As if being a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates wasn’t tough enough, there was this gemfieldwithballmoon_copy_2zyh to deal with from Bucs’ GM Neal Huntington after the latest rounds of trades stripped the franchise of most of its remaining Major League talent.  “We don’t feel like we’ve broken up the ’27 Yankees.”  Maybe not, but they’re certainly on there way to assembling the ’62 Mets.  While it is the bane of the small market team that it must eventually dump promising players that become too expensive, most still manage to be cyclically competitive.  Not the Pirates, though. They resemble the guy in your Fantasy Baseball League that buys his preview magazines on his way to the draft. During Pittsburgh’s current streak of 17 consecutive losing seasons, the Twins, A’s, Marlins, Brewers, Reds, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays and Rays have all managed at least one playoff appearance.  What have they done differently than the Pirates?  They’ve actually developed the prospects they’ve received in exchange for their stars.  But, in Pittsburgh, there exists a revolving door through which even young and relatively inexpensive talent is dispatched.  It is not uncommon for a struggling franchise to request the patience of its fans as it rebuilds.  Hell, watching young, exciting players earn their stripes is a lot of fun.  The Pirates, however, have stripped their fans of even that bit of enjoyment by trading away the very players they said they were building upon just last winter.  As for Huntington’s crack about the ’27 Yankees, he has a point.  However, while he may not have had this era’s equivalent of Murderer’s Row, a lineup featuring Nate McLouth, Jason Bay, Freddy Sanchez, Adam LaRoche, Ryan Doumit, Aramis Ramirez and Nyjer Morgan would absolutely be a contender in the NL Central… The White Sox acquisition of Jake Peavy smells of desperation, especially since the former Cy Young winner won’t be available for another month… Alex Gordon is back in the Royals lineup but is admittedly not at full strength, as evidenced by his sub-Mendoza BA… Ben Zobrist is now the Rays’ cleanup hitter…  With the departure of Nick Johnson to the Marlins, Washington recalled OF Elijah Dukes, who will likely see regular playing time… NL Rookie of the Month, Greg Jones of Pittsburgh, had 10 HR and just 17 RBI… Love Felipe Lopez, playing for a contract, at the top of the Brewers’ lineup… Cleveland will use the newly acquired Justin Masterson as a starter… Brandon Inge has yet to hit a dinger since the All Star break.  As predicted here, he’s tailing off but still a prime player if you can use him as a catcher… Andre Ethier, the Dodgers’ leading RBI man is now their #2 hitter…

 

BUY LOW- John Danks has raised his record to 9-7 in giving the White Sox 3 solid starts since the break… Love Orlando Cabrera’s potential for R, BA and even a few HR hitting in front of Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau in Minny… The Tigers skipped rookie Rick Porcello’s turn once before the break and then slotted him into the back end of the rotation afterward, essentially giving him more than two weeks off.  The rest has done him wonders, as he’s been dominant in his last two outings… Jarrod Washburn should see his W total get a nice bump now that he’s in Detroit… D’Backs OF Gerardo Parra leads all NL rookies in RBI… Adam LaRoche spent a week in Boston before returning to Atlanta, where he can resume his annual assault on the season’s second half…

 

SELL HIGH- Were it not for his HR prowess, Tampa’s Carlos Pena would be listed in the Drop Zone instead.  As it is, unless you’re desperate for power, dump his .216 BA… All Star closer, Andrew Bailey, leads AL rookies with 14 S but may not see a lot of opportunities the rest of the way if the A’s rotation continues to struggle.  Their ERA for July was 6.34…

 

GRAB BAG- With manager Dave Trembley souring on Melvin Mora, Ty Wigginton will likely get regular playing time at 3B… The Royals recalled Kyle Davies, who struggled early in the season but went 4-2, 2.14 in AAA Omaha… Sean O’Sullivan, fresh off a AAA no-hitter, may be an option to supplant Joe Saunders in the Angels’ rotation. He’s 3-0, 3.72 for Los Angeles this year…  Rangers’ rookie Neftali Feliz, he of the 100 MPH fastball, will be used out of the pen and could get a look in the ninth inning if Frank Francisco continues to deal with health issues… Jason Frasor is Toronto’s first choice as closer with Scott Downs on the DL… Love Nick Johnson in the middle of the Marlins’ order.  He’s a great OBP option…

 

DROP ZONE- Milwaukee’s Braden Looper has become a BP pitcher since the break, going winless while watching his ERA balloon to 5.16… Pull the plug on Detroit’s Armando Gallaraga before Jim Leyland does and chalk up last season’s numbers as a fluke… Minnesota’s Glen Perkins gave the Twinkies one solid start after coming off the DL and then reverted back to his struggling form in his next outing.  Can’t wait on a guy with a 5.42 ERA that’s on the rise… Melvin Mora has lost his starting job in Baltimore and has started whining about a lack of respect from the manager…

 

SICK BAY- Kansas City’s Gil Meche may return from a back problem this weekend.  Remember, though, back is a four letter word… Blue Jays’ stopper Scott Downs is on the 15 day DL with a foot injury… Carlos Zambrano left his last start with a bad back, something that will likely continue until he addresses his large front… Astros’ OF Willy Taveras missed four starts with a bad wrist…  Milwaukee place OF Corey Hart on the DL after an appendectomy…

Keep an eye on Royals’ hurler Gil Meche over his last few starts.    Sunday, in his first outing since throwing a career high 132 pitches in going the distance vs. Arizona , Meche was lit up by the Cardinals to the tune of 9 ER in just 3 IP… Look for the Cubs’ slumping young hitters to get a little boost with the addition of hitting coach Von Joshua.    After firing Gerald Perry, Chicago reached into its farm system to promote Joshua, who established strong relationships with the likes of Geovany Soto and Ryan Theriot as they rose though the Cubs’ system… Yovani Gallardo, despite another stellar performance on Sunday vs. the Tigers, lost his fourth of the season.    With any kind of offensive support, (he gained a 1-0 win against the Pirates in which his HR was the only run), Gallardo might be 10-1… Have to wonder how long the Padres can remain competitive without starters Jake Peavy and Chris Young, both on the DL… Looks like Seattle ace Felix Hernandez has finally decided to live up to his “King Felix” moniker…Cito Gaston is the latest AL’er to whine about losing a pitcher during Interleague play after losing closer Scott Downs to injury after Downs was hobbled running the bases in Philly.   Gaston, in much the same rant as Hank Steinbrenner after the Yankees lost Chien Ming Wang last year, bemoaned the fact that AL pitchers are not used to running the bases.   A professional athlete not used to putting one foot in front of the other?! C’mon, Cito…

Buy Low- Gotta love the warmer weather and the affect it has on players dealing with wrist and hand issues.    In Chicago, Derrek Lee has been on fire; adding a power stroke to supplement his rising BA… In Boston , David Ortiz has started to calm the fears of Boston fans thinking he might be through.    Not only has he popped 5 HR over the last two weeks, his Sunday blast was over the Green Monster, something he wasn’t able to do early in the season as he dealt with the lingering effects of a hand injury…Casey Blake is the latest Dodger to step up and fill the void left by steroid cheat Manny Ramirez… In St. Louis , Adam Wainwright has been pitching like the ace of the staff for the last month.    At an unspectacular 7-4, he might be able to be had… Moonlight followers jumped on Cliff Lee a few weeks ago while his poor won-loss record was camouflaging a stellar season.    This may be your last chance to acquire the Cleveland ace… Kevin Millwood, the leader of a Texas rotation that has the Rangers in contention, struck out 10 on Sunday in lowering his ERA to 2.62…

Sell High- Time to cut your losses and sit Jay Bruce for a little while as the Reds’ OF has seen his BA drop as low as .215… Vernon Wells, mired in a season long slump that may or may not have to do with his health, may be losing the confidence of his manager.

Grab Bag- The Pirates seem to have lost all patience with Brandon Moss as indicated by the increased playing time of Delwyn Young; a nice grab in an NL only league… Can’t find a reliable starter in you AL only league?    Why not turn to O’ middle man, Brian Bass, instead?    He’s 3-0 1.117 over his last 23 IP an could eventually find himself in the Birds’ rotation…

Drop Zone- Arizona ’s Doug Davis has not only been cuffed around in his last few starts but has a very uneasy relationship with new D’Backs’ manager A.J. Hinch.     Davis may be the odd man out when Brandon Webb returns to the rotation… Don’t know if the Giants can afford to remove Jonathan Sanchez (2-7 5.43) from the rotation but you can’t afford not to…

Sick Bay- Edinson Volquez is about ten days from returning to the Reds’ rotation as he continues to rehab his elbow… Brad Lidge will be back in the Phillies’ bullpen sometime this week… Jake Peavy could be out as long as three months with an ankle injury… Carlos Quentin will likely not return to the Chi Sox until the All Star break and, even then, will still be at risk of a recurrence of the plantar fascitis that has plagued him… Tigers’ OF Carlos Guillen may be facing shoulder surgery…

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