A nice win Friday night in Los Angeles as the Pirates started a six-game west coast road trip against the two NL West leaders. Two hits and a great defensive play by Andrew McCutchen once again raise hopes that he has figured out how to actually be, you know, Andrew McCutchen. Obviously that would go a long way to ensuring the Bucs make the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season.
Jung Ho Kang sat last night and has now started only 13 of the 24 games since the All-Star break and only two since August 4. We can all speculate as to the impact of the events of June 17 and the ensuing sexual assault allegations on Kang's performance, but it appears Kang has lost his job as the Pirates starting third baseman. Coincidence, correlation or causation, who knows exactly, but the Pirates are 10-1 in games NOT started by Jung Ho since the ASB and 2-11 in games he has started. Do with that what you will. If I'm Clint Hurdle, Kang goes the way of Gregory Polanco down the stretch in 2014 and only gets 1-2 starts a week.
I had some great guests on the show this week that I thought I'd link to if anyone would like to listen to the podcasts. On Monday I spoke with Pirates beat writer Travis Sawchik about his interview with GM Neal Huntington, thoughts on the deadline and the mood in the Pirates clubhouse. On Tuesday I spoke with Mike Petriello of MLB.com. Mike and I talked about the evolution of technology in MLB stadiums and specifically the data that is gradually becoming widely available, Pitch Fx, exit velocity, launch angles, spin rates, route efficiency and throw velocity among other things. We talked about how he analyzes the data, how major league teams and specific players are parsing and using the data and what is on the horizon in the months and years ahead.
On Wednesday and Thursday Joe Sheehan and Jonah Keri joined me. Joe is a weekly guest (usually Tuesdays) and this week we discussed ARod and the impact of PEDs. Joe (and Keith Law) is generally of the believe that there is no evidence that PEDs make baseball players better and, if I may paraphrase as best I can, believes the Steroid Era of the late '90s, early '00s is mislabeled. We followed that with a wide-ranging talk about the races going on right now. Jonah joined me Thursday. We hit on some of the same topics. Jonah and I share the view that PEDs did have an impact on the game and just because it isn't easily quantifiable, that doesn't mean it didn't exist. I also asked him whether he was outraged by the Pirates' moves at the deadline (Joe, like Charlie, generally thinks the Liriano trade was, for lack of a better term, a disgrace and something, with today's revenue sharing setup, that should never happen). We finished up with a look at the race in the NL West and for the NL wild card.
I also had my weekly Pirates discussion with Bob Smizik (Part 1 and Part 2) on Thursday. I know there are some here who view Bob as a dinosaur when it comes to baseball analysis. That couldn't be further from the truth. He's one of my favorite guests and, if you have a listen to this, I think you'll be more than convinced that Bob is right on top of what is going on.