Sunday, May 20, 2012



Where do we go from here?

Let's just face it. There is nobody in our system. Marte is not ready. Hague is not the answer. Fox is not the answer. Clement is not the answer. Mercer isn't the answer yet, at least.

We could try all of those guys, sure, but I don't think we're going to find any interesting results.

Max Scherzer appreciated the Pirates 15 K effort

A major league trade needs to be made. An Alonso type trade. A Bourn or a Pence type trade. Why? Our offensive problems are not temporary. There is nobody. NOBODY, outside of Josh Bell who looks like they could seriously cause some damage at the major league level.

Our pitching however, is pretty deep. Much deeper than thought at the beginning of the season. Guys like Rudy Owens and Justin Wilson look like they could come up and at the very least, fill a rotation spot. Brad Lincoln looks like he might be able to be successful in the rotation.

So here's what I would do.

Trade Joel Hanrahan, Erik Bedard and Jose Tabata.

What are you going to get for them? Who knows. Billy Butler? Alex Gordon? Justin Morneau?

Anyone would help right now.

You trade Joel Hanrahan because he is easily replaced. He doesn't have extraordinary trade value, but it isn't bad. I think Brad Lincoln, Moskos, or a number of other guys could actually step into the closer's role and be successful.

You trade Bedard because he has some good trade value right now while he is still healthy. It's not massive, there is a reason why we got him for so cheap. BUT, some teams do need some rotation help and he brings that. The Royals and the Twins though (the teams that have guys like Butler, Gordon, Morneau) probably won't be very interested in him. Easily replaced (probably not with as good of results, but worth it to get a bat) by Owens, Wilson or Lincoln.

Tabata is essentially a throw in. I don't think he carries major trade value as he hasn't proven much at the major league level, but he does add some intrigue due to a low age and decent upside. Easily replaced by Marte

Andrew McCutchen is absolutely killing it, but nobody else appears to want to contribute. Alvarez has reverted back to his early season self for the moment, Neil Walker isn't quite doing what he should be, and everyone else is just plain awful.

A few more notes and stuff

-Harrison isn't the answer at shortstop. Right now he's probably better than Barmes, but that won't last long. If both Barmes & Harrison play 162 games, Barmes is going to have better numbers.

-Speaking of Barmes, I would continue to play him for another couple of weeks. He isn't THIS bad. Nobody can possibly be this fking awful. His career hitting numbers aren't great, so I'm not sure what everyone is expecting, but he should be doing much better than this. An OPS near .700 isn't too much to expect, and would drastically improve this team.

-I like picking up Adam Lind, but the high cost might not be worth it. I think he could turn it around a bit, but probably not enough to justify his contract. Doubt we'll see him in a Pittsburgh uniform.

-Keep in mind, with all of this doomsday talk of the offense, the Pirates are still just 3 games under .500. They came very close to taking a series against the Tigers (who are also under .500 despite having a ridiculously powerful lineup).

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Barajas...hero? Ummmm



The Pirates won a baseball game on Tuesday due to a walk-off home run from none other than Rod Barajas. The Bucs looked all but done after Adam LaRoche mashed a 2 run blast off of Joel Hanrahan to ruin his save opportunity and take the lead.

Casey McGehee lead off the 9th by flying out to right. Boy isn't he starting to look awfully below average? Every start he gets, he looks more and more like 2011 Casey McGehee. My guess? He was probably a product of a ballpark in which the ball launches off anybody's bat (I mean really, Andy LaRoche hit a ball off of the second deck in left field).

 In 2010, which would probably be considered his career year, McGehee hit a mediocre .728 away from Miller Park. I think people usually overrate the effect that protection has in a lineup, but it's probably fair to say that McGehee saw plenty of good pitches with both Braun and Fielder ahead of him. Those guys were ALWAYS on base, you don't want to walk a guy when there are runners on. McGehee isn't going to get that treatment here.

But I digress...

So McGehee flys out. Presley pinch hits for Watson next. Presley fights a blooper into center field for a base hit. Talk about clutch. Presley pinch hit on Saturday and came up with a game winning home run.

Who's up next? Barmes. Hurdle says "Son of a...who the hell wants to bat." Navarro raises his hand, he goes to the plate. After Rodriguez unleashes a couple of wild pitches to get to third base, Navarro can't even come up with a productive out to get Presley home with just one out. He strikes out. 2 outs.

Barajas comes to the plate. You know, the guy with like a .00048 OPS? The guy with no RBIs and no home runs? The guy that likely made hundreds of Pirate fans turn off their TVs and resume their nightly routine?

Barajas gets a cream pie to the face...ehhh let me reword that...

Yeah, Barajas comes up and cracks a bomb. Pirates win.

Here is the Greg Brown call that was compiled, thanks to

Alright he kinda freaks out, nothing new there.

But really, what a game. What can you even say? Did he redeem himself? Heeeeelll no. Barajas has been beyond awful, so bad this year. BUT, he did come through in the clutch against a team that leads one of the toughest divisions in baseball.

Baseball is an odd game. How does this happen? Burnett gives up 12 runs, then strikes out 10. Barajas looks worse than a high school bench player, then crushes a bomb to win the team a ball game.

 It just goes to show how everything we think we know about baseball goes out the window when that baseball is on its way to the plate. All of our stats, sabremetrics, analysis, predictions...etc, etc. Garbage. Useless. Shit. That's why the game is so great.

Getting back to the game again, what about Joel Hanrahan. He has not been good this year, and I think he NEEDS to be on his way out of town. The Yankees look like they aren't going to be pursuing anyone, Robertson seems more than qualified for their closer position, but several other teams may be in need.

Closers are overrated, I think that idea has become more and more widespread throughout baseball, so why not deal Hanrahan while he still has good value? Closers come and go like no other position in baseball, the Pirates NEED to cash in and grab a bat for him while they can.

Who would we put in his place? Brad Lincoln. Yeah, the first rounder who was supposed to be a top of the rotation guy? Why? Because he still has top of the rotation stuff. He has the mid nineties fast ball and the ridiculous curveball. Don't think that's enough to be a closer? How many pitches does Hanrahan have? 2. That's all you need, but I think Lincoln has more than that.

Lincoln has been effective this year, and I see no reason why he couldn't handle the 9th inning role.

Or maybe we should just put Rod Barajas at never know.

Sunday, April 29, 2012


Let me think of all of the names I called Pedro earlier in the year...


And probably many others. I won't apologize for the name calling--nope, those names were perfectly warranted at the time. But now....

It's Mash'dro. For all of the criticism Pedro has received, he deserves equal praise for succeeding.

After his 2-4 performance on Sunday afternoon, Pedro now carries a .200 batting average on the year. Not impressed? Consider that he had a .042 batting average on 4/17--less than two weeks ago.

What's more impressive is the power numbers. Pedro's 4 homers don't put him at the top of the home run leader board for the league, but he's at the top of the Pirates leader board. Not that he has much competition...

Also, Alvarez has a .732 OPS. A .732 OPS while only hitting at a .200 clip. That's just flat outrageous.

And if you want to dig even deeper into the encouraging aspects of Pedro's game, we can discuss where he is hitting the ball.


Pedro is spreading the field. Today, Pedro's first hit was a liner that was absolutely F'ing smoked over the Braves shortstop. His second hit? A double down the left field line. Oh, who did Pedro hit that double off of you ask?? Oh nobody...just Jonny Venters, you know, the guy who has had a K/9 rate of 10 the last two years, and is currently striking out 17 batters per nine this year? That is filthy...and Pedro drove one the other way off of him.

Nah, I'm not here to tell you that Pedro is going to win the MVP, that'd be Matt Kemp. BUT, he will be the Pirates MVP this year. Coming into the season, most people knew the Pirates season rested almost solely on the shoulders of the former #2 overall pick. A little bit earlier in the month, it looked as if the weight of the season was driving Pedro into the ground.

But somebody poked Mash'dro. Somebody awakened the beast, the power monster that the Pirates thought they drafted in 2008. It looks like he is here.

Be afraid NL very afraid.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Correia doesn't smell like Diarrhea


Oh yeah, I was on the Kevin Correia bandwagon last year. You know, when he had a pretty respectable 4.01 ERA and went to the all star game, despite probably being one of the least effective Pirates pitchers on the roster at the time? You know, when he had 11 wins in the first half, although wins are pretty much meaningless? 

Yeah, Correia did some good things back then. BUT, he had to play the second half of the year. Ohh how should I describe the second half? Should I say....shit hit the fan?

Correia's ERA Skyblasted up to 7.23 with opponents MASHING him to the tune of a .987 OPS. 

OH, and he held a 7.71 ERA at PNC Park the entire year, the good first half included. So pardon me for not becoming all warm and fuzzy inside when I see Correia throw a couple good games on the west coast--parks that are generally more favorable to pitchers, and most importantly, are NOT PNC Park.

Correia has gotten off to a good start this year, through two starts he has gone 12 innings with just two earned runs. I'm not excited.

I have a feeling Correia is going to start to "stink" it up again, and will be the odd man out when Burnett returns from his facial injury.

Some other news and notes around Pirateland...

-Alvarez went hitless yesterday before he was pulled for a pinch hitter. He is clueless. Neal Huntington basically said that he isn't going anywhere. Boy, I have a hard time believing that Pedro doesn't have anything to learn in AAA. He looks like he could learn something by hitting off of a batting tee...

-Justin Upton doesn't have a homer through nine games with the Dbacks. He is going to be looking to break out against the Pirates.

-I forgot to mention in my last post that Matt Hague has been sent down to AAA Indy. Not extraordinarily surprising considering the team's commitment to Alvarez. Hague isn't really necessary on this team if Alvarez and McGehee are on the big league club.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Save us, art thou J Mac!

James McDonald did something that no other player on the Pirates major league roster did yesterday. He got a base hit. That's pretty funny right???


This offense is horrid. Terrifying. Egregious. Let me pull up so I can continue with this...

Yes, James McDonald was the only thing that stood in between Matt Cain and a perfect game. McDonald hit a   ball hard in his first at bat, but poked a single to the left side in his second at bat. Nobody else made a peep.

Now look. Barajas, Barmes and Walker have been god awful. BUT, they aren't going to finish the year batting under .100. Why? Well, if Barajas and Barmes are hitting under .100 for another month or two, they will be gone. If Walker stays at his current pace (which he won't), well...this organization is going to have some tough decisions to make.

I just picked up Walker in a fantasy league, somebody with little patience already dropped him. Calm down people. Walker has hit the ball pretty decent lately, he's just getting zero luck. He'll turn it around.

Meanwhile, I don't have the same "turn it around" song to sing for the Pirates record, at least not for the short term. We have to keep playing the Giants for a couple games, then we get to go down to Arizona (Yay!). The month of April schedule is brutal, and it's April 14th. We have a long way to go.

In other news, Matt Hague has been sent down to AAA Indianapolis in order to make room for Morton on the roster. The Pirates looked ahead at future pitching matchups and decided they wouldn't need him more than Harrison and Navarro. They believe Hague will be back at some point during this season, he may be an up and down kind of guy. Tough, Hague hit the ball pretty well despite being 1-9.

Alvarez wasn't considered for a trip to Indy. He needs to be. This guy is LOST. He has no clue what he is doing, and it's becoming more and more evident every time he steps to the plate. I have always been one of Pedro's biggest supporters, but I can't support this. There was a particular at bat last night where Pedro saw 5 pitches, all balls from Matt Cain. He struck out. He isn't recognizing pitches he needs to recognize, and he isn't pounding balls he needs to pound. He has no clue. Let him play every day at AAA and get some confidence. He must figure it out.

Morton makes his first start of the season tonight at 9 PM EST. I'll have live updates on the Twitter (@thebattlinbucco) at least for the first few innings.

Friday, April 13, 2012

4/13 @Giants



Pagan CF
Cabrera LF
Sandoval 3B
Posey C
Huff 1B
Schierholtz RF
Crawford SS
Burriss 2B


Presley LF
Walker 2B
Cutch CF
McGehee 1B
Jones RF
Barajas C
Alvarez 3B
Harrison SS

Wow, what a brutal weekend series against the Dodgers. Pretty embarrassing showing for the Pirates offense. Can't say I'm much more optimistic about this series, especially starting out against Cain.

Hopefully getting some protection from McCutchen will get Walker some fastballs that he can line up. He needs to get going if this team is going to win.

Also, I don't think Hurdle is doing Alvarez any favors putting him at 7th. McGehee probably has the clean up spot locked up with how he's playing lately, but put Alvarez in the 5 spot. Jones isn't a ton more than Pedro right now, move him up in the lineup and see if he can hit with some guys on base with a little bit of pop behind him.

Game gets under way in a couple of hours.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Phillies@Pirates Series Recap 4/5-4/8/2012

Boy it's great to have baseball back again, even if we had to start it out by being crushed by the Phillies....

Wait. You say we took two of three?

Oh s**t!

The Pirates opened the season on April 5th against Roy Halladay. Bedard got the start and he threw darts. The offense...showed up to PNC Park a couple days late.


Karstens got the start on Saturday. He threw 6 innings giving up an earned run. It was the standard Jeff Karstens start--nothing fancy, just a guy going out there throwing strikes. You know what you are going to get out of Karstens every single time, he is invaluable.

It didn't look like the Pirates were going to get a run, until the Phillies afforded them one. The Pirates scored on a passed ball. It looked like Cliff Lee had the runner at home, but he couldn't handle the throw that was....right at his glove..

The bullpen did solid work, and the night's events culminated in an Alex Presley at bat.

Presley came to bat with runners on 1st and 3rd. In a 2-2 count, Presley hit a slow roller to the right side. Initially, it looked like Polanco was going to cut off the grounder. If he had, the outcome might have been different. Instead, the ball rolled all the way to Rollins at deep short. Rollins fielded it cleanly and fired a throw at first...

Too late.

Presley and the Pirates walked off and moved to .500 at 1-1.

McDonald got the start on Sunday afternoon against the Phils' Vance Worley. McDonald tossed 6 innings of  2 run ball, a welcome sight after hearing about all of the "dead arm" speculation during spring training.

Other good news. Pedro Alvarez (AKA K-Dro, E-Dro, Disappointmentthusfar-dro) hit a moon shot. His solo shot in his second at bat against Vance Worley would have rolled in the river had it not hit the back wall of the river walk. The homer was both encouraging, as it may be a sign of things to come, and depressing, because it shows just what we are missing when Pedro isn't performing like he knows he can.

I actually thought J Mac should have tossed the 7th inning, but Hurdle disagreed. He brought Jared Hughes on who proceeded to give up a couple of runs.

But Casey McGehee wasn't about to let 3 runs get away of a Pirates win. After Alvarez struck out and still got on base (maybe things were just going his way today), McGehee delivered a bomb off of the right field wall, just feet from leaving the yard.

Matt Hague also had his first hit, and his first RBI in the bottom of the 8th to tie the ball game with two outs. Clutch first hit for Mr. Hague.

The pen, once again, did good work.

The bottom of the ninth saw Casey McGehee come to the plate and blast yet another double, this time into the left center field gap.

After things played out, pinch runner Josh Harrison ended up on third, and McCutchen stepped to the plate with two outs. And Charlie Manuel sat on his ass.

“I didn't want to load the bases and I didn't want him to pitch against a lefty.”

Oh Charlie...that makes literally no sense. It might be time for you to hang up your cleats, boat shoes, or whatever the hell kind of kicks you wear on the bench. I'm convinced you have no clue what is going on on the field.

Let's think this out. If you walk McCutchen, you face Walker. No reason to stop there with a base still open. You walk Neil. Then you get to the Pirates pitchers spot (due to a double switch earlier). The Pirates have one guy on the bench, that's Rod Barajas. He hasn't been impressive whatsoever, except for his double  in Friday nights' thriller. 

So you wouldn't have been pitching against a lefty, and WTF does it matter if the bases are loaded? If McCutchen gets a hit you're going to lose. If Barajas had gotten a hit, you're going to lose. The ONLY difference would have been that a walk would have scored the winning run. Bad decision Charlie.

Anyway, Cutch cracked one off of the center field wall to end the ball game. 

Hell of a day for Cutch with three hits. 

This team feels a lot like the Pirates of early 2011. They are pitching very solid right now and finding ways to grind out wins. This is good, because they are of course winning. This is bad, because it probably isn't sustainable. But I won't talk about sustainability too much yet, it's only the first week of the season.

2 down, 80 to go. The Pirates are 2-1, one game above .500.