Let it all out, Bucs fans


You’re angry about the Jason Bay trade, aren’t you? Or, do you think it will ultimately help turn around the franchise? Stunned? Surprised? Elated? Honked-the-freak-off?

My e-mail inbox is buzzing, and the trade’s only a few hours old. Time to vent, folks. Let me hear it …

Can’t wait to see how many suckers waste their time & money to go see this pathetic excuse for a professional sports franchise. Don’t think I”ve been this angry, frustrated, depressed since Lind’s error, or when Sid Bream beat the throw.

– Mario

Most of the players the Pirates picked up in the (Nady and Bay) trades were born in the early fall of 1983, which makes them about 25. Aren’t guys who are around 25 and still at Class AAA or AA not really destined to be impact big leaguers?

– Mort Davis

Another crappy deal.

– Bob Cyphers

Are you freaking kidding me? This trumps the Nady/Marte trade. If the Pirates weren’t the laughing stock of baseball (before), they are now. Not only do they have to shed the title of “perennial loser,” but you can add “SUCKER” when it comes to trading, too. It’s a slap to the face to every loyal Buccos fan. (Adam) LaRoche wasn’t enough; we had to get his brother (Andy). Why do we need a third baseman? Are we not gonna sign Pedro Alvarez? I realize this mess wasn’t gonna be fixed overnight , but this past week has set us back another 16 years of losing. YIPPIE!

– Mario Lopez, Charlotte, NC

Bye-bye, Bay


Jason Bay almost stayed with the Pirates.

In the final minutes before Thursday’s 4 p.m. non-waiver trading deadline, the Pirates sent their standout left fielder to the Boston Red Sox as part of a blockbuster, three-team deal.

As part of the deal, tempermental outfielder Manny Ramirez goes to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Pirates get four players — third baseman Andy LaRoche, outfielder Brandon Moss and right-handed pitchers Craig Hansen (RHP) and Bryan Morris.

LaRoche is the younger brother of Pirates first baseman Adam LaRoche. Moss and Hason is from the Red Sox system.

LaRoche, Moss and Hansen will join the team Friday in Chicago, where the Pirates open a three-game series against the Cubs. Morris will be sent to Class A Hickory.

The deal came after talks among the Pirates, Red Sox and Florida Marlins collapsed. In the final hour, the Pirates were unable to come to terms with the Tampa Bay Rays on a Bay-for-prospects exchange.

Yesterday’s trade is the second major move by Pirates first-year general manager Neal Huntington. Last week, the Pirates dealt Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte to the New York Yankees for outfielder Jose Tabata and three minor league pitchers.

Of the 25 players on the opening-day roster, 11 will not be with the Pirates this afternoon when they take the field against the Chicago Cubs. That includes one player who was released (Matt Morris), three who are on the disabled list (Adam LaRoche, Matt Capps, Phil Dumatrait) and four who were sent to the minors (Tom Gorzelanny, Evan Meek, Nyjer Morgan, Ronny Paulino).

To restock a barren farm system, Huntington has received a total of eight prospects in two trades. The Pirates especially covet top-caliber pitching.

“That’s what we’ve desperately needed,” manager John Russell said. “We need to be able to help this team when things aren’t going well or when there are injuries. We need guys who can come up here, compete and stabilize the team a little bit.

“That’s been one of our goals from day one — to have a sustainable organization, not only here but throughout the system. That’s what Neal is putting together.”

The Pirates today begin a 11-day, 10-game road trip against four playoff contenders: the Chicago Cubs, Arizona Diamondbacks, Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets.

Russell hopes that putting recent acquisition Jeff Karstens to the rotation — he’ll make his Pirates debut this afternoon against the Cubs — and the eventual addition of Ross Ohlendorf, who also came in the Nady trade, will give the pitching staff time to regroup.

“It’s tough going through the stretch we’ve been on — we’d get a decent start, then not a decent start,” Russell said. “It’s taxing on your bullpen. It’s a rollercoaster for your offense as well.

Hopefully, we can get things settled and get a little bit of stability and consistency. On this road trip, we’re really going to need it.”

Deadline day


The Pirates will hold a press conference late this afternoon, probably around 4:30 p.m., to discuss what — if anything — they did at the non-waiver trade deadline. The deadline is 4 p.m.

The news, of course, will center on whether Jason Bay is dealt. Published reports have included him in scenarios involving the Red Sox, Rays and Marlins. The Padres chased after him last winter; will they make a late push?

Trib policy precludes me from publishing rumors or scenarios attributed to anonymous sources, even if those sources work for the Pirates. So as the minutes tick away up to 4 p.m., we’ll deal here with firm, confirmed reports.

This much is certain: the Pirates are listening to offers, and are playing possible trading partners — especially those who are in the same division — against each other to get the best deal. If something does go down, it likely would rank among the biggest trades in franchise history.

Stay tuned …

Pirates-Rockies starting lineups


Here are the starting lineups for the Rockies-Pirates game at 7:05 tonight at PNC Park. Jason Michaels is starting in right field, and Luis Rivas, one night after going 3 for 4 with three RBI, gets another start at second base. Zach Duke (4-8), winless in his past eight starts, goes against all-star right-hander Aaron Cook, who looks for his 14th win, which would tie him for the NL lead.

Rockies’ lineup – Willy Taveras, CF; Jeff Baker, 2B; Matt Holliday, LF; Garrett Atkins, 1B; Chris Iannetta, C; Troy Tulowitzki, SS; Clint Barmes, RF; Ian Stewart, 3B; Aaron Cook, P

Pirates’ lineup – Nate McLouth, CF; Luis Rivas, 2B; Ryan Doumit, C; Jason Bay, LF; Doug Mientkiewicz, 1B; Jason Michaels, RF; Jose Bautista, 3B; Zach Duke, P; Jack Wilson, SS


Starting lineups


The Pirates are missing two of their hottest hitters again tonight, with Adam LaRoche on the 15-day disabled list (ribcage) and second baseman Freddy Sanchez out with back spasms. Doug Mientkiewicz will make his second consecutive start at first base in place of LaRoche, who is one of the hottest hitters in the NL in July, batting .390 with seven home runs and 18 RBI. Luis Rivas will start at second.

Here are the starting lineups

Colorado – Willy Taveras, CF; Jeff Baker, 2B; Matt Holliday, LF; Brad Hawpe, RF: Garrett Atkins, 1B; Ian Stewart, 3B; Troy Tulowitzki, SS; Chris Iannetta, C; Glendon Rush, P

Pirates – Nate McLouth, CF; Luis Rivas, 2B; Ryan Doumit, C; Jason Bay, LF; Doug Mientkiewicz, 1B; Steve Pearce, RF; Jose Bautista, 3B; Yoslan Herrara, P; Jack Wilson, SS


LaRoche to DL


The Pirates have placed first baseman Adam LaRoche on the 15-day disabled list with a right strain of his ribcage muscle. Infielder Brian Bixler was recalled from Triple A-Indianapolis to take LaRoche’s place on the 25-man roster. Doug Mientkiewicz will make his second consecutive start at first base in place of LaRoche, who is one of the hottest hitters in the NL in July, batting .390 with seven home runs and 18 RBI. Also, second baseman Freddy Sanchez is out of the lineup for tonight’s 7:05 game with the Colorado Rockies at PNC Park. Sanchez, who suffered back spasms on Sunday, is out until at least Friday, manager John Russell said.


LaRoche, Sanchez out


Neither Adam LaRoche (strained ribcage muscle) nor Freddy Sanchez (lower back spasms) will be in the lineup tonight against Colorado.

LaRoche and Sanchez left the game early Sunday against San Diego. Sanchez said his back has been iffy for the past few days, and began acted up during pregame warmups. LaRoche was injured while swinging (and striking out) in the sixth inning.

Of the two injuries, LaRoche’s might be more serious. Both players will be re-examined today, and their status remains day-to-day. It’s a good bet neither player will be back until Wednesday at the earliest.

Lineups for tonight’s game against Colorado: Rockies — Taveras CF, Baker 2B, Holliday LF, Hawpe RF, Atkins 1B, Stewart 3B, Tulowitzky SS, Torrealba C, De Los Santos P

Pirates — McLouth CF, Wilson SS, Doumit C, Bay LF, Mientkiewicz 1B, Pearce RF, J. Bautista 3B, Snell P, Gomez 2B

The Rockies had considered using right-hander Jason Hirsch today, but opted instead for lefty Valerio De Los Santos — who has not started a game in the majors since 2000.


Communication is key


A handful of veteran players — Doug Mientkiewicz, Jason Michaels and others — had one-on-one meetings this morning with general manager Neal Huntington.

“It was out of respect to our veterans,” Huntington said. “We wanted to gather some of their thoughts and expectations moving forward. We believe in communicating with players, and making sure there is an open line of communication there. We feel it’s the right thing to do.”

Friday night, after news broke that Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte had been traded, Huntington and president Frank Coonelly made a brief, closed-door visit to the clubhouse. Huntington addressed the players for a few minutes — not to justify the deal or point fingers, but merely to explain the situation.

“A very classy move,” was how one player described it to me.

It’s not something the former regime would have done. That’s one reason why relations between players and management were often so sour the past few years.

This front office group has shown things will be different, and that’s a very promising sign.


Karstens is coming


Right-hander Jeff Karstens, who was acquired in the Xavier Nady trade, will join the Pirates on Monday. That will give the Pirates a full, 25-man roster.

Karstens will move into the starting rotation, replacing John Van Benschoten — whose days as a starter are over. Van Benschoten was sent to Triple-A Indianapolis, where he will work out of the bullpen from now on.

Righty Jason Davis, who today was called up from Indy, will initially work in long relief but could become a starter if Yoslan Herrera falters again.

Karstens could start Friday against the Chicago Cubs. However, with Thursday being an off day, the Pirates may shuffle their rotation.

Another new face


Another new face for the starting rotation.

Right-hander Jason Davis was called up today from Triple-A Indianapolis and will replace John Van Benschoten, who was optioned back to Indy. To clear space on the 40-man roster for Davis, righty Luis Munoz was designated for assignment.

In 21 games (20 starts) for Indy, Davis, 28, 6-9 with a 4.41 ERA.

Van Benschoten’s next turn in the rotation was supposed to be Friday in Chicago against the Cubs. However, the Pirates are off Thursday and might use the down time to re-work the rotation order.

Lineups for this afternoon’s series final against San Diego:

Padres: Hairston CF, E. Gonzalez 2B, A. Gonzalez, Kouzmanoff 3B, Headley LF, Bard C Greene SS, Ambers RF Peavy RHP

Pirates: Sanchez 2B, Mientkiewicz 3B, McLouth CF, Bay LF, Michales RF, Chavez C, Maholm LHP, Wilson SS.

Mientkiewicz has been getting a lot of playing time in the past few days. Are the Pirates showcasing him for a potential trade? This morning, Mientkiewicz and GM Neal Huntington had a one-on-one, closed-door chat in manager John Russell’s office.