First Pitch: Evaluating the Ike Davis Trade

Normally when it comes to trades, you get an evaluation immediately. In the case of Ike Davis, we had to wait for the player to be named later, which ended up being announced today as Blake Taylor. The deal couldn’t be official prior to today, because Taylor couldn’t be dealt until one year after he was signed. Now that it is official, we can fully evaluate the move.

For a recap, the full move was Ike Davis in exchange for Blake Taylor and Zack Thornton.

The inclusion of Thornton isn’t really a big deal here. He’s relief pitching depth, which is easy to acquire and doesn’t carry much trade value. His value hasn’t been high around the league this year. He was passed up in the Rule 5 draft, and hasn’t been able to crack the majors for the Mets, despite them having a horrible bullpen.

The deal mostly comes down to Davis for Taylor. The focus on any trade is always about the “win”, which is a flawed approach. It’s an approach that assumes there is going to be a clear winner in the deal, and a clear loser. Sometimes the best trades are where both sides win and fill a need. I believe that’s what happened in this deal.

The Pirates needed a first baseman. They entered the season with Travis Ishikawa as the starter, and that was never a good idea. Andrew Lambo struggled during Spring Training, missing out on his chance at the position. He turned things around in Triple-A, but the Pirates added Davis shortly after the season started. So far, Davis has been a good addition, platooning with Gaby Sanchez.

The Mets had a first baseman. They entered the season with Davis and Lucas Duda as their starting options, and Duda got the job. That made Davis expendable.

The Mets need pitching, and prospects in general. The Pirates have plenty of pitching available. They don’t have much left-handed pitching, which is one area where the loss of Taylor hurts. However, if you don’t worry about lefty/righty considerations in the rotation, then this is just a deal where the Pirates are giving up one of their many projectable pitchers.

We ranked Taylor as the 16th best prospect coming into the season. He’s got a good fastball, sitting 89-92 MPH, but touching mid-90s in the past. He has the projectable frame to be able to improve his velocity in the future, and possibly sit in the low-to-mid 90s. He pairs that fastball with a curveball that could be considered a plus offering.

That’s a great starting point for a lefty. The downside is that he lacks command of his fastball, and doesn’t have a changeup. I liked the pick of Taylor last year, because the Pirates have had a lot of success teaching fastball command and teaching the changeup. With those two areas being the main weaknesses for Taylor, he looked like he could have a very bright future.

Taylor is a very talented pitcher and has a lot of promise. But he’s not close to being guaranteed. He has only pitched 21 innings in pro ball, with all of those coming at the rookie level. He’s got some serious work to do with his fastball command and changeup. He’s got a chance to make it to the majors, and possibly become a number three starter. But the odds of Taylor reaching that middle of the rotation upside are much, much lower than the odds of someone like Nick Kingham reaching the same upside. Taylor is a lottery ticket, and far from a sure thing.

This deal works well for both sides. The Pirates have plenty of “lottery tickets” in their farm system, including a few other guys from the 2013 draft. If you can trade one of those guys away for a first baseman who can platoon at the position in the majors for 2-3 years, then you make that trade. It would be different if they didn’t have a lot of depth in prospects. As for the Mets, they need prospects and had too many first basemen. The trade is as simple as that.

Overall, the Pirates filled a need without giving up a piece they’d miss. The Mets got rid of excess to get something that would provide them more value. Both teams traded from a strength to address a weakness. This deal wasn’t about winning or losing the trade. It looks like it was fair for both sides.

Links and Notes

**2014 Pittsburgh Pirates Draft Pick Signing Tracker

**Pirates Send Blake Taylor to Mets as PTBNL in Ike Davis Deal

**Prospect Watch: Luis Heredia’s Best Start of the Year; JaCoby Jones Homers

**Minor League Schedule: Casey Sadler Returns to Indianapolis Rotation

**DSL Pirates Report: Shortstop Adrian Valerio is Starting to Heat Up at the Plate

**Pirates Add Vance Worley to Roster, Send Michael Martinez to Indianapolis

**Prospect Highlights: Alen Hanson Extends Hit Streak, Gift Ngoepe’s Defense

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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  • https://www.facebook.com/clementewall21 N_Cap

    Well said I will reiterate we gave up a 19 yearold with questions for a guy who can help now.

    • moose7195

      Davis is only helping when he’s drawing walks, otherwise he’s basically a replacement player

      • https://www.facebook.com/clementewall21 N_Cap

        I meant more in general like what u expect to get

      • JoseGuillensArm

        When he’s played against the pitchers he’s supposed to get the bulk of his time against he’s been effective. A .791 OPS and a .413 slugging percentage against lefties represents a guy who is effective when used correctly not just when he’s drawing walks. Don’t blame the player for managerial mistakes.

        • JoseGuillensArm

          Against righties*

      • http://www.facebook.com/andy.prough.3 Andy Prough

        I can’t see any reason in the world right now that Hurdle would bat Ike in the #4 spot instead of Harrison. With Polanco, Marte, and McCutchen getting on base with regularity, the #4 spot has to be able to handle the bat effectively. Cost us a game yesterday.

        • bucsws2014

          You could also argue that inserting Barmes for defensive purposes crippled the offense as well. Barmes, in Harrison’s spot, was the last chance after Martin hit into the DP. And I’ve already spoken my piece on what a crappy approach Martin took in that AB.

  • http://@gwbicster gwbicster

    I think it’s a bit questionable to give up a prospect of this pedigree for someone of Davis’s limited skills. However, I’d have been much more upset had they given up JaCoby Jones or someone like that. We’ll have to live with it.

    • William Wallace

      I’m glad it was not JaCoby Jones or any other hitter. This deal makes sense except for Ike Davis is not what we need for a first basemen. We need someone who can hit for power.

      • unfurious

        I agree and then disagree. I’m glad we kept JaCoby, but I don’t think we need a homerun hitter. I think that this team would be better served with a high OBP doubles hitter than a high SO homerun hitter. HRs are great and I can’t wait to see Pedro heat up again but I would be fine if they sold high on him during the offseason. World class speed is best served by constant contact.

  • sweetleb

    we still need to upgrade 1b, spend some money and get a real 1b . davis hitting clean up is a joke.

    • bucsws2014

      In researching Davis, it seems he’s either a high HR/K guy or a high BB/OBP guy depending on what he believes the team wants from him. With the Bucs it appears to be the latter, which is not what many of us thought we were getting – and which makes having him at cleanup rather silly – not all that much unlike having Loney there.

      IMO, when Walker returns he should slide right into the 4 spot. Then go L-R-L with Pedro/Martin/Davis or Davis/Martin/Pedro.

      And if Hurdle is going to do that, it only makes sense to do the exact same thing with Josh right now. The guy in an onbase machine at this time and one of the better situational hitters on the team. It’s certainly not a “by the book” move having a 5’8″ utility guy as your cleanup hitter. But until Walker returns, I don’t think there’s a better choice on the team.

      Until such time as it’s proven that Josh is playing over his head and cools off significantly, I have to think the Bucs would still benefit and score more runs with Josh higher in the order than lower.

      As far as the Ike trade goes, I have no issues with it. Say what you will about his individual stats, the team’s record is much better with him in the lineup than not. I will say that the lack of LH pitching prospects is a bit alarming, but I don’t think Taylor was all that to begin with.

      • mysonisnamedafterRoberto

        The nice thing about Harrison toward the bottom of the order is it turns over the line-up with the pitcher getting chances to sacrifice and your top of the order a chance to drive home runs. You figure who ever hits in front of McCutchen will see better pitches probably more fastball. Marte needs the most help in seeing fastballs. He seems to not be able to see and anticipate a slider and where it will end up. I prefer Martin in the 4th hole. One of the best clutch hitters on the team. Great eye and will the ability of the top three to get on it will put a lot of pressure on the pitcher to center the ball more in the strike zone. Walker 5th, Pedro 6th, Mercer 7th and Davis 8th. I think Mercer will see a bump in the 7th and not having to hit in front of the pitcher. If the line up, 1 through 8, does their job, then Davis’ eye in the 8th will force the pitchers hand a little. Do you walk him and let the pitcher sacrifice or with runners on Davis should see some pitches.

        • bucsws2014

          You make a good point, but I was not impressed eith Russ’ s approach yesterday – trying to pull sinkers. Anything to the right side probably scores the run. Casey had the right a pproach vs Hughes.

        • JoseGuillensArm

          Batting Davis 8th is nonsense, you don’t bat a high OBP guy in front of the pitcher. Yes he’s not hitting the amount of home runs you’d expect from a traditional 1B but what he does have is a .932 OPS with runners in scoring position so it would be an absolute waste to have him bat any lower than 6th. I have no problem with Ike in the four hole against righties because contrary to popular opinion he can be counted on with RISP and he also will get on base at a good clip. Yes he’s not Pujols or Chris Davis out there but he’s much better than what we’ve had in the recent past.

  • Scott Kliesen

    File this trade under, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

  • Doc

    not a big Ike fan, but the price of this trade was just about right

    • Lee Young

      Doc…we agree!!!! Write it down….June 16th, we agreed!!!!!

      :) :) :) :) :)

      Foo

  • R Edwards

    I disagree Tim – given Davis performance over the last 2 years and his start this year, we should have gotten him for a much lower price than Taylor. Who else was beating down the Mets’ doors to pickup Davis?

    • SteveW

      Taylor IS a low price. A 2nd round pitcher one year removed from the draft,coming off a so-so season in rookie ball, has less than a 10% chance to ever become even a so-so major leaguer. Davis is at least that right now.

      • R Edwards

        I disagree with your assessment that Taylor is a low price. But regardless, I think he was too high of a price to pay for Davis.

  • Ron Loreski

    I’m sorry, Ike Davis is trash. Someone on this team besides Neil Walker needs to drive in runners. If Ike Davis is just gonna stand there and take walks, then he can go. I’d honestly like to see him non-tendered in the offseason. Move Alvarez to 1st to platoon with Gabby. And maybe make a run at Chase Headley. If Pedro can’t fix his throws, he either has to change positions, or go play somewhere else. He is hurting this team more than he is helping.

    • JoseGuillensArm

      Right because throwing Pedro at first where he hasn’t seen time since high school, maybe earlier than that because he played short, will automatically fix his defensive problems. He’s a much better 3B than people give him credit for, yes he makes more throwing errors than we would like but he’s also going to make plays over there with that same arm that few in the league can make.

    • PiratesFan1975

      I agree, you are sorry.

    • JoseGuillensArm

      Also calling Ike trash is just ridiculous. When he’s played in the appropriate side of the platoon he is performing well and driving in runs. Headley currently has a .206 average and a .644 OPS so if Ike is trash making a run at Headley would be sewer diving.

      • R Edwards

        Driving in runs??

        15 or so in two months – is that driving in runs? 5’8″ Harrison has done more batting leadoff.

        • JoseGuillensArm

          17 playing in a platoon which granted he’s sees more time in but I think that’s a very fair amount to be expecting from a guy who is getting a share of the ABs. Harrison has 16 and no one if doubting that he is playing very well but that doesn’t really have any bearing on Davis getting his time at first. I just fail to see the rationale for all this Ike hatred when he’s been producing.

          By the way Dustin Pedroia is 5’8″ and he won an MVP title so I don’t understand why you felt the need to throw that in there about JHay.

          • R Edwards

            Wow – 17 RBIs in 2 months from your #4 hitter – and supposed power hitter – is a fair amount to you?? Is his sub .400 SLG also acceptable to you? Those numbers are horrific. Are you this desperate to try to keep defending this trade??

            • JoseGuillensArm

              Again if you look at the stats against righties, Ike’s side of the platoon he has a .413 slugging percentage. He was brought in to platoon with gabby and when he is placed in the situations he was brought in for he is performing. If you were expecting him to come in and light the world on fire with 20+ homers and 60 rbi by now then you clearly didn’t have any sense of what we were getting to begin with. We made a trade for a position we have basically no alternatives at other than minor leaguers who have never done it at the major league level. We gave up a pitcher that could’ve been had for next to nothing in Thornton and a 19 year old who has yet to throw a pitch above the GCL level and wouldn’t have any impact on the pirates for the next 3-4 years at best. So what exactly is your hangup on this trade?

              • R Edwards

                My hangup is we gave up way too much. Davis’ performance the last 2 years, plus the first 3-4 weeks of this season, had to have made his trade value rock bottom. In fact, if the Mets hadn’t traded him to the Pirates, I would not have been surprised if they didn’t eventually release him. The fans were increasingly making his continued stay in NY a non starter. He should have been a bargain basement deal – no way justifying one of our top 20 prospects. I wouldn’t have offered them no more than Thornton and say their choice of any two among Pimentel, Gomez, Sadler, Decker, McGuinnes, Mazzaro, and Hughes. If they rejected it, I would have walked away. No one else was trying to take Davis off their hands, at their asking price.

                If you took Ishikawa’s performance in the first 2-3 weeks – and extrapolated that over the first 2 to 2.5 months, his numbers would have likely been comparable to Davis – as far as HRs and RBIs, plus better defense. His average may have been lower and less walks. I Just don’t see how Davis has helped us much, other than drawing walks.

                • JoseGuillensArm

                  Well if he wasn’t worth a top 20 prospect then you’re inclusion of Pimentel in the pick two category negates your argument as he was a top 20 guy. I find it extremely hard to understand your abject hatred of the loss of a 19 yo 2nd round pick who has don’t next to nothing so far. If 5 years down the road he’s a 2-3 starter maybe then you’re argument would hold water but at this point he is simply a lottery ticket like so many on here have already pointed out. You appear incapable of looking at the stats and are simply making the claim that the four hitter should have 30+ homers and 100 RBI and pretty much disregard everything else. Ike Davis does much more than just walk, he holds up his end of the platoon; if that’s not good enough for you then I have a feeling you won’t be satisfied by anyone the Bucs run out to first in the foreseeable future.

                  • R Edwards

                    Taylor was a second round pick – ranked as one of the top 50 prospects in last year’s draft. Pimentel is a journeyman at best – regardless of whether Tim or someone else thinks he’s a top 20 prospect. lets put it this way, i doubt if the Mets would agree to the trade, if you swapped out Taylor for Pimentel.

                    Also, as for “abject hatred” – that is a bit of an overstatement.

                    • bucsws2014

                      Really, you’d give up two guys who are still being paid minimum and are helping the current MLB club – especially Hughes – in order to keep a so-so 2nd rounder? You really do not want the Pirates to have a chance of winning, do you?

                    • R Edwards

                      I’ve been a Pirates fan probably longer than you’ve been alive. No one wants them to win more than me. I followed the Pirates when it wasn’t cool to be a Pirates fan.

                      But, with all that being said, I probably should not have included Hughes in that previous list. I’ve never been much of a fan of Hughes, but he is clearly better than the rest of that list. So, I agree, I retract his name. But, I disagree that any of the other guys are helping the current team much. Gomez had a good outing on Saturday (I think it was), but other than that he’s been pretty much just a mop-up guy – I think Mazzaro is better than him.

                      Taylor is a kid who has a chance of being special – all of the guys I listed are easily replaceable spare parts.

                    • R Edwards

                      I’ve been a Pirates fan probably longer than you’ve been alive. No one wants them to win more than me. I followed the Pirates when it wasn’t cool to be a Pirates fan.

                      But, with all that being said, I probably should not have included Hughes in that previous list. I’ve never been much of a fan of Hughes, but he is clearly better than the rest of that list. So, I agree, I retract his name. But, I disagree that any of the other guys are helping the current team much. Gomez had a good outing on Saturday (I think it was), but other than that he’s been pretty much just a mop-up guy – I think Mazzaro is better than him.

                      Taylor is a kid who has a chance of being special – all of the guys I listed are easily replaceable spare parts.

                    • JoseGuillensArm

                      The classic I’m older than you therefore I know more about the Pirates, I love that one. I just find it hard to believe how you know for sure the Pimentel is a journeyman at best and Taylor is the next Kershaw. There are literally hundreds of prospects over the last five years who were highly rated and have burned out, Pimentel at the very least has reached the majors. Hard to believe you can project so much upside for a guy who hadn’t reached A-ball but be so down on a guy who for two months as a pirate has been at worst adequate.

                    • R Edwards

                      I think you obviously have difficulty in reading comprehension. Please remind me of when I said I know more about baseball or the Pirates, because I am older or have been a fan longer? Please enlighten me as to when I said that. Feel free to actually reply back with my exact quote.

                      Actually, it was my way of responding to someone’s ridiculous assertion that I somehow don’t want the Pirates to win, because I advocated trading such budding superstars as Decker, McGuiness, Pimentel, Gomez, etc – instead of Taylor – for Davis.

                      As for Pimentel, what has he done to date to indicate that he is a prospect, instead of a guy who is likely to be a career minor leaguer? He has a much more extensive body of work – several years in the minors already. I am not saying that he will never be any good, but I would much rather keep a kid like Taylor, who is rated very highly as a prospect one year removed from being drafted, versus a guy who is essentially just a spare part. The ceiling is just much higher with Taylor.

                      Again, I will state this again – although it obviously cannot be proven – but I bet the Mets would not take Pimentel over Taylor in this deal.

            • stickyweb

              Wow 69 ABs as a #4 hitter. You can definitely write off Ike based on such extensive data. He’s OPS .909 with RISP. He’s fine and will do better overall, and find a little power as well.

              • R Edwards

                Keep trying to defend the trade…..for the Pirates sake, I hope you are right. But, I currently do not have much confidence in Davis to do anything more than to draw walks. Lets see where he stands at the all stare break….

    • Andrew

      Chase Headley and Ike Davis are pretty much the same type of hitter, with historically Headley bringing a little higher average and Davis more power. Headley had one great year propelled by a HR/FB% of 21%, and has never come close to that level, failing to have a ISO above .151 in any other season. If you watched Headley you would probably complain that he doesn’t make outs and fails to drive in runs.

    • wkkortas

      You’d prefer we go back to Travis Ishakawa? Granted, Ike hasn’t been the second coming of the young Pujols, but he’s closed what was a huge black hole on the right side of the diamond. As far as just standing there and taking walks…well, someone has to be on base for runs to be driven in, right?

      • R Edwards

        Actually – If you took Ishikawa’s performance in the first 2-3 weeks – and extrapolated that over the first 2 to 2.5 months, his numbers would have likely been comparable to Davis – as far as HRs and RBIs, plus better defense. His average may have been lower and less walks. I Just don’t see how Davis has helped us much, other than drawing walks.

    • leowalter

      I am sorry too Ron,but you have to be a real clown to call any person or player trash. If you can back it up with a better performance on a field than Ike Davis, please do. Otherwise,you would probably be a lot better off coming up with a better much better description.

  • leadoff

    I think the price was right for Ike. Got to give something up to get something. Having said this. I would have to change the Pirate lineup around. It is becoming evident that the 4 hole is a problem, but there is an even bigger problem that might be solved with lineup adjustments. If it were me, I would move Alvarez to 1st base, only because he can’t throw a baseball accurately. Put Josh Harrison at 3b. Put Davis on the bench for a short while to see if this helps the defense. Bat Walker in the 4 hole. I would make these moves when Walker comes back, this gives us a little time to see if Harrison is going to keep hitting. The 4 hole on this team does not have to hit a lot of homeruns, but it does have to have a contact hitter in it. You can’t have both corner infielders causing more problems than they solve.

  • freddylang

    Martin is not good enough to be a 4 hitter. “Clutch” is debatable. He has decent high leverage #’s but is .224 career with risp and 2 out. Also hitting .245 career late and close. I agree with Walker because he is a complete hitter and doesn’t hit into double plays all the time. Walker just gives you a lot of good at bats, a little more power than Martin, and the nice obp and not a lot of double plays with as much as he puts the ball in play. You’d like to have someone better than Walker but for now he is what they have. I have said before I like Walker just about anywhere with the 2 hole and 5 spot the best places for him.

  • freddylang

    It’s ironic that Ishikawa had a -0.2 WAR and Davis has a -0.3 WAR so far. Take them for what they are worth. Davis has showed good plate discipline and that’s about it with the Pirates. He has also made 5 errors. I am a metrics and stats guy but I absolutely hate all of these people saying errors don’t matter. Brian Kenny or whatever his name is on the mlb network says it all the time. It is such a ridiculous statement. Making a few errors does not make you a bad fielder and range and ability to make all the plays is incredibly important but errors absolutely kill you when you have a guy that makes a high # like Pedro. We saw it yesterday. These sabermatricians sound like fools when they say it because everyone that has ever stepped out on even a little league field and played knows that errors kill you. Especially when you have a guy like Pedro that can throw 2-3 routine plays away a month.

    • leadoff

      Most of the posts deal with offense, unfortunately the media or fans don’t pay much attention to defense unless it costs you a game. But if anyone is paying attention they would see without any stats that when the Pirates play defense well they rarely lose. IMO, the constant shifting is not a good thing, I don’t believe these players can play all over the field, someone like Alvarez has to play 3rd base, SS and 2nd base from time to time. I believe in playing the hitter but not in compete shifts unless the hitter is a dead pull hitter.

    • S Brooks

      Freddy, I’m not aware of anyone in the sabermetrician community who says “errors don’t matter.” What I typically hear from sabermetricians is that errors don’t tell the whole story, in that a player who makes 2-3 errors but lets 50 additional balls get by him for hits is not as good a fielder as the player who makes 8 errors but turns most of those extra balls into outs. And that makes perfect sense to me.

      With Pedro you have a guy who actually shows good range, but his extra errors don’t make up for it, so he has a negative defensive rating. So the sabermetrics people would say he’s been bad, just not quite as bad as people may think.

      Unfortunately, Davis HAS been as bad defensively as people think. That’s uncharacteristic for him, though – so here’s hoping it’s a fluke and he’s more sure-handed the rest of the season.

      • freddylang

        I just said Brian Kenny says it all the time and he has a show based on sabermetrics. He is not the only one I have heard say it. I guess I shouldn’t blame a few loudmouths. It’s like blaming Rush Limbaugh for the Tea Party.

      • freddylang

        Pedro is such an incredibly flawed player but he has tools that make it worse. His arm is great. I have said for years that I think Pedro thinks too much instead of just letting it rip…this leads to countless errors and 1-2 counts.

        • leowalter

          Freddy, I would bet he has the same problem at the plate. You can see it on display every time he gets locked up and watches a called third strike. ” Paralysis by analysis ” to quote Joe Morgan.

  • S Brooks

    People complaining about Davis taking walks instead of “driving in runs” are missing a pretty obvious point: the reason Davis is getting walked – his on base percentage with runners in scoring position is nearly .500 (!!!) – is that he is not getting pitches in the zone to hit. Would they rather he swing at a pitcher’s pitch and get himself out as so many of his teammates have shown adept at doing? Like Martin did yesterday, bases loaded and nobody out? Or like Pedro “rally killer” Alvarez does nearly every AB with runners in scoring position?

    If the Bucs had anyone hitting behind Davis that opposing pitchers feared even a little, this wouldn’t be an issue.

    I would love to see Davis hit a few more balls with authority, and I expect him to. Davis’ ISOs have been .176, .241, .235, .129, and this year it’s .131. And about that .129 – after his return from AAA it was .219. His power didn’t evaporate after 2012, it’ll show up.

    And seriously, people are too fixated on the tired memes of “a 1B needs to hit HR” or “a cleanup hitter needs to hit HR.” What is this, 1977?

    • JoseGuillensArm

      That was excellent

    • freddylang

      I like that Davis is drawing walks but hopefully he gets the the power bat going and starts playing better defense. Especially in PNC…he needs to start hitting that Clemente wall.

      • freddylang

        First Baseman definitely don’t need to hit for power. Keith Hernandez shared an MVP in 1979 without many HR…But he hit some, plenty of doubles and great defense….if you don’t hit for big HR power you better do some other stuff besides walk in rbi situations. I am not trashing Ike…he just needs to do more to justify getting him. I reserve total judgement because its not like the Pirates had a bunch of options.

    • emjayinTN

      SB: First, the trade is an absolute win for the Pirates based on what the Mets were asking for him. Right now we have 3 guys named Cumpton, Locke, and Worley who are pitching their butts off and are hanging on by their fingernails to stay in the majors. And, we had NOBODY at 1B to put in the lineup to hit RHP’s – we were struggling, but the Mets blinked. You win now, and not 4 years from now if that kid ever develops. And, on base percentage is what wins games. Love to see those excellent W/K Ratio’s for guys like ‘Cutch, Martin, Walker, and Davis. Many on PP are excellent students of the game and recognize exactly of which you are speaking. Many others do not. Now that I have jumped on that praise bandwagon, why can we not teach him how to trigger without bouncing his hands down and then up again to the ready position? With more guys throwing mid-90’s, this is not the way to develop a quicker bat.

      • freddylang

        You win now. That’s why you leave Polanco in the minors for 2+ months. I’m just being a d!ck. We all know the reasons. I seriously think with a little better defense and better situational hitting the Pirates will get to 85 wins or so and have a shot at the playoffs…then next year they will start their reign of terror.

        • piratemike

          I agree with your 3rd sentence.

    • stickyweb

      Great post Brooks. When Cutch is walking all the time, everyone blames the guy hitting behind him for not intimidating the pitcher enough to pitch to Cutch. When Davis walks all the time, everyone blames him for not chasing balls out of the zone.

      ‘And seriously, people are too fixated on the tired memes of “a 1B needs to hit HR” or “a cleanup hitter needs to hit HR.” What is this, 1977?’

      I was going to type that exact line with the year 1970. Thanks for allowing me to just cut and paste.

  • S Brooks

    It’s one thing to evaluate this trade in a vacuum, but I think it’s fair to take a further step back and evaluate the strategy to address 1B, beginning in the offseason. After all, one of the reasons this trade looks better is because Davis was replacing Ishikawa, but Ishikawa was the first option only because the front office passed on tendering GI Jones (at $5.3M arbitration projection and coming off a horrible ’13, a good decision), making a subsequent free agent offer to Jones or Morneau, missed out on Loney, and watched Lambo crater in winter ball and spring training.

    Jones and Morneau were subsequently signed to 2-year deals: Morneau for $12.5M and Jones for $7.75M. Davis is making $3.5M this year, and barring a breakout season, should be in for a ~$5M salary in ’15, which puts him at $8.5M. The advantage with Davis is you don’t HAVE to pay him the ’15 salary if you don’t like what you have – you can just non-tender him. Jones and Morneau’s contracts are guaranteed.

    As for Blake Taylor, Fangraphs did an analysis of career and team-control WAR based on where a player was drafted. At Taylor’s spot, #51, he has about a 75% chance of returning zero or less lifetime value to the Pirates, a 15% chance of delivering between 1-10 WAR, and a 5% chance of doing better than 10 WAR. The expected value of the pick is between 1-2 WAR. It’s worth noting that prep pitchers are the absolute riskiest bets out there, with an overall higher likelihood of not making the majors, or if they make them, of flaming out without generating so much as 1 career WAR. So Taylor carries an even riskier profile than the percentages cited above.

    Jones and Davis are both currently at -0.3 WAR, Morneau is doing well at 1.2. Assume if the Pirates had offered the same contract to GI Jones that Miami did, Jones would have taken the deal.

    Would you rather have:

    33 year-old GI Jones for 2 years at $7.75M with the Blake Taylor lottery ticket;
    27 year-old Ike Davis for 2 years at $8.5M and the option to cut the cord after 1 year if you don’t like him, plus the option to extend to 3 years if you do, with no Blake Taylor; or
    33 year-old Justin Morneau for 2 years and $12.5M with Blake Taylor?

    It won’t take much for Davis to look better than keeping Jones, since their contracts are equivalent – he just needs to deliver 2 more WAR over the course of 2 years, which he could do by simply fielding at his career rate. That would also cover the expected value of Taylor.

    Morneau is performing better than Davis, but he also costs $4M more. In order for this to be a “win” for the Bucs, Davis would have to deliver a little less than 1 WAR more than Morneau over the next 2 years.

    Time will tell.

    • lonleylibertarian

      Great post Brooks – Fangraphs show Jones a bit over 0 WAR but the difference in WAR for Davis and Jones is not my issue.
      I would have preferred to have the Blake Taylor chip available now for a package to go after another starter now…

      And all of this analysis is missing the option that really made sense for a team coming off of it’s first playoff games in 20 years and looking to make a statement and spend a little money – they could have at least made an attempt to land Abreu – sat by and let him go the to the White Sox…

      Every time I see Davis bat, I don’t imagine that GI or Morneau could be in his place – but a guy who seems to be a lock or AL ROY and has a WAR of 1.9 headed for 4+

      • JoseGuillensArm

        I understand your position and I think we all would love Abreu but like you said all we could do was make an offer. For what he signed for he was never more than a dream for the Buccos.

    • leadoff

      Morneau is playing in Colorado, much different than PNC park. Morneau played well last year up until Sept. I would grade him out at the end of the year and consider the area and the park he is playing in.