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Wakeup Call: A day for baseball, Willie and … a win?

.

Brief and to the Point …

>> I want to start with this first.

Snapped this outside PNC Park really early this morning, or shortly after midnight depending on your perspective. (Was taking a late-night drive to blast some tunes. Don’t ask.)

The world’s best ballpark, still seeking its first winning season, opened 12 years ago. And, in looking at the above image or at the real statue tomorrow, I’ll never forget what happened that day and the effect it had on those of inside on that extraordinarily bittersweet occasion.

>> Newspapers across the country — and much of the world — subscribe to the Associated Press stylebook for consistency on names, titles, places, abbreviations and all kinds of other things.

According to the AP, today is opening day.

According to the Trib Total Media stylebook, today is Opening Day.

See, each paper also makes its own stylebook for local matters such as whether Green Tree is one word or two. (It’s two words for the city but one for the Marriott there, oddly.) Well, the Trib’s book also has its own entries on upper-casing holidays, and Opening Day gets upper-cased.

I’ve got to admit I wasn’t wild about that when I first learned. It’s not a holiday.

Or is it?

If we capitalize Presidents Day and don’t even know when it is, shouldn’t we look at the first day of baseball season — still our national pastime, at least in the semi-official sense — with the same level of import?

And what about the first day of deer-hunting season?

Or the first day of the Three Rivers Arts Festival that inevitably brings rain?

Baseball is a big deal, even somehow here in Pittsburgh after 19 lost seasons. The opener, in and of itself, has been a big deal all along. Sure, we’re an event town, and we’ll come to whatever event anyone decides to throw in great throngs, but the opener still had a special place in that. And the stunning first 3 1/2 months of last season illustrated that there’s much more to cull from the local fan base than just openers, fireworks and Styx shows. The city, for a brief but fabulous while, was totally into baseball. For the younger generation, it represented the first time in their lives.

I’m having a hard time coming up with a forecast for this season. Columnist Joe Starkey offers his in this morning’s paper. Mine’s a lot more muddled than that.

I have a hard time imagining the starting pitching being as strong as it was last season, but I’ve also seen all six of the Pirates’ guys get it done at various points in their careers. I have a hard time imagining the lineup doing much of anything, especially in the first month against a seemingly endless stream of Sandy Koufax types, but stranger things have happened.

Let’s just resort to math. Baseball is great in going by the numbers. I’ll say that a leap from 72-90 to the holy grail of 82-80 is unlikely, though not impossible. After all, the team last year did improve by 15 games despite one of the great free falls in the sport’s history.

I’ll take 79-83, matching the Freak Show of 1997. It’s as close as the Pirates have come in these 19 years, so that’s not bad.

Besides, imagine how crushing it would be to go, say, 80-82.

I’ll see some of you over at the ballpark today, and I’ll hopefully see a few others on our weekly chat, which will be at its usual noon time live from the PNC Park press box at 37,000 feet.

>> Here’s the chat link.

>> Oh, and here’s a video preview of the Pirates’ season that Rob Biertempfel and I did yesterday.

Comments

  1. PigLegs Robinson says:

    Oh come on, the Trib doesn’t know how to spell the name of Pedro Alvarez? It’s not Alverez, as the headline reads. Next they’ll be writing about Alex Pressley.

    DK: I just caught that. It’s already been fixed. Just takes some time to cycle through the system. It’s not a matter of not knowing how to spell it. It’s a typo, an accident.

  2. RRRwx says:

    I want to be optimistic, thinking that the strides made in the first half of last year will carry over to this season. I believe that young players, McCutchen, Walker, Tabata, to name a few, will continue to improve at the major league level. But it is hard to get past one truth, that may well impact the whole season. April’s schedule. MLB must really dislike the Pirates plopping down that lineup. I seem to remember Buster Olney tweeting awhile back something similar. If the Pirates can survive the first month, this could be a very exciting summer. But if the losses pile up, it will likely be to deep of a hole to dig out of.

  3. David says:

    Haha, I don’t know about the Trib handbook, but growing up in Fayette Co. and going to school there definitely made the First Day of Deer Season a capitalized holiday that got you a day off from school

  4. RobertoForever says:

    Love the improvement prediction, DK!

    I was thinking in the line of +5 wins, so 77-85.

    I think the team will struggle early as they battle the league scheduler as well as some bitter Pirate fans.

    But I also think this FO is buying at the trade deadline.

    I don’t think I will be able to sleep.

    #LetsGoBucs #BUCN

  5. Derek says:

    How many more losing seasons before we don’t have to capitalize Pirates anymore?

  6. PigLegs Robinson says:

    I know, I’m just playing with you. (and those who insist spelling it Alex ‘Pressley’).

    DK: One thing about the Trib staff, including copy editors and editors: They love sports. If you see a mistake — and you will; we’re human — I can assure you it will be an accident rather than something born of ignorance.

  7. PigLegs Robinson says:

    I’m expecting no less than 80 wins this year. I can handle going 80-82, it doesn’t break the streak but it looks way better than anything I’ve seen in a long while.

  8. lasedog8 says:

    Opening Day is definitely be a holiday in my book. Unfortunately, I don’t think the buccos will improve much upon last years record, despite a weakened division. I just don’t see a lot of improvement in their line-up. If Alvarez doesn’t hit I’m not sure they will make it to last year’s win total.

  9. radio wave says:

    Mlb over hockey, that’s where my heart is today.
    Feels like a 77-85 season.

  10. Skilliemischief says:

    It definitely FEELS like a holiday to me! Takin a 1/2 day at work to come home and watch the game! I’m always overly optimistic this time of yr. but this time I actually BELIEVE we can be in the mix. LET’S GO BUCS!!

  11. 0 = Opening Day!!

    Today is a day of celebration and baseball! Opening Day!! Life is sweet!!

    If anyone cares about an end to the social discussion on misogyny and Monday’s icky, gooey stuff, a lengthy answer was posted around 9:15 last night on the previous thread. I do not care to bring it to this day of celebration, but it’s there if you wish to imbibe.

    “PLAY BALL!!!”

  12. Dave G in Liberty Township, OH says:

    I’ll chime in with an 80-82 season for the Bucs. Just enough to tease, yet continue the heartbreak of losing.

    Couple more years till real success, I believe.

    But I’m so ready to enjoy the ride…

  13. Dave G in Liberty Township, OH says:

    ’till’ is a typo, by the way…

  14. JayH says:

    Prediction time.

    Pirates will start 4-10 and everyone will be killing them. It won’t get much better in April. But they will claw their way back during the summer and make a five game improvement on their 2011 record. 77-85. Alvarez will be sent down in early May and will continue his struggles.

    Biggest Surprise – Tabata finally puts it all together and stays healthy.
    Biggest Disappointment – Alvarez
    Boldest Prediction – McCutchen finishes top five in mvp voting and Burnett wins 15.

  15. Dave G in Liberty Township, OH says:

    Pedro could win best improvement and still be the biggest disappointment.

  16. JAL says:

    JAL’s Ain’t Misbehavin’ Morning Links

    GENERAL DAILY UPDATED BASEBALL SITES

    1- MLB Transactions

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/pittsburgh_pirates/

    3 Go Buccos- Pirate News (from external sources)

    http://gobuccos.com/pittsburgh-pirate-news/

    PIRATE BLOGS

    4—Pirates Prospects

    Pittsburgh Pirates Extended Spring Training Roster

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/04/pittsburgh-pirates-extended-spring-training-roster.html

    2012 Indianapolis Indians Season Preview

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2012/04/2012-indianapolis-indians-season-preview.html

  17. Cocktailsfor2 says:

    Is it game time yet?

  18. JAL says:

    5 Bucs Dugout

    In Defense Of Marlins Park

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2012/4/4/2926522/marlins-park-miami-uniforms

    6 Rumbunter

    $100 Cash for the Pittsburgh Pirates Opening Day Photo Contest Winner

    http://rumbunter.com/2012/04/04/100-cash-for-the-pittsburgh-pirates-opening-day-photo-contest-winner/

    Parking and Traffic Information for the 2012 Pittsburgh Pirates Opener

    http://rumbunter.com/2012/04/03/parking-and-traffic-information-for-the-2012-pittsburgh-pirates-opener/

    7 McEffect

    Big Players, Big Contracts, and the Pittsburgh Pirates

    http://www.mceffect.com/2012/04/big-players-big-contracts-and.html

    8 WHYGAVS

    Can the ‘B Sharps’ be good enough this year?

    http://whygavs.com/pittsburgh-pirates/april-2012/can-the-b-sharps-be-good-enough-this-year.html

    9 The Green Weenie

    Roster Set

    http://oldbucs.blogspot.com/2012/04/roster-set.html

    10 Hyzdu Headquarters

    Two Keys to the Rotation

    http://hyzduhq.blogspot.com/2012/04/two-keys-to-rotation.html

  19. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    20 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Some Teams Just Never Make it Over the Super Bowl Hump

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/4/4/2925757/some-teams-just-never-make-it-over-the-super-bowl-hump

    Week 3 Film Review: Big Play Focus Leads To Wallace TD, Three Turnovers

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/4/4/2924620/nfl-week-3-2012-steelers-at-colts-mike-wallace-dwight-freeney-jonathan-scott

    21 Steelers Depot

    - Coby Fleener Dark Horse 1st Round Option

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2012/04/coby-fleener-a-dark-horse-option-in-the-first-round-for-the-pittsburgh-steelers/

    22 Steelers Gab

    Seriously?! Joe Flacco Proclaims Himself the NFL’s Best QB

    http://www.steelersgab.com/2012/04/04/seriously-joe-flacco-proclaims-himself-the-nfls-best-qb/

  20. JAL says:

    Pitt Blogs

    23 Pitt Blather

    Recognizing the Issues

    http://www.pittblather.com/2012/04/04/recognizing-the-issues/

    24 Cardiac Hill

    Former Pitt Player Orlando Antigua Duquesne Frontrunner?

    http://www.cardiachill.com/2012/4/4/2923843/duquesne-coaching-search-basketball-pitt-pittsburgh-panthers-orlando-antigua-keith-dambrot

    WVU Blogs

    25 Metro News

    Shaking Off The Rust On Day Seven

    http://www.wvmetronews.com/wvu.cfm?func=displayfullstory&storyid=51969

    26 WV Illustrated

    Former WVU Star Making Push for Midseason Promotion

    http://www.wvillustrated.com/story/17330608/former-wvu-star-making-strong-case-for-midseason-promotion

  21. JAL says:

    PENGUIN BLOGS

    26 Pensburgh

    4/4 Penguins Power Rankings

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2012/4/4/2925042/4-4-penguins-power-rankings

    Soccer(football)

    27 Sky Sports

    Chelsea book Barcelona date

    http://www.skysports.com/football/match_report/0,,11065_3500346,00.html

    28 World Soccer Daily

    World Soccer Daily: 10 stories you need to read, 4th April, 2012

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/247/world-soccer-daily-10-stories-you-need-to-read-4th-april-2012

  22. JAL says:

    Title Song, Ain’t Misbehavin, 1929 Written by Fats Waller,Harry Brooks and Andy Razaf, this is a recording by Fats Waller. The song is a classic, recorded by Anita O’Day, Nat King Cole, Bill Haley, Louis Armstrong, Frankie Laine, Leon Redbone, Rod Stewart, and many others.

  23. Jandy says:

    Groat ~ I gave you a brief reply to your misogny post last night…later than 10pm lol. Then I went to bed and crashed.

  24. Dave G in Liberty Township, OH says:

    Addressing the lamenting by many of a tough early schedule:

    Does it really matter? When you are the Pittsburgh Pirates, almost every team is better than you…

  25. Jandy says:

    Groat, again, regarding your airplane post yesterday, just make sure Milbury and Madden are on it! ;X

  26. TJA says:

    Rogers Hornsby ~ ~ “People ask me what I do during the winter when there is no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do…I sit and stare out the window and wait for spring”.

    The day has arrived. Happy Opening Day Everyone!

  27. Lee says:

    #22 seems much ado about nothing.

    sheesh.

    .

  28. Lee says:

    TJA…I always love hearing that quote.

    Foo

  29. Jandy says:

    Flacco? LMAO, what a riot! Big ego…small…brain ;)

  30. Lee says:

    Had to laugh at GI’s Pedro quote in that Alvarez article:

    First baseman Garrett Jones said Alvarez looks better and has made progress the past few weeks.

    “He’s taken better under-control swings and having a great approach up there, laying off some tough pitches, and he’s definitely made progress from the beginning of spring to the end. He looks ready to go,” Jones said. “He’s definitely a huge part of our lineup and a guy who can step up and do tons of damage.”

    He’ll do damage to our offense alright….THAT part I agree with.

    ..

  31. TJA says:

    Thanks Lee. It’s a classic anytime, but for this day, for sure.

  32. jefft says:

    Don’t normally say a lot on here, but I think that 77-85 record sounds about right. Burnett & Bedard win 15 each, Karstens 10. Biggest wildcard(s) might be Morton & McDonald. What if Morton puts his “stuff” together & McDonald improves over last year? Might be interesting, though Dejan’s right…80-82 would be crushing.

  33. Lee says:

    jefft……good comment….don’t be a stranger….
    :)

  34. Stuart says:

    83 and 79 from an eternal optimist, and of course one who is proven wrong year in and year out. Bedard and Burnett will make a big difference. I think it’s much more likely that Pedro will have a “middlin” season rather that the big bust or big boom that most are predicting. Let’s say .260 and 19-20 HR. Not good enough to be the man, but not bad enough to be in Indy. I also think we have some better insurance for injuries this year. Also, wouldn’t it be nice if Matt Hague is for real?
    Stuart

  35. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Loved Garrett Jones’ assessment of Pedro. I like Garrett as a person and a player, but this from a guy who hit .232, struck out 20 times himself in ST and hit .242 last season. Great endorsement for Pedro. Like Barry Bonds saying how nice Mark McGuire looks when he’s off the stuff.

    Damage assessment Foo is spot on.

  36. JohninOshkosh says:

    With apologies to JAL, a link to the greatest baseball movie scene of all time. The iconic scene was filmed a couple of good three iron shots away from my wife’s childhood farm near pastoral Dyersville, Iowa.

    As the great sportswriter Thomas Boswell eloquently observed, “Time Begins on Opening Day.” Greatest day of the year, indeed.

  37. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Great one, John.

  38. TJA says:

    It’s so hard, of course, to predict what will happen and what kind of record the Pirates will have. Anyone for that matter. Heck, who would have thought that St Louis would be defending champs? But, that’s the point…we just never know in sports what we will see..yea yea…that’s why they play the games…all 162 of them. An important number to me, as DK pointed out, is the plus 15 wins. We saw *some* improvement for sure. They did not finish in last place in how many years either? Houston is bad….really bad. They deserved and earned last place, just like the Pirates did for so many years before that. With Hurdle in his second campaign now, the players know what to expect and Hurdle knows what he has talent wise, also. So, all that being said I am not going to give a number, but I think they will not get to .500, but really close. They will build on last year’s plus 15 wins. It great to be talking baseball again.

  39. Jandy says:

    This is sad indeed…not that I’m an Islander fan, but Pat LaFontaine deserves better from the NYI:
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304023504577319912036433148.html?mod=wsj_share_tweet_bot

  40. Jandy says:

    OshKoshB’Gosh, that is classic…priceless!

  41. JMB says:

    I’ll say 67-95.

    Hanny will be traded for Trumbo.

    Those are my two predictions for today.

  42. NMR says:

    Great find, Jandy.

    Simply an incredible display of narcissism from Wang and Milbury(shocking). Talk about two people who are meant for each other.

  43. mayhay22 says:

    @TJA – Love that quote as well.

    I really, really want to be optimistic about the season but my rational mind won’t let me believe that the 25 we’ve brought north stand a chance at approaching 82 wins. I’ll go with 69-93. Not enough offense, especially from the corner infielders. Too much uncertainty with SP, and even if they all pitch to their potential (not likely) they’re still not a great staff.

    That said, I couldn’t be more excited about OPENING DAY! (I wonder if the AP agrees with Drew about ALL CAPS)

  44. bob hasis says:

    I haven’t read that Huntington and Hurdle have sprinkled some “magical powder” on the Pirates nor have they developed a “miracle elixir” to drink before each game. Having said that I reviewed the Opening Day roster with a wide range of questions and doubts, with none of my usual free-flowing optimism.
    Here are my guarantees for 2012; 1) The Pirates will be lucky to average 2 wins per week, 2) Barajas and Barmes will achieve far less than Doumit and Cedeno, 3) the starting pitching will be the worst in the majors, making a reasonably good bullpen over-worked and thus rendering them less capable, 4) ALVAREZ will remain a big O, and 5) Hurdle’s colloquial and usually trite cliches will wear even more thin before Memorial Day.
    Outside of this, PLAY BALL and let’s get it on.

  45. Jandy says:

    NMR, I thought the same thing. Can no one else see this??? It’s mind-boggling.

  46. cosmo says:

    “Put me in Coach, I’m ready to play, TODAY”

    over and underon the upcoming season:

    wins o/u 75 ——- over
    Cutch steals o/u30 —– under
    pedro K’s o/u 175 ——– over
    Karstens wins o/u 12—–under
    hanrahan saves o/u 42—-over
    hanrahan blown saves o/u 6—–under
    pedro HR o/u 20—– over

    just one mans thoughts

  47. Oshkosh b’gosh,
    Tears running down my face as I watched it . . . . . how’d they get there? I don’t know; but there they are!

    I love baseball!

    Good get, Oshkosh b’gosh! I’ve pitched to my son and daughter on that field.

  48. JohninOshkosh says:

    Oh, my prediction:

    On the penultimate game of the season, Jeff Karstens throws the franchise’s first perfect game, and first no-no since Cordova/Rincon, to bring the team’s record to 81-80. The next day, October 3, on a cold sun splashed afternoon at PNC, the Pirates eliminate the Bravos from the playoffs in the finale to finish 82-80.

    Really, in my mind, I have the Pirates winning the World Championship but, hey, I gotta be realistic.

  49. JAL says:

    off to Morgantown for the weekend but as long as I can get a connection the morning links will continue.

    Predicting 83-79 just because I can

    Have a great opening day.

    Beat em Bucs!

  50. Naje says:

    Anyone tiring of the Alvarez stories like the one written by the AP in today’s Trib? I don’t care anymore what he’s done; how he feels; or what the players see from him.

    I want a clear analysis of why he is nearly incapable of putting a bat on the ball. It’s like the Steve Blass disease for hitters.

    My two cents: he doesn’t trust the instruction he’s been given.

    I’ve given up on him as the savior of the team UNLESS AND UNTIL he proves worthy. No use spending time wishing, hoping, worrying that he’ll come around until he actually does. He’s got a long road ahead of him… wishing him the best, but not losing sleep over him.

  51. Jandy says:

    OshKoshB’Gosh, I really like your movie…especially the no-no. Are you the director? ;)

    Naje, I was tired of the excuses/passes/etc. for PA about 3 weeks ago.

  52. NMR says:

    @Naje

    Lost in the Joey Votto and Matt Cain mega contracts was the recent 4 yr extension of Alex Gordon with Kansas City.

    Gordon struggled for four years along the same basic path as Pedro. He was called a bust, uncoachable, not talented…sound familiar?

    One hitting coach connected the dots and it produced his breakout season last year. He’s now a rich man and KC has a legit all star candidate, middle of the lineup 3rd baseman.

    Concrete proof that 1) Hitting coaches do matter, and 2) Mental game usually improves when you start, you know, hitting the ball.

    Note that this improvement was made without the help of a veteran player getting in his face and giving him the come-to-jesus talk.

  53. JohninOshkosh says:

    Thanks, Jandy.

    Thanks, Groat. “…for it is money they have and peace they lack…” Beautiful line-tears me up every time. As far as I know, that field is still open. Recommend it to everyone.

  54. JohninOshkosh says:

    Great posts Naje and NMR, good stuff.

  55. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Lets play two! (No I’m not really Ernie Banks).

  56. Naje says:

    @NMR–

    Failure, for a person who has had a lot of success in their profession, can make that person repeat their mistakes or try new things.

    I think Alvarez got an overhaul of his swing last year with Hurdle. I think those lessons have taken a long time to take root, partly because of injury and partly because of ego.

    Gordon had no more choices. Four years of struggle seemed to wear down his defenses and helped lead him to an approach that worked.

    By no means am I giving up on Alvarez….just not expecting anything tangible from him until he actually starts producing. He’s in a deep, deep slump…he’s got to figure out a way to get out of it, or trust those who are helping him get out of it.

    I’ll be pulling for him.

  57. JohninOshkosh says:

    cosmo-where do I book my bets?

  58. PetroSteel says:

    I see improvement across the board (Pitching, hitting, bench) and the young core guys taking a step forward.

    They break the streak 83 wins!

  59. Lee says:

    NMR…For every Gordon, there are 10 Hermansons, Brandon Woods, Alex Martes, etc.

    .

  60. radio wave says:

    Johninoskosh:
    The Field of Dreams is a joy. I know it was recently sold. I hope the new owners keep it the way it has always been. A wonderful experience, I recommend anyone and everyone go to eastern Iowa and experience it.

  61. tmp444 says:

    I still remember being 9 years old and crying myself to sleep after Sid Bream slid across home plate……

    ….about 4 years later I went to a baseball camp in the South Hills and Bream was the guest speaker on the last day. He passed out these blue t-shirts and, on the back, was a screened image of him sliding across home plate and Spanky LaValliere flopping around to try to tag him. Underneath the picture was a quote from the Book of Isaiah, and I remember thinking to myself: “God just isn’t a Pirate fan.”

    64-98.

  62. CWalton_67 says:

    So, Opening Day? Sorry, I just can’t find it in myself to care. I want to, even have purchased the audio package so I can listen on-line, but honestly, unless they come up with some wins early, which is unlikely, as DK pointed out, I’ll tune out quickly. Hurdle, Morton, Burnett, Hanrahan and Cutch are interesting. I am pulling for Neil Walker because he’s the hometown boy, is clutch, and seems like a nice kid to boot. But they have to win, and it seems very unlikely that they are going to do that. Seriously hope they prove me wrong though.

    Good luck, Bucs.

    Go Pens.

  63. NMR says:

    @Naje

    The only point I’ll disagree with is on Pedro’s perceived ego. I’ve never met the guy in my life, so I could be completely wrong…

    But Pedro Alverez could hit a baseball better than anyone he knew throughout his entire life, and he did it his way. He even had success at the major league level swinging the bat the way he taught himself.

    Now look at his swing today. SOMEBODY has changed that. In my mind, egotistical would be swinging the bat the same way and expecting different results.

    The man is clearly open to trying new approaches. His natural power and ability is unquestioned. To me, this situation sets up EXACTLY like Alex Gordon. Just gotta make it click.

    @Foo – there are no absolutes in baseball, my friend. Doesn’t mean you quit trying.

  64. Lee says:

    NMR…never said he should quit trying….I just wouldn’t get my hopes up…realistically, he’s running towards Bustville. He ain’t there yet, but..

    .

  65. The Ghost of Bob Kipper says:

    Lots of talk about what is success for the Bucs, and a lot of focus on wins. While I agree that at the end of the day a team is measured by it’s won/loss record, in terms of improvement I will consider this season successful if the following happen:

    1) Pedro Alvarez can:
    hit his weight
    not lead the league in errors at his position
    get at least 350 abs

    2) The starting pitching staff can be effective, within the normal context of their ability, for the entire season. No repeat of hitting the wall collectively in July.

    3) The team has no prolonged losing streaks, such as the 10 game stretch they had in 2011.

    4) They are competitive every game, and become a legitimate concern for their opponents. Become team that opponents need to gameplan against.

    5) Reduce/eliminate the mental errors, offensively and defensively that make them look like a AA team instead of major leaguers.

    6) They have no legitimate 30+ home run hitters, so they better run run run run. This team, especially with the speed they have at the top of the order, should be leading the majors in steals.

    As a team if they accomplish these things, regardless of their won/loss record, by my lights, will be having a successful season.

    Breakout player of the year: Jeff Karstens will be an all-star this year.

  66. mayhay22 says:

    On Alvarez, the talent is there, but the results have been awful recently. At some point, something could click and he could turn into the .260/30/100 guy we’ve all expected since draft day. His best bet is to follow the advice of Crash Davis…”Don’t think, kid, it can only hurt the ballclub.” Just let the natural talent flow.

  67. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Ghost,

    I saw Bob Kipper, very much alive, as pitching coach in a low-A game in Bowling Green, KY a couple years ago. My son reminded me of his nickname, “Round-Trip Kipper” so we didn’t ask him for an autograph. DK doesn’t recommend that anyway. Can’t remember the team he was a coach for, but wasn’t the Rays or Bucs. Might have been Boston or San Diego.

    You sound more astute than Bob, anyway.

  68. RobertoForever says:

    DK,

    I have to call BS on Joe Starkey’s column. His first mistake was believing that the ‘mothership’ would have a unbiased analysis of any MLB team. If it doesn’t have NYY, BOS, LAD or one or two other set of initials, they MAIL it in.

    Case in point -

    Quote from Joe from ESPN – “Barmes is one of the worst regulars in baseball … his .297 on-base percentage the past six seasons combined is ninth-worst among players with 2,000-plus plate appearances”

    Barmes had an OBP of .305 and .312 the last two years. So does that mean he is improving?

    Wow, so we must have gotten a real downgrade from Cedeno huh? Ronnie had OBP of .293 and .297 the last two seasons. Wonder what his OBP was the last 6 years in comparison to Barmes?

    Barmes – 2000+ PA the last 6 years, .297 OBP
    Cedeno – 2220 PA the last 6 years, .282 OBP

    Wait, WHAT? Barmes was “9th-worst” – Cedeno must have been THE worst.

    Cedeno has an OBP of 15 pts below Barmes. Doesn’t that mean we have improved, even if slightly? Maybe it was the defense of Cedeno that was better? Cedeno – .978 and .969 Fldg % last two years with 13 and 18 errors. Barmes – .978 and .980 fldg % with 12 and 10 errors. Again – seems like an improvement. It should be noted that Barmes was listed as a Type B free agent (meaning he is in the 2nd best tier of quality of players in MLB) and Cedeno didn’t qualify as having value as a free agent. Ronnie also signed for a 33% discount off his last years salary. I wish him luck.

    Who else could the Pirates have signed? The 2 best free agents were Jimmy Rollins and Jose Reyes. Rollins was a Free Agent in name only, he resigned with Philly. Jose Reyes? Even if we wanted to take a flyer on an oft-injured Reyes, we would have been outbid by Miami.

    So if you look at Type B free agents – Barmes, Betancourt, Furcal, Gonzalez, Scutaro.

    The Pirates did pay the 2nd highest per year amount (Furcal – 2-yr $14mil to re-sign w/ Cards, 14 & 19 E’s, .964 and .954 fldg % – Oh and he batted .231 w/ a .298 OBP) The rest of the guys are no better than Barmes. (feel free to make a compelling case, if you can for scutaro, et al)

    Please, someone, tell me who was so much better that the FO should have signed? If you don’t sign Reyes, should they still not try to pick who they think fits best and provides some improvement?

    The approach on ESPN with respect to McGehee was the same – find the worst stat and project his season based on that 1 stat, ignoring many others that point to improvement over last year, and a regression to the mean. (PS – I am not sure on this Barmes is 9th-worst – quick looks at AGonz and Betancourt and some other SS who were significantly worse than .297 OBP, and they must ALL be shortstops and below Barmes for him to be 9th-worst).

    But then again, pessismists and those whose perceptions are colored through the pinstripe glasses of bitterness, will always be able to find a stat to nitpick, regardless of whether it agrees with the overall consensus view.

    ok – rant over

    2 hours until we can cheer and wince and cheer and wince again – Nothing like it in sports.

    #LetsGoBucs #BUCN

  69. TJA says:

    great posts today everyone. only 115 minutes until the first pitch…

  70. Jandy says:

    YOu guys have me all hyped up for first day/first pitch =)

  71. Pattonbb says:

    Opening Day is a holiday. Those that do not celebrate it don’t know what they’re missing. And never will.

    Here’s my take on a few predictions –
    1. Bucs win 75 games this year, with no 10 game losing streaks.
    2. Pedro starts hearing boo’s at home before April leaves us, but puts two balls in the river.
    3. Bedard dazzles before spending 60 days on the dl.
    4. The bullpen continues to be a strength.
    5. Timely hitting continues to be a weakness. Although I think the bench will be improved.
    6. Matt Hague becomes a starter sometime after the All-Star break.
    7. Walker joins Cutch at the All-Star game.
    8. Tabata and Jones get dealt.
    9. Pirates enter 2013 as everyones so-called “sleeper team to watch”. The losing streak ends at 20.

    PLAY BALL!!!!

  72. TJA says:

    Hey Patton…Amen on your comment re: Opening Day being a holiday. Always has…always will. Now, if Congress wants to do something right…they make it official so we can all have the day off! Although, it’s also fun to play hooky from work/school and go to the games.

 
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