MLB Network Discusses Pirates’ Offseason Wish List

The Pirates got some air time on MLB Network on Friday, as Billy Ripken, Mitch Williams, and Ahmed Fareed talked about the Bucs’ offseason wish list on MLB Tonight.

Here’s a video we captured of the segment:

*Sorry for the poor audio quality; you may need to turn up the volume.

They focused on three areas: shortstop, corner outfield, and starting pitcher.

At shortstop, Bill Ripken feels the Pirates should stick with Clint Barmes. Mitch Williams, on the other hand, suggested acquiring Dee Gordon from the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Ripken went out on a limb and decided he wants to Bucs to make a run at Josh Hamilton, who is the most prized outfielder on the market. “This big man patrolling the outfield with McCutchen out there and with Marte out there; you got the possibility of having one of the best outfields in all of baseball,” he said. Ripken went on to say, “I don’t know if they can pull the trigger… He would look good in the black and gold.” Williams stated that he’d rather stick with Marte and Snider at the corners.

As for a starting pitcher, Ripken suggests Edwin Jackson, and Williams likes Ryan Dempster in the Bucco rotation.

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Bill James 2013 Projections: Pirates Hitters

Bill James’ first batch of projections for the 2013 season were recently released and can be found on the player pages at FanGraphs. Here’s a look at some of the Pirates hitters are projected to perform next year:

G PA HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG
Alex Presley
96
326 8 43 32 11 .288 .343 .447
Andrew McCutchen
159
675 24 101 81 22 .286 .372 .483
Clint Barmes
133
441 9 42 43 2 .233 .286 .353
Gaby Sanchez
115
394 11 44 49 3 .263 .343 .418
Garrett Jones
140
484 20 57 69 4 .254 .315 .454
Jose Tabata
102
353 3 47 26 12 .278 .345 .377
Michael McKenry
108
363 11 35 41 1 .239 .316 .404
Neil Walker
154
647 17 77 88 9 .275 .337 .435
Pedro Alvarez
147
597 29 70 91 2 .257 .336 .481
Starling Marte
148
551 15 82 64 31 .297 .336 .479
Travis Snider
89
312 11 43 45 5 .278 .345 .468

A few quick notes:

- James has Alex Presley bouncing back with a .288 average after a sophomore slump campaign in which he hit just .237 and traveled to Triple-A Indianapolis a couple of times.

- Andrew McCutchen is projected to regress a bit after his MVP-caliber year. A .286 average with 24 homers would be nice, but not as stellar as his .327 avg/31 homers in 2012.

- Clint Barmes is expected to do pretty much the same thing at the plate as he did last season.

- Gaby Sanchez is pretty “meh” at .263 batting average with 11 home runs and 44 runs batted in. Another player the Bucs picked up at July’s deadline, Travis Snider, is in the same boat – .278 average with 11 HR and 43 RBI.

- James still projects Garrett Jones to put up decent power, but expects a 20 point drop off in batting average (.274 to .254).

- Jose Tabata will look to continue his disappointing career. Another 3 homer year with just 12 stolen bases; at least his average is projected to jump up to .278.

- Michael McKenry is expected to have a pretty similar season. It’ll be interesting to see how he adjusts to a larger role in 2013.

- Neil Walker is projected to have a nice season. We’ll take a .275 average and 17 homers any day from a starting second baseman.

- James projects Pedro Alvarez to keep improving upon his solid season in 2012. Another season with about 30 homers and somewhere around 90 RBI would be great from Pedro.

- Last but not least, Starling Marte is expected to have a big time season. A .297 average with 15 home runs and 31 stolen bases would be tremendous for Starling. It’s hard to predict his performance since he’s unproven and appeared in just 47 games, but it still gets us excited to think about the potential he has.

Sometime within the next week or so, we’ll take a look Bill James’ predictions for the Pirates pitchers.

Go Bucs

2012 in Review: Infield

Solid play – both offensively and defensively – led to a dependable core of Bucco infielders.

The top seven infielders in 2012:

Games AVG HR RBI OPS
Garrett Jones 145 .274 27 86 .832
Neil Walker 129 .280 14 69 .768
Clint Barmes 144 .229 8 45 .593
Pedro Alvarez 149 .244 30 85 .784
Josh Harrison 104 .233 3 16 .624
Gaby Sanchez 50 .241 4 13 .720
Jordy Mercer 42 .210 1 5 .639

Other players that saw action in the infield: Matt Hague, Brock Holt, Yamaico Navarro, Jeff Clement, Chase d’Arnaud.

GI Jones definitely put up some strong numbers. His power helped keep the Bucs afloat whenever Cutch struggled, and his defense seemed to get better as he became the every-day first baseman. Neil put up some unreal numbers in June and July, and despite his season-ending injury in September, he still was one of the best second basemen in the league. His development over the past three years has really shown. He combined with Barmes to be a very strong tandem up the middle. Clint, despite some disappointing offensive numbers, was solid at shortstop. Many even thought he should have been up for a Gold Glove. His offensive struggles only seemed to be highlighted when the team struggled, which isn’t really fair to a shortstop who is more known for his defense. At the hot corner, Pedro had some major ups and downs. He displayed his cannon of an arm, but it sometimes resulted in the ball landing 15 rows up in the stands. At the plate, his streakiness really showed. There were times you couldn’t get a fastball by him, and there were times where he looked absolutely lost at the plate. Despite that, he still ended up with 30 bombs and 85 RBIs, and could very well be on his way to 35/100 seasons very soon. Gaby Sanchez was acquired at the trade deadline and showed some promise. He came in as the Pirates plummeted, so his numbers are hard to gauge. Harrison, Mercer, and the rest of the bench weren’t too great. Despite J-Hay’s and Jordy’s versatility, they can’t hit at all. The Pirates’ lack of infield depth really showed when Walker missed significant time in August and September.

Unlikely heroes

Some of the most criticized Pirates came up big in the 6-3 win tonight.  Kevin Correia pitched a beauty, while Alex Presley and Clint Barmes sparked the offense.  The win meant a series-win against the Astros, and one win closer to a winning season.

Garrett Jones and Gaby Sanchez each knocked in a run in the first against Fernando Abad, who is usually used out of the bullpen.  Rod Barajas chugged home when Alex Presley spanked a triple in the second, and Brock Holt drove in AP for his second RBI of the game.  The sixth run came in when Barmes laid down a perfect suicide-squeeze.  Clint finished the game 1-2 with two walks and a run batted in while hitting in the second spot of the lineup – a late change that worked out well.

Correia did his thing, giving up just one run and four hits over six innings of work.  Jared Hughes pitched two scoreless innings and Jason Grilli closed out the ninth (although he did give up a two-run homer.)

The Bucs’ 72nd win of the year not only brings them to within ten games of a .500 season, but matches their win total from 2011.  That means that any win from here on out will be an improvement from last season.  That’s all you can ask for from a team like the Bucs: just improve on the previous season.  The Cubs come into town for a big series that could give the Pirates some momentum as they go into Cincinnati next week.

Pirates (72-64) – Astros (42-95)

Win: Correia (10-8)
Loss: Abad (0-3)

BOX SCORE

Go Bucs

Pirates interested in Stephen Drew

While most trade rumors are revolving around Justin Upton, there’s another Diamondback that’s being looked at. According to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, the Pirates are showing interest in Arizona’s Stephen Drew. The Red Sox and Tigers have also shown some interest in him.

The 29-year old shortstop has appeared in just 15 games this season for the D’Backs. He recently returned from an ankle injury that kept him out of action for 11 months.

The article states that, “The Pirates’ .515 OPS at short is the worst in the majors. The Red Sox likely would use Drew as a backup infielder. The Tigers could play him at short or use him off the bench.”

The Bucs certainly haven’t received much offensive production from veteran Clint Barmes, who’s hitting just .205 in 82 games. However, Drew hasn’t been much better. Since returning, Drew is hitting .192 (10 for 52) with no home runs, three runs batted in, and four walks. He has more strikeouts than hits, and is striking out once every four at-bats. Drew is a career .268/.329/.439 hitter.

Drew’s contract isn’t very favorable, but neither is Barmes’. Drew makes $7.75 million this season, and has a $10 million mutual option for 2013 with a $1.35 million buyout. Barmes makes $5 million this year, and $5.5 million next.

Another available shortstop is Yunel Escobar of the Toronto Blue Jays, but it’s unsure if the Bucs have inquired on him. Escobar is hitting .249 with 6 HR and 34 RBI in 89 games this season. He has a career triple-slash line of .284/.357/.392.

UPDATE

Apparently the Pirates haven’t had any conversations with Arizona regarding Drew, and neither have the Red Sox.