Pirates Notebook: Nice start to a long stretch

Yesterday I posted about the controversy over Freddy Sanchez being benched in my “Mythbusters” post. After posting I thought of one more reason why it makes sense to bench Sanchez on Sunday. Today the team started a stretch of 16 games in 16 days, with the final ten games coming on the road. When you consider that Sanchez had played 11 games in 13 days heading in to Sunday, and the Pirates had 16 games in a row coming up, it makes sense to give Freddy two days off, especially with Delwyn Young hitting so well.

It’s also nice to see the Pirates start this series with a win. The Pirates had lost eight in a row, and carrying that losing streak over to this series would have pretty much been the end of the season. The Pirates are now 8-7 at home, but are 5-12 on the road, with their final ten games of this stretch coming on the road.

Finally, it would be nice to win a series against an NL Central team. The Pirates are 7-5 outside of the division, but 6-14 in the NL Central after tonight. I don’t want to say any series will be easy, but I will point out that ten of their 16 games in this stretch come against non-NL Central teams, including four against Washington and three against Colorado. Once again, I’m not going to suggest any opponent will be easy, but it would be huge getting wins against the harder teams, like the Cardinals, with an easier schedule ahead.

For the game recap, let’s go to the MVP Tracker.

The MVP Tracker

-One point for Zach Duke. Back at the start of the season I listed 17 Things to Watch For. If you look at number 13, I said it would be nice for two of the pitching depth guys to step up (I didn’t mention Duke, but he was one of the “other guys” with Gorzy, which shows how high I was on Duke before the season…my opinion certainly has changed). Duke has really stepped up, and is the only Pirates’ starter found in the Aces section of my new fantasy blog, Roto Aces (wow, that was shameless). Would you have believed before the season that our starting pitching would be the strongest point so far this season.

-One point for Brandon Moss for finally having a breakout night. 3 for 4 with a homer. I’d also like to note that I held Moss all season in a deep NL only league, and I dropped him before the game to pick up Tim Redding, the returning Mets starter. I got his numbers for tonight, but it figures he shows signs of life right after I drop him. You can all thank me for this.

-One point for Adam LaRoche. He had a strong April, but has really struggled recently. Nice to see him with a homer tonight, even if it was just to put the game away.

-One point for Nyjer Morgan. Two for five with two RBIs as he continues to impress.

Other Stuff

-The Draft Prospects Tracker is updated.

-Dustin Ackley collected another two hits. Ackley has reached base safely 45 games in a row, dating back to February 27th. That’s amazing.

-Rich Poythress has seen his average drop from to .387 after flirting around in the .450 range last month. This is in part due to his .258 average in the month of May. Poythress has just one homer in his last 51 at bats, after averaging 7.65 AB/HR to start the season.

-Tyler Matzek got his ninth win of the season, striking out nine and walking three in 5.2 innings pitched. I like him more than any of the college arms I’m tracking, and rank him right behind Ackley and Strasburg on my wish list for the number four pick.

-One final note on Freddy Sanchez. This is the same front office that gave him an extension one year ago. That extension included the clause that would guarantee the bonus. Heading in to the 2008 season, Sanchez was coming off back to back All-Star game selections. He also had 632 plate appearances in 2006, and 653 plate appearances in 2007. So it wasn’t like the goals set out to guarantee his option (635 PA, or 600 PA and an All-Star berth) were lofty.

That begs the important question: if this management group would go to lengths to avoid guaranteeing his option, why would they insert that clause in to the contract to begin with? Sanchez was under control through this season already, so it’s not like they had to sign him to an extension. They could have gone year to year with him, and avoided this, if that was truly their intent.

Of course I think this is just a new situation for the Pirates, and since the Pirates have no precedence in this type of situation, a lot of people are going to expect the worst (the Pirates trying to work their way out of paying the money).

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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