Understanding of the mystery of Marlon Byrd’s breakout and how it might help Garrett Jones

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PNC PARK – When a 36-year-old goes from rock bottom to career year, it raises eyebrows. Marlon Byrd understands this.

 

Not only has Byrd hit a career-best 22 home runs this season and is boasting a career-high slugging mark, but according to hittracker.com, Byrd’s average home run distance of 412.2 feet is the seventh longest average in baseball.

 

The names before him on the list?

Continue reading Understanding of the mystery of Marlon Byrd’s breakout and how it might help Garrett Jones

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What to do with Jeff Locke? Burnett mum on future. And what to do about the Pirates’ 2014 rotation?

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SOUTH HILLS COMMAND CENTER –  Jeff Locke was never a lock to make his next scheduled start, Sunday, for the Pirates.

 

You’re probably aware his struggles. Locke has a 6.18 ERA in the second half of the season, after posting a 2.15 mark in the first.

 

You might be aware of his walk rate by month: 3.31 May, 4.18 June, 5.22 July 6.3 August.

Continue reading What to do with Jeff Locke? Burnett mum on future. And what to do about the Pirates’ 2014 rotation?

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Transaction analysis: Pirates land Byrd and a no-brainer deal

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SOUTH HILLS COMMAND CENTER – It’s not like there wasn’t a cost. Dilson Herrera is a fine prospect. He has the potential to have an above-average bat at an up-the-middle position, probably second base. He was likely to crack top 10 Pirates prospect lists in a deep system this offseason.

 

But this deal  – the Mets sending Marlon Byrd, John Buck and cash to the Pirates  for Herrera and a PTBNL –  is a no-brainer of a transaction.

 

Herrera might help in 2016. The Pirates needed help in 2013. And they got help Tuesday.

Continue reading Transaction analysis: Pirates land Byrd and a no-brainer deal

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Monday Morning Mop-Up Duty: reaching a plateau

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SAN FRANCISCO – The Pirates aren’t collapsing.

 

They are six wins from 82. They’re coming off a West Coast road trip where they have won more than they lost. And they’re 98 percent likely to be playing in at least the wild card game. But they’re increasingly playing like a team that’s not going to win its division.

 

No, they’re not collapsing – they’re plateauing.

Continue reading Monday Morning Mop-Up Duty: reaching a plateau

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The curious case of the Pirates’ bats and the Pacific rim

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SAN FRANCISCO – Clint Hurdle rejected my hypothesis.

 

Pedro Alvarez did the same. And Josh Harrison also shook his head in disagreement.

 

Still, I’m buying my own theory and it goes something like this:

 

The worst offensive environments in baseball have helped the Pirates’ offensive approach.

 

Continue reading The curious case of the Pirates’ bats and the Pacific rim

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Gerrit Cole’s balancing acts

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SAN DIEGO – Most 22-year-olds are still in early chapters of professional development. They are developing in chosen careers. They are perhaps developing as seniors at universities. They are interns. They are fetching coffee. They are in grad school. Something like that.

 

Pirates rookie is Gerrit Cole is still developing in his chosen line of work, too.

 

The fastball command is still a work in progress. He left too many fastballs up, too many two-seamers running back over the plate in allowing 10 hits to the Padres in a 2-1 loss Wednesday.

 

Continue reading Gerrit Cole’s balancing acts

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Francisco Liriano’s new label: staff ace … And is Liriano the best free agent signing of the offseason? (yes)

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SAN DIEGO – If you are thinking about holiday gift ideas for Clint Hurdle, I’d stay away from label makers.

 

I asked the Pirates manager after Francisco Liriano’s stellar 13-strikeout performance Monday if Liriano had done enough to earn designation as a No. 1 starter, as an ace.

 

“I’m not big on labels,” Hurdle said. “You guys are big on labels I’ll let you put whatever label you want on him.”

Continue reading Francisco Liriano’s new label: staff ace … And is Liriano the best free agent signing of the offseason? (yes)

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Jeff Locke’s Great Regression

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PNC PARK – Jeff Locke was an All-Star. Now you wonder if he’ll be in the playoff rotation, assuming the Pirates make the postseason.

 

That’s quite a potential fall.

 

The statistical community long predicted Locke was a prime candidate for serious regression when he was boasting a near sub 2.00 for much of the first half of the season. Analysts noted Locke’s ERA was likely not sustainable due to his lacking strikeout rate and middling walk rate. The prediction was his ERA would soon resemble his fielding-independent ability (FIP). He’s getting there as his ERA is now 2.90, rising nearly a run since the break, and his FIP rests at 3.85.

Continue reading Jeff Locke’s Great Regression

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