Hanley Ramirez is a Stud

The Marlins took the second game of the series behind Hanley Ramirez. He homered and drove in two runs in support of Andrew Miller. The Marlins scored two runs on double play ground outs and another run on a wild pitch.

Miller tossed 6-2/3 IP of three run ball to get the win. The Marlins did their damage off of Zach Duke who gave three earned runs in six innings. He struck out five. Andy LaRoche and Garrett Jones homered to pace the Pittsburgh attack. Dan Meyer tossed the 9th for the save.

The Good

Wow. Not much. Homers, I guess.

The Bad

How many times can I bemoan the lack of offense.

The Rest

Former Bucco backstop Ronny Paulino was 0-4.

Miller had lost in his only other appearance against the Bucs, back in April of this season.

Duke has never beaten the Marlins. Florida is the only NL team he has yet to beat in his career.

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Bucs Sweep Marlins

The Pirates have taken the Marlins for three straight games. The offense was powered by the LaRoche brothers. Adam had four hits and three doubles and Andy drove in two runs.

Paul Maholm retired the first nine Marlin clubbers before struggling through innings 4-6 by giving up four runs and eight hits. The bullpen combined four pitches to toss three shutout innings.

Maholm departed after six with the score tied at four. But newcomer Delwyn Young doubled with one out as a pinch hitter. He scored on a single from Nyjer Morgan. The Bucs OF took second on the throw home. He then stole third and scored on a throwing error from none other than Ronny Paulino.

The Good

Maholm has won three straight starts for the second time in his career and the first time since August 2007.

Adam LaRoche’s BA is above .300. And it is April.

The Bad

I got nothing

The Rest

Bucs have a travel day tomorrow to travel to SD and then MIL.

Ohlendorf, McLouth Put Bucs over .500

Nate McLouth started the scoring with an RBI single in the fourth and capped it with a 3 run jack in the sixth. Ross Ohlendorf  allowed just two singles and a walk in seven innings to pick up his first win as a Pirate.

Florida’s best chance to score came in the first when Emilio Bonifacio led off with a single and John Baker reached on an error by Jack Wilson. Ohlendorf settled in to prevent any damage by retiring 18 of the next 19 hitters.

Tyler Yates and Jesse Chavez tossed an inning of perfect ball each to finish it off.

The Good

Ohlendorf’s first win came in his longest outing as a Big League starter.

This was the Pirates fourth shutout of the season. The Pirates had exactly two in all of 2008. Is this in fact an aberration or an early manifestation of Magic Joe Kerrigan?

Adam LaRoche has passed his April 2008 RBI total and equaled his April 2008 run scored total.

Every starting non-pitcher had at least one knock. Including Andy LaRoche. Jason Jaramillo had his first ever two hit game.

The Bucs left Florida with just their second loss on the year.

The Bad

Jack Wilson made his second error in as many games.

The game was delayed by rain and the stands (ESPN showed this game and the Reds/Astros since the regularly scheduled game was rained out) were nearly empty. Attendance was listed as 8,790.

The Rest

Former Pirate turned super utility guy Alfredo Amezega was hitless in two ABs. There was no sighting of former catcher Ronny Paulino who backs up in Florida and is off to a decent start.

Not a fan of Tim Brown’s post on steroids. Of course grown men should be responsible for their own actions. However, people in position of leadership are responsible for having the vision – both of what might go well and what might not go well – and doing their best to secure a bright future. That responsibility I lay squarely at the feet of Bud Selig and Don Fehr. They couldn’t have prevented every single player from using steroids. But they sure should’ve made a better effort. Brown’s case is a bit like letting our government and the heads of national banks off the hook for allowing such loose regulations on borrowing. Of course the people who borrowed too much are to blame. But, our leadership – both governmental and financial – should’ve seen this coming. That’s why they are leaders – they are supposed to have vision. Jumping down off my soap box. You can’t legislate morality into people’s lives (some guys will take PEDs and some guys will spend too much no matter what), but you should be able to legislate common sense so that fewer people are tempted to keep up with the Joneses. Getting down off my soap box now.

 

Winter meetings, day 3 – Paulino traded to Phillies

Dejan reports that the Pirates are interested in Marlins shortstop Robert Andino.  Andino is 24, and has seen limited time with the Marlins in each season since 2005.  He never really hit well anywhere before last season, when he posted a .287/.352/.497 line in 181 at-bats at Triple-A.  Dejan speculates that the Marlins might be interested in Ronny Paulino.

12:25 PM: Here is a nice breakdown of Nate McLouth’s financial value in 2008.

1:40 PM: It looks like another team has added a shortstop that is not named Jack Wilson.  The Orioles are expected to sign Cesar Izturis.

8:10 PM: Dejan reports that the Pirates are expecting to make a trade that Neal Huntington referred to as “something small.”  This probably will be nothing exciting, but it could give us something to talk about for a change.

8:25 PM: Here’s a scary quote from John Russell:

The team we have now, we know we can play defense. With Nyjer Morgan and Brandon Moss, we can cover a little more ground on the corners in the outfield.

I think we are going to see way too much of Nyjer Morgan next season.

8:50 PM: Could the potential minor trade mentioned by Huntington be Brian Bixler to the Marlins for Andino?

9:30 PM: The Pirates have traded Paulino to the Phillies for switch-hitting catcher Jason Jaramillo.  Jaramillo is 26, and has spent the past two years in Triple-A.  He seems to have a decent approach at the plate and little power.  He is a decent defender.  A year ago, Baseball America said that “Jaramillo can become a reliable backup in the major leagues.”  He will likely compete with Robinzon Diaz as Ryan Doumit’s primary backup.

10:25 PM: Ken Rosenthal reports that Matt Joyce, a Pirates’ target in a potential Jack to Detroit trade, has been dealt to the Rays for pitcher Edwin Jackson.

Dejan returns

Some good news today, as Dejan Kovacevic has returned from vacation and the PG is alive with Pirates information. Dejan summarizes the team’s offseason plans in his first article. There are a couple of interesting tidbits in there.

Dejan quotes an AL executive as saying that the Pirates are looking to deal John Grabow and Ronny Paulino in addition to Jack Wilson. They seem to be having difficulty receiving much value for Paulino, which is understandable after he fell out of favor with management last season. Also, Dejan mentions that teams will be more willing to part with impact prospects for Wilson if the Pirates eat some or all of his salary. It will be very interesting to see if they are willing to do that.

Dejan will be providing a three-part series beginning this weekend on the Pirates’ work in the Dominican Republic. He recently traveled there, and should provide great insight on operations that we hope are dramatically improving.

Posted in Dejan Kovacevic, Jack Wilson, John Grabow, Ronny Paulino. Comments Off on Dejan returns

Pirates again lacked patience in 2008

In May, I took a look at the Pirates’ plate discipline in 2007 and 2008. In that small sample size, the team had slightly improved from the previous year. Now that the season is over, I figured it would be a good time to revisit this topic.
Here is an excerpt from my original post to get us started:

FanGraphs has some wonderful statistics that quantify a hitter’s plate discipline. Using O-Swing% (“the percentage of pitches a batter swings at outside the strike zone”), we can determine whether certain players are fishing outside the strike zone on a regular basis. In 2005-2007, the average O-Swing% was around 23%. Let’s see how the Pirates are doing this year compared with 2007. (Note: pitchers are not included.)
To start, let’s take a look at the 2007 Pirates. Jose Castillo (35.11%), Matt Kata (35.11%), Freddy Sanchez (33.43%), and Xavier Nady (30.19%) were all major free-swingers. Castillo and Kata were sent packing after the season, but Sanchez and Nady returned to the starting lineup for 2008. Jack Wilson (26.24%) was slightly above average, while Ryan Doumit (24.96%), Cesar Izturis (24.50%), Adam LaRoche (23.36%), Chris Duffy (23.05%), Jason Bay (22.12%) and Ronny Paulino (21.54%) were all about average. Nate McLouth (18.95%), Josh Phelps (18.95%), Jose Bautista (17.85%) and Rajai Davis (16.82%) were the most disciplined Pirates. Overall, the 2007 Pirates swung at 24.58% (EDIT: My numbers were slightly off at that time. The correct O-Swing% in 2007 was 24.61%.) of pitches outside the strike zone, just slightly higher than average.

McLouth, Sanchez, LaRoche, Doumit, Bay, Nady, Bautista and Wilson received the most at-bats for the Pirates in 2008. Sanchez and Nady continued their wild swinging, staying very close to their 2007 numbers. Sanchez chased 33.33% pitches, while Nady swung at 30.47% balls outside the strike zone before being traded. Doumit (30.60%) also became a very impatient hitter in 2008. Wilson (26.94%) was very consistent with 2007, while LaRoche (22.55%) and Bay (20.65%) both improved slightly. McLouth’s patience regressed this year with increased playing time (21.87%), and Bautista also fell off from last season (21.19%). However, both remained slightly above average. New additions to the team’s bench received a moderate amount of playing time. Doug Mientkiewicz (17.15%) was the most patient player on the team, while Chris Gomez (23.35%) and Jason Michaels (23.71%) were right around league average. Luis Rivas (25.42%) was a bit aggressive off the bench.
Several younger players began receiving playing time after the trades of Bay and Nady. Andy LaRoche (25.30%), Brandon Moss (26.93%) and Steve Pearce (24.77%) displayed a bit below average patience. Nyjer Morgan, the oldest of the group, chased 27.65% of pitches outside the zone. One of the main reasons I remain optimistic about the futures of LaRoche and Moss is their history of patience in the minor leagues. These numbers will have to improve soon as they adjust to Major League pitching. The fact that Pearce was right in the same neighborhood in O-Swing% as these two is somewhat encouraging, as he seemed to swing at everything at times this year. In reality, he was much better in 2008 than he was in 2007 (29.27%), although both were very small sample sizes. I’m not convinced that Pearce can be a quality Major League hitter, but I think he has shown enough to get the same opportunities as Moss and LaRoche in 2009.
Overall, the Pirates chased 25.11% of pitches outside the strike zone in 2008. That number increased slightly from the team’s 24.61% in 2007. Accordingly, the Pirates were 27th in baseball in on-base percentage, and 26th in walks. It seems that the Pirates’ strong early-season focus on patience was mostly forgotten as the season progressed. Another likely reason was the increased playing time for younger hitters after the deadline deals, although the loss of the free-swinging Nady probably offset that line of reasoning a bit. Hopefully, as players like Andy LaRoche, Moss and Pearce mature at the plate, these numbers will become more respectable.
One other note. The Pirates Z-Swing% (“The percentage of pitches a batter swings at inside the strike zone”) dropped from 66.62% in 2007 to 63.16% in 2008. The 2005-2007 average was about 67%. I don’t think we can take as much from this statistic as we can from O-Swing%, as swinging at strikes is much more situational than swinging at balls. A batter should virtually never chase a pitch out of the strike zone, while there are many instances when swinging at a strike is the wrong decision. However, when examined along with the team’s O-Swing%, this may further indicate a lack of strike zone management.

Rosters Expanding – Who Will Join the Buccos?

It is September first and with that comes a formal acknowledgement that the Pirates are without any hope of salvaging a winning season. The good news is that the club will bring up some players with the rosters being allowed to expand.
The Post-Gazette speculates on who those players might be. On their list are the following in alphabetical order:
Jimmy Barthmaier
T.J. Beam
Brian Bixler
Luis Cruz
Robinson Diaz
Craig Hansen
Ross Ohlendorf
Ronny Paulino
Steve Pearce
Marino Salas
Romulo Sanchez
I would be very surprised if we don’t see either or both of Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen. The only negative to that is the clock starts on their arbitration eligibility. But, I can’t see any other way for this club to draw fans in the gates. The team has 10 home dates left. If there is good news it is that all three teams left to come into PNC are in the race (for now) – St. Louis, LA and Houston. The chances of the Cardinals and Astros are likely to be very slim by the time they arrive. There is no weekend home series against the Cubs that will pull in 100,000 fans.
Promotion wise, there is a Rennie Stennett give away, the on-going t-shirt Tuesday, a couple of cap days, a fireworks day, alumni autographs (Bobby Del Greco, Grant Jackson and Ken Macha – perhaps in town to interview for John Russell’s job?) and a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert. Looks to me like they need to put the future of the franchise in the display case to get the turnstiles moving.