Author Topic: Pirates Off-Season Review and 2016 Preview  (Read 657 times)

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Pirates Off-Season Review and 2016 Preview
« on: 20 Mar 2016 6:43:39 PM »
2016 Pirates Preview & Off-Season Review

Coming off a 95 win season and a victory in the Wild Card Game, Pirates management was optimistic when the 2016 season ended. Despite the 95 wins, management knew the team overachieved. Keeping the same cast of characters would very likely result in a 2016 season closer to 81 wins than 95. Upgrades were needed just to keep pace with the Cubs, Cardinals & Brewers.

The first move was trading Sergio Romo and his $7.2mil salary.  The return was Abraham Almonte. We felt we had enough effective relievers without Romo. More importantly, the trade netted us $6.7mil in cap space. The plan was Almonte & Jon Jay would be our CF platoon.

Cardinals top prospect Alex Reyes was traded to the Dodgers to boost the farm system and to pick up a 2017 2nd round pick. Reyes brought back 1B Dominic Smith and 2B Rob Refsnyder. We were hoping Refsnyder would be the full-time 2Bguy in 2016.

As the ZIPS trickled in, it became clear the offense needed more help, especially at CF & 2B. Also the back end of the starting rotation was weak. New plans materialized. We would snag Joey Votto in T1. Then quietly scoop up Jaime Garcia and Neil Walker in T2. Quickly another idea came into focus when the Twins ZIPS were posted. The heck with Jay/Almonte in CF. Byron Buxton gets the job full-time. His defense alone and a 4.3WAR player (for 600PA) was too juicy to let sit on RR.

On the third day of T1, we were confident our 8-year $20mil offer would land Votto. I mean c'mon, who else was loony enough to offer a 32 year old an 8-year deal? Crazy, right? Well, maybe not so wacky after all. Not only did we not Win the Votto Derby, we didn't even Place, we had to settle for Show. Now we were stuck with Brandon Belt for another year. UGGGGH. It was a depressing day. Belt was a candidate for replacement due to his dreadful 2015 campaign. His .634 OPS in 2015 was godawful for a player whose projected OPS was .780.

We licked our wounds and waited for T2. The Day 1 bid was a winner. Jaime Garcia comes to Pittsburgh for 6 years/$70mil. Happy Days. PNC Park favors southpaws; hitters and pitchers. Garcia's handedness was a significant factor. The other positives were his age (29) and Jaime keeps the ball in the ballpark. Yes, his injury history sucks; we hope most of his DL days are behind him. Garcia joins fellow lefties Jose Quintana and Hyun-jin Ryu in the rotation. Corey Kluber and Jeff Samardzjia are the RH starters. All told, not too shabby. It is easily the best staff Pittsburgh has featured in the last eight seasons.

While we were busy pursuing Jaime Garcia, many DMBO owners were throwing oodles of dollars at Neil Walker. We pivoted to Plan B to improve the 2B offense. Plan B had a name; Asdrubal Cabrera. Trying to sneak Asdrubal through on a low-ball bid was thwarted by the Rays (sigh). In the end  Asdrubal received the dollars budgeted for Neil Walker. Asdrubal isn't as good as Walker. But he bats lefty (most of the time) and he has a bit of pop for a 2Bman. The hope is Asdrubal's 2B defense is better than his ZIPS SS defense (-10 runs).

Carlos Beltran and Mike Morse were signed to provide power on the bench and to handle the DH duties. With Buxton getting the everyday CF gig. Jon Jay was expendable, he was traded to open up more salary cap space.

The final significant pre-season moves were signing the first LTC contracts in Pittsburgh Pirates history. Mike Moustakis gives us LH power in a park where well-struck flyballs by RH hitters fall into gloves rather than bleachers. Mous is a 2.5WAR player at 27 years old, he should be a bargain at $11mil for four years. Jonathon Lucroy gets the other LTC, also four years at $11mil. Offensively Lucroy (age 29) is arguably a Top 5 catcher. This season Lucroy is 3.3 WAR player.  We're happy to have him through 2019. Going LTC with Moustakis and Lucroy makes the decision to move Manny Machado much more palatable. Lucroy (along with Brett Lawrie) was acquired in the Machado trade; Moustakis was subsequently acquired to fill the 3B vacancy created by Machado's departure. We knew Machado would blossom; it was a given. Before acquiring Lucroy the Pirates' catcher was Josh Thole. We are comfortable with the deal because Lucroy > Thole by more than Machado > Moustakis.

Another nice aspect of the team is Brandon Belt is the only vital player departing after 2016. The remainder of the starting lineup, all five pitchers in the rotation and all but two relievers (Russell and Wada are goners) figure to return in 2017. The 2016/17 off-season might be very quiet in Pittsburgh.

The composition of the club is not unusual. Its a combination of draft, trade and free agency:

Hitters (Starters in Bold)
Draft: Conforto, Buxton, Gregorius (All 1st Rounders);  Tom Murphy, Susac, Romero
Trade: Pence, Moustakis, Belt, Lawrie, Lucroy, Franklin, Almonte, Refsnyder
Free Agent: Cabrera, Beltran, Morse

Pitchers (SP in Bold)
Draft: Strickland, Kela, Siegrist, Nuno
Trade: Quintana, Ryu, Samardzjia, Tomlin, Nicasio, Z. Lee
Free Agent: Kluber, J.Garcia, Chavez, Wada, Russell
Waiver Claim: Maness

Looking back, signing Corey Kluber after 2014 was the linchpin to the club's revival. With Kluber leading the rotation, the time to move was while he was on the roster. Kluber's presence was the most important factor when we became aggressive during the 2014/15 off-season. Subsequently the Machado deal happened, our #1 and #2 picks in 2015 & 2016 were dealt and a number of prospects were moved. To date, the results are positive.

Predictions/Expectations
In most other divisions another 95 wins would not be unrealistic. But in the NL Central, where a 91 win Cubs team finished 4th, expectations must be somewhat tempered. An 88 to 92 win season is more realistic.

« Last Edit: 26 Mar 2016 7:56:03 AM by Pirates LW »
Larry Waters
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Pirates AR

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Re: Pirates Off-Season Review and 2016 Preview
« Reply #1 on: 25 Mar 2016 3:51:55 AM »
Code: [Select]
Starting Lineup

Ca  4.1 zWAR/600 Lucroy 276/340/415 +3 3.3

1B  3.1 zWAR/600 Belt * 265/340/450 +4 2.5
2B  2.3 zWAR/600 Cabrera # 258/315/421 -10 2.2
3B  2.6 zWAR/600 Moustakas * 256/313/426 +3 2.5
SS  2.6 zWAR/600 Gregorius * 257/317/379 +2 2.4

LF  3.2 zWAR/600 Conforto * 255/320/466 +4 3.2
CF  4.3 zWAR/600 Buxton 266/310/405 +13 2.9
RF  2.4 zWAR/600 Pence 265/320/430 0 1.9

Starting Rotation

1. 4.3 zWAR/200 Kluber 9.67/1.92/0.80 4.3
2. 4.2 zWAR/200 Quintana * 7.65/2.17/0.78 4.1
3. 3.9 zWAR/200 Garcia * 6.99/2.23/0.78 1.8
4. 3.2 zWAR/200 Ryu * 7.54/2.08/0.79 2.0
5. 3.1 zWAR/200 Samardzija 8.27/2.02/0.73 3.0

Bullpen

0.9 zWAR/60 Kela 10.14/2.71/0.86 0.9
0.9 zWAR/60 Siegrist * 11.00/4.00/0.86 0.9
0.9 zWAR/60 Strickland 9.69/1.94/0.65 0.8
0.2 zWAR/60 Maness 6.19/1.77/0.88 0.2
0.1 zWAR/60 Nuno * 7.38/2.28/1.45 0.2 SP/RP
Russell (CHC/PHI)

Position Reserves

2  2.5 zWAR/600 Susac 224/305/347 -1 1.3
2  1.0 zWAR/600 Pierzynski * 266/304/380 -8 0.6
2  0.5 zWAR/600 Murphy 230/287/425 -6 0.3

3  0.3 zWAR/600 Morse 243/301/406 -2 0.2
346  1.2 zWAR/600 Franklin # 230/299/374 -2 0.9
4  2.1 zWAR/600 Refsnyder 248/318/395 -1 1.9
45  2.1 zWAR/600 Lawrie 255/310/406 -1 1.8

7  1.2 zWAR/600 Romero 250/285/408 +3 1.0 L+
789  0.9 zWAR/600 Almonte # 247/307/384 -5 0.8 R+
9  0.4 zWAR/600 Beltran # 252/311/429 -7 0.3

Pitching Reserves

2.3 zWAR/200 Lee 6.50/1.47/0.84 1.5
2.0 zWAR/200 Chavez 8.00/2.62/1.18 1.4
1.5 zWAR/200 Blanton 8.31/2.08/1.04 0.6
1.4 zWAR/200 Nicasio 7.61/3.63/0.80 0.7
1.4 zWAR/200 Wada * 6.95/2.89/1.17 0.8
0.9 zWAR/200 Tomlin 7.52/1.48/1.48 0.4
« Last Edit: 26 Mar 2016 3:42:46 AM by Pirates AR »
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