Saturday, July 02, 2005

Game 79: Pirates at Brewers

All hail no. 57. This one starts at seven.

Pirate hitting, June 10 to July 1

It's been about three weeks since I last did this. This stretch includes the following series (home games in CAPS): TB, nyy, bos, WAS, stl, was, and one game at Milwaukee. The Bucs went 6-13 during that stretch. Hitting is half the story, of course. But when we get to this part of the season, players can heat up or cool down without the fans noticing much since the effect of the streak no longer makes an enormous dent in the season-to-date statistics.
  • Rob Mackowiak struck out 21 times in 74 at-bats. He hit for good power when he made contact: he had four doubles and two home runs in his last 14 hits. Looks like he might want to take something off his swing if too much gusto has played a role in that strikeout rate.
  • Jason Bay has been our very own Albert Pujols. In 19 games, he contributed 17 runs, 10 RBI, 28 hits, seven doubles, and four home runs.
  • Matt Lawton has been a 770 OPS left-fielder. That includes a 359 OBP.
  • Jose Castillo looks good.
  • Daryle Ward has been sneaky. His overall numbers, pretty miserable for a first baseman, include 15 RBIs. He has been hitting for no power at all - only three doubles in his last 19 hits.
  • Ryan Doumit has been a work-in-progress.
  • Freddy Sanchez hasn't been much help with the bat. Jack Wilson has also been swinging a limp noodle. Bobby Hill, on the other hand, has quietly made a bid for more playing time.
  • Tike Redman has been a generic fourth outfielder at the plate.
  • David Ross has outhit Humberto Cota by a wide margin.
Bay,Jason PIT 19 81 0.368 0.618 0.422 27

Lawton,Ma PIT 18 75 0.242 0.409 0.359 19
CastilloJ PIT 19 70 0.277 0.477 0.329 17
Ward,Dary PIT 19 81 0.257 0.297 0.313 21
Mackowiak PIT 18 78 0.189 0.324 0.241 17
Doumit,Ry PIT 17 52 0.220 0.340 0.316 15
Wilson,Ja PIT 19 69 0.194 0.299 0.229 10
Hill,Bobb PIT 08 18 0.333 0.467 0.474 06
Sanchez,F PIT 13 54 0.240 0.240 0.296 06
Redman,Ti PIT 13 33 0.300 0.300 0.364 05
Ross,Davd PIT 06 18 0.353 0.471 0.389 04
Cota,Humb PIT 14 43 0.214 0.310 0.239 08
Restovich PIT 07 10 0.400 0.700 0.400 05
McLouth,N PIT 02 02 0.000 0.000 0.000 00

Friday, July 01, 2005

Game 78: Pirates at Brewers

Eight o'clock, Mark Redman and Tomo Ohka.

All hail Mark Redman for the I-want-to-play-in-Pittsburgh comments. This was unexpected and I'm not sure what to make of it. He is a good fit.

Zach Duke tomorrow. We can't have too many left-handed starters. Here's John Perrotto's report on the call-up. Perrotto touts Duke as BA's top prospect. Since Perrotto writes that column on the Bucs for Baseball America, shouldn't he write, " Baseball America I rated Duke as the Pirates' top prospect coming into this season"?

New Pirate-related historical marker.

Ollie's in the boot. He's still pouting:

"When you get mad, you don't think about anything," Perez said. "You're just angry."

He goes on to say that everyone loses control when they are angry. I'd say yes, when they are four years old. Does this guy need anger management classes? I hate to kick a guy when he's down, but to me it looks like this is related to his performance on the mound. If he wants to make a gazillion dollars and win championship rings, he's going to have to learn to take a little off and control himself when he's so full of emotion.

Dejan Kovacevic reports that Zach Duke is clicking away on his laptop. I'm hoping that he's not emailing Carlos Zambrano every few minutes.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Game 77: Pirates at Nationals

One o'clock. Kip Wells and Estaban Whatshisname. I wonder if there will be any ten-gallon hats in the stands to scout Houston boy.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Game 76: Pirates at Nationals

Good Q & A today from Dejan Kovacevic. Regarding Doumit -- I'm not sure that playing a guy every day is the only way to commit to him, but he's right, I think, that the Bucs have got themselves into a position (with so much starting pitching) where they need to be finding bats first and positions for them to play second. As much as I like Lawton and as much as I touted trying to win now, the fact is, the season has not gone as I hoped. As I suspected, the disastrous April looks to be too much for the team to overcome. I think they can play .500 ball or .525 ball the rest of the way, even if they are playing younger guys, but that won't be enough to crack .500 permanently until, maybe, the very end of the season. Doumit needs to start more often, even if that means Matt Lawton rests more than he'd like.

Regading the hot hand -- he's absolutely right that batter vs. specific pitcher splits mean little more than batter vs. yesterday's pitcher splits. I've written about this before. A batter v. pitcher split has to be quite dramatic to clearly lie outside the allowance for randomness. They may still have use as an impartial way of alloting playing time; the manager can say, I don't make the lineup, your past performance does. Used that way, they may serve another, different purpose, then, that might be a good tactic for a manager who is forced to platoon a bunch of guys. It's probably not working much better than drawing names from a hat or using a clubhouse Magic 8 ball: Should Ryan start today? Signs point to yes. But it's less obviously arbitrary and has the virtue of rewarding past performance.

Much is made of the "hot hand" being superstition. It may be with basketball shooting, but it's not with hitting. I don't what all factors go into this, but it's plenty clear to me that players who have been red hot the past few days or weeks are much more likely to rip your pitchers than players who are coming off an 0-for-11 streak with six strikeouts--regardless of their career numbers.

The Dock Ellis article of a few days ago also made me think the Bucs should start throwing the ball high, hard, and inside on some of these guys who been giving us the Jose Guillen treatment. It was long a part of the game for good reason.

Maybe that's why Mike Johnston was recalled ... to do some Bob Probert from the mound. (Back when he was writing his own Pirates blog, Mojo suggested that Johnston belonged on the fourth line.) Send him in there to buzz some towers.

Dave Williams and John Patterson in two minutes.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Welcome Nate

McLouth up. No word yet about whether or not he takes Ollie's turn in the rotation.

I kinda doubt it.

Game 75: Pirates at Nationals

Josh Fogg and Ryan Drese. For some reason I thought this one started at eight. Whatever, a 1-0 lead after a few frames.

haloscan down, so i ask here. all hail ian snell. who starts in ollie's place? ryan vogelsong?

Kicking the cart

Get well, Ollie.

I wish maturity came in a can. Ollie's biggest challenge appears to be youth.

The next winning Pirate team

Is on the field, mostly. So writes Brian O'Neill:

The sweetly unexpected Pirates victory Sunday in St. Louis, the kind of one-run nail-biter that the team had been losing most of the season, was a pretty good snapshot of what a winning Pirates team will look like.

Jason Bay drove in four of the five runs with two home runs. Then came the winning 10th-inning blast, a line-drive over the left-field fence by Jose Castillo. All around and in between, the Pirates turned six double plays.

This team is often misrepresented by the casual fan as having a lack of major-league players. In fact, nearly every Pirate would make nearly every team, though not necessarily the starting lineup. The Pirates' problem is having just one top-tier hitter in Bay, surrounded by four average hitters plus three below-average hitters at key defensive positions."

Either we get more up the middle, or we need to replace one of the average-for-his-position hitters with some kind of Albert Pujols. Either way, all the Bucs need is one or two more power hitters who contribute consistently and play every day.

The Greatest Series Game Ever Played

It was 1925.

Not terrible

From this Shelly Anderson story about this stretch of schedule:

"My God, you look at the schedule -- and I don't mean to keep harping on it; everybody has a tough schedule -- but we started with Florida, Atlanta, Baltimore, Tampa Bay, New York, Washington, St. Louis, a day off, and then Washington," McClendon said. The Pirates began that stretch strong, winning the Florida, Atlanta, Baltimore and Tampa Bay series before being swept by the Yankees, losing two of three in Boston and two of three against the Nationals last week at home. With the split against St. Louis, their record over those games is 13-13, which could be considered encouraging for a team trying to climb out of a 12-year slump, but that doesn't mean McClendon wouldn't like what he thinks would be a fairer schedule.

If you want to improve, you have to face tougher competition. When I played chess every day, I tried to lose two-thirds of my games, i.e., I tried to play only much better players. I never lost on purpose.

The Bucs are in a slightly different situation. They have to sell tickets to their games to generate the money needed to acquire and retain the players they need to be tougher competition.

Anyway, 13-13 in this stretch is not horrible - in fact it's evidence the Pirates are something like a .500 ballclub. Will they finish at .500? Hard to say. A .500 ballclub will not make up the games they lost in April.

Trade dope

Ed Eagle has some.

KPatrick sent me this Gammons link, too. KPatrick is right: Littlefield is saying all the right things.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Off day - looking ahead

Two paragraphs from the end of Dejan Kovacevic's notebook:

Littlefield and McClendon got out a paper and pen after the game Saturday night to do a little speculating on what the team's 2006 starting rotation might look like.

They saw a lot of options.

Although Oliver Perez is pretty much of a lock, the other options include the other starters this season -- Dave Williams, Josh Fogg, Kip Wells and Mark Redman, although Redman is in an interesting situation because he has a player's option on his contract.

Then, there's Snell, as well as Class AAA prospect Zach Duke, two young players who might be ready to start in the major leagues next year.

In addition, Sean Burnett and John Van Benschoten are on the disabled list, but are expected to be healthy next spring.

Gray area

With the non-waiver trade deadline coming up in a little more than a month, Littlefield said the Pirates' outlook fluctuates.

"How we perform dictates that a little bit," Littlefield said. "Two weeks ago, there are a lot of high hopes of where we might go, but we've had a tough schedule and we have not pitched as well and our power numbers aren't as good as they were, so, as we sit right now, I'd have to say we're in that gray area of being a seller."

So the Bucs don't have Redman signed for next year after all? If it's a player option, and one for a relatively low number, it's hard to see Redman exercising it. He could become a free agent and make more on the open market.

Oliver Perez is not the untouchable he was a year ago. Much of his trouble looks mental to me. Other teams might be inclined to think a change of scene would do him well, and they might even part with the high-caliber bat the Pirates need.

I don't want to see the Pirates become the Reds - all hitting and no pitching - but it's plain as day that the team needs at least one more middle-of-the-order guy to compete in the NL Central.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Game 74: Pirates at Cardinals

Hey, the good guys won, a one-run game no less, salvaging a split of the series.

Missed it. I see in the box score that Oliver Perez made Jason Marquis look good. What's up with that? Has he turned around the turn around? Seven hits and five walks in six innings? I'd say the Bucs won, no thanks to Ollie. Anyone see this one and have an opinion on the Ollie?

Snell recalled

Report here.