Pittsburgh Pirates Trades Cole/McCutchen

S.Samek

After not doing too much, so far in the off-season, the Pittsburgh Pirates have made two deals in the past couple of days. These are headline level deals.

The first involves Gerrit Cole, heading to Houston for four players.

 
The first player and you could say headliner of this deal is Colin Moran. Moran plays both third and first base, but is looked to be inserted in the former. He ranks as the fourth best prospect in the Pirates system at the moment. He split this season at triple a and the majors. During his 11 games in the majors he hit .364 with a homer and three rbi. Moran was also named a midseason triple a all-star after hitting .308 with 18 home runs this season.

 

Moran should get the nod to start at third base, especially with the uncertainty of Jung Ho Kang. Granted he is unproven, but looks to have a strong upside as a former first round pick.

 

Two arms came to the Pirates in Joe Musgrove and Michael Feliz.

 

Musgrove is a potential starter for the Buccos. In the major leagues he sports an 11-12 record and 4.52 era and was used primarily in the bullpen. However, he is another first round pick and a former top 100 prospect.

 

He won’t replace Cole, at least not this year, but could be a future arm to watch.

 

Feliz is a bullpen arm with numbers that don’t look good. He has a 5.13 era for 98 games in the majors. Yet he strikes out a lot of hitters. Feliz punched out 70 in 48 innings this year and 95 in 65 innings in 2016. The Pirates like him as a potential late-inning arm.

 
I could see this kid being a potential steal, maybe the next setup man, or closer for the Pirates. I like the upside if he can turn it around. His fast ball averaged 96 mph, so he could be a power arm for the Bucs in the future.

 

The final piece in the trade is outfielder Jason Martin. Martin becomes the Pirates 18th ranked prospect. He saw time at advanced a and double a last season, where he hit .278 with 18 home runs and stole 16 bases.

 
This is a good additional piece to the trade. He has some upside, but if it doesn’t pan out he wasn’t the center piece of it anyway.

 

Now Houston gets the Pirates number one starter in Cole. Cole is a good pitcher and at time dominant. He just isn’t an ace. This Season he went 12-12 with a 4.26 era. Cole allowed a career-high 31 home runs in 2017.

 
However, he was 59-42 with a 3.50 era while making 127 starts in five seasons in Pittsburgh. Houston gets an established veteran starter at the cost of a few talented, yet unproven youngsters.

 
This is a good deal for both teams at least on paper and should be interesting to watch.

 

Andrew McCutchen was the second big name sent packing as he was traded to San Francisco. The package the Giants are sending includes bonus money, outfield prospect Bryan Reynolds and pitcher Kyle Crick.

 

Reynolds was the Giants number four prospect at the time of the deal. He played at three levels of a ball this year with a .312 with 16 homers and 43 rbi stat line. He plays a bit of every outfield position. He also participated in the futures game this year.

 
I think this is a decent pick up. He is still a couple years away, but should make for an interesting prospect to watch.

 

Crick is another pitcher that saw time at triple a and in the majors this season. He was used in the bullpen where he put up a 2.76 era prior to his promotion. In the majors he had a 3.06 era with 28 strikeouts in 32 and one-third innings.

 
He is a former top prospect, but sits as number 16 in the current rankings. He could be another quality arm ready sooner rather than later for Pittsburgh.

 

McCutchen departs after hitting .279 with 28 homers and 11 steels last season. He was an anchor in the Pirates lineup and an MVP contender. He was the face of the franchise and a big part in getting the Pirates back to the playoffs.

 
He will be missed. However, I think if you want to respect McCutchen you let him play where he is wanted. He just isn’t at the level he once was and his fan support seemed to dwindle. This move lets him play for a contending team and Pittsburgh gets a couple players for the future.
Disappointing move yes, needed a second yes.
Overall, I think the moves look ok on paper and give me hope for the future, they just have to pan out.

 
Thank you, Cole, and McCutchen though for some great memories and good luck with your new teams.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2017 ALDS Preview

S. Samek

Moving past the wild card game to set up each division series. Here would be my pick for team s advancing to the Championship series. Starting with the American League.
Our first match up is the Indians and Yankees. The Yankees are fresh off an 8-4 win in Tuesdays wild card game. While Luis Severino did not look good in that game it shouldn’t matter as the Yankees bullpen looked good. Severino should be able to rebound and pitch closer to the dominance he saw during the regular season if he is needed in this series.

Aaron Judge, homered in the wild card game and had 52, tops in the American League during the regular season.  Gary Sanchez hit 33 homers as well. The power is there for New York.

Cleveland wins plan and simple. The won last year’s American League championship and lost in the World series final game. They won 102 games this season, most in the American League and second most in all of MLB.

They own the record for wins in a row all time as they strung together 22 wins during the season. They have a 42-8 record in the past 50 games.
They pitch well. Indians bull pen has the best era, while their starters have the second best. Cory Kluber leds this staff with a 1.62 era in his last 23 starts.

The Indians can hit too. Edwin Encarnacion had the big stick with 38 homers this year. Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez also combine for 62 long balls this season. If the Yankees have power, so do the Indians.

Cleveland has a 58.3 percent chance to win according to ESPN and I agree. Indians win.

Next matchup is Houston and Boston.

Houston won 101 games, third best overall record. The have four great pitchers in the rotation, led by Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander. They have strong hitters like Jose Altuve, Josh Reddick and George Springer. They are a complete team built to compete.

The Red Sox won the East division and 93 games. The have a rotation with Chris Sale, David Price and Rick Porcello. Offensively they have Mookie Betts and his 24 home runs. Betts does well against ground ball pitchers, like Keuchel and should be able to give Boston a nice boost on offense.

think Houston’s depth in the rotation should be able to send them on, when combined with a strong hitting core. Astros take this series.

 

 

 

 

Fayetteville Baseball 2019 Name

Fan vote determines new identity.

By S. Samek

It was discussed in a prior post how bad and boring the new Houston Astros affiliate in the Carolina league’s new name would be. http://bit.ly/2mBxu8e

 Fortunately, this is just a two-year stop gap name until the team moves to a new stadium in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Name possibilities have been announced and well let’s check them out here.

 

First up is The Fatbacks. The name is explained as coming from a pork dish, popular down south. Absolutely not does this need to be a nickname. Food nicknames are starting to get ridiculous. http://bit.ly/2uJuui0.

Also, really a pig them, it doesn’t show much creativity. I mean you have the Lehigh Valley Ironpigs the Texas Air Hogs any Razorbacks you can think of, the former Winston-Salem Warthogs. I don’t think swine is the way to go.

Batting second is the Flytraps. Apparently, the plant is native to the wetlands of Carolina. It also matches up with catching fly balls. To me it screams backyard baseball copycat. It’s a fun name for a kid’s game, but not for the major leagues.

Third we have the Jumpers. The name comes from parachute regiments at Fort Bragg nearby, specifically the 82nd airborne division. Good effort though I think misplaced. Jumper isn’t really a flattering term. Why not try like the artillery, Battery, or old school Generals, maybe Cannons, or raiders. The possibilities are there if you look and think a bit creatively.

Fourth up is the Wood Dogs. This is a meh name. Sounds too much like the Down East Wood Ducks. It’s just rather boring. Also, too close to the Fayetteville Swamp Dogs of the Coastal Planes League.

Finally, we have the Woodpeckers.  Named after an endangered species in the area. It just doesn’t seem like an exciting name. It just falls into the generic bird category.

Not impressed with this crop of names. They just feel generic and boring. Not much better than Astros. I think they have something with a military angle, but it needs to not be jumpers. Interesting to see the final name and logo.

 

 

 

 

 

Wpial Impact

Two local players drafted early.

By S. Samek

The Wpial had a fantastic first day. Within the top two rounds too big-name players were off the board.

The highlight came in number four overall pick of the Tampa Bay Rays Brandan McKay out of the University of Louisville. While McKay was drafted as a first baseman he also has skills on the mound. His abilities playing two ways have won him three John Olerud two-way player of the year awards amongst his many awards.

In Fact, McKay may be starting a revolution of two way players to come. While players often switch positions after falling at one, few if any play two way.  Sure, you have the occasional pitcher that can hit a little bit, but that isn’t him fielding a position. Japan does have Shohei Otani a pitcher/hitter that is going to draw attention when he hits free agency next winter. Though it would be fair to say that the last player to hit and pitch at a high caliber in the American Major Leagues was Babe Ruth.

Sure, some two-way college players have had success playing one position in the majors. Dave Winfield hit 465 home runs and had over 3,100 hits playing for San Diego as a fielder. John Olerud and Toad Helton made a combined seven Major League all-star teams and won batting titles.

While others have failed to impress. John Van Benschoten pitched for Kent State and won an NCAA home run title. A first-round pick in the 2001 draft for the Pittsburgh Pirates, he didn’t last long after going 2-13 with a 9.20 era in 26 MLB appreances. Becoming one of the biggest busts in Pirates history.

Tampa Bay plans to let him continue to play both positions, giving them a value pick in his versatility. .

Though local fans remember him as a dominant pitcher for the Blackhawk Cougars. McKay threw 72.1 consecutive innings scoreless, between his junior and senior seasons. He earned the ranking of 10th best player in the state and won two Gatorade PA state player of the year awards. Three seasons at Blackhawk he had a sub 1.00 era while hitting at least .400.  Can’t wait to watch and root for the local kid.

 

J.J Matijevic is another local star I’d love to see succeed. Matijevic is a Norwin High school product. He won numerous awards during his time with the Knights including a Baseball American All-American.

 

Matijevic is an infielder for the Arizona Wildcats. Famously known for his dominating play during last year’s College World Series. Matijevic had at least a hit in 11 of Arizona’s 15 postseason games. His biggest one was an rbi double that played the game’s only run in a super reginal win over Mississippi State. He then moved his talents to the Cape Cod league. The dominance continued with Matijevic collecting 11 doubles, five homers,25 rbi, while scoring 19 runs and taking 15 walks.

His strong performance earned him the 75th pick in this year’s draft by the Houston Astros.  Matijevic was the top hitter in the Pac-12 this season and on the all-Pac-12 team.

 

Making this a much higher selection than in 2014, when Matijevic went in the 22nd round to the Boston Red Sox.

My feeling is this is a guy that can get on base and get things started. Though if given the opportunity he can drive in numerous runs. He could rise fast, but bummer he’s blocked at second by Jose Altuve. Good pick though for an rising Houston team.