Friday, July 24, 2015

Gettin' Started

Yesterday the Pirates acquired Aramis Ramirez from the Milwaukee Brewers for minor league reliever Yhonathan Barrios, much to the delight of an anxious fanbase roiled by the club’s 1-5 start out of the All-Star break. And with that the drive for the pennant officially commenced. Rather than drop 140 character nuggets on Twitter all day, I’ve decided to blog the last two months of the season here. Sharing my thoughts as the Bucs try to catch the St. Louis Cardinals in the race for the NL Central title and make the playoffs for the third consecutive year. You aren’t going to get simple game recaps here, rather I hope to give you some insights and analysis that you won’t find anywhere else. Thanks for checking in. Come back often.

The Acquisition of ARam

The Ramirez deal was a no-brainer. The 37-year old third baseman, acquired 12 years and a day after the Pirates essentially gave him away to the Chicago Cubs in one of the great salary dumps of all-time, is in the final year of a Hall of Pretty Good career. He still hits for power, his 11 home runs in 302 at bats would rank fourth on the Pirates behind the triumvirate of Alvarez, Cutch and Marte all checking in with 13, and he is still capable in the field. Barrios is a hard-throwing reliever, but he wasn’t among the Pirates top 30 prospects. He's due to become a minor league free agent at the end of the season and it’s unlikely that the Pirates would have found room for him on their 40-man roster.

Ramirez will slot right in as the Pirates everyday third baseman and clean-up hitter, although with Starling Marte and Jung Ho Kang scorching hot of late, that could change. Regardless of where he hits Ramirez will extend what has been a depleted Pirates lineup. When everyone is healthy Ramirez will provide the Pirates a solid right-handed bat off the bench, essentially becoming what the Pirates had hoped Corey Hart would be when they signed him in the offseason.

There has been some speculation that Ramirez could eventually be exactly what Hart was slated to be, the right-handed side of a platoon at first base. While I think that’s unlikely given he’s never played an inning at first in his major league career, it could be discussed in September if his bat is hot and the Pirates are still struggling to figure out the position. For now he'll be at third with Kang the everyday shortstop.

I've been critical of Bob Nutting at times for his frugality. In this deal the Pirates gave up virtually nothing, but did take on $3 million in salary from the Brewers. Good on Nutting. Hopefully there are more resources available if Neal Huntington deems them necessary. It's reported the team is closing in on a deal for a reliever. I'll keep you posted.

Ramirez will make his debut with the Bucs Saturday night against the Nats.

6 comments:

  1. Good stuff DT. Do you really think they would keep Aram on the bench when Jhay comes back? I can see Jhay playing SS, 3b, and RF to give guys breaks and to hit against lefties for Polanco. If Kang and Ramirez are solid on the left side does Mercer automatically get his spot back regularly? I think that would be hard to do...

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  2. I think a lot of how this plays out will depend on how Kang performs as an everyday SS. I love his defense at third, great hands, reactions, strong arm. The problem at short is he doesn't have great range, doesn't move all that well laterally. So the Pirates will see how the next six weeks go. If he can handle it, maybe Mercer goes to the bench when he's healthy. If they want Mercer's glove, Kang goes to third (where I expect him to be the starter next year). I think either way JHay is likely to go back to a super-utility role when he comes back.

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  3. DT - what do you think of the Fangraphs article (http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/aramis-ramirez-returns-to-pittsburgh/) that suggests Harrison at first when he comes back from the DL? UZR says Ramirez has been WAY better at third than J-Hay this year.

    The fact that Swydan suggests that the Pirates should divorce themselves from the idea of Mercer as an everyday player makes me think it's nonsense (or at least another national guy who doesn't understand how the Pirates are winning and what Mercer's glove means to that).

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    1. I don't think there is any chance Harrison goes to first. Ramirez is unlikely to be moved there, but at least there is an outside shot of that. Can't see them moving Walker. So, if they were to move Pedro there are real questions about who plays first. I can't imagine they are just going to hand the job to Ishikawa.
      I tweeted with Swydan about his piece. I'm with you, I think it's Mercer's job when he gets back unless Kang proves to be much better defensively than I anticipate.

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  4. I believe Kang at 3B and JHay as super utility make this team better over all. Maybe, Aramis moves to 1B when Josh and Jordy return.

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