Monday, August 31, 2009

Game One...More of the Same

There's no place like home. That's not only true for Dorothy and Toto, but for JR and his Bucs, too. They dropped their fourth road game in a row, 4-3, to the Reds this afternoon.

RHP Daniel McCutchen made his first Pirate start, and after shedding some early inning butterflies, giving up three runs in his first three innings in the bigs, he settled down nicely and got ten of the next dozen batters. He worked six innings and allowed five hits, walked a pair, and struck out five.

The Pirates scored twice in the second with two away, when a walk and hit batter scored on hits by Jason Jaramillo and Daniel McCutchen. But that was all they'd get off of warhorse Kip Wells, who went six against his old teammates. He gave up just two hits (although he walked four) during his stint.

The Bucs tied it in the seventh, and looked like they had something cooking. Ronny Cedeno led off with a triple and came home on Jaramillo's single. Ramon Vazquez stepped in for McCutchen, and lined a shot towards right.

But instead of two on, no outs, and the top of the order up, the ball zipped into first baseman Joey Votto's mitt. He doubled Jaramillo off first, and that was it.

Joel Hanrahan threw two scoreless frames, but Jesse Chavez couldn't match him in the ninth. It appeared that he would work his way out of a two on, two out jam, but he uncorked a wild pitch, a slider away that went through Jaramillo's wickets, and the winning run trotted home.

And so the road blues continue.

-- McCutchen's place on the USA World Cup team was taken by Indy teammate Brad Lincoln, a much better choice for the assignment. McCutch was ready for some MLB action now; Lincoln might get a shot sometime next year, and could use the international competition as a springboard.

-- To make room for McCutchen, Brian Bixler was shipped back to Indy and RHP John Meloan, just claimed off waivers from Tampa Bay on August 12th, was DFA'd off the 40-man roster.

-- And just out of curiosity, if Andy LaRoche doesn't get red hot in the next week, why exactly is it that the suits won't be able to find any at-bats for 3B Neil Walker?

LaRoche's line is .246/7/46 in 426 at-bats; Brandon Moss' is .242/6/30 in 302 at-bats. Moss has been a part-timer for quite a while; LaRoche surely isn't outperforming him by much, so why the love?


WilliamJPellas said...

A lot of folks are scratching their heads over the love-fest for Andy LaRoche. I have read in various places that his back has never really been right over the past two or more seasons, if not even before that. I suspect the reasons he seems bulletproof on this team---at least to this point---are that he DOES play really good defense, and that he DOES draw a lot of walks and so is probably a somewhat more effective offensive player than his raw statistics would otherwise indicate. (Here maybe I'm succumbing a little bit to sabremetrics; I've come to believe that on base percentage and OPS are really the most telling statistics for any player when it comes to offense in baseball.)

That said, even with wonkish numbers, there's still no getting around the fact that LaRoche simply has not shown a legitimate starting third baseman's bat. I'm not convinced that Neil Walker would be much better, but I'm also not convinced he wouldn't be. And, he's been tearing the cover off the ball down in Indy for nearly two months straight now. Seems to me we know what we have in LaRoche---which is to say, a reliably mediocre starting 3B who at least slings the leather. Might Walker---a younger, more athletic switch-hitter if nothing else---end up better? Only one way to find out.

Ron Ieraci said...

Agreed, Will, that Walker is an unknown quality. But something has to be used to shake up LaRoche. I don't think it's his back; he just can't lay off high heat and opens up on the soft stuff, so I think it's mechanical, or at least a matter of lousy plate discipline.

As far as Pearce and Moss, if you extend their stats - Pearce has about half the at-bats as Moss - they're pretty much the same offensive player. I have no qualms with platooning them lefty-righty.

Dunno about the knee. Moss favored it early in the year, but it seems OK now, although only he knows for sure.