Pirates Offseason Notes 11/24/15

19 weeks until Opening Day…

You can check out last week’s offseason notes HERE.

2016 Schedule

— To accommodate ESPN’s effort to televise a number of 2016’s Opening Day games, the Pirates-Cardinals opener has been moved up a day to Sunday, April 3rd. First pitch will be at 1:05 at PNC Park, marking the first game of the MLB season. Opposed to just the traditional Sunday night game on the season’s first day, Pirates-Cards will be one of three (Blue Jays-Rays at 4:00; Mets-Royals at 8:00).

— It was also officially announced that the Pirates and Marlins will play two games in San Juan, Puerto Rico on May 30 and 31 to honor the legacy of Roberto Clemente.

— The Pirates’ spring training schedule was released. Grapefruit League play begins on Tuesday, March 1st. The Pirates will wrap-up spring ball with an exhibition against the Reds in Indianapolis on Saturday, April 2nd.

Continue reading “Pirates Offseason Notes 11/24/15”

Pirates Offseason Notes 11/16/15

20 weeks until Opening Day…

Recent Stuff on the Blog

— Last week’s Offseason Notes
MLB Win Curve in the Expanded Wild Card Era
— Visualizing the Range of the Pirates’ Outfield in 2015
— Pages: Depth Chart / Payroll / Spray Charts / PITCHf/x

Rumor Mill

— Jon Heyman of CBS Sports had some rumors on the Pirates’ front last week, first mentioning that, unsurprisingly, Mark Melancon is being shopped. Heyman specifically says the Bucs’ closer is “out there for the taking.” The Pirates will look for value in return for their top reliever who enters his final year of team control and will command a salary upwards of $10 million through arbitration this winter. It wouldn’t be dissimilar (in terms of timing, payroll allocation, etc.) from the trade that brought Melancon to Pittsburgh and sent then-closer Joel Hanrahan to Boston.

Continue reading “Pirates Offseason Notes 11/16/15”

Pirates Offseason Notes 11/9/15

21 weeks until Opening Day…

Recent Stuff on the Blog

— Last week’s Offseason Notes
Ranking the Free Agent Starting Pitchers
The Pirates & Tommy John Surgery
— Pages: Depth Chart / Payroll / Spray Charts / PITCHf/x

Byung-Ho Park Bidding

The big baseball news of the day revolves around Korean slugging first baseman Byung-Ho Park. A former teammate of Jung-Ho Kang with the Korean Baseball Organization’s Nexen Heroes, Park looked to follow in the current Pirate’s footsteps and make the jump to Major League Baseball this winter. With gaudy numbers in the hitter-friendly KBO (.343/.436/.714 with 53 HR in 2015), Park’s posting had been hyped for some time, and the Pirates were naturally connected by way of both Kang and their yearly revolving door at 1B. I didn’t want to get my hopes up for multiple reasons, mostly because the Korean posting system is a crapshoot (still a blind bid where the highest bidder gets to negotiate a contract with the player; no back-and-forth “bidding war”) and the Pirates have Josh Bell waiting in the wings for first base, most likely to be in Pittsburgh at some point in 2016.

Park’s bidding opened last week and ended on Friday. For whatever reason, the winning bidder was not to be announced until today (Monday), though it was reported that the winning bid was $12.85 million and teams slowly began to eliminate themselves through the media. By last night, only handful of teams had yet to be cut by process of elimination, including the tight-lipped Pirates.

Finally, former MLB/KBO pitcher C.J. Nitkowski dropped an early-morning Twitter bomb:

CJ Nitkowski Byung Ho Park Pirates

But… not so fast. It was too good to be true. Buster Olney shot down Nitkowski’s claim shortly after 8:00 am:

Continue reading “Pirates Offseason Notes 11/9/15”

Pirates Offseason Notes 11/2/15

Each Monday, we’ll provide a round-up of the Bucs’ offseason happenings. 22 weeks until Opening Day…

Roster/Personnel Moves

In case you missed it…

— The Pirates claimed right-handed reliever Jorge Rondon off waivers from the Orioles last week [press release]. Rondon, 27, has little MLB experience (1 inning with St. Louis in 2014; 14.1 innings with Baltimore in 2015). He’s been stuck in AAA since 2012, where he’s posted respectable numbers:

Jorge Rondon AAA Stats

Walks have been an issue for Rondon in the past, but he throws hard and gets ground balls. It appears he has no options remaining. With at least three openings in the bullpen, the Pirates will likely find multiple arms of this profile and see what fits (like they did with Arquimedes Caminero last year).

Continue reading “Pirates Offseason Notes 11/2/15”

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