Friday, April 24, 2015

Thoughts & Notes...

One road trip and one homestand into the season, and a couple of things come to mind.

First, no matter how much they shift, the Pirate infield defense could sure step up. In spite of an impressive errorless streak, their range is not great. The good news is that Pedro and Josh can only get better with more time at the corners. Josh only has 158 big-league games at third and about the same in the minors, so he's not a polished product at the hot corner yet. Pedro still misses a few reads, taking balls from The Kid & missing bleeder covers of the bag, but he should adapt OK, too. Remember, his problem isn't playing the field, where he's fairly nimble for a big dude, and his throwing woes should be minimized at first.

In the middle, Jordy isn't terribly rangy - Baseball Reference has him at league average over the past two seasons -  but dependably steady. Neil Walker, per BR, has the same profile, but this year has shown a marked decrease in range, and although a small sample size, that will bear watching. No such question in the outfield, with three guys who can go get it.

The Three Amigos (Keith Srakcocic/Associated Press)
Second, the rotation has been quite solid; we'd just like to see the pitchers get a little deeper into games as no team can thrive by exposing their relievers early and often. We're not all that concerned with the bullpen, unless Mark the Shark is in decline rather than a slump. Two flags wave for us: Melancon's return to form and the Caminero/Antonio Bastardo flip. Bastardo hasn't shown up all that well so far, doesn't get his number called much, and there's not much back end depth in the pipeline.

Which leads us to Clint using his pen members a little more regularly - it seems pretty easy to lose the skipper's confidence - and on a more situational, match-up basis. That's not his MO, a bit surprising considering how well he incorporates game data in his decision making, but bullpen management has worked well his way in the past, using set roles and a sometimes short list of staff.

Offensively, we think these guys are for real; not the Lumber Company, for sure, but deep enough. They appear to have their heads on straight now after an embarrassing case of early-season whiffitis, with more power and fewer automatic outs spread through the lineup & bench. When Cutch and The Kid start hitting on all cylinders, runs shouldn't be a big problem.

We like the team so far, especially as it has room to grow. They've kept the grinding that has been a big part of their 2013-14 surge, and even though they stumbled out of the blocks in this campaign's opening week, they've clawed their way back to .500, three games behind the Cards. At this time last year, they were 9-14 and 7-1/2 games out of first, so...

  • Gregory Polanco is featured in a Sean Collier article in Pittsburgh Magazine. Right on time, too. El Coffee has 11 hits in his last seven games, five for extra bases.
  • If you're wondering how the Pirate depth guys are doing, here's Indy's stats to date. Casey Sadler has kept on keeping on, as has late cut Steve Lombardozzi. And, as John Dreker of Pirates Prospects tweets, Big John Holdzkom still has some command issues: "In 5-2/3 innings this year, he's thrown 143 pitches - 74 strikes, 69 balls."Yikes! That equals out to 227 pitches per nine innings.
  • The KC Royals may want to consider joining one of those martial art leagues. After brawling their way through the Oakland series, some yapping sparked another donnybrook with the White Sox. Even Eddie Volquez got involved in the melee and earned an ejection.

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