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Saturday, December 3, 2022

Winter Leagues: Playoffs Begin in Venezuela Without Elias Diaz

In Australia on Saturday night, Sam Street made his winter debut. The 24-year-old pitched for Bradenton in 2016, where he posted a 2.26 ERA in 55.2 innings, with a .225 BAA and a 1.88 GO/AO ratio. For the Melbourne Aces, he gave up two runs on two hits, retiring one batter. Both runs scored after he left, as Major League veteran Peter Moylan allowed a two-run single following Street. While most of the other leagues are into their playoffs already, Australia still has four weeks left in their regular season.

Street was the only player from the Pirates to see action over the weekend, as all of the other winter leagues were off. On Monday, Venezuela began their playoffs and Jose Osuna went 2-for-5 with two singles and a run scored in his team’s 6-4 victory. He finished the regular season with a .279/.361/.387 slash line in 60 games. That’s well off the stats he put up last winter when he finished fifth in the league with a .914 OPS. This season he ranked 26th in OPS among the 40 batters with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title.

Elias Diaz remains out since December 9th. He is still listed as being out due to an oblique strain, which he injured on December 6th and then played two more games before being shutdown. His Venezuelan team originally said on December 10th that he would be out at least ten days and they removed him from the active roster. At this point, the Pirates may have something to do with him not playing, since he tried to play through the injury last time. We should be able to get an update on him at the winter mini-camp next week if he still hasn’t returned to action.

In the Dominican,  Eury Perez went 0-for-3 with a strikeout, before leaving for a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning. He threw out a runner at third base to end the first inning. He has gone hitless in two of his playoff games and combined to go 5-for-8 with two walks in the other two games. The Pirates recently designated Willy Garcia for assignment, which could open up an early season spot for Perez if Garcia gets picked up by another team.

Perez is 26 years old and has already seen action in parts of four Major League seasons. The lack of offense has held him back from a bigger role, but he would be a serviceable short-term outfielder due to his speed and defense if the need should arise before Austin Meadows is ready. Ideally, the Pirates would keep Garcia and there would be no need for either player in Pittsburgh during the season, but we have seen recently that depth can quickly turn into an everyday player.

Jason Rogers played left field and went 0-for-2 with two walks. He came up with a big play on defense, throwing out a runner at home to end the seventh inning and keep it a 1-1 score. His team still ended up losing 2-1. Rogers is 2-for-10 in the playoffs, with a double, a home run and five walks. We are still waiting to hear whether or not he clears waivers.

In Mexico, Carlos Munoz went 1-for-4 with a single, walk, run scored and two strikeouts, as his team lost 2-1 in 11 innings. The ending had a former Pirates connection, with Sebastian Valle hitting a walk-off homer off of Roberto Espinosa.

In Colombia, Francisco Acuna went 1-for-5 with a single. In 11 games, the 16-year-old shortstop is hitting .276/.345/.400, with five walks and four strikeouts. In the field, he has committed two errors in 40 total chances.

Sandy Santos went 0-for-4 with a run scored. He is hitting .222/.276/.222 through ten games and has not committed an error in 19 chances in center field.

Henrry Rosario hasn’t been playing much recently so he hasn’t been mentioned in a couple weeks. He’s hitting .232/.371/.295 in 34 games.

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John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.


Pirates Prospects has been independently owned and operated since 2009, entirely due to the support of our readers. The site is now completely free, funded entirely by user support. By supporting the site, you are supporting independent writers, one of the best Pittsburgh Pirates communities online, and our mission for the most complete Pirates coverage available.

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kang hopefully will be suspended ,he also lied about it.
update: palmyra,ny dwi driver website says he’s 43 although
he graduated from college 42 years ago
gotta love those beer googles.majored in hyperbole.


Is Diaz getting the reputation as being injury prone?


Unless the Pirates carry 3 Catchers (none of them named Jaso), Diaz will go to AAA. Stewart is a solid back-up for Cervelli and works well with the young pitchers. That said, I would make it clear to him up front that he will not finish the season with the Pirates as a Catcher. I would prefer voluntary retirement at the AS Break or before to accept a coaching position with the Pirates.

He will turn 35 in Feb and the Pirates cannot pass on the opportunity to get Diaz work at the MLB level for at least half of the season.


Diaz……..smart move signing Cervelli

Bruce Humbert

When you only have $100M to spend you have to think a bit differently. The Bucs have over $10M committed to two catchers next season who both had health issues, neither can throw anyone out and they hit a combined 2 HRs. These signings and the Harrison extension are not awful decisions given the current market – and are easy for teams spending $130M+ to absorb. Teams like the Pirates need to be smarter with their $.


Cervelli has posted a 3.8 WAR in 2015 and a 1.7 WAR in 2016. That’s 5.5 WAR and using $8 mil per, that amounts to $44 mil Value. We have paid him a total of $4.5 mil. He is also considered one of the best pitch framers in baseball and that stat is not even included in WAR. Catchers get physically beat up every day. Last year he broke his hamate bone which is a very common injury that saps the power from a batter after they return to play.

The Pirates are bringing up their young pitching prospects – some in 2016, some in 2017, and possibly even more in 2018. Having an experienced Catcher who frames well, handles pitchers well, and is a team leader is an absolute essential – the Pirates made a GREAT deal signing Cervelli for the 3/$31 mil.

JHAY has made his 4 yr extension look stupid in the first two years, and is now owed $18 mil for 2017 and 2018. Why he is still with the Pirates is beyond my comprehension.

Blaine Huff

Just going with the first paragraph…nonsense.

Absolute, insincere, cherry-picking nonsense.

Yes, the Pirates got a great deal when they paid Cervelli <$1M and he put up 3.8 WAR.

Heck, they got 3.85 WAR/million.

Now, to join that season with the next where the team got .486 WAR/million and say:

…"well, even though the team got 8X less WAR/million, that massive decline justifies tripling the higher salary because I'm just going to lump those two seasons together and consider them one"…is a crock of shit.


Value is what you have gotten for what you have paid. That’s baseball these days, and past performance has to be a consideration for negotiating an extension. In his 2 years with the Pirates they have gotten almost 10x in Value for what they have paid. Those were the last 2 arbitration years for Cervelli.

The extension was finalized in early May 2016 which included consideration of the 3.8 WAR of 2015 and an April split of .321/438/385/822 OPS. Those were the Cervelli numbers that were on the table at the time, in addition to the April placement of Elias Diaz on the 15 day DL for an elbow strain in his throwing arm.

Just cherry picking on the 1st paragraph is the crock. The 1st paragraph is Value vs Salary, plain and simple. It is just one of many considerations when discussing an extension. Take the time to read the 2nd paragraph where I listed why the extension of Cervelli of 3/$31 was an absolute essential for the Pirates at this time in their transition to a younger rotation in 2016, 2017, and 2018.

Blaine Huff

Cervelli put up his great ’15 season while already under contract for less than $1M. What he did then, for that money…has no absolutely no impact on whether this is a good deal.

The ’16 season was also under contract. So that doesn’t impact this deal.

What you have to ask is this: if Cervelli was a FA right now…would he get 3/31? If the answer is HELL YES! then it’s a great deal. If the answer is ‘yes’ then it’s a good deal. If the answer is ‘no’, it’s, most likely, a bad deal.

For the Pirates sake, hopefully he rebounds, but he’ll be a 31 year old catcher with a strong injury history when the new season starts.

I don’t think there’s any team that would give him 3 years…not at $10M+ AAV. Perhaps he gets very lucky and finds someone who gives him 2/15. Which means, in effect, the Pirates are paying $16M for his age 33 season.

To be touting this as a winner is highly premature. The contract hasn’t kicked in yet…the Pirates already got the good performance at low cost…now they’re about to start sending the big checks.


“In his 2 years with the Pirates they have gotten almost 10x in Value for what they have paid. Those were the last 2 arbitration years for Cervelli.”

Again, this is false. Arbitrated value does not equal free agent value.

Bruce Humbert

I didn’t like the Harrison extension when they did it…
But you need to apply the same logic to his situation that you want me to apply to Cervelli.

If he totals a fWAR of 3+ for the next two years that would mean he is worth more than he is going to be paid.

For the first 2 years they paid him $7.8M and he was worth at least $20M…

He plays a very sound second base – led the NL in DRS.

Having a solid defender at second behind your young starters is a good thing.


Free agent value /= arbitration value.

Harrison’s last two season should not have been judged against $8m/WAR free agent value, they should be judged against what he would’ve been expected to get through arbitration. And the arbiters aren’t wild about lite-hitting, glove-first second basemen.

Bruce Humbert

I don’t disagree and as I have said I was/am not a huge fan of this extension – I just don’t think it is a disaster – or any worse than the Cervelli/Stewart deals


Disaster, no. That wasn’t my intent with “gone south”.


Baseball Prospectus includes pitch framing in their WARP. They have him at 5.7 and 2.8 the last 2 years FWIW.

Bruce Humbert

Google “Ian York Pitch Framing”
He writes on this a lot over at sonofsamhorn.com…

Some observations.
1. Pitch framing is made up of
– good catching
– bad umpiring
2. With the exception of Yadier Molina and perhaps Grandal few catchers are consistently elite framers. Posey, McCann and a few others tend to be pretty good in some seasons and ok or average in others.
3. Many who have spent time with the data think framing is less important (strikes are harder to steal) now than it was 2-3 years ago


In my own humble opinion, blocking is more important than framing.

Bruce Humbert

Me too


Cervelli not being able to throw is also a myth. He’s got a good arm and one of the quicker releases in baseball. The Pirates have a pitching staff notorious for being terrible at holding on runners. It makes both catchers look bad.

Bruce Humbert

Funny – I just don’t recall hearing this sort of thing when Barajas was the catcher – and I am too lazy to look up the numbers but I think Martin managed to throw out a runner once in a while.


“Nobody steals on the Catcher” is one of those baseball axioms that holds true today just as it did 50 years ago. It is not guesswork, it is science.

The Pitcher’s release time plus the Catcher’s “pop time” will let the Manager know whether the runner can steal the base. The average MLB Catcher is between 1.90 and 1.95 sec. Pudge Rodriguez in his prime was in the low 1.80’s. The pitcher is the determining factor.

Bruce Humbert

And it is absurd….
Pitchers vary widely in terms of how well they hold runners
Great article on Colon – went from 83% successful early in his career to 50% today. The league average is around 70%

Money quote:
“I was a little slow,” Colon said. “I put in the work and it allowed me to develop consistency.”

The Pirates don’t prioritize holding runners – Huntington has said they believe that allowing pitchers to focus on executing the pitch gets the best results


Agree about Cervelli. Why people complain about his extension is beyond belief.


I’d imagine mostly based on the context of similar deals to Liriano and Harrison going south coupled with the fact that everyone’s biggest fear about Cervelli – his health – proved valid before he even played an inning into this three year extension.

I don’t think Cervelli would’ve received 3/$31m on the open market this winter and I’m not terribly sure why Huntington was so quick to bury Diaz after holding tightly onto him in trade talks the previous winter, but regardless, it was a fine value at the time and I don’t see an easy way to improve from here out.

If deals this risky spook Huntington, I shudder to think how much further that’ll push him back into his shell. Sometimes you just gotta pull the trigger, and he did.

Bruce Humbert

How has the Harrison deal “gone south” – I am not a fan of it – but it does have surplus value – see above.


Because you’re comparing apples and oranges.

The value listed above is based on league-wide *free agent* contracts. Not only is the $8m/WAR number completely fictional and most certainly *not* used by the Pirates to determine the value of a win, the years for which Harrison has been playing would’ve already been controlled by arbitration which inherently undervalues production relative to the free agent market.

From the time the extension was signed, the only benefit the Pirates gained was cost protection if Harrison actually ended up being close to the player he was in his fluky 2014 season. In exchanged, they guaranteed him about $15m through his arbitration years and another $11m in what would be his first year of free agency. That’s not the kind of money they would be willing to pay him following this season had he been a free agent, thus, my contention that the deal has gone south.

Bruce Humbert

So what do you think his arb years would have paid him?

Then what do you think they would have paid if he continued to be a 5 WAR player – or even a 2.5 WAR player..
This was a classic hedge…
Huntington was protecting against the upside – and buying out three years of free agency at a pretty nice discount.

He felt the reward outweighed the risk – I was not so sure – but understood the reasoning.


Almost certainly no more than what he’s getting now. Possibly less.

Arb doesn’t function by WAR, it favors traditional counting stats and playing time. Don’t shoot the messenger, I know this doesn’t make sense, but it is what it is. Guys that get their value through defense and baserunning are habitually under-compensated through arbtration compared to sluggers with dingers and RBI.

Rough arbitration estimates follow a 40/60/80 scale relative to what the player would be worth on the open market. Can we agree that Harrison is roughly as valuable as Sean Rodriguez, who will make about $6m/yr on his recent deal? 40% of that works out to $2.4m, which not coincidentally almost exactly matches the $2.8m he agreed to for 2015 avoiding arbitration. The extension guarantees him $12.5m for the final two years of arbitrated control, whereas the 40/60/80 scale would estimate him at $8.4m.

It’s not a terrible deal, but it’s also completely unnecessary unless one thought JHay was “for real”, and I certainly hope their analysts didn’t buy into that mirage.

Zack Nagel

Let’s see what Matt Wieters ends up getting. I’d say he would be somewhat comparable but have higher value than Cervelli.


Weird market, so I really wouldn’t be surprised one way or another. I mean, Jaso Castro got 3/$25m to frame pitches for the Twins of all teams, but Ramos goes cheap to the Rays coming off an injury.

I just don’t think teams would’ve been willing to go three years with Cervelli. I’d guess something like Castro’s cost over just two years.

michael t

There isn’t much out there yet on 2017 catching prospect ratings. It is very interesting though to look back at the 2016 ratings and see McGuire and Diaz appearing very high on every list. This season will be key for both, and I happen to think that both have dropped in the ratings for reasons unrelated to potential or ability.


Seriously though, Huntington’s biggest mistake wasn’t dumping McGuire for Lirinao’s salary. It was taking a high school catcher that high in the first place.


There’sNoSuchThingAsACatchingProspect? 😉

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