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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Pirates DFA Ike Davis, clear path for Pedro Alvarez - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Ike Davis did not develop into the player the Mets hoped he’d become. Still, he would be a useful platoon partner for a team like the Marlins.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 22, 2014 at 09:27 AM | 21 comment(s)
  Beats: ike davis, pedro alvarez, pirates

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Pirates Sign A.J. Burnett

A.J. was really terrible last year. He apparently loves Pittsburgh, and probably shouldn’t have left in the first place, especially since he seems to prioritize other things above money: constantly threatening to retire, and indeed taking less money to make this move. It’ll be interesting to see how he does in his preferred destination.

The Pirates announced that they have signed right-hander A.J. Burnett to a one-year deal. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Frontline Athlete Management client will receive an $8.5MM guarantee (Twitter link)...

Burnett turned down a guaranteed $12.75MM from the Phils to take $4.25MM less and return to Pittsburgh… After posting a combined 3.41 ERA with 8.9 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 393 1/3 innings as a Pirate, Burnett struggled in Philadelphia, posting a 4.59 ERA in 213 2/3 innings. Burnett’s walk rate spiked while his ground-ball and strikeout rates dipped, resulting in the inflated ERA and an NL-worst 18 losses (though the Phillies’ poor team performance obviously impacted that last number). Burnett pitched the entire season with a hernia that required offseason surgery — another likely factor in his 2014 struggles.

The District Attorney Posted: November 15, 2014 at 03:43 PM | 20 comment(s)
  Beats: a.j. burnett, free agents, pirates, transactions

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Pirates Acquire Francisco Cervelli For Justin Wilson

Finally a regular gig for Frankie Brains?

Another Yankees catcher is on his way to Pittsburgh, as Francisco Cervelli has been acquired by the Pirates in exchange for lefty reliever Justin Wilson, the teams announced tonight…

The Pirates are getting a catcher who has performed well in limited recent action. Unfortunate injuries — a foul tip and collision followed by a hamstring strain — cut Cervelli short in each of the last three years, holding him to just 225 plate appearances. But he does own a .291/.373/.447 slash in that stretch, and could be a solid piece if he can stay on the field. Because of his limited ability to rack up statistics, Cervelli is projected by MLBTR/Matt Swartz to earn only $1.1MM next year.

Wilson, meanwhile, is just 27 and is still a year shy of arbitration eligibility. He took a step back last year in terms of ERA, though metrics like FIP felt he was just as good in 2014 as he was in 2013; both place him in the mid-3 earned run range. On the whole, over the last two years Wilson owns a 3.03 ERA with 8.1 K/9 against 3.9 BB/9 over 138 1/3 frames.


Sunday, November 09, 2014

McCutchen talks about his legacy, the Pirates’ major needs | TribLIVE

Here’s a Q&A with Andrew McCutchen.

Jim Furtado Posted: November 09, 2014 at 03:18 PM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: andrew mccutchen, pirates

Friday, October 31, 2014

Talking Ball with Jeffrey Radice – The Hardball Times

Few people ever have been more complicated—or controversial—than the late Dock Ellis. One moment, he could have been complaining publicly about something as trivial as the length of his hotel bed in San Francisco; the next, he might be visiting hardened criminals in the state penitentiary, doing his best to advise them on a straighter and narrower path.
It’s only natural that someone like Ellis would become the subject of a full-length documentary. Directed by Jeffrey Radice, No No: A Dockumentary explores the life and times of Dock Ellis in rich detail. Extremely well-edited and bolstered by a phenomenal 1970s soundtrack, the film features previously unseen home video interspersed with numerous contemporary interviews.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 31, 2014 at 01:21 PM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: dock ellis, documentaries, pirates

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Pirates must weigh risk, reward in attempt to sign Martin | TribLIVE

Some team will get very stupid this off-season with Russell Martin.

“We’re in an interesting era for age curves because of the skew of performance-enhancing drugs,” Huntington said. “We are trying to re-evaluate aging curves because they were taken way out of whack because of the influence of performance-enhancing drugs.”

Jim Furtado Posted: October 26, 2014 at 08:58 AM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: catcher aging, pirates, russell martin, sabermetrics

Friday, October 24, 2014

Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Tyler Glasnow captures Starting Pitcher MiLBY Award | MiLB.com

It takes more than talent to get to the big leagues. Warning: TINSTAAPP.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 24, 2014 at 10:58 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: pirates, prospects, tyler glasnow

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Kovacevic: For Pirates, the sickening sound of silence DK on Pittsburgh Sports

I read a couple of tweets about how unfair the Wild Card system is to the fans. The complaint was, it’s a coin flip. No kidding. It’s not a bug. It’s a feature. If you don’t want your season ended on a playoff “coin flip”, win your division.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 02, 2014 at 06:39 AM | 55 comment(s)
  Beats: giants, pirates, wild card

Monday, September 22, 2014

Gene Collier: No shame in staying home for Pirates

The very best baseball summer in the history of PNC Park ended pretty much the way it began here Sunday, with a tense 1-0 victory against a divisional opponent, the first on an extra-inning home run by Neil Walker way back on March 31, the last when Andrew McCutchen caught Aramis Ramirez’s lazy fly to push the Milwaukee Brewers to the absolute edge of further relevance.

In between, the 2014 Pittsburgh Pirates packed 49 additional home victories of every conceivable dimension: wins in 16 innings, wins with 15 runs, with eight runs in an inning, with seven doubles, with eight extra-base hits, with come-from-behind wins all over the place and lights-out pitching to spare.

It would be very much in the club’s interest at this point, I’d imagine, to force the San Francisco Giants to come here for a wild-card showdown Oct. 1, to face the entire Black Army of the Allegheny, the one that brought down the Cincinnati Reds exactly one year ago on that date.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

New approach on offense has Pirates in playoff contention this season

Can the Pirates get over the final Hurdle?

In this spartan space, first-year hitting coach Jeff Branson summoned the Pirates’ batters early this spring for a meeting…

Branson outlined parameters he and manager Clint Hurdle wanted universally accepted. They wanted more competitive at-bats, better two-strike approaches and competence against off-speed pitches.

The Pirates won 94 games last season because their defense turned an extra 2 percent of batted balls into outs. But despite the Pirates’ pitching and defense regressing this season, the Pirates are in contention because their offense has improved at avoiding outs by an additional 2 percent.

The Pirates ranked 18th in baseball in on-base percentage last season (.313). This season, they are tied for first with the Detroit Tigers with a .331 mark. By getting more runners on base the Pirates are scoring more runs. They ranked 20th in runs scored in the majors last season (3.9) and now rank ninth overall and third in the NL (4.3).

Just as the Pirates improved their run-prevention abilities with few acquisitions in 2013, they have improved their offensive efficiency with nearly an identical cast.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 16, 2014 at 05:25 PM | 26 comment(s)
  Beats: clint hurdle, hitting philosophies, jeff branson, pirates

Monday, September 08, 2014

Video: Gerrit Cole hit a no-doubt home run, the first of his career

Among pitchers with at least 30 plate appearances this season, Cole has the third-highest OPS at .569. He trails Travis Wood (.739) and Madison Bumgarner (.726).

Got right into the home run trot.  Well done.

Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: September 08, 2014 at 04:11 AM | 18 comment(s)
  Beats: gerrit cole, pirates, pitchers hitting

Friday, September 05, 2014

No No: A Dockumentary - Rotten Tomatoes

No No: A Dockumentary, a portrait of Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis and the no-hitter he threw while on acid, is at 100 percent.

Movie Info

On June 12, 1970, Dock Ellis threw a no-hitter for the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 137 years of organized professional baseball, it’s the only no-hitter tossed while the pitcher was on LSD. Dock was often embroiled in controversy on and off the field. While professional baseball hadn’t fully embraced racial equality, he was an outspoken leader who lived the expression ‘Black is Beautiful!’ His fearlessness enabled him to become one of the most intimidating pitchers of the 70’s and a trailblazer for a new wave of civil rights. (C) The Orchard

Unrated, 1 hr. 40 min.
Documentary, Special Interest
Directed By: Jeffrey Radice
In Theaters: Sep 5, 2014 Limited
The Orchard - Official Site

The District Attorney Posted: September 05, 2014 at 11:04 AM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, dock ellis, mets, movies, no no a dockumentary, pirates, rangers, yankees

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Barry Bonds joins Twitter

Barry L Bonds
@BarryBonds

Just setting up my Twitter. #myfirstTweet

The District Attorney Posted: September 04, 2014 at 10:51 PM | 23 comment(s)
  Beats: barry bonds, giants, pirates, social media

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Gleeman: John Holdzkom goes from anonymous podcast caller to the big leagues

Tremendous!

Two years ago (October 16, 2012 to be exact) I was listening to Chelsea Peretti’s podcast when an anonymous 24-year-old caller named “John” told her the story of how his once-promising baseball career went downhill and he blew through his $210,000 signing bonus after being drafted by the Mets out of high school… I did a little internet detective work and discovered the caller was 24-year-old right-hander John Holdzkom, a former Mets fourth-round draft pick who at the time was pitching for them at Single-A. They later released him and Holdzkom had to play independent ball just to keep his dream alive.

He pitched for two different independent league teams this year alone, but then the Pirates signed him and sent Holdzkom to Double-A. He thrived there, kept pitching well following a promotion to Triple-A, and then got the call up to the big leagues as part of September roster expansion.

Last night Holdzkom, now 26 years old, made his MLB debut. And it was a helluva debut, too: He struck out all three batters he faced in a scoreless eighth inning against the Cardinals…

I just hope Holdzkom calls back in to Chelsea Peretti’s podcast to update his story.


Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Passan: 10 Degrees: Cole Hamels’ trade value might be Phillies’ lone bright spot

I assume a ‘shop of Amaro looking like Derpy Hooves already exists, what with this being the Internet.

BTW, Harrison also leads the NL in Chadwick Ratio.

The latest reminder that the Philadelphia Phillies are an actual major league ballclub, as opposed to a Ruben Amaro Jr. fever dream in which he endeavors to lavish old, older and oldest ballplayers with contracts bad, worse and what were you thinking, came Monday afternoon. Four Phillies pitchers combined to no-hit the Atlanta Braves. It was a cool moment.

Particularly because it reminded the world that not only does Cole Hamels still exist amid the mountain of derp that is these Phillies, he is turning in one of his finest seasons at the perfect time for Philadelphia to cash in… Amaro told Philadelphia reporters Monday that he planned on overhauling his roster this offseason, which is all well and good in a fantasy land where opposing teams agree to pay full freight for the overpaid boondoggles with which he has saddled the Phillies….  if the Phillies want to start over – and they need to start over – they’ve got to trade Cole Hamels.

Anybody who performs so improbably well that he finds himself on an MVP ballot a year after logging fewer than 100 plate appearances deserves every bit of praise imaginable.

[Josh] Harrison’s selection into the All-Star Game this year got waylaid in this space as an overreaction to a small sample of productivity. All Harrison has done since the break is lead baseball with a .599 slugging percentage. Yes, 5-foot-8 Josh Harrison is outslugging Abreu, Big Papi, Giancarlo Stanton and every other leviathan who can punish a ball 500 feet.

In the six weeks since the break, Harrison has hit eight home runs in 167 at-bats. Over his first three seasons in the major leagues, he hit seven in 532 at-bats.

Matt Shoemaker… turns 28 at the end of September, and his major league career before this season consisted of one start at the end of last season.

He had journeyman written all over him, what with back-to-back seasons of palindromic 5.65 and 4.64 ERAs at Triple-A… Since joining the rotation June 17, Shoemaker is 11-3 with a 2.70 ERA, 80 strikeouts and 13 walks. Opponents are hitting .229 against him and getting on base 26.5 percent of the time. His current scoreless-inning streak is at 23, and he should be a lock for AL pitcher of the month in August, during which he went 6-1 with a 1.31 ERA and allowed just two home runs in 41 1/3 innings.

The District Attorney Posted: September 02, 2014 at 03:01 PM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: angels, cole hamels, josh harrison, matt shoemaker, phillies, pirates

Monday, September 01, 2014

Nitkowski: Wanted: Major League manager…sort of.

Right after Bo Porter was hired [as Astros manager] I was told he was the only candidate who answered “yes”€™ to the question, “€œare you OK with influence from the front office in every day decisions like setting the lineup?”€ There was a reason he was the only one who said yes, no one wants to manage a major league team where they are told what to do by someone who has never played the game or even done the job.

There is balance here. Influences from front offices are part of the new equation in baseball and the game is smarter because of it. Clint Hurdle told me the Pirates utilize a sort of hybrid theory and it is working well in Pittsburgh. He is open to advanced metrics, he listens, he gets it and he and the front office work well together to implement the new school of thought.

There is one essential caveat though, he makes the final in game decisions, including lineups and he is never second guessed on those decisions…

The Astros need two managers. One right now who is not competitive and will do whatever the front office tells him while they’€™re still losing. Then they’€™ll need one when they get good who is ultra competitive and has the track record to tell the front office to back off. Of course that guy will go through the interview process and immediately withdraw his name.

Something has to change or this will be the beginning of a cycle that never ends in Houston.

The District Attorney Posted: September 01, 2014 at 03:10 PM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, bo porter, clint hurdle, managers, pirates

Monday, August 25, 2014

Pirates send Gregory Polanco back down to Triple-A

Nice to see Snider finally contributing, anyway.

The Pirates have sent top outfield prospect Gregory Polanco down to Triple-A Indianapolis… Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports first reported…

Polanco, 22, hit .241/.308/.349 (86 OPS+) with nine doubles, six home runs and 12 stolen bases in 64 games after being called up in June. He is currently mired in a 1-for-30 (.033) slump, hence the demotion.

The emergence of Travis Snider—the ex-Blue Jays outfielder is hitting .268/.336/.435 (116 OPS+) overall and .319/.366/.585 (170 OPS+) in the second half—robbed Polanco of at-bats and made sending him down nice and easy.

The District Attorney Posted: August 25, 2014 at 06:19 PM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: gregory polanco, minor leagues, pirates, travis snider

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Pirates activate Andrew McCutchen from the disabled list

Huh, I thought the prognosis was a lot worse. Pirates seem to need him in the lineup a tiny little bit.

Andrew McCutchen is off the disabled list and back in the Pirates’ lineup after missing the minimum 15 days with a fractured rib…

McCutchen was having another MVP-caliber season at the time of the injury, ranking among the NL’s top five in batting average (.311), on-base percentage (.411), slugging percentage (.536), and OPS (.947). Even after missing two weeks he still ranks second to only Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton in Wins Above Replacement among position players.

The District Attorney Posted: August 19, 2014 at 03:40 PM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: andrew mccutchen, injuries, pirates

Monday, August 18, 2014

Steve Sax: “Nothing Wrong With Pedro Alvarez”

Sax - Alvarez: Soul to Soul.

“There’s nothing wrong with Pedro Alvarez. There’s nothing wrong his arm, there’s nothing wrong with his mind. He does not have a mental block,” Sax said. “What it is, it’s a confidence issue. Once he gets over that and gains his confidence back, he’ll be 100 percent outstanding like he was before.”

Pompeani asked Sax how he was able to fix things.

“I made every ground ball in practice like it was a game. So what I did was essentially I switched the roles. Practice was now a game time and game time was almost a trivial thing. Because I had already just done it in practice. And so, I started gaining confidence that way in practice, and it spilled over into the games. And it was over. The thing got over pretty quickly after that,” Sax said. Sax also gave credit to his manager, Tommy Lasorda, for keeping him in the lineup.

Sax said that he would keep Alvarez in the lineup. Pompeani asked if the Pirates can afford to do that and risk more errors while being in a playoff race.

“And that’s the question you have to ask, because can you afford not to have his bat in the game? Maybe one or two home runs that he hits down the stretch makes the difference as well,” he said. “So that’s the kind of question that they’re going to have to ask themselves.”

Repoz Posted: August 18, 2014 at 08:41 AM | 17 comment(s)
  Beats: history, pirates

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Pirates Acquire John Axford

One day, the Ax just fell…

The Pirates have acquired righty John Axford from the Indians, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Axford, 31, joined Cleveland on a one-year, $4.5MM free agent contract after being non-tendered by the Cardinals…

On the year, Axford has posted a 3.92 ERA with 10.5 K/9 but a troubling 6.5 BB/9 over 43 2/3 innings… Axford opened the season as the Cleveland closer, and picking up ten saves in the process, but lost the job with inconsistent performance…

Pittsburgh got Axford on a straight waiver claim and will be on the hook for the approximately $1.1MM that he is still owed this year, tweets ESPN.com’s Buster Olney.

The District Attorney Posted: August 14, 2014 at 04:47 PM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: indians, john axford, pirates, transactions

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

How a small-time handicapper concocted a wild MLB game-fixing tale

Gives new meaning to the phrase, “this game is a Locke.”

In the waning days of the 2012 major league season, Niki Congero received an unusual text message. It came from a man she had never met — a sports handicapper who for a couple of weeks had been texting unsolicited betting tips to her cellphone.

“LOL,” wrote the man, who identified himself as James Hunter from VIP Sports. “I got a baseball game that will be fixed on sunday.”...

At first the tips were nothing special, Congero told The Center for Investigative Reporting. Then the handicapper guaranteed her a winner in the Sept. 16 game between the Pirates and the Cubs at Wrigley Field. “My best friend is pitching today for the ­pirates,” Hunter texted. “His name is jeff locke. he will not have a good day.” In a later text he wrote, “Tell your biggest people that pirates game today is fixed. My friend will be throwing this game.”

Pittsburgh jumped out to an early lead behind Locke, a late-season call-up. While the Bucs were ahead, Congero says, the handicapper phoned her, acknowledging that the game wasn’t going the way he had predicted. He implied that he was in touch with the lefthander even as the game was under way….

Sure enough, in the bottom of the fifth inning, Locke fell apart….

MLB’s own investigators and organized-crime detectives from the New York City Police Department were deployed to learn the handicapper’s identity and unravel the plot.

Before it was over, their investigation would lead to a tense standoff by the side of an Arizona desert road, where more than a dozen armed officers confronted two frightened young women with a baby in an effort to track down James Hunter. The outcome would hinge on separating fact from fantasy in the interpersonal dynamics between two former youth-baseball teammates from a small New England town — one of whom grew up to become a major league pitcher, the other a sports gambler.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 13, 2014 at 12:08 PM | 20 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, fixed games, gambling, jeff locke, pirates

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Pirates Designate Ernesto Frieri For Assignment

Ernesto riles Pittsburgh fans…

The Pirates have designated reliever Ernesto Frieri for assignment, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports on Twitter. Frieri, 29, came to Pittsburgh in a swap of struggling closers at the end of June.

While his trade counterpart, Jason Grilli, has thrived in his new environs, Frieri has continued to struggle since the swap…

Frieri is earning $3.8MM in his first year of arbitration eligibility. This likely means two things: First, he seems fairly likely to get through waivers, and the Pirates could well welcome a claim anyway. And if he is instead stashed at Triple-A for the time being, Frieri will likely end up as a non-tender after the season.

The District Attorney Posted: August 09, 2014 at 05:24 PM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: ernesto frieri, pirates, transactions

Friday, August 08, 2014

Jennings takes liner off head in Marlins loss to Pirates

In one seventh-inning instant, the game became secondary.

The Marlins and Pirates played through a horrific episode that saw lefty reliever Dan Jennings take a Jordy Mercer liner off the left side of his head. The ball went straight up and into the glove of shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria.

A shocked and disoriented Jennings went down and got up immediately. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia arrived and helped him down to a knee. PNC Park went silent. Jennings’ teammates gathered and Mercer in a catcher’s crouch looked on from the infield grass between first base and the mound.

It sounds like he’s going to be OK, but man, that was scary.


Monday, August 04, 2014

Report: Pirates’ McCutchen expected to go on DL, may miss a month

An oblique for a hand leaves everyone oblique and handless.

The Pirates are expected to place reigning NL MVP Andrew McCutchen on the 15-day disabled list with a severe oblique strain, reports Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He could miss three weeks to a month according to Cook’s source…

The Diamondbacks hit McCutchen with a pitch in his back and near his oblique on Saturday as retaliation for the Pirates accidentally hitting Paul Goldschmidt on Friday. Goldschmidt suffered a broken hand and is done for the year.

McCutchen had x-rays after being hit by the pitch and he told reporters everything came back clean. The oblique injury could be the result of the swing—players pull obliques on swings all the time—or it could be the result of the beaning. There’s no real way to know.

The District Attorney Posted: August 04, 2014 at 09:28 PM | 75 comment(s)
  Beats: andrew mccutchen, injuries, pirates

Friday, August 01, 2014

» Column: Nothing at all? Seriously? DK on Pittsburgh Sports

Someone is not happy with the Pirates standing pat at the trade deadline.

Jim Furtado Posted: August 01, 2014 at 08:13 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: pirates, trade deadline

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