Posts tagged ‘Pirates’

Scouting the Rays on 2/27/11

(Picture by Jonathan C. Mitchell)

-My favorite player to watch on the Rays was Robinson Chirinos. He was hitting lasers all over BP and hit a pinch-hit bomb over the palm trees in left. He keeps his weight back very well and transfers it at the right moment, maximizing his power. I didn’t get to see him behind the plate, though.

James Shields worked only one inning and gave up that laser shot to Andrew McCutchen on a pitch he left up and in the middle half. Otherwise, he looked ok, getting ahead of hitters and getting robbed on a called third strike to leadoff hitter Jose Tabata. It just happened to be the one pitch he left up got hit out.

-One guy that did well in BP was 24 year old Russ Canzler who hit 21 homers and 28 doubles in AA last year in the Cubs organization in only 355 at-bats. He has a lofty swing that also produced a lot of high fly balls and pop ups. His swing was fun to watch in BP but will drive a manager crazy in the Majors.

Matt Joyce appeared to be working on an opposite field stroke in BP and didn’t put on the show I expected, but I’m ok with that. I think he was trying to do the same in the game because he was getting pounded inside and looked like he was waiting for something on the outer half.

-Rays prospect Alex Torres got two innings of work in, showing a live fastball but not much command and had a problem putting hitters away. His delivery looks good, showing good balance and gets a lot of velocity from his legs and also keeps his head up the whole time, but his release point was inconsistent. He has some flaws that are workable and there is a lot to like about him.

Desmond Jennings was very patient at the plate, showing a very good eye and laying off of borderline pitches that early in the at-bat. He also showed off his speed, swiping second base with ease and chased a deep ball hit by Walker in the right-center field gap for a nice running catch. On the other hand he showed little to no power in BP and also lost a routine flyball in the sun while wearing sunglasses.

Justin Ruggiano looked bad at the plate, flailing at off-speed stuff down and away from starter Kevin Correia and showing little-to-no patience at the plate.

Casey Kotchman is the same as always. He did go 2-2 but one was a groundball on a hit and run that left a hole and the other was basically a bloop single. His swing is geared towards contact and looks slow to the naked eye.

-I don’t know what to make of Tim Beckham. He looked awful in warm-ups, booting roughly 20% of the routine balls hits to him. He lacked range to his right in the game, having to backhand a routine groundball that he should have been able to get in front of. He does have a very strong arm, though, and was able to gun the runner down in time for the out. At the plate and in BP he worked on hitting the ball up the middle and I like that approach. It worked in one at-bat when he hit a solid line drive up the middle for a single. His base running was atrocious, taking horrible routes around the bases and showing little awareness of where the ball was, hesitating on an easy call to go first-to-third and ending up just staying put at second. He also showed little awareness in the field. On a ball hit to his left he made a play and the runner from second broke to third, he “looked” over to third to make sure the runner wasn’t going home but the runner never broke stride and went straight for home. Beckham threw to first as if the runner never broke for home. It was a lazy effort on his part assuming the runner would stop at third.

For my full report, including the Pirates, check it out here at


March 1, 2011 at 8:29 pm 1 comment

Pirates-Rays Trade a Win-Win

Akinori Iwamura

The Pittsburgh Pirates and the Tampa Bay Rays struck a deal today that will send secondbaseman Akinori Iwamura to the Pirates in exchange for right handed reliever Jesse Chavez.

The Rays had to pick up the $4.85M 2010 contract option on Aki or buy it out for $650K. The Rays are in desperate need to clear payroll due to a good number of their core players earning raises from last year’s salaries. When the Rays realized that Aki and his salary were expendable they looked for a trade partner and Pittsburgh was all over them.

The Pirates get a Gold Glove caliber secondbaseman with on-base skills and decent speed. He has a career major league OBP of .355 in his three years and that includes a very good .281 AVG. He has been worth 6.3 wins above replacement in his three years in the American League East and valued at $27.3M so his $4.85M contract will be a bargain. I wouldn’t rule out a season of .300/.360/.400 with great defense and double digit steals while playing in the NL Central.

Jesse Chavez has an explosive fastball/slider combo that has averaged 94.5 mph and 88.5 mph respectively. He has below average command and control and also throws a changeup that is below average. He has the tools to be a very good reliever but his .289 BABIP indicates that he may have been a bit lucky last year, although that could be attributed to the high number of homers he gave up (11 in 67.1 innings) and the Rays are hoping that is something that can be fixed by pitching coach Jim Hickey. Either way, with a league minimum salary and options to burn, he is well worth the risk for the Rays who need bullpen help.

The trade looks like a win for the Pirates but it was a necessary deal for the Rays. They have the best seconbaseman in the American League in Ben Zobrist and could not afford the salary of Aki. They did well by adding a player of value while saving the salary and/or the cost to buyout the option. This trade is a win-win for both teams.

November 3, 2009 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

McCutchen Has Star Written All Over Him

Andrew McCutchen
(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

The Pittsburgh Pirates avoided the dreaded 100 loss plateau this year partially thanks to a rained out game that will not be made up against the Chicago Cubs, leaving them with 99 losses on the season. At this point, who cares anymore? They have 17 consecutive losing seasons and there is nothing to chear about when you lose 99 games. The Pirates’ offense ranks last in the NL in runs (16th), 15th in SLUG, 14th in AVG, 14th in OBP, and 14th in OPS. Is there hope in the future? I think so, and hope’s name is Andrew McCutchen.

McCutchen, the 11th overall pick in the historic 2005 draft, looked like a potential star when I saw him in Spring Training. He hit .286/.365/.471 with an OPS+ of 124, a wOBA of .368, 12 homers, 26 doubles, 9 triples, 22 steals, and 54 walks, and he only grounded into 3 double plays in 433 at-bats in his 2009 rookie season at the tender age of 22.

On defense, McCutchen was gunning runners down in center too with 10 outfield assists and only 2 errors. His UZR/150 was -0.5 but he actually plays a stellar centerfield and should consistently post positive UZR/150 ratings.

Fangraphs has McCutchen’s 2009 production value at $15.8M while only making the league minimum and not qualifying for the batting title due to lack of plate appearances.

The bottom line is that McCutchen is going to be a star. His rookie season was even better than it appears. Among centerfielders with at least 475 plate appearances he ranks 2nd in wOBA behind Matt Kemp, 3rd in OPS behind Torii Hunter and Kemp, and 3rd in outfield assists.

In a full season, McCutchen will be what B.J. Upton should be, annually hitting 20+ homers, stealing 35+ bases, posting OPS’s over .850, playing above-average defense in center, and playing in All-Star games. This kid is a star in the making and Pittsburgh has the player to build a contender around and hope for the future.

October 5, 2009 at 10:06 pm 1 comment

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