The Pirates have a habit of acting like they’re still realistically in the race for the playoffs until they’re officially out of it. That leads to playing veterans way too often in September, and not playing the young players enough. This isn’t a good strategy, as there’s a difference between being “realistically in the race” and “we haven’t officially been eliminated yet”.
Fortunately in the last week they’ve been more open to playing some younger players, even before being officially eliminated from the playoffs last night. Kevin Kramer has started four of the last five games. Jose Osuna continues to get regular playing time. Cole Tucker has gotten time every few days, but he’s splitting with Kevin Newman, who has the shortstop job locked down, so it makes sense to go with Newman more often.
Here are a few players who might have played themselves into roles for 2020, or might have a shot of getting an inside track in Spring Training with their performance over the final two weeks of the season. Note that Mitch Keller isn’t on this list because I think he’s already got a job in 2020.
Jose Osuna – He’s become an everyday player the last month, although his numbers have dropped since getting regular playing time. He shouldn’t be someone the Pirates are looking for as a regular, but he could be a good bench option if his bat performs as well as it did leading into August.
Cole Tucker – Kevin Newman has earned the starting shortstop role, and there’s no reason to turn to Tucker at this point, even if he’s hitting well lately. But Tucker should be used more to see if he can at least be a middle infield bench option, or a possible upgrade over Adam Frazier if the second baseman struggles next year.
Kevin Kramer – Basically the same scenario as Tucker, only for second base. He could also be a good middle infield option off the bench.
Yefry Ramirez – Someone asked yesterday why he’s getting playing time. This is the time to do that, when games don’t matter. But the swing and miss stuff from Ramirez does make him intriguing as a depth option.
Dario Agrazal – I don’t think Agrazal can be a starter in the majors, but I could see him being a reliever. The same goes for James Marvel. Both are starting right now, and I’m not sure what a few relief appearances would tell you, but they should be more options for bullpen depth in 2020.
John Dreker has a draft article going up today, and we’ll have the live discussion and any other news as well.
SONG OF THE DAY
I went to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios last night with some friends in Florida, in what has become an annual tradition for us. The park closes at 5:00, then re-opens at 6:00 with haunted houses, scare zones, and shows. If you like scary stuff, this is an amazing event. The houses are designed by horror movie directors, and look like you’re in a movie at times.
My favorites this year were the Stranger Things house, Universal Monsters, and a house called Depths of Fear. They also had a Ghostbusters house that wasn’t really scary, but was really cool to re-create the original movie. So today’s song is a re-make of the original theme song.
You’ve got one minute to think of all of the MLB team colors for this.
By John Dreker
Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, including one related to a President, who served while he was a player. We start with that player, who had a famous relative, 1888 third baseman Elmer Cleveland. He was the cousin of Grover Cleveland, who was near the end of his first term as U.S. President. Elmer wasn’t much of a Major League baseball player and his stay in Pittsburgh didn’t last long. He hit .222 in 30 games and committed 14 errors. Elmer played in three different Major Leagues during his 80 game career, spending 1884 in the Union Association, 1888 in the National League and 1891 in the American Association.
Other players born on this date include:
Rich Robertson, lefty reliever during the 1993-94 seasons. Drafted by the Pirates in ninth round in 1990, he had a 6.57 ERA in 17 games over his two seasons in Pittsburgh.
Dennis Moeller, 1993 lefty reliever. He was acquired in exchange for Jose Lind. Moeller had a 9.92 ERA in 16.1 innings with the Pirates.
Dave Pagan, pitcher on September 27, 1977. In a trade that doesn’t get enough credit for how bad it was, the Pirates acquired Pagan in exchange for Rick Honeycutt, who was in his first season of a 21-year career. Pagan pitched one game and didn’t do that bad, so it’s surprising he never got another shot. He threw three scoreless innings and struck out the first four batters he faced.
Fritz Ostermueller, lefty pitcher for the Pirates from 1944 until 1948. He played the last five years of his 15-year career with Pittsburgh. Ostermueller reached double digits in wins during three of his season with the Pirates. In his career, he went 114-115, 3.99 in 2066.2 innings.
On this date in 1981, Luis Tiant threw the final complete game in his outstanding career. He led the Pirates to an 8-2 win over the Chicago Cubs and came up with the big hit in the game, belting a bases loaded double in the sixth inning that scored three runs. Tiant would go on to win two more games in 1982 before retiring, finishing with 229 wins. Here’s the boxscore from September 15, 1981.