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The win curve and the Pirates, and your daily Burnett update

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SOUTH HILLS –  If Clay Davenport’s projected standings are to be believed, the Pirates would do well to be aggressive in the free agent and/or trade markets before Opening Day. If you’re unfamiliar with Davenport’s projections, they are a hybrid cocktail of computer-generated projected performances combined with his subjective thoughts on which players will might fill in for injured players, what prospects will be promoted, etc.

Perfect? No. But interesting nonetheless.

Here are the projected standings courtesy of MLB Network’s Clubhouse Confidential (great, great show):

 

NL EAST

Washington  87-75

Atlanta           85-77

New York      78-84

Miami             75-87

Philadelphia 72-90

 

NL CENTRAL

St. Louis         90-72

Pittsburgh  83-79

Cincinnati      80-82

Milwaukee     77-85

Chicago          67-95

Davenport on the Reds’: “Losing Shin-Soo Choo is a big deal…Hamilton is fast, you have a case he is the fastest man to ever play Major League Baseball but they don’t have any really good evidence that he can hit well enough. That’s a big part of what is holding the Reds back.”

(I’m bullish on Hamilton)

NL WEST

L.A.                88-74

San Fran.     85-77

San Diego     83-79

Arizona        78-84

Colorado      71-91

 

Wild card race:

Team    GB

Braves    -

Giants     -

Pirates  2.0

Padres   2.0

Reds       5.0

I mentioned the win curve in Wednesday’s blog . If you’re unfamiliar with the jargon, basically what it means is depending on where a team is in regard to competitive status – closer to contention or further away from contention – the more valuable or less valuable adding a win via free agency or trade or prospect promotion becomes.

For instance, adding one win today would impact the Pirates far more than the Cubs. Wins are most valuable if you are on the contention bubble. I think the Davenport projections back up public opinion that the Pirates look like a borderline playoff team entering 2014 without further improvement.

We’ve perhaps become to fixated on AJ Burnett in Pittsburgh because he’s offered us a Brett Favre-like soap opera. The simple fact is whether it’s Burnett or another free agent or a trade, adding a win or two – wherever it comes from – could provide a monster impact. The good news for the Pirates as we enter February there are a number of impact free agents still on the board. The bad news is most are attached to draft pick compensation, and the Pirates also appear to be hunting significant bargains.

Still, one can argue that the Pirates’ position on the win curve, and with their deep farm system, perhaps this is the time when they should surrender a pick to sign, say, a Stephen Drew. One can argue to make the most money possible in 2014 the Pirates will need to spend more than perhaps they’re comfortable with in February.

***

Now the Davenport translations are conservative. Here is how teams finished in relation to projection last year.

1st place   +8.7 games

2nd place +6.5  games

3rd place  -0.2 games

4th place   -4.0 games

5th place   -10  games

I know many of you are frustrated with the offseason to date, but the offseason isn’t over and big finish could lead to big results for the Pirates in 2014.

 

BURNETT UPDATE:

Peter Gammons reported on MLB Network this morning that 15 teams have contacted Burnett’s agent and his agent says Burnett is not yet sure where he wants to play in 2014.  Gammons also noted Burnett’s combo of a power sinker and swing-and-miss stuff is rare and he said four general managers told him he is the second-best free agent starter available this offseason after Tanaka.

You can argue whether or not the QO made sense for the Pirates with Burnett. But if Burnett was tagged with the QO, the number of suitors would not be numbered at 15.

Gammons said Burnett has been the talk of baseball for the last 72 hours.

 

-TS

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Comments

  1. I’m not a fan of Stephen Drew at the anything more than $5-7 million per year. He has played 100 games one time in the last three years and has a .245/.322/.403 slash line over that time. Drew’s too brittle and Boras won’t likely go down to $5-7 million. Also, it’s Ubaldo Jimenez not Jiminez — sorry, I’m mad/sad today, My 17-year-old cat died. I enjoy the write-ups!

  2. B says:

    Burnett is a good option but overblown as savior. His inconsistency down the stretch plus mediocre home/away splits tells me the Pirates can be successful without him. Assuming Taillon gets June promotion this rotation is fine. I’m more concerned about potential injury at top (Cole) than depth. At 37 AJ just seems like a nice to have depth option than a front of the rotation starter. Someone is going to have buyer’s remorse.

  3. PetroSteel says:

    Great Info, Trav! The Pirates…I don’t know what they are thinking? I’m not saying that in a negitive way. I just wish I knew more. I wish they would say more. Are they trying to not spend now because they need to save because Pedro and others are going to cost an arm and a leg and they want to keep them? Are they working on long term deals with this core? If that is the case, then I get it. Don’t give AJ 11M/12M (whatever) if they need everything that they got to sign this core? Pedro hit 36 homers and had 100 RBI’s last year. You can’t replace that. I don’t care what you want to say about his stikeouts or whatever else. The Pirates must have him long term. Same with Walker on a smaller scale. Marte is going to be an All-Star (yes, he is THAT good!). They need Martin for another year beyond this one. He is a stud. The list goes on. This is a solid core. I would just like to know more of what the Pirates are thinking. That’s all. Travis, That’s the information that we need most. Keep up the great work!!!

  4. Nate83 says:

    I’m not interested in Drew at all. If they are willing to give up a draft pick I would rather make a run at Ubaldo. I think this team can add more wins with a proven starter then they can with a guy that would be used for platooning around the infield who hasn’t been very healthy and slash line isn’t that great when he does play.

    I’m confident that Ubaldo would add more value over Edison or Wandy if he isn’t healthy then Drew would add over whatever 9 step moves you would make each day to get Drew his 500 plate appearances. I’m a big fan of keeping line ups as consistent as possible and adding Drew would definitely reduce the consistency in the lineup with all the platoons people are suggesting and I personally do not think he adds much. He’s plays a position a lot of teams need and there are not other free agent options out there for shortstop. If he was that valuable I would think the Yankees would have snatched him up as protection against Jeter getting injured and their second baseman not doing well.

  5. Nate83 says:

    Marte was ranked 6th and 7th on MLB Networks top 9 left fielder list just the other day. He missed the third list which was Bill James list. He already is viewed as close to a top talent after just one full year. Hopefully he can take the next step forward this year.

    Out of the 3 you mention (Pedro, Walker and Marte) I believe he would be the most important to sign an extension to going forward. He probably would be the one most open to an extension. I think Walker’s numbers are replaceable and I’m not convinced he can a) stay at second and b) stay healthy. His free agent years don’t start until age 31 or 32 we would be extending through what is typically years of regression. \

    In my opinion Pedro doesn’t do enough things well enough to pay what Boris will get a large market team to pay for him if he continues to hit 30-40 HR’s a year over the next two years. A large market team will be willing to pay North of 20 million a year for 3 or 4 year of production followed by 3 empty years at the end of the contract. He would be very hard to sign to an extension. He’s not that young and won’t want to delay his free agency for a year or two with an extension. He will want to cash in as soon as possible with a 6 or 7 year deal.

  6. macchamp74 says:

    Adding a starting pitcher should be number 1 on list of things to do before March 31st…I’m not comfortable with Wandy or Volquez…..and definitely not with the 6-10 options in system if those two are not performing.
    I hope you are correct about a possible big finish to spring training Travis!

  7. NMR says:

    Drew is the starting shortstop.

    That is one lineup move.

    Done.

  8. Andrew says:

    Travis, I am sure you will see this elsewhere, but great article on being a beat writer

    http://www.hardballtimes.com/so-you-want-to-be-a-beat-writer…/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

  9. Foo says:

    JBS….been there on the ‘cat dying’ thing a coupla times.

    They become part of the family. It is never easy.

  10. Foo says:

    And, as I posted on the blog, the other day, the 25th pick hasn’t generated too many stars.

    Foo

  11. Foo says:

    There is so much ‘noise’ out there about AJ, it is hard to know what to believe.

    I’m just gonna sit back and let the dust settle.

  12. PetroSteel says:

    SS is not our most pressing area of need. That’s my thoughts on Drew. An he’s not enough of an upgrade versus what we have now.
    Nate, I agree with you other then about Pedro. We will realize some day that he is a once in a generation player. Have you seen his home runs and how hard he hits the ball now. Who does that???

  13. Nate83 says:

    Are you sending Mercer back to the minors or are you platooning him with Walker and Alverez. Drew’s numbers are not a big improvement over Mercer for a straight out switch being worth the money. The whole idea most have been advocating has been to use Mercer as some super utility platoon guy. I just don’t see Drew’s production over the last 4 years as being that impressive to warrant such a move unless he signs for 6 or 7 million which he will not do after turning down 14 million. Some projections show Mercer actually being a better player then Drew this year.

    Starting pitcher is the quickest way to add wins to this team.

  14. Steve D says:

    I dont think Bronson Arroyo has a draft pick attached. The guys worth 10m/yr, see if he’ll take 8m. ALot of speculation about his offers lately, so it’s hard to believe what you read. The guys consistant 200+ innings. I think he would be a #3-#4 on this team.

  15. Nate83 says:

    It is impressive. I’m not sure once in a generation is what I would call him. If the Pirates offered to extend him for 2 years at 18 million per do you think Boris would sign that. I don’t think it would even get a second look by him. I can’t imagine the Pirates offering more then that for a one trick pony when they could build around pitching in Cole and Taillon and 4 and 5 tool players like Marte and Polanco. They can’t sign them all I’m not even convinced they can sign more then 1 of them if they continue to operate like they are this year. I can’t imagine the player they pick out of the 5 mentioned in this post would be Pedro.

  16. Nate83 says:

    I like Bronson as a reliable 4 or 5 starter. I wouldn’t give him much more then 8-10 million. He is probably marginally better then his stats considering the home field he has played in while with the Reds.

  17. PetroSteel says:

    I wouldnt take Bronson for any money!
    I think Pedro is more then just a one trick pony. Guys like him take a little longer to get started. This year will be a monster year for him and he could carry this team to the WS (No, I’m not crazy…well maybe a little). I agree that we need to invest in our pitchers but do you remember how we struggled with the bats last year? I would like to think that we could work something out with Pedro to get a couple of his free agent years. i would like to think that’s why they aren’t spending right now.

  18. The Gunner says:

    AJ is no savior but, he is a very good pitcher. The Bucs will survive quite nicely without him and his many meltdowns. In his 30 starts in 2013, the Bucs lost 16 times – that’s more than half of the time. AJ will definitely find greener pastures elsewhere as that is what he cares about…….not those naive fans who bought his “I’ll either play for the Pirates or retire” shtick,

  19. Nate83 says:

    I’ve always been a Pedro supported compared to most on these blogs and I would love nothing more then for him to do that. If he does his price just keeps going higher and higher. I don’t see the Pirates offering what it would take to extend him with Boris as his agent. If he becomes a more well rounded hitter then he starts to enter the area of being one of the top 5 free agents when he becomes one and Boris knows that. I can’t see him allowing Pedro to delay his big paycheck for 2 years. Can you imagine if Pujols or Hamilton would have waited 2 more years.

  20. Andrew says:

    The Drew discussion is all about perception because there is too little information on Mercer, and Drew is a model of inconsistency even before is injuries in 2011-12, he was all over the place. In the last thread NMR brought up ZiPS projections to argue against Mercer but ZiPS has Mercer projected for a 92 OPS+, and Drew 90 OPS+, and projects them the same defensively, which Nate alluded to. The biggest difference is Stephen Drew brings certainty in that the range of expect performance is much smaller and the chance of a replacement level performance is near zero, the same cannot be said for Mercer.

    The question is then how much are you willing to pay for that certainty? Any deal is going to have to be multiple years to spread out the loss of the draft pick, which is valued at $6.5 million in 2011 dollars. My opinion varies by the day, both sides have good points.

    The problem with adding starting pitching, (outside Burnett) all of the options are redundant with what the Pirates currently have. Liriano, Cole, Morton, then $6.5 million for Wandy and $5 million for Volquez. I do not see the Pirates singing another back end starter, say Arroyo or Capuano, (I liked Hammels but the Cubs just signed him) for around 6-8 $million a year, because they already have guys who can provide 160-180 innings and league average ERA.

  21. PetroSteel says:

    Agree! They gotta try to do it now to have any chance at all. So, if they aren’t spending now on AJ or a 1B then I can understand if it’s to give large extentions to the core. That’s all I’m saying. I would rather them extend the core and wait for the youngsters to fill the other holes.

  22. Andrew says:

    I am not an Alvarez basher, but the predictions of his coming dominance are based on faith alone, nothing indicates he is improving, his K% is constant and his BB% has dropped at little, and he made less contact last year. What he does have is elite power, and he is a valuable player. (And do not get me wrong, I welcome Alvarez the complete hitter with open arms .)

  23. Nate83 says:

    Andrew good post. The starting pitching is so tough to project this year. Maybe Wandy is healthy and gives us a 4th starter that is really reliable to go with Cole, Liriano and Morton. If that happens worse case scenario is Volquez is just horrible and we patch together a 5th starter with Cumpton, Stolmy, Locke, etc…. until Taillon arrives. It’s hard to justify spending anything on starting pitching if that is the case.

    However there is a good chance Wandy pitches less then 100 innings this year. If Voquez is horrible which isn’t out of the question and god forbid one of the other 3 starters get injured (very few staffs make it through a year healthy) we are essentially sunk for the year. We have options but very few are reliable and I even include Taillon as not being reliable. I think he will be competitive at this level for the second half of 2014 but I’m hardly counting on it.

    Now that they have come up empty (so far) on getting a first baseman or much of anything else I wish they hadn’t of signed Volquez and instead would have gotten a more reliable option like Bronson or even Maholm for slightly more money. I’m intrigued by Volquez more then most but I’m not exactly comfortable with him and Wandy both being on the staff and projected as starters.

  24. chethejet1 says:

    Wandy is key. He replaces AJ innings. If he is on he is an excellent 3 which AJ is now. No to the SS from the Sox. I like Mercer and he has to play to see what he can become. Polanco will allow Rf to be settled by June and then see what he does. Same with Tallion. 1st base will be interesting. Hurdle has his hands full this year.

  25. cmat0829 says:

    Happy Friday one and all.

    1) AJ — 15 teams may be interested in AJ, but any team outside of say a 300 mile radius of AJ’s home has almost zero odds of landing him. At least that’s what I’ve gleaned from a number of articles, etc. AJ seems to want to spend as much time as possible with his family and isn’t real interested in straying too far. The key questions at this point:

    — how much are the Pirates willing to pay AJ? If not more than $12M, he won’t be a Pirate.
    — how much of a discount is AJ willing to give the Pirates for being able to pitch in PNC Park? If he wants more than $14M, he won’t be a Pirate.
    — will AJ really consider pitching his home games in Camden Yards or Citizens Bank Park? If so, best wishes to him.

    2) I personally prefer the Pirates suck it up and sign AJ, but if not, there are other places for this team to spend $$ and add talent to the roster. There are other starting pitchers to be had (Santana, Jimenez, Arroyo, even serviceable starters like Maholm).. you can make an argument, beyond the draft pick, that signing Jimenez for 3 years at $13M per would be better investment than AJ, simply because it fills a need in 2015 and 2016 and the rotation has open spots (Wandy and Liriano likely gone).

    3) I’m also intrigued by Stephen Drew, again if his price comes down to where it is rumored, he would be an upgrade for the Pirates.

    4) I’ve seen a few posts to the effect of “If you sign Player X, what do you do with Players Y and Z already on the roster”? I think the Pirates have to embrace that they’ve entered a new era… respectability has been established, farm system investments are paying off, and now it is championship contention or bust. So the only focus is on acquiring talent that makes you better, and the rest of the chips fall where they may. If you get Drew, for example, he starts 120 games at least. As to Mercer? He gets the rest, a start or two at 2B, a start or two at 3B… and c’est la vie.

  26. Nate83 says:

    Agree on Mercer. I think he played well enough last year to get a chance to show us what he can be. I really like his approach at the plate. He often worked counts deep and fouled of good pitches. At some points last year I would have rather had him batting second instead of Walker. The great thing about this is Drew will sign somewhere and we will get to see how these two players stats play out next year.

    AJ will sign as well and we can see if he would have been worth the 18 million or so I think he will end up getting. Baseball is crazy. Anything can happen including Volquez outperforming AJ next year. I wouldn’t expect it but I don’t count anything out in baseball.

  27. Nate83 says:

    Cmat I always enjoy your post. They are always very logical. In the case of number 4 are you keeping Barmes on the team and having 3 backup infielders when you include the first base platoon or are you trying to find a trade partner for Barmes or a flat out release and eat the money.

  28. NMR says:

    Those projections are laughable.

  29. NMR says:

    There is no way Bronson Arroyo gets you more wins than Stephen Drew.

  30. cmat0829 says:

    Hadn’t thought that far ahead, because I think Drew signing is real long-shot…but IF indeed they went out and got Drew, he is the starter..not platoon, but the clear starter, and probably needs to play 135 games+.

    I don’t think I’d release Barmes, doesn’t make a lot of sense to do that. If Mercer had options, he’d go back to Indy. If not, then Mercer becomes utility player (role that JayHey played last year). Bench would be: backup catcher, reserve RFer, reserve 1B, Mercer and Barmes.

    Obviously, I’d be looking for trade Barmes if I could, may have to wait for an injury opportunity on another team, but I’d keep him on the team until that opportunity came about. If not, you can release him at the deadline.

  31. Nate83 says:

    Well then we really have nothing to talk about until the 2014 season is complete and we can see actual performance. I’m not sure why you keep ignoring Drew’s actual production over his last 4 years which is not that great. But we have been through this on at least 3 blogs now so I think we know were each of us stand on the topic and obviously we are not going to change each others opinion.

  32. cmat0829 says:

    I like Jordy a lot… no issue at all with us giving him a shot to continue to develop. If you can get Drew for a steal of a price though, he is an upgrade over Jordy to be sure. Right now, though, the most glaring hole on the Pirates is 1B production… and that should be the major focus. Slight upgrades (and they can be had at SS and eventually at 2B (sorry Neil)) aren’t yet the main focus here.

    As to starting rotation, Wandy and his health are so critical to this team in 2014. If he is healthy, the rotation is pretty solid, especially when you consider Taillon will assume the 5th spot in June. The need to sign AJ much less critical if Wandy can be the Wandy the Pirates traded for.

    If Wandy isn’t sound physically, then the Pirates MUST sign another starter, need not be AJ, but if AJ does sign elsewhere, the Bucs should sign Capuano or Maholm.

  33. LeeFoo says:

    Andrew…I with you 100% on Alvarez…His OPS actually DROPPED last year.

  34. LeeFoo says:

    CMat…re: AJ….can we really believe all the rumors out there? I think Gammons had him going to the Rays. The Rays employ defensive shifting more than us. I don’t think AJ would like that.

    As for starting pitching, I like Capuano.
    http://www.amazinavenue.com/2014/1/14/5307204/mlb-free-agency-chris-capuano?utm_source=amazinavenue&utm_medium=nextclicks&utm_campaign=blogs

  35. LeeFoo says:

    From Buster O

    “Lefty Chris Capuano has dropped his ask from two years to one, Olney tweets. The 35-year-old should be an attractive option on a single-season commitment.”

  36. Nate83 says:

    Well their actual WAR over their careers are pretty similar with Arroyo being the much better bet of actually playing a full season considering that he has pitched more innings then any pitcher in the last 10 years. Also I didn’t mention how many wins they are worth but if you did do that you would be comparing what Drew is worth over Mercer who has proved he isn’t going to be horrible and you would be comparing Arroyo to Volquez who could be a complete mess.

    Mercer was a 1.4 WAR with less then 400 plate appearances last year. Why are you discounting that? He is above 2 if you project that out to a full season and that doesn’t include the fact that it was his first year in the league. He easily could eclipse that this year while Drew is sitting on the DL.

    To be honest I don’t want either guy on the team for what they cost and what they add. I only want a starting pitcher if it is AJ or somebody like Ubaldo who I do believe can be really good.

  37. cmat0829 says:

    The Pirates, much like the Rays and the A’s and other like-payroll clubs, will win with pitching, defense, and timely hitting… Pedro doesn’t really fit the mold long term, and if the Pirates are going to pay a player the type of money Pedro will want, it MUST either be a complete player like Cutch (preferably through an extension to allow for below market years, like the Rays did with Longoria) OR a stud pitcher like Cole. Makes ZERO SENSE to pay market value for someone with the skills/profile of Pedro. Sorry, them’s just the facts.

  38. Nate83 says:

    I have always like Capuano as well. If would much rather have him over Volquez. I’m not sure how much they would be willing to spend on another 4 or 5 starter option with Volquez already signed. Unless they have little to zero confidence in Wandy pitching much this year. Otherwise I’m sure they are willing to roll the dice with Locke, Cumpton, Stolmy if the backend of the rotation fails.

  39. cmat0829 says:

    Peter Gammons pretty much serves up what a few GMS serve him at this point of his career, so no, I don’t take anything or everything I read as gospel. That said, I think it is very reasonable at this point to reason that :

    1) AJ will pitch in 2014.
    2) Like any other human being, he wants as much $ as he can get
    3) He will pitch in the ‘area’…read Baltimore, Philly, Pittsburgh, Washington, Cleveland.

    My gut says Pirates can have AJ IF THEY WANT HIM and IF they pay him $14M or so… and I think the Pirates have an idea of what it takes to sign AJ … my gut also says the Pirates CAN INDEED AFFORD to pay AJ’s asking price (though it may impair later season flexibility to add)… so if they don’t sign AJ, it is because they either don’t want him or (and I hope not) because their egos got in the way.

    All of this said, there are plenty of viable starting pitchers to be had…. so I don’t join the few here that portray a ‘sky is fallling’ view of our rotation… but these pitchers wouldn’t necessarily add ‘wins’ but they’d ensure our rotation pitched well enough for the PIrates to compete.

    And I like Capuano a lot… as well as Maholm… more to replace Wandy than AJ….

    Taillon is coming… so not a stretch to say the rotation come June is really Liriano/Cole/Morton/Taillon. A Maholm or Capuano makes a lot of sense as #5, as Volquez insurance.

  40. NMR says:

    Andrew, you know I’m obviously sabermetric. I find projections interesting and useful. But projections are only as good as their input values.

    Any projection that equates Jordy Mercer and Stephen Drew defensively simply cannot be trusted. You won’t find a single scout or coach who thinks they give you equivalent defense.

    The biggest difference Drew brings is unquestionably defense, which is plus. Combine that defense with a career 105 wRC+ / .344 wOBA against right hand pitching compared to 80 / .285 for Mercer and I think the choice becomes easy.

    And I completely agree on pitching (and Hammel!).

  41. NMR says:

    Because that isn’t how projections work, Nate. I tried to explain this before.

    Jordy Mercer’s value came solely against LHP last season. Just as Gaby Sanchez’s value came solely against LHP.

    Nobody is projecting Gaby’s WAR over 600 AB’s becuase those 600 AB’s aren’t coming against LHP.

    Same can be said for Jordy.

  42. NMR says:

    What am I ignoring, Nate?

    Two of those three years you mention were injury riddled and small samples. Didn’t the Red Sox prove how much value can be pulled form those years?

    I’m sure they really regret signing Drew last season.

  43. NMR says:

    I’m all for rotation depth, cmat, and actually think Volquez would be really good out of the pen.

    But if Jordy Mercer deserves a chance to show what he’s got, then Jeff Locke sure as hell does too. You stack the opening day roster with veteran free agent starters and Locke is never going to see Pittsurgh.

  44. Jim S. says:

    C’mon, NMR. Wouldn’t you at least start Jordy vs. LHP? He mashed them last year.

  45. Jim S. says:

    I thought Bronson will not cost a draft pick.

  46. cmat0829 says:

    yes, a new era in Pirates baseball is upon us. Making the tough decisions to get incremental improvements do indeed cause tradeoffs to be made…. on one hand, you can argue to stand pat at this point because Lambo deserves a shot at 1B, Mercer at everyday SS, and Volquez/Locke/Cumpton/Pimentel as starting pitcher. I can’t vociferously argue against that, as I do think you need to give young players room to grow….

    On the other hand, is this team as presently constructed, with the appropriate question marks, a true championship contender?

    I can really be had on a ‘wait and see’ approach… give Lambo/Mercer/Volquez and maybe Locke a shot through June, and if they take hold, then great…if they falter, then you make moves… and you’d have plenty of financial flexiblity to do so. Problem is we all know how few sellers there will be and how ridiculous the asking prices will be….

    IF I were GM, I would:

    1) Offer AJ $14M for 2014. Take it or leave it. If he leaves it, I can sleep at night.
    2) Have eyes open for a 1B option to become available…Smoak or Moreland is my preference. I say no to Ike Davis, would rather let Lambo have a shot.
    3) If Wandy health is even an open question, and I think it is, I sign Capuano or Maholm. That is, if AJ doesn’t sign.

  47. Jim S. says:

    Nate:

    Take a look at Ubaldo of 2011/12. Brutal. He wants a multi-year deal.

    AJ is the answer. Now he may be priced out.

  48. NMR says:

    No, because the Pirates have two other infielders that cannot hit lefties and play easier positions than shortstop.

    Jordy’s value is, was, and always has been expected to be with the bat. Nobody has ever had aspirations of him providing positive value with the glove. I simply don’t see any reason not to leave the better defender at shortstop if Mercer’s bat can still get on the field.

  49. cmat0829 says:

    Oh, one more point, it is ALWAYS easier to trade from surplus than it is to find what you need in-season at a reasonable price. i.e. much better to sign Capuano or Maholm now as Wandy insurance, even if it means Locke proves it all over again and bides time in AAA, than it is to try to trade for pitchers like this in June. Locke can become a nice trade asset, assets which may be needed for deadline pickups. As an All Star, and if he regains his form, he should be pretty decently valued.

  50. Jim S. says:

    I still say the only way Pedro signs an extension with the Bucs is if he fires his current agent. I don’t see him doing that.

  51. NMR says:

    Jordy is so much like Justin Wilson to me, Jim.

    Wilson was on his way to becoming a non-prospect in Altoona as a starting pitcher. Then the organization found a way to maximize his value by moving him to the bullpen.

    Jordy is no different. Maximize his value by utilizing him correctly.

  52. Jim S. says:

    I think one thing that is improving for Pedro is he hits the ball farther now than he used to, Andrew. If he can lift the ball more often, that’s where he could really take off. That, and (of course) going the opposite way. He hits too many GBs right to the first and second basemen.

    But, he also hit .180 with very little power vs. LHP last year. He’s not getting better in that regard.

  53. NMR says:

    Great post, cmat!! Man do I agree.

  54. NMR says:

    That is the double edged sword, cmat.

    Locke isn’t going to have much value until he shows he’s not actually the pitcher he was at the end of the year. I can’t see him as anything more than filler at the trade deadline if he’s been pitching in AAA all year.

  55. Steelkings says:

    Usually you guys disagree with me right away. But when I mentioned the real problem with Drew I got crickets. Im assuming thats as close as you get to agreeing with me when I said Barmes is Hurdles boy and is going to play..A LOT.

  56. Jim S. says:

    Drew hits well against the pitchers we will see approx. 80% of the time.

    Jordy hits well against the pitchers we will see approx. 20% of the time.

    The perfect offensive platoon, with average to slightly above average defense. Add their WARs together, and you get one of the best offensive SS in the NL.

    Unfortunately, this team already signed Barmes. They ended their search for a SS at that point.

  57. NMR says:

    You took your ball and went home for the night before seeing my response yesterday, Steelkings.

    “@Steelkings

    Did Hurdle play Barmes because he is his prodigal son, or because he can actually – you know – play shortstop?

    Seems like people are underestimating how much a good fielding SS means to this team, but I’m positive one of them isn’t Clint Hurdle. Stephen Drew can play a damn good shortstop, as anyone who watched the WS could see. No chance Hurdle starts Barmes over Drew.”

  58. Steelkings says:

    Nobody around these parts really knows what they like about Steven Drew. I think its because he reminds people of Jay Bell.

  59. NMR says:

    I think that is an absolutely awful way to run a team, Jim.

    I don’t see any reason to stick with a far worse player (Barmes) just because you signed him first.

  60. Steelkings says:

    If arroyo ever becomes a Pirate I will officially end my 35 consecutive years streak of not throwing up

  61. NMR says:

    Take a look at what the A’s, Ray’s, and Cardinals did this winter. None of them filled complete holes, they improved existing positions.

    That is what winning teams do.

  62. Steelkings says:

    Well, The Cubs are going to turn another ex pirate to gold. You watch and see. James McDonald is now a Cubbie. And not because of anything McDonald will do. Its because the Cubs have magical Mystery dust they sprinkle on ex Pirates that turn around there whole career

  63. Steelkings says:

    There Their They’re…I did it again! AAARRRGGGHHH!

  64. Steelkings says:

    JAY BELL!!!!

    Same guy

  65. Jim S. says:

    As long as he is playing one of the 3 infield positions when a LHP is opposing the Bucs. I’m fine with him subbing for Pedro or NW. Maybe Barmes could play some of those days.

  66. Andrew says:

    If Drew is Jay Bell sign me up for that late career power surge.

  67. Jim S. says:

    I don’t doubt that Hurdle likes Barmes a lot, Steel. Once the playoffs hit last year, Barmes was his main guy at SS. I think that said a lot. Then, they resigned him this year when a lot of people didn’t think they would. I think Clint definitely likes Clint.

  68. Andrew says:

    One year $17 million, there are no bad one year contracts.

  69. Jim S. says:

    Now, that is funny! I think Seinfeld boasted of a similar, though, not as long streak on one episode, Steel.

  70. Jim S. says:

    I don’t disagree with you, NMR. In fact, I think you made a good argument for Drew that made me rethink things more today. I would be ok with all 3, but I just don’t think the Bucs see it that way.

    If we had all 3, I would get Jordy in the lineup vs. every LHP. Generally, I think that would be to replace NW or PA, but maybe occasionally to replace Drew. Barmes could also start vs. the occasional LHP – although I would probably prioritize Barmes for Morton starts.

    Barmes hit LHP pretty well in 2012, but fell off a cliff vs. them last year. For his career (COL/HOU) induced, though it is, he has done ok:

    2012 – .274/.373/.368
    2013 – .185/.214/.315
    Career – .270/.329/.443

  71. Andrew says:

    Look I am on fence on Drew, part me says give him 3 years/36, million, factor in the draft pick, the cost is $42 million he needs to produce like 7 WAR over the contract. Hell, the Rays gave Pat the Bat Burrell 2/$16 million in 2009, got -1.0 WAR and DFAed in May 2010.

    NMR, I understand your complaint on projections but the inputs for Drew defensively are all over the place, and to complicate things DRS and UZR do not match up. I have seen good scouting reports but it is beyond my ability to reconcile the reports and the numbers.

    I kind of view Drew like Looney, the Pirates would be signing a player that a smart team saw as undervalued last year, and is thus no longer undervalued. Like Cmat says below I do not view it as likely, why give Barmes $2 million. The again the Pirates shipping away Inge and MacDonald was about $2 million total. I’m conflicted.

  72. Andrew says:

    Cmat, good couple of posts, to echo what you said due to payroll constraint the Pirates have to utilize cost controlled guys regardless of their warts, like being stuck behind Chase D’Arnaud as a SS prospect. Pirates will not have that luxury of signing free agents to fill holes.

    -Agree on Moreland, I can get behind a Justin Wilson trade for him.
    -I would even go higher on Burnett, there is no long term risk in that type of contract.

  73. Andrew says:

    I get what you are saying but an entire fan base considers Pete Kozma a hole and much worse.

  74. Foo says:

    SK….you mean like they did with John Grabow?

  75. Jim S. says:

    I would not give up a controllable LHP who throws 95+ and has a track record of success, like Wilson now does, for Moreland, Andrew. I think we can get Moreland for less than that, although it might require waiting another month or so. I’d take my chances with Lambo or explore someone else before giving up the 2nd best lefty reliever in the system for Moreland.

  76. Jim S. says:

    The Bell that hit for a .265/.343/.416 line? He had just under 2,000 hits. I’ll sign up for a dozen years of that guy.

  77. Jim S. says:

    I think we had all moved to a new $$ commitment level for Drew that is much lower than what you suggested, Andrew (3$/$36M). He’s not getting that amount from anyone now, I don’t think. Those of us that are advocating for them taking a run at Drew, are only saying so because we have been discussing more like 2/$17M or 3/$23M territory. At least, I know I am. No way do I think they should outlay 3 x $12M for him.

  78. Jeff King says:

    Hang in there JimBibbySweat. We’re still mourning the loss of our 17-year-old cat, ironically, a month ago today. It’s definitely rough.

  79. cmat0829 says:

    Technically JMac is a minor league Cubbie who will be at Spring Training. I wish the Cubs and JMac the best, sincerely, but there is no room on this team for JMac and that is a very good thing. Even if JMac wins 20 games this year there is no room on this team for him right now.

  80. Jim S. says:

    Maybe they can sign Jonathan Sanchez as well – if someone hasn’t scooped him up already.

  81. Andrew says:

    2/$17 million are you guys interns in the Pirates front office? I do not think you will get Drew at that rate, the two comparable free agent with the QO that come to mind are Michael Bourn who signed for 4/$48 million and LaRoche who rejected the QO, then resigned with the Nats for 2/$24 million. I think those are the bounds, Boston are apparently not high on Middlebrooks and could shift Bogartes to 3rd. I think you are going to need 3 year to spread out the loss of the draft pick and need to go higher than $24 million overall.

    But what do I know? I just do not see this happening, all of free agents that the Pirates brought, the front office identified targets and signed quickly, Barajas, Barmes, Martin, Liriano.

  82. LeeFoo says:

    This for you guys, if you haven’t seen it already.

    Perhaps the greatest HR call ever??

    http://www.wimp.com/runcall/

  83. LeeFoo says:

    I wish JMac well, but only until AFTER he gets waived out of the NL Central.

  84. Andrew says:

    I like Lambo and ultimately think the Pirates will stick with him. I am just looking at add a little more certainty to the team and if the Pirates do not want to spend they are going to have to give something up. Yes, Wilson has velocity out of the bullpen, but he has had control issues at every level and was moved to the pen in AAA in 2011 because of it. I like the cost control and that he can get RHHers out, but what else do the Pirates have as trade chips?

  85. Steelkings says:

    Aramis Ramirez ……Ken Lofton…Maholm…….

  86. Matt says:

    A) Never should signed Volquez
    B) The only way I sign AJ is for 8-9 mil/year.
    C) Drew is a waste of money PERIOD!
    D) Swing a deal with Boston for Carp, or Carp and one if their extra starters if no AJ
    E) Pirates and Pedro = Rays and Price, darned if you do darned if you don’t
    F) Justin Wilson was a pretty good starter in the minors, why not give him a shot at a possible 5th man

  87. I also wrote about the win curve this week. I specifically noted the spending other small market teams that are projected around the same win totals as the Pirates have been spending.

    http://hiddenvigorish.com/2014/01/win-curve-not-motivating-the-pirates/

  88. Nate83 says:

    That’s one of the problems, he is injured often. This isn’t the first time you equated Drew to a championship. That is just odd. I feel like that is like giving credit to Walker for getting us to the playoffs. Drew is not that high on the list of reasons the Red Sox won the World Series. In fact the list of players for the actual World Series begins with Ortiz and then you have to flip through a few blank pages before getting to somebody else.

    His career slash line is just not that impressive, he’s injured and the + defense you keep bringing up isn’t exactly supported by anything but your own perception and he isn’t getting any younger. I know he is above average but he isn’t elite and doesn’t hit well enough to make up the defensive difference between him and Mercer to warrent adding that much payroll.

  89. Jim S. says:

    Lieber, Gorzy also both had decent runs for Chicago, I think – especially Lieber.

  90. Jim S. says:

    I don’t disagree that they would need to give something decent up to get Moreland, Andrew. I just think that if the price is Wilson, I would pass for now. The price may come down in spring training if Moreland is not part of the Rangers’ plans this year. A RH reliever would be much more palatable to me than Wilson for that return.

    I have not heard a peep recently on Smoak, but I have to believe he might be available at some point. Jack Z is collecting guys who seem like 1b to me. I know he thinks Hart and Morrison can man RF, but I have my doubts.

    And, I’m thinking the Mets don’t want Ike on their team. I know they are supposedly asking too much right now. Maybe that will change soon.

  91. Jim S. says:

    Gammons can say 15 teams are interested in AJ. So what. There might even be 20. It is all about how many teams AJ would be interested in playing for, IMO. Writers always do this. They assume EVERY player in every situation would play for ANY team because MOST players would do that for more money. They don’t actually listen to what the guy has been saying.

    In the middle of last season AJ started talking about the importance of being near his family. Some people are interpreting that as playing in the same time zone as his family home. That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Just because Tampa or Cleveland are in the Eastern time zone, that automatically makes them attractive to him? Both of those places are a plane ride away or long car drive from his family. In that sense, they aren’t much closer than Chicago, Minnesota, Boston or even places farther away. I took him for his word when he said that about his family last season, because it was actually not in his best financial interest to limit his options that way. He was saying that the money was less important than family time. He was talking as a dad and father first, and I think now that he has his finances set for life those two things are most important to him. That doesn’t make them the only things that are important, but they are the most important things. I think his family would need to sign off on him being apart from them for a large chunk of time now, and my guess is he would only consider that one year at a time.

    I think the ideal situation for him is to be able to drive home after most of the games and see his family for at least 1/2 of the season. That leaves just Baltimore or Washington. I don’t think Washington needs him – especially for the price it would cost, which is approx. $15M or more now. That puts Baltimore in a good position, as I have been saying since last summer.

    The other thing he mentioned is that he loved the Pirates and the Pittsburgh fans, as did his wife. His career was resurrected in Pittsburgh. Last season did not end very well for AJ, with him being skipped over in Game 5 vs. St L. We know he didn’t react well to that. So, the question we all probably still have is, did that hurt the Pirates chances of resigning him for 2014? I think it had to have had some effect on a guy as competitive and passionate about pitching as AJ. But, maybe he has gotten over that by now. We don’t know.

    It is possible that AJ is truly opening this up to a bunch of teams, but I really don’t think so. He may only be saying that to drive up his offers. And, it is possible that he is now looking for multiple years, but I don’t think that is the case, either. I think AJ wants to win. I also believe he wants to be able to drive home after home games, or at least be close enough to drive home or have his family drive to him on a fairly regular basis. To me, it is Baltimore or Pittsburgh. It just comes down to whether he absolutely wants to be home every night the team is in town, or if Pittsburgh is close enough to satisfy his desire to be near his wife and kids. I also believe that Pittsburgh could be his #1 choice yet lose out to Baltimore if the Pirates offer is far below that of Baltimore. If there really are a bunch of teams that are going to make offers, I believe AJ could use that to his advantage to get the most possible money out of the O’s. Their fans are furious at the inactivity of their club this winter, and I believe that might motivate them to offer $15M or maybe more. I don’t see the Pirates getting above $10M at this point.

    I often guess wrong about these things, but I’d say there is a 65% chance AJ signs with Baltimore, 25% chance he signs with the Bucs, and 10% chance he signs with any other team.

  92. LeeFoo says:

    It is also possible that this is just innuendo started by a couple of writers.

    Has anything been confirmed? AJ retweeted a “sources/schmources” comment and “don’t believe it until you hear it from me” tweet.

    Because of that, I am not believing anything I read or hear.

    This tongue in cheek article on the ‘sources’ surrounding AJ was humorous.

    http://saberbucs.com/blog/2014/01/30/unnamed-unseen-unknown-source-reports-on-burnett/

    I may be in a very small minority on this, but I ain’t budging until……something factual comes out.

  93. tedwins says:

    I often, actually , agree with Foo, yes blog that says alot about my mindset :), but in this specific case I would imagine that (except for a few exceptions) most teams have “checked in” on AJ. Why not, not a draft pick compensation, probably no more than two years, and two years of serious pedigree at his age the past two seasons…. But with that said, I do think that Foo may be right that at this time its a lot of talk unless we see something significant and that could come shortly… End of the day, can’t imagine we will sign him but life goes on…. Best of luck AJ

  94. LeeFoo says:

    Ted…you are correct to agree with me…. :) :)

    Also, I agree that teams HAVE ‘checked in’. Why not?

  95. I don’t trust Capuano he often underperforms his FIP. The reason? He isn’t the same pitcher with men on base. http://hiddenvigorish.com/2013/12/the-anatomy-of-fip-underperformers/

  96. tedwins says:

    Yuppers, who wouldn’t check in with that guys pedigree, peculiar not too bro…. The ‘rags’ should probably say that all teams checked in, bet they did, even Boston with their perceived depth

  97. Jim S. says:

    Of course these teams would “check in.” That’s why I give no credence to Gammons saying 15 teams are interested. I don’t think AJ is interested in anywhere near 15 teams.

    Foo and Ted, are you saying you don’t believe he is even set on returning at this point? That’s an interesting angle, because AJ never confirmed or denied that report.

    Maybe he just wants to see how crazy the money might get.

  98. Foo says:

    Jim S…all I am saying is that we don’t know what AJ is doing. Nothing, other than a few unconfirmed sources, have stated otherwise.

    For all we know, he is sticking with his original plan of playing for the Pirates or retiring and now realizes he boxed himself in a financial corner with his “Pirates or home” statement, so he has his agent out spreading rumors to get his price up?

    I mean, that theory is as viable as all of the other ‘noise’ out there, right?

    So, until something factual comes out, I’m not getting too worked up.

  99. Foo says:

    Jim S….to somewhat prove my point?

    Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette brushed aside a report that his team was “all-in” on Burnett, saying that he was “not sure where that report came from.”

    .

  100. BostonsCommon says:

    Just a thought, but maybe they aren’t counting on 200 innings from Wandy? Maybe they’re thinking 80 from him, and another 120 from Taillon?

  101. Jim S. says:

    I read that comment from Duquette also, Foo. I agree that we have no idea what he might be doing. I was just speculating as to what I thought the situation was.

  102. LeeFoo says:

    Travis just tweeted:

    “Fwiw, PECOTA has AJ Burnett as having the sixth greatest WAR decline by starting pitchers in ’14. More on this in tomorrow’s Trib”

  103. Jim S. says:

    Yeah, I saw that.

  104. Jim S. says:

    They definitely need a back-up plan with Wandy, Bostons. They can hope for all the innings they want, but realistically I think they’d be thrilled with 120 quality innings.

  105. joel says:

    The pitching staff ay a glance : Cole- A-OK, A.J. Gone, Lireano- Hopefully A-OK, Wandy- Injury concerns, Morton- Concerns, Locke- Concerns, Volquez- I see hope in him. With the loss of A.J. the starting pitching is in shambles. With that being said, Justin Wilson is on the market instead of being converted back to a starter. The Pirates have no chips as trade bait except relief pitching. BTW who signed Jones ??? Does anyone really think that any GM is going to offer anything of value for Tabata????

  106. tedwins says:

    Hi Joel, You seem quite discouraged…. Hmmmm, where to start on responding :)… 1) Starting pitching is always a concern for all teams, sure we have question marks but we have depth in Cole, Liriano, Wandy, Morton, Locke, Volquez, Pimentral, Jeanamar, and the young kid coming up, Talisson (sp on him and others I’m sure?). Doesn’t look like a major concern to me imho, shambles seems to be quite hyperbole…. 2) Justin Wilson is in rumors but that is all it has been, just rumors 3) we have plenty of trade chips, like all good teams have, but it takes two to tango and has to make sense. Plenty of teams would like Tabata as he has value just like the 1st base options from other teams who are bandied around every day but our real trade pieces are prospects, but hard to part with them… 4) Jones is in Miami….

  107. Jim S. says:

    Joel:

    I’d like to have AJ back as well. But, we still have a lot of young pitching talent coming, and there are some pitching trade chips, if need be, throughout the organization. Taillon and Pimental should be able to help this year, and even Kingham has a chance to help by season’s end.

    I don’t think Wilson is being dangled in trade talks at all, but I’m sure plenty of teams are looking for a young, contollable LH reliever who throws 94-97, allows less than a .200 BAA, and can get both righties and lefties out. I believe that if Wilson is traded, the return will be pretty darn good because Huntington knows exactly what he has in that guy. I think they would trade a lot of RHP before they would consider trading Wilson or Watson. Two power LHP in the bullpen is a great thing to have.

    I don’t think Tabata is being offered in trade, either. I believe the Bucs think he may have matured quite a bit and turned the corner toward greater consistency at the end of last year. He’s not a key piece for the future once Polanco arrives, so he could be traded. But, I think he is the most likely 4th OF for the next few years. He generally hits RHP and LHP fairly equally, so he can start everyday in case of injury. And, he can be a nice compliment to Polanco for awhile if they decide to rest him vs. tough LHP.

  108. Jim S. says:

    Maybe, Andrew. But, Drew does not have a long list of suitors. So, apparently he is asking too much. The BoSox even may be moving on from him. Don’t you think his asking price is dropping?

    He could take a chance and wait until spring training, where someone might get injured causing a team to get desperate. But, he might also jump at the right 2 year deal. But, to your point, I don’t really think the Bucs will make a play for him. I think they feel SS is locked up.

  109. Steelkings says:

    ****Morton****

    I have no doubts in this guy what so ever. Last off season I was in Sarasota ( I owned a winter home there) twice. I was at Pirate city 1 day during each visit. One of those visits i was able to get a tour of the facility as there was presumably very few players or staff there. As we were walking through the hallway of the locker room in came a sweat drenched Charlie Morton. He greeted us and then went about his business. I asked what other players was down there. “No One”. This was the 2nd week of January and it was him and the training staff. She said he got down there sometime after Christmas and went to work. I went down again In February and stopped by the facility before playing the golf course next door. This was the day before the fantasy camp started. There again, was no one there except a sweat drenched Charlie Morton. He was running and long tossing with the trainer. I watched until they finished. Morton went inside and the trainer came over to get his bag. I asked if he was down here all winter to rehab and the trainer said yes and no. “Charlie works this hard during the off season every year. Hurt or not”

    Im not worried in the least about Charlie Morton

  110. Morton bought a place down there to be close to Jim Benedict when he was recovering from Tommy John Surgery. No surprise that he would be around a lot. He can question some stuff with Morton, but not his dedication. He wants to be a good pitcher and he puts in the work.

  111. Nate83 says:

    Thanks for sharing. Nice to hear that about a guy many always thought wasn’t competitive because of his on mound demeanor. Just goes to show you that you can’t judge a book by its cover.

  112. NMR says:

    Agree Andrew.

    The problem with having another competitive team as a trading partner is that they’re almost certainly going to want something of major league value back. Even as a bench player, Mitch Moreland has value to the Texas Rangers. It doesn’t make much sense at all to trade him to the Pirates for AAA depth or low level talent, given THEIR position on the win curve. The difficulty becomes matching up player value AND finding something the Rangers need.

    This is precisely why I Mike Carp won’t be traded to the Pirates. There just isn’t much the Sox need that would be fair value for Carp.

  113. NMR says:

    Jim, this is another reason why making the qualifying offer for the purposes of limiting AJ’s market didn’t make much sense.

    AJ’s market was already extrememly limited by his own preferences.

  114. John Lease says:

    There is still time, but history shows us that hoping for the best isn’t exactly the best option. It is, however, the least expensive, so it has that going for it.

  115. Jim S. says:

    I grew to like Charlie a great deal last year, after being frustrated by all his missed time previously. If he is the guy we saw in his last 10 or so starts, I can live with that. He does need to improve vs. lefty batters, though. I’m hoping that is coming this year. He was out for a long time, and I think his sharpness was just getting back close to normal when the season ended. Maybe Ground Chuck will take another step forward in 2014. The Pirates seem to think so because they put a lot of faith in him with the new contract.

  116. Jim S. says:

    +++, NMR.

 
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