Casey at the Bat

Casey McGehee came to Pittsburgh via trade in December, when the Pirates sent reliever Jose Veras to Milwaukee in exchange for the 29-year old infielder. McGehee struggled in 2011 after a promising season in 2010 in which he hit .285 with 23 HR and 104 RBI. Looking for a fresh start, McGehee entered the year as a contingency plan for third baseman Pedro Alvarez, and also took reps at first base for a potential platoon with Garrett Jones. He has adapted to first base well, and hasn’t seen much playing time at the hot corner since Pedro has been the everyday third baseman. After hitting respectably at the beginning of the season, McGehee has really struggled as of late. Here’s a look at his early season statistics.

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Bucs Bits: Pirates News and Notes

– Despite a tremendous effort on Twitter by Bucco fans everywhere, Edwin Jackson decided not to come to Pittsburgh, and instead signed a one-year deal with the Washington Nationals.  The hashtag “#ejaxtobucs” was not enough to persuade the 28 year old starter to join the Pirates.

– However, it has been reported that Jackson turned down a three-year offer from the Pirates.  The deal would have been worth around $30 million.  It was clear that Jackson wanted to pitch for a contender, but it would’ve been great to see him in a Bucco uniform.

– The Pirates signed Brian Tallet. The veteran lefty suffered a few injuries last season and finished with a 9.45 ERA. He will likely compete with fellow lefties Danny Moskos, Jo-Jo Reyes, and Doug Slaten for a roster spot.

Casey McGehee will have his arbitration hearing on February 16th. His desired salary is $2.725MM. The Pirates asked for a salary of $2.35MM.

– The first episode of the Pirates Roundtable Podcast, featuring McEffect, Raise the Jolly Roger, North Side Notch, and Three Rivers Burgh Blog, was released this week. Be sure to check it out.

– ESPN ranked the NL Central by position. Pretty interesting read, with a few questionable placements. Overall, it’s fairly accurate.

– It’s been reported that the Pirates inquired about Roy Oswalt… but he declined. At least the Pirates are trying, right? Now that we know that they are trying for these guys, there shouldn’t be too many complaints about the Nutting’s being cheap. Simply put, the big name free agents do not want to come to Pittsburgh. Hopefully someday soon, we will turn it around and place ourselves in the running for solid free agents.

– ESPN’s Jim Bowden reported that the Pirates and manager Clint Hurdle will be working out Dmitri Young next week in Bradenton. Really not sure what to say about this, other than the fact that we don’t think the Pirates should sign him. He’s been out of baseball since 2008, but ESPN wrote an article in January about a potential comeback for Young. Young has had numerous off the field problems. He played in Venezuela this fall, and hit .166 in 66 at-bats. He apparently has lost 75 pounds and has his life back on track. Still, we don’t think it’s a good idea from the Pirates perspective.

57 days until Opening Day.

Go Bucs

Remaining Options at First Base

This past week, the Rays signed Carlos Pena to a one year $7.5MM deal.  With Pena now off the market, the Pirates list of possible first basemen is dwindling.  As it stands now, the Bucs have handful of internal options, and a couple of free agent options.

Free agents:
Derrek Lee – Yeah, its unlikely.  VERY, VERY unlikely.  Lee has already expressed that he isn’t really interested in returning, and has said that he will retire if he doesn’t get the kind of money offers that he wants.  But the Pirates shouldn’t give up on Lee just yet.  By no means will DLee put up the type of numbers he did in 2011, but he could still be productive.  He’ll be 36 on Opening Day, which is a concern.  Still, Lee would probably be the best power hitter in the Bucs’ lineup.

Casey Kotchman – Kotchman has bounced around the league and has been with a few teams.  While he is slightly above average defensively, his bat is a huge question mark.  He had a great 2011 campaign, hitting .306, but hasn’t been very productive other than that.  Kotchman probably wouldn’t cost too much, and would add some decent pop to the lineup.

Internally, the Bucs have 5 options that they could use at first base in some combination.
Casey McGehee
Garrett Jones
Nick Evans
Matt Hague
Pedro Alvarez
We won’t get in to the specific numbers that each of these guys has put up, but there are a few possibilities within them.  The most likely possibility is that Jones and McGehee start Opening Day in some sort of righty/lefty platoon.  A good idea in theory, but we saw how the Jones/Diaz RF platoon worked out last year.  Another possibility is that Pedro switches to first base.  The odds of this happening are slim to none, as Pedro is much more useful at third base, providing he hits well.  Don’t count on El Toro being a first baseman.  The other two options are Hague and Evans.  Evans has had minimal major league experience, and did relatively well at the plate.  Hague has had a pretty successful minor league career, and is intriguing.  Whether he starts out in AAA or the majors will be determined in Spring Training.

Hague could get a chance to make the club

So with Pena going to Tampa, it looks like the best option for the Pirates’ first base issue will have to be solved from within their system.  Personally, it would be nice to see Evans and Hague get a chance.  Couldn’t hurt right?  As of now though, it looks like Jones and McGehee will be the co-firstbaggers.  Can they put up the power numbers that the Pirates need from the corner positions?  We’ll have to wait and see.

Can McGehee return to his 2010 form?

Go Bucs

Who’s On First?

No, not like that.

But who is going to be playing first base for the Pirates in 2012?

Right now, it’s looking like Garrett Jones could very well end up being the starting first baseman. However, it is known that Jones cannot hit lefties very well. In 2011, he hit just .147 against southpaws.

So where do you go from there? With Jones’ inability to hit lefties, we could very well see at platoon at 1B. Either Nick Evans, who was picked up in free agency from the Mets, or Casey McGehee, acquired in last week’s trade with Milwaukee, could be candidates for the platoon job. Evans is a career .295 hitter against left-handers. McGehee has only played a handful of games at 1B and will most likely be a backup to Alvarez anyway. I, for one, am not a fan of the platoon, as it has not been very successful in past years for the Buccos.

Another option would be to aggresively pursue a first baseman in free agency, such as Carlos Pena or Derrek Lee. The Pirates are still showing interest in Lee, although it’s unknown if he has any interest in them. Pena’s name has been quiet and has been relatively left off the rumor mill. Although he strikes out a ton, it would be great to have a bat like Pena’s in the middle of the Pirates lineup. I expect both of their names to be brought up in discussion once Prince Fielder makes a decision on where he will play in 2012.

I would love to see the Pirates attempt to make a trade for a first baseman. Ike Davis has been rumored to be on the trade block, but it would cost a good amount (Marte, Lincoln, etc.) to acquire him. I feel that the Pirates have plenty of trading pieces. The outfield packed with Cutch, Tabata, Presley, and Marte on the way. Also, Joel Hanrahan‘s value is higher than ever, after Heath Bell and Jonathan Papelbon received massive contracts.

Regardless of who’s on first for the Buccos in 2012, we hope that they can provide consistent offense, as the team really needs to get the offense going to be successful.

Go Bucs

Offseason Thus Far

To date, the offseason produced by the Pirates front office has featured a variety of moves. The rumor mill started up when it was announced that the team decided to decline the options of Ryan Doumit, Chris Snyder, Ronny Cedeno, and Paul Maholm. It was somewhat surprising to see them let go both catchers, even though they both possessed costly options. These moves left holes at catcher, shortstop, and a spot in the rotation.To fill the void at catcher, the Pirates picked up veteran Rod Barajas on November 10th for 1yr/4mil. Barajas should provide solid defense and steady offense, even though his career is on the decline. He will be the starter with light-hitting Mike McKenry backing him up.

Next, the Buccos acquired Clint Barmes for 2 yrs/10.5mil. Some considered this to be a very generous contract for the slick fielding shortstop, but I will take it as long as he stays healthy and makes consistent contributions both offensively and defensively.

Heading into the Winter Meetings in Dallas, it was said that the Pirates were not expected to make any splashes but they could lay potential groundwork for future deals. However, they reached out to former Bucco Nate McLouth by offering him a 1yr/1.75mil deal. Nate will most likely be the fourth outfielder, replacing Xavier Paul, who was released in late November. The same day, the Pirates acquired LHP Erik Bedard. Although he has a heavy injury history, Bedard could be a potential “ace” of the rotation if he can stay off the disabled list. Also, the price was right at $4.5 mil for 1 year.

As the deadline to tender players approached, the Buccos were left with a few important decisions. Ultimately, they decided to tender all players (Joel Hanrahan, Garrett Jones, Jeff Karstens, Evan Meek, Charlie Morton, and Chris Resop) except for Jose Veras, who they dealt to Milwaukee for Casey McGehee. Despite a rough season in 2011, McGehee is a solid backup plan in case Pedro Alvarez flounders again. He could also see time at first base if need be.

The Pirates have also made a plethora of other minor moves, such as signing Jake Fox and Nick Evans, acquiring Yamaico Navarro via trade, and selecting Gustavo Nunez in the Rule 5 draft. We will see where these players turn out in the organization, as only time will tell. Spring training is just a few months away.

Go Bucs