Pirates Acquire Chris McGuiness

By Jason Shetler

The Pirates have announced the acquisition of first baseman Chris McGuiness from the Texas Rangers in exchange for reliever Miles Mikolas.

McGuiness spent most of 2013 playing for AAA Round Rock, where he batted .246, along with a .792 OPS in 104 games, and also appeared in ten games for the Rangers big club. He got on base a lot, as he posted a .369 OBP and a solid 16% walk rate. The Rangers designated McGuiness for assignment last week in order to make room on the 40-man roster for Shin-Soo Choo.

Mikolas was acquired by the Pirates from the San Diego Padres as part of the Alex Dickerson deal in late November. He’s considered a groundball pitcher who can throw in the mid-90’s.

With the recent signing of Travis Ishikawa, an internal option like Andrew Lambo and now with the acquisition of McGuiness, the Pirates will probably have a first base competition in Spring Training to determine who will platoon with Gaby Sanchez.

 

 

Pirates Still Talking With Ike Davis

By Jason Shetler

According to Mike Puma of the New York Post, the Pirates, Brewers and Orioles are still talking to the Mets about first baseman Ike Davis.

Puma mentions the Mets were trying to trade Davis to the Orioles for top pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez, but were unsuccessful.

If the O’s aren’t going to part with a top pitching prospect for Davis, surely the Pirates won’t either. Unless the Mets accept a lesser prospect return, then the Pirates interest in Davis should become very minimal.

 

 

2013 Pirates Year in Review

By Jason Shetler

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2013 was certainly a year to remember for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Here are the notable happenings from the year that was. 

February 8, 2013 – After initially agreeing to a two-year contract worth $14 million in December, the Pirates signed Francisco Liriano to a one-year deal for just $1 million, which included a 2014 vesting option worth $8 million.

April 17, 2013 – A.J. Burnett recorded his 2,000 career strikeout against the St. Louis Cardinals in a 5-0 victory.

May 11, 2013 – Francisco Liriano made his Pirates debut, as he went 5.1 innings, allowing just one run and striking out nine New York Mets in an 11-2 win.

June 6, 2013 – For the first time in franchise history, the Pirates had two first round draft picks, and selected outfielder Austin Meadows (9th overall) and catcher Reese McGuire (14th overall).

June 11, 2013 – Gerrit Cole made his much anticipated Major League debut against the San Francisco Giants. His first career strikeout came against Angel Pagan on a 99 mph fastball. Cole went 6.1 innings, while giving up just two runs in an 8-2 victory.

June 13, 2013 – After having Tommy John surgery performed on June 13, 2012, Charlie Morton made his 2013 season debut exactly one year to the date of having the elbow procedure. Although the Pirates lost to the Giants by a score of 10-0, Morton pitched well in his return, going five innings and allowing just two earned runs.

June 18, 2013 – The Pirates signed Reese McGuire for a signing bonus a little over $2.3 million.

June 23, 2013 – Aside from Tony Sanchez making his big league debut, the Pirates had their best come from behind win of the season. Trailing 6-3 to the Los Angeles Angels in the 9th, they tied the game on a Starling Marte RBI single. The Bucs scored four in the 10th and held off the Angels by a final of 10-9.

June 28, 2013 – The Pirates inked Austin Meadows to a $3 million signing bonus.

July 15, 2013 – Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez, Jason Grilli, Jeff Locke and Mark Melancon took part in the 2013 All-Star Game, marking the first time since 1972 that the Pirates had five players selected as All-Stars.

August 28, 2013 – In an effort to improve their lineup, the Pirates acquired Marlon Byrd along with John Buck from the New York Mets in exchange for reliever Vic Black and minor league infielder Dilson Herrera.

August 31, 2013 – After not getting much production out of Garrett Jones, the Pirates acquired former AL MVP Justin Morneau from the Minnesota Twins to become their primary first baseman.

September 9, 2013 – Simply put, this date will forever be known as the night the Pirates recorded their first winning season in 20 years.

September 23, 2013 – The Pirates defeated the Chicago Cubs in a very dramatic 2-1 victory to give themselves at least a spot in the NL Wildcard Game.

September 28, 2013 – The Pirates took on the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ballpark in the final series of the season. After taking the first game, the Bucs took the second game of the series, and guaranteed themselves the NL Wildcard Game at PNC Park.

October 1, 2013 – The Pirates defeated the Reds in the NL Wildcard Game by a final score of 6-2. Francisco Liriano went seven innings and gave up just one run, while Russell Martin hit a pair of home runs.

November 4, 2013 – Francisco Liriano was named the 2013 National League Comeback Player of the Year.

November 12, 2013 – Clint Hurdle became the first Pirates skipper since Jim Leyland in 1992 to win the National League Manager of the Year. 

November 14, 2013 – Andrew McCutchen captured the 2013 National League Most Valuable Player Award, becoming the seventh Pirate in history to win the honor. 

Pirates Lose Ryan Reid and Jerry Sands on Waivers

By Jason Shetler

The Pirates have lost Ryan Reid and Jerry Sands on waivers. Reid has been claimed by the New York Mets, while Sands has been taken by the Tampa Bay Rays. Both were designated for assignment ten days ago, as space had to be made on the 40-man roster for Edinson Volquez and Clint Barmes. Today was the final day in which teams could put a claim on them.

Reid had a good year in the Pirates system this past season, but because the Pirates have a ton of pitching depth in the bullpen now, it would have been hard for Reid to claim a bullpen spot. With the Mets trying to improve their bullpen, a reliever like Reid has a much better chance of making their Opening Day roster out of the pen.

Unlike Reid, Sands really struggled this year for Indianapolis. He had performed well in the minor leagues before being acquired from the Pirates in the Joel Hanrahan deal last December, but Sands never really got it going in 2013. The Rays will use Sands as AAA depth for either the outfield or first base.

 

 

 

Gregory Polanco Wins DWL MVP Award

 

By Jason Shetler

Gregory Polanco has been named the 2013 Most Valuable Player of the Dominican Winter League.

The Bucs top outfield prospect led the league with a .922 OPS, as he was the only player in the DWL to have an OPS of at least .900. He also had a league leading 28 runs scored, and finished with the second highest batting average at .331. Polanco altogether had ten doubles, a triple, five home runs, 28 RBI and stole seven bases in 44 games.

 

 

Bucco Nation Q & A For December

By Jason Shetler

It’s the season of giving, and you guys were kind enough to give me your Pirates questions for this month’s Q & A session.

As the options for first base keep dwindling, who’s left at this point and who do you think is realistically the best choice for the Pirates?

– Rob from Pittsburgh, PA

With James Loney going back to the Tampa Bay Rays as a free agent, the Pirates will more than likely try to trade for a first baseman, since there’s really no one that intriguing on the open market. As far as trade options, they’ve been linked to Adam Lind, Ike Davis and Mitch Moreland. The Pirates realistically could get any one of the three, but it’s just a question of what they would be willing to give away to get one of them. Personally, I like Lind out of the three, as he crushed right-handed pitching this past season, and would make for a solid platoon alongside Gaby Sanchez.

Can Pedro Alvarez hit forty homeruns this year?

– Mike from Vandergrift, PA

Alvarez certainly has the power to reach that mark, but I’ll say no. Only because the Pirates don’t have a strong lineup in the middle, and I would expect teams to pitch around Alvarez quite a bit. However, I do see him putting up thirty homers again.

What do the Pirates have to do to improve offense from right field or first base?

– Josh from Ellwood City, PA

The Pirates have said that they will stay internal for right field. Jose Tabata did a very good job of hitting in August and September, while Andrew Lambo is the Pirates reigning Minor League Player of the Year, so perhaps they could use that combination until Gregory Polanco is ready to come up sometime during the summer. As I mentioned in Rob’s question, the Pirates will likely get a first baseman by trade. 

Which prospect would you be willing to give up to get Ike Davis, Justin Smoak or Mitch Moreland?

– Rich from Coraopolis, PA

I wouldn’t trade a top prospect for any of them, so it would have to be a “B level” prospect. There’s been reports that the Mets would like a really good pitching prospect in return for Ike Davis. Even though he’s not considered a prospect now, I think someone like Brandon Cumpton is the best pitcher I’d offer for Davis. 

What is the future of the outfield with Polanco coming, Tabata’s contract and the possible defensive superiority of Marte over Cutch?

– James from Pittsburgh, PA 

Obviously, the plan is to have a McCutchen, Marte, Polanco outfield beyond 2014. Tabata’s contract shouldn’t be much of a factor, since it’s team friendly and he’s becoming an above average fourth outfielder. Even though I do think Marte will be the better defensive outfielder than McCutchen, I would be very surprised to see the Pirates move Cutch, who’s one of the stars of the game, away from a star position like center field to play left field. 

Starling Marte Makes Winter League Debut

By Jason Shetler

Starling Marte

Baseball fans of the Dominican will get to witness potentially two-thirds of the Pirates outfield for 2014, as Starling Marte has joined Gregory Polanco in the Dominican Winter League for Escogido.

Marte made his DWL debut last night, batting third in the lineup and serving as the designated hitter. He went 1-for-4 in his season debut, as he singled in his first at-bat, was hit by a pitch in his second at-bat, struckout his next two times up and flew out to center in his final at-bat.

I imagine the Pirates are going to be extra careful with Marte participating in Winter Ball, so I would expect him to DH most of the time to avoid a possible injury in the field.