Tag Archives: Pirates

Martin Prado Achieves Rare 0-for-9, Almost Does Unthinkable

There was a controversial call last night in the Pirates-Braves game.  It was a brutal 19-inning game that ended with a bad call, but a few things flew under the radar.

First, there’s this.  I will never not love Scott Proctor for that.

Second, lost in the shuffle was that Martin Prado went 0-for-9 on the night without a sacrifice or a walk.  That’s a solid nine times he was at the plate and made an out.

Just to give you a sense of reference, only 86 times has a player gone 0-for-8 in 8 plate appearances.  Only 22 times has a player gone 0-for-9 in at-bats (without a sacrifice) or worse. The last player to do so was Trot Nixon in 2006. Before that, Rafael Palmeiro in 1991.

Of those 22, only six times has a player gone 0-for-10 in ABs and 10 PAs, and only once in recorded history has a player gone 0-for-11 and he did it in 11 PAs (we’re looking at you, 1920 Charlie Pick of the Boston Braves).  If you want to include sacrifices and walks, 29 have gone 0-for-9, 10 have gone o-for-10 and, again, only Charlie Pick has gone 0-for-11.

The best part?  Martin Prado was on deck after Proctor. He would’ve been the first player since John Shelby in 1989 to go 0-for-10 in 10 PAs.

I love this game.

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A Q&A with Project Prospect’s Adam W. Foster

Adam W. Foster is the fanatic’s scout.  He has a good eye and often replies to open questions asked on Twitter. He has catalogued videos of nearly every prospect in each organization. His opinions are respected within the community, but mention his name to the casual baseball fan–or even an avid baseball fan–and you’ll likely get a “who?”

Foster, who runs Project Prospect with Lincoln Hamilton, took time out of his pre-draft schedule to talk about the 2010 Rule IV draft and the current state of the Dodgers’ minor league system.  Questions are in italics.

(Before you continue reading, remember that Foster is a Giants fan and is Grade A evil for what he says about the Dodgers’ minor league system).

For the upcoming 2010 Rule IV draft, what’s the first thing that stands out to you? What should the casual fan know about the talent that’s coming out of this draft?

There aren’t many attractive college bats coming out of major conferences. …

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CRUCIAL SERIES FOR DODGERS; THEY MUST WIN

Not really.

The Dodgers are visiting the Nats (April 23-25) and the Mets (April 26-28) before coming home to play a four-game series with the Pirates (April 29-May 2).  That May 2 game against the Pirates will conclude a 6,000-mile road trip and a streak of 13 games played in 13 days.  Yeesh.

Better to face Washington and Pittsburgh now before they both start bringing up their future stars (Strasburg and Alvarez should be up before the season is over), so that’s fine.  Just maybe if they didn’t have such a long trip … would’ve been nice.

Just a bit of perspective on the start of the season:

-Matt Kemp is on a TEAR.  A .735 slugging and a .405 on-base have him ripping through opponents.  He’s gotten two “just enough” home runs, but hit-tracker says he’s averaging 399 feet on homers, so they’re all legit. Last year, he led the league with four “lucky” home runs.  Maybe a sign of improved strength and contact?

-In fact, the whole offense is doing amazingly well right now. By OPS+:

Russell Martin: 141
James Loney: 90
Blake Dewitt: 88
Rafael Furcal: 134
Casey Blake: 118
Manny Ramirez: 209
Matt Kemp: 198
Andre Ethier: 208

Good lord that’s a powerful outfield.  Obviously they’re not gonna keep this up, but what a great start.

-Dylan Hernandez announced on twitter Manny is going on the 15-day DL and Xavier Paul is up in his place.  I imagine this means more time for Reed Johnson with Garrett Anderson filling in once every couple of days and Paul coming in as a defensive replacement. I kinda like Johnson and want to see him get a good shot in Manny’s absence.

-At the start of the year, pitching was supposed to be a problem, but not this bad.  Everyone’s favorite boating enthusiast Chad Billingsley and 1880s carpet bagger George Sherrill are off to bad starts while Ramon Ortiz, Russ Ortiz, Charlie Haeger and Vicente Padilla have all been worse than expected–and the expectations were pretty low to begin with.  The offense is good enough to get around that for the foreseeable future, but the doom-and-gloom predictors are smiling right now.

-James Loney is currently posting a slugging worse than he posted last year.  ……..

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Two interviews with two owners

I always find interviews with owners very interesting–owners have perhaps the most impact on a club in who they hire and how they define their ownership’s prerogative role; their movements can be small, but strongly weighted.  With that, here are two interviews held by two different news sources with two different MLB team owners.

The first, Richard Durett of ESPN.com/Dallas sits down with Chuck Greenberg, who just bought the Texas Rangers as part of an ownership group with Nolan Ryan, pending the MLB ownership group’s and Tom Hicks’ ownership group’s approval.  Not really stirring stuff, but there’s some hidden messages in there.

Some of the better parts:

Q: Give us a sense of how this club will operate in terms of your role and others. Will you make the day-to-day decisions? How will it work?

A: I’ll be the managing partner and CEO. If you like what’s going on or you don’t like what’s going on, I take responsibility for that. Nolan [Ryan] and I will work very closely tougher. When it comes to baseball, I’m not going to interject my opinions. I love the game of baseball and I love talking baseball. If Nolan and JD [Jon Daniels] want to discuss something with me, they can, but I have complete faith and trust in the decisions that they make. I’ll be as involved as they wish me to be, but with complete faith and confidence in them.

Q: Why did you choose the Texas Rangers to make this purchase attempt? What was it about this team that interested you?

A: I think the Rangers are the perfect set of circumstances. It has a wonderful community that loves its sports. It deeply wants to believe in the Rangers, but hasn’t had an opportunity to have those dreams fully realized. They have an outstanding, young major league team and a great farm system. The baseball operation is tremendous. Four of the top 51 picks in the draft, which means an embarrassment of riches in terms of talent. But it’s a franchise that needs a little push and a little infusion of energy to help it connect in a way where the whole is more than the sum of the impressive parts. Hopefully that’s what we’re going to be able to do. All of the elements to have a great, great franchise are here. It just needs a little push and direction to get there.

Q: Where do you think this team’s payroll should be?

A: That depends. If you have a veteran team, the payroll is different than a younger team. You have to be able to scout and develop well and have a pipeline of prospects and then as they grow into outstanding players, you have to have the resources to keep them. The idea is not to be a farm team where you just have good young players and they reach a certain level and they go on to play in New York or Boston.

In a market like the Metroplex, the resources are here. We have to do a better job of cultivating that support. Is there one payroll figure that makes sense? No. I just think it depends on the circumstances. We have to be in position to continue to add the pieces and be a championship club and make sure it stays that way.

There’s a lot of say-nothing stuff in there, generic PR-type answers, but he’s saying a few things between the lines: he’s gonna leave the decisions to the front office; the team has a lot of good things developing in the minors and the market is ripe.  I don’t like it when players, managers and owners speak in public relations vagueries–it’s so painfully obvious and you’re not providing anything new, so why even talk?  But there was some decent insight here and there from Greenberg.

On a sidenote, though, not very good questions asked, although I don’t know if you can ask really good questions to a guy who isn’t even the owner yet.

Anyway.

On the flipside of that coin is the interview Dejan Kovacevic, of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, held with Pirates Owner Bob Nutting.  Dejan is a very good beat reporter, honest and hard-working and almost never biased–probably one of the best in the business.

In this Q and A, he poses some good questions to Nutting and gets some excellent (albeit a bit self-promotional) answers in return.

Q: Can we expect to see accountability beyond changing the roster?

A: I think, just as you saw accountability at the player level last year, ultimately, my job is very simple: It’s to set the level of expectation to win games in Pittsburgh, period. And my tool to do that is to hold people accountable to reach this goal.

I think I’ve done that effectively so far, and I believe everyone in the organization understands that the expectation is high.

Q: When you see some of these prospects about to come up — Pedro Alvarez, Jose Tabata, Brad Lincoln — what’s your view of the talent pool that could be in Pittsburgh at some point in 2010?

A: Clearly, we have more depth, more options. And what I’m thrilled about is that Neal has the time and opportunity to make good baseball decisions to be able to pull people up when it’s appropriate to the player’s development.

Do we have enough talent?

Absolutely not.

We need another great draft. We’ve had two good ones, and we need to do it again. And again and again. With international signings, we need to keep our focus on that ball, as well. We need to continue to bring in talent at the bottom every way we possibly can, so those options are available in 2010 and, hopefully, those choices become more and more difficult every year.

A: But I think we’ve shown good discipline in building this 2010 team, in that there is lots of flexibility that [Pirates General Manager] Neal [Huntington] still has. He’s building the team that he thinks will perform best for the coming year but also can still succeed going forward.

Q: So, Neal can spend more than what we see right now?

A: Absolutely.

Q: Why not, some might say, just take some heat off yourself and have a $50 million-$55 million payroll?

A: Well, what I really believe is that we’ve put in place an orderly, systematic plan, and the last thing we can do is divert from that plan or change it, as I’ve seen done before in Pittsburgh and with other clubs. I believe that the decisions being made are giving the team the best opportunity to compete this year, as well as going forward. I don’t want to do anything that handicaps that.

Q: You can understand where the general public can look at the payroll with frustration?

A: Again, I understand the focus on that single number. I also strongly believe that is not the right indicator for organization performance or strength. You need to look at our commitments top to bottom, the foundation we’ve built.

I really like Nutting.  Here’s hoping they’re back in the NL Central hunt in two years.

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Changes

Keeping the current format and everything, but I think it’s time for a new focus: we’re talking about baseball around the league.  Obviously, it’ll be a little more West-focused, since I live in Los Angeles, but that shouldn’t stop me from talking about the Pirates or AL Central as equally.

Welcome back to Dinger’s.

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