Sunday, June 30, 2013

Pirates Game 81 Recap - Pirates 2, Brewers 1 (14 inn.)

Right now teams just can't beat the Pirates. They will try, and they might come close, but they just can't do it. There was a 2.5 hour rain delay today in the second inning with the Brewers leading 1-0 on an unearned run by Charlie Morton and while the layoff seemed to hamper the Pirates to some degree they just overcame and tied the game in the eighth and scored the game winning run with their last position player while Tuesday starter Jeff Locke was getting ready to come in for the 14th.

This wasn't about rain or the inability of the Pirates to capitalize when they had chances, this is about a team playing some good baseball and being rewarded for it. While the Brewers owned the Pirates for much of the last five years the Pirates now are 9-4 against the Brewers and have won eight of the last ten match ups. So much for the Brewers owning the Pirates. The Bucs now have won nine straight and with a St. Louis loss today they are two up on the Cardinals and still own the best record in baseball with 51 wins at the halfway point.

Today was all about the bullpen. With the lengthy rain delay that forced Charlie Morton out of the game after only 2.0 innings and 22 pitches it was up to the pen to get the win. Now when they came back to action it was the Pirates pen against the Brewers pen. At that time I would have taken the Pirates in that match up 100 times out of 100 and that proved true today.

Vin Mazzaro continues to pitch outstanding baseball giving Clint Hurdle 5.0 innings after the delay where he threw only 44 pitches and didn't allow a single base runner. Justin Wilson, Bryan Morris, Jason Grilli, and Mark Melancon each threw scoreless frames before Tony Watson threw the final three innings of relief. All told the pen threw 12.0 innings and allowed only two hits while striking out seven and not walking a single batter. I mean words can't even explain how massively huge it was for this pen to come through when they were asked to cover a huge chunk of the game and they are the collective MVPs of the game. Bravo.

Interesting about the Brewers is that Martin Maldonado went 3-for-5 and the rest of the Brewers team proceeded to go 1-for-41. Whoa. The Brewers are having a hard time offensively without Ryan Braun and right now they are just struggling massive. The Brewers were not really good today and it seems as if it is going to be an extremely long season for those fans.

I could talk about how the Pirates really wasted opportunities but screw that. This team is just doing everything right at this point and I say it every night but this is fun.

Pirates Game 81 Preview - vs. Milwaukee Brewers

Milwaukee Brewers at Pittsburgh Pirates - 1:35 p.m.
Kyle Lohse (3-6, 3.69) vs. Charlie Morton (1-1, 2.81)

Season Series (Pittsburgh leads 8-4)
April 29, 2013 - Milwaukee 10, Pittsburgh 4
April 30, 2013 - Milwaukee 12, Pittsburgh 8
May 1, 2013 - Pittsburgh 6, Milwaukee 4
May 13, 2013 - Milwaukee 5, Pittsburgh 1
May 14, 2013 - Pittsburgh 4, Milwaukee 3 (12 inn.)
May 15, 2013 - Pittsburgh 3, Milwaukee 1
May 16, 2013 - Pittsburgh 7, Milwaukee 1
May 24, 2013 - Milwaukee 2, Pittsburgh 1
May 25, 2013 - Pittsburgh 5, Milwaukee 2
May 26, 2013 - Pittsburgh 5, Milwaukee 4
June 28, 2013 - Pittsburgh 10, Milwaukee 3
June 29, 2013 - Pittsburgh 2, Milwaukee 1


Lineups

Pirates (50-30)
1. Marte 7
2. Walker 4
3. McCutchen 8
4. Jones 9
5. Alvarez 5
6. Sanchez 3
7. McKenry 2
8. Barmes 6
9. Morton 1

Brewers (32-47)
1. Aoki 9
2. Segura 6
3. Gomez 8
4. Francisco 3
5. Weeks 4
6. Betancourt 5
7. Maldonado 2
8. Schafer 7
9. Lohse 1

Report: Penguins Close To Extension With Kris Letang





I think I am only one of three people that is excited by this news. I have been pretty vocal that the Penguins needed to resign Letang but I also understand the other side of the argument.

Things aren't finalized and terms aren't released but it seems like it is all but a done deal.



A lot of people won't like this deal, but I do (without seeing the terms, but Ray Shero is a pretty sharp guy on this stuff and if it is true which it seems to be).

I think what gets lost in all of this is the long term implications. If he is extended for seven or eight years he is still going to be at a $3.5M cap hit this coming season before his salary goes up. The next year things will be tight but most are predicting the cap will be $70M in three years or so and as much as $80M in five years. This Letang deal (if it happens) will look like a great deal when the cap is up. The deal might look bad in the short term but I think Shero is really looking at the long term implications with this deal which might turn out to be great. (Assuming the deal is around $7.5M ish which is should be).

Might have some stuff on this later. Maybe not. Who knows. Go Bucs.


UPDATE: Deal is eight years, $58M



Pirates Game 80 Recap - Pirates 2, Brewers 1

The Pirates just keep winning. Whether it is a blowout where they gather 12 hits or it's a tight game where they need their staff to be at the best in a 2-1 win it is all the same. As a friend told me last night, "it doesn't matter what the stats say, all that matters is that the team wins." He was right. The Pirates got the win. The 50th.

Like I said, the Pirates only got six hits on the night but all it took was two hits to give them all the offense they needed. Pedro Alvarez launched his 20th of the season in the bottom of the second inning that probably would have been a shot straight into the river if not for the trees that line the walkway and then Garrett Jones hit a solo shot in the fourth inning that would turn out to be the game winner.

The Pirates needed Francisco Liriano to be great, and he was. I don't know if I would say "great" but he gave one of his more effective starts as he walked leadoff hitter Rickie Weeks and then didn't walk another batter on the day. Putting free guys on base has been a problem for Liriano for much of his career after his breakout 2010 season. Last night he struck out six and scattered seven hits over six innings and let Tony Watson, Mark Melancon, and Jason Grilli finish the job. While Liriano might not be the best in the lead or even on his own staff he probably can start being looked at as more of a real option to help carry this team. Last night he did.

ESPN gives us this:

The Pirates are the first team to 50 wins for the 1st time in over 50 years! (1902, 1903, 1908, 1909, 1921, 1960, 2013) The Pirates haven't made the playoffs since 1992. In the 20 full seasons since then, Pittsburgh had, on average, earned its 50th win of the season in Game #113.

In case you were curious game 113 happens in the beginning of August. ESPN also had a nice piece on the Pirates that you can read here.

A week ago I thought that the Pirates might be able to get to 20 games over by the break. Right now, with 13 games left until the All-Star break the Pirates are 50-30. You read that right 50-30. Soak it in. I am.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Pirates Game 80 Preview - vs. Milwaukee Brewers

Milwaukee Brewers at Pittsburgh Pirates - 7:15 p.m.

Donovan Hand (0-2, 2.37) vs. Francisco Liriano (6-3, 2.30)

Season Series (Pirates lead 7-4)
April 29, 2013 - Milwaukee 10, Pittsburgh 4
April 30, 2013 - Milwaukee 12, Pittsburgh 8
May 1, 2013 - Pittsburgh 6, Milwaukee 4
May 13, 2013 - Milwaukee 5, Pittsburgh 1
May 14, 2013 - Pittsburgh 4, Milwaukee 3 (12 inn.)
May 15, 2013 - Pittsburgh 3, Milwaukee 1
May 16, 2013 - Pittsburgh 7, Milwaukee 1
May 24, 2013 - Milwaukee 2, Pittsburgh 1
May 25, 2013 - Pittsburgh 5, Milwaukee 2
May 26, 2013 - Pittsburgh 5, Milwaukee 4
June 28, 2013 - Pittsburgh 10, Milwaukee 3


Lineups

Pirates (49-30)
1. Marte 7
2. Martin 2
3. McCutchen 8
4. Jones 9
5. Alvarez 5
6. Walker 4
7. Sanchez 3
8. Mercer 6
9. Liriano 1

Brewers (32-46)
1. Weeks 4
2. Segura 6
3. Gomez 8
4. Ramirez 5
5. Lucroy 2
6. Betancourt 3
7. Halton 9
8. Schafer 7
9. Hand 1

Friday, June 28, 2013

Pirates Game 79 Recap - Pirates 10, Brewers 3

Another day and another win for the Pirates. This time, again, over the Brewers. Johnny Hellweg made his major league debut for the Brewers and while he got through the first inning without allowing a base runner he wasn't as lucky in the second inning as he saw 12 Pirates come to the plate and let up seven runs on six hits and was aided by some brutal defense behind him. Gerrit Cole gave up three runs in the first inning but buckled down after that and it was all she wrote.

This was probably the first real adversity Cole has come across in the majors. His first inning wasn't good as he walked leadoff hitter Norichika Aoki before loading the bases with no outs and hitting Aramis Ramirez to force in a run. He then worked a double play to allow another run to score and it looked like he might be able to salvage the inning only giving up two runs but then gave up another single that plated a run before the inning finally ended.

After that though Cole was pretty good. He gave up only four hits over the next five innings and struck out three while walking two more. He averaged 95-96 with his fastball and threw his change up and slider effectively while maxing out at just over 100. That is what you are going to get from Cole. He did walk three guys but like I said before it was good that he bounced back after some adversity. This still wasn't a great game for him so we will have to wait for his next start on Thursday to see how he reacts to this.

The offense was clicking again. They had 12 hits with both Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen picking up three hit games while McCutchen launched an eighth inning homer and Marte coming a home run shy of the cycle. Feels good.

At the time I am writing this the Pirates hold the best record in baseball with 49 wins and are on a seven game winning streak. The Cardinals are currently losing to the A's and the Reds were already beaten by Texas to put them 4.5 back of the Pirates. It is still early but man does this feel great or what.

Pirates Game 79 Preview - vs. Milwaukee Brewers

Milwaukee Brewers at Pittsburgh Pirates - 7:05 p.m.
Johnny Hellweg (0-0, 0.00) vs. Gerrit Cole (3-0, 3.44)

Season Series (Pittsburgh lead 6-4)
April 29, 2013 - Milwaukee 10, Pittsburgh 4
April 30, 2013 - Milwaukee 12, Pittsburgh 8
May 1, 2013 - Pittsburgh 6, Milwaukee 4
May 13, 2013 - Milwaukee 5, Pittsburgh 1
May 14, 2013 - Pittsburgh 4, Milwaukee 3 (12 inn.)
May 15, 2013 - Pittsburgh 3, Milwaukee 1
May 16, 2013 - Pittsburgh 7, Milwaukee 1
May 24, 2013 - Milwaukee 2, Pittsburgh 1
May 25, 2013 - Pittsburgh 5, Milwaukee 2
May 26, 2013 - Pittsburgh 5, Milwaukee 4


Lineups

Pirates (48-30)
1. Marte 7
2. Martin 2
3. McCutchen 8
4. Jones 3
5. Alvarez 5
6. Walker 4
7. Snider 9
8. Mercer 6
9. Cole 1

Brewers (32-45)
1. Aoki 9
2. Segura 6
3. Gomez 8
4. Ramirez 5
5. Lucroy 2
6. Francisco 3
7. Weeks 4
8. Schafer 7
9. Hellweg 1

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Penguins Extend Kunitz

Early this morning we all found out that the Penguins have extended forward Chris Kunitz through the 2016-17. That deal was added onto the one year he has left on the current deal which pays him $3.725M per year through this coming year then pays him $3.850M for the three years after it.





On the surface it seems like a pretty good deal for the Penguins. They get him for basically the same cap hit and with his time with the Penguins he has been a very good. In 266 regular season games Kunitz has 91 goals and 120 assists for 211 points. He has shown that he can play on both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin's line and he is the perfect Dan Bylsma player. Bylsma loves guys like this who have some skill but do all the little things like go in the corner and stand in front of the net on the power play and just give it their all game in and game out.

This really opens up the free agent/trade season as the Penguins are still talking to Pascal Dupuis, Matt Cooke, and Kris Letang. It would be really hard to imagine the Penguins offering much more to Dupuis and as we know the Letang saga gets more high school rumorish by the day. I guess you can call this the first shot fired on that front and from the looks of it Kunitz took a pay cut in order to say. I would imagine that another team would have been willing to give him some more money based on his 22 goal in 48 game this past season and his 26 goal output the season before.

I am a pretty big Kunitz fan so it is good to see him back in the fold.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Pirates Video Roundtable - 6/26/2013

If you missed it tonight on Twitter James Santelli of Pirates Prospects was nice enough to invite me on with some of the best Pirates bloggers out there for a video roundtable.

Joining myself and James was Brian of Raise the Jolly Roger, Jim from North Side Notch, Pat from WHYGAVS, and Tom also from Pirates Prospects.

Over the course of the near hour and a half roundtable we talked about the following and more:

-The Pirates success so far

-Trade deadline targets and where the Pirates can upgrade

-Pedro Alvarez and what he has been doing

-What to do with Cole and the rotation if everyone is healthy

-What is going on with James McDonald

-The Pirates possible All-Star representatives

-We also took a bunch of questions from Twitter

Overall it was a great first roundtable and I want to thank James again for including me. From what I gather this is hopefully going to be a weekly thing and if I am asked to come back on I will try and throw up the live link before we get started.

Anyways, here is the video so you can check it out yourself. Enjoy!

Pirates Game 78 Recap - Pirates 4, Mariners 2

The Pirates getting a win was really important last night if not only for the fact that they were going to have to face Felix Hernandez today. Sure there was a chance that the Pirates could continue to pound Hernandez after his last start but truth be told he is one of the best starters in the game and no matter how good you are playing you can never feel confident about a win over a pitcher like that.

In my mind, before the game, if the Pirates could keep the game tied until Hernandez was out of the game then they could win the battle of bullpens with the Mariners. Actually they can go up against any team with the pen they have right now, but that was the ideal scenario for me.

The Pirates were able to get six hits off Hernandez and scored a pair of runs on a huge home run off a 3-1 pitch to Neil Walker. That gave the Pirates a 2-0 lead and while Seattle got a pair of runs back when Hernandez left after the seventh inning the game was tie and the Pirates were in good shape.

Fast forward to the top of the ninth inning. Pedro Alvarez, who has been as hot as anyone in baseball, singled to lead off the inning (off a lefty) and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from Walker (who was hitting right handed). After a Gaby Sanchez groundout Seattle, for some reason, walked Travis Snider. Jordy Mercer came up and line a pitch right back through the box and Alvarez scored. The Pirates added another run when a strikeout of Starling Marte resulted in a run scoring thanks to a wild pitch. I know, right?

A different guy all the time now. Walker had the big hit to start it and while Pedro didn't go deep he collected a pair of singles. It is actually really good to see that he can pick up those singles and doubles to help win games and we don't have to hope for him to hit a home run to be productive. It is somewhat of an evolution as this month of hotness has gone on but all-in-all a win is a win and I will take it any way I can get it.

Pirates Game 78 Preview - @ Seattle Mariners

Pittsburgh Pirates at Seattle Mariners - 3:40 p.m.
Jeanmar Gomez (2-0, 3.07) vs. Felix Hernandez (8-4, 2.71)

Season Series (Pittsburgh leads 2-1)
May 7, 2013 - Pittsburgh 4, Seattle 1
May 8, 2013 - Seattle 2, Pittsburgh 1
June 25, 2013 - Pittsburgh 9, Seattle 4


Lineups

Pirates (47-30)
1. Marte 7
2. Martin 2
3. McCutchen 8
4. Jones DH
5. Alvarez 5
6. Walker 4
7. G. Sanchez 3
8. Snider 9
9. Mercer 6
Gomez 1

Mariners (34-44)
1. Chavez 9
2. Franklin 4
3. Seager 5
4. Morales DH
5. Ibanez 7
6. Smoak 3
7. Saunders 8
8. Blanco 2
9. Ryan 6
Hernandez 1

Pirates Game 77 Recap - Pirates 9. Mariners 4

When the Pirates face someone like Joe Saunders they should get the win. That is not to say that Saunders isn't capable of getting a win or can't beat the Pirates, but he just isn't that good. Granted, he had a string of really nice starts before facing off against the Pirates but the Pirates did what they needed to do against a soft tossing lefty, they hit him all over the yard. Saunders was done after 1.2 innings after giving up six runs on six hits and three home runs and the Pirates pretty much had this once wrapped up after the second inning. Games like this are fun.

All-in-all the Pirates had 13 hits and nine of those hits went for extra bases. They homered five times (!!!!) and Starling Marte went deep twice. At times this season the Pirates offense has really had a hard time hitting, especially against lefties, so it is always good to see what they can be capable of. Hell, Brandon Inge even went deep and had two hits.

Neil Walker was the only starter without a hit, but even at that he walked twice and now has a walk rate of nearly 11% on the season. Marte (three), Andrew McCutchen (two), Gaby Sanchez (two), and Inge (two) all had multiple hits.

Jeff Lock really didn't have his best stuff, but with a six run lead he didn't need to be his best. His control wasn't there but he only walked two guys (despite possibly getting some help from CB Buckner) despite throwing a lot of balls. Whatever. He still has an ERA of 2.06 and is now 7-1. What? I think Pat summed it up best:



17 games over .500. Good times.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Pirates Game 77 Preview - @ Seattle Mariners

Pittsburgh Pirates at Seattle Mariners - 10:10 p.m.
Jeff Locke (6-1, 2.01) vs. Joe Saunders (5-7, 4.48)

Season Series (Tied 1-1)
May 7, 2013 - Pittsburgh 4, Seattle 1
May 8, 2013 - Seattle 2, Pittsburgh 1


Lineups

Pirates (46-30)
1. Marte 7
2. Mercer 6
3. McCutchen 8
4. G Sanchez 3
5. Martin 2
6. Alvarez 6
7. T Sanchez DH
8. Walker 4
9. Inge 9
Locke 1

Mariners (34-43)
1. Chavez 8
2. Franklin 4
3. Seager 5
4. Morales DH
5. Ibanez 7
6. Bay 9
7. Smoak 3
8. Zunino 2
9. Triunfel 6
Saunders 1

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Pirates Game 76 Recap - Pirates 10, Angels 9 (10 inn.)

Oh baby. It is really hard to put into words what this game was all about. It was sloppy and really hard to watch at times but all the Pirates did was come back from an early 5-1 deficit and then stun the Angels scoring three runs in the ninth inning to tie the game then scoring four more in the tenth inning.

Honestly I am pretty geeked up about this game. I usually write a few paragraphs about the game in my recaps but I am just going to keep it short and sweet today:

-Pedro Alvarez went deep for the fourth straight game in the first inning. He is just on an unreal tear right now. He has 19 home runs and now leads the team in OPS. Yes, Alvarez leads the entire Pirates team in OPS. Granted, there are better stats than OPS but I think that says a lot about how far he has come.

-Charlie Morton didn't have his best stuff today. He didn't get good defense behind him but he did walked five guys and only made it through 5.2 innings with 99 pitches. His stuff was actually really good at times but any time you walk five hitters you aren't setting yourself up to be successful. The defense didn't help and some of the balls hit found holes.

-The defense was bad, especially early. Like, real bad. They were only charged with three errors but they made a ton of mistakes that didn't really help out Morton. The defense has actually been good all season so games like this are going to happen. Luckily they were able to pick up the W.

-Jason Grilli didn't have his best stuff today. With the Pirates up 10-6 in the bottom of the 10th inning Grilli gave up three runs on five hits and had runners on second and third with Mike Trout up with two outs. This was probably the biggest AB of the season so far. OK, maybe it wasn't but at the time it felt like it. Grilli got the strikeout. Nice.

-Tony Sanchez made his major league debut today. His first at bat he laced a double to right field. I have been pretty bullish on Sanchez over the last few years but I am hoping he can prove me wrong going forward. I doubt he is up past this next series with Seattle but it is good to see that he was able to get a big hit in his first chance.

-Duke Welker also made his major league debut. He pitched a perfect inning and notched a strikeout. Good on him.

-The Pirates picked up 13 hits. Alvarez, Starling Marte, Gaby Sanchez, Russell Martin, and Neil Walker all had two hits.

The Pirates get a day off tomorrow before taking on Seattle for a strange two game series. Pirates are now 46-30. Soak this all in guys, it's fun.

Pirates Game 76 Preview - @ Los Angeles Angels

Pittsburgh Pirates at Los Angeles Angels - 3:35 p.m.
Charlie Morton (1-1, 1.74) vs. Joe Blanton (1-10, 5.62)

Season Series (Pittsburgh leads 2-0)
June 21, 2013 - Pittsburgh 5, Los Angeles 2
June 22, 2013 - Pittsburgh 6, Los Angeles 1


Lineups

Pirates (45-30)
1. Marte 8,
2. Mercer 6
3. Alvarez 5
4. Jones 9
5. Walker 4
6. G. Sanchez 3
7. Snider 7
8. T. Sanchez DH
9. McKenry 2
Morton 1

Angels (33-42)
1. Bourjos 8
2. Trout 7
3. Pujols DH
4. Trumbo 3
5. Kendrick 4
6. Callaspo 5
7. Aybar 6
8. Iannetta 2
9. Shuck 9
Blanton 1

Pirates Game 75 Recap - Pirates 6, Angels 1

The Pirates are doing nothing but winning baseball games right now. They are getting in some trouble during the game but all they do is get out of the trouble and then win games. I don't know how they are doing it and at this point I don't care how they are doing it, they are just getting wins and that is all that is matters. I talked earlier this year about the Pirates stacking wins and that is exactly what they are doing. Unreal fun to watch.

The Pirates top four hitters went 1-for-18 and the Pirates ended up with six runs and ten hits. Last season for the most part if Andrew McCutchen wasn't getting hits the offense wasn't going to do much. This year is the exact opposite where every night it is a different guy in the lineup making a play and putting the team on top of everything else and it just works.

Pedro Alvarez is just red hot. He put the ball in the stands in his first at bat where he took an inside fastball and just crushed it to right field. He is on an unreal streak right now and it is just fun to watch him. I know I probably talked about it last night (or previous nights) and said that he just look comfortable at the plate but I don't think I have ever seen him as comfortable at the plate as he is right now. He is squaring up every ball he hits and it is a fun thing to watch. Already 18 bombs before the break. Yes.

Gaby Sanchez had a pair of hits as did Neil Walker. Sanchez had a really great day defensively that saved at least one run and he launched an absolute bomb in the eighth inning that put the game away. Walker hasn't been very good all year but he has been swinging the bat pretty well lately and it gives this offense a totally different dimension when he is driving balls into the gap.

Francisco Liriano was really good again tonight. He doesn't get overly deep in games as he only went 6.2 innings tonight but he had some filthy stuff tonight as he struck out six but also gave up seven hits and a walk. He did only give up one run so you can't knock that. After his struggle the past two years from control problems he has really tightened it up and become a really great addition to the lineup. He does get to some deep counts on hitters but has really done a nice job of battling back to get outs and while his pitch count might get up he keep things under control.

Jordy Mercer just keeps playing great baseball. Two more hits tonight. Love to see it. I rag on Clint Hurdle a lot but he made the right move in saying that Mercer was going to be the starting shortstop. I didn't think Hurdle would actually make this move since he is a veteran type of guy but big ups to him for recognizing the problem and making the move.

The Pirates are stacking wins. I talked about it earlier this year but for the Pirates to get wins now it is a huge positive. The Pirates are playing good baseball right now but at some point they are going to go through a losing streak and that is going to happen to every team in baseball. To combat that inevitable losing streak the Pirates need to get as many wins as possible until that point. They are 15 games over .500 now and they have 18 games left until the All-Star break. They play only three games against a team with over a .500 record so it is not out of the question to see the Pirates at 20 games over at the break and that would be a really nice place to be for the second half.

The Pirates already won the series and a sweep would be sweet. Playing with house money on the final day of the series. Go get it Bucs.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Pirates Game 75 Preview - @ Los Angeles Angels

Pittsburgh Pirates at Los Angeles Angels - 10:05 p.m.
Francisco Liriano (5-3, 2.44) vs. Jerome Williams (5-2, 3.14)

Season Series (Pittsburgh lead 1-0)
June 21, 2013 - Pittsburgh 4, Los Angeles 2


Lineups

Pirates (44-30)
1. Marte 7
2. Martin 2
3. McCutchen 8
4. Jones DH
5. Alvarez 5
6. G. Sanchez 3
7. Walker 4
8. Snider 9
9. Mercer 6
Liriano 1

Angels (33-41)
1. Bourjos 8
2. Trout 7
3. Pujols DH
4. Trumbo 3
5. Kendrick 4
6. Callaspo 5
7. Aybar 6
8. Iannetta 2
9. Shuck 9
Williams 1

How Time Changed The Pirates

Today I was watching some TV on my DVR since this was the first weekend I have been in my apartment in over a month and I was talking to @ErinLeaver about how we were pretty stupid to even think the 2011 Pirates were good and how we were probably fooled in 2012 thinking the team was better than it really was. It got me thinking of how far the Pirates have came since Neal Huntington took over back in 2007.

Now, Huntington has been far from a great GM in his time with the Pirates. He has made some horrific signings and hasn't always drafted well but the fact of the matter is when you look back to 2007 and see what the farm system was stocked with it almost makes you want to throw up. Go ahead, take a look:


This was what Huntington came into when he was hired in September of 2007. Yikes. Daniel Moskos was number five and Brian Bixler was on the list. Outside of Andrew McCutchen and maybe Neil Walker this list looks better than that night you tried to chug a gallon of milk in under an hour.

Granted there were some other players that were in the system that turned out to be better than guys on the Baseball America top ten but I am not sure you could get the greatest GM in the world to come in and make the Pirates a competitive team in three or four years with that dumpster fire that they were walking into.

Again, this isn't me saying that Huntington has done the best job or that he deserves to keep his job no matter what because that is not the case. I was actually indifferent on the current front office coming back this year when it was a semi hot button topic over the offseason. Fact of the matter is now the Pirates have a bonafide top ten (maybe top five and one scout said they were the best and it wasn't close) system in baseball and that involves some great work by everyone in the system.

There are a lot of things that go into making system good. It is everything from making good trades (getting Jeff Locke and Charlie Morton from Atlanta for Nate McLouth) to drafting well (the depth of the system now), to making good free agent acquisitions (this hasn't been a strong suit of the regime until recently).

It has been a slow process for all of these things but the fact of the matter is that it takes a while to go from nothing to a competitive baseball team. Baseball is complicated because for a lot of small market teams you need to draft well and that is going to be the backbone of your team. The problem with this is that it takes a long time. Gerrit Cole was the first round pick in 2011 and we are just seeing the fruits of that labor here in the middle of 2013. That is only two years but that is the exception and not how things generally go. You might not see a prospect for four years and even at that point you don't know what you have. It takes the skill of the player, good fortune that they stay healthy, a good development team, and some more good luck that they turn out. Most don't and that is why you need to have so much depth in the minor league system.

The depth is key. A lot of publications aren't even putting Stetson Allie in the Pirates top ten right now because they don't have anyone they can drop below him. Go back up and look at that 2007 list and imagine where Allie would rank. Top ten? Yes. Top five? Probably. Top three? Maybe. That is the evolution of this club.

In 2011 the Pirates had holes and they didn't have anywhere to go to fix them. In 2013 the Pirates have fixes where they don't have to look outside the organization to fix it. They have trotted out unlimited starting pitchers. They have gone 11 or 12 deep and they are still throwing out guys like Brandon Cumpton who are giving them quality starts. Do you think you could do that in 2010 or 2011 or even 2012? No, you couldn't Could Moskos have come in last year and do what Locke has done this year or what Justin Wilson has done? Was there a guy in the system like Cole? Or Jamison Taillon? Or Tyler Glasnow? Was there hitters like Alen Hanson or Gregory Polanco. Sure there was McCutchen but you had to follow him up with guys like Bixler.

Part of the problem I saw in earlier years were that the Pirates never completely blew it up. Before Huntington took over it was alway a partial rebuild where they kept guys that they probably shouldn't have to try and make that one magical push. It was a great idea in theory but the Pirates needed to be blown up the entire way. When you blow up a team it takes time to go from nothing to go to a team with a chance to contend. While Pirates fans have been frustrated with the 20 losing seasons I think you have to realize that you can't lump all these 20 seasons on any one person or ownership. These 20 years is a huge failure that has a lot of moving parts but I think we are starting to see the fruits of the labor for the first time. As I said baseball is a tough sport to turn a team around and while it has taken a while for this management club I think there is some light at the end of the tunnel.

I know I get label as an apologist and someone who probably loves the prospects too much and sticks up for the Pirates all the time but this was more of a reflection piece and not a post to try and justify while any one person or front office is good/bad/whatever. The Pirates are playing some good baseball with unlikely pieces from within and after thinking about it a little today it was pretty shocking that the Pirates could win games with what they had ten or so years ago. I would go to games and watch Jimmy Anderson and Shane Youman make starts. For real. It was that bad. It isn't to that point anymore. That is a good thing.

It is a good time to be a Pirates fan. Back in 2007 when Huntington I thought that this year was the first time Pirates had a chance to even get to .500 was this year. They are surprising us all and looking at 2007 and now looking at 2013 it is pretty impressive to see how far the Pirates have come. The whole system from the major league team all the way to the bottom has improved and while there have been a lot of bumps in the road it has all been part of the bigger goal of building this team to a contender that can be more than just a one year wonder like 1997 was. We still have no idea where this year and future years are going to end up but I can say with conviction that I have a much better feeling about it now than I did in any year before this one.

(Also, bit thanks to @ErinLeaver for starting the conversation to push me to write this)

Andrew McCutchen Gets Some Recognition

The title of the post might be a little misleading as it really isn't a baseball thing, per-say, but it is still something pretty cool.

As it was brought to us late last night by Mike Oz over at Big League Stew it turns out that Mr. McCutchen was the first MLB player to be given a custom Beats by Dre set from the company. If you don't know what these things are they are pretty much a pair of headphones that have become a style symbol by athletes and famous people alike.

Take a look at these bad boys:


As Oz says in his story:

"For certain stars, Beat by Dre even makes custom headphones — like these for Kobe Bryant, or these for Knicks superfan Spike Lee.

They are, simply put, a status symbol.

No baseball player had received his own custom pair of Beats by Dre Pro headphones (the Rolls Royce of the line), according to the company's sports marketing manager — until now. Andrew McCutchen got his Friday."

I know some of you are pretty much going to shake your head and say that this is dumb and stupid but what it really shows is that the Pirates have a top of the line player in the league and people are recognizing that. Make sure you take a look at the article for more pictures and a little more backstory but the quote from a Beats by Dre spokesperson says it all:

"We chose Cutch because to us he is the face of the new generation of players."

Feels good to have one of those players on the team we cheer for. Pretty cool.

(h/t to @be2then for the find)

Pirates Game 74 Recap - Pirates 5, Angels 2

Gerrit Cole picked up his third straight victory and had his best outing of his young career as the Pirates touched up the Angels for four early runs and had a really strong all around game in the first game of a short West coast trip. Cole pretty much dominated the Angels and finally went to his bag of tricks, utilizing his full arsenal of pitches to baffle LA for much of the game. Watching how Cole pitched tonight is why I get so excited about the draft and the prospect of players coming through the system. This was fun stuff.

Cole was really, really good on the night. Not that Cole wasn't good in his first two starts but both of those starts left a little bit to be desired from the guy who was supposed to be the front line starter. In those two starts he relied heavily on the fastball and while that worked early in the game teams were able to see the ball well and put some good wood on it since they were mostly four-seam fastballs with not much movement on them. Tonight was a much different story as Cole mixed in his change up much more and also threw the curve/slider/slurve a lot more. The results were much better than the first two outings. Cole ran into some trouble in the seventh inning that he wasn't able to get out of but for the first six innings it was honestly surprising that the Angels were even able to get a hit. That was how good Cole was.

On the gun Cole was throwing it as hard as he ever had reaching 101 a couple of times and consistently sitting in the 96-97 MPH range through the seventh inning when he exited. What was really ridiculous was that he was throwing his slider around 92 and his change up around 93. Yea, a 93 MPH change up. Just sick. Now, I don't think you want to make it a habit of throwing your change up at 93 but I think it was a case of him being around a lot of family and friends and he was amped up. I would like to see that change up around 85-86 but it was working tonight. Actually his change up had me confused a little early as it looked like a two-seam fastball but a little AGH camera action showed the change up grip and it was really eye opening to see. Speaking of the two-seam fastball it seemed like he used that a good bit more tonight and the movement on the pitch was pretty fun to see. Just as I (and most) expected when Cole started using more of his secondary stuff he was able to get more strikeouts. He had five punch outs on the night and got Albert Pujols twice and Mike Trout once and all three of those K's he made them look silly. Just an overall really impressive game from Cole even if he couldn't finish off the seventh inning.

The offense really came to play tonight and really made things hard for Jared Weaver. Weaver hasn't been as good as he was last year but the Pirates were all over him early and often. They jumped out a 4-0 lead that was spearheaded by a solo home run by Pedro Alvarez (ho hum) and a two run bomb from Jordy Mercer, both in the second inning. Starling Marte tripled for what seems like the billionth time (off a ball that Angels CF Peter Bourjos lost in the lights) that drove home Neil Walker. All-in-all Weaver was still able to pitch six innings but the Pirates got nine hits off him and four runs. I will take that.

Mercer just keeps on hitting. Three more hits tonight and now has a .290/.339/.495 line with the Pirates and he has been getting every day shortstop play which is what he deserves. While people still underrate his defensive ability I think he is still not as good of a defender as Clint Barmes is but the offense is way outweighing any defensive falloff that might come from him playing over Barmes. It has been a welcome sight to get some offensive production from the shortstop position.

Alvarez is in one of those zones right now. He blasted a second inning home run to open up the scoring for the Pirates and finished with a 2-for-3 night to bump his triple slash line to a healthy (for him) .229/.298/.480. After a really slow start to the season he now has 17 home runs and has driven in 49 runs. He still is going to strike out a lot and will not give you what you expect out of the number two overall pick but he is playing some good overall baseball right now. He looks as comfortable at the plate that I can ever remember and now he sits as a 1.4 fWAR player with a 112 wRC+. Pretty good for a guy only hitting .229 with a 33% strikeout rate.

Pretty amazing that you could say Andrew McCutchen has had a slow start to the season and he is still at .289/.359/.447 clip with 22 doubles. He's so good at baseball.

Very good win tonight. The Pirates now move to 14 games over .500 and while they aren't always playing great baseball they are getting wins and stacking them. Sure a bad streak of games is bound to happen (like it did for a stretch against Atlanta and Cincinnati) but when you can build up wins to cushion that blow it helps.

Back at it tomorrow.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Pirates Game 74 Preview - @ Los Angeles Angels

Pittsburgh Pirates at Los Angeles Angels - 10:05 p.m.
Gerrit Cole (2-0, 3.75) vs. Jered Weaver (1-3, 4.41)


Lineups

Pirates (43-30)
1. Marte 7
2. Martin 2
3. McCutchen 8
4. Jones DH
5. Alvarez 5
6. Sanchez 3
7. Walker 4
8. Snider 9
9. Mercer 6
Cole 1

Angels (33-40)
1. Aybar 6
2. Trout 7
3. Pujols 3
4. Trumbo DH
5. Kendrick 4
6. Callaspo 5
7. Hawpe 9
8. Conger 2
9. Bourjos 8
Weaver 1

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Pirates Game 73 Recap - Pirates 5, Reds 3

This tweet from Pat Lacky really put into perspective on what the Pirates did in Cincinnati and how baseball (and any sport really) can be so weird and so different than what we thought it would be:



Yup, who saw that coming? Not many people. Whatever, it's a split and all things considered this series could have been a sweep either way. The Pirates and Reds are in the exact same position with each other that they were before the series started and to be honest that is alright with me.

This game was won by Brandon Cumpton in only his second start and did a pretty nice job for a Pirates team that is going through starting pitchers like they are going out of style. He went five innings and threw 90 pitches while giving up two runs (one earned) and only five hits. Sure it wasn't a blow you away start but he did what he needed to do, give the Pirates a chance to win. He ran into a little trouble in the fourth inning but was able to work out of it and after the five innings the Pirates were only down one run. I am not sure how many more starts he will make but for a guy to come up who most people didn't even know was in the system this really goes a way in explaining what the sytem has gone through in the last five years or so. Very impressive even if these guys don't give you the same shutdown start that you would expect from someone like A.J. Burnett or Wandy Rodriguez.

While Cumpton was really good you gotta tip your hat to the pen. They were without Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli thanks to Clint Hurdle using them in a four run game two days ago for no reason which left a close game sort of more nail biting then they normally would be. Bryan Morris and Tony Watson each came in for a pair of innings and were really good. Morris did give up three hits and a run but with the Pirates three run lead he didn't need to be perfect. Watson was even better as he was able to navigate through the eighth and ninth inning on the spot and earn his second save of the season. I know the eighth and ninth innings are magical for relievers and nobody can just jump right into to have success but Watson did a really nice job. I am hot and cold on Watson as I really have no idea how I feel about him but he had a really nice series against the Reds.

The offense banged out ten hits, which was really impressive after the first three games of this series and pretty much the offense was all on the back of Pedro Alvarez. He has been swinging a really good bat this month and went 3-for-4 with a double, home run, and drove in all five runs for the Pirates today. When Pedro is locked in he can be as fun to watch as anyone in a Pirates uniform and today was one of those days. Biggest hit of the game, and maybe the series, came in the top of the seventh of a tie game. After Hurdle tried to force the Pirates into not scoring a run with a first and second no out and a bases loaded one out situations Alvarez faced left handed specialist Tony Cingrani. Alvarez cleared the bases with two outs on a double down the right field line and that was all they needed. I have no idea how to approach Alvarez. On one hand he looks like the guy who the Pirates used their first round pick on and then other times he looks like he should be playing in AA. Today he won the team a game, as he has done before this season, and when that happens all you can do is smile. His line is up to .223/.290/.464 and while that is not great when he is launching baseballs into the stands and driving in runs you can take the low batting average and on base. Would you like him to walk a little more? Sure, but he is what he is.

Starling Marte was the only other Pirate with more than one hit as he had two.

Like I said it was a really nice win for the Pirates on a day where they really didn't do much right. The defense wasn't great, the base running was atrocious, and the hitting still struck out 12 times and went 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position and left seven on. You take wins any way you can get them and when you can beat one of the top teams in the leauge with results like that then it is a good day.

Pirates Game 73 Preview - @ Cincinnati Reds

Pittsburgh Pirates at Cincinnati Reds - 12:35 p.m.
Brandon Cumpton (0-0, 5.40) vs. Homer Bailey (4-5, 3.80)

Season Series (Pirates lead 5-4)
April 12, 2013 - Pittsburgh 6, Cincinnati 5
April 13, 2013 - Pittsburgh 3, Cincinnati 1
April 14, 2013 - Pittsburgh 10, Cincinnati 7
May 31, 2013 - Cincinnati 6, Pittsburgh 0
June 1, 2013 - Cincinnati 2, Pittsburgh 0
June 2, 2013 - Pittsburgh 5. Cincinnati 4
June 17, 2013 - Cincinnati 4, Pittsburgh 1
June 18, 2013 - Pittsburgh 4, Cincinnati 0
June 19, 2013 - Cincinnati 2, Pittsburgh 1 (13 inn.)

Lineups

Pirates (42-30)
1. Marte 7
2. Mercer 6
3. McCutchen 8
4. Jones 9
5. Alvarez 5
6. Sanchez 3
7. Walker 4
8. McKenry 2
9. Cumpton 1

Reds (43-29)
1. Choo 8
2. Paul 7
3. Votto 3
4. Phillips 4
5. Bruce 9
6. Frazier 5
7. Cozart 6
8. Hanigan 2
9. Bailey 1

Pirates Game 72 Recap - Reds 2, Pirates 1 (13 inn.)

Sometimes I wonder how Jeff Locke gets things done. OK, most times I wonder how Locke gets things done. He was in trouble pretty much every single one of his seven innings despiteonly giving up four hits. It seemed like every inning the Reds had runners either on the corners or at least one on second base and in each instance he was able to pitch out of it. Now I know I am talking it up more than it really was but that is what it feels like.

Locke went seven strong innings, giving up four hits, striking out three, and walking three. He lowered his ERA to 2.01 and has given up only seven hits in his past three starts. What sucks is that the Pirates offense hasn't been very good recently and while they held on to a 1-0 lead all it took was a bomb from Jay Bruce that resulted in Jason Grilli's first blown save and then a Brandon Phillips single up the middle off Vin Mazzaro in the 13th inning.

What this really comes down to is the Pirates went 0-8 with runners in scoring position and left 14 guys on base. At some point you just run into a pitch with a runner in scoring position even if you just chalk it up to the law of averages. That didn't happen last night. The Pirates offense hasn't been terrible over the last two weeks as they are right at league average with a 100 wRC+ and a below average .311 wOBA but it could be a lot worse.

The Pirates offense wasn't good last night and they wasted another opportunity. There is a part of me that wants to say that these kind of games just happen but there is also another part of me that is rationalizing that this Pirates offense is a below average one with a lot of capable hitters that just are decent/good with only McCutchen being the great one. They will have good day (like last week) and bad days (like last night) and you just have to understand that and roll with it.

Here is to hoping they can get the series split today.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Pirates Game 72 Preview - @ Cincinnati Reds

Pittsburgh Pirates at Cincinnati Reds - 7:10 p.m.
Jeff Locke (6-1, 2.19) vs. Bronson Arroyo (6-5, 3.27)

Season Series (Pirates lead 5-3)

April 12, 2013 - Pittsburgh 6, Cincinnati 5
April 13, 2013 - Pittsburgh 3, Cincinnati 1
April 14, 2013 - Pittsburgh 10, Cincinnati 7
May 31, 2013 - Cincinnati 6, Pittsburgh 0
June 1, 2013 - Cincinnati 2, Pittsburgh 0
June 2, 2013 - Pittsburgh 5. Cincinnati 4
June 17, 2013 - Cincinnati 4, Pittsburgh 1
June 18, 2013 - Pittsburgh 4, Cincinnati 0


Lineups

Pirates (42-29)
1. Marte 7
2. Martin 2
3. McCutchen 8
4. Jones 3
5. Walker 4
6. Alvarez 5
7. Snider 9
8. Mercer 6
9. Locke 1

Cincinnati (43-29)
1. Robinson 7
2. Choo 8
3. Votto 3
4. Phillips 4
5. Bruce 9
6. Frazier 5
7. Cozart 6
8. Hanigan 2
9. Arroyo 1

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Pirates Game 71 Recap - Pirates 4, Reds 0

As frustrating and hard to watch as yesterdays Pirates game was this game tonight was a lot more fun and a hell of a lot more enjoyable to take in. Charlie Morton came back for his second start with the big club and calmed the bats down in the Cincinnati lineup for a win. You might say he owned them:



heh.

On a more serious note it was another good outing for Morton. In his first start he looked a little too amped up and it resulted in his command falling my the wayside. Tonight was a totally different story. Morton threw 61 pitches in 5.1 innings of work where he gave up only three hits, struck out two, and didn't walk a single batter. That is a good outing my Morton. He was yanked pretty early by Clint Hurdle in a move I really didn't agree with but it all worked out in the end. I assume he was lifted because he had given up two base runners in the sixth and was going to face the heart of the order which was predominately left handed. In any turn it was a good outing for Morton and really encouraging to see him do this against a pretty good Reds lineup in a hitters ballpark.

The Pirates offense did nearly all of their damage in the first inning as they really worked Reds starter Mat Latos to the limit. They sent eight batters to the plate and scored three runs and had Latos really fired up for a number of reasons. Starling Marte started the game off with a triple to the right center gap and then scored on an infield single by Russell Martin. Pedro Alvarez platted two more with a long single into the left field corner with the bases loaded and that was about all she wrote.

After the first inning the Pirates really struggled offensively. Latos found his groove and just mowed down the Pirates. In the first inning the Pirates had three hits in the first inning and in the final eight innings combined they had only one hit. They struck out 17 times on the night and Latos had nine of those after a disastrous first inning. I guess it is good that the Pirates got all the runs they needed in the first inning because they were shut down outside of a Marte single that scored Jordy Mercer (who walked) in the seventh inning. It is no secret that the Pirates swing through a lot of pitches (third highest swing and miss rate headed into the night) and it is no secret that they strikeout a lot (fifth highest strikeout rate headed into the night) so I guess it is good that they can win a game where they were so brutally bad.

While the Pirates did strikeout 17 times they did walk six times. Now 17 strikeouts is embarrassingly bad but the Pirates made the most of the walks as it led to some runs in the first inning and then led to the Marte RBI knock in the sixth. Obviously I don't want to see the Pirates strikeout double digit times, but them walking six times is a good thing.

Marte was the only Pirate with more than one hit as he had two.

Russell Martin is just ridiculously good at throwing out base runners. Maybe it is because the catchers the Pirates have thrown out there the past ten years have been so brutally bad behind the plate that anyone average looked like the second coming but he has been as good defensively as advertised before the season. In the sixth inning Shin-Soo Choo reached with a leadoff single and tried to swipe second base but Martin threw an absolute laser to second to catch him by about a foot or two. After another base runner reached Joey Votto doubled to left. The Reds did not score that inning. Martin was a big reason for that.

The other big news of the game came thanks to Morton who hit Choo to lead off the bottom half of the first inning. It was Morton's first pitch of the game and hit Choo right in the shin. This was the retaliation I talked about from last night when Andrew McCutchen was hit then Neil Walker was buzzed. Morton also went a little high and tight on Votto and he took what seemed to be a little exception to it but I am not sure it was as close as Votto might have thought it was.

I actually thought Latos was going to respond back by hitting either Morton or McCutchen but thankfully it seemed like the early HBP to Choo kind of calmed everything down for the game. Hopefully this means this bs is over for the rest of the series and while I wasn't too keen on starting a beanball game I am glad that I was wrong about this blowing up to something bigger that is outside the realm of the actual game. I am glad to be wrong on this one. Maybe the best part of all this was that after Choo was hit Morton got Zack Cozart to bounce into a double play two pitches later. That just feels like Morton throwing the Reds the bird. It was awesome.

The Pirates recorded their 12th shutout of the season. Wow.

Pirates Game 71 Preview - @ Cincinnati Reds

Pittsburgh Pirates at Cincinnati Reds - 7:10 p.m.
Charlie Morton (0-1, 3.60) vs. Mat Latos (6-0, 3.08)

Season Series (Pirates lead 4-3)

April 12, 2013 - Pittsburgh 6, Cincinnati 5
April 13, 2013 - Pittsburgh 3, Cincinnati 1
April 14, 2013 - Pittsburgh 10, Cincinnati 7
May 31, 2013 - Cincinnati 6, Pittsburgh 0
June 1, 2013 - Cincinnati 2, Pittsburgh 0
June 2, 2013 - Pittsburgh 5. Cincinnati 4
June 17, 2013 - Cincinnati 4, Pittsburgh 1


Lineups

Pirates (41-29)
1. Marte 7
2. Martin 2
3. McCutchen 8
4. Jones 9
5. Walker 4
6. Alvarez 5
7. Sanchez 3
8. Mercer 6
9. Morton 1

Cincinnati (43-28)
1. Choo 8
2. Cozart 6
3. Votto 3
4. Phillips 4
5. Bruce 9
6. Frazier 5
7. Paul 7
8. Mesoraco 2
9. Latos 1

Monday, June 17, 2013

Pirates Game 70 Recap - Reds 4, Pirates 1

Well, that was certainly a pretty shitty and frustrating game to watch. The Pirates offense wasn't very good against Mike Leake and he held them down and the Pirates fell victim to four solo home runs. Great American Ballpark can be categorized as a hitters park with a lot of home runs being hit there but three of the four tonight were just no doubters. Francisco Liriano was pretty good in his start but gave up two solo shots, his first two home run given up this season, and that was about all she wrote.

Andrew McCutchen scored going from first to home on a Russell Martin double in the sixth inning to tie the game but Todd Frazier launched a home run into the stands in left field in the bottom of the inning to serve as the winning run. Watching McCutchen leg out a triple or score from first on a double in the gap is one of the best things to watch on this Pirates team.

The story of the game is going to be the fact that McCutchen was once again plunked and then in the bottom of the ninth inning Aroldis Chapman gave Neil Walker a pitch high and tight. This was a big talking point last year when Chapman hit McCutchen on purpose and the Pirates didn't hit a Red on purpose so I guess this is going to be the storyline the rest of the series.

As you probably know I am not a big fan of the 'beat on my chest' mentality that has become the back-and-forth hit by pitch thing that goes on far too often in games recently. At first this was a little far fetched as I thought that the pitch that hit McCutchen wasn't on purpose and it was just more of a normal hit by pitch. Thanks to the fact of what went on last season it gets blown up a little bit more than it probably should be.

I will say that I think the Chapman buzz of Walker, while I don't think intentional, was more of an issue than the hit by pitch of McCutchen. I guess I just don't subscribe to the fact that if the Pirates come out and plunk Joey Votto or throw at Brandon Phillips that it will automatically make this stupid tough guy routine start or lead to the Pirates somehow magically having unlimited confidence. While I don't agree with it I do understand the point that the Pirates need to stick up for themselves but just hitting one player doesn't make everything just disappear. What happens then when Mat Latos hits a guy, then the Pirates HAVE to hit someone else and it goes on forever. Where is the end?

Anyways, not a good night for the Pirates but the good thing is that where the Pirates excel this year is losing the first game of a four game series and then winning the next three.

Pirates Game 70 Preview - @ Cincinnati Reds

Pittsburgh Pirates at Cincinnati Reds - 7:10 p.m.
Francisco Liriano (5-2, 2.36) vs. Mike Leake (6-3, 2.76)

Season Series (Pittsburgh leads 4-2)
April 12, 2013 - Pittsburgh 6, Cincinnati 5
April 13, 2013 - Pittsburgh 3, Cincinnati 1
April 14, 2013 - Pittsburgh 10, Cincinnati 7
May 31, 2013 - Cincinnati 6, Pittsburgh 0
June 1, 2013 - Cincinnati 2, Pittsburgh 0
June 2, 2013 - Pittsburgh 5. Cincinnati 4


Lineups

Pirates (41-28)
1. Marte 7
2. Presley 9
3. McCutchen 8
4. Jones 3
5. Martin 5
6. Alvarez 5
7. Walker 4
8. Mercer 6
9. Liriano 1

Reds (42-28)
1. Choo 8
2. Robinson 7
3. Votto 3
4. Phillips 4
5. Bruce 9
6. Frazier 5
7. Cozart 6
8. Mesoraco 2
9. Leake 1

Friday, June 14, 2013

Pirates Game 66 Recap - Giants 10, Pirates 0

Yikes, that was bad. As good as the Pirates offense was in the first two games of the series it was pretty much that bad tonight. Matt Cain has been pretty bad so far this season but he looked like he did last season when he only allowed a James McDonald single to spoil a perfect game bid against the Pirates. The Pirates tonight got the first of three hits in like the fifth inning and never really challenged after that. Andrew McCutchen doubled and Pedro Alvarez walked twice but that was about it.

Charlie Morton was sort of the story of the night. After having Tommy John surgery last year he came back pretty strong. While his final line isn't going to blow you away he still was pretty good on the night for his first game back. He went five innings, struck out five, surrendered seven hits, four runs (two earned), and got six of his nine batted outs in the form of groundouts. I think what was most interesting is that Morton had his velocity around 93-94 and got it up as high as 96-97 during the night. You could definitely tell that he was amped up for the start but as Dave Manel of Bucs Dugout wrote about Morton and Cole's starts weren't all that different when you actually sit down and look at it. Interesting read from Dave.

Outside of Morton things were just really bad. To be honest these games are going to happen. This one just got away from the Pirates and in the sixth inning when the Pirates called on Mike Zagurski to pitch that was really the white flag. He gave up five runs on six hits, in one inning. Yikes. No reason he still needs to be on the roster.

All-in-all, like I said, these games happen. What is nice is that these games for the Pirates are coming fewer and farther between. They still took the series from the Giants which is really what we should be focusing on. As long as the Pirates are winning series they are going to be in a good shape going into the break and going further into the second half of the season.

The Pirates have an interesting setup as we all found out that A.J. Burnett was going on the DL with a problem with his calf and they already have a slew of pitchers on the DL including Wandy Rodriguez so we are going to need to see the depth that they have. They have moved up Jeff Locke to pitch on Friday night with Gerrit Cole going on Sunday. That leaves an open spot on Saturday for someone to pitch. No idea who that may be.

Gregory Polanco Moves To Altoona

Something I don't really get into too much here is the prospect stuff. There are much better sites for that and I don't get to watch too much of the lower levels of the Pirates system thanks to where I live. That being said this was tweeted out by one of the Pirates top prospects in the wee hours of the night:



This has been a question a lot of people have been asking and here is the answer. Polanco has been tearing it up over the last two seasons and so far this season. This year he is tearing it up with a .312/.364/.472 slash line and it will be interesting to watch how he progresses at the AA level.

Here are his career stats in the minor leagues:

YearAgeTmLevGPAABRH2B3BHRRBISBBBSOBAOBPSLGOPSTB
200917PiratesFRk63261221345986024123350.267.370.357.72779
201018PiratesRk5320018821385132319941.202.245.287.53254
2011192 TeamsRk-A-51213179344144335182435.229.322.346.66962
201119PiratesRk48203169344044334182433.237.333.361.69461
201119State CollegeA-31010010001002.100.100.100.2001
201220West VirginiaA116485437841422661685404464.325.388.522.910228
201321BradentonA+572412182968170630241637.312.364.472.836103
5 Seasons34014001243202348601728197113126227.280.350.423.773526
Rk (2 seasons)Rk101403357557895657373374.218.289.322.611115
A (1 season)A116485437841422661685404464.325.388.522.910228
FRk (1 season)FRk63261221345986024123350.267.370.357.72779
A- (1 season)A-31010010001002.100.100.100.2001
A+ (1 season)A+572412182968170630241637.312.364.472.836103
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/14/2013.