The Pirates Will Do Very Little This Offseason And That’s Okay.

What will happen this off-season:

In the OF: Nothing. Andrew McCutchen is rightfully entrenched in center. Starling Marte is ready for a fulltime job. Travis Snider gets first crack at right field. Alex Presley and Jose Tabata provide depth.

In the IF: Nothing. Pedro Alvarez, Clint Barmes and Neil Walker are set at third, short and second. Garrett Jones and Gaby Sanchez will platoon at first.

Behind the plate: A partner for Michael McKenry will be picked up. It won’t be Russell Martin if his price is really 4 yrs/$40M. I don’t know how much A.J. Pierzynski is looking for. Toronto (J.P. Arencibia/Travis d’Arnaud/John Buck) and Boston (Ryan Lavarnway/Jarrod Saltalamacchia/David Ross) both have catching depth to spare. Trading with one of those teams seems like the best option.

On the mound: A.J. Burnett/Wandy Rodriguez/James McDonald will head the rotation. After that things are in flux. Jeff Karstens will be in the mix if he’s tendered a contract. Look for the team to add one starter making $8-10M/year. Kyle McPherson and Jeff Locke will fill the back-end or provide depth.

In the Bullpen: This is where the most change will happen. Joel Hanrahan, Tony Watson and Jared Hughes will be there. Every other spot is up for grabs. This is OK because reliever performance can vary wildly from year to year. Bullpens are also one of the easiest pieces of the team to build on the cheap. For those same reasons, it’s also possible that Hanrahan could be traded if another team is willing to give up a solid catcher or starting pitcher.

So that’s it. The Pirates will sign or otherwise acquire a catcher, a starting pitcher and a slew of relievers.

What else was to be expected? The major moves were made in July – Wandy Rodriguez and Travis Snider.

There aren’t any obvious bargains to be had on the free agent market. Look closely at that list and you’ll find that each player falls into one of three categories: old, bad or prohibitively expensive. Any significant improvement will have to come via the trade route. If they could swing a trade for Giancarlo Stanton or Wil Myers or a shortstop with half a bat to go with this glove it would be beyond great, but I just can’t see a deal like that happening. This is your 2013 Pirates team. And it looks a whole lot like the 2012 team.

Series Preview: The Reds

Current record: 72-67, 3rd place in NL Central, 11.0 games back
2.5 games back of a Wild Card spot

Up Next: Cincinnati Reds, 84-57, 1st place in NL Central, 8.5 games ahead

Season Series: 6-6 (1-2, 2-1, 2-1, 1-2)

Notes: The last time the Bucs and Reds squared off, this series looked like it would be way more important than it is now. Cincinnati is cruising to the NL Central crown while Pittsburgh has gone from 15 games over .500 to merely five. A couple wins at Great American would be huge for the confidence of this team and its fans.

Familiar Faces: Bronson Arroyo, Xavier Paul, Ryan Ludwick

Probable Pitchers
Monday: LH Wandy Rodriguez (10-13, 177.0 IP, 117 K, 3.71 ERA, 1.28 WHIP)
vs. RH Mat Latos (12-4, 175.2 IP, 158 K, 3.69 ERA, 1.19 WHIP)

Tuesday: RH Kevin Correia (10-8, 141.0 IP, 65 K, 4.28 ERA, 1.32 WHIP)
vs. RH Mike Leake (7-9, 160.0 IP, 109 K, 4.73 ERA, 1.36 WHIP)

Wednesday: RH A.J. Burnett (15-6, 168.2 IP, 149 K, 3.68 ERA, 1.26 WHIP)
vs. RH Homer Bailey (10-9, 174.0 IP, 138 K, 4.03 ERA, 1.33 WHIP)

No lineup yet.

Series Preview: The Cubs

Current record: 72-64, 3rd place in NL Central, 10.0 games back; 1.5 games back of a Wild Card spot

Up Next: Chicago Cubs, 51-85, 5th place in NL Central, 31.0 games back

Season Series: 6-3 (3-0, 1-2, 2-1)

Notes: Seven of the Pirates next ten games are against the Cubs. This is the time to make a move. Taking any less than five of these games would be a setback. I’m going to stop short of say that they will take that many games; predictions like that have not worked out well for me this year. A lot of breaks went the Pirates direction in June and July – 2 out RBIs, a key strike out to get out of an inning. A lot of those breaks went the other way in August. I’ll just say that if you’re looking for a team to get some breaks against, the Cubs have historically always fit that bill.

Familiar Faces: None

Probable Pitchers
Friday: LH Travis Wood (4-11, 120.1 IP, 86 K, 4.64 ERA, 1.24 WHIP)
vs. RH A.J. Burnett (15-5, 163.2 IP, 145 K, 3.63 ERA, 1.24 WHIP)

Saturday: RH Jeff Samardzija (8-13, 165.2 IP, 171 K, 3.91 ERA, 1.26 WHIP)
vs. RH James McDonald (12-7, 161.2 IP, 147 K, 3.90 ERA, 1.21 WHIP)

Sunday: LH Chris Rusin (0-2, 6.0 IP, 5 K, 9.00 ERA, 2.00 WHIP)
vs. LH Jeff Locke (0-1, 9.1 IP, 7 K, 4.82 ERA, 0.96 WHIP)

No lineup yet.

Brewers Wrap Up

Scores:
Friday: 9-3 Loss at Milwaukee. Karstens hurt. Box score.
Saturday: 3-2 Loss at Milwaukee. So close. Very winnable game. Box score.
Sunday: 12-8 Loss at Milwaukee. Ugly. Box score.

Season Record: 70-63, 3rd place in NL Central, 11.0 games back

Notes: What a let down. Coming off two outstanding wins against the Cards, no one expected the Bucs to fall flat on their faces and get swept. That said, the hitters were still okay. Pedro Alvarez and Garrett Jones continue to do as much as they can to get the team out of this slump. Jeff Karstens reinjured his groin and will miss his next start. Kevin Correia put up four scoreless innings in relief and may get to fill in for him. A.J. Burnett was more than good enough to win his game. James McDonald was every bit as bad on Sunday as he was good against the St. Louis.

Combined Box

Pittsburgh AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG OBP
Harrison, 2B, SS 13 1 2 0 0 4 8 0.154 0.154
Jones, G, 1B-RF 11 4 5 2 2 3 2 0.455 0.538
Alvarez, 3B 11 1 3 1 2 2 8 0.273 0.385
McCutchen, A, CF 9 1 3 1 0 1 5 0.333 0.333
Presley, LF, CF 9 0 3 2 1 4 3 0.333 0.400
Snider, RF-LF 9 0 1 0 1 4 2 0.111 0.200
McKenry, C 8 2 3 3 2 4 4 0.375 0.500
Tabata, LF 8 1 2 0 0 2 5 0.250 0.250
Barmes, SS 7 0 0 0 0 1 4 0.000 0.000
Sanchez, G, 1B 6 2 3 3 2 0 3 0.500 0.625
Holt, Br, 2B 5 1 2 1 1 2 0 0.400 0.500
Barajas, C 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 0.250 0.250
Burnett, AJ, P 2 0 0 0 0 2 0 0.000 0.000
Correia, P 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.000 0.000
Leroux, P 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.000 0.000
McDonald, J, P 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.000 0.000
McPherson, K, P 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 0.000 0.000
Mercer, PH 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 0.000 0.000
Karstens, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 —- —-
  Totals 107 13 28 13 11 32 46 0.262 0.331

Batting
Doubles (5): Harrison (9), McKenry (12), Sanchez (14), McCutchen (25), Presley (10)
Home Runs (5): Jones 2 (23), Alvarez (27), McKenry (12), Sanchez (5)

Baserunning
SB: McCutchen (16)

Fielding
Errors: Presley (3), Barajas (3), Alvarez (22)
PB: McKenry (2)
DP: (Alvarez-Holt-Sanchez)

Pitching

Pittsburgh IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA WHIP
Burnett, AJ 6.7 2 2 2 4 9 0 2.70 0.90
Correia 4.0 4 0 0 1 2 0 0.00 1.25
McDonald, J (L, 12-7) 2.7 6 8 7 1 6 4 23.63 2.63
Resop 2.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.00 0.00
McPherson, K 1.7 1 1 1 2 3 0 5.40 1.80
Hughes, J 1.3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.75
Leroux 1.3 3 3 3 1 1 1 20.25 3.00
Watson 1.0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0.00 1.00
Grilli 1.0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0.00 2.00
Wilson 1.0 4 1 1 0 0 0 9.00 4.00
Takahashi 1.0 4 4 4 2 2 1 36.00 6.00
Karstens (L, 5-4) 0.3 5 4 4 0 1 1 108.00 15.00
Hanrahan (L, 4-1) 0.0 1 1 1 0 0 1 -.– -.–
  Totals 24 32 24 23 13 26 8 8.63 1.88

Transactions: Recalled RHP Kyle McPherson from AAA. Recalled OF Alex Presley from AAA. Optioned Chase d’Arnaud to High-A. Signed free agent 1B Hector Luna. Outrighted 1B Jeff Clement to High-A. Called up RHP Chris Leroux from AAA. Called up IF Brock Holt from AAA. Recalled C Eric Fryer from AAA. Recalled LHP Jeff Locke from AAA. Recalled LHP Justin Wilson from AAA. Designated LF Oscar Tejeda for assignment. Called up 1B Jeff Clement from High-A.

Series Preview: The Brewers

Current record: 70-60, 3rd place in NL Central, 9.0 games back

Up Next: Milwaukee Brewers, 62-68, 4th place in NL Central, 17.0 games back

Season Series: 4-5 (2-1, 1-2, 1-2)

Notes: Since we last saw the Brewers on Sunday, they’ve taken three of four from the Cubs in Wrigley. Milwaukee is 8-2 in its last ten games. The Pirates will face three strikeout pitchers in this series, which usually gives them trouble.

Familiar Faces: Aramis Ramirez, Jose Veras, Nyjer Morgan

Probable Pitchers
Friday: RH Jeff Karstens (5-3, 83.0 IP, 58 K, 3.47 ERA, 1.12 WHIP)
vs. RH Mark Rogers (2-1, 33.2 IP, 36 K, 4.28 ERA, 1.28 WHIP)

Saturday: RH A.J. Burnett (15-5, 157.0 IP, 136 K, 3.67 ERA, 1.25 WHIP)
vs. RH Marco Estrada (2-5, 100.2 IP, 104 K, 4.02 ERA, 1.21 WHIP)

Sunday: RH James McDonald (12-6, 159.0 IP, 141 K, 3.57 ERA, 1.18 WHIP)
vs. RH Yovani Gallardo (14-8, 168.2 IP, 172 K, 3.52 ERA, 1.26 WHIP)

No lineup yet.

Series Preview: The Cardinals

Current record: 68-59, 3rd place in NL Central, 8.0 games back

Up Next: St. Louis Cardinals, 70-57, 2nd place in NL Central, 6.0 games back

Season Series: 6-6 (1-2, 1-2, 2-1, 2-1)

Notes: This is the Pirates final series against the Cardinals. Pittsburgh needs to win some games, but taking them against St. Louis would be extra helpful. To make that happen, they’ll have to hit and pitch better than they have for the bulk of August.

Familiar Faces: None

Probable Pitchers
Monday: RH Kyle Lohse (13-2, 169.0 IP, 104 K, 2.61 ERA, 1.08 WHIP)
vs. RH A.J. Burnett (15-4, 151.1 IP, 133 K, 3.63 ERA, 1.25 WHIP)

Tuesday: RH Jake Westbrook (13-9, 159.1 IP, 96 K, 3.67 ERA, 1.30 WHIP)
vs. RH James McDonald (11-6, 152.0 IP, 135 K, 3.73 ERA, 1.22 WHIP)

Wednesday: RH Joe Kelly (4-5, 77.1 IP, 55 K, 3.26 ERA, 1.42 WHIP)
vs. LH Wandy Rodriguez (8-13, 164.0 IP, 107 K, 4.01 ERA, 1.32 WHIP)

No lineup yet.

Series Preview: The Padres

Current record: 67-54, 2nd place in NL Central, 6.5 games back

Up Next: San Diego Padres, 53-70, 4th place in NL West, 14.5 games back

Season Series: 1-2

Notes: Not a lot new to say since the Bucs played the Padres last weekend and dropped two games. Carlos Quentin and Chase Headley are still their best hitters. The Pirates need to take two out of three to spilt the season series and sweep to win it.

Familiar Faces: None, since Ross Ohlendorf was optioned to AAA last week.

Probable Pitchers
Monday: TBA
vs. RH Edinson Volquez (7-9, 142.0 IP, 133 K, 4.31 ERA, 1.44 WHIP)

The Pirates had to use Wandy Rodriguez in yesterday’s 19 inning game so it remains to be seen who will start tonight. After the game, Kevin Correia volunteered to start even though he had pitched two innings.

Tuesday: RH A.J. Burnett (15-4, 145.0 IP, 126 K, 3.54 ERA, 1.19 WHIP)
vs. RH Jason Marquis (8-11, 122.1 IP, 86 K, 5.30 ERA, 1.46 WHIP)

Matchup-wise, this one is clearly in the Bucs’ favor. The mumbers above include his time in Minnesota, but Marquis has been much better since going to San Diego (6-7, 88.1 IP, 74 K, 4.08 ERA, 1.27 WHIP.)

Wednesday: RH James McDonald (11-5, 147.0 IP, 133 K, 3.61 ERA, 1.19 WHIP)
vs. TBA

McDonald goes out to prove that his last outing was no fluke. Petco Park is a great place to do just that.

No lineup yet.

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