With less than a week remaining in camp, the Pittsburgh Pirates made their latest round of cuts this morning, sending three relievers to minor league camp, including John Holdzkom. Rob Scahill and Blake Wood were also sent down, trimming the number of candidates down for the final two bullpen spots.

“We had a handful of guys that deserve to be on a Major League club,” Huntington said. “We had a limited number of spots. Caminero threw the ball great during Spring Training. Liz, we really like in that multi-inning reliever role. John did some good things, and will do some good things for us, as will Rob, and we believe Blake Wood will as well.”

At this point, it looks like Arquimedes Caminero has locked down a spot on the team. However, Huntington didn’t confirm anyone had made the team today, noting that they’re still working through the decisions.

“With the three moves today, we’re working through it,” Huntington said. “Pimentel is in the mix, and will remain in the mix until we finalize the roster on Sunday, or until something changes before then…Caminero has thrown the ball great. Liz has thrown the ball very well. Stolmy threw it as well as he’s thrown it [in] his last outing. We still have some challenging decisions to make, and still have some moves to make, obviously.”

The final three players battling for a bullpen spot are Caminero, Jared Hughes, and Stolmy Pimentel. If Caminero or Pimentel don’t make the team, they would need to be designated for assignment and put through waivers. Right now it appears that Caminero and Hughes are the favorites for the final two spots.

No Decision on Richard

Today is the deadline for Clayton Richard to make a decision on his opt out clause. Richard has until midnight tonight to opt out of his deal if the Pirates don’t add him to the 40-man roster. The Pirates could add him to the 40-man roster, but they’d still need his permission to send him to Triple-A in that scenario, since he has more than five years of service time.

“It’s not our decision,” Huntington said on whether Richard would be added today. “We’re working through it with Clayton and his agent. Our goal, as we stated from day one, is to get him back to the big leagues. We hope it’s here with us, but it is a process we’re working through.”

Huntington said that they feel the situation will be “amicable.” I have a hard time seeing Richard opting out of the deal. He came to the Pirates so that they could fix his mechanics, much like they did with his former teammate Edinson Volquez last year. The Pirates believe in him enough to make him a starter, and to name him as an early season depth option. If he stays, he knows that he’s high on the depth chart here, with a group of pitching coaches that have had a lot of success getting pitchers back to their best performances. It would be hard to imagine he would leave that situation.

Stronger Pitching Depth This Year

Yesterday the Pirates made a decision on their final rotation spot, selecting Jeff Locke over Vance Worley. Locke will start in the fourth rotation spot at the beginning of the year, while Worley will go to the bullpen as a long reliever.

“It was incredibly challenging, and one of the harder decisions we had,” Huntington said. “If we get caught up in the fact that it’s only April 6th…the reality is that they’re both going to make important starts for us this year. If we get through the season with five starters it will be the first time I have ever been with an organization that got through a season with five starters.”

I would argue that Worley was the better candidate for the rotation. He had better results than Locke last year, and looks like the pitcher that he was when he came up with the Phillies. The consolation is that Worley will give the Pirates some strong early season depth if a starter goes down or struggles.

“To take one of the 95 or so guys that had an ERA under 4.00 last year, and threw 100 or more innings, and put him in our bullpen, that shows there’s depth there,” Huntington said. “And then you look beyond that at our young guys who are on the horizon.”

Huntington talked about the bullpen as well, noting that the three guys sent out today will give them good depth out of Triple-A. That’s something they didn’t have last year.

“So much is made of Opening Day, when the reality is that we need more than five [starting pitchers], we need more than seven [relievers], and we need more than 13 position players to be the club that we believe we are going to be,” Huntington said.

The Final Two For the Bench

The bench battle looks to be shaping up as a battle between Andrew Lambo and Pedro Florimon. Jaff Decker is technically in the mix, but it sounds like he’s going on the disabled list to start the year.

“Jeff’s battling. He wants to do everything he can to put himself in position to make this club,” Huntington said. “Unfortunately, the calf injury may not allow him to do that, and we’d much rather have him start the year a little bit behind, than to get re-injured and miss multiple weeks because of it.”

With Justin Sellers dealing with an injury of his own, that would leave Lambo and Florimon for the final spot. There are a few factors that work in Lambo’s favor. He would be the only left-handed bat off the bench, and would give the Pirates an additional outfielder, although they seem comfortable using Corey Hart and Sean Rodriguez in the role. Florimon has a few things working in his favor, particularly his defense, and the fact that he’d be the only speed option off the bench.

“That’s probably the biggest positive Pedro has, is he would give us the run tool off the bench, as well as tremendous defensive ability,” Huntington said. He also mentioned that they’ve always loved the defense, but the bat has been the biggest challenge for him.

“He’s still in our mix right now,” Huntington said. “As we’ve said kind of from the outset, it really depends on what they do, and there are some things beyond their control. It’s the makeup of the club, the makeup of the bench.”

One other advantage for Florimon is that he is out of options. Similar to the situation with Holdzkom, the Pirates could opt to send Lambo to Triple-A for the sole purpose of preserving as much depth as possible and keeping a guy they like in Florimon.

Other Notes

**Yesterday there was a rumor that the Pirates were talking with Gregory Polanco about an extension. Huntington didn’t comment on the rumor. “When there is something to talk about, we’ll be the first ones to talk about it publicly.”

**Huntington on Chris Stewart: “Chris is very likely to start the year on the disabled list.” This isn’t new information, and will result in Tony Sanchez making the Opening Day roster.

**On whether Corey Hart’s knees can handle the outfield: “[It’s] not something that we want to do on a regular basis, but certainly something he can run out there and take a day here or there. The other part that really works out well for us is Sean Rodriguez is very comfortable in left or right.”

IMPORTANT: You will need to update your password after the switch to the new server in order to log in and comment. Go to the Password Reset Page to change your password.

43 COMMENTS

  1. People tend to emphasize the negative effects of a tendency to strikeout when evaluating prospects potential to reach the Major leagues. From the 2014 ST stats:

    Florimon: 16 SO in 41 PA. SO% = 34%
    Lambo: 10 SO in 59 PA. SO% = 17%

    Lambo projects better even given a substandard BA doesn’t he?

  2. Dumb question, I am following the Pirates / Orioles spring training game. Is the DH rule optional during spring training – AL pitchers don’t hit, NL pitchers do hit?

    The reason I ask is Liriano is hitting for himself and yet the Orioles have in D. Young as a DH.

    • PIT has done that more than a few times this ST, idk if its “optional” but PIT has clearly made getting SP/RP live looks a priority….and thank the big man for that.

    • Pirates have publicly said in order to get better they need to do better with a bunch of little things and they have specifically said one of those little things is pitchers handling the bat

  3. For all the talk about the Cubs not putting their best 25 men on the field due to Bryant starting the year in AAA (and correctly so), the Bucs don’t have any Bryant-like concerns yet it seems like they’re going north with 22 or 23 of the best available players.

    Given playoff spots/byes come down to 1 or 2 games, the idea of holding onto Pimentel seems penny wise, pound foolish. And I’m with the chorus on Worley over Locke. And yes, too bad Decker is hurt because he’s got both bat over Lambo and can equal Florimon’s speed.

  4. I’ve gotta say, I am liking pedro at first. If his mind is right and it appears to be so,he can be the first legit power threat the pirates have had at 1st base since pops. They have had guys with pop in the bat just not legit 40 homer power and he is athletic enough to be an above average defender. Pedro at third is a can of worms, pedro at first is a can of corn.

    • You won’t find a guy less enamored with spring training stats than I am, but the fact that his best spring – by far – comes after the mechanical adjustment and position change has to at least appease the optimist in you.

      Flawed hitter, but I don’t see any reason he can’t be productive as the big half of a pseudo-platoon.

      • That was the point, it’s an easy decision to make just like it’s an easy play to make.

  5. I think it should be Lambo, But the fact that they will likely lose Florimon if he is optioned may indeed be a factor. Lambo plays 1B, which is a plus. He plays RF, which is a plus. He’s got a booming bat, although he’s certainly no Barry Bonds, but he’s a respectable credible major league left handed hitter.

    Florimon is really only a SS, although I’m sure he can play some 2B and did this spring. He doesn’t really hit much. True he is a switchhitter, but the LH bench bat will likely be needed every game, much more than a pinch runner or defensive replacement at SS. We have Kang and Rodriguez to cover SS adequately.

    I won’t be surprised if they try to protect their assets, much like they did by sending Holzkolm down. I won’t say I’ll be happy about it.

    • Is Pedro Florimon really analogous to Arquimedes Caminero ion this situation?

      I don’t know. Pretty much impossible to really know the backup shortstop market. Just doesn’t strike me as one of those out-of-options guys that other clubs are waiting to hit the market.

      • This organization has a well known shortstop paranoia. They want to have at least three guys who are slick fielding in case of injury,

        Florimon is good enough defensively to play the position for a long stretch. The question is, do they really need that, with this roster? Do they see Kang as acceptable long term defensively at SS? I do, but I don’t run the franchise.

  6. If the Pirates like the speed and defense that Florimon brings, they will likely keep him rather than risk sending him through waivers as Lambo can be optioned. I’m probably more okay with that than someone like Ishikawa getting the last spot over Lambo last year. This is the 25th spot basically so how much help Lambo or Florimon can provide in what their roles will be is probably about the same. Lambo can only provide more if he is getting a good amount of playing time but Alvarez and Polanco will get most of the playing time in the first month. It would be nice to have a left handed bat on the bench, but hopefully Hart, Kang and Rodriguez can do enough from the right side.

    • SP: Excellent point about Lambo needing to get himself squared away by getting daily AB’s. Last year he had the ST implosion and then got it together in AAA. Tough news about Jaff Decker, and I wondered why he has not been in the lineup or was in the lineup only on a limited basis.

      There are thousands of kids who have gotten to this level and then just could not get over that last hump. It is skill mixed with a lot of luck and timely breaks. I favored Decker based on his performance in ST. Lambo had his opportunity last year and did not take advantage. Going into 2015 it looked like he had no opportunity, and then the Snider trade takes place. He has not been good this ST, but with the calf injury to Decker, he gets still another bite at the apple. What if he breaks out today? That’s exactly how it happens in Baseball!

    • I agree 7, except keeping Florimon blocks using Kang, which I think the Pirates have to do. If the Bucs were more serious about the running game keeping Florimon for his speed would make sense, ala Kansas City. But the Pirates don’t emphasize running so my bet is they keep Lambo for the LH pinch hit bat.

      • I dont see why Florimon blocks using Kang. Kang is clearly a better hitter, so he gets any PH chance. Kang is able to play 3B, which gives him any off days for Harrison or Polanco if Harrison moves to RF on those days. I’d even think Kang is ahead of Florimon at 2B on Walker rest days, as Kang plays fine enough defense with a better bat for 2B. Florimon seems like typical defense first bench depth with speed for PR. Not a guy you trot out to start more than 5-10 times.

        • “Blocks” was too strong a word to use. “Steals time from” would have been better (more accurate). But frankly I’d rather see those 5 to 10 starts at SS made by Kang rather than Florimon, just for Kang’s development. To be fair I haven’t seen Florimon play. If he is the second coming of Ozzie Smith then my opinion would change. But if his defense isn’t of Ozzie’s pedigree I don’t see any value in the Pirates’ investing any MLB time in him because historically (this Spring notwithstanding) his bat doesn’t add any value.

          • If Kang’s defense is average, i agree Kang at SS. I dont love Florimon as Mr. 25, but i see the value in him starting the year there and if he tanks the first month in a limited role, he leaves and you promote Lambo. Even with the not great options like MacDonald we have seen, they never seem to get a ton of at bats.

      • I agree with Luke that Florimon won’t block using Kang, Kang can still play 3B and 2B and is the better hitter so he’ll see more PH opportunities than Florimon. Florimon is the best pinch runner option, if the Pirates take Lambo then he would join Kang and Rodriguez as the only potential pinch runners which likely doesn’t add any value. I’d agree that the Pirates don’t care as much about the running game as the Royals, but that doesn’t mean the Pirates don’t care at all. Certainly the Pirates care about the running game, and usually that is something you hear Hurdle or Huntington talking about, being more aggressive on the base paths. A few months ago I was sure Lambo was the better choice over Florimon, until at least I realized that Florimon has speed. Having speed to go long with excellent defense gives Florimon a slight edge I think (assuming that is what the Pirates actually value). If Florimon only had average speed, I’d say Lambo was still the far better choice for the last bench spot.
        .
        Really, it’s about speed vs left handed bat, which do you want more. Sure, we can say that without Lambo the Pirates don’t have a left handed bat on the bench, but it is also true that without Florimon the Pirates don’t have a speed option on the bench. I personally would still prefer to see Lambo make it, but I am more understanding now of why the Pirates might keep Florimon.

        • Management has talked a good game about running, but I just don’t sense an urgency. There is a huge difference between “we’d like to run more” and “we’re going to run”. Sure Cutch has the “green light”. But with his speed he should be stealing twice as many bases as he does. The fact that he doesn’t appear to push himself is evidence that the Pirates don’t take the running game seriously. The only guy who displayed an urgency to run last year was Marte, and he got thrown out a little more than he should have. The last time the Pirates emphasized the running game was when Chuck Tanner managed. I’m not close enough to the Pirates to truly assess Ric Sofield’s ability (I think he is still the base running coach isn’t he?). But just looking at the Pirates’ general approach when on at 1B it seems to me that the needed intensity, nor the skill set in taking leads and timing steal attempts just isn’t there.

          • I just plain dont want Cutch trying to steal twice as many as he does for 2 reasons. First, he is really quality at ensuring when he does run, he succeeds at the amount (or above) needed to make the threat of a steal worth it. When Cutch goes, he’s sure he hit it. They could let him run more, but it could likely mean he takes more chances that result in just as many outs as it does extra bases.

            Secondly, injury. Yeah, he could get injured at any time and you never know but it’s nice to not open him up to the threat of a tag to the head/stepped on hand/awkward slide/etc. I like 20-30 steals with 10 or less CS. Still has a good threat of speed but limits the amount of outs being run into and chance for weird injury.

            • Well your approach is commonly held I think, and is an example of not being committed to the running game as a means of pursuing strategic/tactical advantage. There isn’t a right or wrong answer approach to this. A team can win pursuing either approach. I think that over the next several years that team speed (especially when Hansen joins the club) will be a significant differential advantage that the Pirates should emphasize. As far as minimizing injury I would ban headfirst slides for all players. A good CS % is 25% or less, so 30C/10CS is okay, 20S/10CS is not.

              • I dont agree that that approach is not being committed to the running game. You only gain a tactical advantage if your best base stealers are succeeding around 70-75% of the time, so the idea that more steals is automatically a better use of speed is flawed. If Cutch opens it up, he opens it up to more steals and more CS. Last year was his best year in the running game, as he was on pace for around 25 steals and less than 10 CS.

                I think the overall team speed allows them to not rely on Cutch to hit any certain number, but ensure he is being percentage wise. The entire OF can steal 20 each. Finished tied for 9th in baseball in steals last year, so adding Polanco means we likely stay in the upper tier of teams in base stealing. We also were near the top in CS, which is expected when running more. So, i see trying to manage those two as better than purely trying to get guys running as much as possible.

                • “You only gain a tactical advantage if your best base stealers are succeeding around 70-75% of the time, so the idea that more steals is automatically a better use of speed is flawed.” I agree that if you can’t achieve a 70 to 75% success rate you don’t gain by running.

                  But consider if you combine the results of the Pirates top eight base stealers you get:

                  SB = 98 CS = 34 SB% = 74%

                  The balance of team statistics are:

                  SB = 6 CS = 13 SB% = 32%

                  So the guys who are good at it are effective, and should run more often. The guys who aren’t shouldn’t attempt often.

                  Consider a few 2014 team stats:

                  Rank Team SB CS S%

                  1 KC 153 36 81%

                  2 LAD 138 50 73%

                  3 Cinci 122 52 70%

                  4 Astros 122 37 77%

                  .

                  .

                  9 Cleve 104 27 79%

                  9 PIT 104 47 69%

                  KC ran a lot and was excelled in efficiency. But compare PIT to Cleveland. They stole the same number of bases, but Cleve was significantly better skilled. My point is that if the Pirates emphasized the running game they would be better coached, better skilled and would improve both the total bases stolen and the SB%.

                  The real question to ask is why are the Royals, Astros, Indians so effective in stealing?

                  • My issue with your premise is that you are saying that since the top guys are currently running at a good rate, increasing their volume means they still have that same rate. It is absolutely not a fact that you can just take your top base stealers and tell them they will run more and have the same %. Its entirely likely that when you tell them to be more aggressive, it directly leads to a lower percentage. I agree that PIT and CLE are good examples….of how a team can be more efficient, which doesnt not equal higher volume. I think PIT emphasizes the run game fine, it needs to now emphasize that some guys be more cautious about when to steal.

                    I’d take slightly lower totals with higher %, as it means the team is gaining runs overall. I dont see a huge need to greatly increase the total bases stolen, and doing so can easily result in a worse % just as easily as a better one. Much of this seems a bit unneeded as i see Polanco as inherently giving the team an increase in SB, which makes the need for focusing on cutting down CS greater. Hit 70+% as a team and rank top 10 and i dont have issue with the teams “focus” on the running game.

                • Cutch’s 2014 stats:

                  SB = 18 CS = 3 SB% = 86%

                  Jacoby Ellsbury’s 2014 stats:

                  SB = 39 CS = 5 SB% = 89%

                  All I’m asking is that Cutch perform as well as Ellsbury. Is that asking too much?

  7. I thought it was a lame move by Huntington to try to downplay Worley’s success last season. “One of the 95 or so guys with under a 4 ERA and over 100 innings” When in reality he had under a 3 ERA, the 24th best in baseball among people with over 100 innings.

  8. A little disappointed in the Worely and Holdzkom moves. I don’t think we are taking our best relievers north. I get the feeling we will keep Floriman simply because he is out of options. Years ago I would agree with that but with our team today I would like to see us take the best players north no matter the status (I understand we would not do that with a guys like Polonco because of contracts). Last year we missed winning the division by one or two games. Wins in April are as valuable as wins in September. I don’t want to wonder what could have been

  9. I think Florimon wins the job. He gives you MIF defense off the bench and speed. Idon’t think Lambo has done enough to make the team yet. It would be Decker if he were healthy. As for the Pitching situation I would have been shocked yesterday if you told me Pimentel would get a bullpen spot but with Holdzkom being sent down and Hughes having options there is a possibility they are not willing to give up on him yet. My only hope is if he makes the team don’t let him rot out in the bullpen like last year. You have to pitch him or he will struggle again. Caminero and Liz have to make this team. So it’s Melancon,Watson,Bastardo,Worley (who should be in Morton’s spot in the rotation)Liz,Caminero, and the final spot will go to either Hughes or Pimentel

    • I hate to say this, but I thought you wrote “MILF” instead of “MIF”. I had to read that twice!

      Shows where MY mind is at!!!

    • Assuming Hart’s knees limit him in the OF, That leaves no-one to cover sickness, down time etc as a 4th OF’er, unless you are planning to run JHay out there.

      This Snider deal seems sillier and sillier.

      The EASY answer, is start Kang in Indy

      • Without the addition of the two LHP obtained for Snyder the system would be barren of LHP prospects with the exception of Cody Dickson. So there was value in return. If Lambo were having a great Spring you wouldn’t miss Snyder as much. I think starting Kang in Indy makes sense, but reading between the lines it sounds like a promise was made to Kang to keep him in MLB to induce him to sign. I don’t see him spending time in Indy unless he stays in a prolonged slump.

      • Yes, Snider looks great in ST with his .239 average and 1 RBI. I don’t put much stock in ST but other than a decent second half of last year, Lunch Box never did much for the Bucs.

    • Morton’s spot in the rotation has never been in question, provided he’s healthy. The only questions coming into ST were, if 5th starter was Worley or Locke, back end of the bullpen and who the last position player would be. Everything else was decided before ST regardless of ST performance, again, provided everyone is healthy

Comments are closed.