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 Post subject: Hanging On...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 3:17 pm 
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Since heading to Colorado on Friday, August 9, your Pittsburgh Pirates have won 6 games and lost 11, including several excruciating losses -- the Marte drop game, the 16-inning loss to the Diamondbacks, and last nights bad luck & bad pitching combo platter loss. The Pirates' aces, Francisco Liriano and A.J. Burnett, have labored through a couple of rough starts each over that stretch, and the team lost Starling Marte to the disabled list due to two injuries to his hand. More disturbingly, Jeff Locke is pulling his best James McDonald impression over the last month, and may be shunted to the 'pen or the minors in favor of a pitcher more likely to get through at least five innings. Even the Shark Tank has shown signs of wearing down, with Justin Wilson and Bryan Morris both tagged for runs in last night's one-run losing effort.

Despite this bad stretch, the Pirates are still 76-55, twenty-one games over .500, leading the wild card race, 1.5 games back of St. Louis in the National League Central, and 8 games ahead of Arizona for a playoff spot. So our Buccos are still sitting pretty. But they won't be if they continue to play ugly.

Now, Neal Huntington's shrewd additions of Marlon Byrd, the immediate starting right fielder, and John Buck, a veteran backup catcher who is said to have one of the best "books" on hitters in the National League, should help shore up the lineup and the bench. Unfortunately, pitching help does not appear to be on the way. For those thinking Brandon Cumpton could simply don a cape and fly in to Pittsburgh to take Locke's spot in the rotation, he's been struggling at AAA lately -- in August, he's pitched 22.1 innings and allowed 7 ERs, with 23 hits, 10 walks, and 15 Ks. He may be tiring. Kris Johnson or Stolmy Pimentel may be able to step in, but both of those guys are total unknowns.

It seems to me that the Pirates need to simply hang on, by their bloody fingernails if necessary, until Starling Marte and Jason Grilli return to the lineup. Both of those players -- fresh from time off and hopefully fully healthy -- should provide a boost to the team in early-to-mid September. Until that time, I'd shake things up a bit and consider the following actions:

1. When Byrd arrives, send Andrew Lambo back to Indianapolis. Why? I want to keep Felix Pie, particularly while Marte's on the shelf. He's been capable against right-handed pitchers and he plays decent defense.

2. Give Pie a few more starts in left against right-handed pitchers, especially in PNC Park. I like Pie's speed and glove better than Tabata's in PNC's spacious left field, and he looks surprisingly capable at the dish as well.

3. Replace Locke with Kris Johnson for the September 1st start. While the Cardinals' lineup consists predominantly of right-handed hitters, they've struggled against left-handed pitchers. Since rosters expand on September 1, when Locke is scheduled to make his next start, the Pirates wouldn't have to make any roster moves to do this. Johnson last pitched on August 25, so he'd be taking the ball on 6 days rest.

4. Trade for Morneau before Saturday (so long as the Twins are not demanding a top 20 prospect). If I saw signs of life from Garrett Jones, I wouldn't advocate for this swap. But I don't. And their respective numbers over the first five months of the 2013 season suggest that Morneau would be an upgrade both offensively and defensively.

5. Put in a waiver claim and/or trade for the best available veteran pitcher (according to Pirates' scouts), starter or reliever. I don't believe the Pirates need to go out and get Dan Haren or anything, but an extra veteran arm who can pitch multiple innings would be helpful down the stretch and, potentially, into the playoffs. He could replace Jared Hughes on the playoff roster.

The Pirates have 14 games between today and September 11th -- 5 against the Brewers, 6 against the Cardinals, and 3 against the Rangers. That's a tough stretch. I believe "hanging on" consists of winning at least 7 of those games. At that point, Marte and Grilli should both be back and the Pirates should be near full strength.

Let's Go Bucs!


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 Post subject: Re: Hanging On...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 3:23 pm 
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I agree with skipping a start for Locke, who is showing definite signs of fatigue IMO. I would then start him in turn and tell Jenmar to start warming up in the 3 rd inning to keep an extremely quick hook on Locke.

ZM

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 Post subject: Re: Hanging On...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 4:00 pm 
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J_C_Steel wrote:
Since heading to Colorado on Friday, August 9, your Pittsburgh Pirates have won 6 games and lost 11, including several excruciating losses -- the Marte drop game, the 16-inning loss to the Diamondbacks, and last nights bad luck & bad pitching combo platter loss. The Pirates' aces, Francisco Liriano and A.J. Burnett, have labored through a couple of rough starts each over that stretch, and the team lost Starling Marte to the disabled list due to two injuries to his hand. More disturbingly, Jeff Locke is pulling his best James McDonald impression over the last month, and may be shunted to the 'pen or the minors in favor of a pitcher more likely to get through at least five innings. Even the Shark Tank has shown signs of wearing down, with Justin Wilson and Bryan Morris both tagged for runs in last night's one-run losing effort.

Despite this bad stretch, the Pirates are still 76-55, twenty-one games over .500, leading the wild card race, 1.5 games back of St. Louis in the National League Central, and 8 games ahead of Arizona for a playoff spot. So our Buccos are still sitting pretty. But they won't be if they continue to play ugly.

Now, Neal Huntington's shrewd additions of Marlon Byrd, the immediate starting right fielder, and John Buck, a veteran backup catcher who is said to have one of the best "books" on hitters in the National League, should help shore up the lineup and the bench. Unfortunately, pitching help does not appear to be on the way. For those thinking Brandon Cumpton could simply don a cape and fly in to Pittsburgh to take Locke's spot in the rotation, he's been struggling at AAA lately -- in August, he's pitched 22.1 innings and allowed 7 ERs, with 23 hits, 10 walks, and 15 Ks. He may be tiring. Kris Johnson or Stolmy Pimentel may be able to step in, but both of those guys are total unknowns.

It seems to me that the Pirates need to simply hang on, by their bloody fingernails if necessary, until Starling Marte and Jason Grilli return to the lineup. Both of those players -- fresh from time off and hopefully fully healthy -- should provide a boost to the team in early-to-mid September. Until that time, I'd shake things up a bit and consider the following actions:

1. When Byrd arrives, send Andrew Lambo back to Indianapolis. Why? I want to keep Felix Pie, particularly while Marte's on the shelf. He's been capable against right-handed pitchers and he plays decent defense.

2. Give Pie a few more starts in left against right-handed pitchers, especially in PNC Park. I like Pie's speed and glove better than Tabata's in PNC's spacious left field, and he looks surprisingly capable at the dish as well.

3. Replace Locke with Kris Johnson for the September 1st start. While the Cardinals' lineup consists predominantly of right-handed hitters, they've struggled against left-handed pitchers. Since rosters expand on September 1, when Locke is scheduled to make his next start, the Pirates wouldn't have to make any roster moves to do this. Johnson last pitched on August 25, so he'd be taking the ball on 6 days rest.

4. Trade for Morneau before Saturday (so long as the Twins are not demanding a top 20 prospect). If I saw signs of life from Garrett Jones, I wouldn't advocate for this swap. But I don't. And their respective numbers over the first five months of the 2013 season suggest that Morneau would be an upgrade both offensively and defensively.

5. Put in a waiver claim and/or trade for the best available veteran pitcher (according to Pirates' scouts), starter or reliever. I don't believe the Pirates need to go out and get Dan Haren or anything, but an extra veteran arm who can pitch multiple innings would be helpful down the stretch and, potentially, into the playoffs. He could replace Jared Hughes on the playoff roster.

The Pirates have 14 games between today and September 11th -- 5 against the Brewers, 6 against the Cardinals, and 3 against the Rangers. That's a tough stretch. I believe "hanging on" consists of winning at least 7 of those games. At that point, Marte and Grilli should both be back and the Pirates should be near full strength.

Let's Go Bucs!


Really? Your suggestions make little sense.

Yeah, let's start the guy, who is only 28, but that nobody has wanted for two years simply because you dislike Tabata. Throw that guy out there in the middle of a pennant race when he could not even sniff the majors for two years, simply because he had a mediocre year at AAA.

And likewise, let's throw a rookie into the rotation for the stretch run and disregard the All Star who helped get us into first place because he has had a few bad starts.

Bring in the washed up Morneau because he had a couple good weeks in the midst of a bad season.

And bring in a pitcher when we have more than capable arms here and at AAA, once again, the arms that GOT US HERE! What has Hughes done to deserve being replaced. When healthy, he like most of the staff, has done his job for the most part.

All this team needs is a little tinkering. Bringing in Byrd and Buck were good moves. They replaced two guys and made the team stronger. Morneau would not do that. Borderline pitchers would not do that. You dance with who you brought to the party. Go Bucs!

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 Post subject: Re: Hanging On...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 4:52 pm 
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Animal wrote:
Really? Your suggestions make little sense.


Actually, all of my suggestions are based in fact, reasonable assumptions, and the evidence before my own two eyes.

Animal wrote:
Yeah, let's start the guy, who is only 28, but that nobody has wanted for two years simply because you dislike Tabata. Throw that guy out there in the middle of a pennant race when he could not even sniff the majors for two years, simply because he had a mediocre year at AAA.


Well, Pie has already started a couple of games, so it's not like it would be a radical move by the Pirates. My point is that he's faster and better with the glove than Tabata, giving the Pirates a decent option in cavernous left field. Alternatively, if the Pirates' believe that Marlon Byrd's 9 defensive runs saved in right field would translate to left field, they could put Byrd in left field and Tabata or Pie in right field.

The point is that PNC is a unique park that requires two center fielders in order to play good outfield defense. I'm trying to come up with a way for the Pirates to stay solid defensively at home while Marte heals. That's all.

If you look at Tabata's defensive metrics, he's just not very good.

Animal wrote:
And likewise, let's throw a rookie into the rotation for the stretch run and disregard the All Star who helped get us into first place because he has had a few bad starts.


A few bad starts? Jeff Locke has been awful since July 31st and he's taxing the bullpen. He hasn't lasted longer than 5.2 innings over his last SIX starts, over which he's given up 24 earned runs. You can't keep throwing him out there just because he had a good first half. What good did that do the Pirates last year when they kept pitching James McDonald because of his wonderful first half?

Animal wrote:
Bring in the washed up Morneau because he had a couple good weeks in the midst of a bad season.


Morneau's "bad season" is significantly better than Garrett Jones' "awful" season, so that's an upgrade.

Animal wrote:
And bring in a pitcher when we have more than capable arms here and at AAA, once again, the arms that GOT US HERE! What has Hughes done to deserve being replaced. When healthy, he like most of the staff, has done his job for the most part.


Many of the arms you like in AAA are nearing their innings limit and wearing down. Brandon Cumpton is not going to throw many more innings this season, and neither are many of the other young guys. You'll see a few unproven bullpen arms brought up, like Vic Black, Duke Welker, and Ryan Reid, and Kris Johnson and Stolmy Pimentel are probably capable of making a spot start or two, but you're the one who just said up above that you don't want to throw a "rookie into the rotation" in a pennant race. Another veteran arm would be helpful.

That's why I thought it may have been a good idea to claim Edinson Volquez when the Padres released him. His ERA was awful, but his peripherals weren't bad.

Animal wrote:
All this team needs is a little tinkering. Bringing in Byrd and Buck were good moves. They replaced two guys and made the team stronger. Morneau would not do that. Borderline pitchers would not do that. You dance with who you brought to the party. Go Bucs!


Morneau would provide better production than Jones (and add a guy with playoff experience), and a veteran arm could do the same versus a young guy running out of gas.

I agree that the team has done well to this point, but fortifying the roster could help prevent the collapses we saw in 2011 and 2012. Already, the Pirates are 6-11 in their last 17 games. Part of that is because some of the young guys are getting tired. I'm not talking about major moves; rather, I'm talking about small moves and additions that add a little more starch to the Pirates' spine...


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 Post subject: Re: Hanging On...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 5:04 pm 
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If Pie remains on the roster after the changes I think it makes since to give him a few looks over Tabata. Tabata is a platoon player, not much more. He wasn't an everyday player before marte's injury, he shouldn't be now.

Locke is nearly done, my belief anyways. The most he's pitched in his career is catching up to him. Not sure what the answer is there. Honestly I think the depth thing is turning into a bad thing as the season grows deeper. Don't forget about Cole and the fact that he's going to be shut down soon.

There are no answers at the first base platoon, Jones has failed this month. Pray at this point. Bell must come up with a strategy.

As long as the rest of the pen stays healthy once grilli returns Morris may be the odd man out.


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 Post subject: Re: Hanging On...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 5:13 pm 
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Some updates on these issues from Twitter:

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 Post subject: Re: Hanging On...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 5:15 pm 
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Wandy coming back would be huge.


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 Post subject: Re: Hanging On...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 5:16 pm 
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buccosfan77 wrote:
If Pie remains on the roster after the changes I think it makes since to give him a few looks over Tabata. Tabata is a platoon player, not much more. He wasn't an everyday player before marte's injury, he shouldn't be now.


Tabata is hitting .309 in August.

Also, define "everyday player" how you will, but he has gotten plenty of playing time since he came off of the DL that had nothing to do with Marte's injury. I consider Jordy Mercer an "everyday player" at this point, and he and Tabata have roughly the same number of ABs the last two months.


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 Post subject: Re: Hanging On...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 5:25 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Hanging On...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 5:59 pm 
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TheShark wrote:
buccosfan77 wrote:
If Pie remains on the roster after the changes I think it makes since to give him a few looks over Tabata. Tabata is a platoon player, not much more. He wasn't an everyday player before marte's injury, he shouldn't be now.


Tabata is hitting .309 in August.

Also, define "everyday player" how you will, but he has gotten plenty of playing time since he came off of the DL that had nothing to do with Marte's injury. I consider Jordy Mercer an "everyday player" at this point, and he and Tabata have roughly the same number of ABs the last two months.


He needs to continue to be platooned. Exactly what I said, unless he has good numbers against the right handed pitcher on the bump. I've seen the real Tabata, don't care what his numbers are this month.

Everyday player. Starling Marte
Everyday player. Not Jose Tabata.

Understand?


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 Post subject: Re: Hanging On...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 6:01 pm 
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The Wandy Rodriguez news nearly caused me to spit up a mouthful of coffee.

A client of mine just delivered four ridiculously good seats for me and some work colleagues for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday games in St. Louis. By my calculations, I was lined up to see Burnett on Friday night, Locke on Saturday night and Morton on Sunday afternoon. Nothing would make me happier than to see Rodriguez in that series instead of Locke - although that is likely too soon to expect him to be ready. Also wondering if the Bucs would consider pushing Liriano back from the Wednesday game in Milwaukee and have him pitch the Friday game in St. Louis.

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 Post subject: Re: Hanging On...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 6:06 pm 
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buccosfan77 wrote:
TheShark wrote:
buccosfan77 wrote:
If Pie remains on the roster after the changes I think it makes since to give him a few looks over Tabata. Tabata is a platoon player, not much more. He wasn't an everyday player before marte's injury, he shouldn't be now.


Tabata is hitting .309 in August.

Also, define "everyday player" how you will, but he has gotten plenty of playing time since he came off of the DL that had nothing to do with Marte's injury. I consider Jordy Mercer an "everyday player" at this point, and he and Tabata have roughly the same number of ABs the last two months.


He needs to continue to be platooned. Exactly what I said, unless he has good numbers against the right handed pitcher on the bump. I've seen the real Tabata, don't care what his numbers are this month.

Everyday player. Starling Marte
Everyday player. Not Jose Tabata.

Understand?


In his career he hits .274 against righties and .261 against lefties. Where is this belief coming from that he's some massive liability against righties? Is it because he's righthanded so it's just assumed that he's better against lefties?

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 Post subject: Re: Hanging On...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 6:42 pm 
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I don't care what his splits are, I'm not a sabermetric guy. Tabata doesn't impact a game well enough, especially from the leadoff spot to warrant playing everyday. His defense is average, flat footed running and all. When he gets on first he's not going anywhere where he's creating the action. Pie hit lefties well this year, he can play defense and he can run. A platoon wouldn't hurt a thing.


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 Post subject: Re: Hanging On...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 6:51 pm 
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buccosfan77 wrote:
I don't care what his splits are, I'm not a sabermetric guy. Tabata doesn't impact a game well enough, especially from the leadoff spot to warrant playing everyday. His defense is average, flat footed running and all. When he gets on first he's not going anywhere where he's creating the action. Pie hit lefties well this year, he can play defense and he can run. A platoon wouldn't hurt a thing.


Your eye test is suggesting that a guy with a career ML triple slash of .182/.243/.267 against LHP should play extensively against LHP... That's absolutely insane.


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 Post subject: Re: Hanging On...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 6:55 pm 
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What are you talking about? Pie is not that bad against right handed pitchers.


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 Post subject: Re: Hanging On...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 6:56 pm 
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buccosfan77 wrote:
I don't care what his splits are, I'm not a sabermetric guy. Tabata doesn't impact a game well enough, especially from the leadoff spot to warrant playing everyday. His defense is average, flat footed running and all. When he gets on first he's not going anywhere where he's creating the action. Pie hit lefties well this year, he can play defense and he can run. A platoon wouldn't hurt a thing.


You don't care about splits yet your original criticism of Tabata was that he didn't hit RHP well enough and are arguing he should be in a platoon. Gotcha.


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 Post subject: Re: Hanging On...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 6:57 pm 
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buccosfan77 wrote:
What are you talking about? Pie is not that bad against right handed pitchers.


Whoops, misread what you were saying.


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 Post subject: Re: Hanging On...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 7:21 pm 
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With Jeff Locke being optioned to AA this evening, it looks like I'm right on my #3.

Sorry that disappoints you, Animal.


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 Post subject: Re: Hanging On...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 10:00 pm 
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buccosfan77 wrote:
If Pie remains on the roster after the changes I think it makes since to give him a few looks over Tabata. Tabata is a platoon player, not much more. He wasn't an everyday player before marte's injury, he shouldn't be now.


Tabata OPS vs. righties - .737
Tabata OPS vs. lefties - .757

Tabata career OPS vs. righties - .709
Tabata career OPS vs. lefties - .737

Bookmark this site and check it before posting and you'll look much smarter.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/

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 Post subject: Re: Hanging On...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 10:05 pm 
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sisyphus wrote:
buccosfan77 wrote:
If Pie remains on the roster after the changes I think it makes since to give him a few looks over Tabata. Tabata is a platoon player, not much more. He wasn't an everyday player before marte's injury, he shouldn't be now.


Tabata OPS vs. righties - .737
Tabata OPS vs. lefties - .757

Tabata career OPS vs. righties - .709
Tabata career OPS vs. lefties - .737

Bookmark this site and check it before posting and you'll look much smarter.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/


Don't care one bit about that site, but thanks anyways.


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