. Rumors today came that Clint Barmes is going to be a Pittsburgh Pirate. This would definitely solve the shortstop debate. He is a solid defender and has much more pop than Cedeno. He is a little bit of an injury risk, but remember, he did play for Hurdle to begin his career. The deal was widely reported to be in the two years $11 million range, but Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman reportedly says the deal is two years and $10.5 million. For those of you who think this is a lot of money, consider Jamie Carroll who was just signed for $6.75 over two years and how much Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins will be overpaid to stay. Tim Williams who is responsible for the Pirate Prospects website/blog rated Barmes as the third best shortstop, so this would be a great signing for the Pirates and would show that GM Neal Huntington is committed to winning now.
. Who is Duke Welker?
A lot of you I’m sure expected the Pirates to have a lot of players to protect in the Rule-5 Draft. Mike Crotta whose sinker earned him a spot on the 2011 Opening Day roster was not protected. Andrew Lambo a part of the deal that sent James McDonald to the Pirates was also not protected. Those who were protected are Starling Marte, Jordy Mercer, Matt Hague, Rudy Owens, Justin Wilson and Duke Welker. A lot of these names are familiar to Pirate fans, but not many know who Duke Welker is. Welker, according to the Pirates website started the season with the Bradenton Marauders and compiled a 2.25 ERA in 36 appearances. He moved to Altoona in mid-August and had eight appearances there allowing six runs on 11 hits and 10 innings. The Pirates look to keep him as a reliever. I was a little interested in keeping him, but he has the chance to rise up through the system as he proved last season.
. Is Xavier Paul gone?
With so many Rule-5 players the Pirates had to protect, there had to be casualties on the 40 man roster, and catcher Eric Fryer and outfielder Xavier Paul. Fryer’s move makes a little sense, as the Pirates claimed catcher Brian Jeroloman off waivers. While many bloggers prefer Fryer, the Pirates want to see what Jeroloman can bring in terms of depth. He is expected to compete with Mike McKenry for the backup catcher position. Catcher Matt Pagnozzi also was sent off the 40 man roster and outrighted to the minors. The main loss of these three is Paul though. Paul’s speed served the Pirates well and many remember his crashing into the catcher to win a game as an image for last season. He many served as a pinch runner and the Pirates decided to cut ties. Paul essentially has 10 days to sign with a team or else he will be released. The Pirates have expressed interest in bringing back Paul, but his role as well as his destination at the start of the season would be unknown.
Here is a list of the Pirates promo schedule for next season. I received this in the mail today.
Thurs April 5: Opening Day/Magnetic Schedule
Sat April 7: Fireworks/Scratch’n Win
Sun April 8: Kids Pirate Parrot Build-A-Bear Doll/Kids Day
Fri April 20: Free Shirt Friday
Sat April 21: Pirates Umbrella/Scratch’n Win
Sun April 22: Earth Day & Kids Recycled Cap/Kids Day
Fri May 4: Free Shirt Friday
Sat May 5: Fireworks/Scratch’n Win
Sun May 6: Kids Pierogy Ceramic Bowl/Kids Day
Fri May 11: Free Shirt Friday
Sat May 12: Joel Hanrahan All-Star Bobblehead/Scratch’n Win
Sun May 13: Kids Neil Walker Replica Home Jersey/Moms Neil Walker Replica Pink Accent Home Jersey/Kids Day
Fri May 25: Free Shirt Friday
Sat May 26: Fireworks/Scratch’n Win
Sun May 27: Kids Andrew McCutchen Replica Camo Jersey/Kids Day
Fri June 8: Free Shirt Friday
Sat June 9: Heritage Celebration/Post-Game Concert/Scratch’n Win
Sun June 10: Kids Sunglasses/Kids Day
Fri June 22: Free Shirt Friday
Sat June 23: Replica Cap/Scratch’n Win
Sun June 24: Kids Pirates Braided Necklace/Kids Day
Fri July 6: Free Shirt Friday
Sat July 7: FanJam featuring Daughtry (“It’s Not Over”, “Home”, “No Surprise”)/Scratch’n Win
Sun July 8: Kids Pierogy Inner Tube/Kids Day
Fri July 20: Free Shirt Friday
Sat July 21: Fireworks/Scratch’n Win
Sun July 22: Pirates Visor (All fans receive)/Kids Day
Fri August 10: Free Shirt Friday
Sat August 11: Skyblast featuring Zambelli Fireworks and act TBD/Scratch’n Win
Sun August 12: Kids Back to School Lunch Bag/Kids Day
Fri August 24: Free Shirt Friday
Sat August 25: Fireworks/Scratch’n Win
Sun August 26: Pirates Gym Bag (All fans receive)/Kids Day
Fri September 7: Free Shirt Friday
Sat September 8: Fireworks/Scratch’n Win
Sun September 9: Kids Fathead Jr. Wall Decals/Kids Day
Fri September 28: Free Shirt Friday
Sat September 29: Skyblast featuring Zambelli Fireworks and act TBD/2010 Magnetic Schedule/Scratch’n Win
Sun September 30: Pirates Fleece Blanket (All fans receive)/Kids Day
There are games October 1, 2 and 3 against the Atlanta Braves, but no promos have been made public on those dates.
Some game times different than expected:
Opening Day Thursday April 5th: First pitch is 1:35
Wednesday April 25: First pitch is 12:35
Wednesday May 23: First pitch is 12:35
Monday May 28: First pitch is 1:35
Saturday June 23: First pitch is 4:05
Wednesday July 4: First pitch is 1:35
Saturday July 7: First pitch is 4:05
Wednesday July 25: First pitch is 12:35
Thursday August 9: First pitch is 4:05
Thursday August 16: First pitch is 4:05
Monday September 3: First pitch is 1:35
Thursday September 20: First pitch is 4:05
Wednesday October 3: First pitch is 12:35
The Pittsburgh Pirates made their first splash in free agency by signing Rod Barajas to a one year contract worth $4 million. The contract also includes a $3.5 million option for the 2013 season.
Barajas, 36 has career stats of .238 125 homers and 449 Runs Batted In.
The signing was a must as Michael McKenry is unproven for a full season and showed that at least offensively he was not the catcher. The contract also officially rules out any possible Pittsburgh reunion for Ryan Doumit and Chris Snyder.
Before I get to my overall opinion, here are some stats on Barajas. Barajas was a member of the 2001 World Champion Arizona Diamondbacks and homered off Mike Mussina in Game 5 of the World Series. He also has played for the Texas Rangers, Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Mets and last season the Los Angeles Dodgers. He also has played with the Mexican national baseball team.
In 98 games with the Dodgers last season, Barajas hit .230 with 16 homers and 47 Runs Batted In.
Most home runs: 2005 with the Rangers when he hit 21
Most RBI: 2009 with the Blue Jays when he had 71
Best batting average: 2006 with the Rangers when he hit .256
Best fielding percentage: 1.000 in 1999, 2000, 2003 and 2007. Of these he had the most chances in 2003, so that was his best fielding year.
Worst fielding percentage: .984 in 2006
Overall: Barajas was rated the second best catcher out of the free agents, and I think the Pirates were wise in signing him. He essentially is a cheaper Chris Snyder. He does have a low average, but he has some pop in his bat and defends the plate well. If he can stay healthy, this could already be the best signing the Pirates have made all season.