Garrett Jones made his Pirates debut in June of 2009, creating a buzz for the great rookie season he had. After spending over 10 years in the minors, Jones hit .293 with 21 home runs and 44 RBI in 82 games with the Bucs.
Jones has been the Pirates starting first baseman, and on occasion right fielder, since he was called up from the minor leagues. But after the signings of outfielder Matt Diaz and first baseman Lyle Overbay this offseason, Jones role in 2011 will be as a part-time player.
His stats were nothing like those of his rookie campaign. Jones finished the 2010 season with a .247 average, 21 home runs with 86 RBI –A .262 average against right-handers and just .220 against lefties. During the 2009 season, Jones hit .333 against right-handed pitching and .208 against left-handers.
General Manager Neal Huntington wanted to sign a strong bat over the offseason that could hit well against lefties to compliment Jones.
Since the offseason, Garrett has been spending his time trying to fix his swing and connect like he did in ’09.
“I’m going to make my swing sound and short so that I can get back in the swing of things when I do get into a funk,” Jones said. “When I did get in a funk swinging the bat, I wasn’t able to get out of it quick. You start thinking about your swing and thinking about taking a good swing, and you lose that aggression to go up there and just see the ball and attack it. That definitely hindered me a lot, too.”
“I need to control those downtimes and just get back to where I was when I was having success,” Jones said. “I just need to make sure I don’t think too much. I need to simplify things and that will keep me more successful throughout the year.
“I know my age is a little older, but it was also my first full season in the big leagues. I’m still young there. I learned a lot this year. I’m going to take it in stride and work hard and just make myself the most prepared that I can be.”
After finishing his rookie season wearing #17 and batting .256 with 16 home runs and 64 RBI, Pedro Alvarez will be donning a new uniform in 2011.
Bucs Insider tweeted that Alvarez will be wearing #24 –The uniform that Delwyn Young wore in 2010 (Young was non-tendered by the Bucs). It’s also the same number that Barry Bonds wore for his seven seasons in Pittsburgh.
I think its safe to say that Pedro will make a much bigger impact in that uniform.
Matt Diaz is excited for the opportunity to be a part of something special and believes his roots make him a Pittsburgh kind of guy.
“I can’t wait to earn them as fans,” Diaz said. “They’ve been looking for something to cheer for in the summers. They’ve had plenty to cheer for in the winters. I’m ready to be a part of changing things around.”
Four teams were after Diaz, including the Bucs, but he said Clint Hurdle had a huge role in signing with the Pirates.
“The more I talked with Rangers players, they started singing [Pirates manager and former Rangers hitting coach] Clint Hurdle’s praises,” Diaz said. “Everyone was talking great about Clint.”
“Originally I viewed Pittsburgh as a place to go get at-bats and prove that I’m healthy,” Diaz said. “The more I talked to them, the more I realized that I could get at-bats and be a part of something really great. It was just a comfort thing, just a peace thing.”
The Pirates offered Diaz a one-year contract, but he asked for another year because he knew something good was going to happen in the Steel city.
“I said, ‘I would love to come in and help the young guys out as much as I can. But in 2012, I don’t want to be doing this all over again while you are having the time of your life,’” Diaz said. “We can have some fun in 2011 and really surprise some people with the plan they have in place. But I think 2012 can be special.”
Diaz, who at 32 is the oldest player on the roster, will take on a leadership role. He has played and learned from so many great players, he is happy to help the young bucs.
“I’ve been given so much in this game, and I was groomed by some pretty neat veterans in Kansas City and Tampa,” Diaz said. “If I can have some impact there to where I’m remembered after I’m gone, that will be a wonderful thing.
“The key for this young group is to take ownership of this team. It is going to be imperative for the older guys to really help and aid the young guys taking ownership of this team. They have to show that they’re willing to outwork other teams and leave it all on the field.”
Other News and Notes:
- Jose Tabata is hitting .353 (6-for-17) with a 1.165 OPS after his first six games of winter ball in Venezuela.
- Pirates prospect Jarek Cunningham, who was selected in the 18th round of the 2008 draft, will start the new year by blogging. Cunningham will give viewers an inside look at what life is like as a minor league player.
He made his debut for the Gulf Coast League batting .318 with 5 HR’s, and 22 RBI’s in 43 games. Last season, with West Virginia Power, he hit .258 with 12 HR’s and 49 RBI’s in 121 games.
For more information and where to catch his blog, click here.
- MLB’s minimum salary for 2011 will now be $414,000 per year.
Lyle Overbay discusses the opportunity to play with the Pirates and how he can help the young guys.
On why the Pirates were the right choice: “The optimistic. The opportunity. Just look at what this team is doing, as far as bringing in Clint Hurdle. That Is a big decision. For me, it’s the opportunity to be able to play everyday and be a part of this team. Something good is gonna happen and I’m always going to be a part of that. All I hear is about these young guys that can play, they’ve got the will. Just by listening to the other guys around, they’ve got the work ethic and that’s huge right now.”
“I know I’m going to fail 7 out of 10 times out of hitting, but fielding is something that you can change the game everyday. There’s something that you can help out, as far as picking the ball and you can make the second baseman even better if I can get off the bag a little bit and cover some ground there. It’s the little things that make a big difference and that’s the stuff I can control. I’m going to work everyday on that and hopefully make everyone else around me better.”
After the signing of Lyle Overbay on Tuesday, Neal Huntington discussed what the future holds for Ryan Doumit in the Steel city.
“We certainly are open to finding a better fit for Ryan, if one is out there for him,” Huntington said. “But if we’re unable to do that, we’re prepared to open the season with Garrett (and Diaz) in right field and Ryan on the bench.”
The Pirates re-signed Donnie Veal on Wednesday to a minor league contract.
Veal was non-tendered by the Bucs on December 2nd, but General Manager Neal Huntington said that he was hopeful to an agreement with the left hander.
Veal isn’t expected to pitch at the beginning of the season (he is recovering from Tommy John surgery) but should be able to throw off mound next year.
He went 3-2 with a 4.35 ERA and struck out 41 through 49.2 innings with the Triple-A Indians.
The Pirates officially announce a two-year deal with outfielder Matt Diaz. The news of the agreement came a week ago, during the winter meetings. The contract is reported to be worth $4.2 million ($2M in 2010 and 2012 plus a $250,000 signing bonus). Diaz has a career .335 batting average and .533 slugging percentage against left-handers over eight major league seasons.
Diaz will platoon in right with Garrett Jones (.282 hitter against right-handers). Ryan Doumit and John Bowker are also back-up options for the Bucs.
Diaz says he is excited to join the Pirates:
On why the Pirates were the right choice:
“Really Clint Hurdle. Met with him at the winter meetings. I talked to him once on the phone before that. He and Neal Huntington came In and gave a great presentation on where the organization is heading. So that was very important for me to go back and ask them for a second year to be a part of it. I think we are going to surprise some people. I really think by 2012, you’re really going to see this young core of players really mesh together and really make a run at this thing.”
Diaz, who has known Andrew McCutchen since he was in 8th grade, said, “He is the most underrated superstar in baseball.”
On what he thinks about playing at PNC Park: “I like hitting the ball to right center and I like the way the ball carries here. Hopefully it will be a friendly park for me to hit in, a friendly park for me to play defense in and hopefully produce some runs so we can win some games.”
On his dream of playing in a world series: “I know people in Pittsburgh nation will laugh, but, hopefully in the next couple of years we can do that.”
Other News and Notes:
- The Pirates two-year deal with pitcher Kevin Correia should be finalized later this week. In order for him to be put on the 40-man roster, the Bucs must remove someone, as it is full.
- Rob Biertempfel of the Trib reports: The Pirates are stepping up efforts to trade Ryan Doumit, who’s bumped down now to a $5.1 M bench player, backup catcher.
- According to Jesse Behr of Baseball Prospectus, he is “Hearing whispers of a Ryan Doumit-for-Marco Scutaro deal”. Scutaro in 2010 with the Red Sox hit 11 home runs, 56 RBI with a .275 average.
The Pirates have reached a one-year deal with free agent Lyle Overbay on Tuesday. The financial terms have not been released yet regarding the first baseman.
Overbay hit .243 with 20 homers and 67 RBIs in 154 games last season. The soon to be 34-year-old hit 37 doubles during the 2010 season. He has spent the past five years in Toronto and is a career .274 hitter.
“Lyle Overbay is a solid Major League player, and we expect him to have a positive impact on our club offensively, defensively and in the clubhouse,” general manager Neal Huntington said in a statement.
Overbay is a solid defensive first baseman. His .996 fielding percentage ranked 2nd in the American League last season. He also led all first baseman with 150 double plays and 101 assists.
With the signing of Overbay, Garrett Jones will spend the 2010 season platooning in both right field and first base. Huntington said Doumit will assume a bench role and as a back up catcher to Chris Snyder (that is, if the Pirates don’t trade Doumit before the season begins. The Bucs have been shopping Ryan).
Update: Overbay signed a one-year deal worth $5M.
He also had lunch on Tuesday afternoon with Manager Clint Hurdle: “(Hurdle) was a big part of my decision,” Overbay said. “I talked to a lot of people about him. I like that way he goes about it — his honesty, his knowledge of the game, his energy. He made me feel comfortable. I’m an easy-going guy, too, but when it’s time to go after it, I know how to turn the switch. He’s the same way.”
Overbay’s deal is only for one season but, “I’m hoping it will last longer than (one season),” he said.
Jon Morosi of Fox Sports reports that the Pirates are interested in Lyle Overbay.
Sources say Pirates and free agent Lyle Overbay have been talking. Not clear if they are making progress on a deal.
First baseman Overbay, who will be 34 in January, batted .243 with 20 home runs and 67 RBI last season. He is a career .274/.358/.447 hitter.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle discussed the Bucs starting rotation:
On Paul Maholm: “There’s more there. I’d say he’s not happy. Nobody I talked to is happy. They’re excited about next year, but they want to improve.”
On James McDonald: “I’ve seen the kid, and he excites me. I know he had a good run after the trade.”
On Ross Ohlendorf: “I’ve got to believe he’s the best 1-11 pitcher in baseball.” Hurdle laughed and added, “Your numbers are over. You have another chance. Do something with it.”