Friday, February 01, 2008

Top prospects

Keith Law ranks one Pirate player in the top 75 prospects. Walker and Lincoln are thrown in at the end, and both have pessimistic short descriptions.

Stargell stories

Last Monday, David Mooney wrote up some Stargell stories after covering the Pirates' fantasy camp for the Brandenton Herald.

More games on the TV

The Tribune-Review reports that Fox Sports Network Pittsburgh will televise 125 regular-season games this year.

Bullpen theory

In today's Q & A Dejan Kovacevic summarizes what he hears from the new management on assembling a bullpen.

Huntington has told me time and again that all the studies he has seen or performed himself show that there is "no magic formula" in trying to predict the performance of relievers from one year to the next. Moreover, he will add, no one can really figure out why, even with all the modern advances in baseball methodology, from analytical to statistically to medical.


At the same time, their approach to this was not a simple throw-it-against-the-wall variety. The pitchers they signed, they think, offer different styles, different arm slots and more power than the Pirates have had in the past, and they are hoping - yes, hoping - that a handful of them pan out with some help from the new coaching staff.

I advocated the throw-it-against-the-wall approach, but I did so knowing that I'm not someone who's qualified to run a baseball team. I admire the get-one-of-each and throw-them-against-the-wall approach of the professionals.

My hunch is that, if everyone expects the bullpen to be really truly awful, they will turn out OK. As Huntington says, nobody knows, so this hunch is pretty worthless.

Thursday, January 31, 2008


Johnny Estrada expressed reluctance to sign with Pittsburgh, Dejan Kovacevic reports.

I also would not want to compete for playing time with Ronny Paulino.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The psyche is a delicate flower

In today's Q&A, Dejan Kovacevic writes about the uncertain bullpen. Here he describes part of the risk involved:

There might be only three holes, actually, if Franquelis Osoria lives up to the team's expectations this spring, but three is still an awful lot. It is a risk not only for the Pirates' ability to be competitive in 2008 but also, and more important, to damaging the psyches of its many young starters. What will happen if Ian Snell, Tom Gorzelanny, Paul Maholm and Zach Duke repeatedly watching seventh-inning leads vanish?

What will happen? The Pirates will lose a bunch of games.

And I disagree with the idea that the team has to do something to stave off a potential threat to the potentially delicate psyches of young starters. First of all, if the psyche of a young starter is that fragile, he's not going to make it no matter what you do with the bullpen.

Second, I think this kind of thinking establishes bad expectations for the starters. Their job is to pitch as well as they can. There should not be this idea floating around that it's expected that any one of these guys will not pitch well if the bullpen blew a lead for him after his last turn. The failures of one set of players can never be something that is commonly identified as a worthy or even likely excuse for failure by another set of players. The quality of the bullpen has no effect on the quality of the start, and we should not talk like it does.

There is, however, one way that a weak bullpen threatens the starters. If the manager is reluctant to remove someone because he has little faith in the setup options, then there may be a risk to the health of the starter. But this is easily avoided with reasonably strict adherence to pitch counts or some other, smarter pre-established workload expectation.

And I've seen a lot of mediocre to bad pitchers who can put up good statistics - be effective - for months at a time. It's not that hard. Get the defense ready, throw the ball where they can't hit it too hard, try to get three outs. Even a mediocre lefty can be pretty tough on some good hitters.

The bullpen is not going to be terribly good, but I don't see how this is a grave problem for the starters or the closer provided that the manager is not allowed to slag all the decent arms to accomplish immediate short-term goals.

We will cohere

More building blocks from Dejan Kovacevic at the Post-Gazette.

Part of the new plan: every summer the Pirates will send six pitchers to Dr. James Andrews.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Dejan Kovacevic reports that the current Pirates don't care much about the future of the organization.

Hey, I think we already knew that.

He wonders how this will affect their play. Again, I think we already know the answer to this question.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

I've done it my whole life and believe I will do it again

Dejan Kovacevic reports the grilling fans laid on management. Frank Coonelly comes across like a real badass.

I have not complained about these guys not spending money so far. I want to believe these guys. I have some confidence in them. It should not be that hard. But I am concerned that all this talk about saving the money for later is just bull.

We'll see.