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Monday Mop-Up Duty: Polanco-palooza

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MIAMI – I wondered in this space earlier this month if Gregory Polanco could be Yasiel Puig.

No, he’s not going to be a demonstrative, serial bat-flipper like Puig, but could Polanco be the rare type of impact rookie that helps turn around a season? Impact rookies are unusual but after observing Polanco’s first week we might just be witnessing the rare type of player who is above average – and maybe great – from his first days in the show. If you had any doubts, Polanco should have erased them. He’s special.

Polanco’s game-winning home run Friday was special. It was the highlight of week. The laser shot that landed over the 392 ft. marker in right-center at Marlins Park left his bat at 107.2 mph. He demonstrated his batspeed and power with the swing. He also displayed his speed as the long-strider somehow had rounded first before the ball touched down. (He also had three infield singles in his first week).

I’m a numbers guy. I appreciated objective data as much as the next nerd.  But with small sample sizes I always feel it is important to trust subjective notions over raw data, though 12 hits in his first six games isn’t bad.

For example, as impressive as Polanco’s home run was perhaps more so was his approach on Friday.

Marlins lefty Mike Dunn, in showing an ultimate sign of respect to a rookie, came at Polanco with six straight sliders in the 13th inning. Polanco took a couple sliders out of the zone for balls, he fouled away a couple sharp breaking balls. He worked a 2-2 count when the sixth straight slider hung over the plate …  the rest is a cool moment in Pirates’ history.

The home run was a loud byproduct of a great approach. Consider the approach from a 22-year-old in his fourth major league game: he didn’t try to do too much, he didn’t try to jump and ambush a fastball. He wasn’t guessing, trying to predict when Dunn would throw a fastball. Said Polanco: “I just kept fighting and fighting.”

He let the natural batspeed and leverage takeover when Dunn made a mistake. Polanco was actually looking opposite field, he said.

There’s also this: Polanco covered everything from an 88 mph slider in the 13th inning, and an 86 mph slider from Nathan Eovaldi in the fifth – also ripping it to right for a single – to a 98 mph Eovaldi fastball that Polanco laced into left field for a single in the first inning Friday. Polanco demonstrated he can barrel up a variety of pitches and velocity. He demonstrated he will stay within himself even in key moments.

Then there’s the loud tools. We saw the power on Friday – he also launched a batting practice shot into the second deck in right field. And on Sunday we saw the speed as he scored from first on a Starling Marte double to left and made routine infield groundballs must-see television. I understand now why Rene Gayo said Polanco is a like a Jim Thome … that can run. If he was raised in the states, he’d be an NFL wide receiver. Again, a truly unique talent. Basically he’s come as advertised.

polancslide

Yeah, but about those outfield routes …

While Polanco arrived technically on Tuesday with the call-up he might have really arrived on Friday night – as a player who can impact the rest of the season.

 

STARTING NINE THOUGHTS …

9. Returning to .500 – at least for a day – has never felt so good for the Pirates. There was a different atmosphere in the clubhouse after the club reached the break-even point for the first time Saturday since April 17. There’s been a different energy with Polanco around. Polanco has offered both hype and hope.

Amazing how quickly the perception of a team can change and Polanco has a lot to do with that, adding an immediate impact while lengthening the lineup.

 

9a. It is the offensive surge that has allowed the Pirate to climb out of an eight-games-below .500 hole since May 1, going 24-17 with the NL’s best OBP in that span (.351) and second best batting average (.279).

The offensive surge is surprising in the context that it was pitching and defense that carried the club to their first winning season in two decades last year. But the Pirates’ pitching staff entered Saturday last in baseball in Wins Above Replacement. The Pirates’ defensive efficiency — the number of batted balls converted to outs — has fallen from an elite level last season to 25th in the game.

Now can the Pirates get that pitching and defense back?

 

8. Perhaps somewhat lost in Polanco-palooza  is that Andrew McCutchen is looking like a back-to-back MVP contender. He’s been incredible this month. In June, he’s leading baseball in extra-base hits and total bases. The three-run bomb on Saturday? Man, those are lightning quick hands glued to a quick-twitch core. Special. The running catch? Just stop it.

 

7. That’s an MLB-worst 13 blown saves by the bullpen and an MLB-worst 15 errors by Pedro Alvarez. Both issues have become chronic.

 

6. Dream outfield,  indeed. (And it’s under club control through 2018. Very special situation).

 

5. Really encouraging news regarding Gerrit Cole. He’s passed the stress tests, he’s thrown a partial and full bullpen without issue. If he completes a sim game on Wednesday he could be back in the rotation for the next road trip. That means Vance Worley, Brandon Cumpton and Jeff Locke could be fighting for two rotation spots until Francisco Liriano returns.

 

4. Speaking of Russell Martin what is a contract extension going to take?

If you average out the Brian McCann/Carlos Ruiz/Yadier Molina deals you get an AAV of 13.6 million. Martin will want multiple years. The Pirates won’t go beyond three. So 3y/$39  million? I think that might get it done. And I think the Pirates really need to keep Martin.

 

3. Josh Harrison was back in the lineup Saturday and made a play to the left of second while shifting a right-handed hitter. Can he consistently make plays on the left side of the infield?

 

2. Two straight quality starts from Charlie Morton who had a 9-to-2 groundball-to-flyball ratio on Saturday. That’s more like electric stuff.

 

1. Let’s talk about Vanimal.

Couple things about Vance Worley. He got the nickname “Vanimal” from his college strength as a testament to his unusual work ethic. He wears the athletic glasses because he’s unable to wear contact lenses. And he absolutely shredded both sides of the plate in throwing seven shutout innings on Sunday.

Earlier last week I raised concerns about the Pirates’ pitching depth but Locke and Worley offered encouraging signs in Miami.

Worley now has a 48-to-4 strike-to-walk ratio in 53 profession innings. More magic from Jim Benedict? Keep in mind Worley is only 26 and was 17-12 with a 3.60 ERA for the Phillies from 2011-12.

 

STAT OF THE WEEK: .990 

McCutchen’s OPS after Saturday’s game, which would be a career best — and a third straight season of .900+ OPS. Don’t take this for granted, Pittsburgh

 

STAT OF THE WEEK II: 1,002

Career games caught by Martin. I still think there is gas in the tank.

 

HE SAID IT

“It was my best game ever.”

- Polanco on his 5-for-7 night with a game-winning home run. You know what? He’s probably not kidding. He could play 20 years and not have another game like that.

 

HE SAID IT II:

“That could be a coming out party for him”

Hurdle on Polanco’s Friday. Indeed.

 

NON-BASEBALL RECOMMENDATION OF THE WEEK

If you’re ever in Fort Lauderdale, Coconuts has a great New England Lobster Boil and it’s right on the inter-coastal. If in Miami, the state park on Key Biscayne, just south of downtown, is worth the trip and $4 admission.

- TS

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Comments

  1. Russell Martin still does have some gas in the tank. But I don’t think he has 3 years worth of gas.

  2. cmat0829 says:

    Pirates HAVE to sign Martin, he is THAT important to this team in many ways. 3 yrs. $39M would FIT within the Pirates payroll over that stretch I THINK, though it may mean either Walker or Pedro won’t be re-signed when the time comes (My vote is for Pedro to go on his way….).

    If we have to pay Russ $13M, it is only a raise of $4.5M or so from what he makes this year… and that can easily be absorbed.

    In 2015, it looks like there would be room also to go ahead and get a starting pitcher as well.

    Projected 2015 Payroll:
    Cutch $10M
    Charlie $8M
    Pedro $8M (estimate thru Arbitration)
    Neil $8M (estimate thru Arbitration)
    Melancon $5M (estimate thru Arbitration)
    Ike $5M (estimate thru Arbitration)
    Tabata $4M
    Watson $3M (estimate – Arb)
    Gaby $2.5M (estimate – Arb)
    Stewart $2.5M (estimate – Arb)
    Hughes $2M (estimate – Arb)_
    JayHey $2M (estimate – Arb)
    Marte $1M
    Locke $.5M
    Mercer $.5M
    Wilson $.5M
    Cole $.5M
    Cumpton $.5M
    Polanco $.5M

    The above 19 players total $64M. If you add Russell at $13M, that brings it to $77M. The rest of the bullpen would be filled with $1M or less pitchers most likely. You’d also need a backup infielder to replace Barmes, let’s plug in $3M for that player on the high side. That would leave the payroll at $84M. You could save $2M easily be jettisoning Stewart and plugging in Tony Montana as the backup C.

    So, at $82M, to me the Pirates could indeed spend another $10M or so on starting pitching, more likely another $15M. Not sure my arbitration estimates are right, maybe they are high for some spots….

    So, yes, give Martin his 3yr $39M… you will sacrifice Pedro in the process but so be it. if we replace Pedro with a cheaper option for 2017, we have the money to extend Neil also.

  3. NMR says:

    I have my doubts it would even take quite that much, cmat.

    Those three comparison players are superior hitters, in some cases significantly. I’m just not sure anyone has shown teams are willing to pay for defense, which I think we can agree is Martin’s biggest asset. Make him the QO and I think you could sign him for 3yr/$30m.

    But even if it does take $39m, they better make it happen.

  4. dennis g says:

    I think Pedro is going to be traded and I hope it is to the Yankees. They seem to be our best trading partners and maybe Pedro will be happier in New York. I have gotten over the silly hat and concede that he is working as hard as he can at becoming a ML third baseman but he just does not seem happy here.

  5. Nate83 says:

    +++ I was thinking the same thing. Martin not the same hitter as those 3 catchers. I was thinking 3/33 would get it done.

  6. Nate83 says:

    Not to jump the gun but where exactly is Worly in his career? Is he first year arbitration next year? Would the Pirates have 3 years of control of him after this year or just 2. Like I said it’s early but he could solve a lot of problems if indeed he is finding his 2010-2011 form. He admitted to being shocked that the Twins used him last year at the beginning of the year. He said he wasn’t right and had a few injuries he was deailing with. He might end up being one of the better dumpster dives :)

  7. NMR says:

    Great Blog, Travis.

    -Boy is Gregory Polanco fun to watch. Travis mentioned his ability to hit pitches in all locations, but I’ve actually been surprised that pitchers have yet to attack him in the one manner that seemed obvious from the beginning: up in the zone. His swing is tailor made for balls low, but it is difficult for anyone with that much length to square balls up when they’re elevated.

    -Cutch is good at baseball.

    -In order for Josh Harrison to be a shortstop over any length of time, I think the team has to consciously accept much less than average defense. Josh Harrison, SS, would represent a complete denial of the defensive issues this team has thus far.

    -Morton still looked like he was fighting his mechancis last start, but groundballs are amazing things.

    -It was only one start, but there hasn’t been a single Pirate pitcher this year demonstrate the kind of command Vance Worley showed yesterday. Really, really impressive. Guy has to stay.

  8. NMR says:

    Last year of pre-arb. Pirates control him for ’15, ’16, ’17.

    And yeah, if that kind of command is repeatable, that guy isn’t going anywhere. I think the difference between his first two years and his last shows he has a razor thin margin of error. But man, dude was putting the ball in a Dixie cup at will yesterday.

  9. MJS says:

    Travis,

    Nice job on the blog as always. When Walker comes off the DL the Pirates are going to have DFA/trade Barmes right, you then make Harrison your super sub at 2nd, SS, and 3rd. He can get at least 2-3 starts a week rotating between those positions. I think the Pirates more than anything need to keep the bench Harrison, Sanchez, Snider, Tabata, and Stewart. In order for the Pirates to continue winning there going to need the offense and there bench is one of the best pinch hitting teams in the league. I think the Detroit Tigers would take him off their hands for cash and pay the rest of his salary. What are your thoughts on what they should do?

    (Nate83 the Pirates control Worley rights for 4 more seasons.)

  10. Andrew says:

    Two years and 33 days of service time. Worley also has no options left, so when Cole comes back Locke or Cumpton will draw the short straw just because of the options.

    I didn’t see any of yesterday’s game, but it appears Worely pitched well, got some whiffs and a couple pop outs. Could be interesting going forward. I’m also interested in Locke who seems to have relied exclusively on fastball and change-up in his limited starts. Not much of the knuckle curve, but some that is because he has faced only 3 LHHs.

  11. Andrew says:

    I’m also bearish on Russell Martin’s offense ability going forward. Giving Martin $13 million/year is paying him for what he has done, not what he will do.

  12. BostonsCommon says:

    Is it fair to look at the team’s record when Martin starts vs when he sits?

  13. Andrew says:

    You can, I’m not a big fan of it. My issue is not what Martin has brought, which I fully appreciate especially with some of the dregs the Pirates have had behind the plate in last few years. It is giving a 32 year old catcher who is a league average hitter at best a three year contract that pays him like his better hitting counterparts.

  14. Nate83 says:

    +++ I was always more for offering him just 2 years but realize it will probably take 3 years to get him. 13 million per seems high to me and really could come back to hurt the team down the road if indeed he starts to decline. He keeps himself in great shape but catchers just start to slow down around this time in their career.

    That being said I can’t imagine this team without him. Maybe you do something stupid realizing the 3rd year is more then likely dead money. Large market teams do it all the time with much larger sums of money.

  15. NMR says:

    I think it is generally a bad idea to trade the only shortstop on your team.

  16. NMR says:

    Certainly understand your point, Andrew, and I’m not expecting you to back it with a plan. But if the Pirates use your logic, they sure as hell better have one.

    It would show a complete lack of objective to lose Martin due to a value-based assessment without replacing him with an equivalent. And there’s no way that guy is currently in the organization or a 2015 free agent.

  17. Nate83 says:

    I personally don’t wan’t to see Barmes go anywhere but I amittingly value defense more then most fans. I don’t see any reason to keep 5 outfielder that can only play outfield + Harrison. I would think Snider has about a week left on the Pirates and then he will be waived unless Tabata is getting some interest in a trade the brings back a good return.

    Really a crazy season so far this year for the Pirates. If you would have told me Wandy was off the team. Liriano had 1 win, they lead the league in blown saves, they had one of the worse defenses in the league and Locke, Cumpton and Worley would all be in the starting rotation I would have never believed you that they were only 1 game below .500.

  18. BostonsCommon says:

    I wouldn’t mind seeing Tabata get dealt. I don’t know if he’d bring anything back, but I’d like to see him get a chance with another team. He’s never really been a malcontent. Most teams won’t want his salary as a 4th OF, but there’s gotta be someone who’d try to start him?

  19. Rich says:

    Why not move Alvarez to 1st base and put Harrison at 3rd base when Walker comes off the DL? Ike Davis is not the answer in the middle nor is Gabby.

  20. NMR says:

    I think it depends on how strict you are with those definitions.

    There are plenty of teams who’d pay that kind of salary for a guy they plan on giving +/-300 PA. That’s not a starter, but also not traditionally a 4th outfielder.

    Very rarely do teams have three starters and only those three starters for the majority of a baseball season.

  21. BostonsCommon says:

    Fair points.

    I think teams that are conscious of their budget would try to replicate Tabata’s production with a league minimum, internal bat.

    Maybe someone like Toronto, or Baltimore, or Seattle would want to bring him and to add OF depth. Or even Houston. Their roster is full of league min bats, and I’m not sure Grossman or Preseley will be the answer for the 3rd OF.

    Either way, the point is that NH should be able to move him somewhere, for something.

  22. MJS says:

    NMR how about Jordy the STARTING shortstop. Barmes is a typical over the hill veteran on the Pirates that Hurdles loves (Inge, Macdonald etc) he provides nothing pinch hitting (see last night bases loaded) and when Walker comes back Harrison will be the taking all the spot starts at 3rd, SS, and 2nd. Barmes will be relegated to the 25th man which in my opinon are better off going with Snider, he actaully has shown to be a good pinch hitter in his career which is what you want out of the bench guys. There are plenty of teams that carry 5 outfielders especially if there your best pinch hitters.

  23. Nate83 says:

    Because you have to play the what if game all the time. What if Mercer gets hurt or slumps back to batting .150 over a 20 game period. In my opinion any team that plans on competing for a playoff spot can’t have Josh Harrison playing shortstop for any continued amount of time. At worse you have Harrison, Tabata and Ike/Gaby for pinch hitting. I don’t think many teams treat their 25th man as a pinch hit specialist but instead a defensive late inning substitute.

  24. Nate83 says:

    But at what cost. I don’t think they just want to get something for him back. I think they see value in him as a player especially if Marte/Cutch/Polanco get hurt. If you trade him you possible leave yourself exposed to a huge drop in play if one of those players miss extended time. If Decker or Lambo or even Rojos have nice second halves in the minors I could see them feeling comfortable trading Tabata during this offseason but this year I don’t think they have enough other quality options to plug holes in case of injuries.

  25. BostonsCommon says:

    FWIW here’s your list of ’15 FA catchers:

    John Buck (34)
    Ryan Doumit (34)
    Nick Hundley (31) – $5MM club option
    Gerald Laird (35)
    Russell Martin (32)
    Jeff Mathis (32) – $1.5MM club option
    Wil Nieves (36)
    Miguel Olivo (36)
    A.J. Pierzynski (38)
    David Ross (38)
    Geovany Soto (32)
    Kurt Suzuki (31)

  26. BostonsCommon says:

    I agree, Nate. But then you’re going to DFA Snider for nothing, who is probably the better bench bat at this point.

    With the big three now finally in place and set to play regularly, I think that might be the choice: Carry Tabata in case of injury (who is a walking injury himself), or Snider as a left PH.

  27. NMR says:

    The STARTING shortstop, Jordy Mercers, stinks.

  28. NMR says:

    “I think teams that are conscious of their budget would try to replicate Tabata’s production with a league minimum, internal bat.”

    Absolutely agree with this.

    But how many teams can actually do it?

    There’s the void Tabby can fill.

  29. Nate83 says:

    That’s fair Boston. I don’t agree that Snider is better then Tabata in anything involving a baseball but understand the view and I think you are not alone in having that view. I know Snider has good numbers pinch hitting this year but I can’t ignore his career in it’s entirity. I assume if he has hit good as a pinch hitter so far this year that he will be horrible the rest of the year because……..well……he’s Travis Snider and baseball has a way of leveling out over the season.

  30. Andrew says:

    The qualifying offer is key, but it is far from a panacea for suppressing Martin’s market, if a team needs a catcher and their pick is protected or they plan on signing more than one free agent with a QO the offer doesn’t help that much.

    The Pirates will be bidding against teams were Martin’s fastball hunting plate approach is more valuable. (He is not going to hit .364 wOBA rest of season.) While I might be crucified for this, I haven’t completely given up on Tony Sanchez, especially in light of how much Travis d’Arnuad has struggled and Mike Zunino struggled last year, two catchers who are much more highly rated as ascend through the high minors. But Sanchez might be approaching Jesus Montero territory, and the Pirates supposed willingness to go three years with Martin says a lot.

    That said, if the Pirates cannot afford 3/30 or 3/33 for Martin, maybe they should pack it up and go home.

  31. MJS says:

    That defensive sub worked real well for them yesterday in the 8th. Harrison actually can defend at second but stubborn old Hurdle puts his guy Barmes in for his so called great “defense” and of course the bases are loaded with two outs and up comes Barmes who is by no means clutch. Barmes defense is average anymore Nate83 please stop overvaluing him, I could understand if he was Simmons like in the field but he’s not Mercer has a stronger arm and has gotten a lot better at defense from actually playing.

  32. Nate83 says:

    I can’t tell if I dislike Snider more then you dislike Mercer. It’s probably a pretty close race. I hope Mercer is still in the middle of the race and can play well enought to change your mind.

  33. likeabugonarug says:

    For SS – think Rollins would look good fitting in here? We need an improvement, and now that he has the Phil’s hits record has said he’d be willing to listen about being traded. Think he might be good in the 5th or 6th spot? Or 2nd if Marte’s improvement is a short time thing. Alone, he wouldn’t be worth it. But, on this team, he might be the piece needed to round out the infield and should definitely improve the lineup.

    Yea, he’ll take prospects, but if you want to talk playoffs, he’s one guy I think you’d want to go grab.

    Kevin

  34. Nate83 says:

    I don’t know. He has only batted above .252 1 time in the last 6 years and that was .268 in 2011. He also had a huge drop in power last year. His power has came back this year and he is drawing a lot of walks so maybe there is some value there, but I can’t imagine the Phils can get that much for him at this point. I would think it’s a salary dump more then anything. I can see the Tigers or some other desperate large market will be willing to overvalue him and take a chance which will price the Pirates out of the running.

  35. NMR says:

    My goodness is that incorrect.

  36. Andrew says:

    Travis Snider brings very little. I am not going to declared Snider anything based on 34 pinch hit at bats. Jose Tabata is a better hitter than Travis Snider, Snider has .708 OPS and 91 wRC+ against RHP. Tabata’s numbers are .712 and 101 wRC+. What is the point of having a left handed bench bat who cannot hit RHP at a league average level?

    Also can Snider play anywhere other than right? Are we really going to keep Snider around because Tabata has some value on the trade market. David DeJesus a better player than Tabata on a similar contract brought back Matthew Spann, almost a non-prospect. Maybe Snider can fetch some bonus pool money.

  37. Dcpinpgh says:

    Do you think tony Sanchez can play 1st or 3rd?

  38. NMR says:

    Ha, I don’t dislike Jordy at all, fwiw.

    I think he’s been much improved with the glove this year. He’s absolutely played passable defense. Unfortunately, his bat hasn’t been anything Barmes couldn’t do himself.

  39. Nate83 says:

    I agree Mercer has gotten better but just look at their footwork and how they approach balls and release them. It’s effortless for Barmes. He makes plays that average shortstops would just field and eat because the guy would be safe. You are correct he is not Simmons. He is not 1 of the top 2 defensive shortstops in the league. Nobody was asking him to be or claiming he was but he is lightyears ahead of Jordy (who by the way I like more the most fans). Just calling them how I see them.

  40. Nate83 says:

    Yes on first no on third. The question is can he hit for enough power to have it make sense. If he is a 15 HR max guy then I don’t see the value as anymore then a bench player at first base and maybe right field if he can learn that position and play like 10 games a year. Currently he has to improve greatly on defense at catcher to even be worth having as a backup catcher. That is at least 25-30 games a year and that is too many games to have that big of a defensive liability at the most important position defensively on the field.

  41. Nate83 says:

    Do you think the book is closed on him as a hitter or do you think he can become a .260/.325 type guy? If so is that good enough to become a super utility guy? I know you don’t like his value against right handers and noticed his splits earlier then most.

  42. NMR says:

    +Andrew

  43. BostonsCommon says:

    I think it’s much more likely that Sanchez improves his defense as a catcher, specifically routine throws to 1B and 2B, and sticks in the majors.

    Asking him to become a competent defender at a position he’s never played hardly seems fair, or wise for that matter. Besides, he’s close to being a major league catcher right now.

  44. Nate83 says:

    But I don’t think he is close. He is all over the place behind the plate. It’s just not the throws. He stabs at balls he doesn’t feel or seem very smooth at all. He seems to be a decent athlete. I don’t see why we couldn’t learn to play first base. You don’t want to give up anything defensively but it a lot less noticable and harmful at first then it is at catcher.

  45. NMR says:

    Nah, definitely don’t think the book is closed on him as a hitter.

    I think he’s developed some bad habits that certainly could be fatal flaws such as pounding everything he sees into the ground, but I can’t give up on him with less than 1000 PA.

    I just go back to the fact that he was never seen as an everyday big league shortstop in the minors. He’s gonna have to prove that wrong. And I cannot see any way one can claim he’s done that so far.

  46. NMR says:

    Yeah, I cannot agree with this more, Nate.

  47. NMR says:

    And the defensive issues are compounded by the fact that he has far from proven he’s got a major league caliber bat.

  48. Nate83 says:

    Very good point about his expectation coming up through the system. The fact that he is our starting shortstop says more about the FO inability to find somebody to play that spot then it does about Mercer who was never intended to be an everyday first baseman. Kudos to him for opening eyes last year and looking like a possible option but as you point out correctly that was based on a majority at bats that they decided when to play him. Alexei Rameriz sure would look nice as the Pirates shortstop right now. I think for the right price he was available last year but it was a horrible trade market.

  49. Nate83 says:

    I’m not sure why this ended up in this spot. It was in response to NMR comment above.

  50. Travis Sawchik says:

    Andrew,

    I believe his skills of pitch-framing, – sequencing and controlling the running game will age well.

    The bat? Probably not.

    But I think he can produce 6 WAR over his Age 32-33-34 seasons. And that’s a market value of around $36 million.

    My biggest concern is whether he’ll become more injury prone.

  51. NMR says:

    Yeah, I don’t necessarilly blame them for giving Mercer a shot this year, but they cannot claim to be a serious contender if he’s the every day shortstop (playing like this) in August.

  52. Travis Sawchik says:

    Thanks, gents

    Pirates drop in defensive efficiency is one of the bigger surprises to me this season…from elite to 25th in baseball.

    And, yes, Vanimal’s command was insane on Sunday

  53. Travis Sawchik says:

    I think Tony Sanchez has to stick at catcher…. I don’t think he projects to have enough bat to start at either corner, although, I could see him becoming a sort of C/3B/1B super sub. Like a poor man’s Carlos Santana

  54. Nate83 says:

    Now if he could play the guitar like Carlos Santana we may be onto something of value.

  55. NMR says:

    *coughRYANDOUMITcough*

  56. LonelyLibertarian says:

    The march back to [near] .500 was fun to watch – and Ike Davis mostly watched…

    Wonder what Cutch could do if there was a legit hitter batting fourth.

    I might be wrong – but I am pretty sure Huntingon has been trying since the end of spring training to get something in return for Tabata and Snyder – they are still on the roster because they have no trade value.

  57. LonelyLibertarian says:

    Which is why I would like to see them try and limit his games a bit – 5 starts a week – and use Tony Sanchez to take up the slack – and be a nice bat off of the bench. The money saved by not having Stewart or someone like him back up could help close the deal.

    The other approach could be to base the the third year on games played in years one and two.

    But yes – some way to manage the risk of a 3 year deal is going to be important for a team like the Bucs if they are going to resign him.

  58. dcpinpgh says:

    if, IF you sign Martin to a 3 year deal. Then sitting Sanchez is a waste of an asset. His OPS is just sub 700(limited sample) and Pedro is mid 700 and Ike is low 700. None of them are World Beaters. I would say, one of those guys become an off season trade chip. Two of those guys would counter the pay increase of Martin

  59. Piglegs Robinson says:

    Speaking of Ryan Doumit, has anyone ever checked out Fangraphs rankings of catchers pitch framing on a season by season basis?
    Doumit came up as the the most consistently awful pitch framer in every season they studied.

  60. NMR says:

    Immediately lends credibility to the entire concept of tracking pitch framing. ;)

  61. NMR says:

    Plus command with marginal swing and miss becoming a market inefficiency?

    Hudson, Lohse, Zimmerman, Colon, Fister all will never make as much as Tim Lincecum will this year.

  62. NMR says:

    It’s also difficult to isolate command from control. Might be a reason some of these guys go underappreciated.

  63. Sisyphus says:

    You really don’t want the only backup shortstop on the team to be awful defensively, and that pretty much describes Harrison’s defense at short.

  64. Sisyphus says:

    Mercer’s OPS is .816 in June. If his OPS from June 1 to the end of the season isn’t north of .700, I’ll eat my hat, and it will probable be even higher than that. We do not have a hole at shortstop.

    I reserve the right to use salt a pepper on my hat.

  65. Steelkings says:

    Im going to assume that the Marlins didnt have a lot of info on Worley. Lets let the jury remain out on him for a while until the advance scouts get a few new looks.

  66. Steelkings says:

    Half of Sniders pinch it at bats end after the first pitch. With that said…Good bye mister Wilson.

  67. Bizrow says:

    4 years 40 million, for Martin

  68. NMR says:

    From 5.31 to 6.06, Jordy Mercer hit .500/.522/.818 and racked up 22% of his hits and two of his four home runs.

    Before that he hit .199/.234/.274…after that he’s hit .220/.233/.415.

  69. Nate83 says:

    Is that your guess for the Pirates or for somebody else to pay him for his services?

  70. Nate83 says:

    I’m a Mercer fan but I think you may want to go buy some salt and pepper and maybe a new hat to replace your other one.

  71. Andrew says:

    I’ve coming around to the idea that Martin must be resigned, I just struggle to get past the idea that right player is rarely in his 30s. A Ruiz like contract with a higher average annual value and forth option year might be the way to go. Valuing catchers is hard, like the numbers but I don’t know what to make of catcher WAR.

    Lonely, no one uses the backup catcher as a bench bat.

  72. Andrew says:

    When the Pirates signed Martin, wasn’t the knock against Sanchez that his bat wasn’t not major league ready? He barely hit after his promotion to AAA.

  73. NMR says:

    For the most part, you’re right, Andrew. And that should be a lesson in trusting prospect reports. We quite literally saw that the organization didn’t trust him behind the plate last summer, and yet glowing reports of his defense were written once again in the writeups this winter.

    FWIW, Keith Law has questioned Sanchez’s defense for years.

  74. NMR says:

    I was fully on board with you heading into this spring.

    I felt that while Martin’s impact on defense was undeniable, a lot was being made of a WAR value that was going to be extremely difficult, if not impossible to repeat.

    I figured there was a good chance Tony Sanchez and a suitable backup could work out a reasonable alternative for about 1/5 of Martin’s probable cost.

    I still agree with the logic, but I don’t trust the player. They either have to spend the money on Martin or prospects to bring in someone else, and I’ll always side with the money in that situation.

  75. Donald says:

    Ok, so this is a long way down the road, and contains some “what if’s”, but…. when Cole comes back I would assume Locke and Worley stay in the rotation, and Cumpton gets sent down. It will be a month before Liriano is back. What if both Worley and Locke are pitching great in that month? Let’s face it, Francisco is not the same guy in 2014 that we saw in 2013… and he won’t be in a Pirates uniform in 2015.

    Do you gauge some potential trade interest to a bubble team on what they would offer for Liriano? He could conceivably come back as the 6th best pitcher in the rotation. Of course, injuries happen, and either Locke or Worley could bomb…. but what if everything goes wonderfully and those guys are pitching lights out?? Those guys are more the future of the Pirates than Liriano, who has under performed.

  76. Andrew says:

    If I remember correctly last year, each time the Pirates had a pitcher ready to move into the rotation and it looked like they had too many pitchers, another starter went down injured. I’d cross that bridge when they come to it.

    I don’t think Liriano has been as bad as his ERA. Going forward assuming health, which is a big assumption, I don’t think his HR/FB% is going remain 15%. He is still getting strikeouts but has obviously struggled with command, his Zone% is down to its lowest level ever and is the lowest in baseball among starters

    A quick look at some Pitch/Fx stuff and it looks the cause is less change ups in the zone with similar chase rates and the same percentage of sliders in zone with a lower chase rate, which means more balls. The Pirates could have a decision to make, but maybe the decision will make itself.

  77. Nate83 says:

    +++ agree. When Liriano comes back more then likely somebody will either be playing bad or injured. If not then you move Worley or Locke to the bullpen and make a move in the bullpen. By then who knows maybe Grilli shows no improvment and just gets realeased. More then likely you just switch one of those guys out for Gomez.

 
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