The Pirates and Mariners have been talking for quite some time it seems as we heard Pittsburgh Pirates GM Neal Huntington passed on a Jones-Morrow-Sherrill deal for Snell in December.
A few of my scouting buds are questioning whether a Pirates/M’s deal can get done on several fronts. For instance:
– does Brandon Morrow project long-term as a starter or a closer? Think Daniel Moskos. Some scouts are suggesting he might end up being a better fit closing. He can bring the heat but he had problems repeating his delivery late last year. Perhaps it was fatigue.. perhaps not. Also, he just can’t get a feel for most of his secondary pitches yet.. command might be his downfall.
– can any MLB team afford to keep Jeff Clement’s poor defense behind the dish? Yes, he can rake, but where does his glove play? Some scouts think first base which means the Pirates would end up with a 20/HR .275 MLB average defender on the corner. Do the Pirates already have that potential with Ryan Doumit, Steve Pearce, or even Neil Walker?
– you would think Adam Jones has to be in any package Huntington gets from the Mariners. He could be a league average or better shortstop which the Pirates need. With his speed and power potential, Pirate fans could drool thinking about OBP with Jones, McCutchen, and Walker sometime in 2009. But wait, few know this cat can throw 97 mph heaters off the mound too. Is pitching in his career down the road?
– Carlos who? Carlos Triunfel. Several scouts have told me Huntington would be nuts to not include this soon to be 18 year old in any deal. The Mariners have already told other teams he’s about as untouchable as anyone can be. Why all the rage? He’s being compared to A-Rod.
He hit .304/.320/.413 over 50 at bats in low-A, broke his thumb, rehabbed, then was sent to the California League where he raked .288/.333/.356 in 208 at bats while striking out a measly 15%. That was at 17, mind you.. in High-A. My-oh-my.
But 38 errors in 95 games at short is a bit of a shock. He needs to be slowed down and not pushed but he certainly has some scouts thinking his upside is off the charts. The problem for the Pirates is, Triunfel is at least 4 years off.. perhaps more. Can they eat the fan PR hit taking such a youngster?
– Wladimir Balentien put up some impressive first-half numbers at Tacoma then fell off the map toward the end of the year. He projects out as an average to plus defender on one of the outfield corners and certainly has plus power, but he might have a better chance of lending his name to a company that makes fans than staying on a club’s 25-man roster over time. Think about a Brad Eldred whiff-machine with a better glove and better foot speed.
We know what we have in Ian Snell – he’s a fastball/slider guy who is going to miss bats and keep us in the game over 80 pitches, despite having crud defenders behind him.
We also know Jason Bay will put the ball over the wall 25 times every year no matter if he hits .245 or .295. Bay is a complimentary piece with a poor arm, average to better than average foot speed for his size, and he does an ok job covering the ball in his zone. Out of his zone, forget it.
Snell is young, healthy, cheap, and a competitor. Bay has been declining the last 1.5 years (insert health excuses here?) but it stands to reason as he approaches his contract year he’s going to focus a bit more and put it back together.
Now dealing Snell is easy to do. He rates two "plus" 0-3 prospects or three above average 0-3 prospects. Bay rates at least one "plus" prospect or two above average prospects if a team takes him at face value, which may not be possible right now.
If the Mariners went to the checkout line with Bay and Snell in their cart, Huntington would have to ask for three A- to A prospects, but the Mariners only have one – Jones. They will argue Clement or Morrow deserve to be rated A-, but I doubt Coonley would allow Huntington to place them there.
So if Jones is partial payment, that leaves the Mariners still owing three above average prospects (B to B+), and they have to be players that fit the Pirates needs.
If the Pirates pro scouts think Morrow can continue to develop and fine tune pitches other a splitter and fastball, plus repeat his delivery and gain better command, he would be one of the three, I’m guessing. He could immediately fill our need for a right-hand reliever in the pen while the Pirates start stretching him out later in the year.
That leaves two players to pull from their wallet and this is where it starts getting risky.
Can Russell and the Pirates add mileage to Clement behind the dish? If they work only on his footwork, that might get him a couple more years behind the plate. His bat makes Paulino’s look like a joke, but don’t forget our pitching is young and we’ve already seen what a poor receiver does to them in Doumit – they lose, and they lose often. So do we spin Clement off? Use him at 1B? Or not accept him as payment?
Carlos Triunfel looks like the real deal, smells like the real deal, and walks like the real deal, but is he the real deal? And what’s his makeup like because there are some questions floating around about him. And can the Pirates even afford to take on a high-A player even if he is a potential impact guy?
That’s why this deal hasn’t gotten done.. there are too many question marks.. too many risks for the Pirates.
Look for the Mainers to continue their push for Snell but drop out of the Bay race. Jones, Morrow, and Clement or Triunfel, or even (maybe?) Jones, Morrow, and Tony Butler just might get this done from the Pirates perspective. From the Mariners perspective, they won’t talk past Jones and Morrow plus some unwanted stuff.
And that’s where we stand today. Like Littlefield last year with Gonzalez, Huntington has to stand his ground on Snell. He has at least three teams in on him so to deal him short to the Mariners just because they are barking loud right now doesn’t make sense.
And Bay? I still think he has Cleveland written all over him, although the Padres might have something to say about that.
Matt Clement signed with the Cardinals. Yeah, oh boy.. he’ll be the 2008 version of 2007′s Kip Wells to them. Sink Cards, sink.
Tim Murray, forever the hilarious Pirates fan.
Marte and Morris say no thanks to the Pirates mini-camp. Geez.. who can blame them?
Pittsburgh Pirates Media Director Jim Trdinich has an Internship opportunity available if your looking for some college credit.
I’d give my twentieth born for that job just to be able to review the club’s history up close and personal. What a great opportunity. Unfortunately, I think I fit the Senior Programmer/Analyst position better with my MCDBA certification, coding background, and knowledge of sabermetrics.
Oh well.. sorry Jim. hehe
Things are starting to trickle down on the trade front. Essentially, deals that didn’t go through before Xmas. If you are a member of Bucco Blog’s forum, then you know what I’m talking about. If you aren’t, you need to join because that’s where I post the juicy stuff until I get a better handle on it.
For now, let’s just say things are starting to warm up again and leave it at that until I can get more confirmed which should be by Friday.
Warm up – what a joke. It’s in the 20′s here in Florida with a chance of snow flurries in Daytona.
Here’s Bay’s projected home runs per number of at bats for you to gander at:
How about this poll at pirateball.com:
What I don’t get is how many people suggest they will still be around at the AS break considering the current roster. Of course, the way this poll was written there was no "other" selection so many just clicked the wait and see answer.
The 26% who expect the Pirates in the playoffs probably are a good representation of how many fans are left right now.. 26% of their available base. The diehards.. those who show up no matter what happens just because it’s baseball being played down the street.
A lot of people have emailed me suggesting they are not renewing their season tickets. Even more have said they will renew one more year, but have made other summer plans and will try to sell their tickets.
Every fan has their limit. Mine was in 2003, while your limit may never be hit. Whether you renew or not is up to you, but I’ll always suggest you should support the players. The owners aren’t making enough on your tickets to make or break them with MLB providing the Nuttings with food stamps.
So go enjoy the games.. root for the team. Just don’t get so high you vote "A World Series Ring" in polls like the one above.
Who? Huh? Where?
Speaking of Dejan’s latest and greatest, did anyone else spew their brew when reading this line:
"When examining range-factor statistics, the Pirates’ left side of the infield with Jack Wilson and Jose Bautista is one of the best in baseball."
Holy cow.. talk about fantasyland.
The most respected range-factor stat houses are Baseball Information Systems and STATS, Inc. Neither is perfect but when you combine both you get a decent look.
Jose Bautista was the second worst 3B in the game (1,000 or more innings at the position) last year at -17 runs (-26 runs BIS, -9 runs STATS).
Jack Wilson was just a tick above average at 8th best of 22 with +6 runs (+18 runs BIS, -7 runs STATS).
Combined, they were -11 runs, or -1 win defensively.
Folks, that means the Pirates left-side of the infield was the 4th worst in the game of the 14 teams that had 1,000 inning players at both positions:
Here’s the Spreadsheet (stats-n-bis-rng-d-07.xls) for you to look at.
Does this guy actually believe what he prints anymore? Maybe he has been placed on the Pirates PR department payroll?
Speaking of the bizarre, yesterday I noticed Jenifer Langosch had posted her article at pirateball.com projecting the Pirates lineup card.
But she didn’t have a 2B listed.
Ok, everyone makes mistakes like the Post-Gazette spelling Huntington wrong. But what happened next freaked me out. As I was reading the discussion forum at pirateball, a thread that was discussing Ms. Langosch mysteriously disappeared.
Gone. History. Censored.
The thread didn’t have any cuss words or other infractions in it I saw.. just comments about her content since becoming a beat writer. For the thread to be removed by MLB like that was in poor taste. Folks have a right to their opinions and if MLB places so little value on the fan’s opinions, why do they offer a forum for them to discuss events?
For the record, this isn’t about Ms. Langosch who is new on the job.. this happens with many threads.
MLB needs to stop censoring the discussion forums. It’s one thing to remove threads with infractions, it’s quite another to remove content because they don’t like what’s being said.
Otherwise, they need to post a new forum rule: "You can only post positive things about baseball here."
Baseball Interactive Media (BIM) has asked me to extend the contest through January 6th to allow everyone who was on vacation during the holidays a chance to get involved.
So, anyone who registers at the new Pittsburgh Pirates discussion forum anytime before the stroke of midnight on January 6th is automatically entered for a chance to win the 2007 limited edition Neil Walker bobblehead.
One forum user will be selected by BIM and I’ll post the winner’s name January 7th.
The fans say, on paper, this is another boring 90-loss year for the Pirates. You know the kind they mean – first inning romps that bury us and the players give up until the 7th when they try to mount a come back in games they are only down a few runs.
Naw.. it’s a new year. Bring. It. On.
Or all heck breaks lose when one of our infielders misses a routine grounder opening a big inning, or a two-out line drive goes just under our diving center fielder’s glove for a triple scoring two, or the coaching staff decides to develop the relievers with three innings to go down two.
Won’t happen. Bring. It. On.
I’m used to watching one of Duke, Maholm, or Gorzelanny stare down Jack Wilson after a routine double play ball went just under his glove because he pushed off the wrong foot ranging.
Not on the card. Bring. It. On.
And I know you are as sick as I am watching Bay paint the sky with pretty rainbow throws, Morgan oversliding bags, Paulino stepping in the bucket, Sanchez unable to pivot, and Gorzy and Maholm forgetting that the game includes holding men on base.
Things of the past. Bring. It. On.
You see, we have a few surprises lined up this year:
– Bay has been holding back on offense and defense on purpose the last two years setting himself up for a two-year monster run as he heads towards a contract year in 2009. Not only will he steal 20 bases next year, but he’ll hit .320/.405/.565. Why? Because the foot he moved closer to the plate in 2006 isn’t needed now and as opposing pitchers toss him all those inside pitches their scouting reports tell them to do, Bay will rake.
– While everyone thought Chris Duffy was rehabbing from having junk cleared out of his shoulder, what he was really doing was rehabbing his mindset with a private hitting instructor who was teaching him to hit line drives instead of beating everything on the ground. And he’s ready, but none of the teams will open the year knowing it.
– Paul Maholm and Matt Morris both went to Salomon Torres’ training facility over the winter to learn how to throw a splitter (split finger fastball) from Bruce Sutter. Maholm’s is so good, Sutter said the late movement is better than Smoltz’s. Won’t the Cubs and Brewers be surprised.. whoa.
– The Pirates are talking with the Rays on acquiring Rocco Baldelli and Carl Crawford in July for Neil Walker and some young relievers. Huntington will then spin off Crawford to the Mariners for a Clement package, deal McLouth, Matt Morris, Herrera, and some cash to the Padres for Headley, and trade Welker off to the Angels for a two month rental of Francisco Rodriguez who is expected to refuse resign with them.
Then we’ll make a second half run with Bay, Clement, Headley, Baldelli, Nady, Sanchez, Wilson, LaRoche, (bench: Pearce, McCutchen, Paulino, Bautista, and Doumit) and a rotation of Snell, Gorzy, Bullington, Duke, and Maholm (pen: Rodriguez, Capps, Marte, Grabow, Sanchez, Davidson, and Moskos.)
Won’t everyone be shocked.
– Saving the best for last, John Russell plans to implement his version of the "away game advantage" where our batters plant a dog hearing device in their ears to catch Tekulve’s dog whistle in the centerfield bleachers as he steal signs.
Sixteen consecutive losing seasons? Not in your lifetime.. move over flubs and bucket heads.. there’s a new game in town.
Bring. It. On.
Guy Cipriano, a sports writer for the Centre Daily Times who has been following Williamsport and now the Spikes for years, ripped into lightly into Chuck Greenberg and then called out the Pirates in his year-end story. Obviously Cipriano is a bit upset:
"The Pirates parlayed every bold move it made this past year into a baseball joke… [they] have not recorded a winning season since 1992. And they did lose 94 games in 2007. Even scarier, Curve Baseball LP, which operates the Spikes, willingly signed a four-year Player Development Contract with this organization.
"If things fall into place for the Pirates, they might record as many wins in the next two years as the Detroit Tigers compile in 2008…
"By the way, Coonelly, a Penn State graduate, helped institute Major League Baseball’s draft slotting system which recommends bonuses clubs should give picks. The Pirates have never signed a pick for a figure significantly over the slot value… The Pirates’ reward for giving slot bonuses and hiring an unknown CEO, general manager and manager?
"No tangible hope for 2008."
Bring. It. On. Guy says.
An email forwarded to me from someone around the game who was talking with a third party:
"[Robert Nutting]‘s Coon Hunt. Or was it a Coon Hunt for Nutts?"
Despite all the running around making sure all the players are actually participating in an offseason program, the Pirates mini-camp opens in a week but they don’t know who is going to attend.
The Post-Gazette said the other day the list is expected to be extensive as if the players want to do this. But I believe they have in their contract if they were hurt at the end of the year they have to report in January if a camp is called. I could be wrong, but I seem to remember one of the players telling me that.
If so, then it’s a lock these players will be there.. Sanchez, LaRoche, Nady, Duffy, Doumit, Bay, Morgan, JvB, Burnett, Bullington, Lincoln, Grabow, Bayliss. That’s 30% of the 40-man and probably 44% of the 25-man. Yeah, I’d say that’s extensive, especially since I didn’t add Gorzy or Maholm who were also down a bit in 2007.
Don’t get too excited about my opening piece.. my contract states I have to write one positive piece every 30 days to keep my rah-rah’s in shape. I’m good till February now.
I found it fascinating that Dejan Kovacevic spent so much time on his Nate McLouth article. Had I been the average fan, I would have walked away drooling. I mean, gee.. Bill James said this-and-that.. it must be true.. it must mean something.
But I’m not the average fan and Bill James is the one who taught me to think critically with stats.
Dejan indicated the Bill James Handbook said this about McLouth..
"Took 61.6 percent of the pitches he saw, eighth-highest in the league. Barry Bonds’ 67.2 was tops."
Sounds pretty impressive, huh? Unfortunately, taking all those pitches led to McLouth striking out one-in-five at bats – the 27th highest in the league for all batters with 300 or more AB. Maybe in 2008 he’ll actually learn to put wood on the ball?
"Had the league’s highest success rate in stealing bases, 95.7 percent. He stole 22 of 23, a year after stealing 10 of 11."
Here McLouth did a very good job.
"Scored 38 percent of the time he reached base, 11th-highest in the league."
This is another one of those wild statements.
You see, McLouth actually had one of the lowest batting averages in the league on balls in play at .287 (300+ AB) but was a tad better drawing walks (70th percentile). So, sure, WHEN McLouth reached base (50th percentile in the league overall in OBP), he did a fine job scoring. Most speedy guys do.
But thinking critically, since McLouth was so poor at getting hits on balls in play, if he reached, chances are everyone was reaching thus probably better explaining this.
"Had the league’s ninth-best on-base percentage, .360, when leading off."
Here’s another one of those lead-in, make you feel good statements that has the look of Dejan being paid to deliver PR for the team. Unfortunately, this one isn’t even true.
ESPN indicates Bautista had the league’s 9th best league OBP at .377 – not McLouth who was 16th of 45 players (65th percentile.. a tick above league average) and just behind Rajai Davis.
"Had the best on-base plus slugging percentage — the statistician’s dream offensive measurement — of any player in the majors when seeing a slider, at 1.242."
I won’t call out Dejan on this one because I assume he copied it from the Handbook, but I will state he should have done a better job researching this before making a claim like it really meant something.
Here is McLouth’s PITCHf/x data on sliders:
As you can clearly see, he put 11 of the 63 sliders he saw in play and only three of those went for a hit (red arrows).. one single, one double, and one home run.
Also, if you look carefully above you’ll see 25% of all sliders called balls were actually strikes McLouth let float past which also helps explain some of McLouth’s unusually high OBP on sliders.
There’s your best OPS in the majors on a slider statement explained.. plain old fashion luck in what you might say was McLouth’s breakout "now deal him" year.
I don’t want to take anything away from McLouth – he’s a fine fourth outfielder who should never play center at PNC with his below league average route running. But he does have some pop in his bat off the bench and that’s where he should be.. on the bench. If we deal Bay or Nady, he’ll be an excellent fill-in until Pearce makes the trip from Indy to Pittsburgh.
Fukudome’s projected line at Yahoo: .305/.390/.528
I’m sorry, but I don’t see it.
The Pirates are interested in Matt Clement? Naw.. makes no sense at all unless he signs a split contract at the minimum and then he’d be in Bradenton and then Indy for awhile to be sure his arm stays attached.
Kris Benson back in Pittsburgh? There is as much chance of Benson returning to Pittsburgh as there is Robert Nutting selling the team to Mark Cuban next month.
But if you want to lick your chops, here’s the remaining free agents and non-tenders still available. Notice how many of these cats were linked to the Pirates at one time or another.
|Sean Casey||1b||FA||Matt DeSalvo||SP||NT|
|Tony Clark||1b||FA||Jose Garcia||SP||NT|
|Julio Franco||1b||FA||Mike O’Connor||SP||NT|
|Ryan Klesko||1b||FA||Darrell Rasner||SP||NT|
|Doug Mientkiewicz||1b||FA||Josh Towers||SP||NT|
|Mark Sweeney||1b||FA||Antonio Alfonseca||rhp||FA|
|Eric Hinske||1b-of||FA||Tony Armas||rhp||FA|
|Damion Easley||2b||FA||Armando Benitez||rhp||FA|
|Ramon Martinez||2b||FA||Kris Benson||rhp||FA|
|Jose Valentin||2b||FA||Shawn Chacon||rhp||FA|
|Jerry Hairston||2b-of||FA||Roger Clemens||rhp||FA|
|Russell Branyan||3b||FA||Matt Clement||rhp||FA|
|Jeff Cirillo||3b||FA||Bartolo Colon||rhp||FA|
|a-Pedro Feliz||3b||FA||Elmer Dessens||rhp||FA|
|Corey Koskie||3b||FA||Octavio Dotel||rhp||FA|
|Abraham Nunez||3b||FA||Josh Fogg||rhp||FA|
|Royce Clayton||ss||FA||Keith Foulke||rhp||FA|
|Neifi Perez||ss||FA||Freddy Garcia||rhp||FA|
|Chris Woodward||ss||FA||a-Livan Hernandez||rhp||FA|
|Tony Batista||1B||FA||Jason Jennings||rhp||FA|
|Marcus Giles||2B||FA||Jorge Julio||rhp||FA|
|Aaron Miles||2B||NT||Byung-Hyun Kim||rhp||FA|
|Morgan Ensberg||3B||NT||Jon Lieber||rhp||FA|
|Andy Gonzalez||3B||NT||Kyle Lohse||rhp||FA|
|Dallas McPherson||3B||NT||Rodrigo Lopez||rhp||FA|
|Miguel Cairo||inf||FA||Jose Mesa||rhp||FA|
|Tony Graffanino||inf||FA||Brian Moehler||rhp||FA|
|Jerry Gil||SS||NT||Russ Ortiz||rhp||FA|
|Sandy Alomar||c||FA||Chris Reitsma||rhp||FA|
|Paul Bako||c||FA||Rudy Seanez||rhp||FA|
|Rod Barajas||c||FA||Aaron Sele||rhp||FA|
|Mike DiFelice||c||FA||John Thomson||rhp||FA|
|Mike Lieberthal||c||FA||Brett Tomko||rhp||FA|
|Mike Matheny||c||FA||Steve Trachsel||rhp||FA|
|Damian Miller||c||FA||Jeff Weaver||rhp||FA|
|Doug Mirabelli||c||FA||Bob Wickman||rhp||FA|
|Josh Paul||c||FA||Jamey Wright||rhp||FA|
|a-Mike Piazza||c||FA||Jeremy Affeldt||lhp||FA|
|Kelly Stinnett||c||FA||Eddie Guardado||lhp||FA|
|Johnny Estrada||c||NT||Ray King||lhp||FA|
|Mike Sweeney||dh||FA||a-Trever Miller||lhp||FA|
|Greg Norton||dh||FA||Eric Milton||lhp||FA|
|Barry Bonds||of||FA||Mike Myers||lhp||FA|
|a-Mike Cameron||of||FA||Odalis Perez||lhp||FA|
|Jeffrey DaVanon||of||FA||Arthur Rhodes||lhp||FA|
|Luis Gonzalez||of||FA||Ron Villone||lhp||FA|
|Shawn Green||of||FA||David Wells||lhp||FA|
|Bobby Kielty||of||FA||T.J. Beam||RP||NT|
|Total||Total||% of||InPlay||% of||InPlay||% of|
|Total||Strike||% of||Strike||% of||Strike||% of|
Notice three of the Pirates starter’s see one out of every ten fastballs thrown hammered for a hit (Morris, Duke, and Maholm). That’s very high and only 4% less than outs generated by the same number thrown. Even worse, nearly one-in-four fastballs that went for a hit went for extra bases.
Now look at Duke’s foul percentage – 21%. Wow.. you have to wonder how many of those were straight back or inches off the line?
Someone tell Maholm to lay off throwing fastballs.
Tis’ the season to be whacked.. Alcoa won’t lower their parking fees, the Pirates didn’t lower their ticket prices, and now you’ll get hit with a 10% tax on that bourbon at the park.
Life’s good for everyone but Pirates fans and local business owners. You might as well go visit the Thrift Shop Romantic and try and save a buc or two.
No pun intended.
Just two more days left for you to register at Bucco Blog’s Pittsburgh Pirates discussion forum for your chance to win a 2007 Neil Walker bobblehead.
"I love the new discussion forum Jake. State-of-the-art. Can you ask the new group if they can add some fantasy statistics?" — EW, Pittsburgh
Alex and the group at Baseball Interactive Media say thanks! Their intention was to give Pittsburgh Pirates fans a long-term place to hang out while making it as enjoyable as possible. The software does rock Pittsburgh Pirates Forum.
As for the statistics, I can add a fantasy section to the blog here if you would like. I’m already doing pre-season projections but I’m guessing you would like analysis as well and in-season stats and analysis that isn’t mainstream.
Good stuff – I’ll talk to them and look into it over the next couple of weeks since drafts will be starting.
"Best moment of the 2007 year?" — PN, Iraq
Wow – let me think back. It would have to be hammering the Astros in the opening series. There were lots of good moments but that one seems to stick out since my hope traveled about three steps up the ladder.
"Who the heck is Baseball Interactive Media and why would you sell to New Yorkers? — TC, Bellefield, PA
BIM is a privately held company which has both national and international interests, including in Pittsburgh. So while the group is headquartered in New York, think of them as neighbors. I expect a media release will be offered in January sometime.
"I hope your grandfather is doing better Jake. Tell me something new on the trade front." — LL, Bryant, PA
Paw-paw is doing well, thanks for asking! A new rumor? Hmm.. not many floating around at all. As mentioned at the discussion forum, I’m still hearing whispers about Snell/Bay to the Mariners. But as one journalist in Seattle said recently, I’m not sure they can get this deal done.
There are numerous reports that suggest Huntington is looking for three MLB-ready prospects for Snell and I assume if he’s dealing Bay at 2006 value, he’ll want close to that for him.
Will Clement, Jones, Balentein, Morrow, Tillman, Triunfel, and maybe Sherrill get it done? Hmm..
"Please tell me Ryan Doumit won’t be catching in 2007." — JB, Houston
I think Mr. Doumit has caught enough innings for the experiment to finally be over. He had some good stats to go with the many bad ones, but the bottom line is, he’s just an unlucky receiver and he gets absolutely no respect from MLB umpires. Look for him to be Nady’s backup and be available off the bench.
"Looking back, Moskos or Weiters?" — SA, Lakeland, FL
I think Weiters taking what he did surprised everyone in the game. Not only did he back off money, he backed off terms in the contract.
No question Weiters was the impact player to grab but overall, I’m happy with Moskos and I think you’ll see why in 2008 if his mechanics stay consistent.
"You mentioned the Pirates missed out on Mackowiak and Erstad, they also passed on Taguchi, Everett, and Eckstein and haven’t talked to Ensberg. I don’t get it." — CE, Vandergrift, PA
But Cameron and Lofton are still out there.
Seriously, we are up to our armpits in average outfielders so adding another one to the roster really doesn’t make sense unless they play full-time, I suppose. Perhaps Cameron is that guy? We certainly could use his bat.
I don’t know what to tell you about keeping Wilson and his big money over getting an Eckstein who could leadoff too. Wilson is the superior shortstop defensively but have we seen the best of Jack Flash overall? Are we going to see Freddy and Jack starting to rack up DL time? Probably.
Erstad was a bit different to me because of the money vs Gomez. Throw him on the roster with Ensberg and I like our chances for a few more wins. But..
"Kyle Bloom and Brandon Chavez are boneheads. Why would anyone in their position take such a ridiculous risk?" — JP, Altoona, PA
My thoughts exactly. I asked at Bucco Blog’s forum whether the fans thought they should be released and the general consensus was no. But I certainly do.
I don’t expect them to be on the club’s roster for long.
And for those asking what if it was McCutchen or Walker, I’d have the same reply. I might give an inch on Cutch because of his age – not his status as a top 10 prospect – but just an inch.
Pittsburgh Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington had a chance to add a quality player in Darin Erstad but for some reason passed on him at the same price Chris Gomez cost him.
Let’s see.. Erstad potential upside or Gomez downslide? Erstad’s glove or Gomez’s no-glove? Erstad’s left-hand bat or Gomez from the right side?
You say Gomez was needed to handle the hot corner in Bautista’s stead? Don’t we have Sanchez (+20 runs UZR at 3B 2005 – 2006) with a guy named Josh Wilson (+/- 0 runs UZR at 2B) able to take over at 2B? You think Gomez was needed to spell LaRoche? Erstad actually plays a very solid first base (+14 runs UZR in 2005 — +1 runs UZR 2006 and 2007).
This is exactly the type of deal a small-market team needs to make – a plus makeup player on the rebound wanting a one-year deal who understands he doesn’t have a full-time role. And he’s the kind of player who will rock the NLCD right-hand arms.
I understand not signing a Lo Duca, I understand not getting involved in the Lamb sweepstakes, but I don’t understand signing a Gomez over an Erstad when we are dying for left hand bats and people who can cover the ball.
Oh, that’s right. I guess we should believe power sluggers Ryan Doumit and Chris Duffy will be available all year.
I swear I still feel the ghost of Dave Littlefield. Yeah, we might as well start Pearce in AAA too.. it only makes sense.
Only four days left for you to register and try and win a 2007 Neil Walker bobblehead. By registering at Bucco Blog’s Pittsburgh Pirates Discussion Forum before the stroke of midnight New Year’s eve, you are automatically entered.
Pirateball.com recaps the year saying:
"There were defensive lapses and offensive inconsistencies. A relatively young group of pitchers endured growing pains, though each of the rotation’s top three starters would finish the season with a new high in career innings set.
"The bullpen and bench struggled early, only to mesh as the season progressed and as roles and personnel changed… Twice the Pirates endured periods in which they dropped 13 of 15 games. And when it came to Interleague road games, the club reeled off just one win in nine games."
Yeah – it’s the players fault. They were "inconsistent," had too many "lapses" and "growing pains," and "struggled" often.
Are we supposed to believe from that article that the writer believes if the players hadn’t been "inconsistent" et al that they would have been a .500 team or something?
I mean, isn’t there a high correlation between "inconsistent" play and extended periods of low player payroll? Sure there is, and that high r value is called low morale.
You get what you pay for in this world.
I think the Cubs and Pirates need to work on a package deal with Freddy Sanchez and Josh Vitters as the main cards. Retrun the call Huntington.
My Hall of Fame card? Hey, since it’s the year of steroids, I’d vote for McGwire since he won’t get one anywhere else. Best bet? The Goose.
The St. Louis Cardinals finished below .500 for the first time in eight years last year. However, they saw the post-season in 6 of the previous 8 plus took home the World Series trophy two years ago. But that’s not enough for one Cardinals blogger who is now calling out the front office as liars and demanding change:
"For Cardinal fans, the promises that were made 3 years ago, last year and this year have turned out to be lies. A spade is a spade and until we get some proof that DeWitt, Johnny Mo or any other person employed by the team is willing to make the changes necessary to elevate this business above mediocrity, than we shouldn’t relent. After all, it’s a business. And us, the customers, have been lied to long enough."
Talk about spoiled rotten fans. Imagine this dude 14 years from now.
I suppose we now know where Kevin McClatchy got the idea for the red uni’s last year.
Last year the Pirates front office went to sleep from Christmas until well into the new year. It was the first time in years the Pirates didn’t make a deal or sign a major or minor league free agent during the period.
Looks like we’re sleeping again this year.
I actually went back and counted how many fan emails I have received since Huntington took office that asked this question or a derivative of it:
"What are we doing?"
Sixty-three emails, with thirteen in the last four days.
The roster doesn’t compete on paper, they aren’t dealing for youth, and they continue to salary dump.
It’s sexy to think Bay will achieve a higher value if he mashes next year, but will he?
Bay will be in a contract year in 2009 so the the club that deals for him next winter isn’t going to pay anywhere near the value for him then he would command today coming off a bad year that is semi-explained with his knee problem. So why wait?
Sanchez is heading into declining years, has multiple health issues, and really isn’t a very good second baseman, so why keep him? And Nady and Wilson are coming off almost career years – we’ll never get more for them than we can now.
True – dealing all these guys means we end up with a replacement level roster that probably wins 50 games. But so what – at least we are getting the most of our value at the best possible time. Waiting does nothing but force us to eat declining values.. values that should be building our farm.
Isn’t that the plan? Shouldn’t that be the plan?
I said it once and I’ll say it again – I think Huntington has a deal or two already worked out and he won’t pull the trigger on them until mid to late January because they hope to get as many season ticket holders resigned before they make their moves knowing they are going to take a huge PR hit.
It’s all about the almighty dollar, baby.
Where oh’ where has the Pirates coverage gone, oh’ where oh’ where could the beat writers be? You can hear a pin drop..
Boy, talk about one dead city for Pirates coverage.
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Since the National League Central Division teams have pretty much set their rotations for 2008 other than a late big deal or two, I thought it was time to take a quick look at how these pitchers have done against the Pirates franchise over their careers.
Obviously this isn’t perfect science, but it’s generally close.
First, the potential starters for each team I used herein are from each team’s MLB.com depth chart.
An asterisk by their names means that player’s stats were not used either because I expect them to be on the extended DL or I don’t have a career history against the Bucs worth talking about.
Here’s the potential starters:
|HOU||44 Roy Oswalt||STL||50 Adam Wainwright|
|51 Wandy Rodriguez||35 Joel Pineiro|
|41 Brandon Backe||23 Anthony Reyes|
|29 Woody Williams||48 Brad Thompson|
|52 Felipe Paulino||*||29 Chris Carpenter|
|MIL||15 Ben Sheets||CHN||38 Carlos Zambrano|
|31 Dave Bush||30 Ted Lilly|
|46 Claudio Vargas||21 Jason Marquis|
|37 Jeff Suppan||53 Rich Hill|
|49 Yovani Gallardo||45 Sean Marshall|
|39 Chris Capuano||46 Ryan Dempster|
|12 Carlos Villanueva|
|*||43 Manny Parra||CIN||39 Aaron Harang|
|61 Bronson Arroyo|
|31 Matt Belisle|
|*||34 Homer Bailey|
Now let’s look at how each team’s potential starting staff has handled the Pirates over their career:
An average 3.89 ERA over 1,385 innings of work is pretty significant.
Here’s how we hit as a team against the NLCD starters last year:
When you consider the Pirates play 80 games against the division, starters generally throw 70% of the game, and earned runs are generally 90% of the Pirates run production, that would mean the Pirates are going to score 249 runs in the equivalent of 58 complete games using the 3.89 ERA.
Sounds good so far you say?
Add 15 interleague games where the Pirates average scoring 4.1 runs per game if they are lucky (62 R), 35 games against the teams out West averaging 4.3 runs per game (151 R), and that’s 108 games where we are expected to score a total of 462 runs.
Just to make it to 700 runs, we would need to score 4.4 runs per game on average for the remaining 54 games (30 of them against the NLED), or to make it to 724 runs like last year, we would need to score 4.9 per.
I see the optimists are running.
The Pirates made it to 724 runs scored last year on a fluke – they just happened to play a lot of blow out games between August 1 and September 9th where they scored 8 or more runs in 40% of their games (16 of 40). Don’t count on that happening every year.
So when you hear someone telling you the Pirates scored 724 and they should be improved as a group in 2008, now you know better. They will be lucky to score 700, and that is with Bay’s expected improvement.
The Pirates #3 hitter in 2007 scored just 80 runs in 665 at bats – third worst in baseball, had the second lowest OBP at .328 (.041 below the NL median), and had the lowest OPS in the game at .734.
Freddy Sanchez had 68% of those at bats. He racked up a .348 OBP which was .021 below the NL average and .778 OPS which was .083 below league average. Jason Bay had 14% with a .270 OBP and .625 OPS, and Adam LaRoche took it on the chin batting third 14% of the time with a .330 OBP and .778 OPS.
Hopefully Freddy Sanchez is healthy this year or Jason Bay picks up his game because the lack of OBP from the #3 hitter last year killed us.
Long-time pro scout Bill Clark penned a great article on Branch Rickey Wednesday you might want to read. You can follow that up with a little story on Clark’s work with the Pirates when he helped Isaiah "Fireball" Jackson get out of prison to pitch for the Bucs in the mid-sixties.
Three days before one of the Pirate players called out Jim Colborn in John Perrotto’s column, the Pirates learned two of their minor leaguers were arrested at a DUI checkpoint in Sarasota – Kyle Bloom and Brandon Chavez.
Click images to see full size.
So much for the new wave culture rhetoric. Notice they were both driving vehicles heading back to Bradenton where they both live. And a cab costs, how much?
Two other Pirates’ pitchers – Cory Stewart and Jeff Miller – were arrested in 2005 charged with a host of crimes including pulic intoxication. Neither are in the game anymore.
The worst part about their getting busted? The police announced they would be setting up the roadblock in Sarasota in the Bradenton newspaper where they live.
Here’s a nice article on the Pirates new hitting coach, Don Long.
‘"To be a successful hitting coach, he went on, "you have to develop a rapport with (the players). And they have to trust what you’re telling them. That trust is important, whether you’re in the big leagues or in the rookie leagues. And if you develop that trust, then when it’s time to tell them what you see, I think they’ll listen."’
Cory Giger had a revealing piece on ex-Buc Mike Johnston in the Altoona Mirror.
‘‘Johnston appeared in 24 games as a reliever with the Pirates in 2004, going 0-3 with a 4.37 ERA, and has battled injuries off and on ever since. The hard-throwing lefty had surgery to repair a torn labrum in October of 2006, which marked the end of his tenure with the Bucs.
‘‘I got released the day I had surgery,’’ Johnston said. ‘‘I came out of surgery to a phone call from [assistant general manager] Doug Strange that I had been released. That’s not the best news coming out of surgery.
‘‘But it’s part of the game. I was part of the 40-man [roster], so they would have had to pay me a lot of money this year. They knew I wasn’t going to throw the whole year, so why take a financial hit when they’re pinching money anyway?’’