Ohlendorf to Face Astros Day After Astros Closed Door Meeting. Heh Cecil, It’s Grapefruit League


Like hard working Americans waiting around for the stimulus plan to work, Pirates fans are waiting as patiently as possible on the young players aquired in the Nady and Bay trades to perform. Obama calls his plan redistributing wealth.

Pirates fans think its redistributing wealth as well.  Their opinion is the rich Yankees got richer and the Pirates got suckered.  Just like tax payers.

I don’t think we got suckered at all.

I believe Ross Ohlendorf has to make the rotation.  He is showing it in the Grapefruit League.  With everyone who owns a Pirates hat just dying for some consistent pitching, all eyes are on the 6’4″ Texan.  He just looks different this year with Coach Kerrigan at his side. Lord knows it would shut up the negative spin on the Nady trade and I am all for shutting up second guessers.  Keep an eye on Ross today as he takes the mound against the struggling Astros. 

MLB.Com is reporting that Astros Coach Cecil Cooper had a closed-door meeting with his coaching staff yesterday, less than 12 hours after the Astros were shut out for the second time this spring in a game that had a little bit of everything, and not in a good way. The result was grim, and everyone — pitchers, hitters, fielders — had a hand in the 13-0, four-error, two-hit loss to the Braves.  They followed that up with a 5-1 loss to the Cardinals to drop their record to 1-7-1.  Brandon Backe is the scheduled starter for the Astros.

Pirates fans need something to really pull out of all this spring training success.  A hard throwing Ohlendorf would be good for all of us.  A win over the certain to be inspired Astros could prove a nice notch in the belt.  We need someone who can eat up some innings and I know Pirates fans are thin on patience as apparently so is Cecil Cooper.

Ohlendorf was introduced to Joe Kerrigan while he was with NY Yankees, where Kerrigan served as a bullpen coach during the 2006 and ’07 seasons.  Ohlendorf was the key player the Yankees received in the Randy Johnson deal.  He made the postseason roster after a nice run in the end of the regular season for the Yanks.  His success ended and his slide began and he became trade bait that the Pirates couldn’t pass up last summer.

After coming over to the Pirates, he was sent to AAA where he proved to be dominating, striking out 40 in 46 2/3 innings and only allowing five walks. To say he disappointed when he was called up would be an understatement, he went 0-3 with a 6.35ERA.  He gave up three home runs, twelve free passes while striking out 13 in 22 innings.

But let’s look deeper…remember when Kerrigan was with the Yankees in 2007?  He had Ohlendorf in his bullpen.  I find it interesting that under Kerrigan’s tutelage he had nine strikeouts in 6.1 innings that year winning that post season roster spot.  Perhaps it was because he was more a reliever with the Yankees, or he wasn’t enamored with leaving the House that Ruth built for the city that Peyton built.  Or perhaps he had trouble adjusting to playing in September with the Pirates?   Many Pirates sources say he was overcoached, predictable with two strikes, and his velocity had fallen but regardless, last year is over. “I’m not really concerned about last year,” Ohlendorf said.  “I feel like this year is going to be much better.”

Fast forward to today and Ohlendorf is one of many key young players that Pirates fans are waiting on in the latest rebuilding effort.   His changeup must be worked in and when I saw it earlier this year, I was impressed.  Also you can point to his performance this spring, Ohlendorf was perfect in his first spring outing, pitching two scoreless, hitless innings and striking out three against the Boston Red Sox. On Tuesday, he gave up one run in two innings to get the win against The Netherlands.

Combined with Kerrigan, some changes have been made in his mechanics.  Let’s keep an eye on Ross and see if that heater can hit the high 90s today.  We need it.