So, we are a good bit into Spring Training, the initial sets of cuts have happened, and many of the pictures are looking much clearer. Unfortunately, a couple of trades that we hoped would go down haven’t (yet), but a few of the early predictions do seem to be coming true.
The Bench: Before Church was signed, my prediction for the bench looked like: Young, Jaramillo, Crosby, Raynor and Pearce. We had enough faith in NH even back then to know that Vazquez wouldn’t be kept on while relegating more deserving players! Then, we predicted that the bench would look like Crosby, Jaramillo, Church/Moss, Raynor, Vazquez/Young/Pearce. Young has had a good spring, perhaps aided by the winds, but appears to be a lock now. Crosby too had a good showing, and I m guessing he’s close to Cedeno in the race for the starting job, and we’ll have to see how this plays out. To start with, I expect Crosby will start on the bench, but that could change with Cedeno moving to backup if he doesn’t perform. Church is a lock. Not sure why I had Church/Moss in the previous version, I probably intended to have put Moss/Raynor there. Jaramillo is a little uncertain, although I haven’t seen much that would imply that he would be replaced, Huntington did raise the possibility somewhere of sending him to AAA while Kratz was the Major League backup. While that would be a great story for Kratz, whose journey has been documented very nicely here, that could go either way, and I don’t think it would make a big difference. But the fifth spot?
The Mets appear to have signed Kiko Calero to a minor league deal, according to Adam Rubin’ Twitter. This is a great signing for Minaya who has made some bad moves and seen some bad luck further lower his stock! The details of the deal aren’t official yet, but I’d guess it must be a strongly incentive laden deal with easily attainable incentives that take him to around the $1.5M mark if he’s healthy, and probably to around $3M depending on games, innings, and games finished.
Without knowing the details, it’s hard to say I’d necessarily have liked the Bucs to have pushed for him, but it certainly seems like the Mets got a great deal here.
UPDATE: Joel Sherman says, via Twitter, that Calero will earn $850K if he makes the team, and about $650K in bonuses. It seems he could have been had for about $1.5M all told, which makes me wonder why a lot of teams, not just the Bucs, didn’t up the ante. As I said before, $1.5M seems like the minimum he would be making this year. Sure looks like there are some big wavy red flags out there.
It didn’t take too long into the season to remind us why the Pirates were the 2nd worst team in 2009, and why they are projected to be close to the bottom of the barrel in 2010. 2 innings with little going on with the bat. A Ryan Church single was followed by a 1 pitch AB by Jeff Clement who grounded into a double play. Mega-prospect Alvarez then K’d looking. In the one Braves inning so far, Morton was somewhat wild, walked McLouth and McCann, Jaramillo allowed 2 passed balls, and the Braves scored (though only one, thanks to a double play ball from Chipper Jones).
I missed the bottom of the` 2nd, but it seems Morton was in better shape this time, though he still walked one. The Bucs tied it in the top of the 3rd, with an RBI single from Bobby Crosby scoring Delwyn Young from 2nd.
Milledge’s best efforts to steal following a walk were foiled in the top of the 6th with foul balls. The Pirates don’t score, and most position players have been replaced. Chulk walks the first batter, and I m mostly out here on. Might be back at the end for a couple of impressions.
Halfway through the game: Its 3-1 Braves. Tons of walks and HBPs from both Pirate pitchers so far, Burres and Morton. Nothing of interest to report- Bucs still not hitting any good, too many Ks, too few balls hit well. Brad Lincoln time bottom of the 5th?
From the way the balls have been hit, Lincoln doesn’t seem to be fooling too many people. Chipper Jones and Brian McCann both hit the ball hard, while Glaus GIDPed to help the Bucs some. Man on 2nd, Matt Diaz lefty killer up against righty Lincoln. Foul tip strikeout to get out of the inning! 3-1 Braves after 5.
So, the Yankees hit us for a home run. Well, not exactly, they hit Virgil Vasquez for one to end the game. How many of you had to look up who Colin Curtis was? It reminds everyone how fortunate we are that we do not have to consider VV starting rotation depth, or at least not immediate starting rotation depth!
We take on the Braves today, with Nate McLouth leading off, and Eric Hinske DH-ing. That’s a lot of recent ex-Pirates. Alvarez will DH for the Pirates from the 6th spot, with Ryan Church hitting cleanup- are you as surprised as I am? Both Clement and Alvarez should be ahead of him, although the Pirates probably just want to give him a few ABs to see how he’s doing. Charlie Morton goes against his former team, for 2 innings, I believe. We should also have Brad Lincoln and Brian Burres in action- the rest of the pitching might be forgettable.
Erik Kratz has had a great start to the spring games, and we’ll see if he can keep it up. His past 2 years indicate he’s a quality AAA slugger, and I wouldn’t mind seeing him get a shot in the majors. Not sure off the top of my head what Jason Jaramillo’s option status is, but it’ll be interesting to see what the Pirates do if Kratz can keep hitting.
Steven Jackson and Virgil Vasquez did themselves no favours in the competition for a bullpen spot, while Jean Machi is certainly attracting interest among fans. By all accounts, Clement looked comfortable at first, but didn’t get a hit, and the bats will be worrying factors till they prove otherwise.
I have been terribly busy over the last month or so, and it’s starting to show in the neglect on the blog! But, it’s time! Time to forget everything and celebrate the arrival of the biggest game on the calendar, the Pirates against the Manatee CC game that signals the start of the Spring Training games!You know I’m excited when every sentence seems to end with the exclamation mark!
Chuck Finder has the Pirates lineup for the game. Bryan Morris to be followed by Donnie Veal. For those lucky enough to be in sunny (well, sunnier anyway- I understand this year has been something of an anomaly) Florida, hope you guys have fun!
Let’s hope this game goes better than the same one last year!
We’ll be underway soon, and I hope to be back more often than I have been over the last 2 weeks or so!