Thursday, June 30, 2011

Clipped by the Jays

First in what I hope will become the return to daily Pirate coverage.

Looks like my schedule looks as follows -12 days at work,2 off.12 on and then MAYBE a normal schedule again to try to pull some fun out of this baseball season in August.

The Pirates were just overpowered by cannon armed Brandon Morrow in a 2-1 loss in Toronto.
Pittsburgh managed just four singles in the game and struck out ten times against Morrow,with Paul Maholm picking up the loss (4-9).
The series and interleague season ends (YES!) tonight with Jeff Karstens (5-4) against Toronto's Brett Cecil (1-2).

Pirate Hooks

1) Not a ton to say other than the Pirates blundered twice on the base paths,once in the inning that they scored their only run in (5th).
Neil Walker scored on a Ronny Cedeno single to center that Matt Diaz make far too big of a turn at second leaving him a dead duck as the throw home was cut off.
Combine that with a Garrett Jones stumble,fumble and fall that saw him tagged out at first and it was a bad running night....

2) Paul Maholm was fine,but Brandon Morrow was dominating.
Morrow showed signs of what made him a first rounder by Seattle a few years back with a fastball.slider combo that kept Pittsburgh off balance all evening long.

3) Toronto is a pretty dull team to watch.
Take former Buc Jose Bautista's bat away and it gets downright tedious.

4) Anyone want to explain to me how a team calls itself the Blue Jays and yet has so little blue on their hats and jerseys?

5) The Rogers Centre (nee SkyDome) might be the last stadium standing against the Tampa stadium for worst in the game.Ugh...
More on that tomorrow...

Photo Credit:Claus Andersen/Getty Images

Monday, June 27, 2011

Goodbyes to Mitchell,Charles and Hernandez

Time to say some goodbyes to those that have recently left us,but first a note from the work front.
Looks like a nutty schedule through most of July,if not all.
I am going to take the occasional day off,but still far more work than average.
I work tonight,off tomorrow and then work twelve days in a row.
For those of you counting that is 44 working days of a possible 46.....

Goodbye to my favorite Cavalier of the Ted Stepien era of Cleveland basketball as Mike Mitchell passed away at the age of 55 after fighting cancer for two years.
Mitchell was the first round pick of the Cavaliers in 1978 from Auburn and averaged 22 points a game in a career that saw him spend three and a half seasons in Cleveland before another poor trade sent Mitchell to San Antonio where he would spend the remainder of his career that ended in 1988 at just 32 years old.
Mitchell would play another twelve in the Italian leagues.
I'll always remember that sweet jump shot and being the only shining light in a dim time period for the Cavaliers....

Goodbye to former CNN sports host and boxing announcer Nick Charles at 64.Nick Charles was the mainstay of CNN"s Sports Tonight which battled Sports Center throughout the 1980's and 1990's for highlight supremacy.
I always preferred the Charles/Fred Hickman team with other talent such as Vince Cellini to the ESPN offerings for the most part as they seemed to be so much more professional as well as loving the games.
Charles had been battling bladder cancer for the last few years that had cut back his boxing schedule.
Boxing had always been Charles first love and he always called a good fight.
Nick Charles will be missed....

Goodbye to former Junior Lightweight and Lightweight champion Genaro Hernandez at 45.
"Chicanito" passed on from a rare disease called rhabdomyosarcoma,which attacks muscle fibers.
Hernandez lost his two biggest fights (his only two losses) to Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather,but always showed class in both victory and defeat.
Hernandez had worked for various networks as one of the punch counters on televised fights as well as for the Top Rank boxing promotion....

Seems that the insidious disease known as cancer has had a big month.
Our best to all the fans and families of all three men....

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Pirate Hooks

I continue to try to catch up on things even though work is just as crazy as ever.
However,it is rumored that this could be coming to an end in as few as 10 days,so even though the wallet will suffer,other things will prosper.

I have not been watching much Pirates baseball with interleague play and the workload increase,but I did catch some of last night's game against Boston.
Put the win aside,it was nice to hear fans at PNC Park chanting and cheering for the Pirates,although I heard some Red Sox fans there as well,but nothing like the Phillies series,where it often felt like a home game for Philadelphia.

Not sure if keeping Chase D'Arnaud around for more than a as needed cameo is good for his development,but bringing him up for a few games and actually playing him is not a bad idea.
I liked D'Arnaud's speed and hustle in beating out an infield single on a ball hit to shortstop.

I am all on board with the idea of giving Eric Fryer a shot for a while with Mike McHenry.
I do not consider Fryer a huge prospect,but considering the option of giving Fryer an occasional try or sticking with Dusty Brown,I  have no problem at all with the move.

Alex Presley will be promoted on Tuesday for what I hope is more than a cameo.
As recently as 2009,Presley looked like an organizational soldier to me,but suddenly turned into an OPS machine since  as he has dominated AA and AAA baseball after looking pretty average in his years at low and high A ball.
Presley deserves a chance to see what he can do under the top-there is nothing more that he can do at Indianapolis.

The Pirates have signed a handful of their draft picks,the highest pick being fourth round Texas high school pitcher Colten Brewer,but the player that intrigues me the most is Jordan Cooper,who the Pirates drafted in 2009 in round seventeen and tried again this season in round twenty three after two seasons with the Kentucky Wildcats.
I liked Cooper quite a bit two years ago and despite inconsistency in Lexington,he had some quality starts as well and showed some signs of possibly being a real steal in this slot.

I may be back later with some goodbyes for some people that have recently passed away.....

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Devils commit Grand "Larssony"

Of all of the players that I had hoped that the New Jersey Devils would be able to draft with the fourth pick in last night's draft-Swedish defenseman, Adam Larsson was the player that I wished for most.
When the Devils won their finale' in Boston and then won the draft lottery, I wrote that Larsson was likely lost by a meaningless victory.
I never thought Larsson would fall to the fourth spot, but three teams ahead had needs at forward, which allowed certainly the best defenseman and arguably the best player available in the draft to become a Devil.
This is exactly the type of player that makes last season's off-year worth tolerating, not that I want another one like it or anything.....

Larsson looks to be the complete package for a team that has missed a true scoring defenseman since the departure of Scott Niedermayer and carries a tag of being physical and able to defend the zone more than other D-men that are strong on the offensive end.

Since Larsson is from Sweden, the natural comparison is to Detroit's great Nicklas Lidstrom and Larsson seems to have some of the same skills as the future Hall of Famer, although that is an almost unreachable standard, the comments show what a talented player the team has brought into the fold.
The 6'3 Larsson has also been favorably compared to the talented Victor Hedman of Tampa, with most grading Larsson as better offensively, more physical, and better ice vision than Hedman with Hedman having the edge in pure skating.
Lou Lamoriello was quoted as saying that Larsson would be given every opportunity to make the club for the upcoming season, although Larsson is regarded to be more likely to return to Sweden if the choice is Sweden or the Devils AHL club in Albany.

In any event, it is nice to see that one of my teams did what I had hoped for (Pirates Cole over Rendon and Cavaliers Irving over Williams) and that team being the Devils does not come as a surprise to me.
Welcome to the family, Adam Larsson and I would bet that the stay will be a long one! 

Photo Credit:Bruce Bennett-Getty Images

Friday, June 24, 2011

Two drafts down.One to go

The month of the draft junkie dreams concludes tonight with the New Jersey Devils holding the fourth pick in the NHL Draft.With the Pirates and Cavaliers each holding the top pick and the Devils in rare form at fourth overall,the draft season has been fun for me.
I am first to tell you that I am not knowledgeable about the NHL drafts compared to the other three league drafts,but I always try to find out as much as I can about players that should be available around the Devils pick before the draft,so I have an idea of what to expect.

With the Devils at four,the player that I hope to see fall is Swedish defenseman Adam Larsson,who is the best blueliner in the draft.This draft seems to be fairly equal in talent among the top five or six players and things could fall that way for the Devils,although I would not be surprised if they would not.
If Larsson is gone,I am hoping for Sean Couturier,a 6'4 center who entered the season as the top prospect in the draft,but has slipped a bit.
If both of those two are available, then that means either center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (who I expect to go to Edmonton at one) or Swedish left winger Gabriel Landeskog has slipped and I would love either player...

This is a rare chance for the Devils to add a top five prospect to their system and I am sure that the Devils will likely select from the four players above and take advantage of a down season to the best of their ability....

Just two new Cavaliers?

The Cleveland Cavaliers entered last night's NBA Draft with two picks in each round and managed to come home with just two players for next season's Swordsmen.

As expected, the Cavaliers tapped Duke's Kyrie Irving as the point guard and centerpiece of the rebuilding effort.
I would have preferred Arizona's Derrick Williams, but I have little issues with plugging Irving in at point guard.
Irving joins a crowded spot at the point that will need to be winnowed a bit before the season, but more on that later.

With center Enes Kanter taken off the board by Utah at the third spot, most had the Cavaliers taking Lithuanian center Jonas Valanciunas with their selection with the fourth overall pick.
However, with a contract situation that could have seen Cleveland not see Valanciunas for as many as two seasons, the Cavaliers decided to go with a player that they could plug in and develop now in forward Tristan Thompson of Texas.

The 6'9 Thompson is reported to be an excellent rebounder and shot blocker, but limited in his offensive game.
So limited that ESPN's Jay Bilas offered this gem that Thompson "needs to learn to score by putting the ball in the basket".
That brought a puzzled expression from the lovely Cherie, who was only half listening and wondered aloud about that being an important part of the game, isn't it?
Looking at YouTube of Thompson (I do not use videos for basketball players because the music is usually just mind-numbingly awful), the player that he brings to mind is Atlanta's Josh Smith and I'll take that with no regrets.

In the second round, Cleveland chose another power forward, but this one with perimeter skills in Richmond's Justin Harper.
When I saw this pick, I was intrigued but two thoughts came to mind- one is can Cleveland have this many power forwards? and the other was didn't the Cavaliers just trade for a perimeter shooting power forward in Luke Harangody? It was irrelevant as Harper was quickly shipped to Orlando for two future second-rounders.
Considering that this pick was the second pick in the round, I was surprised that it did not have more value.

Cleveland finished up with another Euro Milan Macvan, who not only is a- Wait for it..
Power Forward, but ESPN's European analyst Fran Fraschilla stated he doubted Macvan would EVER play in the USA.

Looking at the roster, the team seems loaded (by numbers, at least) at power forward and point guard, so I don't think the deals are finished yet.

Irving, Baron Davis, and Ramon Sessions are one guard too many at the point and the addition of Thompson gives the team an abundance of 6'7'-6"9 guys that range from aging Antawn Jamison to J.J. Hickson and further down the chain.
Look for at least two players to be moved for a shooting guard and or small forward to unblock the logjam and add to the two weakest spots on the team.....

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cavaliers rebuild starts tonight

The true rebuilding of the Cleveland Cavaliers starts tonight with the NBA Draft as the Cavaliers hold the first and fourth picks as well as picks 32 (second pick of round two) and 54 in the draft.

Cleveland appears to leaning towards Duke point guard Kyrie Irving at the top of the draft,although Arizona forward Derrick Williams is not out of the question as well.
Rumors persist the Cavaliers truly believe in both players and are attempting to spin a swap with Minnesota at the number two spot to land both players.
Now that I would be thrilled with,but I am not sure that will occur.
I prefer Williams by a shade because I was very impressed with his play in the NCAA tourney,but I will not be disappointed with Irving either.
The NBA is becoming more and more of a point guard driven league and I can see an argument for Irving being the foundation for the rebuilding.

If Cleveland is unable land both players,I look for the Cavaliers to go big with the fourth pick.
The likely pick would be Enes Kanter,who was committed to Kentucky,but was ruled ineligible there.
There are other Europeans in the mix,but Kanter dominated in an All Star contest of college recruits before last season and he seems to be the safer pick,albeit with the unknown factor less upside...
I could also see Cleveland moving this pick along with their soon to expire trade exception if the right deal was offered,so we will see....

With the early second rounder being similar to a late first,Cleveland should be able to add another player that makes the team next season.
Looking at the roster, I would bet that a shooter would be a must from one of the two second rounders.
With the exception of Daniel Gibson,Cleveland cannot feel too strongly about their perimeter shooting among the returning players.
If they take the best player available at 32, a one dimensional shooter type might be the way they go at 54.

In any event,things get started for Cleveland tonight and things can only get better.....

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Hanging out,Striking out and Tastee Freeze....

Hanging out with my friend Kendall Morris and discovering one of the remaining Tastee Freez's in the country salvaged a long,hot and autograph poor day with the Delmarva Shorebirds and their poor attempt at the South Atlantic League All Star fan fest.

We arrived in Salisbury over an hour before the event and figured that we would be near the back of the line.
What we didn't know was the line would be roughly to Ocean City and would move slower than a crippled crab at low tide.
The Shorebirds eschewed the far superior system that the Hagerstown Suns used for their team autograph sessions in the past,which put a few players at several different stations,in favor of a one group line that proved to be a huge traffic clogger.
Considering the large amount of fans that just wanted Hagerstown slugger Bryce Harper,the "Suns' system would have allowed more fans to grab other player's signatures by thinning the herd of the Harper groupies,who in return would have been more likely to get Harper's autograph as well.

The Shorebirds also had few employees stopping collectors from going through the line and then jumping back in the middle of the line and going through again.
Sometimes doing things the right way and waiting your turn as Kendall and I did today brings the Leo Durocher adage to mind-"Nice guys finish last".
The team was too busy sending their employees along the lines hawking 3.50 bottles of water ( 1 of these is about the size of the bottles that come 24 to a case for 4.99) and 4.00 half liters of Diet Pepsi to fans hammered by the heat pounding off the concrete to the fans that had to buy a ticket to attend and then get pissed on once the money was obtained.
A longer roped area and using people to enforce the line would have made more people pleased and fair to all,but the team apparently didn't feel that was important....
The line moved slowly and the Northern Division was finished for their hour and we were nowhere close to them.
Disappointed fans began to leave,so the line did move somewhat faster for the Southern players,but just as we got into hoping distance,a burly employee cut the line off and ended the session for the rest in line.
I watched one fan question this person about the whole fiasco,who basically told him to buzz off and take his lumps.
Disgusted,Kendall and I walked around the interior of the park a bit as the North hit batting practice and pondered a purchase of the All Star set for the game.
I was going to buy a set earlier and the Shorebirds could not even get that right as the line for the merchandise tent was pretty long as well.
I didn't mind waiting,but waiting behind several people trying on shirts,when I just needed cards that did not look likely to get signed was a huge time waster as well as do re mi-No sale.
I was reconsidering the set at the team shop inside to have cards to work on for the future,but my decision stood-they were not getting another nickel of my money..

Kendall and I decided to toss in the towel and head back to the Hub City,defeated in graphing,but not in conversation as those had been a riot all day,when we caught a break-some of the Southern players had stopped before the clubhouse and were signing!
I saw the one player that I wanted most-Asheville outfielder Kyle Parker,who had no cards when the Tourists hit Hagerstown,but now had the SAL top prospect card and was able to nab him on the SAL card.
I also added Savannah outfielder Cory Vaughn on his SAL and NY/Penn prospect cards.
Savannah never comes to Hagerstown,so that was a great addition  and Savannah pitcher Greg Peavey signed his USA card from a few years back.
I also got two Augusta pitchers Taylor Rogers and Shawn Sanford.
The Greenjackets come into town next month,but you get cards when you can.
A late rally and the player that I wanted most on the Southern team,but considering our time and money-a disappointing day.
Poor planning,poor customer service and price gouging fans in the heat that are placed there due to your incompetence put a scarlet A beside the Shorebirds name.

On the ride home,we stopped at one of the two Tastee Freez's in the state of Maryland and laughter ensued as the cash register took several times to take our order,the young man trying to get this to work was apologetic but he was being given orders by this scary older woman,who was at least 75 and had more facial hair then either Kendall or I.
This might have worked had she had any idea what the hell she was doing,but she didn't.
I paid cash,because I was afraid a credit card would have locked the damn place down and stuck us in Easton for the evening.
The restaurant also had a United States post office in the back of the building,which struck us as odd but as a good idea.
Keeping in the spirit of the day,as we left -a sign on the door read that the USPS branch was officially closing on Friday!

A quick pic of the large Chicken Bucket outside and we were off to finish the day.
Not totally successful as hoped,but fun in spots and an ode to my childhood with the burgers at Tastee Freez,which was the only fast food chain in Boonsboro when I grew up.
Thanks to Kendall for the good parts of the show and a big raspberry to the Delmarva Shorebirds staff for wrecking what should have been a productive and fun day......

Monday, June 20, 2011

Coming back Crabby!!!

The long grind ends tonight.but with one night off and then six more in a row on the horizon,things are far from through.
It looks like it might be like this (although maybe not to this degree) for most of July and maybe into August.
This has ruined much of the summer for baseball except the local teams,but the benefits of taking care of things now will make things easier for the fall coverage.

I'll use this for a general update of things and then hope to get some more thoughts up on Wednesday when I have some time to catch up further.
Some of those thoughts may be a bit dated after all this,but hopefully still worth reading....

Setting the lack of time for anything other than baseball and sleep aside,the lack of Pirate coverage truly did come down to a combination of bad luck and disinterest.
The Pirates series in Houston is always a tough go unless they are there on off nights and the series against the Indians is always a must miss as I simply do not enjoy it.
I will see tonight's game against Baltimore,but coverage here is unlikely due to lack of time.
I am going to the SAL All-Star game tomorrow and leaving soon after work,so time to type is likely to be non-existent.

Had a great time at my parents yesterday.
First time that I have had blue crabs in years and the food and company were excellent.My brother and his girlfriend/children were there and I had a nice time spending the day with them.
The best part was teaching the lovely Cherie and Rachel how to take care of the crab as they had never had them.I tried to prep them by telling them that it was far more labor intensive than just the larger snow crab legs for less meat,so I did try anyway!
I played more of the official Ohio state game (Euchre) than I have in years there and it was nice to know that I was still awful at it!
Thanks to my dad for allowing us to share his Father's Day with him.

Also congrats to Ryan and his new fiance' Ashley on their engagement.
That's right,not only is my little boy out of the house,he'll be married soon.
Imagine having me for a father in law-Ashley-Good Luck and is there any chance that I can attend the ceremony on closed circuit and not have to hang around anyone???
But seriously,best wishes to them and I look forward to getting to know my newest family member better.

I am hoping to have a look at the Devils and Cavaliers draft previews up before the respective drafts on the Thursday and Friday,so of the planned posts,those two have top priority.

I'll try to whip things into shape soon and get things back here to the way that they should be with a post of goodbyes,a story or two and maybe even more.
Hang in there and things will be getting better...

Monday, June 13, 2011

On the signing front

On the signing front starts with the May visit to Hagerstown from the Delmarva Shorebirds.
Touted top draft pick Manny Machado signed one a night,but signed every night,so I don't have a problem with that at all.Other Shorebirds of note included Jonathan Schoop,Brendan Webb,Jarrod Martin and Mychal Givens,who missed much of last season due to injuries.
Former Pirate and Indian Jose Hernandez is the Shorebirds hitting coach and I was able to have him sign two cards,my favorite being a Topps heritage in the 1956 set mold.
I also added the Suns top two young arms in A.J. Cole and Robbie Ray,who are both very nice signers.

I kept last month's visit to Harrisburg focused on the visiting Altoona Curve.
Former Pirate first rounder Tony Sanchez signed six cards for me before the game and asked me after the game,if I had anything else,which I added three more and a baseball.
Tony is an easy guy to root for as is Jared Hughes,who remembered me from the past and talked for a few minutes,Jared was recently promoted to Indianapolis and we wish him well there.
Starling Marte was another nice addition as he did not have any cards when he played for the West Virginia Power here in Hagerstown.
Other notables included Brock Holt,Tim Alderson,Bryan Morris and Jeff Locke.

The Kannapolis Intimidators hit Hagerstown with a weak prospect class,which mainly features former second rounder Trayce Thompson,who was very accommodating.
Thompson is the son of former Blazers,Spurs and Lakers center Mychal Thompson.

In the middle of the Kannapolis series,I made a one day detour to Frederick for the Potomac Nationals.
I didn't have much for them considering many of the players were in Hagerstown last season.
I did want to add Cutter Dykstra,an off season addition and was able to do so.
I also added Eury Perez on his Bowman and Danny Rosenbaum on his Topps Debut.

The Kinston Indians and their main goal was last season's first rounder Drew Pomerantz,who signed two cards along with the injury plagued former top Indians prospect Adam Miller.Another nice pickup was the speedy outfielder Tyler Holt,who signed with the Indians from Florida State.

Asheville came into Hagerstown with the only Eastern team for the Colorado Rockies.
The biggest catch was former Clemson QB and Colorado top pick Kyle Parker,who signed the "Flusty" blank card since he does not have a card yet.
Another cool addition was former N.C. State passer Russell Wilson along with power armed prospect Peter Tago.
All three of them were super nice and accommodating
This series also saw me get two limited cards signed by Hagerstown Suns as Robbie Ray signed his Bowman USA and Adrian Sanchez his Donruss elite card.
Sammy Solis,the second rounder of Washington last season also signed two cards.
The Suns starters this year are a pretty nice group to ask.

Thanks to the "Superfan" for his help with Bryce Harper.
I am not a fan of the swarming bunch of fans and I don't want to get into the middle of the mess,so thanks to the "SF" for getting my card signed....
The Superfan also got me former Pirate pitcher and current rule 5 pick with the Royals Nathan Adcock at Baltimore.

Thanks to Tom O'brien for his constant help with Bowie and the Independent leagues.
Tom's big pickup for me on this group was Pirate manager Clint Hurdle with the Pirates in DC and former Ranger reliever Steve Foucault from the indys...

Thanks to Bruce for his help with Greg Golson with the Scranton/Wilkes Barre.

That should make some room for cards to be put away.
I'll try to finish later in the week with the rest of the signing front!

Mail successes

Former Indians closer Doug Jones
Former White Sox pitcher Randy Scarbery
Former Astros and Cardinal pitcher Larry Dierker
Former Indians and Giants second baseman Duane Kuiper
Former White Sox third baseman Kevin Bell
Former Indians shortstop Jerry Kenney
Former Pirates and White Sox pitcher Ross Baumgarten
Former Tigers and White Sox pitcher Lerrin LaGrow
Former Padres pitcher Tom Dukes
Former Indians pitcher Curt Wardle
Former Giants pitcher Billy O'Dell
Former Rangers shortstop Jeff Kunkel
Former White Sox third baseman Bill Melton

Former Jets linebacker Kyle Clifton
Former Bears defensive end and Hall of Famer Dan Hampton
Former Cardinal punter Carl Birdsong
Former Bronco kicker David Treadwell
Former Saints quarterback Edd Hargett
Former Browns kicker Don Cockroft
Former Raiders and Oilers quarterback Ken Stabler-should be a HOFer
Former Cowboys safety Michael Downs
Former Lions quarterback Chuck Long
Former Broncos punter Mike Horan
Former Broncos wide reciever Steve Watson
Former Broncos safety Dennis Smith
Former Packer quarterback Jerry Tagge
Former 49er and Redskins running back Wilbur Jackson
Former Ohio State,Rams and Oilers tackle Doug France

Former 76er guard Hersey Hawkins
Former Laker guard Byron Scott

Former Presidential Candidate Pat Buchanan
Supermodel and actress Christie Brinkley

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Pirate cleanup

Time to catch up on a few Pirate thoughts after a few days of catching up on non-Bucco issues.
I would like to add thanks to the nice comments on both Facebook and via email for the Bryce Harper related post.
Those are the type of notes that make this worth doing and they are appreciated.
Instead of getting in depth on specific games over the Arizona series and the slamming at the hands of the Mets,I'll do a general overview and try to return to normal for the next game.

The Pirates have severe issues at catcher with the likely season ending injury to Chris Snyder,who injured his back sliding into second in the Arizona series.
Adding that to the already injured Ryan Doumit and the injury to Jason Jaramillo at Indianapolis,the Pirates are stuck with using Dusty Brown and Wyatt Toregas as the catchers,which is not even an average platoon for AAA,let alone for the Pirates.

Should Pittsburgh pursue a stopgap catcher during the absence of both players?
As bad as the Brown/Toregas platoon is going to be with the stick,I would hate to see the Pirates swap something of value for what basically be about 4-8 weeks of an average backstop.

The Pirates needed to help the bullpen from the left side and brought Tony Watson up from AAA Indianapolis to fill the void left by Joe Beimel's trip to the DL.
Jose Ascanio was designated for assignment after an ERA over 7.00 sent him off the 40 man roster to make space for Watson.
Ascanio was a piece of the giveaway of Tom Gorzelanny and John Grabow to the Cubs and frankly,never did much for me.
Just another hard thrower with little idea of how to pitch.

Evan Meek is headed back to the DL with shoulder soreness and he is headed to the dreaded Dr.James Andrews to take a look at the shoulder.
Meek was replaced by Tim Wood on the roster,who has posted excellent numbers at Indianapolis with an ERA under three and averaging a strikeout per inning.
Wood tossed a scoreless inning in the loss to the Mets.

Meek's loss added to the injuries that have weakened a surprisingly effective bullpen thus far.
Joel Hanrahan has become one of the better closers in the league and pitchers such as Chris Resop and Jose Veras have successfully filled their roles as well.

It did not take much to see that Charlie Morton was going to have a long night.
Morton was keeping the ball far higher than normal and was having issues keeping the ball in the strike zone.
Morton was through after four innings.

Pedro Alvarez continues to have issues with an injured quad and has ceased playing in Florida.
Alvarez has struggled all season,but the Pirates need to take this slow and make sure when Alvarez returns,it is not too soon and create a chronic injury.

The Pirates also made me think back to the past even though I didn't see the Andrew McCutchen walkoff homer against Arizona live.
It reminded me so much of the early 90's teams that never seemed to be out of a game and at first thought,made me think of a Barry Bonds walkoff shot at Three Rivers Stadium.

Friday, June 10, 2011

In the end,more trouble than he was worth

Terrelle Pryor will not be returning to Ohio State for the upcoming season and frankly,I hope this is the end and not the beginning of the Buckeye issues involving the highly touted Pennsylvania passer..

Let's put the various issues involving Pryor off the field to the side.
Rules were broken and only time will tell if all the accusations are true,but we know that some are legitimate complaints.
One can say the rules are silly as Bob Knight did recently,but in any case,rules were broken,punishments will be doled out and things will move on.

I would prefer to discuss the disappointment of Terrelle Pryor on the field instead and why in the end,he just was not worth the trouble he brought.
Despite his occasional flashes of brilliance like the Rose Bowl win over Oregon,Pryor all too often was more show than dough and one could even look at his problems throwing the ball as main reason for the odd Buckeye defeat.

Pryor came to OSU filled with hype as the next version of Michael Vick and Vince Young as the supreme hybrid of a physically punishing runner that passes some as well.
The problem was the player that entered Columbus was pretty much the same guy that is leaving town,very little progression in the passing game and never seemed to grasp the mental game.
Terrelle Pryor never struck me as a huge NFL prospect to begin with,but his sense of entitlement off the field and his lack of discipline on it showed that in the overall picture-Pryor has to be looked at as a disappointment,despite the Rose and Sugar Bowl trophies that he helped to bring in.

One thing that I would add is this-All the Big Ten fans crowing about the Pryor issue ask this?
Do any of you (Pryor runner ups michigan and Penn State most notably) think anything changes for Pryor had you gotten him?
I doubt it-the same type of people that were enablers in Columbus are in Ann Arbor,State College etc and I doubt Joe Paterno or anyone else was going to stop that.

In the end,despite the ability and the occasional brilliance,he just was not worth what he brought.
That is the shame of Terrelle Pryor that goes beyond tattoos and cars.

Indians select Lindor,Howard and Sisco

The Cleveland Indians traveled the best player on the board route and then attempted to add to their power arms with their first three picks in the amateur draft.

Francisco Lindor was the highest-rated shortstop in the draft and was projected as a top ten selection.
The Florida high schooler is touted as a top-notch leather man, hits for average, and projects to perhaps mature to a 15 to 20 homer a year hitter with some luck eventually.
Lindor hits from both sides of the plate and is reported to have plus speed.
Lindor is the first high school player to be picked in round one by Cleveland since Dan Denham in 2001.
Lindor has a commitment to Florida State, but the Wahoos are expected to be able to reel him in.

Second-round pick Dillon Howard is a right-handed high school pitcher from Arkansas and has a commitment to the Razorbacks.
The tall (6"4) hard-throwing (mid-'90s) fell to round two, due to the expected cost of signing him away from the Hogs, but it is looked at as a tough but possible sign.
Howard uses the sinker and a changeup as his change of pace and has been discussed by some as the best high school pitcher to come out of Arkansas.
If Cleveland can add Howard to the system, the Tribe walks away from the draft in a similar spot as the Pirates, if they can sign Josh Bell-two first-round caliber selections...

The Indians selected a surprise in the third round in Jake Sisco (no, not the annoying character from Deep Space Nine) from Merced JUCO in Calfornia.
Sisco was a late-round pick of the Giants last year and passed on their offer.
Sisco has next to no data on him, but Tony Lastoria at Indians Prospect Insider says Sisco was creeping up the draft board after a season that saw his velocity reach the low to mid 90's and was referred to by some as a strong sleeper.
This is a likely sign and the Indians hedging their bets a bit on the status of Dillon Howard.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Pirates tab Cole,Bell and Dickerson in draft

The Pirates took two college standouts in rounds one and three and sandwiched in a selection that could pay huge dividends with a player that seems to be a tough sign at best.

As expected,the Pirates took Gerrit Cole from UCLA with the first overall pick.
I stand by my word that I would have preferred Anthony Rendon,but of the college pitchers available and conceding that a college pitcher was what they wanted-Gerrit Cole was the best one to fit the Pirates needs.
Cole has been been clocked as a three digit fastball thrower combined with a "wipeout" slider and a above average changeup,which can be devastating when paired with that type of fastball.
Cole has been compared to Stephen Strasburg by some and if the Pirates can get someone close to to that level,then this pick is a good one...

With the first pick of round two,the Pirates gambled for the second year in a row in round two on a player that dropped due to signablity issues in Texas high school outfielder Josh Bell.
The 6'4 power hitting outfielder has a strong commitment to play for the Texas Longhorns and went as far to tell many teams not to draft him.
However,there is hope as he has retained Scott Boras as an "advisor",which means he would at least listen to the Pirates offers,I would suspect.
Bell was rated as the top high school power hitter in the draft and without the Texas offer,would have likely gone in the upper half of round one.
This is a gamble by Neal Huntington,but could have a HUGE payoff,if they can land such a stud in round two for the second year in a row after adding Stetson Allie last season with a similar gamble.

The Buccos grabbed Alex Dickerson of Indiana at pick 91,which was the first pick in round three.
Dickerson won the triple crown in the Big Ten last season and was rated as one of the top sixty players in the draft,so again,a possible steal.
Dickerson was rated as one of the best hitters in the draft,but has been noted as lacking a true defensive position.
The comment heard most on Dickerson is "The bat will have to carry him".

Gotta love this draft,if all three can be signed.
Off to bed,will try to return later with a look at the Indians selections.

Kiss with a fist....

This is the first of what I hope to be three posts today,the others will look at the first two or three picks by the Pirates and Indians in the draft.

However,it is time to weigh in on Mr.Bryce Harper,since it seems the net is booming with opinions on the "kiss" thrown by Hagerstown Suns outfielder Bryce Harper to Greensboro pitcher Zachary Neal on Monday night after crushing a pitch to deep right center off Neal.
I like to think that I have a special perspective on this being that I was one of the couple hundred attendees of what turned out to be a great game.
I saw the first inning strikeout of Harper by Neal on an admittedly borderline pitch and I didn't see Neal do anything and if he did-Harper never saw him because he was grousing to the umpire.

When Harper smashed the ball from the field of play,he cartwheeled his bat,stood in the box watching it fly and then strutted around the bases.
Neal was talking to the umpire about the showboating,I never saw him look at Harper and then the umpire chased Harper around the bases as he either A-Gave him some grief or B wanted to be position to break things up if they got close to physical.
The Herald Mail claims that Neal could have started it with a kiss of his own on the first inning fan,but I saw no such thing.
Of course,the Herald Mail has been kissing Harper's ass for the last two months,why start with any possible issues now?

In my opinion,this hissy fit all goes on Bryce Harper.
However,I am not suggesting any punishment for this incident.
This goes on all the time and only gets attention when a prospect of high notoriety takes part and I think Grant Dayton of Greensboro zipping the first pitch of his next appearance by Harper's ear was more than enough in return.
What I do think that it does is show the immaturity of Harper that has been shown all year at various points and that can only be dealt with by the parent Washington Nationals.
The Hagerstown Suns can do very little about any issue involving players and I have "heard" (Hearsay) that the team has received complaints about his behavior,but I have no direct knowledge or verification of these rumors,although watching him blow off a season ticket holder with one item to sign (Not an autograph regular either) that was standing by herself and refusing to even acknowledge her presence after a game ranks as one of the rudest things I have seen in years here.

Before anyone claims that this is an autograph issue-Full Disclosure.
I have never talked to,approached or asked Bryce Harper for anything ever.
I have never met the young man,but I have observed behavior that crosses the line,especially early in the season on a kids day that set a clearly poor example,especially in a small park like the Muni,where one can hear the players almost like they are next to you.
The Washington Nationals have a choice- they can crack down on this now or they can watch it spiral out of control and no,I don't want to hear about how National big leaguers will take care of this in due time.
They had chances in spring training and apparently did nothing about Harper's arrogance

Talent wise,Bryce Harper is (in my opinion) the most talented hitter in the history of the Hagerstown Suns.
He has star written all over him-talent wise and I admire the way he plays the game.
Hustle is part of his game and he always busts his hump,but the attitude needs some work and the sooner that the Nationals work on this,the more likely any instruction will hit home.

Sometimes,there really is more to learn in the minor leagues than just playing the game.
Here is hoping that maturity is another gift that the minors can give to Bryce Harper....

Monday, June 6, 2011

Pirates to take Gerrit Cole?

Looks like the Pirates are going to go against my thoughts and the opinions of many fans and select UCLA righthander Gerrit Cole tonight with the first pick in the MLB draft.
I am still hoping for a change of heart and a selection of Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon,but it looks like Cole according to most sources.

Give the Pirates credit for one thing,this is not a financial issue as Cole and Rendon are both represented by Scott Boras and would likely be roughly the same cost either way,so this time it isn't about money or signability.
As most of you know,I am a "pitching guy",but as I have written in the past-I just have huge concerns about the workloads of elite college pitchers.
College coaches have to win to keep their job and in order to do that,they have to do what it takes and often at the cost of the players arm.
I am not saying that teams should never take a college arm as I would have taken both Stephen Strasburg and David Price in their draft years because they were clearly the top overall player in the draft.
I don't have Cole rated that highly,although he is a top talent despite a less than expected season at UCLA.

Rendon does have issues with his ankle and I understand that being an issue,but what I don't like hearing about are rumors (and just that rumors) about Pedro Alvarez being down on an Rendon pick because he wants to stay at third base.
First,unless a player is locked up for about ten years and is clearly invested in the franchise,I am not really interested in his input on the draft,let alone Pedro Alvarez's opinion,he of the lusty .208 average,next to no fielding range and on the DL to boot.

Gerrit Cole is a talented player and could very well be an impact player,so this is not a Bryan Bullington pick,Cole has top of the rotation stuff and a Cole/Jameson Taillon future could give Pittsburgh a powerhouse combo on the mound.
I just would have went a different way.....

General Announcement

I need to make a general housecleaning announcement-I will have one day off during the rest of this month and that will likely affect things here.
Some days,I will have more time than others and I want to stay updated as much as I can.
I am looking into the long awaited portable PC purchase,I just need to see if I can scarf a free signal at work-IF that is the case,things not only should be the same here-they should improve!

If things slow down,the most likely effect will be in game coverage,which might be slowed.
I hope to get a post up shortly for tonight's MLB draft and post tomorrow on the Pirates and Indians selections.
In order to save time and be able to sleep before tonight's Hagerstown-Greensboro game,I'll keep the post to the draft and stay away from the more time consuming Phillies series for the most part...

Thanks for understanding!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

A wrong righted....

Skipping the Pirates today as I missed the Thursday collapse (thanks Battlin' Bob,LOL!) and I watched the first nine innings of last nights win over the Phillies in extra innings due to time constraints

My time could be even more limited or I may have a few days next week before the latest run of work,so that is still to be determined.
If I get some time,I have some things in the works that should be fun,I hope.
I hope to have an updated signing front,the promised Forgotten Superstars piece and maybe even something on the Hagerstown Suns.

The NHL might have had no other choice and I am sure that some in the front office are not thrilled,but no matter how,Winnipeg has returned to the NHL where they belong with the relocation of the Atlanta Thrashers.

This day has been a long time coming for Winnipeg and is the first step of the collapsing of Gary Bettman's Richard Nixonish "Southern Strategy".
As happy as I am for Winnipeg and righting a wrong (although the best scenario would have been bringing the original Jets home from Phoenix),I must say a few words for the Atlanta fans.
I have been critical of several of the southern hockey cities and their fans (or lack there of),but to the true fans that supported and lost their second team there,my condolences.
The biggest issue was that there just were not enough of you,but despite the numbers-I sympathize and know how you feel as I have teams that moved (Browns to Baltimore) and at different times had teams close to leaving (Cavaliers to seeming half the country and Canada in the Ted Stepien years and the Devils flirting with Nashville in the mid 90's).

Winnipeg still has issues despite this victory.
It will be the smallest market in the league,playing in its smallest arena (15,000) and will likely have to draw near capacity houses every night to keep the dough rolling in.
Is that possible?
Yes,or I could also see trouble after five or six years of a bad hockey team.
The Canadian dollar is strong right now,as long as that stays near or above the worth of the US dollar,I think things are OK.
The weakness of the Canadian dollar in the 90's was the largest stumbling block that Winnipeg had in keeping the Jets and that has changed now,although these things are often fluid.

The Winnipeg fans seem to want the old Jets name,logo etc back and Bettman has said that it is theirs to use,if they like and that makes sense to me.
When your fanbase wants something overwhelmingly-give it to them!
It only makes good fiscal sense and not doing that is rowing upstream.
I look at the almost thirty year run of various owners of the Cavaliers that tried color scheme after scheme when the fanbase wanted the original colors as the classic example of this.

Winnipeg will travel a lot this season as the late timing will keep them in the Southeast division/Eastern Conference for next season,but will likely be transferred to the West for the 2012-13 year.
A five team division of the four Western Canada teams,Minnesota or Colorado would be a fun one to follow and might happen that way.
The "Jets" have some nice young players that can be built around such as Dustin Byflugen,Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian,but they are still a distance away,but in the beginning that will not matter much to the fans that just want the return of the NHL.

In any event,Congrats to Winnipeg and the question now is who's next?
Quebec City needs to get an arena built,Kansas City has an arena with market questions,Seattle has arena needs and Hamilton always has the bad bad wolf in Toronto knocking them down.
As for us?
I have not forgotten this pledge-make the right choice and I'll live up to the pledge for the inevitable move to the Western Conference.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Late rally again drops Mets.

A five run seventh inning with few of the base hits being hard hit allowed the Pittsburgh Pirates to rally for a 9-3 win over the Mets in NYC.
Kevin Correia was the winner and became the majors first eight game winner (8-4).
The series concludes today at 1.

Pirate Hooks

1) Lots of swinging bunts,bloopers and balls placed in the right spot paced the comeback.
You don't want to count on these type of wins,but you take them where you can.

2) Andrew McCutchen's sliding catch not only ended a Met threat,but the play was the defensive play of the year for the Pirates to this point.
McCutchen did get lucky that he didnt get his spike caught in the wall though.
That could have meant broken ankle and season over.

3) Another win and solid six innings from Kevin Correia.
Correia has proven me wrong thus far on his signing,although I think the run support will even out over the course of the season.

4) I liked Neil Walker bunt to kick the rally into gear.
It wasn't a messed up sac bunt either,Walker took advantage of a deep third baseman and whether he did it or it was called from the coaching staff,it was a great call...

Few hooks today as I need some sleep,still hoping to get the Thrashers to Winnipeg post up when I can...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Come from behind works both ways

One night after allowing the New York Mets to rally for a 7-3 win,the Pittsburgh Pirates did the same to the home team with a come from behind 5-1 win last night in the Big Cesspool.
Evan Meek was the beneficiary of the late onslaught and evened his record at 1-1.
Daniel McCutchen was the loser Monday and fell to 1-1.
Chris Snyder homered (3) Monday for the only Pirate dinger.

Pirate Hooks

1) The Pirates starters have been doing their part with 12 consecutive starts of allowing two earned runs or less.
Charlie Morton and James McDonald continued the run against the Mets.

2) Give Morton credit too because he put together a good outing without having his best stuff.
That shows the possible maturation of Morton as the past pitcher would have a seven run outing when not at his best...

3) James McDonald had his curve working and allowed just a run and six hits over six innings,but his best work was getting the final out with runners on in the sixth...

4) Josh Harrison made his MLB debut at third and his single with two outs tied the game.
Harrison is listed at 5'8,but I bet he is closer to 5'6.
Nice to see guys get that first hit out of the way quickly,one never knows when the chance comes again.

5) Chris Snyder homered Monday,but the bigger concern is his two and almost more passed balls catching Charlie Morton.Morton has to keep the ball down and if Snyder cannot block Morton,the Pirates are going to have huge issues...

Will try to be back later with thoughts on the Atlanta Thrashers moving to Winnipeg....