Bob Nutting stars in The Wolf of Federal Street

How Times Have Changed for Pittsburgh Pirates


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Jerry Sands and Ryan Reid are no longer Pittsburgh Pirates.  Today the New York Mets claimed Reid off waivers while Sands went to the Tampa Bay Rays.

Sands looked lost when he came over to the Bucs in the Joel Hanrahan mugging of the World Champion Boston Red Sox.  The outfielder spent so much time in the cages at Bradenton his hands were bleeding, but it simply never paid off as he was sent packing early in camp.  Sands was with Indianapolis the entire year where he barely topped the Mendoza line in 106 games.

The Bucs sent him to Puerto Rico for Winter ball, but the results were much of the same.

Reid was a quality get for Bucs GM Neal Huntington and company.  A reliever who provided great depth at AAA and at times was unstoppable for Indy and pitched well with Pittsburgh–seven games, eleven innings pitched, seven punchouts and an ERA+ of 223.

The Pirates designated both Reid and Sands to clear 40-man space for Edinson Volquez and Clint Barmes.  Neither Volquez or Barmes is a slam dunk in 2014, but each player provides something Reid and Sands don’t.

The Bucs needed a good glove utility player and the brass simply loves Josh Harrison for whatever reason, so Barmes is a need.  The Pirates have an affinity for a reclaimation project each year.  While Volquez is the most expensive reclaim in team history, the right handed starter was a must for the Pirates with A.J. Burnett still talking his wife into the idea of him returning to baseball.   Reid is a bullpen arm that the Pirates are very adept at finding, fixing, and plugging into their system.  Reid was gone no matter what anyway, because he would have declared minor league free agency had he cleared waivers.  We trust he does well with the Mets, as he was solid for the Bucs in limited action.

A few years ago players like Sands and Reid were snatched by the Bucs.  *Sound the alarm for RumBunter Photoshop Flashback…

Officially no longer interested in the Brandon Wood foray.

Officially no longer interested in the Brandon Wood foray.

Brandon Wood is on the clock. We have to guess he has two weeks left to figure it out.

Brandon Wood is on the clock. We have to guess he has two weeks left to figure it out.

Now the Pirates are on the opposite side of these moves, after waiting for so damn long, all we can say is thank Sweet Baby Jesus.

___________

Couldn’t help but share this with you from May of 2011.

Five Reasons We Are Weary of Pirates Brandon Wood Experiment

When the Pittsburgh Pirates made the waiver claim for Brandon Wood the owner of the local baseball card shop was pumped. We laughed and expressed our doubts. He scoffed as he scrambled to find Wood rookie cards to move into the Pirates display case.

Now let’s get something staight. Once Wood put on the Pirates black and gold we have been firmly behind him. But the fact he has been an out machine is wearing on our fanhood.

Brandon Wood has been as advertised.

The thought process of the Pirates brass was a good one. Brandon Wood fills a need. He’s inexpensive. Low Risk. Josh Harrison isn’t ready. Chase d’Arnaud isn’t ready. Jordy Mercer is going to be a stud, but isn’t there yet. Predictably, the option of Josh Rodriguez failed.

But looking at Brandon Wood for the next couple of weeks seems like a failure as well. We know the past few weeks have been which is evident about 80% of the time he steps to the plate.

We realize as Pirates fans we typically have to settle for horseshit. We know the drill. But Wood is taking horseshit to the next level.

If this were Ronny Cedeno, fans would be having a freaking meltdown. The fact is Ronny Cedeno at least shows flashes of being a talent. The way Wood has performed is similar to a .99 cent bottle of flat black spray paint. It sucks. But for now, it’s priced right.

We understand that Neal Huntington and company are looking for the next Jose Bautista. (Who in MLB isn’t) But Wood has shown nothing that would lead one to believe he is going to repeat his performance as the 2005 minor-league home-run champ.

TAv is something called true average that is used by Baseball Prospectus. It is corrected for league offensive level, quality, the stat also factors in the parks in which the hitter has played. If a player is around .300 the player is really good. A TAv of .260 is league average.

So what Brandon Wood has done is remarkable. In the BP 2011 Annual you can read the following about Wood: Since 1954 the only position player to post a seasonal TAv lower than Wood’s .121 in a minimum of 200 plate appearances is Tony Pena, Jr. who managed a .117 mark in 2008.

History has shown Brandon Wood needs to fix something. We don’t see anything that shows Wood has been repaired by Clint Hurdle and the gang. We actually wrote about Hurdle saying he hadn’t touched anything with Wood to that point.

Maybe now is a good time.

Wood is continually behind in the counts. Of course, he is hitting just awful when behind, but if he could ever learn to battle ahead of pitches perhaps our eyes would not be weary of watching Wood swing and miss.

You are missing by this freaking much Brandon! Photo: Dejan PG+

 

Last night, against the right hander with the best ERA in the league who also speaks four languages, Wood fell behind 0-2 before fly fishing uncertainly the first time up with one out and a runner on first.

In the fifth inning Wood looked at the first strike, went fishing on the second pitch to fall behind 0-2 and flew out to right center field. (This was the highlight of the night. It was cool he went to right field–apparently that is a sucess.)

In the seventh inning Wood worked ahead in the count for the first time. He saw three balls, took a strike down Liberty Avenue, fouled a pitch into the first base seats, and then had an infield fly out. Wood swung at a pitch that looked to be in the zone–he typically swings at 36 percent of pitches outside the zone, or over seven percent more than the ML average. That’s not good, but the fact that when he does swing at pitches outside the zone he misses them, really sucks. Wood connects well below ML average, about 11.5 percent of the time.) [FanGraphs]

Brandon Wood is on the clock. We have to guess he has two weeks left to figure it out.

When he falls behind in the count, as expected, he is awful. But remember Wood takes it to a new level. He is hitting .160 when behind in the count with 11 strikeouts in 25 at-bats.

In fact, he has struckout 20 times in 60 at-bats. Nothing is changing. If you were to watch a fly fisherman cast his fly rod upside down, it would distinctly resemble Wood’s hacks when he attempts to hit curveballs.

We would be thrilled to eat crow when we visit the local baseball card shop. Nothing would be sweeter than to see Woods’ stack of cards thinning out as Pirates fans snatch up a guy who once was thought to be a serious power hitting talent in MLB. Now his comparables are Scott Moore, Matthew Brown and a guy familar to Pirates fans, Andy Marte.

So when we walk into the card shop, instead of hearing —”I told you so!” We are greeted with the back of the head of the owner. He scurried to the back of the story each of the last four times we have visited.

We happened to take a look in his Pittsburgh Pirates baseball card showcase. It never lies.

The Brandon Wood baseball card selection hasn’t changed. Sort of like his performance on the baseball diamond thus far.

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BP Brandon Wood

Dejan photo of Bob Nutting talking about hitting or the size of the fish Wood could catch.

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  • Jack

    Thanks for still another, perceptive and amusing column, Tom.

    I especially chuckled at this metaphor. “The way Wood has performed is similar to a .99 cent bottle of flat black spray paint.”

    Have to notice, though, that your brief bio still has the phrase, “his patience is wearing thin.” Even after the steady progress the Bucs have made over the last 3 seasons?

    Finally, one of my favorites from last season is Justin Wilson, whose 2013 stats are among the best ever. What amazes me is that his solid, dependable contribution to the 2013 season is rarely acknowledged.

    How do you see his future?

  • rumbunter

    Jack,
    You’re great for this guy’s ego…thank you. I appreciate your feedback more than you will know.
    About the bio, I didn’t change it because there are still things the Pirates need to fix. I have written about small things at PNC like its’ lack of restrooms and horrid Wi-Fi, the handcuffs that are placed on NH and Frank still bother me and until some of the basics of the franchise are fixed that comment will remain. But you are correct and thank you for noticing.
    Justin Wilson is a stud. He should be given an opportunity to be a starter again and to simply ignore his talent in that regard is wasteful. Wilson wants to do it, but while it was acknowledged by NH it was also brushed off. Sort of in a way like, (but not exactly stated like this),,,,Wilson was successful because of the role he was placed in, not because of his talent. I beg to differ and firmly believe he could be a solid back end of the rotation starter on a team that if things don’t go perfectly will need one by the end of April.