The Pittsburgh Pirates announced on Friday morning that they have optioned reliever A.J. Schugel to Indianapolis. That move leaves the active Spring Training roster at 30, with Opening Day now three days away.

Schugel pitched well for the Pirates as a rookie in 2016, posting a 3.63 ERA, with a 1.04 WHIP, 46 strikeouts and a .216 BAA in 52 innings over 36 appearances. He struggled a little in Spring Training over ten appearances, with a 4.66 ERA and a 1.86 WHIP in 9.2 outings. The 27-year-old righty should be one of the first pitchers up if the bullpen needs help in Pittsburgh. Of the current group slated for the Indianapolis bullpen, he is the only one with recent Major League success.

Here are the current 30 players left in camp:

Pitchers
Gerrit Cole
Jameson Taillon
Ivan Nova
Chad Kuhl
Tyler Glasnow
Trevor Williams

Tony Watson
Daniel Hudson
Juan Nicasio
Felipe Rivero
Antonio Bastardo
Tyler Webb
Wade LeBlanc
Catchers
Francisco Cervelli
Chris Stewart
Jackson Williams
Jacob Stallings
Infielders
Josh Bell
Josh Harrison
Jordy Mercer
David Freese
John Jaso
Adam Frazier
Alen Hanson
Phil Gosselin
Outfielders 
Andrew McCutchen
Starling Marte
Gregory Polanco
Jose Osuna
Daniel Ortiz
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64 COMMENTS

  1. They got rid of Hughes and sent Hutch down (which I thought would never happen given the recent incompetent loyalty the Pirates have shown towards dirt pitchers recently), I was really hoping they would finish the job by trading or cutting Bastardo as opposed to Shu being sent down. I guess a man can only hope for so much.

  2. I really don’t like this move. Shu was one of the most reliable long men out of the pen last year. He picked up our shit-box rotation many times last year. I guess it’s a numbers game. I hope he doesn’t stay down for long, otherwise I will again have to question the judgement of Pirates management.

    • May I respectfully ask you a question?
      Does Schugel look like he is Amish?
      And he certainly can pitch.

  3. Wondering why you guys can’t seem to admit Williams won the 5th starter job. Glasnow needs more time at AAA, it’s rather obvious.

    • Because Glasnow has already dominated AAA and has little to learn there, and Williams is not a Major league starter???

      • Glasnow has a lot to learn at AAA, like holding runners on, not falling apart at the slightest sign of pressure, repeating his delivery, developing his new change-up, etc…

        Williams looks solid to me, I don’t know where you people are coming from that he can’t be a solid 4/5 starter in the Bigs. Oh, that’s right, he “only” throws in the low 90’s, with a good change and decent breaking ball. That must be it. Guys like that never make it…

  4. Guys I think the Pirates need to trim to get down to 25:

    Bastardo
    Stallings
    J. Williams
    Ortiz
    Jaso

    All of the above are pretty obvious choices, except Jaso. Jaso can really only play first base, and he is not particularly good there. His bat runs hot and cold, with marginal power and run production. Bell, Osuna, and Freese can all play first base.

    Now, what do I think will happen?

    The Pirates will do what the Pirates typically do – send down Osuna and Glasnow and keep Jaso and Bastardo. It will be a pleasant shock to me if that is not what they do. They always take the mediocre veteran, with a contract, over one of their prospects who has much greater upside. We will get the typical NH spin – Glasnow needs more time in AAA and Osuna hit great in Spring, but we’d rather him get consistent at bats at Indy – blah, blah, blah. Its the aim low, loser mentality….

    • Not that simple. Bastardo is owed $6.5M (less what the Mets are paying) and Jaso is owed $4M. That could exceed $10M. We’d all be gripping about paying out 10% of the payroll towards these 2 guys.

        • That’s a complicated question because we traded Tabata for Morse the year before. The trade was arranged so that we were paying Morse the same amount we would have paid Tabata in 2016. So we already knew that was sunk money.

    • I don’t really think Osuna is an upgrade over Jaso. He hit for the roughly the same OPS in the minors last year that Jaso did in the majors. Jaso was pretty much dead-on for his career numbers, so it’s not like that’s not repeatable. He had a higher OPS off righties than Cutch and Polanco. He’s also a good platoon option for Freese if there’s an injury or they trade Cutch and Bell plays RF.

      • Osuna’s only advantage is in the fact that Jaso’s useless against lefties and the bench lacks a good RH bat, but I agree, against RHP Jaso is clearly superior.

      • Alan, thank you for a very good evaluation.
        Then I would guess you are saying Osuna
        goes to Indy and is a decent quality backup
        in case of an injury or trade at least for this year.

        • Yep. Any injury or trade of a 1b/3b/corner OF and he’ll probably be up. Maybe even Opening Day if Polanco can’t go.

  5. Appears to me that Williams and Webb are the long men, Glasnow makes the rotation and LeBlanc is the odd man out….LeBlanc is on a non-guaranteed contract.

    They can’t in good faith go with 5 lefties in the pen, hell 4 is a stretch

  6. My a little bit radical roster. Why wait, lets move on. Lets go for it!
    Pitchers
    Gerrit Cole
    Jameson Taillon
    Ivan Nova
    Chad Kuhl
    Tyler Glasnow
    Trevor Williams
    Tony Watson
    Daniel Hudson
    Juan Nicasio
    Felipe Rivero
    Tyler Webb
    Wade LeBlanc
    Catchers
    Francisco Cervelli
    Chris Stewart – DL
    Elias Diaz
    Infielders
    Josh Bell
    Josh Harrison
    Jordy Mercer
    David Freese
    Adam Frazier
    Phil Gosselin
    Jose Osuna
    Outfielders
    Andrew McCutchen
    Starling Marte
    Gregory Polanco
    Alen Hanson

    • I would be okay with this, though I hope Jaso is traded in this scenario and not just simply released.

      If we can’t get something for him, I’d rather him be on the team.

      I see that Bastardo is gone from your roster as well, but it will be more difficult to find a team willing to trade for him.

      • Jaso isn’t getting released. He may not set the world on fire but he is not so bad he needs released I also highly doubt they trade him.

  7. Since they don’t use the 5th starter very much in the first month, I wouldn’t be surprised if Glasnow is sent down to get some regular work, Williams is the 5th starter (for now) and they try to unload one or two of the surplus lefties.

  8. It looks like the bullpen is finished at this point. It also looks like the final spot is between osuna or gosselin. (outside of the #5 starting pitcher comp.)

  9. Very interested to see how this shakes out.

    My guess is that Ortiz, Gosselin, Stallings and J. Williams go out. If we narrow the list that way, we’ve got a lot of interesting players going north.

    Does LeBlanc have an option?
    Could Bastardo be traveling elsewhere?

    A.J. Shugel did a good job last season. The cuts are getting substantive.

    Does Polanco make it with his shoulder? Osuna is a good first baseman and outfielder and can flat out hit. With Bell coming along late, I think he’ll be fine over time, but is there a place for Osuna in left and first for a while?

    Is Jaso the odd man out? Some how I doubt this. Hurdle loves his vets.

    The Bucs have something like seven guys who can play outfield and infield positions, making them extremely flexible right now.

    I wonder if there are 5 guys who have options left that the Bucs could keep everyone…

    Fun times.
    ————————————-

    “She may not be very pretty now, but she was someone’s baby once.”
    -Wabbit

    • If I recall correctly, LeBlanc doesn’t have any options left. So, I think he makes the team or else the Pirates risk losing him.

      If we don’t want too many lefties in the pen, I’d rather jettison Bastardo (and even Watson if we can find a trade partner) than part with Rivero (no chance), LeBlanc or Webb.

    • Of our three utility types:

      Gosselin would seem to be the best defender at SS.
      Frazier is the best hitter.
      Hanson has best upside and no options left.

      I think all 3 make it, Osuna odd man out for now.

  10. Seems that two of the catchers (Stewart to the DL?) will go.
    Ortiz will go.
    I’d like to see Glasnow and Bell go down to start the season with Bell getting some ab’s and Glasnow getting starts until he’s needed in mid April.

    • Yeah, assuming that Stewart is healthy, I think we can safely trim this roster to 27 by removing J. Williams, Stallings and Ortiz from consideration.

      I like Osuna (don’t we all?), but I’d rather him start the year as Indy’s starting first baseman than be a pinch hitter seeing spotty playing time in Pittsburgh.

      • If Osuna can get 250-300 AB’s by being one of the IF/OF Utility Players, then I would rather have him with the Pirates. Jaso has value on the trade market, LeBlanc or Webb – Webb is 6 years younger and has the multiple innings thing going – I choose Webb. That leaves us with Harrison, Freese, Hanson, Gosselin, and Frazier. Freese is a must; Harrison, Hanson, and Frazier all play IF and OF. Gosselin is the odd man out.

        Last year we were all about On Base Percentage, W/K, putting the ball in play, etc, so we brought in limited defensive vets like Jaso and Joyce. This year we bring in Gosselin and Ortiz who have more defense, but have had issues with strikeouts. Nothing changed in ST with Gosselin 1 Walk/10 K’s; Ortiz 1 Walk/11 K’s. The overall message is confusing.

      • Again, as I said a few days ago……Osuna is going to be a bench player in the majors…..he might as well get used to it now versus later. I don’t know how additional AB’s in Indy is going to help him at this point unless you think it’ll help his defense.

        • Excellent point, and his defense is at least as good at 1B as we can get from Jaso and Gosselin. Last year between AA and AAA he was about .988; in 2015 in about 40 games he was .995.

          He exhibited a RH power bat and the Pirates cannot afford to not see how far he can take that. Our other 2016 RH power – ‘Cutch 24 in 598 AB, Freese 13 in 437 AB, Mercer 11 in 519 AB, Marte 9 in 489 AB, Harrison 4 in 487 AB, and Cervelli 1 in 326 AB.

      • I know from your postings that you are very knowledgeable about
        this. Can you do a complete break down your comparison of Bell and Osuna?
        Is it close?

        • Well……..no, its not. Look at where they are on the prospect list. Bell has success at the MLB level, is younger, and has way more power (although most of it untapped. Bell isn’t fast, but Osuna is slow. Osuna is better at defense at this point, and is better from the right side of the plate which means he COULD be a decent platoon option especially if we could get rid of Jaso, but overall Bell is such a polished hitter that it would be like comparing Miguel Cabrera to Craig Wilson (after his good year off the bench)

  11. Well this would seem to indicate that either Williams is making the team as a long reliever or they are going with 5 lefties to start off with.

    • I think Williams will make the team. The delay could very well be waiting for other teams to identify their needs, and identifying trade possibilities. The Pirates are not the only team with players/pitchers they do not need or want to retain.

    • I think it’s all but a certainty Williams makes OD roster, and likely as the long man in the pen.

      • So you think they’ll send Webb back to the yanks and keep Williams as a long man? Not really sure that makes sense, but its certainly possible.

          • I think that’s overly simplistic. Here are the wOBA against for 2014-2016 for the pen (and OPS against in minors for Webb):

            LeBlanc .283 v. LHB, .317 v. RHB
            Watson .244 / .274
            Hudson .305 / .319
            Nicasio .395 / .305
            Rivero .286 / .267
            Bastardo .291 / .284

            Webb .599 / .686

            Both Rivero and Bastardo have lower wOBA against vs. RHB than LHB. And Watson is the closer so he is facing all comers anyway.

            So you are only talking about Webb and LeBlanc who you wouldn’t want facing RHB. That’s not really different than a typical bullpen.

        • I agree that it seems that TW will be in the pen, but I don’t get it, he has proven to be a useful starter, makes more sense to send him down to Indy.

          • I guess he’ll be the long man barring injury until probably about mid-may, then at some point he might get sent down if he isn’t needed and replaced by an actual reliever like schubel. For now keeping him stretched out as a long man early in the year makes sense since pitchers are still not fully ready to pitch 6 innings

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