It's my offseason from coaching and other stuff, so nothing really noteworthy going on around here of late. However, might as well do a little post for the sake of doing one for the first time in a few weeks. So here's a little bit of ramblings about the Pirates
(Note: For non-Pirates related matter, skip down to the next heading)
*The Pirates hired a new manager in Clint Hurdle. Not that it'll make much of a difference. I say that in the sense that a great manager vs a poor manager will only make a 5-8 game difference. When you're the last-place team that doesn't help much. That said, I thought Hurdle was the best candidate for the job and there's only one way to go. It's a young team and should be improving. Also, maybe Hurdle can sway a free agent or two to come to Pittsburgh.
*I'll be interested to see what kind of moves the Pirates make this winter. There is a definite need for starting pitching, but a very thin market. They could also use a right-handed power bat in the mold of 2003-2004 Reggie Sanders.
*It's a shame to see Zach Duke, Delwyn Young, and Andy LaRoche be released but being good guys isn't enough to warrant remaining on the roster. Duke would've been making $5-6 million this year and have a 5-6 ERA. We'll see if he'd want to come back from $1 million or so. LaRoche had his chance at 3B and, while he played great defensively in 2009, he wasn't good offensively OR defensively at a corner position in 2010. Had the bat played, there would have been a spot for him (like Neil Walker) even with Alvarez coming up. Young was a nice bat off the bench, but didn't offer much more than that. A dime a dozen.
*Just for curiosity's sake, let's take a look at the starting lineups for the Pirates and the San Francisco Giants and tell me who you'd rather have going into 2011.
C - Buster Posey vs Ryan Doumit and Chris Snider. Just wanted to get the 4-hole rookie-of-the-year obvious one in favor of SF out of the way, but the rest of the argument is pretty compelling.
1B - Aubrey Huff vs Garret Jones. Huff, who will be 34, had a great 2010, but look at the average OPS over the past two years for the two players
2B - Freddy Sanchez vs Neil Walker. Sanchez will be 33 and is declining. Walker, 26, had an over .800 OPS and is still just learning second base.
3B - Juan Uribe vs Pedro Alvarez. No contest here - go with the raw middle-of-the-order power of Alvarez
SS - Edgar Renteria vs Ronny Cedeno. Only because Cedeno's not that good, would you pick the old has-been Renteria (who was so clutch in the playoffs). Can anyone say a 2007 model of Jack Wilson instead?
LF - Pat Burrell or Cody Ross vs Jose Tabata. Ross caught fire down the stretch but was just a September waiver trade. Burrell (and his contract) got released from fiscally conscious Tampa Bay. Take the youth and speed and potential of Tabata.
CF - Andres Torres vs Andrew McCutchen. Torres is pretty good, but McCutchen is getting close to being all-star material (16 HR, 33 SB, .814 OPS). Close call, but both are good options.
RF - Aaron Rowand vs TBD. Okay, but here's where the Pirates need to make a good move.
The moral of the story is that, from a batting order standpoint, the Pirates match up fairly well against the World Series Champs. HOWEVER, there's that little thing called starting pitching. Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, and Bumgarner are ALL better than the Pirates' best starting pitcher. But, that's why I find no fault in the Pirates investing so much the last few years in the draft in high-end pitchers. It seems like you don't need a great offensive team (just an adequate one), but you NEED GREAT PITCHING. Talk to me in 2-3 years when the Pirates' rotation is made up of Morris, Locke, Owens, Tallion, Allie, Heredia, or maybe a few others. It's all about developing pitching.
One of the runners from our school is going to the Foot Locker regional meet in New York this weekend. He was inspired by his teammate from last year qualifying for and competing at Foot Locker Nationals. Since he's a junior, he's going into this race with an open mind, trying to gain experience to put him in a position to try to be top-10 next year. However, who knows, maybe this year...
So, since the rest of the team was resting up and getting ready for indoor track training to start in December, I volunteered to come a few times and workout with him to give him someone to train with. As with Rad last year, I enjoy training with these high-caliber athletes because it's a great challenge but also a good humbling exercise to keep in perspective my level of talent (or lack thereof). For example from this past week:
His workout - 6 mile long run
My workout - 6 mile TEMPO RUN (left wheezing up the final hill to the locker room)
His workout - 3x1600 working down towards 5:00
My workout - 3x800 (2nd half of his 1600's) holding on for dear life to run beside him even though he was going twice as far as me and I got extra rest
His workout - 9x400 in the 70's
My workout - 2 out of every 3 400's and I get to run in lane 1 while he's running in lane 2 (yet I still use his stagger)
But, it's fun and I'm hoping he has a great experience up there this weekend.
This training has been fun preparation for the Downtown Turkey Trot. I'm going for the 5-mile option and am excited to run this race for the first time. I've done the Greensburg Turkey Trot, but this'll be my first time dahn-tahn. I'll be sure to study this map a little closer than I did than my last race. The Turkey Trot is such a great idea to burn a few calories and have fun prior to feasting on some turkey and fixin's. It should be a prerequisite for Turkey day.
PENN STATE & COLLEGES
Congrats to JoePa on win #400. No coach will ever do that again. I'll be interested which Michigan State and which Penn State teams show up Saturday. MSU has a lot riding on the game, but they haven't won at Beaver Stadium since the inception of the Land Grant Trophy (aka concocted rivalry) when PSU came into the Big Ten. PSU looked equally impressive then embarrassing for stretches the last two weeks against Ohio State and Indiana. Who knows what kind of team will show up.
I'm getting ready to prepare my annual BCS Playoff proposal. Here's the ones from last year and the year before. It's all about giving every team in Division 1-A a chance when they start in August.
Congrats to Penn State (and Richmond men for Charlie!) on their performance at NCAA Cross Country Regionals and Nationals. Also, congrats to Etown men & women for top 15 performances at D3 Nationals.
The Steelers bounced back from the beating they took from New England. They handled the Raiders easily. I thought after the game against the Patriots they may start tanking. Too bad about Jeff Reed getting cut. It's a result league and he wasn't getting results (and he was running his mouth).
In other NFL news, I'm right on the bubble of making the playoffs in my fantasy football league. Who knew? If only I had a running back...
Prayers go out to Colt Brennan, his girlfriend, and the passenger in the other car from this accident in Kona on the Queen K just north of the airport (where Beth was riding last month). An interesting link for us is we met Colt Brennan's mother in Alabama when we were down there for Beth to compete in USAT Nationals. It was the Sunday morning after the race and we were eating breakfast in the hotel (yummy waffles) and she came up to us and said, "Do you know the score of the Redskins exhibition game from yesterday?" Since it was August and I was still in baseball mode, I said, "Sorry, I don't follow the NFL too close and just pretty much the Steelers." Well, it turned out the Redskins played the Steelers (oops!) and I was just uninformed. She introduced herself and told us how she was visiting relatives and on her way (either from or to) Texas to catch his next game. Very friendly woman and very humble about her son being talented NCAA quarterback trying to stick in the NFL.
Okay, that turned out long. If you can't sleep tonight, this just may do the trick. Good night!