First Pitch: Is Chris Stewart the Best Catching Option If the Pirates Can’t Re-Sign Martin?

The Pittsburgh Pirates brought in Chris Stewart last year to serve as a defensive specialist behind Russell Martin. Stewart did not exactly specialize in defense during the 2014 season.

The catcher posted his best year ever offensively, with a .693 OPS that was over 100 points higher than his career numbers entering the season. That was largely fueled by a .364 BABIP, which is way up from his career .259 BABIP. Stewart has never really provided any power, and actually saw his power drop during the 2014 season, to a very small .037 ISO.

Defensively, Stewart saw his numbers regress. He has a career 31% caught stealing rate, but saw that drop to 23% this year. His blocking skills have been good in the past, but were down this year by several metrics. FanGraphs had him dropping from 2.7 in 2013 to 0.9 in 2014 in RPP (blocked pitches in runs above average). Baseball Prospectus had him going from 2.2 blocking runs per 7000 chances to -1.6.

With all of that said, I raise the following question: could Chris Stewart be a good option as the Pirates’ starting catcher in 2015?

I’m sure that the quick answer is going to be “No!” and that answer is probably warranted without a specific set of conditions surrounding the question. So let’s add those conditions.

I’ve written a lot of articles saying the Pirates should bring back Russell Martin. As long as the price isn’t huge, I still think that should be the case. If Martin costs $15 M per year over four years, then that’s a price the Pirates can, and should pay. But what if a big market team like the Dodgers gets involved, pushing the bidding to five years, or well above $15 M per year, or both? The reality of Major League Baseball is that if a big market team wants a player bad enough, they can easily out-bid small market teams to get that player.

In 2014 there were 54 deals that paid $15 M or more. Out of those deals, only five were made by teams that could be classified as “small market”. The Rockies (Troy Tulowitzki) and Twins (Joe Mauer) were both on the list due to franchise players who signed massive extensions. The Twins might be starting to regret the Mauer deal, and the Rockies have been talked about in rumors involving Tulowitzki being traded. The other three teams are Baltimore, Cleveland, and Milwaukee.

The Orioles were paying $15.35 M to Nick Markakis, at the end of a six-year deal. The Indians were paying $15 M to Nick Swisher, as part of a four-year, $56 M deal. The Brewers paid $15.1 M to Aramis Ramirez in the final year of a three-year, $36 M deal.

On the other side of the spectrum, there were eight teams that made up almost three-quarters of the $15 M salaries. Those teams were the Yankees (8 players), Dodgers (7), Tigers (5), Cardinals (4), Phillies (4), Angels (4), Red Sox (4), and Giants (3). The Cardinals aren’t exactly a big market team, but their annual attendance figures, their prolonged success, and their drafting and developing of players makes it possible for them to spend on multiple teams. The attendance figures play a huge factor here.

As we saw with Cleveland, Baltimore, and Milwaukee, a small market team can spend $15 M on a player, but not much more than that. And usually, a player making $15 M will end up with a big market team.

So let’s assume Martin gets paid by a team like the Dodgers, to the point where the Pirates can’t match the salary. Now the Pirates are looking for a new starting catcher. Free agency isn’t an option. They could go for a trade, and this is an area that I’m not going to explore deeply in this article, because we have no clue at this point who is going to be available. I’m not dismissing that a trade is possible. That said, the idea that a team is willing to give up a Russell Martin type player in a trade is impossible. If the Pirates are making a trade, they’re doing it for a defensive specialist. Teams don’t just trade two-way catchers.

If the question about Stewart being a good catching option is “Chris Stewart vs Russell Martin”, the answer is clearly in Martin’s favor. If Martin is gone, and the Pirates are left looking for a defensive specialist, Stewart might not be a bad bet.

For this to be true, you’d have to assume Stewart was just having a down year in 2014. His career caught stealing rate is 31%. He dropped down to 23% in 2012, before jumping back to 31% in 2013 as a starter. It’s not out of the question that he could see his caught stealing numbers bounce back next year. The blocking numbers were also poor, although they look like an outlier when compared to his career numbers. As an interesting side note, Russell Martin’s blocking numbers were also way down this year. The difference between last year and this year was 6.1 runs. The difference for Stewart was 1.8 runs.

Then there’s the area where Stewart didn’t struggle this year — his pitch framing. Stewart posted 9.0 framing runs, according to his Baseball Prospectus page. That was as a backup catcher, which translates to 21.3 framing runs per 7000 framing chances. By comparison, Russell Martin had 7810 chances as a starter this year, and had 17.3 Framing Runs per 7000 chances. Stewart was a better framer than Martin, and that’s been the case every year they’ve been in the league together.

I looked at the framing runs numbers over the last two years, and out of the 133 catchers in the league, Stewart ranked 17th in framing runs per 7000 chances. If you remove the catchers who had less than 3000 chances in those two years, Stewart ranks 12th with 16.4 runs, and Russell Martin ranks 13th with 14.6 runs.

The impact of pitch framing is much bigger than the impact for blocking or caught stealing. Stewart had a rSB (Stolen base runs saved) of 2 last year, when he caught 31% of base stealers. He was at 1 this year, with 23%. If he goes back to 31%, it won’t make a massive difference. His blocking, according to BP, would have been worth 2.2 runs per 7000 chances last year, and -1.6 runs this year. If he reverts back there, it would be another 3.8 runs. Together, he’d have about 5 runs, or half a win extra, if he reverts back to his old defensive ways.  But the framing runs have always been there, and could add an extra 2-2.5 wins as a starter.

Stewart wouldn’t be close to Martin. For one, Martin throws out an unreal amount of base stealers. His 40% caught stealing over the last two years has led to 15 rSB. The difference in 2013, when both catchers were starting, was seven runs in Martin’s favor. The blocking for Martin last year would have been worth an extra 3.5 runs per 7000 chances (although catchers usually get around 5000 chances, so the season impact would be smaller). Those two factors give Martin about an extra win in value over Stewart, defensively.

Looking at the DRS numbers, it could be more. Martin was worth 16 DRS in 2013, while Stewart was worth 1 DRS. That 15 run difference would be about 1.5 wins. If you consider the pitch framing about equal (and slightly in Stewart’s favor), then Martin’s defense gives him an extra 1-1.5 wins over Stewart.

The biggest divide comes on the offensive side. Martin and Stewart both had career years at the plate in 2014, although “career year” needs to be defined in each case. A career year for Martin makes him a middle of the order hitter. A normal year for Martin provides average to below average offense from the catcher position. Chris Stewart needs a career year to get in the normal range for Martin. His normal play would make him one of the worst offensive regular catchers in baseball. His .575 OPS coming into the season would rank dead last among the 31 catchers with 300+ plate appearances in 2014.

That’s a huge downgrade from Martin. But we’re not exactly comparing those two, since we know Martin is much more valuable. What we’re comparing is Stewart versus every other option that the Pirates could get via trade. In the likely event that they can only get a defensive catcher, then they’re looking at someone very similar to Stewart on the offensive side, and possibly no better defensively.

If the Pirates can’t bring back Russell Martin, the options are bad. They would most likely be looking at a backup and defense only at the catching position. In that event, Stewart would be one of the best options they could get. That is, at least until Elias Diaz is ready for the majors.

Links and Notes

**2014 Recaps: Russell Martin Had a Career Year Offensively, But Defense Will Get Him Paid

**Baseball America’s 2014 Pirates Draft Report Card

**Winter Leagues: Willy Garcia Picks Up Two Hits in First Start

**AFL: Joely Rodriguez Throws Four Shutout Innings, Elias Diaz Reaches Base Three Times

  • Your right Tim , the short answer is no !!!

  • wow- this is scary. I’d much rather let sanchez figure it out vs. letting stewart be anything more than a 1 game a week catcher who can play an extra game when we are facing an abnormal about of lefties. He just isn’t good, and you have to compare him to Martin because that’s a huge downgrade. We can’t afford that type of downgrade and still make the playoffs unless we make it up by making a huge splash on free agent pitchers or a better first baseman. With losing Benedict, it increases the need even more to keep martin, or we could be in for a disasterous pitching year, all while losing all semblance of offense from one of our best sources of offsense. I definitely know that you can’t guess who would be available via trade but there MUST be something better than stewart. If there isn’t, then you give Russell 20 million because you have to

  • I am an amateur at this but I would think that without Martin and we are looking at Stewart as the possible starter, we have to sign one or more free agent AAAA or mlb catchers to minor league with invite contracts to compete with Stewart and Sanchez for the team when we break camp. We will HAVE to have at least one other quality option in April-June in case Sanchez or Stewart(see also 2014) are on the IR as the season begins. Right now, if one of them would have an injury we would have to push Diaz before he is ready. Not a good option. And we certainly do not want to have a season like a few years ago when we went through who knows how many catchers in one season and we do not have quality players ready. We got lucky when we found “the fort” a few years ago when we were desperate.

  • The Cardinals aren’t exactly a big market team, but their annual attendance figures, their prolonged success, and their drafting and developing of players makes it possible for them to spend on multiple teams. The attendance figures play a huge factor here.
    Don’t overlook their regional television deal, which expands into something like 11 states and includes bigger population centers like Memphis, Louisville, Omaha and Oklahoma City. They’re every bit the regional player as the bigger markets, albeit not as large in their primary market at NYY, LAD, or BOS

    • Everything I’ve seen published indicates their regional TV deal is $14 million, which makes it less valuable than the Bucs. If there are additional deals/revenues outside of their RSN, how would one find that out?

      • If the Cardinals are getting $14 million/year that would likely be the worst deal in all of baseball. This article suggest it is significantly more.

        http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/cards-bank-on-ticket-sales-not-tv-revenue/article_0463c102-a98b-5987-98a5-a81b69d71483.html

        The Cardinals currently receive a rights fee of between $25 million and $28 million, two sources confirmed. The contract has escalators built in that will move the Cardinals toward $30 million.

        • Fangraphs reported it as $14 mill also in 2012, same year as your article. Odd that the other baseball sites I’ve read use the Fangraphs # and not the one you just posted. But it’s St Louis media which I’ll assume did some investigating instead of just picking up previous reported numbers.

          Regardless, if the Cards are making $12 mill more than Bucs on TV but $75 mill more on gate revenue, the Bucs are going to be in trouble no matter what their next deal with Root is in five years.

          • I saw that in the original Fangraphs article, but a later article on TV revenues had the $25-28 mm number in a chart, it is hard know but $14 mm just seems to low to true.

  • Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

    • You don’t like Fedex? I think he’s a better defensive catcher than our Tony Sanchez.

      • Not as the #1 was the answer “noooooooooooo”. But when we lose Russ, all bets are off.

  • I like Tim Federowicz with Dodgers. He spent much of 2014 in AAA Albuquerque, but he’s now a veteran AAA player (but still young enough) that can be an adequate replacement. Unfortunately, Fedex hits right-handed so he platooning with Stewart is a non-starter. Comments about Federowicz anyone?

  • I can’t say I’m too stoked for Chris Stewart as a starting catcher. I think his upside is defensive backup. If Diaz is the near future as a starter, I think you go with some combination of Sanchez and Stewart in the meantime. Sanchez had a couple bad throws to first and in typical pirate fan fashion, he was no longer an option in any way. If things play out the way all the doomsdayers predict, I would just as soon see a 70/30 split between Sanchez and Stewart with Sanchez on the high end. The audition he has received is hardly enough to determine what he offers.

    Of course my preference is to resign Martin and go forward from there. But according to everyone on the outside looking in, Martin is currently scouting real estate in Boston , LA, and Chicago.

  • IF the Bucs don’t sign Martin, I fully expect them to sign a veteran, maybe a AAAAer, with a strong glove to compete with Stew and Sanchez. It’s kind of their M.O. and it’s worked. Stewart didn’t stick to a MLB bench until he was 30 which tells me two things: dude can’t and will never hit & dude can seriously impress coaches with this glove. He is the next Clint Barmes and they don’t have to worry about FA until 2017 when, if he is still in the league… he will probably take a pay cut. If he is caddying for Sanchez or Diaz by 2015 and one of them is the next Mercer we are okay. I certainly don’t see them finding another Martin via BIG trade but they might be able to pluck a young Martin out of someones system. I am watching NH’s next move with great curiosity.

    • derekbellstutu
      October 21, 2014 4:21 pm

      The Yankees have some depth at catcher in their system. What does everyone think about the Pirates acquiring John Ryan Murphy and letting him split time with Chris Stewart? Or Blake Swihart of the Red Sox? I’ve seen some on this site campaigning for Hank Conger of the Angels. What would it take to acquire Murphy, Swihart, or Conger?

      • i’ve been campaigning for conger to crickets at this point.. there’s a lot of discussion about signing martin and other catcher free agents.. doesn’t seem to be too much interest on what it would cost to acquire a catcher thru trade at this point? it’s a long offseason though.. i guess there’s no need to have that discussion by end of week : ).. i don’t know a lot about the guys you mentioned.. i’ve heard a lot of good things about john ryan murphy, just don’t recall what they were.. lol.. i think it would be difficult to steal a quality catcher from the red sox.. i could definitely see NH pulling one on the yanks though

        • There’s been at least some conversation about trades. I brought up Rene Rivera a couple of times. Others have mentioned Avila and Castillo.

          About all I know regarding Murphy is he seems very high maintenance about using John Ryan, not John, not JR. Oh, and that he’s basically a placeholder for Gary Sanchez.

          • Thanks bucs.. there’s been a few names mentioned. . The Dodgers catcher was mentioned as well.. I haven’t seen a lot of discussion though.. I kinda think people have someone they like and know about.. but don’t really know a lot about others.. I don’t know much about rivera other than he looked good for a short stint.. It’s difficult to get info about his defense though to know if I should prefer him more then I currently like conger..

        • derekbellstutu
          October 21, 2014 6:49 pm

          Acquiring Murphy, Swihart, or Conger may be pricey in terms of prospects. Also, what does it tell Tony Sanchez and Elias Diaz if the Bucs trade for one of these catchers? Having said that, it shouldn’t stop Neal Huntington from picking up a replacement for Russell Martin.

      • I would throw in Phegley (Age 26) / Flowers (Age 28) / Nieto (Age 24) from the White Sox as possibilities as well. Nieto is a switch hitter but his splits favor batting right handed. Phegley / Flowers are both righties.

  • thewalkingtoolshed
    October 21, 2014 10:21 am

    I would be very curious to know the win-loss record with Stewart starting and Martin starting last year? I think this would be the defining factor of whether you can reasonably expect Stewart to be our starter next year. This is just a guess but I would assume Stewart’s win loss record was near .500 or even below, with as good of a team as we have, that is unacceptable. I don’t think Stewart can be our main guy next year unless we are booting the season and hoping to make a miraculous run for the last wild card spot.

    • Stewart got many if not most of his starts when Martin was hurt early in the season, at the same time that the rest of the Pirates stunk. This probably skewed the W/L statistics against Stewart somewhat, not that Martin wasn’t significantly better than Stewart.

      • we stunk because martin was hurt. we would have been average with him. i think thats the point.

  • It’ll be interesting to see how the research matures regarding pitch framing.

    It seems highly improbable that an elite defense catcher such as Russell Martin cannot contribute as much value in all other aspects of defense combined as he can by catching strikes.

    • the less Stewart plays the better. Catcher may be a defense first position but I think his defense and offense will get exposed if he catches a lot. That is one reason why the Yankees were ready to deal him. They were not happy with his overall performance in 2013. Can’t expect him to hit much more than 200 with 2 or 3 homers if he gets over 300 at bats. That is just too big of a hole in the line up.

      • Hmm. I was thinking his defense would be enhanced playing everyday. . Maybe I was wrong about that

      • I’d say the reason the yankees let him go is the offense. I don’t think their fans would stand for anyone hitting .200 and playing every day. That might explain why they let Martin go too. He hit .211 his last year there.

        • you are probably right about it being mostly offense career ops of 595 is not good and that is probably what the Bucs could expect from him in 2015. Any more would be gravy and any worse chickenpoop. So he is a big gamble in my opinion. He will be 33 in February. He is fine as back up but not even a Duffy Dyer if he needs to play more.

    • You know what I’d love to see… an analysis of how different pitcher/catcher combinations do on all the different defensive metrics. I’ve got nothing to back this up, but I wonder how much a steady diet of catching Morton, Liriano, et.al. have to do with Bucs numbers vs other teams. Martin tied with Molina and Avila in fewest PBs, but also saw the 4th highest # of WPs among the 18 catchers who qualified – despite having played fewer games. Which suggests this is a fairly difficult staff to catch.

      • I think this would be interesting for pitch framing as well.. i just wonder if martins pitch framing matrix is better for worley ( who has command) vs a guy who’s command is shaky.. I’m not attempting to discredit Martin’s impact.. just think if there’s a focus on catchers framing,more weight should be placed on pitch command

        • Your intuition is correct, rick. Defensive value is cumulative. The more opportunities, the more chances to add value. A guy like Worley who is consistently around the edges of the plate will give a catcher more opportunities to steal strikes.

          I also think bucs idea is neat. Almost a Degree of Difficulty metric of sorts. And yeah, combining the velocity, movement, and general wildness of the Pirates 2014 staff would lead one to believe Martin had no easy task.

          • The reason I don’t think we’ll see that kind of granularity is due to SSS on the pairings. OTOH, it shouldn’t be all that difficult to start compiling a stat for just the pitchers. Who are the leaders in burying 59′ sliders or throwing more than a foot outside the plate. Maybe even who hits the glove target the most.

            • All really good thoughts, bucs.

              The guys at FanGraphs will talk about informal metrics such as Edge%, quality balls, and wasted balls, and I think that’s what you’re talking about.

              Sure, a ball is a ball. But a ball within six inches of the zone is a lot more likely to be frame-able while a ball outside that zone is a lot more likely to be difficult to receive. Seems like at least the general framework is there for something to study.

      • This might be what you are looking for, with regards to framing.

        http://www.baseballprospectus.com/sortable/index.php?cid=1730753

        Also the WOWY, with or without you, analysis is the foundation behind most catcher numbers.

        • Thanks for that – didn’t realize BA had the pairings. Of course each year is its own vacuum, but I’m sure I’ll be wasting some time comparing seasons.

          Interesting to note that Stewart does better than Martin in catching Cole though. Can’t figure out why that would be the case.

          And that chart really underscores just how bad Saltalamacchia is behind the plate. Wow.

          • My recollection (could be wrong) is that Stewart does a better job of holding a fixed target with the glove. Cole may need that. If Martin has any defensive weakness it’s that he’ll let his glovehand get lazy and drop it away from where he initially gives a target. The pitcher has to remember where to throw the ball.

      • Martin’s only weakness defensively is over confidence. He plays a lot of balls off to the side, backhands etc. I saw him do that more this year than i’ve ever seen from another starting catcher. He catches a lot of them, but he misses a bunch that could have easily been blocked. I don’t think it’s laziness, but its just overconfidence, he thinks that catchers mitt is a first baseman’s mitt sometimes, and he pays for it. He could correct it anytime he wanted to

  • I like the idea of stewart catching 120.. it would be interesting to know what our pitchers thought of his game management. . Though I suppose they’d be comparing it to Martin’s.. i’d like to see sanchez get a shot as well if he’s over the yips.. not that I think he’d be great, just seems he caught so many bad breaks and worked so hard to get past them.. maybe if he’s told it’s his position and we believe in him (similar to jordy) then he’d settle down and reach his full potential. .

    • Stewart will hit. 185 with an OPS of .582 over 120 game season. He can’t hit righties at all, and his average was higher this year due to playing a lot vs. lefties. Do you want that in your lineup? No, no amount of value defensively makes up for that, i don’t care what you say.. It would be like replacing Jimmy Rollins with Clint Barmes, and thats best case scenario

  • How can you write about the Pirates best catching option in 2014, with no mention of Tony Sanchez in the entire article? Sure, we should keep Stewart. Let him compete with Sanchez for the starting role. When that’s settled, then they could let Stewart compete for the job of restocking sunflower seeds in the dugout, and mixing the Gatorade. My money will be on the batboy.

  • Lee Foo Young
    October 21, 2014 8:28 am

    Tim…I am not sure the Pirates will be willing to go FOUR years for Russell. jmo.

    • The Pirates would be willing to go four years for Russell, just at a discount on the last 1-2 years. If a team is willing to give $15 million a year over 4 to 5 years, the only way that kind of money makes sense is if Russell is a full time catcher over those years. His bat doesn’t play at $15 million a year as a corner infielder.

      The Pirates don’t want a 4-5 year deal on a full time catcher – they just drafted McGuire last year and Connor Joe this year with 1st round picks. They also have Diaz who should be ready by mid next year to jump to the majors.

  • Lee Foo Young
    October 21, 2014 8:23 am

    So……….who is Stewart’s backup catcher? Tony?

    • I say go into Spring training with the position open. Best man in the Spring wins it.

  • Stewart is for sure the best bad idea available, in other words if all your options are bad then take the best bad option and cross your fingers.

  • Regarding Cardinals’ attendance, I threw something together to show the disparity between what the Cards get in gate revenue vs the rest of the NL Central and MLB.

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v215/aldothewonderdog/MLBPayrollampTicketAnalysis_zpsafaab7b7.jpg

    For everyone who complains how cheap Nutting is, please note that the Bucs are right in the middle of the pack in terms of payroll vs gate revenue. The Cards, OTOH, are sitting on a veritable mountain of cash that they’re not spending. Their gate revenues alone exceed their payroll – one of only three teams that can say that. And that’s despite the fact that their ticket prices are well above what their market should bear (while Nutting should’ve raised the Pirates prices by another $5).

    Btw, another team sitting on even more cash than the Cards is the Cubs. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least to see them add $40-$45 million in payroll this offseason.

    • Now that’s a stat that makes sense. It’s my thought that bucs fans are going to be in for a case of sticker shock in 2015. Them’s the breaks though, sucess not only breeds sucess but it also breeds higher prices. I and I’m sure many others don’t like this philosophy, that however does not make it any less true.

      • There is a price increase already scheduled and it’s only 9%, which brings the average ticket to $19.99 – still the lowest price in the NLC and 4th lowest in NL.

        In the short term, as the current TV deal runs through 2019, about the only way Bucs can increase revenue is to draw more fans in the early part of the season. So we all better root for global warming in 2015!

    • You rock. Thanks

    • That is a seriously awesome chart. If all the “Nutting is cheap” folks want to pay $30 a ticket and still show up to the tune of 2.5 million per year, then we’ll be on to something.

    • It is almost like 20 years of losing has lasting effects.

  • You’re not going to replace Russell Martin with another catcher and get the same production. But sure, Stewart could be the guy IF the Pirates can field an infield that’s 5 WAR better than this year’s and also improve the starting staff and bullpen. Hell, if you get a significantly better team at the other 8 positions, you could bring back Doumit.

    • Monsoon Harvard
      October 21, 2014 5:00 pm

      Doumit consistently ranked as one the worst pitch framers in all of baseball. There is zero chance Doumit ever catches again for the Pirates.

      • Where’s that “slapping your head” emoticon when you need it?

        Doumit was used here as an illustration. I could’ve easily said Barajas or McKenry or Buck or any other stiff. The point being that if the rest of your team is amazing, you can have a stiff catch and still win. And the reason I keep making that point is that this shouldn’t be a conversation about how to replace Martin alone. It needs to be a conversation on how to improve the entire team to replace whatever WAR/DRS/metric of your choice the Pirates will lose should Martin walk. It’s not going to happen from the catcher’s slot.

        • This is where I disagree…
          …you cannot play a stiff at C all season and still win at the same rate. C is too important a position – impacting pitching, defense & offense. It’s the one position where regression/WAR is felt every day and can’t be hidden.

          • Last year the RedSox won with Saltalamacchia behind the plate, who is probably the worst defensive starting catcher in MLB right now. He can hit a little. Not a huge difference between Salty and McKenry if you ask me. In fact last year, McKenry actually had a +4 DRS vs Salty’s -8, while being the better hitter as well.

  • Chris Stewart is above average defensively. He threw out runners at an above league average pace last year, and is a very good pitch framer. When Russell Martin walks and signs elsewhere, I’d like to see Stewart catch 75-80 games, while the other 80 or so games are caught by someone not currently in the organization. Time for the BMTIB to put up or shut up and address holes in the rotation, at catching, in the bullpen, and on the bench this offseason.

    • Lee Foo Young
      October 21, 2014 8:23 am

      oh Marty….you HAD to go and throw that BMTIB acronym in there. 🙂 🙂 🙂

      So are you saying they need to be AGGRESSIVE this off season? 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      • They’ll QO him simply because they know there is zero chance he’ll accept it. If there was a chance he would accept it, they would not offer it. IMO.

    • I thought they did well addressing holes in rotation with Volquez & worley last year.. no?

      • Can’t expect to keep taking reclamation projects and turning them to gold somehow. Even though I did like the Worley pick up when it happened and felt he was going to be good for the Pirates, just not that good. However, they still did not have enough pitching last year. Right now the rotation is a mess. Cole, Worley, and nothing until Charlie is back in May or June. Kingham is blocked by Super 2 and, sadly, has zero chance of being in the rotation before June even if he is one of the 5 best. Who knows when JT will be ready. They need to add at least two quality starters this offseason. You can never have too much starting pitching, and guys like Locke and Cumpton can’t be trusted.

        • Actually. That is my expectation.. I think Volquez gets extended.. cole/Volquez/locke/worley/charlie/reclamation. . Minor league depth… to me they’ve proven it’s not a fluke.. now on top of that the burgh will be a primary destination for these guys.. so bmtib will have first choice

          • 4.15 FIP, 4.20 xFIP, .263 BABIP, career low strike out rate, walk rate that spiked in the second half, you want to extend that guy? I don’t. Not every reclamation project works (Jon Sanchez, Ernesto Frieri, etc.) it’d be nice to see the BMTIB show the drive to go all in to try and win it all and bring in some proven, quality pitchers. Doubt they will though, NH even said he will not pay the going rate for players. Tough to build a World Series team that way.

            • Sure ya can’t fit another cliche in there, marty?

            • I definitely would.. but I also think the fip matrix is too simplistic.. it seems i also have a different understanding of the free agent market then you do so there’s really no reason to expand on the your comment about the drive of our management team

              • Actually I do understand how free agency works. I just don’t like or trust the BMTIB. But if you want to keep talking down on people because it makes you feel good abut yourself or something, go ahead.

                • Lol.. sorry if I cane across as talking down.. wasn’t my intention. . The free agency discussion is had many times on this sight and rarely does anyone change their belief.. I’m just saying I’m definitely not knowledgeable enough to change your view and too hard headed to ever change mine.. lol..

                  • I have been a fan since 86 and people who refuse to trust management are just people who want them to spend more money. If you want a team that spends money, you know where to find the large market teams, you are in the wrong place. It’s not like any owner or GM has ever spent money in Pittsburgh, so its a moderately idiotic conversation. They have proven that they are a conservative group, who uses very sound accounting practices, will not operate at a loss, and focuses on attempting to grow their own talent. If you don’t like it, that’s fine….but its not a matter of trust. That’s what they tell you they are going to do, and that’ what they do. If you don’t like their philosophy sobeit, but i’m not sure where the trust part comes in

            • blah blah blah blah…….

        • Traditionally- most teams can’t trust their 4 and definitely their 5th pitcher, but you can easily pencil one of them in as the 5th pitcher and be better off than 24 other teams in that area. Morton will be fine and likely only miss a month. a month of cumpton or locke won’t hurt us at all over the long run. So what we need is a little more depth, and a middle of the rotation starter. you need a #3 and a reclamation project. Our beginning of the year rotation is never the same as it is in June, and so you just have to go with it.

    • and value he brings defensively, he will be giving back from being a negative WAR offensive player

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