Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pittsburgh Pirates Organizational Report- First base

Let's take a look at the first basemen from last season. We saw Adam Laroche struggle again and was finally dealt to Boston. He then resurfaced in the NL with the Braves and ended up having another decent season. Say what you want about the guy but the numbers were consistent year to year.

Pittsburgh Pirates
- Garrett Jones- "The Legend" got the call and took advantage of the opportunity. He hit .293 with 21Hr/44RBI in only 82 games. An OBP of .379 and slugging percentage of .567 also aren't bad numbers for his first go around. He also showed some speed, stealing 10 bags on 12 attempts. His defense was a little shaky but he should be moved to first permanently where he seemed more comfortable.

One concern was his inability to hit with runners on base. That has to improve for him to be a serious middle of the order threat. Having said that though, I feel the 28 year old is here to stay for a while. A very nice surprise to a team that needed someone to step up. 2009 Grade- B

-Steve Pearce- Well, he can't say he didn't get a look anymore. I don't think there is a hitter in the big leagues with less plate discipline than Pearce. he looks completely baffled most of the time. He hit only .206 with 4Hr. Where did the power go? He looks like the classic 4-A player at this point. His good defensively though so it may be worth keeping him as a bench player next season to spell Jones defensively. 2009 Grade- F+ (I'd like to give him a G)

-Jeff Clement- Good acquisition at the deadline. I was a big fan of his at USC. (Yeah i know, I'm one of the few that watch college baseball). He was the third overall pick in the country at one point and has a big power bat. In 27 games at Indy, he hit 7Hr/24 RBI, but only hit .225. he has a problem staying healthy, as he hurt his wrist, right before he would have gotten a September call up. (Sounds like Doumit)

He is the type of hitter that could do well at PNC Park. Problem is that he isn't great defensively and you can't have 2 below average defensive corner guys on the roster. Jones's emergence also creates a problem for Clement's future. He came up a catcher, but I don't think that is an option.

-Miles Durham- Played in 65 games at Lynchburg before getting a promotion to the Curve for the final 65 games. Combined he hit .285 with only 12 Hr/73RBI. Not a big power threat as he hit 18HR in 2008 but the report is he has a decent bat. He was a 22nd rd pick in 2006

-Jamie Romak- Once considered a decent prospect, Romak had an awful season. The other part of the Adam Laroche trade led all Pirates minor leaguers in HR & RBI in 2008, but took a huge step backwards this season, hitting only .191 with 8 Hr/38 RBI. Romak was actually demoted back to the Hillcats from Altoona in the middle of the season and was moved to right field

-Matt Hague- The Bucs ninth round pick in 2008, Hague progressed to Lynchburg in his second season of pro ball. He hit .293, 8HR/50 Rbi in his first season with the Hillcats. The Bucs like Hague a lot and like his bat. They feel the power will come around.

-Kyle Morgan- Hit .296 with 9/32 in 43 games. Stared the season with State College. He was a 36th rd selection in 2008

-Calvin Anderson- A lot more upside for the 6"7 2008 12th rd pick. He spent the whole season at WV and hit .274 12/64. The power slowed down towards the end of the season, but overall they seem happy with Anderson.

-Justin Byler- Back after missing the 2008 season with a broken arm, Byler hit .256 6/41. The 2005 36th round pick really isn't on the radar as a prospect.

-Aaron Baker- Same story for Baker. Didn't do much for the Spikes. .250 hitter that showed no power.

Organizational Depth is actually good at the position. Jones looks to be a keeper and I still think Clement could be the guy eventually. As long as it isn't Pearce then I'm happy. A lot of guys in A & AA worth keeping an eye on. no need to pursue a first baseman in the off season unless they can somehow add a huge bat. Jones can still play right. I have a better chance of hitting the powerball than that happening though.

What should next season look like. Simple. Jones starts 150 games at first. If not, i like the idea of Clement playing half the time at first while Jones is in right field. Similar to what they did with Jones and Pearce during the second half of the season. I actually think that may work. What will they do though? Likely continue the Steve Pearce experiment and shuffle Jones between first and right.

Overall Positional Grade - B

Monday, October 19, 2009

State of MLB- Some Things Will Never Change

First of all, as always, I am enjoying the hell out of the MLB Playoffs. One of my favorite times of the year. However, even though I have enjoyed the Yankees comebacks and watching the Red Sox get swept and watching the Dodgers bullpen, even i have to admit, that it will always be this way. Nine times out of 10, the top dogs will win. The top dogs are the ones who spend the money.

Here’s a list of 2009 team player payrolls: (Numbers are before the season started and don't include payroll additions and in the Pirates case, subtractions)
2009 payroll
New York Yankees
New York Mets
Chicago Cubs
Boston Red Sox
Detroit Tigers
Los Angeles Angels
Philadelphia Phillies
Houston Astros
Los Angeles Dodgers
Seattle Mariners
Atlanta Braves
Chicago White Sox
San Francisco Giants
Cleveland Indians
Toronto Blue Jays
Milwaukee Brewers
St. Louis Cardinals
Colorado Rockies
Cincinnati Reds
Arizona Diamondbacks
Kansas City Royals
Texas Rangers
Baltimore Orioles
Minnesota Twins
Tampa Bay Rays
Oakland Athletics
Washington Nationals
Pittsburgh Pirates
San Diego Padres
Florida Marlins

Baseball's final four is again made up of the rich teams. All four teams still playing are in the top 9 in payroll. Sure, occasionally a team like the Rays can go on an improbable run to the World Series every once in a while, but often the case the big dogs make it.

So what do fans of the Bucs, or the Reds, Marlins, Nationals, etc. hope for? Who should they model them self after? Billy Beane's Oakland A's? Sure they have made some good deals and have made some post-season runs, but last time I checked, they haven't won anything. The Twins? Here is a good model for small market teams. They keep running young arms up to the big leagues. The win by playing Ron Gardenhire ball. the have no problem simply plugging players in for those that they lose and they continue to produce.

Eventually, I could see some similarities between what the Bucs are trying to do and what the Twins have done for the last decade. The difference though between the Bucs (and other small market teams) and the Twins is that the Twins have guys like Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. So no matter the young guys they have to play, they still have two studs in the middle of their lineup. Maybe the Bucs could eventually get to that point with McCutchen, Alvarez, Tabata, etc., but the key to the Twins success is sustaining the pipeline of young talent to the majors. They continue to develop young players.

The most likely scenario for a team like the Bucs is the one the Rays just went through. Stockpile a boatload of young talent and when they are ready, get them to the big leagues all together and hopefully let them learn how to win together. The advantage the Bucs would have over the Rays is that they aren't in the AL East. However, they are still in a division that spends money- Cubs, Cards, Stros.

I still believe, that it can happen, but even I understand how difficult it will be, given baseball's current economic state. What can Bud Selig do to fix things? Salary cap. Although, no way that will ever happen. Union wouldn't let it, and if I'm a team like the Yanks, I don't want a salary cap. I don't hate the fact the Yanks have five times the payroll as the Bucs. It's actually nice to see an owner put the money back into the on field product. Even though 200mil is ridiculous, Yankees fans can never say that their management is not doing everything possible to try and win. I'm not saying the Bucs have to go out and spend 200 mil, but facts are facts and the teams that spend the money necessary to put a real product on the field, generally have the best success.

The one thing I'm truly tired of though is Bud Selig's constant plea of parity in the game. What a crock of shit to feed the fans. Just because the Rays made it to the World Series last year doesn't mean there is parity in the game. Some teams still have zero chance of even competing next season. Some type of balance has to be met. I give Selig some credit. Revenue sharing has worked, but it is up to the teams to put the money back into the on field product. Now the Bucs needed an overhaul of their farm system so I will cut them a break this time around. Soon though, they are going to have to spend to compete. There is still no reason that the Brewers should have nearly double the payroll of the Pirates.

Even though there is reason to get excited about the young talent that is on the way, until the decide to compete with other teams economically, the Pirates are very unlikely to compete with them on the field.

Here is a good article by Joe Starkey to check out as well

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pittsburgh Pirates Organizational Depth- Catchers

Today a look at how the Bucs catchers performed this season and what lies ahead at the position.
Pittsburgh Pirates
-Ryan Doumit- Well he got hurt AGAIN. He proved he is a below average option defensively AGAIN. He never got into a groove offensively and that could be due to the wrist injury. Early on it looked as if he were becoming a leader, by the end of the season he was benched for a couple of games and JR just didn't know what to do with him or where to hit him. He struggled big time batting in the middle of the order, hitting only .250 with 10hr/38rbi. with an on base percentage at only.299 in 75 games played. The lack of power numbers are disturbing. 2009 grade- D
-Jason Jaramillo- Filled in nicely when Doumit was hurt. Solid backup option. Any offense he provides is a bonus. I thought he handled the staff pretty well for his first full season in the big leagues. He hit .252 with 3hr/26rbi in with an obp of .309. in 63 games played. Similar numbers to Doumit. 2009 grade- C
-Robinson Diaz- Showed some pop with the bat, splitting time between the big league club and Indianapolis. Not that bad defensively, despite what the scouting report says. he hit .279 with 1hr/19rbi and a .309 obp in 41 big league games. 2009 grade- C-
-Eric Kratz- Caught 93 games and hit .273 with 11hr. not really a prospect. Shared the job with journeyman Adam Melhuese and Diaz. Just bodies in the organization.
- Hector Gimenez, Milver Reyes, Migue Perez and Steven Lerud combined to catch all the games for the Curve. None hit for average or for power and none appear on any kind of radar except for Lerud, but he would have to improve the .240 average.
Kris Watts had a decent season with the bat, hitting .291, diving in 49. Not so much to be said for Joel Collins or Eric Fryer. Number 1 pick Tony Sanchez (pictured above) played four games for the Hillcats.
-After signing quick, Sanchez earned a quick promotion to the power where he made a quick impact. He hit .316 with 7hr/46rbi in 41games, with a nice obp of .415. Defensively he excelled and many say he is big league ready defensively. Andrew Walker and Josus Peley also caught for the Power but both struggled
Craig Perry and Miguel Mendez pretty much shared the catching duties for the Spikes, both hit under .200 for the season.
2010 Outlook
- I would like to see Doumit dealt, but I don't envision getting much of a return for him. Instead, I see Doumit getting one more look. It's a make or break season for him so hopefully he can stay healthy and find some consistency at the plate. They are fine with the backup catcher, so I really don't see them attempting to sign a catcher.
I expect Sanchez to progress quickly and see him with Altoona at some point this season, if not starting the season there. He is the only catcher in the system worth getting excited about. I don't expect him to see PNC Park though until at least 2001. There really isn't any other depth at the position though throughout the organization.
Organizational Grade- D

Saturday, October 10, 2009

2009 Pittsburgh Pirates Season wrap up

So I haven't had time to write about our beloved Buccos for about a month now for a variety of reasons. I have been very busy with work and the team did nothing exciting for me to write about the last month or so of the season. When I did get the time, I was very furious of how the Miguel Angel Sano situation played out that I couldn't put my words into a PG rated product. Here are a few random thoughts on the season.

- We weren't as bad as the 99 losses indicate. We did some good things this season and went through some streaks that show that this team should be able to compete in time. Flip the coin and we also looked awful at times. I think with the experience, the youngsters will continue to progress and hopefully by 2011 it will result in wins.

- We saw trade after trade after trade. I still stand by everyone of them. The organization is now deeper with talent than at any point in the past. There are a few more guys I think can still be dealt to improve the team, most notably Doumit, Capps and Duke. These guys aren't part of the future. Get something for them. it wasn't only the guys we dealt, but NH did a decent job of finding a gem in Garrett Jones and acquiring Delwyn Young for nothing. stick to the plan Neil, just hurry, please.

- I was very upset that NH didn't lock up Sano. Boy i hope this guy doesn't become a stud. It was a necessary statement to the fan base to lock this guy up. what's more upsetting is that we didn't get outbid by the big boys. The low budgeted Twins sneak in and steal him. No excuse.

_Young talent continues to show up. We saw McCutchen make an immediate impact. He is a stud. Jones looks to not be a flash in the pan. In addition, we saw some good things from Andy Laroche, Young, Ronny Cedeno, and pitchens Daniel McCutchen, Ross Ohlendorf, Charlie Morton, Jessie Chavez and Evan Meek. We do have some talent, what we need is an impact player or two.

-The guys in the minors that will be the future of the franchise are all performing well. Led by Pedro Alvarez, Brad Lincoln and Jose Tabata, these guys are all performing. That has to be the best sign of all.

-The main problem is consistency. The young guys haven't maintained it. They can't play well on the road. They aren't disciplined enough to keep the same approach from at bat to at bat, but it will come. The vets that should be reliable just aren't. most of them are long gone, but some remain. It takes all 25 guys playing well all of the time to have sustained success in this league.

Just a few thoughts to get writing again. Check back in a couple of days for an organizational view and 2009 grades at each position. On Monday it will be the catchers and I know how much you guys like bashing Ryan Doumit.