Bucs Bits: Pirates News and Notes 12/23/13

Pittsburgh Pirates Hot Stove News & Notes

There hasn’t been much to write about since the Winter Meetings, but here are some Bucco notes…

UPDATE: Ryan Reid and Jerry Sands – designated for assignment with the additions of Edinson Volquez and Clint Barmes last week – have been claimed on waivers today. The Mets picked up Reid, while the Rays added Sands.

– The Dominican Winter League’s regular season has come to a close. Bucs’ top hitting prospect Gregory Polanco finished with a line of .331/.428/.494 for the league’s best team, making him a candidate for Most Valuable Player (EDIT: he’s won the MVP and Rookie of the Year awards). He had the highest OPS in the league and came in second place for the batting title. Former big leaguer Moises Alou had some high remarks for Polanco:

gregory polanco moises alou

Starling Marte joined Polanco on the Escogido team last week. Marte, who was hit by 24 pitches last season, was plunked twice in his first two Dominican League games. The second one forced him to exit the contest early, but fortunately x-rays were negative.

Marte ducks out of the way of a pitch on August 7th.

– With the Pirates searching for a first baseman, Ike Davis of the Mets is a possible option. John Perrotto reported last week that the Mets wanted a big arm like Nick Kingham; Tim Williams writes why that trade wouldn’t be worth it.

Only five center fielders in MLB history have posted .300/.400/.500 lines in both their age-25 and age-26 seasons: Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and Andrew McCutchen.

– Manager Clint Hurdle is the 2013 Dapper Dan Sportsman of the Year. Cutch won the award last year.

14 weeks until Opening Day

Go Bucs

Pirates Roster Moves 12/18/13

There hasn’t been much action lately, but the Pirates officially made a few minor moves today. The following five players were signed to minor league contracts with invites to spring training:

Kyle McPherson, RHP: The 26-year-old righty was designated for assignment & non-tendered by the organization a few weeks ago. Considering he had Tommy John surgery this past July, it didn’t make sense to keep him on the 40-man roster if he’s unable to pitch. It’s nice to see “McFear” back on a minor league deal. He’s posted a 3.57 ERA over seven MiLB seasons; he had a 2.73 ERA in 10 appearances for the Bucs at the end of 2012.

Travis Ishikawa, 1B: You may recall the 30-year-old first baseman from his time with the Giants or Brewers. A left-handed hitter, he’s been unable to stick in the major leagues, playing just seven games in The Show last season. In 382 MLB games, Ishikawa has hit .260/.324/.398.

Michael Martinez, INF/OF: This signing was picked up a few days ago by Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish. Martinez, 31, plays all around the diamond but can’t hit at all – he’s hit just .187/.234/.261 in 162 games since 2011, failing to reach the Mendoza Line each year.

– Daniel Schlereth, LHP: The son of former NFL lineman Mark Schlereth, Daniel was part of the big D’Backs – Tigers – Yankees trade four years ago. Schlereth has struggled with ridiculously high walk rates, but is still young at age 27. He hasn’t pitched in MLB since 2012.

Adam Wilk, LHP: Like Schlereth, Wilk is another lefty who last pitched in the bigs with Detroit in 2012. The 26-year-old has posted solid minor league numbers since 2009: 2.66 ERA, 7.0 K/9, 1.3 BB/9.

The team also signed two players to minor league contracts (no invite to ST):

Brandon Mann, LHP: @27imokemp had info on this signing about two weeks ago over at U Gotta Believe. Mann, 29, has pitched in Japan the last few years with the Yokohama Bay Stars.

Elvin Ramirez, RHP: The 26-year-old righty has spent seven seasons in the minors with the Mets and Angels organizations, posting a career 4.02 ERA in that time.

103 days until Opening Day.

Go Bucs

Gameday: Pirates @ Cardinals | NLDS Game 2

pittsburgh pirates st louis cardinals nlds 2013 busch stadium

Pittsburgh Pirates @ St. Louis Cardinals

2013 National League Division Series, Game 2

October 4, 2013 – 1:07 pm

Busch Stadium – St. Louis, MO

TV: MLB Network | Radio: 93.7 The Fan

jeff banister twitter

Last night was disappointing, wasn’t it? A 9-1 defeat is no way to start the NLDS. You’ll hear how the Pirates are just “happy to be in the postseason” or how they need to “learn fast.”

But I’m not worried at all.

On April 26th, the Pirates lost, 9-1, against the Cards at Busch. They turned around and won the next two to take the series.

On August 1st, the Bucs lost, 13-0, against these same Cardinals. Then they won five of their next six games.

They’ve been blown out by St. Louis (and other teams) on multiple occasions this year. But they’ve bounced back. They’ve persevered. They’ve overcome adversity to become the one and only Battlin’ Bucs of 2013.

It’s Game 2 in a best-of-five. Win today and come home to this for Games 3 & 4:

pnc park blackout
Photo Credit: Pirates Prospects

This series isn’t over. There’s a lot of baseball to be played. Lose today? Then you can worry. But for now, let’s keep the faith in our Pirates.

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Probable Pitching Match-Up

Gerrit Cole (10-7, 3.22) vs. Lance Lynn (15-10, 3.97)

Cole finished the year like a #1 overall pick – he absolutely dominated opponents, posting a 1.69 ERA and 39 K in five September starts. He hasn’t pitched in 10 days, so let’s see how he comes out in this one. This will be the first time the Cardinals have seen the Pirates’ rookie.

The Bucs have had some success against Lynn in the past, though he’s been excellent at home in 2013. The offense was abysmal on Thursday, picking up just one run on four hits. They’ll have to pick it up against Lynn and get Cole some run support.

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Lineups

To Be Announced

Pittsburgh

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

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News and Notes

– You can watch today’s game down at PNC Park. They’ll be showing it up on the jumbotron.

– Cole has matured greatly this season and is ready for his Game 2 start.

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Opponent Blogs

Viva El Birdos | Redbird Rants | Cards Conclave

What they’re saying:

[quote_simple]”(Thursday’s) game was like eating ice cream for dinner… You could hardly ask for a better start to this series.” – Viva El Birdos[/quote_simple]

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Keys to Victory

Shower well: As Clint Hurdle likes to say, “shower well” – forget about last night’s game, wash it off, today’s a new day. Got knocked down yesterday, but it’s time to get back up.

See the ball, hit the ball: As I said before, the hitting was dreadful yesterday. I’m confident that get back on track against Lance Lynn today.

Ride the Cole Train: Big time start by Gerrit Cole right here. Even on long rest, he should be able to come out and start right where he left off. A solid outing by Cole can give the Pirates some momentum as they return to Pittsburgh.

Go Bucs

2006 Pirates Season Ticket Holder Appreciation Video

I recently found the season ticket holder appreciation video that the Pirates sent out after the 2006 season. With the Bucs locking up a winning season last night, I figured now would be a good time to look back at some old memories.

2006 marked the 14th year of “The Streak” as the Pirates finished with a brutal record of 67-95. Still, there were a few cool moments throughout the season: All-Star Game and festivities at PNC Park, Jason Bay and Freddy Sanchez playing in the ASG, Freddy winning the batting title, and more.

This video does a nice job of recapping the year with highlights and a bit of commentary from Lanny Frattare and Greg Brown. Enjoy:

Go Bucs

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…