Results tagged ‘ James McDonald ’
By a show of hands, how many people check the weather reports first thing in the morning?
The Pirates took their show throughout the tri-state are of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia this past week. The region that I like to call “my home.” The Youngstown-Pittsburgh-Morgantown area is where I’ve grown up and have many memories throughout.
Neil Walker. Perhaps, the most famed Bucco currently on the roster, Walker is a hot commodity. A majority of the people at the Uniontown Mall were prepared with cards and photos of Walker while wearing his jersey. A notorious stand up guy Walker was everything and more. Complimentary to everyone who came out and honored by my congratulations to him.
While December remains the “most wonderful time of the year,” this week in January isn’t far behind.
From the 2010 season.
Andy LaRoche popped out in the top of the 9th to conclude one of the worst seasons in the Bucs storied 124 year history.
It’s hard to say there was much promise to be held in 2010, but no one expected it to be this bad.
General Manager Neil Huntington told Jennifer Langosch that “We are moving forward. And 2010 will be a much better year,” back in January.
In fact it was a gargantuan step back, six more losses than in 2009. I can’t help but feel cheated and lied to, but as sad as it is, I’m used to it.
There were dissapointments.
Aki Iwamura was expected to be a solid advancement as an everyday second baseman. That was an experiment gone wrong as Iwamura failed to sniff the Mendoza Line forcing a demotion to AAA eventually leading to an outright release.
The pitching was horrible, to say the least.
Losing 84 games the starting pitchers failed to put the team in a position to win a game. But its not like the offense was much better either.
Garret Jones led the team with 21 homers and 86 RBI, still very much lacking in the power department. The BUcs scored 587 runs and had a .242 batting average and .304 on-base percentage, 2nd lowest in the majors across those catergories.
Fingers can be pointed in many directions but I say it starts at the top.
John Russell is a disgrace as a manger. Tabulating a 186-299 record over three seasons he honest to goodness ranks in the top-ten worst managers of all time. Statistical evidence was provided by sports writer Joe Starkey. The face you see on the right side is indicative to his mood throughout the year. He is stone cold and provides little if any backbone to an already defalted team.
Rumors have circulated throughout the weekend that this is the end of Russell’s tenure in Pittsburgh.
The sooner the better.
Now Russell has not had much to work with in his three years as manager including a lineup that was never set in stone. Also with an influx of youngsters and an always changing roster it was hard to find stability. Actually, it wasn’t. Under Russell’s watch the only stability founded was in the L column.
There were so many negatives in 2010 but believe it or not there were positives.
Here are teh top three.
1. The calvary.
Established by post game show host Rocco DeMaro, the calvary describes the young Pirates that made their way into the big league lineup in 2010. The core includes Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker and Jose Tabata. This trio really has been something to give Pirate fans some sort of hope. All three are crowd favorites and for right reasons.
Alvarez has had a series of ups and downs. He has a potent bat, but also a high strikeout tendency. He did smack 16 homers but the real kicker is his astronomical OPS. He has a strong glove and striking arm. Fellas, he’s just 23.
Walker and Tabata are carbon copies of each other. Each with speed and a strong bat they have staying power. Flirting with a .300 batting average throughout the course of their half-a-big league season the kids have a knack for getting on base. Walker is easily the new “Jack Wilson” of the team. Clubhouse leader and good guy. He is actually from Pittsburgh making the hometown hero legend a reality.
2. James McDonald
Consider the fact that no Pirate starter had double digit wins but McDonald provided a little spark, even with his 4-6 record. McDonald went deep into games and actually put the offense in charge of coming through with something. He really was in charge and control of the mound. Barring an offseason addition to the rotation McDonald really does have ace potential.
3. The Fans
James McDonald’s first impression with Pirates fans was as beautiful as his performance on the mound.
Pittsburgh defeated the Rockies 5-1 thanks in part to the Southern Califonia native’s stunning debut.
McDonald went six full innings allowing just four hits and one walk. The golden number for McDonald on Thursday was eight.
The newly acquired Bucco struck out the side to start the first inning. Came out firing in the second mowing down two more and at one point after facing just seven batters McDonald fanned six of them.
I was very excited to turn on FSN Pittsburgh to watch his debut. Las Angeles used him mostly as a reliever but the 25 year old has been fairly touted throughout his career as a future starter. I was proud of the Pirate’s decision to give him the starting nod and all who watched the game cheering for the black and gold were pleased as well.
While I was excited I was also nervous. Listening to the pre game show on TV McDonald seemed very timid and not sure of himself. He was very soft spoken and only talked in that “player speak” giving vague responses.
He let his pitching to the talking.
What is even more impressing is that his battery mate is also new to the club. It’s not like he was throwing to someone he was used to or somebody within the organization who is used to the ways and tendencies of PNC Park.
McDonald solidified himself as the Pirate’s ace with his masterful start tonight. He has earned a spot in a struggling rotation and has the potential to be the leader that trickles strong starts into other pitchers.
PHOTO CREDITS: Gene Puskar, espn.com
Not quite Nomar, that title belongs to April and Opening Day. However, come July 31st I think it is safe to say it may be the most exciting.
Another Trade Deadline has come and gone. Heading into August I have a new feeling for the moves made by the Pirates. Joy.
Uncharacteristically the Pirates were not sellers at this trade deadline. But they were the farthest thing from being buyers as the team stands 20.5 games out of first place.
The moves the Pirates made were designed to swap talented players for relatively players of equal skill level.
The first move of the day sent bench players Ryan Church, Bobby Crosby and reliever D.J. Carrasco to the Diamondbacks in exchange for catcher Chris Snyder.
Snyder doesn’t bring much to the table offensively. His .230 batting average is about 20 points lower than normal starting catcher for the Bucs Ryan Doumit. However, Snyder does have more pop with 10 HRs this season. He also has something Doumit infamously lacks, a glove. Snyder has a .career .998 fielding percenatge. That is the most welcomed aspect from the deal. Doumit is widely regarded as “No-Mitt” a clever play on his last name and it surely is true. Pittsburgh has tried to position Doumit at first base on occasions just to take back some of the grunt work of being a major league catcher. That was an experiment gone wrong as Doumit was just as grim at first as he is behind the plate. Doumit is currently on the Disabled List. I anticipate Snyder will get the starting nod and will remain in that capacity even when Doumit returns to the clubhouse.
Pittsburgh also landed minor leaguer Pedro Ciriaco. Look into those eyes, this shortstop looks intimidating and I think I’m going to like it. Ciriaco is probably light years away from the big leagues but he is servicable at the position. He has a respectable average hitting right around the .270 mark. He could make a run at shortstop in a few years. The organization is relatively weak at short in terms of future talent.
Deal two came a few hours later and probably made the biggest splash among fans of both organizations.
The Pirates recieved relief pitcher James McDonald an 21-year old minor league outfielder Andrew Lambo. In order to recieve this pair the Pirates surrendered Octavio Dotel.
I was a big fan of Dotels and will be sad to see him go. He was rented out just for this season and probably was not going to be a Bucco in 2011. I guess it is the best thing to give him up and still get a solid return.
McDonald is long and lanky, much like myself. I don’t want to say I have followed his whole career, that would be a lie. However I have paid attention to what he has done throughout his relative short emergence out in LA. He is just 25 and still has plenty of time to develop into a solid big league player. He has shown flashes of excellence out of the bullpen but still has yet to be even the least bit respectable. I’m glad he is now in Pittsburgh, this will be a great chance for him to revive.
This Lambo guy may be the most intriguing of the bunch.
I can see why they were disapointed.
Lambo is a highly regarded prospect coming out of the 4th round of the 2007 draft. This year in AA he has a solid .270 batting average and maintains a career average of .286. He draws comparrisons by some Pirate bloggers to current rightfielder Jose Tabata. Both players will hit for a high average and provided a spark at the top of the lineup. Tabata is currently riding a ten game hitting streak into tonight’s game at St. Louis.
The Pirates completed the day shipping another relief pitcher to the state of California.
Javier Lopez went to the Giants in exchange for pitcher Joe Martinez and outfielder John Bowker.
Bowker may have the best shot of any player in the whole trade deadline package to make a legitimate impact. He can probably make the team right away but will have to earn a starting spot in the outfield. He has been milling around in the minors recently but does have experience in the majors. I like what he offers. He will push an already talented Bucco outfield for playing time.
There you have the new faces of the freshest crop of players in the Pirates organizaton. Last year the influx of trades made left fans with a wait and see attitude. This year we have a lot of the pieces needed for success and we can watch them develop keenly.
In years past the masses of Pittsburgh have bellyached about the trades made by the Pirates. This year should please everybody. Much of the bullpen was traded away and it was the Buc’s strongest suit. All players from the pen will be replaced and replaced fairly easily. I’m proud of Neil Huntington for making these level headed moves.
Phot Credits: boston.com, beat.bodoglife.com, sbnation.com, latimes.com, baseballbeginnings.com, leftysportsacademy.com, espn.com