As we get ready for the Winter Meetings here are some thoughts that should be consumed with a beer or two, unless you are Jung-ho Kang.
Reds Rotation Reiteration?
My plan for the 2017 Pirates rotation would be to “go with the kids”. There is a precedent to this with the 2012 Reds.
I hope in 2017 that their starters of Cole, Taillon, Kuhl, Glasnow, Brault and Kingham (ages 26, 25, 24, 23, 25 and 25) copycat the 2012 Reds of Cueto, Latos, Bailey and Leake (ages 26, 24, 26 and 24). Even if the Bucs’ young arms couldn’t log all the innings the Reds did in 2012, just minimizing the number of starters from a ridiculous 14 in 2016 to a manageable 8 or 9 would be a great help.
Hanson’s youth not helping the Bucs
Alen Hanson was signed as a 17 year out of the Dominican on July 14, 2009. Based on that signing, he was exempt from the 40-man roster during the seasons of 2010-2013 and was added to the 40-man after the 2013 season. This gave him minor league options for the 2014-2016 seasons, but now he is officially out of options as a 24 year old. To give a comparison, the Pirates’ 2016 1st round pick, Will Craig, won’t be out of options until he is 27.
Based on Hanson’s 2016 he isn’t ready for the majors. As a non-power hitter, his batting average and OBP need to be higher than the .266 and .318 he logged this year (.300 and .350 would be nice) and while his 36 steals were nice, the 15 times caught stealing negated a lot of the positives.
But Hanson was only 23 in 2016. It would be easy to see him having a good first half in AAA and being brought up in June or July, but due to being out of options this won’t be the case. Maybe Hanson can become a starter after logging time on the ML bench alá Jordy Mercer?
Fuld for Fourth (Out)fielder?
During the last offseason no one was clamoring for the Pirates to sign Matt Joyce. Even after he was signed I looked at his 2014 and 2015 stats and was unimpressed. Then came the amazing 2016 where Joyce turned into a monster and just garnered a new two year contract with the A’s.
Let me audition Sam Fuld:
I see the Pirates bench as:
IF – David Freese
IF/OF – John Jaso
IF/OF – Adam Frazier
OF – Free agent
C – Chris Stewart
You can see that the current crop of outfielders are not the guys that are naturals at the position. Jaso in RF is still experimental at this time. Frazier is an athlete that is doing his best. That’s why I think a legitimate CF-quality outfielder as a backup would be a good addition. But not a player that couldn’t be cast aside if Meadows is ready at midseason.
Sam Fuld is known for a couple things. He’s a super defender in all three OF positions. He’s crazy smart and extremely likable. He’s a preparation king and is known for his use of video to help not only his hitting but also his defense. He would also be attainable on a 1 year minor league deal.
One of the ways that the Pirates could take a leap forward would be for Polanco and Marte to become the 5 and 6 WAR players they are capable of becoming. Learning Sam Fuld-type skills would be the way to do it and having the actual Sam Fuld to teach them would be even better.
It might not happen, but don’t be surprised to see Fuld or a Fuld type in spring training with the Bucs.
Pirate fans currently want to sell Cutch for a bag of balls after an injury plagued 2016. I think this is a corollary of the “backup quarterback effect” where a fan base just tires of a player or at least is painted in the media that way.
I just want to remind you that Andrew McCutchen is still on the potential Hall of Fame track. He’s already equaled Andy Van Slyke’s 41 career WAR and has the hitting tools and on-base skills to play into his mid 30’s.
The graph of wOBA vs age shows where Cutch and the others have been and where Cutch could go.
Based on hundreds of McCutchen comps I like:
- Ceiling – Chipper Jones
- Floor – Joe Carter
- Most Likely – Tim Raines or Andre Dawson.