First Pitch: The Tough Decisions When Francisco Liriano Returns

In the upcoming weeks, Francisco Liriano will be returning to the Pittsburgh Pirates’ rotation, with his return currently anticipated for just after the All-Star break. The Pirates are getting good starts from their entire rotation, which will lead to a difficult decision when Liriano returns.

The current rotation consists of Gerrit Cole, Jeff Locke, Charlie Morton, Edinson Volquez, and Vance Worley. Of that group, only Locke has options remaining. However, Locke has some of the best numbers on the team, both in terms of ERA, and in terms of xFIP. Sending him down would allow the Pirates to keep everyone as a starter, but it would be removing one of their best starters from the rotation.

We know that Gerrit Cole and Charlie Morton are safe, as they should be. Cole has a 3.78 ERA and a 3.56 xFIP. Morton has a 3.30 ERA and a 3.78 xFIP. That leaves Volquez and Worley as the only options remaining.

Both guys could be considered reclamation projects. They’re both coming off down years in 2013, and both have turned things around with the Pirates this year. The sample size is small for Worley, but he has a 2.28 ERA and a 3.89 xFIP. He’s also under control through the 2018 season, which means there’s a long-term benefit to seeing if he’s legit. Volquez has a 3.88 ERA and a 4.26 xFIP after his start today, where he gave up one run in seven innings.

All of these guys are pitching well enough to be in an MLB rotation. Right now I’d say that Volquez is the odd man out. I looked up all of the starting pitchers with 50+ innings this year (to get the list to around 150 pitchers, or five starters per team), and Volquez ranked 105th in xFIP. That’s a number four starter. But if it came down to him and Worley, the Pirates would be better off seeing what Worley can do, as he’s under control beyond the 2014 season. Volquez is only under control for the current season, and is a free agent at the end of the year.

The Pirates could move Volquez to the bullpen, and use him as the top starting depth when another injury comes up. That would create another tough decision in the bullpen, although this one might be a little easier than the rotation. The common sentiment is for Jeanmar Gomez to get designated for assignment when a roster spot is needed. However, Gomez hasn’t been bad this year. He has a 3.70 ERA and a 3.87 xFIP. The ERA is lower than his 3.35 mark last year, but the xFIP is slightly better than the 3.95 in 2013.

The only guy in the bullpen who has options, and would make sense to send down, is Jared Hughes. He’s been putting up some nice numbers, with a 2.20 ERA and a 3.82 xFIP. He definitely deserves to be in the majors. But the Pirates would be better off sending him down to Triple-A for a month and a half, keeping everyone else in the system, and calling Hughes up when they need a reliever, or when rosters expand on September 1st — whichever comes first.

Those are the moves I would make when Liriano returns. Volquez to the bullpen, and the top starting pitching depth option. Hughes to Triple-A, and the top bullpen depth option, or a September call-up. All of that is based on the numbers and the contract situations. Even with those considerations, it’s a tough decision. No matter what, you’re talking about demoting a starter who could start for most teams in baseball, and demoting a reliever who would be in the majors for most teams in baseball.

Links and Notes

**Prospect Watch: Nick Kingham and Tyler Glasnow Struggle, Andrew Lambo Homers

**Two Million Dollar Arms Make Their Debut For the GCL Pirates

**Minor Moves: Tyler Waldron to the DL, John Holdzkom Promoted to Indianapolis

**Pirates Claim Infielder Dean Anna From the Yankees

**What Would the Jeff Samardzija Trade Look Like For the Pirates?

**Matt Hague sees a spike in power

**Minor League Schedule: A Pair of Prospects Look to Get Back on Track

  • Mostly agree with emjay’s post. Let’s wait until after the All-Star break, which is when Liriano would be activated. Assuming nothing changes, I agree that putting Volquez in the bullpen shortterm makes the most sense. Then you hope Liriano is effective as a starter. If not, things become dicey. Since Barmes’ injury seems to be one that will keep him shelved for awhile, sure just send Martinez down and go with 13 pitchers for a week or so. Now you are at the trading deadline. Assuming no further injuries, I would look to move either Liriano, or one of the RPs for a minor league prospect. I really don’t expect the Pirates to be buyers this year, as they would have to move somebody on the 40-man in order to add a player. Sellers will be asking for top prospects. Pirates want to keep all their top prospects.

    • You see what pitching prospects the Cubs received though they were asking for just that in a trade for Samardzija and Hamel ? That’s right…ZERO ! There might not even be one GM in MLB right now who will give up any Type B pitching prospects let alone a Type A for hitters.

  • Timothy Wolfe
    July 6, 2014 9:28 pm

    I think its time to let go of Pimentel. He is offering nothing to this team sadly. I was hoping he’d be more useful, but if you were willing to trade Bryan Morris, it’s time to see if we can get something useful for Stolmy. Stolmy will be useless with Volquez (or worley actually) in the pen, so that is the move that makes the most sense. Sending down Hughes while negotiating a deal is fine and dandy, but really you’d be a man down in the pen with Jeanmar, Stolmy, and Edinson being in the pen. None of them can give you value in close games and since Hurdle won’t use Melancon for anything other than closing, and doesn’t like bringing in our other all-star in during an inning… see very few actual “close game, mid inning” options. Wilson would actually be the only man remaining, especially considering how bad Frieri has been. Hughes has been that fireman, and now that we are contending, you can’t give away wins to keep a player. You just can’t do it.

  • As much as I hate to say it I would deal Volquez. Only because they will lose him this offseason anyways. They already got close to 5 mil of value from him and he will command far more than that this offseason for multiple years…or deal Liriano for all the same reasons. Not a bad position to be in really. This is a really odd position for a team to be in: in the pennant race but possibly needing to deal a starter.

    • Agree on principle. Unfortunately Liriano’s injury came at a bad time. I’d prefer they move him over Volquez only because IMO he’d bring more back in a deal. I’m not certain the Bucs shouldn’t wait on Volquez and maybe try to re-sign him later this year if he keeps up what he’s been doing the past 9 starts. Then again, if he has another 4 solid starts in July, Volquez could increase his value before the deadline.

  • Monsoon Harvard
    July 6, 2014 11:40 am

    After Thursdays game, I never want to see Frieri pitch again. After Friday’s game, I never want to see Pimentel pitch again.

    Question: Do you follow the games are do you just read the headlines?
    That is, do you watch or listen to all of each game as it happens or do you just read the story after its done?

    Because if you follow each game ‘first batter through the last’, there is no way you could defend pitching Frieri after Thursday’s game, and after Friday’s game, Pimentel….Unless winning is not your first priority.

    • Did Pimintel have any time to work in the BP before being called in?

      If he didn’t, I’m not going to crush a guy because of one bad appearance when he had to come in cold due to an injury to the starter.

      That’s not defending Pimintel as much as it is noting that was an unusual circumstance and not one I’d use to make a judgement about ANY pitcher’s value.

      That said, Gomez is the type of guy who can warm up in a phone booth during a commercial break. I’d probably have chosen him instead.

    • Ian Rothermund
      July 6, 2014 12:14 pm

      How many good appearances does Pimentel need to make before he actually gets some respect?

      • Monsoon Harvard
        July 6, 2014 1:20 pm

        I have no disrespect for him or Frieri, and if the Bucs are getting blown out, go ahead and throw them out there. But if the game is close, I don’t want to see him or Frieri out there until they both get their ‘you know what’ together. Once either of them establishes that they can get outs I’ll be fine with them in close situations.

    • That may just be the worst attitude ever. You can’t base your entire opinion about a player after one appearance. Clint Hurdle can’t do that either, because that would actually mean that winning isn’t his first priority. It isn’t fair to the rest of the team

  • Volquez needs moved to the bullpen, I appreciate what he’s done, but he allows too many base runners. Against the bad teams you can get away with it sometimes, but the good teams will make you pay a majority of the time. I move Volquez to the bullpen and DFA Gomez unless someone is willing to give us something for him.

  • I am probably in the minority here, but I think the PBC needs to improve the back-end of the bullpen. I like Melancon, but I think he is better off as a setup man. A trade for Huston Street would really pull this bullpen together.

    • Pitcher: FIP / xFIP / K% – BB%

      Huston Street: 2.92 / 2.98 / 22.0%

      Mark Melancon: 2.57 / 2.88 / 18.6%

      Street has stranded 100% of runners who have reached, that is not a skill. I wouldn’t mind another RHP who can get strikeouts, hoping Frieri could be that guy, but so far not so much. But I don’t see the need to give up assets to acquire a big named late inning pitcher.

      • Andrew, I agree with your assessment there, but other than Melancon I am not sold on the rest of our RHP relief. Hughes has pitched well this year, but I also remember his 2013. I do think we need another hammer from the right side, although I am not sure who that would be. I only know that Street is available.

        • I agree, the bullpen could definitely use another RHP who can gets strikeouts and handle higher leverage spots, I just think Street is be overvalued because the proven closer label, and I really don’t remember Huntington giving up much to get bullpen help.

          Hughes is just okay, he looks good when the grounders find gloves, but he doesn’t really get strikeouts and his command can be spotty. Maybe the Pirates can fleece another Grilli from somewhere or Street doesn’t cost much.

  • Monsoon Harvard
    July 6, 2014 11:19 am

    Jared Hughes has been very good. It would not make sense to send him down. Only if winning isn’t the first priority.

  • Honestly this discussion may be for naught, I see little indication that Cole is healthy. Cole hasn’t shown the ability to maintain velocity as his pitch count increases, in either his start prior to going on the DL, and the two after. This may doom the Pirates when the face better hitting competition.

    Anyway, based on performance Volquez should be moved to the bullpen. Tim including the AL when looking at FIP/xFIP biases the sample making NL pitchers look better. Out of 73 NL starters who have thrown 50 innings, Volquez is 64th in FIP and 62th xFIP, that is a number five, he is just too inconsistent.

    Worely’s BABIP with rise and strand rate will go down and the run numbers will increase but he has shown much better ability to keep the walks down while striking out a similar amount as Volquez.

    And Brandon McCarthy just went to New York, if the Pirates want to bring in outside help, they may want to do it quickly

    • I agree on Cole. And the Yankees can have McCarthy. He is Example A of why sabremetrics aren’t always useful. The guy has pitched for some decent teams and hasn’t done all that much in the way of the win column (yeah, I know wins aren’t “in a pitchers control”, but with a large enough sample as McCarthy’s there should be more of ’em).

      IMO, he’s not a guy who fits the Bucs plan – below 50% GB rate, does not like to pitch inside at all, low K rate. I don’t see the attraction for the Bucs there.

      • On the season McCarthy has one the best xFIP in the MLB and his 25.7% K% – BB% is better than all of the Pirates starters. Yes he is difficult to evaluate because he has had injuries and is a tinkerer of a pitcher but the Diamondbacks got Vidal Nuno and had to pay $2 million of McCarthy’s salary to just get him.

        • The Yankees are pretty desperate for SP. But I expect to be greatly amused at a fly ball pitcher in Yankee Stadium. That 20% HR/FB rate might actually go UP.

        • I just took a look at some of McCarthy’s recent work. He’s listed as a SIERA underperfomer. But in looking at others on that list, I found it interesting to note that while some here are talking about Pimentel being useless, from an ERA/SIERA split perspective, he’s actually the equivalent of Gio Gonzalez underperformer. And many of Stolmy’s other peripherals are very close to Gio’s. So if Pimentel’s name was Gio Gonzalez, would people still be so down on him?

  • IMO, the bullpen needs some retooling so moving Pimentel and Friere down or letting them go would not bother me as long as they replaced them with solid bullpen talent that could help now, they don’t need anymore apprenticeship pitchers. I would like to see them trade Philly for a guy like Bastardo and then give something up and get Street. If they made these types of moves with Watson, Melancon, Hughes and either Gomez or Mazzaro they would be set from the 5th inning on.

  • Tough decisions no doubt, but it shows how much talent the Pirates really have, gone are the day when they could ship anyone out or down. IMO, the Pirates will take the high road and go with the options, that way they keep everyone unless someone is totally disappointing them. I like Friere’s arm, but I don’t know what is wrong with him, he did pitch very well in the past, I am hoping when they brought Benedict up for a while that they had him looking at Friere.

  • Dom DiDominic
    July 6, 2014 10:13 am

    Not as tough as you think. Locke starts today, then again on 7/11. Liriano starts Monday for Indy. If Locke is sent down after his start, Liriano can start on 7/12. Locke could spend 10 days in Indy, get another start in and be back in Pittsburgh before his turn comes up again. LIriano can have two starts, along with Volquez and Worley. Could have a much clearer picture of Frieri, Hughes, Gomez and Stomly by then.
    Not as large a decision as you think, Cumpton just went because he had options and today, he is no longer even in a discussion of staying over someone without options.

    • The only slight ” problem ” I would have with your comment Dom is that I already have a very clear picture when it comes to comparing Hughes, Frieri and Gomez. Hughes is the only one of those three you can have any degree of confidence in when you are talking about bringing someone in with men in scoring position and needing an out or two.

  • We are currently carrying three pitchers that do not give one confidence that they could or should be pitching when a game is on the line – Pimentel, Gomez, and Frieri. Of the three, Frieri has done the least to justify his spot on the roster. Unless the Pirates are just going to keep him to try to prove that they got the better of the Angels in the Grilli deal, he needs to be let go – or see if he will accept a demotion to Indy. Actually, I think two of those three should go, and replace one with Liriano and the other with Oliver or Mazzaro.

    Regardless, Liriano needs to be on a very short leash – he gets 2-3 starts to show if he is the 2013 version or the 2014 version. Time is not on our side to throw him out there if he is going to hurt the team – we have too many alternatives that are pitching well.

    • What has Pimental EVER done ? Throw 4 good innings against the Mets ? When I watched him before hIs promotion to AAA, he inspired about as much confidence in his control and command as he did the other night with a 5 run lead…..none. Trade or DFA,sooner or later, he will have to go. Even FrierI has had some limited success in MLB,Pimental ? Not so much.

      • With Pimentel, everyone seems so convinced he’s a real gem and a prospect, but I see nothing in his past performances that would support that. At every level in the minors, its been a mixed bag of good outings and very bad outings. Yes, he can throw hard and he’s young – so, therefore, he must be a real prospect. It seems we are too infatuated with and fixated on velocity.

        If he was a real prospect, the Red Sox wouldn’t have included him as a throw in in the Hanrahan trade – and he was a throw in.

        So, we traded Morris so we would not have to expose Pimentel (or Gomez) to waivers – and now the bullpen is weaker as a result.

        • While I totally agree with you ( obviously ) about Pimental,Morris was much the same pitcher as Stolmy. He never showed any consistency at all at any level. I don’t see where trading Morris had anything to do with weakening the bullpen, just as cutting ties with Pimental will only help by opening a spot for Liriano while leaving Hughes there also.

          • I think time will prove Morris to be a very capable and effective MLB reliever. I don’t think Miami trades us the #39 pick for Pimentel and Gomez together, let alone Pimentel by himself.

            • Timothy Wolfe
              July 6, 2014 9:44 pm

              Pimentel is actually more valuable than Morris, at least he was in April-

              • I disagree….Pimentel was done anything to be considered that. And, I am quite sure that the Marlins were not beating down the Pirates door to trade for him.

                • Timothy Wolfe
                  July 7, 2014 1:08 pm

                  A starting pitching prospect, everything else equal, is more valuable. You can disagree if you want, but coming into this year, Pimentel was definitely the better prospect. Right now, who is the better player, well that is clearly Morris, but that’s not the point i was making

          • I’d suggest Morris was worse. As exclusively a short man, his role was different. He just has to go in, face a few batters, let it fly. Yet he allowed runs to score in 43% of his appearances. He was putting gasoline on fires. Pimintel usually enters a game in earlier innings because of a poor start, or in extras. He’s expected to last more than an inning – and half his 10 appearances have been 2IP or more. And in the case of the Phils game, he had to come in cold due to Cole’s injury. Personally, I would’ve used Gomez there as he warms up quicker.

            I have no idea if Pimintel will eventually be good or not. But I find it amusing that anyone would defend Morris, who was an unmitigated disaster here. If he works out elsewhere, so what? He wasn’t doing THIS team any good. And to those who point out Morris’ few positive peripherals as proof he’ll be good, why wouldn’t the converse be true that Pimintel’s K rate is real and his HR/FB and BABIP would regress?

            • That fact that you would label Morris a disaster, while defending Pimentel, is curious. Morris was not a disaster last year, which was his first year in the majors. Miami thought enough of him to give up the #39 pick – do you think they would have offered that for Gomez or Pimentel? I don’t think so.

              TW, since the trade, Morris has been outstanding – which he would have been in Pittsburgh if the Pirates showed some patience and not panicked into making a dumb trade.

              • In just one month, he has a blown hold and gave up 2 runs (one of which was the winner) in another game. Watson is outstanding. You’re redefining the word to fit your argument because Morris is anything but. Is he doing better than he was here? Sure. So what? He’s not in as big a pressure cooker and nothing is expected of him.

                To me he was, at best, a change of scenery candidate. Obviously he wasn’t listening to either Searage or his catcher this year.

                Give it up already, man.

                • You do know that Miami is technically in the Wild Card hunt, right? So there is certainly pressure and expectations

                • Sorry, I disagree – I would take Morris over Gomez, Pimentel, or even Hughes (although, he’s pitched better this year than in the past). Plus, we gave him away for a draft pick that is likely to never play an inning of MLB.

                  And, by the way, Miami is not exactly out of the playoff picture. So, why there would be less pressure on Morris there, than in Pittsburgh, makes little sense.

                • Timothy Wolfe
                  July 6, 2014 9:45 pm

                  in a month, he blew one hold and gave up 2 runs? Watson did that last week….

              • The Morris trade didn’t become dumb until Conner Joe was announced as the 39th overall pick in the 2014 draft.

                • That I agree with – if they had drafted Gatewood or AJ Reed with that pick, it would have been far less painful. It reminded me of the Moskos over Wieters pick – and Littlefield trying to convince us all that he thought Moskos was the better prospect.

                  • If the Morris trade and subsequent use of that pick remind you of the Moskos vs. Wieters pick,you have a comprehension problem. If Morris turns into the 2nd coming of Kimbrel,then you will have a legit complaint. Till then,calm down.

                    • If you cannot see and understand the point I was making, you may want to go back and re-read what I stated – slowly this time. Maybe it will come to you if you think real hard.

                      BTW, Morris is now up to 19 innings with Miami, with a 0.00 ERA and 17 Ks. No, we would have no use for that guy. We’re better off with Pimentel, Gomez, and Frieri. Keep trying to believe that. You probably also think Ike Davis is doing a great job and has solved our first base woes.

          • Timothy Wolfe
            July 6, 2014 9:43 pm

            thats not true. Morris was extremely consistent in 2012 and 2013 in AA and AAA.

            • Yeah sure. I watched him pitch a lot in Altoona,and I am just making that up. Is that what you are trying to say ? His control,and command were NOT consistent,that is the biggest reason they converted him to a reliever. Anything else you try to say about him has already been compromised when you made that comparison to Tony Watson,so stop digging the hole you are already in.

              • Timothy Wolfe
                July 7, 2014 1:16 pm

                Leo- I couldn’t care less how often you watched him pitch. His results were consistent and that’s what i was talking about, you and tim can have all the fun in the world taking about peripherals. He went out there and put up 0’s or 1 run consistently working 2-3 innings per outing. You also obviously didn’t see him in Indy, where he spent about a full season before getting called up. If we are talking about 2011 i’d agree with you, that first season they put him in the pen, he was all over the place based on his walk total and the results of his outings.

            • By the way, I am pretty sure I was watching Bryan Morris pitch in AA in 2010 and 2011,never in 2012.

              • Timothy Wolfe
                July 7, 2014 1:33 pm

                I have no argument that he stunk in 2010 and 2011. We were about to give up on him until he started pitching well in 2012

                • That was my point. And the reason he wasn’t very successful was due to his lack of consistent command and control. As far as any success he had, it took till ST this year for him to show any progression, and he barely made the final MLB roster, and only based on that showing.

    • Frieri has also had the least amount of time to justify that spot. My God, it’s only been a week.

      • I was including his entire 2014 season not just two weeks with Pirates.

        • Then you’re judging him on inaccurate information. His time with the Angels is sort of irrelevant to us now. We use him in different roles, different environments, with an entirely different coaching staff. The stats, while similar, are sorta incomparable.

          • I disagree – it is very relevant. Its not like his performance from April through June did not happen or that it was in the minors – and it is reflective of where he is at – which is not very good. And, that extended into his first two appearances in Pittsburgh.

            Why Hurdle would put him in the ninth inning of a 3-2 game defies all logic. That was just plain foolishness. And, the team paid for it – as he put a one run game well out of reach.

            • Im not saying that it didnt happen, but it certainly isn’t indicative of where he’s at with this team. Clint Hurdle is a different manager than Mike Scioscia. Ray Searage is a different pitching coach than Mike Butcher. The players and teams in the AL West are different from the players and teams in the NL Central. Its a different battery mate, a different stadium, and different situations.

              And the only reason bringing him in to that game defies your logic is because hindsight is telling you its a bad decision. You can’t know that he was going to blow that game until after he blows it. They didn’t trade for this guy so that he could pitch in the lowest leverage situations possible. You have to see what he can do, and the only way to do that is to put him in the ninth inning of a 3-2 ball game

              • “And the only reason bringing him in to that game defies your logic is because hindsight is telling you its a bad decision.”

                No, not at all – not hindsight at all. Its just common sense. He was awful in LA – including his most recent performance against the Twins. He was hit hard in his first appearance as a Pirate – only a good catch against the RF wall by Harrison saved him. You don’t put a guy with a 6+ ERA in the top of the 9th of a 3-2 game when every game here on out is critical. Its just stupid. We cannot afford to throw games away, when we’re 6 games out and there are 4-5 other teams fighting for the same wild card spots.

          • Timothy Wolfe
            July 6, 2014 9:47 pm

            If it was a change which included an offseason and spring training, i’d agree. When its midseason, its no different. He was already in the same role as he is now recently in anaheim, and we’ve had no time to fix whatever his issues are.

  • Sean Epstein
    July 6, 2014 7:46 am

    I always thought Volquez’s stuff could play extremely well at the back end of the bullpen. Can touch 98 with the fastball and would be able to hold that velocity in shorter stints. He also has a plus breaking ball as an out pitch. Not sure how he would take to the switch but the guy clearly has the stuff to reinvent himself as a closer.

    • I have yet to see Volquez ever come close to 98 in a game situation. 94-95 seems to be his max.

      • There were two games where he was letting it rip and touching 98. It was nuts.

        • This is true. Even Martin was surprised at the velocity.

          While Volquez probably could be moved to the BP and be effective, I’d hate to lose him from the rotation at this point. In his last 9 starts, he’s got a 3.30 ERA/1.40 WHIP, which doesn’t look great, but includes the 8 run 2-inning start vs. Reds. If you take that out, the other 8 starts are 1.84 ERA/1.27 WHIP. And you should keep that in the rotation.

          For all his faults, Volquez has figured out how to find the right pitch at the right time. He’s almost become the anti-Morton, in that when he gets in trouble, he can get out of it. Might be a fluke, but the eye test says he’s making some great pitches under pressure.

      • Timothy Wolfe
        July 6, 2014 9:39 pm

        Volquez has less control than wilson at 98. Serves no purpose

  • Stolmy has been a luxury all season, he can go down. Volquez isn’t going anywhere. The move they’ll make is to send down Locke.

    • No options. They’d need to clear Stolmy on waivers. Odds are slim to none he passes through.

      • Doesn’t matter. He’s not worth the roster spot. He’s pitched 10 times, and of that 4 times was good, 6 times not. He’s not beating out Cumpton, or Locke, or Taillon, or Cole, or anyone else at this rate. He’s not a better option than Jeanmar Gomez either.

        • Timothy Wolfe
          July 6, 2014 9:38 pm

          I agree John- unless his velocity gets back to 95, his lack of control doesn’t play well. It’d be better to trade him, i’m sure he has value

  • Trade one of Liriano/Volquez, or Pimintel. Take advantage of the Yankees desperation.

    I hate the idea of sending Hughes down. He performs the fireman role better than anyone – including Watson.

    • tom from st pete florida
      July 6, 2014 9:41 am

      Better than Watson you say? Have another one!.

      • Read the comment again. The “fireman” role is coming in with someone else’s runners on base. Hughes has been just about perfect in that role. I’ve said repeatedly I don’t like Hurdle bringing in Hughes at the start of an inning for exactly that reason. I’ll stand by that comment.

        Hughes has let one inherited runner score – and that was the other day, coming in with bases loaded no outs when he induced a DP. And that one inherited run allowed is fewer than what Watson has allowed this season, even though Hughes made more “fireman” appearances than Watson has.

        Anything else?

        • tom from st pete florida
          July 6, 2014 11:14 am

          Well since Watson never enters a game with runners on base, i guess he would not be considered a FIREMAN, correct?.

          So with Hughes coming in with guys on base, and Watson never coming into a game in that situation, i guess Hughes would be the better Fireman.

          Don’t get me wrong, i like both guys, and what they bring to the team, i just trust Watson in any situation, whether it be 7th , 8th , and hopefully someday 9th inning, better than Hughes.

          I thought the goal of acquiring Frieri was to give him that type of role, though i am not sure he has the makeup to do it.

          This team needs 1 dependable, flame throwing, ground ball getting, righty.

          A 280 hitting 1st basemen would be great, but i think Ike gets 2014 to see if he can be the guy.

          Don’t think he returns in 2015, same with Sanchez.

          It just pisses me off Justin Morneau is having a comeback player of the year season with Colorado, after being so miserable in his short time with the Pirates.

          • Watson has come in mid-inning on a few occasions and has allowed 2 inherited runners to score. I agree he’s the better pitcher though, because of his control and repertoire. Hughes is not particularly good when starting his own innings.

            Morris was supposed to be the flame-throwing groundball righty. Too bad he sucked at it. Good thing Hughes stepped up.

            IMO, picking up Frieri was a good move given Ray’s ability to fix pitchers. But until Ray has the opportunity to fix him, Bucs need to treat Frieri almost like a Rule 5 pick and just hide him until next year

            • Timothy Wolfe
              July 6, 2014 9:37 pm

              Watson’s control is actually far worse than Hughes. Look beyond walks. When Watson loses control it goes into a lefty’s ear, kinda like when Liriano loses his release point. Hughes walks people only when he doesn’t get called strikes.

      • Timothy Wolfe
        July 6, 2014 9:35 pm

        Hughes DOES handle the fireman role better than anyone including Watson. If you don’t think so, You haven’t been watching games very closely. Watson’s value is pitching a clean inning from scratch, look at his numbers when he comes into a game mid inning.

  • I just don’t know how you relegate a guy to the bullpen who has given up a single run in his last 23 innings (Volquez). I’d rather let the next 2-3 weeks play out, see what happens with Cole’s lat, and watch Eddie’s, Locke’s and Worley’s next 2-3 starts before I make that call.

    And I also think that Friere should be on the chopping block before Hughes. After Thursdays game I’m starting to see why the Angels gave up on him.

    • SB: Agree we have time to consider this further, and who knows how much interest in Liriano may be expressed by teams over the AS Break. And the next two weeks may also give us more time to observe Ernesto Frieri – I know the stats he posted the other day, but I thought he pitched better than the results.

      Volquez has been too important to us over the past 3 starts to send him to the BP, and Jared Hughes came in and saved that game the other day for Worley. However, why do we have to consider making changes in the pitching department. We have been holding 13 position players for almost the whole season, and since Jordy Mercer has been playing lights out and JHAY has been streaking, Clint Barmes has been invisible – in the last 14 days he has batted 4 times (3 K’s). Mercer, Walker, Alvarez, and Harrison are all healthy. This may be the point in the season where we need to carry 13 pitchers and still maintain the ability to swap a few of them back and forth between the Pirates and AAA.

      • Wabbit_Season
        July 6, 2014 12:59 pm


        Agree about the 13 position players. We have JHay and don’t need Barmes. I’d say DFA Barmes and go with a six man starting rotation down the stretch and into the playoffs, keeping everyone that much fresher into the post-season.


        • I don’t want a 6 man rotation. There is something to be said for
          maintaining the rhythm these guys have going for them. But I like your
          other idea. DFA Barmes but move Volquez to the pen.

      • Timothy Wolfe
        July 6, 2014 9:33 pm

        I’d prefer to have someone who can throw strikes in the bullpen. Pinpoint control is something we don’t have much of down there with wilson and Frieiri and Pimentel. I’d put Worley in the bullpen, but with VOlquez having a very short leash

        • I have no idea if this would apply to Volquez in a relief role, but his first innings as a starter have been pretty decent. Four walks in 17 first innings, .200 BAA.

    • I think it might be time to start looking for trade partners for Liriano. He wouldn’t even be my first injury-replacement starter – that would be Cumpton.

  • Friere wouldn’t clear waivers?

    • I don’t think so…someone would claim him especially teams out of the hunt. They have time to work on a player as such.

      Also he’s younger than Grilli was, and his stuff is better. It’s the harnessing part that’s an issue. Searage has done well with a few pitchers here. but he doesn’t work miracles with all (Wandy, Jonathan Sanchez). The issue is it’s hard to give Frieri time due to the club being in the hunt. But i don’t see Hurdle using him in high leverage spots any more. most likely when a game is out of hand already if a starter has a bad outing.

    • Wow, only 3 games into his Pirate’s career and the fans are ready to
      ship him out. That could be a record for a Pittsburgh athlete. I personally wasn’t a fan of the trade, but I certainly don’t think it’s DFA time. You have to give the guy an actual chance.

      • Just not in 3-2 games….and maybe in Indy not in Pittsburgh. You seem to overlook his time with the Angels this year.

        • Because his time with the Angels isn’t the same as his time with the Pirates. They are two entirely different situations to judge.

          • Timothy Wolfe
            July 6, 2014 9:30 pm

            He is pitching on a major league team against major league hitters in games that matter. The situation is no different. Especially considering interleague play

      • Timothy Wolfe
        July 6, 2014 9:29 pm

        Its a combo of his games with angels and us. I don’t mind having him in Pimentel’s role, but you can’t have him in close games and we don’t have many options right now

      • Not on this team that has a shot at something special at the end of the year. You don’t have to give Friere a chance – not at all.