Game #82 vs. Milwaukee

PNC Park | 7:05 | Van Benschoten vs. Jeff Suppan | Box

His face was long afterward, too.
“Jim Tracy told us it was a very important game tonight, and I knew that,” Masumi Kuwata said in a hushed tone. “But I didn’t pitch well.”

The score was knotted at three after five, and the Pirates were hanging with the Brew Crew.
Until the seventh inning, that is:

Brewers seventh: Kuwata pitching. Paulino in as catcher. Graffanino singled to center. Villanueva sacrificed, pitcher Kuwata to second baseman Sanchez, Graffanino to second. Hart doubled to left, Graffanino scored. Hardy singled to left, Hart scored. On Paulino’s passed ball, Hardy to second. Braun struck out. Fielder was intentionally walked. Hall doubled to right, Hardy scored, Fielder to third. Jenkins was intentionally walked. Miller homered to left on a 1-1 count, Fielder scored, Hall scored, Jenkins scored. Wasdin pitching. Graffanino singled to left. Villanueva flied out to right fielder Nady.

“Yeah. … I’m really sorry. Very disappointed.”  We’re sorry too, Masumi.
The Pirates lost game one of this all-important homestand, 10-3.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pre-game Thoughts
As one of the perks associated with being MVN’s director of baseball, I receive e-mails from John Shiffert. From what I can tell, John is a professor (of what, I do not know) and a baseball nut. He periodically sends out historical columns entitled “19 to 21: Baseball … Then and Now.”
To get an idea of John’s subject matter, check out his archives at Baseball Library.
In any case, this morning I received “19 to 21: No, that’s not the number of years it’s been since the Pirates had a winning record, it’s Baseball … Then and Now.”
To cut to the chase, John summed up the Pirates’ problem succinctly:

There’s no sugar-coating this lineup, which is currently 14th in the National League in runs scored. The one legitimate star, Jason Bay, is hitting .262 and has an Adjusted OPS of 106 [compared to a baseline of 100]. The big off-season pick-up, Adam LaRoche, is at 91. The 2006 batting champ, Freddy Sanchez, despite hitting .301, is at 88. Jack Wilson, his 2004 season to the contrary, is still Jack Wilson. Among the regulars, only Xavier Nady (.278/.330/.480) is really doing much (112 OPS+). And you know what? Outside of Bay’s slump, this shouldn’t come as any great shock.

And you know what? I’m not shocked.
The Pirates finished the first half with a 35-46 record because they scored fewer runs than their opponents. Notice that I did not say that they allowed more—they scored fewer.
This evening, we begin a stretch of seven games that could very well set the tone for the remainder of the 2007 season. The Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs sit atop the NL Central. Win seven in a row, we’re alive. Lose seven in a row, we’re dead.
The bats need to come out tonight, and they need to stay out. A mediocre pitching staff allows us to, in theory, be competitive each and every game. But if we aren’t scoring more than a few runs, we’re not going to do much winning.

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Randy Linville

Randy is currently living and thriving in suburban Dayton, OH with his wife and two kids. He was raised in Cincinnati, OH and attended Anderson High School. He went to Miami University (Ohio) and received a degree in Paper Science Engineering from MU. He is a devout Christian and a pop culture buff. He coaches his son’s baseball and basketball teams and his daughters softball and basketball teams. Randy has been a Pirates fan since the late 1970s and has fond memories of the 1979 World Series team. He began blogging for Most Valuable Network in 5/2004 after stumbling across a help-wanted sign for a Pirates blogger. He wrote for Pittsburgh Lumber Co. until the site merged with Pirates Prospects in 2/2011.

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  • Travis

    Tracy and DL do not help matters either with their aversion to power bats. Tracy also befuddles me w/ his mentioning of how walks by his pitchers drive him nuts. Conversely, he and Manto don’t seem to care too much about his hitter’s drawing walks.

  • Alicia Rothermund

    I’m very curious to see where many of these guys show up next year on the list.  If Taillon has a strong showing, I could easily see him in the top-5.  Overall, I’m just interested to see if Cole or Marte have a chance at seeing time in Pittsburgh this year.  A rotation of Cole, Burnett, Bedard, Morton, and McDonald sounds nice.  Same in the outfield, Cutch, Tabata, and Marte.  That right there could be the 1,2,3 in the lineup. 

    p.s. Sorry Presley & Karstens

    If they keep Marte and Cole down in the minors all season, I could foresee a tremendous jump in the rankings for next season.  I see a strong possibility of both seeing some time in Sept. but not enough to lose their prospect status.  So I see two top-10’s in Taillon and Cole, and maybe Heredia sneaking up into the top-100.  If Marte continues to do the same thing in AAA that he has his entire career, plus 15-ish HR, I’m going to be very surprised if he isn’t a consensus top-50, and possibly even a top-25; even if he K’s 100 times and only walks 10 times.  Then there’s Grossman.  He may be a guy that will never get his proper respect even if he’s in the middle of an all-star season in Pittsburgh.  However, it would be very nice to see him have another great season in ’12, as he could serve as some awesome trade bait down the road.  That, or if Marte turns out to be legit, McCutchen would be even more valuable on the trade market in a couple years. 

  • leadoff

    The Rankings we see are almost always about the top draft picks teams make, too me all they mean is that the Pirates are doing well in their choices of top draft picks and they can miss, who knows they might have missed on Alvarez, but that won’t be their fault, they picked the right guy, time will tell on that one.

    I am going to go on record and say that I do not think that Cole is going to come out of the gate smoking, I think he has some mechanical issues that the Pirates will try to fix and I think he might get hit around a little bit, especially since I think he will probably start in Bradenton. Most people forget that he got hit hard by college hitters last year.

    Unfortunately players get labeled from the time when they are drafted, I don’t see the Pirate farm as just the Players that make the top 10 or 100. I think a guy like Mercer is a major league SS prospect and D’Arnaud did show that he can play and be very useful to a major league club, Harrison IMO is a major league utility player at the very least.
    There are others that I am very high on like:
    Justin Wilson
    Kyle McPherson
    Nick Kingham
    Tony Sanchez
    Alex Dickerson
    Matt Curry
    Clay Holmes
    Jeff Inman
    Tony Sanchez
    Philip Irwin
    These players are not rated as 5 star or 4 star, but they are very talented and most of them will make the majors, these are players that I look at when I judge the Pirate farm system.
    Very few teams have more than two or three players that came out of their systems that are stars on their 25 man rosters.

  • mikez09

    I agree with Grossman not being on most of the top 100 lists. I see him as having Nate McLouth type potential. He is a guy thats not going to wow you with any of his skills but plays hard and gets the most out of his talent. i see him more as an average outfielder or a 4th outfielder on a strong team. That said, i really like this kid and hope he makes it!

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