The Pirates are tied for the best record in all of baseball on June 27th. This is a wonderful thing. It's also not a very meaningful thing starting on June 28th. The Pirates were in first place in July of 2011 and from late May to early August of 2012 they had one of (if not the) best records in baseball. Those runs meant nothing in either season outside of being fun for their own sake. The same applies to these first 78 games of 2013. If you remember back to spring training, I was pretty down on the upcoming season. It wasn't because I didn't think the Pirates could finish .500, but because I thought that .500 was the best that they could do and because I didn't think that was good enough compared to where I had hoped the Pirates would be after 5+ years of the Huntington/Coonelly front office being in charge. There are no excuses for a team that's 48-30, though. Fans can focus on 82 wins as a goal and that's fine and understandable, but I'm going to be sorely disappointed in a Pirate team that finishes 34-50. Enjoy today, because until the Pirates lock down a playoff spot the next game will always be more important than the one that just ended.
Last night James Santelli from Pirates Prospects put together a Pirate blogger roundtable with me, Brian from Raise the Jolly Roger, Cory from Three Rivers Burgh Blog, Jim from North Side Notch, and Tom Bragg from Pirates Prospects. We covered a ton of topics, from right field and the trade deadline, to Gerrit Cole, to James McDonald, to the Pirates' World Series chances, and way, way more. I think it was the first go-round for most of us doing a group video chat like this, but it came together nicely and was a lot of fun. Thanks to James for putting it together; I suspect that there will be semi-regular future episodes. You can check out the embedded video below.
Matt Klaassen has his catcher ratings for June up at Gettting Blanked. They don't include pitch-framing scores, but they do include just about everything else you would want to see to quantify catcher's defense. Russell Martin rates excellently as the fifth best catcher in baseball. Most of his contribution is canceled out by Mike McKenry, the fourth-worst catcher in baseball. Still … average is better than what the Pirates had before this year.
David Schoenfeld looked at how many pitches the Pirates' bullpen has thrown yesterday and asks the inevitable question about overuse. I'm pretty much on-board with his conclusions; that it's a concern worth monitoring but not necessarily a pressing one. I do agree that trading for a late-inning reliever wouldn't be a bad idea. If the Pirates do what we think they're going to do with the upcoming pitching crunch, they're going to end up with a bullpen full of long relievers, plus Tony Watson (who can be shaky), Mark Melancon, and Jason Grilli. It's true that Bryan Morris closed in the minors and could be moved back to high-leverage innings in the big leagues, and it's possible that starters with really electric stuff like Charlie Morton could make lights-out relievers, but none of those things are slam dunks. Sometimes the best way to improve yourself is to double-down on what you're best at and ensure that you stay the best at it.
Enjoy today, Pirate fans. I certainly am.