ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 03:  Starting pitcher A.J. Burnett #34 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals during Game One of the National League Division Series at Busch Stadium on October 3, 2013 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

AJ Burnett < 500

If you eliminate all of the drama surrounding AJ Burnett’s departure from the Pirates last winter, we’re left with a few important facts. AJ Burnett is 38 years old, coming off of a relatively bad season in which he pitched with a sports hernia and saw his strikeouts go down with his velocity while his […]

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 17:  Francisco Liriano #47 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches in the first inning against the Boston Red Sox during inter-league play at PNC Park on September 17, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Francisco Liriano <500

This shouldn’t be surprising, but I’m not a big fan of anecdotal analysis like, “Francisco Liriano is only good every other year.” It works nice as a descriptive device, but it doesn’t give us much actual understanding about Francisco Liriano. In Liriano’s case, the pattern doesn’t even hold true: Liriano was excellent in 2006, decent in 2008, […]

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 19:  Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches in the first inning against the San Diego Padres during the game on September 19, 2013 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

<500: Gerrit Cole

This is Gerrit Cole’s traditional box score in eleven starts spread out over two Septembers: 71 1/3 IP, 60 H, 23 R, 22 ER, 16 BB, 84 K, 3 HR Those numbers represent the ideal Gerrit Cole, the snarling bastard that can throw four pitches that look the same out of his hand, but can […]


Under 500 words

I have a problem during the off-season. I have a vanishing amount of time to blog in, and whenever I don’t write anything for a couple of days, I tend to try to make up for it by writing something gargantuan, which then exceeds the scope of what I can contain within the small amount […]

Bucs Dugout: the utility of making a good team great

Charlie’s latest post looks at the odd shape of this off-season and asks about something that I’ve been struggling with for the better part of the last year: Once you have a team good enough to make the playoffs, what’s the value in making them better than that?

Sam [Miller] also suggests another factor, though — teams have realized there’s a lot of value in just getting to the playoffs and letting the chips fall where they may. As you might have heard before, the playoffs are a lottery. A slightly weighted lottery, maybe, but a lottery nonetheless. Billy Beane famously said over a decade ago that his “**** doesn’t work in the playoffs,” and if we needed a reminder, there was Beane last summer acquiring Jon Lester and Jeff Samardzija down the stretch and getting bounced in the Wild Card game, or the Tigers acquiring David Price and getting eliminated a round later.

Probably unsurprisingly, I go back and forth between this all the time. Lose the Wild Card Game at least in part because your third best starter is Edinson Volquez? Well then just being good isn’t good enough! But watch a decent Giant team and a mediocre Royal team play in the World Series? Well, then, dammit, getting to the playoffs is the only priority because anything can happen from there!

Honestly, every question about the Pirates at this point (unless you want to get way into the financial woods) is just a variation on this one. It’s pretty much all I think about over the off-season, and I still have no clue how to answer it.

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 01:  Pittsburgh Pirates fans prepare for their National League Wild Card game against the San Francisco Giants at PNC Park on October 1, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

New year, new expectations

One of the big problems of the non-stop news cycle that we tend to allow to consume ourselves is that it becomes literally impossible to give ourselves enough distance to allow for some context. The wild card game bleeds into the early off-season and that bleeds into the winter meetings and suddenly we’re in January, […]

Spring Training ticket preview for Pirates

The Pittsburgh Pirates ran into a buzz saw at the very end of last season, hosting the San Francisco Giants in the Wild Card play-in game at PNC Park. Unfortunately, toeing the rubber that evening was Madison Bumgarner who went on to pitch a historic postseason, bringing home the World Series Trophy to the Bay […]

Pirates win bidding for South Korean shortstop Jung-ho Kang

About halfway in between North Carolina and Hermitage today, I started seeing some tweets come through that the Pirates won the bidding for Jung-ho Kang, a shortstop from the Korean Baseball Organization. I’ve sort of kept one eye on the whole story of his posting process through the Twitter account of Dan at MyKBO, but it […]

sunglasses at night

Pirates sign Corey Hart

The Pirates announced this afternoon that they signed Corey Hart to a one year/$2.5 million deal and DFA’d Preston Guilmet, who I can tell you with 70% certainty was a guy that they claimed from, I think, the Orioles at some point since the season ended. I suppose the assumption here is that he’ll be […]


Kris Medlen signs with the Royals

The Royals announced this afternoon that they’ve signed Kris Medlen to a two-year deal worth $8.5 million with a mutual third-year option for $10 million. That’s such a reasonable deal and Medlen is such a good bounce back candidate that I’m finding myself pretty disappointed that the Pirates were seemingly not interested in Medlen at […]