Posts Tagged ‘Andrew McCutchen’

Pirates 6, Brewers 5: Bucs Take 2 Of 3 In A Fashion So Unorthodox, It Burnt Down Three Orthodox Churches

April 28, 2010

You know it’s an exciting game when the Fangraphs Win Probability Graph looks like the electric gremlin from Gremlins 2

Here’s the Fangraph of how topical that Gremlins 2 reference was:

There was a lot of crazy crap in this game and this series — Andy LaRoche’s sudden explosion, D.J. Carrasco’s rubber-armed dominance, Andrew McCutchen continuing to stave off his sophomore slump, Ryan Doumit going from doing nothing to doing everything, and the Pirates still having a serviceable record despite by far the worst run differential in the majors — I could go on, but I’ll save my all-out 2010 Bucco analysis for another day (when the NHL Playoffs aren’t in full swing).

But perhaps no single aspect of today’s game was stranger than this sequence, during which, according to ESPN Gameday, Jim Edmonds walked, stole second, then tried to score on a double, got thrown out at home, then advanced to third:

That’s how crazy this series was.


Jesus Christ, Baseball Writers, Am I Really Gonna Have To Defend The Pirates Again?

September 17, 2009

The Pirates are terrible. They’re playing abysmal baseball, their offense is deplorable, their bullpen is a wreck, and watching them for any extended length of time — as I still bring myself to do quite often, just as I kept eagerly watching Season 14 Simpsons episodes — is nothing short of excruciating. The last thing I am going to begin to argue is that the Pirates are not currently terrible. Deal? Deal.

With that out of the way, brace yourself for some more ham-fisted, unintelligible, vague Pirate-bashing gibberish from one Murray Chass, writer of numerous nonsensical articles including most recently this jaw-dropping homage to whaaaa?? about the Red Sox.

In honor of yesterday’s Fire Joe Morgan reunion over at Deadspin, let’s take an FJM-style peek into Chass’ new column:


A peripherally-Pgh-knowledgeable sportswriter is upset about the way the Pirates do things! Feel like we’ve been down this road before

As the season dwindles down to a precious few weeks, attention is focused on remaining races – not that there are any – and the playoffs ahead. But pause for a moment in your excited anticipation and think of how Pittsburgh Pirates fans approach the post-season.

They may actually look forward to it eagerly because once they get beyond Oct. 4, the Pirates can’t lose any more games this year.

True! Meanwhile, fans of the Astros and Orioles will be all like “Awwww man, the season’s over?? I wish this battle for 75 victories could last forever!”

They probably can’t make any more trades either because they have already traded everybody of value.

On second thought they have Andrew McCutchen on their roster, and if they traded Nyjer Morgan they can trade Andrew McCutchen.

Tires screeching .wav! Did you just compare trading Nyjer Morgan to trading Andrew McCutchen?

Nyjer Morgan: 29 years old, hitting .307 / .369 / .388, 3 HR in unexpectedly-sustained career year.

Andrew McCutchen: 22 years old, hitting .272 / .347 / .454, 11 HR in first major-league season.

Morgan has had a more amazing year offensively and defensively than even the most optimistic Pirate fan could’ve expected. He is also 29 years old and dependent upon his speed and batting average for his offensive value; considering most players tend to decline after their age 27-30 seasons, and that slap hitters who rely on batting averages tend to fluctuate wildly from year to year, it is sheer lunacy to expect Morgan to ever improve upon these numbers, and almost as unlikely for him to ever repeat them for a full season.

McCutchen, meanwhile, is a former first round pick who, at age 22, is outslugging career-year Morgan by 60 points, and appears poised to quickly ascend to the elite ranks of National League outfielders.

You’re talking about trading apples and oranges, if the oranges were 7 years younger than the apples and already a more dynamic offensive player but the apples smile a lot and hit for average so sportswriters love them cause they’re gutty throwback tablesetters. A lobotomized emu could see the difference between trading Nyjer Morgan and Andrew McCutchen.



Just When You Thought The Pirates Columns Couldn’t Get Worse, Jay Mariotti Joins The Fray

August 3, 2009

I thought no pandering Pirates piece would ever top the uninformed vague-anger that was last week’s P-G editorial, but once again, I have underestimated Fanhouse’s Jay Mariotti. The following column is absolutely unbelievable, in every possible sense of the word (except any connotations of smartness).

Selig Must Investigate ‘Quittsburgh’ Mess

Pace yourself, people, it’s gonna be a long one.

The other night in Pittsburgh, where the city really is named after William Pitt and not its pits-of-the-world baseball franchise…

Ohhhh…snap? I think?

…a phenom named Andrew McCutchen hit three home runs… It’s the sort of drop-dead brilliance envisioned when they summoned the dreadlocked stud from the minors in June.

“Summoned the dreadlocked stud” makes it sound like Neal Huntington was some sort of wizard conjuring up a mythical beast from another dimension. Maybe a slightly dramatic way of saying “Called up the prospect…”

Yet rather than quiver in anticipation, fans of this ballclub — assuming any are left — sit paralyzed in fear.

Oh crap – we do?

Because when it comes time to reward McCutchen with a contract commensurate to his abilities and numbers, or when it’s clear the Pirates still can’t win even with his everyday presence, won’t management coldly turn around and trade him away? Just as the Pirates did with Morgan, Jason Bay, Nate McLouth, Jack Wilson, Freddy Sanchez, Adam LaRoche, Ian Snell, Xavier Nady, Jose Bautista, Ronny Paulino, John Grabow and, dating back to earlier this decade, the likes of Aramis Ramirez, Jason Schmidt and Brian Giles?

Wowowowow, we’re off to a terrifically insane start. Let’s try to digest this paragraph of random names.

I was unaware that the trades of Nyjer Morgan, Ian Snell, Jose Bautista, and Ronny Paulino were all salary dumps. I mean, the Pirates were crazy to let building blocks like Jose Bautista slip away, but I’m pretty sure most of those dudes were pretty crappy.

Great point about Brian Giles, though — as soon as he got good, the Pirates’ cheap, short-sighted management had the audacity to sign him to a 5-year, $45 million extension. Wait, what? Ok, fine, so they signed Giles, but then they COLDLY TRADED HIM AWAY!!! …For Jason Bay and Oliver Perez. And Bay immediately began outperforming Giles, who was clearly past his prime. NOTE TO MARIOTTI: Leave all of this out of a column ripping on Pirates management, because it is a complete counterexample to the point you are trying to make.

Aramis Ramirez was a straight-up salary dump, no one’s arguing that. And this detail affects Neal Huntington…how, exactly? Also, note that Mariotti shamelessly engages in my new favorite Pirate-column cop-out: Lumping the Xavier Nady trade in there with all the other moves, even though he’s played seven games this year and is a free agent in two months, and thus is a stellar example of the Pirates’ current strategy working.

No reason to get too angry yet, plenty more insanity yet to come…


Question: Will Lastings Milledge Turn Fellow Black Man Andrew McCutchen Into A Thug?

July 9, 2009

Oh man, this may be my favorite ridiculous Post-Gazette Q&A submission ever. A concerned Bucco fan writes into Bob Smizik’s Blog, asking:

One concern I do have that I have not seen addressed is the potential negative influence Milledge will be on Andrew McCutchen.  I think it is beyond dispute that Milledge is a bad character. He has established this already. The best anyone can seem to say in his defense is he is “immature.”  That may be an excuse at 18 or 19, but it rings hollow at 24. Have the Pirates considered what impact his presence may have on McCutchen?  I know McCutchen seems like a solid young man, but Milledge makes me nervous.

– Jeff “Not Racist At All” Cohen [Ed Note: I’m guessing on the nickname]


McCutchen will walk into a locker room one day and Milledge will be sitting there, smoking a bowl, bein’ all bad charactery, and McCutchen will be like “oop, sorry, I didn’t realize you were busy!” and Milledge will be like, “Yo man, you wanna try some of this stuff? It’ll make you FLY. All the cool kids are doin’ it.”

And McCutchen will be like “I don’t know, I’ve heard a lot of things about drugs and I’m just so confused, plus I have to go study my fielding assignments…” and Milledge will be like “Aw, come on, we’re both black guys with dreads who are around the same age and thus influence one another — why don’t you stop being nice and hustling and turn all evil like me?”

And McCutchen will take the weed from his hand in slo-motion, after school special style, take one hit, and his head will start swirling and a montage of all his friends and family laughing at him in creepy deep-voiced slo-mo will happen and then he’ll shout “NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!” then the next thing he knows he’ll be high-fiving fans in the outfield and performing on a vulgar rap cd and not running out ground balls like David Eckstein who is small and white and just hustles so hard and doesn’t have dreads at all and we love him!!!!!!

Smizik basically answers that it’s highly unlikely. I prefer my answer.

Pirates Continue To Dismantle Legendary ’08 Team, Trade Nate McLouth To Braves

June 3, 2009

The Pirates traded Nate McLouth to the Braves today for three players – AAA starting pitcher Charlie Morton, who may or may not be a Matlock character, AA outfielder Gorkys Hernandez, who is not to be confused with these dudes, and single-A lefty starter Jeff Locke, who should provide endless easy headlines should he ever make his way to the majors and pitch effectively.

My initial reaction to the deal: Why the hell not? The Pirates aren’t going anywhere this year, and the deal gives them three prospects of various ages and skill sets from a deep minor league system, and opens up a spot for Andrew McCutchen in center on the major league club; obviously McCutchen was gonna squeeze in there eventually anyway, but by making the deal now, the Pirates can play him in center field without having to move McLouth out of center and possibly dent his perceived trade value.

Bob Smizik interprets the deal as a sign the Pirates are giving up on 2009, but 1) If they are, who gives a crap, so we might not finish above the Astros, and 2) It’s not like they’re fire sale-ing the ’97 Marlins here, the Pirates are a middling major league ballclub trading a very good major league outfielder and replacing him with their highest-ceiling prospect (save Pedro Alvarez); they roll the dice on three prospects in exchange for losing a left-handed bat and some power in the short term, and they likely even improve defensively. So the team finishes with 70 wins instead of 74 – who cares? Are there even any knee-jerk casual fans left to alienate after the Bay trade?

On further examination, though, this deal serves as another reminder of just how highly baseball teams value prospects nowadays, even in comparison to just a half-decade ago. The days of Steve Phillips dealing Scott Kazmir in the midst of a pennant run are long gone; a combination of economic factors (particularly with the unstable economy facing MLB this season) and a virtual eradication of incompetent GMs has made trading for top prospects essentially impossible. Teams require a Miguel Cabrera or a Josh Beckett — a monstertalent who’s still young and under control for years — to even consider parting with a top prospect these days. The Pirates learned this firsthand a year ago when the Rays wouldn’t budge on offering Wade Davis, one of their many top-notch prospects, to land Jason Bay — a far superior hitter to McLouth, though admittedly, only under control for another year and a half — in the midst of their first-ever pennant race.

Instead, teams like the Pirates are forced to trade for quantity and depth, accept a level of risk (think Jose Tabata and injured Bryan Morris), and hope to ultimately hit on enough prospects to win out in the long-term. Perhaps it’s a fallacious argument on my part to assume that the lack of a better return for McLouth means that they probably couldn’t have gotten much more (or that the Pirates believe extra-highly enough in these three guys to pull the trigger on a deal when they didn’t have to), but that’s what I’m inclined to believe. And for fans whining about not getting one of the Braves’ heralded top two prospects, just stop — even a drooling baby in a Braves blanket wouldn’t have traded Tommy Hanson for 27-year-old Nate McLouth.

McLouth is hitting .256 / .349 / .470 this year, which is right in line with his .276 / .356 / .497 from his career year (and first full season) in ’08, and at 27, is highly unlikely to suddenly improve upon those numbers. He also slugged 30 points higher at home with the short PNC right field last year than on the road, and is slugging 116 points higher at home in ’09 (albiet in just 195 PA), plus, meaningless Gold Glove aside, most defensive metrics suggest he doesn’t belong in center field — both of these facts suggest he may not be quite as valuable overall as he has appeared to be for the Pirates the past season and a half. His trade value will almost certainly never be higher than it is right now, and with McCutchen tearing up AAA and the Braves’ outfield in shambles, June 3rd was as good a time as any to make the move.

Bottom line, Neal Huntington inherited a player who never received more than 330 at-bats under Dave Littlefield and parlayed him into two of the top seven prospects in a rich Braves organization, with another depth starting pitcher thrown in. In the current MLB climate of unparalelled organizational prospect-hoarding, I’ll call this a good deal for the Pirates.

And I imagine every Pirate season ticket holder will feel the same way.