Tag: Evan Meek

Pittsburgh Pirates Spring Training Battles: Who Will Win The Closer Job?

For a change, the Pittsburgh Pirates will come to Bradenton, Florida with not many jobs open for competition. Almost all of the everyday position jobs are penciled in, leaving only a few bench spots to be earned.

On the hill, the fifth starter’s job will be up for competition and a few bullpen jobs will likely be earned as well.

The main battle for fans and fantasy owners to keep their eyes on though is the battle between Joel Hanrahan and Evan Meek to see who will close out games to start 2011.

Now the common reply to this is “Why do the Pirates need a closer since they never win?”

That’s where most are wrong. Granted, having one of these guys as the closer won’t make the Pirates contenders, but constantly blowing ninth inning leads isn’t good for a young team like the Pirates.

The role needs to be defined and new manager Clint Hurdle says it will, but Hanrahan and Meek won’t be in direct competition with each other.

Looking at both guys, Hanrahan has had more experience pitching late in games; although that likely won’t be a factor in Hurdle’s decision making.

Both have power arms and are coming off fantastic 2010 seasons.

Hanrahan appeared in 72 games last season and finished with a respectable 3.62 ERA and allowed less than a hit an inning (58) and only 28 earned runs on the season.  More impressive though is how Hanrahan’s control came along.  He finished 2010 with a fantastic strikeout to walk ratio; striking out 100 batters, while walking only 26.

Meek on the other hand was fantastic in the first half of the season, earning a trip to the All-Star Game.  His second half was good as well. Meek finished the 2010 season throwing 80 innings, sporting a fantastic 2.14 ERA.

He allowed only 19 earned runs on the season, striking out 70 while walking 31.

Both guys could probably step in and do a solid job in the ninth inning, while the other will likely become the primary setup guy.

If the choice were mine, I’d likely give the ball to Hanrahan at the end of the games. He offers up the one thing that Meek doesn’t have at the moment and that’s the ability to strike batters out at any time.

The power of the strikeout is huge. Hanrahan is not afraid to attack anyone with his nasty breaking stuff and will throw it in any count to anyone.  If that’s not working, his high 90’s fastball is plenty enough to get the job done.

While Meek looks to be the closer of the future, for now I think it makes sense to let him continue his natural progression into the role instead of rushing him into it.

While it’s not a major decision, a solid ninth inning guy can add a few more wins to the total. Hanrahan definitely has the stuff to be that guy.  We may see early on if he has the make up for it as well.

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2011 Fantasy Baseball Forecast: Who To Target on the Pittsburgh Pirates

This winter is going to be long and hard for Pennsylvania sports fans, as the Pittsburgh Steelers ended a promising season with a Super Bowl loss to the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Pirates begin what will likely be a record setting 19th straight losing season.
Pirate fans are nothing if not loyal. Perhaps hopelessly loyal of a team that has struggled to win since the days of Andy Van Slyke and a steroid-free Barry Bonds. The ghosts of Doug Drabek and Bobby Bonilla can’t help the 2011 Bucs, and the beautiful PNC Park will likely go another season without a winning team.
Although the team does have a few promising players like Andrew McCutchen, Evan Meek, Pedro Alvarez and Neil Walker, they lack the pitching required to compete in the highly competitive NL Central. Newly hired Clint Hurdle will likely bring a new fire and determination to Steel Town, yet from a fantasy perspective, there is very little to get excited about.


Key Additions

Garrett Atkins
Kevin Correia
Matt Diaz
Lyle Overbay


Key Losses

Delwyn Young
Andy LaRoche
Zach Duke


Who to Target

McCutchen is the only marquee player to target on the Pirates. He is similar to Carlos Gonzalez in that he is a five-tool outfielder. However, he lacks the lineup protection that Gonzalez enjoys in Colorado.
McCutchen had a nice sophomore season for the Bucs, posting a .286 average with 94 runs scored and 33 stolen bases. I look for Andrew to top 20 home runs for the first time in his career while continuing his base stealing prowess under new manager Hurdle.



Although the Pirates lack established fantasy talent to target in the early rounds, the team does have a few sleeper candidates with breakout potential. One such sleeper is left fielder Jose Tabada, a second-year player from Venezuela.
Tabada was originally signed by the New York Yankees as an amateur free agent in 2004. He made his major league debut in 2010 for the Pirates after being acquired by the club in the 2008 Xavier Nady trade.
In 441 plate appearances Tabada was able to score 61 runs and steal 19 bases while batting a respectable .299. If he continues his solid play in 2011, he could end up being a nice sleeper candidate in both mixed and NL formats.  His biggest knock is his power; however his base stealing skills and high average make up for lack of pop in his bat.

This article was originally published on www.kramericasports.com, the home of free fantasy news, rankings and advice.

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Pittsburgh Pirates: Five Reasons To Be Optimistic In 2011

Yes, the word optimism and the Pittsburgh Pirates does not ordinarily fit into the same sentence, but their are a few reasons for the city of Pittsburgh to look for the light at the end of an 18-year-long tunnel.

The Pirates are coming off a 105 loss season, but with the additions of some veteran players and the continued development of the young players in the current lineup, the Pirates could be better this season. 

I am not saying the Pittsburgh Pirates are going to win the NL Central and make a Tampa Bay Rays-like run to the World Series, but with the right mentality, timely call-ups, and an acquisition or two, the 2011 Pittsburgh Pirates could be the group that get the infamous monkey off the organizations’ back.

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2011 Pittsburgh Pirates Season Preview: Team Is on the Upswing with Youth

The Pittsburgh Pirates had little reason to smile last season, holding the worst record in Major League Baseball by a full four games. At 57 wins with 105 losses, the Pirates won just 17 games on the road en route to their 18th consecutive losing season. That’s right, 18 years in a row they have had a losing season, which also happens to be the longest streak in professional sports today.

The worst, however, may have already passed as the Pirates have begun to pay attention to the growing talent in their farm system while slowly calling up the next wave of future Pirates and possible superstars.

Center fielder Andrew McCutchen leads the pack of youthful Pirates. At just 24, McCutchen has already established himself as the face of the Pirates. A former first-round pick, McCutchen splashed onto the Major League scene following the trade of Nate McClouth to the Atlanta Braves.

The move opened up a spot for McCutchen who has never looked back. On Aug. 1, 2009, McCutchen homered three times and drove in six runs against the Washington Nationals.

Although he was considered an 2010 All-Star snub, McCutchen has made enough of an impact to be considered one of the best young center fielders in the league.

If McCutchen is Batman, then Pedro Alvarez may be Robin. The second overall pick in the 2008 draft was actually selected in the 14th round of the 2005 draft by the Boston Red Sox.

Alvarez, however, didn’t sign and went to play college ball at Vanderbilt, where he set a school record for home runs in a season and earned a number of awards, including National Freshman of the Year according to Baseball America and was selected to the USA National Team. Alvarez also lead Vanderbilt to the Southeastern Conference (SEC) title in 2007 where he was named tournament MVP.

Alvarez was called up in June of 2010 and after struggling for part of the season, Alvarez finished the season strong, including being named National League Rookie of the Month for September. Alvarez looks to the be the corner stone for the Pirates for many years.

The Pirates continued the youth movement with former first-round pick and starting second basemen, Neil Walker and outfielder Jose Tabata, who was brought over from the New York Yankees in the Xavier Nady trade back in 2008.

Still a few years away, the 2009 fourth overall pick, Tony Sanchez might be second most highly regarded catcher in the minors after New York Yankees’ Jesus Montero.

The Pirates pitching staff may be one of the youngest in the league, with Kevin Correia being the eldest at just 30-years-old. Ross Ohlendorf (brought over in the 2008 trade for Xavier Nady from the Yankees), Paul Maholm (first-round pick), and Brad Lincoln, the fourth overall pick of the 2006 draft lead a youthful Pirates pitching staff.

The Pirates pitching staff could still be joined by the 2010 second overall pick, Jameson Taillon, who stands at 6’6″ and throws a fastball that touches the upper 90s as well as Rudy Owens, the left-handed hurler who was the Pirates Minor League Pitcher of the Year honoree. Last season, Owens finished 12-6 with a 2.46 ERA while playing for Double-A Altoona of the Eastern League.

Finally, relief pitcher Evan Meek, the only Pirate in the 2010 All-Star Game, might be one of the most underrated relievers in the league today. Meek finished the 2010 season with a 2.14 ERA in 70 total appearances.

At the All-Star break, Meek’s ERA was just 0.98, the third lowest in the league after Yankees closer Mariano Rivera and Tigers closer Jose Valverde.

In the end, the Pirates may still suffer a 19th and possibly a 20th straight losing season before things start to turn for the better, but in the meantime, the Pirates are on the right track. They have the talent and farm system in place, the only question will be is, do they have the time to develop that farm system before McCutchen and Alvarez come up as trade bait or free agency.

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Pirates of the City of Pittsburgh: Curse of the Last 18 Years

Alright, kicking off my 30-team preview, we’re starting in the wonderful city of Sixsburgh. A city of rich sports tradition, and champions all around.

Whether you’re on the frozen pond, or on the gridiron, Pittsburgh knows what it takes to win championships. Even the dismal Pirates were once synonymous with success back in the early 1900s as well as the entire 1970s.

Since their last postseason appearance in 1992 the Pirates have had no winning records, and two 100-loss seasons. The Pirates ship sank a long time ago, and with any hope of bringing it back, well…not even Johnny Depp could produce a winner out of this one. A modern tragedy over 18 years in the making.

The 2010 Pirates were one of two teams in all of baseball with more than 100 loses, and trading away Zach Duke early in the offseason sent a message—that this franchise is in a long, drawn out rebuilding process. But how long does it take to rebuild? 

The hiring of manager Clint Hurdle was a great move in my opinion, he’s someone who can help the Pirates immediately. Hurdle is going to put his best lineup on the field every day, and he is a winner.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t have much to work with. Here’s what the Pirates’ lineup and starting rotation looks like right now.

C: Chris Snyder

1B: Lyle Overbay

2B: Neil Walker

3B: Pedro Alvarez

SS: Ronny Cedeno

LF: Jose Tabata

CF: Andrew McCutchen

RF: Garrett Jones


SP: Paul Maholm

SP: Ross Ohlendorf

SP: Charlie Morton

SP: James McDonald

SP: Kevin Correia

CL: Joel Hanrahan


The Pirates were relatively quiet this offseason and that should come as no surprise, but I like the move they made by signing Lyle Overbay. He’s an experienced first baseman who brings a consistent bat to a very inconsistent lineup. 

Jones and McCutchen are the best players on this team though, without question, and it will be interesting to see what happens with both of these player throughout the course of the regular season.

This is McCutchen’s team, and he is an emerging superstar. Leading the Pirates with a .286 AVG last season, as well as 33 stolen bases. There is no doubt in my mind that McCutchen is an all-star talent, but as Pittsburgh has proven in the past. They simply are not willing to pay up in order to keep their talent.

If Pittsburgh manages to hold onto both of them, the rebuilding may be over sooner rather than later…unfortunately, the Pirates are also in one of the toughest divisions in baseball year in and year out.

Pitching is the key concern for the Pirates, as their “ace” Paul Maholm won a total of nine games last season and had an ERA of 5.10. However, their is no lack of talent, or prospects in this rotation.

Ross Ohlendorf has solid stuff, a high 90s fastball and a nasty sinker, he was the only Pirate’s starting pitcher with a winning record during his first full season in 2009. If this club wants to climb out of the cellar of the NL Central, they will be needing a big year from Mr. Ohlendorf.

An interesting position battle surrounds this team heading into spring training as well. That is the battle for the full-time closer between Hanrahan, and Evan Meek. Hanrahan was the closer during the 2010 campaign, but I expect his duties to be handed over to the surprisingly dominant Meek.

As the setup man in 2010, Meek posted impressive numbers for a less than impressive bullpen with a 2.14 ERA, as well as 15 holds for a team that only won 57 games. Meek was also selected to the NL All-Star team and is one of the few bright spots on a team that has not been able to hold on to their talent for over a decade.

Although the Pirates still have many questions, including the middle of their batting lineup, as well as the bottom half of their starting rotation. This is a team who has more potential than the rest of the bottom feeders.

But as for this season, well…the 2011 Pirates may not win any Oscars (or more than 60 games), but this sequel should be an improvement on an atrocious 2010.

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Pittsburgh Pirates: Year-End Awards Edition

I know everyone has been on the edge of their seats anxiously awaiting to see who would be so lucky to be honored by achieving my year-end Pirates awards.

On a team that lost 105 games, awards aren’t likely for many of these guys. Or deserved for that matter. What fun would that be though?

Let’s dive right in and see who receives the dubious honors to conclude the 2010 season.

Feel free to comment and add your own opinions on each award.

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Who Should Be the Pirates Closer for 2011?

Not that it matters much for the rest of the season, but the last two months could go a long way to determine jobs for next season. One job being auditioned for is next year’s closer between Joel Hanrahan and Evan Meek.

Both have had outstanding seasons in set-up roles. Meek made the All-Star team. Hanrahan leads the entire team in strikeouts, despite throwing only 48.1 innings on the season.

You can make a strong case for both; I will make my case for Hanrahan. 

Everyone knows that getting the final three outs is much more difficult than getting the prior 24 outs in the game. It takes a special mental make-up, something I feel both guys have.

Hanrahan offers a little more experience closing games, but that shouldn’t have much of an impact in manager John Russell’s decision.

However, the one real weapon that Hanrahan offers a little more than Meek is the strikeout. He has the ability to pitch himself out of trouble a little more often. His fastball can hit 98 mph on the radar gun and if he is throwing his slider down in the zone, it’s nearly unhittable.

Both guys have shown that they can get outs late in games. However, when the tying run is on third with only one out, I have more confidence in Hanrahan to get out of that jam.

Either guy would do a fine job in the role. I feel Meek would be more suited for an 8th inning role for a season before becoming the closer. 

Let both guys get the opportunity for the rest of the season. It will be good for both of them to have the experience and gain the confidence. It’s a good situation for the Pirates to have with two power arms at the back end of the bullpen. 

Hopefully both guys continue to pitch well and it won’t matter who gets the ball at the end of the game.

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MLB Trade Deadline Impact: The Big Winners and Even Bigger Losers


Greeting sports fans, and welcome to this special analysis of the trade deadline moves and their impact on fantasy players.  There was a flurry of activity leading up to the July 3 non-waiver deadline, with some teams taking advantage and improving their teams, while others stood by idly and didn’t make any moves. 

The rampant rumors of Jayson Werth, Adam Dunn et al. being moved did not materialize.  In any event, there is plenty of impact to fantasy values that will affect a number of players and teams.  Here are a few of them…


Matt Capps, RP, MIN
The National’s All-Star closer had already racked up 27 saves for the last-place club.  He will be in line to improve on that number now that he will be closing for a pennant-contending team.  Capps has been a great fantasy contributor providing three wins in addition to his 27 saves.   He has posted a 39:9 K:BB ratio thus far, along with a more than respectable 2.68 ERA and 1.29 WHIP.  The move to Minnesota is a big plus for owners of Capps where his already high fantasy value will get a boost. 

Drew Storen, RP, WAS
The Nationals began the Storen era in Washington by clearing the way to the closers role with the trade of Capps.  The word out of Washington was that Storen would share the closing duties with Tyler Clippard and Sean Burnett.  But smart money would have Storen closing on a regular basis before season’s end.  Storen’s season began on May 17 and to date, he has posted a 2.45 ERA with a 1.21 WHIP and a 28:14 K:BB ratio.  He has also contributed with three wins out of the ‘pen.  Fantasy owners are scrambling to pick up Storen who is number one on the Most Added Players List (ESPN) with a 34.6 percent ownership. 

Jake Westbrook, SP, STL
The Cardinals acquired Westbrook in the three team deal which saw Ryan Ludwick get shipped off to San Diego.  St. Louis was in desperate need of solidifying the back end of their rotation for a run at the division crown.  They have been patching their rotation with an over-the-hill Jeff Suppan and the unimpressive Blake Hawksworth occupying the slots of Kyle Lohse and Brad Penny, both on the DL.  Westbrook had been very hittable this season, but began to turn it around after the All-Star Break.  In four starts since (25.2 IP) he had a 3.86 ERA and 18:9 K:BB ratio.  He gains a good deal of value by moving to a contender and getting to work with Dave Duncan.  In his first start for the Cards, he put up the following line: 6 IP/4 H/2ER/1 BB/7 K’s.  He’s only owned in 8.3 percent of fantasy leagues (ESPN). 


Evan Meek/Joel Hanrahan, RP, PIT – Both will see an increase in value with Dotel off to greener pastures.  They will share save opportunities going forward, but Meek has the higher ceiling.

Brett Wallace, 3B, HOU – After Lance Berkman was shipped to the Yankees, Wallace was acquired from Toronto and will be given a shot to be the everyday 1B.

John Jay, OF, STL – Jay seized the OF spot vacated when Ryan Ludwick was traded to SD.  He has a .366 BA with 45 hits in 51 games on the season.


Jon Rauch, RP, MIN
Mr. Rauch lost most of his fantasy value when Mr. Capps was acquired.  After Joe Nathan went down for the season, Rauch stepped in and did an admirable job as the closer for the Twins.  He converted 21 out of 25 save opportunities.  However, his underlying stats were a little less than impressive–29 K/43 H in 39 IP and opponents were batting .277 against him.  For his career, Rauch has converted only 26 out of 44 save opportunities, not exactly the kind of numbers that instill confidence for a pennant-chasing team.  His ownership has plummeted from 98.8 percent to 66.5 percent (ESPN) in the last seven days and will continue to drop with every save Capps accrues.  

Octavio Dotel, RP, LA
Dotel is another closer who lost a great deal of value after he was dealt to Los Angeles to solidify the Dodgers’ bullpen.  He was able to compile a respectable number of saves—21 out of 26 opportunities for a terrible Pirates club.  In addition, Dotel posted a better than expected  48:18 K:BB ratio with 35 HA in 41 IP.  In L.A. he will have almost no chance to add to his saves total with Jonathan Broxton firmly entrenched as the Dodgers stopper.  Dotel has seen his value take a nose-dive in the last seven days, dropping from 95.6 percent ownership to 74.1 percent (ESPN). 

Jorge Cantu, 1B, TEX
As the everyday 1B for Florida, Cantu’s value was significantly higher before his trade to Texas.  With the Rangers, Cantu’s role will be reduced to starting primarily against left-handed pitching and pinch-hitting, according to the team.  It was originally thought that Cantu would provide a few starts at 2B to fill in for the injured Ian Kinsler, but that was before Texas acquired Christian Guzman for exactly that purpose.  His value surely would have increased with 2B eligibility.  However, for now Cantu will not have a major impact on fantasy rosters unless his role changes.  His ownership has dropped from 92.4 percent to 85.5 percent (ESPN) and will continue to drop as long as he’s not in the starting lineup on a regular basis.


Kosuke Fukudome, OF, CHI – Desperately needed a change of scenery and to escape Lightnin’ Lou’s doghouse.  He’s only seen 37 AB’s in July with 2 HR/2 RBI.

Miguel Tejada, 3B/SS, SD – His offensive skills were eroding before being acquired by SD.  Now that he’s playing at the spacious Petco, you can expect even less… three hits so far in 15 AB’s for the Padres.

Kerry Wood, RP, NYY – After his trade to the Yankees, Wood’s chances of winning a ring have significantly increased, but his chances for save opportunities is zilch even if he does stay healthy.

*Written by Rosti Satanovsky exclusively for
You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter@TheSportsFariah   

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