Ahh.. sugar, the natural buzz. My three year old spent three hours collecting candy, and ten minutes digesting enough where I could put a light bulb in his mouth and it would probably glow, he was so wired. Gotta love Halloween.
You may have noticed that I have shut off comments on the blog. Unfortunately, MLBlogs is using a horribly outdated version of TypePad for our blogging platform and I have better things to do than to monitor comments for profanity, spam, and stupidity.
However, MLB is in the middle of changing to a new format this winter which will include tools to keep kiddies and spammers at bay so, until they roll it out, feel free to email me (link is on the right sidebar).
Since I have so many Blackberry and other cellphone viewers now, I’ve made the site available to you via plusmo.
Joey Cora? Another dredge from the bottom of the sea. But what a reunion it would be if Cora was to become manager and A-Rod signed as a free agent. Wow – just think of the giveaways we could have, like crying towel day! Isn’t it a bit odd though that nobody seems to care about the Pirates wish to keep their manager search quiet? The guys you hear about are the guys who won’t get the job since Frank Coonelly and Robert Nutting take offense to such nonsense, as the GM search showed us.
But hey – this guy is available!
As we’ve said before, it’s looking like it’s Jewitt’s job. In this case, it could be he’ll get it by default.
What does it say for an organization that rebuilds it’s front office with a new CEO and GM and then an editor for Major League Baseball comes out and says:
"The Pittsburgh Pirates may be the worst-run organization in baseball at this point."
Ok, it’s slapstick – he was talking about the last 15 years.
Pirate fans are licking their chops looking at the MLB free agent list but the list they need to be watching hasn’t been released yet – the MiLB six-year free agent list.
I didn’t think Chacon was going to be ranked as a "B" player but I thought he had a chance. Elias released their rankings today for the National League. So much for even a little compensation.. we might as well resign him. The fans will be shocked to see Paulino listed as an "A" player. Good for him.. he’s worked hard, albeit he still has a ways to go.
Great – just what we need, Curt Schilling with the Cubs, as is being mildly rumored.
And what’s with the Mets picking up a $7.5MM option on Moises Alou? Wow.. considering he’s a half-a-season guy anymore, that’s a lot of money for a two-win guy. I guess the game has gone past $3.8MM per win in most circles now or Alou is worth more at 41 than I think he is.
Torri Hunter and Aaron Rowland contacted by Houston? Oh-man.. do the ‘stros expect us to believe Tad Smith will sign either of those men? I certainly don’t. That would be like the Reds signing Roger Clemens next year. But tip your hat to Ed Wade for making Astros fans feel important.
At the same time, let’s just hope the division doesn’t start drinking McClatchy’s famous funny water.
Aramas – gone. Chacon – gone. At least in theory, as they both filed for free agency. Losing Chacon and his 7.4 K/9 and 3.89 ERA will hurt the Bucs because there is nobody to step in to replace him. Aramas.. well, at least we can say good luck to him.
Bob Gebhard.. remember the name. Some say Huntington is after him to be his #1 while others say he’s already turned Huntington down.
Luis Munoz put on the 40-man. Surprising move, to say the least – even if he was able to declare free agency. You’ll probably read in all the newspapers how Munoz had some of the best stats in the Pirates system last year but let’s be serious a moment.
He’s a 26 year-old 150 pound right hander, has a five-year career 5.77 K/9, was +71 innings in 2006 over 2005 and his dominance tanked in the second-half, he was lit up like a Christmas tree in his cup of coffee tour of Indy mid-year, and his Major League Equivalency projects a .416 OBA and 1.000+ OPS.
That’s not quality stock – that’s more garbage added to the 40-man. Let’s hope Huntington is attempting to fool other teams into thinking he believes Munoz is worthy wanting to package him off in a deal down the road and not thinking of adding him to the 25-man after dealing Snell et al.
This has to be the most ridiculous rumor you will read all winter about Jason Bay. It’s so bad, they should win an award for sheer stupidity. And believe it or not, they actually think it’s possible. Wow.
Rumors about Jack Wilson to the Rays are nuts – forget them.
Jonah Keri’s fabulous article at Baseball Prospectus in February 2002 is a must read as Pirate fans head off into another eight-year plan.
I guess our article yesterday about the Pirates front office being one of our best readers sent Huntington scrambling calling a closed door meeting with folks all day Tuesday. The topics we heard about were: trying to keep everyone from jumping ship on Thursday and implementing a proxy server so blogs like us won’t know they are leaching. Hilarious.
Since many of you asked about the possibility of Don Mattingly becoming the Pirates manager, I emailed him to see if he would answer a couple of quick questions for us all. The one question I really want him to answer is – Joe (Torre) or Lou (Piniella)?
Brian Graham was fired from the Pirates a player development director and took a job with the Orioles Tuesday as a special assignment coach. Talk about a demotion.
Class act John Shelby also went to the Orioles as their first base coach. Good for him.
Now all they need is Dave Littlefield and Ed Creech up there somewhere..
Fans want to know – Mickey White back in Pittsburgh? I get more mail asking about Mick then just about anyone. Last I heard he was working for the Marlins and I doubt you’ll see him back working in Kevin McClatchy/Bob Nutting’s regime.
My first thought reading the poll results was that the fans follow media suggestions too much.
I mean, Tony Pena didn’t rank as high as Trent Jewitt.. what’s up with that? Jewitt is a great guy and all, but still..
Then I considered that, perhaps, some fans still think of Pena as the guy who quit on the young Royals much like Jimmy Leyland quit on the soon to be young Pirates after Kevin McClatchy bought the franchise.
Or, maybe the fans thought voting for Pena was useless because he will probably remain with the Yankees?
Is it possible those voting don’t remember Pena in Pittsburgh?
Of all the candidates listed, Pena by far and away has the most experience, has to be considered one of the most credible, and would seem to be the best choice to manage the Pirates outside of Girardi. Yet, that’s not who the fans indicated they would like to see.
Thanks for participating.
A few season ticket holders have emailed indicating ticket prices have remained the same for the 2008 season (at least to them, that is) and that perks have been marginalized. Season ticket holders lost the following perks from 2007 (at least none of these are mentioned in the 2008 brochure):
– two free Piratefest tickets and early access to Piratefest with a private autograph session;
– six free game tickets has been reduced to two infield boxes;
– exclusive Q&A with the GM;
– Father’s Day catch on the field;
– Kid’s clinic;
– possibility of appearing in a Pirates commercial;
– advance opportunity to buy concert tickets;
– half-price Lady Bucs membership;
– chance to win two World Series and All-Star game tickets including air costs;
– limited edition print.
Added benefits seem to include – early payment bonuses including the ability to purchase extra Yankees series tickets plus a hat and golf shirt, and enhanced customer service.
And if you pay by November 8th, you get to carry all the black ink home you can pack up from the club’s profit and loss statement each week and start your own spamming operation selling recycled ink. Wow..
Anyway, here is the Pirates promotional schedule for 2008 for your viewing pleasure (large 770k or small 270k). And for the curious, here is Frank Coonelly’s letter to season ticket holders last week.
Thanks to everyone who submitted communication.
Bucco Blog has been approached by one national media group asking us to come under their umbrella and part of that process required us to reveal weekly stats to them. While I’ve paid attention to overall numbers, where people were coming from wasn’t as interesting to me as it was to the group.
At the close of the week I ran the report and took a few minutes to decipher it and, low and behold, guess which viewer was the 20th most frequent visitor?
Renteria went to the Tigers as we mentioned the other day was being talked about. While the fans seem to think that means Wilson will be staying put, the Tigers aren’t the only team in need of a shortstop so don’t count your chickens quite yet.
It is worth noting there is little rumor talk about Wilson as the GM meetings approach.
Paul Meyer with the Post-Gazette revealed in a rehash of rehash article Tuesday:
"Huntington had sought to name an assistant general manager before interviewing managerial candidates, but his focus has shifted."
I’m sorry.. I couldn’t help myself. Come on now.. nearly six weeks after getting the job the man can’t even find a #1?????
I’m available. Huntington can give me the title "Sabermetric Analyst to keep Jake off my butt for the next TWO years".
I can just see the other GM’s licking their chops waiting for Huntington to open the garage door.
Man-oh-man, are we in trouble.
Beaver County Times Pirates beat writer John Perrotto had a couple of interesting tidbits in his article yesterday:
"New York Yankees professional scout Jeff Wetherby is reportedly a candidate to become the Pirates’ scouting director."
"Colorado bench coach Jamie Quirk is being mentioned as a possible candidate for the Pirates’ vacant manager’s job."
Good stuff there Mr. Perrotto.
Wetherby has ties to both Jeff Manto (1990 Colorado Sky Box), as well as ex-Bucs third-base coach John Russell (Braves 1989), and has been a professional scout for six years (’02 Tigers, ’03-07 Yankees). Prior to becoming a pro scout, he was an amateur scout with the Tigers.
You may remember Wetherby as the guy who had just one at bat against Gregg Maddux and hit a home run off him. It would be the only home run Wetherby would ever hit in his major league career of 48 at bats.
I spoke to a couple of my Tampa friends about Wetherby and got responses like "one crazy dude – maybe too much Wellman rubbed off on him in ’86?" and "I’ll be shocked if the Pirates sign him".
I’ll leave it right there.
My cousin went through the Royals farm system and had a chance to meet and work with Quirk over the years and, well, let’s just say Quirk as the Pirates manager would be a huge surprise. He may be interviewed but, unless Huntington is more desperate than even I believe he is, Quirk isn’t the answer.
End of that story too.
Terry Pluto, a Pulitzer Prize nominee columnist with the Cleveland Plain Dealer, suggested that Jason Bay would be a great fit for the Indians.
We mentioned this vision back in early October, thanks to a couple of folks in the game who warned us this exact thing would eventually happen:
"But don’t fear Pirate fans. Just think, when Huntington decides to hold his rebuilding garage sale, you can be absolutely sure there will be one trading partner Huntington will have at his disposal.
"Yup – Mark Shapiro."
I suggest Terry Pluto start a new book. This one he can call: Dealing: The Cleveland Indians’ New Ballgame: Inside the Front Office and the Process of Screwing Other Organizations Out of Their Talent by Grooming Execs for Others to Hire
Oh man.. I suppose I should start evaluating all the meager talent left
in the Indians system since this is all but sure to play out.
Following up on yesterday’s PITCHf/x post on Pirate batters, the spreadsheet below shows what the typical starting lineup for the Pirates (Bay, Nady, McLouth, LaRoche, Sanchez, Wilson, Bautista, and Paulino) saw at each pitch count.
At the end I compared what Pirate batters saw to what the Red Sox lineup of Varitek, Youkilis, Pedoria, Lowell, Lugo, Ramirez, Crisp, Drew, and Ortiz) saw, as well as the MLB average.
As an example, the Pirates saw 2.2% more fastballs overall than the Red Sox lineup but 0.5% less than the MLB average. Interestingly, Pirate batters were fed more cutters and curves than league average.
Seeing more curves is expected.. look at the stats of the main four trying to hit a curve:
We can guess that teams went to more cutters last year knowing the Pirates wail a changeup. But it didn’t work – batters wailed cutters even harder.
Congrats to Craig Biggio for taking home the 2007 Roberto Clemente Award (given annually to a major league player who combines community service with excellence on the field). It’s a perfect fit.
How many WS rings does Bill James (the guy everyone laughed at) have in the five years he’s been there? Two. Wow. Congrats to the Red Sox! Fogg starting game three.. what a joke.
Here’s another Dan Duquette signing that might be heading to Pittsburgh soon. LoL
Is Jim Duquette taking over as Huntington’s adviser? Hmm..
Perhaps we should start a blog pool.. what will be Neil’s next excuse? His dog died? The Commissioner said he can’t talk until after the GM meetings in December? Coonelly has the flu?
I better go get some sleep because it’s going to be interesting trying to sort the garbage in the recycling bins this week.
A few readers emailed me this quote Rob Biertempfel had in the Trib the other day:
"I keep hearing whispers that things are taking a while to develop because the Pirates are having trouble finding people who are eager to work for them."
Whispers? Gezz.. ever hear how loud a fog horn is? That’s how loud it has been since September 21. It’s nice to see Biertempfel finally got in the loop and/or admitted he is.
Perhaps the fans should wonder why others are pretending not to hear things? Right Mr. Meyer?
BTW, one good source says John Farrell has no intention of becoming the Pirates next manager. But a front office gig he might entertain. Perhaps that is what Huntington had in mind all along? But don’t count on seeing Farrell in any position in Pittsburgh, the source said. We’ll see.
What happened to yesterday’s post on the rumors? I accidentally overwrote it (and the backup copy) watching the World Series. First time in two years that’s happened. Go figure.
Essentially, we’re still hearing the Twins have an interest in Bay based on whether Hunter is resigned or not; Wilson to Detroit is all but dead as the Tigers seem to be going after Renteria; and there is speculation the Rockies are going to come after Snell. I was surpised hearing that one knowing the Rockies have some right hand pitching depth in their system but if Dave Holliday comes to the Pirates front office..
For those who haven’t been watching Gameday this year, gamecast software includes detailed pitch tracking information (PITCHf/x) about pitches thrown. This data can be extracted from xml files that power Gameday and used to evaluate players. Unfortunately, many stadiums didn’t get their cameras until late in the year like PNC Park so data is spotty this year at best.
That being said, I extracted what data is available for the Pirates and have some basic analysis for your viewing pleasure.
The spreadsheet below shows each player and the percentage of pitch types they saw (% pl P = % of all pitches that player saw), a comparison to the league average, and the player’s batting average and slugging stats from each pitch type.
A wealth of information is available with the PITCHf/x data. For instance, did you know Jack Wilson saw 55% fastballs and that, when he got ahead in the count, he was thrown a fastball three out of four times? Now you know why Wilson had a .519 OBP on 2-0 last year.. he ate fastballs for dinner on the count.
On the flip side, Nady – who we have always thought of a fastball killer, saw 49% heaters and hit just .139 off them.
Saying that, there is this disclaimer - only 3500 pitches were able to be tracked and they were all late in the year. Nady and Bay, as you know, were not 100% late. So as mentioned earlier, be careful not to assume too much from this data set other than what pitchers were throwing the players on average.
|Player||Type||% pl P||LG Ave %||BA||SLG|
Sure enough, when a southpaw started at PNC the Pirates were more apt to win the game behind them since 2001. Interestingly though, right-hand pitchers ended up with a better personal pitching record (win/loss decisions).
As a side note, southpaws have yet to win a game against the Braves at PNC since 2001 in six tries, are 2-13 against the Dodgers, 9-13 vs. the Astros, and have won just 1 in 9 against the D’Backs.
Yet, they have won all five against the Mets, are 13-8 vs. the Reds, and are 16-3 against the Brewers.
The scout wasn’t buying my overall look – he asked me to look at the current staff. So I went back and recompiled just 2006 and 2007 and here’s what I found..
It’s nice to know this club has a winning record buried somewhere the last two years. And notice it’s over 92 games – that’s certainly not a random event.
Considering the Pirates had three left-hand starters for most of the two years, it’s not so surprising that 57% of the games between 2006-2007 were started by a southpaw. At the same time, it certainly seems like it needs to be over 65%, especially when you consider the Pirates southpaw record in away games between 2006-2007..
It’s going to take a lot more than an organizational culture change to get better production on the road. The splits you are seeing between home and away are not too terribly unusual for young players. But 23-66 for southpaws on the road is way out of kilter. The scout suggested four wins every ten played on the road is about normal for a very young staff.
Now we have a better idea where we need to pick up our game.
Quick fact –
Three of the top seventeen runs produced (rbi + runs – home runs) players in the National League between 2000 – 2007 were under the Pirates control. Giles at #7 with 1288, Bonds at #13 with 1152, and Aramis Ramirez at #17 with 1087.
How about Steven Pearce racking up the awards? Today he took down the Topps J.G. Taylor Spink Award, an award that has been given since 1988 to the Topps Minor League Player of the Year. Wow..
Big time congrats to Pearce!
The Neal Huntington Show is coming to a forum near you. Simply go to this page and ask any question in 25-words or less to Mr. Neal and he’ll answer them "on a regular basis" in his new question and answer forum.
Good for the Pirates. They have long been poor communicators with the fans so this is a plus. But you have to wonder why Huntington didn’t reach out to, say, Bucco Blog, and answer our readers hard questions instead of sitting behind the censors at pirateball?
So we’ll ask him here. Neal, you are cordially invited to drop by Bucco Blog anytime (video chat, telephone live chat, or online Q&A) and let our readers ask some uncensored questions. The only requirement we have if you attend is that doublespeak isn’t allowed.
Pirates bullpen coach Bobby Ceullar was hired by the Twins to manage their AA affiliate, the New Britain Rock Cats. It’s good to see he got a gig.
Jeff Cox was officially introduced as the White Sox third base coach today too.
In a sign that Trent Jewitt might be getting a promotion to Pittsburgh, Rusty Kuntz joined the Royals as their first base coach today. There sure are a lot of people leaving the organization all of a sudden.
New manager candidates for Huntington?
Andrew McCutchen is having a field day in the AFL while Nyjer Morgan can’t find his stroke. Cutch is having a bit more patience at the plate which is good to see.
And four Pirate farmhands (Davidson, Chavez, Hernandez, and Bresnehan) have combined to throw 20 innings and have allowed fewer runs than the Twin’s Nick Blackburn in his five innings. Smokin’ baby.. just smokin.
You have to love some of the comments coming out of Federal Street lately because they cause ears to perk up. Here’s a few examples:
"Huntington is considering adding more area scouts to the payroll. He also wants the cross-checkers — labeled "supervisors" in the Pirates’ new lexicon — to do more hands-on work with the area scouts." October 21, 2007
Almost a month ago, Bucco Blog listed three critical pieces (end of article) to the Pirates overhaul puzzle that we believe will quickly enable the fans to determine if Neal Huntington and Frank Coonelly are going to be successful.
Listed as #2 was this piece:
"Our regional scouting system revamped into an expanded national system so that higher productivity is achieved and fewer mistakes are made."
It’s well known in the industry that the Pirates have paid their scouts below league average wages for years resulting in few quality people willing to work for them. So the fact Huntington wants to add more scouts doesn’t mean a thing unless his budget is significantly increased.
However, it does seem like he is attempting to nationalize the system. The end result could be that an East Coast cross-checker is out West giving talent there a second look, the West Coast guy in the South double checking talent there, and so on. The failure of the Pirates to move to such a system over the years has resulted in very poor drafts.
However again, none of this means a thing if we don’t hear Huntington is given double or triple the budget Dave Littlefield had for scouting last year.
Pirateball.com had two comments. The first:
"I also was interested in touring the facilities down in Bradenton and seeing the renovations being done," added Huntington … "[w]ith my experience in the past, I wanted to see if there were new ideas that I could bring to the table."
Interesting comment since Huntington et al brought a host of new culture etiquette programs to the Indians training facilities like, which fork to eat with your salad, how to properly hold your nose in the snobbery position, and when the little finger should be pointed outward.
Kidding aside, the young players are taught basic life skills in classes like how to balance a checkbook, managing money, and proper care of their body, before they hit the field to play everyday. We have to assume Huntington’s trip to Bradenton was to insure new chalkboards, overhead projectors, and laser pointers were on order. Still, this is good stuff.
The second comment at Pirateball.com was this:
"We are going to be fairly aggressive in trying to reach out to Pirates of the past… We are looking for outstanding candidates, and those can come from any number of places."
Couple that comment with Huntington’s recent revelation that he’s "now ready" to start looking for a manager, you have to wonder what happened to him hiring his #1 first? More on that later.
You have to agree with Huntington’s thought that folks shouldn’t just be brought in because they happen to be ex-Pirates, but there are some very qualified people available in the pool. Whether any of them would be interested since they are all working for other organizations, and considering the aura (no pun intended Neal) on Federal Street right now, is another thing.
That brings us to revelations out West – home plate whispers from the Arizona Fall League.
Evidently, some of the players who attended the Pirates Instructional League camp this year walked away "bewildered" and "somewhat demoralized" by the lack of direction and general disorganization.
Brian Graham had taken over late for Dave Littlefield who had been fired and minor league pitching rover Gary Ruby left the organization earlier in the year leaving Indianapolis Indians pitching coach Jeff Andrews filling in for Ruby.
Certainly chaos was to be expected since the organization was in transition, but that evidently didn’t stop the young players from being impacted. Now don’t forget, Huntington was on the job during Instructionals so he could have made a difference early on if he wanted to, but it seems he chose not to.
Speaking of hot seat talk, this comes during the ALCS where some seem to believe Frank Coonelly has his eye on taking the Commissioner’s seat and that his stop in Pittsburgh is nothing short of an attempt to be the "knight who saved the Pittsburgh Pirates."
One source states that at least one general manager candidate who interviewed with Bob Nutting and Coonelly was asked point-blank how he would feel about Coonelly making all the major baseball decisions. Surprised he was even asked, his answer "doomed whatever chance he had."
The source goes on to suggest there were at least three GM candidates who interviewed other than Huntington and all walked away believing they had the job until Huntington’s name was announced after Mark Shapiro’s lobbying. Two of the three even had farm directors and teams ready to put in place.
Coonelly and Huntington "are being brutally roasted in the stands" and, as we’ve mentioned here numerous times, the source stated that "quality baseball people continue to refuse to have anything to do with them. Frank and Neal’s handiwork has left a lot of bodies strewn across the baseball landscape this past month – and those bodies are picking themselves up and spreading the word."
Lastly, this question echoed in the air from someone in the group: "if and when Frank goes back to NY, will he take Neal with him?"
Brutal… but it’s right in line with what we have heard from others around the game, as well as from the Chairman himself.
Nutting stated that his President/CEO would be active in business and operations so it was painfully obvious from the onset Coonelly was going to be running this ship.
And I’m still of the opinion that, through Robert Nutting, Dan Duquette has a silent hand over Coonelly anyway which none of the GM candidates could have possibly known was going to happen. Although, the Nuttings have had their hands directly on this sinking ship since late 2002, so really – what’s new? Huntington seems to be just another puppet like Littlefield was to McClatchy when he was playing executive.
Yet, to hear that three candidates all felt they were duped along the way? No wonder there is so much "fast Philly lawyer" and "Neal the kid" gossip spreading from so many different sources. Wow.
The next few weeks should be very interesting indeed as potential new puppet manager names like Jay Bell, Dave Clark, Art Howe, and others who are a considerable step down in stature, start to appear.
Tip of the hat to Jim Trdinich and the rest of the holdovers for having the guts (nerve?) to hang on keeping the organization going. You have to believe some in the front office still don’t know if they are in or out.