.. don’t let the door hit your butt as you walk.
Ok.. just kidding.
What I will miss..
1– Not having to watch the local foreclosure lists..
2 — Not having to calculate the daily write-off amount on your loans..
3 — Calculating the teams win/loss rate when you are sitting behind the plate at PNC since 2001 (.478 – I guess you knew when to stay upstairs)..
4 — Wondering how you could be so Internet friendly and your organization so anti-Internet (hint-hint Frank.. open the doors to bloggers)..
5 — All the wonderful hits my site received looking for news on McClatchy and Company..
6 — Wondering how I was going to get a ticket to sit beside you for one game to pick your brain apart..
7 — Wondering if you still had your fan protest shirt from the Bay Area..
8 — Wondering why you were so anti-Pittsburgh in your hiring.
The fans despise you but I have to admit I hoped you would pull it off until you lost control. I know you wanted to.
Wow – what a collapse by the Mets. ‘Nuff said.
Bryan Bullington looked ok on the mound Sunday. However, he didn’t flash anything that made me say I can’t wait to see him next year.
In fact, I haven’t seen anything all year in our entire system that suggests 2008 will be any different than 2007 other than one bright moment – when Andrew McCutchen received a visit from his mom and dad before July 4th and he finally figured it all out. Now there is some hope indeed.
The Pirates end up with the second pick in the draft and I’ve mentioned since 2006 there is only one guy I hoped to see in a Pirates uniform – Pedro Alverez. He’s a monster but signability is popping up as a question mark about as fast as his strikeouts increased this year.
Others to consider are Arizona 1B Brett Wallace, San Diego LHP Brian Matusz, and Virginia RHP Jacob Thompson.
Word has it Neal Huntington’s deal is a three-year contract.
Information flowing from the Pirates will probably be slow over the playoffs, albeit Huntington will be in high gear.
Does anyone have the scoop on Perry Hill? Is his wife better? Is he looking to return in 2008? Leave me a message if you know.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Saturday that the Pirates Scouting Director is expected to be replaced. Specifically:
"[T]he evaluations of Creech’s work from upper management — including ownership — are negative enough that he is a virtual lock to be replaced."
Everyone expects Huntington to install his own system, so that’s not really news. But the second part of the statement about Creech’s evaluation is.
The Pirates have 15 full-time scouts who cover the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico, 3 regional cross-checkers in James Merriweather (West Coast), John Green (Midwest), and Jimmy Lester (National). Assistant Scouting Director Joe Delli Carri makes the staff 19.
If we pick apart the Post-Gazette’s statement that "upper management" views Creech’s work as negative, the article must mean Dave Littlefield’s lieutenant’s, Brian Graham, and Larry Silverman. Perhaps Delli Carri could be deemed "upper management" but it isn’t likely he’s going to be talking against his own boss.
Therefore, the only possible way "upper management" could evaluate Creech and his team was after the fact because I assume none of Littlefield’s lieutenant’s scout amateur players, Graham doesn’t scout, and that leaves Silverman who has been the organization’s contract man.
And after the fact shows Creech has actually done a decent job. Certainly he could have done better on paper by going over slot over the years, but was that his self-imposed limitation or ownership’s imposed philosophy (I include Kevin McClatchy as ownership)? I mean, why wouldn’t Creech take best available unless he was restrained from doing so?
Plus, there is little doubt the returned value of Creech’s picks would be significantly better on paper had his many of his picks not been mauled in the system by the Pirates development teams.
If we assume Creech didn’t have any restraints, as the Post-Gazette’s article infers without saying, then the article clearly points blame on "upper management" as failing, not Creech, because they were in a superior position to influence Creech’s draft philosophy at/to some point in the chain of command.
So who is "upper management" that failed?
You can be sure none of Littlefield’s lieutenant’s are going to rag on the production of other scouts in the game, and Silverman might be outstanding at evaluating value after acquisition but I doubt seriously he understands how to evaluate tool talent in the field for the draft other than in makeup and health.
That only leaves Graham.
Mr. Brian "upper management" Graham.
And if we’re going to split hairs, you have to wonder how much Silverman himself was included in the draft on issues like health and future value because, for an example, the Pirates knew Brad Lincoln’s arm was toast in 2006 and he had been more than 100+ innings 2004 to 2005.
The other side to the hair split is that Brian Graham in player development also knew Lincoln was toast, but he kept running him out to the mound, especially after he had told them he was hurting after his start in Rome GA some have said.
At what point does the entire team take responsibility for the organization’s problems instead of finger pointing? TEAM doesn’t have an "i" in it.
Obviously "upper management" needs to be the first one thrown out the door if the Pirates culture is every going to change.
But that’s my opinion from what I’m reading.
If you have been watching Tom Gorzelanny the last few weeks you have probably seen his arm action tipping many of his pitches. He’s been so fatigued it shows and the results are what you would expect – a high walk rate, loss of command, flat pitches, and a high ERA as a result.
And being denied his 15th win for the fourth consecutive outing.
Kudos to the young man for wanting to take the ball but you really have to question the Pirates decision to allow him to clock +40 innings over 2006 as history tells us he’s very likely to have a downturn in 2008 because of it. His +26 innings from 2005 to 2006 fatigued him in August this year so just imagine what +40 might do in 2008.
We’ll assume the Pirates new GM will realize this in July next year and protect Gorzelanny from hurting himself since he obviously signed off on him making this last start.
The Pirates managed just six hits all night and four of those came in the first inning when three doubles, a walk, and a single brought in three runs. Ronny Paulino would add two more singles later in the game but three of the last four Pirate batters struck out to end the game.
Jack Wilson and Matt Kata collided in the 6th inning on a So Taguchi slow grounder up the middle. Wilson was carted off the field with what seemed to be a head injury. Media reports suggest he suffered a concussion.
Al Hrabosky said during Saturday nights game something to the effect of:
‘I asked Chuck Tanner if the Pirates catcher Ronny Paulino is as bad as he looks and Tanner said yes.’
John Van Benschoten was named Pitcher of the Year in the Pirates farm system and Steve Pearce was named Player of the Year. Congratulations to them both.
A loss Sunday would guarantee the Pirates the second round pick in the first year player draft in 2008. Ah.. the things we fans look forward to.
Pitching seven innings for the first time since May 16th, Zach Duke held the National League’s third hottest hitting team last seven days to a single run on eight hits while striking out four.
John Grabow, however, didn’t fare as well.
Grabow came out in relief of Duke in the 8th with the game tied at one and faced five batters, didn’t allow a hit, but gave up four runs.
Now that’s brutal.
David Eckstein led off with a five pitch walk and then stole second, Rick Ankiel laid down a sac bunt to move Eckstein to third, Albert Pujols was intentionally walked to set up a double play, Ryan Ludwick was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and So Taguchi was walked.
Jim Tracy went to the pen and brought out Damaso Marte who struck out Aaron Miles for the second out, and got Jim Edmonds to hit a lazy fly ball to right field.
Unfortunately, Steven Pearce initially broke back on the ball and then left his feet diving for the ball but came up three feet short allowing all three base runners to score putting the Cardinals up 5-1.
Cardinals starter Todd Wellemeyer, who had been designated for assignment by the Kansas City Royals earlier in the year and the Cardinals made a waiver claim on, made just his second start since the All-Star break and pitched a three-hitter thru six and allowed just one run.
Wellemeyer has always been tough on the Pirates as his .78 hits-to-strikeouts rate indicates. You have to love that stat.
Xavier Nady made a very nice catch in the seventh inning on Brendan Ryan’s fly ball and landed hard on his left knee.
The Pirates are now 6-13 since David Littlefield was fired and 9-20 in their last 29 games.
Interestingly, the Pirates are now 36-62 (.367) in games played on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday while having a 32-30 record in Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday games. It’s a coincidence at best but one that begs looking into.
Guess which MLB team has the best record in one run away games? Believe it or not, it’s the Pirates with a 9-8 (.529) record. The MLB median is .364.
Guess which MLB team has the worst record in one run home games? Yep, the Pirates at 7-13 (.350). The MLB median is .637.
After adding the left hand bat of Adam LaRoche this year, the Pirates are now +10 wins over 2006 when a southpaw started. Against right hand starters, the Pirates are -10 under 2006. Go figure that one out.
Hal Steinbrenner.. Chairman of the Yankees.. again. Wow.
I remember seeing Hal in diapers at his pop’s ship building business in Tampa. Hank’s always been the blue-collar guy and said to be close to Steve Swindal, so Hal being appointed is really no surprise. But will pop leave Hal alone this time around? Not on your life. Better get Zimm back on board!
Hey Jo, look at your baby now.
Oh where oh where has our Johnny gone? Oh where or where could he be?
John Van Benschoten took yet another flushing Thursday causing many to speculate he might have thrown his last pitch as a Pittsburgh Pirate.
I’m not so sure.
JVB continues to flash MLB quality pitches at times but lacks the velocity and command needed to consistently get MLB batters out. Considering he has thrown 148 innings in what amounts to his first full rehab year, the Pirates are not going to have an easy decision to make as he is out of options, but I assume they will do all they can to hold on to him for at least another season.
After watching Micah Owings pitch and hit, all I could do was tip my hat to the Diamondbacks scouting and development teams, as well as Owings. He single-handedly beat the Pirates. His stuff from the mound wasn’t all that impressive but we just couldn’t get him figured out.
Jack Wilson and Jose Castillo filled in the middle infield for the first time together since, since, since I don’t know when earlier this year. And after the lack of hustle and commitment on the field by Jose Castillo Thursday, I doubt we’ll see him play another game the rest of the year.. perhaps ever as a Pirate.
He’s been a disappointment and fans have the right to question the man’s makeup after Thursday’s debacle. If he wants out of the organization, you would think the way to achieve that is by playing hard so he builds value, not laying down like a dog.
Xavier Nady with a rough hammy playing left field?
At PNC Park?
On wet grass?
With JVB on the mound?
Was that supposed to be a joke or something? If so, I missed it. Talk about one bizarre move. For the record, he played the position about as well as you would expect Frank Thomas to play it.
Poor X. What will be asked of him next?
A very curious calm has transended on the Pirates dugout. No arguments on obvious blown calls, no funny looks out of the side of players faces at the umpires on missed strikes, no retalitory hits on the opposition, and nothing but friendly glares at the other team.
Maybe Huntington has finally laid down the law? If so, I’m impressed.
Our makeup on the field and in the dugout has been extremely poor all year, especially to professional umpires. It’s a refreshing change.
Let Tracy and his staff do the arguing – the players need to stay out of it until they get some reasonable service time under their belts.
You have to wonder if Jim Leyland read the Pirates seeming intent to rebuild in the Post-Gazette yesterday when he announced his desire to sign a one-year extension with the Tigers through 2009.
2010 – two more years. Hmm. That’s when the sun and moon align. Maybe…
Hey, what do you know, Bucco Blog was the most popular fan blog at MLBlogs in July and August. Mark Newman, an Editor with MLB.com said:
"Congrats to our friend Jake over at Bucco Blog, as he finished the July-August period as the most popular fan blog here with 80,869 page views over that two-month stretch.
Those are big numbers considering (a) he is not linked from the club’s homepage as with most of the other especially high-traffic MLBlogs, and (b) the Pirates’ record…
Frequency = following."
What Mark probably didn’t know is that we moved all our media content off MLB.com’s servers in June anticipating a software changeover at MLB and Google analytics suggests our total page view count was actually 191,539 between the two content servers (109,332 at MLBlogs alone). Plus, we were shut down for about five days or so in July to boot.
When we consider our little site isn’t a chat haven with multiple page loads per visitor, you might say we’ve been luckier than the Pirates.
Thanks to MLB.com for the shout.
Now, where are my credentials?
L to R – Bullington, Osoria, Sanchez, Perez, Maldanado, JVB, Davidson, Youman, Morgan, Pearce
A special thanks to Pirates Director of Media Relations Jim Trdinich for identifying the rookies and providing the following background information:
"This is at least the 10th consecutive year for this ritual. The veterans take the rookies clothes after the final game of a series on the final road trip and replace them with costumes. The rookies (or young players) must wear the clothes out of the clubhouse to the bus, on the charter to the next city and to the team hotel.
Sometimes we go through the airport (we didn’t this year). This year, the bus dropped them off about 5 blocks from the team hotel in Chicago and they had to walk down Michigan Avenue at 10:00 that night.
All in good fun."
Watching late money flowing in Vegas can be pretty entertaining and if you are savvy enough, you can make a bundle plucking down a few dollars late. Wednesday night’s games offered two such bets: the Cubs playing at Florida and the Diamondbacks facing Matt Morris at PNC.
The Marlins rack up runs on poor pitching like the Cubs are throwing at them, and Matt Morris hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs to the Diamondbacks but twice since 2002.
Sure enough, Matt Morris threw a six-hitter over seven frames while striking out seven(!) and allowing one run after posting an 11.48 ERA last three. Wow. The Pirates went on to win the game as the decided underdog.
And the Marlins feasted on Jason Marquis and loud Cubs fans who sang the Cubbies 7th inning stretch version that put the Marlins dugout over the top. The Marlins cruised to win their game as underdogs as well.
In Pittsburgh, the only hit that mattered was Adam LaRoche’s third inning double that Chris Young in center misplayed allowing two runs to score. Everything else like Nady’s blast in the 5th was gravy on top.
Playing under the full moon, the Pirates made some nice defense plays with contributions from Nate McLouth, who laid out for a catch in the fifth, and Nady, who made a nice shoestring catch off the turf in the ninth.
But the game belonged to Morris who had good command, despite being up in the zone with his hook, and kept Arizona’s hitters honest by changing speeds and locating well.
Is Neal Huntington starting to make impact decisions, or were these already planned?
It was nice to hear Wednesday that Paul Maholm had been shut down and Freddy Sanchez was allowed to leave and have surgery on his shoulder that we had originally heard was planned for this winter.
It is thought Maholm has had lower back pain on and off since the first week of August but he continued to pitch. When he was brought back September 16th after David Littlefield was fired, we questioned the value of such a move and the rest is history.
Sanchez has been seen squinting at the plate occasionally for a good part of the year but we just thought that was Sanchez being Sanchez. Obviously it wasn’t.
Throw in Jason Bay being removed from active duty this week and these are good moves being made to protect assets. We continue to question why Tom Gorzelanny is in the rotation and why Xavier Nady is playing, however.
tadau mentioned in yesterday’s comments:
"Elaborate on this paragraph and I might consider jumping on board.
I’m guessing tadau wants to know more about Huntington. I’ll be honest, he wasn’t on my top ten list but Frank Coonelly and Robert Nutting made their decision and that’s that.
The Indians model Coonelly seemingly wants to follow requires that veterans be traded for younger talent and, after hearing from both sides of the coin, I’ve decided to have an open mind.
Coonelly is well known for being an articulate planner and organizer – both sides agree with that. Where the two sides fall apart is on his ability to manage and evaluate. But I’m hoping I don’t see Huntington out evaluating anybody but potential first round picks or his own farm system – his team should be doing his work.
And I’m also hoping he becomes more of a delegational manager than he has in the past using strong professional voices he surrounds himself with.
Those are the three keys to his success in Pittsburgh as far as I’m concerned: who he can get to join his team from the front office to the circuit to the GCL, and then how he revamps the outdated regional scouting and old school player development systems he inherited.
Of course, this assumes an ownership financial commitment along the way, especially in a few years when he’ll need the complimentary vets.
As for my writing becoming a barrier, let’s be honest, few were writing anything optimistic about the Pirates the last couple of years and all that negativity only fueled more negativity. We were all fed up – and still are. But I’m not going to continue tossing out pure negativity anymore because what I wanted to see has happened – a new team is in place.
They may not be my picks but I don’t pay the bills either.
I’m hoping the fans follow suit and commit their positive energy to the rebuilding process we all wanted to see done correctly years and years ago, but wasn’t. We’re smart enough now to not be bowled over with trinket PR statements so let’s give them a chance by getting on board.
Not three chances like Kevin McClatchy had, just one. As long as Coonelly and company continue to move forward at a reasonable pace, I’m dialed in and I hope you are too.
A lot of people have asked this question of me:
"Define expected success."
Implementing a dramatic culture change throughout a large organization is not going to be an easy task. It’s going to take time. I mentioned three keys above I feel will immediately tell us if Huntington is on the right path or not:
1 — First and foremost, who he employs and the positions they are given. Until this is done, we can’t gauge anything but this is sure to be his first moves – restructuring the organization.
2 — Our regional scouting system revamped into an expanded national system so that higher productivity is achieved and fewer mistakes are made. Like many around the game, I believe this is a critical move Huntington has to make.
3 — Our old school player development system revamped into a progressive machine that spits culture of success at every level starting with area scouts. Huntington has to know he needs to rebuild our farm from the bottom up and that starts with putting new men in place in many positions. Who he hires will be critical and it has to be in place this winter for the most part.
Those three keys will be his phase one and we will be able to better evaluate him on these by March at the latest. That’s where I’m looking right now.
As you have probably noticed, there is only a couple of posts available on the main page and there’s a good reason for that – Bucco Blog is starting a new slate.
Because we believe that the road to respect for the Pittsburgh Pirates has to be first paved by us – the fans. Frank Coonelly and the owners, Neal Huntington and his team, and current and future players, will all finish sealing what we begin, but without our initial investment and hard work, their vision can never be realized.
It’s our responsibility as fans.
Call it leadership, call it values, call it an attitude – call it anything you want. But first of all, call it mutual accountability.
As fans, we have to get back to the days where we are sitting in the stands watching a game and believe our scream of "SWING" made the opposing batter swing through a pitch, that our standing and clapping made the difference when a Pirate batter singles home the winning run in the ninth, or that just showing up in the stands on the road cheering for our team made us believe we were the difference that day.
It’s the feeling of empowerment, which many of us haven’t embraced in quite some time.
What changed my mind so suddenly? While checking into the hotel to watch the Marlins/Cubs series, I had the great fortune to run into two Hall of Fame type writers and a national scout who were on their way to dinner and they invited me to sit with them.
Nearly two hours later, I walked away knowing more about Neal Huntington than I ever wanted to know and thoroughly understanding how my writing had become as much a barrier to the Pirates success over the years as Dave Littlefield’s ‘fear factor’ had.
Every dose of negativity, no matter what the source, ultimately fueled the Pirates self-destructive path on the field and in the front office.
Now it’s not that Bucco Blog can’t be critical because constructive criticism actually helps to solve problems and everybody, no matter how tuned in, has blinders on at times. The same is true when you place a comment into a post here that somebody in the Pirates front office reads and a light goes off. Believe it or not, it does happen.
Communication in all forms is very important especially during change, and change infers trust because if we didn’t trust those leading the change, we should all be off to greener pastures anyway.
Disbelievers, no matter where their lack of trust originates, are going to immediately shout that this is all a bunch of malarkey and the Nutting’s have simply put themselves into a stronger position to cash-in the next few years.
We very well might still think that could be possible, but we all need to refuse to allow it be in the forefront any longer. We have to trust everyone from Robert Nutting down that they will all work as a team to accomplish a culture of success and, until Nutting or Coonelly or Huntington prove to us via their own behavior they have no intent to foster the process, there is no reason to fight the positive harmony.
So count Bucco Blog as being on board the new ship and, when we see the first leak that isn’t plugged over time, we’ll be the first to let you know the ship is starting to sink. The ride might be longer than we wish for but the end result will be mutually satisfying.
Now it’s up to you – are you going to jump aboard or continue to stand as a barrier?
So I’m sitting at Dolphin Stadium watching the ‘loveable losers’ fall a part at the seams and on my portable I’m tuned into the Pirates MLB.tv broadcast. It’s just amazing what you can do at the ballpark anymore.
After the Cubs lost, I headed back to the hotel knowing the Pirates had a comfortable 5-1 lead and, by the time I finally get my portable back on line, I’m just in time to see Stephen Drew tie the game in the 8th with a single off John Grabow.
I couldn’t believe the bullpen had robbed Ian Snell yet again.
The Diamondbacks brought out "Mr. Hold" Brandon Lyon who gave up a one out double to Adam LaRoche, got Ronny Paulino to fly out, and then promptly fell apart by balking LaRoche to third. Phelps completed Lyons misery by punching a seeing eye grounder through the left side to score LaRoche and the Bucs regained the lead.
Ten pitches and two strikeouts later, Matt Capps took home his 18th save in front of a full house of Pirate ownership, a new CEO and general manager, and Kevin McClatchy who was back in his favorite front row seat.
Did you happen to see the ridiculous call first base umpire Tony Randazzo made in the fourth inning? Paulino hit a flair into right field that landed an inch or two away from the chalk line in fair territory and Randazzo called it foul.
What was so strange about the whole ordeal was that Paulino, first base coach John Shelby who watched the ball fall in, or anyone on the Pirates bench, raised even the slightest protest.
Jason Bay has been officially retired from the starting lineup in 2007. That’s a good sign somebody is tuned in.
Jack Wilson didn’t make it back to Pittsburgh in time to play Tuesday’s game. Officially the reason given was that his wife had complications with birth but the press reports about the birth we’ve read said she was back home in a couple of days doing fine. So who knows what’s going on there.
Not that anyone really wants to hear this, but the Cubs looked rough Tuesday night. After scoring 30 runs in three games we started southpaws in, they couldn’t manage but one hit through seven against the D-Train who was dealing in front of the hordes of scouts at the game.
A couple of events occurred in the game that are noteworthy. The Marlins scoreboard operator ran a replay of the Marlins 2003 playoff run over the Cubs after the first inning and Cubs fans and players at the park lost it. It was hilarious watching the players avoid contact with the scoreboard.
And in the 9th inning with Lee on first and one out, Lee Gardner tossed a perfect heater on the outside black of the plate Aramis Ramirez lost his cool over. He eventually flied out and as he was walking back to the dugout, he started talking loudly to Matt Murton who was standing near the plate.
After a few words, Ramirez turned and walked about five more feet and then turned his head toward home plate umpire Andy Fletcher who was looking right at him and seemed to uttered the "F" word and was immediately ejected.