Pirates swap Kris Johnson for Duke Welker

Kris Johnson is headed to Minnesota.

The Pirates have re-acquired RHP Duke Welker from the Minnesota Twins. Welker, 27, was sent to the Twins as the player to be named later in the Justin Morneau trade. However, he wasn’t officially part of the deal until October, so he was hardly ever part of their organization. Welker faced four batters in the big leagues last season; he posted a 3.57 ERA in 63 innings for Triple-A Indianapolis.

In return, the Twins will be receiving LHP Kris Johnson. The 29-year-old southpaw was great for Indianapolis in 2013, going 10-4 with a 2.39 ERA. He made four appearances in Pittsburgh, including an impressive six-inning relief outing and an ugly spot start on September 1st.

Not much to say about this trade – just two depth guys who didn’t see much time in the majors last year. Welker probably has more potential than Johnson, two years younger and a hard thrower. It’s weird to Welker come back already; the August 31st trade essentially remains a straight-up Justin Morneau for Alex Presley deal, which is fine for both sides.

Go Bucs

2013 in Review: Outfield

Pittsburgh Pirates Outfielders 2013 McCutchen Byrd Marte

Final stats:

pittsburgh pirates outfielders stats 2013

Andrew McCutchen needs no introduction. The 2013 National League Most Valuable Player, Cutch paced the Pirates’ offense all season long. Though he didn’t win a Gold Glove, his defense actually improved this year. McCutchen, who turned 27 last month, is the complete package and one of the best talents in baseball right now. Thankfully the club locked him up prior to the 2012 season, or else he could command crazy kinds of cash. The six-year, $51.5 million contract for a player of that caliber looks great right now.

Starling Marte had a nice season out of the leadoff spot for the Pirates. He started off ridiculously hot, keeping his batting average above .300 through his first 49 games of the year. A big slump into June dropped it down into the .280 range, and it hung around there for the rest of 2013. Marte’s speed was a huge asset, helping him steal 41 bases. His strong defense earned him a Gold Glove nomination in left field, though he lost to Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez. At 4.6 wins above replacement, Marte was the fifth most valuable outfielder in the National League.

Marlon Byrd was everything the Pirates needed out of right field: a power bat with solid defense. Coming off a PED suspension, Byrd was great for the Mets then continued his success upon being traded to Pittsburgh in late August. He was only here for one month but made a big impact on the team. Byrdman’s home run in the Wild Card game was unforgettable – his first postseason at-bat, PNC Park’s first postseason home run, etc. His great season earned himself a two-year, $16 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies starting in 2014.

At -0.6 WAR (tied with Felix Pie), Travis Snider was the least valuable Pirate in 2013. He was given the opportunity to start in right field early in the year, holding his own through April but stumbling by the end of May. In his last 41 games of the season, Snider hit just .136/.190/.254. He was sidelined for 33 games until September 1st due to a toe injury. When he did get a hit, Lunchbox came up big – his pinch-hit grand slam on May 21st was huge; he hit a walk-off single against the Reds on June 2nd; his pinch-hit homer on September 3rd at Milwaukee helped the Bucs to their 81st victory of the year. Will he be a Pirate again in 2014? Time’s running out to prove himself and he doesn’t have any minor league options remaining. It’ll be interesting to see what they do with him.

Jose Tabata honestly wasn’t that bad this season. While he dealt with multiple injuries like he does every season, Tabata was much better at the plate in 2013; in fact, he ended up hitting .312/.357/.490 in August and September. His salary increases to $3 million in 2014. If the Bucs don’t acquire a right fielder this offseason, Tabata will help bridge the gap until Gregory Polanco is ready.

Alex Presley, who struggled when given an opportunity as the starting left fielder in 2012, didn’t have much of a chance this season. Between Cutch, Marte, Snider, and Tabata on the roster, Presley was the odd man out. There were rumors that he wasn’t pleased with his role, making a trade or release at the end of the season seem likely. However, that cleared up quickly as they dealt him to the Twins in exchange for Justin Morneau on August 31st. Presley hit .283 in 28 games after the trade; he’ll be getting a better opportunity in Minnesota, so good for him.

Felix Pie was brought in on a minor league deal last winter, playing in Triple-A as depth until late August when he was recalled. He did next to nothing at the plate, hitting .138 with a .366 OPS. With only 29 at-bats in 27 games, Pie served as a late-inning defensive replacement most of the time. He elected free agency a few weeks ago and will look to latch on somewhere else in 2014.

Andrew Lambo put up awesome numbers in the minors this year – 32 HR, 99 RBI, .922 OPS in 120 games – and the hype obviously led to a #FreeAndrewLambo campaign. He was freed in mid-August but didn’t see much playing time, receiving just 30 at-bats down the stretch. It’ll be interesting to see how they use him in 2014 – his power shouldn’t go unnoticed, and you’d think they’d at least want to test out his bat. Lambo could start the year platooning in RF with Tabata or even at 1B with Gaby Sanchez. The team’s offseason moves will provide a good idea of how they feel about Lambo and whether or not he’s major league material.

2013 in Review: Previous Editions
Starting Pitching
Bullpen
Catching
Infield

Go Bucs

Season in Pictures: July 2013

“A picture is worth a thousand words.”

PNC Park Rain Delay Panorama

Ominous clouds flow over the Pittsburgh skyline on July 10th. Rain caused a delay of nearly three hours, but it was worth the wait: the Pirates beat the A’s for the first time in franchise history, 5-0.

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Pirates Five All Stars 2013

The Pirates’ five All-Stars are recognized on the field prior to the final game of the first half.

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Pedro Alvarez Home Run Derby

Pedro Alvarez competes in the Home Run Derby on July 15th.

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andrew mccutchen all star game stolen base

Andrew McCutchen steals second base during the Midsummer Classic.

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alex presley walk off july 30 doubleheader

Alex Presley connects for a walk-off single in game 1 of the July 30th doubleheader vs. St. Louis.

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pirates doubleheader st louis july 30

Marte, McCutchen, and Presley celebrate the Bucs’ 6-0 victory which completed the sweep of the doubleheader.

Previous Editions
April
May
June

Bucs land Justin Morneau

Justin Morneau Pittsburgh Pirates

Wow. On the day of the waiver trade deadline, Neal Huntington and the Pirates grabbed Justin Morneau from the Minnesota Twins.

They’ve been looking at Morneau for weeks. On July 26th, we looked at him as a trade target. On August 18th, we wondered if they could swing a deal for him. Today, it’s finally happened. The Bucs have landed the 32-year-old first baseman.

Honestly, a little surprised this went down. As someone who has spent his entire career in Minnesota, the Twins wanted to keep Morneau around; they’re still looking to re-sign him after this season. It really didn’t seem like Minnesota wanted to part ways with him. But the Pirates desperately wanted him – as of this morning, they were “trying like hell” to pick him up.

Pirates trade for morneau

It’s been written time and time again that Morneau isn’t the player he used to be. You can check out all of his stats HERE. But at the end of the day, this move should make them a better overall ballclub by deepening the bench, adding experience, etc.

To acquire him, the Bucs gave up Alex Presley. The 28-year-old outfielder played 204 career games with the Pirates, experiencing some ups and downs. He was excellent in 2011, but really struggled in 2012 when they gave him a great opportunity to play every day in left field. Rumors were swirling that Presley was not pleased when the team sent him back to the minors last week.

Considering the Twins wanted Nick Kingham (who’s developing into a nice pitching prospect), giving up Presley is a low price to pay.

nick kingham tweet

Neal Huntington had to be celebrating this one Moneyball style:

Moneyball Fist Pump GIF

Marlon Byrd, John Buck, Justin Morneau – three solid veteran acquisitions that will help this team down the stretch. Best part is that the Bucs really didn’t mortgage their future to improve the current squad. Huntington and the Pirates are ALL IN.

Love this:

Justin Morneau Pirates All in

Good stuff. Can’t wait to see Morneau in the black and gold. More to come…

Bucco GIF’s of the Week: July 29 – August 4

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Here are some GIFs of the best Bucco moments from the past week…

– Andrew McCutchen makes a slick diving catch, then throws to first for a double play:

Andrew McCutchen sliding catch double play

– After his walk-off base hit, Alex Presley gets the pie in the face, courtesy of A.J. Burnett:

Alex Presley walkoff pie in face AJ Burnett

– A young fan throws back his new souvenir:

Pirates Ball Girl

Previous Editions:
May 20 – 26
May 27 – June 2
June 3 – 9
June 10 – 16
June 17 – 23
June 24 – 30
July 1 – 7
July 8 – 14
July 15 – 21
July 22 – 28