Sunday, February 21, 2016

Notes: Joyce, Cole, JHK; Josh-Alen; Jared-Shark; Projected Wins & Other Randomness

Camp is humming quietly along...
  •  Pittsburgh signed Matt Joyce, a LH corner OF'er, to a MiLB deal w/camp invite. In six years with Tampa, he slashed .250/.342/.435 with an All-Star berth before failing to clear the Mendoza Line for the Haloes last season. He's getting a look as a possible fourth OF'er/bench lefty.
  • It's being pooh-poohed, but Gerrit Cole has "right rib inflammation" and has been on a modified PT program since January. No word on the cause, and let's hope it's just something that needs a little rest.
  • Jung Ho Kang has been doing some basic drills, and seems to be recovering at a nice pace. We'd still be surprised to see him start on Opening Day, but it's good news to know he'll be available sooner rather than later. In a related issue, the Player's Association and MLB are thought to be making headway on a sliding rule that could be ready for the season. Its exact form has yet TBD, but in the Arizona League, the players had to slide directly into the base, so that's one possible model.
  • Fangraphs'  Paul Swydan writes about a possible Josh Harrison/Alen Hanson conundrum
  • Jared Hughes and Mark Melancon sported the new protective pitcher's helmet while doing bullpens; the headgear looks a lot like a plastic golf visor cap. 
The New Lids (image via Adam Berry/
  • USA Today picked its 2016 team win totals; the Cubs have the highest projection in MLB with 101 wins, with the Bucs coming in third in the NL Central with 88 victories. Baseball Prospectus isn't sold on the division; they have the Cubs winning 92 games, but the Pirates & Cards barely breaking .500 and both missing the playoffs.
  • This year's Sunday throwback unis are based on the yellow 1979 World Series club's jersey, black pants, pillbox cap and all.
Cutch Sports the Throwback (image via Pittsburgh Pirates)
  • Doc Emrick, NBC hockey announcer and big Bucco fan, will call some as yet undisclosed Pirates spring training games w/Greg Brown.
  • Sam Dykstra of looks at the Central Division rookies, with the young Pirate arms being pretty impressive on paper. Also, Richard Justice of selected 20 rookies who could impact the 2016 season. Among them were Tyler Glasnow, Jameson Taillon and Josh Bell.
  • Baseball America has a chart of the draft and international bonus pools; the Bucs are mid-pack. 
  • Tony Sanchez signed a MiLB deal with camp invite with the Blue Jays.
  • Ike Davis agreed to a minor league deal with the Rangers.
  • RHP Brooks Pounders, 25, is an NRI at the KC camp. The second rounder from 2009 has overcome TJ surgery & a torn lat to make his first MLB spring training appearance. He was traded to the Royals by the Bucs for IF Yamaico Navarro in 2011. 
  • John Sorce of Baseball Essentials has a piece on how the MLB divisions would look like if they were banded together by geography rather than the gerrymander process.


WilliamJPellas said...

I don't believe in the Cubs and I'm calling my shot right here and now. I don't think they have enough pitching, particularly if Arrieta has the usual regression and/or injury after a year in which he zoomed past his previous career high for innings pitched. And the rest of their rotation definitely doesn't scare me unless Jon Lester has one more great season left in him, and I'm not sure that's the case. Even there, Lackey is a fine pitcher but he's 37 this season, and the back of their rotation isn't very good, period. Their 'pen doesn't come close to Pittsburgh's, and their hitters led the universe in striking out last year and that by a wide margin. Then they got rid of a fine young middle infielder in Starlin Castro and replaced him with 34 year old Ben Zobrist. He's a good ballplayer but miscast as a starter at his age, seems to me.

Meanwhile the Cardinals are primed for a dropoff. So I think the Division is still there for the Pirates---provided Cole's injury isn't serious, and that remains to be seen. But if our rotation is in one piece, I'm calling it for the Bucs in 2016.

Ron Ieraci said...

Sorry I haven't gotten back sooner, Will; been a busy few days. But your point is well taken. The Cubs plan to hammer opponents into submission while the Pirates look like they want to win a six inning game and let the pen close it out. Both plans worked for their prospective teams last year, so it should be an interesting campaign. If the Pirate starting staff can hold it together for 10 weeks, it'll be a race. SL is always a concern, tho - they always outperform their roster; I would never had seen them as a 100 win team last year.

Good points before, too. Watson will be expensive in 2017; kinda thinking that's why so many closer-type guys were brought in this year. And it is a good collection if Uncle Ray can get those guys to throw a strike or two. As for in-house, it looks like the Pirates FO doesn't have any intention of wasting time on developing relievers; they're just interested in starting potential. Seems like there are plenty of arms floating around in the off season to make that MO a thing.

WilliamJPellas said...

Agreed that the Cardinals always seem to be better in the real world than they are on paper. IMO they have the best organization in baseball and have for many years. Why is it that their prospects, even less well regarded ones, always seem to fit right in and know how to play the game from the moment they first take the field in the big leagues? Answer: because they're playing the game the same way they did from their first days in rookie league.

Even so, I don't think the Cardinals are going to be quite as good over the next couple of years as they have been for the past decade or more. I think they're in transition. The question for them is whether their next wave of minor leaguers---the guys who will be "graduating" to the majors in, say, 2018 - 2020---are numerous and good enough to 1) replace their current veteran core, most of which will be retired by then, and 2) to augment their current young veterans like Randal Grichuk and Kolten Wong.

I think the Cubs are going to disappoint and disappoint severely. Kris Bryant is impressive, but he was a college guy and most of them don't get much better than they already are when they make it to The Show. He also fanned 199 times last year. You read that right. Most hitters who have that kind of hole in their swing are prone to long slumps, particularly when their opponents have had an entire offseason to watch film. Kyle Schwarber? Nice shot you hit off Gerrit Cole, but where does he play on the field? The guy is a DH in the wrong league. And he is another one who strikes out at an absolutely fearful rate. Oh, and Jason Heyward in center field? Good luck with that.