In a news blurb that came as a surprise to nobody, the Pirates have released 37-year old catcher Rod Barajas. Barajas, who hit for a measly .283 on-base average this past season, was set to make $3.5 million in the 2013 campaign. He will receive no buyout. Reliever Hisanori Takahashi has also been released by the club. He was claimed off waivers in August from the Los Angeles Angels and had an 8.64 ERA in just nine appearances in a Pirates uniform. Takahashi was already headed for free agency, so this move was slightly unnecessary.
Pedro Alvarez’s option was exercised, so he will make $700,000 this upcoming season. His .784 OPS was good enough for the third-highest OPS on the Pirates in 2012, behind only Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones. He also smoked a whopping 30 home runs, good for tenth in the National League, including this mammoth shot, and was third in OBA.
Travis Snider was pulled out of a game he was in at around midnight today, and Blue Jays fans were speculating that he was part of a trade to the Chicago Cubs for Matt Garza or Ryan Dempster. The reality is that he was traded to the Pirates for Brad Lincoln.
Snider is a player I’ve had my eyes on while he was in Toronto since he was named the sixth-best prospect in the MLB prior to the 2009 season and he straight-up dominated AAA, hitting for a .333/.412/.565 triple-slash line, as well as crushing 33 bombs in 183 games. Sadly, his performance in the minors hasn’t translated to the Bigs, where he’s hit for an OBP of just .305 and a slugging average of .429 in 241 games. He seems to be bouncing up and down between an above- and below-league average OPS, having an OPS+ above 100 in 2008 (his rookie season) and 2010 (and so far in 2012, but he’s played nine games) and below 100 in 2009 and 2011.
Brad Lincoln is headed back to Toronto in the trade. In 28 games this year, Lincoln has a 2.73 ERA and a 3.44 xFIP. Maybe the reason Toronto traded for him is because they think he will be a starter for them, but that ship sailed a long time ago. He started five games this season and was sent to the pen because of his lackluster performance, including a 6.08 ERA and a .340 opponents’ on-base average. His 0.50 ERA out of the bullpen is incredible, but I don’t really see why a team would trade a left-handed power bat for a reliever who may not even be able to keep up the results.
As for the outfield configuration, Travis Snider’s UZR/150 in left field (5.6) in about 1500 innings is higher than anywhere else in the outfield, but that is also balanced by the spacious left field in PNC Park. He doesn’t have the arm to play right field, so it would be tough to figure out where to put him.
With the acquisition of Snider, you would have to imagine that Jose Tabata’s days as a Pirate are numbered.
Marte is the top position player prospect in the Pirates’ farm and excited fans last season when he hit a .332 average and a .870 OPS with the AA Altoona Curve, which earned him a promotion to the Indians. While he hasn’t had the exact same statistics, he has hit .286/.348/.500, which puts his OPS just .022 points below his 2011 total.
The Pirates have had a problem with their corner outfielders all season, especially with Jose Tabata who earned himself a demotion to triple-A after hitting just .230 with a .290 on base average. Drew Sutton was hot for a while after being acquired, but he has cooled off considerably since. Josh Harrison and Garrett Jones have shown their ineptitude at playing the corner outfield positions, and Alex Presley cannot hit.
To make room for Marte on the roster, the Pirates sent down pitcher Evan Meek, who was recalled from Indianapolis on Saturday.
Rodriguez has played his entire eight-year career for Houston, and has a 3.61 ERA through 83 starts in the past three seasons. This season, he has started in 21 games, going 7-9 with a 3.79 ERA. He has lowered his strikeout rate to 6.1 per nine innings, his lowest since his rookie 2005 season, but also has a career-low walk rate, at 2.2 BB/9. His 3.90 xFIP and .287 BABIP (career average is .299) show that he isn’t due for much regression, if any.
He is owed $13 million in 2013 and the same in 2014, but that season is a
team option with a $2.5 million buyout player option due to his trade to Pittsburgh. Rodriguez’s next scheduled start would have been against the Pirates, so it will be interesting to see if the Bucs start him against his former team in his Pirates debut. There is no word on who or what the Pirates sent back in return.
The Pirates have reportedly sent back outfielder Robbie Grossman in the trade. Grossman is playing for the AA Altoona Curve, hitting .262/.374/.403 in 94 games.
The Pirates have also traded middle infielder Alen Hanson to the Astros. Hanson catapulted up the Pirates’ prospect list after an incredible start to the season, hitting .319 with a .935 OPS in 96 games for the West Virginia Power. If Hanson is included in this trade, the Pirates have to be getting something else in return.
Alen Hanson is not included in the trade, instead the Pirates send Rudy Owens and Colton Cain to Houston. Cain was an eighth round pick in 2009, and has pitched decently in high-A ball for the Bradenton Marauders. Rudy Owens can be a future #3 starter, but he’s been stuck in AAA Indy for the past two seasons. I still think that if the Astros are getting three mid-level prospects, they must be sending cash in return.
According to Bill Brink of the Post-Gazette, the Astros have, in fact, included cash. They are sending $12 million over the next three seasons – $2 million this year, $4.5 million next year, and $5.5 million in 2014.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have placed pitcher Juan Cruz on the 15-day disabled list with right shoulder inflammation and pitcher Evan Meek has been recalled from class AAA to take his roster spot.
Cruz has pitched in 37 games for the Bucs this season, throwing a 2.61 ERA through 31 innings. He has a 9.3 K/9 and a 4.9 walk rate. Meek was demoted to the Indians after a lackluster 7.39 ERA over ten relief appearances.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have recalled outfielder Gorkys Hernandez from their AAA affiliate in Indianapolis. To make room on the 25-man roster, outfielder Jose Tabata was sent down to the Indians.
Hernandez, who was previously recalled by the Pirates in late May, is hitting for an OBA of .364 in 64 games played for the International League’s Indianapolis Indians. In his nine games with the big league club earlier this season, Hernandez had 11 plate appearances and hit .200/.273/.200. Acquired by the Pirates in the Nate McLouth trade in 2009 and named the “best defensive outfielder” in the Pirates’ minor league system by Baseball America, the 24-year old Hernandez has spent time in center and right fields, but the majority of his starts have been in left field.
Jose Tabata has struggled mightily in his 2012 campaign, having an OBA under .300. Even though he has stolen eight bases, tied for second most on the Pirates, he has been thrown out nine different times, which is the most on the team.
Gerrit Cole was promoted to double-a Altoona today.
Cole has been wonderful this season, going 5-1 in 13 starts with a 2.55 ERA. He struck out 69 batters while walking just 21, bringing his K/BB ratio to 3.29. In his 67 innings pitched, Cole has allowed just 53 batters to reach via a hit for a batting average against of .217. All of these statistics brought fans to vote him in to the Florida State League All-Star Game.
In his final single-A start, Cole tossed five scoreless innings, allowing three hits while walking two and striking out seven.
His first start in Altoona is expected to be on June 20th, next Wednesday. Make the trip. Altoona’s about two and a half hours away from downtown Pittsburgh, and you can get tickets here. There are going to be fireworks after the game.