Sunday, April 20, 2008

i wanna go home...

piarte logo 1997

What can you say? The Chicago Cubs treat Pittsburgh like they're the Harlem Globetrotters and the Bucs are the Washington Generals. Even the team's body language screams "Here we go again." Enough about today.

Our Pirate starters have been plenty bad, with the exception of Ian Snell. There's a theory floated by Sabermatic bean counters that 30 extra innings pitched from one year to the next is a red flag for young pitchers.

Of course, there are competing theories that say you should increase the workload by 30 innings for the young guns to build their arms. Roll the dice and take yer chances.

We personally think that pitch count is the key, and more particularly that high counts in an inning are the real arm killers. But hey, we don't have pitching charts and if we did, we wouldn't dig through them. Everyone has a theory.

Actually, except for Gorzo and maybe Matt Morris, the starting pitching is pretty much as it was last year. Snell has a 4.07 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, and averages 6 innings per start compared to 3.76, 1.33, and 6-1/3 innings in 2007. The thirty inning rule? It should have bit him last year, and instead he had a breakout season.

Zach Duke has improved a bit, but his bar wasn't set very high after last year's debacle. He's got a 4.37 ERA, 1.73 WHIP and 5-2/3 inning shelf life this year (although today's performance skewers those stats to Kingdom come.) Last year, it was 5.53 ERA, 1.89 WHIP, and 5-1/3 innings per start.

Though he's considered the poster child for the Sabermatic 30 inning rule after crashing last season, his workload in 2006 was 215 innings, and he worked 193 innings the season prior, both in the bigs and AAA. So no foul there.

Paul Maholm has a 5.28 ERA, 1.76 WHIP and lasts 5 innings per start so far in 2008, while in 2007 the numbers were 5.02 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, and 6 innings per game. So he's slacking off just a bit from last season.

Maholm has no issues with the 30 inning limit. He's pitched 161, 176, and 177 innings over the past three seasons, which is probably how you would plan it.

Gorzo has been horrible in April. His ERA is 9.35, his WHIP 2.13, and he goes just 4 innings an outing. Last year his ERA was 3.88, his WHIP 1.39, and he gave the team 6-1/3 good innings per start.

This is the year the 30 inning theory should grab him, as he went from 162 innings pitched in 2006 to 202 last year. Maybe it does hold water in his case.

Matty Mo? He's making 2007 look like a highlight film so far this year. He has a 7.02 ERA, 1.86 WHIP, and gives the team 5-1/3 innings when he hits the hill. Last year's Buc numbers were 6.10 ERA, 1.61 WHIP, and 5-2/3 innings per outing. There are no 30 inning considerations for dinosaurs.

How about the bullpen, you ask? Well, it's not exactly been a shining beacon in the early going. Would Solly Torres and Shawn Chacon have helped? Maybe. Would they have made a difference? No.

No one has seven trustworthy arms to back up the starters, and John Russell has been forced to the well way too often and way too soon. He needs some 7 inning performances from his rotation, and that will make the pen 100% more effective.

18 games is admittedly a very small sample size to draw on. Whether you believe in talent, innings pitched, pitch counts, or a defense that puts out fires instead of starting them, the Bucs will go as far as their starters take them. And that's not very far in the first three weeks of the season.

On the Pirate front: If his recovery work goes as planned, Jack Wilson will make his return to Pittsburgh around the first of May.

Russell set next weekend as the projected time in which Wilson will be ready to join either Double-A Altoona or Triple-A Indianapolis for what is expected to be 2-5 games, with a possible stop for some work with the GLC Pirates first.

John Mehno of the Beaver County Times says that the Evan Longoria signing will have no effect on the Pirates and their contract policies. He believes the suits will still avoid signing youngsters on potential alone and look for proven production before inking a player for the long run.

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