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Pirates should inquire on Carlos Pena

Published on June 25, 2011 by in Features

This is my 4th year of running this blog. Never have I ever written a post about the Pirates trading for someone to improve their ML team. I’ve never really felt the need to. However, the Pirates are 75 games into this season, are in 3rd place, and just 3 games back of 1st place. It is no longer a foregone conclusion they will be sellers later this summer.

It is time the Pirates start looking into certain upgrades they can make in their club. Before anyone gets a little crazy, first let me say this: In no way, should the Pirates, at this point, do anything that will jeopardize their future by giving up one of their prized prospects. A team like the Pirates needs to continue to produce solid Major League players out of their organization, or these type of discussions never happen (see the last 18 years). However, with that being said, Neal Huntington has done an excellent job since arriving of acquiring depth at the Minor League level, so the Pirates do have some options.

Lyle Overbay is statistically ranked as the worst NL first baseman with a -0.7 WAR. His supposed “strong” defense isn’t showing as his -5.9 UZR ranks 3rd worst in the NL. ZIPS projects Overbay will hit .242/.326/.395 over the rest of this season, which is an improvement over his current .231/.308/.352, but is still pretty awful.

Carlos Pena is nothing special anymore. However, he is a vast improvement over Overbay, and shouldn’t cost too much in terms of a trade. He is hitting .225/.352/.446 with 14 HR and a 1.0 WAR. ZIPS projects Pena will hit .235/.361/.498 with 17 more HR the rest of the season. That is a pretty significant upgrade to what the Pirates currently have.

First, let’s talk about Pena’s contract situation. He is signed to a pretty weird 1-year deal. It is worth $10 million. However, $5 million of that will be paid to him in January of next year. Somehow, if a trade were made, that issue would need to be addressed.

Second, what would it take to get Pena? The Cubs blog Obstructed View has a pretty good breakdown of Pena’s trade value at this point that is worth a look. The Pirates could probable obtain Pena with an offer of 2 “C” prospects. To give you an idea, these would be guys ranked in the 15-30 range in the organization. Most likely, the players given up are capable of being ML players, but the odds of them being noteworthy are slim.

An upgrade at 1B is definitely something Huntington should be looking at right now and if the price is right, they should pull the trigger.

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BBA: 2011 NL All-Star Ballot

Published on June 25, 2011 by in Features

As a member of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, I get a vote in the organization’s All-Star team. Here is my official ballot for the National League this year.

Catcher – Brian McCann, Atlanta

McCann is in the midst of one of his best seasons of his career. His .305 batting average, .380 OBP, .523 SLG, 13 HR, and 2.8 WAR leads all qualifying catchers in the senior circuit. Kinda hard to argue with those numbers.

First Base – Joey Votto, Cincinnati

This was a tough one between Fielder and Votto. And I’m going against my usual “pick for the higher WAR” play here. Votto is the reigning NL MVP. That alone sways my opinion here. His .318 AVG and .440 OBP are tops among NL first basemen.

Second Base – Rickie Weeks, Milwaukee

This is one of the easier decisions. Weeks’ 14 HR, .854 OPS, and 3.3 WAR are tops among NL second basemen. He’s a Brewer, so it pains me to vote for him, but I guess I can’t snub everyone who plays for the Crew.

Third Base – Ryan Reynolds, Arizona

This was easily the hardest decision. But Reynolds gets the edge over Placido Polanco, Chase Headley, and Chipper Jones. Reynolds’ 10 HR is easily the most among NL third basemen. Couple that with his NL leading .803 OPS and NL leading 2.1 WAR and he is your All-Star.

Shortstop – Jose Reyes, New York

Reyes is making a legitimate NL MVP push with a stellar start to the season. His .338 AVG, .382 OBP, .511 SLG, 26 SB, and 4.3 WAR are all tops among NL shortstops.

OF – Matt Kemp, Los Angeles

Kemp is also someone in the MVP discussion as his 20 homers, .328 AVG, .420 OBP, .620 SLG, and 4.2 WAR lead all NL outfielders.

OF – Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh

‘Cutch is also quietly putting his name in discussions for NL MVP. He has a solid offensive line of .289/.393/.474 along with a 4.0 WAR, which is 2nd among NL outfielders. He’s also rated, defensively, as the 2nd best OF in the NL behind only Shane Victorino.

OF – Ryan Braun, Milwaukee

I told myself when I was putting this list together that I wouldn’t have Braun on it. But I just can’t leave him off. His line of .309/.395/.550 with 15 homers just can’t be overlooked. He is also 4th among all NL outfielders with a 3.4 WAR.

SP – Roy Halladay, Philadelphia

Man, he’s good. His 9-3 record and 2.51 ERA are superb. His 4.2 WAR is incredible and heads and shoulders over any non-Philly pitcher.

RP – Johnny Venters, Atlanta

He’s not a closer, but he has easily been the most dominant reliver up to this point. In 47.1 innings, he has a 0.57 ERA and has yet to allow a homer this season. His 1.5 WAR is tops among NL relievers.

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Pitching lifts Bucs over Red Sox

Published on June 24, 2011 by in Game Recaps

Courtesy of @ThreeRiversBlog

Final: Pirates 3, Red Sox 1

WP: Paul Maholm (4-8)
LP: Jon Lester (9-4)
SV: Joel Hanrahan (21)

39,330 fans were on hand to see some excellent pitching by the Bucs tonight as they took game 1 of a huge weekend series against Boston.

Paul Maholm danced his way through 5 1/3 innings, giving up just 1 run. The bullpen then picked up huge out after huge out with 3 2/3 scoreless innings of relief. Chris Resop got a double play to end the 6th. Dan McCutchen left 2 men on base with a strikeout in the 7th. Jose Veras stranded runners on 2nd and 3rd as he retired David Ortiz in the 8th. And, as is becoming the norm, Joel Hanrahan pitched a 1-2-3 9th inning.

The Pirates took a 2-1 lead in the 3rd inning as Ronny Cedeno led off the inning with a single. Michael McKenry would then double him to 3rd base. Paul Maholm drew a walk. Tabata would hit an infield single to tie it up. Then, Chase d’Arnaud, in his ML debut, hit into a DP to take the 2-1 lead. d’Arnaud would later pick up his first ML hit with a triple in his 3rd AB.

Lyle Overbay would give the Pirates some insurance in the 6th inning with an RBI single and would finish the game with 2 hits. Tabata would also collect 2 hits.

This game had an amazing atmosphere to it and the Pirates responded with a very well played game over the best team in the American League. Jeff Karstens faces off against Tim Wakefield tomorrow night in what will be another sell out crowd. The win brought the Pirates to 38-37 on the season and is their 3rd win in a row.

Winning this series would be awesome.

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Oh, What the heck

Published on June 24, 2011 by in Features

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Game 75: Pittsburgh Pirates vs Boston Red Sox Live Blog

Published on June 24, 2011 by in Live Blogs

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Starling Marte selected to Futures Game

Altoona outfielder Starling Marte has been selected to play in this year’s MLB Futures Game played in Phoenix, AZ during All-Star week. Marte will play on the World Team. Chase d’Arnaud was originally selected, also, to play for the US Team, however, I assume he will take his recent call-up to the Majors over that honor any day.

Marte, 22, is in his first full year playing for Altoona and is having quite a season. He is hitting .338/.370/.477 in 266 at bats. Marte has shown for years that he has the talent, however, freak injuries have sidelined him. This will hopefully be his first full year of playing so we can see what he has over an entire season. Marte is a gifted athlete and scouts say his defense may ultimately push Andrew McCutchen out of center field once Marte arrives in the Majors.

The Futures Game will be broadcast on ESPN2 on Sunday, July 10th at 6 PM ET.

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