Game 42 Lineup, Links

I’ve obviously had to cut down on my writing a bunch this season. Job requirements just haven’t left me with much spare time. More accurately, I haven’t wanted to spend the free time I’ve had sitting at the same desk where I work 8+ hours a day. I’m trying to update the standings (to the left <–) and roster (to the right –>) on a daily basis and that will be most of what I do here. Still, this Bucco team has been playing great baseball so far and deserves some praise.

The Pirates go into game 42 with the 5th best record in all of baseball and the 3rd best in the NL. They’re still flying under the radar because 1) the two better teams in the NL are in the same division, leaving the Bucs in third place and 2) the collapses of the last two seasons make people hesitant to believe they can continue the current success.

Here’s a few reasons not to worry and to jump on board with both feet:

The NL Central is the best division in baseball. (108-93, .538 Winning%)
The Pirates are 11-7 vs teams in the Central. (3-0 vs CIN, 3-2 vs STL and 4-3 vs MIL, 1-2 vs CHC)
The Pirates are winning on the road (11-9) as well as at home (13-8).

Still not convinced? Well, that’s very understandable. The Pirates have won more than their share of close game this season. Really good teams usually win more blowouts and are about even in close games.

1 Run games: 4-6
2 Run games: 11-2
3 Run games: 3-1
close games: 18-9

4 Run games: 1-5
5 Run games: 1-0
6 Run games: 2-1
8 Run games: 0-2
9 Run games: 2-0
blowouts: 6-8

My advise to you is to start drinking heavily sit back and enjoy the ride. Baseball is a lot of fun, especially if you don’t take it too seriously. Now go beat the Astros!

Links

Last month I went to a Georgia Tech baseball game with Mike Newman of Rotoscouting.com and Fangraphs. Mike had recently seen the West Virginia Power play and wrote up reports on Stetson Allie and Wyatt Mathisen.

Jason Grilli is striking out batters at previously unimaginable levels.

Russell Martin details pitch framing.

Spring Training 2012: Friday 3/23 Pirate City Recap

Day Two started at Pirate City. Minor league players were everywhere to be seen on the five and a half fields. Happily, I was able to meet Tim Williams, who runs the excellent Pirates Prospects. Tim informed me that Gerrit Cole would not be pitching, but luckily there was still (as always) plenty to see. A quick photo essay:

Coaches watch batting practice.

Club President Frank Coonelly gives a tour. Steve Blass gave a similar tour earlier.

Tony Sanchez walks through the bullpen.

Sanchez about to step in the cage.

Starling Marte (#6) waits for his turn while Kris Watts hits.

Kyle McPherson throws to Sanchez.

“The Legend” Garrett Jones had a fan on site. The crowd was sparse when we arrived but filled in a lot by the time we broke for lunch.

Autograph hounds float around too. Here, they descend on Tony Sanchez.

The pictures turned out more Tony Sanchez-centric than I intended. Not pictured but seen running various drills: Stetson Allie, Gorkys Hernandez, Mel Rojas, Jr., and Brian Friday.

Lunch was at the nearby Mixon Fruit Farm where my Dad and I ate with fellow Pirate fan Matt Brown. I had a tasty Cuban sandwich followed by this number for dessert.

That is a swirl of orange ice cream made with fresh squeezed orange juice. It tasted just like a cream-sickle only better.

Mixon’s came highly recommended and now I know why. This will definitely become a regular part of our trips to Spring Training.

Coming up: Part II: McKechnie Field and the Tigers.

2010 Pirates: What Went Right

For a 105 loss team, the easy joke would be to leave this post blank. But that would do a disservice to the players  who put forth the efforts and achieved positive results this year. I won’t do a What Went Wrong post; it would be too long and too depressing. So in the interest of positive thinking here is my list of What Went Right:

Pedro Alvarez – Debuted on June 16. Hit .256/.326/.461 over 95 games and 386 PA. Streaky, but made good adjustments and showed all of the potential he has to be a dominant hitter.

Neil Walker – After being written off as a prospect over the last year, finally showed the promise he had as a first round draft pick. Called up in May and held down second base admirably despite having little experience at the position. Hit .296/.349/.462 in 469 PA.

Jose Tabata – Debuted June 9. Hit .299/.346/.400 in 441 PA with a solid glove in left field. Only 21 years old so the power may still develop. If not, he’d remain a very good top of the order hitter.

Andrew McCutchen – Followed up breakout 2009 (.286/.365/.471) with an almost identical 2010 (.286/.365/.449). Still only 23 this season with plenty of upside.

James McDonald – Was the Pirates’ ace after being acquired at the trade deadline. 11 starts, 64 IP, 3.52 ERA (116 ERA+), 1.297 WHIP, 8.6 K/9, 2.54 K/BB. Has better than league average swing-and-miss percentages on all three of his pitches. I look forward to seeing what he can do with a full year in the rotation.

Evan Meek & Joel Hanrahan – Held down the back of the bullpen all season. Meek made the All-Star team as a middle reliever, Hanrahan was the main closer after Dotel was traded.

The Draft – The organization added lots of top level talent again this year. Most notably Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie, rated as the top two high school pitchers available in the draft. They also signed 16 year old international free agent, Luis Heredia, rated by some to be as as good a prospect as Allie.

That’s my list.  There were some other nice things that happened but I tried to hit the biggest and brightest points. Piratesprospects.com has details on all of the minor leaguers who made strides this year as well.

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