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MLB Network was in Bradenton, Fla., On Monday filming 30 clubs in 30 days, which will air Tuesday at 11 PM ET. On MLB Tonight, they discussed the Pirates and previewed the show which filmed at McKechnie Field.
Lisa Kearney chatted with All-Star Evan Meek, who they referred to as, “one of the men that will be counted on to help finish off games.”
Lisa Kearney: “You’re coming off an all-star season, relief pitchers keep themselves ready in different ways. How do you keep yourself ready to go?”
Evan Meek: “Last year I was just keeping the same routine. Just trying to do the same thing everyday. Relief pitching, you don’t know when your really going to go out there. It’s not like a starter, where, you know you’re going to be out there every fifth day. So, for me, it’s just doing the same thing everyday. Making sure I get my lifting in when I can. It’s all based kind of on what you did the night before. If you have a quick inning, you can work out, you can get something done. But if you go out there and throw 30, 40 pitches in an inning, you’re probably going to want to take that day off, that night off to recover for the next day.”
Kearney: “How would you describe your personality on the mound?”
Meek: “You know, I’m kind of a jokester off the field. I like to have fun. Once I get on the mound I’m really serious. It’s kind of a ‘get in and get out’…I want to have a quick inning.”
Kearney: “Do you envision yourself as a full time closer at a certain point in your career?”
Meek: “Yeah. Absolutely. I think any relief pitcher in the bullpen, would like to close games. I don’t know if anyone would just be content with being a sixth, seventh inning guy. But you know what? Some guys are better suited for that role. Last year I was sixth-seventh, seventh-eighth — I did a lot of things last year. I think ultimately I would like to be a stopper at some point in my career. I think that’s something to strive for and that would be a great challenge.”
The analysts discussed the impact Manager Clint Hurdle can bring to the club:
Harold Reynolds: “A lot. The No. 1 thing is a positive direction to head these guys in. He’s been there before. Clint Hurdle Managed eight years in Colorado with the Rockies. The Rockies were a brand new franchise, he was a minor league hitting coach, ascended to the managing ranks. So he’s been through a rebuild before. The biggest thing going through a re-building team or a struggle is you have to have that front runner, lead guy, being positive. A lot of negative things are going to happen. I think Clint Hurdle’s positive impact will have a major influence on this organization.”
Jacque Jones (Guest Analyst): “He’s got a lot of energy too, Harold. He’s got some good, young players to work with. He’s got Jose Tabata. He’s got Neil Walker. He’s got Andrew McCutchen. You know, guys like that, they can turn the franchise around. With some good starting pitching. They’ve got some great arms in the bullpen. They can turn this program around.”
Matt Yallof commented on McCutchen’s energy, saying, “You watch him play –you want to go out from your television and you want to start playing. He’s so energetic.”
Jones: “He’s all over the place. He’s a great five tool player. He can hit, he can hit for power. He’s fast –he’s really fast. He get’s that team going.”
Mitch Williams: “I’ve said this many times on our air, I would pay money to go watch McCutchen play the game. There are very few people that I’ve seen in my career that are that fun to watch. He’s one of them…Clint is going to be patient to a point, but I think he is going to demand these guys demand the most out of themselves. Being content with losing is not going to fly. They have to get past that ‘we’re expected to lose faze’. Once this organization gets past that, ‘losing is accepted here in Pittsburgh’, they will be on the way and headed in the right direction.”
Reynolds: “If I’m a college kid or high school kid sitting out there and I’m draft eligible, I’m saying ‘draft me in Pittsburgh’. I’m serious. You’re going to get to the big leagues quick. They’ve spent more money than anybody in the minor league systems the last three years, trying to rebuild this system.”
*Photo credit: (Meek) Tribune-Review, (Hurdle) Yahoo! Sports
- Steve Pearce has been getting workouts at third base this year. During the 2010 season, Pearce played five games at third with the Triple-A Indians –the only time he’s played that position since college.
Pearce has been working out at third, right field and first base to become a more utility guy in hopes of making the Pirates roster.
“It definitely is a boost because they see it,” Pearce said. “They see how hard I work. They see I have good hands and footwork. For me, being a guy who’s been in Triple-A in parts of the past four years, this gives me a better chance to stick in the big leagues.”
“It’s been an easy transition because I played (third) in college,” Pearce said. “I’m comfortable over there. I just have to get my reps so it becomes a little bit easier getting reads on hops and stuff like that.”
- Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated and MLB Network reports that the Pirates offered Carl Pavano two years/ $13 million this offseason before he decided to re-sign with the Minnesota Twins.
Charlie Morton will be starting on Saturday against the Tampa Bay Rays David Price in Port Charlotte in the Grapefruit league opener. Morton will pitch two innings, followed by Brad Lincoln who will also pitch two innings.
This gives the staff a good look at both starters who are in the running for the 5th spot in the rotation.
They will be followed by Chris Resop, Daniel Moskos, Daniel McCutchen and Justin Thomas/Cesar Valdez
- Kevin Correia will start at McKechnie Field on Sunday against James Shields.
- On Monday it is a split squad; Bryan Morris will start for the Pirates against the Rays in Port Charlotte. The Bucs will face the Baltimore Orioles in Bradenton but the starters have not yet been announced.
- Jose Ascanio missed workouts again on Wednesday with tightness in his right elbow. He’s listed as day-to-day.
- Scott Olsen threw on flat ground. He is still sidelined with a left hamstring strain.
- Thursday will be the last workout held at Pirate City. Camp will be relocated to McKechnie Field.
“We still have much work to do,” Hurdle said. “But at this point, we’ve covered what we wanted to cover.” Hurdle said more team fundamentals and specialty defenses will be added to the mix in the next few days. We’ll be ready to roll on Saturday.”
- Pitchers threw a session of live batting practice to the players on Wednesday. They included: Jeff Karstens, Charlie Morton, Daniel Moskos, Sean Gallagher, Brad Lincoln and Brian Burres.
- Manager Clint Hurdle is very happy with what he’s seen so far from the Pirates four locked starters Kevin Correia, Ross Ohlendorf, James McDonald and Paul Maholm.
“I’m seeing the things that I want to see out of the guys that we already have lined up in the starting rotation,” Hurdle said. “There are a number of other guys who are throwing well through this period. They are all working extremely hard. That’s the thing I’m most optimistic about.”
Baseball America released its list of Top 100 prospects on Wednesday. Three Pirates made the list: Jameson Taillon (No. 11), Tony Sanchez (No. 46) and Stetson Allie (No. 79) .
Lyle Overbay takes part in the annual sliding drill (photo BucsInsider)
According to Jon Heyman, Sports Illustrated senior writer and MLB Network Insider, the Pirates and Ross Ohlendorf’s arbitration case is scheduled for Tuesday.
He tweeted, “ross ohlendorfs arb case is today. i feel for guy. Pirates crummy offense caused 1-11 mark w/ 4.07 ERA. still, that is only 1 win.”
Tuesday marks the first time the Pirates have gone to an arbitration case with a player since 2004 (Jack Wilson).
Several weeks ago the Pirates offered Ohlendorf $1.4 million, Ohlendorf was seeking $2.025 million.
Teams have won five of the eight hearings held last year.
The Pirates website is reporting:
The panel, which consists of Steven Wolf, Fredric Horowitz and Robert Herzog, is expected to announce its decision on the matter Wednesday, according to The Associated Press.
- MLB Trade rumors believes 2011 is a make or break year for catcher Ryan Doumit. The 29-year-old went from the Pirates everyday catcher in 2008 to a bench, backup catcher role that he is likely to see this season. The Bucs have publicly made it known they were shopping Doumit, but no trade has been made. Since putting up .318 during the 2008 season, Doumit’s has been struggling at both hitting (.250, .251 average’s in 2009 and 2010) and fielding (.987, .990 fielding percentage’s with nine past balls last season and only 12% caught stealing).
MLBTR believes Doumit is a “defensive liability” as an everyday catcher and thinks he is better suited in the American League where he can serve as a backup and occasion designated hitter role.
- During President Frank Coonelly’s live chat on Wednesday, he was asked ‘what is the plan for Jameson Taillon? Will the injury to Stephen Strasburg last year have any impact on his movement through the Minors?’
“No final decision has been made with respect to where Jameson will begin his professional career, but, given what we’ve seen to date, I would expect that Jameson will begin in Charleston, West Virginia, with the Power. The mayor of Charleston attended our caravan stop on Monday and encouraged a commitment that both Taillon and Allie begin their careers in Charleston, but I was only comfortable indicating that was the most likely scenario.”
- The fans are not the only ones itching for the season to begin. Pirates catching prospect Tony Sanchez (TSanchez26) had this to say on Wednesday: “cannot wait to start mashing fastballs again.”
- MLB Network will be airing their ‘Top 10 second baseman right now’ Thursday at 8 PM/ET and Pirates fans should be looking for the Pittsburgh Kid. Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review said, “Neil Walker is youngest player voted onto MLB Network’s list of Top 10 second basemen.’
When I asked Biertempfel if he had any idea where in the list he would be ranked, he told me, “Neil Walker is ranked somewhere 6-10, along with Kinsler, Weeks, Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson.”
On Tuesday’s edition of Hot Stove on MLB Network, they showcased the Pittsburgh Pirates in part of the 30 Clubs in 30 Recaps.
Here is what the analysts had to say:
“1992 was the last season in which Pittsburgh finished with a winning record. For a once proud franchise the Buccos have become somewhat of a forgotten team in their own city. It also doesn’t help the Penguins won a Stanley cup two years ago, and Sunday, the Steelers can win their third super bowl in six years. We look back at the 2010 Pittsburgh Pirates.”
*Video clips through out the season were showed. Garrett Jones two run homerun on opening day, Evan Meek’s first career save (against the Dodgers), Andrew McCutchen’s hot month of May (.327 avg), the rookie debuts of Neil Walker, Jose Tabata and Pedro Alvarez, the 12 straight losses, Alvarez’s walk-off three run homer against the Rockies, notching the 18th consecutive losing season, John Russell getting fired, and the hiring of Clint Hurdle.
Greg Amsinger: “Another rough season in 2010 for the Pirates. Hence all of these changes:”
Pirates Notable transactions this offseason by MLB Network:
RP Joe Beimel
SP Kevin Correia
OF Matt Diaz
3B Josh Fields
SP Scott Olsen
1B Lyle Overbay
SS Cesar Valdez
SP Zach Duke
SP Dana Eveland
RP Chan Ho Park
3B Andy LaRoche
RP Joe Martinez
OF Lastings Milledge
Amsinger: “Zach Duke is gone. He’s not going to be in that rotation. Andy LaRoche is not going to be at third base. Lastings Milledge is still a free agent so who knows where he’ll go. But you see all the additions. The biggest addition though, is the skipper of this club, Clint Hurdle.”
Todd Zeile: “I agree with you 100 percent. Clint, you heard him in the press conference say, ‘It’s got to turn eventually. We’re not going to back down to anybody.’ That’s the kind of mentality Clint Hurdle has. I think he truly believes in it. I think he instills that kind of confidence in his players –especially young players. In 2002, Clint took over for Buddy Bell, when Buddy Bell was fired. We were on the ropes. We had a bunch of veteran guys that he just let play. But at the same time, we had a guy named Juan Uribe, who we saw in the world series last year, this guy was as raw and unfettered as you could find. Clint found a way to get him to hone in his skills, but still let him play and didn’t destroy his confidence. He made sure he knew every time he walked out there, Clint believed in him. I think he’s got that same kind of capability. Look, realistically, they are looking to the future. While they got a lot of kids on that team that have a lot of potential in the future, including Pedro Alvarez. You showed the highlight of him, Alvarez had a really rough start but finished really strong. A guy like Clint I think can help take him to the next level.”
Al Lieter: “I agree. I love Clint. You mentioned about Alvarez, Greg Smith their scouting director, whole new deal there. Neal Huntington a whole lot different from Dave Littlefield, cleaning up the mess. You have a $40 million payroll. I think about all the additions and what is important. I think what is important is your starting rotation. No question about it. I go to what the Padres did last year. You have really nice quality pitchers like the Padres did in [Clayton] Richard, [Mat] Latos, and [Wade] LeBlanc. You have to get something out of your guys and look for the future. You got James McDonald, nice pickup with the Dodgers. Paul Maholm, making a lot of money right now for what he’s bringing in. Ross Ohlendorf was 1-11. You bring in a guy with some innings, that you can bring in a Kevin Correia that can maybe hold over for the future. This is about draft picks, this is about your player development. Everything that goes on from the bottom up, to eventually find that diamond. That’s what I would be sitting on and I look to the Padres. Last year, two teams under $40 million dollars in payroll: both the Pirates and the Padres. It starts with pitching.”
Harold Reynolds: “It does. It actually starts with draft also. I love what Clint Hurdle can bring to the table. You got to be positive with the young guys. You heard me say, ‘You got to play the young talent’. Some of the guys they are bringing in, the draft they had last year. They had two top picks, you get [Jameson] Taillon and you also get [Stetson] Allie, who should have been a number one pick as well. So they get those two guys to get it going in the minor leagues. It starts with pitching. You can move pitching and you can add players with having good pitching. But I love the fact that guys they have in the big leagues already. With [Andrew] McCutchen, I love [Neil] Walker the second baseman, and you look at Alvarez. Those three guys are a great core to start with and you go from there. The Pirates are on up!
Amsinger: “It’s a great sports city. They love the penguins, of course they love the Steelers, if they can get a winning product there for the Pirates they will come fill the most beautiful ball park in the game.”
Pirates Projected Rotation (According to MLB Network)
A snowy ballpark (via @BucsInsider). Only 70 days away from opening day 2011!
- Pedro Alvarez did not make it in MLB Network’s ‘Top 10 Third Baseman right now’, but he did get an honorable mention –one of four players (Sandoval, Kouzmanoff and Ramirez) “to just miss top 10″
That’s great news for Pirates fans. Alvarez and Jose Tabata (left field) just missed the top 10 and Andrew McCutchen was named #1 Center Fielder right now by MLB Network (The future is looking bright in Pittsburgh).
- The Pirates organization have several pitchers to compete for the fifth spot in the rotation during spring training. They have not hinted at who is the favored:
“We don’t want to make Spring Training evaluations, but in some cases we’re going to have to,” general manager Neal Huntington said. “I think the reality is that we’re going to need more than five starting pitchers next year, so whoever doesn’t make the rotation out of Spring Training, we’re going to need the sixth, the seventh, the eighth one.”
- Brad Lincoln hired a personal trainer for the offseason and plans on reporting to spring training early to work with pitching coach Ray Searage.
“I am going to get my body in the best shape possible to come into spring strong so that I can go all year without breaking down,” Lincoln said. “I want to come in top physical form.”
“If you want to compete up here, you have to continue to work hard every day and just don’t let up and don’t take anything for granted,” Lincoln said. “Hopefully, I can continue to improve and mark a spot here for next year.”
Incase you missed Hot Stove from Wednesday night, or perhaps you don’t get the channel, here is what the analysts from MLB Network had to say about the Pirates 2011 season (P.S. It’s not pretty).
Matt Yallof: “The Pirates. Every single year. It seems to get worse. 57 wins last year. That seems difficult to do.”
Bill Ripken: “You wonder what direction they’re heading in. Our friend Clint Hurdle is taking over this club. I think he’s going to bring an attitude and a positive mentality to this club. But for me, I look at the pitching staff. In all these years that they’ve finished down to the bottom of baseball, I’m wanting to know where that number one is. We mentioned [Steven] Strasburg when we talk about the Nationals. Now, he blew out his elbow and he got hurt. But when you draft, you draft a number one. You draft some cheddar. When I look at the Pittsburgh Pirates rotation, I’m kind of wondering, ‘where’s the heat’? I’m not saying heats everything because you can pitch to spots and you can locate. When everybody on your staff is throwing 91, 92, then you drop down below 90, throwing 86, 88. There’s not that one guy that actually wows me. [Charlie] Morton throws the hardest. When you’re looking at 93 topping out, I’m wanting to know, ‘where the heat is?’ If you didn’t draft it, and you go out and you pick out other guys that are kind of throwing the same, ‘where’s the heat?’ I want somebody in that rotation that’s going to make somebody swing and miss at a fastball and maybe get yourself out of a jam instead of giving up big innings.”
Pirates projected rotation (according to MLB Network)
James McDonald (4-6, 4.02 ERA in 2010)
Paul Maholm (9-15, 5.10 ERA in 2010)
Kevin Correia (10-10 5.40 ERA in 2010)
Scott Olsen (4-8, 5.56 ERA in 2010)
Ross Ohlendorf (1-11, 4.07 ERA in 2010)
Mitch Williams: “There has to be a guy on every staff that at some point in the game, can reach back and throw the ball 95, 96. If you’ve got two outs and the bases loaded, two strikes on a hitter, you have got to have that guy that can blow that hitter up. Pittsburgh does not have that guy. They have guys that throw hitting speed.”
Matt Yallof: “You know what, they’ve had their chances to draft guys of note and guys that do what you’re taking about but they’ve missed. They’ve had high draft picks over and over. That hurts. Look at the guys they’ve passed on. They’ve missed those type of guys.”
Pitchers drafted in first round by Pirates since 2002:
Drafted – Right hand pitcher Brad Lincoln
Missed on – Left hand pitcher Clayton Kershaw, right hand pitcher Tim Lincecum, Right hand pitcher Matt Scherzer
Drafted – Left hand pitcher Paul Maholm
Missed on – Left hand pitcher John Danks, Right hand pitcher Chad Billingsley
Drafted – right hand pitcher Brian Bullington
Missed on – Right hand pitcher Zach Greinke, left hand pitcher Cole Hamels
(*As a note: Kevin McClatchy and Dave Littlefield were the General Managers during this time. Since Neal Huntington took over as GM in September of 2007, the drafting and minor league system has done a complete 180. Huntington really hasn’t gotten enough credit for what he has done so far and how much better the organization is heading.)
Harold Reynolds: “That’s the easy stuff they’ve missed on. Those are the number one picks. It’s the guys in the fifth round, six round, that your scouting is suggesting and going after. They’ve done a nice job with some players that have come up as of late (Williams: “position players”). But they’ve really missed it on the pitching.”
Ripken: “That term that comes into baseball now: Sign ability. Some of that might be their hands are tied a little bit but boy when you see that list and some of those players they’ve passed up on, wow! They’d look a lot different.”
Reynolds: “If you look back at the ‘we are family pirates’ they were international. They were: Puerto Rico, Dominican, they may not have had the funds back then but they went in those countries and developed players. I still think they had the market cornered. That’s when everybody wanted to be a pirate.”
Williams: “They won the World Series with the ugliest hats in the history of baseball.”
Yallof: “Last winning season: 1992. It’s really hard to believe.”
Notable Transactions (by MLB Network)
First baseman – Lyle Overbay
Outfielder – Matt Diaz
Right hand pitcher – Kevin Correia
Left hand pitcher – Scott Olsen
Left hand pitcher – Zach Duke
Right hand pitcher – Chan Ho Park
Outfielder – Lastings Milledge
On Monday’s edition of Hot Stove on MLB Network, the analysis’s played the game “Over/Under”. If you are a frequent watcher of the network, you are aware of the game the guys play.
Greg Amsinger’s question involved the Bucs: Will the Pirates lose 100 games in 2011? Over or Under?
Ron Gant, who was a guest analyst on the show Monday, said: “Under. I played for Clint Hurdle. He was our hitting instructor while I was in Colorado. He is going to relate to the young players, they have a young athletic ball club. I think they are going to go out there and compete game in and game out.”
Harold Reynolds: “I’m saying under. I’m feeling Clint. Go get em’ Clint Hurdle! I think Pittsburgh is going in the right direction. He’s there at the right time, I think they are going to be under.”
Mitch Williams: “Clint, I love ya. The only thing I hope you lose is that salmon colored suit. I think they are going to lose over. It does not have to do with their young position player talent. It has to do with their lack of pitching in their starting rotation and in their bullpen. I still think they are a couple of years away from not losing 100.”
It should be added, The Pirates have lost more than 100 games only twice in their last 55 seasons.
If you were unable to attend MLB Network’s viewing of game seven of the 1960 World Series at the Byham Theatre on Saturday night, you are in luck. On December 13th at the AMC-Lowes at the Waterfront there will be a free viewing of the event.
Pittsburghers will get to watch the event two days before it airs on MLB Network (December 15th and 8 PM ET). The show should last around three hours and is hosted by Bob Costas. During the telecast of the game, there will also be interviews by members of the 1960 Bucs as well as Michael Keaton –who flew across country to be at the event,
You can purchase tickets through Comcast, Pirates.com and Clear Channel.
And incase you missed it, I attended the filming on Saturday night. You can read my article here.
The Pirates new skipper Clint Hurdle chatted with the Analysis’s of MLB Network on Monday evening. Here are the things they discussed:
On his thoughts on being officially announced as Pirates manager: “I am humbled with another opportunity to manage in the major leagues with the traditional rich Pittsburgh Pirates. We all know the state here. We are well aware of the 18 consecutive seasons of sub .500 play. We have work to do, no doubt about it. But this opportunity to be a part of leadership with this group and turn this thing around. And reignite the fan base.”
On what the conversations (back-and-forth) between Hurdle and the Pirates ownership is like during interviews/what they discuss: “Well the questions I was asked was ‘why the interest level?’ I wanted to understand a little bit more about the situation, is there continuity from top to bottom. Is the mentality all mentality. I understand the skepticism of the fan base, the raw emotion that it has. It’s understandable, its factual.”
On pitching and payroll. “The payroll is one of the questions we talked about internally. There is money available to spend. Just because you have it, doesn’t mean you should spend it all. We want to spend it wisely. I think there are some keys to the pitching puzzle out there this winter that we will actively peruse. There is money available for Neal [Huntington] to go searching and to find the right fit. And probably extend themselves more than they have in the past.”
MLB Network analyst Barry Larkin brought up the question, “How do you change the mindset of losing every single year? They lost 105 games this year.”
Billy Ripken discussed his opinion: “I think that’s the first thing that Clint Hurdle is going to address is the mind set of the club. And let’s face it, I think that what Clint Hurdle brings to this mix is a positive attitude, he’s going to have some attention to detail and he’s going to be more of a front guy. But that only takes you so far. They’ve got some position players but until somebody gets out there on the bump, Clint Hurdle is going to be in a tough situation. His attitude is going to be key. I think that’s going to be good but you got to find someone on the bump that’s going to get people out.”