Outfield shifts the next big thing? And does Morales fit?

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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?

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The Burnett timelines. More from Huntington. And how the Pirates wanted to spend $17 million

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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.

Continue reading The Burnett timelines. More from Huntington. And how the Pirates wanted to spend $17 million

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Burnett saga is over. A big question remains: do the Pirates have enough pitching depth? (Updated 11 p.m.)

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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.

Continue reading Burnett saga is over. A big question remains: do the Pirates have enough pitching depth? (Updated 11 p.m.)

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In need of a quick start, BP’s top 10, and the Cards have concerns?

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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.

Continue reading In need of a quick start, BP’s top 10, and the Cards have concerns?

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Monday Mop-Up Duty: Parity problems? How risky is A.J? And a failing grade

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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.

Continue reading Monday Mop-Up Duty: Parity problems? How risky is A.J? And a failing grade

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