Porcello Beats Bucs with Arm, Bat

This was tough to swallow. A pitcher the Pirates passed on in favor of Daniel Moskos who is now 20 and a rookie in the Show not only beat the Pirates by allowing one run in seven innings, but also collected two hits and two RBIs. Oh, he hadn’t actually come to bat in who knows how long. That man is Rick Porcello

Ian Snell might’ve deserved better. He went seven innings and gave up two runs, allowing 10 hits.

The Pirates lone run scored on double from Freddy Sanchez. Brandon Inge dingered late off of John Grabow.

The Good

This was the first time in seven outings that Snell allowed fewer than two runs.

The Bad

Ugh. The offense.

The Rest

The last pitcher to have two hits and two RBI in his first career appearance as a hitter was Jason Jennings way back in 2001 with Colorado.

This was Jim Leyland’s first trip back to PNC since 7/2/06. At least his first trip back as manager.

 

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Pirate Prospect #21 – Daniel Moskos

I am counting down my personal list of the top 25 Pirate prospects. You can follow the countdown here, or by clicking on the “Top 25 Prospects” link in the site header.

Date of Birth: 4/28/1986

Height: 6’1″

Weight: 210 pounds

Bats/Throws: R/L

Position: P

Drafted: First Round, 2007 (Clemson University)

And we come to Daniel Moskos. You have to feel for this kid, as he was doomed from the beginning. Even if he were to go on to be a dominant starting pitcher for the Pirates, he would always be remembered as the guy we drafted instead of Matt Wieters. The selection of Moskos had far larger implications than simply being a poor pick, as it was a leading factor in the firing of Dave Littlefield. This was a significant first step in the revamping of the organization, one of the few positives of the Moskos selection. Amid the controversy, it’s easy to forget that there is still a player’s career at stake.

From Baseball America’s 2008 Prospect Handbook:

His fastball and slider are major league pitches, so Moskos will ride the fast track if he remains a reliever. He’ll likely open at high class A Lynchburg, and should reach the majors by no less than 2009.

Well, the Pirates tried Moskos in the rotation in 2008, he had little success and he will not see Pittsburgh in 2009. He struggled mightily, looking little like the pitcher described in the above excerpt. His mechanics were reportedly out of whack, and he was also said to be out of shape. There were whispers right after the draft that his maximum-effort delivery could be an indication that he had already peaked. That is looking more likely as his career progresses. He no longer displays the velocity on his fastball that he was said to possess in college. He is still young, and could rebound in 2009, but it appears that his ceiling is a solid reliever. That’s not exactly what the team needed from its first round draft pick. Thanks, Mr. Littlefield. And good luck, Mr. Moskos. You have a tough road ahead of you.

Expected arrival in Pittsburgh: 2012

Interleague schedule will be an interesting test for Pirates

As you probably read in today’s Post-Gazette, the Pirates have not fared well in the past during interleague play. Actually, if you have been following the team closely the past few years, you probably already knew that. It seems as if the Pirates are often still hanging around as the calendar turns to June, luring fans into cautiously feeling hopeful about the season.
Then the American League shows up. And the season is essentially over.
In 2004, interleague play made up a large portion of a Pirates’ 4-21 stretch. And just like that, a 23-22 team was suddenly sitting at 27-43. The Bucs immediately went on a ten-game winning streak, but even that was not enough to save their season. Their 2-10 interleague record played a huge part in the 72-win season.
In 2005, the Pirates won four of their first six interleague games, including a 17-2 laugher over Tampa Bay that left them at 30-30 on June 11. But a 1-5 road trip against the Yankees and Red Sox sent the team into a tailspin from which it would not recover.
The following season, the Pirates lost their first six games of the season. They were 15 games under .500 when they played their first American League team, so the season was already lost. But interleague play still proved to be plenty embarrassing. During an epic 13-game losing streak, the Pirates were swept by both the Twins and the Royals. Kansas City was 19-49 entering the series, and the two worst teams in Major League Baseball proceeded to play possibly the ugliest series I have ever seen. It was one of the lowest points for the Pirates during this 15-year stretch of futility. The team was 27 games under .500 when the interleague schedule concluded.
Last season, the Pirates were eight games under when they met their first AL opponent. Just days after the Daniel Moskos/Matt Wieters draft debacle, the Bucs played poorly as they were swept by the Yankees in New York. Despair was in the air and protests were being planned, as the team tried to salvage some wins during interleague play. They won five of seven before dropping their final five games against the American League.
This year, the Pirates begin the interleague portion of the schedule with a record of 33-34. Hope still remains for the rest of the season. Yes, the team’s performance during this stretch is not that significant in the big picture. Yes, the single most important objective for 2008 is infusing the organization with talent. That includes trading veterans for prospects, even if it hurts the chances of success in 2008. But that does not mean we shouldn’t enjoy the rare opportunity to witness competitive baseball in Pittsburgh. Interleague play is one of the major hurdles we have faced in recent years. It would be great to still have this positive feeling on June 30.

Posted in 2005 Pittsburgh Pirates, 2006 Pittsburgh Pirates, 2007 Pittsburgh Pirates, 2008 Pittsburgh Pirates, Daniel Moskos. Comments Off on Interleague schedule will be an interesting test for Pirates

The Pirate career of Matt Morris may be over

It appears that Matt Morris is on his way out of the Pirates’ rotation, and may be done with the team as well. The Post-Gazette has not confirmed the team’s exact plans, but John Van Benschoten will likely be recalled from Triple-A today. I would expect him to take Morris’ starting spot, though Phil Dumatrait may be in the plans as well. The Pirates will need to make a move to open a roster spot for Van Benschoten, and releasing Morris may be the best bet.
Morris was hit hard again last night, and was lifted for Dumatrait after recording only five outs. It is obvious that Morris does not have it this year, and a change was inevitable. While other options are not much more promising, the team could not continue sending Morris out to the mound every fifth game.
I actually feel bad for Morris, as he seems to be a great guy. Unfortunately, he and Daniel Moskos are the two players that best represent the ineptitude of past management. No matter how well either performed or will perform in the future, it will be difficult to be accepted by an angry and frustrated fan base. The fact that Morris has been awful since he was acquired by Dave Littlefield only makes matters worse. Moskos can expect to deal with the same issues the entire time he plays in the Pirates’ organization.

Moskos to start

The Pirates have decided to make Daniel Moskos, their first-round selection in 2007, a starting pitcher. Moskos was mostly a closer during his days at Clemson, but made some starts as a senior. Obviously, a starting pitcher is more valuable than a reliever is, so his career could be much more productive if this moves works out. Moskos potentially has four pitches (fastball, slider, curve, change) to work with, and could use those different looks effectively as a starter.
However, Moskos was not especially impressive during his brief time as a starter in college. Spread out over five or six innings, he does not have the same electric stuff that he displayed as a closer. Eventually, I assume he will end up back in the bullpen. At least this way, though, he will be given the opportunity to start. If he is unsuccessful, he will still have relief as a plan B.

Posted in Daniel Moskos. Comments Off on Moskos to start

Failure to deal relievers at deadline proves costly for Pirates

When the Pirates passed on Matt Wieters and chose Daniel Moskos in the 2007 amateur draft, fans lashed out with an amount of outrage that I have never seen. It is rare in Major League Baseball for a fan base to react so passionately to a draft pick, but the choice was so absurd that even casual fans were left fuming. It did not help that the decision appeared to be financially motivated, as Wieters was expected to demand a signing bonus of nearly $10 million. On July 31, Dave Littlefield likely sealed his fate when he acquired Matt Morris. Many were dumbfounded, as the Pirates committed eight figures of salary to a declining veteran just months after passing on Weiters.
These decisions were dreadful, but there was another that has mostly flown under the radar. While Littlefield spent July 31 attempting to send Jack Wilson to Detroit and ultimately adding more frustration to the pitching staff, he neglected a more important task. On July 25, the Padres acquired three prospects for mediocre reliever Scott Linebrink. This deal illustrated the value the league placed on experienced relief pitching. Several other teams were searching for bullpen help, and the Pirates had three of the best relievers available.
Shawn Chacon was surprisingly effective early in 2007. Through July 31, he had an ERA of 3.79 and sported a record of 4-2. He was a steadying arm in what was a very shaky bullpen. Damaso Marte had been even better, as the most dominant left-handed reliever in Major League Baseball. He had an ERA of 1.38 and a WHIP of 0.95. Salomon Torres had struggled in 2007 with an ERA of 5.00 and several blown saves. However, his success in the past meant Torres could bring some value in a trade.
There is no way to be sure what offers were available to Littlefield as the trade deadline approached. However, it seems safe to assume that he had options to deal his relievers. He chose to keep each one. Chacon, Marte and Torres responded by posting ERA’s of 4.50, 4.97 and 6.48 respectively the rest of the way. The Pirates had the opportunity to sell high while Chacon and Marte were outperforming their career numbers, but instead waited as those statistics returned closer to what one would expect. Now Shawn Chacon is expected to leave as a free agent, and the Pirates will receive absolutely nothing in return.
A smart way for the Pirates to improve would be to trade veteran relievers (who are often overvalued in the league) for hitters. The performances of relievers are much more variable from year to year, and it is much easier to build a successful bullpen than a potent offense. But at this year’s deadline, Littlefield demonstrated his belief that the Pirates were close to contending. He kept his bullpen intact and added a fifth starter for 20% of the team’s payroll. Two months later, the Pirates finished another season in last place. Failing to unload even one of his relievers was a costly mistake by Littlefield.

Monday Morning QB: Pirate, Steeler Uni Flaws

Over at The Steel Tradition, friend of PLC Tony Ferrante recaps yesterday’s Steeler victory—a 26-3 drubbing of the Buffalo Bills. Fast Willie Parker went off to the tune of 126 yards on 23 carries and a touchdown, and he did it wearing the Steelers’ new throwback alternate pictured above. I’m not a fan of the yellow helmets. What I like about the Pirates’ and Steelers’ usual wardrobes is the simplicity. These third jerseys have too much shock value.
I’ve been sitting on this link for awhile, waiting for the right time to dump it: Today is finally that time. On September 7, Paul Lukas of Uni Watch interviewed Claude Jacques, a collector of pocket schedules. I’m not all that creative, but I do enjoy some elements of design—so the Uni Watch concept interests me, as did Jacques’ collection. Check out the Pirates’ schedules from the 2000’s, 1990’s, 1980’s and 1970’s. Tough to pick a favorite, but this one‘s probably mine. (You can go year-by-year for the Indy Indians, too.)
Finally, if you haven’t recently visited Sandlot Swashbucklers, PLC’s minor-league partner, you’re missing out. Yesterday, Nancy Z. began an off-season long project of recapping each minor-league affiliate team’s season month-by-month. She started with a discussion of how April went for the Hickory Crawdads.
As another way to kill the winter months, I’ve started to profile each of the Pirates’ minor-league players at the Sandlot. We’ll eventually get to current and former Buccos, too, going as far back in time as resident Pirate history expert Randy Linville cares to take us. You can keep up with those profiles in this archive: I’ve already talked about Brian Bixler, Jesse Chavez, Jason Delaney, Shelby Ford, Brad Lincoln, Andrew McCutchen, Daniel Moskos, and Neil Walker.

Posted in 2007 Pittsburgh Pirates, Andrew McCutchen, Brad Lincoln, Brian Bixler, Daniel Moskos, General, Jesse Chavez, Neil Walker, Shelby Ford. Comments Off on Monday Morning QB: Pirate, Steeler Uni Flaws