Monday, January 15, 2018

Filling holes is not wrong

Gerrit Cole is gone, and I will miss him.  It would have been nice to have stock piled sure thing prospects, but that apparently was not possible.  Even in all the rumors with the Astros and Yankees top prospects were always off limits.  So, one can assume this is as good as a Cole trade gets.  Obviously the trade will be decided on three factors.

1.       How well these major league ready players turn out to be this year and next.
2.       How well Cole pitches this year and next.
3.       How well our talent pool of pitchers turns out to be this year and next.

Overall, I am happier that the Pirates appear to be trying to make a playoff push this year.  I am still of the opinion they are not that far away.  I think there is good reason to expect more from Marte this year, not to mention growth from Josh Bell.  Add that to a renewed McCutchen, and the Pirates have a real chance to compete if the pitching holds.  But it was absolutely necessary to upgrade 3B and the pen, which this trade does.

Moran was the 9th overall prospect in the Astros system, so he has acknowledged potential.  And even if he lacks the power, he will have a better average than Freese.  This will help the team.  Feliz is a solid strikeout reliever who has some walk issues.  He is not going to be counted on to be the closer, so he should have little problem finding real usage in the Pirates pen. 

Musgrove is the biggest question mark for me.  He has about the same amount of starts as appearances from the pen, and I think he is better off in the pen.  I hope they don’t just hand him a staring job as the Pirates have loads of starter talent that I think eclipses Musgrove such as Glasnow, Brault, and Kingham.  Freeing up Cole’s spot is better for one of them and using Musgrove where he has been more effective, in the pen. 

The deal also gives us one prospect, Martin, who does not really jump off the page, but does still look like he could play in the big leagues.  It is good to have a prospect in this package. 

The second component is Cole himself, who has been less than ace worthy in his last two years.  If he finds that dominance that we always thought he had and has shown glimpses of, then this trade is not enough.  If he just continues to pitch as he has, which will make him a good starter on the Astros, but not a great one, then perhaps this deal looks good in hindsight.  Cole has questions marks.  The bigger question is whether or not the Pirates have anyone who can answer the questions better than Cole did.

That is the third major part for me.  Brault, Glasnow, and Kingham could all take a step forward and be this year’s Chad Kuhl or Trevor Williams.  I am assuming Kingham probably starts the year in the minors, but there was only one spot really for Brault or Glasnow in Pittsburgh before the trade, now there maybe two. 

Look at this potential pitching combo.
Rotation: Taillon, Nova, Kuhl, Williams, Glasnow
Bullpen: Rivero, Kontos, Hudson, Feliz, Neverauskas(or Santana), Brault, and Musgrove

This is a pretty good looking pitching line up.  Strikeouts should flow freely.  If Glasnow can get it together, then this could be a playoff type pitching staff with real depth.  If Hudson continues to struggle, AAA will have the loser of the Neverauskas/Santana race ready to step in.  Clay Holmes would be available if a long reliever is needed.  As a ground ball guy, he could be a help, but is a bit like Musgrove.  And Kingham would be there if a starter went down or failed as would Brault and Musgrove.  Although in this set up Brault is the second lefty in the pen. 

Add to this a team that includes an upgraded 3B, probable improvement in Marte and Bell (and perhaps Polanco), and has kept McCutchen.  I think this is a team that could compete for the wild card, and perhaps the division title as the Cubs pitching currently stands as borderline ugly. 

If they do make the playoffs this year, the trade has to be seen as a success.  

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