Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Can't get out of the first inning blues...

After a while, it's almost comical. Gorzo took the mound, and couldn't even get out of the first inning. With two out and only a run in, his wheels completely fell off, the Reds scored a half dozen times, and another game was over before it began.

John Russell threw in the towel in the fourth, when Bronson Arroyo walked Doug Mienktiewicz and Ronny Paulino with two outs and the score 6-1. Russell let Frankie Osoria bat instead of opting for a chance at some two out lightning, and the game was officially mailed in. It ended up 9-1.

We know that pitching coaches don't actually pitch, but Jeff Andrews sure makes us miss the good ol' Spin Williams days. But given the fragile egos of the staff, maybe Ziggy Freud is the man the Bucs need.

On the minor league front: Dejan Kovacevic of the Post Gazette said today that two Lynchburg coaches were fined for allowing Daniel Moskos to go over his pitch limit - by a half dozen throws. The suits are as serious as a heart attack regarding pitch counts, serious enough to relieve two coaches of 3 days pay.

Kyle Stark, director of player development, said that the Pirates' pitching primer at the lower levels sets pitch limits for an inning, a game and three-game sequences. A pitcher who performs well over three starts can raise the pitch count for his next game. Three poor starts will lower the count.

The team tracks what it calls an "effective" pitch count, based on an system created by Kent Tekulve. By that count system, 100 pitches through seven innings is less stressful on your arm than 85 pitches through four innings. D'oh!

"The point of pitch counts is, one, to protect our arms and, two, to promote our philosophy of being efficient, pounding the zone, getting ahead of hitters and not pitching away from contact," Stark explained.

Neal Huntington adds "The quick answer to our pitchers who don't like the pitch count: Pitch more efficiently."

Sounds good to us.

>Some of the lower level players are coming through for the Bucs. In Altoona, RHP Pat Bresnehan (1.88 ERA) pitched a scoreless inning of relief and RHP Evan Meek (2.57 ERA) threw the last two in its' shutout victory yesterday. They polished off RHP Josh Hill's (4-5, 3.62) six scoreless innings. First baseman Jason Delaney added a home run and a single, good for 2 RBIs.

In Lynchburg, OF Jamie Romak hit his fifth and sixth home runs of the year and went 2 for 3 with a walk and four RBIs. 3B Bobby Spain, now batting .331, is trying to make a name for himself at Hickory. He went 3 for 5 with an RBI, extending his hitting streak to 18 games.

>Why, you wonder, did the Reds wait until now to call up Jay Bruce, the hottest prospect not to be in MLB, especially as the guy he replaced, Corey Patterson, was hitting .201?

Because by keeping him down this long, they avoid possible "Super 2" status, which allows a player that excels to start his clock a little sooner and get 4 years of arbitration rather than 3.

According to Peter Bendix of Beyond the Box Score, by waiting until now to call up Jay Bruce, the Reds likely ensure that Bruce will only be arbitration eligible for three years.

So in 2011, Bruce will likely make the league minimum of approximately $450,000, rather than somewhere around $10 million. That’s a huge difference, and is well worth his spending two more months in the minors. It's like getting a season for free out of Bruce.

Additionally, the Reds are missing out on production of age-21 Jay Bruce for two months this season; in exchange, they are only going to paying age-24 Jay Bruce league minimum.

Last season, Ryan Braun wasn't called up until May 25, although he too was mashing in triple-A. It'll be interesting to see when Andrew McCutcheon gets the call for Pittsburgh. Nutting did put his purse in the hands of a couple of top flight bean counters...

On the hot stove front:
Peter Gammons of ESPN compiled a list of 10 pitchers likely to be on the market before the trade deadline. Zach Duke is one of them, although we can only wonder what his value would be.

>Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports gives the Pirate braintrust props for holding on to Jay Bay during the off season, noting that there are now a couple of hitting challenged AL clubs that would love to have his bat. MLB Trade Rumors thinks he could be a more attractive, and valuable, asset than even slugger Adam Dunn because of his friendly contract and ability to play the field.

On the high school front: Congratulations to West Allegheny and Beaver, winners of the WPIAL AAA and AA titles. West Allegheny defeated Trinity, 4-1, while Beaver rode a 4-run first inning to a win over a gritty Bishop Canevin nine, 4-3.

WA's Zak Sinclair (8-1), who threw a three-hit, eleven K victory against Trinity yesterday while flashing a 92 MPH heater, was also the winning pitcher in the WPIAL championship last year. Talk about money.

In the past three seasons, Sinclair's record is 20-3. He's a North Carolina State recruit, but WA coach Bryan Cornell thinks Sinclair could go in the top 10 rounds of the MLB draft on June 5th.

Cornell said. "He throws three pitches, (and) he throws all three for strikes."

The games were played as a doubleheader at Consol Energy Field, home of the Washinton Wild Thing, yesterday. Today the park will host the A title game between Rochester and Carmichaels, followed by the AAAA tilt between Plum and the defending champ, Peters Township.

Peters Township successfully defended its WPIAL Class AAAA crown with a 10-4 win over Plum tonight. PT Pitcher Jordan Jankowski struck out 11, allowing four hits, all in the first three innings.

Carmichaels captured its third WPIAL Class A title by defeating Rochester, 4-3, in a thriller that ended with a bases loaded K by pitcher Joby Lapkowiczfor the final out. He struck out 13 in the win.

Allderdice and Perry will battle for the City crown at PNC park this afternoon. Carrick was the 2007 champ.

The Dragons won the City League championship, beating Perry, 10-2.

On the ex-Pirate front: Shawn Chacon lobbied hard and sold himself as a starting pitcher when he was on the FA market last winter. The Astro's took him at his word, and he's paid off in spades for them.

Though his record is only 2-0, his ERA is 3.95 and he's given them 68-2/3 innings. He went 9 straight games without a decision at the start of the season, which means that the Astro's have been in contention in every game he's started for them, much like Dumatrait has been for Pittsburgh.

He signed with Houston just before the season started, inking a deal for 1 year, $2M plus incentives. Chacon pitched for Pittsburgh in 2006-07, and was 7-7 with a save and a 4.44 ERA as a spot starter and set up/long relief guy.


WilliamJPellas said...

Really love your blog! The old time references---such as the Green Weenie itself---remind me of the golden days of yore, when Pittsburgh was an internationally famous place, the economy was humming, and the Pirates were one of the greatest sports franchises in existence.

Now that all the nostalgia has been addressed, the deal with Tom Gorzellany HAS TO BE that he is badly hurt. My money is on a bum elbow ligament and Tommy John surgery. Gorzo is too good to just fall flat on his face without there being some kind of extenuating circumstance. If he's not seriously injured, I'll eat my babushka and wash it down with an Arn City!

Ron said...

Bill - thanks for the kind words. We think he could have some physical problem, too, but everyone seems to be denying it, and it would be incredibly stupid of them to keep sending him out there if they know he's hurt.
Dejan Kovacevic wrote that there may be a group psychology thing going on with the staff, and when they get a couple of good starts in a row, it'll all fall in place.
We dunno that we buy that, but we're pretty confident that 75% of the problem is in their heads, not their arms. And as we can tell you, a mind is a terrible thing to lose.

WilliamJPellas said...

I dunno, Ron. On another site, we've been kicking around the whole "is Gorzo hurt or isn't he" thing, and the majority opinion is definitely that he is hurt. The thing that makes me all but certain of this is the fact that he's ALWAYS been one of these "aches and pains" guys who seems to be constantly, slightly, injured (if you know what I mean). Every single year he's been in the bigs, he's missed a couple of starts here and there with "a sore shoulder" or "a sore elbow" but---supposedly---"nothing serious". Whether it's his delivery or just accumulated wear and tear or something gradually going to pieces over the years of his career, or something that was misdiagnosed years ago (like Kip Wells' pinched artery) or what, I have no idea. But Gorzo's bad back earlier this year was a very odd thing. How many pitchers have a back injury? A few. But I'd be willing to bet that his back was hurt because he changed his delivery to favor some other injury.


If he's not hurt, then he's got Steve Blass Disease. The only other possibility would be that he was deliberately tanking it to get out of town, and that's certainly not the case with Tom. So....walks like a duck, quacks like a duck.....

Ron said...

His velocity started dropping last year when Tracy pitched him every other day to try to save his job. It's dropped more this season. And his command is worse than his heater.
Mechanics? Fatigue? Injury? Maybe a combo; they all run together. I'll say this - for a guy to have back problems, shoulder problems, elbow problems, yada yada, all in the first two months of the season tells me he's either the world's biggest hypochondriac or ready to fall apart physically. Either way, it's killing him mentally.
He's sure not the middle of the rotation guy, maybe even a #2 pitcher, that he looked like in 2006.