Checking in on some former Buccos

Here’s a look at how some ex-Pirates are faring this season:

Nate McLouth was recently called up by the Baltimore Orioles. He tore it up for their Triple-A club, the Norfolk Tides, and earned a spot on their big league roster. Nate has hit .250 with four doubles and a triple in 14 games for the O’s

Brad Lincoln has an ERA of 6.55 in eight games for the Toronto Blue Jays. He’s been tagged for eight runs in his last four outings.

Adam LaRoche has enjoyed a solid season for the first place Washington Nationals. In 114 games, he has 23 HR and 77 RBI while hitting .260.

Sean Burnett is also contributing big time in the nation’s capital. The lefty reliever has a 1.94 ERA in 55 appearances for the Nats.

– In 54 games for the Mets, Ronny Cedeno is hitting .287 with 3 homers and 21 runs batted in. He missed time due to injury in April (left intercostal strain) and May (strained left calf).

– In his first season with the Minnesota Twins, Ryan Doumit has hit a solid .292 with 14 long balls. The injury-prone catcher has played in 101 of Minnesota’s 120 games, and has only been bothered by a right calf strain this season. He inked a two-year extension with the Twins in June.

Steve Pearce has landed in Houston after playing 28 games for the Orioles. He’s hit .283 in 16 games for the Astros.

Chris Snyder is also with the lowly Astros. Snyder is hitting an abysmal .181 this season.

Xavier Paul has been clutch for the enemy Cincinnati Reds as of late. He sparked a walk-off win on Sunday by hitting a leadoff pinch-hit triple. Paul has managed a .342 batting average in 38 at-bats for the Redlegs.

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Shortstop Comparison: Clint Barmes vs. Ronny Cedeno

 Ronny Cedeno held down the shortstop position for the Pirates last season, appearing in 128 games. Despite some mental lapses and odd plays, Ronny wasn’t too bad as the starting shortstop. However, the Pirates declined his option in the offseason and brought in veteran Clint Barmes for a two-year deal. Barmes, who played under manager Clint Hurdle in Colorado, was considered an upgrade to Cedeno. But Barmes hasn’t played to the expectations of Pirates fans so far this season. Here’s a breakdown of the two shortstops in their time with the Bucs.

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The Replacements

If you consider yourself a baseball fan, you have probably seen Moneyball by now. In the following scene, Billy Beane (aka Brad Pitt) is discussing possible free agents with his scouting staff:

He mentions that they must think differently, instead of taking a classic, conventional style approach of scouting players. They must replace 3 pieces of their lineup for the upcoming 2002 season. Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon, and Olmedo Saenz are all leaving Oakland. While the scouts debate which potential free agent they want to examine, Beane offers a better proposal. After he is persuaded by Peter Brand (“Your goal should be to buy wins, and in order to buy wins you need to buy runs”), he mentions to the scouts that what they need to do is simple: replace the average OBP of Giambi, Damon, and Saenz.

This is where the Pirates come into play. This offseason, Ryan Doumit, Xavier Paul, and Ronny Cedeno all moved on to different cities to play in 2012. The Pirates needed to fill the holes at catcher, shortstop, and fourth outfielder. To do so, Neal Huntington and his staff brought in C Rod Barajas, SS Clint Barmes, and OF Nate McLouth. Using the Moneyball approach, we decided to do a few calculations…

In 2011, the three former Pirates had the following on-base percentages:
– Ryan Doumit .353
– Ronny Cedeno .297
– Xavier Paul .292

In 2011, the three current Pirates had the following on-base percentages:
– Rod Barajas .287
– Clint Barmes .312
– Nate McLouth .344

At first glance, Doumit has a marginal lead over Barajas, Barmes is a decent amount better than Cedeno, and McLouth has a marginal lead over Paul. Now let’s calculate the average OBP of the players…

Doumit/Cedeno/Paul
.353 +.297 + .292 = .942 / 3 = .314

This shows that the three former Pirates had an average OBP of .314 for 2011. Now let’s check the other three players…

Barajas/Barmes/McLouth
.287 + .312 + .344 = .943 / 3 = .314

This shows that the three replacements had an average OBP of exactly .314 in 2011.

Are we concluding that the Pirates front office used a Moneyball-esque approach to the offseason? Not at all. It could simply be a total coincidence. Still, it is a little crazy that the average OBP came out to be the exact same for both sets of players. Although the offense was quite lackluster for the Pirates in 2011, it is still a good thing that we haven’t downgraded players, even though staying status quo might not be the best thing for the Pirates lineup. After checking these calculations and seeing the additions of Erik Bedard and A.J. Burnett, we’d say that the Pirates front office has done better as the offseason progressed, and has done a pretty good job overall.

Go Bucs

Pirates Player Profile: Clint Barmes

Clint Barmes
Age: 32
Birth Place: Vincennes, Indiana
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 205 lbs.
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Career Stats:

(FanGraphs)

2012 Projections

(FanGraphs)

Clint Barmes was drafted in 2000 by the Colorado Rockies. The Indiana State University gradutate took three years to make it to the big leagues, debuting with the Rockies in September of 2003. On June 5th, 2005, Barmes broke his left collarbone when he fell on the stairs of his apartment while carrying a package of deer meat that was given to him by teammate Todd Helton. The injury sidelined him for the rest of the season and ended his chances of winning the NL Rookie of the Year award. His next season was considered a disappointment, and in 2007, he lost the starting SS role to young stud Troy Tulowitzki. Barmes spent the majority of that season in AAA. He continued for a few more seasons playing second base for the Rockies, and saw some time at shortstop when Tulo suffered a wrist injury in 2010.

In Novemeber of 2010, Barmes was traded to Houston, where he played shortstop in 2011. He hit .244 with 12 homers and 44 RBI for the Astros. In his career, Barmes is a lifetime .252 hitter with 73 HR and 324 RBI. This offseason, he signed a 2 year/$10.5M contract with the Pirates.

Barmes seems to be another player that has been lured to Pittsburgh by manager Clint Hurdle. He played under Hurdle in Colorado, and Clint is a guy who has a lot of faith in his players. Barmes does not get on base as much as we’d like, but he does hit for pretty decent power for a middle infielder. He is also very slick in the field, and is one of the better defensive shortstops. He’s certainly an upgrade of Cedeno, but we seemed to overpay for him. It’s great that the Pirates are spending money, but $10.5M seems a bit steep for the 32-year old Barmes. Picking up Cedeno’s option would have been much cheaper, but management never seemed to get along with Ronny, as seen through a few benchings in his time with the Buccos. Barmes is projected to have around 12 homers and 50 RBI with about a .245 average. Bill James’ projections for Cedeno are 6 HR, 39 RBI, and a .249 average. The Pirates offense needs a huge boost, and Barmes could provide a little more production. Although he is not the long term answer at shortstop, Barmes should suffice for now.

Go Bucs

Mets Close To Hiring New Mascot?

It appears that Ronny Cedeno is on his way to New York…

In all seriousness, it looks like Ronny Cedeno is nearing a deal with the New York Mets. If the Mets get the deal done, we hope he will do well in NY and we wish him nothing but the best.

Go Bucs