Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Last Minute Xmas Shopping

  • The Pirates resigned 1B Jeff Clement, 28, to a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training. He missed most of last season after knee surgery. LHP Ryoto Igarashi's previously announced deal was finalized today, too.
  • The Nationals signed Xavier Paul to a minor-league deal. The X-Man has a chance to get some at-bats in DC, as they have an unsettled center field.
  • LHP Brian Burres, the Buccos Indy insurance policy, has moved on to the SF Giants. He inked a minor-league deal with the G-Men with an invitation to camp.
  • The Braves are looking to ink a backup shortstop on a one-year deal, and Ronny Cedeno is a candidate. An earlier report said the Mets were kicking his tires, too.
  • The Dodgers picked up ol' Pirate reliever LHP John Grabow, who had a tough couple of seasons in Chi-Town.
  • The Astros reassigned IF Brian Bixler to AAA Oklahoma City.
  • MLB news of the day: The Rangers won the rights to negotiate with Japanese RHP Yu Darvish. It only cost them $51.7M, the highest posting bid ever made. In Arizona, the D-Backs announced that they signed OF Jason Kubel for 2 years/$15M plus  mutual option year.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Home Grown Buccos

Trent Rosencrans of CBS Sports has put together a series where he examines the lineups of teams if they would have kept their home-grown players together. His Pirate lineup is below, and this link takes you to the complete roster.

1. Andrew McCutchen, CF
2. Neil Walker, 2B
3. Jose Bautista, RF
4. Aramis Ramirez, 3B
5. Ryan Doumit, 1B
6. Jeff Keppinger, SS
7. Ronny Paulino, C
8. Nyjer Morgan, LF

We're not real sure that he ever saw Dewey play first, but hey...either him or Brad "Big Country" Eldred, right? And Nyjmo?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Saturday Sidebars

  • Dejan Kovacevic of the Trib tweets that the Bucs are talking to LHP Jo Jo Reyes about a minor league deal as they continue to stockpile lefty insurance policies.
  • Restating the obvious: During the PirateFest Q&A, Neal Huntington told the media & fans that they're still interested in Derrek Lee.  Maybe he should take David Todd's advice and look at of the Padres Anthony Rizzo or Jesus Guzman now that they have Yonder Alonso (see below). Clint Hurdle kept it rolling when he let it be known that Garrett Jones/Casey McGehee/Nick Evans/Matt Hague are all "in play" for first base next season. 
  • In more pertinent news, the FO said the likely minor league assignments for some Pirate primo prospects are: Gerritt Cole & Jameson Taillon, High A Bradenton; Luis Heredia, Rookie League; Tony Sanchez, AA Altoona, and Josh Bell at Low A West Virginia.
  • Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago says that the Cubbies are in talks to bring Paul Maholm to the Windy City.
  • Two big stories in MLB today: The Reds acquired Mat Latos from the Padres this afternoon for Yonder Alonso, Edison Volquez, Yasmani Grandal and Brad Boxberger. The other is that Jimmy Rollins inked a three year deal with the Phils with an option.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Pirate Prospects, Player Movement

  • Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus has the Bucs' Top Twenty prospects. He lists Josh Bell, Gerritt Cole, Luis Heredia, and Jamison Taillon as Pirate five-star farmhands. Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com has his Top Ten from the start of 2011 and again at the end of the year. The update shows how shallow the system still is. There were no new names to add to Mayo's list, just a reshuffling of the original ten.
  • The Bucs signed LHP Kris Johnson. Johnson was a first round sandwich pick of the Red Sox in 2006, but never lived up to his hype in the minors. The Bosox scouting report says that he "...throws three pitches well: a 90-94 mph fastball, a mid-70s hard curveball, and a very good 83-84 mph changeup. Uses his fastball and his change as out pitches...Underwent Tommy John surgery in 2005...curve lacks the same bite." He's worth a minor league flyer; maybe a change of scenery will do him some good.
  • Patrick Newman of NPR Tracker tweeted that  LHP Ryota Igarashi, 32, has signed a split contract with Pittsburgh. The reliever was 4-1/4.66 for the Mets in 2011, averaging 10 Ks and 7 BBs per nine innings.
  • The Twins signed former Pirates 1B Steve Pearce and LHP Aaron Thompson to minor league deals.
  • The Mets non-tendered C Ronny Paulino, making him a free agent. And they're staying in contact with IFs Jack Wilson and Ronnie Cedeno. They must scout Pittsburgh pretty well; they also claimed RHP Jeremy Hefner and signed LHP Garrett Olson to a minor-league deal.
  • The Tigers signed RHP Octavio Dotel. It's a record-setting 13th club for the bullpen specialist.
  • Arizona gave $1M to Lyle Overbay to return in 2012.
  • Jay Michaels, who left the Bucs for a 3-year run with the Astros, has signed a minor league deal with Washington.
  • The Phillies added C Steve Lerud to their system.
  • Toronto sent RHP Jesse Chavez to Triple A Las Vegas.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pirate Roster As Of Today

OK, time to look at the upcoming 25-man roster now that most of the shouting has died down. It's still possible that the team picks up another starter for depth purposes - think Brian Burres - or somehow Derrik Lee falls into their laps, although it looks like they have first base covered now.

Our guess would be that the other pick-ups will be minor-league deals, especially as the market for closers doesn't appear to be so tight that the FO will get what they want for Hanny. So here goes:

Rotation: Eric Bedard, James McDonald, Jeff Karstens, Kevin Correia and Brad Lincoln will be the five when camp breaks, as Charlie Morton is likely to start the year on the DL. Lincoln has an option left, but he'll see plenty of action in Pittsburgh given the health history of the staff. Chris Leroux could fill the old Karstens role of spot starter; he has the desire and stretched out in winter ball as a starter.

Jeff Locke got his feet wet last year, and Rudy Owens and Justin Wilson have to rebound from disappointing debuts at Indy. Pittsburgh still isn't very deep here for all the pitching they've collected and lack an ace-quality arm.

Bullpen: Hanny will close, but the set-up job will be contentious. Evan Meek has a foot up, but if he falters, Chris Resop and perhaps Jason Grilli could step in. Chris Leroux is out of options and should stick while Anthony Watson will represent the lefties. That's six guys, and we think the last spot will come down to Daniel McCutchen or lefty Daniel Moskos. D-Mac is out of options while Moskos has a pair in hand, and that could be the determining factor.

Bryan Morris, Duke Welker, Tim Wood and Aaron Poseda will be on hand. It's deep and a nice pen on paper, depending on how Meek pitches after missing most of 2011 to injuries. Jose Veras was the local whipping boy in 2011, but he was the set-up guy and his 79 appearances will leave a large hole to fill.

Outfield: Alex Presley, Andrew McCutchen and Jose Tabata will start with Nate McLouth as the cavalry should one of the corner guys go down or have performance issues. Our guess is that they'll stick with those four and count on Garrett Jones as the fifth OF'er.

The FO hasn't shown much love for Gorkys Hernandez, and Starling Marte is still a step away. There's an outside chance that Jake Fox, a super utility guy, could be a bench corner outfielder, and Andrew Lambo is still on the radar.

Corner Infield: Pedro Alvarez will get the nod at third; Jones and an accomplice to be named later, probably Casey McGehee, will platoon at first. Jones hits righties well, but McGehee had big trouble with lefties last year, batting at just a .169 clip against them. That's why we think Nick Evans will stick with the club; he's a proven lefty basher and a good glove man, a perfect insurance policy for the position.

Matt Hague, Jordy Mercer and Josh Harrison will be the upper-level reserves, and the last two are versatile enough to handle third, short and second. Hague is a first baseman working out at third to improve his versatility. Fox is a corner reserve.

Middle Infield: Neil Walker and Clint Barmes will hold the fort, and we're hoping they're ironmen, as Yamaico Navarro is their likely back-up.

Gustavo Nunez for Pedro Ciriaco was a mind-blowing depth swap, and our guess is Rule V pick Gus goes back to Detroit sooner rather than later. Chase d'Arnaud and Brock Holt will open the season in the minors; Mercer is also a candidate here.

Catcher: Looks like Rod Barajas and Mike McKenry are the dynamic duo; we're still not sure why Jason Jaramillo was released.

This spot is considerably weaker than last year's was, at least prior to the injury epidemic. Tony Sanchez, Eric Fryer and Ramon Cabrera still need polished up quite a bit. Jose Morales and perhaps Fox are third catcher candidates.

GW's 25 Man Roster:

Pitchers (12): Eric Bedard, Jeff Karstens, Kevin Correia, Jason Grilli, Joel Hanrahan, Chris Leroux, Brad Lincoln, Daniel McCutchen, James McDonald, Evan Meek, Chris Resop and Anthony Watson. (Charlie Morton - 15 day DL)

Outfield (4): Andrew McCutchen, Nate McLouth, Alex Presley and Jose Tabata.

Catchers (2): Rod Barajas and Mike McKenry.

Infield (7): Pedro Alvarez, Clint Barmes, Brian Evans, Garrett Jones, Casey McGehee, Yamiaco Navarro and Neil Walker.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Roster Takes Shape

As the bewitching hour approached, the FO tendered all its arb-eligible dudes: Joel Hanrahan, Charlie Morton, Chris Resop, Jeff Karstens, Evan Meek, Casey McGehee and Garrett Jones. Jason Grilli was signed to a new contract earlier in the evening, so the Bucs kept the roster in one piece for the time being.

It's good news that the Pirates tendered those guys; all bring something to the table. And we are pleasantly surprised that management kept the gang together, overcoming their innate "grass is greener" syndrome.

First, they let C Jason Jaramillo go, leaving Mike McKenry as the backup to Rod Barajas, although Scooby Doo showed no particular talent with a bat or plays at the plate. They released IF Pedro Ciriaco and picked up Gustavo Nunez, whose next visit to the AAA level will be his first, and Yamaico Navarro of the good bat and iffy glove.

They swapped out OF Xavier Paul for Nate McLouth as the fourth outfielder, which is the closest move to a bench upgrade they've made. 3B Casey McGehee is a roll of the dice. If 2011 was an anomaly and not the norm, he nicely fills a corner role for the Bucs that had no obvious internal answer. And given the market, he's worth the risk.

Barajas and SS Clint Barmes filled self-created holes, but don't figure to add much to the Pittsburgh portfolio. Both are dependable in the field, but look to be the seven-eight hitters in a lineup begging for some help. LHP Erik Bedard is a welcome upgrade to the rotation, especially if Clint Hurdle can nurse 20-25 starts out him, and is easily the top FA signing of the off-season.

Of course, the blueprint to success is based on the improvement of the young guys. If the pups like J-Mac, Charlie Morton, McCutch, the Pittsburgh Kid and Jose Tabata can build on 2011 and Pedro Alvarez returns to his late-season 2010 form, the Bucs have enough pieces to build around. And that is the key to the team moving down the road, not the market.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Bucs Deal Veras For McGehee; Grilli Signs

Well, well. The Pirates finally got someone for a player they were probably planning on non-tendering, sending RHP Jose Veras to the Brewers for 3B Casey McGehee.

Veras, 31, actually had a nice year for the Pirates, with the occasional breakdowns that come with a team-leading 79 appearances. The righty threw 71 innings and complied a 2-4-1/3.80 line with 79 Ks, running into problems when his control was off.

But he was one of five relievers up for arbitration and in line for a big bump up from his $1M 2011 contract. With several other young guys looking for big league work, he was expendable.

McGehee, 29, hit .223 with a .280 on-base percentage for the Brewers with 13 home runs in 546 at-bats, having a pretty miserable year. But the FO is looking at his 2010 season, when he had 23 home runs, 104 RBIs and hit .285 with a .337 OBP. McG had a nice 2009 rookie line of .301/16/66 as a part-timer, too.

He can play both corners (though he only has a handful of games at first) and provides some pop and a little insurance if Pedro fizzles. If both he and Alvarez have bounce back years, El Toro could get find himself across the diamond. McGehee was also a potential non-tender candidate, especially as the Brew Crew just inked A-Ram. As a first-time arb-eligible player, the Pirates have him under control through the 2014 season.

Per MLB Trade Rumors, Veras projected to earn $2.5M in 2011, while McGehee projected to earn $3.1M through arbitration.

Our guess is that Veras will help Milwaukee more than McGehee will Pittsburgh, but we can't complain about getting a return on a player rather than just cutting him loose ala Matt Capps.

Rob Biertempfel of the Trib tweeted that RHP Jason Grilli signed a one-year deal for $1.1M and appearance bonuses, assuring a veteran presence in the pen, at least until the deadline.

It's still going to be a busy night. Pittsburgh has a hour or so to offer arb to Joel Hanrahan, Charlie Morton, Jeff Karstens, Casey McGehee, Evan Meek, Chris Resop and Garrett Jones. And rest assured they'll be eying the non-tendered list, too. We may need a scorecard this year.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Rule V Draft - ???

Well, the Bucs dove into the draft pool headfirst. We're not exactly sure why, but that's why we're bloggers and not front office dudes. Maybe it's just a habit that management just can't shake.

The Pirates took SS Gustavo Nunez, 23, from the Tigers. He's a good glove, no hit guy that spent last season split between Hi A and AA. Nunez has a .266 lifetime minor-league BA, and only 133 at-bats were taken above Class A. How he's an improvement over Pedro Ciriaco is a mystery to us, much less how he will last the season in Pittsburgh without a single AAA at-bat on his resume. We guess the grass is always greener...

The organization lost RHP Brett Lorin, 25, to Arizona. He was 7-6 with a 2.84 ERA at Hi A Bradenton last season. He's not an overwhelming arm and is injury prone, so it's hard to tell if the Bucs just didn't see much future for him or thought that his background would allow him to sneak through the draft. Either way, he didn't seem to figure mightily with the team going forward except possibly around the edges.

The minor league portion added a couple of more interesting players. Pittsburgh took former top prospect LHP Aaron Poreda, 25, from San Diego. Poreda can fire the ball, and lefties with smoke are always a welcome commodity, even if the strike zone is a foreign concept to them. In 438 minor-league frames, he's K'ed 400 and walked 252 batters. But he hits the mid-nineties, and certainly is worth a look.

Then came the unsurprising continued run on catchers. Francisco Diaz, 21, was claimed from the Phillies. He's a good field, no hit backstop that spent 2011 in Class A. That was followed by the selection of another catcher, Charles Cutler, 25, from the Cards. His career farm line is .305/.385/.412, but he was behind Wil Rosario and Audry Perez in St. Louis. Cutler is a little long in the tooth for a AA player, but at least can hit.

And as Pat Lackey of WHYGAVS noted, "C Brian Jeroloman was just DFA'ed. You know Huntington won't be able to help himself..."

Unrelated to the draft, but still worth a line: Albert Pujols signed with the Angels for 10 years/$250M and was given  a no trade clause. Aye carumba! That leaves a couple of guys available on the trade market, like Mark Trumbo and the Mets' Ike Davis.

Burning The Midnight Oil

The Bucco FO stayed up longer than ol' GW last night; they were still shakin' and bakin' up to the midnight hour.

First, the Pirates traded RHP Brooks Pounders and IF Diego Goris  to the Royals for infielder Yamaico Navarro in what the KC media described as "a clock-beating move that cleared a roster space before this morning’s Rule 5 draft at the Winter Meetings."

Navarro, 24, offers some offensive potential, particularly for a utility infielder, but his iffy glovework made him expendable. He's played at second, third, short and the outfield. Navarro began in Boston's farm system, where he was purely a shortstop. The righty hit .272 with two homers and nine RBIs in 25 games at AAA Omaha last year, close to his .279 career farm BA.

Pounders, 21, was 5-5 with a 3.68 ERA in 66 innings over 36 games last season at Class A West Virginia in 2011. He was a second round pick in the 2009 draft, but had fallen behind several of the lower level arms the Pirates have collected during their recent drafts.

Goris, 21, batted .350 with 29 extra-base hits, 53 runs and 46 RBIs in 68 games for the Pirates’ Dominican Summer League club. He was a DSL All-Star the past two seasons.

The Bucs must have an eye at someone in the Rule V draft Friday; they released Ross Ohlendorf to create a spot on the 40-man roster. In fact, the Trib's Rob Beirtempfel tweeted that they've made another yet unannounced move (to make space for Navarro) and will dive into the draft pool.

Also, as expected, Derrik Lee refused arbitration, waiting on Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder to find landing spots, and will join the FA market. The Bucs intend to stay in touch, but lotsa luck there. The bright side of the street is that the Pirates will get a compensation pick in the 2012 draft if Lee, a Type B free agent, signs with another team.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Bucs Get Their Pitcher...And More

The door swung open for LHP Erik Bedard, OF Nate McLouth and C Jose Morales and shut on SS Pedro Ciriaco and C Jason Jarmillo as the FO earned their money today.

Bedard is the most interesting pick-up. The veteran lefty has eight years in the league, all in the junior circuit, and adds a southpaw that can miss bats to the Pirate rotation. He's 56-50 with a 3.70 career ERA and notched 8.8 Ks per nine innings over that span, so at least he and J-Mac have strikeout stuff.

The Pirates signed him to a plain vanilla one-year contract for $4.5M; no option, no buy-out. In him, they have a guy who can realistically provide 25 starts and 150 innings with an ERA south of four. His caveat emptor - too much time in the tub. He hasn’t pitched more than 150 innings since 2007, and missed the 2010 season due to injuries. But he's been effective when he can take the hill, and if healthy, he'll be the Bucs default number one pitcher. A nice, out-of-the-blue signing.

Nate McLouth officially rejoined the team, not that he'd know anyone who's left in Pittsburgh since his trade. Nate the Great signed for a year at $1.75M, and will be an insurance policy for the pup Alex Presley and the oft-injured Jose Tabata in the corners. He also comes with health concerns and a terrible stretch in Atlanta, so we'll see what he has left in the tank. Clint Hurdle was asked if going "home" to the Pirates will help. His response, as reported by Rob Biertempfel of the Trib: "It worked for Dorothy."

Jose Morales is a good stick but with no power and good throw-'em-out catcher but not otherwise thought of as a strong defensive guy. Morales is athletic enough that he's played some infield, but his primary position is behind the dish. He's a switch-hitter who was inked to a minor league deal with an invite to camp, so apparently he's gonna get a shot at being the reserve catcher.

His odds improved dramatically when Jason Jaramillo was DFA'ed, along with Pedro Ciriaco. The moves caught us a bit off guard for two reasons: one, we thought both had a shot at bench jobs come spring, and two, we expected guys who the Pirates were planning to non-tender would get the ax first. So it may be that there's still some internal debate about the arb-eligible players getting offers, either through a hearing or contract, or the FO plans on making a couple of other moves.

A couple of media sources have said the Bucs are out of the IF Wilson Betemit auction. Rumors still have them linked to Mark DeRosa and Ian Stewart. They're also thought to have some interest in LHP Jeff Francis, who the FO tried to bring to Pittsburgh last year.

Hey, not a bad hot stove season so far. The Pirate attack hasn't been improved enough to notice, but they did at least bring in a pitcher with better upside than anchoring the bottom of the rotation. And hey, maybe they have another out-of-the-box deal in the works...we hope.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tuesday Meeting Notes

  • Rob Biertempfel of the Trib said that the Bucs are closing in on deals for OF Nate McLouth and either IF Wilson Betemit or Mark DeRosa. Michael Sanserino of the P-G wrote that the McLouth deal is in the serious stages. Nate is a bit of a surprise. If he's being brought in as an insurance policy on Alex Presley, the numbers show that McLouth hits lefties worse than Presley does. Still, a veteran presence can't hurt and he may be over his Atlanta injury bugs.
  • Pitchers that the Pirates are said to be interested in are LHP Jeff Francis and RHP Aaron Cook. Oddly, one name that hasn't come up at all has been that of Paul Maholm. We're wondering if that late season injury was a little more serious than reported.
  • Pittsburgh will find out if Derrik Lee accepts arb tomorrow, although it seems to be a foregone conclusion that he'll move on. And if they're going to play in the Friday draft, they'll have to take someone off the 40-man Wednesday, too.
  • As Will Pellas noted in his comment on the last post, the Bucs are frustrating because they refuse to address holes that won't be filled in the short term through the system. We'll see if they deal for any players in the longer run. Will mentioned the FA pitching; they could get creative and give guys like Chris Leroux or Chris Resop a shot. We're interested to see if they have a package in mind if Gaby Sanchez frees up (Albert Pujols is given a even chance of landing in Florida.) Take away the outfield and second base, and every other position could be upgraded. It would be a pity to see the first wave of talent crest before the next wave hits shore.
  • The Pirates announced their upcoming PirateFest schedule and the players who will participate.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday Meeting Memo

Do things looks like they're falling in place for the Bucs? Well, the jigsaw is taking shape, but the FO appears satisfied to add along the edges now that Rod Barajas and Clint Barmes are in the fold, filling their most critical holes.

Derrik Lee, by all reports, will suit up again next year somewhere, but not until Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder sign and open the market for him and Carlos Pena. The odds of either falling to Pittsburgh are slim, so it looks like a platoon between Garrett Jones and Nick Evans/Matt Hague/Jake Fox is in the cards.

The Pedro Alvarez saga continues to twist and turn. The FO told the media that they're in touch with his trainer, and that El Toro won't play any winter ball. We're sorta surprised that they're not taking a more active role in his winter PT program, especially after cleaning out the training staff in the post-season.

They've admitted that the biggest impact improvement they could make would be for Pedro to live up to his clippings, but it does seem like they're putting Alvarez on a shorter leash in 2012. Mark DeRosa & Ian Stewart are still on their radar, and internally, Jordy Mercer and Josh Harrison could get a look in the spring. The management is at least considering Plan B. But make no mistake, the job is still Alvarez's to lose. That will be the storyline in Florida and the early part of the season.

The Ryan Kadish/Nate McLouth rumors mean two things: One, that they're still not convinced Alex Presley is an everyday player - he did have rough splits last season - so they're looking for insurance, and they're likewise leery of bringing up Gorkys Hernandez, who now has to feel Starling Marte hot on his tail. We're not exactly sure why every other club's prospects look so good to the FO while their home-grown guys have to sit and simmer, but that's consistently been the MO during the Coonelly/Huntington era.

The pitching rotation still needs upgraded, but the talk so far is to add another back-end, inning-eating veteran hurler. It would seem to make sense to look for a number two type arm to hold the fort for a couple of years until guys like Gerritt Cole, Jamison Taillon and Luis Hernadez make their Pittsburgh debuts, but doesn't seem to be the direction they're headed.

It's likely that they'd  have to overpay, ala the Nats and Jayson Werth, to attract that kind of talent and so they're understandably gun shy. One big albatross contract can hold back a low-revenue team like Pittsburgh for a couple of seasons or more. Even the deep pocket Cubs have big problems digging out from under bad commitments.

Watch to see if they add to the bullpen; five guys are up for arb from the relief corps, and they all may not be tendered; Jose Veras at least is on the bubble. But that's a tough read. The FO has been content to wait out the market to add those pieces.

The Rule V draft concludes the meetings, and the FO has remained non-committal as to whether they plan to dive into that pool again. The 40-man roster is full, so someone has to go if they do opt to participate. They could lose a pitcher like Nathan Baker, one of a couple of relievers, or outfielder Andrew Lambo, who is raking in winter ball, to the draft.

There is one possibility of a big move, and that's through a trade. No smoke yet, but they will listen to offers for Hanny and have a small crowd of outfielders and lower level arms for less splashy deals or as add-ins.

One positive thing did happen today. Pirates Director of Media Relations Jim Trdinich was named the winner of the MLB's 2011 Robert O. Fishel Award for Public Relations Excellence. He's been tub thumping for the Pirates for 23 years, and that's one long, thankless stretch.

Into The Winter Meetings...

  • Will he or won't he? Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated tweeted that the Pirates are talking to Derrik Lee, but he has other suitors. His answer, which should come by Wednesday, will tell us a lot about how the first base FA market is shaping up.
  • Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports says the Bucs are in the market for spare outfielders. One they're looking at is Nate McLouth, who would in essence become the 2012 Xavier Paul. He also tweets that Pittsburgh has inquired about Ian Stewart, the Rockies 26 year old infielder.
  • For those who thought Pittsburgh tended to send players back into battle before they were ready, Rob Biertempfel of the Trib wrote that the GM agreed, at least in one case:  “We learned a valuable lesson with James McDonald,” Neal Huntington admitted. “We’ve got to make sure we give our guys spring training. We put James in a tough spot.” 
  • BTW, the Buc roster has been entirely remade. None of the 25 MLB players inherited by Frank Coonelly/Neal Huntington play in Pittsburgh any longer, and Evan Meek is currently the longest-tenured Pirate.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Sunday Stuff

  •  The winter meetings, the official start of the hot stove league, kick off tomorrow. The Pirates will search for another starter and maybe a first baseman, depending on what Derrik Lee decides. He has until Wednesday to accept or nix their arbitration offer. Our guess is he'll opt for the market and start entertaining offers after Sir Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder ink deals. The Pirate FO has also mentioned that they're exploring trades. Hanny, the outfield, and a glut of young, lower level arms are the likeliest bait.
  • A couple other upcoming dates of interest: the winter meetings close on Thursday, December 8th with the Rule V draft and arb-eligible players have to be tendered by Monday, December 12th. The Bucs have nine players in that category this year.
  • Mark Simon blogged in ESPN that the Bucs may have had an ulterior motive in signing 1B Nick Evans from the Mets. Not only does he hit pretty well against lefties, but in limited action last season, he tied for the league lead in runs saved at the position with 7. The Sabermetric driven FO continues in its efforts to shore up the Bucco D, as last year's Pirate firstbasemen surrendered 11 more runs than average with their glovework.
  • For our female readers, bad news: Neil Walker was married Saturday. Congratulations and we wish a long happy life for the couple. And it is still possible; GW has logged 33 years with his bride and never been thrown out the house even once (through no fault of his own, lol).

Friday, December 2, 2011

Hot Stove

  • IF Mark DeRosa, who has missed the past couple of seasons because of a pair of wrist surgeries, is looking to come back according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. He adds that the Pirates are one of a handful of teams doing at least due diligence on him.
  • Per John Perrotto of Inside Pittsburgh Sports, the Pirates will listen for any possible Hanny deals at the winter meetings. A source told him that "...you never know how badly a team wants somebody." There's been a lot of smoke regarding Hanny so far this off-season, though no solid rumors have taken shape - yet.
  • One unconfirmed rumor that's made it's way into a thread or two is that Pittsburgh is looking at Red Sox prospect OF Ryan Kalish, 23, who was Boston's #3 farmhand in 2010 before labrum surgery derailed him last season. He's a larger, RH version of Alex Presley.
  • LHP Chris Capuano signed with the Dodgers for 2 years/$10M. Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports said the Bucs were in on him, too.
  • The Bucco stockpile of catchers is scattering into the wind. Dusty Brown signed a minor league deal with the Rangers and Matt Pagnozzi did the same with the Indians. They join Ryan Doumit, Chris Snyder, and Brian Jeroloman in the backstop exodus from Pittsburgh. That does still leave them with Rod Barajas, Jason Jaramillo, Mike McKenry and minor leaguers Tony Sanchez, Eric Fryer and Ramon Cabrera. They also have Wyatt Toregas back, although he may be destined to coach rather than play.
  • Matt Eddy of Baseball America notes that OF Brandon Moss has left the Phillies organization and signed with the Oakland As.

Bunts And Bleeders

  • Not a huge surprise, we guess, but Keith Law of ESPN rates Pirate CF Andrew McCutchen #2 in his ranking of baseball's top players who are 25 or younger.
  • Rob Biertempfel of the Trib tweeted that the Bucs have been looking at  LHPs Wei-Yin Chen, 26, from Taiwan, and Tsuyoshi Wada, a 30 year-old Japanese hurler. Chen throws heat, hitting the radar in the low-to-mid 90s, and Wada is more a finesse/control guy. He adds that the Pirates are in on the edges for Cuban OF Yoenis Cespedes, but won't get involved in an auction with the big buck boys - and his contract could top $50M.
  • Bill Blank of the Post Gazette said that if RHP Charlie Morton isn't ready to go at the start of the season, the FO isn't about to panic. Because of the early off days, the team could use a four-man rotation in the opening month and only need two spot starts. That's a pretty telling statement regarding their depth.
  • The Pirate draft pool pot for 2012 has been calculated at $9,270,800 by MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo. The spent $8,750,000 in bonus money in 2010 for Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie, and $13 M for Gerritt Cole and Josh Bell last year. It looks like the second-round gravy train is about to derail. (PS - sharp eyed reader Ryan says that's not for the upcoming draft, but the past one. So the Bucco budget is yet to be determined)
  • The Pirates announced that they'll keep minor-league managers Dean Treanor (Indy), P.J. Forbes (Altoona), Carlos Garcia (Bradenton) and Tom Prince (Gulf Coast League). Rick Sofield, who most recently coached at the University of South Carolina Beaufort, will step in to manage in West Virginia. Dave Turgeon will be leaving there to manage short-season State College. Turgeon was West Virginia's pitching coach last season. 
  • Why Joel Hanrahan is such a gaudy trade trinket, part three: the Marlins just signed closer Heath Bell to a  $27M/3 year deal.