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 Post subject: Moving on
PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 9:04 am 
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So he went to the Phillies for 16 million. I'm ready to look at the guys we have in Florida that are going to be with us. Not upset-- he helped but that's just a salary we're not going to pay him at his age.

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 Post subject: Re: Moving on
PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 12:06 pm 
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So as it stands the rotation is:

Cole
Liriano
Morton
Wandy
Volquez/Locke/Cumpton.

How do we feel going into the season with that group? I just hope Wandy's forearm issues don't return.


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 Post subject: Re: Moving on
PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 12:42 pm 
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If Wandy's healthy, it's a pretty good group. I'd just like to see more strikeouts.


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 Post subject: Re: Moving on
PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 12:48 pm 
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My optimism has nosedived. That group does not look particularly strong. Not 90+ wins strong. Oh sure, if Wandy comes back better than he was before the injury, and if Locke comes back more 1st half than 2nd half, we could contend. Maybe its nice to have a rotation of guys who have to prove themselves, because Cole and Liriano still have almost as much to prove.

So, who starts on Opening Day. I presume it's Liriano, but could Hurdle somehow lose his mind and start Cole?


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 Post subject: Re: Moving on
PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 1:13 pm 
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Pirates fans are perturbed at the fact the team would not offer Burnett a qualifying offer of $14.1 million, but apparently could offer him $12 million for a 1-year deal. The issue is complex, for the following reasons:

1. The Pirates stated that they were unwilling to spend that amount of money on one player. I believe that is kind of true but not the reason for the failure to make a QO to Burnett.

2. Instead, the Pirates are not willing to pay market value for productive veteran players. It's just that simple. The team has a budget. The Yankees and the Dodgers have a different budget. Therefore, the Yankees and the Dodgers can set the top market price for healthy, productive veterans and the Pirates cannot. They just can't.

3. Instead, the Pirates will get veteran players but at a "discount" price - Burnett trade with the Yankees paying a significant portion of the salary, same for Rodriguez, Martin at a bargain rate, Liriano at a bargain rate, etc.

4. I believe that the Pirates had less interest in Burnett than we fans would believe, due to their own internal evaluations. His superior ground ball rate and great K rate make we wonder what the heck they are using, but those statistics are very, very basic. The Pirates have advanced statistical analyses that we seen in play every game with the defensive shifts. The team further uses advanced statistical analysis to determine which players they want to obtain, and which they are willing to let go. I am not happy about Burnett signing with Philadelphia, with no compensation pick to the Pirates, but the Pirates were the team that believed Burnett, and Liriano, and Melancon, and Mazzarro, and Gomez had value, so when the team uses the same analysis to decide that Burnett does not have the value needed to make a QO, then I grit my teeth and say, "Okay."

5. The Pirates also believe that a 1-year deal with Burnett has less value to the team because they have Taillon on the horizon. "But they can have BOTH Burnett and Taillon," most fans respond ... apparently, no they can't. The team wanted to use $14 million to sign Josh Johnson and James Loney. They signed none of the above. Does not change the fact that the team determined that Burnett not worth $14 million to the 2014 Pirates.

6. The team believed that Edinson Volquez was worth $5 million and that A.J. Burnett was not worth $14 million. Volquez + Taillon likely provide as much WAR to the Pirates as Burnett does for the Phillies - and very likely more. Part of Burnett's value comes from the defense and bullpen the Pirates have. The Pirates therefore believe that the team keeps such value and imparts it to replacement players, and is not going to pay pitchers for a value that the TEAM provides.

7. Finally, I am very disappointed that Burnett signed with the Phillies. Burnett on the Pirates give them the best rotation in the NL, in my opinion, once Taillon arrived. 3 potential No. 1 starters - Cole, Liriano and Burnett. A very, very underrated No. 4 - Morton. Taillon rounding out the top 5 - with an arm that is another potential No. 1 starter.

It is what it is. Not thrilled about the situation, but I accept that the Pirates are the Rays, not the Yankees. The Rays could not keep James Shields and are not going to be able to keep David Price. The Pirates decided they could not keep Burnett. Is that the outcome either team wants? No. But failing to have a legitimate plan to replace a pitcher like Burnett is a Littlefield special. I prefer the current administration's plan.


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 Post subject: Re: Moving on
PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 1:28 pm 
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JollyRoger wrote:
Cole
Liriano
Morton
Wandy
Volquez/Locke/Cumpton.


With Taillon being an almost mid-season lock, I'm not overly concerned about the no. 5 starter spot. Yeah, everyone can keep bringing up J. Sanchez because it was so recent, but it's entirely unpredictable. Not too long ago, the Pirates also managed to get multiple great first half results from pitchers like Correia and J-Mac as well. If Volquez becomes a xFIP > ERA reclamation failure, I think the sport start depth is fine. Obviously a lot rides on the health status of Morton/Wandy, but I'm pretty opitmistic about the rotation.


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 Post subject: Re: Moving on
PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 2:17 pm 
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Both val and Bucfan hit on an important thought regarding AJ, and pitching in general. Tim Williams goes into depth here saying maybe its the egg before the chicken. In short, it might be that the supporting cast, parks, defense, etc. are not so much support, as the reason.

http://t.co/F3FI1jyhQm

Its the system baby.

ZM

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 Post subject: Re: Moving on
PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 4:18 pm 
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I think the rotation is better than last year, especially if Wandy stays healthy and Taillon shows up at mid-point. I'm still a believer in Locke bouncing back as well and I think Cumpton is underrated. I think Burnett is going to regret his decision to go for a little extra money. He's going to have a very long year with the "old men" playing behind him.


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 Post subject: Re: Moving on
PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 6:01 pm 
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urbman21 wrote:
I think the rotation is better than last year, especially if Wandy stays healthy and Taillon shows up at mid-point. I'm still a believer in Locke bouncing back as well and I think Cumpton is underrated. I think Burnett is going to regret his decision to go for a little extra money. He's going to have a very long year with the "old men" playing behind him.

I wouldn't want to play in Philly....


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 Post subject: Re: Moving on
PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 8:27 pm 
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TheShark wrote:
JollyRoger wrote:
Cole
Liriano
Morton
Wandy
Volquez/Locke/Cumpton.


With Taillon being an almost mid-season lock, I'm not overly concerned about the no. 5 starter spot. Yeah, everyone can keep bringing up J. Sanchez because it was so recent, but it's entirely unpredictable. Not too long ago, the Pirates also managed to get multiple great first half results from pitchers like Correia and J-Mac as well. If Volquez becomes a xFIP > ERA reclamation failure, I think the sport start depth is fine. Obviously a lot rides on the health status of Morton/Wandy, but I'm pretty opitmistic about the rotation.


Agreed.

Provided Liriano/Morton/Wandy stay healthy [enough] then the rotation should be fine and only get better w/ the addition of Taillon.

If Volquez can provide 1.5-ish WAR then all should be gravy. If not then the Bucs will need Locke to conquer the regression monster.

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 Post subject: Re: Moving on
PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 8:35 pm 
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AJ' going from the 3rd best defensive team in baseball to the absolute worst. That translates to about 22 extra runs. Have fun in Philly. You will miss PNC Park.


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 Post subject: Re: Moving on
PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 10:42 pm 
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ZelieMike wrote:
Tim Williams goes into depth here saying maybe its the egg before the chicken. In short, it might be that the supporting cast, parks, defense, etc. are not so much support, as the reason.

http://t.co/F3FI1jyhQm

Its the system baby.

ZM

+1

Wow, great find and really good article. Tim Williams offers detailed statistical data which show that in significant part, the very good results from Pirates pitchers are predicated on the Pirates' defense, the ground-ball approach, and PNC Park.

I also believe that the Pirates' plus bullpen also plays a part, since the starting pitchers can go after hitters, induce the ground balls, and not fear that if they give up 2 infield bleeders for singles, that the pen will turn that into 2 earned runs against the starter.

That plays a role.


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 Post subject: Re: Moving on
PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 11:05 pm 
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When you lead the NL in K/9, like Burnett did, you're not as dependent on those other factors as, say, Charlie Morton. Just another reason it would have been nice to bring back A.J.


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 Post subject: Re: Moving on
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 10:55 am 
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J_C_Steel wrote:
When you lead the NL in K/9, like Burnett did, you're not as dependent on those other factors as, say, Charlie Morton. Just another reason it would have been nice to bring back A.J.


Did you bother to read? Because Williams shows just HOW those factors affected Burnett.

ZM

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 Post subject: Re: Moving on
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 11:46 am 
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Bucfan wrote:
ZelieMike wrote:
Tim Williams goes into depth here saying maybe its the egg before the chicken. In short, it might be that the supporting cast, parks, defense, etc. are not so much support, as the reason.

http://t.co/F3FI1jyhQm

Its the system baby.

ZM

+1

Wow, great find and really good article. Tim Williams offers detailed statistical data which show that in significant part, the very good results from Pirates pitchers are predicated on the Pirates' defense, the ground-ball approach, and PNC Park.

I also believe that the Pirates' plus bullpen also plays a part, since the starting pitchers can go after hitters, induce the ground balls, and not fear that if they give up 2 infield bleeders for singles, that the pen will turn that into 2 earned runs against the starter.

That plays a role.



I'm just going to say that it is a very dangerous line of thinking when you start devaluing talent by rationalizing they are a creation of the system. No doubt certain other factors have a positive impact. But this team has played in the same ballpark since 2001, had pretty good middle infield defense for much of that time, and keeping the ball down has always been an emphasis of pitchers for as long as I've been watching baseball. Until a year or two ago the pitchers mostly stunk. The organization has learned how to better play at PNC, but mostly pitching is better because they found better talent and found better coaching. The biggest success stories, Burnett and Liriano, weren't stiffs. These were talented pitchers that have showed dominance at other points of their career.


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 Post subject: Re: Moving on
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 12:20 pm 
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But the defensive metrics and shifts, and emphasis and buy in on creating ground balls, was not in effect.

And, the article doesn't discount talent at all. Just says the supposed support factors are not as minor as believed. Williams notes that you need a certain level of talent to make it work, but that much more can be garnered from a tall hard throwing righty with downward plane, than a Dave Littlefield soft tossing leftie.

The numbers certainly support Williams point.

ZM

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 Post subject: Re: Moving on
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 12:24 pm 
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ZelieMike wrote:
J_C_Steel wrote:
When you lead the NL in K/9, like Burnett did, you're not as dependent on those other factors as, say, Charlie Morton. Just another reason it would have been nice to bring back A.J.


Did you bother to read? Because Williams shows just HOW those factors affected Burnett.

ZM


I did. And because of his Ks, Burnett has a better chance of posting ace-like numbers for the Pirates. A lesser pitcher has a better chance of putting up above-average numbers. Burnett's ERA is likely to rise in Philly, but watch his FIP and xFIP to see what he could have done for the Pirates.


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 Post subject: Re: Moving on
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 12:28 pm 
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You've fixated on a number, K/9. How does that work for you in the 5th and 6th innings when he dies, as is his norm these days?

The resurgence in Burnett's career is not related to his K/9. It was his commitment to the two seamer, inducing ground balls and the defense/park.

His commitment to the two seamer might disappear, and groundballs/defense/park all now suck for him. xFIP will mean s**t when he is giving up 5,6 runs a game in that park. But, I suppose you can look at them and say, "wow, he would be fine playing at PNC, though".

ZM

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 Post subject: Re: Moving on
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 12:56 pm 
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ZelieMike wrote:
But the defensive metrics and shifts, and emphasis and buy in on creating ground balls, was not in effect.

And, the article doesn't discount talent at all. Just says the supposed support factors are not as minor as believed. Williams notes that you need a certain level of talent to make it work, but that much more can be garnered from a tall hard throwing righty with downward plane, than a Dave Littlefield soft tossing leftie.

The numbers certainly support Williams point.

ZM




ZM, first off I believe the impact of defensive shifting is overstated. And there is evidence to support that.
http://hiddenvigorish.com/2013/10/impac ... rstated-2/

Secondly, the Pirates are hardly the only team employing a system of defensive shifting and more and more are implementing it. And it is complete BS to say the Pirates or any other team weren't emphasizing ground balls previously. Now the coaching staff is maybe better at how to identify/instruct how to do it. But that doesn't mean it wasn't a prior emphasis. The only thing unique to the Pirates is the field and the individual talent they currently have (both the pitchers and coaching talent).

As for the soft tossing lefty you mention, there is actually evidence to support they are helped more at PNC than a hard throwing righty. PNC park factors hurt right handed hitters more than any park in baseball. (PNC is 7th for LH hitters). Look at how much better Maholm has been in his career at PNC park than anywhere else. I think one of the biggest things people miss with the Pirates last year was the LH starting pitcher advantage they had. They were the only team in the NL Central with more than 1 LH starter. Most of the teams didn't have even 1 full time LH starter. Conversely there are a lot of LH bats in the division. The Bucs also had two stud LH relievers that were capable of multiple inning relief stints. The Pirates killed the platoon advantage better than any team in the NL last year.


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 Post subject: Re: Moving on
PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 1:57 pm 
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ZelieMike wrote:
You've fixated on a number, K/9. How does that work for you in the 5th and 6th innings when he dies, as is his norm these days?

The resurgence in Burnett's career is not related to his K/9. It was his commitment to the two seamer, inducing ground balls and the defense/park.

His commitment to the two seamer might disappear, and groundballs/defense/park all now suck for him. xFIP will mean s**t when he is giving up 5,6 runs a game in that park. But, I suppose you can look at them and say, "wow, he would be fine playing at PNC, though".

ZM


Here's the thing. You can't take any crap pitcher and turn him into a diamond with defensive shifts and ballpark factors. You can't. Jonathan Sanchez didn't pan out, neither did James McDonald.

But players with high K/9 rates and fairly low BB/9 rates have much higher CEILINGS when those defensive shifts and ballpark factors are added in. That's why Burnett could provide 3.0 and 4.0 WAR in consecutive seasons as a Pittsburgh Pirate -- it was partly due to the defense and the ballpark, sure, but he wouldn't have had a shot at putting up stellar numbers if not for his K/9 and BB/9 rates.

That's why even the most optimistic people on this board about Edinson Volquez are saying that his CEILING is 1.5 WAR. He's just not as good of a pitcher as A.J. Burnett, so the added help from the defense and ballpark (and he pitched in PETCO last year, which is just as extreme a pitchers' park as PNC, mind you) won't be able to turn him into the kind of contributor that A.J. was the last two seasons.


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