Pirates Unlikely to Re-Sign Justin Morneau

By Jason Shetler

Justin Morneau himself as informed both Rob Biertempfel and Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the Pirates are unlikely to extend an offer to him. Today began the negotiating period where teams can try to sign their own free agents. If they’re not able to, then those players can sign with other clubs starting on Monday. Morneau was acquired by the Bucs from the Minnesota Twins the final day of August in a deal for Alex Presley and a player to be named later, which wound up being Duke Welker. With the lack of production at first base, the Pirates gambled on Morneau’s .836 OPS that he posted with the Twins in August, but the gamble didn’t pan out, as he posted just a .681 OPS with Pittsburgh.

2014 Breakout Candidate: Starling Marte

By Jason Shetler

Starling Marte

Last year at this time, I chose Travis Snider as my breakout candidate for the Pirates heading into 2013. Needless to say, it wasn’t a great prediction. In an attempt to redeem myself, I have selected Starling Marte as my breakout candidate for 2014.

Marte had a very good first full season in 2013. He hit .280, along with a .784 OPS, 12 home runs and stole 41 bases in 135 games played. Players on average enter their prime at age 27. Marte will be 25 entering 2014, but based on the numbers he put up this year, he could be at his prime right now. I won’t go as far as to say that Marte will hit 30 home runs, because of his shaky plate recognition and plate discipline. However, because he does possess good bat speed, he should be able to at least hit around 20 homers. He had 26 doubles as well, and could easily hit more, especially if he’s using the whole field. If Marte can improve is plate recognition and discipline, as well as show better bat control, there’s no reason why he can’t significantly better his numbers next season.

Pirates Left Gold Gloveless

By Jason Shetler

Andrew McCutchen, Russell Martin and Starling Marte were unable to capture the National League Gold Gloves at their respective positions.

After winning the Gold Glove award for NL center fielders last year, McCutchen lost out to the Brewers Carlos Gomez this time around. The decision seemed to be the right choice, as Gomez had a better fielding percentage and UZR, as well as a significantly higher defensive WAR than McCutchen.

The Cardinals Yadier Molina won his sixth consecutive Gold Glove award, as he beat out Russell Martin. Although it doesn’t seem like a bad decision, Martin was better. Even though Molina’s 43% caught stealing was better than Martin’s 40%, the fact is that Martin had nearly twice as many baserunners attempt to steal on him than Molina.

The Rockies Carlos Gonzalez took home his third Gold Glove for NL left fielders, beating out Starling Marte. This choice seemed questionable. Gonzalez did post a better fielding percentage than Marte, but Marte’s UZR and defensive WAR were much better, and he played more games than Gonzalez.

Why a Charlie Morton/Mark Trumbo Trade Would Make the Most Sense

By Jason Shetler 

It appears the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are looking for pitching help this offseason. Two names that the Angels are willing to part with to acquire pitching is outfielder Peter Bourjos and first baseman Mark Trumbo. The Pirates seem to be a good match for Trumbo, as they are in need of a first baseman, after getting subpar production from the position for most of 2013. Trumbo hit a career high 34 home runs this season for the Halos, but didn’t draw many walks, as he posted just a .294 on base percentage. Also, his defense at first base is borderline average. The Angels in all likelihood would want a pitcher who could join the big club right away, while the Pirates probably wouldn’t want to part with any of their better pitching prospects in the system. Trumbo may not get the Angels a top of the rotation arm like Francisco Liriano, but perhaps someone like Charlie Morton. Morton profiles as a solid #3 starter, which would seem to be a perfect fit for the Angels, with them having Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson anchoring the front end of their rotation. I did a post earlier this month suggesting that the Pirates should consider signing Morton to an extension, but it doesn’t appear likely, so 2014 will probably be Morton’s last as a Pirate. Meanwhile, Trumbo would give the Pirates team control, as he doesn’t become a free agent until 2017. This deal would seem to be good for both clubs, as the Angels would get themselves a quality pitcher, while the Pirates not only would fill their need at first base, as well as upgrade it from this past season, but not relinquish any of their prospects.

Alen Hanson Makes AFL Fall Star Roster

By Jason Shetler

Alen Hanson has been named to the Arizona Fall League’s “Fall Star Game”, formerly known as the Rising Stars Game. Hanson is the lone Pirates prospect to make the roster. In 12 games to this point for the Scottsdale Scorpions, Hanson is batting .250, with a home run, a triple, and three stolen bases. He’s the first Pirates position player to participate in the game since Tony Sanchez in 2010. The game will be televised Saturday at 8 p.m. on MLB Network.


Baseball America Puts Gerrit Cole on All Rookie Team

By Jason Shetler

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Los Angeles Angels

Baseball America has named Gerrit Cole to their All Rookie Team for 2013. Cole had an impressive season, posting a 3.22 ERA, a 1.17 WHIP, and a 7.7 K/9 in 19 starts. After putting up just decent numbers before the All-Star break, Cole dominated in the second half, as he posted a 2.85 ERA, with a 1.10 WHIP, a 9.0 K/9, and held opposing batters to a .235 average. He also had a 2.45 ERA in two postseason games. Cole was one of five starters on the list, along with the Braves Julio Teheran, the Cardinals Shelby Miller, the Dodgers Hyun-Jin Ryu and the Marlins Jose Fernandez. BA mentioned that Cole’s average velocity was at 95.5, which was second best of any rookie starter this year with at least 50 innings pitched.

Andrew Lambo and Harold Ramirez to Play Winter Ball

By Jason Shetler

Pirates Prospects’ John Dreker confirms that outfielders Andrew Lambo and Harold Ramirez will both play Winter Ball this offseason.

Lambo will play in the Venezuelan League for Cardenales de Lara, and is scheduled to play sometime in mid-November. The Pirates 2013 Minor League Player of the Year, received very few at-bats in Pittsburgh as a September call up, so playing Winter Ball will make up for those. It’ll certainly be interesting how the Pirates view Lambo heading into 2014.

Ramirez meanwhile will play in the Colombian Baseball League, which will begin November 8. Because he played short season, he should get plenty of at-bats in Winter Ball. Ramirez had a very solid season for Jamestown, and was rated the top prospect in the New York-Penn League by Baseball America. With the Pirates collection of outfield talent starting to grow, it’ll be interesting to see what Ramirez can do in his first full season next year in West Virginia.