Andy LaRoche signed a minor league deal with the Oakland A’s on Monday. He also receives an invite to spring training.
LaRoche spent the past three seasons in Pittsburgh where he played third base, second base and first base for the Bucs. He batted .206 with four home runs and 16 RBI during the 2010 season.
MLB.com writer Jonathan Mayo rated Jameson Taillon the sixth best right-handed pitching prospect (You can check out the entire top 10 list here).
6. Jameson Taillon, Pirates: High school pitchers like this don’t come around often. Taillon has size (he’s 6-foot-6), stuff (he can throw four pitches for strikes), command and makeup. Three of those pitches are plus at times, and the changeup isn’t far behind. He’s yet to make his pro debut, but he has the type of arm at his age that could move him fairly quickly through the Pittsburgh system.
Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune tweeted Saturday regarding the Pirates possible interest in right-hand pitcher Armando Galarragra.
“Pirates have some interest in rhp Armando Galarraga. Considering they made serious offer to [Carl] Pavano, I’d say they have the $$ for Galaragga.”
Then later, Biertempfel said:
“Regarding galarraga to Pirates, trusted source just told me, “I don’t see it happening”
Galarraga was designated for assignment by the Tigers earlier this week after the signing of Brad Penny. Known mostly for his, ‘almost perfect game’, Galarraga went 4-9 in 25 games (24 starts) with a 4.49 ERA. In 144.1 innings he walked 51 and struck out 74. The 29-year-old made $2.3 M last season.
Reliever Joel Hanrahan chatted with the Des Moines Resister about his third season in Pittsburgh.
On having his high school jersey retired last month: “It was awesome. It’s something I didn’t really see coming,” Hanrahan said of the honor. “I wasn’t always the best player in high school. It’s a huge honor to have Norwalk do that for me. It was a fun experience. I’m very thankful for everyone coming out and for Norwalk to do that for me.”
[Be sure to read my post from the night of his jersey retiring.]
On staying under control during the ninth inning: “You’ve got to slow the game down when you get out there,” he said. “Sometimes you want to get those last three outs as quick as possible and get on the road, get out of the clubhouse.”
“You’ve got to be mentally strong so you can block out the crowd and do your job,” he said. “If you’re at home they’re excited to see a win. And on the road they start chanting and you’ve got somebody like Albert Pujols coming up with a runner on base and you’re up by one run. You’ve got to block all that out, worry about making your pitches and getting them out.”
On the role of set-up man and closer: “It’s the same mentality,” Hanrahan said. “You just go out there to keep our team in the game. The starters take a lot of pride in what they do. You don’t want to go out there and blow a game for them or blow a game for the team.
“There’s pride in yourself, too. You don’t want to be a goat that day. Your job is to go out there and hold the game and that’s what I tried to do.”
On a career high 100 strikeout season: “I always like strikeouts and it helps me understand that I can get anybody out if I need to,” he said. “If I get into a slump it’ll give me the confidence to know that I can get out of it.
“I learned a lot last year about what having confidence will do for you. I went out there that I wasn’t going to get beat that day. I think that really helped me out. And that’s something I’m going to build on this year.”
On playing in Pittsburgh and expecting to have a winning record: “That’s our goal – to go out there and win,” he said. “If we didn’t think we could win why would we go out there? All our young guys got a lot of experience last year and we’re looking for them to continue what they did last season, if not improve.
“We feel like we have a chance to go out there and win, and that’s our goal. We’ll go out there and compete for nine innings every game.”
“The stadium there in Pittsburgh is amazing. It’s definitely in the top three places that I’ve played in – home or road,” he said. “Fans there are really good. We’re just waiting for the day when we get a winning team.
A snowy ballpark (via @BucsInsider). Only 70 days away from opening day 2011!
- Pedro Alvarez did not make it in MLB Network’s ‘Top 10 Third Baseman right now’, but he did get an honorable mention –one of four players (Sandoval, Kouzmanoff and Ramirez) “to just miss top 10″
That’s great news for Pirates fans. Alvarez and Jose Tabata (left field) just missed the top 10 and Andrew McCutchen was named #1 Center Fielder right now by MLB Network (The future is looking bright in Pittsburgh).
- The Pirates organization have several pitchers to compete for the fifth spot in the rotation during spring training. They have not hinted at who is the favored:
“We don’t want to make Spring Training evaluations, but in some cases we’re going to have to,” general manager Neal Huntington said. “I think the reality is that we’re going to need more than five starting pitchers next year, so whoever doesn’t make the rotation out of Spring Training, we’re going to need the sixth, the seventh, the eighth one.”
- Brad Lincoln hired a personal trainer for the offseason and plans on reporting to spring training early to work with pitching coach Ray Searage.
“I am going to get my body in the best shape possible to come into spring strong so that I can go all year without breaking down,” Lincoln said. “I want to come in top physical form.”
“If you want to compete up here, you have to continue to work hard every day and just don’t let up and don’t take anything for granted,” Lincoln said. “Hopefully, I can continue to improve and mark a spot here for next year.”
MLB Network rated Andrew McCutchen as the #1 Center Fielder right now on Thursday’s countdown. Here is what the analysts had to say:
Greg Amsinger: “It’s time to find out the number one center fielder in major league baseball is right now and he resides in Pittsburgh. The Pirates Andrew McCutchen is #1. He’s just 24-years-old. In 2010 in 154 games, he hit .286, 16 home runs, 56 RBI and scored 94 runs for a team that didn’t win all that much, 33 stolen bases. Now he did have five errors, tied for second most (Matt Kemp of the Dodgers). But was fifth in the National League in the stolen base department. Eight outfield assists, third best in the National League. Andrew McCutchen right now, is he the number one center fielder in major league baseball?”
Billy Ripken: “When you start looking at the overall package. The year before he was fourth in Rookie of the Year voting. That makes you stand up and take notice. All those other categories you talked about in, you can put him in with the league leaders with his center fielders in those categories. So, when you look at a complete player and shall we say, ‘Mr. Excitement’. I think what people overlook was the 16 bombs. I mean he ran into some balls and hit some balls of the ballpark. He’s got a complete package.”
Amsinger: “So he’s number one right now?”
Ripken: “Okay, Right now he is.”
Dan Pleasac: “I would say right now there are a lot of teams, Greg, that would like to pencil his name in in center field. One of the things, he’s another guy if you look at his body type, he’ll surprise you with some pop in his bat. You would think he’s going to get bigger, he’s going to get stronger. What I really like about him, he plays with a lot of energy. He makes his team better. But I’ll tell you what he’s going to need: he’s going to need some help. The Pirates are going to have to do a much better job surrounding some talent on the corners to take a little bit of that pressure off because right now, he’s a mark man in that Pirate lineup. He’s a good player and I think right now if you were looking at the skill set; ‘Can he run? Yes.’ Can he hit? He’s going to hit for some power.’ He’s not a .300 hitter, but pretty darn close to it. I think when you look at all the things combined, right now, he might be the best.”
Amsinger: “You know what I like about him? He’s got this swagger of a winning player on a losing team. [Showed video of McCutchen's walk-off home run] That is swagger, that is flash, that is excitement and he’s playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates. That’s a beautiful story.”
Ripken: “You like to see a player have a chance at redemption and when you miss play a ball like that [referring to the video of McCutchen's error prior to the walk-off home run] you certainly hope you get an opportunity to come up and do damage. He didn’t nod his head. He didn’t feel down on himself. He went up to home plate and hit a ball out of the ballpark.
Pleasac: “Pirate fans really haven’t had a lot to get happy about the last 15 or 20 years. It’s been a long streak of losing for the Pirates but this is one guy, if you’re a fan of the Pirates, or you live in the Pittsburgh area, he’s worth going out to see play. He plays with a lot of energy, he plays with a lot of passion, and you would hope that if he gets a little bit bigger, a little bit stronger, he’s going to hit some balls out of the ballpark. Has a chance to be one of those franchise type players for the Pirates.”
Former Bucco lefty Javier Lopez has signed a one-year deal with the San Francisco Giants for $2.375 M on Thursday.
Lopez can earn an additional $50,000 each for pitching 55 or 60 innings (according to ESPN).
The 33-year-old was traded to the Giants for pitcher Joe Martinez and Outfielder John Bowker.
Lopez went 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA in 27 appearances (19.0 innings) for the Giants and 2-2 with a 2.79 ERA in 50 appearances (38.2 innings) with the Pirates in 2010.
On Tuesday night’s edition of Front Burner on MLB Network, Ken Rosenthal (MLB Network Insider and FOX Sports Reporter) named Pirates Andrew McCutchen as the ‘Best Center Fielder -Right Now’.
“I’ll go with the guy that no one talks about because he plays for the Pittsburgh Pirates. That would be Andrew McCutchen. People don’t realize how good a player this kid is becoming and is already. Last year amongst center fielders, fourth in OPS behind Torii Hunter (who no longer is a center fielder), Vernon Wells and Colby Rasmus. McCutchen Is a guy who is a five tool talent; stole 33 bases last year. We’re going to hear a lot more about him in the years ahead and frankly, we should be hearing about him now.”
The Pirates released the autograph signing schedule and the live event schedules for Piratefest. The three day indoor caravan takes place at the David L. Laurence Convention Center Friday, January 28th(Season ticket holders only), Saturday January 29 (10-8) and Sunday January 30 (12-5).
You can purchase tickets here.
Saturday, January 29
10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Jose Tabata, Brad Lincoln, Charlie Morton
11:30 am – 1:00 p.m. James McDonald, Kevin Correia, Al Oliver
1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Garrett Jones, Ross Ohlendorf, Bob Friend
2:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Mike Easler, Bob Walk, Bill Madlock, Sean Casey
4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Andrew McCutchen, Jeff Karstens, Paul Maholm
5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Neil Walker, Evan Meek, Jim Rooker, Doug Drabek
Sunday, January 30
12:00 Noon – 1:30 p.m. Andrew McCutchen, Brad Lincoln, Kevin Correia
1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Evan Meek, Ross Ohlendorf, Al Oliver
3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Jose Tabata, Paul Maholm, Charlie Morton
Live Event Schedules:
Saturday, January 29
Minute To Win It: (12:00 Noon – 1:00 p.m.) Evan Meek, Joe Klimchak
Softball Clinic: (12:00 Noon – 1:00 p.m.) TBA
Youth Baseball Clinic: (1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.) Clint Hurdle, Jeff Banister, Kevin Correia, Bob Walk
Deal or No Deal: (1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.) Jeff Karstens, Charlie Morton, Greg Brown
We Are Family Feud: (2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.) Neil Walker, Jose Tabata, Joe Klimchak
Pierogie Eating Contest: (2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.) Paul Maholm, Greg Brown
2011 Pirates Q&A: (3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.) 2011 Pirates, Greg Brown
Reading with the Parrot: (4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.) Pirate Parrot, Cannonball Crew
Ask Pirates Management: (4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.) Clint Hurdle, Neal Huntington, Frank Coonelly, Greg Brown
Minute to Win It: (5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.) James McDonald, Joe Klimchak
Pierogie Eating Contest: (5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.) Ross Ohlendorf, John Wehner
Deal or No Deal: (6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.) James McDonald, Greg Brown
Guitar Hero: (6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.) Andrew McCutchen, Joe Klimchak
Sunday, January 30
Youth Baseball Clinic: (12:00 Noon – 1:00 p.m.) Clint Hurdle, Jeff Banister, Joe Klimchak
Deal or No Deal: (12:00 Noon – 1:00 p.m.) Evan Meek, Tim Neverett
Minute To Win It: (1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.) Paul Maholm, Tim Neverett
Guitar Hero: (1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.) Jeff Karstens, Joe Klimchak
We Are Family Feud: (2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.) Paul Maholm, Charlie Morton, Joe Klimchak
Pierogie Eating Contest: (2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.) Brad Lincoln, Tim Neverett
Deal or No Deal: (3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.) Ross Ohlendorf, Tim Neverett
Reading with the Parrot: (3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.) Pirate Parrot, Cannonball Crew
The Pirates signed catcher Wyatt Toregas to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training on Tuesday.
Toregas was drafted in the 24th round of the 2004 draft by the Cleveland Indians. He spent the 2010 season with three teams (A, AA, AAA) in the Indians minor league system. In 38 games combined he batted .227 with five home runs and 14 RBI. Toregas had four passed balls and a .991 fielding percentage.