RIP, Bucco Blog

Sad news in the Pittsburgh sports blogosphere, as Bucco Blog is shutting down after 19 months.

Oddly enough, the author is being very cryptic as to the reasons for his departure. Something about making false claims, and disrupting a member of the Pirates organization’s livelihood.

In my case I stated the individual performed a task he said he doesn’t do and that lead to an article on the overall plight of a part of the Pirates’ system.

But that’s just it – when someone with more than a quarter of a century in the industry starts worrying about a fan’s opinion in a blog, whether it’s right or wrong, either I’m doing too good of a job or the medium is too far ahead of those in the game. I believe it is the latter.

Needless to say, every post has been removed from the site, but enthusiastic TheBigLead commenter Ted pulled this off Google Blog Cache:

Hard Pitch Counts and Young Pirate Arms

I happen to be one of a handful of believers that pitch counts matter when developing young pitchers. By young, I mean less than 600 innings in the major leagues. Until a pitcher reaches that level, I am of the opinion they have to be handled with kid gloves.

There are conditional limits as well. In March and early April as young pitchers are stretching out, once they hit 25 pitches in an inning an alarm should sound in the pitching coach’s mind. At 30 pitches they should be pulled or the pitcher faces injury from poor mechanics while fatigued, as an example.

If you have read my blog than you know I have been tracking Burnett, JvB, and Bullington’s pitch counts very closely. I’ve talked here about how abusive it was in my mind for Burnett to have to throw 39 times off the mound in the 2cd inning May 30th and then forced to pitch the 3rd inning where he threw another 37.

That’s off the wall ridiculous and sure enough, he was put on the DL two days later with arm fatigue.

The same was true with Bullington who threw 37 pitches in the 4th inning on May 20th then was asked to go back out and pitch the 5th and 6th. On June 10th he was also put on the DL with a tired arm.

Getting back to Zach Duke, on June 17th he threw 34 pitches in the 4th inning and then tossed two more innings after that. Now he is also headed to the DL.

But Duke is much more established and healthier than Bullington and Burnett who are both rehabbing from surgeries, so the 34 pitches shouldn’t have been an issue.

Until you consider this — on March 18th, just one month after reporting to spring training this year, Duke was forced to stretch out the 4th inning against the Yankees by making 39 tosses off the mound before Colborn came out with the hook.

In my book, that is exceedingly high that early after reporting to camp.

I’m not suggesting that Duke’s March 18th appearance is what ultimately lead to his inflammation, but it certainly couldn’t have helped. Inflammation typically occurs when there is an injury of some sort – it’s the body’s way of saying something is not right.

In defense of Colborn and the Pirates, I haven’t reviewed all the film on the rest of the staff to see if any of the other Pirates young starters have been as exposed as Duke. My initial guess is that only Maholm could have been, but I don’t know.

One thing is certain – there are teams who have what seem to be silly per inning hard pitch count limits on their young starters to protect them – from the majors all the way down through their farm system.

But maybe it’s not so silly.

The Pirates draft a lot of finesse pitchers then seem to burn them out by making them pitch through extended innings. Burnett and Duke are two examples, and both have been said to have “easy mechanics”. But that doesn’t seem to have made a difference.

And how about Johnny V lately?

I warned my readers to put a red flag by his name after the Pirates had him toss 35 pitches in his last inning of work June 21st. Sure enough, in his next start June 26th he ended up walking 26% of the batters he faced, tossed another 28 pitch 4th inning, and didn’t even come out to pitch the 5th. Keep him in your red flag notebook.

I can’t explain why it’s happening, but it is, and it’s being overlooked a lot in the Pirates system. Even Youman has had a 40 pitch inning this year.

That has to change, and fast. There needs to be more accountability.

Otherwise, our rotation might end up being Snell, Rogers, Bayliss, Kuwata, and Armas here real soon, and Jose Hernandez might be throwing innings at Indy.

July 01, 2007 at 04:40 AM in Joliet Jake’s Take Permalink Comments (0).

Take it how you want, its a fan’s opinion. This may or may not be the reason that Bucco Blog was grounded. If it is, then I think its kinda weak on the Pirates part, especially if there was some sort of coercion coming from their end.

Did Colborn threaten Joliet Jake? Were the Pirates mad that a blogger called them out? We may never know. But I guess speculation is now a dangerous tool.

Blogs are here to be voices of the fans, rather than waiting for some media puppet to put out a press release from the organization themselves. PSaMP has had some choice words for people within the Buccos organization, but the opinions don’t stop there. I’ll criticize the Steelers and Pens if need be. I’ve criticized ESPN, Colin Cowherd, ESPN ombudsman Le Anne Schreiber, Bryan Murray, etc. What if any one of those entities comes crying foul for something that a fan wrote? It kinda makes you look over your shoulder a bit more.

So I’ll pour some out for Bucco Blog. After blogging for 19 months, its odd that the author would just fold in a few days, leaving only an erased archive and a smokey explanation.

The Pittsburgh sportsblog community lost one of their own today, and readers, despite their status in the sports world, should understand the sadness PSaMP feels about Bucco Blog’s departure.

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