Thursday, May 27, 2010

What to do with Charlie Morton

See above, if you missed Charlie Morton's latest start tonight.  The guy truly is reminding me of Rick Vaughn, but the Rick Vaughn from Major League 2, not the original.  If you missed the start, it went something like that.

Insert any line from Major League and it fits this year with Morton.  I was personally looking for but couldn't find:
 Vaughn- "Here it is, the old terminator. If you get a piece, you can rename it."
 Parkman after homer- "I think I'd call it the masturbater."

I also was looking for
Doorman- "Mr. Morton, I thought you started tonight."
Morton- "I did.'
Doorman-"Oh sorry, I didn't turn it on until the second inning."

See Morton fills in very nicely for Vaughn.

All seriousness though, I put just as much of this on the Pirates as I do on Morton.  Why the hell is he still trying to work out his problems at the major league level?  he should have been sent down at the end of April.  What are they doing to this guys confidence except destroying it, if there is any left.

Send him down and have him work it out.  He is talented enough to figure it out and come back strong.  my problem is what has all this done to his head.  He doesn't seem like the toughest guy mentally.  Once one bad thing happens out there, like the balk tonight, he completely loses his focus and can't regain it.

He needs to be a bulldog out there and right now he is pitching as if he was wearing a skirt.  He is 1-9 currently with a 9.53era.  Statistically, that probably makes him the worst player in the major leagues and he has way too much talent for that.

Send him down to AAA first thing in the morning and call Brad Lincoln up.  if Morton makes another start, it's complete bullshit to the team and the fan base, because quite frankly he just doesn't give the team an opportunity to win.

New and Notes From last night's loss

Time to take a break from looking at each position to bitch a little bit.  Why are the Reds better than the Pirates?  It's not because of talent.  It could be because of coaching, but quite frankly, it's because the Reds do the little things necessary to win ball games while the Pirates continue to fail at them.  It's called good fundamental baseball and the Pirates never seem to play it.

What have the Reds done that the Pirates haven't?  They catch the ball, they throw strikes, they hit behind the runner when called for, they can lay down bunts, they control the running game,  they throw to the right base- Should I continue?

Is Bronson Arroyo that good that the Pirates have scored one run off him in the last 14 2/3 innings? Of course not, but he pounds the strike zone and hits his spots.  Pirates starters aren't getting ahead of batters on a consistent basis and miss location more times than not.

The Pirates defense has also cost them more than one game this season.   The Pirates have also made mistakes both on the base paths and controlling the running game.  These mistakes have also cost the team on more than one occasion.  The outfielders always throw home, even when there is no play, allowing runners to advance; also costing the team more than once.

All of this and that isn't even what upsets me the most.  Why do the others teams pitchers have so much success swinging the bat against us.  I have added up all the numbers and the pitcher is hitting .250 against us.  The Pirates have seven offensive players hitting under .250.  They also have Andy Laroche at .256 and Lastings Milledge at .258.  So nine of their 13 bats are hitting under .260 and the opposing pitchers are hitting .250 against us.

On the other side of that, Pirates pitchers a a combined 4 for 80 on the season.  If your scoring at home, they are hitting .050 as a unit.  Brian Burres has two of the four hits, so the rest of the staff has two freaking hits all season.  That's a big problem.  I'm not asking for them to win batting titles, but they have to be able to handle the bat.

Also, what Pirates pitcher can lay down a successful sacrifice bunt?  Most of the time the other teams pitcher bunts, he either gets the job done or somehow winds up on base with a bunt hit.  When a Pirates squares to bunt, it's likely a double play or they lead runner is thrown out.  This is not acceptable.

Who's to blame?  John Russell?  Hitting coach Don Long?  You would think Russell has these guys working on things, but maybe they don't.  As far as long goes, his guys just don't hit.  maybe it's time for an experienced hitting coach that can get through to these guys.  When the opposing pitchers are hitting better than nine of your offensive guys, there is a huge problem.

Add all of the little things together.  If the Pirates would just do the little things right on a consistent basis, they would likely be over the .500 mark at the moment.  Good teams do the little things necessary to win ball games.  i don't know why this message isn't hammered into these guys on a daily basis.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Around the Diamond- Part 3- Second Base

Well Ryan Doumit had another big hit last night after I suggested they start batting him seventh.  No pressure on him now.  It's on to Part Three of my position by position analysis.  Both catcher and first base need upgrades.  Though if Doumit keeps hitting and Garrett Jones becomes the everyday first baseman, then those positions have immediately upgraded.

It's on to second base, which just happens to be the worst position, both offensively and defensively on the diamond.  So far, we've seen Aki Iwamura, Bobby Crosby and Delwyn Young see time there.

Let's start with Aki.  The nicest way to say it is that this guy sucks.  What is it about that Pirates uniform that just brings out the worst in good ball players?  I don't feel like looking up the exact numbers at the moment, but you know how bad he's been.  What is he like 4 for his last 60 after his gift triple last night?

On the season, Aki is hitting a whopping .166/2hr/8rbi.  YET, JR keeps throwing him out there and YET JR keeps batting him lead off.  I can't explain this at all.

What's more disturbing, is what happened to his range defensively?  If you watched him in Tampa, this guy was a talented ball player and a pretty good second baseman.  Now, he can't catch the ball if it's not hit right at him.  He also may be the worst in the league at turning the double play.  There is no way, the Pirates did the proper homework on his knee injury last season.  There has to be some effects from that.

Looking at the other two offensively, Crosby is hitting .236/1/6 in limited time, but he has shown he can't play second base as well.  Young is hitting .246/1/9.  We know from last season that he isn't really a second baseman, but what's funny is that he is better defensively than the other two.

What to do?  First, get Aki out of the lineup.  However, they won't do that, because then they would be admitting to a mistake.  I'd say deal him, but he has little trade value now.  Either put him on the bench or outright release him and eat the money.

Who should play second then?  Right now, I'd say give the job to Young.  He's no worse defensively than the others and at least he offers something offensively.  They can mix in spot starts with Crosby and Aki, but give DY the majority of the time.

Option two is to give Neil Walker a long look here.  I'd be more in favor of this, but Neil Huntington made it clear that Walker will only be a corner utility guy.  Really? then what was the point of having him play a lot of middle infield this year at AAA?  Why is he up here then if he is going to be mostly a bench player?  The reasoning just doesn't make much sense.

Option three is probably the most popular and that means calling Pedro Alvarez up and moving Andy Laroche to second.  I would be in favor of that, but the only problem is that we don't know if Andy can play second.  I think he could but that doesn't always translate.  Also, Laroche has done nothing to lose his job right now at third base.

I'd like to see Young or Walker get a ton of at bats here in the short term.  Either way, they have to get Aki out of the lineup.  Though you know as well as I do that JR will run him out there every day and bat him lead off.

There is no immediate help in the minors, but keep your eye on Josh Harrison, who was acquired in the Grabow/Gorzo deal, and Jim Negrych, the former Pitt star.  Both are currently at Altoona and performing well.  Harrison is hitting over .300 and has a very good glove.  Negrych is back on the map as a prospect.  The power hasn't returned but is also having a pretty solid season, driving in 22 runs while hitting .275 so far. Other than that, they really don't have another second base prospect in the system.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Around the Diamond- Part 2- First base

Today it's time to take a look at the first basemen.  If the production from the catchers didn't sound good, well then, the first basemen are even more disappointing.

So far we've seen four guys see time at first base this season: Jeff Clement, Steve Pearce, Garrett Jones and Bobby Crosby.  Let's eliminate Crosby from this analysis, well because he stinks and he will only play first in an emergency.

I'm also taking Jones out for a moment and just going to look at Clement and Pearce.  Both have performed well defensively, but first basemen have to hit for power and drive in runs and right now, the Pirates don't have that.

Clement is hitting .184/4hr/7rbi. in 103 at bats.  His 29 k's average out to about a k every five at bats.  Pearce has had only 29 at bats since his call up and is hitting .276 with 0hr/5rbi.  He has shown some gap to gap power, but has since been put on the dl.  Either way, neither guy can hit for enough power to remain there.

I'm still intrigued by Clement's power potential and don't want to see them give up on him after 100 at bats, but they need production there.

Jones on the other hand, while not hitting for much power, has driven in 30 runs and has raised the average above .250.  He is having much better at bats than he did a season ago.  Once they get a bat to protect Jones, he should get better pitches to hit and the power numbers should rise.

What to do at first?  When Pearce returns, he should come back as a bench player.  Clement should also be sent down to become more consistent.  Jose Tabata should be called up to take his spot on the roster and take Jones' everyday spot in the outfield.  Jones will then shift to first base permanently, even though he doesn't field the position well.

Jones can shift to right field on rare occasions to give people a day off and Pearce and newly called up Neil walker can make spot starts there.  By doing this, the Pirates lineup becomes deeper and there isn't a hole at a position where you have to have run production.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Around the Diamond- Part 1- The Catchers

Here is the first in my series of analysis of each position on the diamond for the Pirates.  I want to not only look at how each is producing now, but what other options are available and I want to take a look through the organization at what lies ahead for each position.

Fresh off his first career walk off homer yesterday afternoon, let's start with Ryan Doumit and the catching position.

Everyone knows how anti-Doumit I am and with good reason, but good for him yesterday.  He had a big day and his walk-off dinger was likely the biggest moment in the 29-year old's big league career.

Let's look at his season so far, (I'm not getting into career numbers, I just want to focus on where these guys are currently at), .286 avg, 4HR/18RBI in 39 games played.  He had the big game yesterday and a torrid two week stretch, but other than that, he hasn't been very good. 

The knock on Doumit has always been that he can't stay healthy. Well, he's been healthy this season.  What's the excuse going to be now.

My main problem with Doumit isn't necessarily offensively.  If the Pirates had a lineup where they could hide his bat in the seven hole well then maybe it work.  They don't have that and having to bat Doumit fourth, fifth or sixth in the order has turned him into a complete rally killer most of the time.

My problem with Mr. No-Mitt is behind the plate.  He is supposed to be a leader and instead he is lazy and lackadaisical behind the plate.  How many times does he reach to back hand balls instead of getting down to block them.  Also the lazy approach tracking those particular balls that he OLE's is frustrating to watch.  He is just not a very good catcher and if he hasn't improved by now, well then he likely never will.

His arm is also well below average.  Some bases are stolen on the pitcher, but eventually Doumit has to throw someone out. He is under 4% for the season and has a bigger windup throwing the ball to second than any Pirates pitcher does.  He simply takes way too long to get the ball out of his hands.  Again, if this hasn't improved in six seasons, it likely never will.

The catcher position is a big liability on this team.  Jason Jaramillo handles the staff pretty well and he seems to take advantage of his spot starts with the bat as well.  I would be much more comfortable with last season's platoon of JJ and Robinson Diaz then I am with Doumit at any time.

I'm still tired of the Pirates talking about Doumit's potential. That work shouldn't still be thrown around on a guy entering his sixth season in the majors.

I would grade the position at well below average.  That being said, there isn't a significant drop off between Doumit and JJ.

Neil Huntington should explore options on unloading No-Mit.  As a matter of a fact, he should have been dealt before he trotted around to touch home plate yesterday.  Some teams will have some interest and he could also fill a DH role for an AL team.

Sign an old veteran to back up JJ for the remainder of the season.  They could also explore the option of dealing for Colorado's Chris Ianetta. Ianetta was sent down to AAA after losing his job to Miguel Olivo.  A change of scenery could help a guy like Ianetta and his strength is defensively and handling a pitching staff, which would go a long way in developing the young Pirates staff.

Ianetta would be a good one year stop gap.  Tony Sanchez is well on his way to Pittsburgh.  Right now he is hitting .300/3Hr/24RBI at Bradenton and should see Altoona sometime this season.  Scouts say his defense is major league ready and his bat has been better than expected.

I'd expect Sanchez as a late season 2011 call-up and should be the opening day 2012 catcher.  Until then, behind the plate will continue to be a very weak position for this team.

Feel free to comment on the catching position, tomorrow we look at the first base position

Ryan Doumit recounts his walk-off homer

Monday, May 17, 2010

New and Notes After Another Bad Loss

.Well another bad loss, that probably shouldn't have happened. First of all what the hell was with the shift in the third. Ok, i will buy that you shift for Ryan Howard, but with the bases loaded and two outs and two strikes. Naturally the Pirates made it worse by pitching him outside so he has a chance to go the other way.

Not only that, why isn't John Russell shifting Andy Laroche over instead of Ronny Cedeno? Cedeno offers more range on the infield in that situation. Naturally the ball was hit right to where Cedeno would have made an easy play and Laroche had no chance.

Next batter Jason Werth then hits a 3-run HR. Sorry JR, those five runs should have been charged to you. That's bad baseball.

Before I complain about JR some more, you can click HERE to listen to my post-game report for tonight's game.

-More JR bitching. Yesterday vs. the Cubs, down a run in the 9th, why is Delwyn Young pinch hitting against Carlos Marmol instead of Jeff Clement. You're playing for the long ball in that situation and Clement took marmol deep the day before. No guarantee he does it again, but why leave a bullet left in you gun? Again, more bad managing. 

Also, if he was planning on lifting Ross Ohlendorf after one batter in the seventh, then why bother even letting him hit with two runners on?  It's not like he was laboring, having only thrown 73 pitches.  Makes you wonder is Russell has the ability to think ahead during a game.  He hasn't shown it.

This team can lose games on it's own, they don't need the manager losing game for them.

-I am a big Charlie Morton fan, but it's time to send him down to the minors for some tweaking. He has all the tools but something isn't right. Maybe he's tipping pitches or maybe he's throwing to the worst catcher in baseball; though the Pirates would never figure that out. They will keep running him out there to fail. Something has to be done to get this kid back on track. He has shown that he can pitch at the major league level, it's time to get him to be consistent every time out.

-Staring tomorrow, I will start to break down where the Pirates are at the major league level position by position, but it's time to end the Aki Iwumara experiment and bring Neil Walker up and give him and Delwyn Young the majority of the time there. They can do better that 0 for his last 27 and 2 for his last 48. This guy has Freddy Sanchez range at second base which is the same as saying he has no range.

-Minor League Notes. Bryan Morris and his 0.60 era this season has been promoted to Altoona and rumors are he will see AAA before long. Those who bitch about the Bay trade keep forgetting that Morris was the big piece of it. If Morris pans out and Laroche keeps playing well then it was a good deal.

Other minor league note- One of the top prospects in the system, who I love to rave about- Starling Marte will have hand surgery tomorrow and miss 6-8 weeks. It's the same surgery Pedro Alvarez had while at Vandy and he made a full recovery, so there should be no worries.

-Tomorrow I will look at the catcher position, which you Ryan Doumit Hater's will love.  By the way, what was with those throws?  has there ever been a worse throwing catcher?  I can't think of one of the top of my head.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Minor League Report

Usually I write my weekly Pirates Minor League Report and seeing that as we are over a month into the season and I have yet to do one,  now seems like a good time.

Searching through the organization, I have been very excited and have really kept tabs on what a lot of these guys are doing.  It's not a joke, for the first time in decades, the Pirates have REAL prospects.  Not only do they have real prospects, they have real good prospects with high ceilings.

I will try and make this a weekly thing again but I have been very busy of late.  So let's take a look at the minor leagues.

Indianapolis Indians (AAA)-  Neil Walker has been tremendous with both the bat and the glove and had played all over the diamond.  Scouts are raving about his versatility and he is hitting. 325 with 6HR/25RBI.  Jose Tabata has been very good as well, hitting .315 2/11 and also has 17 steals.  Many feel we will see both guys very soon in Pittsburgh.  Pedro Alvarez had some problems with the batting average early, but is all the way up to .265 with 9HR and 36 RBI's in 36 games.  he's starting to hit for power off lefties as well, which is something the organization has wanted to see.

On the mound, Brad Lincoln is off to a 4-1 start with a 3.23 era.  He is throwing three pitches consistently for strikes and once he gets a little more confidence in his change up, then PNC Park should be the next step.  Donnie Veal and Daniel McCutchen have been decent down in AAA but keep your eye on Michael Crotta.  Crotta who wasn't listed among the Pirates Top 50 prospects a year ago has quickly climbed through the ranks.  After getting promoted from Altoona earlier in the season, Crotta has made three very good starts with the Indians, going 2-1 with a 2.86 era; including seven strong innings on Friday.  Crotta is a sinker baller with above average stuff that just gets people out.

Altoona Curve-  The prospects starting with Alttona and lower in the organization are really worth keeping an eye on.  Looking at the position players at Altoona, outfielder Alex Pressley leads the team with a .361 average.  Infielders Josh Harrison and Jim Negrych are both hitting over .300 as well.  Harrison is highly thought of and this seems to be a bounce back year for Negrych, who is back on the map.  There isn't really much power to pay attention for the Curve off the bat.

Two guys struggling to keep an eye on are shortstop of the future Chase D'Arnaud and outfielder Gorkys Hernandez.  Both got off to very slow starts at the plate, but both are still highly thought of.  Some have said D'Arnaud may be the best athlete in the minor leagues at the moment.  D'arnaud has picked things up lately though his numbers don't look like it.  He's hitting only .216 and hasn't shown any power. Scouts say not to expect numbers like that for long.  Hernandez on the other hand has only two extra base hits all season and is only hitting .205.  he may quickly be getting passed up by other young talented outfielders.

On the mound, right hander Jared Hughes and left hander Rudy Owens have been very good.  Hughes is 7-1 with a 3.16 era and Owens sits at 3-2 with a 3.86 era. Owens should have a few more wins but his body of work has been great; especially his 40 strikeouts to only eight walks.  Tim Alderson has a 2-1 record but an inflated 6.19 era.  I'm not really worried about the era because that came as the result of one bad outing.

Keep your eye on Daniel Moskos.  Moskos will be forever linked to Matt Wieters, but seems to have found a role as a left handed reliever.  Moskos is 1-0 with a 1.15era in 15.1 innings of work.

I will have a report on Bradenton and West Virgina posted tomorrow

Monday, May 10, 2010

Good John Russell Thread

Here is a Good John Russell thread for everyone to read.  Apparantly I'm not the only one writing about our lousy excuse for a manager.;pageContainer

Also I am starting to write for man cave sports lounge on the we.  Very Cool site.  check it out

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Battle For Fifth Spot in Rotation

Other than today's outing by Paul Maholm, the Pirates starting rotation has been starting to pitch well of late.  With Ross Ohlendorf scheduled to get the ball tomorrow, spots 1-4 are secure for really the first time all season.

Manager John Russell had a tough decision to make on who will fill that number five spot for the time being.  Both candidates- Brian Burres and Jeff Karstens have thrown well of late and coming off of their last performances, both deserve to get another chance at starting.

Let's look at the season numbers

Burres- 2-1, 4.09 era. 22ip, 21h, 10er 14bb, 13k
Karstens- 1-1, 4.08era. 17.2ip, 20h, 8er, 7bb, 11k

Both guys have had similar numbers and similar outings- 2 good starts and 1 bad one.

Russell announced that Burres will get the ball and Karstens will head to the pen.  Did he make the right decision?  In this case I'm going to say yes, but only for the short term.

Burres has allowed 10 runs, but six came in his first start and four came in a bullpen outing.  In his last 12.1 innings of work, Burres has allowed only seven hits and hasn't allowed a run.  How do you not give him the ball again.

Karstens has shown in the past that he was pretty valuable as a swing guy.  Preforming well as a long guy and can spot start if necessary.

In the end though, does it really matter?  That fifth spot will go to Brad Lincoln sometime this season anyways, so Burress is just keeping it warm for him.  In the meantime though, it would be nice to see what this kid can do a couple more times through the rotation.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Looking at the Quality Start

Another quality start for a Pirates pitcher tonight. This time it was Jeff Karstens pitching well in a 2-0 win over the Cardinals.

No team has played by the theory of good pitching beats good hitting more than these Buccos.  I've been charting the outings all season and it breaks down like this.  Through 30 games, the Pirates have gotten 15 quality starts and 15 very bad starts.

I'm not that big on the quality start numbers, I prefer to go by the eye test.  I still look at the six inning pitched and three earned runs or less, but I prefer to go by "Did the starting pitcher give the team a chance to win today" theory.  Yes, I know, I'm an innovator.

Let's take a look.  When the Pirates receive a quality start, they are 13-2 as a team and their starters are sporting an impressive 2.55 era.  Paul Maholm has led the team with five of my quality starts, followed by Zach Duke with four and Brian Burres and Jeff Karstens with two a piece.

When the Pirates don't get a quality start, it's ugly.  They are 1-14 as a team and have an astronomical era of 12.24  Naturally, Charlie Morton leads the team with five non-quality starts, followed by Duke with three.

When this team gets good pitching, they are a fun team to watch.  If they get quality starts and can score just enough runs to win; then the power arms in the bullpen can really be effective.  I know it's a cliche, but all they need from their starters are six quality innings.  They currently have a effective late innings bullpen with Evan Meek in the seventh, Joel Hanrahan in the eighth and Octavio Dotel in the ninth.

It's been 30 games, so teams begin to show trends.  The trend of this Pirates team is the quality start.  They can hang around the .500 mark for a while if and only if the starting pitching continues to perform well.

Check back tomorrow and I will break down John Russell's tough decision that lays in front of him.  With Ross Ohlendorf coming back to the rotation on Monday, one of Karstens or Burres will be out of the rotation.  Both guys have pitched well and coming off their last outings. deserve to get the ball again.

Check out our post-game report, following tonight's win, featuring Randy Gore.  Click HERE

Until then.  Let's Go Bucs

Frustrating Loss to Cardinals

Last night's 4-3 loss to the Cardinals was one of the more frustrating we will probably see all season.  With all of the blowouts and 20-0 beat downs we have witnessed so far this season, last night was probably the first time all season that the Bucs truly gave a game away.

Sure there were two errors, one each by Ronny Cedeno and Andy Laroche that led to three unearned runs against Zach Duke, who otherwise threw a pretty good ballgame.

Sure Chris Capenter threw a good ballgame for the Cardinals, but the Pirates had chances, but couldn't get that extra hit in an inning to cause any damage, leaving 11 runners on base in the process.

Sure Laroche made a huge base running blunder in the 8th that killed what should have been a big inning for the Pirates.

Despite all that, this game should have been won by the Pirates except for one big huge liability- John Freakin Russell.  Good ol' Jr cost them this one.

Two big calls by JR practically ripped a victory away from the Pirates.  First if all in the fifth, with 2 outs, Russell has Laroche in motion and he is thrown out easily trying to steal second.  I didn't like this call at all. Not with Andrew McCutchen up at the plate and Garrett Jones following.  Laroche scores anyway from first on a gap shot with 2 outs.  I will buy the fact that he was trying to get Laroche in scoring position or that even if he was thrown out, Cutch would lead off the next inning, but why risk that there?

All your doing is assuring that your best hitter will be batting with no one on base.  If you have Cutch batting third, let him swing the stick with a runner on base.  Jones has been hot as well.  Instead of a potential two-out rally, Jr ran them out of the inning.  There are times to pick your spots and run that helps win ball games and Russell just hasn't figured that out in three years.

The big blow from Russell came in the 9th though.  After Joe Mather stole second (great slide by Mather, but Aki Iwumara has to make that tag).  With a runner on second and first base open, JR elects to pitch to Yadier Molina.  Molina is a Pirates killer and had already reached base in his first four at bats.  What the hell are they pitching to him there for?  Even when the count got to be 2-0 and then 3-0, I thought for sure they would put him on.  Of course not.  Molina laced the game winning double to right center.

Why in the world is he pitching to him there?  That's just bad baseball and even worse managing and it cost the Pirates a game they should have won.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Examining The Offense

I have many topics I'd like to get into this week and I should get to at least three of them by weeks end.

I put everything else on hold to look at a major problem of this team and that's the offense.  No one has been good, especially the four guys pictured to the left. (if your scoring at home, that's Aki, Jones, Church & Clement)

What have we seen throughout the first month?  We've seen gimmick batting orders- batting the pitcher eighth and your best hitter second.  We've seen many questionable manager decisions from John Russell- running themselves out of many innings, not bunting in bunting situations, the constantly rotating batting order, etc.  However, the blame can't all really be placed on the manager here.  Eventually, the guys on the field have got to start hitting the ball.

The approach is lousy.  I don't know if hitting coach Don Long is the problem or if these guys just aren't getting it.  How many guys not named Aki Iwamura can hit the ball the other way?  Also, can anyone on this team hit a breaking ball?  Everyone of them can be had on a breaking ball that ends up below the knees. I don't know how they ever see fastballs.  Speaking of fastballs, that's the other problem. These guys are just flat-out missing hittable fastballs. Those are pitches that need to be driven.

More problems- there is no power.  Also, every time we actually do get runners on, you can bet someone is going to try and pull a pitch that shouldn't be pulled and hit into a double play.

The main thing that this team is lacking right now is consistency.  I'm talking about consistency from game to game, but I'm also, more importantly talking about consistency from at bat to at bat.  Every single one of these guys have shown at times in the first month that they can do the job at the plate, but nobody can sustain anything positive.

Let's look at some numbers after one month:
-Andrew McCutchen- .288/4Hr/8RBI- Cutch is fine.  Numbers would be better if JR didn't stick him in the 2-hole for much of the first month.  Though I have a minor concern that he's pulling a lot of balls right now-especially with runners on base.

-Lastings Milledge- .233/0/6- I do like his line drive approach.  I'm concerned that there is no power.  He shouldn't be batting third.  I don't totally mind him leading off but he's a 6 or 7 hitter.  I'm very concerned about him swinging at every low breaking ball that he has no chance to hit.  Needs to be more selective.

-Aki Iwamura- .213/2/8- I like the fact that he likes to go the other way.  I don't like the fact that his approach totally changes with runners on.  You get guys on base and this guy will swing at everything and suddenly becomes pull happy.

-Garrett Jones- .221/4/15- I've liked his patience with nobody on.  I don't like that he tries to do to much with guys on base.  That's natural though.  he's just pressing too much.  If he had a bat behind him to protect him then I think the numbers would be better.  I have been concerned with him missing many hittable fastballs of late.

-Ronny Cedeno-.203/2/6-  How bad would his number be if you take out the first 10 games? Golden rule- If you bounce it then Ronny will swing at it.  He's in like a 4-48 slump with no end in sight.  Maybe it's time to say batting the pitcher 8th was a real dumb idea with a guy like Cedeno batting 9th.

-Ryan Doumit-.308/3/12- He's been hot.  You can tell when he's going good when he's hitting the ball to center and left fields (batting left handed).  As much as I don't like him, him hitting well is essential for this team.  If he can stay hot then the lineup become deeper.  Take out a big two week slump and his numbers would be nice.

-Jeff Clement- .171/3/5- I like this guy but he's gotta start producing.  he's been a victim of bad luck, often hitting the ball hard that results in outs.  He also showed a good seven game stretch where he showed what type of bat he could have.  The Pirates desperately need his power, which he has a ton, but he can't live on promise- he has to start hitting consistently.  He can't hit a breaking ball right now and he's gearing up too much for fastballs and over swinging when he gets them.

-Andy Laroche- .323/2/6- He went on a tear when he came back from a stiff back, but how does this guy ever get a hit?  I like Andy a lot and think he could be a decent major leaguer, but this guy pulls everything.  If you have guys on base, he is a rally killer.  He has to start using all fields.  Every ball he hits is going to third or short.  If other teams played a shift on him, he wouldn't ever get a hit.

-Ryan Church- .273/0/4-  Take out the opening day bases loaded double and Church has driven in only one run in close to 50 at bats since.  Russell has continued to bat him between third and fifth in the lineup and he hasn't produced a thing.  He's a true pro which I like, but just like everyone else, he has to start hitting.

-Delwyn Young- .200/0/4-  He wins the Mr. March award for great spring training player.  If Young isn't going to hit then why is he here?  It's certainly not because of his lousy glove.  To his defense, pinch hitting isn't easy, but he's had some starts as well.  his approach is awful.  A guy could throw 10 straight balls out of the strike zone and you can bet that Young will come up and swing at the first three pitches.

-Bobby Crosby-  .265/1/5- Not much to say here except he isn't very good, though he looks like Ty Cobb compared to Cedeno.

-Jason Jaramillo-. 200/1/4- not enough at bats to comment on, but he's a good backup catcher.  Not too much to complain about.

The Pirates are hitting .234 as a team (last in the league). They have hit 22 homers which is tied for eight in the league.  Can you believe the Astros have only hit 9 homers?  The Bucs are next to last in the league with only 86 runs scored.  They have a lousy .310 OBP, also next to last in the league and they are only slugging .363 as a team.

You can see all the offensive problems.  Hopefully this team can get three or four people going at the same time and at the end of May I will have something positive to write.