Pirates Discussion: Two Games in Chicago

The Pittsburgh Pirates dropped their first series after the All-Star break to the Miami Marlins, two games to one. They now head on a short road trip to Wrigley for two games against the Chicago Cubs.

The good news is that Mitch Keller had another strong showing, and Oneil Cruz provided a majestic homerun off of Sandy Alcantara.

The bad news is that the Pirates offense otherwise looked anemic for the majority of the game. The roster currently only has two players with an OPS at or above league average (.707), and those two are Ben Gamel with a .708 OPS and Jason Delay — through only 39 PA’s — with an .885 OPS.

The Cubs have a league average offense (14th), but their pitching is only a spot (25th) ahead of the Pirates (26th) for Team ERA.

There haven’t been many rumors surrounding the Pirates and potential trades, but I for one can’t wait until we get to the deadline so I can determine whether I’m going to watch many more Pirates games this year, or impatiently focus on FCL Pirates’ box scores for draft pick debuts.

Pirates @ Cubs

Time: 8:05 PM EST

Pirates Starter: JT Brubaker (2-8, 4.02)

Marlins Starter: Adrian Sampson (0-1, 3.34)

Brubaker Notes: JT Brubaker had arguably the best start of his career just before the All-Star break. He shutout the Marlins through seven innings while also fanning nine batters on July 13th. On Monday he’ll go up against a familiar name in Adrian Sampson.

LINEUPS:

Pirates

Cubs

1. Rafael Ortega (L) CF
2. Willson Contreras (R) C
3. Seiya Suzuki (R) RF
4. Ian Happ (S) LF
5. Nico Hoerner (R) SS
6. Patrick Wisdom (R) 3B
7. Frank Schwindel (R) DH
8. Alfonso Rivas (L) 1B
9. Christopher Morel (R) 2B

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redwards60

Since I am not a kool-aid drinker and am very candid about my criticism of the Pirates incompetence, anything positive that I post is overlooked.

So here it goes….

Since early June, Quintana, Brubaker, and Keller have all been very good with just a couple of bad starts. Keller is actually showing sustained improvement for the first time in his major league career. Hopefully he continues to pitch well. If the bullpen hasn’t blown so many games of late, they would have 5 or 6 more wins. The bad news is Quintana is almost guaranteed to be traded and I would not be shocked if Brubaker is dealt too. He has been their best starter for the past 2 months.

chappy

What happened to the team that was hitting all of those homeruns? Now we hit one, every fifth game.

redwards60

Suwinski was sent down so we can watch Marisnick and Allen instead…

mikeschalke

No he was sent down because he was 0 for his last 28 and it seemed obvious to most that he needs more development at AAA where he has never played.

TNBucs

I’m afraid we won’t see many HRs the rest of the season. Reynolds being back will help a little but with Vogelbach gone, Suwinski in AAA and continuing to struggle making consistent contact, Cruz and Mitchell adjusting to how major league pitchers will pitch them until they can lay off breaking pitches out of the zone, and no evidence that Shelton (who came with the reputation of having helped Twins’ hitters unlock their power potential) and Haines being able to help our batters adjust, I’m not optimistic. The flashes of power Yoshi showed last year and Chavis earlier this year seem like mirages.

Most of the wins we get will be low-scoring affairs where we pitch well, play clean defense, and happen to bunch our hits in an inning.

chappy

I was being a bit facetious, but you answer is correct. BC dismantled that club right quickly. I am fine with Vogelbach having been traded, but I would have preferred Suwinski have remained with the big club. Once Reynolds finds his swing again, that will help a bit. What I would really like to see is Hayes start driving the ball on occasion.

TNBucs

In an ideal Pirates’ world we’d have a hitting coach who would relish the chance to work with, and be effective helping, a guy like Suwinski at the major league level. I’m sure Haines liked the idea of working with him but with no evidence of progress, it’s probably for the best he was sent down.

emjayinTN

Suwinski has had 222 AB’s and has hit 14 HR or a HR for every 15.86 AB. I am sure the Pirates have had many rookie players come up from the minors and hit HR’s at that rate! Can anyone name one?

His K/W is just a smidge over 3/1 – is that bad? Not when you see veterans like Chavis with 77 K/13 BB or 6 /1, and he’s a regular on this team – 3rd on the team in AB at 258.

Wilbur Miller

Nice AB. Heineman didn’t see a single pitch in the strike zone.

Of course, if they had been in the zone, he’d have looked at them.

b mcferren

dude always runs hard out of the box

TNBucs

That has to be an error on Chavis, not Cruz.

skliesen

A 1B, a real 1B, would’ve caught that ball 100/100 times.

I’m sick of watching players play out of position because the GM doesn’t know how, or isn’t allowed, to construct a roster.

emjayinTN

A good 1B would have shuffled his feet to the OF side of 1B and caught the ball easily for the putout. His feet never moved. A lazy play by Chavis late in the game and Cruz and De Los Santos take the negative.

PirateRican21

There was a rumor a week or so ago that Arizona is looking to deal Christian Walker, I like Walker a lot! Good glove, big power right handed bat with at free agent after the 2025 season, this is a guy that wouldn’t required a big package, something like Triolo and Mitchell should be enough. I know it won’t happen, but I wish they would make a move like this.

Last edited 2 months ago by PirateRican21
skliesen

Makes too much sense. Hell, I’d rather have Martin up playing 1B and whiffing 50% of the time than watch Tsutsugo DH and Chavis/Van Meter play 1B.

b mcferren

overreaction

Chavis has saved Cruz’s ass with a good number of picks over the past few months

redwards60

Cruz has only been in Pittsburgh for less than 2 months…

skliesen

Has he made one, even one play, that an even mediocre 1B wouldn’t routinely make? Because he just whiffed on one that every 1B makes 100% of the time.

1B pick balls out of the dirt every night. They never let one go by in the air like Chavis did. Then again, Chavis isn’t a 1B on 29 other MLB teams.

docdon385

It looks like they gave it to Cruz but if that stands it has to be one of the worst scoring decisions in a while. Chavis didn’t even reach for the throw at all and simply whiffed on it. Ridiculous.

skliesen

Are you trying to sell us the error should be on Cruz?

Dude, you ain’t that good of salesman!

skliesen

It wasn’t a perfect throw. It may not even have been a good throw, but it certainly was a good enough throw to get the out.

E3 is the proper call. Only reason it wouldn’t be is because Cruz is a rookie with a reputation for a wild arm.

TNBucs

His glove got to the ball, he just didn’t catch it. Cruz didn’t make it easy on him, but he needs to handle a ball like that if he’s going to play 1B.

TNBucs

I just re-watched it a few times and it didn’t look like that tough of a play for Chavis–he was setup at 1B, didn’t need to fully stretch to reach the ball, and ball was not near the dirt. I’m with Brown, Young, and others who would charge the error to Chavis. Too bad they can’t split the error, though, because Cruz should have made a better throw.

chappy

Heineman is so quick out of his stance. Neither are stats, but I am completely satisfied with the current catching tandem for the time being.

phieralph

Heineman and Morel made contact there on the throw. Is there a possible batting interference with that? Batter can’t be in the way, right?

Wilbur Miller

Underwood for his career:

LH batters — .908 OPS
RH batters — .695

So of course Dumbo puts him in when two of the three mandatory batters he’ll face are LH.

But he was probably “scheduled” to pitch the 7th.

Last edited 2 months ago by Wilbur Miller
TNBucs

Brown keeps sounding surprised that Sampson is shutting us down but he’s a major league pitcher and with our offense there’s no reason to be surprised. Frustrated maybe, but not surprised.

tom2125

Damn our lineup sucks lol.

PirateRican21

A walk off inside the park grand slam??? That sounds super exciting especially if it was a close play at the plate!!!

Wilbur Miller

One thing we haven’t seen much with Pirates pitchers for a long time is a starter getting better as a game goes along. Brubaker’s gotten some breaks today, and some help from the Cubs, but he and Keller both seem to be breaking out of the pattern of being good for a while but then having things go totally south once any trouble arises.

Last edited 2 months ago by Wilbur Miller
roibert.kasperski

that was ugly but still an out. Thank goodness Brubaker almost caught that cause it froze the runner. Lucky that he A) didn’t hurt his knee or ankle planting his foot on the side of the mound and B) that the ball didn’t end up behind Cruz and out into shallow left field.

TNBucs

That’s baseball!

john_fluharty

Can we give the Cubs ball boy an error LOL

docdon385

Time for addition by subtraction. This would be a better team without VanMeter and Yoshi regardless of who replaced them. I might just have to find some other way to spend evenings if these guys aren’t gone after August 1st. Not only are the Pirates not winning, they’re boring.

Last edited 2 months ago by docdon385
b mcferren

Braves have a solid prospect in KyleMuller that I wouldn’t mind on our team

roibert.kasperski

Question of who screws up more will lose tonight. Whole lot of ugly baseball going on……

skliesen

This unfortunately is looking to be true.

bucsws2014

If Maddon was still managing, I’m thinking Brubaker is carted off after Hoerner flattens him.

Wilbur Miller

Cubs aren’t going to concede the TOOTBLAN title to the Bucs without a fight.

skliesen

I knew giving Tsutsugo a clean death was the wise choice.

Wilbur Miller

Yoshi swings at a pitch down the middle on 3-0 and grounds out. That should have GMs lining up to trade for him.

chappy

Worried about Hayes bat now…he is getting worse, not better.

TNBucs

That AB was a great example of his struggles–swings at ball 4 and then pops up a pitch that he should have been able to drive.

I’m not worried about him long-term but he’s a little frustrating to watch right now. For me, it’s one more piece of evidence that our position players are not getting the coaching they need.

b mcferren

that catch just netted us a better prospect

TNBucs

He needed the dive on that one!

bucsws2014

So Cruz is shaping up to be a .210 BA 30 HR 120 RBI guy.

Wilbur Miller

Sold

bucsws2014

Sucks that VanMeter’s obvious error results in penalizing Bru with an ER. MLB should really have standards for official scorers.

Wilbur Miller

Better still, the Pirates could have standards for baseball players. Problem solved.

TNBucs

It sometimes seems the main or only standard they have is to be a good clubhouse guy. We hear that so often about so many of these players, but the accountability seems to end there. I want good clubhouse guys but they need to be able to play.

b mcferren

why do they keep playing that jagoff?

TNBucs

That would be a good question to send to the Bucs’ booth because Greg Brown is already talking about VanMeter redeeming himself later.

Last edited 2 months ago by TNBucs
roibert.kasperski

And now Van Meter is even……..go figure….

TNBucs

I guess Brown called it. I’m happy but I hope it doesn’t mean we get VanMeter leading off for the next x number of games.

Wilbur Miller

Mblee24

Man Hayes and Chavis really fell off this year after decent starts. If they both could just be at least average hitters.

b mcferren

i blame the hitting coach

Mblee24

Let’s hope that’s it!

Wilbur Miller

Cubs practicing their TOOTBLANs.

john_fluharty

Cubbie TOOTBLAN

phieralph

Cal “Cannon” Mitchell!!!

hoffmark83

Yay! There won’t be an International Draft!

b mcferren

need to invest more in Mexico – – – tons of talent down here

john_fluharty

A lot of that talent plays soccer, but there still should be good baseball talent.

AdministrativeSky236

Thats good for us… I think? But bad for all these amateur kids getting taken advantage of

TNBucs

From what I read it was the players who signed as IFAs who most strongly opposed the draft because they believed that MLB was only using it to reduce spending, and that prospects stood to make more by keeping things as they are. MLB’s proposed pools for an international draft, which were far below the pools for the domestic draft, and MLB’s proposed limits on how much could be spent to sign undrafted players supported the players’ concerns.

Wilbur Miller

Hard to say. The top signings are usually locked up a couple years in advance, so this is just Vizcaino’s second (?) year of full control. Seems good for us.

Great system, btw, isn’t it? MLB says they need a draft because of BS like teams getting commitments from kids at age 14 or even earlier, but that’s already against the rules. They’re just not enforced.

ArkyWags

The status quo ain’t a win, that’s for sure.

TNBucs

I’m surprised when I see how low we rank in pitching but then I remember the games when Shelton essentially threw in the towel. Over our 96 games we’ve given up 488 runs (5.1 runs per game) but 112 of those runs came from 7 blowouts. So, in the other 89 games we’ve given up only 4.2 runs per game. That 4.2 would rank 13th, just behind Miami and just ahead of Milwaukee.

Obviously every team looks better if you throw out their worst games, but few if any would have such a dramatic change because few if any have had as many and as large of blowouts as we’ve had. All to say, the large majority of the time (over 90%) we’ve been around league average in pitching. Hitting is another story, but there is some hope with the pitching.

Wilbur Miller

Just for fun, in Miami’s seven worse losses they allowed 77 runs. Mil, 73.

The Gnats, who have baseball’s worst pitching, gave up 87.

AdministrativeSky236

This is really interesting to me

Wilbur Miller

Well, here’s the rest of the NL (there are a few wins in here, so this is just the seven worst-pitched games for each team, not worst losses):

AZ: 86
Atl: 76
ChC: 106
Cinn: 86
Col: 89
LAD: 65
NYM: 77
Phi: 79
SD: 74
SF: 88
StL: 60

jameschurchfield

Are we getting any more draft picks signed

b mcferren

I just read in baseball weekly that Jo Adell is on his way to Pittsburgh for Kevin Newman and Cal Mitchell

docdon385

Sure that wasn’t baseball weakly?

Jeff

What’s going on with Johnson?
wondering if he wants overslot money. I thought he would be in last weekend and signed during home stand.
maybe this weekend ?

TNBucs

It seems a bit odd given how many of the top picks have signed, but they’ve kind of lined up this upcoming weekend as a big celebration with the yinzer thing Friday night and so forth, and I’m sure his signing will be part of that.

jameschurchfield

If he isn’t there I’d start to question if he will sign

roibert.kasperski

Who dropped the weight on Marisnick’s toe??

jon6er

Van Meter!

roibert.kasperski

LOL!!!

1979andCounting

But Van Meter is batting lead-off and Yoshi is DHing. One step forward, two steps back.

TNBucs

I don’t think we can emphasize enough that we have a guy with a .260 OBP batting leadoff. Not only is he unlikely to set the table for the few good hitters we have, but he’ll also get the most PAs. How does this respect the game, let alone make sense?

chappy

Insanity. Play Castillo for goodness sake in either of those spots!!!

roibert.kasperski

But Yoshi was the hero the last 2 games…..

jon6er

Those were million dollar hits he had….literally

1979andCounting

Maybe the wind at Wrigley will be blowing out to LF and he can hit a pop up to shallow left.

roibert.kasperski

Hope Delilah gave him a nice trim today 🙂

NMR

Great reference!

roibert.kasperski

😀

RAS TN

Tik Toc August 1 is a coming…

b mcferren

rumor mill has the White Sox sending us Andrew Vaughn in exchange for Brubaker

mikeschalke

That seems like a fair trade proposal to me. Vaughn would definitely solve our first base issue. Very good hitter.

PirateRican21

Bmac I love your post!

AdministrativeSky236

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Todd

I would think Newman, Quintana, and Gamel would interest some team(s)

mikeschalke

I’m thinking there’s a real good chance that all 3 will be dealt by the deadline.

Catch_22

My God this is getting ridiculous

SouthernBuc

I’m with you regarding getting the trade deadline here and past. Any player who is a free agent at seasons end, I am hoping will be gone via trade or other method even though I don’t expect any major prospects coming back. One thing I have overthought, if all of our AAA prospect outfielders are pushed to the majors there could be playing time issues. I’d rather one or two stay in AAA just so they are playing everyday. With 3 OF spots and DH (most days) and Reynolds, Allen, Mitchell, Suwinski, Swags, Madris(1B some?) to fill them, there will be people sitting too often IMHO. I’d just be straight forward with them and say one or two of you at all times will be rotating through AAA.

TNBucs

I agree–there was a brief fun stretch when multiple prospects were getting time. Then Allen, Gamel, Newman, Yoshi, and Marisnick came back and we lost that fun quality as it feels like we’re just playing out a stretch of games until the deadline or beyond. (I like Allen as a 4th OF but the rest don’t seem to be part of the near future.)

The only hesitation there, which makes matters even worse, is that I’m not seeing any development happening for position players at the MLB level. There are some signs of progress for our pitchers, but nothing for our hitters which supposedly was a strength of Shelton’s and the reason we brought in Haines.

Catch_22

Jesus H

Multiple prospects are still getting time.

Sunday Cruz, Mitchell, Delay started. Yerry pitched and Castillo pinch hit in a big spot. If Castillo could hit hit righties, he’d get more playing time. If Suwinski didn’t forget how to hit, he’d be starting.

You guys want our major league team to be a AAA team.

This is one of the strangest phenomenon’s I’ve seen in these rooms.

TNBucs

I’m not someone who just wants to see prospects for the sake of seeing prospects. However, our major league options (Gamel, VanMeter, Marisnick, Tsutsugo) are essentially replacement-level players (none are above 0.6 fWAR or 0.3 bWAR). By definition, then, they should be replaceable by guys we have in AAA. So why not give reps to guys who might be part of the next good Pirates team?

skliesen

No, I just don’t want the Pirates to be a AAAA team. Which is exactly what they are when the likes of JVM, Tsutsugo, Marisnick, Allen, & Heineman are all starting.

Wilbur Miller

“You guys want our major league team to be a AAA team.”

Um, they already are. Have been for three years.

tom2125

I guess you just want the major league team to be full of quad A players….

The strangest phenomenon to me is Pirates fans thinking players that have never had sustained success in the majors that should continue to get playing time.

What’s the point of Allen getting playing time? Or Yoshi? Or even Newman?

At least the players in triple A have a shot at being good major league players. What shot does Vanmeter have at being a 3 win player? I’m more confident in Bae getting there than Van man and Newman.

Mblee24

What is the team right now? A bunch of guys who have no future in the ML’s but you’d rather them play than prospects who have proven themselves in Triple A? I mean Bae, Suwinski and Madris have all shown they don’t really need anymore time in Triple A (I know Suwinski skipped the level) and have some promise. You are saying you’d rather Yoshi at first than Madris? Marisnick/Allen/Gamel over Suwinski? Newman/Vanmeter over Bae?

I think you are right, we at times want the prospects before they are ready but these guys they are running out there right now are a joke. They have a bad Triple A lineup right now and can upgrade to a good Triple A lineup with potential to be better. I for one want the younger guys over the older guys if the older guys suck like they do. Its a different story if these veterans were hitting well but none are.

Catch_22

I’d rather Madris learn the position in AAA, not OJT at the MLB level. Use the minor leagues to let a guy learn a new position.

I’m not sure if you watched Suwinski’s last 28 ab’s in the Show, but they were God awful. Let him get his confidence and swing back in AAA.

I keep hearing Swaggerty’s name, but he’s got a 94wRC+ and is almost striking out 30% of the time…how do you think that translates against the best pitchers in the world?

Bae’s the logical choice, and I’m guessing he’ll get the call when Newman is traded. Some on here think Bae is going to be a star, but he projects as a utility player.

Nobody is getting blocked. Just let things play out

Mblee24

I’m fine with Madris playing first in the majors he can’t be any worse than the guys they got. He also played some in college, so there’s that.

I agree Suwinski needed a quick demotion to get his swing back but by Aug 1st I want him back.

I never mentioned Swaggerty. I think he needs to spend the whole year this year in Triple A after being out all of last year. I wouldn’t mind a September call up for him.

As far as Bae I think he will be similar to Frazier but with more power, less average and more speed!

My thing is if they aren’t blocking anyone, why couldn’t they went and got a couple guys that could put up big league at bats for this year? The guys they have right now are down right terrible.

Wilbur Miller

I’ve always loved the argument that it’s better to play a sh*t veteran player in the majors because a rookie might or might not be a sh*t player.

Catch_22

They have 2 vets that are terrible…Yosh and JVM. They’re not blocking anyone. Madris played 34 games at 1b for Mesa State, that hardly makes him ready. He’s played 8 games at 1b in AAA. You don’t just throw a kid to the wolves and let him learn how to scoop 95 mph lasers from Cruz.

Wilbur Miller

So, what you’re saying is, he can learn to catch Cruz’ throws by staying in AAA and not catching Cruz’ throws.

NMR

Correct, using minor league baseball to develop major league baseball players as actual successful organizations have done for longer than any of us have been following along is a perfectly rational manner of operating a baseball team and does not warrant waking up every morning to have a conniption on the internet over shitty prospects not getting playing time over shitty veterans.

NMR

Eesh, I don’t know man.

If this club has any shot in hell of actually competing for championships in a few years then the focus will have to be on a lot higher impact then weeding through a shit ton of grade 40 players in the hopes of somebody turning into a 45. Nobody should give a fuck about using Major League Baseball games to weed through players when they actually start to matter.

Bringing knives to a gun fight.

I think Catch and I are mostly sick of this entire blog turning into a daily bitch session over the audacity of shitty vets playing over shitty prospects, but holy cow, if this isn’t the last season where that’s even a conversation then we’re in way worse shape than I thought.

You play Madris over Yoshi in a shit rebuilding year because one is a hair more interesting than the other, NOT because Bligh Madris might be your first baseman on a playoff club.

My goodness.

Wilbur Miller

Funny, GMBS said prospects are ready for the majors once they do well in AA. Pretty sure Indianapolis is AAA.

NMR

And as we all know, Cherington’s track record of development is flawless and you effusively praise him in a manner that you’d NEVER cherry pick when and when not to appeal to his authority.

😉

tom2125

I’m cool with Madris playing first base in MLB. Who wants Van Man at first right now? He cost us a game because of his defense already and can’t hit. Garbage player for a garbage strategy this year. We also had to watch Josh Bell look pathetic there too.

hoptown

Well I’m glad after a career best start vs the Marlins we didnt use the All Star break to start him again vs the Marlins….{sarcasm}.

Quality managing there.

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