May 20, 2010

Notes: McCutchen Is A Legit Superstar

PITTSBURGH, Pa. / May 20, 2010

Gene Collier's Post-Gazette column today is skating out there like a Marc Savard, just waiting for a cheap shot. While concluding that John Russell deserves a contract extension, Collier does so mainly by way of criticizing JR. It's not completely clear that Collier doesn't mean his conclusion ironically. But Jonathan Swift he isn't, so I'll shoot away, cheaply, at his first point:

Does John Russell have the teeth to do what Florida Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez did this week, upbraid his loafing superstar in public and then bench him pending an apology?

I know, what superstar?

Russell ain't got no superstar and might never encounter such a scenario...

Andrew McCutchen has been up for almost a year now and the results are:

.297/.370/.477, 101 runs, 36 doubles, 9 triples, 17 home runs, 67 RBI, 67 BB, 110 K, 34/43 stolen bases

Hanley Ramirez's stats in that same time period:

.330/.401/.522, 90 runs, 32 doubles, 1 triple, 23 home runs, 102 RBI, 60 BB, 87 K, 22/28 stolen bases

So basically Cutch is performing only slightly worse than Hanley right now. Ramirez is driving in more runs but scoring and stealing less often than Cutch, mainly because of their batting order positions.

McCutchen is also three years younger than Hanley and has never had his effort questioned. At this point in Hanley's career he had the same stats McCutchen has now. Would you trade them straight up? I wouldn't.

The tendency in this town is to believe every player on the Pirates is bad while every player on the Steelers and Penguins is the opposite. Don't believe the hype.

Taschner Disabled / Donnelly Recalled
In order to clear room for Brendan Donnelly, Jack Taschner was sent to the 15-day disabled list. According to Neil Huntington, "Jack has had some soreness and tightness, and we felt it best to give him more than ample time to get back to full health, while not leaving ourselves a pitcher short during this long stretch of games. It is our expectation he will be ready to come off the DL as soon as he is eligible."

In other words, Taschner is more hittable than hurt. Disabled list manipulation is nothing new; witness Donnie Veal last year. Jack Taschner has no real role in this bullpen - at this point he's a second lefty who only comes in in blowouts. Jack is a veteran who worked hard to get better for this season but it just hasn't happened. The bullpen is stronger without him.

Macha's Last Game?
According to every source including this WFC Blog, Brewers manager Ken Macha is on the hot seat. If he goes with the grey Brewers shirt again today it might be that he just didn't expect to be with the team long enough to pack a change of clothes for this road trip.

Macha did nothing to help himself last night, leaving an obviously exhausted Randy Wolf in the game to give up the tying and winning runs in the seventh inning. It's also worth noting Ryan Braun's selfish attempt at stealing second, down two runs in the ninth inning. Braun's certainly a player who's out for individual stats, but his actions in the ninth inning are the type of thing usually only done by a guy who expects to be around longer than his boss.

At best a manager is only as good as his players, and the Brewers' poor start isn't because of managing. But a Brewer loss today would make nine in a row, and something has to give.

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