The Pittsburgh Pirates currently do not have a General Manager. However, the team’s interim general Kevan Graves is trying to get things in order.
One of the most interesting things about the way the Pittsburgh Pirates front office shakeup occurred was that it happened right on the brink of the offseason. The team decided after a month of inactivity to move on from their President (although he moved on as well) and General Manager.
Yet, here the Pittsburgh Pirates are making roster decisions without replacing the General Manager. Now, a lot of the roster moves are basic moves that any front office should be able to make. Also, the team has interim General Manager Kevan Graves helping with option decisions and 40 man roster shuffling.
Graves made a couple moves yesterday with the biggest being the team picking up Starling Marte‘s 2020 option. However, they made a couple of more minor moves too that at least to this point, gives fans something to talk about before the hot stove heats up.
First the Colorado Rockies announced that they traded left-handed reliever Sam Howard to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Howard is an upside left-handed reliever who was drafted in the third round by the Rockies back in 2014. He definitely has some pedigree, plus he is only 26 years of age. Howard’s fastball averages just under 93 miles per hour, giving him some decent velocity from the left side.
The lefty pitched for the Rockies big league club throwing four innings in 2018 and 19 this past season. His career ERA at this point is 5.87, although his career ERA in the minors is better at 3.85. Also, he has struck out 24 batters in 23 innings, demonstrating some swing and miss stuff. Howard looks like he could be more of a lefty specialist as he has much stronger numbers against them. His strikeout to walk ratio vs lefties is 2.2 while against righties its 1.6. Furthermore, Howard has held lefties to a batting average that is 20 points lower and slugging that is over 100 points lower compared to righties.
The Pittsburgh Pirates lacked a lefty specialist last year. The three lefties in the bullpen were Felipe Vazquez, who closed and will not be back, Steven Brault, who was used as a long man then put into the rotation, and Francisco Liriano, who often pitched the entire inning. Howard looks like he could fill into a lefty specialist role for them in 2020.
Meanwhile, to make room on the 40 man roster for Howard the Pittsburgh Pirates had to make another move. They traded hard throwing right-handed reliever Parker Markel to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Markel was claimed off waivers by the Bucs from the Mariners earlier this year. He was very ineffective during his time with the club, posting a 5.71 ERA in 17.1 innings.
These two roster moves are small, but could play a role on the 2020 team. Even with all the front office change, the Pittsburgh Pirates will have to continue to make minor moves and take flyers on players to find those couple of players who can help impact the team.