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. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Opening Day in the Burgh: 2012

It is officially opening day in Pittsburgh.

I have mixed feelings on this special day:

-I'm tremendously excited. Baseball is back once again for the long haul. No matter how angry the Pirates make me, I love watching them. I watch all of the garbage just for those few special moments that happen every season.
Most people don't understand us Pirate fans, but we understand each other. Through all of our frustration and disagreements, we all want the same thing. Despite our expectations for this season, low or high, opening day represents a new beginning...even if we're just going to begin losing again, I'm excited for another opportunity.

-I'm nervous. There are so many things that could go terribly wrong this season. Pedro Alvarez' fate will almost be entirely decided. If he stinks it up the entire year--where do we go from there? Where do we put him in 2013? Do we just leave him in the minors? What does he become? It's a question that I'm not even sure I want to know the answer to. Please don't let us down Pedro.

Can Bedard stay healthy? He can be something of an anchor of this rotation--but the catch is, he has to be in it.

-AJ is ahead in his recovery and should be back this month. What will he bring to the table? Can he be the old AJ (or at least show some representation of it), or will he be New York AJ? Huge difference that will determine a significant amount of games this season.

I'm excited to watch the continued development of Andrew McCutchen. He is starting to turn into something very special. Andrew wasn't a superstar last year. I believe that changes this year. Andrew will be a superstar, and he will carry this Pirates team, even if it is only to 70 wins.

Walker needs to bounce back. He had a down year last year. For a guy who is probably going to have to hold down the 4 hole, he doesn't bring a lot of power to the table. But we've seen Walker do damage. He isn't going to bop the ball over the wall often, but he's clutch. He can drive it up the middle with men in scoring position. We need him to do that consistently.

-The bullpen. What are we going to see here? Hanrahan is going to be good, of that I'm certain. Maybe he won't have no blown saves until near around the all star break like last year, but he will be effective. He is the ONLY one I am that confident about. Nobody else stands out. Neal has been adamant about saying bullpens are the easiest thing to build. Prove it to us Neal, this bullpen needs to be solid.

For better or worse, let's play ball!!!!!!!!!!!

First pitch around 1:35 EST, Bedard VS. Halladay

Thursday, March 29, 2012

7 days

A mere week separates Pirates fans from could be our impending doom--or a great season.

No matter your opinion on the future result of the 2012 Pirates season, you can't help crack a little smile when you hear that first crack of the bat--even if it is Shane Victorino hitting a blast into the PNC Park seats in the first inning off of Erik Bedard (ok maybe no smiles for that one).

Good news out of spring training today: K-Dro..ahem..E-Dro...I'm sorry...PEDRO Alvarez went 2/5 today. AND, he only struck out twice!! Yes..that's improvement. Now really, I still think he is going to rebound with a decent season despite this atrocious spring. I could see something like an average around .240-50 and 20-25 homers. It would be even better if he could strike out under 16,227 times!!

Oh yes...and the bad news. McDonald got F'ing the Twins. The Twins. The Twins.

3 2/3 innings giving up 10 earned runs. That's less than encouraging. So much for the 7 inning performance he had several days ago--this Twins performance sends me back into panic mode.

A couple other notes...

-McLouth is having a huge spring. If he can get back to his "Pirates mode" baseball, ya know, specifically 2008, we could have an interesting situation in the outfield...

-Jason Jaramillo has signed a minor league contract with the Brewers, and Zach Duke has signed a minor league contract with the Nationals. Why is this important you ask?? It isn't.

-Juan Cruz will be headed north and join the big league club. Cruz was an interesting sign this offseason as it seemed pretty likely he'd be joining the bullpen.

-In case you...

1. Live under a rock

2. Live in a normal house and haven't heard the news

3. Don't watch ESPN (and you shouldn't)

...Chase Utley won't be playing on opening day, and as a result I'm sure, won't be playing the entire Pirates series. This is good news, because now the Phillies will only be a lot better than the the Pirates have a brutal April schedule.


Yo folks,

Since I don't think I've ever mentioned it on here before, make sure you check out my Twitter @thebattlinbucco...if you're in to that whole social media thing.

I have been doing live game updates as often as I can, and I'll be doing a lot more of that when we hit the regular season.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Josh Harrison, Pirates-Astros 3/24/12

Josh Harrison just keeps hitting the baseball...

He isn't a guy that is mentioned with the Pirates core of Cutch, Walker, Tabata...etc. Harrison is just a baseball player. Simple as that. He is a gritty little guy that hits the baseball and plays decent defense.

If there was one name that wasn't being discussed before spring training, that name was Josh Harrison. It seems to me that he still isn't being discussed. He leads the team in doubles this spring, but more importantly, he really is getting great wood on the ball. He had another double today in the first inning: a rocket shot to the opposite field gap.

For a guy that I looked at as a slap hitter last year, Harrison looks like he has added a little more power to his arsenal. He won't be an every day player, so he doesn't need to hit a ton of home runs. A good gap power hitter will be invaluable coming off the bench though.

Oh...and Harrison is hitting .520 this spring. So.......yeah.

Anyway, the Pirates lost 5-4 on Saturday afternoon, which isn't really a big deal considering the two pitchers who allowed the Astros to tie and win the game in the 9th and 10th innings won't see the light of day on the MLB squad. 

The Pirates have been looking at Igarashi, who gave up 3 runs in the 9th, but I don't think he's going to make it.

Walker had a clutch two out two run single in the first inning, and The Legend hit a massive moon shot home run later in the game. Cutch stole a base, and it remains very clear that the Pirates are going to be moving quite a bit on the base paths this year. That should be fun to watch.

It was also very encouraging to see James McDonald pitch 7 innings today, giving up one earned run. He only struck out three, but we have been hearing a lot about him having possible "dead arm" problems. This is a good sign, even though he was playing against the Asstros.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Pedro Watch 3/18/12

And so continue the Pedro Alvarez updates that I am going to name "Pedro Watch" from now on. Why Pedro Watch? Well, that little slogan should come in handy when I'm speculating on when Alvarez will come up from the minor leagues.

Alvarez is on a figurative high speed train heading right toward Indianapolis.

A little less than a week ago, I gave an update and analysis on El Toro's spring training here. At the time, Alvarez was 3 for 16 with two home runs and five strikeouts.

Alvarez has been awful since then. Seriously. Awful.

Since my update, Alvarez has gone 1 for 7. He has struck out five times. Yeah, he struck out five times in his first 16 at bats this spring. That wasn't good. Now he has struck out five times in his last 7 times at the plate? What!?!?!?!

Here is a video of Alvarez to remind you that he actually used to be a dangerous hitter. But was that guy in the background on to something???

Dejan Kovacevic tweeted on Saturday that the Pirates had said this performance was "Not representative of [Alvarez's] whole spring."

Sure, that could be true. Pedro Alvarez could have 10 hits in the next week and blast three homeruns without striking out. He could draw two walks and hit a triple while playing gold glove defense. Or the more likely situation could occur...this depressing output from Alvarez will continue.

Here are a couple other Dejan Kovacevic tweets from Saturday relating to Alvarez. No, these are not meant to be inspirational.

"Alvarez: Swing and miss, swing and miss, swing and miss. That's six of those in a row."

"Alvarez's hat trick is complete. Another swinging K. There was at least a foul back to the screen in there."

Is this what it has come to? We are celebrating, or at least noting when Alvarez fouls a ball back to the screen!?!?!?

Now, it is important to realize that I am reading very heavily into these spring training statistics. Statistics which probably aren't a perfect way to predict future performance. Unfortunately, these underwhelming statistics are the only means by which I can speculate at the moment, and this blog is all about speculation until the actual season starts.

I think Alvarez is due for a turn around season, but he is trying very hard to ground my expectations, and he is succeeding.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Oh Pedro...

El Toro is the hot topic of the 2012 Pittsburgh Pirates season. I really haven't felt the need to write about him seeing as to how I'm pretty sick of hearing about him myself....but I guess I'll weigh in.

Man. You shouldn't have changed your number Pedro. 

#17 Pedro

#17 Alvarez 2010- 95 games, 16 homers, .256 AVG, .788 OPS

#24 Alvarez 2011- 74 games, 4 homers, .191 AVG, .561 OPS


This spring- 16 ABs, 2 homers, .188 AVG, .750 OPS

The spring sample size is tiny, I know, and I would take it with a grain of salt even after a full month. He has just three hits this spring, which is horrible with 16 at bats, but two of them are homers. Watching some of these games, Pedro seems to be hitting the ball pretty hard. Luck always plays into baseball, and he might be a little bit on the unlucky side this spring.

With that though, are his five strikeouts. Five strikeouts in 16 plate appearances probably needs to improve.

Another issue is his walks, or the non-existence of them. Yeah...there are none. It's probably hard to walk when you are struggling at the plate as much as Pedro has been. That's why pitchers rarely walk, it's better to throw three meat balls down the plate than it is to give a pitcher a free pass. Similar situation to Alvarez. Pitchers would rather give Pedro meat balls than walk him. That's where Alvarez has to take advantage. He can definitely hit a fast ball, he just needs to do it with more consistency.

Whether you like it or not, I know I sure don't, the entire 2012 season rests squarely on Pedro's shoulders. No doubt about it. There are other players in this organization, but they really don't mean much if Pedro ends up in AAA by May or June.

McCutchen is not the Pirates clean up hitter. We saw him try to make up for the lack of power in the Pirates lineup last year when the Pirates were trying to win the division, it didn't work out for either the Pirates or Cutch. 

Lead us to salvation, El Toro.

Friday, March 9, 2012


Ok so I have calmed down from my Andrew McCutchen signing high...

It is a slight possibility that I may have overreacted to that situation just a bit. But c'mon. We're Pirates fans. Anytime something happens that makes me forget for one moment that we are a tiny market club with an owner              
who has a history of being frugal with his wallet will make me all warm and fuzzy inside.

But I digress. There are more important matters to discuss now. Sort of.

Starling Marte is a monster. Ever since the Pirates were contending at the trade deadline last summer, Marte's name has been an interesting discussion point.

Marte has been successful at every level. He won a batting title in the Eastern League last year at AA Altoona with a .332 batting average. His power also began to develop; Marte drove 12 balls out of the yard in 2011 (he had only hit 5 home runs the previous two years).

It's probably a good thing that the Pirates didn't deal Marte before their epic collapse. Marte has been a hot spot this spring training. He was an 8 hit streak yesterday before he flew out to right field. Yes, and 8 hit streak. Not 8 games with a hit in a row. 8 hits in a row. Holy sh....

I was able to jump on Twitter as I watched the last few innings of the Phillies game yesterday. Marte blasted a homerun on a pitch that was low and inside in the zone. He has quick hands and his power is developing.

He has blazing speed and is a plus fielder, although you wouldn't have known it by watching him in right field this spring. He has looked confused out there, but that's not his natural position.

So what are the Pirates going to do about it? Clint Hurdle was just on 93.7 The Fan. He said there is no chance that Starling Marte will be with the big league club.

Yes. If Starling Marte gets a hit in every single at bat for the rest of the spring, he will not make the big league club. This is slightly frustrating given the urgency of the 2012 season, but it is understandable that the club doesn't want Marte to skip AAA.

It will be interesting to see who Marte will replace, as he will inevitably have to replace someone. It comes down to Presley or Tabata. Personally, I'm a bit torn between the two.

There are accurate criticisms for both outfielders. Presley is still a question mark. He's never been through a full season in the majors. He isn't a great defender, though he is good enough to man left field in PNC Park. His swing, however, is solid. He has a very quick stroke that leads me to believe that we aren't going to see a ton of regression.

If anyone is in line for regression this season, it's Presley, but I don't think we're going to see too much of it. He has shown the ability to spread to ball around the field and he consistently puts the fat part of the bat on the ball. 

Tabata worries me. His ceiling is higher than Presley's, but ceiling isn't the best way to determine your starting lineup. Tabata's injury problems are of huge concern, as well as his lack of power. He does get on base at a good rate though, and serves as a better lead-off man than Presley

Marte will surpass both of them, and Presley will probably end up being the one that rides the pine due to Tabata's big contract.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Pirates sign Andrew McCutchen

Neal Huntington shoots, AND HE SCORES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Andrew McCutchen has signed a 6 year deal worth $51.5 million. The deal buys out at least two free agent years, with an apparent option for another year.


This is huge. The Nuttings are willing to spend money to win...that much can really no longer be debated effectively. Neal Huntington has the ability to get things done, nobody can really argue otherwise anymore.

6 years for $51 million. That averages out to a little over $8 million a year. Compared to what McCutchen could likely get on the open market, this deal is a flat out bargain. We saw the Pirates sign Tabata sign McCutchen to a team friendly deal last summer. What nobody would have seen coming was Andrew McCutchen signing a team friendly deal the very next spring.

I really don't have much to say here. This is incredible. Perhaps I will have more to add in the morning but wow...huge. Huge. Huge. Huge.

Kudos Neal!!

Pirates Vs. Blue Jays Recap 3/4/2012

The final out has just been recorded in the Pirates "home" opener in Bradenton.

We have some good and bad stuff to talk about here.

Pitching- Erik Bedard went two innings giving up two earned runs, and Evan Meek gave up three runs through 2/3s innings. Not a very important result here as these guys aren't fighting for spots and have plenty of time to get their act together, but I'm looking for a good spring from Meek. We need to see positive results out of Meek more than we need to see positive results out of Bedard.

Hanrahan threw an inning of work striking out two. Good stuff from Hanny. Grilli and Moskos also threw a scoreless inning each, a good start for the bullpen guys in spring training.

Hitting- Nick Evans was the big story, hitting the first homerun of the year for the Pirates. This is the perfect guy to hit a spring training homerun. Evans needs to prove himself and it wouldn't hurt him to have a nice spring training showing. Evans might end up being a pretty valuable asset off the bench, and if the injury bug sets in like it did last year, we may see him in the starting lineup occasionally.

Barajas had a couple RBIs, while d'Arnaud and Hernandez each picked up one. McLouth went 1 for 3 with a double in the game.

Not a terrible game for the Pirates. The broadcasters said it was a pretty sloppy game played by the Pirates, I don't know to what extent though as it wasn't available to watch.

The Pirates play tomorrow night at 7:05 EST against the Baltimore Orioles. The game will be available to watch on MASN. Anyone who has will be able to check out the game, so I will be doing so. I do not think the game will be available in the Pittsburgh area.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

And We're Underway!!!

The Pirates have played their first spring training game!

And they were demolished....

I'm already hearing things like "foreshadowing" and "here we go again..."

I just don't buy it.

Especially looking at last years spring training standings. The Kansas City Royals finished with the best record in the American League. How did that translate into regular season success? Not very well. Spring training means nothing. No. Thing. N. Othing.


The Pirates are not trying to win. They are trying to figure out how the hell they are going to make sure they don't have a losing record two decades in a row when the real baseball starts in a month.

It's similar to when a top prospect plays baseball at a low level and does poorly. Chances are the top prospect isn't trying to put up great stats. He is working on a specific plate approach, a specific pitch, some way to prepare himself for the big leagues. That's what the Pirates are doing right now: preparing. So chill out Bucco Nation, there is nothing to worry about as of March 4th, 2012.

Except for AJ Burnett's shattered eye. That is cause for concern.

With the Burnett incident, one would think the rotation would look like:

1. Bedard
2. Karstens
3. McDonald
4. Correia
5. Locke/Lincoln/Reyes

I think Locke might end up being a pretty decent middle of the rotation pitcher. He's a pretty soft tosser, but he can hit his spots. We saw him for a short period of time last year and he got pounded. I don't think that's indicative of the kind of pitcher he is, and I would like to see him possibly get a shot.

Lincoln is the most frustrating player in the Pirates system. Yeah, Alvarez is a close second...but Alvarez has only been here for 3 years. Lincoln has been here for 5!!!! Yes, Lincoln has not had an easy go through the Pirates system with all of his injuries and such, but c'mon man! He is now a 26 year old "prospect," although he has definitely lost the prospect status in my eyes, and probably in the eyes of everyone else.

I wouldn't hate to see Lincoln on the mound in April to cover for AJB, but it certainly won't excite me. He'll give you a chance to win....but that's about as good as it gets.

Jo-Jo Reyes is...wait...did I just say Jo-Jo??? I thought this was JoJo..

Whoa....the Bucs just hit the jackpot...

Yeah I know Jo-Jo has been around for a long time. I probably shouldn't be amused by his name after all these years, but yep, I still am. Anyway, Jo-Jo is nothing but a little more pitching depth. He does not excite me whatsoever. But she does. Hmmmm.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Burnett Breaks Eye????


AJ Burnett broke his orbital bone during a F'ING BUNTING DRILL yesterday. Yes...that's right, HE BUNTED THE BALL INTO HIS EYE!


Video courtesy of

So what now??? James Harrison was out for a month with his orbital bone fracture this past NFL season. I'm not medical expert, but I would guess it won't take Burnett a month to get back. Burnett isn't going to have to collide with other gigantic men on a football field, he just has to pitch. So we'll see how this little incident pans out.

I guess that's what you get for playing in the AL for most of your career. They better put Bedard in hockey pads if he is going to partake in these bunting drills, a broken orbital bone might derail Bedard's entire year.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Ryan Braun

So I wanted to wait until we had all..or nearly all of the information on this case before I went ahead and did a blog post.

Braun will not be serving a fifty game suspension. Apparently, the person who was supposed to deliver the sample kept it in his fridge, and may or may not have tampered with it.

I'm not really sure what to make of this. Some guy keeps a sample for a while and we assume he tampered with it? That's what we're doing by letting Braun off scot-free. Why was it assumed that it was tampered with? Is the man that had this sample not a trusted professional? Shouldn't he be fired for tampering with a sample? What would his motives be for risking his career to derail Braun's?

Who knows. Braun will no doubt have to live with these allegations for the rest of his career, whether they are actually legitimate or not. If Braun is innocent, I feel bad that he has had to deal with this. If not...boy did he luck out.

The decision affects the NL Central in a big way; Milwaukee is back among the favorites in the division. The Pirates have a slight advantage however: they wouldn't have even played the Brewers before Braun's suspension ended anyway.

The Pirates first spring training game is less than a week away. The Pirates first televised spring training matchup will be on March 10th on Root Sports.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Frank....Say it Ain't So

Pirates President Frank Coonelly was arrested on December 22nd for drunk driving. The article from TribLive released today also states that Coonelly was driving on the wrong side of the road, with a BAC at least twice that of the legal limit.

Really Frank? Really?????

I fail to understand why we are just hearing about this today, February 23rd, more than two months after the incident actually happened. Spring training has just gotten underway. This is a time of celebration; a time to look forward to what the new baseball season might bring us.

And now this??

Coonelly won't get a break from Pirates fans. Take a look across the internet, this guy is already being torn apart. It's safe to say that Coonelly wasn't the most popular member of the Pirates' organization previous to this incident; now he'll surely get no breaks. It looks like he will keep his job however, Nutting still believes in his character.

This is an upsetting, untimely (not that there is really ever a great time to say "hey...I got behind the wheel wasted") incident. I wish Frank and his family the best. It can't be easy to explain to your kids why you decided to hop behind a wheel and put lives at risk. As for the Pirates, let's ignore this and prepare for the upcoming season.

Monday, February 20, 2012

AJ Burnett on 93.7

AJ Burnett was on 93.7 The Fan early this morning in what I believe was his first interview after being traded to the Pirates. I could be wrong on that, don't spread that quote anywhere.

A couple interesting things about the interview this morning...

-Burnett acknowledged the fact that he no longer has the high 90s velocity that he once did, however, he claims that he believes he has a bit more gas than he showed with the Yankees last year. Was there perhaps an injury that we didn't know about? Was he just completely off his game last year? Who knows. Take that for what you  will.

-Burnett did seem genuinely interested in the city of Pittsburgh.'s a cliche around here to believe that when these big athletes arrive, but he dove right into the media coverage today. He didn't have to call in to The Fan this morning at 7 AM but he did.

-He was also adamant with another point. He wanted to prove people wrong. He wants to prove the Yankees wrong, all of those people who said things like "trade him for a bag of balls." Burnett did mention that that wasn't the only motivation he had this upcoming season. He felt the Pirates had a great showing last year, and he would love to be the missing puzzle piece that puts them over the top and into the postseason.

-Burnett is probably going to continue his "pie in the face" tradition. Don't be surprised if he is the one delivering the shaving cream after a walk-off win.

Now I know I'm looking into a brief interview pretty deeply here. Burnett is a tough intelligent guy, and I think he is going to fit in real nicely into this clubhouse. First and foremost though, he needs to perform on the field. I think he'll do that just fine.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

And so it Begins...

And thus begins a new chapter in the book of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The book has had 19 bad chapters in a row. If it really was a book, you wouldn't be reading it anymore. You would have sold it to the corner bookstore about 16 years ago, and it would have been sitting on a shelf in their backroom collecting dust ever since.

Hurdle addressing the team before their first collective workout 

The Pirates are looking to avoid two decades of losing. There are new faces in the clubhouse this year, but aren't there always? Why should we even be excited about the upcoming season? While the guys are just getting their feet wet in Bradenton, here are a few bold predictions for the upcoming Pirates season. Yeah...I put the word bold in bold. 

1. Gerrit Cole makes his professional debut. 

Cole has a huge, durable frame. Pitching at the college level should help him to fly through the system quicker than someone like Jameson Taillon. If the Bucs need pitching help in July/August, don't be completely shocked if Cole shows up at PNC Park. If he doesn't, no need to worry, I can't imagine him taking any longer than two years to get here. 

2. AJ Burnett drops an ERA under 4

In my AJ Burnett blog post last Wednesday, I discussed several reasons as to why I felt Burnett would have a successful stint with the Pirates. As of today, Burnett passed his physical and the trade was passed by the league. Burnett is will be 35 years of age heading into the 2012 season and with a declining fastball, he isn't what he used to be.

That doesn't mean he can't be a great pitcher in the NL Central, especially in PNC Park. Ray Searage has already said Burnett will be the ace of the rotation if it's purely up to him, so look for the ace of the Pirates' rotation to have a solid year.

3. Starling Marte will make his case for a starting outfield job

Marte will start the season in AAA, just a phone call away from the big leagues if he lights it up or the Pirates need some outfield help. Marte might already be the second best outfielder in the organization. Marte had a career season while making the jump to AA Altoona last season, putting up a .332 batting average, .870 OPS, and blasting 12 balls out of the ballpark. 

Oh what's that you say? 12 homeruns isn't very impressive? Well during his previous four years of baseball in the Pirates organization, Marte hit only 15 total homeruns. 15 homeruns in four years, then 12 homeruns in one year? It looks like Marte has developed some power, and there might even be some more waiting to be unleashed. 

4. The Pirates will lose 90 games

I know, you were hoping I would predict a winning season. I'm not that bold. Heh.

My fourth and final prediction is for the Bucs to drop 90 contests. All things equal in 2011, the Pirates are not nearly as good of a baseball team as they were in the first half, and they simply aren't as bad of a team as they were in the second half.

Things will average out this year and the Pirates will win roughly 72 games. 

I hope I'm wrong, but the best bet to see fireworks at PNC Park this year will still be on Fridays.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Burnett Update 2/17

Update 1:23 EST: The Pirates and Yankees have agreed to a deal sending AJ Burnett to Pittsburgh. The Pirates will send two low level minor leaguers, whom apparently are still being debated on. Either way, they will be prospects that aren't considered to be much. The Yankees will send $20MM to the Pirates.


BAM! Ok well it's not final yet.

Buster Olney tweets that the Bucs and Yanks hope to take a proposal to the commissioner's office today. That seems to mean that the negotiating is done. As to how much money the Bucs will pick up and who they will part with, we'll find that out in the coming days. For now though, let's rejoice (or sulk, if you're a Burnett hater); the Pirates got a major league deal done.

No really. The Pirates just traded prospects and cash to the Yankees for an established major league ball player. Yes. Pirates to Yankees. Pirates -----> Yankees.

Look! I already have a picture of Burnett wearing a Pirates hat!!! Yes that's a real picture, don't ask me again.

So we'll continue the waiting game for the next day or so while the two clubs bring the proposal to Bum Selig. I'll be back here with more news when this thing goes official.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bucco Moments: July 8th, 2011

You remember. One game out of first place a week into July. The Brewers were losing to the Reds and the Cardinals were losing as well.

A riled up crowd looked on as Josh Harrison blooped a single to center off of Marmol to tie the game. Michael McKenry stepped to the plate.

Marmol wasted no time getting the count to 0-2. Marmol wouldn't waste a pitch after that, and McKenry just fought to stay alive. Then....

Here is the broadcast highlight (I was unable to embed it, unfortunately):

Gone. The Pirates took a three run lead. Hanrahan came in to shut down the Cubs. The Pirates moved into first place.

The Reds would proceed to blow the game in Milwaukee, so the Pirates would wake up in the morning back in second place. But for one night...Pirates fans could feel like they were cheering for a contender. A baseball team that hadn't let them down for the past 18 years. It was a special moment not only for the fans, but for Michael McKenry and the team.

Here's to more moments like this in 2012.

Burnett Update 2/16

Yesterday I tweeted that I was going to go live under a rock until something had finally happened with Burnett.

He's not on his way to Pirate City yet, but there have been some noteworthy developments as of today.

-Kevin Davidoff tweeted that the Yanks and Pirates have figured out the players who will go to New York if the Pirates pick up $13MM in salary. They will be "B-level prospects." In other words--no Yankees fans, you aren't getting Gerrit Cole back.

I can't imagine the Pirates would have discussed what players they were willing to give up for $13MM if they didn't plan on paying $13MM. That should be all it takes, so I can't imagine a deal not getting done here.

-Joel Sherman has been tweeting as well. He says that the Yankees have countered the $13MM offer with a sliding scale. The closer the Pirates get to eating $15MM of AJ's contract, the lesser prospects the Pirates will have to give up. Sherman also says it will be a big disappointment if AJ isn't traded before Sunday, he does not expect Burnett to be in Yankee training camp.

Bottomline: It looks like the two teams are making some serious progress here, and I haven't seen anything about a mystery team in a while. It's looking more and more like these teams are closing in on a deal, and though we have heard that for roughly a week now, it seems like they are making actual monetary progress. If I had to make a guess, I'd say a deal might go down late tonight or at some point tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

On to Greener Pastures

Jeff Salazar has been signed to a minor league contract with the Tampa Bay Rays. Reported yesterday, Salazar will receive and invitation to spring training

Sallzy hasn't played in the MLB since he put up an OPS of .197. In all fairness, he only had 26 plate appearances with the Bucs.

Salazar has a career .807 OPS in the minor leagues but just hasn't been able to put the pieces together at the major league level.

The Battlin' Bucco wishes good luck to Jeff during his stint in Tampa.

AJ Burnett

The Pirates in the market for a pitcher making $16.5MM a year??? Has Bob Nutting lost his.....

Anyway, yes, all signs are pointing to AJ Burnett heading to Pittsburgh. Reports are that the Pirates most recent negotiations have had them picking up anywhere between $10-15MM of Burnett's $33MM contract over the next two years.

The Pirates also apparently offered two "bleh" prospects to the Yankees along with some cash. Oops, not "bleh" prospects, they were "blah" prospects. My guess is that description of the Pirates' offered prospects made Neal Huntington very angry!!!

So why is spending anywhere from 10 to 15 million dollars on a 35 year old pitcher who has been awful over the course of the last two season a good idea? Here's why...

-Good stuff: Burnett's curveball still has some serious snap to it. His fastball may be declining, but it will still stay in the low 90s...Burnett isn't down to Wakefield velocity quite yet.

-AL East: If the Pirates played in the AL East, they would have lost 145 games last year. If the Pirates played in the AL East, Kevin Correia's ERA would have been 732.5 last year. If the Pirates played in the Al East....yeah you get the idea. The NL Central put two teams into the playoffs last year and won the World Series, but still may be one of the weakest divisions in baseball.

Yankee Stadium/PNC Park: Moving from the launching pad that is Yankee Stadium to the pitcher's haven that is PNC Park will bring good fortune to the 35 year old hurler. Pirates fans have argued that AJ Burnett has been worse on the road than he has at home during his time as a Yankee. My response to them? Look at my above argument. You expect Burnett to have better numbers in places like Fenway Park? I wouldn't.

Change of Scenery: Simple as that. Away from the bright lights of New York, Burnett can take comfort in knowing that there really isn't a whole lot of accountability in Pittsburgh. Yeah, the die hard fans get pretty angry...but the fact of the matter is when the Pirates tank, most folks in Pittsburgh favor the "Well, it was coming eventually" approach. While this isn't my best argument for why Burnett will be successful in Pittsburgh, it certainly should be considered.

Bottomline- Bring him in Neal. Give them $16MM if you have to. As it stands, the Pirates are slated to have the lowest payroll in the 2012 season. Fans were constantly told that there was room to expand the budget. Show us. Burnett could throw down a sub 4 ERA this year, at 8 million bucks that is a bargain. Of course he could suck....but let's not get all depressed before the season even begins.

The more money the Pirates send, the weaker the prospects will be. Give them the cash and keep the future, it's the perfect opportunity after being shrugged off by Roy Oswalt and losing out on Edwin Jackson.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Play Ball!!!

Wow, I've wanted to do this for a long time.

What's going on everyone. I'm a lifelong, die hard Pittsburgh Pirates fan. Other than that, I can't say that I have any special qualifications, talents, qualities, etc....

I'm a pretty damn boring guy. I'm currently a college student so I'm looking for some way to pass the time, but in a way that other people can enjoy. I'm going to blog about my favorite baseball team for the next few weeks, months, years, however long I might be here. We'll see how things go!

So before we get started, I want to thank all of you for tuning in, and thanks in advance to all of you who will tune in at some point in the future, but might. Go Bucs!