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Should The Pirates Make A Deal? Huntington Should At Least Pick Up A Reliever!

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Wednesday, July.24/2013

The trading deadline has been an exciting time of year for Pittsburgh Pirates fans the past two seasons and this year looks to be bordering on an extravaganza for the city, as the Bucs will be hosting the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals for a five-game series as the deadline approaches and passes. Although GM Neal Huntington will likely be active, the sound advice might be to hold onto prospects, do not mortgage the future and go with what got you a couple games back of the Cardinals in the NL Central and for the best record in all of MLB.

The trading deadline has been an exciting time of year for Pittsburgh Pirates fans the past two seasons and this year looks to be bordering on an extravaganza for the city, as the Bucs will be hosting the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals for a five-game series as the deadline approaches and passes. Although GM Neal Huntington will likely be active, the sound advice might be to hold onto prospects, do not mortgage the future and go with what got you a couple games back of the Cardinals in the NL Central and for the best record in all of MLB.

By Brad Cuprik (Pirates Correspondent)

If you read the newspapers in Pittsburgh or listen to talk show radio, the expectation is that Huntington is going to make a significant deal to upgrade the Pirates’ hitting, outfield, bullpen, and even starting pitching.

Realizing that baseball in October is a lot different than baseball in May, June and July, if the Bucs needed upgrades in all those areas, how are they winning about 60 percent of their games so far?

The Pirates have posted one of the best records in baseball so far in 2013.

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MLB Reports Junior Reporter Haley Smilow Interviews Andrew McCutchen!

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Monday July.01, 2013

Andrew McCutchen is a star player at the age of 26.  Last year he hit for a 3 Slash Line of .327/.400/.953 - with a NL leading 194 Hits, 31 HRs and 96 RBI.  He enjoyed his 1st 100 Runs Scored Season (107) and finished 3rd in NL MVP Voting, while snagging himself a Gold Glove and A Silver Slugger Award.  This year he looks to carry the Bucs to their first playoff birth and winning season since 1992.

Andrew McCutchen is a star player at the age of 26. Last year he hit for a 3 Slash Line of .327/.400/.953 – with a NL leading 194 Hits, 31 HRs and 96 RBI. He enjoyed his 1st 100 Runs Scored Season (107) and finished 3rd in NL MVP Voting, while snagging himself a Gold Glove and A Silver Slugger Award. This year he looks to carry the Bucs to their first playoff birth and winning season since 1992.  He started out slow in 2013, but is coming on strong in the last 2 months.  He has his Slash up to .292/.360./822 – with 9 HRs and 42 RBI.  He has 50 Runs Scored and 16 Stolen Bases in his 78 Games Played.  He has great plate discipline and has been aided buy several teammates for clutch hits.  None are as Clutch as “Cutch”!

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer/Website Owner):

Haley Smilow is a lucky baseball fan.  She was able to interview Andrew McCutchen  at PNC Park.  Not only was he a bonafide NL MVP candidate last year, he is a great guy.

This year, McCutchen looks to lead Pittsburgh to their first winning campaign in 20 years, and the team is playing well.  As of today, they are 51 – 30, good for the best record in the MLB – and a 2 Games Lead on the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central.

Haley was able to take Andrew’s mind off of the usual questions he is asked, and it turned out to be a great interview.

Andrew McCutchen Highlights from 2013 – Mature Lyrics so Parental Guidance Is Advised

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1oceI3COXAY] Read the rest of this entry

Blue Jays And Dodgers Are Done In 2013: Stick A Fork In Them: Angels Are Marinating!

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Thursday June.13/2013

The Dodgers don't lead the Majors in many categories this year (except for Bench clearing brawls).  The 1st incident with the Padres cost them Greinke with a broken clavicle.  He will likely be suspended for more games today.  Who else will be suspended??  We should find out from baseball today.  Meanwhile the team is 28 - 37 - and 11 Games behind Arizona

The Dodgers don’t lead the Majors in many categories this year (except for Bench clearing brawls). The 1st incident with the Padres cost them Greinke with a broken clavicle. He will likely be suspended for more games. Who else will be suspended?? We should find out from baseball today. Meanwhile the team is 28 – 37 – and 11 Games behind Arizona.

It is time to call it like it is – and back it up with some cold hard facts.  As a former professional oddsmaker, I understand why the ESPN page lists the Blue Jays at a 2.8% chance to make the playoffs – and the Dodgers just slightly better at 2.9%. 

The math involved is not even as complicated as Sabermetrics.  I will show you how they have derived this notion.  The fanbases will always tell you that they are one big winning streak away from jumping back into the mix. 

They would be right some of the time (Note the 2007 and 2009 Rockies, the 2012 Athletics, the 2011 Cardinals and Rays also made up around 10 Games deficits for playoff spots even in September).

I can also think of the 2005 Astros flying off the wall in the second half to earn a playoff spot.

Here is why these two teams are deep trouble.

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3 Reasons That The Pirates Will – Or Won’t End 20 Years Of Consecutive Losing Records

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Tuesday, April.2/2013

The Pirates are hoping to bring winning baseball to beautiful PNC Park in 2013.

The Pirates are hoping to bring winning baseball for the beautiful PNC Park in 2013.

By Brad Cuprik (Pirates Correspondent)

The statistical improvements are easy to decipher in Clint Hurdle‘s first two years as manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 2011, the Bucs were 72-90, scored 610 Runs and gave up 712 Runs. Those were improvements of 15 victories, 23 Runs Scored and an impressive 154 less Runs Allowed.

This past season, Pittsburgh improved in all three categories again – earning 79 victories with 651 Runs Scored and 674 Runs Allowed. If it seems like an excruciatingly long time since Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla, Andy Van Slyke and Doug Drabek were leading the Pirates to a winning season and a third consecutive NLCS, that’s because it has been – two decades to be exact.

Bill Clinton was just starting his first term as President of the United States and something called Color Me Badd was popular on the radio.

Questionable music aside, if the Pirates want to put an end to all that losing, another year of similar improvement will get them over the .500 hump.

Here are three reasons why 2013 will be the year it happens for them and three reasons why the longest consecutive streak of losing seasons in professional sports will reach 21 years.

Sid Breams 1992 NLCS Game 7 Slide kicked off a 20 Year Consecutive Losing Records Streak

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MLB Player Profile: The Pirates 1B/OF Garrett Jones

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Monday, January.07, 2013

Garrett Jones clubbed his way onto the scene in July of 2009 for the Bucs, where he hit .310/.370/1.061 with 10 HRs and 17 RBI in his 1st 100 AB of his Rookie Year.  He would go onto to finish 7th in NL ROY Voting

Garrett Jones clubbed his way onto the scene in July of 2009 for the Bucs, where he hit .310/.370/1.061 with 10 HRs and 17 RBI in his 1st 100 AB of his Rookie Year. He would go onto to finish 7th in NL ROY Voting.

Richie Devotie (Guest Baseball Writer):

Today we will be taking a look at Pittsburgh Pirates First Baseman and Right Fielder Garrett Jones. Jones was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 1999 and made his MLB debut on May 15, 2007 with the Minnesota Twins.   Jones is kind of an all or nothing free swinger as his Career 3 Slash Line of .259/.321/.788 suggests.  He does have some serious HR power when he is on and tends to do most of his damage versus Right Handed Pitching.  In this article, we will dissect his Career performance so far, thus ending up with a verdict whether the Bucs can make the Playoffs and go far with the man as part of their Starting Lineup.

Garrett Jones Interview – Courtesy of Rant TV Sports You Tube Channel

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2012 Trade Deadline Update #7 7/31: League, Snider, Thames, Soto, and More

Tuesday July 31st, 2012

Bernie Olshansky: Monday night and Tuesday morning turning out to be a busy one for MLB General Managers! Here are the flurry of deals before the MLB Non-Waiver Trading Deadline:

Brandon League to the Dodgers

With the Giants talking to the Mariners about League, I think the Dodgers traded for him just so the Giants wouldn’t get him. They really don’t have a reason to get him other than that. Their bullpen has been solid this year with Kenley Jansen holding it down at the back and Josh Lindblom highlighting the other relievers. League would’ve been key for the Giants. They lost Guillermo Mota at the beginning of the year for 100 games due to his second failed drug test, Sergio Romo has been a bit shaky lately, and Santiago Casilla hasn’t been the best closer. Not to mention Brian Wilson went down with an elbow injury after only a few appearances. Although League hasn’t been the best this year (0-5 with a 3.63 ERA) he will definitely help strengthen the already strong Dodger bullpen. After acquiring Hanley Ramirez and Ryan Dempster, the Dodgers are definitely ahead of the Giants in my mind. For League, the Mariners get OF Leon Landry and RHP Logan Bawcom. Landry this year in Single-A Rancho Cucamonga has hit .328 with eight homers and 51 RBI, and Bawcom has gone 3-3 with a 2.60 ERA in 27 games with Double-A Chattanooga. League was removed from the closer’s role in Seattle in favor of Tom Wilhelmsen earlier this season, so losing him won’t drastically affect the Mariners. League is apparently owed $1.85 million for the rest of this year.

Eric Thames to the Mariners

Right after trading League, the Mariners went ahead and traded Steve Delabar to the Blue Jays for outfielder Eric Thames. Thames adds some more youth to the Mariners and looks like the fourth outfielder right now. This year, in 42 games, Thames is hitting .243 with three homers and 11 RBI. The Blue Jays add to their bullpen after getting Brandon Lyon and J.A. Happ (who can either start or come out of the bullpen) from the Astros. Delabar held a 4.17 ERA in 36.2 innings for Seattle this year. Neither team seems to be going anywhere, so it looks like each is building for the future, as each player is signed through 2017.

Travis Snider to the Pirates

Snider went to the Pirates for reliever Brad Lincoln right before Eric Thames was traded. The Blue Jays seem to be bolstering their bullpen by getting rid of young outfielders. Snider started the season in Toronto last year before being demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas, and stayed there until recently being called back. The Blue Jays must have finally given up on him after he hit .225 last year and .235 this year in nine games. Snider will join the mix of Andrew McCutchen, Alex Presley, and Starling Marte in the outfield for Pittsburgh. The Blue Jays get reliever Brad Lincoln in return, who has gone 4-2 with a 2.73 ERA in 59.1 innings this year. He’s only 27 so he should be with Toronto for a while.

Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson to the Braves

After losing out on Ryan Dempster, the Braves went out and got Paul Maholm, who has been doing well for the Cubs going 7-4 with a 3.74 ERA. The Braves also received Reed Johnson. Johnson has hit .307 for the Cubs this year and will join Jason Heyward, Michael Bourn, and Martin Prado in the outfield. He should serve as a fourth outfielder and possibly come in late in games as a pinch hitter. The Cubs will get Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman. Vizcaino went 1-1 with a 4.17 ERA with the Braves last year. Chapman, this year for Triple-A Gwinett, has gone 3-6 with a 3.52 ERA in 53.2 innings.

Geovany Soto to the Rangers

Soto will go to the Rangers after they designated catcher Yorvit Torrealba for assignment. Soto will primarily catch while Mike Napoli will see some time at first base. Soto struggled this year for the Cubs, hitting just .195 with six homers and 14 RBI. He makes $4.3 millon this year. Hopefully for the Rangers, Soto will put up better numbers than Torrealba, who hit .236 with three homers and 12 RBI. The Cubs will obtain pitcher Jacob Brigham, who went 5-5 with a 4.28 ERA in124 innings for Double-A Frisco. Soto just wasn’t cutting it for the Cubs; maybe he’ll have a fresh start with the Rangers.

***Today’s feature was prepared by Bernie Olshansky, Baseball Writer & Facebook Administrator.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Bernie on Twitter (@BernieOlshansky)***

 

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The Pirates Trading For Shane Victorino Makes Sense

Thursday July 19th, 2012

Sam Evans: Over the last five years, Shane Victorino has been a consistent force in the Philadelphia Phillies lineup. Now, playing in his contract year on a Phillies squad out of contention, he has to start to wonder what the future looks like for him. Numerous teams have been seen scouting Victorino, but nobody needs Victorino as bad the Pirates do. Do the Pirates have what it takes to acquire Victorino? Keep reading to see what I think… Read the rest of this entry

Chuck Booth’s GWR Streak (Parks 25-29)

The Streak ended at 30 MLB Parks in 23 calendar days!!

I broke my old record of 24 days by being-Fastest to see all 30 MLB parks in 23 days  from April 6th to 28th!

Sked is here: fastestthirtyballgames3021.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/30in20/

Follow me-@chuckbooth3024 on twitter

http://mlbreports.com/gwr-tracker/ or at my official website for all updates!

Friday May.4/2012

Chuck Booth and Lori Martini being interviewed by ‘Did The Tribe Win Last Night’ Blog at the Social Suite at Progressive Field.

MLB Park # 25 Day # 20

COL 2 @ PIT 1

April.25/2012

PNC PARK

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)- My stay in Tampa Bay was a nice one the night before(despite having to commandeering a neighboring hotel just to do some laundry at midnight.)  I was too fired up to sleep and there was no chance at all I would risk sleeping in on this day.  I had known for a while that this was going to be an epic day.  Since the fallout of the missed doubleheader for Cleveland and Baltimore was first established on that San Diego flight, I looked forward to this day thoroughly.

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A New GWR Record and Many New Ball Park Chaser Friends

The Streak ended at 30 MLB Parks in 23 calendar days!!

I broke my old record of 24 days by being-Fastest to see all 30 MLB parks in 23 days  from April 6th to 28th!

Sked is here: fastestthirtyballgames3021.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/30in20/

Follow me-@chuckbooth3024 on twitter

http://mlbreports.com/gwr-tracker/ or at my official website for all updates!

Monday, Apr.30/2012

Ken Lee, Chuck Booth, Lori Martini and Roger Ratzenberger after the final pitch in Ball Park #30 in 23 days for Chuck Booth’s New World Record. Camden Yards is the sight of this picture.

Monday April.30/2012

MLB Park # 30 Day # 23

OAK 1 @ BAL 10

April.28/2012

Oriole Park at Camden Yards

 

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)- I am going to do this segment in reverse.  I am jumping right ahead to the last game of the streak.  Sure I have eight other recaps (besides this one) to still post that were technically before this game, but I need to write about this game first.  I will post parks 22-24 on Wednesday and 25-29 on Friday.  I will also have the Expert Interviews for Chase Field, Miller Park, US Cellular Field, The Great American Ball Park, Busch Stadium and PNC Park updated by the week’s end.  Eventually all of this information will be available on my website at www.thirtyballgames3021.wordpress.com. The game had wrapped up in Busch Stadium for what was game #29.  My wing-man Ken Lee, had done some great driving work to help me with 2 straight double-header even before heading to St. Louis.  As we left the city on I-70, I took on the duties of driving.  Ken had exhausted himself in the process of helping me.  I started the 1st 8 hours of driving towards Baltimore.  This would be park number 30 in only 23 days.  For me I knew this would mean another world record.  In the back of my mind it was a long time between cities so I was gearing up to face the challenge.  I was rested up as much as I had been in several weeks.  The driving was actually a nice change from being a passenger.

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PNC Park Book Excerpt from ‘The Fastest 30 Ballgames’ Novel

Wednesday April.25/2012

Original Print of the book was June 2011
Book Excerpt writeup By Chuck Booth

“This was the first of two visits to PNC Park during streak chases of 2008.  This date was on July.7/2008.  The events that happened right after this game caused me to restart the Guinness Streak on July.08/2008.  A little diversion from a closure in the Lincoln Tunnel heading towards LGA cost me a flight from New York to Dallas.  Hmmm..  I have not had a lot of luck in flying to Dallas have I?”

Game #7 Day #6

PNC Park

Pittsburgh PA

July.07/2008

It was not my first time to see the Pirates play at ‘PNC’, the previous year I watched a doubleheader featuring Barry Bonds last games to be played in Pittsburgh—for awhile I was thought he might pass Hank Aaron for the all time Homer list for the games I was attending. Barry had surpassed Aaron a week earlier but I was still glad to see him in the starting lineup.  Now I was back less than a year later. 

I was ready to rebound from the day before.  I drove 340 miles from my brother’s house in New Jersey—to arrive in Pittsburgh with lots of time to spare. 

I parked in a business building across the “Roberto Clemente Bridge.”  PNC Park is very convenient for parking, as they close off most of the bridges directly nearest to the ballpark.  The park looks immaculate from the bridges and especially in reverse from the park where you can see the bridges. 

Pittsburgh is a blue collar town but it a beautiful city downtown.  The crowd was not bustling that night.  There were 13,223 fans for the game and half that many were there when I arrived.

There may not be a better new ballpark when it comes to respecting the history of their team.  There are statutes for just about any significant member ever associated with Pirates.  There is a great amount of history of the World Series Runs of 1971 and 1979.  The area my ticket was in was the left field bleachers section for a $9 price.  Quite simply it is the best value in the majors considering it is general seating.  You are right on top of the left fielder. 

I made it over to “Greentree Pizza”—located just behind the huge scoreboard.  I was staving so I ordered the large fourteen inch Pepperoni Pizza.  It is made on a light thin crust and is one of the best singular foods in the majors.

Around the park, people were texting each other on their cell phones as the Pittsburgh Pirates display between every inning on their scoreboards.  This is a fun thing to do—and very fan interactive. 

They have two mascots that are running around the empty park.  ‘The Pirate,’ (who will steal your food if you are not looking and/or opposing team ball caps that fans wear) and ‘The Parrot,’ (who is a lot more kid friendly and usually can be found occupying seats in the empty lower bowl.).  I was pleasantly surprised that the ushers were so nice to me when I told them about my record streak.  The lady talked to me for thirty minutes about the ballpark and even asked if I had time for a tour while in the city, she said she could call her boss if I wished.  I politely declined as I had a long drive back to New York City.  It was then I realized I actually needed a quick game.

It was one of the plane fares bought before the trip started and impossible to change because it was too costly.  I would have about six hours to drive back to New York for a five and a half hour drive.  There was not much wiggle room.

One of the coolest things about the PNC Park-is the size of left field center scoreboard.  They play a four minute introduction at the start of the game that shows years of Pirate highlights and it always pumps me up.  Then there is a segment where a cartoon pirate is away at sea with his crew and they come across the opposite team boat. A 3 minute battle ensues with the Pirates crew eventually taking ownership of the other boat.  The pirate laughs and then it is game time. 

 The scenery is beautiful with the backdrop. The big green fence in right-center field has ‘Pirates’ perfectly hedged in shrubs.  The only thing that is kind of weird is you can’t walk in the general area entirely across the outfield sectors.  The seat’s in right field are in the 3rd level and is quite a shot from home plate to hit a  home run.  It is even a better sight at night with the bright lights of all the bridges illuminating the park.  If only the franchise was in better shape.

The food courts are impressive for the limited amount of people attending.  They are quick with the vendors—and have some of the longest serving staff of any in the majors. 

In the left field bleachers there is a sit in restaurant that features live performances out on the patio deck including ‘mariachi band’s’ and groups that sing ‘a cappella.’  There is not much going on downtown directly around the park inside of the bridges that does not pertain to the ball game. 

That night began sunny but soon clouds over giving me the worry of a rain out.  The Houston Astros ran out to a 3-0 lead on a towering homer by Carlos Lee.  The Pirates responded with a 4 run bottom of first. The inning took about forty-minutes and I was in time trouble again.

Fast forward to the 4th inning and it was 10-7 Pittsburgh—and we were already nearing 9:15 PM.  I was sweating the game big time.  If I left about 10:30 PM—I would be in massive trouble.  I had done the drive from Pittsburgh to New York a few times before so I had some confidence to make good time. 

It is a scheduling nightmare the certain Monday and Thursday baseball games on the condensed nights of the MLB when you are chasing this record. 

There were not too many other nights I could see the Pirates playing.  Again I was thinking about the July.9th restart option.

I was happy to see a quick 5th and 6th inning.  The only thing that made me happier then that—was the game went the last 5 innings—only with one hit, and no runs after 17 runs in the 1st four innings. The last 5 innings only elapsed 40 more minutes in time. 

 I thanked the ushers for signing my logbook and ran out of the southwest corner near the ‘Clemente Bridge.’  I was happy at this moment it was Pittsburgh—as the crowd was smaller to navigate back to the highway.  I had 7 hours in order to make it there for an hour before my flight.

I had prepaid the parking fare in the business garage, and was horrified to see the PT Cruiser I had rented the previous week in New York had now been keyed by someone.  I was relieved that I had added the extra insurance to the car rental-which I usually forego however, because of the New York City garage experience the last time I had been to New York—I took the insurance. 

This was still a concern.  The car rental place would certainly want to discuss this.  Just like some other rentals the scratches were not too visible and for a minute I thought they had been there the whole time.  The scratches were on the passenger side so I had not seen that area much in the week.  I pressed on.

I was revving on adrenaline as the time and miles wore away.  I stopped at the edge of NJ State to stop for gas.  All I had to do was go through the Lincoln Tunnel merge onto the ‘FDR’—in order to merge onto the 495-S Long Island Expressway.  It was just after 4:40 AM-when I was headed for the tunnel.

“You have got be friggin kiddin me!!!! I yelled as I approached the tunnel which was closed for construction.  I was at a loss for what was next.  I knew the FDR would take me to the bridge I needed to take over.  I then remembered the “Holland Tunnel” would work.  I starting making way in that direction as panic set in.  It was only starting to become daylight.  At 5:00 AM-I made it to ‘Times Sqaure.’ I then finally made it to the FDR before merging onto the 495—and was on the Brooklyn-Queens-Expressway within reason. 

Then the fun began.  LGA is an airport dropped into a rural neighborhood.  I made it to the airport okay—the problem was the car rental place was up the street.  I arrived into ‘Thrifty Car Rental’ at 5:25 AM-with the flight leaving at six sharp I had a chance at that point. 

I was on the shuttle bus awaiting the driver to leave for the airport which would have taken about 5 minutes—maybe another 10 minutes for early morning security and then I would have 10 minutes to run to the gate.  The shuttle was away.

 “Yes, I am going to make it,” I pronounced—it would be the closest miss yet.  The shuttle driver had informed me that there was not much of a lineup for people traveling without checked baggage.  The sun popped out and all of a sudden I loved New York City.  Despite a small detour, I had overcome it by feeling out my way through it like I did as a courier back home.

A knock on the loading window stopped the shuttle bus smooth–and a grey haired, tall lanky old man with glasses came on the bus and pointed in my direction.  “There is damage to your Cruiser. We need you to fill out an accident report.”

“Sir, I have full insurance and have a plane to catch, there is no time.  I will be back this way next week watching a baseball game at Shea Stadium can I fill it out then?”

“Son, I could get in serious trouble for that.  If you hurry there is another shuttle leaving in 5 minutes.”

I knew if I left the shuttle I would miss my flight.  The only saving grace was that ‘Air Tran Airways’ are nice enough to their travelers—by letting them fly stand by on remaining flights to their original destination should they miss their flight.  It was a stand-by option good for one day only.  I knew there were two more flights to Dallas that day—both had a lengthy stop over in Atlanta.  The first flight arrived in Dallas at 3:30 PM.  I had designated that flight the first time I was going to book the flight.  I then mistakenly thought the drive from Pittsburgh was only 5.5 hours-like it was from my brother’s house to PNC Park.  I had the two confused in my final booking of the flight! 

I opted for the earlier flight because I would arrive in Dallas at 11:00 AM-and could check into the Motel 6 right away to catch up sleep.

 I filled out the accident report and made the next shuttle to LGA. Like I was a possessed addict chasing an addiction I ran to the ticket window at ‘Air Tran’.  It was 5:45 AM.  The system had already shut me out of the flight.  I ran to the window were a mid-40’s gentleman was typing a keyboard and looking at me running at the same time.

“Flight to DFW right?” he questioned, he knew the answer.

“Yeah, I thought that you could print out the tickets up to 10 minutes before?” I answered, somehow gaining a glimmer of hope that he could radio ahead, stop the plane until I got there.  I heard stories growing up of this happening.

“Actually you need to be in the boarding area 10 minutes prior to gates closing-we cut off the boarding passes 20 minutes before sorry.”

“Ah, man.”  I was pissed, I half-wanted to race back to the car rental facility and drag the manager out into the street and beat him to a pulp.  “How does the next flight look to Dallas?”

 “Lemme check that for you.”  The man typed quickly as he could, a man who was late for the same flight I was—came in line to be helped next.  “The flight is oversold and there are 7 people on the waiting list ahead of you.”

If there is one thing I know is waiting for stand-by on flights.  My step-mom had worked in the airline industry for 25 years.  I was able to fly whenever I wanted, wherever I wanted provided there were available seats.  7 seats was a lot for a 9:00 AM Flight.  It would have been different if it was the flight I had just missed.  I had to try it.  New York traffic had swallowed me up that morning, maybe it would swallow up others.  “Print me the pass, I will try.”

“You never know sir you might also get a family that does not want to fly separately. You are a single traveler so you have a better chance than others.”

I grabbed my new boarding pass and headed trough security, and pressed onward to the gate.  There was not much open for breakfast so I was happy to have polished off that huge pizza in Pittsburgh the night before.  I needed to call the airlines to see if I could arrange other travel arrangements to Dallas. 

I searched for the internet at ‘LGA’ which was non-existent at that time.  I called every airline up.  It was going to be $600 or $700.  Day of flight’s prices sky rocket on same day sales.  My plan was simple now.  I would see if I made the next flight before another decision was to be made.  I called Visa in the meantime and I was appalled to see that I had little credit left with all of the pre-authorizations against the car and hotel rentals.  I was awaiting a payment to go through as well.  I had $450 left.   I was stuck.  Not only was I in danger of missing my game in Texas—but my streak reset needed to start over in San Diego the next day.

It was a lost cause at ‘LGA’ and I left the airport at 10:00 AM-by boarding what I thought was a charter bus in between ‘LGA’ and “JFK.” I wanted to be at JFK incase I was stranded-since there were more amenities and late night domestic flights.  At 10:30 AM-the charter bus let me off downtown in Manhattan.

 “Wait a second I purchased a bus-ride all the way to JFK.”  I said to a heavy set German fellow.

“You boarded the wrong bus.”  The man replied.

“No I didn’t.” I was right–the man had forgotten to switch the template on the bus signage based on what I had seen back at ‘LGA’- he had deceived me. 

“I paid for a ticket to JFK, and that is what your sign said.  I know you are going to try to stiff me,” I was being rude back to the rude New York people now, “so why don’t you tell me how I get to JFK, it has been a brutal morning.”

The man radioed a bus a block away, “hold the bus for a minute, I need to drop a passenger for you to take to JFK, I made a mistake, no charges either.”  The man actually smiled and nodded at me.  I was relieved but knew that New Yorkers were good at nearly breaking you and then surprising you with doing the right thing.

I made it to JFK at noon in the hot heat, it was approaching 90F.  I was still not ahead of the game.  Like LGA-JFK did not have internet accessible terminals anywhere.  I was running out of options.  I called my buddy Dan Dion.

Dan Dion and his brother Justin had given me the time off delivering newspapers for the trip.  I had known them both for eight years.  Justin was doing one of my routes for me while I was away.  I had to forfeit the second route because of the timing, but was promised a different route when I returned in August. 

 Dan was in Langley, British Colombia, and was in front of his computer.

“Dude, It’s me, missed my flight to Dallas because of an idiot car rental worker and a bridge closed for construction, I need your help, are you online?”

 “Ya, I am online right how. Where are you?”

 “I am on the Air-Tram at JFK circling the gates and don’t know where to go because I don’t have a plane ticket yet, I need you to go to the site www.kayak.com.”

 “10-4 man.”

 “Man, I am glad you are home.  Okay click on the flights icon and then enter JFK letter into the: ‘from part’-and ‘SAN’ letters in the: ‘to’ part, and don’t forget to make this a one-way flight.”

“How is it in the big crapple?” Dan was laughing and typing at the same time.

“Dude, this is a brutal city sometimes, good thing I always had the reset option, knew I was probably going to need it after that Philly/New York doubleheader miss anyway.”  Some girl left here tote-bag on the seat next to me and I was going to hand it in. 

Some old man freaked out on me saying I was stealing it.  All this was happening while awaiting results.

“Cheapest flight is $545.”

“Not good, okay try LAX from JFK, I need to return there tomorrow night anyway so it will work for a car rental.”  The man scoffed a look of disgust at me again.  If I was not on a good will ambassador tour I would have sworn at him for his ignorance.

A few seconds elapsed, “Dude, I got an American Airlines flight leaving at eight your time arriving at just after eleven in LA-price is $160.”

“That is awesome, book that dude, click on it for me and I will give my credit card number to buy it-and then you can give me the confirmation code, then I will need to hit Budget Car Rental’s site next.”

Dan helped me for the next fifteen minutes and I was now going somewhere again.  I had several hours before the flight to kill.  I was fortunate enough to have the reset option.  The new attempt was still 30-26 days.  I had a grueling stretch of 4 doubleheader attempts in 5 days: SD Padres-Los Angeles Dodgers, followed by a Detroit Tigers-Cleveland Indians attempt; followed by Chicago Cubs/Milwaukee Brewers; then Toronto isolated by itself before a Washington Nationals/New York Mets attempt to hit the all-star break. 

If all were hit all games I would be at 9 games in 5 days, even with the 3 day penalty for the all-star break I would have a chance on the other side of it.  I arrived in LAX without a hitch.

I had just enough credit on my visa to rent the car and I had $150 cash.  I knew there was lots of deposit money coming off by the next night at midnight eastern time.  I had to make it the next 24 hours with the money I had.  There was $30 for parking/probably $20 for gas and $100 left for food and shelter.  I drove to San Diego right away.  I tried the Motel 6-but no there was no vacancy.  I wish I would have known about the hostel downtown then.  I decided to keep all my money.  I had an idea to shower at a ‘YMCA’ in the morning.  Besides I had to spend money on batteries for the digital camera-plus I needed some health and beauty aids. 

 I ate 7-Eleven food for dinner and drove around San Diego for a few hours before resting at a ‘Rite-Aid.’  I slept for a few hours and finally it was open. A homeless man was outside and needed some money bad to eat.   I only had $60 left after the drugstore but decided to give him $5. He was so thankful.  I talked to him about my day in New York City. He informed me that my day was about to change for the better.  After I drove away somehow I finally believed it.

Great American Ball Park Book Excerpt from the Fastest 30 Ballgames Novel

US Cellular Field Book Excerpt from “The Fastest 30 Ballgames” Novel

 ***Thank you to our Lead Baseball Writer- Chuck Booth for preparing today’s feature on MLB reports.  To learn more about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames” and Chuck Booth, you can follow Chuck on Twitter (@ChuckBooth3024) and you can also follow Chuck’s website for his Guinness Book of World Record Bid to see all 30 MLB Park in 23 days click here  or on the 30 MLB Parks in 23 days GWR tracker at the Reports click here. To Purchase or read about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames Book, ” please click here ***

Please e-mail us at: mlbreports@me.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.  To subscribe to our website and have the Daily Reports sent directly to your inbox, click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

An Interview with Target Field Expert Stephanie Caro

Saturday, April.14/2012

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)-I had a lot of fun prospecting for the best interview experts amongst the friends network that I have in at http://www.ballparkchasers.com.  I must say that I knew that Stephanie was a big fan of the Twins, I just didn’t know how far back her fandom went with the club.  I was asking questions about the team since the Metrodome days us until now.  Stephanie has been a fan since the team moved there from Washington.  It was then I knew that having Stephanie as an expert for the Twins was the right decision!

CB: “Welcome to the MLB Reports Target Field  Expert Interview Stephanie. Please tell us about yourself and then give us some information on your life as a Twins fan?”

SC: “I’ve been a Twins fan since I attended my very first Bat Day at Metropolitan Stadium in 1971. (With thousands of bats pounding against the old metal decks, I remember it being extremely loud!) As a kid, I would listen to the Twins game on my transistor radio after I went to bed; now, as a middle-aged woman, I keep track of the Twins via radio, TV and/or Internet.” Read the rest of this entry

So the Season Opener Was sold Out- What about Game #2?

Friday Apr.6/2012

(From a Greyhound Bus Ride from New York City to Boston)

Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer- and @chuckbooth3024 on twitter)-Having just finished watching the New York Mets be victorious 1-0 over the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field in their season opener, it has me now thinking,  what is the attendance going to be for Game # 2?  Despite reports that the game was sold out, there were many empty seats out there.   This is a problem for a lot of teams in the Majors, but it is becoming a problem to even big market teams like the Mets.  A dwindling team payroll, with devastating and unfortunate injuries have not been aided by the Wilpon’s financial status either in New York.  If Johan Santana can recapture any likeness to his old self, the Mets actually might be okay this year.  (Kind of like when the construction workers in the movie ‘Major League’ don’t think that the team is that bad.) Read the rest of this entry

Losing Burnett Is a Huge Loss for the Pirates

Wednesday March 7th, 2012

Sam Evans: The Pittsburgh Pirates made a very aggressive move, acquiring Yankees starter A.J. Burnett a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, due to a freakish injury, the Pirates will miss Burnett for the first couple months of the season. Let’s look at Burnett’s injury and the effect it will have on the Pirates roster.

During his healthy years with the Marlins, A.J. Burnett was one of the top pitchers in the N.L. East. After seven years with the Marlins, and three solid years with the Blue Jays, Burnett signed a five-year, $82.5 million contract with the New York Yankees. Burnett’s last three years with the Yankees haven’t been pretty. He had a decent year in 2009, but in 2010 and 2011 Burnett had ERAs over 5.00, and he didn’t eclipse two hundred innings in either year.

Burnett, the thirty-four year old right-handed pitcher came to Pittsburgh in a trade this past February 17th. The Pirates traded Diego Moreno and Exicardo Cayones for Burnett. The Yankees will pay part of the $30.375 million dollars left on Burnett’s contract. Read the rest of this entry

Sample of what my Friday Travel Blog will Cover

Friday, February 03, 2012 

Douglas ‘Chuck’ Booth (Baseball Writer)- Since writing about traveling to ballparks  is what I know most about, I thought I would take the next 9 weeks (before the season starts) writing articles that extensively go through every part of my expertise.  Over the course of the last five years I have done countless hours of research on this subject matter, so I am going to share my information with you in hopes you may save some time or money this 2012 MLB season.  I am sharing my knowledge of: baseball tickets, maps, frequent flier miles/reward points, car rentals vs. driving your own car, hotels, airports and finally time management & budgeting.  Here is a sneak preview of what I will be posting.

Car Rentals

  The best way to ensure that you have money available on your credit card, (keeping in mind that most rental places take a $200 minimum deposit), is to bid on your car through www.priceline .com. There is a feature where you can bid on your car rental for specific airport locations called ‘BID NOW.’  You can offer a price that you have to pay immediately, but in most cases you will find a serious discount. I have often bid 40% of the average car rental per airport price and had the offer go through.  Anyways, 80% of the time your winning bid will come back to rent from Alamo/National Car Rental.

Car Rentals

 Alamo/National is the best car rental company by far in the United States. Not only do they have exceptional customer service—–they also do not charge your credit card for any $ amount more than the price of your rental. Do yourself a favor and also sign up for ‘The Emerald Club Rewards Program’ from National. They have airport bypass the counter options that enable you to USE self-serving kiosks that do not require you to stand in line at the car centers-rather pick your class of car and proceed to the exit. Other car rental companies have deposit charges that are held against your credit card.  If you are going on a 4 city trip, you can easily have up to $800-1000 dollars locked up in these deposits, this can be harmful in you enjoying your trip. Not all of us have the affordability to have so much money unavailable. An average of 5-8 days is what it will take for the deposited dollars to be restored when your car rental is completed.  National is the only car rental company in which you can redeem a free earned day car rental for a one-way drop off without paying an excessive fee if you have earned a free rental reward day.  I will give you an example.  This means you can rent a car in Los Angeles and drop it off it Albuquerque, New Mexico within the 24 hours for no money extra.  Also with this incredible deal, is that you pay just pennies in taxes for your accrued free rental days, where other car rental places can charge up to $20-30 just in taxes alone despite offering you the free day for a rental reward.  Perfect for that baseball traveler that wants to head in one direction!

Priceline

Priceline is great for bidding on car rentals, but is also fantastic for hotel rentals where you can use the same option to bid for your price of hotels. Honestly, when we are all in the middle of a big baseball road trip, the last thing we want is to spend excessive amounts of money on a hotel we are not going to use other than a quick sleep and shower.   Wouldn’t you rather spend a lot more time at the ball yard?  Again by bidding on the hotel, and paying for it right away you can ensure on a more of a budget/cost certainty. Even if the front desks take a small deposit at time of check in—these transactions are quickly released when you check out. The best to bid  is too low-ball your first few offers, then gradually increase your bidding. Now Priceline does make you alter your bid for every declined request you submit, so the key is to not act aggressive in frustration when you don’t win the bid.  The key here is to be patient.  After 24 hours, you can re-open up all columns to bid again with an increased offer from your first one. Just chart your offers to slightly increase your amount until you have success. I would not suggest you use Priceline for airline flights because the winning bid will usually feature layovers, or more importantly, the times of the flights on won bids may not be conducive to arriving in time for a baseball game in your destination city.

HOTELS

For those economy travelers such as myself, I implore you to use Motel 6 and/or Super 8 as hotel chains to stay throughout the USA. They are decent hotels for the $value you pay. The best feature about these hotels is the ability to check in by 11am-12pm. Most 3-5 star hotels have check in times that start and 3 or 4pm. Again if you are flying or driving in from some other place do you really want to drive around for 3-4 hours sight-seeing because you are simply waiting for a check in time?  Most baseball parks open their gates by 5PM for night games.  Plus with these places cash is preferred, so they do not require a deposit on your credit card. If you are staying in the same city or have sufficient time to stay in one hotel, I would recommend you use Priceline to bid on your hotels. You can save up to 50% off with winning bids on 2-5 star hotels. Keep in mind that most of those hotels can save you money vs the budget hotels, with their free breakfasts.

Travel Note:Traveling to other cities with luggage is hard to finagle sometimes. When arriving in a new city, there may be time constraints or monetary issues that make you think about your luggage. Before you make any purchases for your trip, you must be cognizant of where your luggage will be at all times throughout the travel. You will not be allowed to bring your suitcase through security at the ball parks. Most cities will not even allow you to bring a briefcase into the games. So therein is a dilemma. If you are able to make it to your hotel before the game then your luggage will be okay.  The same can be said if you have rented a car. The toughest games for luggage management are day games when arriving from other cities. For the Eastern Seaboard there is an ally you can use—and it is called ‘Amtrak.’

Amtrak Trains/Greyhound Buses

Both of these methods of transportation are  a great way to see a bunch of baseball games fast while missing a lot of cluttered highway traffic, particularly in: New York-Baltimore-Washington-Philadelphia-Chicago-Milwaukee. Not only will you save gas/traffic scenarios-but Amtrak has a baggage check option at most stations for $3-4 dollars an item per day. All you have to do is have an itinerary, (coming or going) and you can check your luggage items. You will have to monitor the hours of operation for these places-however this option is exceptional when attending matinée games in any of these cities. New York’s Amtrak Station-(New York Penn Station), is a life saver when you can drop off your luggage and avoid renting a car. ‘Greyhound Bus Lines’ is also a good alternative for this in the cities of : Tampa Bay-Miami-Los Angeles-San Diego-Minnesota-Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

Kayak.com

Early morning flights are usually the cheapest airfares. I always use www.kayak.com when booking flights into baseball cities.  If you are flying to cities like Cincinnati-Milwaukee-Detroit-Houston-Atlanta-or Dallas you may be shocked at how much they charge for flights. There is a way to get back at those airlines. I have done the following several times. Since these are hubs for other cities from big airlines,  I would check flights from your starting departure and use your intended city of these listed above as a stop-over and then you can walk off the plane during the stop-over if it is cheaper—-and providing you are traveling without checked baggage—example.  Three years ago I had to fly from Pittsburgh to Detroit during a double-header attempt for the first day of my World Record Chase. I needed a Pittsburgh Northwest Airlines flight that left at 5:15 PM  directly to Detroit that arrived at 6:28 PM—it was the only non-stop flight that I could get that would give me a chance to make the Detroit game on time. There was a problem when the price came back was $500  for what was less than a 500 mile flight!  I went to work with my strategy.  I came up with a flight from Pittsburgh to Chicago-with the 1st leg of the trip being my flight that arrived in Detroit at 6:28 as the layover.  The price for this flight was $130. There are many instances of this. I will explain more in the book how I used this scenario for a flexible schedule in case of make-up games.

Air Lines Best To Fly With:

Southwest Airlines-‘I wanna get away’ feature at http://www.southwest.com is a good price point for all of this airline’s domestic flights.  Southwest might be marginally higher in price than some other airlines, however they do not charge for the 1st 2 checked bags as you may have seen from their steady TV Ad Campaign.  They also do not charge transfer flight fees.  This airline is setting the pace for customer price gouging acknowledgement.

Air Tran Airways-Quite frankly, they are the best airline in the USA for MLB fans.  They are cheap, have newer airplanes with the most leg space for a coach ticket. They also offer more one-way non-stop tickets in the morning.  Oh yeah…They are the official airline of XM Sirius Radio.  You can listen to MLB games live in flight, or during off hours you can catch up on all of your favorite shows on XM Home Plate.  Air Tran only charges $75 in case you have to change your flight at anytime plus the difference in flight.  This price is half of most of the legacy airlines.  Should you miss your Air Tran flight they also let you fly stand-by for the rest of the day on any remaining flights to your city of destination.

This is just the start as I will provide a game plan for all of  the 30 MLB cities.  I will take a look at all facets/methods of travel-that will include money and time-saving tips.   After all, don’t we all want to see as many baseball games as we can without being hit in the pocket-book?

*** Thank you to our Baseball Writer- Doug Booth for preparing today’s feature on MLB reports.  To learn more about “The Fastest 30 Ballgames” and Doug Booth, you can follow Doug on Twitter (@ChuckBooth3024) and click here Doug’s website, fastestthirtyballgames.com*** 

 

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

At the Crossroads: Ryan Doumit, Pittsburgh Pirates

MLB reports:  On paper, taking a look at Ryan Doumit (“Dough-Mitt”), there are two sides of the coin.  Heads, you find a switch-hitter turning 30 this year.  A 2008 career season consisting of 15 home runs, 71 runs, 69 rbis, .357 obp and .501 slg.  A catcher by trade, Doumit who stands 6’1”, also plays the outfield and first base.  Despite an injury plagued 2010 season, he still managed 13 home runs in 124 games played last year.  Tails, you find a baseball player that may be labelled as a catcher but often branded as a defensive liability without a home.  Injury prone, 2010 represented the most games Doumit has ever played in a major league season.  Bouncing between the minors and stints on the DL, Doumit next closest seasons were 116 games in 2008 and then 83 in 2007.  The power, while seen in small spurts through his sweet swing, has never materialized into the 20+ home runs projected for him.  Now cast as an outfielder/ back-up first baseman, the future is unclear for Ryan Doumit.  After signing a significant contract with the Pirates, the team has now spent two unsuccessful seasons trying to unload him.  There is even talk of a possible release on the horizon for Doumit.  But is the negativity surrounding this once bright star justified?  Let me put it simply: no.  I am not ready to write off Ryan Doumit and quite frankly, neither should anyone else.

For those of you that read me regularly, you will know that I tend to be biased towards high walks and obp type hitters.  Analyzing Doumit’s number of walks since 2007:22, 23, 20 and 41, it would seem surprising on the surface that I would invoke any type of support of him as a hitter.  Doumit does not have a great reputation as a catcher, lacking the natural instincts for blocking balls in the dirt, throwing out runners etc.  Believe, I have it heard it all and read it all when it comes to Doumit the player.  My discussion on Doumit falls into the “moneyball” vs. scouts debate.  The numbers vs. tools argument.  Having watched Doumit countless times on television and numerous times in person, I will state that the tools override the numbers in this case.  Doumit is a big strapping switch-hitter with the power for 30+ home runs in my estimation.  In the right line-up and ballpark, we could see a whole new player.  Further watching Ryan behind the plate, it always appeared to me that pitchers were very comfortable with him behind the plate and that he had a strong presence of controlling his team and game like a general.  The multi-positional abilities I believe have hurt Ryan in the long run and created a utility player tag on him that is unjustified.  Thus goes the game of baseball and very often the careers of many players.  But hope is not lost yet. 

This spring has already been a rough one for Doumit.  Low batting totals in only 10 games played thus far, Doumit has been sidelined for much of the spring with a strained oblique.  If I was viewing Doumit as a team, I would see a buy low and high reward candidate.  All of the lost games over the years means that Doumit has a lot of miles left, whether in the outfield or behind the plate.  I cannot see the Pirates at this point releasing Doumit for nothing.  Proven health and production this year would lead to an inevitable trade, likely by the all-star break.  Top teams are always in the need of reinforcements and as players continue to drop like flies this spring (Brandon Morrow just announced to start the year on the DL as I write this article), the demand will be there for Doumit.  Why the faith in a player that has not proven much to-date?  Again, simple answer:  tools.  The ability is there and when healthy, we have seen the production.  But we cannot fault Doumit because of injuries alone as he does play on a team that often resembles a AA team on many of its off-nights.  I have never personally seen Ryan Doumit every take a game off, night off or going through the motions during an at-bat.  Playing on a sub .500 team for as long as he has though, one imagine that it would start to take a toll on the confidence of any player, Doumit included.  The Pirates are rebuilding on an upswing, with talented players such as Alvarez, Sanchez and Meek ready to lead the team in the coming years.  I do not see the rebirth of the team occurring on Doumit’s clock, but that does not mean that opportunities should not exist for Doumit.  A fresh start and a defined role and purpose would make all the difference in the world.  Hopefully this will happen soon.

2011 represents a crossroads year for Ryan Doumit.  A talented player once expected to be the centerpiece of his franchise, Doumit is a man without a position and seemingly chance this year.  Given the opportunity to perform, I believe that Doumit will put up the numbers.  McCutchen is healthy and playing strong and as long as he is in the line-up, Doumit will hopefully see some good pitches to hit.  Rounding back into form, Doumit I expect will be on a new team and line-up by May or June at the latest this year.  Motivated by the move, I expect Doumit to flex the baseball tools we know that he has and start to live up to the expectations that are starting to fade for him.  Never count out a talent like Doumit.  The Pirates gave up on Jose Bautista back in 2008 and at age 30 he did pretty well for himself.  Good luck to Ryan Doumit on this upcoming year, I am looking forward to his march back to baseball stardom in 2011.

 

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Meet Tony Sanchez – Future All- Star Catcher of the Pittsburgh Pirates

 

MLB reports:  “With the 4th overall selection of the 1st round in the 2009 Major League Baseball Entry Draft, the Pittsburgh Pirates select, Tony Sanchez, Catcher, from Boston College.”  With those words spoken, life would never be the same for Tony.  Much publicity surrounded the most recent 1st round pick of the Pirates, centering around the reasons for his selection.  To fully understand what was transpiring, one would need to look back briefly at the recent 1st round draft history of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

2008:  Pedro Alvarez 3B – 2nd overall

2007:  Daniel Moskos P – 4th overall

2006:  Brad Lincoln P- 4th overall

2005:  Andrew McCutchen OF – 11th overall

2004:  Neil Walker C- 11th overall

2003:  Paul Maholm P- 8th overall

2002:  Bryan Bullington P – 1st overall

2001:  John VanBenschoten 1B- 8th overall

2000:  Sean Burnett P- 19th overall

With the Bryan Bullington pick still fresh in Pirates’ fans minds,  the 2006 and 2007 drafting respectively of Lincoln and Moskos were difficult to swallow.  The moves were seen largely as cost-sensitive selections, with the Pirates foregoing Morrow, Miller, Kershaw, Lincecum and Scherzer in 2006 and Wieters, LaPorta and Bumgarner in 2007 respectively.  Some missed players could be pointed to poor scouting and drafting, but others were seen by many as being salary restrictive.  The most notorious omission being Matt Wieters, a “can’t miss” catching prospect nabbed by the Baltimore Orioles in with the following 5th pick in the draft.  After selecting Pedro Alvarez in 2008, the Pirates maintained their 1st round selection of position players by choosing Tony Sanchez with the 4th overall pick.  Players left on the board were Mike Minor, Mike Leak and Drew Storen.  2009 was an interesting draft in the sense that Trout, the 25th overall pick of the Angels was just selection as MLB’s top prospect for 2011; proving that drafting is truly more of an art than a science.  But the Sanchez pick was not hailed as a victory by the analysts.  Reports seemed to indicate that the Pirates were attempting to make up for their Moskos/Wieters blunder by grabbing the best available catcher with the 4th pick, although Sanchez was considered by some to be a late 1st rounder.  Money was also thrown into the equation as Sanchez was seen as an easy sign for Pittsburgh.  But who is the aforementioned Tony Sanchez?  Lets take a look at the man behind the pick.

Standing 6’1” and weighing a solid 213 pounds, Jorge Anthony (Tony) Sanchez was born on May 20, 1988.   Tony attended Boston College and played the catcher position as a junior upon being drafted by the Pirates.  Known for having taken the “Jared Subway” diet, Tony committed himself to training and exercise and excelled on the diamond in his last season at Boston College.  In his 1st season of pro ball, Sanchez split his time between 3 minor league spots, finishing at a .309 average in 48 games, with 7 homeruns, 48 rbis, .408 obp and .539 slg.  Building upon that season, Sanchez was enjoying a solid 2010 season in Bradenton which ended prematurely by suffering a broken jaw after a beaning.  The final 2010 stat line for Sanchez was a .314 average in 59 games with 4 homeruns, 35 rbis, .416 obp and .454 slg.  Solid numbers for any hitter, especially a catcher.  Sanchez was named to the 2010 All-Star Futures Game and his future appeared to be very bright.  Despite having his season ended early, Sanchez fought weight loss and rust by rehabilitating and joining the Mesa Solar Sox for the Arizona Fall League season.  Despite subpar statistics, Sanchez did enjoy a 2-home run game on November 11th and was named a Rising Star in the AFL and most importantly, proved his health and commitment to playing to the Pittsburgh Pirates, its fans and the MLB community at large.

On February 13, 2011, Tony Sanchez will be reporting to spring training with the Pirates in Bradenton, Florida which ironically was his home field this past 2010 season.  The only other catchers drafted in the 1st round by the Pirates were Neil Walker in 2004 and Jason Kendall in 1992.  If the Pirates get a solid major leaguer like Kendall from Sanchez, the team and its fans will be overjoyed.  Baseball America has rated Sanchez as having the potential to being the first Pittsburgh catcher gold glove winner since Mike “Spanky” LaValliere in 1987.  It is time for the fans of Pittsburgh and baseball to let go of the ghosts of drafts past and live in the present and future.  Tony Sanchez, in addition to Pedro Alvarez and 2010 1st round pick James Taillon represent solid Pirates building blocks for years to come.  In his short time in baseball, Sanchez has shown that he has a potentially live bat and has received strong reviews for his work with the glove.  With an MLB ETA of 2012, the Tony Sanchez era in Pittsburgh will soon be upon us.  With a blue collar approach to the sport that will be well received in his new hometown, Tony Sanchez is starting to silence the critics and build upon the hype surrounding his play.  Remember the name: Tony Sanchez, catcher, Pittsburgh Pirates.

Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback.  You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook .  To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.

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