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WTF, Russell?

I don’t worry about losing games. Over the last few years, I have seen enough of that. I worry about losing players. The Pirates aren’t in the kind of position yet where they can afford to lose their players with nothing on the line. I have also mostly been on John Russell’s side since he was dealt such a bad hand in terms of a roster. What he has done with it, though, leaves a lot to be desired. In the past, we’ve all watched games where Russell left his pitchers out too long. Arizona and a distressed Daniel McCutchen come to mind, Matt Capps and the Phillies come to mind too, but both were defensible at least to some extent.

Leaving Evan Meek out there today when he was injured/not well/didn’t have his stuff/generally looked like he was in the wrong place is insane. One big reason for this is the crazy risk that the Pirates seem to be taking with Meek. If Neal Huntington hasn’t spoken to Russell about Meek, he should be doing so soon. In my post on the Park and Resop pickups, I said:

Chan Ho Park- a somewhat surprising pickup, but it might be Neal Huntington trying to protect Evan Meek’s arm from John Russell.

By all accounts, Evan Meek had a disastrous outing today, and that pushed his ERA north of 2. He had an ERA+ of 260 before this game, and although I’ll be the first to admit that ERA and stats derived thereof aren’t useful, that should tell you something about his value, because the other stats back it up. Meek pitched 55 innings in 2009, 8 of which were in AAA. In 2010, he is already at 63, and we are just about halfway through August. Expect him to end around 75 at the very least, which is already 20 more than last year. Add in that he’s pitched higher leverage innings this year, and has unfortunately gone multiple innings on more than a few occasions, and you start to see the fear. Currently, Meek has the 3rd most innings pitched as a reliever in the major leagues in 2010. Really, what is going on here?

His arm is going to fall off, sooner or later. I sincerely hope the Pirates decide to shut him down soon for the year, or if they continue to misuse him in this manner, at least seek to trade him in the offseason, with his value (hopefully) still high. For relievers, I don’t really like the chances of coming back from injuries, nor do I think the wait is particularly worth it. I m not sure here whether Russell is the one calling all shots in this regard, but one way or another, this is likely going to come back to bite the Pirates.

Speaking of rest, how about letting Garrett Jones go back to enjoying the game a little more. Give the guy a day off, John! He’s played non-stop, knowing pretty much that this might be his last shot in the big leagues, thereby adding a little more stress. He’s not old, but he’s not young either- it takes a toll, and this is his first full season. He’s played 113 of the Pirates 115 games this year! Wow! And we have a bunch of players we should be finding playing time for, in order to help make roster decisions. Meanwhile, Jones’ bat takes a plunge, with his OPS now sub-.750.

——

Altoona pulls out a 19 inning thriller against New Hampshire. With 24 baserunners, Altoona only managed to score a total of 4 runs. Tom Boleska pitched 4 shutout innings to get the win and lower his ERA to 0.60. I really wish someone would come up with a detailed report on this guy. I m dying to know more about how his stuff plays, and what we can realistically expect of him. Andrew Lambo, meanwhile, has a hot hot start for Altoona and is now hitting an even .400 (small sample size, of course), and here’s hoping we see him in Indianapolis in 2011.

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