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Wakeup Call: Morton needs Snyder

Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

>> Those of you who participated on our live blog last night saw as I used my Nostradamus-like powers to predict Charlie Morton’s five-run sixth inning just before it happened. Even though he was pitching a shutout to that point. Even though he was striking people out.

The call really wasn’t that impressive, actually. Anyone will be able to tell from now on when Morton is back to his April/May self simply by tracking his sinker. Is it moving? Are hitters one-handing their swings over it? Is he getting ground balls off it?

None of that was going on last night, as columnist Joe Starkey describes this morning in greater detail. Rather, Morton relied on his curve, the same crutch that got him into (really) deep trouble last year.

My advice: Chris Snyder is in that clubhouse now, rehabbing the back. Morton needs to sit down with Snyder and accept a good old-fashioned chewing out, just like the time last year when Morton was put under orders never to shake off Snyder in a game.

>> Speaking of Snyder, I saw him for the first time since the back surgery and — having been his brother in pain in that department once — he and I went over all the details, and he assured me everything was going very smoothly. He does still hope to play this season.

>> I never saw as many media members in the Pirates’ clubhouse or in the manager’s office as I did yesterday, with the exception of the 2006 All-Star Game, when it was used by the National League team.

And no, there was no one there from Bristol, Connecticut.

>> We will have our weekly chat today at noon. You can post entries right away, though.


  1. says:

    Dejan………were you the one who pointed out that d’Arnaud seems to have trouble with his throws? Or was that Colin?

    Btw, you MUST have a crystal ball. I thought Charlie was cruisin’.

  2. JAL says:

    A few Morning Links

    Pirates Prospects

    Making Room For the Returning Players

    The Disabled List: Updates for July 6th

  3. JAL says:

    Pirates Prospects>/b>

    Buyers or Sellers: Can the Pirates Be Both?

  4. JAL says:

    -Ohio Valley Athletics

    Bucs Impressed with Fort McKenry

    Leroux Has New Pitch, Arm Slot This Year

  5. Naje says:

    Morton isn’t the only player that needs a good, old-fashioned chewing-out. He’s got to stand in line behind:

    –Garrett Jones… what an airhead on the basepaths. Like watching Cedeno from the early part of the season. Just really unfocused… like a lost little leaguer out there. That’s at least four terrible baserunning mistakes in the past month.

    –Lyle Overbay… dude, you’ve been a pro a long time. That double play swing looked like you were in an old-timer’s softball game. Wretched, unprofessional, weak. That’s not why you’re making 4+M this year.

    –Andrew McCutchen… Mr. Cool, you’re a great talent, but you’ve got to be a great talent all the time. Your lapses in the field get magnified when your pitcher is in trouble and the game’s in the balance. Lolly-gagging to a ball in the gap and allowing extra bases is something an All Star doesn’t do.

  6. Fat Jimmy says:

    Naje, I’ll add to your list:

    I want the coaching staff to take Chase D’arnaud out in the field before the game and make him throw 100 balls to first. Every time he throws a ball and his hand does not raise above his shoulder, he should be beaten over the head with a dead fish.

    I never thought I’d see the day when I longed for the return of Ronny Cedeno. My dislike of D’arnaud is palpable.

    And, Naje, you’re exactly right about McCutchen. He essentially made two errors in the 6th inning. For all of the angst about his All Star snub, it’s time that he starts harnessing his abilities to stop making those types of mistakes.

    Dejan’s prognostications on Morton notwithstanding (and, I’m like Foo, I thought he was dealing), if D’arnaud makes a routine play and McCutchen makes his catches, the 6th inning turns out completely different and who knows what happens from there.

  7. AJS says:

    I’m really concerned about Morton. I was only listening to the game last night for most of the first 5 innings and as soon as I heard the word “curve” being brought up over and over I knew that something very bad was going to go wrong very soon. I contended that if he would have kept throwing the 4 seamer last year then he would have half the ERA he had. But as soon as he gives up a hit or two he loses confidence in the fastball and starts throwing up that lollipop hook. And in his bad starts we’ve seen that start to happen again.

    And now he says he wishes he would have thrown less of the sinker in the 6th, based on the column by Starkey. He doesn’t think he is a two pitch pitcher. He’s right. He’s not. He’s a one pitch guy. Sinker. Period. Leave the deuce out of it. Four seamers and sinkers. That’s it. a steady dose. All night.

    All that said, it was the sinker that failed him last night. I felt like some of those pitches were well placed in on the hands and somehow they were fisting them the other way. That doesn’t happen very often.

  8. ddom says:

    Missed the game last night due to my son’s ballgame.

    @DK – I know you have discussed Morton’s use (or overuse) of his curve the past couple of starts. Do you know if anyone within the organization as discussed it with him? Does McKenry have a strong enough presence to get Morton to use his best stuff?

  9. Curt says:

    It always seems like Morton has that one inning where he just implodes. McDonald has that tendency as well but with walking people to create his own implosion.
    Although I wanted the sweep, winning series is what its about. With that said, I want a sweep of the Cubbies!

  10. buckeyehba says:

    Naje— I’ve said it before and I really am curious. I would venture that Jones IQ is not above average. He has got where he is on raw strength, but his decision making shows as being less than stellar.

  11. buckeyehba says:

    Can we put this All Star talk away with Cutch for now? I think he will be an All Star in the future, but not now. He needs to start hitting north of .300, and you can’t have a performance like last night. Not just one blunder, but two.

  12. Fat Jimmy says:

    I’m sorry. I really think Dejan is wrong about the curve. His curve was AWESOME last night! Last year, the curve got him into trouble because he couldn’t control it. He couldn’t throw it in a location that got people to swing and miss. He got a lot of swing and misses (including strikeouts) on the curve last night. I don’t see anything wrong with that.

  13. Naje says:

    Jimmy…. it will take 100 throws a day, at least 3 days a week for the rest of the season, to get d’Arnaud to shorten that long, looping delivery of his. It is quite correctable. He takes such a long time transferring the ball that he ends up rushing nearly every throw he makes. He can move very well, he can run like the wind, but he’s got to make his mechanics more efficient.

    And like you said, lots of practice will take care of that… not sure he’ll be able to do that with a regular spot in the lineup every day, but when Cedeno returns, Chase needs to really start working on correcting his throwing motion.

  14. Naje says:

    Jimmy — I think DK’s bigger point was the reliance on the curve, as in, he’s throwing it too much. Throwing that pitch too much gives hitters a chance to time it and rack it. It was nasty last night, but without a sinker, the curve can be hit if a batter is patient enough and that curve isn’t biting (like in the 6th inning).

  15. Fat Jimmy says:

    Naje, if you know of a site where we can see what pitches were hit last night, let me know and I’ll do the research. But, IMO, Morton’s curveball wasn’t getting hit in the 6th inning (or any inning) last night.

    Morton didn’t get beat in the 6th by a certain pitch, he got beat by lousy defense, lack of luck, and maybe a bit of failure on his own part to cowboy up and get past the bad d.

  16. JMB says:

    DK –

    I read thru Pirates Prospects that Josh Bell signed up for summer school at Texas. Does that make him a no longer sign-able ‘student’ now?

  17. ddom says:

    I’m really looking forward to the Pirates taking the next step to being a contender. But, lets be clear – they have not yet taken it. I agree with Fat Jimmy somewhat on how Morton got beat. The thing is, ALL pitchers will get beat like that from time to time. Playoff teams will still win half of those games. The Bucs have had some good hitting games lately. But to contend, THEY HAVE TO HIT WHEN TEAMS ARE HITTING THEM. Right now, they still aren’t winning games unless the get excellent pitching. They need the bats to push them to the next level and win at least some of the games where they do not have top notch pitching. Which takes us back to the buying a bat issue.

  18. Naje says:

    I’ll check, Jimmy… but “fangraphs” has some very detailed graphics about pitch location, speed at release/at plate, break of ball, etc… it’s too detailed for me to decipher all of it, but it’s pretty good stuff… for an engineer or physicist or those calculus students who understood that methodology. Me? I got luck in that class…good short-term memory.

    But you are correct about those pitches that got racked… every hit from the 2 thru 6 hitters–a triple, single, triple, double, single–were on sinkers. Just watched the video highlights from and they were flat, 90 or 91mph sinkers that didn’t move much.

  19. AJS says:

    Bell signing up for classes at Texas is certainly him following through on his intentions. The Pirates would have had to have offered him some major money to skip school and I don’t think there was ever a realistic chance that would happen. I still like the guts it took to give it a try and it will net them another pick next year so it was worth the risk, but I never thought they stood a chance at actually getting him in the fold.

    Walk and Nevritt made a good point last night about the length of time before the signing deadline. It really hurts the players more than anything. They can’t play any type of competetive baseball until they are signed. So that can be almost two months with no competition. They then have to work harder to get back and they miss out on Short Season. This essentially delas their progress by an entire year. If they sign earlier, get into short season, they make a pay check, prove themselves quicker, get to the pros faster and start making the big bucks faster. It gets them into free agency a year earlier in their career which gives them another year of big money in their prime. The counter argument of course is that if they never pan out then they are better off waiting and trying to get that big fat bonus check upon signing. But if the difference is only a couple million dollars they could easilly make that up by playing one year longer in their career.

  20. Vinqtin says:

    I was at the game last night and it looked to me like the error on D’Arnaud should’ve gone to Overbay. The throw looked a little high but very catchable and from my perspective, should have been caught. Overbay has got to see some more time on the bench. It was shown on the video screen that he’s played in 84 of the the team’s 87 games. I really don’t see where he’s making enough of a contribution at the plate or in the field to warrant that much time on the field. It’s time to explore other options. His backwards K in the ninth says it all.

    Cutch actually made three “errors”. He misplayed a very catchable line drive in the 2nd(?) into a base hit. Maybe the sun was in his eyes a bit but he ran back 15 feet and allowed the ball to drop 15 feet in front of him. It was very Milledge-esque.

  21. BenderHeel says:

    JMB and AJS: Just because Bell signed up or even attends classes doesn’t mean anything at all in terms of the Pirates ability to sign him. Nothing. He can attend classes; hell, he can even be practicing on the Longhorns field with their coaches. The Bucs can still swoop in by the signing deadline. It’s a one-way street in terms of amateurism; he can’t play college ball if he signs a contract, but even if he’s in college, the pro team – within the prescribed window – can still sign him. Alex Rodriguez is a case in point. He enrolled at UM to show Seattle how set he was on going the college route…until they ponied up enough money to sign him away.

    @DK or anyone else: So did Morton get all those early groundballs on curves or his sinker? Contrary to DK’s depiction, there were a lot of ground-outs early on by the Astros.

    That being said, I have to agree with DK regarding a pitcher’s reliance on a curveball because it only takes a slight mistake to cause damage. If that baby hangs, watch out. Contrast that with even a straight sinker; if the location is at least right, the speed and location might minimize the damage. But if you’re missing your sinker’s location AND hanging curves or just throwing too many curves, you’re going to get hit.

  22. Fat Jimmy says:

    Thanks Naje. That was my recollection, too. In fact, I recall Morton throwing two sinkers to the guy up after Bourne that registered 89 MPH on the Fox Sports feed. I think the curveball actually saved Morton last night, as his sinker didn’t have the speed or life it normally does. But that curve ball was awesome. It was just diving out of the zone and he had great command of it. Bob Walk made mention of it a couple times, too.

  23. SterlingCooperDraperPrice says:

    A lot of teeth-nashing going on over one game…

    I know that we’re winning, but we won’t win them all. All player will make mistakes on the basepaths, commit an error, throw up a gopher ball, etc.

    PLEASE, please don’t forget to enjoy this season.

  24. CDBrewer says:

    Beyond that, over .500 on July 7th AND we won the series!!
    We didn’t win too many series last year, and nobody sweeps with great regularity.

    I think we are losing perspective.
    Playoffs would be great, but more likely 83 wins, which NOBODY saw coming – and that is great too, for where we were.

  25. Naje says:

    @SCDP –

    Totally enjoying it… and loving the fact that all of those mistakes were made in one game. But the three major ones, Cutch’s somewhat cavalier efforts in the 6th inning, notwithstanding: Morton losing his sinker a bit, d’Arnaud’s throwing and Jones’ really poor base-running are all symptoms of problems that need attention.

    Loving what this team is doing… but it’s clear that Morton needs his sinker at 93+mph; it’s clear that d’Arnaud’s throwing mechanics need to be sharper and more consistent so his throws are consistently accurate; it’s clear that Jones’ base-running hurts the team quite a bit.

    Just pointing out that the margin for error for this team is still slight. Not nearly as slight as years past, but it’s still slight. They have to play the game well and correctly to give themselves a chance to win.

    But you’re right… one game. Get all the bugs out. Get the coaches on their backs. Let them enjoy the day off. Then come out and kick some Cubbie tail this weekend!

  26. AJS says:

    Totally enjoying this season. My wife is getting mad because I have baseball on all teh time. I told her it is better than any of the other crap they show during the summer. She says that is what Netflix is for.

    I think the error was definitely d’Arnauds. TV replay shwed Overpaid stretched as high as he could without jumping. Jumping would have caused him to leave the bag and Bourne would have been safe due to that. Whether the ball sails over Overpaid’s head or pulls him off the bag, either way the throw is what caused Bourne to be safe.

  27. Vinqtin says:

    Thanks for the clarification. It looked like it hit his glove so I thought he should have caught it. You are correct it all started with the bad throw. Overbay just looks like he doesn’t play with a lot of effort a la Adam LaRoche.

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