Bucco GIFs of the Year: April 2014

.GIFs of the year! April edition. This was the Pirates’ worst month performance-wise, but they still produced some memorable moments.

Neil Walker, Opening Day hero:

Neil  Walker Walk Off Opening Day0001

– Daniel Bryan’s YES chant takes over the PNC Park bleachers:

PNC Park YES Chant

Andrew McCutchen holsters the guns:

Andrew  McCutchen Guns

Tony Montana Tony Sanchez:

Tony  Sanchez Double Guns

– Pirates bring the YES Chant to the dugout:


– The Easter Sunday Brawl:


Jose Tabata and the Bucs bring back the Zoltan in late April:


Go Bucs

Pirates make first transactions of offseason

This could shape up to be an interesting offseason for the Pirates. Between Russell Martin, Francisco Liriano, and Edinson Volquez heading to free agency and some intriguing arbitration cases, they have quite a few decisions to make.

We’ll look more into the offseason storylines in the near future, but here’s a quick summary of what the Bucs did on Friday to start transitioning their roster.

First, they acquired right-handed pitcher Preston Guilmet from the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for cash considerations.

Guilmet, a 27-year-old reliever, has not had any success at the big league level in a small sample size:

2013 CLE 0 0 10.13 4 5.1 8 6 6 3 1 4.36 2.063 5.1 1.7
2014 BAL 0 1 5.23 10 10.1 8 6 6 2 12 3.91 0.968 1.7 10.5
2 Yrs 0 1 6.89 14 15.2 16 12 12 5 13 4.06 1.340 2.9 7.5
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/4/2014.

His minor league numbers have been much better and much more intriguing, however:

2009 Mahoning Valley A- CLE 6 6 4.09 15 70.1 70 41 32 16 62 1.223 1.0 2.0 7.9
2010 Lake County A CLE 4 1 2.25 30 52.0 35 13 13 10 79 0.865 0.5 1.7 13.7
2011 Kinston A+ CLE 1 1 2.16 52 58.1 43 14 14 11 60 0.926 0.6 1.7 9.3
2012 Akron AA CLE 2 2 2.39 50 52.2 41 14 14 13 51 1.025 0.7 2.2 8.7
2013 Columbus AAA CLE 5 4 1.68 49 64.1 43 19 12 14 72 0.886 0.6 2.0 10.1
2014 Norfolk AAA BAL 4 2 3.91 40 48.1 42 25 21 10 54 1.076 1.1 1.9 10.1
6 Seasons 22 16 2.76 236 346.0 274 126 106 74 378 1.006 0.8 1.9 9.8
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/4/2014.

Notable: pretty ridiculous run prevention (though his ERA dipped to 3.91), excellent strikeout and walk numbers, and a WHIP near 1.

Looking at those numbers, you’d think he would be an overpowering hurler. That’s not the case — his fourseam fastball averaged just 89.99 mph in his short sample of MLB action. He throws the fourseam, a sinker, and a splitter, per Pitch f/x.

In line with the organization’s philosophy, you also might make the assumption that this is a ground ball guy. That’s not really the case either — in the minors this year, he produced a 42% ground ball rate (slightly below average), per MLBfarm.

The Pirates have been active with waiver claims recently (Bobby LaFromboise, Chaz Roe, etc.). Guilmet is another example, and I’m sure the cash considerations weren’t much. We’ll see where he fits in next year.

preston guilmet0001

To make room for Guilmet on the 40-man roster, the team needed to make a cut. They designated Jose Tabata for assignment, which really shouldn’t be a shocking move.

The org. really doesn’t like losing assets; most guys they could cut would be claimed. They’re not going to lose Tabata. You’ll remember that they DFA’d him in the summer after he cleared waivers, then outrighted him to Indy. That’ll happen again — absolutely no one wants Tabata’s contract, and if they do, the Pirates should be grateful. A player can only be outrighted once without his consent, but since Tabata hasn’t accumulated five years of service time, he can’t demand to be kept on the roster or released. He’d become a free agent if he didn’t give consent, but he’s not going to walk away from this contract — no one else would give him anything like that.

He’ll make $4 million next season, and this move is even more indication that he isn’t fitting into their plans. If they can dump him on any team this offseason, they need to do it.

More minor news: Chris McGuiness and Vin Mazzaro declared free agency. Neither a surprise. McGuiness, a first baseman picked up last offseason, was a good on-base guy at Indy this year without a ton of power and no future in Pittsburgh. Mazzaro played a role for the 2013 Pirates, but appeared in just five MLB games this past season. He was DFA’d twice during the year, claimed by no one, and didn’t even get a shot as a September call-up.

More to come.

Go Bucs

Photos: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images; Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Decision Day: Pirates keep Snider over Tabata

A few weeks back, the inevitable Gregory Polanco call-up meant the Pirates would choose between Jose Tabata or Travis Snider for the fourth outfielder job. The team lucked out (in a way) in terms of the decision — Neil Walker‘s emergency appendectomy and DL trip made making room for Polanco easy; the removal of Tabata or Snider could be put on hold for another 15 days.

With Walker coming off the disabled list today, the decision is in:

Put it this way. Neither one of them is exactly a good player. By wins above replacement, these two have been the very worst on the roster — Snider at -0.3, Tabata at -0.4. Still, as I see it, there are a few reasons to keep Snider over Tabata.

The Bench Bat

Had the Pirates gotten rid of Snider, the bench would’ve been missing a left-handed bat. Probably not a good idea.

Both have been pretty good as pinch-hitters this year – TS .281 (9-for-32); JT .286 (8-for-28). Snider’s lefty bat probably gives him an edge.

The Contract

They say hindsight is 20/20. Here’s some hindsight: the contract extension given to Jose Tabata in 2011 was/is terrible. In terms of guaranteed money, he’s getting $3 million this year, $4 M next year, $4.5 M in 2016. Then there are options for 2017 – 2019. He hasn’t amounted to much, probably never will, and the Bucs aren’t going to pay a guy $3 or 4 million to sit on the bench.

Because he was outrighted, Tabata has the choice to elect free agency. I doubt he’ll do that since he’ll have to forfeit the contract, and no one else will give him a fraction of that kind of money.

Obviously it’s not good to be paying him in Triple-A, either. But let him play every day and hope some team takes the bait. If not, he’s still in the system to potentially bring him back if need be (injury, etc.).

The Current Outfield

With the outfield of Andrew McCutchen – Gregory Polanco – Starling Marte, there won’t be a whole lot of playing time unless one goes down with injury. Again, they aren’t going to pay a guy $3 or 4 million to ride the pine. Snider won’t get a whole lot of starts — his value is off the bench, and again, left-handed bat probably has the advantage there.

There wasn’t a lot the Pirates could do. They might have sent down Brandon Cumpton and made a decision when Gerrit Cole comes back — problem is, Cole’s due back on Saturday and no one would’ve been able to start in Cumpton’s spot on Friday without very short rest or a spot start. Some thought Clint Barmes would get DFA’d, though I think he’s sticking around — 1) he has the “veteran presence” and is very well-liked in the clubhouse, 2) his hitting has actually been better this season than the previous two, 3) there’s clearly value in his defense, especially for a groundball-inducing staff, 4) they’d be screwed if something happened to Jordy Mercer – they appear to not have faith in Josh Harrison at SS, and who would help fill in? Robert Andino, Michael Martinez?? …

It was time to pick between Tabata and Snider … and it’s been decided. See ya later, Jose. Maybe we’ll see you again, maybe we won’t.

jose tabata pirates

Go Bucs

Inside the Pirates’ defense with Inside Edge fielding data

pedro alvarez

The Pirates’ defense evolved into one of the majors’ best in 2013, saving 68 runs (2nd most in National League). Between a solid group of defenders and an increased use of the shift, the Bucs effectively used their defense to aid the pitching staff and shut down opponents.

FanGraphs recently released new “Inside Edge” data on the fielding sections of their site. The numbers can be found on all player pages and the leaderboards. Here’s how it works:


“Inside Edge scouts watch every play and grade how easy or difficult it is to successfully field on the following scale:

  • Impossible (0%)
  • Remote (1-10%)
  • Unlikely (10-40%)
  • About Even (40-60%)
  • Likely (60-90%)
  • Almost Certain / Certain (90-100%)”


Using the data, let’s see how some of the current Pirates stacked up against each other in 2013…

Who makes the routine plays? 

Name Position # 90-100% 90-100%
Jose Tabata LF 46 100.0%
Travis Snider RF 109 100.0%
Jeff Locke P 19 100.0%
Francisco Liriano P 21 100.0%
Charlie Morton P 10 100.0%
Gerrit Cole P 13 100.0%
Andrew McCutchen CF 303 99.7%
Neil Walker 2B 355 99.2%
Starling Marte LF 168 98.2%
Jose Tabata RF 52 98.1%
Gaby Sanchez 1B 127 97.6%
Jordy Mercer 2B 73 97.3%
Russell Martin C 35 97.1%
Clint Barmes SS 284 96.8%
Jordy Mercer SS 213 96.7%
Pedro Alvarez 3B 361 95.6%

[divider type=””]

Who makes the likely plays?

Name Position # 60-90% 60-90%
Jose Tabata LF 5 100.0%
Jeff Locke P 4 100.0%
Charlie Morton P 3 100.0%
Andrew McCutchen CF 13 100.0%
Jose Tabata RF 2 100.0%
Russell Martin C 4 100.0%
Neil Walker 2B 27 92.6%
Starling Marte LF 8 87.5%
Jordy Mercer 2B 6 83.3%
Clint Barmes SS 29 79.3%
Pedro Alvarez 3B 51 76.5%
Travis Snider RF 4 75.0%
Francisco Liriano P 4 75.0%
Jordy Mercer SS 12 66.7%
Gaby Sanchez 1B 10 50.0%

[divider type=””]

Who makes the “even” plays?

Name Position # 40-60% 40-60%
Jose Tabata RF 1 100.0%
Gaby Sanchez 1B 5 80.0%
Neil Walker 2B 12 75.0%
Russell Martin C 13 69.2%
Clint Barmes SS 9 66.7%
Starling Marte LF 5 60.0%
Pedro Alvarez 3B 31 54.8%
Andrew McCutchen CF 2 50.0%
Jordy Mercer SS 7 42.9%
Jordy Mercer 2B 2 0.0%
Travis Snider RF 1 0.0%
Jeff Locke P 1 0.0%
Charlie Morton P 1 0.0%

[divider type=””]

Who makes the unlikely plays?

Name Position # 10-40% 10-40%
Gerrit Cole P 1 100.00%
Neil Walker 2B 12 58.30%
Andrew McCutchen CF 7 57.10%
Russell Martin C 32 50.00%
Jordy Mercer SS 8 37.50%
Pedro Alvarez 3B 12 33.30%
Clint Barmes SS 9 33.30%
Gaby Sanchez 1B 3 33.30%
Jose Tabata RF 4 25.00%
Jose Tabata LF 2 0.00%
Travis Snider RF 1 0.00%
Jeff Locke P 1 0.00%
Francisco Liriano P 2 0.00%
Charlie Morton P 2 0.00%
Tony Sanchez C 4 0.00%

[divider type=””]

Who makes the remote plays?

Name Position # 1-10% 1-10%
Francisco Liriano P 1 100.00%
Tony Sanchez C 2 50.00%
Andrew McCutchen CF 6 33.30%
Starling Marte LF 3 33.30%
Pedro Alvarez 3B 8 12.50%
Neil Walker 2B 13 7.70%
Travis Snider RF 1 0.00%
Jeff Locke P 3 0.00%
Charlie Morton P 1 0.00%
Gerrit Cole P 1 0.00%
Jordy Mercer 2B 2 0.00%
Russell Martin C 14 0.00%
Clint Barmes SS 8 0.00%
Jordy Mercer SS 8 0.00%

[divider type=””]

Quick Notes:

– Obviously, no one made any “Impossible” plays or else they wouldn’t have been graded impossible. The most impossible attempts were directed at Cutch (90), Marte (82), Snider (33), and Tabata (28) – likely unreachable gap shots/line drives/etc.

– Between two positions (LF & RF), Tabata was all over the leaderboards. He made all the routine plays in LF/most in RF; all likely plays at both positions; etc.

– Pedro Alvarez easily had the most routine, likely, and even attempts. Hot corner isn’t easy.

– Head over to FanGraphs for more numbers… pretty interesting stuff.

Go Bucs

Photo: Joe Sargent/Getty

In 31 Days…

how many days until opening day 31

Jose Tabata (31) days until Opening Day…

The 25-year-old outfielder wasn’t terrible at the plate in 2013. He battled numerous injuries as usual, but ended up hitting a serviceable .282/.342/.429 in 106 games. He looks to get most of the action in right field to begin the season, but could soon lose his starting job to the team’s top hitting prospect.


ZiPS 503 (PA) 120 6 38 0.265 0.329 0.381 1.7
Steamer 481 132 7 47 0.275 0.342 0.400 1.5
Oliver 543 144 8 59 0.265 0.326 0.379 1.4


Question for 2014…

Can he stay productive/healthy until Gregory Polanco takes over right field?

The Polanco hype is very real right now, and all signs point to a midsummer debut for the 22-year-old prospect. If/when he arrives in Pittsburgh, Tabata will once again get demoted to the bench. Until then, Tabs needs to be at least decent in right field; consistency and health are his biggest roadblocks year in and year out. He’s had 14 health problems since the beginning of 2011. Last season’s injuries included a thigh strain, abdomen strain, forearm contusion, and knee tendonitis. If Tabata doesn’t hit and/or finds himself back on the trainer’s table, it could soon be time to free Polanco.

Go Bucs