Sunday, June 28, 2009

Too Little, Too Late

Hey, Zack Greinke is all that. He went seven innings, and until the rain fell that frame, the Bucs couldn't solve him. Pittsburgh had seven hits off him in 6-1/3 innings, but only two runners got past first base.

Charlie Morton couldn't match up with him, as he tried to chip away at the rust of pitching only six innings in three weeks. But he kept them in the game, giving up a three spot in his five innings of work. Morton threw strikes, but his command was off.

The bullpens took over, and they both were more than equal to the job at hand. KC had three guys pitch 2-2/3 scoreless and hitless innings; the Pirates used five arms to shut down the Royals over the last four frames on one hit.

It was one of those glass-half-full days; everyone but Cincinnati in the Central division lost today, so it was a squandered opportunity, but at least they didn't lose any ground. And hey, the goal is to keep winning series, and they did that against KC.

-- Too early to tell whassup with Charlie Morton; we'll wait until he takes his turn on a regular basis and gets into a groove before we pass judgment. His ball has nice movement, especially the heater and change, but he was up and over the plate too much today. Could be inactivity; could be his MO. Time will tell.

-- That the Bucs are a team in progress was obvious in the fifth inning. With runners on first and third with one out, Adam LaRoche went for the runner at home after fielding a slow grounder. Had him, too, except Jason Jaramillo missed both blocking the dish and the tag, and that run would loom large.

The next batter, with runners on first and second, lifted a fairly deep fly to center. Cutch went for the runner at third instead of making the smart play to second, allowing both runners to advance. Young teams that are dependent on small ball have to play smart baseball in the field, too.

-- Another thing we don't understand: after giving up a leadoff single in the seventh and up 3-0, the Royals put a big shift on Eric Hinske, with the third baseman playing the shortstop position. Doesn't Pittsburgh need runners in that situation, at least enough to see if you couldn't push a ball past the pitcher for a sure hit, or take a stab at poking it the other way to get the tying run on base?

Not our heroes. Lefty Hinske took two big cuts, then popped out - to the third baseman playing short. To add insult to injury, the next batter, Andy LaRoche, tripled. Smart small ball; can't play it sometimes and not others.

-- Geez, what's Ray Searage doing with the pitchers at Indy? Ian Snell went seven frames today, and gave up one unearned run on two hits, with one walk and 17 punch-outs. Tom Gorzelanny pitched five innings yesterday, allowing two unearned runs on four hits and two walks while striking out 12. Look out, Joe Kerrigan!

-- Jim Salisbury of the Philadelphia Inquirer took a look at the upcoming MLB meat market, and had this to say about the Pirates:
"Headed toward a record 17th straight losing season, the Pirates are already sellers, having sent all-star outfielder McLouth to Atlanta. Word is the Pirates would deal starter Ian Snell and listen on starters Paul Maholm, Zach Duke, and closer Matt Capps. First baseman Adam LaRoche, second baseman Freddy Sanchez, and shortstop Jack Wilson are all in play."


Jeff Pellas said...

We already knew about LaRoche, Wilson and Sanchez being on the trading block and I speculated immediately following the McClouth trade that both Doumit and Maholm were the likeliest next trade bait. It has to do with their fairly reasonable contracts over at least a couple of years combined with their talent that makes them so desireable on the open market(in this economic climate). The Pirates would also trade Ian Snell in a heartbeat if anyone would show interest. The Pirates are still searching for that power hitting corner outfielder afterall.
Does it surprise anyone that Snell and Gorzo are mowing hitters down at Indianapolis? Both have taken their turns as the Pirates "Ace" pitcher. Their problems can be attributed to "attitude" in both cases. With their talent and experience they SHOULD be crushing hitters in AAA! I think the promotion of Virgil Vasquez instead of Gorzo, the demotion of Snell AND the promotion of Brad Lincoln have all contributed to hammering the message home to both those head cases. Start producing or get passed by.

Ron Ieraci said...

Yah, Jeff, no doubt their heads needed screwed on tighter. Gorzo has regained some velocity, and was properly humbled by his bullpen stay, and I think he'll be in the mix next year.

Snell, on the other hand, basically threw his teammates under the bus after the Indy game, raving about the job Eric Krantz did catching, how the guys welcomed him, and how much fun it was at Indy. Maybe he's got anxiety disorder, too. He has some kinda disorder, that's for sure. Ooops, sorry, more negativity.

And with all the guys on the block, well, that's why I hold out for 2012 for the Pirates to turn around, if they hold on to a few guys long enough. As you say, they need a corner OF with pop and middle infielders badly.

As for the pitchers, I personally like Duke; I think he can be a very effective #3 guy. Maholm is a middle-of-the-rotation arm, too. I just hope they're not selling low on Maholm. And I'd worry about that Cleveland model; it's not been working out so well lately.

WilliamJPellas said...

Some have speculated that Gorzellany's---and possibly Snell's---problems have to do with "dead arm". A lot of the evidence for "dead arm" is still more or less anecdotal, but there is an interesting case to be made for it.

To make a long story short, the idea is that when young pitchers before a certain age---I think it is 25---experience a significant jump in innings pitched over and above their previous workload, they are likely to develop "dead arm". Usually it takes a couple of years before a pitcher can recover from the overuse and its aftermath; Zach Duke might be an example, though of course with him there was also the issue of the previous coaching staff trying to "fix" him in 2006 when there was plainly nothing wrong with him. (Then he got hurt in 2007, etc.)

Anyway, there is a particular writer who has gone into great detail about all this, and if I can remember who it is I will post his name and, if I can find it, a link to his stuff.

Ron Ieraci said...

I know the theory, Will. I think it claims that if you don't limit a pitcher to fewer than +10% innings worked from season to season, you risk blowing out his arm, although I don't know who first came up with it.

Tracy did that to Gorzo, though I also think he babied him, too. But overuse could explain his loss of velocity.

As for Snell, it didn't seem to affect his stuff; he just needs to accept some responsibility and compete better.

My theory with pitchers is that a coach is wasted on them; they need a shrink, or at least a nanny.