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Cincinnati vs. Pittsburgh, 17 May 2006

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7:05 PM, FSNP, KDKA

Bronson Arroyo (5-1, 2.03) vs. Oliver Perez (1-5, 7.71).

Lost in the hype about Chris Shelton's hot start has been the fact that Arroyo, also dumped for nothing by the Bucs, is having one of the best seasons of any pitcher in the National League. If the Pirates had played Arroyo, Chris Young and Shelton instead of Perez, Victor Santos and Jeromy Burnitz, they'd be about a .500 team. That's not an exaggeration. Of course, I can't fault the Pirates for giving Perez a spot in the rotation, but I can fault them for dumping three guys who became cheap, above-average players, especially since the Pirates have a grand total of about four cheap, above-average players on their roster right now.

Speaking of Perez's spot in the rotation, though, this start might win or lose it for him. That's the story you're likely to hear from the broadcast booth today, not the Arroyo story. Perez and the Pirates' coaches have been happy with Perez's performance in side sessions over the past week, but they've been happy about them before and it didn't make a bit of difference in his performance.

Also, Jack Wilson may return tonight.

Box Score: No Jack after all.

-P- The Bucs aren't going to know what to do at third base when Joe Randa comes back. I've got a suggestion: have Jose Bautista start taking grounders at first base, then move him there when Randa's ready. Make Craig Wilson and Freddy Sanchez wear dunce caps in the dugout. Start Jose Hernandez in left field, since Jason Bay probably still has some things he needs to work through. I wish I could make some more jokes here, but I can't. There aren't enough good players to bench.