Hit and Run—Cora, Marte, Bullpen

Welcome to The North Shore Nine Hit and Run. This feature is quick post where we hit on a couple of news tidbits, minor transactions, links, etc from the week. Quick being the pivotal word…hopefully I can keep it short and sweet.

Joey Cora—The Pirates are expected to name Joey Cora the team’s new third base coach to replace Rick Sofield, who was fired last week. It’s an internal hire as Cora was manager of Double-A Altoona this year, but he also has big league experience as a player and coach. Cora was primarily a second baseman in his 11-year career that included four stops with the Padres, White Sox and Mariners before last appearing in the Majors in a brief 24 games with the Indians in 1998. Cora was an All-Star with the Mariners in ’97 when he slashed .300/.359/.441.

Cora already has experience as a third base coach as he was part of Ozzie Guillen’s staff with the White Sox when they won a championship in 2005 and also was Guillen’s bench coach with the Marlins in 2012. He most recently led the Altoona Curve to a 76-64 record and worked with a lot of the Pirates prospects. There’s no word yet on who will replace Nick Leyva as the first base coach.

Marte Finalist for Gold Glove—MLB announced the three finalists at each position for gold gloves for 2016 and surprise surprise, Starling Marte’s name was among the finalists at LF along with the Reds Adam Duvall and Christian Yelich.

Marte is looking for his second gold glove of his career after taking home the award in 2015. He followed up his gold glove winning season with another stellar performance in left. Marte produced 19 outfield assists, made just four errors and had an impressive 19 defensive runs saved. Marte produced 24 DRS in 2015, so while his numbers went down a tick, 19 DRS still led MLB among left fielders. Duvall had 16 and Yelich finished with six. I’d be shocked if Marte didn’t win his second gold glove. The winners will be announced on Nov. 8.

Bullpen Revolution—Finally, we’re seeing managers think a little differently with their bullpen usage, and we’re seeing it on the game’s biggest stage. Indians manager Terry Francona (New Brighton native) is changing the way closers are used in the game. Francona has called upon Andrew Miller multiple times throughout the postseason as his first option out of the bullpen to try and preserve a small lead. He’s even called for Miller to pitch as early as the 5th inning in the ALCS, and it worked like a charm.

Could you imagine Hurdle using Mark Melancon in the 5th…or 6th…or even 8th inning? Never. I’m hoping that Hurdle is taking note of to use his bullpen more effectively and to play it by the situation. Maybe your best reliever should come out first to hold the lead down and maybe just because you label a player “your closer” doesn’t mean he can only pitch in the 9th inning. The Pirates need to get creative with their bullpen and let’s hope Hurdle is watching the playoffs closely.


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