Results tagged ‘ Delwyn Young ’

Why the Pirates have been slumping

Catcher- Chris Snyder just came back and is starting to produce. Ryan Doumit is still not the answer defensively and his hitting was not good either. Jason Jaramillo was sent down and was the best of the three thus far as Snyder was injured. Jaramillo continued his good hitting from Spring Training and defensively is a clear improvement over Doumit. It seemed like the team never traded Doumit and the three catchers either are good offensively or defensively but never both. Thus they all are missing a part of the game and it sets the team back.

First Base- Lyle Overbay has been a mixed bag. This “great defender” blew a play the second game of the season which cost the team a game. Overbay hit a nice home run against St. Louis, but hs hitting is not great. Much like Adam LaRoche, the lefty Overbay is known as a slow starter and this haunts the team. Overbay has not had a hit against lefties and in a power position, and he cost a good deal of money for not producing. He is going to have to do more, or else Steve Pearce may get some looks at first base.

Second Base- Neil Walker has been one of the best performing Pirates. He has picked up where he left off last season. The average is down and the strikeouts are up, however the power has improved and he is showing that he can defensively handle the second base positon. Walker will need to continue hitting like this, and he will have to hit better against lefties. He also struggled during the homestand and he will have to hit better for the hometown crowd.

 Shortstop- Aki Iwamura gave up his position to Neil Walker, and if Ronny Cedeno is not careful, he could be next. Pedro Ciriaco had no reason to be sent down, especially since we have seen Cedeno and Josh Rodriguez get off to less than stellar starts. Cedeno usually starts off fast, and offensively he has not done much and he just is not getting the job done. Rodriguez has also had some good looks and he is just as bad. He was kept for his power, and I don’t see any power and I see a lack of patience at the plate. Cedeno has made a couple of spectacular plays at the shortstop position, however the routine plays such as grounders and turning the double play are just not up to snuff. Every time a grounder is hit his way, I hold my breath as it is an adventure. The shortstop position will need to produce more offensively and defensively will need to field their position.

Third base- Pedro Alvarez is expected to be the next big thing here in Pittsburgh. He is expected to be a power hitter and as a free swinger, is being compared to Adam Dunn. This season he has not met expectations. He is a notorious slow starter and in AAA last year hit in the .220′s this season. Alvarez will heat up when the weather gets hotter. His fielding is another story. His weight is in question and his fielding is inconsistent. He can make the plays half the time, and his arm strength is strong sometimes a little too strong. Steve Pearce has had looks at third and offensively hasn’t done much and defensively hasn’t done anything wrong, but hasn’t been truly tested. For all we know, he can do well but otherwise is could be another Delwyn Young experiment gone wrong.

Outfield- Jose Tabata has been the most complete player this season. He showed commitment to the team by putting on muscle and playing in the winter. He has already stolen seven bases and has added the home run to his game. He did well hitting leadoff but last night was bumped to the number two spot in the order. Despite his speed, he seems unsure in left field when he has to backpedal. Andrew McCutchen is known as a slow starter, however fans expected more from him after he tore the cover off of the ball in Spring Training. It seemed initially as though it would work as he hit two homers to start the season against the Cubs, but has since slumped. Clint Hurdle has tried to get him going again batting him leadoff but he struck out four times and was not a part of the offense. Furthermore McCutchen has as many steals for the team as I do right now- ZERO. McCutchen said at PirateFest that he wanted to have that “Ricky Henderson mentality” and know that the base was his when he would steal a base. He has looked like Lastings Milledge out there as the other day he was caught in a run-down. He like Alvarez will heat up soon. The platoon of Matt Diaz and Garrett Jones has not worked out well so far, with Jones hitting the lone homer. Diaz has been starting more as of late and he got two of the Pirates four hits on Wednesday against the Milwaukee Brewers. They need to produce now as that has been a part of the offense that has been missing. Finally we have not had a good look at John Bowker yet, but we know that he earned his spot with a solid Spring Training. He has been relegated to pinch hitting but has not done much with that. I say give him a start and see what happens.

 Starters- The ace has been Kevin Correia and minus one inning on his start on Wednesday, he has pitched magnificantly. Correia gave up that homer to Fielder and was unable to field a bunt on Wednesday and that cost him, but he was able to pitch well in his previous starts. He will have to continue to pitch well as he is the ace, but I am unsure as to how long he can keep this up. Paul Maholm had his second great start on Thursday against the Brewers but took the loss giving up two runs in the first inning and was not helped by the offense or lack thereof. Paul has looked like Zach Duke at times as he has looked very hittable. He will have to be able to pitch inside more like he is trying to do. Ross Ohlendorf was the weakest looking of the starters, as he pitched ok at best in his first start against the Cubs and now is injured and Jeff Karstens has been forced back into the starting rotation when he will pitch tomorrow against the Cincinnati Reds. Charlie Morton has been nothing but stellar for the team, getting a complete game win last night. He changed his arm angle in Spring Training and the walks are finally down. I believe that before he was tipping his pitches, and now is getting a ton of groundballs due in large part to that newfound sinker. James McDonald was slated to be the team’s ace until his injury in Spring Training. I don’t have much on him, but now he should be able to pitch deeper in the games. He just needs to stop those innings where he labors. He seems to pitch 30-40 pitches in an inning and it effects how far he can go in his starts.

Bullpen- The plesant surprise has been Mike Crotta. That new sinker has proven to be vital and he already is a staple in the bullpen. Chris Resop had some trouble against the Chicago Cubs in the second game of the season, but since has looked pretty good and has picked up from where he left off last season. Joe Beimel is back off of the disabled list and we soon will find out what he has. He can be used in many different capacities and is the lone lefty in the bullpen after Garrett Olsen was designated for assignment. He was ok at best, but he was a good filler. Beimel is in his second tour of duty with the Pirates. Daniel McCutchen was called up during the season and he will now serve as the long reliever with Jeff Karstens now in the rotation. His ERA was a bit high last season and he will have to limit the mistakes. Jose Veras slow the pace of play when he pitches and earned the loss on Saturday against the Colorado Rockies when he gave up three runs in that infamous sixth inning. He has good stuff but needs to place his pitches in more adventageous positions so that he can take command of the batter. Evan Meek is finally coming back after the shoulder injury and before had a couple of bad outings in a row. Meek was sick it cost him dearly as his placement was off. He would leave pitches up to where hitters had no problem hitting him. When he came back Wednesday against the Brewers, his fastball topped at 92 when it usually tops out at 96-97 so the arm is not 100% yet. Lastly, Joel Hanrahan has done a solid job. He is not being called upon to close the game as much as the team only won one of six total games thru the first homestand. Hanrahan is the only closer in the NL Central who has not yet blown a save and he just seems to have extra competitiveness when he squares off against the hitter. Hanrahan is showing the Pirates that the made the right decision when it came to who would close the game.

PirateFest 2011 Sunday Recap

 Because the Pirates gave me two more free season ticket passes for PirateFest I decided that I would go to Sunday, the last day of PirateFest.

 I went to Sunday’s event with my friend Andrew. He arrived at my house a little late and thus when we went into line it was a couple of minutes after one, when the gates opened. His brother went with him, and when we went back into line where the line went as far back as the Convention Center would allow and then wrapped around. The line did not move as quickly as Friday and it took about 10-15 minutes to get in.

 We parted ways when we got inside and I immediately went back into the MVP Zone. I of course went to the autograph line fully expected to be surrounded by spoiled brats, as Sunday is usually kids day, but that was not the case, as I waited to get the signatures of Paul Maholm and Ross Ohlendorf. Maholm apparently took the 28 off of his signature at PirateFest.

 Something I forgot to mention in Friday’s entry was that I had a brief conversation with him when I got my picture taken at the FanFoto booth. The Pirates had a few players there periodically throughout PirateFest and I happened to stumble upon Paul. We took a photo and chatted. I wish I could have received the photo as Paul and I both had great smiles, but it was $25 for two pictures. I am not paying that much for two pictures regardless of the size. It didn’t matter that I didn’t have enough money with me, the price was nuts.

 I ran into Val Kercher, my 10 pack representative two seasons ago. She was the one who first recommended me being a season ticket holder. We caught up a bit and then Ohlendorf overheard me saying that that past Tuesday was my birthday, and he said “Happy birthday” to me, rather loudly which was surprising.

 I then left the area and went over to the PirateFest Stage where Evan Meek had just finished a game and he was coming down the steps. I had on my new black and yellow/gold Pirates shoes and I went right to him. Meek said an enthusiastic “Hey Zac! What’s up?” He then offered a handshake which I took. We took this opportunity to catch up as about 10-15 other people came up to him. People were asking him for autographs and pictures and he ignored them in favor of a three minute conversation with Meek.

 We had a great conversation and he signed my PirateFest program before we parted ways. This is why Meek is my favorite Pirate, he is a great guy both on a off the field and I cannot say enough great things about me. Evan, if you are reading this, shoot me a text, I can’t wait to see you in April!

 After our nice conversation, we parted ways with another handshake and he signed for those who had asked before leaving.

 I then started to walk around and quickly my back problems resurfaced, but I ran into a ton of familiar faces again and we struck all kinds of conversations.

 A couple of guys that I talked to a lot were Anup Sinha and Matt Weprich of ProScout Magazine. They had a special magazine on Pirates Prospects and rankings of them and it was an interesting read. I do not know much about the prospects, which is something I will get to do soon, but we had a few nice conversations between the two days I was present about all kinds of things and it was exciting. The booth was never really that crowded which was a shame because it would have been great to see them get more business, but they were great guys and it was great to interact with them.

 I then went over to PirateFest field and caught the end of the Youth Clinic with Jeff Banister and Manager Clint Hurdle. I was just in time to see a kid ask Jeff Banister if he had any World Series rings. Banister kindly responded that he did not but showed the kid his minor league ring and let him hold it and pass it around. Hurdle then said that he had been to the World Series three times, once as a player, once as manager and once as a coach and he did not win in any of the three appearances. Hurdle then remarked that he heard somewhere that the “fourth time was a charm”, which drew some laughs from the crowd, which was mostly made up of parents and their children.

 Hurdle and Banister then signed some autographs, and I went over to talk once again to Joe Klimcak and we caught up and talked some Pirates baseball and it was nice, because we never have had a conversation just involving Pirates baseball and we also seemed to be in agreement. At that point Hurdle came over as he was leaving for the day and he thanked Joe for everything and then he shook my hand last before departing through the curtain and leaving. I guess I can say that I left a lasting impression.

 After that, Andrew and I caught up and walked around together. At that point Evan Meek was being interviewed by a radio station at the radio booth and after the interview was over, he signed some more autographs, and I introduced him to Andrew and his brother got Meek’s autograph.

 After a couple more minutes, I split apart from them in favor of the MVP Zone, where Doug Drabek, a past Pirates hero whose son Kyle is a current Toronto Blue Jay and Jose Tabata were signing autographs.

 While in line I saw ballhawk Erik Jabs, and exchanged hellos. I told him that I was going to talk to Tabata entirely in Spanish and checked with him to make sure I was saying a sentence right, which I was. Tabata was not talking to anyone and I figured that perhaps talking en espanol would break the ice.

 After one last signature, it was my turn. I wish that I had brought my camera today, but unfortunately I did not. I started off my conversation with Tabata, and I was right as I talked entirely in Spanish, and I could barely hear him, but as expected he talked quite fast but we held a conversation for a minute or two and then I said thanked him and said good-bye. I then got Drabek’s autograph on a separate PirateFest program, thanked him and left.

 I then ran into Danny a season ticket holder and Erik came into the conversation soon after. It was a nice 10-15 minute conversation and then we all parted ways.

 The wait was a little while so I caught up to Andrew who did see a part of our conversation. Nothing special really happened but it was cool to walk around and hang out.

 We then came to the West Penn pitching booth again which noticable looked worse for the wear as the top left part was not up and it was folded back because someone threw a hard pitch.

 After that I saw that Andrew McCutchen was by himself in the MVP Zone and the line was backed up past the entrance. I decided to go for it and sure enough I parted ways with Andrew and got in line.

 The wait was a little while, especially since my back was a mess. Still, I saw Matt Peaslee again and that made things better. We talked for a little bit and ultimately took a picture. Again please visit his blog, as it is a great blog about the Pirates. He also bought a Delwyn Young banner for $25 while at PirateFest. The banner is only one of two (Delwyn has the other) and are the banners that hang outside of PNC Park. Again please follow his blog at http://pittpeas.mlblogs.com.

 When I got up front, I heard McCutchen mutter something but I just could not make anything out.

 When I left I walked around a bit more and struck more conversation. I checked out some cards and some things that I never got to see on Friday such as the new batting practice jerseys.

 I also passed the new promotions again and took note of those as well.

 I finally decided that I had experienced enough standing and wanted to eat. I was around 3:30 and smack dab in the middle of Deal or No Deal where Jeff Karstens and Ross Ohlendorf were the bankers. You could tell that it was the end of PirateFest, because the offers soon became better than the grand prize.

 Finally it was the time of the day that I was really looking for, as after the last game, the freebies were given away. Announcer Tim Nevrerett was giving away Parrot dolls, the Pirates people were tossing baseballs which I could not get even close to as I was on the other side. I think Jeff Karstens gave away t-shirts and DVD’s but not sure. I was on Ross Ohlendorf’s side. I could not get the Pirates jackets he was throwing but he handed me a DVD. It wasn’t just any DVD though as it was the DVD of Game 7 of the 1960 World Series that just came out. The list price of the DVD is $29.95 and they were just giving it away. It is a two-disk DVD with 3 hours and 44 minutes of footage.

 A funny story about the DVD was that after the initial screening at the Byham Theatre was that there was a season ticket holder sweepstakes and I was one of the winners. The screening was at Lowe’s in the Waterfront, however I never made the screening because I never found out that I won until the day after the screening when I was talking to my season ticket holder representative. I was supposed to receive an email that I won but I never got it.

 We then stayed until PirateFest was over to try and get more free stuff and I ended up with a couple of goodies including a shirt. Andrew’s brother also got an autograph from Jeff Karstens before he left PirateFest. It was my first time staying until the end as I left early Sunday last year because I was under the weather that whole weekend. So it was interesting to see people put the stuff away and wrap things up.

 With that, PirateFest was over and I was sad because I will not see any live baseball action until April, but these two days of PirateFest reminded me how much I have missed baseball.

Pirates Early Season Preview Part 3: Second Base

 The Pirates second base position is not one to write home about, but here’s at least a try. Here is the Pirates depth chart as of today:

1. Neil Walker

2. Josh Rodriguez

 It’s not much of a depth chart, but here is more info. There are still a ton of free agents listed at the second base position. According to the website mlbtraderumors.com, here are those players and a few descriptions.

 Willy Aybar (28)- Interesting signing if we can get the right price.
Ronnie Belliard (36)- Has some power, but a risk especially with the age.
Willie Bloomquist (33)- would be nice utlity. After KC stint though he may not want to play for another loser.
Alex Cora (35)- not worth it.

David Eckstein (36) – Type B, not offered arb- Interesting. Age is a concern but at short would be worth it for the right price.
Kevin Frandsen (29)- Young and could be worth it if price is right.
Mark Grudzielanek (41)- too old for position.
Cristian Guzman (33)- I like this fit, but I think he wants too much money.
Jerry Hairston Jr. (35)- Like Eckstein I am intrigued, but I think he would be cheaper.
Joe Inglett (33)- Not enough of a sample size to judge. Could come cheaply though.
Adam Kennedy (35)- Would be worth too much money… projects like Aki to me.
Felipe Lopez (31) – Type B, offered arb
Julio Lugo (35)- probably too old to play position.
Aaron Miles (34)- utility player but too old in terms of playing style.
Augie Ojeda (36)- not worth it.
Nick Punto (33)- would be an interesting option but price would likely be too high.
Delwyn Young (29)- Would sign for right price, but would he sign with the team that quit on him?

 All of these are options, however most of these options will either be old and/or costly and I don’t think the team is keen on signing Delwyn Young again.

 Josh Rodriguez is becoming a more important piece of this team than anyone could have expected. The Pirates are very thin at second base and shortstop, so much so, that Rodriguez is the backup to Walker and Cedeno. Rodriguez was drafted by the Pirates in this year’s Rule-5 Draft. The pick surprised many, as many expected the Pirates expected to draft a pitcher. Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington said that this year’s Rule-5 class did not excite him like it did in seasons past. Previous Rule-5 picks include Donnie Veal and Evan Meek. Rodriguez went to Rice University and was taken in the second round of the 2006 draft by the Cleveland Indians. Rodriguez played for the AA Akron Aeros from 2008- May 2010 when he was promoted to the AAA Columbus Clippers.  Rodriguez could play a big role on this team, and is one injury away from being a starter.

 Every Pirate fan made a huge mistake in Spring Training: they counted out “The Pittsburgh Kid”. Pirates management had said that Neil Walker was a man without a position. Walker missed out on third base as Pedro Alvarez had him beat out in AAA, and Andy LaRoche would be the Pirates starter. In Indianapolis, things did not look great for Walker, as he was essentially being used as a big utility man. Perhaps even he didn’t even know where he was going to play or even which glove he was going to put on. Still, Walker perservered as his average was at an all-time high and he was hitting well, getting the attention of his teammates and the Pirates.

Walker had been in AAA for a little while, so his team was rooting him on every step of the way. Andy LaRoche was doing a decent enough job at the time to keep his third base job, although Pedro Alvarez would eventually take his place as the starter. Walker was in luck, as Aki Iwamura was having his troubles both offensively and defensively. The fans wanted his head and the Pirates were looking for options. Ultimately, the Pirates choose Walker to take over the job and essentially it was on the job training, as Walker, previously a catcher and third baseman was learning his third position and had not made that many appearances (23) at the position.

Walker continued his tear in the Majors, as he hit his first home run on June 1, 2010 against the Chicago Cubs. In his first full week at the position, Walker looked like he had played second base all of his life, leaping, diving and back pedaling like a gold glover. Walker, a switch hitter, also surprised many with his offensive success against lefties. On July 20 against division rival Milwaukee, Walker went 5 for 5 at the plate and was the first Pirate rookie since John Wehner in 1991 to accomplish such a feat. He finished the season hitting .296 with 12 home runs and 66 runs batted in. Walker also was named to the 2010 Topp’s All-Rookie team, equaling the feat teammate Andrew McCutchen experienced just a season before.

 While Walker is clearly the starter at second base barring a freak injury, the options as previously stated are pretty slim. The team addressed the position by trading for Corey Wimberly from the Oakland A’s. Wimberly was a utility man in Triple-A for the team in 2010 and has never played at the Major League level. According to mlbtraderumors.com, “The 27-year-old posted a .284/.373/.354 line with 56 steals while playing at least ten games at short, second, third, left and center.”

 While there may be a few minors that have a slight chance, I have not heard much from the organization acknowledging these candidates. Perhaps someone like a Josh Fields or Garrett Atkins could play second base and conduct an experiment much like Walker’s from last season. Still, the chances of them starting are unlikely, so without further ado here is my projection for the Spring.

 1. Neil Walker

 2. Josh Rodriguez

 3. Corey Wimberly

 Tomorrow’s entry will be on the equally thin position of shortstop.

 

Entry on Pirates Promos, Caravan and Garrett Atkins

Here is some analysis on Garrett Atkins starting with the Wikipedia info:

Atkins was drafted in 2000 out of UCLA by the Colorado Rockies in the fifth round (137th overall). This time, he chose to accept the offer from an MLB club and began the process of reaching the majors.

Colorado Rockies

 2007 season

Garrett Atkins

Hit .301 overall, batting .349 at mile-high Coors Field, but hit only .254 in away games. However, one of the reasons for any substantial differences in home and road splits for Rockies batters is that they have to make adjustments in how they see pitches away from Coors Field – particularly breaking balls, such as sliders and curve balls – since those pitches act differently at Coors Field than on the road.

 2008 season

In 2008, Atkins spent much of the season playing first base in the absence of injured teammate Todd Helton, marking a defensive transition to “a more natural position for him.”

 2009 season

Prior to the start of the 2009 season, Atkins accepted a one-year $7 million dollar contract from the Rockies. He struggled in the 2009 season hitting .226 with nine home runs, and 48 RBIs. With the emergence of Ian Stewart Atkins became less of a priority in the Rockies longterm plans, he was thus non-tendered by the Rockies on December 12, 2009, officially making him a free agent.

Baltimore Orioles

2010 season

Atkins agreed to a 1-year, $4 million deal with the Baltimore Orioles. The deal includes a one-year club option for $8.5 million, with a $500,000 buyout. He is expected to be the starting first baseman.

On June 27, the Orioles designated Atkins for assignment.

On July 6, the Orioles released Atkins.

 Pittsburgh Pirates

 2011 Season

Atkins agreed to a minor league deal with the Pirates on December 23, 2010. It includes an invite to spring training.

 Atkins has a third base background, although he can play first base as well. As it was said earlier, he is on a Minor League deal and he is right handed. As a right-handed batter, Atkins can backup both Pedro Alvarez and Lyle Overbay if he makes the Majors. To me the signing was cheap, however confuses me. Here I was earlier this week singing the praises of the team signing Josh Fields and then the team goes out and wastes the small amount of money they have to sign a guy that could potentially become the next Delwyn Young on this team. I am not quite happy with this signing, although I still rank the Olsen signing as the worst of the off-season.

  Zac’s Grade: C+

Garrett Atkins Career statistics
Batting average     .285
Home runs     99
Runs batted in  

  488

 This came forth earlier in the off-season so here is the actual Pirates promotional schedule:

April
Date Opponent Promotion / Event Presented by For
Thu, Apr 7 Rockies Opening Day
2011 Magnetic Schedule All Fans
Fri, Apr 8 Rockies Free Shirt Friday All Fans
2011 Pirates Schedule Poster All Fans
Sat, Apr 9 Rockies Zambelli Fireworks
2011 Pirates Schedule Poster All Fans
Scratch’n Win Eat’n Park All Fans
Sun, Apr 10 Rockies Kids Day
Kids Glove Kids 14 & Younger
Fri, Apr 22 Nationals Free Shirt Friday All Fans
Reusable Coffee Sleeve All Fans
Sat, Apr 23 Nationals Andrew McCutchen Action Figurine All Fans
Scratch’n Win Eat’n Park All Fans
Sun, Apr 24 Nationals Kids Day
Kids Build-a-Bear Pirates Bunny Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Kids 14 & Younger

All giveaways and event dates are subject to change.

May
Date Opponent Promotion / Event Presented by For
Fri, May 6 Astros Free Shirt Friday FSN All Fans
Sat, May 7 Astros Pirates Cap Night All Fans
Zambelli Fireworks
Scratch’n Win Eat’n Park All Fans
Sun, May 8 Astros Kids Day
Kids Mini Bat Kids 14 & Younger
Mom’s Earrings All Moms
Fri, May 20 Tigers Free Shirt Friday All Fans
Sat, May 21 Tigers Neil Walker Bobblehead All Fans
Scratch’n Win Eat’n Park All Fans
Sun, May 22 Tigers Kids Day
Kids Pierogy Beach Towel Kids 14 & Younger

All giveaways and event dates are subject to change.

June
Date Opponent Promotion / Event Presented by For
Fri, Jun 3 Phillies Free Shirt Friday Consol Energy All Fans
Sat, Jun 4 Phillies Zambelli Fireworks
Scratch’n Win Eat’n Park All Fans
Sun, Jun 5 Phillies Kids Day
Kids Pedro Alvarez Replica BP Jersey Kids 14 & Younger
Fri, Jun 10 Mets Free Shirt Friday All Fans
Sat, Jun 11 Mets Skyblast featuring Zambelli Fireworks and Live Music TBD
Scratch’n Win Eat’n Park All Fans
Sun, Jun 12 Mets Kids Day
Kids Pirate Parrot Cruise for the Cure Bobble Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Kids 14 & Younger
Mon, Jun 20 Orioles Blass/Sanguillen 1971 Championship Canvas Wrap All Fans
Tue, Jun 21 Orioles 1971 40th Anniversary Celebration
1971 Commemorative Ceramic Stein All Fans
Fri, Jun 24 Red Sox Free Shirt Friday All Fans
Sat, Jun 25 Red Sox Zambelli Fireworks
Scratch’n Win Eat’n Park All Fans
Sun, Jun 26 Red Sox Kids Day
Kids Bucco Bands Kids 14 & Younger

All giveaways and event dates are subject to change.

July
Date Opponent Promotion / Event Presented by For
Mon, Jul 4 Astros Pirates Stars’n Stripes Reversible Floppy Cap All Fans
Fri, Jul 8 Cubs Free Shirt Friday All Fans
Sat, Jul 9 Cubs Skyblast featuring Zambelli Fireworks and .38 Special in Concert
Scratch’n Win Eat’n Park All Fans
Sun, Jul 10 Cubs Kids Day
Kids Pierogy Wind-Up Racers Kids 14 & Younger
Fri, Jul 22 Cardinals Free Shirt Friday All Fans
Sat, Jul 23 Cardinals Zambelli Fireworks
Scratch’n Win Eat’n Park All Fans
Sun, Jul 24 Cardinals Kids Day
Kids Jose Tabata Replica Alternate Jersey Kids 14 & Younger

All giveaways and event dates are subject to change.

August
Date Opponent Promotion / Event Presented by For
Fri, Aug 5 Padres Free Shirt Friday All Fans
Sat, Aug 6 Padres Skyblast featuring Zambelli Fireworks and Live Music TBD
Scratch’n Win Eat’n Park All Fans
Sun, Aug 7 Padres Kids Day
Kids Drawstring Bag Kids 14 & Younger
Fri, Aug 19 Reds Free Shirt Friday All Fans
Sat, Aug 20 Reds Zambelli Fireworks
Scratch’n Win Eat’n Park All Fans
Sun, Aug 21 Reds Kids Day
Kids Book Covers Kids 14 & Younger

All giveaways and event dates are subject to change.

September
Date Opponent Promotion / Event Presented by For
Fri, Sep 9 Marlins Free Shirt Friday All Fans
Sat, Sep 10 Marlins Zambelli Fireworks
Scratch’n Win Eat’n Park All Fans
Sun, Sep 11 Marlins Kids Day
Kids Pirates Slippers Kids 14 & Younger
Fri, Sep 23 Reds Free Shirt Friday All Fans
2012 Magnetic Schedule All Fans
Sat, Sep 24 Reds Fan Jam featuring Steve Miller Band
2012 Magnetic Schedule All Fans
Scratch’n Win Eat’n Park All Fans
Sun, Sep 25 Reds Kids Day
Kids Growth Chart Kids 14 & Younger
2012 Magnetic Schedule All Fans

 

Although this came forth a while ago as well, here is the Pittsburgh Pirates Winter Caravan Schedule:

Group 1

Featuring outfielder Andrew McCutchen, relief pitcher Evan Meek, and broadcasters Bob Walk and John Wehner.

Date Location Time Event Details
Mon., Jan 24 Pittsburgh, PA 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. Allegheny General Hospital Visit
(private event)
Mon., Jan 24 Pittsburgh, PA 11:15 a.m. – 12 p.m. Autograph session at
Allegheny General Hospital lobby
Mon., Jan 24 North Hills, PA 1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Autograph session at PNC Bank
in McIntyre Square
Mon., Jan 24 Somerset, PA 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. VIP Reception at
Seven Springs Mountain Resort (private event)
Tue., Jan 25 Wheeling, WV 10 – 11 a.m. Triadelphia Middle School Visit
Tue., Jan 25 Wheeling, WV 12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Luncheon Event at Wheeling Island
Tue., Jan 25 Pittsburgh, PA 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. Autograph Session at Dick’s Sporting Goods
at the Galleria at Pittsburgh Mills
Wed., Jan 26 Freeport, PA 9 a.m. – 10 a.m. School Visit (Location TBA)
Wed., Jan 26 Pittsburgh, PA 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Carmalt Academy School Visit
Wed., Jan 26 Shaler Township, PA 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Autograph Session at Giant Eagle
Thu., Jan 27 Pittsburgh, PA 9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Allegheny Traditional Academy School Visit
Thu., Jan 27 Pittsburgh, PA 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. School Visit (Location TBA)
Thu., Jan 27 Pittsburgh, PA
(Private Event)
6 p.m. – 9 p.m. Roberto Clemente Museum reception
(Private Event)

Group 2

Featuring pitching coach Ray Searage, starting pitcher James McDonald, infielder Neil Walker and broadcaster Tim Neverett.

Date Location Time Event Details
Mon., Jan 24 Washington, PA 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. School Visit (Location TBA)
Mon., Jan 24 Morgantown, WV 12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Luncheon Event at Damon’s Restaurant
Mon., Jan 24 Uniontown, PA 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. Autograph Session at Uniontown Mall
Tue., Jan 25 Smithton, PA 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. Visit to Dick’s Sporting Goods
Distribution Center (private event)
Tue., Jan 25 Latrobe, PA 12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Luncheon Event at Giannilli’s Two Restaurant
Tue., Jan 25 Indiana, PA 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Autograph Session at Indiana Mall
Wed., Jan 26 Rural Valley, PA 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. School Assembly at West Shamokin Jr. High
Wed., Jan 26 Butler, PA 12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Luncheon Event (Location TBA)
Wed., Jan 26 Steubenville, OH 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Autograph Session at Fort Steuben Mall
Thu., Jan 27 Poland, OH 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. School Assembly at Poland North Elementary
Thu., Jan 27 Youngstown, OH 12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Luncheon Event at Butler Art Institute
Thu., Jan 27 Pittsburgh, PA
(Private Event)
6 p.m. – 9 p.m. Roberto Clemente Museum reception
(Private Event)

Group 3

Featuring bench coach Jeff Banister, first baseman Garrett Jones, relief pitcher Joel Hanrahan, outfielder Jose Tabata and broadcaster Greg Brown.

Date Location Time Event Details
Mon., Jan 24 New Castle, PA 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. School Visit at George Washington Intermediate
Mon., Jan 24 Meadville, PA 12:30 p.m. – 2 p.m. Luncheon Event at Allegheny College
Mon., Jan 24 Erie, PA 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. Autograph Session at Dick’s Sporting Goods
Tue., Jan 25 Ridgway, PA 11 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. School Visit at
Ridgway Area Middle School
Tue., Jan 25 DuBois, PA 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. Autograph Session at DuBois Mall
Wed., Jan 26 State College, PA 11:45 a.m. – 1 p.m. Luncheon Event at Damon’s Restaurant
Wed., Jan 26 State College, PA 1:30 P.m. – 2:30 p.m. Hospital Visit to Mt. Nittany Medical Center
Wed., Jan 26 Altoona, PA 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Autograph Session at Dick’s Sporting Goods
Thu., Jan 27 Ebensburg, PA 2 p.m. – 3 p.m. Ebensburg Center Visit (private event)
Thu., Jan 27 Pittsburgh, PA
(Private Event)
6 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Roberto Clemente Museum reception
(Private Event)

 

The Pirates Caravan will also visit Charleston, West Virginia, on Sunday, January 30 and Monday, January 31. The players traveling to Charleston will be announced at a later date.

  • Sunday, January 30: Charleston, WV – Hot Stove Banquet (Time and Location TBA)
  • Monday, January 31: Charleston, WV – Luncheon, Appalachian Power Park (Time TBA)

 

 

 

Pittsburgh Pirates Uniform Changes

Each year some Pirates change their uniform numbers and the new Pirates also got new numbers as well. Here are the changes:

. The major change is that Pedro Alvarez has changed his #17 for #24. Speculation is that it was his number in the minors and since Delwyn Young wore the number this past season for the Pirates, Alvarez had to choose another.

. Neil Walker will keep his #18. Walker wore #19 throughout the Minor Leagues but Ryan Church wore the #19 last season and thus Walker had to choose a different number. Walker chose #18 without thinking too much about it, but Walker who is a huge Andy Van Slyke fan never knew that Van Slyke also wore the #18 and that is a reason why he is keeping it.

. Manager Clint Hurdle will wear the #13 and thus Ronny Cedeno has chosen to wear the #5.

. Lyle Overbay will wear #37, meaning Charlie Morton has switched his number to #39.

. Alex Presley will now don the #44 jersey, which previously belonged to Brandon Moss.

. New Pirate Matt Diaz will wear #23.

. No Pirate will fill the “ocho-cinco” number as no one will wear the #85 vacated by Lastings Milledge.

Coaches Numbers:

 We already said that Clint Hurdle will wear #13, but here are the other numbers:

Hitting Coach Gregg Ritchie #58, Pitching Coach Ray Searage #54, 1B Coach Luis Silverio #39, 3B Coach Nick Leyva #16, Bench Coach Jeff Banister #55, Bullpen Coach Euclides Rojas #50, Bullpen Catcher Heberto “Herbie” Andrade will keep his #86 and Coach Mark Strittmatter #59.

 Interesting that Morton’s number is 39 and so is Silverio’s. Something has got to give.

Pirates cut Duke, LaRoche and Young

Well the Pirates made some moves that had to be made one way or another by releasing these three.

With Duke, I remember the Opening Day 2009 start. It was his best outing in a Pirate uniform and he was really becoming a good pitcher until Joe Kerrigan messed up a good thing. Duke was great with the community as evidenced with his Bowling With the Bucs event this past season. Duke leaving leaves Maholm and Doumit as the only two holdovers from the earlier rosters. I interviewed Duke during the 2009 season and he was very honest, candid and even funny during our brief time together. My other interviews were with Nate McLouth and Matt Capps, so obviously Duke was the last one standing. When I gave Duke a transcript of the interview during Bowling With the Bucs 2009, he quickly remembered me. I will always remember that and how nice he was to me.

 

While the Duke cut put a lot of money off of the table, the Andy LaRoche cut had to be the most painful for the Pirates. LaRoche was the main part of the Jason Bay trade. With Brandon Moss now on the Phillies, the release of LaRoche finally shows that management officially agreed with the public that the trade was a failed one.  It probably took a lot for management to have to do that, and that makes me respect them. LaRoche had a lot of pressure as Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez were both ready to take his spot. Walker had a fast start to the season in Triple-A and Alvarez was showing the team his power as well. LaRoche had a couple of good weeks early in the season, however faded fairly fast after that. The team tried to move LaRoche to second base and first base, but it never worked out. LaRoche was a big part of the community as well winning the Pirates Roberto Clemente Award. I was frequently at PNC Park during LaRoche’s time with the Pirates, and almost every game he would sign autographs for fans. I first met him on the final game of the 2009 season when we were allowed to take pictures with the players. Our camera was out of memory and thus we had to boost it up, LaRoche was very patient about the entire situation. He may not be missed for his accomplishments on the field but he was a champion off of the field.

 Delwyn Young was a big part of the teams’ bench over the past two seasons. He would play third base, second base and the outfield, making him a very useful option. His glovework at third base was not pretty, but it would be expected as he was trying to learn a new position. Under Perry Hill in 2009, Young tried his hand at second base and did a decent job, however he was a bit slow in terms of turning the double play. His outfield work was average at best as well, and he was not the fastest of runners and had trouble dealing with the right field of PNC Park. Young hit the first home run off of Stephen Strasburg. He also hit a bottom of the ninth game tying home run against San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson with two strikes and two outs. Young’s bat was great, however the team cut him, as he just was not getting the job done. He also did a great job in the community.

 

 

7/20 Pirates vs Brewers PNC Park

 Considering the last time the Brewers visited PNC Park, I expected a big day and potentially a record setting day.

 I arrived at the ballpark and found myself in the middle of the line and soon later the Pittsburgh ballhawks generously let me move to the front of the line in front of them.

 When the gates opened, the ballhawks got their tickets scanned and ran and I followed soon. Considering that my knee was a little banged up, I caught up in enough time to see if there were any easter eggs but unfortunately did not see any. With that I ran up to the upper level along with Erik to search some more and came up empty handed.

 I then came down and prepared to start my day off with a bang. Sure enough, I ball came to left center and it rested close to the seats. Brendan Donnelly then came over and despite a couple of people asking him for the ball he casually flicked it up. I was in between the two people asking, and the ball came at an angle away from my glove hand and thus the degree of difficulty increased. Still I was able to make a clean barehanded catch on ball number 1.

 Ball number 2 came shortly after, as Ross Ohlendorf tossed up a ball that I easily caught in my glove. This ball was given away quickly to a kid, as it looked like the ball could have been meant for him.

 Soon after, Donnelly and Ray Searage both signed my first baseball.

 I came close on a few home runs, but a combination of my knee and bad route running ruined my chances on those as the Pirates BP ended.

 When the Brewers took the field I moved to center field and the Brewers were not tossing any baseballs up.

 I was rewarded, as Prince Fielder hit a home run that I was able to track down for ball number 3. The Brewers label many of there baseballs and this one said “you hang it we bang it”.

 After a while in center field, I was unable to snag anything else and I saw Fielder by the Lexus Club and proceeded to run over there. Sure enough, I made it with time to spare. Fielder was talking to someone and did sign one autograph but that was all he would do.

 There also was a baseball laying by the first base line and I went over to it but with no glove trick I was unable to get the ball.

 Brewers coach Stan Kyles also had a ball but he was tough as he kept saying that the people were too old to get the ball. I did not get that baseball either and came off empty handed.

 The game started and Jose Tabata and Delwyn Young switched the routine of tossups. Tabata tossed a jump ball in the second inning that was between Erik and myself and again I made the mistake of letting Erik get a row behind me. I was unable to time my jump and that combined with my knee allowed me to come up empty handed.

 It was not looking good for my record breaking day so I headed over to the bullpen.

 In my couple of innings over there there were two cats, a woman ejected from the ballgame that was trying to buy more tickets, a person who fell after posing for a picture and the mighty John Russell getting ejected.

 Despite all of this “nonsense” (inside joke) I was able to ask Luis Dorante to toss me a baseball. Dorante then tried to  throw the ball over the fence and failed and then threw the ball over to me for ball 4 on the day.

 I quickly thanked Luis and ran over to my seats to try and snag the record breaker before I had to go but Tabata threw the ball to right which ruined the process again.

 I then had to leave, but I was able to tie my record. I will be at the park on Saturday and it will be challenging as I expect a near sellout.

Bowling With the Bucs 2010

To cap off the weekend, I paid the money to Pirates Charities to bowl with the Pirates. The event took place in Crafton, PA at Noblestown Lanes.

 I arrived just when people were coming in, and upon entering the lanes, I went straight for the food which was donated by various food places. I grabbed a slice of pizza and a couple of Smiley Cookies. The lone complaint was that no drinks were out and you had to order them meaning that you either had to pay extra or wait for the drinks to come out.

 This was my second year doing Bowling With the Bucs as I did the event last year and was paired up with Tyler Yates,

 When I registered with Pirates Charities, I got a Zach Duke bag (the bag they gave away earlier in the day) and in it were various goodies. I received an Earth Day Pirates cap, a water bottle, one of the t-shirts from “T-Shirt Thursdays” and a couple of papers involving the lanes and another Pirates Charities event.

 I found out that I would bowl on lane 8 and then talked with Rob, one of my Facebook friends who had said that he would come to the event as a spectator. I then got my shoes and the bowling ball I would roll with. With that, I went by the door for the Pirates players, coaches, broadcasters and front office who would come out one by one.

 While some kids got a head start on the autographs I got some handshakes from Ryan Church, John Russell, Evan Meek and Andrew McCutchen just to name a few.

 After Frank Coonelly wished all of the moms a happy Mother’s Day, Zach Duke rolled the first ball of the night, knocking down nine pins.

 After that, the players went into their lanes. In the lane to my left, Paul Maholm was the Pirates celebrity. Maholm had been knocked around fairly good earlier in the day and had a beer in hand looking to forget the early part of his day (and he managed to roll a gutterball in his lane; a lane with bumpers). To my right was bullpen catcher Herbie Andrade. Herbie’s always been a cool guy and he has promised me a ball the next time I come to a game (which will be Thursday). Herbie did scare me a little bit when he decided to dance (while bowling) to a Lady Gaga song that had come on in the alley.

 As for my “celebrity”, I ended up with Jack Taschner. Taschner, like me, is left-handed although because he had pitched in the last three games before the event, he bowled right handed.

            I had a great start to the first game as I converted a split in the first frame and rolled a strike in the second frame. Taschner immediately pressured me telling Herbie that we would have a 240 and sure enough I buckled to the pressure as my form became terrible. I ended up with a 114 in the first game, which was enough to win the first game.

            During the first game, I went around for various autographs and among others got Cutch to sign my t-shirt jersey and Church to sign my scorecards.

            Taschner was much more social than Yates was last year, and our personalities meshed really well.

            There were two parts of the event that I liked the most. The first was the media coverage. KDKA and WPXI had people there this year (and I got to talk to both reporters) but even better was the fact that FSN was there as well.

            I talked to the producer for FSN and when I told him about myself and my interest in journalism (for a career), he gave me his card and offered me an exclusive opportunity over the summer. I was very excited about the opportunity and hope to capitalize on it.

            After I talked with him, he was getting ready to interview Taschner. I think he based this on Taschner’s playful exchange with me when he was giving me tips and was unable to back them up with his game. When he asked Taschner for an interview, he (Taschner) asked whether or not to use just him or include me and the producer chose to include me. He asked us both questions and Taschner would answer and then I would answer. The experience was interesting as I was able to easily answer the questions despite not having anything going on in my head. Part of the interview and the exchange between Taschner and I made Inside Pirates Baseball that Saturday.

            My second favorite part was the bowling itself. The bowling was fun, and thus Taschner decided to raise the stakes. With many of our second shots, he placed a $20 bill on the table for whomever could make the spare. After failing twice, I finally did convert a spare. However, he had not put down the $20. When I came up again, I told him to put up the $20 and I knocked down 9 pins, and then picked up the spare. The $20 was mine!

            In the second game, I rolled a ninth in the tenth frame and converted the easy spare. I needed a strike to tie and I lost my grip on the ball and lost with a 104.

            During and after the game I got my bowling jersey signed. Among the signatures were Zach Duke, Andy LaRoche, Brian Burres, John Russell, Taschner, Brian Bass, Church and Delwyn Young. It was cool interacting with a lot of the guys and despite the $25 increase to $150 to bowl it was well worth it.

            Evan Meek who was drunk last year during this event continued his drinking this year while Taschner drank Diet Pepsi. Taschner introduced me to Meek and upon shaking his hand the flashback of last year came (Meek did acknowledge me by name)

            I will make sure that I do this event next year. I highly recommend it and it is a must for any Pirates fan!

 

The 2nd Annual Pirates Awards

 This idea started last year, when I realized that no Pirate would get any actual awards. I was semi-wrong when Nate McLouth took the Gold Glove award, but that award has a criteria that is very flawed. While Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones have chances at Rookie of the Year Award honors, it seems unlikely that it will happen. With that said, here are the nominees and winners of this year’s Pirate Awards.

 Team MVP:

1. Andrew McCutchen- It only makes sense that we start off with the team’s leadoff hitter. His dazzling speed and late game heroics made fans out of many. He is in the team’s plans for the long haul.

2. Garrett Jones- GFJ is up here because quite frankly, he was a joy to watch. He hit the most home runs among rookies and he was versitile playing first base as well as left and right field. While he is an old rookie because he was stuck behind Justin Morneau on the Twins, he never let that faze him.

3. Ross Ohlendorf- Ross pitched very well all season for the Pirates earning a team leading 11 victories. While he did not pitch the entire season due to inning limitations, Ohlendorf showcased his stuff especially in the second half of the season.

4. Zach Duke- Duke made a 5 game improvement this season winning 10 games this year. He also is an accomplished hitter, and if you don’t believe me, then watch him during batting practice at the ballpark. Duke was able to locate his fastball much better this season making himself much more effective this season.

The Winner: Andrew McCutchen

 Cutch gets the award, because he was consistent all season long. Duke led the league in losses this year because of a lack of run support, but his earned run average started to pile on as the season continued. Ohlendorf was inconsistent for half of a season, and Jones was terrible when it came to hitting with runners on. You kind of knew what you would get with Cutch, and thus he is the team’s MVP.

 

 

 Team LVP:

1. Brandon Moss- While he won the starting right field job in April, he never really showed promise. While he was clutch for a short while in August, most of the time fans groaned and booed when he came to bat. The only reason he is still a Pirate is because if he were sent to Triple-A another team may claim him.

2. Brian Bixler- Another year gone, same Bixler. He shows all kinds of potential in Triple-A, but always appears overmatched in the Majors. In that sense he is very much like John Van Benschoten. Not much to write about him because plain and simple, he is just not that good.

3. Ryan Doumit- Doumit was doing a decent job catching in April, and then he got injured. While he is a leader on this team, it seems as if he does not practice what he preaches. He argued with John Russell and he did not really do anything positive that opened eyes when he returned.

4. Matt Capps- This was not the “Big Bull Rider” that I know. He was just inconsistent this season and he was a total mess.

The “Winner” (?): Matt Capps

 Capps just was not the same this year. He just didn’t save games consistently for us and if there was not a save situation (please see games against Phillies, Dodgers, etc..), he was atrocious. I don’t get why the Pirates are going to give him an offer this offseason.

 

 Most Improved:

1. Zach Duke- He seemed more in control than I ever remember. He nearly pitched four complete games to tie for the NL lead (thanks John Russell) and was the best offensive pitcher.

2. Ross Ohlendorf- Wow, what a change a year makes. “Ross the Boss” went back and forth on using his sinker or his fastball, and his mix confused the hitters facing him. In the second half of the season, hitters did not want to face Ross Ohlendorf.

3. Andy LaRoche- A year ago he was below the Adam LaRoche line, and now, he has come back to be the player I thought he was. Offensively, he led the team in runs batted in with 62, and he very well could be the National League’s best defensive third baseman thanks in large part to Perry Hill.

 The Winner: Ross Ohlendorf

 I wrote on this blog last year that Ross Ohlendorf was the worst September call up. I wrote that he was visibly overmatched, and that he should not be a starter let alone be on the Pirates. I can now admit that I am wrong, and I am proud to do so. He led the team in games won easily passing Paul Maholm’s 2008 total of 9 and thus wins the award.

 

  Moment of the Year:

1. Taking 2 out of 3 from the Phillies- Many in Pittsburgh, myself included thought that the Pirates had no shot against the Phils. Afterall, we had struggled against them at Citizens Bank Park, and it was clear that they were the more superior team. Still an Andrew McCutchen walk off sparked the team and they stunned the Phillies taking the series against them.

2. Taking 3 of 4 from the Dodgers- Just like the scenario before this one, LA dominated us at their ballpark and there was not much expectation here. Still we took 3 out of 4 from a team that advanced to the NLCS and still has a shot of winning the World Series. That is pretty cool if you ask me.

3. Triple Play vs Cincy- It was just a spur of the moment kind of thing, but luck struck for the Pirates, and although they lost the game, it has to be on the highlight reel. You can’t deny the pop fly caught by Jack Wilson, who tossed to Freddy Sanchez, who tossed to Adam LaRoche to complete the triple play. You also can’t deny the fact that none of them are wearing a Pirates uniform any more.

The Winner: Taking 3 of 4 from the Dodgers

 This was almost as tough as deciding the MVP winner, and there were a ton more nominees I could choose from. It’s just before that series we were on a massive losing streak and we had just had a game were just about 3,000 fans attended and the upper deck was closed. It also captured the image of a 4 run ninth inning to win the third game of the series as well as Zach Duke pitching a near perfect game to win the final game of the series.

 Best Midseason Acquisition:

1. Hunter Strickland- Simply put he combined to pitch a no-hitter almost immediately after being acquired. The last time I heard no-hitter here was 1997.

2. Lastings Milledge- Although he did not make immediate impact, causing many fans to want Nyjer Morgan back, Milledge came around, having a wonderful September and making a believer out of Pirates fans.

3. Tim Alderson- Although some were confused by him getting traded for Freddy Sanchez, Alderson has quality stuff and more importantly great potential.

 The Winner: Tim Alderson

 I am fairly excited by his potential, and I think he can be a front end starter. It would have been hard to keep Freddy financially and the trade worked to our advantage as Freddy got injured while playing for the Giants.

 Most Improved in Minors:

1. Daniel McCutchen- He led triple-A in wins when he got his September call up, and after getting adjusted to pitching in the Majors did a decent job for the team.

2. Rudy Owens- The Pirates Minor League pitcher of the year showed promise and could be a star for years to come.

3. Starling Marte- He had a nice record and he always got my attention. He made me want to read what happened in the Minors every day.

 The Winner: Daniel McCutchen

 I got a decent look at him in September, and I think he could be either the fifth starter or long reliever. He has been with Ross Ohlendorf seemingly every where he goes, so why can’t he be the most improved next year?

 Worst September call up?

1. Brian Bixler- I mean come on, why bring up Bixler. He is overmatched and is a liability defensively. Need I say more?

2. Neil Walker- I love his potential but it just wasn’t there offensively.

3. Virgil Vasquez- Didn’t fair well when he was first called up, so why did you call him up?

4. Eric Hacker- Had only three appearances and his first had exactly one person clap to welcome him. Did I mention that the game was at PNC Park? Oh and his ERA? 6.00.

 The “Winner” (??): Brian Bixler

 Just a waste of breath and space. It is rare when he plays, and even rarer that he does something right.

 

  Best Broadcaster:

1. Bob Walk- Has a great sense of humor and can be fairly random. With the team we have, funny and random is good.

2. Tim Neverett- He replaced Lanny Frattare (retirement) and although I was expecting the worse, he did a nice job. Needs to work a bit more on saying things in different ways.

3. Greg Brown- Everytime I hear him, there always is a “gees” in whatever he is saying. Not a bad “voice of the Pirates” though.

4. Steve Blass- Last year’s winner was honored for his decades long ties to the team.

 The Winner: Bob Walk

 It’s got to be Bob Walk, he easily takes it this year.

 Most Surprising:

1. Delwyn Young- I wasn’t expecting much from him because of what we traded away to get him, but we got a steal. This guy is an ideal utility man because he can play everywhere in the field, but he has a solid bat to go with it.

2. Zach Duke- Pretty much everything said above goes here as well.

3. Garrett Jones- You saw what he did in Spring Training, but did you really think he would make it to the Pirates, let alone go on such a tear?

 The Winner: Garrett Jones

 Jones went from a nobody to a somebody. No one expected this out of Jones.

Garrett Jones, take me to the river! by Dave's Family Fotos.

  Best Performance:

1. McCutchen’s three HR game: It was nice to see Cutch rake since he is not known for his power. The curtain call has to be one of the highlights of the season.

2. Duke’s complete game home opener: I was in the Lexus Club, and I saw Duke in total control of the Astros all game long. The fist pump he made after the final out told the whole story.

3. Craig Monroe hits two three run home runs vs. the Braves: Monroe, who no longer is a Pirate, seemed to have a thing for three run home runs in his short time with us.

4. Andy LaRoche’s perfect day vs. his former team: I can’t think of any thing better than going five for five with two home runs against your former team.

 The Winner: Zach Duke’s Home Opener

 Just total control from start to finish. The Astros never stood a chance. It also is worth a mention that Duke had a double that game too.

 

 Coach of the Year:

1. Joe Kerrigan- He transformed many players from Zach Duke to Ross Ohlendorf. He also was loyal to his guys and was the only guy who really stood up for Ian Snell (before Snell blamed him for his problems).

2. Don Long- His extra time spent with Delwyn Young seemed to pay off and in some of the series against big time teams, his work showed with the comebacks and walk offs.

3. Tony Beasley- Despite a death in the family, “Beas” pressed on, and did a solid job.

4. Perry Hill- Although it seems unlikely that Perry Hill will come back to the Pirates, he transformed Andy LaRoche into an elite fielder and Delwyn Young as a solid second baseman.

 The Winner: Perry Hill

 This was probably the hardest decision of all. A case really could have been made for Kerrigan or Hill. I think I was swayed by Kerrigan staying one more year and Hill likely not. Hill did a good job as the infield instructor and the Pirates raised their intensity defensively.

On First by jmd41280.

 Best nickname:

1. Cutch (Andrew McCutchen)

2. GFJ (Garrett Jones)

3. Ross the Boss (Ross Ohlendorf)

4. Big Bull Rider (Matt Capps)

 The Winner: GFJ

 I mean come on it stands for Garrett Freaking Jones. It doesn’t get much cooler than that.

 Best Inning Break Activity:

1. Pirate Quiz- Nice game just pick an answer and either take what you won or go for the box of mystery.

2. Press Your Buc- Played under the rules of the game by a similar name, the contestant presses a button and stops on a prize or a whammy.

3. Bucco- Nice little Plinko game where if you get in the middle you when a 10 game pack or other prizes.

4. Perogie Race- Even though there is a meeting in the Park where it is determined who wins, it is still cool to watch, especially if you are one who bets money on the race.

 The Winner: Pirate Quiz

 I will admit that I am a little biased because I have been on Pirate Quiz, but still I like this game more than the others because at least there are some variables that change. Still, I couldn’t find a picture to capture the victory of Pirate Quiz so I guess I’ll have to satisfy demands by putting this up instead.

P1000226 by boomerkuwanger.

 That wraps up this year’s edition of the Pirates Awards. Agree or disagree, feel free to comment. Until next year, may all gloves be golden and all seasons winning.

9/27 Fan Appreciation Day Pirates vs Los Angeles Dodgers PNC Park

So I was unable to go to the 9/25 Pirates game because of G-20. The person I was to go with wanted to go until he found out about G-20 and decided to back out, a decision I would agree with.

  I went 9/26 to the ballpark and was given seats in section 114 on Thursday instead of the section 327 I was supposed to sit in. I had a nicer view, but other than that, talking some of my family who was sitting next to us and a nice Skyblast performance by Foreigner not much occured.

 That brings us to Fan Appreciation Day my twenty-fourth Pirates game of the season (not bad for a seventeen year old who doesn’t have season tickets). I was to sit in section 7 row K, however, I ended up not sitting there. Why you might ask, well I got a seat upgrade to here.

 I got free Lexus Club tickets (my second time in the Lexus Club) as my step-uncle gave my dad, my friend Colston and I the tickets as everyone else was afraid of the rain. The day was off to a good start for sure.

 The Lexus Club opened at 12, and we all went inside. My dad had already given me Wendy’s before he knew about the Lexus Club seats so I was not hungry at the time. I knew that from 12-12:30 the Pirates were at the gates taking pictures with fans and we immediately went to the elevator to get there. As you can tell from the previous picture, I had my bp jersey on, but underneath had my blue under armour on for later reasons.

 Colston and I ran to the bottom and said our good-byes to the person I always bought Pirates memorabilia from. We have become familiar with each other over the past couple of seasons. We then prepared to get pictures taken.

 Our first stop was the left field entrance and Tony Beasley. Beasley and I are friends, and he still remembers me from Bowling With the Bucs all the way back in May. He told me that he looks forward to seeing me next season. Here is a picture of us.

 

 Also in that area was John Russell and Matt Capps, while Charlie Morton and Donnie Veal signed endless autographs.

 Next on the list was the Highmark Legacy Square entrance and Andy LaRoche. I had never had any previous encounters with him and did not know much. There were lines for everyone and I wanted LaRoche for the intrigue reason. When I got to him, I asked him if he got to meet Foreigner and he told me that he never really got a chance to meet them, but that he really wanted to. As I was about to get the pic, Colston’s batteries died. A big setback that cost us later, Colston had to take a couple of minutes to get the new batteries in. Andy was very patient, and then this was the result.

 I then went over to Evan Meek and Ronny Cedeno. They were over there, and I had no idea how much time was left for photos. Still, I never got to interact with Cedeno over the season, and the last time I interacted with Meek was Bowling With the Bucs is May, and he was drunk and hammered. So for curiousity and giggles, this was the result.

 Because Zach Duke had quite a line, I went to my last stop over there, and it was Jeff Karstens and Denny Bautista. I am not sure why Bautista can’t smile, but this is the result.

 

I went back to the left field gate, where I posed with Lastings Milledge, and I’ll put the result at the very end of this blog.

I then left the Highmark Legacy Square and headed over to the Riverwalk entrance and saw Perry Hill, Don Long and Brandon Moss among others. However, I had my eyes set on a bigger target, and by big, I meant big.

 Garrett Jones was over there, and there were three seperate lines for him, that’s how messy things got. As I was getting near the front of the line, one of the Cannonball Crew ladies said that there was three minutes left and about a minute later, I got this shot.

 We then ran to the right field entrance to try and get McCutchen, and got there just as McCutchen was leaving. I was painfree in my knee all day until that run, and that was not fun. However, I’ll get him at Photofest, so I guess it’s not that big of a loss. Those two minutes changing the batteries cost us dearly. Still about a minute later, we went through the same door McCutchen did as we had Lexus Club access and others jealously looked at us.

 When we took the elevator, we were told to take another to get to the Lexus Club, however when we got there, I saw two players on the Dodgers signing, so I went down to get my baseball signed. What I didn’t realize was that I didn’t take off my Pirates BP Jersey and the Dodgers players would see me in Pirates colors.

 Still, I guess that did not matter to former Pirate Ronald Belisario (first picture) and George Sherrill (second picture) as they signed my baseball anyways.

Ronald Belisario by chriki24.

 So after that we went over to the Lexus Club and took our seats after trying to get Delwyn Young to sign my baseball.

 Soon after, I ran into my good friend Joe Klimchak (pictured below) and we talked about the season ending and being in the Lexus Club again. He’s going to let me be on an in-game entertainment show, and we parted ways.

 With that we took our seats and I got a hot dog to get the Lexus festivities started.

 Not much occured until the second inning when I was given an additional free ticket for the Dodgers dugout, front row. I immediately took my Pirates uniform off, and headed over there. With two outs left in the Pirates half of the inning, I took my seat. It wasn’t long before Luis Cruz struck out for out number three.

 Immediately afterwards, Dodgers catchers Russell Martin (pictured in the end of the blog) and I made direct eye contact, and he threw me the baseball he had just used, and he didn’t even switch it (it was thrown by Clayton Kershaw). I was on the board in a big way.

After that, I went back to the Lexus Club to relax for a little while, understanding there was work to be done later.  

 It was nice to be back in the Lexus Club once again, as there was plenty of good times and all kinds of free food and drinks to boot.

 Still, I was not there just for the fun. My main objective on the day was to get Joe Torre to autograph my copy of his book. I failed the day before, because I was not allowed into the one section because I did not have a ticket for that section.

 However today was a new day. I left my Lexus Club seat in the ninth inning and went to the dugout seat. I had book and pen in hand, ready to go and get the signaure.

 All seemed to be going well, as the Pirates brought in Matt Capps and the Dodgers promptly scored three runs against him, taking a 5-2 lead going into the bottom of the inning.

 Everything was going according to plan, especially when the seemingly automatic 7-1 closer Jonathan Broxton came in to close the game. He had experienced no trouble the night before, and I hoping that this would be the same.

 Unfortunately, my luck has seemingly run out. I was stationed in the first row behind the Dodgers dugout in my blue under armour shirt, and the Pirates were starting to forge a comeback.

 I had very bad feelings, when Broxton managed to get a ground ball from Andy LaRoche, and instead of getting the sure out at first, Rafael Furcal decided to try and be a hero and get Andrew McCutchen out at second base.

 To begin with, this play made no sense, Furcal only had a chance to get one Pirate out, and LaRoche not McCutchen represented the game tying run. So simply put McCutchen did not matter one bit, yet Furcal decided to be a hero.

 It didn’t help that Furcal made a poor, low attempt to get McCutchen out. The ball skipped to right field, and all runners moved up a base, meaning pinch hitter Delwyn Young, scored to make it 5-3.

 After another intentional walk to Garrett Jones, Lastings Milledge was up. He had not received a hit in any of his four prior trips to the plate that day.

 However, my luck officially ran out, as Broxton threw another 98 mile per hour fastball right down the middle, and Milledge crushed it.

 It went right to the right fielder Andre Ethier who if he done what he was supposed to do would only have allowed McCutchen to score and make it 5-4. However, that was not to be on this day, and he misplayed it.

 With the misplay, not only did McCutchen score, but Andy LaRoche scored as well making it 5-5. But the Pirates were not done, Jones was rounding first, and there was a play at the plate. Jones scored rather easily, and the Pirates won the game 6-5.

 I was so frustrated because I now knew that there was no chance of Torre signing my book. But it got worse, because when I went home, I discovered that when Jones scored the winning run, the camera caught my blue shirt about as high as neck length, which absolutely made things worse for me, as I was reminded about my tragedy.

 Nothing really happened after the game except the Pirates signed jerseys to those who won them. In other words, they signed and then left. They couldn’t really give anything away, because the next day would be the last home game.

 As a brief note, in the twenty-four games I attended, the Pirates went 16-8.

 

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