Stats Geek chat
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Brian, in your column today, you referenced Ryan Shealy. The author of http://buccoblog.mlblogs.com/my_weblog/ responded to your suggestion with one of his own: "Hey Geek - remember Willie Stargell? He played LF and was moved to 1B. Maybe Littlefield should consider such a move? *hint-hint*" Any reply?
Stats Geek: If the suggestion is to move Bay to 1b, that strikes me as nuts. I put Jason Bay at 30th among the top 25 problems the Pirates have. If he isn't the best hitting left fielder in baseball, he's close, and he can field his position. Even assuming he could play first base, you'd have to start looking for a left fielder.
PensFan: What happens to Brad Eldred if the Pirates get Shealey?
Stats Geek: Eldred fights for a job, which I think can only be a good thing.
PensFan: Hey Brian, we know that Capps might be the best available reliever the Pirates have, but which others could they expect decent return on if they were to trade them? Which among them is statistically the better pickup for other teams?
Stats Geek: Capps and Mike Gonzalez have been the two best pitchers in the bullpen, but I doubt the Pirates would trade Gonzo. Littlefield doesn't give up on closers easily. Beyond that, Torres has been a durable, effective pitcher for most of the season. Teams would like him. Grabow is a guy who can get lefties out. Marte throws strikes. Hernandez is a steady vet, though has the Pirates malady of wildness, with 24 BB in 42 innings.
Pickman: I know it wouldn't be the first time, but what do you think the odds are for Casey to be traded by the time his bobblehead night comes on Sat.?
Stats Geek: I'd give slightly less than even money. Be a bad PR move. They may wait until after the last head bobbles out of the park before closing the deal.
JPeezy: It seems like Bay almost always never comes through with RISP. What do you think?
Stats Geek: I think that's wrong. The guy has 75 RBI. How'd he get them if he never comes through with runners in scoring position?
kendall697743: I have read where the Pirates are looking for a major league ready starting pitcher and a prospect for Craig Wilson. Are the Pirates simply overvaluing their own player or does Wilson have this kind of interest from other teams?
Stats Geek: I'd be very surprised if they can get all that for Craig Wilson, and I like Wilson. A lot of teams, including the Yankees, are looking for starting pitching, not giving it away.
JPeezy: Is Castillo ever going to live up to his potential?
Stats Geek: You'd have to ask Nostradamus. I wish I had a crystal ball on that guy, maybe the most frustrating player on an excruciatingly frustrating team. He had that incredible May with all those opposite field home runs and you thought he was finally going to be the guy you always hoped he would be, and he's been horse spit since. The worst defensive player on the team.
jimmy_g: So who will be the first Pirate to go?
Stats Geek: Johnny Depp
kendall697743: What if anything can we attribute Gorzelanny's lack of control compared to his command in the minors? In your opinion, will he come out of this?
Stats Geek: Sure, I expect he'll come out of this. He had a decent game last time out. He's all of 23 years old and nervous. I would be, too. I expect he'll remember how to pitch again.
Hon._Rufus_Peckham: What is your take on the reason for Zach's fall-off this year? Has he lost speed? Control? I think the casual observer is completely perplexed by it.
Stats Geek: I'm not a scout, and I wind up catching most games on the radio, so there are better people to ask, but I'd say the hitters are catching up to him and the defense (see Castillo, Jose) has been worse this year, which is tough on a groundball pitcher. But he seems like a smart guy. He should find himself again, though he may never be as dominant as he was as a rookie.
Hon._Rufus_Peckham: With the Pirates luck, they trade Johnny Depp and he ends up being batting champ somewhere.
Stats Geek: Well, the Pirates picked up a potential batting champ when they traded Jeff Suppan a few summers ago. Sometimes luck goes the other way.
JYot: I know its crazy talk, but a lot of friends have mentioned what a good fit Pittsburgh would be for A Rod. Just as a "what if," do you know what kind of money the Pirates would have to pick up? I know Texas is still on the hook for the lions share of his contract.
Stats Geek: I love questions like this. If I were Littlefield, I'd be on the phone with Cashman, if only for the fun of it. Given that the Pirates are spending about $20 million this year on Burnitz, Randa, Wells and Craig Wilson, none of whom will be on the team next year, they could afford him. What do y'all say to Sanchez for A-Rod even up?
JPeezy: It's so frustrating watching Pirates pitchers walk people. How can it be explained?
Stats Geek: I blame the parents.
jimmy_g: Johnny Depp will still be around for a while. He has to make P. of C. III.
Stats Geek: True. Let's just pray he doesn't make "Edward Scissorhands II''.
jimmy_g: The two prevailing theories about the Pirates' plight are cheap ownership and poor judgement of talent. What do the statistics show?
Stats Geek: I'd say both are true, though Bob Smizik had a good column Sunday arguing that no organization can be called cheap when they spend $20 million on Burnitz, Randa, Wells, etc. Certainly this organization makes a lot of money, and it certainly has made some miserable choices in drafts, roster protection and free agent signings for the past decade.
zarleyz: All the Pirates need is young team with potential and I will be happy. When will Bay and Jack Wilson be old enough to be the veteran leaders, so that we won't have to go out and overpay for guys who are over the hill?
Stats Geek: Well, then you should be happy now. There are four guys in the rotation under 24 or a younger, and a fifth, Oliver Perez, waiting in Indy for Wells to be traded. None of the old guys -- Randa, Burnitz, Jose Hernandez -- are playing much. I'd say Wilson and Bay qualify as veteran leaders now.
kendall697743: Since the All Star game revenue is gone, and ticket sales are almost assured to decrease next year, will the owners finally feel pressured into spending money this offseason on actual players that aren't just here for a year? Or will they continue to line their pockets?
Stats Geek: I was surprised to learn that the Pirates get none of the All-Star revenue. That goes to MLB. They do get to keep the bump in ticket sales that, as you say, will likely now disappear. They'll still have plenty of money to spend this winter, though whether they'll spend it wisely is an entirely different question. And, yes, they will continue to line their pockets, of course.
jimmy_g: So at 35-66 what are the Pirates' odds of losing 100 or 110 games?
Stats Geek: The odds look very good for 100 losses now. The pitching staff hasn't settled down, and some of the players who have been helping lately, notably Joe Randa, probably will be traded. They still need 18 one-run losses to catch '68 White Sox for most ever, however. That could be the race to watch these next couple of months.
kendall697743: What do you think the Pirates long range plan for Bautista will be? 3rd base and trade Jack or Jose to create an opening there for Sanchez, or do they try to make Bautista into a CF or RF?
Stats Geek: Great question. Apart from Sunday, I think Bautista has done a good job in CF, but they're going to give Duffy another shot there, which I think is wise. If Duffy is successful, I'd move Bautista to RF. I think the Pirates would then have a good defensive OF, something they haven't had in a long time. Here's something to consider: Bautista is currently hitting .271/.367 on-base average/.489 slugging, giving him an OPS .856, slightly better than the NL avg. third baseman OPS of .841. Among NL third basemen (a particularly strong position in this league) he would rank ninth and Sanchez eighth among 17 third basemen with 225 plate appearances. But Bautista would rank third among center fielders and third among right fielders. Leaving him in the outfield might be the best bet for this team, unless they trade for a high-impact RF.
Lou_Collier: I'm a Pirates fan living in New York, and I bought the MLB Extra Innings package to follow the Pirates up here. Should I choose to go to court to get a refund, name me three clips of Pirates ineptitude I should be sure to include on a clip reel arguing my case.
Stats Geek: Well, Jose Castillo's game last night would be up there. I'd also go with the 9-8 loss to Cincy when they had a 6-0 lead in the first, and the 5-4 lead to Houston when they had a 4-0 lead in the ninth and, oh, the 5-4 loss to Arizona when they loaded the bases with nobody out in the ninth and the score tied and couldn't score, with all three batters whiffing. That was classic.
Pickman: If Wells doesn't get traded, is there a point after the trade deadline to continue to have a person pitch on the staff who is not part of our future...meaning will Perez come up and take his place regardless of trade or not?
Stats Geek: That's a great question, because it points to the reason why Wells must simply be dumped. Wells isn't done. He could have a Benson-esque future as a middling pitcher in this league, but there's no reason for the Pirates to offer him arbitration to find out. It would be too costly.
JYot: I'd say OK to Sanchez for A-Rod. I'd even toss in a pitcher. Speaking of pitchers, which middle reliever do you see as most likely to be moved?
Stats Geek: Grabow is what I hear. Managers love to have lefties in their pens.
JPeezy: Do you think Freddy will win the batting title, especially now since Nomar's fallen down to around .330?
Stats Geek: He has as good a chance as anyone. He has hit over .300 in five consecutive months going back to last September. He should hang around long enough to make it interesting anyway.
Lou_Collier: Remember Jim Leyland's old press conferences, full of random, out of place bleeped swearing? Do you think that's the main reason the Tigers have turned it around this year? Are there any statistics for the success of randomly profane managers vs. clean ones?
Stats Geek: The randomly profane manager has a winning percentage of .513 going back to 1950, whereas the choir boy type (Jim Tracy) is at .487. I just made that up, but don't tell anyone.
Pickman: What is your opinion of keeping Sean Casey, I think although power is lacking, I like the fact we would have a .300 hitter with gap power that rarely strikes out, and try to find power in the off season for right field to bat from the left side....your thoughts?
Stats Geek: I wrote about this today. I'd rather trade for Ryan Shealy and have him, Eldred and possibly Doumit compete for the job. Casey would be my fallback position. I don't see anyone paying him $8.5 million a season or giving him a long contract, so he'd be a good fit if the Pirates don't get Shealy or someone else. As you say, Casey can still hit for average and get on base. But the Pirates have to find power somewhere, particularly if they replace a power hitting CF (Bautista) with another singles hitter (Duffy).
Pickman: After the Yankee's laughed in our face for such a trade (A-Rod for Sanchez) it would soon be followed by even more laughs when we asked them to absorb some of A-Rod's contract, on the other hand if Cashman was drinking goofy juice it would be quickly nixed by MLB and or A-Rod who has a no trade clause ... haha
Stats Geek: Agreed. I don't see the Yankees trading A-Rod. I'd still make the offer, just for grins.
JYot: Have you ever considered a bike tour to Bobby DelGreco's home in Brookline? Just curious.
Stats Geek: Not until you just mentioned it. Can I find it on mapit.com?
bucsfan1980: Do you foresee the Pirates making a significant acquisition (Shealy, Casey Kotchman) or just settle for another "major league ready" scrub like Jody Gerut. Given DL's track record, I'm not expecting much.
Stats Geek: I foresee nothing. I picked Argentina in the Falkland Islands War (figuring home-field advantage) but if the Pirates don't make a smart move here, with all the chits they have to trade, they're hopeless.
Lou_Collier: With emphasized importance on OBP and OPS nowadays, how significant do you think the batting title really is? Would we care that much if it weren't for Sanchez's stellar season?
Stats Geek: Oh, people still care about the batting title. I don't think that will ever go away. Those silver bats are way cool.
jimmy_g: The Pirates would still be in last place with Jim Leyland because of lack of talent, etc. At most Jim Tracy has lost 5 games with his decision making during games.
Stats Geek: Agreed
Hon._Rufus_Peckham: And exactly why do you require Dan Gigler to be your Ed McMahon and introduce you? Is he also standing off to the side laughing it up like Ed used to do?
Stats Geek: No, but he is wearing a plaid sports coat and telling me I may have already won $1 million from Publishers Clearinghouse.
JYot: Exit the liberty tunnels, turn left on Pioneer, Left on Southcrest. You have to do some research to get the house number.
Stats Geek: I'm on it.
Lou_Collier: Eric Byrnes is a white, marginally talented outfielder who compensates by "playing the game hard" (beat out two ground balls in three years, probably hit a wall making a catch once). How have the Pirates not done everything to get this guy as their #3 hitter?
Stats Geek: I'm not sure that's entirely fair. Sure, they went and got Casey, Burnitz and Randa, but they also went out and got Roberto Hernandez and Damaso Marte. With Paulino behind the plate, Bautista in CF and Sanchez at third, the surnames on this team are more Latin than they've been in a while.
kendall697743: Given that the Nationals got a player that would really help our team now (Kearns) by trading early, does Littlefield help or hurt his chances of gaining value by waiting until the last possible moment to pull a trade off? Or does timing not have that much of an effect on return?
Stats Geek: Littlefield says there's still plenty of time to make a good deal. I have to believe he knows more about what's going on than I do. We'll know in a week.
Pickman: Although it is not anywhere near as bad as the beginning of the season....do we still have the worst first inning pitching staff? Seems like we always are in a hole in half the games we play after the first inning...
Stats Geek: I think I heard Bob Walk say last night the team has given up 70 runs in the first inning, or maybe that the Pirates have been outscored by that many in the first inning. Either way, it's hard to imagine anyone being worse.
jimmy_g: Brian, you better be in shape to make it up from Downtown to Brookline.
Stats Geek: Unlike Lance Armstrong, I know when it's time to get off the bike and push. I could make it, but I hope there's not a crowd.
pgh4life: I haven't been able to catch any Indianapolis games, but have read highlights and stats. Chris Duffy is hitting much better in his first week or two back, but is he back to his "old" style of hitting or is he doing it with Tracy's tips?
Stats Geek: There's a myth about Duffy that he was some line-drive hitting machine last summer. He wasn't. He had 13 infield hits in around 150 AB. So about 100 points of his batting average was tied up in his legs. I don't know what Tracy said to Duffy, but if it was "keep hitting the ball on the ground and try to take more walks,'' I'd have no problem with it. Obviously, whatever Tracy did say, Duffy wasn't very receptive, but the theory itself isn't bad.
Lou_Collier: Do you agree that there haven't been enough articles criticizing the Nuttings with pun titles? Smizik's "Whole Lot of Nutting" was a start, but how about "Nutting Lasts Forever, Except the Pirates Losing" or "What's up with the payroll? Nutting, Honey"
Stats Geek: I like it. I expect We're Getting Nutting for Christmas, too.
bucsfan1980: Will the Bucs keep their "Drive for 75" mantra alive in 2007 and sign more washed-up vets, or will they finally go young? You'd think the front office would eventually get a clue. It's not like their plan is working.
Stats Geek: Well, in fairness, it's not like they didn't go young in the rotation either. My hope for the off-season is that if they spend any money, it's one or two high-impact players rather than three or four marginal vets. If they can't do that, play the kids.
Pickman: If the Pirates did have Eldred up here, it seems like he would be a player like Adam Dunn from Cinci....or are Brad's strikeouts that much more poor than even Adam's?
Stats Geek: I'm afraid he's going to be more like Steve Balboni than Adam Dunn. We'll see.
kendall697743: Being in NC, I idolize Rob King and Stan Savran, I buy and watch all the WQED DVD's on Pittsburgh, and never use ketchup in a restaurant unless it is Heinz, am I just in love with Pittsburgh or should I seek counseling? lol
Stats Geek: You should seek counseling. Stat.
pgh4life: Duffy was clearly using a different hitting approach in his rookie season compared to the beginning of this season. My question is, which style is he using now to achieve his impressive (so far) stats?
Stats Geek: Well, that' s not clear to me. I checked and 61.6 of his balls in play were grounders last year, same as this year. Some of line drives became fly outs, though.
bucsfan1980: If the Bucs near/exceed 100 losses will Littlefield be canned? While (obviously) ownership is the main culprit here, the guy hasn't exactly pulled his own weight.
Stats Geek: I don't expect Littlefield to be canned. His contract was just extended. But I know I have to go. Thank you, kids, for playing our game. See you in two weeks.
First Published July 25, 2006 12:00 am