Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Tween game look at 2016 line up

It is just hours away from October baseball and for the third year in a row the Pirates are in the playoffs. Just to pass sometime between the double header today I thought it would be fun to take another look at some line up possibilities for 2016.

The outfield is and will be set for a number of years with Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen and Gregory Polanco as the starting three. The Pirates have some minors depth and Josh Harrison as a 4th outfielder but I am hoping they can sign Travis Snider to a small one maybe two year contract.

At first base we are looking again a Pedro Alverez and Mike Morse assuming one or both do not get moved. Bell is another possibility if one of the two get moved.

Second base is pretty steady with Neil Walker with Josh Harrison and possibly Alen Hanson backing him up.

Short stop we have Jordy Mercer and Jung Ho Kang. Mercer will get the early nod due to his defense and Kangs recent injury but his leash will be short. He starts the season off below the Mendoza line Kang will be take over.

A Healthy Kang puts him at third to start the season otherwise Harrison will be in. If Kang moves to short to take over for a struggling Mercer, Harrison will be here.

Between second, short and third the Pirates have a lot of talent. It would not be surprising if one or more get moved in the off season for a pitcher or first basemen

Catcher is no mystery. Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart with Diaz and Sanchez ready to fill in if needed.

The starting rotation is another story that we will save for another time.


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Pittsburgh Pirates, Early look into 2016.

Things are looking pretty up for the team with what appears to be few holes. the biggest questions are first base and Pitchers. Lets take a quick run around the diamond

Francisco Cervelli .307/.375/.429 with a 3.1 WAR
Chris Stewart .295/.333/.352 with a 0.78 WAR
Tony Sanchez .375/.444/.375 with a 0.2WAR in 3 Games
Elias Diaz .265 in AAA

The Catcher position is pretty set for the next couple years. Cervelli and Stewart are hear through next year and have taken over for Martin much better than expected. What they have lacked on defense they more than make up for with the bat.

Sanchez is the insurance policy, who could be expendable.

2017 forward look for Diaz and McGuire to take over while maybe buffered by a 1 year deal or Sanchez.

First Base

Mike Morse .220/.289/.311 about a 0.0 WAR
Pedro Alvarez .255/.318/.470 with a 0.01 WAR
Josh Bell .313 in AAA

Despite Pedro's recent hot bat, Morse gets the nod here based on his defense alone. Morse has also greatly improved his performance so far with the Pirates looking more like what he was with the Giants than his time with the Marlins this year. If Morse gets the playing time and can get back to where he was last year.. Morse is the clear choice.

Pedro is going to be shopped this offseason. his contract is to large for a player who cannot play defense on a NL team. When he is on one of his hot streaks (like he is right now) then his bat makes up the difference. But this year especially those hot streaks are few and far between.

Bell probably won't make it out of spring but if he can field better than Pedro then he will be in town sometime in the summer. Like Pedro he is still learning the position but he is also younger and much cheaper.

In my opinion the Pirates should take whatever they can get for Pedro this offseason and go for someone like Chris Davis hard. If that falls through try to resign Garrett Jones or Corey Hart to minor league deals and hope they pull through.

Second Base

Neil Walker .265/.324/.427 with a 1.5 WAR
Josh Harrison .279/.313/.384 with a 0.6 WAR
Alen Hanson .267 in AAA

Walker is Old reliable. You can expect about .270 and 15+ home runs if he is healthy. He is a solid but nothing special on defense and a solid all round ball player.

Josh Harrison will probably be the odd man out if Kang continues to perform do to Josh's versatility and Kang's defense. Josh will see time at second, short, third and the outfield and maybe moonlight as a pitcher similar to the 2014 season and will probably play most every day once the season gets rolling.

Alan Hanson should see a few at bats this September and maybe be on the 25 man midsummer at second and short. His defense is still in question.


Jordy Mercer .242/.289/.315 with a -0.1 WAR
Jung Ho Kang .284/.360/.443 with a 3.5 WAR
Josh Harrison .279/.313/.384 with a 0.6 WAR
Alen Hanson .267 in AAA

Mercer wins out purley on his defense putting Kang at third. Mercer is a notorious slow starter he was in a middle of heating up when he got injured this season which is why his batting line is so low compared to his career numbers.

Expect to see Kang at short and Harrison at third quite a bit to start the season off.

Again Hanson may be on the 25 man in the summer to provide some extra relief.

Third Base

Jung Ho Kang .284/.360/.443 with a 3.5 WAR
Josh Harrison .279/.313/.384 with a 0.6 WAR

Kang wins out because it looks like he is a bat you need to keep in the line up and Harrison can play a handful of other positions well enough. Early on expect to see Harrison to get quite a bit of time at third until Mercer starts heating up in June.


Starling Marte .286/.338/.451 with a 3.6 WAR
Andrew McCutchen .296/.398/.507 with a 3.9 WAR
Gregory Polanco .261/.331/.389 with a 1.7 WAR
Josh Harrison .279/.313/.384 with a 0.6 WAR
Travis Snider .237/.318/.341 with a 1.0 WAR (in Baltimore)
Josh Bell .313 in AAA

Starling Marte is probably the most complete outfielder on the team. That is saying quite a bit. He will be in Left or Center.

Andrew McCutchen is a better bat than Marte (so far) but doesn't have or at least hasn't displayed his speed as much. Marte's presence in left has also dropped McCuthens defensive stats, probably because he has less work to do. In theory you can swap Marte and Cutch in the outfield but it is probably best to leave them where they are comfortable unless an injury forces your hand.

Gregory 'don't let them tell you I can hit lefties' Polanco appears to have figured it out and is coming on strong at the plate and hasn't made as many big blunders in right. Watching him run is like watching a deer run across a field just majestic. Then the deer tries to slow down and falls on his face. Humor aside he is a great talent and expect above average player

Harrison will see plenty of time at the corners.

Travis Snider will hopefully stay with the club and be the left handed bench bat he excelled at in 2014 with good defense.

Again Bell will probably be called on midsummer and get a few innings in the OF.

Starting Pitchers

Gerrit Cole 14-7, 155 Innings, 2.61 ERA with a 3.2 WAR
Fransico Liriano 8-6, 142 Innings, 3.35 ERA with a 2.4 WAR
Charlie Morton 7-4, 88 Innings, 4.36 ERA with a 0.1 WAR
Jeff Locke 6-7, 129 Innings, 4.31 ERA with a -0.3 WAR
Vance Worley 4-5, 69 Innings, 3.78 ERA with a 0.2 WAR

The top 3 will be in the rotation baring injury. Locke and Worley may not depending on what the team does in the offseason and how prospects perform. Barring injury Glasnow and Taillon should be about ready. Possibly but doubtful start the season in the rotation.

There are also a large number of pitching free agents hitting the market. Some big names like Cueto. But also some other names like A.J. Burnett. While Batman said he would retire after this season.. he often says things about his career that does not happen as expected. If he comes out of this injury healthy expect the Pirates to offer him a fair 1 year deal.

No matter how you look at the starting pitching. Much of the failure this year is not the pitching. The Pirates defense this year has been horrible. I expect it to get a better next year and pitchers like Morton and Locke to have better stat lines because of it. They may not be Aces but they are better pitchers than their stats suggest and probably would have resulted in an extra win or 3.


Mark Melancon 1.58 ERA, 38 Saves, 2 blown saves, 47 Games, 57 Innings with a 1.0 WAR
Tony Watson 2.28 ERA, 56 Games, 55 Innings with a 1.1 WAR
Jared Hughes 2.41 ERA, 59 Games, 52 Innings with a 0.8 WAR
Arquimedes Caminero 3.43 ERA, 55 Games, 57 Innings with a 0.4 WAR

Other Minors options are available as well and many free agent options including three on our current 25 man. Blanton, Bastardo and Soria. Soria will probably not resign because he could and probably should be a closer somewhere. Blanton is a possible resign but probably wont' get the money he is looking for and Bastardo isn't well liked by most in Pittsburgh. There are quite a few others though that could be considered to give the big two in Melancon and Watson more break than Hughes will provide.

One of Locke Or Worley could get pushed back in the bullpen again however if that happens I feel the Pirates will try to trade Worley to give him more of a starting opportunity elsewhere.

Over all things look pretty good for the team. They are not forced to make any big moves this offseason and their payroll can still stay fairly low and could give them the flexibility to spend a little more to extend or bring in a full time first basemen or starting pitcher but don’t expect them to increase their payroll by 20 million on new free agent players.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Some Pirates team stats

The Pittsburgh Pirates have the third best record in the major leagues behind the St. Louis Cardinals and the Kansas City Royals. That also puts them second best in the National League.

The Pirates are 16th in runs scored, 24th in walk percentage and 14th in on base percentage. It is fairly safe to say the Pirates offense is right around average over all.

The Pirates are 3rd in innings pitched, first in Ground ball percentage and second in ERA. It is fairly safe to say the Pirates have one of the best pitching staffs in Major League baseball.

The Pirates rank 26th in the MLB in total defense according to Fan graphs while giving up more runs due to error than anyone except for Oakland.

Of the Pirates semi-regulars only a handful have a positive UZR. Those players are Marte, Polanco, and Mercer. Kang has a positive UZR at third base and Rodriguez does at first. For comparison, every regular on the Cardinals has a positive UZR except Peralta.

So the Pirates over all have a fairly average offense, a great pitching staff and miserable defense. 

What does this mean really? Stats are just that stats, they tell you what has happened in the past to give you an idea of what may happen in the future. They are numbers on paper that do not determine how a player plays and do not tell the whole story but they can almost always give you a general idea what to look for.

At the trade deadline the Pirates had the right idea.  Pick up people to cover for injuries, plug a hole in the bull pen before it gets overly exposed and put a band-aid on the biggest hole on the defense.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

'extracting' pages from Adobe Reader

Adobe Reader free version does not have an option to extract or save individual pages of documents.  It is just a reader really not much else.  Simple way around that issue is to get some thing like CutePDF (beware the AdWare on install) and print the individual pages.

May seem like a well duh notion but quite a few people forget... it happens.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Brief recent history of Pirates first basemen, the future?

The Pirates need for a first basemen is great. The Pirates haven't had a good first basemen to start the season since Adam LaRoche in 2009. Adam was a good hitter with 20+ home runs and a decent average. He was also pretty good in the field, in fact he went on to win the Gold Glove in a great defensive season in 2012, though he wasn't that good while on the Pirates team.

Our next first basemen was Garrett Jones. Garrett had(has) good power potential and was hitting at a decent average. He wasn't the worst at first but he wasn't great either. In 2011 he didn't play many games at first due the Pirates getting Lyle Overbay. (next) Again, while he wasn't hitting as good he was 'okay' at first but surely not the best. In 2012 and 2013 we have more of the same fielding is consistently nothing exciting Not anything special but won't lose many games. In his career with the pirates he has gotten over 15 home runs each season flirting with 30 once and over .270 average twice.

In 2011 the pirates signed Lyle Overbay to play first and moved Garrett to the out field most of the time. While generally a better fielder than Garrett everything else was not as good. This along with his salary lead to his release in the following off season.

Before the 2012 season started the Pirates traded Jose Veras to the Brewers for Casey McGehee. Casey had a couple great hitting seasons with the brewers and it seemed the search for a first basemen was over. Casey was great at fielding the first base position compared to what we have been used too but couldn't do anything at the plate struggling to stay above the Mendoza line. Casey was traded at the dead line that year to the Yankees for Chad Qualls. Casey was then granted free agency at the end of the year.

2013, remember 2013 oh yeah things are looking up now. Gaby Sanchez started the season for us at first. Gaby is a good first basemen. Pretty steady and doesn't make many mistakes. His problem is his bat. There was early hopes that he would be able to live up to his early hype but there was no such luck. It was bad enough they they traded for Justin Morneau at a fairly high cost to the team. Justin ended up playing 25 games for the Pirates at first and fielded really well. Justin did not resign with the Pirates after the season and won the NL batting title the next year.

In 2014 the Pirates started the season with a Gaby Sanchez and Travis Ishikawa platoon at first. It didn't work at all and this was known early in the spring. In the first few weeks of the season the Pirates traded for Ike Davis from the Mets for two prospects. It wasn't much better offensively but defensively it was okay. Ike was moved to Oakland in the offseason.

In 2015 we have Pedro Alvarez. To Pedro's credit.. he is trying really hard but it is coming slowly. Pedro can hit the ball as far as anyone, when he hits it. He is learning plate discapline slowly but surely but to call him a good or above average hitter would be a reach i'm not willing to take right now. Maybe in a year or two if he keeps improving. Pedro's defensive skills at first also leave something to be desired. He may one day be a gold glover at first but it will take a lot of work and a lot of luck.

The Future?

In the future the Pirates have little in the way of options internally. At one point Tony Sanchez was tried at first in the minor leagues but that idea was dropped. Right now Josh Bell is being taught first. Josh is hitting the ball rather well, though with limited power right now. We could see him at first at the end of the 2015 if not then probably 2016 sometime.

There are few first basemen that are available in trade that would be a significant upgrade to Pedro that is cost effective. Ryan Howard is a bit better defensively and right now is hitting the ball fairly well. Like Pedro he will strike out a lot though. While he would be bit of an upgrade his $40 sum million left on his contract (with buy out) is far to cumbersome for the Pirates. Even if the Phillies eat all but $10 Million it still isn't a large enough upgrade to justify.

Mike Napoli may also be available trade target. He has shown in the past he can hit and hit with a bit of power. He has also shown he can get on base at a decent clip. Mike is also a fair first basemen compared to what we have been working with. Mike is in the last year of his contract due a total of $16 million If Boston would eat half of his remaining contract it wouldn't be the worst deal ever. With the way Mike is playing right now it is more of a side grade than an upgrade.

Justin Morneau seems to be the best target. He didn't do well in his time in Pittsburgh but he doesn't cost much more than Pedro, has a mutual option for 2016 and better than Pedro in pretty much every way at first base except for maybe power. The big issues with Justin are that he probably will not take up his option making him a rental and that he is currently on the DL. If his health checks out and Colorado can talk him into accepting the option this would be a great deal to give Bell another season to learn first.

Chris Davis. Not going to happen. Baltimore won't trade him in the middle of a playoff run unless they feel that Matt Wieters will be better served at first. It is doubtful but the way Caleb Joseph is coming on it is a remote possibility. Chris's salary is fairly high for the Pirates to swallow but he can field well and has shown he can hit in the past and has some monster power like Pedro. Over all Davis would be a stat for stat upgrade over Pedro especially on defense. Also Chris would be a rental, Like Pedro he is a Boras client and probably would not be resigned.

This is an internal option, but last on my list. Neil Walker. Of all the players currently on the everyday line up Neil would be the best choice to move to first. Neil is a ball player not a catcher, third basemen or even second basemen. He will just play and do a fair job at it. This makes the most since if Pedro is not on the team because they could move Josh Harrison to second and insert Jung Ho Kang at third.  This also frees up a spot to bring Alen Hanson up when he is ready.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Trading Jordy Mercer, Naa.

The Pirates have a bunch of infield talent in their system as I talked about in a previous posting. Neil Walker, Josh Harrison, Jung Ho Kang, Sean Rodriguez and Jordy Mercer to cover the second base, third base and shortstop positions (and some out field too)

In the Minor Leagues you have Alen Hanson working his way up probably in late July or August. In upcoming seasons you have Cole Tucker ( ETA 2018) and JaCoby Jones (ETA 2016). Who maybe able to stick at shortstop. In the 2015 draft the Pirates picked two shortstops and two third basemen in the first 8 picks. Two of which in the first round. Okay so like with Walker, there is a log jam of player talent that could be pushing him out of a job.

So... why keep Mercer?

First and probably most importantly he can play some defense and do it fairly well. He hasn't shown to be a gold clover, at least not any time soon but he is better than average. In fact in 2014 he lead the NL in Total Zone runs at short, second in Assists and 4th in Fielding Percentage at short. So far in 2015 he isn't far off from those numbers again. Really he is the lone bright spot on the Pirate infield so far in 2015, defensively speaking.

Second he can hit decently. Yeah you might think I am crazy. But Mercer is a late bloomer every season so far. For his career the first half of the season he is .237/.286/.338 and in the second half he is .280/.337/.454. That leads to a career .254/.306/.383. While it is not a stat line that takes you to the hall of fame his second half numbers are better than average while his first half numbers are really pulled down by very poor March/April/May where he hits for a .208 average for his career. If you take out March/April/May from his batting stats he hits for ~.274 in his career. That is nothing to shake a stick at, especially at the short stop position.

Third and probably most importantly for the front office... he is cheap. Only making about $540,000 this season which is sure to go way up after he is eligible for arbitration. If I had to guess a team with a need for a decent short stop who can hit he is worth $8-10 Million a year, but that is just a guess.

Lastly he has low value right now because he is a slow starter. His value is increasing game by game, hit by hit and by the deadline many teams would be interested.

Why Trade him?

The first reason to trade Mercer would be to clear up some room for more playing time for Kang and later Hanson. This problem could be partially solved by trading any one of the infielders though. It could also be reduced by keeping Hanson down until September. Though Hanson's bat may press the issue.

Second, as the deadline gets closer Mercer should be hitting much better and his trade value should be much higher. With an expected better than average bat, a good glove and on top of that dirt cheap with control he will have a high value. Maybe not as much as a healthy Hamels but still pretty high.

If a contender needs a shortstop here is your guy. If a team is rebuilding and needs to shed some salary, here is your guy.

As the Pirates I wouldn't shop him around specifically, I would tell other teams that we have extra infielders and if they want one of them push Walker instead. That is unless they come back with a crazy offer for Mercer.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Trading Pedro Alvarez, finally?

Pirates fans have a love/hate relationship with Pedro Alvarez. He is one of the streakiest players in the majors who generally strikes out a ton and hits the ball for a mile. In the field there are few that try harder but trying and doing are two different things.

Pedro as a third basemen has been a disaster. I had hopes that an upgraded first basemen would make Pedro better but it didn't. Now Pedro is at first, while he is doing okay for a player that has hardly played first base it hasn't been great. Too often his puppy dog syndrome from playing third all those years kicks in and he goes after balls he shouldn't leaving first uncovered. Once he gets past that issue I think he will be a slightly below average first basemen that is acceptable to have in your starting line up provided he is hitting.

Calling Pedro streaky is an understatement. He will go 2 months with out doing much of anything then get on a 2 week roll hitting the ball so hard that Jose Canseco has to stop him and ask what he is taking. So when you look at his stats when he tied for the NL Home Run lead it really isn't too surprising to see he batted .233/.296/.473 with 36 HR and league leading 186 strike outs.

There is an upside. It seems Pedro is improving. So far this year Pedro has only has 52 strike outs which would be a career low if he keeps that pace. He is starting to punish teams hitting the other way when shifting on him but not enough to make them stop doing it. As we know with Pedro everything is a slow process with him. I predict that when he is 31 he will be similar to Jose Bautista.

Okay so why trade him? First it will be near impossible to sign an extension with Boras with his agent. Pedro makes close to $6 Million as a reward for being near the league leaders in strike outs per at bat.

In my opinion there are a couple reasons why he is still on the team. First we like Pedro and want to give him every chance to succeed as we can. Second we have no other real options at first base besides Corey Hart and Sean Rodriguez. No one needs a sub par fielding third/first basemen or a DH right now. Lastly the Pirates don't want to sell him 'low' hoping he will get better which he has shown signs he is.

The Pirates have been grooming Josh Bell for the first base role. We should get to see him in the fall. Bell will hit for average but not much in the way of power. Other than that there is not much excitement in the minors for anyone else playing first.

If the Pirates make any moves at the trade deadline for a first basemen expect to see Pedro gone by next spring training.

Trading Neil Walker sooner than later.

The Pittsburgh Kid, Neil Walker has been one heck of a better than average player for the Pirates since he came in to the majors. He is a solid if not unspectacular fielder he makes nearly all the plays he should and every once in a while pulls off a gem or blunder. He is a solid if not one of the better hitting second basemen in the majors. He could also be an emergency catcher if it ever go to that point.. luckily it hasn't.

So why trade him? Again, as with many roster moves it comes down to money. This year Walker is making $8 million via arbitration and if he has a similar season expect that number to be over $10 million next year. That number is bound to keep increasing until 2017 when he is a free agent at 31 years old. While still a fair deal for a good hitting catcher turned third basemen turned second basemen it is still a good portion of the Pirates budget and the Pirates have other options.

As of right now the Pirates have Josh Harrison, Jordy Mercer, Jung Ho Kang and Sean Rodriguez who can all play Second, Third and Short (and some Outfield too). All 4 of those players make about half or less than Neil. All of those players have also been fighting for playing time. Harrison and Kang should also have similar effectiveness from the plate. Only from the right side of the plate instead of Neil's switch hitting.

In the minors you have Alen Hanson working his way up probably late this summer. Comparing Alen's and Neil's Minor League stats Alen is working his way through much faster, is a better bat but not as good defensively as Neil was in the minors. Alen is also a switch hitter if he can improve is defense and keep up the effort....

Also in the line to come up the next couple years, Cole Tucker and JaCoby Jones. Again like the outfield there is a log jam of talent. If you can save $5 million and get similar performance then you do it.

As much as I like Neil Walker and want to see him retire in the black and gold, in my opinion the only way Neil Walker stays a Pirate after this season is if he takes a substantial home town discount on an extension and signs for less than $10 million buying out arbitration.

Trading Andrew McCutchen.. Say What?

Yeah I know really. Trade Andrew McCutchen? It won't happen any time soon and if it did I would be marching up to the Pirates front office with a pitch fork looking for the witch that is controlling their minds. Cutch is a superstar.. well would be if he was in a larger market.

But lets look at this for a minute from a money stand point. Andrew costs $10 million this year. Starling Marte (assumed to be Andrews replacement) won't cost $10 ($3.3 million next year) million until 2019. Andrew has about $42 million left for 3 more years counting options. Marte has about $51 Million left for 6 more years. Both contracts end in their early 30's . Andrew is about near his peak, While Marte is still getting better (though his strike outs this year are scary but pen that up to his new role). There is about a 1 Game Win above replacement (WAR) difference for last year.

It almost makes sense to sell Cutch when he is high assuming he finishes the season strong. It especially makes since when you have a cheap replacement in Marte and a log jam of talent in the outfield. Assuming the minor league talent pans out in September....

So what can you get in trade for an Andrew McCutchen? Pretty simple really.. anyone not named Mike Trout to any team in search for a superstar out fielder that is relatively cheap. Given the Outfield talent available in the minors and in free agency and a glaring hole at first base it would be crazy not to explore the option. It would be even crazier to act on it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Pirate trade targets

The MLB Amateur Draft has passed which means the All-Star break is not too far away. This also means that the trade deadline is right around the corner. There are few players pegged as trade candidates that the Pirates should defiantly make a run for. The most glaring need is a starting pitcher.

Cole Hamels PHI : Cole Hamels trade talk has been around for a while now but the asking price has been way too high along with his $95.5 million salary through 2019 after this season (if option vests) make any trade very unlikely. However it was recently noted that the Phillies are willing to take on a portion of his salary. If this is true and if they would take on $5 million or more per season the Pirates may want to reconsider. Hamels is an ace in his prime. It is not very often players of his caliber are available. His salary for his ability is not totally unreasonable. Considering they are paying $13.5 million for Liriano, paying $15 Million for Hamels would be a great bargain.

The big reason I can see to go all in on Hamels is that once you got him you have him for years to come unlike most other trade candidates

Johnny Cueto CIN : Johnny should be a relatively cheap rental. Whatever team gets him needs to understand that unless they open the check book he will be gone after the season. He is a great pitcher and also really good in PNC Park, not counting the wild card game. He is a career 10-2 with a 1.91 ERA and .951 WHIP in PNC. By the time he is traded he should be owed around $5 million seems like a decent price if he is able to give you 10 decent starts in the regular season. Also with stats like that in PNC park he might be more inclined to resign but I doubt the Pirates would give him the $22-25 Million/year he will likely fetch

Mike Leake CIN : Mike is another rental who also pitches well in PNC. He isn’t an ace like Hamels or Cueto but he has fair stuff at the back of the rotation who should be a pretty good inning eater while keeping the team in the game most of the time. He has had a fairly rough start to start the season so his price might be lower than one would expect.

Aaron Harang PHI : Aaron has been doing great his first third of the season with a 2.02 ERA and a 0.995 WHIP which are better numbers than Hamels so far. Harang’s cheap $5 million contract could make him a trade for him the best trade if he finishes the season anywhere near the pace he is on now.

Dan Haren MIA: Dan is over all is doing pretty well this season with a 3.03 ERA and 1.043 WHIP is pretty attractive over 10 starts. His $10 Million in salary is paid by the Dodgers so it might be hard to pry this one way

Bartolo Colon NYM : Bartolo’s Wins, K’s and Whip are all pretty good however his ERA is well above 4 almost 5. The Mets are still in the race despite their injuries. I have my doubts the 42 year old right hander will be available. If the price is right it is worth a look but I have a suspicion the Mets will be in the race until September.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Russell Martin vs Francisco Cervelli better value?

Over a quarter of the season has passed so it is time for the inevitable Russell Martin and Francisco Cervelli comparison.

Of course the big thing to note about the players is that Martin is making $7 Million this year (first year of an $82 Million 5 year contract) while Cervelli is making $1 Million this year entering arbitration next year.

Martin is Batting .267/.353/.473 with 7 HR€™s, 11 doubles a triple 24 RBIs, and 29 Runs over 190 plate appearances. If he was doing that in Pittsburgh I would be extremely happy.

Cervelli is batting .314/.385/.393 with 1 HR, 8 doubles 14 RBIs and 15 Runs over 157 plate appearances. While I would like some more power.. I a€™m very happy with that with the associated price tag comparison.

Martin has a .997 fielding percentage with 1 error in 345 chances in 383 innings. He also leads the AL (and MLB) in the number of players caught stealing at 18 at 50%. Pretty amazing, he also played a couple innings at second base this year€. I a€™m sure Russell loved that.

Cervelli is .994 fielding percentage with 2 errors in 343 chances in 348 innings. Cervelli is also among the league leaders in caught stealing with 13 but with only a 28% rate. League average is 28%. This is pretty run of the mill for catchers. Base runners are testing him for sure, they will continue to do so until he proves he can throw them out.

Offense is kinda a wash right now, with Martin having more power and Cervelli better average but Martin is clearly a superior defensive catcher.

The real question who has the better value? Over this year probably Martin so far (given $7 Million) but if you take in to account the length and overall cost of Martin'€™s contract Cervelli gets the win here. Cervelli is still in his arbitration years and will probably hit a max of $5 million next year and under $10 million for 2017 assuming he keeps up this pace and does not get injured. Next year Russell Martian'€™s contract goes to $15 million and then $20 million a year in 2017 through 2019.

I love Russell Martin, I wish he would have stayed in the black and gold, but so far Cervelli has provided better value.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Best Home and Small office switch for the money.

Absolutely has to be the NetGear Business-Class and ProSafe switches.  These little blue all metal wonders are cheap, reliable and constant.    I’ve been using various models and revisions of these for about 10-12 years between the 4port and 16 port range in various applications and they just work.

You buy one.  That’s it, you won’t buy another because you won’t need to replace it under normal circumstances.  I still have a 10/100MB 8 port I purchased many many years ago in my closet as a spare.  If you do need to replace one it is almost always because you need more ports or are upgrading to a new/different technology (Fiber, POE, 10GbE, etc..)

The metal housing helps dissipate any heat generated.  Due to there basic flat squared of shape they are easily mounted most anywhere I have even seen one model welded to the side of a case for a LAN party server. The activity lights are fairly bright but not overly and can be easily masked.  These little buggers also are silent as well.

Newegg and Amazon often has sales on the 5 port version and you often seem them for $19.99 after promotions.  Prices scale up with more ports, anything over 16 ports you are probably looking for a more enterprise type switch.

If you just need a basic switch, for the price there is nothing better.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Making a Case for Jose Tabata

I am not a big fan of Jose Tabata. Like most Pirate fans I have been extremely disappointed in his play and not playing to the contract and salary he has... or.. is he?

Probably the most often issue with Jose is his defense. It isn't very good.... or.. is it?

Since 2012 Jose has played over 3,300 innings with 676 defensive chances and 3 errors. His career fielding percentage is .992. For a comparison, Mike Trout's fielding percentage is .991, Andrew McCutchen's is .988 and Starling Marte's is .968.

Jose can't hit!... or can he? Maybe?

Jose hit .299/.346./.400 his first year in 2010, in that year he struck out 57 times out of 441 plate appearances and 28 walks. Of his 121 hits that year only 29 where extra base hits. So yeah pretty much a singles hitter that makes some contact.

2011 and 2012 (especially 2012) where not nearly as good partially due to injury but also a typical 'sophomore slump' that happens to many young players. Jose hit .243/.315/.348 in 2012. Andrew McCutchen went .259/.364/.456 in his third full season and was named an All Star. Not as big of a drop off Jose had, but Andrew did play nearly everyday and didn't have any major injuries.

2013 Jose showed he was still the same as his rookie year at the plate getting going .282/.342/.429 and in 2014 a little worse because of much less playing time he did .282/.314/.333

In 2015 Spring after getting some tips from Marlon Byrd he was (and still is) driving the ball instead of dribbling and beating out throws. This will eventually lead to more extra bases for him. So far this spring at AAA Indianapolis he is hitting .338/.404/.388 but still only 3 extra base hits. Still a fairly small sample. But also shows he is not far off from where we extended him at and is still working to improve.

Jose cannot run... well he cannot run as fast as Marte.

This should say Jose cannot steal, at least much. Whatever happened he isn't as fast as he used to be. He still has some good quickness but clearly the speed isn't there any more. This shows in his steal attempts and range in the out field.

Jose's effort is just not there

I'm not sure if it is that or if it is something else.. but yeah he does have some mental lapses. Short hoping balls he should have caught, not running out plays, getting kissy lips tattooed on his neck all are pretty big mental lapses in my book.

Personally I think it has something to do with playing for a losing team, getting paid and just not caring. Ever since the Pirates started winning I noticed the way he approaches the game is a bit different.

There is no room for Jose on the Pirates roster.

But there is room for Andrew Lambo? The only reason Lambo got the roster spot is that he has played a few games at first base (he is not a first basemen) and he bats left. Interesting Fact. Jose hits righties better than lefties over his MLB career. It would be a true statement that the Pirates have the best starting out field in baseball and there is very little chance for him to get any significant playing time.

Jose is a Cancer in the dugout.

I cannot speak to this fact but there was talk about in spring. If true this would a good reason to just cut ties.. pay him his money and just get him out of the system. Similar to what happened to Jerry Sands after he was suspended for allegedly going after some fans in the stands. Interesting fact, Jerry Sands can hit for power and has played quite a few games at first.

Jose huge Contract is cumbersome... or.. no?

Jose's extension would be a great deal if he actually played. Through the 2014 season he has made roughly $9.2 million. He is making $4 Million this season and next season $4.5 Million. A total of around $20 Million for 6 years of work assuming the Pirates buy him out of his final 3 years. For you and I that is a lot of money. For a MLB out fielder who gets on base, it isn't horrible. For a 4th outfielder it isnt' very good and they 'grow on trees' but if he where starting it would be about right. $20 Million for the production given for 6 years was/is an acceptable risk.

Bottom Line

There is no place for Jose to start in Pittsburgh with out some massive injuries hitting the team. Pirates fans have a bad taste for Jose in general. He IS better than we give him credit for and probably should be on someone's 25 man if not starting left fielder (he plays better in left). If the Pirates eat a few million off the remaining 2015 and 2016 salary a team in fair need should at least give Huntington a call.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Blocking YouTube Annotations

Annotations are a great feature for youtube publishers. They often add context, corrections or updates to the video which is great! The problem is that some abuse annotations to push you to other unwanted sites by adding large blank annotations that when you click takes you to a site you didnt want to go to when you only wanted to pause. Lucky for us there is a work around using AdBlock Plus. First install the AdBlock Plus extension (make sure you get the one by ) Once installed go into the Adblock Plus Options an then click the 'Add your own filters' tab on top. in the first box type in:
and then click Add Filter. Ta Da! you are done. Enjoy!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Bioware, PVP this about explains it

Net Neutrality and me.

So many people barking about the FCC, Net Neutrality and the Internet Freedom Act that makes it impossible to tell what is really going on.

Very few people read the regulations in their entirety (including myself) except for ISP's, their lawyers and the people that wrote them.

Some of us read enough to know that the FCC's regulations may (some day) fundamentally change how we as consumers get and use the Internet especially those services that use a lot of bandwidth ( NetFlix, Hulu,etc... )

Another portion of people have read the 5 page document highlighting the 300sum pages which does a fair job (found here )

Most of the population that are barking on this only go what the others are saying and is often just not true.

First the ISPs complaint.

They should be able to manage and use their network that they laid down and spent enormous amounts of money on how they choose.  If that means charging Netflix and extra 10% for their bloated videos that is saturating the network at peak times then that should be fine.  If that means blocking malicious packets from entering its network and protecting its users that should be fine.  If it means  slowing down Netflix during peak times so that the rest of its users can check their email in a reasonable fashion that should be fine.

That is not totally unreasonable.  companies like Comcast and Verizon spent Billions on Billions of us dollars to build the network they have and also spend billions to maintain it.  They might be very profitable companies but they also need to stay that way in order to provide and upgrade services in the future.

The Consumer complaint.

Pretty much boils down we want what we pay for.  We don't want to pay more for Netflix because Comcast wants to charge Netflix a little more for their data.  We want to get the things we want on the service we pay for and not have to worry it will be blocked.  Not really unreasonable.

What the highlight document says

  • ISP's cannot charge content providers extra for higher priority data.
  • ISP's cannot "UNREASONABLY" slow data based on its type 
  • ISPs cannot block access to any legal and non-harmful data.
  • ISP's still CAN prioritize data in order to maintain their network.
  • ISPs must be more transparent on what they are blocking and prioritizing.
  • And of course Title II.

For example.  During peak times Comcast can still slow down video feeds to make sure other services work properly.  Pretty much which ever service Comcast feels is more important they can give a higher priority.  Email, basic web access for example will get a high priority.  While Netflix may get a lower priority.   BUT instead of just complaining about it, you will know this is the case before hand because you will get to see what is going on because Comcast must be more transparent.  Then you can 'switch' providers if you so choose.

What does Title II mean for ISPs?
Well it is only a partial Title II, I don't work for the FCC and I am not a lawyer but it seems the FCC did not put some things from Title II in these regulations.

  • No new taxes on broadband
  • No new fees to ISP
  • No restrictions on pricing.
  • Does not add Broadband to the Universal Service Fund

  • Provides fair and better access to poles
  • Protections for consumers for discrimination or disabilities
  • Provides a forum to handle complaints
  • Expands the Universal Service Fund so it can eventually apply to broadband and that fund will not be paid into by the ISP at this time.  ( So where does the funds for this expansion come from? )

So other than Title II the average consumer will not notice a real difference now.  Your Comcast and Netflix bill probably will not go down. ( Rule of Acquisition number 1 : Once you have their money never give it back ).  Once it is fought through the courts and eventually the ISP lose you may see some increased buffering until technology catches up (Netflix becoming for efficient for example)

Sooner or later we will also see ISPs selling plans with limited amount of transfer similar to mobile data plans.  This would be for those users who just use facebook check email and such.    You may also see more cable companies offering their own Netflix type service so to keep the high usage traffic internal

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Unbricking a Surface Pro 3

I ran into a problem this week where we had a group of Surface Pro 3's that needed to be prepared for our network.  By mistake one of our staff (*cough* me) tried our normal image on the device and in the attempt to recover the staff member (me again) ended up turning the surface pro into an expensive paper weight.

All I was able to get the thing to do was power on to a BIOS screen.  Apparently in the process of "fixing" it I deleted or corrupted the partitions (including the recovery partition).

While looking for a recovery image, Microsoft's support site.. well it is garbage and would not allow me to download the recovery image.  On top of that their contact information either is not accurate or just does not work.

Eventually I realized.. I got 12 of these things here.  (all but 2 setup correctly) why don't I just create an image from that recovery drive.  Turns out Windows 8.x on the Surface Pros has built in utilities to create a USB Image from that partition! SWEET!

I ran the utility, rebooted in recovery mode did the full reset and in the next hour I was back to factory specs.

Later this week I will update this post with a link to download the image.  It is rather large and i'll need to find a place to put it.

To create the image I used the USB Image Tool from Alex's coding playground but I think you should be able to just copy the files over to a FAT32 formatted 8GB+ USB Drive.

To boot to the USB Recovery menu:

  1. Turn off power to the Surface Pro.
  2. Insert your USB Recovery drive
  3. Push and Hold Volume down.
  4. Tap the Power button to Turn the Surface Pro
  5. Once the 'Surface' logo (just the word Surface) displays on the screen.  Let go of the Volume down button.
  6. Follow the on screen instructions for a full Reset

Again Link for USB Recovery image should be available sometime this week.

I hope this helps someone.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Travis Snider Trade.

Travis Snider was traded to the Orioles for a pair of lefty pitching prospects.  I was immediately upset with this trade and here is why.

One thing the Pirates farm system is known for is depth including their pitching.  Adding two pitchers who won't be even to AAA for years seemed pointless when they could probably get similar from the Draft.  Especially when both of the guys have concerns from control to off the field.

After last years performance Travis Snider is a starter on many teams.  In fact he will probably be starting in Baltimore.  With out Travis there is no backup to Polanco should he fail to produce at the MLB level until mid summer when the Pirates consider bringing up new minor league players.

So my big problem.. why such low return for such a good player?  Turns out, it may not be such a low return and I need to #STFD.

The Pirates pitching depth is pretty good, however there are few lefties in the mix.  Adding two that have decent upside regardless of the concerns is not a horrible thing.  We know the Pirates have been great in recent years with taking problems and warping them in to advantages with a few exceptions of course.  If they can take the worst starting pitcher in the MLB and turn him into a an above average player (Edison) they should be able to mold tools in younger players as well.

Travis Snider did have good numbers last year.  Saved many bases with his defensive awareness gunning it to second keeping runners at first.  Not the best range but made up for it with his awareness and good arm.    The problem is that he only did it one year, expecting Travis to come out hit .300 and 35 HRs is a long shot but to see him come out .260 with 20 HRS will probably happen with the at bats.  I don't think we've see his total potential yet and is definitely a player that needs more at bats.

Travis was not going to see those at bats in Pittsburgh unless Polanco falls apart and Pittsburgh had one too many left handed bats.  Clearly Travis was going to be blocked from playing and was a Trade canidate.

The move gives two players with good upside in 4-5 years in a needed position (lefty pitchers) frees up right field for Polanco to get all the time he needs to adjust to MLB pitching and saves a few bucks ( I think around 1.5M? ).    It isn't a horrible trade off but it all comes down to Polanco as long as he isn't BAD then it is not a horrible trade and anything the pitchers do is bonus.  But if Polanco falls apart then this is going to be a long summer.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Pirates mid season call ups and trade bait.

After the quick prediction for opening day 25 man roster now we get to decide who comes up for the second half and push us back to the play offs.

A couple big names we should expect to see are pitchers Jameson Taillon and Nick Kingham.  Both of these guys should see a few innings in spot starts or some relief late June early July.  These guys both project to be mid or upper mid rotation guys at some point.  The reason I say June or July is to get an idea how they will handle MLB batters to determine if they will make any deals at the deadline.

Allen Hanson's 2015 status with the team is now in question with the signing of Kang.  BK (Before Kang) Hanson was almost a sure thing to make his debut in June or July.  Yes the Pirates made some other infield signings but none of them will be everyday starters unless something amazing happens, they are more for Bench and depth, because we know Walker will miss a couple weeks at some point and unless you are Cal Ripkin, everyone needs a day off from time to time.  Kang and Hanson are expected to play similar roles at 2nd,3rd, Short and maybe corner outfield.  If they are both preforming well the Pirates have a problem... a problem they can live with... too much talent.  Hanson will see some time in the MLB this season but he may have to wait until September unless there is a major injury.  That is not all that bad as it will give him a couple extra months to work on his game.

Anyone in the minors who learns first base well has a legit shot at making the team sooner than later.  I hope a Alvarez and Hart combo works well, but having someone who has 5 games of experience at first base and a player who has had a rough couple of years does not give me much confidence.  I'm looking at Josh Bell and Andrew Lambo primarily here.  Lambo got a shot last year but was pretty limited.

Diaz could also get a chance if one of the MLB catchers get injured but Tony Sanchez will most likely get the call.  Sanchez may not be the best but he is pretty stable with experience.

Now for the Trade bait.  If the MLB team is doing well all around, nearly every non-pitching prospect is available other than Meadows and Reese.  Meadows has to be kept in case Cutch walks after his contract.

If Kang and/or Hanson work out, Mercer will be dangled and possibly even Walker.  Walker being traded is not as likely because of the home town story but sill out there.

Pitching... Cole and Liriano are safe from trades, probably Taillon too.

It is still way early to make any real guesses but what we do know is that the team is in a good position with the only glaring question is if Pedro and Hart will cut it at first.

Climate Change in action

 From 2013

From this past month: (January 2015)

How many other eruptions spewing green house gasses and changing the chemical composition of the surrounding ocean waters are there?  I don't know, but probably thousands on the sea floor.  I'm by far from an expert in such things but if you tell me this does not have an effect on climate then I call you a liar.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Early Pirates Lineup and roster perdiction

Spring training is only a few weeks away finally!   And here is a simple prediction for what I feel the opening day line up will be.  Not much research behind.

1> Josh Harrison 3rd base
2> Gregory Polanco Right Field
3> Andrew McCutchen Center Field
4> Neal Walker 2nd Base
5> Pedro Alvarez 1st Base
6> Starling Marte Left Field
7> Francisco Cervelli Catcher
8> Jordy Mercer Short Stop
9> Pitcher

Starting Rotation:
Francisco Liriano
Garret Cole
AJ Burnett
Vance Worley
Jeff Loche

Antonio Bastardo
Jared Hughes
Tony Watson
John Holdzkom
Mark Melancon
Brandon Cumpton

Jung-Ho Kang
Sean Rodriguez
Travis Snider
Cory Hart
Chris Stewart
Andrew Lambo

Marte and Polanco could switch in the order as well as Walker and Alvarez depending how they are performing through spring and Cervelli could certainly move up if he shows his power wasn't a fluke.

where the real questions are the bottom of the rotation, Morton "could" be back by opening day but I suspect the team will want to play it safe givin his injury history and give him a couple of starts off.  Cumpton could beat out Loche for the last spot that would put Loche back in AAA.

Kang on the bench to start the season is expected to be able to play 2nd, 3rd, Short and possibly corner out field.  Basically the Korean version of J-Hay.  Sean Rodriguez is another of those utilities who has played every position except catcher and pitcher at the MLB level.  Snider will get some starts and plenty of pinch hit chances.  Hart will play against lefties and maybe some defensive situations.  Stewart will be the backup catcher to start with Sanchez poking in if there is an injury.

The last spot i'm not sure on.  If Lambo can play some first he may get the call. Pedro Florimon is also an option to be the regular backup short if Kang cannot handle MLB shortstop.