SOUTH HILLS – One of the questions posed to the distinguished and charismatic panel on WXPI’s Final Word last night — yes I was involved — was the following: should the Pirates trade Pedro Alvarez?
It wasn’t a surprising question given the frustrating, up-and-down nature of Alvarez’s game and that we’re charged with attempting to create interesting television.
The question is made more timely now that many think Alvarez might have a legit replacement in Josh Harrison. (Though it’s still too early to evaluate whether Harrison is an everyday player, imo). So is it time to explore trading Alvarez?
Not just yet.
Don’t rush to discard Pedro
For starters, when is it ever wise to sell low on players? Alvarez is not exactly swinging a hot bat or making particularly accurate throws. And remember he did tie for the NL lead in home runs last season.
Secondly, Alvarez has shown real improvement this year cutting his strikeouts, upping his walks and better using the whole field. (I know I’ve beaten that observation to near death). A true breakout is possible if and when the power arrives. Or maybe Alvarez has traded in power — .398 slugging — to adopt this approach. Still, think back to late last season and early this season and Alvarez has shown glimpses of what is possible. The Pirates don’t want to give up that too early.
Lastly, when you have an NL MVP and Gregory Polanco and Gerrit Cole - when you have a special core – you want to be careful you’re not trading away critical lineup cogs during that window. So don’t rush to discard Pedro.
Still, it’s complicated.
I think there could very well come a point in time to trade Alvarez whether it’s this offseason or the 2016 trading deadline. I don’t think he’s a long-term fit here. I’d be shocked if the Pirates were willing to make a long-term commitment given the dollars it would take and his agent, Scott Boras, is going to be in search of the best deal. The Pirates have two more years of control over Alvarez. Keep in mind the qualifying offer might not exist and draft compensation for free agents could look much different after the next CBA negotiation. The current CBA expires on Dec. 1 2016. So to get compensation the Pirates might have to make a deal or risking having the former No. 2 overall pick walk for nothing.
In summary, it’s not time to trade Alvarez, not right now. His value is down, he is still a guy that led the NL with 36 home runs last year. That begin said, there could come a time to when a trade opportunity presents itself mostly because I think we can all agree Alvarez is unlikely to be a long-term fit for the Pirates.
STARTING NINE THOUGHTS
9. Harrison started against left-hander Travis Wood on Saturday. I have to think that’s part of his new job duties going forward. Alvarez might soon be relegated to platoon-player status, which is what his career splits suggest he is. We can only make talk about one NLDS at bat against Siegrist for so long.
Let’s remember there’s nothing wrong with Harrison being a super utility player. Ben Zobrist has made an excellent career of that, the A’s are the best team in baseball in part because of lineup flexibility and depth.
(Speaking of Zobrist, he would be a great fit at SS for the Pirates. He’s on an affordable contract if the Rays look to dump him).
8. Who departs to make room for Neil Walker once Walker comes off the DL? If Jose Tabata didn’t have amount $9 guaranteed left on his contract it would be an easy choice.
7. I don’t think the Pirates are ready DFA Grilli. Yes, he’s not the same guy but he still has the arm speed. I think the Pirates want to see him work far away from leverage situations for a while and see what happens.
6. Vanimal: 52-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio between Triple-A and two major league starts this season. Yeah, it’s early yet but he could be a steal of the offseason. Three years of club control remaining for the 26-year-old.
5. If Hurdle must have a closer, Tony Watson should be the guy. Dominant stuff. No real splits.
4. Tyler Glasnow hasn’t allowed a run over his last four starts covering 21 2/3 innings at High-Bradenton. He’s struck out 30 in that time.
3. Just when you think Charlie Morton is back on track …..
The good news is Morton’s GB/FB ratio has improved every month from 2.06 in April , 2.41 in May to 3.3 in June.
2. I was asked if Nick Kingham has any chance of impacting the second half. I don’t think it’s likely but he’s taken to Triple-A. He’s definitely a future mid-rotation piece arriving in the not too distant future. (I’ll say mid-June, 2015).
1. Cardinals dealt a blow with Michael Wacha and Garcia placed on the DL on Sunday, opportunity to close the gap?
STAT OF THE WEEK: .128
What every happened to Ike Davis‘ power?
.240 isolated power in 2011, .235 isolated power in 2012, .129 isolated power in 2013 and .128 isolated power in 2014
HE SAID IT
“I don’t think Joey would want to sign it for me, but that would be pretty cool. Aside from that, it’s going to go up with the rest of the memorable moments in my career.” – Travis Snider
MODEST PROPOSAL OF THE WEEK
The home-plate collision rule turned out some absurd rulings. It needs some serious tweaking. Let’s remember the rule was designed to eliminated “egregious” collision plays …not overturn no-contact force-out plays. Let’s give the umpires the discretion to determine the intent of a runner or catcher and make better judgments in the spirit of the rule. (Either that or give the catcher a goalie-style crease in front of homeplate … I’m half serious).
Looking for some killer breakfast? Pamela’s Diner off Washington Rd on the Mt. Lebanon/Dormont border.