Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Brad Lincoln for Travis Snider

Neal Huntington made his move to attempt to obtain help for the Pirate offense as he sent reliever Brad Lincoln to Toronto for outfielder Travis Snider in a straight swap

The 24-year-old Snider has spent most of the season with Toronto's AAA affiliate in Las Vegas with a .335/13/56 line that includes an OPS over 1,000, albeit in one of the best hitters parks in Triple-A baseball.
Snider played just ten games for the parent Blue Jays, but in those ten games hit three homers.
The left-handed-hitting outfielder spent parts of 2009-2011 with Toronto with varying degrees of success but never getting more than 300 at-bats with the team after being their top prospect for several years.

Brad Lincoln had been downright devastating to opposing batters as a reliever this season.
Looking at Lincoln's numbers, his overall numbers are excellent and only have risen to that level by his numbers as a starter, which inflates the more than solid overall stats.
Lincoln was the ace in the hole to enable the Pirates to possibly consider a Joel Hanrahan trade today, which you still could if you think Jason Grilli's excellent season can be continued (Knees shaking a bit) to get the team through the season, so I would think this trade would likely keep Hanrahan here for the rest of the playoff run.

I know many of you are enamored with the jaw-dropping effectiveness of Lincoln since moving to the pen and I believe that Brad Lincoln has an excellent chance of becoming a solid closer with the Blue Jays eventually.
It also would not surprise me to see Lincoln given a chance in the 2013 Toronto rotation either and finally, have the opportunity for a full season audition as a starter that he never had in Pittsburgh.
However, this is a chance for the Pirates to add a lefty swinger with power, that is under Pittsburgh control for the next four seasons and the Pirates are set for that term in the outfield with Marte, McCutchen and now Snider.
Putting that group together in Andrew McCutchen's prime with a chance to win long term, not just a one or two-year window-isn't that what Pirates fans said they wanted?

Had this deal been offered two years ago, Pittsburgh fans would have been dancing in the streets, but a string of effectiveness and suddenly it is a risk?
Sure, it is -for both parties.
Snider has never been given a true chance and Lincoln had not either before this season.
What if Snider is one of many touted players to not turn out?
What if Lincoln just was on a hot streak?
Plenty of risk for both sides.

Allow me to ask this question-Assuming that both players are proven, would you trade a setup man (possible future closer) for a left-handed hitting corner outfielder with plus power?
I believe most of us would make that trade.
This is a risk, but one worth taking...

Photo Credits: Unknown

Monday, July 30, 2012

Looking back and yet ahead

Part of the process that I am currently going through is gaining the balance of looking back at the past,while not being anchored there.

It is a delicate balance,you see and one that needs to be handled with kid gloves.
The past is what makes us what we are now,although it has nothing to do with what we can be eventually.
Eliminating that from my life can be difficult as the past holds both pleasant and painful memories that have shaped what I have become,yet at the same time needs to be placed aside and moved on from.

How does one do that?
Very carefully because you need to move on the journey,yet forgetting everything constantly means that you could be missing the experience that comes with triumphs and errors.
I cannot say that I have mastered this yet by any stretch,but I am tentatively attempting to think about what needs to be for my well being and not worrying about what has happened in the past.

For example,I am trying to become more balanced and along with that more patient and less angry with others.
Many times,I get bothered by things that I cannot control and these are things that I am still learning to deal with.
I cannot control noisy neighbors,road construction or general ineptness.
Dealing with the day to day routine that so many others are able to shrug off with ease will always be an work in progress for me and likely will always be that.

Perhaps my past has built those issues,but I can try to scale those problems little by little by not allowing myself to be bothered so much.
It is and will likely always be difficult,but things do not get better unless we try.

Other things mean moving on and not looking back.
If some things continue to hurt,you have to change the behavior or change the people involved or learn nothing from the past
This rule is not always correct,but often times it is-change the environment,change the behavior..
I am trying to do both....

Hope to be back later with more....

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Another inbox dumping!!!

Time to empty some built up mails from the inbox.

Most of you have heard about the Ohio baseball card find in an attic,but as big as this find is,it is not as big as it seems.
The cards are not as rare as others of the time,although the condition of the cards certainly are great for their age and the Honus Wagner card is not THE Honus Wagner card of million dollar fame.
Nonetheless,it is exactly the type of find that all collectors have dreamed of at one time or another....

Grantland strikes again with an oral history of the terrific,yet short lived The National,the nations first and only all-sports newspaper.
The National had many issues but quality was not one of them.
Specialists covered tons of sports with even niche' sports getting a regular weekly space in the paper.
That in the pre-internet era was a rarity and made fans of sports that received little space in a normal sports page have to have the National.
The paper did have some distribution here in town and I read it everyday.
I even have the final issue lying around the house somewhere as a collectors item.
I am not sure if the paper would have made it with the advent of the web,but it sure was a dazzling gem in its time....

More from Grantland with an one on one with Michael Keaton.
I have always liked Keaton's work,especially the hilarious Night Shift,but Keaton is notorious for picking and choosing his projects and as a result does not always have the spotlight.
Check the interview out for Keaton's thoughts on multiple subjects....

A new boxing blog entitled The Living Daylights focuses on 1980's boxing and it is very strong work.

The blog currently features an interview with former Olympic Bronze medalist and three time light heavyweight champion Marvin Johnson.

I highly recommend it..

Ohio amusement park Cedar Point will be tearing down two rides,reportedly to make space for a new roller coaster.
Disaster Transport was the parks only enclosed roller coaster and was built in 1989,while the Space Spiral has been the park's observation tower since 1965.
That is a long time to be part of the park and over that period of time,many have never seen the park without the Spiral!

I know this is usually a note for the Signing Front,but I had to share this from the SportsGraphing message board on Giants prospect Gary Brown.
Please keep in mind that this did not happen to me or did I witness this,so take it as hearsay...
"Gary Brown  - "I signed for you all before"   yep.. that's basically what he told us both After BP and before the game. he was not a **** about it, he just basically stopped and said, "I signed for you guys already". And then one guy asked him again before the game (The guy had NOT seen him in April) and he told him again "I got you all this year already".... "
I suppose that does not bode well for getting his Richmond card signed....

Friday, July 27, 2012

Wandy Rodriguez to the Pirates!

I know this is old news,but this past week is my worst week of the year (Lots of work trainings/meetings etc) and I needed to pay close attention to those.
Now that is over for the year,I intend to be back up to par here/
I know that I have said that before,but my intentions are good.
I am feeling great and ready to get back to work....

The Pirates made their two moves in an attempt to stay in contention for the NL Central title.
The first was to shore up the rotation on the mound,while the second was aimed at adding a bat to the lineup with an internal solution.

The big move was the addition of lefthander Wandy Rodriguez from the (for now) division rival Houston Astros.
Rodriguez will upgrade the rotation instantly, is under contract for 2013 and a team option for 2014 as well with the Astros picking up a large chunk of his contract for both years should the Pirates choose to pick up the option.
Rodriguez has won double figure games in each of the three years and has never been above a four ERA in any of those years.
Rodriguez is 7-9 this year for the last place Astros and his ERA is a decent one at 3.79.
One would think that the move from Minute Maid Park to PNC Park should be a positive one for the southpaw as PNC favors pitchers far more than the offensively oriented MMP.
Rodriguez will make his debut as a Pirate tomorrow night in Houston against his former team.

The cost for a pitcher of Rodriguez's caliber never is cheap and the Pirates paid a hefty price to bring Wandy to Pittsburgh in three prospects from three different levels.
The best of the three was outfielder Robbie Grossman,who I ranked as the fifth best prospect in the system entering the season.
Grossman had begun to hit his stride here of late at AA Altoona after a slow start and projects to be a starting outfielder in either left or center in 2014.
Grossman has above average speed,but projects as a 10-15 homer player,which might hinder him from a full time corner slot.
Grossman was assigned to AA Corpus Christi.

Rudy Owens improved this season in his second season at AAA Indianapolis,but projects to be a fourth or fifth starter at the big league level.
We ranked Owens as the fourteenth prospect in the system entering the season.
Owens walks few (25 walks in 117 innings this year),but lacks top notch stuff,which will keep him from being any more than a back of the rotation starter.
Nothing wrong with that as one can make quite a lucrative career from being a fourth or fifth starter,although those pitchers do tend to bounce around somewhat.
Owens was sent to the Astros AAA affiliate in Oklahoma City.

The final of the trio sent to Houston was lefthanded pitcher Colton Cain.
Cain,who we ranked in the ninth spot of our rankings,had some early season injury issues at High A Bradenton before returning to the mound in June.
Cain's strikeout numbers dipped a bit this season (51 K's in 75 innings),but that could be needing time to round back into shape.
I always liked Cain the best of the "tough sign" high school pitcher crop from the 2009 draft that has yet to pan out,but the issues with his back are definitely a concern.
Cain was shipped to High A Lancaster in the California League....

I wish the Pirates had been able to keep Grossman,but quality comes at a cost and the Pirates were able to acquire a quality lefthander with surrendering any of their top four prospects or the breakout star of the year Alen Hanson,so I will not argue a large amount on the deal.
You have to give to get,so on the overall spectrum-I have no issues....

The Pirates attempted to give the lineup a jolt with the callup of their top hitting prospect Starling Marte from Indianapolis.
Marte smashed the first pitch that he saw in last nights win over Houston into the bleachers for a memorable big league debut.
Marte should slide into the leadoff spot in the batting order and be the full time left fielder,which considering his plus defensive abilities will come in very handy in the wide canyon that is left/left center in Pittsburgh, 
We had Marte rated as the third best player in the system,so the system has taken quite a shot over the last few days with number three being called up and five,nine and fourteen being moved to Houston.

The Pirates are rumored to be not finished yet in swapping players before the deadline.
Adding Wandy Rodriguez might mean that Kevin Correia could be on the move and I still think that they would look for another bat.
Could Joel Hanrahan bring that bat? Do the Pirates feel comfortable using Brad Lincoln or Jason Grilli to close games?
If they do,Hanrahan might be the ticket to land that club to the lineup.
We will see soon,but the two above moves seem to be plus moves to me.
More tonight from the work office (Signal permitting) as I have plenty to say and time to say it!

Photo Credit:Unknown

Friday, July 20, 2012

Cleaning out the inbox

The inbox is full,so it is time to clean it out a bit....

Two goodbyes to start things off with.

Goodbye to Don Grady of My Three Sons fame at the age of 68 due to cancer.
Grady was best known as Robbie Douglas,the middle son of the original show and the oldest son of the years after oldest son Mike left the show and was never mentioned again.
Grady also had a minor music hit during the run of the show.

Jimmy Bivins,the only man ever to hold the number one contender ranking simultaneously as a light heavyweight and a heavyweight and not have a title shot at either champion passed in Cleveland at the age of 92.
Bivins was ducked by Joe Louis and finally got his shot at Louis in 1951 after Louis had lost his title with Louis winning a split decision.

Bill Simmons "the sports guy" might not be everyone's cup of tea,but I always look forward to his NBA draft recap that covers his evening with his dad or buddies etc watching the draft.
Always funny and makes me think of the years that Ryan and I watched the NFL and NBA drafts as we shared a great evening together during this years NBA draft....

Former Cleveland writer Brian Windhorst,who now covers the Miami Heat was embedded with the Cavaliers for their draft night.
A very interesting read ensued with some insight on just how the Cavaliers found themselves selecting Dion Waiters and trading for Tyler Zeller....

Remember the uproar over the Pirates not landing Dominican star (and now hot prospect) Miguel Sano?
A new film  "Ballplayer Pelotero" takes the cover off Dominican baseball signings with the Sano debacle being the focal point of the film.
The documentary looks to be very interesting with Pirates scout Rene Gayo figuring prominently in the main storyline around Sano.....

Finally we wrap up with this note from Battlin' Bob,who sends this on the now retired Kerry Wood,who says he heard something pop in his elbow in his 20 K game as a Cub.
Wood went through some high pitch counts as a young pitcher and some blame that for a career that was not what it could have been....

We have reduced the inbox and not emptied it,so we will be back soon with the remainder of the cleaning!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ten ways to improve minor league baseball?

My friend and maybe our most loyal reader,Big Don,sent me this article from Baseball America and it has languished at the bottom of the inbox ever since.
I had liked the article and promised Don that I would offer my take,so Don-better late than ever!!!!

Check the article out for their ideas,I'll address each briefly....

1) Returning AAA to three leagues as it was in the past.
This I like a lot,even though it makes my graphing work harder as it would take Indianapolis and Columbus out of my graphing radius as far as that goes.
Still,it would make things easier travel wise and it makes sense to me....

2) Minors as a Lab for rules changes
This is an incredibly dumb idea as every idea mentioned makes no sense at all.I'm not against trying the occasional new thing,but these are all silly in my opinion...

3) Dominican baseball as a summer showcase
This is a take or leave idea.It appears to save money and avoid some scandals,so I'd be Ok with this...

4) Freshening the ballpark experience  
I am all for better music,although I can do without the live band mess.
That all too often becomes a loud irritant as the band wants to showcase themselves at the expense of the game.
I do like the ideas for the food and I have always been a huge proponent of more and better giveaways...

5) Tweaking late season transactions
Love this one! All too often,minor league championships are treated as afterthoughts.
The fans in those markets do not look at things that way and they need to be treated with more respect!

6) Down with the losers
Relegating is popular for European soccer,but in baseball with the team so dependent on the parent club's drafting ability,it would be unfair to go down this road.

7) Expand the DH rules
I would go as far to use the pitchers batting in every game that features two National League affiliates playing each other.Take their idea and add even more to it....

8) Minor League Museum
No problems with this

9) Short Season Shakeup
I agree a shakeup is needed,but I'd chop the complex teams out all together.
Since that is not going to happen,my solution is to give each team one complex team and one short season team.
We cut the New York/Penn league to ten teams,keep the Appy league at ten and merge the best markets from the Pioneer and Northwest for a merged ten team league.
I hate doing stuff like that,but it's the only way to make this work.

10) Majors vs Minors
I like this concept with the big league team visiting each affiliate once every four years for an exhibition game.
I like the All-Star games as is though.....

Just my thoughts on an thought provoking topic....  

Time to change

I have been reevaluating the blog over the last few days and I had to make a decision.
It was a difficult one to make,but one that I had to deal with sooner or later and I had put the decision off long enough.

I have decided to cut daily game coverage of the Pirates.
This was not an easy decision for me to make,but I believe it is the best one.
The summer is the busiest time for me between going to minor league games,graphing,the things that we like to do with our families in the warm weather and my own issues of late,I feel that I just have not had the time to do what needs to be done.
I still have been watching the Buccos as I saw every game of the series in Colorado,I just did not have the time or energy to bang out a story every day.
Oh,Pirates coverage will not be going away and I may do a series recap instead of daily for a while and I might even return to full coverage after Labor Day ,when the minor league season is over,especially if Pittsburgh is able to stay in the pennant race,but for now,I do not want to promise what I cannot deliver.

I know most of you prefer the Pirates,Browns or Buckeyes coverage to our comprehensive Devils coverage or the Cavaliers coverage,but that is during the time of year that I have the most time to write,so that I do not see changing,but I do see a possible opportunity for a market on line that is not currently being served and sometime over the next six months,I may decide to make a move in that direction.

I just wanted to let everyone know what to expect and to hang in there.
I know things have been somewhat slow,but I am still around and have a TON of things to clean from the inbox and lots of stuff from the signing front.
Please bear with me and I'll get things back to normal soon...

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Turning 44....

I turned 44 earlier this morning,but in many ways,the last 12 days have been a new beginning for me.
I have made what I consider a fresh start,which cleared some things for me in my life.
I don't want to get too much into the minutia of things,but I am attempting to get me straight and that means with what's important in my life.

That starts with the people closest to me and pleasing them and eliminating negative forces from my life.
I just cannot continue to allow other people and their issues to gain so much importance in my life.
Sometimes,you just have to make the tough decision to allow people to do what they wish and move on from them.
I am in the process of moving away from the negative and towards the positive,so it is part of the campaign of changing things,even if it means changes that are painful to make.

However,this is not all bad as some of them will be improvements and attempting to put the people that mean most ahead of me at times will go a long way towards showing them that I do care.
I think that I have made the difficult decisions and now there will be some rewards too.
Rebuilding a strong relationship with my father has been a huge part of the last year and I hope to continue to shore up that foundation with continued efforts on my part.
You see,I have not always been the most involved member of my family and I hope to improve on that as time goes on.
I am not a social animal,but I am attempting to learn to tolerate these things or at least do better.
I want to make my parents happier and if by tolerating a pair of events a year,no matter the company to make them happy,I'll attempt to do so.
In the past,I might have been more concerned about my happiness,for these occasions-I'll worry about theirs,even if it is something that I would never do on my own.

I'll wrap with a few tips of the cap to my wonderful family that I reference here often.
To the two ladies that take care of me every day,the lovely Cherie and my terrific daughter Rachel.
With them,often times,I would not know what to do with myself.
I am so proud to be the man of this house with you two and I love you both so much.
To my son,Ryan,thanks for all that he does in making me proud as a father.
I would also like to add a special thanks to my cousin in Ohio-Missy.
Missy and I have grown very close over the past year and I would like to add a special thanks to her as being such a wonderful addition to my life.

Thanks to all of my friends as well.
From my personal life-Battlin' Bob,Corey and Tennessee Ernie.
Some of you,I see more than others,but your friendship is important to me.
Thanks to my buddy in Japan,Brandon,who has always been there when I needed him.
Thanks to my graphing friends,but I would like to add two special tips to Mike Oravec,who has been a huge help in these times,along with his help with the 1971 set that has been a respite away from the difficult times and my traveling partner Bill Cover,who I have shared so many good times on the circuit with.
Autographing has allowed me to not only meet so many neat people on the field,but more importantly,I have made many friends doing this and thanks to all of you!

44 isn't bad and my life is good.
I have struggles ahead,but I am trying to prepare myself for these struggles.
I do know that I am trying best and I'll get through the best that I can-as Tug McGraw once said "Ya gotta believe" and believe I do......

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Pirates unable to ink Mark Appel

So lovin' that new draft system yet?
Well,the system that was supposed to level the playing field for the poor Yankees and Red Sox from those bullying Pittsburgh Pirates has bitten its first victim-the Pittsburgh Pirates as the Buccos were unable to sign Stanford pitcher Mark Appel by the signing deadline.
The Pirates lose the money from the Appel slot and were unable to use that money to sign other players,so the gamble on Appel means that the draft this season looks less than strong.
Pittsburgh will gain the ninth overall pick in the first round of next years draft as compensation for not signing Appel.

The new system handicapped the Pirates as they could only so pay so much money or forfeit their 2013 number one pick.
Now,to be fair without the new system,Mark Appel would have never fallen to the Pirates,so it could be looked at as apples and oranges,but Appel might have been a Pirate without this system.
I am not against a slotting system,but this system as currently comprised is not effective.

The solution to everyone's problem?
To me,it is very simple-
Once you attend a college class,you are ineligible for the draft unless the player declares himself as draft eligible and then like football and basketball,you sign or you sit,no college return.
The agents might not be thrilled with my idea,but it would prevent teams from taking a college player and watching him go back to school.
This allows the player that is truly interested in playing pro ball to do so and the player that takes his ball and goes home because of a system that only allows so much money to be paid or does not like the team that picked him,to be rewarded for returning.
Everyone wins under this idea as the teams gets cost certainty,the player that wants to be a pro can be and high schoolers can still have some leverage in the draft.

The Pirates lost Mark Appel,but they might have been the team that changed the system as I think it is pretty likely that the system will be tweaked over the next few years as it is apparent that it does not work.
Appel is taking a huge gamble as perhaps he rises a bit,but he almost has to be the top pick in next years draft to make things really worthwhile to make sitting out a year palatable.
The loss to the system is strong as landing Appel might have made a trade for a bat right now more likely and not as painful to the franchises future,.
I still think the gamble was a worthwhile one,but Scott Boras (Appel's agent) just did wanted to draw a line in the sand and had every intention of holding Appel back from signing.

Things move on and the Pirates could be the motivation for change,I just wish that someone else would been the team to prove that this does not work.....

(Photo by Matthew C. Ersted / stanfordphoto.com)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Browns draft Josh Gordon in supplemental draft

The Cleveland Browns finally may have landed the number one receiver that the fans (and me) have been screaming for as the team selected former Baylor wideout Josh Gordon in the supplemental draft.
Cleveland used their second-round pick in the 2013 draft on Gordon, so the price was not a slight one, however, Gordon was thought to have the physical ability that he could have been a top 15 pick in the next draft with a strong college season.
Gordon's size and speed (6'3 220) have brought comparisons to A.J.Green and Justin Blackmon and the Browns had to use their second-round pick or the Redskins would have, as Washington had been lobbied by Robert Griffin to bring Gordon to D.C.
Gordon was considered in 2010 as the superior receiver to first-rounder (and Browns fan target) Kendall Wright on the Baylor squad.
So what's not to like?
Well, Gordon missed the 2011 season to start.
After Baylor dismissed Gordon for testing positive for marijuana twice, he transferred to Utah and practiced with the Utes last season, but sat the year out due to the transfer rules, so there is some baggage in the past of Gordon.
But Gordon stayed clean in his season at Utah and Baylor coach Art Briles has been all over the Cleveland media with effusive praise of Gordon since the Browns selected him.
Normally, players that are forced to leave your program do not get the type of positive feedback that Briles was giving to Gordon.

I would have liked to have seen the Browns use their third-rounder instead, but that may not have reeled in Gordon, so there is something to be said for landing the player if you really want him.
The Browns have been noted for spending higher picks than they may have to on players that they like and this might be a case of this happening again.
However, I do not think so as I think a third-round "bid" might have resulted in the Browns losing Gordon.
Gordon and Greg Little just might be the pairing that enables the Browns to open things up a bit and give Brandon Weeden the targets that Colt McCoy did not have to work with.

The Browns have been rapped by many ( me included) for not addressing the wide receiver position in the last draft and free agency and I have to give them full credit for taking the risk on a player that might be the number one receiver that they have been searching for.
Cleveland suddenly has a core group of talented skill position players that gives me some hope for the future.
The Browns have added a quarterback, running back, wide receiver and right tackle to the starting lineup for next season and there will be growing pains involved with the group, but I would not be surprised at all if this turns out to be a dangerous team near the end of the season next year...

Photo Credit:Al Kooistra/Landov

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Back after close to a week off with various issues that I'll keep to myself,but feeling great and ready to pound some posts out.
Look for more than the usual output over the next few days!

The Pittsburgh Pirates are in first place.
I know-let that sink in for a second.
Now,considering that,can this run be sustained?

Yes,It can:

The contenders in the National League Central that are competing with Pittsburgh remind no one of the American League East and the division is up for grabs,so why not Pittsburgh?
The Reds might be better A to Z,but what have this group of Reds won?
And the Cardinals?
Well,they are not what they once were with their losses,so they are vulnerable also.
The pitching has been beyond what anyone could have expected with the maturation of James McDonald,the strong comeback of A.J.Burnett and Jeff Karstens is back to replace the injured Charlie Morton.
If the team can get even mild improvement from either Erik Bedard or Kevin Correia,the rotation is solid and do not forget about the bullpen,which has been beyond description in how well it has performed from top to bottom.

Yes,the team could use another strong stick in the lineup,but who couldn't?
Andrew McCutchen would be the league MVP for the first half,if such a thing existed and Pedro Alvarez has been downright scary at times this season.
Neil Walker is hitting nearly .300 and the role players are starting to pick things up as Casey McGehee and Rod Barajas are picking up steam.
Add one bat and this team is ready to win....

No,Get ready for the bounce.

Sorry,not buying it.
I'll give you McDonald as a rising star and maybe A.J. Burnett continues his history of playing well without the large market scrutiny,but Bedard looks to be almost cooked and Correia is as bad as he always has been.
Jeff Karstens is a five starter on a good team at best and you want to rely on him?
The bullpen has been dominant,but it is tough to stay at that level all year and they almost have to.
As good as they are,slippage is inevitable and this team cannot afford the smallest of slides.

Andrew McCutchen almost has to keep his numbers where they are now all season for this team to have a chance (OPS of over 1,000!) and his season to date is beyond what the most optimistic dreamers could have thought up.
Even considering the talents of Cutch,doing that all year might be beyond hope.
Pedro Alvarez epitomizes streaky and you simply cannot count on him for anything beyond the occasional bomb and tons of whiffs.
Neil Walker has only hit six homers and the reason that Casey McGhee,Rod Barajas and Clint Barmes are Pirates to begin with is because they are dime a dozen players.
The Pirates have to trade for a bat to even have a chance and then the first half needs to be repeated by so many that it is not realistic to think that can happen.
If the right trade is there,fine-go for it,but lets make it someone that could be a Pirate for a few years not a one year rental....

Now that I am finished arguing with myself,I would say this-Maybe.
My most likely scenario is the team hangs around,attempts to land a bat,does not get the type of bat that could be a game changer and fades around mid to late August,maybe early September.
I do think the chances of the team breaking the losing season streak are above average and all things considered,I would take that as a successful season.
A bat is a dire need and as long as the team trades anyone not named Cole,Taillon,Hansen and Heredia,I can live with the attempt.
The problem with that is that those players will be the first asked for and a refusal to add those players will not land the type of bat that could make the type of difference in this race.
Do the Pirates want to go all in for a one year run and then watch as those players star elsewhere?
I would say no,but Neal Huntington might say yes.
I would really like to see the team keep Starling Marte if at all possible as a McCutchen/Marte defensive outfield pairing might be as good as they come in the game,but whoever swaps a bat is going to want a close to big league ready player (s)and Starling Marte is the best player that the Pirates have in their system at that point in time.

The player that I might consider a deal for that would cost plenty would be Justin Upton of Arizona.
Upton would be a Pirate for three more years and at a reasonably affordable rate.
If Upton were offered,I might have to think about the top four names in the system and reevaluate my stance.
Some of my worries on dealing one of those three pitchers might be calmed if the Pirates are able to reel in first round draftee Mark Appel .
Appel is not a Taillon or Cole in my opinion,but he would be a top prospect and make the loss of one of them easier to take.
We will know by tomorrow as Appel must sign by the deadline or go back into the draft..
A Upton/McCutchen pairing would instantly upgrade the Pirate offense and make them a solid contender for the next three years along with giving the team time to continue the hard work of building a farm system..

All told-we will see as the trade deadline nears!

Back later with the Browns getting aggressive in the supplemental draft today and adding perhaps an impact player!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Zach Parise leaves,but the beat goes on...

 The New Jersey Devils may have lost their captain and biggest name of their free agents,but they kept everyone else that they wanted/needed in keep in-house and most importantly,the Devils family maintained their upbeat attitude when all was said and done...

The Devils said goodbye to their captain as Zach Parise signed a long term deal to return to his home state with the Minnesota Wild.
Parise will be missed as it is very difficult to just snap your fingers and replace the type of production that Zach Parise brings to the table.
I do think that the Devils earned some leeway from their fanbase for making what was a very competitive offer to keep Parise and I think the fact that Parise chose to return home along with the Wild being a Western Conference non-rival will help Parise from some of the animosity that was given to the likes of Scott Gomez and Bobby Holik when they left the organization.

I do think that the Devils have a chance to offset the loss of Parise as I would think that this is the chances for Ilya Kovalchuk to return to his natural position of left wing and that might be worth a handful of extra goals to the stat line,but in any case,things will be different for the next set of Devils to take the ice without Zach Parise on the wing.
13 years is a long time and considering the Kovalchuk contract and the injury history of Parise,the Devils might be disappointed today in losing Parise,but the team may not be so disappointed five years from now.....

The Devils also lost another forward as Alexei Ponikarovsky signed with the Winnipeg Jets.
Ponikarovsky was a strong presence on the third line after being obtained from Carolina during the season,but was not a playoff mainstay and that might have helped the Devils decision to allow him to seek an better option in free agency.

New Jersey managed to hold onto everyone else that were free agent with the team keeping their forty year old goalie tandem of Martin Brodeur and Johan Hedberg intact with new contracts.
That decision gives the franchise two years to develop Scott Wedgewood,Keith Kincaid or someone else for that inevitable day that the greatest goalie of all time decides that his time is truly finished in the game.

The team also surprisingly managed to re-sign Bryce Salvador to a three year contract.
I had thought that after Salvador's terrific playoff performance that he might have signed elsewhere,but the team was to keep the veteran defender with a long term deal.
I would have rather had the contract be a bit shorter,but it is nice to have Salvador returning to the team. .

New Jersey also kept its productive fourth line together as Ryan Carter,Steve Bernier and Stephen Gionta were all re-signed with Carter and Bernier getting two year deals and Gionta getting a one year contract.
I like that move as role players that know the system at a reasonable cost is usually a good thing...

The team re-signed Cam Janssen as an enforcer and bought out Eric Boulton.
I thought that was a smooth move as a team does not need two enforcers,but the Devils then signed another one in Krys Barch.
Still think two is one too many..

Mark Fayne is going to arbitration with the team to settle their contract issue.

That is back to par for now and as always news here as it permits....

Thursday, July 5, 2012

First place?

After a come from behind win on Tuesday on a Drew Sutton homer,the Pittsburgh Pirates continued their run to first place with a holiday win over the Houston Astros for their third win in a row over the lowly Texans.
Pittsburgh goes for the sweep today in the series finale'.

Pirate Hooks

1) I am not going to cover both wins,but instead will focus on a few things of the first place Pirates and what they may need to do or in some cases not...

2) Can the Pirates keep this up?
I still think they need to add a bat to be a true contender,but the NL Central is there to be won.
The big question is this-Do you go all in for one playoff spot? Or try for a role player that may not make a large impact,but will cost far less?
That is the question to ask....

3) The Pirates finally used the final weapon to give Jose Tabata his needed wakeup call as he was sent down to Indianapolis.
Tabata's lackluster play and effort had seen his benching,criticized in the press and threatened before the final indignity-AAA.
It's too bad that Tabata has been such a disappointment since his contract extension,the Pirates could use him if he gets his head on straight...

4) Tabata's replacement is glove first outfielder Gorkys Hernandez.
It is too bad that Hernandez has not developed as a hitter as his glove truly is top notch.
The range and hands are tremendous,but the bat has been a liablility thus far...

5) Alex Presley suffered a head injury when diving for a ball in the win on Monday.
Presley may be placed on the new 7 day DL for concussion related injuries.
The replacement looks to be Jordy Mercer,who was in Pittsburgh on Wednesday,but not activated...

6) Look for next weeks article on who and what the Pirates could move,if they want to make a splash in an attempt to win the NL Central.
I think they could improve the team without dealing the top two or maybe three prospects in the system,see what you think next week...

Photo Credit:AP Photo

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Ding Dong off the pole!

A rarity that I have never seen in baseball occurred and it boosted the Pittsburgh Pirates to a runaway 11-2 victory over the visiting Houston Astros.
Garrett Jones (11) and Neil Walker (4) each bumpered pinball style homers off the right field pole in back to back at bats in the fourth inning to pace the Pirates to the win.
James McDonald moved to 8-3 with an outing of seven innings to earn the W.
Same two teams tomorrow night at PNC Park.

Pirate Hooks

1) I have never seen back to back homers off the same foul pole (or opposites for that matter) in the same game,let alone consecutive at bats.
I am sure that it might have happened before,but I had never seen or heard from it...

2) James McDonald struggled with control early with three first inning walks,but survived the inning with just one run allowed.
The maturation of McDonald showed right there as last season,McDonald would have allowed three runs and sent the Pirates into a large deficit early in the game...

3) Nine extra base hits for the Pirates.
Between the two homers and triples by Alex Presley and Drew Sutton,the Pirates must have a sizable OPS for the evening!

4) Andrew McCutchen returned to the lineup after missing Sunday's game with a sprained wrist.
It must have hurt his timing as Cutch only had four hits on the evening!

5) Four hits for Garrett Jones and four RBI as Jones continued his recent hot streak.
Jones even got a single off a lefthander for the first time since Moses parted the Red Sea,,,,

Photo Credit:Peter Diana-Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Monday, July 2, 2012

Splitting the weekend

The Pittsburgh Pirates sure had a better weekend than I did as they managed to split the weekend games in St.Louis with the Cardinals and gained two of three on the series.
The win on Saturday and loss yesterday kept the Pirates one game behind the first place Reds as the Pirates return home tonight for a homestand that begins with the Houston Astros.

Pirate Hooks

1) Thanks to the afternoon starts,I was able to get away with missing just one of the games in the Central Time Zone.
I will miss the Astros next year and I will HATE everyday Interleague play,but I will not miss six/seven games in the Midwest every year that I would normally mostly miss.

2) Despite the loss yesterday and missing the sweep,I had to smile at the rare homer by Michael McKenry.
The three run homer was quite a shot for the light hitting catcher and I always enjoy a homer by a player that seldomly connects.

3) Speaking of shots-Pedro Alvarez and his first inning grand slam was crunched.
Alvarez might be inconsistent,but when he is in the groove,the homers are an awesome sight..

4) Pittsburgh did suffer two injuries in the series as Andrew McCutchen sprained his wrist on a diving catch Saturday.
Cutch sat yesterday out and no word on today against Houston.
Pedro Alvarez looked have a leg issue and left the game.
It looked minor,but one never knows..

5) Congrats to Andrew McCutchen and Joel Hanrahan for making the All-Star team.
Both were deserving,but I would have given James McDonald an edge of Hanrahan.

6) Next week is the All-Star break and I am planning an article on the Pirates that will look at the pros and cons of being all in for the playoffs or look for the longer term.
There are pluses to both sides and I hope to detail both sides and my thoughts on the final decision...

I hope to maybe be back later with the Devils in free agency,which hopefully be the return of Zach Parise and a look after that on Pirates-Astros...

Photo Credit:AP Photo

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Looking at alcohol sales

I have not had much to say over the last week.
Now things have changed and I have plenty on different topics,but I want to go away from sports tonight.

I don't drink.
Not because of any deep religious conviction,most of you that know me know of my thoughts in that area,but because I choose to spend my money (limited as it is) on my hobbies and frankly.it just does not taste good to me.

I don't look down on people that do drink alcohol,it is their business and if it doesn't infringe on me,what's the harm?
Well,nothing when done by responsible adults,but an incident with a person that I have never met has made me think about things a bit.

This person was doing nothing before being almost ran over by a car and then the driver stopped the vehicle and beat him into submission,sending him to the hospital with a severe head injury that has left him in intensive care.
The alleged aggressor?Well,he had left a local bar,drunk and underage.
Fake Id's have always been around,but it seems like despite all the commercials in the media,is a problem that is worsening.

Prohibition did not work and I am not proposing a return for the failed policy,but perhaps the time has come for more ideas that would make it even tougher for underage persons to be able to acquire alcohol.
Stronger penalties for establishments that either intentionally or unintentionally serve minors are a must and perhaps losses of licenses might be the only deterrent to begin to deal with this problem.

These issues are complicated ones and I do not claim to have the answers,but perhaps the time has come for an adult discussion on alcohol that deals with making sure that people that drink are mature enough to handle those spirits and handing out severe sanctions for those that put making money above the safety of others,whether it is drunk driving,alcohol-fueled violence or just plain over-serving.

I am not standing on a soapbox screaming at alcohol,but I am screaming about our society handling these things better and I do believe that this needs to be addressed by more than a commercial PR campaign before we lose countless lives to irresponsibilty.
If the people cannot handle this correctly,then steps need to taken to help them in the right direction.

Call me what you wish,but this needs to be dealt with and with speed.....

Back later with the charging Pittsburgh Pirates and more from my latest recharging of the batteries...