We are bringing our conversation with the enemy series back for the start of the 2013 season. This time we sat down virtually to discuss Baseball with Rumbunter.com editor and Bucco expert Tom Smith. We discussed the upcoming Pirates/Dodgers series this weekend, the return of former Dodger catcher Russell Martin to Dodger Stadium, and how Tom thinks the Pirates will fare this season. I want to remind everyone that the Pirates got off to a slow start last year, and then played very well during the summer months, before folding up like a tin can in August and September. Of course us Dodger fans can relate to that, as the Dodgers also folded in August and September of last season.
Anyways, Our questions and answers are below.
RB:So what does it feel like to have Greinke as your FOURTH starter and how did that come about?
Stacie: Zack Greinke has had some elbow soreness this Spring, and the Dodgers had to shut him down for a few weeks in March. He only has made two outings since, so he may not go deep into the game Friday. We expect the Dodgers to reshuffle the rotation eventually. Greinke says his elbow feels better, but it’s still a cause for concern.
Scott: it feels great, as long as he is healthy. As you know, the Dodgers signed Birdman Zack Greinke to a record six year 147 million dollar deal during this past winter, to slot in as the Dodger’s second ace, behind the complete and utter domination of Clayton Kershaw. The Mark Fidrych look-alike and former Cy Young award winner was the top free agent pitcher on the market. It made us happy to see another team’s and their fans jealous and bitter over our free spending ways. Birdman did have some problems with his elbow during the spring, but was able to heal and reported no pain over his last few starts. We hope he was able to build up enough arm strength to pitch a nice quick clean shutout of your Buccos on Friday night. However as Stacie stated, he may have a short leash since this is his first start, and the Dodgers want to be extra careful not to overwork him too much.
RB:Does having such a roster of superior talent place a target on the backs of the boys in blue?
Stacie: Absolutely. There are high expectations for this lineup. Thus far we have had some disappointing results in the first series versus San Francisco, but we are hoping that the Dodgers can break out against the Pirates whom they historically dominate at Dodger Stadium over the years.
Scott: Indeed it does Tom. Of course, the games are played on paper, and anyone can beat anyone on any given day. Still watching other teams be jealous of our success and talented roster, and hordes of Dodger Blue Cash monies, does fills us with some Joy and contentment.
RB:Who do you have winning the series this weekend?
Stacie: Of course I’m going to go with the Dodgers since they have gone 32-10 against the Bucs at Dodger Stadium.
Scott: Well, I’ll take the Dodgers to win two of three. With Birdman Greinke going on Friday night, and the complete and utter domination of Clayton Kershaw on Saturday, it seems unlikely the Bucs will be able to score if at all in the first two games of the series. However A.J.Burnett will be tough to face for the Dodger’s struggling offense. I’ll still take the Dodgers to win two of three.
RB:What are one or two things Buccos fans should watch for in the series? Last year, Matt Kemp went on a tirade and a youngster had to have their ears covered by their parents….do you expect any excitement this time around?
Stacie: I’m anticipating that the Dodgers will play a little more aggressive, and I know Matt Kemp is anxious to collect his first base hit of the season. Yes, he’s hitless. Carl Crawford has brought some excitement to the lead-off spot, and we should see him running this series. Of course we always look forward to seeing how the Dodgers deal with Andrew McCutchen who I hear already has four stolen bases. The Dodgers have no stolen bases yet by the way.
Scott: I’m sure there will be a few fireworks. One guy to watch out for is Dodger lead-off man Carl Crawford. He is really on a mission to prove himself, as he extends his middle finger to the Boston Red Sox through multiple hit games for the boys in Blue. The Craw man recorded two multiple-hit games in the Giant series, including going 3 for 4 in the final game, and reaching base in six of his first ten at-bats. He has five hits already, and is poised to become the Dodger lead-off hitter and base threat we sorely need. As Stacie pointed out, the Dodger lineup is bereft of any semblance of speed, so Craw man’s base stealing is something we must have.
RB:Did we miss anything you want us to know?
Scott: Not really. Andrew Mccutchen is always tough, and annoying. So I am sure he will annoy us the entire series. We’re interested in seeing the return of former Dodger Catcher Russell Martin back to Dodger Stadium for the first time since he left after the 2010 season.
Here are the questions we asked Tom, and his responses.
LL:How do you feel about the Pirates signing former Dodger Russell Martin this offseason? Will he be an improvement over the other former Dodger catcher Rod Barajas?
Tom: Ahh, the fascination with former Dodgers catchers continues! (Editor’s note-Indeed, Tom is right. We do have some sort of a sick fascination with our former backstops and where they end up. It’s kind of like a moth to a flame, or like an accident you can’t look away from. We must know!) Martin has been on a serious decline, and it seems the Dodgers fans got to see Martin at his best.
But it’s hard not to say that Martin will be an improvement over Rod Barajas. Hot Rod was really bad last season.
All the talk is about Martin’s deceiving speed–we haven’t seen that.
So yeh, Martin is the highest free agent signing in Pittsburgh Pirates history. It sucks to write that, but it’s our reality. Martin doesn’t impress me much. He’s a great pitch framer, but his ability to throw out runners will be on display in this series. We will be watching that intently.
LL:Is Andrew McCutchen looking to run more this year? He already is 4-for-4 in stolen bases.
Tom: Yes, Cutch wants to steal more bases, even if it’s third base and the club has two outs as he did against the Cubs. Cutch always has had difficulty getting a good jump. This season, new first base coach Rick Sofield has spent considerable time in working on this part of not only McCutchen, but the entire team. Cutch just doesn’t look fluid in his stolen base skills. The Gold Glover looks back toward the catcher and has debated on whether to slide head first or feet first.
LL:Do you think Jonathan Sanchez can resurrect his career with Pittsburgh? He was pretty awful last season. How did he look this Spring?
Tom: Ahh, Operation Dark Horse as we call The Sanchez Project at RumBunter. Two months ago if you told us Sanchez would be the fourth starter we would have been jumping up and down. By that, we mean that we would have thought Sanchez simply blew out the competition in the Bucs starting rotation this Spring.
Unfortunately, Sanchez won the job mainly because the competition disappeared due to poor performance and injuries.
We were in Spring Training and saw the ability that Sanchez has always had. The southpaw had a couple of rough starts, but closed out the Spring schedule with strong outings, albeit against some of the lesser teams in the Grapefruit League.
Sanchez has worked on his mechanics and if this should somehow turn out, even with average stuff for a few months, it’s a big win for the Pirates. The rotation has some help on the way with Charlie Morton, Francisco Liriano and Jeff Karstens looking to battle back from injuries. Gerrit Cole and Kyle McPherson are waiting in Triple-A. Also Andy Oliver had a nice outing for the Bucs Triple-A team in the opener.
LL:How do you see the Pirates faring this season? Any chance they come out with a winning record?
Tom: We predicted the team to start slow. The fact that they didn’t sweep the Cubs or even take the series is disappointing. The club got solid pitching, but the offense of the Bucs was putrid. We saw that the Bucs Cubs series was the worst Opening Series since 1915 or something like that, Elias announced today.
The Pirates absolutely suck on the West Coast so we can see this trip being a difficult one, setting up the slow start we foresee.
We also feel the team can improve as the season continues. With depth in Triple-A for each of their weaknesses, the ballclub has something it hasn’t had in…well, 20 years.
We think the team falls just shy of a winning record in 2013.
Perhaps L.A. can drop a couple to help the cause? What do you say? Thanks!
LOL! Ha ha ha ha…..No Tom. Here is to hoping the Pirates continue to suck on the west coast. As Stacie pointed out the Bucs are 10-32 at Dodger Stadium. Let’s hope that trend continues. We want to thank Tom Smith and the Rumbunter crew for their candid responses. This should be a very interesting series. Go Blue!