Tuesday, June 01, 2010

June 1 is here ...

Now THAT was a quality start!

In seven innings of quality pitching yesterday vs. the Chicago Cubs at at PNC Park, Ross Ohlendorf allowed just three hits and two walks while striking out six. A legitimate "quality start."

Ohlendorf would have -- should have -- had a seven-inning shutout, but left-fielder Ryan Church blundered into Andrew McCutchen's path on an eminently catchable fly ball hit deep to the left-fied notch, although replays showed McCutchen had a bead on it and was clearly shouting, "I got it I got it, I got it!"

Anybody who has ever played little-league ball, knows that's the center fielder's play. But, no, once again we see a lack of fundamentals at the major league level. Church nearly ran into McCutchen and distracted him enough that the ball fell in for what should have ruled a three-base error and an unearned run. The official scorer ruled it a triple, however, the Cubs took a 1-0 lead, and Ohlendorf's ERA took an undeserved run allowed.

Church made amends, of sorts, later in the game, with a fine shoestring catch, which was followed immediately by another defensive gem by McCutchen. Andy LaRoche turned in a stellar defensive play with a SportsCenter Top 10 Highlight that was the play of the game and saved the win.

Not much offense yesterday, but it was good to see the Pirates play solid defense and turn in a generally well-played game. They were overdue, and Ohlendorf's performance on the mound keyed the win. Hopefully, he's on track and will continue pitching well.

Inexplicably, the Pirates are 6-1 vs. the Cubs this year. Let's hope it continues tonight, weather permitting.

June 1 is here. Will the call-ups follow?

The Pirates' minor-league acquisition yesterday of a 30-year-old AAA centerfielder, Jonathon Van Every, from Boston, would seem to indicate more moves to follow. Van Every bats left, throws left and was with the major league Red Sox team this season as a fill-in, pinch-hitting/defensive sub role (he actually hit a home run for the Sox). Here is some more information on Van Every, who was in the Pirates' system briefly last year ...

Scouting Report: center fielder with a good arm and a great glove. Average bat, speed, and on base ability. Has shown flashes of above average power, but not consistently throughout his career. Hits to all fields. Streaky at the plate, but generally has a good hitting approach. Provides outfield depth with some options, Van Every will likely be insurance for Boston while roaming the outfield in McCoy. Able to play center and left, but hasn't spent a lot of time in right field.


Van Every played for Indianpolis last night. Might his acquisition be a precursor to, say, a call-up of outfielder Jose Tabata? Could be just the start of some fairly major roster shuffling. It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

The Pirates made it official yesterday: Neil Walker is now the regular starting second baseman, and Aki Iwamura has been relegated to the bench. At a salary of $4.85 million, Iwamura is one very expensive backup infielder. He may not be long for this team and looks like the odd man out when Pedro Alvarez gets promoted. Bobby Crosby gives them much more versatility as a utility player, and who knows what they're going to do with Andy LaRoche when Alvarez joins the team.

This roster is a mish-mash of bit pieces and spare parts, and Huntington clearly made some very expensive, "payroll-costly" mistakes by trading for Iwamura and signing the now-departed Ramon Vasquez.

The Post-Gazette's Dejan Kovacevic notes the following regarding a couple of the monetarily costly moves made by Neil Huntington -- moves that helped neither the baseball club on the field nor Bob Nutting's bottom line ...

"Iwamura, 31, is the Pirates' highest-paid player at $4.85 million, and no team would take him in a trade. He still could be released -- someone will have to go when injured first baseman Steve Pearce returns, and when Alvarez and outfielder Jose Tabata are promoted -- but that would be an especially bitter pill for management, given that infielder Ramon Vazquez was released this spring at a cost of $2 million. If Iwamura were released today, he would be owed $3.29 million for the rest of the season."