Fan profiles; Beam added

In the two years I’ve had this blog up you rarely heard me talk about players visiting the blog because the old regime pretty much put a clamp on their communicating with the fans. Blogs are seen as generally "negative" material and the club wanted the young players to keep their lives filled with "positive" thoughts.

But don’t think for a second they don’t check in on us.. they do.

No, they don’t fill our ears with clubhouse gossip or rumors. But they have expressed an interest those following the club and have asked me to consider profiling the fans more. Since the new front office seems to be a wee bit more liberal with the players, it’s probably time to start giving the players what they want..

You.. the fans.

Gather up your favorite picture and send it to me using the email link on the right sidebar along with a little blurp and I’ll post it here for the players/team to see.

Somewhere in Afghanistan are these two Pittsburgh Pirates fans but they can’t tell us where because they would have to kill us if we knew. Ok, just kidding.. Brian is on the right and Aaron is the future Hall of Famer on the left.

Brian has been following the Bucs close here over the last year and he recently asked this question:

"I have never seen Neil Walker play a game and haven’t been impressed by his stats since being drafted.  Is it fair to compare him to a young Todd Ziele, as you project a major league career for him?  The converted catcher who hits .280 with 20-25 hrs. If Ziele isn’t a good comparison, who do you suggest?"

Great question.

It’s pretty hard to project out Walker because of his wrist injury as he got going. I’m not sure we’ve really seen the real Walker yet.

If the Pirates get a Ziele out of Walker, they would be tickled to death I’d guess – solid OBP, a little more pop than league average, not really a base clogger, and an average defender or a tick above at third. Where I think Walker will shoot past Ziele is on his batting average on balls in play – I expect more contact from Walker and that should lead to higher runs created (RC27) earlier in his career.

That hasn’t happened yet and 2008 will be a defining year for him.

Curiously, Neal Huntington has had a few third basemen involved in trade rumors so you have to wonder what the club’s position is on him long-term. And, how has all this rumor talk played into Walker’s mental approach?

The Pirates signed T.J. Beam to a split contract Friday out of the Yankees organization.

He’s 27, a 10th rounder out of the 2003 draft, he throws a consistent low 90’s heater that he can touch the mid 90’s losing a lot of control with, his fastball is straight as an arrow to the plate so he’ll need to develop a stronger 2-seamer to get some more bite, his slider is said to be average as is his curve. He’ll also need to develop a better change or splitter to get left hand batters out because they rock him.

The Post-Gazette said he touches 97 with "dynamic" downward plane, whatever that is. Forget the 97 – he has rarely touched 97, and the few times I saw him hit anything above 95, it was over the dish, over the batter, and over the ump to the backstop. He can’t control heat. The film I’ve watched on him has him throwing low 90-93 and unable to really control that as well as he probably could. Plus, his slider is far from a plus pitch but with some work it could be one, I would guess.

This is another fodder pickup. He’s going to be hit hard while giving up a lot of hits, he’ll get his share of strikeouts, he’ll keep the ball around the plate if he doesn’t overthrow or lose his confidence which has been his problem, and his value is facing one or two right-hand batters then getting yanked.

Expect him to look good in Bradenton but if he breaks camp on the 25-man, we’re in trouble.

Padres signed Edmonds taking Huntington right out of their plans for Bay. I’m starting to wonder if teams are asking for Bay’s medicals and he’s just not passing their scrutiny.

The only things I’m hearing involving the Pirates right now is filling internships and casting positions. Not much is happening regarding trades, at least nothing being talked about.

For a team that is pretending they want to compete in 2008, they sure have some huge holes to fill.

Thank you to everyone who emailed about my grandfather. Everthing’s ok.. he just needed a little more help than is typical with the gals all out shopping.