Pirates Will Be Active on the Waiver Wire, But What Do They Need?

The Pittsburgh Pirates were pretty active at the trade deadline, adding five players in the final week of July. They didn’t make any huge trades, but added guys to fill a few of their minor needs. Some of the guys that were added were more of the waiver wire quality, including Joe Blanton and Michael Morse, who didn’t have much trade value at all.

So it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Pirates continued looking for help into the August waiver trade period. They’ve done this in the past, with the most notable trade being their addition of Marlon Byrd in 2013. I don’t know if they will be that aggressive this time around, but Neal Huntington said to the media on Sunday night that the Pirates have been active on the waiver wire.

“The number of guys who aren’t even getting to us seems much larger than it has in the past,” Huntington said. “We absolutely continue to place claims, and in the rare instance that we are given the claim, we work hard to add that player to our system. Obviously, we have not been able to so far.”

The Pirates currently have the 14th priority for players who are waived by National League teams, and the 29th priority for players who are waived by American League teams.

As for who they might target, the trade deadline saw them upgrading the bullpen and bench, while also filling some holes for injury replacements. Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer start their rehab work on Tuesday, and when they return, the lineup and bench won’t have many holes.

The rotation was an area that they worked to upgrade at the deadline, although the addition was minor, with J.A. Happ looking like a mid-season reclamation project. Since that addition, they learned that A.J. Burnett would return this year, and that Vance Worley cleared waivers. Worley still hasn’t officially accepted his assignment to Triple-A, although Neal Huntington said yesterday that they were getting near the end of that process. (Updated 5:34pm: Worley accepted his assignment to Indianapolis this afternoon according to Chris Cotillo on Twitter)

“Obviously, our hope is that he will, but as a guy with more than three years of service, he does have the ability to refuse an assignment and go somewhere else,” Huntington said. “We made it clear that we would love him to stay here, and our plan is to send him to Indy to get him stretched out so he is a viable option for us out of the rotation.”

It would be unlikely that Worley would decline his outright assignment. He does have that right, but he doesn’t have enough service time to make his salary guaranteed. He just cleared waivers, which means no team in baseball wanted him for free at his current salary. So it would be difficult to get his salary from another team if he does elect free agency. All signs point to him sticking around as rotation depth, or a bullpen option in September.

Overall it doesn’t look like the Pirates have any big needs to fill. Their bench will be full by the end of the month, to the point where they will have a tough decision to make with some of their guys like Pedro Florimon, Sean Rodriguez, and/or Travis Ishikawa. Their lineup is clicking right now. The bullpen received two upgrades with Joe Blanton and Joakim Soria, and is another area where they don’t have room for more additions. The rotation is hurt in the short-term with Burnett gone, but they should be fine with a combination of Happ and Worley.

If the Pirates do make any additions, I’d expect it to be more depth moves like they made at the deadline. But looking at this team, I don’t see many available roster spots to add more depth pieces.

  • I would have thought they would have looked at Bud Norris,

  • Christopher Athari
    August 11, 2015 9:39 am

    I would add by leaving the Bucs he is leaving more playoff money on the table. He gets called back up and he’s likely to get a full share or close to it. That won’t be insignificant.

  • Count me worried that our starting pitching is fading, particularly Liriano who is really the key to any victory. Cole plus Liriano – if Liriano isn’t right then it really doesn’t matter what else is happening in the rotation.
    I’ve been a proponent of Glasnow staying in the minors, but recent issues occurring are pulling me to the other side of the argument and wondering if he’s the best option in what is to this point a potentially awesome season. Liz would be worth a try first though IMO>

    • To think “Liriano is fading” you have to buy in heavily to his last 2 starts and assume they arent SSS noise but impending doom. Seems premature to act like Liriano is clearly fading.

      • BuccosFanStuckinMD
        August 10, 2015 10:12 pm

        Where did Brian say Liriano was clearly fading? He just voiced concern that he MIGHT be fading…big difference.

        • If you base anything off of 2 starts, its reactionary. Might, is, could be, isnt the big issue. The big issue is insinuating Liriano might be fading after a few not great starts. Liriano, assuming he’s healthy, is fine.

  • Against LHP
    1b morse
    2b kang
    SS mercer
    3b Ramirez
    Rf j hay

    Against rhp
    1b Pedro
    2b walker
    SS kang
    3b j hay
    Rf polanco

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    August 10, 2015 3:03 pm

    Garza may be another possibility….although I don’t know what his contract status is as of now…

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    August 10, 2015 3:01 pm

    If the Pirates refuse to even consider Glasnow being called up this season, then they need a starting pitcher – LH or RH – doesn’t matter – could replace Happ or Morton in the rotation.

    That being said, it all comes down to price in terms of prospects and amount of salary that has to be added. Shields would be a help, but he has a huge contract that makes him unattractive. Padres would have to either practically give him away, or assume a good chunk of his salary.

    If we want to go on the cheaper end – and go after a pitcher who has had recent success (not like Happ, who hasn’t been any good since 2009), pitchers like Bud Norris and Kyle Lohse could probably be had. Norris may just need a change of scenery – he still has good velocity.

    • You and your Glasnow fixation… The guy is not ready.

      He can’t throw his curve for strikes with any kind of consistency, his change-up is still in development, and his fastball runs consistently high. And AAA baserunners are stealing literally at will against him.

      He won’t be ready this season, and he won’t be ready to start next season either. While the ceiling is sky-high, he is still a very risky prospect. Rushing him is a good way to wreck his career.

      • Sounds a lot like the pirates rotation. Can’t throw curves for strikes, changeups are not good and the fastball runs high in the zone and baserunners run at will. Agree about glasnow as well. ( yet they keep winning, go figure.)

      • BuccosFanStuckinMD
        August 10, 2015 10:10 pm

        So, he’s currently no worse than 3/5 of our current rotation, but with far more upside? McCullers did pretty well this year – what did he win, 7 or 9 games with an ERA around 3?

        You also need to re-read my first sentence above…I basically conceded that the Pirates would never do something so bold and unconventional. I never said rush him…I said give him 4-5 starts in Indy in August, bring him up on 9/1 and see how he does.

        But, like I said, Pirates will just trot stiffs like Morton and Happ out there…

        • and save millions and an extra year of Glasnow in his prime. Tough life.

          He could be McCullers….or he could be 2013 Carlos Martinez who pitches well and gets crap luck and doesnt help us at all. I’d love to hear your excuse if they promote him, he struggles and gets poor ERA luck (4+ ERA) and we wait until July next year to see a quality arm rather than early June.

  • With regards where Kang will play upon JHay & Mercer’s return, there is one important consideration: Clint Hurdle. Hurdle believes “Kang was born to hit” Hurdle says he never saw a player hit by a pitch to hit a home run in the same inning. That said, Kang will play because of his bat. Occasionally he will be rested but his bat is needed in the game, Hurdle creates the lineup,

  • The pirates will be in first place by the end of august.

  • Should be fine with happ/Worley? If you say so? Which one of those guys will help morton get lefties out while other one fills in for aj

    • The Pirates back end pitching goose was cooked with the injuries to Taillon, Kingham and Cumpton.

  • I find it totally surprising that you do not see starting pitching as a “must have” upgrade.

    I am a Locke fan, but even I take an extra Tums or two before he starts. I have never been high on Morton, and he has lived up to my expectations. Then we have Happ who suddenly we think we can turn around in a week. Liz and Volstad are options for a 5th starter, still leaving one spot open. AJ is a gamer, but what will he really have left? Even if he comes back and pitches like he did at the start of the season, we still have major question marks with our 4th and 5th starter. Add to the fact that AJ is gone next year, and talent in Indy will spend the first half of next year trying to comeback/learn to pitch again/build up/avoid super two, then you have a hole for a third starter. Worley is not the answer given that every team passed on him and it sure as heck wasn’t his wages keeping suiters away.

    As it stands today, you have Cole/Liriano and two head cases and a reclamation project. With that senerio, I don’t like our odds at catching St. Louis now or in the near future. We need a solid number 2/3 starter and quick. Pay the price.

    • In that case, I can assume you believe the difference between making up five games on the Cards with 53 to play is about ten starts from a “solid number 2/3 starter” over one of Morton/Locke/AJ/JA.

      That passes the smell test?

      • No but it might be the difference in playing the WC at an away stadium or maybe not at all.

        • So you think making up 5 games in about 10 starts of that scenario isnt likely, but you pose the idea that losing over 5 games might be. Huh?

          Yes, if we suddenly play poorly over a stretch of 1-2 weeks we might slip behind CHC. Maybe. But if gaining 5 games on STL seems unlikely, so does losing 5-6 games on SFG and not making the playoffs.

          • Agreed. But I don’t know how long we can keep up with our starters going minimal innings like they are. It’s going to catch up with us quickly.

            • Meh. Locke has been decent over a month span. He’ll go 5-6 with solid results. The better performance of the pen helps make his starts doable.

              Leaving you with Morton/Happ. Morton can be frustrating but also good, so him having 2-3 more bad games and 2-3 more good games leaves us in a fine spot. Not ideal, but not losing a ton on CHC.

              SP isnt as dominate as it was early, but its got 2 TOR arms, a few okay options, and Happ. Enough to get us to 90 wins, unless the offense just disappears.

        • Giants have picked a bad time to go south. Have you seen their schedule for the next month? Absolutely brutal.

          Im not counting out the world champs just yet. But man, they got a tough go of it here for awhile.

          • BuccosFanStuckinMD
            August 10, 2015 10:06 pm

            They were limping into the playoffs last year, and the rest is history….but, this is an odd year, so I don’t expect another WS title for them! 🙂

      • Smell test? Your right, I do detect a distinct foul odor 🙂

        If that starter wins 5 games thats 5 games you do not lose. (Then again, had we did this a month ago, we would have had more then 10 starts.) You also include: A) A pitcher who may have 5 starts left in him (if any); and B) A pitcher that the Pirates went out of their way to skip his start. There is also the factor that perhaps St. Louis loses some more games, and you want to be in the best position you can be in to take advantage of it. You also lost sight of the premise that if you get to the WS, you are a pitcher (or two) short, especially if you have to burn Cole in a WC game. I also stated that making a move now helps you not only this year, but into next year.

      • The only way the Pirates catch the Cards is with hot bats in the head to head series, adding an additional pitcher won’t do it.

    • Head cases, the go to of fans who see a marginal back end SP and assume him struggle is in his head and not just due to him not being one of the best 60-90 pitchers in the game.

      If you struggle, apparently you are a headcase.

      • Incorrect. The potential in both Locke and Morton is better then a “marginal back end SP”.Morton and Locke both suffer from over thinking on the mound. To me that is a head case. Happ struggled, but I didn’t label him one. Same with (insert name here) who have struggled. I don’t need “go to’s”

        • Again, i see no reason why its clear (or logical) that Locke or Morton see their issue stem from over thinking. Morton was not getting good location, leaving his stuff up. Why is that automatically over thinking and not just lack of feel for his stuff and ability to command well?

          And i see absolutely no logic in assuming Locke struggles because of overthinking. He struggles when the zone is tight, and he gets behind hitters. Thats who he is good or bad. Attack the edges, get calls, work from ahead. His approach never changes, the results do.

          • Read their post game interviews.

            • Stop digging that hole for yourself. How in the world are you suggesting postgame interview is a good way to judge anything?

          • Charlie Morton has admitted on several occasions that his problems are with his mental approach to the game. Since when is Charlie Morton not the premier expert on the goings-on with Charlie Morton?

    • The smart play would have been to target someone like Kazmir early in trade deadline process and BEFORE AJ got hurt. You didn’t know AJ would get hurt but it was certainly was reasonably foreseeable someone from rotation would go down given how unlikely it is to go full season with no one from rotation hitting DL(not even taking into account Liriano’s injury history and AJ’s age). And even if no one did end up getting hurt could have upgraded rotation and slid someone like Morton to bullpen. I never for a second understood people who said, “if someone gets injured we can just make waiver deal”. Do they realize how little leverage and how hard it is to get a waiver claim in with the 2nd best record in baseball.

  • How long until we hear that Walker is taking grounders at 1b? Kang 3b, Mercer SS, Harrison 2b, Walker 1b = 2016 lineup

    • Not sure why anybody thinks that this is going to happen…

      • Not sure why anyone would WANT it to.

      • I know. The guy is not changing positions 14 months from free agency.

        • Offensively this year he’d be approximately the 17th best first baseman.

          • Me? Im done with the learning 1st base on the fly, technique.

            And something tells me in a year or so, the blog world will be filled with “This Josh Bell stinks. He’s got more errors then HRs. Yinz would have been better off with dat der Pedro.”

            Cant wait. 😉

            • Yeah I didn’t mean for it to sound like you were disagreeing.

              I just don’t get the continued love affair with shoehorning Neil Walker in at first base.

              • I think they will shop Neil over the winter. Put Harrison/Hanson at 2nd.

                At least thats what I would do.

          • Sorry to point this out, but “the 17th best first baseman” is a losing argument when your current 1b platoon is near 30th.

            • Using my quick parameters from before (OPS and qualifying number of ABs, granted not the best but I was just spitballing it) Pedro is 18th. Neil has a .036 OPS edge on Pedro (other positives exist of course). He would leapfrog us over Ryan Howard at that position.

              Point remaining is that people are performing some serious mental roster gymnastics in order to get us a well below average bat at first.

              • NW has a wRC+ of 114, which would rank him 15th among qualified 1b. Pedro’s is 99, which ranks him 18th. But value is more than the bat. You have to consider defense.

                Hart had a -0.4 WAR. Pedro a -0.5 WAR, SRod a minus -0.6 WAR and Morse came to town with a -0.9 WAR at 1b.

                If Walker played 1b at merely replacement level, he’d be worth a half win or more over a full season compared to the group currently manning 1b for the Bucs.

    • Paul Newmeyer
      August 10, 2015 5:12 pm

      I was suggesting Walker to first in the off season last winter. Imagine if they made that move and traded Alvarez as well. Walker’s numbers last year were similar to Adrian Gonzalez. I know he loses value moving to first, but I also believe he would have improved on his 2014 numbers. Walker as a first baseman could allow himself to get bigger and stronger and would endure less wear and tear during the season moving off second. His defense is already in decline at second and the move may have increased his free agency potential. His pending free agency would bridge the gap to Bell as well. What if they decide they need to extend Walker? Where would you want him to play for the next few years under that scenario? Have a better defensive option at second and I would bet Walker would be an above average first baseman even with one off season to prepare.

      • Seems pretty unfair to say moving to 1B would mean he plays better than his best year ever on offense. Last year seems to be his career best level on offense, so any dip from that (like this year) and its an issue.

        He’s at best a mid level 1B offensive talent, and when he isnt having a career year he’s around 15th best offensive 1Bmen. Not really the greatest option for the team, and he’d likely hate it because it kills his market value if teams negotiate like he’s a 1Bmen. He’s likely to do anything he can to hit FA having only played 2B much of his ML career.

  • Send Cole Tucker, Steven Brault, and Chad Kuhl to the Padres for James Shields.

    • James Shields isn’t even worth the balance of his contract, let alone actual prospects.

      • NMR….ain’t THAT the truth!

        • Good, then take him for free. He’s sure alot better than Happ, Locke, and Morton. He may have had some struggles this year but I think he’s got some life left in that arm.

          • meatygettingsaucy
            August 10, 2015 1:26 pm

            of course he has some life left in his arm but that life isn’t worth the $21 mil he would be owed per year from now through 2019. And if someone says “oh, we can just flip him for prospects then”, I highly doubt anyone is going to want a 34-36 year old pitcher that has a contract that would only make Ruben Amaro happy

            • That’s a good. Are there any there any other starters available out there who the Bucs could acquire without giving up premium prospects?

              • Betcha Milwaukee would love someone to take Matt Garza off their hands.

                Reasonable contract, if you’re convinced he didn’t actually get terrible over the winter.

                • Pickings are slim, but yes, Garza is probably the clubhouse leader. Ian Kennedy would be viable but I have no idea what San Diego would expect in return. In the AL you could maybe see Samardzija sneak through waivers. If Baltimore falls out, Ubaldo Jimenez would be interesting.

                  A lot is made of the low waiver priority, but keep in mind no team that is out of the race is going to put in a claim on an expiring contract or take on a big salary just to improve from 75 to 77 wins. So really in the NL it’s just the 6 other playoff hopefuls, and even then the Mets, Nationals and Cardinals are hardly in the market for an arm. So really, you just have to get past LA, CHI and SF to win a claim. Unlikely, but could still happen.

                  • Being in the market for an arm isnt the point, its blocking a team you know is that gets interesting. Maybe MIL lets Garza go for free, but its also likely they arent wanting to just give him up sans prospects and pulls him back if anyone but PGH claims him.

                    SP are tough to move via the trade waiver. I think anyone looking to stop PGH from getting better is going to think hard about claiming those names to block PGH.

                    • Well, St. Louis can’t block anyone, since they have last priority. What you’re then suggesting is New York or Washington would be willing to take the risk that Milwaukee wouldn’t just prefer to rid themselves of the obligation to pay Garza at least $28 million through 2017. It’s certainly plausible that they would – Milwaukee’s in a very different place now than they were when they re-signed him.

                      Not only would WAS/NYM have to absorb that obligation, but they’d have to option or designate a (very likely) superior player to make room. The uncertainty might be enough to let him pass through.

                    • CHC is also clearly a team that would block to keep PGH from getting better. Thats 3 teams at least.

                      If it was so easy to get SP through, it would happen more often.

                    • Good point – going back the last few years, only a smattering of SPs changed hands – Kazmir, Beckett, Pavano, Loaiza…basically one a year.

                    • I get a vibe from Huntington’s recent comments that he’s a bit ticked that clubs are blocking waiver moves just to be dicks. Stephen makes logical sense with his “in contention” argument, but I’m not sure that’s how it’s working in practice.

                  • To be honest, I hadn’t realized how well Kennedy has rebounded after an awful start. Still giving up a good amount of quality contact, and I certainly don’t think we’re talking about a difference maker for the Division title, but sure, you sold me on him being a viable upgrade.

                    Why wasn’t he moved? “Because Preller” is a fair answer, mind you.

                    • It may go higher up than Preller, is what I’ve read. You can make the case that Ross and Cashner are worth retaining. Upton is a QO candidate. But Will Venable? Kennedy? And the reports suggested the Yankees were willing to take on Kimbrel’s salary AND Gyorkos, and ship out Mateo, but the deal was nixed, presumably by ownership.

                    • Good point, I can think of a few articles I’ve read talking about that as an explanation now that you mention it. A real wild card to deal with at this point, I suppose.

                  • The thing that would worry me about Garza is his reputation for being a complete ass. Everyone seems to say the Bucs have a great clubhouse. Adding Garza might make it less so.

          • He won’t be available for free, alas. Questions have emerged as to who is actually calling the shots in San Diego – rumor has it that a couple of deals were vetoed at the last minute, and we already know that Dave Stewart in AZ broke the GM code, calling out AJ Preller for his demand of Goldschmidt in trade. Signs point to a sizable disconnect between San Diego decision makers and the market on the value of their tradable assets.

            All of which is to say, acquiring Shields goes from a “no” to a “HELL no.”

      • That’s because Kozy forgot to tell you that the Pads were picking up 1/3 of his salary in the deal

      • Just to add to this, I did a quick trade value estimate, and Shields would be worth about -$26 M with his current deal at 2 WAR per year. If you’re generous and give him 3 WAR a year and bump up his 2015 production, he’d be worth about -$8 M.

        So in the best case from a productive standpoint, just to dump his contract for no players in return, San Diego would have to pay $8 M of his salary.

    • I’d send Jordy Mercer and Steven Brault to the Padres for Andrew Cashner or Tyson Ross. Add in Chad Kuhl if you want.

      • I think it’ll take alot more than that to get Ross. If that’s all it took, I can’t imagine him not being traded at the deadline.

      • Ian Kennedy is more likely to be moved…no thank you. Rather put Jaff Decker in the rotation.

  • It’s been an ugly 4 weeks since the ASB for Pirate SPs – 5.48 ERA and 1.51 WHIP. I’d start there.

    • Sure, but Cole/Liriano have xFIP’s under 3 and Locke/Morton under 4 over that time.

      I think the question comes down to the goal…are you trying to make this team better for the regular season, with the goal of winning as many games as possible? Or are you trying to improve this club with the playoffs in mind?

      If it’s the latter, you’re talking about a *major* investment for a #3 playoff starter. I’m just not sure a team with two great starters at the top of their rotation *needs* another well above average guy at #3.

      • I think if they have some doubt AJ will get back to full strength they need another guy. They have a little longer to figure that out but a decision needs to come soon.

        • If you’re focusing on the regular season, absolutely. Playoffs? I just don’t think it’s worth it.

          To be clear, you, me, Huntington, and every other person on this planet should doubt AJ coming back to full strength. Expecting a 38 yo pitcher with a significant, chronic ligament injury to recover fully in four weeks would be a literal miracle. If he’s back at all, it’ll almost certainly be in a diminished capacity.

          But playoff pitching has been proven to shift to the bullpen given the expanded scheduling. It would be gross negligence to allow Charlie Morton, Jeff Locke, or AJ Burnett to face a lineup more than three times. Your fresh bullpen arms will almost certainly be more successful than any of those guys at that stage of the game.

          All three of them can be successful in shorter duration, and that’s all you need with a good bullpen and two plus starters at the top of the rotation.

          • This, very much.

            Is Charlie Morton/Jeff Locke ideal if needing to go 7 innings? No. But in the playoffs, you can drastically shorten games to 5 SP innings and the bullpen the rest of the way. Get 5 innings out of AJ/Locke/Morton a few times a series and rely on the TOR arms to do what they do.

            • Locke tends to pitch hard and tough through 5 innings (at least my brain tells me he does) more consistently than Morton does. Morton has early game blowouts and generally only becomes more valuable as the game goes on when he finds his rhythm (IF he finds it)

              • Right, i think both players have flaws right now but not so many flaws that they arent usable going forward. Locke doing well and with a bullpen able to cover 6-9 he seems fine.

                For the playoffs, having 2 quality SPs can be enough. Get 1 decent start from Locke+bullpen and you win a series.

          • One can argue more than 2x instead of 3x. Heck, you can piggyback the two of them for your #3 in the playoffs, provided the schedule allows FL/GC get appropriate rest.

            • I’d love a ballsy strategy piggybacking Locke and Morton. Depending on who starts and relieves, the opposition is either going to have a severe platoon disadvantage or will have to burn much of the bench early on.

          • Locke’s numbers show he has a drastic drop after the second time through a lineup.

            • Locke is also doing much worse vs LHB this year than in the past. No idea why.

              • He is letting his curve catch too much of the zone, it has been especially noticeable of late, both the Rizzo’s home run and Schwarber lucky wind aided home run were off of curve balls.

                It has never been a great pitch against LHHs for some reason, it appears that last season he threw sinkers to lefties over 70% of the time and had his best results.

          • > It would be gross negligence to allow Charlie Morton, Jeff Locke, or AJ Burnett to face a lineup more than three times

            In Locke’s case, more than two times.
            Morton gets dramatically better the 2nd and 3rd time through the lineup, but Locke gets dramatically worse.

      • I’m much more concerned about the next 50 games and winning the division than I am about who might be the 3rd starter once they’re there. I also look at the high BABIP numbers that belie the xFIPs you cite as more than a little bit of symptom (poor location/command), and not just fluke. Good teams will hit belt-high sinkers and 3-1 fastballs in the fat part of the plate, BABIP be damned.

        This team enters the stretch with a great deal of uncertainty at 3 of the 5 rotation spots – Liriano has looked very shaky his last 3 outings (including the abbreviated Cubs game that was postponed), Morton hasn’t looked right in weeks, and no one has any idea what to expect from the AJ/JA spot. They’re all still racking up K’s, so it would appear that the stuff is still playing well, but the command has been fleeting.

        I don’t think a move is necessary today – there are 4 turns through the rotation between now and the waiver deadline, more than enough time to determine whether any or all of the 3 regain their command. It certainly bears watching.

        • I liken the probability of catching the best team in baseball down by five games with 50 games left to catching the Cards in the last series of the year in 2014; is there a chance? Sure. Is winning the Division much preferable to the Wild Card? Absolutely,

          But whatever you do, *DO NOT* leave yourself with the proverbial Edinson Volquez starting the Wild Card game.

          I know nobody wants to hear it, and that’s fine, but the Division is such a long shot that I have a hard time finding the moves that would be required to make an appreciable difference logical.

          U[grading one of the 3-5 starters might be a game or two improvement, at best, the rest of the way and doesn’t budge the needle in the playoffs unless it’s a TOR arm.

          • You leave yourself with the proverbial Edinson Volquez starting the wild card game if there is still a chance of winning the division in the last weekend.

            • Because that worked out so well last time, right?

              • In Doug’s defense, anyone short of Christ pitching that game last year, we lose.

                • We had a better chance of catching the cardinals, than we would have had of beating baumgartner in that game no matter who pitched

                • And that sort of mentality is *exactly* what is clouding everyone’s judgement.

                  Pirate fans are like that 16 year old boy who just got his heart broken by his first girlfriend and never, ever wants to date again.

                  Using literally the most historic pitching performance in Major League history as a reason for doing whatever it takes to win the Division isn’t my kind of logic.

                  • I’m not debating that NMR, i agree with you. But you are actually doing the same thing in reverse, by putting all your theoretical eggs into the wild card game basket. How much worse were our chances truly with Volquez as opposed to Cole last year? How much did we increase our chances of winning the division by the pitching matchup we went in against the Cardinals? In the world of mathematics, we had chance X of catching the cardinals by going for it, and chance Y by not going for it like we did. We also had chance A of winning 1 game playoff if failing in X situation, and chance B of winning 1 game playoff in chance Y situation. I would bet that the chance of success rate of getting to the five game series measured by- X+A>Y+B which is why they did it. Once you assign a probability scale (which i’m not qualified to do) the choice should always be based off of probability of success. I’m sure they had someone doing that. If anyone had the odds captured for these scenarios going into the three game series against the cardinals, i’d love to see if it plays out

                    • Oh I most certainly agree that I simplified the argument down much, much more than it really was.

                      I also think it would be utterly pointless to run through all those probabilities given the massive error bars you’d inevitably have to place on all the assumptions made. Baseball is simply too variable to account for those factors with any sort of accuracy.

                      Generally speaking, I’m confident that the Pirates could put a lineup on the field to match any club in the game right now. The starting pitcher plays such an enormous role in the baseball game that I, personally, do not think it’s very smart to severely reduce your quality at that position(i.e. Volquez < Cole/Liriano) in a loser-goes-home scenario all for the slim chance (<5% if I remember correctly) of winning the Division and avoiding that scenario all together.

                      Put another way, how freaking stoked would you be, as a Pirate fan, if the Giants were two back going into that last series and burned Bumgarner?

                    • Given that your percentages are accurate, i’d definitely agree with you. That would have been mathematically stupid if they did that. Quire a hurdlish thing to do honestyl

          • Lets put this in perspective. 50 games left- Cardinals go 28-22 (pretty reasonable) We are completely capable of going 31-19 with the team we have right now, so 2 games more might be all we need……

            • We are capable of 31-19, but its not terribly likely. STL has a somewhat nice schedule left, and we have to get through the next 6 games to get a good idea of where we stand.

              • cardinals could also do far worse than 28-22. i picked it based on nothing really, they could also go 30-20 in which case the division is over

                • With their schedule left and the talent they have, i really dont see STL going .500 the rest of the way. Id say best case is they play around 3-4 games over .500 only.

                  • Anything can happen considering how “lucky” they’ve been and it could come to bite them at some point, but overall I’d say i agree with you

          • I going to say at this point the Pirates have a better chance of winning the division this season than they did going into game 162 last year.

            • In absolute terms, certainly. My point was that neither situation had odds good enough to be worth damaging future play, whether that be a self-inflicted poor wild card matchup or “all in” deadline deals.

          • That’s been my thought all along. If you’re not going after a cueto/hamels then there’s no point unless we have more injuries. When it’s all said and done, we basically gave Sampson away!

        • But I do appreciate the response, well stated argument for going “all in”.

      • I think you just need someone really consistent whom won’t lose you the game as the #3 starter. 6 innings 3 runs- not needed great numbers, but consistently not having blowups and consistently pitching late in the games regardless of competition

    • One thing that has concerned me since the break is the amount of walks the staff is issuing.

  • I agree with premise of the article. There is only one move that arguably would make sense: 1 SP who would be a clear upgrade to the current crop, if such an animal exists. This is not critical but it would be helpful because, let’s face it: for the Mets series we’ll be pitching Morton, Happ & Locke, meaning our offense will likely need to continue its impressive hot streak. It’s tough to count on a post strained flexor tendon AJ being AJ, and I don’t see Huntingdon feeling real good about Morton as our #3 right now especially in a 5 game series. People will probably disagree with me, but I think someone like Ian Kennedy would fit the bill.
    Morse’s swing looks pretty bad & I would have preferred Napoli, but that ship has sailed and with Alvarez hitting well this is not the crisis it was a month ago. Bench will look great when JayHay & Mercer return, and bullpen is inspiring confidence. No need this year to make a move for sake of making move, eg, Qualls, Axford

  • starting pitching has been bad since the break, but can’t see it be upgraded .

    • Unless we want to take on Shields’ salary, which I doubt.

      • For all those folks who wanted to sign Masterson last winter, he’s out there. He’s had a sucky year and makes Happ look pretty good in comparison. His FB velocity dropped by 2mph, but he’s still getting 51% GBs. Still, if y’all believed there was something Ray could fix, well…

  • Where does Kang play when Mercer and Harrison return. He surely earned a starting job with what he has done.

    • 3b most likely with Mercer going back to SS would likely be the largest net positive, although keeping Kang at SS and putting Harrison back at 3b should also be a net positive. Either way, ARam needs to go to the bench. His defense is bad.

      • Aram has been a starter all his life but I hope the old vet can be a valuable ph down the stretch.

        • I think he’d value going out as a world series winner way more than being out playing everyday at age 38

          • I hope so…because once Harrison and Mercer are back the best players for the team need to be the ones on the field and Kang has proven to be one of the best 2 or 3 players on the whole team.

      • I think Harrison will go back to super utility role, and there will be a rotation based on rest days and matchups amongst JHay, Kang, Mercer, Walker, and the OF as well since JHay can play either corner and Marte can play CF. That means (assuming everyone stays healthy) you have 7 guys for 6 spots and it will be a rotation that keeps the lineup relatively constant offensively.

        • I agree that you will see Harrison playing 3rd maybe twice a week, 2B against lefties and LF against some lefties

          • I mean RF sorry

            • Could be LF too if they prefer Marte in RF on Polanco’s days off, which I think I heard was the case.

              • Or wait, maybe i have it backwards that they prefer Polanco in LF on Marte’s day off. Either way, Harrison will get some OF time for sure.

    • I think it will be Mercer at SS with Kang at 3b.

      With JHay its going to be wait and see how the injury goes. While I agree with bucsws2014 that Ramirez defense is bad (and he has more DP’s than RBIS!) Harrison is not much better there.

      I still think NH should do his due diligence for a bat on the waiver wire. Slim pickings though, especially where they are in the order.

    • Swimming against the popular opinion, but I’d put JHay at 3rd and Kang at SS, and let the occasional grounder slip through in favor of the added punch at the plate. The guy earned a spot. Let Mercer be the one who spells Kang, JHay, and Polanco by having JHay move around when Mercer is in the lineup.

      • Lingering effect of hand injuries on hitters is always scary, but *IF* Harrison comes back hitting your suggestion almost certainly creates the best scenario for the Pirates.

        With Kang’s emergence, Jordy should only be starting games against LHP. He simply cannot hit RHP enough to warrant everyday action. I could see an argument for a run-prevention lineup with Morton or Locke on the mound, but otherwise Jordy just isn’t good enough to crack the lineup.

      • if you’re interested in that, then use Jordy Mercer as trade bait to get a top flight starter like either of Cashner and Tyson Ross ++ prospect or maybe even James Shields and keep Florimon as your defensive specialist.

        • Jordy Mercer isn’t good enough to move the needle on a package for *any* playoff-quality starting pitcher, let alone the top flight variety.

          • I would completely disagree. He’s a bonified MLB starting SS with some pop in his bat. That in and of itself has significant value. BTW, I didn’t suggest David Price or Cole Hamels. But for a SS depraved team like the Padres or the Mets, Jordy Mercer would be a significant upgrade over Everth Cabrera or Ruben Tejada or even Wilner Flores.

            • *You* may completely disagree, but that doesn’t change the facts of the situation.

              • No offense here NMR, but I see no facts, only opinion. Unless someone wants to do a analyzation of trade value for Mercer like Tim has done before based on WAR, team control, salary, etc? ……..I admit I have no idea how to do it or i would for fun

                • A trade value analysis needs done to prove that Jordy Mercer isn’t going to get a “top flight starter like either of Cashner and Tyson Ross”?

                  Common sense isn’t enough?

            • Mercer has a significantly lower OPS than both Tejada and Flores.

              • Can’t use OPS only for a defensive position, have to incorporate defensive value somehow…..

            • Apologies in advance, but I’m going to be THIS guy:

              bonified = bona fide

              depraved means morally corrupt. Which might be true in the case of Mets ownership and/or San Diego front office, but probably isn’t what you were going for.

              • Engrish is hard.

                • funny guy. does that make you fell smart and powerful tough guy. picking up on other peoples grammar errors or typos. you’re a jag off.

                  • Your first truth of this conversation. 😉

                  • Wise up. The jag off is you. He made the corrections with no snark. If you are dumb enough to use depraved rather than deprived, you need education son.

                  • Don’t worry, there’s another guy who criticized your spelling, and he made a spelling error while doing so. There’s a few guys that make it a point to jump all over people to make themselves feel better. Their self esteem is low. In fact, those culprits have all appeared in this thread. For the record, Stephen Brooks is not one of those guys. I’ll let you figure out who the other one’s are.

              • I appreciate your need to police the site for grammatical and typo errors. if you’d like, perhaps you could also troll around looking for syntax errors as well since you have sooooo much free time devoted to other people’s typing skills. PS I’m sure there are a couple in this response to get you started.

              • I thought for a moment it was referring to something that had been inexorably touched and ruined by Cam Bonifay, but i guess that would be Bonifaid vs. bonified, er Bonifay’d

              • There was a great opening for a fantastic joke there Stephen, but you took the grammar nazi path, which is never the right choice 🙁

            • The word bonified is neat (thought spelled wrong), but in reality he’s a guy who struggles against RHP who plays good defense. Value, but not quality SP value. You put him alongside a quality other piece or two and its something, but Jordy isnt bringing back a top 3 pitcher alone.

              • as late as 2014, Jordy Mercer by Fangaphs was rated the 10th best defensive SS in all of baseball and 13th overall.

                • And then 2015 happened, you see.

                  Jordy Mercer has been worth 1.81 WAR per 600 PA thus far in his career.

                  Wilmer Flores has been worth…drum roll please…1.81 WAR per 600 PA thus far in his career.

                  Baseball is so neat sometimes.

                  • It’s true, it’s been dragged down by a poor offensive showing this year. He’s had poor offensive numbers in 2015. But that withstanding, he is still a significant defensive upgrade over Tejada, Flores and Cabrera. And based on past performance, his bat has never been a concern amongst the Pirates front office, according to them. The expectation is that he would regain his value. He would be a very valuable trade piece if they so choose.

                    • His bat has never been a concern, except for when they benched him this spring because of it.

                      We can go ahead and agree that we’re way, way too far apart on this one to reach any sort of meaningful conclusion. Don’t let me get to you, by the way. No harm meant, just busting balls.

                    • Jordy Mercer is not a very good major league shortstop…he has one year with an OPS over .700. One. And that was when he was a part-time player with only 330 ABs. Mercer has 841 ABs with a sub .700 OPS and you want to bank on, what, his 333 ABs two years ago?

                      He’s really not all that much better than Wilmer Flores.

                    • League average OPS for SS in in .670s. Mercer’s problem is he cannot hit RHP and doesn’t make up for it with his glove. He is an okay 2nd tier starter if you can upgrade you do it, considering his age he doesn’t have much of any trade value.

                  • So the value in crying is what?

                • So a light hitting SS with good but not elite defense. Why would that elicit notions of controllable upper rotation arms 1-1?

              • Is (THOUGHT spelled wrong ) ? Perhaps THOUGHT is interchangeable with THOUGH. Anything is possible in this day and age.

                • That was sarcasm on my part (or intentional irony i suppose), but its really not important at this point. I dont really care to argue since i gotta go cry due to low self esteem.

                  You got me, ser.

        • The Bucs would have to include a good pitching prospect along with Mercer to get Cashner or Ross. As for Shields, there is no way they want to take on his contract. Shields has at least 3 1/3 years left and at least $68M over that time span.

      • I think that’s fine, assuming you don’t put kang at short with morton on the mound. With Morton, you put mercer at short, kang at 3rd, and Jhay at second due to range factors. WIth lefties on the mound against us, you put Jhay either at right field or 2nd base, with mercer at short and kang at third. With Righties on the mount and Morton not starting, you put Mercer at short, JHay at 3rd, and give kang off half the games, and give JHay off the other half.

    • 2015 WAR per Baseball Reference:

      Kang 3.8
      Walker 1.7
      Polanco 1.6
      Harrison 0.7
      Mercer 0.0
      Ramirez -0.8

    • I favor Kang to SS, Harrison to 3B (assuming hand doesn’t affect his hitting). Florimon out. SRod to the DL with a stiff neck until Sep 1.

  • Tim, not clear about this:
    “He just cleared waivers, which means no team in baseball wanted him for free at his current salary. So it would be difficult to get his salary from another team if he does elect free agency.”

    If another team picked him up on waivers, wouldn’t *they* have been responsible for his salary, not the Pirates? And if he refuses the assignment, then the Pirates aren’t responsible for his salary. If he refuses because he’s pissed about how the Pirates treated him, then there might still be a market for him, just not at the price of his (now-forfeited) salary.

    • I think he means free as in not giving up anybody/prospects

    • He could have been picked up for the price of a faxed piece of paper or key click, just on the hook for remaining salary. If Worley now refuses assignment, he will also be refusing some portion of his remaining 900k. If there was a market for his current cost, he would’ve been claimed. If he becomes free agent, he will likely now get less. I think I just restated what you did, so looks like you are already on the same page.

    • We didn’t “waive” him, we designated him for assignment. The difference is, if another team claims him- they are claiming him at his current salary, taking that burden from us. When no team claims him, we have 10 days to send him to AAA, trade, or release him (which would force us to pay his salary)

      • He can choose to elect free agency, which would allow him to find a better long term option to remain in a rotation, but at a likely significantly lower guaranteed salary. It’s a matter really of whether getting a guaranteed chance at starting is more important to him than guaranteed money on a contender in the playoffs.

      • Actually, we did both. Designating a player for assignment removes him from the roster temporarily, but the team must “assign” him (via trade or demotion to the minors) or unconditionally release him within ten days. And if the player is to be demoted to the minors (other than via optional assignment) or, after July 31, traded, he must clear waivers.
        The Pirates designated Worley for assignment on July 30. That meant he had to be gone by August 9 (Sunday). Because waivers are only processed on weekdays, they had to place him on waivers by August 5, so that teams could enter claims by August 7 (Friday).
        No team entered a claim, so he cleared waivers as of 4PM on August 7 and was assigned outright to Indianapolis. He had the option to decline this assignment and declare free agency.
        Note that all types of waivers (outright assignment, unconditional release, or trade) are separate in the eyes of MLB, so must be sought explicitly (i.e., if you want to release a player, you have to seek unconditional release waivers, not outright assignment waivers).

        • true, dfa is preample to assigning them or outright release. i was referring to unconditional waivers i apologize for not being more exact

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