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Do The Pittsburgh Pirates Miss Pitching Guru Jim Benedict More Than Expected?

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Jason Rollison (Featured BBBA Writer/Owner – piratesbreakdown.com) 

This past off-season the Miami Marlins hired away former Pittsburgh Pirates’ pitching guru, Jim Benedict and named him their Vice President of Pitching Development, which is a new position specifically created for the for the former minor league pitcher turned advance scout.

Despite being credited hand-in-hand with Ray Searage for their numerous reclamation projects, Benedict’s specific contributions were at times difficult to fully quantify.

With Benedict gone, the 2016 Pittsburgh Pirates have seen their pitching devolve from an area of strength to a current weakness. Is this simply due to the loss of Benedict? Or are there other factors at play? Can we draw any conclusions from Benedict’s new team’s performance?

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The Pittsburgh Pirates Payroll In 2016 + Roster That Could Have Been

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Jason Rollison (Featured BBBA Writer/Owner – piratesbreakdown.com) 

After a second consecutive exit from the playoffs by way of the wild card game, the Pittsburgh Pirates promised a bigger payroll this season, but could they have done better?

In December, Neal Huntington and Frank Connelly both hinted the Pirates target payroll would be approximately $105 million for opening day.  As it stands, the Pirates opening day payroll was about $100 million.

That wouldn’t be so bad if the team’s pitching staff wasn’t off to a rough start, the first base platoon partner wasn’t gone after two weeks, and the Cubs weren’t the center of the baseball universe at the moment.  The saying goes, “hindsight is 20/20,” but we consider what could have been if the Pirates had spent their money a little differently.

Let’s start with the breakdown of the opening day payroll broken down by position: (Note: Only players included on opening day 25-man roster/DL are included below.)

The rules for this little experiment are simple.  We cannot exceed $105 million, and our payroll has to include 28 players due to Jared Hughes, Elias Diaz, and Jung-Ho Kang starting the season on the major league disabled list. 

If we choose any players the Pirates did not sign, we will assume the Pirates could have signed said player(s) to the same terms.  Knowing what we know now, here’s a look at what the Pirates roster could have been.

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The Week That Was In Audio/Video Casting In The BBBA

The BBBA is a growing collection of baseball bloggers with the general purpose of collaborating on projects or being a reference for each other - and especially in terms of promoting in social media like Twitter, Facebook and Podcasting. Click the Contact Us Page If You wish to join.

The 3nd week is well underway, and we had some great shows to listen to over the last week  – courtesy of the  following BBBA shows.

Sully Baseball talked about the passing of Prince, the horrible uniforms of the D’backs, and the lunacy of specialty MLB Hats On certain Days.  Sully also interviews Stacey Gotsulias about the Yankees and around the league.  He pulled no punches in addressing the Curt Schilling fiasco.  And how sure hall of famers to be 5 years ago are not now.

Hall Of Very Good Interviewed Bobblehead Hall Of Fame founder Phil Sklar

“BBA Live” Broke down the weeks worth of action.

Jays From the Couch The guys wondered about the 1st base tandem, and also the lineup configuration with Michael Saunders.

Pirates Breakdown PBC talked about the recent acquisition of Justin Masterson, and what they need to do keep up in the NL Central with the Cubs

Gateway to Baseball Heaven weighed in on the recent Jaime Garcia pitching gem, what the squad will do when Ruben Tejada comes back, and are still worried about Adam Wainwright

MLB This Week discussed the Jacob deGrom family matters and more technology with the games being streamed.  Also how a family was thrown out of a ballpark.

You can either click all of these links for the individual shows, are just scroll down past to listen to them on this post.

To see all of the updates live as they happen every week click here.

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The Numbers Behind John Jaso’s Early Success

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Jason Rollison (Featured BBBA Baseball Writer/Owner – piratesbreakdown.com) 

To say nothing of his more-than-capable defense at first base, John Jaso has been a revelation at the top spot in the batting order for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

John Jaso has put up some solid slash lines over his career, so it should not come as much of a surprise that he currently carries a .414 on-base percentage as part of an .897 OPS.

How has Jaso been able to acclimate himself so quickly and effectively to the top of the Pirates’ lineup?

A Solid Foundation

For Jaso, his propensity for quality plate appearances starts with the first pitch.

His F-Strike percentage (percentage of plate appearances that start with a strike) clocks in at 53.3 percent. That figure represents the third-best on the club, behind Starling Marte (52.5) and Gregory Polanco (51.6). While the importance of first-pitch strikes has been debated in recent years, good things happen for Jaso on a 1-0 count. More on that later.

In looking a bit deeper at what Jaso is actually seeing on the first pitch, the four-seam fastball is seen the most at 46 percent. It likely may not even matter what type of pitch Jaso sees first, as chances are it won’t be anywhere near the strike zone.

His Zone % (percentage of pitches seen in the strike zone) is 47.8 percent, which is not significant on its own until coupled with his O-Swing % (percentage of pitches outside of the zone that a batter swings at).

Jaso’s O-Swing percentage clocks at 16.5 percent, nearly two-thirds better than the league average of 30 percent. Incredibly, he isn’t even the best on this Pirates team in this regard. That honor belongs to David Freese and his 15.7 percent clip. Regardless, Jaso’s rate is fourth-best in the National League for anyone with 50 or more plate appearances.

The foundation that Jaso lays in his plate appearances almost feels as if he dictates to pitchers how the PA will go. He absolutely refuses to chase anything out of the zone, and such an approach can force an opposing pitcher to offer something he may not necessarily want to offer on the next pitch, which usually comes at a 1-0 count.

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The Week That Was In Audio/Video Casting In The BBBA

The BBBA is a growing collection of baseball bloggers with the general purpose of collaborating on projects or being a reference for each other - and especially in terms of promoting in social media like Twitter, Facebook and Podcasting. Click the Contact Us Page If You wish to join.

The BBBA is a growing collection of baseball bloggers with the general purpose of collaborating on projects or being a reference for each other – and especially in terms of promoting in social media like Twitter, Facebook and Podcasting. Click the Contact Us Page at the link given at the end of the article If You wish to join.

Chuck Booth (Owner/Lead  Analyst)

Follow The MLB Reports On Twitter

The 2nd week is well underway, and we had some great shows to listen to over the last week  – courtesy of the  following BBBA shows.

Sully Baseball talked about weather concerns, the A’s ballpark issues, a shortened season, the Hector Olivera fiasco, Pablo Sandoval, MLB’s hat maneuvers – and if it is too early to panic about certain clubs?

Hall Of Very Good Interviewed former MLB’er Dmitri Young (Da Meat Hook).

“BBA Live” Broke down the weeks worth of action – and wondered about the NL East – and about the Mets and Nats starts.

Jays From the Couch wants all the fans to calm down after a rough losing streak, and wonders if a current Jay will be the 2017 Red Sox DH.

Pirates Breakdown is taking the “Lets take it Juan Day at a time” approach after a slow week

Gateway to Baseball Heaven are loving the Cards young players, but are worried about Adam Wainwright

MLB This Week thinks Chase Utley is just a dirty player.

You can either click all of these links for the individual shows, are just scroll down past to listen to them on this post.

To see all of the updates live as they happen every week click here.

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BBBA Audio/Video Casters Week In Review:

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance is not only a membership for writers, we also supports podcaster/videocaster/ or vloggers.

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance is not only a membership for writers, we also support podcasters/videocasters and vloggers.  We have many talented people who are doing an awesome job covering the game of Major League Baseball.  If you know a show that is good and think they should be on this page, check out our contact information and send us a note.

Chuck Booth (Owner/Lead  Analyst) 

Follow The MLB Reports On Twitter 

We have an outstanding amount of baseball fans that are doing audio and video presentations for the game of baseball that are not even being paid for it.

I would put the content of these shows up against a lot of the paid professionals of the MLB – or any other entity that possesses the wherewithal to be able to do that.

If you want to keep scrolling down, all of the information listed below is all of the shows for the week from all, or maybe you have a favorite, then you can just click on one of the highlighted shows. 

In this opening week we had Sully Baseball talk a lot about the Pirates, D’Backs, Cubs and the Cardinals in opening week.  He keyed on where Tim Lincecum may end up, and the opening start for Zack Greinke.  Like everyone else, he also submitted his yearly predictions.

Sully also delivered an emotional podcast where he implores everyone to love their extended family more on April 2, 2016 – because you don’t know when you may lose some one.

BBBA Audio/Video Shows

Sully Baseball April Podcasts

The “BBA” Live  guys talked about the opening week, and a lot about what the NL East will look like this year.

The Hall Of Very Good Interviewed Kato Kaelin.

The Jays from the Couch guys continued to kill it on their coverage of Canada’s only team.

The Pirates Breakdown was happy to see their club begin 3 – 0 after sweeping the Cards after giving their predictions.

Seamheads (Gateway To Heaven) wondered if anyone was going to make it through the week for St. Louis in light of the Tommy Pham injury.

MLB This Week went through their season picks – and also talked about some of the technology of the game as a fan.

Past here is how to subscribe and listen to these shows. 

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For The Pittsburgh Pirates – There Is No Next Year

Following a quiet offseason, the Pittsburgh Pirates enter 2016 hoping a large group of top prospects are prepared to make significant contributions to the big league club down the stretch.

Following a quiet offseason, the Pittsburgh Pirates enter 2016 hoping a large group of top prospects are prepared to make significant contributions to the big league club down the stretch.

Jason Rollison  (Featured BBBA Writer/Owner – pbcbreakdown.com) 

Follow The MLB Reports On Twitter 

In 2006, the Pittsburgh Pirates started their “We Will” campaign.  Of course, that year is well remembered as the year the Pirates decided to commit to the rebuilding effort.

The next year, Neal Huntington would be brought in as the new general manager, and the completion of the rebuild process was brought to fruition in just six years after a rotating door of front office staff and players failed to reverse the losing streak that nearly forced the team to move.

The “We Will” campaign was meant to embody the work ethic and integrity expected of every member of the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.

Instead, it became the target of ridicule from many fans.  The banners hanging from the façade of PNC Park did not help matter as disgruntled fans poured out following loss after loss.

Even in success, Pirates fans couldn’t dodge the pangs of defeat.

Following the success of the team in 2013 making a laughingstock of Johnny Cueto in the wild card game and taking the Cardinals to the brink of elimination before melting down in game five of the NLDS, the fans and players expected more, but who could have possibly anticipated the wonders that were Madison Bumgarner and Jake Arrieta?

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As the Pirates Lurch Forward Towards Opening Day, The Debate Over The Everyday Lineup Continues

pirates+logoJason Rollison  (Featured BBBA Writer/Owner – pbcbreakdown.com) 

Follow The MLB Reports On Twitter 

With John Jaso now seemingly entrenched at the top of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ lineup, coupled with Andrew McCutchen pointed towards remaining in the number two slot, many observers now wonder what the rest of the batting order may look like against the Cardinals on April 3rd.

Despite the focus on the top of the order, it may be the bottom of the order that can take a step forward for the club.

In 2015, the seventh and eighth hitters for the Pirates performed reasonably well.

There are a couple of interesting notes when considering the Pirates’ performance form the bottom two spots in the order.

First, the 114 rating for wRC+ (weighted runs created +) led the NL from the seventh spot (100 is considered an “average” score). This will likely continue for 2016, as we will see shortly.

From the eighth spot, the wRC+ rating of 93 might seem underwhelming, yet only two teams in the NL had a rating of 100 or more. The St. Louis Cardinals were far and away the most productive in this regard, with a 110 rating.

2016 will likely be another story completely, as the changes at the top have ramifications that will be felt all the way through the order. While Pedro Alvarez‘s free swinging ways often led to his insertion in the lower third, his departure and a re-focusing on quality at bats results in a case of addition by subtraction.

If spring batting orders over the past week are any indication, Jordy Mercer, Gregory Polanco or Josh Harrison could be reliable bats at the 7th spot.

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BBBA Members Video/Audio Shows + Links This Week

Sully baseball hosts a 20 Min Daily Podcast https://mlbreports.com/2013/04/27/sully-baseball-daily-podcast-april-27-2013/

Sully Baseball Daily Podcast

(Sully has a Streak of 20 minute shows everyday since Oct.24/2012)

(Latest Podcast In the Player Below)

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BBBA Members Video/Audio Shows + Links For The Week That Was

Jose-Reyes--Colorado-Rockies-jpg

Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Latest Podcast:

Domestic violence is finally going to be dealt with in baseball.

I am not sure what commissioner Manfred should do about Jose Reyes, Yasiel Puig and Aroldis Chapman. But I DO know that saying things like David Ortiz said does not help.

Players are role models. If you don’t like that, quit and join a beer league.

It is a do the right thing NOW edition of the Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

To subscribe on iTunes, click HERE.

To subscribe on SoundCloud, click HERE.

Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – February 25, 2016

Sully Baseball Daily Podcast

(Sully has a Streak of 20 minute shows everyday since Oct.24/2012)

(1220 Straight Days With An episode)

Week Archives

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Is Matt Joyce The Answer To The Pirates’ 4th Outfielder Spot?

Matt Joyce had a down year in 2015, but his history as a starter in the outfield could make him the Pirates’ best fourth outfielder option come Opening Day.

Matt Joyce had a down year in 2015, but his history as a starter in the outfield could make him the Pirates’ best fourth outfielder option come Opening Day.

Jason Rollison (Featured Baseball Website Writer – piratesbreakdown.com) 

Follow The MLB Reports On Twitter 

The final signing of the Pirates’ off-season might have happened last week when the team signed outfielder Matt Joyce to a minor league contract.

The move wasn’t a major one, but it may have filled one final need the Pirates had before heading into spring training: the fourth outfielder position.

He’ll be competing with Sean Rodriguez, Jason Rogers, Mike Morse, and Jake Goebbert for playing time, and to be the primary outfielder off the bench come Opening Day. Out of the available choices, is Joyce the best option the Pirates have for that role?

I’d argue yes. As a fourth outfielder, a player is the first option off the bench to give either Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, or Gregory Polanco a day off, and would also be used as a pinch-hitter and possibly a late game defensive replacement.

Joyce has by far the most major league experience in the outfield (5163.0 innings) compared to the next closest in Morse (3061.2) and Rodriguez (662.1).

He also has a higher career WAR at 9.0, the next closest being Rodriguez at 7.3. He’s the only one of the group to be an All-Star may be arguably the best overall offensive player of the group (Morse has more power, but has fallen off since his career 2012 campaign).

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BBBA Members Audio Podcasts + Links This Week

sully and eirann

Sully Baseball Daily Podcast

(Sully has a Streak of 20 minute shows everyday since Oct.24/2012)

(1207th Straight Day With An episode)

What the hell are the Angels doing?

They need to sign a bunch of potential reclamation projects and hope some come through, otherwise, they might be wasting Mike Trout‘s prime.

It is a “far from heaven” episode of The Sully Baseball Daily Podcast.

To subscribe on iTunes, click HERE.

To subscribe on SoundCloud, click HERE.

Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – February 12, 2016

Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – February 11, 2016

Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – February 10, 2016

Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – February 9, 2016

Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – February 8, 2016

Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – February 7, 2016

Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – February 6, 2016

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Can Gerrit Cole Rely On His Slider Again In 2016?

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Jason Rollison (Featured Baseball Writer/piratesbreakdown.com)  

Follow The MLB Reports On Twitter 

In what seems like another lifetime ago, I wrote that Gerrit Cole was now relying on his slider in 2015 as his go-to pitch.

At the time, Cole’s development of a killer secondary pitch to complement his fastball was something that was in its infancy.

After bursting onto the scene in 2013 with a fastball that could tap 100mph on radar, Cole showed a greater reliance on his fastball while still mixing in his sinker, slider, and curveball.

He even put an emphasis on his still-burgeoning changeup early in the season before that, too, which also took a backseat to the heat.

Despite that emphasis on secondary pitches, Cole was often forced to go back to the fastball in 2014.

The simple fact is that the changeup, curveball, and sinker were getting knocked around a bit, with line drive rates of 30.43 percent, 35 percent, and 28.07 percent respectively.

The sinking fastball and changeup both had batting averages against of .300 or more, with the changeup also displaying a crooked .643 SLG percentage.

It was clear that Cole was still figuring out which weapon in his arsenal would be that second “go-to” pitch.

Enter the slider.

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PiratesBreakdown.com Interview – With Pittsburgh Pirates Catcher Chris Stewart

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Pittsburgh Pirates fans will want to hear this episode of The Pirates Breakdown Podcast as we welcome in Chris Stewart for an interview.

Chris Stewart recently signed an extension to remain a Pirate for the foreseeable future.

What better time then to sit down with Chris for The Pirates Breakdown Podcast?

Interview – Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Chris Stewart

What better time then to sit down with Chris for The Pirates Breakdown Podcast? Without further ado, here’s the full interview with the Bucs’ backstop:

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Pittsburgh Pirates Deep Dive: Jon Niese

EZRA SHAW/GETTY IMAGES

EZRA SHAW/GETTY IMAGES

An intriguing ground ball rate and three years of control were enough for the Pittsburgh Pirates to obtain Jon Niese. What comprises the left-hander’s makeup as a starting pitcher?

Several weeks have passed since Neil Walker was traded to the New York Mets for starting pitcher Jon Niese.

The move still resonates strongly with many Pittsburgh Pirates observers, often serving for many as the fulcrum of a questionable off-season.

We’ve analyzed the move previously, and from all angles. For the latest in our “Pittsburgh Pirates Deep Dive” series, we are going to look at the trends that are seen when analyzing Niese purely by past performance.

For this breakdown, I took a look at Niese’s game logs for the entire 2015 season. This includes all of his regular season appearances – 29 starts and three relief outings.

By looking at the entire snapshot of a full season, I expect to be able to easily identify any developing trends.

When he was acquired, the book on Niese was that he had good groundball-producing ability and a varied pitch mix. Two of those pitches – a sinking fastball and a cutting version – saw groundball rates above 60 percent in 2015.

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