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Old 01-18-2007, 03:01 AM   #761
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Default Re: Pirates Update

I figured I'd dust off this thread to announce that the Pirates have acquired Adam LaRoche and a player to be named later (sources say it's OF Jamie Romak) from the Braves for Mike Gonzalez and another player to be named later (sources say it's SS Brent Lillibridge). Looks like somebody slipped a little bit of the "smart juice" in Dave Littlefield's coffee this morning - he actually made a good trade for a good player that fills a need and he didn't give up the store to do it. I have to give him props on this one. No, it's not going to automatically turn us into a contender, but it's a step in the right direction, IMO.

http://pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com/NA...=.jsp&c_id=pit
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Old 01-18-2007, 04:07 PM   #762
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Default Re: Pirates Update

Nice trade. It's about time they made a move worth talking about.

On that note, "There's really no change in how we're doing business," - Bob Nutting

That comment scares me and still leads me to believe that this franchise will remain in the cellar until there is new ownership. While LaRoche will be fun to watch, I'm not calling for a playoff run by any means. I'm still pathetically waiting for a .500 season. Very sad.
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Old 01-21-2007, 09:58 AM   #763
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Default Re: Pirates Update

I'd be happy with .500. LaRoche is a step in the right direction.
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Old 01-27-2007, 09:12 AM   #764
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Default Re: Pirates Update

If somebody came up to me and asked "Make us a uniform which reflects the way the Pirates have played these last fifteen years" I would come up with something along the lines as hideous as these.......

Our new alternative's.

http://pittsburgh.pirates.mlb.com/NA...=.jsp&c_id=pit
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Old 01-27-2007, 09:39 AM   #765
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Default Re: Pirates Update

Did anybody hear Jack Wilson rip Jose Castillo on Savern last night during Pirate Fest? It's about time somebody said it........

Wilson criticizes Castillo

Shortstop Jack Wilson minced no words in describing why the Pirates are challenging Jose Castillo to win back his job at second base this spring.

He told FSN Pittsburgh's Stan Savran in a televised interview last night that, unless Castillo improves his work ethic, he would prefer Freddy Sanchez next to him at second.

"I want whoever's going to make this a winning team," Wilson said. "Right now, Freddy is my second baseman, in my mind. He's the guy I can trust to go 100 percent and get the job done. Castillo's got to show me something. You're going to see it in spring training. If he's slimmed down and ready to work, he's going to have a good year. But, if it's the other way around, we're going to have some problems."

Castillo, whose official weight was 219 pounds on a 6-foot-1 frame, batted a career-low .253 last season and finished in a 4-for-44 tailspin. The Pirates have informed him he must beat out Jose Bautista to continue playing everyday. If Bautista wins, he will play third and Sanchez will slide to second.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07027/757301-63.stm
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Old 01-29-2007, 09:50 AM   #766
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Default Re: Pirates Update

Thank you Ron Cook.....

Cook: Wilson's first great play is calling out Castillo
Monday, January 29, 2007

By Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

There were 16 PirateFests before the one that ended yesterday at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, all highly successful, more successful than the losing seasons that almost always followed. Who doesn't feel good thinking about a little baseball in the cold, harsh month of January? Even if it's Pirates baseball? But PirateFest No. 17 clearly was the best of the bunch. It's not so much because it brought the first Pittsburgh appearance of new slugging first baseman Adam LaRoche, although the energy that generated was immeasurable. It's because one of the Pirates' veteran players took the first step toward claiming ownership of the team's clubhouse, which has been something of a cesspool for years and contributed to nearly a decade-and-a-half of losing.

Shortstop Jack Wilson.

In case you missed it over the weekend, Wilson called out teammate Jose Castillo in a number of media outlets. His message was clear and on point:

Jose, we love you, buddy, but we need you to come to spring training with your head right. If you're not in shape, number one, and not focused, number two, we don't want you. If you're not ready to be your best every game, every at-bat, every play in the field, do us all a favor and stay home in Venezuela.

Is it too late to get Wilson on the Dapper Dan Sportsman of the Year ballot?

Wilson's show of leadership might not be as impressive as Freddy Sanchez's batting title last season. But, one day, it could prove to be more critical to any success the Pirates have.

Winning games in the National League Central Division isn't as difficult as eliminating the culture of losing that long has surrounded the Pirates. Years and years of getting your fanny kicked can beat down even the best of men. Jason Kendall and Brian Giles are two who come to mind. Good players, they were eager to make their mark as big-leaguers when they joined the Pirates, eager to be the ones to lead the team's resurrection. Slowly but surely, though, all of the losses took their toll on them. In the end, they couldn't wait to leave Pittsburgh.

It has been that way pretty much every year for the past 14 years. Opening day isn't the big day of the season. The trade deadline is. It's get-out-of-jail day.

Do you think Sean Casey wanted to scream with joy when he was traded to Detroit last July?

How about Craig Wilson when he was sent to the New York Yankees?

But maybe that's changing.

The Pirates have more young players -- especially young pitchers -- who aren't so accustomed to losing. They also have a few older players -- Jack Wilson, Jason Bay, Salomon Torres -- who are sick of the losing and want to keep fighting instead of looking for a way out. Jack Wilson is so sick of it that he took the extreme measure of publicly challenging a teammate and questioning his heart.

Way to go, Jack!

It's one thing for management to come down hard on Castillo. General manager Dave Littlefield and manager Jim Tracy have made it clear they weren't pleased with his conditioning last season, his work habits and his mental blunders at the plate, in the field and on the bases. Tracy has gone so far as to say Castillo will be in a fight with Jose Bautista for his starting job at spring training. If Castillo wins, he'll play second base and Sanchez will be at third base. If Bautista wins, he'll play third and Sanchez will be the second baseman.

It's nice to think Castillo will be right when he reports to Bradenton, Fla., next month. The Pirates will be a better team if he wins the job and the versatile Bautista comes off the bench. Bautista can play third base, second base and any of the outfield spots. But, that said, there's no way Littlefield and Tracy put up with another lame effort by Castillo.

That's where Jack Wilson comes in. Maybe he'll be the one who gets through to Castillo. It's always better when the clubhouse policing comes from within and not from the manager's or general manager's office. Castillo might be able to shrug off complaints from his bosses as long as they continue to sign his checks. But how does he walk into that clubhouse every day and look his teammates in the eye when he and they know he is letting them down?

What Wilson did this weekend won't guarantee an end to the Pirates' 14-year losing streak.

But it sure was a nice start.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07029/757664-87.stm
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Old 02-02-2007, 04:35 AM   #767
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Default Re: Pirates Update

Pirates sign Armas, spur competition
GM says Chacon, Youman, McLeary also in mix for rotation


Friday, February 02, 2007
By Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Go figure ...

Four of the Pirates' five starting pitchers, all too young for arbitration, will make something close to Major League Baseball's minimum wage of $380,000 this season.

And two of the guys who will duel this spring for the final spot in the rotation?

Each will top $3 million.

The Pirates yesterday finally found the right-handed starter they had sought all offseason, signing free agent Tony Armas to a one-year contract worth $3.5 million. There is a mutual option for 2008 that would pay $5 million if exercised, possibly more based on his 2007 performance. If the team or player does not agree to that option, the team must pay a $500,000 buyout.

That would seem to be a high price for someone not guaranteed a starting spot.

Earlier this month, the Pirates retained Shawn Chacon with a one-year deal worth $3.8 million. And their plan, as general manager Dave Littlefield confirmed last night, is to use spring training to determine which of those two -- and, possibly, Shane Youman or Marty McLeary -- will start and which will work in long relief.

The way Littlefield sees it, the price paid is one aimed at achieving depth.

"You just can't have enough starting pitching," he said. "You look at what happened last year with Kip Wells, and that's something you've got to guard against."

Wells was lost in spring training for half the season after surgery to address a blocked artery, leaving Victor Santos to back into the rotation despite a dismal exhibition season.

Littlefield said this competition should be more widespread. In addition to including Youman and McLeary in the mix, he mentioned that none of the four youngsters -- Ian Snell, Zach Duke, Paul Maholm and Tom Gorzelanny -- should take their spots for granted.

"We're in a position where we need everybody to compete," Littlefield said. "I'd certainly like to think that these four young guys, who are very talented, will take the opportunity."

Chacon's contract is not guaranteed, meaning the Pirates could cut him this spring and pay one-sixth of his salary. But Littlefield has said he has no intention of doing that.

Armas, 28, went 9-12 with a 5.03 ERA in 30 starts for the Washington Nationals last season. Over eight seasons in the majors, he has gone 48-60 with a 4.45 ERA.

"He's a guy who had some success early in his career, then had some injuries," Littlefield said. "What you'd like to find out, if he stays healthy, is if he can get back to that. It's good to see the starts he had."

Armas throws a sinking fastball in the 90-92 mph range, along with a sharp curveball, a slider and a changeup. He entered the majors as a 21-year-old in 1999 with Montreal, had 176 strikeouts two years later, and by 2003, was the Expos' opening-day starter.

But on May 23 of that year, he had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder and did not pitch again until the following June. The shoulder bugged him again in 2005, and he had minor surgery in September of that year. The positive since then is that Armas has had no shoulder trouble. The negative is that he has yet to rediscover peak form. In the two years since the major surgery -- and since the Expos moved to Washington -- he went 16-19 with a 5.01 ERA.

Armas' most consistent trait in that time was a tendency to labor and exit early. Case in point was his final start Sept. 29, in which he limited the New York Mets to two runs on four hits but had to leave after just five innings because his pitch count was 111. That included 41 pitches in the final inning.

The acquisition of Armas -- the Pirates' first free-agent signing to a major-league contract this offseason -- might mark the end of their significant activity, even though they project to have about $8 million in leftover money under their self-imposed payroll limit of roughly $50 million. Littlefield acknowledged he still is involved in "some trade talks" and would not rule out further moves, but he said there was no urgency to spend to the limit before the season.

"By no means do I want it represented that we'd be spending money just to get it to the payroll level," he said.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07033/758884-63.stm
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Old 02-02-2007, 04:37 AM   #768
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Default Re: Pirates Update

Yeah, way to go, Littlefield...throw money at a guy who was 9-12 with an ERA over 5 and has a history of arm problems. And to make matters worse, they are pretty much planning to sit on the rest of the money they were supposed to spend on players this season. More ca$h in the Nutting$' pocket to spend on snow at Seven Springs. The only good thing about this deal is that they aren't going to just hand the 5th starter's job over to Chacon and that there will be competition for that spot.
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Old 02-02-2007, 03:34 PM   #769
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Default Re: Pirates Update

Pirates avoid arbitration with LaRoche, Grabow
Friday, February 02, 2007

By Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Pirates avoided salary arbitration with two more players, agreeing to terms with first baseman Adam LaRoche and reliever John Grabow for one-year contracts.

Financial terms were not immediately available for LaRoche. Grabow will make $832,500 in base pay and as much as $115,000 in performance bonuses based on appearances and games finished.

LaRoche had filed through the arbitration process a salary figure of $3.7 million, the team $2.8 million. Grabow had filed for $925,000, the team $765,000.

The only arbitration-eligible players still unsigned are infielders Freddy Sanchez and Jose Castillo. The Pirates do not expect to go to hearings with either.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07033/759019-100.stm
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Old 02-04-2007, 04:43 AM   #770
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Default Re: Pirates Update

Pirates finish deals with Kolb, Sanchez
Free-agent reliever added; batting champ avoids arbitration

Sunday, February 04, 2007

By Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Pirates found some relief yesterday, in more ways than one.

On one front, they added experience to the bullpen by agreeing to terms with free agent Dan Kolb on a one-year, minor-league contract. If Kolb makes the 25-man roster out of spring training, as appears quite likely, he will receive a salary of $1.25 million, plus as much as $1.3 million in performance bonuses based on appearances and games finished. If he is not added to the roster by March 30, he can declare himself a free agent.

On another front, the Pirates avoided arbitration with National League batting champion Freddy Sanchez by agreeing to a one-year contract with a $2.75 million salary, plus a $10,000 bonus if he makes 650 plate appearances.

The parties' arbitration hearing had been scheduled for Thursday, and each side had expressed eagerness to avoid what often is a contentious process.

"The Pirates, to their credit, were committed to get it done before the hearing," said Paul Cobbe, Sanchez's agent. "We did it with five days to spare."

After two months of failing to agree on a one-year deal, the parties exchanged two-year offers last week -- at the Pirates' urging -- and nearly came to terms. But, when that resulted in another stalemate, they went back to the one-year plan and ended up with a salary figure closer to the $3.1 million that Sanchez had submitted through arbitration than the team's $2.15 million.

"We never got to a spot that was completely comfortable for everybody," Cobbe said of the two-year tries. "And I think that's understandable. This really was a difficult case to evaluate because of Freddy's unique, outstanding achievement last year."

The arbitration process generally weighs the player's entire career rather than just the previous year. Sanchez was considered by the Pirates to be a utilityman early last season but wound up with a .344 average and played in the All-Star Game.

"You show me a bench guy who's won the batting title in the same year," Cobbe said. "I can't think of one other example."

Even though Sanchez is signed for only one year, the Pirates can -- and surely will -- retain his rights for the next three years through arbitration.

The Pirates wasted little time with Kolb, opening talks Wednesday with agent Damon Lapa and striking a deal yesterday afternoon.

Kolb had hoped for a major-league contract that would have guaranteed a place on the 40-man roster, but that never came. What separated the Pirates from the other two interested parties, the Colorado Rockies and St. Louis Cardinals, was what Kolb saw as a better opportunity to establish himself anew as a premier late-inning reliever.

"Ultimately, all things being equal, Dan wanted the chance he saw with the Pirates," Lapa said.

Closer Salomon Torres, Matt Capps, John Grabow and Damaso Marte are the Pirates' only relievers with at least a full season of experience.

Kolb, who will turn 32 next month, is coming off two subpar seasons after two exceptional ones.

As the Milwaukee Brewers' closer in 2003-04, he recorded 60 saves in 67 chances with a 2.55 ERA and pitched in the All-Star Game. But, with the Atlanta Braves in 2005, his ERA swelled to 5.93, and he lost the closer's job by blowing 11 of 18 saves. Last season, back with the Brewers, he had a 4.84 ERA, albeit with an efficient second half.

The Pirates and Kolb agreed to waive a physical until spring training, but the signing will not be official until early next week because of paperwork.

NOTES -- The Pirates' only remaining arbitration-eligible player is second baseman Jose Castillo. His hearing is scheduled for Feb. 14, but the sides are expected to reach agreement before then. Castillo filed a salary figure of $2.2 million, the team $1.8 million. ... The Pirates' payroll, with 13 players signed to major-league contracts, is $32.1 million. ... Kolb's addition raises the number of players invited to major-league camp in spring training to 66.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07035/759323-63.stm
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