Chicken Wire, Duct Tape And Spit Working For the Pirates Now, But Not Effective For Long-Term


You can’t always count on Clint Hurdle to manage a game perfectly, sometimes he’ll leave a pitcher in too long, often times he’ll kill a rally by giving away outs by bunting, and sometimes he can just be downright frustrating with his love affair with “veteran presence” as a defining attribute in a player that he wants. One thing you can always count on from Hurdle is a lot of good quotes, “Hurdle-isms” as it were. One of Hurdle’s phrases for when the Pirates win a game, a series, or have a win streak that happens in a sloppy fashion is “chicken wire, duct tape and spit” and that’s the way the Pirates are winning right now, it seems. Look, it’s great to be able to complain about the way the Pirates are winning right now, since usually we’re busy complaining about losing, but right now it seems like the way things are going, things have to be stabilized or else the Pirates will not be able to “finish” this season.

Apr 22, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle in the dugout prior to playing the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies defeated the Pirates 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Primary concerns would include things like the over-abundance of innings pitched by the bullpen, the fact that the starting rotation has two and a half guys that we can be confident in when they get a start (AJ, Wandy, good J-Mac), and the concern that Andrew McCutchen is looking notably average over the first month of the season (.234/.294/.416 triple slash at this point). All of these things leave me with fear for the Pirates. I’m hoping that the Pirates can answer these concerns. The expectation is that Cole will be up to fill a rotation spot this season, which would answer one issue, but the bullpen is still going to be vastly overworked much of the season, on account of the short starts by guys like Sanchez and Locke (Locke did have a good start the other night, with six scoreless and a win), unless they get things together a bit more.

April 7, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Jeff Locke (49) pitches in the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew McCutchen’s relative struggles so far (by what I’ve watched, this is more of a by the eye analysis than by numbers, so feel free to chime in with thoughts on this) seem to be coming from a combination of two things: Firstly, McCutchen seems to be less aggressive at the plate. His plate discipline has always been very tight, but the reason Cutch played like he did last year was primarily because he got aggressive, and started hitting everything. Secondly, he seems a bit pull happy to me right now. In my memory, I see lots of hits from McCutchen down the 3rd base line, but I can’t remember more than one opposite field hit off the top of my head (a broken bat hit no less), which is a little bit disconcerting.

April 21, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen (22) prepares to bat in the on-deck circle against the Atlanta Braves during the first inning at PNC Park. The Pittsburgh Pirates won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

These things could all be a product of the exceedingly difficult schedule that the Pirates are playing in this first month. It could also just be that it’s the first month of the season. It could be that I’m just complaining about things that I don’t need to complain about, but these are the things that I see as disconcerting for the Pirates right now. Are there any things that should be added to the list? Are any of the things I’m complaining about just wrong? Sound off in the comments.