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The New and Improved “Mc” Effect

http://www.mceffect.com.

Karstens Out, Jakubauskus In

The Pirates made some moves yesterday to deal with some arbitration issues and get prepared for the December Rule 5 draft, here’s the rundown: 

  • Pirates signed Chris Jakubauskus off waivers from the Seattle Mariners. 
  • What we later found out was the reason for signing Chris Jakubauskus, the Pirates designated Jeff Karstens for assignment, which means he will go through waivers and will most likely never play for the Pirates again. This was kind of upsetting, because Karstens showed definite promise in the long relief role last year. However, he had gotten Super 2 status in free agency, so the Pirates were going to have to pay him more than he was worth.
    • In case you are wondering what it means to get “Super 2″ status, here’s the basics -The top 17 percent of players with at least 2 but less than 3 years of Major League service. These are known as “Super 2″ players. To qualify as a Super 2, a player must have accumulated at least 86 days of service in the previous year. Historically, the cutoff point for Super 2 status is 2 years, 128 days of service, though the requirement has been as high as 2 years, 140 days in years past.

  • The Pirates also designed Robinzon Diaz and Justin Thomas for assignment, I personally don’t like to see Robinzon go, but it clears the way for some prospects that we acquire in the Rule 5, which is always good.
  • Brad Lincoln, Bryan Morris, and Gorkys Hernandez were all added to the 40-man roster to protect them from being selected in the Rule-5 Draft. I do expect to see Lincoln in Pittsburgh this year, but I would not expect to see Morris or Hernandez next year.
  • Evan Meek and Jose Ascanio were moved from the 60-day DL to the 40-man roster.

The story with Chris Jakubauskus is not a very pretty one. Last year was his first season in the major leagues, even though he is 30 years old. He went 6-7 with a 5.32 ERA in 93.0 innings. He started 8 games and appeared out of the bullpen 27 times. His K/9 ratio is 4.5, which is nothing to be excited about. Hopefully he will get it together and eat some innings for the Pirates in the middle of games next year, I certainly do not want to see him in the rotation.

In other news, I am working on taking my blog to the next level by purchasing a domain name and running it off of the mlblogosphere, which will give me a multitude of new options and make the blog a lot better. So be on the lookout for that.

Be an American

Well in the last 2 days I have read about 3 petitions that we can all sign as baseball fans and as Americans, so that prompted me to post the links here. I have no signed any of them myself, yet, but I probably will right after I make this post. Here they are: 

So there you go, go waste some time and virtually sign some petitions, especially that Alcides Escobar one. 

Brown, Blass Visit Waynesburg University

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to meet and interview one of my favorite people in this world, Lanny Frattare. If you haven’t read this blog before, you won’t know that I am a student at Waynesburg University, where Lanny Frattare, former Pirates’ broadcaster now teaches. Today, Lanny brought Greg Brown and Steve Blass down to speak at our school.

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Now, I am not a communications major, so I was not even invited to this event. However, I was not about to miss this opportunity, so I got permission from one of the professors to come. I skipped two classes to come up and listen to two voices I have listened to a lot in my life speak in person.

They spoke a lot about how they got to where they are now. Greg Brown announced for the Buffalo Bison (a minor league baseball team) and the Buffalo Bills before making it to where he had always dreamed of announcing, in Pittsburgh. Steve Blass, of course, played for the Pirates and was considered quite a hero for them in his career, so he had little trouble getting the job as a color commentator after his career was over. He has now been with the organization for 50 years, and few people have done more for the organization as he has.

I sat feet away from the two as they gave us students advice on what to do and how to do it if we want to make it in the communications department. Greg’s main point was to be enthusiastic and get your name out there. He told the story of one of Three Rivers Stadium’s Public Address Announcers that only got the job because he called Greg, who was currently the PA announcer, and asked if he could have lunch with him and inquire about the field. The man brought his resume to the lunch and kept in contact with Greg. When it was time to get a new guy, Greg instantly suggested this man and he ended up getting the job. “The jobs don’t come to you, you have to go get them yourself,” Mr. Brown said.

After they were done sharing their stories and advice, it opened up for questions. One question popped into my head as I heard them talk. The memory of the Pirates 8th and 9th inning 5-run rally, that was capped off with 10th inning 3-run bomb from Jason Michaels came into my head. Greg and Steve were on the TV broadcast that night and I have never heard more excitement come out of two men then I heard when Michaels hit that bomb. My question to them was if those lines and those reactions are pre-planned or if they just come out. I specifically mentioned that memory in my question, and I mentioned that I remembered Steve saying something about a “Mrs. McDavis”, which he laughed at, and then appropriately said the whole line again.

Some other questions asked by my peers involved the grueling baseball season and how hard it is to stay with even while the Pirates are doing so awful. Greg and Steve admitted that it really does get old and weary at the end of the season, but they always manage to stay sane through it. Now, Steve doesn’t travel with the team anymore, John Wehner assumes his duties on the road, but Greg definitely has a lot on his hands at all times during the season. He said that October is probably his favorite time of the year because he can just go escape from baseball and sports and relax with his family. There’s no doubt that it would be incredibly hard to have that kind of job, especially when you are with a team that is as uncompetitive as the Pirates. They both sincerely love their jobs and have a great passion for baseball, and I wouldn’t expect either of the two to be leaving the Pirates anytime soon.

All-in-all it was a great experience for me. I have always had the dream of being an announcer for the Pirates, so the advice they gave me and the stories they told could really help me if I choose to pursue that dream. The only negative thing that came from this day was that now I’m especially anxious for the 2010 season to come.

Options

I miss baseball season. Like, a lot. You’d think a couple months away from the dismal baseball played by the Pittsburgh Pirates would be relieving, or relaxing… or something like that. This should be especially true because I live in Pittsburgh, and it is currently Steelers and Penguins season, but those two just don’t do it for me.
I miss baseball. I miss the Pirates. I miss the losing. I miss everyone making fun of me for being a fan. I miss the ballpark. I miss scalping tickets for under 5 dollars. I miss my favorite thing in this human life. 
While nothing I can say or do can bring next season any faster, all of these free-agent and trade rumors are keeping my head above water. Let’s get down to it. 
  • The Pirates signing of Akinori Iwamura has apparently opened up the management’s mind and opened up opportunities to sign more Japanese players. The Pirates are now trying to sign Ryota Igarashi, a 30 year old relief pitcher who throws in the high 90’s. Igarashi is right-handed, which is unfavorable for the Pirates (or at least should be), but there will be no complaints from me if they do sign him. He could be a legitimate replacement for Jesse Chavez. While he is by no means a main priority of the Pirates, he is definitely someone they are looking into.
  • Apparently the Pirates received some offers from the Brewers when they were shopping J.J. Hardy. The Brewers asked for either Paul Maholm or Zach Duke, but the Pirates quickly declined both offers, a very good move in my opinion. Management was hoping to land Hardy at the cheap cost of Matt Capps or Ryan Doumit, but they couldn’t make it happen. The Brewers recently traded Hardy to the Twins for Carlos Gomez, so we won’t be hearing any more about him.
  • The other big name in the Pirates offseason rumors is that of Ryan Doumit. The Pirates have made it clear they are still very willing to hear offers for him, and they have also said it has been that way since July. Candidates to try and get him are the Giants, Mariners, and Rays. This is a tough one to formulate an opinion on. If Doumit were to get traded, I definitely would not miss him, however, I think there is a very good chance his value will go way up from where it is now by the 2010 trade deadline. I would like to see the Pirates hold on to him until then, unless they can get something really good for him.
  • I stated in earlier posts that I really wanted to see the Pirates make a run at signing Jack Wilson again, but that will not be happening. The Mariners paid him $10 million this week to stay in Seattle. If the Pirates would have paid that price for him, I certainly would not have been happy. I think the Mariners gave him a little too much money there. But they could compete this year, and his defense is going to help them a lot. 
Other things that could be popping up are the aforementioned names of Zach Duke and Paul Maholm, although I don’t expect Neil to make any deals involving them. If he does, I’d expect it to be something that would make me very happy. I’m honestly not expecting too much out of those two next year; I really think they are pretty overrated in Pittsburgh (and that’s really saying something). I think the Pirates would be wise to trade Duke while his stock his so high. I don’t want to see him go out there this year and revert to his 2008 form and lose all trade value he has. I’d rather see Duke go than Maholm, in my book Paul is a safer bet to perform well in 2010 (plus I have his bobble head in my dorm room). 
So there you go, there’s the news, a couple days late, but written with style. 

Free Agency, Now There’s Something New

What? The Pirates are looking into sign free agents? This is weird… 

The Pirates main focus this offseason appears to be Rick Ankiel. There have also been rumors of the Pirates bringing back Jack Wilson, if they don’t have to pay his $8+ million option. Now bringing back Jack makes sense to me, to get some fans back in the ballpark and bring back that great team leadership and defense that he brought to the table for so many years. However, the talk about Rick Ankiel makes a lot less sense to me.

Now I’m not quite an expert, although I do like to think I’m almost there (hehe), but what do the Pirates want with a 30-year old outfielder on the downslope of his career when we already have Lastings Milledge, Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones, and Jose Tabata in the organization? Now, Garrett Jones could and should be moved exclusively to first base this year, assuming the Pirates finally give up on Steve Pearce like we are all waiting for them to do. This would leave an outfield spot open until Jose Tabata comes up and takes it, which will probably be at least until June of next season. There’s a good chance it will be longer than that too, but I still don’t get paying pretty good money to fill that void for those months.

The Pirates aren’t expected to seriously contend next year, and despite the lacking fan support and the pressure to put wins on the board in the present, I still believe our focus should be on the future. If Rick Ankiel were 25, then yeah, make the move and have him in case Jose Tabata doesn’t work out for whatever reason, but by the time we can know if Tabata is for real or not, Ankiel will be 32 or 33 and just about done. Sure, if the Pirates get him it will indefinitely give us more wins this year, but I think that will be the difference of 70 to 75, and will still leave us well out of playoff contention.

Now, if the Pirates do sign him, I’m not going to say I’m going to be mad. I have never really experienced the Pirates signing a player like this. I’ve seen them sign Kenny Lofton, Raul Mondesi, and Reggie Sanders, but I think Ankiel is definitely a better player than those guys were at the times of those signings. He would be a valuable tool as a starter in right field for those few months, a definite better option than Brandon Moss or Delwyn Young, but worth the money? I don’t think so.

I’m not sure Ankiel would be happy with coming off the bench, and I’m doubting the Pirates could keep him past 2010 anyways. If I were Neil Huntington, I would avoid Ankiel and try to spend my money elsewhere, like in starting pitching. Granted, there really aren’t many logical options out there for the Pirates this year as far as starters go, but it wouldn’t hurt to explore it. There are guys out there like Erik Bedard, Rich Hill, Justin Duscherer, and Adam Eaton, but I don’t see the Pirates even making offers to those guys.

Another player that is a free agent that I would be ecstatic to bring to Pittsburgh would be Chone Figgins who has been one of my favorite players for years. Although that makes very little sense as well, because he is primarily a third baseman who is 32 years old, and we all know that that third base position is going to be used to get another good look at Andy LaRoche until Pedro Alvarez is ready next summer. Although signing him would be confusing (and flat out not even going to be considered), I would be the first to go out and buy a Figgins Pirates jersey.

It should be interesting to see what happens this offseason, I am personally just hoping the Pirates sign someone to get their name mentioned on ESPN once or twice in these winter months, that would be something new.

The Pittsburgh Pirates, Relevant In November?

The Pirates made a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays yesterday that sent right handed relief pitcher Jesse Chavez packing and brought in second baseman Akinori Iwamura. I am probably the last blogger to write about the trade, but I would like to think some people still value my opinions. So here we go. 

Ultimately, this trade is going both ways in my mind. I was confused when I first heard it. Akinori is 31 years old and has most likely already hit his ceiling. This isn’t the kind of player the Pirates have been going after lately. He has 1 year left on his contract, which means the Pirates will lose him after this year unless they work out a new deal with him to keep him in Pittsburgh after the 2010 season. Now, Akinori has already said he would definitely be interested in working out such a deal, so that is good news. However, if they don’t work out that deal and we do lose him after one year, this move was definitely not a good one. Yes, the Pirates are pretty deep when it comes to right handed relievers, but losing Jesse Chavez is certainly not worth one year of a player like Akinori Iwamura, especially because no one expects the Pirates to seriously compete this year. 
Now just because the team isn’t expected to be in the playoff race, doesn’t mean the management shouldn’t go after guys to help them in the present. Why should Neil throw in the 2010 towel when he has opportunities to make the team better? He shouldn’t, and he is now showing that he is not completely unconcerned with the here and now. This is encouraging for me, although I am a complete advocate of building for the future, it sure is nice to see that the Pirates care about winning in 2010. The addition of Akinori Iwamura isn’t by any means going to put the Pirates over the top and send them on a 90 win season, but it sure doesn’t hurt. Delwyn Young is best served in a bench spot, and now he will be able to assume that role. 
The loss of Jesse Chavez means that the Pirates are really going to need guys like Evan Meek, Joel Hanrahan, and (especially) Matt Capps to step up and hold down the late innings. The long relief will be in the hands of Jeff Karstens, Kevin Hart, and whoever gets held out of the rotation besides those two. 
In other news, the Pirates may be pursuing Jack Wilson. Before they would consider that, the Mariners would have to pick up Wilson’s $8.4MM club option. If the Pirates can sign Jack to a 1 or 2 year deal and save that 8 million dollars, a lot of the fan support they lost during the fire sale last year would definitely come back. I think that is also one of the motives behind this trade, to make the fans realize that they are trying to compete this year so fans will come out to the ballpark. It’s hard to have fans when you do what the Pirates did last year, so I think a move like this was necessary. 
All-in-all, the trade was a good one. However, it could be a great one if the Pirates sign Iwamura to a 2 or 3 year deal. 
All of this Pirates talk has me excited. My reputation as a Pirates supporter has caught up with me here at Waynesburg, and I have had countless people ask me my position on this trade in the last 24 hours, I am loving life again. 
Let’s Go Bucs!

Looking For A Miracle…

The Dodgers couldn’t pull out a win last night and fell to the Phillies by the score of 10-4. This means the Phils will be making their second straight trip to the World Series, and they are looking like one heck of a team with a great shot at repeating. Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and JA Happ are the best 1-2-3 punch I have seen in the playoffs since Zito-Hudson-Mulder for the Athletics. Their offense is strong up and down and their bullpen has really been stepping it up. After a horrible year, Brad Lidge looks great. I don’t think I will be picking against the Phillies next week. 

As for tonight, the Angels are looking to push the series to a game 6 by getting a win tonight. The pitching matchup is AJ Burnett against John Lackey. In his last start, Burnett went 6.1 innings against this same Angels team, giving up 2 earned runs while striking out 4. Lackey went 5.2 winnings giving up 9 hits, 4 runs (2 earned) while only striking out 3 in his last start against the Yankees, a game the Angels lost by the score of 4-1. 
I expect John Lackey to step it up for the Angels tonight, he has always come up big in pressure situations and I expect nothing less tonight. 
While I can certainly see the Angels winning tonight, I do not believe they are going to win 3 straight and make a trip to the World Series, but that’s why they play the games, you never know. 
If the series does indeed turn out being a matchup of the Yankees and Phillies, I am going to be quite upset. I hate the Yankees foremost, but I really do not want to see the Phillies win another World Series either. If I were to pick one of them, I would cheer for the Phillies in a second, I just can’t stand seeing the Yankees win. 
In Pirates news, Mark Cuban told a bunch of Pitt students that he won’t be buying the Pirates. Shocker. 
Jim from North Side Notch has been doing fantastic work in the offseason so far, keeping everyone up to date with the fall league baseball going down. I personally have his Arizona Fall League Tracker post bookmarked, and I think you should to. 
Also, Brian and Tim from Raise The Jolly Roger and Bucco Fans, respectively, have been doing fantastic Pirates’ blogging work in the last weeks, be sure to check them out. 
As for me, it’s time to head back to the grind of the college life. 
Have a great day all, and let’s go Angels!

Was It Over When The Germans Bombed Pearl Harbor??

My least favorite team in the Major Leagues is the New York Yankees. One of my favorite American League teams is the Anaheim Angels. So, by this, it is clearly seen that I am pretty upset that the Yankees are up 3-1 and go to clinch the series tomorrow in Anaheim. 

Let’s focus on tonight for now, as the Philadelphia Phillies are looking to make a repeat trip to the World Series with a win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. I have been cheering against the Phillies all October, mainly because I am not a fan of repeats. I like variation in my sports, and the Dodgers haven’t been in the series for awhile, so I’ve been rooting for them. The Phillies are also up 3-1 after a convincing 11-0 victory in game 4. Tonight the pitching matchup is Cole Hamels vs. Vincent Padilla… advantage Philadelphia. 
I still see the Dodgers winning this game. I think they are too good of a team to lose 4-1. I think Padilla will step up and pitch well enough to win, and the Dodgers offense is definitely capable of putting some numbers up on Hamels, who has not been all that great this postseason. Now, when the Phillies send Cliff Lee to the bump to clinch the series, then I’m going to say it’s over, he has been untouchable as a Phillie. 
As for me, I am trying to rededicate myself to this blog. All my fellow Pirate bloggers are going about their business of regular posting and writing some great stuff, I feel it is my duty to do the same. My viewers have been dwindling, and I am really gonna try to build this blog up this winter to have a big audience when next season rolls around. So tell your friends, link to me, do whatever to help the cause !
Let’s Go Dodgers!

Playoff Predictions…

Baseball in October is one of the great things about life. Since March of this year, baseball is just not the same without a blog, so here I am, making my first post that has nothing to do with the Pirates (well… for the most part). Here’s my (quick) preview of the 2009 Postseason:

Rockies vs. Phillies:
Call me crazy, but I don’t see how the Rockies got to where they are today. In my opinion, they don’t have a real great team. Sure, solid enough to win the wild card, but I think a lot of that was just a couple hot streaks and a weak division accompanying those streaks that got them into the postseason. They are really no match for the Phillies, especially in a short series. They will face Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and JA Happ in the first 3 games of this series. I don’t care who you are, that’s a tough series to win, and I especially don’t believe the Rockies can do it, they do have Jim Tracy as a manager, after all. Phillies in 3.

Cardinals vs. Dodgers:
The Cardinals are a scary good team, especially when it comes to postseason baseball. The Dodgers have the NL’s best record, but they have been slumping lately, and I personally don’t think they are built for the post season. They have one of the deadliest offenses in the game, but the pitching isn’t there. Randy Wolf is starting game 1, which is ugly. Clayton Kershaw has some of the nastiest stuff in the playoffs, but he’s still young and very inconsistent. I like the Cardinals to take this one fairly easily. Cardinals in 4. 


Yankees vs. Twins:


The Yankees are another team I don’t see suited for the postseason, however if CC and Joba can get it together they could be a better team than anyone. Those are the big question marks, they paid Sabathia all that money, and he hasn’t earned it yet. Chamberlain is still a big question mark in that rotation. Burnett is a very solid guy, I think he is going to put up some nice numbers. The Twins really have no chance in this series. The pitching isn’t there and neither is the Justin Morneau. Yankees in 4. 
Red Sox vs. Angels:

This one kills me. I hate the Red Sox, almost more than anyone, and the Angels have always been a favorite team of mine. However, they have been just atrocious in these series’ with the Sox. I like their team, however it really doesn’t match up well. I think they have a definite shot at game 1, but after that it gets questionable. Boston’s rotation is deeper, and their bullpen is one of the best in the game. Red Sox in 5 
After that, my World Series prediction is Cardinals vs. Yankees, with the Cardinals winning it in 6. I can’t find a better team than St. Louis right now. Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright are both Cy Young candidates, and you can’t find a better hitter in the world than Albert Pujols. The bullpen is a little iffy, but I can see them stepping it up and winning another ring.
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