The Pittsburgh Pirates have invested heavily in pitching the past decade, including the use of their last six first round draft choices. Since 2000, they have used 14 of their top 20 selections on pitchers. They haven’t selected a position player in the first two rounds since they used the 59th pick in the 1999 draft on Ryan Doumit, a catcher from the storied Moses Lake, Wa. team that also featured B.J. Garbe and Jason Cooper. The Pirates have twice had the number one choice in the draft in the past decade, and twice they have found a college pitcher to use it on. They haven’t discriminated either, drafting high school pitchers (Bobby Bradley and Sean Burnett) along with more polished college arms (Bryan Bullington and Paul Maholm and John Van BenSchoten) and immediately put them on the mound. Though they’re lacking in hitting prospects, the Pirates’ emphasis on acquiring hurlers has paid off in a sense, in that they have a collection of almost-ready major league arms knocking on the door of PNC Park. Lost in the shuffle of the first round bonus babies, however, is a little-regarded right-hander who was known as Ian Snell when the Pirates selected him in the 26th round of the 2000 draft. Now known as Ian Oquendo, since adopting his wife’s name, he has managed to find nothing but success as a professional.
I love day baseball. To me, there are few things better than sitting in the sunshine and watching a ballgame. Better still if it’s a weekday, because it adds that sense that you’re getting away with something, even when you don’t work a 9-to-5 job. Well, a.m. to p.m., anyway. So when I was offered tickets to Thursday’s Dodgers/Expos tilt at Chavez Ravine, I was all over it. Truth be told, I don’t get to as many ballgames as you might think, thanks in large part to the availability of so many games on television. It’s lazy, I guess, but seeing 25-30 teams in one night has a lot of appeal, especially when so many games right now have playoff implications. Like this one. Both teams started the day four games out of the Wild Card slot, having split the first two games of their series. Neither team has been able to get much traction in the Wild Card chase, in part because neither scores all that often. Both are heavily reliant on good starting pitching. The final was 2-1, Dodgers, but to say that the Dodgers won would be overstating things. It was more like they happened to be standing there when the Expos had a ballgame to give away.
The A’s pushed Mark Mulder onto the DL while he rehabs a strained hip. As with Randy Johnson’s knee, this is Mulder’s right (plant) leg, which understandably takes a lot of impact and torque in the pitching motion, even with great mechanics like Mulder. Mulder will miss at least two starts while on the list, but since he will be able to keep his arm loose, he shouldn’t need much work before jumping back into the rotation. Expect the A’s to be aggressive but smart with his rehab.
Trevor Hoffman is headed to the Cal League, which should be interesting to see. If he starts a game–as is often the practice for relievers in the minors–will the Storm play “Hell’s Bells” at the beginning of the game? How menacing will Hoffman look with the eyeball lid? How will Hoffman look pitching against Casey Kotchman on Saturday? These are all questions that we should know by next time we meet. The plan on Hoffman is two “starts” at Lake Elsinore, a couple more at Double-A Mobile, and then back to San Diego sometime after rosters expand on September 2.
Giants starter Jesse Foppert left last night’s game with numbness in his fingers due to a nerve problem in his elbow. You’re right, that sounds bad. Reader Loren Jones did the research and thinks it’s cubital tunnel syndrome, which is correctible, but not unheard of in pitchers. Foppert will have tests and we’ll know more by the weekend.
Casey Blake isn’t quite as good as the Indian front office thinks he is; Paul Lo Duca has hit the wall; and the Mariners and the A’s share similar schedules down the stretch. All this and much more news from Cleveland, Los Angeles, and Seattle in your Friday edition of Prospectus Triple Play.