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A Brandon McCarthy-Vance Worley switcheroo? … But do the Pirates need to make a trade?


PNC PARK – Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy has the worst luck in baseball. That makes him one of the best trade targets in baseball, and the Pirates are reportedly interested. McCarthy’s ERA  minus fielding independent pitching differential (xFIP) is among the greatest in the game. Yes, his ERA is unsightly at 5.11 but his xFIP (2.92) is seventh in baseball. Seventh! It ranks with some of the elite pitchers in the game.

He’s a free agent after the season and he’s owed just $4.5 million the rest of the way. Yes, he has a history of shoulder issues, but I spoke with one scout at the park tonight who just marveled at his fastball command, which is evident in his excellent walk rate. In short, if you need an arm, you should be interested. But do the Pirates need an arm?

On one hand, you can argue you can never have too much pitching depth.

On the other hand, the Pirates are going to have too many starting pitchers when Francisco Liriano comes off the DL , which could be shortly after the all-star break. This scribe’s best guess is that Jeff Locke will be the odd man out since the Pirates are most concerned about protecting assets and he has options remaining.

So on that other hand you ask ‘Do the Pirates even need to make a trade?’

(Let’s rule out David Price who is going to be way too expensive in prospects and dollars to make any sense)

What is not disputable is that every team should always be looking to upgrade its roster, so that leads me to this: what about a McCarthy-for-Vance Worley deal, either directly or indirectly? (Ideally indirectly where you pick up a superior asset for Worley and flip a lesser for McCarthy)

Look, Worley is a great guy who has had a compelling story.  The Pirates have done a great job with him. But the 1.74 ERA is not sustainable. He has three years of control left and he was acquired for cash considerations. This would be an excellent time to sell high whether for a rent-a-player – McCarthy or maybe even A.J. Burnett, an idea ESPN Radio host David Todd floated – or for  a prospect chip.

While Worley’s ERA is likely to climb, McCarthy’s is likely to sink and he’s affordable. McCarthy is an excellent bet to be a second half bargain.

There might be an opportunity for the Pirates to add an under-valued arm, sell high and trade from depth, all the while improving its 25-man roster It’s probably unlikely tonight’s starting pitchers, Worley and McCarthy, trade clubhouses after the game but it make some sense.

It’s a simple game, really, buy low and sell high.

– TS



  1. Donald says:

    Why in the world would they trade Worley for McCarthy?? You lose McCarthy after the season. He isn’t an upgrade over Locke OR Worley at the moment. And you have Vance Worley dirt cheap for a few more years if he keeps pitching well.

  2. HebnerRuled says:

    I agree with Donald. Travis, I just think this is a bad idea. But that’s ok, I have lots of ideas and not all of them are good either… now if you want to trade Liriano for McCarthy, I’d do that one in a heartbeat.

  3. Travis Sawchik says:

    Haha. I have much worse ideas …. Frieri is testing my belief in xFIP

  4. Andrew says:

    I would like McCarthy if there was another year of control, the HR/FB ratio should come down but so should the strikeouts, but then again maybe not because the shoulder issues.

    McCarthy is hard to judge/project because he is a tinkerer, he has thrown different fastballs and his curve usages rises and falls depending up what type of fastball, he seems to have abandoned his change-up. McCarthy’s upside seems similar to Locke’s and Worely’s, I think if the Pirates are giving up assets for a starter it should be someone with multiple years of control.

  5. Andrew says:

    This doesn’t include tonight, but this is Fieri’s issue. That type of fastball location will lead to liners all over the park.

  6. Kid18 says:

    This is a moronic notion. That the Diamondbacks would even consider trading McCarthy for Worley, who (despite his contract) has pitched only a handful of games this year in MLB, is laughable.

    I honestly don’t know if 1) You’re trying to “drum up” some type or fabricated interest in Worley; 2) You have no idea how trade values work; or 3) You’re just that desparate for what you consider readership.

    Please think before you write.

  7. dennis g. says:

    If you want trade Worley for McCarthy I think we need more information on what you expect to happen with Locke and Liriano. Locke has been pitching great. I can picture him going to Indy when Liriano returns but I cannot picture him going happily if you make a trade which will force him to Indy. This might be a guy you are asking to take a hometown discount in a few years. Why look for disharmony in a guy who if not over the hill is almost surely in decline. Watching the Pirates hit against him makes me think he is lucky, not unlucky.

  8. LeeFoo says:

    I’m fine with what DK suggested….do nothing.

  9. Pig Legs Robinson says:

    I could see the Phillies and their fans wanting to make the Worley for Burnett deal. I can’t see any reason why it would be good for the Pirates though.
    Even if Worley’s ERA goes up into the 3’s or 4’s, it still wouldn’t make Worley a bad asset. When Worley was healthy with the Phillies, he was a dependable member of their rotation at all times. I’m sure they would love to have him back.

  10. T.S. says:

    Easy tiger.

  11. jay says:

    And just how do trade values get properly evaluated…for instance Worley,though only having pitched minimally so far this year , except for injury induced regression, does have MLB level success, as well as future team control…how do you evaluate that…was going to add a snide comment here but hate it when others do that.

  12. Bill maloni says:

    Why does anyone think Liriano will be “last year’s Liriano” when he returns?

    He didn’t’ start the season injured and pitched like crap. Is 15 days on the DL suddenly going to liven up his arm and give him location?

    Don’t be quick to send (currently) successful pitching away until this guy finally proves himself in 2014,say with two quality starts in a row.

  13. Kid18 says:

    Here is there problem with your comment and Travis’s line of thinking:

    You both, along with many posting here, are assuming that Worley – through 4 MLB starts this year (repeat: 4 MLB starts) has completely re-established himself in his 2011 form.

    Yes, the results so far have been encouraging, but there is a long way to go before any GM in his right mind would call him a “trade chip” – especially one that would net Brandon McCarthy – after Worley’s unbelievably small sample size this year (and three years removed from his “MLB level success” that you referred to.

    Remember that Worley was acquired this year for cash – and that’s all. Just cash.

    And now all of sudden after 4 starts at the MLB level this year he would be the centerpiece of a deal that would net one of Arizona’s better SP for a team trying to make a playoff push?

    C’mon, use some logic here.

  14. Jimmy says:

    If I were GM Huntington I keep Worley and the trade I’m looking for is Pedro Alvarez out of PIttsburgh! I’m sick of the swing and misses not to mention rally ending double play balls or the throwing of baseballs into the stands. I would consider a Alvarez Morton Barmes trade to AZ for Prado and McCarthy and look for another bench type player to replace Barmes who hits worse than my 10 yr old

  15. James says:

    I would like to see the Pirates shop Vance Worley or Nick Kingham for a starting catcher in the offseason. Most likely, the Pirates will not be willing to sign Russell Martin to a three year contract. Also, it wouldn’t hurt for the Pirates to get younger at catcher.

  16. Mike says:

    Maybe the most hittable pitcher in the NL. Leave him where he is!!

  17. Bruce Watf says:

    IF Fl comes off the DL and is back, then would anyone like to see Coles 95 MPH fastball in the 9th? Might sound crazy now, but if you think about it..might not. Works for the Reds. Then again I may just need more coffee.

  18. Chuck Tanner says:

    I really like the idea of moving Worley for A.J.Burnett. I think Burnett would be agreeable to being traded to the Pirates or the Orioles. McCarthy was just traded to the Yankees.

  19. NorthPirateFan says:

    Don’t dislike the idea of getting McCarthy, but why trade Worley for him? Worley is five years younger, has really only had one bad year in a relatively short career and sure we know he isn’t going to keep pitching at a his current 2.28 ERA .94 WHIP rate, but still seems a better candidate to post a sub four ERA than does McCarthy at this point. If anyone ought to be the odd man out when Liriano comes off the DL, maybe it should be Liriano himself who hasn’t pitched horribly but hasn’t really pitched all that well either. Better yet, until Cole shows he’s going to be healthy enough for the long haul maybe adding MCCathy’s arm as insurance is a the route to go instead of swapping pitchers.

  20. Andrew says:

    I usually ignore incendiary comments but I really don’t like it be insinuated that I’m moronic.

    Haha, the Yankees just traded for McCarthy and the Diamondbacks received Vidal Nuno and paid $2 million of McCarthy’s salary. Maybe you don’t understand trade values.

  21. NorthPirateFan says:

    Oh well, that was fun while it lasted.

  22. Creighton Rabs says:

    I completely agree. Although, I think there might be too much pressure on the Pirates depending on what the other rivals in the division do, especially St. Louis.

  23. :o Joseph Lucas says:

    You are brain dead Travis. Our pitching depth is fine and Worley is a keeper. We still have two massive holes at first and third base that are killing us nightly. Lose Alvarez while we can still get back 25% of what we have wasted on him

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