Screw Dr. Orloff Ohlendorf…the Pirates now have real monster humans!
For further perspective, in 2003, the year Eric Gagne pretty much set the gold standard for a closer’s single-season performance, he had 55 saves and a 0.69 WHIP, the latter not far from either Grilli or Melancon right now.
Before this season, Grilli never posted a WHIP below 1.14. He got that with the Pirates last season at age 35. Before joining the Pirates in 2011, his career WHIP was 1.45, roughly double what it is now. Before joining the Pirates, his best strikeout-to-walk ratio in any season was 1.92. Last year, it was 4.09, and now it’s 7.00.
Melancon is 28, and he’s had only one year where he’s appeared in more than a quarter of his team’s games. That was in 2011 with the Astros, when he had a 1.22 WHIP, miles above his current figure. His strikeout-to-walk ratio was never higher in any season than 2.92. Right now, it’s 20.00.
I don’t even know what to do with these numbers. My brain can’t process them.
As of the end of April 17: .089/.180/.089 in 50 plate appearances. He’s without an extra-base hit, obviously. He has four hits in 45 at-bats. He’s struck out in over a third of his plate appearances. If Alvarez is the most perplexing hitter in baseball, this wasn’t a perplexing start. It was simply awful. I went through the game logs, and just started tallying the plate appearances up. So instead of a narrative, you’re going to get a list of factoids.
• In 31 of the 50 plate appearances, Alvarez didn’t see a pitch while ahead in the count.
• He’s hit the ball out of the infield six times—four singles, a fly out to shallow left, and a fly out to center
• In 33 of 50 plate appearances, he was at two strikes by the third pitch
• He’s had a two-strike count against him in 38 of 50 plate appearances.
• He’s put the ball in play three times while ahead in the count—a single, grounder to first, and pop out (all on 2-0 counts)
• One of his singles was against Carlos Marmol, which doesn’t officially count
• The farthest Alvarez has hit a ball this season is about 325 feet
• The second farthest Alvarez has hit a ball this season is about 240 feet
A judge has rejected a plea agreement from the former head of a sports memorabilia auction house who admitted to using shill bidders to drive up prices and to altering the most valuable baseball card ever sold.
William Mastro of Mastro Auctions admitted to doctoring the 1909 Honus Wagner cigarette card that was once owned by hockey great Wayne Gretzky. The card sold for $2.8 million in 2007.
Although Inge knew that the surgery and his age might scare off some teams, he said he never considered retiring.
“I think I’ll play until someone just physically kicks me out of the game,” Inge said. “I’ll play as long as I can. If I’m enjoying something I do—and that goes for anyone in any aspect of life—you should probably do it as long as you can.”
...Inge has accepted the fact that he won’t be offered a job as a starter, but still believes that he can help a team.
“In the role that most teams are looking for, yeah, I can play for a lot of teams at this point,” Inge said. “I love baseball. I play because I love this game. I love what it’s about.
“I want my kids to experience how baseball is and just the true form of baseball. For me, it’s just about playing.”
...“Right now, Pittsburgh’s been very good to me,” Inge said. “I’m very, very thrilled with the opportunity that they’ve given me this spring.
“Obviously, just being a baseball player, I want to play, and if any team thinks that I can help their ball club, I would obviously go that route.
“There is a point where if I’m not going to perform as good as the next guy, of course, I would hang it up and say that’s my time. But as for right now, I’m still not quite yet ready.”
The East York, Ont. native has turned into a whipping boy for Canadian fans and experienced a first-hand account of the backlash Wednesday, getting booed in all three of his plate appearances from a strong Blue Jays contingent at his home park, McKechnie Field.
“They are booing me because they care. I’m sure if they saw me at dinner or something, they would want to come and shake my hand,” said Martin, who signed a two-year, US$17-million deal with the Pirates in the off-season.
“It’s just part of the game. It’s the same line every time — something about shortstop coming from the stands. I think it’s funny.
“Everybody is going to feel foolish for booing me, that’s what’s going to happen. That’s my prediction,” Martin said with a chuckle.
Canadian fans were not the only ones Martin caught flak from regarding his decision to skip the event. Fellow countrymen Justin Morneau and Brett Lawrie also voiced their displeasure. Lawrie took issue with Martin withdrawing from the event less than two weeks before it started because he could not play shortstop, calling Martin’s decision for skipping “weak.”
Martin, however, is not interested in getting into a war of words with the Blue Jays third baseman.
“He’s just a young kid voicing his opinion,” Martin said. “I’m just going to keep it at that. I respect his opinion, it doesn¹t bother me. Same thing with Justin. I did not feel ready to go out there and compete. It¹s not that I don’t want to represent Canada. People are crazy if they think that because that’s just not who I am.”
Yes, and I expect to play bermudavarius for Guadalupe Plata in some rancid tent at SXSW.
“It’s hilarious, the reactions I get,” Martin told Morosi at the Pirates’ spring training complex on Monday. “It’s like, ‘this guy’s a catcher. He wants to play shortstop.’”
The three-time All-Star has logged 925 games in his seven-year major league career, but none have come as a shortstop. Martin does have experience playing the infield, though. He spent a season in the minors as an everyday third baseman and played 11 games at third base for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008.
Canada, who has players such as Justin Morneau and Brett Lawrie on its roster, does not have a shortstop with major league experience. Martin said it was his choice to volunteer to play the position.
“I like to prove people wrong,” Martin said. “I’m going to do what I feel like doing. I feel like playing shortstop.”
Martin has already received a shortstop’s glove and has been taking ground balls at his new position.
The Pirates announced that they signed left-hander Jonathan Sanchez to a minor league contract…
Sanchez spent the 2012 season with the Rockies and Royals, struggling with both teams. He posted a 8.07 ERA with more walks (53) than strikeouts (45) and a 39.7% ground ball rate in 64 2/3 total innings pitched. He also spent time on the disabled list with biceps tendinitis this past season.
However, the 30-year-old is not so far removed from the 2010 season that saw him post a 3.07 ERA with 205 strikeouts in 193 1/3 innings for the Giants.
Well…Deacon Phillippe had already gone to that glorious rural retreat in the sky.
Joanne Murphy knew something was unusual when she opened up an old Bible last week. The holy book turned up among the tens of thousands of materials donated to the Friends of the Sacramento Public Library each year.
Inside the Bible, 31 different signatures were emblazoned on the first page along with “Pirates 1953” written across the top in blue ink.
Murphy, an antiquarian book repairer, didn’t know what all this meant until she did some research online.
“The Bible had been sitting in my shop for months waiting to get repaired,” said Murphy, 65. “No one wanted it.”
As it turns out, she had a piece of baseball history. The Catholic Bible was signed by 30 players and manager Fred Haney of the 1953 Pittsburgh Pirates and given to their general manager Branch Rickey, best known for breaking Major League Baseball’s color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson.
But the question remains: how did Rickey’s Bible end up in a donation bin for a Sacramento library group?
The mystery of Francisco Liriano’s broken right arm received some unsubstantiated clarification recently with a newspaper in his native Dominican Republic reporting he suffered it in a bathroom fall.
According to elcaribe.com, the newspaper’s website, Liriano fell days after the Dec. 21 agreement on his original two-year, $12.75 million contract with the Pirates, fracturing the humerus bone in the upper arm.
Citing a “source close to the player,” the report said Liriano’s right arm is in a cast. The report included no other details as to where or how exactly the left-handed pitcher had fallen.
The accident forced the sides to revisit terms of the original contract and reopen negotiations, which were finalized on Monday, according to FOXSports.com. The club had no comment, as Liriano still must pass a physical to formalize the agreement.
The Wildcats celebrated their coming out party [the Great Alaska Shooutout championship] with a good old-fashioned snowball fight, and Lofton played a starring role in that battle, too. “Basically, it was Kenny versus the rest of us because he had such a ridiculous arm. He was throwing snowballs like 100 miles per hour, just knocking guys off their feet,” Mason Jr. remembers. “Afterwards, we said to him, ‘Man, you should play baseball.’”
So why’d Sammy wear #27? Wait a minute… what’s halfway between 19 and 27…
It was called the Masjid of Tucson, a mosque where Muslims could worship and study the Koran in the Arizona desert under the idiosyncratic tutelage of Rashad Khalifa, its founder. On Jan. 31, 1990, the mosque, at the intersection of Sixth and North Euclid, near the University of Arizona campus, became the scene of a murder investigation.
Khalifa was found near the kitchen that morning, stabbed to death. It appeared to investigators that whoever had killed him had also tried to set fire to the body in an effort to destroy evidence.
A Ph.D.-educated Egyptian-American, Khalifa had founded his masjid as part of a midlife revelation that he was a messenger of God. In practice and study, Khalifa’s teachings about the Koran were infused with science, modernity and, more than anything, numerology. The number 19, he taught, was “the miracle’s common denominator,” a code that unlocked the Koran, like a secure password.
Much of Islam teaches that the Prophet Muhammad was the last messenger of God, but Khalifa added himself to the list, getting his message out through books, videos and a newsletter called Muslim Perspective.
His scholarship was curious to some and blasphemy to others. He began to receive threats against his life. Once he had been killed, conspiracy theories quickly circulated about who might have been responsible. Tucson investigators eventually came to focus on a local person of interest whose trail they soon lost.
It was not until 2006, when grant money from the Justice Department helped jump-start the city’s backlog of cold-case homicide investigations, that new DNA tests of bloodstains from the crime scene led to the arrest of a man named Glen Francis, who was then living in Canada.
As opening arguments in Francis’s murder trial began on Dec. 11 in Pima County Superior Court here, Sam Khalifa, the son of the victim, sat in the mostly empty gallery. He is 49 now and drives a cab here. But at one time, he was the starting shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates…
The Pirates drafted him in the first round in 1982 out of Tucson’s Sahuaro High School. By 1985, with Pittsburgh going through a series of shortstops, Khalifa replaced the injured Johnnie LeMaster in the starting lineup.
In the end, Khalifa played parts of three seasons in Pittsburgh, but by the 1989 season, he found himself being moved around the infield at the Pirates’ Class AAA affiliate in Buffalo, plagued by the sense that the organization had given up hope that he would ever be its everyday shortstop.
One night during a trip, Khalifa missed a team bus and simply flew home. Five months later, his father was killed, upending his life further and dashing whatever thoughts he had of spring training with another team…
Over the next two decades, as the murder investigation went cold, Khalifa got a college degree, drove a cab, tried some sales jobs, tried to get over his anger. Then he went back to driving a cab.
The Boston Red Sox on Wednesday acquired All-Star closer Joel Hanrahan and a prospect from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for reliever Mark Melancon and a trio of minor leaguers.
Also headed to Pittsburgh in the deal are pitcher Stolmy Pimentel, infielder Ivan De Jesus and first baseman/outfielder Jerry Sands. Along with Hanrahan, the Red Sox also received infielder Brock Holt.
This is the kind of track record that gets a pitcher described as an outlier. For whatever reason, Liriano has been consistently terrible at stranding runners, and while it’s easy to write that off as a fluke over a year or even two, it gets a bit tougher to believe that this is all just random variance in sequencing when he’s at 840 innings pitched and has a career LOB% under 70%.
But yet, here are the Pirates, paying Liriano for a performance that requires his FIP to be the more predictive aspect, not his his strand rate and ERA. This deal follows on the heels of the Angels giving Joe Blanton essentially the same contract for the same kind of paradox. And it follows Zack Greinke getting paid like an ace, even though you have to disbelieve in the predictive power of ERA to believe that Zack Greinke is an ace. And it follows Anibal Sanchez signing an $80 million contract coming off a couple of seasons where his ERA- (96) had him as a decent starter but his FIP (87) had him as one of the better starters in baseball. Toss in Scott Feldman getting $6 million from the Cubs, and this has been a pretty profitable winter for starting pitchers who posted much better FIPs than ERAs over the last few years.
Ben Cherington trades major-league ready, pre-arbitration talent for a relief pitcher. Because one of these times, it’s got to work out.
According to a major league source, as first reported by Jim Bowden of ESPN (via twitter), the Red Sox and Pirates have reached an agreement on a deal that would bring All-Star closer Joel Hanrahan to Boston. The deal, however, is not yet final. The source confirmed Bowden’s report that the Sox will send outfielder/first baseman Jerry Sands and right-hander Stolmy Pimentel to Pittsburgh, while adding that there are more players involved in the deal than just those three.
Pittsburgh made a pair of minor trades, acquiring right-hander Zach Stewart from the Red Sox for a player to be named later and getting right-hander Vin Mazzaro and first baseman Clint Robinson from the Royals for minor leaguer pitchers Luis Santos and Luis Rico.
Seems like a decent set of lottery tickets, at a relatively low cost. A fair number of Pirates fans have been eyeballing Robinson for a while now.