First Pitch: Have the Pirates Already Added the Pitching They Need?

A few weeks ago, the Pittsburgh Pirates looked to be sitting on the fence between buyers and sellers. They were just below .500, just saw their top prospect promoted, and had several teams to jump in the Wild Card race. I wrote about how they needed pitching, and should pursue a pitcher that they can control beyond the 2014 season, as the need for pitching and the chances to contend in 2015 looked to be greater than their chances in 2014.

That was also a time when the 2015 rotation looked to be Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton, and then three open spots. Thus the need for starters in 2015.

A few weeks later, the Pirates have seen the addition of two very productive starting pitchers to their rotation. Jeff Locke and Vance Worley have been fantastic lately, and are part of the reason why the Pirates are currently above .500. Locke has a 2.54 ERA in 28.1 innings this month. After tonight’s start, Worley has a 1.74 ERA in 20.2 innings.

Worley is only a year removed from being a good MLB starter. Tonight, I wrote about how Worley’s mechanics are back on track, and based on the results and the history, there’s good reason to think he’s back to the starter he was pre-2013. On Tuesday, I wrote about how Jeff Locke’s numbers look legit, and how he looks like a completely different pitcher this year.

It’s still early with each pitcher, and we’re talking about small sample sizes that support the eye test. There is still one month to go before the trade deadline, giving the Pirates several more starts from each pitcher to get a better idea of what they’ve got. Neither guy is a top of the rotation starter, but both guys are capable of being reliable MLB pitchers, and guys you could slot in to the Opening Day roster in 2015.

The thing about the Pirates is that they don’t necessarily need a bunch of top of the rotation starters. Last year they had success largely due to their pitching staff. The offense struggled, and they won because they were led by three guys who were pitching like top of the rotation starters (A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano, and Gerrit Cole by the end of the year). This year they really haven’t had anyone pitching like a top of the rotation guy. Liriano has struggled, Cole has been good but not great, and everyone else has been in “reliable starter” territory.

One other big change this year has been the emergence of a strong offense. Now that Gregory Polanco is up, the Pirates are led by a ton of speed at the top of the lineup, which has resulted in some good performances from all three outfielders. Even with Starling Marte out, they can sub in the hot hitting Josh Harrison. Neil Walker has been hitting for more power this year. Russell Martin has been strong offensively this year. In fact, the entire offense is clicking right now, leading the Pirates to having the second best wRC+ in baseball in the month of June, and the best in the NL.

Because of this strong offense, the Pirates don’t need a lot of top of the rotation guys. They’re not a team that needs to win 1-0 or 2-1. If they get a starter who gives up three runs, but eats some innings, they’re still going to be in the game.

They still do need a guy who can anchor the pitching staff. Hopefully that would be Gerrit Cole or Francisco Liriano when they return. Cole returns this weekend, and Liriano is starting his progression back to the majors. If one, or both of those guys gets back to being a top of the rotation guy, then that would be another big boost to the rotation.

It’s not out of the question for the Pirates to trade for a starter. Even if their 2015 rotation is Cole, Morton, Locke, and Worley, they could still use another strong starter. But they don’t look as desperate as they might have looked at the start of the month. It looks like they’ve got two good additions to the rotation in Locke and Worley, which is a nice boost. The offense is also showing more signs of being legit, with Polanco providing a big spark, Josh Harrison continuing to hit, and everyone else doing well. Combine those two things, and the Pirates may have already made the in-season additions that they needed.

There’s still a month before the trade deadline. We’ll see if those additions are all that is needed.

Links and Notes

**Prospect Watch: Luis Heredia Pitches Gem, Edwin Espinal Comes Up Big at the Plate

**Vance Worley Looks Like the Pirates Big Reclamation Project This Year

**Pirates Trade Adalberto Santos to the Giants

**Altoona Curve to Pay Tribute to Evan Chambers on Sunday

**Prospect Highlights: Josh Bell Extends Streak, Cole Tucker Double, Orlando Castro vs Colin Moran

**Minor League Schedule: Casey Sadler and Adrian Sampson Go Tonight

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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  • Kevin_Young

    If Kingham decides he doesn’t feel like giving up runs in AAA then he could be all the pitching the Pirates need to acquire…hopefully.

    • emjayinTN

      Excellent point. I would much rather see the Pirates trust their developmental system than try to find something on the open market. Kingham is in his age 22 season and as good as anything out there right now. Joely Rodriguez is a LHSP in his age 22 season who just seems to get better each year. Jameson Taillon is rehabbing from TJ surgery in this his age 22 season, and Tyler Glasnow is in his age 21 season and cruising through Hi A just like he did through Lo A last year, and Stolmy Pimental is still only in his age 24 season right now with the Pirates. Brandon Cumpton, Jeff Locke, and Vance Worley provide more than enough support while we wait for some of the younger guys.

    • smurph

      Totally agree. Cubs or Rays are going to want at least two of those players you named and a positional player to get one of their pitchers. NH will not do that. Pirates have plenty of SP depth. It’s just that most of it is younger guys.

    • Scott

      Is Kingham actually a legit candidate to be brought up this year (before September), or is this more just on the wishful thinking side of things? Otherwise June 2015 might be his time, along with Taillon.

      I would like an experienced starter (Burnett, Kennedy, etc) instead of rushing Kingham along, but if he’s truly ready, then there’s no need for a SP and instead the Pirates should add bullpen help…basically another guy to add to the 8-9th inning mix.

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

    I feel like they are decent shape. I think the break will do Cole and Frankie good. EV & Morton are both doing well, especially Charlie. Locke and Worley regaining form, with Cumpton and maybe Kingham, I’m optimistic about them as well. Another solid SP would be very comforting.
    Any reasonable additions you fine folks are thinking about, Price and Jeff Schmegmajar aside.
    Phil Hughes?
    Ian Kennedy?
    John Danks?
    Big Fat Bartolo Colon?

    Others…

    • Andrew

      James Hammels
      Brandon McCarthy

  • johnj618

    In terms of people saying the Pirates may potentially need to trade for a reliever, would Andy Oliver, Vin Mazzaro or Brandon Cumpton once likely removed from the rotation be able to fill a bullpen spot if Grilli or Wilson were taken out?

  • mam995

    Tim, in 2011 and 2012, the Pirates considered going to a six man rotation. In 2011, Paul Maholn objected. In 2012, AJ Burnett objected. I don’t see ANYBODY on this current pitching staff who has the clout to object from doing this. Forget being creatures of habit and being on a routine. Most of these pitchers have NOT been on a consistent routine because they’ve been HURT. A six man rotation would allow the Pirates to keep someone in the majors who has been highly effective (like a Locke or a Worley). Whether the Pirates realize it or not…they are in a dogfight for a playoff spot. The Brewers are for real. The Cardinals are always for real…and the Reds can be very dangerous with their solid starting pitching. You do what you have to do (to win). If I were NH and Hurdle, this is EXACTLY what I would do and DARE someone to object. An extra day of rest won’t hurt and might even HELP someone like Cole, who is experiencing fatigue (just like Locke did last year). You’re are right about the Pirates having enough pitching this year. Next year, it will be even more exciting,. Nick Kingham is AHEAD in his learning curve, and might just be ready for the big leagues by the end of the year. Certainly next year. With Jameson Taillon hopefully being ready by mid-season next year….the Pirates will have potentially, a terrific rotation next season.

  • Monsoon Harvard

    I thought tonight was a good test for Worley. Four different Mets batters had high batting averages against Vance, especially Daniel Murphy, who was a whopping 12 for 17 against Worley coming into the game.

    He dispatched of them all very nicely. He pitched better against them than he had in his whole career. I would say Worley is as ‘back’ as he ever could be, and maybe better than ever.

  • Scott Kliesen

    Pirates are loaded w 3-5 SP’s. What they need is a true Ace to match up w other contenders best. Cole and Liriano have the capability to be top of rotation studs, but aren’t delivering this type of performance yet in 2014. If this team is to contend, they either need for these two to raise their game, or they need to go get Price.

    • Doug

      So you be fine with giving up Glasnow, Meadows, and Bell for Price? Because that’s what it would take.

      • Scott Kliesen

        Truthfully, I see both sides of the argument. There is risk in castrating the farm system for a short window, and there is risk in hoping young pitchers develop while Cutch, Alvarez and Walker are in their prime years.

        I believe NH is much more inclined to take the path of least resistance and bank on his staff developing his draft choices.

        • Josh

          I disagree with the idea that relying on the system to develop talent is the path of least resistance. If there is one thing I know about Yinzers (and sports fans in general) its that going out and making a big splash on the trading market is always a positive PR move. Trusting the system to develop rather than trading for Price or Smarrszbjbkfmviaya is arguably the tougher decision to make.

      • Will Sanchez

        won’t give up any of them for anybody…that’s is available right now..

    • emjayinTN

      $14 mil in 2014, probably around $18 mil in 2015 and then he is a Free Agent that we will not be able to afford. He is the best available, but too high of a price in prospects and salary for one year and then gone.

      • moose7195

        Yeah, he is this year’s Giancarlo Stanton. And it isn’t worth sacrificing the future for one player

        • blackmax

          It seems to me that the question is whether the Pirates should be content to contend for a playoff spot or whether they should build to win playoff series. If it’s the latter, they need to find someone like Price. If the Pirates traded for him, they’d have him for two playoff runs. If it was my call, I would trade Glasnow (or Kingham), Bell, and a 3lrd prospect (other than McGuire) for Price. As for Meadows, I doubt if he would be traded due to his injury. But trades like this are way outside the front office’s method of operation.

          • smurph

            No, no, no. Read emjay’s post. He explained why you don’t make that move. You want a #1 starter? You got him. Who will be a better pitcher 2 or 3 years from now, Price or Cole (or Taillon or Glasnow, for that matter)? I know what my answer is.

            • blackmax

              I read it already, and I disagree. Remember that the Pirates will be lucky if either Kingham or Glasnow turns into a front line starter. Both are interesting prospects, but neither is certain to be effective in the majors, let alone a Cy Young winner. If the Pirates can trade one of these two lottery tickets for an ace who will be with them for 2 playoff runs, then it’s a sensible move. I would be very reluctant to trade them both and would try to avoid it. Joely, Pimantel, and the rest of the names mentioned above are not going to propel any team through the playoffs.

            • bucsws2014

              Who’s playing IF behind Cole in 3 years? Who’s catching?

          • Will Sanchez

            my vote is Build on what we got …Get the future 3b, 1b, 2 more starting pitchers, another catcher and another ss-2b..

            • csnumber23

              I completely agree but I think Josh Bell is going to be the future 1B

              • Will Sanchez

                it’s hard to tell what the FO will do..we need IF and they still trading for OF..we got over 1/2 the future in place…lets go get the other 1/2..and let the good times begin…

          • csnumber23

            No way Tyler Glasnow goes anywhere if I were running the team!!!

            • Will Sanchez

              well said..i would include Taillon and Kingman…along with what we got now ..Cole, Morton,Locke,Cumpton,Sadler,Worley.and whatever we can get in a trade or FA . will be enough options to get a decent rotation out of it..now to get “the rest of the Pieces”

        • keithconto

          Exactly what future are you sacrificing ? The one where you almost get there or the one that a player of his caliber gets you ? This system is deep enough to afford him with out sacrificing the future. It’s part of the reason you build a good system. Also, if for some reason you don’t make it this year and bad things happen next year you have a pretty good chip to trade come deadline time. It’s very unlikely that a system, any system, provides everything you need to field a playoff caliber team.

          • bucsws2014

            Right. It’s June 2014. In June 2017, you still have an OF of Marte, Cutch, Polanco. You still have Cole. You’ll have Morton if his team option is excerised ($9.5 mil, should be a value). And if you keep everyone around who’s controllable, you’d still have Locke, Worley & Cumpton as starters, Watson, Hughes, Gomez & Pimintel in relief, Harrison, T. Sanchez & Mercer as position players, with the expected additions of Hanson, Taillon, Glasnow, Kingham, J. Rodriguez and heck, let’s throw Lambo in there.

            But the key is those first four, as 2017 is likely the last year they’ll be together. So the Bucs have 3.5 years to take advantage of that. You’ve got seven potential starters, who should all be above MLB average, and that’s not counting Joely or Sadler (whom I didn’t even list). Plus, Heredia should be ready to come along with one or more pitchers drafted from 2012-2014.

            For what reason would the Bucs hoard all of those starting pitching prospects? Are they going to a seven-man rotation? Eventually one of Glasnow/Kingham/Heredia needs to be traded because they’re going to bring more value to the Bucs than moving a Locke, Worley, Cumpton or similar. That’s baseball. It’s one of the main purposes of developing a top system – developing high-value, controllabe trade chips you can use to get the guys you need to win a championship.

            Now, nobody really expects all three of Locke/Worley/Cumpton to still be around. But with the depth the Bucs have in SP prospects, they should be more than capable of filling slots that come up from natural attrition. Trading “the future” is not in play. The Pirates have plenty of future. Trading a top prospect is all we’re talking about.

          • Will Sanchez

            if we keep trading prospects away..the “WELL” will run dry soon..lets see 2 to the Twins for 1 month of MORNEU, 2 the Mets for 1 month of BUCK and Byrd..2 to the Mets for Davis, 1 and a 1mill (+ or – )$to the Marlins for a “future pick” thats 7 gone and ? nothing back in return..

            • bucsws2014

              “Nothing back in returh”? The Bucs were one game away from the NLCS and Byrd was a huge part of that. I don’t think we take Cincy w/o him. Well worth the cost of Vic Black.

              And the Bucs didn’t send a prospect to Miami. They sent a reliever who wasn’t doing very well here. And they GOT a prospect in return.

              • Will Sanchez

                at a cost of 1.month rent..4 players for one month of BYRD.
                the rest was a non-factor

              • Will Sanchez

                I would not Connor Joe a prospect …not yet ..but time will tell

    • jalcorn427

      For those wanting Price, here is a guess at the price, courtesy of BP.

      From: Neal Huntington

      To: Andrew Friedman

      June 25, 9:58 p.m.

      My offer: Tyler Glasnow, Josh Bell (OF), Nick Kingham (RHP) and Jonathan Schwind (OF)

      This package still leaves me with my top pitching prospect (Taillon)
      and, with my major-league OF set for the foreseeable future, the loss of
      Bell and Schwind doesn’t hurt as much.

      To: Neal Huntington
      From: Andrew Friedman
      Well, I’m glad putting together this package wasn’t too painful for
      you, though I could have done without the gloating about how many
      prospects you have. I like the idea of getting Glasnow into our system,
      where we could develop his deficient changeup. Josh Bell has been so good that I’ve almost stopped confusing him with the one who busted with Baltimore, and Kingham looks like someone we could plug into the rotation in 2015. As for Schwind, I like my prospects’ faces a little less lined. If I can count six crinkles on one side of your face when you smile, you’d better already be in the big leagues.
      I’m a little worried that the two biggest names haven’t taken the
      Double-A test, but I like that you’re offering some ceiling and some
      certainty. You’re leading in the clubhouse, but the FriedPhone is
      blowing up over here.

    • bucsws2014

      This is the challenge. What the Bucs have now, combined with their offense, could be enough to get them into the postseason again, if they keep playing like they have since May 6. But once you’re in the post-season, this rotation likely isn’t good enough. The Bucs offense can be shut down by the other guy’s ace while our guys will likely be pitching OK, but giving up 2-3 runs in 6 IP.

      Without that ace going twice in each series, the Bucs will continue to be a competitive disadvantage. We simply don’t have a shutdown big-game pitcher, nor the desire to go get one. I see the potential for a lot of 1st round exits in our future. And many people here seem to be perfectly OK with that. It’s worth noting that none of them actually play for the Pirates.

      Now, maybe Cole can be that guy. He almost was last year, but ultimately no match for Wainwright. It’s even possible Locke could be that guy if he can keep it together for more than half a season. But it would be comforting to know the Bucs actually have that guy instead of hoping they having someone who might step up.

      I’m not suggesting going out and signing Price. But I do want to note yet again that there’s a contingent of “fans” here who continually dismiss acquiring ANY premium outside talent out of hand (whether FA or trade) and seem to be perfectly fine with just competing and never going for the gold ring. The delusional aspects of thinking that only homegrown talent will get the Bucs to the Promised Land and that every rookie or reclamation project will be THE GUY when the hour calls for it is sometimes amusing.

      Personally, I really don’t want to be the A’s and never experience a World Series. And Beane has more financial pressures to deal with than Neal does. Nutting’s investment is returning 10.7% each year.

      • Andrew

        If you are 8 games back in the division a game over .500 and battling six teams for a Wild Card spot, you should not be making trades to looking for a starter you can throw twice in a five game series. Look to improve the team to better the chance of a wild card spot, there are many ways to do this and just about all of them will not cost top of the line prospects this year and $20 million next.

        • bucsws2014

          The kind of retort I’d expect from a political discussion. Read again. I did not say I wanted to sign Price. I am talking about people who simply dismiss any discussion about an upgrade from outside the organization at pretty much any price. You see it here every single time anyone suggests an FA or a trade for someone proven.

          I can’t wait to hear the comments in 2018 when, if the Bucs p/u team options on Marte & Cutch, we’ll have a $40 million OF, plus Cole with an eight figure 3rd year arb salary. That’ll be $50+ mill on 4 players. Heads will explode.

          • Andrew

            Any discussion is going to have people who are advocates and people who dismiss it. This is a prospect site, it caters to people who have an affinity for prospects I think t is completely logical that many of the comments exhibit some loss aversion for prospects.

            I see this as more of general versus specific issue, my response was addressing the specific side, when commenting on more general issues the discussion become more abstract and can get very long which I don’t always have time for.

            In general I have no problem with looking to add a front end starter in preparation for the post-season but in this specific instance it just doesn’t make sense. The odds of winning the division are too low. I think you need a much greater probability of a guaranteed of two games for a top of rotation starter in order for it two make sense to surrender future assets.

            Speaking for myself the cost of adding additional players depends upon position on the win curve and position in the life cycle of team’s window. I think there are a lot of variables right now that make it difficult to get an accurate projection of this Pirates team for this season. Also don’t think Polanco is going to get $17 million in his first arbitration year.

            • bucsws2014

              No, Polanco should make at least $9 mill if the Bucs buy out that year and $11 milll or more if he goes to arb and he does as well as everyone expects (2016-17 inflation included). But you’re correct, I added wrong, it’s $30+ not $40 for those three plus $10+ for Cole. Doesn’t really change the argument. Going from zero players over $10 million to 2 or 3 or more is a near-term reality the Pirates have to deal with. At some point a line in the sand has to be drawn to win now. Maybe that’s not this year. But it should be within the next two before these contracts start blowing up.

          • Will Sanchez

            that is called “Assets” and just like the rays now will bring “top of the class” prospects in return to any average GM.

      • jalcorn427

        I think you are framing this unfairly because in no way am I suggesting that outside upgrades at any price are a bad thing. I’m starting that really big ticket upgrades at high prices are a bad idea for a team playing within the current construct of MLB. Upgrades at lower cost certainly make sense (like Byrd/Morneau) last year. The really isn’t any evidence that a team acquiring a star (like Price or Stanton) benefits so much short term to offset the long term impact. We talking about 2-3 wins over half a season which is valuable if we are tied with Milwaukee right now, but not so valuable when the prize is a one game coin-flip.

        • jalcorn427

          Further, I’m in no hurry to satisfy an immediate itch and expedite a return to the bad old days. This thing took a long time to build from the ground up, its not time to tear it apart for a short term boost when our WS odds are current 1.5%. Sustainability will only be achieved via patience.

          • bucsws2014

            Why is it when someone mentions trading a prospect, the interpretation is immediately, “YOU CAN’T TEAR THE WHOLE THING DOWN! YOU’RE TRADING THE FUTURE! WE’LL BE DOOOOOMED FOR ANOTHER 20 YEARS!”

            I was here last year poking fun at the folks who wanted to trade 4 top prospects for Stanton. I’d make fun of the same folks for wanting to do the same for Price. But if we’re only talking one or two top 10-15 guys for a proven 5-6+ WAR asset, that is not stripping the system.

    • Will Sanchez

      No way..the asking “price ” for price is too..STEEP”..can not mortgage the future for a “long shot ” shot at at “WC spot”

  • moose7195

    I have to disagree. I think they need another bullpen arm. Preferably one with some experience as a closer.

    • jalcorn427

      This would be my only target (RH reliever). The frontline SP would cost way too much in trade and the options we could afford aren’t really upgrades unless Liriano continues to struggle despite his excellent pitch values (which I don’t think will happen). A guy like Benoit would be nice, or a similar option with less contract issues. If they do go SP, Brandon McCarthy would be a nice buy low as would our friend AJ.

      • BlueBomber72

        Huston Street would be nice to have also. Padres need prospects and have no need for him. The guy has been a rock his whole career. The Pirates would only owe him money this year, unless they wanted to pick up his option. I’m sure he will be in high demand, but we have the prospects to get him.

        • bucsws2014

          Even I’m not big on prospects for relievers. Giving up a fringe starter, that would be OK if the Pads aren’t offering any salary relief. The Pads do need starters and controlability. Somebody like Sadler might be perfectly suited for a rental trade like this. Doubt the Bucs would try to re-sign Street as he’s already at $7 mill and is only projecting to a 1 WAR this year, although that’s presumably because the Pads stink.

          But I’d rather take a shot as JJ Putz for the immediate future. If the Bucs get closer to the Brewers by late July and within a game of the WC, then I’d take a shot at Street as he’ll probably still be available close to the deadline.

    • bucsws2014

      I would be willing to take a flier on JJ Putz. Even if he doesn’t make it all the way through the season, he could provide a short term boost. His peripherals are still pretty good – Ks, GB%, xFIP. His BAA is ridiculously high at .400. A better catcher and OF defense might be helpful.

    • csnumber23

      Honestly, I still would not mind seeing an upgrade at SS. Mercer is playing better of late and his defense has been better than expected but I don’t think he is the long term answer.

  • leadoff

    The Pirates are thin at the back end of the pen and there are a couple of good closers that they might want to look at and should look at. Grilli appears to be an afterthought right now, in fact if Melancon does not close, who does?

    • piraddict

      Watson.

      • leadoff

        NO, not Watson or Melancon, they are both set up men.

        • csnumber23

          I disagree! Melancon can be a very solid closer!

    • Will Sanchez

      SO the BAD trades are beginning to show their effect….

  • piraddict

    No need to add a pitcher by a trade at the cost of top line prospects this season when a free agent could be signed over the winter with the money otherwise committed this year to Wandy, Liriano and Volquez (plus a few more dollars) that will not cost any prospects. To advance through the playoffs, not just make them as a wild card, the Pirates do need a true #1 starter. But the offense isn’t ready, even with the recent improvement, to dominate as will be needed in 2014. I don’t go “all in” for 2014. 2015 is the year!

    • blackmax

      It seems to me that the offense is already ready, and since they have Martin for 2014 they should make a run now.

      • piraddict

        The League hasn’t found Polanco’s holes yet. They will and he will need to counter punch.

        Alvarez is still in a funk. He needs to breakout.

        Mercer still needs to recover from his near death experience. He should be a .270/.330/.450/.780 hitter.

        Marte still needs to discover the strike zone. When he does, watch out.

        Davis needs to average out his plate patience and swinging for power. He’s gone from swing for the fences with low OBP in NY to higher OBP with a wimpy bat. He needs to turn that around.

        The only Pirates at or above offensive potential are Cutch, Martin and Harrison. Walker still has more to give.

        So, no, I don’t think the offense had matured yet. It’s kind of like when management says that players need to have so many at bats at AAA to be ready for the Major Leagues. It’s the same at MLB. Players need probably even more at bats in the League before they can settle in and be truly confident at the plate. 2014 is still Summer Training time for 6 out of the 8 regular position players in the Pirates lineup. Hopefully in 2015 the majority of them will be firing on all cylinders.

        Hopefully the Pirates can resign Martin. If not they take a step back from excellent to acceptable at catcher with Sanchez and the fall back will be compensated for by the advancement of other players.

        • leadoff

          Agree on the maturation process and it is quite evident when not one of them can hit in the 4 hole and they can hit somewhere else in the lineup. As far as Martin is concerned, he is in an age regression area and giving big money to a player like him has to be taken into consideration, since we are talking about maturity, why not let Sanchez play and mature next year, I am sure the Pirates see it this way, his talent is top shelf, just needs the same maturation process we are willing to give other players.

          • piraddict

            Good points.

          • blackmax

            Why not give Sanchez a chance? He’s hitting .198 at AAA. That is why.

    • wkkortas

      You may be right that the 2015 is the year–if that’s the case, wouldn’t it be better to have David Price, an ace in the here-and-now, rather than a Glasnow or Kingham, who may or may not be come 2017 or so? Sometimes, if you feel that you can really win a World Championship, you have to go “all-in”; if 2015 is the year, then David Price is the guy.

      • piraddict

        I am willing to wait for “Yu Darvish”, whoever this winter’s splash free agent will be. Last year it was Tanaka. I don’t know the International market, so I can’t say who it will be, but every year it’s someone. And this winter that someone needs to become a Pirate!

        • Andrew

          This is a team that wouldn’t risk more that $12 million on a one year deal for Burnett, I wouldn’t be hold my breath waiting for a big money long term deal for a starting pitcher.

          • piraddict

            Burnett was 37 and temper-mental. I wouldn’t have gone overboard to sign him either. They should be looking to sign someone around age 30 to a three to five year deal. Yes it’s big risk, but the Pirates have an abundance of low cost options to fill slots 2 to 5, so the overall pitching budget may not be far out of whack.

            • Andrew

              Fair point, I just think the Pirates have an upper limit that they are willing to pay for free agent pitching that removes bigger names from consideration.

        • wkkortas

          The Pirates’ aren’t going to pay anyone Tanaka money and Tanaka term; the free agent and international markets are not viable options for this franchise.

          • piraddict

            Normally I’d agree with you. But since Cole, Taillon, Kingham, Locke, Worley, Cumpton are so young they are very low cost options to fill out the rotation (trade Morton for a SS when Taillon, Kingham are ready) and the Pirates could afford one top of the line guy.

          • bucsws2014

            Hate to agree here, but I don’t see the Bucs ever agreeing to a posting fee.

        • Will Sanchez

          ” “Yu Darvish”, whoever this winter’s splash” no winter splash is going to come to the “Burg” and accept less than market money..the team of “coon-hunt-nutts” simply will not pay for it..

    • bucsws2014

      Jon Lester would be at the top of that list for me. But I think the BoSox will trade him before he gets to FA. Outside chance they give him a QO.

      My second choice would be Hammel. Always had good stuff, but I think he’s finally found himself.
      Scherzer would be too expensive and a bit more risk that I’d be willing to take.
      Shields… maybe.
      McCarthy… I don’t think he’s a good fit. Besides the odd peripherals, he does not like to pitch inside. I don’t think he and Ray would get on the same page.
      Masterson… maybe, but not real exciting.
      Morrow, no.
      Beckett, meh.

      Nobody else really worth discussing. Cueto and Gallardo have team options that I’m certain will be exercised.

      • piraddict

        Great suggestions! Though I’d rate Hamels ahead of Lester. Both left handed, would benefit from PNC and the Pirates outfield … you have convinced me! The Pirates should target Hamels the same way they targeted Martin two winters ago… go out hard and early to ink Hamels, whatever it takes. No need for the International FA market then. Let’s see what the Pirates actually do!

        • bucsws2014

          Sounds like you’re thinking of Cole Hamels, with his $144 mill 6-year albatross of a contract. I was talking about Jason Hammel, he of the sub-.300 xFIP who’d be available for a whole lot less than $24 mill/year,

          • piraddict

            You are right, I misunderstood. I forgot his signing. What year is Hamels in in his contract? I would be willing to pay $24MM for a #1 like this year’s Hamels, in this window with otherwise cheap but potentially great pitching to fill #2 to #5. They’ll have Liraino’s $8MM, Wandy’s$8MM and Volquez’s $5MM to start at $21MM. They’d only have to come up with another $3MM. But the back end would come with considerable risk if the contract is just getting started given his age.

            Regarding Hammel, interesting possibility. Will he be a FA this winter? Really pitching well this year, but seems to have had an up & down career. Something the Pirates pitching gurus can enhance? Hurdle had him in Colorado, seems to still like him. so he might be a possibility, and probably for more like $16MM at age 32. Question would be length of contract. You’d like to close him out when it comes time to try to sign Cole.

  • Monsoon Harvard

    If you have a team that can score 4 runs a game, and a starting pitcher staff that regularly goes 7 innings and gives up 3 runs or less, then that team can win the world series.

    This stuff about ‘needing a number 1′ ace is ridiculous.

    • blackmax

      You’re not considering that they will be faced with Kershaw, Greinke, Ryu and (or) Burnett in the playoffs. Cole can’t pitch for 4 days straight.

    • piraddict

      The difference between a #1 with a sub 2.75 ERA versus a #3 with a 3.25 to 3.75 ERA is significant. So needing a #1 is not ridiculous. It would be great if Worley and Locke can maintain their present ERA’s. But history and common sense says that they will regress to #3 status, same as Morton. We can hope that Cole will mature to a #2 (ERA between 2.75 and 3.25). And we need to go out and purchase a #1 for 2015. A line up of a #1, #2, #3, #3, ## would be great!

      Don’t think Worley and Locke’s recent success will be sustainable.

  • keithconto

    Yes the guys they have brought in have pitched very well. Yes the offense is much better than last year. But I still think they need to add a front line starter for a couple reasons.
    1. Everyone knows that come playoff time runs are hard to come by. Guys get very few pitches to hit. Rotations are shortened and your facing at worst a teams 3rd starter. I think your teams top 2 need to be as good as the other guys top 2. While the Pirates rotation overall has been very good, as you said, they really havent’ had a ace type performer this year. they need to get one.
    2. The rotation going into next year needs filling. While Locke and Worley have been nice stories does anyone think they are upper part of the rotation guys ? And you just don’t know about Taillon. Yes the track record is very good for TJ comebacks at this time. But you still don’t know.
    Having another guy for the rest of this year and next gives you a lot of leeway and options for what you want to do with your rotation.

  • st1300b

    Don’t care what you offer. Glasnow is not available. Bell to me is a reincarnation of Bonilla, only ready for 1b in a year or two. No deal.
    However, if you want to trade someone for Price, a good place to start would be last year’s NL HR champ in Alvarez. Now you can manage to see a fair deal start to emerge. The price on Alvarez at this point is the bonus for TB.
    I see a complimentary player involved, such as Stolmy/Joely/Borden/Hanson… good player types with some ceiling too completing the trade.
    I could live with that deal. Who at 3b? Adding Price to Cole, who cares really but Harrison is just fine for now.

  • st1300b

    Could see a trade for a good relief arm, Brad Zeigler or Dale Thayer type for small cost – ie Sadler, Hauge, Tabata… type trade.

  • st1300b

    Glen Perkins would be a nice add also

  • R Edwards

    Just imagine where the Pirates would be if Polanco was in RF this season, starting Day 1?? His presence alone, has dramatically changed the entire makeup and dynamics of the lineup. I estimate we would be anywhere from 5-8 games better.

    • Doug

      If Polanco was starting in RF from day 1, then Josh Harrison would’ve never got in the lineup. If Harrison never gets in the lineup, then they might not be any games better.

      • R Edwards

        I disagree – Until June, I don’t think Harrison had very many appearances in RF – it was almost exclusively Snider, Tabata. Plus, Harrison has gotten many at bats playing 2B, 3B, and LF.