Big Lead Sports Bar


Pirates Win, All is Well

It's amazing what a few wins over a crap team can do for you. The Yankees sweep the Pirates, and all of a sudden the Red Sox are allegedly "looking over their shoulders". The Pirates take the first two from Texas, and the Yankee series last weekend now seems like it never happened.

In case you haven't noticed (and judging by the attendance, you haven't), there's a developing storyline here in PirateLand. Jack Wilson has been introduced to the the Pirates' bench, and Jose Castillo has taken Wilson's place in the starting lineup. What's truly ironic is that Castillo was the very player that Wilson called out at this year's PirateFest:
"Jose, we love you, buddy, but we need you to come to spring training with your head right. If you're not in shape, number one, and not focused, number two, we don't want you. If you're not ready to be your best every game, every at-bat, every play in the field, do us all a favor and stay home in Venezuela."
Well, Jose didn't stay home in Venezuela. He came to the land of Grille 36 and Ronnie Florian, he waited his turn, and now he's making the most of his opportunity. Which is hard on me, because I can't make my usual "Slowpoke Rodriguez" jokes for the time being.
How is Jack handling his situation? Not well. He blames his horrendous, terrible, awful, appalling, frightful, hideous, grim, ghastly, shocking, revolting, repulsive, horrid, horrendous, horrifying, repellent play in Saturday's Yankee game for the demotion. I don't know if Jack was out late sightseeing the night before or what, but he looked totally lost in that game. It was worthy of a benching. Yes, he was that bad. And it's not as if his offense makes up for his recent defensive shortcomings. He's on pace for a .251, 8 HR season. Derek Jeter, he is not.
For once, I'm going to praise Jim Tracy for what he's done here. I've been very outspoken about Tracy's failure to make lineup changes, and this pretty much goes against the grain of everything I've seen from him to this point.
Wilson's obviously not happy with the benching, and how he, and in turn, Tracy, handle this will speak volumes about both of them. The Pirates need to play the best nine every day, regardless of seniority, salary, or personal friendships. If Jack Wilson is no longer in that top nine, then he deserves to sit, despite his team-high $5.4 million salary.
As for tonight's game, I knew the Rangers' pitching was bad, but I never thought it was this bad. When Pirate broadcasters are chuckling about how directionless your organization is, that should be a red flag.
But the broadcasters are correct...Texas is a mess. On Tuesday night, we saw Kevin Millwood, he of the 7.82 ERA, get knocked around for 6 runs over 4 1/3 against the light-hitting Buccos. Is this the same Kevin Millwood that led the AL in ERA (2.86) in 2005? Or the same Kevin Millwood that finished third in Cy Young voting in 1999? I thought so. Wednesday's Ranger Combo Platter of Robinson Tejeda, Joaquin Benoit, CJ Wilson, Frank Francisco, Onion Rings and a Diet Coke was actually a run worse than Tuesday's performers.
Besides the nearly $10-million-a-year Millwood, the Rangers are trotting retreads like Kenny Lofton and Sammy Sosa out there on a regular basis. Lofton, a former Dave Littlefield signing, has one of the most interesting career salary roller coasters I've ever seen. Follow this:
1991 Houston Astros $100,000
1992 Cleveland Indians $110,000
1993 Cleveland Indians $450,000
1994 Cleveland Indians $925,000
1995 Cleveland Indians $1,925,000
1996 Cleveland Indians $3,575,000
1997 Atlanta Braves $4,825,000
1998 Cleveland Indians $7,550,000
1999 Cleveland Indians $7,550,000
2000 Cleveland Indians $7,500,000
2001 Cleveland Indians $8,000,000
2002 Chicago White Sox $1,025,000
2003 Pittsburgh Pirates $1,025,000
2004 New York Yankees $3,100,000
2005 Philadelphia Phillies $3,100,000
2006 Los Angeles Dodgers $3,821,236
2007 Texas Rangers $6,000,000
So the same guy who made a little over a million for the Pirates in 2003 at age 36 is now worth six times that at age 40? No wonder Texas is a bad team...they could potentially have a worse GM than the Pirates. And that's saying something.
Kenny Lofton [Baseball Reference]


AJ said...

what was that thing CJ Wilson was wearing around his neck last night? They said it was some sort of energy necklace.

If it works, can we knit those into a bench and put it in the Pirates dugout?

Adam said...

Raul, your really not gonna mention terrelle pryor giving pitt the finger? I think its pretty newsworthy.

Texy said...

Tuesday and Wednesday night's games were my first at PNC, and it did not disappoint. The team looked sharp (granted, against the Rangers... but still!) and the atmosphere was great.

Congrats to Ian for the complete game- he was fabulous.

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

We have better things to do than chase around teenage athletes sniffing their jocks Adam. Just tell me how Pitt did in recruiting on national signing day. It's June right now lil buddy.

Onto something that's kind of relevant...

Anyways, the Pirates have been so bad that I've been checking out the American League equivalent to the Pirates lately, the Devil Rays (they're on TV where I live all the time).

They don't have a ton of fans, but people in Tampa seem to be very optimistic about them... in fact they have been since 1998.

The difference between Tampa and Pittsburgh: In Pittsburgh we know the team sucks and we admit we're screwed. In Tampa, they really keep thinking it's going to get better.

They've got some decent young hitters though. Too bad about everyone of them has horrible discipline problems.

Delmon Young - Hits minor league ump with bat.

Elijah Dukes - Beats his wife and threatens to kill her.

BJ Upton - Got arrested for something I forgot about.

Maybe the Rays are onto something though. Maybe, they've learned from the "U" down in Miami to not worry about personal flaws and just get guys that can play.

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

Question: Didn't 93.7 used to be B-94 back in the day?

Unknown said...

Louis, you are correct. Then it became Pittsburgh's KROQ affiliate before becoming the current Man Station.

Unknown said...

And on the Buccos, well done Ian. The Devil Rays need questionable character guys to keep folks interested, given they play in possibly the worst place to play in the bigs and have to compete with some of the nicest beaches in Fla.

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

Brad, the fans here in Tampa aren't exactly "rabid/sports savvy" types, but if you give them something to cheer for they'll come out and support the teams a little.

... well... ok the Lightning and Buccaneers basically had to win championships to get a fanbase, but you get what I'm saying here.

It's much worse in Miami. The Marlins have won two World Series already, and not even that long ago. They're another young team on the rise, and despite all of this nobody there cares. I think the only games they sold out in 2003 were the World Series games!

So I think Miami is the worst place to play in the bigs. Tampa could be ok. If Tampa won something the Rays could get a decent fanbase, at least better than what the Marlins muster!!

Unknown said...

Louis, I was referring to Tropicana Park, not the city of Tampa. I was in Tampa for a week last summer, seemed like a somewhat sports-saavy city, given I saw front page coverage of Bucs training camp and the Rays-Yanks series was all over the local news.

Anonymous said...

The D-Rays have no chance of ever winning anything. They play in the same division as the Yanks and Sox and will never be able to outspend either one. In that regard, the D-Rays may actually be worse off than the Buccos.

Mondesi, two wins against the worst team in the AL (before reverting to form tonight) did nothing to make me forget about the embarrassment that was last wknd.

I was very happy to learn that B-94 was finally put out of its misery some time ago. It was the worst radio station in the history of radio stations. Here's hoping that Bubba the Goat Boy is unemployed and sleeping under the West End Bridge.