Questions, Comments, Thoughts, etc.


First, as some of y'all may have noticed, my presence on bucsdugout has been limited starting at the end of last season until recently.  I must admit that I had become somewhat disinterested during the offseason, and with  the major league team this spring  not exactly conjuring images of the '27 Yankees , the Dream Team, or the '72 Dolphins my interest persisted to sit in the category commonly known as "lacking."  Call me a fair-weather fan or whatever insult you can come up with, I understand.

However, with the draft, prospects coming up and getting promoted, and other factors (having nothing to do at work for 6 hours a day), I'm pleased and proud to say I've once again caught Pirate fever.  As such, I have decided to write an extensive article outlining some of my own questions (I hope other, more knowledgeable posters can answer), presenting facts and research about all things Pirates, and sharing my opinions and thoughts regarding the past, present, and future.



  • I wanna know more about Starling Marte.  While Baseball America doesn't even rate him as the best athlete in our farm system (Chase D'Arnaud) it does rate him as having the best outfield arm.  John Sickels describes him as having "uber-tools, particularly speed, but raw with the strike zone."  My question is, does someone have a report on Marte with a 20-80 grade assigned to each of his tools.  What is his upside/ceiling?
  • Along the Starling Marte thread, I noticed he has not played since the middle of May.  Obviously he is injured (which I knew), but I'm in the dark as to the specifics.  Can anyone give me some info as to the extent of Marte's injury?
  • Likewise, Quinton Miller has only pitched in two games with two games started.  He is also injured if I recall correctly, but again could someone inform me of the specifics please?


  • Since virtually all of the anticipation surrounding baseball in Pittsburgh involves Pedro Alvarez and his impending call-up, I decided to start with him.  After being picked 2nd overall in the 2008 draft, Alvarez, known for his power potential, has been identified to have three major weaknesses.  First, he strikes out too much.  Second, he struggles against left-handed pitchers.  Third, his defense may move him off of third base.  Here are some interesting stats.







Career Overall






Career vs. LH






2009 vs. LH






2010 vs. LH






Career vs. RH






2009 vs. RH






2010 vs. RH






2010 April






2010 May






2010 June













Career Overall






Career vs. LH






2009 vs. LH






2010 vs. LH






Career vs. RH






2009 vs. RH






2010 vs. RH






2010 April






2010 May






2010 June







  1. Realize that 2010 June is a small sample size, totaling only 54 plate appearences, about half of what Alvarez had in both 2010 April and 2010 May. Still, what he has done so far in June is both amazing and interesting.  The improving plate discipline he had shown so far this year, especially during May (19.6% SO and 15.0% BB) has gone by the wayside in June (31.5% SO and 11.1% BB).  Nevertheless, his batting average has jumped from .226 in April and .300 in May to .375 June thanks to an absolutely absurd .522 BABIP.  Amazingly, this seems to actually correlate to how Alvarez is actually hitting the ball as he sports a 35.5 LD%.  This gives hope that Alvarez has the tools (i.e. is a good enough hitter) to maintain a respectable average in Pittsburgh if his plate discipline never really develops.
  2. As far as Pedro Alvarez's splits when comparing facing right handed pitchers versus left handed pitchers, a reverse split in nearly every category so far in 2010 helps to dispel the notion that he will be exploited in the Major Leagues by good left handed pitchers.  The only stat where a career split is still gaping in disparity is in HR/PA (41.0 LH - 15.9 RH), which has evened out in 2010 (22.7 LH - 18.6 RH).  Even more encouraging perhaps is the LD% split in both Alvarez's career (17.8% LH - 14.0% RH) and in 2010 (18.2% LH - 16.1% RH) which, when one gives into wild speculation, seems to indicate that Pedro "deals" with LH% by shortening his swing and trying to hit more line drives in order to improve his plate discipline and OBP when hitting against LH pitchers.  It also explains the lack of homers when Alvarez faces southpaws.
  3. Overall, Alvarez's has either maintained or improved in several key peripheral categories (OPS, BB%, K%, and LD%) from 2009 to 2010 while facing tougher competition. This leads me to believe that he will become a very good and a very complete hitter in the Majors, and not just a power binge all-or-nothing type of guy.  As far as production (maybe not approach etc.) I like Adrian Gonzalez as a good comparsion from the plate.  Maybe he won't ever be a batting champion, but I think he has prodigous power and won't struggle to stay above the Mendoza line.


  • After watching him play for the Power several times last summer, I've taken an interest in Quincy Latimore (MILB link)  Considered very raw coming out of high school, he was drafted by the Pirates in the fourth round of the '07 draft and bought out of a commitment to NC State.  Only 5'10, he has shown surprising power (11HR in 479 AB) and power potential for his size.  Playing for the Low Class A WV Power last year, he finished year with postives (.411 SLG) and negatives (.295 OBP due to poor plate discipline) weathering extreme cold spells and enjoying significant hot streaks.  Barely 21 going into the 2010 season, Latimore was promoted to High Class A Bradenton and seemed poised for a breakout.  In April, this looked to be the case as he put up a good SLG% (.476) to go with an improving OBP (.333) to equal a solid OPS (.809), even though it was alongside a continued poor K rate (27% K/PA).  However, since then he has fallen upon hard times, owning an OPS of (.721) for the season.  Still, being raw, toolsy, and 21 in High A ball, he can still be considered a guy worth watching.
  • Everyone loves prospects.  When you are a Pirates fan, this is especially true.  So, here are a few lists that may be interesting. All three incorporate varying degrees of graduation etc.
  1. Link. This list has Pedro Alvarez at #1 and an aggressive ranking with Bryan Morris at #14 (ahead of the likes of Kyle Drabek)
  2. Link. This list has Pedro Alvarez at #3, Sanchez in the #13 slot, and includes Tabata and Lincoln as guys he omitted due to expected graduation in 2010 (which we've seen).
  3. Link. This list is a compilation of voting polls (with albeit a low turn out).  It has Alvarez as #10 and Sanchez as #36.


  • Using (stealing) a post from Geeves linked here, I'd like to talk about some players who seem to be (again stealing) "fall[ing] from grace," namely Lastings Milledge and Andy LaRoche.
  1. First, Lastings Milledge, a former top prospect, who rode potential more than production throughout his minor league career.  He never posted eye popping numbers, instead flashing enticing tools, although he was very young at every level, making his MLB debut with the Mets before his 21st birthday.  While he is quickly wearing out his welcome, I think, due to Milledge's potential (which I still see) and age (barely 25), our lack of immediate options, and the fact that we don't need production right now (I guess this is a separate issue that can be argued, but we aren't trying to win in 2010.) makes me support Milledge getting solid playing time the rest of the year and Milledge having a shot at winning a starting job next year out of spring training.  
  2. Second, Andy LaRoche, another highly rated prospect, was draft by the Dodgers in the 39th round.  Thus, it was his numbers, not his pedigree, that vaulted him up prospect lists.  Unfortunately, those minor league numbers haven't really translated to major league success.  Although he is more squeezed positionally than Milledge is, he still has potential, is still young (26) and has showed flashes of having good value with his glove.  This leads me to my third point/argument
  3. I know that I championed Alvarez's skills and improvement.  Regardless, I'm here to say I think he should be kept down.  (DISCLAIMER: If he isn't brought up in the next week or two like I am suggesting, he needs to stay down until June of next year, which may be a PR disaster.)  Keeping him down helps in three ways, in my opinion.  First, it allows LaRoche to keep playing.  Second, it gives us another year of control over Alvarez.  Third, it gives Alvarez time to work on his glove and his strikeout numbers, which could still use improvement.

Thanks for reading and I look forward to feedback and response.  I had a great time doing in-depth research that led to this Fanpost.  Hopefully, if these are popular enough I'll do more.


This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of the managing editor (Charlie) or SB Nation. FanPosts are written by Bucs Dugout readers.

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