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.

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.

Walker Injured, Roster Moves

Late update today. Neil Walker dislocated his right pinky finger last night. X-rays came back negative for a fracture and he saw a hand specialist this morning. He has not been placed on the disabled list as of this writing. Yamaico Navarro has been recalled from AAA to provide infield depth and Jeff Locke was optioned to Indy.

In a separate move, Chad Qualls was placed on the bereavement list due to an illness in the family and Jared Hughes was called up from AAA.

Today’s game started at 4pm, as the Pirates try to salvage the series finale with the Dodgers.

Padres Wrap Up

Scores:
Friday: 9-8 Loss vs. San Diego. JMac keeps floundering. Box score.
Saturday: 5-0 Loss vs. San Diego. Bats can’t touch Jason Marquis. Box score.
Sunday: 11-5 Win vs. San Diego. Walker, Barmes lead big comeback. Box score.

Season Record: 64-50, 2nd place in NL Central, 4.5 games back

Notes: The Pirates drop two of three to an inferior opponent in another bad series. James McDonald gave up a six run lead and couldn’t get out of the 5th. The offense was huge on Friday and Sunday but non existant on Saturday. Neil Walker was 5 for 5 with a homer on double Sunday. Clint Barmes had a couple good games including a grand slam.

Combined Box

Pittsburgh AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG OBP
Marte, S, LF 14 0 3 1 1 4 7 0.214 0.267
Walker, 2B 13 2 5 2 1 1 6 0.385 0.429
McCutchen, A, CF 13 2 2 2 1 1 9 0.154 0.214
Alvarez, 3B 11 1 4 2 2 3 4 0.364 0.462
Jones, G, 1B-RF 11 5 3 2 2 1 7 0.273 0.385
Barmes, SS 9 3 4 4 0 2 4 0.444 0.444
Snider, RF 8 1 3 3 1 0 3 0.375 0.444
Barajas, C 8 0 1 1 0 1 2 0.125 0.125
McKenry, C, PH 5 1 1 2 1 1 3 0.200 0.429
Sanchez, G, 1B 4 1 0 0 2 0 1 0.000 0.333
Mercer, SS 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.000 0.000
Bedard, P 2 2 1 0 1 0 0 0.500 0.667
Harrison, SS 2 0 0 0 0 1 1 0.000 0.000
Burnett, AJ, P 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.000 0.000
Resop, P 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.000 0.000
McDonald, J, P 0 1 0 0 2 0 0 —- 1.000
  Totals 106 19 27 19 14 17 47 0.255 0.347

Batting
Doubles (3): Bedard (1), McCutchen (23), Walker (26)
Triples (1): Jones (3)
Home Runs (4): Jones (17), Snider (4), Barmes (6), Walker (14)

Baserunning
SB: Marte (3)

Fielding
Errors: Jones (6), Walker (5), Barmes 2 (11)
DP: (Walker-Sanchez)

Pitching

Pittsburgh IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA WHIP
Burnett, AJ (L, 14-4) 5.7 9 5 4 2 10 2 6.35 1.94
Bedard (W, 7-12) 5.0 5 5 3 4 6 1 5.40 1.80
McDonald, J 4.3 7 7 7 1 4 2 14.54 1.85
Resop 3.0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0.00 0.00
Hughes, J 2.3 1 0 0 0 2 0 0.00 0.43
Qualls 2.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.00 0.00
Watson (BS, 2)(L, 5-2) 1.7 1 2 2 2 2 1 10.80 1.80
Grilli 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.00 0.00
Hanrahan 1.0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0.00 1.00
Cruz, J 1.0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 1.00
  Totals 27.0 24 19 16 10 29 6 5.33 1.26

Transactions: Activated RHP Juan Cruz from the DL. Optioned RHP Jared Hughes to AAA.

Braves Wrap Up

Scores:
Friday: 6-1 Loss at Atlanta. One bad inning from the bullpen. Box score.
Saturday: 4-2 Win at Atlanta. Score early and hang on late. Solid pitching. Box score.
Sunday: 4-3 Loss at Atlanta. Sloppy defense, 1 for 13 with RISP. Box score.
Monday: 9-3 Win at Atlanta. Finally, the bats break out. Box score.

Season Record: 10-12, 4th place in the NL Central

Splitting four games on the road versus a good team is a very acceptable result. Nice to see the bats come alive too.

Earlier I posted a little about Pedro Alvarez, but I want to reiterate that he was their best player this weekend. He looked loose and confident, which was a marked difference from how I saw him in March. Andrew McCutchen on the other hand looked to be pressing to get the big hit every time up. If both of those guys were hitting at the same time, watch out.

All four starters looked good. I watched James McDonald warm up in the bullpen and he was all over the place. When he started so shaky in the first and second it looked like it was going to be a long game. But as he sometimes does, he figured it out and shut the door on the Braves from that point on.

Combined Box

Pittsburgh   AB   R   H  RBI  BB  SO  LOB   AVG
McCutchen, A, CF 16 2 3 1 1 7 4 0.188
Walker, 2B 14 2 7 1 3 0 3 0.500
Alvarez, 3B 14 2 5 3 2 5 10 0.357
Tabata, RF 14 3 5 3 1 1 4 0.357
Presley, LF 13 2 4 1 1 4 1 0.308
Jones, G, 1B 12 0 2 2 0 5 2 0.167
Barmes, SS 11 0 0 0 0 3 9 0.000
McGehee, 1B 9 1 2 0 2 5 3 0.222
Barajas, C 8 2 2 0 3 2 4 0.250
Navarro, LF 4 2 2 3 0 0 3 0.500
McKenry, C 3 1 1 0 1 0 0 0.333
McDonald, J, P 3 0 0 0 1 1 2 0.000
Bedard, P 2 0 0 0 0 0 5 0.000
McLouth, PH 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0.000
Burnett, AJ, P 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.000
Correia, P 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.000
126 17 33 14 15 34 51 0.262

Batting
Doubles (11): Presley (4), Alvarez 3 (4), Walker 2 (2), McCutchen (6), Jones (3), Tabata 2 (3), McGehee (3)
HomeRuns (2): Alvarez (5), Navarro (1)

BaseRunning
SB: McCutchen (5), Walker (1)
CS: Presley (3)

Fielding
Errors: Tabata (1), McCutchen (1), Alvarez (3), Resop (1)
Double Plays: (Walker-McGehee), (Barmes-Walker-Jones)

Pittsburgh     IP    H    R   ER   BB   SO  HR    ERA
McDonald, J(W, 1-1) 7.7 7 3 3 2 10 1 3.52
Burnett, A.J. (L, 1-1) 6.0 6 2 2 3 8 0 3.00
Bedard (W, 1-4) 5.0 5 1 1 2 9 0 1.80
Correia (L, 1-1) 4.3 4 3 2 5 0 0 4.15
Meek 2.7 4 1 1 0 1 0 3.38
Resop(H, 2) 2.3 3 1 1 0 1 0 3.86
Lincoln 2.0 2 1 1 1 2 1 4.50
Grilli (H, 4) 1.0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0.00
Hanrahan (S, 4) 1.0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0.00
Cruz, J (H, 2) 1.0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Watson 1.0 1 3 3 2 0 0 27.00
34.0 33 15 14 15 36 2 3.71

Transaction: After Sunday’s game Evan Meek was optioned to AAA. Jared Hughes was called back up.

Up Next:
Three games in St. Louis (14-8, 1st place in NL Central). Earlier in the year the Cards took two of three from the Pirates. Expected Matchups:
Charlie Morton (1-1, 2.65 ERA) vs. Adam Wainwright (0-3, 7.32 ERA)
A.J. Burnett (1-1, 1.38 ERA) vs Lance Lynn (4-0, 1.33 ERA)
Erik Bedard (1-4, 2.48 ERA) vs. Jake Westbrook (3-1, 1.30 ERA)

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