Meet the new Bucs

The Winter Meetings have been busy so far for the Pirates. There has been a lot of speculation on trades, but let’s stick to the confirmed deals:

SP Kevin Correia. 2 years, $8M
Correia has been a good starting pitcher since signing with San Diego two seasons ago. His ERA took a huge jump last year but his K/9 and BB/9 rates stay pretty consistent to the year before. I see him as Zach Duke’s replacement.

SP  Scott Olsen. 1 year, $1M UPDATE: $500k + up to $3M in incentives based on starts, plus a $4M team option for 2012
A lottery ticket. Olsen’s had his run ins with teammates and the law. He’s also had trouble staying healthy. It would surprise me if he pitched enough to make a difference.

OF Matt Diaz. 2 years, $4.25M
Lefty masher. Diaz should be a good platoon partner this year for either Garrett Jones, John Bowker or (should he still be on the team) Ryan Doumit.

New Friends

James McDonald had an impressive Pirates debut last night: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, and 8 K’s/ Exactly the sort of thing Neal Huntington had in mind when he acquired him. Garret Jones and Ronny Cedeno hit homeruns and Chris Resop pitched a scoreless ninth in his Pirates debut. Pirates won 5-1.

And I didn’t see a pitch of it.

The 2010 SABR convention is in town and I was out at dinner with Larry from Wezen-ball and his fantastic girlfriend. Larry presented earlier in the day about Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang’s lifetime baseball stats. Its worth a watch if you’ve ever read the comic.

I’m looking forward to seeing them again tonight at the Braves/Giants game along with whoever else is around from SABR. If you’re in town come on out and say hi!

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.

The rookies are coming

There was much hype around Stephen Strasburg’s debut last night and he pretty well lived up to it. Of much more interest to me as a Pirates fan are tonight’s debuts of Brad Lincoln and Jose “I’ll break your finger” Tabata. With Tabata in the lineup and the promotion and success of Neil Walker at second I feel that the Pirates are that much closer to fielding a big league caliber lineup every day.

Here’s my stab at what I expect tonight’s lineup to be:

LF Jose Tabata
2B Neil Walker
CF Andrew McCutchen
1B Garrett Jones
RF Lastings Milledge
3B Andy LaRoche
C Jason Jaramillo
SS Ronny Cedeno
P Brad Lincoln

No too shabby. When Ryan Doumit is recovered from his concussion he should slot in at #5 moving down Milledge and LaRoche. Some more shuffling will have to happen when Steve Pearce is activated from the DL, but the real fun will start when Pedro Alvarez is called up. Expect major position changes or a trade then.

LINKS: In the meantime, there are tons of articles around the web today that sum up all of the possibilities better than I could.

Bucs Dugout

Bucco Fans

Raise the Jolly Roger

WHYGAVS

North Side Notch

Rocco DeMarro’s Unnamed Blog

Pirates.MLB.com

Baseball Prospectus (may require subscription)

Post-Gazette

Trib Bucco Blog

Hardball Talk

Rotographs

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