Tag Archives: Pittsburgh Pirates

Season Preview – NL Central


Time to look at the 6 team NL Central division. You can also take a look at my previews of the AL East, AL Central, AL West, and NL East.

Last Year’s Records
Cincinnati – 91-71
St. Louis – 86-76
Milwaukee – 77-85
Houston – 76-86
Chicago – 75-87
Pittsburgh – 57-105

Notable Additions

Chicago – Carlos Pena, Matt Garza, Kerry Wood

Cincinnati – Edgar Renteria

Houston – Clint Barmes

Milwaukee – Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum, Yuniesky Betancourt, Takashi Saito, Mark Kotsay

Pittsburgh – Lyle Overbay, Garrett Atkins, Kevin Correia, Scott Olsen, Joe Beimel

St. Louis – Ryan Theriot, Lance Berkman

Notable Losses

Chicago – Sam Fuld, Tom Gorzelanny

Cincinnati – Arthur Rhodes, Orlando Cabrera, Aaron Harang

Houston – Matt Lindstrom, Felipe Paulino

Milwaukee – Brett Lawrie, Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, Gregg Zaun

Pittsburgh -  Zack Duke, Andy LaRoche, Lastings Milledge

St. Louis – Brendan Ryan, Pedro Feliz, Brad Penny, Jeff Suppan

My Thoughts

Chicago – The Cubs had a very disappointing season last year, and went out and tried to plug some of those holes this offseason. Bringing in Carlos Pena on a 1 year contract, despite its cost, looks like a very nice signing for a power bat. The acquisition of Matt Garza brings a young, cost-controlled high-end starting pitcher to their rotation, but at the cost of top prospects Hak-Ju Lee, Chris Archer, and others.  I am not sold that this team will compete this year, as they will need bounceback performances from Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, and Carlos Zambrano to really end up in the thick of the race.

Cincinnati – The defending NL Central champions, the team has lost Aaron Harang and will hope that the combination of Mike Leake, Travis Wood, and others will be able to pitch complete seasons this year. The team returns nearly every player from last season’s title, but I don’t think that it is a slam-dunk that they will just run away with the division again this year.

Houston – Talk about a rebuilding effort. Here’s a team which has very few high-end prospects in the system right now, who also does not have a lot of higher-quality players at the Major League level either. There are some quality players in Hunter Pence and Brett Myers, but there’s not a lot of hope for the 2011 season. They will look to get a solid rookie season out of last year’s acquisition, Brett Wallace, but you have essentially gathered a group of mid-level players who can fill out a roster, but are unlikely to compete as a group for a division title, let alone a league championship

Milwaukee – And within the same division, you have a team who has gone all-in for 2011. The Brewers have traded nearly all of their top prospects in order to improve their pitching staff, and did so with the acquisitions of Marcum and Greinke. It’s not a great sign that Greinke is hurt already, but he should return in mid April and only miss a few starts. The bigger story throughout the season will be whether or not they fall out of contention and attempt to trade Prince Fielder before the deadline. They definitely remain a team to be reckoned with in the NL Central.

Pittsburgh – For a team that lost 105 games last year, they actually have a lot to look forward to. Center fielder Andrew McCutchen is poised to become one of the best young players in the Majors, and 2nd year players Jose Tabata and Pedro Alvarez both will look to build on their solid rookie years. They aren’t likely to compete this season, but there’s hope for Pirates fans that is starting to show itself at the Major League level.

St. Louis – The biggest story out of St. Louis up until the start of Spring Training was whether or not Albert Pujols would sign a contract extension prior to the start of the season, and unfortunately it’s no longer the current top story out of their camp. With Cy Young runner up Adam Wainwright out for the season with Tommy John surgery, they will now look to replace at least some part of his production in the starting rotation. I’m not sold that this team, as constructed, can compete for the division title. They will need everything else to fall just right for them to win this division.

Overall Thoughts

The NL Central really has the look of a wide open division. If things fall just right, 4 of the teams could conceivably win the division this season. That said, I’m not sold that things will fall right for all of them, but it should be intersting to watch regardless.  Here’s my predicted order of finish:

1. Milwaukee
2. Cincinnati
3. St. Louis
4. Chicago
5. Pittsburgh
6. Houston

Who are the Faces of the Franchise? NL Central Edition


Only two divisions left to look at for the Faces of the Franchise, but there’s some definite notable ones here .

  • Cubs – At the moment, the player who is most known for being a Cub has to be Carlos Zambrano. Whether or not that is a good thing or not remains to be seen, but the team seems like it is more associated with him than some of the more famous position players like Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez. Continue reading

Prospect Review – Jameson Taillon


The next prospect up for review is Jameson Taillon of the Pittsburgh Pirates

The Basics
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
How Acquired: Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1st round (#2 overall) in the 2010 amateur draft
Age as of 4/1/11: 19

Prospect Ranks
Hardball Times: #1 (PIT – 2011)
Deep Leagues: #17 (Overall -  2011), #9 (SP – 2011)
Project Prospect: #10 (Overall – 2011)
Bullpen Banter: #9 (SP – 2011)
MLB.COM: #18 (Overall – 2011)
Baseball America: #1 (PIT – 2011)
John Sickels: #1 (PIT – 2011) B+
Scouting Book: #11 (RHP – 2011), #43 (Overall – 2011)
Top Prospect Alert: #1 (PIT – 2011)

Analysis

You know, after trying to write up a couple of high school players last year, I told myself then that I wasn’t going to write any up this year because it’s too hard to find information. But when you’re dealing with the 2nd pick in the draft last year, information isn’t nearly as hard to come by.

Continue reading

Season Preview in Review – National League Central


Back during Spring Training, I took a look at each team and made predictions about how each team would do and how I thought their season would go. This was the first year doing this, and I figured now was a good time to take a look back and see how it went. I previously looked at each of the divisions in the American League and the NL East, and I move now to the NL Central.

Chicago Cubs

Predicted Record: 87-75
Actual Record: 75-87

I had thought that the Cubs would find a way to put it together this season, and find a way to win what definitely appeared to be a weak division. Unfortunately, it was not to be, and the team really spun out of control throughout the season. The bright spots for the team really seemed to be the emergence of rookie shortstop Starlin Castro and the performance that manager Mike Quade was able to coax out of the team. Hopefully they will be able to make a quick recovery in 2011. Continue reading

Original Draft Series: #12 – Pittsburgh Pirates


For those that missed the guidelines I am using for this series of posts, you can find them here.

Team #12: Pittsburgh Pirates

General Managers(since 1994)

Cam Bonifay (1994-2001): 541-688
Dave Littlefield (2002-2007): 349-549
Neal Huntington (2008-Current): 129-194

Team Performance

Playoffs Division Finish
WC League Playoff App 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Last
0 0 0 0 1 2 2 11

All information is drawn from Baseball Reference.

Position Name Acquired Years with Org.
Stats with Organization
Left?
C Jason Kendall 1992 – 1st Rd (23) 12 3 All-Star Appearances
1252 gm, .306/.387/.418, 67 HR, 471 RBI, 140 SB
Traded to OAK – 11/27/04
1B Jose Bautista 2000 – 20th Rd 3+4 400 gm, .241/.329/.403, 43 HR, 159 RBI, 10 SB Selected by BAL – 12/15/03
2B Neil Walker
2004 – 1st Rd (11) 6 74 gm, .287/.332/.421, 5 HR, 31 RBI, 3 SB Currently with Org.
3B Aramis Ramirez Int’l FA – 1994 9 559 gm, .263/.312/.435, 76 HR, 316 RBI Traded to CHC – 7/23/03
SS Jeff Keppinger 2001 – 4th Rd 3 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to NYM – 7/30/04
LF Nate McLouth 2000 – 25th Rd 9 1 All Star Appearance, 1 Gold Glove
481 gm, .261/.339/.462, 60 HR, 194 RBI, 64 SB
Traded to ATL – 6/3/09
CF Andrew McCutchen 2005 – 1st Rd (11) 5 209 gm, .286/.362/.454, 21 HR, 87 RBI, 43 SB Currently with Org.
RF Nyjer Morgan
2002 – 33rd Rd 7 157 gm, .286/.351/.376, 3 HR, 41 RBI, 34 SB Traded to WAS – 6/30/09
DH Jose Guillen Int’l FA – 1992 7 336 gm, .267/.301/.406, 29 HR, 172 RBI Traded to TAM- 7/23/99
SP Ian Snell 2000 – 26th Rd 9 33-46, 4.75 ERA, 576 K, 308 BB, 693 IP Traded to SEA – 7/29/09
SP Tim Wakefield
1988 – 8th Rd 7 14-12, 4.17 ERA, 110 K, 110 BB, 220.1 IP Released – 4/20/05
SP Bronson Arroyo 1995 – 3rd Rd 7 9-14, 5.44 ERA, 111 K, 85 BB, 187 IP Selected by BOS – 2/4/03
SP Paul Maholm
2003 – 1st Rd (8) 7 45-53, 4.37 ERA, 570 K, 317 BB, 927.1 IP Currently with Org.
SP Zach Duke 2001 – 20th Rd 9 1 All Star Appearance
42-65, 4.42 ERA, 477 K, 244 BB, 913.2 IP
Currently with Org.
RP John Grabow 1997 – 3rd Rd 12 20-15, 4.09 ERA, 326 K, 167 BB, 363.1 IP Traded to CHC – 7/30/09
RP Sean Burnett 2000 – 1st Rd (19) 9 7-8, 4.54 ERA, 95 K, 77 BB, 160.2 IP Traded to WAS – 6/30/09
RP Mike Gonzalez 1997 – 30th Rd 9 7-9, 2.37 ERA, 287 SV, 183 K, 74 BB, 155.2 IP Traded to ATL – 1/19/07
RP Tom Gorzelanny 2003 – 2nd Rd 6 25-25, 4.79 ERA, 252 K, 176 BB, 383.1 IP Traded to CHC – 7/30/09
RP Leo Nunez Int’l FA – 2000 4 No Major League Appearances with Org. Traded to KC – 12/16/04
CL Matt Capps 2002 – 7th Rd 7 19-19, 67 SV, 3.61 ERA, 208 K, 50 BB, 271.2 IP Non-tendered – 12/12/09
BN Rajai Davis 2001 – 38th Rd 6 44 gm, .242/.333/.323, 2 RBI, 6 SB Traded to SF – 7/31/07
BN Ryan Doumit 1999 – 2nd Rd 11 490 gm, .270/.332/.441, 54 HR, 223 RBI, 10 SB Currently with Org.
BN Steven Pearce 2005 – 8th Rd 5 135 gm, .240/.313/.394, 8 HR, 42 RBI, 5 SB Currently with Org.
BN Ronny Paulino Int’l FA – 1997 11 304 gm, .278/.331/.382, 19 HR, 128 RBI Traded to PHI – 12/10/08
BN Pedro Alvarez 2008 – 1st Rd (2) 2 44 gm, .229/.307/.439, 9 HR, 26 RBI Currently with Org.

June Amateur Draft

This team has had a lot of high first round picks in the last 15 years, and they are finally starting to see some production from the,. While they had players like Sean Burnett and Paul Maholm , both of whom provided value but were definitely not the high end players that they had hoped, they are now seeing top tier players in Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez make an impact at the Major League level. Getting some late round values like Zack Duke and Ian Snell has definitely helped also.

International Free Agency

The Pirates have a few high-profile international free agent signees in Aramis Ramirez and Jose Guillen, but unfortunately many of their international free agents have not had a large positive impact with the Pirates. It seems at this point that their most well known international free agents have done well, just not in Pittsburgh. They have been active in a lot of markets, including India.

Overall Grade

B. I like the level of talent that has gone through the organization. But the fact that so many of these players either were given away (Rajai Davis, Aramis Ramirez, Leo Nunez), or did not have any success with the team itself shows why the success level in these past 15 seasons has been less than acceptable. I actually like the progress that the team is making, and with honegrown talents Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez locked in for the next few seasons, the team should start to see improvement in the standings as soon as next season.

Trade Deadline Review


Well, we are now officially one day past the non-waiver trade deadline, and there have been quite a few different trades made. It was definitely one of the more active periods in a lot of years. I wrote up the major trades as they happened, and you can read my thoughts with the links below.

Major Trades

Texas Rangers acquire SP Cliff Lee and P Mark Lowe from the Seattle Mariners for 1B Justin Smoak and 3 minor leaguers
Los Angeles Angels acquire SP Dan Haren from the Arizona Diamondbacks for SP Joe Saunders and 3 minor leaguers
Philadelphia Phillies acquire SP
Roy Oswalt from the Houston Astros for SP J.A. Happ and 2 minor leaguers

Semi-Major Deals

1. New York Yankees acquire RP Kerry Wood from the Cleveland Indians for a player to be named later or cash
2. New York Yankees acquire 1B Lance Berkman from the Houston Astros for P Mark Melancon and Jimmy Paredes
3. Los Angeles Dodgers acquire SP Ted Lilly and IF Ryan Theriot from the Chicago Cubs for IF Blake DeWitt, minor league P Brett Wallach and Kyle Smit
4. St. Louis Cardinals acquire SP Jake Westbrook from the Cleveland Indians and minor leaguer Nick Greenwood from the San Diego Padres, San Diego Padres acquire OF Ryan Ludwick from the St. Louis Cardinals, Cleveland Indians acquire minor leaguer Corey Kluber from the San Diego Padres
5. Pittsburgh Pirates acquire C Chris Snyder and OF Pedro Ciriaco from the Arizona Diamondbacks for P D.J. Carrasco, IF Bobby Crosby, and OF Ryan Church
6. Chicago White Sox acquire SP Edwin Jackson from the Arizona Diamondbacks for SP Daniel Hudson and P David Holmberg
7. Minnesota Twins acquire RP Matt Capps from the Washington Nationals for C Wilson Ramos and minor league P Joe Testa
8. Texas Rangers acquire IF Jorge Cantu from the Florida Marlins for minor leaguer pitchers Evan Reed and Omar Poveda
9. Los Angeles Dodgers acquire OF Scott Podsednik from the Kansas City Royals for minor leaguers C Lucas May and P Elisaul Pimentel
10. Los Angeles Angels acquire 3B Alberto Callaspo from the Kansas City Royals for P Sean O’Sullivan and P Will Smith
11. Toronto Blue Jays acquire SS Yunel Escobar and P Jo-Jo Reyes from the Atlanta Braves for SS Alex Gonzalez and minor leaguers Tyler Pastornicky and Tim Collins
12. Los Angeles Dodgers acquire RP Octavio Dotel from the Pittsburgh Pirates for OF Andrew Lambo and P James McDonald

Minor Moves

1. Texas Rangers acquire IF Cristian Guzman from the Washington Nationals for minor leaguers Ryan Tatsuko and Tanner Roark
2. Texas Rangers acquire C Bengie Molina from the San Francisco Giants for P Chris Ray
3. Toronto Blue Jays acquire 1B Mike Jacobs from the New York Mets for a player to be named later
4. San Diego Padres acquire IF Miguel Tejada from the Baltimore Orioles for minor league P Wynn Pelzer
5. Tampa Bay Rays acquire RP Chad Qualls from the Arizona Diamondbacks for a player to be named later
6. New York Yankees acquire OF Austin Kearns from the Cleveland Indians for ?
7. Detroit Tigers acquire IF Jhonny Peralta from the Cleveland Indians for minor league P Giovanny Soto
8. San Francisco Giants acquire P Javier Lopez from the Pittsburgh Pirates for P Joe Martinez and OF John Bowker
9. Atlanta Braves acquire IF Wilkin Ramirez from the Detroit Tigers for cash or a player to be named later
10. Florida Marlins acquire RP Will Ohman from the Baltimore Orioles for P Rick VandenHurk
11. San Francisco Giants acquire RP Ramon Ramirez from the Boston Red Sox for P Daniel Turpen
12. Atlanta Braves acquire OF Rick Ankiel and RP Kyle Farnsworth from the Kansas City Royals for P Jesse Chavez, OF Gregor Blanco, and minor league P Tim Collins
13. Boston Red Sox acquire C Jarrod Saltalamacchia from the Texas Rangers for 1B Chris McGuiness, P Ramon Mendez and a player to be named later or cash

Wow. There’s still stuff coming in as I write this, and in the last hour there have been a lot of these to get done. So who did well here and who didn’t?

Winners

The Yankees – Let’s see if we have this right. The Yankees picked up Lance Berkman to be their designated hitter. They added Kerry Wood to help solidify the back end of the bullpen behind Mariano Rivera. And they got both of them for a pair of players that are of no use to the Yankees, and even got some money in the deals? Really? They already have the best record in the Majors, and have decidedly improved their team with both acquisitions. Oh, and they added to their bench depth with Austin Kearns as well.

The Rangers – With a decent lead in the AL West, the Rangers went out and got themselves an ace starter (Lee), a solid catcher who can help them play defense at the position (Molina), a run producing right handed bat who can play two positions (Cantu), a backup infielder who will be able to spell their third baseman and shortstop, and fill in while their second baseman is on the disabled list (Guzman),  and moved a player that they had soured on for some prospects. They are the prohibitive favorite in the AL West at this point, now being 8 games ahead of the 2nd place Angels and 8.5 of the 3rd place Athletics. They plugged nearly every gap they had in their team, and will go into the pennant chase with a very good chance of being in the World Series at the end of it.

The Angels – Even though the moves may end up being more for next season, acquiring Dan Haren to give them a very good 1-2 punch in their rotation for “some magic beans” as Matthew Berry put it on the Fantasy Focus podcast was a stroke of genius. Callaspo also gives them a solid hitter to play at 3B which they had sorely been missing. While it may not be enough to catch the Rangers, they gave up very little of value to do both trades.

The Pirates – They took D.J. Carrasco, Bobby Crosby, Javier Lopez, Octavio Dotel, and Ryan Church and turned them into a major league backstop (Snyder), two solid potential major leaguers (Bowker and Martinez), and 2 higher end, albeit risky prospects (Lambo, McDonald). Someone must have put something in Neal Huntington’s coffee that helped out a lot. They did extremely well to turn a lot of random pieces that aren’t really that helpful into all that.

The Royals – Pieces that aren’t for the future: Podsednik, Ankiel, Farnsworth, Callaspo. All moved for players with varying levels of upside who can help with the rebuilding process: Lucas May, Tim Collins, Jesse Chavez, Gregor Blanco, Sean O’Sullivan, Will Smith. Not the most amazing group of players, and definitely no high-end prospects here. But the Royals have a lot of high-end prospects already, and need others to help give them some balance as well with regard to position scarcity and depth overall. Very well done today.

The Padres – They gave up a pair of pitching prospects to acquire a much needed outfield bat, and a utility player who should provide some value over the remainder of the season. Nothing too major here, and definitely nothing that mortgages the future. I like the Ludwick acquisition, as he could see an improvement with a change of scenery. I’m not 100% sold on the Tejada acquisition, but they didn’t really give up that much to get him in my opinion.

Losers

The Nationals – The trade of Matt Capps was nice, netting them a very good catching prospect in Wilson Ramos. But the way that they handled Adam Dunn leading up to the trade deadline was inexcusable. They clearly had not made up their mind as to what they wanted to do with him, and in the end they simply ran out of time. They clearly could have gotten more for him had they moved him instead of waiting for his free agency to play out, and the only reason to do that would have been to get him signed to an extension (which they didn’t do either). Not sure what happened here, but we’ll see if this was a really bad plan from the start.

The Dodgers – In a division where they are 7.5 games back of the leader and 5 games back of the wild card leader, the Dodgers decided to go for it, sending prospects Brett Wallach, Kyle Smit, Lucas May, Elisaul PimentelAndrew Lambo, and James McDonald (along with Blake DeWitt) to other teams to acquire: the remainder of this season from Octavio Dotel, Ted Lilly and Scott Podsednik, and also Ryan Theriot. I’m pretty sure that if they had offered those players to the Diamondbacks they would have been able to get Dan Haren, Kelly Johnson, and a bullpen arm. I’m also pretty convinced that they could have offered that group to the Mariners and gotten Cliff Lee, Jose Lopez and possibly David Aardsma. I’m not at all impressed with what they did here, and are only one bad week from being completely out of the race.

The Orioles – It’s a tough beat, but they were only able to move Will Ohman and Miguel Tejada, and would have been served by moving Ty Wigginton and Kevin Millwood, among others. Unfortunately, neither player has been playing well of late, and had essentially managed to knock their own values down to next to nothing.

The Twins – They needed some help in the bullpen, and really could have used another starting pitcher behind Francisco Liriano and Carl Pavano. Unfortunately, they only filled one of those gaps, and at a cost that seems high even considering that the prospect that they gave up had no place to play in the Twins’ future.

Mixed Bag

The Astros – They were able to get out from under a lot of the big dollar contracts owed to Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman, and got back at least a reasonable return. Brett Wallace will slot in at 1B to replace Berkman, and J.A. Happ will fill Oswalt’s slot in the rotation. But time will tell if they get anything other than salary relief for Berkman, and Happ and Wallace will have to be very good to replace the value of Oswalt in my opinion.

The Phillies – They gave up a lot more to get Oswalt than they got back in return for Cliff Lee, who would have played a similar role for the Phillies this season had he not been traded. Oswalt will need to be the piece that moves them over the top for this one to really be a winner for them.

The Diamondbacks – They acquired a pretty good young pitcher in return for Edwin Jackson (Hudson). But they practically gave away Dan Haren, a better pitcher who was not that much more expensive than Jackson. They got back a bunch of garbage essentially for their second catcher Snyder. Crosby is a free agent after the season, and Church and Carrasco are both likely candidates for a non-tender after the season. They also did not move Kelly Johnson and Adam LaRoche, both of whom had a lot of value built up despite poor performance of late. Some of the players they acquired could turn out to be good, but it remains to be seen.

The White Sox – They really could have used a bat, and it sounds like they were trying to get one by acquiring Edwin Jackson. I honestly can’t remember the last time I heard about a player being acquired with the hope of moving him to another team, only to have that other team tell them it wasn’t enough. Jackson is a nice pitcher, but is not that much better than Hudson should be.

Overall, a very exciting trade deadline, and there is still the possibility that we will see a lot more trades before the waiver deadline of August 31st.

Team Preview – Pittsburgh Pirates


Roster Makeup
Lineup Pitching Staff
Pos Name Role Name
C Ryan Doumit SP 1 Zach Duke
1B Jeff Clement SP 2 Ross Ohlendorf
2B Akinori Iwamura SP 3 Paul Maholm
3B Andy LaRoche SP 4 Charlie Morton
SS Ronny Cedeno SP 5 Kevin Hart
LF Lastings Milledge Bullpen
CF Andrew McCutchen CL Octavio Dotel
RF Garrett Jones RP Evan Meek
Bench RP Joel Hanrahan
IF Bobby Crosby RP Brendan Donnelly
OF Ryan Church RP D.J. Carrasco

Additional roster information can be found at MLB Depth Charts.

Off-Season Transactions
Key Additions Key Losses
Pos Name How Pos Name How
RP Octavio Dotel Free Agency RP Matt Capps Non-Tender
IF Bobby Crosby Free Agency RP Jesse Chavez Trade (TAM)
2B Akinori Iwamura Trade (TAM)

Top Prospects: Pedro Alvarez (3B), Tony Sanchez (C), Jose Tabata (OF), Chase D’Arnaud (SS)

2009 Review

The Pirates finished the 2009 season with a 62-99 record, last in the NL Central division. Overall, their offense was not very good, scoring only 636 runs. There were a few bright spots though. Most notably was rookie CF Andrew McCutchen, who posted a .286 average with 12 HR and 22 SB. Second-half call up Garrett Jones stormed in, hitting .293 with 21 HR in only 82 games. The pitching staff was led by the performances of Ross Ohlendorf (11-10, 3.92 ERA) and Zach Duke (11-16, 4.06 ERA)

The main stories in Pittsburgh’s season involved players who were dealt away. They moved popular CF Nate McLouth in early June for a package of 3 players. This move was widely panned as another cost-saving measure by the ownership of the Pirates, but the players they got in return (Charlie Morton, Gorkys Hernandez, and Jeff Locke) look like they could all contribute at the Major League level soon. They also moved OF Nyjer Morgan at the end of June to the Nationals, and received back closer Joel Hanrahan and OF Lastings Milledge. They did well with this trade, getting two major league level players in return for Morgan. They also moved 1B Adam LaRoche, 2B Freddy Sanchez, SP Ian Snell, and SS Jack Wilson prior to the trade deadline. They got some solid prospects in return, with SP Tim Alderson and C/1B Jeff Clement probably being the best of them.

Team Outlook for 2010

The Pirates are full force into their rebuilding efforts. They will look for improvement from CF Andrew McCutchen in his second season, and the further development of the pitching staff as a whole. They are also hopeful that they will be able to get a full season from C Ryan Doumit and OFs Lastings Milledge and Garrett Jones. Their offseason was spent finding undervalued players. Infielder Bobby Crosby will be looking to prove that he can still play at the Major League level, and should provide excellent depth on their bench, as he can play nearly all IF positions. Octavio Dotel is a high-risk, high-upside signing who could stabilize the back of the bullpen should he return to form.

The team is not built for 2010 to compete, but there is help coming in the form of Pedro Alvarez, Jose Tabata and Tim Alderson. Look for the Pirates to move some more veterans at the trade deadline this season if they feel that they can get a solid return for them.

Fantasy Outlook for 2010

There’s not a lot to like here, but OF Andrew McCutchen is probably the best of the bunch. C Ryan Doumit could bounce back and post a top-10 catcher season this year as well. Beyond that, I am not sure I’d want to own anyone else on this team in a standard mixed league. Deeper league plays would probably be Ross Ohlendorf and Garrett Jones.

Prediction for 2010

The Pirates are in full rebuilding mode. And it shows. But there are some players here who will be in Pittsburgh when the rebuilding is complete. Watch for them in 2012.

70-92, 6th in the NL Central

Free Agency Review – Relief Pitchers


Today I’m finishing up my series of reviews of this offseason’s free agent class, talking about the relief pitchers of the class.

All salary data from ESPN.com’s Free Agent Tracker
All 2011 free agent information from MLB Trade Rumors’ 2011 Free Agent List

Left Handed Relievers
Name Old New Years Total $
Mike Gonzalez ATL BAL 2 $12 M
Billy Wagner BOS ATL 1 $7 M
John Grabow CHC CHC 2 $7.5 M
Darren Oliver LAA TEX 1 $3.5 M

Notable Remaining Free Agents: None

This group of lefty relievers did well, as both Gonzalez and Wagner received high dollar contracts that I, for one, did not really see them getting out of the teams that they did. Gonzalez seems like he was a good signing for the Orioles, as he can help to stabilize the bullpen for the very young rotation they have. Wagner was a bit of an unusual signing, as he was a type-A free agent. The Braves could have kept either Gonzalez or Rafael Soriano without having to give up the draft picks, but felt that Wagner was a better fit instead. That said, there is a certain swagger that Wagner can bring to the club that I don’t think either Gonzalez or Soriano would provide.

Right Handed Relievers
Name Old New Years Total $
Jose Valverde HOU DET 2 $14 M
Fernando Rodney DET LAA 2 $11 M
Rafael Soriano ATL ATL/TAM 1 $7.25 M
Kevin Gregg CHC TOR 1 $2.75 M
Takashi Saito BOS ATL 1 $3.2 M
J.J. Putz NYM CHW 1 $3 M
Octavio Dotel CHW PIT 1 $3.5 M
Rafael Betancourt COL COL 2 $7.55 M
Matt Capps PIT WAS 1 $3.5 M
Kelvim Escobar LAA NYM 1 $1.25 M
LaTroy Hawkins HOU MIL 2 $7.5 M
Brandon Lyon DET HOU 3 $15 M

Notable Remaining Free Agents: Kiko Calero (FLA)

Lots of closers in this group. The Rodney signing was interesting to me, as it signals either one of two things: Rodney isn’t that concerned about being a closer, as he could probably have gotten a job as one with a number of teams, and 2)the Angels have very little faith as Brian Fuentes as the closer. Either way, definitely something to be watched. Washington, Houston, Detroit, and possibly Pittsburgh all got closers off of the free agent pool this year. The other interesting trend was the musical chairs game played by some of the teams, with Valverde and Lyon essentially trading spots, and deciding that the player they don’t know is going to be better than the player they do.

This weekend’s posts: Fantasy Previews of 1B and 2B

Prospect Review – Tony Sanchez – C – PIT


Baseball Reference.Com Profile
Fangraphs Profile

MLB.COM Draft Profile

The Basics
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
How Acquired: Drafted in the 1st round (4th overall) of the 2009 Amateur Draft by the Pirates
Age: 21

Statistics

2009 – State College (New York-Penn League – Pirates Short-Season A) – 4 games

  • .308/.357/.385
  • 1 RBI
  • 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

2009 – West Virginia (Sally League – Pirates A) – 41 games

  • .316/.415/.561
  • 7 HR, 46 RBI, 1 stolen base
  • 21 strikeouts, 34 walks

2009 – Lynchburg (Carolina League – Pirates High-A) – 3 games

  • .200/.385/.400
  • 1 RBI
  • 1 walk, 4 strikeouts

2009 Totals (3 levels – 48 games)

  • .309/.409/.539
  • 7 HR, 48 RBI, 1 stolen base
  • 23 walks, 40 strikeouts

Rankings
Baseball America – #3 (PIT – 2010)
Baseball Prospectus – Unranked (PIT – 2009)
John Sickels – #3 (PIT – 2010) – B+

Analysis

Sanchez was taken with the 4th overall pick of the 2009 amateur draft, and was widely viewed as a signability pick for the Pirates. He was viewed as a top-tier catcher in the draft, however not really that high by very many experts. He was coming off of a great season at Boston College (.346/.445/.614, 14 HR, 51 RBI), and also improved his plate discipline during that season (30 walks, 40 strikeouts).

Whether or not he was drafted to address lower contract demands, Sanchez came out during his brief time in the minors and posted excellent numbers as well. (.309/.409/.539 between 3 stops. His bat would definitely play at catcher if it keeps up like this, but what about his skills behind the plate?

From MLB.COM’s draft report: Solid catch-and-throw guy behind the plate. Has pretty quick feet and moves well defensively.

It seems to me that Sanchez should be at least a solid chance to stick behind the plate long-term. He did throw out 33% of baserunners attempting to steal in the minors (18 out of 54), which should hopefully improve. The Pirates’ system does not really have a lot of catching prospects behind the two players on the Major League roster (Ryan Doumit, Jason Jaramillo), so I have to imagine that they’re going to give him every chance to stay there.

MLB.COM doesn’t think he will develop a lot of power, but I could see potentially him hitting 15-20 a season in the Majors. His bat really looks like it is not going to be a hindrance that a team would have to hide. Strangely, a pretty decent comp for Sanchez is current Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit. Doumit’s best season to date: .318/.357/.501, 15 HR, 34 2B. I could see less power out of Sanchez overall (probably like a .450-.475 slugging), but the average could be similar, and a slightly higher OBP as well.

Outlook

Sanchez should hopefully start the season at High-A Lynchburg, and if he performs well should be promoted to the Pirates’ AA team by mid-season. He looks like he could potentially grow into a solid Major League catcher, providing that they don’t rush him too much. He’s going to need some seasoning most likely to help make sure his defense behind the plate develops to a Major League level. His plate discipline should allow him to be considered at least a solid hitter for the position as well.

Projection for 2010

.320/.390/.490, 12 HR, 65 RBI (Split between High-A and AA)

Expected ETA

I can’t see him getting there until 2012 at the soonest. The Pirates would be smart to let him develop in the minors, and help keep his cost down since the Pirates are probably at least another 2 years away from seriously being in contention. But he should be another good young player for the 2012-2013 Pirates.

Monday’s Prospect for Review: Chris Carter (1B/DH) of the Oakland Athletics