Archive for the ‘MLB’ Category
My friend Dave and I had a GChat conversation about the upcoming Pirates/Astros series, agreeing that it’s definitely going to be the annual “Pirates could take 2 of 3 here and get to .500″-seeming series that the Pirates will definitely, DEFINITELY blow.
Rather than summarize our soon-to-be-painfully-accurate points, I’ve just copied and pasted the GChat conversation in its entirety, because I am a hard worker:
Dave: we’ve got 3 home games against Houston
and there’s no reason not to think we could be .500 by next Monday
above .500 i meant
Me: letdown time?
its a layup
Me: I think you’re right
Wandy Rodriguez / Bud Norris first two games
there’s 18 Ks
Dave: I could see that absolutely
both K guys
Me: then JA Happ who they should beat but something will fuck up
two lefties too, so might be some Brandon Wood 3B action
god, Wood or Pedro vs Wandy Rodriguez is like 99% chance of K either way
Dave: if things go as planned, they’ll drop the first, then win the second and Happ should be shoe-in for .500
and they’ll drop that one 5 – 1
haha ya it is man
and they’ll get a run off Happ in the first, leave two on base
then he’ll go six innings
and someone who I make fun of in the Houston lineup will have a three run double
like Geoff Blum or something
Dave: i mean its almost as easy as figuring out the plot to a romantic comedy
run off happ in the first is PERFECT
almost like a dude accidentally sneezing on the stranger woman he’s about to fall in love with in the standard rom com
Dave: as an added teaser to this bet, I’ll lay odds that it will be a ‘beautiful day for baseball’ on sunday
75 and sunny
Me: and a good PNC Park turnout
Dave: they’ll get a nice crowd
Me: there is no doubt this is happening
save this convo
Dave: i’ll have my assistant log it
jot this down
Dave: “Got it… 1 – 1 split, lotta K’s, big crowd…. umm sorry was it supposed to be good weather on Sunday or a good crowd??”
“BOTH PAM, BOTH!!!”
Dave: i want my role to be played by ed asner
Sorry I haven’t updated on here in a while, I was only SPENDING TIME WITH MY FAMILY FOR THE HOLIDAYS SO BACK OFF YOU VULTURES!!! I NEED SPACE! I’m not a LOVELESS BLOGGING MACHINE!
Ehrm, sorry about that. I’m a loveless blogging machine and sometimes my machine parts malfunction. But my Apolo-Tron 9000 is kicking in and telling you humans that I am sorry for my behavior and or actions.
Anyway, I wrote an article about the Pirates’ dismal offseason for SB Nation Pittsburgh. Go there. Read it. Be like “‘Salright.” Thanks, you!
Freddy Sanchez was a super-likable presence during his time with the Pirates, coming in as a blocked Red Sox prospect, not getting a chance to play regularly in the majors until he turned 27, and ultimately willing himself into the Pirates’ lineup by outhitting Joe Randa then converting to second base and posting a string of reliably productive seasons. His oft-mentioned batting title in 2006 is one of the few tiny hooks the Pirates of the 2000s can hang their tiny hats on, and even when his production dipped in ’08, Sanchez remained extremely well-liked by the Pirates fanbase, and rebounded slightly in 2009 before being dealt to the Giants at the 2009 trade deadline, two months before his contract expired.
Sanchez overcame early injury problems in 2010 to post a decent season for the eventual NL West champs, and last night, in his first-ever World Series game, Sanchez went 4-for-5 with 3 RBI and 2 runs scored in the Giants’ 11-7 victory. It was a truly transcendent, feel-good night for fans of the terrific ballplayer and person that we loved in Pittsburgh, and seeing him finally get a chance to shine on baseball’s biggest stage was truly satisfying.
At least, that’s what I thought. Apparently, most of my friends who don’t follow the Pirates were absolutely outraged by Sanchez’s performance last night, and I slapped my forehead pink watching Facebook post after Facebook post appear that ripped on the Pirates for letting Freddy Sanchez go because management is dumb and cheap and never changes and let a World Series HERO slip away. I wrote several paragraph-length responses to these Facebook posts but never posted them, like some depressed ex-boyfriend fighting my drunkenness long enough to discard the email I was about to send my now-engaged former girlfriend.
Let’s clear up three things about Freddy Sanchez’s performance in Game One:
It’s a slow time of year for Pirates news (the World Series usually is), but in a rare moment of inspiration, someone on a BucsDugout comment thread yesterday was listing the Pirates’ projected 2011 starting lineup, beginning with Jose Tabata in Left Field.
They accidentally forgot a space between “Tabata” and “LF”, though, thus unleashing, for the first time…
Spent 15 minutes Photoshopping that last night at 1 am instead of, I don’t know, getting sleep, or reading some classic literary masterpiece or raising $2 for cancer research. I’m not liking my chances for the 2010 World’s Most Useful Human Award. Mayyyybe 2011.
As expected, the Pirates officially fired manager John Russell on Monday. While I’ve already argued that firing Russell was an absolute necessity for the Pirates this offseason, let’s read the Associated Press article about his firing, just to bask in its objective, non-judgmental, factual reporting:
PITTSBURGH — He didn’t make the trades or strip the major league roster of so many proven players. In the end, John Russell’s resume will always include 299 losses in three seasons, and that was way too many, even for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
While Russell was fired, general manager Neal Huntington was retained despite making a succession of poor trades and questionable moves that have left the Pirates with one of the majors’ least-talented teams — a pattern that began long before either arrived in Pittsburgh.
Wait, I thought this was an AP News article about the Pirates firing manager John Russell. How did unsubstantiated slams against Neal Huntington’s “poor trades” work their way into this?
Russell’s first team in 2008 was competitive until midseason, when the franchise — eager to stockpile a talent-bereft farm system — began dealing away or cutting productive players such as Jason Bay, Xavier Nady, Freddy Sanchez, Jack Wilson, Nate McLouth, Adam LaRoche, Matt Capps, John Grabow, Tom Gorzelanny, Ian Snell, Sean Burnett and Nyjer Morgan. Also traded was 2010 major league home run leader Jose Bautista during a two-year roster purge.
Wha…a… wh… wh…… whaaaa…. waaa aaaa..
[PASSES OUT FOR 10 MINUTES. GETS UP. REREADS PARAGRAPH. PASSES OUT AGAIN. GETS UP ONE HOUR LATER. TOSSES BACK THREE WHISKEY SHOTS. TAKES DEEP BREATH.]
Let’s clear up some things:
Despite their 7-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals Tuesday night, the Pirates have officially clinched the #1 overall pick in next year’s MLB Entry Draft.
Neal Huntington, always one to offer concise, super-literal quotes for any occasion, offered this super-literal quote:
“We’ve had two No. 2s already and, in our minds, it’s no different except that we’re able to pick out the guy we want a little earlier than usual.”
Well said! That is a literal fact that is true.
When asked about who the Pirates’ closer will be in 2011, Huntington replied, “In our minds, the 9th inning is no different than the 8th except it happens 9th and the game ends after it.”
He then added, “I’m looking forward to a busy October, which in our minds is no different than September except it happens one month later and also Halloween happens in it.”
In light of Dejan Kovacevic’s damning piece on the Pirates’ historically awful 2010 campaign today, as well as this well-argued John Russell post on Bucs Dugout, I believe now is as good a time as any to state what seems like an increasingly inevitable conclusion: The Pirates cannot retain John Russell as their manager into 2011.
Personally, I have long been of the opinion that a manager in baseball has little to no tangible effect on a team’s record — managers in baseball aren’t comparable to NFL head coaches, who are universally instrumental in the building and development of their franchises as well as their players’ in-game performances, or NHL coaches, who can will a decent team to exceptional performance with defensive schemes and tactical inspiration (See: 2009-10 Phoenix Coyotes). To me, baseball managers exist to manage the personalities of an MLB clubhouse over the course of a 162-game grind, to manage playing time and pitchers’ innings properly, and to make minor in-game tactical decisions. When a manager has been given a team like the 2010 Pirates to work with, there’s simply not much they can do to affect the win column on a daily basis.
That being said, when a team like the Pirates is projected to win between 70-74 games by various neutral preseason statistical simulations (their Vegas Over/Under was 71 wins), and they’re currently on pace to come in between 53 and 54 wins, then clearly, even by the Pirates’ minuscule capabilities coming into this season, they have vastly underachieved. I’m not blaming the failures of the Pirates’ pitching staff or of Huntington’s reclamation projects directly onto Russell, nor am I even really blaming their record on Russell, but put quite simply, when a team performs as across-the-board terribly as the Bucs have this year, it’s impossible to argue that the manager’s effect on the team — even if it’s extremely minor or even nonexistent — has been a positive one.
The fact that managers are so replaceable in MLB is all the more reason why firing Russell and heading into 2011 with a fresh start makes such obvious sense. I’m certainly not arguing that another manager could’ve made the 2010 Bucs competitive, but I simply don’t see why the Pirates wouldn’t take the extremely rudimentary step of hiring a new manager for 2011 to get a fresh voice into the clubhouse and make a clean break from a season of legendary futility. No matter how often we fall back on the “this specific thing isn’t Russell’s fault” argument, at this painful juncture, I cannot imagine what negatives could possibly result from the Pirates bringing in a new manager, provided he doesn’t, say, suplex Jose Tabata or something.
I posted a lot of these thoughts in more detail on this Bucs Dugout thread, which I’ve posted after the jump — sorry for the lazy copy-paste approach, but I already resent the amount of energy I expound analyzing the Pirates on a daily basis, and I have no interest in doubling that amount:
The Pirates lost their 82nd game over the weekend, officially clinching their 18th straight losing season, an unprecedented achievement across all major North American sports leagues.
While the clinching game was in itself completely academic, as this streak-clinching season was foreseeable from about the time Phantom Menace hit theaters, I mention the milestone only so I can relay this quote from my friend Matt Little:
“On the plus side, the Pirates’ losing streak can now legally buy pornography”