SOUTH HILLS – I went into researching Sunday’s story on the dilemma for the Pirates that is Russell Martin’s free agency with the same position that many in the public hold: ‘The Pirates gotta sign this guy … Pay the man … He’s irreplaceable.’
Look, being around Martin nearly every day for two years, in speaking with him, his teammates and coaches, I learned to appreciate everything he brings to the table. We wrote about his hidden value, some of which became quantified (like pitch framing) but some of his other value is not measurable like pitch-sequencing, like the relationships he built with pitchers, allowing them to trust his game plans.We all witnessed the value of his bat in 2014, his throwing arm and his passion for the game. I voted him as the club’s MVP in the local BBWAA awards.
But how great will he be in, say, 2016? How will he age? Can the Pirates afford to be giving an aging catcher more dollars than Andrew McCutchen in 2017 and 2018? I hope the research got you thinking. It got me thinking. In fact, in got me talking to myself …
Continue reading Monday Mop-Up Duty: talking to myself about Russell Martin
SOUTH HILLS – We knew before and are reminded again this October that entry to baseball’s postseason as a wild card team is not a death sentence. Ideal? No, but it’s not an impossible obstacle.
Wild cards have been in existence in baseball since 1995. And for the sixth time in 20 years since the advent of the wild card, we’re guaranteed a wild card team will win the World Series. The Royals or the Giants will join the Marlins (1997 and 2003), Angels (2002), Red Sox (2004), and Cardinals (2011) as wild-card World Series winners.
(By comparison, since 1970 when the playoffs expanded to include wild cards in the NFL, only six wild card teams have won Super Bowls – and there’s been a lot more wild cards in the NFL, a sport that prides itself on touting parity.)
Moreover , five other wild card teams have advanced to the World Series and lost and the Royals or Giants will make it a sixth. So since 1995, 12 wild card teams have at least won a league pennant.
Continue reading Monday Mop-Up Duty: Another Wild (Card) World Series
SOUTH HILLS – I think we all understand Russell Martin is going to be a tough sign unless he gives a discount in years or dollars to the Pirates. And discounts are usually pipedreams in free agency. In an impending free agent class bereft of catchers, Martin stands alone as the only star-level or even starting-caliber talent. The Pirates have never given more than $17 million to a free agent (really) and that free agent was Martin. Martin reportedly turned down a midseason extension offer, according to John Heyman, from the Pirates.
I don’t want to get your Monday started off on a sour note but here is the list of potential 2015 free agent catchers: John Buck, Ryan Doumit, Nick Hundley, Gerald Laird, Martin, Jeff Mathis, Wil Nieves, Ronny Paulino, A.J. Pierzynski, David Ross and Geovany Soto. All of these catchers are deeply flawed outside of Martin, and many are advancing deep into their 30s. Moreover, teams aren’t likely to give away talented catchers with reasonable contracts cheaply in trades.
The good is news is prospects Elias Diaz (ETA 2016) and perhaps Reese McGuire (ETA Mid 2017/Early 2018) are coming. Still, the Pirates need a bridge to that homegrown talent. So if Plan B doesn’t exist in the free agent market what is the Plan B internally?
Continue reading Monday Mop-Up Duty: Is Stewart an adequate plan B?