Found March 28, 2013 on
New York Yankees
Kansas City Royals
With Opening Day less than a week away and Spring Training coming to a close in Florida, it seems like an appropriate time to take a look at what the Pirates will put on the field next Monday when the Cubs visit PNC Park.
The idea is to do one of these each day. I’ll break down the outfield, starting rotation, bullpen, bench and infield (today’s installment) individually. These are by no means meant to be a definitive prediction of what I think these players will do this season, I just wanted to get some capsules together as a sort of jumping off point. As the new guy I’m still learning more about the major league team every day after focusing on West Virginia for the site last season, so please bear with me. I’ll be more than happy to discuss the team in the comments and on Twitter (@TomBraggSports).
This is just going to be a look at the projected starters. The infield is set barring something strange happening in the next week, and I’ll get into the bench players in a few days. I’m including the catcher with the infield, so let’s just dive in there.
Catcher — Russell Martin
Russell Martin joined Pittsburgh last November, signing a two-year deal that will pay him $6.5 million this season and $8.5 million in 2014. The 30-year old spent most of his seven-year Major League career with the Dodgers before serving as the Yankees’ replacement for Jorge Posada the last two seasons.
Martin appeared in 133 games for the Yankees last year and hit a career-high 21 home runs, but also had career-worsts with a .211 batting average and 95 strikeouts. His resume includes three All-Star Game selections (2007, 2008 and 2011) and Golden Glove/Silver Slugger awards in 2007. His WAR numbers peaked that season (5.4) and have declined each year since then (2011 being the exception when he went from 1.8 in 2010 to 2.4 the follow year), bottoming out with a career-low 1.5 WAR last season.
Despite that, Martin’s history of playing for good teams and in big games should not be easily discounted. He has been a part of four Division winning teams (two in L.A., two in New York) and has helped manage quality pitching staffs for most of his career. A veteran catcher that can hit with a track record of managing quality pitchers is a good thing to have, especially for a team like the Pirates with a group of talented young arms that could possibly make their way to the majors in the coming years.
Martin’s best years are almost certainly behind him, but he gives the Pittsburgh something it has desperately needed since the Jason Kendall left town (and my high school classmate J.R. House’s body broke down) — stability behind the plate.
Pedro Alvarez hit 30 home runs in 2012.
Third base — Pedro Alvarez
Pedro Alvarez is back for his fourth season in the big leagues and will man third base for the Pirates in 2013. A lot is expected of Alvarez, who turned 26 in February, at the plate this season after posting 30 home runs with .784 OPS last season.
He does come with a downside — his 27 errors were tied with Chicago’s Starlin Castro for most in the National League, his 180 strikeouts were second worst in the NL and he has not been much of a threat against left-handers. That said, he can hit the fastball a LONG way and anything close to his 30 home runs from a year ago make the negatives sting much less.
Shortstop — Clint Barmes
Most of the time when a club has to fill its shortstop position with someone who is not a top-level talent it has to settle. Do you want to produce at the plate or in the field? With Clint Barmes, Pittsburgh chose to settle for defense.
Barmes hit for power, struck out and walked at career-low rates in his first season with the Pirates, and certainly some of that can be attributed to spending the bulk of his career in hitter-friendly stadiums in Colorado and Houston. Barmes was not brought in for his bat though.
His Fielding Runs Above Average, a defensive metric you might be familiar with from Baseball Prospectus, was second among National League shortstops in 2012. He played in 142 games last year (even appearing at first base once) and committed 16 errors in a career-high 1,161 innings played. Paired with Neil Walker, Barmes gives Pittsburgh a solid defensive duo up the middle.
First base — Garrett Jones/Gaby Sanchez
Garrett Jones is a big guy (6-foot-5, 240 pounds) that hits for power — exactly what you want from your first baseman at the plate. The trouble is he struggles badly with left-handed pitchers. His 27 home runs were a career-best. His offensive numbers improved greatly last season, thanks in part to manager Clint Hurdle’s habit of keeping him out of the batter’s box against lefties.
The Pirates will platoon at the position, with Jones in the lineup against right-handed pitchers and Gaby Sanchez handling first against lefties.
Sanchez is two years removed from an All-Star appearance with the Marlins but found himself playing in the minors at one point last season before being shipped to Pittsburgh. He does not provide as much pop as Jones, but Sanchez hits well against lefties and helps give Hurdle options.
Second base — Neil Walker
Neil Walker continued to be an above-average offensive player and he has settled in as a legitimate second baseman with his defense improving every year. He hit .280 with a .768 OPS and accounted for 14 home runs last year. He’s not especially powerful, but he is certainly consistent.
At 27, Walker is entering the prime of his career and barring injury (such as the back issues the slowed him late last season) there is plenty of reason to be optimistic about the native yinzer’s future.
Except, perhaps, his contract situation. Walker is slated to make $3.3 million this season but is not under contract beyond 2013. I’m certainly not a front-office type person, but it seems to me like the Pirates would be doing themselves a favor by locking Walker into a long-term deal to stay in Pittsburgh.
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
The Pirates starting rotation shaped up to be a battle for one spot, but Jeff Karstens started having shoulder problems. Karstens appears likely on his way to a spot on the disabled list to start the season, which opened up another place in the rotation.
A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez and James McDonald have all been penciled in in the top three spots for a while now, and word came...
The Pirates finished up their final cuts to minor league camp along with designating Clint Robinson and Hunter Strickland for assignment and have set their Opening Day roster. It will look like this:
SP A.J. Burnett
SP Wandy Rodriguez
SP James McDonald
SP Jonathan Sanchez
SP Jeff Locke
RP Jeanmar Gomez
RP Chris Leroux
RP Jared Hughes
RP Mark Melancon
RP Tony Watson
RP Justin Wilson...
The Opening Day roster is all but set. The Pirates cut nine players this morning, leaving 26 active players in camp. The only question mark remaining is whether Brandon Inge will start the season on the disabled list, which would put Josh Harrison on the bench. At this point it looks likely that Inge will start on the DL.
Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington met with the media...
Clint Barmes knows his glove kept him in the Pittsburgh Pirates' lineup a year ago. The veteran shortstop hopes his bat chips in this season.
Barmes says he spent the winter focusing on keeping things simple at the plate. He admits he tried to do too much too soon in 2012, when he hit a miserable .170 during April and May.
Manager Clint Hurdle stuck with Barmes, however, because...
I’ve been piecing together the minor league starting rotations, as well as the starting lineups. I’ve confirmed the rotations and the lineups with people in the Pirates’ front office. There are still some things that could change, specifically in this case with Clint Robinson being claimed. For the most part things are set. Below are the lineups, and the rotations can be seen...
The cuts from major league camp left the Pittsburgh Pirates with a lot of options at the Triple-A level. Those options ended up holding a few players back in Altoona for the 2013 season. Early in minor league camp, the Pirates were playing Matt Curry, Adalberto Santos, and Andrew Lambo with the Triple-A squad. After the late cuts, all three were pushed back to Altoona. That created...
Jason Grilli is well aware of the history.
After two promising summers turned into painful falls, the new Pittsburgh Pirates closer realizes what's at stake in 2013.
''You know, it's like three strikes and you're out,'' Grilli said. ''I don't think anybody in this clubhouse wants that to happen.''
Not if the group that's helped...
Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher A.J. Burnett, told Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, that he is considering retirement after the 5-year $82 million dollar contract he signed with the New York Yankees runs out.
Burnett, 36, made his Major League debut in 1999 with the Florida Marlins, followed by stops in Toronto and New York and has a win-loss record of 137-121 coming...
Wandy Rodriguez and Tony Watson will be over from major league camp today, as the Triple-A and Double-A teams take on the Phillies farm system. We’ll have bonus coverage tonight. Jessica Quiroli is in Clearwater, and will be providing some notes from the A-ball games on the road.
The Pirates made what appears to be their final cuts today. A lot of the moves are starting to impact...
The Bucs have trimmed their roster down much like I predicted they would yesterday, and here’s what it looks like:
Rotation: A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, James McDonald, Jonathan Sanchez, Jeff Locke
Projected starters: Russell Martin, Garrett Jones, Neil Walker, Clint Barmes, Pedro Alvarez, Travis Snider, Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte
Bench: Michael McKenry, Jose Tabata...
I’m just going to combine the last two Roster Watch articles. I called Justin Wilson making this team waaaaaaaaay back when I did the Kyle McPherson article. Everyone knew that Tony Watson was going to make the roster, he has had two pretty good seasons in the bigs and has carved out a role in…
The seventh weekend of the college season is about to get under way, with some teams starting their schedule a day earlier due to Easter Sunday. The Pirates have the #9 and #14 picks in the upcoming June amateur draft. Throughout the college/HS season, leading up to the draft, we will cover the interesting players that are being discussed in the Pirates draft range. There will also...
The Pittsburgh Pirates have acquired catcher Brian Jeroloman from the Cleveland Indians for cash considerations. Jeroloman will go to Indianapolis. The Pirates claimed him last off-season from Toronto, then lost him on waivers to Toronto later in the off-season. His player page, from his brief time in the system, can be seen here.
BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) -- A.J. Burnett loosened up for his opening day start with three innings Wednesday in the Pittsburgh Pirates' 7-4 loss to the Minnesota Twins.
Burnett allowed two runs and four hits and struck out two. He'll next pitch on Monday when the Pirates host the Chicago Cubs.
Vance Worley went five innings for the Twins, giving up two runs and seven hits while...
The Yankees will enter the 2013 season without an offensive-minded catcher for the first time in about 17 years. The departure of Russell Martin has left much to be desired offensively from the current crop of backstops, mainly Francisco Cervelli – who figures to be the starter - and likely backup Chris Stewart. The situation this year is very similar to what happened in 1996...