OT: Raise the Jolly Roger: Tanking underway

Discussion in 'Pittsburgh Penguins' started by Scandale du Jour, Aug 9, 2020.

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  1. DJ Spinoza Registered User

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    Agreed, clearly the Pirates see something that's worth keeping around, since he's still going to need a full season of development at least before he's MLB ready. To some extent, he's probably in a similar situation as Brubaker and Bolton, except further behind. Guys with the tools to be solid bullpen options, who could also be useful backend guys or potentially a mid-rotation guy. I am pretty intrigued to see what Brubaker can do, though I also think that he could be a very devestating weapon as a multi-inning reliever.

    I feel very much the same about Tucker and thus probably have him up there as the MLB storyline I am most in on for us. It's not based on anything other than the tools profile, but I think he's someone for whom it could all click, and he is still only 24. I really don't get how his season was handled last year, as you have to figure that his profile could have been a very light hitting but strong defensive SS. The logic of him exclusively being an OF seems to point towards management wanting to develop him as a utility player, but now that seems almost entirely off the table. I think he needs to earn starts, but I also think there's really nothing to see from others at SS, so I hope he's getting them unless he struggles. He's #1 on my list of guys who I hope have a torrid spring.

    This is changing gears a bit from prospects and young players, but I actually think that Brault might be a decent post-hype player, and that Cherington keeping him around could be something that looks like a quite solid decision a few months into the season. It's not unusual for LHP to put things together somewhat gradually – Patrick Corbin is an example of this. Brault's continued to grow as a pitcher and has quietly put up extended runs of very solid performance. I don't know how much more of an additional gear he has, but I wouldn't be totally floored if he quietly goes about a nice 2.5 WAR season this year, which would pretty much prime him to be traded in a deal not too far off the pace of the Musgrove and Taillon deals.
     
  2. WheresRamziAbid Registered User

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    Tucker and Keller are the two most important guys to get a look at on the mlb roster IMO. If they solidify themselves thats 2 spots that we don't have to worry about while we sort through these prospect waves.

    And i agree that it was smart to keep guys like brault and kuhl around. First we need someone to throw innings. Second they have short enough track records that a good year could raise their value.
     
  3. DJ Spinoza Registered User

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    Yeah, agreed on Tucker and Keller, and I'd probably throw Reynolds in there as well, though with his previous success, I suppose he's in a slightly different category. I don't know if he's quite the 3 WAR player he showed in his rookie year, but getting him competent again will be a nice boost, especially in terms of Hayes actually seeing pitches to hit more than once a week.

    In that regard I don't mind bringing Frazier in as a possible weak side platoon for Moran, as well as still having A. Frazier around. There's not a lot to love about the lineup, but if people perform to their abilities, it shouldn't be a total wasteland, which is something I think is important for Hayes further settling in (not to mention for having the games be watchable).

    I would have been happy and still would be to have Porcello's veteran innings anchoring the rotation, but it does seem like the right offers weren't quite there for the SP, so there was no need to shuffle them off just to follow suit with the other trades. I think this entire time, I've had it in my head that Brault only has this year and next remaining, but he's arb eligible through 2023. A full, good year could very well be a kind of breakout for him, increasing his trade value by a lot, and if not, as you say, we need someone to throw innings, and Brault can at least shoulder some of that fairly well for a while

    Kuhl's someone that maybe you hope pops up and becomes a sought after player at the deadline. It doesn't seem like he can consistently get lefties out enough to start, but I'm also not going to read a ton into his early comeback performance and I still like the stuff. He's honestly someone who I think it would be nice to keep around for a little while longer, but probably he just gets as much of a showcase as possible for a trade at the deadline or in the winter.
     
  4. DJ Spinoza Registered User

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    In terms of rotation / roster preview, here's my stab, trying to be more succinct than the prospect analysis. Could still be a trade or FA acquisition, but things look relatively straightforward to me so far:

    Catcher - Jacob Stallings - no brainer, barring injury
    Backup(s) - Michael Perez - less guarantees here, as Tony Wolters could also be in the mix.

    First Base - Colin Moran + Todd Frazier - Bringing in Frazier is an interesting move, since without a DH, his playing time will come at 1B, and you figure he'll make the team. Moran's usefulness can probably be maximized in somewhat of a platoon situation, and I suspect that's the play here, coupled with the fact that the position is pretty thin after Moran anyways.

    Second Base - Adam Frazier - People keep mentioning him as a trade possibility, but at this point my assumption is we're waiting for a team to get desperate and hoping his value remains high.

    Shortstop - Competition between Cole Tucker, Kevin Newman, and Erik Gonzalez - I expect this to be one of the bigger stories heading into camp and don't really know how we'll play it out. Does one guy earn the lion's share of starts heading into the regular season, or is there somewhat of a time sharing situation that gets resolved after the season begins? With Frazier at second base, that leaves less time for one of Tucker and Newman, so it's hard not to see this question as tied up with whether there's a trade there as well.

    Third Base - Ke'Bryan Hayes - Rookie of the year candidate and reasonably good bet for best player on the team. The only moderately interesting question is where you try to bat him and how much lineup protection you can give him.

    Outfield - Bryan Reynolds, Anthony Alford, Brian Goodwin, Gregory Polanco, Jared Oliva - There figures to also be some competition here, with the likely but not guaranteed scenario of Reynolds and Polanco already holding down spots, and some competition for the other starting spot, and a question about how the bench will work and whether one spot will be platooned in some way. Specific spots seem TBD to me, with the only guarantee being that Polanco would be the RF. The rest of them can presumably line up in either LF or CF.

    Bench: I've only given backups for some of the positions, which makes sorting this out a little more convoluted. If we assume 5 bench spots, then you have T. Frazier, Perez/Wolters, 2/3 of the SS candidates, and the 4th OF. I would also anticipate Phillip Evans being in the mix somehow, as he had a very good showing in a very small sample last year before getting hurt.

    I won't predict the lineup yet or anything beyond that generic picture. Honestly, looking at it all at once, things become a lot more straightforward if Frazier is indeed traded. The only thing I'll say about the lineup is that I think hitting Hayes second makes a lot of sense generically, but it's hard to see who makes sense as a leadoff guy. There are too many unknowns to do much forecasting, though.

    Rotation should be straightforward enough:
    Mitch Keller - Lock, and I suspect somewhat for PR reasons, may have an edge for opening day starter. We clearly want him to step up and look like a leader for the next few years.
    Steven Brault - Lock, and I assume the default opening day starter if Keller is only so-so in spring training.
    Chad Kuhl - Lock, depending on performance I could see his rotation spot eventually being up for grabs, as his stuff figures to play up out of the bullpen, but I'd have him on a long leash before considering that and assume the Pirates will too.
    Tyler Anderson - Figures to be a lock, since he was signed to a major league deal. Possible upside play with the baseballs being deflated again and his ability to avoid giving up hard contact. Also gives a lefty option, so should play up reasonably well in PNC Park.
    Competition between JT Brubaker, Wil Crowe, Cody Ponce, and Miguel Yajure - Brubaker figures to have somewhat of an inside track here but I suspect this will be up for grabs in spring training. For control manipulation issues, I assume Yajure won't be the guy, as he's also younger and we'll be in no hurry with him. It's possible that one or two of the guys who doesn't get it go into the bullpen as swingmen, and/or that we run something of a six-man rotation or quasi-bullpenning thing, both to get looks at guys and to share the innings load a little bit.

    I won't try to map out the bullpen other than to say that the locks figure to include Richard Rodriguez and Chris Stratton. Some jobs will be up for grabs, with RichRod having the best chance at closer heading into ST. I assume Luis Oviedo will be here since we need to protect him from the Rule 5. Beyond that, my best guess is the cliched one that it will come down to a combination of merit from ST looks and minor league options/future plans.

    In Summary
    There are a number of storylines to keep an eye on as spring training opens, and the general vibe from the team seems to be that competition will be open for a lot of spots and roles. The biggest "domino" question is probably whether or not Frazier will still be dealt. I lean towards no, unless it's this week as things only really get going in full swing, just because I presume that we want to build a relatively tightknit group. Frazier doesn't figure in the longterm plans, but it's very easy to see us relying on him as a competent starter in the hopes that we can flip him at the deadline for something valuable and then give a few months of ABs to someone like Newman.

    I don't think there are really any big surprise possibilities among younger players that aren't listed here. You want to see Oneil Cruz and Mason Martin have good showings as backup ST players, but it would be a huge surprise if either makes the team at some point during the year, for service time reasons and readiness reasons combined. Maybe someone under the radar who is worth concluding the preview with is Rodolfo Castro, a switch hitting 2B with power and speed who some seem to really like, and who we probably shouldn't have left off the "other notables" in prospect discussions.

    Castro obviously has several people in front of him for playing time, but I'll have an eye out for him in spring training and throughout the year. He's on the 40-man already and has the kind of profile that I think the front office likes. It's a bit of a stretch, but I think he's someone who could end up in the mix after the trade deadline if he puts together a pretty good season, Frazier is gone, and Newman isn't showing much in his ABs.
     
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