April 2009

A Deeper Look Inside…Jason Jaramillo

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An offseason acquisition, nobody could imagine where Jason Jaramillo would be today. In an exchange for catchers the Pirates shipped Ronny Paulino to Philadelphia for JJ. Not really a questionable move, everybody assumed both players were of equal talent and equal potential. Who knew a change of scenery would make such an impact in such a little time. Nobody could have imagined Jason Jaramillo would be the most important signing of the offseason.

Jaramillo has always been a wildcard in his younger days. As the highest rated catcher in high school coming out of Racine, Wis, Jaramillo took a scholarship to play across the country at Oklahoma State. JJ led the Cowboys to a BIG 12 Title and an appearance in the College World Series.

jj35.jpgIf you’ve ever seen the movie “Summer Catch” with Jessica Biel and Freddy Prince Jr., Jason was Prince Jr.’s character of Ryan Dunne.

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A striking resemblance don’t ya think? Jaramillo played in the Cape Cod Summer League in 2004. The movie was based off the league.

With his time in the Phillies minor league system, Jaramillo was a work horse. He led the International League in games. His defensive stats are also impressive as he led the league in putouts and assists. Jaramillo has a strong arm and gives pitcher’s great control of the game. He settles down pitcher’s and has a way of communicating with battery mates that makes them comfortable.

At the plate, Jaramillo has a long track record of success. Always batting in the .290s Jaramillo has teh ability to get on base. While he lacks the power of becoming a long ball threat, JJ is the ideal National League catcher.

For what Jason has been able to do since Ryan Doumit landed on the DL is remarkable. In nine starts for the Buccos this year, he has hit safely in 7 of them. For a young guy making his major league debut, that is a phenomenal way to start your big league career. Jaramillo is currently batting .345 and has been hot in his time in the lineup. His ability to make an impact in dire situations.
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Wells Watch-Vol. 3

The Nationals keep plundering adn their bullpen is a major reason for the shortcomings.

However, last night was a different story.

Fromer Bucco Julian Tavarez set out for the save an nailed it. The Nats picked up their 5th win of the season winning 4-1 in Philly. Another former Bucco came in the game and held it for Washington.

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You guessed it, it was the Mad Kipper. Yeah, I suppose it doesn’t have the same ring as the Mad Capper, but the way Wells has been throwing I think worthy comparrisons can be drawn between the two.

In another inning of work on Wednesday Wells walked to Phillie batters but got out of a jam by retiring each batter and not giving up a a hit. Look at the determinination in those eyes. With Wells on the mound and you’re an opposing batter, God help you. WIth something to prove and gas still running in his tank, Kippy has been masterful for the Nats depleted bullpen. If he keep doing what he’s doing a call to the rotation is bound to happen sooner or later. Kip has 2 holds on the year, including one from last night. His 1.69 era is 2nd on the team behind yet another former Bucco, Joe Beimel. 

The Nats are just becoming a team of Pirate castoffs. WIth Tavarez, Beimel and Wells in the pen its no wonder why their pitching is underachieveing. The trio never quite lived up to expectations in the Burgh and now they’re giving fans in the Nations Capital something to moan about. Who knows, maybe they’ll turn things around. There is no where to go but up.

PHOTO CREDIT: http://www1.pictures.gi.zimbio.com/Colorado+Rockies+Photo+Day+1j57knSEd9vl.jpg

Miller Low Life

Meet Yovani Gallardo

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The ace pitcher of the Milwaukee Brewers. Gallardo has been a key component of the Milwaukee pitching staff for the last two years. He has been even more of a cornerstone now that Ben Sheets and CC Sabathia are no longer with the club. In Wednesday’s game Gallardo was just nasty. Picking up his third win of the year he went 8 full innings only giving up two hits to the Bucs.

On the other hand Ian Snell to the mound for Pittsburgh. 7 full innings, 5 hits and one earned run was Snell’s stat line for the night. Any pitcher would take those numbers, especially Snell. The one thing that was dicouraging for Snell was how the one run was given up.

Meet Yovani Gallardo

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 Yes this is the same Yovani. The same Yovani Brewers fans all know and love, Pirates fans, not so much. Not only did he embarass Bucco batters with his slew of pitches, he also embarasses Ian Snell. Gallardo jacked a 7th inning dinger over the left field fence. Not only did the pitcher belt the homerun, he also had the only RBI of the game. Thats right folks the Pirates lost this one 1-0. Hard to swallow indeed.

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Don’t worry Ian, it happens to the best of us.

It just stinks that this could have been a great confidence booster to not only Ian, but the rest of the club. We were swept by the Brew Crew, the first occurance that we’ve had to suffer through all year. The losing streak alos continued. The Pirates have now lost 18th straight against the Brewers. No doubt about it they are a good team. Their offense is stellar and their pitching is overachieveing. Right now both the Bucs and Brew Crew stand at 11-10 on the year, 2nd place in the NL Central. 

Pittsburgh finished their road trip 2-4. Not too bad considering it faced decent competition and historically the team lays an egg on roadstands early in the year. Returning to PNC Park this weekend, the Pirates hope to right their ship. With another NL Central opponent, the Reds, Pittsburgh will have the opportunity to catch up with the Cardinals for the Central lead. 

Photo Credit: espn.com. AP photos  

Featured Blog

Clemente_3000_Hit.jpgJust as the great Roberto Clemente did on the night of his 3,000 hit to the fans of Pittsburgh, I do the same to all of you. I tip my cap to my readers, commenters and the entire blogosphere community. It was a great honor to log onto the main page and see myself as the Featured Blog. It’s a cool feeling and I appreciate the recognition.

What can I say I have a lot of fun blogging. To follow my team is one thing but to put it in words and share it with baseball fans far and wide is a great experience. Every day I’m on here updating my own page while reading others. Its honestly where I come first when I am hungry for some MLB news. There’s nothing greater than the voice of the fans. From my time blogging on here I’ve seen three Pirate blogs as the Featured Blog. Kind of a testament to our loyalty and dedication dont ya think. 

As a journalism major this is something I want to be doing the rest of my life. Covering a sports team gives me a rush like I actually am part of the team. Doing so with the Pirates here and with the WVU baseball team is great experience and I love every minute of it. As a matter of fact I’m heading out the door very soon, scorebook and tape recorder in hand, for the West Virginia-Morehead State baseball game. Its a cloudy night here in Morgantown and the graying skies look ominous. I’m hoping they get this game in. It is a much needed break from the hardships of studying for finals. When I get back from the game I’ll write my postgame wrapups and tune into FSN Pittsburgh hopefully to find my Buccos beating the Brewers. Untill then thanks again mlblogs.com! LETS GO BUCS and LETS GOOOOOOO MOUNTAINEERS 

The Tale of the Pirate’s Pen

Last night’s loss was tough to swallow. It was a comeback wasted after Milwaukee destroyed the Buc’s bullpen torching the staff for 5 runs. Jeff Karstens began the game and lobbed 3 homerun balls to Ryan Braun, Rickie Weeks and Mike Cameron respectively. Jesse Chavez first relieved Karstens in the 6th and did a quality job. Chavez looked demanding and controlling getting batts to pop up. At the beginning of the year I questioned the move to make him a go-to-guy out of the pen, but he has since proved me wrong. Tyler Yates on the other hand has proved me right. I’ve never been a fan of the guy and he has given me no real reason to support him.

Yates has a record of 0- on the young season, the loss coming in last night’s game, and a dismal era of 9.95. In only 6.1 innings pitched he has walked 4 batters, given up 7 earned runs and has successfully made me cringe and sweat upon his appearances on the mound.

John Grabow was a surprise failure in yesterday’s game. Grabow was able to just retire one batter as he was just all over the place walking 2 batters and earning two runs.

The only key reliever was Evan Meek, throwing a full inning Meek struck out two batters. Meek deserves more of a tip of the cap from our organization. After beginning the year in Indy Meek has stepped in and done an unfathomable good job. Not allowing a run in two appearances and giving me confidence whenever he steps on the mound. It would pay great dividends to keep him up here, even when Craig Hansen returns from the DL. Yates should be the one sent down.

The bullpen of the Nationals has also been abysmal. Thats right it’s time for another installment of WELL’S WATCH.

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It was a tight game between the Nats and Philies last night, a 13-11 slugfest that was ultimately won by the Phils. With the score close and the Nats within striking distance Kipper was called on to keep Philly in check. Which he did masterfully. Wells went one strong inning and struck out two batters.

So far on the year Kip has appeared in four games and has only suffered one earned run. Three strikeouts in only 4 innings pitched, two hits in only four innings pitched and no homeruns in only 4 innings pitched. Hey in my book, thats solid. He’s been solid without a doubt and looks like he’s really coming around. The bullpen is definately the spot for him. Looks like we should have utilized him out of the pen, instead of throwing him in the starting role like a chicken with his head cut off. 

 

Bad News Brew Crew

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As nice as Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin may look, don’t be fooled. It is a death trap for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Make no doubt about it, I think it is a beautiful stadium. As much as I dislike retractable roofs, Miller Park makes me rethink that harsh assumption.

Last season the Bucs were 0-6 in the city of Sausages. For those playing at home, thats winless. Everyone remembers the walk-off grand slam by this guy…

braunx.jpg RYAN BRAUN. The date was September 25, 2008. WIth the Brewers within striking distance of a playoff spot, which they captured, a pivital games was played against the Pirates. In dramatic fashion Braun belted a pitch thrown by Jesse Chavez into the upper deck in Miller Park’s right field. The 450-foot blast gave the Brewers momentum into the postseason.

Hopefully, this year will be a different story. Reliever Jesse Chavez is performing well out of the Pirate pen and hopes to leave last year’s granny in the past. Chavez has an era of just over one and in eight innings pitched he has struck out four batters.

The pitching staff has a whole has been monumental for the Bucs. Jeff Karstens takes the hill in game one on Monday. He has an era of 3.60, while Joe Kerrigan and John Russel have followed Karstens pitch count closely they will need him to go deep into games to remain effective.

With the promotion of Evan Meek to replace the injured Craig Hansen the bullpen will also have to step up to keep the Bucs in games.

PHOTO CREDIT: dailytimes.com
                          usatoday.com
 

The Pitt Peas travels to the Land of Rock ‘n Roll

Just when you thought the Peas was just a Pittsburgh deal…

 

 

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A beautiful Saturday afternoon, but just one thing was missing. A baseball game. While the roomates along with a  group of West Virginia buds and myself played wiffle ball all day Friday, something just didn’t seem right. Since the Pirates weren’t in town, a three hour trek to the Buckeye State took place.

indians game 007.JPGMy buddy Jared has been chomping at the bit to make a game at The Prog this year. While he is a supporter of my Pirates, his role as Indians correspondent is much more appreciated.

It was a beautiful night in C-Land as we entered the outfield gates. Its much more spacious and alive than the outfield at PNC Park. The opening out to the wide green grass of the field is nearly breathtaking, at the very least its a cool site. The most unique thing was the photographer that approached us and asked for a group photo. It was like we were in Disney World in front of Cinderella Castle as he handed me a slip with instructions on how to purchase the cherished photo online. (Editors note: we did not purchase the $17 dollar keepsake.) 

The outfield wall led us to a cool little nook that made me quite jealous.
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Sort of a knock off of Monument Park in Yankee Stadium, its an Indians version of their own storied history. Two platforms of plaques honor the heritage of the Tribe and the history of Cleveland’s greatest baseball players. If Pittsburgh had something like this I could live there. Its a great way to honor the franchise and fans of all ages love it. 

Walking through the wide lanes of Progressive Field, also something lacking at PNC Park, I notcied this gem on the back of some guys jersey.
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“Its very bad to steal Jabu’s rum! Its very bad.”

A classic movie and a classic character. Pedro Cerrano was Clevelands Dominican slugger in the movie “Major League” A must see for baseball fans everywhere and my favorite part of the Cleveland Indians.

To honor another dynamic character from Major League the organization is giving out a “Wild Thing” Rick Vaughn bobblehead towards the end of the year. Fans are lining up for tickets already.

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 For the 23,167 in attendance the game was a downer as the Tribe were pounded by the Twins 7-1. No offensive production is bound to kill you, just as it did for the Tribe last night. The pitching of Twins starter Kevin Slowey was brilliant as he went 8 innings only giving up 4 hits and one earned run. Every fan in attedance recieved a Kerry Wood bobblehead upon entrance to the park, so that kept everyone somewhat cherry. The atmosphere and fan enthusiasm was very similair to PNC Park. The cheering level is the same, the attentiveness is the same and the people actually with butts in the seats are the same. The Tribe do have one thing going for them and thats the elite player. Its been Jason Bay for the Pirates in the last few years and now that hes gone its hard for the fan base to pick one player as THEIR guy. Its no secret who THAT guy is for Cleveland.

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I have a feeling that Melissa (the Clemson Girl) will be looking at this photo all night. Grady recieved the most cheers out of any other players. He is the shining star out in centerfield and the shining star in the hearts of teenage girls across the state of Ohio. His eyes may have been scalded by the limelight as he went hitless Saturday night. That scoreboad pic stayed the same the entire night at everyone of his at-bats. Another difference between the Prog and PNC, the variations in the scoreboard pics makes PNC Park unique and keeps the fans innovated. Although, nobody no girl can complain at looking at that sheepish grin.

Although the Tribe fell on Saturday, Cleveland fans have at least one thing going for them.

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They citizens of Cleveland are indeed witnesses. Lebron James is the spectacle of the city. Sorry Grady, Lebron is king of this town. Just look at that gargantuan billboard. Fans from far and wide will tell you Lebron is the resurgance of the city of C-Land.

With the Cavs on the run they are on look out Lakers, Cleveland very well could have quite the easy path to the NBA Finals.

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While here I am thinking Lebron will be the most peculiar thing I see around the stadium, I stand corrected by the Walgreens Foul Pole. Walgreens? On a Foul Paul? Odd in my book but without a doubt a good advertising spot. I can’t wait to see a ball flirting with the line but the quickly marked fould becuse of W intereferrence.

Although the city of Cleveland is starving for a relevant sports championship it is still a great sports city. I do not support any on their sports teams. As a Steeler fan it is my duty to dissrespect the Browns. I kinda lose respect for the Indians because of the Steeler fans who aren’t Pirates fans. (Hello, there is a baseball team in the city of Pittsburgh) and by default I don’t really like the Cavaliers. Lebron’s cool and all but I might as well follow suit by not liking any Cleveland professional teams. SInce WVU alum Joe Alexander was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks, I’ve been a fan of that team. Its also another excuse to cheer “Lets Go Buc(k)s!”

The Indians give the city something to cheer about where the other teams have failed to do so. (With the exception of Lebron). The recent success in the past 10+ years gives the city great pride.

The Indians will hope to rebound after quite the dismal start. After avoiding the Minnesota sweep on Sunday they’re on the right track. Just hope they have these dates circled….

 

 

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Cause I surely do. Can’t wait to welcome the Tribe to PNC Park for an always thrilling intereleague matchup.

Brian Giles=Bucco Killer

Well it’s nearly 2am on a Friday night and just like everybody else on the WVU campus, I’m wide awake. With music blaring out my window and everybody awake and drunk, they’re having a good time. Me on the other hand, am quite depressed. I hate when the Pirates lose, I hate when the Pirates lose in extra innings and I really hate when a former Pirate beats the Pirates in extra innings. All three occured tonight. In the bottom of the 12th of the 1th with Chris Burke on second Brian Giles came through with a sharp line drive into right field. It hurt inside. I had passed up a night of debouchery (yes debouchery) to stay on my couch and watch my team. It also hurt because seeing Giles come through in the clutch brought back fond memories.

giles.jpgThe good old days of the 100 loss first season at PNC Park. Giles hit a walkoff homerun against the Astros towards the end of summer. I’ll never forget fathers day 2001 when Giles slid across home plate to down the Indians and give the Pirates their first series sweep of the year. Giles was a good player and i’ll never forget his batting stance, short stature, power swing and of course the McLouth-esque slicked back blonde hair.

 

 

I really do feel we should have won this game. We were right in it but squandered key opportunities. Here are my 3-up, 3-down for tonight’s contest.

3 UP

  1. Jason Jaramillo- Great plate discipline and game control. He can definately handle the weight for these next 8-10 Doumit-less weeks
  2. Ian Snell- solid game in a quality start. Looking to finally come around and become the starter we all knew he could be.
  3. Brandon Moss- 1st RBI of the year….bout time bud

3 DOWN

  1. Jack Wilson- 0-5. Pooped, yes pooped out on a bunt, that could have broken the game open.
  2. Nyjer Morgan- while he is leading the NL in stolen bases with 6 he wa spicked off on a key base running incident in the 9th inning.
  3. Matt Capps- gave up the winning run, looked shaky and not his overpowering self.

Well, there’s two more game to be played. With DUUUUUUUUKE on the mound tomorrow it’ll be interesting to see if his hot streak continues. Gotta get the whole team back on the hot streak more than anything.

PHOTO CREDIT: espn.com

2009 PNC Park Scoreboard Art

I’ve been to my share of major league ballparks. 25 to be exact. Every summer my family goes on a vaction to a big city, theres only one requirement, the city must have a major league team. This summer we are heading to Colorado and Arizona. Knocking two out at the end of July. I will provide more information and details about the trip, and previous trips later. This entry is dedicated to the best ballpark in America, PNC Park. Biased you say? Nah I say. There are many unique details that make PNC Park great. The sights, the comfort, the food, the natural grass, and especially the scoreboard.

 

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 While it may not be as large as the new Yankee Stadium and it may not be as unique as the crown in Kansas City, it gets the job done. It’s very large and fits the flow of the stadium nicely. Of all the stadium I’ve been to i also feel that PNC Park provides the best in game entertainment. Of course it is probably a testament to the poor performance on the backs of the team itself. Part of the in game entertainment is the scoreboard displays that preview that batter that is stepping up to plate. PNC Park is one of the few stadiums that variate between innings with different poses, styles and demonstrations. This year features eight different displays for each inning. They’re very cool and very popular amongst fans. This years crop of batter messages are among the best I have seen in the nine years of PNC Park existence.

 

 

more pirates 001.JPGAs the first inning unfolds so does the best scoreboard art I have ever seen. Each player is presented in a comic book with action poses and an authentic comic book feel. It is very cool appealing to little kids and nerds. Even though I am neither I enjoy it very much.

 

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 To the untrained eye you may not understand whats going on here. To tell you the truth, the first time I saw it I was wondering what this nonsense was. To start off theres a brief video showing each player dancing around in a room full of floating metallic baloons. Very creepy/trippy. Some players such as Nyjer Morgan pull off matrix moves dodging the balloons while some such as Freddy Sanchez (pictured above) whack the balloons with a bat. After overhearing a middle aged couple discuss this video I learned that it was taken at the Andy Warhol Museam in Pittsburgh. I had an ah-ha moment and gave the front office bonus points for the alluding to a Pittsburgh icon. At the end of teh video the camera zooms in on the player’s face with the balloons floating in the background. Cheesy? yes. Weird? maybe Cool? no doubt.

 

 
more pirates 003.JPGThat would be Nate McLouth’s shining grill in your face. Also another cool batter intro as each player holds a picture frame in front of their face, poses with a funky face 3 times then to put it all together you get the finished product as shown above. Each player has their own style. Some give ridiculous faces that would make a baby cry, while others simply grin or give the same face for each of the 3 photos.

 

 
more pirates 010.JPG Another allusion to the city of Pittsburgh as each player poses with their grill featured beside a bridge in the city of Pittsburgh. Not too much elbow grease needed to put into this one but its a great idea. There’s nothing I enjoy more than Pirates baseball and Pittsburgh landmarks.

 

 

more pirates 005.JPGIf you never been to the Steel City….you’re missing out. Not really but still. It is a great city. For those who didn’t know it, Pittsburgh is a very artsy city. As the hometown of Mr. Warhol there are many aspiring artists. Why not showcase a striving atrists by allowing their renderings on the jumbotron. Each player is painted on a nice slab of professional paper. Its very cool, especially if I was one of the players seeing a professional drawing of myself. I’d say its a step above from the carictures you can find at your local amusement park.

 

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  Everyone loves baseball cards. I myself have a very extensive collection. While I don’t possess anything to rare or valuable, my father most definately does. Having many of his 1960s era cards still in tact, he admires the classics. During one of the innings as the batters step up to plate a smattering of vintage Pirate baseball cards or shown. Then a current Pirate is shown in the form of a vintage baseball cards. I love the retro feel and my father does as well. Nothing better than bringing back memories of the good old days.

 

 

more pirates 020.JPGOnce again taking a page out of the Warhol book. Well not really, but still artistic. You can see that the player’s face all distorted and all. Its probably my least favorite. I would assume to find something like this on a rock album cover rather than defining a baseball player.

 

 
Sunday vs Braves 008.JPG Finally we have another cool one. Not too flashy but gets the job done. Once again a players face or batting stance is shown with their name in bold print. In the background is another Pittsburgh city scene. Some players have the distinct skyline, others have a drawing of a bridge, and some have a single building in the downtown Pittsburgh. Once again it something I enjoy most. Pirates and Pittsburgh…and everlasting combination.

Well there you have it folks. I’d love to hear feedback. Tell me what you think of the Pittsburgh in-game entertainment crew. I’m also interested to see how it compares to your own hometown team’s scoreboard art.   

Friday Pick ‘em Contest

My boy Jon over at “The “Mc” Effect” has been running a contest every week when you pick the winners of the Friday baseball games. So far Iam in 5th place overall. After a strong second place sprint in the first round I fell a little bit in last weeks contest. Hopefully I can bounce back this week with Ian Snell leading the Pirates to a solid win over the Padres in San Diego. While historically Pittsburgh underachieves on the west coast, with the way our pitchers have been pitching we will ride their backs til the magic runs out.

National League:
Pirates over Padres
Reds over Braves
Mets over Nats
Philies over Marlins
Astros over Brewers
Cubs over Cardinals
Dbacks over Giants
Dodgers over Rockies
 
American League:
Rangers over Orioles
Red Sox over Yankees
Indians over Twins
Tigers over Royals
White Sox over Blue Jays
Angels over Mariners
Rays over Athletics
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