Thursday, April 29, 2010
Controlling the Running Game
After a good twelve game start, followed by an awful seven game stretch, the Bucs managed to win their last two in Miler Park; sending them to LA on a good note.
Despite how bad things have gone at times, the Pirates sit only three games under .500 and only five games out of first place.
It would be nice to see them hang around for a few months; hopefully attracting a few more fans in the process.
One thing has to happen though for the Bucs to start to play better though and that is control the running game better. Although Ryan Doumit's bat has come around the last week, his defense gets worse year to year.
He doesn't call a great game behind the plate, often going away from pitcher's strengths. His calls on location also makes you wonder sometimes. The pitchers just always seem to fare better when they are throwing to the backup catcher. Dating back to when Ronny Paulino was the backup catcher, the ERA against was always much lower for the backup then for Doumit.
Everyone also saw the play Monday night in Miller Park when he failed to block the plate as well. That just can't happen, especially from a veteran catcher.
One area that's abysmal this season is Doumit throwing out base runners. So far, opposing base runners have attempted 22 stolen bases and Doumit has thrown out just one runner. That's about 4% if you are scoring at home. The league average is usually around 25%. The worse part is that none of the steals have even been close. Backup catcher Jason Jarimillo has yet to have a runner attempt a steal on him.
Much of the blame should be put on Doumit, but not all of it. The pitchers must do a better job of holding runners on. Paul Maholm is really the only pitcher that has any success controlling the running game. It also seems teams are stealing third way too much on the Pirates. Funny how they always seem to pick the perfect pitch to run on. That answer is simple- they are reading Doumit's signs. He has to do a better job of switching up the signs when a runner is on second.
Some blame has to be thrown at John Russell and the coaching staff as well. How many pitch outs and pick off attempts do we see? Not that many. That stuff is called from the dugout. They need to give Doumit a little more help there, but in the end Doumit has to start throwing some of these guys out. It's leading to way too many runs.
The Pirates need to improve in many areas to start competing and they can start here. It's nice for him to hit a few ninth inning homers to help his confidence; now he needs to help his confidence behind the plate by throwing out a few base runners.