Marlon Byrd Trade Tree

Finally, the Pirates make a move to upgrade their offense, acquiring Marlon Byrd and John Buck from the Mets.

Marlon  Byrd Trade Tree

Byrd is having the best season of his 12 year career and should go to the playoffs for the first time. He slots in at RF and will push Jose Tabata to the bench when Starling Marte is healthy.

I don’t see Tony Sanchez being sent down, so Buck looks like he’ll be a 3rd catcher. His presence will give Clint Hurdle the peace of mind to use Russell Martin or Tony off of the bench when they aren’t starting.

The team hasn’t announced a corresponding roster move and I wouldn’t expect them to before tomorrow. I’d probably send down Pie and a pitcher. You don’t need as many pitchers in the playoffs and they have plenty of DL spots to play with to get whoever they want active.

Game 42 Lineup, Links

I’ve obviously had to cut down on my writing a bunch this season. Job requirements just haven’t left me with much spare time. More accurately, I haven’t wanted to spend the free time I’ve had sitting at the same desk where I work 8+ hours a day. I’m trying to update the standings (to the left <–) and roster (to the right –>) on a daily basis and that will be most of what I do here. Still, this Bucco team has been playing great baseball so far and deserves some praise.

The Pirates go into game 42 with the 5th best record in all of baseball and the 3rd best in the NL. They’re still flying under the radar because 1) the two better teams in the NL are in the same division, leaving the Bucs in third place and 2) the collapses of the last two seasons make people hesitant to believe they can continue the current success.

Here’s a few reasons not to worry and to jump on board with both feet:

The NL Central is the best division in baseball. (108-93, .538 Winning%)
The Pirates are 11-7 vs teams in the Central. (3-0 vs CIN, 3-2 vs STL and 4-3 vs MIL, 1-2 vs CHC)
The Pirates are winning on the road (11-9) as well as at home (13-8).

Still not convinced? Well, that’s very understandable. The Pirates have won more than their share of close game this season. Really good teams usually win more blowouts and are about even in close games.

1 Run games: 4-6
2 Run games: 11-2
3 Run games: 3-1
close games: 18-9

4 Run games: 1-5
5 Run games: 1-0
6 Run games: 2-1
8 Run games: 0-2
9 Run games: 2-0
blowouts: 6-8

My advise to you is to start drinking heavily sit back and enjoy the ride. Baseball is a lot of fun, especially if you don’t take it too seriously. Now go beat the Astros!

Links

Last month I went to a Georgia Tech baseball game with Mike Newman of Rotoscouting.com and Fangraphs. Mike had recently seen the West Virginia Power play and wrote up reports on Stetson Allie and Wyatt Mathisen.

Jason Grilli is striking out batters at previously unimaginable levels.

Russell Martin details pitch framing.

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.

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