Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Pirates down the stretch

The Pirates are coming down the stretch now and it is beginning to look like the Pirates will be in the playoffs again.  They will probably win over 90 games and still not win the division.  They may not even be the first wild card as that is still in the air and a reason to play hard through September.  The Cubs are hot, and the Pirates are much better at home, so that top wild card spot is enormous. 

Who the Pirates will bring up is an interesting question.  Every team wants some more arms and the Pirates will surely do that.  Hopefully AJ Burnett will return and push either Locke or Happ to the pen.  You can also count on Rob Scahill returning to the pen.  There is not a lot of other pitching help currently on the 40 Man.  Casey Sadler is hurt, and Bobby Lafromboise is not much help at all.  I think the Pirates will probably try to get Vance Worley or Liz back on the 40 and bring them up to help out as well.  The easiest way to do this is to move Deolis Guerra to the 60 DL opening a spot.

The Pirates are pretty loaded on offense right now and already have trouble finding playing time for Harrison and Mercer, but they will surely bring some help up.  Ishikawa will return from the DL to add something, but the Pirates are going to want more and they have to make a decision if that includes Corey Hart.  Hart does not serve much of a purpose and he probably just gets cut.  I assume Jaff Decker will also return to the Pirates for an extra lefty bat on the bench.

The Pirates have shown a desire to carry 3 catchers during September, and they have the option of Tony Sanchez, who is not good behind the plate but has experience, and Elias Diaz, who is better defensively but more important to Indy (who is going to continue playing).  I expect one will make the trip to Pittsburgh. 

The interesting thing is what about Travis Snider, who they just signed, or Pedro Florimon, who would be defensive help and base running speed.  Someone has to come off the 40 man to make room for these guys.  Lafromboise is a possibility.  So is Tony Sanchez, who probably gets dumped in the off season anyway.  Ishikawa may also be on the chopping block, but one has to think that he is better equipped to help down the stretch than Florimon, and maybe Snider too.  He has postseason experience and while only hitting .220 with the Pirates has on OBP of over .400.  Of course dumping Lafromboise may also open up the space for Liz or Worley, which ever was not added when Deolis Guerra goes to the 60 Day or gets dumped (as he was once earlier).  It should be interesting to see what the Pirates do to fill out the roster for September.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Trade Deadline moves examined

It is time to examine how the Pirates did during the trading deadline. 

The Pirates came into the deadline with a load of prospects, and needs in the bullpen, first base, and a need for more power.  The late injury to Jordy Mercer also made a need for depth on that side of the infield as well.


Ultimately no matter what happens the rest of the way the Pirates did great because they kept all their prospects giving up a very small amount for all the return.  This is a win for a small market club. 


They quickly addressed the left side of the infield with Armaris Ramirez, which makes a feel good story, and it cost us a long shot bullpen candidate.  He has experience, a little power left, and can still play third.  You trust him much more than Brent Morrell or Pedro Florimon at the plate, so this is good.  Great move in fact because he can be a bench upgrade when Harrison and Mercer get back.

The long shot trade was Michael Morse for Jose Tabata.  Tabata has no place on the Pirates, has no more upside to explore, and is only a little cheaper than Morse.  Morse has more power than Tabata, can play first, which the Pirates need, but is declining rapidly.  In the end this is two teams switching expensive pieces that are failures.  Each piece fits the other team better and you hope the scenery change gives them a slight boost. 

The one that cost us the most is Joakim Soria.  Soria has closed, is still a late inning guy who can throw hard and get strikeouts.  Now this one cost us Jacoby Jones, who is loved by some.  I have always been a bit skeptical of Jones.  However, he has shown steady power.  He is playing short right now, but remember he was outfield once too.  This does give him some flexibility for the Tigers.  He strikes out a lot.  I think the emergence of Kang made Jones really pretty expendable.  Now we have a solid bat who can play third and short better than Jones.  While Jones is younger and might end up with more power, Kang gives you the ability to let him go and wait for Tucker at short or even some of the talent emerging on the AA roster right now.  You have to give up someone with potential and upside to get a gun like Soria.  This was pretty mild, and Soria really helps the bullpen.  In fact, I think this was the most important piece for the Pirates to get.  So, this is a good deal.

J.A. Happ was kind of a throw on at the last minute with Burnett going to the DL.  This cost us Adrian Sampson.  Now Sampson has a major league career ahead of him for sure.  He can be a fourth line starter, probably will be a fifth starter, and at worst is a bullpen guy.  I like Sampson, and I think the Pirates should have brought him up in September.  But trading him for renting Happ was needed.  Sampson was going to be hard pressed in a stacked Pirates future rotation of Cole, Taillon, Glasnow, Kingham, and the last spot for Locke, Crumpton,  or Angel Sanchez to name a few and we still have Morton under control for a while.  Is Happ better than Worley?  Probably a little.  Lord willing you don’t need Happ much.  Is Happ better than Sampson?  Not in the long run, but you don’t want your season in the hands of a AAA call up right now.  Happ is at least a known commodity.  Hard to criticize this deal with the Burnett injury, but hard to like it too.


The Pirates also got for cash Joe Blanton.  The same Joe Blanton who baffled them so bad in Kansas City for 3.1 out of the bullpen.  Blanton too has playoff experience and gives them a legit long man rather than Worley.  He is not going to tear it up, but is upgrading the bullpen.

Let us also not forget about the Travis Ishikawa waiver pick up.  It costs nothing but a little cash.  I like Ishikawa.  He too can play first or the outfield.  He has World Series experience and is a real professional hitter.  He knows how to work counts, use the whole field, and hit in situations.  This is a bench upgrade for nothing, and it makes the Pirates better. 

So the Pirates shored up the left side of the infield and seriously upgraded their bullpen for basically one future strike out prone major leaguer.  They also got a little extra power and a good pinch hitter losing only the pointless Jose Tabata and increasing the payroll a bit.  They also picked up a stop gap fifth starter for a future fifth starter, but if Brunett is able to come back this year and Kingham and Crumpton come back next year it won’t hurt long term.  They also sent Worley to the minors for a slightly better, but more experienced and consistent long man.  Again probably taking on some extra payroll. 

They did not really make 1B any better, but they did what they could and did not lose much over it.  This is a big win for the Trade deadline.  I love it.