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Monday Mop-Up Duty: first quarter report

NEW YORK – The Pirates salvaged something from their series in New York by splitting Sunday’s gaffe-filled doubleheader. But as we’ve officially passed the quarter pole, the Pirates are in a tough spot. There’s still a lot season to play, there’s still a lot to like about this roster (and some not to like), but the Pirates are without much margin for error. They are seven games under .500 (18-25). The Cardinals are beginning to look more like the Cardinals. The Pirates have regressed in just about every area, including now apparently, base-running.

Now, there are some reasons for optimism, many of which we’ve covered over the last few weeks.

The Pirates have been unlucky to a degree.  Their BABIP was way down early, though it has since increased to the middle of the pack. There’s the 10 blown saves. The bullpen’s underlying skills are similar to last year, so this pandemic has to cool at some point, right? The Pirates are 6-14 on the road, a rate that should improve to a degree. I do think players like Neil Walker, Pedro Alavrez, Tony Watson and  even Andrew McCutchen have made real gains. The Pirates are again leading baseball in groundball rate as a staff.

But the Pirates have some real issues. And the biggest is tied to starting pitching.

Look, I’m not a proponent of the “win” statistic for pitchers but the Pirates’ starters are a combined 5-18, and Gerrit Cole has four of those wins. The rest of the staff is Anthony Young’s 1993 season. That tells a story. Sure, it’s in part about the bullpen breakdowns and lacking run support at times, but there’s simply been too few impactful starts, too many variables left up to other areas of the team.

And if you hate the win stat, consider the Pirates’ starting pitchers are the only staff to produce negative WAR in baseball. The advanced and traditional stats are screaming in agreement.

There are also defensive efficiency issues. The Pirates ranked 1st in baseball in converting batted balls into outs in the first half of the 2013 season, converting 73 percent of batted balls into outs. They rank 10th at the moment. Not bad, but again, regression.

Looking for help from the schedule? Well, the Pirates rank 16th in strength of schedule, or in other words, in he middle of the pack. (The Brewers and Cardinals have played two of the easier schedules to this point).

In short, regression has infected and afflicted nearly every area of the team. The good news is there’s going to be some positive regression back to the mean over the last three quarters of the season.  But will there be enough?

STARTING NINE THOUGHTS

9. Department of Silver Linings: the Gerrit Cole changeup.

It arrived in Milwaukee, it again appeared in New York, and it’s fabulous.

Enjoy (courtesty @dshemie8):

http://gfycat.com/JoyfulDifferentJellyfish

Cole’s changeup was regarded as a plus pitch when Cole was coming out of UCLA, but he was only throwing it three percent of the time this season entering the Milwaukee start and also threw it sparingly last season.

Indianapolis pitching coach Tom Filer told he last year he thinks the changeup could develop into Cole’s best pitch. We saw why Sunday as he got Mark Teixeira to swing and miss and Ichiro to strike out on the pitch.

cole

The Pirates possess something that makes the Yankees jealous – and Cole might be up the cusp of reaching another level.

8. Think the Yankees might be interested in Cole in 2020? Yankees made him the 28th overall pick in 2008 and Cole turned them down. While no one is going to feel bad for the Yankees, has to be tough for their front office to watch a player like Cole perform on their turf. The Pirates should try to extend their control over Cole. But his agent is Scott Boras. And Cole comes from a well-to-do family so dollars aren’t the priority they are to some young players. Good luck.

WEEKLY POLANCO DISCUSSION …

7. How many hamstring pulls does it take to get to the a Gregory Polanco callup?

(Starling Marte expects to be back in the stating lineup on Tuesday)

6. We understand this is all about, or mostly about, Super 2.  Polanco was named the International Player of the Week today. We know the Pirates believe he’s ready hence the $25 million offer over seven years.

I think Neal Huntington was correct when he said he wants Polanco up when he’s ready to impact and not just survive. The Pirates are smart to maximize their years of control — but Polanco looks ready. And regardless of when Polanco arrives his development will not be complete. Every player has to adjust at the major league level, and what, offensively, does Polanco have to prove at Triple-A? He’s flirting with .400 in late May. He has a mature, measured approach, power, bat-to-ball skills. Maybe it’s a small sample, but he’s dominated over his 600 plate appearances above A-ball.

Polanco, to me, is a superior talent to Marte – right now –  and I like Marte despite his flaws. Just think, Polanco had six swings and misses in his first 170 swings this season, according to Baseball America. Marte had eight swings and misses in a 17-pitch span on Sunday.

Moreover, I think you want Polanco overlapping as much as possible with the Pirate careers of Andrew McCutchen (signed through 2018) and Cole (under control through 2019).

But also consider this: if the Pirates continue to struggle, if they are 10+ games below .500 in  mid June, what’s the point of calling up Polanco at that point? Why not June, 2015? Why not enjoy another year of control.

5. Reese McGuire‘s bat is starting to heat up at Low-A … but Austin Meadows is in danger of having something of a lost year. It’s nearly two months into the minor league seasons and he still hasn’t played due to a hamstring injury.

4. TOOTBLAN

3. Marte is consistently baffling.

Marte went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts in Game 1 of Sunday’s doubleheader.  He often chased out of the zone vs. Kuroda. Marte has the 12th highest strikeout percentage (29.7) among major league batters.

Golden sombrero in Game 1, go-ahead, two-run homer (and second in three games) in Game 2.

No denying the talent. Can the approach be improved? The plan was to work Kuroda up and in one at bat Sunday, Marte struck out on four pitches – all of which were below the strike zone.

2. You won’t find a better catch than Josh Harrison’s in the eighth inning Sunday. He was also aided by the Pirates’ more aggressive outfield alignment/shifting.

1. I don’t know what to make of the big-inning thing and Charlie Morton. His curveball and split-changeup played up yesterday. His two-seamer was sinking. Hurdle thought Morton didn’t work in early enough in the game. Is that the common thread for all the big innings allowed? It seems like Morton has worked in plenty. Morton struggled to grasp any common denominator after the game.

HE SAID IT:

Life-long Yankees fan Cole on win over Yankees:

“It was exciting. It’s just another win right now. … The sentimental stuff doesn’t mean anything. Getting out of here without getting swept is nice.”

STAT OF THE WEEK: .067

Winning percentage of Pirates’ starting pitchers not named Gerrit Cole.

Now, I know about killing the win. I’m not a proponent in placing much stock in pitching W-L records, but 1-15?

STAT OF THE WEEK II: .380

Ike Davis‘ OBP since trade. Power of changing scenery? New York market is a different animal.

YANKEE STADIUM OBSERVATION 

$11 Miller Like at Yankee Stadium. That better be a gold-laced souvenir cup.

NON-BASEBALL RECOMMENDATION OF THE WEEK

Next time you’re in New York and want some high-end Mexican cuisine, try Ofrenda in West Village. Great stuff. Of course there’s about 10,000 great restaurants in New York. Hard to go wrong. (Unless you visit Olive Garden in Times Square).

- TS

Comments

  1. NMR says:

    The link in 9. that should go to Gerrit Cole’s changeup actually links to Polanco’s MiLB page, which is kind’ve this season in a nutshell.

  2. Stuart says:

    It is a little early to determine if the glass is half full or half empty. Leqning toward empty right now.

    Hate to see Polanco come up with him being looked on as season savior.

    Boy is Marte a puzzle. Lots of players get hot and have slumps, but Starling can have his in the space of two at bats.

    I still think the Pirates take too many strikes or too many pitches that MIGHT be strikes with two strikes. The Bucs have to be leading the league in backward Ks. Wish there was a statistic that showed that readily available.

    Starting pitching: How long do you wait to see how your 5 million dollar experiment has failed? Can Locke and Cumpton help now?

    Personally, I think the Pirates are very hard to watch now. Pace of games way too slow.

    BTW I think it might be time for pulling the plug on Mr. Davidson.

    Stuart

  3. Jim S. says:

    Good point on Locke and Cumpton, Stuart. If the Bucs don’t make a run soon, and Wandy and Volquez don’t turn things around, there appears to be an obvious decision that can be made there.

    I said last week the thing that worried me most about the weekend was the matchup of Volquez vs. the RF/RC wall in Yankee Stadium. The wall won by a decisive margin. What a joke that park is in RF/RC, btw. I felt like Pedro pulled a couple of balls on Saturday where it looked like he was just trying to jack one out for the home folks.

    Hey, I see Rosenthal blew another save for the Cards. I guess that’s another guy, like Melancon, who just can’t handle the 9th inning. ;-)

    Only 2 weeks separates the 1/4 point from the 1/3 in MLB. The Bucs need to get this thing going this week.

  4. NMR says:

    -No offense, but I think the only thing that could possibly make Marte baffling at this point is one’s own expectations.

    This is Starling Marte, the same Starling Marte we’ve always known. He’s never going to have the discipline to be more than an average hitter. BUT…I’ll also point out that Starling Marte is on pace to notch 4.5 WAR per 600 PA, which is just a hair off last year’s breakout. Cutch and Polanco will be stars, but they’ll still have pretty darn good support in Marte.

    -One note I’ll add to the Pirates starting pitching woes is thatover a third of their games so far have been against the AL East and the Milwaukee Brewers.

    -Is the “big inning thing” really a Charlie Morton problem? I count just three times this year he’s given up 3 EARNED runs in an inning. That’s a problem?

  5. Jim S. says:

    A big chunk of Charlie’s problem is the shabby fielding behind him. I think that has led to some big innings, too.

  6. Nate83 says:

    I thought I heard he did it 6 times somewhere. However maybe that included unearned runs which would be misleading.

  7. NorthPirateFan says:

    To points 6 & 7: TS wrote a piece not long ago asking what there was to be learned from the Bautista trade, the more pertinent question might have been what was to be learned from Bautista’s handling as a prospect. To me the best reason NOT to bring Polonco up now is the Pirates current situation. In doing so many will look to him to be the savior and put the burden of him turning the team into a contender on his shoulders. It happened with Alvarez, it happened with Ramirez and that’s precisely what happened with Bautista. As TS says there will be an adjustment period whenever he is called up and the last thing any young player needs is to be hearing boos from disgruntled and unrealistic fans as the team is struggling.

    The obvious move right now is the same one I suggested last month, bring up Chris Dickerson to platoon at least against the toughest RHPs and let Marte heal some of the nicks & dings that are already piling up as well as sort some of his issues at the plate out.

  8. NMR says:

    Exactly, Jim.

    Extra outs are incredibly valuable, and the Pirates have been giving the opposition far too many.

  9. Jim S. says:

    I don’t want unrealistic expectations placed on Polanco, either, North. A lot of people have expressed that concern, and I think it is a good one. But, at some point, if a guy is ready you have to bring him up. How long are you advocating they wait? The way the team is playing, another 3 weeks may take expectations from “We still have a chance at the Wild Card” to “Bring the kid up because we are out of it and the fans want to see him now.” If we fall back any further, there may not be any added pressure placed on him.

  10. Travis Sawchik says:

    Whoops! Link fixed

  11. I’d take the Pirates starters going from 1993 Anthony Young to 1985 Jose Deleon this week, given their shortcomings.

  12. Travis Sawchik says:

    Charlie has six innings of 3+ runs, I believe

  13. Jim S. says:

    Or, 1980 Brian Kingman. :-)

  14. NMR says:

    Ha, no worries Travis. Made me laugh.

  15. NMR says:

    Well, he only has four whole games where he’s given up 3+, so it seems that is incorrect.

  16. BostonsCommon says:

    … and throwing away far too many of their own outs. Base running was atrocious yesterday. Between the slip-and-falls, caught stealings, and Gaby looking like a lineman trying to score from 2nd… What’d they run themselves out of yesterday, 2 full innings?

  17. Jim S. says:

    Saturday was also very bad in that regard.

  18. Andrew says:

    Prospect promotion/development is a much more an art than a science, I agree that one player is not going to reverse the Pirates fortunes, maybe if there was a starter available.

    At this point calling up Polanco is borderline fire-able offense.

  19. Andrew says:

    Good point on Marte, even when striking out 30% of the time he has been the Pirates 2nd most valuable player.

    Ike Davis has been a better version of the Pirates’ 2013 Justin Morneau, and Gaby Sanchez has been the Pirates 2nd-3rd best hitter so far, but I still get RBI updates in every game thread for every first basemen rumored to be connect with the Pirates or who at one time played for the Pirates.

  20. BostonsCommon says:

    Tabata and his hamstrings have hobbled right past comical and are closing in on pathetic. He clearly is carrying too much weight and he’s about to put his career in jeopardy. Not that he was every going to be a regular with the Pirates, but he’s likely cost himself a shot with another organization as a regular.

  21. Andrew says:

    that should read: who was rumored to be connected with

  22. jimd says:

    The Pirates don’t need Polanco as a savior, just as a spark. Something different from what we are seeing. A better outfield defense maybe a little different look to the offense. Polanco is ready it is foolish to let him waste away in AAA.
    The Pirates really need to be more aggressive at bat, they take way too many good pitches get behind in the count and then go after bad piches low & away and in the dirt. It is Polanco time and time to change pitching from Volquez to Compton or Sadler.

  23. NMR says:

    2nd most productive position for the Pirates this season. Not that facts were ever going to matter.

  24. I’m sorry, but worrying about pressure is a poor reason not to promote a player. He has plenty of support. The guy will be playing right beside the reigning NL MVP! Now I agree that it doesn’t make sense to bring him up now. Not with the way this team is teetering. But there is little doubt in my mind he is ready. I think he is going to play well from Day 1.

  25. 18 DAYS UNTIL GREGORY POLANCO IS MAGICALLY CONSIDERED “READY” TO PUT ON A PIRATE UNIFORM

    {because NOW is not nearly as important as 6 years from NOW}

    We’ve waited this long———leave him there for 2 1/2 more weeks and save your dang crap $$$, BMTIB!!

  26. Nate83 says:

    You honestly look at him this year and think he is carrying to much weight? I think he is at a healthy, althletic weight for his body type. He has broad sholders and large torso so he is never going to look like Cutch or Marte no matter how much weight he losses. He did look to be overweight in 2012 and a little in 2013.

    I think Tabata more then any player on the team gets unfairly judged on past events. If you looked at his pure stats over the last 2 years without any name being attached I think most people would be surprised by exactly how good he has been. Solid 3rd outfielder on almost any team. Not a single team in the league he wouldn’t get a roster spot except for maybe the Dodgers even though his stats are better then some of those paper champions playing in that outfield.

  27. Jim S. says:

    I’ll go as far as solid 4th OF, Nate. And, I’m sure there are teams where he would be the 3rd best OF. But, I don’t know any teams that would be happy with his production as a starter. He doesn’t have a lot of pop, he doesn’t add much value with his speed, and he’s nothing special in the field. And, he’s undependable from a health standpoint, which he is once again proving.

    He was pretty good last year down the stretch, when healthy. I thought maybe he was turning a corner. So far this year, he hasn’t done much.

  28. Nate83 says:

    How good do you think 3rd outfielder are on teams? I think there are a fair amount of teams in the league that would switch the Pirates their 3rd outfielder for Tabata. Maybe I’m wronge on this one but I do think we diminish his abilities because of his reputation. No he doesn’t hit many home runs but he gets his fair amount of doubles. I hate him platooning with Snider and would have liked to see how he would do with consistant at bats in the same spot in the batting order every game.

  29. Steelkings says:

    Im just throwing this out there for stupidity. Perhaps Tony Sanchez could learn to play RF when Polanco comes up?

  30. Steelkings says:

    Amen Stewart on the pace of the game

  31. BostonsCommon says:

    No doubt he’s carrying too much weight… But honestly, that’s something that should have been addressed years ago. He looks terrible getting down the line to first, and shouldn’t be allowed to attempt steals anymore.

    It’s probably too late now and the damage is already done. At this point of his career, after all the injuries, he should be receiving regular preventative treatment. And if the Pirates are monitoring how many steps Cutch takes in a day, and how many times Russ Martin’s heart beats, you’d have to think Tabys getting proper treatment.

    No doubt he’d get a look on almost every other team, but he can’t be a regular for anyone. Can’t run him out there for more than 2 weeks without him coming up lame. It’s been proven over his entire career as a Pirate… And it’s a shame too, because as you said, the guy has starter potential on a LOT of teams.

  32. Steelkings says:

    Im not so quick to put Marte ahead of Tabata offensively.

  33. BostonsCommon says:

    WE don’t diminish his abilities… HE does… by repeatedly injuring himself…

    How can you give him consistent ABs if you have to give him consistent maintenance days and make sure he’s taking care of body? Fitness, diet, and treatment should be absolute givens with professional athletes.

    In my mind, he’s approaching Lamar Woodley’s level of neglect and resulting disappointment.

  34. mab71 says:

    Does anyone else think that the PBTNL for Ike Davis is Austin Meadows? I’ve heard that they would have to wait a year to trade somebody drafted last year and the fact that he’s been out all year with a hamstring injury as a young guy just seems suspicious.

  35. Jim S. says:

    No chance.

  36. Nate83 says:

    I don’t think that is remotely possible. He is already a top 100 prospect in all of baseball. Ike Davis was leftovers for the Mets. I’ve heard Jacoby Jones name and even that would seem to be a bit much for a guy the Mets had essentially given up on. Maybe one of the two left handed pitchers they drafted are possible as well.

  37. Jim S. says:

    I would say take another look at his stats, Nate – especially this year. He doesn’t do anything particularly well.

  38. Jim S. says:

    You’re the only one, Steel.

  39. Nate83 says:

    Fair enough. I completely get that view and it is shared by many. I personally don’t think his injuries are because of lack of fitess but instead just him being one of those guys that gets injured often. I do think there is a good baseball player somewhere in there. Much more so then Snider who I can’t see ever reaching good 4th outfielder or filling in for injured players capable.

  40. Travis Sawchik says:

    Fact checking:

    Morton has allowed 4+ runs in 7 of 9 starts

    …earned runs: 3+ in 4 of 9 starts

  41. Nate83 says:

    I looked at his stats before posting on him. 100 at bats of inconsistant play doesn’t say as much to me as his 2011 season and his play when getting pretty conistant at bats in 2013 before Byrd was aquired and while Marte was injured. His walks are down this year but his .265 average wouldn’t be bad for a 4th outfielder.

  42. Jim S. says:

    I think one of the lefty pitchers is a much better possibility. I think they are giving up a good prospect, but not a great one.

    It is odd that Meadows has missed so much time with this hamstring injury.

  43. BostonsCommon says:

    Speaking of fire-able offenses…

    A first round pick, the year after he was drafted? There’s just no way, why the hell would you even draft him, sign sign him, and pay him then?

    Ditto, probably for anyone taken in the top 100 picks, IMO (including Blake Taylor, 51, Jacoby Jones, 87, and probably Cody Dickson, 113).

  44. NMR says:

    Thank you. One situation where Tabby has thrived is when given consistant playing time.

    Struggled at the beginning of last season when Hurdle was playing his games with Snider, just like he has this year.

  45. Jim S. says:

    I would say that if he was really good at something I might agree with you, Nate. That might offset some of his unreliability. But, I don’t know what he’s really good at. He did hit well late last year, and in 2011. But, there’s 2012 & 2014 on the other side of the ledger. I don’t hate the guy as a player. To me, he has value, but not as a full-time starter. I’m ok with him as a 4th OF or platoon guy. I believe that will be his role with the Bucs going forward. Or, they’ll trade him.

  46. NMR says:

    So what makes guys who have spent two years in the system less fire-able than one year?

  47. Jim S. says:

    I like him more than Snider, Nate. And, I agree that he has hit best when he gets regular playing time. Most guys are probably that way. But, what is Clint supposed to do with him? He has given him 113 plate appearances in the 1st quarter of the season and he has gotten .262/.295/.318/.612. 4 doubles, 1 triple and 0 HR. He was still playing pretty regularly, and now he’s injured again.

    I’ve tried to be positive about him. But, he just can’t seem to sustain successs and he can’t stay healthy. No team wants that in a starter.

  48. Jim S. says:

    Not biting this time.

  49. BostonsCommon says:

    The fire-able offense is reserved more for the first round picks. It just seems like a complete waste of resources to move that guy right after he’s drafted: time, money, effort.

    Not only that, it just makes me question the pick in the first place if you’re willing to part less than a year or 2 after bringing them in. I’d say that about most first and second year players really.

  50. NMR says:

    He’s consistantly shown above average contact and on-base skills, Jim.

  51. cmat0829 says:

    you succeeded in the goal : stupidity.

  52. NMR says:

    Very much disagree with that.

    I’m not sure how it can be considered a “waste” of anything. You’re simply trading one set of values for another, just like every other trade.

    Tony Sanchez was once a Top 100 prospect in all of baseball and draft position had a lot to do with it. Back then, teams could dream on projections instead of analyzing actual performance.

    Now it would take a hell of a lot more than Ike Davis, but I’d have no problem at all trading Meadows in theory.

  53. cmat0829 says:

    Top prospects, of which Polanco is most assuredly one, advance completely and wholistically on THEIR OWN MERITS…. it matters not who is on the major league roster, it matter not what the major league team is doing or not doing… it matters not the ‘fan’ angle, i.e. “give fans a reason to be excited about the team”, etc.

    So any and all posts that begin with “Polanco is better than Snider, Tabata, etc.” are irrelevant. Posts that say the Pirates are better off calling him up now (to give the team / fanbase a spark) or wait until 2015, sorry Trav, are off-base. It is clear this is the summer Polanco is ready for this level. If it weren’t for Super2, despite what NH says publicly, he’d be in Pittsburgh right around 2 weeks ago. But as it is, we are about 3 weeks away.

    It simply is “top prospect rules of the road”. It isn’t based on Nutting being cheap. It isn’t based on Hurdle or Huntington wanting Travis Snider to play… it is based on the system and how best to utilize the scarce resources the Pirates have to compete. And a cheaper year of Polanco down the line allows that $$ to be spent on other aspects of this team that need upgrading (likely 3B, SS, 1B, C and Starting pitching)….

  54. Nate83 says:

    If you are getting something of value in return it would seem like you should be willing to give up something that is less of a sure thing but intriguing to another team as part of the trade. Obviously I’m not talking about Meadows but somebody like Jacoby Jones definately is not a sure bet to be successful at this point in his career. If he was currently in AA and still looking impressive you sure as heck wouldn’t want to trade him at that point at least not for an Ike Davis type player.

    Considering it’s Ike Davis we are talking about the Mets really only had the option of trading for players that had defined minor league careers and projected to be fringe major leaguers or a raw talent like Jacoby Jones, Taylor and Dickson which could develope into something more or nothing at all. They had something we wanted in Davis but he isn’t all that valuable so they got a solid relief arm taht may contribute and a raw talent. That seems about right to me.

  55. Jim S. says:

    Yeah, true about his OBP. And this lineup does need some contact. Like I said, I’m ok with him staying on as the 4th OF – 200-250 ABs or so per year. I have mostly been in the camp of defending him. But, everytime I do that, he pulls another hammy. I really thought he was turning a corner late last year. Now, he’s back to a sub-.300 OBP and an injury. It won’t matter in a few weeks, fortunately. He’s the guy I’d keep to back up Polanco, though.

  56. Jim S. says:

    Bostons:

    If you made a smart draft pick for a really good prospect at a position where you feel he may never get a shot in your system, why would you not part with him and get something back in return that you can use? These minor leaguers are assets. I don’t particularly like moving them, but if I feel I am getting a good return and making my organization better, I’d be ok with trading anyone at any point.

  57. Jim S. says:

    Ouch!

  58. cmat0829 says:

    Some interesting perspective:

    The Pirates road games this year have been in hitters’ parks, primarily.
    Miller Park (6)
    GABP (3)
    Wrigley (3)
    Yankee (3)
    Camden (2)

    Busch in STL (3) is not a hitter’s park per se, but Cards are very good at home in scoring runs usually.

    Pirates have played 20 games on the road, won 6. And I don’t have the stats in front of me but those parks likely are doing a number on our starting pitching.

    Yes, the Pirates are off to a bad start… what has to get fixed first is pitching better and playing good defense AT HOME… they did so a decent job last homestand (won 3 series and went 6-3, with a legit chance that could have been 8-1)… eager to see how this club does in some better pitcher’s parks on the next road trip (Citi, Dodger and Petco).

  59. BostonsCommon says:

    NMR: Point taken. And in ‘theory’, I can agree. It’s just not going to be my first preference to move the first and second year guys. Especially if a large part of your draft premise is to bring in high upside, developmental preps.

    Jim: If you’re telling me Meadows is never going to get a shot, then why was he drafted in the first place? The other guys we’re talking about are SS many regarded as the most athletic college bat in the draft, and two LHP from the prep ranks. Absolutely no one is blocking their path anywhere.

    They’re all assets, and should be used accordingly. I’d just want to hang on to most of them for a couple years… Just my preference.

  60. Chuck H says:

    I say, the inability to score runs when the opportunity presents itself,ie hitting with RISP has had a large effect on the Pirate’s pitching staff. They are trying too hard to prevent their opponents from scoring even one run, because the futility of this team’s hitters with RISP is alarming and disgusting. The pitchers know that if they give up a go-ahead run,
    it’s probably going to mean loss of the game. For whatever reason, the Bucs just don’t hit when they have men in scoring position.

  61. Ghost says:

    I’m with Nate. Not only does Tabby look fine, but he specifically slimmed down and came to ST leaner than ever, this spring. You’re seeing something that isn’t there, Boston. Hamstring injuries are season killers — once they’re sprung, you don’t get fully healed, you just gamely deal with them. Ask Hines Ward or Troy Polamalu. (And check back with Russell Martin from time to time, this season.) Some players are more injury-prone than others, and Tabby probably is one of those. But it’s not because he’s “clearly is carrying too much weight.”

  62. jay says:

    Who is davidson

  63. NMR says:

    “Especially if a large part of your draft premise is to bring in high upside, developmental preps.”

    Now you gon’ made me think! This is a really good point, Boston.

  64. NMR says:

    Pittsburgh Pirates Batting Average: .245

    Pittsburgh Pirates Batting Average w/ RISP: .240

  65. Nate83 says:

    So they really just can’t hit in any situation is what you are saying :)

    Seriosly I think people forget how much a game of failure baseball is. We are really talking 3 hits every 100 oppertunities away from being .270 w/RISP which would be great.

    The bigger issue in my opinion is the amount of times with bases loaded or 2nd and 3rd or 1st and 3rd and less then 2 outs this team isn’t getting at least 1 run across. You don’t have to get a hit to score runs in that situaion. Coming up empty in those situations have killed this team. I think situational hitting is a much larger concern then “clutch” hitting. Too many strikeout, bad bunts and infield pop ups in situations that require a sacrifice fly, better bunts or groundouts to the right side.

  66. Leo Walter says:

    +++++ Jim. I am sick of hearing about Tabata and his ” potential “.NO power,little speed and little defense. Can you even imagine him laying out to make a catch like Harrison made Sunday ? Just thinking of that makes me laugh.

  67. Steelkings says:

    Over the next 50 AB’s, Tabata would have to strike out 3 out of every 4 at bats to equal Marte in whiffs and AB’s. Marte is better simply because he runs circles around Tabata.

    Just sayin.

  68. Steelkings says:

    @ Jim
    “He has given him 113 plate appearances in the 1st quarter of the season and he has gotten .262/.295/.318/.612. 4 doubles, 1 triple and 0 HR.”

    __________________________________________________________

    Jim,
    The whole team outside of McCutchen has that same slash line.

  69. Steelkings says:

    @ NMR

    Spot on! With a K in every 5 AB’s means he puts it in play. Compare him to Gaby or your starting SS.

  70. Steelkings says:

    No, No and no. Lets go back to the cardinal game, Down a run with bags loaded and nobody out in the 9th. With Roethenthal struggling, Davis pops the first pitch into foul territory for out No#1. Mercer the great, then tries to pull a breaking ball that is 6 inches outside and hits a 4 hopper back to the mound for a 1-2-3 double play.

    Thats not failure……Thats “Suck”

  71. BUCNfan says:

    I hate being a pointy-headed word snob, but “quarter poll” is too much to resist correcting. First, you mean pole not poll, unless we are voting on something. Second, “quarter pole” is a horse-racing metaphor which is a pole signalling there’s a quarter mile remaining, NOT a quarter mile into the race, or in this case, the baseball season.

  72. Brad says:

    The Pirates really need to find a SS that can hit leadoff. I dont want to see Marte at the top again. I know this is easier said than done, but that would really solve 2 problems they have.

  73. Stuart says:

    Davidson is an aging umpire whose best days are in his rear view mirror. He is particularly bad on umpiring behind the plate, often missing wildly on his calls.
    Stuart

  74. Nate83 says:

    How is that not exactly what I said Steel? That was situational hitting. They could have scored two runs without getting a hit in that situation or at least one. First pitch swinging against a guy that was struggling to find the strike zone is not a good approach or appropriate for the situation. It had nothing to do with talent.

  75. NMR says:

    Or could you even imagine him running full speed into the wall to make a game saving catch?!

    Oh wait, aready happened this year…

  76. NMR says:

    Don’t even bother, Nate.

  77. NMR says:

    That wold be perfect.

  78. Denis Cunningham says:

    I was sitting in the right field box seats at the true double-header in the Bronx on Sunday. Snyder was booed merciless by the tanked-up riff-raff around me during the second game after three quarters of the New York fans bolted the House That Steinbrenner built at intermission…my impression of the new Yankee Stadium? It looks too much like a white-washed, hi tech alien mother ship for my tastes–not nearly as inviting or intimate as PNC.

  79. Steelkings says:

    Dear Dick,
    I succeeded in stupidity when I became a Pirate fan. That makes the rest of you stupid too.

  80. Nate83 says:

    I didn’t know that was cmat’s real name :)

  81. Steelkings says:

    @ Nate
    “It had nothing to do with talent.”
    ____________________________________________________________________________________

    Sure it does Nate. Look, Roesenthal was struggling to throw the breaking pitch over the plate. I didnt have a problem with Ike Davis sitting fastball, dead red. He just missed it. Mercer on the other hand has no excuse pulling a breaking pitch thats down and away. Mercer is not a good player. Certainly not a starting shortstop on any contending team. .220 is not getting it done. What Mercer is is cheap. Same with good ole .209 Alverez. He’s not very good. He’s cheap. When he gets good he wont be here. How bout .215 Travis Snider? Is he good? NOT! How bout .259 Gaby? Not Good. In fact he was picked up off the scrap heap to begin with. Stewart , the back up catcher? .243, nope not in the good category either. Hey Cmat, Perspective works both ways. You say so far we have been on the road in a bunch of hitters parks. And soon we will be in a bunch of pitchers parks? I say, Uh Oh! Will we even score at all during those games.
    Like what I say or not, when Garrett Babe Ruth Cole and Wandy A-Rod Rodriguez are your teams 3rd and 4th leading Hitters 45 games into the season, there obviously is a lot of SUCK behind them.
    The bottom line is that this is what it is designed to be. That is cheap. Morneau does not suck. But he isnt cheap. Same with Byrd. Thats why they are not here. They made timely rentals though. This is what the BMTIB needed them to be. They got out their smoke and mirros and gold paint with the AJ saga. Its painfully obvious now that the Pirates didnt want to pay him, so he left. The Pirates dont have to have Mercer at SS. They could go get Drew, but he’s not cheap so that eliminates him. You guys all think Im crazy but Im usually fairly accurate with my predictions. I called for a major regression. So much so, a lot of you guys wanted to make bets. Well, your Bucco’s are on pace to win 68 games. 4 less than I predicted.

    @ NMR = :(

  82. Nate83 says:

    People see what they want to including myself and when they look at Tabata they see lazy and out of shape even if it’s not true. No he’s not Marte out there but he isn’t Matt Holliday or even JHay who is not as a good an outfielder as Tabata in my opinion. It is possible for players to pull hamstrings without it having anything to do with being out of shape.

  83. Nate83 says:

    Wow. Gaby was picked up off a scrap heap. I must have missed that one. To bad you couldn’t have posted this a couple of weeks ago when Mercer was batting .170 it would have made your point that much stronger. Somehow this group of sucky players have managed to be 8th in the NL in batting average and have squeezed enough runs out of thier suckiness to average more runs per game then the Cards, Brewers and Reds.

    You really wanted Byrd back on a 3 year deal with Polanco 3 months away at the beginning of the year. Morneau did nothing while on the team last year to warrent a 2 year deal for 13 million and he will regress. Don’t get me wrong this team has issues and more talent is needed but you have completely flipped what this discussion and my original post was about.

    I tried really hard NMR but I had to bother. The post was so full of hindsighted, shortsighted, half empty statements it made my fingers start typing uncontrollable.

  84. Steelkings says:

    Silly response Nate, And sorry I dont “go with the flow”.

    Anyway….
    Morneau is hitting 327 with 9 dingers. Oh and before you give the park his credit, he is .301 with 4 dingers on the road. Far better than whats present in Pittsburgh. As for Byrd and his .296 with 5 dingers . He would be fine in RF with Polanco in left with Marte and his 51 strike outs joining Tabata in a tweezer fest on the bench.
    _________________________________________________________________________

    “Wow. Gaby was picked up off a scrap heap. I must have missed that one”
    ————– ————— —————– ————— ———– ————
    The dude was just about out of baseball when the BMTIB came a calling. In 2012 he hit .217 in 400 ABs. Miami pulled him off first where he hammered out a .202 BA.
    If it quacks like a duck it a duck.

    ________________________________________________________________________
    “Somehow this group of sucky players have managed to be 8th in the NL in batting average and have squeezed enough runs out of thier suckiness to average more runs per game then the Cards, Brewers and Reds.”

    ——————— ————— —————- —————–

    Never mind the obvious standings, But the Pirates after 43 games have scored 3 or less in 21 of them.

    _______________________________________________________
    ” The post was so full of hindsighted, shortsighted, half empty statements it made my fingers start typing uncontrollable.”
    ———— ———— ————- ————— ——————— ————

    The pot calling the kettle black is even stranger when the pot doesnt know hes the pot.

  85. Nate83 says:

    None of the points you make show that the comments you made in your post wasn’t either in hindsight, not thinking long term or an extremely glass half empty view. It’s your right to think that way just as it’s my right to debate it. I disagree strongly with most of what you posted. I’m by no means defending the lack of offseason moves or saying this team doesn’t have problems I just don’t think your version of the problems or solutions are correct.

  86. Jim S. says:

    Bostons:

    I’m not saying Meadows won’t get a shot. I think he’s the Cutch heir apparent. But, he was a value pick IMO, and if it turns out that you think he might be blocked someday, you take him, anyway, was my point. If you don’t have a spot for the best pick available, you still take the best pick available and move him for what you need.

  87. Steelkings says:

    Hindsight = History

  88. Steelkings says:

    Pirates pounded out 10 hits tonight. only 2 runs again. Musta been one of those Pitchers ballparks

  89. BDHumbert says:

    I think it is time to get off of the umps/bad calls meme…

    They are now on the computer almost every game – and I think the edge pitches are pretty much an even split – some to the batters and some to the pitchers…

    I am a big fan of a big zone – get the bat off of your shoulders and swing if it is close – why let the ump decide – put the ball in play!

  90. Steelkings says:

    It may have been you NMR, way back in March who said for the Pirates to be successful they would need to continue to do at least two of the big three things well. The big three (Pitching, Hitting and Defense) . I understand why you have to continue to live with El Boro, (Starkey) but why oh why doesnt Barmes play short if those are the two choices?

  91. Steelkings says:

    If only 2013 Garrett Jones would have been 2012 Garrett Jones, the Rates may have wrestled the Red Sucks to finish the year last season. So what.

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