First Pitch: Why Michael Morse Should Be the Pirates First Baseman in 2016

I was sitting in the PNC Park press box during the workout day before the Wild Card game, writing up a few of my previews while the Pirates were taking batting practice. I was distracted briefly by one player putting on a huge power display, crushing home runs into the left field bleachers, off the batter’s eye in center field, and landing one on the second to the top level of the rotunda.

The very next night, right before the Wild Card game, the same player put on another power display, and launched another one high up on the rotunda.

This wasn’t a new thing. I saw this player putting on a show when I was covering the team at Wrigley Field a week earlier. I saw the player almost hitting fans as they were walking in the gates at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, as he sent home run shots over the stands in left-center, and bounced them out to the entrance gates. I saw the same type of power in Miami at the end of August, and saw it when I was in Pittsburgh earlier that month.

There are several reasons why I’ve been saying that Michael Morse should be the first baseman for the Pirates at the start of the 2016 season, and these constant power displays were a big reason why I started having that idea. From what I’ve seen in batting practice, Morse has as much raw power as anyone on the team, including Pedro Alvarez.

That said, the power didn’t show up this year in the games. He had a .100 ISO with the Marlins, and then posted a .116 ISO with the Pirates after the trade deadline. His .275 average and .390 OBP with the team were great, but the power that landed him a two-year, $16 M deal at the start of the year wasn’t found.

But it’s not like Morse has never shown power in games. Last year he had a .196 ISO. He was at .167 in 2013, and .180 in 2012. He was above .200 from 2008-2011. In his career, including the 2015 season, his ISO is .185.

Digging deeper into the numbers, Morse had a 33.3% hard contact rate this year, which is in line with his 33.8% rate for his career. The rate was down a bit with the Pirates, at 29.2%, but it wasn’t down a significant amount. His soft contact rate of 18.3% was higher than his career total of 15.7%. However, he managed to put up power last year with a 17.8% soft contact rate, and he showed improvement with the Pirates, dropping down to 16.7%.

The biggest change for Morse was that he was hitting more line drives and ground balls, and fewer fly balls. His line drive percentage was 25.5%, which was a career high, and up from his career total of 20.4%. He had a 33.3% line drive rate with the Pirates, which probably explains the increase in his ISO.

His ground ball rate was also up, at 56.9%, which was his highest total since 2009, and way up from his 45.2% rate last year.

His fly ball rate dropped to 17.6%, down from his career 31.6% rate, and down from 33% last year. In fact, this was the only time in his career that he was below 20%, and only the second time since 2010 that he was below 33%. The fly ball rate actually dropped with the Pirates, going down to 10.4%, which might explain the higher average, since fly balls have the lowest BABIP rate of the three hit types.

Even without the power and the home runs, Morse had a .351 wOBA and a 126 wRC+, which are numbers in line with his best seasons, when he had much better power numbers. But you’d like to see your first baseman hitting for power, and after watching him so much in batting practice, I can say the power definitely hasn’t gone anywhere.

I can’t say for sure whether Morse will bounce back next year with his offense, but I can say that the talent is there. He’d be a bit of a wild card, but the upside could be huge, and there’s no risk involved, since he’s already on the roster. He hasn’t shown any platoon splits in his career, which means the Pirates won’t have to use a bench spot on a first baseman who can hit left-handers. And if it doesn’t work out, the Pirates have some options in Triple-A, with Josh Bell on pace to arrive by mid-season.

As I wrote today, the biggest problem with Pedro Alvarez this season was his defense. Morse isn’t a great defender, but he’s a big upgrade over Alvarez, which isn’t saying much. If the bat bounces back, then you’re basically getting what you’d want to see out of Alvarez at first base, only you’d be getting it from Morse instead.

There have been injury issues with Morse in the past, including this year. He missed a month this season with a strained right finger. He missed a month in 2013 with straight right quadriceps. He missed two months in 2012 with a strained right lat muscle. While that appears to make him a risk, I’m not sure that’s a big concern on the Pirates. They’ve taken injury prone guys like Russell Martin, Francisco Cervelli, Francisco Liriano, and others and have kept them healthy.

They put a big focus on keeping all of their players healthy and fresh, and while this approach draws criticism for the selective rest they give players, the results can probably be seen by the lack of injuries that Morse has dealt with in the past. Stuff like Jung-ho Kang getting wiped out at second base is unavoidable, no matter what you do. But strains and muscle pulls are things that you can try to cut down on by keeping players fresh and in great shape.

The Pirates need a first base upgrade for the start of the 2016 season. Anyone who provides a guarantee on offense and defense will probably require a multi-year contract or a big trade. Morse doesn’t provide a guarantee with his offense or his health, but you can see how he could bounce back offensively from this down year, and you can see how the Pirates could keep him healthy. He’s not going to be a great defender, but he’d be an upgrade over Alvarez in 2015. And he’s already under contract, with Los Angeles paying an unknown amount of his salary.

To me, Morse makes total sense as the first base option to start the year in 2016. The Pirates will have a limited budget this off-season, and they’ve got needs at other positions. If they gamble on Morse, they can direct their funds to other positions. And I wouldn’t be surprised if that gamble pays off, making Morse just another one of their growing list of value moves.

**2015 First Base Recap: Defense Was a Problem For Pedro Alvarez and Josh Bell. Today I broke down the defensive struggles for Pedro Alvarez, and how his value dropped, despite the same offensive numbers from 2012. I also looked at Josh Bell’s progression, which also featured poor defense, but improving offense.

**Winter Leagues: Carlos Munoz Hits First Homer of the Winter Season. Speaking of first base, Munoz continues showing off his strong hitting, while hitting for some power. I have reservations about his ability to remain a prospect in the upper levels due to his conditioning, but he’s a great story to follow and a guy to pull for.

**AFL: Big Day From Adam Frazier Leads to Glendale Victory. John Dreker with today’s recap of the AFL, which features Adam Frazier continuing his success from the regular season in his first AFL start.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    October 15, 2015 12:11 pm

    I would be okay with Morse as a PH and platoon option for the short-term at first base, but I would prefer the Pirates to give Bell the position to lose in the Spring. He appears to be ready and has improved a lot at first base – he cannot be worse than Alvarez. The team needs to take a cue from the Cubs, Astros, etc. and start trusting and playing their prospects – instead of investing in short-term band-aids that fail to deliver in the post-season.

    • You mean like Jon Singleton?

    • So if we give him the job out of spring training, we have him for 2016 & 2017 at a controlled salary and arbitration for 2018, 2019, 2020, & 2021. If the Pirates wait until June, they have him 2016, 2017, 2018, & 2019 at a controlled salary and then arbitration for 2020, 2021, & 2022. Wouldn’t you rather have him at a full season at age 29 than a full season at age 23? Name a player that the Astros or Cubs have brought up right out of spring training…

  • Just heard Neal Huntington on the radio say that the Pirates share of Morse’s 2016 salary is the same as it would have been for Tabata

  • Huntington just said on the radio that Morse will cost the same as Tabata would have in 2016….
    So Dodgers paying the difference

  • Sorry, but can someone please explain ISO.

  • Interesting question: what do the Pirates do with the savings, potentially, from Melancon and Pedro if traded (assuming Neil Walker sticks around).

  • I would say this would also be good news for Walker and Rodriguez.
    Walker does not have to provide as much offense when they play lefties and
    can be moved down in the lineup. Morse provides protection behind
    Kang and/or Marte. When Walker bats left handed he moves up in the
    lineup and Morse down and he provides the protection.
    Rodriguez stays in a role similar to last year-to be a defensive
    replacement behind Morse and eventually Bell.

    Morse also gives a first impression of being a pretty good player
    to have around the clubhouse, and with the fans and media.

  • Just a feeling of mine but I think the Pirates are going to add Yonder Alonso to help Morse out at 1B. Alonso’s numbers against LHP aren’t terrible and Morse has no real platoon splits so it wouldn’t have to be a straight platoon but they could still share time. Plus with both of their injury histories having them both on hand wouldn’t be a bad idea.

    I’ve heard the Padres could look at Chris Davis as a big left handed bat or move Wil Myers to 1B either of which would leave Alonso without a real role. He is a very sound defensive 1B, has the same career wRC+ as Pedro (though he gets it by OBP instead of power) and is projected to cost just 2.5 million in arbitration next season.

    He’s not going to come free but its clear the Padres are ready to move on from him so I don’t think he should be overly expensive. Like I said its just a hunch I have but he really seems like a Pirate kind of pick up to me.

    • Maybe Melancon goes and Yonder and a pitcher come back in return

      • Padres don’t seem like the ideal spot for Melancon with Kimbrel in the closing role.

        • We can send him back the Red Sox for Brock Holt and Deven Marrero. 🙂

          • Honestly, that’s the most likely landing spot I can think for him and I like that return!

            • Arizona – big need for a closer….
              The White Sox would love to add him but have David Robertson on a truly awful contract through 2018.
              An interesting possibility might be the Astros – they certainly competed well this year – but Gregerson is no Melancon – he has a heavy contract – but not so bad that they couldn’t drop him into the 8th inning told

    • My preference would be Scott Van Slyke – he can play any OF position and has better defensive metrics than Morse – by far – and more power. His power numbers are off and he is out of the NLDS due to a wrist injury.

  • Mike Morse was a great little trade, picking up an upside player in a position of need (RH platoon) for an unwanted asset.

    Mike Morse is also a fine fall back option for a team claiming poor, er “limited resources”. But as an injury-prone, BABIP-dependent slugger it’s inviting disaster to have him and only him ready to play 1B on Opening Day. *Especially* if the plan to actually keep him healthy involves plenty of rest.

    • Agreed. He very well could get hurt in the Spring. Then where are they gonna be? There is always an injury in March or April that screws up Plan A. Even when they stunk, years ago. Morse might as well be the odds on favorite for that.

    • You can’t honestly believe the Pirates would go into the season with all their eggs in one basket at 1B? Of course they’ll have options beyond Morse available to them. This type of comment should be reserved for March 15, 2016, certainly not appropriate on Oct 15, 2015.

      • The comment was responding to the article written, Scott.

        • You said it would be a disaster if Pirates had only him available to play 1B on Opening Day. You’re too smart to know Pirates would never let that happen. Don’t let your opinion of what Nutting does w his wallet skew your ability to reason.

    • I certainly hope they have a plan B if plan A is Morse, and if Plan B is Bell, they should have a plan C. But how much should they spend on a plan B or C? This considering they need to replace Burnett, and it sure would be nice if Locke and Morton were merely options, and not firmly #4 and #5 going into the season.

      • Again leads me to change course and make Walker that guy. He’s already on the team, already accounted for salary-wise, and there at least appears to be better options to fill his spot at 2B if needed.

        Otherwise I’d follow what the As and Marlins did last year in plucking Rule 5 guys to back up Ike Davis and, wait for it, Mike Morse.

    • Aside from 2013 and 2015, which were injury-shortened, Morse has been a pretty steady offensive contributor for his career. He’s only two years removed from posting a wRC+ of 134, and he’s been above average to very above average in basically every other season of his career aside from the two mentioned above.

      Without a lot of good options available on the free agent market, Morse is about the best option we have, and I don’t think he’s really a bad one. I think he’s a reasonably safe bet to post, with 80% confidence, a 110+ wRC+, which would be about the best production we’ve gotten out of the position in recent years.

  • Why didn’t he get more playing time after being acquired? He would have been a way better choice than Serpico. As far as his defense, I hear he isn’t good, but considering he broke in as a SS, how bad can he be?

    • For whatever reason, I thought he was out of favor with someone.
      Tabs must have really whizzed in somebody’s corn flakes.

    • Rodriguez was mostly a defensive replacement at first base in the late innings. In fact, he only started 3 games in September, and those were at RF and SS.

      Morse was used as a platoon guy at first base, and a pinch hitter. He received 7 starts in September, and 8 in August (Rodriguez had 6 in August, with most coming when Harrison and Mercer were out).

      I think the fact that Pedro was so hot in the second half also played a big factor in Morse being limited to just right-handed platoon duty at first base.

  • I think Pedro’s erratic play has put the Pirates in the position that they have no choice but to “sell low” on him. I suppose you could keep him around until the trade deadline and see if he is value increased but, that’s a double edged thing. If Pedro were playing well, then you wouldn’t be able to re-sign him at the end of 2016 If he were playing poorly, you wouldn’t want to keep him. Either way you would lose him by the end of 2016 and get nothing in return. If you were to deal him now, at least you could get something.

    I’m not a Pedro fan but I do think he is a bounce back candidate and, unfortunately, at this point I think he will bounce back with another team. I don’t see Morse as an upgrade but agree with Tim that he is Pedro’s likely replacement

    • If Bell’s defense improves, he’ll be up in June. He’s not that green. His bat is ML ready right now. His pitch recognition and hand-eye coordination are ridiculous.

      • We shall see. There’s no one blocking him at the major league level currently.

        • I think the key is that, while the power is still in question (in terms of actually showing up) his bat profile does come off as better than anyone they have. Pedro’s is better, but his defense+price tag make that bat really tough to keep around if they want to attack other needs.

          Of all the options, it seems like Bell at some point is best. He may struggle a bit early on, but our options all have potential to have issues. Morse could be hurt, Pedro could regress a tick on offense, and all other FA options just kinda suck. Its basically pay for Park or pick your potentially flawed alternative.

          • Park comes with risks too and will cost alot more.

            • Park’s defense is (going off the limited reports one can find) not awful and may be somewhat good at 1B. So he’s got a lot of power, decent defense and what appears to be a decent ability to hit for average as well.

              He’s got K issues, and the ability to sustain a decent average may be up to some debate, but thats a bit better risk profile than a guy like Morse or a rookie year of Bell. Park could look like 2013 Pedro (lotta Ks, lotta power) with slightly better OBP and defense. Depending on his price, doable.

          • Orrrrrr use a resource you already have (Neil Walker) as the safety net.

            • Id be okay with him as a safety net plan C type, but anything more would be assuming a lot about Walker. If Morse goes down and Lambo isnt healthy, Walker seems valid before July.

              I think Park and Walker would put up a similar wRC+ over a full season, just do so in different ways. I dont really like either option if Park costs what Walker does per year.

              • You’d trust Andrew Lambo before Neil Walker?!

                • Id rather have Walker at 2B, Harrison at 3B, and Mercer at SS than move Walker to 1B, and likely use a bench player/Hanson at 2B.

                  I think the injury to Kang makes an early season injury to Morse make Lambo a better overall fit for our IF than moving Walker. Because i want no part of whatever bench guy we have getting extended playing time, and i dont really want Hanson starting for a month with his issues at starting well at new levels.

                  I think Walker would be better overall, but you’d see a sizeable drop at 2B. Im not as “Lambo sucks” as others and think he can have a non terrible 2-3 weeks at 1B when healthy. Andrew Lambo hasnt gotten near enough playing time to make it clear to me he’s anything, even though people already assume he’s headed to Japan because he’s AAAA.

                  • Ah, you’re talking emergency, short term guy.

                    • Im pretty much assuming that early next year. Morse at 1B, Walker at 2B to start. Any injury then causes some emergency option if it occurs in the first month or so. After that, a rookie is an option at 1B or 2B.

            • I don’t think they’ll be able to afford Park anyway. Kang’s performance will make a lot of teams pay more for Park.

              Ignoring salaries, Walker at 1B would be fine. But factoring in the likely $10M+ salary for walker, and the $8.5 they owe Morse, that would mean $19M for two guys to cover 1B. They’d have to deal Morse and I’m not sure they could.

              • Maybe I’m not explaining this right.

                I am NOT saying Neil Walker, Full Time 1B Only. Simply Neil Walker, flexible infielder. Primary 2B, but if/when Kang is healthy I think there’s absolutely a chance that Morse is the low man on a given day or even extended period out of Kang/Mercer/Walker/Harrison plus your starting outfielders.

  • Morse wouldn’t be a bad stopgap until Bell is ready to assume the position. I’m sure the “Nutting is cheap” crowd will want them to go out break the bank on some FA (isn’t it fun spending other people’s money), but the Pirates aren’t in that business. Nor should they be.

    • Good point – Josh Bell is our now and our future. His numbers in AA and then in AAA in 2015 could have been enough on many teams for him to start the 2016 season with the Pirates, but he needs that special Pirates 2 month AAA to MLB developmental course in order to graduate, and it was not offered last semester.

      Is there anyone who has an idea of what the Dodgers paid the Pirates to take Michael Morse so he could be removed from their 40 man roster? Does it cover a substantial part of the 2016 salary?

      • Don’t know where, but IIRC last summer I saw LA would cover Jose’s 2016 contract. Somewhere between $2.5 and $3.0 MM.
        Sound reasonable?

        • Bobby: The LAD traded for him at the deadline and assumed all of his remaining salary of about $10.5 mil – the remaining $2.5 for 2015 and another $8 mil for 2016. Then they made some other trades that made Morse expendable, so they traded him to the Pirates and tossed in an “undisclosed” amount of cash to sweeten the deal. Knowing how generous they were to get rid of Kemp, I am hoping that the Pirates have Morse for very little in 2016.

          In that case, it would make sense for the Pirates to keep him. But if the Pirates are in the bag for the majority of that $8 mil in 2016, I doubt he will be around in 2016.

          • I thought it was a tell when Huntington talked frankly about trying him out and moving on if necessary right after the trade. Maybe it was just a poor choice of words in the moment, but I couldn’t imagine straight cutting him if they were on the hook for $8m.

      • According to all accounts, Bell has not developed the skills necessary to play first base. As a career outfielder, he was moved to first because of the pending opening and the trio of outfielders we have in front of him. I question whether first will ever work for him, and the whole idea that you can move a player with zero infield background to first and assume he can play the position at the major league level. His bat will get him to the majors, and I have to wonder if we may see a big trade within a year to allow him an opportunity in the outfield.

        • I learned a long time ago to try not to use words like all or always. Bell was rough defensively at 1B as was expected playing a truly new position, but he had fewer errors than Alvarez, who was an infielder his whole career and should not have had as much difficulty as he experienced in 2015. The kid seems to be a very intelligent and gifted ballplayer, therefore I do not share your doubts.

          I also would not be surprised to see Bell and Meadows in the same OF in the future. They need a LH bat that can fit in the middle of the lineup. Based on 2014 results I thought that Neil Walker could be that guy, but he regressed in HR power 2015, but still posted 51 EBH. I do not think Polanco ever showed a lot of HR power, but his 50 EBH in his first year of MLB Service in 2015 could fit well in the middle of the order.

          • Can you cite a single report that Bell can play first base at the major league level? I agree he is talented and intelligent….but that doesn’t translate to a conclusion that he will become an adequate first baseman. I hope he develops as one, but I challenge the assumption.

        • Lots of OF move to 1B, so it’s not as if the Pirates are forcing a grand misguided experiment. Maybe you’re right and it won’t work, but I’d say it’s too early to say.

          I’d love to see how often historically an OF becomes an above average defender at 1B.

          • That would be a great question, and also one that’s impossible to answer.

            We know that most first basemen start out as other position players, but we don’t know how many of them fail to make that transition let alone which ones started as outfielders.

      • Or, you know, the Pirates realized his defense wasnt ready and that offense isnt the only part of the game that matters. I seriously doubt “many teams” would have promoted him the way he was playing defense.

      • Im not saying anything about Bell at all until I see a hundred ABs and a bunch of games in the field. Not doubting the potential. Its just that the few really bright things I see with the guy is the BA and OBP (walks to K’s looks good). But everytime a kid makes the jump, those are the first things to dip. Gonna take time with him. The question is can the Pirates afford to wait with Cole in his “cheap” prime?

        • Really, really surprises me how many folks are comfortable *expecting* Josh Bell’s production on contact without any power to immediately carry over after watching Gregory Polanco for the last sixteen months. Polanco has struck out a bit lower than league average, walked a bit higher, but has seen his BABIP drop from .377 in AAA to below .300 in the show. Without any power, you’re left with a slightly below average hitter. That’s fine if you also provide value defensively and steal 30 bases, but Josh Bell will be doing neither of those things.

          • Bell has a more compact swing and better pitch recognition than Polanco though. There are plenty of players with low power that still hit for average and OBP. Even if Bell never fully taps into his power, I still see him being a 10-15 homer, 30+ double guy that hits .300+. He hits a lot of line drives, he’s just not getting enough loft on his swings. Maybe I’m wrong but I don’t think Bell should be compared to Polanco. They are 2 completely different players with completely different mechanics.

            • Has an Orlando Merced feel to him, Kozy.

              • That’s a blast from the past. I hope he’s better than Merced.

                • Wouldnt be a terrible middle ground for him. Obviously the ceiling may be higher, but a true outcome like Merced wouldnt totally kill his value.

                • I hope so too. I still think he’ll be a good player, but late 2017, 2018 is my bet. Think the yinzer crowd will expect too much too soon.

            • Bell *may* have a marginally better swing and eye, but if we think there’s any significant advantage here we’re already forgetting what scouts were saying about Polanco before Major League pitching got a hold of him. He was absolutely the better hitting prospect.

              Regardless, this isn’t a conversation about what Josh Bell ends up being, it’s about what Josh Bell will bring to the Pirates next year. Polanco was brought up due to injury and struggled. Mike Morse puts the Pirates in the very obvious possibility of needing Josh Bell sooner rather than later, and as we’ve just seen that can turn out disastrous.

              • We also can’t expect him to perform like Polanco either. He could come up and immediately contribute too. He could come up and win ROY. I think a big part of Polanco’s problem has been confidence. Mental makeup has a lot to do with it. Look at the Cubs. Bryant, Russell and Schwarber have been successfull while Soler and Baez have struggled and I think it all goes back to mental makeup. I think Bell and Meadows won’t struggle immediately like Polanco did. I think Alen Hanson will struggle although the talent is there. I think Taillon will be in the bigs before Glasnow. Glasnow has the higher ceiling but I think Taillon has better mental makeup and will be ready faster if he’s healthy. Of course, I reserve the right to admit that my observation could be complete BS.

                • Of course Bell *could* do that. Absolutely.

                  Mike Morse *could* be both healthy and productive. Pedro Alvarez *could* get better defensively just like Kevin Young and George Scott.

                  The point is that every single one of those are high risk probabilities, and there’s a strong likelihood that one will be eliminated (Alvarez).

                  The way to avoid the awful by building depth most certainly is not to eliminate options without replacing them with safer ones.

                  And I appreciate you calling yourself out for the “mental” schpeal, which is most certainly wrong.

                  • Absolutely agree that they need to build depth because these options are riskier than we’d like. And I’m saying, eyes wide open, that Morse and Bell should be the #1 and #2 options next year. They can keep Ishikawa around as a bench lefty / option #3. This is not perfect, but this may be the best plan they can afford.

                  • I don’t know. There’s something to be said for being headstrong in an arena like professional sports.

                    • Ever read a report on Javy Baez’s makeup? Apparently not.

                    • I’ve read that he’s cocky in a lot of places. Cockiness alot of times can be a mask. Just sayin… So you don’t think that mental makeup has anything to do with on-field performance?

                    • Oh god, that’s not even close to what I’m saying.

                      What I’m saying is that we, as fans watching baseball games on television, are absolutely awful at identifying good and bad mental makeup. That’s undeniable.

                    • Why didn’t you just say that then? I can’t assume what you’re implying. It’s not that hard to identify someone who struggles in big moments verses someone who rises to the occasion. As far as I’m concerned that far mental than anything else. You can’t tell me that Tony Romo is as headstrong as Big Ben or Tom Brady. Dude wilts every time. Same with Andy Dalton. I believe that’s mental.

                    • I’ll never claim to be a good orator. 😉

                    • Haha, me neither apparently. I have these thoughts in my head, I type them out, and then read them later and think “wow, that’s a convoluted mess of a paragraph”. That’s why Tim & John write about baseball and I don’t.

                    • Ha, I literally do that same thing on almost a daily basis…

                • I think you may be more right than wrong on all of these predictions.

          • I am expecting he’ll take plenty of lumps, but he’s got to take them sometime. It just seems easier to slot him in at 1B when the “baseline” is replacement level (Pedro).

            • See, this is exactly why I made the Polanco comparison. The club was able to allow Polanco to take his lumps without missing a beat overall because they had good depth behind him.

              Given the club’s known pitching needs and potential loss of offense, it doesn’t sit well with me to invite disaster at a position while fighting an ultra-competitive division.

      • According to what I’ve read, the financial piece of the Morse/Tabata trade hasn’t been divulged.

  • I could be completely wrong but it looked like Morse was really lacking in bat speed. He seemed to not be able to catch up to good velocity, at least that’s what my untrained eyes saw. It seemed like most hits he got including his one HR were to right field? Am I wrong on this? That seems like a major concern if I’m right.

    • I think it’s more swing length than lack of bat speed. 6’5″ dude is the first place, and he doesn’t exactly try to shorten up.

      • That hit chart is really surprising. I would have never expected it. During the season he didn’t look like a dead pull hitter to me, but I thought that was a function of his injuries and loss of power.
        I agree with jammin that selling low on a player is not what this front office does. I can see him staying until the trade deadline unless they get what they consider equal value back.
        If the Bucs were paying both Alvarez and Morse then I’d be convinced Pedro would be gone but not with LA paying an undetermined part of Morse’s salary. Remove Walker, AJ and Melancon and that could be a lot of money coming off the books.
        I’m guessing that it’s easier to find average production at second base than at first base. I see Walker leaving in the off season and Alvarez leaving during the 2016 season.

    • exactly!!!

  • For some reason I just don’t see them selling low on Pedro. It’s not their MO. I’m not saying I agree with it. Just my guess. I believe they trade Walker & Melancon in off season & maybe Pedro in season. Perhaps after someone has an injury or some team has a surprise 1st half.

    • Are they selling low on Pedro if it’s to an AL team who needs a LH power-hitting DH?

      I think the Kang injury makes it unlikely Walker is traded. As for Melancon, I agree Pirates will likely deal him. Maybe w Alvarez as part of the package.

      • I hope Kang makes it back, but the last infielder Coglin took out didn’t last a year. Home runs in batting practice is your reason to keep Morse, Tim? As you see in the playoffs, HR’S are the reason for the Cubs, Jays, but not KC. I don’t think we can afford to trade Pedro’s known power for BP power.

    • The options are either sell low or get nothing though. I don’t think there is any way his value increases in-season, barring him hitting .250-260 with 25+ HRs at the deadline. He’s purely a rental which means his value goes down as we wait til the deadline. And I think the sample with Pedro is big enough that we know he’s not going to suddenly flip the switch and become Jose Bautista. Other teams aren’t going to pay more in-season for a guy like him with his agent looking for a gigantic contract as well. Rip off the bandaid, do it now, pray what you get back works out like the Travis Snider deal.

      • While i agree on just moving on from Pedro, they would get something from him if they dont sell him now. They’d get his production, and his offensive profile got much more consistent last year (particularly the entire 2nd half).

        If the team guys into the .250/.330/.520/.860 stuff he was throwing out over 2-3 months, thats not bad at all at his spot. 130 wRC+ is the goal, they’d just have to hope/assume/see his defense improving to something remotely average to make his value not replacement level overall.

        • I also don’t know how much I stringently trust WAR in assuming that, say, a Travis Ishikawa who very well may be replacement level just like Alvarez actually provides the same impact to this club.

          You’re talking about giving up quite a few runs from the bottom of an otherwise impotent lineup.

          • That is a fair point… We saw how other teams feared Pedro and pitched around him, and he is one of the few guys who can create a win all by himself (a few times a season it seems)…. but even then I think $8M can buy better incremental value elsewhere.

            I like Pedro and I want him to be a Pirate next year. I want to see if his defense can climb up to average — but only if they don’t have to sacrifice elsewhere.

      • As people have said over and over, Pedro is who he is at this point. Which is a DH. A serviceable but not All Star quality DH. Guys like that are plentiful, which means you wont get much in trade value for him.

        On the other side of the equation, I just don’t see how a team that essentially wins on pitching and pulling out close games can even remotely consider having Pedro butcher 1b next season. Yes he hits for power and the team needs that. But it needs run prevention more. Clint has been hinting at just that the number of times he played JHay at 2B and the number of comments, veiled as they are, about Walker’s lack of range. I think there can be arguments FOR Pedro and Walker in the lineup and arguments equally as compelling, at least, AGAINST, especially at their price tag. If I were the GM, both would be gone, but I’d spend money on an upgrade at one of those positions OR put all my chips into a stud starting pitcher. The one glaring gap on this Pirates team is a shut down starter and so I’d put all my pennies toward that end. But I’m not GM and no chance the Pirates do that.