First Pitch: Did the Pirates Make a Mistake Trading Snider, Or Are They Selling High?

I found myself going back and forth between two thoughts when thinking about the Travis Snider trade this evening.

The first thought involved thinking about the possibility that Snider could be the next Brandon Moss. The Pirates got Moss in the Jason Bay deal, hoping that his power potential would translate over to the majors. It never did, although he did have a huge season with Indianapolis in 2010, with an .800 OPS and 22 homers before moving on. He eventually broke out with Oakland, and had an .813 OPS as a starter over the last two years. Snider was once one of the top prospects in the game, and had what looked like a breakout season in the second half last year. It’s very risky to deal him after that season, especially if that was the first indication that he could be a starter.

The other thought went to a long-held belief about how small market teams should be run. I believe that small market teams shouldn’t get attached to their players. Eventually, every player will move on, and ideally you want someone ready to step in when that player is ready to depart. The goal should be to have a replacement ready early, allowing you to trade a player, re-stock the farm system, and replace him with an equal part in the majors. That continued process would lead to the elimination of any “windows” to compete.

Each thought brings up many questions. Are the Pirates selling high on Snider or are they selling low? Will their current internal replacements be just as good? Did they get fair value for Snider? Is there another shoe about to drop? Who will grill the ridiculously thick cut steaks at the team get-togethers now that Snider is gone?

I can’t say that I have an answer for any of these questions. There are some questions that can’t be answered at all right now, and won’t have answers until we learn who the PTBNL is, what Snider does going forward, and how his replacements fare. If you came here looking for a final judgement of this deal, with a determination that this was a win, a loss, a good deal, or a bad deal, then that’s not what this article is about. It’s going to be nuanced, and it’s going to work through the fact that we still don’t know a lot about this deal. Fortunately, I’ve broken it up into small sections, which should make it more organized.

What is Travis Snider’s Trade Value?

Earlier this evening, before the deal was made, I looked at Snider’s trade value. That was going to be the original article tonight if the deal wasn’t complete. What I learned is that the trade value varies greatly, depending on how you view Snider.

If you use Snider’s 1.7 WAR from the 2014 season, then you get a value that would warrant a top 100 prospect. I used a 1.7 WAR, and a $4.5 M salary through arbitration in 2016 (which I’m assuming he’d get with back-to-back 1.7 WAR seasons), and got a trade surplus value of $13.8 M.

Using this value says that Snider will absolutely repeat his 2014 season, and I don’t think anyone can say that.

The other approach is to use an average of the last three seasons, which gives Snider about an 0.5 WAR. This would basically make him a non-tender candidate next year, and give him about $1 M in trade value this year.

Just like the opposite extreme, I don’t think you can take this route, because it says that Snider won’t come close to his 2014 season.

So let’s meet in the middle and call Snider a 1.0 WAR player going forward. I figure he would make about $3-3.5 M next year through arbitration with that production, and would have an overall trade value of around $6.5-7 M. I think this approach is the fairest way to determine his value.

So what did the Pirates get? On to the next section.

Stephen Tarpley and the PTBNL

Prior to the trade being completed, the biggest name attached to the deal was left-hander Steve Brault. Then, a few more possible names came out, including Stephen Tarpley. I was talking with John Dreker about the new names, and mentioned how I liked Tarpley much better than Brault. My familiarity with both guys is limited to what I read tonight, but Tarpley just seems to have much more upside, while Brault seems like one of those lefties who can dominate in A-ball, then will struggle in the upper levels and might make it as a reliever. Tarpley has some upside, with velocity that can hit the mid-90s, and the possibility to be more than a back of the rotation starter or a reliever.

But right now, Tarpley is a Grade C prospect. According to Bill Brink, who talked with Neal Huntington, the player to be named later is “similar” to Tarpley. So we can assume that’s another Grade C prospect.

I’ll get to the PTBNL in a second, but as for the value, I’d say the Pirates got at least $5 M in value. That seems a bit low for the mid-point view of Snider, but it’s also close to fair value. It’s definitely not a salary dump with zero return.

A lot of that value could depend on the PTBNL. No, this isn’t an Aramis Ramirez/Bobby Hill situation. But this is a situation where the usage of a PTBNL makes me think this is a 2014 draft pick, and there could be some interesting options there.

There is really no reason to make a trade this time of year and have a PTBNL. If you don’t know who you want, you could just wait and decide on a name. I guess it is possible that the Pirates might want to scout a few guys in Spring Training to make a final decision. However, a PTBNL at this time in the year makes the most sense if it’s a 2014 draft pick. Those picks can’t be traded until one year after their signing date. A team doesn’t have to officially name a PTBNL until six months after the deal. So any player from the Orioles’ 2014 draft is in play.

Going with an assumption that this is a 2014 pick, and taking a very literal meaning of “similar to Tarpley” (as in, only looking at lower level left-handed pitchers), there were two guys who caught my attention. The first is Tanner Scott, who the Orioles took in the sixth round, and who reportedly hit 100 MPH this year. John Sickels says he has a high ceiling. The other guy who drew my attention was Brian Gonzalez, another lefty taken in the third round. He only throws 88-91 MPH, but has a huge frame, and could add some velocity going forward. Sickels says he could end up the best of the bunch, behind Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey.

Sickels also said that Tarpley was a “Sleeper Alert choice,” and if the Pirates can get two lower level pitchers like that, then it might not be a bad trade return, and could potentially have a lot of upside.

A potential problem here is that the Pirates need Snider’s production in the majors a lot more than they need two additional projectable pitchers in the lower levels. Unless they can find a replacement.

Who Replaces Travis Snider?

The reality of the Pirates’ situation is that Travis Snider is a bench player and a Plan B at all three outfield positions. That’s not a bad thing. Gregory Polanco is unproven, and Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen have missed time with injuries before due to their all-out play. Having Snider on the bench is one of the things that made the Pirates look like they had a ton of depth, and a really strong bench. So how do they replace him?

The current internal options would be Andrew Lambo and Jaff Decker from the 40-man roster, and Jose Tabata, Keon Broxton, Mel Rojas, and Gorkys Hernandez from the non-roster invitees. I think the last three can be ruled out for now, just because I don’t see them jumping past the first three.

For as much of a negative reaction that he gets, Tabata hasn’t been horrible as a bench player. He has a career .715 OPS, and is a year removed from a 1.1 WAR. He could very well be a good bench player, but might not have the same upside as Snider to be a potential replacement starter.

That’s why I’d turn to Lambo or Decker. Both guys have similar profiles. They were once top prospects, and were seen as guys who could eventually hit for power. Lambo is 26 and Decker turns 25 next month. Decker’s power is still in that projection area, and he’s getting to the point where you question if he will hit for power in the future. Meanwhile, Lambo has shown his power off the last two years in the minors, but hasn’t had a chance to establish himself in the majors. With Snider gone, he could finally have that chance, especially since first base seems out of the question with Pedro Alvarez and Corey Hart at the position.

I’ve been calling for the Pirates to give Lambo a chance for the last two years, so I don’t think it’s a bad thing if that’s the way they are going. There is some risk here, as his power is unproven in the majors. Then again, you could have said that about Snider not too long ago. It was only last year at this time that you could have cut Snider and not many would have blinked an eye. Then he had a breakout season at the age of 26, which is Lambo’s age in 2015.

I’d include Corey Hart in this discussion, but his performance in the outfield largely depends on how well his knees can hold up.

If the Pirates replace Snider with Lambo, then the hope would be that Lambo takes advantage of this chance, has a breakout season off the bench in 2015, and gives you the same production that you would have hoped for out of Snider.

How Will the Trade Turn Out?

The Best Case Scenario – Under the small market approach that I outlined above, you’d want someone like Lambo to replace Snider and match his production, while getting two high-upside guys in the lower levels to continue to strengthen your system. If Lambo hits well, and if one or both of the pitchers ends up breaking out, then it really doesn’t matter to the Pirates what Snider does. Lambo hitting in the majors and the pitchers breaking out would make the Pirates look very smart here.

The Worst Case Scenario – The big fear here is that Snider does continue his breakout season, and shows that he could be a starter, much like Moss. That would really hurt if Lambo doesn’t work out and the Pirates can’t replace Snider. In this scenario, the pitchers would only be a consolation prize, as the Pirates would have needed Snider’s bat more than two lower-level pitchers. And if they don’t work out at all, then it could make the Pirates look foolish.

As I said above, there are a lot of things we don’t know about this deal, which could impact how it goes down. The biggest things are how Snider follows up on his 2014 season, whether Lambo (or whoever else) can successfully replace him, and whether the pitchers can improve their value going forward (and the identity of the PTBNL will play a role in how this trade is evaluated).

You’d like to think that this is a classic buy low/sell high trade, where the Pirates are selling high on Snider and buying low on some high-upside arms. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough information right now to tell if that’s the case, or if the opposite is the case. This is a situation where the Pirates have earned some trust to make this type of move, and take this type of risk. But I don’t think they’ve earned enough trust on this side of the ball — unlike the reclamation pitchers — to assume there is a great chance of this approach being a success.

**Travis Snider Traded to Orioles For Stephen Tarpley and a PTBNL

**Stephen Tarpley Player Page

**Pittsburgh Pirates 2015 Top Prospects: #9 – Cole TuckerThe top ten countdown resumes tomorrow. The entire top 50 is exclusive to the 2015 Prospect Guide, along with 200+ reports on every prospect in the system.

**Pirates Will Have Five Spring Training Games Broadcast on ROOT Sports

  • Tim (or anyone) – Where do you think Tarpley rates amongst the top 20 (I hope) in our system? I’m guessing he’ll be in the 14-18 range as there are similarities to Cody Dickson but with better control.

  • Getting a decent prospect for Snider is OK. But Neil saying it gives them ‘payroll flexibility’ is fatuous. If your payroll gains flexibility by jettisoning $2 million dollars, you aren’t flexible. Travis Snider finally had a decent season, it’s absolutely selling high.

    Whether they got enough remains to be seen.

    • It might be ” fatuous ” to you, but if they is close to budget limitations and they are considering other moves, than you would be wrong…..again. Of course, you are the expert Beavis. And any other synonym would have made more sense in this context.

      • So you had some drivel in response? You find $2 million dollars to be significant? Good for you.

  • Tim makes great points about needing to see what we have in Lambo , and even at his worst , Tabata offers the depth and flexibility to run the Lambo experiment. Another thought I had is mayhaps they feel strongly enough about their new toy from Korea that Josh Harrison still counts as a RF option , if needed.

  • risefromtheashes89
    January 28, 2015 1:29 pm

    I believe it was NMR below who said it is good to see people complaining about the trade of a backup outfielder as it show where the Pirates came from and where they are going. I always said I wanted to Pirates to turn into the Cardinals. They trade MLB pieces to improve the club and not the prospects necessarily. The last few trades with MLB roster players that the Pirates have made are what the Cards do routinely. When you can build up your minors and have multiple pieces to choose to move up or move out, it makes it easier to make a deal to improve the whole team from the Majors all the way down and keep the success going.

  • I don’t think this trade is measured in trading high or trading low, I believe it is a trade between two teams that have needs to satisfy. The Pirates have few quality left handed pitching prospects in their system, they have one now and are getting another prospect to sweeten the deal. The O’s need outfield help, they just got it from the Pirates, a win win for both teams at this point.

    • risefromtheashes89
      January 28, 2015 1:04 pm

      Finally a voice of reason here.

    • Well said.

      The Snider trade actually reminds me a bit of the Pirates-Red Sox Mike Carp trade that never happened last year.

      Pirates had a need for Carp, Carp was coming off a big year, but limited sample without much history of success and didn’t really warrant much value-wise. Red Sox decided keeping him was better than acquiring talent, and he was DFA’d by July.

  • Monsoon Harvard
    January 28, 2015 12:14 pm

    I hate the trade. Maybe if they are about to pick up someone for some of their excess pitching, like say Colorado OF Charlie Blackmon for Jeff Locke and Brandon Cumpton, then that would make sense. Otherwise it is not a good deal.

    • risefromtheashes89
      January 28, 2015 1:03 pm

      They are not going to trade for an everyday OF right now. No room for one. Even if they did, Colorado nor anyone else will take Locke and/or Cumpton for a everyday OF hitting .300 and hitting 20HR.

  • I still like the idea of getting Walker reps at 1B this spring. Kang can play some 3B and Harrison or Hart can play RF. This could be an option vs lefties 3-4 times a month. Walker playing some 1B makes the lineup that much more versatile. I’d like to see a way to load the lineup with all righties against tough lefties.

  • I think this is a sell high move. They are completely sold on Polanco(as am I) and I think they must feel Lambo can produce very similar to Snider. Another thing people are forgetting about Snider is other than the 2nd half last year, not only has he been unproductive but has constantly gotten injured.

  • I like the comparison to Brandon Moss and that is my fear. I have long believed that Snider would be a late bloomer after injuries stunted his growth. Even in 2013 he strung together some solid games in April and May before the injury bug struck again. I do not have much confidence in Lambo and without a proven player ready to step in if something were to happen, this could be catastrophic.

    This is a huge risk. It is always nice to keep the system stocked, but not at the risk of hurting a contending team. If Polanco goes on a tear, everyone stays healthy and Lambo packs his bat from Indy, this could be a great deal. If Snider goes on to become Moss and Polanco falters, someone gets hurt and/or Lambo shows he’s nothing more than a AAAA player, then this deal will be questioned for years.

    • Snider may well be a late bloomer, but his fair-to-middling performance did more to keep him off the field than injuries. He’s been in the majors since 2008.

      • risefromtheashes89
        January 28, 2015 12:18 pm

        His fair to middling performance had a lot to do with his injuries and him playing through. Again, the fact that he has not been able to stay healthy and maintain production when banged up are the reasons why Huntington was willing to make this deal. Good player but not great and willing to take the chance that at 27 he could become great for a year or two. Bucs have not much in the way of LHP in the minors. If the PTBNL is one of the LHP just drafted, this could be a very good deal

    • risefromtheashes89
      January 28, 2015 12:03 pm

      I think your 2nd & 3rd sentences explains why the trade was made now. The way he plays lends itself to the injuries he gets. Moss has been hitting home runs but crappy average. Pedro has done the same or better than Moss and is considered a bust by fans here. Crazy. I think Huntington liked what he got in return and took the leap. He as been right more than not in his trades. You could say much the same for Lambo as how you described Snider. Lambo was hurt last year as well early plus trying to learn 1st base. Hit again when healthy and returned to the OF.

    • ” Catastrophic ” ????? Are you serious ? We are talking Travis Snider here, not Andrew McCutchen for God’s sakes. He was a freaking back up outfielder.

      • Yes. A backup outfielder who will be a starter in Baltimore and would have been a starter if Marte, McCutchen or Polanco miss extended time to injury. So yes, I am “freaking” serious that if one of them goes down or Polanco plays like he did after the break, then we have a huge hole in the lineup. For a contending team, I would absolutely consider that situation to be a potential catastrophe. But, for “God’s sake” we still have Andrew McCutchen. I suppose he can play right field too if Polanco struggles.

  • I don’t like this trade for three reasons:
    1). It didn’t have to be made. This wasn’t a trade deadline type deal. depending on the PTbNL, we could have gotten this return in May.
    2). It weakens the 2015 team. I don’t know how this is debatable. Snider is a perfect reserve OF that can ph with some pop and can play well enough if called upon.
    3). I hate trading MLB players for low prospects unless they are elite or their is a rebuild going on. This smacks of the Womack, Torres, Laroche, or even Bautista trades.
    I’m not saying that Snider is great, but he is a average player that belongs in the majors. He has power and is left handed.
    I’ve got faith in the management, but I hate the timing of this one.

    • 1). It didn’t have to be made. This wasn’t a trade deadline type deal. depending on the PTbNL, we could have gotten this return in May.

      ____________________________________________
      I gotta disagree.

      If Snider came outta spring training tearing it up, the Pirates would reasonably demand more than a couple Grade C prospects. The O’s might have paid more to acquire him then or maybe they woulda looked elsewhere– assuming they hadn’t resolved their OF issues in some other manner prior and were still in the market for Snider.

      If Snider came outta spring training struggling or being unimpressive, the O’s might not have been interested in him at all anymore, and very likely wouldn’t be willing to part with anything even if they still were.

      Essentially, these are bets being made with timing. Baltimore is betting they’re getting a decent or better player and by buying now, they’re only having to pay wholesale prices because of Snider’s track record of not-so-greatness.

      • I don’t disagree with timing, but I feel like the return we got wasn’t great. Snider’s LH power always has a market, whether it’s with the Orioles or anyone in MLB.
        If he does start out slow or gets hurt or becomes unreadable, all we are losing is a short season lottery ticket.
        I hate that we are trading a useful in 2015 MLB player for a lottery pick without $$ being an issue.
        I just don’t see the NEED to trade him at this point.

        • risefromtheashes89
          January 28, 2015 12:20 pm

          You are assuming Snider comes out of the box exactly like how he ended 2014. O’s would have signed someone else or traded for someone else. If the PTBNL is one of the LHP drafted early last year, then this deal could be a really good one for the Pirates.

    • risefromtheashes89
      January 28, 2015 11:02 am

      1) It may or may not have had to be made now. Depending on who was interested in Snider, this might have been the best deal Huntington received. Fan Graphs listss Tarpley as the #9 prospect for the O’s. Depends on the PTBNL.

      2) You are assuming that Snider repeats the end of 2014 for all of 2015. He has not had a season totally healthy in years.

      3) The biggest names on the list you mentioned were LaRoche and Bautista. LaRoche finally turned into a consistent player in just the last couple seasons. He stunk for half of every year in Pittsburgh (Assuming you meant Adam). Bautista did nothing when he first went to Toronto too. Still wondering how he went from no power to amazing power basically overnight.

      Timing is everything. If they do not make this deal and the O’s get a different OF and that OF turns out ok for them, they do not make this deal in May.

      • The story is clear on Bautista, he was put in front of mirror saw his swing, Toronto hitting coach told him the same thing he heard here in Pittsburgh but he said it finally clicked this time to use his whole body into his swing. But I assume you are suggesting that Bautista took “steroids” because he had no power (which you are wrong he actually hit 16 HR and 15 HR for us back to back years before being traded). If you look at what scouts said about him before and his status as top prospect it’s not surprising he busted out. Also if you look at video from when he was a Pirate until now his swing is totally transformed.

        • risefromtheashes89
          January 28, 2015 11:50 am

          Not assuming anything. Just saying that people try to make it out that they just dumped Jose. He stunk here and stunk in Toronto at first. Just saying that Jose transformed not instantly after leaving the Pirates. You are right that he was prob just stubborn while here and still stubborn when sent to Toronto. Prob was told change or you are gone. Glad to see he changed. As for the roids. Who knows. Nothing would surprise me anymore.

      • Actually, Jose Bautista had power. I saw him hit plenty of HRs in AA. His problem was more of a mechanical issue once he got to MLB. To his and the Jays’ credit, he got that problem resolved. But I don’t disagree with your intentions in that comment.

        • You saw him hit less than 20 HR’s. That’s not plenty.

          BTW, are you the second coming of Howie Haak?

          • You need to get a clue before inserting your foot in your mouth. But, too late for that now. If you want to try and start an argument over any or every comment I make, you had better pick a subject you know something about.

            • Jose Bautista hit 25 HR’s in his time at Altoona. I’m sure he didn’t hit them all at home. Even if he hit 19 at home, that’s not plenty, got it Howie?

  • I would not rule out Rojas leap frogging Decker – Rojas has a lot more athletic ability, speed, and upside. He is also a switch-hitter and can steal a base.

  • Twelve months ago we were arguing how quickly one the top hitting prospects in the game should be on the Pirates MLB roster, getting comfortable with Andrew Lambo starting at first (with a negative comparison to Steve Pearce,) and Travis Snider was a career .241/.303/.398 88 wRC+ hitter.

    • Exactly! I’m not sure when Travis Snider turned in to Barry Bonds to some people. I like the trade a lot. Snider can be replaced very easily internally or externally.

      • Nobody is suggesting Snider suddenly turned into Barry Bonds. But he might’ve turned into Matt Stairs in his prime as a sub/PH (2001-2005) with better defense.

        • And about this time last year I remember arguing that paying Jose Tabata $3-4 million to be a forth OF wasn’t bad at all, just look what he did in the final two months of 2013. And he was a league average hitter for his career at that point. We can disagree on Snider, I just never got the enthusiasm for him, what if his second and first halves were reversed?

          • Great comp.

            Snider will be making at least $3-4m next year through arbitration, regardless of how he plays this year. Probably more chance he’d end up non-tendered than he would carry his second-half performance through this year and next.

    • I’m just glad folks here are smart enough not to dust off their old “salary dump” memes.

      Comments on Dejan’s Blog have become unreadable.

      • “Comments on Dejan’s Blog have become unreadable.”

        yep. every time i click on an article of his, i forget to not scroll down too far and then i hate myself for reading the comments.

        • Unreal. Used to be able to learn a ton from the folks there.

        • Like that PG Blog that will go unnamed here for now ?

        • It’s not just the commenters, either.

          “this smacks of setting up Andrew Lambo — a favorite of the GM, if not of Clint Hurdle — to be the fourth outfielder by default.”

          “It looks as though Lambo will again be basically handed a spot, just as he was last spring, and we all recall how that worked out.”

          Man, if Lambo’s 72 Major League plate appearances are an indication of how Pirates management treats a Favored Son, I shudder to think of how they’d treat someone in the doghouse.

  • Maybe clearing this 2 million off the books was the remaining payroll flexibility we needed to sign James Shields to a 4 year / 68 million dollar deal through his age 36 season?

    • risefromtheashes89
      January 28, 2015 10:29 am

      That would be outstanding. Not holding my breath but who knows

      • One can dream. But a 4 year deal would work perfectly with Cutch’s remaining contract. And a rotation of Shields, Cole, Liriano, AJ, and Morton if stout. Then after this year Taillon replaces AJ, and Glasnow / Kingham make trading Morton a possibility.

  • FWIW – Steamer projects a wRC+ of 108 for Snider with a veery negative fielding adjustment, so (although projections are far from perfect) it seems likely that the Bucs sold quite high. Snider projects to be (at most) a 1 WAR player.
    Andrew Lambo’s 2015 projection is nearly identical (slightly better fielding and slightly worse hitting, but essentially indistinguishable).
    In reality, Kang Jeongho is Snider’s replacement, as Josh Harrison is likely to serve as the 4th outfielder. Kang should be able to provide 1 WAR.
    I hope the PTBNL is Jon Keller (Mitch’s brother). As a 6’6″ high-strikeout pitcher, he could wind up being a valuable reliever. At age 22, he might not be that far off, even though he has not pitched at AA yet.

  • TonyPenaforHOF
    January 28, 2015 9:33 am

    While I like the trade I wish they would have been able to turn around and sign Ichiro for their 4th outfielder. He is a veteran with a positive locker room presence. He could help Kang’s transition in addition to being a productive bat, least an average defender and an above average base runner. He only signed with Miami for $2 million – $100 K less than Snider.

    • He is a veteran with a positive locker room presence. He could help Kang’s transition in addition to being a productive bat…

      __________________________________________
      Why? Because they’re both Asians?

      You realize that, in general, a lot of Koreans resent the Japanese for Japan’s repeated occupations of the Korean Penninsula, right?

      • risefromtheashes89
        January 28, 2015 9:40 am

        Good answer Steve. TonyP fails to realize Kang already has played with MLB players who went from here to Korea.

      • TonyPenaforHOF
        January 28, 2015 1:01 pm

        Whoa Steve! No I’m not saying that because he is Asain. I am saying that because Ichrio did what Kang is trying to do – come from a foreign league and play right away in the MLB. There will be similar cultural barriers from anyone in the world coming to the US. I would say the same thing if Kang was from Cuba – but for some reason the Pirates never seem to be in on Cuban players (notice the frustration in my voice on the Cuban topic).

        I do understand the Korean/Japanese relations however I would have to believe this issue is not at the forefront of either player’s mind. I would assume they are focused on success in the MLB and how to continue to succeed.

    • OMG ! That is the funniest comment I have seen today.

  • Johnny Delancey
    January 28, 2015 9:31 am

    Tim, I think your guesses on the PTBNL are right on. I immediately opened the Orioles draft transcript from last year, and I picked out either Brian Gonzales or Tanner Scott as candidates to be the PTBNL.

  • risefromtheashes89
    January 28, 2015 9:23 am

    Ever since the year Pedro was drafted, the Pirates have been drafting and making moves that are based on talent and improving the roster. You have not seen drafting based on signing ability as we saw when they drafted Moskos et al. You are seeing baseball trades and not salary dumps. In this case, yes it is hard to lose what Snider brought in the 2nd half last year. However, that was the 1st time in years Snider has been healthy. Does he stay healthy for all of 2015? That is the big question. Based on the past, better odds he gets dinged up and not produce at the same rate this year. I hope for his sake he does stay healthy. I like the way he plays but that is also what tends to lead to his injuries. Selling high and depending on the PTBNL, this could be a really good deal for the Buccos. Huntington has not missed on much since taking over.

  • Lee Foo Young
    January 28, 2015 9:01 am

    A guy just posted this on the PBC Asylum

    2015 Steamer Projections

    Snider: .253/.322/.412, 108 wRC+

    Lambo: .249/.303/.429, 105 wRC+

    • risefromtheashes89
      January 28, 2015 10:29 am

      Interesting. Lambo projects basically the same line plus you get 2 decent to above average lefties (depending on PTBNL)

      • Except Snider’s projection is significantly more reliable.

        • risefromtheashes89
          January 28, 2015 1:07 pm

          From what I see above, pretty much the same line.

          • Same line, less reliability.

            Snider’s projection is built off his minor league numbers, and “only” +1700 Major League PAs.

            Lambo’s projection is built almost exactly the opposite way. Projections that heavily rely on Major League Equivalents are inherently always less reliable than projections that rely on actual, real-live Major League performance.

  • With the Jung-ho Kang signing, where did everyone think Sean Rodriguez was going to play?

    No doubt Andrew Lambo will get more of an opportunity with Snider gone, but Rodriguez will undoubtedly be the best initial option if Polanco fails.

    Rodriguez is a better base runner, no worse of a defender, and up until Snider’s last 140 AB or so, also a better hitter.

    • Sean Rod has been kinda a forgotten man in my rants about the pirates’ backup plans for Lambo (who himself.. is a backup plan for Polanco).

      between… Jay Hay, Lambo, Kang, Sean Rod, Hart’s rickety knees, Bell being potentially ready by the end of the year, Jaff Decker having a similar upside to snider, and ability to trade for a RF if all those guys falter… going to Gorkys and letting his glove do serious work… i think they’ll be fine.

      • Yeah, there’s a lot of plan B, C, D, and E options. Surely, some of them (or a combo of all of them, playing whoever is hitting the hot streaks) will provide some sorta production.

        But, I gotta admit, I think Snider woulda been nice to keep around as the plan B option.

        • Very much agree that Snider would’ve made a fine backup outfielder.

          I think that if folks are getting this upset about a backup outfielder, the Pirates organization has come a hell of a long way.

          • Tell that to Pie Rat NMR. Talk about getting panties in a bunch over a backup outfielder !

      • Lambo played first base in high school and college and was put into the outfield by the Dodgers. I can see the FO seeing Lambo as extra insurance against “Hart’s rickety knees”.

  • Lee Foo Young
    January 28, 2015 8:41 am

    IF we had made this trade last June, everybody would’ve said ‘good riddance’. Travis has a hot 2 months and now he’s the next Brian Giles?

    Don’t get me wrong, I love Travis, but this was as high of trade value as he was going to get.

    NH saw a chance to replace the promise of Blake Taylor/Joely Rodriguez and I applaud him for it.

    Btw, has anyone noticed that we now have Lincoln and no Travis again? Hmmmm 🙂

  • I don’t like the trade because it weakens the 2015 team. I would rather have Snider as my 4th outfielder, especially for a 2 week stint if a starter goes on the DL. This team has a 4 year window (McCutchen under contract) so the team should continue to build. $2.1M of salary to a bench guy isn’t a lot so I don’t understand the payroll flexibility comment.

    Also, Snider seemed to be well liked by his teammates. Never underestimate the value of a “good guy” who can provide a little production.

    • or maybe Tarpley and X will help extend the window!

      the way i see it, worst case scenario, Jay Hay is now the 4th OF with Kang moving into 3b. And that’s if Lambo can’t manage a mid .700s ops in RF. Really shouldn’t hurt the team that much… if at all.

    • OTOH, Travis performed very well as a starter, for two months. He will not be given that chance here. The Bucs expect to get similar results from their bench, in addition to having picked up valuable young assets in the trade.

    • All I will say is this team has much more than a 4 year window. You have to factor in the system.

    • Lucas Vanderwarker
      January 28, 2015 10:59 am

      the fact you refer to the pirates being limited to a “window” tells me you probably don’t read much of what Tim writes.

      • I visit the site almost everyday. It is a lot harder now to stock a farm system than 5 years ago when teams could spend whatever they wanted in the draft and international signings. A lot of the Top 10 players in the system were acquired under the old draft rules. Also, as their record improves, their draft position falls making it harder to acquire top talent. Unless they start operating like the Cardinals, (use free agency to acquire top tier talent to supplement holes in the system), then there will be a window for a world series title.

        • I wouldn’t necessarily call it a “window”. I think that implies no chance afterward, whether you meant it that way or not.

          But I absolutely think fans are foolish to believe the Pirates won’t have a considerably better chance at winning a World Series with Andrew McCutchen than without. The chances of a similar player wearing a Pirate jersey in the next several decades are slim. The team absolutely should be doing whatever it can to capitalize on his services while he’s here.

    • I’ll never understand this kind of mindset. Trades like are made so there isn’t just a “Mccutchen Window”.

  • A player of Snider’s trajectory can be expected to continue to improve. If given an every day start, Snider will improve. One cannot realistically expect him to regress. Others like him prove the point: Marte, Harrison, Mercer, Walker, and McCutchen. Also: Moss, Freddie Sanchez, Jason Bay, Brian Giles, Xavier Nady. They all played into their skill set.

    Therefore, to predict Snider’s play in Bal’more, it’s unreasonable to include Snider’s stats previous to his short breakout two month period of 2014. The O’s acquired the Snider of the past two months in 2014, not the player who solely spot-started and pinch hit. The O’s can reasonably expect Snider to provide to be an above average force in RF.

    Similarly, I would NOT project a decline in 2015 for Harrison, Marte, Mercer or even Cervelli. All these guys are progressing into their skill set.

    As has been stated before, Snider would not be given that chance here. He would be a valuable substitute. Herein is the strength of the Pirates’ roster. Temporary fill-ins in RF, in lieu of injury, include guys who’ve had breakout seasons, such as Harrison, Hart or even Kang.

    Based on previous performance, I would not expect such quality play from Decker, Lambo, Gorkys, Rojas, Jr. None have had the periodic MLB success that led Snider to perform so well in 2014.

    • A player of Snider’s trajectory can be expected to continue to improve.

      _________________________________________________________
      A guy who had success in the past, then underwhelmed for about 3 years, and then performed above average in 2014 can be expected to improve?

      I’m not sure I can buy the predictability of such a trajectory. Sure, I can think of success stories of such similar guys; but I can also think of some similar failure stories.

      • Therein lies the beauty of this game (and life). Nothing is certain. This game (of life) is based on expectations: the O’s expect Travis to continue his play of 2014. The Bucs expect Gregory to succeed.

        I’m willing to bet both clubs have successful performers in RF in ‘15

    • Yes.

      Every single one of the Pirates players who performed above their average last year will continue improving and not regress a bit.

      Because that is how baseball works.

      • “I would NOT project a decline in 2015 for Harrison, Marte, Mercer or even Cervelli. All these guys are progressing into their skill set.”

        I was specific about these guys; they’re young and improving.

        Simple.

    • Tetrapharmakos
      January 28, 2015 1:02 pm

      Well, prior to MLB success, nobody has MLB success. And nobody has ever had MLB success without MLB playing time. Those 4 players combined have 25% of the PA appearances combined of Snider who doesn’t have a full season of MLB PA appearances himself. Snider might benefit from the opportunity – I hope he does – but so might Decker, Lambo, Gorkys, Rojas, Jr.

    • Is that a serious comment,or sarcasm ?

  • Dave Parker's Unfiltered Camel
    January 28, 2015 7:43 am

    here’s a thought. The Pirates announce that Polanco would be the starting right fielder despite the fact that Snyder had a better season. I’m not arguing with Polanco being the starter, but what if you are Snyder? He’s a competitor, he cares about his wallet, and he knows that he will not have the opportunity to compete for that job. Maybe Snyder through his agent quietly asked the Pirates to trade him, and the Pirates obliged under the condition that they would receive a favorable return. just a thought.

    • Lee Foo Young
      January 28, 2015 8:36 am

      First off, his name is spelled Snider and secondly, isn’t that Madlock in your avatar?

      • Dave Parker's Unfiltered Camel
        January 28, 2015 8:48 am

        Sorry for the misspelling. I’m traveling and using “talk to text” on my phone. That is The Cobra. In the larger pic., you can see his number 39 on his jersey. 🙂

        • Lee Foo Young
          January 28, 2015 9:00 am

          I long for the days I used to travel….NOT! 🙂

          So that’s the Cobra? A guy uses that same Avatar on the PBC Asylum and I always thought it was Madlock.

          Ya learn something every day. Safe Travels.

          • Dave Parker's Unfiltered Camel
            January 28, 2015 6:54 pm

            I think Madlock is in the background of that pic dragging on a cigarette.

    • ” Snyder ” wasn’t even a Snyder. He was Travis SNIDER.

      • Dave Parker's Unfiltered Camel
        January 28, 2015 9:43 am

        pay attention. I already responded to the misspelling. My apologies.

        • You hadn’t when I made that comment. Pay close attention….

          • Dave Parker's Unfiltered Camel
            January 28, 2015 4:25 pm

            Actually my reply to Lee was Eight hours ago. Your response according to the time stamp was seven hours ago. You must have missed my post.

            • You don’t know squat abut this site, do you ?

              • Dave Parker's Unfiltered Camel
                January 28, 2015 6:52 pm

                Actually, I don’t know much about this sight other than the great material, but I do know a jackass when I see one. Oh, and speaking of spelling: It’s “about” not “abut.”

                • Brilliant comeback. Possibly don’t try to think while you are traveling. Like your typing, your thinking seems to suffer also.

                  • Dave Parker's Unfiltered Camel
                    January 29, 2015 10:15 am

                    Thank you for the compliment and your advice, “compelling and rich.”

                  • Listen up, you insufferable aizzhat, he did apologize for the misspelling before you came along. You must lead a miserable existence, if all you can do is point out someone’s spelling error, particularly after you misspell “about”.

    • DPUC…
      I’m with you on this line of thinking. It may very well have been our front office meaning to do right by Snider. If you treat your guys well, even when you ship them off, this will come back to you in the game. I am looking forward to Lunchbox establishing himself long-term as an OF starter in the Bigs.
      ———————————————–
      “Dragons is so stupid.”
      -Wabbit

    • I don’t think those types of things happen with players already on the 25 man roster. Usually those things happen for guys at the AAA level that are blocked and another team is interested, for instance if Lambo quietly asked for a trade and Baltimore was interested.
      .
      Although, I’m sure the fact that Snider will have a better chance of starting in Baltimore is a silver lining for him.
      .
      Also, I would hope Snider wouldn’t be too upset that Polanco is going to be starting in right. I’m sure all the players can see that Polanco has some real talent even if he is the FNG.

  • I’m not in agreement with the thought that this is leading to another trade. I tend to agree with the thought that this was selling high on a bench player. If the players they are acquiring are high value I think is the question. It’s possible Tarpley is just another Justin Wilson or Andy Oliver; however a lefty that gets it in above 95 mph is certainly worth a flyer like Travis. Personally I think that Lambo will actually out perform Snider this year and I fully expect him to take the primary bench spot.
    I also feel really good about the other options in Tabata, Rojas, Broxton, and Hernandez… does anybody remember the defense Hernandez brought? That diving catch in LF foul territory was one of the best catches I’ve seen. It’s all good, and as Tim says, this is the type of deals this team MUST make if they want to stay competitive, they MUST be right a lot of the time though. Neal the Deal continues to build his resume as one of the better GM’s in the National League.

  • He was never going to be brandon moss here with GP around. Plus the bucs only had 2 more years of control. He was probably never going to sign long term to be the backup rf.

  • I think they make a run at Allen Craig noW.

  • Scott Kliesen
    January 28, 2015 5:29 am

    I understand the whole sell high and replenish theory, and agree with it to a certain extent. What’s puzzling to me is timing of the deal. Makes me think NH has another card up his sleeve.

    If I’m wrong and this was just a straight sell high/replenish trade, then I’m perplexed at why they would weaken the bench for a couple maybe’s a couple years away at least. Especially when the team is looking for any and every edge to dethrone the Cards this year.

    • There is a good chance that Lambo matches snider’s performance. They might have improved their future without even affecting their present. We’ll see.

    • Scott: The Pirates traded Brad Lincoln to get Snider, who in 3.5 years in the majors, never had a “high”. If the Pirates used the DH, he may have had more importance to the Pirates, but with switchhitting talent like Mel Rojas, Jr and Josh Bell, and the chance to get a 22 year old LHSP with a plus fastball, a “flashes” plus Curveball, a “solid average” Changeup, and an average Slider, this is a move that was too good to pass up. Mid-90’s LHSP’s with 3 other very good pitches and very good command is a rarity in today’s marketplace. Snider is a 4th OF at best in Pittsburgh who is only 2 years away from Free Agency. Tarpley, with the type of pitching development within the Pirates system, could take off and be a #3 in the MLB Rotation in 3 years.

    • Possible, but the Pirate can, depending on who plays where, give Snider’s PAs to Rodriguez, Kang, Hart, or J-Hay in some combination without making a trade. I’m not sure that makes the bench much weaker, especially if Kang is everything he could be.

      • Snider would’ve been primary LH bat off bench. Hopefully Lambo can fill the role as well as Snider did last year. Even if he doesn’t, depth of RH bench bats should make the Pirates bench better this year.

  • I would have preferred to put Snider at first and deal Alvarez.

  • Looks like the folks in the burgh will be able to buy a thick juicy steak now that the markets not cornered. And I still think this deal is a precursor for something else.

  • RE: “Did the Pirates Make a Mistake Trading Snider, Or Are They Selling High?”

    Can I squeeze through by just answering: “Yes”?

    • I dont like the trade still but instead of comparing to Brandon moss on every trade, lets compare him to a target from last off-season, Mike Carp. Same type of situation for a half year, I bet the sox wish they would of traded him now when they could get a return. This could be another possible outcome, and I think NH has earned some trust. I dont like the trade either now but I do trust him enough that im sure he knows more than me

      • Couldn’t agree more with you Bob about this F/O earning my trust

      • Not sure how Moss got into the conversation…

        I tend to think the Bucs made a mistake trading him…and I think they sold high.

        He’s great depth and would probably have logged 200-300 PA’s. His production will be missed. However, we’re getting back two players and Lambo…who was never going to get a chance with Snider on the team.

        • Tetrapharmakos
          January 28, 2015 12:50 pm

          And if Lambo(/Decker/Tabata) is a reasonable facsimile of Snider over 200-300, then his production won’t be missed and the Pirates got 2 players for well next to nothing. That is the essence of the wager right there.

          • The beauty of the Bucs roster is that Harrison, Sean Rodriguez, Hart and Kang are all able to play corner OF spots. They’re all better options as a “4th OF” than Gorkys, Decker and Tabata. And, as you said Tetra, we’ve also added two extra pieces with upside.

  • This performance draws me back to last week’s musings on time off and maximizing production.

    You seem to be fully recharged, Tim. You made sense of the cluttered and confused and conflicting thoughts cycling in & out of favor in my head, as I attempt to judge the moves made by, what I may as well consider, baseball genius.

    Thanks for the perspective…… Again.

  • Bucs Stop Here
    January 28, 2015 1:36 am

    Snider showed great place discipline, a little power and was on the verge of being the projected player he had been for 5 years. BAD TRADE, it was unnecessary at this time and the Pirates need a big LH bat which he could have been. Polanco still is a question mark and Snider was finally putting things together.

    • Tony Cunningham
      January 28, 2015 5:03 am

      Not sure How can u say he was finally putting it together after 3 years here with nothing. Because he had a good 3 months? I could see it as he just got hot

      • Bucs Stop Here
        January 28, 2015 11:33 am

        Three months is not a hot streak but rather a large enough sample size that could be considered relevant. Many players take time to figure things out so why trade him when? It wasn’t necessary and the the Pirates might get burned, it’s happened before.

        • Tetrapharmakos
          January 28, 2015 12:05 pm

          He had a total of 359 PA last year. 359 PA is hardly large enough of a sample to be considered relevant, let alone the 100-150 or so PA he had over the last month. It is possible he turned a corner;. It is also possible that giving him a few more months to see if he had would not only have informed the Pirates that last year was a fluke, but every other team too, thereby sapping his trade value.

          • Bucs Stop Here
            January 28, 2015 10:39 pm

            The actual sample should’t be so confined. Using his 1546 career AB is more telling as one can see the year by year progression / regression . In 2014 his Batting average improved, his OBP improved and most importantly his BB / SO ratio dramatically improved from a career .298 to .51 last year. (so he went from 30 BB / 100 SO to 51 BB / 100 SO. This statistic points to better pitch recognition which is the primary reason all of statistics improved. I’ll bet he tears it up and the Pirates regret this as they’ve done many times. Bautista, Moss,

            • Tetrapharmakos
              January 29, 2015 9:21 am

              “Three months is not a hot streak but rather a large enough sample size that could be considered relevant.”

              Your words; not mine.

              “In 2014 his Batting average improved, his OBP improved and most importantly his BB / SO ratio dramatically improved from a career .298 to .51 last year. (so he went from 30 BB / 100 SO to 51 BB / 100 SO.”

              Encouraging, yes, but small sample size.

              “This statistic points to better pitch recognition which is the primary reason all of statistics improved.”

              Again, I wouldn’t put a ton of stock in 359 PA.

              “I’ll bet he tears it up and the Pirates regret this as they’ve done many times. Bautista, Moss”

              Maybe, but the only way the Pirates really regret this is is Snider proves to be better than Polanco and I will take that bet every day of the week and twice on Sunday

    • Snider is just as big a question mark as Polanco. Backing up your question mark with another question mark happens a lot, but let’s not go overboard and characterize Snider as something he wasn’t.

      • Bucs Stop Here
        January 28, 2015 11:37 am

        I characterized Snider as exactly what he was, just no reason to trade him at this point. We’ll see who is right.

        • there definitely isn’t “no” reason to trade him. There are plenty.

          If they think that Lambo is just as good as snider, and they don’t trade Snider while he still has 2 years of control worth of prospects to receive in a trade instead of 1 year of control worth of prospects, then they aren’t doing their jobs.

          • And if the Bucs’ bench suffers and they miss the playoffs by a game because Clint got trapped again in late inning substitution hell for a chunk of the season, well, then the FO really didn’t do their job in that scenario either.

            I do not get the urgency to make this trade at this time.

            And I’ll even play the “clubhouse guy” card here. I know many of you guys hate it because it’s not a column on Fangraphs, but really, if it’s Snider out and Tabata in, that’s a minus on and off the field.

            As far as trusting the FO, yes, I believe they know how to rehab a pitcher. They still don’t know how to get to an NLCS, let alone a WS.

            Was the “leadership council” consulted on this?

            • if Lambo is really that much than Snider, then i hope they admit their mistake and trade for someone similar to Snider.

      • There are 1500 career AB to go on for Snider. He has been up and down but is entering his prime and is mostly an established player. He has a .715 career OPS and has played at around an average defensive player. I feel like he has figured it out and is a nice 4th OF but not really a starter. It is reasonable to think he will be a .725-.750 OPS player and 100 or so OPS+ player in the future. I think this is something the Pirates need. The Pirates hopefully will be in a pennant race and Snider is also a good pinch hitter. They must either have a lot of faith in either Lambo, Decker, Tabata or have the faith that Kang, Harrison, and Hart’s versatility will give them enough to cover if Polanco struggles. To me Polanco will do enough even if he hits .260. With his defense, speed, and plate patience I think he will be fine…I just hope the numbers vs. lefties were a fluke. As a fan I definitely have to say I am not in favor of this deal but will reserve judgment until Snider hits 25 HR this year.

        • Be sure to adjust that HR total by the ballpark. He’s built to hit homers out to the shorter RF in Camden. Not so much in Pittsburgh.

          • Snider did hit double the HR on the road but hit a lot better at PNC than on the road for whatever that’s worth.

  • Rob Biertempfel, “Unprompted mention of “payroll flexibility” by #Pirates GM makes me think perhaps something more is brewing.”

    Who knows the Pirates were loaded up with lefties in right field. Now you save 2 million going from Snider to Lambo. Maybe they are going to spend an extra 10 million and make a splash we never expected

    • Alternate take: payroll flexibility = we were close to budget limits and now we can add salary at the trade deadline if we need to.

    • Heh, maybe the asking price for Shields has come down and he wants to pitch for the Pirates for 1 year $10 million.
      .
      I think NH might be thinking ahead to the trade deadline though and didn’t want to risk not being able to move Snider later.

  • Tim – your analysis here is spot-on.

    GMNH has earned my trust, so I’ll hold off on any judgement (…if possible…MUST MAKE SNAP JUDGEMENT NOW…hard habit to break).

    I would only add that I believe Rojas & Hernandez could jump ahead of Lambo/Tabata/Decker, as each is coming off of relatively strong winter league performance while L/T/D have been underwhelming and unable to separate themselves from the pack.

    Good luck to Lunchbox in B-more!

    • jO: Agree 100% with the statement that Rojas could jump ahead – Hernandez? It looks like an excellent return for a guy who needed a chance to show what he has. He resurrected his career in Pittsburgh, but for a 4th OF entering his 5th year at age 27, I think the Pirates did the right thing – he will never get the opportunity to play the OF regularly in Pittsburgh unless major injuries occur. Tarpley and his mid-90’s fastball and high GO/AO ratio replaces Blake Taylor/Joely Rodriguez, and has a very high ceiling. Now a trade with Colorado for LH hitting 3B Ryan McMahon for one of our excess SP’s?

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