Tag Archives: Ian Snell

Pirates/Giants Recap

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image from espn.com

Pirates 2 Giants 4

Pirates 2 Giants 3

Pirates 0 Giants 1

Man, this is an depressing interesting team to follow around the trading deadline.  Two (three?) more quality players said sayanora since the Arizona series concluded.  Jack Wilson and Ian Snell are now Mariners, and (this just in) Freddy Sanchez will stay behind in San Francisco (if you don’t believe it, there’s a picture of Sanchez in a Giant uniform up top.  Just let it sink in).  In return for Wilson and Snell we get Ronny Cedeno, AAA first baseman Jeff Clement, and 3 A-ball pitchers.  So, the way I see it, we trade Snell for Clement (both are borderline MLB talent), we downgrade from Wilson to Cedeno (a journeyman, but major leaguer) and we make up for it with the young arms.  That’s fair.  Plus it gives us another shortstop for the short term.  My only concern is Clement.  He’s the supposed keystone of the trade.  The report on him is that he can hit for power, but he’s got a hole in his swing (he can’t hit curve balls.  Think Pedro Cerrano, the guy who practices voodoo in the movie ‘Major League’).  We traded Sanchez straight up for AA prospect Tim Alderson.  So let me get this straight: we traded an established major league second baseman who still has a lot of production left in him for a kid with a heck of a lot of promise, but zero major league experience.  How did we not get hosed in this deal?  It’s a gamble.  I get it.  It’s a known commodity (Freddy’s remaining production) for something that could be greater than that or less than that.  But usually a GM will add in another prospect to kind of hedge the bet a little bit.  Now, this was a quality kid.  No doubt about it.  He was #4 in their system and he’s only 20 years old.  But for him to make this trade a success, he has to be a multi-time all-star.  That’s a heck of a lot of expectations for a kid in AA.  I sure hope we know what we’re doing.  Oh, and one more thing: we’ve been stocking the minor leagues forever.  We should be kicking butt down on the farm even if we’re struggling up in the ‘burgh, right?  Well, lets look at the standings and get a whiff of good news, shall we?

AAA International League West Division

Louisville (Reds) 59-44

Indianapolis (Pirates) 50-53

Toledo (Tigers) 48-56

Columbus (Indians) 45-57

2nd place.  Not bad.  Not bad at all.  2nd place by a mile and still not above .500, but it’s decent.  Nobody’s perfect.  We were in last place last year.  So improvement at least.  Let’s continue:

AA Eastern League Southern Division

Akron (Indians) 63-41

Erie (Tigers) 57-45

Reading (Phillies) 56-46

Bowie (Orioles) 56-47

Harrisburg (Nationals) 46-55

Altoona (Pirates) 41-63

Ouch.  That smarts.  Especially since this is supposedly where all the major talent like Pedro Alvarez, Gorkys Hernandez and Jose Tabata are.  I’m not going to lie, that’s embarrassing.  But one team does not a system make, so onward:

A Carolina League Northern Division

Potomac (Nationals) 58-41

Lynchburg (Pirates) 56-45

Wilmington (Royals) 56-45

Fredrick (Orioles) 48-53

Ok.  Another solid middle of the pack showing.  Not too bad.  This team is actually above .500 unlike the other two.  That’s encouraging.  One more team:

A South Atlantic League Northern Division

Kannapolis (White Sox) 19-13

Hickory (Rangers) 18-14

West Virginia (Pirates) 17-13

Lakewood (Phillies) 18-15

There are others in the division, but no one cares.  The point is that we’re seeing a bunch of middle of the pack minor league teams in our system right now.  We’ve traded away every arguable major league player in Pittsburgh.  These minor league teams are now the future of the Pirates and they aren’t getting much better without years of drafting.  The revitalizing through trades is almost done (there are one or two more trades left, but none that should bring much of a return).  If we’re not dominating or at least playing .500 ball down there, what makes you think it will change when they’re playing the same guys in the bigs in a few years?  Just a depressing thought for the future.  Anyway, that turned into another post by itself.  I have a series to recap.  So here’s the short run-down.

Game one was a disaster.  Tim Lincecum pitched a complete game and struck out 15.  The kids good.  And he was on his game on Monday.  But jeez.  That’s embarrassing.  4 hits for the Pirates.  4 hits.  That will never win you a game.  That will almost never get you 2 runs, but we at least pulled that one off.  Waste of a decent game by Maholm

Game two was the same story.  We faced a good pitcher (Barry Zito).  We had a decent pitcher on the mound (Charlie Morton).  We got a good game from our guy, and blew it by getting absolutely no run support.  We managed 10 hits this time, but still only turned them into 2 runs.  I didn’t realize that was possible.  This game will mostly be remembered for Garrett Jones bobbling a ball in the outfield, and the amazing catch (or not) by Delwyn Young that ensued.  In case you missed it, here it is:

Cue the circus music.  Man.  Only the Pirates.  The sad part is that blown call cost us a run and consequently a shot at extra innings.  Not like we would have won there, anyway.

Game three was the worst offensive showing yet.  A shutout.  The third time we’ve been shut out in a week.  Pitiful.  Matt Cain threw a gem for San Francisco.  No doubt about it.  But this is more on us.  We managed 3 hits.  In 10 innings!  That’s right.  Due to an equally impressive 7 innings of shutout ball by Zach Duke, we  brought the game to extra innings scoreless and we STILL couldn’t do anything!  That’s the worst part.  All we needed was one run.  One stinking piece of luck or anything, and we couldn’t muster it.  Makes you want to smack your head into a wall.  But to be fair, lets look at our lineup from this afternoon and where they were last year.

Player Team @ end of ’08 Class

Andrew McCutchen                  Indianapolis                                         AAA

Andy LaRoche                            Pittsburgh                                              MLB

Delwyn Young                            Los Angeles (NL)                                 MLB

Garrett Jones                              Rochester                                               AAA

Steve Pearce                               Indianapolis                                          AAA

Brandon Moss                            Pittsburgh                                               MLB

Ramon Vazquez                        Texas                                                         MLB

Jason Jaramillo                         Lehigh Valley                                        AAA

So there you have it.  Half of our 8 position players were in AAA at the end of last year.  Add on to that by qualifying that Andy LaRoche was in AAA last year before coming to Pittsburgh, and none of the other 3 were regular starters, and you’ve got quite the lineup.  When people joke about Pittsburgh being a AAA team, they’re only half joking.  Remember that.  It’s going to be a loooooong rest of the season.


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Pirates/Indians Recap

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Pirates 4 Indians 5

Pirates 10 Indians 6

Pirates 3 Indians 2

So two of the worst teams in Major League Baseball come together, and we get an absolute barn burner.  Go figure.  It’s also been a big week in general for the Bucs personnel wise.  Lincoln and Alvarez  move up a level which was deserved on both ends from what I understand.  Ian Snell also got demoted this afternoon.  His idiotic comments notwithstanding (if someone stuck a microphone in my face the day I get a demotion at work, I’d say stupid stuff too), it’s a great move.  He needed a mental tune-up, and that’s what the minors are there for.  They’re like a body shop when you need some minor detailing done to your game.  Going to Indy isn’t always terrible for a player.  But, anyway, I’m here for a series recap, and that’s what I shall do.

Game one was not very entertaining for 8 innings.  The Indians jumped on Snell early.  Ian held them in check for 2 innings, but as soon as trouble hit, he unraveled.  He gives up a hit to Gimenez.  Huff (in his first career at bat I believe), sac bunts him to second.  Carroll gets walked, but still no need to panic.  A ground ball ends the inning.  Then Grady Sizemore steps up and hits one into the gap in right.  Steve Pearce (who only started playing in the outfield this year) takes a horrible route to the ball, it’s gets by him and goes to the wall.  The ball was a single all the way that scores 1.  Instead, it goes for a triple and 2 runs come home.  Steve cost Ian a run.  Everyone watching knew it.  Ian got frustrated and started missing spots.  He walked the next two batters, gave up another hit that brought in two more, and was finally yanked.  Using this lead (and adding onto it by a solo shot by Peralta), the Indians were cruising behind the stellar pitching of David Huff.  He’s got an ERA of almost 6, but through 8 innings we made him look like Cy Young.  So mercifully, in the 9th, the game gets turned over to the worst bullpen in the majors.  The Pirate bats finally wake up.  Down 5-0 in the 9th, Adam LaRoche hits a seemingly meaningless home run into the Allegheny to lead off the inning.  Thanks Adam!  But something amazing happens.  We start hitting.  Everyone starts hitting.  We bat around.  Suddenly, Adam’s back up with the bases loaded, only down 5-4.  He’s got a home run already this inning.  All he needs is to shorten his swing, and push one to left to score two and take the lead.  The entire defense is playing him as a dead pull hitter.  What does Adam do?  He tries to kill another one into the river and flies out to right.  <smacks head>  That should OFFICIALLY cement him as the least clutch player on the Buccos.

Game two was almost the same thing in reverse.  Zach Duke returns to old form and throws 6 pretty good innings.  The bats wake up for 14 hits and 10 runs.  We take a 10-1 lead into the 9th.  Steven Jackson gets two quick outs.  Then the Indians start hitting, and by hitting I mean putting the ball in the direction of Andy LaRoche who kept committing errors (2 in the inning, but it was close to being 3).  The Indians put up 5 runs in the 9th to make it 10-6 before the Pirates finally put in Burnett to get the last out and end the madness.

Game three was the most exciting of all because it was close the whole way through.  Cliff Lee was on the hill for Cleveland.  He’s a terrific pitcher on an awful team.  One of those guys who  you have to look at the ERA and disregard the record.  He was as good as advertised, but we were able to get 2 runs off him.  That was enough to push it to the Indians bullpen with the game tied.  If you get to that point with the Indians, you’ve got it made.  Their bullpen didn’t disappoint.  Matt Herges allowed two quick hits.  Jack Wilson stole 3rd (he better remember that moment cuz it won’t happen often), and Andrew McCutchen gets a game winning yank to shallow left.  First walkoff of the year for the Pirates.  I’ll take it.

The Pirate bats really seemed to come alive in this one.  Adam LaRoche hit  two home runs in the series.  But most of the damage was done against Cleveland’s bullpen.  It’s night and day between their starters and bullpen.  Kansas City come into town this weekend, and is ripe for another series win.  But as for now, I’m just going to bask in the joy of beating Cleveland (even if it was a race to the bottom kind of series).

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Pirates/Twins Recap

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Pirates 2 Twins 8

Pirates 8 Twins 2

Pirates 1 Twins 5

So the Pirates just finished an inter-league series with the Twins.  Going into the series, I wasn’t sure quite what to make of this one.  The Twins are in second place in the AL Central, but that’s not a terrific division to begin with.  The games are in the Metrodome, which offers one of the larger home field advantages in the bigs.  I guess winning 1 of 3 is probably what I would have guessed going in, but I wouldn’t have been surprised either way.

Game one is being blamed by most people on Paul Maholm.  He gave up 8 runs, and had without a doubt his worst game of the season and possibly his career.  He only walked 1, but his control was off.  He was going really deep into every count.  He also gave up all 8 runs in only 5 plus innings, which is off the charts bad.  But, before you put him through the wringer, remember 2 things: 1)he’s the best pitcher we’ve got, and frankly one of the only ones that consistently looks like a major leaguer.  He deserves one bad day excuse  and 2)Adam LaRoche deserves a lot of blame, too.  Lets look back at the
5th, shall we?  The Bucs trailed 4-2, but they had the bases loaded with 1 out.  This was the Buccos chance to get back in the game, if not take the lead, and LaRoche grounds into the double play.  Yet again cementing himself as the Pirate’s resident choke artist.  This guy has rolled out more crushing double play balls this year than anyone in the league.  And this one was especially bad.  It totally knocked the wind out the Pirate sails (and wind in the sails is important when you’re pirates).  Maholm melts down the next inning, and you can kiss it goodbye.

Game two saw a resurgence of power from the Pirates.  I have no idea what happened (maybe the air conditioning was pointed out towards center field), but it would be great to see more of it.  Both LaRoche brothers went yard and were joined by Andrew McCutchen getting his first big league knock.  Ian Snell had another good start which means he’s on a bit of a roll.  Maybe he was threatened with a demotion and/or trade and woke up.  Who knows.  But man, oh, man.  The Twins just ran into a rare buzzsaw and there’s nothing you can do about it .

They got their revenge in game three, though.  The Twins got two dingers of their own, but all they needed was pitcher Nick Blackburn.  He pitched a gem, going the distance while only giving up 6 hits.  He would have gotten a shutout, too, if it wasn’t for a cheap run in the 9th.  Guy’s a quality pitcher.  He’s 6-2 on the year with a WHIP of 1.25.  It’s ok to get bested by the best, but I’m not sure he’s good enough to get a shutout on us.  Whatever.  I’m already sounding like a broken record about the Pirate batting.  I won’t pound the inconsistency topic any more.

So that about raps it up.  It was just what you would have expected from this series.  The Twins have some terrific young bats and a couple of ok arms.  They just don’t have the depth of the lineup that a team like the Yankees has.  Problem is, the Pirates don’t have any depth at all in their lineup, so they made them look like the Yankees, anyway.  Oh, well.  We go to Coors Field for 3 games this weekend.  If we don’t see any more of that power we saw in game two, it doesn’t exist.

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Pirates/Tigers Recap

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image from espn.com

Pirates 1 Tigers 3

Pirates 9 Tigers 3

Pirates 6 Tigers 3

I think those scores are a microcosm of the Pirates season right there.  You never know what you’re going to get on a given day.  No matter how consistent the opponent is (like scoring the same number of runs 3 straight days), we’re all over the map.  Anyway, I digress.  You’ve still got to be happy with taking a series from a first place team like the Tigers.

Game one was just a mediocre showing with the bats.  We had 8 hits (we’ve done worse, but not much), and stranded 5.  Ian Snell was his usual wild self, but managed to scatter his 10 hits over 7 innings so that he only gave up 2 runs.  That was all the Tigers needed, unfortunately.  I’d love to point to individual batters who streak and are inconsistent, but I can’t.  It’s everyone.  The annoying thing is that they all seem to streak together.  I’m not sure if that’s a psychological thing or not, but if someone starts out well, they all start hitting.  We can rally like noone’s business, but we can also go through 4 or 5 straight 1-2-3 innings.

Game two was just a great outing by Zach Duke.  He gave up 6 hits and 3 runs, but lasted 8 innings.  I’m sure the bullpen owes him dinner for that one.  You’ve got to love when a starter can give your bullpen the day off.  It really makes you all the more dangerous the next day.  Game one had only two position players get multiple hits (both had 2), but everyone had at least one hit in game two with 5 players getting multiple hits.  The bi-polar bucs strike again!  The final tally was 16 hits (5 for extra bases), and 2 home runs.  We managed 9 runs despite grounding into 3 double plays.  When a team is hitting like that there’s not much you can do.

Game three was a throwback night.  Both teams were wearing uniforms from 1909 (when the Pirates defeated the Tigers in the World Series.  You can see the bucco uni’s up top.  Complete with Pittsburgh Baseball Club stitching on the arm.  I like it).  The marketing department went all out for making it seem like 1909…by which I mean totally removing itself from the game.  They turned off all scoreboards around the stadium.  They didn’t have any marketing stuff in-between innings (and the fans lived without the pierogie race.  I was so proud), and the jumbotron had an old time scoreboard projected on it that they left up the whole time (no replays, no nothing).  So, basically, the marketing guys gave themselves a day off and called it a promotion.  <stands and claps> Brilliant!  I love it!  I can just see the meeting now: “hey!  We should give ourselves a day off and call it ‘marketing free day’.  We could sit back and drink a beer and watch the game for once.”  “Yeah.  Marketing-free day.  Like the old times.”  <slowly looking at each other>  Yep.  That’s how it went.  I’m continuously amazed by the Pirate Promotions Department.  But, anyway, back to the game.  We didn’t have to worry about the bi-polar bucs this time, because Dontrelle Willis just walked everyone before they could get the chance to hit.  He issued 8 free passes is 3 and 2/3 innings.  That’s crazy bad.  Jeez.  Remember when he was on the Marlins and the best thing since sliced bread?  My, how the mighty have fallen.  Ross Ohlendorf was his usual self: solid to start out but fading in the 5th/6th inning.  He lasted 6 and handed the bullpen a 6-1 lead.  The bullpen then did what they do best: try their darndest to blow it.  Steven Jackson came in in the 7th and promptly gave back 2 of the runs before failing to finish the inning.  Sean Burnett had to come in and clean up the mess.  Grabow and Capps both walked the leadoff man, but finished their innings without a run.  And that was pretty much it.  Thank the D-Train for this one.

So that completes a weekend where you want to crawl into a hole if you’re from Detroit.  The city economy is in the tank, you’re football and basketball teams offer no hope, you’re hockey team loses in game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, and to top it all off your first place ball club drops 2 of 3 to one of the worst teams in the league…that happen to be from the city that just beat you for the cup.  Ouch.  Interleague play continues tomorrow with a series in Minneapolis.  I hope management goes up and sees how a small market team really works.

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Pirates/Astros Recap

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image from espn.com

Pirates 1 Astros 6

Pirates 7 Astros 4

Pirates 1 Astros 2

So, while you were preoccupied with the Pens, the Pirates lost another series.  Who saw that one coming?  At least this year is more of a slow death, as opposed to the usual 12 game losing streak that eliminates all possible hope of a winning season before May.

The Astros were coming in on a 7 game losing streak.  This is the second series in a row where we’ve had a good but vulnerable team across the diamond and we lost 2 of 3.  Can’t happen.  In game one, we stranded 7 batters and only managed 7 hits.  The “here today gone tomorrow” offense we’ve got is the biggest story of the year.  It’s getting to be maddening.  Brian Moehler pitched a complete game and was the big story of the day.  But it wasn’t Moehler, it was the anemic Pirate offense that won the game for Houston.

In game two, the Pirate bats decided to show up again.  There were a couple of nice rallies against Wandy Rodriguez (I love that name), and Jeff Karstens did just enough for the win.  Gorzelanny came in to try to close the game out (no save opportunity), and hiccuped in the 9th despite a decent 8th inning.  Matt Capps came in to save the day, and didn’t even go through the adventure that he normally gives Pirate fans.  It was also a skyblast, so some fans actually got to see a decent Bucco game.

Game three saw the Bucco bats go back into hibernation, going 4-30.  4 hits!  That’s it!  That’s a .133 team batting average.  The worst part of it is that we wasted a really good start by Paul Maholm.  He’s been doing some quality work this year, and we can’t seem to give him any help.  Mike Hampton went 7 and gave up 3 of the 4 hits, but once again, it wasn’t the Astros pitching, it was the Pirate batting.

Frustration with this team is growing.  People are howling for Snell’s head, but there’s no one below to take his place.  The Pirates show flashes of good hitting, and then seemingly take nights off.  I’m going to do a study comparing and contrasting the bipolar bucs bats later (once hockey season ends).  You’ll be amazed.

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