Results tagged ‘ Ryan Church ’

Pittsburgh Broom Company

 

brooms.jpgThe. Pirates. Stink. I do not think there is a better way to put it.

Just like the smelly floors of a junior high locker room and the janitor that cleans it up the Pirates know a thing or two about being swept clean.

Pittsburgh will leave the Bay Area having fropped its past six games in which it was swept by the Rangers and most recently the A’s.

The Bucs have dropped 19 straight road games and have been swept 10 times this season, five alone in the month of June.

Sunday was the best opportunity for the Buccos to earn a win. Just like finding a winning season these past 17 years, it just was not meant to be.

kurt.jpgOakland defeated Pittsburgh after a Kurt Suzuki 8th run solo home run to eventually be the deciding blow in their 3-2 victory.

Suzuki is flying under the radar this year just as he has throughout his career. He connected for his tenth homerun of the year to accompany a .264 batting average. Along with a team leading .442 slugging percenatge compiled with 31 home runs Suzuki reaps great production as a catcher. He is among the best in the league and should recieve a call to travel down the Pacific Coast Highway to Anaheim for this year’s All-Star Game.

 

The whole weekend was completely dismal for the Pirates. On Friday they were destroyed   14-4 while losing second baseman Neil Walker to a concussion he suffered during a collision. He has had some time off but will not be placed on the disabled list.

I for one have never suffered a concussion. Rarely do I even get headaches, it is a wonder because it does run in my family. But I would defintely need as much rest as possible and would not feel like doing anything for days. I do think watching the Pirates play this weekend made Walker’s recovery time have to last a bit longer, probably made his head hurt a lot worse.

Saturday night was an absolute disgrace.

 

dancutch.jpgIt was a turn back the clock night as the Pirates paid tribute to their “We Are Family” days of the 1970’s. They did so by only tabbing five hits in a 5-0 shutout. The Pirates of 2010 disrespected the uniform worn by so many legends of the ’71 and ’79 World Champions. Willie Stargell had to be looking down on Oakland shaking his head.

The living legends who played in the black and gold during the glory days have to be embarrased to watch the team play today. Living legends like Phil Garner, Dave Parker and Omar Moreno have to be proud of their play for the Pirates and probably take pride in beautiful PNC Park, but to have a team that stands at 25-50 lose games so handily has to be detrimental to their spirits. If I was one of them I would demand change and demand it now.

The first step needs to be the firing of John Russell. 
russell.jpg

He’s been quite the head scratcher since he was called upon to replace Jim Tracy some three years ago. The expression you see on his face to the right really is permanently tatooed on his face. His indifferent attitude and questionable moves should be reason enough to get him out of the dugout.

The long standing cry has been to fire Russell because he fails to light a fire unde rhis team. Yes, that is surely true. Amongst reports that he can go weeks without talking to some players, it is the baseball mind of Russell that truly is his Achille’s Heel. With the oppotunity to have a Designated Hitter this past week Russell threw Milledge into right field, he would committ a handful of errors. Now Milledge should be an everyday player but when there is that opportunity to have a DH it is best to give him a break from the field and put a stronger fielder, Ryan Church or Delwyn Young into the nine-position. His use of the bullpen, particularly his choice of relief pitchers in certain situations brings out his lack of knowledge. Being a former big league catcher the game management skills of Russell should not be this poor.

Whatever the front office sees in their whipping boy that is Russell is beyond me. The Pirates will not even come close to the promised land of a .500 season this year but why not make a splash. Show the league and the 25 men on the team that you do care and get Russell out of here. Something needs to be done and it looks like the only thing would be to fire Russell.

photo credits: itsonthelist.com, espn.com, postgazette.com/AP, nbc.com

You had to be there to believe it

 


Thumbnail image for 20-0 015.jpgTake that in for a moment folks.

20…..to zero. That was not a Packers-Steelers score where the extra point was blocked. That was a Pirates-Brewers score. It was the worst loss in the history of the Pirates franchise.

And I was there to witness it.

20-0 016.jpgPre game I was joking around with the Pirate Parrot, obviously not knowing the horrors of the game to come, which was a joke as well.

Some friends and I came to the park on a whim on Thursday. Some of my classes were canceled due to a journalism conference my professors attended in Baltimore. I couldn’t think of a better way to sepend my semi-day off than at PNC Park. Outside the stadium it looked like many others had the same idea.

 

20-0 001.jpgThere was a packed line for tickets. Whether it was the gorgeous spring day, playing hookey or killing time before the Penguins playoff game later in the day fans flocked to PNC Park. At least thats what it seemed like on the outside. 

13,634 fans actually turned up, which is abysmal. Maybe we as fans deserved the pain that would be bestowed upon us for the next three and a half hours.

The Brewers looked like a team filled with baseball legends. They treated the Pirates like Little Leaguers teeing off for hit after hit which turned into run after run.

Four homeruns were hit in the ballgame. All off the bats of the Brew Crew. Jim Edmonds, George Kottarras, Prince Fielder and public enemy number one in Pittsburgh, Ryan Braun all blasted bombs into the bleachers.

 

20-0 011.jpg“Cryan” Braun as he is referred to in Pittsburgh had 5 RBI. Ten players had at least one RBI including pitchers Claudio Vargas and Manny Parra. All but two Brewers who stepped to the plate had a hit.

The Pirates were swept by the Brewers and Pittsburgh natives let other Pittsburgh natives know it.

20-0 012.jpgI mean, really, what the heck? Dude in a Marc Andre Fleury t-shirt shows up with a broom to signify the Brewers accomplishment.

I just had to laugh at the guy who was rubbing the broom in every Pirate fan’s face around him, but really, what the heck? This is why I can’t be a diehard Penguin fan. I bet this guy did not cheer for the Pirates in the late 90’s early 2000’s. Yet they start winning and hes a full-fledged fan. Give it a few years, the Pirates are competitive, he will be back with avengence in a Pedro Alvarez t-shirt.

After that game however, how can I be so sure that my Bucs will ever be competitive? In that Brewers series the Pirates were outscore 36-1. The Pirates have a Majors worst 7.35 team ERA. More than one run higher than any other team. The offense is below NL average in most categories across the diamond according to Post Game host Rocco DeMaro.

There is no light at the end of the tunnel it seems. Watching that game hurt me, the few hundreds who joined me to see the final out, and 25 men who donned that Pirate jersey.

Reliever Brendan Donnelly said they should be ashamed to wear the black and gold. I can’t help but agree. Starting pitcher Daniel McCutchen cried while being interviewed. Outfielder Ryan Church simply said “I got nothin’, I’m embarrased.” 

We all are Ryan, we all are.

I’m not letting go of that ticket stub. The worst loss record stood for 100 years. I will be sure to tell my grandkids about that day, the day I witnessed the worst loss in Pirates history. My grandkids won’t believe there were actually bad years as a Pirates fan, whilethey are celebrating a World Series dynasty. 

The brooms are out in Pittsburgh…and Morgantown

broom-1.jpgRaise the jolly roger and sweep PNC Park clean. The Pirates are on a roll and not looking back.

Saturday and Sunday were two games that could make any baseball fan happy. The Pirates came from behind for a walkoff win on Saturday. On Sunday the Bucs got out on top early and sustained the lead until the end.

Raise your hand if your team is .500!

ClassroomGirlHandRaised.jpgThat little girl must be a Pirate fan because we are 7-5. Yes, its April and yes there are 150 games to be played but I will jump at any chance to get excited and the Pirates are giving me that chance right now.

 

gfj walkoff.jpgIt was like deja vu all over again. Thanks for the line Yogi Berra!

The Buccos were destined for a loss on Saturday. Being down 43 in the bottom of the ninth with Francisco Cordero called upon for the save.

I thought we were done for.

Cordero is 4-for-4 in saves opportunities this year and is listed 27th on the all-time closers list.

Can’t you see why I thought we were done for?

But Cordero was erratic. Ryan Church laced a single to left, Ronny Cedeno walked and Lastings Milledge Walked. Garrett Jones stepped to the plate, battling a slump. Jones has been dissapointing fantasy owners everywhere with his lack of power which was expected after his monstrous opening day. He did come through with a hit off the wall to win the ballgame.

 I was not able to watch the Pirate game on Sunday as I was covering the West Virginia baseball game. The 12th ranked Louisville Cardinals brought their own brooms to Morgantown and beat the Mountaineers up and down.

jedd2.jpgU of L beat WVU in the three game series. It was a sweep that the Mountaineers knew was probable coming into the weekend.

Louisville has one of the best pitching staffs in the country. On Sunday I had the pleasure of watching Gabriel Shaw mow down the Mountaineers. In seven innings he struck out six batters allowing just five hits.

Jedd Gyorko, pictured left, drove in the only run for West Virginia. Gyorko is a Morgantown native and high on many experts draft lists. He is a shortstop who will be picked up in the June draft, more than likely in the first few rounds.

Even though I was not watching the Pirates game, 13,860 at PNC Park did. The Buccos jumped out early and produced hits throughout the ballgame. Paul Maholm had a no hitter through four innings and looked the best he has all season. Octavio Dotel picked up the save even after surrendering a homerun to Jay Bruce, who hit two.

Backup catcher Jason Jaramillo brought in three runs with a double in the fifth inning. Jones struggled again, not reaching base in the game.

The Pirates remain at home to face the Brewers this week. Standing just a half game out of first place in the NL Central. This is a big series if the Pirates hope to keep their heads over water in the division and to sustain .500.

photo credit: freeclipartnow.com, nordinho.net, postgazette.com, msnsportsnet.com

Buccos fall to Braves and bitter McLouth.

Two games in. Two losses

The Pirates lost 2-4 at the hands of Atlanta on Thursday. The Pirates have put up miniscule hits these past two days, recording just four against the Braves. Compared to the five hit by Atlanta, I guess it should not be too big of a talking point.

Two of the Bucs reaching base safely were new additions. Ryan Church and Bobby Crosby.

ryan.jpg

 

Church got the start in right field, but should not be too commended for his effort. He struck out twice while getting his single in three at bats. Over the weekend I called in to a local sports talk station. The guys were talking about off-season accquisitions by the Pirates and failed to mention Church. I chimed in expressing my interest in him and that he could be a central part to our team. They agreed and complimented me, a good feeling considering I am not a frequent caller to these type of shows. I normally just like to sit back and listen. The show was Sunday during an intermission of the USA-Canada hockey game and I was lucky enough to be directed straight to the show. I did watch the game and if anybody else did I hope you were listening intently at the very beginning of the first period. Announcer Doc Emerick dropped a Pirates mention saying “I bet the Pittsburgh Pirates are glued intently to this game.” Perplexed I was, but later found out Emerick is a huge Pirates fan. The New Jersey Devils announcer earned major points in my media heroes book.

bobby.jpg

 

Crosby had a decent day at the plate. With two outs in third he ripped a single through the infield bringing in a run. It was the first tally mark of the afternoon for the Pirates. It was the only noise he would make in his three at bats.

Andy LaRoche hit the first homerun of the Spring Training season for Pittsburgh. His solo shot in the 7th was the only other productive at bat in the contest.

The underlying storyline heading into this ballgame was the matchup against former Pirate centerfielder Nate McLouth.

 

nate.jpgThe 2008 Gold Glove winner was the first Pirate traded in last summer’s infamous fire sale. A shocking move to the city of Pittsburgh and the entire baseball world as McLouth just inked a long term deal with the club in the offseason.

In an interview with Jennifer Langosch Nate announced his disdain for the Pirates organization. Here is a sample of what he said.

It feels good to be in an organization this year that’s going to be in a playoff hunt and not have to talk about ‘We hope years down the road …’ and things like that. It’s good to have that feeling in Spring Training.

It was tough, but I was kind of lucky that I was the first one to get sent out and I didn’t have to deal with it the whole summer. 

If I was in Nate’s position, I certainly would be a bit ticked and I understand what he is saying. At the time I was unsure of the trade, but it can pay big dividends for the Pirates. We got a starting pitcher (Charlie Morton) and a centerfield prospect (Gorkys Hernandez) out of the deal. It makes me happy theat McLouth is not down playing that situation. He truly wanted to be a Pirate and felt betrayed by the organization. Some say it is still a stupid move, but it really was not.

Our outfield now is one of the youngest and most talented in the National League. McLouth refused to move to left field when Andrew McCutchen would be promoted and that may have pre-empted the trade in the first place. McLouth’s numbers also dropped considerably when he was in the ATL.

In 85 games with the Braves, McLouth batted a mediocre .256 and hits 11 home runs, bringing his total up to 20 for the year. His on base percentage dropped a handful of points from the year before and his OPS was .773, the second lowest in his five year career.

It is hard to tell what the short and long term effects of the trade will be. The duo the Pirates recieved from Atlanta has yet to pan out. In sort of a fitting manner, it was Morton that started the game for Pittsburgh. He had control issues walking three batters (including McLouth).

photo credits: piratereport.com, coxnewsweb.com

Baltimore is up next! Bucs-O’s Friday at 7p.m.

  

Front Page Material

 

lastingmlblogs.jpgThis picture look familiar? It should. It is featured on the front page of mlblogs.com. When I logged on this morning I was welcomed with the sight of Bucco. I was shocked, simply because when are the Pirates even merely mentioned? Lastings Milledge was front and center as mlb.com drooled over his fantasy potential. 

Lastings Milledge my friends, this guy is going to be good. I’m not the only one who thinks so. Cory Schwartz of Fantasy 411 on mlb.com had this to say about Pittsburgh’s starting left fielder. 

Lastings Milledge is something of a forgotten man after being run out of two organizations, and he was further hampered last season by a broken finger, but he’s stolen 28 bases in his last 162 Major League games going back to 2008, along with a .278 average and 17 homers. He seems comfortable in Pittsburgh, especially now that he’s been moved to the less stressful defensive assignment in left field, and he’s still only 24. Milledge’s talent has never been in question, so with a full season of health and calm this could be year he starts converting those skills into big-time fantasy results.

I agree with everything Schwartz mentioned above. When Milledge first came over from Washington I thought we were in for a long, rusty relationship. He had indeed hit his rough patches as a Met and even in Washington he butted heads with those in charge. It looked as if we had traded Nyjer Morgan, one of the nicest guys in the business, for this firecracker.

Within days, Milledge proved us all wrong. Management praised his attitude and worth ethic as he put in the time and effort he never seemed to in previous years. Everytime I saw him last season he had a smile on his face and looked like he belonged. 

lastings2.jpgHitting the seen near the beginning of 2006, Milledge was heralded as “the future,” a phenom. Whether the hype went to his head is something often discussed but he was never welcomed in New York. As the youngest player in the National League, just a few days into his 21st year, Milledge was never understood by his veteran teammates. Such stars as Cliff Floyd, David Wright and Billy Wagner were reported to have lashed out against their rookie member in the clubhouse. It is safe to say they had a reason. Milledge acted like a kid in a candy score in the Shea Stadium outfield. He celebrated outlandishly, high fived fans and blew up at umpires. Maybe the vets had a point. Milledge definitely had some growing up to do. He got that opportunity in Washington when he was traded to the Nationals. Ironically enough Milledge was swapped for Ryan Church. Now the two pieces of a trade will be united together in ittsburgh as Pirates this year.

In a new setting and a new environment, young Lastings still had to fight to find his niche.

Thumbnail image for lastings3.jpgHe was welcomed by the younger, more relaxed clubhouse in Nationals Stadium. It was his performance on the field that rolled some eyes. Batting in the third spot Milledge was batting .245 with seven home runs and 32 RBIs. Miniscule numbers for a quality 3rd batter. He suffered through a lingering foot injury suffered while in New York. After the rehab process he showed some life in his bat with an above .300 average to close out the 2008 season. When he was traded near the July 31st trade deadline, Milledge had a hand injury and could not play baseball for the life of him. With a sub-Mendoza Line batting average and nagging metacarpals Milledge came to Pittsburgh amidst the outcrys of Pirates fans who mised their beloved Nyjer Morgan. Like I said before, it was only a matter of days before he put the criticism to rest and strived.

 

lastings1.jpgPart of the facts attributing to the resurgence of Lastings was the much younger clubhouse. Stepping in as actually one of the veteran guys at the rip age of 24 was appealing. Also, lets face it, its Pittsburgh. Milledge found a home in the lower part of the batting order and finished the year strong. With our outfield set, he is truly a part of the bright future of the Pirates.

picture credits: mlblogs.com, dailynews.com, postgazette.com, washingtonpost.com       

 

Take ‘em to Church

Thumbnail image for catholic-church.jpgWhich MLB player attends religious services every Sunday?

Well I’m sure many do, but one player stands out as one of the holiest players in the league.

RYAN CHURCH

Now I am not totally sure of Church’s religious background, it was just a lame attempt at a joke.

Anyway, getting back on track here, the Pirates have reportedly signed outfielder Ryan Church to a one year, 1.5million dollar deal.

The former 14th round pick of the Indians really made a name for himself when he was a National. During his four years with the organization, his numbers really never stood out.

His highest batting average was .287 in 2005. His
Church1.jpg highest home run total was 15 in 2007. His OPS numbers range from the upper .700s to mid .800s. Nothing to brag about there, but Church is widely regarded as a reliable, yet solid player.

 

 Church spent brief and injury prone years in New York and Atlanta. He gained national attention in a bigger market playing for the Mets. His power numbers digressed after leaving Washington and so did his playing time. He was used in 4th outfielder capacity for both teams but still did his best to strive in the position he was in.

 

 

RyanChurch.jpgChurch, now 31 and a seasoned league vet has always been a favorite player of mine. I have literally had the privelege of following him from the very beginning of his professional career.

ryan-church.jpgChurch was drafted by Cleveland in 2000. The Mahoning Valley Scrappers, short season A ball, usually recieve the top draft picks of the organization literally days after they are signed. It has been great watching former Indians stars such as C.C. Sabathia and Victor Martinez has been a real treat back in my hometown.

Church arrived on the scene in that summer and was a hot player destined for greatness right away. He was named New York Penn player of the week muliple times, a legaue leader in home runs and RBIs and just an exciting player to watch.

It is not very often a player in short season A ball makes a name for himself right out of the gate. Not only is there high turnover rates this low, the fans really do not look that much into these very young players.

As a pre-teen boy I was in awe of Church. Every Scrappers game I went to I would bug Ryan for his autograph. I never did get it though. The crowds were hyped full of tee-ball league players getting autographs as well. I was always too late. Now that he is a Pirate, I plan on earning his signature and explaining to him how he snubbed me some ten years ago.

Church’s role on the Pirates will be unique. He will probably be th 4th outfielder for Pittsburgh, a role he is already used to. With Lastings Milledge and Andrew McCutchen inked into the left and center field positions the right field spot is definitely up for grabs. Brandon Moss and Church will be in the running for the starting spot, however, more than likely Garrett Jones will be the guy the Pirates are most comfortable with manning the outfield grass.

I would rather put Jones at first to give Church the starting position in right. But Jeff Clement looks to be the starting first baseman. Clement came to the Bucs via the Mariners and is considered quite the hot prospect. He does not have very good game experience in the big show, but he is a minor league prodigy. I am skeptical though because I honestly have to see it to believe it.

With the addition of Church the Pirates have just one more bench spot to fill. Brandon Moss and Delwyn Young will be competing for that final spot. This is a tough spot for me personally. I enjoy the potential of Moss, but he has never came through or lived up to any expectations. I hate to give up on him seamingly quickly considering he was part of the Jason Bay deal.

Delwyn Young on the other hand has exceeded expectations, my personal ones and that of Pirate fans. In what was really his first full big league season Young was a clutch hitter who had a knack for finding the holes to get the ball through. He ran out of gas at the end of the year and was really in a deep funk. Delwyn is one of my favorite players. He is likeable and brings a “fresh” feeling to the club.

It’ll be an interesting race and a great storyline heading into Spring Training.

photo credits: homeruncards.com, lompoclockerroom.blogspot.com, wfan.com, brotherpeacemaker.com

 

 

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