Tagged: pittsburgh pirates

Tough Choices for ROTY

The Rookie of the Year race this year was as close as can be in both leagues. In the National League it could have gone four ways and in the American League I think it was totally up for grabs. Marlins’ outfielder, Chris Coglan, took the award in the NL and in the AL, it was A’s closer Andrew Bailey bringing home the award.

Let’s begin with the AL and here is how my ballot would have gone:

First place vote: Andrew Bailey
Second: Rick Porcello
Third: Elvis Andrus

porcello.jpgWhen I initially thought AL ROTY, my first instinct was Porcello, who was solid for most of the season. Although by the end of the year, he only had the fourth best ERA in his starting rotation (behind Justin Verlander, Edwin Jackson, and Jarrod Washburn) and it was 3.96. His strikeout numbers weren’t that great and he had a bad June and July. He is a groundball pitcher who will have success in this league but he won’t overpower anybody. This isn’t a knock on him, but expect a Derek Lowe type career from him.

And I see better things coming for both Elvis Andrus and Andrew Bailey. The reason I have Andrus third is because, with a .267 average, I’m not sure how much love you’re going to get. However he does have a solid glove and huge upside, the kid is only 21.

But Bailey flew under the radar all throughout the season and even at the end of the season, the casual fan still probably couldn’t tell you he was tearing it up in Oakland. The A’s weren’t all too great this year and they played in the western time zone so it makes a little sense if you didn’t know who the kid was. But the kid is electric. To go along with his 1.84 ERA, he struck out 91 batters in 83.1 innings. He was 26 for 30 in save oppurtunities and he didn’t get his first two saves until May and didn’t blow any saves after June 16.  Talk about finding his place. It wasn’t that long ago that another A’s closer won ROTY as well, when Huston Street did it in 2005.

For the NL, it was a tough one and it really could have gone either way but here’s what I would have put down:

First: JA Happ
Second: Chris Coghlan
Third: Tommy Hanson

It was so close that I think I may have needed some hometown bias in this one. But really, Happ lead the Phillies starters in ERA, on a staff that includes a few All Star caliber pitchers. He threw two complete game shutouts, as a rookie, in the National League. He was the most reliable Phillies starter this season and always kept the team in the game. He knows how to pitch and he disguises his pitches well and he sure has a rotation spot locked up for next season.

 But Coghlan won the award, who was equally as impressive this year, he barely beat out happ by 11 votes. He really came into his own in the second half this year after being called up mid-season. He is a true leadoff hitter as he was mentioned in many sentences this season with Hall of Famers and All Stars today regarding his hit totals. He drives the ball to all fields and takes a decent approach at the plate. He’s the tablesetter that Hanley Ramirez and Jorge Cantu needed. Congrats to him for winning the award.
coghlan.jpgAlthought however, Tommy Hanson and Andrew McCutchen fell farther back than I thought they would. I thought that this race was going to be a lot closer. Tommy Hanson has some dirty stuff and if he can avoid injury will post huge strikeout numbers in his career. The Braves are sure to have one of the best rotations in the league next year and Hanson will be a big part of that. Then there’s McCutchen who is a five tool player that, at the rate the Pirates are at now, will trade him for more three decent-but-nothing-special Double-A players sometime in the next few years. Kidding of course. The Buccos know they need to hang on to this kid if they ever want to be good in the next twenty years.

I’m expecting all four of these guys to have great careers.

The AL Cy Young announcement is tomorrow, I’m expecting it to be Zack Greinke. No one else is really too close. Then the Manager of the Year announcement is on Wednesday. Jim Tracy is going to run away with the NL while Mike Scioscia and Ron Gardenhire are my co-winners in the AL.

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Stadium Resume

After a exciting, yet dissapointing, series in Pittsburgh that I’d rather not blog about due to frustration, I’ll give you all the stadiums I’ve been to.

Just a quick note on the Fightins. Hopefully they can start scoring with runners in scoring position. Last night they should have put the Pirates away in the first inning with the bases loaded and no outs. It is frustrating to watch and that leaves JA Happ with no room for error. Other than Garrett Jones’ rainmaker, he pitched very nicely, just as he has been all season long. Right now I am about 50/50 as to who I’d pick for NL Rookie of the Year between Happ and Tommy Hanson in Atlanta.
happ.jpgHopefully they score some runs on the Braves and get some solid pitching tonight from Pedro to bounce back from that series.

Anyways, here’s the list.


 Major League Baseball (no longer in use)
Veterans Stadium — Philadelphia Phillies
Tiger Stadium — Detroit Tigers
Shea Stadium — New York Mets
Olympic Stadium — Montreal Expos
RFK Stadium — Washington Nationals

Major League Baseball (in use)
Citizen’s Bank Park — Philadelphia Phillies
Rogers Centre — Toronto Blue Jays
Camden Yards — Baltimore Orioles
PNC Park — Pittsburgh Pirates
US Cellular Field — Chicago White Sox
Fenway Park — Boston Red Sox
Coors Field — Colorado Rockies
Busch Stadium — St. Louis Cardinals
Citi Field — New York Mets

Minor Leagues
AAA International League
PNC Field — previously Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons (Moosic, PA)
Louisville Slugger Field — Louisville Bats (Louisville, KY)
McCoy Stadium — Pawtucket Red Sox (Pawtucket, RI)
Durham Bulls Athletic Park — Durham Bulls (Durham, NC)
AAA Pacific Coast League
Secuirity Services Field — Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Colorado Springs, CO)
AA Eastern League
Blair County Ballpark — Altoona Curve (Altoona, PA)
FirstEnergy Stadium — Reading Phillies (Reading, PA)
Mercer County Waterfront Park — Trenton Thunder (Trenton, NJ)
Prince George Stadium — Bowie Baysox (Bowie, MD)
altoonacurve.jpgA Carolina League

Daniel S. Frawley Stadium — Wilmington Blue Rocks (Wilmington, DE)
Calvin Falwell Field — Lynchburg Hillcats (Lynchburg, VA)
Salem Memorial Ballpark — previously Salem Avalanche (Salem, VA)
A Florida State League
Joker Marchant Stadium — Lakeland Tigers (Lakeland, FL)
A South Atlantic League
Grayson Stadium — Savannah Sand Gnats (Savannah, GA)
Joseph Riley Ballpark — Charleston River Dogs (Charleston, SC)
McCormick Field — Ashville Tourists (Ashville, NC)
Short-A New York-Penn League
Ripken Stadium — Aberdeen Ironbirds (Aberdeen, MD)
Damaschke Field — Oneonta Tigers/Yankees (Oneonta, NY)
Centennial Field — Vermont Lake Monsters/Expos (Burlington, VT)
Donovan Stadium at Murname Field — Utica Blue Sox (Utica, NY) no longer exist
Rookie-Adv Appalachian League
American Legion Field — Danville Braves (Danville, VA)
Calfee Park — previously Pulaski Blue Jays (Pulaski, VA)

Atlantic League of Professional Baseball
Campbell’s Field — Camden River Sharks (Camden, NJ)
TD Bank Ballpark — Somerset Patriots (Bridgewater, NJ)

Misc. Ballparks
Field of Dreams (Dyersville, Iowa)
Doubleday Field (Cooperstown, NY)

I think that’s all.

Dog Days Prognostications

I’m here on my family vacation in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville, North Carolina. And I had some downtime so I figured rather than sleep or look at the clouds that are eye level outside our mountain house, I would blog.

And okay, caught me, I said I wouldn’t be posting again until I got back to school, but.. I am. I figured I would post some of my predictions for the rest of the season. Note: These are my predictions as of August 5th, I reserve the right to change my mind as the season progresses, after all–it is my blog.

clifflee.jpgThe NL West goes to the Dodgers, that was hard.

The Phillies are in quite a slump. They’re not hitting, not pitching all too well, and making an error here and there. The greeting card sitting at Cliff Lee‘s locker when he arrived at CBP Tuesday might have read: “Welcome to town, Mr. Lee! We’ll continue to win once every fifth day when you’re out on the mound and maybe not even win then, if our offense doesn’t get going!” Lets hope that Lee didn’t bring the funk that the whole Cleveland Indians team is going through to Philly. I’m just playing around, teams go through valleys and reach mountain peaks throughout the season and I’m hoping the Phils are just in a small valley. My guess is that the Phils don’t suffer from Tribe Syndrome, turn it around in the coming week, and win the NL East.

If the Rangers had more than Dustin Nippert and Kevin Millwood then I would seriously consider them in the West over the Angels. But since they don’t, I got the Halos.

One of the best races to watch may be that AL Central. It is going to come down to what pitching staff steps up and holds off each opponent because the Tigers, White Sox, and Twins all scrap until the end to win baseball games. I love the punches Buerhle, Danks, and Floyd but the combination of Mauer and Morneau is lethal as well. So lets knock off who leads the division right now, the Detroit Tigers. They’re near the back of the AL in a bunch of categories and in the long haul, that won’t get you to the playoffs. So if its White Sox vs. Twins, advantage: Twins. They are 7-5 against the ChiSox this year.

The case for the Colorado Rockies (in a few sentences):
They have the pitching finally as their rotation has really come together this season even when Jeff Francis went down before the season started. Seth Smith and Dexter Fowler are maturing in the majors. They’ve always had the middle-of-the-lineup bats to drive in the guys that get on base before them. Todd Helton is healthy. They have more home games left than any other NL contender. They’re my NL wild card pick.

fowler.jpgWhy not the Giants?
This makes me feel like a HUGE hypocrite. I usually am all about pitching. Pitching wins, pitching wins, pitching wins. That’s what I lay my baseball foundation on. The Giants have one of  the best staffs in the National League. AND they just upgraded their awful offense AND they’re now scoring runs. They do have some great young players but I’m not sure that I can see this team playing in October. Maybe because I’ve never seen Freddy Sanchez there. Haha. Speaking of which…

Poor Pirates fans. But only the Pirates fans because Pittsburgh’s won two other championships this year. Jerry Crasnick, of ESPN.com, wrote a great article about the dismantling of this team here: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?columnist=crasnick_jerry&id=4373943.

Lets get to the touchy subject, the AL East. The Red Sox own the Yankees this year, but the Rays own the Red Sox, but the Yankees lead the division. Huh? Yea, this is a tough division to choose. The Yankees score 0.29 more runs per game than the Red Sox and 0.32 more than the Rays. The Sox ERA is 0.06 better than the Rays and 0.39 better than the Yanks. My guess is that the Yanks lose their game and a half lead to the Red Sox.

Then since the Yankees play in a park where an everyday flyout to right is homerun, I say they win the wild card. Followed closely by Tampa Bay who put themselves in too big of a hole to start to season. My same reasoning for why the Rangers don’t win the West is the same reasoning I’m using here for the wild card.

This may be preaching to the choir, but the Cardinals really bolstered their lineup at the deadline. It is a top tier NL lineup now. As long as the pitching keeps the Cards in games I see the additions of Mark DeRosa, Julio Lugo, and Matt Holliday paying off and getting the Cards into October. Sorry Cubbies.

So as of now, my playoff pairings guess goes:
Twins at Red Sox
Rockies at Phillies
Yankees at Angels
Cardinals at Dodgers

Monday Ten

 This week’s power rankings.

1. St. Louis Cardinals (17-8) (2)
Apart from the Pirates, the Cards have the league’s lowest ERA at 3.57 and continue to win ballgames.

2. Toronto Blue Jays (18-9) (1)
They’re still in first place in the AL East. They’re 7-2 in one run affairs and have the highest batting average in the majors thus far.

3. Los Angeles Dodgers (18-8) (4)
Chad Billingsley is leading a pitching that was supposed to be a question mark. The Dodgers also boast a 3.93 team ERA.

4. Boston Red Sox (15-10) (3)
Kevin Youkilis is now hitting .407 even though the team just had a rough series in Tampa.

5. Kansas City Royals (14-11) (7)
Zack Greinke is being dubbed “the best pitcher in baseball” and the bullpen is really coming together. I think its up for grabs in this division. Keep up the success and pitching and its theirs for the taking.

6. Seattle Mariners (15-10) (5)
They won yesterday in the millionth inning, and did it by coming back. Once John Lackey and Ervin Santana are back in the Halos rotation, I don’t expect the Mariners to stay at the top.

7. Chicago Cubs (13-11) (8)
Hoping to get going like they should, they are coming off three straight wins against the Marlins but Big Z going down (after he bunted for a hit?) will definately hurt the rotation.


bigzinjury.jpg8. Florida Marlins (14-11) (10)
As I said, they’re currently on a three game skid and look to turn it around this week against the Reds, Braves, and Rockies.

9. Philadelphia Phillies (12-10) (Pushing)
Split against the Mets this weekend but still need to get that pitching down. Someone also needs to put the Cole Hamels voodoo doll down.

10. New York Yankees (13-11) (NR)
Mark Teixiera’s hitting around .200 and the Yanks are still scoring the most runs per game, imagine what will happen when he starts to raise that average.

Pushing the Ten: Milwaukee Brewers (13-12)

Dropped out:
Detroit Tigers (13-11)
Pittsburgh Pirates (12-12)

Suprises and Demises are Usual April Story


greinke.jpgThe Month in Review: April

Every April, year after year, there are the big suprises (teams or players) that get off to hot starts and there are also the disappointments of the month. One thing for sure is that, the MLB season is a lengthy one. Teams are given 162 chances and then the playoffs to prove that they are the best and the best teams will win the divisions and the worst teams will finish last. That’s what makes the game so great, the fact that there are so many chances to prove that you are the best. According to descriptive statistics, Major League Baseball is the sport that gives the best chances at seeing the true best team in the league (descriptive statistics involve the collection of data).

April provides the suprises by underdogs and by the unexpected players. It involves dissapoint from the supposive “good” teams and slow starts by perennial all stars. Here are my thoughts on the month that was.

April MVPs
American League: Mike Lowell
The power behind the big Boston win streak, Lowell is third in the league with 23 RBIs. He is also hitting .310 and has four homeruns in the first month. He seems to have recovered from his injury just fine and do the Red Sox ever need him to be hitting like this or what.
National League: Adrian Gonzalez
He has nine homeruns and twenty RBIs for the 11-11 Padres. A great hitter with a great approach at the plate leads the National League in homers. He’s also slugging .704 with an OBP of .438.

April Cy Youngs
American League: Zack Greinke
Well, I talk about him later here but he is 5-0 with 44 strikeouts and leads the league with a 0.50 ERA.
National League: Johan Santana
Maybe if the Mets bullpen could hold together for him, he would have another win. He is 3-1 with the best ERA in the National League (1.10) and is tied with Greinke for the most strikeouts in the league.

Team that suprised: Toronto Blue Jays
The Jays are the one team in the AL East that I did not expect. I thought their offense was too unproductive (although I do think Adam Lind and Travis Snider are going to be great) and I thought the loss of Burnett killed them. Well, they have had different ideas throught the first month of the season as the offense is the best in the American League thus far and the pitching has certianly stepped up as pitchers with injuries have gone down.

Team that disappointed: New York Mets
This offense was supposed to produce runs and keep them in games as the back end of their rotation is shaky. But they are less than average and have a 9-12 record so far. The Mets with their revamped ‘pen are also 4-5 in one-run affairs which doesn’t give me much confidence that they’ll win close ballgames.

Best story: Zack Greinke
Right now, he poses a threat for the pitching triple crown. The first MLB pitcher to reach the five win mark also leads the league in ERA and is tied for the lead league in strikeouts with Johan Santana. His 0.50 ERA was all zeros going into his fifth start as well. He’s the leader of a great rotation in Kansas City that consists of Gil Meche, Kyle Davies, Sidney Ponson, and Horacio Ramirez. Okay, so maybe Ponson and Ramirez need to work on a few things, but if Davies can keep up what he’s done thus far, those Royals lead by Greinke, will be in the October hunt because pitching wins. Perhaps the best part of this story is that Greinke overcame depression and anxiety disorder to get to where he’s been today.

Best moment: Ellsbury steals home
In the final game of a heck of a series last weekend, Jacoby Ellsbury took off on a straight steal of home against veteran Andy Pettite. In a rivalry series, on primetime television, in a tie game, only making it a walkoff steal would have made it better, but hey, you can’t have everything. As I said in my most recent Monday Ten post, I didn’t even see it live but I had to watch the steal over and over online once I heard about it. The steal of home just capped off a great series for the Sox against the Bombers as they swept them right out of Boston.

Questions to Consider:
Feel free to answer these questions as comments as well, I want to know what you all think.

1. Will the Pittsburgh Pirates continue to lead the entire league in ERA?
No, the ERA has risen over the past week as the Buccos are on a three-game skid. Expect some more of those.

2. Will Wandy Rodriguez keep up his performance thus far?
Well a 1.69 ERA is good, but the 2-2 record basically explains how good the team is. I’ll answer this by saying the Astros need him to keep it up.

3. Over/Under Nats wins: 50
Over.

4. Over/Under Mariners ERA after May: 3.50
Over

5. Who will be leading the AL Central at the All Star break?
Still too early to tell, but I’ll say the White Sox.

6. When will the Rays start to turn it around?
Right now, did you see Matt Garza last night.

7. Who/what will give up more homeruns, the Phillies at home or Yankee Stadium?
New Yankee.

8. When will the Cubbies listen to Alfonso Soriano and get back to 2008 form?
Mid-May. They’re too good for this. 

It is said that April showers bring May flowers. If you consider this past April showers, then these flowers are going to be some good ones.

Monday Ten

jacoby.jpg Team’s true colors may be starting show now, so here’s this weeks power rankings:

1. Toronto Blue Jays (14-6) (3)
They’re scoring the most runs in the league per game and they’re third in the AL in ERA. All with half their rotation on the DL. As long as they keep scoring runs and Roy Halladay is their ace, expect ongoing success.

2. St. Louis Cardinals (13-6) (4)
They’ve played a lot of games at home so far (10-3 at Busch) but their pitching staff has been solid thus far and Albert Pujols continues to be well, be Albert Pujols.

3. Boston Red Sox (12-6) (10)
Jacoby Ellsbury
stealing home became an instant classic moment of the 2009 season. I didn’t even see it live, but I watched the replay over and over because it was so great. Terry Francona loved, Boston loved it, I loved it, and I love the way the Red Sox are playing right now.

4. Los Angeles Dodgers (13-6) (1)
Clayton Kershaw got roughed up yesterday and there were some miscues, but teams have those games. The Dodgers still  lead the entire league in WHIP and are second in the NL in batting average.

5. Seattle Mariners (12-7) (5)
Pitching, pitching, pitching. Second in the AL in ERA.

6. Detoit Tigers (10-8) (9)
Offense is coming through as Miguel Cabrera continues to tear.

7. Kansas City Royals (9-9) (7)
This staff is doing a real nice job thus far this season. If only they could start scoring some runs. They lead the American League in ERA and WHIP and last time I checked Zack Greinke still hasn’t let up an earned run.

8. Chicago Cubs (9-8) (8)
They’re still striking out batters at an alarming rate but a few key offensive players are struggling and/or hurting.

9. Pittsburgh Pirates (11-7) (NR)
Wow, who would have thought. The Buccos lead the entire league in ERA (2.97) but I’m hesistant to put them any higher.

10. Florida Marlins (11-7) (2)
I’ll put it this way, they haven’t won a game since last week’s Monday Ten. All the team’s suprises have kind of fallen back to earth. Emilio Bonifacio had a rough week and you all saw that bullpen against the Phils.

Speaking of those Phillies–
Pushing the Ten: Philadelphia Phillies (9-8)

Dropped out:
San Diego Padres (10-8)

Buccos Striving to Improve in ’09

Season Preview: Pittsburgh Pirates
Projected MLB Rank: 25th — NL Rank: 14th — NL Central Rank: 6th — Record: (71-91)

pirateslogo.jpgThe Pirates haven’t had a winning season since they made the playoffs in 1992. In fact, the Pirates haven’t won over 70 games since 2004. Well this season, things are looking up for the team that has struggled for years. Things are sure not looking up too far, but the Pirates seem to be taking steps in right direction.

mclouth.jpgFor a team that has been called, the farm system for the rest of the MLB teams, this past offseason they actually signed a couple guys to semi-long-term contracts. All Star centerfielder Nate McLouth signed a three year deal with an option for 2012. Left-handed pitcher Paul Maholm also signed a contract that runs through 2012. Maholm is becoming a very reliable pitcher for the Pirates and is considered their ace.

Then there’s Freddy Sanchez and Jack Wilson. The staple Pirates should both rebound from off years last season as Sanchez should bring his .271 average back up and Wilson should play a full season if he doesn’t start sharing time with prospect Brian Bixler. There’s also Adam LaRoche. A solid hitter who will give you 80-90 RBIs a season.

Who else is on this team that will continue to develop and hopefully help the Pirates compete a few years down the line? Let’s Meet the Pirates–

Catcher Ryan Doumit
doumit.jpgThis 27-year old really took advantage of a bad start from Ronnie Paulino and solidified the catching job as his. Now he’s their starter and he should continue to hit well. Last season he hit .318 with 15 homeruns and 69 RBIs along with 34 doubles. He’s always had hitting talent, just never the durability to be the starter. Now, he is the starter.

Starting Pitcher Jeff Karstens
Coming to the ‘Burgh in the Xavier Nady trade, Karstens is a quality starter and should make the rotation this season. He doesn’t strikeout many batters but he has good control of his pitches.

Rightfielder Brandon Moss
Coming off knee surgery this season, the Pirates say that Moss is their starting rightfielder. Once he plays a full season, he will probably give the Pirates 20 homeruns and a .280 average.

Reliever Tyler Yates
This righthanded pitcher is one of the best in the league coming out of the bullpen against righties, holding them to a .224 average. He throws hard and should be a solid setup man for closer Matt Capps.

Outfielder Steve Pearce
Slated right now as the fourth outfielder for Pittsburgh. The righthanded hitter should compete for the starting job in either corner outfield spot this spring. Last September, he came up and connected for four homeruns and has attractive power potential.

Thirdbaseman Andy LaRoche
Another product of a trade last season, Adam’s brother hit very well in the minors. But in 49 games with the Pirates he hit an awful .166 with 5 homers and 18 RBIs. Look for him to improve this season.

grabow.jpgReliever John Grabow
Grabow, at 30 years old, had a great season coming out of the bullpen for the Pirates in 2008. He held a 2.84 ERA and the lefty can pitch well to lefties and righties.

Utilityman Eric Hinske
You all saw him at end of the World Series against Brad Lidge’s dirty slider. A great addition in the offseason, Hinske will come off the bench. He hit 20 homeruns and drove in 60 last year for the Rays, so expect solid production numbers if he gets the at-bats.

Those are only a few of many Pirates trying to make a difference in Pittsburgh this season. I do think that this team will eventually compete. Just not this season, or next season. But I think reaching 70 wins should be step one for the Buccos in 2009.