Every year at the start of the season, I take the ZiPS projections, apply those to the projected playing time for each player and position throughout the year, and use that to come up with a projected record. The method tends to be more optimistic than most projections, and in previous years, that made it more accurate than those projections, which had the 2013-2015 Pirates around a .500 club.

This year, the projection ended up with an 89-73 record, which if that would have played out, would have resulted in the Pirates hosting the NL Wild Card game once again on Wednesday night. Obviously they fell well short of that projection. I’ve written before about how there are many reasons why the Pirates struggled this year. Tonight I’m going to take a look at those pre-season expectations, compared to the end of the season results, and see what went wrong with each player and each position.


The catchers were projected for a combined 3.2 WAR at the start of the season. This included 2.5 WAR from Francisco Cervelli, 0.5 from Chris Stewart, and 0.2 from the backups, based on the projections from Elias Diaz.

Unfortunately, all three of these guys were injured, and at one point the Pirates had a starting catching combo of Eric Fryer and Erik Kratz. Cervelli and Stewart each fell short of their projections, while the bad depth situation ended up with a -0.4 fWAR. The result was that the catchers in total fell shy of their projections by 1.9 WAR.


I’m not going to break down each position here, but I’m going to list all of the projections and provide a summary.

John Jaso: 1.5 WAR projected/0.7 fWAR

Josh Harrison: 2.2/1.5

Jordy Mercer: 1.1/1.3

Jung Ho Kang: 2.3/2.4

David Freese: 0.7/1.8

Sean Rodriguez: 0.1/2.0

I had projections for other infielders, mostly looking at prospects like Alen Hanson or depth players like Cole Figueroa. I didn’t really include Josh Bell in the pre-season projection, as he was projected to be a downgrade over John Jaso at first base. That ended up being somewhat true, as Bell had a -0.2 fWAR, while Jaso had an 0.7 fWAR, with the defense being a big factor for each.

Overall, the infield didn’t struggle too much. Mercer and Kang both matched their projection. Jaso and Harrison combined to fall short by 1.5 WAR. But the off-season additions of David Freese and Sean Rodriguez more than made up for that, with a boost of 3.0 WAR over the projections. That also helps to make up for the catchers. When you combine all of the players above, you get to a -0.1 WAR difference between the projections and the actual results.


Andrew McCutchen: 5.6/0.9

Starling Marte: 3.8/4.0

Gregory Polanco: 2.2/2.7

Matt Joyce: 0.1/1.2

The glaring issue here is Andrew McCutchen’s down year. That lost the Pirates 4.7 WAR from their pre-season projections. Marte and Polanco each slightly outplayed their projections, while Matt Joyce provided a nice boost in value. But even with those factored in, the Pirates were missing 2.9 WAR from this group. Add in the guys above, and the Pirates were 3.0 WAR shy of their projections, without considering the bench depth, or the pitching staff. And most of that is on McCutchen.

I will also note that while Polanco exceeded his projections, he had a disappointing second half. He started off strong, with a .287/.362/.500 line in the first half, but slumped to a .220/.267/.414 line in the second half. That really went down in September, when he posted a .191/.245/.266 line. In fact, after the month of May, he didn’t have a single month with an OPS above .800 the rest of the season. The hope early in the season was that he was having a breakout season, although that wasn’t sustained. He showed his potential if he does break out, but the 2016 season didn’t see that full breakout.

The Bench

The key members of the bench (Freese/Rodriguez/Stewart/Joyce) were mentioned above. This area covers the depth with all of the other players. In the pre-season projection, the rest of the bench players were projected for 1.2 WAR. Alen Hanson, Adam Frazier, and Max Moroff were combining to get most of the value off the bench as depth options, with a combined 0.5 WAR from those guys.

Adam Frazier provided the biggest spark as a depth option, being worth 0.8 fWAR this year. However, his value was negated by negative value from other players. Josh Bell factors in here with his -0.2 fWAR. Alen Hanson, Michael Morse, and Cole Figueroa all had the same as Bell, and collectively, they wiped out Frazier’s value. The depth options ended up with a -0.3 fWAR combined, which was a drop of 1.5 fWAR.

Overall, the position players fell short of their projections by 4.5 WAR.

The Rotation

Gerrit Cole: 4.3/2.5

Francisco Liriano: 3.2/-0.3

Jon Niese: 1.8/-0.4

Jeff Locke: 1.4/0.2

Juan Nicasio: 0.8/1.3

I’m going to start off with the Opening Day rotation before I get to the rest of the options. Every single starter here ended up well short of their projections. The one exception was Juan Nicasio, although most of his value came in the bullpen.

The biggest problem in the off-season was that Neal Huntington didn’t add a good starter to the back of the rotation, instead going with Jon Niese, Jeff Locke, and Ryan Vogelsong/Juan Nicasio (Vogelsong fell shy of his projection by 0.3 WAR, but we’ll get to that later). It certainly didn’t help that Niese and Locke then combined to fall short of their projections by 3.4 WAR. The plan was projected to get some value from the back of the rotation, and it ended up getting none at all.

Players will fall short of projections, although maybe not to the extent that we saw from the Pirates’ roster this year. But when those projections are starting out low, you’re not leaving much room for value. Gerrit Cole fell short of his projections by almost two wins, and he was still more valuable than Niese or Locke were projected to be. Meanwhile, Niese and Locke ended up as replacement level players, because they weren’t falling from a high projection to begin with.

So while Huntington’s plan wasn’t supposed to be this bad, these results say something about shooting higher. If you go for a better projected pitcher and he falls short of projections, you at least get some value. But in reality, Huntington could have added J.A. Happ last off-season (who was actually projected for 1.3 WAR by ZiPS, but ended up with 3.2 fWAR), and it still wouldn’t have made up for the loss of 8.7 WAR from these four starters. Huntington had a bad off-season with the pitching staff, although you add three extra wins from Happ, and this team is still a .500 team, falling several games short of the playoffs. So while he gets some blame for this season, it’s hard to objectively place most of the blame on him.

Outside of the above starters, the remaining starting pitching innings were projected for 1.6 WAR. This was mostly Tyler Glasnow and Jameson Taillon, with Glasnow getting the higher projections pre-season. As it turned out, the Pirates got 1.7 fWAR alone from Taillon. They also got 0.9 fWAR from Chad Kuhl, 0.1 from Glasnow, and 1.9 from Ivan Nova after the trade.

There’s two things about this. First, Huntington did make up for his bad off-season a bit by getting a huge addition in Nova down the stretch. That helped to off-set some of the loss in value from the first half. The other thing is that the prospects did provide the boost the Pirates were hoping for, with Taillon and Kuhl getting the bulk of the impact with a combined 2.6 fWAR in half a season each. I don’t think this justifies building an approach around waiting for the prospects to arrive, as the first few months of the season matter. But once again, I don’t think another starter in the first half year really impacts the overall results.

In total, the rotation combined for a negative 5.2 WAR. That includes Nicasio’s results (which mostly came in the bullpen) and the impact of Nova and the prospects providing a boost outside of the Opening Day rotation. Those two factors added 3.5 WAR here, helping to make up for the top four rotation spots on Opening Day.

The Bullpen

Mark Melancon: 1.2/0.9

Tony Watson: 0.9/-0.1

Neftali Feliz: 0.3/-0.1

Arquimedes Caminero: 0.2/-0.2

Jared Hughes: 0.0/-0.4

Cory Luebke: 0.3/-0.2

Ryan Vogelsong: 0.4/0.1

Other Relievers: 0.6/0.4

Relievers generally don’t provide a lot of value in terms of WAR. The top two guys in the bullpen generally do, but everyone else is mostly around replacement level. Several of the guys in the bullpen (Feliz, Caminero, Hughes, Luebke) fell short of that, having negative value. What hurt even more was that Tony Watson was yet another player who had a down year, getting negative value and losing 1 WAR from his projection.

The other relievers fell short, which was pretty amazing, considering A.J. Schugel and Wade LeBlanc combined for 0.9 fWAR. They fell short due to so many pitchers who provided replacement level value or lower in their short times in the bullpen. These were all depth options, and the Pirates just didn’t have good relief depth this year, outside of Schugel.

The bullpen in total ended up falling short of their projections by 3.5 WAR. That means the pitching staff in total fell short by 8.7 WAR.

A Disaster Year

The pre-season projection had the Pirates with an 89-73 record. Instead, they finished 11 wins short of that projected record. The team finished 13.2 WAR shy of their projections. It’s hard to look at those two numbers and not draw a connection between the players almost universally struggling, and the team having a down year. I don’t want to say that the entire blame rests on the players, since you’re inevitably going to have some players who fall short of their projections.

In previous years, the Pirates always exceeded other projections (although they were usually closer to this one than others). There are a lot of reasons they fell short this year, between injuries and players having down years. But one factor was that they didn’t have as many high beta guys as in the past. Their second half was a bit more like the 2013-2015 teams, with high beta guys that paid off like Taillon, Kuhl, Nova, and even their bullpen approach of adding a lot of guys in September and ending up with an 0.3 fWAR from Wade LeBlanc as a result.

It’s unfair to say that Huntington didn’t add any of these guys before the season. The three guys who exceeded their projections the most were Sean Rodriguez, David Freese, and Matt Joyce. That gave the Pirates 4.1 WAR that was unexpected before the season. You can only imagine where the Pirates would have been this year without those three additions (probably picking in the top ten of next year’s draft).

But it didn’t seem like there was a lot of upside on the pitching side of things. Even if Niese, Locke, and Vogelsong/Nicasio worked out, you were still looking at a low upside. I pointed out a flaw in that above, where shooting for a lower upside means you get no value if the pitcher struggles. But there’s also the flaw that by not going for higher upside pitchers, you have almost no chance of making up lost value when other players struggle. And there will definitely be lost value somewhere on the team.

Unfortunately, this year’s team had way too much lost value to possibly expect the Pirates to make up for it all with a better starting pitcher. But hopefully they don’t repeat the same off-season mistake this year, as it’s very unlikely that they’ll see another year next year where almost every single player on the roster falls short of his projections.

**Should the Pirates Trade Andrew McCutchen This Off-Season? Today’s article took a look at whether Andrew McCutchen should be traded this off-season. My opinion is yes, if they can upgrade their rotation in the trade.

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  1. Oh,

    And one other question.

    Do we have any idea yet of the status of
    Cole for next year? That will have huge
    impact on our decision making related to
    next season.

  2. One of Tim’s best articles.
    Now can you somehow put into numbers the
    ineffectiveness of the coaching staff?

  3. Fact in 2016! – The Chicago Cubs established a new level of dominance in the NL Central!

    Any discussion of the Pirates poor season must start with the above fact (ditto the Cardinals). A 98 win season would still be 2nd place in the Division, with the Cubs hitting the century mark. Unless the Pirates are ready to match the Cubs starting pitching, the Cubs deep bench, the Cubs terrible two of Bryant/Rizzo (and Rizzo is only 27 !), there’s not much the Pirates can hope for the next several years. For example, there’s no Bryants or Rizzos in the Pirates minor league chain, anywhere!

    Theo Epstein has drafted, bought and traded far better than Huntington these past five years. And the Cubs money $$$$ has easily exceeded what the rather tight fisted Nutting clan is willing to spend (saving something for their children to run into the 21st century?).

    Any hope we had for matching the Cubs 1-2 punch faded in 2016 with Cutch regressing all around and Marte coming up with back problems. Forget Marte playing centerfield everyday. Good as he is, he can’t even get through a season playing left field! And Polanco? He needs to get rid of the mouthful of chewing tobacco and figure out how to stay sharp and focused for an entire 162 game schedule.

    Get ready Pirates fans for some lean years ahead. And that statement comes from an otherwise optimistic Pirates fan!

    • Re: “A 98 win season would still be second place” – not necessarily if the Bucs went .500 vs. Chicago.

      If as part of the 98 wins, instead of going 4-14, the Bucs went 9-9, that would give Chicago the same 98 wins. Game 163, Taillon vs Hendricks!

  4. They went dumpster diving for pitching and got what they paid for. Overall the one thing I’ll never understand was how the heck David Freese was still available in mid-March for $3 mil. Absolute steal.

    Lets see – Frankie had a salary of $17 mil. It took two middling prospects to dump him at his lowest possible value.

    Cutch – salary will be $14 mil. What prospects will be given up to similarly dump him, again at lowest possible value?

    Two guys and a third of the payroll chopped right off the top. It’ll feel like the second coming of Kevin McClatchy all over again.

  5. this is a good article and brings the full perspective to what happens to the Pirates this year. It’ll be a thin FA market for everyone, not only the Pirates. There are 2 approaches facing the Pirates. 1. Be competitive for wildcard in 2017. This path means counting on the chances that the hitters won’t have a repeat regression next year and shoring up the pitching situation. 2. Competing for championship in 2017. This would take the above plus something remarkable such as adding Nova AND another solid starter somehow (maybe with some surprising trade(s)). #2 doesn’t strike me as in the Pirates DNA. If you agree, you might feel as I do, which is kind of deflated. #2 should be the goal. The Pirates have a good team. It would be nice to see them reach a bit when they are so close to winning a championship. Good to great. They appear to be planning to simply be “good enough.”

    • The upper levels of the Pirates’ system aren’t overstocked enough to make the big trade that you want and still meet the needs of adding 4 to 5 players per year. Any big trade would deplete the Bucs too much. The Cubs had the advantage of “blowing up” a team recently with the trades with Oakland for instance. Unfortunately the Pirates “blowup” is too far in the past, and NH didn’t do a good enough job of getting good return when he did it.

    • The problems as I see it with these projections are simple. The Pirates were a 98 win team going into the last off season. We needed help last yr with SP as well, with the loss of AJ. The FA market for SP was more appealing last yr with the Very resignable JA Happ & some others on the market. NH did nothing to improve a 98 win team a yr ago. He made the team even somewhat worse with the trades at the deadline. I just don’t see him spending the money that will be required this off season, with the FA pitching market being so thin. Even if we trade Cutch & acquire a solid SP in said trade for the rotation? Austin Meadows will not be brought up until after Super Two in mid June. So, we will still have 2 months without one of our best prospects helping the MLB club bc, we have to wait to bring him up bc, we need the damn Finflex & have to save the money. Funny, I was bullish on this teams future after last season. Huntington’s moves over this past yr have done nothing but get me depressed. Not all his fault certainly, but he still pulled the trigger on a lot of crap. I am depressed.

  6. What happened was quite simple. It was all Tyler Glasnow’s fault! Remember he was supposed to be up with team in May and was only held down by the cheap Nuttings until after Super 7! And then he as supposed to go 12-2, lead the League in ERA and win Rookie Pitcher of the Year. Show of hands out there, who expected this or something similar……C’mon…..I know you’re out there. So Tyler Glasnow cost them 10 wins!

    • TG was age 22 in May. Turned age 23 August 23.

      He led INL in SO in 2016. Pitched numerous no-hit innings on a weak hitting Indy team. Yes, was criticized for BBs as he continued his young development. He had a fatiguing year traveling with bouncing trips to Pittsburgh and INL cities.

      TG’s last game was Fri Sept 30 pitching 5.0 complete Innings, 79 pitches in St Louis.
      His FB was hitting 95, including the one HR by Gyorko (his 29th HR of 2016) off a 95 mph FB.

      TG got 4 SOs, his best pitches were his off speed 79-83 curve balls. He had one WP which the announcer said Fryer should have blocked.

      TG gave up 1 run and the Bucs were shut out 7-0, TG got his 2nd loss as he was pitcher of record when relieved after the 5th, trailing 0-1.
      Buc relievers blew the remaining 6 runs 🙁

      Off season TG will be lifting weights with his decathlete
      brother Ted. Hopefully he will be developing new pitches (cutters, sliders whatever) for ‘out’ pitches thrown from his 6’8″ high arc.

      Throughout the year, PP commenters have made comments about 6’9 Randy Johnson not fully developed until age 25. Hopefully TG will have good command long before age 25, with velocity.

  7. I was really surprised at how little production we got out of Polanco after May.

    That almost leads me to wonder….is he not a fulltime player and wore down, or has the league again punched back at him and he hasn’t adjusted?

    • I do think he’ll get better. I don’t think he’ll be a monster although he may have a 4 WAR in him once or twice. I think his upside is probably Jay Bruce, who did manage to have two very good power production years before age 27, then went *poof*.

    • I saw him losing his disci p lined approach at the plate as the season wore on. His hands were steady at the letters when the season started and we’re bouncing all around by the end. It looked like he mentally lost focus and confidence. I think he’ll get it back.

  8. How many wins if they sign Happ, keep Walker, don’t trade for Niese and don’t sign Freese?

    The difference between Walker and Jhay well over 2 WAR. So you lose some of Freese’s production but you don’t subtract the entire amount. Jhay could have filled in as superutility as well as Srod with them taking turns at 3b until Kang returns.

  9. I think the article, what it was intended to show is fine/good. Some recent posters feel the same way that I do that the not signing Happ really had a detrimental impact on this year and I think it will make putting together a starting 5 in 2017 more challenging, so downstream impact…. For those of you who will point out that Happ only had two months of success and it is revisionist history I get that but I’ve been transparent on his value to me (just me) for quite some time. Regardless, we lie in the bed we made and I do have faith that we can turn this back around…. Free Agent market looks very weak and besides pitching (can you really say besides pitching 🙂 🙂 ) we are settled. My point is that we have a team and depth and it will be a trading off season, so our GM has a chance to make things right, TWT as we put to bed lessons learned on 2016 🙂

  10. It’s a fun read, but too simplistic. Any changes to the starting 25-man roster would likely not be a straight 1-to-1 substitution. There would inevitably be some game theory involved.

    For instance, it’s likely Happ could’ve been better than 3.2 fWAR pitching in the NLC and having Searage correct some of his early season issues quicker. Maybe with Happ on board, Vogey doesn’t get signed, Nicasio doesn’t step into the rotation (or replaces Locke instead). Bucs would cancel out the negatives of both Vogey and Nicasio starts and add to the positive column.

    Maybe Happ serves as a stopper to prevent some of the longer losing streaks, which may have reduced pressing by others. It would also be easy to see that Happ might’ve saved the pen some innings and changed how Hurdle used the pen, especially long relief.

    Point is, there are reasonable paths that could’ve resulted in a net 6 or 7 game increase based on that one player alone, which could’ve resulted in a WC berth.

    • Exactly. Maybe if Happ is here Nicasio is pitching meaningful innings early in year in relief and Caminero isn’t blowing games. (not to mention some of the other middle inning dumpster fires)

  11. Looking at these projections from last year not only tells me how bad we missed- it also leads me to believe it will be hard to approach these numbers in 2017 with our true talent.

    Infield was projected for 7.8 WAR not including Srod. The only player I see who should project for meaningfully more next year and probably hit is Kang. I’m guessing his projection is near 4 WAR and he might do more. I think 2b with Jhay or Frazier probably projects around 1.5, and Mercer’s glove tailed off he probably will have similar projection. Because of Bell’s defense I’d be surprised to see him project for more than 1.5 or surpass that. I could see Freese doing around .8 WAR. All in all I think in 2017 we should be able to do about 8 WAR in infield though(more if Kang has career year)

    When we move to outfield it projected for 14.6 between Cutch, Marte and Polanco. I think the days of Cutch projecting to being 6 WAR or achieving that are over with his defense(gave back 3 runs with D). So 4 WAR is probably his projection and ceiling. Starling probably will have similar projection GP may project about 3.2. All In all I think even with Cutch rebound you are looking at 11-12 WAR as likely output so well under 14.6- I will it 3 win gap from 2016 projection.

    The rotation. WOW! Projected for 11.5 WAR last year.
    So next year I’m guessing Cole has similar projection let’s hope he hits it around 4 WAR.

    Frank gone but Taillon probably projects around 2.5-2.7 WAR, I doubt he has a projection as high as 2016 Frank

    Kuhl may projection around 1.3-1.4 WAR and hard to see him doing much more than that.

    Glasnow’s projection probably comes down somewhat to 1.2-1.3

    Brault or Hutch probably under 1

    Now if they can sign Nova or someone he might have a projection approaching 2.

    So if they sign someone and everything goes right maybe they could do around 1

    So if everything goes right I could see them possibly approaching around 11 WAR but that would be signing someone like Nova, getting 2.5 WAR from Kuhl and one of Glasnow/Brault and no injuries. But it’s possible to approach the 2016 projection there.

    The bullpen looks like a mess to me right now. Not only did we not come close to meeting that projection we actually had negative WPA with Melancon this year. We used to get about 5-6 WPA a year from just Melancon and Watson alone.

    I guess Watson will project for .6 or . 7WAR
    Rivero will project for around .9 WAR
    Nicasio (if we keep him will project for .7)
    Bastardo maybe around .4 WAR(if we keep him)
    Other guys I’m counting on nothing

    If those guys met that projection(which I doubt) that would be 2.6 WAR. And that’s if we keep everyone(Watson and Bastardo expensive) And that doesn’t get into fact that Rivero was almost worth 1 loss in WPA. He was NOT GOOD in high leverage. Neither was Watson late in season. Even bringing back all those guys we are probably at least 1 win under 2016 projection(probably more)

    So even if all that goes right and improves my math takes me to at least a 4 win gap from what was projected in 2016. But could easily be 5-6 win gap.

    They need someone like Kang, Greg, or Star, or Bell to have monster year and seriously outperform projections and get that bullpen back to being dominant again to have a chance at making playoffs in my estimation.

    • I came away with a similar feeling…this doesn’t feel like more than an 86 win club next year.

      To pull an old phrase, they need more high beta players. Guys who can pull a 4-win season out of a 2-win projection.

      • I agree. And I think that is a very optimistic outlook.

        Does anyone really think a reasonable projection for us vs Cubs and Cards doesn’t have us a distant 3rd in division?

        • I don’t know that I’d put the Pirates more than a couple wins below the Cards in terms of talent, as we sit right now. Even this 2016 club dominated the Cards until the bottom fell out of the rotation, and if nothing else I expect the 2017 version to have a higher floor.

      • Hi NMR, been a long time… my thoughts? :)…. It feels like an 81 win team where we sit right now but I do think we are in a good position, based on locked in players/depth to make the appropriate trades to make it 88 or 74 wins, we will see 🙂

  12. Mr. Williams: Hi how are you? I have a hypothetical construct to bounce off you. Do you think that in some perverse or unknown way the PBC have done some of these deals this year knowing what the CBA will actually look like? I have know clue what it will look like but I would guess that Nutting has a very good handle on it. I cannot believe that he would have approved some of the measures taken this season without some insider knowledge. One point I have noticed is that they want their position players to play multiple positions. They are even looking at Jaso at third and even in the outfield. This tells me the DH is probably off the table. Can PBC actually believe that the changes to be made will allow them to generate more revenue and in return spend more on FREE AGENTS or extensions.? This has been the most frustrating year I have experienced as a Bucco fan since the late 90’s with that being said I have to believe that these smart men know something.

  13. The alarming news is the A’s outbid the Pirates by $500,000 for Rich Hill last offseason, according to a report in the Trib and attributed to Peter Gammons. Then on the last day of the season the team gives Vogelsong – who I admire – a $300,000 parting gift.
    As much as the front office derailed this season with shortsighted pitching moves, this ownership group is the main reason this team has not taken the next step. Loosen up those purse strings just a little bit fellas.

    • They have a strange approach to spending money. I believe it is the OGDEN NUTTING PHILOSOPHY: Every nickle inherited you keep! Every penny earned you keep! This strategy has permeated our baseball team where management cannot or is afraid to make decisions where money is involved. Too many mistakes are made because of money. What will be interesting to watch is how the NUTTING family reacts to 1/4 million drop in attendance after winning 98 games the year before. Now the media is shilling for them to trade McCutchen because he had an off year. He is now the highest paid bucco and the drums are beating. ” Let’s get more prospects” ” Let’s get a starter”. If you want to look at a stark difference between two organizations look at the BLUE JAYS. Russell Martin, JA HAPP and Francisco Liriano. This could be a good B-SCHOOL case study. We do have Hutch!

  14. They better hope Cole can bounce back and that his injuries aren’t serious. Finding two reliable starters will be difficult in this market. They should invest in rebuilding the bullpen. With a glut of closers on the market, maybe they can bring Melancon back and another high end arm. If they do that, then Watson can be traded/packaged in a trade for a starter. He still has value, but only has one year of control and regressed. Bullpen can also be supplemented by shifting one or two of the high end starter prospects to the front of the pen. Cutch and Marte should swap positions. If Cutch rebounds to his second half numbers, that’s solid. I would also consider batting him leadoff. I think it was an unfortunate year and they can bounce back to 89-92 win team next year with a few moves – as long as Cole is healthy.

    • Marte cannot stay healthy, now that he has back problems that’s the death null for any pro athlete. They should keep Cutch and trade him and that bonehead Polanco who will always be a liability in the field and inconsistent at the plate.

  15. Quite the rundown Tim.

    Is it safe to say that if the Pirates pick up 2 SP and a couple of top notch relievers, McCutchon has a bounce back season, a strong bench is added and there is minimal improvement from most position players that the Pirates could be a 90 win team in 2017?

    So if 6 to 8 WAR is added in the offseason at about $42M to $56M, Cutch bounces back and there is on the field improvement by nearly everyone, the Cubs won’t run away from the PBC. Shouldn’t be a problem!

    • Bobby Tim has a point. Your statement made although it makes some sense the money you propose will never be spent by this ownership. Their goal is to get the most out of the least amount of money spent. This is a decent goal in most environments but not within the MLB model.

    • I am not quite sure the Pirates will want to add two SP’s or add $42 to $56 mil without unloading a few more guys. The Pirates dropped the $9.65 mil of Melancon and the $13 mil of Liriano. We should shed SRod, Vogelsong, and a few others, but their salaries are $3 mil or less. I hope we find a way to unload the 2017 $6.5 mil salary of Antonio Bastardo, and the $7.5 mil of Josh Harrison.

      With that $36 mil freed up for 2017, the Pirates can pay Cole $7.5 – $10 mil in Arbitration, and sign Ivan Nova and a solid RP/Closer. Then the FO and the field management group need to figure out what they want to do in 2017 and stick to the script.

      We have hitting talent, but we need somebody as a hitting coach who can elevate those natural skills. We need better contact throughout the whole lineup and our hitters need to know they are team players who have a job to do when they get to the plate. They need to practice situational hitting from day one of ST.

      • Absolutely agree with all you said, plus I add that the Pirates have added to their payroll the last 4 years. They have slightly gone up each year and next year shouldn’t be any different. How they spend it, will be the question. I see 3 starters in stone, plus 2 intriguing options, Brault and Duncan, plus outside chance Glasnow is ready. I fear they make the same mistakes they made this year. Rely on what they have and spend it on bullpen and bench options instead. I hope I am wrong about how they spend the extra money.

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