Archive for April, 2012

Bucco Breakdown – April 14, 2012

| April 14, 2012 | 1 Comment

Time to sacrifice a chicken?

Well, I really, really did not want to use a second consecutive image from the movie ‘Major League’ on this blog, but I think after the baseball that we’ve seen the past week, we may have to resort to sacrificing a live chicken to turn the hitting woes around.

“I ask Jobu to come, take fear from bats.”

That’s pretty much where we are right now.  Pirates pitching has been unbelievable.  They have given up 20 runs total in 7 games, less than 3 per game.  8 of those runs have come in the first inning, where we have not yet scored this year.   Take away our slow starts, and we’ve given up 12 runs in 54 non-first-innings this year.  That’s flat out amazing.

However, the Pirates have scored only 11 runs, total, in any inning, all season, in 7 games so far.   We’ll take a look into just how bad this team’s offense has been so far this year, with some interesting facts to put in perspective just how historically bad things have been so far in 2012.

Here is the Pirates Opening Day lineup, along with their batting averages now, through 7 games.

1. Alex Presley        .269
2. Jose Tabata        . 190
3. Andrew McCutchen       .360
4. Neil Walker       .048
5. Garret Jones     . 143
6. Rod Barajas      . 059
7. Pedro Alvarez    .063
8. Clint Barmes     . 105

- That is seven guys under .270,  SIX guys under .200, and THREE GUYS UNDER .065

- As a team, the Pirates are hitting .178.

- The Pirates have 39 hits in 7 games.     They also have struck out 58 times in 7 games.    The Pirates have drawn exactly 7 walks this season in seven games.  They are 5 walks behind the second to last place team (Phillies, with 12).

- The Pirates have 4 players with more than TWO hits total this season.   Andrew McCutchen (9),  Alex Presley (7), Casey McGehee (5) and Jose Tabata (4).   Yesterday, while the Pirates managed just one hit total in its game against San Francisco, there were 14 Major League players with more than 2 hits yesterday alone.

- The Pirates have 3 HR and 10 RBI as a team so far this season.  That is fewer home runs than Corey Hart, Ian Kinsler or Josh Willingham, and fewer RBI than David Freese, Matt Kemp, or Andre Ethier.   There are 11 other individual players with as many home runs as the Pirates have hit this season.

- The Pirates rank last in Major League Baseball in Runs Scored, Hits, RBI, Walks, Average, On Base %, Slugging % and of course OPS.  They are also last in Total Bases, Extra Base Hits, and Number of Pitches Faced.  They are second to last in doubles (7 to 6 over Cleveland), triples (with 1), and home runs (3-2 over Boston).

- If the next person that hits a home run for the Pirates is not named Clint Barmes, Pedro Alvarez, or Michael McKenry, they will be tied for the team lead in home runs with one.

- If Chicago Cubs’ 3B Ian Stewart were traded to the Pirates right this minute, and the only statistics he was allowed to bring with him were from his first at bat yesterday, he would immediately be tied for the Pirates team lead in homers with 1, and would be alone at the top of the RBI leaderboard with 3.

- Pedro Alvarez has struck out in 10 of 16 plate appearances this year.  Ironically enough, the two times he has reached base were by a ball hit over the fence for a home run, and on a dropped third strike when the first baseman dropped the ensuing throw to first.  He would come around to score after that happened, and is why he leads the team with 2 runs scored this year (tied with Andrew McCutchen and Michael McKenry).

- Not surprisingly, the Pirates have not had an intentional walk issued to them yet this year.

- Only five players have been issued a walk at all this year.   Three of them are not starters (Navarro, McKenry, and McLouth).   Only three walks have been issued to starters, two to Andrew McCutchen and one to Neil Walker.

- Pitchers Kevin Correia and James McDonald each have as many hits (1) as opening day starters Neil Walker, Rod Barajas, and Pedro Alvarez, as well as other key contributors who have started this season - Matt Hague, Josh Harrison, and Nate McLouth.

- Teams are likely to stop pitching to Andrew McCutchen until the rest of the team comes around.  The Pirates are hitting .178 as a team WITH him.  If you take out Cutch, the team batting average drops to .155.

- If you also take out Alex Presley, the team batting average drops to .137 for everyone else.

Hopefully, this trend comes to a screeching halt tonight, and it is something we look back on and laugh about.  But the start that we’ve seen from this offense so far this year has been, well…  offensive.

Yo bartender, Jobu needs a refill.



Bucco Breakdown – April 6, 2012

| April 6, 2012 | 0 Comments

On the day after Opening Day, an off day, is the day we begin our official launch into Bucco blogdom.  I was planning on making it happen on Opening Day, for obvious reasons, but I ended up spending the game watching on my cell phone using the MLB At Bat app for Android while waiting out an insanely long flight delay at O’Hare airport in Chicago.  So with apologies (that is *not* the way I wanted to spend my day), we are here for the official launch on day two of the 2012 MLB season.

Though I’m sure all Pirates fans have analyzed and over-analyzed the opener, I think it is important to take it with a grain of salt.  After all, you can’t spell Halladay without Hall – as in, where he’s going to be the first year he’s eligible to get there.  Sometimes you just have to tip your hat and know when the other guy is better.

That being said, he wasn’t that much better than our guy.  Erik Bedard was methodical and intelligent yesterday, and for all that is said about “stuff” when it comes to a pitcher, I’ll take intelligent any day of the week.   Give me Greg Maddux and I’ll beat your guy with better stuff 9 times out of 10.  I think it goes without saying that if, and of course it is a big if, but if Erik Bedard can stay healthy, he is going to be a fantastic pitcher for your 2012 Pirates.   It will depend on the play of the team to determine if he’s a fantastic pitcher for the Pirates in August and September, however, as he only signed a one year contract with the team this offseason.

As for the offense, it’s really not fair to judge any performance based on one game against Roy Halladay.  And it probably won’t be fair to judge the team after two games which also include at bats against Cliff Lee.  But if we have a lot of guys riding 0 for 8 starts to the season into Sunday against a Vance Worley who struck out 8 Pirates in 4 innings on March 12 during a spring training game, then you have to wonder how that will play on the psyche of a young team.  It would be nice to muster even 6 or 7 hits tomorrow night against Lee, just to get a little confidence going.  After all, right now Jose Tabata and Alex Presley share the team lead in batting average at .250 and hits with 1, while everyone else on the team has a goose egg across the board in every positive category except HBP (borderline positive I guess, unless you are Jason Kendall).

Anyway, it is exciting that Matt Hague is expected to get the start at 1B tomorrow against the Phillies while offseason addition Casey McGehee is expected to get the nod at 3B.  If either / both of these guys somehow can manage to put together a good game against Cliff Lee, then I would expect to definitely see them again in L.A. on Tuesday against another dominant pitcher, Clayton Kershaw (assuming he is healthy after his current bout with the flu -personally, I’d like to see him rest a few more days).

Anyway, we will have much more to talk about with the game tomorrow night.  But for tonight, just because there was no Pirates game today doesn’t mean that there was not some very important things to discuss in Bucco land today.   Starting with Bradenton, A.J. Burnett pitched 4.2 innings, giving up 1 ER on 2 hits and a BB, charged with the loss though as Bradenton fell to St. Lucie 5-1.  Burnett did strike out 5 of the 17 Mets hitters that he faced.  Evan Chambers drove in the lone Marauder run, scoring Gift Ngoepe, who had tripled.

Indianapolis opened their season tonight in Toledo, and their bats were quiet as well, scoring only a single run in the 9th inning and losing to the Mud Hens 5-1.   Justin Wilson threw five innings, and struck out 6 (the good) and walked 6 (the bad).  Only gave up two hits, but one of them was a home run.  Daniel McCutchen pitched an inning and gave up a run on two hits and a walk, striking out one.  Shairon Martis gave up an unearned run in one inning of work with a hit and a walk with a strikeout, and Bryan Morris finished it off for the Pirates by striking out 4 Mud Hens in one inning.  Yes, that is correct.  4K’s in one inning, with one reaching on one of his two wild pitches during the inning.   But a nice night for the only player remaining in the organization from the Jason Bay trade.

On the offensive side of things, Starling Marte had an RBI triple in his first game at the AAA level, and was 1 for 4 overall.   Not much else positive to report.  Chase d’Arnaud had three strikeouts, as did Nick Evans, while Jeff Clement had 2 as part of his 0 for 4 night.  Jordy Mercer and Eric Fryer each hit a double, and the only person to hit a single for Indy tonight was Gorkys Hernandez (who was subsequently caught stealing).   So four hits for Indy in the opener, after the Pirates get two.

But on the bright side, Altoona improved to 2-0 tonight with a 4-2 win over Erie.   Nathan Baker got the win by going 5 innings, giving up 2 runs (1 earned) on 2 hits and 2 walks, with 5 K’s.   Tim Alderson pitched a nice two innings after that, striking out 3 around a hit and a walk.  Offensively, there were no home runs in this game, but Tony Sanchez continued his nice start with a single and a double, a run scored and an RBI to get his average at .429 in the ridiculously small sample size of two games now.  Andrew Lambo and Jarek Cunningham both hit their second double in two games as well, with Cunningham driving in 2 of the team’s 4 runs tonight.

West Virginia won today as well, though it was not all positive as prospect Stetson Allie did not last long in his debut.  Allie went only one third of an inning in a rough one.  He walked the leadoff guy, threw two wild pitches to move the runner to third. Then he walked that hitter and threw another wild pitch to get the runners to second and third.  Then he walked that hitter.  And the next one, scoring a run.  Allie struck out the next hitter, but then just struck the next hitter, bringing in another run.  And Allie’s game was over.  1/2 of an inning, 4 BB’s, 1 HBP, 2 ER.

Control is going to be the only reason Allie never gets to the big leagues, if that is the case.   He seems to have the tools, but he has to be able to harness them in a productive manner.  Hopefully this is a blip in the radar and he can look back on it and laugh someday when he’s putting up Randy Johnson numbers with the Buccos.  But for now, it was not a promising night for him.

Josh Bell, however, had a very up and down night as well.  He was 2 for 5 with an RBI, but he also had three strikeouts as well.  No other real noteworthy performances from this game either.

One thing in the (admittedly) very early going, there is a bit of a power outage from the organization so far.  It’s only been a couple of days now, but there have only been two home runs hit for the entire Pirates organization so far (8 games total), 1 by CF Robbie Grossman for Altoona, and 1 by SS Alen Hanson in West Virginia.  This is something to keep an eye on throughout the season, but hopefully the dingers start picking up the pace a little bit (especially in Pittsburgh)

Home Runs by team in the system

1 – Altoona (Grossman)  - 2 games played
1 – West Virginia (Hanson)  – 2 games played
0 - Pittsburgh  – 1 game played
0 – Indianapolis  – 1 game played
0 – Bradenton  - 2 games played