Sunday, February 11, 2018

Notes: Final Odds and Ends Before Camp Kicks Off

The trucks crammed with Bucco equipment left PNC Park and headed to Bradenton. Tomorrow is when the pitchers and catchers report. Tick, tick, tick...

  • Elias Diaz's mom was kidnapped in Venezuela.The situation is murky, and the Pirates said "We are all shocked and deeply concerned for Elias' mother, as well as for Elias and his entire family," in an official statement. "We have Elias' mom and Elias' entire family in our prayers. We are using all of the resources available at the Pirates and Major League Baseball to support Elias and his family during this incredibly difficult time. As we work with authorities on his mom's safe return, we will withhold further comment and ask that you please respect the family's need for privacy." Three days and no news yet...EDIT - Reports from Venezuela say that his mom has been rescued and six kidnappers arrested; great news for the Diaz family!
Elias going through a nightmare scenario now - 2016 Donruss Signature
  • Pittsburgh signed Daniel Nava, 34, a lefty swinger who hit .301 w/Philly last year, to a minor league deal with an invite. He's played mostly left with some right and first mixed in. In seven big league years, he's hit .266 w/102 OPS+ and may be the fourth-outfielder bridge man the FO has been looking for.
  • The Pirates officially added right-handed reliever Tyler Jones to list of NRIs for spring training. Jones, 28, averaged 10.7 strikeouts per nine for the NYY's Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre club last season and oddly, for a Bucco pickup, only walked three batters/nine innings. His line was a pedestrian 6-4-3, 4.38, in 44 outings from the pen.
  • Baseball Prospectus has its PECOTA team and player projections (click on the team link for the players). Lotta ho-hum predicted for the Buccos. 
  • Chris Mitchell of Fangraphs has his Top 100 by KOTAH, which projects a player's WAR in his first six MLB seasons. The Bucs have a handful of guys on the list: #18 - 3B Ke'Bryan Hayes, #19 - IF Cole Tucker, #27 - OF Austin Meadows, #46 - RHP Mitch Keller, #57 - C Jacob Stallings, # 73 - OF Lolo Sanchez and # 89 - 3B Colin Moran.
  • Fangraph's Eric Longenhagen & Kiley McDaniel have a list of players poised to join 2019's Top 100 Prospect gang - the Bucs are repped by IF Kevin Kramer, 3B Oneil Cruz and OF Lolo Sanchez.
Kevin Kramer 2016 via MLB Pipeline
  • Geez, busy year for the dope detectives. Altoona 2B Mitchell Tolman received a 50-game suspension after a second positive test for a drug of abuse. He joins pitching prospects Nik Turley and Montana DuRapau on the suspended druggie list; hope this isn't becoming a thing in Buccoland after Starling lost half of last year and boozeput the skids to JHK's career.
  • C Chris Stewart, 35, plans to attend the MLPBA spring camp for unsigned free agents, so Stewie hasn't hung 'em up yet despite being banged up for a couple of campaigns. The camp will reportedly be held at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, a 10-minute trip from the Pirates complex, starting on the 15th. So if the Bucs are sniffing at any FA's...
  • Mike McKenry is coming back to Pittsburgh. The Fort, who retired as a player earlier in the year, will appear on AT&T SportsNet pre & post game shows as an analyst with Stan Savran, Rob King and Dan Potash. He'll replace the retired Teke Tekulve.
  • The San Francisco Giants signed OF Eury Perez as a minor league FA; he played for Indy last year. 
  • Once-upon-a-time Bucco reliever John Axford signed an NRI deal with Toronto.
  • Hey, they're finally making a Roberto Clemente movie
Neil Walker 2016 Topps insert
  • Neil Walker got some love as "Mr Reliable" from Fangraph's David Laurila, who noted about the only diff in The Kid over the years is that he's lost his toe-tap.
  • The saga continues - the Pirates paid $10M in ballpark alterations and wanted reimbursed $4.5M of that amount by the Sports & Exhibition Authority. The SEA OK'ed $2.6M, saying some of the improvements weren't necessary but bling for the team. The club was not pleased and threatened court action, so we'll see how that ends up.
  • Indianapolis has set up a pretty cool exhibition - they're going to host Notre Dame in mid-April at Victory Field. The Irish are about 150 miles north of Indy and the game should generate some Hoosier buzz for both clubs. 
  • The Cubs signed Yu Darvish, 31, to a six-year/$126M deal w/bonuses that could bring it up to $150M. The total package is actually pretty close to what the seers predicted that he'd get, even with the glacial FA market.
  • The Giants will retire Barry Bonds’ #25 before their August 11th game against the Pirates at AT&T Park. Hopefully they won't have Cutch present it to him...


WilliamJPellas said...

Nava is one of the very few players who ever made it out of independent minor league baseball all the way to the majors. I think he could be useful as a fourth outfielder-pinch hitter-backup first baseman.

Ron Ieraci said...

Yah, Will, I think they were looking for a stopgap guy on a one-year deal. If Meadows can get it together, he'll be up sometime this season. Luplow and Reynolds need some AAA looks,but the OF is slowing rounding into shape. A lot of guys think Frazier is a mess in left, but I thought he held his own, better than at second base, anyway. And there are a handful of middle infield guys in the pipeline, so I'm feeling OK about the future, tho not so much about 2018.

WilliamJPellas said...

I am liking the future, as well. I agree with you re: Frazier. I think he should become the new super-utility guy, with Harrison the starter at second. If our new guy from Houston flames out a third--which I don't expect to happen--but if so, Harrison can always slide over to third and Frazier can take over at second. Meanwhile we have Kevin Newman about to graduate from the minors, and another good-looking MINF prospect at Altoona whose name escapes me just now.

In the outfield, I want to like Luplow--I really do--but I fear he might be like many college players. He won't be a bust, meaning that his "floor" as a player is higher, but he also won't be a star, because his "ceiling" is lower. I would say he might make a good fourth OF going forward, but I don't know that he's good enough defensively for that role. Ideally you want a guy like R. J. Reynolds was back in the day. While he didn't have any power, he could play all three OF spots, he hit for average, and he could steal some bags.

I am one who really likes Reynolds and I expect him to become at least a solid-average major league starter, and probably better than that. I'm pretty sure he'll never hit the transcendent heights that the "superstar" version of McCutchen did---but it's worth remembering that Andrew's peak wasn't that long. Maybe 3 or 4 seasons. Now, those were great seasons, make no mistake. But whether from injury or what have you, he wasn't the same after that and while he's still good, he's not great. And he was never better than average defensively, either.

Ron Ieraci said...

Luplow and Reynolds are both kinda projections now; Luplow has a little bit of AA time and Reynolds AA, so they still have some growing up to do. Meadows isn't exactly Mr Vet, but at least he has 450 PAs in AAA; a healthy season hopefully will get him over the hump and into LF at PNC. I like the pitching this year and think Taillon and Kuhl both step up, with Williams & Nova league-average kinda guys. So if Musgrove/Brault/Glasnow can hold down the five spot and Kontos is a decent bridge to Rivero, I'm looking for good things from the staff. They're still in transition, but once the IF guys in the pipeline get here, they could be competitive in '19 and should be interesting in 2020.

Ron Ieraci said...

AAA for Luplow; sorry. I proof as well as I type, lol.

Anonymous said...

Martin will be the outfield in 2018. Power & Speed. Just needs opportunity.

Ron Ieraci said...

You could be right; some guys that believe he'll be challenging by mid-year. He can run, so LF won't be an issue. The Bucs usually don't jump AA guys to the show, but a strong start could get him bullet list. At any rate, It's nice to see some depth now with Martin, Reynolds and Meadows. The Pirates were paper thin in the OF and now have a trio that could be MLB-ready by AS break. El Coffee might want to look over his shoulder...