Monday, January 24, 2011

Bradenton Mauraders 2011

Here is the prediction for the High A Pirate team.

C -Ramon Cabrera
1B - Aaron Baker
2B - Jarek Cunningham
3B -Elevys Gonzales
SS - Benji Gonzales
LF - Austin McClune
CF -David Rubinstein
RF -Evan Chambers

This is not exactly an impressive starting line up. It was not exactly impressive at WV either. They catch up to McClune, but this line up is really hoping for someone to get a break through year in a hitter friendly park. Evan Chambers is who they will be looking to have that year. Baker should be solid, and Cunningham is highly thought of, but his stats have yet to really show the promise.

SP - Brett Lorin
SP - Philip Irwin
SP - Tim Alderson
SP - Kyle McPherson
SP - Quinton Miller
SP/RP -Hunter Strickland
SP/RP - Tyler Waldron
RP - Jonathan Rhamos
RP -Zachary Foster

The pitching staff should be interesting. You can count on Irwin and Miller with a safe bet that Lorin and McPherson will start here, but be looking to move up. Alderson will be here, but what will his season look like is a big question for the Pirates. Strickland and Waldron are listed as both because they will get some starts and come in early on others as a way to keep them in the rotation. I do believe that Waldron will end up here because he may be a bullpen guy in the future, and thus, his slow development as a starter is not as important. Also West Virginia is crowded and Waldron is actually the old guy in the mix, and about the only one with college experience thus, I think he will make it here just because they sort of have to put him here.

The bullpen will also have some prospects like Rhamos. I do keep plugging Foster because he gets saves, but he is not a hard thrower. I do think again he will be here because it is a crowded team in West Virginia.

It is also possible that Victor Black starts here. He has stated in an interview that he will be in the pen this year, so he could do that here in Bradenton or back in West Viriginia. I have chosen to leave him in WV, but it could go either way.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

2011 Altoona Curve

This is just a guess, but there is should be a lot here to watch as members from last year's Altoona title team merge with members of the Bradenton team that went to the championship.

C - Sanchez
1B - Anderson
2B - D'Arnaud
SS - Holt
3B - Farrel
LF - Latimore
CF - Marte
RF - Grossmann/Herendez

I do believe that Chase D'Arnaud will start here in AA again. I also think that Robbie Grossman will move up, but Gorkys will not. It is possible that Grossman will stay behind, but we will see. The other question is about Calvin Anderson at 1B. He could DH, but Fryer will do that too. Hague might move up, but first is crowded there, so I think he stays.

SP - Locke
SP - Wilson
SP - Pribonic
SP - Hughes
SP - Leach
RP - Ericksen
RP - Aguero
RP - Moreno
RP - Krol

As you can see this team will have plenty of bats to watch in addition to D'Arnaud. Holt will be here, and Farrel will be one of the prospects to watch. Marte and Sanchez are must sees, and whether or not Grossman will get better and live up to his potential is another story line.

The pitching staff looks great. Pribonic was great in Fall Ball, and Locke and Wilson are good enough for AAA. There are some bullpen guys with a future here as well. Aguero and Moreno are well known, but Krol had 36 saves last year and a low WHIP. He is one to watch as well. Nathan Adcock would have been here, but the Royals took him in the Rule 5.

Friday, January 14, 2011

2011 Indianapolis Indians

This is the first year in recent memory where every level of the Pirates minor league system is going to be interesting. The Indianapolis Indians will be a great place this year with the pitching being particularly exciting to watch. Many will be making the jump late in the year.

These are my projections, but I find the Indy infield particularly hard to judge.

C - Hector Giminez
1B - Garret Atkins (Steven Pearce will take over, but I am not convinced that he will be ready for the opening, and he may have to start lower to get his swing back depending on if he can play in any Spring Training games)
2B - Josh Harrison
3B - Andy Marte
SS - Jordy Mercer
LF - Josh Fields
CF - Andrew Lambo
RF -Alex Presley
DH - Jeff Clement

I think that will be the starting line-up, but I believe that Brian Friday will be a starter on most days of the week, but I think they will switch him up. Infield somedays (second and third) and outfield somedays (SP -corner spots), and even the DH from time to time. I expect this line up to be pretty fluid. Fields and Atkins will play some at 3B as well. Especially the 3B spot will be interesting. If Marte does not play well he will get replaced. Especially after Pearce comes back. That will move Atkins to a regular rotation for the 3B spot. The best thing that can happen for a lot of these guys is the dumping of Doumit at the big league level opening a spot for one of them (probably either Presley, Pearce, or Atkins), and then Clement can move out of the DH spot and everything will be much more settled.

I do not have Ciraco on this line up as I believe he will be lost after not making the Big League team. Also you will note no Jim Negrych. I do not think he will open up at AAA. If so, he will be buried on the bench. His last few years have been a real disappointment. He is not a prospect, and thus will be behind all of those on this list. I also do not think that they will open up with Chase D'Arnaud in AAA. He will make it before the season is over, but his bad year and the off season signing signal another stint at AA.

SP - Brad Lincoln
SP - Rudy Owens
SP - Daniel McCutchen
SP - Aaron Thomson
SP - Brian Morris
RP - Brian Burres
RP - Daniel Moskos
RP - Justin Thomas
RP - Sean Gallagher
RP - Michael Crotta
RP - Kevin Hart (he could start on DL or lower to work his way to AAA)

You will notice that Jeff Locke is not here. I think he will start in AA. AAA is too crowded and Locke was not there very long. He will start there, but end up here in AAA. I think Burres will be a bullpen guy because the Pirates are short on left handed arms in the bigs, and Burres thus they need him to be in the pen. I think that McCutchen will get one last shot at being a starter. More value that way. If they decide to switch him to the pen they can always do that later. Crotta does not have much of a shot at being a big league starter, but the pen is a real possibility. Thus, that transition starts this year. The other guys I added because the saw time last year and very well could again this year.

I think the Indians are going to have a real chance at being good this year. More importantly they have a real chance to develop some great prospects in the field (like Mercer and Lambo) and on the mound (almost everyone). They are a team to watch for Pirate fans.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Your 2011 Pittsburgh Pirates

You cannot look at the minors without first deciding who you think will be on the Big League Team. Most of this is set. Although I think the bench will be a surprise.

C - Chris Synder
1B - Lyle Overbay
2B - Neil Walker
3B - Pedro Alvarez
SS - Ronny Cedano
LF - Jose Tabata
CF - Andrew McCutchen
RF - Jones/Diaz

OF - Diaz/Jones
C/UT - Ryan Doumit
UI - Josh Rodriguiz
UT - Corey Wimberly
C - Jason Jarmillo

A word or two needs to be said here for why these bench players were picked. The Pirates have as much as said that they are looking not to lose people. They have also said that Ryan Doumit will be more than just a back up catcher. Meaning he will either play some corner outfield as a fifth outfielder or some back up first base or both. That will mean sometimes Doumit will be on the field with Snyder leaving no back up catcher on the bench if they only go with two. It also means that Doumit will play back up catcher and his defense is awful. So, I think that Jarmillo, who will be lost if he does not make the team, will be a third catcher. Freeing Doumit up to play outfield some. This bumps John Bowker off the team. The Pirates did not take Josh Rodriguiz in the Rule 5 to cut him in Spring Training. So, he will break camp with the team. This creates a little of a problem as they will probably want to hide him a little. So now the fifth outfielder is a defensive liability and the back up Utility Infielder will be a question mark and not a pinch hitter. So, that means the last spot needs to be someone who can do it all. Corey Wimberly can. He plays third and second as well as short, and has played all three positions in the outfield. This makes him the perfect guy for the last spot. This means that the Pirates will also lose Ciraco.

SP - Paul Malholm
SP - Kevin Correia
SP - Ross Ohelendorf
SP - James McDonald
SP - Charlie Morton
RP - Jeff Karstens
RP - Scott Olsen
RP - Jose Ascino
RP - Chris Resop
RP - Tony Watson
RP - Evan Meek
RP - Joel Hanrahan

I think most of this is pretty straight forward. I think Morton will get the fifth slot because the Pirates appear to be in love with him and they will lose him if they cut him. Olsen will be in the pen because they have need of lefties there. Karstens they have already said they prefer him to be in the pen. Ascino will be lost if they do not keep him, and he is pitching well in the Winter Leagues. Watson is the guess. I think they will need another lefty in the pen, and Watson is probably as good as he is going to get right now. He is probably ready for this role. Also I think Kevin Hart will start out the season on the DL, giving Watson a spot in the pen.

This is what I think will happen, and it sets the stage for our trip through the minor leagues. We will start in AAA and work our way backwards.

Pirate Offseason Success - UPDATED

There has been a lot of discussion about whether or not the Pirates did their team any good in the offseason. I think the answer is yes, but only a little. I mostly agree with the WHYGAVS gives. Going into the offseason the biggest need in my opinion was pitching, which was addressed, and short stop, which was not.

Matt Diaz is being undersold. This is what happens when you only look at stats. Milledge was horrible to have around young impressionable guys. He loafed, paid no attention running the bases, and cost the team games in the field on more than one occasion. Diaz is a stable veteran who can help mold your young talent with good attitude. Sure the stats are not an improvement, and he is older with less "upside", but Milledge is not wanted by other teams because those non-stat things matter.

I do think the pitching staff has been upgraded. Zack Duke is gone. Kevin Corria is going to be better. While I am not a fan of Scott Oleson, at least it gives the Pirates a 5th starter option that is not Charlie Morton. That makes it an upgrade.

And while I also would have rather seen Pearce and Bowker at first, Lyle Overbay is not awful. Just count it as a signing to appease fans who wanted offseason action. Maybe he will hit better in the NL Central. Maybe he will give the Pirates the extra power their team really needed. At least it is a signing with a little bit of hope in it.

Plus, the Pirates needed to be viewed also for what they tried to do. Pittsburgh is not yet a destination for people who want to win in free agency. They made real offers to Jorge De La Rosa and they made attempts at some other big name free agents as well as some recovering former greats like Brandon Webb. These guys passed on Pittsburgh, but not because the offers were no good. They were legitimate attempts to really improve the team.

As for short stop, I think the Pirates tried there as well. They just did not get the trade done for JJ Hardy, but that should be viewed as a win as well because the Pirates showed they were going to keep their top flight prospects. The Twins were not going to take anything less. The Pirates go into 2011 with all their prospects in the system. You have to like that.

With that said, we should start looking at 2011 as Spring Training is just around the corner.

I forgot the most important off season pick up. Clint Hurdle as manager. I know that a lot of people do not think that managers add wins and losses, but sometimes they do. I think that this is one of those times. It is more that John Russell added losses. He was a very bad manager. His decisions were awful. I mean I have heard of player revolts before, but Russell had a manager revolt. One so bad that two coaches got fired during the season when the manager was going to get canned at the end of the season anyway. That means that other coaches thought he was that bad. Clint Hurdle will not have that problem and return the team to an average level of coaching.
I think it also shows that the Pirates are expanding the budget. No longer are they getting the guy with no real experience and hoping he turns out good like Russell or McClendon. Now, they are paying for a proven guy. They got the manager they wanted despite the fact that the manager was also being pursued by the New York Mets. It is a good sign and it makes for a good offseason.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


So Mini-Camp is open for business in Pirate City. Most of the team is there. Pedro Alvarez is getting married (or so the rumor goes), but the other major contributors are all there. Let the competition for the 5th starter spot begin.

Since Mini-Camp is under way, I will start previews of each minor league team leading up to the opening of camp. A lot will be speculation, but why not. This year will have something to watch at every level. Some real exciting stuff going on in the Pirate franchise. Sit back and enjoy the snow because baseball will soon be here.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Congrats to Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven

Bert Blyleven, former Pirate great, was finally elected to the Hall of Fame. He will be going in with Roberto Alomar, and the veterans committee picked a Toronto Blue Jay GM.

Bert will go in wearing a Twins cap, and he currently announces for the Twins. He is actually a very good announcer. I loved listening to him when I was in that viewing area. Still, I will remember him fondly for his 1979 championship with the Pirates. A complete game in the LCS and a win out of the pen in the World Series. Bert is deserving and making him wait 14 years is stupid.

The 6th most strikeouts, 14 most innings pitched and 9th in shut outs. He was crazy good, but you hear way more about pitchers like Tom Glavine as sure fire Hall of Famers despite Tom being no where near as good as Bert. Bert was a terrific pitcher in every way possible. He is the poster boy of media bias. Pitching mostly in Minnesota and Pittsburgh made him overlooked every year and even after his career was over.

Well done, Mr. Blyleven. Well done.