Van Benschoten Down, Armas to Enter Rotation

Per the AP: The Pittsburgh Pirates sent John Van Benschoten to Triple-A Indianapolis on Saturday, a day after the right-hander lost his fifth straight decision. … The Pirates plan to make a roster move Sunday to replace Van Benschoten. Tony Armas Jr. will take his spot in the rotation and start Wednesday night against St. Louis. With deadline deals possibly in the works, I suppose it makes sense to wait to make a roster move...

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Game #102 at Phillies

Citizens Bank Park | 7:05 | Youman vs. J.D. Durbin | Box It was good: Pirates third: Castillo struck out. Wilson popped out to shortstop Rollins. Youman walked. McLouth singled to right, Youman to second. Sanchez homered to left on a 1-1 count, Youman scored, McLouth scored. LaRoche singled to right. Bay walked on a full count, LaRoche to second. Nady singled to center, LaRoche scored, Bay to second. Doumit struck out. …and then...

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Four Days Left to Talk; Will Bucs Make a Move?

I’ve been keeping an eye on rumor-centric sites (Tim Dierkes’ is particularly good; I read one on Yahoo!, too), wondering when and if the Pirates are going to make a move this year. I think it’s safe to say there are but three Pirates on the market:  Shawn Chacon, Salomon Torres and Damaso Marte.  That’s probably the order in which Littlefield would like to move them, too. I don’t think...

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Game #101 at Phillies; Van Benschoten Returns

Citizens Bank Park | 7:05 | Van Benschoten vs. Moyer | Box Never have 6 hits and 4 walks over 2.1 innings looked so good. John Van Benschoten allowed the first three Phillies he faced to reach base, and I’m sure everyone wearing black and gold was wondering if he’d stick around long enough to record an out. Then, after a visit from Jim Colborn, Ryan Howard struck out. So did Pat Burrell. All of a sudden, Van Benschoten was...

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Bullington, Herrera Moving in Opposite Directions?

Two of the Pirates’ prominent right-handed pitching prospects threw on Thursday night. Both put up similar lines, working into (and past) the sixth inning, allowing a lot of hits and maintaining a solid strikeout-to-walk ratio.
I was curious to see how Bryan Bullington and Yoslan Herrera were progressing in the 2007 season, and I was a little surprised when I checked First Inning and saw the results.

Bullington

2007

Herrera

10

W

6

5

L

5

106.2

IP

93.1

105

H

108

42

BB

30

63

K

50

4.05

ERA

4.53

Bullington, outside of his control issues, looks to be the superior pitcher. His pedigree as a first overall draft pick makes that somewhat easy to believe, especially as a 26-year-old minor-league veteran still throwing in Triple-A (as compared to Herrera, who just arrived in America this season and is in his first go-around in our professional leagues after a two-year hiatus from baseball ).
But look at how they’ve progressed through the year, courtesy of Minor League Splits:

Bullington

IP

H

BB

K

AVG

OPS

ERA

April

29.3

26

12

14

.236

.612

1.17

May

29.3

26

12

20

.232

.649

3.72

June

13.7

17

9

8

.304

.918

8.79

July

16.3

19

6

10

.288

.771

5.48

Bullington started hot, then cooled off a bit in June as he experienced discomfort in his right arm. It’s encouraging to see that he’s back in a groove of sorts, but he’s still not where he was in May. At that point, Pirate fans wanted to see him in the big-league rotation—he was throwing well.
Herrera, on the other hand, has shown steady improvement:

Herrera

IP

H

BB

K

AVG

OPS

ERA

April

18.7

28

5

12

.341

.894

8.05

May

25.0

29

9

14

.276

.796

4.39

June

24.3

26

7

14

.280

.677

3.60

July

14.7

15

9

7

.250

.640

2.78

OPS, as defined by Wikipedia: “Both the ability of a player to get on base and to hit for power, two important hitting skills, are represented [in on-base plus slugging percentage], making it an effective way of measuring the offensive worth of a player.”
Players have been worth less offensively against Herrera as the season’s gone on. Let’s hope that trend continues; and let’s hope, too, that Bullington continues to return to his early-season form. With little right-handed pitching past Ian Snell in the organization, the Pirates desperately need arms like these to pan out.
The Pirates have a somewhat significant investment in Herrera, so I wouldn’t expect a promotion to be imminent. At the same time, though, it looks as if Yoslan’s starting to master Double-A. His control is suspect—but what Pirate prospect’s isn’t? When he begins to walk fewer batters (something that will happen as he regains “feel” for his pitches), it’ll be time to shift Herrera to Indianapolis for a new challenge. Until then, there’s no rush.
I would expect Bullington to remain in Triple-A for the remainder of the year, perhaps earning a cup of coffee in late September as a reward for a solid comeback season.

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Downfall of the Fam-A-Lee – Part 15

In 1981 the Pirates failed to win either half of the regular season and finished in last place in the second half with a sad 21-33 record. Both the offense and pitching finished near the middle of the NL pack in runs per game. The club acquired a new second baseman in Johnny Ray. An aging Willie Stargell had been replaced at first base by Jason Thompson. What other off season and in-season moves were made to put the club into...

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