If you noticed on the NL Central standings widget on the right hand side of the blog, the Pittsburgh Baseball Club is now in first place. I hate to be one of “those guys” who are throwing water onto a feel good moment but if Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker don’t start hitting the offense will start to drop off a bit. Additionally, the starting pitching needs to get better in terms of innings pitched. The stat that I have seen recently is that the Pirates starting pitching has only pitched an average of 5.1 innings per start. That is tied for last with the Mets. (BTW, I’ll be going to the Pirates vs. Mets game on 5/9 and if you are interested in a ticket let me know I have one or two available.)
However I have a theory about the starting pitching. I think it will get better pretty soon. This doesn’t have to do with the potential arrival of Charlie Morton and Francisco Liriano. It has more to do with the quality of teams that the Pirates have been facing vs. will be facing.
I think that we can all agree that before the season started we were concerned about the schedule for April. It had a lot of quality teams on it and I think that we would have all signed on for .500 record at the end of the month. With the May schedule having the likes of the Mets, Mariners, Cubs, and Astros it wouldn’t surprise me if we start seeing the starting pitchers going later into games. Not only going later into games but giving what the Pirates consider a quality start.
I love a good conspiracy theory. Lucky for me Tom Singer has an interesting theory on his blog today. This one revolves around Jonathan Sanchez taking one for the team an getting suspended for six games as a result (Sanchez may be appealing the suspension).
According to Singer, since the Cardinals and Reds hit a lot of Pirates last season, the Pirates want to show that they are not going to be pushed around this season. This leads Singer to say:
Isn’t is reasonable to assume that in the typical pre-game skull session, Sanchez was encouraged to bust some hitters inside if he felt they were too comfortable? The Bucs didn’t mind, perhaps even planned, for Sanchez to take a bullet for them.
It is an interesting theory but I personally think that Occam’s Razor gives us a better explanation about what happened Friday night. Sanchez didn’t like that he gave up two home runs to start the first inning and decided to then start pitching inside. This seems to be the most likely scenario.
I know that the Phillies are pitching Cole Hamels tonight and he is tough on left-handed hitters, but is it really necessary to have Brandon Inge in the line-up?! This is one roster move I don’t understand and can’t justify.
Here is the rest of the line-up:
- Starling Marte, LF
- Jose Tabata, RF
- Andrew McCutchen, CF
- Gaby Sanchez, 1B
- Russell Martin, C
- Neil Walker, 2B
- Brandon Inge, 3B
- Clint Barmes, SS
- Locke, LHP
That was a fun home stand wasn’t it? Going 7-2 (with one game postponed)against some of the better teams in the league can do a lot for a team’s confidence (not to mention what it does for a fan’s confidence). The Pirates now embark on a tough road trip to Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Milwaukee. There were a lot of positives to about the home stand. Pedro starting to hit, Marte continuing to hit, Burnett and Rodriguez pitching, and the bull pen.
The big question is can the Pirates keep up how well they have been playing? Offensively and in the field I don’t see any reason why they can’t continue doing that they are doing. My main concern is the the starting pitch and how poor the starts have been. As a result of how poor the starts have been the bull pen is going to start getting worn down. Later in the season this won’t be good because the better pitchers won’t be as effective or available. A good discussion on the the use of the can be found on PirateProspects.
Another factor to consider about the starting rotation is Francisco Liriano, Charlie Morton, and Jeff Karstens should be ready to join it in a few weeks. This was the focus of Dejan Kovacevic’s column from today’s Tribune-Review. I agree with him that we can’t assume Liriano, Morton and Karstens are going to solve the problems of the starting rotation. They have been injured and nobody knows how they will be able to produce at the major league level. However, to assume that because Liriano had a bad start in a rehab game? I don’t think that makes sense. These games are, in essence, spring training games for them. Especially this early in the season they are just trying to get their stuff down. In his previous start, Liriano was good. Does that mean he’s going to be excellent? I don’t think so.
One final point about Gerrit Cole; with the control problems that he has shown so far this season at AAA, don’t you think he’d fit right in to the Pirate’s rotation?
I kid, I kid.
I know that the Pirates have not played a lot of game yet and it’s still early but here are a few items that I have noticed. Yes, it’s early and thing may (probably will) change.
*Russell Martin will make Rod Barajas look like Babe Ruth
*Mark Melancon is making everyone forget about Joel Hanrahan
*Hanrahan isn’t off to a good start. I hope that he is able to turn it around, he seems like a quality guy.
*That position change for Stetson Allie looks like a good move so far. Is it too early for a #freestetsonallie hashtag?
*Columnists that didn’t [like](http://communityvoices.post-gazette.com/sports/bob-smiziks-blog/35330-another-word-on-hanrahan-trade) trading Hanrahan aren’t looking to good right about now.
*Interesting tweet by Trib-Review’s Rob Biertempfel this week. As of four days ago the Pirates quality start percentage (22.2) was second-lowest in NL. I don’t know if anything has made it improve yet
*Gerrit Cole is making the decision to keep him at AAA an easy one
*With the way that the closers have their own entrance themes and videos it looks like their are coming out of the WWE. How long until they start cutting a promo before they enter the game?
Here is a round-up of of the game round ups from today’s débâcle in Arizona:
More to come as they are posted.
It’s just six games into a 162 game season and already the Pirate fans are getting ready to jump off the Roberto Clemente Bridge.
*Forget about the fact that so far the Pirates offense has started out pretty much the same as they did last year.
*Forget about some of the questionable the moves in the bullpen Hurdle has made already.
*Forget about certain columnists trying to troll bloggers about “the process” vs. “the results” (and yeah Dejean, I’m looking at you).
Repeat after me: It’s only six freakin’ games!!! Let’s give the team a month or a little more before we all just decide that the season is a complete bust. Lest you think that I’m being an optimist, a shill for the Pirates, or living in a fantasy world; I’m not. I just like a little bit more to go on than just roughly three percent of the season.
In some ways, this is where our modern world of blogs, twitter, and sports talk radio fails all of us. There is such a demand for instant analysis that every game becoming the be all and end all of the season.
Let’s just all take a step back from the ledge and let things breathe a little bit before we make any declarations.
Today the Pirates are in Los Angeles to play the free spending Dodgers. Taking the mound for the Pirates is Jonathan Sanchez and for the Dodgers it will be Zack Grenkie.
On the face of it, the matchup doesn’t look good for the Pirates. In fact, if you had Grenkie on your fantasy baseball this seems like a good game to start him. Especially with how the Pirates hit the past series. However, since they don’t play the games on paper we’ll see how the Pirates do with this start of a stretch of games against quality teams.
Now that the Pirates have lost two of three to the Cubs in the opening series, here are a few thoughts that I have from the series:
- The pitching was good
- The hitting was not
- It’s April (and it was cold in Da Burgh) and the first series so let’s no go crazy about either of these
- Andrew McCutchen is stealing a lot bases so far
- Some people are worried about the jumps he has been getting from First Base. I think that these things will even out. He’ll get good jumps and get thrown out some times; just like he’ll have bad jumps and steal the base
- Even if Hurdle manages every game like a complete sabermetrician, people will hate his decisions
- He was only in one game but, Grilli is wired
- Pirates now head to the west coast and have a tough batch of game coming up
By now many of you have read the article in the Tribune-Review where they interviewed a former minority partner of Bob Nutting’s ownership of the Pirates. It had a lot of interesting points. May of which were covered by Charlie’s post at Bucs Dugout. I thought that the post hit a lot of the points I would have made. However I believe that it missed on one point, the minority owners had an exit strategy that Nutting didn’t believe in; namely that they should sell the team and make a profit and call it a day. In my opinion here is the main part of the interview:
“Absolutely. I’ve talked to him several times and tried to convince him that now is the time to sell to a multi-billionaire who is willing to come in here and spend more money and see if he can make the Pirates win.” “Last fall I finally realized that what I wanted wasn’t going to happen. So I got out”
Now that the finances are sound they wanted to sell the team, make the profit and get the heck out of Dodge. There is nothing wrong with a strategy like that. It is very common in the business world and I think that many Pirate fans would have liked that to have happened. However, Nutting has a different view and being the majority shareholder of the Pirates is allowed to execute as he sees fit. I know that his plan is not what a lot of Pirate fans want, but I do believe that he wants the Pirates to be successful but on his terms. The fact that he is taking whatever profit there may be and then putting it back into the team is indicative of that fact.