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!