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.

September Call Ups

Now that the rosters have expanded, the Pirates called up the following players:

Eric Fryer, C
Fryer will serve as the 3rd catcher, allowing Michael McKenry or Rod Barajas to pinch hit on the days they don’t start.

Justin Wilson, LHP
Wilson has been great as a starter in the minors but will serve as an additional lefty arm out of the bullpen.

Jeff Locke, LHP
Locke will take over for Erik Bedard in the starting rotation. Management wants to get a good look at him so he will presumably stay there for the rest of the regular season.

Chris Leroux, RHP
Leroux can start or relieve and will be an extra long man out of the pen.

Brock Holt, SS
Holt has been killing the ball to the tune of .344/.406/.453 at AA and AAA this year after a down year last season at Altoona. He might see some time at 2B while Neil Walker is hurt.

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.

Reds Wrap Up

Scores:
Friday: 3-0 Loss at Cincinnati. Wandy not bad, no support. Box score.
Saturday: 5-4 Loss at Cincinnati. Bucs battle back twice, lose late. Box score.
Sunday: 6-2 Win at Cincinnati. A.J. is the stopper. Box score.

Season Record: 61-46, 2nd place in NL Central, 4.5 games back

Notes: Losing two out of three is not the outcome the Bucs were looking for, but not a disaster either. Wandy Rodriguez, James McDonald and A.J. Burnett each turned in quality starts, with A.J.’s being the best by far. Gaby Sanchez had his first two hits as a Pirate; part of a 15 hit assault Sunday. Josh Harrison made the most of two spot starts by going 4 for 8 including a homer. The Fort continued his hot streak with a pinch hit on Friday and a homer Saturday.

Combined Box

Pittsburgh AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG OBP
Jones, G, 1B, RF 13 2 4 0 0 5 8 0.308 0.308
McCutchen, A, CF 11 1 2 1 1 4 4 0.182 0.308
Marte, S, LF 10 0 2 2 0 3 2 0.200 0.273
Walker, 2B 9 2 3 3 2 2 3 0.333 0.417
Harrison, SS, 3B 8 1 4 1 0 0 2 0.500 0.556
Barmes, SS 7 1 2 0 0 3 8 0.286 0.286
Sanchez, G, 1B 7 1 2 0 0 1 5 0.286 0.286
Alvarez, 3B 7 0 1 0 0 3 2 0.143 0.143
Barajas, C 6 0 1 0 1 0 3 0.167 0.375
Snider, RF 6 0 0 1 1 1 0 0.000 0.125
McKenry, C 5 1 3 1 0 1 2 0.600 0.600
Presley, LF 4 1 2 0 0 1 0 0.500 0.500
Burnett, AJ, P 4 0 0 0 0 3 3 0.000 0.000
Rodriguez, W, P 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0.500 0.500
McDonald, J, P 2 0 0 0 0 1 1 0.000 0.000
  Totals 101 10 27 9 5 28 43 0.267 0.321

Batting
Doubles (1): Jones (17)
Triples (2): Presley (4), Marte (1)
Home Runs (4): McKenry (11), Harrison (3), Walker (12), McCutchen (23)

Baserunning
SB: Snider (1)
CS: McCutchen (8)

Fielding
Errors: Alvarez (16)
DP: (Walker-Jones)

Pitching

Pittsburgh IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA WHIP
Burnett, AJ(W, 14-3) 8.7 3 2 2 3 7 1 2.08 0.69
Rodriguez, W(L, 7-10) 7.0 7 3 3 0 4 2 3.86 1.00
McDonald, J 6.0 7 4 3 1 7 0 4.50 1.33
Hughes, J(L, 2-1) 2.0 2 1 1 1 0 0 4.50 1.50
Qualls 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.00 0.00
Hanrahan(S, 32) 0.3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.00
  Totals 25.0 19 10 9 5 19 3 3.24 0.96

Transactions: None.

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.

Phillies Wrap Up

Scores:
Monday: 8-3 Loss at Philadelphia. Nothing worked. Box score.
Tuesday: 5-4 Loss at Philadelphia. There were chances to win this one. Box score.
Wednesday: 11-7 Win at Philadelphia. The bats save a win. Box score.
Thursday: 5-4 Win at Philadelphia. Score 5 early, hang on late. Box score.

Season Record: 40-35, 2nd place in NL Central, 1.0 game back

Notes: Rough, rough series. The Pirates didn’t play very well at all and still came away with a split on the road. Michael McKenry stepped up in a huge way. The Fort caught all 33 innings after Rod Barajas was injured in the first game while going 8 for 14 with a double and two homers. Drew Sutton made a good first impression by going 4 for 8. Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez continued to rake, with Neil Walker joining in too. In fact, the only player who had a bad offensive series was Clint Barmes, to noone’s surprise. Apart from Brad Lincoln and Joel Hanrahan the pitching was pretty bad. As my grandfather used to say, they gave up a lot of “crooked numbers.”

Combined Box

Pittsburgh AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG OBP
McCutchen, A, CF 18 3 5 3 0 5 9 0.278 0.278
Alvarez, 3B 16 2 4 1 1 8 9 0.250 0.294
Walker, 2B 15 5 5 1 3 3 11 0.333 0.444
McKenry, C 14 2 8 6 2 3 2 0.571 0.625
Tabata, RF 13 3 3 2 0 4 4 0.231 0.231
Barmes, SS 13 1 1 1 1 4 10 0.077 0.143
McGehee, 1B 12 2 3 5 2 0 8 0.250 0.357
Sutton, LF, PH 8 3 4 2 2 1 1 0.500 0.600
Jones, G, RF,1B 5 1 2 1 2 1 4 0.400 0.571
Harrison, PH-RF, SS 5 0 1 0 0 0 3 0.200 0.200
Presley, PH-LF 5 1 0 0 3 1 0 0.000 0.375
McDonald, J, P 3 0 1 1 0 1 2 0.333 0.333
Burnett, AJ, P 3 0 0 0 0 1 1 0.000 0.000
Karstens, P 2 0 0 0 0 2 2 0.000 0.000
Hague, PH 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0.000 0.000
Bedard, P 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.000 0.000
Barajas, C 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 —- —-
  Totals 134 23 37 23 16 35 67 0.276 0.353

Batting
Doubles (8): Walker 2 (14), Alvarez (13), McKenry (4), McCutchen 2 (15), Sutton (6), Jones (10)
Home Runs (7): Tabata (3), McKenry 2 (5), McGehee 2 (5), McCutchen (14), Alvarez (14)

BaseRunning
CS: McGehee (1), Harrison (3)
PO: Harrison

Fielding
Errors: Alvarez 2 (13), Tabata 2 (3), Barmes (9), Jones (2)
Double Plays: (Barmes-Walker-McGehee)

Pitching

Pittsburgh IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA WHIP
Burnett, AJ(W, 9-2) 5.7 6 3 3 2 7 1 4.76 1.41
Bedard(L, 4-8) 6.0 8 4 4 2 3 1 6.00 1.67
McDonald, J(W, 7-3) 5.7 6 4 4 2 3 2 6.35 1.41
Karstens(L, 0-2) 5.0 11 7 6 0 4 1 10.80 2.20
Hanrahan(S, 20) 2.0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0.00 1.00
Grilli(H, 18) 2.0 2 1 1 0 3 1 4.50 1.00
Slaten 2.0 1 1 1 3 3 0 4.50 2.00
Hughes, J 1.3 1 2 1 1 1 0 6.75 1.50
Cruz, J(H, 13) 1.3 2 1 1 2 1 1 6.75 3.00
Lincoln(H, 1) 1.0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0.00 0.00
Watson 1.0 3 1 1 0 1 0 9.00 3.00
  Totals 33.0 41 24 22 13 29 7 6.00 1.64

Transactions: Activated RHP Jeff Karstens from the 15-day DL. Optioned RHP Bryan Morris to AAA. Activated IF Drew Sutton. Called up C Eric Fryer from AAA. Optioned 1B Matt Hague to AAA. Designated LHP Daniel Moskos for assignment. Traded RHP Shairon Martis to Minnesota. Claimed 2B Oscar Tejeda of waivers from Boston and optioned him to AA. Designated LHP Doug Slaten for assignment.

Yet More Moves.

The last few days have been busy for transactions. Drew Sutton has joined the team as expected and Doug Slaten has been optioned to AAA.

Now the tricky part. Rod Barajas bruised his knee bone in the first inning last night. He’s not going on the DL, but apparently management doesn’t want to have Michael McKenry as the only healthy catcher on the active roster even for one game. Eric Fryer has been called up and Matt Hague gets optioned to AAA to make space. Fryer was not on the 40 man roster so one more move will need to be made before tonight’s game. I’ll update this post with that information later and add links.

Update: Daniel Moskos has been designated for assignment to open up a 40-man roster spot. If he clears waivers he’ll stay at AAA.

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