ball on a bounce.
Boxes (very close to the field) or General Admission is the way to go.

Harrisburg also features some of the friendliest ushers that we have seen as well.
They guided us to the best area to talk to the Altoona players for autographs and gave us the lay of the land up front.
We could stay as long as we wanted in the box seat area until the umpires walked onto the field.
When the Blue comes out,we then had to leave.
Terrific work there!

You have to choose which team that you want to work for the evening as the clubhouses are connected to the dugout and we (of course) chose Altoona.
I had an Altoona and Lynchburg set (for those that had been called up) and hoped to get what I could.
We were able to get Jamie Romak first and asked him why he wasn't on the Canadian Olympic baseball team.
He grinned and said "I wasn't asked!"
Romak then said that some of the qualifying camps were when he was injured at the beginning of the year so he wasn't able to participate in those.
When you are dealing with Olympic committees you have to jump through every hoop.
Next was Battlin Bob's favorite Brad Corley,who is always accomodating and I told him that he hit one of the longest two homers in Hagerstown over the last four years (Justin Maxwell was the other).
Corley replied "Which one?The one to left or the one to center"?
Don't let anyone tell you that players forget as soon as the game is over!
Brad then talked about how difficult the Muni is for power numbers and I told him that he should have seen it 15 years ago!
I was able to get everyone that was in the Lynchburg set signed and some of the Altoona guys.
Players included Jim Negrych,Shelby Ford,James Boone,Pat Bresnahan and Jeff Sues.
Sues always seemed to be a guy that I missed out for various reasons and was nice to finally get him.
I told Jeff that and he said that it will get worse because he was moved up too late to be in Altoona's set,yet was moved before Lynchburg's came out.
Therefore,he has no cards for 2008.

Blair Johnson then ran up to me and hollered "hey,Shawn,what are you doing up here?" and talked for about five minutes about his callup,seeming to finally get healthy for the first time in quite a while and signed his Hillcat card.
As he moved away,he turned around and said "how do you like my bag?".
The bullpen ball bag was pink with pictures of the Bratz dolls all over it and the Curve bullpen makes the pitcher with the least seniority carry the Bratz bag.
I told him it was lovely and that he would be done with it soon enough.
Blair has always been a class act and it is nice to see him move up the ladder.

This was the first Altoona game for Jose Tabata and we had never seen him before,so we were unsure what to expect.
His signing reputation had not been good,but as has been noted in the past-Yankee and Red Sox prospects can grow tired of the autograph scene really fast.
Jose didn't say much,but signed the card that I had and a ball for the Battler and that was good enough for us!

As we moved to our seats,we saw Jared Hughes,who had made his Altoona debut the night before and was charting.
We talked to him for a bit about the callup and we would catch up with him after the game to sign his card and chat further.
We got closer to our seats and saw Cory Van Allen,charting for the Senators and talked for a bit and would get his cards signed later as well.

The game was kinda blah,a 6-2 Senator win.
Not really memorable other than Jose Tabata showing flashes of his ability,as he slid under a Zach Segovia tag on a wild pitch and uncorking a great throw that almost gunned down a Senator at the plate.
Yoslan Herrera started for Altoona and was hammered,while Jeff Sues replaced him and left after two batter with an injury.
Sues just cant catch a break.

After the game,we were able to talk to both pitchers.
Van Allen signed two cards and an SAL ball.
Cory has also begun to add a bible verse to the card as well.
Jared talked to us about the trade with the Yankees and the arms brought into the system.
He said that it made him wonder,but yet the competition was something that he enjoyed and looked forward to as he can only control his performance and no one elses.
Jared also talked about the night that Eric Krebs was hit in the face at Potomac.
He said the ball smacked off his face so hard that it bounced to the third baseman position.
Krebs told the trainer that he was fine and wanted to stay in and pitch!!!
Jared said the ball was measured at 140 MPH off the bat!

All in all,Harrisburg is a good autograph park,average for watching a game,nothing special,but not awful.
Reasonably priced food,but you miss the game while you stand in line.
Not bad to get in and out of and the fans were pretty well behaved.
I would say that I liked it enough to make a Altoona and Akron game next year against the Senators.

Photo Credits
Ryan Heimberger

Monday, August 18, 2008

Anemic offense=2 losses

The Pirates bats were made of less than stellar materials for 17 of 18 innings over the weekend and the one inning that they were able to do some damage meant little as they were too far behind to make a difference in dropping both games to the New York Mets.

On Saturday,Zach Duke spotted the Big Cesspool gang four runs after just two innings and left carrying the loss 7-4 (4-11) having allowed 6 runs over six innings.
Duke has not looked good over his last few starts and seems to have little movement on his pitches.
I would suspect that when Tom Gorzelanny returns from Indianapolis,he could be stepping into Duke's rotation spot.
If Jason Davis is able to continue his recent performance,the likelihood improves even more.
Pittsburgh did not reach the scoreboard until the sixth on an Andy LaRoche homer (4) that avoided a shutout until the late rally of three runs in the ninth.
Jack Wilson and Nate McLouth each hit RBI singles that were sandwiched around a wild pitch that scored the other run.

Johan Santana gave the Pirates evidence of his being the most dominant pitcher in baseball as he limited Pittsburgh to just 3 hits in a 4-0 Met win.
Jack Wilson led the Bucs with two of the three hits,while Andy LaRoche had the other.
LaRoche finished the game with more errors than hits as he butchered two grounders that fortunately didn't harm the Pirates.
Jeff Karstens (2-2) allowed four runs in six innings,while striking out 3 and walking one.
Karstens allowed three of his runs via the long ball as Brian Schneider hit a two run shot in the second and Carlos Beltran ended Karstens day on a sour note with a solo bomb in the sixth.

The Mets will attempt a royal flush at 12:35 before the Pirates hit the road for 5 games with two in St.Louis and three in Milwaukee.
Bernie Brewer,whoo hoo!!!

Pitching Matchup
New York:John Maine (10-7 3.97 ERA) at Pittsburgh:Paul Maholm:(8-7 3.69 ERA) 12:35

Bullpen Notes

In yesterdays game,Brandon Moss suffered an ankle sprain that looked more like an ankle break in the seventh inning.
It must have looked worse than it was as the Pirates said that Moss could return to the lineup in the Milwaukee series.
I was wondering who the callup would be if Moss was more severely injured,but it appears that will not be needed.

Here is Neal Huntington's words on not signing second rounder Tanner Scheppers.
Sorry about the tardiness,but was on the bottom of the inbox.

"We are disappointed that we were unable to reach an agreement with our second-round selection Tanner Scheppers, but we knew when we selected Tanner that we might not be in a position to sign him by the August 15 deadline. Despite the quality efforts of both parties, it became clear that Tanner's financial expectations were not in line with the risks presented by Tanner's current status as a pitcher in the early stages of a rehabilitation program following an injury to his throwing shoulder. Unfortunately, Tanner's rehabilitation program timeline changed dramatically from what his representative presented to us prior to the draft. Had Tanner been able to demonstrate that he was fully recovered from the injury he suffered towards the end of his 2008 season at Fresno State, we are confident that we could have found common ground on the economic terms of a contract. Selecting Tanner in the second round was a calculated risk from the outset. We knew when we selected him that, if he was able to show that he had recovered fully from his injury, we could have secured a first-round talent with our second-round selection. Because that did not happen, however, we will receive the 49th selection in next year's draft as compensation. We were willing to take the risk involved in selecting Tanner for two reasons. First, a club that is unable to sign its second-round selection now receives "same slot" compensation in the next draft. Second, we made the strategic decision to select several players with early round talent later in the draft regardless of their signability. As a result of this decision, we were able to sign two players, Robbie Grossman and Quinton Miller, each of whom received strong consideration with our second round selection."

I agree totally with both the decision and reasoning behind it.

And finally,a terrific article by our good friend,Wilbur Miller at on the Credibility gap that the Coonelly/Huntington crew are starting to bridge a bit with their recent moves.
Great work as always by Wilbur.
Wilbur will also be returning here for a discussion on the Pirates recent moves.
I am still undecided on whether I will run it as an interview or as a roundtable style with myself and maybe an additional person included.

Until later when I FINALLY get the promised post for Harrisburg up!

Photo Credits
All Photos:Keith Srakocic-AP Photo

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Pirates nipped by New York 2-1

Jason Davis had a rocky start in inning number one,but was excellent thereafter.
However,the two runs the Mets scored in the first inning were enough to hold off the Pirates in a 2-1 New York win.
The Pirates had chances off Mike Pelfrey,but squandered them on the bases.
Nate McLouth led off the sixth with a double,but was quickly caught in a rundown and thrown out on a comebacker to Pelfrey off the bat of Freddy Sanchez.
Adam LaRoche was thrown out at the plate by Carlos Beltran's throw in the seventh to lose another scoring chance.
The Pirates only run was off reliever Duaner Sanchez in the eighth on a Jack Wilson solo homer (1).
Jason Davis was very sharp in the innings after the first and finished the game with a solid seven innings,scattering only six hits and both walking and whiffing three Mets.
Davis fell to 1-2 with the tough luck loss.
The series second game is tonight at 7.

Pitching Matchup
New York:Pedro Martinez (3-3 5.37 ERA) at Pittsburgh:Zach Duke (4-10 5.10 ERA) 7:05

Bullpen Notes

Will someone please tell the New York Mets that their colors are Blue and Orange.
Their all black togs not only are ugly,but not even team colors!

Ballpark Digest is reporting that the Bowling Green/Lake County shift to the Midwest League is off and the schedule looks the same as usual.
I kinda wanted the teams to stay in the SAL,but would liked a better schedule.

The State College Spikes will send two players to the New York-Penn league All-Star game on Tuesday night.
Shortstop Chase D'Arnaud (3rd Round Pepperdine) and third baseman Jeremy Farrell (8th Round Virginia) will represent the Spikes.

Until tomorrow
Photo Credit
Wilson:Keith Srakocic-AP Photo

Huntington comes through! Alvarez a Pirate!

It went all the way to the wire,but Neal Huntington was able to wait out Scott Boras and sign the Pirates top pick in Vanderbilt third baseman Pedro Alvarez minutes before the signing deadline.
The news is even better for Pirate fans as Alvarez was signed to a minor league deal with a six million dollar bonus.
The bonus was actually smaller than the Giants gave to the fifth pick,Florida State catcher Buster Posey and showed that not only could the Pirates compete financially for top players,but that they will be reasonably responsible on the fiscal ledger as well.
No word on where Alvarez might appear,if anywhere for the last two weeks of the season,although if the Bucs want him to get an extra week of play in,he could be assigned to State College as their season ends a week later than the full season teams in the system.
Pedro becomes the top prospect in the system as soon as the deal is officially finished.
Check these highlights of the newest Pirate!

The Pirates were not able to come to terms with second round pick,Tanner Scheppers of Fresno State.
Scheppers was not near full health and simply overpriced himself for the risk of an inured player.
Scheppers can return to Fresno State for the 2009 season,will be eligible for the draft and the Pirates will not have any rights to him.
However,Pittsburgh will have a compensation pick early in the second round for losing Scheppers.
Again,full compliments to the staff on this one.
I would have liked to have seen Scheppers signed,but given a choice between a questionable health risk in Scheppers vs bringing in Robbie Grossman and Quinton Miller-I take the latter.
Every time.

I was hoping for one final signing from the mid to late rounds such as catcher Jason Haniger,pitcher Wesley Wright or third baseman Zack Wilson,but in all likelihood that wasn't going to happen.
Either the wait to the final whistle tactics of Boras killed that due to time constraints or perhaps the final move was made when Quinton Miller was signed,one doesn't know.

For the first time in a long time,I see light at the end of the tunnel in Pittsburgh.
Will all of these players turn out?
Of course not.
But the effort shown in attempting to truly bring in the "New Culture" that Neal Huntington and Frank Coonelly has talked about from day 1 and the financial backing that Bob Nutting has provided for the amateur draft has given me hope that at least there is a plan in place and the Pirates have smart people operating that plan.

The job is far from done.
Other than Alvarez,some of these players will not rocket through the system and now with many of the valuable marketing chips moved away (Jason Bay,Xavier Nady),the progress will not be as immediate or as noticeable to the casual fan.
The draft will need to continue to be attacked in the manner that was done in 2008.
Washington was similarly depleted in their farm system and for two seasons,seemed to be turning things around with an aggressive plan to restock the system.
They seem to have taken a step back in 2008 with a "slot" style draft and not signing their top pick in Missouri righty Aaron Crow.
The Pirates cannot afford to take that backwards step.
Keep attacking,Be aggressive in the draft,be forward thinking when you trade the veteran parts that still need to be moved and continue to try to build a contender and not fall into the trap for just being .500.

Great work and compliments to the Pirate front office and these last few weeks have made it fun to be a Pirate fan for the first time in a long while.

Back later with the Pirates loss to the Mets and anything I can scoop up.

Photo Credit
Huntington:Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Friday, August 15, 2008

Pirates add Quinton Miller

The Pirates have signed 20th round pitcher Quinton Miller away from his commitment to North Carolina and added another high upside pick to the system.
Miller signed for a 900,000 bonus and his college education paid for similar to yesterdays deal with Robbie Grossman.
Another excellent signing by the Pirates,although it does appear that Tanner Scheppers is going to be a tough sign.
I think that the Pirates did'nt like their chances of landing Scheppers today and decided to shovel the money saved into Miller and maybe another player.
As much as I would like to see Scheppers signed,I can see the logic of not overpaying.
He is not proven to be 100 percent healthy right now and wants top ten money.
If that money used to sign Miller,another player and then some leftover dough to help with Pedro Alvarez then I can live with that.
Plus that would give Pittsburgh two second rounders next year as the compensation for not signing Scheppers would be (likely) the third pick in Round 2.
Here is a video of Quinton Miller,if you want to take a look at the newest Pirate.
Good job thus far guys,lets get a few more before the gun goes off!!!

Photo Credit
Miller:Michael Wirtz-Philadelphia Inquirer

Just good enough to lose

Ian Snell pitched decently,but not well enough to win as the Reds won the rubber game of the three game series 3-1 as they left town.
Snell was handed a 1 run advantage in the first inning as Andy LaRoche singled home Freddy Sanchez.
That was as good as it got for Pittsburgh on this evening.
Javier Valentin took Snell deep in the second to tie the contest and Snell allowed the eventual winning run to score in the sixth on a Chris Dickerson double.
Snell (4-10) was through after six,allowing just six hits to go with an alarming 5 walks and a just as alarming 2 strikeouts.
The Reds added an insurance run in the ninth off T.J. Beam.
Snell just doesn't seem to be throwing as hard as last year for some reason and that (I think) is what is keeping the numbers down.
This makes a pitcher that is more of a power pitcher even more vulnerable and you see the results in action.
The Mets come to Pittsburgh for 4 starting tonight.

The signing deadline is now hours away and the Pirates are still dealing with Pedro Alvarez and his pain in the ass "Advisor" Scott Boras.
The Buccos are reportedly going down to the wire with Alvarez,second round pick Tanner Scheppers and a undisclosed player of the "tough sign"picks.
Here is hoping that the undisclosed player is a pitcher and that is likely the position of the mystery player.

Two players that Pittsburgh fans will not have to wonder about are Robbie Grossman (6th) and Drew Gagnon (10).
The good news was that the Pirates landed Grossman by far exceeding his "Slot" position and paying for his college education.
That was enough to have Grossman sign and renege on his commitment to the University of Texas.
Grossman will finish the season with the GCL Pirates in Florida.

Gagnon announced that he will pass on joining the Pirates and will instead honor his commitment to Long Beach State.
It would have been nice to sign Gagnon,but if the Pirates can nab another of the harder sign pitching draftees such as 20th rounder Quinton Miller,the loss would not be that major.

Good news and Bad news on the Robbie Grossman signing.
Good:It looks like the Pirates are telling the truth about spending money in the right manner.
They drafted a top 45 player in the 6th round and then brought him into the fold.
Nothing there that is not to love..

Bad:If this is used as a reason to not sign Pedro Alvarez and then pass off Grossman as their "actual" first rounder,then I take back all that I said and the commitment to winning can again be questioned.
The answer gets posted tomorrow.

Yahoo's Jeff Passan looks at Frank Coonelly,his past issues as the MLB draft enforcer and how they could be affecting the dealings with Scott Boras.

A few words on the Reds as I had to watch last nights game on the Reds broadcast,due to FSN Pittsburgh's breathless showing of pre-season football.

One,the Reds hats need to be all red and toss the black billed versions in the trash.
Two,I really like their road gray uniforms.
Three,I hate watching the Reds network because between every inning,they show spots for Skyline Chili (which I love) the official chili of the Reds.
This tends to make me want Skyline very quickly and with no possible way to have any!!!

Pitching Matchup
New York:Mike Pelfrey (10-8 4.11 ERA) at Pittsburgh:Jason Davis (1-1 1.38 ERA) 7:05

Photo Credits
Snell;Keith Srakocic-AP Photo
Grossman:Upper Deck

Thursday, August 14, 2008

3M leads win over the Reds

The 3M company (not the company that manufactured Tartan Turf,the original surface of Three Rivers Stadium) sent the Cincinnati Reds packing with a 5-2 Pirate win.
Paul Maholm allowed two solo homers,but little else in an excellent eight inning stint and improved to 8-7 on the season.
Jason Michaels (8) and Brandon Moss (2) each slammed solo homers of their own in the win.
John Grabow earned his third save with a scoreless ninth.

I do not have much else to comment on the game as I watched much of the game in fast forward mode due to a miserable night at work that included seven hours of sitting in the dark without power!

Pitching Matchup
Cincinnati:Johnny Cueto (7-11 5.01 ERA) at Pittsburgh:Ian Snell (4-9 6.06 ERA) 7:05

Bullpen Notes

Jose Bautista was the stunning choice to send to the Indianapolis Indians to make room for Adam LaRoche yesterday after the game.
Bautista is not Eddie Mathews or anything,but isn't he more valuable than either Chris Gomez or Luis Rivas???
Bautista seemed very angry afterwards and I cannot blame him.
I understand the Pirates playing Andy LaRoche over him at third and agree with the move,but this one is head scratching considering who they kept around.
Look for Pittsburgh and Bautista to part ways after the season.

The Pirates locked up the hero of the College World Series and their fifth round pick,lefty Justin Wilson to a contract before yesterday's game.
Wilson is expected to go to Bradenton and work out with the GCL Pirates,but is not expected to pitch for them for the rest of the season.
A very smart move on the Buccos part considering the high pitch count that Wilson has rolled up this season for Fresno State.
Wilson has been known to have occasional control issues,but seemed to be overcoming them at bit over this past season.
Take a look at his mechanics.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has a article on the unsigned draftees that focuses on more than Pedro Alvarez!
Tanner Scheppers (Round 2),Robbie Grossman (6) and Drew Gagnon (10) are also mentioned about their chances of signing.
If the Pirates could land all four of those and maybe 20th rounder Quinton Miller,I would be absolutely thrilled and would add this to the idea that the new regime really does have a plan of how to restock the ship.

The Orioles pounded the Cleveland Indians last night.
Why would this get mentioned when we like the Tribe and hate the Orioles?
Because Jeremy Guthrie dominated and here is a link to the Cleveland Plain Dealer that looks at just how poorly Guthrie was mishandled by Cleveland.
I remember screaming about that for 2 years as the Indians refused to give him any chance at all and had there been a blog then,I would have plenty of reference points to prove it!
The Guthrie story in the article about him refusing to sign Indians cards of him has been related to me by two different collectors and seems to be true.
Cleveland really dropped the ball there.

The Cleveland Cavaliers may have gotten the explosive point guard that LeBron James has needed for so long with Mo Williams coming to Lake Erie in a trade with the Milwaukee Bucks.
The cost was right as the payment was overpriced gunner Damon Jones and former Maryland Terrapin Joe Smith.
I would have liked to have seen Smith stick around,but this was too good to pass up for the Cavaliers and first round pick J.J. Hickson should be able to move into Smith's spot in the rotation pretty easily.
Williams averaged 17 points a game for Milwaukee last season and seems to fill Cleveland's largest need.

Photo Credits
Moss:Keith Srakocic-AP Photo
Guthrie:Chuck Crow-CLeveland Plain Dealer

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

John Edwards

The breaking of the news that John Edwards had an affair with a woman involved with his campaign was not exactly a surprise.
After all,the rumor had been around for quite a while and these things tend to happen with younger looking and more charismatic candidates for the presidency.
John Kennedy,Gary Hart,Bill Clinton,Edwards etc and there are not exactly a lot of knocking on the doors for guys like Mike Dukakis,John McCain,Bob Dole etc,so history showed that this was a possibility at the smallest end at least.
These candidates have huge egos as well,if you didn't not have a huge ego,why then you would presume that you among all the citizens in the United States are best suited to be the leader of the most influential country in the world?
With such an ego,high visibility and possibly being leader material,many of these men have beautiful and smart women involved in their lives (although for the life of me,I cannot figure out what Edwards saw in his flame) and (being human) have tremendous difficulties refusing these advances or in some cases,they have problems that they create by being the initiator.
I can even marginally understand,at times,because the political life can be a lonely one often times and many times to maximize exposure,the candidate could be sent to Omaha while the wife is shipped to Memphis and things could happen in those situations.
Plus,I can excuse Bill Clinton a little bit,I mean being MARRIED to Hillary Clinton?
I might have to wander too,but he made that decision so he will have to live with that one.
But the Edwards affair was in 2006 before he had even announced his candidacy,so that excuse doesn't wash and Elizabeth Edwards seems like a terrific lady,so the "Hillary Exception" gets unused here.

I hope the woman was worth tossing his political career overboard for,but from what I read in Newsweek,she seems borderline strange.
An average looking "seeker and new age spiritualist"?
Oh Boy,now I can see why she was so important!
Edwards can kiss his elected office hopes goodbye although with some years of image rehab,I think he could eventually hold an appointed office of some importance.
This is unfortunate,as Edwards would have made an excellent Vice President or Attorney General possibility.
Edwards also eliminated any chance of speaking at the Democratic convention in Denver and therefore losing opportunities to showcase himself and his platform of ideas.
That is a real loss as Edwards has been the only candidate to truly talk about the problems of the less fortunate in this country.

I do give Edwards credit for taking the hit alone during the ABC interview that he admitted the affair in.
I have always found it sad when scandals hit politicians and they drag the poor sad wife up there to show support.
When usually it is the wife that has been hit hardest by these affairs (no pun intended).
I think John Edwards did the right thing by enabling Elizabeth to avoid adding further insult to her injuries.

Now to the media coverage.
Now many are screaming about liberal media bias in why this only came out in the National Enquirer during Edwards primary run and that this is the final "proof" that the media is liberal.
Pure Bunk and here is why.
There was not ONE iota of proof that Edwards had done anything wrong.
No admission from Edwards or his paramour.
No pictures or evidence from an outside source.
Just rumor.
No different than the George Bush cocaine rumors in 2000.

Take that and consider the consequences of reporting the affair without having facts to back things up.
Put aside that it turned out to be true and think about if it were not.
The "liberal" press would have destroyed a candidate and his parties primary process on rumors that were not true.
Talking personal rumors about a politician in print is not like floating rumors about who the Pirates are talking about trading-this can ruin careers and it simply is not fair to report these types of rumors without anything to back it up besides hearsay.

You think the media is liberal?
Well,on this topic-I disagree.
Without mentioning names,there is a candidate that was in the presidential hunt in 2008 other than Edwards that has this type of issue in his background over the years and yet it is not being reported.
Fox news is all over Edwards and rightfully so,but they did not mention the affair before,not even the far right O'Reilly and Hannity crowd.
Why didn't they? Because they couldn't back it up!
Nothing to do with bias on the political spectrum,just that they had no proof-just speculation.

As a supporter (although not financially) of John Edwards (Full disclosure,we endorsed Edwards on Dec 20,2007),I must admit a small feeling of betrayal.
Not on the affair,but that he lied about it.
I am realistic enough to know why this happened,but it is tough to deal with the fact that after listening to eight years of lies,the candidate I supported was truth twisting before he ever won the job.

As a political junkie since childhood,I could never understand why so many became apathetic with the process.
One always hears "they are all the same-all crooks and liars" and variations of the statement and I try to not become cynical.
It is clear to see just how easy it can be to be a cynic.

Photo Credit
Cartoon:Kevin Siers-Charlotte Observer

Two days away

That can mean two things.
The most important is the signing deadline for drafted players to sign by.
The lesser is the two days away from the blog.
I have pictures from Harrisburg,I just need to add them to the article and this I hope to get done tomorrow.

The Pirates looked awful for six innings on the soaked grass at Shea Stadium on Monday.
Errors were costing runs and Zach Duke was allowing homers to players that had never hit them before (literally) and it was to the point that catching the baseball was a question.
However,when Pedro Martinez was removed from the game after six innings,the Pirates pummelled the Met bullpen (I thought only the Pirate pen was allowed to get smashed around) and rallied to a stunning 7-5 win.
The poor fundamentals in the field were painful to watch.
Andy LaRoche's "Roger Dorn" like move in the first inning allowed an extra runner to be on base when David Wright crushed Zach Duke's hanging curve for a long homer and Ryan Doumit dropped a perfect throw at the plate in the fourth that would have thrown a standing up Carlos Delgado out by 10 feet to hand the Mets two of their runs.
The perpetually out of position Luis Rivas added another error ,but fortunately his error was rendered harmless.
Simply atrocious.
The Pirates began a mild rally with a one run fifth inning with Doug Mientkiewicz smacking a single down the right field line to score Chris Gomez.
The Buccos really cut into the lead in the seventh with three runs off the Mets pen as pinch hitter Freddy Sanchez drilled a double that scored leadoff batter Gomez from first after he walked.
The Mets made a pitching change and John Russell made a curious move in having Nate McLouth move Sanchez to third with a bunt.
In my opinion,you are down 5-2,no outs,a runner on second and one of your two best hitters is up and you sacrifice?
To me,you don't hand the Mets an out with McLouth up,but that is my thought.
Sanchez trotted home on a Mientkiewicz single and Luis Rivas would make the score 5-4 on a Ryan Doumit sac fly.
The Pirates finished the New Yorkers off in the ninth as with one out,Aaron Heilman walked Luis Rivas and allowed Mientkiewicz to single.
Rivas then scored to tie the game on a Doumit single and after Andy LaRoche was plunked with a pitch-Heilman was gone.
Scott Schoenweis was able to get Mientkiewicz out at the plate on a Brandon Moss fielder choice,which sent Steve Pearce to the plate with two down.
Pearce came through with a two run single for the eventual 7-5 win.
Denny Bautista pitched the eighth to vulture the win (4-1) and John Grabow finished the game for his second save of the season.

Last night,the Pirates had a nice walk up crowd to see the newest Pirates for the first time and see if Jeff Karstens could keep his amazing start going against the suddenly punchless Reds.
Cincinaati still has Brandon Phillips and they had Edinson Volquez on the mound and that was more than enough for an easy 5-1 Reds win.
Phillips connected for a two run homer in the first inning and Javier Valentin added a solo bomb in the fourth for a lead and Cincinnati was never in real trouble thereafter.
Karstens didn't pitch that badly in allowing 4 runs on 7 hits in a 7 inning effort and fell to 2-1 with the loss.
Andy LaRoche doubled home Doug Mientkiewicz in the fourth for the only Pittsburgh run.
Series continues tonight at 7.

Pitching Matchup
Cincinnati:Josh Fogg (2-4 7.98 ERA) at Pittsburgh:Paul Maholm (7-7 3.76 ERA) 7:05

Bullpen Notes

The Pirates had second round selection Tanner Scheppers in town for a 30 pitch bullpen session to take a final look at his progression from labrum damage.
Scheppers left without talking to the press.
Neal Huntington said "Signs are definitely positive",but who really knows the Pirates true decision process at this point.

Adam LaRoche is expected to rejoin the team later today,but no word on what player is Indianapolis bound.

Browns GM Phil Savage keeps watching his top picks hit the sidelines.
After watching Beau Bell miss time with a knee injury,fellow fourth rounder pick Martin Rucker joined Bell on the sidelines with a knee injury that will require surgery.
Rucker will miss about six weeks.

And from the Oh,really dept,the Unabomber (Ted Kaczynski) is upset that the FBI is displaying his residence (actually storage shed,but why quibble) at Washington's Newseum.
Kind of tough to generate too much sympathy for Kaczynski from this point of view.

Will try to be back later with either Harrisburg or John Edwards..........

Photo Credits
Pearce:Seth Wenig-AP Photo
Dorn Jersey:Unknown
Volquez:Don Wright-AP Photo