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Morning briefing: Game 6 v. Red Sox


BRADENTON, Fla. — Gaby Sanchez tweaked his knee while making an awkward, aborted slide into third base the other day against the Blue Jays. Tests showed no structuarl damage and he took some swings in the batting cage this morning.

>> This will be Travis Snider‘s first game this spring in the outfield. He was the designated hitter Sunday. … Relievers Tony Watson, Justin Wilson and Mark Melancon will make their spring training debuts today. … Closer Jason Grilli is tentatively set to make his spring training debut Thursday against the Blue Jays.
>> During yesterday’s game, Phillies broadcaster Matt Stairs recalled when he and Snider were teammates with the Blue Jays. Snider used to bring Stairs a fresh cup of coffee every day during spring training. “Two creamers, extra sugar,” Snider said. Said Stairs: “He’s a good kid — and he made a great cup of coffee.”
>> Jake Peavy originally was scheduled to start today for the Red Sox, but he sliced open his hand with a fishing knife. … The Sox are bringing two players of note to McKechnie today: ex-Bucco Brock Holt and (future Bucco???) Mike Carp. The Pirates reportedly have scouted Carp with an eye toward a possible trade. Carp plays first base, but he’ll be the designated hitter today.

Mike Carp waits to start infield drills at McKechnie Field this morning.

Mike Carp waits to start infield drills at McKechnie Field this morning.

During the media scrum a few minutes ago with Red Sox manager John Farrell, I asked him what made Carp so successful last year off the bench. Farrell’s reply: “His acceptance of the role can’t be overlooked. We felt that, fundamentally, he has a very compact swing, a low-maintenance swing, so inconsistent playing time, he’d be equipped to handle it. It goes back to his acceptance of the role and how he prepared — not just day to day, but leading up to potentially pinch-hitting at some point in a game. I think Jonny Gomes had a lot of conversations with him. He’s a guy who had a long history of being that type of player. Our guys last year, their conversations around the game of baseball were so evident and so regular that they fed off one another. And Mike Carp had a number of big games for us.”

Red Sox (1-2) @ Pirates (3-1-1), 1:05 p.m., McKechnie Field
Online: Weather: Sunny, 77 degrees
Red Sox: 1. Daniel Nava LF, 2. Jonathan Herrera 2B, 3. Mike Carp DH, 4. Ryan Lavarnway 1B, 5. A.J. Pierzynski C, 6. Jackie Bradley Jr. CF, 7. Bryce Bentz RF, 8. Garin Cecchini 3B, 9. Brock Holt SS. Brandon Workman RHP
Pirates: 1. Starling Marte LF, 2. Russell Martin C, 3. Andrew McCutchen CF, 4. Pedro Alvarez DH, 5. Neil Walker 2B, 6. Travis Snider RF, 7. Andrew Lambo 1B, 8. Robert Andino 3B, 9. Clint Barmes SS. Francisco Liriano LHP
Today’s backups: Jaff Decker, Gregory Polanco, Chris Dickerson, Chris McGuiness, Brent Morel, Alen Hanson, Jordy Mercer, Matt Hague, Chris Stewart, Nevin Ashley, Carlos Paulino, Omir Santos, Jose Tabata, Josh Harrison, Michael Martinez.
Today’s other pitchers: Scheduled: Edinson Volquez, Mark Melancon, Tony Watson, Justin Wilson, Bryan Morris and Jared Hughes.
– Rob Biertempfel



  1. Leo Walter says:

    Just wanted to send along this idea to Steelking . In a thread from the other day Steel,while discussing Jaff Decker,you questioned the reasoning behind the FO throwing darts like Decker to see if they stick ( ? ) From watching for a long time all the orginizations in the Eastern League particularly,I think they do that for two reasons : # 1,as you mentioned,is to see if maybe someone does stick at the MLB level,and # 2,it takes a lot of players to fill out AAA and AA rosters.

  2. Stuart says:

    I’ll admit to being a little nervous about Carp. Boston is said to be asking for a big return, and we don’t really have a clue about Lambo yet. I know we have a surplus of relievers, and fourth outfielders, but I don’t think Carp would be worth more than one or two of those. No starting pitcher prospects should be in the mix.

    Let’s wait a while and see how Lambo looks.


  3. cmat0829 says:

    Well, we can’t have it both ways… hard to criticize the FO for guys like Bautista and Moss taking off after being castaway by the Bucs AND for the Bucs trying to find that process in reverse by signing players other teams may have given up on too soon.

    It does beg the overall question… how many at bats in the bigs constitutes the right amount to say a player has legitimately been given a full shot to make or break it?

  4. Jim S. says:

    I am not sure if Carp is better than Lambo or McGuinness, overall. He was last year, but obviously a lot went right for Carp last year.

  5. cmat0829 says:

    Has anyone seen any specifics on this ‘big return’ that has been speculated? Hate to criticize media types on this fine Monday but either be specific on trade asks or just don’t say anything. To ‘report’ something like “Boston is rumored to be asking for a big return” just strikes me as lazy reporting. Who is rumoring that? Have we asked either FO to comment on the availability of the player and what the asking price might be? Do we know what the needs of the Sox are and what they may be scouting on the Pirates’ team?

    Carp is a good piece, to be sure, and he’d fit in well with the Pirates in 2014, but he is not a high-end prospect nor a proven veteran, so hard to see how he can command more than a good bullpen piece and a midlevel prospect.

  6. These things really need judged on a case by case base. I do get annoyed at the 20/20 hindsight some fans have with Brandon Moss. It took him a solid two years after the Pirates got rid of him until resurfaced and starting producing. Often no amount of time would make a difference. Sometimes the change of scenery is what matters.

  7. The Gunner says:

    Can you explain what went right for Carp last year?

  8. JohninOshkosh says:

    Well, I’m sure glad to know Travis Snider can make a good cup of coffee. Might be an important skill to know given his hitting (cue rimshot).

    I hope Andino plays well this spring. Kind of like him as an off the bench role player.

  9. Jim S. says:

    He had an unusually high % of balls in play drop for hits compared to MLB average. Usually about 30% of balls in play fall for hits. For Carp last year it was over 38%. He had a good year, no doubt. I’m not saying he didn’t necessarily deserve the stats he had. The question is whether he can sustain it, because he had, by far, the highest % of line drives in his career (29%) and the lowest % of popups.

    If hitting the ball so hard is a new found skill for him, great. But, it doesn’t usually work that way all of the sudden at age 27. He still struck out almost 28% of the time, too, Gunner. Those are the things I look at with him that make me question whether he can sustain it.

  10. Stuart says:

    You wonder if Travis couldn’t be an uber Brandon Moss. It certainly can be difficult waiting for the “breakout” of guys like this.

    Man, I would hate to be a GM. There would be sweat on my trigger finger.


  11. Stuart says:

    BTW the Italian Dark Roast from Trader Joes, when finely ground, makes the best cup of Java IMHO.


  12. Jim S. says:

    You are right, Hidden. Players don’t all progress at the same rate. Some guys just take an extra couple of years to put it together, and teams can’t wait forever. Plus, I think injuries played a part with Moss.

    It worked out well with GIJ for a few years with the Bucs. That’s just the nature of it.

  13. Jim S. says:

    Well said, Stuart. Every GM has moves blow up in his face.

    People can find a bunch of mistakes for Huntington, and you can also find a bunch of successes. For me, I simply look at the state of the organization when he got here and compare it to where it is now. It was a disaster, and it is anything but that now. He has caught a few breaks with guys like Cutch that he inherited, but at all levels of the organization, from the big club to the lowest levels, I believe we are much stronger now than we have been in at least 20 years.

  14. Rob Biertempfel says:

    At the risk of seeming defensive, I really don’t think you understand how the process works. What incentive would Boston’s FO have to publicly identify what it seeks in return? And neither side can openly discuss players on other teams at the risk of violating MLB’s tampering rules. What’s reported is culled from several discussions with folks on all sides and observations of the course of many days or weeks. It’s not like things merely appear in print out of thin air. — RB

  15. NMR says:


    We all want as much information as we can get, but sometimes it is what it is.

  16. Jim S. says:

    FWIW, Osh, I heard Andino picks up dry cleaning for the veteran players with the best of them. So, maybe he has a shot to stick. :-)

  17. JohninOshkosh says:

    Ha! I know he isn’t likely to set the world on fire, but the world requires role players nevertheless.

  18. Stuart says:

    Where has time gone today. Seems like only 10 minutes ago it was 10:30 AM, and now it’s almost 4:00PM! I guess the blog is getting ready for daylight savings time, which I believe starts this coming Sunday.


  19. The Gunner says:

    I think the BMTIB is going to stick with the Lambo/Sanchez plan for now. If and when that goes south, Carp probably won’t be an option at that time.

  20. Nate83 says:

    I don’t know if it’s at bats as much as just the amount of time invested in the guy. Somebody like Jeff Clement got consistent at bats at first base for over a half year. Another team had already put a few year in on him and he had no options left. I don’t think Snider on the other hand has ever gotten much more then 300 at bats in any one year if even that many. But he has portions of 5 years of playing in the majors. I think in both cases it was OK to give up on those players if they do indeed give up on Snider.

    I personally had no problem with the Moss and Bautista timing myself. For every Bautista there are dozens of Lasting Milledge’s that never figure it out. Chances are if they were a failed prospect for another team and haven’t figured it out by 26 years old they won’t have much of a career.

  21. Rob Biertempfel says:

    Good observation.

  22. Rob Biertempfel says:

    Tim Horton’s rules.

  23. NMR says:

    Tim Horton’s > Starbucks

  24. Jim S. says:

    Probably so, Gunner. They have McGuinness as well. Let’s hope Gaby just has a minor tweak and will be ok.

  25. Jim S. says:

    My issue with Bautista was not that they should have known he was going to become a monster hitter. My issue at the time was that he was a decent player, and they got nothing for him.

    The guy was hitting double digit HR as a righty in a park that squashes RH power, and he had a decent OBP. I thought it was obvious there was some potential there, although nobody (even including Bautista, himself, I would say) could have predicted he would become the hitter he became in Toronto.

    But, I think this staff has learned a lot and gotten a lot better at evaluating talent all levels since then.

  26. JohninOshkosh says:

    Well, this is precisely why I was never excited about Snider’s acquisition in the first place. I turn a suspicious eye to first rounders that flush out of organizations that had complete incentive to develop and provide ample playing opportunity.

    He wasn’t rotting away in the depths of an organization successful on the field at the major league level. He was floundering in the bowels of the awful Blue Jays.

  27. Jim S. says:

    Yes, it does. I was just playing off the Matt Stairs comment that LunchBox makes a mean cup of coffee.

  28. JohninOshkosh says:

    Tim Horton’s and Dunkin Donuts coffee are both superior to Starbucks. Starbucks is the Subway, or for my generation the Stuckey’s, of coffee shops!

  29. Andrew says:

    This blog is actually on Greenwich Mean Time.

  30. Jim S. says:

    You stole my line, Andrew. :-)

  31. Steelkings says:

    You are right. It also takes a lot of guys to get through spring training when your stars and other starters play only every third day.

  32. Steelkings says:

    Projected Bench

    Chris Stewart
    Clint Barmes
    Josh Harrison
    Andrew Lambo
    Travis Snider

    No room for McGuinness on the 25 man. If McGuinness stays Snider goes! They wont keep 3 first baseman. If McGuinness is to stick, he has to beat out Lambo. Wont happen.

  33. Nate83 says:

    I agree Gunner. They will be patient and allow things to play out. There is not enough known about Lambo to give up anything to get a guy like Carp who comes with almost as many questions as Lambo. Can anyone honestly predict any of these players will have a better year then Lambo who cost us nothing in prospects and the minimum in payroll.

    One or two of these Carp, Davis, Smoak type players may get moved but more then likely one of them will still be available and taking up a spot on a roster that doesn’t want them and the asking price will come down.

  34. Nate83 says:

    Is McGuinness out of options? If not there is no reason he wouldn’t start in AAA and be ready incase of injury or failure by Lambo.

  35. Steelkings says:

    No Way. Andino may as well buy a retirement home in Indianapolis.

  36. Jim S. says:

    That’s a good call on your part about the bench, I think, Steel. Lambo not only will get a real shot to hit RHP as a 1b, he also brings added flexibility with OF. McGuinness is 1b only, and has never provent anything in MLB yet.

    I’d say Snider better look good when he gets playing time because Dickerson could take his slot. He has speed and has put up better than a .340 OBP vs. RHP. Snider has only shown flashes for this team, and keeps breaking down. He apparently makes great coffee, though, per Matt Stairs.

    I really like the Chris Stewart acquisition. They won’t get much credit for that move, but I believe his defensive value could be really good. As much as everyone liked Fort, those 2 guys may as well have been playing different positions. Stewart can’t really hit, but, like Barmes, that isn’t what he is being asked to do.

    I have been harsh on Harrison in the past. But, if used properly, and by that I mean mainly to spell Walker or Pedro vs. LHP, or PH vs. LHP, he might just grow into a nice bench player. I wish he had a higher OBP, but if he can scald LHP at .300 w/ some pop, I’ll take it.

  37. Steelkings says:

    I think the real reason Stewart is here is to be the back up no matter what. He will be the Fort of this team. I think if Martin gets hurt for extended games, you will see Sanchez get called up and become the starter instantly. Stewart would back up Sanchez. The Bucs just dont want Sanchez sitting around. He needs to continue to develop as he will be the Full Time starter next year.

  38. Jim S. says:

    Agreed, Steel. Stewart is the back-up, whether Martin or Sanchez is the starter. He can’t hit enough to play everyday. But, defensively, he might be as good as anyone in MLB. Fort was somebody everybody loved, and he had some thump. But, defensively, he was pretty bad I think.

  39. Jim S. says:

    Oops. I meant defensively Stewart might be as good as any “back-up catcher in MLB.”

  40. Steelkings says:

    agreed Jim

  41. NMR says:

    I think we have to account for the offensive environment of the time, Jim. Things have changed quite a bit.

    Jose Bautista was never a decent player – at the plate or in the field – while a Pirate.

    At his peak performance (2007), he was the 2nd worst 3B in all of baseball. He never once posted posted an average season as a hitter.

  42. Steelkings says:

    Many think that the Pirates didn’t have the right pharmaceutical coach to help with Bautista’s swing.

  43. Jim S. says:

    You have to be kidding. Sure, he was a decent player.

    The year he left, he was 26. He had 36 doubles, 2 triples, 15 HR, 68 BB. His line was .254/.339/.414. His OPS+ = 96.

    He was not an elite player. He wasn’t even a particularly good player yet. But, he had value as a 26 year old with upside, who was hitting in a pitcher’s park.

    We got some awful back-up catcher in return. Wasn’t it Robinson Diaz? We gave away something for absolutely freaking nothing. That was a disaster of a trade if Bautista never gets any better – which, obviously he did.

  44. Steelkings says:

    Dont give NMR a bunch of your dag gone counting stats. They piss him off and lock him up. Stop it, just stop it

  45. Nate83 says:

    Jim, I’m with NMR on this one. Honestly I can’t remember what I ate yesterday none less a trade 7 years ago but it seemed to me at the time that there wasn’t to much heartache over the trade. Bautista was not a good player at the time and Diaz could have just as easily became our everyday catcher. Neither guy projected to be more the fringe starters or bench players.

  46. Jim S. says:


    Bautista was a young, established starter. I agreed that he was not yet a good player. But he was not awful. I think Toronto saw some of those 36 doubles and figured a half dozen or so might have been HRs in their park. Now, we are talking about a guy with 20+ HR and still 30 doubles. Go back and check out his stats the 2 years before we traded him. He had value.

    Robinson Diaz, whom I just looked up to be certain, never played in MLB after 2009. He was not a prospect when he got him, and he stayed that way.

    It was a salary dump … or, maybe dumping a guy who was about to go up in salary through arbitration. But, there is no way that was not a terrible trade even if Bautista just stayed a fringe starter. When a guy is 26 and has a couple of ok seasons in a row at 3b, you don’t trade him for nothing. And, I might be the most pro-Huntington guy on the blog.

  47. Steelkings says:

    Did You Know?

    The Pirates drafted Bautista in the 2oth round of the 2000 draft and then lost him 3 years later in the rule 5 draft to Baltimore. They traded Kris Benson and Jeff Keppinger to reacquire Bautista and Ty Wiggington. Bautista played for 2 seasons at 300,000 a year and then right before his salary jumped to 1.8 million the Pirates traded him for a player to be named later in Robinzon Diaz.

    Bautista was a salary dump.

  48. Nate83 says:

    Your still using revisionary history. Bautista could have just as easily been out of baseball by 2009. He was 27 had bounced around with 5 teams in one year in 2004. The Pirates gave him almost 2 years of playing time at third base. His stats where pedestrian and he was making over 2 million a year. They asked him to use all fields when hitting and he didn’t want to do that so they moved on. I personally don’t think he was as good as you are remembering. He was infuriating to watch. If he hit 15 HR that year I bet 13 of them came in 2 months and he gave them nothing the other 4.

    He was putting up the same stats Pedro was in 2011 when everyone was screaming how overmatched he was. The difference is Pedro was still only 24 and started as a much higher prospect. 3 years is a big difference in baseball. 27 is nearing the middle of your prime years and he wasn’t performing.

  49. Nate83 says:

    That is correct Steel. He was a salary dump but he was one that was not performing well or taking advice from the coaching staff. He also wasn’t doing anything to look like a part of the team going forward.

  50. Steelkings says:

    Also If I remember correctly, fans were calling for Sanchez to return to third where he hit .344. Bautista was also not well liked in the clubhouse.

  51. NMR says:

    Absolutely, Nate.

    He was a crappy defender at the corners and didn’t have the power that those positions demanded at the time.

    His numbers only look decent relative to todays norms. Just compare him to his peers of the day and it is clear.

  52. Steelkings says:

    Maybe Jim is confusing his feelings for Bautista with the sour taste that came with trading Aramas Ramirez and Kenny Lofton to the Cubs for a Player To Be Named later.

    Another did you know.

    The Cubs originally offered 22 year old Mark Prior for Ramirez and Lofton, with the intention of making Dempster a starter. But because Prior was making 3 million a year the Pirates said no.

  53. Jim S. says:

    I looked at the other side of the equation and saw a guy the Pirates got in return who was not good at the time, had never been good, and was out of baseball shortly thereafter. I am astounded that NMR and Nate, two guys whose opinions I respect here would try to make out that the trade was no big loss. I hated it at the time.

    I’m not even taking credit for the fact that Bautista became a superstar. He had value at the time. They got nothing of value in return.

    If the Pirates trade Tabata tomorrow for absolutely nothing, are you going to say it is not a bad thing? He’s not a very good player. He is a below average starting RF in MLB. But, he has some value. Huntington would be torn to shreds if he traded him for organizational depth at catcher.

  54. NMR says:


    Jose Bautista was never worth even a full win as a Pirate. Don’t give me this value stuff. He was 26, out of options, had no true position, was a poor baserunner, and didn’t have a league average bat, let alone at the corners.

    There is absolutely no way anyone would even be talking about this trade if he didn’t become JOSE BAUTISTA. I don’t care who the Pirates got for him.

  55. Steelkings says:

    Even though I still think that Nutting is a greedy money hording owner, I think the days of merely dumping players because of salary are over. (I hope) As was the case with Ramirez, Bautista and even Freddy Sanchez who the Pirates traded for nobody.

  56. NMR says:

    What I find especially funny about this situation is that you heard absolutely nothing about this trade on Pirate blogs in 2009, when Jose Bautista was still Jose Bautista with the Blue Jays.

    Now that Jose Bautista is JOSE BAUTISTA, it seems everyone hated the trade from day one. Did you guys guys also see Wilt score 100? Babe call his shot?

  57. Nate83 says:

    Jim I respect your opinion as well but in this case I didn’t blink an eye at the trade when it happened. I had high hopes for Bautista coming into both of those years and he did not impress me. I think he butted heads with management and didn’t want to make some of the adjustments they wanted. Adjustments that they wanted after him doing it his way didn’t work for a better part of two years. At that point everyone involved probably thought it was good to move on. They did and unfortunately the guy became a beast for a couple of years. I personally am not going to go back and say it was a horrible trade and act like none of those circumstances existed.

  58. Nate83 says:

    Oddly Steel the Sanchez trade was one that some really liked. They got a high end prospect in Alderson that just never worked out.

  59. Jim S. says:

    In the spirit of blog harmony, I will let you guys have the final word on the Bautista-Robinson Diaz trade.

  60. Jim S. says:

    @ Steel:

    I believe you are correct that any sort of a trade like that is a thing of the past.

  61. Steelkings says:

    If you want a really good example of “Boy, The Pirates didnt see that coming”, Name this guy that the Pirates just released after two seasons.


    (17 seasons a starter) (3006 IP) (590 Gm) (186 Wins) (2046 K’s) and was an AL all star when he was 42 years old

    Who am I ?

  62. theplanisworking says:

    Steel, I am guessing Wakefield.
    If it isn’t him, I have no clue.

  63. Steelkings says:

    Right on the money with Tim Quakefield. The guy averaged 10.5 wins a year over 19 years. He never made more than 6 million a year.

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