Pirates Morning Report, We Need a Pop Up Drill

Final Score: Pirates 3 Red Sox 5

How The 2023 Pirates Did: Simply put, they did not do well at all. Mitch Keller who currently is diagnosed with right shoulder fatigue, did not look good, but still could have gotten out of those two innings with only 3 runs scoring, if the Pirates were able to corral pop ups and fly balls. Why Cruz was not charged with an error on the pop up in the 1st inning is anybody’s guess. The 2023 Pirates only got 1 hit for game and that was Jason Delay, who is not a cinch to be playing next year, but he has been the best catcher this year. Believe me the competition has not been too tough. Even though I just wrote yesterday that Ben Gamel should not be on the team next year, it would be nice to see the Pirates make him the permanent DH for the rest of 2022. It could be something that Gamel does really well, if given the opportunity. One thing is for sure, he can’t field. The bullpen did an outstanding job holding the Red Sox scoreless over the last 7 innings. Cruz continued his struggles and the rest of the 2023 team could only get 1 hit in 18 at bats with 3 walks.

Key Moment of The Game: The entire first inning was a disaster on all fronts. The Red Sox started the game with a single, 2 walks, and 3 more singles, with one being the misplayed pop up. They had 3 runs and there was nobody out. Then the Pirates went the next 7 innings getting only 1 hit. They fired the hitting coach about this time last year. Maybe this is what the team needs now, no instruction.

Next Game: Tonight, Red Sox in Pittsburgh. Roansy Contreras goes tonight, and it will put a little more interest in the game. I imagine that new call up Kevin Padlo will get another start, just to ensure another loss and to continue to put garbage on the field. He has only played 3 games in the outfield in his professional career, so expect to see him in right field soon. Right now, there are only 3 teams with a worst winning percentage than the Pirates. If the season ended tomorrow the Pirates would have the 4th pick in the draft. This has been their goal all season, and they won’t stop trying to be the worst.

The Pirates 2023

It’s not too early to look at the 2023 Pirate season, since the Pirates never wanted to win in 2022, anyway. I, for one, am very optimistic for the 2023 season, despite so many naysayers out there. However, there are certain players who should not be on the 2023 Pirates. Many people talk or write that they should be on the team. There is talk about offering these players multi-year contracts. I think a lot of this is due to the fact that there are people that still take the Pirate broadcast booth seriously. I do not understand that people don’t realize that the booth is nothing more than a shill for the owner. Let’s look at some players who hopefully won’t be on the team next year. If they are, then all bets are off for the 2023 season.

Kevin Newman is hitting a little better than he was in 2020 and 2021, but not enough to think that he should be on the team next year. The way to look at this is, if he is playing 2b then Castro and Mercano are not. In 2019 Newman had a fantastic season. He had a slash line of 308/353/446 and an OPS+ of 110. To think that he would do this every year may have been stretching it, but you had to think he would be at least an average major league hitter. He has not even come close. The next 2 years his OPS+ was around 55 and he “slugged’ .293. This year he has been injured and has appeared in 44 out of 115 games. His OPS+ this year is 90 which is still 10% below the league average. In my view, his fielding has always been a little overrated. After all, you won’t be charged with an error, if you can’t get to the ball and his range has always been below average. He will turn 30 next year and he should not take up a roster spot next year.

Ben Gamel is another player whose name is bandied about when talking about next year. Some say the Pirates should give him a two-year deal or so. Let’s hope not. He has played 190 games for the Pirates and has a WAR of .5. A WAR of 2 for 162 games is considered a starter. WAR is a volume stat and Gamel has played in 28 more games than a season and is 1.5 below that. Why would you want this player? His offense is right around league average, which is not bad, but his defensive WAR puts him on the first bus out of town after the season. The Pirates have a lot of young outfielders that need to keep the process going and Mr. Gamel is just hindering their progress.

Right now, there are only 3 starting pitchers that should be in the rotation next year. J. T. Brubaker should be the no.5 man in the rotation. Mitch Keller will be a good solid mid rotation guy. When people start calling him an ace, my acid reflux really kicks up. Roansy Contreras should be the 1 or 2 man in the rotation. I do not see Zach Thompson or Bryse Wilson being in the rotation next year. Maybe one of them could find a home in the bullpen, much like Will Crowe has. As far as the bullpen is concerned who knows? David Bednar and Will Crow look like the only locks right now. Tyler Beede has looked good at times, but management has messed that up my making him the opener in bullpen games. They got 2 relievers in trades, Johan Oviedo from the Cardinals, who they have not used and Colin Holderman from the Mets, that they have used. They should be in the bullpen for 2023. It is wide open after that.

I feel that 2023 should be a good year if Pirate management finally lets the young talent loose. 2022 has been nothing more than a way to extend control over this group of young studs, and little to do with helping them develop. I do not look for a lot of different strategy for the rest of this season. We will continue to see a lot of Van Meter, Newman, Gamel, Godoy, Heineman, and I wish I could steal first base, Greg Allen. Hopefully all those names will be seen and heard for the last time after the 162nd game this season.

Pirates Morning Report, Not Cruzing

Final Score: Pirates 7 Giants 8

How The 2023 Pirates Did: Oneil Cruz is really struggling right now. He went 0 for 5 with 4 strikeouts, bobbled a relay throw and contributed to a pop fly that was not caught. It will be interesting how he and the Pirates handle this terrible streak. Bryan Reynolds had one of the best Pirate games of the year going 3 for 4 with a double and a home run, driving in 5 runs. Marcano, Castro, and Chavis combined for 4 hits. Jason Delay had a nice game going 2 for 2 and according to Greg Brown having a .269 batting average is hitting close to 300. The bullpen could not hold 2 leads, although giving up the 6th run was hardly their fault. Trying to get a 2nd inning out of Will Crowe proved game losing this time. This was a tough loss but did help solidify the top 5 draft pick for next year.

Key Moment of The Game: Not being able to corral a pop up with 2 out in the 7th inning allowed the Giants to tie the game at 6-6. No error was charged on the play despite what Greg Brown said. I think Greg Brown would have fit in nicely in the 1920’s when they just read a ticker tape of the game. It seems like that is what he does now. Could some independent agency take a picture of him proving he was in San Francisco.

Next Game: Tuesday, Red Sox in Pittsburgh. A much-needed day off for these beleaguered Pirates. This was a pretty sad 10 game road trip. I am still dreaming of that young infield to start the game. Let’s hope some home cooking will help the young Buccos.

Pirates Morning Report, Put The Damn Ball in Play

Final Score: Pirates 0 Giants 2

How The 2023 Pirates Did: The bullpen pitched a nice game, giving up only 2 runs on 4 hits and 5 walks, while striking out 12. Mercano, Castro and Reynolds got 4 of the 5 hits but overall, it was just another bad day for the bats. Oneil Cruz had a particular bad day with the bat, striking out twice and grounding into a double play. The Pirates struck out 10 times and have struck out the 3rd most in baseball this year, heading for second place at this pace. The Pirate hitters are pretty much pathetic. At one time this year they were hitting the long ball but now have fallen to 17th in that category. OPS+ they are 27th and they are 28th in on base percentage. Hitting is just not in their DNA right now. It is a concern moving forward but it would be nice to see a game where the 28 and 29 year old rejects do not play.

Key Moment in The Game: Any time a Pirate came to bat with a runner in scoring position, you knew they were not going to get a hit. In the last 3 games they are 1 for 24 when a runner is in scoring position.

Next Game: Late afternoon, Giants, in San Francisco. The Pirates are 2 and 7 on this road trip. The bats have been very quiet on this trip and are unlikely to perk up tomorrow. The Pirates have been shutout 3 times in the last 9 games. They have been able to salvage at least one game per series, so who knows. Let’s hope that Cruz perks up a little bit if he gets to play. After all it is Sunday crazy lineup day.

Pirates Morning Report, Gift Wrapped Win

Final Score: Pirates 3 Giants 5

How The 2023 Pirates Did: Right off the bat, Bryan Reynold had a horrible game. Misjudged a fly ball that cost the Pirates a run and was 0 for 5 with 3 strike outs. Wow! Other than that, it was a pretty good day for the 2023 team. The trio of Marcano, Cruz, and Castro, went 4 for 11 with one walk, and made some excellent defensive plays. Cruz had a particular good game with the bat, getting a home run and a triple and did not contribute to the Pirates 10 strike out performance. Chavis had a tough game at the plate and overall, the Pirates were 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position. The bullpen did an ok job but gave up a big run in the 8th after there were 2 outs.

Key Moment of The Game: The Pirates had 1st and 2nd with no one out in the top of the 8th with Rudolfo Castro coming to bat who had homer and tripled earlier. Then Shelton decided to have him bunt. Why, as I always say, only The Shadow knows. Even though it was a pretty good bunt the Giant’s pitcher made a nice play and got the lead runner at third. The was just part of a gift wrapped win that the Pirates just handed the Giants. It was one of the dumbest moves Shelton made all year and he has made a ton of them. Are the Pirates aware of any analytics? Who the hell knows?

Next Game: Tonight, Giants in San Franscico. The Pirates are making sure that a top 5 draft pick will be theirs next year. Shelton is the perfect manager if you want to lose games. The starting lineup tonight should be another gem.

Pirates Morning Report, Bullpen Implosion

Final Score: Pirates 3 Diamondbacks 9

How The 2023 Pirates Did: J. T. Brubaker pitched almost a carbon copy of the previous Mitch Keller game giving up 2 runs, on 3 hits, 2 walks, while striking out 6 and throwing 92 pitches, in just 5 innings. Not a great performance but adequate. Then the bullpen took over. Chase Dejong and Yerry De Los Santos, then gave up 7 runs on 5 hits, 3 walks, while striking out no one, in 1.1 innings. Relief pitchers are a volatile group. From one year to the next they can go from being great to being cut. Dejong and Santos have been good in the past but last night they got bombed. Both I think will contribute next year, but not if they pitch like that. It was not a good game for the 2023 position players either. Only Ke’Bryan Hayes had a decent game, collecting 2 hits and scoring a run. The other 2023 Pirates collected only 1 hit between them and stuck out 9 times. The Pirates continue to put out players that have no business being in the major leagues and hopefully they will not be on the team next year. When you are behind 9-3, is it really necessary to bat righties against left-handed pitching? Will the lefties that we have ever learn to hit left hand pitching if you limit their opportunities. The Pirates take them out when facing a left hander late in the game and then 2 days later will start them against a lefty. Maybe Shelton didn’t know what the score was.

Key Moment of The Game: When the Pirate bullpen took over the game. We did learn one thing yesterday. Dwayne Underwood Junior is very comfortable pitching when the Pirates trail by 6 runs. I am sure the Shadow put that in his little notebook.

Next Game: Tonight, Giants in San Francisco. Back to two date baseball again, as the game will start around 10pm. I would love to see the 2023 infield start one game this year. That would be Hayes, Cruz, Mercano/Castro, and Madris/Chavis. This is what Pirate fans do. They don’t hope for wins, they hope to see Major League players.

Pirates Afternoon Report, That Was a Double Play

Final Score: Pirates 6 Diamondbacks 4

How The 2023 Pirates Did: Mitch Keller has pitched better games but still only gave up 3 runs on 5 hits and walk in 5.1 innings. Tucupita Marcano had a hit, got hit with a pitch and manufactured a run on shear speed in the top of the 4th. Rudolfo Castro had 2 hits and one of them a triple and was involved in the bizarre double play that squelched the potential ninth inning rally of the Diamondbacks. I thought Castro made a good play because he had the runner so dead to rights going to third. It was bonehead Kevin Newman who did not know it was not a force out at 3rd base. He should have just thrown the ball back to Castro right away to tag him out or a least get him in a run down. The bullpen did ok but again trying to get a 2nd inning out of Will Crowe proved to be disastrous. The 2023 team did contribute to 10 of the 12 times the Pirates struck out. Hayes and Reynolds just had so so games, with each getting one hit and scoring one run total. After the big pregame build up Michael Chavis hung an 0 for 5 collar with 3 strike outs.

Key Moment of The Game: The 2 out lightening in the 6th inning gave the Pirates the cushion that they would so desperately need. There were two outs and nobody on when Castro went triple, Greg Allen got a miracle double, and Marcano singled to give the Pirates 2 runs.

Next Game: In about 2 hours, Diamondbacks in Arizona. It will be so nice to see a game start and end on the same date. I just checked the starting lineup and Van Meter is back. This is so depressing that I just can’t type anymore. I was so hoping to see the 2023 infield. Good-bye.

Pirates Noon Report, Let’s Take a Beating

Final Score: Pirates 4 Diamondbacks 6

Why The Pirates Lost: Dwayne Underwood Junior, who I said I would never write out his name again, was allowed to stay in the game in the bottom of 7th and take a nice pounding. In 1/3 of an inning, he gave up 4 runs, 5 hits, and walked 1 for good measure. Rumor has it that Shelton had to go take a dump between innings, and that was why the bullpen was not up sooner. No more Southwest cuisine for you Shadow. Hopefully we won’t have to go through DUJ pitching next year. I spelled out his name because that performance needed full disclosure. You’re not going to win many games when your 1st two batters and your last 2 batters go 0 for 15. Michael Chavis had a big game in a losing cause with 2 home runs and 3 RBI’s. It could have been a winning cause if anyone would have cared enough to take DUJ out of the game after the 2nd hit.

Key Moment of The Game: When Shelton fell asleep at the wheel, again. A top 5 draft choice looks like a lock now.

Next Game: Tonight, Diamondbacks, in Arizona. The Pirates have 52 games left in the season. Since it is obvious that the Pirate management team is continuing to try to lose games, by starting horrible players and not making any in game moves to win games, the report will take a slightly different format. Instead of discussing why the Pirates loss, that can simply be answered by saying because they want to, there will be a new segment, how the 2023 Pirates played. These are the players that are going to lead the Pirates to the promised land next season. This will end any mention of about one third to half the team. From this point on I will only write about players that are going to have an impact on the 2023 season.

Pirates Morning Report, Silence of The Bats

Final Score: Pirates 0 Diamondbacks 3

Why The Pirates Lost: The bats were very quiet again, in fact they barely made a sound. The Pirates struck out 11 times, managed only 3 singles, and it was a clinic on how to make soft contact. The “bullpen game” fared better giving up only 3 runs but it was not enough. The only good news of the day was that Oneil Cruz did not strike out last night. It’s a shame when you bring in 2 pinch hitters to the plate and neither one of them are hitting over .185, why bother. Of course, they both struck out. A basic, lack luster game for the Pirates. Ke’Bryan Hayes got a scheduled rest day to help his tired old body. Seemed like the entire team took the night off, so they should be ready tonight. The Pirates made some hesitations on some throws that possibly could have kept the Diamondbacks off the board. In the end, I don’t think the Pirates would have scored a run last night, even with the extra inning rule.

Key Moment of The Game: With score 1-0 Diamondbacks, Bryan Reynolds drew a one out walk, in the top of the 7th. Ben Gamel hit a blooper out to center that dropped in and was deflected by centerfielder Alek Thomas. Reynolds had a difficult read but once the ball was dropped, he headed for third. There was hesitation, but that was before the catch. The ball was picked up by Dalton Varsho, who made a perfect throw to nail Reynolds at third. Despite what the Pirate broadcast booth said, this was more of a great throw by Varsho, than a base running gaffe by Reynolds. The Pirates make enough blunders, but this was not one of them.

The Next Game: Tonight, Diamondbacks in Arizona. The good news is that the Diamondbacks just about have as much trouble scoring runs as the Pirates. Hopefully we will show a little more life than last night. A well-rested Hayes should have at least 4 hits tonight with 2 Home Runs.

Pirates Morning Report, Done In By The Baltimore Chop.

Final Score: Pirates 8 Orioles 1

Why The Pirates Won: Things did not look all that good for the Pirates in the early going. The first 13 Pirate batters made outs and the Orioles only run came on what could only be described as a cheap home run. Then with 1 out in the top of the fifth Michael Chavis hit a big Baltimore Chop that the Oriole 3rd basemen had to field over his shoulder and by the time he threw, Chavis had beat it out for the Pirates’s first hit and base runner. From that point on the Pirates blooped, seeing eye ground hit, and soft line drived their way to 2 runs. A wild pitch and a force out gave the Pirates another run and a 3-1 lead. The Pirates continued to add on with 1 in the 6th and 4 more in the 7th to seal the win. The Pirates made the most of 9 hits and 3 walks to score 8 runs. Overall, a very nice win for the Pirates to avoid the sweep.

Key Moment of The Game: It was not so much a key moment, but it was the overall ability of the Pirates to extend the lead and turn this into a rare easy victory. Bryse Wilson pitched well for the 5 innings plus, but I thought it was an unnecessary hook for Wilson after he gave up the lead off hit in the 6th. He had thrown only thrown 69 pitches and was still looking very good. However, The Shadow wants to wear out those new members of the bullpen, just as fast as he did with the first half relievers. After all, fair is fair.

Next Game: Late night, Diamondbacks, in Arizona. We will see if this game gives the Pirates any momentum heading into Arizona. It would be nice to see a lineup that does not have a player who is approaching 30 and stinks. I really don’t care if they have a pretty good game or not. This is not helping the players that are going to form the winning core for this team by sitting on the bench. The only way you make progress in baseball is to play. Hopefully management will see the light, but I doubt it.

%d bloggers like this: