Sunday, September 20, 2009

Despite What Manager John Russell Says, Avoiding 100 Losses Is Critical for the Pirates

by The Last Hollywood Star

Well, the weather was beautiful. And I got a nice Pirate cap at the gate.

Yesterday afternoon the Pirates put their most anemic line up yet on the field that included Neal Walker (.143), Steve Pearce, (.210), Brian Bixler, (.222) and Ryan Doumit, (.237) Those four plus the remaining Pirates scratched out five singles and scored the team’s solitary run on a sacrifice fly in its 2-1 loss to the equally hapless San Diego Padres.

The Pirates’ fielding was terrible too. The official scorekeepers charged only one error (on Bixler) but there were at least three others: a grounder that Walker muffed and errant throws by Bixler and Doumit who debuted unsuccessfully in right field.

Official scoring is so bad that only weakly hit, dropped balls right at fielders are charged as errors. Any ball that involves moving a few steps or is sharply hit become a base hit.

Earlier this week, manager John Russell said that whether the Pirates lose 99 or 101 games doesn’t really matter and that it’s all perception.

But sometimes perception is reality. That’s why managers try to get their starters’ win totals up from 19 to the magical mark of 20 or their hitters above the Mario Mendoza line of .199 (named appropriately after the former Pittsburgh Pirate shortstop)

Russell may not own up to it but losing 100 games makes it tougher to bring back fans next year.

In 2010, the Pirates have to show at least modest improvement in the standings and by 2011, the team must be in the middle of the National League Central race if management expects to have any credibility with its fan base about its “long term” plan.

If not, that will put the Pirates into 2012 or what possibly would be the 20th consecutive year of sub-.500 baseball.

No comments: