Results tagged ‘ Pirates ’
Well, once again Terry Ryan seems to have made another shrewd move in trying to re-tool a somewhat lost franchise.
Ryan Doumit (formerly of the Pittsburgh Pirates) was brought in to back-up Joe Mauer in 2012. As we all know, that gig means catching noon “getaway” days as a given, as well as perhaps being thrust into a starting role should Mauer succumb to injury again.
After seeing Drew Butera & Rene Rivera make Tim “Buck Ninety” Laudner seem like a batting champion, Ryan realized that a backstop with a good combination of defense and pop in the bat is a must on this club.
Doumit has hit .271 in seven seasons with the Pirates, including an OPS of .777. Nothing all-star worthy, but better than what we’ve got behind Joe now. Plus, Doumit (from what I have read) seems like a real “gamer” who will quickly buy into Gardy’s (hopefully) increased work on fundamentals and become a team leader. Plus, Ryan can play a little outfield and first base if needed.
Again, Terry Ryan rubs a little salve on the wounds in hopes of healing their roots.
Tonight, the Twins figured out Zack Grienke and got a superb outing from Kevin Slowey en route to a 7-3 victory over the still-hapless (especially on the road) KC Royals.
However, the entire baseball universe was ecplised today by the debut of young pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals:
Just in case he turns out to be the next Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, or Randy Johnson, I would be remiss not to mention this spectacular debut, so future generations (when they dig out my computer from all the rubble and power up MLBlogs!) could be privvy to his initial greatness.
Against the Pittsburgh Pirates tonight, Strasburg struck out 14 batters in seven innings, whiffing the last seven men he faced in the contest. He gave up a two-run that only left the park because the velocity on the pitch was so nasty, but teammates Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn, and Josh Willingham also homered to get the young kid a victory.
I’ve been watching baseball for quite awhile now, but I’ve never seen anything like this: a youngster so thoroughly dominant at this (the infant) stage of his career. Sure, it was only Pittsburgh, arguably the worst team in the majors this season, but he had them completely flummoxed. It should be even more fun to watch him terrorize good hitters as his innaugural season progresses.
-It was nice to hear from Joe Nathan (in the broadcast booth) tonight, as I really miss him and wish him all the best in his recovery from Tommy John Surgery. He seems like a class act and all-around nice guy.
-The only bad news of the night: Orlando Hudson was put on the 15-day DL from lingering wrist soreness after last week’s collision with Denard Span. Doesn’t sound like anything too serious, so hopefully some rest will allow it to clear itself up and not linger all season long.
Preview (34-24, 1st, 3.5 GA DET): Kyle Davies (4-4, 5.49) vs. Carl Pavano (5-6, 4.11)
My “official” predictions for the 2010 MLB season (before the season gets too far along and starts to affect my judgement!):
Boston (Wild Card)
Atlanta (Wild Card)
AL Champ: New York
NL Champ: Atlanta
World Series Champ: Atlanta Braves
Questions, comments, rants, profanity-laced tirades?!
(Okay Family Guy fans, have your laugh now…out of your system?!)
You know, I almost started this post by talking about how my expectations for the Twins have changed and how we should start watching them purely “for love of the game” and not expect them to be in any sort of pennant race. But then, I got to thinking about those poor fans in Pittsburgh, Kansas City, and a few other cities around the MLB circuit that haven’t had anything break right over the past decade (or more) and would love to be competing in any race of any kind right now. Do I think the Twins will win the AL Central? No. Especially not after those two horrible series’ against KC and Cleveland, teams that supposedly give us the advantage over Chicago the Detroit down the stretch. But do we still have a chance? However slim, yes we do, and that is the way I look at it (or at least am trying to, anyway).
I think that the past three seasons (’07-’09) have proven that only so many things can break right for a small-market organization. In the early part of this decade, the Twins were reborn as a competitive team thanks to a lot of young talent peaking at the same time. A few years later (’05-’06) the team was still able to contend because of our ability to make steals of trades and keep calling up effective players from the minor leagues. The last three years, though, has seen a complete reversal. The farm system is beginning to get tapped out (they may still be decent, but not like the talent of years ago), and the trades (Bartlett/Garza for Young) haven’t been going our way. Plus, the terrible economics of a no-salary cap sporting structure forced the Twins to lose guys like Torii Hunter and Johan Santana, keystones of the franchise.
That being said, the Twins still have a pretty good nucleus of young talent (Mauer, Morneau, Kubel) that can win in the future, but the trick will be keeping them together. One would hope that Mauer (the biggest fish who needs to be landed and mounted behind home plate) can see that and will elect to stay with his hometown team, but nothing is guaranteed in this game.
Thus, the Twins’ goal for the last month and a half of this season is to be as competitive as possible to show our young talent that this is a team that can seriously compete again in the future. That starts tonight against Texas, who is currently leading the AL Wild Card standings and thus will be a tough team to beat on the road. However, if there is one thing I never underestimate about a Ron Gardenhire-coached team, it is their ability to come back in the face of severe adversity. Just when you think this is about to happen…
…the Twins will do something crazy like sweep the Rangers and get back in the thick of things.
Preview (56-61, 3rd, 3.5 GB CWS): Francisco Liriano (5-11, 5.39) vs. Tommy Hunter (5-2, 2.26).
Each year, usually after receiving the Sports Illustrated Baseball Preview issue, I make a complete set of MLB picks. It’s always fun to look back at them and see how right/wrong (wrong far outnumbering the right!) I was at the end of the season. Here they are for ’09:
Tampa Bay (Wild Card)
New York (Wild Card)
AL Champion: Boston
NL Champion: Chicago
World Series Champion: Chicago
So, after 100 long seasons of waiting, I think this is the year that the Cubbies will finally win the big one. I just think that their pitching is too good not to make a deep playoff run.
Now that the traditional (not the Veterans Committee) Hall of Fame ballots are out, I would like to quickly point out two players that I have not yet discussed on this blog:
-First off, Ricky Henderson is obviously a first-ballot shoo-in for the Hall, as he was (and nobody has come close to surpassing him since) the greatest leadoff hitter in the history of the game. Yeah, he may have been an arrogant jerk with an affinity for speaking in the third person, but he did more than enough on the field to warrant a trip to Cooperstown.
-The other player I wanted to discuss, Bert Blyleven, is currently my biggest pet peeve about the Hall of Fame voters. I know this gets brought up every year about how Bert should be in the Hall, but let me assure you it isn’t just a Twins fan griping about a favorite player/personality. The statistics completely speak for themselves:
287 wins, 4,790 innings pitched, 242 complete games, 60 shutouts, 3,701 strikeouts, 3.31 ERA
Now, if those stats aren’t good enough to get a guy into the Hall of Fame, then I don’t know what are. Sure, Bert could be surly with the media and was a little crude at times (as evidenced by the picture posted above), but once you get to “know him” (I say this from listening to him broadcast Twins games for many years) you find that he just likes a good laugh…he isn’t really trying to be mean.
The other big knock on Bert is his 250 losses to go with all his wins, but you can’t necessarily blame him for the (mostly) terrible teams he played for. And, think of it this way…the two really good teams that Blyleven played for (’79 Pirates and ’87 Twins) ending up winning their respective World Series titles in LARGE part due to the contributions of Bert’s masterful pitching.
Finally, there are also some people who say that a player must dominate in a certain area of the game to be HOF-worthy, but Bert meets that qualification as well, as he had the greatest curveball of any of his contemporaries. You don’t top 3,000 K’s (and close in on 4,000) without a tremendous “out” pitch (think Johan Santana’s changeup or Francisco Liriano’s slider), and Bert had the curve.
So, here’s to hoping that Bert finally gets his dream of ascending those Cooperstown steps to receive his bronzed plaque. Let’s just hope he doesn’t moon the audience in the process!