Jeff Manto: Don't Worry! Everything's Fine!

Like Wilbur, I have to wonder what planet hitting coach Jeff Manto is living on.

"I have to say that we are having pretty good at-bats and we're just running into some pitching right now that's been good pitching," he said. "I don't think we felt overmatched, but we've left some runners out there quite a bit. On the whole, we feel good about ourselves and are looking forward to each and every night."

"Good pitching"? What? The Pirates have faced just three unambiguously good starters all year: Roy Oswalt, Jason Jennings and Aaron Harang. After that, they've faced Woody Williams, who's old and rickety; Matt Belisle, a journeyman who had to fight to win the Reds' fifth starter job; Eric Milton, one of the biggest contract busts in Reds franchise history; Braden Looper, a mediocre converted reliever who has no business starting; Randy Keisler, a minor-league journeyman; Adam Wainwright, who's young and decent but totally unproven as a major-league starter; and Russ Ortiz, who should be one of the worst starters in baseball this year. There's just no way a serious argument can be made that the Bucs have faced good pitching this year. In fact, the Bucs have been lucky to have faced extremely bad pitching so far.

As for the "pretty good at-bats," has Manto been watching the same games I have? I see hitters waving at pitches way outside the zone. I see a team with three times as many strikeouts as walks. I see a first baseman who might as well have batted blindfolded in about 80 percent of his plate appearances.

And finally, as for "leaving runners out there" - the Pirates' on-base percentage is .290. There haven't been any runners.

Apparently, Manto isn't very good at his job. Not the job of teaching his players how to hit - we all know he stinks at that. No, I mean the job of talking to the media. If he's going to spew B.S., he should at least make sure it's plausible.

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