Justin Upton Trade Tree

The Diamondbacks finally completed a deal for Justin Upton, netting a five-player package from the Braves headlined by versatile Venezuelan Martin Prado. Also going to Atlanta is 3B Chris Johnson, who has the unenviable task of replacing future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones. Total assets used: Three draft picks and two amateur free agents to get a potential MVP left fielder and a platoon thirdbaseman.

Justin  Upton Braves

Arizona had for some reason soured on Justin Upton, with even the team owner talking shots at him for not being healthy. Still, they valued him highly enough that they held out for a pretty good deal. Prado may not be a power hitter, but he’s a very productive one. Randall Delgado replaces some of the young pitching the D-Backs have traded away this off-season. And when you consider that they got three other prospects too, there’s a chance for this to go very well for Arizona.

Justin  Upton Diamondbacks

Ex-Pirates in the Playoffs

Greetings. I’m back and will resume posting. The Pirates’ season went down in flames but there’s still a month of exciting baseball left to watch. For those of you who are interested, here’s a list of ex-Pirates who’s teams are playing in the postseason. I’ll update the stats after each round.

Braves (Lost the Wild Card game)
Eric Hinske DNP
Paul Maholm (not active for wild card game)
Lyle Overbay DNP
David Ross 3 for 4, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 HR


Nate McLouth 1 for 4, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 SB, SF

Rangers (Lost the Wild Card game)

Division Winners

Adam LaRoche
Sean Burnett
Mike Gonzalez
Tom Gorzelanny

Ryan Ludwick
Bronson Arroyo
Xavier Paul

Ryan Vogelsong
Javier Lopez
Xavier Nady


Brandon Moss

Octavio Dotel
Don Kelly

My picks for this postseason:
Nats over Cards, Reds over Giants, Orioles over Yankees, A’s over Tigers
Reds over Nats, A’s over O’s
A’s over Reds

Braves Wrap Up

Friday: 6-1 Loss at Atlanta. One bad inning from the bullpen. Box score.
Saturday: 4-2 Win at Atlanta. Score early and hang on late. Solid pitching. Box score.
Sunday: 4-3 Loss at Atlanta. Sloppy defense, 1 for 13 with RISP. Box score.
Monday: 9-3 Win at Atlanta. Finally, the bats break out. Box score.

Season Record: 10-12, 4th place in the NL Central

Splitting four games on the road versus a good team is a very acceptable result. Nice to see the bats come alive too.

Earlier I posted a little about Pedro Alvarez, but I want to reiterate that he was their best player this weekend. He looked loose and confident, which was a marked difference from how I saw him in March. Andrew McCutchen on the other hand looked to be pressing to get the big hit every time up. If both of those guys were hitting at the same time, watch out.

All four starters looked good. I watched James McDonald warm up in the bullpen and he was all over the place. When he started so shaky in the first and second it looked like it was going to be a long game. But as he sometimes does, he figured it out and shut the door on the Braves from that point on.

Combined Box

Pittsburgh   AB   R   H  RBI  BB  SO  LOB   AVG
McCutchen, A, CF 16 2 3 1 1 7 4 0.188
Walker, 2B 14 2 7 1 3 0 3 0.500
Alvarez, 3B 14 2 5 3 2 5 10 0.357
Tabata, RF 14 3 5 3 1 1 4 0.357
Presley, LF 13 2 4 1 1 4 1 0.308
Jones, G, 1B 12 0 2 2 0 5 2 0.167
Barmes, SS 11 0 0 0 0 3 9 0.000
McGehee, 1B 9 1 2 0 2 5 3 0.222
Barajas, C 8 2 2 0 3 2 4 0.250
Navarro, LF 4 2 2 3 0 0 3 0.500
McKenry, C 3 1 1 0 1 0 0 0.333
McDonald, J, P 3 0 0 0 1 1 2 0.000
Bedard, P 2 0 0 0 0 0 5 0.000
McLouth, PH 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0.000
Burnett, AJ, P 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.000
Correia, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.000
126 17 33 14 15 34 51 0.262

Doubles (11): Presley (4), Alvarez 3 (4), Walker 2 (2), McCutchen (6), Jones (3), Tabata 2 (3), McGehee (3)
HomeRuns (2): Alvarez (5), Navarro (1)

SB: McCutchen (5), Walker (1)
CS: Presley (3)

Errors: Tabata (1), McCutchen (1), Alvarez (3), Resop (1)
Double Plays: (Walker-McGehee), (Barmes-Walker-Jones)

Pittsburgh     IP    H    R   ER   BB   SO  HR    ERA
McDonald, J(W, 1-1) 7.7 7 3 3 2 10 1 3.52
Burnett, A.J. (L, 1-1) 6.0 6 2 2 3 8 0 3.00
Bedard (W, 1-4) 5.0 5 1 1 2 9 0 1.80
Correia (L, 1-1) 4.3 4 3 2 5 0 0 4.15
Meek 2.7 4 1 1 0 1 0 3.38
Resop(H, 2) 2.3 3 1 1 0 1 0 3.86
Lincoln 2.0 2 1 1 1 2 1 4.50
Grilli (H, 4) 1.0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0.00
Hanrahan (S, 4) 1.0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0.00
Cruz, J (H, 2) 1.0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Watson 1.0 1 3 3 2 0 0 27.00
34.0 33 15 14 15 36 2 3.71

Transaction: After Sunday’s game Evan Meek was optioned to AAA. Jared Hughes was called back up.

Up Next:
Three games in St. Louis (14-8, 1st place in NL Central). Earlier in the year the Cards took two of three from the Pirates. Expected Matchups:
Charlie Morton (1-1, 2.65 ERA) vs. Adam Wainwright (0-3, 7.32 ERA)
A.J. Burnett (1-1, 1.38 ERA) vs Lance Lynn (4-0, 1.33 ERA)
Erik Bedard (1-4, 2.48 ERA) vs. Jake Westbrook (3-1, 1.30 ERA)

Looking For The Split

The Pirates wrap up their series with the Braves tonight. The Bucs hope to split the four game set after yesterday’s error-riddled 4-3 loss.

Clint Hurdle is going with a getaway-day lineup against the lefty Mike Minor. Nate McLouth is the only position player who won’t get a start this series, which totally surprises me. First pitch at 7:10.

Jose Tabata RF
Josh Harrison SS
Andrew McCutchen CF
Casey McGehee 1B
Neil Walker 2B
Yamaico Navarro LF
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Rod Barajas C
James McDonald P

Michael Bourn CF
Martin Prado LF
Freddie Freeman 1B
Brian McCann C
Dan Uggla 2B
Chipper Jones 3B
Eric Hinske RF
Tyler Pastornicky SS
Mike Minor P

Evened Up

A brief phone post. Time is short for me this morning.

The Pirates held on for a great win against the Braves last night, 4-2. Erik Bedard struck out 9 in 5 innings. Pedro Alvarez had 2 doubles. Jason Grilli and Joel Hanrahan struck 5 in two innings and Nate McLouth overcame resounding boos to make a leaping catch against the wall for the last out. Same two teams go again today at 1:35.

Weekend Preview: The Braves

Sorry for not posting after Wednesday’s game 2. I needed to unplug for a bit but I’m back, refreshed and ready for a packed weekend.

For one inning, the bats finally came alive. Fortunately, that was enough. A five-spot in the fifth gave the Bucs all they would need to beat the Rockies, split the doubleheader and take the series. Props go to Garrett Jones and Pedro Alvarez for back-to-back homers. A big assist goes out to Rockies’ LF Carlos Gonzalez who twice lost balls in the sun before switching to a pair of flip-down shades.

Current record: 8-10, 4th place in NL Central, 3.5 games back

Up Next: Atlanta Braves, 12-7, 2nd place in NL East, 2 games back

I will be LIVE at all four games this series, since its my one chance to see the Pirates this season without travelling. If you’ll be there too then let me know and we can meet up. Last year all four games went long – two rain delays and two extra inning tilts – including the 19 inning Jerry Meals affair.

Probable Pitchers
Friday: RH Tommy Hanson (2-2, 24 IP, 23 K, 3.38 ERA, 1.21 WHIP)
vs. RH A.J. Burnett (1-0, 7 IP, 7 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.71 WHIP)

Saturday: RH Randall Delgado (2-1, 15.2 IP, 17 K, 5.74 ERA, 1.53 WHIP)
vs. LH Erik Bedard (0-4, 24 IP, 17 K, 2.63 ERA, 1.42 WHIP)

Sunday: RH Tim Hudson (2012 debut)
vs. RH Kevin Correia (1-0, 18 IP, 9 K, 2.00 ERA, 0.78 WHIP)

Monday: LH Mike Minor (2-1, 26.1 IP, 21 K, 3.42 ERA, 0.99 WHIP)
vs. RH James McDonald (0-1, 22.2 IP, 14 K, 2.78 ERA, 1.01 WHIP)

No lineup available yet, but here’s my guess:

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

There’s a decent chance that Nate McLouth starts two games this series. See you at the Park.

Update: The lineup is in and I was way off. I thought Clint Hurdle would go with the “normal” order due to yesterday’s off day. Actual Lineup:
Alex Presley LF
Clint Barmes SS
Andrew McCutchen CF
Garrett Jones RF
Neil Walker 2B
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Casey McGehee 1B
Rod Barajas C
A.J. Burnett P

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.