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Pirates Newsbeat

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Cervelli extension locks up another Pirate long-term

The Pirates signed catcher Francisco Cervelli to a three-year contract extension that will keep him in Pittsburgh through the 2019 season, the team announced today.

The Pirates have Cervelli, Gerrit Cole, Gregory Polanco, Josh Harrison, Jung Ho Kang and Starling Marte all under contract through 2019.

Cervelli, 30, was going to reach free agency after this season.

The Pirates acquired Cervelli from the New York Yankees before the 2015 season. He hit .295 with a .370 on-base percentage, set career highs in games played and played good defense behind the plate while working well with the pitching staff. This year, Cervelli is hitting .276 with a .386 OBP and a 25/21 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 17, 2016 at 12:27 PM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: francisco cervelli, pirates

Monday, May 16, 2016

PIRATES’ GERRIT COLE: CUBS AREN’T THE BEST TEAM IN BASEBALL

When a reporter posed the question that Cole just shut down the best team in baseball, the Pirates pitcher politely corrected the statement:

“It’s just an opportunity to salvage the series,” Cole said. “I don’t really think they’re the best team in baseball.”

Of course, the Cubs are currently the best team in baseball - the only team still in the single digits in the loss column halfway through May.

The Cubs sit at 27-9 overall with a +109 run differential. In fact, their run differential was higher than the next two teams (Red Sox +58) and Cardinals (+46) combined entering play Sunday.

McCoy Posted: May 16, 2016 at 09:54 AM | 58 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, lalaland, pirates

Pirates notebook: Challenge protocol could be more efficient, Hurdle says | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

It’s not. Manager didn’t go out to argue every little thing. A great many challenges are fishing expeditions.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon doesn’t mind the wait, saying the system is “as good as it can be” at this point. He decided waiting 20 or 30 seconds to debate a challenge is better than the two or three minutes it might take for him to go out and argue a call.

Jim Furtado Posted: May 16, 2016 at 06:50 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: clint hurdle, pirates, replay

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Pirates Have Their Own Thoughts on Outfield Positioning | FanGraphs Baseball

The Pirates are always looking to improve.

Let’s run through a few possible explanations for why the Pirates may have mandated this shift. The first explanation is the easiest, and it might be all we really need: maybe the Pirates just thought McCutchen and the rest of the outfield was playing way too deep, regardless of particular circumstance. McCutchen was one of the most extremely positioned outfielders in the league, and any time a player is doing something that could be perceived as an outlier, it’s worth considering the motive for that behavior. Hurdle did mention that McCutchen is more comfortable coming in than going back, but evidently not so much to prevent a change.

But the more convincing explanations are those which consider the individuals at play. Like, for example, McCutchen’s never had the reputation of a strong-armed outfielder. Quite the opposite, in fact. Could be that putting McCutchen closer to the infield is a way to help mask his deficiencies with the arm. In 2014, according to data provided by Baseball Info Solutions, McCutchen had one of the worst throwing years by a center fielder on record. In 97 instances where a base-runner was deemed to have an opportunity to take an extra base on a ball hit to McCutchen, the runner did so 70 times. That 72% advancement rate was the second-worst on record by a center fielder, dating back to 2006. Only Denard Span‘s 75% advancement rate in 2009 was worse.

Jim Furtado Posted: May 11, 2016 at 08:05 AM | 33 comment(s)
  Beats: defense, pirates, sabermetrics, statcast

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Baseball close to canceling Puerto Rico trip because of Zika concerns

Players from the Pirates and Marlins banded together in recent days to let Major League Baseball know they want to move the two-game series at Hiram Bithorn Stadium to Miami instead, sources said, a view shared by some club officials and staff members as well. Despite the widespread implications – including a possible effect on league relations with Puerto Rico as well as opening a Pandora’s box for athletes leading up to the Summer Olympics in Brazil, another Zika-affected country – MLB is not expected to oppose the players’ choice, sources told Yahoo Sports….

It’s a lot to ask, certainly. After the players met with CDC officials in recent days and were told nobody could guarantee they would leave the island Zika-free, the concerns grew. Players answer to their families before anyone else, and the fear of birth defects among babies born to Zika-infected mothers rightfully scares those who plan on getting pregnant in the near future – particularly considering the disease can be transmitted sexually, and doctors believe it stays in men for months at a time. A study from French Polynesia’s outbreak of Zika in 2013 linking the virus to cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome, a disorder in which the immune system attacks the body’s nerves, further clouds a virus still shrouded in mystery.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 03, 2016 at 02:05 PM | 24 comment(s)
  Beats: international, marlins, pirates, puerto rico, zika

Monday, May 02, 2016

Francisco Cervelli’s framing an advantage for Pirates - SweetSpot- ESPN

The Pirates fully appreciate what he brings beyond his pitch presentation.

“It’s priceless,” pitching coach Ray Searage said. “Everything he does behind the plate—his execution and game calling—helps build the trust between him and the entire pitching staff. He has grown tremendously as a catcher in the two years he has been here.”

But Cervelli still feels as if he has more to do and more “love” to give.

“I feel like I’m not there yet,” he said. “I’m going to keep working until my very last day.”

Jim Furtado Posted: May 02, 2016 at 02:30 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: francisco cervelli, pirates, pitch framing

Friday, April 22, 2016

Pirates notebook: Hurdle uses unique method to measure offensive production | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

What, no points for getting their uniforms dirty?

The Pirates keep track of productive team plate appearances, a set of criteria that result in a positive outcome.

Players can earn one in eight different ways: a hit, a walk, an eight-pitch plate appearance, a hit-by-pitch, a sacrifice bunt, moving a runner from second to third, driving in a runner from third and the rare catcher’s interference.

Jim Furtado Posted: April 22, 2016 at 09:12 AM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: clint hurdle, pirates

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Marlins, Pirates players are worried about the Zika virus for upcoming Puerto Rico games

The virus, which can be transmitted via mosquitos, has not been transmitted in that fashion in the continental U.S., but there have been nearly 450 confirmed Zika cases contracted in Puerto Rico. The continental U.S. cases — over 350 of them — have all been tied to people traveling to places where there are outbreaks, such as Puerto Rico.

MLB and the union are talking with the players and are looking at Centers for Disease Control guidelines about how to ensure player safety and the prevention of birth defects to any children of players who may become affected. That includes guidelines about abstaining from reproductive sex for up to six months. But that’s obviously not the greatest comfort to some of the players:

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 21, 2016 at 02:27 PM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: international, marlins, pirates, puerto rico, zika virus

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Did Gregory Polanco sacrifice too much in his new deal with the Pirates? | FOX Sports

If. If. If.
Remember when the conversation was about Jon Singleton? “If Jon Singleton becomes a star his deal will end up well below-market.”
A player can’t spend the cash if things don’t turn out as well as pundits think.

But if Polanco becomes a star—or even a consistently productive regular—the deal will end up being well below-market, considering that he is giving up three free-agent years.

Polanco’s new contract runs from 2017 to ‘21. The annual breakdown is not yet known, but the two club options could increase the value to $58 million, according to a source. Escalators could bring the total number to $60 million, and Polanco will receive an additional $5 million if he qualifies for Super Two status, the source said.

Jim Furtado Posted: April 05, 2016 at 02:22 PM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: gregory polanco, pirates

Monday, April 04, 2016

Interpreting The Ray Searage Effect and All of Its Parts |

I just stumbled upon this. Good stuff.

Jim Furtado Posted: April 04, 2016 at 11:32 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: pirates, ray searage, sabermetrics

The Pitch Doctor: The secret to the Pirates’ success is Ray Searage | SI.com

They bring mattresses on road trips?

ne day in March, Jared Hughes, Pittsburgh’s 30-year-old setup man, was at his spring training locker in Bradenton, Fla., recounting his morning. He had awakened at 5:30, after nine hours of sleep; the Pirates, he said, value quality Z’s so much that a sleep consultant meets with players once a month, and the team takes players’ preferred mattresses and pillows on road trips. At the ballpark Hughes’s day began with mindfulness exercises designed by the resident mental coach. Then came breakfast: three scrambled eggs, sweet potatoes, turkey bacon, a small cup of fruit. “We have a couple of nutritionists,” Hughes said, “who are on top of what’s going to get you to perform at the highest level. A big thing now is beets….” Hughes suddenly stopped, and there it was: the moment in a conversation when a Pirates pitcher clams up, as if he’s about to betray the organization’s nuclear codes.

“Sorry,” he said. “I don’t want to give away any secrets.”

Jim Furtado Posted: April 04, 2016 at 09:14 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: pirates, ray searage

Source: Gregory Polanco, Pirates agree to five-year extension - Yahoo Sports

Gregory Polanco and the Pittsburgh Pirates agreed on a five-year contract extension with two club options that locks in the prime years of the young outfielder, something with which the Pirates have found significant success in recent years, a source with knowledge of the club’s dealings told Yahoo Sports.

The deal is believed to guarantee Polanco in the mid-$30 million range, the source said, and should be announced this week. Polanco rejected Pittsburgh’s seven-year, $25 million offer that included three club options before his major league debut in June 2014. In the season and a half since, the 24-year-old right fielder has shown flashes of the brilliance that made him one of baseball’s top prospects before his debut.

Jim Furtado Posted: April 04, 2016 at 06:26 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: gregory polanco, pirates

Thursday, March 31, 2016


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Pirates opt for new model for pitching reclamation projects | TribLIVE

“I’d love to sit here and tell you we have one model and acquire players to fit the model, but we don’t,” Huntington said during the offseason. “Jonathan might be of a different style than pitchers we acquired in the past. … But if you only stick to (one model) especially at the major league level, especially given how the market has evolved, you are really going to limit your options.”

Jim Furtado Posted: March 30, 2016 at 06:27 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: pirates

Locke on making Pirates rotation: ‘It’s news to me. It’s good news to me’ | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Not even when Jeff Locke passed a group of reporters as he walked off the field at Pirate City Tuesday did it occur to him why they might want to talk to him. Only after he threw another inning in the batting cage did he hear the news.

Asked when and how he heard he had earned a spot in the starting rotation, Locke said, “You just told me.”

Jim Furtado Posted: March 30, 2016 at 09:42 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: jeff locke, pirates

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Welcome to Pittsburgh, home of baseball’s most dynamic pitching laboratory | FOX Sports

All hail the Pirates’ Dr. Searage.

Jim Furtado Posted: March 29, 2016 at 08:31 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: pirates, pitching, ray searage

Sunday, March 27, 2016

End-game edge: Pirates, savvy MLB teams turn focus to bullpen | TribLIVE

All about relievers.

Jim Furtado Posted: March 27, 2016 at 08:44 AM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: pirates, relievers

Friday, March 25, 2016


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Harris hire part of Pirates’ continuing search for outside-the-box thinking | TribLIVE

According to the Washington Post, under Kelly and Harris, Eagles players’ morning routines included “soreness and mood surveys,” urine tests and results from heart rate readings. Some saw the practices as too intrusive. Players also were lectured on the importance of sleep and hydration, and the adverse effects of alcohol and marijuana.

“To us, success is all about the preparation,” Kelly wrote. “James was an integral part of what we were able to accomplish at both Oregon and in Philadelphia.”

The Pirates have taken notice. They have minor leaguers track their fluid intake and hydration. In 2014, the club introduced the Zephyr BioHarness on a volunteer basis into the major league clubhouse to monitor players’ heart rate. Mark Melancon has his blood analyzed, and is looking forward to working with Harris. Last spring, the Pirates reduced their players’ playing time after studying the rest patterns of the NBA’s Warriors.

Harris is working alongside Pirates trainer Todd Tomczyk and stretch coach Brendon Huttman, leaders of what the Pirates refer to as their “performance team.”

Tomczyk believes nutrition and exercise science transcends sport.

Jim Furtado Posted: March 23, 2016 at 09:55 AM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: nutrition, pirates

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Switch-pitcher Pat Venditte faced off against switch-hitter Antoan Richardson | MLB.com

Just kidding, there’s a rule for this exact scenario.

“A pitcher must indicate visually to the umpire-in-chief, the batter and any runners the hand with which he intends to pitch ... The pitcher is not permitted to pitch with the other hand until the batter is retired, the batter becomes a runner, the inning ends, the batter is substituted for by a pinch-hitter or the pitcher incurs an injury.”

In other words, the batter gets the final call. As Clint Hurdle told MLB.com’s Adam Berry, “It was a little bit comical. Because if anyone knows the rule, I think the pitcher does. He’s the only one. It’s not like you’ve got three or four guys working with this opportunity. It’s fun to watch.”

Jim Furtado Posted: March 22, 2016 at 08:25 AM | 22 comment(s)
  Beats: blue jays, pat venditte, pirates

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Pirates’ Juan Nicasio strikes out 10 in start | MLB.com

Nicasio struck out 10 of the 14 Orioles hitters he faced over four innings in Pittsburgh’s 9-3 loss at Ed Smith Stadium on Wednesday. The right-hander, signed to a $3 million contract in December, allowed one hit and extended his Spring Training scoreless streak to 10 innings.

Nicasio has one career 10-strikeout game, which came as a member of the Rockies against the Padres on July 31, 2011. He faced 28 batters in that game, compared to the 14 he faced Wednesday.

“That kind of outing will get your attention,” manager Clint Hurdle said.

The 29-year-old right-hander baffled many of the Orioles’ everyday hitters with an array of 92-95 mph fastballs and 85-86 mph sliders, occasionally mixing in a changeup to keep them off-balance.

“That’s pretty good stuff there. That was legit, OK?” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “Sometimes, you go, ‘Geez, we’re not swinging the bats well today.’ Well, sometimes it’s the pitcher.”

Jim Furtado Posted: March 16, 2016 at 07:29 PM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: juan nicasio, pirates

Figueroa using analytics, physics for edge in making Pirates’ roster

On Monday in Fort Myers, Fla., Figueroa made an outstanding play at third base, ranging far to his right to field a ball, then releasing an accurate throw from beyond the third-base line to first. In the following inning, he singled to center to raise his spring average to .350 (7 for 20).

But he’s also perhaps the most mathematically gifted player in the Grapefruit League. In clubhouses that still have varying degrees of resistance to new-age thought, Figueroa is using analytics, coding skills — yes, he writes his own computer code — and physics to give him an edge.

Figueroa long has been interested in mathematical principles.

eddieot Posted: March 16, 2016 at 01:55 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: pirates

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Ex-World Series hero David Freese finds new home in Pittsburgh

Ice to see you, Mr. Freese.

Freese is 32 years old and is more than adequate as a corner infielder. He is a World Series hero, though, he granted, from what seems, “forever ago.” He is a terrific guy to have around, a quality gaining favor again in light of the revelation not all numbers are the same.

So, yeah, with at least some residue of his prime remaining and his sport being more flush than it’s ever been, Freese stood in the middle of that thoroughfare. And rose the shade on his glass box. And waited. And watched the world go by.

“It’s been interesting to say the least, but I stayed patient,” he said. “I came into the offseason kinda looking around at the jobs, you know, and I was like, ‘Man, this could get interesting.’ So, I was prepared that if something didn’t happen fairly quick, I could be around for a little bit. There weren’t too many openings to be an everyday guy. A couple trades were made. Cleveland was an example, where they always wanted [Juan] Uribe. After that it was, ‘Here we go.’ I stayed patient.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 13, 2016 at 10:07 PM | 22 comment(s)
  Beats: david freese, free agency, pirates

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Pirates notebook: Outfielder Austin Meadows out indefinitely with orbital fracture in right eye | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Hopefully it won’t impact his vision.

Pirates prospect Austin Meadows, an outfielder drafted ninth overall in 2013, injured his right eye while playing catch Tuesday at Pirate City. Initial tests showed an orbital fracture, but he’ll have further testing early next week in Pittsburgh.

Trainer Todd Tomczyk said it is too early to give a timetable for Meadows’ return. Doctors will to wait for swelling to subside before deciding whether the injury requires surgery. “Every injury has its own identity,” he said.

Jim Furtado Posted: March 10, 2016 at 08:06 AM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: austin meadows, pirates

Monday, March 07, 2016

Figueroa takes calculated approach in hopes of making Pirates roster | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“I’m 28 — that’s the prime of a career,” he said. “Whatever gets me out there and playing. You want to help the team, not hurt it. If I’m out there and I can contribute in the outfield and the infield, that’s where I need to be. That’s fine with me.”

And if Figueroa ends up starting the season in the minors, he might spend the long bus rides catching up on reading. He likes the physics, geometry and analytics of baseball. He bought a book recently called ‘Analyzing Baseball Data with R.’ Or he might just memorize the next 50 digits.

“It’s almost Pi Day, by the way,” he said, referring to March 14. “Caught me a couple days early.”

Jim Furtado Posted: March 07, 2016 at 08:49 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: cole figueroa, pirates

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