Results tagged ‘ Rays ’

Building to the model

baseball-salary-cap.jpgI remember seeing a sign at PNC Park in 2002 that read “Small Market Domination.”
The Pirates started out 5-2 that year so obviously that sentiment was a bit premature. It got people excited, though. A winner was in Pittsburgh and to get off on the right foot like that fueled some excitement that has long lacked in the Western Pennsylvania baseball community.
It is still not there today.

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Other small market areas, however, have found their their happy place with baseball. Minnesota, Tampa Bay and this past year, Cincinnati were successful despite the economic restraints placed upon them. Minnesota has one of the best run organizations in the game with their knack for competing year in and year out. It remains to be seen if Tampa Bay will remain with its head above water as key

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 departures this past season such as Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena have left to bigger areas. Cincinnati has a nice core in place with Joey Votto and Jay Bruce bolstering the line up. It should see the same post season strides like the Twins and Rays before it. 
These three teams have something in common. Their use of the draft.

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With lineups predominately filled with players homegrown through the farm system, the Twins, Rays and Reds have all took their rime with a unique path towards the top. All three teams made the playoffs last year thanks to these young players that have risen through the system, but it wasn’t just those players that got the respective teams to prominence. They had to go out and spend some money.
The Twins added Carl Pavano to their pitching staff. He not only got the job done on the mound, he won over the fan base with his phenomenal mustache. Jim Thome also helped in garnering attention. For the Rays it was Pat Burrell and Cliff Floyd that helped anchor a potent offensive threat. Cincinnati, on the other hand remained fairly quiet. Alrodis Chapman was their big money investment, though. It was his stellar pitching that ultimately positioned the Reds for a spot in the 2010 playoffs. 
For the past three years Neil Huntington has been the general manager of the Pirates. During these three tumultuous seasons he has cited the aforementioned teams as being a model for Pittsburgh to build off. 
They have.
With aggressive spending in the draft the Pirates have acquired top talent and could be seen as having some of the youngest players with the most potential compared to any low farm system across the majors. 
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Keeping with the plan that once the upper level prospects reach the major league level and show signs of success, then the free agent market will be attacked with the few missing pieces the team needs to contend. The Reds, Twins and Rays have all utilized their money properly with sufficient going to free agents, but still remaining loyal to their own homegrown players. The Pirates are taking this route, too with Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez all taking great strides at the major league level last year.
One team this off-season has taken a different approach.
The Orioles have one of the best young pitching staffs in the BO.jpg
game, today. As of late, they now have a lineup that mirrors a classic Yankees roster. With its aggressive stance in the Free Agent pool the Orioles have added Vladimir Guerrero, J.J. hardy and Derek Lee to accompany their own Nick Markakis, Adam Jones and Matt Wieters. While this hungry spending spree may pay off, it will be tough to compete, as always in the American League East. While some may argue that they are at least a year from reaching its competitive potential, the Orioles set out to silence the critics by going against the grain and landing some of the hottest free agents this off-season. 
They spent money. 
It is not exactly the plan the Pirates are heading on. As they finished with near identical records last year, the Orioles feel now is their time. It’s different strokes for different folks because Pittsburgh is still premature in its development. 
I applaud the Orioles for their plan, but Huntington will still laud to the Twins, Rays and Reds as the Pirates blueprint towards success.
I don’t blame him. 
photo credits: yublog.com, nodaktwinsfan.com, sportsblog.projo.com, cobf.mlblogs.com, piratesprospects.com, sportslogos.com

Happy Halladays to start the postseason

In a somewhat sarcastic way I proclaimed on October 5th that the Reds would not get a hit throughthe NLDS against the Philies.

 

halladay.jpgSo far so good huh.

There was not a better way to script the opening day of the postseason than the first playoff no hitter since Don Larsen’s perfect game in 1962.

So close to a perfect game too. Unbelievable. And to do it twice in one year simply baffles me. Just imagine if Roy Halladay happened to be out of Toronto for more of his career. He could possibly be one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball history. He still has a lot of gas in the tank and judging by this season alone he has punched his ticket to Cooperstown. A first ballot hall of famer in my book.

One game that may hold him out could very well be May 18, 2010.

He lost to the Pirates.

Zach Duke went toe-to-toe with the Philadelphia ace in a 2-1 ballgame where both pitchers
halladay1.jpg went the complete game. It was one of the most precise games the Pirates put together in 2010 and the best contest of Duke’s wretched year.

As I type this the game in Minnesota is going swimmingly well for the Twins. Something to say that I am pleased to see. Francisco Liriano is pitching masterfully.

Pitching has been a common theme when discussing the highs of the 2010 MLB season. So far it looks like the playoffs are going to be no exception. Cliff Lee shut down the Rays this afternoon. Halladay had a freaking no hitter. Liriano is coasting right now.

Tomorrow presents a new day with two similiar teams pinned against each other. It is sure to be anothers pitchers duel as Tim Lincecum faces Derek Lowe.

When it comes to picking a team to root for in the postseason, it hasn’t been the easiest thing. Last year I chose the Dodgers because of my good blogging friends Emma and Cat were so very kind to me. This season is a bit trickier, but not really. I am sticking with the NL West theme and will be adorning the orange and black.

 

sf.jpgI’ve always liked the logo and color scheme. The city is one of a kind. The ballpark blew me away. Besides those intangibles the Giants also offer something special for the playoff run, one of my favorite players of all time.

FREDDY.jpgFreddy Sanchez.

His time in Pittsburgh was headlined by a batting title in 2006 but what may have been overshadowed was his hospitality. Sanchez is a class act and was always a fan favorite. His work ethic and gritty glove work is topped only by his consistent bat. He is finally overcoming injuries that have haunted his whole career and he is showing he belongs in an everday lineup, especially on a contending team.

Nobody deserves the honor of winning games in the post season than Freddy Sanchez.

Go Giants!

photos: ap, yahoo.com

A case of the Mondays

For the first time this spring the Buccos held their first split squad games. Both teams were in action today against the Yankees and Rays.

New York and Tampa Bay both defeated the pair of Pittsburgh teams.

The Yanks shut out the Pirates 6-0. Steve Pearce recorded the only hit of the contest for the Bucs, a single.

Thumbnail image for stevepearce.jpgPearce has long been heralded as the next big thing in Pittsburgh, however his time is running short.

In 2007 after just one season in A ball, he made the jump to the majors, swiftly moving through the system. It was just too much too soon as he was overwhelmed at the plate and at first base.

Last season he spent a majority of the season in AAA Indianapolis setting career highs in every offensive category. It was not the same story in the majors. In 60 games in Pittsburgh, Pearce batted six points over the Mendoza Line with just a .206. He lacked power that he showed throughout the minors just hitting four homeruns.

He has a chance to make the team out of camp but that most likely will not happen. There is a heated battle for the last bench spots and Pearce will be one of the odd men out.

 

The Rays and Pirates played their way to 10 innings, but TB outlasted the Bucs 4-3. Brian Friday hit a homerun for Pittsburgh.

In a similar, yet completely different scenario, Friday is in a “Pearce like position.” For about the last two years he has made a name for himself in the minors.

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With the major league roster jammed with infield talent (Ronny Cedeno, Delwyn Young, Akinori Iwamura, Ramon Vazquez) Friday will need at least another year in the minors to develop.

The Rice University product spent last year in AA Altoona. He hit just .265 but is said to have a great glove. By showing pop in his bat today he may just be “the guy” at second in say 2012.

 

 

 

The Bucs will bring the team together tomorrow when they face the Yankees yet again.

Remember me issuing my excitement for Tuesday’s WVU baseball game? Well it was postponed due to the snow still on the field. It is melting rather quickly as temperatures reached the mid-50′s in Morgantown today. But I hear the field is wetter than the Everglades. They may be able to get in Thursday’s game however.

To hold me over these next three days I have Wednesday to look forward to. The Pirates take on the Orioles Wednesday at 7p.m. The game will be televised on FSN Pittsburgh. My buddy Andrew is a big Orioles fan so we will enjoy watching this game together.

photo credits: espn.com, pirates.scout.com

 

 

 

 

Pirate’s Hot Sove already heating up

Well it was an off day for the World Series, but my baseball world kept turning. Just a few hours ago it was announced that Pittsburgh traded reliever Jesse Chavez to Tampa Bay for Akinori Iwamura.

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Aki, as he is affectionately called, will step in the Pirate clubhouse and not only be one of the oldest on the squad, but also an impact player. At 30 years old Iwamura suffered an injury last season. In just 69 games Iwamura batted .290 with 22 RBI. The power numbers aren’t there as he just hit 1 homer last year and has just 14 over his 3 year career. Iwamura does have a .335 on base percenatge-not bad but I’m hoping he can devlop into a top of the order hitter.

Iwamura’s defense is said to be top notch. It’ll be nice to have someone already meshed into a middle of the infield position. Delwyn Young, our current second baseman was a converted outfielder and had many growing pains when manning 2nd base this year.

In order to acquire Iwamura, the Pirates gave up reliever Jesse Chavez.

jchavez.jpgThe Pirates bullpen was simply attrocious this year.  One of the few, bright, ugh dare I say dimly lit spots was Chavez.  He was just 1-4 in his first full year of  service. Chavez held down a  4.01 ERA  over 67 innings.  No where near the numbers of a star reliever but for the Bucs, the numbers were pretty good. The Pirates need bullpen help and dealing away their best reliver  isn’t really my idea of improving.

All in all I am nutural on the deal. The Pirates need help, in any way possible. The deal will surely help our depth up the middle and Iwamura is an improvement over Ronny Cedeno and Young. It’ll be interesting to see how these three adapt to each other when alternating in an out. There was talk of moving Andy LaRoche to 2nd base, it now seems like these talks will cease.

When I recieved the text message update about this trade I figured many national pundits and local fans would be ho-hum about this.  Some may say “Oh this is just another trade by the Pirates to give away their players.”-but nobody said that, probably because of the return from the deal. People have heard of Akinori and so the Pirates getting him, is a great move by the Bucs. But when we trade players people have heard of such as Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez all I hear is mumblings that the Pirates are idiots for giving away these players! It is very contradictory.

aki mag.jpgAki has a track record of success. He has been on the Rays World Series team and was well liked amongst the clubhouse and the fans. He has the winning experience and a competitive edge. Bringing Iwamura into the mix adds a new dimension into the Pittsburgh clubhouse. I’m sure the international attention, specifically from the Japanese media will heighten for the Bucs. It is a new generation and every little bit helps. 

Hearing this news from the Pirates especially with the Philies and Yankees battling in the World Series just made me so much more excited for some Bucco Baseball in Pittsburgh. Heres to the best for Iwamura and the direction the Pirates are headed in!

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