Pirates to pay for giving up on Gorzy

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Seven pitchers have started games for the Pirates this season, with ERAs ranging from 3.45 to 6.09.  Tomorrow, that number will expand to eight, with the newly acquired Kevin Hart making his debut for the Diamondbacks.  Going the other way in that trade with the Cubs was Tom Gorzelanny, who, quite bizarrely, wasn’t included in the group of starters.

 

Despite some lingering questions about the health of his arm, Gorzelanny was considered one of the Pirates’ building blocks two years ago, when he went 14-10 with a 3.88 ERA as a 24-year-old.  A complete and total collapse followed in 2008, as he finished 6-9 with a 6.66 ERA.  He allowed more walks (70) and homers (20) in 105 1/3 innings than he did in 201 2/3 innings the year before.  He didn’t miss time due to injury until mid-September, when he injured a finger ligament.  He did complain of shoulder tightness in April, but he pitched through it.

 

When spring 2009 arrived, the assumption was that Gorzelanny would have every opportunity to win back his rotation spot.  However, after some early struggles, he was sent down with still more than two weeks to go.  When he was recalled in mid-May, it was to pitch out of the pen, a role he had never filled as a pro.  The Pirates didn’t even give him a couple of appearances in Triple-A for him to get used to it.  He spent three weeks on the roster, giving up five runs in 8 2/3 innings, and then returned to starting in Triple-A.  From that point on, he went on an incredible roll, posting a 1.17 ERA in eight starts for Indianapolis.  Still, the Pirates opted to trade him without ever taking another look at him.  It wasn’t a money issue, as he’s making barely more than the minimum.  He’s not going to be eligible for free agency until after 2013.

 

The Cubs wasted no time in putting Gorzelanny into the rotation after acquiring him, and he allowed one run and three hits over 7 1/3 innings in his debut Tuesday.  He struck out six and walked just one.  The now 27-year-old lefty looked nothing like the pitcher he did last year.  He was throwing 89-92 mph consistently and showing an improved slider.  As should have been obvious to anyone, he still has the stuff to win in the big leagues.

 

Of course, there’s no guarantee it will last.  Gorzelanny has had elbow issues in the past, and we know from last year that he can lose his command and become completely useless in the blink of an eye.  He’s also not exactly a slave to conditioning.  But the Pirates treated him as little more than a throw-in in a deal that brought them two expendable pitchers from the Cubs.  This wasn’t Ian Snell, who failed in back-to-back years and no longer wanted to pitch for Pirates.  This was a guy who had one bad year.  It’s mindblowing that the Pirates never gave him a second chance.  If Tuesday’s performance was any indication, they’ll be regretting it soon enough.

It’s the tenth anniversary of the biggest rout in baseball history

Associated Press
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Ten years ago today the Rangers and the Orioles squared off at Camden Yards. The Orioles built a 3-0 lead after three innings and then all hell broke loose.

The Rangers scored thirty (30!) unanswered runs via a five-spot in the fourth, a nine-spot in the sixth, a ten-spot in the eighth and a six-spot in the ninth. That was . . . a lot of spots.

Two Rangers players — Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ramon Vazquez — hit two homers and drove in seven runs a piece. The best part: they were the eighth and ninth hitters in the lineup. There was plenty of offense to go around, however as David Murphy went 5-for-7 and scored five times. Travis Metcalf hit a pinch-hit grand slam. Marlon Byrd drove in four. It was a bloodbath, with Texas rattling out 29 hits and walking eight times.

On the Orioles side of things, Daniel Cabrera took the loss, giving up six runs on nine hits in five innings. That’s not a terribly unusual line for a bad day at the office for a pitcher — someone will probably get beat up like that in the next week or so — but the Orioles’ relievers really added to the party. Brian Burres was the first victim, allowing eight runs on eight hits in only two-thirds of an inning. Rob Bell gave up seven in an inning and a third. Paul Shuey wore the rest of it, allowing nine runs on seven hits over the final two.

The best part of the insanely busy box score, however, was not from any of the Orioles pitchers or any of the Rangers hitters. Nope, it was from a Rangers relief pitcher named Wes Littleton. You probably don’t remember him, as he only pitched in 80 games and never appeared in the big leagues after 2008. But on this day — the day of the biggest blowout in baseball history — Wes Littleton notched a save. From Baseball-Reference.com:

Three innings and 43 pitches is a lot of work for a reliever and, per the rules, it’s a save, regardless of the margin when he entered the game. Still, this was not exactly a game that was ever in jeopardy.

When it went down, way back on August 22, 2007, it inspired me to write a post at my old, defunct independent baseball blog, Shysterball, arguing about how to change the save rule. Read it if you want, but know that (1) no one has ever paid attention to such proposals in baseball, even if such proposals are frequently offered; and (2) the hypothetical examples I use to illustrate the point involve an effective Joba Chamberlain and Joe Torre’s said use of him, which tells you just how long ago this really was.

Oh, one final bit: this massacre — the kind of game that the Orioles likely wanted to leave, go back home and go to sleep afterward — was only the first game of a doubleheader. Yep, they had to strap it on and play again, with the game starting at 9PM Eastern time. Baltimore lost that one too, 9-7, concluding what must have been one of the longest days any of the players involved had ever had at the office, both figuratively and literally.

Hall of Fame baseball announcer Rafael ‘Felo’ Ramirez dies

Associated Press
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MIAMI (AP) Rafael “Felo” Ramirez, a Hall of Fame baseball radio broadcaster who was the signature voice for millions of Spanish-speaking sports fans over three decades, has died. He was 94.

The Miami Marlins announced Ramirez’ death Tuesday.

Ramirez, who died Monday night, began his broadcasting career in Cuba in 1945 before calling 31 All-Star games and World Series in Spanish. He was the Marlins Spanish-language announcer since their inaugural season in 1993 and was inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in 2001.

He was known for an expressive, yet low-key style and his signature strike call of “Essstrike.”

Several Spanish-language broadcasters, including Amury Pi-Gonzanez of the Seattle Mariners and San Francisco Giants, have admitted to emulating his style.