Monday, December 03, 2007

Steelers 24 Bungles 10

The face the most overrated player in the NFL is making on the right there pretty much sums up the Bungles past couple years. After the Bungles won the division and had their only winning season in the last 16 (we can't stop here, this is Pirate Country...) in the 05 - 06 season, the Steelers knocked them out in the Wild Card round in Cinnci. Last year, week 17, with nothing to play for sans pride, the Steelers knocked off the Bungles in Pittsburgh when the Bungles could've made the playoffs with a win. Two years ago I said they were a flash in the pan, all the while the media has picked them to either win the division or make the playoffs the past two seasons since. Well I'm here to tell you what the two of you reading this already know, the Bungles fucking blow.
Despite getting off to a slow start as usual on both offense and defense the Steelers righted the ship in the 2nd quarter with 17 points (Ben TD run, Ben to Ward TD catch). The Steelers added a TD in the 3rd, while the Bungles, despite scoring a TD on a long 12 play drive to start the game, only managed 3 more points the rest of the way. This was due to a combination of stout Steelers D, Carson Palmer doing his best statue impression in the pocket, and his overrated WR core probably shooting up in celebration after the first drive (don't pretend like that would actually surprise you).

Does anyone out there actually believe that Carson Palmer is better than Ben at this point? I mean really, what could you possibly say at this point to defend Palmer. "He's a QB that will kill teams with bad pass defenses and poor pass rushers. When he has to face a good team, he normally throws arrant passes and can't move out of the pocket to save his life. He's never shown up for big game in his life to tell you the truth." If someone would like to refute any of those statements be my guest. Under a perfect situation, in a bubble with no pass rush Palmer is probably a better QB. But in all honesty what does that even fucking count for? I could be a major league center fielder if it weren't for the pitcher throwing in the mid-90's and tossing a smorgasbord of breaking and off speed stuff. Ben is the kind of QB that can do most everything and simply takes what the defense gives him. The first TD run for Ben last night is an excellent example. Despite his shaky start throwing the ball last night (high and wobbly leading to his first pick and several incomplete passes) he settled down and began throwing strikes like he is capable of. Carson Palmer was 17/44 (38%) with no TD's or INT's. Ben was 21/32 (66%) with 2 TD's and 2 INT's. Let's face it despite the picks, Ben had a much better game than Palmer hands down.

Now to the big story of the night, our boy Hines Ward passing HOF John Stallworth for 1st all time on the Steelers TD receptions list with 64 TD receptions. A hard nosed football player that catches almost everything thrown to him no matter what part of the field or where the ball is thrown. Hines is more or less the polar opposite of Johnson. A non-flashy possession receiver who blocks hard and normally celebrates his TD's with a smile and maybe giving the ball to a fan (or mocking some loud mouth on the other team). I love the guy, Pittsburgh loves the guy, how could you not love the guy as a football player. Just an all around great player.

How good are the Steelers really though? Well we only have to wait till Sunday to find out...

Up From the 36 Chambers...

Well I suppose I'll give this another shot. I've been working for several months and have time to post now and then I suppose. I don't really know how to get people to read this or anything but it's cool.

Anyway, the thing I've been focusing my pent up rage on of late is the decline of the NFL's, well I don't know how to put this, sportsmanship. I'm all for normal celebrations and getting physced for a good play, but let's face it this shit is getting fucking ridiculous. To see some 3rd team, special teams scrub make a routine tackle on kickoff or punt coverage and jump around like he just stopped the runner and the 1 foot from scoring the game winning touchdown in XLII is getting absurd. Who is ok'ing this type of behavior out of grown men. ESPN and other media outlets only enable this type of behavior because the more ridiculous the celebration the more times it is played. The NFL has attempted to curb the antics of the big bitch Chad Johnson and team killer TO by not allowing props. Newsflash, you know how much these clowns get paid, why not threaten them with a fine / suspension that will actually hurt them. Not the typical 5 to 10k slap on the wrists. Or even better why not hand out more personal fouls for these spectacles and hurt the team that game, that might encourage Marvin Lewis to take control of his players a bit more. I love how the talking heads dub this as "entertainment" instead of stating how completely unacceptable their celebrations are. What does this tell some little 10 year old, just starting to play football how to act when he get's in the endzone for this first time. Maybe he'll pull out a teddy bear and ride it around the end zone. I'll be honest not only would I not want Chad Johnson on the Steelers because he drops many passes, bitches at his QB, is afraid to go over the middle, and is a fucking pussy, but also because he acts like an idiot. I'd find it embarrassing a player on my team that has 6 TD's total this season goes to the sideline on week one and puts on a NFL HOF jacket. WHO DOES THIS GUY THINK HE IS? He's dreaming if he thinks he'll even sniff the HOF. The look on Oucho Fucko's face after it dawned on him he was a good 5 yards short of a 1st down on 4th and long last night was priceless. i also loved that whenever Carson Palmer misses a throw Johnson looks at him like he just killed his snake (he seems like the type with a pet snake...). Yet when Johnson drops passes, which is fairly often especially when he hears foot steps a comin', I don't see the same look on Palmers' face... I also love when Johnson and the Sand Man (Huhmanzada, I don't care to look up how to spell his name I fucking hate the guy, what's up with wearing a terrible towel before the game? Thanks for the money you fucking tool.) double team Palmer on the sidelines practically yelling at the guy. Palmer just has a look on his face to the extent of, "what the hell did I do to deserve this shit?" The inmates truly do run the asylum in Cinnci. Where are the coaches? Put a leash on this guy for christsakes. As the old saying goes, "act like you've been there before." I'll never forget when Anthony Smith made his 1st INT vs the Panthers last year and decided to high step it out of bounce. Dick LeBeau immediately came over and shook the shit out of him. At least someone still fucking get's it. I love Dick LeBeau, why isn't he in the HOF, he's only #8 on the all time INT list... Not to mention he came up with the zone blitz... yeah it's bullshit I know.

This is half the reason I've started to like hockey more than football over the past 2 seasons. In hockey no matter how spectacular the goal, the reaction typically involves one or multiple of the following: Fist pump, stick raise, team huddle celebration, banging on the glass, and/or some form of yelling. These could be more extreme with a game winning goal sure, but they don't touch anything that comes after the typical special teams tackle in the NFL. The best hockey player in the world never puts down opponents or celebrates like a fucking idiot after he bends the space time continuum to score. Not to mention Sidney Crosby has indeed been there many times before and will probably be there more times than anyone else before his career is over.

Is this a comment on the state of each game or rather the type / quality of people playing the sport, I can't really answer that. I couldn't even guess what public sentiment on the subject is either. I know some people do indeed find this shit "entertaining" or else ESPN wouldn't glorify it the way they do. If I had to guess it's probably split somewhere in the middle between both. I just thank God that the Steelers don't have anyone who acts like Ocho Stinko or TO because that is the day I say goodbye to football...

Monday, March 12, 2007


As Cosmo Kramer once said, "Here's to feelin' good all the time." I can't really describe how I'm feeling right now. I'm still in the middle of that test I posted about earlier and I know I'm going to be up all night cause I can't focus whatsoever right now. In case you don't know what I'm talking about KDKA and the PG have both reported a deal is done and will be announced before OUR Pens meet the Sabres tomorrow night at the Igloo. This is more of a relief than anything else. I can't wait to move back to the city from South Carolina in May. I can't wait to start my new job downtown. And most of all I can't wait to get my Pens season tickets next fall and be in the seats for all 41 home games watching every move Sid, Geno, and Jordan make. Along with every breathe taking save the Flower makes in goal. This has been a dark cloud over me all semester up until this point and I'm just so happy this is all over. I'll do a post on the specifics of the deal when they come available, but who cares right now!


Quick Update

Quick arena news update for anyone living under a rock since last Thursday.... Things went well, about as well as things could've gone with out announcement saying, "The deal is done." A joint statement was issued saying that significant progress was made and they would meet again this Wednesday. I heard that they wanted to meet sooner but some schedules wouldn't allow it. The Lemieux group was also suppose to meet with AEG over the weekend who runs the Sprint Center in KC and that didn't happen. AEG was supposedly "upset" over the progress made on Thursday (fucking blood suckers). Honestly what city builds an arena then tries to steal other cities teams, it's beyond me. I can't wait till KC either gets an expansion team so they suck and no one will go or they get the Preds from Nashville and people will stop going once this odd sport on ice loses its novelty.

Hopefully, this will all be over Wednesday. It better be over by my spring break or I just won't be able to enjoy myself on the cruise I'm going on. Anyway I have a delightful strategic management test to work on. I'll update after the meeting on Wednesday where hopefully we'll all have some good news. I could use some.

PS -- Thanks to Joey Porter's Pit Bulls for the link to my barely sensible rambling from last Thursday.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Bradenton Report

"The biggest mistake any team can make is to base decisions on what they see in spring training."

"The most meaningless month of the year in baseball is March."

These quotes sum up what can be learned from watching some spring training games. I couldn't agree more, however I just returned from Bradenton and thought I'd write up a report on the boys of summer.

My main focus during the trip was to check out McCutcheon and some of the young pitchers. I attended three Pirates games and went to Pirate City to watch some workouts every morning.

Sunday I arrived at Pirate City and viewed McCutcheon taking batting practice on one of the fields while the Pirates played a B game against the Reds. The team had McCutcheon in a hitting group that included Jack Wilson, Freddy Sanchez, Jason Bay, Xavier Nady, and Ronny Paulino. I view this as the team trying to get McCutcheon as much experience with the big guys as possible. So he sees the example that Bay and Wilson and Sanchez can provide as to what it takes to succeed in the major league. He sprayed balls acorss the field displaying his ability to go with a pitch or drive one depending on the situation. In the games McCutcheon looked fairly comfortable at the plate, displaying his good eye and speed in the field as he stole a few bases. He does not seem to be ready for the big leagues yet, but he is only 20 and one more season in the minor leagues can't hurt.

I watched Sean Burnett throw a bullpen session at Pirate City and then was brought into the game to pitch. I was standing behind some scouts with radar guns and Burnett rarely topped 88-89 on his fastball, but was solid with his changeup, which registered at 79-80. Burnett also looked shakey in the game, but got out of his inning with minimal damage. I don't think Burnett will be up with the team this year unless he can prove that he can stay consistent in spotting his fastball and proves he won't be flustered on the mound. I think he still has work to do until he breaks spring with the team.Yoslan Herrera also pitched for the Pirates in one game, and I was very excited to watch him throw. It is obvious that he hasn't pitched in a while, as his delivery was inconsistent, his delivery point kept changing, and he bounced a few pitches in front of the mound. I definitely think Herrera can help the Pirates in the future, but he definitely needs some time in the minors to become more consistent with his velocity and his control. His breaking pitch looked nasty and got a couple people to swing right through it. It was good to see what he has to offer and I hope we see him towards the end of this season or at the begining of the 2008 season.

LaRoche didn't show me much, but like I said earlier, it's only March. Duke and Snell both looked solid in the starts they made, with Snell striking out 7 in three innings, and Duke pitching a perfect 2 innings before giving up a few runs in Toronto. His fastball was popping the mitt, and was getting people on his curveball they he did in 2005. I look for Duke to have a rebound year and post 12-15 wins, 7-9 losses, with an ERA in the low 4's. I think his main focus should be getting out of the first inning this year without giving up runs. If Duke can do this he has a shot to be the leading pitcher on this team.

A scary event occured when Sanchez was rolled into by Rod Barajas of the Phillies. We heard he tore his ACL, but later was corrected to be a sprained knee. This raised the question as to whether or not Sanchez's legs could withstand playing second base. A top Pirates official was sitting next to me and seemed visibly angry that Sanchez was playing second due to the nature of the position and the possiblity of injury. However, today the Post-Gazette reported that the Pirates will not use Sanchez's injury to sway their decision of who our starting infield will be.

Overall I had a great time in sunny Florida, and hope to return next year. The Buccos still have lots of work to do and there still some spots open for players to make the team. Michael Ryan and Don Kelly were a big surprise as both started and got at least 2-3 at bats in all the games I went to. If the team is taking an extended look at them it will be a surprise, as Eldred and others are vying for a final roster spot. Until next time!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Is This It?

Are these the only penguins we are going to be seeing in Pittsburgh from now on? At the fucking zoo? Granted they are pretty damn cute, but I'll take Sid and the kids any day. OK, I'll admit it, I'm kind of worried. When the Pens said they'd come to an impasse in the negotiations on Monday, I was pretty fucking shocked. In fact I was so shocked I spit coffee all over my keyboard, mouse and screen. But really do I think the Pens are leaving, no (although I haven't been able to sleep at all since I heard the news and have been popping Ambien like M & M's).

The NHL, a niche league, which I'm relatively sure everyone can agree on (when hockey has a lower rating than womens softball I would call it a niche sport). A league on the second year after a debilitating lockout. How could they allow this to go this far? Pittsburgh is the US city with the 2nd biggest hockey fan base (next to Buffalo according to recent TV ratings). How could this league allow our team, which is supported to the tune of 96% attendance, leave for a place like KC when hockey is already struggling in other such nontraditional hockey markets (Nashville and Florida).

Having it be OUR TEAM is the biggest deal to me. This group of players is destined to win Stanley's Cup in the very short future. Our team has possibly the greatest player in the sport's (or any other sport for that matter) history playing for it as we speak. And don't think the NHL can weasel it's way back in a couple year from now with some shitty expansion team. Thanks, but no fucking thanks. That would be like someone coming into your home ripping the xbox360 from the TV and coming back in two year with a Nintendo. Not fucking cool. I won't go to a game the NHL and the "new" Penguins can go straight to Hell.

It seems the sides negotiating this fiasco have let their egos get the best of them. This deal just needs to get done. I'm sick of thinking about this. I'm sorry, I was going to outline the entire situation and bitch and give my opinion, but I'm really at my wits end here. It makes me feel ill thinking about our Pens leaving the city I love so much. I can't study, I can't focus on anything else right now. I'm pretty sure they won't leave, but I'm worrying myself sick none the less.

Thursday all parties plus Gary Betman the NHL Commissioner are meeting in Philly (ironic) to decide our team's fate. D-Day so to speak. I haven't prayed in a long time but it might be around that time. If you have time please call these number to give local poloticos and the NHL a view of what this feels like and what the fans are going through. PLEASE BE POLITE. Blowing up on someone's secretary will get you no where. The NHL office is especially nice. Threaten the politicians with your votes and support.

Dan Onorato - 412 350 6500
Ed Rendell - 717-787-2500
Ravenstahl - 412 255 2626

IF IN THE CITY OF PITTSBURGH PLEASE CALL THE MAYORS HOTLINE: 311 -- this is only for people in the city.

NHL Offices: (212) 789-2000


Friday, February 23, 2007

Cuban Linx

Today I'd like to take a more in-depth look at the two Cuban pitchers signed by the Pirates in the offseason, Yoslan Herrera, 26, and Serguey Linares, 23.

Littlefield and his crew decided to get involved in the international players market. The signing of Yoslan Herrera, Serguey Linares, and Masumi Kuwata(Japan), shows that the Pirates are willing to get into the foreign market, even if this is merely for show. I am hopeful that the signings of these two Cubans is a herald of good news for fans. The Pirates seriously lag behind other teams in scouting in Latin America and other parts of the world. If they are finally going to commit to signing some young Latinos, the Pirates will be able to replensish a depleted minor league system.

Lets look at Yoslan Herrera. Despite having not pitched for almost three years, Herrera is a very intriguing pitcher. He played in the 2004 Olympics and won a Gold Medal with the Cuban team. He is 6 foot 2, 200 pounds and throws a fastball(88-92), a plus split-finger, a changeup, a curveball, and a slider. Scouts say his velocity could jump to 90-94 once he gets into a consistent training and throwing program. Here are some quotes about Herrera.

"Herrera was nowhere near as hyped as Linares, but seemed to handle himself just fine in the tryout. His fastball was sitting between 90 and 92, and the DSL Devil Rays, who served as the whipping boys for this exhibition, were helpless against his breaking ball" - jhelfgott

"He throws strikes. That's the big thing. He has a lot of good pitches, but he knows how to locate them." Rene Gayo, scout who signed Herrera

Yoslan Herrera has the talent to play at the pro level, and will start the season, most likely, in AAA Indianapolis. He could be called up, however, if any starter or reliver goes down with an injury in the first part of the season. I expect him to be making an impact around August.

Next we will look at Serguey Linares. Linares, also a Cuban, is 23 and has been reported to throw his fastball from 97-98 miles per hour. He is six-foot-three 225 pounds, and also has sat out for sometime, a year, without pitching competitively. He will probably start the season at AA Altoona. Linares' numbers, 7-10 5.59 ERA in 37 games, with an 86/111 BB/K ratio in 162 2/3 innings. Not much else is know about this guy other than that he throws the ball very hard and very aggressively, and was the best and most highly touted Cuban pitcher at a workout in the Dominican Republic for Cuban defectors, also attended by Yoslan Herrera. Despite throwing bullets, he has little control of his pitches, unlike Herrera. However with a regular throwing schedule and Major League caliber coaches, he may be able to learn to harness his power and throw strikes.

To sum it all up, these two pitchers are low-risk, high-reward type players, and it is good to see the Pirates finally deposting money somewhere other than Nuttings bank account. I look forward to seeing how these guys progress, and I'm hopeful, to see them pitch in Pittsburgh sometime in the next few years. Linares is looked at with more reward since he is 3 years younger than Herrera, so look for him to break into the Majors in either 2008 or 2009. I would guess that Yoslan Herrera will start in AAA and could be up as soon as this season if he is successful and one of our starters goes down. But he will probably make his debut in either September, as a call-up, or in April of 2008.

3 Reasons to be Optimistic

I thought since we've had 14 years of negativity I would post my 3 reasons why we can be optimistic about this season. I will let you post the reasons to be pessimistic in the comments section.

1. The Pirates were over .500 in the second half of last season winning 35 games and losing 33. If they continue over from the end of last year, we should believe that they can play competitive baseball. The Pirates were also over .500 for the first time in the history of PNC Park. I don't mean to sound like .500 is the goal, however playing around .500 is good enough to fight to get into the playoffs as we've seen in the past few seasons. Making the playoffs is the goal, not playing .500.
2. The Pirates pitchers have progressed and Maholm, Duke, and Snell have all had a full season in the majors and learned what they need to do to be successful at the top level. Gorzelanny got some starts as well, and is a lock for a position in the rotation. If these pitchers all pitch the way we know they are capable of pitching, they could help lead the Pirates to a winning season.
3. The addition of Adam LaRoche to the lineup should provide some much needed pop to a flat offense. The Pirates were last in the league in runs scored per game last season and to be successful they must improve their offense. The addition of LaRoche, the continued development of our young players, and consistency from Bay and Sanchez should provide a boost to the offense.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Can we Win in These (or Anything for That Matter)?

I haven't wrote anything on the Rats since Bob and I have started this thing back up because I'm both obsessed with the Pens and Bob does quite a bit of writing on the Rats. Anyway I thought I should give my two cents on the state of the Pirates (and holy God look at those alternate jerseys I mean who could've possibly have come up with these. They are just as bad if not worse than the Braves alternates), now unquestionably the worst pro sports team in town!

Alright now let's get something straight right off the bat here, I by no means hate the Pirates. I call them the Rats, make fun of them constantly, and have little to no confidence in the team, but I still love them. I guess they are kind of like a girl that you really want to break up with but you just can't pull that trigger. I'm just fed up with the losing as everyone else is I'm sure, they are still however my favorite baseball team.

Ok let's check out the lineup Bob brought up a couple weeks back:

His Lineup
1.(L) Duffy CF
2.(R) Sanchez 2B
3.(R) Bay LF
4.(L) LaRoche 1B
5.(R) Nady RF
6.(R) Paulino C
7.(R) Bautista 3B
8.(R) Wilson SS

Tracy's Lineup
1.(L) Duffy CF
2.(R) Wilson SS
3.(R) Sanchez 3B
4.(L) LaRoche 1B
5.(R) Bay LF
6.(R) Nady RF
7.(R) Paulino C
8.(R) Castillo 2B

I'll be honest with you, I'm ready to hire Bob as the next Pirates skipper. I can't really understand Tracy's line-up. Jack Wilson just isn't a #2 hitter, Freddy Sanchez is. I have no clue why you wouldn't have our best hitter (Bay) in the 3 spot protected by our new power hitter (LaRoche) making teams afraid to walk Bay. Instead you have Nady behind him and frankly he's nothing an opposing manager is going to be afraid of. Overall the line-up does look better (despite the fucked order), although I think it really hinges on several things.

(1) Duffy has to be consistent and get his speed on the base paths. He is probably one of the faster major leaguers I've ever seen and that includes Jose Reyes.

(2) Jack Wilson has to find a happy medium between last years shit numbers and his all-star numbers from '05.

(3) Bay has to be protected and has to hit in the 3 or 4. To have the teams best hitter hitting in the 5 spot makes absolutely no sense (but let's face it Tracy is pretty goddamn good at making moves that make little sense).

(4) Castillo has to take a couple steps in the right direction. It looked like he was sleep walking through most of last year. I've heard the Manny Ramirez comparisons as far as personality goes with Jose and let's face it, he's no Man Ram so he sure as fuck doesn't get to act like the first Dominican space cadet . I'd pull the plug on him real early, if not in spring training if he doesn't
get off to a decent start. I have no problem seeing Bautista at 3B and Sanchez at 2B if Slow Poke Rodriguez can't cut it.

On to the rotation, where 4 out of the 5 spots are all but written in stone. Snell, Duke, Gorzelanny, and Maholm are our one through four starters. Frankly this is the only part of the team I'm Penguins level excited about. Seeing this staff mature and get better will be exciting to watch over the next several years (assuming they all stay...). Snell is looking the most promising in my opinion, towards the end of last season he seemed to have stuff no one could hit at times (I'm thinking of a game against the Mets but can't remember much else). As Bob commented a couple weeks ago Gorzelanny could mature into our ace this season, but I'm sticking with Snell (assuming he matures a bit more). Of course, we have to pray for rain on the fifth day with Armas bringing up the rear of the rotation.

The bullpen, despite the loss of our marquee closer Gonzo, is still in pretty good shape. Apparently the only thing the front office is really any good at is building a decent bullpen. Torres should be solid in the closer role (provided his arm doesn't fall off with all the innings he's been seeing the past couple seasons). Capps should be able to come in and be effective if Torres fails. We also signed notable head case Danny Kolb, who was lights out with the Brew Crew two years ago, but was about as good as the bird shit on my car last year with the Braves, so who knows about that guy.

And now to my favorite part of the team to rip on and the most frustrating by far. If you need any of my opinions on Jim "Dick" Tracy or
Littlefuck please check my posts from last summer. I hate both these guys. Bob and I could do a better job running the Pirates and the sick part is that I'm 100 % serial (you need to watch more South Park if you don't get the reference). They are both completely inept (save the Gonzo - LaRoche trade). Just compare the line-up Dick put out with the one that Bob and I both came up with immediately after the LaRoche trade without conferring with one another what so ever.

Anyway, my prediction for the upcoming year is 80 wins. Maybe we will get a winner next year?

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Neil Walker moves to third base

Dave Littlefield announced yesterday that top Pirates prospect Neil Walker will be playing third base exclusively in the upcoming season. There has been much talk of this move the past few seasons, and it seems many people were waiting for it. The move, apparently, is because Paulino is seen as the catcher of the future, and the belief is that by moving him to third, his bat will get to Pittsburgh sooner.

This move says a lot to Pirates fans. First, Ronny Paulino is seen by management as the long-term catcher. Secondly, it seems management believes that Walker can possibly make his debut in September of this season. Many have been waiting for this move for a couple seasons, and it comes as no surprise, as the Pirates are in desperate need of added offense. I am hopeful Walker can get on track and progress a bit faster than he has been.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Baseball is back

Pirates opened spring training today as the pitchers and catchers were due to report. The PG had an interesting fluff piece on Masumi Kuwata, the almost-over-the-hill Japanese pitcher the Bucs signed in the offseason. I guess this guy will end up playing in AAA for a while then either being brought up or traded. I don't think he will have any kind of impact on this team, positive or negative.

In other baseball news, Bonds has finally signed with the Giants. Big contract just to see him break Aaron's record. Either way Bonds has finally dropped to page 2 news. I expect that to last until he hits his first dinger and the countdown starts in the media.

Vi ses!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Spring Training Approaches

Spring training is set to begin Thursday with pitchers and catchers reporting to Bradenton. The first workout is scheduled for Friday. With the season fast approaching there are still many questions to answer in the Buccos quest to reach the playoffs for the first time since 1992.

1. Which of the Joses, Bautista or Castillo, will be in the lineup on opening day? It appears that it is Castillo's job to lose. Bautista, who plays all positions but pitcher and catcher, will have the chance to steal the starting job at 3B which would switch Freddy to 2B. A few years back I was one of those who believed that Castillo and Wilson would make the next great double-play combo, yet with Castillo's disappointing progress as a pro has placed Bautista ahead on my depth chart. By the end of ST we shall see who will be starting. Prediction: Castillo at second.

2. Who will be the fifth starter? Since the Bucs signed Tony Armas, it would appear that he and Shawn Chacon will be the primary candidates for this job. Both have similar numbers, salaries, age, and stuff. Chacon pitched decently for the Pirates towards the end of the season, but nothing spectacular. Prediction: Armas will be the 5th starter, with Chacon hitting the bullpen for long relief duties. If Chacon performs well I would expect him to be traded by the deadline.

3. Will Freddy Sanchez stay consistent? I'm not looking for him to hit .344 again, but with his approach to the plate, his good plate discipline, and work ethic, hitting over .320 isn't a stretch. I would expect him to score at least 100 runs this season with Bay and LaRoche behind him. Prediction: .329avg 5hr 75rbis 108 runs.

4. Will Snell, Duke, Gorzelanny, and Maholm continue to show improvement? Snell had to have been the big surprise last season out of the starters, and looks like he has solidified himself as the opening day starter, unless Tracy has other ideas. Duke, Snell, and Maholm all had their first full season last year and it looks like they were all learning, not to just throw, but learning how to pitch. Still, Snell must learn how to get left handed hitters out and possibly get a better grip on his changeup. If Duke is able to cut down on first inning runs, he looks to improve his record from last season. Maholm showed poise in the second half and if he continues could win more than he loses. Gorzelanny has the most promise out of the four, but is also the youngest. If he shows the improvement that Snell has shown and the growth that Duke and Maholm have gone through, he may be our ace next in 2008. Prediction: Snell 15-8 4.50 ERA, Duke 12-8 3.95 ERA, Maholm 12-10 4.79 ERA, Gorzelanny 9-9 4.10 ERA.

Until next week when baseball will have begun....

Friday, February 02, 2007

Tony Armas Signed

The Pirates and right-handed starting pitcher Tony Armas have agreed to a deal which will pay the 28 year old $3 million this season with a mutual option of $5 million in 2008. Pirates GM Dave Littlefield promised earlier this week on the Junker and Crow Show to sign a RH starter before the beginning of spring training. This will add some competition in February and March to the rotation. Chacon and Armas will both be in contention for the fifth spot. Interestingly enough, Chacon's $3.8 million contract isn't guaranteed. If the Pirates' brass decide to go with Armas, they can buy Chacon out for $600,000. This isn't likely, as Littlefield has reiterated that they will use the left-over pitcher as a long reliever.
Armas has had some injury trouble in the past and missed almost two seasons before making a comeback last year. The Pirates are hopeful that Armas can finally come into his own in Pittsburgh and fight for a starting spot. He has never been a dominant pitcher, but he has eight years under his belt, and a nice sinking fastball which can be a plus pitch if he is able to throw it down in the zone with consistency. My take on this is that having more competition can only be a good thing. If there are four guys competing for a starting job, they will have to work harder and try just a little more to win that spot. And if Pirates management makes clear that their starting job is conditional and based on success, the pitchers will have to work. It's pure capitalism, the more competition, the better it is for the consumer.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Pirates Top Ten Prospects....Pirates sign Armas Jr?

Former first round pick Andrew McCutchen was selected by John Perroto as the Pittsburgh Pirates' #1 prospect. Perroto writes the report for Baseball America each season. This is good news for Pirates fans, as McCutchen, a center fielder, is likely to get his first cup of coffee with the big club in September. McCutchen is reported to be a plus in every category, save his throwing arm. He hits for average, power, drives in runs, steals bases, has Gold Golve potential in his fielding, and is a smart player. He is projected to start the season at AA Altoona, where he played the final few weeks last season. Chances are he will be playing in the Futures Game in July with a possible jump to AAA if he continues to be consistent and shows signs of development. People within the Pirates organization have stated he is further along in his development than they expected him to be when the drafted him.
Coming in at number two on the list is catcher Neil Walker. Walker has disappointed some with his slow progression through the minor leagues and will begin this season, like all of the Pirates decent prospects, in Altoona. Walker is intriguing, as he hits from both sides of the plate with enough power potential to belt 30+ home runs a year. His defensive progression has disappointed some, and there has been talk of moving him to the outfield or third base. This seems likely due to the durability and consistency of big league catcher Ronny Paulino.
Third on the list is the Pirates 2006 first round draft pick Brad Lincoln. At six foot tall Lincoln is considered short for a pitcher, however he has the leg strength to power the ball up to 97 mphs. He sits in the low ninties with a plus curve and plus 2 seam fastball. Lincoln started out with the GCL Pirates before being promoted to the low-A Hickorey team. He then proceeded to get hurt, which sounds an awful lot like many of the Pirates former "prospects". Lincoln, though, projects as a top of the rotation starter. He is projected to begin the season at High A ball but should be with the AA Altoona Curve shortly after the start of the season.
After the top three prospects we have Yoslan Herrera at four, Josh Sharpless at five, Steven Pearce at six followed by Brian Bixler, Brad Corley, Todd Redmond and Mike Felix. Read the report to find more information about the rest of these guys as some are old and some you've already read about.
This brings me to my point. All of our "prospects" this year will no doubt be playing together in AA for almost the entire season. Some of these fellows will be promoted to the major leagues together, and some have already played together. The main prospects I'm speaking of are McCutchen, Brad Lincoln, and Neil Walker. These three should all reach the big leagues around the same time, and they will have been playing together for at least a season before this. I hope to see McCutchen before the rest, but if Lincoln develops as he is projected, our rotation in 2009 could be Lincoln, Snell, Duke, Gorzelanny, Maholm. It is encouraging to know that Maholm will be a fifth starter, since he has all the capabilities to be a fourth starter, and everyone knows how hard it is to find a fifth starter.
In other news, is reporting the Pirates have signed Tony Armas Jr. to a contract, nothing has been specified as of yet.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


Well Sidney as done something as inhuman as I've seen so far in his career. That goal on Sunday (check it out on the Pens web site if you haven't seen it) was incredible, just absolutely jaw dropping. Talks concerning the arena are suppose to continue this week, hopefully all the assholes involved (in my eyes no one is is exempt at this point) will iron something out so I don't have to think about this bull shit anymore. I'm still very confident that they will stay, but just the thought of the Pens leaving the city makes me sick. I honestly don't know what my reaction would be if they moved. I'd probably sit in my bed and cry like a little bitch, but who really knows.

Mike Tomlin has decided to keep Dick LeBeau and therefore keep the 4-3 defense we all love so much. Frankly I'm pretty surprised, I thought he'd go with what he's been running since being in the NFL, but I guess he knows a good thing when he sees it. After watching the news conference and the coaching decisions he's made so far, I think this was a good move. Young, fresh blood, but he isn't going to rock the boat too much. Also The biography on the Post-Gazette web site was sterling to say the least. Hope everyone had a good weekend.

Sunday, January 21, 2007


Honestly, I didn't see this coming at all. First I thought the Whiz was a lock when this thing first got started, then I naturally thought Grimm was going to get it. Well I have some grim news for him (bad pun I know), after first reported mid afternoon yesterday that Mike Tomlin is going to be hired by our Pittsburgh Steelers, denied any of this was going on, then by about 10 at night espn was reporting it was only a matter of time before an announcement from the Steelers making Tomlin their 3rd head coach in 38 years.

Well let's get right to it, I really didn't think that the Steelers would hire a black coach. I don't have any problem with it at all of course but I just didn't think they would do it. Even though the rule that forces all NFL teams to interview at least one minority candidate is called the Rooney rule, I just didn't think they would take this young guy, that has a defensive philosophy that is completely different than our current one. This would completely disrupt everything that has been building up over the past several years. I don't know really what they are thinking especially when we still had a decent defense this year. I thought it was a good move however hiring young again (he's the same age as Cowher when we hired him). I guess we'll just ahve to put our faith in the Rooney's on this one. Let's hope they've made the right decision.

On a hockey note, I really hope everyone was watching what the Pens did to the Leafs last night. Not only did we win 8-2, but we absolutely dominated the power play (and we are in a 3 way tie for the 8th playoff spot). Our PP last night consisted of Crosby, Malkin, Staal, Rec, and Gonchar. If that isn't one of the better power play line-ups in the league I don't what would be. We were 5-10 on PP which is incredible considering how we've struggled with the power play at times this season. We dominated the entire game: Sid had 1 goal and 2 assists, Rec had 3 goals and 1 assist and Malkin has 5 assists. I haven't seen us dominate a team that isn't from Philthadelphia for a while and it sure put a good taste in my mouth know at the all-star break we do in fact have a playoff spot (and I don't think anyone would want to play us in the playoffs, the only team that I think is truely better than we are is Buffalo).

Anyway enjoy the Championship games today my picks are the Aints and the Colts.

UPDATE -- It's official, Tomlin is the next Steelers coach. Does this mean a house cleaning? This should effect our drafting though considering we will probably switch to a 4-3. Probably means we will draft a defensive tackle.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Saturday Morning Inspection

As I sit here on a cold (44 degrees, which is cold for South Carolina, yes I know they are babies) Saturday morning waiting to have my room inspected, I can't help but thank god I grew up in a sports town like Pittsburgh. Down here in Charleston, South Carolina where I am (thank god) spending my last semester at The Citadel, people from around here follow two sports mainly: college football and baseball. Now, I don't have anything against college football, but when a true "champion" isn't crowned, doesn't it really take away from the whole league? Both my parents went to the University of Oklahoma so I root for them and I take a casual observation in Pitt and root for them, but I could really give a damn about college football to be honest with you. It's such a corrupt, money making business at this point that it really just takes away from the games. That's why there hasn't been a playoff system installed yet. It's just insane to think that college football is literally the ONLY sport I know of that doesn't have some sort of playoff system.

This brings me to an idea and I don't really know if this is legal or viable or anything like that. Would it be possible to make some sort of semi-pro league for kids out of high school. They play for three years then can go pro. No illusion of class. No more bull shit talk about the so called student athlete, it's all bull shit. All these kids get handed whatever they want as soon as they step on campus. This would allow the college game to return to the purity we once saw and also allow these big time college athletes to get some money together thus increasing their shelf life. It's not like players have a big window to make their dollars in, they should take advantage of it. I could really see this league taking off too. you could have the first game of the season immediately after the Super Bowl. Put teams in cities where the NFL is wildly popular (Pittsburgh, Green Bay, ect.), give these kids money management classes and advisers before they receive their first play check. Most these kids have no formal classes with financing or things of that nature which sets them up to be screwed later on. I think that is the biggest injustice colleges are doing to their big time going-pro athletes, not getting them ready for what they are actually going to be doing, throwing/catching/running the ball on Sundays.

Anyway... like I said, Pittsburgh, great sports town. These people down here honestly have no clue what they are missing not being in a reasonably big sports market. All they hang on to is the Clemson Tigers (one national championship in 1981, 0 Heisman Trophy winners), South Carolina Game Cocks (what the fuck is a game cock anyway, and I hate all the jackasses down here that wear the bar hats with just COCKS on it and think its hilarious. Complete total jerk-offs. 0 National Championships 1 Heisman Trophy winner) and the Atlanta Braves (well they've clearly been better than the Pirates lately but they are honestly over 300 miles away how can you really claim them. The best story I have about that is I was talking to my buddy Kevin from home on the phone about the start of the baseball season and my friend Joe from down here was ripping on the Pirates and naturally I told Kev about it and he simply said, "Why don't you remind Joe the entire state of South Carolina is too poor to support a professional sports team." and you know what he's right). People down here also love to claim the Panthers because they are the Carolina Panthers. Well bad fucking news, they play in Charlotte which last time I checked was in North Carolina. They played their first season in Clemson's stadium, the town that Clemson is in could never support a pro team. i would like to see the attendance from that first year, I promise it's awful.

Anyway, this Marine is here now and he's screaming at me to stop typing, so have a good weekend. I'll attempt to get to the only hockey bar in town tonight to watch the Penguins battle the Leafs to move up another spot. God I hate this state.

Friday, January 19, 2007

LaRoche deal finalized.

The deal that brought Adam LaRoche to Pittsburgh in return for Mike Gonzalez was finalized today. The Pirates send Gonzalez and minor league SS prospect Brent Lillibridge to the Braves for Adam LaRoche and 21 year old OF prospect Jamie Romak. Calling Romak, or Lillibridge for that matter, a prospect may be a stretch. Lillibridge had quite a fine season last year in A-ball, however he was playing against fellows 2-4 years his junior. Lillibridge, some say, has the talent to be a decent major league SS, however his age(23) and position at AA put him at a slight disadvantage. He went to college yet hasn't made it out of A ball yet. Romak is the same story, but plays in the OF.

Since this deal was announced a few days ago, the main talk surrounding the deal has been the Pirates lineup to start the '07 season. A few days ago I posted our projected lineup without any outside influence. After that I read that Jim Tracy asked Jason Bay if he would mind leaving the cleanup spot to make way for LaRoche. Bay, being the gentleman he is, replied that he is just happy to have a spot and will hit anywhere in the lineup. Today I will give you my revised lineup against what Tracy believes it should be.

My Lineup
1.(L) Duffy CF
2.(R) Sanchez 2B
3.(R) Bay LF
4.(L) LaRoche 1B
5.(R) Nady RF
6.(R) Paulino C
7.(R) Bautista 3B
8.(R) Wilson SS

Tracy's Lineup
1.(L) Duffy CF
2.(R) Wilson SS
3.(R) Sanchez 3B
4.(L) LaRoche 1B
5.(R) Bay LF
6.(R) Nady RF
7.(R) Paulino C
8.(R) Castillo 2B

I don't know if anyone else catches the problem I see with Tracy's lineup - that by moving Bay, The Pirates best hitter, to the 5th spot he will lose many precious at-bats season to Jack Wilson and Chris Duffy over the course of a season, which is no good. Bay, Sanchez and LaRoche need to get more at bats than Duffy and Wilson, however Duffy, with his speed, will hit lead-off no matter what.

Traditional baseball tells you that your best hitter should hit in the 3 spot, behind two hitters who have high OBP's. With Wilson and Duffy hitting 1 and 2 respectively the Pirates will have two of their lowest OBP's batting in front of Sanchez, who has a fairly respectable OBP. By sending Jack down to the 8 hole, it creates the opportunity for more men to be on base in front of LaRoche and Bay. Duffy will have to lead off no matter with our lineup, so by placing Freddy, who had a .378 OBP last season, and then Bay(.396 OBP) the Pirates will have two batters with over .375 OBP in front of LaRoche who can then hit a homerun(I wish it was that easy). In any case I believe Tracy would be making a huge mistake by dropping Bay to 5th. Moreover, in the past few years we have heard nothing but talk from the management about finding a bat to protect Bay, and now that we have it we're gonna use Bay to protect him. I think that the lineup I offered will produce more runs than Tracy's, but hey- I'm not the manager....he is.
Jim "Ron Howard" Tracy as a young man.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Best Thing Since...

Well it seems we've done almost everything except gift wrap our city's most promising sports team to those rat bastards in KC (where hockey has already failed). The whole slots license thing went exactly how everyone thought it would (with the exception of Harrah's reach around proving ineffective and the casino being on the North Shore and not Station Square). But it seems as though talks between Pittsburgh's Most Wanted (the Penguin Rendell and the Joker Onorato) and the Lemieux Group are moving along and are said to be "promising". For the record, I was never really worried about the Pens leaving, our attendance the last two years has been phenomenal, although I'd be out for blood if the Pens move.

I am about to graduate college at the age of 22 which is scary , but I couldn't imagine playing in the NHL or any other professional league. Yet I can confidently say that 4of our best players are all younger than I am. Sidney Crosby, Geno Malkin, Jordan Stall, and Marc-Andre Fleury are all very special players to the point that I have to remind my self of their ages every time I see them play, but especially Sidney . I mean no one has come close to being this good this young in any sport. He is hands down the best player on the ice every night and he hasn't even peaked yet, not even close. The game is just different when he is out there. Some of the plays he makes are just mind boggling to even watch. When trying to explain who Sidney Crosby is to people in this neck of the woods (the South) where they know absolutely nothing about the sport (yet still have more teams than Canada, but thats for a different post) I really just can't explain it. I try to say he's Michael Jordan, but he's far too unselfish to be MJ. I guess you could compare him to someone like Barry Sanders or maybe LaDainian Tomlinson, but that isn't close to right either. Sidney Crosby is the most talented athlete I've seen play any sport hands down, the only thing I can confidently compare him to is someone like Motzart (only he was 5 when he wrote his first piece of music). The only players from his sport you can possibly compare him to are Lemieux and Gretzky. I've seen both them play, granted I couldn't appreciate their primes, and Sid is going to be better. In my opinion he is more complete than both were right now. No one has done what Sidney does on the ice. It honestly makes me giddy just to see him skate around in the offensive zone with the puck because it could go anywhere. It honestly wouldn't surprise me if he did a jumping 360 to get by a defenseman, oh wait.... If you haven't seen him play in person yet you have to go see him. I can't think of another athlete I've seen that I can say with absolute certainty that I will tell my unborn (thank god) children about, oh wait he'll still be playing when my kids are 10. It's just insane to think this 19 year old kid is dominating a sport where players peak in their late 20's / early 30's, and he is 20.

Thing about it is he just doesn't impress me when he has the puck, he plays all 200 feet of the ice equally as hard. He's gritty as fuck too. When he got speared in the last game against the Islanders by Jason Blake (who's also an all-star, so that should make for an interesting locker room...), he got up and started to scream, "Your fucking dead.... DEAD." I felt chill rush over me when that happened. I was terrified, yet was smirking like an idiot. Some how he got a penalty on the play and not Blake, go figure. Also in the Saturday game again Philthadelphia, Zhitnik (fucking communist btw, check out his home country) cross checked Sidney in the neck, Sid just got up and screamed at him and he, once again, got a penalty. My frist concern is that the refs aren't doing enough to protect the only thing the NHL has going for it at this point and my second more alarming concern is that no one from the Pens decked this Cossack piece of shit when it happened. I was foaming at the mouth when it happened (in fact my buddy Wes from DC I was watching the game with stated, "I'm betting you'll have your first Pittsburgh sports related heart attack at 33 and the sad part is he's probably right...). I was listening to the game online on Tuesday and I guess someone got Blake for the assault but still. If I were Brooksy or Max Talbot I would KILL that mother fucker. Seeing us get so chippy with Philthadelphia was great though. I'm all for hiring one of the Hanson brothers to shadow Sid around the ice and drop anyone who goes near him. Now that would be entertaining.

LaRoche for Gonzalez

Pending physicals by both men, Adam LaRoche, LH firstbaseman, has been traded to the Pirates for LHRP Mike Gonzalez. This trade solidifies one position that Littlefield and his team have been trying to attain for nearly 3 seasons. The addition of a lefthanded "power" hitter to the Pirates lineup adds some much needed protection for our other hitters as well as a deep threat considering PNC Park's short right field porch.

The lineup projects to be as follows:

1. (L) Duffy CF
2. (R) Wilson SS
3. (R) Sanchez 3B
4. (R) Bay LF
5. (L) LaRoche 1B
6. (R) Nady RF
7. (R) Paulino C
8. (R) Castillo 2B
9. P

The Pirates have added one lefty to our previous total of one. This is still a problem for us. Our lack of left handed hitting will continue to be a problem this year, but LaRoche gives us a valuable piece we've been looking for for quite some time.

I also couldn't help but notice we have one of the whitest teams in baseball, I'm sure thats just coincidence though.

In other news Craig and I will be posting again as Spring Training is almost underway and the Buccos have FINALLY made a move thats worth talking about.

Rising From the Ashes...

Well, Bob and I both know it has been a while since our last posts. In Bob's case it is due to the end of the baseball season and the lack of activity on the part of the Pirates. In my case it was due to being away from the city, the Steelers awful season, and not being able to watch every Pens game. But now that Bob is excited for the upcoming baseball season (why wouldn't he be) and that I feel the need to comment on the ending of one era, the start of a golden one, and the possible seeds for another. From here on out Bob and I both promise to post with the frequency and vigor of this summer. We also pledge to entertain the 14 bored people at work who enjoy our ramblings.