Recapping the Pirates Offseason

By Jason Shetler

With Spring Training getting underway tomorrow, here’s a look back of the  Pirates offseason in timeline form.

October 3rd: Vin Mazzaro elected free agency.

October 24th: Pirates designate John Axford and Jeanmar Gomez for assignment.

November 9th: Russell Martin rejects Pirates qualifying offer of $15.3 million.

November 10th: Francisco Liriano rejected Pirates $15.3 million qualifying offer.

November 12th: Pirates acquire Francisco Cervelli from the New York Yankees for Justin Wilson.

November 14th: A.J. Burnett returns to the Pirates by signing a one-year deal for $8.5 million.

November 18th: Pirates sign Brad Lincoln to a minor league deal.

November 23rd: Pirates trade Ike Davis to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for International slot money.

December 1st: Sean Rodriguez was acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays for a player to be named later.

December 2nd: Pirates non-tender Gaby Sanchez.

December 3rd: Pirates sign Clayton Richard to a minor league deal.

December 9th: Francisco Liriano re-signs with the Pirates on a three-year deal worth $39 million.

December 10th: The Philadelphia Phillies trade Antonio Bastardo to the Pirates for Joely Rodriguez.

December 12th: Pirates send Buddy Borden to the Rays to complete the Sean Rodriguez deal. They also signed Radhames Liz to a one-year contract for $1 million.

December 19th: Corey Hart signs with the Pirates on a one-year deal worth $2.5 million, which includes another $2.5 million in incentives.

December 22nd: Pirates win the rights to negotiate with Jung-Ho Kang. The winning bid was around $5 million.

January 16th: Jung-Ho Kang signs with the Pirates on a four-year deal worth $11 million, which includes a fifth year club option.

January 27th: Pirates trade Travis Snider to the Baltimore Orioles for Stephen Tarpley and a player to be named later.

February 4th: Miami Marlins deal Arquimedes Caminero to the Pirates in exchange for cash.

February 20th: Pirates acquire Steven Brault from the Orioles to complete the Travis Snider deal.



Pirates Announce Scheduled Pitchers for the First Three Spring Games

By Jason Shetler

Manager Clint Hurdle has announced the Pirates scheduled pitchers for the first three Spring Training games.

Tuesday vs Blue Jays in Dunedin

Two innings from Casey Sadler, followed by an inning each from Stolmy Pimentel, Bobby LaFromboise, Rob Scahill, Brad Lincoln, Arquimedes Caminero and Josh Wall.

Wednesday vs Blue Jays in Bradenton

Two innings from Gerrit Cole and Vance Worley, followed by an inning each from Radhames Liz, Tony Watson, Jared Hughes, Antonio Bastardo and John Holdzkom.

Thursday vs Yankees in Bradenton

Two innings from Francisco Liriano and Clayton Richard, followed by an inning each from Mark Melancon, Jeremy Bleich, Deolis Guerra and Tyler Glasnow.





Neal Huntington Says Charlie Morton Will Be Ready Come Opening Day

By Jason Shetler

p/c: Ron Chenoy - USA Today Sports

p/c: Ron Chenoy – USA Today Sports

Pirates general manager Neal Huntington spoke to 93.7 The Fan’s Dan Zangrilli earlier this morning on “Bucco Talk”. Zangrilli asked about the health of Charlie Morton and if he would be ready on Opening Day. Huntington responded by saying “yes, it’s a scope of reality.” 

Morton has been recovering from hip surgery, in which he had performed back in late September. He’s thrown some side sessions down in Pirate City, so it’ll be interesting to see obviously how his pitches look in live game action. Should Morton begin the season on time, he’ll be the #4 starter in the rotation behind Francisco Liriano, Gerrit Cole and A.J. Burnett. 

Pirates Scouting a Phenom Prospect from Mexico

By Jason Shetler

According to Pirates Prospects John Dreker, the Pirates scouted a 15-year-old pitching prospect from Mexico named Oscar Arzaga in early February. Scouts who saw him say his fastball was at 93 mph. 

Arzaga is a tall right-hander who stands 6’5. Along with the fastball, he throws a curveball, changeup and slider. His slider is already being considered a good pitch. Given his huge upside, Arzaga will likely be the most sod after Latin amateur player once the International signing period begins July 2nd. The Pirates have been much more aggressive in Latin America under the current management team, and that was certainly true when they signed Luis Heredia for $2.6 million back in 2010. 

Bucco Nation Poll Question

By Jason Shetler

Why Pedro Alvarez Should Benefit from the Platoon

By Jason Shetler

p/c: Jeff Curry - USA Today Sports

p/c: Jeff Curry – USA Today Sports

Following an All-Star campaign in 2013, Pedro Alvarez showed regression last season. In 122 games, Alvarez posted just a .717 OPS. Despite the overall low figure, he had a .770 OPS against right-handed pitching, which isn’t great, but not bad either. For his career, Alvarez has posted a .792 OPS vs RHP compared to a .588 OPS vs LHP. He will get most of the playing time at first base this season, with Corey Hart spelling him out vs LHP. This will mark the fourth consecutive season in which the Pirates will utilize a first base platoon. Other than the drastic splits for Alvarez, here’s another reason why he should benefit from the platoon this year.

Marcus John, Pirates blogger for Hidden Vigorish, recently did an article breaking down several Pirates, in regards to being rested and how it’s affected their OPS over the past two seasons. As it turns out, Alvarez’s numbers are the biggest difference, posting only a .723 OPS when he’s not rested, while putting up an .833 OPS in games following a rest. With the combination of LHP struggles and performing well following rest/off days, there’s no reason why Pedro Alvarez shouldn’t be able to make a bigger impact in a platoon role. 

Pirates Willing to Extend Andrew McCutchen Again

By Jason Shetler 

p/c: Daniel Shirey/USA Today Sports

p/c: Daniel Shirey/USA Today Sports

According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Rob Biertempfel, the Pirates are willing to consider a second extension for Andrew McCutchen. 

McCutchen’s first extension from the Pirates came in Spring Training of 2012, which was six years/$51.5 million, including a 2018 club option worth $14.75 million. The contract was the largest the Pirates had given to a player since Jason Kendall in 2000. Since signing the extension, McCutchen is batting .319 along with a .939 OPS and a 162 OPS+. The four-time All-Star has captured an MVP, three Silver Sluggers and a Gold Glove in that span. If the Pirates let McCutchen’s current extension run through 2018, he would enter that offseason as a 31-year-old, which is when most players exit their prime, so if the Pirates are going to consider another extension, they obviously need to do it sooner rather than later.