Is the Pirates’ focus beyond 2014? A closer look at McGuiness, and remembering Roberto


EAST OF THE ROCKIES –  Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette were talking Pirates’ offseason on MLBNetwork on Tuesday  morning and Ferrin  and Duquette were understandably less than overwhelmed by what the Pirates have accomplished to date. I didn’t catch the segment but Rob Biertempfel did:


You can make an argument that the Pirates should have been more aggressive to date this offseason. Perhaps they should have gone to a third year on James Loney, or matched the package for Logan Morrison, or maybe they should have made AJ Burnett a qualifying offer (or at least pushed more money in the center of the table). Or one can argue 2y/22 million for Scott Kazmir would be a better investment than 1y/5m for Edinson Volquez.


Twenty-fourteen might present something of a critical window. Some key contributors from 2013 will be free agents after the 2014 season: Russell Martin (who is no longer going to be a bargain play), Francisco Liriano (another year like ’13 will allow him to buy a small island in the South Pacific) and closer Jason Grilli.


That’s 9 WAR production that will be tough to replace after ’14 if it’s roughly duplicated.


Perhaps those realities mean there should have been more urgency to upgrade  the current roster given that the Cardinals, Nationals, Dodgers and maybe the Diamondbacks have improved this offseason.


But maybe the Pirates’ brass does not have its collective eye on 2014. Maybe the focus and the priority is on 2015-2019 — and no moves will be made that potentially compromise that extended window whether it be through spending treasure or prospects.


Maybe Huntington is concerned about keeping a Gerrit Cole-Andrew McCutchen-Jameson Taillon-Gregory Polanco-Nick Kingham-Alen Hanson-Starling Marte-Tyler Glasnow core around together for five-plus years. Maybe, because the front office is off the hotseat , they have the comfort to not make a short-term, risk-reward play, rather playing for sustained long-term success.


Maybe that’s why things have been so quiet.




The Pirates are accumulating a wealth of lottery ticket left-handed hitting options 


The Pirates made a minor trade earlier this week in acquiring Chris McGuiness from the Rangers for Miles Mikolas. McGuiness gives the Pirates’ another left-handed hitting option. Most likely he adds depth as a Triple-A or bench option. Important to note: McGuiness has considerable reverse platoon splits in 2013. I’m not sure if that was a fluke or a career-long trend.


Huntington said the trade doesn’t mean the Pirates’ are done shopping for a 1B upgrade, but the market is thin.


“Chris provides us with another option at first base and allows us to remain patient as we continue to explore the first base market,” Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said. “We like the offensive production potential as well as his ability to handle himself around the base.”


If the Pirates do not make another acquisition, they’ll go into spring training with Travis Snider, Andrew Lambo, Jaff Decker, and McGuiness competing for at bats on the right side of the field. And I think that order represents the initial pecking order.


I think a healthy Snider has more than we’ve seen, and I think Lambo deserves a look, though I’m a skeptic. Decker and  McGuiness are both guys who have the ability to control the strike zone, so they’re interesting. Right now the Pirates appear to be searching for right-side quality through rolls of the dice on quantity.



Perhaps the greatest Pirate of all, especially when considering off-the-field contributions, died 41 years ago on Tuesday on a humanitarian aid trip. Rather than trying to do Clemente’s legacy justice with words here how about a great color pic:



Just a really, great photo.


– TS