Kip Wells.. 2.1 innings, 6 hits, 7 runs, and 2 HR allowed, including one to ex-Bucco Chris Shelton. His ERA is now higher than the entire four pitchers in the rotation.. combined. His command was better but his pitches flat.. lifeless.. typical Kip Wells without the nibbling.
The pen backed him throwing one-hit shutout ball over 6.2 innings despite six walks, four of which were wildly provided by Bayliss in his Pirate debut, two wild pitches where runners advanced and three additional pitches thrown over Tiger batter heads or off Paulino’s shin guard, or wildly heaved five feet off the plate.. all thanks to Bayliss. The bottom line was, he got out of his jams and put goose eggs up over 2.2 innings and that’s all that matters, but it is clear Tracy must consider this kid his new mop up man because that is about how bad his command was.
Offensively, it was nice to see Sean Casey back in the lineup and he contributed with a first inning sac fly to put us ahead and then a 5th inning two rbi single past Shelton. Jack Wilson got an rbi with a little groundball out with the bases full in the 5th, and Jose Bautista provided most of the night’s excitement going 2-4 with three runs scored including a home run and a triple. Bautista was also hit in the hand while bunting in the 9th and we’ll have to see if that ends up putting him on the pine for a couple of days or not.
And, believe it or not, Jason Bay stood at the plate in the 9th inning for the second time in three days with the potential tying run in scoring position and the winning run at 1B and failed. Looks like it is 6 hole time again for Mr. Bay.
Defensively, aside from the 5 or 7 or 9 balls that went passed Paulino or bounced out of his glove and away from the plate (I stopped keeping track it was so ridiculous), we actually looked respectable on the field, including Jack Wilson who handled a few hot shots. Even AAA vet Mike Edwards handled a couple of shots at the hot corner.
I’m sure Jim Leyland told his club that these Pirates would be gunning for them and they were.. the mindset was there tonight that they could come back down 5 and they did. It was just unfortunate that Kip Wells was allowed to stay in as long as he was and the game got so far out of hand so quickly. I thought it was pretty obvious that Kip wasn’t fooling anyone at all. In fact, the Tigers only had 9% called strikes with Kip on the mound and an amazing 36% of all the pitches he threw were fouled off, showing the Tigers were right on him.
In contrast, Tiger batters only fouled off 13% of our reliever’s pitches and 13% of all pitches they saw were called strikes – a significant difference. Again, it was a shame Tracy let Kip stay on the mound after he opened the third giving up a single, then hit a batter, then threw a wild pitch (which was a passed ball as it bounced right in front of Paulino and went between his legs).
The WP allowed the two runners to get into scoring position and Pudge hammered a liner right at Hernandez playing RF who made a great play to hold the runners. Ordonez then singled home a run and Guillen’s tripled into the notch to score yet two more. Tracy then finally took the long run to the mound to yank Kip and bring in Bayliss who struck out Thames for the second out with Guillen at 3B, and then promptly threw a wild pitch allowing him to score. Of course, that run was charged to Kip (the rules need to be changed on that type of run scored).
It was nice to see us battle back against the second best pen in baseball. But, again, we simply weren’t clutch. We had a lot more opportunities than the scorecard shows as we went just 2-9 with men in scoring position plus a sac fly and a batter hit by a pitch. Out of the two AB hits with runners in scoring position, only Casey’s single scored any runs. So we are still not very clutch. Right Mr. Bay? *ouch*
The Tigers brought in this 21-year old reliever by the name of Zumaya who was throwing consistent 100 mph heat at us, according to PNC’s stadium gun.
I was surprised to see Leyland put him in the game because we are a pretty good fastball hitting club — even at 100 mph. This kid’s heater not only was fast, not only could he spot it perfectly, but it also had late movement which seemed to dip just a tad.
PNC’s stadium gun had him throwing a 101 mph pitch at Casey in the frame above but, as we all know, PNC’s gun is off by about 3 mph so I would guess he was about 98.. which is still dang fast. Every Pirate batter but Bay put the ball in play on him and Hernandez even stroked an rbi triple into RF, so he wasn’t fooling anyone. But remember this kid’s name.. whew.. he will be one heck of a closer if he ever learns how to improve his little league hook.
Tough to lose another one-run game, especially to the Tigers. It is even more of a heartbreak the fact Kenny Rogers was their starter. Arrrgggghhhh!
– tidbits –
Nice to see Leyland and his black-n-gold entourage back in Pittsburgh, even if they were on the other side of the diamond.
Pirate batters who have led off any inning in all games this year through 6/29/06 have K’d 20.1% of the time in their at bat. The league average in 2006 is 17.5% so far. That’s a lot of K’s and something that is hurting us bad.
If you look at all MLB teams this year and normalize the inning led off at bats to league average, then normalize walks and strikeouts the same way, the top five teams with the lowest BB/K rate leading off an inning are playing .518 baseball… the bottom five are playing .478 baseball.
So to be more competitive in this one aspect of the game, we either need to increase our inning leadoff walks or decrease our K’s.
I have had a lot of people asking me what I thought about the Post-Gazette’s Report Card in today’s paper. I just don’t see anyway possible to properly evaluate this team and the coaches with all the noise contributing to this year’s play. First of all, we have a brand new manager who has implemented a new system and, not only is it unrealistic to measure his performance over 81 games, it is foolish to do so. Secondly, was the Report Card grading the players or the positions? I was very confused reading the article, to be honest.
With Casey being hurt, Kip getting hurt, Randa getting hurt, a new catcher learning OJT, a new rookie rotation, and so on, and so forth, it is silly to gauge anyone’s performance.. yet. I think the article was written to appease the masses more than for any real value, imo.
DL Watch: 2-15 since Littlefield announced June 12th he was a seller this year.
CS Watch: 17.4% of all pitches tonight were called strikes – again, way too high.
Click the play button to see Freddy’s HR
How fitting it was that one of the few guys in the Pirates dugout this year that has continued to believe in himself was the guy who ended the 13 game losing streak – Freddy Sanchez.
While some of the regular players on the roster whined and complained around him this last week, and the fans and media whipped up a whining campaign louder than the players, Freddy kept believing and he rewarded all of the whiners around him with a walk off HR in the 9th inning to win the game.
It’s all about the mindset.. you have to believe in yourself first. Now maybe Jason Bay and Jack Wilson and some of the other recent outspoken critics will shut up, get some balls, and start believing in their own abilities, as well as the abilities of those around them, instead of biatching about everything.
You have to love the fact this team acts like it just won the world series every time it wins a game anymore. It’s hilarious to watch. I mean, after losing every single game for two weeks, you would think they would mostly be holding their heads down low and walking off the field a bit embarrassed by it all. But not these guys.. they want to party like it is 1969. That’s really kewl.
Contreras really didn’t look sharp at all today and it makes you wonder how this guy has won so many games this year. Can I hear you say ‘overrated’? I saw his stats since he came off the DL and he could have lost just as many as he has won.
Duke pitched an acceptable game after getting through the typical 1st inning blues he routinely faces. A walk here, a couple of seeing eye ground balls there, a laced liner in between it all and they scored a few runs. Freddy had a hard time on one play, a few rough routes were taken in the outfield, and we had a few other assorted miscues and allowances, but overall we weren’t a disgrace on the field defensively as we have been at times.
Hernandez giving up the bomb to Thome was almost textbook.. you could just feel the momentum shift when Macko singled. I was surprised Tracy didn’t feel it too and pull out Hernandez and put in Marte when Thome was announced because Thome has never gotten a hit off Marte where he has hit Hernandez at a .287 clip. Another slow hook by Tracy today and this one I will cast the doubt on Tracy because Hernandez doesn’t need to develop like Maholm did last night.
And how about ballsy Mike Gonzalez almost blowing the game again in the 9th with 2 walks? Man.. we need a closer that can throw strikes and get outs.. BAD!
– tidbits –
I see Perez was sent to Indy and Gorzy called up to pitch Saturday night. Good luck Tom. As I said the other day, I’m not so sure the timing is right for Gorzy to be brought up with the mess we have right now – especially starting his second career game in the bigs against a team like the Tigers. Whew.. talk about the assignment from he||. But there is a silver lining.. the Tigers simply don’t hit lefty hand pitching very well and with very little film out on Gorzy, he should do pretty well if he doesn’t implode from nerves from the call up.
DL Watch: 2-14 since DL announced he is a seller June 12th.
CS Watch: 15.9% called strikes today of all pitches Pirate batters saw. MUCH better!! Still about 1% high, but still coming down! Interestingly, the White Sox had a 17.7% CS rate today up from their 14.8% rate Wednesday (which is just above league average) and their unbelievable 10.7% rate Tuesday, and one of the contributing factors why they lost today’s game in the end.
Kudos to Paul Maholm for pitching a great game today. For a 24-year old kid who started off the year with the least amount of innings pitched of all Pirates starters, and a guy who shouldn’t have even be in the rotation this year, Maholm has really come a long way.
Statistically, Paul Maholm has received the least run support from his teammates in games he has pitched this year, his leverage index tells us he has faced the second hardest opposing team lineups this year of all Pirate starters and the third hardest in the NLCD of all qualified starters (Snell is 2cd, Doug Davis of the Brewers is 1st), and he has only allowed a .232 BA to opposing batters with runners in scoring position.
Simply put, Paul Maholm is gold and you could see why tonight as he took a three-hit shutout into the 7th inning against one of the hottest teams in baseball.
Sure, Maholm gave up 4 runs in the 7th, but considering he was on the pine for an extended Pirates 6th inning and the fact he had a 20 pitch 6th which included walking a batter, and then gave up two sharp singles to start the 7th, maybe Jim Tracy could have used his hook a little faster than he did to salvage the inning?
Let’s be serious here – this team is going to lose 100 games whether Tracy pulls Maholm there or not so why not let the young pitcher try to work through it so he continues to mature?
Ok.. I hear all you ‘irate’ fans.. you want to see wins. You want Cuban to save the day, you want to see Pirate batters mashing like the glory lumber company days, and you want to see the jolly roger flying every night. That’s understandable.
Give it time.
There is hope in Pittsburgh and Maholm, for one, is proving it. Ok.. we have a lot of needs but the very first player need we have is to develop quality pitching. The very first front office need we have is to see Kevin McClatchy boot David Littlefield out the door, sooner than later.
Yes, losing thirteen straight games over two weeks really stinks and is a testament to how young and immature our team really is, and that is a direct reflection on how poor Littlefield did constructing his roster.
But we have what we wanted as fans.. the kids are playing. They are just getting beat day-in and day-out.
Defensively, we held up tonight and even made a number of outstanding plays behind Maholm. Freddy Sanchez should be given kudos for a job well done at 3B for at least three very good plays he turned, Jose Bautista made a couple of nice catches in CF, and even flat footed Jeromy Burnitz made a nice play. Essentially, Maholm seemed to pitch to keep the ball away from Jack Wilson and Jose Castillo and it worked. hehe.. just kidding. But it was an uncharacteristic night for Maholm as he got 10 of his 18 outs on fly balls when he typically gets 2 ground ball outs to every fly ball out.
Offensively, we went 1-5 with a walk and an intentional walk given with runners in scoring position, which won’t win many ballgames. We also saw 16.5% of all pitches go as called strikes which is still too high. Everybody is struggling at the plate except Freddy. Occasionally another batter will chip in with an extra base hit or a home run, but there is very little movement of base runners. We are as flat as flat can get.
– tidbits –
I’m not in favor of Jack Wilson leading off with Bautista hitting just .226 right behind him. My research on Jack’s career hitting pretty much indicates Jack has to have some protection right behind him or he will not hit well. Not only that, Jack had the 4th worst batting average on bunts in MLB starting off this year. Jack’s forte is moving runners with bat control.. not leading off innings.
I assume Jim Tracy made the move to try and get Jose Bautista’s batteries charged so he can be moved back into the leadoff spot, but then I discounted that because we are so close to the mid-season break. I guess Tracy is going to test Jack there until the break to see if he can get going, but I wouldn’t count on it. Hurry back Duff!
How about Ollie chillin?
Maybe we all need to pitch in and get him a Lazyboy recliner?
The PG had a piece on Ollie today stating something to the fact that Ollie seemed ok with the demotion and he wants to get back into the rotation by working hard.
Good for you Ollie. We want that too.
Sean Casey was out of the lineup today with a jammed shoulder or a rotator cuff contusion, depending on who you want to believe. I saw the tag out he made over and over and I have to tell you, I really question his health for being listed day-to-day over something as trivial as a diving tag out. I have to believe anything that will put him on the bench while his back heals is ok with Dave Littlefield.
Craig Wilson left the game tonight after a wild tag he made that looked during the game like he might have broke his wrist on. The org said he has a ‘left forearm contusion’ and is also listed day-to-day. That seems like a strange diagnosis for a guy who was holding his wrist in pure pain after the play, so we all hope Craig is ok. I guess that means we’ll see plenty of K’ernandez at 1B the next few games.
DL Watch: Pirates are 1-14 since Littlefield’s June 12th announcement he is a seller this year.
CS Watch: 16.5% called strikes today which was much better, but still high.
Lost in all the negative media surrounding the Pirates 12th straight loss was Ian Snell’s wonderful performance last night. Not only did he hold the White Sox to just three runs over his five innings of work, he was only the third pitcher to accomplish that against the Sox since June 13th when they took off on their unbelievable 12-2 run while scoring an average of 8.3 runs per game.
That’s pretty impressive.
And just think..
– if Ronny Paulino hadn’t dropped Ian’s eighth pitch into the game while Podsednik was stealing second base, maybe Paulino could have thrown him out for the first out in the inning and he never would have scored?
– if Jose had actually put his glove on Thome’s grounder in the first as it went bouncing by him into center, maybe that would have been the second out and left Iguchi at 2B when Dye came up who flied out.. for what could have been the third out?
– if Jack Wilson had handled Pierzynski’s sharp first inning groundball hit at him, like most major league shortstops who are getting paid millions of dollars to play baseball do, instead of trying to field it off the side of his body like he was too concerned about the possibility of being charged with an error if he muffed it, the Sox might not have scored any runs in the first inning at all, if also coupled with a little luck on Paulino throwing out Podsednik.
– if Joe Randa’s pitch hit fly ball traveled maybe ten feet further he would have had a grand slam in the 5th inning and, all things considered equal, the Pirates would have won the game.
If, if, if, if..
The Pirates had opportunities to score more runs as we went 0-5 with men in scoring position. So we had a chance here and there.. we just didn’t execute.
You have to start wondering if it is lady luck killing us or the baseball Gods? Probably a little of both, huh? Who once said you have to make your own luck?
Speaking of lady luck and baseball Gods, where in the world is Kevin McClatchy these days? I haven’t seen him at a Pirates game in his usual seat since way back in the middle of the month.
Hiding? Busy with new interests? Hmm.. nice to see he is out rooting for his team to break their slump. Just kidding, of course. Knowing Kevin attends almost every game he can, I just hope all is well.
Tomorrow is another day.
– tidbits –
How ironic is it that the last time the Pirates franchise lost 12 straight games they were handed that 12th loss by another Chicago baseball team.. the Cubs at old Forbes Field. In fact, it happened on August 20, 1939, just 10 days before Hitler invaded Poland that triggered WWII. The only other time this franchise had lost 12 straight was in 1914 and just a month into WWI. Scary, huh? Do-do-doo-dooo..
Oliver Perez was demoted to the pen today because of inconsistency. So much for the Posse de Perez kids, huh? What a shame.. I was really beginning to believe again with their spirit. But Perez won’t be there long.. mark my words.
Ryan Vogelsong was designated for assignment today meaning the club will have to trade him or release him here shortly. Bob Walk made a very humble statement about Ryan’s DFA today and you can listen to it here if you have Windows Media Player: Walk on Vogelsong. It was well known that Ryan Vogelsong was not a pet of Dave Littlefield so this was not an unexpected move. The Rays had an interest in Ryan last year and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them jump on him now. Vogelsong will catch a ride and he will pitch well somewhere else. Good luck Ryan.
DL Watch: The Pirates are 1-13 since David Littlefield’s June 12th announcement he is a seller this year.
CS Watch: 18.5% of all pitches thrown at Pirate batters were taken as called strikes again tonight.
Remember this 2005 Goose Goslin statement:
"Those guys you see masquerading in Pirates’ uniforms these days are not really the guys representing the tradition of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Rather, they are the Unacceptables.
The Goose was right and it still holds true today.. these players are the Unacceptables. But is it all the player’s fault, as Jim Tracy has recently led us all to believe, or is there more to it all?
It is impossible to build a house on a jello foundation. In the Pirates case, the jello foundation is the years and years of organizational mismanagement coupled with a business model structured to reward owners bent on financial gain and not winning. This aspect has been written about from Pappas to Brown, from Zimbalist to Gammons, so I won’t spend any time debating it today.
Instead, since the players are openly calling for changes, I thought I would put a few proposals on the table for the Pirates to consider. It won’t make them winners tomorrow, but it just might guide them toward a more competitive future.
Here are the changes/ideas I propose in order of importance:
Ownership. Commitment to Excellence is a phrase coined by IBM years ago and written about by many authors. It means just what is sounds like – you have to commit to excel. That *has* to start with the owners and nobody is going to buy into anything unless the owners buy into it first.
I’m not going to call for new owners because it is quite obvious those we have are going to manage a financially sound ship and I like that. But they do have to grow some balls as a group.
The business they own is a professional sports team and its market is driven by competition, not bobblehead giveaways. Until the owners settle their own unrest (ie: is McClatchy staying or leaving? Is Robert Nutting taking control or not? Is Beaver and the Brenners staying or leaving? Why hasn’t Mr. Brooks, Ms Means, the **** boys, and the Adams kids, as some of the local owners, become more vocal? etc..), they can’t expect any of the players or the fans to commit to excellence.
Simply put, the instability of this ownership group has created the nightmare and its CEO looks the part, talks the part, acts the part, but thinks in an entirely different realm than of committing to excellence.
I respect the ability of a corporate entity to have its privacy and its own goals. I don’t even mind the business model they have chosen. All that is fine.
What I don’t accept as a fan is that they have allowed the ship to sink while being mismanaged, especially when that ship was here long before they came to be as a group and will be here long after they have left with their millions in profit – whether the ship is still on the bottom to be salvaged or not.
Lets not beat around the bush – what the current ownership group is doing is taking the shine off a once proud organization so that they may enrich themselves. The problem with that is that the majority owners are not from the Pittsburgh area — they are outsiders, and the Pittsburgh good ole’ boy system is allowing them to do this, which is another thing I can’t understand.
Kevin McClatchy has hoodwinked the City of Pittsburgh and its fan base ever since he started the ‘I will move the team is X isn’t done’ routine in 1997. He has been allowed to discharge notes if conditions were met, he has been given an additional loan, he had a stadium built against the taxpayer’s desire, and now he pushes an inferior product on the field so he may increase his portfolio. As my grandfather would say, he is like a city boy who used slick words to take advantage of a good community that wanted to help him, as he helped them.
I have asked some of the business owners in Pittsburgh how they felt about the Pirates business model and whether they are better off today than they were in 1997. Some refused to answer because McClatchy’s reach has become ‘too long’, as one said. Those that did answer generally stated that they had been under the impression that attendance would have been significantly higher over the last five years and, as a direct result of the lower figures, some businesses may have had to shut their doors.
These same folks point to other tax related community services having to shut down like libraries and community swimming pools, stating that if the Pirates, along with other corporate entities that had been given loans by the URA years ago had paid back their debt instead of being allowed to walk away from them, many of the services wouldn’t have had to shut down.
A few other business owners in the District said not much has really changed. There has been growth in a City that faced financial hardships but much of that growth could also be attributed to a better economy.. not the Pirates. Many in this group were clear to say that they didn’t feel the Pirates business model hurt them and that the Pirates have been a good corporate citizen in the community. At the same time, most agreed they could have been helped more with a competitive team that drew more fans downtown. This is the group that seemed to fear the 2007 – 2010 Pirates could be a disaster waiting to happen for downtown businesses.
There are always two sides to a coin and whether the Pirates business model has helped or hurt the City since McClatchy bought the team is something Carnegie would have to research. I don’t know the answer. But I do know that until the ownership group stands on its hind legs and commits toward a competitive future on the ball field, nothing else will even matter to the fans who pay their bills.
Management. With all the failures David Littlefield has experienced as General Manager of the Pirates, you have to really question the ownership’s motivation in signing him to a contract extension in 2006. In fact, you have to question how he even remains employed.
I’m not going to sit here and state all of the obvious Littlefield shortcomings – Littlefield has simply failed. Whether a majority of the blame can be cast on the disjointed ownership group through the years or not, only the owners know. But if the owners have any intention of salvaging the sunk Pirates ship, it has to start with replacing David Littlefield as his welcome mat has worn through much the same as Lloyd McClendon’s had and Kevin McClatchy’s is.
Littlefield lost control of the team two years ago, he has lost control of the farm now, and he continues to plan poorly, imo. It has gotten to the point where coaches in the farm now question his moves, players openly talk to the media about his failures, and few in the industry respect his position nor want to deal with him.
I suspect that the ownership group will use David Littlefield as their scapegoat if they continue to push a non-competitive, maximum profit, business model and want the fans to feel a sense of new found hope so they buy tickets for 2007.
In fact, I expect this to happen after the All-Star game and I propose this was the reason Littlefield was given a contract extension – he knows it too. After all, that has been the Pirates ownership group’s MO – put false hope in the fans and they will keep walking the bridge.. competitive or not. The only hope the owners have left to throw at the fans is to replace the GM.
The rest of the proposals below relate to the current roster:
Catcher. Baseball teams typically either feature a hitting catcher or a defensive catcher. Rarely does a team have a catcher that does both well like Ivan Rodriguez is doing for the Tigers this year or Paul Lo Duca is doing for the Mets. Every catcher has at least one flaw unless they are a Johnny Bench — most have three or more flaws.
Organizational needs should dictate the type of catcher a team does feature. For instance, when you have five starting pitchers who are pretty much all very experienced like the Mets have this year, organizational need might be to obtain more offense than defense from the position. In this case, a pitcher’s reputation like a Tom Glavine can assist him getting borderline calls from the home plate umps that he sees, his experience will help him keep base runners closer to the bag, and he can call game management pretty much on his own knowing the batters he is facing and the umpires and strike zones he is seeing.
However, when you have five starting pitchers who are all young and inexperienced, typically the organizational need will be for an experienced receiver — a pro, if you will — to assist the coaches and pitchers with game management and development. In this case, the catcher’s reputation and rapport with the home plate umps will have to assist the starting pitchers on getting borderline calls, he will assist the pitchers and coaches with game management, as well as holding runners.
A catcher is the last position to make it to the bigs because of the amount of time it takes to develop them. Not only is it a hard position to learn, what makes it even harder is mastering game management skills.
The Pirates stated organizational needs are two-fold.. one, they must continue to develop their young pitchers in-game and, two, they are trying to develop an inexperienced catcher at the same time. Baseball 101 states that when you put an inexperienced catcher behind the plate with inexperienced pitchers on the mound, 90% of the time the end result will be disaster, and that’s exactly what we have seen.
The Pirates pitching staff consists of mostly command and control pitchers. Zach Duke, for instance, allowed only 1.5 walks per game through his entire minor league career. But in 2006, he is now allowing 2.2 walks per game. Another example is Paul Maholm who averaged 1.8 walks per game in his minor league games and is now up to 3.5 in 2006.
In 2006, the Pirates went to Ronny Paulino as their primary catcher in-year despite the fact he only caught 77 games at the AAA level. How did that hurt the young pitchers?
For one, with an inexperienced catcher behind the plate our pitchers have had to alter their own game management because they have learned that home plate umpires are not giving close strikes to them. Another reason is the number of passed balls Paulino has allowed (5th highest of all qualified catchers) and the rising number of wild pitches being called on them (now 11th highest and just a couple short of being 5th highest) — they don’t trust him enough. And lastly, Paulino isn’t calling game management to the defensive schemes the dugout calls. Simply put, he is learning on the job too.
Let me show you a better example.. in the last 30 days of play, the five MLB teams with the lowest K/BB ratio are, in order from lowest to highest: Royals, Braves, Devil Rays, Pirates and Nats. By itself, that stat is meaningless because these five teams might all feature low strikeout pitchers.. in fact, three of them do. But surprise.. the Pirates have the 12th best K/9 rate in baseball so clearly something else is wrong in the Pirates case.
Taking that one step further is the fact that all five of those teams either feature rookie catchers or backup catchers. Not one of them has an experienced MLB catcher behind the plate unless you consider Brian Schneider to be one, which I don’t.
Another revealing stat is the number of pitches thrown per plate appearance. When a staff is giving up a lot of walks this stat typically skyrockets but the Pirates have the 12th best at 3.77.
Catchers have to earn their reputation in the major leagues with umpires. After all, the umps are being measured on their performance just as the players are. Few umpires see every pitch of every game like fans think they do. They rely on the catcher to help them just as much as the catcher relies on the umpire to help them get close calls. When a Bengie Molina frames a pitch and holds it, he is going to get that called a strike more often than not because of his reputation. Ronny Paulino is an inexperienced receiver who attempts to frame 15%+ of the pitches during any given game and umpires get tired of seeing a catcher’s mitt waive all the time.
Pittsburgh Pirates General Manager David Littlefield made the decision to advance Paulino to the role of starting catcher before he was ready and then did it after the season began which complicated things even further. The net result has been a high number of wild pitches, a high number of passed balls, fewer close strikes being called in favor of our pitchers, and forcing game management skills to the pitcher instead of the battery.
When I say ‘forcing game management skills to the pitcher instead of the battery’ I mean that typically a catcher will determine the home plate umps strike zone in the first few batters but Paulino has not mastered that skill very well yet so our pitchers are having to try and do it; I mean Paulino doesn’t have a rapport with the umpires and neither do the pitchers so for our pitchers to get a strike called, the ball has to be put into a 17" wide box instead of a 19" box meaning more balls put in play are going to be hit harder because they are typically closer to the batter’s sweet spot; .. these are just some examples.
Conclusion. David Littlefield needs to deal for a solid MLB catcher he can keep on the roster a year or two and either send Paulino down to AAA and hire a pro to work with him daily if he is the Pirates receiver of the future, or find Ronny another spot to play like RF, which is what I would do if he could play there. If Littlefield fails to do this, the continued result will be that we see less strikes on average, harder hit balls put in play, and more losses.
Defense. If Littlefield finds a true MLB catcher, the Pirates need for a significant better defense won’t be as necessary because there will be fewer balls in play, fewer of those will be hammered, and our pitchers will be pitching to our defensive schemes more often than not.
But don’t get me wrong, the 2006 Pirates field one of the poorest defensive teams that I have seen in my 40+ years as a fan. Some of the blame can be placed on the players sitting back on their heels because our battery can’t get strikes keeping the game in fluid motion. Part of the blame can be placed on our manager Jim Tracy who is determined to put on the field a hitting lineup instead of a defensive lineup. Part of the blame can be cast on David Littlefield for refusing to move poor defensive players to other positions they might be able to play successfully. Part of the blame can be cast on lack of advance scouting over the last few years and our coaching staff not being properly prepared to defend against particular batters, especially with inexperienced pitchers. And, part of the blame can be placed on all the hammered balls in play with Paulino behind the plate.
But most of the blame goes to the players.. they have simply failed to do an adequate job fielding the ball as a team this year. From incomplete double plays to double clutching to misplayed balls to missing simple grounders to poor routes to passed balls to miscues and fumbles to throwing to the wrong base.. the list goes on and on. You name it and we’ve done it.. over and over and over again. And, that is the sad part.. it continues on a daily basis.
Small market teams need to maximize the assets they do have. One example is Jason Bay. Every team in baseball knows they can typically take an extra base on him because Bay has a below average arm and runs lazy routes.. the same is true with Nate McLouth. That one fact has cost us three wins this year alone.. maybe much more considering all the one run games.
Why not consider moving Bay to 1B and remove his defensive liabilities from the game card? This assumes he can play the position, of course. Left field at PNC needs a speedier outfielder with a cannon arm anyway.. Bautista might be able to fill that role. He certainly runs decent routes for the most part, he has a cannon arm few teams will run frequently on, and he has as much speed as Bay, if not more.
Why not move Paulino to RF (again assuming he can play there)? He also has a cannon arm. I understand he is slow but so is Burnitz. Many RF are.
Why not consider Sanchez in CF?
It doesn’t require game changes right now.. all it takes is having Bay take some grounders pre-game to see if he can handle it. Send Paulino and Sanchez out to CF and let them take some fly balls during pre-game. Coach them.. test them. At least try.. what can we possibly lose considering we are -50 runs defensively this year already anyway?
I understand the mentality that as long as Sanchez is carrying the club with his high batting average, why make any changes? But that argument fails because Freddy’s carrying the club offensively is being hurt just as much by his inability to play solid defense in the infield. The end result is we are losing either way.
Ok.. I hear all the Freddy lovers saying his play at 3B has been above average.. but I disagree and we’ll just have to agree to disagree. Watch Joe Randa for a few weeks at the hot corner and you’ll see good D, even with his advanced age. My point really isn’t that Freddy can’t play 3B because if he continues to wail the ball at a .300+ clip, the errors he does make on the corner can be absorbed. But we really need more power from that position *if* we can get it. Plus, we don’t have a CF leadoff guy.. maybe Freddy can fill the role? These are just a couple of ideas.
The Pirates front office has been inflexible to test changes it seems. Part of the problem with that is David Littlefield is a poor talent evaluator. He might be the best scout on the planet but his management of players through evaluation is one of the poorest in the game.
Conclusion. Is Castillo better placed at 3B? Is Bay capable of playing 1B? Maybe Paulino should be playing RF? Possibly Sanchez could fill our CF or 2B role? Maybe the real players we needed to fill the roster in 2006 was a solid MLB catcher and a 2B or CF instead of 3B, 1B, and RF? Until long-range player development goals are adequately managed and addressed by the Pirates front office from the draft to the bigs, this organization will continue to field poor defensive teams behind the pitchers which will result in too many runs allowed.
Pitching. I am in the old school camp that believes a young starter should start in the pen and work his way to the rotation. Gorzellany would be a good candidate for that sometime in 2006. Rushing a player like Maholm takes a toll on him both physically and mentally. Typically this toll ends up resulting in arm fatigue and then injury.
Unfortunately, small market teams don’t have the luxury all the time to start their young arms in the pen so adjustments have to be made. In 2006, David Littlefield could have signed an innings eater or used Duckworth in the rotation and allowed Maholm to adjust. The point is, there were choices and Littlefield chose to start Maholm. Whether or not that comes back to haunt him we’ll see over the next few months.
A few days ago the Pirates proudly proclaimed that Brad Lincoln could be in the pen as early as 2007. While that might be true on his physical abilities alone, it won’t be true based on arm conditioning, learning game management, and the like. I won’t discount that Lincoln could be an asset in 2007 but my first question would have to be why would he even be needed?
The Pirates have some very good young arms being managed by a very solid pitching coach. I don’t expect them as a group to be competitive until 2008 or later but it is amazing how well they have done so far, all things considered. And if Ian Snell continues his roll for the entire season I will simply bow my head to Mr. Colborn every time I walk past him because he will be God to me. In my own opinion, Ian Snell is not a quality MLB pitcher even with Colborn’s help so far. But Snell has been lucky and that is what it takes to be successful at the major league level.. luck. We’ll see if it continues.
As I noted above, there isn’t much the young staff can do except throw the ball down the heart of the plate right now with Paulino behind the plate. The end result will continue to be as it has been this season — the highest batting average allowed on balls in play by any pitching staff in baseball, no thanks to our poor defense and assorted poor management decisions. That isn’t going to change.
Final Words. While the players may want a change, change rarely makes a difference. A spark plug could ignite them for a week or two but they will fall right back into the same traps they started out with.
The players have become losers in their own mind. They have given up.
Instead, the players need to look in their heart for the changes they want to see. It starts with them. No matter how bad a sandlot team you field, if you believe in yourself first, you have a chance any day of the week to win a ballgame.
Until that mentality changes, it won’t matter who is paying the bills or acting as the GM or managing the club.
Tracy was right. So was the Goose.
After seeing the Pirates lose their 11th straight game today for the first time in over 50 years, Pirate fans have to start wondering what in the world is going on in the front office of the Pittsburgh Pirates. David Littlefield conveniently takes a side track off to do some ‘scouting’, the majority owner is set to purchase a property in a week with future gambling ties, Kevin McClatchy, the org’s CEO who is routinely in the front row at home games, hasn’t attended a game at PNC since June 16th, and the minority owners are in hiding like Al Qaeda.
And the only communication Pirate fans hear is Littlefield stating rubbish like ‘well, teams go through hot and cold spells’. Great Dave.. thanks.
Tonight McClatchy finally came out in the media and said:
"I’m extremely disappointed," owner Kevin McClatchy said…"
McClatchy was asked yesterday if he still had confidence in Littlefield and Tracy. "Yeah, I still have confidence in both," he replied. "But that doesn’t mean I’m happy about the way we’re playing right now."
Same ole same old. Yeah, he’s disappointed alright.. all the way to the bank. LoL
Look at the Royals.. they have opened their communications door wide open to the fans.. like the front office blogging, for example. The Rays did the same thing – wide open communications but they even went a step further – they lowered prices across the board. Both of these teams, and even the flattened out Braves joined them this year, are answering the hard questions from the fans.. not hiding like little worms in a hole.
To me, it isn’t the fact we lost 11 straight that bothers me so much. Not does it bother me that Nutting, McClatchy, and Littlefield play the PR ring around the rosey game never answering questions.
No, what bothers me is that the organization has continued to allow the sloppy play by the players and the ownership group refuses to take responsibility that Littlefield has failed. Those two things really bother me as a fan. And they should bother you too.
Ok.. the fan rant is out. Today’s game was very sloppy defensively once again. Kip held the Dodgers at bay until the fourth when he gave up four straight singles. Two of the four singles were *just* out of the reach of Castillo. One of them he was out of position on, imo, and the other one was simply a seeing eye hit. Those four singles produced just one run and loaded the bases with no outs.
Martin comes to the plate and hits a tailor made DP to Sanchez who doesn’t charge the ball for some dang reason and he is unable to complete the double play with the pitcher coming up next. Instead, a run scores and men are now at 1st and 2cd. With Penny batting, Martin steals 2B to remove a potential DP opp because Kip doesn’t even bother to stop and look at him and Paulino’s throw is well off the bag. Penny hits a grounder to Randa for the 2cd out.
Furcal comes up with two outs and two men in scoring position and laces a liner to Nate who is playing in and he bobbles it for a half a second then makes a throw home and the runner from 2B is safe and the batter takes second on the throw.
Essentially, at least two, possibly three, of the four runs scored off of four inattentive defensive plays by the Pirates. Instead of a 4-1 score it should have been 2-1.. maybe even 1-1.
The Pirates scored three more and Kip gave up another run off a solid single and double in the 5th and the score heading into the 7th was 5-4 Dodgers. Then the dreaded 7th.. Garciaparra hits a HR off Marte, the next three batters all single solidly off Marte and Torres, and that loaded the bases up.
Izturis makes an out then up to the plate comes Martin again who hits yet another tailor made DP groundball to Freddy but, for some dang reason, Freddy back peddles on it and turns the DP too slow to get the batter at 1B, and still another run scores.
That made at least three runs that should never have scored and would have left the game tied going in to the 9th.
These are the exact same type of defensive blunders that have been plaguing us all year long. Wells pitched a pretty decent game, imo, but he didn’t have the D on the field to help him win. And, btw, Randa made a few unbelievable plays at 3B today that just rocked plus went 2-4 in the box. Tracy can’t keep Joe on the pine.. he has to play him everyday because we aren’t going to out slug anyone.. we have to beat them with pitching and defense. We have the pitching.. we don’t have the defense.. not in the bigs or in the farm.
Jason Bay said today:
"I don’t know if it’s going to do us any good but, obviously, we need to mix something up," left fielder Jason Bay said. "We’re stagnant. We’re making the same mistakes over and over, and we’re not learning from them a lot of the time."
The same mistakes over and over and not learning from them.. what a blow to Tracy and his staff. *ouch* But he is right.. defensively, we have been horrid.
The players want a change.. many are openly suggesting they will ‘take one for the team if the org wants to trade them’. What a joke – like they should be rewarded with a bus ticket out of Pittsburgh or something? And, since many of these very players calling for a change have performed so poorly, it isn’t like Littlefield has much with trade value anyway.
One media source suggested the players want Littlefield to bring Gorzy up from AAA. Yeah – right.. just what we need.. yet another rookie on the pine playing along side of a bunch of spoiled brat whiners. Shoot, if I’m Gorzy, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near Pittsburgh right now – especially with all the players running their mouths to the media about how ‘unhappy’ they are. What a mess.
With all the hype the players saw in LA, the two straight series losses, and now coming back to face the red hot White Sox, it is going to be very hard for them to turn it all around and muster much of anything positive. The players are confused, tired, and probably getting as little communication from the coaches and front office as the fans are.
In the meantime, expect Littlefield to pull off some ridiculous trade that will set the org back even more because, right now, the org needs positive PR and a trade is the only way they are going to be able to get it. They certainly aren’t going to get it winning.
– tidbits –
Anybody else noticing who is making errors and when? Start watching who is on the mound and who makes an error. Then go back through the last month of games and track down the errors and you will see a very clear picture. Obviously, it could all be a coincidence — and I hope it is. But somehow I don’t think so.
Pirate relievers have been used 31 innings the last 7 games.
1 – 12 since Littlefield’s June 12th announcement he is a seller.
23% of all pitches Pirate batters saw in Sunday’s game were called strikes.
Let’s take a look at how the Pirates are doing offensively so far this year. All of the data here includes game data through June 22cd unless specifically stated otherwise.
As we well know, Pirate bats have fallen silent the last 7 days as the .232 BA indicated in graph 1 on the left confirms.
Curiously, we have a team BA of .260 overall but have only hit that well in one month – May. Thank gosh May has 31 days, huh? But look at June.. we are hitting .246 for the month despite opening June winning 7 of 13. During a run May 27th – June 5th, the Pirates won 7 of 10 games but then from June 13th – June 22cd, they won just 1 in 10.
So what changed, if anything?
Here is a breakdown of a few stats for the two periods in question.
You can quickly see a significantly higher K-rate in the 13th-22cd games thanks to the Twins, but our walk rate was higher.
But let’s back up and consider who we faced in the 13th-22cd run.. we saw Liriano, Carpenter, and Santana. Three very tough pitchers.
During the 27th-5th games, we saw Park, Chris Young, Capuano, and Doug Davis. Not quite the same, huh? But still, Davis, Capuana, and Young have always given us fits but we beat two of the three.
Notice that even with all the strikeouts we have vs. the Cards and Twins, we still only saw 2.7% more K’s per AB than when we were won 7 of 10. Yes, that is a big difference but not enough to explain 9 losses in one period vs. 3 in the other.
The chart above breaks down the percentage of balls and strikes seen during four different periods — the 7 win period the 27th-5th, the 1 win period the 13th – 22cd, the entire 2003 – 2005 Pirates period, and the MLB median during the 2003 – 2005 years.
You can see Pirate batters saw more strikes as a whole during the two 2006 periods we are talking about. Small sample size alert of course, but it is interesting that when the Pirates won 7 of 10 they saw significantly more strikes as a whole than they saw on average from 2003 – 2005. But they also saw more in the 9 game period too, so that diesn’t seem to explain much.
So let’s break down the type of strikes they saw:
Now it becomes a little more clearer. Look at the number of called strikes Pirate batters watched float past them when they lost the 9 games — 19.4% of all pitches they saw — 5.2% more than the MLB average from 2003 – 2005 and 4.1% higher than the last two years for Pirate batters. That is *huge*.
Also huge is the incredible drop of fouled off pitches during the 9 game losing streak.. 12.3% less than the previous 2 year MLB median and almost 10% less than the last two Pirate years. Yikes! Obviously Pirate batters weren’t even seeing the ball to foul one off.
The second chart above (chart 2) indicated that Pirate batters had 4% fewer balls in play per AB during the 9 loss period and most of that was due to the higher K-rate. So when you back out the K’s, Pirate batters were still putting the ball in play about the same amount of time.. we just weren’t swinging the bat at the right pitch.
If you have read my blog you know I have called for Jeff Manto to be replaced because I think he is in way over his head as a hitting instructor. Tracy has forced his hand by wanting a lower swing-n-miss rate, which he has achieved, but the net cost has been batters getting behind in the count way too often and having to put in play the pitcher’s pitch. In 2005, Pirate batters were well known for going up to the plate and hacking at the first pitch.. and we were pretty successful doing so with a .293 BA. This year we only have a .258 BA on first pitch swinging and we are doing it 20% less often.
One of the trends I have noticed developing this year is that in games where Pirate batters have 14% or less called strikes we have won 80% of them. Ok.. much of that probably has to do with the ease of the pitcher we faced. But not all of it as we beat Lowry and Morris that way.
It is true that Pirate batters are way too aggressive in the batter’s box. We are hackers, vulnerable to inside heat and off speed stuff away and off the plate. But we are only vulnerable because opposing pitchers know we typically won’t put the first pitch in play and therefore we become vulnerable as we get behind in the count.
Defensive swings (ie: swings when behind in the count) rarely result in hits.
Tracy needs to make adjustments. Opposing pitchers are throwing first pitch strikes 61% of the time to us, which has to be one of the highest percentages in MLB. We need to start putting those pitches in play more often until we are successful at it, which will then force the other teams to start us off with junk off the plate so we are ahead in the count more often.
Until that happens, all we can do is wait for the streakiness to reappear where our bats find every pitch like we are seeing watermelons. But that isn’t likely to happen much the way we are managing our plate approach.
Considering Zach walked into Dodger stadium to face a team that has been hitting at a .322/.368/.417 clip the last 7 days and, for the Dodgers that have seen Duke had a .341/.413/.707 career split on him, he pitched a wail of a game holding them to six hits and two runs over 95 pitches and five innings. But then the roof collapsed.
Saenz has owned Zach and the Pirates in his short career and he lead off the 6th with a groundball that went off the end of Sanchez’s glove while he was reaching hard to his left. I’m sure if Freddy was to play the ball again he would let it go and let Jack field it for a probable out. Then Kemp pulled a liner down into the left field corner and, for the second time in the game, Ethier singled both Saenz and Kemp home for a 5-run lead.
I was surprised that Tracy even let Zach come back out for the 6th with Kent, Saenz, and Kemp due up and Zack’s pitch count right at 100 pitches. If you remember the LA game earlier in the year at PNC, Saenz took Duke yard in the 5th for a two-run shot as he was approaching 100 pitches. I guess Tracy would say he needed to get as much out of his starter to rest his pen but I don’t buy all that with Gorzy and Sharpless in Indy that could be up in a couple of hours to help out if needed.
Zach had enjoyed the highest run support of any Pirate starter at 5 runs per game up to last night but, once again, our bats were at the beach as we mustered only 7 obscure hits, walked just twice (both by Jack), and K’d 8 times, including a K-7th where Craig Wilson, Paulino, and Castillo all went down 1-2-3 hacking at pitches out of the zone from Broxton. In fact, Dodger pitchers were so unafraid of our bats they threw 63% strikes and said hit it — and we couldn’t.
Jack had another error tonight in the 9th when a grounder rolled in – and then out – of his glove. The grounder that went off the end of Freddy’s glove was called a hit and, rightfully so, but he has to learn to let those types go by him. The rest of the defense played pretty decent. Yeah – I hear you saying it.. another Punch and Judy night.
– tidbits –
I noticed that Paulino is back to setting up too early again and it is probably cuing batters to pitch location. Tracy needs to get him to wait a little longer before squatting. I also noticed Paulino wasn’t mitt waiving tonight anywhere near as bad so congrats to Tracy for catching that. Too bad he didn’t catch it during the game when Perez was pitching.
Here is a 5-minute Gorzy podcast from BP Radio on 6-24 (you need Windows Media Player to hear it). Thanks to BP for letting us share it with you. BTW, if you don’t have a subscription you should get one. It’s great stuff.
Remember this guy Littlefield released?
Is his ERA really better than two-thirds of our entire staff? Not bad for a mop up guy.
Pirates ERA last 7 = 7.80. *ouch* But don’t feel so sorry for them, the Cards have the worst ERA last 7 at 8.70.. wow! Obviously these two clubs are the highest last 7. Third worst? The Cubs at 6.43. Remember this week because I doubt you will ever see three NLCD teams rank 1-2-3 in highest ERA over seven games, when two of them include the Cubs and Cards.
And how about this stat – last 30 days the Reds have the best ERA in the NLCD and the Cards the worst. That has to be a record over the last 20 years or so.
Here is a nice article on Freddy: http://dailynews.com/sports/ci_3977427
Ed Creech on Brad Lincoln’s proposed pace to the bigs:
"Pirates scouting director Ed Creech said that day could come as soon as late next season. He likened the potential of his quick progression to Paul Maholm, who made it to the big leagues in 2005 after the Bucs made him their fourth overall pick in 2004."
Brad’s mom on Lincoln’s first move:
“I know he wants to get his arm back in shape.”
Dave Littlefield on getting Lincoln ready for the bigs:
"I can’t wait to start tinkering. Just think, he could end up being the quickest arm I break!"
LA Times on the Pirates:
"Frankly, the youthful Pirates (26-49) have a long way to go; they’ve lost nine in a row. Between Perez’s wildness and the rash of poor at-bats against pitchers who had been struggling for weeks — Tomko and Seo — Tracy’s new crew was barely competitive."
Pirates are 1-11 since Littlefield’s June 12th announcement he is a seller this year.
Click the play button to see Flaco
It was not a good outing for Oliver Perez by any means. As the video shows you, Perez got a lot of help being bad from home plate ump Jerry Layne. There wasn’t just one or two questionable calls, mind you, but lots and lots of questionable calls. By the 4th batter in the 3rd inning, Colby was giving Layne a hard time.. something you will rarely see.
But it wasn’t all Perez’s fault, just like it wasn’t all Layne’s fault. Paulino had a hand in it all too because he thought it was mitt waive night and almost every pitch close to the plate, Paulino pulled his glove back into the strike zone and held the frame. Layne got tired of it in the first inning and stopped calling the frames and Paulino never adjusted to it. But don’t get me wrong, Perez wasn’t close to the plate on many pitches.. once he lost his composure at the top of the 3rd, that was all it took.
I did notice Perez blowing his nose on the field numerous times like maybe he had the flu or something. Just a guess.. maybe just rag weed or something. Or, maybe he knew he was becoming the losingest pitcher in the NL with his outing (10 losses)? To his credit, Perez took a hard shot off his left hip from Martin’s liner in the 2cd inning. The ball was smoked and hit Perez square.
I thought Perez pitched pretty good myself and I counted 17 of the first 30 pitches called balls to be close enough to be a strike by most umps. It’s just the luck of the draw.. three bad umps in four straight games with strike zones the size of peas for the Pirates, and the size of a watermelon for the opposing teams.
It was way too much to expect the Pirates to bounce back in LA considering the media attention Tracy was going to get anyway. Plus, it was hot at game time, they just came off a hot day game, had a long flight, had averaged playing 3 hour games the last 5 they played, and they were down from the Royal flush they received in KC. That’s a lot to over come for a young club. No excuses — just the way it was.
Defensively, we played a pretty solid game except for Paulino’s mitt waiving and a bad route by Bautista (started back then came in too late) that allowed a ball to drop at his feet for a hit.
Offensively we looked pretty tired at the plate. 31% of all strikes were called strikes tonight so batters were sitting in the box looking a lot. Craig went yard with Freddy on base in the 7th and we did little else until Seo tired in the 9th. I assume Craig was being scouted tonight so picking up three of the four rbi’s for the night helped his cause some. Other than Craig and Freddy, everybody else looked like they still had their bats at the beach.
Part of the blame for all this can be placed on Kevin McClatchy for forcing the Diamondbacks to play a rainout game on Monday – a day that should have been an off day. That game could have gotten in when AZ was in town for the series but dear ole’ Kevin didn’t want it that way.
– tidbits –
Flaco, by the way, is the nickname given to Perez by his mother. It means skinny in Spanish. His sister used to call him Pallo, which translates to a couple of things but one of them being chicken.
Pirates are now 9 – 30 vs. the Dodgers the last 6 years or so and 2-9 at Dodger stadium since 2003.
It was revealed tonight that Bautista broke his hand from punching a wall three years ago. They also mentioned his small fracture in his left wrist earlier this year.
I thought this was interesting — in 2001 when Jack Wilson was called up and played his first game at Cinci, Jason Kendall and Brian Giles paid Jack’s parent’s way to come see him play his first MLB game. How kewl was that?
Bay is now 7 for his last 37. Tracy sat Casey, Bay, and Paulino after the 7th inning to give them a bit of a rest.
Including the game in LA yesterday, the last 5 games the Pirates have played there has been a total of 81 runs scored, 116 hits, and 11 errors – combined.
The Pirates are 1-10 since Littlefield’s June 12th announcement he is a seller.
Forget all the one-run junk you are hearing from the local media outlets. Since Littlefield took control of this team the Pirates have averaged 26 one-run losses every single year. So losing by one run doesn’t have a hill of beans to do with improvement. Besides, tons of research has shown that teams that lose a lot of one-run games will also lose them again the next year. Tracy? He lost 23 one-run games last year with the Dodgers so it isn’t like it is new to him either.
What can I possibly say about getting swept by the Royals for the first time in Pirates history?
Baseball Prospectus said yesterday:
"Hate to start on a negative note, but there must be some acknowledgment of what’s happening right now at Kauffman Stadium, the interleague clash of the worst teams in their respective circuits.
We tried to call it the Futility Bowl, but Jay Jaffe holds the trademark and wasn’t willing to let us use it. So I guess that makes this encounter the Toilet Bowl."
I have been around baseball long enough to realize that offensive and defensive streaks are a reality of the game and I accept the fact we are slumping in both.
But slumping from what to what? That is the horrifying question.
The Washington Post had this blurb in their paper on Tuesday:
Deadspin on Wednesday said:
"On Tuesday what we all feared finally happened; an explosion of awfulness so devastating that it may have destroyed baseball as we know it. Kansas City’s 10-6 win over Pittsburgh (which included 17 walks and resulted in one player being sent to Triple-A for “emotional reasons”), may have been one of the worst games in history."
The NY Times, the Washington Post, ESPN, a ton of newspapers, and a million blogs are all talking about the Pirates being swept by the Royals. They are all laughing..
MSNBC, talking about the Cubs today said:
"Fortunately for the Chicago Cubs, the Pittsburgh Pirates exist. Were it not for the Pirates, who serve annually as the foundation of the NL Central, the Cubs would be mired so deep in the basement they’d be lower than the sump pumps."
I guess that puts the Pirates lower than the sump pumps in that Boston Globe writer’s eyes.
Heck, even the Pirates own media source at Pirates.MLB.com quotes Randa as saying:
"I don’t think you can really think this is the bottom."
Like I said, slumping from what to what?
Bob Smizik calls on the Pirates to break up the team again tonight. He suggests trading off the vets who are failing miserably under David Littlefield’s command for some type of value. How? Casey is obviously still hurt which means he has little trade value and also means Littlefield can’t be too quick to unload Craig Wilson because the only other 1B is K’ernandez, Kip can’t find the plate, Burnitz is an early year guy who isn’t even hitting for Burnitz average, Randa has already said he is going to retire next year, and so that leaves.. that leaves.. hmm.. Hernandez? Marte? Vogelsong? Cota?
And Smizik thinks we should be able to find some value?
And pigs fly too, right?
It is time to turn the rally caps around and dig in deep Pirate fans. I have a feeling we are going to see even rougher seas in LA. Especially since Dodger fans love Tracy so much..
— tidbits —
Littlefield needs to complain to Mike Port over Jeff Nelson and Tim Timmons game calling Tuesday and Thursday. I would pay money to see the QuesTek report on those two games. Timmons had a grapefruit sized strike zone and Nelson’s was pea sized. Some of the garbage that happened on the field was a direct result of these two umpires.
The KC series really demonstrated how poorly small market teams are disciplined. Does anyone believe for a second Leyland would have played Jack and Freddy Wednesday after their dynamic duo screw ups Tuesday? Not a prayer in the world. Tracy better start getting his team under control. BTW, Littlefield sure has been hiding pretty good, hasn’t he?
1-9 since Littlefield’s announcement June 12th.
I guess Cota’s CERA went through the roof after Thursday’s game. It must be his fault we are playing so bad. hehe