I have heard all kinds of speculation about who is to blame regarding the Pittsburgh Pirate Collapse? Well, it’s not just the Bucs. Lots of blame to go around, but here is something else to think about before we lay out the blame. The L.A. Dodgers and the St. Louis Cardinals also have struggled mightily. Not as much as the Pirates, but nearly. So there is lots of Collapse questions going around.
As far as the Pirates go, the front office and the coaching staff can not pitch, hit, steal bases, or play defense. The pitching staff is the easiest to blame and probably where it should go. James McDonald has not pitched the same as he did in the first part of the season. Erik Bedard fell off the map and now is not even on the team. Jeff Karstens, who pitched well when he came off the DL, is now injured again. Kevin Correia gives up four runs to whomever he pitches against, whether it is the Bad News Bears or the NY Yankees. And Finally, A.J. Burnett has struggled a bit the second half.
Let’s go a step further and say the bullpen has also pitched poorly the second half of the season. Joel Hanrahan has been disappointing in the second half of the season and Jason Grilli has been brutal lately. We can talk about the hitting all we want and the injuries that truly have not helped and the fact that Andrew McCutchen has struggled mightily the second half of the season. The fact is when the Bucs did score runs, like today, the pitching staff blew it. (more…)
BY BRANDON J. SMITH, Couchsideshow.com contributor
As part of The Couch Side’s MLB positional power rankings, we turn to Centerfield, arguably one of the more important positions in the game.
But first, here is my 10-6 to build anticipation
Now onto the cream of the crop, the five best centerfielders in the game right now.
The Braves leadoff hitter split time between Houston and Atlanta last season, and he still led the NL in stolen bases with 61. He’s a fantasy goldmine, simply put. He has two gold gloves in his short career, and rates favorably with his defense. What is he expected to achieve this year? The projection model ZiPS has him hitting .270 with 97 runs scored, and 56 stolen bases. I’ll take that, you’ll take that, and we’ll all take that.
This was a tricky one; Ellsbury in 2011 had a near MVP season at the dish, only to have his teammates do their best to sabotage those efforts, which they did. Assuming the Red Sox won’t self destruct with a montage of alcoholic behavior, and unhealthy food choices, they’ll be back in the postseason, and so will the 4th best centerfielder in baseball. Jacoby had a herculean spike in power last year. The HR totals from his first four healthy seasons look like this,
That’s pretty remarkable, almost Jose Bautista-like. The question of whether or not he has a season close to that production remains to be seen, but it would be hard to believe that his peripherals would enable him to improve on such a feat.