Winter Mini-Camp: Day Three Discussion Thread

Today is day three of the Pirates’ winter mini-camp, which will feature more of the same from the past two days. Pitchers throwing long toss, position players fielding and taking batting practice. You can use this thread to discuss anything Pirates-related on your mind.

Nothing new to report this morning so far. We will have articles on Jon Niese, Jameson Taillon and Josh Bell, all either later today or one might get held off until tomorrow. Taillon has already left camp for a family wedding, but Tim Williams was able to talk to him one-on-one and will have a feature coming up. Niese left after one day as planned. He is doing his off-season training in St Lucie.

If any minor news comes up, we will add it here, otherwise any big news will have it’s own article.

**We had a few people ask about specific players showing up. On the Major League side, it’s a voluntary camp, so no one has to show up. On the minor league side, the current players are there for two weeks and the Pirates have more than one mini-camp during the off-season. So if a particular player isn’t there now, that means he was either there already, or will be in the near future. One player I talked to yesterday said that he was coming in on February 1st.

**Buster Olney posted his top ten infields this morning(subscription required), plus added four in the “just missed” section and the Pirates didn’t get a mention. They did real well the last two days with rotation and bullpen, especially when you combine the two pitching categories into one ranking. However, the only two teams ahead of the Pirates in pitching for Olney, both did well for infield. The Cubs ranked #1 for infield and Cardinals came in sixth.

**Gregory Polanco has arrived at mini-camp

**35 days until pitchers and catchers report.

  • Top Prospect countdown resumes tomorrow?

    • There will be one more day of mini-camp coverage tomorrow, then the top prospects resume on Monday, five per week for the next three week, which basically leads up to the players reporting to Spring Training

  • As long as the best we can do at SS is Mercer, the Bucs will never be a top ten infield. I have been a bit surprised that there has been no effort to upgrade SS – of course there hasn’t been much done to upgrade first base which was a bigger problem so maybe it isn’t a surprise.

  • Did infield include catcher? If so, we should have at least been mentioned.

    I suspect we’ll do pretty well when it comes to outfields :).

  • NMR….Here is a (I think) good article, explaining why I don’t think losing Walker’s 2.4 WAR will be hard to replace.

    Last season Harrison had a triple slash of .287/.327/.390 and a WAR of 1.7. His war would have placed him tenth when you compare him to the other top 10 Second Basemen (by innings played at the position). This is also lower than the WAR Walker had last year (2.4). One mitigating factor in his offensive numbers was his missing two months of the season due to his injured thumb.

    The injury had to have have affected his hitting, and stunted his return. Now that he has had the full winter to recover, Harrison needs to improve his OBP and SLG in order to become more valuable on the offensive side of things.

    • Two issues with the concept of Harrison replacing Walker and one with the trade itself…

      *The concept of Harrison replacing Walker itself is like saying Gerrit Cole would replace Burnett/Happ. Move a 5 WAR #1 starter to replace your 5 WAR loss at #3 and viola!

      Of course nobody would buy that logic, and for good reason.

      Josh Harrison was *already* assumed to be a valuable contributor to the 2016 ball club. Moving him to 2B is robbing Peter to pay Paul.

      *The assumption in the article that Harrison’s offense suffered last year due to injury relies fully on the one, single year in his life that he was even an average power hitter. Regression was *always* to be expected. This likely is what he is. And while the difference in value between him and Walker may very well be made up in defense and baserunning, I think it’s far from safe to assume that simply being a good athlete will allow him to excel as a defender up the middle.

      *As for the trade itself, Niese *must* return to a 2+ WAR player *just to make this trade even*. The Pirates paid current prices for potential value, which is the opposite of what they did with literally every single reclamation and/or value sign/trade they’ve been lauded for in the past, and unlike those, Niese has very little room for upside.

  • Just a general observation: I think if Bard becomes effective, he will become the next Hanaran (too lazy to look up spelling).

  • Ok, here is a question. For especially the minor league guys (who don’t make
    a lot of money) is any type of compensation provided during the “optional”
    mini-camp sessions? Housing? Meal allowance? Travel expense? etc?

    • Everything you mentioned is taken care of. They live at Pirate City and all meals are taken care of there.

      • I imagine that most, then, will live there and take advantage of it as long as possible…especially since the amenities (food etc) are likely better for them than they otherwise get/can afford over the course of a season.

        • They really need to change how the minors are handled. No way these guys should be paid so little. No way guys in the bigs should be making 20+M a year. None of this will happen but should.

          • Many – not all of the minor leaguers you are fretting over signed fairly large bonuses – Bell is a millionaire – he could give a rats ass about the minor league salary and per diem. They are all free to go and do something else if they prefer.

            • Large portion of minor league guys really didnt get a major bonus. I mean, yes, if we compare these guys to average joes they made good money. But they also make less than the poverty line the first 1-3 years during the season so they really arent easily able to eat well.

              They arent all poor starving guys, but its painful to read sentences like “free to go do something else” because its exactly what MLB wants. Dont feel sorry for the tons of players who want to continue playing as 20th round picks, those guys dont matter.

              • Minor League baseball, especially at the lower levels is a really hard life for young and older guys alike. There are many obstacls to a successful MLB career,and most of those are due to money problems. The guys who do not get signed for a large bonus, which is most, have to be subsidized by either parents and wives, or both.

                • Leo…here in Harrisburg, many of the players either live in shared apartments or with host families.

                  It is sad, with all of the money being made in baseball, how poor these minor leaguers have it.

                  • If this is a hardship then perhaps they should – as the great Chuck said – “get on with their life’s work”. I have no sympathy for someone who is getting paid to play a game.

                  • Eric Marshall
                    January 13, 2016 6:28 pm

                    That is my point. Because of the excesses at the major league level it seems criminal that a majority of these guys get paid so little.

          • To begin with, you’d think teams would monitor/control what the players eat far more than currently. You’ve got guys running with per diem and whatever money they have and eating accordingly as 18-22 year olds.

            Seems like a FO could easily throw some money at minor league food, not break the bank, and ensure the players are getting quality nutrition during the playing months.

            • Similarly, was I the only one surprised that Tyler Glasnow apparently puts together his own diet and training program? Tim’s article alluded to as much.

            • Any player in the DSL, GCL or Spring Training/Extended Spring Training doesn’t get a per diem because they don’t do road games. They get fed meals at the Dominican facility or Pirate City, so for the younger players, they are as monitored as you can get.

              Not defending the system that obviously underpays them, but many of these players also have supportive parents, who help them out during the early years. Not all the players who don’t get a big bonus are starving kids.

              I also know that some host families take really good care of the players during the season, so it’s basically like living with a supportive parent.

              • Its great that some have supportive parents, but that really shouldnt be a need for them. It sucks, in general, to have to rely on your parents to survive.

                • That’s besides the point. As I said, it was more to show that not every low bonus player is starving, not to defend low pay

                  • I dont think they are starving, but they are far from being able to make healthy choices for themselves. They can find food, but cheap food is nearly always easier and worse for you. As a team, id want the guy having every meal be as solid as possible and not pretty much not caring what he eats once he goes home.

                    • Luke – I generally agree with your posts, but I must admit I have little sympathy for young men pursuing their dreams. There are many other athletes in many other sports that pursue their dreams with much less support.

                      My daughters are elite runners that have and will pursue pro running careers, one even had the opportunity to run in the USA Track and Field Championships; however the award money they receive is usually miniscule (unless your among the mega-elite). She is ecstatic to receive compensation for travel and entrance fees, but she continues to pursue it because she loves it and relies on family, loans, and part-time jobs to make it happen.

                    • I have sympathy for that, but that doesnt mean i cant also have sympathy for how a chunk of minor leaguers are treated as wholly not worth the time to care about from a MLB standpoint.

                      It smacks of arrogance to go “because others in other sports struggle as well, paying you well below normal standards is fine because you are chasing a dream.” If anything, it certainly can be a deterrent from some kids playing baseball. Go chase that dream and dont get mad about what happens in year 1-3 if you are a 15th round pick who develops normally.

                    • Maybe the arrogance is thinking that just because they play baseball the living standards should be higher.

                      My only point was that whatever sport you chose, I think you clearly know the obstacles that exist including substandard compensation for the huge majority of athletes. Right or wrong? I don’t know, but it is hard to feel too sympathetic when the consequences are pretty clear before you make the choice.

                    • Eric Marshall
                      January 13, 2016 6:25 pm

                      I have to think there is much more money in professional baseball vs vs running. Is there a runner union? Is there a national sprinters or cross country league. Track and field or traditional Olympic sports don’t compare to mlb, nfl, NHL or nba. Can’t compare the two.

                    • Wasn’t trying to compare the two. Just giving my opinion. I know these minor leaguers work hard like most athletes, but I will save my sympathy for others. If it makes me a rotten person so be it.

                    • My point isnt the living standards should be higher…..its that they should be the same as every other human being who works a regular job. I can decide to work at any random job and get minimum wage, but if i decide to play baseball i have to expect to make less than that.

                    • kale and chicken and carrots are all pretty cheap.

                    • Cheap must be pretty relative then, because chicken sure isnt cheap for me. Its not the price of beef, but im not able to buy chicken and easily get more than 1 meal out of it for the 3-5 bucks it cost for that amount.

      • Thanks John, I am just learning about these things.
        I very much appreciate your help. How does the
        compensation work for travel? Mileage, plane ticket?
        (no exact numbers needed, just overall)

        In a way you are saying the Pirate city is kind of
        like a college campus?

        Except with a golf course?

        • They don’t do anything with plane travel, it’s all set up for them. I talked to one of the players from the DSL(who wasn’t from the Dominican) and he said he just goes with his passport to the airport. I guess you could say it’s like a college campus, where they stay is called the dorms, but everything is there for them. They usually travel together in groups on the days off if they go somewhere, usually the mall.