Thursday, March 22, 2012

OT: March Madness

I'm currently watching Syracuse play Wisconsin and Michigan State battling Louisville in some Sweet Sixteen action.  Figured I'd use this blog to ramble about it a bit.  Oh, I'm also watching the Pittsburgh Penguins playing the Nashville Predators.  Speaking of the Pens, I'll start there.  The Pens are nasty, especially now that Crosby is (fingers crossed) healthy.  It's ridiculous he's the Pens third line center.  Obviously that's to keep line chemistry and it makes sense.  It would be foolish to break up Neal - Malkin - Kunitz.  Plus, Cooke and Kennedy are talented enough to play with Crosby; his talent isn't being "wasted."  Furthermore, the Penguins can put Crosby, Malkin, Kunitz, Neal, and Letang on the ice for a power play and that's just silly stupid.  Their defense is solid and Fleury has been playing well.  I'll go bold and say the Pens are the team to beat in the entire NHL.  As I write this, they are up 3-0.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Draft Preview: The Youngin's Part 2

Everyone loves youth.  Tony La Russa may disagree with that statement, but he's part of a small minority.  The younger the player, the more time he has to grow and to develop.  It means a higher ceiling, well at least a higher perceived ceiling.  Ultimately, a player is going to be drafted based on several factors other than the date on his birth certificate.  Still, when it comes to the draft, youth is never going to be looked at as a fault. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Draft Preview: The Youngin's Part 1

Everyone loves youth.  Tony La Russa may disagree with that statement, but he's part of a small minority.  The younger the player, the more time he has to grow and to develop.  It means a higher ceiling, well at least a higher perceived ceiling.  Ultimately, a player is going to be drafted based on several factors other than the date on his birth certificate.  Still, when it comes to the draft, youth is never going to be looked at as a fault. 

In the 2012 draft class, seven prep players stand out as being both a top draft prospect and extremely young.  That list consists of Carlos Correa, C.J Hinojosa, Carson Kelly, Rhett Wiseman, Cody Poteet, Daniel Starwalt, and Anthony Alford.  Carlos Correa was part of my first mock draft and was also profiled earlier here.  C.J. Hinojosa and Carson Kelly (along with Correa) will be included in my mock draft 2.0.  That leaves Wiseman, Poteet, Starwalt, and Alford to profile.  Up first, Starwalt and Alford.

Daniel Starwalt - Daniel Starwalt is the youngest player in Baseball America's top 100 draft prospects that came out on the first of February.  Starwalt, who Baseball America ranks 81st, won't turn 18 until February 7th of 2013! The right-handed pitcher, who currently attends Granite Hills High School in El Cajon, California is an excellent prospect.  That's clear by his commitment to Stanford which should make him a hard player to sign, especially with the new CBA.  Starwalt might be good enough that some team will try, however.  He currently stands at an impressive 6'3, 210 lbs and throws two intriguing pitches.  The first is a fastball that already touches 95 mph and the second is a curveball that flashes a sharp break and late bite, while coming in on hitters in the 78-80 mph range. 

Anthony Alford - Anthony Alford is also young, hence why he's profiled in this article.  He'll turn 18 about a month after the draft on July 20th.  Alford is both an excellent baseball prospect and a coveted high school quarterback.  Baseball American ranks him 89th on their list and ESPNU ranks him as the 95th best player in the class of 2012 in football. From Petal, Mississippi, Alford is committed to play both football and baseball for his homestate Southern Mississippi.  The Golden Eagles will have to hope he ends up on campus and not in fall instructionals for a baseball team next year, because make no mistake, that's a strong possibility.  Alford is a tremendous athlete who should be able to play centerfield with ample arm for the position.  While Alford is very raw and is more of an athlete than a baseball player at this point, he does have a quick swing backed by plenty of raw power than will be intriguing to some team come June.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Extension Candidate Not Named Neil Walker

How about this guy?
I've said this a lot over the last week, but I'll say it again.  The Pirates signed Andrew McCutchen to an extension! Great news for the Pirates undoubtedly, but Neal Huntington's work is far from done.  Before the ink could even dry on McCutchen's contract the focus shifted to contract extension talks with second baseman Neil Walker.  MLB Trade Rumors immediately detailed what an extension would look like, seemingly justifying such a move. David Todd over at Bucs Dugout offered his theory that such an extension is probably a poor idea.  According to Walker himself, the talks haven't "gone very far" yet. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

#1 Prospect - Jameson Taillon

Very few big league clubs have a pitching talent like Gerrit Cole.  The Pirates are lucky to have two guys that can claim that elite status.  The second is my top Pirates prospect, Jameson Taillon.  Ultimately, it's not much of a surprise that Taillon is one of the top prospects in baseball.  His name was firmly placed on the map when the Pirates drafted him #2 overall back in 2010 as a prep pitcher out of the Woodlands High School in Texas, the same school that Kyle Drabek attended.  There wasn't much drama involved in signing Taillon, although he did wait until mid-August to forgo his commitment to Rice and instead take a 6.5 million dollar signing bonus.

Andrew McCutchen's trade value

Before people totally lose their minds, I am not advocating this move. I don't think it will happen and I am not saying that the front office was just trying to build up McCutchen's trade value so they can ship him off to the highest bidder. However, since I have seen a few people mention this and considering how McCutchen's enormous trade value was a hotly discussed topic before the extension, I figured I'd at least crunch the numbers and see what I came up with.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What if everything goes right?

The Pirates are punting on 2012.  Or they’re going to contend in a weakened NL Central that no longer features Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols.  Rod Barajas and Clint Barmes are going to age poorly and the North Side Notch is going to rob them of whatever power they might have had left. Or they are good defenders who will anchor two of 2011’s most unstable positions. AJ Burnett is too old and can’t be an effective starter anymore. Or he’s a 200 inning workhorse with a 93 MPH fastball who will benefit from a move to a weaker division. Pedro Alvarez will hit 5 home runs and strike out 30% of the time. Or he will hit 25 home runs and will strike out…well…29% of the time. With Spring Training upon us again, everybody has seemingly come up with their own opinions about what kind of season we are in for. What are realistic expectations, though? I guess the only way to answer that is to look at both ends of the spectrum. Since I’m a positive guy, I’ll start by looking at what we can expect in 2012 if everything goes right.

The Pirates and Contract Extensions

What do Evan Longoria and Matt Moore
have to do with the Pirates and
Contract  Extensions? Click to find out!
Big news! The Pirates signed Andrew McCutchen to an extension! By now, whoever is reading this probably already knows.  It's awesome news.  Digging a bit further though, I'd like to comment on an interesting observation I had, specifically about contract extensions.

The McCutchen extension fell in line with two recent extensions that have created a model.  The Arizona Diamondbacks were able to sign Justin Upton followed by the Cincinnati Reds signing Jay Bruce to virtually identical contracts. Both players were like McCutchen, young outfielders going into the third year, their last year prior to arbitration.  Point being, the parallels are more than obvious.  That's not the only model though and it may not be the best.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Reaction: McCutchen Signs an Extension!

First, I just gotta steal this video from Charlie's thread over at BucsDugout.  It relates my feelings of euphoria and joy perfectly.  Plus you can dance to it.

Friday, March 2, 2012

#2 Prospect - Gerrit Cole

As bad as the Pirates have been over the past two decades, it's actually shocking they haven't had the first overall pick in the draft more often.  Unfortunately, it means they've missed out on some incredible talent, most notably Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper.  I'm not at all bitter though.  Nope, not at all.  That aside, they did have the first overall pick in 2011 and with it they selected my #2 Pirates Prospect, Gerrit Cole.  With the Pirates selecting him actually marked the second time Cole was drafted in the first round of the rule 4 MLB draft.  In 2008, the New York Yankees drafted Cole with the 28th overall pick.  He reportedly turned down four-million dollars and instead elected to attend UCLA.  For Cole, it was a risky maneuver, at least financially, but ultimately it paid off.  The Pirates offered Cole eight-million dollars and this time he didn't turn down the money. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

High School to the Majors: Pitchers

About 3 weeks ago, I wrote an article detailing rapid-ascension high school draftees who arrive in the big leagues quickly.  That article focused on positional players.  In the article, I promised a follow-up article on pitchers.  Better late than never I guess.  The primer on that article is after the jump.