How NL Central teams are allocating resources in 2015

Using Roster Resource‘s projected 25-man rosters and Baseball-Reference‘s estimated salaries, here’s a quick look at how the NL Central teams will be spending their money in 2015…

nl central payroll allocation

A few notes:

– These amounts only consist of the projected 25-man rosters. So, for example, Jose Tabata‘s $4 million is not accounted for since he isn’t expected to make the big club.

– While he is likely to start on the disabled list, I did make an exception for Charlie Morton, so the Pirates’ rotation reflects his $8 million instead of league minimum pay for his likely replacement (Jeff Locke).

– Speaking of league minimum, it’s $507,500 this season, to be exact.

– For players whose arbitration cases are not yet settled, their salaries are from MLB Trade Rumors’ projection. While they won’t be 100% accurate, they shouldn’t be off by too much and won’t have a major impact on this.

– Projected rosters & salaries are as of late Thursday night (1/29) — already includes Neal Cottsdeal with the Brewers.

Anyway, here’s the projected total dollar amounts for each club…

Continue reading “How NL Central teams are allocating resources in 2015″

15 Questions for the Second Half — Answered

During the All-Star break, we had 15 questions for the upcoming Pirates’ second half. Here are the answers.

1. Can they avoid a second half slump?

This question was built around the premise that in each of the first three seasons under Clint Hurdle, the Bucs played better ball in the first half than the second:

2011: .522 / .347

2012: .565 / .403

2013: .602 / .551

Their .516 winning percentage first half winning percentage was the lowest of the Hurdle era, so it wasn’t too hard to buck this trend. They won 39 of 67 games, good for a .582 win % to avoid the second half decline.

And, just for fun, consider this from the old post:

[quote_simple]On the other hand — the Pirates have played 67 games since May 2nd, winning 39 of those. If they kept that pace over the next 67, they’d finish with 88 wins. Maybe enough to sneak into the Wild Card (the Giants, who currently hold the second WC spot, are on pace for 89 wins). But the Bucs will have to avoid any sort of second half slump.[/quote_simple]

They managed to keep that pace and land right on 88 wins — tied with SF in the Wild Card.


2. Can the pitching improve?

FIRST HALF

ERA: 3.76
FIP: 3.97
xFIP: 3.82
K/9: 7.25
BB/9: 3.04
GB%: 49.5%

SECOND HALF
ERA: 3.10
FIP: 3.55
xFIP: 3.55
K/9: 8.08
BB/9: 3.14
GB%: 52.1%

Absolutely, and it certainly helped for the playoff push. A healthy Francisco Liriano once again looked like an ace, Gerrit Cole turned in some solid starts upon returning, Edinson Volquez was unbelievable from an ERA standpoint, and the bullpen saw better results. They flipped the switch at just the right time to get the Bucs back to October.


3. Can the offense stay steady?

The Pirates had one of the most well-round offenses in the league with the success of Andrew McCutchen, Josh Harrison, Russell Martin, Starling Marte, and Neil Walker. After so many years of dismal offensive outputs, this was refreshing. They were good as a unit in the first half (.256/.331/.388, 105 wRC+), then got even better in the second half (.264/.327/.428, 113 wRC+) — hit for slightly more average, kept a steady OBP, and got a big boost of power. Their 113 wRC+ post-All-Star break was second-best in the Majors behind the Dodgers (115). Give Jeff Branson a raise.


4. What’ll happen at the deadline?

Nothing! The Pirates stood pat at both the non-waiver July 31 deadline and the waiver August 31 deadline. This was a bit of a surprise, but Neal Huntington & Co. believed that “no move was the best move.”

In hindsight, this probably hurt them in the long run. Of course they didn’t match on a Jon Lester or David Price deal, but even adding a legit bullpen arm could have gone a long way. Looking at how the postseason is shaping up (Giants and Cardinals in the NLCS), the Pirates were pretty close.


5. What’s in store for the MVP?

Unfortunately for Cutch, a first career trip to the disabled list was in store. He was hit by 7 pitches, including the 95 mph retaliatory fastball to the back in Arizona.

He *only* hit .295/.393/.482 in the second half, though his struggles actually came before hitting the disabled list (8-for-48 slump entering August, possibly some proof that he may have been hurting before that HBP).

Although he probably wasn’t 100% upon returning, McCutchen returned to ridiculous form and hit .324/.409/.559 from mid-August through the end of the year.

Overall, it was his third consecutive season of hitting better than .300/.400/.500 — he’s the fifth Pirate to accomplish that, joining Honus Wagner, Paul Waner, Arky Vaughan, and Brian Giles.

McCutchen was even better at the plate than he was last year, making another MVP case:

cutch city


6. Can we get an El Toro breakout?

What’s the opposite of a breakout? He appeared in only 29 games after the All-Star break, committing five more errors and hitting just .208 with a .625 OPS. El Toro became even more of a defensive liability at third base, forcing the team to try him out over at first base. He played 37 innings over there before suffering a foot injury that sidelined him for the rest of the season.


7. How about some first base productivity?

Meh. Ike Davis continued to get on base at a decent clip and finally showed some power (.440 slugging in the second half), hitting a couple of memorable homers against the Cardinals in late August. Gaby Sanchez continued to do nothing, batting .239 with a .670 OPS and just two homers. Both are candidates to be non-tendered this winter, depending on how the organization feels about Alvarez at 1B (and a few other factors).


8. Which Francisco Liriano will show up?

The good version. He posted a 2.20 ERA in 86 second half innings, boasting a 9.8 K/9 rate. He surrendered more than two earned runs in only two of his 14 second half outings — a 7 ER outburst vs. Atlanta on August 19th, and a 3 ER performance vs. Cincy in his last start of the year. Will that be his last start in a Pirate uniform?


9. Can Gerrit Cole come back strong?

Yep. He struggled to work deep into ballgames upon returning, but only got better as we got deeper into September. His last three outings:

vs. Boston: 7 innings, 2 runs, 7 K, 0 BB
@ Atlanta: 7 innings, 2 runs, 8 K, 2 BB
@ Cincinnati: 7 innings, 1 run, 12 K, 0 BB

Wish he pitched the Wild Card game, but whatever.


10. Is that the real Jeff Locke?

Nah…

First Half: 2.89 ERA, 2.95 FIP

Second Half: 4.66 ERA, 5.42 FIP


11. Can they beat the Central teams?

They were just 13-26 against the Cardinals, Brewers, and Reds in the first half. Here’s how they fared in the second:

vs. Cards: 2-4
vs. Brewers: 4-2
vs. Reds: 3-3

They had no trouble knocking the Brewers out of the race, but still couldn’t handle the Cardinals. That three-game sweep in STL in early September was a killer.


12. Will the Brewers turn it around after a miserable end to the first half?

LOL no. After winning 2 of their final 13 games heading into the All-Star break, the Brew Crew went 29-37 in the second half. They lost 22 of their final 31. Absolute choke job.

brewers playoff odds


13. How will the Cardinals fare without Yadier Molina?

They went 21-19 in Molina’s absence. But the Cardinals always find a way — they once again won the Central and are in the NLCS for the fourth consecutive year.


14. Can the Reds make some noise without a few of their key players?

Haha, no. The Reds were absolutely atrocious, going 25-42 after the All-Star break. Only the Diamondbacks had a worse record in that span.


15. Playoffs?!

Ah, yes. Even if it was only one game (and a terrible one at that)… hard to believe they made it back. It was painful to see it end so abruptly, but can’t take a playoff spot for granted after two decades of losing.

playoffs 100

Go Bucs


Photo: Jason Miller/Getty

Series Preview: Pirates vs. Brewers

Pirates vs Brewers

Pittsburgh Pirates (82-70)

vs.

Milwaukee Brewers (79-74)

Friday, September 19th – 7:05 pm
Saturday, September 20th – 7:05 pm
Sunday, September 21st – 1:35 pm

PNC Park – Pittsburgh, PA

BUY TICKETS

Follow us on Twitter @ForbesToFederal.

It’s hard to even describe what has happened for these two teams over the last month. The Pirates haven’t stopped trending up, winning 18 of their last 26 games. The Brewers haven’t stopped collapsing, losing 16 of their last 22. The Bucs have gained a whopping 9.5 games on the Brew Crew since August 21st, an unexpected and unbelievable turn of events. Pittsburgh has a 3.5-game lead on the second Wild Card spot heading into this weekend, meaning they can’t be passed by the Brewers this weekend no matter what. Scenarios:

scenarios

Current playoff odds:

odds

Let’s finish them.

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Probable Pitchers

Friday – Jeff Locke vs. Yovani Gallardo

Saturday – Edinson Volquez vs. Matt Garza

Sunday – Vance Worley vs. Wily Peralta

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News, Notes, Storylines

odds graph

– Vance Worley gets the ball Sunday. Charlie Morton still in pain.

– Final home series of the regular season. Pirates are tied with St. Louis for best home record in the National League (49-26).

– The Brewers are coming off a tough loss in St. Louis last night, as they lost 3-2 in 13 innings. They dropped two of three to the first place Cardinals.

– Other series to keep an eye on this weekend: Reds at Cardinals, Giants at Padres. Pirates trail STL by 2.5 games in the division; San Fran has a 2.0 game lead on the first Wild Card.

– National League batting race heading into this weekend:

Josh Harrison .319
Justin Morneau .317
Buster Posey .310
Ben Revere .309
Andrew McCutchen .308

– PNC promotions this weekend: free shirt on Friday; fireworks on Saturday; kids knit cap on Sunday. All three days: pennant race.

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Opponent Blogs

Brew Crew Ball | Brewers Bar | Disciples of Uecker

What they’re saying:

[quote_simple]”The situation is simple for the Brewers right now. Anything less than a sweep against the red-hot Pirates in Pittsburgh basically ends the Brewers chances at the playoffs.” – Brew Crew Ball[/quote_simple]

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Player to Watch

marte0001

Starling Marte. Picked him for the Red Sox series, might as well pick him again. Marte annihilated Red Sox pitching, going 5-for-12 with two home runs in the series. Of note: he’ll be up in the second spot of the lineup on Friday night. After keeping him down around the 6th spot, Clint Hurdle finally moves him back up in front of McCutchen. If they can keep raking, Harrison – Marte – Cutch – Neil WalkerRussell Martin is a dangerous top 5. Let’s see if they can do some damage this weekend.

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Prediction Time

Keep it rolling. Pirates take two of three and knock their magic number down to 3. Bring the noise and pack PNC.

Go Bucs

Series Preview: Pirates @ Brewers

Pirates vs Brewers

Pittsburgh Pirates (65-62)

@

Milwaukee Brewers (71-56)

Friday, August 22nd – 8:10 pm
Saturday, August 23rd – 7:10 pm
Sunday, August 24th – 2:10 pm

Miller Park – Milwaukee, WI

BUY TICKETS

Follow us on Twitter @ForbesToFederal.

After a season-long seven game losing streak, the Pirates finally got a win on Wednesday night in walk-fashion. Now they begin a stretch of very important games vs. NL Central opponents, starting with the first place Milwaukee Brewers. The Bucs have obviously struggled with the Brew Crew in the past, especially this season — just 3 wins in 13 games vs. Milwaukee thus far. Huge weekend coming up for the Pirates.

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Probable Pitchers

Friday – Jeff Locke vs. Yovani Gallardo

Saturday – Edinson Volquez vs. Wily Peralta

Sunday – Vance Worley vs. Mike Fiers

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News, Notes, Storylines

– Brewers at home: 35-29 … Pirates on the road: 25-36

– Playoff race: Bucs are now a whopping six games behind the Brewers … 2.5 games out of a Wild Card spot.

Charlie Morton has been dealing with a sports hernia.

A look at John Axford‘s journey to the big leagues … He returns to Milwaukee this weekend.

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Opponent Blogs

Brew Crew Ball | Brewers Bar | Reviewing the Brew

What they’re saying:

[quote_simple]

[The Brewers] were great the first quarter of the season, but have been up-and-down since then. Whether it was due to tired arms or injury, the relievers need to step up and gut it out on their way to a playoff push. Can they do it? Only time will tell.

Yes, this is an exciting time to be a Brewers fan.

[/quote_simple]

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Player to Watch

Andrew McCutchen. He has two games under his belt since returning from the disabled list, but has yet to notch a hit (eight at-bats). This is a huge weekend for the Bucs, and a great time for Cutch to get back in the swing of things. He’s liked hitting at Miller Park in his career (.303/.347/.589 in 43 games) so let’s see if he can get the bat going this weekend.

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Prediction Time

Brewers take two of three.

Go Bucs

Series Preview: Pirates vs. Brewers

Pirates vs Brewers

Pittsburgh Pirates (28-31)

vs.

Milwaukee Brewers (36-25)

Friday, June 6th – 7:05 pm
Saturday, June 7th – 4:05 pm
Sunday, June 8th – 1:35 pm

PNC Park – Pittsburgh, PA

BUY TICKETS

Follow us on Twitter @ForbesToFederal.

The Pirates return from a west coast trip in which we saw some good baseball — winning 3 of 4 vs. LA and 2 of 3 vs. San Diego. Keep winning series and chipping away… The Bucs got a big one this weekend, as the first place Brewers are in town for three. They’ve won just two of 10 games against the big bad Brew Crew this season…

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Probable Pitchers

Friday – Brandon Cumpton vs. Kyle Lohse

Saturday – Edinson Volquez vs. Matt Garza

Sunday – Charlie Morton vs. Yovani Gallardo

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News, Notes, Storylines

– Despite reports that surfaced on Wednesday evening, Gregory Polanco will NOT be making his debut on Friday night. Or at all this weekend, from what we’ve heard.

Vin Mazzaro cleared through waivers (again) and was outrighted to Triple-A.

– Yet another victim of Tommy John surgery: Bucco farmhand & Indy reliever Duke Welker.

– Rounds 3-10 of the MLB Draft are being held today. Following along here.

– PNC promotions for the weekend: Free Shirt on Friday; Goo Goo Dolls concert on Saturday; Kids Day / Russell Martin poster on Sunday.

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Opponent Blogs

Brew Crew Ball | Disciples of Uecker

What they’re saying:

[quote_simple]”The Pirates find themselves in a strange position entering June: their batters are producing runs at a solid level, but their pitching is simply not along for the ride. Currently, Pirates pitchers are approximately 22 runs below average entering the series against our Milwaukee Nine. Pittsburgh starting pitchers bear the bulk of the blame, given that not one of their six starters (and one emergency starter) are better than average at preventing runs in 2014.” – Disciples of Uecker [/quote_simple]

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Players to Watch

cumpton volquez morton

The three Bucco starters this weekend: Brandon Cumpton, Edinson Volquez, and Charlie Morton. The pitching has needed to be better all year, and these three in the back of the rotation need to piece together some good starts. The Bucs really need these guys to start pitching deeper into games to avoid continuously burning through the bullpen. Their chances of beating the Brew Crew are slim if they can’t get good starts out of Cumpton, Volquez, and Morton.

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Prediction Time

Gotta start beating the Brewers. Now’s a good time to start. Pirates take two of three.

Go Bucs