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I don't think it's controversial to suggest the Cardinals have the better of a Wainwright-Locke matchup. Actually I don't think it's particularly controversial to suggest the Cardinals are generally a better team either. So kindly go fuck yourself.
10 months, 3 weeks ago on Game 140: Cardinals 12 Pirates 8
If the Pirates are really starting Locke tonight against Wainwright that's basically a forfeit and makes a sweep pretty likely. Doesn't matter much at this point; I think the Pirates are basically locked into going to either St. Louis or Cincinnati for the play-in game. But obviously you want to see them playing well heading into it.
@Eephus Then you wouldn't object to betting $100 against my $5 that they'll make the playoffs, right?
11 months ago on Game 133: Brewers 4 Pirates 0
@DouggieB I get the YOU'RE NOT A REAL FAN ritual every time I suggest the Steelers might not go 19-0.
Pretty sure the Cardinals are going to sweep us. I'll be happy if the Pirates can take just one game out of three; Arizona's still the team I'm keeping an eye on.
The Pirates may never be this close to the playoffs again, and in the absence of any evidence whatsoever that limiting innings keeps young pitchers from getting hurt, the Pirates need to keep using Cole every fifth day unless/until he makes it obvious he's exhausted (as Locke did at least three weeks ago and consistently has reinforced with every start).
This is a playoff push. The Pirates of all teams ought to understand that nothing should be held back.
Marte can't even pick up a bat yet and there are rumors that it may be the dreaded hamate injury. Hopefully that's not true, but the Byrd pickup signals that Marte's season is probably over.
11 months ago on Game 130: Brewers 7 Pirates 6
Actually I'm glad the Cardinals are trouncing the Reds, because it keeps hope alive that maybe, just maybe, PNC Park will get to host the coinflip game.
Sending Locke to the DL is no longer necessary, as rosters will expand before his next scheduled start. There is absolutely no excuse for Locke taking the field again in 2013. He's done. Time to send him home to rest.
I'm not worried about the Cardinals because the Pirates weren't going to win the division anyway. More worrisome is that the Diamondbacks, currently hosting San Diego, are now 7.5 back. If the Pirates drop 2 of 3 to the Brewers--or, god help us, get swept by them--then chances are that by the time St. Louis leaves town the Diamondbacks are going to be only about 3-4 games behind and it will officially be time to panic.
Well what do you know, Jeff Locke got lit up like a movie marquee again! I never saw THAT coming.
11 months ago on The biggest homestand in PNC Park history is happening again
It is mind boggling that Hurdle keeps running Locke out there every fifth day to get lit up like a Christmas tree. I get the feeling he thinks the team's spot in the playoffs is secure. It is not. The Pirates cannot afford to be giving away games, especially not to the Brewers.
11 months ago on Waivers claims and other links
Or just hurt, in Marte's case.
11 months, 1 week ago on Game 130: Giants 4 Pirates 0 (a late recap)
@MattGajtka Yeah, that's just the thing--they've had guys overachieving and still were mediocre-to-below-average at run scoring. Now that guys like Marte and Martin are cooling off a bit it's become just a really bad lineup.
They still play great defense, of course, but even with good pitching and great defense, it's hard to win games when you only score 2 or 3 runs.
@Ugarles Alvarez should not be batting behind McCutchen, ever, period. And he definitely should be lifted for a pinch hitter when the LOOGY comes in--if a passable righthanded hitter is on the bench. Alvarez hits like a pitcher against LOOGYs.
I hate to make Pirates fans nervous, but I think you're being far too optimistic. I think that in fact the Pirates have very little chance at winning the division and are far from assured of being in the playoffs at all.
First off there's the problem that the Pirates are not as good as the Cardinals or Reds or probably even the Diamondbacks. The lineup overachieved for two-thirds of the year, but that's over now and it's a bad lineup. They can't score runs unless the other team's starting pitcher shows up with nothing. And their rotation has been a strength, but Locke is finished, Burnett is flagging and every game pitched by Liriano without breaking down is a bonus. So they won't likely hang with St. Louis and Cincinnati. I think they'll likely finish at least 5-6 games back of both.
They're still up 8.5 on the Diamondbacks, but have you looked at the schedule? Of the Pirates' 32 remaining games, 15 are against playoff teams (Cardinals, Reds, and three games in Texas the Pirates will be lucky if they can win one of); of the Diamondbacks' remaining 33 games, only 7 are against playoff teams (all the Dodgers, who are going to cool off by the time Arizona plays them). 8.5 is a lot of ground to cover in five weeks, but a scenario where the Pirates finish 9-23 (ending up 85-77) while the Diamondbacks finish 20-13 (ending up 86-76) is far from unfathomable.
I think next year's team has a chance to be really good if they can sign a starting pitcher or preferably two. I desperately want someone other than Clint Hurdle managing it.
If the Giants let Lincecum hit the market this winter I wouldn't mind seeing the Pirates kick the tires on him.
11 months, 1 week ago on An opportunity exists
It was obvious to everyone except Huntington and Hurdle at least two starts ago that Locke needs to be shut down for the year. Something is very wrong with him, and whatever it is, continuing to run him out there to get lit up like a movie marquee every fifth day is only going to make it worse.
Still, as you had said, winning the Locke-Cain matchup was huge and makes it a hell of a lot easier to at least earn a split and hopefully take three of four.
Even Clint Hurdle is smart enough to give Pedro Alvarez a day off when Madison Bumgarner takes the mound, right? Because if Alvarez batted 100 times against Bumgarner he would strike out 90 times. I feel like this is a simple enough fact that even the manager of a major league baseball team should be expected to know it.
11 months, 1 week ago on Game 127: Pirates 10 Giants 5
I think you're overlooking (willingly?) a real problem here, which is that the Pirates' lineup is weak and they are really struggling to score runs. They've lost a few blowouts, but mostly the pitching has been good and they've been losing games because they can't score. There's no easy solution to this; they just don't have anybody in the lineup who's much better than an average hitter for his position except Andrew McCutchen (and Alvarez, I guess, but he's extremely flawed, by which I mean he should be a strict platoon hitter but he mashes righties SO well that you can't sit him against every lefty without angering him and the fans.) And a third of the lineup is near-automatic outs (pitcher, RF du jour, Barmes/Mercer, though Mercer's been playing well enough to make Barmes' presence on the roster inexplicable).
There's really only one outcome to this season that I dread and fear: the Pirates collapsing sufficiently to miss the playoffs, but not sufficiently to finish under .500, causing the front office to regard the season as a success and fail to fire Hurdle. I'd rather them collapse all the way to 79-83 and get Hurdle fired than that.
Unfortunately that exact outcome--84-78, no playoffs, Hurdle back in 2014--is starting to look uncomfortably plausible. Arizona is a better team than Pittsburgh. 7.5 games out of 40 better, well, we'll see. But it would take a really epic collapse to fail to win 81 games, to the point it's almost inconceivable (it would require an 8-32 finish).
But Hurdle really, really needs to go. He's awful. I think the 2014 Pirates have a chance to be really good, and Hurdle has a chance to really hold them back.
11 months, 2 weeks ago on Game 122: Diamondbacks 4 Pirates 2
I know the Pirates hesitate because they don't really have any SP depth, but at this point they probably need to shut Locke down. He's either exhausted, hurt, or both and he just keeps getting worse every time he goes out there.
11 months, 2 weeks ago on Jeff Locke and Trevor Cahill take the mound
Best solution: Bat McCutchen second, the switch-hitting Walker
third, Alvarez fourth. It prevents the opponent from being able to bring
in a *OOGY after IBB'ing McCutchen, and it also de-incentivizes
pitchers from pitching around Marte with a runner on.
11 months, 2 weeks ago on Game 120: Cardinals 6 Pirates 5
Research and analysis like this is what makes this one of the best Pirates blogs in existence.
I think it bears mentioning that a sudden struggle to locate/loss of control, NOT loss of velocity, is one of the classic first symptoms of an elbow injury. Of course it's not smoking-gun proof and often it turns out to be nothing, but if anything this data coupled with Grilli's leaving the game push me toward strongly suspecting Grilli will be lying down on Dr. Andrews' operating table soon.
1 year ago on Jason Grilli's recent struggles and last night's injury
You are one of the bloggers I respect the most out of anyone out
there and one of the few names on my must-read list. But this phrase
really gave me pause and shock: "For every Stephen Strasburg, there's a
For every Justin Verlander there are *twenty* Stephen Strasburgs and
Steve Averys and Ben McDonalds and Bill Pulsiphers and Mark Priors.
Twenty or more. The reality is that Cole will probably blow out his arm,
sooner or later, because *most* young pitchers blow out their arms.
Obviously you shouldn't abuse them Lasorda/Baker-style, but other than
that nothing by way of workload management that has yet been done has
made any difference at all.
The Pirates have an actual bah-gawd chance to play in the postseason. If
Cole is one of the five best pitchers in their organization then it
would be crazy not to start him every fifth day. There is no guarantee
they'll be in position to make the playoffs next year, AND there is no
guarantee Cole will still have an intact elbow and shoulder next year,
even if you baby him now.
1 year ago on What should Gerrit Cole's workload be in 2013?
When Jordy Mercer was in Altoona and I was watching him every day he (and Harrison) played mostly third and second (d'Arnaud always played shortstop). As a second baseman, Jordy Mercer was one of the best pivot men on the double play I have ever seen. An amazingly quick, smooth motion.
Apparently they say tall guys can't play second base without getting hurt, though.
1 year, 4 months ago on Pirates acquire John McDonald
@Andy Coulter Don't look now, but the Steelers might be worse than the Pirates this year. The Pirates will finish at the NFL equivalent of 7-9 or 8-8; based on what we've seen from the Steelers' defense (ranked 28th by Football Outsiders' DVOA, and that sounds about right to me), o-line and very tough schedule, the Steelers are going to struggle to get to 7 wins. And that's before we consider how unlikely it is their quarterback's going to stay in the lineup all season.
At least there's still the Penguins... oh. Right. No hockey this year.
1 year, 10 months ago on Game 155: Reds 1 Pirates 0
The case against is a lot more persuasive to me. The Pirates have spent more money than any other team in the major leagues on amateur talent acquisition since Huntington's hiring, and now have at best a mediocre major league team and a mediocre farm system to show for it. This is very much analogous to a team like the Yankees outspending everyone else on major league players and winning 80 games. When that happens, people get fired.
On balance Huntington's body of work is underwhelming, to put it politely. And fire years IS a long enough sample to evaluate. The Pirates haven't had their contention window short-circuited by an undue number of injuries to young players; they just haven't drafted and/or developed very well. And based on what I see in the farm system, I have serious doubts the Pirates are going to exceed 2012's win total before McCutchen leaves.
Also, continuing to gainfully employ Clint Hurdle is seriously an enormous hideous stain on any GM's record.
And now for some grammar lawyering before I go: I think the word you were looking for is 'cavalry'. Calvary was the (anglicized) Greek name for a hill outside Jerusalem where the ancient Romans executed criminals.
1 year, 10 months ago on Neal Huntington and his staff get a vote of confidence
@wkkortas If the Pirates hire Ed Wade, I am through with them until ownership changes. Period.
1 year, 10 months ago on A few words about the Kyle Stark stuff
@rowhoo Every other team in the league holds baserunners, and their pitchers lose about 11 points of tOPS+ when runners are on. The Pirates do not hold baserunners, and their pitchers lose... about 10 points of tOPS+ when runners are on. That is pretty strong evidence that the Pirates aren't gaining anything measurable by ignoring baserunners.
1 year, 10 months ago on The Pirates don't care about throwing out base stealers. Should they? | August 2012
Common sense dictates that giving away free bases is self-damaging, and as you point out, there's no hard evidence to contradict common sense here.
I would bet the majority of those 9% of "base stealers" thrown out by the Pirates this year have come on busted hit-and-runs and such.
I'm going to say the one nice thing about the Pirates I can think of, and even this is a backhanded compliment at best: our expectations after the All-Star break were too high. This was never a good baseball team; it was never even really an above-average baseball team. The Pirates got to 67-57 mostly on the strength of ridiculously (and unsustainably) good performance from their bullpen (which has now snapped back and beyond) and a majorly unsustainably strong performance (read: BABIP) from McCutchen. Desperate to root for a winning team as we are, we joyfully overlooked this and chose to believe the Pirates were good.
Looking back now, I saw the Pirates in March as about a 75 win team, and they'll end up winning around 77-79 games. This team does not have enough talent to compete, and we were fooling ourselves into thinking it did, a month ago.
1 year, 10 months ago on The last breather | August 2012
I turned on my TV despite your warning, Pat, and lo, your prophecy came to pass: I immediately witnessed something frustrating. To wit, Kevin Correia on the mound. Sigh.
I think that as long as the Pirates continue to gainfully employ people like Kevin Correia, they will continue to remain well out of the way of any playoff races. I can't fathom any reason, especially now that the playoffs are well out of reach, Correia should still be starting rather than, say, giving Justin Wilson a few starts and seeing whether he can do a Zach Duke impression in the major leagues.
1 year, 10 months ago on There is a game tonight | August 2012
Follow-up: Of course I'm not sure getting Hurdle fired would accomplish much, since one of the well-established weaknesses of the current Pirates front office is their amazing ability to consistently hire horrendously awful managers.
1 year, 10 months ago on Game 139: Reds 4 Pirates 3 | August 2012
At this point I can't help but root for the Pirates to complete the collapse and finish the season under .500, because I think that would get Hurdle fired, and Hurdle needs to go. I've tried to be optimistic, especially this year, but the truth is I've looked around the talent on their major league roster and in their minor league system, and I don't think they're going to get into or especially close to the playoffs during the McCutchen Era. They just don't have the talent. They don't even have very much impact talent at any level of the minors. Pirates fans--I include myself in this--are looking at their top 10-15 prospects and seeing them like we're at a disappointing bar or party and belting down drinks and squinting harder until the women look like knockouts.
So, painfully, I think the most likely outcome of this is that the Pirates continue to post win totals in the 70s the next few years, and then McCutchen finally requests and receives a trade around 2016, the front office gets turned over somewhere around then and we start over from 2007.
But I strongly believe this: if the Pirates ARE going to get into, or at least close to, the playoffs, they're not going to do it with Clint Hurdle (mis)managing them. He is death by a thousand management-mistake paper cuts.
I'm pretty sure we're going to remember tonight as the night the Pirates officially bowed out of the playoff race.
1 year, 10 months ago on It's time to make up ground | August 2012