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.
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.
GET IT? IT'S A BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN SONG REFERENCE SLIPPED COVERTLY INTO A TAKE ABOUT WHAT A WORTHLESS FIELDER PEDRO ALVAREZ IS! THIS IS PROFESSIONAL SPORTSWRITING PEOPLE, PLEASE STEP BACK!
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."
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 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.