Paul Daugherty, usually of the Cincinnati Enquirer, but writing here for Sports Illustrated, saw just about all he needed to see from the Pirates last week:
In the seven days between April 20 and 26, the Pirates were outscored
72-12. Not by the Yankees, or even the Jets, but by the Brewers and the
Houston Astros. This isn’t Major League Baseball in any way, except
Break up the Pirates.
Dismantle them player by player. Melt them down. Paperweights and
doorstops for everyone.
Daugherty bases his argument on more than just the shellacking at the hands of the Brewers and Astros, of course. The 17 years of futility enter into it, as well as charges that the Pirates don’t spend their revenue sharing money to actually make the team better.
Which doesn’t exactly square with the union’s position, which I wrote about last week. The union believes that the Pirates are not, like the Marlins, squandering money to make the team better or otherwise acting poorly as an organization. Sure, that’s just one group’s opinion of the matter, but doesn’t it follow that the first ones to scream if the Pirates were mismanaging the store would be the union?
And as for those 17 years, the vast majority of them occurred under different ownership and different management. It’s cold comfort to Pirates fans who can’t necessarily be expected to care what regime is presiding over the bad on-the-field product, but Daugherty knows that different people are in charge now, and unless he’s in radical disagreement with most people who know a little bit about the subject, he has to acknowledge that things are better now than they were just a few short years ago.
I know it’s bleak in Pittsburgh, but it’s not hopeless, and this brand of overreaction doesn’t seem to reflect what’s really going on in the organization.
This shouldn’t cause any controversy, lead to a lot of people saying dumb things or provide fodder for jokes at all. Nope, none whatsoever:
In what promises to be a bombshell move, if executed, all-time great slugger Barry Bonds is under consideration to become Marlins hitting coach.
Team higherups have quietly been discussing this possibility for weeks.
That’s Jon Heyman, who reminds us that Bonds has worked with the Giants in the spring in recent years. And who, no matter what else you can say about him, was one of the greatest hitters the game has ever seen. Also worth remembering that despite his controversial past, that greatness came not just from physical gifts, naturally or artificially bestowed. It came from his approach, preparation and strategy at the plate. No one can teach a hitter to hit like Barry Bonds, but you’d think that hitters could be taught to try to approach an at bat the way Barry Bonds would. And who better to do it than Barry Bonds?
That is, if Bonds is willing to drop his seemingly ideal retired life in San Francisco, move to Miami and work for Jeff Loria for nine months a year. Which, eh, who knows? But the possibility of it is pretty fascinating to think about.
Veteran catcher Brayan Pena has agreed to a two-year, $5 million contract with the Cardinals, who’re investing much more than usual in their backup for Yadier Molina.
After bouncing around for a decade without getting even 250 plate appearances in a season Pena signed with the Reds and topped 350 plate appearances in both 2014 and 2015. His production didn’t improve any, as Pena hit .263 with five homers and a .652 OPS in 223 games as a regular.
Pena’s best skill is rarely striking out, which enables him to hit for a decent batting average, but he has very little power and swings at everything. He struggled to control the running game this season at age 33, but has a decent throw-out rate for his career.
Making a multi-year commitment to Pena suggests the Cardinals are no longer counting on Molina being the same type of workhorse behind the plate, which certainly makes sense given his age and injury history. Pena will replace Tony Cruz, who’s been Molina’s understudy since 2011 while hitting just .220 with five homers and a .572 OPS in 259 games.
It’s a pretty slow offseason so far. We’ve had a couple of minor signings. I guess Jordan Zimmermann is sort of a big deal. But it’s a lot more quiet so far this year than it was this time last year. I suppose there’s no real rhyme nor reason for it. Baseball offseason is long, there is no salary cap and thus there’s no rush to do things too quickly.
So, while we wait, here’s Andrew McCutchen doing his best to kill time until spring training starts:
Veteran outfielder Chris Young thrived in a platoon role for the Yankees this past season and now he’s headed to the rival Red Sox to fill a similar role, signing a multi-year deal with Boston according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.
Young was once an everyday center fielder for the Diamondbacks, making the All-Star team in 2010 at age 26, but for the past 3-4 years he’s gotten 300-350 plate appearances in a part-time role facing mostly left-handed pitching. He hit .252 with 14 homers and a .773 OPS for the Yankees, but prior to that failed to top a .700 OPS in 2013 or 2014.
Given the Red Sox’s outfield depth–Mookie Betts, Rusney Castillo, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Brock Holt even with Hanley Ramirez back in the infield–Young is unlikely to work his way into everyday playing time at age 32, but he should get another 300 or so plate appearances while also providing a veteran fallback option. And it’s possible his arrival clears the way for a trade.