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 Post subject: Things I like about the Pirates so far
PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 2:26 am 
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The season is just 13 games old, but I have had the pleasure of seeing all but two games via television. These are the things that I like about the 2009 Pittsburgh Pirates so far:

  • Duke is a good number 3 starter, and I believe that Ohlendorf can be a good number 4. Both have two quality starts in their first 3, and one rough outing. Every team in the world would accept quality starts from the number 3 anf 4 starters 2/3 of the time.
  • McLouth is getting on base, hitting for power, doing a good job in the number 3 spot. He was a much better hitter last year as the lead-off and I was concerned that he would not produce at the 3 spot like he did at lead-off. No such worry.
  • Doumit's defense behind the plate is better than last year. He is blocking balls in the dirt, threw a runner out, and if his receiving comes along, he will be fine defensively. Add his hitting to that defense and he is a "plus" player for the Buccos.
  • Jessie Chavez is way better than advertised. He had some control issues his first appearance ... hey, maybe he was a bit nervous? He is throwing gas, and working on a change-up. Personally, I think it nice that the number 11 pitcher can deal at 95 mph. If - no, WHEN - a game gets into the 15th inning, the Pirates can bring out a guy dealing 95 mph. Other teams are going to feature a guy nibbling the corners at 86 mph. Which would you rather have?
  • Matt Capps is dealing heat like it was 2007. When he pitched on Friday, he was pounding the strike zone at 95 mph. As the weather warms, I expect that he will be back to 96-97 mph.
  • Paul Maholm - money. Goes deep every start, keeps the team in the game, wins games, grinds out innings, breaks bats.
  • Bucco hitters are really crushing balls on the inner half of the plate, particularly McLouth and Adam Laroche. McLouth and Laroche have both turned on pitches on the inner half and driven them out of the park. Good to see.
  • Meanwhile, best, and last - Pirates pitchers are pounding the inside corner. All of them. Every inning. Every batter. Albert Pujols, Chipper Jones, Hanley Ramirez, it does not matter. And their performance in breaking bats and keeping hitters from looking just at the outside corner is accompanied by 4 shutouts in 13 games and a team ERA so far of 3.08 and 9 quality starts in 13 games. Gee, I wonder if their is a relationship??


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 Post subject: Re: Thing I do not like about the Pirates so far
PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 2:52 am 
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I wish Russell would stop playing the small ball mentality in the 1st inning, especially when the starter is WILD.

You have Morgan walk on 4 pitches, get to second, and then you have the National League leader in xtra base hits, giving up an out(or attempting to) just to get him to 3rd base.

Play for the big inning , for a change, i am tired of the mentality that 1 run is going to hold up, and over the course of 9 innings, that won't usually be the case. I understand tonight was an exception, but why would you give up and out for advancing a base, when you're best hitter(track record) is at the plate.

I like the running game which is starting to become more defined, but for the sake of all of die hards, PLAY to score, and score, and score, unless the situation CALLS for scoring 1 run.

Just my 2 cents, but i am really starting to like the way these pitchers don't throw the small to the same spot.

I don't recall Mike Mussina throwing any harder than Ohlendorf, but he had location, and kept hitters guessing constantly.
Curious to see how Duke pitches vs. San Diego friday. Hopefully he will be on the good side of the broken bat hits, and keep his pitch count down so it resembles his first few starts.


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 Post subject: Re: Thing I do not like about the Pirates so far
PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 3:03 am 
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palushock wrote:
I wish Russell would stop playing the small ball mentality in the 1st inning, especially when the starter is WILD.

You have Morgan walk on 4 pitches, get to second, and then you have the National League leader in xtra base hits, giving up an out(or attempting to) just to get him to 3rd base.

Play for the big inning , for a change, i am tired of the mentality that 1 run is going to hold up, and over the course of 9 innings, that won't usually be the case. I understand tonight was an exception, but why would you give up and out for advancing a base, when you're best hitter(track record) is at the plate.

As No. 9 noted in the game thread, it is not clear who decided to have Freddy bunt. I agree with 9 and doubt that Sanchez was "giving himself up." It looked like he was moving as he was attempting to bunt, as if he was trying to push the ball past the pitcher for a hit. He very well could have done so on his own.

And from what I have seen of Russell, he would NOT have Sanchez bunt in the first inning, with a runner on 2nd and nobody out.


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 Post subject: Re: Things I like about the Pirates so far
PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 8:32 am 
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Palu -
I'm 99.9% certain that Freddie was bunting for a base hit. We've all likely seen Freddie be called upon to sacrifice and his effort last night was nowhere close to that. I think that Freddie probably thought that he could catch the Marlins on their heels with a clearly flustered pitcher. He had just walked Morgan on four pitches and Morgan was four or five steps into the steal before the pitcher had released the ball. While I would have preferred that Freddie take a strike at that point, the replay confirmed that the pitch was in the strike zone and was a good pitch for trying top bunt for a base hit. Freddie just got under it a bit.

I have to disagree with the contention that "small ball" or whatever you want to call it is founded upon a notion that 1 run will be enough to win a game. Far from it. There are still 8 innings to score and - given this team's offensive challenges - it is hard to justify sitting back and waiting for 3 or 4 run innings. Thpose types of inning will be much more rare than games where 1 or 2 runs are scratched out in multiple innings.

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 Post subject: Re: Things I like about the Pirates so far
PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 10:25 am 
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McClouth also attempted to bunt with runners on 1st and 2nd and nobody out in the third. He bunted the first pitch foul and then swung away after that for a GIDP. As with Sanchez, it had the look of a base hit attempt rather than a sacrifice.


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 Post subject: Re: Things I like about the Pirates so far
PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 10:42 am 
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Bucfan wrote:
The season is just 13 games old, but I have had the pleasure of seeing all but two games via television. These are the things that I like about the 2009 Pittsburgh Pirates so far:

  • Duke is a good number 3 starter, and I believe that Ohlendorf can be a good number 4. Both have two quality starts in their first 3, and one rough outing. Every team in the world would accept quality starts from the number 3 anf 4 starters 2/3 of the time.
  • McLouth is getting on base, hitting for power, doing a good job in the number 3 spot. He was a much better hitter last year as the lead-off and I was concerned that he would not produce at the 3 spot like he did at lead-off. No such worry.
  • Doumit's defense behind the plate is better than last year. He is blocking balls in the dirt, threw a runner out, and if his receiving comes along, he will be fine defensively. Add his hitting to that defense and he is a "plus" player for the Buccos.
  • Jessie Chavez is way better than advertised. He had some control issues his first appearance ... hey, maybe he was a bit nervous? He is throwing gas, and working on a change-up. Personally, I think it nice that the number 11 pitcher can deal at 95 mph. If - no, WHEN - a game gets into the 15th inning, the Pirates can bring out a guy dealing 95 mph. Other teams are going to feature a guy nibbling the corners at 86 mph. Which would you rather have?
  • Matt Capps is dealing heat like it was 2007. When he pitched on Friday, he was pounding the strike zone at 95 mph. As the weather warms, I expect that he will be back to 96-97 mph.
  • Paul Maholm - money. Goes deep every start, keeps the team in the game, wins games, grinds out innings, breaks bats.
  • Bucco hitters are really crushing balls on the inner half of the plate, particularly McLouth and Adam Laroche. McLouth and Laroche have both turned on pitches on the inner half and driven them out of the park. Good to see.
  • Meanwhile, best, and last - Pirates pitchers are pounding the inside corner. All of them. Every inning. Every batter. Albert Pujols, Chipper Jones, Hanley Ramirez, it does not matter. And their performance in breaking bats and keeping hitters from looking just at the outside corner is accompanied by 4 shutouts in 13 games and a team ERA so far of 3.08 and 9 quality starts in 13 games. Gee, I wonder if their is a relationship??


I think as the season progresses you may see Ohlendorf emerge as the "#3" pitcher and Duke slide back a bit. But you are right, both are off to good starts. I really liked Ohlendorf's stuff when they got him and last night he used it extremely well. Duke is a solid back end of the rotation guy. I still worry that he doesn't strike enough guys out, and thus has games where the hit balls fall in like Sunday. But his stuff looks better this year for sure. Think about this...if they keep Snell's head on straight and get Gorzo to start throwing strikes at AAA this could be a really good rotation.

I want to see a larger sample size on McClouth but indications are good that he is going to hit regardless of where he is in the lineup. They MUST have that this year until some of the other bats get to Pittsburgh to help.

I've never worried like some about Doumit. He surely isn't a gold glover, but I never thought he was as bad as some here do/did. With his plus bat, his defense is sufficient. I always thought his arm was good.

I kind of like Chavez too. And one of the things I love about Huntington and crew is that they look for guys with good stuff. As a fan, I can't stand watching a bunch of guys who are soft tossers. Every team has a few, and that is ok, but the Pirates always seemed to have an entire boatload of them. Hopefully Chavez will continue to improve his control.

Believe it or not, I like Matt Capps better when he isn't ALWAYS throwing strikes. His biggest problem, IMO, is that he used to throw too many strikes. Guys started sitting on that first pitch fastball because they knew it would be a strike. One thing I have always liked about him is his mentality. If there is a thing such as a "closer's mentality" he has it. He doesn't get too down, and he always keeps coming at guys. And if his MPH's are up even better!

Paul Maholm=All Star. Enough said.

Great to see LaRoche start like this. I'd love to see him do it all year. It really helps the middle of this lineup, especially this year, if he is driving the ball like he has done so far.

And your last point is obvious just like you said. You have to pitch inside, regardless of who you are. Glavine and Maddox both lived on the outside corner(off the corner with most umpires!!!) but if you watched they would always freeze guys with pitches inside nearly every at bat. Hard to believe it took Kerrigan and a wooden dummy to get these guys to realize that. Makes you wonder what the other pitching coaches were telling them...or maybe it is the dummy????? Hmm......


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 Post subject: Re: Things I like about the Pirates so far
PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 11:12 am 
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burghermeister wrote:
McClouth also attempted to bunt with runners on 1st and 2nd and nobody out in the third. He bunted the first pitch foul and then swung away after that for a GIDP. As with Sanchez, it had the look of a base hit attempt rather than a sacrifice.

Even so, in those situations both players should be swinging away. The chances of avoiding an out when bunting with men on are minimal, and the team would be best served in both situations if the hitter was trying to hit the ball out of the infield.

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 Post subject: Re: Things I like about the Pirates so far
PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 11:53 am 
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Doesn't matter who made the decisions to bunt, IMHO they were wrong decisions. Both are very capable of moving the runner up by hitting to the right side and in fact both are very capable of getting hits while trying to move people.

Everyone, myself included, is getting pretty punped up this year. Probably going to be disappointed soon but hell, let's run with this as long as it lasts. Maybe...........

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 Post subject: Re: Things I like about the Pirates so far
PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 12:09 pm 
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Quote:
McLouth is getting on base, hitting for power, doing a good job in the number 3 spot. He was a much better hitter last year as the lead-off and I was concerned that he would not produce at the 3 spot like he did at lead-off. No such worry.


It's actually a good thing he's not batting lead-off. He's hitting .182/.280/.182 with the bases empty and .412/.545/.941 with runners in scoring position! Also great to see: 10 walks and 9 strike outs in 47 at bats.


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 Post subject: Re: Things I like about the Pirates so far
PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 1:25 pm 
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No. 9 wrote:
Palu -
I'm 99.9% certain that Freddie was bunting for a base hit. We've all likely seen Freddie be called upon to sacrifice and his effort last night was nowhere close to that. I think that Freddie probably thought that he could catch the Marlins on their heels with a clearly flustered pitcher. He had just walked Morgan on four pitches and Morgan was four or five steps into the steal before the pitcher had released the ball. While I would have preferred that Freddie take a strike at that point, the replay confirmed that the pitch was in the strike zone and was a good pitch for trying top bunt for a base hit. Freddie just got under it a bit.

I have to disagree with the contention that "small ball" or whatever you want to call it is founded upon a notion that 1 run will be enough to win a game. Far from it. There are still 8 innings to score and - given this team's offensive challenges - it is hard to justify sitting back and waiting for 3 or 4 run innings. Thpose types of inning will be much more rare than games where 1 or 2 runs are scratched out in multiple innings.


You really think Freddie was bunting for a base hit huh?
With a man on 2nd, no out, he is trying to take a chance his legs would beat a bunted ball to first?

I think your way off on this one. That had to be called from the dugout.
I cannot remember the last time Freddie attempted to BUNT for a base hit, especially with a man at 2nd, can you?


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 Post subject: Re: Things I like about the Pirates so far
PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 1:31 pm 
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palushock wrote:
You really think Freddie was bunting for a base hit huh?
With a man on 2nd, no out, he is trying to take a chance his legs would beat a bunted ball to first?

The tactic is to push the ball past the pitcher, and make the first baseman field it. The pitcher does not get a good break to cover the bag, since he is trying to cut the ball off before it gets past him. If the first baseman fields the ball, the hitter will beat the throw to the bag at least 50% of the time.


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 Post subject: Re: Things I like about the Pirates so far
PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 1:33 pm 
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Just to add, the motion of a lefthanded pitcher brings him towards the 3rd base line making it tough on him to get to 1st base to cover it on a bunt...

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 Post subject: Re: Things I like about the Pirates so far
PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 1:35 pm 
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Bucfan wrote:
palushock wrote:
You really think Freddie was bunting for a base hit huh?
With a man on 2nd, no out, he is trying to take a chance his legs would beat a bunted ball to first?

The tactic is to push the ball past the pitcher, and make the first baseman field it. The pitcher does not get a good break to cover the bag, since he is trying to cut the ball off before it gets past him. If the first baseman fields the ball, the hitter will beat the throw to the bag at least 50% of the time.

Gosh, you make it sound so easy. :lol:

Whether it was a sacrifice or for a hit, the bunt was a bad idea. Freddy is not that fast and is much better off swinging away than squaring around.

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Last edited by Willton on Tue Apr 21, 2009 1:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Things I like about the Pirates so far
PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 1:36 pm 
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Yes, but if we follow that logic, it will mean we can't berate JR... and, what would be the fun in that.

ZM

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 Post subject: Re: Things I like about the Pirates so far
PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 4:18 pm 
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Willton wrote:
Gosh, you make it sound so easy. :lol:

Whether it was a sacrifice or for a hit, the bunt was a bad idea. Freddy is not that fast and is much better off swinging away than squaring around.


I agree. The push bunt(or drag for a lefty) is a great idea for a speedy runner trying to reach base. If you get it past the pitcher you are home free. Sanchez is not that guy.

I also agree that in the first inning, with a guy who has been driving the ball to the gaps quite a bit this season, why not try to come up with a bigger inning. Even with the Pirates offensive shortcomings I hate to see them playing for one run in the first inning.


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 Post subject: Re: Things I like about the Pirates so far
PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 4:58 pm 
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PirateParrot wrote:
I agree. The push bunt(or drag for a lefty) is a great idea for a speedy runner trying to reach base. If you get it past the pitcher you are home free. Sanchez is not that guy.

It is more a matter of placing the bunt. You are not trying to outrun the first baseman. Instead, you are trying to make him field the ball, so that nobody is left to cover first.

And Nate had runners first second, with the 3rd baseman way back. He tried to put a bunt down the third base line for a hit.

Why? Because the batting average for bunts put down on the 3rd base side of the mound, with the 3rd baseman deep, is something like .400.

So, is it good strategy to implement a tactic that results in a .400 average? On occasion, yes.

I do not think that it was a good idea for Freddy to try and bunt in the first because Miller was all over the place. Pitchers that are spraying the ball around are tough to bunt on. The chances of a pop-up or foul are simply too great.

But take into account that very likely, Sanchez thought he saw something that gave him a chance for a bunt single, first and third, no outs.


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 Post subject: Re: Things I like about the Pirates so far
PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 8:07 pm 
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Bucfan wrote:
PirateParrot wrote:
I agree. The push bunt(or drag for a lefty) is a great idea for a speedy runner trying to reach base. If you get it past the pitcher you are home free. Sanchez is not that guy.

It is more a matter of placing the bunt. You are not trying to outrun the first baseman. Instead, you are trying to make him field the ball, so that nobody is left to cover first.

And Nate had runners first second, with the 3rd baseman way back. He tried to put a bunt down the third base line for a hit.

Why? Because the batting average for bunts put down on the 3rd base side of the mound, with the 3rd baseman deep, is something like .400.

So, is it good strategy to implement a tactic that results in a .400 average? On occasion, yes.

I do not think that it was a good idea for Freddy to try and bunt in the first because Miller was all over the place. Pitchers that are spraying the ball around are tough to bunt on. The chances of a pop-up or foul are simply too great.

But take into account that very likely, Sanchez thought he saw something that gave him a chance for a bunt single, first and third, no outs.


My point is that with a speedy runner all it has to do is get by the pitcher and I don't care who fields it, he is going to beat it out almost every time. I've seen many bunts make it to the second baseman and it still worked. Technically not a good bunt but once past the pitcher the speed wins out. Seems to me Freddy fielded one like that the other day and tried to flip it with his glove to first. Almost got him.

And yes, I had no problem with Nate's bunt attempt. It IS a good play as you pointed out. And he doesn't do it every other at bat. Once in a while it's good. And it gets the third baseman wandering in a step or two which cuts down his range if he slaps a ball that way.


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