Weekly Pirates Report *Analysis, Rumblings & Musings* By John Perrotto A few years ago, Bill Mazeroski was ready to walk away from his job as a special spring training instructor with the Pirates. The Hall of Famer felt the players weren’t interested in what he had to offer, which is the advice of a man who is in the Hall of Fame, is the only person to hit a walk-off home run in Game 7 of a World Series and won eight Gold Gloves during his 17-year career with the Pirates. That all changed, though, during spring training in 2010 when the Pirates decided to convert then-third baseman Neil Walker into a super utility man. Walker spent plenty of time with Mazeroski that spring working on the finer points of second base and appreciated the chance to work with a legend. Unlike many of the other the Pirates, Walker understoodRead More »
Morning Pirates Buzz — The Pirates getting strong pitching performances from their No. 4 and No. 5 pitchers in James McDonald and Jeff Karstens on back-to-back nights has been big for them after Charlie Morton snapped the Pirates 6 game losing streak Wednesday night against Cincinnati. One thing the Pirates have been this season under manager Clint Hurdle is resilient as things were looking bleak for them going into Cincinnati Wednesday night. The team has now won three straight for the second time this season and are just two games under .500. — Neil Walker is emerging as a possible star of the Pirates young core and the leader of the team. He has that aura about him that clutch players have. Walker had five 2-out RBI’s in Friday’s 10-1 win over the Tigers. Walker may not have the “ceiling” of a McCutchen and Alvarez but he’s the best betRead More »
Pittsburgh 10 – Detroit 1 W: Jeff Karstens (3-2) L: Brad Penny (4-4) Post-Game Wrapup: Neil Walker homered and drove in a career high 5 RBI’s, leading the Pittsburgh Pirates (21-23) to a 10-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers (22-22) on Friday night at PNC Park. The Pirates pulled within two games of .500 with the victory, improving to 7-6 all-time against the Tigers in Pittsburgh. The Pirates broken open the game with a 6-run sixth inning behind 2-run RBI’s from both Neil Walker and Garrett Jones. Jones was 2-for-4 in the game with 2 runs scored, a double and 2 RBI’s. In his last four games against Detroit, Jones is 8-for-14 with 2 home runs and 6 RBI’s. Walker later added a 3-run homer in the 8th inning, his 6th home of the season and has 29 RBI’s on the season, which ranks him in the top-10 in theRead More »
The Pittsburgh Pirates today officially named Neil Walker their starting second baseman. Manager John Russell announced prior to Monday’s game that Walker will now become the everyday second baseman. Walker will replace Aki Iwamura in the starting lineup for the foreseeable future. Iwamura has been horrendous at the plate, batting .173 on the season and has also struggled in the field. According to Russell, Iwamura, the teams highest paid player ($4.85 million) will now become a bench player and will see time off the bench at second and third base. The Pirates traded young reliever Jesse Chavez to Tampa Bay in exchange for Iwamura during the offseason. Iwamura was coming off a season in which he appeared in less than 70 games due to knee surgery. As an organization, the Pirates deserve praise for deciding to move forward with Walker as their second baseman. There were serious doubts that theRead More »
Pirates news and notes With the Octavio Dotel signing looming, Pittsburgh is believed to be exploring at least three trade scenarios. One avenue the Pirates are exploring is dealing former first round pick Neil Walker to the Cincinnati Reds. Reds general manager Walt Jocketty showed significant interest in Walker during the 2004 draft and many believed if Pittsburgh passed on Walker he wouldn’t get past St. Louis, where Jocketty was the Cards GM from 1994-2007. The two sides have exchanged names but Pittsburgh is looking for a 3-for-1 swap and a high return to move Walker in the division. Walker, 24, hit .264 with 14 home runs and 69 RBI’s for AAA Indianapolis last season. In 8 games with the Pirates in 2009, Walker hit .167 with 1 home run and 1 RBI in 32 plate appearances. The Pirates 40 man roster is now at 40. Delwyn Young is beingRead More »
While top prospects Pedro Alvarez, Jose Tabata and Brad Lincoln will not be among the Pirates September callups, Pine Richland native (3B) Neil Walker will be. Walker, 23, will make his major league debut in September as he is penciled in for a callup following Labor Day. Walker is hitting .266 with 14 home runs and 69 RBI’s in 94 games played for Class AAA Indianapolis. The former first round pick has seen his stock plummet over the past couple years, hitting under .300 in Class AA and Class AAA. Walker will turn 24 on September 10th. For now, third baseman Andy Laroche is entrenched as the Pirates starting third base.
One of the more interesting storylines for the Pirates going into the 2010 season will be whether top hitting prospect Jose Tabata claims a roster spot coming out of spring training. Tabata, 20, was promoted up to Class AAA Indianapolis last week after batting .303 in 61 games for the Altoona Curve (AA) and is on the verge of being MLB ready. Tabata has been on a tear since early July and has continued his strong play in AAA, batting .385 in three games with Indianapolis. With the minor league season ending in early September, it has been speculated that Tabata would be a potential September call-up. Indications are that won’t be the case and infact, Tabata will not have a strong chance of making the club out of spring training. It is expected that Tabata will spend the first couple months of the 2010 season in the minors, soRead More »
The Pittsburgh Pirates have optioned third baseman Neil Walker to AAA Indianapolis. Walker, 23, made improvements in camp, showing much more patience at the plate with seven walks but he still needs improvement on the offensive side of his game after batting.231 in spring training. Defensively he is major league ready. The Pirates would have liked to keep Walker with the team for about another week but his major league service clock would have started if he remained on the roster.