Bob Smizik: Lower the mound!

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Nobody asked me, but . . .

• The NFL doesn’t hesitate to massage its rules to give the advantage to the offense because fans like to see points scored. MLB should do the same. Pitching is becoming too dominant. Starters go six innings and turn the games over to a stream of guys who throw 95 mph for one inning. The solution: Lower the mound. Take some of the advantage away from pitchers and put the offense back in the game. Additionally, there have been studies that show the higher the mound the greater the stress on a pitching arm. In other words, lowering the mound might quell the epidemic of Tommy John surgery. It’s a win-win move.

• This is a link to a very good interview with Pedro Alvarez by Colin Dunlap of The Fan. Pedro addresses some of the issues that bother Pirates fans, including his lack of emotion when striking out. There are no sensational sound bites, but it’s nice to hear from Alvarez and know some of what he’s thinking.

• In case you missed it, the festivities for 2015 All-Star Game, which will be in Cincinnati, will include limited participation from Pete Rose, who is otherwise banned from baseball. Commissioner Bud Selig would not be specific on what exactly Rose, a Cincinnati icon, will be allowed to do.

• My criticism of Josh Harrison’s selection to the All-Star team prompted someone to ask who was more deserving. My response: Are you kidding? His own teammate, Neil Walker, has more home runs and RBIs (per AB) and a higher OPS. To name a few others: Jayson Werth, 12 homers, 54 RBIs, .807 OPS; Scooter Gennett, seven homers, 38 RBIs, .828 OPS; Seth Smith, 10 homers, 27 RBIs, .895 OPS (sixth in the league); Jhonny Peralta, 14 homers, 44 RBIs, .783 OPS. I could go on and on.

• Lots of talk about Pitt running back James Conner also playing defensive end next season. I’ll believe it when I see it. That’s not to question Connor’s ability to handle both positions. Just that it makes little sense to put such a valuable player in such a role.

Minnesota general manager Terry Ryan on the success Twins castoff Vance Worley has had with the Pirates: “Give him a little time to see what he does over the course of starts. We’ll talk about that in October. See how it goes. I know he’s done well.”

• As long as the Pirates stay in contention, the MVP award is Andrew McCutchen’s to lose.

• The value of Yadier Molina: Since his first full season in 2005, the Cardinals have allowed 240 fewer stolen bases than any other team. The rankings of the top four: Cardinals 480, Reds 720, Twins 775, Diamondbacks 760.

• After going 2-for-25 in rehab (thumb surgery) games in the low minors, Andrew Lambo rejoined Indianapolis for the first time since May 4 last night. He had one hit in four at bats as the designated hitter.

• In 2013, Starling Marte was third in batting average in the National League against left-handed pitching at .402. This season he is 102nd at .244.

• Cincinnati rookie center fielder Billy Hamilton is looking like the real deal. These are his monthly on-base percentage numbers: .292, .301, .348, .357. He also appears to be an exceptional center fielder.

• Former Pirates: Tim Alderson, the only player received from San Francisco in the Freddy Sanchez trade, was released (from Class AAA) by Baltimore. In 50 innings with Norfolk he had a 6.12 ERA . . . Mark Appel (not quite a former Pirate) has a 10.80 ERA in 11 starts with Lancaster in the Class A California League. Opponents are batting .392 against him . . . Brad Lincoln is 4-5 with a 4.40 ERA in the International League.

• News items I could live without on the radio and in the newspapers. College football players being named to 'Watch Lists.’ These are nothing more than cheap publicity stunts.

• Pirates batting averages with runners in scoring position: Josh Harrison 20-49, .408; Jose Tabata

11-30, .367; Russell Martin 16-49, .327; Andrew McCutchen 29-89, .326; Tony Sanchez 7-22, .318; Neil Walker 26-73, .288; Travis Snider 8-32, .250; Ike Davis 12-49, .245; Starling Marte 18-75, .240; Pedro Alvarez 19-90, .211; Jordy Mercer 15-74, .203; Gregory Polanco 7-38, .184; Gaby Sanchez 8-48, .167; Chris Stewart 2-for-20, .150; Clint Barmes 2-17, .118.


First Published July 18, 2014 12:00 AM

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