Buc Notes: February 26, 2015

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Reading the daily beat coverage of the team this time of year is a lot like going to a Tony Robbins motivational event. Everyone is in a good mood,  slapping each other’s back, cheering and dishing out affirmation.  Set-up man Tony Watson “didn’t want the job” but the Pirates knew better.  Michael Morse is taking some grounders at third base just in case the other 5 guys that can play that base all get injured.  Cole Figueroa was spotted wearing a black jersey – other black jersey wearers, according to Adam Berry “looked like they were mostly bound for PNC Park.”  And, of course, Ryan Vogelsong was looking for “atonement” according to Bill Brink – maybe not the religious type, but probably the type to make amends for pitching like crap in Pittsburgh before.  Rob Biertempfel probed the Gerrit Cole-Chris Stewart duet.  Stewart, has caught 29 of Cole’s 55 starts over the last two seasons and is becoming something like his private catcher. Having landed a multi-year deal with the Bucs, Stewart now uses the word “cherish” in the same sentence with the words Pittsburgh and baseball.

Matt Gajtka at DKPittsburghSports.com had a long piece on Eric O’Flaherty that was a good read.  The Pirates think they can help him recover his once “sneaky” delivery. He’s got some competition for that one coveted bullpen spot that everyone is talking about.  It comes in the form of John Holdzkom, Rob Scahill, Kyle Lobstein and maybe even Cory Luebke.

Former RumBunter Editor and now leader of PiratesBreakdown.com, Jason Rollison penned a great article on how the Pirates beat up relief pitching in 2015. The Pirate hitters ranked 1st in the NL for Hits, RBI, average and OBP when facing a reliever for the first time. It’s exactly the kind of esoteric, yet pleasing, stat that cold days in February produce.

Travis Sawchik reminded us all that February is a great month to read Baseball Prospectus.  Or just BP for short.  The 2016 BP is out and it is a lot of fun. Some of the player bios are laugh out loud funny and always insightful. The team essays are a great way to try and get up to speed on where each and every club is at before the live baseball action begins. Shameless plug alert: Sawchik did contribute to this year’s BP. He penned the Pirates team essay.

More from Rum Bunter

BP is certainly a more interesting book than Baseball America: 2016 Almanac.  I bought both at Barnes & Noble. After reading the Almanac’s stat heavy, transaction heavy micro-essay on the Arizona Diamondbacks – I decided that I’d just be reading the BP instead. In the BP version of the Diamondback’s essay, it was positively delightful to read that club referred to as baseball’s middle class: they are never in the top in terms of attendance and they are never in the bottom, their stadium is the 15th oldest out of the current 30 stadiums, and they play in the 13th largest market. They also never dated the prom queen, like the Pirates, as both are among the few remaining clubs to have never signed a nine figure/$100 million dollar deal.

BP may also be the biggest book I’ve ever purchased. It’s a monster 600 page tome, which is really more like 1200 pages because of its double column layout. As a baseball aficionado, I tend to like the old school version of baseball stats – simple, easy stuff to understand all of the newspaper box score variety.  BP does some more advanced stuff like Wins above Replacement (WARP), and what they call True Average (TAv) and of course, they use the handy Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm or (PECOTA) to project out future performance and provide comparative analytics. All three of these data points are interesting, but they still rarely creep into the lexicon of all but the most die hard fans and fantasy managers.