First Pitch: Alen Hanson or Max Moroff — Why Not Both?

Max Moroff vs Alen Hanson.

It’s a debate that has already started, as you’d expect from a situation where there is a long-term need at a position, and two prospects in the upper levels who could fill the spot.

In one corner, you’ve got Hanson. He’s been on the prospect radar for a much longer period of time. He’s a level higher than Moroff, and the higher rated prospect, although he’s coming off a year where his performance wasn’t great, and his value slipped a bit. In a prospect world where “What have you done for me lately?” is one of the only things people consider, Hanson has done enough to open the door for the debate.

Then there’s Moroff. A year ago, the Pirates could have traded him and no one would have noticed. I actually had to explain why he was getting playing time in Altoona at the start of this season. Then he breaks out with a .783 OPS in Altoona, and suddenly he’s the shiny new toy with zero flaws.

But we rated Moroff behind Hanson in our rankings. And another thing about prospect rankings is that hyperbole rules all. Rankings create a sense of competition, and putting one guy ahead of another guy means the better ranked prospect wins, and the lower ranked prospect loses. You aren’t giving credit to a guy unless you say he’s the best prospect. Putting Hanson above Moroff is seen as a knock against Moroff, rather than labeling both of them good players, with one more valuable than the other.

A focus on recent performance only. A shiny new toy. A clear line between two players, while ignoring the reports that both are good prospects. This is how we get the Hanson vs Moroff debate.

To be honest, it’s a debate worth having. It’s what you do when evaluating prospects. But there’s a reason we picked Hanson as the better prospect, even though Moroff is the flavor of the month right now.

For one, the recent performance needs some perspective. In this case, it’s age. Moroff had a .783 OPS, while Hanson had a .701 OPS. But Hanson had his numbers at a higher level. Hanson went through Altoona a year younger than Moroff. He posted a .768 OPS during that stretch, which isn’t far off the numbers that Moroff had this year.

Hanson was also better in Bradenton and West Virginia. Moroff hadn’t broken out yet, as things didn’t click for him yet. So the past numbers don’t carry as big of a weight, except that Hanson has a better track record. Hanson is coming off a down year after posting good numbers at every other level. The idea that he won’t post good numbers going forward, even though the hitting tools are still there, is wrong. Meanwhile, Moroff has a largely inconsistent track record, but finally put together a strong year after some key adjustments. But will those stick?

In 2014 we saw Elias Diaz have a breakout season in Altoona, after putting up inconsistent numbers at every other level. The numbers from Diaz in Altoona were better than the numbers Moroff put up. He also had a strong second half in Bradenton the year before, leading to some pretty good overall results. And yet this year he had a .711 OPS in Indianapolis during his first run through Triple-A. That’s slightly higher than Hanson’s performance, and raised the same doubts about Diaz and his future.

My question is this: what makes Moroff a guarantee that he will avoid the struggles Hanson and Diaz saw in their jumps to Triple-A?

There was a bit of a crack in the armor for Hanson, but I’m not assuming he’s done just because he didn’t tear it up in Triple-A at the age of 22. Likewise, I’m not assuming the road ahead for Moroff will be without any bumps or delays, just because he looked great this year in Altoona. The “What have you done lately?” approach punishes Hanson for being at a higher level, and assumes Moroff will succeed with the same jump that others have struggled with.

I don’t want to say it’s a bad thing that Hanson and Diaz struggled a bit this year. It won’t be a bad thing if Moroff struggles in the same way in 2016. It’s just when you take all of this into consideration, the recent performance of both players becomes less of a driving factor in the comparison.

The bigger factor would be the comparison of the tools. Hanson at least edges out Moroff in all of the five tool categories, and outright beats him in some categories.

Speed would be one of those areas where Hanson has the outright win.

I’d give a big edge to Hanson on defense. I felt he could play shortstop if it wasn’t for the inconsistencies that he had with routine plays. It was a frustrating experience where you’d see him make an amazing play deep in the hole, showing off his range, and showing the arm strength needed to stick at the position. Then, on the very next play, he’d boot a routine grounder, or make a weak throw that would miss the first baseman. There was no obvious solution for this, although the problems seemed to disappear in his move to second base. Now you’ve got a guy who should be playing shortstop providing strong defense at second. Moroff was also a shortstop at first, but never looked like a guy who could stick at the position as a starter. He’s improving his defense at second base, but Hanson beats him in range, edges him out in arm strength (another tool comparison), and has a better overall feel for the position.

Both guys can hit for power, and neither are going to be great power hitters. I’d give Hanson the edge here, since his results have been much better, especially with over-the-fence power. Moroff looks more limited to gap power, which isn’t a big problem, but doesn’t give him the advantage over Hanson.

The hit tool is complicated. Hanson is an excellent hitter from the left side, but struggles from the right side. Moroff really improved this year, but how much of those improvements will stick? He also did better from the right side against left-handers, which has been the case throughout his career.

The comparison of tools is why I personally don’t make it very deep in the Hanson vs Moroff debate. Early in the season, before Moroff was on the radar as a breakout guy and just starting his breakout campaign, I got a David Eckstein comp from a long-time American League scout. That seems like a good comparison for a ceiling. A guy who won’t be a flashy starting option, but won’t be a bad one either. He doesn’t impress in any one area with his game, but does everything well enough to be a guy who grows on you.

As for Hanson, he’s a guy who also does everything well enough, but also has some tools that really stand out. He’s a guy who could be a flashy starting option. He won’t be a star at his position, but he could become an above-average regular due to his skills.

But let’s go back to that last tool comparison, because that’s where I really focus on Moroff and Hanson together. Hanson has a track record of struggling against left-handers, which is his biggest flaw now that his defensive issues are resolved. Moroff has a history of being better against left-handers.

So rather than debating Hanson vs Moroff, why not discuss Hanson and Moroff? After all, who says the future starting position can only be filled by one of these players? Hanson could be the primary starter, and Moroff could spell him against left-handers. When Hanson is starting, Moroff could fill in at other infield spots off the bench, or as a pinch hitter. Moroff started learning third base last year, and got some time at shortstop. I’d expect him to do the same thing in 2016, getting prepared to break into the majors in a utility role.

Having a future platoon of Hanson and Moroff seems to be combining the best of both players. You remove Hanson’s biggest weakness, and Moroff’s skills become more valuable off the bench in a smaller role, rather than expecting those skills to play up as a regular starter (not unlike how Josh Harrison has more value to the Pirates as a super utility guy than a starter). If both players continue their current paths, with the same strengths and weaknesses, then a platoon would be the best route to take in this situation.

**Pittsburgh Pirates 2016 Top Prospects: #17 – Max Moroff. We will be rolling out a player per day for the top 20 countdown. If you buy your copy of the Prospect Guide, you’ll get all of the reports, along with our grades, and the reports of the 21-50 prospects and every other player in the system. It’s the most information you can find on the Pirates’ system, and the cheapest price you can find for a prospect book this time of year, especially with the Top Prospect and Annual discounts.

**Pirates Sign RHP Trey Haley, Release Guido Knudson. Another day. Another hard throwing right-handed relief option signed. The Pirates almost have enough of those guys to fill two bullpens.

  • If MM is such a high end player insert him a SS and keep Hanson at 2nd. Mercer is such a high end player [in his own mind] that in a trade he would fetch about 5 used bats or another Voglesong.

  • Frazier will also be in the mix for second base….

  • I think everyone knows I am not a Hanson fan, but I am not very knowledgeable. I will say though, give him some MLB chances this year while Moroff is working in AAA
    and if Hanson does not work out then Moroff is
    up in September.

  • I have one slight area of disagreement Tim. In all the games I watched Hanson play at SS, he never showed me the arm that is essential for that position full time in MLB. The rest of your analysis is Terrific.

  • Why didn’t you include Adam Frazier in the mix for this discussion Tim?

  • I have a feeling Frazier is going to be better than both these guys. I know he is older. His K/BB #s are excellent.

    • Defense is much worse. No power. Also a year older than both of them.

      • I’ll take the guy with elite contact skills. I’ve heard different reports on his defense. Check out Panik’s ISO in double A compared to Panik

        You keep talking about age, you do realize Hanson’s MLE’s are very bad even for his age?

        • MLE’s are based on stats, and Hanson didn’t have good stats this year. What I’m saying is that the tools are better than the numbers we’ve seen.

          • He hasn’t had a great MLE since 2012. And since then the jury has pretty much confirmed he can’t stick at SS.

          • A lot of guys in the minors have tools better than the numbers they post don’t they?

            • It’s usually a scale. The younger you are, the more you rely on tools to predict future upsides. The older you get, the more you rely on stats.

              • Just my opinion but I think Hanson is considerably overhyped. I’m well aware of his tools but he doesn’t get on base and makes average contact. We can talk about his age but his bat has regressed at each level since his 2012 breakout.

                I’m always intrigued by guys who show elite ability to make contact even if they don’t have flashy tools. Look at Matt Duffy who no one gave a chance because they said he couldn’t drive the ball. Look at his age 23 season in double A. Not an exact mirror but not far off Frazier, just slightly higher ISO.

                Even look at Brock Holt at age 24.

              • When you go back the last 7-8 years at Triple A for guys age 22 or older playing second base who put up #s similar to Hanson WRC+ of 100, WOBA of 321 and OBP of 313 and did much of anything I’m not seeing a long list.

                Guys who had years similar or worse for that age and level and have had a MLB career were guys like Scooter Gennet, Lombardozzi, Alexei Amarista- I’m sure I missed some but I’d like to see those tools start translating to some numbers real soon.

    • Dont forget about…

  • Brian Cartwright has posted some equivalencies for Hanson and they are really pretty bad. It should be emphasized this DOES take into account Hanson’s age for each level which is often used to excuse his recent performance. He also had pretty bad equivalencies from baseball HQ and that was before his mediocre year last year.

  • Second base is sort of a bastard position, players can’t field well enough at SS or don’t hit well enough to play a corner end up there. I think this idea of this debate is a bit premature, but if you are going to platoon at 2nd base both players better offer the proverbial positional flexibility.

    • Seems like the team has begun preparing them for that. Hanson getting work at 3B, Moroff getting some swiss army knife treatment.

      It’d be a platoon, but it’d feel little different than having Harrison on the bench (Harrison-lite maybe) where one guy rovers between 3B, 2B, etc for playing time while the other plays mostly at 2B.

      • But there is a pretty strict limit to how many of these type of players you want on a roster. Several rover, super utility, whatever guys indicate that they aren’t good enough to hold down a position, and that your starters have some serious holes.

        • I dont see it that way. If the team is dedicated to the idea of keeping starters fresh and at their best late into the season, rostering 2 guys that cover up the holes of a starter is just good roster formation.

          Id love to have a roster full of guys without holes, but inevitably every roster has a few starters that are fine but with areas of issue. If we can mask those even slightly and in doing so keep a guy from playing 158 games a year, seems like worth a shot.

          I do agree you dont want all your bench players to be that super utility guy, but bench players able to play multiple spots is a positive. It does indicate they arent starter quality, but have enough talent in areas to absolutely contribute.

          • But how many utility guys who can play middle infield provide significant offensive value? It is a small, small population, what is passable offense at 2B, isn’t elsewhere.

  • I would lpve to see a platoon at 2nd this year between the 2 of them with the other being a super utility under an affordable team control for several years. The Pirates are paying around $7 million to their current utility infielders (Harrison and S-Rod).
    I prefer the Pirates approach of developing the utility guys that Hurdle loves rather than paying $3m (S-Rod) for a veteran that can do it – especially when they have the youth and upside to win one of the infield jobs (Kang) and make your bench even stronger.

  • I have a question about who or what determines a player becoming or continuing to be a switch hitter. The same thing applies to Bell as well as Hanson, but when a switch hitter shows good skills on one side of the plate and is questionable on the other, what makes them assume that it wouldn’t be better to use the benefit of the more natural side swing and lose the opposite pitching matchup. Obviously not everyone is blessed to be a switch hitter and when you still show big platoon splits then maybe you aren’t a switch hitter?

    • Case in point Neil Walker. I believe that he maintained his switch hitting because he believed it would enhance his financial value. It was mentioned a number of times that the PBC wanted him to concentrate on LH at bats. I think the player if determined will continue to be a switch irrespective of the splits.

      • Walker always said it’s because he would be much worse hitting lefties as a left-hander than as a right-hander, which makes sense, because he had very little LH vs LH experience.

        I don’t recall it ever being mentioned that the Pirates wanted him focusing on hitting left-handed vs lefties.

        • Hanson and Bell (and maybe walker but I never followed him as a prospect) seem like they’re switch hitters only because they already were before they entered the pirates system. So some coach from highschool or maybe even little league told Bell to try to from both sides. I just wonder what the process would be like for the Pirates to pull the plug on a switch hitter attempt at 18, 19, 20 years old. Is there an example of this elsewhere in the system? Conversely, it doesn’t seem like the pirates take a young player and try to convert him into a switch hitter. The process just seems arbitrary and not very talent based.

  • Should have never traded Aramis Ramirez! But I agree they probably could of easily traded Luis Heredia —-But Byrd should of been extended.

    • “Should have never”

      What you’re thinking of is “Should’ve”, the contraction.

      C’mon Bill…And I was gonna send you a case of your favorite craft beer up until your foo paw, er ah, faux pas.

      • Of course, in MY world, “Shudda” works, too.

      • I’m very sorry. I can’t use age as an excuse, poor eye-site or getting ready for a dentist appointment. I can use the excuse I was up all night aching with an infection though.

        • “eye-site”?? On THIS sight???

          Seriously, no biggie…I love to have fun with words.

          I sure hope the dentist can cure your ills. I have sinuses that, when they act up, my teeth hurt. It is not a picnic.

          Get well soon, my friend.

          • Thanks. I have been on a one month picnic.

            • I wouldn’t have made it two days. I would’ve gone in and gotten it taken care of asap. I have a low tolerance for pain. I am a “It hurts…fix it NOW” kind of guy.

  • You trade one for something else you need. I would do this for the simple fact they have even more 2nd base types behind them even. With Harrison under contract no less.
    But, no. It will be prospect deathgrip, “Prospect Separation Syndrome” as Smizik put it. We’ll hang on to both, they’ll both hit .240. The shine will wear off.And the reallocation wheel in the sky keeps on turning.

    • But what if the guy you trade turns out to be Dilson Herrera and you get stuck with the worst one of the 3 (Herrera, Hanson, Moroff).

      • Dilson Herrera is so awesome he’s behind Neil Walker on the depth chart again.

        • Yes wasn’t he that yinzer that played for Pittsburgh? Or was that Luke Walker? or Neil Skywalker? or the Texas Ranger guy?

        • He needs one more year of development according to “Amazin Avenue” blog.

          PRNW is the bridge.

          Dilson is (I think) their number one position prospect.

          • SufferinBuccotash
            January 8, 2016 10:31 am

            And yet they still felt the need to trade for Neil Walker.

            A low A second baseman for a starting RF who helped the Pirates get to the Wild Card spot and the division series is a trade I’d make every year, unless that low A second baseman was the second coming of Joe Morgan.

            Herrera was batting .265 with a .751 OPS in low A when he was traded. Hanson was hitting .281 with a .783 OPS in high A and had just gotten promoted to AA. He was clearly the better prospect of the two players at the time of the trade.

            You can’t look at the .340 & .327 averages Herrera put up the next 2 years in AA & AAA and say “Well obviously he was the better prospect”, when he hadn’t done anything close to that previously.

            In 2 years if Trey Supak has much better numbers that Mitch Keller, I’m sure you’ll be making the “Well clearly they should have kept Supak and traded Keller” post.

          • They dont really list him as a prospect anymore, since he’s spent time on the ML roster.

    • Who wants either of those guys? Moroff is not rated high enough for teams to be in the market for him, and Hanson lost some external value this past season.

      • “Package deal” with something else as Dejan Kovacevic doesn’t like to say.

        Hell, if you like them so much than trade Newman or Kramer (Gasp!)

        Nope. We are going to hang on to the bitter, shitty end like we did with Tony Montana.

        • Artie PBC hung onto Tony for the entertainment value.

        • Eric Marshall
          January 8, 2016 10:01 am

          Held onto Tony until Eliaz Diaz broke out. Prior to that we needed him to get better. Once Eliaz broke out Tony had the throwing issues and his value dropped. No way to trade him. Step away from DK and Smoron… i mean Smizik. Being out of town i laugh every time i am forced to read the negative drivel these two spill out about the Pirates. Pittsburgh media is pathetic to say the least.

    • Now you got me singing Journey.

    • Tommy DeVito: No more shines, Billy.

      Billy Batts: What?

      Tommy DeVito: I said, no more shines. Maybe you didn’t hear about it, you’ve been away a long time. They didn’t go up there and tell you. I don’t shine shoes anymore.

      Billy Batts: Relax, will ya? Ya flip right out, what’s got into you? I’m breaking your balls a little bit, that’s all. I’m only kidding with ya…

      Billy Batts: [takes a drink] Now go home and get your f@#$@in’ shinebox.

    • The Mets have Wilmer Flores, Dilson Herrera and Amed Rosario starting in AA, but still traded for NL Walker.

      Read about some other teams and you could offer some more informed takes, instead the same daily table pounding.

      • I’ll keep pounding it Andrew. You yourself have stated on more than one occasion the Pirates turnaround is due more from the veteran additions brought in from the outside, more than their internal cultivation.

        You just watched them cut two 1st round picks. Read an article on how godawful the 09 draft was, how bad the prep pitcher route has been.

        But thanks for quoting some shit you read in Baseball America and regurgitating like it’s your own.

        • I analogize for reading about subject that interest me. I have a visceral reaction when I see professional carpers quoted, it is a volume game, which means those who like to dwell on failure don’t have to look far. What sense does it make to spin-off ever prospect that shows some semblance of value?

          Maybe Hanson and Moroff produce little value, and Pirates suffer for it, but it isn’t all bad it will be the second golden age for fatalistic complaining Pirates’ fans of the internet. Maybe anti-Nutting faction numbers will swell, at least they were interesting.

          • It’s the next great battle smart guys like you, Tim and NMR will deal with.

            “Where the @#%& are all these middle infielders we spent premium picks on” Sure to be a Dejan rant 2020, if things go wrong,

            • It’s sports, someone is always losing, at some level I can’t blame Smizik, Dejan, and most of local opinion columnist profession make a career of pointing out failure and calling for accountability. It will pay the bills.

              I just don’t find it informative, plenty of better things to read out there.

      • Sorry , but I read a story as to why the Mets acquired Walker. He is keeping 2nd. base warm for D. Herrera till next year. Walker then will be back on the market. Thats when it will sink into Walker’s head why the Pirates didn’t offer him what he though his worth was.

    • Yeah, Smizik is a guy you want to quote a lot. He’s full of solid analysis.

      You can doubt prospects all day long since a chunk of them wont make it to be above average starters in the pros, but acting like they deathgrip on all of them is just not a true statement.

      One thing the FO has done well beyond doubt is move middle tier prospects for key ML additions, generally come trade deadline time. Byrd, Happ, Soria, hell even Wandy. Tough to argue they deathgrip prospects like this when they’ve recently traded a 2B prospect for a position of need.

      • And my point was do it again.

        • Your point is, it seems, that anytime someone discusses a prospect that we should never ever talk about their value without mockery to follow. Its a prospect blog, some people are going to discuss these guys in terms of current value and future upside and not love the idea of “he’s a B prospect, so trade him if ya can.”

          If the expectation is trade multiple mid level prospects each year, you’ll be disappointed by nearly every team in baseball. Seems unrealistic to bemoan that they havent traded one of these guys when its January and they really do have a solid record of making 1 of these moves most years….just not ASAP pre season.

          If history is any indication, we likely will see a B type prospect on the move at some point this season. So they may very well do it again should a mid season need arise.

          • Once again, twisting what someone says.

            You have a position in 2nd base, where you have a player in JHay signed until 2020 if they so chose (which we know they wont). You have in your system currently Hanson/Moroff/Frazier/Newman/Kramer as possible 2nd base options for the future. Probably along with Cole Tucker now whos shoulder is shot.

            Its called depth. You #%@&ing trade it to make your 25 better. Its stupid to hang on to all of it.

            • My point is, there history suggests they’ll trade from depth somewhere at some point this season. Getting really upset at this point is premature.

              One area the team shouldnt get vehement anger from fans with is how often they trade middling prospects. Surely not always in the offseason, but consistently at some point. If its September 8th and its the same, ill be with ya.

            • Cole Tucker will rebound as a SS. Newman should be traded for as much as you can get as soon as possible before he really blows all his value.
              Apparently I’m on an island, but I think Hanson will be an excellent MLB player. Not everyone is a star in the minors and I think Alen is a made for MLB player. Kinda reminds me of Brandon Phillips with his abilities of speed, defense, and power. He will be a key part of team and Moroff will likely be more of a utility player IMO taking the place of Serpico.

              • I saw Phillips in the EL, and I saw Hanson in the EL. And Hanson was no Phillips.

                • I saw Tony Watson in the EL and he wasn’t anything special either a players results in AA don’t necessarily translate to the success of the major-league level

    • I’m never opposed to dealing prospects like this if you are getting good value in return but that’s the ultimate and difficult question. Smizik is same guy who wanted to trade Nick Kingham for Ike Davis a month before we got him for Blake Taylor. ( I know Kingham ended up with TJ but hated that idea from process perspective) His idea of Prospect Separation Syndrome is much different that my own.

      Smizik is the sort of guy I could see being quite content trading Harold Ramirez for 2 years of a #4 pitcher or something along those lines.

      • Eric Marshall
        January 8, 2016 10:41 am

        yes… littlefield type of guy who doesn’t value the farm and just rails vs. being productive. would be interesting to hear his schtick in LA or NY because he complains about things that the Pittsburgh market cannot handle.

      • “Smizik is the sort of guy I could see being quite content trading Harold
        Ramirez for 2 years of a #4 pitcher or something along those lines.”

        I would trade him or Garcia for #3 or #4 at any time. Not all these guys are going to pan out. Most of them wont.

    • If they have more 2B prospects behind them, why not trade those prospects instead?

      Smizik had that term, but it was usually applied to every prospect, including guys who are currently key pieces in the majors right now.

      • Look I dont always agree with Bob, but *every single time someone mentions trading a prospect* here, people get their panties in a wad. Thats what Smizik eluded to.

        If this minor league system was as good as you and others rate it, they could move one or two of those middle infield prospects, one of Diaz/Mcguire, one of Ramirez/Garcia, maybe one of the pitchers if they were healthy-and still be okay.

        I think its foolish to hang on to all of them. You know better than I, not everything thats going to come up from Altoona or Indy is going to be a firm solution. We’ve already learned those lessons with Sanchez, Alvarez, Mercer and a host of other high picks that never made it. Look at everything from the outside they have to bring in already.

        • An interesting question is whether it is a skill or luck to be able to determine which prospects “make” it in the majors.
          If it is skill, our evaluators should have the best knowledge to determine that say Diaz is better than McGuire and as a result trade McGuire.
          If it is luck, than we should hold onto both in the probability that one of the two will succeed. Also, if it is luck, we could trade one of the two but we would be at risk that the one we keep fails and the one we trade succeeds. Nothing wrong with that path and it is what we do with right-handed pitchers since we have a boat load of them.

        • Who are these people though?

          Speaking only for myself, I’m fine trading some prospects, and don’t want to trade others. I write articles often, discussing the types of prospects and some specific examples that the Pirates can trade.

          I don’t think I’ve seen anyone advocating that they hold on to every prospect.

          What I think happens in this situation is that you’re always going to find someone who doesn’t want to trade a specific prospect, but it’s not always the same people. Just look at this discussion. Some people are high on Hanson. Some people are down on him.

          If you polled people here on whether they should trade Hanson, you’ll get some yes and some no. If you did the same poll for Moroff, you’ll get mixed results, but they probably won’t be the same people.

          That’s the problem with forming an analysis like this about a group. Yes, the group will generate complaints about trading any prospect. But not every person in the group is against trading every prospect. It all comes down to personal preference with the specific prospect being discussed.

          • I think there are guys on here that wont bat an eye when it comes to trading a Rudy Owens or Adrian Sampson. But would lose their minds over trading a Wil Meyers Brandon Finegan or Kyle Drabek.
            Which is my point. You shouldn’t be afraid to move a bigger piece, especially if you have depth at that position and garner something in return

            • You mentioned Pirates examples at first, but who are the guys you’re talking about with Myers, Finnegan, and Drabek?

              • That moving top rated prospects doesn’t always end in complete disaster.

                • Are you talking about a concept here, or a specific example?

                  Because I’ve seen this argument applied in the past in situations where it would have been a complete disaster. Remember when they refused to trade Marte for Victorino or Pence? Or when they refused to part with Cole before he arrived?

                  If we’re talking about specific examples, then I’m going to say that some top prospects are untouchable for me, and others are tradeable. And it all comes down to whether the Pirates need those prospects, or whether they have depth at the position and can deal those guys away.

                  • Just keep in mind we are here today with Vogelsong and Locke in the rotation with a Rogers/Morse/Jaso triumvirate at 1st.
                    They could part with prospects man. Especially where they are stacked.

        • Sure, you can trade of your prospects for established MLB vets to improve the 25 man roster, but then you have several problems.

          First, you have very little chance for improvement from your roster since all of the players are established. You are PAYING each of the guys you acquired because they are established. if a guy gets hurt, you have nothing behind him for depth in the minors.

          Sure it’s nice to say, “lets trade any guy that isn’t the top prospect at the position to improve your 25, but the guy you picked up most likely has a higher salary. Also, if that top guy doesn’t pan out, you have to start trading the higher guys in desperation to fill in for flops and injuries

          For a small market to be successful in the long run, you need to rely on the affordable players coming up and contributing and sometimes you need to do that going into a season with an untested guy starting at second base. You can’t field a roster of 25 guys each making $15 million each

        • Now Mercer has never made it ? Unbelievable.

  • Shudda never traded Dilson Herrera! 🙂 🙂

    • There’s never a need to read between the lines for me. My articles are long enough that they include pretty much every thought I could have on a player. I’ve said several times this year that Hanson could be up in 2016, and could benefit from arriving in a utility role.

  • What Tim is proposing is a TWIX Bar. Candy Bar or Cookie. If I recollect the PBC cherished Hanson that he was not included in a number of deals. I remember when we acquired Byrd the sentiment was we didn’t give up Hanson. Dilson may end up being the better MLB’ER but if I’m going with a prospect to make an impact I am betting a case of my favorite craft beer on Hanson.

  • An excellent comparison of two guys who are both solid players and who both will be playing second base in MLB. I liked that reference of Moroff to David Eckstein, because he does do a lot well, but is limited in power and footspeed on the bases. Hanson is the flashier of the two and the better upside fielder with possible middle infielder possibilities rather than just as a 2B.

    Hanson has shown decent power for a 2B, and puts up very strong extra base hit numbers. And, he is averaging 30 SB’s a year in AA and AAA. Yes, he runs sometimes when he should not, but that is all a part of the learning process. This year he had 35 SB’s and only 12 CS’s, which is a very respectable 74% success rate.

    In short, he has all the tools needed to be a solid defensive 2B and leadoff hitter for the Pirates in 2016. He has been about 4 years young in both AA and AAA the past few years, but handles the challenges, and I think he will be able to handle the move to the majors and mature quickly around guys like ‘Cutch, Marte, Polanco, Cervelli and Clint Hurdle.

    • Other than speed, why does anyone keep saying Hanson profiles as a leadoff man?

      His numbers don’t support him as such early, at least early in his career. He hasn’t put up nearly enough OBP in the upper levels to justify hitting leadoff.

      • maybe also his ability to bunt for a hit which no one on our roster can really do? But- I agree with you Luke, he K’s too much for being a leadoff guy, doesn’t walk enough- if they can cut down the K’s, or increase the walks I’d be onboard

        • For what its worth, i like his offensive upside. Just not at the 1, more like a very solid lower order hitter. Nothing wrong with a good-not-great option at the 7 hole.

          • bunting ability is kinda junk at the #7 hole in the NL though. Maybe more of a #2

            • Bunting ability doesnt factor into where i place a hitter. Its nice, but it doesnt happen with frequency and his ability as a hitter dictates things in a far more direct manner than the few chances he gets to bunt.

              Im not one to ask the #2 to bunt much anyway, #2 is supposed to get on as base as well. Something he doesnt do enough.

              • I see what you are saying, obviously the bunt ability is more useful when it goes with more walks and/or less strikeouts. But it is part of his skill set (like stolen bases) which almost become worthless in the back end of the lineup. Kinda like a power hitting leadoff hitter I guess. I guess if people see him as an important prospect, it’s because of his skill set, and if we put him in a place where he can’t use his skill set because he isn’t a good leadoff hitter from an OBP standpoint, then you still don’t have a very worthwhile player

                • I see no proof why bunting becomes less used hithing 6th than 2nd. Unless you actually bunt a lot if a leadoff man gets on, I’d love to see stats that show bunting increases based on where you hit.

                  • well i’m sure if you are that curious, you can find into on bunt singles for players based on where they hit in the order, specifically in the NL due to the pitcher hitting 9th.

                    The only other place where bunting has value besides 1.- for a basehit 2. a basehit or sacrafice or 8. basehit ahead of a sacbunt by pitcher. Name me 1 mostly 6th hitter whom even has 10 lifetime bunt singles at that spot in the order and i would be amazed

      • Great question.

  • It is a good thing to have two guys very close to age and experience fighting for the same job. Competition should make the cream rise to the top. And the cream in this case is Hanson.

  • I don’t like the platoon idea. In general, I prefer a platoon where the two players are similar, just effective against different handed pitchers. Moroff and Hanson are not the same type of hitter, and I don’t think a straight platoon would work for them as a result.

    But I also agree that if both turn into Major League caliber players, we don’t necessarily need to choose between them, and with some clever managing, each could find a role which maximizes his skills.

    • Excellent points and since they are at least a year apart in development, we may see something like that in a few years. However, in 2016 I think we will see Alen Hanson with the Pirates. His defense at 2B was outstanding at AAA in 2015, but his hitting last year has been called into question. I think a look at the overall batting leaders in the AAA International League would indicate that it was a very pitching strong league last year.

    • I hate the platoon idea also, and Hanson is fast and can steal bases. Like 35 last year at Indy and some beat the drums for platoon status. On top of that he is a switch hitter.

  • If Moroff could handle the hitting duties at 2B, I could take the lapses of Hanson at SS. I’d like to see this duo get a shot to be on-field together.

    I like Jordy, but…throwing all three in a bucket…I’d prefer he come out as the super-utility guy.

    • You’ll take his lapses at SS? Have you forgotten about Ronny Cedeno?

    • Jordy Mercer reminds me a lot of Jay Bell during his Pittsburgh days. Has a little pop in his bat, plays solid defense at a position where defense is a demanded. That said, I like the idea of Moroff and Hanson platooning at second base early in their careers as Pirates. The cream always rises to the top, so basically whichever one shows a more overall solid player will get the majority of the playing time. This would allow Kang to play 3B almost exclusively with Harrison being the super utilty guy, which he has excelled at in the past. What I find scary is the fact that we have these guys who are all talented in their own right and we still have guys in the minors at some of the key middle infield positions who could very soon push some of the current Pirates out the door. Guys like Tucker, Kramer, Newman, Hayes to name a few.

      What has my mind going is why didn’t previous regimes such as Larry Doughty, Ted Simmons, Cam Bonifay and Dave Littlefield take the same approach as Nutting / Coonelly / Huntington has done. Maybe its just me but I can’t ever remember the Pirates having this much talent both at the MLB level as well in the minors. Especially during the losing season streak. Most seasons they’d have a few nice pieces to build around but everybody else pretty much was replacement level or below replacement level. Now it seems like they have guys pushing guys who are already solid MLB players out the door.