Open Discussion: While I Get the Prospect Guide Ready to Ship…

Tomorrow I’ll be getting the first shipment of the 2016 Prospect Guide, then turning that around and shipping it out on Saturday morning, just in time for the USPS deadline for Christmas delivery. While the books don’t ship until tomorrow, today I will be printing out all of the shipping labels. After that, I will be going to see the new Star Wars movie for the first available showing in this area, because I’m a nerd like that.

The Pirates have officially announced the Sean Rodriguez signing today, but so far everything else has been quiet. Of course, the last few times I’ve posted one of these, news has come out within the hour. So get ready for something to happen soon. Otherwise, feel free to use this for discussion of any topic, baseball or not, Pirates or not.

And if you haven’t bought the Prospect Guide yet, you can do so on the products page of the site. Top Prospect Plan subscribers get the book for free using the code “TOPPROSPECT”, and Annual subscribers get the book for $10 off using the code “ANNUAL”.


  • Pirates have acquired 1B/corner infielder Jason Rogers from the Brewers for Keon Broxton and Trey Supak!
    Nice acquisition…..

  • The Pirates are going to roll with Michael Morse as a full time starter I think .His career spits are pretty similar. So maybe the plan is to improve the defense and add to the pitching staff and hope guys like Cutch,Marte,Polanco,and Kang have HUGE seasons

    • “Yuge”. They are going to be sooooo good. The Cards and Cubs have low energy…the Pirates pitchers are going to pitch….legally. And we’re gonna take out their oil.

      • I literally LOL’ed reading this…the Cards and Cubs are third rate organizations. Bob Nutting has built an amazing company with thousands of employees, worth billions and billions of dollars. He turned them into winners. Cubs never win…theyre a bunch of losers.

  • One thing everyone needs to remember, although at this point I’m not sure we’re in position to do so, is make the playoffs. After that it is a random crapshoot. Consider Daniel Murphy. No reason for the Mets even to make the playoffs let alone the World Series. They had no one in their division, played the Phillies, Marlins, and Braves 19 times each. Bucs and Cubs swept them in the regular season, and they make the World Series due to a random hot streak by Neil Walker. Uh, I mean Daniel Murphy. Just as easily could have been Neil Walker, or anyone else for that matter. And look at Arrieta. Turned into better than Sandy Koufax for the second half of the season. With so many teams in the playoffs now the best team often does not win.

    Cubs are no more certain to win the World Series now than two months ago. Playoffs yes, winning it all no.

    Just make the playoffs, don’t have to win 100 games.

    That being said, the Pirates are due for someone to get hot at the right time.

    • Get out of here with that logic!

      I feel like a lot of people here think 98 wins is no big deal, and somehow if the pirates spent more money we would have win the world series. 98 is unreal. There’s no amount of money that can buy a world series, and if there were, there would be about 4 teams that would be in contention every year and nobody else.

      I understand why people want more money spent, but spending money gets you nowhere. I trust this FO. And I’m nowhere near jumping off a cliff in December.

      Go Bucs

      When I say money gets you nowhere, I mean smart management > throwing money at problems.

      • All true but yet had they spent on a very reasonable contract for Volquez for 2yrs/20mil and replaced one of Morton or Locke they would have won the division. Having Morton in the rotation as long as we did was a joke. Glad he’s gone the sight if him made me nauseous .

        • I strongly agree with Volquez. They were counting nickles on that deal. I bet NH knows he made a mistake on not keeping him. These guys get so hung up on the budget they lose sight on making the roster stronger. You hope they aren’t left with a Morton replacement of a lesser skill set.

        • I agree w you on volquez. I think that’s one of the very few actual mistakes they’ve made in the last few years. They made up for it w Aj and happ to a degree last year, but so far this offseason it looks like they wish they would have had him.

    • Randomness.
      Thanks Tim.

    • The overall team approach to hitting needs to improve. It shows in big games when they can’t find a way to scratch across a run. Need to get into a playoff series not a coin flip game. but they are trying to hit bombs against Arrieta in a game like that, it was pathetic. A week later a less talented lower ranked offense team in STL scored plenty off him. The Mets did the same Because they had a good disciplined approach and they took what Arrieta gave them The Pirates do not have a smart approach.Reflection on the whole organization on how they develop hitters.

      • Absolutely agree. It would be nice if the Bucs had a batting guru they had as much confidence in as they have in Searage as a pitching guru.

    • I’m not sure any single piece of flawed logic gets more exaggerated in today’s game than the thought that *literally* the playoffs are random.

      Simply not true.

      The playoffs are about which team capitalizes on the inherent randomness in baseball.

    • I couldn’t agree with you more. That’s why the idea of blowing it all to win in some arbitrary “window” is idiotic. Getting into the playoffs is the magic ticket. Look at the Mets. The Giants the… You get the picture. Good point most won’t get.

      • You honestly think the Royals outcome would’ve been no different – not at all – without Cueto and Zobrist?

        You don’t have to “blow it all” in order to make your team better.

    • I wish Neil would have gotten on a hot streak in the playoffs. Unfortunately he sucked

  • “Historically, we haven’t. That’s something that we may have to recalibrate ourselves and rethink it. We’ve had a very disciplined process to date and it has worked. I think we all recognize that sometimes you have to change. Sometimes you have to do things that get you out of the comfort zone. I’m not suggesting that that’s exactly what we’ll do. But my point is think back over the last few years and the model was definitely working. But the game is changing a bit. Are we going to change with it? It’s certainly something that we understand that we have to be cognizant of — and willing to accept.”

    • That’s about as commonsense as it gets. What’s left out is why the ‘game is changing’. A big part of the Pirates’ success was being able to moneyball it in their own way…find strengths of importance that others weren’t focusing on and exploit them. Now many teams are doing this and the Pirates are unable to financially compete in what was once a limited market. Unless the Pirates are going to start dropping mad amounts of cash, they’re going to have to look for the next thing people aren’t paying attention to and commit to it.

      I’d argue, and have…and it’s highly unpopular…that 2016 may be best served as a retooling year. Make the needed trades to stock the minors and acquire some ML ready talent. Get the young guys up and put a half-season under their belts. Get some extensions done…starting with Polanco and Cole…and, yes, I know how difficult and expensive it will be for Cole, but 6/90 is possible and 6/96 should get it done.

      I think there’s a bit of paranoia or gun-shyness for Pirates fans. After twenty years of losing, a retooling sounds so similar to a rebuild…and that’s totally understandable. But, unless the economics of the game change tomorrow, the team is probably going to have to get used to taking a breath every few seasons to capitalize on what they’ve built but can’t hold on to, and to inject the talent they’ve developed into the team.

      • FWIW, that quote was John Mozeliak responding to a question about their free agent misses this winter…

        • Damn, would have guessed that came straight from Neal…you got me 🙂

          • That’s what struck me as important about the quote. When the Cardinals, of all teams, are genuinely considering changing organizational strategy in order adapt to a changing market and division, Huntington & Co sure as hell better be doing some soul searching themselves.

      • And I agree with your retooling point. As I would agree with a “go for it” strategy.

        The only option I *do not* agree with is half-assing either, which is exactly what the Pirates have done thus far.

      • We could offer Cole 150 million right now and he wouldn’t sign, Might as well forget that right now . Cole will be wearing another uniform in Spring Training 2020 at the latest.

  • Sawchik reports that theyre not interested in Morneau. Says Morneau. So, who’s left? Lee…that’s about it. Unless he’s got somebody in mind we havent even thought of yet.

    • Its possible too they could pick up a guy thru waivers or a trade in late March.

    • Jaso? That Pedro whatisname guy?

      • Might be Loney…which wouldnt be a horrible option if Rays eat some of that contract.

        No power though…if that happened. I’d sign Lee too. Relegate Morse to top bench option.

        Loney/Lee platoon


        Assuming they sign Lee beyond 1 year, he and Josh Bell man the spot in 2017.

      • Jaso is the kind of upside play I’d be making.

        He might be an awful first baseman, but if there’s any free agent that could put up a 130 wRC+ the Pirates could conceivably afford it’s him. Fairly similar to Mike Napoli’s situation as he was transitioning to a first baseman, actually.

        Risk, absolutely, but plenty of reward.

    • Let me throw one more name out there- Logan Morrison.

      • Just trying to think out of the box. If Cincinnati was to pick up around half of his remaining salary would the Pirates be interested in Joey Votto??? They’re in a total rebuild and it may be in their best interest to take the hit for a good portion of his remaining salary to get out from underneath it the full contract. On base machine, with power and an excellent glove.

  • I can’t read anyone’s mind but it looks to me that “the plan” this year was to dump players they saw as expensive and not all that productive – Pedro and Morton – for whatever they could get and to trade expensive players that they don’t see as part of their future – Melanceon and Walker. Doing so gives them “payroll flexibility” to add parts at the trade deadline if they’re lucky enough to be in it. After that, I think it’s a youth movement. Hanson replaces Walker, Bell replaces Pedro, Taillon/Glassnow replaces Burnet/Happ. I don’t think any of those players come up until the super two deadline except maybe Hanson starts the year in the majors.

    I think they are comfortable plugging the holes in their lineup at first and second with people on their roster for the first three months of the year. If Kang isn’t ready to go, I think you’re opening day infield is Morse, Rodriguez, Mercer, Harrison. I think they truly believe that Alvarez was a replacement level player and that the drop between Harrison and Walker isn’t that great.

    Starting pitching? Not sure if they are willing to start the year with what they have or not. I think they have to sign someone but I don’t think they will be looking for a long-term or expensive contract with anyone. Until he signed I kind of thought Bartolo Colon was the guy.

    So basically, I think they are looking at free agents and making offers but I don’t think they will be willing to offer more than a one or two year deal to anyone and I don’t think that they are looking to pay market value either. That’s not a recipe for success in free agency. If they do add anyone to the roster between now and spring training, I think it will be late, after everyone else has made their moves.

    Again, I could be wrong. I hope I’m wrong. That’s just how I see it

    • The deadline could be interesting if they are out of it. I think Liriano and Harrison could be in play.

      • And that guy in CF…don’t forget him….

        • You know, I don’t know. Highly recommend what Schoenfield is saying on ESPNs Sweetspot blog. He opines some of these deep pocket teams are trying to clear salary and hang on to prospects for now. Then in 2018 you’re going to see a feeding frenzy.

          I don’t know what that means for Cutch. Why pay a ransom in prospects when he’ll just cost money one day.

          • In theory that sounds legit, but there will always be teams willing to pay. Look at the Miller and Kimbrel trades.

            • Guess it depends on his year. Maybe alongside Meadows progression.

              • I hate to put so much importance on any one thing…but I think how Meadows handles AA and, perhaps, AAA this season is going to determine a lot of things in the next 14 months.

                • I’ll be honest. I’m open to them trading Cutch, Polanco or Meadows right now for a good pitcher under contract for a few years.

                  I just think OF is the one position you can always find either FA or via trade. But I’m a win now guy.

                  • For 3 cost controlled years of an MVP candidate like Cutch, you had better get more than a good pitcher under contract. Cutch and Jameson Taillon to the Indians for Carrasco, Salazar and Frazier.

    • I think you’re right, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Get a core of young, cheap players that you can afford to add to is what the Cubs did, what the Dodgers appear to be doing, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Yankees do it too. But, it would be a shame to waste these years of affordable and productive McCutchen, Marte, Cole, and Liriano. And they are a pretty good team already, so I agree with you in the hopes they will still add a #3 starter. Otherwise, it’s: Cole, Liriano, Niese, Locke, and … Webster? Nicasio?

      • Agreed. If the Pirates kept Alvarez, Walker, and Morton and added another pitcher beside Niese they still weren’t going to out project the Cubs. Stay competitive, and add pieces and prospects as the season goes. Those aren’t the two very palpable thoughts but that is reality.

      • I didn’t say it was a bad thing, necessarily. I haven’t seen any of the young players play so I don’t really know how much better or worse they could be. In the long run, the young players have to play so it might be the absolute best thing for all of these guys to get significant playing time this year. However, I would expect growing pains this coming year, and I would expect a step backwards in the rankings. And, I honestly don’t understand why the young guys wouldn’t have gotten there at bats/ opportunities even if the Pirates held onto Walker Alvarez Morton or signed quality veterans. They really were not that far away from being great last year

        • Yes to growing pains, but they didn’t seem to hurt the Cubs much last year. I think we need to be sure to avoid the paradigm of: future performance of rookies is unknown, so therefore it must be bad.

      • Only until mid Summer when Glasnow and / or Taillon replace the poorest performers of the bunch.

    • morton’s money for the rest of the roster, pedro’s money for the arb cases’s.5 rookies after super 2 deadline and than will trade mm at the trade deadline.

    • You do know the major downside of this type of strategy is that they’re WASTING one of the 3 remaining years of their 2 homegrown superstars that WILL BE LEAVING when their deals are up. Total misuse of value.

  • Sign either Dae Ho Lee or Morneau. Sign Latos. Call it a day. Less than ideal, but could be okay.

    Oh and Pedro Florimon should not make 25 man roster. Bring up Hanson instead of him if needed. We already have 1 guy who cant hit, Srod. At least he’s capable of being competent. Pedro Florimon offers almost no chance at bat. His OPS is .557…yike

  • The J Happ contract is now looking pretty cheap comparatively speaking. I do believe at the time NH felt it was too rich. I’ll bet he has a different thought now!

    • I don’t know. Toronto may have gone to 40.

      Who knows? Charlie Morton somehow doesn’t explode in Phillys band box he may get something jawdropping.

  • Tim,
    If you were gm, knowing their money restrictions and needs as we all do. Who do you think they need to go after via fa or trade as of right now?

  • Any sense that Freeman is available? IDK inside outs of contract but would there be something possible?

    • No. That contract is too affordable now. Especially compared to what the 2018 FA market is going to do to contracts.

      Atlanta would foolish to move that for anything less than kings ransom plus.

  • How about both Odorizzi and Loney from the Rays for ?
    Rays are looking for young talent, have some young pitchers and seem to want to get rid of the Loney contract.

    • If they try to trade for a young arm, I would rather see someone like Julio Teheran. He would likely cost a lot, but I like his contract and prior work enough to justify that trade. Odorizzi is just a right handed version of Jeff Locke. The difference is he is right handed and gets less ground balls. Odorizzi had a good season, but I can’t see him repeating it. Locke xFIP 3.94, Odorizzi xFIP 3.96.

      • Idk about the Locke comparison, he pitches in the AL East and has posted better numbers in his career. Jon Heyman just tweeted that the dodgers are in talks about Odorizzi.

      • Odorizzi is better than Locke. Not sure why that comparison would even be made. Better stuff and results

      • Those are surprising xfips from those two though

    • I think you’re definitely on the right track, Cecil.

      Loney shouldn’t be particularly worse or more expensive than any of the other crappy 1B options readily available, plays good defense, makes a ton of contact, and reduces the prospects needed to pull off a trade for one of Tampa’s starters.

      • With loney it always is whether or not you can get him on a season where he gets locked in for 6 weeks or so. He has been known to hit .330 or so for a month or two then be mediocre otherwise. They need exactly that from him if he could have a nice April/may. Like the year with nady. Odorizzi in the deal would surely cost taillon.

        • Excellent point, Freddy.

          I want to say Taillon would be too much, but really he’s more in the Profar type of situation. Not terribly valuable as is, but could very, verrrry quickly restore his stock with a few healthy months of performance.

  • Something I wouldn’t do a full post on, but found interesting:

  • Do you think the “big plan” all along has been to sign the Korean guy?

    How do you think that would work out?

    Is Kelly Johnson a better option?

  • So my ? I’ll pose is this. Due to the backlash and multiple unfavorable moves combined with the fact they haven’t got any of impact. How do you think that effects the chance of a melancon trade? Will they hesitate to reduce poor public opinion? No effect and he’s still gone?

    • I just doubt they’ve gotten an offer that they like enough to move him. Remember he is almost guaranteed a QO after 2016 plus he’s worth about 1.5 WAR. Not to mention having one less bullpen arm to have to find. and most of their options that would cost a bunch of money are gone. I think ha may be staying, but certainly not because the public has something to say. NH doesn’t care, and shouldn’t care, about public perception when making his moves.

      • There isn’t any possible chance they give Melancon a QO.

        Well, I mean, maybe like a 2% chance. But that’s high.

        • Why not? He’ll be in line to make $30M+ on his next contract. I mean Michael Cuddyer rejected a QO a couple of years ago. If his numbers hold again, he’ll be one of the best relievers in the NL again. I don’t see how that doesn’t get him a QO.

          • I don’t think other teams value Melancon like that. He doesn’t miss the bats. For teams that play straight up defensively, they ain’t paying that for a pitch to contact guy who could blow up at any time.

            • I hear that other teams may not be as high on him, but Soria got $25M, Tony Sipp got $18M, heck John Axford got $10M! Saying that Melancon wouldn’t get more than any of those guys is unreasonable. He’ll be one of the top relievers on the market, and he will be paid as such.

              • IMO, Mark Melancon is not an 8 figure reliever. And it would be dangerous to pay him as such.

                • Your opinion seems to be one which lies against the obvious market value at this point. Even as a setup man, he has proved he is worth nearly that. With the Dodgers losing the Chapman deal, you might think they would want to add Melancon and use as the main setup man….

                  • Goes against what Schoenfield says on Espns Sweetspot. Dodgers are controlling their spending for now.

                    Hey, somebody just gave John Axford 5 per. So anything possible.

              • Remind me how many of those arms required their club to give up a 1st round draft pick?

            • Might be a bit premature to call him pitch to contact, he’s been 8 K/9 or more consistently and was just over 8 in the second half.

              Only time he’s seen that dip below 8 was early in this year due to a velo drop that recovered. Not a flamethrower for a closer, but plenty of missing bats that doesnt rely on premier defense to be good.

              • I wouldn’t bet 30-40 some million dollars on that. But that’s me.

                • Oh i wouldnt pay him that money for any reason. 3 year deal at 10 AAV for any closer is silly.

                  Id bet 10 million on a 1 year deal on it though for him.

                  • That’s the problem. He ain’t signing that.

                    It’s tricky with him. I’d like to have him for another year or two, but not for 20 million. Just can’t take the chance, since we’ve already seen troubling signs.

                    • Its not tricky. Dont sign him. If no one offers quality return, keep him this year.

                      You can easily take that chance this year. We havent seen troubling signs, since his K rate was fine all year and he was fine. Not elite per the prior season, but a fine closer.

                      Dont sign any closer to a multi year market level deal.

              • I reliever, especially in the back end of the pen, that doesn’t strike out a batter per inning is pitch to contact.

                • I disagree that all closers who dont K a man per inning are that. Its, for me, an asinine judgement.

                  He’s certainly less a K threat than many elite closers, but he doesnt pitch to contact by definition.

                  • Luke, just three of the top 30 relievers in baseball last year logged less than one strikeout per inning, and two were Mark Melancon and Tony Watson.

                    You can call my “judgement” whatever you want, but you have absolutely no basis in fact.

                    • Im basing it in the fact that you are putting arbitrary endpoints on what pitching to contact is. For closers, it apparently now means anything under 9/9. Im agreeing he’s low end without a doubt for closer, but that when he goes up and throws the ball he isnt throwing to contact.

                      He’s not doing that, and his K rate shows a guy not hoping for contact. By any rational measures.

                    • By any rational measure, except for the one where he’s compared relative to his peers. Like all other baseball players

                      But who would do something silly like that am i right?

                      You’re essentially saying that Neil Walker is a power hitter, period, because he posted an above average ISO. Well, yes, relative to *second basemen*, but no, relative to *first basemen*. The frame of reference very clearly matters.

                      Relative to starters, Melancon is a swing and miss guy, but Melancon is not a starter. Relative to his peers, Melancon is a contact manager. And that’s how he’ll be judged.

                    • All true. But if the Pirates play good defense behind him what does it matter how he gets them out? Teams with below average defense are going to value swing and miss closers more than the Pirates, with their defensive philosophy, might.

                    • Because this isn’t a conversation about the Pirates, it’s a conversation about his free agent value which would inherently determine whether or not to extend a QO.

                    • Since I often disagree with both of you and have no reason to side with either of you, let me say this: You both have good points. NMR, I’d say your metaphorical label of “pitch to contact” for a closer is probably accurate, but you are missing Luke’s point that Melancon is not a pitcher who is TRYING to pitch to contact, and those “types” of pitchers normally otherwise are ones who get that label. So, in my opinion, you are both right, but are looking at it in two different microscopes

                    • That’s fair.

                    • Top 30 relievers by what FIP-WAR?

                    • Yes.

                    • Think about that for a minute.

                    • Okay. *counts to 60*

                      Yep, still stand by what I said.

                    • Said pitchers all rank highly by this metric and a component that is used to compute the metric.

                    • And any reliever that would rank highly by other metrics would inherently fall into the category where I consider Melancon, contact managers.

                    • That is just another tautology.

                      I have no idea what Melancon’s perceived trade value, I just have an aversion to thinking less of a player because he doesn’t meet some ideal player type. I’d say he is worth more to the Pirates than other teams because they have seemed to value contact managers for some time. Ground balls, little to no walks, and above average K rate is pretty much the ideal relieve pitcher, I’d argue it is a more durable profile. Is it worth $10/year to Pirates again not sure.

                    • I couldn’t agree more.

                      But our entire current conversation is about *perceived* value.

                      Which is why I made the point in the first place.

          • No disagreement, but the Pirates very clearly do not operate in this manner.

            If they were too scared of committing $14m to AJ Burnett I see little, if any, indication they’d take the same chance on *any* reliever.

            • He’s been one of the steadiest relievers in the game over the passed 3 years. I wouldn’t call it taking a chance, and whatever the QO amount is, it will be pretty close to his WAR value for a season anyway. The likelihood that he rejects it is high, and Burnett’s case is much different. He said numerous times how he was only going to sign with the Pirates or retire. Therefore why would they offer that much money when they thought they had all of the negotiating power? Not really a reasonable way to view the FO stance on QO’s IMO.

              • I’m not QO Melancon, by rule relievers are volatile spend your resources were returns are more certain.

            • Two different situations. Burnett was looking for a short-term deal, and had also expressed interest in only remaining in Pittsburgh.

              Melancon will be looking for the biggest deal possible, and will have some big offers in free agency.

              They made QOs to Martin and Liriano. The Burnett situation was more about them believing he would only want to play for them, and not wanting to drive up the price by adding insurance that they thought they wouldn’t need. Melancon fits the Martin/Liriano mold.

            • This would be a stronger point if there was a non AJ example to go on. Considering his retirement talk, and that he walked away from more money to come back a year later, its completely reasonable to think that at the time they expected they could retain him for less than the QO.

              • You certainly have a point, and I won’t go too far into arguing conjecture, but do you remember all the talk about X% of salary to one player from Huntington? I do think he believed *if* AJ didn’t retire that he’d give them a hefty discount, but I also don’t trust that he was actually willing to chance Burnett taking $14m. I’d be shocked if he took that chance with Melancon at $16m+.

                • I do remember that. I’m not sure if I bought that as his true thoughts or if it was more pr damage control. I can’t think of another possibly QO worthy player who they didn’t extend one to.

    • One thing this FO seems comfortable with is not caring about public opinion of trades.

      Which isnt a comment on if they will/wont move Melancon (i think he stays) but “poor public opinion” isnt something the FO cares much about. Or hasnt in almost any move to this point.

  • They are in a tight spot… they have holes in April that realistically shouldn’t all still be holes in July. Bell, Hanson, Glasnow, Taillon — they should be able to get some production out of each of those guys. Maybe even Kingham later on. So it’s hard to improve the team without committing to someone you don’t think you’ll need beyond June at best, or next year at worst.

    That said, I’d still like to see them
    1. deal Melancon -10M
    2. sign Kazmir +15M (3/$45m)
    3. sign Masterson +3M (1/$3m)
    4. sign Blanton +3M (2/$6m)
    5. sign Jaso +6M (2/$12)
    6. move Locke to the bullpen

    Net cost for all these moves would be +17m, which would put them around $106M.

    I know they don’t like to make big commitments to players, but having a legit 3rd starter would be the biggest improvement they can make to this team. They ought to steel themselves to the idea of paying market rate to fill at least one hole (besides bench infielder, i.e. Rodriguez).

    If Glasnow and Taillon are ready in July and miraculously they have no injuries, they can easily trade one of their starters — teams always need pitching. This would give them a killer bullpen, too, with Watson, Hughes, Caminero. Blanton, Nicasio, Locke + one of Scahill/Holdzkom/Webster/Rondon/Laframboise.

    My previous version of this plan had them dealing Melancon + Hanson + whatever else needed for Odor and Moreland. Which would basically fast forward 2B by two years from potential (Hanson) to actual (Odor). And then they wouldn’t need to sign Jaso, since Moreland/Morse could bridge the gap to Bell.

    • I will offer some critique and change to your proposal above. I would like to see the following:

      1. Deal Melancon -10M
      2. Sign Kazmir +16.5M (3/49.5m) (more realistic price?)
      3. Sign Masterson +4.5M
      4. Move Locke to bullpen
      5. Sign Bullpen arm +3M
      6. Wait for Bell, and Taillon or Glasnow (Bell starts at 1B; Taillon or Glasnow replaces Masterson one month into season)
      7. Add a 3B or 2B at all-star break to provide more power in line-up

      Net costs of off-season moves would be +14m, which would put them around $103M. This would give them some money to spend at all-star break on a 2B or 3B.

      • I think pretty much every one wants to see that #3 starter added. And the only decent guys left out there are Kazmir and Chen, and Chen costs a draft pick too. Iwakuma is apparently a FA again after he failed a physical. But, that’s because he failed a physical. Plus he’d cost a draft pick too.

    • Do you think Nicasio could be a legit placeholder in the rotation until Glasnow and taillon arrive?

      • I think there is maybe a 1/3 chance he could pitch competently as a starter, and maybe a 1/20 chance he could pitch like a #3 starter. That is based on the fact that he wasn’t terrible as a SP pitching in Colorado, and that Searage & co have help similar pitchers excel before. His fastball velocity hasn’t noticeably declined over time, but he has below average swinging strike rates on both his fastball and slider. I would really like him better as a depth option / project than as someone you have to count on.

      • No more than Blanton could….

    • I’d rather keep Melancon rather than sign Blanton and Jaso.

  • I think Morse is going to be a lot better than people expect, but I think Kelly Johnson makes a lot of sense instead of Morneau and especially Loney. A guy who is a lefty platoon guy who can also play 2nd and outfield. Makes less sense now with S-Rod back in the fold, but still a decent addition given cost/potential value.

    I like the idea of Latos a lot. I think they should see what Cliff Lee will demand too. Masterson seems like more hype than actual upside, I would pass on him. I’d also like to hear some info on Henderson Alvarez. If he’s healthy they should probably check him out too.

    As for the bullpen, I see lots of minor league contract with invites to spring training. Blanton is going to be too much for NH I think, and same for Bastardo, although considering what he was making last year, maybe not.

    I won’t count out a pretty significant trade for a starter though. NH has cards up his sleeve yet, we just haven’t heard about them.

  • Today is a slow, slow day.
    Maybe you can provide your input on a 1B I saw elsewhere who may be available via trade.
    What would be your feelings about Prince Fielder? Going into his age 32 season this LH hitter has 5 years of future contracts. They are all for $24MM/yr, but the Tigers are responsible for $6MM/yr. If Texas would fork over an additional $3MM/yr, reducing the cost to the PBC to $15MM/yr, would it be worth the risk?
    FWIW, I’m a little more against this than for it. But. might make for interesting views.

    • I don’t like it. A fat out of shape first baseman who will be losing bat speed. And still a significant cost

      • Baseball really needs a salary cap. This offseason has been outraged. I thought the decline in steroid use would help keep the salaries down but I guess I was wrong. These owners have more money than brains. Wouldn’t it be great if they took the TV money and used it to keep the ticket prices down and invest on improving the fan experience at the ballpark? Instead the money is going directly into the players pockets. Very sad!!!!!

    • They would never ice up enough salary for us to do it and we would never give up enough top prospects.

  • Far too late at this point to be discussing a “plan” for the offseason, but here we are. What about rethinking the question Travis Sawchik posed in his blog this week…are the Pirates better off targeting risk/reward or safety from here on out? Avoid the awful, or take a chance on impact talent?

    The floor is yours…

    • The only way j see anything happening is by trade and then I don’t see the potential trade targets. I Definately don’t have a warm and fuzzy feeling about this offseason. I wonder if the Pirates could do it all over again the would have signed Happ and kept Walker and Pedro.

      • Very fair question, and the risk you run when getting rid of a player(s) before actually finding his replacement. Poor strategy, IMO.

      • I doubt that….but who knows. If we want Pedro, we can still go resign him. I doubt it will take the 8 million we just saved. As for signing Happ- I’d still rather have Latos or Kazmir, so lets see what happens first. As for trading Walker, I can’t think of any reason why they’d regret that at this point.

    • I think they have to go with risk/reward cause the safety guys left aren’t that safe anyway. The only way they legitimately can keep pace at this point is to hit the reward side on a few of those guys.

      • Very much agree.

        Not even that sure if “safe” bets make this team more than a few wins better than worst case scenario performances from high beta players, and a few wins won’t move the needle.

    • All of us naysayers are going to be shocked when Maeda and Davis are inked next week.

      But, back on planet Earth…I honestly can’t figure out what the ‘plan’ is.

      I felt retaining Alvarez was (painfully) necessary…now that rumors are starting to swirl around Loney, that’s why I held the opinion…there’s just not a lot of talent out there at the position for the price the Pirates are willing to pay.

      I didn’t mind the trading of Walker. There were two open spots in the rotation as I couldn’t foresee this team putting both Locke and Morton in the starting five. Walker’s total contribution was nearly replaceable, with improved defense at the position. So, sign a Kazmir or trade for a true #3, and push Locke into long man, spot starter…was, I thought the way to go. But now that Morton has been traded…there are still two open spots in the rotation and number of the non-reclamation projects is dwindling. So, if the team moves, it appears it’s going to be forced into bringing in a couple of fixable arms…of course, with the price of pitching these days, bringing in ‘two Latos” as Travis asks, is no longer a $10M option…the price will be nearly double that. So, I don’t see ‘two Latos” on the horizon…more realistically it’ll be one Latos-type and one Clayton Richard…and, if that’s the case, why not Kazmir instead?

      Perhaps all will be revealed in the coming weeks and the master plan will be evident…from what I’m seeing now, it looks like it’s been payroll and quality reduction.

      • I’m really starting the get the feeling that they’ve misread the market.

        I give them enough credit to assume that they had some sort of plan going into the winter, but at this point there’s been far too much fragmented direction for me to truly believe they’re still on Option A, B, or even C.

        It just doesn’t seem to be in Huntington’s DNA as a GM to reverse course and do something big, which is to his credit at this stage. Bad decisions get made when they’re done out of desperation.

        At this point, I’d much prefer upside plays and use 2016 as a year to break in the kids if those fail by July.

        • I agree…which is why I don’t understand the miss on Kim…unless scouts saw something. A lefty who can play 1st and get on base? Heck, I don’t think anyone expects him to be Rizzo, but, if he plays adequate defense and has a league-average OPS…that’s a heckuva lot of upside for $4M. Add in his ability to play the outfield and he retains value as a sub if/when Bell arrives.

          That’s just one example, but this entire off-season has appeared to be a rudderless mystery….Happ, Soria, Alvarez, Walker, and Morton have been lost…Niese and Nicasio been gained? If Huntington has a rabbit in that hat, he’s got about eight weeks to pull it out.

          • Still not sold on Kim as any help *in the role the Pirates need*, aka 1B. League average OPS and just adequate defense at 1B makes him a 1-win player, at best.

            Honestly, that’s probably as good as they’re going to end up doing anyways so I suppose there’s still merit in signing him, but the bar *should* be higher.

            I said the other day that I really do love what they’ve done with the pen thus far, but they’ve clearly taken a step backwards otherwise.

            • Many seem to discount the possibility that Morse could turn out to be a “high upside” player, and he is already on the payroll. If he played up to his career averages (.276/.333/.461/.794) with 24 AB / HR, which implies 23 HR over 550 AB, would anyone seriously complain? Probably not. And can anyone justify rolling the dice on Kim, with the adjustment from the KBL, and guarantee better production than Morse’s career average? Now Morse’s start in Miami places doubt on whther he will meet his career averages, but this is a contract year for him. Why can’t we hope for a year that is better than his averages? As much as I hate the thought of it, Serpico could back up Morse until Bell is ready. The big missing piece is a #3 starter. I think they were surprised by Toronto’s interest in Happ, and didn’t want to pull the trigger on the third year. With the young arms coming and his age that was probably the wise thing to do. But it makes bridging to July an adventure if the don’t sign someone. On the otherhand, could they be over .500 at the AllStar Break with the present team, poised to make a run with the addition of Glasnow and/or Taillon, yes they could.

              • I’m not “discounting” that possibility at all.

                What I am doing is accounting for the *probability* of him reaching that high upside, which is terribly low.

              • I absolutely hope he hits his upside, as should you and every other Pirate fan. I was a vocal supporter of his acquisition last year as a sneaky-smart way to fill the RH platoon role in exchange for a player which the Pirates had no use.

                But contending teams do not build on a wing and a prayer.

    • I think one of the reasons (other than price) they’ve been reluctant to chase a 2nd or 3rd tier pitcher is to avoid blocking their young arms. A number of those guys look like they could arrive within the next 18 months.

      Not saying I necessarily agree with that, just what it appears to me. Depending how you look at it, they are all 6 year deals that cost 1.5 million the first 3years.

      First base? Get your Josh Bell tshirt around Memorial Day.

      • In the absence of information we tend to try to make sense of it, i.e. (A) they haven’t done it yet because they don’t want to, versus (B) they haven’t done it yet but still want to.

        Aside from Happ, are there any SP that signed that the Pirates would have wanted at that price? Maybe Lackey, but not with the draft pick attached. So, maybe it’s just B and we’re all anxious.

        OTOH, I share your feeling it might be A, and I hope it’s not true… you can never have too much pitching, and it’s easy to trade it if you have it.

        • I would say Happ is the only reasonable option that they could have signed unless kazmirs price drops into the same range

  • Just wanted to say thanks to Tim, John, and everyone else for a very entertaining off season thus far. Tough to generate much interest this time of year, but the topics and conversations have been fantastic.

  • Can you get $10 off of the E-Copy of the book too?

    • Also, when can the eBook be ordered? I’m sure Tim’s mentioned it and apologize in advance for being lazy.

      • To answer both questions here: the eBook will go on sale tomorrow when the book is officially released. There will be discounts available for subscribers.

  • So…if I had to guess, here’s who I see (realistically) coming to the Pirates:

    Latos and / or Masterson
    Morneau or Loney
    Bastardo and a group of unheralded reliever types. Maybe even Matt Harrison? I would also hope for Blanton.

    Other than that, I can’t of any realistic choices that NH can sign.

    I also don’t think Melancon is being dealt unless NH wants prospects back.

    However, pls don’t put ANY money on this happening. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Now who I WANT is a whole ‘nother matter, lol.

    • 2nd name pairing line is ugly. Loney shouldnt be sought after by any team. I get the logic of Morneau, but his line outside of Coors makes me think you end up paying 8-10 million for good defense and a poor hitter. Jordy Mercer already occupies that space for PGH lol.

    • I tend to agree lee.
      I think you are spot on with the SPs. And if we are not paying for a good SP like Kazmir, We should be able to afford Bastardo and spare pen parts.

      As for 1B, if we win out on Kim, we’re probably done there. As an alternative to old man Morneau, there is the younger (and hated) Ike Davis. But is he really any worse now?

      I still think SS is a very real risk to this team. I think a long term injury to Cotch, Cole, or Liriano sinks the team – and there is not much that can be done about that. But with the reasonable pick ups you mention, we could withstand injuries at almost any position – except SS where there is no MLB-level replacement on the team, in AAA, or in AA. Therefore, I would like to see if there is something to be done about replacing Florimon and “pushing” Mercer.

      • Didn’t Kim sign/or be expected to sign with Balt?
        Absolutely would like to have Bastardo back.
        Please come up with someone at SS. My old age memory has kicked in, but the Mets have a guy (hit a late season game winner after being booed earlier. Also maybe taken out in slide, ala Kang).

    • BuccosFanStuckinMD
      December 17, 2015 12:56 pm

      I like upside of Latos, but not Masterson (Kazmir is the pipe dream)
      Morneau and Loney – not enthused by either, although Loney is top shelf glove wise
      Bastardo? Please no….not worth the money he would cost…
      Blanton – I thought he retired?

    • I agree for most part other then I do see melancon leaving for middle relief and prospects

    • Masterson or some kind of Clayton Richard minor league invite type like last year.

      I don’t see more than 5 million spent on anyone player from here on out, barring a Melancon trade.

    • Lee, I know you are an expert, but from what I have been reading
      Bastardo is going to get “silly” money and totally out of our
      range of ability for the FO to consider signing.

    • Expert….

    • I also would like Bastardo to return, but I see he looking for Sipp money at about $6M per. It’s not gonna happen here. I would be happy with Morneau and Masterson because we only need semi-productive placeholders until the kids graduate to the show. No need spending assets for a few short months, while these bounce-backs have upside as well.

      • Loney would be cheaper than Morneau, so that’s a more logical choice if you are sold on it being a 1/2 year- at least Loney makes a good late inning defense replacement which Bell will need

  • The one thing I have noticed about this offseason and maybe the last couple is some of the fine print in these large deals. Lot of deferred money, more and more of these opt out clauses. It also seems like its been awhile since the last “team friendly” deal has been signed league wide…Found David Schoenfield’s stuff on Harper and the 2018 FA class very interesting…Would be interested in what everyone thought of those things

    It appears to me with this current TV deal situation,its going to increasingly be a heavy cross to bear.

    • The Pirates are still a few years away from a new TV Deal, and we are going to have to lean heavily on the kids matriculating through the system until then. However, as St Louis is finding out, access to increased assets can always be trumped by bigger money. The Pirates will have to aggressively try to sign our stars before they think about leaving. They have done so with Marte, but are struggling with Gregory Polanco – I think they have been turned down twice now.

      • I thought because of the TV deal they would have put lil more then usual into payroll to keep winning and create more leverage for negotiations down road. I guess not.

        • I agree with you that the Pirates must maintain this streak of excellence going into the negotiations for the next TV deal. That was my reasoning for suggesting a 6 year extension for ‘Cutch because he is our brightest homegrown star and one of the most recognizable guys in the sport of baseball. I was at 6/$120 on a bell curve where he gets up over $20 mil early in the extension, stays $20+ mil a few years and then dropping down under $20 mil in his last 2 years.

      • Probably why they have the death grip on prospects. Their only path to high end talent.

        • Well, this is true regardless of the TV deal situation.

          • I don’t know, for a little while 2012-2014 they seemed more open to it.

            I think the prices of things have tightened their grip further. Seriously, an elite closer/legit #3 is probably going to be 15 million here soon.

            • Right, I guess my point was even if we get a better TV deal, there will still be more money for FAs in the big markets. You’re right though, it could help in the short term. But I feel like when the FA market values eventually adjust to the increasing TV deals league wide, the Pirates will end up back in the same spot again relative to other clubs/markets.

              • Yep. Already swinging that way…my concern is what happens to the 6 years of control, arbitration, super 2 so forth…the agents and players look hell bent on changing that. Along with putting an end to team friendly extensions. The opt outs already having an effect.

                • Yeh, I just hope the increasingly player-friendly options and insane amounts of guaranteed money in veteran contracts come with the compromise of keeping the team-friendly rookie control rules intact. That’s all small market clubs have, and those clubs need to compete occasionally for the league to survive. I don’t think the most player-friendly “CBA” in all of sports would be jeopardized by the union for the sake of extra rookie benefits. Plus, they already have arbitration and Super Two in their favor for productive rookies.

                  • I think changing the rookie salary rules will probably happen very gradually. Any increase in the amount that year 1-3 players get means less money for the older guys, and the union, made up mostly of players who have already endured the “small” paychecks of years 1-3, probably won’t vote to support a drastic overhaul that will cost its members money. If they already went through it but are now poised for their big payday, why would they want to give some of that payday away? (Aside from it probably being the “right” thing to do)