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Series Eighteen: Marlins at Pirates

The original text of today's mascot interview was lost - twice. We'd like to say that this was going to be the best mascot interview of all time, but it wasn't going to be. Now it's not even going to be what it once was, because a) it's a holiday and b) we're sick of transcribing everything (yes, I know - save your emails about saving, etc, etc - you over-achievers make us sick).

The Marlins start a four game set against the Pirates today in Pittsburgh. The Pirates are not a very good baseball team. Interestingly some folks refer to the Pirates as the "Bucs." This is veiled as a nickname for their nickname, as a Buc (or Buccaneer) is another name for a Pirate. However, that's not what it means in this case at all; folks call the Pirates the Bucs in an effort to make light of ownerships inability/unwillingness to spend money.

Moving on, we sat down with the cleverly named Pirate Parrot to discuss the upcoming series.

: Welcome to Fish Stripes, Parrot! I'm sure this is a huge honor for you.

The Pirates have gotten off to a dreadful start. They're 6 games under .500 and are ten-and-a-half games back of the perpetually red hot Cardinals. One manager - Tony Pena of Kansas City - is already out of a job. Is Pittsburgh's Lloyd McClendon next?

: I'll ignore your first statement and just move on to your question.

If you believe the regularly published reports, it seems that McClendon is on the hot seat. Should the Pirates fire him, it would probably be a mistake. That the Pirates aren't contending for the division title right now isn't McClendon's - or his coaches' - fault. This is simply - and sadly - a ballclub that is just in rebuilding mode. Replacing McClendon would simply be making a change for the sake of making a change. I'm not sure that it would accomplish anything.

: While you're right that the Pirates are mostly in rebuilding mode, Oliver Perez is one player who was expected to be a legitimate star this year. So far though, he hasn't lived up to those expectations.

: Well, that's certainly fair. After the year Perez had last year, we all expected him to do the same again this year. He hasn't though. In fact, it's been a rough start for him. Earlier this month he was sent down to the minors between starts to work on his mechanics. Since he returned, it hasn't been clear that it had much impact.

Still, I'm not convinced that this is a long term problem. Perez is only 23. Most pitchers his age are struggling with these same sorts of issues. Oliver is just doing it at the major league level. What definitely hasn't changed is that he has two great pitches - a two-seam fastball and a slider - that are excellent, plus a changeup that's above average. Having three pitches, plus other solid intangibles is usually a recipe for a long and successful career.

: It doesn't seem like there are many current Pirates with South Florida connections. In fact, the only one I can think of is Bobby Hill. What can you tell us about him?

: Hill is an intersting player. He's defintely not turning into the player that anyone thought he'd become when he came out of college. At that time he was projected to be a top of the lineup hitter and a solid infielder (most likely at second base). Instead, what he's developed into - at least to this point, and he's nearly pushing 30 - is a pinch-hitter and a spot starter. While he's appeared in 34 games this year, he's only played defensively in 15 games - and most of those have been at third base.

So, what I'm saying is that you shouldn't expect to see much of Hill in this series. And if you do see him, he won't be the base-stealing machine you remember from his days as a Hurricane.

Also, while he's not a South Floridian, Sean Burnett, who's on the DL currently, is from Dunedin.

But have you forgotten former Marlin, of the 2003 World Series champs, Mark Redman?

: No, I definitely haven't forgotten Redman. I just chose to ignore him for two reasons. One being the trade that netted the Fish virtually nothing in exchange for sending him to Oakland. And second, we toyed with the idea of interviewing Method Man today, instead of you. Redman just hasn't been the same since he and Method Man went their separate ways to pursue careers in deodorant commercials and professional baseball.

Thanks for your time, Parrot. I think I'm going to let you go though. It's Memorial Day and for a Muppet like me that means a couple things - cerveza, babes, and a hot tub.