Pirates Can Turn to Waiver Trades, But Expect Most Help to Come From Within

The 2014 trade deadline for the Pittsburgh Pirates was a big serving of déjà vu. The Pirates were linked to a lot of players, including two of the top starting pitchers on the market, but in the end the only move they made was a minor one that will have no impact on the majors. Last year they added Robert Andino in a minor league trade. This year they claimed Angel Sanchez from the Chicago White Sox.

The comparisons might not end here. The Pirates went on to make some trades last year, at the end of August. They added Marlon Byrd and Justin Morneau through the waiver trading process. After the deadline passed today, Neal Huntington discussed this with the media. The Pirates will again pursue waiver trades, but don’t be surprised if they look internally for upgrades first.

“We’ll continue to work hard,” Huntington said. “We’ll continue to see what’s out there, as we did a year ago, and we’re going to have a couple of pretty good additions here in the short-term with Starling Marte and Gerrit Cole coming back. We’ve got some guys that seem like they’re turning a corner. We’re looking forward to a strong finish to the final two months of the season, and find a way to continue to play meaningful baseball games in September and October.”

Bullpen Additions Will Probably Come From Within

Based on all of the rumors, a big focus for the Pirates was pitching, with an edge towards adding bullpen help. They were linked to Andrew Miller, who was traded for Baltimore Orioles #3 prospect Eduardo Rodriguez. Now that the deadline has passed, the bullpen upgrades could come from within.

“We get Gerrit Cole back, it’s going to add an arm that we’re going to make some decisions on,” Huntington said. “We’ve got some guys in Triple-A, that as the season goes on, maybe become options for us in the bullpen. We’ve got some guys that we feel like they’re turning a corner. We’ve got some other guys that we probably need to push to turn a corner. If there’s an external option that makes us better, we do it. If not, we’ve got a pretty good group of guys that we can rely on, and then we’re going to add to it again, whether it’s via Triple-A, somebody coming out of the rotation when Gerrit is back, or we get guys to turn a corner.”

To break this down…

Gerrit Cole’s Return

Cole will be making his second rehab start with Indianapolis on Saturday. It’s possible that he could return to the rotation after that start. When that happens, someone will move to the bullpen. The most likely candidates would be Vance Worley or Edinson Volquez. Sending Volquez to the bullpen is appealing, as he’s hit 98 MPH at times this year, with a nice curveball. He could be a good reliever to have if he’s told to just go all-out for one inning, focusing on the fastball and curveball.

Triple-A Options

Brandon Cumpton has served as rotation depth, but with one of Worley or Volquez expected to leave the rotation, Cumpton could be used out of the bullpen down the stretch. That’s especially true if the Pirates think that Nick Kingham could help them out of the rotation this year.

Casey Sadler has been up at times this year, and works as a starter out of the Indianapolis rotation. He could return, although the last time he was used out of the bullpen, he was treated like a Rule 5 pick.

Vin Mazzaro has had success in Pittsburgh over the last year and a half, and is currently in Triple-A with a 2.12 ERA in 34 innings, along with a 25:14 K/BB ratio.

Wirfin Obispo is on the 40-man roster, and has a 2.70 ERA in 20 innings, with a 21:10 K/BB ratio since being claimed by the Pirates.

A.J. Morris has been a big surprise as a starter for Altoona and Indianapolis, but went down with forearm tightness a month ago. He’s rehabbing, and the interesting thing is that he’s now getting work as a reliever, rather than getting built back up for starting.

Rafael Perez is a lefty who has had MLB success, although injuries might have detailed his career, since he was only hitting 85 MPH in his first extended outing.

Andy Oliver is the more intriguing lefty to watch. Since the start of June, he has a 1.64 ERA in 22 innings, with a 25:10 K/BB ratio. He’s still got control problems, but they’re looking better, and he could have the same upside as Justin Wilson.

Most of these guys only project as middle relief options at best. With the Pirates having Mark Melancon and Tony Watson in the late innings, all they need is a quality middle reliever or two to stabilize the bullpen. Volquez could be one of those relievers, if he’s the guy who gets moved. There are also some interesting options from the list above.

Guys Turning the Corner

I don’t know who Huntington classifies as a guy who is turning the corner, and a guy they need to push to turn a corner. Here are the guys who need to turn a corner, whether the Pirates feel good about where they’re at or not.

Justin Wilson – He has struggled this year, posting a 4.73 ERA and a 4.16 xFIP. The advanced metrics suggest he’ll do better going forward, but that’s still not enough. A big issue is his 5.2 BB/9 rate. His FIP is lower than the xFIP, due to a low HR/FB ratio. That’s something he had all of last year, so he could be expected to do much better than the ERA. However, he’s going to have to cut down on the walks, getting them to last year’s 3.4 BB/9 rate or better.

Jeanmar Gomez – Another reliever who looked good last year and who has struggled this year. The ERA for Gomez isn’t horribly different, as he had a 3.35 last year and a 3.54 this year. But the xFIP has dropped from 3.95 to 4.15. Gomez has been shaky, and has been bailed out by a high strand rate. He doesn’t project to continue pitching at his current level going forward unless he makes some changes, specifically to his ground ball rate (down to 46.5% from 55.4%) and his home run rate (1.12 HR/9, up from 0.67).

Ernesto Frieri – He’s a big project for the Pirates, with a lot of upside if he works out. With the Angels, he had an 11.0 K/9, a 2.6 BB/9, and a 2.3 HR/9, thanks to a 21% HR/FB ratio. His ERA was 6.39, but his xFIP was 3.20. Frieri has actually been worse with the Pirates. It’s not just the 10.38 ERA in 8.2 innings, but his xFIP is 4.33. The HR/FB rate is down slightly, but still at 15.4%. The bigger issue is that his walks are way up to a 4.2 BB/9.

Stolmy Pimentel – I don’t know if this is a “turn the corner” guy. Pimentel has a 4.26 ERA and a 4.15 xFIP. He’s got a 10.3 K/9 and a 4.6 BB/9, with the latter number being an issue. He hasn’t been used in a consistent way this year, going days between outings, and sometimes going a week before his next appearance. It’s hard to put up good numbers with that taking place.

The Potential For Waiver Deals

Last year the Pirates were able to add Byrd and Morneau in August. Huntington said they’d be pursuing that route, although he said it might be a challenge.

“I think it’s going to be a challenge, but we thought it was going to be a challenge a year ago,” Huntington said. The surprise a year ago was that Byrd slipped to them in waivers, including past the Cincinnati Reds, despite the fact that he was only making $950,000 and was one of the most productive hitters last year at a position where the Pirates had a big need.

“We were actually sitting in a much harsher claiming position at the time we made the moves we made last year,” Huntington noted, saying that hopefully when players become available this year, they’ll be back in that position, which would mean first place.

Waiver trades are never guaranteed, and after a busy deadline today with several starting pitchers being moved, it doesn’t appear that there would be any big upgrades available.

A Strange Trade Deadline

All of the debate surrounding the Pirates involved whether they should trade prospects to get a rental of two months to 14 months. All of that appeared to be moot, as the majority of today’s big trades weren’t prospect for MLB talent deals, but MLB talent for MLB talent moves.

The Athletics traded Yoenis Cespedes for Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes. The Cardinals traded Allen Craig and Joe Kelly for John Lackey. The David Price trade had a prospect, but was mostly built around Drew Smyly and Nick Franklin, neither of whom have prospect eligibility.

The strength of the Pirates in this market was that they had prospects that they could have traded and who normally would have been appealing. Some of those guys I wouldn’t have traded, but there were others who could have fetched a quality return in previous years. But for whatever reason, most teams were going for young MLB talent, rather than prospects, and that’s not the type of trade that can really help the Pirates.

“It was interesting that the majority of the impact major league players went for major league talent or guys that were young major league players,” Huntington said. “It was kind of an NBA environment, where it was established guys, for younger established guys.”

In the end, the Pirates just decided to stick with their current team, just like they did last year. It’s not like they’ve got a bad team. They’re currently in second place in the NL Central, sitting two games out, and sitting half a game back from both Wild Card spots. Most of the guys on this team are players who helped lead them to the NLDS last year.

“The core of this team is the team that put us in a position to have one of the best nights of baseball here in a long time,” Huntington said, referring to last year’s Wild Card game. “We’ve got guys that are starting to put some things together. We’ve got some guys that have carried us all year long. We still like the foundation of our rotation. We still like the foundation of our bullpen, our position player club. We’re going to get some guys healthy. And we’ll still continue to look to see who we can add, and how we can add.”

I guess we’ll see if that déjà vu feeling about this deadline continues in August with another waiver deal. For now, it looks like most of the upgrades down the stretch will come from guys already in the system.


  • risefromtheashes89
    August 1, 2014 10:50 am

    I agree with Nathan Swartz, We have no idea what was being offered by NH. As I stated earlier, I want to be like the Cards. They always have young talent to bring up to replace pieces they trade off of the ML roster. They traded Freese, Craig and Kelly. 3 key pieces last year. Everyone always is amazed at the depth they have in the minors that allows the deals. Hate to tell you folks, that took years to build. We are working towards that now. All of our ML talent is young still. I do not want to trade young and good. I want to trade older, still pretty good. That is what the Cards do. Still can not believe that people still are under the illusion that the Pirates lost out on a comp pick over Burnett signing with the Phils. As stupid as the Phils can be, does anyone believe that they would have signed Burnett and lose their #1 pick this year?? Similar players sat until after the draft ie Drew and Morales. The guy they signed for 5 mil is actually putting up similar to slightly better numbers than AJ. As Nathan said, Good Lord!

  • Just putting this out there but:
    Maybe the RAYS actually WANTED Smyly and Franklin. Maybe THEY like what they got. People need to quit acting like its so simple as NH just having the final say in these offers.

    I mean, Olney reported that the Sox actually WANTED Tabata included. Strange things happen.

    Oh, and we’ll get our extra win from Marte and Cole coming back.

    Either way, we have NO IDEA what NH actually offered and what opportunities existed. So quit acting like we do.

    Good Lord.

    • We have had Marte and Cole all year. They have contributed to a season not as good as last year so far.

      • risefromtheashes89
        August 1, 2014 10:52 am

        Marte and Cole have sat out several games. Why trade Marte for a guy you will have 1 1/3 years when you have Marte for 5 and a very high ceiling too. You trade a guy like Marte when you have a year left and you know you have no chance in resiging. See the A’s deal for Lester.

        • I was just commenting that counting Marte and Cole as “new” additions is wrong.

          • risefromtheashes89
            August 1, 2014 3:33 pm

            Not arguing there. They just have not been playing much lately and both would be a huge shot in the arm for the stretch run if both back and healthy

  • They could have had Byrd back with cash. They certainly have stacked lineups at Altoona and Bradenton that wouldn’t miss a player or two. A serious upgrade over everyone else they have at OF except Cutch.

    They could have flipped Marte to Seattle who was/is desperate for offense.

    Doing nothing is akin to throwing in the towel on 2014. Sad. The window to compete is small for small markets.

  • risefromtheashes89
    July 31, 2014 11:13 pm

    I am glad the farm is still intact. As Tim said, teams that were selling wanted ML roster players in return. We don’t have spare parts yet. I want to be like the Cards. The trade no top prospects and trade ML roster guys Freese (last off season) Craig, and Kelly. They have ML ready replacements. Every year, new guys come up and everyone is amazed that these guys came from nowhere. It did not happen overnight. They have drafted for talent for years and kept the talent and keep moving it up. The Bucs are working towards that end but we are not there yet. Over the next year or so, we will start having the same type of surplus and you will see the Bucs making moves as they will have the ability to do so. Keep it up Neil!

  • How many of the same people complaining that the Pirates are in trouble because they blew it at the trade deadline were also saying last spring that they would be below .500 because they blew the off season? Inquiring minds want to know. Don’t be shy now, raise up those hands.

    • Don’t forget about all the people whining back in early to mid May about how the season was over! There sure where a lot of them saying it.

    • Bryan Graham
      August 1, 2014 1:10 am

      How does 1 thing have to do with the other? Oh, and they did blow the offseason just like they blew the trade deadline, lastly the season isn’t over yet and they aren’t that far over .500

  • Letting Wall go, to add Sanchez was a real puzzler. Wall was pitching pretty well and had some impressive stuff to be harnessed. I would have let go of Frieri.

    Pirates need to replace Frieri and either Pimentel or Gomez with Mazzaro and Oliver. We cannot afford to let any of those first three pitch in games that are close, as our margin for error is shrinking daily. So, consequently, our manager does not have a full bullpen to draw upon. Mazzaro is not Goose Gossage, but he was very dependable and consistent last year – seldom pitched poorly. Oliver has done about all he can at the AAA level, except maybe get his walk ratio down some more. How will we know what we have with him, if we don’t give him a shot?

  • Sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t make….teams like the Tigers and A’s are veteran teams with a closing window of opportunity – so they both surrendered much of their farm systems to add pitching. If they don’t win it all, they will have failed. The Tigers are always willing to spend on FAs so they can compensate for making bad trades, while the A’s don’t have that luxury.

    I am shocked that the A’s traded Cespedes for two months of Lester. Sometimes you can make too many moves – like the Penguins did when they added Morrow, Iginla, etc. – and really mess up team chemistry. Time will tell how this all pans out.

    I thought the Orioles got the best value – a very good LH reliever for a one time top pitching prospect who has fallen on hard times lately. To me that was a pretty cheap price – even for a rental. I don’t agree that Sampson is comparable value, as Sampson’s stock has risen sharply this year, while Rodriguez is in free fall to some extent. I think a guy like Heredia would have been a more valid comparison. I would have traded Heredia for Miller in a heart beat, since I think Heredia has all the makings of a bust. Yes, he’s still young – but he’s not improving, he’s still overweight, and often injured.

  • Nothing? There was nothing,they could do to improve the team? Nothing!
    When is now?

    Maybe next year.

    • Quit whining! They will do something in August.

      • Keep hoping. Winners are built in August. P R 4 Bucs. Too funny.
        When is now?

        • No, winners are built through there own Farm system and making smart acquisitions. You keep hoping for that big name to come, so you can feel better. Then after that big name doesn’t get us a World Championship and bails you can see the team go back to 1999 version since they gave the Farm to get your big name. They don’t need a savior, they can get some help in August and win this division!

          • You said August. You are talking big name. 1st, 3rd , relief P, starter, bench (pinch hitter). Couldn’t improve?
            Contenders,contend. Step up

            When is now?
            You win, congrats.
            Go Bucs Go

  • I hate to change the subject, but what the hell are the Cardinals doing? Joe Kelly and Allen Craig for John Lackey?????? Thats an awful trade, Joe Kelly when healthy is better and way cheaper than Lackey, and Allen Craig was their key last year, this makes no sense at all

    • lonleylibertarian
      July 31, 2014 9:11 pm

      Joe Kelly has a great fastball – when he gets a second and third pitch he will be a pretty good #3 starter

      • one of my buddies is a big cards fan, it seems that moving craig is freeing up a spot for oscar taveras, so its not something they will miss…..

    • Absolutely agree! I didn’t like that trade at all for the Cardinals!

    • A change of subject is more than welcome after 7 nonstop hours of blind hate for the FO. The Cardinals moves are really why I’m not that upset about standing pat. The Cards didn’t get much better in my opinion. Lackey’s numbers aren’t terribly impressive. And the Brewers didn’t do much either. So all in all, not a terrible day for the Bucs

    • He already told the Cardinals that he will in fact pitch for the league minimum next year and honor his contract. That adds some serious value to Lackey

  • I’m surprised Pedro is still here. This would’ve been a good time to move him. But 21 throws into the stands have a way of detracting from value.

    • Probably would have been selling low to trade him right now. I think he either gets move to 1st in the off season or traded then.

    • I’m hoping that he smashes balls for the rest of the season and they sell reasonably high in the offseason. I thought it suspicious, though, that they sat him until the trade deadline. I really think he was on the table with Boston.

  • I can’t believe the return Tampa Bay got for Price! In my opinion they got ripped off bad! It would have been equal to the Pirates trading Locke, Hanson and low A for Price but yet everything I’ve heard is they wanted Glasnow, Bell and Hanson from us for Price. I just don’t get them accepting the deal they got. Smyly looks like a #5 starter, Franklin looks like a quad A player. The 18 year old SS shows some possible potential but isn’t even close to certain to stay at SS. How about Seattle, they get a solid CF in Jackson straight up for Nick Franklin??? Give me a break!! I find it hard to believe the Pirates didn’t make a better offer to Tampa for Price than the garbage trade they accepted! It seems like nobody wants to trade the Bucs anything big but yet teams continue to ship player after player to the Yankees for garbage. They gave nothing and got Headley, then they gave nothing and got Prado. Those guys aren’t anything great but it’s like they are just given to them. Oh well, I didn’t like what the Cardinals did at all and the Brewers did nothing either. I still think the Bucs win this division!!!

  • I think we can just cut and paste Mr. Huntington’s word into a text file so we can just refer back to them every time he needs a handy explanation of how and why the Pirates managed to do nothing while trying to contend. I guess it pretty darn well better come from within, as its apparent that we have the best minor league system in baseball, and its so loaded, I’m not sure why we just don’t call them all up and release what we have now. I mean, what the heck, we have 4 pitchers in the bullpen of which one Hurdle has so little confidence in him that he tries to forget he is there, another who lights up the eyes of the opposing batters, and two who you have no idea what they are going to bring in at any given time. We have two players on the bench who have an allergic reaction to a piece of wood hitting a ball, and a starting rotation that each night we hope that they have brought their A game, because if they didn’t, all they have is a C game.

    But Hey! We got Prospects! And we might let one or two go in August some time, after another 10, 15 or more games are played, and heck, we can afford to lose a few more between now and then as we have wiggle room in the standings.

    So as we win the Best Minor League System in Baseball Award, we can host a downtown parade for Mr. Huntington and Co.! C’ya there!

  • we’re so used to seeing the deadline deals being “good guy traded for a few guys who will either bust or be great” that seeing Price for “two guys that are probably just going to be about above average but not bust or be great either” seems like a bad deal. Even though it really isn’t that different

  • lonleylibertarian
    July 31, 2014 7:33 pm

    Will be interesting to see how this plays out – two teams in similar positions and two very different approaches.
    1. The Pirates decide to “play these” – stand pat for now. For the first time they arguably had the chips/assets to make one or two “big” moves and passed.
    2. The Cards either panicked – or made bold moves. They now go into the last two months of the season missing key contributors to last years team..

    Would love to know what the Bucs actually offered for Price…

    • Erik Masucci
      July 31, 2014 7:34 pm

      Based on what the rays got it wasn’t much

    • pilbobuggins
      July 31, 2014 7:36 pm

      I’m thinking nh stole a march on the cards by making offers that were good but not good enough, thereby forcing the cards to make move they normally would not. If that’s the case it was a very shrewd move by nh.

    • Me too! It had to be a better offer than the garbage deal they accepted!

    • The division didn’t really tilt (the balance of power) toward any one team. You’re right LonelyLibertarian, the Cards panicked. But those 2 pitchers are not going bring fear to the Pirates, Reds or the Brewers. Those 3 teams are dead red fast ball hitting teams and those 2 pitchers don’t throw hard enough. Plus, the Cards STILL can’t hit. The Orioles also panicked and gave up their #3 pitching prospect for 2 only months rental of Miller. That was smart? Nobody else did anything significant save the Tigers and the Pirates could have easily matched that deal…if they wanted to. I suspect that the Pirates did not want to take on that salary, even though they could have flipped him after the season. ’cause they could have done that deal. The Dodgers could have easily afforded Price, but just didn’t want to give up their elite prospects. who are so close to being impact players…and I don’t blame them. Perhaps they see how the Yankees have been reduced to dumpster diving because of how they neglected their farm. The sad sack Phillies have turned into Henny Youngman…”take my wife (or my old, overpaid decrepit players) please!!!” In the end, nobody did anything to make much of a splash except for Billy Beane and he just got checkmated by the Tigers. Having to go up against Verlander, Scherzer, Price and Anibal Sanchez in the playoffs…he’s STILL going to be an underdog.

  • Seriously – nothing at the trade deadline? The Cardinals, Brewers, Nationals, Braves and Giants all added talent to their teams without giving up too much. The Cards added Lackey for easily replaceable Joe Kelly and disappointing Allen Craig. The Bucs could not have made a slightly better offer? Nothing?

    • pilbobuggins
      July 31, 2014 7:31 pm

      While I agrre that the pirates should have done something, I do not think the cards improved their team, at best the deals are a wash,I personally think they got weaker.

    • oh come on let’s not at like anyone got a ton better. if you wanna think the cards got a ton better today, go ahead. But either way, Masterson and Lackey aren’t as good as Wacha and what we THOUGHT shelby miller was supposed to be. they aren’t as scary as last year.

      The brewers got a good deal for Parra to platoon with Khris Davis. Parra has some work to do to bounce back though.

      Nats? i have no idea what Asdrubal is doing this year and i do not feel like looking it up.

      the braves added a bench player and a LOOGY. not a huge deal.

      Peavy isn’t very good anymore.

      • Yeah, I am going to go ahead and act that way. Each of those teams improved by at least a win. The Pirates are on the fringe of the playoffs at this point. I was hoping for a significant upgrade.

        After this season they will lose Russell Martin, Francisco Liriano and Edinson Volquez, which should cost them several wins next year. I am worried they are missing an opportunity this season.

        But not a major problem. As a Pirate fan I am used to watching my team lose.

        • i agree. if Martin and Liriano both leave and aren’t appropriately replaced, they’ll be in trouble.

          however, i don’t think Martin is that replaceable. He is a must sign.

          • How does everybody feel about Tony Sanchez and Chris Stewart as the catching tandem? Liriano, Martin and Volquez will be gone next year. Pedro will be into his arbitration years, so he will get a multi-million dollar raise. Ditto Ike Davis and Neil Walker. So any extra money will go just to pay their escalating salaries rather than retain Martin. 2014 may be the window for success.

            But whatever, right? The Bucs have a solid farm system and a great outfield. They might be able to handle the loss of Martin and Liriano. Who knows?

            • They’ll likely replace Davis/ G Sanchez with Lambo as a way to save salary for equal performance. I think that they should offer Martin the opportunity to play 3B against LHP in a platoon with Pedro, catching regularly against RHP. That gives T. Sanchez the opportunity to break in slowly, but with significant AB as the back up C. Martin was a 3Bman before moving to catcher with the Dodgers due to organizational need. He could extend his career that way, and might take fewer dollars to stay with the Pirates with that type of position mix. I haven’t warmed to Stewart this year and would like to see him replaced by Sanchez, even though Sanchez is unimpressive at the plate this year in AAA.

            • Losing Martin will make the Bucs a significantly worse team. And with the Twins re-signing Suzuki, the FA market for catchers is now Martin, period. It is imperative Neal gets very aggressive in signing Martin so he doesn’t reach FA.

        • Though I prefer signing Martin, If you add the salaries of Martin, Liriano and Volquez together you are within shouting distance of what it will take to sign Lester in FA.

        • A whole win? You can’t be serious. Masterson may not pitch a single meaningful inning for Stl. Parra and Cabrera bring below average MLB hitting to their new teams. Even Lackey has only put up average numbers this year. And as a Pirate fan, you’ve seen them win a whole lot more than they lose these last few years. You may not agree with their decisions but don’t you think they’ve earned just a little benefit of the doubt. For the love of God, it’s been one winning season, and a large majority of the people here are acting like they’ve lost in the NLCS the last 5 years. It’s a process, be patient

        • Well, the Bucs improved by a win too simply by not having to face Lester when the BoSox come to town.

    • you would have traded Pedro and Locke for Lackey?

      In reality, the Pirates timing sucks; 5 years ago under the old system it was much more of a buyers market at the deadline; now it’s a sellers market AND the sellers are big market teams who have no interest in “rebuilding” with prospects unless they’re can’t miss top 50 in MLB prospects

  • Erik Masucci
    July 31, 2014 6:52 pm

    When anyone looks at the actual return the rays got for Price I don’t know how anyone could defend the Pirates for not coming in and topping that offer.

    • anything comparable that they have would’ve just created another hole

      • if you squint really hard, smyly might be kiiind of comparable to Locke… okay fair enough.
        and fine. maybe Jacoby Jones is kind of similar to the ss prospect. close enough.

        locke and jones and x for Price.

        Then for x… whether you go the Nick Franklin or Austin Jackson route.

        Do the Pirates have any decent outfielders with 1 year of control left like Jackson? no.

        Do the Pirates have any decent 2b at the major league level with 5 cheap years of control left?

        Maybe if you squint, Jay Hay or Mercer might be comparable.

        However, trading either Jay Hay or Mercer would have created a hole. Mercer a hole at ss.
        and Jay Hay a hole at our oh so important Marte insurance and Polanco platoon insurance and Pedro alvarez-is-sucking-at-both-hitting-and-throwing-right-now insurance.

        if you make a comparable deal, you take a step forward, but you also take .75 steps back.

        • Erik Masucci
          July 31, 2014 7:14 pm

          You can’t just assume that because they got a shortstop/2B type in franklin that ALL they would take. Franklin isn’t some huge upgrade for them based on what he’s done so far in the majors so he’s hardly a sure thing. Jackson is irrelevant because he didn’t even go to the rays. Smyly is locke or at best case Morton. Pirates had pieces to make a comparable offer in long term value without really creating a major league hole

          • jackson is relevant because the pirates could have just as well used the Mariners as the 3rd team in the trade. and they wanted an outfielder. one like Jackson.

            and no. Locke is much more valuable than Morton because Morton isn’t dirt cheap like Locke still is.

            • Erik Masucci
              July 31, 2014 7:20 pm

              Pirates didn’t need a 3rd team. Tigers have no farm system so they needed as prospect. Enter Mariners and franklin. Like I said Jackson is irrelevant

              • Franklin isn’t a prospect. he has about 500 mlb ABs and would have 333 more if he wasn’t blocked at the major league level by Cano and Miller (who they wanted to give a chance to start the year). he’s been major league ready since last year. if they hadn’t signed cano, he’d have over 800 ABs which isnt much less than what Marte has.

                • Erik Masucci
                  July 31, 2014 7:30 pm

                  500 ABs at .221 clip with an OPS of .649 like i said not a huge upgrade to what they have now. He’s no game changer based on what he’s shown in the bigs.

                  • okay, but what major league ready talent do the pirates have that beats that, but wouldn’t create a hole?

                    Kingham? maybe that would’ve worked. and i wouldve probably done Locke, Kingham, and Jones. but it appears they wanted a major league piece at 2b to both make a run in 2015 and justify dealing Zobrist in the offseason. maybe not. that’s just what it looks like the rays were doing IMO.

                    • Erik Masucci
                      July 31, 2014 7:40 pm

                      I would’ve offered them Locke/Morton, Bell, Hanson and dared them to say no.

                    • Value wise, i think that’s a good-enough offer.

                      If the Rays came up with that idea and NH said “no” i’d be willing to entertain being a little critical.

                      But if they wanted a major-league ready 2b, then that wouldn’t have worked.

                      i dunno. It’s been a while since NH has reaaaalllyyy steered us wrong. i’m going to trust that either the rays’ ask was extremely specific to “young SP and young 2b” or the prospect ask was just insane.

                    • I think that’s reasonable considering we’d have Price for next year and if we were struggling, we could trade him specifically for a 1st baseman to replace Bell- Hanson wouldn’t be missed and we’d have a pitcher ready to replace the hole price would cause from leaving. Erik, you are hired

                  • Steve Williams
                    July 31, 2014 8:55 pm

                    But he was a very good minor league player despite being one of the youngest players in every league he played in. Had .912 OPS in AAA at the age of 22. .896 OPS in AA at the age of 21. It’s way too early to decide he won’t be a good major leaguer. He easily could turn into a Neil Walker or better.

          • Dave Parker's Unfiltered Camel
            July 31, 2014 9:23 pm

            Maybe the Pirates made a comparable offer and Tampa chose not to take it.

          • You also can’t assume we didn’t make an offer which had more value, but was prospect based and they wanted ML players

          • Then who plays those positions? All we have are comparisons because all we know is what was actually dealt. Maybe the way we evaluate players/prospects needs reconfigured

        • Steve Williams
          July 31, 2014 8:49 pm

          Smyly is 10x better than Locke. Throughout his minor and MLB career so far, his numbers are much closer to Cole than to Locke. And he is a lot younger than Locke. Only 9 months older than Cole.

          • i know. it’s the closest pirate approximation i could come up with though

    • pilbobuggins
      July 31, 2014 7:11 pm

      I was just saying the same thing to my buddy, I think the rays got the really,really short end of the stick. I know the pirates could have offered three or four different different packages that were much better. I think the rays asked price where he preffered and he said detroit because he would get paid there as opposed to the burgh where he would not. Ah well. C’est le guerre.

    • Scott Kliesen
      July 31, 2014 8:18 pm

      I heard from a dude down in Fla who said Rays GM went on radio and was asked why Price wasn’t traded to Pirates. His response, ” Price wanted to go to a proven winner.”

      If true says a lot about how Pirates are viewed and how much of a moron he is for allowing a departing player to dictate terms of his trade.

      • Steve Williams
        July 31, 2014 8:56 pm

        That’s pure fiction. Their GM did not say that on any station.

        • Starkey/Mueller noted on their show today that Price had said that exact thing publicly to somebody.

      • But they wouldn’t have taken a bath on the deal just to please they guy going out the door. Giving a player a say in the process is respectful and good business. Giving a player an unofficial no-trade clause and taking a lesser deal is bad, and it’s not how Tampa Bay do.

    • Sometimes its not a matter of “topping”, sometimes its equal talent offered, but they just preferred those specific players

  • pilbobuggins
    July 31, 2014 6:48 pm

    Not really upset that the pirates did not get lester or price, either one would have been a definite improvement, I’m p.o ed because they did nothing at all to improve the team,maybe I’m speaking from frustration at the moment and with a little distance I might see things differently. It’s just so frustrating to see every year, the wait and see attitude coming from the pirates front office. I understand the pirates are a small market team and I applaud the fo for the job they have done to get this team back in the mix. There are times however when you have to step outside your comfort zone to get something more than what you have. Guess we will just have to see what tommorow brings.

  • To me the biggest question I have is why the Bucs didnt acquire Bonifacio and Russell from the Cubs which seemed to be a very attainable deal. Had needs for both players. I’d also have been marginally ok with an Andrew Miller deal for one prospect #5 or lower. But with the ultimate Lester and Price deals as they were, not sure how interested Tampa was in a ‘package of unproven prospects’… vs. ML-ready players (recall how that doomed the Bucs in the Bay and other trades to insist on ML-ready, we’ll see what happens)….

    In terms of the NL race, I don’t think a ton has actually changed. Giants add Peavy (but nothing else and they need plenty); Dodgers add Darwin Barney; Nats add Cabrera; Braves Bonifacio/Russell; Brewers Parra, Reds nothing; Cards Lackey and Masterson.

    Don’t see any real reason the Bucs can’t compete down the stretch with what they have… I still view Dodgers as a step above everyone else, and I’d probably put the Nats #2. As to the Cards, Brewers, Reds, Giants and Braves, the Bucs can most certainly beat any and all of them. The biggest ‘acquisition’ the Pirates need: Healthy and dominant Gerrit Cole… and Pedro getting a clue.

    • yep. an ace would’ve made the pirates favorites, but they didn’t have any slightly above average outfielders with 1 year left on their contracts to give up like Cespedes.

      go bucs. John Lackey and Justin Masterson ain’t got nothin! woooo

    • pilbobuggins
      July 31, 2014 7:17 pm

      Not doing something stupid is acceptable to me, not doing anything at all is not.

      • Steve Williams
        July 31, 2014 8:39 pm

        Not doing anything was the best option by far.

        • pilbobuggins
          July 31, 2014 10:24 pm

          B.s. plain and simple, your comment is b.s.

        • I disagree. And that’s not what they did. They made their offers. What they didn’t do is make is a shopping spree for Boston and Florida. And that is fine by me. They need to keep kicking tires and find some smart additions. At least they probably helped drive up asking prices for all the guys they didn’t get. Another benefit to performing due diligence.

      • They made their plays and found that their offers were not preferred. That’s not doing nothing. And if it’s true that they were offering Bell and Glassnow, they weren’t just talking about the weather. I’m sure they aren’t done yet. They’ll make some moves before the end of the season.

    • Steve Williams
      July 31, 2014 8:38 pm

      Miller for a #5 prospect????? Are you kidding me? Nick Kingham for a setup man who had major control trouble for his first 8 years? Nick Kingham for a setup man who is a free agent in two months? A setup man who never had a really good year before this year, even though he has pitched 8 years in the majors. Maybe a #30 prospect – but only maybe.

    • Nothing we need, can’t be acquired before the waiver deadline

      • False, you really think any halfway decent arm is going to make it through waivers? If you do I have some beachfront property in Nebraska to sell you.

    • Russell and Bonifacio…….I have to admit, you are right. That would have been valuable, and I don’t know anything about the prospect they gave up, but…..it doesn’t seem like a big price for a utility man with speed and a decent reliever

    • I don’t see how Nick Franklin and Drew Smily could be considered ML ready. Neither is playing very well, and neither has a ton of experience. I don’t see how they value that over a Nick Kingham, who has similar projection to Smily but not the average MLB track record.

  • bigdaddywaite
    July 31, 2014 6:15 pm

    so when the h e l l is the time to win for this team? Oakland is a smaller market. They’re all in . When will the bucs be ALL in? When all these “great” minor leaguers are already cutch will be gone! Pedro will be gone! Its the same every year! When do these sports writer stop kissing the butts of nutting, huntingdon etc and start calling the ownership on the carpet and force their hand. I’m so sick of the cash poor excuse because its just that an excuse!

    • the pirates are in the race and the cardinals didn’t really get much better. they got Lackey, who is good, and masterson, who needs adjustments. they also got rid of 2 good players in craig and kelly.

      it sounds like the pirates made good prospect offers but the sellers just happened to be teams that wanna be good in 2015 and therefore not want prospects who will be ready in 2016.

      it’s okay to be a little disappointed because Price would’ve been exciting. But it was a weird deadline in that prospects weren’t the preferred currency.

      • pilbobuggins
        July 31, 2014 6:53 pm

        I agree, I think the cards deals are a wash at best, I think they got weaker. That’s why the pirates doing nothing is frustrating, even a small improvement would have made the division theirs for the taking. Now I think it will be more of a dogfight than it should have been.

      • lonleylibertarian
        July 31, 2014 7:12 pm

        you lose al credibility by saying Craig is a good player – he WAS a good player last year – this year AWFUL

        • In fairness, Craig had been a really good MLB hitter for 3 years before slumping this year.

          • lonleylibertarian
            July 31, 2014 7:30 pm

            Totally agree-and the Cards strategy going into the year looked very sound. Bourgeous added no offense – but he allowed them to bench Jay who was bad defensively – but would be even more exposed with Craig back home in the OF. Adams would get to be the full time first baseman.

            But as they say – every boxer has a plan until the get punched…

            Craig lost whatever magic he had last year – Adams is doing OK – but a guy his size should have 20 HRs not 12.

            The Cardinal FO decided to shake things up and see if a bit of fear – “anybody is tradable” – might motivate a few players to step up their game.

            IF I were a Cardinal fan I would be worried about the loss of chemistry – AJP is known to be a bit disruptivive and LAckey was not well liked in Boston.

            • I’d take Mike Adams in a NY second as the Bucs 1B

              • lonleylibertarian
                July 31, 2014 8:55 pm

                Proof again of the grass is always greener theory…

                Here are two stat lines – HR/R/RBI/SB


                Can you guess the player associated with each line?

                • truly without looking, Garrett Jones and Mike Adams in that order… if memory serves me correct Adams missed time/fewer AB’s and has a much better BA/OBP if I had to guess

                  Either way, point taken – but nobody, including you expected GI Jones to rebound this yr like he has

                  • lonleylibertarian
                    July 31, 2014 9:04 pm

                    Nope – Pedro and Adams…
                    And I loved GI Jones – thought the Bucs could have tried to sign him for less than what he got from Miami – think he would have down that. Would not have been cheap – but serviceable and would have allowed them to focus on other areas and not go through all the Ishikawa – Davis crap that they did.

                    • In all fairness, I don’t think we had the time. Marlins signed him pretty quick, while we were still hoping for a better option than Ike or GI. Personally I love Garrett by the way, I think we would have signed him for what Miami paid them if we had realized our options earlier

                    • I’d personally trade Pedro and Hanson for Adams if StL would do the deal… I love Slippery Rock

                • pilbobuggins
                  July 31, 2014 10:32 pm

                  When do they get the homeruns and or rbis, are they in critical situations or when they make no difference in the game. I’m not sure about adams but I know most of pedros come when they don’t matter and the games he’s cost the team by throwing the ball away far outweigh the few times he has actually helped this team. Not sure if I would take adams, I am sure I don’t want the albatross pedro.

            • your opinions are so baseless that they make my head hurt sometimes. Adams is doing okay……..wow

              • lonleylibertarian
                July 31, 2014 9:22 pm

                I’m sorry – what has your head hurting…

                I think Adams is okay – but he is not great – he would be an upgrade over Davis and Sanchez – but not by much…

                My point was that a ton of fans hate Pedro – but he produces roughly at the same level as Adams – I just try and get folks to look at the facts – the data. I am just as emotional as the next fan – I love GI Jones, AJ and Pedro – but I also know each is flawed.

                • Roughly the same rate? Sure they are, if you cherry pick the stats where they’re close. Adams has an .843 OPS, Alvarez .726. So yes, if you ignore all of the extra singles, doubles and triples, they’re practically the same guy.

                • Matt Adams is not in the same park as davis and sanchez unless you are using defense as a very large contributor. I see no facts, i see baseless opinions in this specific circumstance

                • Adams would get on base more often than pedro, even if you stabbed out his right eye with a sharp hot stick

                  • lonleylibertarian
                    August 4, 2014 8:45 pm


                    The whole world has moved on – including me – Pedro is history – the Bucs have given up on him and I am done trying to make a case for him. Hope they trade him for a dozen bats or so and we can all move on to other things.

            • Hate to say this, but about the Cardinals ? I think I told you ( and others ) so.

        • pilbobuggins
          July 31, 2014 7:20 pm

          He has been dealing with an ankle injury, either way I still say the cards got screwed on both of the deals they made.

        • i think i’d be losing more credibility if i said that 1 off year outweighed 1818 PA of .291/.343/.460 hitting.

          not saying he’s definitely going to bounce back, but players don’t usually fall off a cliff this fast. especially at age 30.

          • The reason Craig is playing lousy is because he never recovered from the foot injury he suffered last year. Thats not going to change until maybe next year. lackey is just a better pitcher then Kelly history proves that. Masterson has been hurt all year but supposedly he is finally healthy (we will see soon enough). The point is ST Louis went out and got the guys they thought would get them to the playoffs. We did nothing. There is no way to view this day as anything but a failure. Maybe we address some of the short comings with the waiver wire but its should not have come to this. If the Bucs loose by a less then two games they have no one to blame but themselves

        • Dave Parker's Unfiltered Camel
          July 31, 2014 9:06 pm

          Agree, but I’m glad they got rid of Kelly.

        • We don’t all live in a “what have you done for me lately” mindset

    • Billy Beane has gone all in and might very, very well not get past the Tigers… how would you feel as an Oakland fan then?

      • Scott Kliesen
        July 31, 2014 8:10 pm

        I would still applaud Beane for giving it his all to win. Can you honestly say the same for NH?

        • Steve Williams
          July 31, 2014 8:33 pm

          Beane all in – but hurt their chances for 2015 and beyond.

        • I’m not sure trading Yoenis accomplishes anything.

          • Could be addition by subtraction if Moss moves to the outfield, Blanks plays 1B and continues to get on base. Yespedes had a .303 OBP, and Beane doesn’t like players who don’t get on base.

        • Scott- why is going all in a good thing? If you have two aces in the hole, sure……we have a pair of jacks and other teams have a queen showing……would you go all in?

        • I have no desire after 20 years of zero chance of a winning season to go all in for 1-2 seasons when making the playoffs or coming very close is realistic EVERY YR… speaking of going all in for a 2-3 yr window, I live in CIncy and talk radio has exploded on the Reds situation. Their window closes after next yr when most of their SP’s leave and they’re left with overpaid Homer Bailey, Jay Bruce, and Joey Votto

          • BlueBomber72
            July 31, 2014 10:03 pm

            I don’t get this. Win it all or go home. I as a fan understand the long term implications and I would much rather win a World Series than be the wild card team for the next four years. Hats off to Billy Beane. They have an excellent chance to win it all.

            • Once the wild card game is over, the A’s will have roughly the same chance of winning the World Series as the other seven teams that are still playing. Not one of the eight teams in the playoffs would have as much as a 40% chance of going the rest of the way. Probably none will have a 30% chance either.

          • Matt: Don’t forget Brandon Phillips who will have 3 years remaining on his contract averaging $13 mil a year for his age 34, 35, and 36 seasons. Do they have anything going with Mat Latos – is he not a FA after 2014? I know Latos has been hurt, but he and Cueto are as good as any 1, 2’s in the NL with the exception of LA, so both will be looking for big bucks in this world of rapidly expanding TV Revenue. I know the Pirates are at a distinct disadvantage in that area – does Cincy have anything better? Being at $114 mil already does not leave much for Latos, Cueto, and Chapman unless they want to try to support a $140 mil team payroll.

            • correct on Phillips; Latos and Cueto and Mike Leake are all arbitration eligible for the last time next year so they either need to trade 1-2 of them this off-season and re-tool or go all in one more time, but there is no way they can resign more than 1 of those 3; Cueto is a $20M/yr guy, Latos is at least $15M/yr, and Leake is at least a $10-12M/yr guy; couple that with Chapman, Votto ($20+M/yr), Bruce (same contract at Cutch), and Bailey ($20M/yr) and their revenue is a little better than the Bucs but not enough to support all of that; plus their farm system is nowhere as good/deep as ours.

          • So have the Reds fans begun to acknowledge that their problems over the last few seasons are not because Dusty Baker is a horrible manager?

            • he didn’t help them get over the hump when presented the opportunity, but 2 bigs things to learn from the Reds… 1) their owner (Bob Castellini) is a great guy and VERY optimistic – IMO, small market teams need to be overly realistic and act as cold hearted snakes (or at least be perceived that way), NH needs to remember Votto’s contract when it comes time for Cutch to get his monster contract that lasts into his late 30’s. I love Cutch but NH can’t do that if the Bucs hope to sustain things 2) the flow of impact talent from the minor leagues can never stop, because you can’t afford the core group of players to be too large all at the same time – the Reds will have 5 pitchers and 3 position players all making or set to command $10-25M/yr starting after next yr with almost no impact talent set to arrive in their place because you can only realistically have 3-5 of those guys at any one time

    • Steve Williams
      July 31, 2014 8:32 pm

      I have been a Bucs fan for 58 years and I am thankful they didn’t blow up the future for one of the many bad deals that were mae today. Their chances to make the playoffs are unchanged from a few days ago. And their chances for the next six years are very good.

      • Agreed! Well said!

      • Ditto. Except I’ve only been a fan for 57 years.

      • Well at least the bar is set higher now than the one we had been trying to get over for the 20 years prior to last year. Now it’s be competitive for the playoffs with no real chance of advancing deep or winning the WS. I’m glad the Steelers and Pens don’t use that same bar, but it is at least progress.

    • Oakland waited about 14 years of cycling talent before they went all in, chill the F out.

    • With 66 wins Oakland has the best record in MLB. This IS their year to go all in. After their horrible April, and having a team needing maturation this isn’t the Pirates year to go all in. Maybe 2016.

  • The cardinals brought in $500k Lackey and salary dumped Craig. They’re so cheap.

    • Haha! I actually didn’t like there moves at all. I personally like Kelly better than Lackey and they gave Kelly and Craig for Lackey.

    • I really don’t understand what the Cards were thinking. They had team control of Craig and Kelly through 2018 and 2019, and both were huge in their march to the World Series last year. Craig has struggled a little this year and Kelly was out a couple months with injury – but still – just to dump them like that? And either one of Craig or Kelly should have been enough to get Lackey. Really does look like a salary dump. Bizarre.

      I think we’d all be freaking out if the Pirates had made a package of Marte and Locke for Lackey, or something similar.

  • Not sure why a reliever wasn’t added? Not many strikeouts in the bullpen, maybe Volquez if he is moved from the rotation. The AAA options are mostly pitch to contact guys, really don’t have much value in the bullpen. Wilson K% – BB% is almost the same as last year, it is just he lacks a .230 BABIP and Pimental and Frieri are projects for different reasons, they could have use a little more certainty.

    • pilbobuggins
      July 31, 2014 6:55 pm

      Agree,good points as always andrew.

    • Steve Williams
      July 31, 2014 8:31 pm

      Andy Oliver is averaging 12 K’s per 9 innings as the Indianapolis closer. Opposing hitters are batting .146 against him on the season – and .116 in last 10 games. Also control is dramatically improved. He will be up on September 1st.

      • I don’t get to watch Oliver, but did see him in the AAA ASG. Wasn’t impressed at all. He wasn’t hit hard, however, was consistently missing the catcher’s glove. Based on that look and his stat line, I’d agree with Tim’s assessment of Justin Wilson. And that could be as negative as it is positive.

  • I’m just going to start rooting for the Indianapolis Indians. We never let go of prospects to “go for it”. They’re set up for a dynasty

  • “‘The core of this team is the team that put us in a position to have one of the best nights of baseball here in a long time,’ Huntington said, referring to last year’s All-Star game.” … Huh?

  • So, that whole Ben Zobrist business, what happened there? It was reported like 2 minutes before the deadline and then it disappeared, no one talked about why it fell through or anything.

    • It was a report based on a fake twitter account.

      • Are you serious? And baseball tonight mentioned it as well as espn’s trade deadline tracker? Must have been a convincing fake

        • between the bowden fiasco and that report on tv…. not ESPN’s day

        • The thing is, it wasn’t. That was the second time ESPN or an ESPN employee was fooled. And a big problem was that they didn’t credit the original source, which would have easily cleared up the issue right away.

  • Bryan Graham
    July 31, 2014 5:50 pm

    It’s true they don’t have a bad team, but it’s also true they don’t have a championship quality team. Oh well, we’ll see what happens.