Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Pirates Rotation Preview

In one of his last articles as the Pirates beat writer for, Ed Eagle previews the Pirates starting rotation with this piece.

Ed is moving on to Toronto and we here wish him luck and thank him for the coverage he has provided over the last few years. Imagine having to cover the Pirates, if you weren't a fan of them at all, and every year knowing you would be home in October. I don't know for sure if Ed wasn't a Pirate fan or not, but the guy covered the team during a rough stretch and we feel for him. Good Luck Ed.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Wilson stands by word

By now you've all heard about Jack Wilson challenging second baseman Jose Castillo to step up his game this season. Dejan wrote an article today stating that Wilson stands by what he said and that it was solely intended as a challenge to the young Castillo to have him perform at the best of his abilities.

Personally, I don't mind Wilson doing this. I believe he knows how good Castillo can be. He's seen it, we've all seen it, but for some reason Castillo tends to just slip down past mediocrity at some point each year. If this is what it takes to light a fire in him while he's still a Pirate, then so be it. If it causes turmoil, then let him go. The Pirates were already shopping him once, I'm sure they'd look into it some more.

Pirates Preview

Jeff Sackmann, over at Beyond the Box Score, has written a pretty solid summary of what he expects from the Bucs . If you read his stuff, you know how good he is, so give it a look. He thinks they'll be a 70-some win team.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Bucs Amuse at FanFest Q &A; Management Answers the Call

Some of the Pirates most recognizable names took the stage at Pirates fest today for a Question and Answer session that did not disappoint, according to the people over at

Zach Duke, Tom Gorzelanny, Ian Snell, Matt Capps, Salomon Torres, Adam LaRoche, Jack Wilson, Jason Bay and Freddy Sanchez formed a very loose and quite amusing improv group, answering fans' questions for an hour at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

Right off the bat, there was some personal information shared with the audience of nearly 500 people. Bay recently had a baby, Duke is getting married and Capps will be his best man. Once those pleasantries were exchanged, the question-and-answer period began.

Not surprisingly, the first question was directed to the new acquisition, LaRoche, with a fan wanting to know if the Pirates need a winning swagger and if something like that existed when he was in Atlanta.

"I haven't gotten to play for the Pirates yet, so I don't know," LaRoche said. "There was a confidence from the coaches to players [in Atlanta]. We were lucky to have veterans who had been there and had won. I feel lucky to have spent my first three seasons learning from them, learning what it takes to win."

Holding their own edition of a question and answer section was Pirates management, who not surprisingly fielded many questions about LaRoche, Who will play 2nd base, Who will be the fifth starter and whether or not the goal of management is to just win 82 games.

"I'll acknowledge we all want to be over .500," Littlefield said. "But I don't want to put a ceiling on it. I think there's talent and we want to improve to a significant degree, but to put a number on it may not be the way to go."

Friday, January 26, 2007

News of the day

A day after Dejan wrote something in the PG, the Trib offers its own story on Sanchez nearing a two-year deal from the Bucs.

Jody Gerut, on the other hand, has accepted a pay cut.

Dejan now says that the Pirates are out of the Jeff Weaver sweepstakes.

A little article on PirateFest, which takes place this weekend. Dejan thinks it could turn into a Laroche-fest. The Pirates slugger looks to steal the show this weekend as he'll be in town signing autographs for all the fans.

PG columnist Bob Smizik also offers a story on the Pirates and their radio coverage.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Sanchez and promotions

The Pirates announced their promotions and giveaways schedule for the home 2007 season. You can see them here.

Dejan even decided to add a story about the promotions and giveaways, which can be seen here.

And he also reports that the Pirates are close to inking a two-year deal with Freddy Sanchez. The Bucs are also going for Jeff Weaver, according to the story.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Pirates Sign Matos

The Pirates have signed Luis Matos, 28, to a minor-league contract in hopes that he will earn a spot on their bench.

He is a right-handed hitter coming off a dismal season with the Washington Nationals in which he batted .206 with two home runs in 69 games. He spent the previous six seasons with the Baltimore Orioles, including a 2005 in which he batted .280 with four home runs in 121 games. He hit 13 home runs in 2003.

Also, Nick Green was officially signed to a minor league deal.

Press row

The Stats Geek over the Post-Gazette takes a look at the Pirates' batting order for the 2007 season. He says there's only three for sure things in the lineup, so why not try to get all of them up in the same inning. Again, Stats Geek backs up his opinion with plenty of stats.

According to Dejan, with Tomo Ohka out of the picture the Pirates are now focusing their attention on Tony Armas Jr.

The Pirates Caravan made a stop in Uniontown Monday to sign some autographs and meet with the fans. The Connellsville Daily Courier did a little piece on what went on. I just like to see the Buccos making a stop near my hometown. The Uniontown paper, the Herald-Standard, also has a story on this.

With Mike Gonazalez out of the closer role for the Bucco bullpen, Matt Capps hopes to gain a larger role at the back end of the bullpen -- maybe even at closer.

West Virginia's Dominion Post has an article about the Bucs thinking winning thoughts now that LaRoche is on board.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Pirates Chasing Cliff Floyd?

According to an article in the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Pirates have shown interest in outfielder Cliff Floyd, although it does not appear Floyd is leaning in their direction. The Cubs appear to be the front runner for Floyd with several AL West teams in the mix.

Jim Tracy managed Floyd in Double-A.

Floyd hit .244 with 11 homers and 44 RBIs last season, and had surgery on his left foot in October. New York replaced him in left with Moises Alou, a free agent who agreed to a contract in October.

Thanks to Mondesi's House for the link.

Ohka no longer an option

Tomo Ohka will not be a Pittsburgh Pirate in the 2007 season, according to Dejan of the PG.

The pitcher will be seeking a one-year deal with a team in hopes of a larger salary and a shot at more in free agency in the 2008 market. So he has broken off all talks with teams that have offered two-year deals at this point, which includes the Bucs.

Also: The Adam LaRoche love affair continues. The Trib offers a feature piece today on the slugging first baseman. It's a nice read.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

LaRoche (Good and Bad)

YouTube has two videos of our new first baseman -- during an interview after a good game and his famous defensive blunder. For what it's worth...


All the questions and predictions need to be put aside, so does all the losing Lillibrdige talk. The Pirates needed a young, MLB-proven, power-hitting left-handed first baseman. And guess what, they got one! LaRoche takes the offense to another level, it still isn't that great of a level, but another level at least. That alone is something to be excited about.

According to both the Trib and PG, LaRoche couldn't be more excited to be in Pittsburgh to help turn around this young team.

Joe Starkey, of the Trib, is also ready to see the Pirates hit the field. He believes the Pirates are suddenly intriguing, to say the least.

Dejan also reports that Littlefield is looking to add another bat to the bench.

And just when you think the Pirates are down, you soon find out they have fans everywhere.

Traded Players ZIPS

We took a look at the ZIPS projections for the 2007 Pittsburgh Pirates a little while back but today I just took a minute to look at the projections for three of the players involved in the Laroche-Gonzo deal. Jamie Romak does not have projections for 2007. The ZIPS projections are as follows:

Adam Laroche .279 with 26 homeruns, 78 RBI, 97 K's, .346 OBP and .535 SLG.
We should note that all of these numbers are worse than LaRoche's career season of 2006 with the exception of strikeouts and OBP.

Mike Gonzalez 5-1 with 2.45 ERA. 65 K's and 26 BB's in 55 innings.

Brent Lillibridge .251 with 8 homeruns and 40 RBI, 54 BB, 99K in 450 at-bats. Also 32 stolen bases in 44 attempts.

-Here is an interesting site note. When Jamie Romak was eligible for the draft a few years back, the Pirates had a lot of interest. In fact they may have been the most interested pre-draft team. But when Romak was drafted by the Braves, he had this to say:
"I was afraid Pittsburgh would step up because they'd shown the most interest. I was so happy to go to Atlanta." -London Free Press

Hope Jamie isn't afraid to come to Pittsburgh anymore.

Friday, January 19, 2007

House Cleaning and Such

-Adam LaRoche is a Pittsburgh Pirate. Officially. The present Pirates are happy about it, in fact they are ecstatic.

-The Pirates also agreed to a one-year deal with Shawn Chacon worth $3,825,000, plus as much as $225,000 in performance bonuses based on innings pitched. Chacon and the team exchanged salary figures Tuesday, Chacon submitting $4.25 million and the team $3.7 million. He made $3.6 million last season.

-More official paperwork says the Pirates officially have a new principal owner and his name is Bob Nutting. He was approved unanimously by the other Major League owners.

-A scouts take on Brent Lillibridge (courtesy of Baseball America):

No matter how impressive his 2006 numbers were, Lillibridge's year was also somewhat historic, as he was the only player in the minors to hit over .300, post over a .400 on-base percentage, hit over 10 home runs (13), drive in over 50 runs (71) and steal over 50 bases (53).

"This guy is a poor man's Brian Roberts . . . very exciting player with boundless energy and good speed, reactions, and instincts.

"He's one of the top middle infield prospects in the game for me, a sure-fire major leaguer with the only question being how good he will be and where--short, second base, or even moving him back to the outfield."

-Jeff Samardzija has chosen baseball and the Chicago Cubs over the possibility of the NFL. The two-sport Notre Dame star signed a five-year deal worth 10 million dollars that includes a no trade clause.

-Who's hitting in Winter ball you ask? Jose Castillo is finding his stroke.

-The Pirates are still chasing Brian Lawrence. They even upped their offer yesterday.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Lillibridge vs. Romak

As the second part of the Laroche-Gonzalez deal, the Pirates and Braves have reportedly agreed to swap Minor League players from the Class A Level.

The Braves will be receiving infielder Brent Lillibridge, who had a very solid 2006 season and could start at AA for the Braves. Lillibridge hit .305 in a combined 475 at-bats between Hickory and Lyncburg last season. He scored 106 runs, hit 13 homeruns and drove in 71 runs. He was also an impressive 53 for 66 stealing bases.

Lillibridge would have almost certainly landed on the Pirates Top Ten Prospects list when it is released by Baseball America next month. Last year Lillibridge missed the top ten but was named the Pirates top defensive infielder within the minor league system.

The Beaver County Times' John Perrotto had this to say about Lillibridge in November of 2005 when holding a chat about the Pirates Top Ten on BA:

"My gut feeling is that Lillibridge will be the best of the bunch (reader question was about a small number of specific Pirate prospects). Granted, I only saw Williamsport play twice last summer but he just had the look of a ballplayer to me."

Baseball Prospectus' Nate Silver writes this piece on Lillibridge, saying he is possibly the best player in the trade and it is not out of the question that he could be in the Braves starting lineup this season on opening day. Silver raves about Lillibridge, claiming John Schuerholz cleary gets the best of Littlefield in the trade. The final line of the article sums up Silver's beliefs:
"Add it all up, and PECOTA thinks he’s one of the 10 or 15 better prospects in the game. You won’t find him that high on other lists, but this is a steal for Schuerholz."
The Pirates on the other hand, are receiving a bit more of a project in outfielder Jamie Romak. A 6-2, 200 plus pound power-hitter, Romak is a native of Ontario, Canada. The Pirates seriously considered drafting him in 2003, before he was ultimately drafted by the Braves in the fourth round.

Romak spent last year in the Sally league with the Rome Braves where he hit an impressive 16 homeruns in just 348 at-bats. However, for the season Romak batted just .247 and struck out 102 times. Earlier this year ChopNation, a Braves site, listed Romak as the Braves 21st best prospect and had this to say:

Jamie Romak – Outfield – Age: 21…The Braves are really adopting an almost sabermetric point-of-view. Example: Romak. He has failed to impress at all as far as batting average is concerned. Last year, the Canadian hit .247 and has hit .233 over 209 games. Nonetheless, he has shown great plate discipline and pretty good power, especially in the ballparks he has played in. John Schuerholz = Moneyball?
These are the reasons why I put a .233 hitter in my Top 30. Maybe Romak will never hit .300, but if he hits .260 at the major league level, he will still be very valuable. Think Kelly Johnson, but more power.
ETA: Late 2009

One last thing on Romak. In 118 at-bats last year against left-handed pitching, he hit .280. In 230 at-bats against right-handers, he hit .23o, but did so with more raw power.
Obviously there will be more to come on this topic over the next few days. Stay Tuned.

Bucs land LaRoche

The Pirates finally closed a deal today for highly-coveted Atlanta Braves first baseman Adam LaRoche. A lot of news reports have come out about the deal, which is being reported as a four-player swap between the teams. No official word has been announced yet, although John Perrotto, of the Beaver County Times, says the Pirates are sending minor league shortstop Brent Lillibridge to the Braves and are receiving outfielder Jamie Romak.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Bucs Ink Gonzo and Nady; Sign Nick Green

The Pirates came to terms today with Mike Gonzalez and Xavier Nady, each receiving one-year contracts and avoiding arbitration.

Gonzalez, 28, went 3-4 with a 2.17 ERA in a career-high 54 appearances in 2006 and converted each of his 24 save opportunities in his first full season as a closer. Gonzalez, who qualified for arbitration for the first time this winter, will receive a pay raise from $347,000 to $2.35 million.

Nady, 28, is coming off a year in which he set career highs in batting average (.280), home runs (17) and RBIs (63) while splitting the season with the Pirates and Mets. Like Gonzalez, Nady was eligible for arbitration for the first time. He'll earn $2.15 million in 2007 after making $427,000 a year ago.

The Pirates also signed utility man Nick Green. Green, 28, batted .184 with two home runs in 63 games last season with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and New York Yankees.


Over at Only Bucs, Wilbur Miller wrote an open letter to Bob Nutting. Everything Wilbur writes is a good read, so I suggest checking it out.

Dejan tells us in today's PG that the Pirates and Braves are still caught up on the Adam LaRoche deal. The Braves want Duffy, too, but the Pirates still won't give him up. I don't understand why and I never will, but man Littlefield loves that Duffy kid.

Speaking of that, credit Charlie over at Bucs Dugout with this fake dialogue between the Pirates and Braves. It's funny.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Jim Callis

A few of the most interesting questions Baseball America's Jim Callis fielded in his most recent chat. I really like Callis, so enjoy.

mike (Brew City): Over/Under on Brewers wins set at 86.
Jim Callis: Over. I'll take them to win the NL Central.

Ron (Lincoln,NE): McCutchen in the Burgh after All-Star break in 2007, or 2008 for sure?
Jim Callis: 2008 for sure.

Bruce (Pittsburgh): Who's worse Cam Bonifay or Dave Littlefield?
Jim Callis: Looking at their track records, Bonifay was probably worse but Littlefield hasn't been much better.

Nutting in spotlight

Wow, the Pirates have an owner, and he's all over the place. We'll see how long this lasts. Both the Trib and the PG throw articles at us today about Nutting. Enjoy.

I noticed these in the Notes under Dejan's piece in the PG:
The Pirates will invite six of their top prospects to the major-league portion of spring training: outfielder Andrew McCutchen, catcher Neil Walker, starter Brad Lincoln, reliever Jesse Chavez and shortstops Brent Lillibridge and Brian Bixler.

Should be fun to see these guys get some playing time during spring training.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Jacque Jones

A while back I wrote in this space that I thought Jacque Jones would be a solid, last ditch addition for the Pirates in right field. Jones will turn 32 this year but he isn't the typical older, plug-in player the Pirates usually go after. Over 162 games Jones averages 23 home runs and 80 RBI's. His last three years he has gone deep 24, 23 and 27 times while playing for the Twins and Cubs.

The main reason I thought Jones would be an above-average addition was because he would come at a fairly cheap price and would have a small enough contract to just keep the position warm until the Pirates could rightly fill it. Now the Chicago Tribune reports the Pirates are the most likely destination for Jones, if he his traded before the season starts, and the asking price would include either Chris Duffy or Nate McClouth.

Anyone who reads Internet blogs or rumor mill sites understands that sometimes things are written without actual substance behind them, but in this case, this is one of the top newspapers in the country, so you would think there has to be something to this report. DL has already made it clear that Chris Duffy is not likely to be included in any trade that doesn't blow his socks off, so would the Pirates deal McClouth for Jones?

This is an interesting proposition. If the Pirates believe Duffy is the answer in center, would the plan then be to trade McClouth for Jones who could keep right field warm until McCutchen is ready? Would the Pirates then keep Duffy in center and put McCutchen in right to fill out the outfield with Jason Bay?

I guess we should stay tuned.

Meet Bob Nutting

You say you want to meet Bob Nutting, well here he is in a nutshell.

"The business of running a Major League Baseball team is still running a business," Mr. Nutting said. "At the same time, I believe that winning is the most important thing. A baseball team has to win baseball games."

"Before Bob is through, you'll have a winner in Pittsburgh," Dr. Hofreuter said. "Plain and simple, he's not the type of person who wants to be attached to anything that is less than excellent. You'll see that."

Those are the two statements from the article that stand out the most to me. Bob Nutting says running a team is a business, meaning your bottom line must still show profit. At the same time, he says winning is the most important thing. So would he be willing to take a year or two less profit to make the Pirates a winner? I don't get that impression, but that may just be me.

In his most recent hot stove notebook, Dejan from the PG makes a few key points:

-How much better can the Pirates current hitters improve?

-The Pirates have made two offers to Brian Lawerence

-Littlefield has no problem going with Sean Burnett, if he wins the 5th starter job

-Brian Rogers spent the fall re-discovering his split fingered fastball in the AFL

-Josh Sharpless gained ten pounds of muscle in the off-season

-The Pirates will likely stay in house to fill their bullpen needs

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Spring Training Dates

In case you haven't seen it , here is the Pirates spring training schedule.

Among the dates, the annual meeting with Manatee C.C. and a few home and home's with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.

Tribune Review columnist Joe Starkey writes a column for the Trib today which states the obvious, Kevin McClatchey's time as head of the Pirates was a failure.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Nuttings take control

Bob Nutting has taken full control of the Pirates away from Kevin McClatchy.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Bucs in the news

Ken Rosenthal mentions the Buccos a couple times in his latest column.


The Diamondbacks considered acquiring Astros third baseman Morgan Ensberg and trading Chad Tracy to the Pirates for left-handed reliever Mike Gonzalez. But, like virtually every other team interested in Gonzalez, they wanted the Pirates to include a second player in the deal.


The Pirates not only are refusing to trade any of their young starting pitchers, but they also are unwilling to part with center fielder Chris Duffy, who enhanced his standing by playing well at the end of last season. Duffy is a strong defender and energetic player, and the Pirates lack an internal replacement. The Braves wanted Duffy along with Gonzalez for first baseman Adam LaRoche.'s a shame that everyone wants more along with Gonzalez. If so, they are missing out on one fine reliever. On the second part, the unwillingness to trade Duffy baffles me. I don't think he is accountable for that many wins to this team and he's still yet to prove himself. If McCutchen is the future at that position, I believe McLouth would do a good enough job to hold it down for the time being.

Bonds fails amphetamine test

Well, it's just an ex-Pirate, but I can't go without posting a link to this. A report has surfaced that Barry Bonds failed an amphetamine test last season and blamed it on teammate Mark Sweeney.

It's only a matter of time...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

NL Central

The Cardinals came to terms with starting pitcher Mark Mulder, the biggest pitching name left on the open market. The deal is worth a reported 13 million dollars over two years. If Mulder stays healthy enough to make 30 starts in both 2007 and 2008, Peter Gammons says incentives could bring the deal to as much as 45 million over three years.

Mulder is expected to miss the first half of the season as he recovers from rotator cuff surgery. Mulder was 6-7 with a 7.14 ERA in 17 starts last year. He was sidelined from June 22 to Aug. 23 with rotator cuff damage and what the team called an impingement in the shoulder, which had caused him to alter his delivery. He went back on the DL on Aug. 31.

In other news, Baseball America has worked itself into the National League during its unveiling of each teams Top 10 prospects. Currently the magazine/online publication is revealing the National League East over the next few weeks. The following is a schedule for NL Central teams to be revealed. Since some of the content on Baseball America is pay only, we will post the NL Central information when it is available.

Chicago Cubs -- Jan. 29

Cincinnati Reds -- Jan. 31

Houston Astros -- Feb. 2

Milwaukee Brewers -- Feb. 5

Pittsburgh Pirates --Feb. 7

St. Louis Cardinals -- Feb.9

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Pirates 2007 ZIPS

Of course many of you know that the 2007 Pirates ZIPS projections are out and you have probaly already reviewed them and formulated your opinions on them. I, however, did not get a chance to review them until lately and there were a few things that struck me as important and worth noting, so here goes.

Pitching: Age ERA W L
Zach Duke 24 3.92 14 12
Thats a great year from Duke. The best projected year of any Pirate starter and its not even close. If Duke has a year similar to these numbers, I would consider that great progression for the kid.

Paul Maholm 25 4.63 8 9
Here is what gets me about Maholm. They project him for 30 starts and 177 innings but only 17 decisions. They expect him to average less than six innings, or a possible quality start, everytime out. This, of course, can not happen if the Pirates want to keep their bullpen healthy and fresh.

Sean Burnett 24 6.15 5 12
This guy means so much to me as a Pirate fan. Another young lefty, that if he returns from injury to 100 percent, would make him or any other young starter extremely expendible in a trade. The projections sure aren't good, but let's hope they aren't right either.

Other Projections of Note: Ian Snell only other starter to win double digit games (10), Gonzo would lead team in ERA (2.45), Matt Capps would pitch in 88 games,

Jason Bay lf 28 .279 .378 .521 30 88
Ouch, ouch and Ouch. Oh and ouch. 88 rbi's? For the team's best hitter? .279 average for an all-star? There isn't much to say. If this actually becomes Bay's 2007, the Pirates won't amount to much anyway.

Xavier Nady rf 28 .280 .341 .467 16 57
Second on the team in batting average, third in home runs, and based on only 407 at bats. ZIPS just does not believe the Pirates are going to score runs and it shows.

Others of note: One .300 hitter (Sanchez), McLouth (21) and Duffy (22) over 20 stolen bases but Lillibridge trumps all with 32, Bautista hits 18 bombs, Eldred 14 homeruns and 11 walks in 215 at-bats.

So there it is. Just some things that initially caught my attention and I am sure with more in-depth focus, different predictions can be made.

Yoslan Herrera

We've all heard about Yoslan Herrera and his travels to signing his first MLB contract. The Trib has a nice feature on Herrera and his dreams of pitching in the major leagues. It's a good read and a nice distraction from the usual Bucco bashing that goes on in local papers at this time of year.

In other news, the Bucs conducted informal workouts. Spring Training can't come soon enough.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Pirates Sign Gryboski

On Monday the Pirates came to terms with relief pitcher Kevin Gryboski. The minor-league contract will provide him with an invite to spring training.

Gryboski, 33, was 0-0 with a 14.29 ERA in six games with Washington last season and 4-6 with seven saves and a 3.71 ERA in 52 games with Class AAA New Orleans. The graduate of Wilkes College in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., has a 12-8 lifetime record in the major leagues with two saves and a 4.07 ERA in 238 games and five seasons with Atlanta (2002-05), Texas (2005) and Washington (2006).

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Collier talks Pirates

Gene Collier, columnist for the Post-Gazette, wrote a Bucco column Saturday. If you didn't notice it, here it is. It's kind of the usual bash the Buccos for their lack of progress in the open market.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Bayliss Finishes Impressive Year

Jonah Bayliss, the relief pitcher acquired in the Mark Redman trade from the Kansas City Royals in December of 2005, continued his excellent 2006 by wrapping up his winter ball season in Venezuela. Bayliss is expected to compete for a bullpen job with the Pirates in 2007 and some consider him to be a legit closer of the future candidate.

Bayliss concluded his campaign in the Venezuelan Winter League with an eight-game scoreless streak for the Caribes de Oriente to lower his ERA to 1.88. The 26-year-old right-hander was 2-1 and struck out 18 in 24 innings while holding opponents to a .214 average. He spent the 2006 season with Triple-A Indianapolis, where he was 3-3 with a 2.17 ERA and held the International League to a .181 average.

The link also has an updated report on other Pirates playing winter ball this season.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

John Sickels minor league rankings

This is a little late, but in case you haven't seen it yet, John Sickels posted his rankings of Pirates prospects over at his blog. This is a preview to what will be said in his book which is due out soon.

None of it should surprise you, especially his one sentence to sum up the Pirates' farm system. Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

D+? Well at Least It's Not an F!

Baseball America released it's organizational report cards for the 2006 season and the Bucco's passed, but not at all with flying colors. The Pirates received a D+ overall, after receiving grades in 5 different categories. The categories included Major Leaguers, Minor Leagues, Talent Level, Player Procurement, Organizational Direction. Here is how the Pirates Fared:

Major Leaugers-Bringing in mediocre veterans may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but it led to another losing season and second-worst record in NL.
Minor Leagues-Altoona was only affiliate to reach the playoffs; Pirates left Williamsport to establish NYP affiliation with nearby State College, Altoona's sister franchise.
Talent Level-Much of Pirates' hope for the future lies with young arms like Tom Gorzelanny, and system is thin on premium talent after Andrew McCutchen.
Player Procurement-Got a couple of useful pieces in trading Sean Casey and Oliver Perez; went for college pitching in draft, led off by Brad Lincoln at No. 4 overall.
Organizational Direction-Hosting All-Star Game showed off great PNC Park to the nation, leading everyone to wonder when the Pirates will put a decent team in it.

Just for kicks, only three teams received an A-minus or better. The Twins and Tigers (A-) and the Dodgers received the only A.

Season Ticket Sales Down; Bucs Interested in Lawrence

In a total surprise, the Pirates aren't hosting the All-Star Game in 2007 and they aren't raking in the season ticket commitments like they did last year. Pirates officials say they expect the same amount of people to come through the gates, however, because apparently they are banking on the team actually playing better.

The Pirates are one of a few teams interested in Brian Lawrence, and according to Lawrence's agent, the interest is heavy. Lawrence has a career 4.10 ERA but hasn't pitched since 2005 after tearing his labrum with the Nationals.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Pirates Bring Back Hernandez

The Pirates have re-signed Jose Hernandez for another run as a utilityman.

Hernandez, 36, and the team have agreed to terms on a one-year, minor-league contract for which he would receive $900,000 at the major-league level. That will represent a $50,000 raise on his salary of last season.

Hernandez, a favorite of manager Jim Tracy, played five positions in 63 appearances for the Pirates in 2006 and batted .267 with two home runs and 12 RBIs. He was traded Aug. 22 to Philadelphia for cash considerations. For the Phillies, he batted .250 with a home run and seven RBIs in 18 games.

Hernandez also spent 58 games with the Pirates in 2003, part of a 1,587-game career.