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July 31, 2014
by Travis Sawchik


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All’s quiet at the deadline. And the interesting thing that did happen.

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SOUTH HILLS – So much for that non-waiver trade deadline being too early, eh? In one of the most eventful and deadline days in recent memory, the Pirates were conspicuously quiet among the contenders.

Neal Huntington spoke with the media at 4:30 p.m. Thursday and said a lot of things you’d expect a GM to say that did not make a trade:

“We were engaged on a ton of fronts… We wanted to added to add to this club, we like this club…We stretched beyond comfort level… At end of the day we weren’t able to push any across line.” …

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July 30, 2014
by Travis Sawchik


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Could Lester be to the Pirates what Sabathia was to 2008 Brewers?

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SOUTH HILLS – With the Jon Lester trade rumors buzzing I asked a MLB talent evaluator this morning what a sensible price for Lester would be for the Pirates. His answer?

Josh Bell

Nick Kingham

and

Jacoby Jones

He said that would be “very reasonable.” Would it? For two months of Lester, in a vacuum, it is an awful lot. Too much. But we’re not operating in a vacuum. We’re operating in a seller’s market, which will be the new normal with the second wild cards, unless the trade deadline is pushed back. We’re talking about an ace (see price for Jeff Samardzija). We’re not operating in a vacuum because a piece like Lester could tilt the balance toward the Pirates in a very winnable NL Central. And in case you’re not aware, the Pirates haven’t often been in contention entering August very often.

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July 30, 2014
by Travis Sawchik


42 comments so far - add yours!

At what price does Jon Lester make sense for the Pirates?

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SOUTH HILLS – The Pirates have emerged as a dark horse to land Red Sox ace Jon Lesteraccording to Yahoo!

The Red Sox are still asking a king’s ransom for what amounts to a two-month rental of Lester, who is a free agent after the season and would like to remain with the Red Sox. The Trib’s Rob Biertempfel reported Tuesday the Pirates have reached out to the Red Sox regarding Lester and that the Red Sox are seeking two top 10 prospects for Lester. Josh Bell is believed to be at the center of talks and the Red Sox might also be demanding Tyler Glasnow be included.

Lester is the type of player who could tip the balance in a closely-contested NL Central race. But at what cost is he worth acquiring?

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July 28, 2014
by Travis Sawchik


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Monday Mop-Up Duty: what the Pirates should target before the deadline

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DENVER –  History suggests that Neal Huntington will make a trade prior to  Thursday’s non-waiver trade deadline, or prior to the Aug. 31 deadline.

In 2011, he picked up Derrek Lee and Ryan Ludwick before the deadline.

In 2012, he acquired Travis Snider and Gaby Sanchez before the deadline.

Last season, he netted Justin Morneau and Marlon Byrd before the Aug. 31 deadline.

Now, some of those moves worked better than others, but the point is each year the Pirates were competitive at the deadline, and Huntington attempted to bolster the roster. Will he again? (Yes, a severe seller’s market complicates continuing this trend).  If he does, this year’s acquisition might look very different.

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July 26, 2014
by Travis Sawchik


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Sitting on a surplus

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DENVER – The trade deadline is just five days away and at this point, hearing about the degree to which this is a seller’s market, the Pirates seem to be far from getting anything done.  And I can’t blame them, as the cost of acquiring pitching appears to be incredibly high given the trades of Jeff Samardzija and Houston Street that have set the market.

Ken Rosenthal reports the Pirates had “two high-level scouts” watching David Price and Jon Lester pitch Friday. Price could be a second-half difference maker — for the cost of your entire farm system,

Jon Heyman reports the Pirates have “mild” interest in our old friend A.J. Burnett but Burnett’s 2015 player option of $12.8 million is likely a deal-breaker. The Pirates have been connected to Ian Kennedy and a bunch of bullpen arms. (Brandon McCarthy is starting to look like a bargain in this market, eh?) We’ll see what transpires over the next 12 hours or so. What we do know is the Pirates are in an interesting position of power.

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July 23, 2014
by Travis Sawchik


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Selig touts leveling the playing field … but for all the wrong reasons

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SOUTH HILLS - Bud Selig made a trip to Pittsburgh on Tuesday, as he makes something of a farewell tour through the game.

For me, he leaves something of a mixed legacy. Yes, he oversaw tremendous revenue growth. (Though how much of that is simply tied to the advent of new media and market factors beyond any one person’s control? My guess: a lot). Yes, the sport’s attendance has grown since Selg’s tenure began in 1992. (But how much of that is tied to dozens of cities using billions of public dollars to finance new baseball palaces?). Yes, there’s been only one work stoppage under his watch. But of course that one work stoppage wiped out the first World Series in 90 years and produced marginal changes. There’s still no salary cap. There’s still a huge revenue disparity in the game. Selig also oversaw one of the sport’s most damaging and prolonged scandals: the steroid era.

As you might suspect when he spoke to media in Pittsburgh, Selig touted the Pirates’ 2013 success as “a manifestation” of economic achievements under his watch.

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July 21, 2014
by Travis Sawchik


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Monday Mop-Up Duty: A seller’s market, and if you build it in Pittsburgh …

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PNC PARK – Cliff Notes from Neal Huntington’s media briefing on Sunday: it’s a seller’s market and the Pirates aren’t willing to trade too much of the future for today.

Moreover, Huntington doesn’t feel the Pirates have to do anything. Unlike a year ago, Huntington doesn’t feel there are glaring needs.

Some were lamenting on Twitter and elsewhere that this is too often the Pirates’ mindset, others suggested that the future is now. While Pirates are in contention, and the future has arrived to some extent, but I think Huntington’s position is a sound one.

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July 18, 2014
by Travis Sawchik


31 comments so far - add yours!

Second-half predictions

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SOUTH HILLS – Greetings, folks. I’m back after an All-Star Break respite and recharged for the second half.  To begin? Let’s make some predictions.

There were some accurate pre-season predictions made in this e-space like  Neil Walker being in line for a break-out offensive season , Jason Grilli and Francisco Liriano being regression candidates, and Gregory Polanco being ready to arrive as an impact player in June. There were some not so great predictions like Pedro Alvarez becoming 2013  Chris Davis.

So with more information at our disposal, I’ll take a stab at what I think we’ll see transpire in the season’s second half. …

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July 14, 2014
by Travis Sawchik


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Monday Mop-Up Duty: A Pirate for Life?

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CINCINNATI – Andrew McCutchen is looking very much like a back-to-back MVP isn’t he? How he rose to the occasion not once, but twice, on Saturday night in Cincinnati was remarkable even for such a great player. You can make the argument he’s not only the most talented player in the National League but the best value.

On Sunday we examined where McCutchen’s surplus value ranks among starting All-Stars. McCutchen ranked first among NL All-Stars and third among all All-Stars, trailing only Mike Trout and Josh Donaldson. (Surplus value is a player’s actual wages subtracted from the actual value he produces).

He’s a rare talent with one of the most club-friendly deals in the sport. I think you can make the argument that it’s the best value contract in the history of Pittsburgh professional sports.

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July 11, 2014
by Travis Sawchik


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Babe Ruth’s 100th anniversary, a baseball LeBron?, and the banged up NL Central

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CINCINNATI – You might have heard LeBron James made his Decision 2.0 today, and it’s a big deal because it’s difficult to comprehend just how dominant an athlete he is.

He accounted for 2.3 percent of all basketball Wins Above Replacement last season. He’s a 21-WAR player in basketball and Jeff Sullivan has a fun read on what kind of equivalent that would be in baseball. Since, baseball plays twice as many games  as the NBA you have to imagine a 42-win baseball player … and of course there has never  been anything close to such a baseball player.

The top WAR season of all time according to Baseball Reference was Tim Keefe’s 20.0-WAR season in 1883. We all remember that campaign, right? The best post-1900 season is Walter Johnson’s 16-win year in 1925.

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