I had a different article planned for tonight, but needed one more thing for that, so I’m pushing it to the morning after I get to Pirate City. For now, here is a thought on Charlie Morton’s value, following his bullpen session today, and an update on Radhames Liz’s contract status.
**I’ve written before about how Charlie Morton is an under-rated pitcher. He gets graded on his entire career stats, which don’t tell the story about the current version of Morton. He underwent a massive overhaul to his game in 2011, and since then he has combined for a 3.74 ERA and a 3.89 xFIP in 495.1 innings. Those numbers would have been average or better in the NL in 2011-13, and slightly below-average in 2014.
As I wrote today, Morton continues to make adjustments to his game, aiming at further improvements. Considering he went from a pitcher that had no business in the majors, to a league average pitcher, I’m looking forward to seeing how he improves from here. He has shown a steady incline with his strikeouts, jumping to a career best 18.9% last year, topping his previous career best in 2013 at 17.2%.
The main concern with Morton is his health. He has dealt with a lot of injuries, to the point where he talked today about how he’s comfortable pitching on an odd schedule due to the amount of rehab he has done in his career. He has made at least 20 starts in three of the last four years, and has pitched 150+ innings in three of those years (when you count his rehab work in the minors coming back from Tommy John surgery in 2013). A guy that has a good chance of giving you 150 innings with league average production would cost much more than $8 M per year, which is what Morton is currently receiving. And if the Pirates can find an adjustment to keep him healthy, or find a way to reach a new level, then his contract would look like a big value.
**I confirmed today that the Pirates will control Radhames Liz for his 0-6 years. Liz was signed to a one-year deal, but has just 0.133 days of service time in his major league career. That means the Pirates would control him for five more years beyond the 2015 season, assuming he can stick in the majors this time around and be an effective reliever. I talked to Liz yesterday, and wrote about why he chose the Pirates, and his thoughts on Jung-Ho Kang.
Links and Notes
**The top 20 prospects countdown started last week. It will resume next Monday, after mini-camp is complete. The full top 20, along with the rest of the top 50 and all 200+ profiles of Pirates’ minor league players, can be found in the 2015 Prospect Guide, which can be purchased on the products page of the site.