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Thread: Building For The Future - Neil Walker & Others

      
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    Default Building For The Future - Neil Walker & Others

    The World Series is over, thereby starting all of the off-season activity in MLB. I think the Pirates are in excellent shape going forward - much better each year, and light years ahead of where we were at 4 or 5 years ago. Three trades made by the Pirates in 2011 have set us up and have not cost the Pirates very much to get legit No.'s 1 and 2 SP's for the Rotation, and a 1B we hope will pick up previous All Star years. My biggest concerns are what we are going to do to lock up our Fondation/Core Players for the foreseeable future. Last year we locked up Andrew McCutchen for 6 years and $51.5 mil, and included a 7th year Club Option. This year I want to see the Pirates wrap up another "up-the-middle-guy" and that is Neil Walker -
    • 3 years averaging 133 games per year - one year called up in June, this year injured.
    • A switchhitter averaging .280 BA, 30 doubles/3 triples/12 HR's/73 RBI/.339 OBP/.763 OPS
    • A steady 2B averaging .988 over the total and his high was .992 in 2011.
    • A great background being the hometown hero from a family that has many professional athletes
    • In 3 years he has made about 35% of what the Pirates paid IWAMURA for 1 year ($4.25 mil)

    Neil is a Super Two meaning he will get 4 years of Arbitration because he is in the top 17% of players with less than 3 years of service, so he qualified. ESPN has predicted he will get between $2.7 and $2.9 mil in his first year of Arbitration. My suggestion would be a long term contract of 5 years for $30 mil with 2 Club Option years added. Start with a $2 mil signing bonus, and then $2.5 mil for 2013, $4.0 mil for 2014, $5.5 mil for 2015, $7.0 mil for 2016, $9 mil for 2017 (first year of FA), $10.5 mil Club Option for 2018 (second year of FA), $11 mil Club Option for 2019. Who else?

    • Pay Hanrahan the $7 mil, JMAC the $3.0 or $3.5 mil, Gaby Sanchez the $2 or $2.5 mil, and Garrett Jones the $4.25 or $4.75, Karstens a minimal increase, and Charlie Morton a minimal increase. I think that is all of the Arbs
    • Pedro Alvarez. Is he moving forward? He is not a Super Two and is scheduled to make 700K in 2013. He will be in Arb 1 after the 2013 season. I thought I knew all of the particulars but then the Pirates brought in Jay Bell as the hitting coach. A hard-nose who preaches, putting the ball in play, strike zone knowledge and discipline, and hitting the ball where it is pitched. That should help Pedro immensely so try this on - $1.5 mil signing bonus, $2.5 mil for 2013, $4.0 mil for 2014, $6 mil for 2015, $8 mil for 2016, $11 mil for 2017 (first year of FA), a $14.0 mil Club Option year in 2018.
    • That's a lot of money to gamble on Pedro, but last year he was .244 BA, 25 doubles/30 HR's/85 RBI/.317 OBP/.784 OPS. Mark Reynolds made $7.5 mil in 2012 to do less than that. It is hard to get 20-25 HR guys, and extremely difficult to find 30+ HR guys. I think he did well last year, but could have done a lot better with a little more discipline at the plate. He has struggled and I think he has matured to the point where he will get better - get more walks, hit for better average, and hit more out of the park. With he, Walker, and 'Cutch signed long term, this team is set for a long time.

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    Default Re: Building For The Future - Neil Walker & Others

    Great thoughts there, I am so ready to hear pitchers and catchers report. They gotta wrap up Walker and Pedro both since they are the key to long term success, which is 3 solid bats out of 8 (not counting the pitcher) who should be here for the next 6 years. Going into next season, if they improve the pitching, I really like their chances.
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    Default Re: Building For The Future - Neil Walker & Others

    Quote Originally Posted by Steelreign View Post
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    Great thoughts there, I am so ready to hear pitchers and catchers report. They gotta wrap up Walker and Pedro both since they are the key to long term success, which is 3 solid bats out of 8 (not counting the pitcher) who should be here for the next 6 years. Going into next season, if they improve the pitching, I really like their chances.
    Thank you. You and the other season ticket holders deserve to see the Pirates ante up by locking up our 3 young studs, and then with Starling Marte and Garrett Jones in the lineup, I think wee will have 5 solid bats. I like Gaby Sanchez a lot and wanted the Pirates to go after him even when it would have cost us some serious prospects in exchange. Getting him for Gorkys was a laugher simply because we had no future use for Gorkys after 2012. I hope the Pirates stand pat and do not waste our energy trying to invent a Catcher for 2013. I am very comfortable putting Michael McKenry out on the field every night, and is it possible for Barmes to not have a year better than what he had in 2012?

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    Default Re: Building For The Future - Neil Walker & Others

    Barmes showed a solid glove and at times a good bat last season. If he can hit between .250-.265 next season, i gotta say i will be happy. The only move in free agency I would want to see them make would be a solid starting pitcher if anything at all. Signing Walker and Maybe Alvarez to long term deals would be the way to go instead of going after outside help.

    I see Jay Bell helping to teach our hitters some plate discipline and how to advance runners by the simple act of bunting, which hurt the Pirates quite a bit last year. I think maybe guys like Tabata, Marte and Snider. He can get Tabata back on track and teach the young guys good habits early. A fresh set of eyes could make a big difference.
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    Default Re: Building For The Future - Neil Walker & Others

    Quote Originally Posted by Steelreign View Post
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    Barmes showed a solid glove and at times a good bat last season. If he can hit between .250-.265 next season, i gotta say i will be happy. The only move in free agency I would want to see them make would be a solid starting pitcher if anything at all. Signing Walker and Maybe Alvarez to long term deals would be the way to go instead of going after outside help.

    I see Jay Bell helping to teach our hitters some plate discipline and how to advance runners by the simple act of bunting, which hurt the Pirates quite a bit last year. I think maybe guys like Tabata, Marte and Snider. He can get Tabata back on track and teach the young guys good habits early. A fresh set of eyes could make a big difference.
    Steel: I agree with you about Clint Barmes, but I was unaware he graded out as the best fielding Shortstop in the NL. I think he pressed trying to do too much to impress the new club, and it only worked in reverse. He certainly has the ability, and past history to be able to hit .250 with good numbers for doubles, RBI's and a 2/2 K to W Ratio, all of which are much better than what he did last year. I do not see very much out on the market for a SP, and I cannot see why we have to look for another veteran pitcher. Burnett and Rodriguez are very experienced and Karstens and JMAC are far from being Rookies. We have a level of experience in our present Rotation that should allow us to bring up one of the kids from AAA right from Spring Training, and not after they have burnt themselves out in the minors for more than half the season. Spend the money on the players identified as Core Players - McC gets $4.5 mil in 2013, and I hope we can do long terms for both Walker and Alvarez this off-season.

    I see Jay Bell as being more of a gap to gap hitting instructor where he encourages the hitters to stay back, see the ball, and drive it straight out. Small ball is for the first two batters in the order and then No. 8 - they may get the extra bunting reps, and hitting behind the runner. I could be wrong, but I will be surprised if we do not place a premium on putting the ball in play, thereby reducing the number of K's.

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    Default Re: Building For The Future - Neil Walker & Others

    Quote Originally Posted by emjayinTN View Post
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    I see Jay Bell as being more of a gap to gap hitting instructor where he encourages the hitters to stay back, see the ball, and drive it straight out. Small ball is for the first two batters in the order and then No. 8 - they may get the extra bunting reps, and hitting behind the runner. I could be wrong, but I will be surprised if we do not place a premium on putting the ball in play, thereby reducing the number of K's.
    Will that apply to Pedro? Sure hope so. 30 HR's are nice yeah, but I think he can even do more damage driving runners in without hitting a HR if just got the ball in play.

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    Default Re: Building For The Future - Neil Walker & Others

    Quote Originally Posted by exNCite View Post
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    Will that apply to Pedro? Sure hope so. 30 HR's are nice yeah, but I think he can even do more damage driving runners in without hitting a HR if just got the ball in play.
    I agree with you that Pedro Alvarez is sometimes very good and some times very bad. The 30 HR plateau is very special, especially for Pirate hitters who very rarely get to that rarified air. The best part of all 3 of our power hitters of McCutchen, Jones, and Alvarez is that the first two had career batting average numbers to go along with their HR's. And, Pedro is coming off a year where nobody knew which direction he was going to go coming into 2012. Can he build on his success of 2012? If he can, we have something rather large to look forward to in the future. I think that it was obvious that Pedro started to take the ball, with power, to the LC gap more and more as the season went on. A batting coach like Jay Bell will help him stay on that path. The kid has awesome power and I wanted to fire things at the TV everytime he would get a fat pitch on the outer third of the plate and try to turn on it which only led to weak dribblers to the right side of the infield. That's a mental thing where he made his mind up before the pitch what he was going to try to do with the ball. A good basics hitting coach will have him staying closed longer and starting to look to drive the ball straight out, or to the LC gap. So, if he is going to be the hitter we need in the middle of our order, we need to hope to see more line drives to the gap in LC. Once he establishes that approach, pitchers will quit trying to throw everything outside. That approach will also assure that he will wait longer on pitches and therefore, put more balls in play. 'Cutch is at his best when he is wearing out the CF and RC area - great power straight out, and I think we saw a lot more of that from Garrett Jones as well in 2012. That is not "lucky" hitting, that is exhibiting a much stronger grasp on the basics of hitting, so I see the Pirates getting better each year. I think we will also see more of that from Neil Walker and Starling Marte in 2013. Neil is a 20 HR hitter waiting to break out, and I thought he was poised to hit 20 in 2012, because he had 60% of that with 40 games left, but had the back problem even 2 or 3 weeks before finally coming out of the lineup for the rest of the season.

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    Default Re: Building For The Future - Neil Walker & Others

    Quote Originally Posted by emjayinTN View Post
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    I agree with you that Pedro Alvarez is sometimes very good and some times very bad. The 30 HR plateau is very special, especially for Pirate hitters who very rarely get to that rarified air. The best part of all 3 of our power hitters of McCutchen, Jones, and Alvarez is that the first two had career batting average numbers to go along with their HR's. And, Pedro is coming off a year where nobody knew which direction he was going to go coming into 2012. Can he build on his success of 2012? If he can, we have something rather large to look forward to in the future. I think that it was obvious that Pedro started to take the ball, with power, to the LC gap more and more as the season went on. A batting coach like Jay Bell will help him stay on that path. The kid has awesome power and I wanted to fire things at the TV everytime he would get a fat pitch on the outer third of the plate and try to turn on it which only led to weak dribblers to the right side of the infield. That's a mental thing where he made his mind up before the pitch what he was going to try to do with the ball. A good basics hitting coach will have him staying closed longer and starting to look to drive the ball straight out, or to the LC gap. So, if he is going to be the hitter we need in the middle of our order, we need to hope to see more line drives to the gap in LC. Once he establishes that approach, pitchers will quit trying to throw everything outside. That approach will also assure that he will wait longer on pitches and therefore, put more balls in play. 'Cutch is at his best when he is wearing out the CF and RC area - great power straight out, and I think we saw a lot more of that from Garrett Jones as well in 2012. That is not "lucky" hitting, that is exhibiting a much stronger grasp on the basics of hitting, so I see the Pirates getting better each year. I think we will also see more of that from Neil Walker and Starling Marte in 2013. Neil is a 20 HR hitter waiting to break out, and I thought he was poised to hit 20 in 2012, because he had 60% of that with 40 games left, but had the back problem even 2 or 3 weeks before finally coming out of the lineup for the rest of the season.
    Nice analysis emjay.

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    Default Re: Building For The Future - Neil Walker & Others

    Quote Originally Posted by exNCite View Post
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    Nice analysis emjay.
    exN: Thank you, the compliment is much appreciated. Another move I think we should give some serious consideration is the promotion of Michael McKenry to being our Catcher for 2013. I am more than a little predjudiced where it comes to Michael McKenry, because I have watched this kid since he was 12 years old and playing on one of the best youth teams in the Southeast. I coached against his team and it was one of those things where you knew you were going to take a beating. That was the Farragut, TN Thunder Baseball Team. He attended Farragut HS where they won the state championship in the largest class of HS Baseball 3 or all 4 years with McKenry playing all 4 years and being one of the best offensive players in the state. He chose Middle Tennessee State where Coach Peterson was a former professional Catcher, and they played big time baseball against the likes of Vanderbilt, UT, and many of the Southeast Conference Teams. Bryce Brentz also played at MTSU, and Bryan Morris would have pitched there if not drafted out of JUCO. More -
    • Drafted by the Rockies in the 7th Round he was selected as their 9th Best Prospect in the system and best defensive catcher in the Rockies System in 2009. The comments on him in Baseball America were as follows:


    "a quality defensive catcher since his youth, and has only added to that reputation, throwing out 46% of base stealers in 2008. He moves well behind the plate, likes to work a pitcher through a game, and has a PLUS arm augmented by a quick release. Now the offense is starting to come, too. He has shown legitimate power the last 2 years, quickly gets into hitting position, and firmly plants the front foot. His defense alone makes him a solid candidate for a backup position in the majors, and, if the offense is there, he projects as a strong starting catcher for a contending team."
    • McKenry had a solid 2009 and then just as he was promoted to the majors in 2010 he was involved in a trade to the Red Sox. He stayed in the Red Sox System until the Pirates stole him in 2011 simply because the Red Sox had Varitek, Martinez, and Saltalamacchia at Catcher at the MLB Level, and Lavarnway at the Catcher position in the minors.
    • He played at AAA for Boston to start 2011 and then the Bucs throwing out 25% of the base stealing attempts. Overall in 2011 and 2012 he is fielding at a .992 clip and has thrown out 21% of the attempted base stealers. With a team that placed an emphasis on holding runners, that %age would be at least 25% to 30%. At bat his stats are as good as many, and his ratio in 2012 of a HR for every 20 AB's, and a double for every 17 AB's is hard to beat for a kid with only 1.5 years of MLB experience.
    • If The Fort catches Rodriguez, Locke, and JMAC, base stealing will be minimized. Whoever gets to catch Burnett might as well just eat the ball on base stealing attempts. Karstens is neither good nor bad, but he could use some improvement getting the ball to the plate quicker than he has in the past year or two.
    • If he does not make Super Two status, he is 2 more years away from Arbitration, and will not hit FA until after the 2017 season. This kid is an obvious PLUS/PLUS in the clubhouse, and we would be stupid not to give him the chance. And, I definitely think that Rod Barajas would be a solid back-up and mentor for both Michael McKenry and Tony Sanchez, and he has a solid knowledge of our pitching staff.

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    Default Re: Building For The Future - Neil Walker & Others

    Quote Originally Posted by emjayinTN View Post
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    I definitely think that Rod Barajas would be a solid back-up and mentor for both Michael McKenry and Tony Sanchez, and he has a solid knowledge of our pitching staff.
    I wouldn't have any problems with that but would rather see him brought back as a coach instead of a player. The Bucs can't afford to carry 3 catchers, and while Sanchez may not make the roster anyway out of ST, if there is any chance he might see a midseason call-up, you'd most likely have to jettison Barajas anyway. As a coach, however, he doesn't go anywhere and could even spend some time working with the minors catching prospects.

    Catching is a weakness in the system and I'd love to see it given some attention. Maybe Barajas is the guy to do that.

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