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Morning briefing: Game 9 v. Blue Jays

The tarp is coming off the field at McKechnie, but probably not for very long.

The tarp came off at McKechnie for a few minutes, then they dragged it back on again.

BRADENTON, Fla. — If today’s game is rained out (a 50-50 proposition at this point), the players and pitchers could make up for lost work tomorrow, when there’s a “B” game against the Twins at 10 a.m. at Pirate City. At the moment, Stolmy Pimentel is scheduled to start that B game and the lineup os written in pencil at this point: Alen Hanson ss, Chase d’Arnaud 2b, Gregory Polanco cf, Brent Morel 1b, Nevin Ashley c, Matt Hague 3b, tba dh, minor leaguer tba lf, minor leaguer tba rf.

>> I’ve heard Russell Martin‘s camp would be open to discussing a contract extension, if such an offer would materialize. So far, the Pirates have not approached him about a new deal.

>> What a bummer if this one is cancelled. The Jays were bringing a decent lineup and their traveling squad included pitching prospect Marcus Stroman.

>> Update 10:32 a.m.: The Blue Jays bus is en route, and decision on the status of this game is expected until at least noon. The Rays-Orioles game today in Sarasota (about 20 minutes from here) already is washed out.

>> Update 12:16 p.m. The game is cancelled. It will not be made up. Pitching adjustments are available here.

Blue Jays (4-4) @ Pirates (6-1-1), 1:05 p.m., McKechnie Field
Webcast: Weather: Thunderstorms, 73 degrees
Pirates: 1. Starling Marte LF, 2. Jordy Mercer SS, 3. Andrew McCutchen CF, 4. Gaby Sanchez DH, 5. Brent Morel 1B, 6. Neil Walker 2B, 7. Jose Tabata RF, 8. Chris Stewart C, 9. Clint Barmes 3B. Gerrit Cole RHP
Blue Jays: 1. Jose Reyes SS, 2, Melky Cabrera LF, 3. Jose Bautista RF. 4. Edwin Encarnacion DH, 5. Adam Lind 1B, 6. Brett Lawrie 3B, 7. Dioner Navarro C, 8. Anthony Gose CF, 9. Ryan Goins 2B. Mark Buehrle LHP
Today’s backups: Pedro Alvarez, Chris McGuiness, Andrew Lambo, Jaff Decker, Gregory Polanco, Travis Snider, Chris Dickerson, Josh Harrison, Robert Andino, Matt Hague, Russell Martin, Tony Sanchez, Nevin Ashley, Carlos Paulino, Omir Santos, Alen Hanson, Michael Martinez.
Today’s other pitchers: Scheduled: Jason Grilli, Jameson Taillon, Bryan Morris and Casey Sadler.
– Rob Biertempfel



  1. Jim S. says:

    I definitely like the idea of an extension for Martin. But, we know the Bucs won’t do it for market value. And, the market value for Russell Martin is very high. It does appear he likes the Bucs, and feels like he is a leader on this club. I would at least like to see him extended via QO next winter. 2 more years of Martin would be a good thing, IMO. But, even a team-friendly extension from him would be a ton of dough. I believe he’ll end up with a “top half of the TV markets” deal.

  2. 21sthebest says:

    That was my thought for a while but I need to see what kind of year Sanchez has before I’d want to extend Martin. And I want to see what kind of year Martin has at the plate. QO money though seems too much for Martin, IMO.

  3. Andrew says:

    Interesting stuff on Martin, not sure of the value of extending Martin, if Tony Sanchez is available. Martin offense is on the decline, he is a premier defender/receiver behind the plate but Sanchez rates highly on defensive end and is the gap between Martin and Sanchez $8-10 million/year.

  4. FlBucco says:

    Stick with the plan – Sanchez is being a good soldier by going along with the move to AAA – better/cheaper option would be to extend Stewart to be his backup for a year or two – remember that there are quality catching prospects in the pipeline – McGuire is probably 3 years away…

  5. NMR says:

    I think it’ll come down to how many years teams are willing to give Martin. Unless the Pirates think there will be clubs offering 3+ years, the QO seems too risky.

  6. NMR says:

    I’m starting to question just how well Sanchez rates defensively. He was noticeably absent on all prospect lists, and has known issues in the field.

  7. Jim S. says:

    Some projections have his value in the $20 million per year range. That would be using WAR and some additional value for the perceived increasing value of pitch framing that some teams are buying into. Now, would some team pay that? I highly doubt anyone would pay Russell Martin $20 million per season after this year. But, do I think some team would do something like 3/$40 million after this season? If he has a similar season to last year, I definitely think so.

    We are quickly getting back to the good old days where defense is a very high % of the catching value equation, and I don’t think many catchers are his equal defensively. Maybe none from last year, in fact. Take him out of PNC, and I would also conclude he has more value as a hitter than we currently see. He hit much better on the road last year. Turned 31 in Feb.

    I think his leadership value is very high on this team also. From what I read, he seems to be stepping up in that regard to ensure there is no void with AJ gone.

    I do like what Sanchez is doing with the bat. The Pirates say they are happy with his overall catching skill set, too. The accuracy of the arm is a concern, but maybe he can get that under control this year. If he hits well this year and they feel his defense is there, Russell is gone after this season. I’d still like one more year of him, though.

  8. Jim S. says:

    That is the question, isn’t it NMR? If he can hit, but is not an above average defensive catcher, I don’t think they will let him start behind the dish. I think, analytically, they value catching defense very highly.

  9. The Gunner says:

    I think it is highly doubtful that the BMTIB will make an effort to bring Martin back in 2015, he’ll be way, way out of their price range.

    However, don’t rule this out, If, God forbid, the Bucs are out of the race and become sellers at the trade deadline, Martin will probably be traded for prospects.

  10. Good points, Gunner. Wouldn’t want Martin for a high-priced backup. Should be his last season here. Hope he stays healthy.

  11. Dan Novak says:

    If we have a ticket for the game tommorrow can we get into the B game also ?

  12. Andrew says:

    I think Sanchez is too old to make it onto prospect lists, I could be wrong. Not sure how he lost his high defensive grades, I was under the impression that he was a defense first regular. There were concerns about his catch and throw mechanics but I thought those were resolved. He rated well in pitch framing in his limited action last year, and was rated highly in the minors.

    My point is why pay a premium when an adequate cost control replacement exist. And $20 million/year, McCann received $17 million/year, he is rated well as a receiver, good at the other areas, and he can hit. Martin is an elite defender but his strike outs are ticking up, contact down, and he will not have those HR/FB outside of Yankee stadium.

  13. Rob Biertempfel says:

    It’s a B game at Pirate City. Walk in and find a seat. As with minor league games there, there’s no admission charge.

  14. Dan Novak says:

    Thanks Rob

  15. Steelkings says:

    “”” I think, analytically, they value catching defense very highly.””””

    Or the memories of 2012 with Barajas and the Fort’s inability’s to throw out even a sloth on Thorazine trying to steal 2nd base.

  16. Jim S. says:


    I hear you, and I don’t think Martin is worth anywhere near $20 million. But, isn’t Martin in the Top 3 defensively & maybe #1? Are we expecting Sanchez to jump right into that sort of ranking as a rookie? Even if he hits better than Martin would next year, which is no guarantee, they would be taking a hit at probably the most important defensive position if they don’t have Martin.

    Again, if they truly believe Sanchez is ready to be well above average defensively, I guess I would be comfortable. If not, I don’t see handing the job to a lesser option because the lesser option has waited patiently. The QO is an extra $5 or $6 million over his current salary, and I don’t actually think that would be enough to hold him. Someone will match it and add length for Russell. So, maybe that part of it is a moot point.

  17. Jim S. says:

    Yes, they have painful memories of that season. Since then, they have added Martin, Stewart, & Reese MdGuire. McGuire is considered maybe the best pro catching prospect defensively in over a decade. And, they have sent a bat-ready catcher (Sanchez) back to AAA to sharpen his defense. I think it is pretty obvious how they value the defensive aspect of catching. I think they value it as the most important component of defense.

  18. Steelkings says:

    Of course Martin would like a new deal. I dont think its going to be as easy as everyone thinks. Russ will be entering his 10th season as a catcher in 2015. 10 years is about it on knees for todays catchers. Victor Martinez and Joe Mauer both moved over to first after the 10th season. The great Manny Sanguillén only caught 12 seasons. The last 3 of those 12 were fraught with knee injuries.

  19. JohninOshkosh says:

    Hope it won’t be too stormy for Stolmy tomorrow.

  20. Jim S. says:

    Doesn’t happen often.

  21. NMR says:

    Not sure we can just assume that Martin will be as good defensively as he was last year, Jim.

    It wouldn’t take much for him to become pretty easily replaceable.

  22. Andrew says:

    I view it as the Pirates need to use cost controlled talent. Would Martin be providing additional value equal to the premium he is being paid?

    I would say Martin is top five defensively; on the Stats Corner’s pitch framing leader board he is usually near the top. Fangraphs catcher WAR 2010-2013 (which is based on running game and blocks,) he ranks 3rd, 50.5 defensive runs.

    I think the McCann comparison is pertinent, the Yankees clearly value receiving and defense, they acquired both Martin and Stewart. McCann is 4th on the Fangraphs list 50.5 defensive runs, and was ahead of Martin some years on Stats Corner list for framing. McCann received $17 million in AAV, but he is projected to be worth around 10 batting runs, so a Win. Martin is not projected to bring that amount of offense, how close is he to Hanigan or Jose Molina territory?

    Obviously, this is all speculative at this point and a QO would depend on 2014 performance, and how the Pirates internally value Sanchez. I just think it would be hard to find much surplus value in a contract extension for Martin, especially when 34yo Carlos Ruiz is getting 3 years $26 million guaranteed.

    Sorry for the length, I just do not have much to say on one change up thrown by Morton.

  23. Andrew says:

    @ Steelkings Travis reported that Dan Fox was pivotal in the acquisition of Martin. Barajas was an neutral pitch framer and competent in the other defensive areas, career 28% caught stealing, prior to 2012.

    A combination of Barajas just looking to add another year to his pension service time and an organization wide neglect of holding runners lead to those atrocious 2012 numbers, 6% of runners caught. In all the pitcher framing, shifting discussion the Pirates complete 180 in terms of holding runners and actually caring about steals, was the single biggest upgrade in terms of defensive runs saved in 2013.

  24. Rob Biertempfel says:


  25. cmat0829 says:

    are you here all week….and should we try the veal?

  26. Steelkings says:

    2 Funny Storys about a “B” game at Pirate City.
    This game was against the Phillies and it was played on the diamond that has left field against the public parking lot and right field would be close to the indoor batting cages. I don’t know the number. The Phillies were in the 3rd base dugout and their were hardly any fans milling about as there was a game in Tampa and I think this “B” game went unannounced. I happened to be there because I was playing River Run that afternoon. By happenstance I was leaning up against the first base dugout of the field behind the one the game was being played on. The phillies were warming up on that field and pens were thrown off that mound. I was leaning on that fence and there was a players equipment bag directly under me. Soon here comes a player in game pants and a tee shirt. He said ” excuse me man, I gotta got to work back here and I need a few things out of my bag” I said; “I’m sorry man. I didnt mean to get in the way of your bag”. “No big deal Man” He said. I saw in his bag something with his name on it. It said “Lidge” . I also saw a first basemans glove. Which prompted from me, “hey! Your Brad Lidge. You close. Whats with the first Basemans Glove?” He lit up like he had waited all week for someone to ask that question, and said; “Ah man, check it out!” and he handed it to me. “They just gave me that. I dont need it, but what the hell, ya know? Feel how soft it is. Its Kangaroo hide. Its soft isnt it?” I said; “Yeah. Hows it catch?” Lidge said; “See for yourself, go out and have a catch with it. ” When a MLB player asks you to have a catch, without any other regard, you go. So off I went. Onto the Phillies warm up field with Lidge in tow. I think it was about 8 steps onto the field when several members of the Pirate security staff had caught up to me. Lidge apparently saw this coming and slinked away like a school boy trying to stay out of trouble. I explained myself to the security personnel. They explained to me that they did not care who asked me to have a catch. (I had to explain what that meant, By the way) They then explained that if I walk out onto any field again they would not so politely escort me to my car.
    Late in the game, Jack Wilson, who was DH’ing for the Buc’s, saw’ed off a bat. The barrel went down the 3rd base line and Wilson was on with a bloop single. One of the Phillies picked the barrel up and put it in the trash can outside the Phillies dugout. Keep in mind that their is only about 30 fans milling about and most are retires with family. So I wondered over and pulled the barrel out of the trash. It was a black bat and it said “Jack Wilson” on it. Very cool! I said to security who at this time seemed to be standing fairly close to me; “Can I keep this?” “I guess so, It was in the trash” He said. My happiness over my free souvenir was short lived. Here comes Jack Wilson. Straight to me. “Hey man, I need that back” I said; ” What for? Planning on fixing it? ” Annoyed Wilson said “Noooo! That kid over there asked me for it. And I’m gonna give it to him for a souvenir.” I hesitated and shook my head a little. He said “Look, I could have had security come and get it, but I saw you had it and wanted to personally trade you a ball for it.” At this point and time, security and possibly the Pirate strength and conditioning coach had gathered around me again. I quickly handed it over. By now the crowd around me included another little kid with want in his eyes. Wilson handed me the ball, I handed it to the kid and everyone went their separate ways.
    I got paired up with three older guys at River Run. I was whining about my lost souvenir while waiting to tee off on the 3rd hole. One of them explained that the two stories I now get to tell are far better than any broken bat souvenir I could have taken home.

  27. cmat0829 says:

    RE: Russ and an extension… as always, it comes down to price and value. No idea what the market has to say about Martin 2015-2017, and would assume 3 years is minimum deal Russ would want, and he’d probably want 4 years…. do we think 4 years/$67M? something in that ballpark?

    Normally, I’d say ‘no way’, this flies against the credo of spreading the $$ around and not paying too much into one basket… but given (1) increased revenues just HAVE to come into play at some point (2) the Bucs really do benefit greatly from the defense and staff management of Martin, it is worth looking closely at this.

    My gut says no, but to me it all depends on how Tony Sanchez looks this year… if he is ready to take the next step in 2015, to lead this staff, then no, you let Russ go and use that $ elsewhere… we will have to replace Wandy and Liriano, for starters….

  28. Steelkings says:

    Side Bar: The following year, while I was at a Pirate City Practice, Wilson spotted me and said Hi. He then talked with me and Newbi Neil Walker.He had me explain to Walker what I knew about Indianapolis. Wilson is a very nice guy, as is Neil Walker. To this day Wilson remains my all time favorite Pirate.

  29. Superman, Man of Steel,

    THREE great stories!!!!!!

    Thanks for sharing!

  30. Pirates have secretly already started their negotiations with Russell Martin.

    They are using their “AJ Burnett shift” of negotiations——they offered Martin $8.5 million and told him that’s all there is.

  31. RobertoForever says:

    Minus many

    Maybe Russell is employing the AJ and Freddy Sanchez school of leaving – claim you only want the Piratess then require a contract offer from the Pirates that doesn’t match the role or the worth to the Pirates.

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