Results tagged ‘ John Bowker ’

On the offensive

I’ve been to three Pirate games thus far, this season. The young season has not treated me well, personally, as I am 0-3 when seeing live games.

Pittsburgh has been outscored 19-5 in those games.
The offense was looked at as an emerging force in the preseason as a young group of hitters were polishing off solid seasons in 2010. While players such as Jose Tabata (.310 BA, .420 OBP) and Neil Walker (11 RBI, .517 SLG) have anchored the top of the lineup, shortcomings from Pedro Alvarez (20 Ks, .197 BA) and a slump from Andrew McCutchen (2-for-30 in at-bats entering Sunday) hindered the team from getting proper production. 
Most of it has changed this series against the Reds. 
On Friday the Pirates scored six runs en route to a 6-1 victory. 
Sunday, Pittsburgh notched seven runs to sneak by with a 7-6 win. 
Players, other than those aforementioned, have stepped up and delivered to put these bigger numbers on the board.
Of course, they would do it on the road, when I’m not there.
Chris Snyder has gone 3-for-7 in these two wins. 

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After starting the season on the disabled list, Snyder was penciled in behind the plate, right away, moving Ryan Doumit to a bench spot. His production has been consistent to open his season which should keep him in the starting lineup for a majority of games from here on out. His biggest asset is not at the plate, though, it’s behind it. Pitchers rave about his quality of calling games and he played a big part in Charlie Morton’s complete game against the Reds on Friday.
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In a platoon with Matt Diaz in right field, Garrett Jones has had his back against the wall. His decline in power had the front office concerned, but now he is beginning his comeback campaign. Jones has it two homers in the series and brought his average up to a respectable .282. Diaz has struggled to sustain a presence at the plate. So, it may play to Jones’ advantage is he continues to produce consistently. He may just get that starting job back.
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If Jones and Diaz both falter another viable option is waiting in the wings. John Bowker is trying to find his identity on the Bucs. He hasn’t been the first used pinch hitter of the bench, so far, but that decision may change quickly. He brought in the winning run in the top of the 8th inning, Sunday. Bowker drilled a 2-out pitch to deep center field that could have been a home run in other ballparks, while adding further insurance with just that one swing of the bat. 
Prior to the Reds series, manager Clint Hurdle tinkered with the lineup to make a change.
It was needed.
As I said before, the offense was dormant to open the season at home. My three games were pitiful and beyond that, the funk at the plate scorned the early optimism that many fans accumulated. Hurdle moved McCutchen up to the leadoff spot from the three hole. Tabata will bat second, with Lyle Overbay third. Walker is now the cleanup hitter dropping from the two hole. 
These moves paid off as more runs were produced, save for Saturday’s 11-2 beat down. As Tabata has proved he is the best hitter on the team, the second spot is the perfect fit for him. He is 5-for-14 in the new spot. McCutchen began his new role with an 0-for-5 performance, but has since proved that his natural position is where he wants to be. He led off Sunday’s game with a home run. Walker isn’t the most natural cleanup hitter. He doesn’t have the most power on the team, although he does have three dingers. But, No. 2 wasn’t ideal for him, either. He strikes out too much and that is not the best liability to have in a two hitter. 
The Pirates will stay in Cincinnati for a Monday game to close out the series. A win would pit them back at the .500 mark going to Florida to do battle with the Marlins on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Then it’s back home to host the Nationals over Easter weekend. I will be in attendance for one of those games ready to be entertained with some offensive action. 
photo credits: postgazette.com, bleacherreport.com, daylife.com

Trade Deadline Wrap Up

 

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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.

chris_snyder_200707_ap.jpgSnyder 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.

pedroc.jpgPittsburgh 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.

jamesmac.jpgMcDonald 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.

lambo.jpgI trolled the Dodger’s Message Boards to see reactions from their fans on the deal. Many were cintent with seeing McDonald go but the cost of trading Lambo seemed way too high for them.

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.

JoeMartinez.jpgThere is not much information out on Martinez. He is a career minor league pitcher and does have a shot at landing a major league position at some point. Any pitching is good pitching in my eyes.

bowker.jpgBowker 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

 

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