Earlier, we heard the Pirates may bat Andrew McCutchen second in an attempt to better optimize their lineup. That’s not the only optimization planned, writes Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Slow footed John Jaso may bat first so the club can take advantage of his high OBP – especially against right-handed pitching. As manager Clint Hurdle notes, the expected effect of an optimized lineup might come out to only one or two extra wins over the course of a season. Of course, it’s also right to note that expected and actual production can diverge for numerous statistical reasons.
Here’s more out of Pittsburgh:
- Juan Nicasio’s ability to command the fastball will determine if he can have an impact as a starting pitcher, writes Sawchik. The veteran righty has pitched well this spring with 16 strikeouts, three walks, and no runs allowed in 10 innings. Nicasio is now a viable alternative to Jon Niese, Jeff Locke, or Ryan Vogelsong. However, he might be better suited for relief work since his velocity played up to 96 mph out of the Dodgers bullpen last season. He’s sat 92 to 95 mph this spring as a starter.
- While pitching coach Ray Searage gets the credit for the Pirates ample success with starting pitchers, it’s an organization-wide philosophy, writes Rob Biertempfel of the Pittburgh Tribune-Review. Jim Benedict, now with the Marlins, helped to develop the philosophy. Now it falls to others in the organization like Double-A pitching coach Justin Meccage to continue implementing their proven techniques. While baseball strategy is important, Searage cites communication and trust as the keys to the Pirates Way.
- The Pirates have changed their policy for pre-arbitration players after the brouhaha with Gerrit Cole, GM Neal Huntington said on MLB Network Radio. Huntington admits the policy was probably outdated before the incident with Cole. Previously, the club followed strict policies for setting pre-arbitration salaries. Teams do this to minimize the need for negotiations over relatively small amounts of money. A set policy can also help to avoid hurt feelings or disputes. Obviously, that wasn’t the case here.