Big Lead Sports Bar


Weekend Newsmakers

PEDRO ALVAREZ hit his second home run in as many days, and Garrett Jones knocked in three runs to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to an 8-5 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. The Bucs took three of four from the reigning NL Champs, and have now won five of their last seven.

Evan Meek picked up the win, his fourth of the year, in his one inning of relief, and Octavio Dotel threw a scoreless ninth for his 19th save of the season. Starter Jeff Karstens allowed nine hits and five runs in his six innings of work to come away with a no-decision. Delwyn Young and Jones each drove in two runs during the Pirates' momentum-turning six-run 7th inning to aid the cause. 

The Pirates have a day off before they take to the road on Tuesday night, as Brad Lincoln (4.65, 1-2) takes on Wandy Rodriguez (5.30, 5-10) in Houston

My take: Quietly, the Pirates have built a little bit of momentum after seemingly hitting rock bottom yet again, and it's welcome news around these parts. Pedro Alvarez is starting to show some power, the starters have had a few nice outings, and for once, the team appeared to actually have fun playing the game on Sunday. Their next opponent, Houston, is having nearly as bad a season as the Pirates, so this upcoming series could provide a rare opportunity for some real momentum.

EVAN MEEK was named as the Pirates' representative for this year's All-Star Game, to be played July 13 in Anaheim. 

While a case could certainly be made for Andrew McCutchen, no one is complaining with the choice of Meek, who has had an outstanding season, with a 0.98 ERA, 4-2 record, 42 strikeouts, 11 walks and a .178 opponents' batting average in a staff-high 37 appearances. He is the first Pirate middle-reliever to get an All-Star nod since Mace Brown in 1938.

My take: Meek has emerged as a good story in a sea of unfortunate Pirate tales, and he certainly didn't take the usual path to get where he is. This team always seems to strike gold in the bullpen, and it looks like Neal Huntington has unearthed another gem in Meek, a 2007 Rule 5 draft pick via Tampa Bay.

ROB NIEDERMAYER is the next veteran on the Penguins' radar, according to the PG's Dave Molinari. Niedermayer would potentially fill the third-line center role in the event that either Jordan Staal or Evgeni Malkin is moved to winger, as expected. If things don't work out with Niedermayer, other possibilities on the market include Dominic Moore, Jeff Halpern, John Madden, and Ryan Johnson, many of whom are very familiar with the Pens.

My take: Niedermayer isn't expected to bring much offense to the table (he hasn't scored 20 goals or more since 1995-96), but the numbers could work (he earned $1 million last year for New Jersey) and he brings the presence of an elder statesman, for whatever that's worth to this particular team. If Jordan or Geno make the move to wing, someone's going to have to fill that hole, and given the Pens' budget, it's going to be someone the likes of Niedermayer.

TAKERU KOBAYASHI, one of the world's most prolific competitive eaters, was arrested yesterday when he showed up and rushed the stage at the conclusion of the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Championship in New York, once again won by Joey Chestnut. There was apparently a contractual dispute between Kobayashi and Major League Eating that caused the impasse. And no, I'm not making that up.

My take: The only loser in this was competitive eating fans. Chestnut was not pushed by any of the also-rans making up the field, therefore eliminating any of the drama of previous competitions. He ate "only" 54 hot dogs this year, which is still a lot, but not when you consider he downed 68 at the 2009 event. The Penguins need the Flyers, Batman needs the Joker, and Chestnut needs Kobayashi. Arch-rivals are a necessary evil in life.


SantoGold said...

You said: " the event that either Jordan Staal or Evgeni Malkin is moved to winger, as expected."

I've heard that idea mentioned once or twice, but is it really now expected to happen? That would be pretty big news.

Keith Mitchell said...

Good to see Joey Votto not make it because of guys like Evan Meek and the idiotic "every team" rule for the ASG.

No sport needs an English Premiere League rule more than MLB. Force owners to try and make their team better or lose your MLB status. Two teams each season lose their MLB status and two Triple A teams move up.

JW said...

Evan Meek and his sub-1.00 ERA is nowhere near the reason Votto hasn't made it--how about the Atlanta Braves utility player that got picked? Don't bring the anti-Pirates crusade in this case, it's not warranted. Aim your frustration at the fans who voted and the manager who couldn't find room on a 40-man roster for Votto, who might just be the NL MVP.

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

Evan Meek's a pitcher, he didn't take Votto's place on the team.

Do you even know how the selections work?

Now, if there had been a pitcher, especially a reliever, that got royally screwed, THEN you could say that Meek stole that guy's spot.

But there's a certain amount of spots reserved for pitchers, and a certain amount for position players. Meek took one of the pitcher spots because, again, HE'S A PITCHER.

BTW, the Pirates suck, but Meek and Cutch have both been beasts this year. Don't discount them because of the overall crappiness of the team.

Nate said...

Votto not making it is beyond ridiculous, but Evan Meek is not the reason he's not in. I think Meek would be an All-Star with or without the every team rule...he's got the lowest ERA in baseball and he's been lights out this year.

Regardless, I definitely voted for Votto the max number of times in the final vote. He's the most underrated player in the game, IMO. Great hitting, good defense. I'd have definitely taken him over Ryan Howard or Omar Frackin' Infante.

Also, the English Premiere League idea would be a good one if minor league teams functioned independently of their Major League affiliates. It wouldn't work at all. The function of the minors is to develop players to become Major Leaguers. If a minor league team has a good record, it's because the big league club put the players there for them to do it. They have no way of acquiring players themselves.

HomeRunFromBehindTheMeatballs said...

The fan vote needs to be taken away & Omar Infante needs to be booted off the squad in favor or Joey Votto. This is the reason why it means nothing to me when someone quotes a baseball players career achievements & includes "___ time All-Star".

Evan Meek is a legit All-Star this season. He's been lights out. Though, having heard evan meek made the roster, my first thought was "TWO PIRATES MADE IT?". Wouldn't really count Cutch as a snub though (what with the depth of talent at OF & other teams getting the guaranteed 1 All-Star in his position [ChC, ARI, HOU])

Steve said...

Nice to see Meek getting the props he deserves. He's one of Huntington's few rays of sunshine but as much as a solid, innings eating reliever is needed to build a winning team around, don't be surprised if they trade him. Of course everyone who thinks he's great now will be siding with the excuse makers if it happens in saying he was nothing but a Rule 5 pickup, flash in the pan and Huntington was right in trading him regardless of for who. You know, 26-year old, AA utility infielders that everyone needs to “reserve” judgment on, all the while complaining about how there’s no middle-relief. Besides, we all know how long All-Star’s last on this team; whether deserved All-Stars or not. Meek’s probably all ready imagining his new jersey colors.

Santo - I think a Malkin/Staal line is definitely going to happen this year simply out of necessity but it probably won’t be permanent. They’ll probably bring in a center on a one-year deal and then next season, or before this season’s trade deadline, be in better position cap-wise and depth-wise to finally answer the long standing deficit at wing. As deep as they with defensemen now, even in WBS, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Goligoski, or even Orpik moved along with one of our many 3rd line quality forwards to get top quality winger at the expense of another team pressed for cap space.

Adam said...

Steve, Evan Meek doesn't even make any money, and won't for a while. Even if you and your tin foil terror over Bob Nutting's cheapness were true, Evan Meek being traded this year wouldn't fit into the narrative.