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Assuming each major league franchise was forced to build its team with only the pieces it originally brought in what might the current Pittsburgh Pirates look like? It is an interesting question that on its face is of course impossible to answer. Given these circumstances teams would undoubtedly draft differently and promote their players differently but still it allows for an interesting thought experiment. Just what kind of team would the Pirates have right now?
To keep this exercise relatively simple I'm limiting this to current players who have seen at least some time in the major leagues. This means no bringing back players who last played in 2011 or prospects who have yet to make their debut. Also when it comes to a draft the Pirates have to have actually drafted and signed the player for him to count so Stephen Drew will not be making an appearance here. It is not necessary the player ever played for the Pirates either just that he was drafted or originally signed by them
First I'll provided a comprehensive but not exhaustive list of our options. The position is either the position they were drafted at or in the case of international free agents where they spent most of their first professional season.
C: Ryan Doumit, Steven Lerud, Neil Walker, Tony Sanchez
1B: Carlos Rivera, Steve Pearce
2B: Nate McLouth, Rajai Davis, Brock Holt
3B: Jose Bautista, Pedro Alvarez, Matt Hague
SS: Jeff Keppinger, Brian Bixler, Brent Lillibridge, Jordy Mercer, Chase d'Arnaud
OF: Nyjer Morgan, Andrew McCutchen, Alex Presley, Robbie Grossman
P: Bronson Arroyo, Mike Gonzalez, Joe Beimel, Jeff Bennett, Sean Burnett, Chris Young, Ian Snell, Zack Duke, Matt Capps, Paul Maholm, Tom Gorzelanny, Jonathan Albaladejo, Todd Redmond, Brad Lincoln, Jared Hughes, Michael Crotta, Daniel Moskos, Duke Welker, Tony Watson, Kyle McPherson, Justin Wilson, Vic Black, Phil Irwin, Brandon Cumpton, Gerrit Cole
The above is a list of players the Pirates have drafted and signed who still had some sort of baseball impact last season. It may have been the minor leagues or even independent ball but they were still playing. I'm not willing to call it a complete list but it should be very close. Of course the draft isn't the only way to acquire talent as it can also be done through international free agents. This list is much more difficult to obtain but I think I can at least hit the relevant guys. For the... [Read More]
Let me start by saying that my preference is to follow hitting prospects rather than pitching prospects so my knowledge of the pitchers is somewhat lacking. Due to this the pitching groups are going to see a few changes as compared to the... [Read More]
The Pittsburgh Penguins lost yet again at home in a shootout Thursday night; this time to the Montreal Canadiens 6-5. In what was a back-and-forth roller-coaster ride, the Penguins couldn't manage to hang on for the win in regulation. With the shootout loss the Penguins failed to gain ground on Boston, but they did manage to maintained their 5 point lead over the Bruins, who also lost in overtime to the Buffalo Sabres Wednesday night.
Many were looking to see how the Penguins would play coming off of the long Olympic Break. The days between games totaled 20 for the Penguins, a very long time indeed. The Penguins have struggled this year as it has been well documented by several outlets including myself. With this loss, the Penguins are now 8-6-2 in games coming off of a 3+ day rest. The overall record isn't necessarily the problem as the Penguins are technically above a .500 win% at .563%, but the glaring and ominous problems is the number of goals the Penguins are allowing in these games. In the 16 total games played and not separating out wins and losses the Penguins have given up 3+ goals in 8 of 16 games...that's bang on at 50%. Ouch! To make matters worse, in 6 of the 8 losses, the Penguins have given up at least 4 goals! Double ouch! This is a testament to how rusty the Penguins are when they get "too much rest". Overall the Penguins are scoring goals, so offense isn't the problem. The Penguins have scores 49 goals in those 16 games for a 3.06 GPG average. Not bad at all. However, their GAA (goals against average) is 3.19, which is way too high. The save% is even worse at a .887%! That is just downright awful. So not only is the defense suspect in general, the goaltending is atrocious.
Now many Penguins' fans will be quick to mention that the referee's "cost the Penguins" the game, when they assessed a 5-minute match penalty to Tanner Glass for Elbowing. During that 5-minute power play, the Canadiens scored to tie the game at 5. While based on that alone, fans have an argument. However, that argument is feeble in my opinion. For the record I did think the call was bad, but the other 4 goals weren't the officials' fault, so how about we impart the blame where is squarely needs to go and that is on the players. What about the... [Read More]
Prior to this era all the other eras have been defined by changes in baseball history such as the end of the dead ball era, the end of segregation and the lowering of the mound but this era finds itself defined by something unique to the Pirates. When I started this exercise I knew I wanted to create an all streak team and that the formation of such a team would cause a pre streak team hence the reason for this era. Now to me this era seems to cover a large amount of time but in actuality it is roughly the same size as all the other eras at just a little over 20 years. Going into this I figured there would be good competitions between the 70's World Series teams and the early 90's NLCS teams and for the most part that held up but surprising me were some strong competitors from the 80s.
Catcher: Only two catchers proved to be worth consideration here and they are Manny Sanguillen and Tony Pena. Both are on the short list for best catcher in Pirates history making this a very intriguing battle. Each player had 2 or 3 seasons which were strong contenders for the crown but coming out on top of my list was Manny Sanguillen's 1975. That year Sanguillen posted a batting line of .328/.391/.451 good for a 134 wRC+. The 9 home runs he hit that year were the second highest total of his career. What made this year stand out above Pena's season and the rest of Sanguillen's was his ability to get on base. The .391 OBP was easily the best of his career and his 8.9 BB% more than doubled his career rate of 4.1%.
First Base: I expected this to end up an easy win for Stargell but he ended up with some tight competition as his best years came in left field. The thought of putting Stargell in left field and choosing someone else here entered my mind briefly before I recalled that Stargell wasn't going to win the LF job. With all due respect to Bob Robertson and Al Oliver this position ended up being a battle between Stargell and 1982 Jason Thompson. Thompson's season wasn't as good as Stargell's best during this era but it was definitely comparable to any season he posted while playing primarily first base. In the end possibly because of sheer reverence to Stargell I gave him the nod. Much like I chose to do with Kiki Cuyler in an earlier era though I didn't limit myself to just picking his best 1B season seeing as he won the position anyway. Stargell's best season as a 1B was either his first 1972 or 1978. Personally I preferred 1972... [Read More]
Before I move on to the Pirates pitching prospects I thought I'd wrap up my overview of the Pirates position player prospects with my personal top 20 list. I will note here that this list isn't necessarily consistent with the previous posts. I have assembled this list based on how I feel today and that is not necessarily representative of how I felt when I wrote the other posts. Any changes will of course be minor but may be present.You can feel free to comment and disagree with my rankings as anyone's opinion is just as valid (or more so) than mine. I am by no means no scout and I have assembled my rankings through the handful of minor league games I get to watch and on the opinions of others. With that out of the way and without farther ado my top 20 Pirates position player prospects (I have also included each player's position and the level I expect them to begin the 2014 season at):
1. Gregory Polanco (OF, AAA)
2. Austin Meadows (OF, A)
3. Alen Hanson (SS, AA)
4. Josh Bell (OF, A+)
5. Reese McGuire (C, A)
6. Tony Sanchez (C, AAA)
7. Harold Ramirez (OF, A)
8. Andrew Lambo (1B/OF, AAA/MLB)
9. Barrett Barnes (OF, A+)
10. JaCoby Jones (SS/OF, A)
11. Michael De La Cruz (OF, Rk)
12. Jin-De Jhang (C, A/A+)
13. Wyatt Mathisen (C, A/A+)
14. Stetson Allie (1B, A+)
15. Max Moroff (SS, A/A+)
16. Adam Frazier (SS, A/A+)
17. Jaff Decker (OF, AAA)
18. Elvis Escobar (OF, A-/A)
19. Julio De La Cruz (3B, Rk)
20. Mel Rojas (OF, AA/AAA)