With the major league baseball draft looming, a lot of fuss is going to be made about highly touted prospect Bryce Harper. The Pirates who have the No. 2 selection know very well of the public outcry that is coming their way if they pass on Harper (assuming he’s available) but the Pirates fully intend to go in another direction, according to multiple team sources.
Whether it’s solely a money decision remains to be seen but management doesn’t view Harper as Stephen Strasberg is or even a Dustin Ackley, Pedro Alvarez or Buster Posey type of prospect. Pirates general manager Neal Huntington stated that exact fact this week when Harper’s name was brought up.
Therefore, the Pirates won’t draft Harper and pay him top dollar.
The Pirates have spent close to $18 million over the past two years on the draft. Last year they went for slotted value in the first round and spent money elsewhere to add quantity throughout the draft.
Although team sources contend that if Dustin Ackley was on the board at the No. 4 selection, they would have selected him, the Pirates won’t erase the doubts around the league that selecting a top tier prospect like Pedro Alvarez is the norm until they continuously do it.
As much negativity the Pirates get, they have shown a lot of character in winning three straight after a disaster seven game losing streak that has put manager John Russell on the hot seat. The Pirates defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 2-0 Thursday night to earn their third straight win and improve to 10-12 on the season.
Starting pitcher Brian Burres threw 47 balls, 46 strikes in 5 1/3 shutout innings becoming the first pitcher this year to get a win despite throwing more balls than strikes.
It’s been a week on the rebound for the Pirates and a number of players including Ryan Doumit. Doumit who made a major gaffe in Monday’s 17-3 loss, has responded with 6 hits, 2 home runs and 7 RBI’s in his last three games, bumping his batting average up to .300.
After a horrendous start, Doumit has hit safely in nine straight games.
Starting third baseman Andy LaRoche is starting to hit like scouts thought he would four or five years ago when he was regarded as a top prospect in the Dodgers system. LaRoche is batting .358 on the season and has 16 singles for the season. The Pirates finally believe he is starting to turn the corner as a hitter.
Although top prospect Pedro Alvarez is still showing inconsistencies at the plate (4 hr – 12 rbi – .222 avg) and has done little to warrant a callup anytime soon, the Pirates have to begin the process of developing LaRoche into a second baseman sooner rather than later.
The decision to let closer Matt Capps walk for nothing has been a complete blunder by general manager Neal Huntington. Huntington doesn’t believe in over-paying relievers but a decision to give Octavio Dotel $3 million per season and not pay a 26 year old closer in Matt Capps $3.5 million has been mind boggling to league executives.
Capps leads the majors with 10 saves, including 15 strikeouts and an ERA of 0.68. Dotel is closing for the first time in 2 ½ years and has fared just as many expected; Not very good. Dotel has an ERA of 10.61 and has been scored on in six straight appearances. The opposition is batting .357 and Dotel has also given up three home runs.
Manager John Russell made a bold move in letting Evan Meek close to secure the win in Los Angeles Thursday night. Some believe that it’s time for the Pirates to give Meek an opportunity to be the teams future closer. However, Russell says Dotel will remain the closer and was just given a day off.
“Dotel’s thrown a lot, and he threw two innings yesterday, so you just can’t keep running him out there day after day,” Russell said. “You’ve got to make sure that you protect him. Evan was the freshest guy we had in that situation, and he’s been throwing the ball well. So it wasn’t a hard decision.”