Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pack Up the Bats

Hey, even for the Pirates, this was a frustrating way to end the season. They pounded out ten knocks - nine were singles, natch - drew four walks, and still managed to get shut out by the Reds, 6-0.

The Pirates hitters went an amazing 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position; their need for a RBI guy is old news, but geez...0-for-13? That's what happens when you hit into a pair of DPs, have a runner thrown out at home, get a guy picked off of second, and whiff seven times.

Two of their hottest bats, Lastings Milledge and Andy LaRoche, came a cropper today, leaving eleven runners on base between them.

Jeff Karstens, working on short rest, only got into the third and left behind 2-0. Still, the committee approach did OK except for Donnie Veal, who was lit up for a four-spot in the fifth frame.

So the Bucs limp into the off season, finishing 2009 with a 62-99 slate.

-- Paul Maholm finally admitted that his scarred left knee was injured during his first start and bothered him during through June. He was seen with a brace on it occasionally, but still stuck to his story during the season.

He said that it affected his mechanics as he tried to find a comfortable way to pitch, and that his late season resurgence was due to diminished pain and a return to proper mechanics, getting the sink back in his ball.

-- Hey, at least the Pirates learned to catch the ball this year. The Pirates had 101 error-free games this year; the previous best was 99 games in 2007. The Pirates also have made the fewest errors (73) in MLB this season.

-- Bob Nutting will get to dig into his pocket again for June's player draft. The Pirates clinched the second spot, between Washington and Baltimore, after today's loss.

-- Matt Foreman of Baseball America on Pirate prospect OF'er Starling Marte of West Virginia:
"Marte is a plus-plus runner with a very good arm. Defensively, he's a solid player, but one manager had this to say about his defense — 'He makes some plays where you say 'Wow,' but then you look and see that he's got 800 errors, so you back off.' The numbers say he only had seven errors. At this point, Marte needs a little more mileage. He's still learning pitch recognition and plate discipline, though he did put up solid numbers."
He added that he thought SS Chase D'Arnaud was on the bubble of being included in the Top Twenty Sally League prospects.


WilliamJPellas said...

I figured Maholm had to be hurt. You don't pitch as well as he did for a year and a half straight---from the 2nd half of 2007 through all of 2008---and then fall back to the pack at his young age unless you're hurt. At least, not usually.

You say his left knee is "much chopped"; that was news to me. Can you provide more details? I take it he's had more than one surgery on his knee? I sure hope Paul can make it back to 100% for all of 2009 and as long as he's a Pirate. In my view he is one of the best middle-of-the-rotation guys in the league when he is physically sound, and he is capable of the occasional dominant outing (though he won't be dominant as a general rule in most of his starts).

Otherwise, Chris Bootcheck: Why? If he is anywhere near the major league roster next season we are in big trouble. Same with Denny Bautista. Neil Huntington needs to move quickly and boldly and effectively to fix our bullpen, and I mean yesterday.

Ron Ieraci said...

My bad, Will, thanks for pointing that out. Upon further review, the article I read owns up to just one surgery; apparently he's had an occasional bout of it flaring up, but not badly enough to require the knife. I'll change that and try to read things a little more slowly in the future.

WilliamJPellas said...

Thanks as always for your humble honesty in owning up to a mistake, Ron, but I meant what I said quite literally! I didn't even know Maholm had ever had surgery on his knee at all, let alone how many times!

I had heard rumors throughout the season that Paul's groin was bothering him, but I had not heard until your post that it might actually have been his knee. A pitcher with a bum wheel is almost as bad as a pitcher with a bum wing, and as you know, one frequently leads to another.

I have always liked Paul and thought he was a very underrated player. If he is healthy, there is no doubt in my mind that he will continue to be a cornerstone of our rotation for as long as he is in Pittsburgh---which I hope will be for quite some time to come.

Ron Ieraci said...

Will - you got me to looking around for Maholm's injury history. All I could find was that liner off his noodle and a strained groin in the minors and back stiffness in 2007.

As far as the knee, Jen Langosch wrote that the "knee had been surgically repaired years ago.' Dejan Kovacevic wrote "That (left) knee has been surgically repaired four times, but Maholm sounded confident a fifth will be unnecessary." (thought I saw it somewhere!)

So I dunno; it sounds as if it was sliced and diced in his scholastic days, and hasn't been much of an issue during his pro career.