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.