Josh Bell and Elias Diaz to Represent Pirates in AFL Fall-Stars Game

By Jason Shetler

The Arizona Fall League has announced it’s roster today for this year’s Fall-Stars Game. The Pirates will have two representatives in Josh Bell and Elias Diaz. The game will be televised on MLB Network Saturday at 8 PM ET.

Bell has been playing first base in the AFL, and as you would expect, has struggled defensively committing four errors. At the plate, he’s batting .234 with a .648 OPS in 12 games.

Diaz is hitting .222, but does have an on base of .344 in eight games played. Defensively, he’s been given high praise from scouts who are attending the games.

Tyler Glasnow wasn’t named since he’ll be pitching on Thursday.

 

Pirates Acquire Justin Sellers

By Jason Shetler

The Pirates have also announced today that infielder Justin Sellers has been acquired from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for cash considerations. 

Sellers spent most of the 2014 season playing for AAA Columbus where he hit .254 and posted an OPS of .642 in 102 games. He also played 21 games for the Indians and batted just .188 with a .504 OPS. During his time in the big leagues, Sellers has been an above average defender for the most part, as he’s posted a 38.8 UZR/150 at third base and a 7.5 UZR/150 at shortstop. The Pirates mostly likely will have him compete for a reserve infield spot in Spring Training. 

John Axford and Jeanmar Gomez Both DFA’d

By Jason Shetler

The Pirates have announced that John Axford and Jeanmar Gomez have both been designated for assignment. 

Axford was claimed off waivers by the Pirates from the Cleveland Indians in August. He made 13 appearances with the Bucs while posting an ERA of 4.09 with a 1.36 WHIP. Axford made $4.5 million last offseason, so even a slight raise to that amount this offseason would be way too much for a someone who was pitching mainly as a middle reliever with the Pirates. 

Gomez was also brought up over from the Indians to the Pirates. After struggling as a starter for the Tribe, he pitched surprisingly well in the Bucs bullpen in 2013. This past season, Gomez posted a 3.19 ERA in 44 appearances, but allowed a ton of baserunners to reach with a 1.50 WHIP, and only posted a 5.5 K/9. 

Even if Axford and Gomez clear waivers, both will be non-tendered anyway. 

Pirates Who Are Possible Trade Candidates This Offseason

By Jason Shetler

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Here are some of the Pirates who potentially could be dealt in the offseason. 

Ike Davis: After being traded to the Pirates in April, Davis could be on the move again this offseason. The left-handed hitting first baseman showed inconsistent power, but did a good job in terms of drawing walks and getting on base. It was rumored last week that the Miami Marlins could be a suitor for Davis. 

Jose Tabata: When Tabata was called up to the Pirates in 2010, he was viewed as a long term option in the outfield. Since then however, it’s been nothing but inconsistency. While his average was good this past season, his OPS was poor. Tabata has two more years left on his extension, but the Pirates could look for a more consistent reserve outfielder, and trade Tabata in a package deal. 

Mark Melancon: After a woeful 2012 campaign with the Boston Red Sox, Melancon has enjoyed back-to-back solid seasons in Pittsburgh. The Pirates will be looking to address the rotation this offseason, and dealing Melancon could net them a good return, especially if they think Tony Watson can handle the closers role. 

Neil Walker: As good as Walker’s 2013 season was, his numbers were even better this year. Walker earned over $5 million last offseason to avoid arbitration, and will be due a hefty raise this offseason based on his 2014 performance. The Pirates appear to be 50/50 on giving Walker an extension. If they decide not to, they could deal him while his high trade value is very high. Last offseason, the Pirates declined a trade involving Walker for Adam Lind straight up, so a team would have to really make a substantial offer to acquire Walker this time around. 

Pedro Alvarez: Coming off back-to-back 30 home run seasons in 2012 and 2013, Alvarez had a subpar 2014 campaign. He hit 18 home runs, which are low by his standards, and he experienced major throwing problems at third base, which prompted a move to first base. With the issues he had third and not really being a first baseman, an American League club could look to acquire him as a designated hitter. Despite coming off a down season, it actually wouldn’t surprise me to see a team offer the Pirates a couple of decent prospects for Alvarez just based on his career body of work. 

Tony Sanchez: Drafted by the Pirates in 2009, Sanchez hasn’t been able to live up to the expectations so far. While he has the potential to be an above average offensive catcher, his defense behind the plate has become a serious issue. If the Pirates aren’t able to bring back Russell Martin, their likely going to go outside the organization for a starting catcher. From that point, they’ll have to decide whether to use Sanchez or Chris Stewart as the backup. If they opt to go with Stewart, who’s a better defensive backstop, the Pirates may look to trade Sanchez since Elias Diaz will be the regular catcher at Indianapolis, and because you don’t want at-bats taken away from Diaz. Sanchez would have to be included in a package deal. 

Travis Snider: The Pirates made quite a surprising decision last offseason when they decided to bring back Snider despite a mediocre 2013 season. The 26-year-old outfielder struggled in the first half, but had himself a strong second half. Because Gregory Polanco underperformed after his much anticipated call up this year, the Pirates could have Snider as their starting right fielder to at least begin 2015. If they trade Snider this offseason, it’ll really say a lot about Polanco’s potential. Last offseason, the Oakland Athletics traded outfielder Seth Smith, a similar player like Snider, to the San Diego Padres for Luke Gregerson, who’s a very good setup reliever. Snider’s 2014 was better than Smith’s 2013, so the Pirates could look to possibly deal Snider for an effective late inning reliever. 

Should the Pirates Pursue Adam Lind?

By Jason Shetler

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The Toronto Blue Jays recently have been receiving calls from other clubs regarding their first baseman Adam Lind. The Pirates would seem to be a fit for Lind since they’ll use a platoon again at first base, and because they may want someone who can be more consistent than Ike Davis and Pedro Alvarez. Here are the offensive stats he put up this past season. 

.860 OPS (.942 OPS vs RHP) , 141 wRC+, 9% BB rate, 15% K rate, 1.6 WAR in 96 games 

Lind missed some time this year, as he dealt with a fractured foot, but still was very productive nonetheless. He completely mashed right-handers, posting a .942 OPS against them. Although his walk rate wasn’t as good as Davis and Alvarez’s, his strikeout rate was significantly lower than both of them. Defensively, Lind was below average with a -14.8 UZR/150 and a -0.9 dWAR, so if he can at least play adequate defense, it’ll make the acquisition really worthwhile. 

Last offseason, the asking price for Lind was pretty high when the Jays wanted to offer him to the Pirates for Neil Walker, but the deal was immediately rejected, so you wonder how high is the asking price this time around. 

 

 

 

Russell Martin and Starling Marte Named Gold Glove Finalists

By Jason Shetler

Rawlings has announced it’s Gold Glove finalists. Two Pirates are finalists with Russell Martin and Starling Marte.

Martin is a candidate at catcher with the Cardinals Yadier Molina and the Brewers Jonathan Lucroy. Martin threw out 39% of baserunners, which was 11% above the league average, and was second in DRS (Defensive Runs Saved). My guess is Molina will get the nod since he not only threw out 48%, but also because of his reputation. 

Marte is competing with the Braves Justin Upton and the Marlins Christian Yelich. Marte posted a .968 fielding percentage along with a 2.9 UZR and a 0.4 dWAR. Yelich’s defense across the board was better than Marte’s this season while Upton’s defense was average at best. Had Marte posted the defensive metrics he did in 2013, he probably would have a better chance of winning. 

Pirates Sign Josh Stinson

By Jason Shetler

According to a team press release, the Pirates have signed right-handed pitcher Josh Stinson to a minor league contract. The deal includes a Spring Training invite.

Stinson was drafted in the 37th round by the New York Mets back in 2006. The 26-year-old spent most of this past season pitching for AAA Norfolk where he posted a 5.48 ERA, a 1.32 WHIP and a K/9 of 8.4 in 22 games pitched (13 starts). He also made eight appearances with the O’s, posting a 6.23 ERA. Stinson will most likely pitch for Indianapolis as a swingman. 

Which Free Agents Would Be Really Good Fits for the Pirates?

By Jason Shetler

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The Pirates will be looking to address a few needs this offseason with the possibilities being catcher, if they don’t re-sign Russell Martin, a right-handed first baseman, if Gaby Sanchez is non-tendered, the bench and the rotation. Here are some free agents who would be good fits for those needs. 

Brandon McCarthy: McCarthy entered 2014 in his second season with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was dealt to the New York Yankees the first week of July. In 32 starts combined for both clubs, McCarthy posted a 4.05 ERA with a 1.28 WHIP, a 7.9 K/9, a 54% groundball rate and a 3.0 WAR. He also showed excellent control, as he put up a 1.5 BB/9. The Pirates could lose both Edinson Volquez and Francisco Liriano to free agency, so McCarthy would make for a good #2 starter behind Gerrit Cole. Because McCarthy was traded during the year, he won’t be attached to draft pick compensation. 

Brett Anderson: The Colorado Rockies acquired Anderson from the Oakland Athletics last offseason. He’s had a history of injuries, and this season was no different. Anderson made just eight starts for the Rockies, as he was DL’d twice with a broken index finger and a bulging disk in his back. The 26-year-old lefty did pitch well in his limited action, posting a 2.91 ERA, a 1.32 WHIP, a 6.0 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 and a groundball rate of 61%. The Rockies have a club option for Anderson worth $12 million, which will certainly be declined. The Pirates would likely offer him a one-year deal since he’s been hampered with injuries. If Anderson can somehow stay healthy, he’s an above average starter to have near the back end of a rotation. 

Emilio Bonifacio: Bonifacio began this past season with the Chicago Cubs. He was then acquired by the Atlanta Braves at the trade deadline. Combined with the Cubs and Braves, the 29-year-old switch-hitter posted a .650 OPS in 110 games. He did however have a 2.1 WAR, due in large part to his above average defense at second base, third base and all three outfield spots. The Pirates could use some speed off the bench, and Bonifacio would provide that, as he stole 26 bases this past season. 

Geovany Soto: Soto didn’t make his 2014 season debut until mid-July, as he was recovering from knee surgery. The Puerto Rican born backstop was dealt by the Texas Rangers to the Oakland A’s in late August. Soto posted a .665 OPS in 24 games for both teams and threw out 43% of basestealers. For his career, he has a .334 on base with an 11% walk rate and a 27% caught stealing, which is league average. The Pirates top goal this offseason will be to re-sign Russell Martin. In order to do so, they would have to contend with several other clubs, most notably the Los Angeles Dodgers. The chances don’t seem to be promising, which means they’ll have to address catcher. Elias Diaz won’t join the Pirates until midseason, so bringing in Soto would make him a serviceable rental for the time being.

Mark Reynolds: Reynolds signed on with the Milwaukee Brewers last offseason to be in a first base platoon with Lyle Overbay. He also played some third base while Aramis Ramirez was on the DL. Reynolds posted a .681 OPS and hit 22 home runs in 130 games played. Defensively, he played well at first base with a 10.8 UZR/150, and he was just as good at third base, posting a 32.5 UZR/150. The Pirates appear 50/50 on bringing back Gaby Sanchez as a right-handed platoon bat at first. If they decide to give Sanchez a non-tender, Reynolds would be an upgrade with his walk rate and slugging percentage, as well as his defense. For his career, Reynolds has posted an .809 OPS vs left-handed pitching. Signing Reynolds would also give the Pirates an insurance policy for Josh Harrison, if he were to struggle. 

Bucco Nation Poll Question

By Jason Shetler

Pirates Prospects Who Are Under the Radar Heading Into 2015

By Jason Shetler

Here are some Pirates prospects coming off good 2014 seasons, but aren’t getting that much attention compared to other prospects in the system. 

Alexis Bastardo: The Pirates signed Bastardo out of Venezuela in 2012. The 20-year-old outfielder was recovering from a shoulder injury this year and played just 19 games. However, he made the most of his limited action, as he batted .344 with an .835 OPS and stole six bases in seven attempts for the GCL Pirates. Bastardo could play for the Pirates new Short Season affiliate Morgantown next year.

Buddy Borden: Drafted by the Pirates last year in the seventh round out of UNLV, Borden had a solid 2014 campaign. In 27 games pitched (26 starts) for the West Virginia Power, he posted a 3.16 ERA along with a 1.18 WHIP and a K/9 of 8.6. Despite being a right-hander, Borden dominated right-handed bats, holding them to a .556 OPS. He’ll pitch for the Bradenton Marauders next season. 

Carlos Munoz: Munoz signed with the Pirates out of Mexico in 2011. He’s a stocky first baseman, standing 5’11 and weighing 220 pounds. Munoz displayed an excellent approach at the plate this past season for the GCL Pirates, as he drew walks at a 13% rate while only striking out 7% of the time in 54 games. He also posted a .798 OPS. Munoz is likely to begin 2015 playing for Morgantown next summer. 

Eric Wood: The Oakland Athletics drafted Wood in the 37th round in 2011, but did not sign. A year later, he was selected by the Pirates in the sixth round. The Canadian born Wood spent 2014 with Bradenton where he posted a .345 on base and hit 28 doubles in 113 games. The Pirates currently don’t have any legitimate third base prospects, so if Wood can somehow turn his gap power into more home run power, he could be their third baseman of the future. 

Tyler Eppler: The Pirates drafted Eppler out of Sam Houston State in the sixth round this year. The 6’6 right-hander was impressive for the Jamestown Jammers, as he posted a 2.49 ERA, an 0.95 WHIP and held opposing batters to a .592 OPS in 14 starts. He also showed great control, posting a 1.4 BB/9. Eppler will start out next season pitching for West Virginia.