Thursday, June 10, 2010

Welcome to The Show, Part Two

The Pirates showcased prized prospects Brad Lincoln and Jose Tabata in their respective major league debuts last night in Washington, with mixed but encouraging results for both players.

The Bucs' defense failed Lincoln, who made a few mistake pitches, including a first-inning bomb of a home run to Adam Dunn. Welcome to The Show, Brad Lincoln.

Tabata looked reasonably good at the plate and on the basepaths, but limped to the clubhouse after his final at-bat in the eighth inning. Supposedly he had a cramp that tightened, so he'll be day to day.

"Unbelievable," opined Bob Walk, the Pirates' understated and doleful "color" man on the televised broadcast. "Looks like his hamstring. Unbelievable."

As depressing as Walk's observation of Tabata's condition may have been for viewers at the end of the game, another of his statements before the game was downright alarming.

Speaking of Lincoln, finally making his first appearance in the majors four years into his professional career, Walk "talked up" Lincoln by noting:

"Lincoln doesn't have Stephen Strasburg's stuff. He doesn't have Strasburg's 99 mph fastball, his electric slider, his 12-to-6 curve, or his drop change.

"But Lincoln has good stuff. Lincoln's stuff is like Charlie Morton's"

-- "DING-DING-DING!" ... alarm bells going off --

Oh. Oh, great. Thanks, Bob, for that reassuring nugget about the pitcher the Pirates picked fourth overall in the draft four years ago, ahead of Tim Lincecum, now starring with the San Francsico Giants and winner of two Cy Young Awards, and uber-prospect Clayton Kershaw, now the brightest light in the Los Angeles Dodgers' rotation.

To say Lincoln has a repertoire of "stuff" (i.e., a mix of pitches, command, control, poise, etc.) like Charlie Morton's is damning with faint praise indeed.

Thanks, Bob, for the words of encouragement. Great. We have a lot to forward to. Haven't we suffered enough?

That's not Lincoln's fault. His pitching line from last night's game doesn't look all that great, but he did okay. Sort of, anyway, at least according to the Pirates' typically low expectations. Lincoln certainly could have benefited from better defense.

The Pirates' defensive follies included some tough plays that were, shall we say, uh ... not made. Not to single anybody out, but Lastings Milledge once again did what he does.

Gene Collier
sums it up neatly in his column in today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

"Ian Desmond sliced a 1-0 pitch to right field into the vicinity of Lastings Milledge ... Milledge took a bending route to the baseball, punctuating the play by still another leave-your-feet-and-hope-to-make-the-top-10-plays dive, all of which resulted in another double."

Why does it seem that Milledge so frequently takes a "bending route to the baseball"? ... and so often comes up just short on so many diving attempts?

Even on the dramatic catch he made to seal the win over the Giants Saturday night at PNC Park, Milledge took "a typically circuitous path to the ball," as Joey Porter's Pit Bulls wrote following the game. Milledge does this all the time -- and then belly-flops -- but usually ends up with an empty glove.

Milledge just isn't a good fielder. In fact, he's barely adequate, if that. He has a strong arm but no instincts.

At the plate? Still looking for that first home run.

This from a corner outfielder? That's right up there with having a corner infielder, Andy LaRoche, with 11 RBIs. Eleven! Playing every day!! More than a third of the way through the season!!! ... which projects to maybe 33 RBIs for the season. Enough already!

Bring up Alvarez already, for crying out loud!
What are they waiting for!!

As Collier wrote ...

"Top prospect Pedro Alvarez remains in Indianapolis, but with Lincoln, Tabata, and Neil Walker all finally in the lineup, you can almost see a plan.

"All this club needs now is a third baseman, a shortstop, a catcher, a right fielder, and two or three effective starting pitchers and hey, who knows?"