Link Roundup: Pirates Acquire Robinzon Diaz From Jays

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Photo: Larry Coor


-P-
Catcher Robinzon Diaz has been named as the PTBNL in the Jose Bautista trade. We were told to expect the PTBNL to be a prospect, so this return initially seems underwhelming--Diaz is nearly 25 and has never hit for power or drawn walks. He has consistently hit for average, however, and his defense gets the job done, and the Pirates have/had a glaring organizational need for catching. Here's a description from Baseball Prospectus:

Diaz is a little bit of an anomaly: A catcher who hits like a middle infielder, with good contact-hitting ability, a very low strikeout rate, and above-average speed. His defense is quite good, and repeating the level can`t be held against him because the organization gave priority to Curtis Thigpen. Still, the toll of the catching position is going to make it hard for him to keep legging out base hits, so there may not be much development in his bat.

That actually sounds fairly interesting. He could be a little like Ronny Paulino without Paulino's annoyingly indifferent fielding and utter lack of foot speed. He could do a decent job as the Pirates' backup catcher next year. He's probably stretched as a starter, but he could be useful and cheap for a few years.

He has been added to the Pirates' 40-man roster and sent to Indianapolis.

-P- I don't mean to put too fine a point on it, but you should always beware reporting like this:

[Zach] Duke felt encouraged by his performance Friday night, when he used a glove-over-his-head windup designed to loosen his delivery for the first time in a game.

"We're definitely going in the right direction," he said. "The ball had life out of my hand. It's comforting to know that when you're trying stuff to get better that it works. It's a weight off the mind."

It's not that the Post-Gazette is wrong to report this, or anything, just that it would be wrong to assume it has any meaning. First, let's look at what Duke actually did Friday night:

6 IP, 4 K, 2 BB, 4 ER

There's nothing particularly inspiring about that. Even if there were, pitcher performance can vary widely from game to game, and pitchers and coaches are often quick to chalk up ephemeral gains to changes in mechanics and repertoire that almost never have any meaning.

The blog USS Mariner, which I know I cite a lot, has done a great job illustrating this point. There's too much good stuff in this post for me to paste a good excerpt, so you should click the link and read the whole thing, but anyway:

After last night’s game, [Seattle beat writer Geoff] Baker talked to Carlos Silva about why his results were so much better than his first couple of months as a Mariner. Silva pulled out the trusty old mechanical change, which, as we’ve noted before, pitchers use all the time to take credit for positive results they have nothing to do with...

Unfortunately, it’s just not true. Thanks to Pitch F/x data, we can quantify just how much Silva’s pitches move both horizontally and vertically, and we have the data for both 2007 and 2008... The sink on his fastball is virtually identical to what it was last year...

I’m sure Carlos Silva actually did make a mechanical adjustment - I’m not accusing him of lying. I am saying that trying to draw a correlation between the mechanical adjustment, increased movement on Silva’s sinker, and the results he got tonight is total crap, and the kind of completely wrong analysis of pitchers we’ve come to expect from the M’s and most of the local media. Silva didn’t get a bunch of outs tonight because he lowered his hands - he got a bunch of outs tonight because the A’s have a bad offense, and as we’ve been telling people for years, pitch to contact strike throwers are wildly inconsistent from game to game, as the results of their performance are almost completely in the hands of their opponents.

In any given year, you'll hear lots of reasons for the most minor performance changes. Most of them are just noise. I understand Duke looked pretty good Friday night, but chances are he won't keep his gains.

-P- Pat has a really excellent writeup of one of Indianapolis' recent games, complete with photos. 

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