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Wrapping up winter meetings: a tale of two pitchers and Barmes returns

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — After a quiet start to the winter meetings, the Pirates doled out the largest contract of the meetings – the three-year, $21 million deal with an option to Charlie Morton – and added another arm in Edinson Volquez.

Judging from my Tweeter feed, Volquez was a controversial add by the Pirates.

 

Volquez has an electric arm and a fall-of-the-table changeup. But it’s kind to say that he’s erratic. He’s a riddle, wrapped in an enigma related to Steve Sax.  Volquez had a great year in 2008. He hasn’t been much since. Even Bud Black couldn’t fix him.

 

wintermeetings

The Pirates leave the winter meetings with Volquez but without a first baseman and likely without AJ Burnett 

 

But the Pirates believe they can fix anybody. They prize velocity, swing-and-miss pitches and groundball ability and Volquez possesses those traits. What he doesn’t have is fastball command. The Pirates’ confidence in fixing arms has been bolstered in back-to-back years by rebuilding the value of pitchers like AJ Burnett, Francisco Liriano, Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli.

 

This was Ray Searage talking on MLB Network Radio earlier this offseason:

 

“I don’t want to sound arrogant, but as an organization we believe that we can fix anybody and a delivery because we have a lot of talented people all up and down the chain […] When (Liriano) came over and what we saw and what we got we go ‘Hey, we can do this, this is fixable, we can fix this.’”

 

Perhaps the Pirates are about to fall victim to player-reclamation hubris. Or perhaps Searage and the Pirates’ defensive plan can fix anyone. If it can, there should be a statues of Searage and Dan Fox erected off Federal St.

 

In a vacuum, I don’t have a huge problem with Volquez at $5 million. Have you seen the cost of pitching?

 

But of course this game is not played in a vacuum. And perhaps it’s fair to wonder if the Pirates allocated too much of their relatively paltry free agent resources on Volquez, who was released by the Padres pitching at Petco park last season. A pitching environment doesn’t get anymore favorable — though the Pirates want to challenge that notion.

 

I typically value quality over quantity and you wonder if the Pirates would have been better just giving Burnett market value – or an above-average player  like him – and calling it a day in free agency.

 

burnett

Burnett was at the winter meetings in spirit only

 

I’m not saying Volquez can’t be a bounce-back guy. But to believe he’s going to be Francisco Liriano 2.0 is a lazy comp.  For starters, Liriarno has two plus off-speed pitches. Volquez has one. Moreover, Liriano had had a great season as recently as 2010 when he was signed and he quietly had an intriguing second half in 2012 when he struck out 10.5 per nine. Also, Liriano is left-handed, which is an ideal fit at PNC Park and in the NL Central. So Volquez can bounce-back. It’s within the realm of possibility. But don’t expect Liriano 2.0.

 

At the end of the day, at the end of the meetings, you can question Huntington’s allocation of resources if you want but if you’re frustrated by the Pirates’ lack of spending that starts above the GM’s office.

 

THE MORTON DEAL

 

While the Volquez deal can be questioned, the Morton deal is potentially a great value for the club. And, for me, was the bigger story of Wednesday.

 

Yes, Morton has an injury history so gaining $21 million guaranteed makes sense for him. But the Pirates locked in some cost certainty with its starting rotation and this deal could represent tremendous value. And remember after the 2014 season, only Gerrit Cole was under club control from the Pirates’ rotation that ended the 2013 season.

 

Morton is another Searage success story.

 

Had he qualified with enough innings, Morton would have led baseball with a Brandon Webb-like 62.9 groundball rate last season. His sinker developed into a true weapon in 2013 and was aided by his Roy Halladay-inspired delivery change. The two delivers are almost identical.

 

Moreover, there’s upside here as Morton began to experiment with a split-change to neutralize left-handed hitters. It had its moments. If he can become more consistent with the pitch Morton becomes a really interesting guy in 2014. He was 7-4 with a 3.29 ERA in his first year coming of Tommy John surgery last season.

 

Huntington believes sinkerballers age well and the Pirates will likely now control Morton’s best years.

 

It was a deal that made sense for both sides but it’s a deal that could provide the Pirates with tremendous surplus value.

 

1:20 P.M. UPDATE: PIRATES RESIGN BARMES 

 

Clint Barmes reached a one-year, $2 million agreement with the Pirates on Thursday, a source confirmed the Tribune-Review. After starting last season at shortstop, Barmes will return as utility infielder, primarily to back up No. 1 shortstop Jordy Mercer.

 

While Barmes struggled offensively in 2013, he graded out as an above-average defender which is important for a pitching staff that led major leagues in groundball rate. The Pirates added another pitcher with an above-average groundball rate in Edinson Volquez on Wednesday at the winter meetings.

 

The Pirates committed $11 million to their 2014 payroll over the final two days of the winter meetings with contracts given to pitchers Morton and Volquez, and Thursday’s deal with Barmes. Still, the Pirates could have enough financial flexibility to pursue a free agent option at their most glaring remaining need: first base. The Pirates have been connected to free agent first baseman James Loney.

 

After the Barmes signing, the Pirates’ 25-man payroll projection is $73 million.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle on Wednesday said the club was still open to resigning Barmes.

 

“We want to bring in a guy to catch the ball,” Hurdle said. “We want to get a guy that can catch the ball and put putouts away for the days that Jordy’s not at shortstop.”

 

Should he elect to return, Hurdle said Barmes’ role made clear after the season.

 

“We had a conversation out the door in our exit interviews about the role we could envision he could play for us this year. We spelled it out directly to him,” Hurdle said. “I do believe this is always a challenging time for a player of Clint’s (ability) he wanted to see if there was a job to be available to play a large volume of games to be a starting shortstop. … I think it’s a place he knows us. We know him. He’s a very good defender. He’s an impact defender. He’s very good with our younger players. He’s very good in the clubhouse. So there is a lot of tangible and intangible aspects of him we like.”

MAJOR LEAGUE PORTION OF RULE V DRAFT

 

The Rule V Draft took place this morning – the nerdiest event in baseball – before everyone began scrambling for the airport.

 

The Pirates had a full 40-man roster and did not participate in the draft. They did lose left-handed pitcher Wei-Chung Wang to the Brewers.

 

But this is the difference between the two systems: Wang wasn’t a top 20 prospect for the Pirates he might be a top 10 guy for the Brewers.

 

 

It’s important to know you’re own talent but the Pirates simply have run out of roster spots and will have to clear another spot for Volquez once he passes his physical.

 

- TS

 

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Comments

  1. Justin says:

    Don’t the FIP/xFIP show that Volquez doesn’t even really need a mechanical bounceback as much as a luck bounceback? He had a high .325 BABIP. not sure how much predictive value BABIP does or doesn’t have for pitchers.

    For example, Liriano had FIP and xFIP around 4 before they got him, and that’s what they paid for. Luck alone in theory accounted for some of his bounceback down to a 4ish ERA/FIP level. Searage got his ERA and FIP and xFIP down to the 3ish level.

    I’m thinking that he should put up a lot of innings at a 4 ERA before Searage even touches him.

  2. Dcpinpgh says:

    I see things a little differently. I really don’t care what all the high brow math says. AJ pitched X many games and through X many innings last year and he lost 11 games last year. If volquez gives you roughly the same number of starts and throws about the same number of innings and doesn’t lose over 11 games and does it for 10 million less, then it’s a good signing.

  3. NMR says:

    Great point, Justin.

    Cursory glance at comparables seems to show that Volquez has a lower FIP and xFIP over the last three years than our Blogmaster’s buy low pick of the winter, Phil Hughes. :)

  4. MJS says:

    Travis,

    With the Volquez signing and roughly 10 million available to spend is that enough for them to get both Loney and Barmes back and who do you think gets DFA for those three (Sands, Oliver, Reid)?

  5. Nate83 says:

    I think he has possible value but I think you have to dig a little deeper then you did with Liriano to find it. Only the scouts, Searage and NH know what they may have with him when they get their hands on him. I do think this thought that we have some magic recipe for how to make a pitcher better is getting a little overstated. Yes some pitchers have figured it out after coming to the Pirates but others have not. When it’s somebody like Gomez or Oliver or even Jonathan Sanchez it’s one thing but when it’s 5 million that’s a different story. I’m not sure it’s a gamble worth taking but we will find out about 6 months from now when he is 10-12 starts in.

  6. The Gunner says:

    Sounds like the Bucs are close to bringing back Clint Barmes according to the Post Gazette.

  7. Nate83 says:

    1 year 2 million. I personally like the deal. The guy gave us 1.6 WAR over 2 years. You will have trouble finding a backup SS with that production for less then 2 million. It also protects against a worse case scenario of a Walker injury. If that happens they move Mercer to second and put Barmes in and get about the same production out of those 2 positions as the got last year.

  8. NMR says:

    Don’t get me wrong, Nate. This guy still stinks.

    But $5m may as well be nothing in today’s MLB. If $5m, as their only signing of the winter thus far, precludes Huntington from getting any player in their realm of possibility still available it will be an egregious slap in the face of all Pirate fans.

    The reigning General Manager of the Year flushed over $20m down the drain on a 36 year old starting pitcher and a “Proven Closer”. And now $5m on a backend starter is risky? May as well close up shop if these are the constraints Huntington is under.

  9. The Gunner says:

    Nate

    I am fine with Barmes coming back under these terms – I figured he would return. Now, I am wondering when Ike Davis will be arriving to solve our 1B problem?

  10. NMR says:

    “I typically value quality over quantity and you wonder if the Pirates would have been better just giving Burnett market value and calling it a day in free agency.”

    Travis, what has happened in the last three days that makes you believe money is the only thing holding back AJ’s decision?

  11. Travis Sawchik says:

    Burnett might retire, sure, but I don’t think he’s interested in returning at a significant discount. I think he wants market value.

    Really I was just using his name to illustrate the quantity vs. quality debate.

    The question is this: are the Pirates better off with Barmes, Volquez, and perhaps Loney. Or, say, in-house utility infielder, Locke and $14-15 aav free agent.

  12. Travis Sawchik says:

    I think the Pirates could get Barmes and Loney in for $10-$11 million aav. Especially if MLW fills its 1B hole via trade …. I think those are all realistic DFA candidates.

  13. Nate83 says:

    Well not unlike the question of how many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie roll pop we may never know because there is no way for both scenario’s to play out. The closest we can come is Burnett playing next year for another team but I’m not sure that will happen. At his age who know what he would have given us.

    but….

    We can still have fun discussing it.

  14. BostonsCommon says:

    “I don’t think he’s interested in returning at a significant discount. I think he wants market value.”

    Can you blame him?! After the two seasons he just put up as a Pirate, what has he done to deserve a 40-50% pay cut? I’m sure in his mind he doesn’t care where the money was coming from last year, he still got $16.5M and pitched his ass off for it, sans a couple games in St. Louis.

    Especially when he sees fat body, PED face, 4 years older, Colon pull in $20M guaranteed…

  15. Andrew says:

    2011-2013. ERA/FIP/xFIP

    Phil Hughes: 4.78/4.53/4.42
    Bronson Arroyo: 4.19/4.76/4.23
    Roberto Hernandez: 5.23/4.69/3.69
    Edinson Volquez: 5.10/4.42/4.12

    What did Hughes get? Hernandez signed with the Phillies for $4.5 million base salary, to play in front of two aging middle infielders and corner infielder of questionable quality. I think Justin is partly correct, if Volquez has the HR/FB and BABIP come down his strand rate will go up, less runs. But when you walk 1/2 batter an inning, you are always going to leak runs.

    Hopefully, Benedict and Searage saw something because last season Volquez K/9 fell; he got less swings and misses on his changeup (14% as opposed to > 20% over his career), and used it less. Threw his curve more when ahead but only got whiffs at a weak 12% rate. I think NMR is right, null hypothesis: it is hard to see much value in Volquez.

  16. Thundercrack says:

    Colon is not getting $20 million for one year. It is the total of 2.

  17. NMR says:

    You don’t have to talk me into quality over quantity, Travis. That is the exact reason I trashed your $15m blog entry.

  18. NorthPirateFan says:

    My enthusiasm for the 2014 season just took a major hit. Still a gapping hole at first and another season of watching Barmes kill the offense every time he steps to the plate *ugh*

    Pirates bet get the same level performance out of their pitching as they did last year because the offense is shaping up to be the Andrew McCuthen and Pedro Alvarez and seven stinkers again.

  19. NMR says:

    I’ll never blame any player for taking market value.

    But how practical is that for AJ at this point?

    We know he has made over $120m throughout his career, wants to play for a winner, and is deeply devoted to his family.

    If he was a guy looking to make a buck, what sense would it make to keep his playing status unknown this far into the off season. What is his realistic market, today?

  20. NorthPirateFan says:

    I’m not, not at all. Once again and for the fourth season in a row Neal Huntington is spending his off season focusing on pitching exclusively and has done nothing what so ever to address the anemic offense. Bringing Barmes back will make addressing that problem all the more difficult now.

    One hiccup on the pitchers side of things and the Pirates could be right back in cellar of the NLC.

  21. Nate83 says:

    I’m guessing the number is 12 million. I think he deserves more then that based on the market and his performance. I can’t see the Pirates giving him 16 million. That would be 16/89 million which would be a pretty large portion and leave nothing to improve first base. He’s been very good for the Pirates but the Pirates have been just as good for him. I’m not sure if he goes elsewhere he isn’t even looking at getting another contract right now.

    All great athletes have egos but I have to imagine any year he pitched past his last contract should be considered a bonus considering where he was at 2 years ago. It’s his own personal decision and I won’t bash him if he decides to retire or even go somewhere else for more money. He has earned that right but I don’t think the Pirates are incorrect to not give him his market value. They will never be able to give many elite players market value. They will always have young cost controllable players and free agents that are bounce back candidates. Maybe once or twice a decade they will keep or get an elite player paying market value. That is why I believe there is zero chance for them to keep Alvarez who I do not see signing an extension.

  22. Travis — “The Pirates doled out the largest contract of the meetings – the three-year, $21 million option to Charlie Morton”

    Interesting that you consider a 3-year contract to their own player to avoid arbitration years a “contract of the meetings.”

    Charlie Morton said on the Fan last night that they had started working on the contract extension in early November. He came to Pittsburgh from Florida yesterday to be here for PirateFest and finally got to take his physical by team doctors. When he passed physical yesterday, the deal was finalized and announced. Are you saying that Huntington and Company intentionally announced this agreement during the meetings to get bounce from their contract signing/spending?

    By the way, Travis, I agree with you: offering AJ less than he is worth is demeaning, and not in the best interests of the 2014 Pirates. A Qualifying Offer would have solved all this drama.

  23. NMR says:

    Not sure how literal you are when you speak of value, but I still think there a bunch of teams that would jump at having a pitcher make 30 starts with an ERA around 4 for $5m.

  24. NMR says:

    No, they won’t.

  25. NMR says:

    Seriously, Groat. Did Travis steal your lunch money? Kick your dog? Give you a wedgie?

    Travis did not “consider” anything about Morton’s contract. He stated fact. Simple.

    And who said $14m was AJ Burnett’s market value?

  26. Nate83 says:

    It’s not demeaning. It’s realistic. His Market Value is 18 million. We really have no way of knowing what they offered but we know it can’t and shouldn’t be that amount. Who says him waiting has anything to do with the offer. The guy is making a life changing decision. He may have not even counter offered yet and it may not even be an issue.

  27. BostonsCommon says:

    “What is his realistic market, today?”

    When he says it’s Pirates or retirement, he’s eliminating the market.

  28. NMR says:

    Exactly my point, Boston.

    None of us know what his market value is. We just don’t.

    On the OPEN market, we have data to suggest what he may be worth. But AJ does not have an open market. If he wasn’t willing to pitch on the West Coast three years ago, what makes anyone believe he will now?

    You limit your market, you limit your value.

  29. Nate83 says:

    Just to clarify his market value is 18 million like my Tony Gwynn rookie card is worth $56. Sure somebody says it’s worth that but I won’t get that much from anyone.

    Realistically his stats are not that superior to Colon’s why should he get significantly more then him. Colon’s contract probably set the market for AJ. I don’t think he would get much more the 15 million for one year if all 30 teams had a chance at him. I’m not even sure he would get that much. His age has to be a factor.

  30. Foo says:

    Two points:

    If Ray is so optimistic at fixing Volquez, why didn’t we get an option year? If we do fix him, he is gone (along with Frankie) after 2014.

    As for AJ, I guess he has a choice…play at a 20-40 percent discount or 100 percent cut in pay.

  31. BostonsCommon says:

    I’m not disagreeing with that. I’m just saying, AJ knows he made $16.5M last year. He knows he pitched circles around guys like Hudson, Lincecum and Kuroda and watched them all get paid. Right or wrong, why would he think he deserves a pay cut after that?

    Call it perceived market value, or self worth, or pride, or whatever you want. But I think its a little naive to assume he’s just going to be willing to take that kind of pay cut.

  32. Steelkings says:

    A lot of “Changed my mind” days have been marked off the calender between when AJ said Retire or pirates and when the Pirates offered up a below market number.

  33. Steelkings says:

    Whats amazing to me is the amount of respect players get from the media. Hows come with all these beat writers nobody can stick a microphone in Burnetts face and ask him what he’s thinking. If he says no comment then report that AJ has no comment.

    Maybe we should start a twitter brigade. he’s a big twitter head. Lets all tweet the piss out of him and ask him if he returning or not. Who with me?

  34. NMR says:

    *crickets*

  35. NMR says:

    AJ Burnett is the most gulible man in baseball if he thought he was ever going to sniff $16m from the Pittsburgh Pirates.

  36. Nate83 says:

    They should get respect during the off season. This is only my opinion but I feel this is his time to spend with his family. He doesn’t owe us anything. I love sports and I am very interested in if this guy comes back and pitches but it is very low on my list of things that effect my life. Many people in life spend weeks, months, years deciding when to retire without anyone even knowing they are considering it. He should be given that same opportunity. If the he takes to long and the Pirates have moved on then he will have to deal with that but if he really wants to play then he will find an employer.

  37. NMR says:

    Thank the lord for a voice of reason.

  38. Scott S says:

    So true,Yep, lets not spend any of the documented extra cash Nuttings baggin this year.

  39. Wayward Eer says:

    A lurker here. At the end of the season I thought they would pay AJ $10M to come back and while that would be below market it would not be offensive. Now given where the market has gone, $10M-$12M is a mere pittance for a quality starter. The market changed, values for starters changed, and now that number may be offensive. Add in the end of the season conflict and I am not sold on the “retire or come back to the Bucs” comments. I hope I am wrong but AJ’s run in the Burgh is coming to an end!

  40. Travis Sawchik says:

    Appreciation of Barmes’ glove: he was the 6th ranked in Baseball Info Solution’s overall defensive rating …. second in range runs saved after Andrelton Simmons

  41. Skip says:

    Maybe AJ wants to re-join the Bucs partway through the season – sort of like a late-season trade acquisition (without having to give up a prosect). If the Pirates are receptive to that, then maybe his contract would still fit within their budget.

    Also, maybe Volquez could be a set-up guy out of the pen. Not likely, I understand. But starters have converted successfully before, and maybe his stuff would be even more dynamic in short spurts.

  42. RobertoForever says:

    This makes a lot of sense to me.

    And wasn’t Aj balking at going after groundballs, and instead he tried to get K’s. If Volquez focuses even more on groundballs and comes in around 4 ERA, and the Bucs use that money to get Loney or a reasonable facsimile, then don’t we improve the opening day 2014 lineup over the expected opening day 2013?

  43. RobertoForever says:

    wait I thought we knew the answer to the Tootsie pop question…….ah, three

    :)

  44. RobertoForever says:

    did I miss Marte and Mercer getting DFA’ed today?

    Did Russ Martin retire?

  45. RobertoForever says:

    hear hear

  46. RobertoForever says:

    this is a fair speculation.

    He may have gotten caught up in the numbers paid to younger guys.

    But with the limitations he, himself put on where he geographically is willing to be based, the prospects are very limited. Bal, Was, Phl? Cin? Cle?

    Not many.

  47. RobertoForever says:

    with numbers like that, he doesn’t get enough respect.

  48. National Mart of Records,

    Dude, you’ve GOT to quit sniffing those paint cans!

    Do your believe the statement “Morton signed the largest contract of the meetings”?
    The contract was agreed on and he was just waiting to come to Pittsburgh to PirateFest to finalize it with the mandatory physical. He said exactly that on the Fan with Colin Dunlap last night.

    Signing that contract had as much to do with the Winter Meetings as you or I do with Neal Huntington’s choice of 1st basemen ——— absolutely nothing! It’s misleading to imply it was a signing of the Winter Meetings.

    It’s more accurate to say it was a PirateFest signing.

    Just because it’s “cute” to say Morton’s signing was the largest of the Winter Meetings doesn’t make it accurate.

    I’m cool with Travis. I agreed with him in my last paragraph. But I do have a wedgie I’m saving for you!

  49. NorthPirateFan says:

    Ah no but you’re are allowing the glow of last season to cloud your judgement … first, Martin for all his defense posted a .703 OPS, which is not good by an stretch of the imagination and he will continue to be hampered by playing at PNC. Marte is a platoon player in a full time role, he hits LHP so well that it almost obscures the fact he can’t hit RHP to save his life … unfortunately for the Pirates he’ll only face LHP about 20% of his at bats which means he’s a liability in the lead off spot about 80% of the time.

    Mercer, well yeah but if you believe that Hurdle will actually allow him to much playing time now that his buddy Barmes has been resigned … all I have to say is I have bridge I’d like to sell you.

    Fact is the offense was the thing that needed to be addressed going in to this off season and winter meetings as it wasn’t.

    As of right now it’s exactly the same anemic crew that ended the 2013 season minus Garret Jones.

  50. NMR says:

    You know I love ya, Groat.

  51. NMR says:

    I’ve had similar thoughts on Volquez in the pen, Skip.

    Even without AJ, the team figures to have Liriano, Cole, Morton, Volquez, and Jeff Locke as viable starters. Given the nature of his injury, we should know by the end of Spring Training if Wandy Rodriguez is able to pitch. If that is the case, then you have Locke, Brandon Cumpton, Phil Irwin, and Jameson Taillon in AAA and Stolmy Pimentel in the big league bullpen all capable of replacing a struggling starter.

    If Volquez can’t get his walks under 4 per 9 innings or so, I’d look like slide him into the pen where it’s less likely to hurt him.

  52. Piratefan13 says:

    @Boston
    What makes you think AJ saying Pirates or retire eliminates the rest of the league? To me that was a leverage comment. Any team that might want his services would have to overpay to draw him away form the Pirates or retirement. Believe me, no player ever truly limits their opportunities, just because it made Pirates fans puff out our chests when he said that doesn’t mean its entirely true.

  53. Jeff King says:

    Have not heard one person mention the name of Jenmar Gomez this off-season. There was a point last season where he was our MVP (most valuable pitcher). If anyone would be a swing man next season it would be him … not Locke or Volquez.

  54. Steelkings says:

    Locke is too much of a nibbler.

  55. RobertoForever says:

    Marte a platoon player? Do we know think that a young Marte can’t improve. I am betting those numbers vs RHP improve.

    And I would bet you that Barmes supplants Mercer in starts at SS at less than twenty percent of the available starts. They made it clear (and public) that t hat Barmes could only come back in a minor role.

    And some would claim that losing Jones would improve the lineup :) not me, but some people.

  56. Travis Sawchik says:

    I think it’s a bit premature to suggest Marte cannot improve against right-handed pitching. Now, should he be leading off against RHP? Probably not. … But his overall tool package warrants he’s an everyday player. You need two CFs at PNC Park.

  57. Travis Sawchik says:

    It’s in Volquez’s best interest not to have an option. If he thinks he’ll rebound in Pgh then he’ll want to be back on the market. So I’d guess any option was vetoed by the Volquez camp.

  58. Travis Sawchik says:

    Good to hear from your, Roberto.

    I wonder if he’ll lift those limitations looking at the market. He is the only free agent represented by Darek Braunecker and Darek was at the winter meetings.

  59. NorthPirateFan says:

    Of course we know he’ll not improve and it’s not the least bit premature to suggest he can’t. The evidence of it is found right there in his horrific plate discipline and inability to control the strike zone that has plagued him since his professional debut. The fact of the matter is that much of what little value he does offer in those 80% of his at bats against RHP is manifest in the triples he’s gotten and like it or not triples are 1 part luck and 2 parts speed. If opposing teams start employing shifts against him to take away those corner shots or he suffers any sort of leg injury that slows him up he’ll turn into the Tony Womack/Midre Cummings/Nyger Morgan in the blink of an eye. And that’s far more likely to happen than someone with his utter lack of discipline improving his splits.

    All of which however is beside the point; which as of now stands as fact pending any additional moves: Everyone knew, many wrote and we all discussed the fact that addressing the Pirates anemic offense was their top priority going into the off season and Neal Huntington has done nothing, nada ZIP! to do that.

    Hoping and praying against all evidence and probability that Marte will magically learn to control the strike zone and be able to hit RHP does not qualify as move to improve the offense … which as I said is essentially the same crew the started the 2013 season and proceeded to bottom of the majors offense, minus Garret Jones.

    As for Barmes playing time, well yes indeed they did say that didn’t they. They also said the right field job was Travis Snider’s, Garrett Jones would hit second and Gabby Sanchez would platoon with him at first base …

    I reiterated, anyone who takes anything the team or Clint Hurdle says about player usage at face value, I have some magic beans I’d like to trade you.

  60. NorthPirateFan says:

    Oh, and say what you want about Garret Jones and his contributions last year, whatever they were they were still a lot better that what the Pirates are likely to get from what they have going into the season at this point … which is Gabby Sanchez who at his best against RHP will have us begging for Jones back by the middle of May.

  61. Andrew says:

    I see this frequently, everyone writes that the Pirates offense was anemic/below average/bottom in the majors but fail to cite any number to back up this claim. The Pirates wRC+ in 2013 was 106 (10th in the MLB), above average and was every month of the season. Yes they were 20th in runs scored but park factors matter, which you seem to understand in an above comment.

    As far a Marte improving, “Strikeouts improve sort of drastically, but not for long. Your average hitter might improve his strikeout percentage until he turns 24 or 25 and enjoy a nice long peak.”

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/hitters-age-like-wine-power-like-cheese/

    And why would a team shift Marte? Garret Jones OPS was .708, 5 points higher than Martin while playing an easier position, and playing it poorly, effectively below replacement for the year. And I feel like it has been discussed here before Snider’s playing time mirrored hit performance. There are points to criticize the Pirates about but you failed to present any good ones.

  62. NorthPirateFan says:

    @Andrew You are intentionally cherry picking numbers and distorting the issue. The Pirates 2013 final results include the time Marlon Byrd and Justin Morneau in the later part of the season and after their arrival the offense did pick up it’s game quite bit … in the first part of the season part of the season prior to their arrival the Pirates offense ranked 27th or below in every statistical measure … yeah Huntington did make moves and improve the offense as the season was underway, but guess what those guys aren’t coming back.

    The simple fact of the matter is, the indisputable fact so I don’t know why some feel compelled to dispute what plainly obvious, is that the Pirate offense as it stands right now is exactly the same as was when the season started and it performed so abysmally, minus Garret Jones.

    It may yet change between now and opening day but as of right now Neal Huntington as not done one single thing to address the short comings of an offense that performed so poorly in the first half of the season and everything else is just arguing against the facts.

    Starling Marte might improve in some regards, Travis Snider’s might rebound from his injury and produce, lots of things may or may not happen between now and next season and none of it contradicts what I said …

    The Pirates stated goal going into the off season was to improve their offense and thus far no effort or move has been made by Neal Huntington to achieve that goal.

 
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