Monday, April 23, 2007

7-10... so what?

The Pirates are 7-10 after 17 games. That is unequivocally mediocre. It's actually not bad, though it certainly is not good. I can't believe I'm writing this, but there are reasons to believe this team can be better than this. Of course there are also reasons to believe they can be worse. Let's break this down.

Reasons to have hope
Adam LaRoche is hitting .150/.261/.281. It is not possible that he can be this bad all year. If he hits .150/.261/.281 for the full season, I will eat my hat. You can write that down. Here are his April splits from the past three seasons: .200/.294/.453, .206/.324/.365 and .214/.254/.339. Not as bad as this year, but certainly not good. He will get better. Stop asking for Mike Gonzalez back. He's walked six batters and only struck out four in 6 and 1/3 innings.

Jason Bay is hitting .262/.360/.477. That's right on pace with every other April in his career. April is the only month he's got a career OPS under .900. He's going to start hitting like he always does.

Chris Duffy learned him some plate patience. Seriously, watch him at the plate. Maybe this is an April only thing, but he's a different hitter, and I mean that in a good way.

Ian Snell and Tom Gorzelanny play for us. This is much better than having them play for anyone else.

Reasons to despair
Sometimes I wonder if this team knows as much about baseball as your standard T-ball team. They tend to run the bases like morons, miss cutoff guys, and play awful, awful defense. Not the sign of a great team.

Snell and Gorzelanny can't keep this up... can they?

While LaRoche will certainly get better, this is his worst April by far (to this point). While he may bounce back, he may not bounce back to the level we want to see him at.

Jack Wilson looks decent at the plate, but not great. He actually looked great at the plate last April. He sucked the rest of the year. Since his career OPS is anchored at 75, I'm expecting a dropoff.

We all thought Ronnie Paulino was due for a drop-off. He looks absolutely sick at the plate right now, and he can't catch the ball to boot. Despite that, there's almost no chance Ryan Doumit will get another shot behind the plate. Paulino was actually below average at the plate last year (OPS+ of 94), it seems pretty insane to me to think he's suddenly going to regain his Bradenton form this year.

Zach Duke still appears completely unable to adjust to hitters after they adjust to him.

Jim Tracy has replaced Jose K in his heart with Wayback Wasdin. This is incredibly damaging to the team.