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McDonald is exactly the same player as Bobby Crosby. No, it's not a terribly consequential move, but it also makes zero sense whatsoever. Mercer could hardly be much worse than McDonald has PROVEN himself to be for over a decade, and with the inevitable Josh Harrison on the bench, we wouldn't need Mercer to play 2nd or 3rd (both of which he's capable of anyway). Why not give Mercer or De Jesus a CHANCE to be better than McDonald, rather than wasting an extra $1 million assuming that they'll be just as bad, so that we can have "veteran presence" on our bench for a year?
1 year, 5 months ago on Pirates acquire John McDonald
Of course the rotation COULD be a disaster, if you only look at every flaw in each of our pitchers, but honestly, I don't think the Pirates have had a better chance of putting up a good rotation in any of the last ten years than they do now. When have they looked stronger than this? They don't have 5 dominant pitchers, or even 5 good pitchers, or even 5 pitchers who have proven themselves adequate, but they do have three guys who have pitched very well at times, and are projected to be at least decent, a fourth who is good when healthy, and a bevy of young, talented arms all competing for the five spot. Then of course there's the potential ace who's due to arrive midseason, along with Morton. That's about as much as any small market team can expect. Very few teams are totally sure of their number 5 guy. And on a purely semantic level, I do think having a ton of mediocre/risky options qualifies as depth. It may not be quality depth, but if a pitcher justifies the word "quality," then he probably wouldn't be serving as anyone's depth. Point being, our backup options aren't Brian Burres, or Dana Eveland, etc. Whoever we send up there will have a chance of being good, and will likely have earned his shot at proving it, since he's been competing with so many other legitimate options.
1 year, 6 months ago on When will we see Gerrit Cole in Pittsburgh?
I have a question. It's one that I've been thinking about ever since the Martin signing, and especially since it's a 2-year deal: What happens if Tony Sanchez starts playing really well in AAA? Right now he's the future at C, and he should be the priority if he earns it, but regardless of how well he hits it would be hard to feel comfortable trading Martin before Sanchez has proved himself at the ML level. This is, of course, a wildly optimistic concern anyway, since there haven't been a whole lot of signs that Sanchez is gonna break out.
1 year, 6 months ago on Gerrit Cole is pitching today (and other odds and ends)
That game is actually scheduled for tomorrow.
1 year, 6 months ago on Today is intrasquad scrimmage day
Nervous is better than depressed
1 year, 6 months ago on The Pirates need Starling Marte to make the leap
Another thing we can tell ourselves: yesterday wasn't the most costly day to lose. The Reds, Cardinals, Braves and Dodgers all lost to teams that are worse than the D'Backs (Well, the Cards lost to the Giants, but the others were bad teams), meaning the Pirates lost ground on virtually nobody, except the Giants who may end up in the wildcard race, and the D'Backs themselves, who have a VERY long shot at joining the race. Never nice to lose, but it's good to see our closest competitors scuffle alongside us.
2 years, 1 month ago on Game 109: Diamondbacks 10 Pirates 4 | August 2012
If the post all-star break stretch was the Bucs chance to pick up some ground and win some games, then this is certainly their chance to fall back and lose some. They have gone 11-5 since the start of the Rockies series, so while they didn't play their best, they came out the other side with pretty good results. Now there's no room for error(s). They can't afford to have everyone in the rotation have a bad outing or minislump. They can't afford to have Garrett Jones moving up one base on a double, trapping Walker between 2nd and 3rd. They can't afford to EVER play Josh Harrison in the outfield. They can't afford to start Barajas 2/3 of the time out of "seniority" when McKenry is hitting ten times better. They need to be at their sharpest if they're going to take a series from any of these teams (other than the Padres), and while piling up wins against shitty teams helps a lot, it's beating the good teams that are in the race with you that gets you into the playoffs. It was nice to see two emphatic wins in a row before the off day, as I would have been a whole lot more scared if they stumbled into this stretch with a pair of barely-wins that they've been getting a lot of lately. Still, gotta be excited AND nervous about these 20 games.
2 years, 1 month ago on Intermission | August 2012
I don't know how you see this as a Gorkys for Sanchez trade with the comp pick thrown in to "top it off." In my mind this is much more of a comp pick for Sanchez trade with Gorkys topping it off. Honestly, Gorkys and Kaminista pretty much offset... Neither has any real ML value, whereas the comp pick could have yielded a major league regular if things went well.
2 years, 1 month ago on Pirates trade Gorkys Hernandez to Marlins for Gaby Sanchez | July 2012
I was always pretty coordinated as a kid. I could swing a bat well in little league and pony league baseball. But I wasn't a great competitor. A big part of that is because I don't have the instincts that urge me to absolutely bury someone, to finish them off when they're laboring, and struggling, and even embarrassing themselves.
The Astros looked sad and pathetic and horribly familiar tonight. I can't count how many times I sat in front of my TV pulling out my hair and thinking "how can they be this devastatingly bad?" as the Pirates of my youth blew another late inning lead, or extended another 10 game losing streak to 11. I recognized it immediately tonight as the Pirates hung around, crawled back, started little rallies that felt like inevitable comebacks. When Rhiner Cruz started walking people I almost knew we had already won. And I felt terrible for the Astros and their fans that their pitiful streak of futility was going to be continued in such predictably heartbreaking fashion. But then I thought on it for 5 seconds. Isn't it our (my) turn to be on the other end of that cruel reality? We (I) have waited through 20 years of being tonight's Astros team in black and gold uniforms, and even if this game felt more bad for them than good for us, it counts way more for us than it does for them. Meanwhile, Astros fans have decades of Berkman and Bagwell and Biggio to look back and reminisce on while they suffer through the next few terrible years. We have no room for pity and no room for mercy anymore. If the Bucs need to strangle babies to make the playoffs, then so be it. Every other team has had their time. Now it's our time.
2 years, 1 month ago on Game 99: Pirates 6 Astros 5 | July 2012
I'm sure this had a negligible effect if any on the Pirates trade strategy, but it's nice that they added a native Spanish speaker in a trade at the same time that they called up Marte. The Pirates don't have many Latino players and it's always easier adjusting to a new place when you have people to talk to. Also, first pitch homer is a really bada** way to start a career.
2 years, 1 month ago on Enter Starling Marte | July 2012
Also not a big deal, but you sold him a little short on this year's extra base hits. They aren't "13 doubles, 12 triples and 12 homers," but rather, 21 doubles, 13 triples and 12 homers.
While the Pirates haven't gained any ground on the Reds lately, the cool thing about being in contention and winning games is that you inevitably gain ground on SOMEONE. I mean, for every game the Reds have won lately, the Brewers have been on the losing end of that matchup. While no one is currently worried about the Brewers, it's still significant, as it pushes them farther and farther out of hope, making them a likelier seller at the deadline, which leads to a better trade market and an easier matchup later in the season when we play the Brewers again. Likewise with almost every game that isn't Rockies v. Padres: someone has to lose, and usually at least one team has some bearing on the Wild Card or trade market situation. I never before knew just how exciting baseball is when you're really competing for the playoffs! Every game in the NL has some level of import for the Bucs. This is sooooo fun.
2 years, 1 month ago on Keeping pace | July 2012
Ok, while this one was a very tough one to swallow, I have to say you're being a little harsh. The Rockies are a bad team. The Pirates lost to the Rockies. This much is true. But they didn't play ANYTHING like the Milwaukee series today. They didn't really square up on the ball? Not true. They were robbed time and again by fantastic defense (Barajas' would-be double to the wall, the two great diving plays by Pacheco, Pedro hit a liner that hung for too long, McCutchen got robbed on a grounder to SS). Harrison did make a terrible play and overall, yes, they could have played better. But in the end this game was not a strikeout fest that foreshadows future doom. It was a game in which the Pirates put up a good effort, but lost to a Rockies team that played the best baseball that their low talent-level could put forth. I hate losing to bad teams, but tonight the Pirates lost to a bad team playing its best, and barely at that. They're nine games over .500 and Joey Votto just went to the DL. Let's not lose our heads over a disappointing final score.
2 years, 2 months ago on Game 89: Rockies 5 Pirates 4 | July 2012
After watching this game I am nothing short of outraged at Burnett getting charged with all four of those runs. I don't know if Bud Selig sent out a league-wide memo abolishing the use of errors in scorekeeping, or if every scorekeeper in the ML simultaneously decided to stop giving them to fielders (3 or 4 years ago), but it's damn near impossible to get an error in this day and age. Which is a shame because Burnett was on pace to throw a CG shutout before that inning of mindlessness and complete loss of composure. Even good teams have a bad game or a bad series now and then, but REAL good teams don't put up these kinds of embarrassments more than 3 or 4 times in a season. Let's hope a trip to Denver rights the ship and kick starts a team that's really been asleep at the wheel since the All Star break. Colorado hasn't been the toughest team in the NL to beat this season. Also, let's pray that Pedro isn't about to nosedive into another pathetic-streak. Aside from his one good swing this series he has looked as bad as ever, at the plate and in the field.
2 years, 2 months ago on Game 88: Brewers 4 Pirates 1 | July 2012
I find it hard to believe that a package that includes Marte as the centerpiece is enough to make the Bucs a "serious bidder" for Upton. There has to be a major league piece we're not being told about. Let's pray it's not Alvarez or JMac or something.
2 years, 2 months ago on Jayson Stark: Pirates "serious bidder" for Justin Upton | July 2012
I too, am OK with baseball overload. These last few days have been rough. And I'd say this feels more like Christmas morning with bipolar parents, since we don't know if we're getting a manic shopping spree worth of presents this half, or a big steaming pile of coal and reindeer turds like we did last year. Let's just pray for the former.
2 years, 2 months ago on Baseball comes back in a big way today | July 2012
Encouraging is the exact word I keep thinking lately. This streak has been nowhere near as "exciting" or "exhilarating" as his first one this year was, but we all knew he couldn't sustain that performance. This streak seems much more like the kind of Pedro Alvarez that we all envisioned him being on a regular basis when he was in the system: he's been good all around, and for a longer period of time, with power, but some singles up the middle too. The strikeouts have been high, but not as high as when he slumps, and his walks have been good. This is the Pedro that we need to see consistently. Also, let's not forget his defense, which, at least when I've been watching, has been better than expected. His range isn't glorious, but his arm is unreal and he makes some very nice plays from time to time, with less wild throws than in the past.
2 years, 2 months ago on Pedro Alvarez at the halfway point | July 2012
I continue to love the Wallace references. While I agree that the playoffs and the World Series are the most important goals, I still think you gotta keep 82 in mind. In any event, while there are a lot of things that can fall apart in the next half, we all need to bear in mind a couple positives about the next 77 games: 1.) We're already a couple games into the technical second half and we've already stolen a few wins from it. 2.) During the weeks in which Sutton has been hot and McCutchen has been on FIRE fire, and everyone else has been playing too well to sustain, we haven't just won games, we've blown teams out. We don't need Sutton hitting for a .950 OPS to win games by 1 or 2, but only if we want to continue to bash teams 13-2, which is something that's nice, but also something that we are capable of competing without. 3.) Our second-half schedule is littered with bad teams throughout. Bad teams that are about to get even worse as the Astros, Cubs, Padres, Rockies, maybe even the Brewers ship off their best players in exchange for prospects. You think we destroyed sub-.500 teams in the first half? Well it shouldn't be any harder to beat a team like the Padres after Carlos Quentin switches jerseys (maybe for a Pirates uni...). Point is, there are plenty of reasons to believe that the Pirates' success can be sustained as well. Their might even be room to fantasize about them winning more, if you're really greedy...
2 years, 2 months ago on The Pittsburgh Pirates at the break: a magical half-season | July 2012
This is one of the best baseball blog posts I've ever read in my life, and I've read about 5-10 every day for the last 2 and a half years. Great job, Pat.
2 years, 2 months ago on WHYGAVS Blog Baseball and Losing Recovery Blog | March 2011