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    sjdrewk
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    Pittsburgh Pirates
    Team report


    Pittsburgh Pirates Team Report
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    INSIDE PITCH
    Few clubs have ever gone through a more complete makeover during a season than the Pirates in 2009.

    General manager Neal Huntington made seven trades from June 3 to July 30, purging the roster of most of the veterans and replacing them with young major-leaguers and prospects. By the time the season was over, just 12 players remained from the opening-day roster, and the Pirates had a record 17th consecutive losing season with a 62-99 record.

    The Pirates had been tied with the 1933-48 Philadelphia Phillies for the losing-season record but left no doubt about their chances of finishing under .500 by losing 23 games in a 26-game stretch from Aug. 28-Sept. 24.

    "Nobody is happy with how this season turned out," Huntington said. "A 99-loss season is unacceptable on any level."

    However, the Pirates believe that have laid the groundwork for future success and have built up a deeper inventory of young players with the moves. When Huntington replaced Dave Littlefield as GM late in the 2007 season, he inherited a farm system that was considered among the worst in baseball.

    "We could have loaded up this year, got our record over .500 and not had to hear any more talk about the record," Huntington said. "However, we would have paid for it future years. We're trying to build a sustainable championship organization, and you have to go through growing pains and tough times to reach that level."

    The Pirates still have plenty of question marks as they look ahead to 2010, but they do have the makings of a decent rotation. The starting staff is fronted by left-handers Zach Duke (11-16, 4.06 ERA) and Paul Maholm (8-9, 4.44) and includes promising right-handers Ross Ohlendorf (11-10, 3.92) and Charlie Morton (5-9, 4.55).

    The bullpen is not as solid. Closer Matt Capps converted 27 of 32 save opportunities but had a 5.80 ERA, and Huntington possibly will look to trade him in the winter rather than go to a potential salary arbitration hearing. The Pirates do have some promising young short-relief arms in right-handers Jesse Chavez, Joel Hanrahan and Evan Meek, though they are far from proven commodities. The Pirates also finished the season without a reliable left-handed reliever.

    Catcher Ryan Doumit is the only regular remaining from July 2008. The switch hitter is in over his head as the cleanup hitter, but he is the most proven bat in the lineup, and the Pirates are hopeful he will provide more power in 2010 after missing 76 games in the first half of 2009 with a broken bone in his right wrist. He hit .250 with 10 home runs and 38 RBIs in 75 games.

    First baseman Garrett Jones (.293-21-44) and center fielder Andrew McCutchen (.286-12-54) both had fine rookie years despite not being called up from Class AAA Indianapolis until June. McCutchen's performance was expected, as he has been a highly touted prospect since the Pirates chose him in the first round of the 2005 draft. Jones, 28, was a complete surprise, as he had spent 11 seasons in the minor leagues, including five at Class AAA, when promoted on June 30.

    The only other positions players who figure to have a leg up on starting jobs when spring training begins next February are left fielder Lastings Milledge (.290-4-20 for the Pirates) and shortstop Ronny Cedeno (.258-5-21 for Pittsburgh). Milledge came from Washington in a trade with the reputation of having attitude problems, but he worked extremely hard after joining the Pirates on July 31 and showed great improvement down the stretch. Cedeno played solid defense during the final two months of the season after being acquired from Seattle in a trade, but his bat is a question mark.

    Second baseman Delwyn Young (.266-7-43), third baseman Andy LaRoche (.258-12-64) and right fielder Brandon Moss (.236-7-41) all had their moments. However, they will have to fight to retain their starting jobs in spring training. The Pirates are giving serious thought to trying LaRoche at second base next spring and signing a free agent this winter to challenge or supplant Moss in right field.

    "This was sort of a unique season in that it was almost like we had two different teams, one before the trades and one after," manager John Russell said. "It was tough from the fact you were bringing a lot of players from a lot of different organizations and putting them together in the middle of the season.

    "Things will be different next year. We'll go through a full spring training together. Everyone will know everyone else better. Everyone will have a better understanding of the Pirates' way of doing everything. I'm really looking forward to it."

    NOTES, QUOTES

    3B Andy LaRoche has been approached by the Pirates about the possibility of working out at second base next year in spring training. The Pirates' top prospect, Pedro Alvarez, is a third baseman, and moving LaRoche would clear a path to the major leagues for him. Furthermore, the Pirates are not convinced 2B Delwyn Young can be an everyday player after he struggled during the final month of the season.

    The Pirates were, fittingly, shut out in their season finale, losing 6-0 to Cincinnati. It marked the big-league-worst 17th time they were blanked this season. The Pirates had 10 hits but left 13 runners on base. RHP Jeff Karstens (4-6) was the starter and loser, giving up two runs and four hits in 2 1/3 innings. Rookie LHP Donnie Veal was rocked for four runs in one inning.

    LHP Paul Maholm finally admitted that he pitched all season with soreness in his left knee. Maholm strained the knee while pitching on opening day in St. Louis, and he had it wrapped in ice after every start. While he was able to get through the season without a missing a turn in the rotation, he finished just 8-9 with a 4.44 ERA in 31 starts. Maholm is optimistic that he won't need offseason surgery on a knee that has already been surgically repaired four times.

    RF Brandon Moss was told by GM Neal Huntington and manager John Russell during a meeting over the weekend that will have to win his starting job back in spring training next season. Moss received his first chance to play regularly in the major leagues this season, getting 385 at-bats but hitting .236 with seven home runs and 41 RBIs.

    C Ryan Doumit sat out the last two games of the season because of a mild concussion. Doumit was injured when struck on the head by a foul tip.

    RHP Jose Ascanio's target date to return to game action next season in June 1. He underwent arthroscopic surgery Oct. 2 to repair a torn labrum in his pitching shoulder.

    BY THE NUMBERS: 49 Players used by the Pirates this season, which ties the franchise record that was set in 1987 and matched in 2001.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "I know we look bad right now with the record, but I really believe we're building something special here. It might not happen overnight because we've got a young team, but we're heading in the right direction. Things are going to change for the better." RHP Jeff Karstens, on the Pirates, who were 62-99 for their 17th consecutive losing season, setting a major North American professional sports record.

    ROSTER REPORT

    The results looked as bad as ever this year, as the Pirates stumbled through their 17th losing season in a row. However, the future appears brighter thanks to a series of trades that rid the team of veteran players and brought back a stable of prospects. The record string of losing years figures to reach 18 in 2010, though.

    BIGGEST NEEDS: The Pirates, who finished last in the National League in runs scored, need a power hitter for the middle of the lineup, preferably a left-handed-hitting right fielder after Brandon Moss failed to fill the bill. They also would like to add a reliable left-handed reliever and a second baseman who could compete with Delwyn Young for the starting job in spring training.

    FREE AGENTS: No one on the roster is eligible for free agency.

    ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE: RHP Denny Bautista, RHP Matt Capps, SS Ronny Cedeno, LHP Zach Duke, RHP Jeff Karstens, RHP Tyler Yates, RHP Ross Ohlendorf (possible Super 2).

    The Pirates will at least explore the idea of signing Duke to a multiyear contract, and the same could hold true for Ohlendorf if he qualifies for arbitration as a Super 2 player (in the top 17 percent of major league players with between two and three years of service time). Capps, Cedeno and Karstens figure to return on one-year deals. Bautista was not tendered a contract last winter, and the Pirates likely will take the same course of action again, making him a free agent. Yates, who had Tommy John surgery on his elbow in July, also will be non-tendered.

    IN LIMBO: RHP Matt Capps and C Ryan Doumit will be used as potential trade bait, especially if the Pirates can get a decent package of youngsters in return. RF Brandon Moss likely will be traded if the Pirates acquire a power-hitting outfielder in free agency.

    MEDICAL WATCH:

    RHP Jose Ascanio (arthroscopic right shoulder surgery in October 2009) likely will be out until June.

    RHP Craig Hansen (nerve irritation in neck) did not pitch after April 20. His status is questionable, as he must wait for the nerve to regenerate.

    RHP Tyler Yates (Tommy John elbow surgery in July 2009) is unlikely to be ready to throw off a mound when spring training begins or pitch in a major league game until the All-Star break.

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    Default Re: USA Today: Pirates team report

    I would really like to get rid of Matt Capps...his straight fast ball isn't fooling anyone...and that's not what a young team needs right now.
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    Default Re: USA Today: Pirates team report

    Quote Originally Posted by BigBen2112 View Post
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    I would really like to get rid of Matt Capps...his straight fast ball isn't fooling anyone...and that's not what a young team needs right now.
    I had to laugh when he was *****ing that the Astro's were trying to steal signs when he was pitching. Like a opponent needs to steal signs to know that Capps is going to throw a 92 mph fastball,with no movement right down the middle of the plate.

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    Default Re: USA Today: Pirates team report

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    I had to laugh when he was *****ing that the Astro's were trying to steal signs when he was pitching. Like a opponent needs to steal signs to know that Capps is going to throw a 92 mph fastball,with no movement right down the middle of the plate.
    Closer Matt Capps converted 27 of 32 save opportunities but had a 5.80 ERA, and Huntington possibly will look to trade him in the winter rather than go to a potential salary arbitration hearing.



    Man it sucks what happened to Ascanio. That kid had some serious potential upside. Him and Brett Lorin were excellent talents we got in exchange for headcase Snell and ancient Jack Wilson and Ascanio's career is most likely done with that injury

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    Closer Matt Capps converted 27 of 32 save opportunities but had a 5.80 ERA, and Huntington possibly will look to trade him in the winter rather than go to a potential salary arbitration hearing.



    Man it sucks what happened to Ascanio. That kid had some serious potential upside. Him and Brett Lorin were excellent talents we got in exchange for headcase Snell and ancient Jack Wilson and Ascanio's career is most likely done with that injury
    That is indeed sad, but we still have Evan Meek who I think could be a half-way decent closer...and we have Hanrahan...who I would honestly rather have than Capps.
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    Default Re: USA Today: Pirates team report

    Capps blows. I have been calling for him to be replaced for over a year now. Straight fastballs that aren't that fast. Wow. I am sure opposing hitters are terrified.

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    Default Re: USA Today: Pirates team report

    Hanrahan has a loooooong was to go to even be considered for closing. His control is still lacking. If capps can find the control he had a year and a half ago he could easily keep the seat warm till someone else steps in. I like chavez myself. Decent control good heat. Seemed to be getting better and stronger for a while there. I like meek for setup unless we can find another shutdown lefty

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    Default Re: USA Today: Pirates team report

    None of the Pirate closer options are anything to get overly excited about. Hanrahan, Chavez and Meek all have the arm, stuff for it, but need the experience. I think they all would be heart attack specials, but propbably upgrades over Capps.

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    Default Re: USA Today: Pirates team report

    Quote Originally Posted by Lup View Post
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    None of the Pirate closer options are anything to get overly excited about. Hanrahan, Chavez and Meek all have the arm, stuff for it, but need the experience. I think they all would be heart attack specials, but propbably upgrades over Capps.
    Most likely true. The nice thing is that we have actual fall back options even if they needed to go to a closer by commitee type of setup.

    Going into a game for the close is tough mentally. Whoever has that job has to be tough mentally, have some good stuff, throw strikes but also be smart with situations as well.

    As painful as it were to hear about them already giving the closing role to Capps next year unless he's traded, it's the right choice. He had downright bad year this season, but he's still young, there could've been injury problems hanging. He very well could have a bounce back season

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    Capps blows. I have been calling for him to be replaced for over a year now. Straight fastballs that aren't that fast. Wow. I am sure opposing hitters are terrified.
    I'm not sure if terrified is the word. I think I recall a batter being worried of his 92 mph fastball.



    It also may have been due to Capps threw high and inside and had control issues.

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    Most likely true. The nice thing is that we have actual fall back options even if they needed to go to a closer by commitee type of setup.

    Going into a game for the close is tough mentally. Whoever has that job has to be tough mentally, have some good stuff, throw strikes but also be smart with situations as well.

    As painful as it were to hear about them already giving the closing role to Capps next year unless he's traded, it's the right choice. He had downright bad year this season, but he's still young, there could've been injury problems hanging. He very well could have a bounce back season
    I'd like to see a Pirate closer have some bravado...ya know...less than K-Rod...but more than lifeless Matt Capps...and his lifeless fastball too?
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    I'd like to see a Pirate closer have some bravado...ya know...less than K-Rod...but more than lifeless Matt Capps...and his lifeless fastball too?
    Capps had more life on his fastball in the past, His slider (I think that's his 2nd pitch) has decent bite on it but for whatever reason this year, he had no movement on his fastball and spent most of the time trying to pin point it accurately. When you do that, you're throwing out of the strike zone or giving up hits and runs

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    Default Re: USA Today: Pirates team report

    His confidence was slowly going away this season. It really went away after the Phillies blown save. He still had glimpses of good saves this year, but was missing the consistency you expect from a closer.

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    Capps had more life on his fastball in the past, His slider (I think that's his 2nd pitch) has decent bite on it but for whatever reason this year, he had no movement on his fastball and spent most of the time trying to pin point it accurately. When you do that, you're throwing out of the strike zone or giving up hits and runs
    The thing is that he's never really been a good closer. He's ALWAYS made it more interesting than it needs to be...and comparatively to other closers he just cant match up.
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    Default Re: USA Today: Pirates team report

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    The thing is that he's never really been a good closer. He's ALWAYS made it more interesting than it needs to be...and comparatively to other closers he just cant match up.
    Sure he was always a heart attack BUT his control had always been really really good and that completely disappeared this season. something was wrong with Capps. I don't know if it was a mechanical issue, if it were injury related or a combination of both but his control numbers nose dived beyond "just having an off year". smething wasn't right which is why I think its something that can be fixed easier. He still lacks a dominant second pitch to use in combination with his out pitch - fastball but he was trying to locate all year long which tells me that something was wrong

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