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Monday, June 27, 2016

Bucco Blog | Monday Mop-Up Duty: the core collapsed, now can it rebound?

Pirates notes.

>>Chad Kuhl accounted well for himself in his debut against Clayton Kershaw. He was competitive. His fastball sat between 95-97 mph. He has a live arm. His secondary stuff lags behind his fastball and it’s in part why he didn’t put up monster strikeout numbers at the minor league level. He lived up to his Baseball Prospectus scouting report:
“Kuhl would have an above-average fastball just based on velocity (he sits in the low 90s), but what makes it a plus pitch is that there’s a tremendous amount of sink to it. He’s got the stuff to be a groundball machine, and the power of his fastball/sinker allows it to miss bats.

Kuhl also throws a slider and a change, and while those pitches lag behind the sinking fastball by a considerable margin, they’re both usable. The slider is another groundball pitch with late tilt, but doesn’t have depth and isn’t going to be a swing-and-miss offering at the big-league level. The change offers a bit of tumble, but it lacks firmness and there’s a slight difference in arm speed when throws it. They’re both competent pitches, but neither pitch would get an above-average grade, unless you’re a very lenient grader.

Kuhl’s command isn’t elite, but he’s generally in the strike zone, and he repeats his delivery well enough to suggest that the command and control should be big-league average as he matures physically and mentally.”

He looks like a big league arm, though not an impact one — unless the secondary stuff makes a jump.

Jim Furtado Posted: June 27, 2016 at 11:16 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: pirates

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Starting Nine: Should the Pirates consider trading face of the franchise McCutchen? | TribLIVE

They won’t get full value if they trade him now.

Jim Furtado Posted: June 26, 2016 at 08:43 AM | 9 comment(s)
  Beats: andrew mccutchen, pirates

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Liriano’s struggles continue in loss to Cardinals | TribLIVE

Liriano and the Pirates catchers aren’t doing too well.

The Pirates pushed back Liriano’s start to Saturday, in part to allow him extra time to work on fixing some mechanical issues with pitching coach Ray Searage. Liriano entered with an unsightly 5.25 ERA, which was actually third best among Pirates starters.

Searage said he saw progress from Liriano in bullpen work over the last week. He said the focus was slowing down his “front-side” energy — in essence, Liriano was getting too quick in his delivery, making his timing and release point “erratic.”

But he was still not all the way back in dominant form. Liriano was outpitched by Carlos Martinez, who limited the Pirates to one run and five hits in 8 1⁄3 innings. He threw 122 pitches, and most were of high quality. He hit 100 mph.

“I feel a lot better than last time,” Liriano said. “The (rhythm) is getting better. … I’m trying to stay calm, not trying to do too much.”

Jim Furtado Posted: June 12, 2016 at 08:53 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: francisco liriano, pirates

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Gerrit Cole exits game with “right triceps tightness”

Trainers told Cole that the worst time to evaluate injury is immediately after activity, so they will take a more extensive look at the injury Saturday.

Cole said this is not an injury he has experienced before. Although he felt fine the first two innings, he could tell something was off with his right arm in the third—it wasn’t responding like he wanted it to.

Apparently it finally dawned on MLB teams that the world was into the fact that “forearm tightness” means “impending Tommy John surgery,” and so they cleverly came up with a cunning new stratagem: Let’s call it triceps tightness! They’ll never suspect a thing!

More seriously though, the Pirates don’t seem to be going out of their way to put forth an optimistic front here. If Cole really is done until 2018, well… it was a fun run.


Thursday, June 09, 2016

Pirates have pivoted away from pitching in recent draft selections | TribLIVE

Because of the epidemic of Tommy John surgeries in the professional game and the increased amount of pitching prospects with medical red flags — many believe the trends are tied to sport specialization and the showcase circuit — have the Pirates made a turn in philosophy?

Have they elected to reduce risk and target position players over pitchers with premium picks?

“It’s simply how the board has played out, the players we felt had the best potential impact to us,” Huntington said. “It just so happened (it’s been) position players recently, with pitching going prior to that. It’s not a lean one way or the other.

“We’re seeing more and more injuries with position players as well as pitchers. A lot has been made of pitchers, 14- and 15-year-olds that are having Tommy John, and ‘What is the shelf life of a Tommy John surgery?’ But there are an awful lot of position players that are coming through and getting beat up. High school position players that are beat up. College position players that are beat up. It’s not just pitching. … There are many more position players that are coming through with medicals that are getting your attention (than) in the past.”

Jim Furtado Posted: June 09, 2016 at 09:56 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: amateur draft, pirates

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

MLB Rookie Report: Jameson Taillon, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates - Minor League Ball

Taillon made 10 starts for Triple-A Indianapolis before moving up today and was terrific, posting a 2.04 ERA in 61.2 innings with a spectacular 61/6 K/BB, allowing a mere 44 hits. The numbers are impeccable; indeed, they are considerably better than anything Taillon did before he got hurt. The scouting reports back all that up: his 93-96 MPH fastball is fully restored, the big curve is there, and his change-up has improved significantly compared to where it was three years ago. His command of all three pitches is better, too

Jim Furtado Posted: June 08, 2016 at 09:43 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: jameson taillon, pirates

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Pirates’ Jameson Taillon will start Wednesday | MLB.com

That was quick.

Jim Furtado Posted: June 07, 2016 at 02:14 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: jameson taillon, pirates

Monday, June 06, 2016

Neil Walker returns to Pittsburgh as a Met with no regrets | Newsday

For most of his adult life, Neil Walker existed as a living, breathing anachronism, a hometown kid making good in his own backyard. For 11 seasons, he stood in stark relief against the mercenaries who represent the norm in professional sports, his black and gold Pirates uniform a reminder of a charmed existence.

So when that changed this past offseason with a trade to the Mets, he needed time to process the end of an era. “I felt a bit slighted,” said Walker, who returns to Pittsburgh on Monday for the first time as a Met. “I thought, ‘Wow, they don’t want me around here anymore.’ ”

Jim Furtado Posted: June 06, 2016 at 08:34 AM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: mets, neil walker, pirates

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Barry Bonds: mea culpa

Barry Bonds in an interesting interview:

“Yes, Bonds was surly, angry, dismissive, grumpy, rude, obnoxious, nasty, selfish, ungrateful and combative toward many people during his 22 seasons through 2007 with the Pittsburgh Pirates and the San Francisco Giants. But given my interactions with him, that wasn’t the real guy, and guess who was responsible for such a misconception?

“Me. It’s on me. I’m to blame for the way I was [portrayed], because I was a dumbass. I was straight stupid, and I’ll be the first to admit it,” said Bonds, nodding in the visitors’ dugout at Turner Field last week, when he was in Atlanta during his first year as the hitting coach for the Miami Marlins. “I mean, I was just flat-out dumb. What can I say? I’m not going to try to justify the way I acted toward people. I was stupid.”

Howie Menckel Posted: June 01, 2016 at 01:30 PM | 109 comment(s)
  Beats: giants, pirates

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Bucco Blog | Monday Mop-Up Duty: Who’s out when the music stops ?

They aren’t all coming up this year. At least they aren’t all pitching in the rotation this year.

What you have to like if your office is on Federal Street, or if you’re a fan of the club, is that not only do the Pirates have the third best record in the NL, they have three of the International League’s top nine ERA leaders: Chad Kuhl leads the IL in ERA (1.03), Jameson Taillon is fourth (1.82), and Tyler Glasnow (2.25) is ninth.
Hurdle and Neal Huntington have said the young arms will arrive as starting pitchers, not bullpen help.

Jim Furtado Posted: May 31, 2016 at 07:07 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: pirates

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

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