Bucs Bits: Pirates News & Notes 12/6/14

Some recent Bucco news and notes as we approach the start of the Winter Meetings…

– The Pirates signed left-hander Clayton Richard to a minor league contract earlier this week. He’s battled injuries and multiple shoulder surgeries over the past few seasons, limiting his time on the mound. His last full season in the big leagues was 2012 with the Padres, when he led the league in starts (33)… but also hits allowed (228) and home runs (31) … which seems hard to do in San Diego, no? Richard is entering his age-31 season and was decent when healthy. He strikes out next to no one but induces plenty of ground balls (career 50%). Not a ton of risk here on a minor league deal, but maybe some time with the pitching gurus can turn things around for him.

clayton richard padres0001

– Speaking of the Padres, they signed Clint Barmes to a one-year, $1.3 million contract. Barmes, who will turn 36 in March, spent three years in the Burgh… His original 2/$10.5 contract was ugly in hindsight, and he just doesn’t have the bat to make consistent starts. He’s a good bench player though, especially with his solid glove work. Barmes was a hard worker and good guy, so we wish in the best in San Diego.

clint barmes0001

As expected, the Bucs will head to the Winter Meetings with an eye on starting pitching. Also as expected, “retaining [Francisco Liriano] is Huntington’s top priority.” Something that’s written every year that doesn’t happen: “Huntington could look to make a big splash at Meetings.” Tom Singer notes that Allen Craig is a guy the Pirates could look at to play a little 1st base.

– MLB Trade Rumors’ arbitration estimates are always on point, but Mark Melancon‘s $7.6 million projection was a bit high due to his rare combination of holds and saves last season. Matt Swartz, creator of the model, analyzed a more accurate estimate for Melancon and guesses around $5.6-6.1 million could make sense.

– Grantland’s Jonah Keri released his MLB trade value rankings this week (Part I & Part II)… Buccos on the list: Gregory Polanco (45th), Starling Marte (38th), Gerrit Cole (33th), and obviously Andrew McCutchen (2nd).

– MLB.com released their top 50 draft prospects. Mt. Lebanon’s Ian Happ, a junior at the University of Cincinnati, ranks 16th. The switch-hitting Happ dominated the Cape Cod League the past two summers.

– PirateFest is coming up next weekend. Admission is free this year, but autograph lines are $20 (for charity). The list of current players scheduled to appear isn’t great (highlighted by Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco, A.J. Burnett) … Travis Snider is getting married next weekend, so a lot of the team will be skipping ‘Fest for it.

Hopefully we’ll have lots up on the site next week as the Winter Meetings unfold.

Go Bucs

Photo: Denis Poroy/Getty

Monday Morning Links 7/7/14

- Andrew McCutchen, Tony Watson, and Josh Harrison will represent the Pirates and the National League in this year’s Midsummer Classic.

– A couple good weekend columns from Dejan Kovacevic on two of those All-Stars — how McCutchen is one of the best talents in baseball, and how there’s no measuring the size of Harrison’s heart.

– Watson is very deserving of the All-Star nod, writes Rob Biertempfel.

– In case you missed it, the Pirates claimed infielder Dean Anna off waivers from the Yankees on Saturday. He played a handful of games with the Evil Empire this season, his first taste of big league action. Anna’s hit .280/.380/.419 in his minor league career, mostly in the Padres’ system. Claiming him probably had something to do with …..

– … this: it was announced on Sunday morning that Clint Barmes had been placed on the 15-day disabled list due to a groin strain. He’s out 4-6 weeks. Michael Martinez is up for the time being, with Anna taking his place in the infield at Indy.

– Here’s video of the ovation that A.J. Burnett received on Sunday afternoon at PNC Park.

– The Bucs signed their 11th round pick, right-handed pitcher Gage Hinsz.

– Shortstop prospect JaCoby Jones, drafted out of LSU last year, is on fire for the WV Power — he has six homers in his last 10 games, including two on Sunday.

– FanGraphs has the Pirates’ playoff odds at 44.5%.


NL Central Standings:

nl central standings

Second Place Bucs!


NL Wild Card Standings:

nl wild card standings

Here come the Pirates …


On Tap This Week:

Monday @ St. Louis, 8:15 pm
Tuesday @ St. Louis, 8:15 pm
Wednesday @ St. Louis, 8:15 pm
Thursday @ St. Louis, 7:15 pm
Friday @ Cincinnati, 7:10 pm
Saturday @ Cincinnati, 7:15 pm
Sunday @ Cincinnati, 1:10 pm

Huge roadtrip before the All-Star break.


Go Bucs

In 12 Days…

how many days until opening day 12

Clint Barmes (12) days until Opening Day.

2013 marked the second season of a two-year deal for shortstop Clint Barmes. It was similar to the first, featuring poor offense but good glovework. Barmes lost his title as starting shortstop to Jordy Mercer in June, though he still received fair playing time the rest of the year. The Pirates re-signed the 35-year-old infielder for one more year and $2 million in December.

Projections:

AB H HR RBI AVG OBP SLG WAR
ZiPS 397 (PA) 85 6 34 0.234 0.281 0.330 1.4
Steamer 304 68 6 30 0.224 0.275 0.335 0.4
Oliver 552 121 8 51 0.219 0.263 0.308 0.7

Question for 2014…

How does he fit into the new role?

With his new contract, Barmes takes a pay cut and a bench job. Jordy Mercer projects to see the bulk of playing time at short, as he should. It’ll be interesting to see how Clint Hurdle uses them as SS though; I wouldn’t be surprised if Barmes still got a solid share of playing time. He’s been moving around the infield this spring at both 2B and 3B, so his versatility could come in handy to spell Neil Walker or Pedro Alvarez at times. There’s not much to question with Barmes at this point – no bat, all glove – but that’s perfectly fine if he’s used properly. With some of the best ground ball pitchers around, he’ll keep helping out in the infield for sure. And the players seem to like him.

Go Bucs

Poll: How do you feel about the Pirates offseason so far?

AJ Burnett Pittsburgh Pirates Signing Autographs

Coming off a great 2013 campaign, the offseason has been a little underwhelming. Not that there isn’t promise for 2014, but it seems like the Pirates have just been treading water this winter.

Elsewhere in the NL Central, the Cardinals continue to get better – it might be hard for them to improve on 97 wins, but they fixed their shortstop problem with Jhonny Peralta and added a solid outfielder in Peter Bourjos. The window may be closing on the Reds, while the Cubs and Brewers haven’t taken huge strides.

Here’s a rundown of what the Bucs have done so far…

Additions to 40-man roster
– RHP Edinson Volquez (1 year, $5 million)
– SS Clint Barmes (re-signed 1 year, $2 million)
– C Chris Stewart (acquired from Yankees)
– OF Jaff Decker (acquired from Padres)
– 1B Chris McGuiness (acquired from Rangers)
– RHP Duke Welker (re-acquired from Twins)

Subtractions from 40-man roster
A.J. Burnett (free agent)
John Buck (free agent)
Marlon Byrd (free agent; signed with Phillies)
Justin Morneau (free agent; signed with Rockies)
Garrett Jones (DFA’d/non-tendered; signed with Marlins)
Michael McKenry (DFA’d/non-tendered)
Jerry Sands (DFA’d; claimed on waivers by Rays)
Ryan Reid (DFA’d; claimed on waivers by Mets)
Kris Johnson (traded to Twins)
Miles Mikolas (acquired from Padres; traded to Rangers)

With that, please vote on our new poll…

88 days until Opening Day.

Go Bucs

Pirates Winter Meetings News & Rumors: Day 4

Thursday is the fourth and final day of the 2013 MLB Winter Meetings.

– Earlier in the day, the Pirates re-signed Clint Barmes to a one-year, $2 million deal. You can read more about it HERE.

– The Rule 5 draft was held this morning at the Meetings. The Bucs weren’t active in the MLB portion, but they took three right-handed pitchers during the minor league draft: A.J. Morris, Tyler Sample, and Felipe Gonzalez. Meanwhile, three players were taken away from the Pirates: LHP Wei-Chung Wang (Brewers), catcher Charles Cutler (Cubs), and RHP Roberto Espinosa (Blue Jays). Pitching prospect Zack Thorton was not selected, even though he was considered to be a potential top pick – so that’s good news.

– The Pirates are apparently “more focused on Mitch Moreland than James Loney right now.” Loney’s currently out of their price range, though they’d prefer him if the cost came down. Moreland (career .253/.318/.440) wouldn’t be my top choice, especially if they have to give up Justin Wilson for him.

PirateFest this weekend.

Go Bucs