Friday, November 30, 2012

Pirate Hooks/Russell Martin

I'll take a look at the Pittsburgh Pirates moves of the last two days shortly.

But first a disclaimer-I have suffered through a lot of losing as a Pirates fan and as a fan in general.

I am growing more and more aggravated with some of this and the main target of my frustration is the Pittsburgh Pirates.
To the point of just reaching the border of ambivalence,this frustration is eating away at my fanhood and I don't know why.
I suppose 20 years does that to a person.
Just a heads up....

The Pittsburgh Pirates brought in four new bodies through trades and free agency on Wednesday and Thursday.
The team addressed a need for the lineup,took a chance on an untested power bat and added two arms as well,with the type of chances that a lower level team needs to try on for size.
Pittsburgh should be taking more low risk high reward players that for various reasons have not panned out as prospects for their previous teams and I have knocked the Pirates in the past for not taking enough of these chances,so my kudos for trying a few out.

The marquee signing by the Pirates was the addition of Russell Martin to be the everyday catcher.
The national media is looking at this as the low income Pirates outbidding the mighty Yankees for the Bombers starting catcher.
Little of that is actually the case.
Yes,Pittsburgh's terms of two years and seventeen million must have been more than the Yankees offer.
Well,It's because the Yankees made no offer to Martin,despite severe questions about their catching situation,if Martin did not return.
So the trumpeting of the Pirates "outbidding" the Yankees is a red herring (not goldfish).

Martin might not be a huge improvement over last seasons regular backstop (and free agent signing) Rod Barajas either offensively or defensively.
Now listen,I was no fan of Rod Barajas,but I see some similarities in this signing to last years of Barajas.
Barajas might be quite as strong as Martin in throwing out runners,but it is in the same range and considering the Pirate pitchers issues in holding runners on,I don't think Russell Martin is going to fare substantially better than Rod Barajas in the running game unless the Pirates make an attempt to emphasize doing a better job in holding runners on.
Russell Martin has had his best power numbers of his career in his two years in pinstripes (39) entering 2013 just as Barajas entered 2012 with the best power numbers of his career (52 over three years).
The other common thread?
Both righthanded powerhitting catchers with pull power playing everyday in a bad park for righthanded pull hitters.
Adding all of this up and the bang for the buck,In my opinion,the Pirates would have been better served to spend that money at another position and just went with Michael McKenry,who possesses a decent chance to give the team what Martin might offensively at a far cheaper cost.
Nothing against Russell Martin,but he looks to me to have more valuable to the Yankees than he will prove to be for the Pirates...

I like the deals that the Pirates made with Boston and Kansas City better than the signing of Martin.

The trade with Boston brought former top prospect Zach Stewart for the ever popular player to be named later.
Stewart has moved around in various deals since his draft year in 2008 by the Reds.
Going from the Blue Jays to both pair of Sox,Stewart has never really gotten a full chance in anyone's rotation despite throwing in the low to mid 90's.
The knock on Stewart? No change of pace pitch to go with a decent fastball and strong slider,which might make a reliever out of him in the long term.
Considering the cost.I'm all for a flyer on Stewart.....

The Pirates sent two players from the Dominican league that have yet to play in the United States to the Royals in return for two interesting players in pitcher Vin Mazzaro and first baseman Clint Robinson.
Mazzaro has had mediocre numbers in four years with the Athletics and Royals after rocketing through the Oakland system in two and a half seasons.
Mazzaro's out pitch is a hard sinker and the Pirates like sinkerballers,so Mazzaro's appeal might be due to that.
I am not as high on Mazzaro being a servicable arm as Stewart's,but again considering the cost,I'm not against taking a look.

Clint Robinson is one of those AAA sluggers that never seemed get a full shot at the big time,unless you consider four at bats last season a full shot.
Robinson turns 28 in spring training,but the power numbers that he showed in the minors make me like this opportunity for a lefty swinger that might have the upside of a Garrett Jones.
As I wrote before,chances of players with huge minor power numbers are the high upside signings that teams like the Pirates need to take more of....

That catches up for now,I'll be back tomorrow with some thoughts on Thursday Night Football and why I don't like it...

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