The Pittsburgh Pirates trimmed down the active Spring Training roster on Monday morning. Pat Light was optioned to Indianapolis, while Jared Lakind, Casey Sadler and Angel Sanchez were reassigned to minor league camp. The active roster is now at 47 players with exactly two weeks to go before Opening Day.

All four pitchers cut today should end up in the bullpen for Indianapolis this season, with a chance to get to Pittsburgh at some point during the season. Light would be the top candidate from the group at this point, since he is the only one to pitch in the majors last year and he’s the one on the 40-man roster. He had decent stats during the spring in five appearances, allowing two runs over 4.2 innings. He was mostly pitching to minor leaguers at the end of the game, but Light has had control issues in the past and he issued just one walk this spring, so that’s a good sign in a small sample size.

Both Sadler and Sanchez are near the end of their Tommy John surgery rehab process. Neither expects to be ready for Opening Day, but they aren’t far behind. Both should end with Indianapolis, though they could make stops in Bradenton and/or Altoona on the way up. They have each made one inning appearances during Spring Training recently and expect to be stretched out for more during the season. It’s not out of the question that either could make some starts later in the season, but don’t expect to see either in the majors until September (if they make it) due to the depth ahead of them.

Lakind could possibly open back up at Altoona due to the amount of pitchers already slated for Indianapolis. The 25-year-old lefty is one of the best relief prospects in the system, falling behind Edgar Santana and Dovydas Neverauskas at the top of that group, and just behind Pat Light at this time. Lakind is the best left-handed relief prospect, so that should help him at this point, though he could be passed up for that spot if Cody Dickson moves to the bullpen.

Lakind was an All-Star for Altoona in 2016 and he pitched for Israel in the World Baseball Classic qualifiers in September and the WBC second round last week. For the Pirates this spring, he allowed one run in 4.1 innings over four appearances. That doesn’t include the game he pitched against the Pirates during the Dominican Republic exhibition game. He gave up two runs in his only inning that day, though he did strikeout three batters. He is another who probably won’t be an option for Pittsburgh before September. Lakind was re-signed this off-season as a minor league free agent, so the Pirates will face a decision with him at the end of the year. They will either add him to the 40-man roster or trying to bring him back again on a minor league deal if he hasn’t reached that point.

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58 COMMENTS

  1. Dating back to Last June 1, Mercer has hit 13 HR in 360 or so AB. Counting this spring. Useless stat of day but it is interesting to me that he seemingly has found the power stroke that a guy his size could be capable of. 15 HR from him would be a huge bonus.

    • Power from Mercer would be a real plus, but if he could figure out RHP that would be a bigger plus. I would like to see him open his stance against RHP.

    • Amen!

      Jordy was the first Pirate I thought of this winter reading all these articles about the fly ball revolution. A guy with his size, lack of speed, and position in the batting order shouldn’t be putting the ball on the ground almost 50% of the time.

      That being said, Statcast just doesn’t show him hitting the ball very hard, at all. By total exit velo and FB/LD exit velo he ranks somewhere in the 30th percentile over the past two years and his HR/FB rate is well below average as well.

      I still don’t think fly outs would be worse than ground outs when a few of the former type of contact will inevitably clear the fence unlike none of the latter, but I don’t know how much power there really is to squeeze out.

      Starling Marte, on the other hand, is criminally underdeveloped. With a FB/LD exit velo around 94 mph over the last two years, he’s a superstar if somebody ever teaches him to put the ball in the air.

      • Yeah, I’m happy to see Mercer keep hitting 10-12 but don’t want to see any more 8 or less years. Marte, even if he doesn’t become a 20+ guy you’d like to see some 40+ double seasons paired with his 5-10 triples…then 10-15 HR wouldn’t be such a letdown. This is a guy that has the potential to put himself on second base or better 100+ times or more in a season.

  2. Why would Lakind be considered below Light in the relief pitching prospect pecking order? Lakind was a AA all-star last year – what has Light done recently?

      • Lakind is interesting because he throws baseballs with his left hand and has an interesting story, but not all that much else.

        • Really, his results in AA were certainly noteworthy and he just switched to pitching 3-4 years ago…I think he’s more than a story, but time will tell….

        • I hear you….I’m certainly rooting for the guy, being a failed 1b prospect to a pitcher that is having some success in Altoona’s pen.

      • I care more about results than stuff….stuff doesn’t always produce positive results – and apparently Light has been that kind of pitcher to have been let go after being a first round pick not long ago.

        For the Pirates sake, I hope they can turn him around, but I won’t hold my breath – we’ve had a lot of AAAA pitchers in recent season that were former first round picks and supposedly had great stuff….most were gone within a year…

        • There’s nothing *supposedly* about throwing a baseball 100 mph and good/great stuff.

          You do understand that doing OK in AA doesn’t translate to being a successful major league baseball player. Guys like lakind have a razor thin margin for error.

          Every team takes fliers on guys like Light, Pirates have in the past made guys like him semi-useful. Holdzkolm comes to mind and to a lesser degree Caminero, but to you point they’ve had guys like Liz that have flopped. I think the Pirates consult with Searage and others to see if they can identify an area they can improve from watching tape.

        • Jared Lakind posted a 2.59 ERA/3.34 FIP last year, in AA.
          Pat Light posted a 2.32 ERA/2.91 FIP last year, in AAA.

          #results

  3. Any odds on Webb breaking camp with the big club?

    How long are the leashes for Watson, Hughes and Bastardo?

  4. Maybe a question for Tim and John in this same drift.

    It seems that the Pirates, now, do not have the kind of players
    who by the time they get to Pittsburgh in general are not
    closing up the bars on the south side (etc)..

    Is there something special they do that they just seem
    to get quality people as well as quality players?

  5. I am worried that a couple of our bullpen arms that
    have been with us for a couple of years have ” tired arms.”
    (You can fill in the names.) Have we used them too much?
    Can they recover?
    =
    Sad part is, I understand they are good quality people.

    Another general comment:

    Isn’t it nice to know that in general, the Pirates are a team
    you can root for and they are also quality people who in
    general are positive contributors in the community.
    That’s one of the reasons I like the Pirates so much!

    • Why six years of control for Felipe Rivero is largely meaningless. Maybe 5% likelihood of any reliver being both healthy and productive for that duration of time.

      • It is very meaningful. They have him for 6 years, so if he misses time with an injury they still have him locked down for that amount of time. If they bring in a guy for a year or 2 and he misses significant time they lose that asset and get nothing out of him. Whereas Rivero still has a few years to provide value to the club.

        • They have him for 5 years (including 2017) not 6. And he is Super2 so he will enter Arb1 after this season which mean if he is good(which we all assume he is going to be) he will start getting expensive pretty quickly. If he is as good as people think he will be we are probably looking at 4 years of control before he is mighty expensive(obviously huge assumption that he IS that good)

          • 6 years was the amount of time they’d have him for at the time of the trade. Could have worded that differently in my original post. But what you are saying is drastically changing the discussion. His salary is not relevant to a discussion on health and productivity of the player. Might he get flipped when he gets expensive? Sure. But that is a separate topic.

            Edit: Also, if he gets hurt during the early stages of his contract, that will likely suppress his compensation in later years.

            • Fair point. I expect Rivero to be a very valuable piece going forward and thought NH did a good job in that trade getting him and Hearn. Was just pointing out that in many cases Pirates really don’t have 6 years of control as the last year can be very expensive for a good player. But as you said, that is a separate topic than what you are discussing.

            • “His salary is not relevant to a discussion on health and productivity of the player.”

              Absolutely it is. Compounding risk and increasing salary is not a good combination.

          • Unless something would suddenly change with how arbitration works Rivero might not get “mighty” expensive since he won’t have the saves which is what gets relievers paid.

          • Relievers dont make much money in arbitration unless they have a bunch of saves on their resume. Given Watson is in line to close at least half a year then potentially be dealt at the deadline and that Hudson has incentives in his contract based on games finished, then assuming all goes according to plan (big if, I know) Rivero likely wont start getting a whole bunch of saves until maybe the middle of next season which would limit his earnings through arbitration at least the first two times through.

        • Or they have a guy for two years and he gets hurt or fails in year three and it’s no harm to the Pirates as opposed to costing them millions in lost time and/or poor performance.

          See how anecdotal arguments aren’t very persuasive?

          The longer a team has control over a reliever the higher the cumulative risk of failure, therefor additional years of control have increasingly depreciating value. Years of control are obviously nice, but the actual number once it gets that high belies the probable value behind it.

          • You seem to be overlooking the fact that if he hurts and/or doesn’t perform, they can simply nontender him. If he gets hurt early in his contract, his salary isn’t going to escalate nearly as much as if he is performing well and healthy. In which case his salary is still going to be reasonable, with the chance of him performing better at a lower rate toward the end of his contract. If he gets hurt late in his contract, he’s nontendered.

            • You seem to be overlooking the fact that if he gets hurt and/or doesn’t perform *that adds no actual value to the Pirates*.

              • How is that any different than, say, Jameson Taillon? Or Tyler Glasnow when he gets to the bigs? Or any player really. Any player adds no actual value to the Pirates if they are hurt.

                Like normal, you are being argumentative just to be argumentative.

                • Because hard-throwing relievers are the riskiest asset in the game. If you’re not factoring the likelihood of those six years being utilized, you’re missing a major part of the valuation.

                  Listen man, you picked this argument with me. Maybe you think my use of “fairly meaningless” was too strong. That’s fair! I could’ve been softer, or better expressed that I meant the specific number of years once it got that high.

                  But to counterpoint me with hand-picked anecdotes in lieu of an actual logical argument and then get frustrated and claim *I’m* the one arguing just to argue? That phrase doesn’t mean what you think it means.

                  • I get your argument, effectively an NPV argument, that the out years contribute incrementally less to his value because of increasing salary, increasing likelihood of injury, and a win today is more valuable than a win tomorrow (from an organization’s perspective). However, “fairly meaningless” is too strong and your argument can be made for any player. Rivero is one of the bullpen pieces we have to feel good about, among a bullpen with some question marks. I have to hope that the organizational pitching depth helps, and they have a short leash on relievers that struggle early. Also, hoping they get away from this set bullpen role of someone has to pitch the 6th, someone has to pitch the 7th, etc….and they go with the hot hand in high leverage situations.

                    • I can accept you believe “fairly meaningless” is too strong, but my argument absolutely cannot be made “for any player”. At least not accurately.

                      Risk profiles vary greatly with position and age. My “same argument” can be made for any player in the same sense that one can argue we’re all going to die, but of course there’s much different risk of death for a 25 yr old with 5% body fat who doesn’t smoke than an overweight 50 yr old with heart disease.

                  • I think he’s just trying to figure out what everyone else who read this is trying to figure out. Are you actually arguing that because the Pirates have someone good under contract for a long period of time, that it’s a bad thing, because he might get hurt and might get expensive? Would you rather replace him with a terrible reliever who will always be cheap and no one cares if he gets hurt because he sucks? Your original point would have been fine that you can’t necessarily count on a reliever for all 6 years, but the subsequent comments made no sense.

                    Absolutely, hard-throwing relievers are risky. That’s why they traded Melancon’s 8-figure salary for Rivero’s rookie contract. Be happy!

                    • “Are you actually arguing that because the Pirates have someone good under contract for a long period of time, that it’s a bad thing…”

                      No, I’m arguing the length of time the Pirates have him belies the likely value they’ll get from that length. Be happy the Pirates have a LHRP with a 96 mph fastball and two plus secondaries. That’s really good! But don’t expect to get six years worth of that, because it’s extremely unlikely *any* reliever will provide that level of health and consistency.

                    • Agreed on that point. I still think it’s a relative thing, you rather have control of a guy for 5-6 of his rookie years than not. Not sure anyone locked him in as the definite closer in 2022, but I think it’s fair for someone to speak to the 6 years of control as a positive for the future of the bullpen compared to not having that guy or having him under contract for a shorter term.

  6. Anyone notice that every lefty not name Felipe got lit up the last few games. This bullpen could be great and could be a disaster.

    • Very difficult to see it being great without seeing 80th to 90th percentile performance from guys like Santana(who most likely won’t even make the club). I’ve felt for awhile Watson’s projections are looking quite dubious and continue to feel that way. He hasn’t been the same since about July 2015. Rivero has amazing stuff but there are many, many questions in this pen.

      • “Great” is simply a ridiculously high bar to set in today’s game when talking bullpens. The Pirates are miles away from “great”.

        • Could not agree more. I thought Tim’s article about how this bullpen very well could dominate for 2017 and beyond was a bit silly and I’m not feeling much different right now seeing that Watson and Hughes will be key cogs to start the year. I actually would be quite satisfied if this bullpen could merely be average or slightly above.

          • Yeah, I’m not wild about ledes with maybe a 10% chance of actually coming to fruition but I’ve learned long ago it’s not worth commenting on writing styles.

          • Considering Rivero, Santana, Neverauskas and some of the pitchers who are now starting depth who could be called up as long relief such as Brault or Williams it is hard to see how the Bucs are in trouble long term. Early in 2017 could be an issue if Watson doesn’t straighten out soon. Hopefully they can move Bastardo.

            • There’s a tonnnnn of space between “dominate” and “trouble”. No reason to side with either extreme, IMO.

        • I’d have to disagree here.

          I don’t think the Pirates have any top-tier talent in the bullpen…but…

          For me it all comes down to sample size. Over enough innings, pitchers will be exposed for what they are. But with each of these guys getting somewhere around just 60-70 innings, there’s always the chance enough of them could pitch over their skill level to make this bullpen look better than it is.

          Then again, with small sample sizes…they could all, just as easily, implode and look much worse than they really are

          Personally, I try to stay away from predicting bullpens…just too damned volatile…

          • By those standards, there are probably 20 teams who could claim to have potentially “great” bullpens.

            I think the designation loses meaning when the argument for a path to success is essentially “bullpens, shit happens!”. 😉

            • I wouldn’t disagree with there being a large number of teams who don’t have lights out arms could, potentially, have great bullpens.

              It seems to happen every year or so that some team seems to have everything with guys having great/career years…then the next season they regress to the mean.

  7. Light has a nasty splitter, hopefully they can harness his command. Have a feeling this bullpen is going to need reinforcements sooner rather than later. Although I assume Santana and Neverauskas would be next in line ahead of Light. A 2017 bullpen which chooses to give a lot of innings to Hughes and Watson could have major issues and need a lot of internal help.

    • don’t count out santana, hughes has an option and is fighting for a 25 man roster spot. also by july santana maybe our closer for the next 6 yrs.

      • I forget exactly how it works but I think Hughes has enuf service time that he can’t be optioned without his consent. He could declare free agency.

        • Hughes can be optioned before the season begins because he has one remaining and less than 5 years’ service time (barely). All he needs is 20 more days on the MLB roster and he cannot be optioned without consent.

          But honestly, has anyone heard or read anything from a credible source to indicate Hughes DOESN’T have a bullpen job locked up? Seems like this is all wishful thinking.

  8. Well English speaking people don’t say “anhel” Angel, though a Spanish name, is pronounced angel in English.

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