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Monday Mop-Up Duty: framing the question … and shifting left

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SOUTH HILLS – At first glance, the Pirates’ acquisition of Chris Stewart seems inconsequential but it’s a savvy move that takes advantage of a remaining market inefficiency, and improves the backup catching position. (Backup catchers play a lot).

 

The trade means the Pirates now possess two of the top six pitch-framers in baseball, according to the pitch-framing leaderboard  over at CBSSports.com. Dan Fox strikes again.

 

Stewart ranked second last season in runs saved via pitch-framing – the ability to turn borderline balls into strike calls – and Russell Martin ranked sixth. The Pirates really value this skill, which is a paramount reason they were so quick to jump on Martin last offseason. The Pirates were also worried that this market inefficiency would soon be exploited and adopted by most major league teams, but apparently it’s still lacking traction. (We’ll have to see who the PTBNL is before fully assessing the deal).

 

Stewart is also an improvement over Michael McKenry in controlling the running game. He ranked 5th in the AL last season in throwing out attempting basestealers (17) and he has thrown out 33 percent  of attempting basestealers for his career. McKenry - who was designated for assignment on Monday – was sorely lacking in this area.

 

Because Stewart is out of option years and is a stronger defensive catcher than Tony Sanchez, I’d expect Sanchez to open 2014 in Triple-A. If Martin is not back in 2015, Sanchez and Stewart could be competing for the starting job.

 

But as for 2014, improving a 94-win team has focused on adding runs, but it’s also about improving at the margins in saving them, which the Pirates did on Monday.

 

STARTING NINE THOUGHTS … 

 

9.  You know who might be a better free agent value and fit than the 37-year-old AJ Burnett? The 29-year-old Scott Kazmir.

 

Kazmir regained his velocity last season in Cleveland  (92 mph average fastball) and CBSSportsline.com projects him to earn a two-year $17.5 million deal this offseason compared to the projected one-year, $12 million price for Burnett.

 

Burnett led the NL in strikeout and groundball percentage last season… but he was helped by the Pirates’ two-seam philosophy, shifting and pitch framing. So Kazmir could expect a similar spike in strikeout rates and an additional boost in moving to the National League. He is the Francisco Liriano of the 2013-14 offseason, in this scribe’s opinion.

 

8. There’s another reason why Kazmir, or someone like him, makes sense: he’s left-handed.

 

 

100 percent agreed.

 

Moreover, who are the hitters the Pirates are going to be most concerned with over the next two seasons? They are the bats from their divisional rivals the Reds and Cardinals. And guess what,  most of those clubs’ premium bats in 2014-15  - Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Matt Carpenter, Oscar Taveras, Matt Adams – are left-handed.

 

As mentioned PNC Park’s outfield dimensions – really deep left field – are favorable to left-handed pitchers  and the Pirates’ system is really deep in right-handed arms but lacking in left-handed arms. That’s a problem given the depth of talented left-handed bats in the division.

 

7. Now do you trust Kazmir with a two-year deal? He’s undersized and injury derailed his promising career. But it’s the risk that makes in affordable and he’s a risk worth taking.

 

6. Other intriguing lefty free agent arms: Chris Capuano, Bruce Chen, Johan Santana (shoulder) and Oliver Perez (remember him? He’s probably a relief-only option now)

 

5. And, hey, remember the Pirates targeted left-handed pitching in the free agent market last offseason with Liriano and a lottery ticket in Jonathan Sanchez.

 

4. No, I’m not suggesting David Price should be a trade target. The ask would be incredible and the velocity ticked down last season.

 

3. It might be time to for the Pirates to become aggressive in finding a rotation arm. Another high-upside free agent pitching option went off the board over the weekend when the Twins signed the right-handed Phil Hughes to a three-year, $24 million  deal. Hughes’ fastball effectiveness is trending the wrong way, and he allows too many flyballs, but Target Field could be an ideal home. I’m not sure if he was ever on the Pirates’ radar.

 

2.  On another subject, the addition of Jaff Decker probably makes Travis Snider a non-tender candidate prior to tonight’s tender deadline. Garrett Jones will also be non-tendered if he hasn’t been traded. The Pirates are expected to tender their eight other player eligible for arbitration.

 

1. Here’s a list of service time and projected costs from Pirates Prospects:

 

  • Garrett Jones, OF (4.158): $5.3MM (non-tender candidate)
  • Neil Walker, 2B (3.166): $4.8MM
  • Pedro Alvarez, 3B (3.085): $4MM
  • Charlie Morton, SP (5.010): $3.9MM
  • Mark Melancon, RP (3.098): $3MM
  • Gaby Sanchez, 1B (4.025):  $2.3MM
  • Travis Snider, OF (3.091): $1.4MM (non-tender candidate)
  • Vin Mazzaro, RP (3.021): $800K

 

STAT(S) OF THE WEEK:

Gregory Polanco‘s projected tool grades by Baseball America

 

Hit: 60

Power: 60

Speed: 70

Arm: 70

Glove: 70

 

That’s an elite, better-than-Marte package, and it’s close. Polanco is playing well in Winter Ball. Neal Huntington and Clint Hurdle watched him play in the Dominican late last month.

 

HE SAID IT

 

Mets GM Sandy Alderson was surprised by the Jhonny Peralta deal (me, too). Via the NY Post:

 

“I don’t know if anybody was terribly surprised by the McCann contract,” Alderson said of Brian McCann signing with the Yankees for five years and $85 million, with a vesting option for a sixth year. “I think people have been surprised about the Peralta contract.” 

 

NON BASEBALL RECOMMENDATION OF THE WEEK

Strong new stuff from Kings of Leon:

- TS

 

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Comments

  1. Nate83 says:

    Thanks Travis for the information on Stewart. I guess the thought is if you can’t join them get better at what you already do well and beat them that way. I’m not sure if this taking runs away will work in the end but it really does seem as if the Pirates are unwilling to add much payroll to produce more runs so the next best thing is to take away runs which seems to be cheaper.

    I still think they add a decent amount of payroll getting a pitcher like Kazmir or Burnett or both. I always thought that going into next year their payroll should be 80-100 million. Unfortunately I’m thinking that it more then likely will be on the low end of that range. I hope the plan is to keep pitching and defense as a stregth and roll the dice that some players get better offensively next year. I’m not so sure it’s not the correct plan because of the lack of free agent options for RF and 1B and the amount of money they would cost compared to the actual improvement they are adding. Is Loney, Smoak or Ike Davis really that big of an improvement over what we could possible get from a Gaby Sanchez/Lambo platoon?

  2. Jeff King says:

    The idea of signing Johan Santana is intriging. I think the Mets killed him in that no-hit game a couple of years ago. He’s never been the same since.

  3. Jason says:

    Travis – Is this proposed trade a realistic proposition?

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2013/12/rockies-pirates-notes-tulowitzki-nolasco-mckenry.html

    Would the Bucs part with Polance AND Hanson?

  4. Andrew says:

    The other names mentioned as pitching options make sense, but Santana is worth a NRI no more, given that he has had a second anterior stabilization surgery for his shoulder.

    And now the As look to be signing Kazmir, not enough buy low candidates to go around.

  5. Nate83 says:

    Not to speak for Travis but I think this was just somebody throwing names out there as possible trade partners. The next long term more then 10 million a year player the Pirates get will be the first one. Tulo has something like 134 million owed him through 2020. Unless the Rockies send about 70 million the Pirates way there is no way they give up 12 years of low cost control on 2 of their top 5 prospects.

    They would be more likely to trade some prospects for someone like Stanton realizing that he would be gone in 4 years but wouldn’t cost too much money and could get prospects back in return if we did trade him later.

  6. Nate83 says:

    If Kazmir is gone I would be disappointed in the Pirates current efforts to get a strarting pitcher. I think they need two of them and they have missed out on a few I thought would have made sense. This essentially would leave pitchers like Capuano and Bartalo Colon. Then again we didn’t see the AJ Burnett trade coming so I guess the best thing to do is stay patiant and see what happens.

  7. Jim S. says:

    Kazmir was brought up here a month or so ago. I was not the one who raised that option, but I agreed at the time that it was a worthwhile gamble at the right price. Maybe it was Boston Commons? Anyway, Kazmir’s made for the NL Central and PNC Park. Not only do HRs go to die in LF/LC of PNC, but so do a lot of other hits when gazelles are patrolling CF and LF as they are for the Bucs. So, I would love to see that signing if it can be done in the 2/$17M range. Phil Hughes probably would not have been such a great signing for the Bucs, even given his age (27) and apparent upside. He needed to go to a place where lefty power hitters are not as costly to his ERA, and he has found that place.

    I would still like AJ to return, but I think that is less and less likely as time goes on without a deal being struck. Maybe Capuano as well? What the heck, let’s load up on LHP.

    Chris Stewart is not a sexy acquisition, but I think it is a savvy one nonetheless. Catchers that frame well and throw out would be base stealers are like gold. This move cost very little, and was well worth it. The Yankees had the best defensive catching combo in MLB, and now we have both of them. The arrogance that flows out of the mouth of Cashman just cracks me up. I don’t know if you recall when they acquired Ichiro, but about 90% of informed observers said this was a stupid move due to his declining skills. I thought Cashman was particularly arrogant at that time, saying something to the effect that the Yankees have an advanced metrics staff that is just smarter than everyone else’s staff. He was convinced no one but them understood the brilliance of that move. I wonder if he still believes that. I have not heard him comment much on allowing the catchers to leave, but I assume he would be equally arrogant. It is amazing how smart you think you are when you get to spend almost your entire career financially wall papering over every mistake you make as a GM. Now that he doesn’t necessarily have that freedom any more, does he still think he is so smart?

  8. Travis Sawchik says:

    Welp:

    https://twitter.com/Ken_Rosenthal/status/407591458154500096

    Great signing for A’s. Not sure if the Pirates were serious players but I’d be surprised if they didn’t call

  9. Jim S. says:

    Can anyone answer, Jason?

    There is no way they would make such a trade, not that it would even be considered by Colorado. It just flies in the face of everything the Pirates organization is doing.

  10. Nate83 says:

    2 years 16 million seems about right based on the current free agent market. I sure hope the Pirates aren’t left holding an empty bag of free agents in one hand and a bag full of money in the other. If they keep waiting for the value deal they may never find it.

    I fear that the Liriano type deals could be a thing of the past with the extra 20-25 million teams now have to spend. It seems like teams are OK with more expensive lottery tickets. Pitchers with ERA’s in the 4.5 range are getting multi-year deals at close to 10 million a year. All it has done is allow other GM’s the ability to make bad signings because of the found money.

  11. Nate83 says:

    Jim, it was a rumor posted this weekend. There is not source attached to it. Just somebody throwing out trade ideas. It’s doesn’t seem as if any phone calls have been made. There was talk of Tulo being traded to the Cards but I’m assuming they said why give up prospects and pay him twice what Paralta will cost. I’m sure there is a team somewhere out there in the mid markets that will give up prospects and take on that money to make their fanbase happy. Or a big market team that wants to go all in.

  12. Travis Sawchik says:

    Kazmir gets 2/22 from A’s.

    If the A’s can afford that, the Pirates can afford it. I think it’s better value than one year of Burnett at $12 million or so.

    We’ll see.

    Chris Capuano just became a lot more interesting

  13. NMR says:

    A couple of you guys owe me beers!!

  14. NMR says:

    Hahahaha, that last line…

  15. NMR says:

    The Liriano-type deals absolutely still exist.

    I said it before, but Kazmir is a poor comparison to Liriano. Kazmir of 2013 was comparable to Liriano. Kazmir of 2014 gets two year guaranteed deals.

  16. BostonsCommon says:

    “If the A’s can afford that, the Pirates can afford it.”

    That doesn’t mean they should spend it. I’m okay if the Pirates do not spend to bring in outside players…. As long as they use that money to keep their own when the time comes.

  17. NMR says:

    Kazmir was not a buy low candidate.

  18. BostonsCommon says:

    was just thinking that…. “More than Johnson and for at least 2 years”.

  19. Jim S. says:

    Yes, I saw it on MLBTR this morning as well, Nate. No one could ever think the Pirates would make such a trade. I think it would take a big market team to take on his super-sized contract and spotty injury history. Rockies say they wouldn’t trade him, but I think they would love someone to toss them a life preserver on that deal.

    Just for kicks, I looked up Tulo’s home vs. away stats from last year.

    Home: .342/.427/.582
    Road: .281/.352/.498

    At bats were almost identical – 225 at home, 221 on the road.

    12 double and 14 HR at home; 15 doubles and 11 HR on the road.

    He’s obviously a very good hitter even on the road. But, he’s not the force on the road as he appears to be at home. With his injury history, I’d be surprised if he is a star in 3-4 years. If only the Cards had actually made that deal and gave up a big chunk of their future. But, they are far too bright for that – as are the Bucs.

  20. Travis Sawchik says:

    Liriano’s original deal was for two years guaranteed, no? …. Even though Kazmir rebuilt some of his value in 2013, I still think there was enough skepticism to make him a value signing. And even at $11 million per he could be a very good value for the next two seasons.

  21. Jim S. says:

    No, he was not.

  22. Jason says:

    I agree that this scenario seems VERY unlikely, given the amount of money owed and the prospects involved. Stanton would be nice, but also unlikely.

  23. NMR says:

    Two years…at the cost of one for Kazmir. And at the time widely panned due to the market only requiring one year for his services.

  24. Jim S. says:

    Wow! I thought it was 2/$16+. I don’t know about $11 million per. He isn’t always reliably healthy.

  25. Nate83 says:

    His buy low was last year. He firmly established himself as a solid #3 if healthy.

  26. Nate83 says:

    2/22 is too high in my opinion. To quote NH they are willing to do something stupid but not crazy.

  27. Nate83 says:

    Blind squirrels can’t drink beer. One with sight can water ski according to the internet but a blind one can’t drink beer.

  28. Jim S. says:

    Yeah, I think those types of deals are killers for organizations like the Pirates Jason. We need years of control over as many of our players as possible.

  29. Jim S. says:

    Please, Nate. It’s “sight-challenged” in 2013.

  30. BostonsCommon says:

    Agree… it’s simple really. When do you make your number 3 or 4 starter the highest paid player on the team?

    …Never

  31. Nate83 says:

    My bad, I should have said a sight-challanged, follicularly-challenged squirrel. I joke because I suffer from extreme lack of hair on my head as well.

  32. Nate83 says:

    If you are the Pirates never and the at is exactly why they probably folded after it reached 8 million per year. I’m surpised it was the A’s willing to do this. I would have thought a team like the Orioles, Diamondback or Mets would have went that high on a player like Kazmir. The market really is changing. I can no longer say in defense of the Pirates would the A’s or Rays do that because the A’s just did it.

    Figures the first time in some 8 years the Pirates have obvious needs while already being competetive and the market becomes even more overpriced then it was.

  33. Nate83 says:

    I agree, they are not the same type of player and their situation are not very similar. I shouldn’t have compared them. I do believe the Liriano deal would have been different this year. Johnson’s situation was similar and he got a good chunk of money.

  34. NMR says:

    Nate, fwiw, the A’s only other starting pitcher option making above league minimum is Brett Anderson, and they’re actively trying to trade him.

    Different situations, for sure.

  35. BostonsCommon says:

    FWIW, I apply that same logic when evaluating possible extensions for Charlie Morton. He’s a good pitcher, and on some teams he might be a number 2. But if it were up to me, I’m not paying him $10-$15M/year to be the number 4 on this team.

  36. Andrew says:

    Alright, undervalued? How do you guys define buy low? A player that underperformed in his previous year based on career levels? Someone whose peripheral stats, xFIP, BABIP do not match their ERA, average? I viewed Kazmir price to be lower than that of player with similar projections due to number and nature of past injuries, but I’ll accept that the term buy low doesn’t fit.

  37. NMR says:

    I called Phil Hughes getting paid, too.

    This game isn’t really that hard when you heir on the side of ridiculous.

  38. Andrew says:

    Does anyone have a way to rationalize the Pirates supposed focus on pitch framing and the past acquisitions of John Buck and Barajas?

    I think Stewart is an ideal backup catcher due to premium defense and an apparently awesome arm, and the relative lack of importance of offense from a backup catcher. However I think his -30.2 Batting Runs over the last three years preclude his ability to be an option as a full time starter, (not sure what New York was thinking going into 2013).

  39. Nate83 says:

    NMR we may have a staff close to that at the end of 2015/ beginning of 2016. Especially if somebody like Stolmy becomes an option. Cole/Taillon/Stolmy/Glasnow. If that is the case it’s a very nice luxary to have. Starting pitching is not cheap. To have a starting 5 that makes 10-20 million combined is a nice advantage to have for a few years.

  40. NMR says:

    Certainly. Just trying to point out that because the Pirates didn’t do that THIS YEAR doesn’t mean they never will.

  41. BostonsCommon says:

    I always figured the Mets said, “Sure you can have Byrd, but you have to take Buck too”.

  42. NMR says:

    Yeah, pretty sure this really happened.

    And as for Barabas, when did people start listening to Dan Fox?

  43. NMR says:

    I think of “buy low” as a player whose immediate past performance decreased his value.

  44. BostonsCommon says:

    Actually, looking back, the Mets sent cash along with Buck and Byrd, so it is a little curious. He was only owed about $1M over the last month of the season.

  45. BostonsCommon says:

    If Phil Hughes gets 3/$24M, what is Charlie Morton going to get?

  46. Nate83 says:

    Or about 1/66th of the Jason Bay contract, or 1/21th of what they paid Bay to just go away. Which puts into perspective how much $1M means to the Mets.

    I think at the time they wanted Buck just incase Martin got injured. They didn’t want a rookie catcher becoming their playoff catcher.

  47. NMR says:

    The artist formerly known as Fausto Carmona will be the only starting pitcher not named Burnett signed by the Pirates this winter (AJ will, too).

    Starting at this year’s Winter Meetings, the Pirates should begin actively shopping Starling Marte for a young shortstop. Cutch is too good to give up, even once his salary escalates, and a good shortstop is needed more than three center fielders.

  48. Jim S. says:

    A talented player who you can get cheaper than you normally would because either he had a run of extremely bad luck or was injured the previous season. Another way to say it, I think, is “good bounce back candidate.”

  49. Jim S. says:

    Well, on Hughes, I did once have a prolonged back and forth with you where I said I thought he had potential in the right place. I don’t like his fly ball rate. He really needs to pitch where flyballs to RF won’t kill him. I believe his historical #’s are a lot better outside of Yankee Stadium. I’m not saying he’s great, but the Twins have the 2 a.m. beer goggles on right now.

  50. NMR says:

    If he turns last year’s performance into 180+ healthy innings? 3/$30m seems like a floor.

  51. Jim S. says:

    Sorry. My Hughes comment about his value was meant as a response to NMR.

  52. Jim S. says:

    Follicularly-challenged. I like that one.

  53. Jim S. says:

    Or, please take Buck and we’ll throw Byrd in as well.

  54. BostonsCommon says:

    Nope. I’ll go with another year of Mercer/Barmes before I give up 5 years of Marte, including two more at league minimum… He’s too good, too young, and has too much room for improvement.

  55. Jim S. says:

    Colon would at least provide fodder for Princess Bride jokes.

  56. BostonsCommon says:

    “3/$30m seems like a floor”

    I’m thinking Edwin Jackson will be the floor.

  57. Jim S. says:

    Good question, Andrew. When was Dan Fox hired? Even if he was already with the team when they traded for Barajas, it could just be that they continue to learn more and more about this analytics stuff each year. Maybe 3 years ago they didn’t see pitch framing in the same light as they do now. The Yankees obviously don’t place as much value in it.

  58. NMR says:

    Ok, then what about the next year? And the year after that? And after that?

  59. Jim S. says:

    Boy, you pose interesting situations, NMR. That is a conundrum. I would have a hard time giving up on Marte. I think you might be right if you are thinking that his offense may not get better. I am ok with his current offense, as long as it doesn’t decline, because his base running and defense are so good. And his XBH power is so intriguing that I would be hard-pressed to give up Marte unless I received a young, nearly “can’t miss” SS with several years of control. Maybe a Profar type. But, I don’t know that we’d get him for Starling. I really like Starling, even with his flaws.

  60. NMR says:

    Edwin Jackson was also three years younger than Morton when he signed.

  61. Jim S. says:

    At some point in the not-too-distant future, our 4th CF, Austin Meadows, will show up raring to go. If that time is 3 years from now, I’d be willing to give up Marte around then.

  62. Nate83 says:

    Are you the guy who was saying the Pirates would trade for Tulo in exchange for Hanson and Polanco?

    I think Burnett will sign as well. I wouldn’t doubt if it’s for 12 million with 2-3 million for incentives for innings pitched. I think the Pirates wanted to see what the starting pitching market could bring for 6-10 million and they are staring to realize it’s not much. I believe Burnett when he said it’s the Pirates or retire and I think he has told them to figure their stuff out and let him know what the official offer is.

    You may be correct about Hernandez (Carmona). He seems like a candidate for a 1 year contract and him and his agent should recognize the Pirates as a good place to show he has something left. Although at 33 years old I’m not sure it’s too late for him to establish himself as anything more then a pitcher that deserves a 1 or 2 year contract at most.

  63. Jim S. says:

    I think he was low cost insurance against an injury to Martin that would have forced Tony Montana into the playoff lineup.

  64. BostonsCommon says:

    It’s a good question. I just don’t think the answer is deal away one of the most valuable assets in the organization.

    2014: Mercer/Barmes
    2015: Mercer/Hanson?
    2016: Hanson

    That’s probably the ideal state.

  65. Nate83 says:

    How many rookies (he just barely missed being one) not named Trout put up a 5.0 WAR. It would have to be a tremendous offer and include a player with years of control in return.

    Didn’t Texas already move one of their SS prospects to 2B so they are no longer interested in trading one of them. SS are hard to find on the trade market. Many teams have few in their system that stick and hardly no teams have an abundance of them being blocked.

  66. NMR says:

    Not a question of Starling’s flaws, Jim, nor am I giving up on him. Completely opposite. I’m using him as an extrememly valauble chip traded from a position of strength in order to land a player in which the Pirates will never have the opportunity to sign through free agency or develop in the next four years, at least.

  67. Nate83 says:

    I also would like to give one more year to Hanson to see if he is indeed the SS of the future. From what I’ve read it sounds like 2B is more likely but his bat may be plus enough at SS to make his defense good enough. I would hate to trade somebody as valuable as Marte to fill a position we already have a good prospect on the way and a adequate person currently playing in Mercer.

    I really feel like in gereral we don’t respect what Mercer did last year. I would really like to see what he is capable of when getting 500-550 at bats.

  68. NMR says:

    My point exactly, Boston.

    The best case scenario in the Pirates immediate and long term future consists of a below average shortstop and a prospect most scouts don’t expect to be a shortstop.

  69. BostonsCommon says:

    Even if Morton goes 180 IP next year, he will still have 500 less IP than Jackson did when he signed that deal…. or about 3 years worth of wear and tear.

    Charlie is going to get paid.

  70. NMR says:

    Hernandez posted a HR rate of 21% last season. His career average was about half that.

    He’ll post an ERA under 4 for somebody next year.

  71. BostonsCommon says:

    They’d better be pretty freaking sure of what they have, or don’t have, in Hanson before moving Marte…

    He’s not just valuable to the Pirates. He’s one of the most valuable assets in baseball, especially if we are talking about non-pitchers… not hyperbole either.

  72. Andrew says:

    Point taken.

  73. NMR says:

    Yes, it is hyperbole.

    Marte is a very good player…but not close to being one of the best values in baseball.

  74. Travis Sawchik says:

    The dollars and years (and prospects) make that extremely unlikely, imo. Rockies would have to include tens of millions of dollars

  75. Travis Sawchik says:

    I’ve never been a big Cashman fan. …. I am a fan of taking a flier on Capuano

  76. Travis Sawchik says:

    In theory, in a vacuum, I agree … but the Pirates’ best players are under club control and thereby are compensated at artificially low values.

    $11 million is equal to a 2-win player. That’s a mid-range free agent. That should be affordable for any contender.

  77. Travis Sawchik says:

    Fox’s growing influence played a significant role in the targeting of Martin last offseason. I don’t think the Pirates were valuing pitch framing prior to 2012. And I think Buck was probably a Mets-driven add-on, not a Pirates’ one … though the Pirates might have been wanting a veteran catching option.

  78. Andrew says:

    I date pitch framing in the general public to around 2011, the theory was around before that, however it seems every writer sights Mike Fast 2011 Baseball Prospectus article for the methodology. In defense of the signing Barajas was rated well on the other aspects of catcher defense. (At some point I would like someone to ask the front office/coaching staff if they really had pitchers not focus on base runners at the major league level in the 2012 season.)

    Glad I am not the only one who thinks Buck was a throw-in.

  79. NMR says:

    The value of a win will never become equal for all teams, no matter how many times you say it, Travis.

    Here’s an investigative journalist challenge: Go find three Major League clubs who agree on the dollar value of a win.

    I’ll be waiting.

  80. Travis Sawchik says:

    I believe Carmona is on the Pirates’ radar as a fallback option type, though the groundball pitcher backed by the smartly aligned defense plan didn’t work so well last year in Tampa.

    I believe the Pirates will eventually trade from their position of strength, OF, to upgrade elsewhere. You don’t trade McCutchen and you don’t trade Polanco (unless you’re getting Stanton). Marte might not be untouchable, particularly when a Josh Bell or Austin Meadows is closer

  81. Travis Sawchik says:

    That would be an interesting question for GMs at the winter meetings …. And I agree that for clubs value can be a relative thing. … but on the free agent market, players and agents are interested in market value.

    The small-market Oakland A’s paid market value for Kazmir – Kazmir was a 2-win pitcher last season. There was no hometown discount, or rebuild-my-value-in-the-West-Coast-marine-layer discount

    And my guess is the A’s see value because they believe Kazmir is a 3- or 4-win pitcher in 2014

  82. NMR says:

    Groundballs and shifts don’t do much good when you post a 21% HR/FB rate, do they?

    Josh Johnson 2013 xFIP: 3.58
    Roberto Hernadez 2013 xFIP: 3.60
    Hughes 2013 xFIP: 4.39

    If you’re somebody who was at all interested in Phil Hughes, you should be all over Roberto Hernandez.

  83. Jim S. says:

    I could live with Capuano as well. Now, AJ + Capuano – that, I would like.

  84. Travis Sawchik says:

    The draw with Hughes, for me, is what if you got him to trade in his four-seamer for a two-seamer? That should spike his GB rate to go along with decent swing-and-miss stuff. There was untapped added value there.

    I don’t have a problem with the Pirates targeting Carmona. I reached out to his agent because I thought they would be interested. Carmona did indeed suffer from some bad luck last season. But Carmona’s stuff and GB rate are trending the wrong way and there’s nothing to rectify that. I think he’s in a slow decline.

  85. Jim S. says:

    Profar is that prospect, Nate.

  86. Jim S. says:

    I hear you. It is a great question. If they think they can replace Starling easier than they can come up with a SS of the future, it might be worth it. Like I said, maybe Profar?

  87. Jim S. says:

    Hughes is only 27. If (and it is a big “if”) he can stay away from the flyballs by throwing the 2-seam more, then he can still improve. Unfortunately for him, he just signed with an organization that will not demand that of him. But, Target Field is much friendlier to RHP than Yankee Stadium. I think Hughes will do ok this year. I also think he is $24 million richer by 2016.

  88. Travis Sawchik says:

    Charles V is going to live like a king

  89. NMR says:

    Then we have very, veerrrryyy different perceptions of these two guys.

  90. NMR says:

    No chance anybody outside Pittsburgh values Marte nearly as much as Profar.

  91. Jim S. says:

    This is completely unrelated to anything we’ve been discussing. I just found it so amusing that I had to mention it. I was watching MLB Tonight on MLB Network last week, and Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams actually said he thinks the Orioles should sign Jim Johnson to an extension rather than Matt Wieters because … wait for it … “Not everyone can close, and Johnson is a proven closer.” Apparently, everyone can catch.

    He also mentioned something about the difficulty of signing a Boras client (Wieters). But, he definitely made the point that he thought locking up Johnson was more important than locking up an all-star catcher.

  92. BostonsCommon says:

    Having a hard time thinking of a list of such players… Trout, Cutch, Goldschmidt, maybe Will Meyers, Machado… There’s not too many of them.

    FWIW fangraphs had him as the 31st most valuable player in July. I’d argue that’s too low, but I didn’t look to see how many pitchers were listed in front of him.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/2013-trade-value-35-31/

  93. NMR says:

    Starling still hasn’t answered the questions many were asking before last year.

    If he does, then he blows the roof off of his value.

  94. Jim S. says:

    Probably not. I just didn’t have a more suitable SS candidate at the ready to suggest. But, I also think Starling may be valued a bit more around MLB than you are giving him credit for. He put up some good offensive numbers in a pitcher’s park.

  95. NMR says:

    Than I give him credit for? How do you know how much I give him credit for?

    Aren’t I the guy suggesting he could get a good young shortstop, also known as the most valuable position in baseball right now?

    Seems like I think he’s pretty damn valuable.

  96. Jim S. says:

    FWIW, I say Kazmir was just overpaid. I didn’t even realize how unhealthy he has been, and how much he has not been a horse when he has been healthy.

    Innings by year, going backwards:

    2013 – 158
    2012 – 0.0
    2011 – 1.2
    2010 – 150
    2009 – 147
    2008 152
    2007 – 206
    2006 – 144
    2005 – 186

    He is 29 right now, and will be 30 in January. So, he threw 186 innings at 21. He’s 6’0″ and 185. I wonder if the always perfect Rays maybe helped hasten some of his injury woes by pushing him too much, too young. This is not a sturdy guy.

    I had forgotten he had basically missed all of 2011 and 2012. The fact that he got 2/$22M from Billy Beane actually blows my mind. Not sure he’ll stay healthy 2 more years in a row, and if he is healthy, he’s a 150 innings guy.

    I have a similar concern about Liriano this year. I think his limit is less than 170 innings.

  97. Jim S. says:

    I don’t know how much you give him credit for. That was probably a poor choice of words on my part. And, I know you value Marte because you have said it a lot this year. I actually think we have the same concerns about Starling (plate discipline). I, too, would consider trading him as soon as I was convinced his replacement was nearly ready simply because I do think Marte could bring back a lot of value in a trade. I think he could fetch a good SS prospect now. But, at this point, I think Jordy can probably do a decent enough job that I would not give up Marte to turn LF over to Tabata for the return of a good SS prospect.

  98. Steelkings says:

    Someone do the math. How much less based on who is gone is the Pirate payroll right now compared to the end of last year? If the season started today. Im not talking about the MLB bonus money or the walfare money. Or all the new rev’s from a successful 2013. Simply how much less is the Payroll now from seasons end?

    I’m gonna guess about 20 million

  99. NMR says:

    I might not have put enough emphasis on this in my first post, but I would START shopping him around this winter. Doesn’t mean I would actually trade him, nor would I want to until at least next winter.

    Big trades like this are not always easy, and it would take a very specific match. But there should be no doubt that the biggest thing missing from this organization is a true shortstop. If the team can fill this hole while replacing Marte with Polanco, it would be an unmitigated improvement.

 
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