Cardinals On Deck

The Pirates emerged from their nine game west coast trip with a 5-7 record; good for third place in the Central and a game better than I feared they would be after all the tough pitchers they’ve faced so far this year. This weekend, the first place (and Albert Pujols-less) Cardinals bring their 9-4 record to Pittsburgh for a three game set.

Pitching matchups:
Friday: Lance Lynn (2-0, 1.50 ERA) vs. Charlie Morton (0-0, 5.40 ERA)
Saturday: Jake Westbrook (2-0, 0.64 ERA) vs. Kevin Correia (1-0, 1.50 ERA)
Sunday: Kyle Lohse (2-0, 0.89 ERA) vs. Erik Bedard (0-3, 2.65 ERA)

Lance Berkman will miss the series with an injury and Jon Jay was recently injured as well. The real key for the Pirates will be, as always, trying to score some runs against pitchers who have been very effective this season. Hopefully a little home cooking will help.

Tonight’s lineup:
Alex Presley LF
Jose Tabata RF
Andrew McCutchen CF
Neil Walker 2B
Garrett Jones 1B
Rod Barajas C
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Clint Barmes SS
Charlie Morton P

I’d rather see Casey McGehee at 3B, but Pedro’s gotta play to get better I guess.

2012 Opening Day Roster with Trade Tree

The Pirates made their final roster moves yesterday, putting Chris Leroux, Charlie Morton and A.J. Burnett on the Disabled List and adding Juan Cruz to the 40-man roster. Here’s the to current roster for today’s 1:35 game vs. the Phillies.

LINEUP

LF Alex Presley
RF Jose Tabata
CF Andrew McCutchen
2B Neil Walker
1B Garrett Jones
C   Rod Barajas
3B Pedro Alvarez
SS Clint Barmes

BENCH

C Michael McKenry
IF Matt Hague
IF Josh Harrison
IF Casey McGehee
IF Yamaico Navarro
OF Nate McLouth

STARTING PITCHERS

Erik Bedard
Jeff Karstens
James McDonald
Kevin Correia

BULLPEN

Juan Cruz
Jason Grilli
Joel Hanrahan
Jared Hughes
Evan Meek
Chris Resop
Tony Watson

DISABLED LIST

A.J. Burnett (15 day)
Charlie Morton (15 day)
Gustavo Nunez (60 day)
Chris Leroux (60 day)

In honor of the best day of the year, I updated last year’s Whole Team Trade Tree to show how this current squad was built. (Click to embiggen.) Now play ball!

Spring Training 2012: Friday 3/23 McKechnie Field Recap

If you missed it, check out Part 1: Pirate City.

As I walked into McKechnie I got word that Pedro Alvarez was in the batting cage.

animated gif maker
Animated gif maker

This is five shots of five different swings I’ve put together in a gif. Pedro looked to be swinging well and the ball had a good sound coming off of his bat. The coach pitching to him was having him work on staying back. This was bout two hours before news broke that Alvarez has discomfort in his knee and will be held out for a few games. As you can see he’s not wearing a brace and I saw no sign of a limp. But as someone who has some knee issues of my own, I can say that certain movements trigger the pain more than others. It may be an issue where he can’t run or field as well as he needs to but swinging does no harm.

On to the game. Recap. Box Score. Pictures at the bottom.

Good: Charlie Morton was lights out. 4 IP, 2 H, 2 K. Mostly groundballs. I’ll have more on him below. Matt Hague continued to look strong in his bid to make the big league club both at bat (2 run HR) and in the field (nice pick of a throw in the dirt.) Jose Tabata went 3-4.

Up and Down: Casey McGehee booted one easy grounder but made a nice play later on one which was hit harder. No hits fell in for him but he hit the ball square each time. Rod Barajas went 0-3 but had a good throw to catch Georgia Tech alum Tony Plagman stealing.

Nearly Bad: Chris Leroux got Charlie Brown’d during his one inning. A line drive had him duck so fast his hat came off. Luckily he wasn’t hit or hurt and finished the inning without incident.

Just Bad: Daniel McCutchen was more unlucky than anything else. Most of the hits he gave up were soft ground balls that just eluded the defense. However, the grand slam was a no-doubter to centerfield.

After the game I was able to briefly speak with Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington. I asked him about Morton not being named to the rotation for the opening week in contrast with his stellar outing today, and if it was just a matter of getting him stretched out. I didn’t have a recorder so I’ll paraphrase in an attempt not to misquote Mr. Huntington.

  • The team is in a fortunate position in that the schedule allows them to “find out where he is” and take the time to make sure Charlie is healthy and ready to go without rushing him.
  • In a similar situation last year with James McDonald, James came back too quickly to start the year and ended up not performing well in April.
  • Asked if Charlie could be used the first time the 5th starter is needed on April 14, Huntington responded that it was “an option.”

Barring any new developments, my gut says to look for Charlie on the 14th. Many thanks to Mr. Huntington for his time and words.

Pictures:

Lineups

Morton doing long toss while Barajas stretches.

Clint Hurdle signs an autograph.

Just for Pat at WHYGAVS, a signed Andy Van Slyke ball that was up for auction.

Former Pirates' manager Jim Leyland.

Former Pirate Rafael Belliard took out the lineup card.

Sellout, full house.

Morton throws a warmup pitch.

The Sandbar on Anna Maria Island

Dinner was a nice piece of grouper with a baked potato and a Maker's and Coke. Oh, and this great view.

Tomorrow: Last day. Probably go to Pirate City and see if A.J. Burnett will be throwing his simulated game there.

Spring Training 2012: Thursday 3/22 Recap

The Pirates played a sloppy game and lost 8-6 to the Rays. Pirates Prospects has the down and dirty. MLB.com has the box score.

Good: Yamaico Navarro went 3-4 with a HR and 3 RBI and looked pretty good in the field. Nate McLouth and Alex Presley pulled off a nice double steal.

Up and Down: Rod Barajas hit a solo homer but was easily thrown out at second earlier in the game when he hit a high fly off the left field wall. Matt Hague was 1-1 after his pop-up to short was obscured by a flock of seagulls crossing from the right field grandstand to the left field grandstand.

Bad: Pedro Alvarez. Oh, Pedro. 0-3 with 2 strikeouts. He also had a foul ball go off his glove. It was a tough play, but it just looks like the confidence isn’t there.

After the game, Clint Hurdle names Erik Bedard as the opening day starter.

Some pics from today:

Lineups

Players warm up under a beautiful sky.

Karstens makes a face while warming up...

...to Rod Barajas

Cutch is good people.

Taking the field

Gearhard line: One beer, one Pepsi, one sausage.

Dinner at Old Hamburg Schnitzelhaus, featuring a wonderful Oktoberfest brew.

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