First Pitch: If the Pirates Don’t Make a Move, It Would Be the Exception

Every year after the deadline, we hear a little bit about discussions that didn’t end up turning into deals. The last two years, that’s all we’ve had for the Pittsburgh Pirates, since they didn’t make a trade on either deadline day. This year, the news was that they made a better offer for David Price in terms of talent, but that the Rays wanted young guys who were in the majors.

Naturally, this was met with the usual skepticism and/or anger about coming up short. The skeptics believe that this is just a lie, which doesn’t make sense as it’s coming from a national media member (in this case, Peter Gammons). Is Gammons is reporting false information to allow the Pirates to say “We tried” when they really didn’t, all with no vested interest in helping them out? Or is it just that the Pirates made a really good offer, but the Rays preferred a different one? One scenario involves a lot of conspiracy and stretching the imagination. The other involves something that happens all the time.

I don’t know if the Pirates will go without an addition this year, because there’s still the month of August. This time last year they were in the same situation, and ended up adding Marlon Byrd and Justin Morneau at the end of the month. So it’s possible that they could do the same thing again this year.

If the Pirates did go without making a move, then this year would be the exception, and not the rule. They might not have a track record of landing guys like Price or Jon Lester, but they’ve got a track record of adding talent over the last few years while they’ve been in a playoff race.

In 2011 they traded for Derrek Lee and Ryan Ludwick.

In 2012 they added Wandy Rodriguez, Travis Snider, and Gaby Sanchez.

Last year it was Byrd and Morneau.

There’s only so much a team can do when it comes to attempting a trade, because it takes two to make a deal. That sounds cliché, but it’s true. The Pirates can make a big offer, but if the other team is looking for something different, or something very specific, then there’s nothing the Pirates can do to make a deal. And it’s not like the Pirates haven’t paid big to get a player. They gave up a lot to get one month of Marlon Byrd last year. They made a fairly big trade when they acquired Wandy Rodriguez.

No one likes to hear about the Pirates trying to get a player. Unfortunately, that’s only one of two possibilities when a team is pursuing a player, with the other possibility being the preferred “Pirates acquire (Insert Player Here).” When the former takes place, the reaction is that the Pirates made some sort of mistake, or continued a trend where they never add players, or just didn’t try at all, which is ridiculous. But their track record of actually making deals shows that these theories are false.

The Pirates aren’t going to get every player they pursue, just like how the Dodgers didn’t get Price or Lester, or how several other teams who were linked to those players didn’t land them. That’s nothing more than how the trade market works.

Now we’ll see if the Pirates continue their trend of adding at the deadline for the fourth straight year, or if they’ll make this year the rare exception where they don’t make a move.

Links and Notes

**Prospect Watch: Garcia Stays Hot, Tucker Hits First Homer, Control Issues For Glasnow

**Pittsburgh Pirates Sign Right-Handed Pitcher Cory Rhodes

**Gerrit Cole scratched from Saturday rehab start

**The Pirates Made a Better Offer For David Price

**The Trade Deadline Doesn’t Really Change Playoff Odds

**Prospect Highlights: Homer By Willy Garcia, Keon Broxton Steals Home

**Minor League Schedule: Which Jason Creasy Shows Up Tonight For Bradenton?

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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  • Joe Nastasi

    It doesn’t make a difference to some of the Yinzers what the Pirates do, it will never be enough. People like Colin Dumbflop like to just hear themselves *itch. When he’s by himself at home he probably has to go in the bathroom look in the mirror & say shut the hell up already.

    • bucsws2014

      I don’t know if Dunlop even believes the crap he spews out. I generally think younger guys like Dunlop & Filiponi tend to follow the Mark Madden model and try to be controversial simply to generate the most call ins, since that’s pretty much all those shows are about.

      • moose7195

        I’ve never seen someone try to make a mountain out of a mole more than Filiponi. Half the time he has either no logical point, or its so far out there that a telescope is needed to find his logic.

      • unfurious

        It frightens me that Mark Madden has a model. I think you’re right, though. I turned Dunlop off the other day and my wife (who does not follow sports or talk radio) gave a dramatic sigh of relief. When i asked if the talk radio was really that bad, she said “I don’t like that guy. He sounds like Mark Madden.” Lab experiment complete.

        • StevePegues

          A plus-size model, no doubt.

          Wokka-wokka-wokka.

          • unfurious

            lol…booo

        • pilbobuggins

          Glad I live in west central florida where the biggest sports news is when the next disney half marathon is.

    • Lee Young

      never ‘got’ the love for call-in talk shows….

      • unfurious

        I never call in. I just like to hear the different takes on my sports teams. I’m not into dial-4-abuse. It’s kinda like the blogs. I’ll throw in my opinion here but i don’t get into the personal confrontations unless I absolutely cannot resist. I just like to see the opinions refine my own.

    • leowalter

      Love that last name Joe !

  • emjayinTN

    I agree with the track record, but really have a hard time figuring out what the Pirates need right now. In the past they had obvious weaknesses that had to be addressed for the short and long term, but I do not see that in 2014. They have cleared out some folks who needed to leave, but at this point, I doubt we can find a SP better than what we have in place on the current roster and at AAA. Josh Harrison and Travis Snider have given us some consistency off the bench and as subs for injuries and the only place I see where we might make an improvement is in the BP, but we are already 2 days into August and have plenty to pull from in the minors if we can continue the consistent play into September. Unless somebody makes an offer we cannot pass up, this may be the year we do not try to add a significant piece.

    NH did as much as possible to get David Price, but Andrew Friedman liked the deal he got, and I would think that he and Price have the type of relationship that he may have had input as to where he was going – that part we may never know, but I appreciated reading that NH made the move to get him.

    • marty34156

      Would be pretty tough to not find SPs better than bums like Locke, Volquez, and Cumpton.

      • Steve Williams

        Cumpton is not on the Bucs. And either Volquez or Locke will be out of the rotation as soon as Cole returns. To make a significant upgrade over the other one would require mortgaging the future by giving up a significant prospect.

      • Lee Young

        again……..marty, marty, marty. :0

      • leowalter

        Go ahead genius,give us the names .

      • pilbobuggins

        While I agree that an upgrade at sp is a key,the only guy even remotely available that would be an upgrade is cole hammels and I don’t see the pirates getting him unless the phils eat half his contract and that’s a possibility that happens if no other team wants him,so slim to none. The other option and far more likely is a healthy gerrit cole, his return would be an upgrade on the starter side as well as the bullpen,thus solving two problems with one guy.

    • piraddict

      Friedman might have wanted to preserve Price’s good will in case he wants to bid on him in the FA market in the future, in spit of the “Rays’ model”.

    • ClayDog

      Zzzzzz

      Roger,

      Amen! You’d think after 20 years of losing and 35 years since a World Series title, and after more recently benefiting from a boon in attendance and ongoing revenue sharing, that front office would make a move, even if only to keep pace with NL foes. But, no such luck this year or last. Also, I fully agree with your assessment of the Pirates Prospects’ bent. Rarely does it seem that a prospect is moderately. They all seem to be future all stars, including at positions they don’t currently play (e.g., AA Bell will be a future 1B all star), and so never worth trading. Hogwash! If the As, Cards and other teams can trade current and past all stars, why can’t we give up guys that likely will never become one, let alone be guaranteed to make the bigs?

      The Pirates, obviously, could stand to significantly improve its SP. The fact that they have 5 starters (BTW, all teams do) does not mean that their 1-5 come close to matching up with the top teams. Quick… Who’s the Pirates No. 1 starter? If it’s Cole, the fact that he’s battled two injuries this year, and is still on the shelf, is reason enough to say we need to go get help. If it’s our opening day starter, Liriano, boy has he been erratic. If it’s Volquez, why the repeated recommendation on this site and others that he get moved to the bullpen? If it’s Worley, wow, from minor league reclamation project to No. 1 starter in just 1/2 a season?!?! If it’s Locke or Morton, God help us. The point is your eyes and ears see and hear what they want, so if you want to believe (or be led to believe) that the Pirates did everything they could to go get a stud pitcher, including offering TB “better talent”(which, remarkably, TB rejected for lesser talent), then there’s likely no convincing you (and the Pirates FO thank you for your unwavering support). But, if you’ve ever played the game at a high level or watched year-in and year-out how the competition approaches executing key trades (vs. trying real hard to do so) or just look at current individual Pirate pitchers’ stats (they barely crack the top 20 in any category) or are frustrated by not having appeared in a World Series for 35 years, it’s manifest the Bucs could really have benefited from getting Lester, Price or another top of the rotation guy. Maybe next year, but If history is our guide, I doubt it…

  • marty34156

    I hope they add pitching in August, they need it desperately. Locke and Volquez are unreliable, and Cole’s health still a question. The team’s bullpen sucks too. Hughes, Watson, and Melancon only good relievers. Bench is also a mess, Morel and Martinez are not Major Leaguers. Huntington better do something, doubt he will though. August trades are difficult to pull off.

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

      “August trades are difficult to pull off.”
      I know, that’s why Tim pointed out that NH has successfully done so for 3 straight years.

    • Lee Young

      marty, marty, marty. :0

    • freddylang

      Marty, thank you for representing the average uneducated fan.

    • leowalter

      If the Pirates are that bad, I hate to think just why the Cardinals, Reds and Brewers can’t seem to run away and hide from them. Lets hear you explain that.

    • Jared

      Yes, the bench is a real problem. Martinez and Morel just not only shouldn’t be major leaguers but they should never ever start!

      • jaygray007

        Welp it is a good thing theyll be gone once Marte and Barmes are back

    • pilbobuggins

      Agree marty,although I still have serious???? about melancon getting it done during the dog days of the pennant race and playoffs,yes I know his numbers are fine now,I’m just saying . One of those cases where being wrong would make me happy and being right would be the opposite of happy.

  • Skinny Merlino

    The pittsburgh media is a joke rob rossi leading the way

    • leowalter

      SM : Guys like Rossi and Dunlop need a visit from Skinny Joey Merlino

      • Skinny Merlino

        Agreed rossi I hate with a passion the worst media person to discuss hockey ever

  • John

    What the Pirates need right now is some of the players they already have is to play up to their upside instead of down to their downside. Some guys need to get healthy and soon like Marte and Cole because it takes awhile to get back up to speed at the major league level. Oakland and LAA, the Dodgers, the Tigers had teams that probably were going to make the playoffs anyway and have to keep up with all the moves the others are making. But all of them can’t win the WS and hopefully while they are trying to outdo each other any of the other teams making it can surprise them in a short series in the playoffs.

    • Lee Young

      Well, I grew up with the O’s having these great pitching staffs and somehow we came back from 3-1 deficits to win, so I agree….anything can happen in a short series.

      • John

        Same here Lee and if you remember the 1960, 71 and 79 Pirate teams were all underdogs and (especially 60 team) and all had one or two superstars and the rest were all very good “role” players.

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

    Kind of amazing after all the abuse from fans like me – suddenly Travis Snider is one of our most valuable players and a guy I would hate to lose.

    • jaygray007

      Could we be seeing him Brandon Moss-ifying himself?

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

        Hope so. I’ve always thought Snider was capable of a huge break out, he’s got such great athleticism. But that also made it doubly frustrating to watch him fail to produce.

  • lonleylibertarian

    Not sure I would consider any of the three trades much more than a modest success. Morneau never hit more than singles – was a better defensive first baseman than Jones. Byrd added a bit – but if you look closely at September stats – he and Tabata were pretty close in terms of raw stats.

    I think Gammons – then DK nailed it. This Front Office is more concerned with not looking bad than helping the team compete. The As and Tigers and to some extent the Cards were committed to trying to win this year. Does not mean they don’t also have a plan for next year – but all three teams got better.

    Lots of folks trying to convince themselves not much changed in the NL Central, but the projections show the Cards odds of making post season got better – and the Bucs got worse. Yes those are just projections – but Pirate players know that the FO did nothing the help them win while the Cardinal players know that their FO was willing to at least try. That will count for something when the Bucs approach Martin about a new contract – good luck getting a home team discount.

    • moose7195

      The idea that the FO is more committed to good P.R. than winning baseball games may be the stupidest rationalization out there right now. There is a point where the other team just doesn’t like your deal as much as another teams, and throwing any more chips onto the table may just help get you fired. The Pirates were reported to be in on a ton of different players. How can anyone believe that it was all just a front, and that NH sat on his hands for the last 3 weeks? The notion is completely idiotic.

      And yes, the team looked completely demoralized last night on their way to an 8th and 9th inning rally. There was clearly no motivation. SMH

      • lonleylibertarian

        I actually thought they looked pretty pathetic for the last two nights until Pedro got things rolling…

        not a lot of energy and really played like they were not in the mood for the first 16 innings – thought Arizona looked like both the better team and the more motivated team.

        • pilbobuggins

          I thought so to,but man what a finish. Maybe that shakes the lethargy out of the bucs system and they roll for awhile.

      • lonleylibertarian

        AND BTW TAKE THAT SMH CRAP AND SHOVE IT!

        I try and express my opinions on this site and elsewhere WITH showing contempt for others…

        I have no problem with you disagreeing or having a different opinion – you should do the same

        You seem compelled to not only respond – but do so in a way much better suited for the Twitter world.

        • moose7195

          The only thing I attacked was your opinion. You’re the one letting your blood pressure rise.

    • Lukas Sutton

      The Cards got less than 1 game better. What ever will we do to catch them, if only we had a starting pitcher and LFer coming back to make up that space. Cards were willing to go get 1 bad SP and 1 decent SP and give up 2 decent starters. What players could we have given up on the current team to make the current deal? They gave up ML starters to get SP, we dont have more than 1 position player we can part with that people want and our rotation losing Locke and adding a Lackey type is a gain of less than half a win.

    • S Brooks

      The Cardinal players are pissed that Mozeliak traded away Craig and Kelly, who were popular in the clubhouse. And they Leo aacquired noted clubhouse scorpion AJ Pierzynski earlier. Whatever psychological benefit there may have been to making those deals is easily neutralized by the impact on chemistry.

      • lonleylibertarian

        Of course the best thing is we get to see who is right on this play out, The Cards gave up nothing – Craig is having an awful year – Boston hope he can be fixed/healed for next year. Kelly is a one pitch starter – they are not often successful in the Majors – until he adds two quality pitches he is bullpen guy

        • Jaynestown

          Allen Craig was an All Star and a huge part of the Cardinals the last few years. He had his struggles some this year (similar to Cutch’s August of 2012), but I think it is a big deal he was traded. Matt Adams is now the lone option at first, but he is starting to struggle now too (not to mention a couple injuries he’s been working through).

          Joe Kelly is again a young pitcher with a live arm (once hit 98). Pace isn’t everything and of course he needs some work, but St Louis usually takes pride and has success in developing those guys for their needs, not trading them away.

          I for one am happy to see the Cardinals make this trade as a Pirates fan. Bench has been weakened, Taveras has been struggling and now will have to start much more going forward (maybe he’ll figure it out this year, but I am thinking in another year or two is probably more likely). I just don’t see how it makes St Louis better on the whole now, and it certainly won’t be better for them long term.

          • pilbobuggins

            I agree , I think the cards just became considerably weaker, pitching was not the problem there so the pitchers out and in are pretty much a wash. The cards have not been able to hit this year and I think losing craig from the middle of the lineup is going to really hurt them going forward. Not criticizing here just saying,if the pirates could have just marginally improved I think the division would have been theirs, now I think it will be much more of a dogfight. Let’s hope cole coming back(?) Is the improvement that puts them over the top.

    • Andrew

      I really struggle to value an opinion that is based on underlying inaccuracies and vague statements.

      DK stated that he would gladly ship out a number #3, prospect for Miller. Stating that Eduardo Rodriguez, was Orioles #3, well the Pirates’ number three preseason was Tyler Glasnow. Josh Bell was #7. So who is this unnamed #3 that should have been sent, Tallion, Kingham, Meadows, for a rented reliever. (Also Rodriguez is likely no longer the Birds #3 he is struggling a bit at AA and has most likely been passed by Harvey Hunter and Christian Walker.)

      Then DK goes on to state Cesdedes has a greater trade value than Marte, this is utterly laughable. Researching this stuff really isn’t hard, I don’t care if you write well, if you make numerous mistakes on fundamental issues I value any subsequent opinions less.

      My criticism of the deadline inactivity would be it seems the Pirates were too invested in a big move and lost sight of marginal upgrades that could have been made. Haven’t heard about any lesser deals that fell through, though those type of rumors don’t drive traffic. I just find it odd that the Pirates are so tied to this current bullpen.

      • lonleylibertarian

        Right now I think Cespedes does have more value to a team like the Sox than Marte – 25 HRs and a 3+ WAR look a bit better than a player who seems to have regressed a bit and is having injury problems at a young age. PECOTA has Marte finishing the year with 10 HR – and .050 lower OPS than Cespedes.

        • Andrew

          Maybe if you only look at power numbers but I cannot agree, Marte is projected to finish around the same WAR range, has seven years of control compared to Cespedes one at $10.5 million. Maybe Boston doesn’t need a CF with Bradley and Betts around, but their RF is big. Marte’s value is enough to trade for almost any starting pitcher in the game outside the top 15 under more than a two year contract, let alone a damn rental.

          • lonleylibertarian

            I don’t personally disagree – I like Marte a lot and would not trade him for Cespedes straight up – BUT the Sox added a guy who has more home runs right now than their entire outfield – they needed a power bat…

            • Andrew

              That is fair, and Boston certainly received a nice return for two rentals, possibly then think they have enough solid fielders in OF. But man if someone is trading Marte I want some years of control back.

    • StevePegues

      “I think Gammons – then DK nailed it. This Front Office is more concerned with not looking bad than helping the team compete.”
      _____________________________________________________
      Uhh… that’s not what those articles say.

      • lonleylibertarian

        Gammons:

        “Dombrowski and Beane share one common trait: neither worries about what he’s giving up, each focuses on what he is getting for his team.”

        Nice way of saying other GMs tend to worry too much about what they are giving up – Huntington is one of those “other GMs” – I think he would agree that he is.

        DK in his rant on Nutting picked up the Gammons quote and went on to say pretty much what I said – Huntington worries about waking up and getting hammered for “overpaying” for a player – he is TRANSACTION focused – and as a result cannot see the potential in having a David Price for not just this year – but next. The idea of a LHP in his prime – a guy able to go toe to toe with Greinke if not Kershaw – with Wainwright – that would have been cool – it would have allowed the Bucs to bring along Cole and Tailon – and maybe even Kingham before he left in free agency.

        Some have asked who on the Bucs would I have offered to make the deal happen – Tampa wanted everyday players – with more than one year of control. The only untouchables I would have had would have been Cutch and Martin – EVERYONE else would have been in play.

        AND I know – a deal still might not have happened – but based on what I have read Huntington never shifted from prospects to players.

        • StevePegues

          You’re reading into both those items to an unreasonable degree.

        • Lukas Sutton

          Listening to DK is your mistake.

        • moose7195

          That type of short sightedness would make this a team worse in both the long and short term. You’d create holes everywhere else just to say, “WE’VE GOT PRICE!!!” It’s really what the Cardinals did at the deadline. They decided to trade real MLB assets for names, and I think it both demoralized the team and made them less talented.

          There is absolutely a point where you can overpay and severely hurt your team. You don’t go in with the mentality of “any means necessary”. It’s a bad way to be, and Billy Beane is going to have a tough time explaining himself if he doesn’t win it all. Not to mention that he has a lot of tough work ahead of him to keep the squad competitive over the next few years. That’s not a position I’d want to be in, even with Price on the team.

  • unfurious

    IMO the Pirates simply stuck with a solid plan this year. They examined all options, assigned values to the acquisitions they’d like, prioritized and made their plays. They tried to improve their organization (with the focus on this year’s team), not win the trade deadline. They will continue to do so in August, just like the past few years. I am absolutely fine with this approach. They fished with a wide net that came up empty but they also kept a lot of teams honest in their own efforts by keeping good offers to beat on the table. They also laid groundwork for post-deadline and off-season deals. They also kept themselves a viable contender for the next 4-5 years. What will be most telling to me is when we find out where the recently increased revenues go. If we get Polanco, Walker, Martin, etc signed to new deals, I’ll be very glad that we didn’t break the bank on Price. If Seven Springs gets a complete renovation instead THEN I’ll doubt the motivations of ownership.

  • Mike Adamson

    Has anybody but Peter Gammons said the Pirates deal was better? I mean of course what I suggested yesterday could never happen. I mean honestly even Scott Boras reaches out to Gammons. Wouldn’t it be convenient if someone in the Pirates front office leaked out that they offered Glasnow, Bell, and Locke or whatever to save face.
    Anyways I’m watching no matter what and have all of life. Just don’t trust them and refuse to believe everything I read in sports or politics!!!

    • StevePegues

      Has anybody reported the Pirates deal was worse?

      You can unreasonably refuse to believe whatever you want– I’m sure the guys who refuse to believe the moon landing will save ya a seat at their convention.

      • Mike Adamson

        Nobody else reported anything.

        • Jaynestown

          Guess that means they aren’t lying then, I saw no reports on it

  • SBSteelers

    Personally I’d rather the Pirates not do anything for a season or two if the team really has some quality pitching coming up in a season or two. That is the only position you can never have enough of – pitching.

    • lonleylibertarian

      I am coming around to that POV – I really don’t want to have unreasonable expectations.

      Why would I possibly want the Pirates in the World Series every year – it is just setting my expectation way too high.

      I am 67 – if they win sometime between now and my 80th birthday that should be good enough.

      In the meantime we can just do the Huntington version of counting coup and maximize years of control and number of prospects in the various top 50/100 lists – THAT is what is really important!!!!