Giving Thanks (And Hope) This Thanksgiving

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By Jason Ruggiero

Two consecutive winning seasons. A Cy Young winner who is under club control for four more years. Being on the right side of the Yan Gomes trade. Jose Ramirez. These are just some of the (baseball-related) things that I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving.

It’s certainly a good idea to stop and count your blessings every once in a while and that goes for baseball or life in general but this year is a little different for an Indians fan. We always had things to be thankful for, even in the lean years . . .I mean we always have Major League right? But this year we have something special, something that doesn’t always come around . . . hope.

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Russell Martin Expectedly Signs Elsewhere

I told Andy that I would write about Russell Martin when he signed with the Blue Jays yesterday for 5 years and $82 million smackers. For the past two months or so (seriously) I had a draft started that changed titles three different times depending on my optimism:

  1. The Pirates Should Sign Russell Martin.
  2. Will The Pirates Sign Russell Martin?
  3. If The Pirates Don’t Sign Russell Martin, I’ll Die.

That last one was to see how many page views we could rack up from people wishing to see me have some sort of nervous breakdown.

Now that Martin’s tenure with the Pirates is over, I thought we could all look back at how the highest paid free agent in Pirates history helped them to consecutive winning seasons.

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Noise on the North Coast – Nov. 17 2014

By Jason Ruggiero

Noise on the North Coast

 

Snow is piling up along the North Coast which means it’s the off-season, time once again for me to philosophize with my (electronic) pen about where the Indians are, where they are going, and if necessary re-hash where we have been. Obviously this column has been absent for quite some time, but rather than waste any digital ink explaining my disappearance, let’s just get right down to baseball, which is why you are really here.

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Andy Burdick’s 2014 Fantasy Baseball Review: Part 2

By Andy Burdick

This is the follow up to Part 1 of my fantasy baseball season review.  You can check that out here.  It’s a nice mental exercise that forces me to look at my roster and the moves I made and to analyze the direction my roster is going in the future.

2014 Trades I Made

As a fantasy manager, I am fairly aggressive with trades relative to the rest of the managers in my league.  This is partially because I feel like I have a competitive roster in the present and I look to fill whatever statistical gaps my roster has in an attempt to win now. Continue reading

AJ Burnett’s Steel City Swan Song

By Andy Burdick

A.J. Burnett had a bit of a career renaissance in Pittsburgh and Pirates fans will be looking forward to see if he can continue that success next season.

The Pirates traded for Burnett prior to the 2012 season and from that point forward, he put together two of his best seasons for the club, with the Pirates paying just $13 million for his two years of work.

Year Age Tm ERA GS CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO HBP WP BF ERA+ FIP WHIP H9 HR9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2012 35 PIT 3.51 31 1 1 202.1 189 86 79 18 62 1 180 9 10 851 107 3.52 1.241 8.4 0.8 2.8 8.0 2.90
2013 36 PIT 3.30 30 1 0 191.0 165 79 70 11 67 3 209 9 12 801 108 2.80 1.215 7.8 0.5 3.2 9.8 3.12

After declining Pittsburgh’s qualifying offer last season and then being unable to reach a deal with the club, Burnett spurned Pittsburgh for the other side of the state and made a ‘no-brainer’ decision to sign a one year deal with the Phillies for $15 million, with a player option for 2015. Continue reading

Tri-State at the Plate Episode #60:

Corey Kluber had an exceptional season.  Everyone agrees.

Corey Kluber had an exceptional season. Everyone agrees.

On this week’s podcast, Andy and Jason analyze the SB Nation Off-Season Simulation and the craziness of letting average fans make moves on a franchise’s behalf. Andy then discusses a busy off-season for the Pittsburgh Pirates, starting with the proactive trade of reliever Justin Wilson for Yankees backstop Francisco Cervelli.  He then discusses Pedro Alvarez‘s transition to first base, the soon-to-be non-tendering of Ike Davis and Jon Heyman’s Tweeting of all things baseball related.  He finishes up by looking at the off-season awards that could have been for the Pirates as well as trades he would love to see happen in Pittsburgh.  Jason then leap frogs into the discussion on behalf of the Tribe, tackling Tribe Town favorites Michael Brantley and the most recent Cy Young winner, Corey Kluber.  He then discusses Yan Gomes‘s phenomenal season, the strength of the starting pitching, the short term upgrades for the Tribe, and finishes by waxing poetic about Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez.  The duo conclude this episodically long podcast by answering Dan in Buffalo’s Tweetmail about how much money the Tribe and Buccos should spend this winter.

Andy Burdick’s 2014 Fantasy Baseball Review: Part 1

By Andy Burdick

Every year I post an annual review for my long-time dynasty league as a mental exercise of where I finished, how I finished there, and the direction I would like to take my roster in the future.  I used to post this on my own personal blog, but now that I manage a baseball-related one, I thought this may prove helpful to other fantasy owners who are looking to analyze their fantasy teams as well.

I will break this review into two different posts.  Part 1 is going to take a look at the season that was.  I will analyze some of the ups and downs as well as disappointments and surprises.  Part 2 will analyze how I will use this year’s roster to help continue to build my dynasty going forward.

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Revisionist History: The 1997 Pittsburgh Pirates

I. Introduction

“It almost could have been a movie,” third baseman Joe Randa said. “It was kind of a misfit group that started believing in each other, guys coming together and gaining each other’s trust.”-Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Until recently, the Pittsburgh Pirates and their fans were suffering through the longest streak of losing seasons in all of North American professional sports. This may be a moot point now, because in 2013 all of that suffering ended, but for those of us that are die hard fans, we know that the suffering COULD HAVE ended in 1997. There would be less of an ominous specter hanging over the Pirates, and just a bunch of really bad teams in the 2000s. That year, the Pirates came the closest they would ever come to having a winning season during the streak.

That’s not to say the 1997 Pirates weren’t a really bad team. When Kevin McClatchy’s ownership group took over, they slashed the payroll from $21 million in 1996 to $9 million in 1997. They were expected to lose over 100 games. This team, which was unceremoniously dubbed, “The Freak Show”, competed with the Houston Astros for the division until the last week of the season. These Pirates ended up finishing 79-83. Highlight of this season, not including the exciting race for the division, Francisco Cordova and Rincardo Rincon combining for a 10 inning no-hitter. The immortal Mark Smith hit a walk-of 3-run homer in the bottom of the 10th for the Pirates to win it.

For Pirates fans in my age group, that would be the 24-35 age group, successful and exciting Pirates teams was something we were born into, but have only recently seen succeed. For 10 years, 1986-1996, aka the “Leyland Years”, the Pirates had developed a lot of stars, including Barry Bonds, Tim Wakefield, Jay Bell, Bobby Bonilla, Andy Van Slyke, and Jermaine Allensworth (just kidding on that last one). Wouldn’t you know it, Leyland left the team (because of the fiscal fascism of McClatchy and Co.) at the end of 1996 and in 1997 won his only World Series with the upstart Florida Marlins. You’ll see some former Pirates on that winning team too.

After the Leyland Years, the Pirates had many managers, none of them very good. However, some of them were very entertaining. I am a Clint Hurdle proponent, he makes what some superstars on Pirates Twitter consider to be either questionable or apocalyptic decisions at certain points, but research either can’t pin down the effect a manager has, or it postulates that managers don’t have that much of an effect. None of them have ever held a job as a Major League manager, so what do they know? For the record, the manager of the 1997 Pirates was Gene Lamont.

Today, we’re going to see if the 1997 Pirates could have actually ended up having a winning season using the greatest baseball simulator ever devised: Out of the Park Baseball.

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Tri-State at the Plate Episode #59: Pittsburgh Pirates Playoff Podcast and Champagne Celebrations

The most alliterative title in podcast history is in honor of the Pittsburgh Pirates going to the playoffs for the second consecutive season!

Super Producer turned Super Dad Jason Ruggiero returns to the podcast this week in between diapers to talk baseball with Andy Burdick! The duo open the pod by discussing Frank Wren and the Atlanta Braves situation.  They then transition to playoff baseball in Pittsburgh by looking at the last five games of the season and the Pirates playoff projections.  Andy talks about Gerrit Cole‘s ace status, champagne celebrations in the clubhouse and the difficulty of pronouncing ‘Incmikoski’, and an in-depth discussion of the team MVP.  Jason then gets his feet wet discussing the pluses and minuses of the Indians offense, Carlos Santana‘s on base percentage, Corey Kluber‘s amazing season, and the future of Cleveland’s middle infield.  The duo wrap up the show with a Tweetmail, rehashing an old topic from an old friend.

Tri-State at the Plate Episode #58: Cross Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

This week, Chris Bradley joins Andy Burdick and the duo discuss truly weird baseball after Jesus Montero‘s season ends over ice cream and Seattle Mariners cross-checker.  Andy then discusses the recent happenings with the Tribe, ranging from long-term Lonnie Chisenhall projections to Cleveland’s playoff chances.  Chris then discusses the Pirates playoff hopes, Pittsburgh’s need to open their wallet this off season, and the future of Pedro Alvarez and Josh Harrison in the infield.  The gentlemen then wrap up with a big SeaWolves shout out to former Erie SeaWolf (current Detroit Tiger) Steven Moya, as well as general manager Greg Coleman finishing the season strong with the Two Knuckle Challenge.  You won’t want to miss this one, folks.