Michael Sanserino: A couple things of note this morning: The Pirates announced today that outfielder Starling Marte will begin a rehabilitation assignment today with Class A State College. That rehab assignment will be transferred to Class AAA Indianapolis on Wednesday.
Marte went on the disabled list on Aug. 19 with a strained right oblique.
Jake: How would you rate Locke's performance yesterday, and an you see him in the rotation next year?
Michael Sanserino: I would rate it as pretty average. He put his team in position to win, and the game got away from him with one bad pitch. I do see him in the starting rotation next year, barring a really ugly performance this month.
LeeFoo Bug: When does the Steeler season start? Why does Rod Barajas keep getting playing time? Has Barmes' bad play yesterday portend more Mercer? Are the Pirates in panic mode yet? Why is the sky always gray these days?
Michael Sanserino: Foo, Go you your kitchen. Grab one of those brown paper lunch bags. Bring it to your lips. Now breathe in, breathe out. Repeat.
Da Stillers start playing Sunday night, and this might be the latest date someone has asked that in this chat. That's progress, right?
Barajas continues to play because the team saw the type of effect he could have when he swings the bat well. And, they believe his success is crucial to the success of the team.
I don't think one bad play by Barmes automatically spells more time for Mercer, who hasn't exactly been carrying a gold glove at short.
Jake: How about Morton, are the pirates still high on him?
Michael Sanserino: Yes, they are. He is eligible for arbitration for a second year. That process could be important for Morton's future with this team. The Pirates like the arm, and like what he can do when he pitches well. But they aren't too keen on giving a raise to a player who missed most of 2012 and likely will miss a few months of 2013.
Jake: And what does a IR guy like morton do during the season? is he at home, in bradenton, hanging around PNC Park?
Michael Sanserino: Morton is rehabbing, I believe at home. He came to PNC Park once, but the most important thing for him is to rehab.
JAL: Any thoughts on why Pirate batters keep trying to pull outside pitches? Lack of pitch recognition, in their DNA, stubborn, or something else?
Michael Sanserino: Probably a combination of a lot of things. Ideally, you're supposed to send a pitch back where it came from. I believe they are pressing a bit. Their strikeout numbers show they lack pitch recognition frequently.
LeeFoo Bug: Why can't Hurdle seem to get our Buccos out of these funks? This is two years in a row. Supposedly his strength is clubhouse management (it sure ain't 'in-game', that's foo shore). If he can't get them out of this funk, should he be replaced? I think his 9 out of 10 losing seasons says it all about him and now we know why. If he DOES go, tho, will it put Dubble Bubble out of business?
Michael Sanserino: I think the biggest knock on Hurdle -- and sometimes, it's one of his greatest strengths -- is his eternal optimism. For the past two seasons, it worked well to encourage young teams to overachieve and compete within the division. And, for the past two seasons, it proved ineffective after the All-Star break. Now, the Pirates are dealing with a few injuries now that have been costly, but Hurdle has struggled to motivate his team in these pressure situations. Dangling a carrot is an effective tool, but there's a reason jockeys use those riding crops.
I do not believe Clint Hurdle should be replaced if this team slides. His overall body of work -- and the team's two-year improvement -- has been impressive.
Alan Gifford: other than average, Pedros stats are quietly sneaking into good numbers, will we ever seen consistency and average
Michael Sanserino: Alan, that's a good question. For me, it comes down to two things: consistency and strikeouts. He can mash the ball at times and go on these ridiculous tears. But he can shrink for weeks at a time, too. I do think that experience and maturity will help shorten some of those dry spells. But there is also the issue of his strikeouts. Some power hitters can cut their Ks throughout their career. Some can't. Too early to say which camp Pedro's in.
LeeFoo Bug: Reeno....Barajas swings the bat well? When did THAT happen? lol
Michael Sanserino: Well, he did hit .302 with a .913 OPS in May. Four home runs, four doubles in 20 games. The Pirates did pretty well in May.
AJB: What does next years starting rotation look like with Locke and/or Morton in it?
Michael Sanserino: If I had to pick now: Burnett, McDonald, Karstens, Rodriguez, Locke to start the season. Two names to look for in June: Charlie Morton, Gerrit Cole.
Matt: Your answer from Barajas may be true, but it's complete garbage. Hurdle always said if you hit, you'll play. McKenry has been hitting the snot out of the ball and quite frankly is better behind the plate. It's September, play your best players NOW.
Michael Sanserino: A couple things: First, the Pirates will continue to play veteran FA acquisitions because they still need to woo future free agents. The team has improved as a destination in the free agent market, but it still isn't where it should be. Second, McKenry is hitting better than Barajas, but not by a whole lot. He's .200/.298/.300 in the past month.
Jake: How is Gaby Sanchez meshing in the clubhouse? He's not playing well on the field. How long the leash? Are they gonna sit him down and give GFJ more ABs agains LHP?
Michael Sanserino: He's meshing just fine. And his numbers aren't horrible: .258 since the trade with a .733 OPS. He's struggled with RISP, that's for sure.
Jones has been getting a lot of ABs against LHP as it is, simply because he has been the most consistent hitter of the second half of the season.
JAL: When Karstens last started it looked to me from the first batter that he wasn't throwing like he does when healthy. Why didn't he or someone on the team recognize pre-game that he was ready?
Michael Sanserino: From all indications, his pre-game work was just fine. Michael McKenry said he was getting extension with his stride, hitting spots with good velo. But once he took the mound, McKenry said, he looked a bit timid. And in the at-bat to Hart, the injury resurfaced.
LeeFoo Bug: My paper bag broke!!!!! What do I do now??!!
Michael Sanserino: PANIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
tanschmidli: Give me your best Tony Robbins impersonation. Why should I still be excited for this last month? I'm usually the eternal optimist but yesterday was a tough one to swallow.
Michael Sanserino: The schedule is favorable. Neil Walker and Starling Marte could return by this weekend. Young players are hungry to prove themselves (and in the past two seasons, those young players have helped propel this team). I'm not saying the Pirates ARE going to play well. But there is reason for optimism. There is also reason for pessimism.
Gosh, I don't make a good Tony Robbins.
LeeFoo Bug: Yeah, I know what Rod hit in May. What has he hit since then? .170? He should NOT be playing!
LeeFoo Bug: Why can't we throw out runners trying to steal and why can't WE steal a base? Should Silverio be replaced?
Michael Sanserino: Can't throw out runners because the catchers are not great at it, and release time is not a huge concern of the pitching staff. The focus is to execute pitches well, even if it means a little slower release. The lesser of two evils for the staff.
As for why they can't steal bases: a combination of factors -- bad breaks, inopportune situations. At some point, the players have to take personal responsibility. McCutchen has always been a streaky base stealer, and I imagine that will be a focus of his in the offseason.
JAL: How does the FO view Jordy Mercer? Holt just came up and started 2 games, Harrison played SS when Barmes sat.
Michael Sanserino: They clearly think enough of him to keep him in Pittsburgh all this time. I think his lack of playing time is simply Hurdle trying to ride out the hot bat. Josh Harrison has been hitting the ball well and has been a spark at times for his teammates. Holt was hitting like 8.345 (rounding up a bit).
Billy: Why doesn't Steve Bartman just become a White Sox fan? They would embrace him.
Michael Sanserino: I think the last thing Steve Bartman wants to do is enter the spotlight for any reason.
Michael Sanserino: Be sure to check out our Pirates coverage in the Post-Gazette and on PG+. Have a great week!
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