August 18: Brewers (58-60) @ Pirates (47-70)

I’ll admit it was quite nice to be able to sit on my couch last night, turn on ESPN and wait to hear if Strasburg and Co. signed by the midnight deadline, knowing that in Pittsburgh we didn’t have to deal with anything similar to the Pedro Alvarez/Scott Boras/Pirates nightmare from a year ago. Too, I was intrigued by how those negotiations would work out. There are sure to be long-term implications since the Draft system has to be scrutinized and possibly revised in the near future based on how the slot system is failing.

As it concerns the Pirates’ Draft class, though, 23 of 51 players were signed. And you can find an overall Draft assessment with reaction from GM Neal Huntington and scouting director Greg Smith on the main site now.

To highlight a few main points:

  • The Pirates, who came in with a Draft budget of about $10 million, spent $8.919 in signing bonuses for 23 players.
  • By his latest calculations, Huntington said the Pirates ranked sixth in the Majors in spending on Top 10 picks, even though nine teams signed their first-round pick for more money than the Pirates gave catcher Tony Sanchez ($2.5 million).
  • Without naming names, Huntington said that there were three drafted players that the team came real close to signing but was unable to in the end. One had gone so far as to come to a verbal agreement with the organization before backing out. The other two were ready to sign, but the delay in the signing process because of Major League Baseball discouraging above-slot signings caused each player to change his mind. Huntington said there were steady discussions with another six players or so, but nothing was close to happening on those fronts.
  • On the opposite end, Huntington cited Colton Cain, Zachary Von Rosenberg, Jeffrey Inman and Trent Stevenson as players who the Pirates initially felt they had only an outside chance of signing when drafted.

Huntington seemed well-please with the final results, though I guess we’ll have to come back in five years or so to do an even more thorough assessment.

As for today’s other news, notes and randomness…

  • Manager John Russell dropped catcher Ryan Doumit to the fifth spot in the order on Tuesday. Doumit had hit in the No. 4 hole in all 38 of his starts before today. The move was done to try and relax Doumit, who has just three hits in his last 24 at-bats and showed visible frustration during his 0-for-5 showing on Monday.
  • Right-hander Jose Ascanio had further tests done on his right shoulder and it looks like he’ll be sidelined longer than initially expected. Ascanio has been shut down from throwing until the soreness goes away. Russell didn’t have a timetable for when Ascanio could pick up a ball again, but said it would likely be more than 10 days.
  • The Pirates were looking at using Ascanio in the rotation in September, though those plans are likely now scratched. Still, Russell said that he will likely need to use an extra starter or two during the last month to get through the two doubleheaders and because the Pirates will eventually start limiting pitch counts.
  • While no limitations have been set yet, the club will start to limit innings in September so no starter has more than a 20 percent increase in innings thrown. Ross Ohlendorf and Zach Duke are the two to keep an eye on in this respect.
  • Who could be the candidates to make some spot starts in September? Phil Dumatriat, Eric Hacker and Daniel McCutchen would seem the most likely choices.
  • Speaking of Dumatrait, Huntington said that he will make another relief appearance for Triple-A Indianapolis on Wednesday, which is the last day he can be on his rehab assignment. Afterward, Huntington said, Dumatrait will be evaluated to see if he’s Major League ready. Judging by Huntington’s expression, though, I’d say the Pirates are right now very hesitant to add Dumatrait to the big league roster. His numbers sure haven’t been good, and I’ve not heard very positive reports about his stuff in Indy. Since Dumatriat is out of options, the Pirates could put him on waivers and assign him to Triple-A once he passes through.
  • The Pirates have hit eight homers in the team’s last two games against the Brewers. Consider this, though: the Brewers lead the league in home runs allowed this season with 159.

Pirates lineup:

  1. Andrew McCutchen (CF)
  2. Delwyn Young (2B)
  3. Garrett Jones (RF)
  4. Andy LaRoche (3B)
  5. Ryan Doumit (C)
  6. Lastings Milledge (LF)
  7. Steve Pearce (1B)
  8. Ronny Cedeno (SS)
  9. Ross Ohlendorf (RHP)

Brewers lineup:

  1. Felipe Lopez (2B)
  2. Craig Counsell (SS)
  3. Ryan Braun (LF)
  4. Prince Fielder (1B)
  5. Casey McGehee (3B)
  6. Mike Cameron (CF)
  7. Frank Catalanotto (RF)
  8. Mike Rivera (C)
  9. Manny Parra (LHP)

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

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