First Pitch: The Pirates Don’t Need to Trade For an Ace at the Deadline

Last year, the Pittsburgh Pirates had three pitchers who looked like top of the rotation guys in the second half. Francisco Liriano had a great season, A.J. Burnett continued his success with the Pirates, and Gerrit Cole was looking like a top of the rotation guy by the end of the year.

Prior to this season it looked like they could potentially have three once again by the end of the season. They had Francisco Liriano and Gerrit Cole returning, and had Jameson Taillon on pace to arrive by mid-season as the 2014 version of Cole. Liriano has struggled, with a 4.72 ERA after today’s outing. Cole has been good, but not great, posting a 3.78 ERA. Taillon went down with Tommy John surgery during Spring Training. And thus, the Pirates have gone the whole year without anyone pitching like a top of the rotation starter.

That has led to talk about how the Pirates should trade for someone before the deadline. We already saw the price of a top of the rotation starter when Jeff Samardzija was dealt. The cost would require about 3-4 of the Pirates’ top ten prospects, including some of their top pitching prospects. The latter cost would put the Pirates in a constant situation where they are looking for short-term pitching help, because they’ve traded away their long-term options.

The question is, do the Pirates need to trade for an ace? They don’t have an ace right now, and they’re sitting 3.5 games out of first place in the NL Central. They needed top of the rotation guys last year, because the offense was so poor. That’s not the case this year. They rank third in the NL in wOBA. They rank second in wRC+. The Pirates don’t need an ace. They just need good pitching.

That’s what the Pirates are getting from most of their rotation. Charlie Morton has been outstanding this year, with a 3.32 ERA and a 3.75 xFIP. Jeff Locke looks the best he has ever looked, with a 2.89 ERA and a 3.34 xFIP. Statistically, he has been the best starter in the rotation this year. Edinson Volquez has a 3.65 ERA and a 4.28 xFIP. Gerrit Cole isn’t pitching like an ace, but he has a 3.78 ERA and a 3.57 xFIP. The only guy struggling in the rotation is Liriano, although his 3.74 xFIP gives hope that he can turn things around.

The Pirates are getting good pitching that is keeping them in games. That’s good enough when you consider the impact their offense can make. And as for aces, they’ve got two potential aces, even though those two haven’t been pitching like aces this year. Gerrit Cole could see improvements in the second half, and there’s still hope that Liriano figures it out. The Pirates would be better off hoping that this happens, rather than trading a lot of top prospects just to say you’ve got an ace in the rotation.

Right now the Pirates are in the early stages of being a perennial contender. They’ve got what could potentially be the best outfield in the majors, and that group is together through the 2018 season. They’ve got a lot of top pitching prospects coming up in the next year or two, which could give them the same thing in the rotation. They’ve got Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez under control for two more years.

This is the fourth year in a row that the Pirates have been contending in July (although they were borderline at best in 2011). Every year we hear “they need to make a trade”, with the latest weakness in demand. And there’s always a weakness. Look at any team in the majors and you’ll see that there’s an area that could be upgraded. The fallacy of the trade deadline is that you must upgrade anything that can be upgraded. That’s justified each year with “you never know when you’re going to be back in this situation”, which is used to explain why irrational moves need to be made.

The Pirates shouldn’t be operating to go all-in whenever they get a chance to contend. They should be operating to contend in as many years as possible. And that’s what they’ve been doing. It’s why they didn’t trade Starling Marte to rent Hunter Pence a few years ago. It’s why they didn’t trade Gregory Polanco last year, and why they didn’t deal Tyler Glasnow or Nick Kingham for Bud Norris.

The Pirates have a team that is contending this year. They’ve got a team that can contend next year, and in future years. They’ve got a lot of top prospects coming up in the next few years who will make it even more likely that they will remain contenders. They could either continue the approach they’ve been on, and strengthen their chance to remain long-term contenders. Or they could weaken their future teams just to strengthen their chances in one year. And the justification would be the same justification shouted out when people wanted to trade Marte, Polanco, Gerrit Cole, and every other prospect to get a short-term boost the last three years.

There was a point in the season about a month or two ago where it looked like the Pirates would need rotation help, both for this year and next year. Then Jeff Locke emerged. Vance Worley stepped up, and will be a key second half depth option, along with a starter until Cole returns. Edinson Volquez continued to impress. And now the Pirates aren’t in desperate need for a starter. They’ve basically made their in-season additions with Locke and Worley. And with their offense this year, it looks like their current rotation could be enough to contend.

Links and Notes

**Prospect Watch: JaCoby Jones Extends Hitting Streak to 15 Games

**How Tony Watson Went From a Non-Prospect in Double-A to an All-Star Reliever

**DSL Pirates Report: A Catching Prospect Shows Improvements on Offense and Defense

**Francisco Liriano Activated, Matt Hague Optioned Back to Indianapolis

**Prospect Highlights: A Five-Tool Outfielder By the Name of Tito Polo

**Minor League Schedule: John Kuchno Looks to Repeat Success Against Tampa

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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  • csnumber23

    While i agree they don’t need to mortgage the future for an ace, i do think a trade for a solid starter and or relief help would be a good move. So long as it doesn’t cost the top prospects like Glasnow, Kingham and Taillon. I also wouldn’t mind a 1B upgrade if tat’s the route they go. I thought Davis would be better but .230 with 5 HR’s at the break is pretty bad. Sanchez hasn’t been any better. We could get by if we upgrade the pitching. I would like to see one or the other. Basically I am hoping they do something similar to the last couple years. Acquire some help without mortgaging the future.

    • Lee Young

      Sanchez’ value lies in hitting vs LHPs. He has an OPS of .825 vs LHPs. It is .606 vs RHPs. Why Hurdle keeps batting him vs RHPs is beyond me. Ike Davis has a .742 OPS vs Rhps.

      • Andrew

        Please keep repeating this, Sanchez is fine in his role, when he is used outside of that, not so much.

        • Lee Young

          Andrew…every once in awhile, I get one right…. :) :) :)

        • piraddict

          Even more so with Davis. He should never hit against lefties.

      • freddylang

        Hurdle does a lot of things that don’t make sense…but he is a baseball manager, and pretty much all of them do something that they learned 30-40 years ago that has been proven to not be effective. I hope sometime in my lifetime that this ends.

      • csnumber23

        Lee, my problem is, we don’t see much LHP so Sanchez doesn’t do much because he is awful against RHP. Honestly I hope they can eventually find an everyday guy at 1B. The platoon is the best option for now because both are so awful against same hand pitching. I think Josh Bell is the answer for the future if they are willing to move him there.

        • Y2JGQ2

          agreed. you only need a righty who hits lefties when your lefty is worthless against them. sadly davis and alvarez, and also polanco, are completely clueless against anyone breathing who wears a mit on his right hand. I’m a lefty, i’d love the challenge right now, someone find me pedro

          • csnumber23

            Haha, I’m a righty and used to hit the low 90’s on the gun. I know I could get Gabby Sanchez out even today LOL. Seriously though, I think Polanco will figure it out against LHP. He did well in the minors against them.

  • Bryan Graham

    Their rotation may not need an “ace” or much of an upgrade, but the bullpen sure could use a lot of help.

    • Stargell_Stars

      I’d like to see Andy Oliver get a shot.

      • Y2JGQ2

        for the love of christ, give it a rest with andy oliver. he isn’t on the 40 man, its not happening. he’s out of options, so when we bring him up, he has to STAY up, like pimentel. Can we afford to have another worthless pitcher if his control acts up? no, we can’t

        • Stargell_Stars

          Dude, take your meds! Chill out, have a home brew or something.

    • freddylang

      I agree. Hopefully the break is good for the pen. They definitely could use a shot in the arm but the Pirates are just kind of stuck right now. They have an extra starter and don’t want to lose Worley. Then the Frieri issue. A fix could be sitting right there with Mazarro at Indy still throwing hard and pitching well.

      • emjayinTN

        I think the key for the Pirates is not to lose anyone this year. Frieri could come back strong this year or next, Oliver and Mazzaro are out of options so bringing them up means we have to keep them the rest of the year. I would rather wait until September and save the trade-worthy personnel, unless a trade is made before the off-season.

        Tim: I do not think I would have used the word outstanding to describe Morton so far in 2012. He has been very strong his last 8 starts with probably 6 Quality Starts (QS), but only 4 or 5 QS in April and May out of 11 Starts. Therefore, Very Good is as far as I would go in describing him in 2014. I thought he was well on his way to another QS Saturday night, but it all unraveled way too quickly. I could be too picky for a guy we call our #3 guy in the Rotation, but I think he is at least a 2/3.

        • freddylang

          Can’t keep them forever so I wouldn’t even mind seeing Frieri dealt again with someone else even to someone out of the race that can afford to be patient with him. The Pirates can afford to get a pretty cheap (Talent given up-wise) bullpen option that has his act together and can help right now. Even something like Tabata, Frieri, and a lower level prospect for a real good rental reliever with setup/closing experience.

          • Y2JGQ2

            throw in oliver and pimentel

            • freddylang

              I’d definitely trade either one of them in a deal for the right veteran that can stabilize the pen.

      • Y2JGQ2

        Can Frieri come up with a previously known injury so we can unmake that trade and get Grilli back? Please?

  • moose7195

    1000% agree. A well stocked farm will keep them more competitive than any long or short term rental to be had on the market. If anything, bringing those players from other teams midseason has been a failure for the most part with guys like Snider, Wandy, Morneau, and Ludwick doing really nothing to help the MLB team. Meanwhile, we’ve seen the impact that younger prospects like Cole, Marte, Locke, Cumpton, etc have had on the team’s competitiveness. So the idea that we need an “impact” player to be competitive is a farce IMO, keep the pipeline flowing because 6 years of Glasnow, Kingham, Bell, and Hanson will probably impact the team more than 1+ years of David Price.

  • BarryJT

    Such crazy, logical talk.

    • blackmax

      Tim’s argument is logical, if you accept the premise that the Pirates don’t need to win a series or two in the post-season. If all they want to do is to contend, then they don’t need an ace. QED.

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

        They had three aces last year and lost a best of five series in the playoffs.

        • Timothy C. Hemmis

          We don’t need a blockbuster trade by any means but a solid mid rotation to back end SP like Ian Kennedy and or a RP like Brad Ziegler would be great for this team. As for 1B I think we are stuck with Ike and Gabby, which to me is not a bad thing. Players have slumps lets ride this out. They play good defense and Ike reminds me of an Adam Laroche type player — cold and then Hot! What do you think Tim ?

          • NSA

            I would rather have Worley in the rotation than Kennedy or any other B actors. We have 7 mid rotation starters right now.

            • Y2JGQ2

              I’d love Brad Ziegler

          • bucsws2014

            Their defense hasn’t been all that great the past few weeks. Ike is no Todd Frazier when it comes to charging over tarps. And both have recently missed picks I’d expect a good defensive 1b to make.

            • Y2JGQ2

              Ike’s fantastic arm helps more than you realize, its not just picks

          • moose7195

            We’ve yet to see “hot” Ike Davis. He’s more like cold then frozen

        • ecbucs

          that might be why it was a 5 game series.

        • Y2JGQ2

          we had what YOU call 3 aces. I wouldn’t call any of them aces, a rookie (who will one day be an ace), a cast off having a magical rebound and…a 35 year old who has never been a ace in his entire career despite being paid for one. At best those were 2, #2’s and a #3. Far cry from Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Halladay in 2012. If you want to talk 3 aces, lets talk 3 aces. Or Hudson, Zito, and Mulder with the A’s, or Greinke, Kershaw and Ryu, or Verlander with Fister /Anibal and Scherzer…..you get my point.

      • moose7195

        That type of thinking is clearly flawed, we’ve seen teams sell out for those aces in the past and still fail to win playoff games. They are not worth the cost in prospects

        • ecbucs

          that isn’t the question. Teams with aces are going to lose playoff series. After all they are usually playing other teams with aces. How many teams win playoff series without an ace?

          • Y2JGQ2

            The teams that can either HIT aces, or whom get insanely hot at the right time

      • BarryJT

        Oh, I agree totally with Tim. My comment was aimed at the yinzers who want to sell the farm.

  • loren goodpaster

    I want Trumbo!!!

    • 412_Sports

      I’d take him but not for much. He is basically Pedro at 1B. Which is a huge improvement from what they have currently.

      • Lee Young

        I’d move Pedro to 1b. That way, people could start sitting down the first base line again without fearing for their lives.

        • 412_Sports

          HAHA. Agree, but they wont because they baby him way too much

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

          Maybe in the offseason not now in the middle.of the season guy already has mental problems

          • Lee Young

            N_Cap…I was just trying to be humorous…I agree with “wait until the offseason”.

        • indybucfan

          Some of them airmails has the second level worried as well!

        • Y2JGQ2

          Valid point, he is a really strong fielder, he doesn’t get enough credit for that. The problem is- his arm is legendary, he just needs to get his control over it, which he may never do

  • bmcferren

    What about moderate additions like Byrd, Ludwik, Lee, Burnett, Wandy, or Morneau were? Certainly Tabata is going to be dealt and we could use and upgrade from Snyder. And one could make a case that Hanson has as much value as Dilson. With an excess of “shortstops” , outfielders and “catchers” in the system, I could see how Hanson, Jhang, Rojas, Lambo, Ramirez, De La Cruz, Barnes, or Mathison could be had. But if pitching is required, I agree and probably wouldn’t go past Heredia or Sadler with the way we are currently stocked. If you think about upcoming 40 man issues, it would be wise for use to squeeze value when we can with a trade or two each July or August. I’d rather have Marlon Byrd up pinch hitting (and platooning with Polanco) than Gaby Sanchez. I’d rather have Morneau or Cuddyer at first base than Ike or Gaby. Cuddyer could also get some play at third against tough left handed starters. The bullpen definitely needs a lift and Texas has some guys who have good playoff numbers. I could see us anti’ing up with stronger prospects if they’d be willing to answer our long term shortstop issue. Wonder what Uehara from Boston would cost? Soria, Hawkins, Perkins, Street, Papelbon would be some additions that can make us better.

    • bucsws2014

      fwiw, after having him in their system for a year, the Mets do not think Herrera has what it will take to be an MLB SS due to his weak arm.

      I don’t see Bucs getting much, if any, value from the flotsam on the 40-man. Decker, Morel, Wall, McGuiness, Hague, Anna and Martinez aren’t even worth their plane ticket home.

    • Lee Young

      I’d love to have Marlon, but Byrd has an onerous 2 yr + option year. You could easily get stuck for 3 years. Quite a lot for a 37 yr old.

      • moose7195

        To be honest, now that Polanco is up, where can you put Byrd? I don’t think you should send Polanco down. And Harrison is the 4th OF, so his value is solely as a bat off the bench. It doesn’t make sense to give up anything worthwhile for a bench warmer, no matter how many warm and fuzzy memories his name brings up

        • Lee Young

          Well, Polanco only has a .698 OPS in RF, so there’s that.

          :) :) :) :)

      • SportOMania

        Lee, “onerous”? Were you listening to Howard Stern this morning?

      • SportOMania

        Lee, “onerous”? Were you listening to Howard Stern this morning?

    • Y2JGQ2

      What world are you living in that you think we have a surplus of shortstops? I’d still say we have none. Hanson is not a good enough fielder an an A ball prospect that has never before played shortstop doesnt count either

    • Y2JGQ2

      Mathisen is a third baseman now….

  • bucsws2014

    I spent most of the past two weeks in CT listening to WFAN and Yankees/Mets talk.

    It’s too bad Liriano totally sucks at the moment. If he was even serviceable, he’d be able to fetch David Robertson in a swap of FA-to-bes. Yankees are desperate for a proven LH starter to stay in the race. They’d simply move Betances to closer a few months earlier than planned.

    If Bucs feel there’s a need for a starter, the Mets will deal Colon for salary relief as they’ll need 2015 room to add position players. They’ll be more stacked with quality starters for 2015 than even the Bucs. Mets might even listen on Gee or possibly deGrom. But not Wheeler, Syndegaard, Montero, Niese or, obviously, Harvey. Colon can still eat innings (and everything on the training table) and can likely be had for nothing that’ll hurt too much. Problem is, he’s due $11 mill next year.

    • jaygray007

      Colon is still a master of his craft and would likely be $11 mil well-spent. Sign me up.

    • SportOMania

      We have too many PED cheats on the team (Volquez & Martinez). No to Colon. Even without the fact he is POS cheater who wants to pay 11 million for a 42 year old pitcher.

    • Y2JGQ2

      Gee would be a quality addition

  • jaygray007

    I think it’d be best to add a starter. i don’t see where you would add an upgrade in the everyday players unless they both brought in a first baseman and traded Ike.

    I’ll be fine if they add Price. You can’t keep all these prospects. there aren’t major league spots for all of them. It’s just a matter of choosing the right time and way to spend the prospects.

    My ideal August 1st roster would include Ian Kennedy. Volquez’s peripherals are scaring me a little bit. I’m very intrigued by the possibility of putting him in the bullpen and letting him rip 97s.

    • 412_Sports

      I disagree. You can never have enough quality prospects. I’ll worry about prospects not having MLB spots for them when that time comes because they arent even close to having that problem yet.

      • jaygray007

        There is a point where you have to let guys go because of 40 man roster constraints and rule 5 losses.

        They aren’t there yet because they still have fodder like wirfin obispo on the 40 man.

        We are a ways from the rule 5 being a problem. I’m just saying that it is a constraint to consider. Especially with the outfield prospects.

        • Lee Young

          Releasing any player from the last 5 spots (at least) on a 40 man roster are rarely hard decisions.

          • jaygray007

            The pirates have already had to make a few somewhat difficult decisions over the past few years. IMO.

            the last 5 spots are rarely a problem because there aren’t often teams who are both set up with both long term major league talent AND elite farm systems.

            The purpose of the rule 5 draft is to prevent stockpiling guys who could be in the majors elsewhere. With both an elite farm and a pretty dang good MLB team, you eventually CAN have too much of a good thing.

            Prospects are fantastic and this PROBABLY isn’t the time to make a blockbuster. I’m just saying that in the grand optimization problem that is winning at the major league level, the 40 man roster is a constraint that can be significant.

            if they hadn’t traded colton cain, rudy owens, robbie grossman, vic black, some good players would have been let go of for free. i believe that you shouldn’t keep every single prospect when you have an elite deep system. I also believe that you should keep every prospect when you have a bad system.

  • moose7195

    Nothing about Ike Davis is adequate. That trade is another loss in my opinion

    • Lee Young

      I never wanted him in the first place. I was a Lambo proponent, but he failed miserably….

    • freddylang

      Definitely agree. Ike has been awful since June. Unless he gets it going you can’t parade a 1B who hits .200 with no power out there until Oct. It’s painful to watch. Hopefully he can start to hit. They seriously need 20 or so HR power and a plus .750 OPS out of him and he hasn’t even been able to do that. I understand their reasoning getting him but it hasn’t worked out so far. I also thought his defense was a little better than it has been. He is really hurting them and the platoon has been a black hole for 4-5 weeks.

    • Y2JGQ2

      His defense is above adequate. I’m sorry that you disagree, but you are wrong

  • IC Bob

    Pirates don’t need to make any trades. We can come in 4th place without any help.

    • 412_Sports

      Sad but this is very true.

    • leadoff

      They could come in 1st place without them also!

  • 412_Sports

    Totally agree with the article.
    That being said I think they need to add relief help, doesn’t need to be high end, just a solid arm in the bullpen. Also, they need to add a 1B. Ideally, I want to add a guy with around .800-.850 career OPS w/ at least 2-3 years of control. Thats asking for a lot i realize but i’d be willing to give up a lot. I’d be willing to give up just about anyone except Bell, Taillon, and Glasnow. Their situation at 1B is terrible right now and there is little to no help coming up through the pipeline.

    • Lee Young

      I don’t think your ideal 1bman is out there on the trading block.

      • 412_Sports

        Very well might not be. How about one of the guys from Toronto? They have tons of hitting in general

        • Lee Young

          412…I’m not trying to be snarky, but have you even done some research or are you just throwing out teams/names?

          Encarnacion and Lind are DL’d and they just had to sign Dan Johnson to play 1b.

          • 412_Sports

            The deadline is Aug 31st correct? Will they be back by then? Deal doesnt need to be done today.
            Of course Im throwing names/teams out there. Im not the GM, I have ZERO idea. But, im just guessing if a deal makes sense for both teams then why not make it? Toronto seems to need pitching right? Well we have pitching, why couldnt they figure out a deal that works out for both teams?
            Furthermore, this is a comment board correct? Of course I’m throwing sh*t against the wall. Its fun to see what people think!

            • Lee Young

              Trading deadline is July 31st.

              Waiver deadline is Aug 31st.

              like I said…not trying to be snarky….but it does help convo if you name some realistic options and not just chit against a wall. People will take you more seriously.

              • 412_Sports

                ok lets start here Kingham/Pedro/? for Encarnacion.
                Will any of these deals happen? Most likely not but again I think discussing them is fun for fans and i dont think its completely unrealistic.

                • Kevin_Young

                  That wouldn’t even start a conversation.

                  • 412_Sports

                    fine. Glasnow/Pedro/Meadows

                    • Kevin_Young

                      I just don’t follow why Toronto would want to trade Edwin and get Pedro. We’d have to overpay to get Encarnacion off of them.

                    • 412_Sports

                      Because they could slide Lind to first, Pedro to 3rd… They’d still have a great hitting lineup and add top level prospects and get younger. Makes a lot of sense

                    • Kevin_Young

                      Do they not have Brett Lawrie anymore??

                    • 412_Sports

                      HAHA wow. Okay so move Lawrie to 2B or DH Pedro. Figure it out, its not that hard.

                    • Kevin_Young

                      There’s literally no motivation for either team to make that trade! Why would a team that’s second in it’s division trade arguably their best player in the middle of a race? Why would we sell multiple top prospects (which we’d have to do because Encarncion’s price tag would be inflated given the circumstance) and our best power hitter for another power hitter.

                    • 412_Sports

                      You’re like a little kid that keeps asking why when the answers aren’t that hard to figure out. 1. They need pitching 2. They have excess hitting (especially at 1B) 3. They have been treading water for years (last playoff appearance 1993?) might be time for a small rebuild 4. They get younger
                      Why would the Pirates do it? It gives them a legitimate 4 hitter which they havent had for some time w/ 2.5 years of control. They have no 1B options in the minors. I agree they shouldnt overpay in terms of giving up prospects but I dont think its an absolute guarantee they would have to.

                    • Kevin_Young

                      You’re like a little kid that thinks trades work like it’s Madden ’99. The Blue Jays have a legit chance to win their division, but sure why wouldn’t they trade their most productive hitter? What the heck right? Making trades and smacking together rosters in the aftermath is super easy. Do you know any of the Blue Jays top prospects? Do you know that they’re all pitchers?

                      And let me go ahead and guarantee we’d have to overpay. How much would you want in return if somebody came knocking on our door today for Marte?

                    • 412_Sports

                      Well, they are 4 games back and are without their 3rd best hitter for 6-8 weeks. I’ll check back with you at the end of the season but I’d give them about 15 percent chance to win that division. And again, they have been treading water for years upon years. Dont think it would hurt them for a slight rebuild.
                      No i dont study the Blue Jays farm system. But okay! Then instead of a pitching prospect give them a position prospect! Again, why do I need to explain that? The fact is, there is a good chance they dont make the playoffs so why not trade a guy on them middle/back end of his career for a player near the beginning of his career plus good young prospects? Obviously this conversation becomes more clear on July 31st but the fact you suggest its impossible is a joke.
                      For Marte? Considering there is an immediate replacement for him in Harrison and long term replacements such as Bell, Meadows, etc. I’d want a 1B with equivalent value. Either someone young with many years of control that maybe isnt fully developed yet or slightly more developed player with less years of control.

                    • Kevin_Young

                      We’re further from the playoffs than the Blue Jays……so I guess we should think about selling. Simple fact of the matter is that there aren’t any clear upgrades at 1st available in the trade market. But if you’re comfortable doing Marte for Encarnacion then that would be your best option since those two would be fairly close in market value. Trades like that just don’t happen though.

          • 412_Sports

            I’d try to get Encarnacion or Abreu for a package something like Pedro/Kingham/?
            Works for us because we can slide Harrison to 3rd, at least for the short term.
            And I think an AL team would like to have Pedro since they can DH him if his defense continues to be poor.

            • JoseGuillensArm

              Abreu would cost much, much more than that not to mention the white sox have absolutely no reason to move him. The blue jays are dealing with the injury bug and encarnacion is hurt but even then he is performing much better than Pedro currently so I doubt they’d make that trade with kingham being the only vale return.

              • 412_Sports

                Here is 1 reason. They are 10.5 games back. From their perspective, they could add the NL HR champ from last year along with top of the line prospects. Again, just because a player is good doesnt mean it doesnt make sense to trade him. I agree though it would take a ton to get him. I just think it might be worth it if he can help win for the next 5 years.
                My package would start would Pedro/Kingham. But that wouldnt be all id be willing to give up. Id add a Meadows or McGuire if it was necessary.

        • piraddict

          Lambo could still help by the August / September time frame.

      • Nuke Laloosh

        Unfortunately true. Not sure there is much to be had out there.

      • NSA

        My ideal 1B is a good Ike Davis but in lieu of that I’d put Harrison there after everyone has their all-star break and leave him there until he is needed elsewhere as a sub. Off-season you can switch him to 3rd with Alvarez moving to his logical position.

        • Lukas Sutton

          Yeah, because 5 foot 7 guys play 1st base all the time. Its not a video game, Harrison isnt near tall enough to play that spot without sacrificing runs.

  • 412_Sports

    I like the idea of selling high on Volquez but I dont think theyd even consider that. Also would like to trade Liriano but I doubt youd get anything in return.

  • https://www.facebook.com/wilbertmatthews Wilbert Matthews

    How about, after Pedro goes on one of his HR bursts, we trade him to Atlanta for Alex Wood? We have the offense to get bye. Just one more starter in this mix.

    • Lee Young

      and why would Atlanta want him? They signed Chris Johnson to a long term contract.

    • 412_Sports

      I’d move Pedro. But he fits in the AL where he could be DH’d if necessary. I’d package him with some prospects for a top of the line 1B.

    • https://www.facebook.com/wilbertmatthews Wilbert Matthews

      They just seemed like the type of organization that might be interested. He may not be a 3B long term. I’m not sure. He still is a 30/100 guy with all his flaws. American league would be most suitable for him. We don’t have much power in our organization so i he may have to stay for now. Maybe Boston? I don’t hate him as much as some but i would like to see Harrison in that spot.

  • indybucfan

    Leave it to Tim to bring it out. And he’s right. I’ve never been a proponent of trading away a potential ace in any circumstance. Rather than trade for Price, who will cost you Glasnow, Bell, and Hanson and then some, I’d rather bring up Kingham. I want to win now but I also believe this team has a few major flaws that shouldn’t be addressed with a short term trade. Making blockbuster trades will bankrupt the minors like other teams have done in the past. There’s plenty of time to get the right pieces without trading their best chips.

    • leadoff

      What major flaws do they have?

      • indybucfan

        I shouldn’t have pluralized that statement, but the major flaw I see is a bat behind McCutchen. I don’t prefer Walker in that spot, but he has been the best they’ve put there. My hope is Josh Bell will ultimately be the answer. If the outfield progresses as we all hope they do, corner infield is the spot where the attention should be. I don’t think Davis and Sanchez are anything more than placeholders and unfortunately, I don’t see Pedro becoming the middle of the order bat he needs to be in order to offset his brutal defense. I like pieces of the pitching staff, and I’m good going forward with the pieces they have. Personally, I’d like to see Justin Wilson stretched out to become a possible starting option to replace Liriano next year.

        • leadoff

          I agree, except for Wilson, his fastball is his forte, if he starts, the fastball goes away. Look at Martinez for St.Louis, he still throws a 100 miles an hour, but he can only throw that hard once in a while, the rest of the time he has to bring the speed way down to get control and last 7 or 8 innings. I think Wilson would be similar. I think if Wilson could develop more control, he could be a closer more than a starter.

          • indybucfan

            I see your point, but if he could still work in the range of 91 to 93. He could always learn to dial it up when he needs to. But I don’t disagree with that direction either. I’d like to see Oliver up and get a look soon as well. He seems to be finding his niche in Indy. They have plenty of pitching pieces, it’s just a matter of getting all the right pieces in place. I’d hate to gut the farm for an arm we can’t possibly hope to keep long term.

  • Lee Young

    Chad Qualls, as bad as he was for us, has put together back to back nice years for Fla and Houston. I would try to get him. He’d be good RP depth and wouldn’t cost an arm or a leg (or a thigh).

  • Lee Young

    Gaby is just fine vs LHPs….it’s vs RHPs that our 1bman has struggled.

    • Andrew

      Davis has a .317 OBP and .371 SLG vs RHP, that would be fine for a middle infield platoon but I think you want a little more power from the corners, the Pirates essentially traded for Justin Morneau’s production from last September.

      • Lee Young

        According to this:

        http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.cgi?id=davisik02&year=&t=b

        It is .371/.371…did you transpose a digit?

        Not saying .742 is great, but he IS coming off of a horrible June. He could easily turn it around.

        • Andrew

          Yes, that was suppose to be .371, acute dyslexia. I really have no issue with the platoon concept, but I wish the performance was better. The fabled long term solution at first base is a white whale.

    • leadoff

      He “Was” just fine, that ship looks like it is sailing along with Ike, they make a poor tandem, on paper they look okay, on the field, not so much.

    • jaygray007

      i never expected him to have this little power. nobody should have expected him to have this little power. I love the guy and advocated the trade, but he has to start hitting the ball harder.

      • Y2JGQ2

        Yeah, 15-20 hr was fine with the greater plate discipline, but 5?…… yeah, that’s not going to get it done unless hes hitting over .300 with RISP

  • bucsws2014

    Slightly off topic, but I see a lot of complaining about the 1b situation. I’m not going to disagree it’s bad. Gaby has fallen off the planet in June/July and for a guy who normally has a great eye, is chasing horrendous pitches. Ike is slightly better but still under .200 for those two months.

    However, why is Gaby getting ANY starts against RHP? I recognize Bucs don’t face a lot of LHPs in the division, but his numbers are far more pathetic vs. RHP than Davis. Ike is typically a 2nd half player. Not a godsend, but at least better. August seems to be his month. If we’re stuck with these two, I’m hoping Hurdle at least has the sense to platoon them properly and just sit Gaby vs RHP regardless of how few ABs/starts he gets.

    If the Mendoza line is .200, what’s the below .100 line called? Gaby is below that line for July.

    • Lee Young

      As I stated below:

      Sanchez’ value lies in hitting vs LHPs. He has an OPS of .825 vs LHPs. It is .606 vs RHPs. Why Hurdle keeps batting him vs RHPs is beyond me. Ike Davis has a .742 OPS vs Rhps.

    • 412_Sports

      Im interested in getting a 1B because its a need now and in the future so why not try and address it now? Like I said below, I want a guy for minimum 2-3 years of control.

      • Lee Young

        412…and again, I ask “Who out there is available?”.

        • 412_Sports

          A good trade is a good trade for both teams… why does someone need to be rumored to be traded for someone to be available?

          • JoseGuillensArm

            Because a guy with 2-3 years of control and an OPS above .800 is the type of player that every team wants and not someone who teams will just deal away. We can talk about going after someone like that but the reality is that a player of that value is not available.

            • 412_Sports

              That’s fine, i just disagree. I’m of the belief that anyone is available for the correct price with the exception of MVP type players. A 1B w/ around .800 ops shouldn’t be impossible to get IMO.

              • Lee Young

                not impossible, but are you willing to move Kingham, Bell, Glasnow, Meadows and maybe even Polanco?

                • 412_Sports

                  For a guy like Encarnacion I’d give up any of those except Polanco.
                  As long as they have years of control Im cool with giving up a lot just not completely selling the farm.

              • JoseGuillensArm

                I get what you’re saying but even then who would you target? Matt Adams fits your profile but that’s just not going to happen. Mike Carp did as well going into this year but he’s been struggling a bit and wouldn’t be an upgrade at this point. My point here is we can talk about getting that piece that would solidify 1B and eliminate the platoon but those type of players aren’t exactly available or would cost much more than anyone on here would be comfortable with. I know everyone hates the platoon but I for one still would like to see more of it before we start demanding another 1B upgrade.

                • 412_Sports

                  I’d give up a lot to get Encarnacion or Abreu or Rizzo or Lind (if he wasnt out for two months) or Goldschmidt and to a lesser extent Cuddyer/Trumbo/Duda.
                  And yes I realize in the first group of names it would be extremely tough and take a lot but I’d be willing to take a shot.

                  • johnj618

                    Rizzo has been rumored as being available and has an extremely team friendly contract so preach him if you want a first baseman.

                    • 412_Sports

                      Where do I sign?
                      What gets him? Pedro/Kingham/?

                    • johnj618

                      Considering the favorable long term contract and that hes in division, I’d say Glasnow, Bell, Pedro if they want him and then another 2 top 10 prospects. Players with several years of team control are very hard to get.

                    • 412_Sports

                      Whoa! Rizzo would get the reigning NL HR champ and 4 of our top 10 prospects? I find that hard to believe…

                    • moose7195

                      Pedro isn’t going to be viewed as the reigning HR champ anymore. He’s a Scott Boras timebomb with a counter down to 2 years, and an arm he can’t control. Despite all of that, I don’t know if I’m as willing to ship him out as quickly as you are. He will provide some value, a hot streak is coming

          • Lee Young

            412…not even remotely talking about rumors….

            This ain’t like Giant Eagle, where you can just go shopping for someone in the High OPS aisle.

          • Lukas Sutton

            Because logic. Any good team doesnt give up a good player without a replacement. Any bad team doesnt give up a quality player for an average return at the trade deadline. Its the absolute worst time to be buying quality anything.

  • piraddict

    I agree with your point of view completely Tim. Patience is required to see a Pirates dynasty established. Th dynasty will only be short circuited by trading prospects for a quick fix. In another couple of years, after Kingham, Glasnow and Taillon have accumulated on the MLB team there will be no need for talk of trading for impact pitchers. The only thing that will prevent dominance is impatience.

    Lambo could still make an impact at 1B in the August / September time frame. He was hitting well before his thumb injury and surgery. He’s knocking around the low minors rehabbing now, but if he catches fire why not replace Snider with him, and give him at bats at 1B?

    The majority of the time the Pirates need to be on the receiving end of the prospects for aging veteran trade. This season the Pirates should be looking to trade Liriano and Volquez while they still have value and replace them in the rotation with the best of Worley, Sadler, Cumpton or Kingham. The performance at the MLB level will be the same and the system will be strengthened.

    The problem with the bullpen is that there are too many “projects”: Frieri, Pimental, Gomez. Melancon, Watson, Hughes Wilson and Worley are all adequate and can be used with out trepidation. Not so with the “projects” (though Gomez hasn’t been all that bad). Here is where I depart from the Pirates philosophy somewhat. I think you can afford to be a “hoarder of “projects” in the minor league system (ala Worley), but there is only room for one “project” on the MLB team. If a player is on the Pirates roster he needs to perform today, not hopefully in the future.

  • R Edwards

    I agree 100%.

    First of all, there are only a few “aces” that appear to be remotely available via trade – Price, Lee, Hamels, and Sale.

    I really don’t see Hamels or Sale getting traded, unless someone just gives them an overwhelming package of prospects that they cannot refuse.

    Lee is hurt and has an obscene contract – especially given his age and recent health. The Phils may be stuck with him, or they will have to pay most of his salary to move him.

    And Price will likely cost a ton in prospects, plus you have to re-sign him – which will take a LOT of cash.

    I think the Pirates have too many other flaws, to surrender what it would take to get just one of these guys. I think they need to stay focused on the long term, and not make anymore “Ike Davis” kind of trades.

    Now, if they could get that Ross kid from San Diego, I think he would be worth thinking about. But overall, I think the bullpen is the area of greater need….

    Now, I think a guy like Benoit, Soria, or Street would be worth entertaining. Although Street will likely come at a very high price, as several teams will likely be trying to get him. Benoit or Soria may be much more affordable.

  • szielinski

    Nick Kingham could be promoted if there is a need. Why trade Kingham or anyone else when Kingham is waiting for a phone call?

    • jaygray007

      yep. i’ll be annoyed if they trade Kingham for pitching.

    • moose7195

      Kingham just got to AAA, he’ll need more innings before I have any confidence calling him up. Not to mention that they have no spots to put him in the rotation. So I’d assume the idea is to put him in the pen, which is something I’m not sure he’s ever done. Can you expect a rookie to succeed in that role? I don’t think I could.

      • Lee Young

        Gerrit Cole did okay as a rookie.

        • moose7195

          He did. But he had the pedigree, Kingham’s been a bit of a work in progress that is looking to jump his 3rd level in one year. It may be a little overwhelming, look at Lambo last year

      • piraddict

        Brandon Cumpton was actually last year’s best starter statistically, who would have expected that? No one knows how Kingham would perform if called to perform for the Pirates, but he could surprise to the upside. Competitors do that.

        • moose7195

          Based on which statistics? He pitched less than 31 innings. Anything he did last year can’t be trusted statistically. And Kingham could easily surprise the other way and it wouldn’t mean he isn’t a competitor, just in over his head

          • piraddict

            WHIP and ERA. Small sample size isn’t relevant as we are talking about bringing up Kingham for possible spot starts, maybe more. Kingham has more potential than Cumpton, and if Cumpton can do well in five or so starts why couldn’t Kingham? We may have different experiences in sports Moose. In my experience some people respond well to a challenge, others need to be eased in slowly so their confidence can build, otherwise they’ll be overwhelmed. Competitors do rise to a challenge. That doesn’t mean that players who lack initial confidence can’t be good contributors down the road. Look at Charlie Morton. The guy is an artist, not a bulldog. People are different.

  • leadoff

    Huntington is walking a fine line with this club, he knows the Pirates are where they are without really jelling this year, he knows he has players that can play considerably better than they are playing, he knows that he has lost several games because of his bullpen. IMO, the Pirates need an upgrade at 1st base, again Huntington is walking a fine line while waiting on Ike to produce vs getting a better option. He does need to address the pen no matter what. I think finding the player you want for 1st base is hard to do because PNC is very tough on left handed hitters and the NL Central has the best pitching of any division at this point in time. I do believe a solid starting pitcher that they don’t have to give away the entire farm for is a good get for them. If this team started clicking on all cylinders this team could win it all.

    • Texas_Teacher

      I never understood the PNC is tough on lefties idea. Yes, its got a high wall to limit homers, but to me it seems, easier to be banging line drives off that wall for doubles and triples.

      • leadoff

        It is tough on lefties because of how they are pitched in PNC, they are pitched to hit away from the wall and the rest of the field is huge for lefties to hit in. The only ball that goes over that wall is a mistake pitch.

    • piraddict

      There is a very good chance that they will be clicking on all cylinders and will win it all in 2015 and 2016. This year’s team is an adolescent growing up. You can’t make a 17 year old into a 25 year old overnight.

      • leadoff

        They are not any more adolescent than the other teams in their division or in baseball. They have players that can and should be producing more than they are, they are 3.5 games out without Pedro, Davis, Sanchez, Marte, Liriano, Cole, or Wilson doing anything near what they are capable of and these guys are not babies. Also outside of their division they are one the best team in baseball. If adolescents is going to take place it is going to be 2015 and 2016 when they add Tallion, Kingham, Cumpton and Sadler to the rotation, that makes them very young.

        • piraddict

          I agree that there are a lot of under-performers at the moment, and your list is a good start. But I expect that Polanco, Marte, Cole, Lambo (i still like him at 1B over the Davis/Sanchez platoon), Wilson, Locke, and maybe even Pedro will all perform better in 2015,2016 than they will in 2014 simply due to more MLB experience. Your point about Taillon, Kingham, Cumpton and Sadler is well taken, which is why Liriano and Volquez should be traded to open up spots for the latter three to get MLB experience. I don’t see them signing Liriano now. Volquez might be a sign if you think he’d be better than Kingham over the life of the multi year contract. I don’t. So going down the stretch this year I would like to see a rotation of Cole, Morton, Locke, (best two of Worley, Kingham, Cumpton, Sadler or Pimental) to best prepare for 2015. I don’t think that the 2014 performance will suffer with the changes. Taillon would be thrown in the mix in June, 2015 if healthy.

          • piraddict

            I should have included Mercer as a candidate for improvement in 2015 versus 2014. A year of expereince will do a world of good for his confidence.

        • piraddict

          I agree that there are a lot of under-performers at the moment, and your list is a good start. But I expect that Polanco, Marte, Cole, Lambo (i still like him at 1B over the Davis/Sanchez platoon), Wilson, Locke, and maybe even Pedro will all perform better in 2015,2016 than they will in 2014 simply due to more MLB experience. Your point about Taillon, Kingham, Cumpton and Sadler is well taken, which is why Liriano and Volquez should be traded to open up spots for the latter three to get MLB experience. I don’t see them signing Liriano now. Volquez might be a sign if you think he’d be better than Kingham over the life of the multi year contract. I don’t. So going down the stretch this year I would like to see a rotation of Cole, Morton, Locke, (best two of Worley, Kingham, Cumpton, Sadler or Pimental) to best prepare for 2015. I don’t think that the 2014 performance will suffer with the changes. Taillon would be thrown in the mix in June, 2015 if healthy.

  • Matt

    If it is not this year, then so be it. Why mortgage the future for a *chance* at the playoffs. That said we need a solid ace ASAP. Our rotation is good enough to win more games than they lose. However, if we play one wild card game against Wainwright, we have NO chance with our current roster.

    • leadoff

      Who does? We probably have as much chance against Wainwright as anyone else has.

      • Matt

        Perhaps I didn’t explain that well. Our offense may have as good of a chance as anyone, but we do not have an ace that can go out-for-out against another ace.

      • Lukas Sutton

        Which is still a really bad chance. Even with an upgrade at 1st base that is logical (and thus more of a slight upgrade than a “we have Rizzo!) and additions to the bullpen and rotation we are still likely looking up at STL at years end. It’d take a Price-like move to get us as sure bets better than STL this year.

  • NSA

    There is only one starting pitcher on the market who has a better shot at a dominant second half of 14 than Cole and Liriano. That would be Price and his price would gut this organization. Think Tony Armas, Rick Langford, Mitchell Page and Doug Bair for Phil Garner caliber gutting. Vance Worley pitched like Price in all but one of his starts. Cumpton might well be the best pitcher involved in any trade for any pitcher NOT named Price. Starting pitching has not been a position of much luck this year but it is still a position of great talent and depth. I hate midseason trades because they usually are done by a team that is in contention and usually only have the effect of breaking up chemistry. Bring up Mazzaro, stash or cut Friere and go with the same top 7 starters who have got us here. Oh, and buy Harrison a 1B mitt.

  • pilbobuggins

    I said the same thing a week or so ago, that the pirates don’t need an ace. If they do make a trade it should be for a guy who would slot in the 3-5 spot. The real problem for the pirates is that they can’t compete in their own division. As I have said many times if you can’t beat your division,you can’t win your division.

  • cmat0829

    Tim: Very good post. What people continually forget in the lead up to the trade deadline…there are WAY WAY more ‘rumors’ than actual deals… and the deals that tend to be made are for bench depth, bullpen depth, rotation depth, very few ‘blockbuster’ deals to be found.

    NH, like any GM, has to look at risk/reward in every decision he makes. What does adding someone like Price to the Pirates do to their chances of postseason success this year and next? Can anyone say that it makes the Pirates the prohibitive favorite to win the NL Central, to win the NL, to win the WS? I can’t. Yes, it would most definitely improve their chances, but would it be a slam dunk ticket to the WS? With the Dodgers, Cards and Reds and Nats able to easily neutralize with their own aces?

    On the risk side of that equation, very clear it will cost the Bucs a slew of top prospects… and I know the statistics are that not all prospects pan out… but I’m pretty sure removing say, 4 of the top 10, greatly reduces the yield of the top 10, regardless of what happens with the other 6. Puts too much pressure on the Bucs to yield more than the average of the top prospects that remain.

    I DO think the Pirates have to clean up the bullpen. Too tough for Hurdle to have to navigate beyond Melancon, Watson and Hughes. We can’t afford to carry Frieri AND PImentel AND Gomez (and when Cole gets back) AND Worley. I understand why we are keeping all of these guys but enough is enough. Pimentel and Worley are ‘future starting options’ depth with years of control. Pimentel has an intriguing arm. Frieri has closer stuff (it’s in there somewhere) but needs to find his mojo. Years of control there too.

    You will have a 7-man bullpen. Ideal, at least if I were GM would be:
    Closer — Huston Street

    Set Up — Watson

    7th — Melancon
    6th — Hughes/ Wilson
    Depth — Frieri
    Long — Pimentel

    Odd Men Out: Gomez, Worley

    • johnj618

      There is no way you can justify losing Worley. He should be a starter next year. Heck, if Liriano has another poor start next time out he should be back in the rotation. Am I the only one with that mindset?

      • cmat0829

        I’m with you, just that the Bucs have a number of those commodities — Pimentel, Worley and Frieri in my view— that we don’t want to lose going forward. Makes the bullpen math pretty tough.

        • johnj618

          Worley>Pimentel>Frieri. Worley has done it before and has also done it again this year and is controlled through 2018. Pimentel has shown upper 90s and good stuff, better stuff than Frieri and the ability to start and team control for a few more years. Frieri hasn’t had a good outing yet as a Pirate, hes gotta be first to go

    • pilbobuggins

      There is no such thing as a ” slam dunk” thing in any sport. While I do not disagree with you on any one point it would be best to bear that in mind.

  • Dave Parker’s Unfiltered Camel

    I’m not concerned with the pitching. I think Liriano and Cole will play better after the break. My bigger concern is Pedro. It looks like his head is getting in the way of him becoming a special player. The offensive numbers are not horrible, but the consistency is not there. The defense? Some of those throws…wow!

    • pilbobuggins

      His best value to the pirates is in a trade, sorry to say it because the potential is there. His time in pittsburgh is coming to an end quickly.

      • Lukas Sutton

        His trade value is at about its lowest point since his early career demotion to AAA. So yeah, lets trade him while his value is low! No team is going to say “yeah, he had a career high in errors and slipped in his power numbers, but lets give up top quality.” His K rate and BB rate show a guy very close to putting together a special season. His improvement in those categories werent even thought possible until this year. Fans ask “how did we not see Brandon Moss having the ability he has” yet we want to trade off a guy who isnt far off from Moss ability.

  • impliedi

    Um, do you remember who started for the Pirates in their 3 post-season victories last year?? Liriano, Cole and Liriano. Last time I checked, they are both still with the team.

  • pilbobuggins

    While I do not disagree with anything you said ,I will say this instead, the pirates best chance at going all the way will be 2015 thru 2018 ,once they get a pipeline from the minors established more completley they will be contenders for the next several years. I almost wish they did not contend last year as I think it was a year to soon

  • Simon Weaver

    You have Taillon and Kingham with Cole as your top 3. Sampson is viable and knocking on the door not to mention Locke as your lefty and Charlie rounding out your five. Why would you go after a 4 ERA Ian Kennedy or closer when the guys they have pitching today are the same the only difference is “thinking” that Kennedy is better than what you got

  • Y2JGQ2

    If ever there were a smoking gun that FIP was worthless, the fact that Liriano’s FIP is respectable is that proof. That is all.

  • Greg7373

    IMHO the Pirates have a bullpen problem – no team in the NL has more blown saves than we
    do. The Pirate bullpen lost three out seven games the Pirates played last week (starters lost two more).
    It made no sense not to offer AJB a qualifying offer (which he probably would not have accepted anyway)
    and then trade away Morris to get the same pick, approximately, that they would have gotten if they
    had just made a qualifying offer to AJB. In sum, we lost him and Morris in exchange for
    Connor Joe! Shrewd! Meanwhile, the Bucs still haven’t solved their
    season long problem at 1st base – where do we rank in the league for offensive
    production at that position, last, next to last? Third base is another disaster – when you
    subtract the unearned and tainted runs caused by errors and poor play at third
    from the offensive production at that position we must be near the bottom of
    the league at that position as well – a position that is suppose to provide
    offense. With Pedro, bless his heart, its always going to be a race between runs he
    drives in and runs he lets in. Nothing against him personally, he plays hard and I understand
    he works hard to try to get better, he just shouldn’t be playing third base and the Pirates should
    have admitted that and addressed that long ago. An obvious move, since most of Pedro’s
    errors are throwing errors and he’s a pretty good fielder, would be to try him at first and let Harrison play
    third. Of course, that would be a tacit admission that the Ike Davis trade was
    a bust.