March 8th, 2014 at 4:20 PM
By Allan Smith
Pittsburgh Pirates' fans were anxiously awaiting A.J. Burnett's decision for most of the offseason, and although the situation ended with Burnett signing in Philadelphia, the return of another expensive pitching acquisition from 2012 could provide the needed, additional production.
Thursday, Phil Rogers of MLB.com wrote an article on how the Pirates won't miss Burnett with Wandy Rodriguez returning from injury. Rogers said this is a make or break season for Rodriguez, who will be a free agent at the year's end.
"He's a special pitcher, because he can locate his curveball on both sides of the plate, and he can throw a changeup pretty much at any time he wants to,'' Russell Martin said.
If he is truly at full health, there is no reason to doubt Rodriguez's abilities. He put together a 3.59 ERA in his 12 starts last season, and if you remove his worst start as well as his injured start against Atlanta, the number dips to 2.63. Rodriguez also posted a career-low WHIP of 1.12, which was mainly due to the Pirates outstanding defense, which will again be a factor this season. While Rodriguez is still more than capable of striking guys out with his nasty curveball, the speed of his average fastball dipped to 89.3 mph last season, further highlighting the need to have a good defense behind the Dominican-born lefty.Read more... Join the Conversation...
March 7th, 2014 at 5:42 PM
By Allan Smith
While it is still early in the spring, three Pittsburgh Pirates' outfielders have performed at peak value throughout the first ten days of spring games. Andrew McCutchen, Travis Snider and Chris Dickerson have all seen the ball explode off their bat early on in March.
After going 3-for-3 with a two-run homer Friday against the Minnesota Twins, McCutchen's batting average is now an astronomical .727, as he is 8-for-11 overall. His OPS is an unheard of 1.932. Needless to say, last season's MVP is picking up where he left off, or better yet, improving upon his game. While no one can expect McCucthen to carry a batting average that is over .700 into the season, he has been known to go on unheard of tears, such as the stretch between June and July of 2012 where hit upwards of .400.
Snider, who Pirates 101 predicted would be the team's most improved player, is displaying ability Pirates fans had yet to see since the outfielder was acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays in 2012. Finally free of lingering injuries, Snider improved his batting average to .462 after going 2-for-2 with a pair of RBI Friday. Snider is 6-for-13 to start the spring, with three of his six hits going for extra bases. It's the power that many were expecting to see when Snider, who was a highly touted prospect, was first acquired.Read more... Join the Conversation...
March 6th, 2014 at 5:47 PM
By Allan Smith
Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Russell Martin said he is open to extending his stay with the team if they want to keep his services around past this season, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review.
“I'm open to listening to anything,” Martin said.
However, he added there are no current discussions about a new deal between his agent and the Pirates. Martin is currently in the second year of his two-year deal that was worth a total of $17 million when first signed. The deal is the most expensive free agent deal in Pirates history.
When he signed in November 2012, Martin was not looking for a long term contract, as he was hoping to better position himself for another trip to free agency. He batted .226 with a .703 OPS in his first season with the team. He also added a memorable, two-homer game against the Cincinnati Reds in the Wild Card playoff game to help advance the Pirates to the NLDS.
However, Martin's main value is on defense, where he posted a 2.5 defensive WAR and the second-best catchers ERA in 2013. This led to Martin posting a 4.3 overall WAR and finishing 24th in MVP voting.Read more... Join the Conversation...
March 5th, 2014 at 5:54 PM
By Allan Smith
Formerly the top prospect for the Toronto Blue Jays, Travis Snider went 3-for-3 with a two-run homer and three RBI, leading the Pittsburgh Pirates' to a 6-4 victory over his former squad Wednesday at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.
The Pirates got to Toronto starter Brandon Morrow early and often, scoring five runs in his three innings of work. Morrow's final inning ended up deciding the game. After Starling Marte and Chris Dickerson made outs to begin the inning, Neil Walker singled on a line drive to left. Gaby Sanchez doubled in Walker, followed by Snider's two-run shot to right-center.
The rest of the offense came in the first inning, when Marte scored on a Sanchez double-play and Snider singled home Dickerson, and the seventh, when Chase d'Arnaud scored on a wild pitch.
Snider is now hitting .444 this spring.
Toronto got two back in the bottom of the third when Edwin Encarnacion doubled, then decreased the deficit to one with a Chris Getz RBI single followed by Steve Tolleson knocking in a run after getting hit.
Former Chicago Cubs' pitcher Jay Jackson got the start for the Pirates and pitched a clean first two innings, only allowing a two out single to Dioner Navarro in the second. Read more... Join the Conversation...
March 4th, 2014 at 4:03 PM
By Allan Smith
A Gregory Polanco double headlined a three-run third inning outburst for the Pittsburgh Pirates, as the team improved to 5-1 in Grapefruit League action with a 5-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland Tuesday afternoon.
The Pirates got to Tigers pitcher Rick Porcello, who dominated the Pirates for eight scoreless innings when the two faced each other this past May, for three runs in his third inning of work.
After a Josh Harrison double was followed by a groundout from Chris Stewart, new addition Jaff Decker laid down a suicide squeeze. Harrison scored, and Decker was safe at first. Jose Tabata would then single before Polanco, who finished the game 2-for-3, came to bat. The Pirates top prospect lined a double to right field, scoring Decker and moving Tabata, who would score on a groundout from Pedro Alvarez, to third.
This was all the Pirates would need, as the Tigers only two runs came from a fourth inning, two-run homer Brandon Cumpton allowed off the bat of Austin Jackson. The Pirates would add a run in the eighth and ninth off of Justin Miller and Bruce Rondon. An eighth inning throwing error led to Taylor Lewis scoring while a Michael Martinez single scored Alen Hanson.Read more... Join the Conversation...