First Pitch: The Super Two Arguments Show We’ve Learned Nothing From Polanco

The Super Two discussion is obviously going to come into play over the next five or six weeks, including every night where Tyler Glasnow or Jameson Taillon have a good outing, and every night where a Pirates starter struggles. We’ve already started to see that this week, with Glasnow having a good outing while using his changeup, and Taillon going seven innings today.

This happens almost every year around this time. A top prospect puts up good stats in Triple-A over a small period of time. People who have never even seen that prospect, and have only seen the numbers declare that he’s ready. And then the organization is cheap because the only possible reason they could be keeping him down is for monetary reasons.

Two years ago at this time, Gregory Polanco was the “immediate solution” for the Pirates. And just two months ago, people were wondering if he would ever live up to his potential. I was one of the people who suggested the Pirates could wait and give Polanco more time in Triple-A, and got destroyed for it. It was to the point where one radio host took to his show to call me a shill and question my integrity. That’s how guaranteed it was that Polanco was ready, based on limited Triple-A success. (It’s going to be fun going through all of that again this year.)

The thing about the Super Two argument is that it assumes a few things that are actually false. First, it assumes that the player can’t learn what he needs to learn in one or two months in the minors. A look back at Gerrit Cole shows this is false. Cole had a rough April in 2013, walking 15 batters in 23.1 innings. He struggled with his control at the end of the 2012 season in Altoona, so much that then-manager P.J. Forbes publicly said he didn’t feel he was ready for a promotion to Triple-A. Cole improved his control numbers in his final seven Triple-A starts, walking just 13 in 44.2 innings.

The alternative to this is that the player can just learn what he needs to learn in the majors, as if Triple-A isn’t even important at all. Some MLB teams actually take this approach of rushing guys through Triple-A and letting them learn in the majors. The Orioles are one of them. The Tigers are another. And just look at their track record with developing pitchers. That’s not to say that players can’t develop in the majors, and every player finishes off his development at the big league level. But there’s a huge difference between having a few weeks at Triple-A, and having over two months at the level.

The second assumption is that the player is “magically ready” when he’s called up, indicating that he was ready long before Super Two came around. This is complicated, and the truth is that he’s not actually ready after the Super Two deadline passes. Once again, we look at Cole. He came up and had league average numbers his first few outings. He wasn’t striking out a lot of guys, and definitely wasn’t the pitcher we see today. Fast forward to September that year, where he posted a 1.69 ERA and struck out 39 batters in 32 innings.

Cole probably could have used some more time in Triple-A, but Super Two passed, and there was no longer a big financial hit to call him up early (he’d be arbitration eligible next year had they called him up a few starts early). So they can call him up, and let him finish his development in the majors. You hope that the changes are quick, like we saw with him, and not slower, like we saw with Polanco.

When Glasnow and Taillon come up, they’ll each have something to work on, although I think Taillon will have less to work on with where his stuff is at right now. But when Super Two passes, it will make sense to call them up at that time, since there won’t be as high of a cost to let them work on their issues in the majors. They will also have spent about six weeks extra with their development in the minors, which is very valuable.

Both pitchers have stuff so good that they can get away with mistakes right now. Taillon didn’t have his best curveball in today’s outing, leaving a few up in the zone. He can get away with that in Triple-A. That won’t happen in the majors. Glasnow had an outstanding outing last time out with the changeup, but who would honestly say he’s ready after just one outing where he actually used the changeup like a normal pitch? Especially when that outing took place against one of the worst hitting teams in the league?

Glasnow and Taillon are going to be excellent pitchers one day. At some point this season, they will upgrade over the back of the rotation options the Pirates currently have. But they have legitimate things to work on right now. Dismissing that fact, and saying that they’re only being held back due to money is the same tired argument we heard with Polanco. And then Polanco put up a .650 OPS, which barely beat Jose Tabata’s .647 OPS, and couldn’t touch Travis Snider’s .776 OPS.

If there’s anything we can learn from the Polanco situation, it’s that the jump from Triple-A to the Majors is a big one. It’s so big that it’s possible for a player to absolutely dominate Triple-A, and appear on the surface that he has nothing to work on, only to come up and post league average numbers or worse in his debut in the majors. It’s easy to look at good Triple-A numbers and bad MLB numbers and assume there’s a guaranteed upgrade in the system right now, but that tends to be the exception in these cases, and not the rule.

The Pirates would be much better off waiting a short amount of time and hoping Glasnow and Taillon are actually ready, rather than getting an extra month out of them, and risking another Polanco situation, where they struggle for their first year and a half in the big leagues because they were brought up too soon.

**Prospect Watch: Jameson Taillon Looks Solid in Afternoon Start. Here was a breakdown of Taillon’s outing tonight, along with my live report from West Virginia.

**Neal Huntington on How John Jaso’s Success Could Impact Josh Bell’s Arrival. Speaking of Super Two and calling guys up early, Neal Huntington had some interesting comments on that, noting that the guys who received more time in Triple-A had seamless transitions to the majors.

**John Jaso Letting Instincts Take Over at First Base. Going along with the first base theme today, Sean McCool had a great look at John Jaso’s defensive progress at first base.

  • Mahoney2184
    May 1, 2016 2:34 am

    Great article with some interesting points. I agree with most of this when you’re talking about when is applied to Glasnow. For Taillon, however, I would say a lot of the points you make in here do not apply. Remember… This guy came up in the system with Cole and was considered by many to be the better prospect. Since we’re not talking about some 21 or 22 year old kid that trail-blazed through their minor league system, I imagine his maturity levels (mental and physical) are higher than the average phenom prospect.

    While I guess it makes sense from a financial standpoint to wait the extra month, I would like to think they’re more concerned about keeping pace in the toughest division in baseball that includes two of the top offenses.

    Wouldn’t they feel dumb if they missed the playoffs by a couple games because marching Jonathan Niese out to get clobbered in May saved them a few million. If you want to look at it from a financial standpoint, think about the playoff revenue that is lost if that very possible scenario ever took place

  • Based just on talent and the past months’ performance, which Pirate minor league pitchers–forget about whether there is a slot for them in Pittsburgh–has the stuff to produce in the majors this year?

    (Yes, Tim, I’ve subscribed again, or my credit card reupped me!!! 😉

  • If your going to mention Polonco then I will mention Bryant. It didn’t seem to bother him coming up last April. I would argue if he doesn’t come up early the Cubs are not in the playoffs. We can all cherry pick players who have arrived to soon or maybe should have arrived earlier. The one reality is a number of players are magically ready in June compared to other times of the year. That lead us to one reason and one reason only and thats money. I am OK with it but lets not pretend here

  • It’s an exciting time with all the prospects they have. Great time to be a fan. Everyone will be pissed as mccutchen and Cole depart. We shouldnt pay them as we have replacements. The best option unfortunately is to get the most value out of trading them when the right time presents its self.

  • I think it’s pretty obvious that both Taillon and Glasnow will benefit from further time in AAA. It’s also obvious that if I were the GM there is no way I’d call a young pitcher up before super two deadline is over. The extra year is too valuable and fact is they will face an innings limit anyway. So delay the arrival limit the stress and innings early. Call them up in mid June and see if they can hang If they faulter then deadline deal for starter is a must. If they succeed rotation may be set

    • This then begs the question, during a week when two small market teams have brought up top prospects, why are the Pirates always the smartest guys in the room?

      If this decision was really so obvious, why are they one of the *extremely* small number of teams who steadfastly adhere to it?

    • Obvious to you maybe – who appointed you the expert on this sort of thing

      • And who the hell determined YOU are the resident expert ?

        • Never said I was – I have opinions – you have opinions – I try to have facts and logic behind mine – you – not so much – but that’s OK you are entitled to your opinion – but I don’t think I have ever started a comment with “it’s pretty obvious”. Baseball is a hard game and each player is different – believe it or not there have actually been players who have BETTER results in the majors than the had in the minors. Formulas are poor substitutes IMHO for good evaluation skills and ability to understand individuals and what makes them tick.

  • Well the thing is- anytime a player comes up and struggles you can say he wasn’t ready. Its purely a hindsight discussion. This discounts the fact that there is always going to be an adjustment period when you go up to a higher level of talent. You can’t keep that adjustment period from happening by staying in AAA longer…..some players experience it immediately, and others when the league learns the player and forces him to adapt. I feel like 45-60 games into a level, you know how he stacks up vs. the skill and challenge of that level, and he either needs another 45-60 games at that point, or he doesn’t. You can base it off performance or peripheral coaching points, but its all the same process.

  • Straight from the offices on Federal Street, checks in the mail.

    • I agree waiting until after the super 2 deadline is a good business decision. If he wants to argue Taillon isn’t ready he has good points. When he is called up shortly after the Super 2 deadline passes it will be obvious to most people out side of this site the reason for the delay. The problem is even though it is a good business decision, it’s not really allowed. So, for that reason the marching orders are to deny the obvious. This was an unintended loop hole in the collective bargaining. The players wanted to get extra money with the Super 2 rules, but the teams ended up delaying their debuts. The players know what is really happening and as proof it will not be part of the next collective bargaining.

      • I’m being a bit facetious with Tim, FWIW. That’s basically the rallying cry of every idiot that harasses him on Twitter.

        But in all seriousness, come onnnnnn.

        He’s gotta be smarter than to dance around the very, very obvious reason the Pirates DO what they do. And frankly, choosing this as a First Pitch topic – which now just so happen to be free – reeks of an attention grab. Tim’s in he business of making money, as are the Pirates. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with either, so why not just be honest?

  • Daryl Restly
    April 29, 2016 3:07 pm

    Have to agree with you Tim. I could see a scenario in which the platoon of John Jaso / Jason Rogers / David Freese (once Jung Ho Kang comes off DL and Freese presumably shifts from 3B to 1B) play very well going into June and the Pirates decide to have Bell stay the entire year at AAA Indianapolis to truly learn the nuances of playing 1B. The one thing the Pirates learned the hard way was they rushed Pedro Alvarez to the majors and it may have curtailed his career. I’d rather a guy spend a little more time in the minors, making sure he knows what to expect once he does reach the majors. That means that if he is a pitcher and has issues with too many walks that it will catch up to him at the ML level. Look no further than Jeff Locke the last few years. Yeah, he has had success, but over an extended period of time, the walks have killed him. Another scenario is if a pitcher has a nasty fastball and he has a habit of leaving pitches hang over the plate and those mistake pitches will get crushed at the MLB level.

  • The thing is the Pirates HAVE to make the claim that they did not delay bringing a player up due to super 2 eligibility so they can get an extra year of arbitration at the end. If Neal admitted this he would be in big trouble. It seems a little disingenuous when a player all of a sudden becomes ready 1 week after the Super 2 deadline. In reality if a player is ready or not he will go through a learning curve once he goes to the majors. Even if Palanco had 2 more years at AAA he would of still had a learning curve. The Pirates are contenders though so they don’t have the luxury of giving a lot of playing time to player going through that learning curve. Just be honest with us. What about other examples like Brondon Finnigan. I’m not making the case any player in the Pirate system is ready to move up. I’m making the case that you don’t give us real opinions anymore. If you want access to the Pirates you have to give us the company line. The baseball gods must favor the Pirates though because we may have 3 or 4 miracles this year. Sometime in June just after the Super 2 deadline Taillon, Glasnow, Bell and Hanson will miraculously become READY as if a light was turned on.

  • You can use the example of Palonco not being as ready as everyone thought he was. The super 2 argument keeps coming up because miraculously all these player become ready 1 week after the Pirates feel safe these players will not be super 2 eligible.

    • As I wrote in the article, they aren’t magically ready at that time. They still have things to work on. But there’s a much lower cost to have them working on those things in the majors after Super Two.

      • It really comes down to the Super 2 issue then as why their promotion was delayed. It will cost less to have them work out those issues after the Super 2 deadline has passed. If it wasn’t for the Super 2 eligibility they would be up sooner then. You just made the case that it’s not a tired issue. The Pirates though are not allowed by baseball rules to admit that. They can always make the case the player needed more time in AAA. When they decide to start the learning curve 1 week after the Super 2 deadline everyone knows the real reason for the delay.

        • Thats simplifying this issue for no real reason. Its not really a simple situation from either side.

          The article is saying that its a weighted situation, in that a team might feel a player is X amount ready in May but weigh that against how much they feel he’ll cost extra in Super 2.

          So it becomes a balance of when the team feels his readiness outweighs the extra investment needed in said player. Not surprisingly, many teams (and nearly always PGH) tend to feel that the balance is never in the teams favor until after Super 2.

          That, to me, in no way means the only cause for the delay was money, but that it was a big factor among others and even for guys that needed only 4-5 starts in AAA the extra work made more sense than paying him the extra money over the arb years.

          • I totally agree with that. The fact is Super 2 eligibility determines the cost involved so it plays a key role in when a team is ready to start the clock. You just explained the case for why teams wait because of Super 2 very precisely.

            • Right, and its not “purely” money as was suggested. Its more complex than just one factor.

              You just keep forcing the issue into “well, its simple” and its not. Teams wait for Super 2 because of a myriad of factors, which does include saving tens of millions.

      • You are right on the dot. They are not magically ready at the time, but that is the time they are promoted. It brings us back to Super 2 really becomes the tipping point on when the Pirates are willing to make the move with a top prospect.

  • HartHighPirate
    April 29, 2016 2:11 pm

    Tim
    With the great Pittsburgh minor league players and future potential, Robert Nutting should sell his interests to Mark Cuban (born in Pittsburgh 1958) who will quadruple the value of the Pirates by 2019. Pittsburgh would be a write-off for Cuban and he will buy top MLB free agent players who will supplement the great talent the Pirates currently have in AAA, AA, A leagues. The Pirates need an owner who can produce. The fans will love Cuban.

    .

    • Where have you been the past 5 years ? Head in a real dark place ? You are like the Japanese soldier who finally surrendered in 1974 !

  • This argument of whether someone is ” ready” is often plain dumb. No one can predict how a young guy will react to his first taste of the majors. Baseball people had no doubt that Polanco would become a highly productive ML outfielder at the minimum, but whether he needed time to figure our the big league game is another question. Most young guys do, and you have to accept the bruises.

    • Which is exactly why twisting logic into making it sound like this is *not* a financial decision is so hilarious.

  • Tim, I liked the interview you had with Neil. He showed that keeping McCutchen in AAA for over !000 AB had him ready when called up. I keep saying on this site 200AB in AA and 300 in AAA for Polanco did not prepare him for the majors. He had to go through growing pains in the majors. The Pirates didn’t have anyone to play right field anyway, so he wasn’t playing ahead of a good player. Pitching is even tougher going from a couple of starts in AAA to the majors. Barring a complete meltdown, I don’t think anyone will be as good as the Cubs. They’re striking out less and lead the league in walks. Their pitching was very good last year, and is better this year. By no means am I giving up on the season, just being reasonable. This is a round about way of me saying to let our prospects in AAA, get all the experience they can get in the minors. Next year, the Bucco’s will be better with the pitching and we all know that’s how you get your wins.

    • Another thing no one takes into consideration is age. A position player’s very good years are 28-32, pitchers probably very much the same. If you rush a player through the system at say 21-23, your going to lose the best of the years on the back end. This is not set in stone, but something else the front office as to think about.

      • There is a decent amount of research that argues that a player doesnt peak at that age, but that he peaks really young and you basically get a guy who stays at peak levels until decline starts. Basically, players are at their best while young so if he develops young get him up so you dont run into decline year territory.

        I dont think its at all clear that a player being ready at 22 means you lose his best years at 28, because his peak is earlier.

        • See Jake Arietta, Jose Bautista and look at Clemente’s WAR by year…
          There is no magic year when players are ready or they “peak”.

          Will say it again – every players is DIFFERENT. It is simplistic to argue that Polanco was not ready – although he really raked it the first few weeks then struggled. It is easy to point to Pedro – but what if Pedro stayed in the minors two more years and never came up and hit well – nothing we know would suggest that 1000 more minor league ABs would change – fix him or anyone else.

  • Amen

  • I feel like this thread of comments every year is our version of Thunderdome. Happens on a regular basis, and truly no one gets out alive in the end.

  • Every player is different and variance is huge in baseball
    Every batter develops differently…
    Two great examples…
    1. Mike Trout WAR 2012-2015
    10.3
    10.5
    8.5
    9.0
    2. Bryce Harper
    4.6
    4.0
    1.4
    9.5
    Trout had essentially one season at AA and AAA – mostly AA
    Harper even less PAs at those levels…

    Really easy to say Polanco “proves” you should hold players back – bet the Angels – and the Nationals really regret not following NH approach.

    • Apples and oranges. Trout and Harper were MUCH better prospects than Polanco.

    • VERY convenient of you to skip over the year Trout was actually called up. Mike Trout had a .672 OPS in 135 PAs in 2011.

      • so?
        That is a pretty small sample – about 20% of a season – Trout – like all players has had stretches where he slumped. Hell look at the MVP and how he was doing before Colorado

    • I wonder why you left off 2011 for Trout.

      Oh, the stats. Looks like one great example needed to be demoted back to AAA after his first half season in the show. Weird how even literally the best player in a generation wasnt able to skip AAA and dominate right away.

      • I don’t think 93 plate appearances in AAA was the difference between .100 points in BABIP.

        • Its fair to have that opinion, but insinuating thats the entire reason for it seems odd.

          A lower BABIP as a rookie isnt unusual, and can be somewhat due to facing far better pitching. Otherwise we can just go “well, that first half season for Polanco was the BABIP drop”.

          I think Trout seeing a 3-4 percent drop in walks, a drop in BABIP, and a drop in ISO was in some parts due to not being totally ready to dominate MLB.

          Trout is a generational talent that isnt comparable to really anyone but Harper, and even he had a slight adjustment period. It was smaller, but thats largely due to him being the best hitter of his age in a loooong time. Thus, it isnt shocking when it takes Polanco slightly longer to start reaching that potential.

          Really, my point is that insinuating that any guy is likely to be great from day 1 is guesswork and thats why teams are careful with Super 2. It really, really hard to know how ready a guy is for the pros and thus waiting until its not a 10-20 million risk makes financial sense.

          • Failure and how prospects handle is probably the most important aspect of development, for many top prospects failure won’t come until the majors and maybe not right away.

            Trout needed to fail and that wasn’t happening in AAA, I’m not sure how additional time in AAA was going to help Polanco either seeing he got another 30 PAs there and the Pirates traded his direct roster competition in the off-season.

            I just think Bruce’s statement about Polanco proving nothing is correct. I understand the Super Two argument but Tim is arguing for additional time in AAA.

            • And thats all fine, but failure can/should happen after Super 2. Allows them time to try to develop enough to minimize failure, while also allowing the team less financial reasons to hate failure to the tune of 10 million.

              If he’s gonna fail, might as well save 10-20 million before he does it. You also get more time to have him get better, and hopefully limit how long he needs to adjust.

              Super 2 and additional time in AAA dont have to be A or B, they can be the same thing. Guy gets needed time in AAA that he would not otherwise get, team minimizes financial risk.

              • And if you have player likely to provide 1.0 to 1.5 WAR over two months while adjusting to the majors and sub-replacement options, trying to save upwards of $15 million spread over four years isn’t the best option.

                I don’t the understand the fixation on additional AAA time equals more development, tautologically you won’t learn to hit major league pitching in AAA.

          • and “insinuating” that every prospect is better served by getting XXX numbers of at bats at AA and YYY number of at bats at
            AAA is just as odd

            • No one did that. But what was said that an extra month of reps doenst hurt, and relieves the risk of 10-20 million in extra investment into 1 player who might just actually need 2-3 more starts to get himself ready.

              Because we’d all crap our pants if Taillon was called up tomorrow, but that wouldnt solve the fact that in his last 2 starts, one of his most used pitches was elevated multiple times. Something you dont get away with against ML hitters if you do it over and over.

      • Trout was 19 years old and had not played above AA – what is your point -the next year he won the ROY and finished 2nd in MVP – at 20 Years of age.
        Harper was called up at age 19 when he was batting in the .243 with less than 100 PAs at AAA.

        I am NOT advocating early call ups for ALL prospects – I just think every player is different and that some can actually benefit from being force to adapt and play at higher levels and that some can be harmed and develop bad habits if they are not being challenged by the competition. Hayes is someone who I worry about getting bored and thinking the game is easy. Keller could fall into the same trap – from what I have read he is pretty intense and competitive.

        With all the money the Pirates say they are paying on minor league development surely some ability to identify players who need to be challenged sooner rather than given time to “develop” should be possible

  • The real question about a Super Two argument is “why have the rule at all”?
    Who benefits from this arcane agreement… not the rookies, not the fans, not the teams and certainly not the owners? I hope they abolish Super Two in the new labor agreement.

    • Good luck with that – and to answer your question, the older veterans are the beneficiaries. Flood the market with more pitching free agents and JA Happ is lucky to get $5M a year rather than $13M. Supply and demand at work

      • Patrick Kelly
        April 29, 2016 2:09 pm

        Are you mistaking the 2 week period at the beginning of the season to get an extra year of control with Super 2? Totally different things. Super 2 doesn’t effect years of control. Being Super 2 doesn’t get a player to FA faster.

        • It’s not the first few weeks. Super 2 eligibility comes sometime in June. If they start before that the current year starts the clock so they do lose a year of arbitration because the player become eligible for FA a year earlier now.

  • Tim, your article is spot-on correct. The whole purpose of having a minor league system, a system of procuring young talent, then nurturing and developing that young talent, so that ultimately that young talent can come to the MLB level and be successful, is to bring players up to the MLB level WHEN THEY ARE READY. I can recall before Starling Marte came up, he had a huge spring training, and there were calls from far and wide, to have him break camp with the Pirates and make the opening day roster. Fans are impatient, and it is only because we want the Pirates to be successful. But people really need to understand that while the jump from AAA to MLB is only one step, it is a very big step.

  • It’s really nice having four starters at the AAA level who have solid major league potential.

  • You can hide a struggling position player or have other position players pick up the slack provided the prospect can field moderately, a struggling pitcher is a huge obstacle for the rest of the team to overcome

  • I personally like the decisions the pirates make on whether to bring a player up, let them continue developing, the pirates can’t exactly afford to rush players up and very rarely does it even work, I really like the fact that they didn’t bring up alen Hanson last September as he had to bring more consistency to his game. . Great article tim.

  • Super Two is a financial decision and has nothing to do with prospect development, it is a decision if two months of MLB plate appearances/starts of a top prospect is worth the future added cost of $15 million in salary.

    When you start trying to weave together arguments about development and normative statements on Super Two you’ve lost me.

    I agree that ready is a complex decision, I’ve always though of it as is this prospect likely to provided more value than the other options. I’m fine with the timing of the Polanco call up, some things can only be learned in the majors, and a career couple of months by Snider was a highly unlikely event.

    • piraterican21
      April 29, 2016 11:03 am

      ” I agree that ready is a complex decision, I’ve always though of it as is this prospect likely to provided more value than the other options.”
      If you base it on that logic you might sacrifice future value, which is the point of the article, for example: TG fastball, curve combo is good enough to be a 4th-5th starter right now and better than we currently have, in the other hand TG with a serviceable change, better command and able to keep runners on (not to mention fixing the mental maturity issue that I keep reading about) is a future 2, and hopefully 1.

      • Tim seems to be auguring that more development time is always better. The Polanco example is hindsight, like Huntington admits, I think it is correct to question what could have been done differently, more time in AAA might have helped but I have to think the returns are steeply diminishing, some things have to be learned at the MLB level.

        I don’t follow the Cole example, he provide better than average FIP in every month in 2013 and with Wandy down the other options were Cumpton, Irwin, or Gomez, having already jettisoned McDonald and Sanchez.

        As I mentioned the future cost, I’m aware of it and think there are rare times when the extra $15 million spread over 4 seasons might be worth the present upgrade.

    • Absolutely nailed it.

  • pghpiratefan
    April 29, 2016 9:33 am

    Agree on all accounts and was right there with you when you were calling for Polanco to take his time and not be rushed for the wrong reasons. However, I will never fault a small market ball club from delaying a month or two based solely on financial reasons. I know it’s taboo to claim as much with a playoff team built this minute, but I just don’t think you can ever justify 30-45 days in a guy’s rookie year being more valuable than 6 months of them once they are seasoned vets. I know it’s not quite as cut and dry as that, but it’s not far off. So while there may be know-it-alls who only see 3 weeks of AA or AAA stats and think they know what’s best, I’m of the opinion that a team who won’t buy out the FA years of every home grown talent needs to be a little smarter than a Detroit or Baltimore.

  • If I am remembering correctly, Polanco started off hot in AAA and was starting to cool off shortly before his promotion.

    We’ve only had Cole as a highly ranked starter to watch come up. It’ll be interesting to see how TG and JT transition. A few years back I liked JT slightly more than Cole. I just remember that solid game he had for Canada in the WBC.

  • Tim: Local radio “expert” huh? who did you tick off, Ron Cooke or Mark (utter joke of a professional broadcaster) Madden? 😉

  • The article is spot on…not one gripe about it.

    Conversely, even if JTTG were “ready”…so? An unfortunate side-effect of the system is that it’s set up to financially reward delaying promotion. For a small market team, that is a quirk in the rules that has to be taken advantage of.

    Hypothetically speaking, if both of these guys hit their ceilings, giving them that fourth trip through arbitration could tack on $20M+ onto the Pirates payroll over the course of their careers here.

    Paying that much just to get a couple of months of each? Not the smartest investment…

    • Yes, of course, hard to try to find that one-off when most or anyone would do it based on the common sense reality of our team, I’m thinking, cue smoke out of my head….

    • You are actually contradicting Tim. He and Pirates are making the claim they delayed bringing players up because they weren’t ready, not so they could get an extra year of control. If they admitted that it is against the rules of MLB for teams to use that to their advantage, so they HAVE to claim the player was not ready.

      • No, not contradicting.

        I believe they still need some work and aren’t being kept down for financial reasons.

        However, I’m saying that…with the current rule structure, even if they were ready, it would be the smarter move for the team to wait.

        • When they are promoted 1 week after the Super 2 deadline passes it says it was mostly for financial reasons. I agree it is smarter for the team to use the rules to their advantage. In reality they can never know if a player is ready or not. They are not allowed to admit they waited because of Super 2 eligibility. You contradicted yourself because your whole argument was that it was a good financial move to wait. In reality you are making the case the Pirates should wait until after the Super 2 deadline to save money. The Pirates can’t admit that, but I wish Tim would, even in his rebutle he’s making the case for why it really does come down to the Super 2 eligibility, the need to have an extra year of control, and save money.

          • No, I’m not seeing the contradiction…they aren’t ready right now. Tim gave quite a few reasons why and I tend to agree.

            In fact, they probably won’t be fully ready when they are promoted, but that’s where the kicker comes in…if they’re closer and the date has passed, yeah, it’s more likely.

            But Super Two doesn’t have anything to do with an ‘extra year of control’. That date has already passed. They could be brought up now or in June (and after) and the Pirates would still control them until the end of ’22.

            • I probably agree they aren’t ready, that’s not my point or his. His point is that Super 2 is not the reason for the delay in call up. If Taillon, Glasnow, or Bell is called up one week after the Super deadline, it will be obvious the Pirates delayed in large part due to the deadline. If Tim gave good reason why they weren’t ready I would have no argument against that. He is debunking the concept that Pirates wait until Super 2 deadline is up.

          • Blows my mind how far folks will go to *not* state the obvious.

            • This has to be the biggest stretch I have ever seen Tim make. Every major sports center sees it for what it is. It’s obvious the Super 2 loop-hole delays when many players are promoted to the bigs. I’m not making the case that Taillon should be brought up now. When he is brought up about 10 days after the deadline (they can’t be too obvious, that would be against the rules) any objective observer will know why. I also don’t have a problem with the Pirates waiting until after the Super 2 deadline. I think it’s a good business decision, but why the need to make the argument that’s not what they are doing. If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.

  • I personally believe that knowledgeable fans realize that TG and JT will not be up until Super Two has passed.

    • Correct, but it’s much easier for a certain “fan” base to scream and scream at how cheap the PBC is.

  • Nailed it, Time. Very well done!

  • Exactly what does this team need at present? I believe that the bullpen is the prime need and for that reason what help can be garnered from T & G if any? Obviously the way the offense is working I can’t even see rushing Kang back, but bolstering the pen especially since the starters go about 4.5 innings is where a player or players can help.

    • yuppers, hard to see the rush for the guys this would impact in our current situation… but if Cole grabs his arm on Monday, who knows… knock on wood implied….

      • Guess playing devils advocate, if you wanted to “rush” (my term) JT then you could get BP relief from one of the current starters, such as Nicasio… not my thought, just again, devils advocate mainly at myself 🙂

    • Let’s assume that JT or TG replaces Locke as the #5 starter. Locke right now is getting a touch less than 5 innings per game (http://espn.go.com/mlb/player/gamelog/_/id/31068/jeff-locke ) If JT or TG can put in league average 6 innings consistently at 4.25 ERA, that significantly helps the bullpen as they only need to cover the last three innings and they are probably putting out one less dumpster fire per month which kills a bullpen.

      That is assuming Locke is transported to the USS Enterprise and is never seen again. If instead Locke moves to the bullpen and displaces Vogelsong or another reliever, the quality of the bullpen that enters games in low and medium leverage situation probably improves as well.

      If these assumptions hold, the bullpen gets better by the calling-up of a starter as they’ll be used slightly less in slightly better circumstances and the overall quality of the bullpen roster upgrades. The call-up is not taking Locke’s roster spot (just his job) but Vogelsong or Feliz’s roster spot as Locke takes that guy’s job.

      • The problem with Pirate starters is deeper than Locke…
        Liriano has an AVERAGE Fangraphs Game Score of 43.
        Locke is only 3 points lower at 38. The staff “ace” is at 56 and has taken 100+ pitches to get through the 6th inning in his last two wins.

        Contrast those numbers with the Cubs
        Arietta 72
        Hammels 66
        Lackey 65
        Hendricks 56
        Leake 53

        When your #1 starter is pitching like your competitions #4, you starting pitching pretty much sucks…

        Bashing Locke and hoping that all will be right with the world when he is gone is either silly or stupid – you decide.

        This pitching staff throws way too many pitches – way too few strikes and refuses to go after hitters when behind in the count.

        • Oh good, game scores.

          • So do the same sort of summary with your favorite metric – FanGraphs game scores are pretty good at capturing the quality of a start – not perfect – but an improvement on the first version since the stat explicitly includes HRs.

            • My problem is in the idea that you can take game scores and go “SEE, our best guy is worse than their 4th.” He was over a 2-3 game span, but that really doesnt mean anything going forward.

              You cant use game scores to do anything but point out how a starter did that game. Going forward, Cole is better than 3 of the Cubs 5 SPs, and I believe is better than Lester.

              You used game scores, and then went on to say a ton that has 0 to do with that metric and extrapolated on things widely.

              • Oh come on – you are picking a fight just to pick a fight – Cole and the Cub pitchers all have 4 starts – the game score is the 4 start average.

                Cole’s BEST start was a 74 – his last start a 40 his first two of the year were 46 and 64 – those are not impressive by any standard.

                Until we see some evidence that he can pitch into the 7th regularly and put up consistent game scores 65 and above he is not an ace by any reasonable measure

                My point is that the Pirates starting pitching is killing the bull pen – all five starters – not just this boards favorite whipping boy Jeff Locke

                • “Until we see some evidence he can pitch into the 7th”.

                  So 3 starts this year overrides all of last year. Cool.

  • I noticed I had a reply and it was spam…I guess I don’t understand how they get on a subscription site. Yeah, lets pay $2.99/ month to troll about making $390 an hour by working on the internet.

    • I totally abhor that stuff.

      • That was spam?? I quit my job and have been trying it… now I’m broke and my GF left me (can’t blame the spam for that actually 🙂 ) and even my dog is mad at me for only affording generic food for him… I’m hoping it all works out, fingers crossed… 🙂

  • A before super two call up only make sense 2 weeks after the season starts ,so you get an extra year off service time. Every thing else is speculation on if the guy is “ready”. Know one really knows how the player being called will perform or if it hurts him by not being in AAA. All the pirates super two decisions are based on money as well it should be.

    • It’s a good post, I do think in the right situation (I”m not seeing it right now) money may not be the only factor, but I’m ok (of course) with being that way….

    • It’s three weeks (if a player is on optional assignment for 20 days or less, he gets MLB service time for the duration of his optional assignment), but otherwise your point is a good one. If you really think a player in AAA is better than his counterpart in MLB, the team should call him up as soon as that 20 days passes – if you’re going to blow super 2, you better get as many games as you can in the majors out of him.

      And if you concede that he really wasn’t ready 20 days after opening day and needed some work in AAA, then we’re just haggling over the terms…

  • BallHeadWonder
    April 29, 2016 7:22 am

    Completely agree Tim!!! I am with you Brotha!! You see the Minnesota Twins hit desperation and bought up their Top Prospect EARLY!!! The dude barely got out of the 4th and couldn’t get through the 5th!! As I have said plenty of times, we need to let NH work!!!! The dude has pressed all the right buttons!! No one is singing his praises!! We constantly hammer this guy for everything he doesn’t do when we want it done!! True Pirate Fans don’t want to go back to 20 years of embarrassing ass baseball. IF I HAVE TO WAIT 4 WEEKS TO GET AN EXTRA SEASON out of 2 Top Pitching Prospects, that is a no brainer for any common-sense minded baseball fan!! Now the Twins lose an important season with this Berrios kid (hope I spelled his name right) I know they will be kicking themselves down the road when he gets good!! So I am excited that we waited for Polanco, because he is who I look forward to see swing the bat every game. You can see the respect teams are giving him right now!! Managers are making sure when they go to the Pen, they make sure he sees a Lefty!!

    I would love for Glassnow to be a Septemper Call-up!! The dude doesn’t have that KILLER IN HIM!! He is an exceptional pitcher, no doubt, but he needs that Killer in him that destroys hitters!!! At every level, it takes him 3 to 4 starts to get comfortable!! So we know our Pirate Fans, if he struggles in his first 3 to 4 starts, we will be hearing how he is like Brad Lincoln!!! Hahaha!! So mark Friday June 10th on your calendar when JT takes the mound for his much anticipated debut at PNC against the Cardinals!!! Mark it down now!! The Lord said Blessings flow when you excercise Patience!!! I am patiently waiting on June 10th!!!

    • HartHighPirate
      April 29, 2016 1:07 pm

      Killer? Like Don Drysdale? The “Head Hunter with the fastball”?

    • I agree with you totally – the brilliance of Neal Huntington is why the Pirates broke the 35 year streak of no World Series and will win their fourth World Series in a row this year !!!!

      Best DAMN Management Team In Baseball!

  • Obviously, as implied, every player and circumstance a different situation (and I’ve taken my share of blog beatings for my conservative nature on this topic, oh boy, still shaking from some of them). I, for one, would rather error on ensuring the player is more than ready (whatever that means in terms of checking all the boxes) before he gets ‘the call’ and if that means some thoughtful cost control because of it, then win/win… But just me….

    • Excellent point that each player is a different situation. Gregory Polanco was not a very good prospect or hitter in his early years from 2009 thru 2011. The light went on for him in 2012 where he and Alen Hanson put on a hitting display in Lo A. He did not even get to Hi A until 2013 and was already in the majors by mid-2014?

      That is very quick and he paid a price of learning on the run at the MLB level. But, the Pirates wanted to move him fast because there was a need for him in RF – Snider and Tabata were placeholders at best. And, they felt that he had all the tools and the mental toughness to work his way through any problems at the MLB level.

      That same need balanced with the 6 inch rule will now be in play for the SP’s at AAA. There is definitely a need, and we definitely have the guys with all the tools to fit the need. The only consideration now is that 6″ distance between the ears – who can be mature enough and believe in themselves enough to be able to stand out there and battle.

      I think it could be better to have the more mature SP’s like Taillon and Kuhl at the MLB level before Tyler Glasnow, unless he somehow puts it all together (3 pitch repertoire, mental toughness) for an extended period of time. As I said in another blurb, Glasnow will not even turn 23 until almost September.

      • Yup, I get it your point(s), thoughtful for sure…. Though I tend to be too conservative, I could be talked into JT, being ready sooner as he knocks the rust off I guess… From a health perspective, I’m tickled to death about him (that phrase shows my age) and from a readiness perspective, if a need, seems to be the case I would take a deep breath and say ok sooner than later. But if becomes mid May, then wait, that financial stuff makes sense, we do have limits and they are, as well, thoughtful when building a yearly contender (as you know mate)…

  • gosteelers69
    April 29, 2016 5:43 am

    Hard to argue any of those points. Regardless, it’s still an exciting situation to be in for our beloved franchise. And I’m equally excited about the other pitching prospects that are on the cusp of the major leagues.

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