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.

2012 Home Run Derby Preview

Andrew McCutchen was selected Saturday night to participate in the 2012 Home Run Derby. McCutchen is replacing the injured Giancarlo Stanton, who underwent knee surgery and is out 4-6 weeks.

Cutch will have to buck a trend of poor Pirate performances. In 2005 Jason Bay hit zero home runs at Comerica Park. 1992 saw Barry Bonds hit a measly 2 homers out of Jack Murphy Stadium. And in 1990, Bobby Bonilla put up a goose egg in Wrigley. (It’s worth noting that there were only 5 home runs hit in that entire derby combined. Ryne Sandberg lead the way with 3.)

2012 Home Run Derby participants (Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City):

National League
Matt Kemp, OF, LAD
HR this season: 12
Career high: 39 (2011)
Prior HR Derby results: last in 2011, 2 total HRs

Carlos Beltran, OF, STL
HR this season: 20
Career high: 41 (2006)
Prior HR Derby results: None

Carlos Gonzalez, OF, COL
HR this season: 17
Career high: 34 (2010)
Prior HR Derby results: None

Andrew McCutchen, OF, PIT
HR this season: 18
Career high: 23 (2011)
Prior HR Derby results: None

American League
Robinson Cano, 2B, NYY
HR this season: 20
Career high: 29 (2010)
Prior HR Derby results: 2011 Champion, 32 total HRs

Mark Trumbo, 3B, LAA
HR this season: 22
Career high: 29 (2011)
Prior HR Derby results: None

Prince Fielder, 1B, DET
HR this season: 15
Career high: 50 (2007)
Prior HR Derby results: 2009 Champion, 23 total HRs, 2007 6th place, 3 total HRs

Jose Bautista, OF, TOR
HR this season: 27
Career high: 54 (2010)
Prior HR Derby results: 2011 6th place, 4 total HRs

Giants Wrap Up

Scores:
Friday: 6-5 Loss vs San Francisco. Bedard struggles again. Box score.
Saturday: 3-1 Win vs San Francisco. JMac dominates. Box score.
Sunday: 13-2 Win vs San Francisco. Pirates batter Lincecum. Box score.

Season Record: 48-37, 1st place in NL Central, 1.0 game ahead

Notes: The Pirates enter the All Star break in first place for the first time since 1997. The Bucs are 11 games over .500 and sport the fourth best record in the majors. What a series for Neil Walker: 8 for 12 with 4 doubles and a homer. Andrew McCutchen was nearly as good with 2 homers among his 7 hits in 14 at bats. Cutch was named to participate in the Home Run Derby as a late replacement for Giancarlo Stanton. James McDonald continued his All Star-worthy campaign with 10 K’s in 7 innings. The bullpen was stellar once again, allowing only one run (by Juan Cruz) in 10 innings.

Combined Box

Pittsburgh AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG OBP
McCutchen, A, CF 14 5 7 6 0 2 4 0.500 0.500
Sutton, LF-RF 13 0 2 1 0 3 5 0.154 0.143
Walker, 2B 12 4 8 4 1 1 3 0.667 0.692
McGehee, 1B 12 2 4 3 0 2 5 0.333 0.333
Alvarez, 3B 11 2 2 2 1 3 6 0.182 0.250
Jones, G, RF-1B 10 1 1 0 0 3 6 0.100 0.100
Barmes, SS 7 1 2 1 0 1 4 0.286 0.286
Barajas, C 6 1 1 0 2 0 3 0.167 0.444
Hernandez, Go, PR-LF 6 1 0 0 0 2 1 0.000 0.000
Mercer, PH-SS 4 0 0 0 0 0 2 0.000 0.000
McKenry, C 3 1 2 1 0 0 1 0.667 0.667
Burnett, AJ, P 3 0 1 1 0 1 3 0.333 0.333
Harrison, SS 2 2 2 0 1 0 0 1.000 1.000
McDonald, J, P 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 1.000 1.000
Lincoln, P 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1.000 1.000
Bedard, P 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.000 0.000
Fryer, PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.000 0.000
  Totals 107 21 34 19 6 18 43 0.318 0.357

Batting
Doubles (9): Walker 4 (21), McKenry (7), Alvarez (15), Sutton (10), Barajas (8), McGehee (12)
Triples (1): McCutchen (5)
Home Runs (6): McGehee (6), Alvarez (16), McKenry (7), McCutchen 2 (18), Walker (6)

Baserunning
SB: Hernandez (2)

Fielding
Errors: Walker (4), Harrison (3), McKenry (1), Sutton (1)
Double Plays: (Bedard-Harrison-McGehee), (Mercer-Walker-McGehee), (Barmes-Walker- McGehee)

Pitching

Pittsburgh IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA WHIP
McDonald, J(W, 9-3) 7.0 4 1 1 0 10 0 1.29 0.57
Burnett, AJ(W, 10-2) 6.3 4 2 2 2 5 1 2.84 0.95
Bedard(L, 4-10) 3.7 4 5 4 3 1 1 9.82 1.91
Lincoln 2.7 0 0 0 0 2 0 0.00 0.00
Resop 2.3 0 0 0 0 3 0 0.00 0.00
Hughes, J 2.0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 1.00
Grilli(H, 21) 1.0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0.00 0.00
Hanrahan(S, 23) 1.0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 1.00
Cruz, J 1.0 2 1 1 0 0 0 9.00 2.00
  Totals 27.0 17 9 8 5 24 2 2.67 0.81

Transactions: Outrighted Chris Leroux and Doug Slaten to AAA. Optioned C Eric Fryer to AAA. Recalled 1B Matt Hague from AAA.

Series Preview: The Marlins

Current record: 16-18, 3rd place in NL Central, 4 games back

Up Next: Miami Marlins, 18-16, 4th place in NL East, 7.5 games back

The Pirates head down to Miami for a quick two game set against the newly orange-clad Marlins. The Fish have an 85 OPS+ and 117 ERA+ which means that the pitchers have been doing more than the bats to help the team win. For comparison, the Pirates are at 72 and 117. Marlins Stadium has been a hitters park thus far in its short history. Miami is scoring 4.5 runs and allowing 4.64 at home, vs 3.25 and 3.15 on the road. The Marlins spent a ton of money to bring in free agents Jose Reyes (started slow, heating up), Mark Buehrle (as good as expected), and Heath Bell (already removed from the closer role). Giancarlo Stanton (133 OPS+) and Omar Infante (153 OPS+) are leading the Marlins’ offense most nights.

Probable Pitchers
Monday: RH Brad Lincoln (2-0, 14.1 IP, 16 K, 0.63 ERA, 1.05 WHIP)
vs. RH Anibal Sanchez (2-0, 40.1 IP, 46 K, 2.01 ERA, 1.04 WHIP)

Lincoln fills in tonight for what would have been Erik Bedard‘s turn. Bedard will go on Wednesday. Sanchez is pitching like an ace this year and strikes out a ton of batters. The pitching will have to keep things close (again) for the Pirates to have a shot tonight.

Tuesday: RH Kevin Correia (1-3, 36.1 IP, 13 K, 3.47 ERA, 1.13 WHIP)
vs. RH Josh Johnson (0-3, 38.1 IP, 32 K, 5.87 ERA, 1.70 WHIP)

Correia hopes to continue getting  good results from his smoke-and-mirrors show. Johnson has yet to regain his Cy Young candidate form after injuring his shoulder last year but he still strikes out a lot of hitters.

Lineups:
Jose Tabata RF
Neil Walker 2B
Andrew McCutchen CF
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Casey McGehee 1B
Alex Presley LF
Rod Barajas C
Clint Barmes SS
Brad Lincoln P

Marlins
Jose Reyes SS
Omar Infante 2B
Hanley Ramirez 3B
Logan Morrison LF
Giancarlo Stanton RF
Gaby Sanchez 1B
Emilio Bonifacio CF
John Buck C
Anibal Sanchez P

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