First Pitch: Huntington’s Underrated Trades, and the 2013 Deadline Challenge

It’s kind of fitting how the current trade deadline is shaping up. Back when the Pittsburgh Pirates were rebuilding, teams were hoarding prospects. No one traded top prospects, and sometimes entire minor league teams would be made unavailable, even for good players in return. Now the Pirates have their best shot of contending, and have one of the best farm systems in the game. Back when they were sellers, that combination would have gotten them any player on the trade market. The way the current market is shaping up, they could still get any player they want, but they’re going to have to pay a ton for it.

We saw the first signs of this being a seller’s market when Matt Garza was traded for a huge return. The Texas Rangers gave up Mike Olt (a top 50 hitting prospect), C.J. Edwards and Justin Grimm (two Grade B pitchers), and 1-2 players to be named later. That would be one if the Rangers take Neil Ramirez, who is rumored to be the fourth player in the deal, and is another Grade B pitcher.

Earlier today Francisco Rodriguez was traded from the Brewers to the Orioles. Rodriguez is under a one year deal, and brought back third base prospect Nick Delmonico. Baseball America rated him a Grade 50 prospect with high risk before the season. Three Pirates prospects got that same grade: Barrett Barnes, Clay Holmes, and Alex Dickerson. That’s a lot to spend for two months of a reliever, which amounts to about 25 innings total from Rodriguez.

Tonight we saw another sign of this being a seller’s market. The latest rumors had the Chicago White Sox turning down a trade that would have sent Alexei Ramirez to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for top pitching prospect Carlos Martinez. To review, the 39-58 White Sox supposedly refused to trade a soon-to-be 32-year-old shortstop with a huge contract, and declining hitting skills, even when the return was the number 24 prospect in baseball. It’s possible that this rumor isn’t accurate. It could be something to drive up the bids for Ramirez. But when two months of Garza gets a top 50 hitter and three talented pitchers, it doesn’t seem so unlikely that two years and two months of Ramirez could get a massive return.

It’s easy to see why the Rangers can make that trade for Garza. They don’t need to worry about prospects. Mike Olt is a top prospect, but they have Adrian Beltre at third base, making $35 M over the next two years. They traded three talented pitchers, but this is also a team that paid $50 M just to be able to negotiate with Yu Darvish. If they need a starting pitcher in the future, they don’t have to worry about prospects. They can just throw money at Garza, or whoever else they’re looking to add or keep.

The Pirates aren’t in the same situation. They might be able to spend $50 M on a free agent starter. However, they couldn’t spend $50 M just to be able to spend another $50 M on that free agent starter, and definitely not while they’re spending $80 M over five years for a third baseman (not to mention all of the other contracts Texas has outside of Beltre and Darvish).

This is shaping up to be an extreme seller’s market, and the talent on the market isn’t much to write home about. That’s not a situation where the Pirates want to jump in with their prospects. The upgrades that guys like Garza, Rodriguez, or Ramirez provide aren’t worth their price in prospects. The Pirates can’t be protecting all of their prospects, but they also can’t be overpaying. That’s how you go from a loaded farm system with the potential to compete for a long-period of time, to a depleted farm system and a rebuilding period ahead (SEE: the Milwaukee Brewers).

The question is, can Neal Huntington find value in an extreme seller’s market?

Huntington hasn’t exactly spent big the last two years. The moves he has made have been low-key. He hasn’t acquired the flashy names, but if you look at the numbers, he has added some big value. Take a look at some of the moves from the last two deadlines.

2011

Jason Grilli - The Pirates added Grilli as a major league free agent. Anyone could have signed him away from Philadelphia just by offering him a spot on the active roster. The Pirates did that, and Grilli immediately became a strong reliever. Meanwhile, the Rangers gave up Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter for Koji Uehara, and also gave up then-top 50 prospect Robbie Erlin and Joe Weiland for Mike Adams (notice a trend with the Rangers?)

Here are some stats:

Adams: 2.88 ERA, 8.1 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 in 78 IP over 1 year and 2 months with the Rangers

Uehara: 2.50 ERA, 11.0 K/9, 0.7 BB/9 in 54 IP over 1 year and 2 months with the Rangers

Grilli: 2.76 ERA, 12.5 K/9, 3.6 BB/9 in 91.1 IP over 1 year and 2 months with the Pirates

Adams and Uehara were both great relievers for the Rangers, and the cost was Chris Davis, Tommy Hunter, Robbie Erlin, and Joe Weiland. Three of those players have played in the majors this year, and just the loss of Davis is enough to make both trades combined look horrible. Meanwhile, Grilli was also great for the Pirates in the same timeframe, and the cost was absolutely nothing.

Derrek Lee - The Pirates traded Aaron Baker to pick up Derrek Lee. He had a few injury problems, but when healthy Lee crushed the ball. He had a .337/.398/.584 line in 101 at-bats with the Pirates down the stretch. Meanwhile Baker doesn’t look like he will make it past Double-A. That same year Hunter Pence was traded for a package of four top prospects, while two months of Carlos Beltran was traded for Zack Wheeler. Here are the numbers in 2011.

Pence: .324/.394/.560 in 207 AB

Beltran: .323/.369/.551 in 167 AB

Lee: .337/.398/.584 in 101 AB

Down the stretch Lee was just as good as Pence and Beltran. The Giants had to give up one of the top pitching prospects in the game. The Phillies gave up a package of four top prospects (although they got Pence for multiple years of control). Once again the Pirates gave up nothing of value, and got similar great production.

Other Trades - Acquired Michael McKenry for cash. People want McKenry replaced now, but it’s hard to argue the huge value he’s brought to the team, especially when teams were demanding huge returns from the Pirates for catching (like Garrett Jones for Jeff Mathis). They added Ryan Ludwick for cash. Ludwick didn’t do much off the bench (then went on to have a huge bounce back season the following year with the Reds), but he also didn’t cost anything. Seeing what he did with Cincinnati the following year, you have to think the Pirates were hoping for the same thing.

2012

Wandy Rodriguez - The Pirates actually gave up some prospects in this one. The best of the group was Robbie Grossman, although they’re probably not going to miss him with a future outfield of Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, and Gregory Polanco. Rudy Owens and Colton Cain have both suffered injuries this year. Meanwhile, the Pirates got Rodriguez for one year and two months. I didn’t like the deal at the time, as Rodriguez was struggling with the Astros, was older, and had declining strikeout numbers. He almost immediately turned things around with the Pirates, and has provided huge value with the trade.

By comparison, the Tigers gave up Jacob Turner and two prospects in a deal for two months of Anibal Sanchez, and Omar Infante from the Marlins. The Angels gave up Jean Segura and two prospects for two months of Zack Greinke. The Braves sent Arodys Vizcaino to the Cubs for a year and two months of Paul Maholm. Vizcaino was the #4 prospect in BA’s system heading into the 2013 season. Let’s compare down the stretch.

Rodriguez: 3.72 ERA, 6.0 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 in 75 IP

Sanchez: 3.74 ERA, 6.9 K/9, 1.8 BB/9 in 74.2 IP

Greinke: 3.53 ERA, 7.9 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 in 89.1 IP

Maholm: 3.54 ERA, 7.7 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 in 68.2 IP

The Tigers traded Jacob Turner. The Angels traded Jean Segura. The Braves traded Arodys Vizcaino. The Pirates traded Robbie Grossman. Of the four, Grossman is the clear number four centerpiece. Plus, the Pirates got an extra year from Rodriguez, and got salary relief. The Braves got similar from Maholm (extra year, no salary relief), although the Pirates could still get another year from Rodriguez at a discount if he picks up his player option for 2014 (which seems likely after his injury).

Travis Snider - Everyone wanted Hunter Pence or Shane Victorino. Both guys were names. Victorino was a rental. Pence had another year of control beyond the 2012 season. Instead, the Pirates went with Travis Snider, giving up Brad Lincoln. The Phillies got a package of three players for Victorino, led by Ethan Martin. He would have ranked in the 7-10 range in the Pirates system at the start of the year, according to Baseball America’s grades. They got a package of three players for Pence, led by Tommy Joseph, who was the number three prospect for the Phillies entering the year. Let’s look at how they all finished the year.

Pence: .219/.287/.384 in 219 AB

Victorino: .245/.316/.351 in 208 AB

Snider: .250/.324/.328 in 128 AB

Pence or Victorino would have been slightly better than Snider, but neither would have made a difference, and both would have cost more in prospects. In fact, the Phillies wanted Starling Marte for either guy (Victorino and Pence links). Snider hasn’t worked out, and neither has Lincoln for Toronto. The Pirates pretty much sold high on him and he fell apart after the deal. It would be hard to call this a good trade. But it was definitely a good move to avoid giving up a key piece of the future for almost equally poor production.

Other Trades - The Pirates also added Gaby Sanchez, trading Gorkys Hernandez and their 2013 competitive balance pick. Sanchez has since done a great job crushing lefties. They also added Chad Qualls and Hisanori Takahashi as cheap bullpen arms, but neither guy worked out.

Can Huntington Find Value?

Neal Huntington

Neal Huntington has found value the last two years, but this year could be a challenge.

The knee jerk reaction from the last two years is that Huntington didn’t make the right moves. He didn’t go out and make a big splash at the deadline to give the team a shot at winning. The Pirates only had one chance to win, and they wouldn’t have that same chance in 2012, 2013, or beyond. Basically, the feeling was that Huntington blew it, and if he would have made better moves the Pirates might not have collapsed.

The only thing is that Huntington made good moves. He just didn’t pay the premium prices for them. When Texas was giving away a ton of talent for relievers, Huntington got Jason Grilli for free. When big hitters were costing top prospects in 2011, Huntington got similar production out of Derrek Lee in exchange for a marginal prospect.

Instead of giving up Starling Marte to get the struggling Pence or Victorino in 2012, Huntington gave up the “playing over his head” Brad Lincoln to get Travis Snider and gamble on his upside. The gamble didn’t work out, but Snider wasn’t much worse than the other two and didn’t cost the future of the team. When other teams were giving up top prospects for starting pitching, Huntington gave up a lesser prospect for Wandy Rodriguez, who had the same numbers, an extra year of control, a player option, and salary relief.

Huntington has done an extremely underrated job the last two years of finding value at the deadline, while also finding guys who put up the same numbers as the premium players on the market. He hasn’t sacrificed the future at all while adding to those teams. Both teams collapsed, but no deadline addition could have prevented that from happening.

It will be a big challenge this year to find value without sacrificing the future. The Pirates can afford to give up top prospects without sacrificing their future. However, we’re seeing some ridiculous returns in prospect value in the week before the trade deadline. It’s shaping up to be an extreme seller’s market. Finding value the previous two years was one thing. Huntington did that, but if he can do the same this year, it would be extremely impressive.

Links and Notes

Prospects

**Prospect Watch: Glasnow and Heredia Have Great Outings; Meadows Heating Up.

**Nick Kingham Overcomes Slow Start In Trenton.

**DSL Prospect Watch: Pirates Shutout Orioles, Get Shutout By Rockies.

**Top Performers: Joely Rodriguez Continues To Impress This Season.

**Minor League Schedule: Sandfort and Pimentel Going Today.

Pirates

**Gerrit Cole Rolls Through Nationals in 5-1 Pirates Victory.

**Grilli Placed on DL, Inge Designated for Assignment, Walker and Black Join Pirates.

**The High Asking Price For Alexei Ramirez.

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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  • skliesen

    I’ve been on the Alex Rios bandwagon for quite some time, but as this trade season plays out, I’m pessimistic about the trade happening. I’m thinking Marlon Byrd is more realistic now.

    • Blue Bomber

      Byrd is playing well. He couldn’t cost that much for two month rental. Justin Maxwell is a similar player for the Astros who rakes vs LHP. Either of these guys would improve the team.

    • http://wkkortas.wordpress.com wkkortas

      I wouldn’t be too pessimistic about Rios; his contract isn’t outrageous, but he’s paid a good bit more than Ramirez, whose contract is pretty reasonable for an average-to-above-average shortstop, so the Sox may be looking at Rios as a salary dump. I’ve read a lot about the Mets wanting to hang on to Byrd, because why would you sell high on a PED-tainted guy having a “breakout” season in his late 30s?

    • https://profiles.google.com/102804497270034978273 Marco Rincones

      I commented in a longer paragraph below but I think the Pirates need to see what it would take to get the Rockies to deal Michael Cuddyer to Pittsburgh. He’s under contract thru 2014 at approx $11mil per yr. He’s a great clubhouse guy, would fit into our RF slot well (can also play 1st base) and could bat 4th, 5th or 6th to drive in some runs. The guy is a gamer. Rios, Byrd, Ibanez all have their flaws. Cuddy can rake, plays hard and is what we need now to win this division and compete in the playoffs. The Rockies need prospects, the Pirates have plenty of them…..

    • ted_sheedy

      I’d be all for Byrd. Rios is only an upgrade over Tabata as a fielder, but not worth a couple runs a year for $12mm. While simultaneously burying Tabata, who is showing signs of competence and Polanco.

      This is still a small-market team, salary will always be a consideration. Rios doesn’t add nearly enough for the cost, salary and asset.

  • https://profiles.google.com/112005585152702163048 Brian

    Of all the trade rumors you guys have posted, the only player I liked was Morales since it wouldn’t cost much. I’m guessing it’s safe to assume now that this is no longer true.

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

      The problem with Morales is that Seattle is one of those teams that should be selling because they’re 48-52, but they’re not selling because they think they have a shot if they go on a nice run. That could change in the next week.

      • https://profiles.google.com/116255365477483987850 jalcorn

        And its been widely reported that they plan to give him a qualifying offer and try to extend his contract. Of all their pending free agents, Morales is the least likely to be let go.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.j.stein.3 Jeremy J Stein

        The Mariners have been playing better of late. 17 and 13 in their last 30 games. Although even if they play like that the rest of the year, they have no chance of catching Oakland or Texas as both of them have been playing well to (A’s are 17-13 also and the Rangers are 16 and 14).
        .
        The Mariners might feel like they are in the same situation the Pirates were in back in 2010. If we recall, the Pirates weren’t really willing to deal Garrett Jones.
        .
        Still, the Pirates were sellers in 2010, but they didn’t trade away any long term assests. They traded away reliever D.J. Carrasco, outfielder Ryan Church, infielder Bobby Crosby, closer Octavio Dotel and reliever Javier Lopez. None of those players ever figured into the Pirates long term plans.
        .
        Morales though is a free agent after the season. The Mariners must feel pretty confident they can resign him. Well, that or they are just trying to drive up the price.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.j.stein.3 Jeremy J Stein

    YES!
    .
    So far Huntington is doing exactly what a small market team should and needs to do in order to have long term success.
    .
    Some people act like this year will be the Pirates last shot as if they’re going to be a 90-100 loss team again for the next 10 years (at least). I think the reason they think this way is because they have no clue who Polanco, Glasnow, Kingham and Hanson are. They think Tony Sanchez and Heredia are busts because they’re still in the minors.
    .
    I know what these casual fans think because they’re my friends, co-workers and family. I tell them, don’t worry so much about this year, wait until next year (or the year after) when Polanco comes up. They’re response is always, “who is that?”. Then they ask me when Taillon will be up and I say “I’d expect next June or July, but wait untill Kingham and Glasnow are in Pittsburgh a year or two from now!”
    .
    “Who?”

    • buster09

      Tim : First of all,great column pointing out NHs diligence the past couple of years. Jeremy, I myself have seen 65 to 70 Curve games for the past 15 seasons,and pay a lot of attention to what is going on with prospects etc. So,I understand completely where you are coming from. But do you get as tired of attempting to explain just what is coming ? I sure do,but I try to see the bright side,which is when the Bucs are able to go toe to toe with the Cards and Reds on a regular basis ,I am going to tell all the skeptics : didn’t I tell you this was going to happen !

      • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.j.stein.3 Jeremy J Stein

        Buster09,
        .
        I have two uncles who were convince last Christmas that the Pirates would be terrible this year and lose 90 games. I told them I expected the Pirates to win at least 85 games and they thought I was crazy. I’ve seen them 3 or 4 times in the last few months and we talk about the Pirates and they say “it looks like you were right, they are pretty good this year”.
        .
        I don’t even have to say “I told you so” because the Pirates do that for me everytime they win a
        game heh.
        .
        Of course it helps a lot to have great websites like piratesprospects to keep up to date with the farm system.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.j.stein.3 Jeremy J Stein

        Also, I have yet to get tired about talking about Pirates baseball. I was a 10 year old that didn’t really understand the game back in the early 90’s but as I got older I started understanding the game of baseball very well and had a great appreciation for the game itself. Unfortunately, the Pirates have had 20 losing seasons since then and it has created a culture of skeptics and nay say’ers.
        .
        While I like to think of myself as a skeptical person, I am certainly not a nay say’er. I say, GO BUCS!

  • NorCal Buc

    Tim ~ You and your staff provide unparalleled reporting! Thank you.

    This piece clearly demonstrated that the wisest move by NH was NOT trading Starling Marte, or Gerrit Cole or Jameson Tallion, for a rental player of nominal worth, as it turns out (Pence, Victorino)

    We may get the boost we need with another “low profile” move, such as promoting Tony Sanchez or Mat Hague, or by trading away a minor figure for a “lessor renown” return, such as Miguel Tejada.

    • BostonsCommon

      39 year old Miggy Tejada? Just because the Pirates just released Inge doesn’t mean they need to hurry up and replace him with another dinosaur that can’t swing the bat anymore. At least Inge was still above the line in the field…. Neil can do better than this with giving up prospects…. +1 Bonus point for thinking outside of the box though.

    • buster09

      Matt Hague ?? Wow ! Or Miggy Tejada ?!? 2x Wow !! Do you really feel like these two or players like them would help ?

  • https://profiles.google.com/105668650510920614054 Brian Bernard

    Great article Tim, and perhaps Pittsburgh fans will soon start to respect possibly the best management team in baseball. Could that be true? At least on the baseball side, I’m happy with NH and CH.

  • BostonsCommon

    Congrats to James and the site for getting a shout out from the four letter mothership this morning…

    Increased demand for radio show interviews, podcasts, updated mobile themed website, and now a shout out from the big boys. Seems the site is really taking off this year Tim, congrats. Keep up the good work.

    http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/38439/will-pirates-performance-in-key-spots-last

    • James Santelli

      Thank you, sir!

  • joe g.

    NH’s trades the last two years really fall in line with what he needs to do this year – find underrated value to fill a short term need. It will happen near the deadline.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 Lee Young

    In NH I trust!!

    Foo

    • emjayinTN

      Foo: The pirates were looking for a RH Bat off the bench and Inge was not that guy – how about Jason Bay of Seattle? Making $1 mil and a FA after 2013, and would not be worthy of a high or even middle prospect, or even any player in return. He has 11 HR in 198 AB’s or about a HR every 18 AB’s. With 64 games left, it is of no consequence whether we have an IF or an OF, or would we rather have a another LH hitter on the bench?

  • CalipariFan506

    One problem with the deadline this season is that a lot of the sellers don’t consider themselves out of it.

    Also you have GMs in Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Chicago AL and Anaheim who all have given great prospects in win now deals. So they expect more rational franchises like St Louis, Arizona, Oakland or Pittsburgh to do the same.

    • moose7195

      That may be the biggest problem. Apparently the Mariners now believe they aren’t sellers either. The specifically rumor says they may not want to move Morales due to them wanting to extend a qualifying offer

      • moose7195

        Oops. *rumor specifically

    • axc201

      The big reason the market has shifted is because the money is flowing. The value of 1 WAR is going to be at least 6 mil plus in the upcoming free agent years. Here is a list of how much each team is getting in regional sports dollars. http://www.awfulannouncing.com/2013/may/how-mlb-splits-your-tv-dollars.html

      I know the reds contract is up and they will cash in. I think the giants are up soon too.

  • https://profiles.google.com/100212786463678215436 Nathan Swartz

    Strange question: possible to use Cole in pinch hit situations? He’s no slouch with the stick. Oh, and he’s 2 for 2 with RISP (in a great example of SSS).

    Perfect example of the difference a pitcher can make by not giving away at bats. Speaking of giving away at bats, I’d like to know who does the best job of working pitch counts (as far as # of pitches) in their at bats.

  • https://profiles.google.com/100212786463678215436 Nathan Swartz

    Tim, Ive been looking at players with decent RISP that also hit lefties. what are your thoughts on availbility of various OF like: Cuddyer, Denorfia, Alex Gordon, Ozuna, & Aoki.
    I could see Denorfia being an affordable option.

    Or 1B like Lind, Belt, or Hosmer.

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

      I don’t really look at RISP numbers. Get a good hitter and you should have a good hitter with RISP. A bad hitter with good RISP or a good hitter with bad RISP is just luck related.

  • gdhigby

    Whatever happened to “good baseball trades”? I remember NH mentioning when we were sellers that we would make trades that benefit the system, short term and long term. Since it’s a strong sellers market, why wouldn’t we make some smart moves to benefit the long term? Sell high on Liriano and get 4-5 good prospects. I know this post will probably upset a few people who are in love with the ERA below 3 but he won’t be with the Pirates past 2014. I’m just playing devil’s advocate but I like the idea of getting an amazing return on someone who we bought low on.

    • https://profiles.google.com/116255365477483987850 jalcorn

      We are in a playoff position, you can’t trade one of your top 2 SP when you have a chance to win a World Series. That is lunacy. I’m all for planning for the future and building assets, but now is not the time. Making the playoffs is the whole point of building up the system with talent. You also can’t assume that current success will be long lasting, ask the Nationals about that.

    • http://www.facebook.com/david.donahue.100 whiteAngus

      Im guessing we don’t because we’re 20 games over .500.
      .
      I get the selling high thing, especially on a dominant LHP with a cheap contract, and I know you’re playing devils advocate, but you have me feeling guilty for even answering. egads!

    • csnumber23

      Absolutely ridiculous to even suggest trading Liriano right now. He is our ace right now in the middle of a pennant race. Not to mention he is very affordable next year. If there were to be any consideration of cashing in on him it would be in the off season after picking up his option.

      Tim, great article!! Glad to see Huntington finally getting due props for what he has done to build this franchise.

  • smurph

    I completely agree with this article. As your numbers show, a 2-month rental has very little effect on how a 25-man team finishes the year, so why give up future starters for that rental? In the case of Texas and Baltimore, they are small/medium sized markets, and maybe they feel one or two additions can get them to the WS. I want the Pirates to get there this season, but I don’t want to compromise their chances of being there in future seasons.

    • https://profiles.google.com/116255365477483987850 jalcorn

      Yeah, even a very good trade acquisition will have a tough time posting 1.5 wins (WAR) over a 60 game sample. Now, the marginal value of 1.5 wins is quite large when you are in the 90 win spectrum. It could mean the difference between a 1 game play in or hosting a NLDS series.

      I can’t see NH mortgaging the future like AA did in Toronto. NH has stuck to the plan from day 1, even when he was acquiring the wrong guys, he had the right plan. NH has also been pretty good at keeping his targets quiet.

  • piratemike

    One point that Tim made was that rich teams like the Rangers can trade away prospects because they can recover from a loss of prospects by buying top players whenever they have a need.
    Teams like the Pirates and Tampa and other small market teams should have a permanent spot in the top 10 draft slots no matter if they win the World Series or a Playoff spot to help even out the overwhelming advantage of the big market teams.
    When teams like Boston get a double whammy like they did this year by drafting 7th and then at the same time have almost unlimited spending ability is plain unfair.
    Everybody acknowledges the spot NH is in as far as trying to upgrade the team by the deadline while trying to protect his most vital assets by scraping the bottom of the barrel while teams like the Dodgers with their 220m payroll can even add more payroll if they choose.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.j.stein.3 Jeremy J Stein

      I don’t know that small market teams should be given a permanent top 10 draft spot as that doesn’t seem right, but small market teams do have to be very smart with the moves they make in order to compete.
      .
      We can only hope that the teams that can throw money at mistakes, keep making mistakes.

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

        If they do anything, they should do a lottery factoring in the standings, markets, revenue, etc.

        • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.j.stein.3 Jeremy J Stein

          Hmm, what if they take a 3 year standings average as the factor for such a lottery?
          .
          A 3 year average would take into account that in baseball teams sometimes have down years which are more of an aberration rather than an indication that a team needs a higher draft pick.
          .
          I do kind of like the lottery idea because it eliminates any thoughts of bad teams intentionally tanking at the end of the year in order to get the first pick. *** Not that a team would actually intentionally tank :) heh.

          • piratemike

            Like maybe the Nats.

      • piratemike

        Jeremy, Does it feel right to you that teams can outspend the small market teams by 100m or more every year?
        Seriously?
        .
        Or that they have to HOPE big markets teams make mistakes.
        .
        The only way that the playing field can be evened is through the draft.
        .
        The only other way is to have a system like the NFL which can never happen in baseball because of it’s nature.

        • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.j.stein.3 Jeremy J Stein

          I’d rather see a cap and more revenue sharing.
          .
          To answer your question, does it feel right? Technically yes because there is no cap. Do I like it? No which is why I’d rather see a cap.
          .
          I don’t like the idea of draft order factoring in small market vs big market. That would mean that top talent would pretty much always go to small market teams which then forces the big market teams to spend money in free agency. No one is forcing big market teams to spend in free agency now. I see the point though and I understand the frustration but I think such a system would be a bad solution and end up causing more problems.

  • michaelbro8

    Our biggest worry now is that one of the big money market teams pries NH away from the Bucs with a huge dollar offer

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

      He is under team control through the 2015 season.

    • smurph

      While I think Neil has done a good job, I am certainly not ready to name him one of the top GMs in the business. The guy in Tampa has been doing it a lot longer and more successfully than NH. And 5 years later he still hasn’t given us a team with a winning record. I think a lot of guys could have built this team up having a top-5 draft pick almost every year. Not knocking him. In addition, being a GM of a big market team takes different skills. Those teams will not settle for a 4 or 5 year rebuilding program, though that is exactly what the Cubbies are getting because of all the ridiculous contracts they are still paying.

      • CalipariFan506

        What NH has done to build up the system is nothing short of remarkable. His first round picks are either producing in the majors, or guys that are penciled in to have strong starting roles. Alvarez, Sanchez, Cole and Taillon. Way too early to judge this season’s guys although there are by no means any red flags thus far.

        But what he has really done, and maybe Gayo deserves more credit than him here, is to build up the system with Latin American guys. Marte, Polanco, Hanson, Herera, Heredia, Joely Rodriguez and next Harold Ramirez are all guys with potential to be top 100 prospects in the next callander year, maybe not Joely, but the other guys for sure.

        • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.j.stein.3 Jeremy J Stein

          CalipariFan506,
          .
          You beat me to it, I was basically about to say the same thing.
          .
          I don’t know how NH wouldn’t be considered one of the top 10 GM’s in baseball. He’s taken a team which had probably the worst farm system in the league when he took over in 2008 to a top 5 farm system. He’s made smart calculated moves that won’t hurt the franchise long term.
          .
          I’ve lived through the Cam Bonifay and Dave Littlefield years. NH is a top GM in my book, he may not be better than the Tampa GM, but he is still a top GM.

      • csnumber23

        Absolutely well said Caliparifan and Jeremy!! Smurph, I’m not sure what you have been watching but Huntington has been outstanding!! look what he took over 5 years ago and then look at the organization now. Dave Littlefield was as bad as it gets and so was Cam Bonifay.

        I can’t remember which idiot made the worst trade in MLB history, I think it was idiot #2 Littlefield. A. Ramirez in his prime and K. Lofton thrown in for scrub Bobby Hill and scrub Jose Hernandez.

  • https://www.facebook.com/rusty.hodgkiss Rusty Hodgkiss

    I’ve said pretty much the same things to anyone who would listen. (Meaning basically my wife.) That NH has done a really good job. The system is strong, and I can’t see trading away Polanco, or Taillon, or really any of those top prospect guys for a rental. Sure I have dreams about Staton batting between McCutchen and Alvarez, but they’re just that. Dreams. I’d rather be good for a long time than to be in the spot that the Brewers are in, and where the Pirates were for a long time, to take one shot at making the playoffs. The Pirates are in a position to be good this year, and better the next several years because they stocked up on prospects, and won’t just frivolously give them away.

  • Bucco_Joe

    None of the players who are linked to the Pirates, are by themselves going to carry this team into the playoffs or beyond. There are players on this team named Jones, Walker. Alvarez, McCutchen, and Marte that have to step up offensively in the 2nd half of the season. With all of that said, this front office needs to step up and upgrade this team. Prospects are nice and no one wants to give up assets, but this team has the opportunity to go somewhere it hasn’t been in 20 years. Make the moves Neal to show this fan base that this organization is committed to winning this year, not in three years from now when some of these prospects may or may not make an impact on this team.

  • CalipariFan506

    If NH made moves to please the fans we would have won 75 instead of 57 in 2010. And 75 instead of 85-95 this season. Prior GMs tried that and what we saw was a string of 70-75 win teams where they never contended or got top 5 picks. Welcome to Seattle or Queens.

    • Bucco_Joe

      Its more than trying to please the fans. Its looking at what your competition in the NL has and trying to get better this year to make a run. Why the constant waiting until prospect X finally makes it to the the majors? I’m not talking about trading the top prospects, its making the assessment that we can do better than Tabata or Snider in RF and making a meaningful move to improve the team for this year.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.j.stein.3 Jeremy J Stein

        What do you consider a meaningful move?
        .
        I expect Huntington to continue to do what he’s done the last few years and make low key moves which could very well help the team this year.
        .
        I really hope he can replicate do what he did two years ago when he got Derrick Lee and Ryan Ludwick.
        .
        Can you imagine if the Pirates got a player this year at the trade deadline that puts up numbers like Derrick Lee did? That would be a big improvement.

        • Bucco_Joe

          A meaningful move such as obtaining a RF who can hit 0.270. hit 15 to 20 HRS, and drive in 70 runs. Somebody who can hold the position for the next 2 to 3 years until some of these prospects are MLB ready.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.j.stein.3 Jeremy J Stein

            That could happen.

  • https://profiles.google.com/102804497270034978273 Marco Rincones

    What would the slumping and poorly run Colorado Rockies require for them to send Michael Cuddyer to the Pirates. He’s under contract thru 2014 at about $11mil per yr. Cuddyer would fit into the Bucs lineup and RF slot perfectly. He can also play some 1st base if necessary. Cuddyer is far superior to Rios, Byrd and Ibanez plus if we can get him we have him for 2014 also. Yes, he’s not cheap but the Rockies are at times and they might be willing to send him and his contract for 2014 off with him. Colorado needs prospects also. The Buccos have plenty of them….Make it work NH!

    • http://www.facebook.com/jeremy.j.stein.3 Jeremy J Stein

      Cuddyer has had an awesome year but he may be cooling off. In July so far he’s only hitting .254. Although he does have a .795 OPS, so he would still be a huge upgrade for the Pirates in RF.
      .
      I feel like the Rockies would ask for Polanco and Taillon in this market though which would not be worth it and end up hurting the Pirates long term.
      .
      If the Rockies were reasonable and would take Bell, and a couple C grade pitchers, that would be sweet.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chris.ororke.75 Chris O’Rorke

    thoughts on trading for a franchise player from another team? that’s the only way I would ever consider giving up taillon. what would it cost for like a Troy Tulowitzki or Joe Mauer? Both small market teams could use a facelift and trading their star could be beneficial to them

  • http://www.facebook.com/chris.ororke.75 Chris O’Rorke

    Thoughts on Top20 Prospects?

    Taillon
    McGuire
    Glasnow
    Bell
    Heredia
    Meadows
    Hanson
    Polanco
    Kingham
    10. Barnes
    Herrera
    Sanchez
    Dickerson
    Garcia
    Mathisen
    Allie
    Rojas
    Holmes
    Jhang
    Oliver

    • moose7195

      Yeah its pretty backwards. McGuire only plays 19 games and he’s #2? It’s rookie ball, don’t put too much stock in his hot start. Polanco at 8 is a slap in the face, as well as Heredia over Hanson and Kingham. And is that Willy Garcia? He’s got good power but not much else and shouldn’t be anywhere near #14.