I've been traveling for the last couple of days, which is why I haven't posted much of anything. Let's get caught up.
The Pirates have logged two narrow victories over the Mets in the last two days, which has them tied again with the Cardinals the day before the All-Star Break. I told you on Friday that everything would be fine if the Pirates swept the Mets.
In order to get that sweep, Gerrit Cole will be taking the mound this afternoon instead of Jeff Locke, because Locke's been dealing with lower back soreness will scratch him both from today's start and the All-Star Game. You can tell this is a game that the Pirates want to win, because of Cole's presence on the mound. The Pirates had previously discussed demoting him for a week and a half or so to stay on a regular schedule over the break; that probably won't happen now. He's on regular rest today because of Thursday's off-day.
After last night's 2-for-4 with a homer performance, Andrew McCutchen's hitting .301/.378/.471. I'll make a prediction right here: if he finishes 2013 with that OPS and the Pirates win the Central, he'll win the MVP award whether or not he ever truly gets "hot" the way he did last summer.
I'll have a longer recap of the first half posted for tomorrow. For now, enjoy the end of the first half. A Pirate win, and they'll go into the break either tied or alone with the best record in the NL. A Pirate loss and, well, it's still been a pretty solid first half. First pitch today is 1:35. Gerrit Cole and Dillon Gee are on the mound.
Looks like I picked a good week to disappear into the Canadian wilderness (actually: the basement of a Mariott in downtown Montreal) for a few days. I’m still in Montreal, but I’m just hanging around waiting for my flight now. Anyways, it looks like the only thing happening on the managerial search front is nothing. Which Rob Biertempfel thinks could mean the Pirates are interested in Tony Pena or someone still coaching in the playoffs.
There’s just not much for a manager to do at this time of year, so it’s not really a huge deal for the Pirates to take their time, but if they do end up waiting for someone like Pena and the Yankees end up in the World Series, they could see more names (like Bo Porter, who the Marlins are supposedly very interested in) take jobs elsewhere. I guess you could infer that that means that the Pirates really like whoever it is that they’re waiting on, but that’s really just open speculation on my part.
I should’ve known two preview posts a day was going to wear me out this week. The schedule has kind of shifted to the NL Central preview going live at noonish and the Pirate preview post going live sometime later in the evening. But before I launch into that today, there are two things I wanted to talk about/share.
First up, there were yesterday’s cuts which mostly included every arm in camp that won’t make the team or go on the disabled list. Vinnie Chulk lost his 25-man roster spot with the Hayden Penn claim, I think, but given the nature of bullpens I’d be willing to bet we see him again. The final roster questions now appear to be whether the team will actually carry 12 pitchers (that would include Penn and Taschner), and in that event whether they keep John Raynor, Steve Pearce, or Ramon Vazquez as the last position player. My gut feeling here is that they want Taschner on the roster and don’t want to give up on Penn, so they’ll keep both of them, and that Raynor will be the final position player for the same reason. They’re also apparently debating whether Eric Kratz or Jason Jaramillo should be the backup catcher with the idea being that Jaramillo could benefit from regular playing time at Triple-A. I guess there’s maybe some logic in that, but let’s not fool ourselves here. Jaramillo’s 27 and he’s a backup catcher. Why not let him be a backup catcher? If Kratz and Taschner both make the club, two players will have to come off the 40-man, but since Ramon Vazquez seems ticketed for release and Jose Ascanio for the 60-day DL, this probably isn’t a concern.
Second, I just wanted to share the link Andrew Johnson’s FanHouse piece about Garrett Jones with some great quotes from Don Long about the work he did with Jones last spring.
Whoa, I don’t know if I’ve ever gone this long between posts in WHYGAVS history. ‘Tis what happens when Christmas comes on Friday and I use Sunday for my last ever trip to Mellon Arena, I suppose. Let’s play catch up on some links before anything else.
As expected, Justin Duchscherer didn’t sign with the Pirates. Oakland and its huge, pitcher friendly ballpark is a logical choice for a pitcher trying to rebound.
Jeff Pearlman apologizes for his SI story about the Pirates, but he still misses the point that Neal Huntington isn’t Dave Littlefield or Cam Bonifay. Most Pirate fans miss that point, too, so it’s hard to blame him.
Charlie has five prospects to watch in 2010. On that list, I really liked the selection/signing of Jeff Inman in last year’s draft. And if you’re curious, I am working on my pitching prospects this week. For real.
On the topic of Matt Capps, both DK and FanGraphs have stories up about him. FanGraphs compares him to the recently signed Fernando Rodney, while DK wonders what kind of blame the front office and management should shoulder for Capps’ decline in 2009. One question not asked by DK is the effect Jim Tracy’s massive overuse of Capps in 2006 and 2007 had; it’s clear Capps struggled with arm problems in both 2008 and 2009.
Also via the PBC Blog, one National League GM tells the Boston Globe that the Pirates are going to “load up” on experienced players desperate for work that can’t get contracts before spring training.