Pirates Are One of the Teams Who Have Asked About Huston Street

Jon Heyman reports that the Pittsburgh Pirates are one of the teams interested in San Diego Padres reliever Huston Street. The article actually focuses on the Angels’ interest in Street, but talks about how the Pirates have checked in on him, and that the Orioles and Giants are speculated as possibilities.

Street is under contract for $7 M this year, with a $7 M option in 2015. He has a 1.09 ERA in 33 innings this year, with a 2.95 xFIP. I’d calculate his trade value, but trade values are never accurate for relievers. Street actually has an 0.5 WAR this year, which projects to a 1.0 WAR over a full season. He had a 1.0 WAR last year, posting similar numbers over 39 innings. That’s not worth $7 M a year on the open market, even without giving up players. But the cost for relievers has been way over-blown for years, to the point where Heyman calls his $7 M option a “team friendly” deal. And that’s true when you consider what Street is doing compared to what other teams pay closers for the same results.

The Pirates have never been a team to pay for relief pitching. They go after low risk, high reward guys, and that approach has worked well for them. Going after someone like Street would be a big change in their approach. They have a good combo in the late innings with Tony Watson and Mark Melancon. Paying prospects and committing $7 M in payroll next year for Street seems like a bad idea. They’d be better off putting that money toward extending Russell Martin. Despite the complaints about the Pirates’ bullpen, they’ve got a talented group. The biggest issue they have right now is that they have two big projects in the bullpen, and they aren’t really using those projects effectively.

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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  • Andrew

    The Pirates could definitely use another RHP who can get strikeouts, but from 2013-2014.

    Pitcher: ERA/ FIP / xFIP / K% – BB%

    Melancon: 1.76 / 1.98 / 2.35 / 21.0%
    Street: 2.11 / 4.17 / 3.61 / 17.2%

    Let someone else pay for this year’s 100% strand rate and sub .200 BABIP, though I think Street’s 2015 option is a team option.

    • pilbobuggins

      Numbers don’t always tell the whole story. A lot of times a game can and does come down to one or two pitches, they don’t effect the overall stats much but they have a big impact on the outcome of the game.

    • leowalter

      You bet Andrew ! Especially when there is a guy out there like Chad Qualls whose peripherals are much better than Street’s.

      • Leefoo Rug Bug

        And Chad would be much much cheaper.

        • bucsws2014

          And Chad would be a major liability whenever there’s a LH batter up. And there are a lot of LH batters in the NL Central.

          No denying he’s been deadly vs. RH hitters though. But I wouldn’t want him near the mound pitching to Rizzo or Bruce or Adams.

          • leowalter

            I guess the question would be then bucs, is your fear of Qualls pitching to LH hitters greater than my fear of giving up a prospect like Bell or Kingman for the use of a relatively mediocre reliever like Huston Street for about 3 months ? Because that is what it is going to take to get him.

            • bucsws2014

              I’m simply noting that Qualls isn’t good against LH batters. IMO, he’s not an answer unless the Bucs were to create two BP spots and not only acquire Qualls, but the requisite LOOGY to go along with such a move (which could be Oliver). And then Hurdle would have to be convinced to actually use said LOOGY, which he has proven reticent to do in the past.

              I don’t believe options are limited to only Street vs. Qualls.

              • leowalter

                bucs,I thought I would let you know I respect your opinion on that,and wasn’t trying to be overly critical. I also wanted you to know that I was using Qualls more as an example of a lower cost option than a ( much ) higher costing deal for someone who isn’t really all that more effective.

        • leowalter

          That was the biggest part of my point Lee. Just as effective,if not more so,and much cheaper to acquire and pay.

  • csnumber23

    I agree Tim and Russell Martin without question needs to be resigned!!!

  • Wilbertmatthewsw

    I agree that giving up prospects for Street would be wasteful. If it were just the 7 million, that would seem cheap if Volquez came in at 5. I cant agree more about Russel Martin. Numbers cannot describe him. He is the glue, the straw, the alpha, the general. He is the 4th most irreplaceable man on the 40 man roster behind Cutch, Palonco, and Cole. Lest we forget the Dante’s 4th level of hell that was Rod Barajas. Martin is the second coming of Sanguillen.

    • pilbobuggins

      Giving up prospects and I emphasize PROSPECTS with an S, yes I agree, giving up a prospect ( not a top 10) and a throw in I agree with. The pirates need bullpen help In a bad way in addition to a solid mid to back of the rotation starter. Of the two I think a reliever is the biggest need as well as the cheapest solution.

      • Y2JGQ2

        We don’t need MORE bullpen people, BUT if we could give up Pimentel and Zack Dodson for Street, lets do it. If you catch my drift. Its not just a matter of addition, but also addition by subtraction

        • Y2JGQ2

          Also, the Padres have time to fix Frieri, give them Frieri and Pimentel, we can bring up mazzaro, and we have one more middle reliever we can use anywhere, along with gomez and wilson, a long reliever in worley, along with watson, street, and melancon for late innings AND even tie games.

          • S Brooks

            That’s still one too many bodies unless you’re also going to option Hughes. Once Cole is off the DL the pen has 8 men for 7 jobs. Unfortunately in this scenario I think Mazzaro is still pitching in Indy. The one kicker is that Hughes is close to hitting service time thresholds for arbitration next year as a Super 2.

          • moose7195

            Why would the Padres trade their best reliever for our two worst relievers? They, like every other seller at the deadline, want prospects

  • John

    At the risk of getting blasted for voicing an opinion that is somewhat critical of Clint, I really think he has mishandled the bullpen at times. His insistence on “clean innings” really defies baseball logic. If a guy is in trouble he is in trouble and you move on to the next guy regardless of the situation. Jason Grilli is doing well in LA but he hasn’t pitched yet in a save situation for them and really hasn’t pitched in a real high leverage situation. I like Grilli, but in the end I just didn’t feel confident with him when he was brought into a high leverage situation.

    • pilbobuggins

      I agree about clint, his handling of the pitching staff although better as of late , still leaves a lot to be desired.

    • S Brooks

      Valid criticism, although the limitations of his pen definitely magnify the error. If he had 5 or 6 reliable guys, it would hardly matter. We saw that last year.

  • @BuccoSharkTank

    I’d prefer the Pirate make a deal for another Padres RHP reliever, Joaquin Benoit. He’d cost less in a deal, and has been very effective.

    • pilbobuggins

      Good choice, I agree it has possibilities.

  • pilbobuggins

    A couple of things here. One martin is a definite resign, as I have said before top line catchers are almost as important as top line pitchers and almost as valuable,not to mention a lot cheaper. Second, street would be a nice pickup depending on what the padres want,7 mil is pretty decent considering what relievers get now. Also I am not comfortable with melancon as the closer it is always to much of an adventure, does he get the job done? Sure when the games are not pressure packed like they will be in a pennant chase or the playoffs. Bottom line is until the pirates prove they can compete against the central this year the chances of making the playoffs are slim, shoring up the bullpen would go a long way towards achieving that goal. On a side note ,if the bucs don’t get street I see watson getting a shot at some point this season.

    • Y2JGQ2

      Watson has been bad for about the last month, or maybe simply average- don’t get caught up in the stats, Watson is who we thought he was. Nothing more. A lefty set up option without a real true out pitch

      • bucsws2014

        Watson doesn’t have a “true out pitch” because he has four plus pitches to choose from. And I’d argue that his slider, when he doesn’t hang one, is his out pitch. He doesn’t use it a ton, but because he can change speeds with the slider, it’s extremely effective.

        Unlike Melancon, Watson can get you out in multiple spots instead of just the outside corner.

        That said, he has been off the past 4 weeks. It’s probably just temporary.

  • S Brooks

    I’m much more concerned about the price in prospects than the money. The Bucs still have unspent money from the pursuits of a SP and 1B, and more net money coming off the books next year. Even with the contract escalators and arbitration raises, the Bucs will be $10-$15M below this year’s level, with only Martin to replace. And that’s assuming NH is stuck with Tabata’s $3M and decides to re-up Gaby, Frieri and Melancon. Trading or non-tendering any of these guys adds more savings.

    So they should be able to absorb Street’s salary, and he would be a good add. The worry is talk out of San Diego as to what it would take to get him.

    • Y2JGQ2

      agreed on every point brooks- i like how you think

  • Monsoon Harvard

    If they didn’t have the glaring first base dead spot in the lineup they wouldn’t leave so many runners on base, and that would have in turn given the bullpen bigger leads to work with.

    All these games they’ve blown in the last inning could have been won had they drove in the many runners they ended up leaving on base.
    That’s the real problem.

    • Y2JGQ2

      Glaring dead spot- in the past they’ve had 3 glaring dead spots. If our biggest hitting problem is ike davis, then we don’t have a hitting problem

      • Monsoon Harvard

        Pirates lead all of the national league in runners left on base with 723. Both Cincinnati & Milwaukee have left about 100 fewer runners on base.
        This is why the Pirates will not win their division.

        • S Brooks

          That’s a misleading statistic, as the Pirates also lead the league in times on base. They have had far more baserunners than Milwaukee or Cincinnati to strand in the first place. Measuring H-HR+BB+HBP+ROE, the Bucs have had 80 more baserunners than Milwaukee and 120 more than Cincinnati, so it should be no surprise that the Pirates have more LOB.

          The team is below average in converting baserunners to runs, but not by nearly the margin that would be suggested by your statistic. Right now they’re performing at about 18 runs below average for the number of guys they get on base, which would take them from 5th in the league to 3rd. Mailwaukee is a much bigger outlier on the other side, scoring 26 more than they would be expected to.

          The Pirates have the 2nd best batting average in the league with runners on base, the problem is they aren’t hitting doubles with runners on. There’s a lot of randomness to that, just like when the team went weeks without a sacrifice fly last year, and then started getting them in bunches. These things tend to even out.

          The offense is 5th best in the NL, but the team is 9th in runs allowed. For once, the hitters are (mostly) pulling their weight. Infield defense has killed this team – 2nd worst in the NL, just ahead of the Phillies. 30 extra runs. That and the bullpen are the reasons the Pirates aren’t in first, not the LOB.

          • bucsws2014

            Which leads to the logical yet totally un-Hurdle-like conclusion that when Josh Harrison plays, he should be batting cleanup.

            I don’t know what it is with the 4 slot that seems to intimidate every single Bucs batter. Even Walker, although not to the severe level batting 4th has crushed Ike, Gaby and Pedro. Is there any reasonable explanation as to why Walker’s K rate would skyrocket batting 4th vs. batting 5th or 6th?

            Josh doesn’t seem to care where you bat him. So bat him 4th.

            • moose7195

              Or maybe you put Cutch in the 4 and let the fact that he is Cutch protect Pedro or Neil in the 3 spot. It helped Marte out of maybe the worst funk ever, maybe it brings consistency to Pedro

          • Monsoon Harvard

            Its not misleading because the Brewers have scored more runs than the Pirates yet have had far fewer base runners. Same with the Reds, they have only 20 fewer runs scored, yet far fewer base runners, and both teams as I said have left 100+ fewer runners on base. It can’t be misleading if both the Brewers and Reds have scored more or close to the same amount of runs. It will be the reason the Pirates don’t finish first or even second in their division.

            • S Brooks

              The Brewers’ record vs. the Pirates is almost entirely attributable to the Pirates’ bullpen woes, and not that Milwaukee has “better hitters.” The Pirates have outscored the Brewers 55-54 head to head, and yet they have a 3-10 record. Why? 3 leads blown in the 9th inning and one in the 8th. Convert those 4 and the Pirates lead the series 7-6.

              Again, the Pirates have the 2nd best batting average in the NL with runners on base, behind Colorado. Ahead of Cincinnati and Milwaukee. So they get more runners on base than those two, and they get more hits when those runners are on base.

              These are skills, and the Pirates are better than either the Reds or Brewers at it.

              What happens next is not any underlying skill, it’s mostly randomness. Sequencing and clustering. It’s not repeatable. Historians and statisticians have looked at 100 years of baseball data and there is no special skill that helps a player or team consistently plate (or strand) more runners than average over the long term. “Timely hitting” is not repeatable. You get more guys on base, you get more hits when guys are on base, you score more runs. That’s how it works. For the categories the Pirates can actually control, they’re an upper tier offensive team, better than the Reds at at least equal to the Brewers.

              The fact that Milwaukee has converted fewer opportunities into more runs with fewer hits means nothing more than the coin they flip has come up heads 26 more times than you would expect. Over the next 65+ games it’s likely to regress and the Brewers will strand more than their fair share. And the Pirates’ coin has come up tails 18 times more than you would expect. Going forward that’s likely to regress to.

  • Simon Weaver

    +1

  • Lukas Sutton

    Chad Qualls.