Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Trade for McGee and 25 man roster

The Pirates have traded for 3B Casey McGee from the Brewers for Jose Veras. I think that this is a great trade because McGee has power and can hit .280. Last year his thumb injury hurt his stats. It gives us real insurance against another Pedro failure. It gives us an option to platoon Jones at 1B. I like this a lot because I think Veras was over used last year and is due for a flame out this year. If not then it is a pretty fair deal for both teams. We have replacements for Veras since Meek is back, and we need the power hitting. The Brewers just signed Amaris Rameriz, so they don't need McGee.

This means your opening day roster will probably look like this.

OF - Tabata
OF - Presley
OF - McCuthen
3B - Alvarez
SS - Barmes
2B - Walker
1B - Jones (platoon)
C - Barajas
UI - Nunez
UI - Navarro
1B, 3B - McGee
C - McKenry
OF - McClouth

SP - Erik Bedard
SP - Kevin Correia
SP - Jeff Karstens
SP - James McDonald
SP - Brad Lincoln
SP - Charlie Morton (starts out on DL for about a month)
RP - Daniel McCutchen
RP - Tony Watson
RP - Evan Meek
RP - Joel Hanrahan
RP - Jason Grilli
RP - Chris Resop
RP - OPEN SPOT (my guess Moskos)
The last one is an open spot because it is unclear who they are going to put here, and they may even still sign a lefty for the bullpen. Chris Leroux could go here, but they have shown signs of putting him back as a starter, which means he would need to start out in the minors to stretch his arm. Hurdle has spoken of his desire to have 2 lefties in the pen which means that Daniel Moskos should have the inside track, but Justin Wilson is an option as well. Wilson might benefit from coming out of the pen for a while at the AAA level since he was a starter last year until the September call up. Bryan Morris has an outside shot at this spot as well since he was made full time bullpen last year.

That is a pretty good team with a AAA infield of Harrison, D'Arnaud, Mercer, and Hague. I like it. Gorkys is ready in the outfield and hopefully Lambo will have a bounce back year. Jeff Locke, and Rudy Owens are potentials for the rotation before the year is out.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Winter Meetings 2011

The Winter Meetings were great this year for the Pirates. The Pirates were really the only team that got better. Maybe you could say the Cubs got better with the signing of DeJesus to play RF. But that is pretty minor for what happened with the Pirates and what the Cubs needed.

First off the Cards were ruined. Pujols went to the Angels. So, that is a large chunk of offense gone and makes a declining Matt Holiday even more vulnerable. The Brewers were taken to the cleaners by K-Rod who accepted their arbitration offer. This will cripple them financially. They did not resign Prince Fielder, nor did they sign one of their other bullpen guys. The Reds basically stood pat. And the Astros did little because they are still under several bad contracts. They have some trade interest for some pitching, but they have not pulled the trigger yet, which should make them worse for this year, and then they will be gone. The Cubs signed DeJesus, but they also traded Tyler Colvin and LeMahieu for Ian Stewart. Stewart will replace Aramis Ramieriz at 3rd, but this is not a great upgrade. They were active, but did they get much better, probably not.

Second, the Pirates signed Eric Bedard. Bedard is a health risk, but is immediately the best pitcher on the team. He is the first legitimate top of the rotation guy in years for the Pirates. Now, he can get hurt pretty easy, and it would be silly to expect a full year, but if he could only miss a start or two by the trade deadline, he could bring back prospects plural. And if the Pirates are in the thick of things, it would be nice to have him healthy headed into the playoffs. This is clearly the best move of any of the NL Central teams. The Pirates are now ready to make a run at the top spot.

Third, the Pirates did make a Rule 5 selection. Gustavo Nunez is the pick. He is not such a great hitter, but could develop as he is only 23. He can play 2B, 3B, and SS and has played all 3 outfield spots. I don't get it unless the Pirates are hoping to be able to keep him later after dumping him from the roster. This takes Harrison's spot on the 25 man, which I don't see unless they want to get him a few weeks of hitting and starting at AAA while he plays SS and d'Arnaud plays 3B (and Mercer 2B). This would get some consistent practice at the new defensive positions for those guys, but he is not going to make it all year. The Pirates did lose Bret Lorin in the Rule 5, but that was inevitable, and ought to be a sign of a healthy minor league system.

Fourth, the Pirates pulled off a trade that was for today, not for tomorrow. The traded Brooks Pounders (along with Diego Noris who was at his limit of being in the DR) for Yamiaco Navarro. Navarro has a .260 type bat with a strike out problem, but real power potential. He is our back 3B and a power threat off the bench. I am okay with this move only because Navarro is major league ready now. I am higher on Pounders than most. I think he can be a legit 3rd starter because of his ground ball rate and the improvement in his fast ball. But looking at our system, Pounders is not as a good prospect as Cole, Taillon, Cain, Von Rosenburg, McPherson and Kingham and Heredia are younger, but better. Might as well as trade him for a guy who can contribute right now.

You have got to like what the Pirates did, and what the rest of the NL Central did not do. Now some Free Agents are still out there, so it is not over by a long shot, but I am excited already for the Pirates.

Friday, December 2, 2011

CBA not that bad

I have been a way for a while. I apologize for that. But it seems like a time to give some thoughts about the Pirates and the CBA. Overall I don't think it is that bad for the Pirates.

Now the new CBA has a slotting system with a minor tweak here or there. That is no doubt bad for the Pirates. They will be given a set amount for the first 10 rounds. If you don't sign a guy you lose his money no matter what. If you sign a guy under the slotted amount, you can carry that over to sign other guys over the slot. If you go over by a certain percent you are taxed 100% on it. If you go over too much then you lose a 1st round pick next year. If you go over a lot you lose 1st round pick the next two years. This is bad, bad, bad for the Pirates. Not good, but not bad for teams always picking at the back of the draft, and out right great news for College Seniors who will see themselves get drafted higher now.

However, some okay things are in there. There were some changes to the Type B free agency and comp picks that won't hurt. Also there is a draft lottery that would give small market and losing teams an extra pick or so. This is good news for small market clubs like the Pirates. More picks means quicker filling up of a depleted minor league system.

The best news in the CBA is the International signing system. Now all International players will be in one common pool. That means less money spent on scouting in Latin America. No more advantage for teams like the Rangers who were far sighted enough to really pour money into Latin America. There is also a set amount that you can spend on players out of this pool, and it is a higher amount for bad teams like the Pirates. Also, if you want you can trade money in the International pool to other teams. This means if a big name prospect has made it clear he is not going to sign with the Pirates. The Pirates can give the money to an AL team for a A ball player or something in order to make sure the prospect signs with an AL team rather than an NL competitor. Instead of just losing out on signing a guy, we can get an A ball player for it. Not bad.

In the end the advantages picked up in the International market I think out weigh the hard slotting system of the CBA. The Pirates ought to benefit. Especially if you think that one day the Pirates will not be picking in the top 10. If we get competitive the International Market becomes vastly more important than the Draft.

The other thing that this can do is encourage the Pirates to sign free agents. I don't think the GM's will like the new system, but I think owners do. Now owners can know how much they are going to spend on international signings and the draft because it is basically slotted for them. This part of their budget is now fixed. No more needing to hold back 10 million because you need to sign the number 1 over all pick. You now know exactly what he is worth. That can save you a couple of million that you can plug back into the current major league product via free agency.

I also think holding down the signing bonuses of guys who have not played pro-ball will help keep prices low in the free agent market at the major league level. Having huge bonuses and MLB contracts for guys in the draft will eventually make mediocre guys in the bigs want to get more money.

So overall this deal is not bad, maybe even slightly helpful. If you think that the Pirates are going to be bottom of the barrel for a while and will have a decade worth of top draft picks then it looks like a bad deal. However, as soon as the Pirates turn competitive, this will look much better or at least not hurt so much in the draft. Even then we could get an extra pick in the draft lottery for our small market.

This CBA puts the focus now a lot more on good scouts rather than big bucks. We will see how that works out of the Pirates.