Fear the Brewers?

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SOUTH HILLS – The Brewers are in a precarious position. They live in a small-market city. They reside in a division that has three playoff teams form a year ago. In the division are three teams – Pirates, Cardinals and Cubs – that have consensus top-10, if not top-five farm systems. The Brewers own the worst or one of the worst farm systems in game, according to Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus.

Yet, they still might have a fight or two left in them.

Continue reading Fear the Brewers?

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A collective approach and early signs of an Alvarez breakout?

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SOUTH HILLS –  I thought one Pedro Alvarez plate appearance last night at Chicago was particularly interesting and it was not his hardest-hit ball, the end result of his first-inning plate appearance. No, it came with one out in the eighth inning of a tied game, with runners on first and second, and Cubs lefty James Russell was brought in to face Alvarez, whose struggles with lefties have been well documented.

Continue reading A collective approach and early signs of an Alvarez breakout?

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Charlie Morton throws like Roy Halladay can he pitch like him?

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SOUTH HILLS – If you pair achieved video of Roy Halladay with Charlie Morton footage you’ll be struck by how remarkably similar they throw, and not all of it is by accident. Back in 2011 when Jim Benedict and Ray Searage had Morton drop his arm slot and bring back his two-seam fastball, Morton was looking for comparable right-handed pitchers in size and delivery type to study. Continue reading Charlie Morton throws like Roy Halladay can he pitch like him?

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Monday Mop-Up Duty: the confounding TJ for JT outcome

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PNC PARK – We still don’t know enough about injury prevention.

That’s what I took away from Sunday’s news that Pirates’ top pitching prospect Jameson Taillon requires Tommy John surgery. The Pirates handled Taillon about as cautiously as any top pitching prospect in Major League history. They took his workload and pitch restrictions to an extreme at times in the minor leagues. They ran him through biomechanical examinations, and they drafted him over Manny Machado because he was big, strong and had a clean delivery.

And his arm still broke.

Continue reading Monday Mop-Up Duty: the confounding TJ for JT outcome

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The beginning of something big?

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SOUTH HILLS – While Opening Day was about as perfect as you could hope for from a Pirates’ perspective, this weekend series is really the fist intriguing must-see, match-up of the season. And what a way to start with two of the game’s best young right-handers in Shelby Miller and Gerrit Cole facing off. (Hopefully the weather cooperates.)

Last year  the Pirates took the season series 10 game to nine vs. the Cardinals, and then pushed the Cardinals to the brink of elimination in the NLDS. Was a meaningful rivalry was born then?  Continue reading The beginning of something big?

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Game 3: Cubs @ Pirates

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My, but sunrise came quickly today and I might just doze off while blogging. If you have to ask why, then you haven’t yet read this.
Both teams blew out their bullpen’s Wednesday/Thursday in the 16-inning marathon. The Pirates used six relievers, including Stolmy Pimentel, who worked the final four innings for his first big league victory. “A good one to win,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “We’ll figure out the pitching (Thursday).” Continue reading Game 3: Cubs @ Pirates

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Near perfection is no match for regression

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PNC PARK – We know one of the salient reasons the Pirates broke the streak, won 94 games, and made the postseason last year was because of a bullpen that was nearly flawless for the first half of the 2013 season. The Pirates began the season 37-0 when leading after eight innings. That’s Rivera like and remarkable. The Pirates’ bullpen didn’t blow a lead when leading after eight innings until Jason Grilli allowed a home run to Jay Bruce in Cincinnati on June 19th. Continue reading Near perfection is no match for regression

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Game 2: Cubs @ Pirates

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The Pirates on Wednesday announced a sponsorship deal with 84 Lumber -- which got me thinking about a different lumber company ...
The Pirates on Wednesday announced a sponsorship deal with 84 Lumber — which got me thinking about a different lumber company.

Full disclosure: I’m an instant replay skeptic. It slows the game, sows seeds of self-doubt with the umpires and cannot guarantee that “every call will be correct.” I also don’t like the manager challenge rule — if replay is so wonderful, why can’t a skipper challenge every play from the first pitch to the last?
One of the flaws in MLB’s new system was exposed late Tuesday night, in the Giants-Diamondbacks game. Continue reading Game 2: Cubs @ Pirates

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Is Liriano’s left arm going to fall off?

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SOUTH HILLS – That was about as perfect of an Opening Day as the Pirates could have hoped for.

The skies cleared. The temperature rose. Francisco Liriano and bullpen were in 2013 form and the Local Boy Done Good ended it with his first career walk-off. Good luck following up that one, Charlie Morton. As we’ll have to do with everything this April, really through May, we’ll have to attach the small sample disclaimer to every observation or statement that is made here. But we still need to write, talk, and generally kill time so here goes …

Continue reading Is Liriano’s left arm going to fall off?

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