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Monday Morning Mop-Up Duty: looking left

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SOUTH HILLS COMMAND CENTER –  I’ve begun working on our 2014 season preview material and as part of that information-gathering process I spoke to a former baseball executive last week. He loves the Pirates system, their depth of pitching and positional prospects, and their young major league core pieces. But he did point out one area of concern (beyond market size/spending) going forward.

And that is a lack of quality left-handed pitching.

 

The Pirates’ system is loaded with young arms – Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Tyler Glasnow, Nick Kingham and Luis Heredia. You know the names. And you probably also know they all share a common characteristic: they’re right handed.

 

Remember, not only do clubs want righty-lefty balance in their rotations but there are also a lot of impact left-handed bats in the NL Central in the present (Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Matt Carpenter, Matt Adams) and near future (Oscar Taveras, Kolten Wong). Moreover, PNC Park sets up excellently for left-handed pitchers … neutralizing the Clemente porch and right-handed hitters’ power with a spacious left field.

 

After the 2014 season, the Pirates’ two left-handed starters - Francisco Liriano and Wandy Rodriguez - will both be free agents. Who  knows if Rodriguez will be healthy. If he is he could be priced out of the Pirates’ plans, same goes for Liriano.  It might make some sense to approach Liriano with a Scott Kazmir-like deal: a 2y/$22 million extension. After all, Liriano is probably wondering if he can put together back-to-back quality seasons. He never has. Perhaps the Pirates could turn that doubt into an opportunity. Unlikely given the market price for pitching but worth a phone call. Also, investigating whether Justin Wilson can start might make a lot of sense in 2015.

 

STARTING NINE THOUGHTS

9.  In the short term, the Pirates should have solid righty-lefty balance if, IF, Rodriguez is healthy. The early reports have been encouraging but the Pirates are going to have to see him throw from the mound this spring to gain more confidence. I thought investing the dollars set aside for AJ Burnett in Kazmir would have made sense earlier this offseason. Chris Capuano and Johan Santana are two lefties who remain unsigned who are perhaps worth taking a look at.

 

8.  I don’t think there were too many surprises in the Pirates’ deals to avoid arbitration on Friday. I was a little surprised Neil Walker’s deal beat projections by nearly one million dollars, and I was a little surprised Pedro Alvarez/Scott Boras agreed upon $4 million after Alvarez tied for the NL lead in home runs. One thing that I wonder about is how do arbitrators evaluate performance? Are they using traditional counting numbers? Or are they also factoring in new-age metrics?

 

In case you missed it, the following chart contains the one-year deals to avoid arbitration and the projected 2014 costs before the agreements, which were produced by the fine folks at MLB Trade Rumors:

 

Player /    Arbitration year / 2014 projection/ 2014 salary/  Difference

Neil Walker            2nd of 4   $4.8  million $5.75 million          +$850,000

Gaby Sanchez       2nd of 3   $2.3 million   $2.3 million           +$0

Pedro Alvarez        1st of 3    $4 million      $4.25 million         +$250,000

Mark Melancon    1st of 3    $3 million     $2.595 million       -$405,000

Travis Snider         1st of 3    $1.4 million  $1.2 million            -$200,000

Vin Mazzaro            1st of 3    $800,000     $950,000              +$150,000

TOTAL                                             $16.3 million $17.05 million   +$705,000

 

 

7. When teams and agents exchange arbitration figures, it is a time when they often toss around the idea of contract extensions. It doesn’t seem like there were any serious talks with Alvarez or Walker.

 

 

6. The Pirates’ arbitration-eligible players are about to become very expensive. Even after a down season, Padres third baseman Chase Headley made $10.25 million entering his final year of arbitration. David Price avoided arbitration with a $14 million deal in his second year of arbitration. Perhaps the biggest reason the Pirates have been so conservative in free agency this offseason is because of their soon to be escalating costs of arbitration-eligible players. If you’re a Pirates fan you have to be concerned that the Pirates might find themselves in a Tampa Bay situation with Gerrit Cole in a few years. Tampa was considering trading Price – with two years of control remaining – because of arbitration costs. Cole is one of the few young arms, because of his stuff and size, that I would be comfortable signing to a long-term deal.

 

5. The Mets expect to have Ike Davis in camp in spring training … unless someone ups their offer. From ESPNNewYork:

 

“Mets insiders now expect Ike Davis will be in spring training with the team in Port St. Lucie, Fla. — while cautioning they are willing to reengage the Pittsburgh Pirates or Milwaukee Brewers or any other club in search of a first baseman in trade talks in the six weeks before pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 15.” 

 

4. We’ve discussed infield platoons and possible fits here often this winter and there’s one interesting trade target that hasn’t received much attention: Seattle Mariners 2B/SS Nick Franklin.

 

The Mariners have a log-jam of middle infielders after signing Robinson Cano. Franklin is perhaps a better fit at second base but he came up as a shortstop and is a switch-hitter with batspeed, athleticism, and a solid approach. He could spell Clint Barmes against right-handed pitching and Walker against left-handed pitching. Again, just a name that might make some sense. I’ve liked Franklin sine he was an amateur prospect. He’s a baseball rat with some tools and a plan.

 

3. Here are the 2014 ZiPS projections for the Pirates. Not a ton of surprises but notes of interest: ZiPS likes Liriano to repeat with a quality season. ZiPS thinks Jordy Mercer can be a two-win everyday shortstop…ZiPS sees Charlie Morton as nearly replacement level (I’m not buying that) and thinks Gregory Polanco is ready to be a league-average player in 2014. I am buying that.

 

2. Talking to the same baseball exec over the weekend, Austin Meadows is his steal of the draft.

 

1. Cubs are in on Tanaka, per reports. That can’t be a comfortable reality for the Pirates’ front office. The Cubs are loaded with impact bats at the minor league level and if they can cultivate and/or buy some impact arms, look out. The Cubs have also held back their considerable spending power to date — but they will eventually spend and are rumored to be willing to go to $25 million per on the Japanese star.

 

STAT OF THE WEEK: $969,696

Dollars Clayton Kershaw will earn per start beginning in 2015. Nice work if you can find it.

 

 HE SAID IT: Neal Huntington on if the dollars spent Friday affect the club’s ability to retain Burnett should he ever make a decision:

“They’re pretty much independent entities. One really doesn’t impact the other. It shouldn’t impact our ability to do what we need to do elsewhere.”

 

NON-BASEBALL RECOMMENDATION OF THE WEEK: Go see Lone Survivor. Outstanding. Griping, moving and it exceeded my expectations. Best war film since Saving Private Ryan, imo.

 

- TS

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Comments

  1. macchamp74 says:

    Way down the road, Blake Taylor could be a left handed starter to make impact on ml roster.
    Not sure where he is ranked in the system.

  2. NMR says:

    Travis, you can just go ahead and start calling John Hart by name. :)

    -I believe arbitrators only account for service time and counting stats before matching the player in question to past comps. Not only are advanced metrics not taken into account, but the players immediate past season isn’t either.

    -#6 is the reason I wasn’t comfortable going more than a couple years with James Loney.

    -The Mets handling of Ike Davis is very odd. They cannot honestly believe any team considers him valuable, and they appear to be willing to head into the season with him as a part time 1B. No idea how they plan on him regaining value in that manner.

  3. Steelkings says:

    Nobody is going to roll the dice and over pay for a 2015 free agent. Perhaps if the Mets extended him for a few years at a reasonable rate. The dude is only 23.

  4. NMR says:

    Travis mentioned ZiPS projections came out for the Pirates. I’ve also found ZiPS projections for all the 1B metnioned as possibilities this winter:

    Player PA BB% K% ISO BABIP BA OBP SLG wOBA

    Andrew Lambo 430 6.7% 28.1% .178 .288 .229 .285 .407 .300

    Mike Carp 398 7.5% 24.1% .183 .311 .258 .319 .442 .330
    Adam Dunn 543 13.6% 34.4% .216 .267 .205 .317 .421 .322
    Garrett Jones 463 8.2% 23.3% .189 .284 .243 .305 .432 .320
    Justin Morneau 484 8.1% 15.1% .177 .302 .280 .343 .457 .344
    Ike Davis 445 12.8% 26.3% .192 .282 .232 .330 .424 .328
    Justin Smoak 540 11.1% 23.0% .170 .275 .235 .322 .405 .321
    Corey Hart 501 7.0% 24.6% .175 .297 .246 .307 .421 .315
    Logan Morrison 455 10.8% 19.6% .160 .273 .238 .325 .398 .315
    James Loney 569 7.0% 12.5% .113 .294 .270 .320 .382 .302

  5. Nate83 says:

    I don’t get all the talk about middle infield free agents or trade partners. They are not going to use more then 3 roster spots on those two positions. Mercer, Barmes and Walker are on the roster and adequate. Any cent used to improve these positions is money that can’t be used elsewhere and it wouldn’t be much of an improvement if any. There are greater needs like first base and starting pitching.

    Unless your trading Mercer no moves make sense. If that was the case I would trade Walker before Mercer. The return would be dramatically better and I don’t think they are that different in production. Money saved by trading Walker could be used for other needs.

  6. 21sthebest says:

    I thought the arbitrators make their decision based on the evidence that both sides bring to them.

  7. Nate83 says:

    Adam Dunn is the only player in the history of baseball that could put up that stat line. Just crazy!!!

  8. NMR says:

    Seems likely, but first the arbitrator has to come up with comparable players and salaries so that they can determine which side is correct.

    Arbitrators do a ton of research before the teams even sit down.

  9. NMR says:

    What 1B is out there that would likely add more wins than Stephen Drew at shortstop?

  10. Nate83 says:

    I think but am not 100% sure that Clay Holmes is another high upside left hander in the system. 3 or 4 years away but a good prospect. Hopefully PNC park plus Liriano’s nice comeback helps bring some good lefthanded bounce back candidates to fill the gap.

    Also at some point players like Alverez, Cole and Taillon will need to be traded and could bring back instant left handed pitching depth. They can’t keep them all and what they get in return for those type of players will ultimately decide how sustainable winning can be with their payroll.

  11. 21sthebest says:

    Arbitrators can use whatever logic they want on the information presented but couldn’t either side present advanced metrics or the players most recent year?

  12. Jim S. says:

    I would think advanced metrics often come into play. The minute a Scot Boras, or a GM like Huntington, for that matter, feels bringing them in would sway the decision in his favor, don’t you think it would take place? I honestly don’t know. I just assumed so.

  13. Jim S. says:

    The White Sox are collecting 1st basemen as though Jack Z is running their club right now. Re-signed Konerko, still have Dunn, signed Abreu. I know one will always cover DH, but I still think Dunn can be had and maybe cheaply. Would it be so bad to see what he could do in PNC from the left side? I know his defense might be beyond abysmal, but he could challenge GIJ’s river ball distance from last year.

    I have not heard anything recently regarding Smoak, despite the presence of Morrisson and Hart. One of them has to be ticketed for 1b, right?

  14. Jim S. says:

    None. I am warming up to Drew more and more by the day.

  15. Andrew says:

    They guy who does the modeling seems to think the arbitrators mainly use playing time and simple un-advanced stats, RBI, pitcher wins.

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2011/10/mlb-trade-rumors-arbitration-projections.html

  16. LeeFoo says:

    Nate…Clay Holmes is a RHP.

    Our top 3 LHPs, according to Pirates Prospects are Joely Rodriguez, Blake Taylor and Cody Dickson. The last two were just drafted.

    Foo

  17. Nate83 says:

    Is Drews zips projection that much better then Mercers? Is it a big enough difference to give up a first round pick and pay him 10-12 million for multiple years? Can he even stay healthy?

    They are very adequate up the middle right now. Most teams in the league would be OK with what the Pirates have. I’m not sure many teams would give up 10-15% of their payroll and a first round pick for a player with as many questions as Drew has when Mercer could easily perform close to his level.

    First base could possible be a black hole offensively for 70% of the at bats. I’m a Lambo supporter but I could see him batting .210 and striking out 30% of the time. I’m not willing to roll those dice without at least having a legitimate option even if it’s an Ike Davis or Justin Smoak type player.

    I don’t look at shortstop as the position that could potentially ruin the entire season. I’m pretty confident we will get average production or better from that position. I’m not as confident about first base or back end starting pitching.

  18. LeeFoo says:

    So….did Pedro step it ‘up a notch’ in the NLDS or did he just happen to be in one of his hot streaks at the time?

    Case in point: Look at Stargell. In ’70 he hit .500. In 1971, in two series combined, he hit .158! Thank God for Bob Robertson, coz Stargell never got a hit vs SF. Did Stargell fooget how to be clutch, or did he just happen to be in a slump when the ’71 post season began?

    Lots of guys like him. Lots of stars who sucked in the Divisional Playoffs and starred in the WS and vice versa. Lots of bums or average players who went nuts in the post season.

    This is why I think Pedro just happened to get hot at the right time.

  19. NMR says:

    Fine, don’t believe me.

    From MLBTR:

    “In contrast to the free agent market, which now incorporates a modern understanding of baseball, arbitration relies on simple statistics such as pitcher wins and runs batted in. When advanced statistics became available, teams incorporated these into their free agent bids, and stopped paying much attention to old-school statistics. Meanwhile, arbitration panels determine a player’s salary based on “comparables,” players with similar basic statistics and service time. The salaries that the model produces aren’t far from what an educated fan might guess, but the subtle differences are important.”

  20. LeeFoo says:

    I would LOVE to see us sign Frankie to that deal.

    At least until he reverts to ‘one year’ Frankie….lol

  21. Nate83 says:

    Thanks Foo, I must have been thinking of one of the other 2. Didn’t 2 of them just makeTim’s top 20?

  22. NMR says:

    Nate, are you forgetting that Jordy Mercer wasn’t even good enough to start in the playoffs? I don’t understand how one can be so confident in a players ability when the Manager obviously wasn’t.

    On top of that, Drew wouldn’t be replacing Mercer’s production, he would be adding to it. Jordy did all his damage last season exclusively against LHP. He was well below average against righties, and we know he isn’t going to provide any value in the field. Adding Drew would still allow you to spread Jordy’s at bats around the infield against LHP.

    And I guess you’re going to have to define “legitimate option” before I can comment on Davis or Smoak. Yikes.

  23. Jim S. says:

    Actually, Travis, I think the Bucs are developing some LHP. A couple have already been mentioned above, and there is a Latin lefty whose name escapes me right now who they consider very intriguing. But, I bet that is the case with just about every organization. There just aren’t many can’t miss LHP, until they arrive. RHP are safer picks, for whatever reason, and that is where the Bucs have focused. I’m sure they are hoping Locke can be at least an average MLB starter, which makes him above average in PNC. I sort of like the idea of feeling Frankie out about adding next year right now.

    On Neil’s arbitration figure, that one is curious. Is it a precursor to an extension they are working on? Something they figured the local fans wanted? The Bucs are not in the business of paying guys extra for being good community ambassadors. If they feel Hanson is their SS of the future, maybe they like Neil for about 4 more years at 2b. As for Pedro, I see no earthly reason that Boras would endorse that deal. Maybe Pedro told him to accept and STFU. Head scratcher there, for sure.

    I believe the Cubs’ interest in Tanaka is exactly what you surmised, Travis. He is an expensive acquisition, but he comes w/o losing draft picks. I don’t think they’ll get him, but he would be exactly what the Dr. ordered for Theo and Jed. I believe the Cubs will operate like the Rays/Pirates in the future, to some degree. What I mean is, they will develop from within, keep costs contained as much as possible, value draft picks, etc. Then, boom, they will make huge splash deals for key pieces to put them over the top. The Cubs frighten me for a long time in this division beginning next season or the one after.

  24. NMR says:

    Same reason it makes absolutely zero sense to analyze Pedro at different spots in the batting order.

  25. Andrew says:

    Is a right-handed, left-handed starter mix that important? I understand it intuitively , but is it actually important? Tiger’s starters had the 2nd best by -FIP, and 6th best by -ERA, of the last ten years and they are all right handed. I realize that PNC benefits left handed pitching but how much more is someone willing to pay, AAV, just to ensure there is a left-hander in the rotation.

    Two things I have seen elsewhere that I do not understand:
    1)Does Neil Walker’s current one year deal to avoid arbitration affect the Pirates ability to keep Walker until free agency?
    2)Is there any predictive value in Liriano failing to have good back-to-back years?

    I lean to NO for both questions but I haven’t really seen a YES argument that answers the why question, I assume I could be missing something.

  26. 21sthebest says:

    My point was that there is nothing precluding either side from using advanced statistics when they make their arguments. And that article is from two years ago. Even the Gold Glove employs advanced metrics now.

  27. Jim S. says:

    Agreed, Foo. I think there are very few players in MLB history who could will themselves into better hitting performance just because the stakes were greater. I’m not saying there were no guys who ever did it. Reggie Jackson certainly had a flare for the dramatic in October over and over. Beltran has been a beast, so has Papi for the most part.

    But, overall, I think fans tend to like to go back after the fact and assign that ability to their favorite players, or media darlings. I am not convinced very many guys could ever do it. If they could, why would they not just choose to be a great hitter all the time? Pedro is a streaky hitter. Stargell was more consistent, but I think he was prone to slumps like all big power guys. I bet he just hit a bad patch in that ’71 series vs SF. Or, maybe there were some unfavorable match-ups for him. He sure mashed in ’79 all the way through, as I recall.

    Clemente got at least 1 hit in every WS game he played. As much as I adore him and want to assign some magical quality to him in post-season play, I just don’t know. He was just a great hitter, and great hitters are more likely to get hits consistently.

    It’s a great topic. When I hear people suggest so and so is or is not a clutch hitter, I try to compare the year in question to their career stats. Far more often than not, I come to the conclusion that their career stats in pressure situations tend to come pretty close to their overall career stats.

  28. 21sthebest says:

    I wonder if you polled all 30 managers, how many would have started Jordy over Clint in the playoffs.

    I’m really on the fence on Drew vs. Mercer. I love Drew’s glove and I’ve always been a defense over bat first when it comes to shortstop, but I can’t dismiss Mercer’s ability to improve against RHP. He’s only had 255 major league at bats against them and did really well against RHP last year in the minors.

  29. Nate83 says:

    My question was what their zips projections are not how Hurdle feels about him.

    Ike Davis walks enough to have value even when he’s not hitting for much average. He not that far removed from a 30+ home run season.

    If they sign Drew they are done for the off season. No other significant moves would be made. I guess it’s a question if you would rather take a position that we currently are average at and spend money to maybe improve it if Drew stays healthy or use that money to have at least some other option at first where Lambo could possible be well below league average as well as another starting pitching option.

    Don’t forget Drew would require at least a 2 probably 3 year contract. Next year we will need starting pitching unless Kingham progresses extremely fast and someone else emerges. Plus all the arbitration players we signed this year will have significant pay increases as well as Cutch and Morton.

    A 3 year 30-36 million contract isn’t signed in a bubble it effects everything going forward for a team like the Pirates. Drew has too much of an injury history for my liking to give up that much.

  30. NMR says:

    Fine 21, whatever you want to believe.

  31. NMR says:

    I wouldn’t want to know how many Managers would start Jordy Mercer at shortstop, period.

    I can’t dismiss Jordy’s ability to improve over righties, either, but I do dismiss him being able to improve enough to be average. He’s going to be playing next season as a 27 yo, and has very well known limitations. I just don’t see a ton of room for optimism.

    Nate, do you realize Jordy was just as bad against righties as Gaby was last year? Couple that with below average defense and I’m not sure how one can cansider shortstop “average”.

  32. NMR says:

    One thing to remember about arbitration, the arbitrator has to pick one number or the other.

    It is an absolute fact that the arbitrator enters the session with a salary already projected for the player comprised of other comparable players in the past. It stands to reason that he then would choose the number closest.

    If either the team or the player submits a number that is far off what the player is projected to get, it makes sense for them to come to a deal as to mitigate risk. I’d bet Walker and Mercer both fall into that category.

  33. NMR says:

    1) No. The Pirates have far more than enough to keep Walker. Does not mean they will choose to, however.

    2) Silly. I mean, no. Using this logic, one would also have to conclude that last season was random variation as well. And that alllll that stuff about Ray Searage, mechanics, pitch selection, and PNC Park was garbage.

  34. brendan says:

    ZIPS projects that he’ll be worth 1.6 WAR vs. 1.8 for Mercer–that’s based on Mercer garnering 36 more PA’s than Drew. So pretty equal all in all.

    For the purposed of comparison Steamer projects 2.0 WAR for Drew and 1.5 for Mercer.

    Oliver 4.0 WAR for Mercer and 1.8 for Drew. That’s largely based on Brian Cartwright’s view of Mercer’s defense which has alway been much more optimistic than most. We’ll have to see how that plays out (hopefully he’s right).

    Based on projections alone there isn’t a huge difference in the total value of the two players. So if that’s the case it wouldn’t be worth it to simply replace Mercer with Drew.

  35. 21sthebest says:

    NMR, why couldn’t either side bring in advanced statistics if they wanted to?

    That response seemed pretty uncalled for.

  36. NMR says:

    Just for a bit of reasoning behind why I don’t believe Jordy Mercer will improve much against RHP, here are his 2012 full season AAA splits:

    17.8%K 7.7%BB .160 ISO

    And last year in Pittsburgh:

    19.6%K 5.1%BB .110 ISO

    The biggest difference between the two years was BABIP, where he posted a .356 mark in AAA vs .299 in MLB.

    I won’t say a guy is going to improve significantly unless I can see an area for that to take place, and I just cannot see that with Jordy.

  37. NMR says:

    Brendan, if that logic is sound, why isn’t anybody doing the same with Gaby at 1B?

  38. Nate83 says:

    Look at their zips and projected WAR. Olivar rates Mercer higher then Drew and Steamer rates
    drew slightly higher the other doesn’t rate Drew probably because he’s not on a team yet.

    Drew has a career average of .264 and he isn’t getting any younger. I don’t see how adding him is worth giving up a draft pick and 10 million or more a year.

    I know platooning him makes his stats a little better but since when do the Pirates spend that much on a platoon while giving up a draft pick which is one of the few ways for them to compete with large market teams.

    Large market teams wouldn’t spend 10 million to gain .5 WAR why would the pirates and you could argue it wouldn’t even add that unless of course you think you know more then the people and computers that come up with these projections.

  39. NMR says:

    And remind me to NEVER put an ounce of stock into anything that comes out of Oliver and this Brian Cartwright guy. +17.1 Def for Jordy Mercer and +4.8 for Drew? Come on man…

  40. NMR says:

    Nate, again, you’re not EXCHANGING Drew’s production for Jordy’s. You’re adding them.

    And the Pirates would’ve spent $10m on a 1B platoon just this year if they signed Loney. So yeah…

    And lol at trusting the projections. Go ahead and show me how close they were for these guys last year.

  41. Jim S. says:

    Glad I said “I honestly don’t know. I just assumed so.” Thanks for passing it along, NMR. I wonder if both sides would want advanced metrics added. Sometimes, it would favor one side, and sometimes the other.

    Maybe the arbiters all say, “I only use the Eye Test, batting average, rbi’s, pitcher’s wins/losses and ERA. Anything more and you’re wasting your time.”

  42. Jim S. says:

    Maybe Steve Balboni, Nate. Remember him?

  43. Jim S. says:

    FWIW, Drew would have the advantage over Jordy (and Barmes) of batting lefty in PNC.

  44. LeeFoo says:

    Nate….all 3 right in a row…..17, 16, 15.

  45. LeeFoo says:

    Steve was on my APBA draft team for years along with Rob Deer.

    Talk about 2 result players, but at least Deer could throw and field.

  46. LeeFoo says:

    As for no lefties next year, how could I have foogotten about Jeffie?

  47. LeeFoo says:

    Btw, I continue to stay away from Drew for SS arguments, because NH will NEVER EVER give up that draft pick for him.

    jmho

  48. NMR says:

    @Jim

    If I were to guess the reasons arbitrators rely on the counting stats, first and foremost would be a lack of standards across metrics. Which would they use? Bill James? Baseball Reference? Fangraphs?

    Also, many of these metrics claim to approximate a players “true talent” or “skill”. I don’t believe that is the point of arbitration. I believe arbitration is meant to reward players for production, and at that point, the counting stats are all we have.

    It is by no means a full-proof system, or even one I agree with. I’m just passing along the info I know.

  49. NMR says:

    Foo, NH gave up the #33 pick for Gaby Sanchez. The Pirates have the #25 pick next spring.

    You think there is THAT much difference?

  50. “STAT OF THE WEEK: $969,696
    Dollars Clayton Kershaw will earn per start beginning in 2015. Nice work if you can find it.”

    Or about $170K for each day he spends on the DL.

  51. LeeFoo says:

    NMR…they already had two last year….

    But, if you think they’ll give it up, don’t let me talk you out of it. Just like you’ll never talk me into believing they will.

    :)

  52. LeeFoo says:

    ‘already had 2 last year’ PRIOR to the Sanchez pick.

    Now, if we could get Drew for that 25th pick and Gorkys Hernandez, sure, go for it.

    Plus, they have a couple more years of control over Gaby.

  53. LeeFoo says:

    I like CK, but I hate the Dodgers, so I hope your scenario comes to pass.

  54. Nate83 says:

    NMR I’m not forgetting to do that you are platooning them and not receiving close to the 10 million in added production and that is if Drew stays healthy. Not to mention the draft pick.

    They didn’t sign Loney so they are not willing to pay that much for a platoon player. Mercer value is much less determine then Gaby. Gaby is obviously a platoon player at this point in his career. Mercer was practically a rookie last year. It’s really not fair to say he can’t be an everyday play.

    We obviously differ on either Drew’s value or Mercer’s value or both. I’m under the belief that their skill level is closer then you believe. 2014 projections support my belief but it is your right to disagree. I also must value draft picks more then you.

  55. Travis Sawchik says:

    NMR is … John Hart

  56. Steelkings says:

    Neil Walker?

  57. tedwins says:

    My two cents on the Drew discussion, as many know from the Asylum blog, I start that blog (after Jals links kick it off) with my broken record comments about how I feel that Drew is our missing piece. I have been so adamant, perhaps annoyingly so, that im ignored:). For me I salivate at the different options and depth he would give the team at all infield positions, not him playing them but allowing others to move
    around. Who knows, just my opinion and certainly understand the opposite view.

  58. tedwins says:

    Guess while it is 4:30am in pittsburgh, 5:30pm for me and watching Aus open men quarters, ill continue to talk to myself. I see plenty of starting depth to not pay a 37 year old AJ (tough call I know) and pay Drew and lose the pick. Maybe im insane (I am talking to myself so obviously)
    but we had to expect a time to take a calculated risk in FA and I think someone like Drew won’t be so signable in coming
    years. Anyways, what do I know….

  59. NMR says:

    Your last point is what turned me into a believer, ted.

    Now, this is all predicated on the assumption that Drew’s asking price has come down. If he can’t be had in the $10m/yr range, I back off. But with that being said, look down the road and find another free agent shortstop of his quality that will be cheaper. I just don’t see it happeneing any time soon. Cabrera, Hardy, Lowrie, Ramirez, and a bunch of old guys next year. You pass on Drew, and you very well may find yourself stuck with Jordy Mercer as your full time shortstop until 2016, at the earliest.

    I think Jordy Mercer can be very valuable, but is that really the player Jordy Mercer is expected to be?

  60. NMR says:

    No, Nate, I’m not platooning them. The Pirates have two other infielders that can’t hit lefties. Mercer should platoon with them and allow Drew, the far superior defender, to play shortstop.

    And I really don’t think you get my point, as judged by your last paragraph. Mercer and Drew are not competing with one another, their additive. If you believe Jordy is a good player, and also believe he and Drew are close in value, shouldn’t you want them both?

  61. tedwins says:

    Couldn’t agree more… btw, high drama live in Melbourne right now

  62. tedwins says:

    Not sure if you guys can watch the aussie open

  63. Steelkings says:

    You know, I had this weird thought. Did last season get us past the whole “I don’t want to play in Pittsburgh” notion? How many free agents has NH offered and cant get a deal done. Loney is one for sure. He said unless there would have been blow away money , he wanted to stay in Tampa.
    Does it cost the Pirates more for free agents than other teams? Is that why there are so many reclamation projects? Those guys will play anywhere someone will have them. Huntington offers Drew 10M/YR. Whats the likelihood Drew tells Boris to find something else?

  64. NMR says:

    Already confined to the cubical, my friend.

  65. NMR says:

    Still think it all comes down to money. If they would’ve given Loney a fourth year, or updated the yearly salary, they would’ve had him. Otherwise, I don’t blame Loney at all for wanting to stay in Tampa. Already comfortable and playing for a winning team.

  66. tedwins says:

    Good question steel, I do believe those days are over and sure nmr is correct. Guy like loney makes sense to stay in tamba with similar offers. Nice that Burnett, based on initial comments, might hang with us for money in the same ballpark. But who knows might come down to personal preference but no longer pbc ineptitude gor sure :)

  67. tedwins says:

    NMR, djovic goes down in 4 hour thriller. Only major that we can watch in prime time in SE Asia :)

  68. tedwins says:

    For sure….. not gor sure… yikes

  69. I agree with you 100%, Foo!

    Gave up their 3rd ranked pick. Won’t give up 8 figure salary AND #1 Draft Pick.

    Bucs are a team that is committed to building through the draft. They have never been accused of thinking outside their own box.

    Hi Frank!

  70. BostonsCommon says:

    I wouldn’t mind seeing Wilson get a look in the rotation at some point. His walk rate plummeted to the lowest level of his career last year at 9.5% with 3.42 BB/9. If that’s sustainable, he’s got a chance to provide some value as a starter. I’d be a little concerned if he tried to throw 73% FBs going through an order more than once. But really, what is the downside in giving him a shot? He’s already proved he can get outs from both sides of the plate.

  71. Nate83 says:

    Yes I want them both with an unlimited payroll but at the cost of 10 million for 2 or 3 years and the loss of a first round draft pick no. The pirates and 20 other teams in the league can’t afford such a luxury.

  72. NMR says:

    Downside? Opportunity cost. Wilson has only one above average year as a starter in the minor leagues and the Pirates have a plethora of back-end starter types. You have to imagine there will be at least some decrease in performance making the jump to starter in the big leagues, not to mention having to fill his role in the bullpen.

    I just don’t see the need to mess with something that isn’t broken.

  73. tedwins says:

    Curious, NMR, how Wilson projects in each role…. Well let me ask it in a non bumbling way… Is there thoughtful stats that project his upside as a starter in comparison to a reliever? The reason I ask is that if it came out to be in the same ballpark isn’t it nice to get 185 innings (as a starter) instead of 75 ( as a reliever)…. Obviously, right :)… But at the end of the day I get your point as he seems to be progressing nicely in the pen, perhaps dominant in the future…

  74. Foo says:

    Tedwins…should I tell NMR how to spell ‘cubicle’ or save it for the PBCAsylum blog?

    :). :). :)

  75. Foo says:

    Boston….If Justin could get more consistent as a starter, I wouldn’t mind seeing them give him a shot. Maybe this is something they try after this year, given our projected dearth of LH Starter?

    Was his lower walk rate due to the fact that he’d lose concentration as a starter?

    I agree with NMR about his minor league stats. If he ‘blows up’ like he did on those minor league off days, it’ll really tax the ‘pen.
    At least for 2014, if it ain’t broke, as NMR suggests……..

    And, if by 2015 we have five good starters, I would vote for keeping it ‘unbroke’.

    Broken Foo

  76. Steelkings says:

    There are just certain things that I don’t get. BMTIB rushes out and signs Edison Volquez to a 1 year 5 million dollar contract. EV who has never had a ERA under 4, and walks the heck out of everybody, and is right handed in a division that is loaded with sluggers that struggle with left handed pitching….All the while, while a guy that would obviously take that same contract named Paul Moholm sits out there with no place to go. Moholm who is the same age as volquez had far far better numbers last year. 153 innings – 105 K’s with 47BB’s. Thats not too shabby. oh and Moholm is left handed.

    Somebody explain that to me

  77. NMR says:

    You’ll need a smarter guy than me for an answer on that one, ted.

    Just looking back on his history, he didn’t get the big jump in velocity until moving to the pen. Without that velocity, I’m not sure he has the fastball command to get by.

  78. NMR says:

    Neal Huntington, Ray Searage, and their scouts know a lot more about baseball than us.

  79. NMR says:

    That’s just sily, Nate. Come on!

  80. Steelkings says:

    I mean it all seems very risky: Life with volquez and without Burnett

    Liriano
    Cole
    Morton
    Wandy
    Locke
    Volquez

    There are no positive constants in that rotation. Cole hasnt been around long enough to develop a constant. We can hope he does. Morton only one season has pitched in over 20 games. Is Wandy healthy? Which Jeff Locke will show up? First half or second half? What if Volquez is volquez. That is a rotation that could lose 100 games. It has upside yes. But it has obvious downside.

    So again, why Volquez and not Maholm? Maholm would come with much less risk. And did I mention that he is Left Handed? Maholm would be your 4 starter if Wandy was healthy. 3 if not.

    If Maholm was in and Volquez out and Burnett returned, Look how tough that rotation would be. Playoffs for sure.

    Liriano
    Burnett
    Cole
    Morton
    Maholm
    Wandy/Locke-

    After I typed this I just realized that maybe the Pirates dont want another right hander, if you know what I mean.

  81. Steelkings says:

    I seriously doubt that!

  82. Steelkings says:

    I mean really NoMaR,

    What do they have about other teams players and free agents that we don’t? We all have opinions. We all have other peoples opinions. We both have stats and video. What makes us any less right than them?

    And if they did know so much more about it then Lastings Milledge, Ronny Cedeno, Andy Laroache, Akinori Iwamura, Brandon Moss, Evan Meek, Craig Hansen, and Sean Burnett would have never happened.

  83. NMR says:

    I really can’t tell if you’re joking or not.

  84. Nate83 says:

    Why is it silly? It’s reality. Name one time in the Pirates history when they paid a player that much and he wasn’t an everyday player. For that matter name any free agent they have ever signed for 10 million per year. Did you forget what team you are a fan of?

  85. NMR says:

    Nate, you are confusing “can’t” with “won’t”.

    Fact is the Pirates could afford to pay Drew that salary starting this year without a single penny of their own money simply by using the additional revenue from the league’s National TV contract.

    It amazes me that fans can buy owners crying poor as revenues sky rocket and percentage of revenue paid to players drops. Nobody, nobody is struggling to make money in Major League baseball right now.

  86. BostonsCommon says:

    I know his track record as a started was spotty, but I think it’s also fair to says he’s improved as a pitcher since he was starting in the minors. Better control, more confidence, and success in the show will do that.

    Do they really have a plethora of LH back-end starter types? Or ones that can sit mid 90s? Even if his velo dropped a couple ticks as a starter and he averaged 93 MPH instead of 95.3… that is still elite velocity from the left side.

    Frankly, I’m not concerned about NH ability to fill a bullpen role. I think the Pirates have far more relief pitchers that sit mid to upper 90s in the minors than they do potential LH starters with elite velocity.

  87. BostonsCommon says:

    I don’t know why his walk rate was lower? But if improved mechanics lead to improved control, I would suggest that it might be sustainable.

    59.3 % first pitch strikes last year, which is far from elite. I wonder how it compares to his time in the minors though?

  88. NMR says:

    Dude, 100 games?! Come on. Between you and Groat, there’s an awful lot of bridge jumping going on today.

  89. Nate83 says:

    NRM it doesn’t improve the team that much or at all. There are projections that support that. There are a lot better ways to spend 10 million that don’t involve giving up a draft pick.

    The Pirates first time in their history of spending 10 million on a free agent isn’t going to be to fill a position they are already stable at with a player who has injury history and they have to give up a draft pick.

    If it is such a great move why hasn’t anyone else made it. There are certainly teams with worse shortstop situation then the Pirates.

    More money needs to be spent by the Pirates but not on Drew. In my opinion it isn’t only a bad move for the Pirates but it would be a bad move for most teams. He isn’t worth the cost.

  90. NMR says:

    Being fans who appreciate sabermetrics, I think we have to acknowledge that Wilson’s peripherals were not those of a dominant pitcher, regardless of use.

    Not only would we be hoping that his control improves, we also have to consider that there’s no way in heck he’d benefit from a .229 BABIP and 85% LOB over the course of a year as a starter.

  91. NMR says:

    Hahahaha. Tell that to the World Champion Boston Red Sox.

  92. NMR says:

    Still trying to figure out how a guy who strictly adheres to ZiPS projections can think Ike Davis (1.4 zWAR) is needed to keep Gaby Sanchez (1.1 zWAR) from being a “black hole” yet Stephen Drew isn’t much of an improvement.

  93. Nate83 says:

    Yes that team that decided not to resign Drew themselves.

    Drew = championship. Great arguement especially since they decided 14.1 was to much to pay this guy and this is a team that doesn’t think twice about spending that much on their bullpen. Who’s being silly now.

  94. NMR says:

    As for you question, I think history would be a good guide.

    In the winter of 2012, the Pirates declined Paul Maholm’s option and traded for AJ Burnett. Upside > security

    In the winter of 2013, the Pirates let Kevin Correia walk and signed Francisco Liriano instead. Upside > security

    In the winter of 2014, the Pirates wanted Josh Johnson and eventually signed Edinson Volquez over safer options.

    The pattern is clear. And it has worked. Doesn’t mean it will again, but there is clearly a reason for their bet.

  95. BostonsCommon says:

    Wow, did he really get that lucky last year? That suggests major regression.

  96. NMR says:

    Um, you realize DREW was the one who turned down BOSTON’s $14.1m qualifying offer, right?

  97. Steelkings says:

    Akinori Iwamura was awful. The Pirates paid him 5 million. NH traded Jesse Chavez, a 6 year veteran pitcher who is serviceable but not great. The point is that NH like to find guys with major upside. He thought he had one in Iwamura. I remember when they signed him. And when finding upside is your passion and style you are going to strike out a lot.
    And frankly yes, NMR, I think you could do just as good a job as he does, throwing those darts.

  98. NMR says:

    True, but those numbers are much more realistic for relievers given sample size. Starters usually have 100-140 more innings for noise to cancel out. Still on the high end, but not unheard of.

  99. Nate83 says:

    NRM this has been covered. They are not paying 10 million for Ike like they would be for Drew. At this point in his career Gaby is established as a perfect platoon person and Mercer is not. Davis still has upside and cost much less then Drew who if anything has downside with his injuries.

    I don’t strictly adhere to zips but I don’t know how you can compare players and how they will do in 2014 without it being part of the equation. Maybe I missed something but it seems as if these two players had similar 2013 stats as well. At least they are close enough not to warrant a 10 million expense and draft pick.

    How good do you think Drew is? He would have to be a top 10 shortstop for me to think he is worth giving that much up for him. With the pirates payroll they need to gain 2 wins for 5 million not pay 10 million for maybe one win if your being generous while giving up a very valuable draft pick.

    If Mercer didn’t have the year he had last year and they are just replacing Barmes with Drew by all means get Drew at a reasonable price but with Mercer part of the equation I just don’t see much added value.

  100. Nate83 says:

    You got me. I do realize how QO work. I just got caught up in the debate. You would be surprised at how much I look like Andy Samburg if I had glasses. That roast speech was great by the way.

  101. Steelkings says:

    The 2013 Pirates were 20th in runs scored and 2nd in runs allowed. So explain to me how the offense got better? Maybe I missed something. While your at it explain how the starting rotation got better with Burnett out and Volquez in?
    The Pirates won 26 games last year by 1 run. The last I saw last year was Grilli coming off an injury and Melancon get his tits lit.

    3 if’s is all it will take. If Wandy is ineffective. If Locke is 2nd half Locke. If Volquez is Volquez. I could absolutely see this fall apart.

  102. NMR says:

    Haha, hey man, if that makes you feel better.

    All I’m gonna say is think back to 2010. THAT was a 100 loss team. Even with three “if’s”, the talent taking the field next year isn’t even close to the talent that actually lost 100 games.

  103. NMR says:

    Frankly, I’m stunned by your lack of respect for how difficult this game actually is.

    Nobody in their right mind ould hire me to work in Major League Baseball right now, and for good reaon.

  104. Steelkings says:

    —-In the winter of 2012, the Pirates declined Paul Maholm’s option and traded for AJ Burnett. Upside > security—

    Which was odd at the time if I remember right, because he was the teams only left handed starter. He had the 2nd lowest era at 3.6 behind a almost Identical stat line with Jeff Karstans at 3.4. The difference was that Maholm was 6 – 14.

    —The pattern is clear. And it has worked—

    Hold up on the car wash, NMR!
    I would argue that the BMTIB let Maholm walk and sign with the Cubs for the same money as the Pirates spent reworking the Karstens deal. The difference is that Karstens pitched 1/3 of a season in 2012 and Maholm started 32 games with the Cubs and Braves with that same old 3.6 era. That does not qualify as “It Worked”. Now if they would have sent Karstens or McDonald out of there maybe we could call it, Worked!

  105. NMR says:

    It honestly took me a couple times to appreciate it. First time I saw his schtick I just didn’t get it.

    Where have you been lately, by the way? I’m glad to have you back.

  106. Steelkings says:

    Further more: In 2012 Maholms ERA was 3.6 while Burnetts ERA was 3.5.

    Maholms last year as Pirate the teams leading hitter was Neil Walker at .273 Andrew McCutchen hit .253
    AJ’s first year as a Pirate McCutchen hit .327 with 31 dingers. Add in Jones with 27 dingers and it quite a bit different.

  107. Steelkings says:

    Hold up on that car wash part 2:

    That same “it worked ” guy who dropped Correia and picked up Liriano also a couple years before—

    Dropped Zach Duke and Picked up high upside Kevin Correia — opps!

  108. NMR says:

    The Pirates had a $9m on Paul Maholm for the 2012 season, which they declined. They then traded for AJ Burnett and assumed roughly half of his $16m salary.

  109. NMR says:

    I honestly have no clue what you’re talking about at this point, dude.

    You asked for a reason. I gave you one. I don’t know what else you want me to do.

  110. Nate83 says:

    I’ve had pneumonia. Been sick since Christmas. I’m still sick at home but feeling much better. Looking forward to getting back to 100% and rejoining civilization.

  111. Steelkings says:

    It not hard to understand. I am merely pointing out that for every chance the BMTIB has taken that worked, there is one that hasn’t. I always liked Maholm. The fact is that Huntington would not rework Maholms deal. Maholm said in a ESPN interview that his family still lives in Pittsburgh and when the Pirates declined the 9.3 million dollar option, his agent offered the Pirates the 3.7 million dollar deal the Cubs signed him for. Declined again.
    The Irony is that as always every Pirate to ever be a Cub somehow turns to gold. Later that year the Cubs traded Maholm to the Braves for Arodys Vizcaino, who is the Cubs no#1 pitching prospect.

    This little bit from the Maholm Interview :
    After his June meltdown, In 140 innings since , Maholm has struck out 116 batters, walked 36, and allowed just 10 homers and 111 hits. His ERA during that stretch: 2.25. That’s better than Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez, or any other starting pitcher (with a comparable number of innings pitched) over that span.

  112. Steelkings says:

    I posted that comment before I finished . I wanted to finish by saying that the Pirates chose the wrong guy. They chose more possible upside with Karstans and lost. Maholm 3.7 mil to the Cubs and Karstans 3.9 mil to the Pirates. Niether one of those guys has anything to do with AJ Burnett being signed.

  113. Travis Sawchik says:

    Yep. Pirates are on record saying they prefer upside approach with pitching

  114. NMR says:

    Dang! Must’ve hit you hard, man. Hope that clears up.

  115. Travis Sawchik says:

    Andrew, in a vacuum I’m not sure how important the handedness of a staff is. Far more important is the quality of the stuff …. But being that the Pirates’ two main division rivals have some quality left-handed bats I have to think lefty-righty balance is meaningful. Liriano was pretty dominant against the Reds and Cardinals last season.

  116. NMR says:

    “The pattern is clear. And it has worked. Doesn’t mean it will again, but there is clearly a reason for their bet.”

    You conveniently left out that little part where I said that strategy may not work again, even though it has in the past.

    You asked for a reason, I gave you one.

    If you don’t mind me asking, how long have you been a baseball fan?

  117. Steelkings says:

    This game is hard to play and hard to coach. But its not hard to figure out. NH doesn’t find guys for reclamation projects because he’s smart. He does it because he has to. I think that Neil has done a great job rebuilding the farm System and he gets major kodo’s from me for the firing of Jim Tracy. But quite frankly anyone with some baseball since can approximate what he does. Do you know how many people have masters degrees in sports management, NMR?
    Sorry to tell you this, but I am heavily involved with High school and travel baseball and know several major league scouts personally and really there is a simple formula. Speed, Power and athleticism. Sign them to a minor league contract and let them fail or succeed. You want to see something cool sometime. Go to East Cobb in Georgia and watch the final 4 of the 16u nationals. There is an unbelievable display of radar guns and talent. The whole place is filled with scouts. Some of the best baseball you will ever see. Saber-metrics be dammed. Those guys have the hard job. And the guys who have to keep those young men from missing their mothers and girl friends so much they cant succeed. Huntington gets a check book and get to play real life fantasy baseball.

  118. Steelkings says:

    Im 52 years old and have been directly involved with baseball for 32 years. Its been in my family forever. My father is a state champion coach in Marion County and the smallest 4a school in Indy. I have coached at the High School level as well and have also been involved with various very successful travel organizations. And as you know i like to simplify the game. I believe in simple stats and what the eye tells me. I believe that Scap loading and the inverted w causes surgery, and that the best hitter to play the game was Barry Bonds.
    I was 8 years old when Clemente died. I’ve cried twice in my lifetime over professional sports. Then and again in 1992. I’ve been a pirate fan and a student of the game forever.

  119. Steelkings says:

    The Cubs signed Maholm for 3.7 Mil, Or roughly half of what the Pirates actually paid Burnett.

  120. Steelkings says:

    What is the upside on Volquez, Travis? Lets just say he’s a serviceable replacement for Burnett. Gets the slider workin and wins 12 or so games. NOW WHAT?

  121. Travis Sawchik says:

    Volquez’s upside? See: 2008

    If he can throw strike one, he has a true wipeout pitch in that changeup. Solid upside play, imo

  122. NMR says:

    That made me smile, Steel. Nothing gets me like waxing poetic about baseball.

    Don’t take me asking as questioning your knowledge. I sincerely enjoy talking with you. Just threw me off when you started talking about GM’s and fantasy. We can agree to disagree on that.

    You should take me up on the offer when I try to get guys discussing mechanics. Love that kind of stuff. Hate the inverted W.

  123. Steelkings says:

    You asked me a question. Now its my turn. Let me preface this by saying that you are right, Losing 100 games would be extreme. 90 wouldn’t though if the If’s didn’t pan out. At very least back to losing more than you win. Enough about that. Here’s my question for you:

    As a fan of the Pirates, what do you want from them?

  124. Andrew says:

    Upside? This article was published today, by Tony Blengino, the recently fired/forced out special assistant to the Seattle GM, and fhe was the Brewers director of amateur scouting before moving to the Mariners.

    And let’s finish with Edinson Volquez, potentially the best bargain free-agent signing thus far this offseason. A) His extremely high 2013 line-drive rate should regress going forward, and B) the outlandishly high level of production he allowed on flyballs in 2013 was simply not real — and he’s headed to a forgiving home park with a stellar outfield defense in 2014. His ERA should drop by two full points in 2014, even without major improvements in control.

  125. Andrew says:

    I tried to highlight the quote, which is the 2nd paragraph, apparently htlm text does not work for this blog.

  126. NMR says:

    Heady stuff, Andrew. Hadn’t seen that before.

    What intrigues me most about Volquez is that he already bought into the Searage school of sinkers last season to the tune of an 18.3% increase over career average. I have a feeling that his biggest improvement will come from sequencing. What to throw and when to throw it.

  127. Steelkings says:

    I remember GM 6 in 1990. Pirates at Cincinnati. Weirdly the Pirates started Ted Power, who had not started all year long. Trying to get the game to Zane Smith. Zane pitched game 3, 3 days earlier. Man there were some great players on those two teams. The Pirate playoff rotation was Bob Walk and Doug Drebek were both 1-1, and Zane Smith who lost twice. In the 8th inning Van Slyke just missed giving the Pirates the lead with a blast that missed the foul pole by inches. In the 9th inning Carmelo Martinez was robbed of a go ahead 2 run homer by Billy Hatcher in deep RC field. That was a great great series.
    The Reds had guys like Chris Sabo, Paul Oneal, Barry Larkin and Eric Davis Pitchers Norm Charlton, Tom Browning, Randy Myers, Danny Jackson and Rob Dibble. WoW!

  128. NMR says:

    I’ll agree with that, Steel. I find it unlikely, but this group of players isn’t above tanking when things go wrong. 2011/2012 wasn’t THAT long ago, after all.

    As a fan? All I export is effort. I’m soft when it comes down to it. Also, as a resident of the city, I expect them to be good stewards of the neighborhood and it’s people.

    That being said, I WANT ownership to invest every dime it makes back into the organization – and that doesn’t mean paying down debt. Bob Nutting and family have already made an enourmous sum of money as they’ve seen the franchise jump in value. If they want money now, nobody is stopping them from cashing out tomorrow.

    I also WANT management to be competent. This doesn’t mean hit on every move or make the playoffs every year. That just doesn’t happen. But I do believe that competent management should produce teams that at least break .500 more often than not and make the playoffs every few years. If this or any group can’t, there are always others out there that can try.

  129. Steelkings says:

    You guys missed the point. I conceded that Volquez is great in 2014. I’ll further concede that he helps the Pirates win the world series. We can all die happy now…Again my question…Now what?

    The skeptic in me, says the reason he did not get a Liriano type optional 2nd year is because the Pirate thought on the up side is a serviceable right handed wipe out slider at the trade deadline. For that matter Liriano as well. If those two are Pitching well in meaningful games for the Pirates after the trade deadline there is little to no chance they will be able to extend them without parting with taller dollars than they would usually part with. The BMTIB has to know that, dont they? Volquez is not a go for it type move.
    Am I right?

  130. Andrew says:

    I’ve written this before, my main concern is Volquez’s change up whiff rate is down and he used his curve more which was not as good of a swing and miss pitch, thus I worry if he can strike batters out at his career average rate. Groundballs are great, they kill power but the still become hits at a .232 rate and if you walk a lot of batters, grounders finding holes will kill a pitcher, see Jeff Locke.

    That article and the quote that Pirates contacted Voquez before, lessens by pessimism.

  131. Steelkings says:

    Great answer! I truely appreciate what you said. Well thought out. I’m a little more emotional about it.
    I was in Cincy when the pirates clinched home field for the wild card game. You could feel it. The Players believed. The Bucs blasted 6 homers off Arroyo. The players were jacked up. After the game was over several came out and saluted the fans. It was like a Steeler road game. Just awesome!

    These players..This group tasted it. They believe they can get it done. But TBMTIB has done absolutely nothing to help them this off season. And it pisses passionate fans like myself off. I tasted it in Cincy as well. Those playoff crowds at PNC tasted it. 2014 should be a year like 1991/1992 where we are chasing the NL title. But the reality is the BMTIB let go of one of the best pitchers in the NL. Didnt fix 1st in a way that will not be a huge risk. They did not improve RF. Didnt do anything to upgrade the SS position. Basically they are watching opportunity evaporate. So you will have to excuse me for being annoyed by the term “Upside”

  132. NMR says:

    Plight of the small market, Steel. Players like Volquez are too risky to commit long term dollars, but their success also means they’ll soon be playing for someone else. The team has no option but to keep hitting on the Burnett’s, Martin’s, and Liriano’s of the world.

    @Andrew

    Did you happen to see much of Volquez last season? I’d be interested in seeing if the drop in changeup success (and usage) was a result of pitch quality, itself. Swing-and-miss changeups on pitch quality alone are pretty rare. Not many guys have a here-it-comes-try-and-hit-it change. They seem to use it as an out pitch only when set up by the fastball.

    I think for Volquez can be successful with a K rate similar to last years, but he’s gotta start substituting walks for contact. Preferably the type that stays on the ground.

  133. NMR says:

    Oh I’ll agree that this off season has been disappointing. Without a doubt.

    I’ll give them the benefit that they’ve faced a tough environment – missing out on Josh Johnson, AJ doing whatever the hell AJ is doing, a bunch of scrap metal first basemen being sold at copper prices – but I do believe there were moves to be made that could marginally improve this team.

    I’m not quite as pessimistic as I believe there will be plenty of opportunity for improvement during the season, but I don’t blame anyone for being upset about the way this winter has unfolded.

  134. Andrew says:

    I can definitely understand that,

  135. Andrew says:

    @ Steelkings I in no way think Volquez is the second coming of Liriano, I will be happy with a Jeff Locke like line, 160 innings of 3.80 ERA, and I do not think that is likely.

    @NMR I didn’t not seen Volquez pitch last year, I do not watch a lot of west coast baseball. All I have is associations no causality. I was looking over his stats when the Pirates signed him, and observed these three things. I cannot explain anything, I can only speculate, maybe change up does not work with sinker.
    1) His K/9 is 7.5K/9 was below his average of 8.45K/9.
    2) Whiff rate on change up down from career average 20% to 13.5%
    3) He used his changeup noticeably less when ahead and in two strike counts

    Like you said, small payroll you have to sign projects.

  136. tedwins says:

    Thanks :)

  137. Foo says:

    NMR/Steelkings

    Please let us know when we can have Travis’ blog back.

    Thank you.

    :). :). :). :!

 
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