Winter Leagues: Starling Marte’s Winter Plans

In the Dominican on Friday night, Starling Marte joined his winter team for their pregame practice and later told reporters that he plans to play this winter to make up for lost games during the season. Marte played five seasons of winter ball early in his career, but hasn’t played for Leones del Escogido since the 2013-14 off-season. He was suspended for 80 games this year due to a failed PED test, so it appears that the Pirates are willing to let him make up for that missed time.

Marte wouldn’t give a date that he expects to return, but practicing with his team might mean that he expects to be back soon. He might just be waiting for the Pirates to give him permission to start playing. Both Jose Osuna and Elias Diaz are waiting to receive permission from the Pirates to play this winter, which is common for players on the 40-man roster.

In Saturday’s action, Jung-Ho Kang picked up his first hit since Opening Day. He went 1-for-4 with a single and a strikeout on Saturday. He is 2-for-21 through six games.

Edwin Espinal made his second start and went 1-for-3 with a single, which is the same line he put up in his first game.

In Venezuela, Elvis Escobar went 3-for-5 with three singles, a walk and a run scored. He is batting .375 through ten games and has reached base safely in every game.

In Mexico on Friday night, Carlos Munoz went 0-for-4 in a late ending game. He bounced back on Saturday, going 3-for-3 with three singles and a walk, driving in two runs. He is batting .353 through ten games.

  • I often try to be as positive as I can
    on this site, but this article has some
    things that concern me.

    1) Should we be letting anyone play in
    Venezuela let along some top prospects?
    Its really dangerous there right now and
    its just kept of our TV’s because we are
    too concerned with other areas in the world.

    2) Marte, playing back home. Sorry, but
    I see to many negative possibilities
    here, but I know the Pirates know more than me.

    • Right now it’s just Elvis Escobar playing in Venezuela and he would be there anyway because that’s where he lives.

  • On another note, really happy for Charlie Morton. Great year and a great game. Astros really had a gameplan to maximize his talent and adjusted his pitch mix accordingly. Pirates are so behind the times as far as how to attack hitters in 2017.

    • Guess Morton had to change teams to get fixed as a pitcher. He was never this good for the Pirates. Glad he turned his career around. What happened to the Pirates? At one time they were the pitching clinic now they can not even get Glasnow to throw a strike.

      • Morton, pitched very well. Kept the ball down,
        threw some nasty curves, threw some good
        change ups, and kept them honest with a
        couple off well placed high tight fast balls.

        His defense did a nice job as well.

      • Revisionist history. Morton pitched many a great game as a Pirate, including a would be series clinching playoff game. The problem with Charlie then and now is consistency.

        Go ahead and choose to believe the Astros have unlocked some magical ability in him, but you’d be wrong about that, too.

        • Could the magic ability be in the form of an injection? I know I never saw him pitch 99/100 mph as a Pirate but he did this year as an Astro.

        • Wrong… Morton never had a year approaching as good as he was with the Astros this year. The Astros turned him into a strikeout pitcher and his K-B%% rose to 18% which is in the upper echelon of starting pitchers as opposed to being in the mediocre 10-12% range when the Pirates were intent on making him a PITCH TO CONTACT pitcher.

          His pitch mix has changed and he’s not just pounding his sinker at the bottom of the zone which was always a welcome site by left handed hitters.

          The swinging strike rate on his 4 seamer was up dramatically to 12% when it hovered around 6% with the Pirates.

          3.3 fWAR- DOUBLE anything he ever did with the Pirates. But yeah, Astros deserve no credit for this major surge in productivity.

          • I know this shouldn’t surprise me, but it’s striking how little baseball outside of the Pittsburgh Pirates most folks on this board pay attention to.

            Jim Benedict still absolutely deserves credit for Morton’s 2011 transformation, full stop. But it’s also exceedingly obvious that the same ole gameplan had run its course. This new version of Morton is one that is clearly an improvement, and for that the Astros deserve credit.

            • It’s unbelievable to me. I mean Morton was a guy who you had a few years where you would literally count how many lefties the other team had on their roster before a game and he flat out dominated left handed batters this year.

              On a semi-related note, I’m curious if anyone knows the last time the Pirates FO or organization actually articulated their “make something happen in 3 pitches or less” which people seemed so enamored with. I can’t imagine the Pirates FO isn’t aware how foolish this strategy is today but maybe I’m wrong.

    • You can’t even make a compliment about another player on a different team without unleashing a zinger at the Pirates. No wonder this site is losing readers with the unceasing cheap shots being delivered by “fans” like you.

      • LOL. Scott, the primary reason this site or anything with Pirate related content is losing readers is precisely because of the man you have spent so much time defending… Neal Huntington.

        If this organization could keep up with it’s competition in terms of developing young talent to supplement a quality MLB product I can assure you people wouldn’t be leaving.

  • What does Marte have to gain by playing in the Dominican leagues? He says he’s making up the lost games — does that have any validity? Why not just take the off season off? Work on something else and save the wear/tear on the body?

    • Marte wants to play winter ball every year, so whatever helps his case to play is fine by him.

      • Thanks. What’s the attraction for him to play in this league? Maybe its just fun. I’m just curious.

        • He likes representing his home country. He also was well liked in the Dominican before he made the majors, so it has those attached feelings of being treated as a star for the first time. I also believe this year is more personal due to the suspension. I think he feels like he owes them too, sort of like an apology tour. All of that, plus the missed time adds up to a strong desire to play this season.

  • Ho-hum on them all.

    Marte should betraded, along with Polanco but who trusts NH to get from another team(s) what they may be worth??

    I don’t

  • I hope Marte does well this off-season because he may be somebody the Pirates may be willing to trade if they are able to work something out with ‘Cutch. Kang continuing to struggle is not positive. Lots of balls in the air.