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 Post subject: Cook: Inconsistent Cole no longer one of Pirates' best
PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2013 4:20 pm 
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By Ron Cook / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


The news was lost during the nine-game winning streak that gave the Pirates, stunningly, the best record in baseball. Pitcher Wandy Rodriguez received an injection in his ailing elbow earlier this week and probably won't pitch in the big leagues again until at least early August. That little bulletin deserved so much more attention.

The Pirates are going to need Rodriguez, who hasn't pitched in exactly a month, if they are going to keep winning at such an amazing rate. They are going to need starter A.J. Burnett, who hasn't pitched since June 8 because of a calf injury but could get the ball Sunday against the Cubs in Chicago. It's incredible the Pirates have been so successful without them. It's incredible they are 52-32 even after their 6-4 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies Thursday at PNC Park, their first series loss in a month.

This much we can say with some certainty:

Gerrit Cole is no Burnett or Rodriguez. He's no Jeff Locke, Francisco Liriano or Charlie Morton at this early stage of what should be a long, lucrative career for him. He might not even be Jeanmar Gomez.

Cole was the loser Thursday, his first after becoming the Pirates' first pitcher in 106 years to win the first four starts of his big-league career. Surely, you remember Nick Maddox, who did it in 1907? Anyway, Cole's wins created an absurd level of hype. The fact he's a No. 1 draft pick and an $8 million bonus baby added to the attention. So did his fastball, which you might have heard has hit 100 mph.

But Cole hasn't been all that good, at least not compared to the Pirates' other starters. He was every bit as lucky as he was good in those first four starts. The Pirates hitters, who often have struggled to score runs, scored 8, 6, 5 and 10 for him.

Cole wasn't so fortunate against the Phillies, although Andrew McCutchen's two-out, two-run single in the third inning gave him a 2-0 lead. Cole didn't exactly fool the Phillies. Two of their first three hitters -- Ben Revere and Jimmy Rollins -- singled off him only to be thrown out trying to steal second by catcher Russell Martin. Is it just me or did it seem as if Martin threw out as many runners in that first inning as Rod Barajas and Michael McKenry did all of last season?

Cole made his best pitch, blowing a 98-mph fastball by Rollins with runners on second and third in the third. But he gave up a two-out single to Revere in the fifth that cut the Pirates' lead to 2-1. Then, he couldn't get out of the sixth after giving up a one-out walk and single. He allowed eight hits in 51/3 innings.

It's easy to blame reliever Vin Mazzaro for not picking up Cole. Sunday, in a 2-1 win in 14 innings against the Milwaukee Brewers, Mazzaro became the Pirates' first relief pitcher to throw five perfect innings in 94 years. Of course, you remember Elmer Ponder? Four days later, though, on a gorgeous holiday afternoon, Mazzaro didn't get an out and set off a rather loud "Let's Go, Phillies!" chant that seemed ridiculously out of place at PNC Park in this magical Pirates season. Delmon Young lined his first pitch for a single to left. Kevin Frandsen blooped his second pitch for a run-scoring single down the right-field line. Mazzaro was done after giving up a two-run single to Carlos Ruiz and hitting pitcher Cole Hamels.

Funny game, baseball.

Cole certainly didn't blame Mazzaro after the game. He knew he didn't deserve a win. "I've got to get ahead of guys better," he said. "I guess this was just one of those days."

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle went out of his way to defend Cole, which hardly was surprising. "He continues to pitch with an edge. He continues to compete and learn every day."

There is no doubt Cole is learning and little doubt he will get much better. See the paragraph above mentioning the promise for him of a long, lucrative career. But the big leagues might not be the best place for Cole to learn for the Pirates. General manager Neal Huntington has said all along that the team might have rushed Cole up because of its injuries. He has done his best to downplay the Cole hype.

There was outrage all over town a few weeks ago at the suggestion the Pirates could send Cole back to Triple-A to slow his Super 2 salary-arbitration clock. Huntington said the team wouldn't make a decision based solely on money, but he is no fool. Sending Cole to the minors for even a week or 10 days could save the franchise millions. Here's guessing owner Bob Nutting would be all for that.

But if Cole doesn't start pitching better, it will be an easy call to send him down when Rodriguez is ready or even sooner if the Pirates make a trade this month for a starter. The numbers don't lie. Cole's ERA is 3.94. Compare that to the ERAs of Rodriguez (3.59), Burnett (3.12), Morton (2.50), Liriano (2.23) and Locke (2.12). Cole's WHIP is 1.31. Compare that to Liriano (1.29), Morton (1.22), Locke (1.15), Burnett (1.13) and Rodriguez (1.12).

And Gomez? His ERA is 2.70, his WHIP 1.14. He will get the start Sunday against the Cubs if Burnett isn't quite ready to go.

Is it really so outrageous to suggest Gomez should get the start Tuesday night at PNC Park against the Oakland Athletics in place of Cole?

Ron Cook: rcook@post-gazette.com. Ron Cook can be heard on the "Vinnie and Cook" show weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on 93.7 The Fan.
First Published July 5, 2013 12:00 am


Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/spo ... z2YCTl6ekr





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Related Media:
Pirates notebook: Hurdle says Alvarez is worth an All-Star spot
Bob Smizik's blog: Charting Cole's future

By Ron Cook / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


The news was lost during the nine-game winning streak that gave the Pirates, stunningly, the best record in baseball. Pitcher Wandy Rodriguez received an injection in his ailing elbow earlier this week and probably won't pitch in the big leagues again until at least early August. That little bulletin deserved so much more attention.

The Pirates are going to need Rodriguez, who hasn't pitched in exactly a month, if they are going to keep winning at such an amazing rate. They are going to need starter A.J. Burnett, who hasn't pitched since June 8 because of a calf injury but could get the ball Sunday against the Cubs in Chicago. It's incredible the Pirates have been so successful without them. It's incredible they are 52-32 even after their 6-4 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies Thursday at PNC Park, their first series loss in a month.

This much we can say with some certainty:

Gerrit Cole is no Burnett or Rodriguez. He's no Jeff Locke, Francisco Liriano or Charlie Morton at this early stage of what should be a long, lucrative career for him. He might not even be Jeanmar Gomez.

Cole was the loser Thursday, his first after becoming the Pirates' first pitcher in 106 years to win the first four starts of his big-league career. Surely, you remember Nick Maddox, who did it in 1907? Anyway, Cole's wins created an absurd level of hype. The fact he's a No. 1 draft pick and an $8 million bonus baby added to the attention. So did his fastball, which you might have heard has hit 100 mph.

But Cole hasn't been all that good, at least not compared to the Pirates' other starters. He was every bit as lucky as he was good in those first four starts. The Pirates hitters, who often have struggled to score runs, scored 8, 6, 5 and 10 for him.

Cole wasn't so fortunate against the Phillies, although Andrew McCutchen's two-out, two-run single in the third inning gave him a 2-0 lead. Cole didn't exactly fool the Phillies. Two of their first three hitters -- Ben Revere and Jimmy Rollins -- singled off him only to be thrown out trying to steal second by catcher Russell Martin. Is it just me or did it seem as if Martin threw out as many runners in that first inning as Rod Barajas and Michael McKenry did all of last season?

Cole made his best pitch, blowing a 98-mph fastball by Rollins with runners on second and third in the third. But he gave up a two-out single to Revere in the fifth that cut the Pirates' lead to 2-1. Then, he couldn't get out of the sixth after giving up a one-out walk and single. He allowed eight hits in 51/3 innings.

It's easy to blame reliever Vin Mazzaro for not picking up Cole. Sunday, in a 2-1 win in 14 innings against the Milwaukee Brewers, Mazzaro became the Pirates' first relief pitcher to throw five perfect innings in 94 years. Of course, you remember Elmer Ponder? Four days later, though, on a gorgeous holiday afternoon, Mazzaro didn't get an out and set off a rather loud "Let's Go, Phillies!" chant that seemed ridiculously out of place at PNC Park in this magical Pirates season. Delmon Young lined his first pitch for a single to left. Kevin Frandsen blooped his second pitch for a run-scoring single down the right-field line. Mazzaro was done after giving up a two-run single to Carlos Ruiz and hitting pitcher Cole Hamels.

Funny game, baseball.

Cole certainly didn't blame Mazzaro after the game. He knew he didn't deserve a win. "I've got to get ahead of guys better," he said. "I guess this was just one of those days."

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle went out of his way to defend Cole, which hardly was surprising. "He continues to pitch with an edge. He continues to compete and learn every day."

There is no doubt Cole is learning and little doubt he will get much better. See the paragraph above mentioning the promise for him of a long, lucrative career. But the big leagues might not be the best place for Cole to learn for the Pirates. General manager Neal Huntington has said all along that the team might have rushed Cole up because of its injuries. He has done his best to downplay the Cole hype.

There was outrage all over town a few weeks ago at the suggestion the Pirates could send Cole back to Triple-A to slow his Super 2 salary-arbitration clock. Huntington said the team wouldn't make a decision based solely on money, but he is no fool. Sending Cole to the minors for even a week or 10 days could save the franchise millions. Here's guessing owner Bob Nutting would be all for that.

But if Cole doesn't start pitching better, it will be an easy call to send him down when Rodriguez is ready or even sooner if the Pirates make a trade this month for a starter. The numbers don't lie. Cole's ERA is 3.94. Compare that to the ERAs of Rodriguez (3.59), Burnett (3.12), Morton (2.50), Liriano (2.23) and Locke (2.12). Cole's WHIP is 1.31. Compare that to Liriano (1.29), Morton (1.22), Locke (1.15), Burnett (1.13) and Rodriguez (1.12).

And Gomez? His ERA is 2.70, his WHIP 1.14. He will get the start Sunday against the Cubs if Burnett isn't quite ready to go.

Is it really so outrageous to suggest Gomez should get the start Tuesday night at PNC Park against the Oakland Athletics in place of Cole?

Ron Cook: rcook@post-gazette.com. Ron Cook can be heard on the "Vinnie and Cook" show weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on 93.7 The Fan.
First Published July 5, 2013 12:00 am


Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/spo ... z2YCTl6ekr


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 Post subject: Re: Cook: Inconsistent Cole no longer one of Pirates' best
PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2013 4:22 pm 
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Ron Cook, always positively negative.


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 Post subject: Re: Cook: Inconsistent Cole no longer one of Pirates' best
PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2013 4:44 pm 
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He even sounds like Eyeore...


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 Post subject: Re: Cook: Inconsistent Cole no longer one of Pirates' best
PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2013 4:48 pm 
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doug frobel wrote:
He even sounds like Eyeore...


He's an ass!!!

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 Post subject: Re: Cook: Inconsistent Cole no longer one of Pirates' best
PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2013 5:49 pm 
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I didn't even bother to read that when I saw it on the PG site. I didn't want to honor it with my click through.

I can be as negative as anyone but that wasn't a horrible start by Cole.
3 earned runs in 5 1/3 is far from terrible. We have had starting pitching at times in the past when we would be praising that effort.

Did anyone really expect a rookie pitcher to go undefeated? We all knew that Cole is far from a finished product but he is growing. It seems like Cook has been begging for a start like this since Cole was called up so he could say "I told you so." I guess I would point out it took him 5 starts to get his chance and that is damn encouraging in my opinion.


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 Post subject: Re: Cook: Inconsistent Cole no longer one of Pirates' best
PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2013 5:55 pm 
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I can't stand cook. I think it's ashame that so many people are out of work, but cook has a job.


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 Post subject: Re: Cook: Inconsistent Cole no longer one of Pirates' best
PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2013 6:09 pm 
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But, by the numbers, he is right.

It turned 12 twice today.

ZM

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 Post subject: Re: Cook: Inconsistent Cole no longer one of Pirates' best
PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2013 6:19 pm 
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ZelieMike wrote:
But, by the numbers, he is right.


But the question is, what's the point? No one is pretending like Cole is the Pirates best pitcher. The fact that Cole isn't performing as well as the other starters speaks more to the quality of the Pirates pitching staff than it does of Cole. The 22-year old with 5 major league starts under his belt and who was called up prematurely (but not drastically so) due to an injury to another SP isn't performing as well as the others while also not performing poorly. That's what it boils down to. There is a learning curve in the Majors as there is at every level ... see also: how Jeff Locke fared in his first dozen or so big league starts, etc. It's the testament to what the article is trying to say exactly. Pointing out that Cole hasn't performed as well as the others through five starts, well, I would think the perception would have to be the opposite of that for this to be an informative or meaningful article.


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 Post subject: Re: Cook: Inconsistent Cole no longer one of Pirates' best
PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2013 6:37 pm 
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Well, his point is directed mostly at Pittsburgh call in yinzers who scream "cheap Nutting" when NH talks about sending him down. There is a great contingent here in love with his heater and think that makes him their best pitcher, right now.

He isn't of course, not yet. And, probably should be the one sent down if/when all are healthy. He needs to work on getting beyond 5 1/3 innings, he could using pitch control so you have him strong in September, and you save 6 or 7 mil in arbitration. (Note, no ghost references).

ZM

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 Post subject: Re: Cook: Inconsistent Cole no longer one of Pirates' best
PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2013 11:38 pm 
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Clevelandsux wrote:
Ron Cook, always positively negative.

At least he has the advantage of being absolutely right on this one.

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 Post subject: Re: Cook: Inconsistent Cole no longer one of Pirates' best
PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2013 11:41 pm 
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ZelieMike wrote:
Well, his point is directed mostly at Pittsburgh call in yinzers who scream "cheap Nutting" when NH talks about sending him down. There is a great contingent here in love with his heater and think that makes him their best pitcher, right now.

He isn't of course, not yet. And, probably should be the one sent down if/when all are healthy. He needs to work on getting beyond 5 1/3 innings, he could using pitch control so you have him strong in September, and you save 6 or 7 mil in arbitration. (Note, no ghost references).

ZM

If all of the potential starters were healthy, the only one I'd rank behind Cole right now is McDonald.

What Cole needs to get through his head is that you are going to have very limited success against major league hitters if all you are going to do is throw fastballs down the middle, no matter how hard you throw them.

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