Pirates Discussion: What a Relief, A New Market Inefficiency

The Pittsburgh Pirates got Oneil Cruz for Tony Watson.

Cruz’s ascension to the majors, and the upcoming trade deadline got me to wonder, what if the Pirates were able to consistently mine and develop farm-to-market relievers?

Watson for Cruz is one very good example of this process, and it piqued the thought.

During Neal Huntington’s tenure, he often showed an ability to piece together a bullpen. More often than not, those pieces came from outside acquisition’s as opposed to in-house. Of the few in-house success stories, most were starters turned reliever — like Watson, Jared Hughes, and Justin Wilson.

Wilson was the only one of the three drafted by Huntington, but the transition for Watson and Hughes happened under his watch.

Watson was flipped for Oneil Cruz and Angel German. Wilson was traded to the Yankees for Francisco Cervelli, who was a key piece to the Pirates 2015 season. Jared Hughes was eventually released March of 2017. A dominant Brad Lincoln (another starter turned reliever) in 2012 was traded for Travis Snider, who was a very effective bench piece in 2014.

The current outlay of the upper minors indicates the tides could turn into having a plethora of useful bullpen arms, mostly from starters turned relievers. Some of the candidates include Travis MacGregor, Osvaldo Bido, Hunter Stratton, Noe Toribio, J.C. Flowers, and Colin Selby (although hurt again). Then there’s the possibility Luis Ortiz or Carmen Mlodzinski are eventually converted. Maybe Cody Bolton to preserve health.

Here’s where it can get sticky though, and subjective. Grading returns for relievers. What do you consider a solid return?

Would you take, at the time, 21 year old LHP Joey Wentz (former first round CBA pick by Braves) in Double-A, and 24 year old power hitting OF Travis Demeritte (Former first round pick by Rangers) in Double-A, for one and a half years of Shane Greene?

Austin Nola was the bigger ticket at the time, as a controllable catcher, but Mariners threw in Dan Altavilla and Austin Adams, mediocre controllable relievers, for an increased return that netted them Taylor Trammel (Former first round CBA pick by Reds), Ty France (who might be the best player of the trade), Andres Munoz (finally healthy and pitching well out of bullpen), and Luis Torrens.

Chris Stratton, another failed — or we’ll say reallocated — starter to reliever had been an effective bullpen arm for two and a half seasons prior to 2022 in Pittsburgh: 156 IP with a 3.69 ERA. But 2022 has shown us how quickly the tides can turn with relievers, if not just luck, as his FIP and xFIP are more in-line with his numbers over those previously mentioned 156 IP.

Duane Underwood Jr showed promise, but was essentially used till his arm fell off, and hasn’t been able to remain healthy in 2022.

There are a lot reliever trades. A lot (Best tracker I could find was Spotrac Trade Tracker). It’s difficult to really sift through, as there are so many different variables to trades. Present production, track record, control, LHP vs RHP, etc.

Everyone is searching for their Clay Holmes, or Casey Sadler for that matter, who had a near as dominant 40.1 IP in 2021 for Mariners.

So, you keep a David Bednar for now till another arm showcases an ability to handle late inning relief. Perhaps Yerry De Los Santos. Otherwise, I think all other names should be on the table as they see success in the majors, for the right price of course. Teams are always looking for bullpen help, and especially teams with deep playoff run aspirations.

BREWERS @ PIRATES

Time: 4:05 PM EST

Pirates Starter: Bryse Wilson, (0-4, 8.29)

Brewers Starter: TBD

Wilson notes: He’s pitched well his last two starts in Indianapolis, since his previous spot start for Pirates. In those last two starts in Triple-A: 12.1 IP,  4 ER’s, 2 BB’s, and 13 K’s. The issue has been translating that to the majors. 

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Pirates Discussion
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PiratePrimate

The Pirates aren’t scheduled for the 4th because Nickles receives more revenue sharing for not playing on federal holidays. The other owners are happy to share money with him if he’ll stick it in his pocket and not on the field. It makes the Pirates less competitive and easier on the other teams who are paying Nickles not to be competitive. It’s a criminal scam.

Last edited 1 month ago by PiratePrimate
ArkyWags

Way to tell us you’re looking for a conspiracy where there is none.

PiratePrimate

The union has repeatedly complained about the Pirates not funding a competitive roster. MLB owners, on the other hand, are completely in support of such behavior from a half-dozen teams. It decreases the competition and makes it easier for them throughout a 162 game schedule. No conspiracy? O.K. Call it what you want but it’s wrong.

Last edited 1 month ago by PiratePrimate
john_fluharty

He doesn’t make the schedule.

RAS TN

No game on the 4th…Unamerican, anyway still waiting for pitching matchups for the 5th and 6th…

Wilbur Miller

Pitching schedule for the Yankees’ series:

Tues — Diego Castillo 2 innings, Daniel Vogelbach 1 inning, Bligh Madris 1 inning
Wed — Josh VanMeter 3 innings, Tyler Heineman 2 innings

jon6er

Yeah someone told Nutting to close the “park” for the day because everyone would be at picnic’s and family gatherings so he wouldn’t make any money.

roberto

Do you how many teams’ fans complain that that the owner is cheap? I think it’s 29. This trope needs to be dropped in the dustbin of history. For extra credit identify the e outlier.

jon6er

Taxpayers build their stadiums and when the citizens and local politicians give pushback the owners threaten to move the team. So they are actually worse than cheap!

roberto

No idea where the extra e came from.

jon6er

I really don’t see any reasons at all not to just leave Cruz at ss till the seasons over before thinking seriously about positional changes. He seems like he’s in a really good place right now. It’s not like his defense at ss will have any consequences in regards to costing a playoff spot.

john_fluharty

Honestly he looks pretty good at short. Just leave him there.

PiratePrimate

He’s got too many tools being wasted at SS. Takes too much work there that he should give to hitting. Hang out in RF, blow runners away with your arm and rob hits with your speed. Stand out there and think about how far you’re going to hit the ball the next time up. The Giants debated this very question about Willie Mays 75 years ago right now. No one had ever seen a player so gifted with speed, hands, a tremendous arm and the power like Mays had. Luckily, his father had taught him to play EVERY position and the Giants decided the same thing the Pirates need to decide. Stick Cruz in the outfield and let that bat do the talking. Don’t wear him out at SS! That’s crazy! Especially when they have someone like Peguero about ready.

jon6er

He’ll get there but why push it.

PiratePrimate

I agree. It’s not that important right now. But he’ll be better served in the OF whether he’s smart enough to realize that or not.

jon6er

I agree. I watched almost all of his games at Indy and he just seems so much more engaged up here and so far is not making the unforced errors he was there.

skliesen

How much better is this offense with Cruz in it? Certainly helps to have Reynolds playing well, too.

Wilbur Miller

Makes a difference when you can get a run here and there even when the lineup isn’t hitting well. Power is the indispensable element on offense.

ArkyWags

It’s the ultimate “if you’re gonna do ONE thing well,” skill on offense.

skliesen

Since Cruz and Madris were promoted, they’ve scored 70 runs in 13 games (5.4 runs/game). Before Cruz/Madris, 221 runs in 65 games (3.4 runs/game).

PiratePrimate

Imagine what they’d do with a real leadoff hitter.

jon6er

Are you trying to ‘Bae’ me into an answer😏

PiratePrimate

I’m ready to get two Top 100 pitchers for Reynolds or the Yankees, Dodgers or Braves three best prospects and then we’ll see how Bae works out at the top of the order and in CF

jon6er

He’s fun to watch and he sat last night so I’m looking forward to seeing him play tonight. He’s one of those guys that we always see against the Pirates where if a guy strikes out and it’s a passed ball he ends up on first base. He’s always gets that extra base with his speed and baseball instincts.

PiratePrimate

I hope that’s not his preferred way of getting on base

jon6er

Hitting over .300 with 15 dbl’s, 4 triples and 7 hr’s 19 sb’s in 262 ab’s probably not.

jon6er

Sweet victory after yesterday!

skliesen

Bednar starting the inning w a 4 pitch walk isn’t giving me a warm fuzzy after the other night.

jon6er

Me too, but he made me feel better in the end, lol.

skliesen

Hate to admit, but I had zero faith in Bednar after the 1st batter.

jon6er

Trust me I was on the same page and am pleasantly surprised he bounced back. He still isn’t quite as lights out as he was so I still have some reservations about his health.

RAS TN

Can the bullpen save this???

PirateRican21

No sweat!

PirateRican21

PirateRican21

Have a day Castillo. Power is good, hope you regain your hitting tool as you gain experience.

roibert.kasperski

Hellava slide by Uriah

roibert.kasperski

Happy Crowe Day Y’all!!!

![]comment image)_

jon6er

How dangerous is it walking a guy ahead of Rowdy Tellez?

john_fluharty

Was he the dude that was hit by a pich earlier? His elbow is over the plate and the ball was a strike. I wonder what robo amps will do in those situations.

I’m guessing that it would be a strike but the ump will be able to override it – not that he should since it was a strike.

Last edited 1 month ago by john_fluharty
jon6er

It’s going to be the same situation as in it will be up to the human umpire to call whether the hitter got hit on purpose or it’s just another case of a guy getting hit by a pitch that was a strike.

roibert.kasperski

One would think that having body parts within the strike zone is attempting to be hit by the pitch.

jon6er

Sure is. And I don’t remember what Pirate hitter it was but last year a ump made a call against the hitter that he didn’t try to get out of the way. Hopefully when an umpire hears it called a strike he’ll realize the batter was in the zone.

john_fluharty

Good point

Born4rf

Fingers crossed but Wilson has made a great recovery since a horrible second pitch. Love the topic today. Always in favor of churning relievers. Best Pirate trade ever: Ricardo Rincon for Brian Giles.

PiratePrimate

Right up there with the Adam Frazier for Jack Suwinski trade

john_fluharty

And we got Marcano too, and he has looked pretty good this year in his limited time.

roberto

So I was there when Giles capped the Bucs’ totally implausible comeback. Gotta go with that trade.

john_fluharty

Saw it on TV. Love to watch that 9th inning again.

jon6er

Okay Shelton getting involved in the game now, could be interesting.

jon6er

Complete game by Wilson right, lol.

1979andCounting

There’s the quality start we desperately needed.

john_fluharty

They did mention something about minor mechanical changes on the broadcast, and said he was throwing a couple miles per hour faster then earlier this year Cooper stop okay. Nothing more than that.

Last edited 1 month ago by john_fluharty
john_fluharty

The “Cooper stop” was me yelling at my grandson LOL

roberto

I am jealous. Hoping for my first grandchild in December.

john_fluharty

I love being a grandpa. 😀

jon6er

I swear the edges he’s hitting and keeping the ball down for the most part was the way he pitched against the Pirates with Atlanta.

jon6er

I love it when these guys find it but it just doesn’t seem to stick.

john_fluharty

He probably bought himself some more time in the rotation with this start so we’ll get a chance to see if it sticks.

jon6er

He really looked like a guy in control today. Nice to see and I hope he can keep it up. I’m really looking forward to a bounce back from Roansy.

PiratePrimate

He puts it together and he’s one of the greats. He’s still no Willie Mays but he’s as close as I’ve seen since Willie Mays. It’s the old grading on a scale of 5 being the best and grading 5 skills, Hit, Hit for Power, Run, Arm, Defense. Cruz has 3. Are the hit skill and defensive skill in there at a position somewhere other than SS where he can excel? He could be one of the all time greats.

Last edited 1 month ago by PiratePrimate
john_fluharty

With his arm he could definitely handle right field, but he’d have to want to play there.

Last edited 1 month ago by john_fluharty
skliesen

Cruz hits HR’s at the speed of sound…maybe the speed of light. Either way, the only sound you hear is the ball pleading for mercy after he hits it squarely.

john_fluharty

Wilson is doing an excellent job of hitting the corners and edges today.

john_fluharty

I love how Cruz just casually flicks the ball and it’s a bullet to first base.

1979andCounting

112 EV for Cruz! This lineup is spreading the long ball around.

PiratePrimate

Gotta love Chavis as the RH bat of a 1B platoon

roibert.kasperski

Boom!

1979andCounting

On the topic of relievers, Rich Rod’s 80 game suspension is over any day now. He’d be worth $350k signing, couple weeks in minors, he’d be up after AS break.

skliesen

I vote yes.

roibert.kasperski

I see the Bucs are not the only team that get burned on the contact play…..

1979andCounting

I’m looking forward to seeing how Cruz plays a ball like Chavis’, so well played by Adames.

roibert.kasperski

Kolton Wong is so average against every other team except the Pirates. Always responsible for runs against the Bucs.

john_fluharty

KY looks good in that shirt. Block does not.

1979andCounting

Good test today for Wilson. He pitched well last year for Bucs, 4.91 era (not great) but now he’s sporting the 8.29 era! Had 1.24 WHIP vs 1.84 this year. BAA was .256 vs .331 this year. He’s thrown 625 pitches in 33 IP this year vs 603 pitches in 40 IP last year, so he’s going deeper into counts and he’s walked 50% more batters in less innings.

He throws 5 pitches…..why?? Throw 2 or 3 quality pitches rather than 4 or 5 meh pitches. This isn’t looking good for Marin. A top 100 prospect with Braves is regressing here.

AdministrativeSky236

Minor league DFA? Lets scoop him, why not

RAS TN

The question to ask is why did Atlanta trade him to the Pirates if he was so promising???

1979andCounting

They liked Rich Rod. They needed some pieces to get to the playoffs and win.

Shultzie31

Mercifully i wasn’t able to watch last night but upon seeing the box scores the way Shelton handled vieaux is disgusting. I’ve run out of apologies for that guy.

john_fluharty

I was always kind of on the fence with Shelton, but last night I fell off. I just hope Vieaux doesn’t end up with arm troubles because of this.

Last edited 1 month ago by john_fluharty
PiratePrimate

The real news after last night is what will the Pirates receive for Bryan Reynolds? He’s not going to sign a Hayes-like extension and Nickles isn’t going to give him the minimum $125-$150 million contract MLB hitters like Reynolds demand. What have the Yankees got? What have the Dodgers got? He’s gone.

mikeschalke

If they’re willing to overpay let’s get it done. 2 top 100 prospects or 1 plus a young starter.

PiratePrimate

I think that’s what’s being offered and it ain’t enough. He’s got three more years and a very favorable contract next year.

roibert.kasperski

Reynolds will need an offer to knock his socks off at this point. With his age this will be his best shot in FA. Depends on what he truly wants.

Catch_22

Man, did I feel for Vieaux last night. You could see the look on his face that he wanted out of there. I remember several years ago during the Meals game vs Atlanta they did something similar to Daniel McCutchen.

Seriously, Vieaux is not an MLB arm, dude has no stuff, and I can’t wait when we’re done doing tryouts on the MLB level…It’s pathetic and embarrassing

PiratePrimate

I have only one question. What runs through Nickles mind when he has his largest crowd of the season show up for an exhibition game between a major league team like the Brewers and a disorganized clown car like the Pirates? Is he ever embarrassed or does that much money free you up from the responsibility of answering for your greed? I can’t believe the City of Pittsburgh hasn’t initiated a fraud investigation against the SOB

Wilbur Miller

It’s a very pertinent question and one that should be occurring to GMBS and Dumbo as well. Their answer for every embarrassment is “teaching moments” or “schedules” or whatever. Does it ever occur to any of them what damage they’re doing to the franchise? Did GMBS take the job because he knew Nickels would give him carte blanche to fuck up often and spectacularly with zero accountability?

john_fluharty

What is GMBS? Greedy monkey blind squirrel?

PiratePrimate

They’re well paid to shield Nickles from the truth and fade the heat. The simple truth is there’s $25-$35 million dollars missing from the Pirates payroll which would alleviate the front office from trying to get by with independent league type pitching at the bottom of the 40 man. It’s a shit show owned by a shit head who’s been given one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful, ballpark in the country and he abuses it and defrauds the city, the fans and baseball.

RAS TN

Btw the All-Star break can’t come soon enough for the Pirate’s pitching staff, not that it will help a whole lot but it might get them to August…

RAS TN

Just another nail in the coffin for Shelton this needs to be his last year managing if that is really what he is doing to the Pirates…

Question: Isn’t there a limit on how many times a player can be brought up and down in a year…

PirateRican21

Yes, due to Tampa doing it a bunch, but I forget the amount.

RAS TN

I am thinking it’s 5 times…

john_fluharty

Is that a recent change?

PirateRican21

I’m thinking you are right, that’s the number that pop on my skull.

Jeff

Anyone think the Bucs owe Vieaux a stint on DL to earn mlb money and service time as opposed to dropping down to AAA?
really did him a disservice keeping him out for 50+ pitches in one inning.
pirates aren’t in pennant race, no need to save a bullpen arm for today.
should have used one that 8th inning to relieve him.

PiratePrimate

The blame is all Nickles for the joke of a team payroll that doesn’t allow the organization to stock the 40 man with real major leaguers.

bscat

At the very least, a public apology would be nice. This nonsense about saving the bullpen for today is typical of Shelton (btw . . . you could go to Indy/Altoona for help).

john_fluharty

I wonder if that’s the most pitches thrown by relief pitcher in a single inning this year. I’m guessing it is, but there’s probably other managers out there that abuse arms just as badly.

PirateRican21

A little surprised that Shelton bullpen management is surprising anyone.

Wilbur Miller

Not me. Vieaux was “scheduled” for one inning, so it had to be one inning. The stoopid is going to consume the earth if nobody stops it.

I WAS gratified, and a bit surprised, to see Stumpf really rip Dumbo over this. Even Cutch questioned it.

Anyway, they really owe Vieaux. No doubt his reward will be getting dfa’d.

john_fluharty

If his arm blows up would he be allowed to sue the Pirates and Shelton?

1979andCounting

Probably not. Depends on the CBA language about player safety.

PirateRican21

Maybe he forgot that is a 3 batter minimum, not 3 outs.

jon6er

Ah, come on Shelton was stretching him out for a start can’t you see the brilliance.

/s

Last edited 1 month ago by jon6er
Wilbur Miller

The schedule is the schedule. Without one, the manager might have to think.

jon6er

Shelton wanted to outdo John Russel who left Maholm in for 54 pitches in 2010.

Wilbur Miller

I think Dumbo wakes up every day and tries to think of some way to be worse than Russell.

jon6er

He’s really good at it though.

Wilbur Miller

He wants to be the second part of Dumb and Dumber.

john_fluharty

I am all for giving marginal guys a shot, but they’re people too. What kind of psychological harm could letting him get clobbered like that do?

Last edited 1 month ago by john_fluharty

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