Saturday, August 31, 2013

Pirates Game 135 Recap - Pirates 7, Cardinals 1

It is either a really good or really bad thing when I can start typing up my recap with any sort of purpose at the start of the seventh inning. When games with the Cardinals come up you don't really expect to start to type this early in the game but the Pirates have been somewhat dominate against the Cardinals this season. The Pirates dominated the Cardinals tonight and already won the season series from them despite having four more games to play against each other. This Pirates team is fun to watch and more-so they are a pretty damn good baseball team. They now lead the NL Central by one game. They can't come out of the series with the Cardinals trailing in the division. This is fun.

The Pirates offense has been really good in the second half of the season (after the All-Star break) and tonight they continued that trend. Coming into tonight the Pirates position player have hit .266/.338/.430 while scoring four runs a game. Tonight they racked up 13 hits and the only starting position player without a hit on the night was Andrew McCutchen. Think about that for a second, a guy that is most likely going to win NL MVP honors goes 0-for-5 with three strikeouts and seven men left on base doesn't contribute at all and the Pirates still take the team they are tied with atop the NL Central behind the woodshed. That is awesome.

Anyways, Lance Lynn was on the bump and just got shelled. He was only able to muster four innings while giving up seven runs (all earned) on 10 hits. Anyone (besides McCutchen) was having their way with Lynn and Lynn was visibly frustrated on the mound. The Pirates got to the Cardinals pen early for consecutive games and you can't ask for much more than that.

We can talk about the offense, and we should, but you also have to mention A.J. Burnett. While he got a ton of run support early he also pitched a damn good game. He went seven innings (could have been eight as his pitch count was only at 92) while giving up four hits and a walk while striking out six. He didn't have his dominant stuff but he was more than good enough to shut down a pretty good Cardinals offense (despite what they have done against the Pirates this year) and get the win. Burnett can be hit or miss with what he is going to give you but when he can focus up and have his control he is as good as anyone on the staff. He didn't quite have the great stuff tonight but the offense scored a lot of runs so who cares.

Back to the offense. A.J. Burnett actually got it started. Yea, you read that right. He singled home the first run in the second inning and that was basically when you knew it was going to be all good.

The game was actually in the balance early. The Cardinals scored the first run on the Pirates in what seems like forever but it was 2-1 heading into the bottom of the third inning before the Pirates scored five runs and essentially ended the game. Russell Martin highlighted the inning with a monster three run blast to right field. He knew it was gone as soon as it left the bat as he gave an unreal bat flip and slowly made his way to first base. The best part about all of this? ROOT showed a replay of Lynn as the ball left the yard and he screamed the f-bomb as loud as he could. It was a sign of the entire night. It was awesome.

Jose Tabata had another two hit night while Marlon Byrd had two hits and Neil Walker had three.

This is what it is all about. Believe it or not the Pirates are a really damn good baseball team and the thoughts of this being some kind of mirage are far from over. This is a playoff team and they are in the thick of a NL Central race. Winning the division is ridiculously important with how dumb a one game playoff is. The Pirates guaranteed that they will end this series no worse than tied for the lead in the division and could be two games up if they can pick up the sweep. It is a good time to be a Pirates fan. A really good time.

Also there was a lot that went on today. Do yourself (and me) a favor by checking out my breakdown of the Justin Morneau trade [here] and click [here] to read my post about how McCutchen has improved this season.

Pirates Game 135 Preview - vs. St. Louis Cardinals

St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates - 7:05 p.m.
Lance Lynn (13.8, 4.02) vs. A.J. Burnett (6-9, 3.18)

Season Series (Pirates lead 9-5)
April 15, 2013 - St. Louis 10, Pittsburgh 6
April 17, 2013 - Pittsburgh 5, St. Louis 0
April 26, 2013 - St. Louis 9, Pittsburgh 1
April 27, 2013 - Pittsburgh 5, St. Louis 3
April 28, 2013 - Pittsburgh 9, St. Louis 0
July 29, 2013 - Pittsburgh 9, St. Louis 2
July 30, 2013 - Pittsburgh 2, St. Louis 1 (11 inn.)
July 30, 2013 - Pittsburgh 6, St. Louis 0
July 31, 2013 - Pittsburgh 5, St. Louis 4
August 1, 2013 - St. Louis 13, Pittsburgh 0
August 13, 2013 - St. Louis 4, Pittsburgh 3 (14 inn.)
August 14, 2013 - Pittsburgh 5, St. Louis 1
August 15, 2013 - St. Louis 6, Pittsburgh 5
August 30, 2013 - Pittsburgh 5, St. Louis 0


Lineups

Pirates (78-56)
1. Tabata 7
2. Walker 4
3. McCutchen 8
4. Alvarez 5
5. Byrd 9
6. Jones 3
7. Martin 2
8. Barmes 6
9. Burnett 1

Cardinals (78-56)
1. Carpenter 5
2. Beltran 9
3. Holliday 7
4. Craig 3
5. Molina 2
6. Jay 8
7. Wong 4
8. Descalso 6
9. Lynn 1

Pirates Acquire Justin Morneau

From Ken Rosenthal:



More to come later.

The more:

This was something that really was hinted around post non-waiver deadline. The Pirates were said to be really in on Justin Morneau but much didn't seem possible with Morneau having to be dealt and on the roster by the end of the day today to be on the playoff roster but it looks as if Neal Huntington was able to get it done.

The Pirates basically gave up nothing for Morneau. They actually gave up Alex Presley and picking up the rest of the money owed to Morneau which will be around $3M but in my mind that is basically giving up nothing. Presley was sort of a late bloomer (I guess?). He is 28 years old and has been up and down on the Pirates roster for the past couple of years. He had a breakout his rookie year in 2011 when he hit .298/.339/.465 in 52 games but in his major league career he only has a .261/.299/.419 line. He is a guy who has some speed and can play the left field at PNC to an average degree. He doesn't walk a lot and with little power there really isn't much of a spot for him on the team.

In Morneau the Pirates get a veteran bat that can play some first base and upgrade the bench at the minimum. He is far from the days where he can be counted on as a middle of the order bat but with the struggles of Garrett Jones this really is a good move for the Pirates. Here is Morneau's career numbers:

Year Age Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB
2003 22 MIN 40 115 106 14 24 4 0 4 16 9 30 .226 .287 .377 .664 73 40
2004 23 MIN 74 312 280 39 76 17 0 19 58 28 54 .271 .340 .536 .875 122 150
2005 24 MIN 141 543 490 62 117 23 4 22 79 44 94 .239 .304 .437 .741 93 214
2006 25 MIN 157 661 592 97 190 37 1 34 130 53 93 .321 .375 .559 .934 140 331
2007 26 MIN 157 668 590 84 160 31 3 31 111 64 91 .271 .343 .492 .834 122 290
2008 27 MIN 163 712 623 97 187 47 4 23 129 76 85 .300 .374 .499 .873 134 311
2009 28 MIN 135 590 508 85 139 31 1 30 100 72 86 .274 .363 .516 .878 130 262
2010 29 MIN 81 348 296 53 102 25 1 18 56 50 62 .345 .437 .618 1.055 187 183
2011 30 MIN 69 288 264 19 60 16 0 4 30 19 44 .227 .285 .333 .618 70 88
2012 31 MIN 134 570 505 63 135 26 2 19 77 49 102 .267 .333 .440 .773 112 222
2013 32 MIN 127 543 495 56 128 32 0 17 74 37 98 .259 .315 .426 .741 102 211
11 Yrs 1278 5350 4749 669 1318 289 16 221 860 501 839 .278 .347 .485 .832 121 2302
162 Game Avg. 162 678 602 85 167 37 2 28 109 64 106 .278 .347 .485 .832 121 292
Year Age Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+ TB
2003 22 MIN 40 115 106 14 24 4 0 4 16 9 30 .226 .287 .377 .664 73 40
2004 23 MIN 74 312 280 39 76 17 0 19 58 28 54 .271 .340 .536 .875 122 150
2005 24 MIN 141 543 490 62 117 23 4 22 79 44 94 .239 .304 .437 .741 93 214
2006 25 MIN 157 661 592 97 190 37 1 34 130 53 93 .321 .375 .559 .934 140 331
2007 26 MIN 157 668 590 84 160 31 3 31 111 64 91 .271 .343 .492 .834 122 290
2008 27 MIN 163 712 623 97 187 47 4 23 129 76 85 .300 .374 .499 .873 134 311
2009 28 MIN 135 590 508 85 139 31 1 30 100 72 86 .274 .363 .516 .878 130 262
2010 29 MIN 81 348 296 53 102 25 1 18 56 50 62 .345 .437 .618 1.055 187 183
2011 30 MIN 69 288 264 19 60 16 0 4 30 19 44 .227 .285 .333 .618 70 88
2012 31 MIN 134 570 505 63 135 26 2 19 77 49 102 .267 .333 .440 .773 112 222
2013 32 MIN 127 543 495 56 128 32 0 17 74 37 98 .259 .315 .426 .741 102 211
11 Yrs 1278 5350 4749 669 1318 289 16 221 860 501 839 .278 .347 .485 .832 121 2302
162 Game Avg. 162 678 602 85 167 37 2 28 109 64 106 .278 .347 .485 .832 121 292
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table Generated 8/31/2013.
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/31/2013.

As I said before Morneau isn't going to be the middle of the order guy. In the second half of the season so far he's hit for a .230/.282/.467 line with 10 home runs. He doesn't walk too much (around 7%) and has been worth about a win according to FanGraphs.

He will mostly be used against right handed pitchers. Here are his splits from this season:

SplitGGSPAABRH2B3BHRRBIBBSOBAOBPSLGOPSBAbipsOPS+
vs RHP as LHB1213823429626015583158.281.343.488.831.296121
vs LHP as LHB951611533260216640.209.248.288.536.27067
vs LH Starter282611511093190422325.282.313.473.786.333119
vs RH Starter9997428385479723013523473.252.315.413.728.276103
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/31/2013.

What this can do is free up Jones to play some right field. That doesn't seem like a big deal but with Starling Marte out for a couple weeks and the unknown that is Jose Tabata it doesn't hurt to have that flexibility and to have his bat off the bench. The problem the Pirates have had is that when Jones plays first base he was an easy platoon option for opposing managers as they could force him out of the game and then you are stuck with Gaby Sanchez at first base where the opposing managers could use right handed pitchers against Sanchez to handcuff the Pirates. This gives the Pirates some other options, which is a good thing.

I don't think Morneau has that big of an impact but I think he does upgrade the team. When you can get him for Presley (and I assume money) then you take that.

Good point by Tim Williams of Pirates Prospects in terms of Presley: