Pirates Discussion: Build Up For The Season

Spring Training games kick off on Saturday, and one of the biggest things to remember is that it’s just Spring Training. Hitters and pitchers alike are using this time to get prepared and ramp up.

People will be quick to develop narratives based around very small sample sizes. Some players will look further along than others, but the importance will be on getting in reps and remaining healthy.

Termarr Johnson has already given scare to fans, but Alex Stumpf spoke to Termarr Thursday morning and he said it’s “doing a lot better”. There isn’t much to worry about, since he obviously wasn’t making the big club out of camp. The concern should remain solely on him gearing up for full-season baseball in the minors. Hamstring injuries scare me, and are just about up there with elbows and obliques for me. But, it’s very early, and I’d imagine they were exercising extreme caution more than anything.

Last spring saw some big standouts in Diego Castillo (1.281 OPS) and Bligh Madris (1.376 OPS), and now neither player remains with the club. Everyone rememebers Kevin Newman’s 2021 spring training, when he smacked around the baseball for a .606 batting average, to then put up a 53 wRC+ season.

Zach Thompson tossed 13 innings with a 2.77 ERA, 12 strikeouts to only four walks. He is no longer with the club. Jose Quintana has an 11.00 ERA in nine innings, before being one of the (if not THE) best starters on the club, prior to being traded at the deadline (although not due to poor performance like the others).

I remember visiting Bradenton in 2016, and watching Juan Nicasio dominate in Sarasota. He was brought in with a chance to grab a rotation spot, much like Vince Velasquez this year. Nicasio threw 15 shutout innings, while striking out 24 and only walking five. Nicasio would go on to only make 12 starts that season, before being relegated to the bullpen. In 2021, Tyler Anderson had a 5.00 ERA through 18 spring innings, but that came with 18 strikeouts to 2 walks. He went on to have a solid season, before being dealt at the deadline.

I could probably go on for days with examples from either end of the spectrum.

What developments are you particularly looking forward to seeing this spring? Are there any specific examples of past Spring Training results that beget either optimistic or pessimistic views you remember, only for polar opposite regular season results?

Song of the Day

Sorry. With me, you get metal or hardcore music. Today’s pick is a hardcore band out of Idaho who thrown in elements of Jazz, and the occasional banjo (though not in this song).

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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Brownie and Walker calling the game today. Snow falling, fireplace on, doesn’t get much better with first Pirates game of the season! (unless I were sitting at Lecom).


I am unusually excited about ST this year because I’d like to believe more than 1 job is on the line. There should be a competition for 2 OF jobs, backup catcher job, 5th S.P. job, and probably 2 or 3 bullpen jobs. And that’s the way it should be given that BC spent some $30M this winter trying to turn the corner from three non-competitive seasons. This ST performance should actually matter for these jobs mentioned above.
It’s almost time to Play Ball!

Wilbur Miller

Looks like AT&T Sportsnet is done with the Pirates.


b mcferren

not to worry, his cousin donnie says he´ll have it streaming from the third base side of his iphone on twitch

b mcferren

will still be able to hear the A team, Walk and Brown?


This could be a problem. They are going to file Chapter 7, meaning they’re out of business, could the TV broadcasts go dark just as the season is starting? We might only have radio for a period of time. Not much time for another TV deal to be arranged. This will be a good test for Manfred whether he can salvage the 4 markets without missing a game.

Wilbur Miller

One account said that Warner Bros. has told the teams they can have their broadcast rights back in return for agreeing not to sue. Another account said WB would let teams use the equipment, so I guess theoretically they could get something on the air. It’s obviously a hardball tactic. The teams would have a very good case for damages, but if they didn’t relinquish it, no broadcasts until things got sorted out in litigation.


This is coming for every team. It’s a shame it bit the Bucs so early, but it was a question of when, not if. The ones that might hold out the longest are the fully club owned networks, but they are subject to the same market forces. Optimistic view: MLB takes over all rights, makes all games available via streaming and everyone gets the same slice. Pessimistic view: each club makes their own streaming deal.

Wilbur Miller

Yeah, it’s forcing MLB to confront the fundamental flaw in their financial structure, which is letting teams do their own local deals, making broader deals ultimately impractical. It’s just that it’d be totally unlike MLB actually to address that flaw.


This would be a difficult matter to resolve if Players & Management had a good relationship. The fact MLB has an incredibly contentious Player/Management situation mean’s this almost certainly will cause a work stoppage before the next CBA is done.

Between now and then, I’m expecting small market teams to be reticent to sign player extensions unless it’s viewed as team friendly. Bad news for those of us who want to see Cruz extended.

Scam likely

Wow, this is kind of big news, Reynolds is not getting an extension
until this revenue stream is replaced.

Wilbur Miller

It’s at least got Manfred talking about revenue disparities.

Optimistic take: The demise of RSNs blows up the financial structure MLB has manufactured, where deadbeat owners like Nutting don’t have to care whether any fans can stand their product because the broadcast money, central revenues and revenue-sharing welfare payments guarantee them a profit. Out of necessity, MLB tries to address competitive balance issues.

Pessimistic take: MLB does what it always does. It pretends to be promoting parity but instead pushes measures that are simply designed to reduce expenses, which impacts lower revenue teams more because higher revenue teams are less vulnerable to expenses. Imbalance increases instead of decreasing.


Ironically and lucky for me I dropped my cable tv except for the internet of course. I was paying for three channels, PBS, BBC AMERICA and AT&T SportsNet’s. I already consigned myself to radio only but I already subscribe to milb so I won’t be baseball deprived.


I’m hoping Bae beats out Owings. I don’t think a back-up SS is that important. Cruz should be playing everyday and if he needs a rest Bae is more than capable there for acouple games. Same with Castro.

I would want the bench to be Catcher- Delay would be my pick but probably will be Plawecki. J.Bae, C.Joe and Cal Mitchell.

And I know you champion Cal Mitchell but I would look to trade him. I think Swaggerty, C.Smith-Njigba, Vilade, Gorski have much more potential and might be better players right now. Even Matt Frazier.

Or maybe even Andujar as the 4th bench spot. I think they could get a good bullpen piece or nice young prospect for Mitchell.

He’s just not good enough defensively, has a bad arm and not enough power for me as a corner OF. I wish he was able to play CF. It would be much different then.

I wouldn’t mind giving him a nice opportunity first though. Like the first couple months and 100-150 AB.

Last edited 1 month ago by pittsburghbob69
b mcferren

we need to start talking about Bae beating out Suwinski and Cutch starting in right field


You need power from your corner OF spots. It’s why I believe Mitchell doesn’t work there. Along with being bad defensively.

If you’re not getting power from your traditional spots then you need to get it elsewhere. And the Pirates don’t have that with KeHayes at 3B and 1B/DH not yet figured out long term.

Bae at CF/2B is perfect. Along with giving Cruz a rest at SS every now and again.

Suwinski/Reynolds in the corners works too. Suwinski just needs to get on base alittle bit more and K alittle less. His rookie season was a success. And he played really well defensively out there. A lot better than expected. He’s more athletic and faster than expected too.

Cutch is gonna DH mostly. Just like he did in Milwaukee last season. He played in the OF just 50 games and DH 82 games. He’s 36 years old(37 in October).

Last edited 1 month ago by pittsburghbob69

What happened to the downvote button? That’s a bad idea.

Wilbur Miller

The interest in Owings is baffling. The rationalization is always his versatility. By OAA, he’s consistently been a little below avg at 2B and 3B, well below at SS. How is “versatility” an asset when you’re below avg at the positions you play?

He also has a career wRC+ of 69, which is almost exactly where all the projection systems see him for 2023. And he has a career fWAR of -0.6, and that’s in spite of having a couple decent years way back in 2014 and 2016, before his horrific plate discipline totally caught up with him. How does carrying a sub-replacement player benefit a team?

The beat writers are slobbering over the fact that he’s come to camp three times on a MiL deal and made the team. Nobody seems to have noticed that he was so bad that two of those teams released him after a couple months. Not outrighted. Released. Like, Oh boy, we made a big mistake. So we’re not just cherry-picking stats now, we’re cherry-picking transactions.

Last edited 1 month ago by Wilbur Miller

Owings is the replacement for Newman. I can live with that if we get the same level of defense and less soft grounders to third and short.
Albeit I’d rather have Newman for $2.662M………don’t know why Ben didn’t do that.

Wilbur Miller

Newman >>>>>>>>>>>


Not by much. And Owings and Dauri Moreta > Newman.

Wilbur Miller

Newman >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Owings.


I agree trade Mitchell for a young arm.


Washington could definitely use Cal Mitchell and they have Matt Cronin sitting there in AAA with all three(3) of his options left too.

He was a dominate closer in college for Arkansas and moved pretty quickly through the minors. A nice back-end, high leverage LH RP. Possibly a future closer.


Ya, I think they can get a young FCL/Low A arm with upside for Mitchell. Or a decent bullpen piece. Maybe a component MLB LH RP. That would be nice.

Something has to happen with the OF. You can’t keep 8 OF on your 40 man roster. And that’s not even including Bae and Marcano.

Plus Gorski and Frazier are both 25 years old. And you have Andujar too. But looks like he’s gonna mostly DH and play some 1B and LF.

Last edited 1 month ago by pittsburghbob69

I usually look at hits. If your probable major league lineup is not getting hits against spring training pitching, then that is not a good sign. Same with pitching, it is discouraging if your best pitchers are giving up hits to another teams b-squad, or a line up that is filled with AAA players. I have not stats to back this up.


Edinson Volquez was so awful we were wondering if he could even be rostered and then proceeded to pop an ERA around 3 across like 200 innings.

Then again, Andy Lambo couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat and that turned out to be true.

Anyways, I think of ST stats a bit like minor league stats; typically small samples, and quality of competition varies massively. Lots of dudes who light up stat sheets in spring training are getting their playing time after the third inning.


Being a Pirate fan for over fifty years I tend to hope certain guys jump the imaginary line and with me Lambo was one of them.


As I watch various players get signed ( likely for more than minimum wage) while the Pirates sign various cast-offs, it has become obvious
that the present administration has no clue how to improve this team.
Wilbur seems to be the only one at the site who understands that the GM
is totally clueless. I have been a Pirate fan for 60 years, and it gets increasingly difficult to have an enthusiasm going into the season—even is there are small improvements.


Hill, Santana, McCuthen, Hedges, Velasquez, Garcia are not “cast offs”. And you don’t get to be a GM, unless via nepotism, by being clueless. Tiring to see comments that so easily disparage others. Those are good baseball players and the GM is very far from clueless (whether you want to call him good or not).


Yes they are. And I’m not a front office basher. But the facts are there was almost no market for any of these guys. Thats why they signed for very little. If anyone complains about not signing “legit” major leaguers and spending…say…$100M, I can’t say they’re wrong.


Hill, Santana, McCutchen, and Hedges are projected to be about 1 WAR players in 2023. It is fine to not agree with the projections, but not so fine to say that your personal opinion which goes against the projections is enough to pronounce them “cast offs” and the GM “clueless”. The GM paid the going price for their projections, and 1 WAR players generally have “a market”, which means you do have to beat out other teams to get them to sign, negating the “cast off” argument.


Spring training stats are pretty much useless with the Florida winds blowing in and out at a high clip. What I want to see are the pitchers showing good command and control and most importantly……no arm injuries. For this team to win games, it’s going to be on the pitchers to step up and keep the team in games.


Oh man, those ST examples you give are really throwing cold water on my bucco boner


They were perfect examples. Good point regarding Brey too. Just so freaking excited to see some ball & a 400 ft Cruz missle


I totally agree, while Reynolds may truly just show up and grind, the ‘rest’ of us may be looking for reasons for any little thing that goes bad.


Beats a Philly Phallus!


Who is in the best shape of their life?


As I look in the mirror……..not me!


I’m cultivating mass, successfully.


I don’t care about Jack Suwinski’s average in camp, but all I care about is that he does not look like mid-summer Jack. I think he has earned a spot as long as he does not look as overmatched as he did for about 5-6 weeks (my memory, could have been longer or shorter) in both MLB and AAA initially for that very painful stretch.


If he is hitting left handed pitching outside of PNC Park, even if it is Spring Training, I think I’ll get excited about that!


Fangraphs also released their “Picks to Click: Who We Expect to Make the 2024 Top 100” today and we do okay. There is a total of 37 players listed and we have two, De Los Santos and Chandler. Anyone want to suggest a third name to add to this group? Based on what I’ve read and where he ranks on our team list, I guess I’d go with Jones (thinking that players like Bae and Burrows will graduate).

b mcferren

This year is going to be two thousand tony blanco

Jumps to Greensboro before the end of the year because of baseballs raining out of the ballpark


Great topic!

Gotta figure Carlos Jimenez is closest to a Luis Ortiz-type of launch into the top 100, but yeah Jones seems like he’s perpetually the candidate for this answer.


Only because one throws 100 mph gas and the other specializes in a high 70’s change up.

Wilbur Miller

Lonnie White if he could play a few games.


Blanco vs White is interesting to think about. Similar hitters, but White has better defensive projection?

Wilbur Miller

White is supposed to be a legit CF, so I suppose so.





b mcferren

best post all year

an alltime #1

wish I could rec it two thousand more times


hahaha holy crap we’ve found a glitch in the matrix.

on account of my caucasity i didn’t even realize it.

Last edited 1 month ago by NMR


Szymborski published his ZIPS Top 100 at Fangraphs and included top players at each position:


It’s pretty ugly for the Pirates with the only ranked players being Endy (9th) and Quinn (48th). It might be easy to brush this one aside, but Szymborski noted:

Last week, a reader looked at Top 100 lists from 2018 onward and ZiPS did just as well as others, including naming the most players with 5 WAR so far (29).


I think he missed Luis Ortiz, as he has a higher ZIPs projection than Preister, but Ortiz isn’t listed at all


The projection on Priester’s FG page is slightly lower than the projection on Ortiz’s, but the opposite is true in Szymborski’s December article on the Pirates’ ZIPS projections (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/2023-zips-projections-pittsburgh-pirates/). But, I think his rankings are also based on career projections and not just this year’s. So, it may not have been a mistake but which version of ZIPS he’s using or, more likely, that he’s factoring in a longevity projection.


Good catch.

It’s kinda confusing, as the caption to the article says “ZIPS picks its favorite prospects for the 2023 season”.

I like the idea of the article, to compare what ZIPS projects without taking into account Future Value (FV) of the prospects, but it doesn’t seem like that’s how they get their top 100. For example, the lowest rated Pitcher on his top 100 is a guy named Cristian Mena from CWS who ZIPS projects only a .4 WAR, so it doesn’t make sense why he’s in the top 100, whereas Ortiz at least has a 1 WAR projection.

Maybe it’s explained in the comment section, but i haven’t read thru it.


On a positive note, if Endy performs like we’d expect from a top 10 prospect and Quinn like a top 13 pitcher (his ranking among pitchers), then we’re talking about an MVP-candidate and a TOR SP and that would go a long way in putting a contender on the field.


So…….you’re saying that ST stats mean nothing? Hmmmmmm novel concept. 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

Wilbur Miller

That’s why it’s so important to have “competition” in ST. Or something.


May the (probably not the) best man win!!


But (insert name) is in the best shape of his life!

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