First Postseason Paint at PNC (Photo: Pittsburgh Post Gazette)
Congratulate and tip your caps. This will be hard for some of you to do, but the Pittsburgh Pirates accomplished more than any other team will this post season. Yes, even more than whoever ends up winning the World Series. The Pirates, in fact, have already won their own World Series. Even though their season ended last night with a 6-1 loss to Adam Wainwright and the St. Louis Cardinals, it was far from a failure. Of course Pirates fans all remember how Sid Bream was out in game 7 against the Braves in 1992, but not many others still remember that. Some people still remember Jerry Meals botched call against the Pirates against, yep, the Braves a few years back. All of those demons are gone now. 21 years of misery has led to this, a berth in the 2013 Postseason but a first round exit in the deciding game 5 to the St. Louis Cardinals. As a fan of baseball and all that is right, I really did not want to see the Cardinals get another step closer to the World Series. I think they have had their time. An A's - Pirates World Series would have been terrific for baseball and it's small market teams.
Not all hope should be lost in Pittsburgh. They are a team coming into this postseason with virtually no experience at all. Now they have some experience and know how to keep building the team to get over that NLDS hump. There are a lot of pieces still missing with their team. They need someone to play first base other than Gaby Sanchez and Justin Morneau. They need a pitcher to replace AJ Burnett who is likely gone this winter. They need something better than Marlon Byrd as a "big acquisition"- I'm sorry but that was a Cody Ross-like performance from him this postseason. Byrd is a mediocre player at best and will certainly not be able to keep up any kind of production like he had the end of this season going forward. What we learned is that Pedro Alvarez is officially a stud and will be a top player for years to come. And we already knew that Andrew McCutchen is still and always will be Cutch.
The Pirates for the past couple years always seemed to start out hot and even top the NL Central sometimes in mid-June. They were always just one losing streak away from an utter collapse though. This season had the same nervousness, but the collapse never happened. On our side of the state, we just sucked all year. Unless Ryne Sandberg can turn the Phillies around and quick, these are two franchises heading in opposite directions. As a Philadelphia sports fan, the only remaining rival with Pittsburgh is that hockey team. The Pirates have not been in the same division as the Phillies for almost two decades now, and seeing them 6 times a year does not constitute a "rivalry." But since they hate us, we should want them to fail at everything right? Well, kinda, but it's bad for baseball. It really is.
As a Phillies fan who lived through the awful years of the late 90s and early 00s, there is a recipe to success when it comes to winning. Signing big name players. You know how you do that? Have a ton of money. You know how your team gets a lot of money? FANS GO TO THE GAMES AND BUY STUFF. It takes a lot on the ownership part of putting together a great team. Fans can help that by GOING TO THE GAMES AND BUYING STUFF. If you watched the postseason, you saw just how great an atmosphere at PNC Park can be.
So Pirate fans, your team is good now, go see them play in 2014.
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(Photo: Penn Live)
It's been a few days since we heard anything like this but they are back: trade rumors!
This isn't so much a rumor as much as it is a suggestion (read: prediction) from ESPN MLB Insider Dan Szymborski. He wrote an article
on five trades that must happen and the Phillies were involved in two of the trades.
The No. 1 deal Szymborski lists is the Phillies trading Cliff Lee to the Pittsburgh Pirates for prospects SS Alen Hanson, SP Luis Heredia and 2B Dilson Herrera.
Hanson, 20, is currently playing in Single-A Bradenton and hitting .280/.342/.427 with five home runs and 35 RBIs. He is the third best prospect in the Pirates system, sixth best shortstop prospect, and 44th overall prospect (six spots ahead of Phillies top prospect Jesse Biddle) according to MLB.com. He has good range at shortstop but could use some work with his arm. Hanson is fast and can occasionally drive the ball out of the yard. He could stay at shortstop but would be better suited for second base.
Heredia, who turns 19 on August 10th, is a big, hard-throwing right handed starter. Standing at 6'6", 205 lbs. his fastball consistently touches 95 mph with a hard curveball and change up that could become plus pitches and become future "out" pitches. He has more experience than most 18 year old players and he projects as a top-of-the-rotation starter. Heredia is the fifth best Pirates prospect and the 84th overall prospect which would make him the Phillies third best prospect behind Biddle and Ethan Martin. Heredia is currently playing for the West Virginia Power in the South Atlantic League, same league as Phillies Single-A affiliate Lakewood Blueclaws.
Herrera, 19, is not the biggest guy in the world at 5'10", 150 lbs. He can hit well for a player his size and shows surprising amounts of power. Herrera looks to be a pain on the base-paths who will steals bases consistently. He also has good range at second base after making the shift from third base. He is the Pirates 18th overall prospect.
The other trade had another big name headed to a National League team. For his third trade, Szymborski states the Rockies must acquire Chase Utley from the Phillies for outfielder Corey Dickerson and pitcher Chad Bettis.
Dickerson, 24, was rated as the 16th overall prospect in the Rockies system entering 2013 but has made his way to the Major League roster. He was hitting .386/.429/.646 in Triple-A this year. He is an offensive player as he has tremendous power and began showing it to all fields instead of just right field. He was a tremendous pull hitter which worried some scouts. Dickerson is aggressive on the base-paths and has decent speed but, in the field, has a below average arm. He projects to be a solid left fielder in the Majors.
Bettis, 24, is the third best prospect in the Rockies very shallow system. He pitched at Texas Tech seems to have some scouts split whether he should be a starter or a reliever. Bettis is currently a starter with an above-average fastball and slider to go along with a Major League ready change up. He projects to be a middle-of-the-rotation starter but could always slide back into the reliever role. One thing to watch is his health as he missed the entire 2012 season with a shoulder issue.
I don't want the Phillies to trade either of these guys but, if they were to decide to move these two, I would hope the haul would be a little better than what Szymborski is suggesting in his piece. I do have to give credit though because the No. 1 trade on this list in 2011 was the first suggestion (that I read) that mentioned the possibility of the Phillies acquiring Hunter Pence for Jared Cosart.
We all saw how that worked out but there was some merit the article. I don't see any situation in which the Phillies move Lee before the July 31st deadline.
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Follow Whiz Wit on Twitter @WhizWitSports
2-11, 4.58 ERA, 1.30 WHIP
Hamels, 29, had his last start against the Dodgers skipped to "clear his head" according to pitching coach Rich Dubee. His last start was on June 26th against the Padres in which he allowed five runs (four earned) on seven hits over six innings of work. He would get the no-decision but the Phillies would go on to win 7-5. It was only the third time this season that the Phillies have won a Hamels start and the first of such wins in which Hamels did not get the win in the decision. In six career starts against the Pirates, Hamels is 1-2 with a 3.00 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP.
4-0, 3.70 ERA, 1.23 WHIP
Cole, 22, is making his fifth career start. He has earned the win in each of his first four starts with the Pirates. Last time out against the Brewers on Friday, Cole allowed three runs on eight hits over six innings while striking out three batters. He has allowed 2-3 runs in all of his starts and has not thrown more than 6.1 innings in any outing yet this season.
3-3, 4.17 ERA, 1.42 WHIP
Pettibone, 22, is coming off of a decent start on Thursday in Los Angeles in which he went six innings allowing just three runs on four hits while striking out four Dodgers. He would get the no-decision but the Phillies would go on to lose 6-4. They have lost three of Pettibone's last four starts. Pettibone faced the Pirates once already this year on April 22nd in his Major League debut in which he went 5.1 innings allowing two runs on six hits en route to a no-decision but the Phillies would win 3-2.
7-1, 2.06 ERA, 1.11 WHIP
Locke, 25, had a strong start his last time out as he went seven innings allowing two runs on four hits while striking out four as the Pirates cruised to a 9-4 victory over the Mariners last Tuesday. The Pirates are 2-3 in his last five starts but he has strung together 10 consecutive quality starts (six or more innings pitched while allowing three or fewer runs). He has faced the Phillies one other time this year going six innings without allowing a run and surrendering just two hits en route to his second win of the year.
Good morning and happy hump day! Today looks to be another gorgeous day in Philadelphia as highs are expected to reach 81 degrees with sunny skies and 0% chance of rain. The Phillies are in action this afternoon as Cliff Lee goes up against Marlins ace Josh Johnson. First pitch is at 4:05 pm at Citizens Bank Park.
The Phillies have continued to sway doubters, time and time again, that they won’t quit. Last night, behind 6.1 solid innings from Roy Halladay, the Phillies beat the Marlins 9-7. It wasn’t easy as the Phillies jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first before the Marlins cut it to 3-2 in the third. The Phillies would eventually open up an 8-3 lead before the Marlins; again, cut into the lead in the seventh making is 8-7. The Phillies manufactured an insurance run in the bottom half of the seventh to give them a 9-7. Jonathan Papelbon recorded his 33rd save of the season. The win, their sixth straight, brings the Phillies to .500 for the first time since June 4th. More here
The Cardinals and Padres squared off in San Diego with the Phillies lurking 4.5 games back after their win over Miami. The Cardinals capitalized on some sloppy Padres defense to jump out to a 2-0 lead. The Padres would not go down easy as they put up five runs in the fourth inning to take a 5-2 lead. The Cardinals cut the lead to 5-4 in the seventh but an eighth inning insurance run, coupled with Luke Gregerson’s sixth save of the season, sealed the victory for San Diego and moved the Phillies to four games back of the Cardinals in the Wild Card chase. More here
There are two teams between the Phillies and the Cardinals in the Wild Card chase. One of those teams is the Pittsburgh Pirates who entered last night 2.5 games back of the Cardinals. Coming off of an extra inning game the night before, the Pirates were looking to bounce back last night in Cincinnati but it just wasn’t happening. Behind solid starting pitching from Phillies launching pad, Mike Leake, the Reds took home a 5-3 victory and the Pirates failed to gain any ground on the Cardinals. The Pirates are now 5-15 over their last 20 games. More here
The other team between the Phillies and Cardinals is the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers were playing the pesky Arizona Diamondbacks. This was a game surrounded by starting pitching as reigning NL Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw went up against 2011 NL Cy Young finalist Ian Kennedy. The game was scoreless in the fifth when D’backs leftfielder Jason Kubel leaped and robbed Luis Cruz of a two run homerun that would have given the Dodgers a 2-0 lead. Instead the D’backs got on the board in the seventh on a Miguel Montero double that scored Paul Goldschmidt. That would be all the scoring in the game as the D’backs held on and kept the Dodgers one game behind the Cardinals in the Wild Card. More here
The NHL CBA expires at midnight on Saturday (basically Friday night). Today they have scheduled informal meetings between the NHL (Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Dill Daly) and the NHLPA leaders (Donald and Steve Fehr- yes, they are related. They are brothers). The NHLPA has scheduled internal meetings (basically with the team player representatives) this afternoon and tomorrow in New York. At the same time as the NHLPA internal meetings, the NHL will be meeting with their board of Governors. No one is 100% sure if the NHLPA is going to submit a CBA proposal but with two days of meetings, it will be pretty clear tomorrow afternoon whether there is a light at the end of the tunnel or if they are willing to accept a lockout. Another interesting strategy is that the NHLPA filed a cease-and-desist order in Quebec against the Canadiens and the league in order to try and prevent a lockout. More here
Video of the Day:
New Phillies RF Hunter Pence
There is nothing like a sweep to remind the Pirates that they aren’t quite contenders yet. Days like today are simultaneously good and bad. The bad: we discovered that Vance Worley is, in fact, human. I was completely content with believing he was unhittable but I guess this keeps me grounded. The good: the Phillies completed a three game sweep with an extra inning, comeback against the Pirates. On a gorgeous day at the ballpark, Raul Ibanez provided plenty of spark for the Phillies offense.
For the first time since the Bush administration, that's the first Bush administration, the Pittsburgh Pirates are relevant and dangerous. First of all, I attend the University of Pittsburgh, and as a passionate baseball fan, it pains me to see first hand such a storied franchise forgotten amongst the Black & Gold nation. Now the Pirates didn't come to the brink of extinction like the Penguins did, but the Pirates are coming back into relevance without drafting the best player in the world. Come the beginning of the season, there was not much promise for the buccos, if someone told you that the buccos would be in first place at this time of the season a few months ago, they were probably drunk. Lets be honest, they are one of the two shock/surprise teams of the season, along with the Cleveland Indians. These two teams are bringing a resurgence of baseball interest and hype to their respective cities. The Pirates are coming in to town this weekend sporting a 54-49 record and a second place standing in the NL Central. The best record they have had at this point in the season in close to a decade. Manager Clint Hurdle is running away with the 'Manager of the Year' award if the Pirates keep this up. What has carried the Pirates to the point they are at now is their pitching. They sport the 6th best ERA in the majors and 5th best in the NL. This counters their 26th best offense, which is definitely their weak point. With only a few bright spots in the lineup, the Pirates have to make their runs count. Once again Andrew McCutchen is leading in every offensive category and the Pirates are now glad that they did not deal him away. McCutchen, Niel Walker, and Lyle Overbay are the only starters to play over 100 games this season. Which means they have stayed healthy and are able to continue to produce. The Buccos have used an arsenal of other small names to fill their lineup, playing 50-80 games this year. Another impressive statistic that comes from their pitching staff is that all 5 starters have at least 9 Quality Starts. Also, Joel Hanrahan, an unpopular choice for closer during spring training has 30 saves, the 3rd most in the NL.
The two (potentially) most talked about teams over the past few weeks meet this weekend for a three game series at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies square off against the cross state “rival” Pittsburgh Pirates. I put rival in quotations because the Phillies and Pirates have not been rivals since the 1980s. However, there is a rivalry between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia (e.g. Flyers-Penguins). The Phillies enter tonight’s contest having lost two straight for the first time since the beginning of June. For those keeping score at home, that was 45 straight games in which they did not lose back to back games (hat kind of productivity makes watching Baseball Tonight a lot easier). Tonight’s matchup should be interesting.
Good morning! Steak and Eggs for breakfast. NFL free agency keeps getting crazier, Phils get out pitched, and no one out pitches Ervin.
Ervin Santana threw a no hitter yesterday in Cleveland and, obviously got the win 3-1. That is no error, Santana threw a no hitter but did not get the shutout. Santana threw the third no-hitter of the year (Liriano and Verlander had the other two) while allowing one unearned run, one walk, and striking out 10. He allowed just two base runners- the leadoff man reached on an error and later scored on a wild pitch and an eighth inning walk. Santana’s no-no is the first solo no hitter for the Angels since 1984. More here
We mentioned yesterday,
actually we mentioned it twice
, that the Mariners were struggling to say the least. Well, yesterday (after Steak and Eggs and Top Ten were released) the Mariners beat the Yankees 9-2 for their first win since July 5th and snapping their 17 game losing streak. Reigning AL Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez pitched seven solid innings while striking out five to get the win for the Mariners. More here.
The Phillies lost to the Giants in a pitching duel in which Matt Cain outdueled Cole Hamels for a 2-1 win. The Phillies offense was virtually nonexistent as they could only muster one unearned run. The Braves and Pirates went to extras again, just a day after going 19 innings in which Jerry Meals decided enough was enough, and the Braves won again last night 2-1 in 10 innings. The Phillies lead in the NL East is cut to 5 games. More here
During the game it was announced that the San Francisco Giants had acquired Carlos Beltran from the Mets. The Giants send top pitching prospect, Zach Wheeler, to the Mets who, in addition to sending Beltran to San Francisco, are also going to eat $4 million of the $6 million Beltran is owed. More here.
Around the NFL, WR Sidney Rice is reunited with Tarvaris Jackson in Seattle as Rice agreed to a $41 million deal. WR Santonio Holmes is headed back to the Jets for 5 years at $50 million. Paul Posluzny is headed to sunny Jacksonville for six years $45 million. RB DeAngelo Williams is headed back to Carolina for five years and $43 million. WR Steve Breaston is headed to Kansas City for five years. More here.
Albert Haynesworth has been traded from the Washington Redskins to the New England Patriots for a 5th round pick according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Haynesworth spent two very controversial years in Washington after becoming the first player outside of a quarterback to receive a $100 million contract. More here.
Video of the Day:
I'm sure we've all seen it by now. Was Lugo safe or was he out? We all know he was called safe and the baseball world (minus a few, and MLB or course) is calling for Instant replay to be implemented in some form, in Major League Baseball.
Now I'm not here to say Lugo was safe. But I'm not going to say he was out either. All I can say is that I watched the following video, and I do not see any conclusive evidence to prove either call. I have watched this videeo multiple times, pausing it many more times to try to pin point a tag, and I've still yet to see a clear tag.
"I looked at the replay and it appeared he might have gotten him." - Jerry Meals, home plate umpire. Appears is the key word. Lugo's reaction leads the viewers and announcers to believe he is out. Maybe he thought he was going to be called out since the ball beat him by about five steps. However, I still do not see any conclusive of a tag! (If someone can point out the tag in this video please tell me. Not when you think he was tug, but when there is 100% evidence of a tag) If a challege was made, similar to that of an NFL coach's or booth challenge, I think this play would stand as called for inconclusive video evidence.
Side note, the batter falling down is pretty hilarious.
What do you think? Safe, out, or you don't know?
- Mike Higgins