MORNING PIRATES BUZZ
Winners of four straight, and 12 of their last 15 games, the Pittsburgh Pirates (32-27) enter Monday's off-day in first place in the NL Central, following a 7-6 Reds loss last night to the Detroit Tigers. What we saw this past weekend is that the Pirates are beating teams they should and winning at home, sweeping the Royals and improving to 19-11 at home this season.
NL Central Standings
1. Pirates (32-27)
2. Reds (32-27)
3. Cardinals (31-30)
4. Brewers (28-32)
5. Astros (26-34)
6. Cubs (20-40)
The Pirates 13-16 on the road, now embark on a six game road trip that begins Tuesday night against the Baltimore Orioles (34-26) who sit in fourth place in the tough AL East, followed by a three game set against the Cleveland Indians (32-27) who are inÃ‚Â second place in the AL Central. The Indians (-16) and Pirates (-17) are the only first or second place teams in baseball that have a negative run differential.
MCCUTCHEN JOINING MVP DISCUSSION
A bit of a longshot but if the Pirates continue to stay competitive, don't be surprised if Andrew McCutchen starts seeing his name pop up in the MVP discussion later this summer. In fact, he's already getting some recognition from National Writers. Leading a Pirates offense that ranks dead last in the NL in runs (191), and batting average (.224), McCutchen's hitting .325 on the season, has 11 home runs and 36 RBI's. He ranks in the top-10 in several key categories in the National League:
2012 NL Ranks:
Ã¢Â€Â¢ 8th in NL in BA (.325)
Ã¢Â€Â¢ 8th in NL in SLG (.563)
Ã¢Â€Â¢ 8th in NL in OPS (.951)
Ã¢Â€Â¢ 10th in NL in OBP (.388)
Ã¢Â€Â¢ 10th in NL in SB (11)
CY YOUNG TALK?
James McDonald (5-2, 2.39 ERA) emergence this season is getting noticed around baseball. Just last week, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports listed McDonald at No. 3 for his latest CY Young awards race, behind Gio Gonzalez (8-2, 2.35 ERA) and Stephen Strasburg (7-1, 2.41 ERA). While I think most voters would have McDonald currently out of the top-5 in what is becoming a crowded group, McDonald ranks 5th in NL in ERA (2.39) and 2nd in NL in WHIP (1.00).
If it wasn't for A.J. Burnett's (6-2, 3.61 ERA)Ã‚Â atrocious outing against St. Louis on May 2nd where he gave up 12 earned runs, Burnett would be in this discussion too, from the impact he's had on and off the field. Burnett's 6 wins rank 12th in the NL and his .750 winning percentage ranks 10th in NL. Burnett has a 1.000 winning percentage at home in six home starts and a 1.27 ERA at PNC Park.
PIRATES MAKE OFFER FOR CUBAN OUTFIELD PROSPECT JORGE SOLER
The Pirates are considered a big longshot to sign Cuban outfielder prospect Jorge Soler but the team has made an offer. The Pirates have contended that they had a set price for Soler and wouldn't go off it much. According to team sources, the Pirates set number going into their pursuit of Soler was believed to be somewhere in the $14 to $16 million range. The Pirates this past off-season also pursued Yoenis Cespedes but were never in the ballpark after Cespedes signed for $36 million over four years with the Oakland A's.
PIRATES REACH DEAL WITH SECOND ROUND PICK
The Pirates over the weekend, reached an agreement with catcher Wyatt Mathisen, the team's second round pick. The Pirates will make an official announcement this week and Mathisen has signed for the recommended slot value of $746,300. As a senior this year at Calallen High School in Corpus Christi, Texas, Mathisen hit .433 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI while being ranked by Baseball America as the 25th-best position player and 47th-best prospect overall in this year's draft.
As a junior at Calallen High School, Mathisen was named to the All-State Tournament team, a District 31-4A MVP, a Max Prep All-American, Perfect Game USA All-American, the South Texas Player-of-the-Year and was a member of the Texas Rangers Area Code team.