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What were the Pirates doing on defense?

Apr 13, 2010, 8:45 AM EDT

Milledge defense.jpgThe Post-Gazette’s Dejan Kovacevic observed something quite extraordinary: in the early going of the Pirates-Giants game, the Pirates consistently shifted all three outfielders towards right, even with right-handed batters at the plate. This allowed Aaron Rowand’s leadoff double and Mark
DeRosa’s broken-bat, two-run single before the shift was removed. Kovacevic believes that Lastings Milledge could have reached both of those balls had he been positioned properly.

I didn’t watch the game live, but I just now went back and watched the replay on and, yes, the shift was rather ridiculous. The Giants broadcasters began questioning it during Edgar Renteria’s first inning at bat, saying that the Pirates “must have last season’s scouting report,” because unlike last year when Renteria was battling injuries, he can now pull the ball again. Even if that’s the case with Rowand, there’s no word on why they were running it during everyone else’s at bats. And I’ll add that the problem was exacerbated by the fact that the Pirates’ starter Brian Burres is a guy who works the cut fastball inside and that even if he’s not throwing there on purpose — which is rare — he misses inside all the time, which makes pulling the ball into an empty left field pretty damn easy. Just ask Mark DeRosa.

Overall, Kovacevic notes, seven fly balls were hit
to left with no outs recorded “through no fault of his own.
He simply could not cover the ground to get to them, whether because of
foul luck or flawed advance scouting or positioning.”

Pirates baseball: it’s FAN-tastic!

  1. Eat a Peach - Apr 13, 2010 at 9:43 AM

    You got it all wrong, Ashton Kutcher is buddies with Brian Burres and he was directing all of the Pirates’ activities from a luxury suite. This is the resolution of a longstanding argument between Kutcher and Burres as to whether a big-leaguer can be “punked”. Of course they can never admit it or broadcast it, but I figured I’d let you guys here in on it.
    The bottom line is, one million dollars in a suitcase can still make a lot of wonderful things happen in this nutty world of ours.

  2. BC - Apr 13, 2010 at 10:18 AM

    There is a perfect quote to describe this. From the Patches O’Houlihan character in “Dodgeball”:
    “And will someone catch a g—amn ball??!? It’s like watching…”
    I’ll leave the rest out. See this URL for the rest:

  3. Old Gator - Apr 13, 2010 at 10:57 AM

    I think I was preoccupied with a Robert Bresson festival at the Cosford Cinema at Macondo Pyrotechnic the week Dodgeball was released so I must have missed it somehow. Unfortunately, Balthazaar the donkey said nothing at all, and if he had it would have been in French, and the French aren’t very fashionable in America since they proved themselves so much smarter than we were and kept their derrieres out of Iraq, so I don’t have a quote with which to counter yours. However, I would like to point out that in addition to being a young season full of hecatombs of injuries, it also seems to be the time of year for experimentation – weird lineups (Gnats, Reds), weirder fielding alignments, weird financial doings (Tejas). It’s been an entertaining season so far. Why should any of it make sense?

  4. BC - Apr 13, 2010 at 11:16 AM

    I blame it on sunspots. That, or Meg Tilly. I find her annoying.

  5. Ryan - Apr 13, 2010 at 11:36 AM

    Is there any sort of analysis that paints the Pirates in a good light? I mean, could they even rank top 3 in something like the Braddock annual chili cookoff? Or maybe a high score on DDR in the local arcade? Anything?

  6. BC - Apr 13, 2010 at 12:08 PM

    They rank first in the number of guys on their team named Doumit.

  7. Ryan - Apr 13, 2010 at 12:53 PM

    Lastings too 😉

  8. Jeff Akston - Apr 13, 2010 at 1:05 PM

    Great, there goes Milledge’s UZR for the year.

  9. googie - Apr 14, 2010 at 9:58 AM

    I think the more important question is why does Pittsburgh even still have a team ? They have sucked defensively and otherwise for 124 seasons. They are killing the sport and have been for their entire existance. They have NO TALENT of any kind, anywhere and never have. Baseball needs to move or contract this franchise now

  10. goob - Apr 14, 2010 at 10:17 AM

    To be fair, they have sucked for the past 18 seasons (and sucking has been extreme). The hundred or so years before that they were pretty good…they are sixth all time in world series wins.

  11. The Truth - Apr 14, 2010 at 2:41 PM

    googie — Please check out the team fielding stats for 2009. You might be surprised to learn that the Pirates had the FEWEST errors in the Major Leagues (73) and tied the Blue Jays with the BEST fielding percentage in the Majors (.988).
    As “goob” stated, the last 18 years have been bad, as were the late ’40s and early to mid-’50s, and a few years in the ’80s. The rest of franchise’s history has not been too bad, with a number of NL Pennants a several World Series titles thrown in.
    As far as “No talent of any kind, anywhere and never have,” I think you’re being pretty harsh there, too. Currently, I believe quite a few teams could find room on their rosters for Andrew Cutchen and Pedro Alvarez. As far as the “never have” part of that statement, I can only assume you are either less than 10 years or just plain ignorant if the names Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Pie Traynor, Honus Wagner, Paul Waner, Lloyd Waner, Kent Tekulve, Doug Drabek, Ralph Kiner and Bill Mazeroski don’t ring a bell with you.

  12. PNC316 - Apr 14, 2010 at 3:34 PM

    Jake at new bucs ( has been laughing about the Pirates overshift for the last two seasons but only now is it being recognized in mainstream media. Jake mentioned that he believed it was from the Pirates stopping their subscription to professional scouting services and relying solely on video interns and no advance scouts.

  13. The Truth - Apr 14, 2010 at 4:28 PM

    From what I understand, bench coach Gary Varsho has been responsible for setting the Pirates’ outfield defense the last few years. He really pushed moving the outfield to the right last year when Nyjer Morgan was playing left field and Nate McLouth was in center. Morgan (with great speed and the glove on his right hand), in theory, was going to be able to cover PNC Park’s huge left field. It didn’t work with Morgan and they got burnt a number of times last year, too. Yet they stuck with it, even on the road. I don’t understand their fixation with it.

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