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.

Astros Wrap Up

Scores:
Monday: 5-1 Loss vs. Houston. Listless Bucs lose lacklusterly. Box score.
Tuesday: 6-2 Win vs. Houston. Holt, Cutch, Wandy snap losing streak. Box score.
Wednesday: 6-3 Win vs. Houston. Pirates cruise to easy win. Box score.

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

Notes: Two nice wins take the series after a let down on Labor Day. 72 wins matches the Bucs’ total from last season. 10 more in their last 26 games will clinch a winning season. It will probably take at least 16 more wins to get them into the playoffs. As far as I can remember, this is the first series in a few months that the Pirates did not hit a home run. Brock Holt and Andrew McCutchen each had four hit games on Tuesday. Wandy Rodriguez was brilliant in seven shutout innings. Kevin Correia continues to defy all analysis and evidence by being an effective starter, becoming the Pirates’ third 10 game winner this year.

Combined Box

Pittsburgh AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG OBP
Alvarez, 3B 12 1 1 0 0 3 11 0.083 0.083
Holt, Br, 2B 11 2 5 2 0 2 2 0.455 0.455
McCutchen, A, CF 11 2 4 3 1 1 4 0.364 0.417
Jones, G, RF, 1B 10 1 5 2 2 1 2 0.500 0.583
Barmes, SS 9 1 3 2 2 3 1 0.333 0.455
Sanchez, G, 1B 8 0 3 1 0 2 4 0.375 0.375
Presley, LF 8 3 2 1 1 1 2 0.250 0.333
Barajas, C 6 1 1 0 0 1 7 0.167 0.167
McKenry, C 5 0 0 0 0 3 2 0.000 0.000
Snider, LF, RF 4 1 0 0 1 1 1 0.000 0.200
Rodriguez, W, P 3 0 0 0 0 2 1 0.000 0.000
Tabata, RF 2 1 0 0 1 1 3 0.000 0.333
Clement, PH 2 0 0 0 1 0 2 0.000 0.333
Harrison, PH-2B 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.000 0.000
Correia, P 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 0.000 0.000
Fryer, PH 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.000 0.000
Locke, P 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.000 0.000
  Totals 95 13 24 11 9 24 43 0.253 0.317

Batting
Doubles (3): Jones (25), McCutchen (26), Holt (1)
Triples (2): Alvarez (1), Presley (5)

Fielding
DP: (Sanchez-Barajas-Sanchez), (Hughes-Barmes-Sanchez)

Pitching

Pittsburgh IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA WHIP
Rodriguez, W (W, 10-13) 7.0 4 0 0 1 7 0 0.00 0.71
Correia (W, 10-8) 6.0 4 1 1 1 1 0 1.50 0.83
Locke (L, 0-1) 5.0 7 5 5 1 6 1 9.00 1.60
Hughes, J 3.0 2 0 0 0 5 0 0.00 0.67
McPherson, K 2.0 2 0 0 0 2 0 0.00 1.00
Hanrahan 1.0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0.00 1.00
Takahashi 1.0 1 0 0 0 3 0 0.00 1.00
Grilli 1.0 2 2 2 0 2 1 18.00 2.00
Resop 0.7 2 2 2 0 0 0 27.00 3.00
Watson 0.3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 3.00
  Totals 27.0 25 10 10 4 27 2 3.33 1.07

Transactions: None

Bucs Make Roster Moves With An Eye Towards The Playoffs

Only players on the active roster on September 1* can be on a team’s postseason roster. With that in mind, the Pirates made two roster moves today.

Jeff Clement was outrighted to Class A Bradenton. Clement was 0-6 with 2 K’s in his brief time up. The fact that he was outrighted and not simply optioned opens a spot on the 40 man roster and likely shows that the team doesn’t think he’ll ever be able to contribute at the major league level.

Chase d”Arnaud was optioned to AAA. I expect Chase to be added back to the active roster once he is eligible to be called back up and resume his role as a… back up.

Kyle McPherson and Alex Presley were recalled from AAA. McPherson will pitch in the bullpen for now but should get a few starts in Erik Bedard‘s old spot. In 12 starts this year at AA and AAA he has a 3.22 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 8.5 K/9.

Presley will help cover for a banged up outfield. We’ve seen what he can do when he’s on top of his game, and we’ve seen how bad he can be too. Alex gets a start in CF tonight to give Andrew McCutchen an extra night off before the stretch run.

*There are a few exceptions that can be made for players who go on or are currently on the DL. For example: Charlie Morton on the 60-day DL allows the team to add any pitcher that is currently in the organization to the playoff roster.

Cardinals Wrap Up

Scores:
Friday: 4-3 Loss vs St. Louis. Bucs drop a close one. Box score.
Saturday: 9-0 Win vs St. Louis. Big break outs for Pedro, JMac. Box score.
Sunday: 5-0 Win vs St. Louis. Pedro 3 run bomb. Box score.

Season Record: 70-60, 3rd place in NL Central, 9.0 games back

Notes: It didn’t start out great, but this may have been the Pirates’ best combined hitting and pitching in a series all season. Check the totals in the box score below and try to find me better ones in any previous post. Pedro Alvarez could have beat the Cardinals by himself with 3 homers, 2 doubles and 3 singles to knock in 7 and score 5. Andrew McCutchen started putting good wood on the ball again with 5 hits. The first-half James McDonald make a welcome return, posting 7 shutout innings and striking out 6 with only 1 walk. Wandy Rodriguez won his first game as a starter for the Bucs with 6 shutout innings of his own. The bullpen was stellar too with 8 1/3 scoreless innings of their own. Neil Walker missed the entire series with tightness in his lower back. Pittsburgh wins the season series against the Cardinals 8-7.

Combined Box

Pittsburgh AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG OBP
Alvarez, 3B 13 5 8 7 0 3 1 0.615 0.615
McCutchen, A, CF 13 2 5 1 0 1 8 0.385 0.385
Snider, RF 11 3 4 0 2 2 5 0.364 0.462
Barmes, SS 11 0 4 3 0 3 2 0.364 0.364
Jones, G, 1B 11 2 2 2 1 3 5 0.182 0.231
Harrison, 2B 10 1 4 2 0 0 2 0.400 0.417
Tabata, LF 10 2 2 0 3 2 6 0.200 0.385
Barajas, C 8 0 1 0 0 0 5 0.125 0.125
McKenry, C 6 1 2 1 0 2 2 0.333 0.333
Clement, PH 3 1 0 0 0 0 2 0.000 0.000
Burnett, AJ, P 2 0 0 0 0 1 1 0.000 0.000
Rodriguez, W, P 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0.000 0.000
Sanchez, G, PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.000 0.000
McDonald, J, P 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 —- 1.000
  Totals 101 17 32 16 7 17 40 0.317 0.360

Batting
Doubles (6): Barmes (15), McCutchen (24), Alvarez 2 (21), Snider (7), Jones (24)
Triples (1): Snider (1)
Home Runs (3): Alvarez 3 (26)

Baserunning
SB: Snider (2)
CS: McCutchen (11)

Fielding
Errors: Alvarez (21), Barmes (14)
DP: (Barmes-Harrison-Jones), (Alvarez-Harrison-Jones)

Pitching

Pittsburgh IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA WHIP
McDonald, J (W, 12-6) 7.0 2 0 0 1 6 0 0.00 0.43
Rodriguez, W (W, 9-13) 6.0 3 0 0 3 3 0 0.00 1.00
Burnett, AJ (L, 15-5) 5.7 7 4 3 1 3 1 4.76 1.41
Grilli 2.0 1 0 0 0 3 0 0.00 0.50
Watson 2.0 1 0 0 0 2 0 0.00 0.50
Hughes, J 1.3 2 0 0 0 2 0 0.00 1.50
Takahashi 1.0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0.00 0.00
Hanrahan 1.0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0.00 1.00
Resop 1.0 3 0 0 0 1 0 0.00 3.00
  Totals 27.0 20 4 3 5 23 1 1.00 0.93

Transactions: Released LHP Erik Bedard. Recalled SS Chase d’Arnaud.

Cardinals Wrap Up

Scores:
Friday: 2-1 Win at St Louis. JMac comes back. Box score.
Saturday: 5-4 Loss at St Louis. Lots of missed chances. Box score.
Sunday: 6-3 Win at St Louis. Pirates on the good side of 19 inning game. Box score.

Season Record: 67-54, 2nd place in NL Central, 6.5 games back

Notes: The Bucs had their best pitching of any series this month. Not coincidentally, they won their first series this month. James McDonald and Jeff Karstens were effective and efficient. The bullpen put up 12 scoreless innings in yesterday’s 19 inning affair. Stepping up big were Chris Resop (3.0 IP), Jared Hughes, Kevin Correia and Wandy Rodriguez (2.0 IP each.) Jose Tabata had a nice day at the plate after bring called up for the injured Starling Marte, but made outs on the basepaths all three times he reached. The Fort was finally cooled off, going 0 for 13. Pedro Alvarez had the big hit on Sunday, hitting a solo homer to give the Pirates the lead in the 19th inning. Andrew McCutchen would knock in two more insurance runs before the inning was over. Pittsburgh looked better than they had in weeks while taking two of three from their division rival.

Combined Box

Pittsburgh AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG OBP
McCutchen, A, CF 15 1 3 4 3 7 9 0.200 0.368
Jones, G, 1B-RF 13 0 4 2 0 5 8 0.308 0.286
Barmes, SS 13 3 3 0 1 6 7 0.231 0.286
Alvarez, 3B 13 1 3 1 3 5 5 0.231 0.412
McKenry, C 13 0 0 0 0 3 8 0.000 0.000
Mercer, 2B-SS 11 1 4 2 0 1 4 0.364 0.417
Snider, RF 11 1 3 0 2 1 1 0.273 0.385
Harrison, 2B-RF 9 0 3 1 1 2 3 0.333 0.364
Tabata, LF 7 1 2 0 1 1 4 0.286 0.375
Marte, S, LF 6 1 2 0 0 0 0 0.333 0.429
Sanchez, G, 1B 6 1 2 0 0 2 2 0.333 0.333
Barajas, C 4 0 0 0 1 2 3 0.000 0.200
Navarro, LF, PH 4 0 0 0 0 0 3 0.000 0.000
McDonald, J, P, PH 3 1 1 0 0 0 0 0.333 0.333
Bedard, P 2 0 0 0 0 2 4 0.000 0.000
Karstens, P 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0.000 0.000
Walker, PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 0.000 0.000
  Totals 132 12 30 10 12 38 63 0.227 0.307

Batting
Doubles (6): Alvarez (18), Mercer 2 (5), Sanchez (13), Jones (21), Tabata (14)
Triples (1): Harrison (4)
Home Runs (1): Alvarez (23)

Baserunning
CS: Tabata 2 (11)
PO: Marte, Tabata

Fielding
Errors: Karstens (1)
DP: (Mercer-Barmes-Jones), (Alvarez-Mercer-Jones), (Bedard-Barmes)

Pitching

Pittsburgh IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA WHIP
Karstens 7.0 2 2 2 1 4 0 2.57 0.43
McDonald, J (W, 11-5) 6.0 2 0 0 3 7 0 0.00 0.83
Bedard (L, 7-13) 4.7 9 5 5 3 4 0 9.64 2.57
Hughes, J 4.3 1 0 0 0 3 0 0.00 0.23
Resop (H, 8) 3.7 4 1 1 0 3 0 2.45 1.09
Cruz, J (H, 14) (BS, 1) 2.3 5 1 1 0 1 0 3.86 2.14
Grilli (H, 27) 2.0 0 0 0 0 4 0 0.00 0.00
Rodriguez, W (W, 8-12) 2.0 1 0 0 1 3 0 0.00 1.00
Hanrahan (S, 34) 2.0 0 0 0 3 2 0 0.00 1.50
Correia 2.0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 1.00
  Totals 36.0 26 9 9 11 31 0 2.25 1.03

Transactions: Placed LF Starling Marte on the 15 day DL. Recalled OF Jose Tabata from AAA.

Dodgers Wrap Up

Scores:
Monday: 5-4 Loss vs. Los Angeles Dodgers. Jones’ 4 hits go for naught. Box score.
Tuesday: 11-0 Loss vs. Los Angeles Dodgers. Horrible game all around. Box score.
Wednesday: 9-3 Loss vs. Los Angeles Dodgers. Not much better. Box score.
Thursday: 10-6 Win vs. Los Angeles Dodgers. Jones’ 2 HR lead the Bucs. Box score.

Season Record: 65-53, 2nd place in NL Central, 6.0 games back

Notes: A third horrible series in a row is capped off by a win in the series finale. Garrett Jones was a beast with a four hit game and a two homer game. He knocked in 10 runs too. Andrew McCutchen was walked five times and scored five runs. Pedro Alvarez had eight strikeouts along with his three extra base hits. Neil Walker had to leave Wednesday’s game early after dislocating his right pinky. Pitching? Eh, let’s not talk about the pitching.

Combined Box

Pittsburgh AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG OBP
Marte, S, LF 18 1 3 0 0 5 6 0.167 0.167
Alvarez, 3B 15 2 4 1 1 8 3 0.267 0.313
Jones, G, RF-1B 13 3 7 10 1 0 2 0.538 0.533
Barmes, SS 13 0 4 4 0 1 5 0.308 0.308
McCutchen, A, CF 12 5 3 1 5 2 3 0.250 0.471
Sanchez, G, 1B 12 2 2 0 0 2 7 0.167 0.167
Walker, 2B 9 0 1 0 0 1 4 0.111 0.111
Mercer, SS, 2B 7 2 1 0 0 2 1 0.143 0.143
Barajas, C 7 1 1 0 1 1 4 0.143 0.250
Snider, PH-RF 6 1 2 0 0 1 3 0.333 0.333
McKenry, C 6 0 1 1 2 2 2 0.167 0.375
Harrison, 3B-2B 4 0 0 0 1 0 0 0.000 0.200
Burnett, AJ, P 3 0 0 0 0 1 1 0.000 0.000
Correia, P 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0.500 0.500
Karstens, P 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0.000 0.000
Rodriguez, W, P 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.000 0.000
  Totals 130 17 30 17 11 26 42 0.231 0.291

Batting
Doubles (8): Jones 3 (20), Snider 2 (5), Sanchez 2 (12), Alvarez (17)
Triples (1): Barmes (1)
Home Runs (4): McCutchen (24), Jones 2 (19), Alvarez (22)

Baserunning
SB: Marte (4)
PO: McCutchen

Fielding
Errors: Walker (6), Qualls (2), Harrison (4), Alvarez 2 (20)
PB: Barajas (6)
DP: (Jones-Sanchez)

Pitching

Pittsburgh IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA WHIP
Karstens (L, 4-3) 7.0 7 4 4 1 4 1 5.14 1.14
Burnett, AJ (W, 15-4) 6.7 7 6 6 1 7 2 8.10 1.20
Correia (L, 9-7) 6.0 7 6 5 1 3 0 7.50 1.33
Rodriguez, W (L, 7-12) 5.7 10 5 5 1 1 0 7.94 1.94
Watson (H, 13) 2.3 2 0 0 0 2 0 0.00 0.86
Locke 2.0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.50
Grilli 1.7 1 0 0 0 2 0 0.00 0.60
Resop 1.7 5 4 4 0 0 0 21.60 3.00
Cruz, J 1.3 0 1 1 2 0 0 6.75 1.50
Hanrahan 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.00
Qualls 0.7 5 5 4 1 0 0 54.00 9.00
  Totals 36.0 45 31 29 7 19 3 7.25 1.44

Transactions: Signed 3B Dallas McPherson and assigned him to AAA. Traded RHP Daniel Cabrera to Arizona. Placed RHP Chad Qualls on the bereavement list. Recalled RHP Jared Hughes from AAA. Optioned LHP Jeff Locke to AAA. Recalled IF Yamaico Navarro from AAA.

Series Preview: The Brewers

Current record: 48-37, 1st place in NL Central, 1.0 game ahead

Up Next: Milwaukee Brewers, 40-45, 4th place in NL Central, 8.0 games back

Season Series: 2-1

Notes: Finally, baseball is back from the All Star break. The last time the Pirates went to Milwaukee they had just gotten to .500 at 25-25. They’re record since then has been a lights out 23-12. Milwaukee was 5 games under then and is still 5 games under now. Ryan Braun leads his team in almost as many hitting categories as Andrew McCutchen leads the Pirates

Familiar Faces: Nyjer Morgan, Aramis Ramirez, Cesar Izturis, Jose Veras

Probable Pitchers
Friday: RH James McDonald (9-3, 110.0 IP, 100 K, 2.37 ERA, 0.97 WHIP)
vs. RH Zack Greinke (9-3, 111.0 IP, 111 K, 3.32 ERA, 1.23 WHIP)

Two aces go against each other. This could be one of Greinke’s last starts for the Brewers, as he’s been named in several trade rumors.

Saturday: RH Kevin Correia (5-6, 91.1 IP, 35 K, 4.34 ERA, 1.30 WHIP)
vs. Marco Estrada (0-3, 51.0 IP, 55 K, 4.06 ERA, 1.02 WHIP)

Underwhelming! Estrada’s actually pitched pretty well since returning from a quad injury. Correia’s been put in this spot so that his softer stuff can serve as a buffer between the similar repertoires of McDonald and…

Sunday: RH A.J. Burnett (10-2, 93.0 IP, 79 K, 3.68 ERA, 1.30 WHIP)
vs. Yovani Gallardo (7-6, 108.1 IP, 107 K, 3.74 ERA, 1.38 WHIP)

I’m looking forward to seeing this one live. That’s right! I’m road tripping to Milwaukee this weekend with my wife. We’ll be visiting the esteemable @Wezen_ball and his lovely fiance. After that we’re going to spend the rest of the week in Chicago, so postings may not fall on a regular schedule, if at all. Expect plenty of pictures when I can upload them.

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