In another inept display, the Pirates got stomped by Atlanta’s B team, 11-3. They’re now 4-10-2 on the spring.
Mitch Keller had a decent start, allowing two runs over four innings, on three hits and a walk, with four strikeouts. His first two innings were difficult, as he got two strikes on nearly every hitter but struggled to put them away. He then breezed through the next two innings. With all the talk of greater velocity and new pitches, the thing that struck me the most about Keller’s emergence last year was a newfound ability to battle through rough spells and take charge of a game. Hopefully this was more of the same.
After a scoreless inning by Wil Crowe, Angel Perdomo and Yohan Ramirez blew up the game. Perdomo faced four hitters, retiring two. Ramirez then got blasted, allowing both of Perdomo’s runners to score and three of his own. He retired only one of the five hitters he faced. The Pirates shouldn’t be facing a very difficult decision with either of these two.
Colin Selby and Yerry De Los Santos each threw a scoreless inning. Tyler Samaniego gave up four in the ninth while retiring only one batter. Cam Junker got the last two outs.
The offense was the usual futility — four hits, no walks, eleven whiffs. Bryan Reynolds hit his second home run to account for one run, Jack Suwinski his first to account for the other two.
The job competitions were anything but. Tucupita Marcano, Ji-Hwan Bae, Canaan Smith-Njigba, Miguel Andujar, Connor Joe, Rodolfo Castro, Drew Maggi, Cal Mitchell, Tyler Heineman, Jared Triolo and Travis Swaggerty combined to go 0-for-15 with seven strikeouts.
It’s not like the Pirates were facing the Braves’ frontline pitching, either. After their starter, the Braves used pretty much the same sort of guys the Pirates did, mainly minor league veterans and older guys trying to hang on, including the ageless Jesse Chavez.
Yes, it’s spring training . . . except no, it’s not just spring training. It’s identical to what Ben Cherington has produced throughout his tenure. In his first three years, the Pirates ranked 30th (by a lot) in runs, 28th in BA, 29th in OBP, 30th in SLG, 30th in HRs, 30th in wRC+, and 30th in fWAR. So far this spring, it’s déja vu all other again.
Having followed the Pirates fanatically since 1965, Wilbur Miller is one of the fast-dwindling number of fans who’ve actually seen good Pirate teams. He’s even seen Hall-of-Fame Pirates who didn’t get traded mid-career, if you can imagine such a thing. His first in-person game was a 5-4, 11-inning win at Forbes Field over Milwaukee (no, not that one). He’s been writing about the Pirates at various locations online for over 20 years. It has its frustrations, but it’s certainly more cathartic than writing legal stuff. Wilbur is retired and now lives in Bradenton with his wife and three temperamental cats.
At least the runs given up by the pen were by B-Team relivers. None of those guys will be anywhere near the Pirates pen.
The kid pitching for Atlanta I believe is their top prospect or at least their top pitching prospect.
Nice seeing Reynolds tuning in his swing.
I just looked it up. Last year a league average hitter was: .243/.312/.395 totaling a .707 OPS
As recently as 2020 it was: .245/.322/.418 for a .740 OPS
Most of the last 30 years the average OPS was > .740.
Hope the new rules will allow the hitters to get some advantages back
The clock gives pitchers a greater advantage over hitters, so we’re heading below .700 OPS average this season. Even with LH hitters accruing a few more hits without the shift.
I wonder what effect, if any, the pitch clock will have on how deep in games starters will tend to go. When I compare it to other forms of exercise, the greater intensity of their work (more pitches in a shorter time, slightly shorter breaks between their innings) makes me think that they’ll average slightly fewer batters faced. OTOH, getting back to the dugout sooner, especially on hot summer days/nights, might prolong their outings. Could be no net effect, but something I’m curious about.
I am curious about arm injuries, with less time between each pitch, less recuperation time of the arm, elbow, shoulder. MLB has stated they saw no more injuries in Milb with the clock, but the MLB has harder throwers, more spin on their curves/sliders which could lead to quicker fatigue. We’ll know a lot more by October.
A little soon to assume that the clock gives pitchers the advantage, isn’t it? Probably best to get into more than two weeks into spring training games to make that kind of assessment.
Tbh, I can’t bring myself to care. The improvement it’s brought in the spectating experience is so huge that the players can just damn well adapt. ST training games often used to go 3 1/2 hours or even more. This year I don’t remember any going even 2 1/2.
Average game time is down 17%.
Good lord, not 17 minutes, 17%?
I’d say that makes up for 17% of the harm Manfred has done to baseball. Which is a s***load.
That is not my assumption, it’s every announcer, retired pitcher, current pitcher, retired hitter, current hitters, coaches….everyone who I’ve seen interviewed about the clock. I’m struggling to remember even one who said the hitter has the advantage.
Not sure the stats even shown it in spring training.
This was a 3-2 game with Pirates winning until Shelton pulled Perdomo with 2 outs and 2 on in the 6th having only thrown 11 pitches.
Our starters are very capable of keeping us in games and the backend of the bullpen with Bednar & Holderman could size up quite nicely.
It’s getting the right mix & match in the 6th & 7th of close games that will be a huge difference maker this season — and Shelton truly seems to be the Anti-Midas with bullpen personnel & decisonmaking. (Although bringing in Yohan in that spot was defensible)
I’d love for them to make final bullpen roster decisions not on who is out of options, not on Duane Underwood making $1.02 or whatever , not on a guy having a year or two experience of being serviceable , but on actually bringing the best 7/8 guys North to help this team win close games.
Excellent point regarding Perdomo. He threw well and got the 1st batter to GO, then a broken bat single, an undeserved walk, and had just gotten a foul popout on one pitch to a RH hitter for the 2nd out. All of the contact was weak, and if you start the inning you have to think you are going to throw more than 11 pitches.
Blake Sabol this Spring is 9 for 17 with 3 HR’s. His OBP is .636 with a 1.871 OPS. He even has a SB. Kapler said he will begin to get outfield appearances as making their roster is now likely.
(Vilade, Andujar, and Connor Joe also have 9 hits: combined -in 50 abs)
I mentioned his slash the other day. At the beginning of ST I thought that the Giants would approach the Pirates for a possible trade so that they could keep Sabol without having to adhere to the Rule 5 requirement that he stays at the MLB level. He has done much better than expected offensively, but will still need work to raise himself to MLB levels defensively.
He did well with the Pirates, but would not be getting the reps like he is with the Giants – not as a Catcher or as an OF. Happy for him.
The ineptitude of this FO is rapidly approaching Littlefield territory.
So Blake Sabol drove you over the edge into comparing BC to Littlefield, Wilbur? Really?
No, BC was close to that territory well before this.
I don’t think he’s good either, but I find it difficult to find anyone as bad as DL.
I’ve always seen DL as the gold standard of horrible GMing. But BC’s track record is truly staggering and just can’t be explained by rebuilding.
You have no idea what Sabol is yet. Your negativity is toxic. I no longer will read your articles and your comments make this site worse by the day. Tim, the novelty of this guy is wearing thin.
Wilbur and I rarely get along but this guy is an institution in Pirate talk over the last 15 years.
He ain’t goin anywhere bud, so if there’s not enough room for the two of you then get to steppin’.
“Tim, the novelty of this guy is wearing thin”.
What the hell is that?
I appreciate Wilbur’s objectivity and he’s got a great sense of humor.
So many journalists are dependent on the “ecosystem” of MLB/Pirates for breaking news, player access, tips, exclusives etc. that I find Wilbur’s independence & skepticism refreshing
Just glad that my early and diehard years were before I knew what an FO was. Cam Bonifay is the first I remember. Probably because my name is Camillo. Glad the Pens had Craig Patrick in those years.
Sad to watch. And Shelton is pitiful also. These prospects and the people of Pittsburgh deserve better.
It’s why they truly can’t get the benefit of the doubt giving up Garcia and Davito for seemingly replacement-level returns. The confidence in their decisonmaking has yet to be established.
I’m still waiting for evidence that they’re good at anything. There really isn’t any.
So far, I’d rate him well above average in the work of getting future value in trades, and in the work with the Amateur Drafts/signing IFA’s. I’d rate him a stone cold Loser in designating someone to lead the team!
Trades – David Bednar is our Closer, Jack Suwinski is our RF/CF, Wil Crowe and Colin Holderman are in the BP, Roansy Contreras and Johan Oviedo will be in our Rotation, and Endy Rodriguez will be our Catcher in a few months. RP Kyle Nicolas and Utility player Tucupita Marcano could be up very soon in 2023.
The Draft and IFA’s have provided a loaded menu of young Pitchers and Position Players that stretches from the FCL to AAA.
Loser – Derek Shelton is not capable. We need a guy who reflects the qualities we see in Craig Counsell, Kevin Cash and others. My opinion is that we already have that guy in Don Kelly. His baseball playing career reflects hard work and a positive attitude. Those attributes could change the outlook of this team in a very short period of time.
I think there’s a wide chasm between the “everything is awful” view one writer adheres to and your picture here, which is overly optimistic. BC has done fairly well on some trades even if he fell into some luck with the deals that look good (adding Endy to the Musgrove deal). Lucky deals are still good. As you said he got Bednar and Ro. He signed Hayes long-term, which may look like a bargain if Hayes’ bat rebounds.
What I take issue with is the “loaded menu” term; the Bucs have a good system, not great. It’s certainly short on potential stars (like Baltimore and Arizona have). BC has also embraced the tank, somewhat needlessly, refusing to rebuild any other way. I’m not really sure razing most of the rest of the fanbase is a wise move, especially when other smaller markets like Tampa, Cleveland, and Milwaukee have built more sustainable models with skinny rebuilds that don’t gut the roster.
Ultimately, he’ll be judged on his development of prospects. If his system does better at developing prospects into productive MLB players than Huntington did, the team will likely be better and he’ll prove to be a better GM. We don’t really know that important part of the story yet. Right now it’s been more bad/mediocre than good, so I’d give BC a C/C-.
Like a Jeopardy champion, they are the fastest at Waiver wire and DFA dives. Give em some credit.
I liked what I saw from Ramirez last season and thought he had a very good chance to contribute as part of a decent pen this year. But as rough as his spring has been, I now don’t see him as part of the Opening Day roster. Maybe that opens up a spot for Bolton or Mlod*, or just makes it easier to justify keeping Hernandez.
*As good as Mlod has looked, I’d like to see him starting games in Indy.
feel same, I’ve lobbied hard for Ramirez, can’t find reasons to do so now.
Probably looking at 90-95 losses. Pretty much the same team as the one that lost 100 last year. Management just hoping the same cast of characters plays better.
This is what every single young rebuilding team in the history of sports has done. When your “cast” is young, you absolutely expect them to get better, that’s the whole point.
Spring training stats and record may not matter but at least we are seeing exactly what we are getting coming into the fourth year of this management team. No surprises or reasons for false hope!
Sometimes people slump at the same time, its march 13th. Chill, I’d prefer them to suck now and improve later
There’s reason for concern. There are a couple jobs open for competition, and absolutely no one is responding and making a case for the 25th/26th spot.
I’d say the cause for concern is less that they’re all slumping at the same time (lol) and less that nobody is stepping up (just as easily a small sample mirage) but that all of them stinking still remains a very, very real possibility.
If not most likely.
This was a starting lineup except for Hayes, bang out 4 hits and zero walks and 11 k’s. Man it’s starting you look like run production and bullpen could be an issue again this year.
So when do our SPS start going 4-5 innings?
Keller just went 4. Brubaker worked into the 4th (well, two batters). Oviedo, Hill and Velazquez were at 3 the last go-around, so they’ll be at 4 this go-around (well, maybe Oviedo).
Worth noting there’s 2 weeks left of ST games and Opening Day is 18 days away, so almost everyone’s getting 3 more turns.
Reading Mackey’s write up, you would’ve thought they had won. I come here for the unvarnished WTM-truth!
I’d settle for everyone choosing to go back to the days where they didn’t cover spring training like the middle of a damn pennant race.
I remember listening to ST games as a kid thinking the DID mean something!
Sanmiego looked good on his first hitter
Was hoping he’d go on a streak
He did. Just not the kind we were hoping for.