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):
New York 78-84
St. Louis 90-72
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)
San Fran. 85-77
San Diego 83-79
Wild card race:
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.
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.