I missed the Q&A last week due to a common problem in Spring Training: I forgot what day it was. It was around 6:00 that I was driving home from a busy day at Pirate City and suddenly it hit me “Oh yeah, today is Friday. I didn’t do the Q&A.” It wasn’t going anywhere. Some of the questions from last week were answered throughout the week. Here are some of the best questions from this week.
Rob Wheeler: Hey Tim. I have been thinking about an article you wrote a couple years ago ever since the Royals made their big run last October.
You made a point that their trade of Wil Meyers to Tampa for Shields and company was not something the Pirates should do, and not something a small market team should do – that it more or less created a “window” of opportunity, versus the Pirates stated goal of a continual championship quality team.
Any thoughts on revisiting those thoughts in light of what the Royals were able to accomplish, along with where both teams are at this point? I know Meyers disappointed, but the point was really about the Royals and not the Rays. Does it appear they enjoyed their window to its fullest but are now destined to move forward without both Meyers and Shields as a mediocre team?
Thanks! Great job with the site!!
As you may know, I’m against the idea of creating a window like the Royals did. Maybe Shields helped put them over the edge to reach the playoffs, but look at the shape they’re in now. Shields is gone, they don’t have Myers, and they don’t have Jake Odorizzi, who was also traded in that deal, and who put up outstanding results with the Rays last year.
Odorizzi was worth 2.2 fWAR, while Shields was worth 3.3 fWAR in 2014. One win would have put them tied with Oakland, and they won the season series against the Athletics, so the Wild Card game would have still been in Kansas City. Shields also didn’t help much during their playoff run, so I doubt their outcome is changed for the worse without him in the post-season. There’s also the Wade Davis factor here, although the Royals might have had enough bullpen depth to overcome his absence as well.
In hindsight, I’d rather have the Rays side of that deal, if only because of Odorizzi. I’d rather have him for six years, even if it means a slight decline in production in 2014. But I don’t think you need hindsight for this. Myers was the big ticket, but the Royals traded a lot of prospects for Shields. Prospects are unknown. The big ones might not pan out (although I’m definitely not closing the book on Myers yet) and some of the lesser ones surprise you. If you look at what the Rays got (Odorizzi, flipped Myers for a good return), and look at what the Royals have now, I’d say the Royals made a mistake, and I don’t think the trade really helped them last year.
I thought I’d ask my friend, who is a Royals fan, about his thoughts following the post-season run. Here was his response.
“We still have a huge hole in right field and we gave up seven years of control for a short-term rental. Don’t get me wrong, I loved every minute of the ride. But I think it really hurts us long-term. That move reeked of desperation because of [Dayton Moore’s] inconsistency in developing major league pitchers.”
Joe Sweetnich: Do you have concern over Gregory Polanco’s spring performance? He does not seem to be making solid contact and looks more like the Jul-Sep 2014 Polanco than the one we grew to love previously.
I don’t, but then again I never really get concerned with any Spring Training performances. There have been so many times in the past where guys have looked horrible in Spring Training, and it all goes away when the season starts. Then there are times when guys are crushing the ball in Spring Training, and it all disappears during the season. If Polanco is still struggling in June, that’s when I’ll be concerned.
Dan Bruni: Would you rather have Austin Meadows and/or Reese McGuire, or Mark Appel? Under the old CBA, the Pirates would have certainly signed Appel, and added another potential ace and depth option for 2015.
That’s a tricky question, because I’m not sure which scenario you’re presenting. If this is under the old CBA rules, then the choice is simply Appel or Meadows, since they would have still had their McGuire pick in 2013. I’m much more familiar with Meadows, so that would alter my choice a bit, although we did follow Appel closely, for obvious reasons, and I don’t think he could be considered a potential ace. I think I’d go with Meadows, just because I like his power potential, and hitting prospects come with much less injury risk than pitching prospects.
If it’s under the new CBA, then it’s no question that I take the Pirates side. In that scenario, it’s not just Meadows and McGuire or Appel. It’s Meadows, McGuire, Blake Taylor (used to acquire Ike Davis), Cole Tucker, and Mitch Keller. That’s four of the top ten prospects in the system, plus Taylor. Of course, all of this assumes the Pirates would have gone over-slot to get Appel, while forfeiting all of those picks. And you can see why no team has considered that yet.
Clint Knowles: Is there any possibility that the Bucs will trade Walker this season in order to make room for Alen Hanson, trade Walker and put Kang at second, or keep Walker and use Kang off the bench?
I really don’t see Walker being dealt during the season, unless the Pirates somehow fall out of contention. Even if Kang and Hanson are performing well, it would make more sense to deal Walker next off-season, so as not to weaken the team during a playoff push. There’s no reason why you can’t have Kang or Hanson on the bench performing like starters.
Eldon Yeakel: Why do the cubs only have to send Kris Bryant down for two weeks to gain a year of control, when the pirates had to wait until mid season to bring Marte and Polanco to gain a year of control?
There are two separate issues here. The first is getting an extra year of control. You have to keep a player down for a few weeks to get that, which is what the Cubs are doing. The mid-season date is for Super Two, which gives the player an extra year of arbitration. The Cubs don’t seem to care about that with Bryant, and they have the resources where they can afford to pay the extra money associated with six weeks of additional production for a rookie. For a small market team like the Pirates, it would be foolish to pay extra in the long-run just to get six additional weeks of a rookie. We saw exactly why last year, when Polanco struggled in his first run through the majors. Marte also struggled initially. That’s to be expected with rookies.
Finally, a question from Twitter that I’ve received twice in the last day:
If the Pirates would want to take him after Tommy John surgery (and I think they would, considering his upside), then I’d have to think one of the teams before them would want to take him for those same reasons. I don’t see Aiken falling to the Pirates at all. I’d be surprised if he fell out of the top ten.
Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.