Monday, October 26, 2015

0 comments Rob Rossi Has Some Strong Opinions Not Necessarily Supported by Facts or His Own Opinion

The Pittsburgh Pirates lost to the Chicago Cubs in the terrible, no-good one game Wild Card playoff. Rob Rossi thinks this is an important offseason for the Pirates, but he also thinks some of the Pirates best players are probably at-fault for this one game playoff loss. Rob Rossi states Gerrit Cole is not good enough and Andrew McCutchen has too many earrings. His takes are all overreactions and a sad attempt to simply blame someone, ANYONE, for the Pirates failings in the ridiculous one game Wild Card playoff.

I'll start first with Rossi's issues about Gerrit Cole just not being good enough for the Pirates. He's a bum and the city of Pittsburgh deserves much than him.

More winning. Less jawing. And better pitching.

The Pirates need all of that in the biggest games from Gerrit Cole. 

While admitting that Gerrit Cole didn't pitch his best against the Cubs, let's also understand that the Pirates scored zero runs. Gerrit Cole could have thrown a nine inning perfect game and the Pirates still would not have beaten the Cubs without the game going to extra innings. So blame Cole, but also understand the Pirates' batters didn't score any runs for Cole. He can't win a game if his offense doesn't score a run.

Cole was horrendous and the reason the Pirates never were in position to win a National League wild-card game they lost to the Chicago Cubs, 4-0.

He needed to stick around for more than five innings.

He needed to not allow a first-inning run, then a two-run homer in the third and a solo shot in the fifth.

He needed more first-pitch strikes. 

Cole could have stuck around for nine innings, allowed zero home runs, and thrown a first-pitch strike to every single better he faced. It wouldn't have mattered because Jake Arrieta gave up zero runs too. 

No, the Pirates didn't go out there and give it to the Cubs. Cole did, though.

His margin for error was not slim. It was none. 

And of course, because his margin for error was none then it is Cole's fault the Pirates lost the one game Wild Card playoff. The fact Cole didn't pitch well was unfortunate. The issue is that even if Cole pitched extraordinarily, it still wouldn't have even mattered. The Pirates were going to lose the game because they couldn't score runs against Jake Arrieta. The fact Gerrit Cole could have given up zero runs and pitched nine innings, yet still not win the game, reflects on his team as much as giving up four runs in five innings reflects on him. 

As soon as he gave up that first run, the Pirates were done. Cole gave up that first run before he recorded an out. 

Doesn't this say something about the Pirates hitters as well? If Cole gives up one run and the Pirates have lost, is it really his fault the Pirates lost because he gave up a run? 

Another postseason blacked-out crowd would have been better off had Cole never stepped onto the mound. Or if ceremonial first-pitcher Bob Walk had stayed on the mound. 

Walk's career postseason record: 1-4, 4.50 ERA, 1.143 WHIP.
Cole's career postseason record: 1-2, 3.94 ERA, 0.875 WHIP.

Seems like Walk wasn't exactly much better than Cole has been in the postseason.

Aces flip the switch. Aces don't flip out.

Cole isn't an ace. He's the Pirates' best starting pitcher. 

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHH! Tough burn there. Gerrit Cole is only the best pitcher on a team of elite baseball players. That must suck.

There is a big difference. 

A huge difference. The difference being a pitcher isn't considered an ace until he wins a big game and the media anoints him an "ace." Cole was 19-8 this season with 208 innings over 32 starts with a 1.091 WHIP, 2.66 ERA and ERA+ of 148. I don't know, I think I would consider that to be an ace. 

Had the Pirates an ace, they might have played more baseball each of these last three Octobers.

An ace, St. Louis' Adam Wainwright, took them out two years ago.

An ace, San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner, took them out last year.

An ace, Chicago's Jake Arrieta, just took them out again. 

I'm guessing that Rob Rossi knows baseball is a team game. What's funny is the second article I post here from Rossi is where he tears into the Pirates batting lineup for not scoring enough runs in the postseason. So it's Cole's fault that Wainwright, Bumgarner and Arrieta have shut the Pirates out in the postseason over the last three years? The Pirates keep running into really hot pitchers who are able to shut them out. But again, it's more simple to blame Gerrit Cole AND blame the Pirates batting lineup in separate articles. That way no reader gets confused and may think pushing blame on to one person is ridiculous and sees through Rossi's act. His "act" being that he individually blames Gerrit Cole for the Pirates loss in the one game Wild Card playoff, while also blaming the Pirates batting lineup for not scoring enough runs. He has to separate them out so it's harder to see the idiocy of individually blaming Cole.

The Pirates have scored one run in their past three postseason games. Two of those were wild-card contests. The other was on the road in a decisive Game 5 of the division series. 

And of course, this is probably Gerrit Cole's fault too. How come Gerrit Cole can't pitch every playoff game and throw a shutout in every game? He's not an ace if he can't do this. 

Top-end talent is what plays when a season is on the line, and the Pirates aren't competitive at postseason baseball's most important position. 

Which for the purposes of this column is starting pitching. In his next column, Rossi will claim the most important position in baseball is first base, which is why he advocates for the Pirates to trade for a power-hitting first baseman so they can finally win a playoff series and get to the World Series. What's important for the Pirates to succeed will change depending on the point Rossi wants to prove. 

That would be starting pitching.

The Giants.

The Cardinals.

The Dodgers.

The Cubs.

Those clubs can throw aces. Right now. 

Well, the Giants can't throw aces right now because they aren't in the playoffs. Regardless if the Pirates can throw a string of Hall of Famers at opposing teams or a string of pitchers who haven't pitched above Triple-A, it doesn't matter as long as the Pirates offense can't score runs. 

Cole might become one. Cole probably will become one.

Rob Rossi earlier in this column: 

Aces flip the switch. Aces don't flip out.

Cole isn't an ace.

So what's the suggestion by Rossi to fix this? Gerrit Cole isn't an ace, but will probably become one. So he's not good enough for the Pirates right now? What if he turns into an ace next year, you know, since he's probably going to end up being an ace and all? Will he be good enough for the Pirates at that point?

The ridiculousness of saying Cole is not an ace, so the Pirates need to find an ace so they can win a playoff series and then writing, "Cole will probably become an ace" can not be understated. It's a poorly-thought out and constructed column designed only to get a reaction. In that aspect, Rob Rossi has had great success.

He's 25 and has pitched fewer than three full seasons.

He'll be great. 

Great or just the Pirates best pitcher? Because THERE'S A DIFFERENCE!

He just might not be great enough in time for the Pirates to win while Andrew McCutchen is still great. 

Oh by the way, for the purposes of this column Andrew McCutchen IS great. In the next column Rossi writes, McCutchen will no longer be great and he's a guy who needs to start delivering in the postseason. Again, Rossi takes whatever position he needs to take at that very moment without a single thought of how he contradicts himself over time. 

Or even while McCutchen is still a Pirate.

And that's a big problem. 

McCutchen is a free agent after the 2018 season. I have a feeling Cole will be considered an "ace" at that point, but what good is all of this if the Pirates can't score runs? Gerrit Cole may not have been the pitcher for the Pirates that Arrieta was for the Cubs this year, but putting blame on him for the offense's failures is ridiculous. Even if Cole had pitched a perfect nine innings the Pirates still couldn't have beaten Arrieta and the Cubs. 

Rossi then continues writing his Plaschke-esque one sentence paragraphs (perhaps Plaschke is his idol? They seem to have the same reactionary "let's make a huge issue where there isn't one" type of writing style when the local team fails) where he provides some advice to Neal Huntington about the Pirates "reboot" this offseason. Rossi is apparently bothered by the earrings that Andrew McCutchen wears and thinks he's not clutchy.

So no, it won't be easy. But this is what Huntington should do between now and next Opening Day:

• Re-sign J.A. Happ to replace A.J. Burnett as the No. 3 starter. 

Gerrit Cole isn't good enough for the Pirates, but paying up for a 33 year old starter with a career ERA of 4.13, a guy who has never thrown for more than 172 innings in a season (and did it this year in his contract year...that NEVER happens), and has a career WHIP of 1.367 is just a brilliant idea. How could re-signing a career 4th or 5th starter as the Pirates 3rd starter after he has had a career year EVER be a bad idea? There are so many red flags around J.A. Happ in my mind, but I'm not the expert that Rob Rossi is. Gerrit Cole is just the Pirates best pitcher, while J.A. Happ is a third starter. 

• Trade closer Mark Melancon to Anaheim for Hector Santiago, who can become the fourth starter. 

Who give a fuck if the Angels want to do this trade or not? Just fucking do it without the Angels approval. Get Rob Manfred on the phone to approve the trade now. 

• Remind every American League club that Pedro Alvarez's big bat is back. 

Because when requesting the Pirates find more offense, it's good to trade a player with a "big bat" that is still under team control until after the 2017 season. 

"The Pirates need more offense! Trade one of their best home run hitters!"

If only Alvarez could handle a corner infield position.

If only the National League would adopt the designated-hitter rule. 

Two straight one sentence paragraphs. It's not totally infuriating, but is definitely slightly infuriating to me. Don't write like a seven year old writes. Try writing full paragraphs.

If only Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band would get back on the road. 

A baseball sportswriters who loves Bruce Springsteen? I don't believe it at all. Can this be true? Baseball sportswriters rarely love Bruce Springsteen. 

The Pirates can't keep dancing in the dark when it comes to Alvarez. 


He can't field, but the light is back on when it comes to his power. 

If only there were a Journey reference in this column I could say if Alvarez goes to San Francisco and hits poorly "When the lights go down in the city and sun shines on the bay" is the time when Alvarez joined the Giants.  

An excellent home run-to-fly ball ratio (HR/FB) is at or above 20 percent. Alvarez is 22.5 percent for his career, and he was 10 percent better than that this past season. 

Well that's certainly not fluky at all. I'm sure Alvarez will continue to hit 10% better than his career average for the rest of his career. American League teams are stupid though. I'm sure they don't care about silly things like "statistics" or the idea of "regression." 

The return might not be great, but Huntington should be able to move Alvarez to an AL peer whose need is a DH. 

Again, just force an AL team to trade for him. Might as well ask Rob Manfred to force this trade through while you are on the phone with him about forcing through the Hector Santiago trade. 

Move on to the answer for the question people are starting to ask. 

"People" being defined as "Rob Rossi and select sports radio callers who are idiots." Two people ask the question and all of a sudden "people" are starting to ask questions. 

Why isn't Andrew McCutchen an MVP-caliber player in the postseason? 

Isn't this article about how the Pirates don't have good hitters in the lineup and they need to improve the pitching staff and their hitting? Well, there is your answer why McCutchen might not hit well in smaller sample sizes against better teams. McCutchen is hitting .321/.441/.357 for his career in the postseason by the way. 

No home runs.

No RBIs.

No big moments. 

He does have six at-bats in 34 plate appearances. His playoff walk rate is 17.6%, while his career walk rate (with a much larger sample of course) is 12.1%. It seems like he either has a better eye in the postseason or he's not getting a ton to hit when he comes up to the plate. 

Criticism of his underwhelming Octobers is fair, deserved and no different than what is directed at the Penguins' Sidney Crosby and the Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger. 

Sure, criticize him for his lack of power. It makes sense, but he's still getting on-base. He's just not hitting for power. 

Crosby owns a championship ring.

Roethlisberger owns two championship rings.

McCutchen owns earrings. 

It may be best to go back in time and just delete these three sentences/paragraphs (for Rob Rossi, a sentence is a paragraph apparently), because this is an embarrassment. Andrew McCutchen is by all accounts a really nice guy and Rossi has to make a snide comment about him having "earrings" as opposed to championship rings. What a joke. 

The Pirates have jumped overboard with all their “Ps.”

Pride is great.

Passion is wonderful.

Postseason is fun.

Passable is old. 

And it's all Gerrit Cole's fault! Wait, this isn't the column where Cole is getting blamed? 
(Rossi checks his notes) 

Oh yeah, it's all Andrew McCutchen's fault because he hasn't produced big moments, big hits and has earrings. Well, it's not really his fault, but for the sake of argument and the need for attention let's pretend that it is.

That last “P” word is the best adjective to describe the first basemen and cleanup hitters who have played with McCutchen. 

And this obviously has nothing to do with the Pirates scoring 1 run in their last three postseason games nor does it have anything to do with why Andrew McCutchen hasn't produced big moments. It seems that Rossi's reasoning for the Pirates struggles revolves entirely around the lineup, yet he feels the need to blame individuals because that's what gets the attention. 

As evidence, the prosecution points to the Pirates' lineup for this year's National League wild-card game.

Role player Sean Rodriguez started at first base. Free swinger Starling Marte batted fourth. 

And McCutchen only went 2-4 in the Wild Card game. If he had only hit five home runs, then the Pirates could have won the game and Gerrit Cole wouldn't be such a terrible pitcher. Cole would have gotten a win and become an ace. Andrew McCutchen is holding back Gerrit Cole's development as an ace for the Pirates. 

But, members of the jury, let's not stop at the latest wild-card lineup. 

I don't know why Rossi is doing a "fake attorney" bit, but I'm not playing along. 

In 2014, the Pirates placed Gabby Sanchez at first and Russell Martin in the cleanup spot.

In 2013, Justin Morneau filled both roles. 

Again, perhaps focus more on this and less on Cole and McCutchen's "struggles" in the postseason. It seems the reason for the Pirates not winning a playoff series can be found when looking at McCutchen's supporting cast. 

The prosecution would also like to introduce as evidence a couple of Chicago Cubs from Wednesday night: Kris Bryant, the No. 3 hitter, and behind him, first baseman Anthony Rizzo.

Why, yes, that 1-2 punch in the 3-4 holes did seem to rattle Gerrit Cole after the Cubs' leadoff hitter stole second base and scored in the first inning. 

Yes, Gerrit Cole was so rattled that in 8 plate appearances in the game Rizzo and Bryant managed to go 0-7 with a walk (and yes, I know other Pirates pitchers faced Rizzo and Bryant, but the point is Rossi is introducing these two players as evidence of what "real" #3 and #4 hitters are and they didn't hit as well as McCutchen did in the one game Wild Card playoff). I mean, Cole was scared shitless of these two players. Why can't the Pirates find a #3 hitter and #4 hitter like these two who come up big by not getting a single hit in the one game Wild Card? Instead, the Pirates are stuck with mediocre-ass Andrew McCutchen who struggles at the plate, going 2-4 in the one game Wild Card. 

“Everybody would like to have an anchor in the middle of their lineup in these type of games,” manager Clint Hurdle said Wednesday night. 

But why can't the Pirates just go find guys like this? It should be easy to do. 

They've managed to come this far without answers to two big questions that have been asked at the start, during and at the end of every season since McCutchen arrived.

Who's on first?

Who's batting fourth? 

Notice how this column went quietly from "Why can't McCutchen come up big?" to "Why aren't the players around McCutchen good enough?" Again, Rossi knows blaming McCutchen for not coming up big is a little silly, but he needs to get the attention comments about McCutchen's earrings will provide. 

Huntington has called this offseason “big.” He's underselling it.

It's huge.

Massive. Large. Mammoth. 

It all means about the same thing. They are called "synonyms" and I would think a J-school class probably discussed this at some point. Perhaps Rob Rossi was too busy checking out a classmates' earrings and was distracted during this portion of the lecture.

The Pirates could look to trade with a major league team, but all the best first basemen are going to cost at least a top prospect and probably two.


You are underselling it. It's potentially, perhaps even possibly. 

Huntington could always dangle Marte or Gregory Polanco. 

Oh yes, dangle the free-swinging Starling Marte. He's not good enough for the Pirates, but he's good enough to get a great first baseman back in return through a trade. 

And he should, presuming the Pirates' don't win the rights to Park. Josh Harrison can step into one of the corner outfield spots immediately. 

This is the same Josh Harrison who has slashed .284/.318/.417 with 24 home runs in 1470 at-bats during his career. In the search for a cleanup hitter, it's best to replace a guy who hit 19 home runs last year with a guy who 4 home runs last year. That'll fix everything.

The Pirates have scored two runs in their past four postseason games, all losses.

McCutchen was 1 for 15 with a walk in those games.

He needs protection behind him, not two dreamers in front of him. 

I mean, Josh Harrison could very well be that corner outfielder the Pirates are looking for. Where will he fit in the lineup? Nowhere that Rob Rossi states needs help, because he can't hit cleanup nor can he play first base, but dangle Starling Marte, lose a few home runs in the outfield and then get that great power hitting first baseman the Pirates need so badly. I mean, this great hitting first baseman would have to hit 15 more home runs than Pedro Alvarez hit last year to make up for the loss of Alvarez and Marte (replacing Marte with Harrison in the outfield, 15 home runs are left on the table and then the Pirates trade Alvarez...therefore to replace the power production of Marte and Alvarez the new first baseman would have to hit 15 more home runs than Alvarez did), but I'm sure that won't be an issue. First basemen who hit 40+ homers are easy to find, right? 

Protection is always costly.

Nobody ever regretted paying that cost, though. 

"Nobody" ever regretted paying that cost? You may want to check with the Padres before making this statement. I'm pretty sure they are one of a few teams who have regretted paying for lineup protection. 

Huntington shouldn't hesitate to invest in what remains of McCutchen's prime.

Whatever the cost, it's worth it for the Pirates finally to find that first baseman who can bat fourth. 

And then, once the Pirates find a first baseman who can bat cleanup, this means Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen will no longer be useless bums. Cole will magically turn into an ace and McCutchen will start producing magic moments. It's weird how their teammates improvement will make them individually seen as better baseball players. 

Then let's see what their franchise player can do in a fourth postseason.

He'll probably just hit singles and spend his time on the bench looking online for earrings at fancy jewelry shops in the Pittsburgh area. You know how McCutchen do.