Saturday, January 13, 2007

The new Steelers coach will be

I read the gossip stuff and the news reports. And I don't know. I trust the Rooneys not to screw it up. You have a favorite horse in this race?

Another Saturday in January

I'm happy for Bob Nutting that he had his coming out party yesterday. His letter to the fans was an interesting thing. Still, I don't see how much changes for the fans.

I'd like to believe they are paying down debt and doing right by the franchise financially. If they want to keep such details a secret, however, the Nuttings have to live with the fact that we have no reason to believe anything they say about money. Especially when the team continues to play horribly year after year.

The owners can't have it both ways. They can sacrifice nobly, in private, or they can throw open the books and be admired. There is nothing noble about hiding the financial details and then requesting respect for financial behavior that the fans have no way to verify. That would be whining, making excuses, and generally grasping at distractions.

Once the team starts winning, the fans will have less or little or no motivation to suspect the Nuttings of looting. Just win, Bob. Don't make promises you cannot keep or will not keep. And don't allude to financial sacrifice until you are ready to prove it.

I return now to not thinking hard about the Pirates and not expecting anything to happen until March.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Chris Duffy

OK, the curious conclusion of my morning study of Duffy's defensive superiority, as documented in the two posts and comment threads, below, is this. As far as their value to the team goes, Chris Duffy is more valuable right now than Mike Gonzalez. By quite a bit, too.

I think we can lose the closer and really only be down a seventh-inning bullpen guy, because the whole bullpen is prepared for promotion with little to no drop in quality. Torres can close fine. Grabow and Marte can be your lefties.

Parting with Duffy does look a bad idea. He does not hit much, but his defense and his speed appear to compensate for that pretty well. He's not an All-Star, but the Pirates lack depth at centerfield and that gives Duffy job security. Moreover, possible replacements like Ryan Church, who plays center as well as Ben Grieve played left, look, if you credit Duffy's superior defense as the equivalent of one robbed double per week, much less likely to be improvement over Duffy.

I would look for Chris Duffy on the bobblehead menu in 2007. He's not going anywhere. Littlefield's man-love for Duffy is real, we already know that, and it actually looks not totally irrational to me.

A double a week

For half a year, I've been impressed with my own logic as more or less described in the previous post. I will concede that Duffy over McLouth in center amounts to one play, or one and a quarter plays, per week. Most of these plays are probably robbed singles, but some are surely extra-base hits. I will call it a double a week.

I now see how that might be a huge difference.

Defense and offense are two sides of the same thing for me, so it should be easy, I thought over breakfast, to put that double per six games into perspective. Taking away a double is the same thing as hitting a double, I say. If one guy flies out and later takes away a double, and the other guy hits a double but then fails to catch a fly ball that falls for a double, then it's a wash. They are equivalent players.

So if you add one double per six games to Duffy's offensive numbers, then you have some hitting stats that you could use to compare him to McLouth. Duffy has played 123 games or about 21 weeks of ball for the Pirates. If we add 21 doubles to his numbers, he has 39 in 440 at-bats. This would raise his batting average to .327 and his slugging percentage to .459. His career OBP would slide up to about .375.

This means, only for the sake of comparing Duffy's career numbers against McLouth's career numbers to evaluate their probable contribution over the 2007 season, I'd use Duffy's defense to justify regarding him as the equivalent of a player with McLouth's defensive skills and a .327 / .375 / .459 hitting line.

That's much better than McLouth.


The problem here is not so much that Duffy is too great to trade, but that the Pirates have no depth in centerfield. Because the team is bad, then, they cannot afford to make a trade to make the team better.


They need someone with the defensive skills of Eric Byrnes or Willy Taveras--not as spectacular as Duffy, but not so bad that a defensive adjustment makes Duffy look like a Kearns or a Damon at the plate. Seeing that I have to throw out such names to suggest adequate replacements, I better understand why centerfielders are regarded as such hot commodities. There are not many people who can play centerfield well.

I did not expect to ever say this, but I think I am beginning to feel the man-crush on Chris Duffy that has evidently so infected the Pirates' organization.

That's what I get for interrupting my comfortable routine, so recently established, of mimosa-flavored Pirates ennui.

Centerfielder exam

Turn your cell phones off. Write your answers legibly and show your work if you want partial credit for wrong answers.

Question 1. In a nine-inning game, how many times does the centerfielder have an opportunity to make an out?

Question 2. In a week with six games, how many times does the centerfielder handle the ball?

Question 3. The Louisville Losers have two centerfielders. One has an outstanding zone rating of .901. The other has a poor zone rating of .847. In other words, the first will field 90.1% of the balls hit into what STATS defines as the centerfielder's zone, while the second will field 84.7% of those balls. In a week of six games, how many times would the good centerfielder get to balls that the bad centerfielder would not?

You may consult this table.

You can find the answers in the comments to this post.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


I don't know about you, but the pleasant waiting experience has me exhausted.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

BREAKING: Nothing's up

It was a nice day today. I hope tomorrow is also nice.

In the Pirates news, nothing's happening. Something could happen, of course. It is possible that something will happen, of course.

This is not to say, of course, that nothing happening is not nice. Remember, nothing will happen just for the sake of something happening. It was a nice day.

Tomorrow could also be nice. I think it will be nice.

This has been another post. Have a nice night.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Nothing's happening

Dejan Kovacevic has the non-news.

(Shakes head sadly.)

... please note Jack Wilson's quoted comment (see article). How can we interpret this?

Auld link syne

Links from the past few weeks, in case you missed them:

D.J. from Derek Bell Yacht Co. comments on DL's interview and "the perplexing and incoherent mess that is Dave Littlefield." I tried twice but couldn't get more than halfway through the interview. Although mesmerized by the masterful gesticulations, I quickly tired of the empty rhetoric and the "We Will" pennies on the distracting cyan backdrop. I did note DL saying "under control" six times in the first half hour.

Holiday Pirates Roundtables: in #5, four non-Buc bloggers answer a question about Mike Gonzalez. In #6, eight Buc bloggers answer questions on Torres and Marte, and Ryan Doumit.

Pat from WHYGAVS responds to an 8-year old reader asking about the Nuttings in "Yes, Virginia, there is a Nutting family".

Charlie from Bucs Dugout has predictions for 2007, which include "Tear Your Labrum Night".