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.

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.

Brewers Wrap Up

Scores:
Friday: 6-5 Loss vs Milwaukee. Late rally falls short. Box score.
Saturday: 4-0 Win vs Milwaukee. Team effort breaks 4 game skid. Box score.
Sunday: 7-0 Loss vs Milwaukee. Bedard falls apart in the 4th, 5th. Box score.

Season Record: 68-59, 3rd place in NL Central, 8.0 games back

Notes: Another tough series. You can’t expect to win more than one game when you only score 9 runs though. No one stepped up and carried the offense. Someone please make Jose Tabata stop running when he gets on base. Hisanori Takahashi pitched a clean inning in his Pirates debut. Jeff Karstens tweaked his groin after seven excellent innings but isn’t expected to miss any time.

Combined Box

Pittsburgh AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG OBP
Walker, 2B 13 1 1 1 0 2 4 0.077 0.077
McCutchen, A, CF 11 1 1 2 2 4 6 0.091 0.231
Alvarez, 3B 10 0 3 0 1 5 3 0.300 0.364
Snider, RF-LF 10 1 2 1 3 3 2 0.200 0.385
Jones, G, 1B-RF 10 1 2 0 2 4 2 0.200 0.333
Barajas, C 7 1 3 1 0 3 1 0.429 0.429
Tabata, LF 7 2 2 1 1 1 0 0.286 0.375
Barmes, SS 6 0 0 0 0 2 4 0.000 0.000
Harrison, SS 5 0 2 0 0 0 2 0.400 0.400
Sanchez, G, PH-1B 4 0 0 0 0 4 2 0.000 0.000
McKenry, C 3 1 2 2 1 1 2 0.667 0.750
Karstens, P 3 1 1 1 0 1 0 0.333 0.333
Clement, 1B 3 0 0 0 0 2 5 0.000 0.000
Bedard, P 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 0.000 0.000
Rodriguez, W, P 2 0 0 0 0 2 1 0.000 0.000
Mercer, PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.000 0.000
  Totals 97 9 19 9 10 34 36 0.196 0.271

Batting
Doubles (5): Snider (6), Alvarez (19), McKenry (11), Tabata (16), Jones (23)
Home Runs (1): Barajas (9)

Baserunning
CS: Tabata (12), McCutchen (10)

Fielding
Errors: Barmes 2 (13)
DP: (Barmes-Walker-Jones), (Rodriguez-Barajas-Jones), (Alvarez-Walker-Jones) 2, (Walker-Sanchez)

Pitching

Pittsburgh IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA WHIP
Karstens(W, 5-3) 7.0 7 0 0 0 4 0 0.00 1.00
Rodriguez, W(L, 8-13) 6.7 6 3 3 4 3 0 4.05 1.50
Bedard(L, 7-14) 4.7 6 6 6 2 3 2 11.57 1.71
Correia 2.3 4 1 1 1 0 0 3.86 2.14
Hanrahan 2.0 2 0 0 1 1 0 0.00 1.50
Qualls 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.00
Takahashi 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.00
Resop 1.0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0.00 2.00
Grilli(H, 28) 0.7 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.00 0.00
Watson(H, 14) 0.3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.00
Hughes, J 0.3 2 3 3 1 0 0 81.00 9.00
  Totals 27.0 28 13 13 10 12 2 4.33 1.41

Transactions: Activated IF Jordy Mercer from the paternity leave list. Optioned RHP Daniel McCutchen to AAA. Called up 1B Jeff Clement from AAA. Optioned IF/OF Yamaico Navarro to AAA. Claimed LHP Hisanori Takahashi off waivers from Los Angeles Angels. Placed RHP Chad Qualls on the 15-Day disabled list.

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.

Series Preview: The Cardinals

Current record: 65-53, 2nd place in NL Central, 6.0 games back

Up Next: St. Louis Cardinals, 64-54, 3rd place in NL Central, 7.0 games back

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

Notes: The Pirates’ poor play in August has allowed the Cardinals to catch up to them in the races for the division and the Wild Card. Pittsburgh is coming off of its first losing homestand (4-7) of the season. St. Louis’ only trade dealine pick up was RHP Edward Mujica for the bullpen. The Cards feature a great lineup, even with 1B Lance Berkman on the DL. Corner outfielders Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday have been their usual stellar selves while sophomore Allen Craig has been even better at 1B than Berkman.

Familiar Faces: None

Probable Pitchers
Friday: RH James McDonald (10-5, 141.0 IP, 126 K, 3.77 ERA, 1.21 WHIP)
vs. RH Jake Westbrook (12-8, 146.2 IP, 92 K, 3.62 ERA, 1.29 WHIP)

Saturday: LH Erik Bedard (7-12, 116.1 IP, 111 K, 4.56 ERA, 1.42 WHIP)
vs. RH Lance Lynn (13-5, 138.0 IP, 135 K, 3.65 ERA, 1.29 WHIP)

Monday: RH Jeff Karstens (4-3, 69.0 IP, 50 K, 3.91 ERA, 1.20 WHIP)
vs. RH Jaime Garcia (3-4, 66.1 IP, 51 K, 4.48 ERA, 1.46 WHIP)

No lineup yet.

Tonight’s Lineup
Starling Marte LF
Travis Snider RF
Andrew McCutchen CF
Garrett Jones 1B
Michael McKenry C
Pedro Alvarez 3B
Clint Barmes SS
Jordy Mercer 2B
James McDonald P

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