Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • Smoky Burgess

    I noticed you project McLouth in CF & Morgan starting in LF. Morgan seems to be more suited as a CF if he's going to start. I know Nate won the gold glove playing CF but Morgan's speed seems better suited for CF. I hope Pearce's spring performance forces Russell to get him in the lineup on a regular basis.

  • Tim Williams

    I’m going by three things:

    1. McLouth played CF last year, even when Morgan was in the lineup.
    2. The general consensus that McLouth will remain in center with Morgan in left.
    3. The chance that Pearce could win the left field job, guaranteeing that McLouth remains in center.

    Morgan works in left because left field at PNC plays like center field. Switching Morgan and McLouth doesn’t accomplish much in the long run, as both would have a lot of ground to cover.

    However, I think McLouth moves to left when McCutchen comes up.

  • The Jello Phone

    Tim,

    What do you think about leaving Pearce in AAA to start the season along with McCutchen and Tabata? That allows Morgan, Moss, and McLouth to start pretty much everyday with Monroe as a 4th OF and Hinske as an emergency 5th OF, but more of a backup IF type.

    Then you would be able to carry one more pitcher like D. McCutchen (best control in the org according to BA) or Hansen if he gets his act together. What’s the point of having someone like Pearce on the bench when he needs to be getting reps everyday?

    Hinske, Vazquez, and Monroe seem like enough to cover backup duties if no injuries occur and this team needs all the available pitching to show what them what they’ve got, especially since they will probably have to hide Veal. What’s your thoughts on this?

  • Tim Williams

    I think Pearce should be given a shot to win the job over Morgan. I think he brings more to the table than Morgan, especially with the power potential. That being said, if Morgan won out, I’d rather have Pearce getting regular playing time at AAA.

    I wouldn’t mind having a Pearce/Morgan platoon, but I’m not sure what the chances are of that happening with Hinske on the roster as a super sub.

  • Tim Williams

    Also, I’d only bring Daniel McCutchen up if he was starting. I’d keep him at AAA if he didn’t win a starting job.

    As much as the Pirates say Maholm is the only guarantee for the rotation, I think Snell and Duke get the first shot due to their salaries, and Gorzy gets a first shot due to his prior success, leaving one true spot open.

  • The Jello Phone

    I agree with D. McCutch. I wouldn’t want him in the bullpen. If he didn’t make the cut in ST, I’d probably use Hansen or V. Vazquez.

    I saw Adam LaRoche has an option still. Does that mean he can be sent down to AAA? If so, I’d trade him out for A. McCutch if Adam is stinkin’ up the joint and Andrew was tearing up AAA. Then just move Moss over to 1B. Gotta have some accountabity.

  • Tim Williams

    According to my records, LaRoche was added to Atlanta’s 40-man roster before the 2003 season. 2003 was his first option year. He played in the majors from 2004 until now, so actually I believe he has two options.

    I’ve actually been researching this, as veteran players (players with 5 years of experience in the majors) can’t be sent to the minors without their consent. I know that is in regards to DFA players, but I’m not sure if the same applies for options.

    Either way, with LaRoche I would imagine they’d trade him before sending him to the minors.

  • Seven_Patch

    Hey Tim,

    Do you think Paul or Zach are part of Neal's rebuilding plan or could you see them being traded away when prospects Lincoln, Alderson, and/or Locke make their way up? There's also the possibility to see what Veal can do as a starter in AAA/AA next year. Right now it seems like NH likes the Idea of Morton, Ohlendorf, Hart, Karstens and even Dumatrait being middle to bottom rotation guys with McCutchen and Vasquez bottom rotation options in the minors. NH is looking for his #1 and 2 guys that can anchor the rotation. Lincoln looks great and I don't understand some of the negative reviews on Alderson, with his control and the numbers he's putting up at the age of 20, have the the Pirates ever seen a pitching prospect that good?

  • Tim Williams

    I could definitely see Duke and Maholm getting traded. I think we would have seen one of them traded this year if the market wasn't so crowded for starters.

    At the deadline you had Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, and Jake Peavy in trade talks. The Pirates can't really command a high price for Duke or Maholm in that situation, because other teams can just direct their attention to an ace like Halladay or Peavy.

    I think they'll be traded when they're the top options available, or when there's not as many better options out there.

  • Tim Williams

    As for Alderson and Lincoln, Alderson is the 45th best prospect this year, according to Baseball America. I'm sure Lincoln will make it back on the list next year with the season he's having.

    Looking at our history, Duke was the #34 prospect going in to the 2005 season. Then again, Sean Burnett, John Van Benschoten, and Bobby Bradley were all top 25 prospects at one point in time, so nothing is guaranteed.

    The best pitching prospect we've had in the last 20 years has been Kris Benson, twice in the top 10 of BA's rankings.

    I guess that makes it wiser to hold on to Maholm/Duke, who are somewhat sure things, until we know that Lincoln/Alderson are the real deal.

  • http://twitter.com/Spazaru Murray Passarieu

    Great article.  I’ve always wondered about over paying for relievers, especially in the era of the specialist who only pitches one inning or even less.  Plus, there are the obvious exceptions like Rivera or Hoffman, but most closers end up with careers that look more like Eric Gagne’s and the flame out quickly.  I like Hanrahan’s attitude and presence on the mound, but from a business perspective, he absolutely has to be moved if the opportunity arises to make a good deal.

  • Lee Young

    Tim….you and Tom Verducci must’ve stayed at the same hotel this week:

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/writers/tom_verducci/04/17/closers/index.html

     

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      Really good article. Thanks for passing it along!

  • Lee Young

    I am old school and when we first started (over)using the bullpen, I figured that, the more guys they brought in, the more chances there were that one of those guys wouldn’t have his good stuff that day. I still feel that way.

    That article I linked above showed that, despite our advances, pitch counts, etc, pitchers still break down at an alarming rate.

    That’s really why I disliked them pulling JMac yesterday. PITCH him! Don’t BABY him. He was just starting to hit his stride.

    I was really hoping what Larry Dierker did as a manager would catch on. Hopefully, it will soon (maybe Nolan Ryan’s Rangers?).

    But, before the price of closers drops, TRADE HANNY! 

  • tsnod91

    This is an awesome article. I like the comparison between Jason Grilli and Mike Adams. It really puts things into perspective. The Pirates are a small-market team, and need to act like one, by not overpaying for a closer. I don’t know what Cincinnati was thinking. Ryan Madson for 1 year/$8.5M to close games? Now, he’s done for the year and will be replaced by Sean Marshall. He will do fine as a closer and he is set to make $3.1M this year. That’s $5.4M less. When the trade deadline rolls around, I would like to see Hanrahan be dealt. I just hope he can keep his value up till then. The Bucs could get some impact players in return. In 2011, we didn’t really know who the closer was going to be. Meek? Hanrahan? Someone else? Then, when Hanrahan won the job, we were like, “Ok, lets see how this guy does”. Well, he became an All-Star, and the people began to trust him. Now, the people are too comfortable with Hanrahan to see him be dealt and start up a whole new relationship with some other guy. It is somewhat comforting to see Hanrahan coming out of the bullpen in the ninth. But, I hope the Bucs trade Hanrahan and receive a Top 50 hitting prospect. That would be great. Fingers crossed.

  • gregenstein

    I’m not sure I’d call the bullpen’s of the past few years successful. If you look at the bullpen’s ERA, K/9, and WHIP since Huntington took over, they’ve been near the bottom of the list in those categories. The problem (or reality) though I guess is that there’s not THAT much difference between a good/great bullpen and a below average one. You can build an average or below average bullpen on the cheap and still have pretty good results whereas paying oodles of money to closers and setup men doesn’t seem to really buy you any more wins.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Smalley/100001279428589 Andrew Smalley

      Two things:

      1) Look at more advanced stats.
      2) Look at stats PRIOR to the trade deadline.

      You’ll see that we have done well with our strategy at acquiring/composing the bullpen almost from scratch from year to year.

      Finally, ERA being used to judge a reliever is particularly troubling and incomplete. K/BB rate, as well as an ability to keep the ball in the park, are much more important than the ERA component.  Exhibit A:  Daniel McCutchen.  The latter is a guy that has horrible peripherals and shouldn’t be on the team (he isn’t) yet has had a decent ERA.  No one should/would confuse No Relation w/ being a good pitcher.

  • burgh_fan

    Just throwing this out there. What if the Pirates did start using Hanrahan in the 6th or 7th innings in tight ball games. That would be logical uses but if he doesn’t close games I could see that hurting his trade value around the league. Fair or not I think its rather apparent that closers are more highly valued than other relief pitchers so wouldn’t moving Hanrahan out of the traditional closer role hurt his value in a trade?

  • ecbucs

    teams that are contending want as much certainty of performance as they can get so they will pay a lot to get Mike Adams.  The Bucs need to take advantage of teams in those situations. 

    This would be torture to fans, but the Bucs should play tapes of Stan Belinda trying to save playoff games anytime a contender visits PNC.

  • dropkickmurphys

    I couldn’t agree more.  Relievers are highly over valued, especially closers.  Teams like the Pirates should flip their good relievers every couple of years.  

    Closers are another example of how managers don’t manage baseball games smartly.  Why on earth would you save your best reliever for a situation that may never happen?  If its such a good move, why not save your best hitter for a bases loaded situation in a close game?  Neither one makes sense but managers do the former all the time.

    Truth is managers manage their closer by a very poor statistic that measures them, the save.  There is no more meaningless stat in baseball than the save.  Yet, we see managers leave their best reliever out of tie games in extra innings on the road.  The closer is however, the first reliever out of the pen when the game is tied in the ninth inning of a home game.  The don’t use the close when the team is behind late.  The manager doesn’t use the 7th or 8th innings of close games when the tying or winning runs are on base or at the plate.  Yet, if the team is ahead by three runs or less, the closer will be out there to start the last inning.

    If managers were evaluated solely on how they used their best reliever, they would all fail.