Dominoes Are Falling

The Winter meetings start tomorrow and the Pirates made several moves, big and small, prior to arriving in Nashville.

The big moves:
Signed free agent C Russell Martin to a 2 year deal.
Non-tendered RHP Jeff Karstens, making him a free agent.

The small moves:
Traded a PTBNL to Boston for Zach Stewart.
Traded minor league RHP Luis Santos and minor league LHP Luis Rico to Kansas City for 1B Clint Robinson and RHP Vin Mazzaro.
Traded RHP Chris Resop to Oakland for minor league RHP Zach Thornton.
Traded IF/OF Yamaico Navarro to Baltimore for minor league RHP Jhondaniel Medina.
Signed free agent LHP Mike Zagurski to a minor league contract.

Looking back at my checklist of what to expect, they got the catcher and a bunch of relievers. Look for the team to acquire at least one starting pitcher and several more relievers as the off-season rolls on.

The latest rumors have the Mariners interested in Garrett Jones. The reported deal would have included catcher John Jaso coming to the Bucs, so it may be dead now that they have Martin.

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.

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.

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.

Hague Recalled, Fryer Optioned

It’s a sign that Rod Barajas is finally healthy enough to catch normally: Eric Fryer has been optioned back down to AAA. Fryer went mostly unused in his 11 days on the roster, acting as an emergency catcher in case Michael McKenry was hurt. In four games he was 1 for 3 with a single.

Matt Hague was been called up. I don’t expect he’ll see many starts with Casey McGehee and Garrett Jones swinging well but he should serve as a good bat off the bench. As a pinch hitter this year he’s 4 for 12 with 1 strikeout, 2 runs scored and 2 RBIs.

Presley to DL, Mercer Called Up

The Pirates placed LF Alex Presley on the 7-day DL with a concussion. Presley sustained the injury diving to make a catch in the fifth first inning of Tuesday’s win over the Astros. The move is retroactive to July 4, so let’s hope for a full recovery by the time he eligible to return on the 11th.

Taking Presley’s roster spot is SS Jordy Mercer. Pedro Alvarez was limited to pinch hitting duty before last night and Garrett Jones has been playing more outfield lately so the Pirates had need for another infielder at the moment. With any luck, Mercer won’t go weeks without a plate appearance this time up.

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