Update: Ten Things I Need to Know About the Pirates

Entering Spring Training, I thought these issues were important. Let’s get a status report after ten official games (and one slaughtering of the Manatee Lancers). 1. Can Adam LaRoche hit left-handed pitching? Like it or not, a manager bound for Cooperstown thought it best to sit Adam down against southpaws for the majority of 2006. The Pirates acquired Lefty McThump to be their everyday first baseman; if he struggles, though, it...

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Brian Bixler

A look at a possible middle infielder for the Indianapolis Indians….

BRIAN BIXLER

shortstop

born: 10/22/82��� in Sandusky, Ohio

Ht: 6′ 1″�� Wt: 190 lb

B: Right���� T: Right

Bixler was drafted by the Pirates in the second round of the 2004 draft.� He got off to a slower start than expected in Williamsport in 2004 and in Hickory in 2005.� His batting average was decent, .276 and .281 respectively, and he stole a 21 bases with Hickory, but he showed poor discipline at the plate, averaging about one strikeout per game in both years.� His fielding was also a problem, committing 33 errors at Hickory.

Things began to turn around in 2006 for Bixler.� He began the season at Lynchburg, where he hit .303 AVG with 5 HR’s and 33 RBI, and he stole 18 bases in 73 games.� He drew more walks and struck out a bit less.� He continued to make progress with the glove too, and he was named to both the mid-season and post-season Carolina League All-Star teams.� In mid-season, Bixler was promoted to Altoona.� There he continued to hit well, for a .301 AVG, with 3 HR’s and 19�RBI,�and he stole 6 bases.��He had a particularly strong August, hitting .353 with 10 doubles and one home run.� He continued to improve in the field and in his patience at the plate.� Bixler played winter ball in the Hawaiian Winter League, where he appeared in 17 games for the Honolulu Sharks.� He hit for a .304 AVG and stole 2 bases.�

Bixler was invited to Pirates’ spring training as a non-roster invitee.� So far, he has appeared in 4 Grapefruit League games,�and�hit .500, including a triple and a home run, in 12 AB’s.� Pirates’ director of player development, Brian Graham, has called Bixler “the most improved player in the system”.� He continues to hit, though not with a lot of power.� His plate discipline has improved, as has his fielding.� He appears to be heading for Indianapolis to begin the 2007 season, where he should be expected to work on plate discipline and fielding, and continue to hit well and steal bases.�

Go Tribe!

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Spring Games 10-11 Live: Bucs vs. Braves/Tribe

I’ll be here throughout the day, off and on, providing updates of the black and gold baseball. Feel free to leave a few comments with your insight and/or questions, and I’ll do my best to address everything in a timely fashion. Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Atlanta Braves, 1:05 p.m. EST Zach Duke (and Masumi Kuwata) vs. Chuck James. Gameday Audio webcast and FM NewsTalk 104.7 feeds are available.Bucs trail 1-0 in the bottom of...

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Stat Rat Answers

Could you remember those stats from last season?
For each of the Pirates’ minor league affiliates in 2006:
Which player�had the most home runs?
AAA Indianapolis Indians — Chris Richards, 17
AA Altoona Curve — Ray Sadler, 15
A Lynchburg Hillcats — Steven Pearce, 14
A Hickory Crawdads– Brad Corley, 16
A/SS Williamsport Crosscutters (last year’s affiliate) — Alexander Presley, Jared Keel, Kent Sakamoto, 3 each
R GCL Pirates– Justin Byler and Victor Igsema, 5 each
Which player�had the most RBI?
AAA Indianapolis Indians — Chris Richards, 67
AA Altoona Curve — Simon Pond, 78
A Lynchburg Hillcats — Michael Carlin, 74
A Hickory Crawdads — Brad Corley, 100
A/SS Williamsport Crosscutters — Alexander Presley and Kent Sakamoto, 23 each
R GCL Pirates — Justin Byler, 28
Which pitcher gave up the most home runs?
AAA Indianapolis Indians –� Sean Burnett, 13
AA Altoona Curve — Michael Connolly, 18
A Lynchburg Hillcats — Matt Guillory, 17
A Hickory Crawdads –Luis Valdez, 20
A/SS Williamsport Crosscutters — Henry Cabrera, 6
R GCL Pirates –Rafael Delossantos, 3
OTHER NOTES:
Brad Eldred is going to try playing in the outfield, something he hasn’t done since college.� It’s an attempt to give him more options, and so a better chance of being able to stay or move up quickly to the Pirates.� No guarantee that several appearances in the outfield over the next few weeks would secure him a spot on the 25-man Pirates’ roster for Opening Day, of course.� They might still send him to Indianapolis, with the directive to work on his outfield skills here.
Jim Tracy, quoted in�today’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette by Dejan Kovacevic:
“We haven’t ruled out the fact that Brad Eldred can be part of this club,” Tracy replied. “I’m certainly not sitting here saying no to that, but I’m also not saying yes. We like what we’ve seen of the player, the adjustments he’s made at the plate and the defensive improvements, too. Have you seen how much better his footwork is at first base this spring than it was last spring?”
�And yesterday in the Post-Gazette:
“He’s obviously seeing the ball much better,” Tracy said. “He’s gotten himself into better counts and is swinging at better pitches.”
Go Tribe!

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Spring Training Game 9: Bucs/Rays Recap

No coverage for this one, so we’ll go by the recaps:  Dejan here and Pirates.com (including a box score) here. Shane Youman has, as Dejan put it, quietly been making a bid for meaningful innings in 2007.  Three scoreless today.  The Pirates’ pitchers you should care about (Youman, Torres, Chavez, Rogers) shut out Tampa Bay.  John Wasdin and Allan Simpson each allowed one run, but they’re bound for Triple A no matter...

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Stat Rat Trivia

More trivia questions, this time not just for the Indians.� No cheating!
For each of the Pirates’ minor league affiliates in 2006:
1. Which player had the most home runs?
2. Which player had the most RBI?
3. Which pitcher gave up the most home runs?
Answers later today, or maybe tomorrow.
Go Tribe!

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