2009 Pirates Baseball-Pride, Passion, Pray for the Pyromaniacs


The Pittsburgh Pirates pitching staff strikes fear in 91%…of us.  Too bad it’s not the opposition. So I make a recommendation before the season even starts.  Let’s make a deal. And we will mix in the pitching matchups along the way to see just how tired you are this Monday morning.  Pass me the matches and buckle up.

The 2009 season is upon us and the way I look at it, we are going to need some practice doing two things at once.  For example, when the bases are loaded in the first inning you are going to be cursing some of the starters.  Likewise sometime in the seventh inning of a game this week, it isn’t going to look pretty.  You will need to do other things.  Here is your practice session.

Thus the idea behind this stupid post.  Discuss the possibility of trading one of these guys and also mix in who he will face this week.

One pitcher you won’t be cussing is Tom Gorzelany.  However, there is a possiblity you will be biting your nails watching Matt Capps.

The next two spokesmen for NutriSystem,  ‘the Mad Capper and Gorzo each had a rocky spring. Further disproving the ‘lose weight– further your career strategy’ being spread around quicker than that end of spring stomach flu.  Please ignore all recommendations regarding losing weight, so far it doesn’t work.  Gorzo is gone and if you can find the heat on Capps fastball please let us know while you are down there Tom.  Eat a little bit fellas, get back to glory.

Gorzelany had more rumors circling his head this spring.  Some of them..he had a blowout with Coach, he had an arguement with Pitching Coach Joe Kerrigan, he was pissed about not getting an extension perhaps, and as I believe, he might have had other problems. Well, maybe so, but his performance on the mound this spring (7.00ERA, 1.44WHIP, 9IP) didn’t help his cause either.

We are obviously missing something with the story.  In a preseason that had one to many juicy headlines, the most important to me was the loss of Gorzelany.  As the season starts, Gorzelany will not be in St. Louis, but with the AAA ball club awaiting the start of their season on April 9.

I trust he gets back to the big leagues, he is as great of a guy as you can meet. His wife is equally as nice, we know from our time in Bradenton this spring.  I’m certain they didn’t expect the change of scenery from Pittsburgh to Indianapolis, but Gorzelany has pitched well since being demoted.

So which Pirates pitcher could or will be moved to better the ballclub this season? Could Gorzelany be on the block?   I doubt he could return much in a trade and surely the Pirates aren’t going to give up on him.  But maybe a change of scenery would serve the family well?  He is eligible for arbitration after the year, he was drafted in 2003, and his salary is still low at $430K.

How about Paul Maholm?  He was just signed to an extension right?  Rather affordable numbers as well $3.5, $4.5, 6.5 and then $10.6 in 2012.  If a blockbuster happens, I would have to look very closely at the deal as I am not convinced Maholm will rule the league over the course of the next four years.

Maholm is the current star on a roster dying for such.  Reminds you of Jason Bay doesn’t it?  He needs to rub off on as many starters as possible, as quickly as possible.  But if at the All-Star break, the Pirates are struggling, would you be against moving him?  Would a contender part with a bat of significance for a starting pitcher beginning to show solid consistency?

"OPENER FACTS:  Maholm made three starts against the Cardinals last season and went 2-1 with a 3.05 ERA. In two career starts at Busch Stadium, he is 1-1 with a 3.55 ERA. He also not alone in the fact that Albert Pujols has given him more fits at the plate than anyone else expected to be in St. Louis’ Opening Day lineup. Pujols is 8-for-16 against Maholm with three doubles, one homer and three RBIs. Pujols has also drawn five walks. Wainwright is a stud, but 35 hits in 25 innings in the spring.  I like our chances, Freddy has a big day against him (again).Then I see Maholm continuing the Pirates domination against the Reds Saturday.  We owe Aaron Harang (2-3,  26H in 25.2IP) after he severely limited the Pirates offense.  2-0 for Maholm this week?  Sure why not."

The Pirates staff desperately needs a dominator.   I like the quote in PG’s Dejan Kovacevic article from Pirates Director of Latin American Scouting “Challenge the hitter,” he says of his criteria. “I want the pitcher who takes the mound in Pittsburgh and scares the Phillies, not the one trying to be clever.” 

"I am watching the opener in Philadelphia…and guess who??  Atlanta Brave Mike Gonzalez’s 93 mph heater to close the door on the Phillies giving the opener to the Braves."

The closest power armed dominator we have is Ian Snell.  Gotta hang on to Ian, perhaps he can even move to the bullpen in a few years.  I could see that in him.  He led the team in strikeouts per innings pitched.  He has piled up strikeouts throughout the past few years.  I look for Snell to bounce back this year. 

"Snell pitches tomorrow against Cards sensation Kyle Lohse. (Lohse struggled in ST where he gave up 9HR in 31 IP with a WHIP of 1.29 and 4.55ERA)Snell then appears to be matched against Bronson Arroyo (0-3, 5.95ERA, 1.78WHIP, on Sunday versus the Reds.   We say Snell ends the week with a 2-0 record after getting little run support last season, pressing to live up to his contract, or whatever story you believe.  I see the Bucs thumping Lohse and then returning the favor against the carpal tunnel sufferer Arroyo.  Also, somebody get me on Ian’s  softball team."

Many talking heads have stated that Pirates lefthander John Grabow was on the block. Nothing was mentioned about Zach Duke.  And it stands to reason.  Arguments for Grabow as a Type A free agent at the end of last season can be made. Not so for Duke.  We will monitor both closely this season, but regardless the Pirates should hang on to them.  Each will garner more by NOT trading him. Duke makes $2.2 million (nice paycheck).  We can squeeze some production this year and then gamble in arbitration.  

"Duke will face Todd Wellemeyer who had an awful spring.  His ERA was 7.00, but he still managed 17K and only 4BB.   He allowed 32 hits in 27 innings."

While the stock ticker on Duke has plummeted, Grabow has soared. Grabow pitched well in a limited role for Team USA in The World Baseball Classic. For the Pirates this spring Duke and Grabow were some of the bright spots on a staff full of arsonists (Grabow–3.86ERA, 1.14WHIP, 7IP,. 3K while Duke had an ERA, 1.21WHIP, 28IP,16K)

Grabow will be up for arbitration in 2010, he makes $2.3 million this year. So, he would get a raise. If Grabow declines we could get some serious combinations of picks.  Type B?  Pirates get a first round compensation pick. Type A free agent? Bucs get a first round compensation pick, plus the 2010 first round pick from the team that signs him for 2010. Now that is building for the future Pirates style.

I assume Ross Ohlendorf and Jeff Karstens would be untouchable. 

"On Thursday, Ross faces Cy Young winner Chris Carpenter (1.52ERA, 0.97WHIP this spring) who returns after nearly two years out of the game.  How do you like this matchup?   LaRussa is still a mastermind after going 164-160 over past two seasons since the Cards won the World Series.  Karstens pitches against Johnny Cueto Friday.  Nice.  I like it.  Football Friday night. 10-7 Buccos."

The middle relievers?  Well….that might be a whole different post.  I like the potential, but am praying for some solid starts in the early going.  Nothing persoanl fellas.

Matt Capps is our closer.  How much do you think we are going to need a closer after xx date?  Nice career numbers wth 162K and 33BB, his WHIP is 1.06 and he has 40 saves. 

We say Trade Capps.

He can be moved for the most return.  When do we pull the trigger?  Whoa you say??  What in the world are you thinking RumBunter?  I am not thinking, I just am running out of patience for the season to start.

"Remember Mike Gonzalez?  You miss him?  Hell no you don’t…So, the first week ends with the Pirates 6-1 and heading home.  Astros should pitch Moehler.  You mean we could win an opener?  God I can’t wait to see that."

Let’s Go Bucs!  Is it game time yet?