Monday, July 26, 2010
Lincoln mercifully sent back to farm
Readers may have noticed a certain first-round pick was left out of the last post about the strides the Pittsburgh Pirates young players are making this season. It wasn't an accident.
Brad Lincoln, the fourth overall selection in the 2006 draft, was really bad through nine starts with the Pirates. His totals came out to a 6.57 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, a 21/14 K/BB ratio in 50 2/3 innings pitched and I'm sure there are some crazy advanced stats Mike could throw out that tell us how terrible Lincoln has been. He never made it past the seventh inning he gave up three or more earned runs in all but one start. Not exactly the spark the team and its fans were hoping the big Texan would provide the team.
Another alarming issue with Lincoln was his velocity at the major league level. He was supposed to be a strikeout pitcher who could overpower hitters. But Pirates fans, and especially the team's opponents have not seen this power arm. Heck, Lincoln's fastball was between 89 and 91 mph in his last outing against the San Diego Padres. Maybe if that was late in the game, like the eighth inning, I wouldn't be concerned. But this was in the third. I'm not asking for him to be topping 100 like Washington Nationals Stephen Strasburg, but hitting 95 consistently would be nice.
Lincoln is only 25, so he still has time to fix some things at AAA. But I can't help but think of other pitchers the Buccos drafted in the first round and worry about what will become of Lincoln. He had major arm surgery (Tommy John) in 2007. Just like just about every other pitcher the Pirates have selected in the first round since I was born. Just about all of these pitchers (Kris Benson, John Van Benschoten, Sean Burnett, etc.) turned out to be huge busts. Benson is pretty much out of baseball, Van Benschoten is getting lit up in High A ball somewhere and Sean Burnett is a mediocre late reliever. With Lincoln's past injury problems and his recent outings, is there any reason to think he won't follow in these former Buccos's footsteps?
It's really tiring to see just about every team draft young pitchers who roar through the farm system and find success at the majors before the age of 25. Tim Lincecum, Yovani Gallardo, David Price, Clayton Kershaw are just a few. When was the last time the Pirates drafted a starting pitcher that had consistent positive results? Paul Maholm is the closest thing we have, and he would be a No. 3 or No. 4 on most teams.
It can't just be bad luck. Maybe the Pirates need to overhaul the scouting system. Maybe they need to take a look at their coaches at the lower levels. Heck, maybe the trainers at these lower levels need to be held accountable.
The truth is, until the Pirates develop a quality staff, it doesn't really matter if their position players grow into good or great players. if you don't have good pitching in the majors, you don't have a chance to consistently make the playoffs. Pirates fans can only hope Lincoln rebounds and becomes the ace the organization thought he could be, but they probably can't help but think "Here we go again."
The Pixies - Debaser