What the Buckley? RC27 and rumor tidbits

It seems Larry Corrigan’s presence is starting to be felt with the Pirates naming Long Beach State assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Troy Buckley as their new pitching rover.

Buckley was drafted by the Twins when Corrigan was in Ryan’s front office and had scouted him during high school and college.

Well, those that weren’t laughing at Neal Huntington in the industry certainly are roaring now.

I don’t believe a college coach has ever been handed the responsibility of developing professional pitchers in the farm in the history of the game of baseball. If it has happened, I certainly can’t find it.

And what makes this hire all that more dubious is that Buckley wasn’t even a pitcher in his professional career. Yes, he tossed some innings, but only because his value as a minor league utility player was worthless and he had a live arm. But that didn’t work out either. So he went on to coaching.

First as the Expos hitting instructor in AAA and then he became their pitching coach in the short Gulf Coast League for a year. From 1998-2000 he was a hitting coach with Division I Santa Clara University, in 2001 hitting coach for Division I Long Beach State and has been their pitching coach ever since.

A Division I hire. Is this what we’ve become with Huntington? How brutal is that?

As a fan I don’t know what to say. Are the Pirates bringing back Gary Ruby as a consultant on the quiet because of last years problem he had? Is Huntington just not able to attract any professional pitching instructor to fill this role at all?

More importantly, why do we have a shocking lack of interest in a pitching rover’s role in the organization since Ruby left mid-year and now again with this administration?

There HAS to be more to this story than we are hearing or else Huntington has a lot more problems than any of us can even imagine.

This is an extremely poor hire, no disrespect to Mr. Buckley and his opportunity.

The generated RC27 (runs created per 27 outs) for the Pirates last year was 4.47. That means, we fielded nine players who together created an average of 4.47 runs per 27 outs.

The generated RC27 for each position is below:

RC27 Position
5.83 right
5.57 first
5.46 center
5.07 second
4.94 left
4.65 third
4.62 shortstop
4.27 catcher
-0.14 pitcher

This is important because, in order to win more games, you have to score more runs by increasing the team’s average RC27 output offensively or decrease the average RC27 allowed on defense. It’s that simple.

The two glaring holes in the graph above are left and third – both under 5 runs per game, and you can see why the team is concerned about their catching with just a combined 4.27 from their receivers.

The Pirates were said to be interested in Micheal Barrett and on paper neither his defense or offense will significantly upgrade the team. That’s where makeup issues and projectability come into play when two players are that close and only the Pirates pro scouts and front office can make those calls.

Johnny Estrada is another Ronny Paulino – an exact duplicate. There’s no win there. The Pirates would be better off dealing for a younger receiver with some upside.

Josh Wilson and Chris Gomez are upgrades over Matt Kata and Don Kelly, but are not upgrades to Bautista who should be on the pine in a utility role and Jose Castillo or Caesar Izturis. Here we went backwards but it should be said we shouldn’t see either of these two much anyway if we field a healthy team.

Morgan Ensberg is a solid upgrade to Bautista at third offensively and a trade off defensively. Unfortunately with Ensberg’s aging, and not knowing what he is asking, it’s hard to say whether he is worth a look or not because the Pirates would have to probably overpay to get him. Plus, even with him taking half the at bats with Bautista, that will net the Pirates about +1 win so they would have to pay him $4M or less for it to be worth it.

Inge isn’t an option at $19M unless the Tigers eat about half that, be my guess. He’s a better defender and his bat should translate well moving from the AL to the NLCD, but is he a +2 win guy over Bautista and a Gomez or Neil Walker? Not on my card he isn’t, at least not paying $6.3M per. At $4M he breaks us even.. is that worth it? Naw.

The Pirates are better off letting Walker break camp and just choke down his replacement level production for the year.

As for left, all we can do is hope Bay comes back into form and we’ll be fine there. I suspect he will. If he’s dealt, McLouth can cover for him and at least put up near 5 runs per game based on his productivity so far.

But our pitchers.. wow, do we need help or what? If they increased their overall productivity just 1 run per 27 outs, and we gained nothing else from the other 8 positions, that would be +2 wins.

And that’s possible – Morris has a decent bat and will be eating a lot more innings and if Bullington happens to break camp as the 5th starter he can make contact at least. But it’s painful to see Gorzelanny and Snell’s negative RC27 production because these two guys go the deepest in games.

This is a way the Pirates can sneak a couple more wins – by pushing batting practice on their pitching staff. Just make contact guys.


I heard the Estrada whispers but it doesn’t make any sense as I mentioned above.

I heard the Pads interest in Nady again, but Nady gets more than Barrett so what else is in the deal? Nothing I’m hearing. Probably more recycled stuff.

There’s more talk about Bay to two clubs but I think it’s recycled stuff again. I’ll try to run more info down.

And lastly, there is more talk about interest in Duffy again.. now a second team may inquire. I doubt he goes anywhere though.

Keep tuned in – I believe it’s going to get active sooner than you think.