Posts Tagged ‘Pittsburgh Pirates’

Bottom of the Ninth: That Heath Crunch for @Razzball

Bottom of the Ninth: That Heath Crunch for Razzball: http://razzball.com/bottom-of-the-ninth-that-heath-crunch/. Check out a roto and fantasy baseball analysis of the bullpen and closer situations for the Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Giants, Houston Astros, Minnesota Twins, Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Miami Marlins and Washington Nationals.

I’m joining the The Fantasy Baseball Roundtable Show at 9:00 ET

Come listen to me and the guys on the The Fantasy Baseball Roundtable Show at 9:00 ET:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/fantasy-baseball-roundtable/2012/02/23/the-fantasy-baseball-roundtable-show.

We’ll talk A.J. Burnett, Desmond Jennings and much more!

h2h Corner ~ Check You out on the Flip Side: Benny Distefano

This Flip Side joins Greg Minton’s on the list of things my fiancé loves that I fear mightily.

I don’t understand how dancing can be leisurely. I mean, if I’m enjoying dancing, I’m not leisurely drinking. I’m sneaking away from the fiancé to get secret Tequila shots. At one point, I believe I asked the finance “why can’t we just grind like normal white people.”*

I guess to each his own.

Distefano must have needed a good leisure activity as his career wasn’t overly successful and certainly was up and down, if we’re talking about minors/majors. He played in the majors in 1984, 1986, 1988-89 and 1992. He finished with a .228/.296/.350.

He ended up playing first, right field, left field and catcher during his career. Not exactly prime no-hit utility player slots, but since he threw left-handed that kind of eliminated the majority of the infield. However, he did play catcher. And, according to this New York Times story, Distefano was the last left-handed throwing player to ever catch a game.

One other interesting aspect of Distefano’s career:  he broke up David Cone’s no-hit bid on April 28, 1992, ensuring the Mets still haven’t had a no-hitter. Man, I’ve been picking on the Mets a lot lately.

“*But I’m white…”

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Don’t Look Back in Anger: Angel Pagan, Matt Wieters, James McDonald

Don’t Look Back in Anger: Angel Pagan, Matt Wieters, James McDonald

http://razzball.com/don%E2%80%99t-look-back-in-anger-angel-pagan-matt-wieters-james-mcdonald/ Continue reading

Baseball Daily Digest Radio with Joel Henard and Albert Lang 08/22 by JoelHenard | Blog Talk Radio

Baseball Daily Digest Radio with Joel Henard and Albert Lang 08/22 by JoelHenard | Blog Talk Radio.

h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Mike Bielecki

While Bielecki loved to collect records, he didn’t really like to collect base hits. Bielecki is tied for the 10th lowest batting average by a pitcher (min 200 abs) in MLB history. He hit .078. So did Bill Hands and Ben Sheets. Such notables as Aaron Harang (.066), Doug Davis (.071), Clem Labine (.075), and Ryan Dempster (.077) have all been worse.

But I want to focus on Loyola College Baltimore – My dad went there, so did Tom Clancy – I love Tom Clancy and am shocked his masterpieceWithout Remorse has not been made into a great Hollywood film yet. I was a philosophy minor in college (to go along with an English with an emphasis in creative writing major – can’t you tell?) and grew found of John Stuart Mill. Working my way through the greatest happiness principle and Bentham and reading Without Remorse, which, essentially, is about a highly trained ex-military person taking out his revenge on a group of drug dealers and pimps – kind of like McNulty. Anyway, it’s an interesting yarn that makes you think about what is and isn’t moral.

Oh well, that was a bizarre tangent. The reason Loyola College caught my eye is that, along with Memorial Stadium, my earliest sport memories are of watching soccer games at Loyola. It was always simple and fun. Their stadium was a lot like a high school’s so it was intimate, you could see all the action, kids could misbehave or play on the sidelines and it was cheap and it was in Baltimore. I love Baltimore – it’s just the way it is, kind of why I love the United States.

To date, I thought there was only one famous person to graduate from Loyola and now there are two (even if Bielecki gets no billing on Loyola’s wiki page).

For a guy worth just 6.8 WAR, Bielecki certainly had an interesting 14-season career. He finished inside the top-10 for Cy Young once (1989). He was worth 4.1 WAR that year (only two other times did he earn over 1 WAR), his sixth season and second with the Cubs. It was a magical season that saw him post an 18-7 record with a 3.14 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. There wasn’t much unique about that year (outside of him topping 200 IPs for the only time in his career), he allowed pretty much the same HR/9 that he always did, ditto for BB/9, K/9; however he somehow allowed far fewer hits per nine innings than he typically did. Well, he had a .272 BABip in 1989, which was well below his career line of .291.

Outside of his horrendous batting ability and his 1989 season, he was, unfortunately, most known for his connection to Little Lake Nellie. As the story goes, Bielecki was supposed to accompany Steve Olin, Tim Crews and Bob Ojeda on the un-Gilligan-like fateful voyage. The day after the incident occurred, Bielecki was picked up by Jim Thome and Roberto Alomar – yet he was unaware of the tragedy.

At that time, I was an avid listener of local sports talk radio (when it existed). I was as glued to the radio that day as I was later during Columbine (and I am by no means equating the two). It was a singular point in my life that I remember vividly – it occurred nine days after my 11th birthday. I had barely heard of the players involved but, by being major leaguers, they were heroes.

I’m glad the Bielecki wasn’t on the boat – this would be an even sadder “In Memmoriam”-esque flip side. Instead, hopefully this celebrates Bielecki’s ninth place Cy Young finish, his ineptitude with the bat, and his teammates who met a tragic end.

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h2h Corner ~ A save in the Hanrahan is worth two in the Bush

According to an important Twitterer that everyone should follow @KristiePie, Joel Hanrahan, not Evan Meek and not a timeshare will nail down the door for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

While this might seem like small potatoes, I think it is a relatively important change to note for the fantasy baseball community. I originally thought Hanrahan would see the multitude of early save chances in the hopes of driving up his value to trade him come the second half – but this adds a lot of certainty.

I’ve always been a big fan of Hanrahan (and for some reason Pirates closers, in general). Hanrahan burst on the scene in 2008 with a nine save performance and a brilliant 9.9 K/9 rate. Next season saw an increase in that K-rate to 10.13, however he had a .378 BABip, a 66.2% strand rate and some injuries. It was a down year by any measure.

However, he bounced back nicely in 2010 to post an even better k-rate (12.92) and a more stabilized BABip and strand rate, which lead to a 3.62 ERA.

Hanrahan has also averaged 88 Ks (including the somewhat short/injury-riddled 2009 campaign) over the last three seasons. While he’ll be volatile (given his career 4.7 BB/9 rate) and Evan Meek is always present, Hanrahan will be a top closer over the first part of the year.

Hanrahan has been the 251st person off the board in early mock drafts, making him considerably undervalued. Obviously, that will change, but I see him as a top 90 pitcher (he was previously 119) and a top 20 reliever (he was previously 27).

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h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Tony Pena

pen aqback pean front realReally? Lets bypass the fact that someone remembered Pena had 14 broken bat base hits during a road trip in 1985 (two years before this card was printed) and instead focus on the poor schmuk who had to calculate the amount of hits Pirate players got while also breaking a bat.

I know it became en vogue to have basketball managers tracking every little “hustle” play in a game, but why oh why was it ever important to track “hustle-like” plays in baseball. Certainly there was something more important than broken bat base hits. May I submit: broken bat homeruns? Or broken bat bunts? Or perhaps the number of times a player grounded into a double play (Pena did ground into the 35th most double plays (234) in MLB history — one behind George Brett and five more than let’s play two Ernie Banks).

One thing can be certain, 1986 would be the last year that the Pirates would tabulate the amount of broken bat hits Tony Pena would have on a road trip. From 1980-1986, Pena appeared in 801 games for the Pirates, he also hit 63 HRs, and posted a pretty good slash line for a catcher (.286/.327/.411). He accumulated 19.3 WAR in Pittsburgh. He’d actually be worth -0.6 WAR for the other 12 seasons in his career.

While the Pirates may have futilely tracked broken bat base hits, they smartly moved Pena to the St. Louis Cardinals at the high point of his value for Mike LaValliere, Andy Van Slyke and Mike Dunne. Pena would play three seasons in St. Louis and earn 1.4 WAR. LaValliere (making his second flip side appearance), was worth 10 WAR over seven seasons in Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, Van Slyke earned 31 WAR in eight seasons for the Pirates (never mind that they signed him instead of Bonds and missed out on all that PED WAR).

While the trade was real bad for the Cardinals, it in no way diminishes Pena’s career accomplishments. He caught the fourth most games (1950) by a catcher — behind Gary Carter, Bob Boone (FLIP SIDE HERE) and Carlton Fisk. He also posted the 10th best fielding percentage by a catcher in a season (.9973) in 1989. That year he recorded only two errors tied for third fewest in a season by a MLB catcher. Somewhat surprisingly, just three years earlier he recorded 18 errors, which is tied for 11th most in a season by a catcher. If that doesn’t shed light on what “errors” mean, I don’t know what does.

In all, Pena put together a career that stands up against Boone, Brad Asmus and Jim Sundberg – not bad company. Oh, and he earned upwards of $17 million. If he could have collected a few more broken bat base hits, he might have been a hall of famer…

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h2h Corner ~ Check You Out On the Flip Side: Bob Walk

bob walk back bob walkThere aren’t many professions that being nicknamed “Whirlybird” would be a good thing. If you were a construction worker and wielded your jackhammer like a whirlybird, you’d never hear the end of it. If you were a running back who ran through holes like a whirlybird, you wouldn’t be in the league too long. Maybe if you were a magician, whirlybird would be a good nickname. Also it might work for a ballroom dancer, but definitely not a crumper.

Well, in all their infinite wisdom, Bob Walk’s Pirate teammates nicknamed him whirlybird, presumably because his pitches had some sweet movement. Was that the case? Probably not. For his career, he struck out 4.6 batters pr nine IPs and had a 1.40 K:BB ratio. He was an All-star in 1998, coincidentally the year he had a miniscule HR rate (0.3 per nine) and pitched the most innings (212.2). Basically, Walk was an above average innings eater. He’d post a 4.03 ERA and 4.06 FIP for his career.

Outside of being called whirlybird, his career was not overly significant. Maybe Bert Blyleven should have been nicknamed whirlybird instead.

Incidentally, this post set the world record for most times meow, er, whirlybird was ever written in four paragraphs.

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For the history of this series, check out this article: Check You Out On the Flip Side: Howard Johnson.