Was McLouth’s power legitimate?

In Nate McLouth‘s breakout 2008 season, he hit .276/.356/.497. With the Pirates this year, he hit .256/.349/.470. Since he was traded to Atlanta in early June, he has hit .259/.343/.418. Obviously, McLouth’s slugging percentage has dropped considerably since he moved south. Thinking PNC Park’s short porch in right field may have contributed to that, I decided to take a look at his hit charts.

From MLB.com, here is every 2009 ball in play off McLouth’s bat at Turner Field.

As you can see, he has homered just once in Atlanta this year. Now, let’s add the location of PNC Park’s outfield wall.

This is not an exact measurement, as the outfield walls are different heights. Obviously, the Clemente Wall at PNC Park is 21 feet high, which could affect our results. But if we ignore that issue for simplicity’s sake, we see that McLouth likely would have seen four doubles and one fly out turn into home runs if he were still playing at PNC Park.

All else being equal, those extra five home runs would bring McLouth’s Atlanta numbers up to .264/.347/.473, very similar to his Pittsburgh numbers. At first glance, it appears McLouth has lost his power since leaving Pittsburgh. In reality, his power was mostly a product of PNC Park.

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Bucs Win Comedy of Errors

Zach Duke allowed just one run in six innings to get his 8th win. He was supported by Adam LaRoche who homered and drove in three runs. But the defense committed three errors. That helped Cleveland score five runs in the 9th (just two earned) off of Steven Jackson to make the final 10-6.

The Pirates had been the beneficiaries of a Cleveland miscue earlier in the game. With two out and nothing happening, rookie SS Luis Valbuena committed a throwing error allowing Freddy Sanchez to reach base and allowing the floodgates to open. The Pirates piled on six runs, with a Jason Jaramillo homer capping the scoring.

Carl Pavano took the loss. He gave up 11 hits in 3-2/3 innings. He was charged with eight runs, with just three being earned. Duke struck out four, walked two and allowed a double and four singles.

The Good

Mark it down – Zach Duke will be an All-Star this year.

Andew McCutchen has a 12 game hitting streak.

With three RBI, Adam LaRoche passed the departed Nate McLouth for the team lead in RBI with 36.

The Bad

The defense. Andy LaRoche had a couple of errors, giving him 8 on the season.

The Rest

Zach Duke set a career high with wins in a half a season with 8. He won seven in the second half of his rookie year way back in 2005.

LaRoche is hitting .357 in June.

 

Cutch’s First Career Dinger Paces Pirates Offense

Andrew McCutchen, Andy LaRoche and Adam LaRoche each homered and drove in a pair of runs as Ian Snell won for just the second time all year.

McCutchen hit a two run homer in the third. After Joe Crede’s two RBI knock tied the score in the home half of the fourth, Andy LaRoche hit a two run blast in the fourth to give the Priates the lead for goo.

Adam LaRoche added a solo dinger and an sac fly later in the game and Robinzon Diaz drove in two with a double.

Snell went six innings. He gave up five hits, three walks and two runs. Francisco Liriano was touched for four runs on eight hits in seven innings. John Grabow pitched two innings and Steven Jackson mopped up.

The Good

Happy with Snell’s outing and would glady take more.

The brothers LaRoche share for the active roster lead in RBI

The Bad

Delwyn Young only had one hit. He is clearly slumping.

The Rest

This was Snell’s second win of the year. Win #2 last year came on 4/12 of 2008. But his third win of 2008 didn’t come until June 11. So, he’s not that far behind the pace.

Joe Mauer is hitting .425 but is 41 at bats away from qualifying for the leader boards.

Andrew McCutchen is the third Pirate rookie to record his first career dinger this year (Robinzon Diaz and Jason Jaramillo). He homered in his 13th game. Bucco rookies who have homered in the first 10 games this decade:

Robinzon Diaz – 7th game- 2009

Nate McLouth – 9th game – 2005

Ray Sadler – 3rd game – 2005

John Van Benschoten – 2nd game – 2004

Jose Castillo – 8th game – 2004

Andy Barkett – 9th game – 2001

Rob Mackowiak – 9th game – 2001

Craig Wilson – 4th game – 2001

Adam Hyzdu – 6th game – 2000

Alex Hernandez – 7th game – 2000

Tike Redman – 7th game – 2000

 

 

 

 

Bucs Fall in 15

The pitcher scheduled to start Wednesday’s game – Jeff Karstens – was forced into duty as the Pirates and Braves went long. Karstens ended it quickly by just one of the five hitters he faced. The winning run scored on a bases loaded grounder from former Bucco David Ross.

Atlanta’s bullpen blew a three run lead in the seventh, but then remained unscored upon for nearly nine straight innings. Rookie Kris Medlan tossed the final two innings for the win.

The Braves did some damage early against Zach Duke. He gave up six runs in six innings. Duke was taken deep by Chipper Jones, Brian McCann and Nate McLouth (hey, his name is familiar).

The Good

Andrew McCutchen had four hits including a double and a pair of triples

Evan Meek tossed three scoreless innings

The Bad

Jason Jaramillo struck out four times and had to pull his foot off the plate to get Jack Wilson’s throw on Ross’ grounder in the 15th, allowing the winning run to score.

Craig Monroe was thrown out at home in the 11th trying to score on a double from McCutchen.

The Rest

This was the Pirates first 15 inning contest since last April 9th against the Cubs.

Meek has pitched three innings twice in his career. The other time was May 3, 2009 in relief of Jeff Karstens against Cincinnati.

This was McCutchen’s fifth career game. The last Pirate rookie to collect four or more hits this early in his career was John Wehner who had five singles on 7/23/91 against Atlanta.

Bobby Cox picked up his 2,000 win as Braves manager.

 

McCutchen Shines as Bucs Sweep Mets

Nate McLouth is gone. Long live Nate McLouth.

Andrew McCutchen is up and off to a great start. He had two hits, an RBI, three runs scored and a stolen base as the Pirates offense used a bunch of singles to give Mike Pelfrey an early shower.

McCutchen singled leading off the first, touching off a four run inning. The Pirates scored four more times in the fourth, forcing the Mets to their bullpen. Unfortunately, Bucs starter Ross Ohlendorf wasn’t on. Despite the huge lead, he didn’t last long enough for the win as he was yanked with one out in the fifth.

Pelfrey gave up 8 earned in 3-2/3. Ohlendorf was charged with five runs in 4-1/3. Steven Jackson received the win for two scoreless innings of relief work.

The Good

McCutchen’s start was very nice.

Jason Jaramillo knocked in a career best four runs.

Ramon Vazquez went 4-4.

The bullpen tossed 4-2/3 IP of one hit relief.

The Bad

Ohlendorf’s outing was the classic “hang in there and get the win”. But he couldn’t and didn’t.

Andy LaRoche, who knocked in two runs earlier in the game, left after being plunked on the knee cap. He is questionable for tonight, per the P-G.

The Rest

The list of recent Pirates to collect two or more hits in their debut, like McCutchen did, is varied:

Steve Pearce – 9-1-07

Andy Barkett – 5-28-01

Alex Hernandez – 9-1-00

Abraham Nunez – 8-27-97

Keith Osik – 4-5-96

Jason Kendall – 4-1-96

Sam Khalifa – 6-25-85

R.C. Stevens – 4-15-58

 

Jaramillo’s four RBI effort gives the Pirates two such contests from catchers in 2009 (Ryan Doumit had the other on 4-11-09). The Bucs had just three such games combined in teh 2006 to 2008 seasons.

This was the seventh four hit game of Vazquez’ career.

The Mets recently acquired former Pirate Emil Brown from San Diego. He appeared as a PH, his first appearance in Pittsburgh since June 28, 2001. Welcome back!

With McLouth gone, Andy LaRoche now leads the active roster in RBI.

Thoughts on the McLouth trade

The Pirates stunned fans everywhere by trading Nate McLouth to the Atlanta Braves for three prospects tonight. In return, the Bucs received 25-year-old pitcher Charlie Morton, 21-year-old outfielder Gorkys Hernandez and 21-year-old pitcher Jeff Locke.

Let’s start by looking at the philosophy of this trade. McLouth was signed through 2011, plus a team option for 2012. Most likely, the Pirates were not going to be competitive until he was approaching free agency. As fans, we considered McLouth to be part of a future core that included Ryan Doumit and Paul Maholm. In reality, the team is building around Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez, Brad Lincoln, etc. We are still a few years away from competing, and McLouth probably would not have been here when the time came.

Now that we have established that McLouth was not untouchable, let’s look at the actual trade. First of all, what are we losing? McLouth had a very good 2008 season, worth about 3.5 wins. That number ranked him 22nd out of 62 qualified MLB outfielders. Thus, in a season that very well may have represented his peak, McLouth barely cracked the top third at his position. I love Nate, but he is a good player that we consider to be a great one because of the lack of talent around him in Pittsburgh. His offensive production has exceeded the expectations of many scouts, particularly regarding his power numbers. But the label that he was tagged with early in his career is still an issue. He is not a great center fielder, and his bat is much less appealing when it is coming from a corner outfield spot.

Morton is having a solid 2009 season in Triple-A, with 55 strikeouts, 16 walks and only three home runs allowed in 64.2 innings. Opponents have hit .222 against him, contributing to an impressive 1.05 WHIP. Morton throws hard with a power sinker, but struggles with consistency at times. He will be assigned to Triple-A and could be in line to move into the major league rotation very soon.

Hernandez is a toolsy guy that scouts love. He is described as a special defender with exciting speed, and has spent most of his professional career at advanced levels for his age. He has not displayed ideal patience or power to this point. If Hernandez ends up in the same outfield as McCutchen someday, the Pirates are going to run down a large number of fly balls.

Locke probably has the most upside of these three prospects. He is also the farthest from the major leagues and the biggest risk. He throws hard with good movement, mixing in a strong curveball and a developing change. Locke has also struggled with consistency, and high walk totals have hurt his numbers this season. However, the rest of his peripherals remain strong. Locke immediately becomes one of the top pitching prospects in the system.

Obviously, this is a bold move by Neal Huntington. Pirate fans are already calling for his head, and the criticism will only get worse. The return on this trade does not blow me away, but it has the potential to produce positive gains down the road. The pitching depth in the organization is abysmal, something that needs to change for the team to ever compete. Huntington dealt one of his best and most popular players in an attempt to improve that pitching depth. It remains to be seen how successful the move will be.

One positive is that we now have the chance to see what McCutchen can do in Pittsburgh.

Posted in Gorkys Hernandez, Jeff Locke, Nate McLouth, Transactions. Comments Off on Thoughts on the McLouth trade

McLouth traded to Braves for three prospects

In a surprising move, the Pirates have dealt Nate McLouth to the Atlanta Braves for outfielder Gorkys Hernandez and pitchers Jeff Locke and Charlie Morton. Andrew McCutchen will take McLouth’s roster spot and presumably will become the team’s starting center fielder. More analysis to come.