Spring Training 2013: Thursday 3/21 Recap

Editor’s note: I can’t connect to the hotel wifi, so it looks like it will be phone posts all weekend. Please forgive the lack of links and poor formatting.

Jonathan Sanchez took the mound tonight looking to stake a claim to a spot in the rotation. 5 shutout innings with 4 Ks and only 3 baserunners should do it. Other than a two batters in the third, when he walked Lew Ford, then sent him to second on a wild pitch, Sanchez was in control the whole time. This wasn’t against minor leaguers either, as Baltimore had 7 regulars in the lineup.

Chris Leroux and Justin Wilson both solid in their relief stints.

The offense looked a lot like last year. Eight hits, but never more than one in an inning, and nine Ks. Starling Marte and Neil Walker both reached base twice. Travis Snider had two hits and two walks, plus made some tricky plays against the twilight sky.

On the bad side, Brad Hawpe had a hat trick and clearly disagreed with the umpire on both of his called strikeouts. Jose Tabata pinch hit for Hawpe in the ninth when the Pirates were trying to rally but missed a bunt sign and left pinch runner Alex Presley out to dry at second.

It would have been nice to win, but all-in-all there were a lot if positive things to take away from the game. I also got to meet Pat Lackey from Whygavs.com, who seemed to be having a good time. Which is really what it’s all about.

Some pictures:

Jonathan Sanchez warms up.

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Pedro Alvarez watches Andrew McCutchen at bat.

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Swing and a miss.

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A great night for baseball.

Heading South

Getting ready to head down to Bradenton for spring training this weekend. If you’ll be at the following games send me a tweet or email and we can try to meet up.

Thursday Orioles @ Sarasota
Friday   Rays    @ Bradenton
Saturday Red Sox @ Ft. Myers
Sunday   Orioles @ Bradenton

Look for pictures and thoughts to be posted all weekend, assuming I can figure out why my wireless card isn’t working or the hotel has an ethernet connection available.

McKechnie Field Renovations

It will be a few weeks before I’ll be down there to see for myself, but the Pirates put together a promo video about the new renovations to McKechnie Field.

Not a big fan of the new beige exterior instead of what used to be a clean white finish, but that’s a minor detail. The big news is the new flip-down seats, which will be a godsend to anyone that spent any time in the old molded plastic ones. It will be great to walk around the entire park as well.

Pirate Presidents

Happy President’s Day everyone. Here’s some light reading for your day off – a Pirate player who’s a name match for each one of our country’s Commander-in-Chiefs. I hope you’ll forgive some stretches where there wasn’t an exact match.

George Washington – U.L. Washington (SS)
John Adams – Babe Adams (P)
Thomas Jefferson – Jesse Jefferson (P)
James Madison – Art Madison (2B)
James Monroe – Craig Monroe (OF)
John Quincy Adams – Sparky Adams (2B)
Andrew Jackson – Grant Jackson (P)
Martin Van Buren – Andy Van Slyke (OF)
William Henry Harrison – Josh Harrison (3B)
John Tyler – Tyler Yates (P)
James Polk – Kevin Polcovich (SS)
Zachary Taylor – Carl Taylor (OF)
Millard Fillmore – Len Gilmore (P)
Franklin Pierce – Steve Pearce (1B)
James Buchanan – Steve Buechele (3B)
Abraham Lincoln – Brad Lincoln (P)
Andrew Johnson – Mark Johnson (1B)
Ulysses Grant – Mudcat Grant (P)
Rutherford Hayes – Charlie Hayes (3B)
James Garfield – Bill Garfield (P)
Chester Arthur – Dixie McArthur (P)
Grover Cleveland – Elmer Cleveland (3B)
Benjamin Harrison – Joe Harris (1B)
Grover Cleveland – Elmer Cleveland (3B)
William McKinley – Michael McKenry (C)
Theodore Roosevelt – David Ross (C)
William Taft – Jack Rafter (C)
Woodrow Wilson – Jack Wilson (SS)
Warren G. Harding – Hardie Henderson (P)
Calvin Coolidge – Duff Cooley (1B)
Herbert Hoover – Rich Sauveur (P)
Franklin Roosevelt – Rosie Rosebraugh (P)
Harry Truman – Shane Youman (P)
Dwight Eisenhower – Bill Howerton (OF)
John Kennedy – Brickyard Kennedy (P)
Lyndon Johnson – Bob Johnson (P)
Richard Nixon – Brian Bixler (SS)
Gerald Ford – Chance Sanford (3B)
Jimmy Carter – Steve Carter (OF)
Ronald Reagan – Bill Regan (2B)
George H W Bush – Bullet Joe Bush (P)
Bill Clinton – Clint Barmes (SS)
George W Bush – Guy Bush (P)
Barack Obama – Ken Oberkfell (2B)

If this was a 40 man roster, you be hard pressed to make a decent everyday lineup out of it.

Joel Hanrahan Trade Tree

Three weeks ago the Pirates re-signed reliever Jason Grilli to a two year contract. Many observers expected that move to signal the impending trade of closer Joel Hanrahan. Last Tuesday, the other shoe finally fell and Hanrahan was shipped to the Red Sox with IF Brock Holt, for RP Mark Melancon, OF/1B Jerry Sands, IF Ivan De Jesus and AA pitcher Stolmy Pimentel.

Hanrahan will be missed, but Melancon should be able to step into a late inning role fairly easily. The other three pieces have their pros and cons as well: Sands has big time power but doubts as to whther he can adjust to major league pitching. Pimentel has a big fastball but major control issues. De Jesus is similar to Holt – decent bat but stretched defensively at any position but 2B.

All in all, I like this trade for the Bucs. They were able to buy low on Melancon and sell high-ish on Hanrahan. It’s almost an even trade right there; the other pieces just add the potential for this be a huge deal in the Pirates’ favor.

Joel  Hanrahan Pirates

If you’re interested in the Red Sox side of the deal, I’ve updated the trade tree of their blockbuster deal with the Dodgers from this past season, adding a Mark Melancon branch.

Adrian Gonzalez Red Sox

 

Pirates Sign Francisco Liriano

Reports out of Minnesota say the Bucs have signed LHP Francisco Liriano to a 2 year/$14M deal. Liriano is expected to join the rotation as the #4 starter, creating a competition for the final spot between Jeff Locke and Kyle McPherson.

The 29 year old lefty has struck out an outstanding 9.1 batters per nine innings in his career and can be very effective when he limits his walks. Unfortunately, his control has been very erratic since tearing an elbow ligament during his fantastic rookie season.  Still, there’s some upside here and $7M a year is not bad considering what what the going rate for pitching has been this winter.

UPDATES: Multiple sources say that Liriano won’t take his physical until after the holidays, so this deal won’t be official for a while. Jon Heyman reports that the deal is actually for just under $13M, so hooray for saving a little cash.

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