Electric Stuff: Pirates extend RHP Charlie Morton

The Pirates have opened up the checkbook and given Charlie Morton a three-year contract extension. Here’s the breakdown of the deal:

2014: $4 million
2015: $8 million
2016: $8 million
2017: $10 million option, $1 million buyout

Here are the career numbers for the 30-year-old right-hander:

2008 ATL 4 8 6.15 16 74.2 80 56 51 41 48 1.621 4.9 5.8
2009 PIT 5 9 4.55 18 97.0 102 49 49 40 62 1.464 3.7 5.8
2010 PIT 2 12 7.57 17 79.2 112 79 67 26 59 1.732 2.9 6.7
2011 PIT 10 10 3.83 29 171.2 186 82 73 77 110 1.532 4.0 5.8
2012 PIT 2 6 4.65 9 50.1 62 30 26 11 25 1.450 2.0 4.5
2013 PIT 7 4 3.26 20 116.0 113 51 42 36 85 1.284 2.8 6.6
6 Yrs 30 49 4.70 109 589.1 655 347 308 231 389 1.503 3.5 5.9
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/11/2013.

I’m a big fan of the deal for a few reasons…

1. Consistency & Effectiveness: Morton won’t overwhelm you with dominance, but he’s a quality, consistent pitcher who fits just fine into the Pirates’ rotation. His “Electric Stuff” helps induce lots of groundballs (62.9% GB rate in 2013 – 1st in MLB) which the Bucs love. He was one of the team’s most reliable arms down the stretch, posting a 1.74 ERA over six key starts between August 7th and September 2nd. He pitched Game 4 of the NLDS, giving up two runs over 5.2 innings in a very Charlie Morton-esque outing. All in all, he’s a reliable guy to have on your staff.

2. The price is right: Charlie’s in his final year of arbitration and was projected to make $3.9 million – that matches up with the $4 million he gets in this new contract. They also buy two of his free agent years at $8 million a piece, which seems very fair in today’s market. A similar arm, Scott Feldman, just got a three-year, $30 million deal with Houston, so $8 mil in 2015 & 2016 for Morton seems more than reasonable.

3. The future: This move also gives the Pirates’ rotation a good direction for the next few years. Even if A.J. Burnett comes back next year, he won’t be around for much longer. Francisco Liriano and Wandy Rodriguez will be free agents after the 2014 season. Gerrit Cole is here now, while guys like Jameson Taillon and Nick Kingham are on the way. Morton’s locked up for three years, giving the team a solid, reliable arm in the rotation as old guys move on and young guys move in.

His Tommy John surgery in 2012 prove that injuries concerns may be a risk, but a healthy Charlie Morton is a very solid pitcher. It looks to be a reasonable contract for both sides of the deal.

More to come.

Go Bucs

Gameday: Pirates vs. Cardinals | NLDS Game 4

pittsburgh pirates st louis cardinals nlds 2013 pnc park

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. St. Louis Cardinals

2013 National League Division Series, Game 4

October 7, 2013 – 3:07 pm

PNC Park – Pittsburgh, PA

TV: TBS | Radio: 93.7 The Fan

pnc blackout 3 cutch

After an exciting 5-3 victory on Sunday evening, the Pirates hold a 2-1 series lead in the NLDS. They’ll have two chances to put the Cardinals away, but what better way than to do it at home in front of 40,000 screaming Bucco fans? If they win today, the Pittsburgh Pirates will be headed to the National League Championship Series…

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Probable Pitching Match-Up

Charlie Morton (7-4, 3.26) vs. Michael Wacha (4-1, 2.78)

Ground Chuck gets his first start since September 28th at Cincinnati, an outing in which he wasn’t so great. He was good down the stretch though, posting a 2.67 ERA in his last 11 starts. Morton allowed more than three runs in an outing just two times since August 1st – unfortunately, both games were against these St. Louis Cardinals.

Wacha was tremendous in five September starts with an ERA of 1.72. In his final start of the regular season, he took a no-hitter into the ninth but lost it with two outs. Wacha dominated in two appearances against the Pirates, allowing no runs over nine innings. Hopefully they can rough him up in his first career playoff game.

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To Be Announced


  1. Marte, LF
  2. Walker, 2B
  3. McCutchen, CF
  4. Morneau, 1B
  5. Byrd, RF
  6. Alvarez, 3B
  7. Martin, C
  8. Barmes, SS
  9. Morton, P


St. Louis

  1. Carpenter, 2B
  2. Beltran, RF
  3. Holliday, LF
  4. Adams, 1B
  5. Molina, C
  6. Jay, CF
  7. Freese, 3B
  8. Kozma, SS
  9. Wacha, P

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News and Notes

– Federal Street closes at 10:00 am. All gates will open at 1:00 pm.

– Andy Van Slyke will throw the first pitch.

– Sydney Hutchko will sing the National Anthem.

– More PNC Park info HERE.

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Opponent Blogs

Viva El Birdos | Redbird Rants | Cards Conclave

What they’re saying:

[quote_simple]”This team has been down this road before.  They can turn it around and survive it.  Let’s hope they do so, because while it may be cooling off outside, I’m not ready for winter just yet.” – Cards Conclave[/quote_simple]

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Keys to Victory

Electric Stuff/Ground Chuck: First and foremost, the Pirates need Charlie Morton to show up in this one. He needs to channel his inner “Electric Stuff” and shut down a Cards’ lineup that has roughed him up a few times in the past. If he can get his sinker working, he’ll produce a bunch of ground balls and live up to the “Ground Chuck” billing as well. The Bucs need Charlie to be on his game in this one.

Get to Wacha: As I alluded to earlier, Wacha has taken care of business against Pittsburgh a couple times this year. That can change today, and hopefully another blacked-out PNC Park crowd can get under his skin.

10th Man: The crowds at PNC have been absolutely incredible, and the country is taking notice. “There’s a city whose fans are the talk of baseball, and a team that seems to respond. Watch a game here, and it’s easy to buy in, because the atmosphere is everything you’ve heard, and more.” Gotta be just as loud today… Bring it. Let them know you’re there. Every little bit helps and we have to do our best to be that 10th man.

Go Bucs

The Return of Electric Stuff

Photo Credit: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

In our preview for the Pirates-Reds series, we named Charlie Morton our player to watch…

“He certainly wasn’t bad in his 2013 debut last Thursday, but will have to show more against the Redlegs.”

Ground Chuck didn’t disappoint on Tuesday night, allowing no runs on just three hits over 5.1 innings. Manager Clint Hurdle pulled him rather quickly, but Morton got the job done in more ways than one.

First, he shut down the Reds, who are in a tight divisional race with the Bucs and own some of the top offensive numbers in the National League. It’s hard to expect someone to be so efficient coming back from Tommy John surgery, but Morton made it look easy, averaging just a tick over 11 pitches per inning.

The curveball is back:

Charlie  Morton Curve 1

…and it’s electric:

Charlie  Morton Curve 2

It would’ve been nice to see Morton escape the sixth on his own, rather than digging into the bullpen too early. Still, it’s an acceptable second outing for #50.

Secondly, he sent the message that had to be sent, drilling Cincinnati’s first batter of the ballgame, Shin-Soo Choo, with a 93 mph fastball. It wasn’t a headshot and wasn’t intended to injure Choo (who gets hit by enough pitches anyway), but showed that the Pirates won’t back down and continue to allow the Reds to plunk Andrew McCutchen up high.

As Rich wrote in TiGO’s game preview, you wouldn’t expect Morton to retaliate; he’s “more like the type of guy that would like to sit you down in a coffee shop and play a nice acoustic set for you, trying to bring you closer to your inner light.”

But he came out and got the club’s point across on his first pitch… he probably won’t be losing his teammates’ respect anytime soon.

It’s hard to say where Charlie will fit when A.J. Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez return from the disabled list. Jeff Locke, Francisco Liriano, and presumably Gerrit Cole have shown that they’re worthy of keeping their rotation spots. Barring another injury to one of those five, Morton may have to be pushed to the bullpen. But it’s always good to have plenty of pitching depth, especially if Morton can continue to pitch like he did on Tuesday in Cincinnati.

Don’t miss our Charlie Morton t-shirts in our store.

Charlie  Morton Shirts

Have a shirt suggestion? Feel free to contact us. Thanks to Matt for the Chuckie’s Cheese idea.

All Arbitration Eligibles Officially Signed

The salary arbitration hearings for Major League Baseball last from February 4th to February 20th, but the Pirates will not have to worry about that this year.

The club entered the offseason with eight arbitration eligible players. However, each of those players have had their salaries determined for the 2013 season. Here’s a look…

Joel Hanrahan

Hanrahan was dealt to the Boston Red Sox at the end of December. Hammer and the Sox avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $7.04 million deal, which would have been a steep price for the Pirates to pay for a closer. Jason Grilli will receive $6.75 million over two seasons.

Chris Resop

Another Bucco reliever with a few seasons under his belt, Resop was traded to Oakland for a minor leaguer. He signed a one-year contract worth $1.35 million. For a guy every fan seemed to hate, Resop wasn’t awful; the Pirates do, however, have plenty of other capable pitchers that can fill his spot.

Charlie Morton

The Pirates re-signed Morton for $2 million. Due to Tommy John surgery, Morton and his “electric stuff” will be sidelined until midseason.

Jeff Karstens

Although Karstens seemed to be all but gone, the Bucs re-signed him for $2.5 million. Frequent injuries and the signing of Francisco Liriano did not deter the club from bringing this man of many faces back to Pittsburgh.

Gaby Sanchez

Sanchez, acquired at the deadline last season, looks to regain his pre-2012 form. He will earn $1.75 million this season.

Garrett Jones

After a big year in which he crushed 27 home runs, Jones will see his salary double to $4.5 million.

Neil Walker

One of the final salaries to be settled, the Pirates met Walker halfway and agreed to a $3.3 million deal. It’ll be interesting to see how The Pittsburgh Kid returns from injuries, and whether or not management seeks a long-term contract with him.

James McDonald

The team also met James McDonald at the halfway point. They offered $2.65 million, whereas J-Mac filed at $3.4 mil. The two sides ultimately settled at $3.025. McDonald has a lot to prove in 2013, after a roller coaster season last year.

Here’s where the Pirates currently stand financially:

Photo: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Pirates re-sign Morton, non-tender Karstens

The tender/non-tender deadline was Friday at midnight, and the Bucs had decisions to make on several players. They dealt Chris Resop, who was a non-tender candidate, and Yamaico Navarro earlier in the evening.

It surfaced yesterday afternoon that the club was going to non-tender Jeff Karstens. This one was a bit confusing as he’s a pretty reliable pitcher, despite a few injuries. Regardless, the Bucs decided to cut ties with him after five seasons. The longest-tenured player is now Andrew McCutchen, who debuted in June of 2009.

The team also re-signed Charlie Morton to a one year, $2 million deal. Morton, who went 2-6 with a 4.65 ERA before hitting the disabled list, will be out until midseason. He made $2.445 million last season, so he is taking a bit of a pay cut to remain with the team.

Finally, the Pirates tendered contracts to five other players: Neil Walker, James McDonald, Joel Hanrahan, Garrett Jones, and Gaby Sanchez.