Tagged: Pirate Tidbits 2006

Pirate Tidbits

The word on the street is that Xavier Nady had a colonoscopy and other tests and was found to have a lingering infection causing his inflamed intestine. There did not seem to be any earmarks of Crohn’s. We’ll wait for the team’s official release to know for sure.

Assuming the infection part is correct, I’m going to guess he’ll be placed on an antibiotic regimen for 10 – 14 days and then reevaluated to see if the infection is gone. We’ll have to monitor this a bit closer because, the way it is starting to sound, Nady may not be 100% starting the season.

Maybe I need to start a Pirates Impode-O-Meter?

Several reports out today about Mark Cuban’s alleged interest in the Cubs. Word I got was that Mark laughed when he heard about it. ‘Nuff said.

Anybody else see anything a bit strange about Neil Walker’s mechanics in this photo: [link]? hehe

So the Pirates wailed Manatee Community College today getting to freshman Chad Fox for 6 runs and 5 hits in his 2 innings of work.

What is really sad about this line is that Fox is really a reliever and plays the infield. What is even sadder is that the Pirates had more strikeouts (3), and hit into as many double plays (2), as they had hits (2) the next six innings despite facing four eighteen year-old freshman middle relievers, a senior setup man, and a freshman closer [link].

But it is nice to know Hererra can blank 18 year old kids and that Neil Walker can hit freshman community college pitching.

Did Doumit really K?

Well, tomorrow Bradenton could see 30 mph wind gusts so I suppose we’ll start hearing how well our guys are knocking the ball out of the park [link].

And guess what, we’ll get to see Mike Gonzalez pitch an inning against us Friday if the game doesn’t get rained out.

Here’s the exchange between a Pirate fan asking a question to Baltimore Sun reporter Dan Connolly today [link]:

Jim, Fruitland: I am from Western Pennsylvania so I was raised a Pittsburgh Pirates fan. They still have a place in my heart. What can I expect from them this year?

Dan Connolly: More heartache. As you know Jim, no franchise has endured more consecutive losing seasons. There is hope, though. The only way in this sport to dig out of a hole without a booming free agent budget is to develop your own pitching, and the Bucs have done that with a promising young rotation (Zach Duke, Ian Snell, Paul Maholm, Tom Gorzelanny). And if those guys mature together, the Pirates have a shot in a division that was won by an 83-victory team last year. The offense lags, but they do have Jason Bay, Freddy Sanchez and newly acquired Adam LaRoche. The problem is, as Oriole fans can tell you, young pitching is an impossible commodity to gauge. Add in the fact that the Cubs and Brewers have gotten better, the Astros and Cardinals are solid and the Reds made strides last season, the best you can probably hope for is a fourth place finish in 2007. (emphasis added)

Best we can hope for?

Naw..

Long-time Pirate fans know to watch giveaway days in the minor league clubs as a barometer on how the Pirates front office might be thinking on player movement for the upcoming year.

The Altoona Curve announced their giveaway schedule today including Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen bobblehead doll giveaways on Saturday, April 21 and Friday, May 18, respectively [link].

Sorry Cutch – looks like Indy might have to wait until the second half of the season to see you. But Walker???

Man, somebody in Altoona HAS to grab me a McCutchen and Walker bobblehead. I’ll buy your family of four the tickets, hot dogs, and cokes – you send me the bobbleheads. Email me.

A Couple of Short Notes

I’m traveling today so just a couple of quick-hit notes from some blurbs I saw online.

The Post-Gazette had this little tidbit in their paper Saturday:

"Even though outfielder Jody Gerut still is not running, Littlefield said the Pirates’ doctors have told him Gerut should be able to start the season. Gerut had knee surgery in late May." [link]

This is how everything started last year.. the Pirates saying in spring training their doctor’s indicated he was fine to play, and Gerut shooting back that he wasn’t healthy enough. A month later, Gerut filed a grievance with the Player’s Association.

I suppose what we are starting to hear here is that Jody Gerut does not want to take a minor league rehab assignment because the Pirates can’t send him down if he isn’t healthy enough to play. This could go on for a month.

I’m getting the sneaky suspicion that Jody Gerut might prefer to be released. On the flip side, Dave Littlefield is probably wondering the same thing and is going to push Gerut’s buttons early enough this year to know by the end of spring training whether Gerut intends to play baseball or not.

This saga is far from over.. we’re just hearing the first cannon shots. At this point I’m going to reduce the probability of Gerut playing in Pittsburgh in 2007 from 80% to about 60%. If Gerut shoots back that he isn’t healthy enough to play, as I expect he will sometime over the next 30 days, that probability will fall to 20%.

I heard about Xavier Nady being tested for Crohn’s Monday. Our prayers are with him.

Pirate Tidbits

I suppose we need to start wondering if the players have been eating at Cody’s Original Roadhouse in Bradenton lately the way some of them are falling down with intestinal problems.

First Xavier Nady was hospitalized the day after hitting town, and now Andrew McCutchen left camp with gastritis [link].

You have to wonder if they are H. pylori infections from the wonderful food in parts of Bradenton, of if Dave Littlefield is cooking up too many Boston burgers?

Perhaps the front office should have passed my ‘wear a mask when hitting Florida’ warning around to the players before they showed up? [link]

If you missed David Price pitching against Pittsburgh today, you didn’t miss a whole lot. He was a lot less dominating than most folks thought he would be, other than raking up 10 strikeouts. Over 5.2 innings he allowed 3 earned runs on 5 hits and walked 2 against a much inferior team.

The box score is here: [link].

Will Carroll at Baseball Prospectus [link] has published his annual starting pitcher health reports and he yellow flagged Paul Maholm and Tom Gorzelanny, red flagged Ian Snell, and blue flagged Zach Duke. Blue meaning the least likely of all MLB pitcher’s to get injured. Chacon and Aramas weren’t listed but I would suspect both would have been rated as red flags, for all the obvious reasons.

Carroll is concerned about the amount of effort it takes Snell to throw a pitch, more than any specific knowledge of a health problem. That could go a long way in explaining why I have often said Snell is an 80 pitch pitcher [link].

As for Gorzelanny and Maholm having caution flags, he felt their mechanics and/or effort it takes to pitch may lead them to eventual problems down the road. Again, nothing specific – just caution flags.

Carroll’s work on health issues is well respected so we’ll have keep an eye on the group.

Mark Catanzareti of NJ predicts at his blog that the Pirates are going to lose 92 games this year [link]. Interestingly, he states that the Pirates are featuring an okay offense and an "unpolished" pitching staff that "need at least one more year of blossoming."

Not to be out done, PA’s "The Coach" predicts the Pirates will finish above .500 this year [link].

By Jeff Deeney at phawker.com:

“Today I saw…” is a series of nonfiction shorts based on my experiences as a caseworker serving formerly homeless families now living in North and West Philadelphia.

"Today I saw a young Latino boy in a Pittsburgh Pirates jacket, standing on the corner of A Street and Westmoreland. He had just enough dark down on his upper lip to qualify as a mustache. I wondered why he was standing there, in the midst of a deep freeze, when I saw a yellow school bus approach slowly.

There was another young boy in a gray hooded sweatshirt waving at him from across the street. The first boy kept looking up the block toward the bus, and I thought he was watching to see if he had enough time to talk with his friend before hopping on.

But when the boy in the gray hoodie crossed the street, he instead slapped a bill into the first boy’s outstretched hand, and received in exchange a glass vial that appeared from up the first boy’s coat sleeve. They pressed hands hard for a split second, before the second boy jogged away."

How sad.

Pirate Tidbits

I’m often asked why Humberto Cota is still on the roster and I continue to give the same answer: you’ll know why if Ronnie Paulino happens to go on the disabled list for any period of time. Cota isn’t around to be an offensive threat – he’s the old-school defensive catcher who will nail 30% or more runners on the bases and has decent game management skills.

Einar Diaz was a nice pickup for Dave Littlefield. Diaz has always had a very good contact rate at the plate but I don’t think he will be replacing Cota anytime soon.

To be quite honest, I don’t know why Littlefield keeps Ryan Doumit on the 25-man. He doesn’t seem to be able to field any position with even mediocre ability and that almost always spells ‘release’ in the National League.

Sorry guys – I’m sorry to say there will be no Hoot er’s Rooter’s bus available for Thursday night’s Pittsburgh Xplosion game against Albany. Instead, you have to settle for watching the Pirates front office jocks sweat up a storm in a pre-game exhibition match at 5 pm. (Why can’t we use the word hoot ers here??)

Self-proclaimed drinker Ted and his co-worker have set the line on how many saves Salomon Torres will get this year at 14.5. Ted has the over. Smart move Ted.

The 1412th pick in the 2002 MLB Amateur Draft predicts the Pirates will finish last in the division. His reasoning? "Pittsburgh still can’t pitch."

Yep – he actually signed his contract after being selected 1,412 as a pitcher.

‘Nuff said.

Many folks in Florida have that norovirus flu bug that’s been floating around the country so if you are heading down to Bradenton here’s a word of advice: wear a mask and gloves, wash your hands 300 times per day despite the gloves, and stay away from crowds. Seriously, pack some hand sanitizer.

Pirate Tidbits

Venezuela beat Puerto Rico 3-1 last night to hand the 2007 Caribbean Series title to the Dominican Republic.

Congratulations to Jose Castillo for his hustle as he walked and stole second last night and eventually came across the plate with what would be the winning run.

Overall this winter, Castillo has a .375 batting average and a 1.103 OPS in 64 at bats with runners scoring position, which reeks of clutchiness.

Baseball America gave us a little insight to 23-year-old Cuban defector Serguey Linares we signed to a minor league contract on Monday.

We already knew Linares was a risky signing for the Pirates because the Red Sox had signed him last year but walked away after he failed his physical. Some of the Internet message boards suggested he had a torn rotator cuff and Baseball America’s article today mentions it might have been partially torn.

Baseball America also states that in two seasons in the Cuban League, Linares went 7-10, had a 5.59 ERA with a 111-86 strikeout walk ratio in 163 innings. A couple of photos are available of him at Global Baseball’s Blog.

All the recent scouting reports I could find, including Baseball America’s report here [subscription required], says Linares has lost about 8 mph off his fastball after becoming injured in 2004 when he threw as high as 98 mph. That puts him in the 89 – 91 mph range now. He does not posses any other plus pitch, or average pitch for that matter, and his fastball is said to be straight as an arrow.

I suppose he could be an excellent one or two batter setup man for Altoona next year while the Pirates try to add some pitches on his resume and get a feel for his injury potential.

Pirate fan PNC316 has posted some great videos from PirateFest online at YouTube.

Are you a wild and crazy college student living in Bradenton, FL, who loves grass? If so, the Pirates are looking for a Turf Intern. Throw the bong away before you apply.

Pirate Tidbits

Jackwilsoninthebox_1 Congratulations to Jack Wilson for yet another highlight reel week. This time he made the Major League Baseball front page at CBS.

The article is entitled: "Ax grinders" and was written by Larry Dobrow, an online columnist with Maxim magazine. Dobrow lists Wilson atop his ‘good and pissed off’ list of eleven players who are most likely to enter spring training talking about others in an attempt to deflect any attention they might receive.

Dobrow said in the article:

"Still, you gotta respect the guy’s vim and vigor. The chip-on-the-shoulder thing, in fact, should prove one of the most endearing subplots of many a spring training camp."

I have emailed a couple of MLB reporters covering the Caribbean Series in an attempt to get a statement from Jose Castillo on Wilson’s latest cannon shots across Castillo’s bow, even if he only responds with just a graphic photo.

Guy Junker over at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review had yet another take on Wilson’s comments where he said: "Bravo!"

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette had a nice article about the Pirates desire to try and get Neil Walker some work at third base and in the outfield next year with the Altoona Curve.

I had two thoughts after reading the article —

One, is it too late for Neil Walker to start learning a new position, much less the hot corner or an outfield position?

Learning how to run routes in the outfield from balls put in play is no easy task, much less for a young man who has been sitting in one position receiving fairly straight fastballs most of his professional career. Most roving instructors say it takes a minimum of two – three years.

As for learning the hot corner, the fact most scouts rate Walker’s arm below average immediately comes to mind and I wonder if the Pirates just might be setting him up for failure like, say, the Rays did with B.J. Upton? You know the story, great with a bat but no position to play? Think Ryan Doumit.

Two, do the Pirates honestly believe Ronny Paulino is their catcher for the future? I’m not so sure.

Paulino did do an outstanding job coming out of the farm system last year and handling the Pirates pitching staff. But that outstanding work was still well below average defensively for a major league catcher. Obviously, if Paulino can continue to hit .300 the Pirates will want to keep him as their everyday catcher despite his defensive woes. If he can’t hit for average, then the Pirates are better off continuing to work with Walker behind the plate.

Considering Walker’s 6′ 2" size, and the lack of depth at 1B within the Pirates farm system, perhaps the Pirates would be better off having Walker learn to play first? After all, LaRoche will be a free agent after 2009, which means the Pirates will probably want to deal him after the 2008 season anyway, unless he surprises the entire planet and signs some of his free agent years away.

CSTV has a nice article on Josh Hamilton, cousin to Pittsburgh Pirates Pitching Coach John Shelby.

Tidbits

As you may know by now, MLB’s Pittsburgh Pirates beat reporter Ed Eagle has been assigned a new job in Toronto.

Today I was informed by David O’Brien of the Atlanta Constitution-Journal that the Pirates new MLB beat reporter will be a young lady from Atlanta who was an Intern for the Braves MLB beat reporter Mark Bowman last year. Both O’Brien and Bowman were very impressed with her work ethic and writing ability, which is a great start.

Well, at least she’ll know something about LaRoche.

Speaking of David O’Brien, if you didn’t read his latest article about Adam LaRoche you missed a great one. I noticed most of my fellow Pirate bloggers all honed in on LaRoche’s comment where he said: "They want to win, but I think nobody’s real sure how to do it."

That’s unfortunate because I believe they overlooked the haystack while picking out the needle.

O’Brien’s work painted a very clear picture to Pirate fans of LaRoche’s seriousness for the game, his sense of humor, and the genuineness of his sorrow after being forced to exit Atlanta. It was a very profound piece – very deep.

I also think some folks misunderstood LaRoche’s point.

Adam LaRoche grew up in the Braves organization and he probably doesn’t know that most of our younger players have seen nothing but success in the lower levels. But he does know the team is very young and they haven’t won together as a group in Pittsburgh.

In contrast, LaRoche has experienced winning in Atlanta. I didn’t get the feeling LaRoche’s comment was pointed at the Pirates management.

In any case, nice work Mr. O’Brien.

Live from the Carbolic Smoke Ball:

"THIS PAST WEEK [JACK] WILSON HAS CRITICIZED THE WORK ETHIC OF JOSE CASTILLO; TV TALK SHOW HOST LARRY KING; THE U.S. SUPREME COURT; RYAN SEACREAST; AND FIDEL CASTRO’S BROTHER RAUL"

Hilarious, as always.

Another PNC Field? Yep, and this one is a Yankees stadium in PA.

Bucco Blog’s Hickory Crawdads correspondent John Setzler was at the Crawdads annual Hot Stove Banquet and he had a chance to talk with Kent Tekulve. John has a nice photo of Tekulve and a little about the banquet at his "A Redneck with a Camera" blog. Great shot John.