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 Post subject: It's the Bullpen, Stupid...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2014 10:46 am 
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With the Pirates among the MLB leaders in blown saves and among the MLB leaders in 1-run and 2-run games, the bullpen is of critical importance to this team. All of the tight contests have meant a lot of use of the Pirates' two reliable arms, Tony Watson and Mark Melancon. Having used Melancon in all three games in Arizona and four of the last six overall, Clint Hurdle deemed him unavailable last night. That's understandable. What's not understandable is that Neal Huntington let the trade deadline come and go without fortifying the Pirates' bullpen.

Melancon's been fine as the closer, Watson's been good as the set-up man (though he's flagged lately, probably due in part to overuse), and Jared Hughes has emerged as a good 7th inning option (though his low K/9 rate means he's largely at the mercer of the BABIP Gods). After that, the Pirates are on really shaky ground. Trusting the likes of Justin Wilson, Ernesto Frieri, Jeanmar Gomez, and Stolmy Pimentel is not something teams embroiled in a pennant race should be doing.

At this point, reinforcements are a must. Is it a waiver trade for the likes of Texas Rangers' southpaw Neil Cotts? Is it promoting flamethrowing right-hander John Holdzkom and DFAing Jeanmar Gomez? I don't know. But something needs to be done. Otherwise, those 2-1 squeaker wins that the Pirates need will continue to -- like last night -- turn into 6-3 losses...


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 Post subject: Re: It's the Bullpen, Stupid...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2014 11:13 am 
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J_C_Steel wrote:
With the Pirates among the MLB leaders in blown saves and among the MLB leaders in 1-run and 2-run games, the bullpen is of critical importance to this team. All of the tight contests have meant a lot of use of the Pirates' two reliable arms, Tony Watson and Mark Melancon. Having used Melancon in all three games in Arizona and four of the last six overall, Clint Hurdle deemed him unavailable last night. That's understandable. What's not understandable is that Neal Huntington let the trade deadline come and go without fortifying the Pirates' bullpen.

Melancon's been fine as the closer, Watson's been good as the set-up man (though he's flagged lately, probably due in part to overuse), and Jared Hughes has emerged as a good 7th inning option (though his low K/9 rate means he's largely at the mercer of the BABIP Gods). After that, the Pirates are on really shaky ground. Trusting the likes of Justin Wilson, Ernesto Frieri, Jeanmar Gomez, and Stolmy Pimentel is not something teams embroiled in a pennant race should be doing.

At this point, reinforcements are a must. Is it a waiver trade for the likes of Texas Rangers' southpaw Neil Cotts? Is it promoting flamethrowing right-hander John Holdzkom and DFAing Jeanmar Gomez? I don't know. But something needs to be done. Otherwise, those 2-1 squeaker wins that the Pirates need will continue to -- like last night -- turn into 6-3 losses...


I couldn't agree more.

Wilson, Gomez, Pimentel and especially Frieri. scare the living shit out of me.


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 Post subject: Re: It's the Bullpen, Stupid...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2014 11:27 am 
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I'd keep Gomez just for long relief/extra innings. As for most of the rest, any change is fine by me.

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 Post subject: Re: It's the Bullpen, Stupid...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2014 11:28 am 
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Pimentel really has me curious. I actually like watching him pitch. His stuff is filthy and he can make batters look lost. Then again, I had the exact same feeling for James McDonald.

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 Post subject: Re: It's the Bullpen, Stupid...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2014 11:46 am 
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IA Pirate wrote:
Pimentel really has me curious. I actually like watching him pitch. His stuff is filthy and he can make batters look lost. Then again, I had the exact same feeling for James McDonald.


Or keep Pimental for the Gomez role. Actually that may make more sense.

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 Post subject: Re: It's the Bullpen, Stupid...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2014 11:58 am 
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J_C_Steel wrote:
With the Pirates among the MLB leaders in blown saves and among the MLB leaders in 1-run and 2-run games, the bullpen is of critical importance to this team. All of the tight contests have meant a lot of use of the Pirates' two reliable arms, Tony Watson and Mark Melancon. Having used Melancon in all three games in Arizona and four of the last six overall, Clint Hurdle deemed him unavailable last night. That's understandable. What's not understandable is that Neal Huntington let the trade deadline come and go without fortifying the Pirates' bullpen.

Melancon's been fine as the closer, Watson's been good as the set-up man (though he's flagged lately, probably due in part to overuse), and Jared Hughes has emerged as a good 7th inning option (though his low K/9 rate means he's largely at the mercer of the BABIP Gods). After that, the Pirates are on really shaky ground. Trusting the likes of Justin Wilson, Ernesto Frieri, Jeanmar Gomez, and Stolmy Pimentel is not something teams embroiled in a pennant race should be doing.

At this point, reinforcements are a must. Is it a waiver trade for the likes of Texas Rangers' southpaw Neil Cotts? Is it promoting flamethrowing right-hander John Holdzkom and DFAing Jeanmar Gomez? I don't know. But something needs to be done. Otherwise, those 2-1 squeaker wins that the Pirates need will continue to -- like last night -- turn into 6-3 losses...



Spot on and well put JC. I was livid when Watson was not inserted into a 1 run winnable game yesterday. The other 8th inning options can go South in a hurry......and they did. "Internal Options" my ass, NH dropped the ball big time in not acquiring much needed help for the pen. Clint Hurdle wants eveyone in the pen to do well and provides many opportunities......unfortunately it also provides many opportunities for losing. NH needs to give Clint viable options in the pen and he needs to manage to win, regardless of possibly hunting someones feeling. These guys are well paid professionals, so let the chips fall where they may.


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 Post subject: Re: It's the Bullpen, Stupid...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2014 12:12 pm 
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What did the Phillies ask in return for Bastardo?
The Pirates weren't the only ones inquiring and no one pulled the trigger. You can draw your own conclusions but that smells to me like Amaro placed an unreasonably high price tag on him.

Did I wish that Huntington upgraded the bullpen? Damn right I do. My frustration with Justin Wilson's inability to find the strike zone this year ranks very close to what my frustration was when watching balls fly off bats when Grilli pitched.

We simply don't know what was being sought in return from the Pirates. Without that knowledge, it is hard to conclude that Huntington was being a prospect hoarding miser or whether he was acting as a sage investor of the future.

All things being equal, Hughes got the ground ball that he was looking for in the 8th inning and Harrison flubbed it. Was it a routine Sunday play? No. Was it a grounder that should be fielded 99% of the time by a MLB third baseman? Yes. Would Pedro Alvarez have fielded that ball? Yes. The piecemeal approach to putting a defensive product on the field right now is a direct result of McCutchen's injury and Alvarez's throwing woes. The combination of Wilson's inability to throw strikes, Harrison being forced to be a "defensive" replacement at third base and Cutch/Alvarez sitting on the bench all factored into an extremely maddening loss in the late innings.

Before that, we continue to see Gaby Sanchez's personal vendetta against everyone on this Board who touted his abilities to rake left handed pitching. Nix isn't an offensive contributor. Stewart's contributions will be few and far between. Factor in the pitcher and 4/9ths of the lineup was brutal. Relying on a rookie (Polanco), a break-out (Harrison), a catcher (Martin), an inconsistent OFer (Marte) and Jordy Mercer to generate runs won't get you very far. Unless we see a string of marvelous performances by the starting staff or a number of bats get "hot" at the same time, I just don't see this club generating the runs necessary to win 50% of the games.

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 Post subject: Re: It's the Bullpen, Stupid...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2014 12:14 pm 
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Gomez is fine. I know he got squared up last night along w/ the rest of the bullpen but I don't think you can expect much more from someone in his designated "role" in the bullpen hierarchy. Obviously the thought at the beginning of the season was that Pimentel was being groomed to take over the long relief / spot starter role, but I don't think he'd be my de facto first sacrifice.

Frieri and his 6.06 FIP is obviously a total mess and tremendous cancer, but I mean he's someone who in his career has peripherals such as averaging 12 K/9. I think that's a piece I'd be comfortable letting Benedict and Searage get their hands on before cutting ties after a miserable start.

Wilson is clearly the biggest disappointment. There were warning signs in last year's peripherals, he managed an extremely low BABIP and didn't strike nearly as many batters out than what you'd anticipate with his velocity. But it was impossible to see this coming.


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 Post subject: Re: It's the Bullpen, Stupid...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2014 12:28 pm 
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rockman wrote:
Clint Hurdle wants eveyone in the pen to do well and provides many opportunities......unfortunately it also provides many opportunities for losing.


I don't think that this statement could be more inaccurate.

If Hurdle was so interested in making sure that everyone had "many" opportunities, we'd be seeing a hell of a lot more of Pimental. Hurdle's approach is pretty steady. When leading, Hughes has the 7th, Watson the 8th and Melancon the 9th. Now . . . you can raise issues until you are blue in the face whether defining roles in the bullpen is a sound strategy but that is the way that Hurdle runs the bullpen (as well as a plethora of other managers).

Hurdle also cannot burn out his bullpen. We've seen Watson's effectiveness drop somewhat. Whether that is due to statistical regression, arm fatigue, overuse . . I have no idea. I do know that the Pirates employ team physicians, a pitching coach and a bullpen coach. And . . . I'm pretty sure that all of those individuals play roles in use of the pitching staff. If the team of coaches/manager and team physicians advise that it would be best to rest a pitcher, I'm not in a good position to say that their decision is off-base.

From what I read, Melancon wasn't available last night. Watson was going to finish the game. After Watson, my trust level in that bullpen falls with Jared Hughes right now. Hughes is not only right handed but throws a hard sinker. He got the first out and then had to face Stanton. Frankly, I'd rather see Hughes against Stanton than Watson. The four pitch walk was frustrating but . . . again . . . Hughes did his job by getting McGehee to chase a sinker and hit a grounder that should have been a DP. Unfortunately, Harrison's error placed Hurdle in a tough spot. Do you allow Hughes to pitch to Jones? Do you bring in Wilson to face a right-handed PHer? Personally, I would have preferred to see Hughes try to go after Jones with another right handed hitter on deck - even if one of Jones' strengths is hitting low inside pitches. I just have little faith in Wilson's ability to throw strikes and any MLB hitter can sit on a 2-0 or 3-1 97 mph fastball with not much movement.

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 Post subject: Re: It's the Bullpen, Stupid...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2014 12:29 pm 
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TheShark wrote:
Wilson is clearly the biggest disappointment. There were warning signs in last year's peripherals, he managed an extremely low BABIP and didn't strike nearly as many batters out than what you'd anticipate with his velocity. But it was impossible to see this coming.


On the list of this year's disappointments, I agree with you. Wilson ranks WAY up there.

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 Post subject: Re: It's the Bullpen, Stupid...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2014 12:40 pm 
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No. 9 wrote:
From what I read, Melancon wasn't available last night. Watson was going to finish the game. After Watson, my trust level in that bullpen falls with Jared Hughes right now. Hughes is not only right handed but throws a hard sinker. He got the first out and then had to face Stanton. Frankly, I'd rather see Hughes against Stanton than Watson. The four pitch walk was frustrating but . . . again . . . Hughes did his job by getting McGehee to chase a sinker and hit a grounder that should have been a DP. Unfortunately, Harrison's error placed Hurdle in a tough spot. Do you allow Hughes to pitch to Jones? Do you bring in Wilson to face a right-handed PHer? Personally, I would have preferred to see Hughes try to go after Jones with another right handed hitter on deck - even if one of Jones' strengths is hitting low inside pitches. I just have little faith in Wilson's ability to throw strikes and any MLB hitter can sit on a 2-0 or 3-1 97 mph fastball with not much movement.


Melancon was absolutely available last night. He's only thrown 42 pitches in the last 17 days. Read that again.

It was Watson -- who had been used all three days in Arizona and four of the past six games -- who was not available.

Given that usage, after Harrison's error, Hurdle should have gone to Mark Melancon for a 5-out save. Melancon is well-rested and should be more than capable of that. Plus, his cutter destroys lefties and he's a better match-up for Garrett Jones than Justin Wilson is for lefty masher Jeff Baker.


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 Post subject: Re: It's the Bullpen, Stupid...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2014 1:04 pm 
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J_C_Steel wrote:
Melancon was absolutely available last night. He's only thrown 42 pitches in the last 17 days. Read that again.

It was Watson -- who had been used all three days in Arizona and four of the past six games -- who was not available.

Given that usage, after Harrison's error, Hurdle should have gone to Mark Melancon for a 5-out save. Melancon is well-rested and should be more than capable of that. Plus, his cutter destroys lefties and he's a better match-up for Garrett Jones than Justin Wilson is for lefty masher Jeff Baker.



JC -
You're absolutely correct. Last night, Walk and Neverette commented that Watson must not be available but I'm 99.9% certain that I read somewhere this a.m. that it was Melancon. It stood out when I read it because it contradicted Walk and Neverette. Thought it was the T-R but Sawchik's current article references Watson's unavailablity last night.

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 Post subject: Re: It's the Bullpen, Stupid...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2014 1:18 pm 
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No. 9 wrote:
J_C_Steel wrote:
Melancon was absolutely available last night. He's only thrown 42 pitches in the last 17 days. Read that again.

It was Watson -- who had been used all three days in Arizona and four of the past six games -- who was not available.

Given that usage, after Harrison's error, Hurdle should have gone to Mark Melancon for a 5-out save. Melancon is well-rested and should be more than capable of that. Plus, his cutter destroys lefties and he's a better match-up for Garrett Jones than Justin Wilson is for lefty masher Jeff Baker.



JC -
You're absolutely correct. Last night, Walk and Neverette commented that Watson must not be available but I'm 99.9% certain that I read somewhere this a.m. that it was Melancon. It stood out when I read it because it contradicted Walk and Neverette. Thought it was the T-R but Sawchik's current article references Watson's unavailablity last night.


Melancon was shown starting his routine warmups after the 1st out in the 8th last night.

But yes. Bullpen help is needed and the price probably just went up a bit after last night. If Watson and Melancon aren't available, the Pirates better be up by 5 or 6 runs going into the 8th inning.

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 Post subject: Re: It's the Bullpen, Stupid...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2014 1:43 pm 
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I agree. NH needs to bite the bullet and quit being so stubborn. Admit you made a move that wasn't the best (Frieri) and cut ties. Put the 7 guys down there that give you the best chance, and to hell with the circumstances.


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 Post subject: Re: It's the Bullpen, Stupid...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2014 2:13 pm 
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Even if Frieri doesn't have options I'd try to send him to AAA. I think there's a good chance he'd pass through waivers and if he doesn't, who cares?

There is an obvious need for bullpen help though. I don't think they should have done something crazy like giving up Meadows or Bell for an Andrew Miller type but maybe that's really all that was on the market. Vic Black would look really good in a Pirates uniform right now (yes I realize Byrd was a nice addition for the stretch run, I'm just saying).


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 Post subject: Re: It's the Bullpen, Stupid...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2014 2:16 pm 
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doug frobel wrote:
NH needs to bite the bullet and quit being so stubborn. Admit you made a move that wasn't the best (Frieri) and cut ties.


I never understand when these types of comments are made.

Do you really think that Huntington is purposely making the team he operates worse and therefor lessening his job security because of a pride issue regarding trading one struggling reliever for another? This FO hasn't hesitated to DFA signees bases on their performances who were actually making significant money, i.e. Bedard or Overbay.

Not to mention that I'm sure Searage, Hurdle and the rest of the staff's input working with a guy everyday is weighed just as heavily into a decision to cut a player based on poor performance. I'm not defending Frieri, he is terrible right now and might never rebound, but as awful as he has been, he was brought in as a reclamation project and I don't think the Pirates are wrong to give him more 10 IP before cutting him.


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 Post subject: Re: It's the Bullpen, Stupid...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2014 2:35 pm 
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Good for conversation. This guy, that guy. How bout guys that strikes when needed? I'll take that guy.

The best was the look on Wilson's face last night. How tight was his hole?


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 Post subject: Re: It's the Bullpen, Stupid...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2014 2:47 pm 
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buccosfan77 wrote:
Good for conversation. This guy, that guy. How bout guys that strikes when needed? I'll take that guy.

The best was the look on Wilson's face last night. How tight was his hole?


Couldn't be any tighter than Neal's on a regular basis. See, that's my issue with him. He's doing a pretty good job, but he's awfully conservative. I suppose he has to be for a small market GM and a tight-fisted owner. I certainly don't think he is trying to make the team worse, I just think conservatism blinds one's vision sometimes. And you hear comments like this because this is a message board. Opinions are just like arm pits- everyone has a couple, and everyone else's stink but mine.

;)


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 Post subject: Re: It's the Bullpen, Stupid...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2014 2:51 pm 
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doug frobel wrote:
buccosfan77 wrote:
Good for conversation. This guy, that guy. How bout guys that strikes when needed? I'll take that guy.

The best was the look on Wilson's face last night. How tight was his hole?


Couldn't be any tighter than Neal's on a regular basis. See, that's my issue with him. He's doing a pretty good job, but he's awfully conservative. I suppose he has to be for a small market GM and a tight-fisted owner. I certainly don't think he is trying to make the team worse, I just think conservatism blinds one's vision sometimes. And you hear comments like this because this is a message board. Opinions are just like arm pits- everyone has a couple, and everyone else's stink but mine.

;)

The fact is, with McCutchen's future indeterminate, Pedro's throwing issues, Walker's on and off back troubles, and whatever is up with Cole, I can't really say that he SHOULD try to slap a Band-Aid on this team.

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 Post subject: Re: It's the Bullpen, Stupid...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2014 2:59 pm 
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I hear ya...


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