March 2012

Workout Day Wednesday

Opening Day is only one week away but the Pirates have made their fans very excited by conducting a workout day on Wednesday the day before the home opener.

The event is free and the Highmark Legacy Square entrance in left field, next to the ticket windows is where the fans will go in at 2:30.

The Pirates will be taking BP at 3 PM and the Phillies will be hitting at 5 PM.

The event is free and so far the Pirates have confirmed that left field will be open. According to a Pirates customer service representative, other sections that will be open are up to Manager Clint Hurdle and a few others. The representative said that upper deck sections will be closed as will section 101 since the Budweiser Bowtie Bar will not be completed.

Be sure to satisfy your baseball hangover by attending the fun event and see how the players prepare for Opening Day.

Final Predictions 2012 MLB Standings

With Opening Day being closer than ever, I will use this post to make my final predictions for how every team will finish.

NL East:

1. Phillies

2. Marlins (wild card)

3. Braves

4. Nationals

5. Mets

NL Central:

1. Reds

2. Cardinals

3. Brewers

4. Pirates

5. Cubs

6. Astros

NL West:

1. Diamondbacks

2. Giants

3. Dodgers

4. Rockies

5. Padres

AL East:

1. Yankees

2. Rays

3. Red Sox

4. Blue Jays

5. Orioles

AL Central:

1. Tigers

2. Indians

3. Royals

4. Twins

5. White Sox

AL West:

1. Rangers

2. Angels (wild card)

3. Mariners

4. A’s

NL:

NLDS

Phillies defeat Marlins 4 games to 2
Reds defeat Diamondbacks 4 games to 3

NLCS

Reds defeat Phillies 4 games to 2

ALDS:

Angels defeat Rangers 4 games to 2
Tigers defeat Yankees 4 games to 2

ALCS:

Tigers defeat Angels 4 games to 3

World Series:

Tigers defeat Reds 4 games to 1

Ballhawking 2012: Now on Facebook

Today I just built a Facebook page for my cause Ballhawking 2012 Proudly Supporting The Children’s Institute. For those unsure, here is how this cause will work:

Hello my name is Zac Weiss and I am a sophomore at Point Park University. Having caught 206 baseballs, almost all of them at batting practice, I wanted to find a way to put this to good use. Last year, I decided to start Ballhawking 2011 Proudly Supporting The Children’s Institute. This was done so that I could use my ability to snag baseballs and allow it to raise money for The Children’s Institute. Last year I started in June, but now in year #2, I want to start the full season and try to make this initiative more successful.

Here is how you can help:

1. Pledge money for every baseball I snag: As a heads up, I caught 137 baseballs last year, but it would be great to see people help out. Some people pledged .50 cents per baseball last year, and this helped out in a big way.

2. Make a one time (or as many times as you would like) contribution: I understand that times are tough, but some people chose this option last year. If you can make more than one of these, that would be great.

3. Bid on various items: I created the Facebook page to interact with people throughout the baseball season. I also will use the page to put up images of many of the things I will put up that way you can view them before you bid. Expect to see autographed items, programs, ticket stubs, baseballs and more. I will price things fairly. Among the autographs I got last year were: Tim Lincecum, Adrian Gonzalez and Matt Kemp. These were huge signatures and the Gonzalez signature was a big sell. Many people chose these options and you never know what I will put up.

I appreciate any support that can be given. To like the page, feel free to visit http://www.facebook.com/ballhawking2012.

Erik Bedard the right man to start the home opener?

Earlier this week, Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle announced that Erik Bedard will start the home opener April 5th vs the Phillies. He also named his four man rotation, which is as follows.

1. Erik Bedard

2. Jeff Karstens

3. James McDonald

4. Kevin Correia

There definitely are positives and negatives to Bedard starting:

Positives:

1. Bedard will be starting his third opener, which means he knows what to expect and can tune out the distractions that surround the opener. All of the players and coaches from both teams will be introduced and things tend to run long, as the Pirates have all kinds of honors and awards and thus Bedard may be the right man for the job.

2. Bedard has looked impressive during Spring Training and Hurdle is awarding him for this. You can’t go wrong with going with a hot hand.

3. Bedard is a ground ball pitcher which favors the Pirates well. Clint Barmes and Neil Walker are a solid defensive middle infield and should have no problem handling any of the grounders that are hit their way.

4. Bedard could be a silent leader, and has had successful seasons. A great start and a win over Roy Halladay could be what this team needs. It could fire up a young pitching staff and be what makes this team finally become consistent winners.

5. Phillies hit .247 against Bedard with 19 hits in 77 at-bats. Jimmy Rollins hits .182 against Bedard with two strikeouts in 11 at-bats. Jim Thome is a .263 hitter against Bedard in 19 at-bats. While he does have a homer and two RBI against him, Thome has struck out six times against Bedard. Shane Victorino has zero hits in two at-bats against Bedard. Ty Wigginton is a .259 hitter against Bedard and has struck out nine times in 27 at-bats vs Bedard.

Negatives:

1. Hurdle brings a lefty out to start the opener. The Pirates do not have another lefty in the rotation, and that means that teams will face four righties in a row often times. It is not a great balance and could come back to haunt the Pirates.

2. Roy Halladay is the starter and Halladay does not make many mistakes. Bedard had a rough 2011 season which included injury. With no Ryan Howard or Chase Utley in the lineup, and Raul Ibanez on the New York Yankees, the lefty power bats are all gone. Starting Bedard would have been ideal last year, but now those lefties are gone and that strategy is out of the window.

3. Jeff Karstens had the best 2011 of the Pirates pitchers and is one of the longer tenured Pirates. Despite a few too many walks, he has been solid this Spring Training and has been consistent much like last season. It makes no sense that the Pirates do not reward Karstens by having him take the mound on the home opener. Not to mention that Karstens survived a tense atmosphere and had a very good start against the Phillies at PNC Park last season.

4. His injury history still is a concern. Yes it is a concern no matter when injuries happen, but if Bedard gets injured on the opener it would be disaster. With A.J. Burnett out and Charlie Morton likely not 100% ready for the season right now, this could put the Pirates in a downward spiral. The Pirates pride themselves on quick starts, and they already may have the toughest opening month in the majors.

Happy birthday to you

The following Pirates have birthdays during the 2012 regular season. This list will be smaller, as these are the players/coaches you could see on their birthday. In other words, these Pirates players/coaches have birthdays on dates the Pirates are scheduled to play at PNC Park.

Evan Meek May 12- Pirates at home vs Houston
Brad Lincoln May 25- Pirates are at home vs Chicago (NL)
Tony Watson May 30- Pirates are at home vs Cincinnati
Garrett Jones June 21- Pirates are at home vs Minnesota
Jared Hughes July 4- Pirates are at home vs Houston
Josh Harrison July 8- Pirates are at home vs San Francisco
Alex Presley July 25- Pirates are at home vs Chicago (NL)
Jose Tabata August 12- Pirates are at home vs San Diego
Nick Leyva August 16- Pirates are at home vs Los Angeles (NL)
Kevin Correia August 24- Pirates are at home vs Milwaukee
Euclides Rojas August 25- Pirates are at home vs Milwaukee
Rod Barajas September 5- Pirates are at home vs Houston

From the vault: Pittsburgh Pirates 2010 Opening Day Roster

This was less than two years ago, and this was the Opening Day roster. The date was April 5, 2010 and then Manager John Russell had this as his 25 man roster.

Pitchers-

DJ Carrasco- Carrasco was special in that he is able to pitch normally and sidearm. He was on the New York Mets last season and was traded from the Pirates to the Arizona Diamondbacks on the July trade deadline. The Pirates got Chris Snyder and Pedro Ciriaco in return and neither is on the team any more.

Brendan Donnelly- Donnelly won the World Series with the Anaheim Angels. He signed a one year deal worth $1.5 million. His velocity was down considering his animated delivery. He was released on July 25, 2010 right before he could reach incentives that could have doubled his salary. He had a 5.58 ERA with the Pirates. He retired on March 9, 2011.

Octavio Dotel- Dotel served as the Pirates closer. He got 21 saves on the season before being traded. He may not have been the best of closers but allowed Evan Meek and Joel Hanrahan to have solid roles in the 7th and 8th innings. Meek became an All-Star the next season and Hanrahan the following season, and both credit Dotel for his help. He was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for James McDonald and Andrew Lambo, a deal which to this day was huge for the Pirates. Both are still with the Pirates and McDonald will have a prominant role in the 2012 Pirates rotation. Since the trade, Dotel has played for the Colorado Rockies, Toronto Blue Jays, St. Louis Cardinals and Detroit Tigers. Dotel was a part of the World Series winning Cardinals after coming on after the trade deadline.

Zach Duke (Opening Day Starter)- Duke’s Opening Day start was an 11-5 win over the Dodgers. He went 8-15 with a 5.72 ERA. He remained hittable and predictable. He was traded following the season to the Diamondbacks for Cesar Valdez who is no longer in the Pirates organization.

Javier Lopez- Lopez, a lefty, had a great sidearm delivery which would fool hitters. He went 2-2 with a 2.79 ERA. He was traded at the deadline to the San Francisco Giants for Joe Martinez and John Bowker. Neither is with the Pirates organization any more. The Giants won the World Series that year and was a big part of that. He still pitches for the Giants.

Paul Maholm- Maholm was a solid and reliable pitcher but went 9-15 with a 5.10 ERA. Last season he was a pitcher that was better than his record indicated as the dormant Pirates offense did not support him much. An injury he had been hiding for over a year was too much to overcome and he could not finish the 2011 season. The Pirates did pick up his option and he was signed by the Chicago Cubs.

Daniel McCutchen- Still with the Pirates, no longer a starter but in the bullpen. Should stay there for the 2012 season.

Evan Meek- Still with the Pirates. Will likely serve as the set-up man to Joel Hanrahan assuming health is right.

Charlie Morton- Morton struggled in 2010 leading to trips to the Minor Leagues and lack of confidence. Morton came back, switched his motion and is back and better than ever. Not expected to be ready for Opening Day due to injury, but should come back by early-May.

Ross Ohlendorf- Ohlendorf got no run support in 2010 and went 1-11 with a 4.07 ERA. Ohlendorf won arbitration in 2011, but injuries held him back. When he came back, he clearly was not the same pitcher and was outrighted off of the 40 man roster in the off-season. He is now in the Boston Red Sox organization.

Hayden Penn- Penn was claimed off waivers from the Pirates after the Florida Marlins waived him. He pitched the opener in relief and looked terrible. After allowing 8 runs in 2.1 innings, he was designated for assignment and outrighted to AAA Indianapolis. His contract was sold to the Chiba Lotte Marines during the 2010 season and he helped them win the Nippon World Series. He started and won game five of the World Series that year. He had elbow surgery in 2011 and did not pitch.

Jack Taschner- Taschner’s signing did not pan out and on June 9, 2010 he was designated for assignment after a 6.05 ERA in 17 appearances. He declared free agency 10 days later after refusing an assignment to the Minors. He signed a Minor League contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 27, 2010 and was sent to their AAA team. He appeared in only three games with the team and was designated for assignment with them and elected free agency instead of an assignment. He has since retired and is now a police officer in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Catcher

Ryan Doumit- Doumit’s career is known here. He hit .251 hitting 13 homers and 45 RBI. He hit well last season before an injury. He is now on the Minnesota Twins.

Jason Jaramillo- Jaramillo is a switch hitter and hit .149 with 1 homer and 8 RBI. He was touted for his defense. He had his chances last season but was sent to the Minors. When the Pirates had their catching injuries, Jaramillo was a part of that paving the way for Michael McKenry who the Pirates needed to trade for. Jaramillo fell out of favor and is now in the Chicago Cubs organization.

Infielders

Ronny Cedeno- Cedeno hit .256 with 8 HR and 38 RBI in 2010. Fans were never satisfied with him and Manager Clint Hurdle never seemed satisfied with him. This was shown by him not coming back to the team for the 2012 season. Cedeno currently is with the New York Mets organization.

Jeff Clement- Clement hit .201 with 7 HR and 12 RBI. He had some power but consistently hit long balls foul. He appeared overmatched. He had an injury which he spent last year recovering from and will likely back up Matt Hague in AAA Indianapolis to start out the 2012 season.

Bobby Crosby- Bobby Crosby was brought in to come off the bench and provide help for the Pirates and some clubhouse leadership. He hit .224 with 1 HR and 11 RBI with the Pirates. He was traded with Carrasco to the Diamondbacks, where he played just nine games before being released on August 24, 2010. He has not played since.

Aki Iwamura- Iwamura was playing with a knee brace and hings never worked out. He hit .182 with 2 HR and 9 RBI. He was supposed to be the answer but was not. With Iwamura slumping, Neil Walker was brought up and forced to play out of position. Iwamura was sent to AAA on June 22, 2010. He was designated for assignment on August 6, 2010 and released two days later. He joined the Oakland Athletics on September 13, 2010 but lasted only until October 4, 2010 when he was released. He played in Japan last season and only hit .183 with 0 HR and 9 RBI in 197 plate appearances.

Andy LaRoche- With Perry Hill gone, LaRoche saw a regression defensively and hit .206 with 4 HR and 16 RBI. He was not getting the job done and Pedro Alvarez was called up and quickly surpassed LaRoche. He was designated for assignment on November 20, 2010. He signed a deal with the Athletics on January 24, 2011 and made the Opening Day Roster. He played in 40 games hitting .247 with 0 HR and 5 RBI in 93 at-bats. On June 5, 2011 he was designated for assignment and sent to their AAA affiliate. He elected free agency after the season and signed a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training in December with the Cleveland Indians.

Delwyn Young- Young made the club as a bench player in 2010 and as a switch hitter hit .236 with 7 HR and 28 RBI. He was most known for his homer hit off Stephen Strasburg in his Major League debut. On January 6, 2011 he signed a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training with the Philadelphia Phillies. He just missed making the Opening Day roster and on November 2 was granted free agency. He signed minor league contract with the Chicago White Sox on January 24.

Outfielders

Ryan Church- Church hit .182 with 3 HR and 18 RBI in his half season with the Pirates. His highlight was an Opening Day double against the Dodgers which plated two runs. He was also a part of the deal to the Arizona Diamondbacks. He hit .265 with the Diamondbacks with 2 HR and 7 RBI in 49 at-bats. He was non-tendered following the season and has not played since.

Garrett Jones- Jones still is with the Pirates and will be the club’s starting first baseman come April 5th.

Andrew McCutchen- Still with the club and signed a new extension. Will man centerfield.

Lastings Milledge- The 2010 season was Milledge’s last as a Pirate. He hit .277 with 4 HR and 34 RBI but was known for his many base running gaffes during the season. He was signed to a minor league deal with the White Sox on February 3, 2011. On March 30, 2011 the White Sox bought out his contract and Milledge made the Opening Day roster. He was designated for assignment on April 7 though and accepted an assignment to AAA. He had four at-bats with the White Sox getting one hit, a double. He elected free agency following the season and on December 27, 2011, he signed with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows.

John Raynor- Raynor was the Pirates Rule-5 seleection and hit .200 in 10 plate appearances. He was designated for assignment April 27, 2010 to make room for Jeff Karstens. The Pirates wanted to keep him but had to offer him to the Marlins on May 4. Raynor failed to make the Opening Day roster with the Marlins in 2011, and he was released March 23. At the age of 27, Raynor retired and is a coach/student at UNC-Wilmington.

One final note is that Jose Ascanio and Joel Hanrahan were on the disabled list on Opening Day. Of the Opening Day Roster and Disabled List, only six of these players remain on the Pirates team.

From the vault: Jeff Andrews Interview

I was going through my recorder and found this brief 2008 interview with then Pirates pitching coach Jeff Andrews. Here it is:

Note: The following was a brief interview with Jeff Andrews, the Pirates pitching coach in 2008 at PirateFest 2008. He had spent the previous five seasons in the Pirates Minor League System coaching the players. The pitchers seemed to support him being in the big leagues. This was the year Matt Morris pitched only thru April. Andrews was fired following the 2008 season and is now with the Frisco Roughriders the AA affiliate of the Texas Rangers

On starters: “The four younger ones all have under three years of experience and you have to remember that first. With that youth, comes growing pains and learning how to pitch. Now that they’ve been through the league, they know hitters better, they know ballparks better and they know travel, you’ll see a lot of things you may put down as inexperience change.”

Bullpen: “Neal Huntington did a great job and he’s going after a lot of arms. We’re going to narrow it down and watch in Spring Training and see who emerges. It’s going to hopefully be good, healthy competition for those last three or four bullpen spots.”

Note: The following was a brief interview with Jeff Andrews, the Pirates pitching coach in 2008 at PirateFest 2008. He had spent the previous five seasons in the Pirates Minor League System coaching the players. The pitchers seemed to support him being in the big leagues. This was the year Matt Morris pitched only thru April. Andrews was fired following the 2008 season and is now with the Frisco Roughriders the AA affiliate of the Texas Rangers.

Remember this was 2008, so I was not quite sure of everything, so I ended it there. If I was who I was now, I would have asked more. It seems like his stint with the team lasted just as long as this interview.

2012 Pittsburgh Pirates promotional schedule

Obvious note: This is not actually the Pirates promotional schedule

Pirates fans,

Normally Frank Coonelly would be writing you this letter and then dating it a week or two after someone actually wrote it for him, but he was unfortunately had some alcohol in his system when we finalized our schedule. Allow me to introduce myself, I am Robert Nutting and as a token of my appreciation, here is a coupon good for one free minute at Seven Springs, thanks so much for your support of the Pirates. I know it has been 19 years of frustration, but we have added to our promotional schedule in hopes that you will continue to support our team.

We hope to see you early and often in 2012!

Fondly,

Robert Nutting

2012 Pittsburgh Pirates Promos
1. A.J. Burnett Eye Patch Day- A.J. Burnett was supposed to be our savior, but it was a bunt that ended any chances of that. This patch signifies any chance of the Pirates winning the division. Also comes with a replica of one of A.J. Burnett’s many tattoos.

2. Frank Coonelly Survival Kit- There is an adult survival kit and a child’s one. Adult’s kit consists of: rum, scotch, typewriter, 1980′s telephone, hair gel and a two day old Primanti Bro’s sandwich. Child’s kit consists of: bruised ego, ham and cheese sandwich, picture of the Pirate Parrot, “grape juice” and Dave Littlefield growth chart. Stay thirty Pirates friends.

3. Clint Hurdle Replica Hawaiian T-Shirt Day- You’ve seen him wear it at countless charity events, and now Old Navy has partnered with the Pirates to offer a replica of the Clint Hurdle Hawaiian T-shirt. Celebrate the Pirates win in style, and if the Pirates win all fans 21 and over are invited to Calico Jack’s with the Pirate Parrot for a postgame party. No Frank Coonelly will not be there.

4. Joel Hanrahan Beard Kit- Brian Wilson who? You get to disguise yourself as Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan, and maybe get a halloween costume early. 52 lucky fans will get to wear their beard and pose with Hanrahan.

5. Pirates Rally Cap- Use your imagination

6. Kids Mike McKenry Growth Chart- Hey, wait a second!

7. Jerry Meals Bobblehead- Jerry Meals says it’s safe to own this bobblehead.

8. Kids Kent Tekulve Figurine- Kid to mom, “Mom, why is this an egg?”

9. Free USA Olympics Replica Jacket- Taser and crowd not included

10. Chance to be grounds crew member for a day- Get to experience no rain yet a decision to cancel a batting practice mere moments before the Pirates do.

11. Invisible promotion- We had a promotion, we swear, but we don’t have it anymore.

12. Clint Hurdle Rap Album- Singles such as “P-Box/X-Box” “Just Bunt” “I’m a Yinzer” and “What?!”

13. Clint Hurdle All-In Poster- Go all-in with this poster of second year manager Clint Hurdle.

14. Photoshop Bobblehead- Three bobbleheads mixed together with a current Pirates’ picture inserted in as the head.

15. Jeff Karstens Barbie Doll- No real need to comment on this one.

16. Clint Hurdle Bunting Video- Video is first in a series of seven featuring Clint Hurdle saying the word bunt for five straight minutes.

17. Fishing with the Pirates- Second in series of seven videos featuring James McDonald, Daniel McCutchen, Kevin Correia, Neil Walker and A.J. Burnett.

18. Pirates vs Braves the 19 Inning Game- Third in series of seven videos featuring Jerry Meals, Mike McKenry and Julio Lugo.

19. Best (?) of Root Sports- Fourth in a series of seven videos featuring Lacee Collins and much more.

20. Ronny Cedeno highlight video- Fifth in a series of seven videos featuring bad fielding, hitting and bad mustaches.

21. Lyle Overbay/Matt Diaz highlight video- Sixth in a series of seven videos featuring singles, strikeouts and terrible fielding.

22. Best of the Pittsburgh Pirates Trainers 2011 season- Seventh in a series of seven videos honoring all of the injuries Pirates trainers failed to diagnose last season.

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