The Pirates at the All Star Break

 

Greetings from the All Star break.

Sitting in 4th place in a throughly disappointing division the Pirates currently have a 42-47 record.  What started as a promising season was quickly derailed through injury, suspension, and visa issues with the Korean government.  Now the Buccos must look to shape their roster for the future, with the goal of getting a head start on competing in the 2018 season.

Their first opportunity will be the upcoming trade deadline.

At the heart of the trade discussion is face of the franchise Andrew McCutchen, in his 9th major league season, heating up after a harsh start to 2017.

The truth is it is impossible to say whether or not trading Cutch is a good or bad decision without knowing who the Pirates would get in return, making the definite opinions of fellow Pirates fans be it pro or con fairly ridiculous.

To keep McCutchen is to have your veteran leader in tact for the 2018 run, it is to keep a wary fan base appeased, it is to finally shed the small market malaise and commit to paying an icon.

The Pirates can pick up McCutchen’s $14.75 million option and have him in place for the upcoming season, allowing them the time to secure Cutch for the remainder of his career on a team friendly contract.  While his best years are behind him, he still provides value. His WAR his plateaued to 2+ and while that is nowhere near the 7+ level he enjoyed in the five-year span in which he was an all-star and the 4 years in which he was a top 5 vote getter for the NL MVP it is still a solid output.

While I am not one who believes the Pirates should pay for either sentimentalism nor past performance if there ever was a scenario in which it was appropriate I would have to believe this to be it.

The counterpoint to keeping Cutch is much more based on performance and efficiency.  The fact is that he is past his prime and the Pirates cannot be weighed down by his contract as they try to shape a second run to the World Series in the Huntington era.  In short it makes total sense to trade McCutchen.  Except this one little thing… there is really no one to trade him to.

The team most often mentioned is the Washington Nationals who showed strong interest in McCutchen over the past winter meetings.  However, in trading for Adam Eaton the Nats sent most of their valuable assets to the White Sox.  They also mostly eliminated their long-term need in center field.

So instead lets look at the Dodgers, the ever spending fountain of cash and prospects that currently reside atop the ultra competitive NL West.  During the winter meetings the Dodgers were reported to be willing to include prospects Cody Bellinger or Jose de Leon in a package for McCutchen.  Looking back having Bellinger on the team would give the Pirates a power bat in the outfield for the upcoming decade.  Given his early career success it is all too likely that Bellinger is a no go in any deal for McCutchen.

However McCutchen’s ability to improve on the Dodgers main offensive weakness, their inability to hit lefties, makes him valuable.  If the Pirates could land some pitching prospects and a bench outfielder maybe this would be worth looking at.

As for other teams the Yankees seem like a fit, but what would they be willing to give away being that they are technically in a rebuilding year?

The Rangers showed interest but said on the record that the Pirate asking price was far too high.

So where should we look?  Perhaps the best fit is the Seattle Mariners.  Fighting for a wild card spot perhaps Seattle would be willing to lose some prospects for a chance to go at it this year and deepen their outfield greatly with McCutchen.

Lets just say they were to offer RHP Andrew Moore (#4 ranked prospect), Millersville product Brandon Miller RHP (#16 ranked prospect), and Outfielder Boog Powell (4th outfielder).  Would that do it?

So what would I do with Cutch in the end?  

If you can’t find a package of pitchers than I would highly suggest keeping him for next year.  Of course seeing him go for nothing brings back memories of the Barry Bonds departure that shipwrecked the Buccos for two decades.  However times have changed, and making a solid run in 2018 may be worth the possibility that Cutch walks for nothing.

What about Gerrit Cole?

I’ll make it short, the Pirates aren’t going to trade Cole in season.  Expect that move to come in December.

So if the Buccos are to keep Cutch what should they do at the deadline?

First off:  David Freese, Juan Nicasio, and Tony Watson all have value and no place in our future.  All three should go for pieces that can be of value next season.

David Freese to the Red Sox has been widely reported and makes total sense.  If the Sox strike out on a top tier third baseman (Todd Frazier) Freese is a quality get.  While some seem to believe this trade should net an undervalued prospect I feel as if this should bring back a piece for next year’s bench.

Also, if any team would give you anything for Jaso send him.  He may be the best bass player from a third wave ska band to play in the majors, but he is simply in the way.  Also removing him from the equation means that ol’ Clint Hurdle will start going with young guys at the end of the game to give them experience rather than letting old dread juice eat up valuable late game at bats.

 

What the Pirates need in return:

A leadoff hitter, an outfielder, PITCHING.

They may not be able to get what the need with what they are willing to give, but clearing the way and getting rid of dead weight could go far towards being successful next season.

Some thoughts from my dad:

Charlie B thinks that the Pirates should use the Arizona Fall League and Spring Training to turn Jose Osuna into a third baseman.

I think that Osuna is definitely a pretty solid weapon off the bench, however his defense is less than ass.  Also, I feel as if he may be completely unable to slide.  This makes me think that he cannot bend over to be a real third baseman.

However, if he can field the position at least near average it would give Osuna even more value.  It seems clear that Osuna has earned himself a spot on the Buccos, just not at first, his real position.  Maybe third base is a step in the correct decision.

Is anyone untouchable?

In reality anyone can be traded if the price is right.  Looking at the current roster it seems that there are very few people who can be labeled “untouchable.”  McCutchen is being actively shopped.  Marte is perhaps our best position player, but has seen his value drop dramatically due to his PED suspension.  Cole is never going to resign long-term given his agent and as good as Taillon is his injury past would make it hard to turn down a solid package.

That leaves just one player:  Josh Bell

bell

Switch hitting power bats don’t come along as often as one would think and the Pirates have seemed to land their first baseman of the future.  This is a team that may not have had a real first baseman since Willie Stargell.  Three decades of the Adam LaRoches, Brad Eldreds, and Daryle Wards of the world.

It is entirely possible that Kevin Young’s steroid years where the best by a Pirate at first base since pops left.  It has most definitely been a problematic position.

So why would you trade the first real deal in a lifetime?  Once again there is a price for everyone.  I just feel as if it would have to be ridiculously high to get the Buccos to part ways with Bell.

 

 

 

1960 World Series Game 7: Pittsburgh Pirates vs. New York Yankees

It’s the moment I grew up hearing about, but never saw, other than the last little clip of Yogi Berra watching Maz’s homer going over the left field wall.  MLB network showed the Kinescope of the broadcast that was made for Bing Crosby, part owner of the Pirates, a few years ago and I do not have the rights to show it, but let’s be honest, absolutely no money is made off of this website, it is only lost, so lets just play it cool and sit back and watch Game Seven of the 1960 World Series.

 

The Moment I Realized That Gerrit Cole Is A Bad Mother Fucker

Which one is it?
It’s the one that says bad motherfucker…

I was at work in Brooklyn watching the Pirates game on a laptop via MLB.TV.  Carlos Gomez hit a long ball to center off of Gerrit Cole and flipped his bat.  He ran slowly at first like he had hit a home run in that obnoxious way that he does.  As he came into third Cole has some words for him and then Gomez flips his shit and Gerrit Cole turns into Jules Winnfield’s wallet.

cole

It was the moment I realized that Gerrit Cole was a bad motherfucker.  If you’ve never seen it, or you would like to view it again here it is in all of its glory.

The look on Cole’s face says it all. He’s not taking it from that sack of shit Carlos Gomez.  He’s a bad, bad man.

With Cole it’s not just the arsenal of pitches, or his complete command, its something much more than that.  Gerrit Cole is a bad mother fucker at a time when baseball needs as many as it can get.

Proud Again: The Story of the 1988 Pittsburgh Pirates

Here is a documentary about the 88 Pirates who were the first team to show off the basis of what would be the Bonds era Buccos. Split up into parts here they are piece by piece all though they may continue on their own from the first clip if you go to full screen mode.

The Game: 2013 NL Wild Card Game: Pirates vs. Reds

Where were you when Johnny Cueto dropped the ball?  Where were you when that fan almost blew it for us?

This game, more than any Pirate game I can remember, reaffirmed my faith and gave me a reassurance that I had done the correct thing by sticking with the team throughout their 20 year losing streak.   I remember watching the game at Spencer’s in Park Slope because I had no television or way to watch it at the time.  I walked down there and started at the bar on 5th that serves cheap drinks.  I watched the pregame there.  I was so nervous.  I felt like I was going ot have a heart attack.  The stress that I had felt during Penguins and Steelers playoff runs was nothing compared to this.  I knew I was about to watch history.  It was the realization of a day I had hoped for well over a decade. I always wanted to watch the Pirates in the playoffs as an adult.  Now I could.  So, here we go: The Game.

That time the Pirates made no sense

It started when I noticed that Sean Rodriguez was playing in right field and Corey Hart was playing first.  It continued when they allowed Gerrit Cole to pinch bunt in the 5th only to have him fake bunt/take a swing for a second strike and then bunt again to strike out.  Putting in Radhames Liz, sticking with Mark Melancon in a tight spot all though he has been a disaster all season.  It took many, many horrible decisions for the Pirates to lose 9-8 in the first game of the Russell-Bryant era.

The Pirates, well, that was shit.  It’s a long season.  It will work itself out.   They are simply trying to get too cute.  However tonight’s heartbreaker only shined a brighter light on some of the flaws in the Pirates roster that have popped up early this season:  most notably the bullpen and their defense.

All though the Pirates faults were many, tonight was really about something else.  The Cubs are very, very good and they will be for a long, long time.  Addison Russell wasn’t Barry Larkin, but he looked like a solid big league player and not everyone gets off to the start the Kris Bryant does.  Kris Bryant is the real story.

bryant

The ball comes off Kris Bryant’s bat in a way I have never really seen.  As a child I remember seeing highlights of Bo Jackson hitting and thinking no one hits like that.  Honestly, I probably never saw anyone hit like that until Kris Bryant.  He is amazing.  It’s honestly on the borderline of unbelievable.  The ball jumps off his bat and he can control where it goes.  Along with his piercing blue Hitler eyes I have to imagine the next decade will be his.  He’s not Mike Trout.  He’s not Cutch.  He’s something completely different.  We will compare future players to Bryant and I am pleased that I got to see his debut.

As for the Pirates, it’s a long season.  It’s going to be a good one.  Minor tweaks.  Small changes.  Less nonsense decisions.  That is all it will take.

The Top 5 Things I Noticed From the Pirates Season Opener

The Pirates opened their season in Cincinnati today with a 5-2 loss, allowing 3 runs to be scored in the 8th after having the game tied 2-2.  Tony Watson picks up the loss after a poor inning of relief after taking the mound for Francisco Liriano who lasted 7 innings and had 7 strikeouts.  Andrew McCutchen led the Pirates with 2 hits and 2 rbi’s which came on an 8th inning home run off of Reds reliever Kevin Gregg.  Aroldis Chapman was dominant in relief. The Pirates will resume the series on Wednesday with Gerrit Cole taking the mound.

 

The game was solid enough and the Pirates didn’t look outmatched, but there were a few things i noticed that give me pause.  There were also a few things I noticed that calmed a few of my preseason fears.  Put them together and what do you have?

 

The top 5 things I noticed from the season opener.

 

Jordy Mercer has the body language of a man who is going to lose his job in the next month or so —

I’m not claiming to have studied with Dr. Bill Simmons, but you can just see it in Mercer and it was the most noticeable item ofjordy the day for me.  Mercer looks as if he knows his time is up as the starter given Kang’s spring and he is overwhelmed by what it would take to hold Kang off.  I started noticing it when he almost got taken out by Starling Marte in the rain towards the beginning of the game.  He looked like he had no clue what was going on and more than that he didn’t recover.  He didn’t crack a joke, he didn’t yell, there was little communication.  He just looked at everyone as if he was an outsider looking in.

 

Mercer is a solid player and I hope he has a great season, but I feel as if he is a starter or bust kind of player.  As in if he gets the reps and at bats he could be a solid major league starting shortstop, but give some of those at bats to Kang and I don’t think Mercer becomes an elite bench player.  I think he becomes another teams shortstop.

 

Andrew Lambo earned my respect with his pinch hit at bat —

 

I’ll be honest.  I am biased.  It hurts me to watch Andrew Lambo.  He has AAAA player written all over him and I was slightly confused as to why the Pirates chose to break camp with him.  However in his pinch hit at bat he took Kevin Gregg for a ride and got him to throw double digit pitches.  He kept finding a way to get the foul tip and the one he got a hold of was only a little bit foul.  Sure, in the end, he was out.  Without his at bat though I find it unlikely Cutch gets his homer.  Gregg had shown all his cards in the first at bat.  Andrew Lambo will never be a starter for the Pirates, but if he can repeat tonight’s performance on a regular basis he will have a spot on the roster for the rest of the season.

  Continue reading The Top 5 Things I Noticed From the Pirates Season Opener

2014 National League Wild Card Game — Pirates vs. Giants

I watched a majority of this game at Shananigan’s in Windsor Terrace, drinking beers with three other dudes there to watch the game and hoping, just hoping that Bumgarner would cool off if only for an inning. This was one of those games that I will always remember because it is one of the few events in Pittsburgh sports history where I felt helpless, because I could see our team was helpless. They were being shut down by Madison Bumgarner and the Pirates had nothing they could do about it.

As the Pirates run at the championship continues 2014 is likely the last season where fans can just be happy to be in the playoffs. From here on out it’s championship time. If this administration is going to win a World Series it probably has to be in the next year or two. This game is kind of a mile marker on a highway of success that shows the exact point when expectations changed.