SOUTH HILLS – Last year the hidden secret – the hidden competitive advantage – behind the Pirates’ 94-win campaign, was the Pirates’ extreme increased useage of infield shifts (combined with a spiked groundball rate) which we reported on extensively. The Pirates improve their defensive efficiency – the number of batted balls converted into outs – by three percent, which is a significant number. That’s hundreds of hits turned into outs. Continue reading Outfield shifts the next big thing? And does Morales fit?
SOUTH HILLS – Let me begin with a qualifying statement: I fully expect Jameson Taillon to begin the season in Triple-A. Delaying the start of top prospect’s service-time clock makes an awful lot of sense for clubs. Continue reading Monday Mop-Up Duty: a Sabathia-like road map for Taillon?
SOUTH HILLS – If you had Gaby Sanchez as the first name to be pulled in the he’s-reported-to-spring-training-in-the-best-shape-of-his-life pool, congratulations, you’re a winner.
SOUTH HILLS – Good morning to you, on this, the first day of the rest of our lives without the company of A.J. Burnett. One of the interesting details that surfaced last night was the Pirates offered Burnett $12 million to return to pitch in 2014, a deal that exceeded most speculative estimates. Jon Heyman first reported the offer and we then were able to confirm via a source.
SOUTH HILLS – Pitchers and catchers hold their first workout in Bradenton, Fla. tomorrow and A.J. Burnett will not be among them. After 120 some days, the will-he-or-won’t-he soap opera is over and I don’t think the outcome is surprising. Burnett did as most free agents – what most humans do – and chose market value over a loyalty discount, agreeing to a one-year, $16 million deal with the Phillies Wednesday. The Phillies who were in need of an arm with Cole Hamels likely not ready for spring training.
SOUTH HILLS – One 2014 storyline that has gone under the radar due to the AJ Burnett saga, and the ‘when will they do something’ lamenting is new hitting coach Jeff Branson and what his presence means for the 2014 Pirates’ offense.
CLARK BUILDING – Don’t shoot the messenger here, but Baseball Prospctus’s PECOTA forecasting system – the creation of former BP star Nate Silver – is pretty down on the 2o14 Pirates.
SOUTH HILLS – Some good news as we recover from winter storm Nika. (What’s with the storm names?). The Pirates’ equipment truck left for Bradenton this morning. Pitchers and catchers will not be far behind. While so much of the hot stove focus has centered on roster construction and on player acquisition – pretend or real – I wanted to take a quick look at something else today.
SOUTH HILLS – If you are unaware, Seth Meyers – the future Late Night host and Weekend Update inner circle Hall of Famer – has a soft spot for the Pirates. Meyers has Pittsburgh ties and followed the Pirates with interest last season.
SOUTH HILLS – Parity is often cited in explaining the NFL’s wild popularity. The idea that because of the salary cap, and because of the shorter length of careers, teams can quickly rise from worst to first. We’re told there’s more unknowns, more possibility, entering each season. Makes sense, right? One problem: there’s no evidence of parity in the NFL.