Bucs Bits: Pirates News & Notes 2/3/15


– Earlier this evening, the Pirates acquired Steve Lombardozzi from the Baltimore Orioles for cash [Press Release]. This is unrelated to last week’s Travis Snider trade; Lombardozzi is not the player to be named later.

Updated Pirates Offseason Tracker

The son of a former big league second baseman of the same name, Lombardozzi has now been traded three times since last winter. He was part of the Tigers-Nationals trade that sent Doug Fister to Washington and himself, Ian Krol, and Robbie Ray to Detroit in December. The Tigers then flipped him to Baltimore last March for veteran Alex Gonzalez when they were desperate for a shortstop. Lombardozzi only played 20 games in the majors last season, recording 74 plate appearances. He spent most of the year in Triple-A Norfolk, where he hit .270/.307/.311.

Now 26 years old, Lombo can play second, third, short, or even left field. He’s consistently hit for average, but refuses to walk and carries little power. He’s nothing more than depth at this point; however, his versatility could be useful later. Lombardozzi isn’t on the 40-man, but has been invited to MLB spring training.

You might remember him having a big game against the Pirates in July of 2013 — he went 3-for-5 with two doubles and made this spectacular play in a crazy 9-7 Nats win:


– If anything, the Lombardozzi trade could be related to this: Jake Elmore — DFA’d when the Pirates signed Jung-Ho Kang — elected free agency on Monday, rather than accepting his outright assignment to Indy. Though they’ve lost him, they get the same kind of depth in Lombardozzi about 24 hours later: “meh” hitter, versatile infield defender, probably won’t matter anyway.

– A couple of former Bucs pitchers signed minor league deals the last couple days: Paul Maholm with the Reds; John Axford with the Rockies.

– Buster Olney on the Pirates, via Bucs Dugout:

"The franchise just gets better and better, from anchor Andrew McCutchen all the way through the depth of its 40-man roster, and more and more the Pirates are viewed within the sport as a club with a culture of success. Pittsburgh is a place where pitchers turn around their careers, where there is a next-level employment of defensive metrics, where you go to find a manager, such as Jeff Banister (hired by the Rangers). Other teams are trying to emulate what they do."

Well, file that under “things I thought I’d never hear.”

– If you saw our post on the Pirates’ 2015 Free Shirt Fridays, you’ll remember that there are a few to be decided by fan vote. The poll is now open at pirates.com, and you can cast your vote for one of these seven designs:

free shirt vote

Pitchers & Catchers Report: 14+ days

First Grapefruit League Game: 27+ days

Opening Day: 61+ days

Our annual Opening Day countdown/player preview posts (“In … Days”) will begin on Friday…

Go Bucs

Bucs Bits: Pirates News & Notes 1/9/15

Well, pitchers & catchers report to Bradenton in 40 days… Here are some Bucco notes to hold us over.

– Jung-Ho Kang is coming… As the January 20th deadline approaches, the Pirates are “close to a pact” with the 27-year-old Korean infielder, according to Jon Heyman.

[quote_simple]Kang had been thought to be seeking a four-year for about $5 million a year, and it appears the Pirates are amenable to the length of the deal as their interest is strong. They are also committed to the $5,002,015 bid fee already, presuming the deal gets done.

Kang’s agent Alan Nero recently told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “At this point, I feel confident we’ll come to an agreement. The process has been very positive.” [/quote_simple]

He could be a Pittsburgh Pirate at some point in the next week:

There are still a lot of question marks here, especially figuring out exactly where Kang fits. But it seems to be a good thing for now, if only for the fact that it can greatly improve the bottom of the team’s roster. A bench consisting of Kang, Corey Hart (1B), Sean Rodriguez (everywhere), Travis Snider (OF), and Chris Stewart (C) — to go along with an already solid lineup — sounds pretty good.

– Dejan Kovacevic has a nice bit in his Friday Insider about the transformation of the Pirates’ front office…

[quote_simple]“The change between then (2012) and now … it’s just amazing,” one U.S.-based scout was telling me Thursday. “You had battles between departments, people looking out for themselves, everyone heading their own way … it’s just not like that now. Now … you can just feel it … scouting and development are together, the way we analyze and evaluate and discuss things … everything’s out in the open. It’s been just a tremendous environment.”[/quote_simple]

– The Pirates signed two pitchers to minor league deals today with invites to spring training: Wilfredo Boscan (RHP) and Charlie Leesman (LHP).

– The team also invited a handful of their prospects to big league camp: Tyler Glasnow, Adrian Sampson, Stetson Allie, Mel Rojas Jr., Gift Ngoepe, and Keon Broxton.

– There were rumblings about this a few weeks ago, but Gaby Sanchez is officially playing in Japan this season. He’ll earn $2.5 million with the Rakuten Eagles.

– Speaking of 2014 Bucs no longer with the club, Jon Heyman says “things heating up” for free agent John Axford.

– In case you missed it, here’s how some of the Pittsburgh writers voted for the Hall of Fame.

87 days until Opening Day…

Go Bucs

How Pittsburgh writers voted for the Hall of Fame

There hasn’t been a whole lot to post about recently, as the Bucs have been pretty silent since winning the bid on Jung-Ho Kang. (Speaking of which, Kang’s agent, Alen Nero, is confident they will come to an agreement with the Pirates before the January 20th deadline.)

The big MLB news this week was the announcement of this year’s Hall of Fame inductees: Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, John Smoltz, and Craig Biggio.

Among the various flaws within the voting process, the private voting system remains a big issue. All of the ballots should be public, and all of these writers within the Baseball Writers’ Association of America should be plenty capable of explaining their choices. There are many writers hiding behind private ballots, like the one who voted for Darin Erstad or two who voted for Aaron Boone and couldn’t bother to explain these odd choices. And there’s a huge disparity between percentages in public and private ballots (notably Raines, Schilling, Smith, Mussina)…


While the system probably won’t change any time soon, kudos to the writers who do decide to reveal their choices in this important process. And since we read the Pittsburgh guys every day, here’s how this town’s chapter of the BBWAA voted in 2015 (might have to scroll around a bit on mobile)…

Biertempfel Kovacevic Perrotto Singer Rutter
Jeff Bagwell 1 1 1 1
Craig Biggio 1 1 1 1 1
Barry Bonds 1 1 1
Roger Clemens 1 1 1
Randy Johnson 1 1 1 1 1
Jeff Kent 1
Edgar Martinez 1
Pedro Martinez 1 1 1 1 1
Mike Mussina 1 1
Mike Piazza 1 1 1 1
Tim Raines 1 1
Curt Schilling 1 1
Gary Sheffield 1 1
Lee Smith 1 1
John Smoltz 1 1 1
Larry Walker 1
Total 7 9 10 10 9

The Post-Gazette’s Bob Smizik and Gene Collier also had votes, but haven’t revealed their ballots (yet) like they did last year. If there are any other Pittsburgh ballots floating around, let us know.

And some explanations from those above…

Rob Biertempfel, who once again didn’t reach the maximum of 10 votes:


“…we continue to use the 10-player ballot. I’m fine with that. … If the ballot eventually is expanded to 12 or 15 or infinity, well, I’d be OK with that too … but I’d likely continue to keep my tally in single digits…

The two toughest calls were for players I eventually left off my ballot: Mike Piazza and Tim Raines. Piazza was perhaps the greatest offensive catcher ever, but his case for the Hall of hurt by his defensive shortcomings and admitted use of androstenedione. Raines was among the finest leadoff batters of all time, but his career was marred by admitted cocaine use.”


Dejan Kovacevic, who had a ballot for the first time:


“It’s an honor, a privilege and, above all, a duty to have a Hall ballot. These choices were made with careful consideration of individual achievements, historical precedent and, of course, the directives put forth by the Hall. And to the latter, because Major League Baseball has shamefully passed the buck on passing judgment on ‘integrity’ and ‘character’ to those of us in the BBWAA, I’ll happily play my part in never voting for the clear steroids cheaters. If and when MLB ever decides to come out from under the desk to clean up its own ballot and alter the directives, I’ll adjust, too. Not until then.”


Tom Singer of MLB.com:


“For the first time in my recollection, I made all 10 available checkmarks, retiring from the PED Police. Beyond the no-brainers (Biggio, Johnson, Pedro), I’ve made my last about-face on Bonds: He was a Hall of Fame player before he became a Hall of Fame lightning rod. Clemens pitched 24 seasons and had a losing record in one of them. Kent and Piazza get the best-at-their-position votes. Edgar and Smith put their specialties on the map. Biggio scored 1,566 runs from 1991-2005 — and was driven in on 370 of them by fellow Killer B, Bagwell.”


Joe Rutter, now associate editor at the Trib:


“Last year, I broke form and voted for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.
This year, I added another holdover candidate to my ballot: Tim Raines.
With previous years’ Hall of Fame discussions centering on Steroid Era players and “who used” and “who didn’t use,” I think Raines — and, specifically, the element of speed he brought to the game — was overlooked. I was as guilty about that as others.
Now, with baseball evolving back to the game of my youth — pitching, defense, an increased emphasis on base running and speed — I think it’s time for Raines to get the recognition he deserves. Raines’ 808 steals rank eighth all time. He led the NL four consecutive seasons. But he wasn’t a one-dimensional Billy Hamilton-type player. He had a four-season stretch of batting .309, .320, .334 and .330. That .334 average was enough to bring Raines his only batting title and came in his sixth of seven consecutive seasons as an NL All-Star with the Expos.”


John Perrotto‘s is behind the Beaver County Times’ pay wall.

Nothing too objectionable from these guys, although they each had a unique ballot. All five voted for Pedro, Johnson and Biggio, but Perrotto and Singer didn’t vote for Smoltz. DK had a solid ballot if you’re not going the steroid route. Rutter’s might be the best overall, even if he didn’t use his final vote.

From a Pirate standpoint, Bonds remains on the outside looking in; Brian Giles and Jason Schmidt received 0 votes and are off the ballot.

Hopefully some actual baseball stuff soon. Pitchers & catchers report in 40 days…

Go Bucs

Pirates’ Winter Meetings News & Rumors: Day 4

A small bit of Pirate stuff from the fourth and final day of this year’s Winter Meetings…

– The annual Rule 5 draft basically marks the end of the meetings, and that took place this morning. As expected, the Pirates passed on everyone in the major league portion. No sense in trying to keep a marginal player on the roster the whole year.

They did lose LHP Andy Oliver to the Phillies, however. The Bucs got Oliver, 27, from the Tigers at the Winter Meetings two years ago, but he never got a chance in the bigs due to some awful command. He posted a 4.05 ERA out of Indianapolis’ bullpen in 2013 while walking 8.1 batters per nine innings; he had better results this year (2.53 ERA) but still struggled with the strike zone (6.6 BB/9). Oliver does strike a lot of guys out, but obviously the Pirates never gave him a chance and didn’t feel the need to protect him from the Rule 5. Maybe he’ll figure things out with the Phillies.

They didn’t take anyone in the minor league portion of the draft either, but lost two players: Luis Urena (a converted pitcher) to the Tampa Bay Rays and Tyler Waldron (also a RHP) to the St. Louis Cardinals.

– Things are quieting down on the rumor mill, but Pedro Alvarez might be on the Marlins’ list of first base targets. John Perrotto wrote a few days ago that Alvarez would be available in trades, add that an Alvarez for Nathan Eovaldi trade was shot down by Miami. Tom Singer tweeted today that the teams could “renew Alvarez-Eovaldi talks,” but that seemed too good to be true. Bill Brink basically said there’s no chance it happens.

Eovaldi is a 24-year-old flamethrower who tossed 199.2 innings for the Marlins in 2014. His fastball averaged 95.7 mph, fourth-best in the bigs, just ahead of Gerrit Cole‘s 95.5. Eovaldi has three years of control remaining vs. Pedro’s two.

Once again, Alvarez’s trade value is low right now after the year he just had. He’s a streaky hitter at best, strikes out a ton, can’t touch a left-handed pitcher, forgot how to throw and now has to play an unfamiliar position — who knows which Pedro will show up in 2015. Sorry, I don’t think he’s going to fetch a young, controllable pitcher like Eovaldi.

Brandon McCarthy signed with the Dodgers last night for four years, $48 million. He was a good target for the Pirates, and they were one of the teams that pursued him. I doubt they would’ve gone four years on him… all in all, they definitely did a good job of bringing back Francisco Liriano for similar money on three years.

– A couple moves out of Cincinnati: the Reds traded both Alfredo Simon (Tigers) and Mat Latos (Marlins) for prospects today, taking two arms out of their starting rotation.

– As we said yesterday, the Pirates will be unveiling a new alternate jersey on Saturday. There was an all-gold jersey floating around Twitter this morning, which was a fake. However, the guys over at SportsLogos.net have already seen the new threads — they won’t leak anything, but are saying the actual alternate is worse than the fake one on Twitter. Yikes.

The Pirates have some camo items on their promotional schedule, and SportsLogos.net sort of alluded to it… so they might be camo. Meh. For what it’s worth, the black alternate jersey and Sunday throwbacks are apparently staying in the mix. Guess we’ll find out on Saturday.

PirateFest on Saturday and Sunday.

Depth Chart & Winter Meetings Primer
Winter Meetings Day 1
Winter Meetings Day 2
Winter Meetings Day 3

Go Bucs

Pirates’ Winter Meetings News & Rumors: Day 3

Some notes from the third day of baseball’s Winter Meetings…

Yesterday, it was reported that the Pirates were scouring the trade market for potential left-handed relievers. Tonight, they have their guy: Antonio Bastardo. They acquired him from Philadelphia in exchange for LHP prospect Joely Rodriguez.

The Bucs were interested in acquiring Bastardo (and A.J. Burnett) this summer, so obviously they kept tabs on those guys. Bastardo is 29, has one year of team control remaining, and replaces Justin Wilson as your high K rate/high BB rate left-hander in the bullpen.

Season G IP K/9 BB/9 GB% ERA FIP xFIP
2009 6 23.2 7.2 3.4 22.7% 6.46 5.08 5.05
2010 25 18.2 12.5 4.3 31.9% 4.34 2.76 3.70
2011 64 58.0 10.9 4.0 25.4% 2.64 3.30 3.56
2012 65 52.0 14.0 4.5 27.7% 4.33 3.34 3.18
2013 48 42.2 9.9 4.4 31.4% 2.32 3.00 4.09
2014 67 64.0 11.4 4.8 30.2% 3.94 3.10 3.81

via FanGraphs

They were looking for a reliever — preferably a lefty — who could get hitters out on both sides of the plate. Bastardo’s not a bad choice: career .185/.284/.337 slash line vs. left-handed batters; .211/.308/.336 vs. right-handed batters.

Last three years overall: 3.63 ERA, 3.10 FIP, 11.9 K/9, 4.6 BB/9 … He sits in the low/mid 90’s with his fastball with a sharp slider, which he threw 35% of the time in 2014.

antonio bastardo

Joely Rodriguez, who was named to the Arizona Fall League’s prospect team earlier in the day, goes to Philadelphia. He was added to 40-man roster a year ago to be protected from the Rule 5 draft, but didn’t do a whole lot in Altoona this year.

– Before adding Bastardo, the Pirates almost landed a different bullpen piece: Pat Neshek. We heard about their interest in him yesterday, and he already had several offers lined up today. He was really close to being a Pirate: “I was probably seconds away from signing with Pittsburgh. I told my agent [Barry Meister], ‘Let’s sign with Pittsburgh, let’s get it done.’ We were on the phone and Houston called. We told them we were going to sign, and they raised the offer.” Welp… He gets two years, $12.5 million with an option for 2017; no chance the Bucs would’ve matched that.

– One more bullpen rumor from earlier in the day: they discussed a Brian Matusz-for-Travis Snider trade with the Orioles at one point. I think they were better off in swapping Bastardo for Rodriguez.

According to Bill Brink, the Pirates have had “preliminary discussions” about an extension for Neil Walker. He’s still under team control for two more years, so still plenty of time.

– From last night: Edinson Volquez is looking for a two-year, $20 million deal; he and the White Sox have mutual interest. Even if he gets a little less than that, I think the Pirates are out.

– If you haven’t heard, Jon Lester signed with the Cubs for six years and $155 million. Should be fun facing him until 2020.

– Pirates are unveiling a new alternate jersey this Saturday at PirateFest…

More to come.

Depth Chart & Winter Meetings Primer
Winter Meetings Day 1
Winter Meetings Day 2

Go Bucs