March 2009

We tied the AL Champs!

Well nothing to be too proud of, didn’t get the W but still a solid performance. I was digging the lineup today…

  1. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  2. Jose Tabata (LF)
  3. Adam LaRoche (1B)
  4. Craig Monroe (RF)
  5. Steve Pearce (1B)
  6. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  7. Brian Bixler (SS)
  8. Luis Cruz (2B)
  9. Jason Jaramillo (C)

Talk about a glimpse of the future. Cutch, Tabata, Pearce, An. LaRoche, Jaramillo.

All guys that could/will be starters by next season.

Of course I always like to see Monroe out there. Getting a position spot in the field is something new to him this spring. It was good to see him out there getting used to the grass and running down balls. I’m sticking to my guns and saying he will be a starter come opening day.  

Yanks too much for Bucs

Well ya can’t win ‘em all. Even though this ST game meant relatively nothing, (none of them do do they?) it was a hard fought game that ended up in the wrong team’s favor. New York took this one 13-10.

Of course I hate the Yankees, who doesn’t. It’s too bad we only play them once in a blue moon, so “burghers like me have to revel in the spring training glory to get a shot at the Bronx Bombers.

Quite the pleasant surprise was starting pitcher Ross Ohlendorf. Ohlendorf provided 4 strong innings on the mound, not allowing a single run. Ohlie needed this outing to prove he is worthy of a rotation spot. He has a lot of competition in his way but he definitely carried his wait in a solid start, especially against the Yankees.

After meeting Ross  at Pirate fest in January  I could tell he wants to be a part of this club. His personality is not very dynamic as he is very soft spoken. He is still new to the franchise and it will take some time to gel in with the core.

What killed me the most was the 5 runs given up by Craig Hansen. Hansen has been great this spring allowing minimal  hits and runs. To see him get shelled like that worries me. Hopefully his success in the first handful of games was not a fluke.

At the plate the Bucs held their own. Nyjer, who has has a less than mediocre spring thus far went off with a solo jack. Doumit also rose to the occasion with a home run of his own.

It’s always phenomenal to put up 10 runs against a big league club. It was our pitching that took us out of the game today. History tends to repeat itself and if the pitching staff is as atrocious as last year and today, we’re in for a long one.

Monroe does it again

craig.jpg

It looks like competition really does bring out the best in people. Craig Monroe belted 3…count ‘em THREE home runs in todays game against the Twins.

Monroe comes in just fighting for a spot on the 25 man roster. If today’s performance doesn’t say anything I don’t know what will.

The man knows how to be an everyday player. At 32 he’s surely got a few more years left in him, he just needs a fair chance.

Yes it is just spring training but this is where it starts. Monroe has been getting quality at bats and sees his name in the lineup a good amount of times. The experience and test runs will only help the vet get his appropriate trial.

While it seems that he has earned his own and he has garnered a spot on the team, his next goal is to crack the starting lineup come April 6th.

He told pirates.com’s Jennifer Langosch after the game that he won’t jump the gun.

“I’m not going to get ahead of myself,” Monroe said. “I’m going to
study the course and keep doing work with [hitting coach] Donnie Long.
If I can keep working like that and keep seeing the results, then I’ll
be pretty excited about what happens.”

It’s good to see he’s still got a level ahead and knows his spot. It looks like I’m the one who really wants this guy to succeed. Go get ‘em  Craig. The Pittsburgh Peas supports you. Keep it up!

 

Pirate cast-offs pace Netherlands

So whats the deal with the Netherlands? Or is it Nederland? I though they were just the dutch! Whatever their story is this team has captivated not only their nation, but the world. The came through in the clutch at the right time. It was great to see them send the DR home packin’. The orange and black unis look great on TV and great in their winning triumphs.

It was great to see a pair of ex-Pirates step up and succeed. Former prospect Yurendell De Caster drove in the game winning hit. Sausage-gate suspect Randall Simon provided veteran leadership for the relatively unknown club.

Simon used this tourney as a job interview for a spot on a big league club. He’s been out of the MLB for a handful of years, mainly because of his physical demeanor and lack of a work eithic. His time in Pittsburgh was short but special. Simon provided pop at the plate and a big target over at first.

For many year in the early 2000′s I believed de Caster had a great future in this franchise. He looked good in the field and could hold his own at the plate.  After his release from the Pirates he has bounced around the minors not quite finding a home. After his performance in the WBC he has shown that he still can play at the big time level.

It will be interesting to see if eithe rof these guys are picked up by a club by the end of spring. Until then I wish them and all their Netherland (Nederland/Dutch)  countrymen luck in the tournament.

Family man Snell honors “heritage” in WBC

Ian Snell has always been a favorite player of mine. Since his time in the minors, throwing a no-hitter in Indy, I’ve followed the young guns progress. After his breakout season in ’07 Snell-Mania has swept me off of my feet. Last season I went as far as to purchase a Snell jersey. Wearing it proudly to each game I love when 45 takes the mound.

This college kid is not the only one representing Snell. The 27 year old himself has been overjoyed at the opportunity presented to him through the World Baseball Classic.

http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/9310024/Snell-is-Puerto-Rican-in-a-special-way

snell.jpg

In this article by FOX sport’s Ken Rosenthal, Snell is described as a warm hearted man who strives off family pride. I admire Snell for his strong desire to win and criticisms of the Pittsburgh front office. He is also very admirable in his background story. He’s been very intriguing to me in the past. I’ve viewed him as a unique individual partly because I coul not for the life of me figure out his ethnicity. I commend Snell for his desire to pitch in the WBC and dedicate his accomplishments to his family.

As Puerto Rico moves on in the tournament I’m looking for Snell to provide more quality starts for the team. Hopefully, upon his return to Pittsburgh we will see the same desire, heart and integrity.

Moss out….Monroe in?

Brandon Moss has been quite the interesting story since his arrival in Pittsburgh last July. He was relatively unheard of but handed the starting job in rightfield. He had done a decent job (.246 8HRs 34 RBIS) for stepping in right away. He has had time to develop into what the Pirates hope will be a long lasting future at the helm in right.

A roadblock has arisen in the the middle of Mazeroski Way. Moss has been experiencing soreness in his right thumb. After seeing a specalist in Pittsburgh it has been announced that a mild sprain has occured.

While the injury is not too catastrophic, Moss will be setback. He has yet to clearly prove himself at this level and spring would have been a great time for him to show he truly belongs. While he was surely to make a spot on the team, the extra effort could not have hurt at all.

With the falling of Moss, the competition will step up. The outfield depth is strong with many players competing for the finals spots on the roster.

The one player I would love to come into his own is Craig Monroe. As I’ve stated in my previous entry, Monroe is a solid player and a favorite of mine. He provides great leadership and the most veteran prescence available on the team. He has used the spring to show last season in Minnesota was a fluke. (.202 8 HRs 29 RBIs). In Detroit a few years back
Monroe was a clutch player and looked upon to come through in big at bats. He thrived in that role, however when the Tigers looked to reload by signing Maglio Ordonez, Monroe was sent packing in a tear-jerker of a move. Monroe has not had the opportunity to be in the go-to situation as he was a few years back.

My dream situation would be a platoon between Monroe and Eric Hinske. Right field would be a great place to put these B-level MLB stars. The 1-2 punch of Monroe and Hinske would be a great test for the two seasoned vets and give Monroe the key at bats he needs in order to produce at his best.

PIRATES ROLL AGAIN

With the WBC looking to be exciting, Pirates baseball is catching the fire as well. On Sunday the Bucs rolled over NL Central Rival Houston 11-4. The bucco bats were out in full force as Freddy Sanchez, Garret Jones and Craig Monroe all hit home runs.

The offense of the Pirates as always been a key to the club. Last season the offense kept the team in games because of the horrid pitching staff. This year it looks to be alot of the same. Even though we lack the pop of J-Bay and X-man we still have some quality batters in our lineup. Freddy is going to step up and make up for his mediocre season last year.

Jones too is going to be a keeper in the next few years. If he takes some time to develop in he minors he will definately be able to fill in at first when LaRoche is sent packing in 2 years.

Monroe may be one of my favorite players on this team. I’ve followed him since he was a Tiger patrolling left field on those playoff teams. He is one of the most underrated players in the league. I hope he gets a fair shot on this team. He’s showing that he surely belongs and earns a clear spot. More than likely he will be on the bench but hopefully he’ll crack the starting lineup if a starter falters. Craig has a great attitude and is determined to make up for his shortcomings last season in Minnesota.

If the pitching staff can come together things are going to come together!…sooner rather than later.

Right into the thick of things

Who woulda thunk our Bucco’s would be in first place? Currently the Pirates are 6-1 in Grapefruit league play and sit right at the top of the standings. Pittsburgh has played good ball all spring long. Clutch hitting and timely pitching performance from the starters has been key early on this spring.

In yesterday’s game aginst the Twins, Andy LaRoche stepped up in the 5th inning with a 2 run shot that would be the dagger for Minnesota. In most games 2 runs would surely not be enough to get the dubs, but thanks to a superb start from Tom Gorzo and a nice outing from new face Chris Bootcheck the Buccos were able to cap off a solid win.

Today (3/5) the Pirates face an NL central rival in the Reds. The starting lineup features many familiar faces that will be penciled in on the opening day roster. However, four minor leaguers will get their shot at big league competition. 1B Garret Jones, C Robinson Diaz, 2B Shelby Ford and SS Brian Bixler. Although Bixler has gotten his shot many times last season he will give it another go this spring to redeem himself.

 

Jones and Diaz intrigue me. Not alot of fanfare has been pronounced for these two youngins. The Pirates are in need of a quality backup for Doumit, Diaz may just be the ticket. Jones has had a solid spring in his few chances. With Adam solidly at first and Steve Pearce gritting his teeth at the chance, Jones could look to give some competition at first. Ford has been deemed the 2nd baseman of the future and according to Baseball America he will be at the helm by ’11. Today all 4 players will bat at the end of teh lineup. It’ll be interesting to see how they’ll fare against Red’s starter Nick Masset…also gunning for his spot in the big show.

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