BRADENTON, Fla. – This week saw Tyler Glasnow struggle with his command against the Dominican Republic World Baseball Classic team. That team is pretty much an All-Star team, but you’d still like to see Glasnow have better results in the command department.

I was very critical of Glasnow last year, saying that he wasn’t ready for the big leagues due to his command issues and lack of a changeup. He is working on fixing the command with some delivery adjustments this spring, and is also working on a new grip for his changeup, which helps more to bail him out from the control issues.

I’m much more encouraged by Glasnow’s progress and his chances to reach his upside at this point than I was last year. His development and approach this spring is a good thing to see. That said, I’m not sure he will be ready for the majors by Opening Day, as we’re seeing right now. There’s also no need to rush him, since there are other options currently in camp who could be just as good as Glasnow without the fixes.

There’s no question that Glasnow has a higher upside than Drew Hutchison, Steven Brault, or Trevor Williams. There’s even the chance that he could be better than Ivan Nova this year. But I do think he will need some time in Triple-A at the start of the year to get comfortable with the new mechanics and the changeup.

I think everyone would love for Glasnow to have his upside right away, but there needs to be a separation between what you hope to see from Glasnow, and what is actually realistic. The hope for what he could be is pretty much the same as last year. The good thing is that the realistic expectation has changed. He didn’t look like he would be ready at all last year, and didn’t have a great debut in his brief time in the majors. This year he looks like he could be ready — but maybe not right away.

A Need For Angel Pagan?

There was a rumor yesterday that the Pirates were one of many teams who made an offer for Angel Pagan. It’s not a surprise that teams are interested in him. He’s coming off a 2.1 fWAR year, and has posted a 1.4 fWAR or better in three of the last four years as a bench player. The Pirates don’t have a true fourth outfielder right now, instead relying on super utility players to fill that role.

Clint Hurdle said the team is fine with this approach, and that they have more prospect depth this year than ever, which led to fewer veteran NRIs and more prospects in camp. Between guys like Adam Frazier, Alen Hanson, Josh Harrison, and even minor league guys like Jose Osuna, the Pirates should have some good options for the outfield. They also have top prospect Austin Meadows waiting in the wings. But as we saw last year, it can’t hurt to have a veteran in the clubhouse who could still be productive.

The Pirates had a lot go wrong in 2016, but it could have been a lot worse if it wasn’t for the performances of Sean Rodriguez, David Freese, and Matt Joyce off the bench. They had that depth, and still had to turn to Adam Frazier for a good amount of at-bats.

Pagan would be a nice luxury, giving the Pirates some additional depth and experience, which is a nice thing to have. But the Pirates have enough depth that he wouldn’t be a need.

Other Notes

**Edwin Espinal had a walk-off home run yesterday, giving the Pirates a 4-1 win over the Rays. Espinal was over as a filler from minor league camp. He’s a guy who has a shot to make the majors one day, although a lot needs to go right, including applying his power more consistently in games. Espinal is a big guy, although not as big as he once was. When he entered the system, he was a third baseman who had the nickname “Tank”. He’s still a big guy, but has slimmed down, including over the last offseason. He now has the nickname “Papi”, and is a very popular player in the clubhouse. The McKechnie clubhouse was filled with bro hugs and “Hey Papi!” greetings when he came over from Pirate City yesterday morning, with most of the greetings coming from guys who played with him in the minors.

**Casey Sadler said that he expects to pitch in a game this weekend. That could come tomorrow afternoon.

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  1. I’ve heard his velocity is down. Is this because of mechanical adjustments to increase command?

  2. I got to see Glasnow throw a bullpen last week when I was down there and he pitched. He had a great session. He was down and around the plate the entire time. He broke off a few breaking pitches on the black that were some of the most evil pitches I’ve ever seen. Of course it was only a bullpen and it didn’t entirely translate to his outing but just seeing how consistent his control can be at times was an encouraging sign.

  3. I find referencing signing someone such as Pagan as a “luxury” pretty comical. Let’s say Marte gets dinged on hand in WBC or late in camp and has to miss meaningful time in center. Your options are to move Cutch back to center(where he was horrible last year) and then plug someone like Frazier in right field? Osuna? Hanson(are you fricking kidding me)? Josh Harrison is a very poor outfielder and shouldn’t be seeing anytime there more than a few innings)). And with Kang not likely to start season with the Pirates you have Freese starting at 3b(should be on bench) and the depth taking yet another tumble in the infield. An infield with Freese, Mercer, Jhay and Bell has to project as one of the weakest in MLB. And I bring that up because the best next in line as far as depth would be Frazier and he would probably be the first choice to fill in the outfield.

    • Pagan would be a fine addition to the bench but as a probable stopgap to Meadows I wouldn’t want Pagan for more than 2.5 Mil. 3-4 mil for him would be a disaster. 1.4 WAR last 4 years. He did have an awful 2015 that brings that down but he is 35. The only other options besides a trade if you need a stopgap for a few months is get a dirt cheap Francoeur and hope he cruses lefties for a month or two. Nolan Reimold is still out there too I think. He and Francoeur are basically the same guy almost. Not good but vets that have had success. Francoeur is probably highly motivated. One more full season and he hits his 10 years of service time.

      • Any of those guys would be fine. Problem is none of them can play left or center in PNC effectively. Pagan can.

        • I was gung ho for getting Pagan at first but then I was looking at some of is DWAR and range numbers and he is definitely on the decline as a viable CF. He will be 36 this summer. I think I would rather see them use Bell a little or Jaso in right if Cutch would get hurt. Or use Harrison out there or Frazier. If Gosselin continues to play like he has for his first 500 PA I think he would free up Harrsion to play out there occasionally.

          • Well Noone wants Pagan playing Centerfield full time, but we want someone that is competent out there. Cutch is competent for example, just not good. Pagan playing centerfield for a game or two without having to move cutch and polanco around when Marte needs a day off is probably better, likewise if someone is hurt I’d rather have Pagan out in left or center rather than peacemealing random guys out in right that can barely play outfield and having chaos everyday trying to put together a decent lineup. The less moving parts on a day to day basis, the better. Players aren’t robots. Baseball players like roles and they like routines.

            • I like Pagan if he is inexpensive. I think if I was him I’d want to go somewhere I know I would play more. He doesn’t have to be a bench player quite yet I don’t think. He has the potential to get very few AB with the Pirates. He’s made 50 mil and won two championships. He’s got 1 year before he hits 10 years of service. So it’s really up to him what he wants to do. He’d be a nice professional leadership and winning player type of fit if he came cheap.

        • …but you are right…they could use another guy that could play cf…unless they think Polanco can play decently out there.

    • This is actually a very interesting debate topic. If any of the starting OF is hurt bad enough for a DL stint before start of season, it would make sense to sign Pagan for sure. After the season begins, Pirates could turn to Meadows as stop gap and send him back down when injured player returns to prevent Super 2.

      • If they needed Meadows for a short enough time that they could still avoid Super 2 that might work. But Meadows doesn’t have many Triple A at bats under his belt.

        But to think this team has adequate depth in the form of Frazier, Hanson!, Osuna, Harrison for more than a spot start is laughable to me.

        • You have a very valid point. Trading away Broxton, Polo, Ramirez, et al have diminished depth for sure.

          • I agree Scott. NH has pretty good track record but has made some stupid trades in the last 12-18 months.

            • I wouldn’t go that far personally. My personal belief is Pirates FO believes they can acquire a OF equal to those dealt away rather easily if necessary.

              I also don’t think Meadows lack of AAA PA’s is a big deal. He’ll likely face a tough transition to a certain degree no matter how much time he spends in Indy.

      • Pagan isn’t out there begging for a job, keep this in mind. He just didn’t get an offer good enough to sign. He isn’t going to be just sitting around waiting for a phone call. He’s not in Justin Morneau category.

        • Very true. Waiting for right team/money, which is more likely than not going to happen before season starts.

          • So he’ll probably just take the best offer, and he isn’t going to have to take the Pirates deal cause I doubt ours is the best. (I could be wrong of course)

    • This has been my argument all along. It’s the same exact argument about not having a capable defensive shortstop. One injury and you have nothing. Nothing ready in Indy- nothing capable for more than a couple games in the majors. It’s a disaster waiting to happen.

    • Ha, absolutely.

      Spring Training is the only time of the year where one is comfortable calling a handful of infielders who can fake it with an outfielder’s mitt “good” options and an actual, competent Major League outfielder a “luxury”.

      We’re all optimistic in Spring Training!

  4. Andrew McCutchen benched for the USA W BC baseball team that says quite a bit especially since it’s Jim Leyland coaching

    • He got the start with the lefty Quintana pitching. Yelich gets the start with the righty Volquez on the mound. I don’t think it says anything more than Leyland is playing the numbers.

      • It says he’s fall on the long way from being an MVP because I’m pretty sure you don’t bench and MVP

          • It’s all a dog and pony show and these guys are still getting sharp so I’m sure there is some edict laid down beforehand that if a team is gonna send their marquee players they better be getting some playing time instead of sitting when they could be in ST games…at least with team USA.

  5. We will see if Glasnow actually becomes a pitcher this year. No problem with holding him and developing him further in AAA. with Tallion and healthy Cole and Nova, three good pitchers that are the core of the staff.

    • I believe he already accumulated a good bit of service time last year while on the DL so that date would either have to be much later or count his clock as started.

      • It is very much so relevant. Glasnow can join the big league club anytime between now and mid June and become a free agent after the 2022 season with arbitration starting after the 2019 season. If he doesn’t join the club til after mid June sometime he would become a free agent after the 2023 season but would still start arbitration after the 2019 season as he would qualify for super 2. Waiting til late August or so he would become a free agent after the 2023 season and would start arbitration after the 2020 season.

    • Usually, the goal is to keep a player down about 65 days to avoid Super Two. However, Glasnow spent 66 days in the majors in 2016. So to avoid Super Two ‘again’ he would have to stay in AAA for about 131 days – or until mid-August.

      • If they keep his service time this year to 105 days, he’ll be @ 171 total and they’ll get another year of control. That’s probably more relevant than super 2 at this point.

        • Much more relative in the grand scheme of things. He cannot reach his potential as a SP until he has developed the consistency of commanding 3 pitches. I think he understands that more this year – just needs the time away from the spotlight to perfect what he already has. I hope the next time up for TG is the last for at least 6 years!

  6. Fun watching Espinal wearing uniform #79 hit the walk off. If you’re wearing #79 and you’re not an offensive lineman, you can bet you’re a ways down the depth chart.

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