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Friday, December 9, 2022

Pirates Discussion: Final Stretch

The Pittsburgh Pirates head into the final week of their season with a home and home series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Cardinals already have the NL Central locked up and can’t catch the other division leaders for better seeding in the playoff.

On the opposite end of the spectrum the Pirates are competing for the best draft lottery odds. As of now they’re in the Top 3 who each have similar odds.

Pirates @ Cardinals

Time: 8:15 PM EST

Pirates Starter: Johan Oviedo (4-2, 3.13)

Cardinals Starter: Jack Flaherty (1-1, 4.97)

Oviedo Notes: Johan Oviedo will be making his seventh start of the season, sixth for the Pirates, against his former organization. In his previous start Oviedo went seven shutout innings against the Cincinnati Reds with seven strikeouts.

LINEUPS:

Pirates

Cardinals

1. Brendan Donovan (L) 2B
2. Lars Nootbaar (L) RF
3. Paul Goldschmidt (R) 1B
4. Nolan Arenado (R) 3B
5. Albert Pujols (R) DH
6. Juan Yepez (R) LF
7. Dylan Carlson (S) CF
8. Yadier Molina (R) C
9. Tommy Edman (S) SS

+ posts

Raised in Cranberry Twp, PA, Jeff attended Kent State University and worked in Cleveland and Pittsburgh, before moving to New Orleans in September of 2012. His background is as an Engineering Designer, but he has always had a near unhealthy passion for Pittsburgh sports. Hockey and Baseball are his 1A and 1B, combined with his mathematical background, it's led to Jeff's desire in diving into analytics. Jeff is known as Bucs'N'Pucks in the comments, and began writing for Pirates Prospects in 2022 after contributing so many useful bits of information in the comment section.

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jon6er

Would have really been fun watching Endy catching tonight. I mean he’s earned it for the body of work he’s done in the organization since he was acquired and how could have he possibly done worse than the three guys already there. It really shows how out of touch this team is with reality. At this point it’s no different then spring training and these kids understand whether they do great or not so great it doesn’t guarantee them anything next year but it’s better than a ‘certificate’ for their work in the minors.

AdministrativeSky236

Nice battling for oviedo today, not sure if he and ortiz will end up in the rotation or the pen long term, but i can confidently say that those are two additional very intriguing arms for next year that i wasnt considering in july

TNBucs

It was interesting what Block was saying last night about Oviedo having the 6th highest perceived velocity due to his long arms. I didn’t think he was great last night but still very good and he should get bonus points for pitching well in his first outing in St. Louis since the trade.

I wonder if he’s done for the season–Ortiz, Contreras, Keller, Wilson, and Brubaker to finish it off? In any case, he definitely should be in the rotation competition and it would be easy to pencil in Keller, Contreras, Brubaker, Oviedo, and Ortiz/Wilson/Thompson with Priester and Burrows set to arrive in June. But if we don’t sign or trade for a quality veteran SP, then it would be repeating a mistake Huntington made in 2016–counting on too many young arms to be healthy and ready and then having the season derailed when they weren’t.

AdministrativeSky236

Or best case the rotation is solid and he is a second half pen arm/sixth starter on a team that isnt just playing to not lose 100

bucsws2014

I don’t recall a clean-shaven Reynolds ever hitting well.

AdministrativeSky236

Mustache reynolds has that dad power

Wilbur Miller

Not that it’s the biggest thing ever, but is Stephenson still on the team?

steve_zielinski

Bae appears ready to compete for the 2023 26-man roster spot.

Last edited 2 months ago by steve_zielinski
TNBucs

Should I assume the Pirates are tracking arm stress with something much more advanced than pitch counts or that Shelton has no idea how to manage pitch counts?

jon6er

Thank you, I’m not 🤪

jon6er

Thank you, I’m not 🤪

jon6er

It seems like Suwinski has held a lot of guys to singles this year on hits that looked like sure doubles.

AdministrativeSky236

I remember an interview with corey dickerson when he was here that talked about how he would hustle and get throws in asap because runners just can tell that he threw it, not necessarily if it was the perfect throw. I see that in jack playing the outfield as well

docdon385

So, while Godoy was batting (if you can even call it that) John Wehner said he’s looking forward to seeing Endy Rodriguez in Pittsburgh. Yea, duh, like how about….now!

forkball

I think everyone would rather see Endy. FreeEndy!

john_fluharty

Almost Endyone but Godoy

Wilbur Miller

Fine day for Godoy. Cheringtoon’s waiver idiocy never stops paying dividends.

bucsws2014

This will be first year since I moved here in 2002 (not counting 2020) that I haven’t been to a single game at PNC. If Waino was pitching to Yadi next week, I might’ve gone to that. I’m hoping there’s reason to attend multiple games next year where the Pirates, and not the opponent, are the draw.

jon6er

During the entire homestand the broadcasters just wouldn’t let us forget how good Jack was at home and how bad he was on the road so it’s only natural that Shelton would bat him clean up, lol.

PirateRican21

And Gamel at 1b again, while Bae is in the outfield and Andujar DH. How about Gamel in LF, Andujar at 1sr and Bae DH.

john_fluharty

If they wanted to try him at first why not do it earlier in the freaking year.

chappy

I don’t even understand why we would play him there at all. He is a league average hitter who has very little power. Why are we looking to get his bat in the lineup? This isn’t Garret Jones or Craig Wilson we’re talking about!

TNBucs

Makes me slightly more optimistic than I already was about Andujar.

Wilbur Miller

I’m not sure what to think about Andujar. His problem with the Yankees wasn’t that he sucked, it was major injuries. The Yankees won’t wait around for a young player to get healthy or get over acclimation issues. They’ll go out and get a Josh Donaldson or whatever. So Andujar never really got a shot with them again, but he hit well in AAA. (His defense at third is, in fact, horrific, so there’s that.) This isn’t VanMeter or Marisnick. It’s a young guy who had a very good year, got derailed by injuries and is healthy now, and never really got a second chance with his old team.

AdministrativeSky236

Hes definitely the most interesting waiver wire pickup we have had this year imo

Wilbur Miller

Pirates outrighted Chavis and Allen. Says a lot that Chavis cleared waivers.

docdon385

Anything you didn’t already know?

Now how about we try it with Collins, Delay, Godoy, Gamel and pretty much every short reliever except Bednar and see if anyone wants any of them? This team is packed with players no one else would touch with a ten foot pole.

TNBucs

I’m sure a big game personally for Oviedo, wanting to show that the Cards made a mistake (though if he’s aware of how Quintana has been doing, he can’t fault the Cards’ thinking).

Oviedo is also the primary reason that I’ve moved on from my thinking back in July that we should keep Q and work out an extension. In general, though, only viewing guys like Anderson and Q as trade chips undermines the “build”. Hopefully this season we sign a veteran starter or two that whether it’s on an initial one-year deal or not, we view him as someone who is part of the team beyond July 31, 2023.

john_fluharty

Signing them to trade them is fine until we are trying to win. Then we need to be on the other side – acuiring them.

AdministrativeSky236

Was listening to a podcast that was talking about the new hot trend in the mlb being an emphasis on youth and thus how there might be an inefficiency where veterans will be under prioritized. Guys in their 30s are increasingly unlikely to have career revivals, but they can probably be had for reasonable below market deals compared to if they were the same player but under 30. Just thought it was interesting and hopefully something the FO will watch the market for in the offseason

Anthony

Not sure if that’s a “new hot” trend, but I agree that there will be more vet players that fall through the FA cracks. 1-2 +option year deals present a def opportunity for a team like our Pirates.

AttyMike

Final stretch or final retch?

Wilbur Miller

It’s been a whole day without baseball.

bscat

“Spanky fell in the well. . . . Oh, well.”

AdministrativeSky236

I was lost yesterday without anything to follow!

john_fluharty

We can barely stomache the games but cannot live without them. What the heck is WRONG with us. 😂

Wilbur Miller

They ought to start a winter prospect league. Not just the AFL, but a full blown league. Focus on guys who’ve missed a lot of time.

john_fluharty

Wilbur for commissioner!

skliesen

I’d rather Cruz strikeout some and hit bombs, than make weak contact and get on base. Obviously prefer he be a triple crown threat like Judge in a year or two.

Hope Pirates make an earnest effort to lock him up like Rays, Braves, and Mariners did for their Unicorns.

TNBucs

Hopefully we saw some growth last night–he looked bad the first three ABs (actually I only saw 2 of the 3) but maybe figured out that they weren’t going to give him much to hit and was willing to take walks the next two ABs.

I don’t blame the Cards for pitching around Cruz late in a one-run game; I was surprised that they also seemed to do the same with Castro but went right after Reynolds.

Anthony

This isn’t an either-or proposition. Cruz’s development lies in his approach at the plate. He NEEDS to learn how to get on base: walks, hits, XBHs, whatever. This will ultimately determine his longevity in the league. Hitting a home run every 20 PAs just ain’t gonna cut it.

Not gonna lie, this comment is cringeworthy and reminds me of something Rumbunter or Kody Duncan would post on Twitter.

john_fluharty

He’s just hoping he doesn’t end up being all singles all week contact. Remember when Mark Johnson came up and he was hitting for a poor average in the occasional power, then later after they change the swing his batting average went up slightly but he had zero power. Not going to happen with Cruz but I can see his concern.

Anthony

Yeah, that’s not gonna happen with Cruz!

ArkyWags

It’s not an either/or type thing. He can make more contact and put it in play to cut down the K’s and still be a huge homer threat.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I think if you get too much higher than 30% K rate, they get too counterproductive. You can survive with 30, but I’d like him to get under there. And I think he will in the future seasons.

Anthony

You’re not wrong; he will have a very short career giving up approximately one-third of his PAs as outs, especially with a walk rate below 10%.

ArkyWags

I took a quick look at the FG leaderboard. Guess how many of the top 30 position players have a K rate over 30%? One: Eugenio Suarez, who is 27th in position player WAR at 4.5. Only three other players are higher than 25% in that range: Swanson, Julio R, and Adames.

Judge clocks in at 24.9. He obviously did more than survive for his first three seasons with a K rate over 30. But his last two years his K percentage has decreased substantially.

Last edited 2 months ago by ArkyWags
Anthony

I like using wOBA for offense. Suarez clocks in at 30th and is the only position player with a k-rate above 30%. This is somewhat offset by a 12% b-rate; that’s almost 2x Cruz.

Swanson and Adames don’t even rank here bc their WAR is positively impacted by defense.

Julio R. ranks 19th and is the only other position player with a k-rate above 25%. Judge is just under 25% but also carries a 15% b-rate.

Currently, Cruz doesn’t get on base enough to sustain a +35% k-rate.

john_fluharty

Interesting… I guess that means we need to give Cruz a couple years to become the next Judge. 😁

AdministrativeSky236

I agree with you, K rate under 30 is acceptable for someone like cruz who has precocious power. I would like if he tried to hit it 700 feet until two strikes and then adopt a 2 strike approach. I know the league has gotten away from that recently, but between his speed and physicality, cruz could still be an extra base threat while taking defensive swings while also decreasing his K rate

joesolo6181

From what I have seen Cruz takes too many strikes putting him in tough hitting spots. So he might have to forgo his power if he changes his approach when he has two strikes on him.

skliesen

It’s been an either or the last couple weeks. I’m hoping it’s just a small sample size anomaly, but Pirates benefit much more when he has a higher slugging % than OBP.

Anthony

I completely disagree with this assessment. Unless this is isolated to Cruz’s “last couple weeks”, OBP is almost 2x more valuable than SLG from an analytics perspective. SLG is about as useful as AVG.

TNBucs

Is this true? It’s been years but when I looked at correlations between team runs scored vs. OBP’s and SLG’s (to verify statements made in Moneyball but several years after Moneyball came out), their correlations were very similar and both much higher than AVG. How are you coming up with the 2x ratio? Just curious.

Anthony

It’s a general estimate referenced by Fangraphs; I think it’s actually 1.8x.

AdministrativeSky236

Also cruz will never be a high obp low slug guy, his size and swing wont be sapped off power even if he does take more of a contact approach

john_fluharty

Agreed. His soft contact can still take the ball over the fence.

Anthony

Exactly, I don’t get concept that he has to sacrifice one for the other.

With how hard he hits the ball, dropping his k-rate and increasing his walk rate would make him prob one of the best hitters in the league, all other things being equal.

Last edited 2 months ago by Anthony
ArkyWags

Right. Honestly I see a lot of Judge in him. In that being that big will inevitably lead to lots of K’s, but whenever he makes contact it will be hard and lead to hits. In other words, not too many contact outs.

Anthony

Judge has always walked tho; career clip of 15%. This makes a world of difference. If Cruz could mimic his k- and b-rates, he would be a top ten hitter in the league by default. Sadly, he’s just not even close.

I don’t care for the word “hope”, but I’m hoping his experiences this year combined with a productive off-season and fresh perspective translate into a marked improvement for 2023.

ArkyWags

I think there’s something to be said for a guy that large harnessing all his skills. We may see a big jump in 2023 from him.

Anthony

Just for fun, I calculated Cruz’s wOBA using a 15% B-rate and a 25% K-rate, all other thing being equal. His wOBA jumps from 0.318 to 0.376. Assuming qualifying PAs, this would place him in between Betts at 10 and Ohtani at 11 for all position players in the game.

ArkyWags

Do the Pirates benefit that much more? I mean, they still suck! Walks are good too. It may be sample size, it may be pitchers are more careful with him, it may be some luck (not all those hits are bleeders). In any case, he ain’t gonna turn into Kevin Newman.

b mcferren

its all about keeping the pitchers on their toes so they make mistake pitches in the future that he can blast in the river

i’d like to see him perfect the drag bunt

skliesen

Power hitters should never, ever, bunt! It’s a losing proposition no matter if they perfect the art or not.

Anthony

It’s about keeping the entire infield defense on their toes, especially if they’re shifting him or playing him deep in the infield (i.e., in the outfield). With his speed that’s a free base, and you take free bases. That’s a winning proposition.

Now sac bunts are another story bc you are giving up an out. If you are playing by the probabilities, they’re def situational and therefore a potentially different proposition.

Last edited 2 months ago by Anthony
b mcferren

when you can hit that fast off the bat, why is it a bad idea to do something from time to time to draw in the third baseman?

charleskulik

Can someone help me? I am a subscriber and cannot access premium content since my subscription renewed. I have emailed Tim twice and have not received any response.
Thanks

john_fluharty

He’s not ignoring you, just busy. Keep pestering him.

joesolo6181

I has a similar issue but eventually they got around to correcting it. Keep posting as the staff reads the things we post. I can no longer recall Tim’s email address but if I find it I will send it to you.

tedwins

Use the ‘Subscription Help’ on the site here, ‘Account’ Tab, see if that does the trick

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