Here's the Stats Geek with an alarming article on walks - the Pirates give up way too many of them, and take too few of them. The chart showing the walk rates of the Pirates' pitchers is absolutely scary - several of their walk rates are among the worst in the league, and the only Bucs pitchers who are both better than league average in that category and likely to be back next year are Zach Duke and Mark Redman.
Here are the really nasty walk rates and the possible reasons for them:
|Ryan Vogelsong, 4.46||stinks|
|Kip Wells, 4.81||headcase?|
|Ian Snell, 5.14||youth, sample size|
|Mike Gonzalez, 5.72||injuries|
|Oliver Perez, 5.79||mechanical problems, arm problems, headcase... you name it|
All these guys except Wells are very likely to be back next year. Vogelsong remains unlikely to pitch many innings that matter and the Pirates can expect some improvement from Snell and Gonzalez, but the current problem is so severe that it could get a lot better and still be a problem.
On the hitting side, the Geek sums up the Pirates' problems nicely: "To sum up, the Pirates are sixth in the league in hits but 13th in on-base average (.323) and 14th in runs scored largely because of this chronic walk shortage."
As if you didn't know already, batting average isn't everything. Walks aren't the end-all, but when the Pirates' batters deliver so few of them it puts tremendous pressure on other facets of their offense.
Elsewhere in the Post-Gazette, the Pirates and Jason Bay are negotiating a deal that could go for five years or longer. Just five years seems like a very risky proposition to me; more than that seems crazy, unless Bay is willing to accept a tiny yearly salary or those years include team options. Five years is a very long time.