Thursday, July 28, 2011
We're shoring up our team deficiencies by signing a lanky, veteran corner; a fat guy who has sealed off his edge, exactly once in the last 365 days; and, you know, another pair of kickers.
Football is back, baby. Here's hoping that it'll stay faithfully married and the hell out of the way of baseball. At least until late September.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Detroit Tigers broadcaster Rod Allen made an unfunny and inappropriate attempt at a joke about Latinos during FOX Sports Detroit's telecast Thursday night... Would Allen, who is African-American, make a joke about a Tigers lineup that was mostly black requiring something stereotypical to eat? Would he stoop to make a watermelon joke?... hopefully his bosses heard him, will talk to him and tell him to cut it out.I'd say it's totally fair for someone at the network to pull the guy aside and say "WHAT!" Just like they did with Keith Hernandez's 'woman in the dugout' nonsense.
But at some point, isn't it a little ridiculous for the media to pretend that these guys are somehow the last throes of political incorrectness? I mean, wouldn't it be equally appropriate for FOX Sports Detroit to pull the Cleveland Indians' Chief Wahoo aside and say "WHAT!"
Bottom line: This latest dude made a dumb comment. He is no worse than the Tomahawk Chop, or the billion-dollar-plus industry that condones it.
Either use these finger-waggings as an opportunity to shame sports bigotry in general, or don't say anything at all, folks!
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Monday, July 18, 2011
The Pirates signed Lyle Overbay in the off-season hoping he would bring solid defense and a competent bat to the position. Neither has happened. He's hitting .241/.312/.365, giving him the worst on-base and slugging of his career. His walk rate is the 2nd lowest of his career. His defense has been uncharacteristically bad; his UZR is -6.0. Overbay's WAR is -0.5 according to Fangraphs and -0.3 according to Baseball-Reference. Simply put, first base has been a disaster. Overbay has played worse than a typical AAA call-up. Even though he has hit better lately, the Bucs need to look for upgrades. Two players I've heard mentioned most are Carlos Pena and Derrek Lee.
Pena is hitting .217/.330/.441. He would be an offensive upgrade (especially in terms of power) and a slight downgrade defensively. He's signed with the Cubs with a 1 yr, $10 million contract. The Pirates could probably acquire him for a mid or low level prospect assuming they're willing to take on the rest of the contract.
Lee is hitting .235/.292/.372 with Baltimore. He's still pretty good defensively, but he's in the twilight of his career and offers no offensive upgrade. His past offensive numbers look good, but I wouldn't expect him to suddenly start hitting again. The Pirates should not even think about trading for Lee.
The Bucs may be best served by looking internally. With Jose Tabata and Steve Pearce on the mend, the Pirates should look at a Garrett Jones/Steve Pearce platoon-type situation at 1st base. Jones struggles against lefties, but has hit righties (.255/.350/.444 this season and .276/.357/.483 for his career). Pearce hits lefties at a .303/.370./531 clip in his career (though only 165 plate appearances). Pearce has been mashing the ball during his AAA rehab, and these guys, together, could give the Bucs an offensive upgrade while not hurting team defense. The problem here is health: whenever Pearce puts together a few good weeks, he gets injured. If he can stay healthy, this is the best option going forward. Another option could be adding Pena and moving Pearce to 3rd. Speaking of which....
Third base has also been a huge hole for the Bucs this year. Pedro Alvarez started slowly then got injured. Ever since, the Pirates have mainly used guys like Brandon Wood, Josh Harrison, and Chase d'Arnaud. d'Arnaud might end up being the shortstop long term, but these guys are, at best, replacement level bats right now. Pirate 3rd basemen are hitting .228/.285/.338 this year. Ouch. The most talked about players on the market are Aramis Ramirez and Mark Reynolds.
Ramirez is the best player available for this position. He's hitting .300/.346/.504 for the year and is an adequate fielder. He's signed by the Cubs for $15 million through this year, with a $1 bonus if he's traded, and a club option for next year with a $2 million buyout. Oh yeah, he'd also have to waive a no-trade clause. If the Bucs could pick him up, they'd likely have to pay the rest of his salary this year, the bonus, and the buyout. The guess here is that 1) Ramirez won't waive the no-trade clause 2) The Cubs would demand too much in return 3) The Bucs aren't willing to pick up that much salary.
Mark Reynolds, currently with the Orioles, is basically the third base equivalent of Carlos Pena. He's hitting .223/.339/.478. Like Pena, he would provide some much needed power at a corner infield position, has a good walk rate, but strikes out a lot. Reynolds, however, is horrific in the field. His career UZR at 3rd base is -36.9. The Bucs need a hitter, but they cannot overlook defense. Their pitching staff is too defense dependent. His contract is $5 million this season, $7.5 million next, and a club option for 2013. Reynolds has a limited no-trade clause. The guess here is that some combination of the contract length, salary, and no-trade clause will foil any potential deal.
One guy I don't hear mentioned much is Casey Blake. Blake's hitting .243/.346/.386. His power numbers are down from his career norms, but he would be a significant upgrade over the current situation. Blake is signed for $5.25 million this year, with a team option for next year with a $1.25 million buyout. He's decent defensively at 3rd and can play first or outfield in a pinch. The Dodgers are in a financial mess and are looking to shed salary, so it should take nothing to get him. Plus, it's always fun to trade with Ned Colletti. Blake's not a world beater, but he could be an option at 3rd. Even if you play Pedro, he could be a good backup. Blake is currently on the 15 day DL (neck) but is expected to return this season. If his health checks out, the Bucs should at least make an inquiry. I think the Pirates should throw Pedro into the fray and let him play, but it would help to have a guy like Blake as insurance. Pearce could also see time at 3rd.
The emergence of Alex Presley makes outfield lesser of a priority. The Pirates are reportedly interested in adding Josh Willingham from the A's. I think the outfield should be set with Tabata, McCutchen, and Presley, but if the Pirates can add Willingham without giving up much, sure, it'd be nice to have another outfield option in case Tabata gets hurt again or Presley comes back down to Earth. He's signed for $6 million this year.
The bottom line here is that the Pirates can improve the team, but they're not going to land a top quality player (Carlos Beltran, etc.) without giving up the farm. The best options are picking up competent players and picking up their short-term contracts. Guys like Pena, Blake, and Willingham can help, but if the Pirates want to contend, or even finish above .500, most of the heavy lifting will be done by the guys already on the team.
Saturday, July 16, 2011
- I still don't think we've seen the real Jeff Karstens yet, but I don't care.
- Dejan agrees. Just take it in, and savor it. Shout it at the top of your lungs.
- The Pirates are the top headline several websites right now, including the Trib and MLB.com. The Post-Gazette currently deems a house covered in solar panels more newsworthy.
- Josh Harrison might have the quickest release of any third baseman in the game right now. I'd love to see comparative numbers on this.
- Alex Presley's OBP since his recall is .422. Small sample size, but man, that guy looks like a leadoff hitter.
- Andrew McCutchen's OBP is a legit .390. And with the Joses Bautista and Reyes injured, he currently has the highest WAR of any active position player in the game. Whether you're of the opinion that the league MVP should be the player most valuable to his team, or the best player overall, there is no logic by which this man is not the National League's most valuable player right now.
- Chase d'Arnaud started a 6-4-3 double play last night by flipping the ball backhanded to Neil Walker at second, and for a split second, I thought I saw Jack Wilson.
- Yes, the Astros are terrible, and the Pirates have some very tough games coming up after this series. But seriously ask yourself: Is Milwaukee really that much better than the Bucs? Is St. Louis?
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
I am not returning any of your valuable shit for tickets, handshakes, autographs, etc. I am selling it to the highest bidder.
Many sports fans will gladly return historic home run balls, some worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, presumably out of some combination of adoration and generosity, or possibly because they feel pressured to do so.
Once again, let me be clear to all history-making athletes. I will not give you a quarter-of-a-million dollar ball in exchange for a handshake, some luxury box seats, and a signed bat. I'm taking that ball you hit into my section down to Sotherby's, selling it to the highest bidder, and buying a house.
You, the record-setting athlete, can go fuck yourself.
Take for your consideration of the above-linked article about a 23 year-old moron returning the Jeter ball.
"It didn't cross my mind until they asked me what I wanted," he said. "The only thing I could think of was a few signed balls would be nice, and to meet him. It wasn't about the money. It was about a milestone and I wasn't going to take that away from him. Money's cool and all, but I'm only 23 years old. I have a lot of time to make that."
"Mr. Jeter deserved it," Lopez said. "It's all his."
Lopez, who sells cell phones for a living, already was receiving calls from friends and co-workers
.Essentially, a grown man who sells cell phones for a living gives away what amounts to a very nice house to another grown man who makes $15,000,000.00 this year. Because he thought it would be "nice" to get a few signed balls and meet him.
Sure, generosity in any form is rare, and should always be welcomed by society. Except when it involves a workingman giving away property that may equal six or seven years of salary to a professional athlete, for whom the property amounts to a trinket to be displayed in his second winter home, worth about three days of salary. Just because the workingman presumably had a poster of said athlete in his bedroom as a teenager.
In that rarest of cases, what appears as generosity to the naked eye is actually deep, thorough, stupidity. You would need to be a very dumb human being to give the ball away.
What a stupid, fucking idiot.
So, you are forewarned, Andrew McCutcheon. If you hit a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth of the World Series, after you called your shot for a boy dying of cancer, and you want the ball back to present it to that boy, and I catch it... well, fuck you both. Make the highest offer.
Sidney Crosby cures that same pediatric cancer at center ice of Pens-Flyers game, and then triumphantly whips his gloves into the crowd? Keep an eye out on eBay for that one, I'm paying off my car.
Derek Jeter smacks his 4,000th hit into the bleachers of PNC Park? Guess what? I don't give a shit about meeting you, or having a signed ball. Let's start the bidding at $2,000,000.00.
Now that you have been warned, athletes, you may proceed.
Post-Script: What a stupid, stupid, fucking idiot. Seriously, how many cell phones do you need to sell to earn $250,000.00??? 250,000? Yeah, you have plenty of time to make that money, assuming you plan to live to be 240 years old. Idiot.
Again highlighting the dangers of trying to catch a ball at a big league ballpark, a fan standing on a table above the pool deck, Keith Carmickle of suburban Kingman, fell over trying to catch a Prince Fielder homer. The fan was grabbed by his brother before going all the way over, where he could have fallen about 20 feet. Carmickle was dangling when he was pulled back up.
“I stepped up on the table, I missed the ball by 2 or 3 feet and went over,” he said. “We caught three balls and I told the guys I was going to go for the cycle. Dude, they were really holding onto me.”
Last week, a 39-year-old fan, Shannon Stone, died while trying to catch a ball thrown into the stands at a Rangers game in Arlington, Texas.
Carmickle’s brother grabbed his arms and Aaron Nelson of Chandler held his legs.
“He wasn’t going down, I was holding on,” Nelson said.
Carmickle said he wasn’t worried while he was dangling.
“I bench-press 500 pounds, and I wasn’t going down,” he said.
Gonzalez hit a ball that wound up in the swimming pool in right field— along with Mike Moon, a 26-year-old fan who caught the ball before falling into the water, where he was surrounded by bikini-clad women.
“I saw the ball, I didn’t want to spill my beer and I didn’t spill my beer,” he said. “I don’t really remember what happened. I think I leaned forward, caught the ball, then fell like that (leaning backward). It was pretty cool.”
Yeah, bro. It's pretty cool trying to not spill some beer while catching a home run ball while free falling and maybe being grabbed by your gym-rat brother as you're dangling over either a swimming pool of bikini babes or a precipice that just five nights ago killed a man, bro.
Monday, July 11, 2011
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Here's that story.
Fans can mosh and scuffle over balls with a frenzy never seen before, and all less than a week after one man lost his life chasing a not-so-gold ball.
Maybe I'm looking too hard into this one, but it seems to me like a dumb promotion considering the recent tragedy.
It's been a fairly well circulated rumor that for years now, Hines Ward has lived the life of a playboy who just happened to keep it out of the papers. Of course, I have no evidence to back that up, I'm just a rumor-mongering blogger. But dig this bold prediction: more revelations will follow, probably closer to the Wilt Chamberlain variety than the Big Ben type.
Friday, July 8, 2011
Baseball success in 2011 is an illusion.
You are a fanbase so thoroughly molested by front office false-promises, that it's painful to be told that you need to sell. But goddamnit, Pittsburgh, it's time to sell, sell, sell!
With the smallest budget possible at his disposal, Neal Huntington had no ability to to bid on pure hitters, swing-and-miss pitchers, or elite ballplayers in general. Instead, he pieced together a team of undervalued weaklings. The position players make the pitchers look good by playing great defense, and the pitchers return the favor by not issuing countless walks and homeruns... thus allowing weaklings with no offensive ability to almost keep pace with the competition in low scoring games.
That is an excellent model if you want to contend in a weak division and get swept in the first round (see: The Twins 2000-2010). It is also a great business ploy. Basically, Neal Huntington has made a lot of mediocre pitchers look awesome because of purely-defensive players behind them.
But... if Neal wants to win championships, he's going to be better off with elite pitchers who don't need amazing defense to succeed, along with excellent position players who are paid purely for their ability to create offense. In the last two years, he's secured four franchise arms in Taillon, Heredia, Cole and Allie. He also has their backstop for life, in Tony Sanchez. These five guys are the foundation for a swing-and-miss core that is defense independent.
As for pure hitters... we're totally lacking.
We happen to have the center fielder of the gods playing for us right now, as well as tabs on some very interesting tweeners on the corners. But as far as a true impact bat outside of Cutch: nothing.
This is why we sell.
Huntington has stocked the current roster with low-ceiling defenders who make Paul Maholm, Jeff Karstens and Kevin Correia look like Spahn, Drysdale and Gibson. I assure you, Pittsburgh: these men will be pretty mediocre in 2012, when they're pitching for the Rangers, Rays and Tigers, respectively (point of fact: the only thing bold about that prediction is that they'll be mediocre; I totally nailed the destinations).
Let's just dig a bit deeper:
Maholm: career BAbip .312, 2011 BAbip .256; ERA 3.08, FIP 3.81
Karstens: career BAbip .283, 2011 BAbip .242; ERA 2.55, FIP 4.66
Correia: career BAbip .299, 2011 BAbip .272; ERA 3.74, FIP 4.16
Those numbers tell the tale of small sample size luck, and guys who are benefiting to an unreasonable degree from their fielders.
We have (at least) three guys who are performing way better than they should who are about to crash back to mediocrity, we have (about) four guys to take their place in two years time, and we have no quality batters in the system. It is time to sell high, Pittsburgh!
For as fun as it would be to not win a championship this year, wouldn't it be so awesome to enjoy this winning-record feeling and not worry that it's a house of cards?
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Jaromir Jagr, age 7:
JAGR: Mother, I have always dreamed of having a sandwich for lunch with peanut butter on it. I would not ask for any others sandwich if you also put raspberry jelly on it. I will soon inform you what type of sandwich I want for lunch.
(MOTHER JAGR hands Jaromir PB&J sandwich she was making while he was speaking)
JAGR: No, I have decided I would like salami and mustard.
Jaromir Jagr, age 14
JAGR: Tereza, ever since primary school, I have wanted nothing more than to take you to junior promenade. You are the most beautiful girl in all of Czechoslovakia. I would labor for an entire year, without income, if you will take my offer.
TEREZA: Yes, Jaromir, I would love to join...
JAGR: I have decided to take Martin Straka to the junior promenade.
JAGR: If I hurt you, I apologize. I didn't mean it, but this is my life and I want to make the choice.
Jaromir Jagr, age 19
JAGR: Since I was little boy in Kladno, it has been my dream to own a Chevrolet Camaro. I would always say, "I do not care what Chevrolet Camaro costs in American dollars, I will pay that price gladly!" Chevrolet Camaro has always been in my heart.
CHEVY SALESMAN: OK, you've been going on like this for 5 days, and frankly, you are starting to scare away other paying customers. Could you please leave now?
JAGR: I have purchased Ford Mustang yesterday.
CHEVY SALESMAN: (exasperated)
JAGR: I hope you are not mad.
Jaromir Jagr, age NA (ruminating on his death bed)
JAGR: Our great Czech writer Milan Kundera once wrote, "We can never know what to want, because, living only one life, we can neither compare it with our previous lives nor perfect it in our lives to come."
TEARFUL FAMILY MEMBER: Yes, life confounds us to the end...
JAGR: I know exactly what I want, as I have always known what I wanted. I will be buried in Philadelphia. Unless you can find a cheaper plot elsewhere.
Sunday, July 3, 2011
In the American League:
C- Alex Avila
1B- Adrian Gonzalez
2B- Dustin Pedroia
3B- Alex Rodriguez
SS- Asdrubal Cabrera
OF- Jose Bautista
OF- Jacoby Ellsbury
OF- Curtis Granderson
In the National League:
C- Brian McCann
1B- Joey Votto
2B- Rickie Weeks
3B- Chase Headley
SS- Jose Reyes
OF- Matt Kemp
OF- Andrew McCutchen
OF- Ryan Braun
(Italics for guys who are not elected starters to this year's midsummer classic.)
More on this to come later. Too upset to be coherently angry.
Saturday, July 2, 2011
Matt: I was thinking about this as soon as the Pens withdrew their contract offer. How many hated athletes do we have in this town? Nobody really hates Barry Bonds. He left because the Pirates told him in advance they didn’t have the money to make him a competitive offer and weren’t even going to try to resign him. All Neil O’Donnell ever did was throw two bad interceptions. Hossa was a rent-a-player, and we knew from day one that there was never better than a 50-50 shot he would be back. Nobody cared enough about Derek Bell or Matt Morris to hate them. We don’t turn on our own.
The circumstances under which Jagr left Pittsburgh were tenuous at best. He’d been playing here since he was 18 years old. The franchise was coming apart at the seams because of Howard Baldwin’s financial mismanagement, and Jagr faced the near-impossible task of picking up where Lemieux had left off as the team leader. He wasn’t cut out for it. He had to move on, and intelligent fans recognized and respected that. Intelligent fans also didn’t boo him when he came back through town. This guy is still the second-best player in franchise history, and helped the team win two Stanley Cups.
If he actually meant what he said about being willing to play for Lemieux at the league minimum, or when he said through his agent that his “heart is in Pittsburgh,” he could have sealed all of this up on Tuesday. Or Wednesday. Or Thursday. Or Friday morning. This was, for all intents and purposes, a done deal. Everyone thought that, including the people calling the shots in the Pens’ front office. Jagr had an opportunity to close out his career on a positive note, mend all the fences and restore his reputation and legacy as a fan favorite in the town that adopted him when he was just a shy 18-year-old who didn’t speak the language. Instead, he scoffed at that opportunity — that offer of redemption. Then, he slapped Lemieux, his would-be redeemer, in the face by signing with the enemy. I never felt any ill will toward Jagr. Not when he requested a trade from Pittsburgh, not when he came back through town wearing other colors, and not as recently as yesterday. But now? After this? As far as I’m concerned, he’s on a list by himself. Jaromir, you are no longer welcome here.
Nils: Yes, partially because the pool of candidates is small, and partially because this just happened. Who do Pittsburghers like to hate? Barry Bonds, Kordell Stewart, Plaxico Burress, Santonio Holmes, Derek Bell, Marian Hossa? No one comes close to Jagr right now. He may have topped the list before this whole fiasco. The only way he could be dethroned is if Rashard Mendenhall signs with the Flyers.
Friday, July 1, 2011
- It’s not a big deal if you have never heard of today’s starting catcher.
- Lanny Frattare retired three years ago.
- No, there are two McCutchens, and yes they are brothers.
- No, neither LaRoche is playing major league baseball right now.
- Xavier Paul is not the same guy who you were pissed we traded to the Yankees.
- Milwaukee is in our division now.
- It is now customary to stand during the ninth inning instead of during the pierogi race.
- Potato Pete is no longer racing in the PNC Park Pierogi Circuit.
- Remember those trades you hated? Yeah, that’s why the Pirates have Joel Hanrahan, Jose Tabata, Charlie Morton, Jeff Karstens and Daniel McCutchen.
- Kevin McClatchy doesn’t live here anymore.
- The Pirate Parrot and Jalapeno Hannah are no longer an item.
- Kris Benson didn’t pan out, but that’s okay.
- Yes, that is the same reel of “Baseball Bloopers” they played when you were here in 1998.
- I’m sorry, Dock Ellis won’t be at this alumni autograph session.
- Despite what you think right now, a Ryan Doumit jersey would not be a wise investment.
- The people responsible for bringing in Derek Bell are gone now.
- A pre-game beer at Hi-Topps isn’t really feasible.
- Yeah, that is the same guy who sells beer at Consol.
- We’re unlikely to see one of those Indian pitchers in the big leagues this year.
- If you’re serious about this, you probably need to stop rooting for the Red Sox.