Hey! I remembered to make a poll this week! I'm just trying to take the public temperature on Garrett Jones right now. As always, vote on the left and click the comments to tell us why you voted the way you did.
I wasn't going to say anything, but a few people have already pointed it out to me in the comments and otherwise and so I just wanted to quickly mention that sometime while I was eating my Cheerios this morning, WHYGAVS got its millionth visitor. I honestly can't think you all enough for helping me make this little college time waster in something much bigger. In true comic book fashion, I'll have to write a post this afternoon that places Aunt May in grave danger.
UPDATE: Instead of May Parker, how about a long FanHouse post about Dave Parker's Hall of Fame chances being in grave danger? I'm making it a point to post this here because I know there are some WHYGAVS readers that were able to watch Parker play and I'm curious what you guys think about the Parker vs. Rice comparison.
After Andrew McCutchen got caught stealing in the fifth, struck out swinging in seventh inning, and badly misplayed Shane Victorino's flyball to center into a go-ahead triple for the Phillies tonight, for the very first time this year I thought that maybe he was starting to get tired and look a little bit like a rookie. "It happens," I said to myself, "He's been better than any of us could've hoped for or imagined since his callup in May and he's got an incredibly bright future with this ballclub. If he tails off a bit here, he tails off and there's nothing wrong with that." Ten minutes later, he sat back on a Brad Lidge fastball that Lidge left up in the zone and over the plate, and he whacked it right on the nose and over the center field fence for a walk-off, two-run homer. And now I'm looking at a line that says he went 2-for-4 with that homer along with a walk and I take it all back.
Of course, as awesome as the 'Cutch walkoff was, it really shouldn't have happened. The Pirates stranded runners on third base in the first, second, and third innings and a runner on second in the fourth and seventh. They had multiple chances to press Joe Blanton for more runs and could only score when Ryan Doumit and Steve Pearce put the ball over the fence. It was only through great work by Ross Ohlendorf (six strikeouts in 6 1/3, five hits, and only Jimmy Rollins' two solo jacks on the board ... and if you're curious his fastball averaged 93.01 and topped out at 95.7 and was over 94 about seven times) and the bullpen (particularly Joel Hanrahan and Jesse Chavez, who both stranded inherited runners for Ohlendorf and Phil Dumatrait) that the Pirates carried at 3-2 lead into the ninth inning.
Of course, then Matt Capps pooped all over that lead, aided by misplays in the outfield by both 'Cutch and Milledge (who, to be fair, was aggresively pursuing a pop-up and very nearly made a spectacular catch) and it looked like the Pirates were headed for one of those soul-sucking losses that they've been so good at racking up over the last 17 years. I'll admit it; I switched the channel after Victorino's triple and I only flicked back for the bottom of the ninth when I couldn't find anything interesting to switch to and saw that Luis Cruz had singled to lead off the inning. As it happened, that was the right choice.
Almost immediately after the Pirates' game ended, my Extra Innings channel switched over to the Giants/D'Backs game and while Matt Cain warmed up, the outfield scoreboard was visible and I could see "PHI 4 PIT 6" and I broke into a goofy grin. Who says August baseball is meaningless?
It's weird that I'm excited to watch the Pirates play tonight, right? After not seeing them at all over the weekend, I'm honestly curious to see what they do against the Phillies this week. I'm not optimistic about the result, I'm just curious to see how these guys stack up against a good team after a week in which we beat up on some bad ones. Ross Ohlendorf and Joe Blanton are on the mound tonight, so this one might represent the Pirates' best chance to take a game in this series. And you know I'll have my eye on the radar gun to see what Ohlendorf's fastball is doing tonight.
I had a long post about minor league stats and how their value differs with context and what I thought were some interesting examples from the Pirates and then right as I was putting the finishing touches on it, I accidentally opened up my RSS reader in the same browser window and lost something like the last 800 words of it. You would think that after doing this approximately 30 times in the nine months since moving from Blogger (with their autosave feature) to Joomla (no autosave), that I would've learned my lesson by now (while writing it I thought at least three times, "Whoa, this is getting long, I need to save this"), but I have not. So instead, you're going to have to settle for me making sure that you all notice the tidbit from this story in the Post-Gazette about Troy Buckley resigning his post as minor league pitching czar in the Pirates' system.
Buckley's run was marked by his controling just about every facet of the minor league pitching staffs and it was pretty controversial, but it was getting decent results. Rudy Owens and Brad Lincoln had big breakouts this year, and Justin Wilson is in the process of turning things around at Lynchburg right now. That might not seem impressive, but given what passed for a pitching prospect during the Dave Littlefield administration, I don't think it's bad work.
It's particularly interesting that he's doing this right now, because the pitching depth of the Pirates has improved immeasurably in the past month with the additions of Tim Alderson, the signings of several draft picks, and several other trade acquisitions. After two years of trying to MacGuyver a pitching staff out of the minor league equivalent of some chewed bubblegum, a few rubber bands, and some paper clips, he's stepping down just as he was given some tools to work with. Maybe I'm reading into this too much, but it seems to me that the timing here is awfully curious.
I'm working on a post, but it won't be done until later. Until then, here are some fun links:
National Sports Rankings has an inexplicably captivating "no-hitter" game.
After reading Charlie's post this morning, I spent a decent chunk of the afternoon playing with the Minor League Equivalency calculator. Albert Pujols would hit somewhere between 90 and 100 home runs in a season if he played in the California League.
Also, Baseball Prospectus is having a meet-up at PNC Park before the September 5th game against the Cardinals. Will Carroll, John Perrotto, Rocco DeMaro, and these two dudes named Neal Huntington and Dan Fox will be making appearances. I won't be able to make it, but that shouldn't stop you from going. Check the link for information on price and how to reserve a ticket.
Sorry about the lack of posts this weekend. I had meant to write up gamethreads for Saturday and Sunday on Saturday afternoon before the wedding, but time sort of got away from me and suddenly I was staring at 12 different pieces of a tux on my bed wondering exactly what went where and how it was going to get there and suddenly, it was time to go. And then I got home tonight and just as I got ready to write the weekend recap post, the internet crapped out for about four hours. And now it's technically Monday and I haven't written a post since Friday.
Anyways, the Pirates continued to prove over the weekend that even with their revamped roster, they're not actually the worst baseball team in the history of time and space and really, they're probably not the worst baseball team in baseball right now. Even though dropping Sunday's game to Cincy puts us back in the cellar by a half game, the ugly 1-12 skid that immediately preceded this week feels like it was a loooong time ago.
Seeing the team break out the bats a little bit and rack up some wins against teams that aren't really that good sets up an interesting series with the Phillies this week. Can they play well against a good team?
I believe the following two things:
- No 16-year old can be as much of a "sure thing" as most people think Bryce Harper is. I'm sure he's a great prospect, but baseball doesn't have an equivalent to LeBron for a reason.
- Finishing in last place absolutely sucks.
Honestly, those two things are just personal beliefs of mine and I'm not trying to project them on anyone else. Just explaining where I'm at. But because of the both of those things, I would love to see a series win against the Reds this weekend. We're just a game and a half behind them for fifth place (yes!) and if we do the unthinkable and sweep a second team, we're out of last place.
I don't expect a sweep. I just want to see the team keep playing solid baseball. Well, "see" is a relative term since I'm in Maryland and won't see any of it, but you know what I mean. Tonight, Charlie Morton confronts his demons after his debacle last Friday against Micah Owings, who's fresh off the DL.
Sometimes, even someone like me has a day without much to say. I'm headed to the DC area for a wedding this weekend; there will be a Futilitywatch at FanHouse tomorrow and gamethreads here for sure. I may get another post in edgewise tomorrow afternoon. For now, links!
I thought this story by Perrotto about the pre-game instructional camp that's taking place at PNC with Varsho, Kerrigan, and Hill was very interesting. I can't think of a better group of guys for our young players to learn from. I hope they're all committed to sticking with Russell's staff long-term.
Actually, there's just not a lot going on. Instead, let's do something different. Please rank the following three players by the number of home runs you think they will hit in a Pirate uniform (first being the most, third being the least) and tell everyone why you put them in the order you did. I'll give you the three players in my order with a brief reasoning:
- Andy LaRoche
- Ronny Cedeno
- Garrett Jones