Thursday, July 28, 2011

My Suggestion for Instant Replay in Baseball

If you follow me on twitter, I'm sure I don't need to explain what prompted me to write this post. Early Wednesday morning myself and other Pirates fans were fuming over this play at the plate where umpire Jerry Meals called Juilo Lugo safe. MLB and Joe Torre admitted yesterday that Meals blew the call, but offered up no solution to keep things like this from happening again saying "most in the game recognize that the human element always will be part of baseball and instant replay can never replace all judgment calls by umpires".

Instant replay is already a part of baseball. It was implemented on August 28, 2008 to judge home run calls. They judge whether the ball is fair or foul, whether it actually left the playing field, and/or whether the ball was subject to spectator interference. It's up to the crew chief to determine if a play will be reviewed.

The fact that MLB only thinks that home runs should be reviewed is asinine to me. After the game Wednesday morning, I had a discussion with a coworker about how instant replay could be improved and I came up with some suggestions.

1. All replay would go to MLB offices - This is exactly what the NHL does. NHL officials review the play and make the final call. Officials aren't thrown under the bus and forced to make tearful apologies when they will be forever remembered for blowing a call. Since MLB would be held accountable for upholding or reversing calls, they can easily release statements regarding the play if needed.

2. Any play at the plate is reviewable - Tim Kurjikan said yesterday on ESPN that the only way instant replay happens is if it effects a playoff game or a playoff chance. Have we already forgotten this game? Another extra innings game involving a Clint Hurdle coached team and a blown call at the plate.

Making plays at the plate reviewable would determine whether or not a player touched home plate and/or a tag was made. How this is not already a rule seems dumb to me. If home runs are deemed worthy, why not scoring plays?

Under this rule, there would not be a need for a coach to challenge the ruling. The crew chief would decide if the play should be reviewed or not. There would need to be clear, undisputable evidence to overturn the call.

3. Coaches can challenge 1 play on the bases a game - Unlike rule #2, a coach can challenge a safe or out call at 1st, 2nd, or 3rd. Under this suggestion, a coach gets 1 per game. I think this would be an acceptable amount under a trial basis. Perhaps in the future it could increase. I think it also gets murky when you get into extra innings games. This could also be discussed after a trial period, but if one of the concerns is slowing down the game, 1 challenge a game seems appropriate.

Under this rule a coach can challenge whether a runner was safe or out. It could also help determine if runners tagged up. It could also potentially cut down on plays at second base where a player is given an entire area code to make the turn on a double play ball.

I don't think that anything should change with balls and strikes and I would rather not make fair/foul calls down the line reviewable. Pretty much every team sport gives their referees some sort of judgement call. You don't see most penalties reviewed in hockey or football. There are a few that are easily reviewable but holding, offsides, etc should be up to the officials. I think that's where these two should lie. They get fair/foul calls right 99% of the time anyway.

Where I think it's debateable is catches, especially if it causes/prevents runs to score. I think if this version of instant replay is done on a trial basis it could be reviewed then or in the future. At the moment, I'm more concerned with calls on the bases. I do think it could expand easily to include catches as well.

If MLB's only concern with instant replay is about slowing the game down, rather then getting calls right, then it makes me less of a fan. The "human element" is always going to be part of any sport, but part of the "human element" is knowing when to right the wrongs. Instant replay should be a part of baseball.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A List of Things I Love About the 2011 Pirates

(numbered, but in no particular order)

1. SELLOUTS! - It was a no brainer that the Boston and Philadelphia series would be sellouts. But the team took those two series and the city has taken notice. I'm glad it will be hard for me to find tickets to weekend games for the rest of the year. I can't make it to as many games as I'd like, so I'm glad people are buying up tickets. I also remember early in the year when people laughed at the size of the crowds. Not so much now...

2. Andrew McCutchen - We've known about him for a long time, but it's been a blast watching him turn into a star.

3. Joel Hanrahan - I actually feel bad for the other team when he comes in for the 9th. Vroom vroom!

4. Jeff Karstens - Just look at the NL ERA leaders. How?!

5. Stroll Inn - I actually had to look it up yesterday because I couldn't remember what bar the boycott was for. Winning caused that. Guess that promotion isn't doing so well.

6. TRADE TALK - Right now, as we speak, someone somewhere in the city of Pittsburgh is discussing who the Pirates should trade for. Not trade away. Not get for. Who the Pirates should add to this team to make it better. I've never been able to be a part of that.

7. ESPN - I've been cynical about the World Wide Leader's baseball coverage, as I'm sure you have, but how great is it to turn on ESPN and see Pirates highlights? This has nothing to do with validation, as some suggest. Until I went out into the real world I watched Baseball Tonight religiously. Unless the Pirates did something amazing or were involved in something really dumb, they rarely lead off any ESPN show. They were often the butt of jokes or ended the show. Now after Pirates post game, I can turn on ESPN and see the Pirates praised and doing something good for a change.

8. An Acutal Bandwagon! - I don't care how long you've been a fan. 40 years, 40 days, 40 hours, whatever. I'm glad you joined us! Let's go Bucs!

9. Jose Veras - Love him or hate him, his appearances are often noteworthy. He got a lot of flack for what happened in Houston, but do you remember what happened vs Big Papi? It was the most intense matchup this year, bar none. Go back and watch it and try not get amped. I dare you.

10. Lacee Collins - I often cringe when she's on the TV, but some of her segments have been classics. Interview with the conductor? Uncle Mike's Peninsula? The guys making a sign at the game? Awesome!

11. Pedro Alvarez Demoted - This might sound odd, but I bet it took a lot of balls for Huntington do this. I saw a lot of people say that this team goes where Pedro takes them before the season. He's in Indy and the team is still winning. It's also a sign that the Pirates felt comfortable enough to let him work on things in Indy. Last year and earlier this year we didn't have that luxury. Brandon Wood, Josh Harrison, and Chase d'Arnaud aren't replacing his power numbers, but have done a good job at keeping 3B warm until he proves he's worked through his issues.

12. Neil Walker - Grand Slam on opening day. That's all I have to say Chicago.

13. Scoreboard Watching! - It's so much fun to see updates on twitter and bring up Gameday. Quick, check the Cardinals score!!!

14. Marty Brennaman - I'm so glad has been all over him for his comments. The fact that Charlie Morton and the Pirates have dominated them so far *knock on wood* makes it that much sweeter.

15. Ray Searage - Kind of makes you forget about that Dave Kerwin guy. That was his name, right?

16. Kevin Correia the Winner! - Wins are the best stat to measure a pitcher by. Kevin Correia has proven that.

17. .500 No Longer the Goal - I've always wanted a championship over a .500 season and this season isn't changing that. But for a long time it seemed the city wanted .500 first, then a championship. It's great to hear conversation shift to championships rather than "The Streak".

18. You Guys! - This may be cheesey, but interacting with other Pirates fans via Twitter, Facebook, etc has been awesome win or lose. Our fanbase is filled with knowledgable, creative, and hilarious people. It's been great to share the highs of winning and the lows of losing with you guys. The passion will always be there whether The Pirates lose 100 games or win 100 games. LET'S GO BUCS!

Please feel free to add your own in the comments section below. There's defiantely way more I could've covered, but it's time to wrap this up and go to work.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Most Important Series to Date?


After defeating the Reds 5-3, the Pirates move to 20-23 on the year. Detroit comes to town for a 3 game series in what I might consider the most important series so far this year.

The Pirates competely blew an opportunity in Washington. They ran themselves into outs and missed chances to win the game. They fell to 18-23 and ruined a lot of hope that they'd see .500 again this year.

Then they traveled to Cincinatti and went 2-0 in exciting fashion. Charlie Morton dominated and Pedro Alvarez smashed a ball into the seats in the first game. Andrew McCutchen bailed out James McDonald and Johnny Cueto finally took a loss vs the Bucs.

Enter Detroit. The Pirates are 73-123 all time in interleague play, the worst of any MLB team. Detroit comes in 22-21, 134-113 all time in interleague play.

If the Pirates get swept, all the negative feelings pre-Electric Stuff come back. Morton's start? Forgotten. Pedro's solid series? History. Win 1 of 3 and you're 4 games under .500 and play 2 games vs Atlanta, 6 games on the road (CHC/NYM), and then have ahome series vs the Phillies. And you thought this past slide was brutal??

The team needs to win this series to generate more positive interest in the team. When Charlie Morton DAZZLES and the next morning during my drive to Cranberry all I hear is fans calling into a talk radio show continuing to breathe fire in the Pirates general direction, something is wrong.

(To get off topic a bit, one particular call irked me. A truck driver called into the show after Vinny asked if anyone is still able to be positive about the team. The guy spouted off about how nobody can "talk bad" to him about the Steelers or Penguins when he's on the road because he won't have it but when they bring up the Pirates it doesn't matter. He said the issue over the past 18 years has been coaching from the bottom up, without giving any sort of evidence for it whatsoever. Vinny remarked that they replaced a few coaches this past offseason, including at the very top. "Yeah well they've been doing that for a while" and cited John Russell as if it didn't matter if the Pirates changed coaches, they were still going to suck. If the problem is the coaching staff and you change them and still suck, maybe the problem really isn't the coaching staff. Maybe you're just an idiot that can't be pleased no matter what change they make, not to mention a bandwagon Pens fan to boot. Put the phone down and stay in your lane. Back on topic...)

A series sweep and you're back at .500. Positive vibes potentially restored. Win all 5 home games and who knows what could happen? Maybe Ron Cook buys a ticket to a game. Maybe Bob Smizik buys a Joel Hanrahan jersey and tries to patch things up with Frank Coonelly. Anything is possible!

So late's take a look at the pitching matchups:

5/20: Jeff Karstens and Brad Penny

In his last 3 games, Penny is 3-0 in 21.2 IP with a 0.83 ERA, striking out 4 and walking 2. Looking at his numbers on the year, what stands out is that his K/9 and BAA numbers are the lowest of his career. His career K/9 is 6.18, but 3.63 this year. His career BAA is .263, but .242 this year. Looking at his BABIP, all that could soon change. His career BABIP is .298, while it's .251 this year, his lowest ever. it hasn't been below .290 since 2004. Looking at his PitchFX, he's lost 2 MPH and some movement on his fastball and is throwing his offspeed more than in previous years.

In Karsten's past 3 starts, he's 0-1 with a 3.68 ERA, striking out 11 and walking 4. I really don't like Karstens as a starter, but he's been able to give up 2 or less ER and go 5 or more innings in 4 of his past 5 games. At home he has a 2.08 ERA and .265 BAA. If Karstens can continue the trend, the Pirates will have a chance.

Looking at Penny's career BABIP vs 2011, he's bound to start giving up more hits. That doesn't necessarily mean it will happen in this series, but let's hope it does. Karstens is Karstens. He's not going to throw a game like Morton did Wednesday, but the damage should be kept to a minimum. As with most games Karstens starts, it's going to be up to the offense to make something happen. With the way Penny has been pitching lately, it's not looking good. But with a below normal BABIP and a weakened fastball, the Bucs still have a chance.

5/21: Kevin Correia vs Max Scherzer

In his last 3 starts, Scherzer is 2-0 with a 0.90 ERA, striking out 16 and walking 6. On the year he has a 2.81 ERA, striking out 53 and walking 24. To boot, he has a .255 BAA and 8.27 K/9. He's had an outstanding year this year. Pretty much the only thing the Pirates have going for them is his 1.25 HR/9 rate. He's a flyball pitcher that will strike you out.

Correia has been touch and go his past 2 starts giving up 10 ER in 10.1 innings. He pitched fairly well vs the Dodgers spreading out 10 hits over 6 innings, but gave up a 3 run HR which broke the Pirates back. He was terrible vs the Brewers in his next start giving up 6 runs and 8 hits in 4 innings. He's been streaky on the year, but when he's on his game, he's good. He's given up 2 or less ER in 6 of 10 starts.

Correia has been able to bounce back from bad starts this year. He threw a 2 run, 4 hit complete game vs the Reds following a bad loss to Milwaukee and didn't give up a run in 6.2 innings vs Colorado following a 5 ER game vs Washington. If Correia bounces back, this game will be a pitchers duel. Scherzer will strike out a lot of Pirates, but is vunerable to the longball. If the Pirates can drive some balls deep, they have a chance. If not, you'll see a lot of swings and misses.

5/22: Paul Maholm vs Rick Porcello

In his past 3 starts, Porcello is 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA, striking out 11 and walking 5. He has an identical 3.67 ERA to Maholm, but a 2.45 K:BB ratio vs Maholm's 1.70. Porcello has an unimpressive .285 BAA, but has allowed 2 or less runs in his last 5 starts. His GB:FB ratio is 1.71 thanks to a few double digit GB games, but in his last two starts, it's been close to even. Porcello is in his 3rd season, totaling only 375 innings. He's showing signs of improvement and the Pirates haven't shown much this year vs soft tossers.

Maholm is 0-2 with a 2.79 ERA, striking out 14 and walking 10 in his past 3 starts. The story on the year for Maholm is that he has received very little run support on the year. He's given up 2 or less ER in 5 of 9 starts and 4 or more in just 2. Walks have been a concern this year. He has a 3.67 BB/9, but has the highest K/9 of his career at 6.23. His BAA at .232 is the lowest of any season he's pitched over 100 innings. Unfortunately his BABIP is also somewhat low at .272 vs a cereer .311.

This matchup could really go either way. Porcello doesn't have dominant stuff and Maholm has been solid as of late. I really don't expect the Pirates to do much vs Porcello because they haven't shown me anything all year vs a guy like him. Plus Porcello has been pitching extremely well lately. But he's pretty young and he's been blown out a few times this year. Don't forget though, Maholm is pitching. Maybe another 2-0 loss.

All in all, the Pirates are running into some really hot pitchers. Couple that with a pretty good Detroit line up, and it's a recipe for disaster. Luckily the Tigers will have to sit a hitter in favor of a pitcher, so Jim Leyland will have to mull that over a cigarette. This could help swing things in the Pirates favor.

If the Pirates want to instill some positivity in the fanbase, they need to sweep this series and get back to .500. Show it's not going to be a fluke this year. There should be some good crowds to welcome Leyland back and Saturday is Neil Walker bobblehead day. Give them another reason to pack the house this weekend. Bust out the broom!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Who in Indy Can Help?

After watching the Pirates waste plenty of opportunities on Monday, I wondered aloud on Twitter, who in AAA would help the current group of Pirates. The responses were pretty underwhelming. Pretty depressing, actually.

So I've decided with the rainout to take a look at options in AAA Indianapolis.

OF Alex Presley
2011: .340/.393/.490 4 HR, 14 BB, 26 K

Alex Presley seems to be the first thought on everyone's mind when the question is proposed. He's a lefty bat that could play in right field. One caller to 93.7 The Fan today suggested moving Garrett Jones to 1B and planting Presley in right. This would put Lyle Overbay on the bench and the suggestion was also to end the platoon situation with Matt Diaz.

vs LHP: 50 AB .380/.426/.460 1 HR, 4 BB, 12 K
vs RHP: 97 AB .320/.376/.505 3 HR, 10 BB, 14 K

Looking at Presley's splits, almost half of his strikeouts have come vs lefties and in half as many at bats. The average is outstanding, but you have to wonder how long that will stand up with such a small sample size. Also only 2 of 19 hits went for extra bases. He's not exactly mashing lefties. Looking at the Matt Diaz/Garrett Jones splits vs lefties they've had 6 hits in 45 at bats COMBINED. In 2010 though, Diaz hit .273 is 121 AB vs lefties. It could be a result of a small sample size, but Diaz has looked punchless at the plate this year, sporting a .233/.263./.301 line, althought his numbers are slightly better vs righties.

If the Pirates were to simply bring up Presley for Diaz, would it make them a better team? Probably. However, it wouldn't make sense for Presley to simply take over the RF role right out of AAA. Garrett Jones is faring well vs RHP with a .270/.393/.506 line. Jones is also a defensive liability at first. That would leave Presley facing LHP and as a left handed batter, it wouldn't be ideal. Plus we already touched on his K concerns, which would surely increase vs better pitching.

Presley is better served getting at bats at the AAA level. Should a Pirates OF go on the DL, he could be a candidate for a recall. John Bowker could also be a candidate if a spot is open spot on the 40 man. Presley is probably a better option than Diaz at the moment, but not enough better to make this a no brainer. Presley only has 25 MLB plate appearances and still showed poor plate discipline (8 Ks/1 BB) in the few ABs he's received. Barring injury, Presley is better served in Indy until a true need arises.

SS Pedro Ciriaco
2011: .185/.189/.258 2 HR, 1 BB, 21 K

Ronny Cedeno is not the shortstop of the future. Who is the answer? I really can't see one. There really is no option currently staring back in the system. Pedro Ciriaco is the closest thing you'll find and if you look at his 2011 numbers and didn't throw up in your mouth, kudos to you. Is Pedro Ciriaco a better option than Ronny Cedeno? Nope! Is Pedro Ciriaco a better option than Brandon Wood? I really don't think so.

What does Pedro Ciriaco provide? Speed and defense. Ciriaco has 9 SB on the year in 15 attempts. That's really not great, but they're better numbers than the 2 shortstops the Pirates currently employ. His defensive numbers are tough to locate since minor league fielding stats are not easy to find or prudent to go by, however he was tabbed as a slick fielder, so let's just go with it.

Ronny Cedeno (brain farts and all) actually sports an 18.7 UZR/150 this year, which really isn't half bad. Troy Tulowitzki has a 3.2 UZR/150 while Alcides Escobar has a 13.2 UZR/150, so I guess take that with a grain of salt. With the lack of statistics and the fact Cedeno has played adequate in the field this year, advantage Ronny Cedeno.

Sadly, Cedeno trumps Ciriaco in almost every category. We really don't even need to go into a bunch of numbers to prove this. It's the state of the middle infield depth throughout the system. There are a ton of question marks and zero answers. Ciriaco is clearly not an upgrade to *gulp* Ronny Cedeno. He's really not even an upgrade to Brandon Wood, who also has the advantage of playing 3B and 1B. Pedro Ciriaco is best served as an emergency option.

Josh Harrison/Chase D'Arnaud
: .333/.375/.494
2011: .260/.342/.412

I bring up these two in the event that something should happen to a certain hometown hero and/or a struggling slugger. Let's face it, there are tons of OF options and the Catchers available aren't worth discussing with Doumit and Snyder both doing pretty well. That leaves 2B/3B and considering these two both start at those positions, let's talk about 'em.

Harrison was involved in the (terrible) Gorzo/Grabow deal and really is the only piece that may actually be worth something some day. I'm not exactly holding my breath for Kevin Hart to ever make it and Jose Ascanio isn't making any friends after blowing Monday's game. Harrison has shown a knack for hitting for average as well as an ability to put the ball in play. Last year his K% was 10%. It's a tick higher at 13.6%, but could decrease given he's only had 89 PAs.

D'arnaud isn't exactly making believers out of everyone after his dismal .247/.331/.377 year in 2010. This after a hot debut of .295/.402/.481 the year before. D'arnaud isn't helping himself with a BB:K rate of almost 1:2. Luckily, he has seen time at SS throughout his time in the system which would help boost any chances of making the big leagues.

Harrison's best bet at making the team right now would be as a bench player. He's spent some time on the DL with an injury this season, so he is best off spending the year in AAA. It really wouldn't be far fetched to see him in a MLB uniform someday given his ability to get on base and not strikeout. D'arnaud on the other hand needs to spend the year at AAA and possibly beyond. Neither one is an option to make it to the MLB this year, but Harrison's name really should be thrown out there more than it is.

If you really had to pick one player to say "Does he make the Pirates better", the only player you could say might is Alex Presley. But the Pirates already have a left handed RF in Garrett Jones and it's not clear that Presley should get playing time over him. For the time being, it appears he's best served getting ABs at AAA and waiting for an opportunity. There really is no rush to call him up, but if things don't improve for Diaz by June/July maybe a tough deciscion needs to be made.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Cautiously Optimistic

I've been a Pirates fan above all other teams in this town since I was probably 3 years old. During the last 23 or so years, I've seen a lot of winning, but a heck of a lot of losing. I've seen one of the greatest players of all time (Barry Bonds) and some of the worst (Brian Bixler). But with what has gone on the past 18 seasons, it's hard to be optimistic in March. This year, however, I'm really looking forward to this season. The Pirates may not win this division, heck they may not even break .500, but for the fans who have stuck this losing out through thick and thin, here is what we're optimistic about:

New Manager

Please raise your hand if you were a fan of John Russell as coach of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Well, I'm not raising my hand, and I really hope there isn't anyone silly enough to raise there hand both to that question and to someone asking them to on a blog. Now raise your hand if you're ready to run through a brick wall for Clint Hurdle. I've got to tell you, it's really akward typing this up with one hand on the keyboard and the other in the air, so I'm going to stop.

In Clint Hurlde's introductory news conference, he engaged the media and fans in ways that Russell could never dream of. It's hard not to root for the guy after that day, but he's been doing it every day since. I have no idea if Hurdle is going to win here because he's 534-625 (.457) in his career as a manager, but if he can motivate his players to win the way he's motivated a lot of fans, he could have some success here.

"This is eventually going to turn, there is not a doubt in my mind that this is eventually going to turn. I wanted to get on board now, because I believe this is the time it's going to start turning."
- Clint Hurdle

Full Year of (Insert Player)

I bring up Hurdle first because the manager is going to be the face of the franchise and he's going to take the heat when things don't go well, but it's up to the players to produce the wins and losses. This year's Opening Day lineup will be completely different.

C - Doumit
1B - Clement
2B - Iwamura
SS - Cedeno
3B - LaRoche
RF - Jones
CF - McCutchen
LF - Milledge

Contrast that with this year's potential Opening Day lineup:

C- Snyder
1B - (Undecided) Jones/Pearce/Overbay/Bowker
2B - Walker
SS - Cedeno
3B - Alvarez
RF - (Undecided) Diaz/Jones/Pearce/Bowker
CF - McCutchen
LF - Tabata

Snyder is a defensive upgrade over Doumit, which the Pirates sorely needed. It remains to see if his bat will come around as his OPS was .566 with the Pirates after starting out .778 with the Diamondbacks. Walker was a Rookie of the Year candidate, while Iwamura is back in Japan. Cedeno REALLY wants to prove he's a starter this year, so...take that for what it's worth. Alvarez is the future of the franchise that Andy LaRoche never could be. Tabata had a higher AVG, OBP, and SLG and stole 14 more bases than Milledge in 11 less games.

This roster is an obvious upgrade to what the Pirates put on the field last year. They have young talent to groom for the next 5 or 6 years in Walker, Tabata, and Alvarez and a potential star in Andrew McCutchen. Couple that with a veteran leader at catcher in Chris Snyder and this team is going to give every team they play all they have.

The roster still has some obvious holes (Shortstop), but this is going to be a good, young, fun team to watch this year. They're going to take a lot of lumps, but they are done fighting to stay here and will grow as a team.

The McDonald Effect

The roster may be better than the 2010 Opening Day lineup, but this is almost the same team that went 21-38 after the trade deadline, including an abysmal 8-21 August. If the Pirates plan on winning this season, their pitching staff will need to lead the way.

One young player the Pirates will be leaning on is James McDonald. The Pirates stole him from Los Angeles and he rewarded them in his 11 starts with 64 innings, 3.52 ERA, 61 Ks, 2.54 K:BB ratio, 1.297 WHIP, and 5 quality starts. He struck out 6 or more in 7 of his 11 games.

If you looked at the Pirates rotation last year, they were missing a guy who could produce swings and misses. Paul Maholm was the only starting pitcher to strike out 100 or more batters. Of the starters that remain with the team, Ross Ohlendorf came in next with 72 Ks.

This could be a defining year for McDonald. He needs to prove that his time with the Pirates wasn't a fluke. If the Pirates are going to have success this season, James McDonald will need to stike batters out and hand the game over to his bullpen in good shape.

Last year, Charlie Morton was the team's "X factor". He didn't do so hot in his first 10 starts with a 9.35 ERA, 52 ER, and 16 walks in 43.1 innings, before spending a few months in Indy. Luckily he came back and closed out September and October with 6 solid starts, giving up 2 or less runs in 5 of them and striking out 18 batters in his final 3 starts. If McDonald comes out the same, then the Pirates season will be over by the end of April. Let's hope he continues what he started.

Pirates fans have every reason to be excited for this coming season. Just as Cardinals, Royals, Padres, and other fans do. I'm really excited to watch this young team progress and the new manager lead the way. The Pirates may still lose 90 games, but this is our team of the future. There's going to be speed bumps along the way, and I'm prepared for that, but win or lose, I'm going to enjoy watching these guys.

Sry, AFK!

Well, it looks like I haven't updated this thing since the All Star break. Sorry, things got a little hectic. Work took over my life, my best friend got married, I moved, and then the Pirates went on to win 8 games in August.

Luckily my work schedule has changed a bit and that has left me with 2 days a week with some time to kill during the day. So I will try to update this as much as possible during the week. I'll even try to write some entries ahead of time and schedule them to post when I know I won't be around. I'll have to plan some topics out and see what I can do. Anyways, I hope you enjoy what I have to write about and if you have anything to add, chime in!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Evan Meek Doesn't Deserve an ASG Nod?

Evan Meek was selected by Charlie Manuel to represent the Pirates in this year's All Star Game next week. Evan Meek has pitched 47 innings, is holding opponents to a line of .175/.229/.253, has struck out 42 batters, and has a WHIP of 0.851. Yet somehow some national writers like to bring up his name when mentioning players that may not deserve an all start spot.

One writer (who doesn't deserve to be linked or named) threw out the fact that Evan Meek has 5 blown saves in 6 opportunities (he actually used incorrect stats, go figure). Well, first things first, Meek isn't a closer. Yet. In his one chance to save a game in the 9th inning this season, he faced 3 batters and got them all out, preserving a win over the Dodgers.

Meek has inherited 16 runners in his 38 appearances. Only 6 have scored. He has not allowed a runner to score in 27 appearances. His WHIP is good for 6th best of relievers with 30IP or more. Meek also has a RE24 of 13.03 which ranks 7th of all relievers. He also has a RAR that is higher than Arthur Rhodes, Matt Capps, and Jose Valverde, all of which are All Stars and aren't being called out by writers that have never seen them pitch.

One writer wrote that the Pirates aren't using Meek when they are ahead. Well with only 30 wins this season through 82 games and one of the worst offenses in all of baseball, it's no wonder he hasn't been given many chances to go out there with a lead. Of his 38 appearances, 27 have been with the Pirates up or down 2 runs or less. 9 times he has allowed that defecit or lead to be dwindled or extended. Seems to me 2 or less runs is a "close game".

Meanwhile, Matt Capps has had the same number of appearances with the Nationals up/down 2 or less and has allowed that lead/defecit to be dwindled/extended 11 times. So while Meek may not be put in situations where he has a lead or is closing out games, he seems to be pitching pretty well. And if you're going to clamor for Strasburg to take Meek's spot, why not clamor for Strasburg to take his teamate's spot instead?

Capps' opponent batting line is .289/.321/.429. His RAR is 5.3. His win probability is -0.65, 4th worst of all 97 relievers with 30IP or more. Yet his selection into the All Star game goes unquestioned. Why? Because he's a "closer" and has accumulated 22 saves, one of the most meaningless stats in all of baseball.

But I guess Meek is an easy target when he plays on a last place team. So rather than look at the roster more in depth, or actually watch the guy pitch, it would be easier to just call out a guy for one of the worst teams in basball who has some above average numbers rather than this guy, this guy, or this guy (who doesn't even qualify for some stats based on plate appearances) when there already is a guy named Brandon Phillips who can play multiple positions.

Meek deserves the spot. There are also much bigger snubs than Strasburg such as Votto and San Diego's league leading pitching staff. Dissing a guy just because he's used in the 6th or 7th inning rather than in the last with a lead is a joke. Hopefully Meek will get a chance to see what Charlie Manuel saw this weekend and these guys can eat their words. Congrats Evan!