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Series Preview: Pirates

April 25, 2011

Dodger Stadium. PETCO Park. Coors Field. Ugh. Sure, the games themselves could have gone worse, but the Giants drew a couple of terrible road trips to start off the season with. Meanwhile, the Rockies and their 14-7 record were beating up on the Pirates and the Mets. Not fair or not fair? Definitely, not fair. But now Matt Cain and co. have the chance to re-gain some ground versus the laughing stock(s) of 2011 while Dinger has to face the challenge of leading his team against the powerhouse that is the…Cubs? Okay, still not fair. Oh well.

Anyways, the Pirates. Wait, no, these Pirates. The good news is that they have a team FIP of 4.42. The bad news is that they can take a walk. Or at least more walks than the Giants. Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata, Neil Walker, Garrett Jones, and Lyle Overbay have drawn more walks than San Francisco’s entire roster. The punchline? Brandon Belt is leading the Giants with 8, and he’s now in Fresno. Joy. But just in case you were thinking there’s actually hope for the Pirates, let me introduce you to Pedro Alvarez, who has played all 21 games. He has a BABIP of .313 and an average of .216. Ouch. That poor BABIP needs a new home. How about Aubrey Huff? Or Miguel Tejada? Or even Brandon Belt. They would be wonderful parents, and it’d actually be put to good use.

Lucky for us, the walks taketh, and the walks giveth. The Pirates have the lowest K/BB ratio at 1.70, complimented by a HR/9 of 1.01. Charlie Morton, who is set to face Cain tomorrow, has a K/BB of 0.80. Madison Bumgarner‘s is 0.90. And we thought we had problems?

The real story of this series however, has nothing to do with numbers. Or at least, it has nothing to do with numbers with decimal points. Word on the street is that Ryan Vogelsong is set to start Thursday’s game against Jeff Karstens. He last started a Major League game for Pittsburgh on September 29, 2004. In five innings he gave up 4 hits and 3 walks, struck out none, and got the loss. But he only allowed for one run. You could almost say he got Cain’d.  Now, 7 years later, Vogelsong is back. This time he’s coming off a mere 4.2  (Oops! A decimal point. I lied.) innings in 2 games. But he has 3 strike outs, 0 walks, 3 hits, and no runs. Its hard to believe that a once top prospect, now 33 year old washout lefty with control problems might have finally “gotten it”. Its harder still to not want it to happen very, very badly. Baseball is all about stories, and what a story! For him. For Dave Righetti. For Brian Sabean. Even for J.T. Snow and Robb Nen, and Mark Gardner, who were the veteran presence when Vogelsong got called up and are the coaches now.

There aren’t very many second chances in baseball, but Vogelsong has landed one of them. A chance to come home.

“I’m a little bit more mature,” Vogelsong said. “I’m able to think in certain situations instead of just throwing. I could always figure stuff out before, but maybe it was two or three hitters late — or an inning late. I think I’m able to concentrate a little bit better and make adjustments on the fly.”  (Source)

Maybe…just maybe, he’ll be able to stay.

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