Who will be at the first game in 13 Ronny Cedeno days? Oh yeh... Us.

Can The Pittsburgh Pirates Obey The Clint Hurdle Commandments?

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The key to success in 2011 will be how well the Pirates offense obeys the commandments.

We have been cruisin Rangers and Rockies blogs for some insight into Clint Hurdle. All of us have heard about Hurdle’s approach, but we were curious to find something concrete that he believes in and practices.   We found this at The Newberg Report and wanted you to see it.  Now, there is absolutely nothing earth shattering about the list that Hurdle apparently had posted in the Rangers dugout. 

But what would this list mean for a Pittsburgh Pirates offense that was the worst at nearly every offensive category in 2010?  We can’t seriously say that the Pirates will ever match the offensive firepower of the 2010 Rangers, but the improvement the team showed can be directed toward the Hurdle Commandments in some manner. 

In 2009, the Rangers struckout more than any team.  They were 12th in walks, seventh in runs and OPS.  But look at the improvement with Hurdle as hitting coach, a ‘new’ Josh Hamilton and Vlad Guerrero of course helped, but still this is some consistent improvement that the Rangers displayed.

In 2010, only three teams in all of baseball struckout less than the Rangers.  They were eighth (+4 team improvement) in walks, fourth in runs (+3 team improvement) and fifth (+2) in OPS, and of course the Rangers hit for the best average in the American League. 

One could argue that any of the Pirates players will increase their performance in 2011 by following these fundamental baseball principles.  That’s an argument for another day.  But we feel one Pirates player would improve greatly by following Hurdles’ Commandments.  Ronny Cedeno.  We think he was the worst offender, the biggest sinner if you will, in 2010. 

There is no question that Cedeno is talented.  He has flashes of solid play including hitting line drives, going the other way, and showing some pop in his bat.   So where is the consistency he should be displaying?  Is it the injuries he has suffered in his career including both shoulders, hamstring, right wrist, hand and finger?  

Under Clint Hurdle, can Cedeno instantly develop patience and an increased plate awarenees that he has never displayed?  There are just so many questions surrounding Cedeno.  It’s obvious that the questions are a reason that the Bucs are Cedeno’s  third team in his short career.  Maybe everyone else gave up on him because Cedeno has shown the ability to do nearly the exact opposite of the Hurdle Commandments.

This winter  Cedeno walked just once in 138 at-bats.  Last season Cedeno earned just 23 walks in 468 at-bats.  Cedeno had 502 plate appearances in 2010, he recorded 102 fly outs, but only had two sacrifice flies.   It’s hard to believe those numbers.   But look at Cedeno’s career:  in 1855 professional plate appearances for the Cubs, Mariners, and Pirates, Ronny Cedeno has walked 85 times, has six sacrifice flies and has seen 6777 pitches (3.65 pitches per plate appearance or HALF of what Clint wants in an at-bat.) Gulp. 

A question that burns us is this.  This offseason did Hurdle look at JJ Hardy and say no thanks?  Did he want to inherit the Cedeno Project?  Well, of course there are only a few people that can answer that question and we’re certainly not one of them.     Looking at Cedeno from the outside it’s easy to see the talent, the highlight play making ability, and all of the skills, but watching him play everyday is a much more difficult viewpoint.

Nevertheless, whether Clint Hurdle  wanted the Cedeno Project or not, he’s got ‘em.  Now it’s time for Hurdle and company to heal him.  And his Pirates teammates.

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