A Pittsburgh Pirates Blog

Community Projection: Joe Randa
By Charlie
Posted on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 05:17:10 PM EST

How will new Bucs third baseman Joe Randa perform in 2006? He was respectable in 2005, but he faltered after moving to a pitchers' park in San Diego. He's at the age when players like him tend to decline, but he has been a remarkably consistent player in the last four years.

As always, predict his 2006 batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage in the comments.

The Jack Wilson predictions are still open.

The results so far:

PLAYERPOS.COMMUNITYZiPS
Sean Casey1B.300/.361/.446.313/.373/.441
Jose Castillo2B.275/.322/.441.277/.325/.394
Jason BayLF.298/.403/.547.297/.395/.557
Chris DuffyCF.278/.331/.395.287/.338/.384
Jeromy BurnitzRF.246/.317/.439.240/.311/.412

These Castillo projections are very interesting. ZiPS thinks he won't get better; the community agrees with ZiPS on the batting average and on-base percentages, but thinks Castillo will blossom into a plus offensive player.

Entry Link :: 6 Comments

More on Pirates Prospects
By Charlie
Posted on Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 05:04:14 PM EST

Ouch. Dayn Perry (emphasis mine):

75. Andrew McCutchen, OF...

McCutchen is one of the only Pirate hitting prospects worth mentioning. He batted .709 during his senior year of high school, and he boasts exceptional speed on the bases, great range in center and command of the strike zone. He hasn't shown much power as of yet, but he has the bat speed for it. As soon as his body fills out, the power will follow. McCutchen will see full-season action for the first time in 2006, and he should do just fine. If his bat develops as anticipated, he'll be much higher on this list next year. Keep your eye on him.

Entry Link :: Comment

Community Projection: Jack Wilson
By Charlie
Posted on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 10:45:47 PM EST

[Bumped. Newer stuff below - Charlie.]

This community projection and the ongoing Jose Castillo one should be the most interesting among the hitters, I think, since various fans have very different ideas about what these players' offensive capabilities are. Already in the Castillo thread, we're seeing projections that are very different from one another, and the overall community projection is going to be really different from what ZiPS had to say. (If you haven't chimed in on Castillo yet, don't look at ZiPS first.)

The tricky things with Wilson are what to make of his 2004 season and how to weigh the appendectomy excuse for his poor performance with the bat in 2005. Was 2004 fluky? If so, how fluky? Will Wilson's 2004 power return? Will he ever develop decent on-base skills? Let me know in the comments by predicting his 2006 batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, along with anything else you'd like to predict.

Here are Wilson's statistics and lists of statistically comparable players.

The Community Projection results so far:

PLAYERPOS.COMMUNITYZiPS
Sean Casey1B.300/.361/.446.313/.373/.441
Jason BayLF.298/.403/.547.297/.395/.557
Chris DuffyCF.278/.331/.395.287/.338/.384
Jeromy BurnitzRF.246/.317/.439.240/.311/.412

The community's projection for Casey is better than ZiPS', I think - .313 is obviously far from impossible for him, but few players hit that well for contact, and betting on a player as slow and old as Casey to do it again seems optimistic. Perhaps ZiPS is thinking that Casey's average will stay very high because he's moving to a more contact-friendly ballpark.

Entry Link :: 13 Comments

Former Pirate Signings
By Charlie
Posted on Tue Jan 31, 2006 at 10:45:02 PM EST

From the "somebody else's problem" department:

The Reds have signed Rick White to a one-year contract worth $600,000. It's apparently a major-league contract.

The Nationals have signed Daryle Ward to a minor-league contract.

Entry Link :: 2 Comments

Community Projection: Jose Castillo
By Charlie
Posted on Mon Jan 30, 2006 at 07:35:29 PM EST

UPDATE: The Castillo projections are now closed.

How do we think Jose Castillo will perform in the coming season? Offensively, he took a step forward in 2005, and he'll only be 25 this year. Will he take another step forward, or will plate discipline or injuries hold him back?

As always, list your expectations for Castillo's 2006 average, on base percentage and slugging percentage in the comments. If you want, you can also guess how many homers he'll have, how much playing time he'll have, and so on, although I probably won't calculate those.

Here are Castillo's major- and minor-league statistics.

The predictions for Jason Bay are now closed, but Sean Casey is still open.

The results so far:

PLAYERPOS.COMMUNITYZiPS
Jason BayLF.298/.403/.547.297/.395/.557
Chris DuffyCF.278/.331/.395.287/.338/.384
Jeromy BurnitzRF.246/.317/.439.240/.311/.412

Both the community and ZiPS think that Jason Bay will take a very small step backward next year, which looks about right.

Entry Link :: 13 Comments

Community Projection: Sean Casey
By Charlie
Posted on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 09:57:26 PM EST

[Bumped. Newer stuff below - Charlie.]

UPDATE: The Casey predictions are now closed.

How will Sean Casey fare in the coming year? Will he stay healthy and return to 2004 form, or will age and injuries cause him to decline further? Will he be an above-average hitter at first for the Pirates?

As ever, provide your answers in the comments, including your predictions for his 2006 batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.

Here are Casey's statistics and lists of statistically comparable players.

The Jason Bay prediction thread is still open, so don't forget to weigh in there, if you haven't already. Jeromy Burnitz is now closed.

The results so far:

PLAYERPOS.COMMUNITYZiPS
Chris DuffyCF.278/.331/.395.287/.338/.384
Jeromy BurnitzRF.246/.317/.439.240/.311/.412

The Bucs Dugout community is actually somewhat bullish on Burnitz, at least compared to the projection. Although I don't think a .246 batting average is completely out of line with expectations, I'll take the under. Last year, Burnitz managed to make contact at a respectable rate, and the year before that, he played at Coors. In the two years before that he had difficulties getting the bat on the ball. I wouldn't be surprised if he had them again.

Entry Link :: 14 Comments

P-G on Pirates Prospects
By Charlie
Posted on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 09:56:46 PM EST

I was going to let this go, but after reading it for a second time I just can't. This reads a little like Paul Meyer's offseason stories on the minor leagues - everyone who ever tried on a uniform for a Pirates affiliate is a prospect. To wit:

[Rajai Davis] could join Nate McLouth and Ray Sadler for an all-prospect outfield in Indianapolis.

Ray Sadler is not a prospect. He'll be 25 this year, he has never hit particularly well in the high minors and he was designated for assignment in September.

Shane Youman, a promising left-hander, will be converted into a full-time starter at Altoona.

One wonders what Youman had to "promise" Dejan Kovacevic in exchange for being described so favorably. Actually, he's 26, didn't even pitch especially well in the bullpen at Class AA last year, got lit up by younger hitters in the Arizona Fall League, and has mediocre stuff. He doesn't "promise" to do much more than take the ball every fifth day for the Curve.

The affiliate Graham singled out as being of particular interest is Hickory, mostly because it will be built almost entirely on recent draft picks. In addition to McCutchen, those include outfielder Brad Corley, the second-round pick last summer, and shortstop Brian Bixler, their second-rounder the previous year.

"There are some nice prospects," Graham said. "I'd say that team has a pretty high ceiling."

What? Who on that team, besides McCutchen, has a high ceiling? Joe Bauserman, maybe?

Kovacevic, to his credit, does point out that the Pirates have few power hitting prospects. But overall, the article has a congratulatory tone that's at odds with the actual state of the Pirates' farm system.

More to the point, a list of one-sentence blurbs about prospects without accompanying contextual information about them is pointless. How do the Pirates' prospects rate compared to those of other teams? That story would be considerably less congratulatory, since the Pirates' performance in prospect evaluations by reliable sources have ranged from mediocre to embarrassing over the past few years, despite the Pirates' always having favorable drafting positions.

Entry Link :: 4 Comments

Van Slyke on PirateFest
By Charlie
Posted on Sun Jan 29, 2006 at 03:27:06 PM EST

Here's a great article by Van Slyke on PirateFest.

Entry Link :: 7 Comments

Kovacevic Questions Pirates' Finances Again
By Charlie
Posted on Sat Jan 28, 2006 at 01:35:12 AM EST

Here's another fine article by Dejan Kovacevic asking where the Pirates' money is.

There are three problems with the Pirates' recent payroll increase. Kovacevic addresses the first two, which are 1) that the Pirates might still be pocketing loads of money while still fielding a very low-payroll team and 2) that the Pirates are still fielding a very low-payroll team. Their 2006 payroll will, as Kovacevic points out, likely be lower than that of any other team in the NL Central, even with two other teams (Cincinnati and Milwaukee) that seem to be dealing with similar circumstances.

But the worst problem with the Pirates' payroll increase is much nastier, and it's also much simpler than poring through a bunch of financial documents. The biggest problem with the payroll increase is that the Pirates chose to spend over $15 million on Sean Casey, Jeromy Burnitz, Joe Randa and Roberto Hernandez. None of those players is much of an upgrade on what the Pirates already had. Burnitz is actively worse than the player he'll be replacing. If you're going to spend $15 million, great - but spend it wisely. I can't say specifically what the Pirates should have done, but what do you think Billy Beane would have been able to do with $15 million if he were running the Pirates? Payroll increases are great, but what the Pirates really need is an increase in smarts.

Entry Link :: 7 Comments

Bucs Sign Jose Hernandez
By Charlie
Posted on Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 10:30:28 PM EST

Thanks to Greg in the diaries for drawing my attention to this.

The Bucs have acquired Jose Hernandez again, and it's an infinitely better idea now than it was the first time. Hernandez was dreadful last year, but he was so improbably good in a tough stadium in 2004 (playing under Jim Tracy, by the way) that one is tempted to chalk both years up to sample size issues and hope his real level of ability is right between them. As an infielder with a decent glove and some power, Hernandez is worth a minor-league contract. He may be done, but if he isn't, he seems like the sort of player Jim Tracy would be good at managing - a part-time player with weaknesses but also with obvious strengths, such as fielding ability and the ability to hit lefties.

This signing does, however, make the Pirates' bizarre worryings about offensive strikeouts seem even sillier. A couple years ago, Hernandez only avoided breaking the single-season strikeout record when the Brewers sat him for the last few games of the season. He's a strikeout machine.

Entry Link :: 7 Comments

Community Projection: Jason Bay
By Charlie
Posted on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 08:34:35 PM EST

[Bumped. Don't miss the newer stuff below, but be sure to weigh in on Jason Bay here first.]

Update: The Bay projections are now closed.

I love writing about Bay. Everyone have fun with this one. Bay hit a superb .306/.402/.559 last year. Will he keep it up during his age 27 season? Or will he regress to the mean?

Here are Bay's statistics. Here is a list of statistically comparable players through age 26. Let me know what you think in the comments by projecting at least his 2006 batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.

You can still weigh in on Jeromy Burnitz here. The Chris Duffy predictions are now closed. The results so far:

PLAYERPOS.COMMUNITYZiPS
Chris DuffyCF.278/.331/.395.287/.338/.384

The ZiPS and community projections for Duffy are pretty much identical.

Entry Link :: 12 Comments

Link Roundup
By Charlie
Posted on Thu Jan 26, 2006 at 08:33:30 PM EST

-Here's a silly feature on Mike Gonzalez, complete with the standard quotes about Jose Mesa's tutelage being "unbelievable" and how Jeromy Burnitz, Sean Casey and Joe Randa will bring "balance":

"Having those guys like the Sean Caseys, the Jeromy Burnitzs and Joe Randas, those are upgrades," Gonzalez said. "I think it's going to be a pretty good balance with the guys we have now like the Chris Duffys and the pitching staff with the Zach Dukes and Paul Maholms. It's going to be good balance."

This will be Gonzalez's third year in the majors, but I'm sure he followed the Pirates for several years before that while he was in the minor leagues. I'm honestly not sure what I'd say about Burnitz and the others to make their signings seem okay if I were in Gonzalez's situation, so I'll cut him some slack. But does it honestly not occur to him and other people who make similar statements about "balance" that the Pirates have had lots of short-term veterans in every year for about a decade, and all they've done is lose, lose, lose? The names change, but the results are always about the same, as Pete Schourek becomes Pat Meares becomes Omar Olivares becomes Pokey Reese becomes Kenny Lofton becomes Raul Mondesi becomes Rick White. "Balance" is probably about 99.9% irrelevant. Talent is relevant.

-Here's an article on new Lynchburg manager Gary Green, who comes to the Pirates from the Tigers organization.

-Here is a feature on Pie Traynor.

-Via OnlyBucs, Daryle Ward has been offered a minor league deal with the Nationals.

Entry Link :: 2 Comments

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