Thursday Trade Tree – Todd Ritchie

This seemed very nice at first, but turned out to be a rebuilding trade that didn’t lead to any rebuilding. (click to embiggen)

The Bucs did will to sign Ritchie, get a good season from him and then spin him for young pitching depth. Wells looked to have promise early but never could take the next step.

I am of the opinion that if you can trade a reliever for an everyday player you should always do it (See Rincon, Ricardo for Giles, Brian). I still like the Chavez for Iwamura deal based on what was known at the time. Boy, did that turn out to be a clunker though.

Today’s tree was suggested by Patrick Byrne from Forever Rebuilding. Suggest a player that I use in a Trade Tree post and your name too could be read by literally tens of people!

Another sweep

Thanks to Vlad Guerrero’s walk-off single last night the Pirates were swept for the eighth time this season. Things looked good early when they went up 4-0 in the first, but as the game continued you could feel it slipping away. I’m out of anger at this point. The team is 25-47. They’ve won seven series and lost fifteen (with two pushes). After winning the season opening three-game home stand against the Dodgers they’ve lost or pushed the next five. The only winning road trip was a 3-2 set against Chicago and Philly. They are 7-2 against the Cubs, 2-1 vs. the Indians and 16-44 against everyone else. Is there any hope to find anywhere?

Season: Record: 25-47, Expected record: 20-52 (+5 games), Runs/game: 3.32
Opening Day to May 24: Record: 19-26, Expected: 12-33 (+7), Runs/game: 3.42
Since Walker recalled (May 25): Record: 6-21, Expected: 8-19 (-2), Runs/game: 3.15
Since Tabata recalled (Jun 9): Record: 2-12, Expected: 4-10(-2), Runs/game: 3.57
Since Alvarez recalled (Jun 16): Record: 2-6, Expected: 2-6 (even), Runs/game: 3.88

Call it amazing but the team scored more runs per game with Iwamura in the lineup than they have since Walker started playing every day. The offense has improved since Tabata and Pedro arrived, but the sample sizes are pretty small and even then not up to league average (4.42). Maybe I’ll revisit this in a month and see what’s changed.

In the mean time I’ll be cheering for the USA as they take on the hated Ghana-reans tomorrow. USA! USA! USA!

Bad Breaks

Not a good night for the Pirates or some of their top prospects.

Ross Ohlendorf, still searching for his first win or the season, was perfect through 10 outs, but then got knocked around the second time through the order as the Pirates lost 6-3. Ryan Church was inexplicably the DH while Lastings Milledge played RF. Garrett Jones extended his hit streak to twelve games with a first inning RBI single.

Zach Duke could go on the DL if he can’t make his scheduled side session today.

Last year’s #1 draft pick Tony Sanchez was hit in the face by a pitch and had his jaw broken in two places. Surgery will be required to set the bone. He was also hit in the head by a pitch earlier in the month and missed a week then. Best of luck to Tony on the journey back to solid food.

After conflicting reports on the severity of the injury earlier in the week, it does appear now that Class A infielder Brock Holt will miss the rest of the season with a sprained MCL and a torn meniscus.

Akinori Iwamura and cleared waivers and been optioned to AAA. He has said he will report on Friday.

Last night’s loss also guaranteed that the Pirates will have a losing record in interleague play this year. If memory serves they’ve only had a winning record twice. Still, it would be nice to take this series and the next.

Pedropalooza!

Pedro hits vs Zach Duke at Pirate City

The day has finally arrived – Pedro Alvarez has been called up to the Pirates. He’ll start at third base as I detailed in my previous post. I expect him to hit 5th between Jones and Doumit, but it wouldn’t surprise me for Russell to put him lower in the lineup as JR like to “ease guys in.”  (Note to JR: Not everyone needs to be eased in. Some guys will do better it you just throw them in the deep end and see if they can swim.) No word yet on who’ll be sent out to make room on the roster but the candidates include every player on the bench.

OTHER BITS: Lastings Milledge is getting squeezed for playing time since Jose Tabata was recalled last week. Not that I mind this, but its Ryan Church that he’s getting squeezed for and neither of them have been hitting lately. I can’t wait for Steve Pearce to get healthy and start playing first again so Garrett Jones can slide back to RF.

Tim at BUCCO FANS has a great redux on last year’s trade with Seattle. Well worth the read. I mentioned last week on Twitter that it is amazing how Ronny Cedeno is the best player to come out of this deal. If any of the three pitchers the Pirates received reaches the majors then it will be an even better trade.

But we can worry about all of that another day. Happy #Pedropalooza everyone!

UPDATE: To make room on the roster for Pedro, Akinori Iwamura was Designated for Assignment. The club has said they hope to trade him in the next 10 days. Good luck with that.

Pedro is batting 6th and playing 3rd base.

Pedro Alvarez news and lineup chaos.

Big news from last night’s post-game show with Rocco DeMaro: GM Neal Huntington confirmed that when Pedro Alvarez is called up he will play third base and Andy LaRoche will go to a bench/utility role. This is not entirely surprising as NH has always said that he didn’t want to devalue Pedro by moving him to another position unless he had to but this is the first confirmation I’ve heard or read.

I fully expect Alvarez to be recalled for the next home stand starting Tuesday.  The everyday lineup should then look like this:

Behold my awesome MS paint skills

Not too bad. One more power hitter at 1B/RF and it would look a lot better. Now given that lineup potential, why would John Russell do this tonight:

McCutchen CF
Walker 3B
Doumit 1B
Jones RF
Church DH
Milledge LF
Iwamura 2B
Cedeno SS
Jaramillo C

No Tabata? Church DHing? Doumit NOT DHing? Iwamura playing? Let’s tackle these individually.

Jose Tabata is a 21 and has been in the bigs for three days. Word from the Pirates (via Rocco) is that Tabata is just getting a day off. He’s played two games! More truthful would be saying “Justin Verlander is starting and we don’t think Jose’s ready to face someone that nasty.”

Ryan Church doesn’t need to be in the game at DH. He had one week last month where he was the only one who was hitting and now JR is in love with him. My guess is that he’s still regaining his strength after a nasty stomach flu and this is JR’s way to get his bat in there while taking it easy on him. But there’s no excuse for that when…

…You have your good bat/no glove catcher playing out of position at first base. If Doumit’s not going to catch he should be DHing. Barring that, Delwyn Young – who is as mobile as a road cone – who be a better choice at DH.

Finally there is Iwamura. I posted about his struggles last month and nothing improved after that. Luckily Walker was promoted and has hit well and been very athletic at second. I expect Aki is in because he’s more familiar with Verlander. Also, Andy LaRoche’s back has been a problem and he hasn’t hit at all lately either.

That’s the end of my lineup rant. If you’re still with me then thanks for reading. For all I know these guys could go hit six homeruns tonight and run away with the game. It isn’t likely but anything is possible in a single game.

Trust your eyes

I hope you all had a good extended weekend and spent the time happily with family and friends. I was able to squeeze in the Pirates/Braves game on Sunday between going camping for the first time in 25 years and regular Memorial Day and birthday celebrations yesterday. Since the game happened two days ago and details are readily available elsewhere, I’ll stick to my impressions of what I saw in the team.

  • Aki Iwamura is slow. From my vantage point his first step was nearly non-existent, meaning he had trouble getting to anything not hit within 6 feet on either side of where he sets up. Bucs Dugout has some video and discussion of pre-injury Aki vs. post-injury Aki here and here. Late in the game John Russell made a double switch, taking Iwamura out, sliding Neil Walker to 2B and bringing in Andy LaRoche. Yesterday the Pirates made the move official saying Walker would be the starting 2B for the foreseeable future. I applaud this decision heartily.
  • I was a little disappointed to see Delwyn Young starting, but just confused to see him in right field with Garrett Jones moving to left. I have yet to read any explanation for this anywhere online. DY made some nice diving catches, but I feel a more fleet-footed outfielder could have gotten under the batted balls earlier – turning them into routine plays.
  • Nice to see Jeff Clement hit a game-tying homer. He’s been hitting the ball better lately in limited opportunities. I was again confused (note the theme) why Russell would bring in Bobby Crosby to pinch-hit in the ninth. Clement had been the only offense so far in the game, hits better vs. lefties (Billy Wagner was pitching), and I’d bet has better bat speed than Crosby. It probably didn’t matter because Wagner was lights out but I say you should let Clement hit there. Give him a chance to face one of the best closers of the past fifteen years.
  • Paul Maholm had a good/bad outing. He was never overpowering and got into a lot of trouble (6 IP, 10 H, 3 BB, 5 K) but he fought through some very tough spots – including a bases loaded, no outs situation – and only gave up 2 runs. At the risk of slipping into further cliche’s, it was a gutty if unimpressive performance.
  • Joel Hanrahan pitched a dominant seventh. I was surprised to see him come back out to pitch the 8th and even more surprised the Russell let him pitch to Chipper Jones. Jones’ 2-RBI single was the result of the ball falling in the only open spot between Garrett Jones and Ronny Cedeno. The pitch itself was inside and had lots of movement breaking towards Chipper’s knees. Chipper did a good job fighting it off.
  • Jason Jaramillo caught instead of Ryan Doumit. If only there was someway to combine these two we’d have a heck of a catcher. Dewey’s bat was missed but it was nice seeing strong, on target throws to second and no passed balls.

The Pirate’s loss on Sunday meant being swept by the Braves so I’m probably happier having not gone to all three games.

The week ahead: Pittsburgh’s AAA affiliate the Indianapolis Indians are playing in nearby Gwinnett this week. Early plans have me going to games on Wednesday and Thursday. I’m looking forward to adding first hand glimpses of Pedro Alvarez, Brad Lincoln and Jose Tabata to the accounts above. As always you can follow me on Twitter for in game comments and the occasional picture.

Also, Georgia Tech was awarded the #8 national seed in the NCAA baseball tournament. They’ll be hosting regional games this weekend, starting Friday night at 7pm vs. Mercer. The winner will face the winner of Alabama and Elon. I plan on hitting a game on either Saturday or Sunday and, again, will post pictures and comments to twitter.

Weekend Wrapup, Odds and Ends

I had an awesome weekend.  First, I spent Friday night playing poker and hanging out with friends. Saturday evening we celebrated my Dad’s birthday with barbecue and baseball. Dad was happy to see Miami win, I was happy that Georgia Tech won the other two games of the series to move into second place in the ACC. Yes, I sang “Dead Skunk” with pride and the awesome girlfriend sang along with me. Sunday I made an impromptu trip to see some AAA ball. Nothing of note happened in the game and Braves’ top prospect 1B Freddie Freeman got the day off, but its still always great to sit out in the sun at a ballgame.

Following up on Friday’s post, Aki Iwamura now has a “sore hamstring.” He’s not expected to need to go on the DL, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him held out for a few days, then placed on the DL May 20 with Neil Walker being recalled. Delwyn Young is starting at 2B and batting leadoff tonight. Check my twitter account on the left, along with Extra Innings host Rocco DeMaro and Pittsburgh Lumber Co.’s Matt Bandi for a short discussion on lineup construction.

The Pirates came within 2 innings of sweeping the Cubs. They are currently 16-21 and in third place. The Cubs are a half game back in fourth, meaning that this season is the best shot I’ve had in years to win my annual bet with my friend Keith, noted Cubs fan and closet mime.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 285 other followers