Tuesday, June 29, 2010

5 Good Things and 5 Bad Things about the 2010 Pirates' Minor Leagues

It's just about time to flip the calendar over to July, which means that some trendline data can be compiled. There are no more "small sample sizes" as the halfway point is approaching for all the full-season teams.

First the Good:
1. Neil Walker flourished at AAA to the point the Pirates HAD to include him in this trainwreck of a season. Originally thought to be a "super sub", Walker entrenched himself at 2B and did quite well. That is until The Success Scourge, Ryan Church, ran into Walker and gave him a concussion -- putting him out for a while.
Walker AAA .321/.392/.560 (952 OPS)
Walker MLB .295/.325/.464 (789 OPS)

2. Bryan Morris has not only put himself back on the prospect map, but with all of the recent promotions he is probably the Pirates #1 prospect (until Taillon is signed). Morris absolutely dominated the Florida State League and, aside from 1 really bad start, is excelling at AA Altoona in the Eastern League, too. Kyle Stark has said that Morris could see some time at AAA in 2010, which is a bold statement from this group that keeps it close to the vest.
Morris A+ 44 IP, 37 H, 7 BB, 40 K, 0.60 ERA
Morris AA 45 IP, 41 H, 15 BB, 42 K, 3.35 ERA

3. Rudy Owens and his man-perm have proven that last year was not a fluke year. After getting just a taste of A+ last year (6 starts at the end of the year), Owens was jumped to AA. He has responding by showing that he can more than capably fill the role of #5 starter for the Pirates -- which sounds like a back-handed compliment, but has quite a bit of value.
Owens AA 87 IP, 67 H, 17 BB, 67 K, 2.74 ERA

4. Alex Presley decided to board a rocket ship at the start of 2010 and leave Earth's atmosphere. He has not been able to come back yet. I was mildly intrigued by Presley in 2007 (784 OPS with 22 2B, 11 HR, 18 SB) but his 2008 and 2009 involved him spinning his wheels at A+ for 2 years. Then he hung out with Jim Negrych this off-season and re-did his whole swing. He has put himself squarely in the DBS Top 30 at the end of the year, probably in the 11-20 range, even though he may only be a 4th OF. Presley has had an 8 RBI game this year and last week hit for the cycle in AAA, after being recently promoted.
Presley AA .350/.399/.533 (932 OPS)
Presley AAA .389/.389/.778 (1167 OPS)

5. This one seems like a cop-out, but the whole goal of the minor league is to supply cost-controlled talent to the major league team. I already discussed Walker separately, as not many people saw him as a key piece coming into 2010. However, people did see Alvarez/Tabata/Lincoln as key pieces. And the good news is that they didn't stub their toe on the way to Pittsburgh (in PGH is a different story).
Alvarez AAA .277/.363/.533 (896 OPS)
Tabata AAA .308/.373/.424 (793 OPS)
Lincoln AAA 68 IP, 54 H, 14 BB, 55 K, 3.16 ERA

And with the Good, there's usually the Bad....
1. Chase d'Arnaud was supposed to do his thing in AA...hit around .290 with a 1/1 K/BB rate and put himself in the mix in 2011 for either SS or 2B. Well, the coronation took a U-turn when Chase forgot that the season starts in April and not June. His April saw Chase drop a 599 OPS, followed by a 615 in May. However, his June has had a more Chase-like .298/.373/.471 (844 OPS). Hopefully his July and August stay hot and he can move out of this column.

2. Robbie Grossman has been a disaster...no sugar coating it. I have repeatedly sounded the alarm over his K rate not playing out as he moves up the chain. I thought it would rear it's head at AA, not this year at A+. It's probably more that he's just not making contact, though. His overall line of .221/.330/.322 (652 OPS) is yucky. When your OBP is higher than your SLG, you have a problem. His switch hitting woes continue, too. His batting average as a righty is .280 (749 OPS with a 25% K rate), but as a lefty it's .197 (612 OPS, 27% K rate). He needs to give up switch hitting. Like yesterday.

3. Quinton Miller was another 2008 draft bonus baby, but unfortunately he can't get on track. He currently is on the DL with bicep tendonitis, which is a pre-flag for elbow trouble in the pitching world. He has pitched 6 innings this year and just 69 in his whole Pirates career. Miller is just proof for why you can never have too much pitching...and why there is no such thing as a pitching prospect (the cynical flip side to that coin).

4. The whole crop of 2009 High School Pitchers (ZVR, Cain, Fuesser, Stevenson, Dodson, Pounders) all stayed behind in Extended Spring Training. Cain also had back surgery before the season and Stevenson had some mystery injury...safe to say that the beanpole didn't overeat at least (ahem, Pounders, ahem). Pounders, with his "pitchability" and exposure in the GCL last year, could have handled an assignment to Low A but he was out of shape. ZVR's velocity is in the mid to high 80's which is not good. It would have been nice to see someone break out, that's all I'm saying.

5. There have been (hopefully no more in the future) a decent number of injuries to key prospects this season. Sanchez broke his jaw and there are rumors about his shoulder bothering him. Marte got hit by a pitch and broke his hamate. Holt ripped his ACL up. All three are out for the better part of the remainder of 2010. Other players, like Lorin only starting a couple of weeks ago after being injured, and Farrell out for an extended period of time after ripping the cover off the ball, is a bummer. It happens every year to every team, but couldn't some org soldiers take one for the team instead of the top guys?

I've already started thinking about the 2011 DBS Top 30. Even with Taillon and Allie (hopefully), there is a void from #8 to #14'ish in terms of who DESERVES to be there. Hopefully some players can make a late case.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Conflict Kitchen

Every other week or so, me and a couple of guys from work will cut the chains and go out to eat lunch. Mostly, it's a way for us to vent about our various departments or the current projects we're working on, but it's also a way to get out and try different places.

Usually we're so caught up in work that we don't think about it ahead of time. This results in us eating at chain-y type of places or old familiar haunts.

Well, last Friday I said "I got this one covered boys, but you have to willing to try something different." So we went off the grid to Conflict Kitchen in East Liberty.

Conflict Kitchen is an off-shoot project from the art/world cultures department of Carnegie Mellon University. It is staffed by artsy types of people from CMU and associated with the Waffle Shop next door (itself an interesting animal to observe). The premise is this: Every 4 months the menu will highlight a food item from a country that the United States is currently either at war with or in conflict with. (I know, I know...they could do this for 5 years easy).

The current country is Iran. The downside to this place is that there is only 1 item...the Kubideh sandwich. I thought there would be some rice or some tea that Iran is well known to enjoy, but no. The Kubideh is a "street sandwich" common thoroughout Iran. It is a spiced ground beef (curry, saffron, mint) with some onion wrapped in a homemade pita-esque shell. This is all served to you in a paper wrapper which gives you some reading material about the culture of Iran, its economy, religious beliefs, etc.

It is meant to be an awareness project, not a full scale restaurant. I get that, but some rice would be nice.

The sandwich itself was poked and prodded by my 3 other less-adventureous food companions this day. I dived right into it. To me, it was very similar to something you would get at Aladdin's or some other type of Middle Eastern restaurant in the city (Khalil's in Bloomfield, in particular). I enjoyed it, but there was a touch too much flour on the pita-like shell. I looked like the Dave Chappelle character, Tyrone Biggins the crackhead, after I was done before I wiped my mouth.

Supposedly the next 2 countries will be Afghanistan and North Korea. I am slightly curious what dish they will choose for North Korea. The Conflict Kitchen is something I recommend visiting (the facade will change as well every 4 months), but plan on getting something else to eat to fill your cake cruncher.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

What is the next Pittsburgh neighborhood to be redeveloped?

Next time you go to the Southside Works to catch a movie, go to Claddagh's Irish pub, pick up some (overpriced) stuff at Sur la Table for the kitchen, or shop at Steve Madden....stop and think that you are standing in the midst of what used to be a massive steel mill.

When you're walking through Lawrenceville, admiring all of the funky art galleries or dining at some of the city's best new restaurants like Piccolo Forno, Tamari, or Round Corner Cantina, think about how 10-15 years ago that neighborhood was completely run down and there were only grass root sprouts of community interest in cleaning it up.

East Liberty, starting with Home Depot and the Eastside complex in the early 2000's, is revitalizing itself, too. It also has some travel-worthy restaurants that it is using to fuel its redevelopment growth, such as Abay, Dinette, and two new restaurants to open in the fall (Spoon and BRGR) among others.

Neighborhoods are like fire, in some regards. They need fuel to not only survive, but thrive. The initial kindling must come from the residents of the neighborhoods themselves. They must take pride in their area and want to make it better. That means cleaning it up, keeping undesirables out, and presenting a good image for potential residents or businesses.

But that only goes so far. At some point, there needs to be an infusion of cash from first the government (county, state, federal) in order to attract private-side developers.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) of Pittsburgh and the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County have, for the most part, done a decent job of directing monies to highlighted neighborhoods in order for them to grow. This has been by demolishing blighted properties, rebuilding sub-surface infrastructure, re-doing streets and sidewalks, and offering tax breaks to private development. Without these things, our city neighborhoods may wither and die on the vine. And then we would be Detroit.

So what's the next neighborhood that should be targeted? Obviously, no city neighborhood is perfect (and there are a ton of them, some of which I have never heard of ---Fairywood?), but some need more help than others.

Lawrenceville, between its own neighborhood groups, city involvement, and the presence of the new Children's Hospital, is still on the way up in terms of promise. East Liberty, mentioned above, has a ways to go but is definitely off the mat in terms of where it was 10 years ago. And wedged right in between them?

Garfield. Not the one-term president assassinated in 1881 after only 6 months in office (the neighborhood took on his name the day he was shot). And not the beloved, way-past-its-prime cartoon starring a lasagna-loving cat. I'm talking about one of the meanest, roughest neighborhood in the city of Pittsburgh.

The signs are already starting....Mayor Ravenstahl has been focusing attention on demolishing many vacant and blighted houses. Nuisance bars are being shuttered. This is step one -- eliminating the undesirable element. Step two is to attract the artist community. Because rent is cheap, artists are drawn to these gritty places. It will be only a matter of time before you start to see a revitalization of the housing stock here, as a way to help provide affordable quality housing to an area that desperately needs it.

It only makes sense to connect the chain from Lawrenceville to East Liberty together with one more link...Garfield. It will be a way to rectify the terrible "sledgehammer-style" of urban redevelopment done in the 60's and 70's...construct high-rise housing to contain minorities in a concrete vertical filing cabinet, all the while destroying the very things that made the community great.

People who work in the city need good places to live in the city. I believe this decade will see the rebirth of Garfield. And we can all share a piece of lasagna when it happens.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tampa Bay v. Pittsburgh 1-1 and 1-2 -- are we even now?

Pedro Alvarez debuted last night for the Pirates, just two years after being drafted in the first round, second overall (1-2). That year in 2008, the Tampa Bay Rays were drafting 1-1 (hard to imagine they sucked that bad just 3 years ago, huh?) and selected Tim Beckham, a high school SS.

Now in 2008, Tampa was in the midst of one of the all-time turnaround seasons. They finished with the worst record in 2007, which allowed them to draft 1-1, but in 2008 they were leading their division and on the way to their first ever playoff series.

They were buoyed by a fantastic pitching staff, with a plethora of arms in the minors making their way through the system (Price, Davis, McGee, and Hellickson). They had a resurgent Carlos Pena, a developing BJ Upton, budding superstar Evan Longoria, and the always dependable Carl Crawford. Not only were they on their way to a run in 2008, it seemed as if their window was going to be open for a couple of years before they had to be concerned about payroll.

Pedro Alvarez would have been the perfect selection. As college hitters they could have been up in 1-2 years, perfect to hit the contention window.

But Tampa blinked...and selected Beckham. A few weeks ago, I said that the Pirates should have selected Pomeranz in order to maximize the window of opportunity we have with Cutch-22 and Alvarez. This is another example of how a team dropped the ball by not matching the development timelines. A high school SS, if he sticks at the position, is going to need 3 years at a minimum and more likely 4, if not 5 to get to the majors. By that time in 2011-2013, Tampa risked losing Pena, Crawford, and some of their pitching to payroll concerns or free agency.

Today Alvarez is with the Pirates and Beckham is struggling in High A. As of this writing, he's hitting .219/.309/.375 (684 OPS) with a 12.5% BB rate and 30% K rate. He is also said to be developing a thick lower half that will proclude him from playing SS long-term. So where will that bat play?

This made me reflect back to 2002 when the draft order was reversed. The Pirates were drafting 1-1 and Tampa was 1-2. BJ Upton was considered to be the top player in the draft (similar to Alvarez in 2008) but the Pirates panicked and went "safe" with Brian Bullington. At his press conference to introduce him, Littlefield announced that Bullington projected to be a good #3 starter. I almost fell out of my chair. We just used the top overall pick on a POSSIBLE mid-rotation starter?!?

Well, as most of you know, Bullington was an epic bust. Upton has had an up and down career and had to shift to CF from his original SS position, but he has had some success (way more than Bullington, obviously).

So I was wondering...with Beckham not really lighting it up and having more bust than boom potential at this point, are we now "even steven" with Tampa in terms of blowing 1-1 picks with each other?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

So how much would a good team cost?

I'm a big believer in getting value out of something. I cringe when people call me thrifty...I prefer to think of it as being smart with my money. Me saving money on things throughout the week enables me to spend money on the weekend or fun vacations down the road (and even then I'm on the lookout for deals).

So what's this have to do with baseball? I'm getting to that.
The Pirates have the lowest payroll in MLB this year at around $39M. Most of that is because they are rebuilding with youth and those players don't cost a lot, especially their first 3 years.

But even with Cutch-22, Walker, Tabata, Lincoln, Meek, and soon Pedro up and making the minimum wage essentially, there are huge holes in this lineup. And not all those holes can be filled internally. It's time to look outside for either higher quality trade acquisitions or through free agency.

It got me to thinking....if I were a fan of team that actually um...spent money...how much money would you need in the payroll for a good team?

The numbers below are all first-cut numbers. I don't have any A-Rod's on this team for $25M. No matter how good he is, nobody is worth that over an extended period. There are also certain positions that I don't think you should spend a lot of money on (like catcher, for instance, due to wear and tear).

Also keep in mind that a good farm system should supply the major league team with 1 starter and 1 bench/bullpen guy each year. So you'll see in this example some guys in the 0-3 camp making minimum, and the guys who have progressed out of that to the arb camp (typically $2M - $6M as you go through arb). For the arb guys, I assumed an average salary of $4M, taking into account the 3 years of arb.

Catcher - $4M
1B - $12M
2B - $425K (0 to 3 guy)
SS - $5M
3B - $10M
LF - $10M
CF - $4M (Arb guy)
RF - $6M

Bench C - $600K
Bench IF - $2M
Bench IF - $425K (0 to 3 guy)
Bench OF - $1M
Bench OF - $2M

SP1 - $12M
SP2 - $8M
SP3 - $4M (Arb guy)
SP4 - $4M (Arb guy)
SP5 - $425K (0 to 3 guy)

CL - $5M
SET - $2M
SET - $2M
RP - $425K (0 to 3 guy)
RP - $700K
LP - $2M
LP - $425K (0 to 3 guy)

Total - $98M'ish

Last year in 2009, $98M would have put you in 12th place, right between the White Sox and the Braves. That's $5M ahead of the Cards, so you can see that all of those teams are real honest-to-goodness competitive teams.

You can see how far the Pirates still have to go. Kind of depressing, even on the precipice of Pedro coming up to the big team.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Hey brother...can you spare $11 million?

On Monday and Tuesday, the Pirates put together the most amazing series of picks (in terms of daring and design) in the history of the franchise. The Pirates drafted Taillon (1st round) and Allie (2nd round), easily the two highest upside pitchers in recent Pirate memory. Assuming NH/FC et al were telling the truth, there is the mythical $30M for 2008, 2009, and 2010's drafts.

2008 and 2009's drafts consumed roughly $18.7M, so let's for argument sake say they have $11M to spend on this draft.

I thought it may be a good idea to guesstimate what each draftee could be commanding and it may shake out what goes where.

Round 1 - Taillon - obviously the whole key to this all. I would say $6.5 to $7M (think of Beckett). I hope no ML contract is needed

Round 2 - Allie - I'm sure he considered himself a Top 10 pick. Slot for this position is around $900K. Slot for 1-10 is $1.8M. Let's budget him for $1.5M

Round 3 - Rojas - slot guy...$425K

Round 4 - Kingham - he may require a touch more than slot ($250K). I'm thinking $500K

Round 5 - Waldron - slot guy ....$175K

Round 6 thru 8 (Hursh, Kubitza, Kime) - I think they only get 2 of these guys out of 3...say $400K each for a total of $800K

Round 9 - Cumpton - slot...$125K

Round 10 - Wiess - unsure...$250K?

After that who knows...we know they need some bats and Grovatt said he wants 4th round money so that's $250K.

For Round 1-10 (signing 9 of them) that's $10.775M. If you add Grovatt that puts you right at $11M.

Most org guys sign for $5000 or nothing at all, but you can see how it's pretty easy to get up to $11M with the talent that they drafted yesterday.

Not only would $11M be the most the Pirates have ever spent on the draft in one year, but it would also be one of the 5 highest amounts ever spent by any team. The crazy part is that the Pirates could easily spend $12-$13M on this draft without blinking an eye. There is always talk by NH that there is a "discretionary pool" for special expenses. Well, thanks to your drafting and Greg Smith's drafting, this is now a special time, Neil.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tightening the Beltway - Balt/DC/Silver Spring

DB~ was warning me for a couple of weeks to keep June 4-6 free, as we were taking a short trip within driving distance of Pittsburgh. As with most things in our relationship, there is always the air of mystery, so I didn't know until 2 days before the trip where we were going.

She had to present at Discovery on Saturday in Silver Spring, MD, so on Friday night she scheduled a side trip to see the Orioles play the Red Sox at Camden Yards. She also invited my cousin and his family (wife and 2 kids) to join us. Very cool, DB~!

The Orioles suck as much, if not more, than the Pirates, but Camden Yards is still looking good after 18 years. This park was the jump-off point for all the retro parks that came after it in the 90's through to today. The warehouse in the right-center field can't be beat by many other backdrops (of course PNC Park's is nicer!).

I sampled Boog's BBQ, of course, and chose the pork. DB~ went with the crab cake sandwich. Not a soft shell crab sandwich. :)

The next day I was on my own for most of the day, as she was in her seminar from 8 am to 2 pm. I got up with her and hit the surprisingly diverse town of Silver Spring at 8 am. The best way to explore a city is to geocache it. I found some very interesting and challenging little caches, including one at a memorial sculpture to a homeless man that was a local "character" in Silver Spring before his death.

I passed by a Greek restaurant, a Peruvian/Salvadorian restaurant, a Jamaican restaurant (one love, Tony), 3 (!!) Ethiopian restaurants, a Lebanese restaurant, a Chinese restaurant, and a Mexican restaurant all within a half-mile of each other. I never knew going into this trip how diverse it would be...I thought it would be a white-bread suburb of DC and Baltimore.

For lunch, I had the pleasure of meeting an "internet friend" face to face for the first time. It's always weird to hear a person talk after you've read their "voice" for many years. It was a very enjoyable experience and hopefully we can get together if he comes to Pittsburgh this summer.

Silver Spring is in the midst of a renaissance and growth spurt thanks to Discovery relocating its headquarters here in 2003 and being on the red line for the DC Metro. The downtown area of Silver Spring is sort of re-building radially around Discovery's headquarters. Discovery brought jobs and the rail line enables service workers and high-end workers alike to commute easily to DC (22 minutes) The Ellsworth Street area is home to many restaurants and stores designed to bring people to the area and stay for the better part of the day. A fantastic farmer's market with probably 20 vendors, at least, was in play on Saturday from 9 am to 12 noon. There were many artisan breads and cheeses, organic produce, and wild game vendors displaying their wares. Even though we had a fridge in the hotel room, I didn't buy anything to bring home...a decision I regret now.

Much like Montreal's Metro, we found the DC Metro very easy to pick up and safe to ride. Strangely, the downtown stops (at least on the red line) had VERY dimly lit stations. If I were a single girl, I would find it to be a little edgy. It was shockingly dark in these stations.

On Saturday night, we took the red line into DC and did a crash course in monument hunting and sight seeing. We checked out Ford's Theatre, which I thought was only fair considering how many times I use the phrase "....other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?" in conversation. It was disgustingly hot and humid, high 80's for each at least, so we struggled to walk to see the White House, the under-renovation Eisenhower Executive Office Building, and get halfway to the Washington Monument.

DC is like an outdoor museum with a pulse. You can't help but get caught up in some measure of patriotic spirit as you walk the streets. It gave me pause to think that Lincoln, Washington, Adams, Roosevelt, and many, many other great men walked the same paths as we did that night. I tried to envision how different things were here 200, 100, 50, and sadly even 10 years ago. Parts of DC are just off-limits to pedestrians and vehicles nowadays.

By the time we did our mini self-guided tour, it was nearly 8:30. We were both tired and very hot, so we sort of picked the first good place we found, which was an Italian place called Finemondo.
DB~ had perhaps the finest ravioli either of us has ever had. It was a butternut squash ravioli with amaretto in it, topped with a sage butter sauce. The amaretto was just the perfect compliment to the earthy butternut taste.

I had the spinach and cheese ravioli, with mine in a basil cream sauce. On any other night, it would have been fantastic. I helped clean off DB~'s plate, for sure.

It was a jam packed weekend and there were many things we would love to go back and do, but it was a fantastic sampler of our nation's capital and sister city, Baltimore (my second home with all my mom's side of family there).

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Why are the Padres good this year?

We're just past the 1/3 of the way through the 2010 baseball season. Small sample sizes are giving way to developing trendlines.

And on June 3, 2010, the San Diego Padres find themselves in first place in the NL West with a record of 32-21. This is the team that finished last year 75-87 and fired GM Kevin Towers, replacing him with a great get of a GM candidate in young Jed Hoyer from the Red Sox.

So how are they doing it? Is it the offense? Ummm, no...I don't think so.

They have a grand total of 3 regular starters above 100 OPS+, with Chase Headley at 99. They have super-sub Scott Hairston at 130 and co-catcher Torrealba at 112, but the rest of the lineup is kind of poor.

C -- Hundley 140 OPS+ with an OPS of 848. His first two seasons, he had an OPS of 636 and 719.
1B -- Gonzalez 144 OPS+ with an OPS of 865. He's one of the best 1B in the NL.
2B -- Eckstein 105 OPS+ with an OPS of 722. He has had an OPS+ above 100 one time, back in 2002.
SS -- J. Hairston 78 OPS+ with an OPS of 628.
3B -- Headley 99 OPS+ with an OPS of 701.
LF -- Blanks 72 OPS+ with an OPS of 607.
CF -- Gwynn (not that one) 70 OPS+ with an OPS of 594. Putrid.
RF -- Venable 95 OPS+ with an OPS of 693.

Hundley and Eckstein will regress a little, Headley may improve slightly, but that's it. This offense is pretty poor.

But at least this year they're not trotting out the rotting corpse of Brian Giles with his 55 OPS+ and 548 OPS. Blaaaccchhh.

When you turn to look at the pitching, you see the reason why the Pad Squad is in first place. Especially when you consider half the games are in spacious Petco Caverns.....

Clayton Richard 2.87 ERA (career ERA 4.31)
John Garland 2.15 ERA (career ERA 4.34)
Mat Latos 3.08 ERA (young career ERA 3.78)
Kevin Correia 4.55 ERA (career ERA 4.38)
Wade Leblanc 3.67 ERA (career ERA 4.47)

So you have 4 starting pitchers pitching, in some cases, well below their career ERA's. And one guy pretty much right at it. And then you see the bullpen....

Heath Bell 1.13 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 12.0 K/9
Luke Gregerson 1.57 ERA, 0.453 WHIP, 10 K/9 --- seriously 0.453 WHIP
Edward Mujica 3.46 ERA, 0.885 WHIP, 9 K/9
Mike Adams 2.96 ERA, 0.904 WHIP, 10.7 K/9
Joe Thatcher 1.74 ERA, 0.484 WHIP, 13.1 K/9 -- again, seriously, 0.484 WHIP

Think of how dominant Evan Meek has been at times this year. His stats are 0.89 ERA, 0.956 WHIP, 9.2 K/9. There's two guys in the Pads' bully that are twice as dominant as Meek.

What does it all mean?

It means that unless the voodoo spell they all jointly cast can last the whole season, this pitching staff is due for some SERIOUS regression to the mean. But the thing about getting off to a hot start is that even if you tread water for a little bit, you can coast off the good record you've built up.

And the NL West is very up for grabs. The Dodgers may not be able to add at the deadline due to the financial lockdown the team is in thanks to McCourt's divorce. The Giants have even less offense than the Padres and are GM'ed by Brian Sabean. The Rockies have been a slight disappointment this year, but they are capable of a run late in the year. And the D-Backs are already out of it.

The Padres are definitely above their heads, but perhaps they can pull it off and hang on down the stretch.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A personal post (good news)

Every blog by nature is a personal, semi-narcissistic place to describe your thoughts. Heck, I started this so I could catalog how right and (more accurately) how wrong I would be about Pirate-related things.

I have always wanted my stories about travel destinations and restaurants to be more of travelogues or that you get the feeling that you were at the dining table with me.

But this post is solely about me, or more accurately, us. On Saturday, I proposed to DB~ and she said "yes". And then she turned beet red. And then punched me on the shoulder. All of which I predicted beforehand.

This blog is pretty much me shouting into cyberspace, as there are only a few readers at best. But I still want to say to DB~ that you made me the happiest man on Saturday and I'm glad we will be together.

I don't think a name change is in order...DB~ is still the perfect designation. But it will mean even more next year when we get married.

I'll resume crunching Pirate stats and ranting about white elephant shopping centers next post.