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As you probably know I have been working on assembling two All Time Pirates teams based on place of birth. One of those teams is made up of players born outside the 50 US states and District of Columbia. Recently I just concluded the non-pitchers which for the international team consisted of 130 players. I thought it would be interesting to break that group down a little farther and look at the players on a country by country basis. In all fifteen "countries" are represented in the pool of eligible international players but only four have enough players to put together a starting 8. Below is my chosen starting 8 for each squad.
Canada (17 eligible players)
C: George Gibson
1B: Justin Morneau
2B: John O'Brien
3B: Russell Martin
SS: Pop Smith
LF: Doug Frobel
CF: Jason Bay
RF: Matt Stairs
* Morneau gets the edge over Jimmy Knowles and Frank Colman (who also just lost to Frobel) in the closest race. Martin at 3B probably seems odd but only three players have played any 3rd and one of them Pop Smith is the only one to have ever played SS (Billy Reid is the other with all of one game).
Puerto Rico (24 eligible players)
C: Junior Ortiz
1B: Orlando Merced
2B: Jose Lind
3B: Jose Hernandez
SS: Jose Pagan
LF: Wil Cordero
CF: Carlos Bernier
RF: Roberto Clemente
* Pagan had a 3B or SS spot locked down and Hernandez edged out Fernando Gonzalez, Rey Quinones and Ramon Vazquez for the other spot. Outfield is a mess with Bernier and Cordero barely edging out Sixto Lezcano. Merced could move to the outfield by Carlos Rivera or Eddie Vargas weren't exactly pushing to be started.
Venezuela (15 eligible players)
C: Raul Chavez
1B: Vic Davalillo
2B: Carlos Garcia
3B: Luis Sojo
SS: Ronny Cedeno
LF: Jose Tabata
CF: Gorkys Hernandez
RF: Tony Alvarez
* Al Pedrique challenged Sojo and Cedeno for their starting spots. Davalillo should be in the OF but is the only player with significant time at 1B. As for the outfield Alex Ramirez pushed Hernandez and Alvarez for the final two spots. Jose Castillo is probably the most notable player to miss out but aside from a few flashes he wasn't all that... [Read More]
ATP Near and Far is a 10 part series dedicated to assembling two teams of All Time Pirates greats based upon their place of birth. The "near" team will consist of players born exclusively in the state of Pennsylvania and the "far" team will consist of players born outside of the 50 US states and the District of Columbia. Each roster will consist of 25 players the particulars of how the rosters will be assembled can be found in the introduction post here.
All Time Pirates Near and Far: Outfielders
International: There are a staggering 50 eligible players for the all international team outfield. An additional 23 players have also played the position and of those I will highlight the interesting case of Manny Jimenez. The Dominican born Jimenez played for the Pirates in 1967 and 1968 appearing in 116 games but remarkably he only saw time in the field in 11 of those games. Equally remarkable in those 11 games he started 9 of them and finished just 3 of them. He was a pinch hitter extraordinaire and excelled in the role posting a solid 126 wRC+. He by far has the most PA of anyone who doesn’t qualify for a position on either team.
Of the 50 eligible players, 32 received fewer than 500 PA. In order for this not to be a long drawn out process I will just briefly touch on these 32 highlighting the ones I see as notable. In the fewer than 10 PA crowd we have Bill Farmer (1888, Ireland), Angel Mangual (1969, Puerto Rico), Alberto Lois (1978-79, Dominican Republic), Bill Miller (1902, Germany), Phil Routcliffe (1890, Canada) and Tony Armas (1976, Venezuela). Manguel and Armas are the two players that had the longest most successful careers of the bunch. Manguel played with the Athletics from 1971-76 mainly serving in a reserve capacity whereas Armas played from 1977-89 with 3 different clubs earning three All Star appearances and twice finishing in the top 5 for MVP.
With fewer than 50 PA we have Luis Marquez (1954, Puerto Rico), Jose Gonzalez (1991, Dominican Republic), Gorkys Hernandez (2012, Venezuela), Felix Pie (2013, Dominican Republic), Frank Smith (1884, Canada), Ruben Mateo (2004, Dominican Republic) and Michael Martinez (2014, Dominican Republic). I am actually a bit surprised by the recency of this list as a player from each of the past 3 seasons... [Read More]
What MATTers: Panthers in Prime Position for March Madness Down the Stretch -
The Pitt men's basketball team traveled to Charlottesville, VA this past Monday in hopes of earning a marquee road win. The #2 Cavaliers shunted the Panthers' hopes of an upset by playing smothering defense. Pitt was held to 15 points at the half, one of the lowest offensive outputs in the team's history. As a result, Pitt fell, 61-49, in a game that was much closer than the score.
Despite the defeat, Pitt's computer numbers took big, positive strides. The Panthers moved into the Top 50 in the ratings percentage index (RP)I, and into the Top 75 in strength of schedule (SOS). This improvement is favorable for the Panthers' hopes of qualifying for March Madness. However, Pittsburgh's resume is still lacking wins away from home. Including this afternoon's triumph at the Carrier Dome against the Syracuse Orange, the Panthers stand at 2-7 in true road contests. The number in the win column must only rise. The good news? Pitt has two more opportunities. It plays at Wake Forest on March 1 and at Florida State to close the regular season on March 7. Playing hypothetical, two wins there would raise the road win total to 4. When one factors in that Pitt is 2-1 in neutral site games, 5-8 does not look all that bad. Plus, Pitt will be playing in the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, NC. A couple of wins or more, and Pitt could run its road/neutral record to close to .500. Thus, the Panthers are in good position to address this weakness. Further, Pitt must accumulate additional wins to improve its profile.
A game that possesses a large implications is the home finale on March 4 against Miami (FL). The Hurricanes, like the Panthers, are fighting for a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The winner there likely knocks the other from consideration. A win over the Hurricanes would provide the Panthers with another RPI Top 100 victory. At the moment, the Panthers are a mediocre 4-8 against the RPI Top 100, another mark Pitt must improve upon.
If the Panthers finish the year at 11-7 in the ACC, they will likely earn a middle-of-the-conference seed in the Conference Tournament. The positive there is Pitt will likely have opportunities to play against additional RPI Top-100 foes. Dates with the upper echelon of the ACC would be likely.
The opportunities lie ahead for Pitt. With this afternoon's win over Syracuse, Pitt controls its... [Read More]
| Feb 18, 2015 - 11:22 AM
Easiest way to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins?
Is is the Trap system?
Is it keeping 2 Defensemen back?
Is it getting them off their game by getting under their skin?
While the first 2 certainly have been like kryptonite since Mario and Co. shut out Scotty Bowman from practices, you need the personnel and coaching to accomplish it.
Getting under the Penguins skin? Anyone can do that. You don't need to coach it, you just need to advise it. Last night against the Washington Capitals, that was what happened. Alexander Ovechkin got away with a nasty slash and it unwrapped the Pittsburgh Penguins. The stupid retaliatory shots began, the bad penalties and ultimately the 5 on 3 PP goal that sealed the Pens fate.
This is an ongoing issue with the Pens. It hasn't mattered who the coaches are, the Pittsburgh Penguins have been a team that loses it's composure easily. It usually only takes one player on the opposing team to do something, major or minor and the entire Penguins roster loses itself.
You can't win Championships like that. You can't make it to the Finals with that type of self imploding mentality. At this point, the Pens won't make it a round in the Playoffs playing with this type of discipline.
What's the cure?
The Pens have had guys retaliate by fighting but let's be honest here, nobody is afraid of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Nobody cares about taking shots at Kris Letang or any other Penguins players.
Steve Downie and Max LaPierre.
These guys were brought in to get under the opposing teams skin. They were brought in to make the other team take dumb penalties and get them off of their game. So far, neither have done that. What we've seen is Steve Downie become the victim more times than not and take the bad penalties. The Pens "pests" aren't being affective pests, not in the way that Jarrko Ruutu and the early version of Matt Cooke were.
If our players aren't initiating the pesting and getting other teams off of their game, how do the Pens prevent themselves from taking the bait?
Good ol' self discipline.
Let a guy or 2 have their retaliation fights and don't get sucked in to taking dumb penalties out of frustration. Chris Kunitz shouldn't be taking undisciplined penalties late in games out of frustration. It was the same issue the Penguins had with James... [Read More]
| Feb 17, 2015 - 8:47 AM
Sometimes even a title to a Blog Article can cause a commotion. Afterall, It's Bob Nutting and speaking of him in a positive light. A topic that is still not done in Pittsburgh. It's not done by the fans nor most of the media. When the Pittsburgh Steelers or Pittsburgh Penguins are winning and doing well, the fans and media are singing Mario's and The Rooney's graces. When those teams are doing poorly, blame the coaches!
It's always been blame Bob Nutting, even when Kevin McClatchy was making all of the decisions and driving the organization into the ground with bad decisions.
It was Bob Nutting's fault.
The Pirates have turned things around not just at the Major League level but across the entire organization. It is one of the deepest organizations in all of baseball. The Pirates aren't just built to win in the present and near future, they are built to win for many many years (I said that in my head like I was Cmdt. Lassard). Credit has rightfully been given to GM Neal Huntington and President Frank Coonelly for the job they have done sticking to their plan through animosity. They never gave in to media scrutiny and pressure like their predecessor. They remained focused knowing it was going to be a long process and we are now seeing the results of their work over the past couple of seasons.
Yet there's one man, that got it all started.
While Kevin McClatchy was still making Baseball Decisions (which should never have happened), Bob Nutting took over the majority and went around to various MLB teams, talking to different Owners, Presidents and GM's to learn about Baseball's operations. If people weren't pegging Bob Nutting to payroll, they were pegging him to the horrible state of how the organization was run, something that wasn't entirely his fault. For that 2007 season, Bob Nutting learned a few things about baseball and when Kevin McClatchy was "nudged" out, that was when all of the changes occurred.
The dire state of the Pirates Dominican facilities didn't get addressed until Bob Nutting made a trip to actually see them. Many in some circles believe that it was this trip to the Dominican Republic that set stage for the control takeover from Kevin McClatchy. It took roughly half of a year from the time it was announced that Bob Nutting was taking the expanded role of Principle Owner before Kevin McClatchy left the same... [Read More]