Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Jonathan Sanchez banned from baseball for sucking at baseball

Jonathan Othniel Sanchez
1982 - 2013
That went about as we expected it to.

In all seriousness, here, word-for-word, is what I wrote in the season preview at the beginning of April:
Jonathan Sanchez joined the Pirates as a non-roster invitee to spring training. Formerly of the Giants, Royals and Rockies, Sanchez has a repertoire that includes a low-90s fastball, a curveball, a changeup and a slider with outstanding late break. He's produced the second-best swing-and-miss rate among all starting pitchers over the last four years (12 percent), and the highest walk rate in the same demographic (12.7 percent). His five-year Nuke Index is .662, and came in last year at .408 in limited Major League time. So the outstanding repertoire of pitches he can't control, combined with three guys being hurt and the Pirates having no confidence whatsoever in their organizational depth led to Sanchez "earning" a spot in the starting rotation. If he sticks in the rotation, look for Sanchez to lead the league in wild pitches. 
Now, here we are on the final day of April, and the only time Jonathan Sanchez was able to find the strike zone involved him giving up back-to-back home runs to lead off a game, followed by a hard-hit single. I think it's patently absurd that Tim Timmons immediately ran him from the game after he drilled the next hitter, and even more ridiculous that the league suspended Sanchez six games for the incident. If history is any indication of anything (and it is) Jonathan Sanchez couldn't throw at someone deliberately if he wanted to. He has no idea where any given pitch will go once it leaves his hand.

In that preview, we debuted Nuke Index. I was going to wait for the first month of the season to officially end before calculating the first round, but seeing as how Jonathan Sanchez's April is over...
BB: 8
WP: 0
HBP: 2
IP: 13.6
NKI: .735

I remind you, the sample size is incredibly small, but by no means was Jonathan Sanchez ever in control. Here's how the other numbers round out:
0-3, 11.85 ERA, 5 G, 4 GS, 0 GF*, 13.6 IP, 25 H, 18 R, 18 ER, 7 HR, 8 BB, 15 K, 75 BF (min. for 13.6 innings is 41, so just 34 over the minimum), 2.415 WHIP, 9.65 FIP, 31 ERA+ (which, if I'm doing the math correctly, means he was something like 23 percent worse than the league average).

I have to give Sanchez some credit, though. He found the strike zone a great deal this year, as evidenced by his contact rates. That's why you want a guy like Russell Martin. The value of that pitch framing is really coming into focus. I'm just going to let Fangraphs do the work here. Do you guys know about Fangraphs? It's a really great site with baseball statistics! Neal Huntington said he knows about it!

So, yeah. This went about as expected. I'm eager to do the same thing at this time next year after Francisco Liriano, entering the second and final season of his contract, finally gets to 13 innings pitched as a Pirate.

*Jonathan Sanchez is the active leader among all pitchers for consecutive starts of six innings or fewer. His last quality start (at least 6.0 IP, three or fewer runs allowed) occurred on June 18, 2012 (6 IP, 3 ER). Prior to that, he went a year without throwing one. On June 12, 2011, he allowed just two runs on five hits and walked five.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Serving up a big ol' slice of hump day Pié

The reports are conflicting right now as to what actually happened, but there was a kerfuffle in Toledo last night where the Pirates' Triple-A affiliate, Indianapolis Indians, were in town to play the Detroit-affiliated Mud Hens, thanks to the outstanding veteran leadership of savvy, gritty, just-play-the-game-the-right-way-and-know-how-to-win veterans, Brandon Inge and Felix Pié. Clearly, these guys didn't get enough military discipline during spring training this year.

Per the Toledo Blade:

According to eyewitness reports, in the early innings of the contest the unidentified fan was throwing peanuts at the Indians’ Brandon Inge, who spent significant time with both the Detroit Tigers and Hens.
Before the fifth inning began, the fan came to railing on the far side of the Indianapolis dugout and exchanged words with Inge. A number of Inge’s teammates came to his defense, with several attempting to jump the railing that separated them from the fan. The fan was escorted out of the ballpark but attempted to throw beer on the Indians before leaving.
Eyewitness reports? What the hell else is going on in Toledo on a Tuesday night that the Blade, a sister-newspaper of the Post-Gazette, didn't have someone try to figure out just what the hell was going on down there? I get that it's a minor league game and there are very few reporters in the press box, and that the Indianapolis Star doesn't care enough about the Indians to send a reporter on regular road trips, as there's no sign of any coverage of last night's game anywhere on their website. But would it have killed someone to get a couple of quotes from fans sitting near where the altercation took place, especially since you know the team isn't going to comment on the matter after the game?
From Deadspin:
Will Flemming, an Indians broadcaster,tweeted out more specifics based on what he actually saw. Rather than mention that "a number" of Indians players were involved, Flemming says it was Pié who tried to get into the stands, and that Pié even had "a foot over the wall before being pulled back. Flemming also makes mention of "fans" as opposed to just one fan.
Wild scene here in Toledo as Felix Pie has to be restrained from going into stands. Brandon Inge plays peacemaker and gives fans baseballs
@ae_berger nothing happened, he was pulled back and remains in the game. I believe maybe a fan was ejected from stadium.
Just to clarify, it all happened very quickly and no real fallout. Pie had a foot over the wall, was pulled back in.
Felix Pié has a very well-chronicled anger problem:

As for Inge, I'm not sure I agree with the notion that if people are throwing peanuts and beer at you, the best possible way to diffuse the situation would be to give them something larger and harder to throw at you. But, and this bears repeating, I'm not a doctor, and Brandon Inge is kind of a stupid asshole.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Pirates Bingo

If you had 'Marte 1-4, CS' on your board tonight, mark it!

'Multiple HBP in the same inning' has also been called.

Rich white guy bites rich white guy

The Trib's Jeff Oliver talked to a former Pirates stakeholder who had some interesting things to say.

One of the Pirates' former silent partners is speaking out.
A minority owner for nearly two decades before relinquishing his share last fall, Jay Lustig credited principal owner Bob Nutting for cleaning up the franchise's finances but said he is too “rational” to turn the club into a consistent winner.
Too rational? You have my attention. Go on...
“If you are a small-market franchise, if you want to win, you have to be willing to lose ... money,” said Lustig, 58, a Rostraver money manager and businessman who also is board chairman of Adfitech Inc. “(Nutting's) problem is he is a rational owner in an irrational business.
“People say he is a cheap owner, but nothing is further from the truth. He allocates the money properly. He wants to make enough money to keep us from going into the red. He is running the business rationally, trying to make money. No small-market teams that win make money.”
This might have some validity if it was in any way verifiable. I don't know if Tampa Bay or Oakland make money. Hell, I don't even know what constitutes a "small-market team" anymore. 
I've long said that I don't think the current state of the Pirates is as much Nutting's fault as it is the guys he's hired. The current management team is a floundering group of whiny, petulant morons, and the people they've hired to run crucial segments of the organization are, to be polite, egregiously unqualified. I really do think it's possible to win on a low, tight budget. I don't think it's possible to do if you cut corners on scouting and player development, spend unwisely on major-league free agents and refuse to identify and buy low on others' assets and sell high on your own.
“(Nutting) cleaned up the finances and put the franchise on solid ground. ... Now did Bob Nutting and I have personality clashes? Absolutely. I've talked to him several times and tried to convince him that now is the time to sell to a multi-billionaire who is willing to come in here and spend more money and see if he can make the Pirates win.
This guy obviously has an ax to grind that may or may not stem from Nutting preventing him and the other shareholders from making a good deal of coin by selling at a certain time. And I'm fine with that. I wish more people with knowledge would speak out so we could get a clearer picture of just what the hell is going on in this organization.
“Last fall I finally realized that what I wanted wasn't going to happen. So I got out.”
You noble steed, you.
Seven minority owners remain, Lustig said. The Nutting family owns about 80 percent of the franchise, he said.
“They've said publicly that they would like to own the whole thing themselves,” Lustig said.
The idea that Nutting is realizing large profits each year is not true, Lustig said.
“Whatever we made in profit went back into the franchise,” he said. 
1) So for the second time in just over two-and-a-half years, we have an indication that the Pirates are doing exactly what they say they're doing; reinvesting profits in the franchise and not pocketing money, as people have alleged for year and stupidly still do. They're doing exactly what they say they've been doing. They're just doing it very poorly.
“The problem is, as a small-market franchise, the Yankees have $200 million more in television revenues over what we do. The Dodgers are fielding a team with a $250 million payroll, while ours is ($79.5 million). “It's not a level playing field. The only level playing field is the field itself.”
Hey, this guy saw Moneyball...and walked out after the first half-hour. This is a false dilemma. Yes, baseball's economics are fucked, but we'll get back to that in a minute. I feel an analogy coming on.
Lustig, an avid golfer, likened the situation to golf.
“It's like we're all at Augusta playing in the Masters,” Lustig said. “The small-market guys are teeing it up at the tips, and the big-market clubs are teeing it up at the red tees.”
This is a perfect analogy because it reveals that they're all just whitey. As is true with most of history's great scuffles, this is a slap fight between rich white men, and the masses are the only ones hurting.
He said the time for a new owner may never be more ideal.
“But Bob Nutting told me something that his grandfather told his father and his father told him. And that's when the Nuttings own something, they own it forever.
Does that hold true for dead institutions, like newspapers and slavery? 
Nobody is going to argue that Bob Nutting is a wonderful owner. But I don't buy for a second that it's impossible to win on the Pirates' operating budget, and I don't buy it because there are baseball organizations with similar financial circumstances which are in far better shape from top to bottom than are the Pirates. Oakland made the playoffs last year with the second-lowest payroll in baseball, and did so out of a tougher division than the NL Central. Tampa Bay won 90 games last year with virtually the same payroll as the Pirates, and nobody even goes to their stupid gamesCincinnati spent just $19 million more on their major league payroll than the Pirates did last year, and the Reds won 97 games. So I'm supposed to believe that if the Pirates just threw more money at the problem -- say, a $20 million augmentation to the big-league payroll -- they'd win 95?
Baseball's economics are totally fucked, but that doesn't preclude anyone from competing if they're smart in how they spend. The Pirates are the most poorly run organization in all of professional sports for a reason. Part of that is Nutting's fault. He's made bad hires who have, in turn, filled the organization with bad hires. But I don't doubt for a second that different, smarter, more qualified people with the exact same resources given to Frank Coonelly and Neal Huntington could succeed in making the Pirates both successful and profitable.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

This is a very specific skill you don't see in many linebackers

From FTC tipster Marty:
The Steelers brought in OLB Jamie Collins of Southern Miss for a visit today. Here is a cell phone video of Collins dunking so hard on another guy in a pickup basketball game that people start breakdancing.

Matt: Wow. The dunk directly results in breakdancing. I've never seen anything quite like that.
Marty: Nor have I. I would like to conduct a study in which people view and rate the dunk itself, and other people view the dunk and also the part where they apparently halt the game for breakdancing, and then rate the dunk. I think it's possible that the spontaneous breakdancing elevates the dunk beyond its natural status. I would also like to see whether he can dunk on Brett Keisel.

Sweet merciful god, I can't believe we're still doing this: the FTC 2013 Pirates season preview

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Starting Rotation
A.J. Burnett is back and in the final year of his contract. By Pirates standards, Burnett was outstanding last year. He threw just over 200 innings and struck out nearly three hitters for each walk he issued, and finished with a 3.51 ERA and a 1.241 WHIP. He also produced one of last season's most memorable and inspiring moments. He's probably still the best pitcher the Pirates have had since Doug Drabek. In addition to being the Pirates' vocal leader, Burnett has walked the second-most hitters among all starting pitchers over the last five years. In that time, he's also thrown more wild pitches and hit more batters than anyone else. Seeing as those look to be a major theme with the Pirates this year, I've devised a new statistic: walks (BB) + wild pitches (WP) + hit batsmen (HBP) / innings pitched (IP). We'll call it Nuke Index (NKI). Burnett's Nuke Index over the last five years is .530. That means he averaged a little more than half a walk, wild pitch or hit batter per inning over the last five years. To put that in perspective, Justin Verlander's NKI over the same period is .375. Last year, Burnett put up an NKI of .400. Look for Burnett to post similar numbers this year and lead the league in not giving anything resembling a fuck.
Wandy Rodriguez came over from the Astros last year in a deal the Pirates made because they thought they were contending. Rodriguez, 34, has been one of NL's more reliable left-handed starters the last five years, and performed reasonably well after joining the club last year, despite being visibly upset at having to leave Houston. He's signed through this year at $13 million, but his club option for the 2014 season became a player option when he was traded. Look for Rodriguez to throw about 200 innings, strike out about 140, post about a 3.80 ERA, a 1.28 WHIP, and leave town as soon as the season is over, if he's not traded come the end of July.

James McDonald enters the season as the Pirates' third starter. McDonald, who pitched exceptionally in the first half of last year, came so totally unglued in the second half that he was pulled from the rotation and appointed the Franquelis Osoria Visiting Professor of Mopup Duty.J-Mac finished his spring in epic fashion, giving up four runs on three hits, four walks and two wild pitches in an inning of work in the Pirates' 8-6 loss to their Double-A affiliate, Altoona, on Saturday. I'm going to type that sentence one more time. J-Mac finished his spring in epic fashion, giving up four runs on three hits, four walks and two wild pitches in an inning of work in the Pirates' 8-6 loss to their Double-A affiliate, Altoona, on Saturday. The future is just as bleak as the present. Take your own life.

Jonathan Sanchez joined the Pirates as a non-roster invitee to spring training. Formerly of the Giants, Royals and Rockies, Sanchez has a repertoire that includes a low-90s fastball, a curveball, a changeup and a slider with outstanding late break. He's produced the second-best swing-and-miss rate among all starting pitchers over the last four years (12 percent), and the highest walk rate in the same demographic (12.7 percent). His five-year Nuke Index is .662, and came in last year at .408 in limited Major League time. So the outstanding repertoire of pitches he can't control, combined with three guys being hurt and the Pirates having no confidence whatsoever in their organizational depth led to Sanchez "earning" a spot in the starting rotation. If he sticks in the rotation, look for Sanchez to lead the league in wild pitches.

Jeff Locke is in the rotation because a bunch of guys are injured. The Pirates don't think very much of him, so expect him to be demoted, either to bullpen duty or Triple-A Indianapolis once Francisco Liriano, Jeff Karstens or Charlie Morton are ready to come back. 

Lord Joffrey Phillipe Windsor Charles Albert-Heinzbeans Sainsbury Mountbatten, 5th Duke of Glouscestershire-upon-Squishney, Earle of Heathfordshire-at-Brinkmanship-on-Tyne and Lord Protector of the Lands Just East of the Lands to the West and the Southern Isles of Greyside, Flavourshire and Trousertowne (a.k.a. Jeff Karstens) was non-tendered by the Pirates following last season, then re-signed a few weeks later for considerably less money. Karstens, a product of 1,000 years of Western European monarchical inbreeding, was injured during spring training while attempting to eat steak without adult supervision. A timetable for his return has not been established.

Francisco Liriano joined the Pirates as a free agent in the off-season, agreeing to a two-year, $14 million deal. Immediately after agreeing to terms, Liriano injured his non-throwing arm under suspicious circumstances. Despite the injury putting the deal on hold for nearly two months, as well as a preponderance of better pitchers available on the free agent market who commanded similar money, Liriano and the Pirates ultimately agreed on a two-year deal worth $12.75 million. He'll begin, and likely end the season on the disabled list, because that's his move. Before his first major arm surgery, Liriano was an incredible talent. I saw him pitch against the Pirates in 2006, and it remained the damnedest thing I'd ever seen until watching Stephen Strasburg pitch at PNC Park last year. The control just isn't there, though: Liriano's posted a five-year Nuke Index of .547, and put up a .670 in just over 150 innings last year. Look for Liriano to lead the National League in walks issued to opposing pitchers, hit batsmen and season-ending injuries involving strippers.

NB: Between Burnett, Liriano and Sanchez, the Pirates' Opening Day starting rotation contains three of the game's 15 wildest arms, not only according to five-year Nuke Index, but Nuke Totals (BB+WP+HBP).

Charlie Morton underwent reconstructive elbow surgery early last year and missed most of the season. This didn't stop the Pirates handing him a one-year deal worth $2 million, even though he won't be ready to pitch until the middle of this season. Expect Morton to make a handful of rehab starts in Altoona, rejoin the Pirates by late June, fight his sinker for two or three outings, then go back on the DL for the remainder of the season with recurring tightness in his elbow, effectively ending his career with the team.

The Bullpen

Jason Grilli takes over as the closer this year. Grilli was great last year, inexplicably adding four miles an hour to his fastball at age 35 and posting strikeout numbers far, far above what his career arc would suggest he’s capable of. Expect him to start walking guys at a normal rate once he’s caught injecting stem cells into his eyelids, then lose the closer’s job after Clint Hurdle deems Grilli’s hair and beard as “lacking the right attitude” for the role.

Jared Hughes: Taking up space for a second straight year.

Born in Montreal, Chris Leroux first gained notoriety as the studio guitarist for alt-country mainstay The Deep Dark Woods. After appearing as a guest musician on Stars’ 2004 release Set Yourself on Fire, Wolf Parade’s 2008 record, At Mount Zoomer, and Patrick Watson’s 2009 release, Wooden Arms — which, at 3.3/10, holds the highest score Pitchfork media has ever awarded a Canadian album — Leroux struck out on his own, recording an eponymous solo EP under the name Trail of Bears. His first full-length LP, Mile’s End, was released in 2011. In 2012, he opened for acclaimed indie-rock duo Tegan and Sara on the North American portion of their world tour. The next Trail of Bears release, Yes Except No, is due out in May of this year.

Back for on the Opening Day roster for a second-straight year, Tony Watson will serve as the Pirates’ late-inning lefty specialist until hitters realize that he’s not capable of throwing faster than 92 miles per hour. Watson has been a serviceable big-league pitcher in parts of two seasons for the Pirates, posting respectable 4.4 and 3.9 K/BB ratios the last two years, and getting everyone in the clubhouse really into The Wire.

True to what the Pirates seem to value in their pitchers, Justin Wilson will either walk or strike out every batter he faces. In 15.2 innings of spring training action this year, Wilson struck out 16 hitters and walked 10. At 6-2, he’s the shortest lefty in the Pirates’ bullpen, which means absolutely nothing. Wilson’s powerful square jaw and soft green eyes are sure to make him a fan favorite in Pittsburgh for years to come.

Mark Melancon came over from Boston in the trade that unloaded Joel Hanrahan’s stupid goatee, slowing fastball and failing control to the Red Sox. He had an abysmal 2012 season, posting a 6.40 ERA in 45 innings, but he barely walked anyone and his strikeout numbers were solid. That, plus the peripheral stats like BABIP and xFIP say he’s as good a bounce-back candidate as you’ll find, and he could wind up the Pirates’ closer if he grows weird enough facial hair or Grilli struggles.

I have never heard of this guy. The Internet says his name is Jeanmar Gomez, and that he’s a 25-year-old righty from Caracas, Venezuela. But until about two minutes ago, I had no idea that this person existed, let alone was on the Pirates’ Opening Day roster. I’m not even going to bother researching him. Expect him to draw more walks as a hitter this year than Josh Harrison.

The Position Players

Advanced metrics that attempt to measure the way catchers frame pitches — how they position themselves behind the plate, where they place the target for the pitcher, how they move to catch the pitch, etc. — say that Russell Martin is one of the best in the game at this, and that his aptitude for it can mean as many as 13 runs per year to a ball club. If true, that’s significant. But signing Martin for $17 million over two years is a huge risk if it turns out not to be the case. Martin, 30, has been in steady offensive decline for the last five years. As was said in this space last week, Martin’s offensive numbers don’t differ too much from Michael McKenry’s — in fact, McKenry might be a better hitter than Martin. I’m eager to see how Martin performs defensively. If he throws out base-stealers better than the Pirates did last year — which he probably will, since it’s not really possible to be as bad as Rod Barajas was — and the framing numbers bear out what the Pirates saw in overpaying to get Martin, this signing could wind up not being a colossal waste of money. That said, “not a colossal waste of money” is the absolute ceiling for Russell Martin.

I wish they’d move Pedro Alvarez to first base already. I don’t care that he’s a streaky hitter, I don’t care that he can’t handle breaking pitches to save his life, and I don’t even care how many better players went after him when the Pirates took him second overall in 2008. I just wish they would do something smart and put him at first base, where his lack of athleticism and lateral movement won’t be as much of a liability as they are at third. I don’t think his walk rate is ever going to creep over 10 percent. I don’t think he’s going to stop being a stupid asshole and swinging at the first pitch. At this point, Pedro’s a known quantity — a slightly above-average player with a high power ceiling. Maximize his output by getting him off of the hot corner and into a position where he’s not going to cost the club half his value by virtue of his being physically unable to play his position.

Good news: This is probably Clint Barmes’s last year as a Pirate. Bad news: Whoever replaces Clint Barmes next year will probably be worse than Clint Barmes is now.

Not many people know this, but three years ago, the Marlins were taken over by Muammar Gaddafi’s nephew Kevin. Kev Gaddafi built the Marlins an ornate new ballpark, hired a batshit insane manager and spent more than $100 million to bring in the best free agents money could buy for the park’s opening last year. The result was disastrous, and the club set about gutting the roster by mid-May, selling off its players like bad credit default obligations to school districts in Iceland. The Pirates got in on the act, picking up Gaby Sanchez in exchange for 100 acres of land on the Moon. At 29, Sanchez is no long-term solution, but he’s an above-average defensive first baseman and a much more patient hitter than the Pirates typically field at any position. Look for Sanchez to outplay the right-handed half of the first base platoon and steal some time away from Garrett Jones, but don’t expect the same power.

Last year, Franco made a deal with Pirates owner Bob Nutting. Every time the Pirates release some stupid asshole, Franco will attend a game. The deal includes a special clause that could trigger Franco to stop by the team store if they release Josh Harrison.

John McDonald is a 38-year-old middle infielder and veteran of 14 big-league seasons who has made a career out of being a defensive replacement. He doesn’t really “hit,” per se — in fact, only once has he amassed more than 300 plate appearances in a season, and that was a decade ago. But he’s a an above-average glove man at second base and shortstop who can also, though not quite competently, play third base or left field. Last year with the Diamondbacks, McDonald tied a career-high with six home runs. Don’t expect that kind of production this year, but keep an eye out for McDonald incredulously shaking his head as he realizes how things are done here over the course of the season.

Hey, did you guys know that Neil Walker is from Pittsburgh? YES WAY! He went to Pine-Richland, he just got his own place and just like you, he LOVES the Steelers, the Penguins and late-night trips to Primanti’s in the Strip! Against all odds, Walker has turned into an alright second baseman, and the Pirates should probably look to sign him to a contract extension if they can do so for a reasonable price. It’s the first instance in decades to which the phrase “hometown discount” might actually be correctly applied.

We went over Brandon Inge a few weeks ago. I'm already sick of him and don’t feel like doing it again.

This lame commercial is a perfect metaphor for our city’s relationship with baseball. On one side, there’s Cutch, just stoically going about his business like the normal, well-adjusted adult he is. On the other side, there is a certifiably deranged lunatic hosting a fake TV show in front of an imaginary camera, unable to distinguish between fantasy and reality.

I’m guessing this will be Garrett Jones’s last year in Pittsburgh. He has one more year of arbitration eligibility, meaning he’s all but guaranteed to make more than the $4.5 million he’s making this season, and a piece the Pirates likely won’t pay to keep. Jones has been a serviceable half of a right fielder/first baseman for the last five years, but if there’s anyone the Pirates would look to spin off to a playoff team at the deadline, it’s him. I’d expect Jones to cede some of his time at first base to Gaby Sanchez, and make up that time in right field, where he’ll take it away from the utterly useless Travis Snider. Speaking of which…

Each day Travis Snider is on the Major League roster is a day the terrorists have won.

Snider made Jose Tabata look good by comparison in the Grapefruit league this year. Tabata put up a slash line of .269/.304/.442. It’s going to be tough for Tabata to follow up on his act from last season, in which apathetic performance got him sent to Triple-A, and further apathy kept him there most of the year. But now, since the Pirates have a free-swinging asshole they like more, Tabata isn’t guaranteed starts. He’ll either respond by picking up his game whenever he gets the opportunity (FTC Possibility Rating: 20 percent) or sulking to the point where he stress-eats two-pound bags of shredded cheese and drinks vodka in the dugout (FTC Possibilty Rating: 80 percent).

Starling Marte has astounding speed and athleticism. He doesn’t walk. He swings at everything. His arm is incredibly strong, and the throws it makes are often ill-advised. It’s an even-money bet that on every fly ball in his direction, Marte will make the catch or be struck in the head and die. You wanted Alfonso Soriano, Pittsburgh? Now you’ve got him. Nobody on this team will tantalize or frustrate Pirates fans more than Starling Marte.

FTC BoldPredictionCast:
Good seasons: McCutchen, Burnett, Melancon, Gaby Sanchez
Bad seasons: Snider, Tabata, Jonathan Sanchez
Progression: Alvarez, Leroux, Gaby Sanchez
Regression: McCutchen
Perpetually injured: Morton, Liriano, Karstens
Not enough playing time: McKenry
Too much playing time: Snider
Called up: Gerrit Cole
Sent down: Josh Harrison
Traded: Jones, Rodriguez
Sweet, merciful end: Morton
Released: John McDonald
Projected record: 78-84