Last night I mentioned that the Pittsburgh Pirates had previously expressed interest in Francisco Cervelli multiple times. They finally acquired him from the Yankees yesterday for Justin Wilson. Joel Sherman reports that this isn’t the first time a Wilson/Cervelli deal was proposed.

I’m guessing that by “two years ago”, he means for the 2012 season, since that’s when the rumors started with Cervelli. The Pirates might have been better off making that deal, rather than signing Rod Barajas. Wilson was still a starting prospect at the time, but made the switch to the bullpen at the end of the year and got a September call-up in Pittsburgh. It appears both teams still maintained interest in each player, and the circumstances changed to the point where the Pirates were willing to give up Wilson to get Cervelli.

**Speaking of Joel Sherman, he had an article today on Ike Davis, saying he is the odd man out in Pittsburgh. In the article, he quotes Neal Huntington who says that the first base job, as it sits now, will belong to Pedro Alvarez. Davis has been learning the outfield, but would be very expensive at $4.4 M for his role, which would be number five on the outfield depth charts, and number two on the left-handed first base depth chart. Sherman indicates that the team could non-tender Davis by the December 2nd deadline. I would be surprised if this happens.

For one, Davis still has enough value that they could get something for him in a trade. They might have to tender him an offer and commit to that $4.4 M salary to get that return, much like the New York Mets did last year. That brings me to my second point. If Russell Martin signs elsewhere, the Pirates will have plenty of money to spend. Even if they spend a lot on pitching, they could still afford to hold onto Davis. It would be expensive, but it would give them depth, specifically if Josh Harrison struggles or gets injured. That would allow them to shift Pedro Alvarez back to third base and play Davis at first. I think the best move would be trading Davis, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they have to tender him a contract before that happens.

**The Philadelphia Phillies signed several minor league free agents today. One of those free agents was Chase d’Arnaud, who was recently outrighted off the 40-man roster by the Pittsburgh Pirates. D’Arnaud was a 4th round draft pick in the 2008 draft, which was the first draft under Neal Huntington.

On a personal note, back in 2009 I started this site to track the Lynchburg Hillcats, which at the time was about the only team in the system that had actual prospects. Towards the end of the season, I had this idea that the small blog I was running might have a chance to be something bigger, and maybe a full-time job. So I took all of the money the site earned for the first eight months of existence ($50, and that came from posting daily for eight months), bought a digital media recorder, and intended to interview some players to get something more than just nightly box scores. The first person I interviewed was Chase d’Arnaud.

I talked to Chase about this last month when I was in Pittsburgh, and we joked about the interview. He didn’t realize that was the first time I interviewed someone (at the time I was a business major with no journalism background), and said that explained the sheet of written down questions I brought, not to mention how nervous I was during the interview. That interview can be read here.

I don’t know how the site would have done without that interview. I talked with a lot of other players over the next few weeks, and I feel like it helped to say “I also interviewed Chase d’Arnaud.” And those interviews might have also helped me get credentials to cover the Hillcats in their championship run that year, which in-turn helped me to get credentials with other teams the following year, then eventually every team in the Pirates’ system, followed by the Pirates themselves (which, incidentally came on the night of d’Arnaud’s MLB debut, for the purposes of covering that debut).

Back when I started this site, I was a Pirates fan who wanted to write my thoughts on the team, the farm system, and provide resources to follow the big league club. After doing this for a living for a few years, I don’t consider myself a fan of any team anymore. I like the Pirates in the same way I like the Rays, the Athletics, and other small market teams. Now I primarily root for individuals, especially the guys I’ve covered along the way. In d’Arnaud’s case, I’ll be pulling for him to have success elsewhere because he’s a good guy, but also because of the role he played in helping this site go from a small blog to where it is now. I wish him the best of luck, and hope he’s able to make the majors in Philadelphia.

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22 COMMENTS

  1. Interesting to hear of your emotional evolution from fan to professional blogger Tim. I imagine that the ball players go through the same transition in their 20’s and that partially explains why there is no hesitation by any player to leave any team for more money. Do we have to be concerned that the lure of more site visits will lure you away from covering the Pirates to covering one of the big market teams?

  2. So Tim the 64k question..at what point did you stopped been a “pirates fan” and just started “primarily root for individuals” what turned you off

    • The rooting for individuals part comes naturally just by following players from day one.

      I don’t know when I stopped being a fan. I just know that I don’t really react at all anymore to wins or losses. There was no specific moment or reason. Just a lot of things from the job and other factors that turned it more into a job than a hobby and form of entertainment (although it’s always going to be a job I enjoy).

  3. It’s hard to imagine that any team would give up anything other than filler for Ike, but no need to give him away. If he’ll sign a deal below what he’d get in arbitration, he’s worth another look to see if he can hit again. He at least did hit at one time.

  4. A couple of “Too Small a Sample” tidbits about Cervelli:
    Played 1B for NYY 40 Innings (No errors)
    In 212 ABs, Cervelli has a .781 OPS vs. Lefties

  5. I am sorry to see d’Arnaud go – he was a Pirates prospect and a player I saw play in person several times. I always thought he had a lot of athletic ability and potential and would one day be the Pirates starting SS or 2B.

    He was part of that core group, that won championships in Lynchburg and in Altoona – d’Arnaud, Alex Presley, Mercer, Justin Wilson, Morris, Rudy Owens, Harrison, Hague, Locke, and later Lambo.

    I hope he gets a fair shot in Philly and he does well there.

  6. Nice article Tim, I’m glad that you took a chance and started this up. I always like to hear about the “good” guys, I feel that they always get lost in the shuffle.

  7. Sorry Tim-I just don’t see any value in Ike – it was a bad trade and I really got tired of watching him whine about strike calls and go up to the plate trying to get a walk – not what a corner infielder is supposed to do IMHO. Bet they could outright him to Indy and there would be not takers if they were silly enough to tender him.

    • That’s actually an interesting idea. Pull a Tabata with him.

      I don’t dislike him as much as you (I’m fine with a 1b that focuses more on OBP than SLG [the buccos have enough power elsewhere], and for whatever reason, i believe we haven’t seen his best), but maybe that’s a worthwhile experiment. Last time he spent some time in AAA, he came up to the Mets just tearing the cover off the ball.

      • Davis will most certainly find work, and I’d even go as far as saying he could be a fine buy-low candidate along the lines of 2013 James Loney. But if Loney was any indicator, I have a hard time believing there’s a team out there not only willing to pay Davis over $4m to be a part time player, but also give up something of value in a trade. If the Pirates tender him, they better be willing to put him on their 25-man to start the season…as did the Mets.

        It’s not so much that Davis focuses on OBP over SLG, it’s the manner in which he does it. There’s no balance at all to his game. He’s a poor runner with a low average that hits at the bottom of the order for an NL team and provides the majority of his offensive “value” through walks.

          • Agreed there. Marlins and Mariners were the only two clubs that seem to have an obvious need, IMO.

            I think best case scenario would be if Huntington could get something like the Marlins Competitive Balance pick for Davis + enough money to make the move cost-neutral.

        • Im still not sure why so many are happy to keep Alvarez and cut Davis. The real value would be in TRADING Alvarez and keeping Davis if you are wanting strictly a 1B here…. better yet, Get rid of both of them via trade and bring up Lambo… MORE money for pitching.

          • Assuming the team gets rid of one of the Davis/Alvarez pair already, getting rid of both in favor of Andrew Lambo only clears – at most – an additional $5m.

            You’re not getting more value out of an additional $5m worth of free agent pitching than you’re giving up by decimating your depth at 1B and counting on an outfielder with a completely unproven big league track record manning the position.

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