Latest Pirates Buzz

Insider Only Morning Pirates Buzz: Derek Lee; Winning attitude/Young Core; Walker/McCutchen #’s vs Cubs in 2011

Latest Pirates Buzz & Tidbits
— Just like the Pirates, the Milwaukee Brewers (48-42) won in thrilling fashion Friday night, rallying to defeat the Cincinnati Reds 8-7 to move into first place in the National League Central.
The Pirates enter Saturday’s action in second place in the NL Central:
1. Milwaukee Brewers (48-42)
2. Pittsburgh Pirates (46-42)
3. St. Louis Cardinals (47-43)
4. Cincinnati Reds (44-46)
5. Chicago Cubs (36-54)
6. Houston Astros (30-60)
— What has been most impressive about the Pirates winning ways of late is that their getting clutch contributions from the bottom of their lineup. One night it’s Brandon Wood stepping up wth a three-RBI night and Friday night it’s Josh Harrison with a three hit night and Michael McKenry delivering a three-run homer in dramatic fashion.
— Regardless of how this season ends for the Pirates, what’s becoming evident is the commaradity in the clubhouse and a winning attidude being established by the Pirates young core. That’s going to be big for the organization moving forward as this has been an organization that was previously plagued with cancers in the locker room among their core players in the past like Brian Giles and Jason Kendall, for example.
Lyle Overbay went 2-for-4 at the plate Friday night with 1 run scored, extending his hitting streak to 5 games. During that span, Overbay is hitting .500 (10-for-20) with 4 RBI’s and 4 runs scored.
Is Overbay starting to turn the corner? Possibly but he continues to show no power and has just 2 extra base hits in his last 37 at-bats. He’s a singles hitter.
Overbay has 1 home run in his last 37 games and regardless of how good of a teammate Overbay is, the Pirates owe it to themselves to explore options for a first baseman that can add some pop.
The Pirates most notably, owe it to themselves to look into Carlos Pena due to his 30 home run ability and being regarded as a good teammate.
However, a player in the league being more connected to the Pirates of late is Baltimore Orioles first baseman Derek Lee (.233 – 8 HR – 33 RBI) who will cost less to acquire.
Lee is a player the Pirates discussed internally last off-season but whether they actively pursue him will depend on whether they believe he’s an actual upgrade over Overybay in the power department.
The statistics don’t show much of a difference as Lee has 8 home runs in 270 at-bats, compared to Overbay who has 6 home runs in 294 at-bats. Lee has been a free agent bust in Baltimore but should the Pirates be willing to take a chance?
Lee battled some injuries early in the season and word around the league from scouts is that when healthy there is some feeling that the power is still there for the 35 year old first baseman who hit 35 home runs in 2009.

Since June 24th, Lee has 4 home runs and 8 RBI’s. He’s a player I’d look for Pirate scouts to monitor over the next couple weeks based on the Pirates having interest in Lee during the off-season.
Neil Walker (.258 – 8 HR – 57 RBI) drove in two runs in Friday’s win and has 57 RBI’s on the season, which ranks 8th in the National League. That’s an impressive number for a second baseman.
“He has a hunt {for RBI’s}, ” manager Clint Hurdle said.
Walker has not homered since June 5th and only has 1 extra base hit in his last 10 games, but he’s just one of those players who always finds a way to get it done.
Walker goes into tonight’s game with a 6 game hitting streak, batting .400 during than span.
Andrew McCutchen (.381 – 3 HR – 6 RBI) and Neil Walker (.300 1 HR – 8 RBI vs Cubs) have combined for 4 home runs and 14 RBI’s against the Cubs this season.
–Despite the success of the Pirates pitching staff, there is still a feeling around the team that one or two starters are going to tail off at somepoint in the immediate future.
If that ends up being the case, the hope inside the organization is that Brad Lincoln becomes a serious option to be an impact pitcher in August or September.
Lincoln had a strong outing Friday night for AAA Indianapolis, allowing 3 hits and 1 run in seven innings pitched, while striking out a season high 8 batters.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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