Bucs Spring Training Report 2/28

By Jason Shetler

The Pirates dropped their first game of the Spring today, as they lost to the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin by a final score of 4-2.

Pedro Alvarez was 2-for-2 with a pair of doubles and scored both runs.

Matt Hague drove in the first Pirates run of the game as he went 1-for-3 and also drew a walk.

Gaby Sanchez had an RBI double in his two at-bats.

Brent Morel made his Spring debut for the Bucs going 1-for-2.

Gerrit Cole pitched two innings, allowing a couple runs, striking out a pair and getting three groundball outs.

Jameson Taillon also went a couple innings giving up no runs and just one hit.

The Pirates will head back to Bradenton to host the Tampa Bay Rays tomorrow at 1:05. Wandy Rodriguez is scheduled to make the start.








Bucs Spring Training Report 2/27

By Jason Shetler

For the second day in a row, the Pirates were victorious against the New York Yankees winning by a score of 8-2 earlier today in Tampa. 

Pirates top prospect Gregory Polanco went 1-for-3, as he hit a solo homer in the first inning off Yankees starter David Phelps. 

Mel Rojas took over for Polanco later on in the game, and was 2-for-2 including a three-run home run. 

Chris Dickerson went 2-for-3 and drove in a run.

Chris McGuiness was 2-for-2 while also scoring a pair of runs. 

Tony Sanchez served as the DH and went 1-for-4 with a double. 

Charlie Morton began the game and tossed two scoreless innings, which included three groundball outs and a strikeout.

Jeff Locke also pitched two shutout frames. He threw just nine pitches, all of them for strikes.

The Pirates will travel to Dunedin tomorrow to take on the Toronto Blue Jays. First pitch is at 1:05 with Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon as the first two pitchers. 

Pirates Scouted Johan Santana

By Jason Shetler

According to CBS Sports Jon Heyman, the Pirates were one of at least seven teams who scouted Johan Santana earlier today.

The soon to be 35-year-old left-hander threw a bullpen session in Fort Myers. The scouting report was that he was in excellent shape and that his changeup looked good. However, his fastball velocity only reached 81 mph. Santana has missed two of the last three seasons, as he’s underwent a pair of shoulder surgeries. His last full season came in 2010 where he posted a 2.98 ERA along with a 131 ERA+ in 29 starts, and was a four-win pitcher. 

This isn’t the first time the Pirates checked in on Santana, as ESPNNewYork’s Andrew Marchand reported back in December that the Bucs had expressed interest in him. 

Bucs Spring Training Report 2/26

By Jason Shetler

The Pirates opened up their Grapefruit League schedule today, as they defeated the New York Yankees in Bradenton by a final of 6-5. 

Andrew McCutchen picked up where he left off in 2013 going 2-for-2 while also drawing a walk. 

Tony Sanchez entered the game later on to catch for Russell Martin, and went 2-for-2 including a game-tying three-run homer. 

Chris McGuiness filled in at first base for Gaby Sanchez, as he also went 2-for-2 and drove in the go-ahead run. 

Jordy Mercer was 1-for-2 and drove in the first run of the game for the Bucs. 

Alen Hanson came into the game late going 1-for-2 and had a stolen base. 

Francisco Liriano allowed two runs in his one inning of work, as he threw 14 pitches, 10 of which were strikes. 

Edinson Volquez made his unofficial Pirates debut, as he gave up a pair of runs in the second. He threw 10 pitches with six of them going for strikes. 

The Pirates will play the Yankees tomorrow in Tampa at 1:05. Charlie Morton and Jeff Locke are both slated to pitch. 

Pirates Claim Brent Morel Off Waivers; DFA Chase d’Arnaud

By Jason Shetler

The Pirates have announced that they have claimed third baseman Brent Morel off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays. In a corresponding move, they also designated Chase d’Arnaud for assignment in order to add Morel to the 40-man roster.

Morel was drafted by the Chicago White Sox as a third round pick in 2008. He entered the 2011 season as a Baseball America Top 100 prospect. Morel played most of 2013 with the White Sox AAA affiliate Charlotte where he posted a .751 OPS in 106 games. During his big league time in Chicago, Morel put up just a .609 OPS in 669 plate appearances. He had been claimed by the Blue Jays in late December, but was DFA’d by Toronto this past week.

D’Arnaud was selected by the Pirates in the fourth round of that same draft. Just like Morel, d’Arnaud hasn’t had much success in the Majors, as he posted a .507 OPS in 157 plate appearances. His best season in the organization came in 2009 where he posted an .852 OPS and had 31 stolen bases combined with West Virginia and Lynchburg. 

It appears that Morel will compete with Josh Harrison for the last spot off the Pirates bench. 

Grading the Pirates Notable Offseason Moves

By Jason Shetler


As the offseason is about to wrap up, here are the notable moves the Pirates made this offseason and how each move grades out.

Charlie Morton extension – Charlie Morton certainly went through some major struggles in 2010, as he posted a 7.57 ERA and a 1.73 WHIP. He’s definitely made some improvements the past few seasons, posting a 3.91 ERA along with a 60% groundball rate since 2011. While there was speculation about a Neil Walker or Pedro Alvarez extension this offseason, the Pirates decided to extend Morton to a three-year deal worth $21 million, which also includes a 2017 club option.   Grade: B+

Chris Stewart acquistion – After spending two and a half seasons with the Pirates, Michael McKenry was designated for assignment this offseason. In the process, they acquired Chris Stewart from the New York Yankees in early December to serve as the new backup catcher. Stewart may not have the pop in the bat that McKenry has, but he’s certainly a significant upgrade behind the plate, as he not only can throw runners out consistently, but is also a very good pitch framer.   Grade: C+

Clint Barmes signing – Despite Jordy Mercer’s emergence with the bat in the second half of last season, he had some struggles with the glove at times. The Pirates addressed their need for a primary backup shortstop by re-signing Clint Barmes to a one-year deal worth $2 million. Barmes will certainly provide some insurance on defense, as his defensive metrics have been above average each of the last five seasons.   Grade: B-

Edinson Volquez signing – 2013 was a real struggle for Edinson Volquez, as he posted a 5.71 ERA and a 1.59 WHIP in 33 games pitched combined with the San Diego Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Just like Francisco Liriano last season, the Pirates are going to take on another reclamation project this year, as they signed Volquez in December on a one-year deal worth $5 million. Volquez still has above average stuff and can be a pretty good groundball pitcher at times, but just hasn’t been able to be consistent with his pitches. Perhaps pitching coach Ray Searage can help Volquez iron out some mechanical issues.   Grade: C+

Jaff Decker acquisition – The Pirates made a very interesting trade in late November, as they dealt outfielder/first baseman Alex Dickerson to the San Diego Padres in exchange for outfielder Jaff Decker and reliever Miles Mikolas (now with the Texas Rangers). Decker, who was a top prospect a few years back, has been an on base machine in the minors, posting a .402 OBP. He probably won’t be on the Pirates Opening Day roster, but should join them at some point this season, and hopefully provide some help off the bench with his on base ability.   Grade: B

Why the Pirates Would Be Smart to Draft a Third Baseman This Year

By Jason Shetler

When the Pirates drafted Pedro Alvarez #2 overall in 2008, it officially began the Neal Huntington era as Pirates general manager. Like most draft prospects coming out of college, Alvarez wasted no time reaching the big leagues, as he made his debut with the Bucs in 2010. After a painfully bad 2011 campaign, Alvarez has put up the prodigious power numbers the Pirates were expecting from him each of the past two seasons. As fun as it’s been to watch his power on display, Pirates fans may have to enjoy it while they can since Alvarez became first time arbitration eligible this offseason making a little more than $4 million. Assuming that he has another stellar season with the bat in 2014, Alvarez is going to be given a huge pay in arbitration next offseason. The Pirates may not have much of a choice but to break the bank in giving Alvarez a long term extension, because it’ll be extremely difficult to extend him the year before he hits free agency in 2017, especially with Scott Boras as his agent. Whether the Pirates decide to extend Alvarez or not remains to be seen obviously, but I think it would be in their best interest to possibly draft a third baseman preferably out of college with their first round choice this year, barring that they give up that pick by going out and signing Kendrys Morales. I’m not really an advocate of taking players based on a certain need in the MLB Draft, but in this instance, I think they have to consider that since the only other option would seem to be moving Neil Walker over to third if Alvarez leaves, which I think would be a mistake since Walker’s numbers are above average for a second baseman, but would only be average as a third baseman. By drafting a third baseman, it would give the Pirates a security blanket just in case Alvarez isn’t around in a couple years. Even if Alvarez is still around for many more seasons in Pittsburgh, the Pirates could always move him over to first base since he’ll probably lose some defensive range at third by then, and the third baseman who they decide to draft would be a safer bet to give the Pirates production there as opposed to a declining Walker. 

Jeff Karstens Throws Side Session For Pirates

By Jason Shetler

According to 93.7 The Fan’s Dan Zangrilli, free agent pitcher Jeff Karstens threw a side session for the Pirates earlier today at Pirate City.

Karstens entered last offseason in his final year of arbitration and was given a non-tender. The Pirates eventually would re-sign him to a one-year deal. Karstens however would end up missing the entire 2013 season as he underwent shoulder surgery. Despite dealing with a few injuries in 2012, Karstens posted a 3.97 ERA along with a 1.15 WHIP in 19 games pitched. 

If the Pirates were to bring back Karstens, it would no doubt be on a minor league deal. There could be the possibility of Wandy Rodriguez missing the start of the season, and having Karstens as a reliable veteran stopgap in the rotation for the time being.