Saturday, July 10, 2010

A look at the Pirates Mid-Season Awards

Tonight's game has already made me angry and it's only the third inning, so I figured I'd get a column written.

Since we are approaching the all-star break, let's take a look at the Pirates mid-season awards.

MVP- Andrew McCutchen.  Cutch is really the only choice here on a team filled with under achievers.  McCutchen is hitting a solid .292 with with 8HR/26 RBI.  He has also racked up 20 steals and played a solid center field for the Bucs.  You also would think the numbers would be even better had John Russell not foolishly taken him out of the leadoff spot for most of the season.

LVP- Charlie Morton.  I considered several players here, but Morton is actually an easy choice.  The Pirates needed Morton to emerge into a potential top of the rotation guy and instead have received a 1-9 record and a 9.35 era.  Also considered for the prestigious award were: Zach Duke, Ryan Doumit and John Russell.

Rookie of the Year- Neil Walker.  Walker has surprised many after his call-up in late May.  He looks like a natural at second base and his bat has been a big surprise, hitting .289, 3/12 at this point.  Also considered were:  Jose Tabata, Brad Lincoln and Pedro Alvarez.  Walker has done the most to impress at this point.

Unsung Hero- Jeff Karstens.  Karstens was designated for assignment in the off-season, but accepted his demotion to AAA and made his way back to the big club.  Once he arrived again, Karstens has filled any role asked of him and has done so effectively.  Quite simply, Karstens just takes the ball and does his job.

Best Moment- April 5, 2010- Opening Day.  Just to see real excitement back at PNC Park was a special thing to witness.  The crowd created the most energy on that day than it has for the past decade.  The game helped also as Garrett Jones hit a pair of homers to help the Pirates to an 11-5 win over the Dodgers.  That day alone still gave me hope that people can support this team.  Hopefully we can witness that on a nightly basis in the near future.

Worst Moment- April 22, 2010- The 20-0 loss to the Brewers. In what seemed to be a long stretch of blowouts with the Pirates on the wrong end, this one was the worst as the Pirates suffered their worst loss in franchise history.  What made the loss even worse was the carefree attitude of John Russell, explaining, "These kind of games happen from time to time."  Really JR?  The last time I checked, they have happened only like five times in MLB history.

Most Glaring Stat- Stolen bases against the Pirates.  This has become embarrassing.  Teams have attempted 94 stolen bases against the Pirates and have been successful 82 times.  How did we ever throw out 12?  It's a miracle.  If your scoring at home, teams are stealing at an 88% clip on the Pirates.  A change has to be made in both the catcher and the way the Pirates control the running game, from both the bench and the mound.  Which leads me to.......

Player that has to be Dealt at the Deadline- Ryan Doumit.  It's just wishful thinking, because the organization is in love with Doumit, but he brings nothing to the team. he is the worst defensive catcher in the game and his bat doesn't offer much. he's a natural rally killer and has a lazy way about him on the field.  Sure he can get on a hot streak twice a year for about two weeks at a time, but the time is now to move him.

Doumit has had plenty of opportunities throughout his six seasons with the club and has failed to produce.  He's not a middle of the order type hitter. He's not a run producer.  He is a liability to a young pitching staff.  He has very little value to this team.  His time in Pittsburgh should be up.  Move him now.

Biggest Surprise- Evan Meek.  You could tell Meek was going to be good.  His power right arm started to flourish at the end of last season in the Pirates bullpen, but no one could have expected the first half Meek delivered.  After last night, his ERA finally rose above one, but Meek has been nothing short of outstanding.  He is headed to the all-star game and it's well deserved.  Meek should end up as the future closer of this team. 

Also considered as a surprise could be the Pirates record at home this season, where they are a respectable 19-20, and the fact that John Russell still has a job is very surprising, but Meek is the easy winner of the award

Biggest Disapointment- Starting Staff as a Whole. Going into this season, it looked like the Pirates rotation would take a big step forward and help this team become competitive.  Instead, the combination of: Paul Maholm, Zach Duke, Ross Ohlendorf, Jeff Karstens, Charlie Morton, Brian Burres, Brad Lincoln, Daniel McCutchen, Dana Eveland, and Chris Jakubauskas have combined to post a 16-46 record to go with an awful 5.70 era.

Maholm leads the staff with five wins, with Duke the next closest with three.  The Pirates also became the first team in MLB history to have three starting pitchers record their first wins of the season at the end of June, which they accomplished on three consecutive days.

What's worse about the starters is the general approach.  Outside of Maholm, no Pirates starter will work the inner half of the plate. Too many hitters are hanging out over the plate against the Pirates because they aren't worried about them coming inside. The strike out to walk ratio is also very alarming.  Pirates starters have only struck out 285 batters, yet have issued 181 free passes, not nearly even approaching a 2-1 ratio.  Maholm leads the starters with 56 punch outs.  Joel Hanrahan has 51 strike outs out of the pen in 60 fewer innings pitched, more than any other Pirates starter.

There have been plenty of other first half disappointments, including:  Ryan Doumit, Andy Laroche, Ryan Church and the play of the team on the road, but nothing has been more disapointing than the way the starting staff has pitched.

Dumbest Quote- Frank Coonelly. This was a very tough category to award a winner in because Pirates management has fed us a long line of bad quotes, but four come to mind and Coonelly takes home the trophy.  Coonelly said during the initial gathering of the team during spring training, "'Don't let people tell you that the Pirates have a great future, but it's not today.' Today is our future. 2010 is the beginning of the next dynasty of the Pirates."

Runner-ups- John Russell- "These guys don't realize how close they are to being a really great team."

Neil Huntington- "Dana Eveland is a 26-year-old left-hander who has shown the ability to be an effective major-league starting pitcher. He has an interesting four-pitch mix, and we feel this acquisition is a potential upgrade for our current rotation with the upside of years of control and improved production.”

Eveland lasted 9.2 innings as a Pirate, going 0-1 with an 8.38 era.

I love the enthusiasm of all the quotes, but please don't treat the fans like we are stupid.


  1. Very good column. I'd like to add my 2 cents but I think you nailed it.

    maybe you should have had a John Russell decision of the year award but you could probably write a whole page devoted to that

  2. LVP = Ryan Doumit. Worst catcher in the game and we are actuallyy paying him a decent salary.

  3. LVP= John Russell and the Pirates front office. They put this team in a position to fail night in and night out

  4. Good point about throwing inside. I think that was great from maholm yesterday. I think Doumit set up inside twice all night tonight

    Doumit also gets my vote for LVP


  6. I would like to see them deal Duke, Church and especially No-Mitt. I'm truly disappointed Matt that you didn't give him the LVP

  7. How about a worse move. Iwumara signing. he could also get the LVP but that has to go to that lazy prick doumit

  8. Even worse move, the extensions to JR & NH. Doumit for LVP

  9. Is it to late to add a WTF? category? I nominate re-acquiring Bixler. WTF

  10. John Russell for LVP as much as I hate Doumit. Both these guys have to go