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Monday, December 5, 2022

Weekly Pirates Discussion: In Retrospect

Sometimes it can be very easy to find ourselves becoming attached to individual players.

In other times, it can be difficult to trust in a player that may be seeing a breakthrough.

We spend a lot time debating trades as they happen, and even years later, whether the trade was won or lost.

Baseball is ever-changing. What we thought mattered 10 years ago might not be the case now. Mitch Keller — someone who the fan base has slowly began trusting in — began seeing success after utilizing a sinker, a pitch that was synonymous with Ray Searage and the demise of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

I liked the Neil Walker for Jon Niese trade. I thought they should have gotten more, but that didn’t deter from the fact that Jon Niese was coming off a slight down year after five straight years of 2-3 fWAR. Think about that for a second. We’re currently DEMANDING the Pirates add some sort of 2-3 fWAR pitcher starting pitcher.

I didn’t despise the Chris Archer or Francisco Liriano trades. I was lukewarm and became a little more upset when Reese McGuire and Shane Baz were added to their respective trade. Both trades in the long run essentially became washes.

One aspect that I’ve enjoyed since stumbling upon Pirates Prospects is being able to closely follow the growth and development of so many individual players. Most know that I’m a huge advocate for Cal Mitchell, Yerry De Los Santos, and Blake Sabol. At one point I was a lead table-pounder for Adam Frazier, Chad Kuhl, and (yes I’ll admit it) even Max Moroff.

Maybe Mason Martin peaks in Triple-A, but that doesn’t take away from the excitement following his climb up the organizational ladder. One year he’s getting demoted from struggling at the plate, and the next he’s hitting walk-off three-run home runs in back-to-back games of a double header for Greensboro.

I watched every single 2019 Cody Bolton start. Every single one. I’ve been waiting for the moment he make his Pirates debut.

I used to not care for what name was below the big league level, aside from the random top prospect like Andrew McCutchen. That’s if I even knew who a kid was before he debuted. Next, I found myself blowing off softball games because I HAD to be at the bar to catch Gregory Polanco or Tyler Glasnow’s debut.

Think back to the Christian Yelich trade. The Miami Marlins got a huge haul from the Milwaukee Brewers. Lewis Brinson was a recent Top 100 prospect that had seen early struggles. Monte Harrison was a toolsy outfielder that eventually found himself among the Top 100. Isan Diaz was a power hitting second baseman that broke into the Top 100. Then there was Jordan Yamamoto who actually had a rather successful 2019 campaign before not being able to find his way back.

I bring this trade up not to compare against Pirates trades, but as, “We really have no idea what’s going to happen”. Also because at the time the Marlins Triple-A affiliate was the New Orleans Baby Cakes and 2019 was a fantastic year prospect-wise.

This week’s discussion is more for reflection and in retrospect. Think about some trades that either made you instantly grab for your heart medication, or one that you thought was a perfect fit. Think about a prospect that you either thought had no chance, or one you thought was a no-doubter. What are your thoughts now on said trade or prospect?

Pirates social media has really circled around the prospects this go-round, which I’m all for. At the same time it feels people are putting too much trust in the expectations that there will be no slip-ups. There may be some prospects that most expect to succeed that don’t, and then there will be a Luis Ortiz type that very few had a book on who steps up and fans say, “Wait, who is this guy?”

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Raised in Cranberry Twp, PA, Jeff attended Kent State University and worked in Cleveland and Pittsburgh, before moving to New Orleans in September of 2012. His background is as an Engineering Designer, but he has always had a near unhealthy passion for Pittsburgh sports. Hockey and Baseball are his 1A and 1B, combined with his mathematical background, it's led to Jeff's desire in diving into analytics. Jeff is known as Bucs'N'Pucks in the comments, and began writing for Pirates Prospects in 2022 after contributing so many useful bits of information in the comment section.


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Pena wins WS MVP as rookie SS. Special player. Is Cruz paying any attention? This narrative that we have to wait years and years to develop in the majors just gets old sometimes.


I cannot believe that anybody thought the Archer trade was OK. All I remember is being launched out of my chair and screaming at the TV when the trade was announced. It was by far the angriest I ever was at this organization. To this day my stomach turns when it comes to mind.


Including Shane Baz did it for me. Even had Archer been useful, it would have been a bad trade.


Where are all my Robinson Diaz fans?! 🙃




There is NO Way in my mind that NH was anything of a GM. He inherited a good group of prospects and failed to sustain any winning. OK Ok Nutto! NH had no resume’ to be a GM. I am not saying that BC is the God’s gift to the Pirates but he has been building a farm system and has made mistakes with his dumpster dives. But I feel more positive about their future than at any time during NH regime even when we made the playoffs. I agree. BC needs to trade some prospects like Gonzales and Priester to get ML talent. That is where we have been deficient in relying totally on the promise of prospects. But ultimately it is the ability of a GM to create a sustained winning franchise and not a one and done like NH.


Which players give you hope for the future?


Former president of the Gaby Sanchez and Connor Joe fan clubs.

Pedro broke my heart.

Took about a season and a half too long to accept Nick Kingham was never the same following TJS.

Proudly stood firm in belief that Chad Kuhl isn’t a starter which time and time again proves to be true.

Last edited 1 month ago by NMR

Jeff Locke wasn’t just lucky.

Jose Tabata was underrated.

So many bad takes!


When I was a teenager I couldn’t grasp the Tony Pena for LaValliere, Van Slyke, and Dunne. But what a haul! A recent article listed the Rick Rhoden for Drabek, Fisher, Guante, Clements, and Easley as the 4th worst trade in Yankee history – oh yeah! Where is the old Syd Thrift magic? Interesting note – some of these guys had some initial experience or success (and were not just minor league prospects) at the time of the trade. Current analytics may not permit these trades today.


Payback for Willie Randolph.


Let’s not forget when discussing the Archer acquisition, it was loved by fans for the first couple of weeks until it didn’t work out as hoped for that season. I do realize their is quite a bit selective amnesia when it comes to that. LOL


Not every fan loved the Archer trade. But many did.
I’d say the Archer trade was not as awful as the Aram gift to the Cubs. For one thing, McClatchyfield also sent money to the Cubs to seal the deal. Another stinker: Letting Bonds walk without making an offer. That was bad because it was Bonds. Trading for Archer was bad because Archer was purchased with prospects, the life blood of a team like the Pirates, and becausevhe was on the downside of his career. But the Aram gift, a player who would be a member of the Hall of The Very good if such a place existed, traded a guy and money to a division rival and set said rival up for a decade of plus hitting at an important defensive position. Then Cub fans spit in our faces because of this trade.

Edit: Two other trades of recent memory can be included here: The Liriano salary dump trade (Coonington) and the Matt Morris trade.

So, my vote still will be for the Aram gift.

Last edited 1 month ago by steve_zielinski

I hated the Archer trade saying his best years were in his past.

Wilbur Miller

The fans were ecstatic at getting Matt Morris, too. Name recognition is great until reality intrudes.


I forgot about that one. I recall reading at the time that Littlefield wanted to stick it to Nutting before he was fired. Nasty business.

b mcferren

1991 offseason Bonds for Dave Justice, Mark Wholers and Ryan Klesko is another “what could have been”


Good to see another Max Moroff table pounder, Jeff. I hated both the Archer and Liriano trades, but like you, I really liked the PRBW/ Niese trade.


I think with the savings from the Liriano deal, they signed Freese…I think.

Wasn’t a good look to trade prospects for salary relief, but seemingly everyone is doing it now.

Additionally, the prospects involved (McGuire & Ramirez) haven’t amounted to much.

Somehow Drew Hutchison is still making MLB rosters

Wilbur Miller

Harold Ramirez had a 119 OPS+ for the Rays this year in 435 PAs. That would’ve been second on the Pirates, seven points behind Reynolds.


He’s turned into a good player but I can’t imagine we would have stuck with him long enough that he would have been that player with us even if we hadn’t traded him when we did.


Me? Well Awkward Baby Giraffe (aka Gregory Polanco) broke my heart.


Okay enough. Definition of “a wash” is something is equal and that one side does not have an advantage. How, how, how does Archer for Glasgow, Meadows and Baz come even close to being that? Denial might be a wonderful way to avoid dealing with reality but come on. Why not simply admit that it was a disaster and move on from there instead of saying both sides benefitted equally, which they did not. You wouldn’t want Glasgow and Baz on the current Pirate roster to say nothing of Meadows or the starting infielder the Rays got when they traded him?


Wow those are some rose colored glasses. Even ignoring the bright futures all 3 players still have, howabout 12.9 WAR vs. 1.5 at a cost of about $20M. It was and is a horrible trade by any measure.

The Liriano trade is also awful but for an entirely different reason. They literally paid prospects to a team to save Nutting money. There was no baseball return of any kind. Just because they got “lucky” that Reese and maybe Harold didnt pan out doesnt change the fact that it was a direct stab in the back after Coonelly said they would spend if people come. We came and filled PNC and they did that in return.


Not sure I get your second paragraph. Attendance was down by 10% in 2016 and 20% in 2017 relative to peak 2015. Additionally, payroll peaked in 2015, dipped in 2016, then jumped back up to peak levels in 2017.

If this team could consistently draw >2.5M in attendance per year, payroll would almost never dip below $100M when trying to be “competitive”.


I think it’s the value of the players who were dealt.

I’m guessing they could’ve landed Gausman straight up for Meadows.

Hindsight is 20-20 and I loved the trade when it was announced.


i had irrational love for Alen Hanson circa 2013


One trade I recall liking at the time despite being a big Jason Bay fan was getting LaRoche, Moss, Hansen, and Morris for him. I was probably influenced by what some national writers were saying (LaRoche best player in trade, Morris closer stuff, …). Trades like this one and the Yelich trade, among many others, have tempered my enthusiasm for trades involving a star for a package of prospects. Another example, I liked the Taillon trade, but Escotto, CSN, and Yajure were major reasons for that and none of them appear to be impact players. Hopefully Contreras saves that deal. We have a lot riding on Peguero and Endy to save those trades of stars.

In any case, I hope we see Cherington do a reverse (for the Pirates) trade this winter–package some of our decent prospects for a proven quality major leaguer (one with at least 2 years of control). It might hurt initially because we like to dream on prospects, but chances are that we’ll never miss the guys dealt away. I still remember one prospect writer calling Brent Lillibridge the best player in the Adam LaRoche trade and I worrying that the trade would haunt us for years…


Aaron Civale??


I don’t think the Archer trade is a “wash” in the long run.


If you like Cherington and Shelton better than Huntington and Hurdle (I don’t), then you should consider that trade a win as it contributed to the change in management more than anything else did. 😉


That’s the only reason I can even think about that trade. I am a huge Huntington fan and sometimes wonder how these last 4 years would have went if that trade wasn’t made and Huntington was still the GM.
On the other hand being stuck in the middle seemed like the best possibility and I really like how cherrington has fully committed to this rebuild. I’m super excited for the next 5 years of pirates baseball. If the pirates can somehow win the division and make multiple playoff runs over the next 5 years then I’ll look back on the archer trade as the beginning of the rebuild that eventually lead to the success, rather than a horrible trade that lead to the firing of a good GM in Huntington. Time will tell.


Time will tell, but I don’t think Cherington is anywhere near the GM Huntington was. NH had one hell of a run and he inherited a trainwreck of an organization.


One thing I liked about Huntington was even in the early days he wasn’t afraid to say _he_ had to do better to help get the team to winning. When the Bay trade didn’t work out as hoped/expected, NH was quoted as saying they were evaluating where they went wrong to try to get it right the next time (that’s when I became of fan of his).


I was all in on NH when he was able to sign Pedro right before the deadline.

I didn’t think there was a chance he would sign due to past practices.

I was only 10 or so during the run they had with Bonds, and I wasn’t a full-blown baseball addict back then. My addiction probably started around the freakshow, and NH gave me the best baseball I’ve ever seen from the Pirates. My God were they fun. You walk into the park, and it was electric…it was a high and a damn good high. I want that high again.


A lot of people in these rooms were saying “Worst Trade in the History of Baseball”

Not a wash by any means. I think Archer contributed less than 1 fWAR, while Glasnow and Meadows collectively have netted something like 13 fWAR.

I’m not sure what’s going on with Austin, heard something about mental illness.


Archer was a joke as a pitcher and to trade for him for ANY compensation was not the right idea.


This is a bad take that is completely covered in hindsight. Go back and look at Archer leading up to the trade. He was a good pitcher at the time of the deal. They gave up too much to get him (similar to Catch, I liked the deal at the time, even if I thought it was a steep price). And he fell apart immediately after. It’s a terrible trade, but let’s not act like it’s Brock for Broglio.


Yeah, Archer had been worth 4.5 fWAR the season before and had already earned 1.8 fWAR at the time of the deal. He didn’t even pitch badly down the stretch that season (3.53 xFIP for example) and his 2.5 fWAR for that season is more than what Keller or any other Pirates pitcher earned this season (though Quintana earned more when you add his time with the Cards).


Both metrics that assume a pitcher who was getting hit as hard as Archer was just experiencing bad luck, which of course proved to be badly false.

Pirates tried their old reclamation play of sinkers and ground balls explicitly because of this fact but that just made things worse.


I loved the trade at the time. I thought we were getting a 3 WAR starter to go with Taillon & Trevor Williams.


It most certainly wasn’t a wash.

I think an argument can be made that the Cole trade was a wash. Especially if Endy ends up being a stud

b mcferren

Denny Neagle for Ron Wright, Jason Schmidt and Corey Pointer was the one that I really thought was going to steer the ship around


I’ve always wondered what Wright would’ve done had he not hurt his back so badly. And, Schmidt, by himself was a good return, just not for us. 🙁


Good stuff Jeff! Hitter wise I’m a big Nick the Stick fan. At times I see the flashes that shows he could be a quality big leaguer, then whiff 10 times in 15 ABs. Still hopeful, but I won’t hold my breath on it. Pitcher side I’m hoping Jared Jones can harness his stuff and find some control. So far in GMBCs tenure, I question many things but he’s done a good job of bringing in talent. Fingers crossed 🤞 on the development of these young men

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