robshelb: Here's an easy one. (NOT -- giggle, giggle). Why aren't our hitters hitting the baseball ??
Michael Sanserino: Not-easy questions get not-easy answers. Simply: it's complicated. Each night, it seems to be something new that is hurting the offense. Last Thursday in LA, hitters were watching too many pitches pass by. On Friday in San Francisco, hitters were swinging at anything close -- and Kd a bunch as a result. Last night, Clint Hurdle said they swung at good pitches to hit, but rarely made solid contact. The short answer of it is they simply are not comfortable at the plate yet.
Jim: Do you say the Pirates doing anything to address the team's poor play in the short-term? It seems (and is!) early, but the season's already more than 6% over...
Michael Sanserino: No drastic changes yet. There are still 152 games remaining, and over the course of the season even the best teams in baseball will go through 3-7 stretches in 10 games. That's not to say the Pirates are one of the best teams in baseball -- they're not. But it is too early to make big changes.
Tim: Not to be apocalyptic, but is there any reason for optimism with the offense?
Michael Sanserino: Sure. (A) It's early. (B) A lot of the players who are struggling have shown they CAN hit major league pitching. They just aren't doing it right now. (C) The team BABIP is incredibly low, and eventually some of those batted balls will turn into hits. (D) Only one player looks totally lost at the plate.
Hunter: I know Bill is in Bradenton but are there any plans to send someone to check out what some of the hitters in low A West Virginia?
Michael Sanserino: Yes, Bill and I are planning trips to most of the minor league teams. I believe I am heading to Charleston, though off the top of my head I can't tell you when.
Hunter: Any chance Burnett is the odd man out is the rotation picture? Seems like a long shot based on what they're paying him but right now he sure looks like the 6th starter based on the performance of the other five.
Michael Sanserino: No. They might give him more time to figure things out in rehab, but once he is off the DL, he's in the rotation for good.
robshelb: What's the address I should use if I want to send a postcard to Chris Leroux ??
Michael Sanserino: Probably Pirate City: 1701 27th Street East Bradenton, FL 34208
pghfaninstl: Hey, Mike. Greetings from St. Louis. I saw on last night's telecast that Neal H. was in the house. What was the occasion? Is he currently traveling with the team? With the team struggling at the plate, are there any rumors that he is looking to make any moves in the near future?
Michael Sanserino: I wouldn't read too much into it. The GM travels frequently (for every team).
TheSaltyRogue: Honestly, how can anything management says about trying to win or fielding the best team be taken seriously with Pedro Alvarez on the big club? If his pregame approach can't get any better - yet he can't perform on the big stage it tells me one thing... he can't get the job done. I thought scholarships were over - why is he not in AAA?
Michael Sanserino: That's a good question. Their answer is he needs to see major league pitching and experience the major league environment to turn into a major league hitter. But they also say his pre-work could not be any better and he just can't seem to get it together at the plate. In the majors, though, he is not seeing any left-handed pitching. I think there are two factors at work: they are sincerely worried about what optioning Pedro would do to his already fragile psyche. And they have been pretty bold by saying he would start the season in the majors -- and might look a bit foolish if they option him out 10 games in. Not saying they are right or wrong, but I think those are the dynamics in play.
indianafanatic: greetings from the homestead Reeno. What makes Pedro a more viable option for the team than Hague. He only plays one position He cannot even begin to make contact. I am not seeing why the man love NH/CH have for him
Michael Sanserino: Hope the Hoosier State is treating you well. I don't think the FO believes Pedro is a more viable option than Matt Hague right now. But Pedro means more to the club's future than Hague does, based on his pedigree. Pedro's development is critical for this club moving forward, and if he does not get it together it really sets the franchise back. He was a big investment.
Mike: When will Tabata make some adjustments? Pitchers are pounding him inside to keep him from being able to hit the ball the opposite way. He is very frustrating to watch at the plate.
Michael Sanserino: He is frustrated, too. You saw him make some adjustments last night, and he was able to make contact consistently. The next adjustment will be to be able to drive the ball. He wasn't able to do that in spring training, either. The adjustments for Tabata are to find a rhythm and try to regain the 2010, early 2011 swing and confidence.
Macs: Do you think anyone could report that Matt Hague has a significant disadvantage iN Indy playing in a park that has a power gap that is 56 feet longer left field gap is. 418 feet approx 56 feet longer than the right field gap so
Michael Sanserino: I believe I mentioned that in a spring training write-up.
Sanoless: Does Gregg Richtie have a certain approach to plate appearances? We're all over the place. Looking at pitches, then swinging at pitches, and our walk ratio is pathetic!
Michael Sanserino: He tries to implement certain characteristics, but he's not the one taking hacks and watching strikes pass by. The offense is in a rut right now and seems to be trying a lot of different things to get back on track. That's usually compounds the problem. I think the onus is on the hitters more than the hitting coach through the early part of the season.
Joel Lesher: I truly believe that putting on a Pirate uniform in recent years is tantamount to a curse of sorts. Seemingly serviceable players become inept, (see Overbay, Diaz, and others before-- Barmes and Barajas, albeit in small sample sizes, now). Can this inveterate losing atmosphere ever be erased, or are we doomed to perpetual failure???
Michael Sanserino: If the New Orleans Aints can eventually win the Super Bowl, anything is possible. The problem of losing is that it is a self-perpetuating cycle. The Pirates cannot sign some free agents -- even if they are willing to pay market value or slightly higher. So they have to settle for other free agents, some less intriguing options. There have been some big failures on the open market, but there have been some successes -- Kevin Correia was hit or miss last year, but he did earn an All-Star spot. Erik Bedard has looked pretty good in three starts. Casey McGehee has been one of the most consistent hitters this year. It is an uphill battle, but it's not all doom and gloom.
Tom: Who goes down when Burnett comes up?
Michael Sanserino: I think we've got a bit of time to figure that out, given Burnett's struggles in his rehab starts. But I think the decision is between McDonald, Morton and Correia.
TheSaltyRogue: If Rod Barajas continues to start - why not bat him 8th? He's the definition of an all or nothing, "dead-red" hitter who seems incapable of situational hitting... bat him 8th and hope for a HR, if he's walked to get to the pitcher so be it.
Michael Sanserino: With the way this lineup has been hitting, there are a lot of candidates for the eighth spot. I think Barajas is still better suited a spot or two higher in the lineup because he has the potential for more power than Clint Barmes.
Sanoless: Do you believe the Pirates should try to move Hanrahan right now, effectively punting on 2012?
Michael Sanserino: It would be silly not to listen, given the need for so many contenders at the position. But the return has to be worth it to move him now.
Mike: So... I am glad the PBC spent the money on Nate Mcloth. Money well spent.....
Michael Sanserino: Not sure if you meant his initial extension or bringing him in this year. But they didn't pay most of his initial extension -- and got two future ML starting pitchers and Gorkys Hernandez in return.
indianafanatic: so it is kind of like driving the old clunker car because you cannot make the payment for a new one?
Michael Sanserino: I think it's more like driving a loaner while making payments on a spiffy new car in layaway. If these young pitchers develop, this team could really turn some heads in 2-3 years.
Doc: OK... I have taken as many Prozac as they give me in this asylum. Give me the good news... when does another slugger arrive to the Pirates? I mean an .875 OPS guy
Michael Sanserino: Um...I heard Josh Bell hit a BP home run about half a block over the fence in WV...
JamesinNYC: I guess you have to stick with Pedrostrian number at 3rd base for a while but isn't the black hole is created by his at bats going to suck everyone down to some degree as everyone pushes to make up for him>
Michael Sanserino: To an extent. A big bat in the middle of the lineup allows every other hitter to see hittable pitches. Now, there is no need to pitch around anybody -- nobody is necessarily feared in this lineup.
Stef: Do you see Meek as a major league reliever without getting his velocity back?
Michael Sanserino: If he doesn't get his velocity back, I think he is still a major league reliever. But his role changes dramatically -- no longer a setup guy but a middle reliever. That's what his role appears to be on this team.
Doc: Reeno, I never knew Eugene O'Neill, nobel laureate American playwright was a Pirate fan until I read this quote from Moon for the Misbegotten: "There is no present or future, only the past, happening over and over again, now"
Michael Sanserino: It's good to see that the first 10 games of the season haven't taken their toll on fan optimism!
Macs: Reeno, do you think it's time we considered a new hitting instructor?
Michael Sanserino: No. It's too early to make those kinds of evaluations.
TheSaltyRogue: How patient can the Pirates be with Meek? Clearly, the pen isn't going to be getting many big leads and he doesn't seem to have anywhere near the "stuff" he had pre-injury. You're not going to be able to "hide" an arm on this team.
Michael Sanserino: They can be patient. I think we need to push the pause button for a second. Joel Hanrahan has looked awfully pedestrian in his past two outings. That doesn't mean he has lost it; it just means he has had some struggles in a small sample size. Meek has struggled early, but it's early.
Ripper: When do you starting shaking things up us with the roster?
Michael Sanserino: I think if after a week things are still a mess I explore some changes.
BillinStL: Would you say that Harrison is a better hitting prospect than Hague?
Michael Sanserino: They are different. Hague has more power. Harrison has more speed, and could possible hit for a better average if Hague sacrifices some of his average for power, which he said he is willing to do.
robshelb: Saying that our hitters aren't hitting because they're not feeling "comfortable" is really simply begging the question. Why aren't they feeling comfortable. All of them ??
Michael Sanserino: They're not comfortable because they lack confidence at the plate. They're not confident because they are not getting hits. They are not getting hits because they are not comfortable.
Michael Sanserino: There is no cure-all to these hitting woes. Are there mechanical adjustments and changes in approach that could lead to some improvement? Sure. But, to a man, if you ask the hitters what it will take to fix these problems, they will tell you that they need to trust their routine (which has yielded dividends before), be confident and try to find a rhythm.
pghfaninstl: What is the morale like in the clubhouse? Still upbeat, somber or somewhere in between?
Michael Sanserino: It's not morose, but it's not jubilant. They are upset they are not playing better but they are not freaking out, nor are they defeated.
Michael Sanserino: OK, gotta get going. I know there are a few questions in the system that I didn't get to, so feel free to email them my way and I will respond in the next couple days. Thanks for tuning in, and we'll do it again next week.
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