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Zatkoff robs Frans Zielsen during a late 2 man advantage, helping preserve the Penguins 6-4 victory. (Photo courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
In what was a thrilling and exciting game, the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the New York Islanders yesterday 6-4 on Long Island. This game had a definite playoff feel to it, right from the onset, and it did not fail to disappoint. It was a tail of two Penguins teams with plenty of action to go around; wild momentum swings, comebacks, extraordinary saves, you name it, it happened. I felt as if I was transported to last year’s ferocious playoff series. This game seemingly was a mirror image of many of those games.
Coming into this game I knew that this would be a struggle for the Penguins. They were coming off the heels of a very emotional and dominant win against the Canadiens, avenging their 5-1 loss to the Panthers, and were riding a wave of energy and emotion. Time, however, was not on the Penguins’ side. They had to immediately cull their emotional win and focus on their next opponent, the New York Islanders. The quick turnaround meant little rest for the Penguins who had to gear up and play a hungry Islanders team that loves to play against Pittsburgh. This also meant that it would probably take the Penguins some time to get their “game legs” under them. While New York certainly isn’t the best team (21-25-7, 49 pts), they have played the Penguins extremely well of late, including the dramatic 6 game playoff series that took the Penguins to the near brink of elimination. In fact in the 4 head-to-head games played this year, all but one (this one) were decided by 1 goal. Furthermore, coming into the game, the Islanders were riding a winning streak and were 7-3-0 in their last 10 games. Mix all of these factors together and you have the perfect recipe for a great game and even a potential “upset”.
While both teams employed the services of their backup netminders, it was the Penguins’ netminder, Jeff Zatkoff who would need to grow up…fast. The young, feisty Islanders swarmed the Zatkoff early and often, and it was Zatkoff, who had to make several “Fluery-esque” saves to help preserved the victory. In my mind Zatkoff... [Read More]
Quite frankly the infield corners is quite likely the Pirates weakest area down in the minors. There just isn't much here. With essentially no players looking like safe bets to be solid MLB contributors the top 5 prospects have 4 incredibly raw players with big upsides but big bust potential. The Pirates do have a fairly large stable of upper level 1B who could probably handle playing in the majors for a short period of time without looking completely overmatched. None of them have much upside but I believe anyone of them could be non-embarrassing. Without further ado here is the best of what are very slim pickings.
Top 5 Prospects
1. Stetson Allie: The Pirates corner infielders on the whole are a very uninspiring group. Best among them is probably Stetson Allie and this is based entirely on the fact of his awesome power potential. The story of Allie being drafted as a pitcher and being converted into a position player has been rehashed so many times that I'm not even going to bother discussing it. What Allie is right now is an intriguing 1st base prospect who has loads of power potential but who is still readjusting to hitting and has a rather large strikeout problem. Allie's problem really isn't plate discipline as he is willing to work counts it just that his swing is easily exploitable by quality pitchers. To have any chance of developing into more than what he is now Allie is going to have to improve upon his current swing. Allie will likely start 2014 back at A+.
2. Julio De La Cruz: De La Cruz is the Pirates top third base prospect in the system which speaks volumes to just how thin they are there considering De La Cruz just played his first professional season down in the DSL and struggled doing so batting .199 while posting a .640 OPS. He did show some decent power this past year but little else as he didn't even play the field all that regularly. Still the Pirates gave De La Cruz a 700K signing bonus so they obviously see something in him and he did play last season at the young age of 17 so he still has a lot of time to grow as a ball player. De La Cruz could repeat the DSL level again in 2014 but I have a sneaky suspicion the Pirates are going to push him up state side and let him play in the GCL.
3. Jose Osuna: The Pirates signed Osuna as an international free agent back in 2009. He was primarily a pitcher before the Pirates signed him but the Pirates signed him... [Read More]
| Jan 16, 2014 - 1:55 PM
It's a new year, which means the merry band of annual "fans" that like to endlessly cry about the Pittsburgh Pirates payroll, are back out in full force.
Despite there being plenty of time left to add to payroll, sign players, extend their own players, this perennial group of senseless PMS'ing males are ratcheting up their war cries against Bob Nutting and company.
As a now proud and often accused "apologist" over the years, it's always been my pleasure to throw out a ranting Blog Article once or twice a year on this subject. The most interesting aspect about this subject is that over the past 5 years, the whining has continued while the Pittsburgh Pirates have rebuilt to the point where they erased Major League's longest losing streaks and made the playoffs.
It's not good enough for these folks... STILL!
It's not about Wins and Loses, Success and Failure, it is about what Guesstimate Payroll figure that's released by a variety of sources. Since of course, the Pirates can only be successful with a large enough payroll to appease these people... well, except for that thing that happened in 2013 for the Pittsburgh Pirates - Success and Winning... let's ignore reality and go with the bong water sipping idiocy of mentally incapable.
Why are we hearing about it again? Why can't these people just be happy with the fact that despite all of their moaning and complaining about what they felt (and were completely wrong about), the Pirates managed to be successful despite a grand payroll? That payroll doesn't matter enough to really care about?
I think smoke just came out of a few people's ears with that last sentence.
Case in point was this umm.. Blog Post at Hidden Vigorish . We've got a guy complaining about Payroll and makes a pretty **** poor case for why anyone should really care. On top of that he types out the very thing that he can't seem to grasp in the first place ;
... [Read More]
"Some have not just defended the front office, but they’ve also taken an apathetic stance.
| Jan 08, 2014 - 5:02 PM
Back in January of 2013, I broke news that the Pittsburgh Pirates were going to replace the awful McClatchy era "Jolly-Roger" logo with a new design.. The Pirates confirmed this weeks later and even put into affect a committee to come up with Logo ideas.
It was all but certain..
Then 2013 ended and there was no word on the Pirates changing their logo. Rumors swirled that they'd debut one at PirateFest, however Tom Smith at Rumbunter broke news that the Pirates weren't changing the "Jolly-Roger" logo, but adopting the gold "P" as their primary back in early December... long before the local press mentioned it (a lot of wins for us Bloggers!)
As I did last year, I got the chance to talk to Pittsburgh Pirates President Frank Coonelly and ask him about the Logo change and what happened. He stated that they had a variety of logos and even chose one that they really liked, however they couldn't convince the Board Members and owner Bob Nutting to go along with the change. Point blank - they didn't like the Logo, but weren't opposed to the idea. I asked Mr. Connelly if they were still pursuing a logo change and he said enthusiastically - Yes. They have plans to continue to try and win over the Board Members and owner Bob Nutting and will continue trying until this is accomplished.
Until they manage to do so, the gold "P" logo has been adopted as the main logo as the McClatchy-era "jolly roger" is phased out. They are interested in continuing to use the McClatchy-era "jolly roger", but they can't decide on a replacement so the "P" is supposedly the current temporary replacement.
I forgot to mention that I asked Mr.Connelly about the mustard Gold color. It has always been my curiosity if they were ever considering a change in the color "yellow"? I had see a few logos or color schemes in 2013 related to the Pirates using the mustard gold and it created some curiosity. When I asked him he said "No, not at all" and then asked me "Why, do you like it?".. I responded "I don't mind either way, I thought it would be unique for the Pirates and then all 3 Pittsburgh sports teams would be Black and Gold but with their own versions of gold". He hesitated for a couple seconds and said "That's interesting".
... [Read More]
With not much happening in the baseball world especially pertaining to the Pirates I've decided to take a closer look at the minor league system. I have a fairly busy schedule so I'm not sure how frequently these will come but I'm going to try to take a look at each position. Today we start with the catchers.
Top 5 Prospects
1. Reese McGuire: The Pirates selected McGuire with the 14th overall pick in the most recent draft. He is a polished defensive catcher who has been calling his own games since the age of ten. Unlike most high school catchers there is very little doubt that McGuire will be able to stick at the catcher position. The questions surrounding McGuire are all about his offense and whether he will ultimately hit well enough to be a plus starting catcher in the majors. Last season is pro career got off to a great start down in rookie ball but by the end of the season he cooled off and wasn't hitting for much power. McGuire will begin the 2014 season as the primary catcher for the West Virginia Power in A ball.
2. Tony Sanchez: Sanchez was the 4th overall pick by the Pirates in the 2009 draft. Like McGuire his defense was highly praised but his offense was questioned. Going into last season it was beginning to look like Sanchez was a bust but he put up some strong offensive numbers in AAA and got himself back on the map as a potential catcher of the future. Sanchez has the upside of an above average starting catcher in the major leagues and he could be asked to take that role as early as next season. Headed into this offseason Sanchez looked like a good bet to start the year in the majors as Russell Martin's backup but with the acquisition of Chris Stewart, Sanchez will likely once again serve as the starting catcher in AAA. Should Martin land on the DL at any point in 2014 the expectation is that Sanchez would be given the chance to start over Stewart.
3. Jin-De Jhang: The Pirates signed Jhang out of Taiwan in 2011 and at the time the signing wasn't thought to be of much significance. Jhang's build is not that of a typical catcher and some scouts believed he wouldn't stick at the position. At the time of his signing he had very little experience catching so he had quite a few mechanical issues to work through but he did possess a few good tools such as a good throwing arm and a pretty good bat. In his two seasons in the Pirates system Jhang has shown considerable... [Read More]