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.
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:
- The first one is a petition to try and impose a salary cap on Major League Baseball. Now I personally think this is really ridiculous and there is no way a bunch of people signing this is actually going to get Major League Baseball to take action, but you might as well do it anyways. If you are sitting here with enough time to read a Pittsburgh Pirates’ blog, you probably don’t have much better to do with your life.
- The next two I got from Brian over at Raise The Jolly Roger, this first one is to make Brewers shortstop Alcides Escobar pay the price for abandoning his daughter before her birth. The guy is obviously a creep, and a Brewer, so go sign this and make the guy suffer a little bit.
- The third and final petition you guys can sign is petitioning to get MLB Network to show Dock Ellis’s 1970 no-hitter against the Padres.
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.
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.
- 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.
What? The Pirates are looking into sign free agents? This is weird…
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 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.