These last few days have been a bit of a blur for me, between not being able to sleep due to a non-stop 100 degree fever, to finally being able to sleep and doing nothing but that. For as much as being sick really sucks, it has to be the best diet plan. In the last two days, I’ve had a bottle of juice, two chicken fingers, some green beans, and a yogurt. And even that felt like way too much food. Fortunately, I’m feeling better this evening. Not feeling totally well, but any predictions about a future John Dreker-led Pirates Prospects site can be put on hold for now.
I woke up today around 12:30 to see several messages from John wondering if I was alive, and news of the Jesse Biddle trade. I recognized the name, but knew very little of where his career was at right now. So my first thought was that he was the solution to the left-handed relief issue in the bullpen. It was kind of fitting that the Pirates would turn to Philadelphia again for this solution.
After reading John’s writeup, I realized this wasn’t the case. Biddle had Tommy John surgery and will miss the 2016 season. He’s also a guy who has had struggles in the upper levels of the minors, primarily with his control. So this move had nothing to do with the 2016 season, and was primarily focused on the 2017 season and beyond.
That’s not a bad thing. Right now, all Pirates fans care about is the 2016 season, as they should. The Pirates look like a team that will contend in 2016. But it’s the job of a GM to focus on the upcoming season and the future. This was a move that gave the Pirates the potential to get better in the future, while giving up almost nothing in the present.
I really liked Yoervis Medina, and he was one of my favorite low-key bullpen additions this off-season. But the current bullpen looks to be Mark Melancon, Tony Watson, Arquimedes Caminero, Jared Hughes, Neftali Feliz, Juan Nicasio, and one other reliever. That other reliever could be a lefty, or could be someone from the Triple-A group like John Holdzkom, Guido Knudson, or Jorge Rondon. Medina would have been in this group, and would have been one of the top options, but they clearly have other options, and we’re talking about the final spot in the bullpen. Losing Medina probably won’t impact the 2016 team at all, outside of a very minor downgrade in bullpen depth.
Meanwhile, Biddle was one of the top prospects in the game two years ago, but his control issues have dropped him off the lists. The Pirates will now take over his Tommy John recovery, which is a good thing. They’ve used the Tommy John rehab period to start from scratch with a player’s mechanics and work on some key issues. In this case, they can spend the 2016 season totally rebuilding Biddle from the ground up, with the hope that this will lead to improved control and the revival of his former top prospect status. If it works, they’ve got a potential starting pitcher who was projected to be a future number three starter a few years ago. If it doesn’t work, then the upside was worth risking a middle reliever who has been designated for assignment twice this off-season, and cleared waivers once.
That type of low risk/high reward move is something the Pirates should always be doing, even if it doesn’t help them in the immediate season.
**Pittsburgh Pirates 2016 Top Prospects: #3 – Josh Bell. We’re getting close to wrapping up the top 20 countdown. If you buy your copy of the Prospect Guide, you’ll get all of the reports, along with our grades, and the reports of the 21-50 prospects and every other player in the system. It’s the most information you can find on the Pirates’ system, and the cheapest price you can find for a prospect book this time of year, especially with the Top Prospect and Annual discounts.
**Pittsburgh Pirates 2016 Top Prospects: #4 – Jameson Taillon. Taillon’s report is always my favorite one to write. That’s because I’ve always got the most information on him out of any player. A big reason for this is because he entered the system right around the time this turned into a full-time job for me. So I’ve been interviewing him and discussing his progress from day one. It also helps that he’s a great interview with honest answers. My biggest challenge each year is trying to fit all of the information on Taillon onto one page.
**Pirates Acquire LHP Jesse Biddle For Yoervis Medina, DFA Schugel. All the details on the Biddle trade.