Thursday, June 23, 2016

Pirates in free fall

The question now is about whether or not the Pirates are going to have a winning season not whether or not they get to the postseason.  And how big a seller will the Pirates be at the deadline. 

I say this because it is hard to think the Pirates are trying much to win right now.  Today’s line up was familiar of the early 2000s.  When your line up includes Rodriguez and Kratz and Joyce, you are in big trouble.  I understand Marte went down with an injury, and it is probably a normal day off for Cutch.  But this is awful. 

First, Stallings is a better option than Kratz.  Hitting a whopping .050 going into today’s game should prove that.  Second, we have better options than Rodriguez right now.  Frazier or Moroff could give you all the flexibility defensively as Rodriguez (since you don’t need to cover first as Freese can do that), and probably hit better than .250 with a high strikeout potential.  Third, yesterday the Pirates started Wilfred Boscan.  Now, Glasnow has not allowed a hit in his last 12 innings in AAA.  I get it he probably does need more work on the change up and seeing multiple games without a loss of control for an inning would be nice, but the Pirates are falling out of contention for anything and Glasnow gives you a better shot than Boscan.  At some point you have to give it a go now.  You could always demote Glasnow after the game if you think Nicasio will be back for the next start.  But Boscan imploded as did the bullpen.  Would Glasnow have done that?  Was it really because Glasnow’s rest was one day off.  Probably not. 

To show you how bad it is today up 1-0 on the Giants in the 2nd inning, the Pirates had a runner at third with nobody out, but you knew he was not going to score.  Due up were Kratz, Rodriguez, and then pitcher Jon Niese.  All three struck out.  Not even a sac fly from Kratz or Rodriguez.  That is unacceptable baseball, especially when your two best players are on the bench.  The trio of Kratz, Joyce, and Rodriguez went 1 for 9 with Joyce pulling in two walks, and Rodriguez managing a meaningless hit late in the game.  Kratz ended the game with a .043.  That is also his OBP because he has not even drawn a walk. 

It is going to be fun to watch the prospects get some big league playing time this year, but it is painful to watch the Pirates tank so that becomes necessary. 

Saturday, June 11, 2016

2016 Draft and what it says about the Pirates

There are many sites that are going to be able to give you better person by person breakdown of the picks.  For example, I still have no idea why the Pirates picked Blake Cederlind.  But, I would like to take a bird's eye view of the draft and see if we can come up with what this draft is saying about the Pirates as a whole.

#1 - The Pirates think they need left handed pitching.    It seems to me that the Pirates went after lefties a little more than normal.  3 of the first 10 picks were left handed pitchers.  And some seem a little like over drafts indicating that perhaps the Pirates think they have a need in the system of left handed pitching prospects.  And that may be fair.  You can quickly name lots of right handed pitchers in the system like Taillon, Glasnow, Keller, and Hinz not to mention some lower tier names.  But who is the big lefty prospect?  Kingham was doing well before surgery, we will see where he is now.  So maybe this is not a bad idea.

#2 - The Pirates believe they can get hitters through International signings.    The Pirates drafted a ton of pitchers.  Hitters are almost non-existent.  Will Craig is a hitting prospect.  Alemais is not a pitcher, but not a big hitting prospect.  Same with Gibbs.  Only 18 of the 41 picks are hitters, and not all of those will sign.  A lot of those 18 are late round guys who are not leaving school  Nor is 24th rounder Brodrato.  So, one has to conclude they have a comfort level with getting guys elsewhere.  Perhaps the success of a Tito Polo helps one think that the draft is more important for pitching prospects than hitting ones.  Consider that 8 of the 18 are either catchers or short stops, the two positions that defense might trump hitting. 

#3 - The Pirates value youth.   This is not just high school.  The Pirates seemed to avoid college seniors as if they had the bubbonic plague this year.  MLB has them only taking 9, but I have heard some debate about whether Vieaux is really a SR making it only 8. 

#4 - The Pirates scouted the Southern Conference a lot this year.    Really the SoCon, not the SEC.  The Southern Conference had 4 guys picked by the Pirates.  Three of those four were from East Tennessee State University and the other was from Western Carolina, the actual winner of the SoCon.  I am not even sure what to make of this, but it is a little weird, right?  I am not the only one who thinks three guys from ETSU, which didn't even finish in the top 2 in a conference that is hardly known for baseball is a little strange?  Not that I don't like some of those picks.  Brown was nasty at Western this year with some pop in the bat. 

So those are some of my thoughts about the state of the Pirate system by looking at this draft.  Other than #4, which I threw in because I grew up on the SoCon, I think the Pirates are drafting for what they can work with knowing that their International system seems to struggle to produce pitching (see Heredia), and is producing hitting. 

It is not a great draft, but it is not a bad one either.  Sometimes you wish things would have gone a little differently.  For example Tom Hatch being drafted by the Cubs right before the Pirates.  He was very good this year for OSU, and would have been a great addition to the Pirates.  I think he has a MLB future, but he was off the board. 

This will be an interesting one to take a look at in a couple of years. 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Draft 2016

Day 1 of the draft saw three draft picks, and all were overdrafts by all accounts.  But, after seeing how Cole Tucker has performed, I think the Pirates have earned a bit of a break here.

Yes, it could be also that all of these will sign for under slot and give the Pirates some money to throw at harder signs today or even a Gage Hinz type offer in Rounds 11-13 which we will see tomorrow, so the book is hardly closed on the draft.

Will Craig is a big hitting 3B from Wake Forest.  College Hitters are usually a safe thing, and Craig will probably anchor the Black Bears offense.  We have not really seen a lot of these college hitters work out lately for the Pirates, so this one will have a lot of pressure.

Nick Lodolo is a high school lefty with a lot of height.  He is projectable and that fits with what the Pirates had been doing, but seemed to leave behind.  The Pirate farm system is littered with failed tall projectable types, so Lodolo will probably face increase criticism.  Although I do think the farm system is short on lefty pitching, which makes Lodolo valuable.

Travis Macgregor is a sort of tall high school right handed pitcher who was apparently moving up draft charts, which is an encouraging note.  He already sits in the 90's which should ease comparisons to previous high school failures who shall remain unnamed.  His secondary stuff may also be above what one would expect as well. 

It is unclear whether either of those two guys will pitch much in short season ball. 

Day 1 produces the hype, but I think day 2 makes or breaks the draft, so this is the day I am interested in.