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Wakeup Call: There’s Nutting like winning

Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

>> My column this morning challenges Bob Nutting to step up for the Pirates right now. And, as with much of the work I plan to do in this new role, I took it directly to him. I’m never going to feel comfortable doing this without direct knowledge, without hearing from the parties I’m writing about.

I feel like I’ve gotten to know Nutting pretty well these past few years, and longtime readers know I’ve described both his pluses and minuses. It’s been an unusual relationship. I don’t get the sense that he’s terribly comfortable with criticism, but I’ve also gotten the indication that he’s felt that my criticisms have been fair and based on a real attempt to get things right.

And what I’ve learned in those attempts, digging both on the inside and the outside of the organization, is this: While Nutting has his faults as an owner — chief among them being undercapitalized and not nearly as aggressive as he can be at times (see the column for more) — he is nothing at all like the B-movie villain that’s become commonly accepted in Pittsburgh. And I mean absolutely nothing at all like that.

If my voice sounds like a lonely one on this topic — and I’m sure it is — so be it. I’ll match the amount of interaction I’ve had with Nutting, with people close to him, with people who don’t like him, you name it … I’ll match it against that of anyone. I’ve put a lot of energy into it.

I might well be wrong about Nutting, but I don’t think so.

Maybe others will see him differently, too, if the Pirates keep winning and if, as I stress in the column, Nutting does his part.

>> If you check out the column, by all means, click on that video up there. I interviewed Nutting out by third base on Wednesday with the help of our video guy Justin Labar, and I’m glad Justin caught that laugh from Nutting when he said he feels “great” about the winning. Pretty telling moment, I thought.

>> Who would you rather see the Pirates get, Derrek Lee or Carlos Pena?

Before you get into small-sample 2011 comparisons, as I’ve heard some already doing, I’d advise that you factor in history, one being right-handed and the other left-handed, defense, what you’d have to give up … the whole deal.

Comments

  1. Mark says:

    I have a question, do the Bucs follow through with a trade(s), and will there be a stunner (in terms of who is acquired, like someone we may not be expecting)?

  2. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    @Mark: I’d be really surprised if they didn’t do something significant, at least in their context of significant. They’re not having all these talks just to figure out if they can DFA Chris Leroux. They sound determined to add a bat.

  3. Mark says:

    Thanks for the response. Would you be willing to throw out a name(s) they may be willing to take a look into, besides the guys we’ve heard (Pena, Beltran, Cuddyer,ect.) Not that I would be upset if they got any of these guys.

  4. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    @Mark: I’ve never done that. When there’s real information, I’m happy to spend all day talking about it. There’s no such thing right now.

  5. I’ll take Carlos Peña, who is two years younger and has a (slightly) better WAR over the past two seasons, which is a pretty good sample size. But both would be fine upgrades over the Bucs’ current situation at first.

    Very good column, Dejan.

  6. Mark says:

    Thank you sir! I appreciate it! If I may, I would like to throw out 2 names I would love to see the Pirates add, Matt Kemp from the Dodgers, and JJ Hardy from Baltimore. That would significantly upgrade 2 positions.

  7. SteveG says:

    DK,
    Really great article!

    Now, I have two questions that are unrelated but I’ve been wanting to ask.

    1) The Pirates used to allow fans to walk through the stadium on days when they aren’t playing. I walk past the stadium every day, and I haven’t seen the gates open for that walk through once that I can recall this year. Do you know the reason for the change?

    2) Have you ever expressed your justified loathing of the Pirates charities sign (what an eyesore) to any of the buccos management folks (Nutting in particular)? And if so, what was their reaction? And if not, why? Someone just HAS to or that thing will be up there forever.

  8. Sean says:

    Is Mr. Nutting the type of owner that will cave-in to all the talk from many Pirate fans about mortgaging our future by trading one of our minor league pitchers for a quick fix, or is he the type that will not make hasty decisions based on the fans?

  9. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    I like Cuddyer but frankly I think the Twins are going to remain in that division race so he might not be available.

    Lee is past his prime.

    Pena is intriguing because of his power. He’s only hitting about .225 but then again Overbay is only hitting .236. Pena has a lot more power potential. I’m not quite sure how Pena rates defensively compared with Overbay.

    I do think there is a good chance at a surprise. NH is just that way. There are a lot of obvious names floating around from fans, bloggers, sports writers, etc, but he’ll cook up something different.

  10. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    NL Central standings

    with three games left before the All-Star Break

    Milwaukee 47-42 .528 -
    St. Louis 47-42 .528 -
    Pittsburgh 45-42 .517 1
    Cincinnati 44-45 .494 3
    Chi Cubs 36-53 .404 11
    Houston 30-59 .337 17

  11. Adam says:

    Was nutting counting his stack of money from the first half of the season when you walked up to interview him? Also I thought vampires walking around in daytime was only in movies

  12. Mark says:

    Dejan, I love your work man, I respect ya immensly, but I have to thoroughly disagree with what you said a moment ago about being intrigued by Derek Lee. I’ll be honest, he could come into a better situation and light the world on fire, but I just don’t see it, and quite frankly we already have one Overbay. If this was the Derek Lee of 6 years ago, absolutely yes, but not this version.

    If you are going to acquire someone, at least in my opinion, I would want someone who is as close to an automatic significant upgrade power wise as you will find. I just don’t like “taking flyers” on guys and hoping to find lightning in a bottle.

  13. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    @SteveG:

    1. You’re talking about the upper riverwalk. That’s open in the offseason or during long road trips. Hard to do that when games are going on. But yes, it’s still done.

    2. Yes, I have. Brought it up again Wednesday with the owner. I generally am not taken seriously on the subject, maybe because they think I’m offended by the concept of Pirates Charities, which would be nuts. It’s nothing more than how awful the sign is from the Downtown side.

  14. Robert says:

    DK

    I am with you about Nutting because I have always felt he deserved his chance like NH and FC as part of the management team. So far, they have made good on their promise to start at the bottom and build to the top (it’s worked for Tampa, Minnesota, Florida in the past).

    As far as acquiring a bat; Pena isn’t the answer. His splits are similar to G.Jones and he’s older and more expensive.

    Cuddyer has only really had two exceptional seasons and his certainly not the “power bat” everyone is wanting; especially when you consider the monster left-to-center in PNC park for a RH hitter. Jason Kubel would be a better fit for the ball park and lineup, if you only talk about Twins.

    Derek Lee is a waste of time; too old, too slow, Overbay’s run production is better.

    I, personally, wouldn’t mind Mark Reynolds (if they could get him) who I’ve heard as a possible target on ESPN insider. He hits a ton of HR(s) and has a career OPS of nearly .900 against LH pitching. He and Jones platooning at first base would be a giant jump in production.

    A healthy lineup would be Presley, Tabata, McCutchen, Reynolds/Jones, Walker, Alvarez, Doumit/Snyder, Cedeno/Wood, pitcher.

    By the way, Brandon Wood (since an 0-13 stretch May 24-30) is hitting a HR/17.25 AB, .260 avg, 10 RBI, 10 Runs in 69 AB. If he continues reaching toward his potential then he would also be an internal “power” solution.

  15. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    @Mark: I respect that.

    @Robert: Really good information. I’d be a little leery of Reynolds with a lineup that already strikeouts out a ton.

  16. Matty_Ice7 says:

    Dejan great column. He does sincere but how many pieces does this team in order to be playing meaningful baseball in September. I am a half-empty glass kind of guy on this team. I think the whole infield minus Walker is ready to make the push for October. I don’t know what to expect from Pedro when he comes back. The outfield is pretty strong and chases down a lot of balls most teams miss. Then the pitching staff has been unreal but can they put a long string of wins together to secure a playoff spot is the big question.
    I think thing that is going to hurt the Pirates is there are a lot of teams who are right where the Pirates are. So a lot of teams will be staying put. But the teams selling will ask for a king’s ransom that this club isn’t and shouldn’t be doing.
    How much payroll flexibility do you see Neal getting from Nutting? I just hope we don’t trade some of the low level players in class A that we paid overslot in the draft in recent years. To me that is giving up on something you saw in these kids to have one shot at playing in October instead of several years in the near future.

  17. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    @James: Welcome. About time you popped in here.

  18. IdahoBucsFan says:

    Hi DK-

    Great article…

    I kind of like the idea of Derek Lee coming in. That would hopefully provide some pop from the right side and if PA can come back and have anything similar to the second half he had last year that would be a nice mix from both sides of the plate. I think for a team competing especially in the NL Central, Mr. Lee might find some of his old magic!

    On another note, did you have the opportunity to ask either Nutting or anyone else in the front office the status of either of the top two draftees? I know we are talking about Scott Boras with both of these guys and probably nothing happens until close to midnight 8/15… I am just curious.

  19. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    @ID: Never asked about the draft. The deadline is five weeks away. We’ll still be talking about it when it’s five hours away, based on precedent.

  20. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    @Matty: The Pirates will get the money for the player they want. What I wonder is whether the management team can handle that type of approach. It’s all new for them.

  21. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    Reynolds is primarily a third baseman. He’s played 225 games at third the past two years and only six at first base.

  22. DanFlick says:

    DK

    Great stuff as always man. No one’s material I like reading better in PGH sports media than you.

    Nutting’s laugh, as you pointed out, really raised an eyebrow. No one really knows much about the man’s personality, and I guess the reason for that is obvious.

    I’m curious… since you have been covering the team, how often does Nutting actually attend the games? Is he at PNC frequently?

  23. Mark says:

    Dejan, I’m gonna throw a name out, and I’m gonna get laughed at, but what about Jason Bay? The Mets would surely love to shed some of his salary I would think, and with him playing so down, they may not need much to pry him away. Kind of a low risk/high reward thing if the Mets took on some of his salary.

  24. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    @Dan: He’s at PNC all the time, and he’s been on at least two road trips this season. Saw him myself in San Diego in April.

    @Mark: That contract runs a really long way. Plus, outfield isn’t where you want to go.

  25. Mark says:

    So in all reality, unless you can acquire an upgrade at shortstop (JJ Hardy), or catcher (who knows), or a high level player blocked at AAA (Jesus Montero from the Yankees, or Yonder Alonzo from Cincinnatti anyone), your basically saying first base is the option. Now it is just who is out there, what is Adam Dunn’s contract with the White Sox like?

  26. Robert says:

    @DavedigsDKsBlog

    Mark Reynolds playing primarily third base is not really an issue when needing a bat because he has played first base. Most everyone I’ve seen here want Pedro Alvarez moved to first base and he’s never played there (to my knowledge).

  27. Cajun Thunder says:

    Frankly, when it comes down to Derrek Lee or Carlos Pena, I don’t want either one of them. Both are on the down side of their careers, have had weak 2010-11 seasons. If I was told I HAD to take one of the two, I’d take Lee. If Pena doesn’t hit a HR, he’s pretty much invisible. This is not the time for a 2 month rental, if it’s going to mortgage the future.

    Pena might garner a supplemental pick as a Type B if not resigned…Lee is not currently rated high enough for a compensation pick. Assuming, of course, there are compensation picks in the next CBA. If you are going to do a rental, at least go for a Type A potential free agent to get something back if you can’t resign him. The more likely move is to find a team with a prospect blocked at 1B.

  28. Robert says:

    @Mark

    Adam Dunn is a waste, $12 Million for hitting .166 and can’t field a beach ball with bushel basket. The team needs an upgrade in RH hitting anyway.

  29. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    Pedro may switch to first base but not until the offseason. He won’t play anywhere else this season.

    If they’re going to trade for Reynolds he’ll have to be able to play first base a lot more than he has recently. Whether he can do it I’m not sure. He does have legit power.

  30. DavedigsDKsBlog says:

    I still wouldn’t mind if they traded for Chris Davis from the Rangers. He’s another lefty but has a lot of power potential and is only 25. He could end up being part of the future plan.

  31. Link Mendoza says:

    Solid article. I like how you handled a subject that could be very inflammatory.

  32. Reading says:

    Since Toronto is 11 games out, maybe Lind and his 16 HRs, .302 BA, and 51 RBIs (relying on so-called traditional metrics) this season could be pryed away.

  33. Ace McTasty says:

    Dejan,

    Perhaps almost as important, will they be willing to make trades as sellers if they stumble after the break? I suspect the current level of success probably isn’t sustainable. If they’re say, 5 games or more out of first as the deadline approaches, will they be willing to move a Maholm or a Hanrahan without fear of extreme public backlash?

  34. Sec.143RowMSeat24 says:

    By going with the two guys you mentioned in Derrick Lee and Carlos Pena knowing we need a bat, it would have to be Pena. Derrick Lee’s offensive numbers, except for having 1 more HR than Overbay, are worse across the board than Overbay’s. Maybe a change of scenery could change that, but I doubt it. Going off this year’s stats alone, they would actually be downgrading going from Overbay to Lee.

  35. JAL says:

    Some Fly me to the Moon Morning Links

    —Pirates Prospects

    Trade Values 101: How the Market Affects Price

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2011/07/trade-values-101-how-the-market-affects-price.html

    Baseball America’s Mid-Season Top 50

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/2011/07/baseball-americas-mid-season-top-50.html

  36. JAL says:

    Bleacher report

    Pittsburgh Pirates: Milwaukee Stands Between Them and Central Division Tittle

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/752407-mostly-milwaukee-stands-between-the-pittsburgh-and-the-central-division-tittle

    Pittsburgh Pirates: Are They the New Tampa Bay Rays?

    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/760910-pittsburgh-pirates-are-they-the-new-tampa-bay-rays

  37. MrB says:

    Dejan – Nice column and video…thanks for that.

    I have two distinct questions for you. First, when attempting to evaluate Bob Nutting have you spent much time investigating how the man runs his other business holdings such as Seven Springs, etc? If so, have you learned any common business traits of his that might give a clue as to how he will handle the Pirates?

    Secondly, does Clint Hurdle have greater influence on this front office than past managers? It sure seems that way to me right from his interview and I couldn’t be happier about it.

  38. Bill says:

    Dejan
    Great column, as usual. I think a lot of the anti-front office group blames Nutting for all 18 years, dating back even before his family was a minority owner. As I understand it, the Nuttings did not assume majority control until 2003 and did not start making decisions until 2007. Is that accurate? Other than oversight on the Board of Directors, where they involved in the decisions (budget, players etc) prior to 2007? My thought is that if a new owner bought the team in 2007 and did every thing exactly the same as this FO did, the owner would be a hero.

  39. AJS says:

    Why are the Bucs focused on getting a right handed bat? Cutch is a righty, Walker and Doumit switch hit. I suppose those two ar eboth better from the left side, but I would think that if you are the Bucs, and you are going to spend some serious cash on a power bat, you would want a lefty to take full advantage of the right field porch. Left field is so vast it takes a heck of a poke to get it out of there. Of course if you get a guy who hits the gaps that equals a lot of doubles, but they still need someone to put up the long ball.

  40. Drew71 says:

    Some follow-up to the night owls…

    - Fascinating picture of the evil recluse. Did he charge you for the interview? Kidding. Just KIDDING. I did enjoy it because, well, frankly, there’s no one else in Pittsburgh who has tried to get to know the guy and then write about him based on knowledge. So congrats to you, and useful information to us.

    - I would expect Rene Gayo to say something like Nutting saved the Pirates. From Gayo’s perspective, meaning Central-South America, Nutting did. Dragging Littlefield by the nose to see the old “academy”, a crumbling embarrassment, firing Littlefield who I sensed was an obstacle to Gayo, to building the Dominican Academy, to quadrupling (or more) the international signing budget. Maybe Gayo is giving a bit too much credit to Nutting but honestly, can you blame him?

    - Great point by Dejan in an earlier post re: whether this management team CAN spend the money. Not whether they are allowed to, but do they know how? This is NEW to them. And while the current management team has performed much better over the past year, year-plus than their first two years, remember how “well” they performed – on trades in particular – when that process was also new to them. Consider me to have nervous anticipation. Yes, anticipation. I hope they try. But yes, nervous. Nervous.

    - Derrek Lee was always one of my favorite non-Pirate players. Great all around player with talent and guts. From 2002 through 2008, he was one of the game’s most effective players. Lee always seemed to give his all. And that’s the trouble. Putting himself out there through years of mounting injuries, it seems Lee HAS given his all. And to his credit, with nothing left. So as with Mark, I pass. Respectfully; appreciatively; almost reverentially. But I still pass.

  41. Curt says:

    Was part of Red Sox Nation last night with my father in law and watched the Sox-O’s game. Fenway Park is just an incredible baseball venue.
    Watching Derrek Lee in person, he looks old to me, doesn’t look like he has much to offer offensively, however the glove is still there. If they could land Hardy with Lee than that’s a different story. Hardy is flat out raking right now!
    Now Pena to me would be the better option. The power is still there and we know he’ll strike out plenty, but think of the bombs he will hit over the Clemente Wall?!?

  42. Fat Jimmy says:

    The real question I want answered from Nutting is this: why does he leave so many buttons undone at the top of his shirt?

  43. SterlingCooperDraperPrice says:

    As for Pena v. Lee…

    Pena
    .225/.340/.467 19HRs 330PA 1.3 WAR

    Lee
    .229/.289./.346 7HRs 291PA -.1 WAR

    At first glance most people would assume Lee is a no brainer, but…

    Lee plays in a tougher division, therefore he has faced better competition To counter that, Lee has actually played half his games at Wrigley, a tougher hitter’s park than Camden…http://espn.go.com/mlb/stats/parkfactor

    Theoretically, it would cost a lot more to get Pena than Lee, but the production would be greater with Lee. So where does that leave us….

  44. SterlingCooperDraperPrice says:

    I obviously meant Pena has played half his games at Wrigley, not Lee

  45. Fat Jimmy says:

    I know that fans generally nod their head when they hear the words “won’t mortgage the future”. Me? I actually disagree with that sentiment.

    We’re 1 game out in July. This is unprecedented. Who knows when we will have this opportunity again. If the right guy is available, I think (almost) no expense should be spared to acquire him.

    In my mind, there are only three players in the system that I would declare untouchable: Taillon, Allie, Sanchez and Heredia. Everyone else is available for the right guy.

    I know people will disagree with me on this, but you’re kinding yourself if you think the Pirates can acquire a difference-maker in the next three weeks for minor league scrubs. I know DK mentioned Marte in his column, but Marte is EXACTLY the type of guy that I think could and should be dealt. The Pirates have young options in OF, so there isn’t an immediate need for him. He’s got potential, but he doesn’t carry the superstar potential of a Taillon.

    For those that disagree with me, which of the Pirates’ prospects would you be willing to deal?

    http://www.bucsdugout.com/2011/5/26/2190068/top-30-prospects-may-2011-jameson-taillon

  46. Fat Jimmy says:

    And I added Sanchez late to my “untouchables” list …. so there’s actually four. Sorry for the error.

  47. LuckyNKentucky says:

    Just finished DK’s column and it was excellent, as usual, but I still can’t grasp if we’d even be having any of these conversations about Nutting, Neal, a division championship or anything remoteley close if it weren’t for Ray Searage and what he’s done with the pitching staff. I think his salary ought to be quadrupled or better. Keep him a Pirate for life.

  48. Thundercrack says:

    1) “They’re not having all these talks just to figure out if they can DFA Chris Leroux. They sound determined to add a bat.” Remember you said that DK, if they don’t acquire a bat. They’re trying. That doesn’t exactly mean it will work out.

    2) In your article I understand your point about the owner and the Sano dealings. But I am not exactly sure I agree with it 100%. Not to rehash everything about that deal, but there seems like plenty of blame to go around. And kudos to the Twins for getting it done. I don’t know if this is your feeling, but I don’t want an owner who shouts from behind his desk “get me Sano, no matter what the cost!!”

    3) Fat Jimmy, I noticed the same thing about the buttons…and I notice it every time I see him. I’m not sure which is more weird: the buttons undone —-or that we notice (and are bothered by) it.

  49. Great column, and I really enjoyed the video. I hope he can put his money where his mouth is. I still think missing out on Sano was one of the greatest setbacks of this regime so far… that changes the entire farm system to have a guy like that (just think if we had Sano and Marte in the wings,instead of just Marte… changes a lot of perspective). To think we lost out for a relatively small amount of money is silly when there was really no reason not to go all out. We’re not getting the likes of Pujols, so the international market is where the Pirates can go crazy.
    I’m not thrilled at adding Lee or Pena – that’s taking a lot of risk that they’ll hit for better average and have consistent power the rest of the year. Lee hasn’t done that in years, Pena is very hit or miss. Josh Willingham might make sense, although he hasn’t been great lately. That goes to show what being a Pirates fan is like- we have no idea what it’s like to be buyers, and we assume we’ll have to take on somebody else’s failure. Dunn? Really?
    Sounds strange, but what if Steve Pearce can provide some help? I think we forget about him. The Pirates still need some outside help, but Pearce might provide more immediate help than Alvarez, who will need time to get going (not suggesting you bench Pedro).

  50. Thundercrack says:

    Marte is an untouchable for me. If we do have depth of OF prospects, he is the best one. I do not trade him.

  51. JMB says:

    http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2011/07/08/shocker-the-angels-call-up-mike-trout

    Mike Trout called up. Drafted 20+ spots after Sanchez in ’09.

  52. JMB says:

    Pena has been my guy since last off-season. I was awfully lonely in my endorsement at the time, so it is nice to see the bandwagon get some joiners now that the dude has almost 20 bombs and is playing circles around Overbay.

    He is still the guy. For $10m, he was a no-brainer in November, and now he is exactly what we need.

  53. Drew71 says:

    easier to stuff money down your shirt when it is unbuttoned.

    and those eye shades turn green when he’s counting.

  54. JMB says:

    Marte is totally trade-able, but only in the acquisition of Kemp or Pence, so he probably will not be traded.

  55. Thundercrack says:

    Isn’t Mike Trout the #1 Prospect in all of baseball?

    Well, if he is called up he might not be considered a prospect.

    ———————————————————
    nice one Drew.

  56. Fat Jimmy says:

    Haha, TC. Yeah, I wish that I wasn’t obsessed with Bob Nutting’s chest hair, but I am.

  57. Drew71 says:

    In general terms, yes, Marte shouldn’t be considered as nearly untradeable as, for instance, Taillon. But only if traded for REAL VALUE.

    Real Value does NOT mean a half-season rental of a fading star.

    I’m NOT saying they can’t do one of those half-season rentals. A few of those may be available at the cost of a secondary prospect as long as the acquiring team takes the full amount of the remaining salary. But not, please Neal, for a better than secondary prospect such as Marte.

  58. sms says:

    personally I’d like to see them add a bat for a little longer term than just to make a run this year & disappear. too much pressure would be on them to repeat the feat agian next year less the bat whomever that may be.

  59. @Thundercrack

    Agreed. Same with Allie, Taillon, Heredia and Sanchez. I don’t think there’s an available bat out there worth any of those guys, anyway. Key word: Available. For one of our AAA starters? Yeah, that would be tough to swallow, but understandable and that’s the going rate. It’ll be interesting to see the reaction after a trade (if one happens). Most fans don’t keep up on minor league depth, so they won’t care too much about that end- they’ll only care about the name coming our way. And hardcore fans will fret that maybe we gave away too much, and then analyze the incoming guy to the point we’re convinced Overbay isn’t too bad.

    Which is to say, how great is it the Pirates are even in the discussion to be buyers?

  60. Thundercrack says:

    The part of the equation that will be interesting at the deadline is where we are at in the standings…but also where are the Cards, Brewers and Reds. Determining how realistic of a chance the Pirates have of overtaking those teams.

    That is going to be a tough call by the FO. If you don’t think you can overtake them, then no way a top prospect goes. But you have to balance that with the temptation to “go for it”

  61. JMB says:

    Ken Rosenthal

    http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/atlanta-braves-will-need-cash-to-make-deadline-deals-070711

    Page down to “Around the Horn” and he talks about Karstens & acquiring freakin’ Johnny Damon? PASS!!

  62. JMB says:

    also from the Rosenthal article:

    “Another example of how prospects often are overvalued: A year ago at this time, Blue Jays righty Kyle Drabek and lefty Brett Cecil were all but untouchable.

    Now? ”

    (See Article)

  63. Naje says:

    @ DK — great piece… thanks for the video. You’ve got as much, if not the most, cache among the local writers with this front office, not to mention knowledge of the game. Your perspective on all of them has been consistent, too.

    It just seems like there is no really good option out there for a 1B or a power bat… very odd, and wondering how much PED’s or lack thereof has effected the over-35 players.

    My question: has the team ever had a meeting/gathering of minds like this in years past? I’m sure they’ve had something like it, but the publicity of the meeting and the discussions/comments coming from it seem to be a new era in PR with this team. And it seems like Hurdle is the catalyst for it all; part bluster, part experience, part “I’ll be the point-man for the PR stuff so you guys and you players can focus on your job (like Parcells did when he coached)”.

    Finally… since PNC opened, how do you rate Hurdle’s performance as manager of the team compared to the rest of the managers in that time?

  64. leefoo says:

    Anyone who wants Mark Reynolds has never seen him field a ball. He makes Josh H look gold glovish.

    K Foo

  65. Naje says:

    Foo — he’s got, what, 17 errors already this season? As for Johnny Damon, if he could play first, I’d take him in a heartbeat.

    Just a thought… I know power at the corner IF spots is important, but what if Tabata could pull a Gary Redus and play a little 1B at some point down the line…(and I’m thinking two+ years down the line)?

  66. BenderHeel says:

    @JMB: No way in Hades should the PBC be looking into acquiring Johnny Damon – or any other OF, really, unless it’s a really, really good one. Just a lot of moves would have to be made to make it fit.

    But first base – oh, that’s a simple one. Derrek Lee would be cheaper (compared to Pena) in terms of what the PBC would have to give up, he’s a righty (so could play along with G. Jones if need be at 1B), and he’s always had pop in the recent past in the National League. Yes, he hasn’t played great this year, but I wouldn’t minimize the effect of his move from the NL (after all those years) to the AL this year. Plus, he’s familiar with the NL Central teams from his years with the Cubs, so he would make, in my opinion, a very nice fit with the Buccos.

    Look, I’d like to add Carlos Pena – or Hunter Pence or the other wet-dream names being bandied about – but Pena would cost a lot more in terms of what the Pirates would need to give up. Is he really that good, and would his addition mean that much, to make it worthwhile to mortgage the future to get him?

  67. aglebagel says:

    @Fat Jimmy

    Unfortunately “man cleavage” is a real trend right now. Come up to NYC some time and you’ll see. It’s not pretty.

  68. Thundercrack says:

    I’m not too excited about Pena or Lee. But I think I would choose Pena.
    I think he could hit some home runs for us and play a great first base.

    Everything I’ve ever read about the guy mentions how great he is in the clubhouse (not that Lee isn’t). I think that aspect couldn’t hurt us. Plus he’s going to be a free agent, so maybe it could be a tryout for him for next year. (not at $8 million though)

  69. Curt says:

    Does either Lee or Pena have an option for 2012? Just curious. And how about the “it feels great” comment with the hearty laugh? Basic translation:
    I found a way to make more profit without spending more money.

  70. SterlingCooperDraperPrice says:

    @Benderheel

    Check out piratesprospects.com on trade value…if you could get Pena for taking on salary, Nathan Baker and Tyler Waldron, is that overpaying?

    @Everybody that thinks we are deep with CFers,

    No we’re not. Marte is our top CF prospect. If Cutch goes down with an injury in the next couple of years Marte is your best long-term option.

    Also please keep in mind that PNC park really needs two CF-type outfielders because of the space they need to cover. That’s why Tabata and Cutch have worked so well. It’s also why Cutch’s defensive numbers are skewed a little against him.

    What other legit options do we have for the mlb outfield? Please don’t tell me anybody in A ball, that’s just a joke. When a prospect starts to succeed at AA, then I’ll pay attention, like most scouts. We have Cutch, Tabata, Presley, Marte and Hernandez as young outfielders. If you want to give one away, you’re selling the positions short.

    However, if you want to trade a CF prospect, Hernandez is the guy you should be trading. Good defense, good speed and contact hitter with no pop. Find somebody that needs a table setter and leadoff guy.

  71. Naje says:

    @ Curt – translation: It feels great. Period. Something he hasn’t been able to say in a long time. Give me a break.

    What it might really say is: “our formula is working…”

  72. Drew71 says:

    Pena – no, just a $10MM one year contract. Meaning the acquiring team would have a prorated share of that, now a bit less than $5MM.

    With Pena’s still-good D, think of him of having the kind of D that Overbay was SUPPOSED to have, a good clubhouse guy like Overbay, can’t hit for average just like Overbay and has real power that has always eluded Overbay.

    As Arribaderci put it last week, he’s Overbay of 2005-2008, but with 30-35 HRs.

  73. Curt says:

    One last trade option:
    We send: One .38 Special concert series, Oliver Onion, Gorkys and Tim Alderson for Hunter Pence. How could you possibly pass this trade up if your the Astros?
    Its a no brainer!

  74. Curt says:

    @Naje. I know what you’re saying. I was making a joke, but it does look like a jab via typing it out. We have to believe his intentions are true and he will spend the money to contend, because he’s what we have for an owner. His success will hopefully bring our Pirates into contention year after year!

  75. absolute59 says:

    @FJ: I agree with your untouchables other than Sanchez.

    He is 23 and is struggling to hit in AA with a .242 and worse is his .319 slugging percentage.

    Defense has not been the draft day reported “Major League ready” with his his 2010 caught stealing percentage of 15% this years 23%.

    I trust to say that if he was not a No. 1 pick he would not be your list of untouchables. And where he was drafted should not impact whether to trade him.

  76. Justin says:

    For me, Pena over Lee in a heartbeat. Pena’s OPS really sets himself apart from Overbay and Lee.

    I could be wrong, but isn’t Pena still playing a good defensive first base too?

    i know DK said to ignore small 2011 sample sizes, but I feel like that’s a little more necessary with the ages of the players involved. Lee has probably had the best career, but i feel like pena has more in the tank. then again i’ve only actually watched a few games played by these guys. and i’m no scout.

    The price for Pena would also be higher. If it’s too high, i have no problem with the buccos making due with Overbay Jones and Pearce (assuming Pena and Lee were the only alternatives). I feel like i’ve read that Overbay had a slow 1st half and a decent 2nd half last year, at least OPS-wise. Let’s hope for that. At this point in their careers, and to my untrained eye, Lee isn’t much of an upgrade over Overbay anyway.

  77. Naje says:

    @ Curt — gotcha on the joking part… After years of reading the venom, bile and hatred directed at Nutting and the front office from the over-the-top, over-emotional, ill-informed fans, I cringe when I read those types of posts. It’s the easy way out… and it’s so indicative of the western PA mentality: blame the owner, blame the boss, blame, blame, blame… it’s a stone-headed union mentality that’s been bred into the dna and fabric of the area: hate the boss, the owner, whomever. Having grown up in Johnstown, it’s all that I knew and once I got out of the area, it was, to me, that type of negativity and consistency of that mentality that was the glaring weakness of the region.

    As BenderHeel mentioned above, Lee’s experience in the NL and the NL Central could really help this team… think of it as “added value” if the PBC can get him. Pena’s got to be the most intriguing addition out there, but what do the Cubs need and, more importantly, what can the Bucs send them that will fulfill that need?

    The good thing about Pena is that it’s just a one year deal…that the Bucs can take that contract off the Cubs’ hands, send them a couple of players (Matt Hague, perhaps, as one of them?), and then the Cubs (or anyone else) can go after Pena in the off season.

  78. ExileInDC says:

    I’m really horrified at the names being batted around, like Lee, Reynolds, Dunn, and Pena. They are failed signings on teams that are going nowhere. I honestly can’t believe any of them would be considered an “upgrade” over Lyle Overbay, who at least came cheaper than any of that trio. C’mon, I would bring back Daryle Ward before any of those guys.

    Cajun Thunder also had a good point about compensation: If they were to be lost again to free agency in the off-season (and I hope they would), would any of them even net us the Type-A compensation sandwich picks that the Rays and others have been so smart about in recent seasons?

    Second, I don’t mean to overvalue our prospects, but I really don’t think we know what we have yet with a lot of the guys in the system. I would be wary of prematurely parting with the wrong prospect, a la Nate Adcock.

    So I’m a little risk-averse, kind of like to see how this team plays out, especially when the injured return. We may be happy next year that we did.

  79. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    @All: A note here to newcomers: Your very first post here might take some time to go up. After that, it’s automatic. Moderating the very first post helps keep the spam out.

  80. Drew71 says:

    But somehow it still lets me in.

    Need to work on that.

  81. Manny Sanguine says:

    Really enjoyed this article, DK and also appreciate being able to access this board for free.

    I understand why people have taken their frustrations out on Nutting but my attitude has always been to wait and see if he spends when it really matters – and yes that is now but only if it makes baseball sense. If we’re facing a glut of rule 5 eligibles that we might lose anyway then absolutely let’s make some decisions and get something for them that helps this year or preferably beyond. Glad to hear he wants to preserve the highest potential core prospects as that’s the only way this is sustainable long term.

    I was a bit disappointed with the guys laugh, though. He must have another more sinister laugh he uses when he’s twirling his moustache and tying young damsels to T tracks.

  82. Sammich says:

    The Pirates are facing a roster crunch in the offseason with alot of prospects who will need to be added to the 40-man roster or lost via Rule 5. So it would not really cost them as much as it might seem if they traded one or two of them this summer.

    And by the way, according to these projections (http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2011/07/elias-rankings-update.html)
    Carlos Pena would bring a sandwich pick in the next draft. Lee would not.

  83. Keith says:

    I think whichever of the two is less of a jackass is already on the shopping list. Got any insight into this, DK?

  84. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    @Manny: Good to have you here.

    I just pictured the man using all Acme materials for that skit.

  85. Drew71 says:

    That was Wile E Coyote who used Acme

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acme_Corporation

    We’re all about journalistic accuracy here.

    Especially about the important stuff.

  86. Drew71 says:

    Speaking of important stuff, not a bad idea, as noted above by Manny, to first try to use some of the prospects at risk in the Rule 5 draft to grab a bat.

  87. ExileInDC says:

    @ Manny Sanguine: Reminds me of how Pie Traynor used to pronounce Sanguillen. If you never saw this clip of Traynor reviewing “this Pirate squad from ’69,” you will love this. He loves that young 3rd baseman, “Hefner.”

  88. BenderHeel says:

    @Sammich: Good find on Pena possibly bringing a “sandwich” pick. But that also increases his value and the Cubs’ demand.

    @SterlingCooper: I quickly read the piratesprospects.com post about trade value and potentially getting Pena for taking on salary, Nathan Baker and Tyler Waldron. No, that wouldn’t seem to be overpaying – if that’s an accurate count of what it would take. Would Baker and Waldron be enough in the Cubs’ eyes though? I wouldn’t have a problem trading two middling prospects, but considering my perceived value of them, I just wonder why the Cubs would accept that offer.

  89. Comet Littlefield says:

    If we are bringing in Lee, Reynolds, Dunn or Pena, I hope it’s Lacy, RJ, Mike or Tony.

    I’m sorry, after reading Exile’s post in that order, I couldn’t believe that it basically listed a spate of 80′s Pirates….

    I’m just way too clever for my own good.

  90. Drew71 says:

    when my mother would say that (way too clever), it was NOT meant in a positive way

  91. Fat Jimmy says:

    Absolute, the only reason why I included Sanchez is because they are in a serious catching crunch next year. Both Synder and Doumit have options that need picked up, and — in the case of Doumit — it’s a two-year option. While I like Doumit, I would have a hard time spending the money it would take to retain him, if it was my cash.

    And I agree with everyone else on the trade options — I have absolutely no use for Lee or Pena.

    Does anyone know what is wrong with Rafael Furcal? He’s a guy I’ve always liked. He had a great season last year and a solid stint with the Dodgers. He’s been terrible this year and has a big contract. But the Dodgers would ostensibly be willing to give him away if you take the contract, I have to think. And we could eat his contract without much problem.

  92. ExileInDC says:

    Comet, I would be willing to give up Jones for any of those guys.

    Odell Jones, that is.

  93. Comet Littlefield says:

    @ Drew71 – there is nothing positive about my cleverness

    @ Exile – maybe we still CAN trade for Kemp…..Steve Kemp!

  94. Keith says:

    Okay, I’m going to start a rant about all the bunting. I see that Hurdle likes to bunt, and I see that most folks would like him to rein that in. So I started thinking (dangerous, I know):

    There’s a runner on first. No Pirates are hitting .300 (except Presley), so Clint knows the next guy, McCutchen or McKenry, has over a 70% chance of being out. With a bunt, that same guy has at least a 5% chance of being safe (we forget). In either case, the idea is to get a guy in scoring position, because the team hits mostly singles (right?). So, with a bunt, there’s a 75% chance or higher of the lead runner being safe and there only being one out (unless it’s OverDPbay).

    I’m thinking bunting is a good idea, mostly. It’s certainly borne out that it works for the Bucs. They’re winning. Perhaps Cedeno should not have a green light to bunt (!), but otherwise, with a team like this, I think Hurdle is pretty much right.

    Any arguments?

  95. PokeyReese says:

    I just can’t help but think what Pena’s numbers would look like with OBP machines like Tabata, Presley, and McCutchen ahead of him in the order. It is exactly what this team needs!

  96. SouthSideBucsFan says:

    One thing I think we should keep in mind when discussing potential trades is that for many teams, the guys they acquire at the deadline don’t make much of an impact. Sure, they might be able to push a team into the playoffs, but the history of big-name deadline-deal guys leading teams to WS titles is pretty limited, I think.

    Take our Nady/Marte trade with the Yanks. What did they give up? One potential future star in AA (Tabata) and three AAA pitchers, if I remember correctly, who projected to be decent MLB contributors. (I know Ohlendorf/Karstens/possibly McCutchen had had at least cups of coffee with the Yankees, but it hadn’t been extensive.)

    And what did the Yanks get in return? A guy who posted a 5.40 ERA down the stretch and an outfielder who batted .268, albeit with some pop. And the Yanks finished third in the East, and both players were gone fairly soon afterward. Meanwhile, all four players they gave up have gone on to become pretty decent contributors for the Bucs.

    My point is that many teams are able to survive making deadline deals like that, even if they don’t make the playoffs. The Pirates don’t quite have that luxury yet, as while their system is deep in pitching, most of it is in the lower levels. And while we have many guys who could project to be solid outfielders (Presley, Gorkys, etc.), the only one I’d classify as having “star” potential is Marte. So when I think about not mortgaging the future, what immediately comes to mind is the Yankees trade in ’08. They can afford to make four-for-two trades, even if they don’t work. We can’t.

  97. PokeyReese says:

    Good article about why the Bucs should be agressive!

    http://insider.espn.go.com/mlb/insider/news/story?id=6748787

  98. SouthSideBucsFan says:

    Re: Getting a sandwich pick for Pena

    Admittedly I’m not as well-versed on all the little nuances of free agency, mostly because we’ve usually traded away our free agents-to-be … but don’t we have to offer arbitration in order to be eligible for a sandwich pick? Then don’t you run into the risk of a guy who tanks the second half of the season accepting the arbitration and putting us on the hook for a contract? If someone could clarify this for me, I’d be grateful.

  99. buckeyehba says:

    I don’t want to trade for a player like Dunn, Lee, or Pena. We need to trade talent for talent on a younger level. Solid prospect for solid prospect type of approach. Most people say no to Lincoln or Owens going, but we have replacements following behind that we need space to allow for development. What about Chris Resop (I like him), etc. Evan Meek….he has to get healthy first, but yes.

    Hanrahan? You don’t have enough to offer me to get him.

  100. JMB says:

    Ethier is going to AS game; Cutch screwed again!

  101. JAL says:

    JMB

    It was pretty automatic–Victorino was the player voted in from the last 5 vote. Ethier was 2nd in that vote.

  102. pattonbb says:

    Lots of rumors out there that Beltran might be a Giant in a couple weeks. I’m sure that had absolutely nothing to do with Bochy’s decision to name him instead of Cutch….right?

  103. BenderHeel says:

    @pattonbb: That idea was suggested at the time too – that Bochy would have time to cozy pu with Beltran and, in effect, lobby Beltran to waive his no-trade clause (IIRC).

  104. FormerSoxFan says:

    SouthSide . .

    Yeah, you’re right. In Pena’s case, arbitration would likely result in a raise from this year, and I don’t see him turning down $11-12M or so. So being a Type B free agent probably won’t matter much in Pena’s case.

  105. AJS says:

    @Keith

    My only argument is that you should take McKenry off of the people who should bunt list. All that does is lead to two wasted strikes, an out, and no one moving over. Which leads to situations like the one with Maholm the other night where if McKenry gets teh bunt down, Matt Diaz is going to bat, but since McKenry failed Maholm came up to sacrifice thus saving a bat for later in the game if needed, even theough maholm’s night on the mound was still over(someone asked about that move when it happened, there is the explanation)

    I have seen henry fail at bunting too many times, and frankly, he doesn’t look anywhere close to comfortable trying. They’d be better off giving him 3 actual swings of the bat and trying for the single.

  106. Cajun Thunder says:

    @ Fat Jimmy

    What’s wrong with Furcal?? He’s got about as many frequent flier miles on the disabled list as Ryan Doumit does.

  107. Manny Sanguine says:

    @Exile

    That’s a great classic clip with Pie – thanks for posting it – never seen it before. I always assumed Hugh Hefner had great hands but I never thought he could play third base.

 
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