John Holdzkom talks about the time he called Chelsea Peretti’s podcast

“I wasn’t in denial of anything,” he said recently, reflecting on the call. “I wasn’t mad about anything. I was just aware of the reality.”

Peretti called him “mad mature” and her favorite caller yet.

I mean, we already knew that he’d called into the podcast, but now that we have the full story and a Chelsea Peretti quote to go with it, this is pretty much my favorite against-all-odds baseball story of all-time.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 10: Left fielder Starling Marte #6 of the Pittsburgh Pirates reacts after hitting an RBI single in the top of the sixth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies on September 10, 2014 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Pirates defeated the Phillies 6-3 (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Starling Marte doesn’t need to break out to be good; he’s already there

This is an oft-repeated pre-season 2015 Pittsburgh Pirate trope: If Starling Marte can play like he played in August and September last year, he’ll be a star.  This is a list of the outfielders in Major League Baseball to have more than 10 WAR (Baseball-Reference WAR, at least: UZR haaaaates the Pirates’ outfield defense and […]

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 06: Jeff Locke #49 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches in the first inning against the Miami Marlins during the game at PNC Park on August 6, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Jeff Locke makes rotation, John Holdzkom optioned to Triple-A

The Pirates’ final roster decisions are coming quickly with the season less than a week today. Yesterday, they announced that Jeff Locke would get the final spot in the starting rotation, with Vance Worley headed to the bullpen. Today, John Holdzkom was among the players the Pirates demoted to Indianapolis, giving the bullpen more or […]


Backup plans

Last year, the Pirates started the season with Pedro Alvarez at third base, Travis Ishikawa at first base, Wandy Rodriguez and Charlie Morton in the rotation, Jason Grilli in the bullpen, and a right field slot reserved for Gregory Polanco. By the end of the season, Polanco was the only one of those players even […]

DUNEDIN, FL - FEBRUARY 28:  Russell Martin #55 of the Toronto Blue Jays poses on photo day on February 28, 2015 in Dunedin, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

I haven’t freaked out yet about Russell Martin’s absence (but maybe I should)

Now that we’re rolling into season preview season, I’m starting to notice a trend in Pirate previews. There are really, really positive previews and there are guardedly optimistic ones. The dividing line between the two tends to be what the previewer thinks of the absence of Russell Martin. I mainly noticed this while reading the […]

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 14:  Andrew Lambo #57 of the Pittsburgh Pirates takes the field against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning of their game on September 14, 2014 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The Pirates defeated the Cubs 7-3.  (Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images)

Andrew Lambo < 500

Every once in a while, there’s a time dilation effect with prospects that makes it hard to properly figure out exactly what sort of player you have on your hands. Andrew Lambo hasn’t been on a Top 100 prospects list since 2009. He actually first hit Double-A and played in the Arizona Fall League the […]

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 02:  Tony Sanchez #26 of the Pittsburgh Pirates celebrates after hitting the game-winning RBI single in the 16th inning against the Chicago Cubs during the game at PNC Park April 2, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The Pirates defeated the Cubs 4-3 in 16 innings.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Tony Sanchez < 500

Let’s begin here: Chris Stewart has a hamstring injury that will likely cause him to open the 2015 season on the disabled list. That means that Sanchez, who’s crushing the ball this spring (10-for-19 with two doubles and two homers) and has apparently shown some improvement defensively, will probably open the season as Francisco Cervelli’s primary […]

BRADENTON, FL - MARCH 5: Garrett Jones #33 of the New York Yankees breaks up a double play attempt against Sean Rodriguez #3 of the Pittsburgh Pirates during the game at McKechnie Field on March 5, 2015 in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Sean Rodriguez < 500

There is a chicken-or-the-egg game to be played with Sean Rodriguez and Jung Ho Kang right now that goes a little something like this: Would the Pirates have traded a decentish prospect like Buddy Borden for a player that had been designated for assignment like Sean Rodriguez if they knew that they were only a […]

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Jung Ho Kang #27 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a portrait on photo day on February 26, 2015 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Jung Ho Kang < 500

This is what I think is wonderful about Jung-Ho Kang: I have no idea what he’s going to do in 2015. None. With most players, I can make an educated guess based on minor league numbers and key rate stats and other indicators. With Kang, it’s almost impossible to know how any of those sorts […]

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Corey Hart #12 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a portrait on photo day on February 26, 2015 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Corey Hart < 500

On its face, the Pirates’ signing of Corey Hart this winter was a pretty uninspiring move for all the obvious reasons: Hart missed all of 2013 with knee problems and was awful with the Mariners in 2014. He probably can’t play the outfield anymore, which limits him to first base, which makes him substantially less […]

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 18:  Chris Stewart #19 of the Pittsburgh Pirates hits a RBI single in the fourth inning against the Boston Red Sox during inter-league play at PNC Park on September 18, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Chris Stewart < 500

If you’ve been paying much attention to the evolution of the sabermetric-leaning public’s understanding of catcher framing for the last couple years, you know that it feels like more of a positive feedback loop than anything: every study that comes out seems to amplify the effect of good framing catchers even further. Last month, Jonathan Judge, […]

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 12: Arquimedes Caminero #49 of the Miami Marlins pitches during a game against the Atlanta Braves at Marlins Park on September 12, 2013 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Arquimedes Caminero < 500

In the early years of the Neal Huntington era, Huntington would fill the roster with pitchers like Tyler Yates and Franquelis Osoria and take shots at pitchers like Kevin Hart and Donnie Veal. Occasionally he’d unearth a diamond in the rough like Evan Meek or hit it big on a trade with a pitcher like […]

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Radhames Liz #58 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a portrait on photo day on February 26, 2015 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Radhames Liz < 500

One of my absolute favorite things about the Neal Huntington front office is that they absolutely do not care what anyone else thinks about what they do. People freaked out last year about the Cole Tucker draft pick and then that the Pirates didn’t save a significant amount of slot money with his bonus, but […]