Bucs Drop Pair to Redlegs, Fall Deeper into the Cellar

It was an ugly day-night double header in Cincinnati. Making up a rained out game, the Pirates were beaten in front of a sparse crowd in the afternoon. They returned for the eveing game and were beaten again.

In the opener, the ML debut of Pirates starter Daniel McCutchen was pretty solid. He gave up four singles and a homer (to Drew Stubbs) in six innings, allowing three runs and whiffing five. He was matchd up against Kip Wells, who was also good – six innings and just two runs allowed. But, Jason Jaramillo singled in the 7th off of Carlos Fisher, tying the contest and causing neither starter to get a decision.

But Jesse Chavez allowed two singles and a fly ball to right that moved Darnell McDonald to third. Then Chavez uncorked a wild pitch allowing McDonald to score with the game ending run.

The second game started out rough. Paul Maholm was tagged for three runs in the first. The Reds used five hits and left the bases loaded while batting around. Past the first inning, other than a homer from Brandon Phillips in the third, Maholm was okay. Drew Stubbs added a homer in the night cap in the 8th off of Chavez.

Andrew McCutchen’s solo homer was the highlight of a three run sixth inning, but the Pirates could do little else against Johnny Cueto. He struck out five and allowed one run in 5+ innings. Nick Masset won the opener for Cincy.

The Good

Danny Bautista tossed two scoreless innings in relief of Maholm. He is unscored upon in 2009.

In addition to a good outing, Daniel McCutchen collected his first ML hit and his first ML RBI.

The Bad

Getting swept by a fifth place team.

Being in the cellar.

Being five losses away from securing yet another losing season. It is and has been a foregone conclusion.

The Rest

Last Bucco pitcher to get a hit in his ML debut was Maholm way back on 8/30/05.

You have to go way way back to 6-24-96 and Elmer Dessens to find the last Pirate pitcher to get a hit and an RBI in their first appearance in the Show.

Cueto now has four wins against the Pirates, his most against any team.

Maholm had not lost to Cincy since April 2007 when the Reds beat him twice.

This was the fourth time that Wells started against the Pirates and he was 3-1 in those outings coming into this afternoon’s game.


Bucs Lose Rollercoaster

From up five early to a 9th inning comeback against Francisco Rodriguez to losing it in the 10th, this one had it all. All except a Pirates win, that is. This one was delayed by rain and it was a make up for an earlier rain out. Striking an irony chord somewhere.

The Pirates jumped on Tim Redding early for five runs. Garrett Jones and Robinzon Diaz each had three hits and two RBI. However, Paul Maholm couldn’t hold the lead as the Mets scored eight runs in the middle three frames.

The Pirates tied it up in the 9th off of Rodriguez when Adam LaRoche stroked a two run dinger. But, the Mets countered with a run in the 10th off Matt Capps as Ryan Church singled in Fernando Tatis, who had homered earlier in the game. Rodriguez tossed a perfect 10th to lock it down.

Maholm went 4-1/3 and gave up six runs and 11 hits. Redding gave up five runs and got just seven outs.

The Good

Garrett Jones was single short of the cycle.

The Bad

Delwyn Young was held hitless again and was tossed for arguing balls and strikes.

The Rest

Former Bucco Elmer Dessens made his 4th appearance of the year in relief for NYM.

This was the first time all year that Maholm gave up more than four runs in a home start. He has never been touched for more than six runs in a start at PNC.

The last Pirate to have a double, triple and homer in the same game before his 50th career game was Richie Hebner way back on 5-4-69. Garrett Jones did it today.

Tatis scored four times, establishing a single game high for his career.

Welcome Jeff Salazar. Bucs most recent recall from Louisville was 0-1 in a pinch hitting role in his Bucco debut.


Pirates add Rivas to roster

The Pirates added Luis Rivas to their 40-man roster today, all but assuring that he will head to Atlanta with the team on Sunday. Rivas has played well this spring, and could start at second base if Freddy Sanchez has not yet recovered from shoulder soreness. To make room for Rivas, the Pirates designated Jonah Bayliss for assignment. Bayliss was out of options, and must clear waivers to remain with the team. Neal Huntington is hopeful that he will clear waivers, but I would not expect it. Bayliss is the type of player that teams should be looking for on the waiver wire. He has good stuff, but has struggled with control. If he can figure that out, he can be a very solid reliever.
The Pirates also cut Kevin Thompson, Elmer Dessens and Casey Fossum. The demotion of Thompson would seem to lock Nyjer Morgan on the roster, although Huntington was quick to point out that Doug Mientkiewicz has performed well in the corner outfield spots. I am not sure why that is relevant, as the Pirates will need a backup centerfielder.
This leaves 33 players in camp. The roster will likely be set by Saturday.
The Pirates will face the Twins today in Bradenton at 1:05 PM. Ian Snell will make the start against Kevin Slowey. The game will be televised on FSN Pittsburgh and MLB.TV.

Pirates News and Notes: Team looks to ink Capps

  • Dejan Kovacevic reports in todayís Post-Gazette that the Pirates are pursuing a long-term contract with closer Matt Capps. The proposed length could be up to four years, which would take Capps through his arbitration years. I have mixed emotions about this strategy. Capps is obviously one of the more valuable Pirates right now, and he is still young at 24. It might make sense to lock him up for several years. However, the performance of relievers tends to fluctuate dramatically from year to year. Also, the fact that Capps basically throws only straight fastballs worries me. He may be a player the Pirates should be looking to deal in the near future for a more valuable commodity. Like offense.
  • In the same article, Dejan reports that the Pirates have backed away from long-term contract talks with Freddy Sanchez. That is a smart move. I expect Sanchez to decline quickly in the future, as he relies almost entirely on amazing contact skills at the plate. When that ability begins to diminish with age, his value will decrease rapidly. The Pirates should be looking to trade him within a year, while he is still an important contributor.
  • John Perrotto reports that the Pirates have shown an interest in signing left-hander Ron Villone as a reliever. Villone, who turns 38 on January 16, was the Piratesí opening day starter in 2002. In his career, he has an ERA of 4.76 and a WHIP of 1.48. In 2007, Villone posted a 4.25 ERA, a 1.28 WHIP, striking out 25 and walking 18 in 42.1 innings with the Yankees. I am not sure how he would help the bullpen, especially with left-handers John Grabow and Damaso Marte already entrenched. However, if it is only a minor-league deal, there is little potential harm. We already have Elmer Dessens. Maybe Jimmy Anderson is also available? We can bring them all back.

Pirates sign Elmer Dessens

The Pirates have signed right-handed reliever Elmer Dessens to a one-year minor league contract. Dessens, who will turn 37 on January 13, began his career with the Pirates and pitched for the team in 1996-1998.
Dessens is unlikely to adequately fill the teamís need for a late-inning, right-handed reliever. He struggled through injuries in 2007, posting an ERA of 7.15, a WHIP of 1.68, striking out 22 and walking 12 in 34 innings pitched. At his age, we should not expect to see any improvement. However, there is no risk with this signing. It is a minor league deal, so the Pirates are not on the hook for any significant salary. Dessens had an ERA+ of 101 in 2004, 115 in 2005, and 102 in 2006. Over that time, he struck out 162 batters and walked 72 in 247.2 innings. He also has some experience starting. Those are not extraordinary numbers, but they are respectable. If he can return to that level of pitching, he would be a nice addition to the Piratesí bullpen. If he performs as he did in 2007, the team can let him go without remorse. Neal Huntington should be making more of these types of moves in an effort to stabilize the bullpen. Sign as many guys like Dessens as possible, and hope a couple perform well. A solid bullpen can be built with scraps.
In addition, if someone like Dessens pitches at an adequate level in the first few months of the season, he might be valuable as the trade deadline approaches.

Pirates 40-Man Roster