Morning Report: Make Way For the Young Guys

The Pirates traded David Freese and Adeiny Hechavarria away last night, sending Freese to the Dodgers and Hechavarria to the Yankees. The return wasn’t big for either deal. Freese brought back Jesus Valdez, a first-year DSL player, while Hechavarria brought back a player to be named or cash considerations.

On the salary side, the Pirates saved about $1.2 M between this year and next year, with almost all of that coming from the savings from dealing Freese. That move makes it apparent that they weren’t going to pick up the option next year for Freese, and were trying to get something in return for him now and trying to save some money.

But there’s one immediate impact to these deals, along with the DFA of Sean Rodriguez two days earlier: it clears space for the young players.

It’s impossible to play the veterans when the veterans have been traded away. Moving Hechavarria and Rodriguez creates more starts in the middle infield. Moving Freese can create some additional starts in the infield.

Kevin Newman has been in the majors, and should be in line for additional starts down the stretch. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Kevin Kramer gets the call to the majors this month and gets starts as a result of these moves.

Giving playing time to Newman and Kramer this month could allow the Pirates to make a decision on their middle infield combo for next year. Those two are the best internal options right now for the starting middle infield jobs, assuming they don’t pick up Josh Harrison’s $10.5 M option. They won’t have a lot of time to show what they can do in the majors, but with Freese, Rodriguez, and Hechavarria gone, there are now three fewer veterans to play during the month of September.

The recent trades will also impact the bench for next year, with the Pirates now needing options to replace Freese and Rodriguez for the entire season, and their backup shortstop position being open if they go with Newman as the starter. Those decisions won’t be clear right away, and could be impacted by how things play out down the stretch.

The Pirates aren’t contending this year. They still have a month left to play. And now they are set up well to play the younger guys in September and start building toward the 2019 season.

PLAYOFF PUSH

The Pirates are in fourth place in their division, trailing by 13.5 games with 27 games left on the schedule. They trail the second wild card team by 9.5 games.

Indianapolis is a game out of first place with three games left in their schedule. They do not own the tiebreaker. They are a game back in the wild card race, with another team a 1/2 game back.

Altoona is in first place with a one game lead and three games left in their schedule. They clinched a playoff spot on Sunday.

Bradenton has been eliminated from the playoff race.

West Virginia has three games left in their schedule. They are tied for second place in the overall standings and would make the playoffs if they finish second, because Lakewood won both half titles. The Power have a better winning percentage due to Kannapolis (the team they’re tied with) playing four more games, so with just three games left, the two teams can not finish for a tie anymore. Kannapolis held the tie-breaker due to winning the season series.

Morgantown has been eliminated from the playoff race.

Bristol’s season has ended.

The GCL Pirates season ended.

The DSL Pirates1 season ended.

The DSL Pirates2 season ended.

TODAY’S SCHEDULE

Today’s Starter and Notes: The Pittsburgh Pirates won 3-2 over the Atlanta Braves on Friday night. Chris Archer will get the start, coming off of his outing on August 26th when he gave up six runs over four innings against the Milwaukee Brewers. The Braves will counter with right-hander Kevin Gausman, who has a 3.87 ERA in 156 innings, with 126 strikeouts and a 1.28 WHIP. He threw eight shutout innings against the Pirates on August 21st.

The minor league schedule includes just five teams and three regular season days still remaining. Only two starters are listed for the five teams, but three of the games have playoff implications still (see Playoff Push above). Altoona has Eduardo Vera on the mound tonight. He won the Eastern League Pitcher of the Week award and was named as our Player of the Week after allowing one run over 14.2 innings last week. Ike Schlabach goes for West Virginia in his tenth start of the season. He has a 3.35 ERA as a starter and a 4.31 ERA in 19 relief appearances. The seasons have ended for Bristol, the GCL and DSL Pirates.

MLB: Pittsburgh (66-69) @ Braves (74-60) 7:10 PM
Probable starter: Chris Archer (6.45 ERA, 24:9 SO/BB, 22.1 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (71-66) vs Louisville (60-74) 6:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD (0.00 ERA, 0:0 SO/BB, 0.0 IP)

AA: Altoona (76-59) @ Bowie (66-69) 6:35 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Eduardo Vera (3.86 ERA, 62:22 SO/BB, 91.0 IP)

High-A: Bradenton (55-73) @ Tampa (69-66) 3:00 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD (0.00 ERA, 0:0 SO/BB, 0.0 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (70-60) @ Charleston (62-71) 6:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: Ike Schlabach (3.81 ERA, 65:28 SO/BB, 82.2 IP)

Short-Season A: Morgantown (31-42) vs Mahoning Valley (40-32) 7:05 PM (season preview)
Probable starter: TBD (0.00 ERA, 0:0 SO/BB, 0.0 IP)

Rookie: Bristol (31-37) (season preview

GCL: Pirates (27-25) (season preview)

DSL: Pirates1 (32-40) (season preview)

DSL: Pirates2 (27-45) (season preview)

HIGHLIGHTS

From Morgantown, Brett Kinneman triples for the second day in a row as part of back-to-back three-hit days.

RECENT TRANSACTIONS

8/31: Traded Adeiny Hechavarria to the Yankees for a PTBNL or cash considerations.

8/31: Traded David Freese to the Dodgers for Jesus Valdez.

8/31: Max Kranick activated from West Virginia disabled list. Drew Fischer placed on disabled list.

8/31: Ryan Peurifoy assigned to Bradenton.

8/30: Chris Sharpe activated from West Virginia disabled list. Ryan Peurifoy assigned to Bristol.

8/29: Pirates activate Jordy Mercer from disabled list. Sean Rodriguez designated for assignment.

8/29: Allen Montgomery and Joe Jacques promoted to Morgantown.

8/27: Cam Alldred and Nicholas Economos promoted from Morgantown to West Virginia

8/26: Pirates signed Luis Tejeda (his agreement was announced on July 2nd, officially signed August 26th).

8/26: Brad Case promoted to Morgantown.

8/26: Pirates suspend Luis Escobar and Yeudy Garcia. Blake Weiman and Elvis Escobar promoted to West Virginia.

8/26: Max Kranick placed on disabled list.

8/25: Pirates recall Nick Kingham. Clay Holmes optioned to Indianapolis. AJ Schugel sent outright to Indianapolis.

8/25: Dylan Busby placed on West Virginia disabled list. Ryan Valdes promoted from Morgantown.

8/25: Pirates release Pedro Castillo, Ronaldo Paulino, Ruben Gonzalez, Ivan Rosario, Matthew Mercedes, Rayvi Rodriguez and Eddy Vargas

8/24: Pirates sign Nick Mears.

8/24: Pirates activate Sean Rodriguez from disabled list.

8/24: Montana DuRapau placed on disabled list.

8/23: Michael Feliz optioned to Indianapolis.

8/23: Casey Sadler placed on Indianapolis disabled list. Montana DuRapau activated from DL.

THIS DATE IN PIRATES HISTORY

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including the son of a Pirates great.

Dave Rucker, 1988 pitcher. Lefty reliever signed as a free agent prior to the 1988 season. Spent all of 1989 in the minors for the Pirates. In 31 appearances, he had a 4.76 ERA over 28.1 innings. The Pirates had an 85-75 record during the 1988 season, but they were 6-25 in games that Rucker pitched.

Vic Barnhart played 74 games total for the 1944-46 Pirates. He is the son of Clyde Barnhart, who spent his entire nine-year career with the Pirates (1920-28), hitting .295 in 814 games. Vic passed away last year and was the last player alive from any pre-1947 Pirates teams.

Jim Hopper, 1946 pitcher. Was managed by HOF pitcher Burleigh Grimes when the Pirates signed him out of the minors. Grimes played for the Pirates three different times, and said that Hopper was the best young player the Pirates had. Unfortunately, before he played a game for the team, he was called into active duty for the war. The Pirates signed him thinking he wouldn’t go to war because he had two young kids at home. Hopper missed two full years before returning in 1946. He started the fifth game of the season, then pitched again a month later, in what ended up being his last big league appearance.

Fred Nicholson, 1919-20 Pirates outfielder. The Pirates purchased him from the Tigers on June 30, 1919 for $2,500. He hit .273 in 30 games in 1919, then batted .360 over 99 games during the 1920 season. Prior to the 1921 season, he was involved in a trade that included two future Hall of Famers, Billy Southworth and Rabbit Maranville.

Sam Brenegan, played one inning on April 24,1914. If he played in this era, he would be one of the most hated Pirates. Brenegan made his Major League debut in the sixth inning of a game the Pirates were losing to the Cardinals. Manager Fred Clarke decided to give starting catcher George Gibson a rest, sending Brenegan in to catch. Two batters into the inning, he committed a passed ball and walked after the ball behind him, which immediately irritated Clarke. A couple of pitches later, a wild pitch hit his finger and he walked after the ball again. Instead of going back behind the plate, he walked to the bench and sat down. That was his entire big league career.

On this date in 1890, the Pirates/Alleghenys lost all three games of a tripleheader to Brooklyn. It is one of three tripleheaders in Major League history. Pittsburgh lost 10-9 in the opener, 3-2 in the middle game and 8-4 in the last game. Only 915 paying customers showed up and the games took a total of four hours and 48 minutes to play.

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