Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Can 100 Losses Be Avoided?

by The Last Hollywood Star

Charlie Morton is one excellent example, among many, of why Pirate fans have so little faith in the team’s management.

Morton, one of three minor league players acquired from the Atlanta Braves for Nate McClouth, got shelled again last night and took the Pirates out of the game in the first inning when he gave up 4 runs to the Reds. Morton for the night: 6IP, 9H, 6ER, 4BB, 1K. For the season: 3-7 with a 5.46 ERA.

When the Pirates fall behind 4-0 in the first inning on the road, the game is over.

So weak was Morton’s performance that Manager John Russell picked up the bull pen phone to order Virgil Vasquez (2-5; 6.43) to warm up!

The most fundamental task of any pitcher is to throw strikes, something that Morton can’t do when he needs to.

Yet throughout the rash of mid-season trades, Pirate management has crowed about “adding talent”. On the field though, there’s been no sign of it.

Last night’s loss to the Reds gave the Pirates the major league’s worst road record, 18-49. Much of the game talk by the Pirate announcing crew tried to determine why the Pirates play “so well” at home but so poorly on the road.

First, the Pirates are not that good at home. The team is six games over .500 Compare that to some of the quality teams like the New York Yankees (+25), the St. Louis Cardinals (+17) or the Los Angeles Dodgers (+15).

Even some of the also-rans are significantly better at home than the Pirates: the Tampa Bay Rays (+20), the Chicago Cubs (+13) and Seattle Mariners (+8).

Simply stated, the Pirates lose on the road because the team is bad.

When the starting pitcher has an ERA over 5.00 and the clean up batter (Ryan Doumit) hits .215, the team is not going to win many games.

Last week, the Pirates inched into the heady territory of fifth place. Now, after six straight losses, they’re back in the cellar---an insurmountable 5-1/2 games behind the resurgent Reds, 8-2 in their last ten games.

The Pirates (53-78) goal now is to avoid one hundred losses. Most of September will be at home but playing against two of the leagues best teams, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the St. Louis Cardinals, as well as another team the Bucs historically do not have much success with, the Chicago Cubs.

Are the Pirates up to the task? Odds are no more than 50-50 that they will avoid the dreaded one hundred loss season.

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