Monday, June 28, 2010

Forgotten Superstars-Carl Radle

Ryan sends me this note of the passing of the Kinks original bassist Pete Quaife at the age of 66 and Quaife's passing began to make me think of my favorite bassist Carl Radle.
Radle is the first musician to be profiled in our forgotten superstar series.
Radle died far too soon at the age of 38 in 1980 from complications of alcohol and narcotics,but left some excellent work behind as his legacy.

Radle first came to my attention through his work with Gary Lewis and the Playboys,but was well known for his connection with Eric Clapton in both touring with Clapton's band and worked as a focal point of Clapton's solo work throughout the seventies.
Carl also can be heard as a key performer on George Harrison's "All things must pass" album,which was Harrison's first post-Beatles solo work and featured "My Sweet Lord" and "What is Life?" as Harrison's launching pad to solo stardom.
Radle can be seen on the concert film of Harrison's Bangledesh benefit concerts from Madison Square Garden in 1971.

Radle was one of the top studio bassists of all time having worked with performers that ranged from Art Garfunkel to Leon Russell,John Lee Hooker,Donovan and Rita Coolidge among others.
Just reading that list shows the versatility of the skills of Carl Radle.

I suppose what I liked best about Radle on the bass was the way he was able to stand out while remaining in the background,as dumb as that seems to read.
Radle's play stands out as being part of the music without the flashy performances that all too often occur with standout musicians.
Great enough to be heard as terrific,yet humble enough to blend into the band and create a greater sound is the ultimate compliment for any musician.

That was the greatness of Carl Radle.
More on Carl Radle can be found at a tribute site here.

Photo Credit-Carl

Iron Gloves and Scatter Arms

Three errors handed the Oakland Athletics two runs and they needed all of them to escape with a 3-2 win over the Pirates.
Evan Meek dropped to 3-2 with the hard luck loss,while Lastings Milledge finally hit his first long ball of the season in the defeat.
The Pirates have now lost six in a row and have lost 18 of their 20 contests.
Pittsburgh now visits Wrigley Field tonight for the first of three tonight against the Cubs.
Paul Maholm (4-6) for the Pirates while Chicago counters with Randy Wells (3-6).

Pirate Hooks

1) Ross Ohlendorf's throw on a pickoff move cost the Pirates a run as the huge patch of foul territory in Oakland allowed Cliff Pennington to move from first to third instead of stopping at second.
Garrett Jones then threw the ball away in an attempt to throw Pennington out at third and Pennington scored the A's first run.
That immediately brought to mind when I would have my runners do a similar thing in youth baseball in an attempt to manufacture runs by forcing the opposition to make their throws count.
Rarely figured I would see that in the bigs.

2) As bad as that play was ,it didn't cost the Bucs as much as another error.
Evan Meek retired everyone he faced in two innings,whiffing four,but he didn't get to put Kurt Suzuki away after a routine pop up to Jason Jaramillo was dropped in foul ground.
Suzuki then homered to left with what proved to be the game winning run.
Errors happen and I generally like Jaramillo in his role as backup backstop,but when you aren't hitting .200 and cannot carry your weight even with the glove,what is your value to the team?

3) Other than the poor pickup throw by Ohlendorf and being late covering on first in another inning,very few bad things can be said about allowing just two hits over six innings and both runs being unearned.
This does give me the chance to complain about pitchers being allowed unearned runs despite them making an error though.
One of the few baseball rules that I just cannot stand.

4) Lastings Milledge finally hit his first homer and the tossing the monkey off his back in pantomine was pretty funny,but if Milledge could add even the past power he showed it would be good for the Buccos.
Not just for the production,but it might wake John Russell up from his apparent crush on the seemingly shot Ryan Church.

5) Andrew McCutchen wasn't immune on this day as he dropped a fly ball that eventually scored Oakland's second run.
It was a long run,but it was in his glove and should have hauled it in.

6) 2-18 overall in the last 20 and 17 road losses in a row.
I couldn't add more to that,if I tried....

7) Even though I missed Saturday's game,I liked the 70's uniforms worn by both teams.
Nothing I need to see all the time,but neat to see every year or so...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Sailing on choppy waters

The Pittsburgh Pirates have continued to lose since our last post with a sweep at the hands of the Rangers and then a bullpen devastation in Oakland.
I only have to miss one more game (should see the Sunday game) and then things are back to normal between seeing games again and the abomination that is interleague play leaves for the season.

The ship pushes off with a move by the Pirates that we described as possibly being a panic move at the time of the deal that now brings back memories of Captain Dave Littlefield.
The Pirates designated Dana Eveland for assignment after he pitched in just three games (1 start,2 relief) in the under a month stay in Pittsburgh after being picked up from Toronto.I questioned the move at the time and even more so now.
Eveland was awful in his outings,but not much worse than he had been with the Blue Jays,so what did the Pirates see that made them suddenly think that he wasn't worth having?
To me,Eveland looked like the same pitcher that he had always been.
Toronto has moved Ronald Uviedo to the starting rotation at AA New Hampshire and he has pitched well there.
Could this be Neal Huntington's version of Matt Herges for Chris Young?
A long way to go to find out,but it sure hasn't started well.

Zach Duke was placed on the disabled list,which will likely cost any value that the Pirates might have been able to have for him at the trade deadline.
Daniel McCutchen replaces him in the rotation for now,but Charlie Morton will likely be the long term replacement upon his return from Indianapolis.

Steven Jackson and Justin Thomas were promoted from Indianapolis for a few days.
Jackson could be returned as early as tonight to make room for Daniel McCutchen.

Indianapolis added two players from the Altoona Curve that have somewhat revived their prospect status as Daniel Moskos and Alex Presley were called up.
No word on Moskos being used as the Indy closer,but I would hope he is used in a one inning capacity of some type in order to prepare him for Pittsburgh.

Neil Walker hit a homer last night as well as his head against Ryan Church's knee.
Walker was forced from the game and is listed as day to day for now.

Back tomorrow with a quick look at the Devils second round selection and maybe some other small things as well..

Friday, June 25, 2010

On the signing front

Signing front continues with a quick look at the Lakewood Blue Claws and help from others.
I missed tons of Pirates news and yet didn't see the two losses in Texas and will miss the first two games of the Oakland series as well with work/time issues.
Quite a few notes from Pirateland,so I'll try to do a Pirate related post tomorrow.

The Lakewood Blue Claws should have been a light series.
Team set yet to be released and just a few needs should have been an easy series.
Sebastian Valle signed on the first night and not thereafter.
Leandro Castro was the same,but with a twist.
Castro would sign his Topps pro debut card,but refused to sign his Bowman.
Considering that the same company produces both cards,I found that very odd.
First baseman Jonathan Singleton,a eighteen year old that is simply destroying SAL pitching was very nice and signed all three nights.
Singleton looks to be the next off the Phillies assembly line of young prospects.

Thanks to my friend Jason Christensen for his help with several players,including some that had been difficult for me to get.
Alex White was Cleveland's top pick in the 2009 draft,but was promoted to AA Akron from High A Kinston on the day that Kinston was scheduled to play their first game in Frederick.
Jason was able to get those signed for me as well as Lonnie Chisenhall,who was the top prospect that I had trouble getting last season for various reasons.
Jason also got me Richmond's Nick Noonan and Thomas Neal as well as Mets prospect Reese Havens on a few cards.
Thanks again to Jason.

Next time we will take a look at the Hagerstown Suns team set,who signed well,who didn't,the surprise cost of the set and the limited press run that contributed to the cost of the set...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Rangers grill Pirates

In the Pirates final interleague road swing of the season,the Pirates lost their opener in Texas to the Rangers 6-3 after a quick start that saw the Pirates score the first two runs of the game.
Ross Ohlendorf was the losing pitcher as he continued to seek his first win in dropping to 0-6.
The series continues tonight with Paul Maholm (4-5) against Dustin Nippert for the Rangers (2-3) at 8:05.

Pirate Hooks

1) This looks to be the last Pirate recap for a few days,at least as far as Hooks go.
I was just called into work for an overtime night,which is great for the wallet,but that means that I will miss the final two games of the Rangers series to go along with the first two against Oakland.
Look for some bonus Indian coverage,which appeared to be walking all over the Giants in our poll..

2) Akinori Iwamura accepted his demotion to Indianapolis and as a result will continue to receive his just under five million dollar salary.
Smart move by Iwamura,who will get nowhere near that type of coin on his next contract and by eating just a small bit of pride and playing eight or nine weeks at Indy makes money that he will never be able to make up.

3) Ross Ohlendorf retired the first ten batters than he faced before allowing a Michael Young homer.
This continued a trend for Ohlendorf,who seems to struggle seeing hitters multiple times.
Perhaps this could be a reason that the Yankees saw Ohlendorf's future as a reliever?

4) The play that might have changed the game was Ryan Doumit being waved home with one out on a Lastings Milledge double.
Doumit was out by the proverbial country mile despite a home plate collision with Matt Trainor.
Poor decision by third base coach Tony Beasley.

5) Zach Duke will throw on the side today,but if he is unable to throw,the Post-Gazette reports that he will go on the DL.
This doesn't seem super serious,but cannot help any trade value that Duke has before the deadline...

6) Bad news for Pirate prospect Tony Sanchez,who broke his jaw at the plate recently.
No final diagnosis for Sanchez or his season being over as of now.

7) No TV for the Indians on Saturday,so vote in the new poll to help make decisions on coverage...

8) Still working on the Pirate prospect series.This is taking more time as I have decided to remove the four players now in Pittsburgh.
Those were already finished,so in some ways it is starting from scratch.
However,it will be better because I will be able to factor in the first three months of the 2010 season.

Photo Credit-Cody Duty-AP Photo

Late addition

I was going to add this as a direct link to,but they are having some issues today.
Check them out when they get things straightened out.

I have tried to be lighter on the Hagerstown Suns entertainment group this season.
I realize that I am not the targeted demographic of their entertainment,so in order to not ruin any enjoyment of what they offer by others,I have attempted to avoid it.
However at a recent game that I attended with "Sue Dinem" of NatsProspects,something was brought to my attention that I have ignored and should not have.
No longer.

The skit done by the H-Town crew that mocks Native Americans may be done in fun and without malice,but it certainly could be taken differently and needs to be eliminated.
One might see that I am being hypocritical being a Cleveland Indian fan,an organization that uses a logo that uses a stereotypical depiction of the Native American.
However,I would say the tradition of the Indians,Washington Redskins and the Boston/Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves gives them a marginal pass with marketing,although I would be reticent to say that further marketing of new variations of products etc would be a good idea.
The Redskins really should be using the yellow "Lombardi" helmet anyway, it is just so cool looking and would save them a large chunk of hassle.
The pic does not do the helmet its true justice.
The Hagerstown Suns have no tradition in this area,their team is not based on or named after a group of particular Native American and frankly the skit is just in poor taste.
I don't think that anything is meant by it and I am sure that it is meant to entertain the fans,but when someone dances with a headdress on (and a discount version at that) and adds a war dance and war whoops as well,I find that offensive.

The Native American seems to be the final group that can be offended with impunity.
Other ethnic groups would never be slandered in such a way and rightfully so.
Here is hoping that this skit and its corresponding song "Apache" can quietly retire to its place in the dust bin where it belongs and a replacement can be found without a word being said.
After all,their are tons of novelty songs that fans can enjoy,the H-Town Crew can dance to that are fun and offensive to no one.
I can ignore Monster Mash just as well as Cottoneyed Joe.

Back with the Pirates loss to the Rangers later today.

Photo Credit
Helmet:The Helmet Project

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cleaning out the Inbox

Tons of stuff from the inbox that has accumulated today,so right to it we go.

Ohio State looks to be set at quarterback for the foreseeable future as the top prospect of the 2011 quarterback class has committed to be a Buckeye.
Huber Heights Ohio's Braxton Miller looks to be the eventual replacement for Terrelle Pryor after a possible 2011 redshirt season.
The possible part is that the Buckeyes cannot be sure that Pryor will return for the 2011 campaign although it would serve him well to do so.
Watching the struggles of the player that Pryor is so often compared to in Vince Young,might that persuade Pryor to return to Columbus for his senior season?
It would be best for his development as a player,but that doesn't mean that money would not rule the day.

Ohio State also lost wideout Duron Carter to academic issues as Carter transferred to a Kansas JUCO to get things in order.
Carter caught the ball well,but wasn't exactly a speed burner.
The biggest concern for me is now OSU has just two experienced receivers on the roster in DeVier Posey and Dane Sanzenbacher.
That usually takes care of itself after a few games,but it still could be an issue.

Recently,the Harrisburg Patriot News looked at minor league stadiums in their radius and graded them using seven different areas of criteria.
Click here for their grades,but I have attended games at five of the nine facilities and my grades would be different.
I might do a similar post after the season when I can add three or four stadiums to my collection,but I would rate Frederick far higher than the writer did right off the bat...

This is an eleven day old post from Bucs Dugout,but this was very detailed and the author put so much research to it,I had to toss it into this spot.
"Vlad" looks at the Pirates draft picks and their signability from various points of research.
Other than our occasional guest here,Wilbur Miller,Vlad stands out as next in line as far as respected and knowledgeable Pirate fans in my opinion.

We wrap up with a very interesting look at how the Big 12 managed to work its way from its death bed to staying alive with this article from
Well worth the read if this sort of thing interests you.

Back later with a look at the Pirates loss in Texas.

Jason Arnott returns to New Jersey

A day or two late,I suppose with this,but Jason Arnott has returned to the Devils as Lou Lamoriello swung a deal with the Nashville Predators to return the burly center to the New Jersey.
In exchange,Matt Halischuk and a second round pick in 2011 were shipped to the Music City.

The first thing that I thought of upon hearing of the trade was "Oh,No.What is Arnott's cap number?" and it isn't good at 4.5 million.
However,it is just for one season and although I like Halischuk as a player,the Devils system has the most depth at wing and Halischuk may have been the closest to the Devils among them,he didn't have the highest potential of the group.
I didn't like moving the second rounder,but at least it was able to be a 2011 pick and not totally dismantle this years draft...

However,with Arnott's cap hit,that could mean the end of the Devils being able to sign one of Paul Martin or Ilya Kovalchuk.
Lou Lamoriello disagrees and says with a few moves that everything could be worked out.
As much as I believe in Lou,that seems pretty pie in the sky to me,but if the deck could be rearranged and David Clarkson is still able to be retained,I would be all in favor.

On the ice,this looks like a sharp acquisition.
Arnott should plug right into the second line center spot and despite his age (36 by season start),has yet to see a huge decline in his numbers.
Arnott also makes Patrik Elias able to return to wing,where he is more effective than having to play the pivot.
Elias seems a bit out of sorts at center and bringing Arnott in not only enables Elias to return to a more suitable position,it also could resurrect some chemistry between the two that clicked so well on the same line in the past.
Arnott also should buy the Devils a year in order to season Jacob Josefson properly instead of installing him immediately as a top two line center and that could pay long term dividends as well.

All and all,I like the trade and I think that it should help the club as long as the Devils are able to continue to attempt to change things on a team that has a trend of disappointing playoffs over the last few seasons.

The Devils finally announced officially that their AHL affiliate will be returning to Albany as the the Albany Devils.
The team could not come to an agreement with Lowell for the Tsongas arena and with Albany having a vacancy with the River Rats moving to Charlotte,the fit was a natural one.

The Devils home opener will be on October 8th against the Dallas Stars.
The remainder of the schedule will be announced today.

The draft will be Friday and Saturday and I'll try to gather some information up on the Devils second round pick.

Back later with some cleaning of the inbox....

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Pirates snap losing streak

I wasn't able to watch the Pirates-Indians game last night due to a one hour rain delay.
The Pirates ended their losing streak with a 6-4 win.
Jeff Karstens evened his record at 2-2 with the win and Octavio Dotel finished the game for save number 13.David Huff was the loser for Cleveland (2-9)/
Lastings Milledge had 4 RBI over his four hits,while Cleveland's Russell Branyan launched the games only homer (9).
The series ends today in the rubber match for the thoughtsofrs cup with a battle of prospects with Brad Lincoln (0-1) for Pittsburgh against Cleveland's Justin Masterson (2-6).

Zach Duke will skip his scheduled start this week against Texas as a precautionary measure with a shoulder strain.
Duke is expected to be ready for a next weekend start against the Athletics in Oakland.

The Pirates have signed a few of their draft picks,but the biggest signs thus far were announced yesterday with fifth rounder Tyler Waldron of Oregon State and 12th rounder Vincent Payne of Cyprus Ca JUCO.
Waldron is considered the larger catch.

Back later with a few thoughts on the Devils bringing Jason Arnott back to New Jersey...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Tale of three games

The battle for the unofficial thoughts of RS title began last night at PNC Park as the last place Pittsburgh Pirates hosted the last place Cleveland Indians in what was really three separate games within a game.
The first six innings were scoreless as both Paul Maholm and Fausto Carmona traded zeroes.
The seventh saw both teams explode for all the runs in the game and then the final two were lacking in runs.
Cleveland's inning was a hair better and the Wahoos grabbed a 4-3 win.
Carmona improved to 6-5,while Maholm dropped to 4-5 for Pittsburgh.
Kerry Wood pitched a scoreless ninth in earning his 5th save.
The series continues tonight with the Pirates tossing Jeff Karstens (1-2) to the mound in the latest attempt to snap a losing streak that has now reached 12,while the Indians counter with David Huff (2-8).

Unified Thoughts

1) Look for more runs tonight than last night.
Maholm and Carmona are their teams most experienced presence in the rotation and it wasn't a huge surprise to them succeed against the lineups.
Considering the starters tonight,I think the game could be a barnburner...

2) One has to be impressed with Carlos Santana,who had two hits and two walks,but I was most impressed with his arm in gunning down Neil Walker at second in a steal attempt.
The ball was there so early that Jason Donald merely had to set the glove down and let Walker slide into it.....

3) Another Indian that I was impressed with was setup man Chris Perez.
I liked the way the ball comes out of his hand and Perez looks to be the Tribe closer of the future...

4) Ryan Church's three RBI double was right after I called for his release when Steve Pearce is ready to return.
I wish it was that easy for all of my writing to motivate!
Seriously though,I do question John Russell batting Church in the 5 slot,considering his season and no,I don't agree with Russell's thought "that might get him going".

5) Was nice to see Frank Herrmann get some game action.
Frank was one of the nicer guys in the game that I have met from his days in both Lake County and Kinston and it is nice to see him get a chance in the show.

6) Watching the game,I was struck by the loud cheers for the Indians.
The Indians are the worst drawing team in the AL,yet they seemed to be louder than the home team.

I haven't forgotten about some upcoming pieces that were promised,I am working on them and hope to be ready next week.

Photo Credit-Gene Puskar-AP Photo

Friday, June 18, 2010

10 and 11..

Two for the price of one today as we look at the Pirates 10th and 11th losses in a row with the last two at the hands of the Chicago White Sox.
Zach Duke (3-8) lost the Wednesday game 7-2 and Ross Ohlendorf (0-5) dropped the 5-4 decision last night.
Jose Tabata (1) homered on Wednesday,while Neil Walker (2) homered last night.
The Pirates host the Cleveland Indians for the most personally painful games of the season.
Paul Maholm (4-4) for Pittsburgh as Cleveland counters with Fausto Carmona (5-5).

Pirate Hooks

1) Getting the news out of the way first,Neal Huntington and John Russell both had contract extensions announced yesterday.
I am basically fine with that decision as Huntington needs more time to revamp the organization and while Russell does little for me as a manager,I don't see where bringing in a new manager would change things dramatically.

2) SIX errors in Wednesday's game!
The Pirates had more errors than hits in the contest and that should never be acceptable.
I would point the worst one,but all were pretty bad.
Hard to choose between Neil Walker's kick,Pedro Alvarez's miss of a Ryan Doumit throw to third or the latest in Pirate pitchers throwing the baseball away on pickoff attempts.

3) Not sure why the Bucco pickoffs have suddenly gone awry,but between pitchers struggling and having runners on constantly along with a revolving door at first base lately in interleague play,the problems have become quite visible...

4) It was nice to see Jose Tabata get his first home run early in his season.
Take a lot of pressure off a young player and they tend to play relaxed and loose.

5) Want to know my choice of who to move off the roster when Steve Pearce is ready?
Ryan Church has had a poor season,but you at least hope for a quality pinch hitter and Church hasn't even been able to do that.
Church's at bat that ended Thursday's game against Bobby Jenks looked like a chimp trying to open and close an umbrella...

6) Pedro Alvarez is o for 6 in his first two dates,but hang in there fans,he will finish much stronger than he has started.

7) Ross Ohlendorf continues to pitch passably and then allow one or two bad innings to tab him with yet another loss.
Ohlendorf provided one note of hope last night as he didn't walk a batter in his six and a third inning outing.

8) A quick look at the State College Spikes roster shows three of the arms that the Pirates paid a premium to sign from the 2009 draft with the Spikes.
Zach Von Rosenberg,Zach Dotson and Brooks Pounders are all with the team and Colton Cain and Trent Stevenson are expected to join the team later in the season.
Assuming all five pitch reasonably well in the NY/Penn league,the 2011 West Virginia Power rotation will be a interesting one to watch.

9) I will be watching tonight's game against the Indians with a heavy heart.
I love both teams and hate watching them play each other.
I am really torn on which to root for,but at least they should be competitive games.

10) Be sure to vote on the latest poll-Next Thursday with the Pirates in Texas,there is no way that the game will be over with for me to take to work.
So the vote will be which game to cover on 6/24-Indians @ Phillies or Giants @Astros.
The Indians will likely be the covered team for the next two games following with the Pirates in Oakland before finally seeing the Pirates finale' in Oakland...

Photo Credit:Peter Diana-Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Johnny Mac named Devils coach

The New Jersey Devils kept the head coaching position in the family with the hiring of John Maclean as the latest bench boss of the team.

Maclean spent last season as the head coach of the Devils AHL affiliate in Lowell,which was his first season as the head man after spending numerous years as an assistant with the parent Devils.
Maclean spent his year in Lowell as the expected heir apparent to the job and Lou Lamiorello selected Maclean in a move that should keep continuity for the team.

I am pleased with the hiring as I am glad to keep things in house,although I am keeping the Ted Nolan soapbox for future use,as Maclean might be able to use his familiarity with the talent to finally open up the offense and use the talent to their true potential.
With the possible arrivals of Mattias Tedenby and Jacob Josefson over the next season or two,the Devils can finally do away with a defensive style of play that they simply do not have the personnel to play anymore with the defensive corps no longer being the strength of the club.

John Maclean may not have been the flashiest hire,but he could have been the best hire.

The NHL Draft is a week from Saturday and I hope to add another Devils related post.
The Devils do not have a first rounder,but they do have two second rounders,so the Devils should still be able to add two nice prospects to the system and don't forget Lou Lamiorello's willingness to make a move up,if a player falls farther than he should.

I was going to do a post today on the Pedro Alvarez debut,but I had meetings at work and will instead do one post tomorrow that covers both of the final two games against the White Sox.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Pedro Alvarez arrives

The Pittsburgh Pirates called up Pedro Alvarez from Indianapolis in the final callup of their closest to major league ready prospects.
No word on who Alvarez will be replacing on the roster,but it is likely to be Akinori Iwamura,who will take just under five million dollars with him for his less than three months of under .200 hitting.
Nice work,if you can get it.....

Alvarez is the last of the hopes for the future that the Pirates have left for this season as the roster at Indianapolis looks barren of the types of players that the Pirates have called up recently.
I am sure that you will see some more players from the I-Tribe as the season progresses,but none with the hopes of Alvarez,Lincoln or Tabata.

Keep in mind though that Alvarez will not be a panacea for the Pirate woes.
Alvarez has started slow each time that he has been promoted up the ladder and I would not surprised to see a similar start with the Pirates.
Strikeouts will be common and defensively there could be issues as well,but there should be good points as well.
Pedro brings power to third base that Pirate fans haven't seen since Aramis Ramirez and will be the type of hitter that always will give the hope of the longball in close games that few on the current team can offer.

Pirate fans should be excited about the arrival of Alvarez,but realize that this is not a Stephen Strasburg type player that will impact every game that he plays in.
Alvarez will be more of a foundation player that like Andrew McCutchen will help the team be competitive in two to three years,not immediately.
Enjoy tonight's debut...

Photo Credit-Unknown

You can put it on the board-L !

The losing continued last night in Pittsburgh as the Chicago White Sox were the next team in line to defeat the Pirates as the Pale Hole nabbed a 6-4 decision over the Buccos.
Brad Lincoln (0-1) was the losing pitcher for Pittsburgh,while Andrew McCutchen rapped three hits and stole three bases.
Zach Duke ( 3-7) will attempt to snap the Pirate losing streak at nine tonight against Chicago's John Danks (5-5) at 7:05.

Pirate Hooks

1) The Pirates may not be an overall exciting team,but there is no doubt that Andrew McCutchen is one of the most exciting players in the game.
McCutchen dealt with numerous throws over to to first and then stole two bases on the next four pitches to the plate.
With speed like that,McCutchen makes any contact with the ball a possible hit...

2) Brad Lincoln has made just two starts,but allowed the same pitching line in both games-five runs over six innings.
Lincoln walked the leadoff batter twice in the game and both times Chicago managed to score the runner.

3) The biggest problem for Lincoln that I see?
Lack of a true off speed pitch.In his first two games,Lincoln has struggled with changing speeds and everything seems to come at the same pace-and straight as a string.
Big league hitters will hammer one pitch if you cannot vary the selection a bit.
This will come in time for Lincoln,who added another base hit at the plate in the defeat.

4) The final body blow in this one came in the top of the ninth,when Octavio Dotel threw the ball down the first base line in an attempt to keep Juan Pierre close to first.
Pierre advanced to third on the play and scored on an Alex Rios single.
Bad teams cannot afford such errors from what they project as a veteran presence....

5) Defensive play of the evening goes to Neil Walker,who's leaping spear of a Omar Vizquel liner kept a run from scoring and kept the Bucs in the game in the sixth inning...

Photo Credit-Peter Diana-Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Things that make me laugh

Time for a few things and memories that make me laugh with an emphasis on toys from my childhood.

We start off with one of the worst ideas for a kids toy that I can remember.
Now I never owned this classic,but the jingle has stuck into my head for years.
Can you imagine the company that surrounded the table with the idea of Milky the Marvelous Milking Cow?
Complete with "pretend milk tablets"?!
My brother and I had some weird toys as a kid,but not even us tried this edsel of a toy.
I can see this imaginary conversation now taking place at K-Mart back then
Me and my Brother-Dad,can we get Milky the marvelous milking cow?
Dad-What the hell is that?
Us-Explanation of this terrific must have toy
Dad-What the !@$^ is wrong with you two?

Now this obscure toy was one that I actually have and yet doesn't have a YouTube video,but Suckerman was a toy that lives to this day.
Battered,beaten and missing a few cups-Suckerman still lives here as a bath toy having spent time with both of my children and now lies in reserve for my future grandchildren.
Suckerman basically was a creepy looking reptile/human hybrid with (surprise) suction cups all over his body.
My favorite Suckerman trick was to hang him from the inside of the fridge to "scare" the next person to open it.
Never quite seemed to work as well as the commercial though as I recall one memorable Suckerman attempt as Dad came home from work one day to find Suckerman hanging in front of the Mayo.
SM was gone for a few days until I located him lying in the yard,yards away from the kitchen.
Guess Suckerman could fly as well....

Another winner that didn't "earn" his longterm home like Suckerman was the Krusher.
This indvidual's main claim to fun was that he was filled with foam rubber,so you could crush him and then press a button to keep him crushed.
That was about as fun as ol 'Krush was and he didn't last either as he wound up in two pieces-upper torso,which still might be at my parents and lower torso,which is likely dust in the wind or Krushed at the landfill...

Then there was this champion Frosty "the Sno Man" spelled that way to avoid copyright infringement.
The metal crank never turned,the refill packs damn near impossible to find and generally tasted like crap.
Plus consider the 70's idea of kids putting water based materials through a metal blade and then likely letting it sit over the winter.
Sounds very safe to me!

Back later with more...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Pirates dusted again

Pittsburgh left Motown looking like they battled this guy to the right with yet another loss.
The Pirates led Detroit the entire way before a bullpen collapse allowed the Tigers to escape with a 4-3 win that completed a sweep of the Pirates.
Miguel Cabrera's long range three run bomb off Octavio Dotel in the bottom of the eighth turned the tide of the contest and gave Javier Lopes the loss (1-1).
Garrett Jones homered (10) in the second and doubled in another run to lead the Pittsburgh offense.
The Pirates were off tonight and will attempt to snap their losing streak Tuesday against the White Sox at PNC Park.

Pirates Hooks

1) The Pirates wasted a solid performance from Jeff Karstens,who was let down by the bullpen and left with a no decision.
Karstens needs to be handled properly by the manager as he seems to be able to give 5 or 6 good innings and then the floor falls out.

2) Garrett Jones is the only current Pirate that isn't in a slump.
Two homers in two days as he attempts to lift the team's ailing bats..

3) Octavio Dotel gave up the game winner to Miguel Cabrera,but Javier Lopez got the deserved loss.
The lefty specialist was brought in to retire Johnny Damon,walked him and the table was set for Cabrera's rocket.
What good is a specialist when he throws five pitches,four balls and cannot do the basic job that he is on the team for?

4) The final out was made by Akinori Iwamura,who pinch hit for Andy LaRoche.
As poorly as LaRoche has played of late,being pinch hit for by a guy hitting .177 has to be a major shot to the confidence..

5) Ryan Doumit returned to catching a day after his crucial error Saturday night.
Doumit's concussion issues make sense for avoiding catching,but I should have thought of why Doumit didn't DH for yesterday's post.
That would have made more sense and improved the fielding as well.
I should have thought of it.

Back tomorrow with the promised fun things and more on the Hagerstown Suns...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Walkoff worries

The Pittsburgh Pirates used hustle and effort to force extra innings in Detroit yesterday,but the continuing struggles of Brendan Donnelly allowed a walkoff homer by Carlos Guillen to lift the Tigers to a 4-3 win in ten innings.
Donnelly drops to 2-1 with the loss.
Garrett Jones homered (9) for the Bucs in defeat.
The Pirates attempt to avoid the sweep today with Jeff Karstens (1-2) and Armando Galarraga (2-1).

Pirate Hooks

1) Jose Tabata certainly is showing hustle in his first few days in the bigs.
Tabata's hustle was directly responsible for tying the game in the eighth as he turned a single into a double and then stole third.
That exactly how you hope a young player plays when he gets his chance.

2) The play that cost the Pirates was a two base error by Ryan Doumit on a throw right to him by Evan Meek.
No excuse for the error,but I do give Doumit somewhat of a pass as he isn't a first baseman and the Pirates are trying to pass him off as one...

3) Meek's throw was on the money,but he set it up by going after Austin Jackson between third and home instead of the easy twin killing that would have ended the inning.
A mental error no matter how you slice it...

4) Paul Maholm pitched well in getting out of two bases loaded innings and yet allowed just one run over his six innings.
The most concerning thing about Maholm that bothers me is that his walks are starting to go up and he added three more last night.
A control pitcher like Maholm cannot afford that.

5) Ryan Church is struggling at the plate,but he made a great play on a flyball to the deepest part of Comerica Park.
Church has many issues,but effort isn't one of them....

Allow me to get through tonight and I hope to get some fun stuff up early next week with overdue things and a soapbox issue for the Hagerstown Suns...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Tigers roar past Pirates 6-2.

The losing continues for the Pittsburgh Pirates as they lost their interleague opener to the Tigers 6-2 in Detroit.
Ross Ohlendorf fell to 0-4 with the loss.
Paul Maholm (4-4) toes the mound against Jeremy Bonderman (2-4) in tonight's middle game of the series.

Pirate Hooks

1) I know that this is a cliche' of a hook,but take a few batters out of Ross Ohlendorf's game and it was a sharp outing.
Six runs over six innings isn't great,but the stuff was the best that Ohlendorf has shown since his return from the DL.
Ohlendorf was dominating until Brennan Boesch's two out solo homer in the fourth.

2) I forgot to mention this a few days back,but Jeff Karstens will stay in the rotation and Dana Eveland will be the long man in the bullpen.
I like a lot of the moves of Neal Huntington,but not the Eveland trade that looks worse by the day..

3) Justin Verlander allowed just four hits and only Andrew McCutchen's double off the wall was seriously struck as only the occasional walk (the Pirates worked Verlander for four of them) enabled the Pirates to score at all.

4) Neil Walker played third base as the Pirates are transitioning Andy LaRoche (according to the Post-Gazette) in the utility role that the team envisioned for Neil Walker before the season began.
This might turn into becoming the best role to use LaRoche in,although considering his status in the trade that obtained him,it must be disappointing to the Pirates and their fans...

5) The Pirates are now a pathetic 9-23 on the road on the season and things look to be worse before they get better.
The Pirates would have the second pick in the 2011 draft,if it were held today,but still are six games better than the Orioles.
One more top of the line stud in the system would mean so much to the Pirates,who have just about run out of ways to add impact players through other means..

Photo Credit:Duane Burleson-AP Photo

Friday, June 11, 2010

Swept in DC

The Pittsburgh Pirates continued their recent woes with yet another loss in Washington 4-2.
Zach Duke was the losing pitcher (3-7) as the Buccos dropped their fifth decision in a row.
Pittsburgh begins its interleague slate tonight with the first of three against the Tigers in Detroit.
Ross Ohlendorf (0-3) for the Bucs,while I have read two differing reports on the Tigers starter,which appears to be either Justin Verlander or Jeremy Bonderman.

Pirate Hooks

1) Ryan Doumit returned to the lineup from his concussion-like symptoms and played first base,where he still had defensive difficulties.
Playing first likely is better than catching coming off an injury like that,but I might have put Doumit in right and Garrett Jones at first.

2) Evan Meek continued his excellent season by foiling a bases loaded threat in the sixth.
Meek will be this teams closer eventually,maybe as soon as the end of the season,if Octavio Dotel is moved...

3) Brendan Donnelly continues to be far from helpful in his appearances.
For the second game in a row,Donnelly turned a one run Washington lead into a two run lead late in the game.
Donnelly looks to me to be almost to the point of being cooked...

4) Zach Duke looked better than his last starts,but still is nibbling as Washington accumulated a high pitch count and Duke from the game.
Duke still is in the "make a perfect pitch" mode because half of his players (especially the left side of the infield) cannot be relied on defensively...

5) Steve Pearce will begin a rehab assignment at Indianapolis next week.
Here's hoping that the lineup looks like this upon his return-Pearce,Walker,Who cares and LaRoche with an outfield of Tabata,McCutchen and Jones and Doumit backstopping.
The odd man out is Lastings Milledge,but if I wanted a guy with zero homers in the everyday lineup,I'll take the guy that was just called up from AAA...

Photo Credit:Ann Heisenfelt/Associated Press

Thursday, June 10, 2010

On the signing front-III

The signing front continues with a look at the Myrtle Beach Pelicans and Greenville Drive.

Greenville was the first of the two and I wasn't looking forward to them.
Red Sox teams can be tough and with this being the only visit of the season for the Drive.
I figured that it would be busy and it was,but we caught one break.
The first night of the series was a Thursday and rain was in the forecast.
That kept the crowd down and the autographers as well,as just four of us were there.
Thank goodness for that or this might ranked as one of the worst series ever.
I was able to get a large amount finished on the first evening and very little thereafter.
Greenville does have some good signers as first round pick Rey Fuentes was super nice as was Derrik Gibson and Drake Britton as the three all rank in the top 15 Red Sox prospects.
Gibson talked about the rainstorm at the NY/Penn All Star game and Fuentes just chatted in general as he signed everything in sight.
During this series,I also was able to get the Suns Dan Rosenbaum to sign one of his Donruss elite cards.
Those were limited to 50 gold,100 red and 200 blue,but I wanted the blue card because Rosenbaum is an Xavier alum and I thought it would look nicer and it did.
The surprise on the visit was the Drive coaching staff.
Pitching coach Kevin Walker was fine,but hitting coach Luis Lopez only signed two on one night and nothing on the other three.
Manager Billy McMillon was terrific last season,but didn't sign much in this series from what I was told.
I didn't have anything,so on McMillon's signing habits I am going on hearsay...

Myrtle Beach was in Frederick and I wanted to get the Braves phenom Julio Teheran,who's ERA is around one between Rome and Myrtle Beach.
Teheran had fanned 14 Keys the evening before,so I wanted to get him signed,since it is highly likely that he would not return for the Pelicans final visit.
The line was long and and some of the non-local collectors,a bit rude,so despite Teheran being a super and willing signer,I was unable to get him before the game.
I was able to get Teheran after the game and was able to get all cards and a baseball signed.
Two other Brave pitching prospects signed as well in Randall Delgado and Brett Oberholzer,who joked about needing to shorten his signature.

Thanks to Big Don,who was able to get me a few members of the Altoona Curve,most notably Tim Alderson,while former big league fireballer Steve Dunning signed through the mail.

Next time we will finish up with some words on the Hagerstown team set and the Lakewood Blue Claws.

Photo Credit
Rosenbaum:Xavier sports information office

Lincoln logs loss in debut

Brad Lincoln's stats look worse than he actually pitched,but he at least avoided the loss as the Pirates dropped a 7-5 duke to the Washington Nationals in Washington.
D.J Carrasco was the loser (1-2) after allowing the winning run in the seventh inning as Ryan Zimmerman smacked a liner off Carrasco's leg.
Tough break,but the standings aren't kept for tough breaks.
The series concludes tonight with Zach Duke (3-6) against the Nationals Livan Hernandez (4-3) ....

Pirate Hooks

1) I thought Brad Lincoln looked pretty strong for his first start.
Other than a mistake to Adam Dunn that Dunn pounded over the wall,Lincoln didn't make many others and other factors came into play as well.
The Dunn homer might not have happened had the home plate umpire called what I thought was strike three instead of calling it ball four on Ryan Zimmerman.
Had the pitch been called a strike,the inning would have ended...

2) The defense didn't help Lincoln much either as Lastings Milledge made a foolish decision in right that cost a run and Andrew McCutchen bobbled a ball off the wall to give extra bases.
Milledge's play was called a hit worsening Lincoln's numbers,but at best was a mental error.

3) The game wasn't well played by either team as Washington handed Pittsburgh runs by simply overthrowing the cutoff man as former Pirate Nyjer Morgan did twice.
Lastings Milledge brings his own disappointments to Pittsburgh,but it is amazing to me how many Nats fan love Morgan.
I don't see a huge amount of Washington games,but I did see the Giants series along with these and it seems that he makes the same poor decisions in the field and on the bases that he did as a Pirate.

4) Jose Tabata had two hits in his debut before leaving in the seventh with what was reported as a hamstring cramp.
Tabata has issues of this type in the past and it would be a shame to see them return just as he prepares to entrench himself with the Bucs.
Tabata may sit tonight out as a safety measure.

5) Brad Lincoln was a strong hitter in college at Houston and he earned two hits at the plate.
Lincoln might not be quite Micah Owings at the dish,but I wager he will be one of the top few hitting pitchers in the game very quickly...

6) Pittsburgh stole four bases on Wil Nieves and the Nationals pitchers.
Usually,its the opposition running wild on Ryan Doumit and the gang.
Nice to see something different!

7) Bob Carpenter and Rob Dibble must really hate Lastings Milledge.
They spent the better part of a inning talking about all his shortcomings.
I know Milledge had his issues in the Capital City,but they really whipped that horse last night.

8) Yesterday,I commented on how much I dislike Dibble and Wooden commented on Dibble being willing to criticize the home team.
Well,he was on the mark as Dibble nailed John Lannan for allowing the Pirates huge jumps on stolen base attempts and slammed Nyjer Morgan for his continual missing the cutoff.
I still am not a Dibble fan,but I always admire home team announcers that aren't afraid to comment negatively on the team that they cover.
Maybe Dibble can talk to the Pirate announcers (except for Bob Walk) about stripping the homer flag away and call it straight.

9) Quick note from the Strasburg game as I watched with Ryan and Battlin' Bob.
We wondered if between the Strasburg hype and Bryce Harper,is there a chance that the Nationals could move from a team that we (all three of us) kinda pull for unless they are playing our teams to a team to root against due to the local hype (Re-The Cal Ripken is the greatest player of all time fraud via the 80's &90's).
The one thing that will help that is that the Nationals will grow over time with more players that we know from Hagerstown and that will (maybe) hold things down a little....

10) Tonight is the last night of real baseball as Friday starts two weeks of interleague misery.
This year feature visits from the White Sox and Indians (Count on Giant coverage that weekend) and road trips to Detroit (Friday),Texas and Oakland.
I am so excited.

Photo Credits:Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Thoughts on the Suns prospective sale

The Herald Mail has just caught onto the possible sale of the Hagerstown Suns,so time for a few words from us on the topic.

First off,anything that can help the aging Municipal Stadium can do nothing but help things.
It seems like the prospective new owners can help that happen.
I lay little fault for that at the feet of Mandalay as they have tried to do what they could through the years and the city of Hagerstown deserves much of the blame for the stadium issues.
I recall talking to Suns management last season and hearing plans that would have been really nice upgrades,but none of them occurred and that was too bad.

Having some local members of the ownership group could help relax some of the constant concerns of the team moving away.
I have always felt that the city (and county to an extent) have never appreciated having a team in the area and some of the decision makers need to have a reality check-this team leaves,one wont be coming back as the Frederick Keys can and would block any team from entering what would instantly become their territory.
That would be excellent business for the Keys,but bad for fans here and perhaps new ownership with local connections could be helpful in working with the city in ways that Mandalay never could.
Sometimes things need a shakeup and seeing a new face across the negotiating table might help in that regard.
However,reading this doesn't exactly make me think that the City Council has any plans of helping the team very much.
Any of these individuals that are anti-stadium will not have to worry about my vote and to any local politicians that are against renovation or a new facility,please stay away from the field.
Nothing is worse than officials spouting off against the teams needs and then strutting out to throw the first pitch with a new Suns cap on like they are a long time fan.....

What's old can always become new again and baseball in Hagerstown just needs some TLC from people that care,from people that care about the community and perhaps more people involved in the front office with local ties and a passion for not just baseball,but Hagerstown baseball.
Employees that want to work for the Hagerstown Suns and not just use the Hub City as a steppingstone to the next market.
Those are the type of people that can really make a difference in generating a turnaround for the franchises with fresh ideas for a product geared towards a fan base that they know and care about.

In my opinion,the legacy of Mandalay's ownership of the Suns will be mixed.
It is hard to give too much credit to a group that only bought the team to attempt to move it (They failed in an attempt to grab the Greenville SC market),but at the same time,attendance improved under their reign and some improvements were made to the stadium on their watch.
The management changed a handful of times and I had mixed experiences with them.
I think Bob Flannery was a good man that always had time to listen even when he may have disagreed with something I wrote or said. Kurt Landis may have been a bit sillier in his promotions than I cared for,but was trying to revitalize a market that was weakening by the day and must be given an tip of the cap for trying things.
Will Smith was not the type of GM that I would have liked and I disagreed with many of his decisions,but he did manage to keep the team afloat,so that is something at least.

In any event,let's give Mandalay a great deal of thanks for hanging in there long enough for the team to stay alive and give the new ownership group full support for changes that have to be made.
Good luck to them and thanks for believing in Hagerstown Baseball.....

Look for a post with suggestions if the sale is finalized....

Strasburg dominates,Lincoln and Tabata arrive

The Stephen Strasburg debut arrived last night and everything appeared to be in place for a spectacular start.
Between the talented Strasburg and the foresight to have him face the Pirates,all was in order and Strasburg gave everyone (except Pirate fans) what they wanted in a 5-2 Washington win.
Strasburg struck out 14 Bucs,but ,due to a two run Delwyn Young homer (3),was still down 2-1 at the end of five.
Losing pitcher Jeff Karstens (1-2) allowed two sixth inning homers and that was all she wrote.
Brad Lincoln makes his long awaited debut in Washington debut,if the rain allows against the Nationals John Lannan (2-3).

Pirate Hooks

1) Brad Lincoln was called up to the Pirates today and surprisingly Jose Tabata will be joining him.
The Post-Gazette is reporting that Tabata will be the left fielder,with Lastings Milledge moving to right and Garrett Jones at first base.

2) I didn't expect Tabata so soon and some wonder why Pedro Alvarez didn't join the promoted pair.
To me,its simple-the Pirates want Alvarez to wait for two reasons-money and money,but in a good way.
Pittsburgh will,like Washington did last night with Strasburg,wait to be at PNC Park and likely against a weak drawing visitor,which will then give them a far larger crowd than usual,therefore making money....

3) One question that I have is this-When Steve Pearce returns,who will be the odd man out?
Pearce had been playing so well before his injury,but to me,it has to be either Lastings Milledge or Pearce.
Not sure which it will be,although Milledge and his zero homers isn't boosting his case very much,but Tabata wasn't promoted to ride the bench and Jones is a John Russell favorite.
Should be an interesting decision.

4) The gentlemen that were bid adieu to make roster room were Jeff Clement and Jack Taschner.
Clement was assigned to Indianapolis,while Taschner was designated for assignment in a move that was destined to occur from the day he signed the contract with the Pirates.
Clement seems to be one of those dreaded 4A players and I just don't see anything that will break the cycle of Indianapolis dominance and Pittsburgh struggles..

5) Delwyn Young's homer off Strasburg was remarkably similar to his pinch hit shot off San Francisco's excellent closer Brian Wilson over the weekend.
Young (in my opinion) will always do better against fastball pitchers than the soft toss types.

6) Finally,some Strasburg talk.
You have to be impressed,but at the same time,you have keep things in perspective.
Look at the opposition and everything was in place for him to succeed.
Give the Nationals all the credit for that and that how things should be done,just remember quite a few players have had similar starts that wound up short of stardom.

7) Still not in love with his mechanics.
Just something that I cannot quite put my finger on,but I am still not fully comfortable there.

8) I have spoken in the past of how much I enjoy Bob Carpenter's work,but Nationals color analyst Rob Dibble is the worst.
Dibble offers a ridiculous comment seemingly every inning such as this gem "Strasburg showing why he might be better than Walter Johnson"
As in Hall of Famer Walter Johnson?
How this guy keeps his job is beyond me.

9) I noticed while looking at a few posts,that I never worked on a post for the Pirates top 15 prospects.
I will attempt to rectify that over the Minor League All Star break...

Back later with more on either the Suns sale or more On the Signing Front...

Photo Credit-
Young:Getty Images

On the signing front-II

More from the signing front as we look at the Asheville Tourists and Kinston Indians.

Asheville is still the SAL affiliate of the Colorado Rockies,who didn't do themselves many favors with local collectors with their decision to wait until late May to promote first round pick Tyler Matzek and second rounder Nolan Arenado.
So since Asheville is the only Rockie affiliate on the east coast,chances of getting those two prospects are dim.
The Tourists were kinda of unremarkable bunch,not a lot of stories to tell or top prospects either as the two most notable were third rounder Kent Matthes,who had just been called to Asheville and Chris Balcolm-Miller,who was the pitcher of the year last season for the short season Pioneer League...

Kinston brought the High A Tribe to Frederick and I needed some players that had skipped Low A,but not a lot.
That will change next season as the K-Tribe will have graduates of the now Midwest League member Lake County Captains.
The big disappointment was that top pick Alex White was moved up to AA Akron on the day of our visit,so White was missed.
However,second rounder Jason Kipnis signed and was very cool in chatting with us as he signed his various cards and Abner Abreu signed a few as well.
Abreu is one of Cleveland's top prospects and missed the last half of last season with an injury.
I did have a Bowman chrome (which seems to be tough to find) of Abreu that I pulled out of the few packs that I have been able to buy.

Thanks to my friend Jason Christensen,who was able to get some stuff for me and included extras that I didn't send.
Jason helps me more than I can ever help him and I wanted to thank him again for his help.
Jason's big fish from this batch included Kyle Drabek,Lars Anderson,who is reported to be signing less and less anymore,Zach Stewart (on a Texas Tech card!),Darin Mastroiani on a Bowman Blue that I pulled a few years back and the best of all was a bonus-Gio Gonzalez on one of his two cards as a Phillie.
I mentioned this a while back,but wanted to thank Jason again...

Next time,we will look at the Myrtle Beach Pelicans and their primo prospect Julio Teheran,the Greenvill Drive and even more help from my friends!.....

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Stetson Allie to Buccos,

A short update on the Pirates and Indians second round picks.

The Pirates selected Stetson Allie,the top player in the draft remaining after round one.
The word on Allie was that he would be a difficult sign,but this is a tremendous pick and yet another power arm.
I love this pick because if Allie signs,the Bucs take a huge jump in minor league arms and if they don't,they will have the third pick in the second round in the supposedly loaded 2011 draft.Allie projects as a closer due to his high end velocity,but could stay as a starter with a few tweaks to help his control.

The Indians tabbed center fielder Levon Washington from a Florida JUCO with their second rounder.
Washington was Tampa's top pick last season and did not sign and returned to the draft.
Washington likely would have made more money had he signed with the Rays and is not a guaranteed sign for the Wahoos.
Washington will have to get by with the bat as he is reported to have issues with his labrum,hindering his throwing from the outfield.
Indians Prospect Insider has heard rumblings that in the event that Washington does sign that the Indians are considering a move to second base for the speedy Floridian.

Both teams go high risk,high reward in Round two,but I prefer the Pirates pick of Allie of the two.
I do admire both teams aggressiveness in going for the most talented player available instead of an easier sign and they could afford to do that with the terrific 2011 draft that would give each team an extra high second round pick,if they are unable to get a deal completed....

Taillon to Pirates,Pomerantz to Indians

The Pittsburgh Pirates went to Las Vegas,while the Cleveland Indians stayed home and put their money into patio furniture.
What the hell am I talking about?
Well,compare the draft to allocating your vacation/luxury income for the season and the Pirates went into gambling/vacation mode while the Indians put the money into the safe,everyday item that might not be as fun,but was the stable choice.

Pittsburgh's against the grain pick was Texas
hig school pitcher Jameson Taillon,who hails from the Woodland high school,which is the alma mater of Kyle Drabek.
The 6'6 righthander was clocked at touching 99 and a knee buckling curve to boot.
Taillon's changeup was also raved about by Neal Huntington,although considering his toolbox,I cannot imagine him having to use it very often at the high school level.
The Taillon package could have made him the top overall selection,if the Bryce Harper hype not overwhelmed Washington into a position of having to take Harper,although taking Stephen Strasburg might have take Taillon out of consideration in any event.
Neal Huntington kept talking about the risk/reward factor and I can see his point along with other Pirate bloggers concerned with the history of injury with high school pitchers,but injury risks come with ANY pitchers no matter high school,college or even at the major league level.
Kyle Drabek had Tommy John after he was in the Phillies organization,think many teams would cross him off now?
This is the type of pick that the Pirates never make and give me hope that truly there is hope for the future for the Black and Gold.
Let's Gamble on Greatness for a change and Neal Huntington has done just that.
Blown picks always hurt,but people will give you some credit for trying for the elite instead of the constant settling for the easy sure thing.
I would have been more than fine with Manny Machado (chosen next by the Orioles),but I must admit I love the attitude shown by taking Taillon,who shows the type of potential to be the top of the rotation stud that hasn't been seen in Pittsburgh,since....since....since....,never mind!

Cleveland did what Cleveland (and usually the Pirates) always does as they took Ole Miss lefthanded pitcher Drew Pomeranz with the fifth pick overall.
To be completely fair,Pomeranz seems to be the best lefty of a weak draft class at that position and to continue to pound that dead horse "safe",but Cleveland (like Pittsburgh) needs to attempt to hit homers,not singles against the shift.
This was the first time that the Indians have picked in the top five since 1992 (Paul Shuey at 2) and these are the times that lower revenue teams need to at least try to add high end talent.
I don't have many knocks on Pomeranz,although I would have been beside myself had Pittsburgh taken him at 2 as had been rumored as late as last week,but even though the Indians rank him as a "front of the rotation" starter,I don't quite share that opinion.
Cleveland could have rolled the dice on a potential impact bat such as Texas Arlington outfielder Michael Choice (Oakland 10),Miami catcher Yasmani Grandal or power high school bat Josh Sale,but those guys had issues with signability and the Indians rarely play that game.
So,they took a nice player that will likely see big league time (think a Brad Lincoln type),but not someone that you can build a rotation around,let alone a team.
Sometimes,you have to roll those dice at the craps table and gamble on greatness-Pittsburgh did,Cleveland didn't.

Back later with the Pirates against some guy named Strasburg in Washington.

Photo Credits
Taillon:Julio Cortez-Houston Chronicle
Pomeranz:Rogelio Solis-AP Photo

On the signing front

I attempt to catch up on a huge pile of cards with the first of several entries from the signing front for May and early June.

The month started with a a trip to Frederick to see the Winston-Salem Dash.
The Dash might have the worst logo (reminds me of the kids toy Mad Balls from the 80's & 90's) and arguably the worst name in the game as well.

That is sprinkled in with the color combo of purple and pink and you have a recipe for awful.
Winston-Salem's top prospect that we were able to get was third baseman Jon Gilmore,but I didn't have a ton of stuff since the team didn't make a 2009 set and their low A provider Kannapolis had been to Hagerstown last season.

The next visitor to Hagerstown was the Pirate affiliate from West Virginia.
The Power brought in some interesting names as second round pick Victor Black arrived in town to join the team for the first time all season.
Black talked for quite a while about the injury that he suffered and the time spent in Florida rehabbing.
Victor signed five cards for me,most notably a Bowman purple refractor and a Donruss elite Gold of which there was only 50 made.
Very nice fellow and easy to root for,Victor has since went back on the DL.
Other nice pickups were first baseman Aaron Baker,who added Go Sooners to his Donruss card and was ridden by the same guy that delights in razzing opposition first baseman all night,third round pick Evan Chambers and Jesus Brito,who was obtained from Cleveland before the season for Brian Bixler.
I also got coach Josh Bonifay on his old Hickory card and when I asked why he used an Orange sharpie,he replied "I love the contrast on the paper,dude!"
Devon White was around helping the Suns outfielders around this time and signed two cards as well.

A few thank yous for cards around this time go out to Tom O'Brien and Mike Treadwell.
Tom helped me with Richmond,now a Giants team in the return of baseball to the Virginia capital.Roger Kieschnick,Thomas Neal,Conor Gillespie and Darren Ford were notables,although Tom reports that Ford signed all cards but refused to sign his Bowman card with the Brewers.
Neal,a top 50 prospect was the player that I really wanted and Tom was able to get all four card signed.
Mike took a trip to Delmarva to see the Savannah Sand Gnats,who do not visit Hagerstown.
Mike helped me with Juan Lagares,Alonso Harris and Mark Cohoon among others.

I also pulled a David Lough refractor autograph from a Bowman pack and former Ranger pitcher Jim Umbarger signed through the mail.

The next Signing Front will look at the Asheville Tourists in Hagerstown,the Kinston Indians in Frederick and more help from my friends.....