Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pineiro Sharp in Win over Royals; Iwamura a Find for Pirates

Players of the Day for Monday, March 29, 2010 American League Joel Pineiro has the Royals' number. After throwing 6 2/3 innings of 2 hit ball against them in a 10-2 Angels win, Pineiro, has gone 11 2/3 innings against the Royals over his last two starts of the Spring and allowed exactly one earned run on 7 hits. At least the Angels know who to have in the rotation whenever they play Kansas City during the regular season. In Monday's final tune-up prior to the regular season, Pineiro had good enough stuff to allow just one run, walking two and striking out a pair. With John Lackey gone to Boston, Pineiro should be able to pick up most of the slack. Last season with the Cardinals, the Puerto Rican righty was 15-12, with a 3.49 ERA. National League The Pittsburgh Pirate may have gotten a good deal when they acquired Akinori Iwamura from the Rays for righty Jesse Chavez. In Monday's 13-1 beat-down of Houston, their new starting second baseman batted leadoff and delivered a homer, two singles, 3 RBI and 3 runs in 5 at-bats. Iwamura missed most of last season due to injury, but managed to get in 69 games for the Rays, batting a solid .290 with 28 runs, 22 RBI and 9 steals in 10 tries. The Pirates were in need of both a leadoff hitter and a second baseman, so Iwamura fit like a glove. He's hitting .282 so far in pre-season for the Bucs. MLB Preview: Pittsburgh Pirates Looks like another long season in Pittsburgh. As of Monday's exhibition games, the Pirates were a game behind the lowly Nationals in Florida's Grapefruit League, a position in which Pirate teams have found much comfort over the past few years. Pittsburgh has finished dead last in the NL Central each of the last three seasons and four out of the last five. Only in 2006 did they manage to finish second-last, when the Cubs managed to supplant them at the bottom. After 99 losses in 2009, the Pirates can only look up heading into the new season, but there's not much upside to this lineup of cast-aways and no-names. The most recognizable names are probably shortstop Bobby Crosby or 3rd baseman Andy LaRoche, neither of whom hit better than .260 (Crosby was a .223 hitter), hit many homers or drove in many runs. This is a team that thrives on mediocrity. The biggest thrill for Pirates fans are the stars from visiting teams. With starters such as Paul Maholm, Zach Duke and Ross Ohlendorf - who combined for 30 wins and 35 losses, there aren't too many reasons to believe the Pirates will win with pitching and defense, and even less chance that they'll clobber people with their hitting. Regardless of what the future book has them down as (250-1), they have about as good a chance of winning the World Series as Cloris Leatchman winning a beauty pageant. Slim to none. By early May at the latest they will be in their comfort spot, looking up at the rest of the division.

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