Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Powers That Be: Jose Bautista

40 homeruns is by no means any modern day achievement in the game of baseball. Though this season it is. The Season of the Pitcher Part Deux has witnessed longballs across the great country of America, and that itty-bitty neck of the woods up in Canada decrease drastically from seasons past. Yet, an unsuspecting masher has been the only player to reach the 40 milestone and he is the Toronto Blue Jays Jose Bautista. The right-handed batting 3B/OF has never hit more than 16 bombs in a season before this year. In fact, he's a lifetime .242 hitter with only 99 homeruns in 7 seasons, and that includes his 40 dingers this year. Any way you look at it, he's playing himself into a lucrative contract. He has a year of arbitration remaining, so a hefty raise is coming from his bargain basement $2.4M salary of 2010. At 29 years old he may just be a late bloomer and the Blue Birds might want to look into extending him on a 3 year $27M deal. .258/.970, 83 r, 40 hr, 95 rbi with roughly 40 games to go is pretty damn impressive.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Checking In At The Bottom

It is almost the end of August. Less than 50 games left in the season and everyone wants to know who is winning the division, who is in line for the wild card, and who will be winning the whole ball of wax?

When you stop by More Hardball on Monday mornings, you do not want to read about the same drivel that every so called "baseball nut" is telling you on all the other websites. Face it, friends, if that is what you found here this week, I may never see you again. We would not want that, would we? Good. Glad you agree. Now that we are on the same page, follow me as I journey through some things happening with the teams in last place in each division in baseball and we will try to spend some time together talking about the stories from the teams the other guys do not think you would find interesting. As always, I've got your back, don't worry about those fools...

The American League East - Baltimore Orioles
His name is Kevin Millwood and, on Sunday, he started the 400th game of his career. You read that correctly, 400 starts in his career. Despite having a tough year this season, posting a 2-14 record to date and win-less since June 24, he has been serviceable overall in his career. A lifetime record of 157-135 with a 4.11 earned run average, the veteran has played 14 seasons in Major League Baseball for five teams. A constant trade rumor, Millwood will find himself a free agent during this offseason.

The American League Central - Cleveland Indians
In the first inning of the Sunday game against the Tigers, Cleveland third baseman Jayson Nix tracked a foul ball near the railing of the camera well off the bat of Don Kelly. As he got to the railing, running full speed, he reached over and made the great catch. Later in the game, in the seventh inning, lightning would strike twice. On a foul ball from Kelly that held up in the air a little longer this time, and required Nix to stretch further into the same location, effecting his balance in the process. This time as Nix made the catch he tumbled into the camera well, displaying a head-over-heels play that invited injury to strike. Nix was not injured on the play, but had made a second amazing play at the exact same spot against the same hitter in the same game. Both plays can be seen on MLB's website here.

The American League West - Seattle Mariners
In the first inning of Saturday night's game with the powerhouse New York Yankees, Ichiro Suzuki hit his first of two home runs on the night, only the fifth time in his career that he would have a multi-homerun game. But it was Russell Branyan that would do something that had never been done in the history of the new Yankee stadium. On a Javier Vazquez 3-1 delivery, Branyan would launch the ball deep into the upper deck, the first time that feat has occurred.

The National League East - Washington Nationals
You have heard of Stephen Strasburg and new draftee Bryce Harper, but have you paid any attention to Tyler Moore? Who, you ask? The Class-A first baseman is setting records in the Carolina League. Over his last 36 games, he has hit 18 home runs, 17 doubles and 55 runs batted in. That brings his season totals to 28 home runs and 102 runs batted in. The 28 home runs are equal to the franchise record and only the sixth player to reach 100 runs batted in during a season. There are 15 games left in the season and Moore is 11 runs batted in off of the franchise record.

The National League Central - Pittsburgh Pirates
Something may need to be said to Andrew McCutchen about his somewhat dubious home run production. You see, while not a record or unprecedented at the major league level, McCutchen has hit 12 home runs this year, all of them without a runner on. For whatever reason, the young outfielder has yet to hit a ball out of the yard this season that would produce more than one run batted in. Whether that is a shortcoming of his, or the team's lack of ability to get on base, remains to be seen.

The National League West - Arizona Diamondbacks
It is not often that a last place team will sign a veteran player with very little time left in a season. That is exactly what the Diamondbacks did this weekend by signing Mike Hampton to a minor league deal as a relief pitcher. The goal is for him to pitch in the bullpen for the Diamondbacks prior to the end of 2010, but neither the team nor Hampton are commenting on the 2011 season, but it seems to be a useless signing if neither side has next year in mind.

Bill Ivie is the editor for i70baseball.com and hosts i70baseball radio every Monday night on BlogTalkRadio.com.

Sunday is Piniella's Final Game

Lou Piniella was already set to retire from managing at the end of the 2010 season, but it turns out he just doesn't have enough left in the tank to make it the final month and a half. He's trading in his Chicago Cubs uniform for some lounge clothes that he'll be wearing while hopefully relaxing with his family. The fiery skipper said he is no longer interested in the daily grind of the game, but may be open to consulting for the Cubbies or another organization in the future. Most experts would agree that Sweet Lou has a spot reserved for him in the Hall of Fame, as he's one of the best managers this fine game of baseball has ever seen. 18 years playing and 23 years managing, and today is the final game Lou Piniella participates in one capacity or another. Have fun in retirement Lou, you've earned it.

Player Stats:
(with Orioles, Indians, Royals, and Yankees)
1787 G, 651 R, 1705 H, 305 2B, 41 3B, 102 HR, 766 RBI, 32 SB, .291/.333/.409, predominately as a leftfielder.

Managerial Stats:
(with Yankees, Reds, Mariners, Rays, and Cubs)
1835-1712, 1 World Series Ring (1990 Reds), 6 division titles.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Lou Gehrig's Disease?

Baseball purists might get the shock of their lives when a new scientific paper comes out on Wednesday, basically saying that the late, great Lou Gehrig may have been misdiagnosed of the disease that carries his name.

It's true that Gehrig suffered from muscle weakness, sluggishness, and loss of muscle coordination towards the end of his career, eventually forcing him into early retirement at age 35. But according to this paper, those symptoms may have been attributed to brain trauma that resulted from untreated head concussions.

And for an alternative view of this shocking revelation, The Dugout takes this bit of news for a spin 'round the blogosphere.

Shocking indeed.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Jeff Francoeur Sucks!

I recently had a short, but silly debate on Facebook about the worth of Jeff Francoeur. Jeff Francoeur sucks, and even the Mets know it. The only people that don't know it is Francoeur himself and apparently this die-hard Frenchy fan.

Some Dude- Having Jeff Francoeur in the lineup might have enabled Mets to score more than two runs FOR THE ENTIRE WEEKEND while playing at Debits Field vs Philadelphia. And not holding Johan Santana back a day so he could open the series was inexcusable. Yes, Dickey pitched a one-hitter but maybe Santana could have pitched a shutout too.

Francoeur sucks! He's one of the worst every day players in the majors the past 2 seasons. He hinders a lineup, not help.

Some Dude-
I know Jeff swings at every pitch, never walks, and hits for a low average. But his home ballpark neutralizes his power, he has the best outfield arm in the majors, and he's tremendous in the clubhouse. His 9th-inning HR beat the Braves in the first game of the Atlanta series.

Francoeur hasn't been good for years. His arm is awesome, but whether it's the best or not is debatable. However, his on base skills and lack of power and average make him nearly worthless on offensive. Look at the stats man, they don't lie, regardless of the ballpark, he stinks!

Alright, lets be real. This guy is a Braves fan, as evident from the hat he wears in his Facebook photo, and he's just bitter that the Phillies took 2 of 3 from the Mets this weekend and are creeping up on Atlanta in the NL East. However, his assertion that Francoeur being absent from the lineup was detrimental to the Mets scoring runs is just ludicrous. Frenchy had a fine rookie season in 2005 batting .300 with a .884 OPS. The next two seasons he turned in slightly above average campaigns ('06- .260/.742, '07- .293/.782), but in 2008 he turned into complete crap- .239/.653. The Braves were starting to question his worth, then half way through the 2009 season they decided he wasn't worth a squirt of piss batting a measly .250/.634 at the time of his trade to the Mets. Then in New York he experienced a renaissance to salvage his season and seemingly his career batting .311/.836. This year? Same shit, different toilet- .235/.663. How is that good? How does that help you score runs? Sure he's still got a cannon in rightfield, but who gives a flying flip when you can't hit your way out of a paper bag. Verdict- Jeff Francoeur sucks!

Monday, August 16, 2010

As Good As A Trade

The trade deadline has come and gone, leaving many of us with less rumors to read, less news to keep up with, and a hope that our team is complete as is.

If there is one thing fans of the St. Louis Cardinals will tell you they have grown tired of hearing from management over the years, it would be the phrase "That is as good as a trade". Over the years, players have hit the disabled list in the early part of the season and been slated to return in August or September and the front office would tell fans they did not need to make a deal with players like that coming back. It was a cop-out that translated to "we are not making a trade".

That being said, it is exciting to see the players coming back to major league action this week and the (hopeful) charge they will provide to the lineups they are returning to.

I know you do not intend on looking up the list yourself, so I will save you some time. Here is what may be coming to a field near you...

Andy Pettitte
The Yankees placed Pettitte on the disabled list on July 18th with groin pain. The 38 year old is schedule to return to the team this week, no later than August 22nd. In his most recent rehab start, he was removed from the game and reported that he was not able to push off at full strength. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for the Yankee lefty, as they could use him if they expect to hold off the Rays in the AL East.

Ryan Howard
The Phillies slugging first baseman found himself making a trip to the disabled list at the beginning of the month after spraining his ankle on a play at second base against the Nationals on August 1st. The Phillies have been bitten by the injury bug this season and they anticipate adding Chase Utley back near the end of August as well. Many pundits predicted the Phillies to go all the way back to the World Series this year. Howard will need to come back and come back strong if that is true.

Dustin Pedroia
The second baseman for the Boston Red Sox found his way to the disabled list by breaking his foot in late June. The catalyst of a strong nucleus that is getting increasingly older in Boston, Pedroia will return to the lineup and spark the team towards October glory on August 17th. Whether or not his return proves to be enough to propel the Red Sox past the Yankees and the Rays will be determined at a later date.

Baseball is down to less than 50 games on the regular season schedule and the division races are starting to heat up. Every game gains importance right now and, if you are one of the teams in the hunt, the return of an All Star caliber player may be just the spark you need.

Unitl next week, thanks for reading.

Bill Ivie is the editor for i70baseball.com and hosts i70baseball radio every Monday night on BlogTalkRadio.com.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Who is the NL Cy Young?

Who should be the National League's 2010 Cy Young? Most people that aren't Cardinals or Phillies fans would probably scream Ubaldo Jimenez, but he's 3rd, maybe 4th in the balloting if everything is accounted for fairly, because Tim Hudson is having a helluva year too along with Adam Wainwright and Roy Halladay of course.

Let's take a look at the big 4's NL ranks...

1t. Adam Wainwright- 17
1t. Ubaldo Jimenez- 17
3. Roy Halladay- 15
4. Tim Hudson- 14

1. Roy Halladay- 175
3. Adam Wainwright- 158
10. Ubaldo Jimenez- 143
43. Tim Hudson- 89

1. Roy Halladay- 193
3. Adam Wainwright- 176.1
5. Tim Hudson- 164.2
14. Ubaldo Jimenez- 155.1

1. Adam Wainwright- 1.99
2. Tim Hudson- 2.13
3. Roy Halladay- 2.24
6. Ubaldo Jimenez- 2.55

1. Adam Wainwright- 0.97
3. Roy Halladay- 1.01
6. Tim Hudson- 1.07
7. Ubaldo Jimenez- 1.11

Complete Games:
1. Roy Halladay- 8 (3 shutouts)
2. Adam Wainwright- 5 (2 shutouts)
3. Ubaldo Jimenez- 3 (2 shutouts)
12t. Tim Hudson- 1

Quality Starts:
1. Adam Wainwright- 21
2t. Tim Hudson- 20
5. Roy Halladay- 19
6. Ubaldo Jimenez- 18

If you exclude other possible candidates such as Mat Latos and Josh Johnson and focus solely on these 4 assigning a point value for rank among themselves as followed 4 points - 1st, 3 points - 2nd, 2 points - 3rd, 1 point- 4th then the Cy Young balloting would read as such 1st- Adam Wainwright, 2nd- Roy Halladay, 3rd- Tim Hudson, 4th- Ubaldo Jimenez. With roughly 6 weeks yet to be played in the season and an estimated 8-9 starts per pitcher in that time frame a lot can change.

*Original story taken from We Should Be GMs.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Picture of the Day

Reports from around the Midwest suggest that Jim Leyland's time as the manager of the Detroit Tigers is coming to an end.

With this photo, I think that time is significantly sooner than most people anticipate.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Metropolitan Malefactors

Two of the Mets' key hurlers have found themselves in trouble with the law.

Johan Santana faces a possible civil suit from a woman in Florida who is seeking monetary compensation for emotional distress and physical pain. The woman has alleged that ten months ago, she was the victim of sexual assault, and as a result, became pregnant. According to her allegations, she miscarried, and wants to see some measure of justice, since the criminal charges against Santana were dropped due to lack of evidence and inconsistencies in her story. Santana has denied any assault occurred, and the Mets will continue with their plans of distributing 25,000 Santana themed beer can holders for 'Fiesta Latina Night' tomorrow evening.

Francisco Rodriguez brings new meaning to the word 'clubhouse' after getting into a "physical altercation" with his father-in-law last night. Rodriguez faces third degree assault charges, a class A misdemeanor, which may result in a $2,500 fine, a year in prison, or both. Rodriguez's father-in-law received a bump to his head, and a scratch on his face (according to Sport's Illustrated), or "facial bruises and minor head injuries" (according to mlb.com). This is the fourth altercation in which Rodriguez was involved since coming to the Mets in 2009.

Will these legal woes affect the Mets' abilities on the field? That remains to be seen. However, the Mets are currently considering altering the Bullpen Gate to accommodate the needs of their pitchers. Click on the image below to enlarge.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Name to Know: Jonny Venters

Gaby Sanchez, Jason Heyward, Mike Leake, Stephen Strasburg, and Starlin Castro have received all the accolades heaped upon the National League rookies this season, and as analysts would have you believe the Rookie of the Year Award winner will be coming from that group. I'd like to toss another name into the ring- Jonny Venters. Who? Well, you're gonna find out.

The lefty reliever has appeared in 52 games and has hurled 57.2 innings. That's not going to grab him Rookie of the Year honors though. What will his his impressive 1.09 ERA, 17 holds, 4-0 record, 61 k, and 1.01 WHIP. The 25 year old 30th round draft pick in 2003 has been one of the best relief pitchers in the majors this season. Venters has become a trusted in arm in Bobby Cox bullpen. He's held opponents to a .169 batting average and may be pitching himself into consideration for closer Billy Wagner's successor. One thing is for sure, he's going to start getting recognition with those type of numbers.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Can Showalter Save the Orioles?

To this generation of baseball fans, they likely view the Baltimore Orioles as a bunch of losers, and recently this has been true. Fact is, this is a franchise with winning traditions, and was still very competitive in the 90's but has fallen on hard times. Times haven't gotten much harder than this season. Buck Showalter was brought on last week to help right the ship, and the O's are now 6-1 with their new manager at the helm. He's not going to save this season, but can he save the future of this team? Perhaps. After all, there is some good young talent on this squad and help on the way.


C- Matt Wieters has received tons of hype over the past few seasons, and is now an everyday catcher in the bigs. His bat isn't blossoming as much as the front office and fans were hoping for, as he's taken a step backwards in his sophomore year (.687 OPS), but cut the kid some slack. He'll end up producing just fine. Craig Tatum is the primary backup, and has a typical skill set of others' around the majors in his role.

1B- Ty Wigginton is currently manning the position, but is almost certain to be elsewhere next season, if not by the end of August via trade. Joseph Mahoney (.322/.905 between A/AA) has progressed nicely this season in the minors and may be looking at a starting gig in 2011 if he's able to prove himself in spring training. If not Mahoney, then Rhyne Hughes seems to be the 1st baseman by default.

2B- Brian Roberts has finally gotten back to a degree of healthy considered fit for play. When he is truly healthy, there are not many second basemen in the majors better than him. Justin Turner and Scott Moore serve as backup, with Ryan Adams also in the wings (.301 at Bowie).

SS- Cesar Izturis and Julio Lugo have been splitting time here, but this is an area in need of a significant upgrade during the offseason. Robert Andino has been playing shortstop for the Tides, but his glove and bat are both suspect. Double-A Bowie doesn't offer any relief either, so the O's might have to go outside the organization to fill this void.

3B- Josh Bell has just taken over at the hot corner, and the O's would be smart to let him gain valuable experience for the remainder of the season with aspirations of him becoming a steadying force in the lineup for coming years. Slugger Brandon Waring is toiling with the Baysox, but is on his way to a 4th straight 20+ homerun season.

OF- Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, and Felix Pie. Markakis is the perfect 2-hole hitter, makes good contact, has gap power, and adequate speed. Jones is young and is still developing, but is already an established bat with quality defense. Pie needs to remain on the active roster, but when on the field has shown glimpses of what made him a top prospect in the Cubs organization. The 3 are all solid defensively and are 26 or younger, so their prime years likely still await them. The O's could end up leaning heavily on this outfield trifecta during their rebuilding stage and hopeful return to winning ways. The speedy Matt Angle, the forgotten about Nolan Reimold, and Tyler Henson will also be ready soon for MLB employment.

DH- Luke Scott can hit (.924 OPS, 20 hr in 86 games). He's going to get more expensive this offseason, but with Wigginton 3/4 out the door already, the O's would be wise to hold onto Scott and keeo his power bat in the lineup. Once highly touted prospect Joel Guzman is currently slugging away in Double-A (25 hr).

*Jake Fox has an unknown role, as he can play C/1B/3B/OF and has shown tremendous hitting skills in the minors, but continues to struggles as a big leaguer.

Starting Pitching- Jeremy Guthrie will be the 2011 Orioles "ace". He's a decent enough pitcher (4.04 ERA, 1.22 WHIP), and with better run support would have more success. Following him in the rotation will be Brian Matusz, Jake Arietta, and likely Brad Bergensen and Chris Tillman. Matusz has suffered his lumps this season (5.08 ERA), but most experts agree he has a bright future. Arietta has done an okay job as a rookie, but must improve his BB:K (35:29). Tillman has disappointed in limited MLB exposure (7.92 ERA in 6 starts), but once again has a bright future. Bergensen was great as a rookie in '09 (7-5, 3.43 ERA), but has been disastrous this year (3-9, 6.26 ERA). Still, he remains in the O's plans moving forward. Other rotation possibilities- Zachary Britton, Troy Patton, Rick VandenHurk, and Richard Zagone.

Relief- Alfredo Simon is currently the closer, but the club has to hope he can fall back into a setup role with high-priced free agent signing Mike Gonzalez resuming closing duties. Koji Uehara wasn't very impressive as a starter, but in the bullpen he's found his niche (2.18 ERA). Jason Berken has been a bullpen stalwart for the O's all season, and they will need him to continue eating up relief innings next year. David Hernandez and Matt Albers are mediocre, but Hernandez does have upside being only 25 and possessing the knack for striking batters out. Bullpen possibilities- Armando Gabino, Jim Miller, Dennis Sarfate, Frank Mata, Jim Hoey, Alberto Castillo, Eddie Gamboa, Pedro Beato, Pat Egan, Jose Diaz (300 lb.), and Chad Thall.

Looking at the future roster I see the offense improving, but the biggest question mark being the pitching staff. The O's will score runs, but will their pitching be adequate enough to win? Showalter's tutelage will be necessary for movement in the AL East, as the other 4 teams are considerably better than Baltimore. I just hope that the fan base returns to a beautiful stadium and storied franchise in what looks to be an improving team.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Throwback Thursday: August Records

Unless you were lost while spelunking yesterday, you have no doubt heard that Alex Rodriguez smashed his 600th home run. I'd be a bit more excited about it if he had reached this milestone with the assistance of beer and hot dogs, like the great Babe Ruth, rather than performance enhancing drugs. But whatever, this post is not about that, or that there should be a separate column of records reserved for the three other asterisks who hold rank among the top ten home run leaders. Instead, this post is inspired by the astonishing coincidence that Rodriguez reached this mark exactly three years after having reached the 500 home run mark (and being the youngest player to do so). This parallelism, coupled with the fact that today marks the 11th anniversary of Mark McGwire's 500th home run, got me wondering about what other feats were reached in the balmy opening days of August.

August 1
1945 - Hall of Fame outfielder Mel Ott becomes the first National League player to hit 500 home runs. Ott spent his entire 22 year career with the New York Giants, and reached this goal during a night game at the Polo Grounds. Boston Braves' pitcher Johnny Hutchings delivered the history making pitch.

1972 - Padres All Star Nate Colbert ties a Major League home run record by hitting 5 during a double header against the Atlanta Braves. The earlier record was set by Stan Musial, and oddly enough, Colbert was in the bleachers at St. Louis when Musial broke the original record. Colbert also established a new record of 13 rbi's during the double header.

August 2
1982 - Rickey Henderson steals his 100th base of the season, becoming the first player ever to steal 100 bases twice. He would go on to break the record of steals in a single season, 118, by stealing his 119th on August 27 of the same year.

August 3
2004 - Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols becomes the first player in Major League history to hit more than 30 home runs in each of his first four seasons. So far, he has had a phenomenal nine consecutive 'over 30' home run seasons, and he is very close to a tenth.

August 4th
1985 - Rod Carew joins the elite few who have 3000 hits after hitting a single passed Twins' pitcher Frank Viola. Interestingly enough, White Sox pitcher, Tom Seaver wins his 300th against the Yankees.

2007 - Alex Rodriguez becomes the youngest player to hit 500 home runs.

2010 - Alex Rodriguez hits his 600th career homer.

August 5
1999 - Cardinals' first baseman Mark McGwire slams his 500th home run off of Padres' Alan Ashby. McGwire also set the fastest record in reaching this goal, having hit his 400th career home run in May the season before.

August 6
1999 - Padres' slugger Tony Gwynn earns his 3,000th hit, singling off Expos' pitcher Dan Smith.

August 7th
1999 - Three weeks before retiring from baseball at age 41, Wade Boggs, playing for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, crushes his 3,000th hit, becoming the first batter to reach this illustrious mark with a home run.

2007 - Mike Bacsik Jr. will only be remembered for delivering Barry Bonds his record breaking 756th home run.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Pirates Makeover

The Pittsburgh Pirates haven't had a winning season since the Bush administration (old Bush, not young Bush) way back in 1992. This year will not end the futility as they currently sit on a pitiful 36-69 record on their way to an 18th straight losing campaign. When will their fortunes change? Is .500 remotely possible in the near future? Hard to say "yes" to either of those questions considering we're talking about a franchise mired in nearly 2 decades of hopelessness.

Fear not though Bucco fans, because hope is on the way. A new crop of players are in black & gold and are infusing some youth into the lineup and a new style of ball on the field.

C- Chris Snyder was just acquired from Arizona, and he and Ryan Doumit (when he recovers from a concussion) will form a formidable backstop duo.

1B- Garrett Jones was scooped out of the minor league garbage bin and has produce admirably for little coin.

2B- Neil Walker has converted relatively smoothly to 2nd base after coming up through the minors as at 3rd. He's hitting for average and power will likely develop for the 24 year old in the coming years.

SS- Ronny Cedeno is nothing to write home about and is a weak spot on the Pirates roster.

3B- Pedro Alverez is only 23 and still learning how to hit, but is getting valuable experience at the big league level.

OF- Jose Tabata, Andrew McCutchen, and Lastings Milledge are all 25 and under. Tabata has really come along in the past few weeks with the stick, McCutchen is a future perennial all-star, and Milledge has finally seemed to put it all together.

A power bat seems to be what is lacking from the lineup, but Alvarez, Jones, and Walker should provide some pop in 2011 with others providing average and speed. They could really meld into a fun group to watch.

Herein lies the problem...keeping runs off the board. Zach Duke and Paul Maholm have not panned out like the Pirates have hoped and one, and possibly both, may be traded away here in August or during the offseason. Starting pitching is a sore spot in the Steel City right now, with Brad Lincoln serving as the only real prospect with MLB time to have 2011 impact aspirations. Jeff Karstens and Ross Ohlendorf are serviceable, but hardly worth building upon as a foundation.

Relief is another matter, Evan Meek and Joel Hanrahan have combined to make a backend of the bullpen worthy of notice. Octavio Dotel, Javier Lopez, and DJ Carrasco also did good jobs, but were just dealt away. James McDonald, who was sent over for Dotel from the Dodgers, has a great live arm and could have a bright future as either a reliever or starter. Just has to harness that raw ability.

Help on the Way?
*Currently in Triple-A or Double-A
Bats- Steve Pearce/1B/OF, Alex Presley/OF, Jim Negrych/2B, Josh Harrison/2B, and Matt Hague/1B.

Arms- Michael Dubee, Rudy Owens, Justin Wilson, Tony Watson, Daniel Moskos, and Jeff Locke.

So how long before the Pirates contend? At least 2-3 seasons away depending on how some of their bats progress and minor league arms develop.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Did You See That?

Another week in the books and this one has the transaction register full. Players changed teams at a dizzying rate this week, so much so that even this die-hard fan could not tell you where everyone ended up. Well, I could, but I highly doubt you really want to know. If you are a dedicated fan that wants to know all that happened at the wire, head over to everyone's good friends at MLB Trade Rumors and check it out, they do a much better job of running down all the trades than I would.

That is not why we spend our Monday mornings together anyway. You know who your team got, who they gave up, and what you really think about the deal, deep down. I am the guy you come to to tell about some of the things that happened over here while you were looking over there. Yes, indeed, that is me, keeping an eye on all things baseball so you can keep your eye on whatever you keep your eye on (but honestly, stop looking at those types of things, what would your mom think?).

Here is what happened while you were busy this week:

The Baltimore Orioles Hired A Manager
The worst team in baseball has been struggling to figure out who would be the guy placed at the head of the ship for the foreseeable future. This week, that came to an end as they signed Buck Showalter to a contract through 2013. Showalter will make his debut in orange and black on Tuesday this week as he tries to figure out how to establish some sort of structure with this young ball club. The former American League Manager Of The Year will look to turn around a team that is currently 32-73. Good luck, Buck, I have a feeling you are going to need it.

The Rockies Set A Major League Record
Yes, I am aware there is a player attempting to hit his 600th home run. Everyone is aware of that. Most media outlets won't let us forget. The Rockies entered the eighth inning of a game against the Cubs this weekend leading the game 5-2. By the time the inning came to a close, the score stood at 17-2 and the Rockies had made a few entries in some record books. They tied the club record for most hits in an inning with 13. They set a club record with twelve runs in the inning. Then, they set the major league record with 11 consecutive hits in the inning. Every run scored came after the Cubs had already recorded two outs in the inning.

Youngsters Make Debuts
Out in Chicago, the White Sox traded Daniel Hudson on Friday. The problem with that was Hudson was scheduled to pitch that night. A call to AAA affiliate Charlotte, in Louisville for a game, had Lucas Harrell on his way to the Windy City to make his major league debut. He would not disappoint, throwing six innings of four hit, one run baseball despite walking five. Down in Texas, Brett Wallace was acquired via trade just ahead of Astros first baseman Lance Berkman being sent to the Big Apple to be fitted for his pinstripes. Wallace would debut over the weekend, going 0-for-4 and reaching base on an error in his first game. He would collect his first major league hit over the weekend and will head to St. Louis to play the team that drafted him in the first round of the 2008 draft, the Cardinals. Some fans may have forgotten that the Cardinals selected him in that draft, and rightfully so, he has been traded three times before finding his way to the big leagues. He was the centerpiece of the group traded to Oakland in exchange for Matt Holliday, was sent to Toronto during the off season, and finally dealt to Houston near the deadline.

That is all for this week, ladies and gentlemen. I look forward to bringing you a few more stories next week, right here on More Hardball.

Bill Ivie is the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com and Executive Editor of their affiliate site, i70baseball.com. You can find him on BlogTalkRadio hosting the I-70 Baseball show every Monday night at 10 p.m. CST.