Barthmaier, Morris out with arm injuries

Dejan reports that both Jimmy Barthmaier (one month) and Bryan Morris (four to six weeks) will miss extended time with arm injuries. This is a pretty substantial blow for an organization with very few pitching prospects. This is particularly true for Morris, who has impressive upside if he can manage to stay healthy. Unfortunately, he has not shown that he is capable of doing that. He was less than a year removed from Tommy John surgery when the Pirates acquired him late last season, and I have lost count of the injuries he has sustained since joining the organization.

If we are looking for a bright side, Morris’s injury could have been worse. After yesterday’s game, Neal Huntington described the injury as being similar to the issue Matt Capps endured last season. In both cases, the Pirates were able to catch it before something more significant, such as a torn rotator cuff, occurred. I suspect that both Capps and Morris would have had their careers derailed if the former management team was still currently in place.

Posted in Bryan Morris, Jimmy Barthmaier, Matt Capps. Comments Off on Barthmaier, Morris out with arm injuries

Pirates do not need to sign a mediocre free agent pitcher

Many have advocated that the Pirates add a veteran starting pitcher this offseason. One name that has popped up quite a bit is Braden Looper, so I will use him as an example of the typical middle of the road free agent starter.  He seemed like a good player to use, even though he is in the process of signing with the Brewers.  Below is a comparison of Looper to the current Pirate starters, using tRA*. I am also including expected 2009 salary for each player.

Here is a tRA primer.  tRA* is a regressed version of tRA. It has more predictive value than basic tRA.

Name tRA* Estimated Salary
Braden Looper 4.87 $5 million
Paul Maholm 4.33 $3.5 million
Jeff Karstens 4.76 minimum
Zach Duke 4.85 $2.2 million
Ross Ohlendorf 4.91 minimum
Ian Snell 5.58 $3 million
Tom Gorzelanny 5.97 minimum
Daniel McCutchen + 4.76 minimum
Jimmy Barthmaier + 4.34 minimum

+ The numbers for McCutchen and Barthmaier are from Indianapolis. The other pitchers’ stats are while with the Pirates. There is a sample size issue with many of these numbers, but it is a rudimentary way to compare the pitchers to Looper.

As you can see, Looper is probably middle of the pack in performance. He would easily be the oldest, as well as the highest paid. We are not expecting to contend this year, so why do we want a stopgap veteran starter that is unlikely to be any better than the other eight pitchers already on the roster? He would just be in the way, in my opinion. I would much rather learn whether players like Ohlendorf, Karstens, Snell, and Gorzelanny have what it takes to start in the major leagues.

One phrase that is greatly overvalued is “established major leaguer.” I would prefer that the Pirates scour the waiver wire for young, undervalued minor league starters with some upside.  That would provide some additional depth, in case the catastrophe of 2008 occurs again.  Focus on the Phil Dumatraits of the world, not the Braden Loopers.

Posted in 2009 Pittsburgh Pirates, Daniel McCutchen, Ian Snell, Jeff Karstens, Jimmy Barthmaier, Paul Maholm, Ross Ohlendorf, Tom Gorzelanny, Zach Duke. Comments Off on Pirates do not need to sign a mediocre free agent pitcher

Game #161: Barthmaier Done in by 3 Run First

Petco Park | 10:05 | Barthmaier vs. Chris Young |Box
San Diego managed just five hits in the game. Unfortunately, they scored three times in the first frame, two of those on a Kevin Kouzmanoff tater. That was all the runs they would get.
Jimmy Barthmaier survived the first to pitch five innings. He gave up all three runs, four hits and four walks. Chris Young was, once again, tough on the Pirates. He went five and allowed a single run on five hits and no walks.
The Pirates got single runs in the third and the eighth, with RBIs from Adam LaRocheand Jason Michaels. Trevor Hoffman finished for his 30th save.
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Posted in 2008 Pittsburgh Pirates, Adam LaRoche, Away, Game Threads, Jason Michaels, Jimmy Barthmaier, NL West, Nyjer Morgan, September. Comments Off on Game #161: Barthmaier Done in by 3 Run First

Game #155: Bucs Jump Ahead Early, Hang on Late

PNC Park | 7:05 | Barthmaier vs. Brian Moehler | Box
Pirates got just one hit after the second inning. Thankfully, they managed to score six times in the first two frames. Ryan Doumit smacked a pair of doubles and drove home three runs. Nyjer Morgan reached base twice via single and was not thrown out on the bases.
Staked to a 6-0 lead, Jimmy Barthmaier struggled. He allowed two runners on base in each of the first two innings. He allowed two runs in the third and was pinch hit for in the home half of the third. This is something I don’t get. He had thrown 62 pitches. He wasn’t fooling anyone, but he’s a young guy and may have a shot on the staff next year. The Pirates are out of it, the Astros are a very long shot (especially now). So, why not let him stay in? Let’s see what he’s made of.
Instead, Barthmaier was pulled in favor of Jason Davis who tossed two scoreless innings to get the easy win. Only it wasn’t that easy. Houston scored twice in the 8th off of Tyler Yates to make it 6-4. Matt Capps brought the go-ahead run to the plate in the 9th before saving it.
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Rosters Expanding – Who Will Join the Buccos?

It is September first and with that comes a formal acknowledgement that the Pirates are without any hope of salvaging a winning season. The good news is that the club will bring up some players with the rosters being allowed to expand.
The Post-Gazette speculates on who those players might be. On their list are the following in alphabetical order:
Jimmy Barthmaier
T.J. Beam
Brian Bixler
Luis Cruz
Robinson Diaz
Craig Hansen
Ross Ohlendorf
Ronny Paulino
Steve Pearce
Marino Salas
Romulo Sanchez
I would be very surprised if we don’t see either or both of Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen. The only negative to that is the clock starts on their arbitration eligibility. But, I can’t see any other way for this club to draw fans in the gates. The team has 10 home dates left. If there is good news it is that all three teams left to come into PNC are in the race (for now) – St. Louis, LA and Houston. The chances of the Cardinals and Astros are likely to be very slim by the time they arrive. There is no weekend home series against the Cubs that will pull in 100,000 fans.
Promotion wise, there is a Rennie Stennett give away, the on-going t-shirt Tuesday, a couple of cap days, a fireworks day, alumni autographs (Bobby Del Greco, Grant Jackson and Ken Macha – perhaps in town to interview for John Russell’s job?) and a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert. Looks to me like they need to put the future of the franchise in the display case to get the turnstiles moving.

Pittsburgh Pirates Roundtable – 2009 Rotation

The Pittsburgh Pirates Roundtable is a weekly collaboration of Pirates writers from around the internet. Thank you to all of the authors that have contributed to this post. To read more of their work, please click on the link next to each name. If you would like to submit a question to our panel, please e-mail me here.
Which pitchers do you expect to see in the Pirates’ 2009 starting rotation?

Mike from Hyzdu Headquarters
When looking forward to the 2009 pitching there are clearly many, many more options next year than there were this past spring, when it looked set in stone at the end of the previous season. The way things are shaping up in September, it seems as though it will be the audition for the rotation next year. Here is how I think it will shake out. (The starters are listed mainly in order of my certainty to make it, not what spot they’ll take.)
Paul Maholm – Based on what he had done this year, it is a no brainer.
Ian Snell – That contract they gave him in the offseason pretty much guarantees that they will run him out there in the rotation.
Jeff Karstens – His run of solid pitching since his acquisition, I would think allows him a spot in the rotation. He seems to me to be a Jeff Suppan type guy. Plug him into the rotation and he won’t provide you with too many worries.
Ross Ohlendorf – It seems from the day we traded for him they wanted him to BE a starter. Management must think very highly of his prospects as a starter and I will believe he will be given every chance at a spot in the rotation.
Tom Gorzelanny – This will be in my opinion the most highly competitive spot. You will have Gorzelanny, Duke, Dumatrait, Daniel McCutchen, Barthmaier, and some others competing for this spot. I would say that they would seek another lefty for the rotation, so that leaves Duke, Gorzo, and Dumatrait, who is coming off an injury, so I’d say he is out. Between Duke and Gorzo it will be a tough draw, both have positives, negative, and question marks. I’ll go with Gorzo.
We have plenty of options on the table now to work with a multitude of guys. It is a far sight better than when we were ‘depending’ on Matt Morris.
Randy Linville from Pittsburgh Lumber Co.
The 2009 Pirates rotation will be Tom Gorzelanny, Paul Maholm, Ian Snell, Jeff Karstens and a jump ball. Zach Duke’s performance has put him in the position of having to earn his spot in the rotation in 2009. If Snell has a poor 2009, he will be on the hot seat for 2010.
Jesse from Raise the Jolly Roger!
1. Maholm
2. Snell
3. Gorzelanny
4. Karstens
5. Ohlendorf
Andy Smith from Bugs and Cranks
If I had to assign the 2009 rotation today, my guess is it would look like this:
1) Paul Maholm
2) Ian Snell
3) Jeff Karstens
4) Tom Gorzelanny
5) Dan McCutchen
I would say the top three are definitely in the rotation, although you could easily flip Snell and Karstens depending on who pitches better down the stretch and in the spring next year. Obviously, the big absence with these five is Zach Duke, a prediction that would have seemed unconscionable just three years ago. I imagine he’ll compete with McCutchen and Gorzelanny for the fourth and fifth spots, but he’d probably have to blow the staff away to get the nod given his performance the last two seasons. I also suppose it’s possible the front office could bring in a veteran arm to compete, but given the near-ready glut of pitchers acquired at the deadline this year, I think the younger cheaper internal options seem like a better bet.
Matt Bandi from Pittsburgh Lumber Co.
The only lock for next year’s rotation is Paul Maholm. I think Ian Snell and Tom Gorzelanny are also pretty likely to be there, and I expect Jeff Karstens and Ross Ohlendorf to finish out the rotation. Zach Duke’s career is heading down the long reliever/sixth starter route, and I think he will fill that role next year.
Obviously, the most exciting aspect of the 2009 pitching will be the starting depth. I doubt we will see a repeat of this season, when we would often send a guy out to start simply because there was nobody else left. If any of the five starters above struggles or goes down with an injury, there will be plenty of options to turn to. Duke, Phil Dumatrait, Ty Taubenheim and Jason Davis should prove to be warm bodies that could make a start and give the team a chance to win. Depending on their progression, Jimmy Barthmaier and Daniel McCutchen could also be in the rotation mix at some point next season.
Also, keep in mind that Neal Huntington will have the entire offseason to bring in more talent. I am pretty optimistic about the 2009 pitching staff.

Game #101: Offense Power Bucs to Sweep

Minute Maid Park | 2:05 | Snell vs. Brian Moehler | Box
After resting in mid-season hibernation in Colorado, the Pirates offense awoke with much gusto and helped the Pirates sweep the Astros on the road. The Bucs pasted Brian Moehler for six runs in 2-1/3 innings. Jason Bay’s two run homer accounted for the second and third runs in a four run first.
But Ian Snell ran into big trouble as well. He gave up five runs in three innings. Houston tied it up in the fourth off T.J. Beam. Beam gave way to Franquelis Osoria and he tossed two perfect innings. That was enough time for the Pirates to get a pair of runs off of Geoff Geary. The go ahead RBI was delivered by Doug Mientkiewicz, who had four hits on the afternoon. Jason Michaels followed with an RBI ground out to give the Pirates a two run cushion.
They would need it. Tyler Yates gave up a run in the home portion of the seventh. He yielded to John Grabow with two on and two gone. Grabow got Darin Erstad to end the inning. Grabow pitched a scoreless 8th and Damaso Marte tossed a scoreless 9th for the win. Osoria was the winner and Geary got the loss.
Freddy Sanchez had two more hits. His average is .241, the highest it has been in over one month.
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