Thursday, September 19, 2013

Cards keep us in it, but it is all about the Reds

As the year winds down, it is almost impossible for the Pirates not to make the playoffs.  And I do have to pinch myself when I say that.  However, our bats have deserted us a bit at the end of this year and it cost us against San Diego.  We lost two winnable games and dropped out of first.  The good news is we found the bats today and St. Louis finally lost a close game to the Rockies.  We are a game out and that is doable.

However, the Reds are all that matter.  The Pirates need to get that first round bye or avoid the play in game, however you want to look at it.  But thanks to this series it is more in the hands of the Cards than us.  What the Pirates have to do is avoid dropping below the Reds so they can host that playoff game.  We have a head to head series coming up and it is very important.  VERY IMPORTANT.  All eyes will be watching one of the last real races in the majors.

I do think a word needs to be said about Gerrit Cole.  These last few weeks he has been everything you dreamed he would be when he was drafted.  He pitched us out of the slump that finally got the winning record.  He pitched great the next outing too.  And today he set a career high with 12 K's, breaking another slump of 3 games.  Cole may be the ace now.  He is pitching like it.  This is great news for the future of the Pirates.

So too is the news about Fall Ball.  Jameson Taillon will be pitching for the Scorpions (I think that is who we are associated with).  Taillon did well at Triple A and if he can do will in a very hitter friendly environment, he is not long for the minors next year.  I am just as excited about Phil Irwin going out to Arizona.  Irwin has been a winner at every level and made it to the majors this year only to get hurt.  This means he is back and ready to pitch.  Getting him a few innings is what he needs.  He will be on the outside looking in next year thanks to this injury, but I do believe Irwin has the ability to be a 5th starter in the majors, and a good one.  It is good to see him back.

Monday, September 2, 2013

A Dissenting View on the Trades

So, I have been so nervous that I can barely think much less write blogs.

However, the trading deadline and the trades that have taken place afterward have me a little upset.  Now, I am not all that bothered by either trade in isolation, but I worry about a front office view of relievers that is not realistic when you combine the two trades.

I understand why Byrd and Buck were acquired.  We needed another outfield even with a healthy Marte.  An upgrade of the backup catcher is not bad either.  But I am a big fan of Dilsen Herrera, and have a higher view of him than I do Alan Hansen, whose defense is just awful, and I think Herrera has power potential.  But hey, I guess you give up some stuff sometimes.  I really like Victor Black too.  I had them both in the top 10 prospects.  Black is a hard throwing possible closer.  He along with Welker both showed they could pitch at the major league level and both have future closer possibilities.

Now, Morneau is old, but has playoff experience and is probably an upgrade over Jones.  And I don't mind handing over Alex Presley because in the end Presley does not have a place in Pittsburgh.  With the emergence of Lambo, the off season addition of Jerry Sands, and the arrival next year of Polanco, there really is no place left for Alex at all.  And I can understand that cash or a PTBNL is required to finish it up.  But who?  It should have been a nobody.  Instead, it is now rumored to be Duke Welker.  This makes the deal unacceptable.

First, four future pieces when the Pirates are going to make the playoffs anyway is suspect since the return is all rentals.  Minor complaint.

Second, The Pirates just traded away the best two relievers in the organization.  The two guys who could be future closers will now be future late inning guys with other teams.  I worry that this represents an organizational mindset that relievers really can be found anywhere.  I am not sure that is realistic.  Yes, the Pirates have had some great success with Hanrahan, Grilli, Melanchon, and even back further with DJ Carrasco.  But let us not forget the whiffs with the likes of Chad Qualls.

The truly great relievers are usually homegrown and stay with a team for a long time.  See the now retiring Marino Rivera or Lee Smith.  The traveling closer is a hit and miss thing.  Ask the Red Sox about Hanrahan or the Nationals.  We have had some great success, but it is pretty arrogant to think we can always just find a reclamation project and make it work.  Eventually the percentages will swing back against us.  A homegrown closer from your own minor league system is not a bad thing and frankly a cheaper option.  Trading both Welker and Black is a big mistake.  Who is the best reliever left in the system now?  Tyler Waldron?

I get trading one of them.  We needed the Byrd and Buck trade.  But surely there was another way to complete the Morneau trade.  Next year Welker or Black could have stepped in to learn under Grilli and then stepped into the closer role after Grilli is done.  I hope that this dumping of our great relievers does not come back to haunt us in a few years.  I want long term success not just a division title this year.