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A Gift Of A Taillon Early Return And Other Nuggets

Jameson Taillon could be back in the rotation by August

The Jameson Taillon cancer has taken everyone by surprise and all the Pirates fans have risen to the occasion.  The fans have been supportive to a letter and no one has wondered when he’ll be back…. until this guy (jerk).

I did some research on testicular cancer in athletes and the results are all over the dish.   Ex-Pirate Andrew Lambo missed all of 2016 due to a diagnosis while Rockies pitcher Chad Bettis has had his cancer spread and has needed some serious treatments this year to combat the cancer.

On the positive, NBA player Nenê Hilario (aka Nenê) had a testicular cancer in 2008 and returned to action much sooner:

“On January 11, 2008, Nenê released a statement saying that he was taking an indefinite leave of absence from the Denver Nuggets to take care of a personal medical issue.[22] Three days later, he had a testicular tumor removed at a Denver hospital.[23] He returned to action on March 27, 2008, in the Nuggets’ 118–105 home win over the Dallas Mavericks. ” Wikipedia

If Nenê returned to action after 73 days and Taillon has already resumed some baseball activities, is the 73 days after the surgery date of May 8th too far of a stretch if all goes well?   Call the ceiling for his return Thursday July 20th.

Anibal Sanchez for $5M

The message boards are fired up about Huntington’s “$5M extra money” that he’d be willing to spend at the deadline. How could this work?   The lineup is pretty solid except for the shortstop and there is nothing at shortstop out there worth trading for.  The bench is already loaded, especially once Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte get back and Adam Frazier needs a place to play.  Barring an injury there isn’t a giant void.

The starting rotation, also barring injury, should have Cole/Nova/Kuhl/Glasnow/Williams with the possibility of Taillon as well as Steven Brault and Clay Holmes who are pitching well in Indy.  Not much of an opportunity there either.

The bullpen is the obvious place to upgrade.  It’s even more obvious since Tony Watson and Juan Nicasio might be sold high at the deadline opening two more spots.    Let’s pretend only Watson is sold at the deadline, like only Mark Melancon and not Neftali Feliz was dealt last year.    Here’s what we’d be looking at:

Nicasio
Rivero
Hudson
Edgar Santana*
Wade LeBlanc
Jhan Marinez
Johnny Barbato

* assuming Edgar Santana (see below) will be brought up after the Super Two deadline.

We could deal for another Rivero type who could be a piece for several years, but what if we traded for another Nova and just stashed him in the bullpen?   Enter Anibel Sanchez….

Anibal Sanchez is more similar to AJ Burnett than Ivan Nova.    Sanchez has had success before but he’s had two bad seasons and might need a change of scenery.    The negatives are that the results have been awful, he’s had shoulder troubles, and he’s expensive for this year with an expensive option next year.   The possible upside is a) he still gets strikeouts b) his groundball rate is very low c) he’s had a crazy high HR/FB rate d) he’s had terrible defense and pitch framing catchers and e) the acquisition would be cheap.

Sanchez is supposedly a team favorite and is Venezuelan (see: F. Cervelli, J. Osuna) with a Puerto Rican wife.   If we could stash him in the bullpen and use the next couple months to evaluate him he could be another 3 WAR starter in 2017 that we acquire for nothing.  He has an expensive option next year but Nova would be worth a lot more than $8M right now and the Tigers could send some money along.

Santana is the new Watson

Quiz for you Pirates fans… who was the last good Pirates relief pitcher who was a Pirates prospect that came up from the minors as a reliever not a starter?   This would exclude any player acquired in a trade acquisition like Rivero or Melancon or Grilli or Hanrahan, etc.

It was Tony Watson AT THE SUPER TWO DEADLINE in 2011.    This garnered the Pirates an extra year of control without Watson hitting Super Two like his buddy Jared Hughes did.

You may or may not have heard of Edgar Santana but here’s his current AAA line:

IP

25.1

Ks

25

BBs

5

WHIP

0.67

ERA

0.36

He has a plus slider with a good fastball and command.   He could help NOW, but he’s so good that waiting a couple weeks to get another year of cheap control is why he isn’t currently in the majors.

Neal Huntington show wrap

This week’s Neal Huntington show on Sunday had some pretty good gems.   Here’s three of note:

1) Huntington wants Gift as starting SS.   He said that Gift is “the best defensive shortstop” on the team (as well as the best 2B).  But he says they “see more in his bat” and how he’s so new to batting against RHPs as a RHH hitter after hitting RHPs as a LHH his whole career before last year.  Basically the goal is to get him back to AAA to play and hit everyday so he could be a Gold Glove shortstop with an acceptable bat (i.e. Andrelton Simmons).  Here’s his splits up to now so you can see Huntington’s point:

GIFT Handed Splits

vs RHP as LHB

vs RHP as RHB

vs LHP as RHB

2009

148

51

2010

205

77

2011

79

21

2012

356

182

2013

253

129

2014

306

193

2015

0

271

80

2016

0

250

129

2017

0

126

44

Total

1347

647

906

2) Ray Searage told Steve Blass that a dream he had might have helped out Tyler Glasnow. Searage was dreaming about Glasnow, who was starting off on the right side of the rubber against RHHs and pulling his head up at the last minute to throw inside pitches.   So the next day Searage moved him over to the middle of rubber against RHHs for last game and he could see inside of plate for first time and didn’t pull his head up.

3) Greg Brown kept talking about the batting order and how it’s comprised and was asking if McCutchen might be moved down.   Huntington said without saying that Cutch was in the 3rd spot because of the fact that he’s not hitting well and the 3rd spot often comes to bat with the bases empty and two outs, while the 4th spot hits with more RISP (occupied by the hotter hitter Josh Bell).    The comment was somewhat lost to Brown.

Mayo draft tease

I sat down with the Mel Kiper of the MLB, Jonathan Mayo, last week to talk Pirates’ draft 2017.    I’ll have more quotes from him in my draft preview.   Here’s a video tease:

About Michael Bradley (62 Articles)
Michael is a Pirates contributor to The Point of Pittsburgh. Michael is former submarine officer and Naval Academy grad. He now runs a small consulting firm and does veteran related job fairs. He is a SABR member and regularly attends Altoona Curve games to scout the Pirate prospects.
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