Archive for May, 2011
The Pirates decided not to bring Josh Fields north for the season after his spring training run with the Buccos, and the Pirates decided to send him to Colorado in exchange for a player to be named later or cash. While the Pirates still have not selected a player from the Rockies (or chose the cash option), Fields has been playing in AAA Colorado Springs for the Rockies. Colorado Springs is known as a place where hitters can go wild, and that seems to be the case for Fields this year as well. He is hitting .383 with 7 home runs and 34 RBI in 39 games as of the time of this writing.
Until we know the return in this trade, it will be difficult to apply a grade at this time.
However, one reason the Pirates dealt Fields was so that they could keep Josh Rodriguez, who has since been returned to the Cleveland Indians organization as a Rule 5 selection.
So the jury will be out on this one for a while, although I do not expect a lot of impact either way. Fields may produce in Colorado at some point, so it is likely that this will not go down on the win column for Huntington and the Buccos, although the impact again is likely to be minor.
The first trade we’re going to dig into is probably a very insignificant one. But in the interest of starting with the most recent trades and working our way backwards, this deal leads us off.
Pirates Trade Infielder Jim Negrych to Florida Marlins for Catcher Carlos Paulino
Jim Negrych was a solid hitter and contributor in the minor leagues for the Pirates, putting up a .295 average in Indianapolis in 2010 after splitting time between Indy and Altoona, but showing no real power, and at 25, was not really seen as much of a prospect any longer. In 2011, Negrych did not want to be sent down to AA and become roster filler, so he requested a trade and a change of scenery from the Pirates. The Pirates then dealt him to the Florida Marlins organization, where he was promptly sent to their… wait for it… AA team in Jacksonville. He is hitting about as expected, .305 with no power and at 26 now, not much probability of making his way to the majors anytime soon. I always liked Jim Negrych for some reason, and thought he might be a really good pinch hitter on a big league club. He’s never had a big league at bat, but I do hope that he gets the chance to do so at some point in his career. He’s not star material, but I could see him eventually being a decent singles hitting, role filling, utility guy for somebody.
The Pirates return in that trade, Carlos Paulino, is a 21 year old playing in Bradenton right now for the A league Marauders. hitting .259 through 15 games. Considering he’s a guy that hit under .200 in 2010 for two different teams in the Marlins organization, this could be seen as progress. He has thrown out 3 of 11 runners this season, so without knowing much about him, he seems to be at least decent in that category. Whether or not he turns into a realistic prospect or not won’t be known for quite a while though, so the jury will have to remain out on this trade for quite some time.
I’d tend to think that age-wise, having a 21 year old catcher in the organization is a good thing. But people know what you are likely getting with Negrych. At this point in time, May 26, 2011, I’d have to say that Florida gets the edge in this one. Unless and until Paulino turns into any sort of prospect, I’d have to think that Negrych, while not likely to even get to the bigs, is probably a better player to have in the organization.
Current Outcome: SLIGHT LOSS
Initial Grade-A-Trade Score: C-
I grade this deal a C- at this time, mostly because of its lack of impact to the organization. We didn’t give up much, and didn’t get much in return. Not a terrible trade by any means, but this trade will have to be revisted at the end of the 2011 season, and likely again at the end of the 2012 and maybe 2013 seasons to see if the grade changes in time. It seems this trade was done mostly to give Negrych a change in scenery and a chance with a different organization as the Pirates clearly did not see a future for him in Pittsburgh at any point.
Momentum is a strange thing. A few weeks ago, we wrote an article about how the Pirates we riding high, one game over .500 and giving fans reason to believe that good things were right around the corner. I wrote an article about how many games over .500 they have been in the past 18 years. Everything was about .500 and how the team was humming along nice and smoothly. Then we got to the top of the roller coaster.
The team promptly dropped six games in a row. All hope was lost. This was clearly the same old Buccos, with no hope, well on its way to another 100 loss season, needing a new general manager, needing to get rid of some of the key players. Definitely at the bottom of the roller coaster.
But then they won four in a row, and were back to within a game of .500, ready to take the next step of maturing into a good and improving team. Charlie Morton was looking not only like an All Star, but a Cy Young worthy pitcher. Neil Walker bobblehead day was a sellout crowd, and all was good in Buccoland. Things were clicking again with only the Sunday finale of the Tigers’ series left to play. Back to the top of that coaster.
Until we were blanked 2-0 by the Tigers. And then blanked 2-0 by the Braves. And then lost in extras to the Braves again, managing no runs driven in by any player other than Steve Pearce for three full games, and only two total. The offense stinks. We can’t support Paul Maholm or Charlie Morton, and let a good performance by James McDonald go to waste. Time to get rid of Matt Diaz and Lyle Overbay and… oh wait, we’re just at the bottom of the roller coaster again.
Having a young baseball team is like being on a roller coaster. And roller coasters are fun. So you might as well strap yourself in and enjoy the ride. This is a young baseball team. We are going to have 4 game winning streaks and 6 game losing streaks. We’re going to have thrilling 9th inning come from behind wins and games where we can’t get a hit to save our lives. And it’s going to make everyone on the team better because of it.
There are some really good positives about this team. And a year ago at this time, when Neil Walker had just played in his first big league game, and some other key pieces were still in Indy, you could not say that same thing about this team. Joel Hanrahan has been lights out. Charlie Morton dominant. Paul Maholm has been the best 1-7 pitcher in baseball this year, and really one of the better pitchers in baseball regardless of records. Kevin Correia and James McDonald and Jeff Karstens have been good. Brad Lincoln is looking really good in Indy, and we can’t find a place for him in Pittsburgh. That thrills me. When’s the last time we had a good player in the minors and no room for them on the big league roster? Heck, I can’t wait until we have that issue at other positions (like shortstop or 1B).
Sure, lots of guys need to find their rhythm still. And there is no guarantee that they will. But this team will be fun to watch this year. And next year, they might be really fun to watch. And the next year, even more fun to watch. I don’t remember the last time that has been the case.
So while there are plenty of ups and downs this year, and you don’t really know what you are going to get night in and night out… I think that is better than the past when you did know what you were going to get, and it wasn’t a good thing.
Enjoy the roller coaster.
Some great defense, timely hitting, and a missed call aided the Pirates to a win tonight, moving them over .500 this late in a season for the first time since May 29, 2004, nearly 7 years ago and the day after Rob Mackowiak has a monster day by hitting two big home runs in a double header sweep of the Cubs on the day his son (and my daughter) was born.
I couldn’t believe that the Pirates had only one day in my daughter’s almost seven year old life now in which they had a winning record on May 9 or later. As bad as they have been, I still can’t even grasp that. So I did some digging on baseball-reference.com to see what other milestones were out there and what might be next for this group of Buccos to accomplish.
The Pirates have a chance on Tuesday to move to 2 games over .500 this late in a season for the first time since May 11, 2002. But they won’t be able to enjoy that one for long, as in a couple of days, we won’t be able to use that instance for our ”this late in a season” barometer. By the time this series is over, the last time the Pirates have been 2 games over .500 “that” late in a season goes back even further, to July 2, 1999 when that Pirate team was 40-38 on their way to a 78-83 record. Almost 12 years to be 2 games over .500.
So, in other words, the Pirates have not been 2 games over .500 on May 12 or later in the history of PNC Park. And in a very related note, there were 11,000 (and change) people at the park tonight to see history be made.
Most of the other .500 related milestones were set that year as well.
Last time 3 games over .500 this late in the season: July 1, 1999
Last time 4 games over .500 this late in the season: June 18, 1999
Last time 5 games over .500 this late in the season: June 4, 1999
Last time the Pirates were 6 games over .500 this late in the season? October 4, 1992 when they ended the regular season 96-66 and were getting ready for the playoffs.
So what about at any point in the season? What is the high water mark for this franchise since Barry Bonds was our starting left fielder? 7 games over .500, when they were 12-5 on April 21, 2002. The day before and the day after were the only days at 6 games over .500 during the same time period. So yes, there has been one day since the end of the 1992 season when the Pirates were 7 games over .500 or better. That’s 4 games worse than the Cleveland Indians are today (11 over).
Something just feels very special about this team. If this pitching staff stays healthy, I think there is a chance we could see all of these numbers erased this year. Heck, a few of them could be gone by the time the Dodgers leave town and the team heads to face an arch nemesis at Miller Park (where I will be in attendance to watch the series in Milwaukee).
Just wait till this team starts hitting. Someone other than Garrett Jones and Neil Walker anyway. If Ohlendorf and Meek get healthy, and the pitching stays consistent, we could have a reason to watch baseball in Pittsburgh this summer.
In case you didn’t notice from all the hoopla about .500 and over .500 – there is another even more important number to worry about – 2.
As in, the Pirates are currently 2 games out of first place. When’s the last time that we’ve been in first place this late in the season? I hope I get a chance to research that one as well.