Bucs Bits: Pirates News and Notes 12/19/12

A few days removed from PirateFest weekend, here are some Bucco links:

- Speaking of PirateFest, nearly 17,000 fans flocked to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, which set a new record.

- Charlie Wilmoth of Bucs Dugout provides five reasons why the Pirates aren’t likely to get a huge return if they decide to trade Joel Hanrahan.

- More on Hanrahan — Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness wonders if the Hammer would be a significant upgrade for the Dodgers.

- Andrew McCutchen is a candidate to be on the cover of MLB 13: The Show. Voting begins on January 7th.

- Jason Shetler of Bucco Nation got an exclusive interview with MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo.

- Gaby Sanchez is ready to bounce back in 2013, writes Bob Cohn of the Trib.

- Happy Holidays from the Pirates.

- The introduction of the new Sunday alternate uniforms and batting practice cap at Friday’s PirateFest luncheon:

- Neil Walker is 100% and ready to go for 2013:

102 days until Opening Day.

Go Bucs

Pirates re-sign Morton, non-tender Karstens

The tender/non-tender deadline was Friday at midnight, and the Bucs had decisions to make on several players. They dealt Chris Resop, who was a non-tender candidate, and Yamaico Navarro earlier in the evening.

It surfaced yesterday afternoon that the club was going to non-tender Jeff Karstens. This one was a bit confusing as he’s a pretty reliable pitcher, despite a few injuries. Regardless, the Bucs decided to cut ties with him after five seasons. The longest-tenured player is now Andrew McCutchen, who debuted in June of 2009.

The team also re-signed Charlie Morton to a one year, $2 million deal. Morton, who went 2-6 with a 4.65 ERA before hitting the disabled list, will be out until midseason. He made $2.445 million last season, so he is taking a bit of a pay cut to remain with the team.

Finally, the Pirates tendered contracts to five other players: Neil Walker, James McDonald, Joel Hanrahan, Garrett Jones, and Gaby Sanchez.

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

Top Ten Pirates of the PNC Park Era: #10 Neil Walker

Games Hits HR RBI AVG OPS
4 years 415 428 38 218 .280 .763

Despite just two full seasons in the league, Neil Walker comes in at number 10 on our Top Ten Pirates of the PNC Park Era list. With the exception of Freddy Sanchez, Walker has been the Bucs’ best option at second base in recent memory. Some players that saw time at 2B over the years include Pat Meares, Abraham Nunez, Bobby Hill, Pokey Reese, Jose Castillo, Aki Iwamura, etc. Neil has already made a significant impact for the club, despite switching positions multiple times in the minor leagues. He’s held down a respectable .280 average and .763 OPS in his career. His defense continues to improve as well. Walker’s importance to the team really showed down the stretch when he was out with injury. He’s due for a raise in arbitration this year; he is still under team control through the 2016 season. We are a bit biased for the “Pittsbugh Kid’ since he’s a local guy.

Photo: Keith Allison/Creative Commons

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.