Monday, April 28, 2014

How AJ, Morneau, Byrd, GI Jones & the Other Castaways Are Faring...

There were some shake-ups in the roster from the team that finished in the playoffs to today's squad. The 2013 club lost a RF'er (Marlon Byrd); two 1B (Justin Morneau, Garrett Jones), a top end pitcher (AJ Burnett) and a handful of plug-ins. Here's how those guys are doing a month into the season:
  • Justin Morneau is hitting .349 with five homers and 19 RBI in 93 PA for the Rockies; he hit .260 with no homers and three RBI in 92 PA as a Pirate.
  • Marlon Byrd isn't having the same success as he did in Pittsburgh. He hit .318 w/ three homers and 17 RBI as a Buc with an .843 OPS in 115 PA. His power numbers are the same at with Philly (2 HR, 16 RBI) but his average (.269) and OPS (.704) are way down in 98 PA. His curse has been whiffing; he struck out 17% of the time in Pittsburgh, but is K'ing at a 29% rate in Philadelphia.
  • AJ Burnett is pitching OK for the Phils, with an 0-1/2.73 line in five starts. With the Bucs, he was 10-11/3.30 with 30 starts. However, his peripherals aren't very sharp yet: he averages 6 K and 5 BB/nine with a 1.449 WHIP compared to 2013's 10 K, 3 BB and 1.215 WHIP. He also has a hernia that he's been working through.
  • Garrett Jones has changed not a twit. At Miami, his line is .233/.293/.389 with two homers and 11 RBI. With the Pirates, it was .233/.289/.419 with 15 HR and 51 RBI.
  • Alex Presley got around. He hit .264 with a .663 OPS for the Bucs, then went to Minnesota where his numbers were .283/.699. After a rough spring, he ended up with the Astros, and there he's hitting .246 w/.631 OPS.
  • Mike McKenry was non-tendered after hitting .217 for Pittsburgh last season. He went on to sign with Colorado, and he's at their AAA club, Colorado Springs, and has a .310 BA there.
  • James McDonald went 2-2/5.76 with the Pirates. He signed a minor league deal with the Cubs for 2014, but J-Mac was placed on the 60-day DL with shoulder inflammation.
  • John Buck, who hit a combined .222 for the Pirates and Mets last year, is a back-up at Seattle and hitting .231.
An argument could be made for making Morneau, 32, an offer as his 2-year, $11.75M with Colorado was reasonable. But after seeing his audition at Pittsburgh, and adding the grain of salt to his current stats because of Coors Field, it's easy to see why the FO passed on him. Still, it will be interesting to see how his year and Ike Davis' season play out.

Ditto with AJ, although his hernia and drop in K rate are red flags early in the season. But his loss put a big dent in Bucco starting pitching depth when he left, and it's starting to show now with Wandy hurt, Jameson Taillon and Kyle McPherson both down for the season and beyond, and Jeff Locke just getting back into shape. It was tough to tell how much AJ's departure was on the brass and how much was on him as both sides wriggled around in a  pretty bizarre mating ritual.

Byrd, of course, was fairly irrelevant once the season ended. He wanted security and the Bucs wanted a baby-sitter for RF until June, so he never was in play for 2014.

The rest of the guys were pieces, not building blocks. But it would have been nice to hang on to AJ and maybe Morneau; that's to be determined.

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