Pirates Recall Brent Morel; Jeff Locke Optioned

By Jason Shetler

According to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Pirates have recalled Brent Morel from Indianapolis, and have optioned Jeff Locke as a “paper move”.

Morel rejoins the Pirates for the third time this season. He’s made only 22 plate appearances with the Bucs, hitting just .143 with an OPS of .372.

Locke will rejoin the Pirates once September call ups are made, and won’t have to miss a start. On Friday, Gerrit Cole was optioned as a paper move for Andrew Lambo’s recall from Indy.

Is Josh Harrison’s 2014 Season Better Than Freddy Sanchez’s 2006?

By Jason Shetler

Eight years ago, Freddy Sanchez began the season as a utility infielder off the bench. Instead of giving Sanchez an opportunity to be an everyday regular, former Pirates GM Dave Littlefield went out and signed aging veteran Joe Randa on a one-year deal to be the starting third baseman to begin the 2006 campaign. Randa suffered a foot injury in early May, and Sanchez took over. Not only did he take over the position, but he also ran away with it, en route to being named an All-Star and capturing the National League batting crown.

Like Sanchez, Josh Harrison began 2014 coming off the bench. He was hitting well as a super utility, and was getting more opportunities with various injuries and inconsistency from others. Harrison surprised the baseball world by getting his first All-Star selection. The best comparison for Harrison’s season would be that of Sanchez’s in 2006. So which season is better between the two? – Let’s breakdown the numbers.

Freddy Sanchez (2006): .344 average, .851 OPS, 119 OPS+, 119 wRC+, 7.5 UZR/150 (third base), 4.5 WAR

Josh Harrison (2014): .308 average, .846 OPS, 137 OPS+, 138 wRC+, 11.0 UZR/150, (third base), 3.7 WAR

Harrison is unlikely to reach the average that Sanchez had, but the OPS for Harrison could be higher by seasons end. Harrison’s ability to create runs is already better, and he’s been the better defensive third baseman to this point. Harrison currently has a 3.7 WAR, but he could become a four-five win player, assuming he continues to perform well the rest of the season. Looking at the numbers and metrics, you can make a valid case that Harrison is on track to having the better season.

Pirates Recall Andrew Lambo; Gerrit Cole Optioned To Bristol

By Jason Shetler

The Pirates have announced that Andrew Lambo has been recalled from Indianapolis. In a corresponding “paper move”, Gerrit Cole has been optioned to Bristol. 

Lambo on the season is hitting .328 along with a .952 OPS in 61 games played for the Indians. He missed majority of the first half with a thumb injury that required surgery. 

The decision to option Cole to Bristol allows the Pirates to recall him after the weekend without having to miss a start, and also to have Lambo serve as an extra bench bat with Pedro Alvarez and Travis Snider currently injured. 

Should the Pirates Shutdown Charlie Morton?

By Jason Shetler

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After coming back from Tommy John surgery last summer, Charlie Morton was able to bolster an already solid rotation that saw the Pirates clinch their first postseason birth in 20 years. Entering the offseason, Morton was arbitration eligible for a final time, but the Pirates were able to extend the veteran sinkerball hurler for three more seasons.

Morton was pitching well in the first half this season, posting a 3.32 ERA, a 1.19 WHIP and a .231 batting average against in 19 starts. Since the All-Star break however, he’s posted a 5.73 ERA, a 1.58 WHIP and opponents are hitting .305 against him in six starts. The Pirates decided to place Morton on the disabled list, which seemed to be a “phantom injury”, so that Morton wouldn’t have to pass through waivers since he’s out of options. As it turned out, Morton told reporters that he had a sports hernia, so the injury appeared to be legit. On Thursday, Morton made a rehab start for the Altoona Curve, in which he went four innings and threw 73 pitches.

The Pirates now face an interesting decision with Morton come September. It seems doubtful that Morton would return to the rotation based on not being back at full strength. There is the possibility of him pitching in long relief, but there are more healthy options like Brandon Cumpton and Casey Sadler for those roles. The Pirates have two more years invested in Morton, so it would be wise for them to protect one of their assets from further injury. Based on those factors, I personally think the Pirates should shutdown Morton to get himself fully healthy come Spring Training.

 

MiLB.com Names JaCoby Jones Best Shortstop In South Atlantic League

By Jason Shetler

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Earlier today, MiLB.com named Pirates shortstop prospect JaCoby Jones the top shortstop in the South Atlantic League for 2014. 

The Pirates 2013 third round selection out of LSU entered this year in his first full season of pro ball. In 114 games for West Virginia this season, Jones is batting .292 along with an .855 OPS, 22 home runs and 17 stolen bases. His OPS is fourth best in the SAL while he has the second most homers in the league. He became the Pirates first Minor League middle infielder to hit at least 20 homers in a season since Craig Stansberry in 2005. 

Jones will be the shortstop for Bradenton next season, and should be considered a Pirates Top 10 prospect by most baseball publications. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bucco Nation Poll Question

By Jason Shetler

Josh Bell To Play First Base In the Arizona Fall League

By Jason Shetler

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According to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and MLB.com Pirates beat writer Tom Singer, the Pirates will have Josh Bell play first base in the Arizona Fall League. 

Bell has played the outfield in his first three seasons in the Pirates organization, and will get a chance to see what he can do as a first baseman in the AFL come October. The news shouldn’t really come as a surprise with the Pirates having their long term outfield set with Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco. This is a really good opportunity for Bell to learn first base in meaningless games, as opposed to Pedro Alvarez learning a new position right in the middle of a pennant race at the big league level. 

On a side note, Bell was named the 2014 Florida State League Player of the Year. He batted .335 with an OPS of .886 in 84 games for the Bradenton Marauders.