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