J.A. Happ arrives, LaFromboise optioned

Bill Brink about 4 hours ago

CINCINNATI -- J.A. Happ joined the Pirates today and was added to the active roster. The Pirates optioned lefty Bobby LaFromboise, who joined the team for about 18 hours after A.J. Burnett went on the DL, back to Class AAA Indianapolis.

“You see them building and building over the years,” Happ said of the Pirates. “You see where they're at, playing really good baseball, a lot of excitement around the club. What more can you ask for than to go to a club that's in it and playing good baseball?”

Happ will make his Pirates debut Tuesday against the Cubs. He has a 4.64 ERA in 1082/3 innings for the Mariners this season. His batting average on balls in play is .313, his Fielding Independent Pitching is 4.07 and his xFIP is 4.03, meaning that ERA might be slightly higher than he deserves, but not much.

He had a 2.30 ERA in four starts in April, but since then has a 5.42 ERA and .803 OPS.

“I'm trying to be more consistent,” Happ said. “I had a few tough outings. For me, getting a fresh start will be a good thing. I know what I'm capable of and I know I feel healthy, so I'm excited to get back out there.”

Clint Hurdle on Happ: “He's shown the ability to pitch, to get deeper in games. He's got a bunch of games he's gone six, seven innings. He's pitched in the American League, usually tougher lineups to navigate through. I believe he's got the pitches to handle both hitters, both sides of the plate. Can sink it, can spin it, change speeds. Looking for a new opportunity. We'll wait and see what he's able to do when he gets out there, but I believe this is an opportunity for him to be the best J.A. Happ he's been.”

***John Holdzkom went on the Class AAA disabled list again because of a right shoulder strain. Indianapolis first baseman Hunter Morris was demoted to Class AA Altoona. 

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Pirates pre-game: Gerrit Cole vs. Raisel Iglesias

Bill Brink about 6 hours ago

Game: Pirates (60-42) at Reds (46-55)

Time: 7:10 p.m. 

Site: Great American Ball Park

TV, radio: Root Sports, KDKA-FM 93.7

Weather: 83 and sunny


CINCINNATI -- Here are the lineups for tonight’s game.


1. Gregory Polanco (L) RF
2. Starling Marte LF
3. Andrew McCutchen CF
4. Aramis Ramirez 3B
5. Jung Ho Kang SS
6. Neil Walker (S) 2B
7. Pedro Alvarez (L) 1B
8. Chris Stewart C
9. Gerrit Cole RHP


1. Brandon Phillips 2B
2. Joey Votto (L) 1B
3. Todd Frazier 3B
4. Jay Bruce (L) RF
5. Marlon Byrd LF
6. Brayan Pena (S) C
7. Eugenio Suarez SS
8. Raisel Iglesias RHP
9. Billy Hamilton (S) CF

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Pirates minor league report 7/31

By Stephen J. Nesbitt / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about 22 hours ago

INDIANAPOLIS (61-46) beat Charlotte, 5-1. RHP Chris Volstad (8-4, 3.15) was the winner, allowing 1 run and 5 hits in 7 innings. Volstad walked 1 and struck out 7. CF Keon Broxton (.240) had 2 RBIs. 2B Alen Hanson (.277) went 2 for 3 and scored 3 runs.

ALTOONA (57-50) lost to Akron, 12-2. RHP Matt Benedict (4-5, 6.15) was the loser, giving up 12 runs and 13 hits in 4 2/3 innings. RF Stetson Allie (.201) went 2 for 3 with an RBI.

BRADENTON (54-50) swept a doubleheader against Tampa, 5-4 and 5-3. In the first game, RHP Tyler Eppler (4.15) gave up 2 runs and 3 hits in 2 innings. LHP Andy Otamendi (3-5, 5.93) was the winner. CF Austin Meadows (.306) hit a 2-run homer. In the second game, RHP Felipe Gonzalez (5-4, 3.14) was the winner, allowing 1 run and 4 hits in 5 innings. RF Harold Ramirez (.371) went 2 for 4 with 2 RBIs.

WEST VIRGINIA POWER (61-42) beat Lakewood, 9-2. RHP Yeudy Garcia (10-5, 2.00) was the winner, giving up 1 walk and no hits in 5 scoreless innings. SS Tyler Filliben (.244) went 3 for 5 with 3 RBIs. 3B Jordan Luplow (.252) went 2 for 5 with 2 RBIs.

WEST VIRGINIA BLACK BEARS (21-19) beat Connecticut, 7-1. RHP Jonathan Brubaker (4-3, 3.72) was the winner, allowing 4 hits in 5 shutout innings. SS Kevin Newman (.230) went 2 for 5 with a home run and 2 RBIs.

GCL PIRATES (19-11) beat GCL Yankees, 2-1. RHP Adam Miller (0.00) gave up 2 hits in 2 scoreless innings. RHP Yunior Montero (2-1, 3.13) was the winner. DH Jhoan Herrera (.330) had an RBI double.

BRISTOL (15-19) beat Danville, 4-2, in 13 innings. RHP Billy Roth (4.83) allowed 1 run and 5 hits in 7 innings. RHP Dan Urbina (2-3, 4.58) was the winner. RF Edgar Figueroa (.250) hit the winning 2-run homer. 1B Carlos Munoz (.386) doubled twice.

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Pirates to promote Josh Bell to Indianapolis

Bill Brink about 22 hours ago

CINCINNATI -- The Pirates plan to promote first-base prospect Josh Bell to Class AAA Indianapolis Saturday.

Bell is the No. 4 Pirates prospect according to Baseball America. He was hitting .310/.379/.431 for Class AA Altoona, with five homers, 17 doubles, 44 walks and 48 strikeouts. 

Bell has been playing first base for less than a year. The Pirates moved him from the outfield to first base last fall, beginning in earnest in the Arizona Fall League. Talent evaluators I’ve talked to have offered differing opinions on his defense, from He’s making progress, to, He’s got a ways to go, but his athleticism helps him make plays even if his positioning/fundamentals are off, to, He’s just bad. 

Pedro Alvarez is a free agent after 2016. He is making $5.75 million and will get a raise in his final season of arbitration. He is, by any measure, the worst defensive first baseman in baseball. His 15 homers and 15 doubles help him to a 106 OPS+, but both Fangraphs and Baseball Reference versions of WAR have him as a sub-replacement-level player. He strikes out nearly 25 percent of the time and walks less than last year, 8.8 percent compared to 10.1. He has a .307 OBP.

I’m not sure a month and a half at triple-A can convince the Pirates that Bell is ready to replace Alvarez, so the guess is Alvarez stays, but the Pirates have been trying, to some degree or other, to move him since December, with no luck. 

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Pirates place A.J. Burnett (elbow inflammation) on DL

Bill Brink 1 day ago

CINCINNATI -- The Pirates placed A.J. Burnett on the 15-day disabled list today because of inflammation in his right elbow. 

Burnett has struggled in three starts since the All-Star break, allowing 18 earned runs and 32 hits in 16 innings. Last night he allowed eight runs, seven earned, and 10 hits in 41/3 innings, the third consecutive start he allowed double-digit hits.

The acquisition of J.A. Happ, who like Burnett pitched Thursday, makes even more sense in the context of Burnett’s injury, though it is unclear whether or not the Pirates were in on Happ prior to learning they would need to put Burnett on the DL.

Lefty Bobby LaFromboise was recalled from Class AAA Indianapolis to take Burnett’s place on the roster.

Also the Pirates designated righty Deolis Guerra for assignment to make room for Joakim Soria. Guerra allowed runs in each of his past three outings, and in five of his past six. 

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