Tag Archive | "Top Prospects"

Welcome to the Bigs, Kid: Jose Fernandez

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Welcome to the Bigs, Kid: Jose Fernandez

Posted on 08 April 2013 by T.J. McDonald

Welcome back for another exciting year of fantasy baseball action.  The season is only a week old but we have already had one of the top prospects in the game, Jose Fernandez, make his unexpected debut & boy did he not disappoint! In the 2013 debut edition of Welcome to the bigs, kid we will be profiling and discussing him and his debut outing. Also as always we will be discussing his fantasy value for the rest of the year and many years to come.


Jose Fernandez is a 20 year old right hand pitcher from Cuba for the Miami Marlins.  He is the third youngest Marlin to make their major league debut and youngest starting pitcher. He was drafted by the Marlins with the 14th pick in the first round of the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft. In his first full professional season last year in 25 starts 14 coming in low A and 11 in high A he went 14-1, striking out 158 batters and walking just 35 in 134.0 innings. His ERA was 1.75 and his was WHIP 0.93.  He was ranked as the #1 Marlins prospect & #5 in all of baseball to start the year by Baseball America.  He was surprisingly called up to be the Marlins 5th starter to start the year, after they had two projected starters of their rotation start the year on the disabled list.

Once the announcement was made he would start the rotation, the skeptics were out as to whether he would be a viable fantasy option this year or not. After his debut performance I am confidante in saying he will be. I sat down yesterday and with the help of DirectTV watched every pitch of his debut outing and not only did he not let me down he greatly exceeded by expectations.  He went a very strong 5 innings with a Marlins debut record of 8 strike outs. He pitched flawlessly the first three innings getting the side out in order all three and striking out the side in the 2nd. He then got into a slight jam in the 4th after allowing a single with one out and a walk with two outs  before getting the next hitter to ground out.  His control that inning did seem to be a bit shaky out of the stretch as he walked one and went to a 2-2 count with the final batter of the inning. He was able to get it under control and get a inning ending ground out leaving both runners stranded.  In his fifth and final inning of work he gave up his lone earned run but was able to limit the damage by leaving a runner stranded on second.  He exited after throwing 80 pitches, 53 for strikes.

Now that we know a little bit about Jose Fernandez and have detailed how his first outing in the big leagues went, lets talk fantasy value. After watching his impressive debut there is no doubt in my mind that not only is he a top dynasty/keeper lg player but that he will also be a relevant redraft mixed leagued starter.  Will he have his ups and downs, yes and wins may be hard to come by playing for the lowly Marlins but the Ks and other quality pitchers stats will be there. One thing to keep an eye on however is that the Marlins do plan on limiting him to around 150 to 170 this season. He only went 5 today and I foresee that to be a pretty regular occurrence.   This may mean he will not be leading your team come playoff time but first you have to reach the playoffs and he could be the type of free pickup that helps you reach that goal.

Regarding his keeper/dynasty league value there is not a lot to say that already hasn’t been. He was the #5 prospect in baseball coming into the season and had a very impressive debut. Add to the fact that he is only 20 years old, if your league mates haven’t been smart enough to roster him already drop what you are doing and RUN to pick him up. Pitchers like this don’t come along everyday and in a long term format he looks to be the type of pitcher that can anchor your pitching staff for many years to come.  As of this writing he is currently owned in 70% of CBS, 32% of yahoo, & 9.9% of ESPN leagues, which I imagine will have a pretty big spike following his debut outing.

Now that we have welcomed Jose Fernandez to the bigs, will you have him rostered? I do. Let me know in the comments and as always follow me on twitter @FantasyzrTJ for all your fantasy baseball needs. Enjoy the season gamers, it has only just begun.




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Down On The Farm: Arizona Fall League Part 1, Mesa Solar Sox

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Down On The Farm: Arizona Fall League Part 1, Mesa Solar Sox

Posted on 05 September 2012 by Blake Murphy

With most minor leagues winding down to playoff time, September generally brings one of two big pieces of news for prospects – a September call-up to the Majors, or an assignment to the Arizona Fall League. Running through October and November, the AFL operates as a league of extra seasoning for top prospects, and is usually a haven for scouts and prospect junkies alike. With few time-relevant minor league updates to make throughout September, the focus of Down On The Farm, for the next few weeks at least, will shift  to the Arizona Fall League rosters.

An assignment to the roster is definitely a positive for a player, though many top prospects are not sent due to the scarcity of roster spots, innings limits, commitments to native countries, and more, so a non-assignment is certainly not an indictment on a player. The league has six teams, so for each of the next sixweeks I will look at the rosters for one team at a time, hoping to shed light on the prospects sent from various teams and what the assignment may mean for their development.

This week we start with the Mesa Solar Sox, the team affiliated with the Orioles, Cubs, Tigers, Astros, and Dodgers.

Mesa Solar Sox
Baltimore Orioles
Michael Belfiore, LHP, 23 – 2.71 ERA over two levels (A+ and AA) out of the bullpen, 78K in 66 IP. Extra work assignment.
Chris Petrini, LHP, 25 – 2.49 ERA over two levels (A+ and AA) out of the bullpen, 81K in 83 IP. Extra work assignment.
Clay Schrader, RHP, 22 – 1.86 ERA over two levels (A+ and AA) out of the bullpen, 68K and 51BB in 58 IP. Extra work assignment, control the likely focus.
Mike Wright, RHP, 22 – 4.06 ERA over two levels (A+ and AA) over 20 starts, 22BB in 108 IP, .279 OPP AVG. Likely working on developing an out pitch.
Brian Ward, C, 26 – .592 OPS at AA, 1 HR, 24:24 BB:K in 161 AB. Punishment, perhaps?
Jonathan Schoop, 3B, 20 (ESPN #56, BP #85, BA #82) – .710 OPS at AA, 14 HR, 50:103 BB:K in 485 AB. Extra work assignment to continue accelerated development for AAA assignment in 2013.
L.J. Hoes, OF, 21 – .759 OPS over two levels (AA and AAA), 5 HR, 20 SB, 12 CS, 65:75 BB:K in 513 AB. Possible mechanical assignment to improve ISO, potential 5th OF in 2013.

Chicago Cubs
Dae-Eun Rhee, RHP, 23 – 4.81 ERA over 26 starts at AA, 78K in 142 IP, .298 OPP AVG. Extra work assignment to accelerate slow development.
Kevin Rhoderick, RHP, 24 – 4.99 ERA out of the bullpen at AA, 53:47 K:BB in 57 IP. Extra work assignment, control the likely focus.
Zach Rosscup, LHP, 24 – 3.45 ERA over three levels (AA peak), 45K in 31 IP. Extra work assignment to recuperate time lost to injury.
Nicholas Struck, RHP, 22 – 3.18 ERA over 26 starts at AAA, 123K in 155 IP, .238 OPP AVG. Assignment a potential audition for 2013 rotation spot and to continue gradual workload increase to MLB level.
Tony Zych, RHP, 22 – 3.67 ERA over two levels (A+ and AA), 64K in 61 IP. Extra work assignment.
Javier Baez, SS, 19 (ESPN #95, BP #66, BA #61) – .888 OPS over two levels (A and A+), 16 HR, 24 SB, 14 BB in 293 AB. Struggled at A+, extra work assignment to continue development and recuperate time lost to injury.
Rubi Silva, OF, 23 – .727 OPS over two levels (A+ and AA), 15BB in 500 AB, 10SB, 18CS. Extra work assignment, likely focusing on plate discipline and baserunning.
Matthew Szczur, OF, 23 (BA #64) – .751 OPS over two levels (A and AA), 42SB, 14CS, 79:61 K:BB in 438 AB. Possible adjustments to improve ISO and contact ability.

Detroit Tigers
Tyler Clark, RHP, 23 – 1.62 ERA over two levels (A+ and AA) out of the bullpen, 66L in 50 IP. Extra work assignment.
Matt Hoffman, LHP, 23 – 3.69 ERA out of the bullpen at AAA, 32:16 K:BB in 46 IP. Extra work assignment, likely working on an out pitch for potential 2013 promotion.
Michael Morrison, RHP, 24 – 3.14 ERA out of the bullpen at AA, 72:40 K:BB in 63 IP. Extra work assignment, likely focusing on control.
Luke Putkonen, RHP, 26 – 4.92 ERA out of the bullpen at AAA in 56 IP, with a 6.52 ERA in 10 IP MLB audition. Potential audition for 2013 bullpen role.
James McCann, C, 22 – .589 OPS over two levels (A+ and AA), 18BB in 380 AB. Extra work assignment, likely focusing on plate discipline and contact ability.
Nick Castellanos, 3B/OF, 20 (ESPN #37, BP #71, BA #45) – Potential stud had 1.014 OPS at A+, struggled with .678 OPS at AA, striking out once per game. Assignment for further development of plate discipline and to further move to RF.
Aaron Westlake, 1B , 23 – .711 OPS at A over 465 AB. Extra work assignment to expedite development.

Houston Astros
Jared Cosart, RHP, 22 (ESPN #78, BP #48, BA #50) – 3.30 ERA over two levels (AA and AAA), 92:51 K:BB in 114 IP. Extra development time for potential 2013 rotation spot and to recuperate some time lost to injury.
Chia-Jen Lo, RHP, 26 – 0.90 ERA over two levels (A and A+), primarily out of the bullpen, 31:6 K:BB in 30 IP. Extra development time to recuperate time lost to injury.
Alex Sogard, LHP, 25 – 3.62 ERA over two levels (A+ and AA) out of the bullpen, 52K in 69 IP. Extra development time, likely working on out pitch.
Jiovanni Mier, SS, 22 – .805 OPS at A+, 34:39 K:BB in 171 AB. Extra development time to recuperate time lost to injury.
Jonathan Singleton, 1B, 20 (ESPN #46, BP #73, BA #34) – .893 OPS, 21HR, 7SB, 131:88 K:BB in 461 AB at AA. Extended development to prepare for AAA in 2013 with potential MLB call-up.
Bobby Borchering, OF, 21 – .756 OPS across three levels (AA peak), 24HR, 159K in 479 AB. Has profile of Quad-A hitter eventually, will likely work to improve contact, possibly at the expense of some power.
George Springer, OF, 22 (ESPN #60, BP #49, BA #59) – .955 OPS at A+, 22HR and 28SB in 433 AB, though struggled to .630 OPS in 22 AA games. Extra work to expedite development, could reach AAA in 2013.

Los Angeles Dodgers
Eric Eadington, LHP, 24 – 3.63 ERA over three levels (AA peak), 77K in 67 IP. Extra work assignment to build on successful season and continue expedited development.
Red Patterson, RHP, 25 – 3.07 ERA at AA out of the bullpen, 71K in 70m IP. Extra work assignment, preparing for AAA assignment in 2013.
Steven Rodriguez, LHP, 21 – 0.92 ERA over two levels (A+ and AA) out of the bullpen, 32K in 19 IP. Continuation of expedited development for 2012 draftee touted as Major League ready.
Andres Santiago, RHP, 22 – 3.69 ERA across two levels (A+ and AA), primarily starting, 122K in 112 IP. Extra work to increase season inning load as building block for 2013 at AAA.
Gorman Erickson, C, 24 – .673 OPS at AA, 56:44 K:BB in 274 AB.. Extra work to recuperate time lost to injury.
Rafael Ynoa, 2B, 25 – .715 OPS, 23SB at AA. Extra work to expedite what has been a slow development.
Joc Pederson, OF, 20 – .913 OPS, 18HR, 26SB, 14CS in 434 AB at A+. Great season to be put closer under the microscope, with a likely promotion to AA in 2013.
Yasiel Puig, OF, 21 – 1.076 over two levels (R and A+), 5HR, 8SB in just 82 AB. Extra work to further development, as he was just signed out of Cuba in late June.

I should reiterate that these assignments should be taken in the vain I tried to explain – for some, it is extra grooming for promotions, while for others it is simply extra work for the sake of extra work. The top prospects are the ones to keep an eye on, and hopefully over the next few weeks Down On The Farm can help to highlight who to focus on as you see the scouting reports and stat lines begin to trickle in.

Follow me on Twitter, @BlakeMurphyODC.

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Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – 2012 Bowman Platinum

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Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – 2012 Bowman Platinum

Posted on 20 August 2012 by Tim Danielson

Per box items:
20 pack per box
5 cards per pack
2 autographs per box
1 autographed relic per box

Topps sell sheet

The standard sized base set cards feature a color action shot of the named player superimposed over a gray-scale background. Bordered on the sides and bottom with black and silver graphics, the card fronts are also trimmed with a team color. The set name, player name and team are centered along the bottom of the refractor finished card fronts. The card backs are photo-less. The backs list moderate biographical information, modest career highlights, career best and last year season statistics. The backs depict the team logo and are also in a team color.

What I pulled:
98 unique cards, no duplicates
64 base set cards = 64/100 = 64% of the base set
15 Bowman Platinum Picks
16 inserts and parallels
2 autographs
1 relic/autograph

Base card front and back:

The inserts and parallels: (not all scanned)
Gold parallel: Shields, Rosario, Braun, Jimenez
Green Parallel: Hanson, McCann
Red Parallel: McCann
Serial numbered green Bowman Plat. Picks: Drury, Cole #/399
Serial numbered red Bowman Plat. Picks; Jacobs #/25
Top Prospects: Yelich, Taveras, D’Arnaud, Segura
Die-cut, Trumbo, Ichiro

The Hits:
Kole Calhoun, Clay Holmes autographs
Mike Morse autograph 3-color patch #/50


For over 60 years, Bowman has been the go-to brand for collectors who follow the game’s top Rookies and Prospects. Bowman is the Home of the Rookie Card! The first thing I noticed about 2012 Bowman Platinum is that every base set card has a refractor finish! This, combined with the great photography and shot selection really make Bowman Platinum visually appealing. I also like the simple and clean design. The “Top Prospects” and die-cut insert cards also look really good.The Bowman Platinum Picks cards differ slightly in graphics on the card fronts, so I had to resort to the card numbering on the card backs to identify them all. For as much as I really like this product, and how nice the hits are, for me it just does not have the “wow” factor. Ultimately I would have preferred a couple less inserts and parallels for more of a complete set.

The Bottom Line:
I give 2012 Bowman Platinum a buy rating. It will be very easy to complete the base set with two boxes. The parallel and insert sets will be fun to chase. Both prospectors and set builders will enjoy this really fun product. Buy a box and trade your Tigers cards to me!

The Final Score:
Final Ratings (Out of 5):
Base set collect-ability: 3/5
Big-hit Hunter: 2/5
Prospector Hunter:5/5
Overall Design: 5/5
Fun: 5/5
Value: 5/5
Re-buy: 5/5
Overall Quality: 5/5

Overall: 35/40 (87.5% = B)

Until next week, keep collecting, collect for the joy of the hobby and collect for the fan in all of us.

The Official card grading service of Full Spectrum Baseball

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Down On The Farm: San Diego Padres

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Down On The Farm: San Diego Padres

Posted on 08 August 2012 by Blake Murphy

It certainly must be exciting to be a San Diego Padres fan right now. While the team is struggling in its current incarnation, the organization ranked very highly on every preseason farm system list, and the big league squad is starting to see those returns now with the arrival of a pair of top prospects in The Show. Today, Down On The Farm looks at the Padres’ system in order to determine if their depth-over-upside approach should still have them ranked on the top of such lists.

Pre-Season Rank: #1 (ESPN), #1 (Baseball Prospectus), #3 (Baseball America)

The Top 4
1. Rymer Liriano
Overall Ranks: #40 (ESPN), #52 (BP), #49 (BA)
A season after struggling in the High-A Cal League, Liriano, still young for the league, impressed with a 112 wRC+, earning a promotion to Double-A San Antonio. He has continued to perform just above the league average at the plate, with a 105 wRC+ and a slash line of .256/.328/.405 showing some improved patience and pop. He strikes out far too often (22.0% in A+, 27.6% in AA) at this point, but at just 21 has plenty of time to improve. A partial repeat at Double-A is likely for 2013, but he could be on the fantasy radar as a three-category player as early as 2014, with a fourth emerging if the power develops further.

2. Yasmani Grandal
Overall Ranks: #65 (ESPN), #38 (BP), #53 (BA)
Grandal was one of the key pieces in the Mat Latos trade, and his recent promotion to San Diego is cause for excitement for the fanbase. After starting the year by dominating at Triple-A Tucson with a gaudy .330/.438/.515 slash line and a 147 wRC+, the 23-year old proved himself Major League ready. Upon getting the call, Grandal became the first player in history to homer from both sides of the plate for his first career hits in the same game, and also became just the seventh player since 1900 to homer for his first three MLB hits. In the six weeks since, the 6’2″ catcher has a .312/.349/.597 slash line for a 159 wRC+ and is leaving little doubt that his powerful frame and strong discipline are here to stay, making him a 2013 draft candidate for deeper or multi-catcher leagues.

3. Yonder Alonso
Overall Ranks: #69 (ESPN), #86 (BP), #33 (BA)
Alonso was another asset acquired in the Latos deal, and the Padres thought enough of him as a first base prospect that they dealt stud in the making Anthony Rizzo to open up the position for the future. Alonso has spent the entire season with the big league club and performed admirably as a rookie, working a 107 wRC+ while showing good discipline and fielding. With that said, Alonso lacks the ideal pop for the position and is quite a hindrance on the basepaths, so the Padres have to hope there is more development in the 25-year old’s bat to eventually make him anything more than a league-average first baseman.

4. Casey Kelly
Overall Ranks: #32 (ESPN), #78 (BP), #76 (BA)
Once a highly-touted two sport, hitting-and-pitching prospect, Kelly has taken a bit longer than hoped to move through the system, but was valued enough to be a key piece, along with Rizzo, in the Adrian Gonzalez trade from 2010. After a pretty good season at Double-A San Antonio in 2011, Kelly started just two games at Tucson before succumbing to elbow inflammation and only recently started pitching again at Rookie Ball. Currently 22, Kelly will not be too old for Triple-A next season, but the Padres will likely give him a look in spring training to see how he has developed without much of a minor league season. The injury likely pushed his MLB timeline back a full year.

Additions and Subtractions
All of the Padres’ key moves came in the offseason and were reflected in the preseason rankings. Top draft pick Max Fried is expected to rank high on the prospect lists for 2013. The Padres also had three supplemental round picks, all of whom signed, potentially giving the system some higher ceiling players to go with their impressive depth. Opting to extend Huston Street and Carlos Quentin rather than deal them for prospects probably does not hurt the farm much, given the market for such players now that they will not return a draft pick if they are not retained.

Other Interesting Names By Level
Triple-A Tucson – Beyond graduating Grandal and strikeout-machine Brad Boxberger, Tucson has also been home to star prospect Jedd Gyorko, a 23-year old power hitting third baseman with a .954 OPS since his early promotion from Double-A. Matt Clark is a bit old at 25 but has 22 home runs and an .897 OPS although it is his second year at the level. The pitching staff is basically devoid of strong stats due to the PCL hitting environment, but reliever Cory Burns has emerged as a future relief arm with 77 strikeouts in 65 innings and a 2.63 ERA.

Double-A San Antonio – The first base tandem of Cody Decker and Nathan Freiman are both too old for the level but have combined for 45 home runs and big OPSs, while 21-year old second baseman Jonathan Galvez has impressed with a .330 AVG and .873 OPS. 21-year old outfielder Reymond Fuentes has the legs for the Majors with 28 steals in 34 attempts, but his .299 OBP has a long way to go before he’s on the MLB radar. The pitching staff was expected to be the gem of the system, but Robbie Erlin threw just 33 innings before injury derailed his season, while top-10 prospect Keyvius Sampson has struggled to a 5.31 ERA thanks to 52 walks in 103.1 innings. Andrew Werner, a non-prospect, was the best of the bunch with a 3.23 ERA before a recent promotion to Tucson.

High-A Lake Elsinore – Catcher Tommy Medica has been a stud this year, with a 1.003 OPS across 68 games but at 24 should be expected to out-perform his peers at this level. Meanwhile, shortstop Casey McElroy and second baseman Justin Miller have also been short-season kings, with Miller especially impressing with 10 home runs, 14 steals and a .408 OBP in 266 at bats, although curiously neither performed well at Fort Wayne earlier in the year. Top prospect Cory Spangenberg has disappointed in his time with the Storm, hitting just a single home run and producing a .693 OPS, but he is still just 21. Donn Roach has been an ace for the team, posting a 1.94 ERA across 13 starts with two different teams, and he was recently given the bump to San Antonio for a greater challenge at just 21.

Low-A Fort Wayne – The TinCaps have been successful despite a pretty mediocre offense, leading one to look towards the staff for stars. However, catching prospect Austin Hedges has been above league average at age 20 with a .261/.322/.430 slash line. Dominican outfield prospect Yeison Ascencio has followed up a strong Arizona League season with a team-best .849 OPS, and with just 29 strikeouts in 260 at bats he may be ready for a more challenging level. Stud prospect Joseph Ross, like Casey Kelly and Robbie Erlin before him, succumbed to injury early in the year and is only now making his way back, leaving the staff to be lead by the impressive trio of Frank Garces (22, 2.41 ERA, 95:45 K:BB in 101 innings), Matthew Wisler (19, 2.68 ERA, 89:26 K:BB in 94 innings), and Adys Portillo (20, 1.87 ERA, 81:45 K:BB in 91 innings, recently promoted). Wisler, in particular, is exciting as a teenager with excellent command ratios.

It is difficult to not like the Padres system. They have enough depth and talent at each level to paint the picture of a steady pipeline in place, while their prospect types vary enough that they can play an attractive trade partner for just about anyone. The one concern the franchise likely has is the loss of a development year for three of their top arms, but while the pitching may be delayed in getting to the majors, a strong draft has kept the system stocked and primed for another #1 ranking next season.

I’m new here, so come get to know me on Twitter @BlakeMurphyODC.

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Deadline Deals: Pittsburgh Pirates Edition

Posted on 31 July 2012 by Chris Caylor

For the second straight year, the Pittsburgh Pirates find themselves in the thick of the NL Central race. In 2011, the acquisitions of Derrek Lee and Ryan Ludwick turned out to be rentals that did nothing to help their disastrous second half. Pirates GM Neal Huntington has been busy again this past week, making four different trades. How did he fare this time around?

1) Wandy Rodriguez for three minor leaguers – It might seem like a big price for a middle-of-the-rotation starter, but Houston kicked in a fair amount of cash in order to obtain better quality prospects. The Pirates are waist-deep in pitching prospects. While you can make a case that the Pirates did not need Rodriguez, they didn’t surrender any of those top prospects to get him. As a bonus, acquiring Rodriguez means that other pitching-needy teams (Braves, Cardinals, D-Backs) don’t get him either. The Pirates’ rotation may not be overpowering, but it’s plenty sturdy.
2) Travis Snider for Brad Lincoln – It might seem like Snider has been around for 10 years, but he’s only 24, and two seasons removed from hitting 14 home runs in about a half-season worth of at-bats for the Toronto Blue Jays. He has consistently mashed in the minors, including in Triple-A this season: 13 HR, 56 RBI, 1.021 OPS for Las Vegas. With Edgar Encarnacion and Adam Lind in place, Snider is left without a regular place to play. The Pirates are a perfect landing spot for him. While it may be asking too much to jump right in and offer lineup protection for Andrew McCutchen, Snider has solid run-producer potential. The fact that Snider isn’t just a two-month rental shows that GM Neal Huntington has his eye on the future as well as 2012. In Lincoln, the Pirates are losing a useful bullpen arm who has seen huge jumps in his K/9 and K/BB ratios. Lincoln, 27, could be enjoying a breakout season, but it also seems reasonable to expect a correction in his numbers moving to the AL East.
3) Gaby Sanchez and Kyle Kaminska for Gorkys Hernandez and a competitive balance draft pick – In 2010-11, Sanchez compiled 38 HR, 163 RBI and 144 runs scored. Not spectacular numbers, but certainly useful. In 2012, Sanchez bottomed out, tallying an awful .556 OPS before being sent down. At age 28, Sanchez obviously no longer qualifies as a prospect, but if he can regain his prior form, he will provide an upgrade at first. At worst, he should be a decent part-timer (.298/.390./.488 against lefties). The Marlins get the Pirates’ competitive-balance draft pick, which will be the 33rd overall next year, per Jim Callis of Baseball America. Hernandez and Kaminska are thrown-ins, essentially.
4) Chad Qualls for Casey McGehee – Qualls, a veteran of several pennant races, presumably replaces Lincoln in the Bucco bullpen. McGehee had been a part-time player – and not a very productive one at that (88 OPS+) – before the Snider/Sanchez deals, so he was entirely expendable. Compared to Lincoln, Qualls is a downgrade, but the Pirates are hoping to get Juan Cruz back in August to help take up the slack from Lincoln’s trade.

After the deals, let’s take a peek at the Pirates’ lineup and rotation:

C – Rod Barajas
1B – Gaby Sanchez/Garrett Jones
2B – Neil Walker
SS – Clint Barmes
3B – Pedro Alvarez
LF – Starling Marte/Travis Snider
CF – Andrew McCutchen
RF – Travis Snider/Garrett Jones

Rotation – James McDonald, A.J. Burnett, Erik Bedard, Wandy Rodriguez, Jeff Karstens

The only thing Huntington has not yet addressed is the gaping black hole at shortstop. How Clint Barmes still has an every day job in the majors defies reason. Stephen Drew or Marco Scutaro would have been perfect fits, both offensively and defensively (then again, Jose Lind might represent an improvement over Barmes at the plate).

In all, though, the Buccos’ dealings should prove more productive, not only the rest of this season but into 2013 and beyond. Whether it’s enough to catch the Reds and continue to hold off the Cardinals remains to be seen; however, it seems clear that the Pirates are on the verge of snapping their 20-year run of sub-.500 finishes.

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