Monday, September 13, 2010

McCutch's Mitt and the Monday Wash

-- There's been a lot of debate about Andrew McCutchen's fielding this year; the Sabremetric folk rank him as the second coming of Richie Zisk. The difference is that Pirate strategists have him playing a little deeper and shaded more toward the right center gap than they did in 2009 with Jose Tabata now the regular left fielder.

It makes sense by giving them better overall coverage by protecting the right fielder. The only hole is the left field line, and the braintrust is counting on JT's wheels to cover that gap.

The alignment protects against extra base knocks better, but limits McCutch's ability to snag the little flares and also gives the LF'er more chances on balls that were his last season. Both of those work against McCutchen in UZR stats as they affect both his perceived range and putout totals.

Is he a gold glover? Not now; he often has a little hesitation in his initial read. But his routes are usually direct, his throwing has improved over last year, and he still outruns balls. McCutch may be giving up some personal stats in the Pirate defensive scheme, but his leather is the least of Pittsburgh's problems.

-- The Pirates claimed RHP Chris Leroux off waivers from the Marlins and DFA'ed RHP Brian Bass. Leroux, 26, appeared in 17 games for Florida this year. In 18 innings of work for the Marlins, he had a 7.00 ERA, 1.94 WHIP, struck out 18 and walked 11. He posted a 6.28 ERA in three minor league stops this year, but his strikeout (7.2 K/9) and walk (2.5 BB/9) numbers were good.

A seventh-round selection by Florida in the 2005 draft, he throws a mid-nineties fastball, hard slider and change, and is a ground-ball pitcher; his control is his biggest issue. A Montreal native, Leroux appeared in two games for Team Canada during the 2009 World Baseball Classic. He's 6'6" and has a power arm, and the Pirates are always on the lookout for those physical attributes.

He's been included in Baseball America's top 20 Marlin prospects for the past three years, and projects as a set-up man, ala Chris Resop, in the pen. Leroux has one option remaining after the season, so can be sent to Indy next year if he sticks on the 40-man roster.

-- Recent top gun signees Luis Heredia, Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie will hit Pirate City this week to participate in the Instructional League.

-- If you're wondering who in the heck Met starter Dillon Gee is, he's the guy who replaced Johan Santana in the NY rotation. In his major league debut Tuesday against the Nats, Gee took a no-hitter into the sixth, ending up with a seven inning, one-run, two hit outing and a victory.

Before his call-up, Gee had a 13-8 record and 4.96 ERA in AAA, with 165 K in 161 IP - and 23 HR's surrendered.

-- The Oakland Athletics inked free-agent Akinori Iwamura, recently released by the Bucs. The 31-year-old hit .182 in 193 plate appearances for the Pirates this season and had a .264/3/16 line at Indy. Oakland said they made the move because the club is unsure of when Kevin Kouzmanoff will be able to return to action at third this year.

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