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-The Stats Geek toys with the 2006 lineup. Here's Pat with some pretty interesting tinkering of his own. ZiPS and Baseball Musings' lineup analysis tool says that starting Jeromy Burnitz instead of Craig Wilson in right will cost the Pirates 31 runs, which, while speculative, is pretty incredible. And Pat's right - there's no way Burnitz makes up half that amount with his defense.

One problem with the run totals Pat is coming up with, though, is that (I think) they assume that the Pirates' better players will be getting 100% of the playing time, which of course they won't. (This is an addendum to rather than a criticism of what Pat did, since Pat admits there are shortcomings.) There will be injuries, Humberto Cota will probably play at least 60 games, and so on. The simulator predicts the Pirates will score 721 runs; actually, it will probably be lower than that.

-The Altoona Curve will remain a Pirates' affiliate through at least the 2010 season.

-Here's Dayn Perry's NL Central preview. The brief Pirates section is basically just a list of questions:

1. Will Oliver Perez get back on track and pitch as he did in 2004?
2. Will the Pirates' other promising young lefties ? Zach Duke, Paul Maholm, Sean Burnett?also meet with success?
3. Will GM Dave Littlefield do something out of character and flip some vets at the deadline for useful prospects?
4. On the farm, will top hitting prospects Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen make progress this season?

It's funny; I'm writing a "five questions" preview of the Pirates for Hardball Times, and my first and second questions are almost identical.

-Here's a Sports Illustrated feature on Jason Kendall.

-Ed Eagle says that Jeromy Burnitz and Sean Casey have been "extremely durable during their careers." Burnitz, sure, but Casey?