Just a few items tangentially related to the Pirates:
The Miami Herald is reporting that talks between Boston and Miami over Giancarlo Stanton “may be heating up.” This is good news for Pirate fans, because one team that’s persistently popped up in Stanton rumors is St. Louis. The Red Sox seem a plausible player because (1) Dave Dombrowski has a history of big moves, like acquiring Miguel Cabrera, (2) the Red Sox probably still have the young players to make it work, like Andrew Benintendi, and (3) the Sox had a strange power outage this year. Also, Stanton reportedly wants to play on one coast or the other and to play with a contender, and he has full no-trade protection. So hopefully this will go somewhere quickly. (Then again, considering Stanton’s injury history, his contract could bury the Cardinals for a decade if things go wrong.)
RHP Alex Cobb, who’s expected to decline a qualifying offer from the Rays, really sounds as if he’d like to rejoin Joe Maddon. Cobb had a nice comeback from Tommy John surgery this year, but he’s far from risk-free. His 179 innings this year were easily a career high and, if you take into account the change in the way velocity is registered this year, his fastball has lost a tick from before the surgery. And his K/9 and swinging strike rate were down quite a bit from prior years.
Finally, FanGraphs has a very interesting article up, from Jeff Sullivan, about pitch framing. Sullivan says that, over the last several years, pitch-framing data has become much less consistent, meaning that individual catcher framing performances have become much less predictable from year to year. Sullivan doesn’t pretend to know why the data trends have suddenly changed from prior years, when year-to-year performance was very consistent. He suggests that, with teams paying much more attention to the skill, the recent data may show that it’s easier to learn (and therefore improve) than anybody realized. It’s also possible that it’s not all that repeatable a skill, although it seemed to be a few years ago. This could matter a lot to the Pirates because this year’s data showed that Francisco Cervelli fell off a cliff and Elias Diaz, who was considered a good framer in the minors, was terrible with the Pirates, albeit in a small sample size.