You’re probably hearing the words “Super Two” a lot these days.

You hear it every time someone not named Gerrit Cole or Francisco Liriano makes a start for the Pirates. You hear it every time Tyler Glasnow or Jameson Taillon makes a start for Indianapolis. You hear it whenever another team calls up a top prospect early in the season (although oddly enough, you never get the follow-up when those players are struggling, or when it turns out they were only there for a spot start/injury replacement).

At this point, we’ve been through the Super Two process many times. It was huge in 2014 with Gregory Polanco. The year before that, it was Gerrit Cole. The year before that, Starling Marte. And prior to that, it didn’t really matter when prospects came up, since the Pirates were usually out of the race by the end of April.

I assume that everyone knows the Super Two process, but that can often be a bad assumption. That’s especially the case when I see so many references to “Super Two” being about an extra year of service time. So each year when this situation is relevant, I try to dedicate one article to explaining the process in detail. As you may have guessed, this is that article. If you know the basics, maybe the details here will tell something new. If you know the details, then you might be better off spending your time checking out our latest Top Performers article, which features reports on over a dozen prospects from the last week.

What is Super Two?

Players aren’t eligible for arbitration until they have three full years of service time. Each year of service time is 172 days, and if you’re up all season, you get a full year (the season is usually around 183 days, but you only get credit for 172 in a given year).

Super Two players are the players who are eligible for arbitration after their second full year of service time. In order to qualify, they must be in the top 22% of players with more than two but less than three years of service time.

As a recent example, prior to the 2015 season, the Super Two cutoff was two years and 133 days of service time (expressed as 2.133). Any player with that amount of service time or more was eligible for arbitration early. Jared Hughes qualified for the Pirates, since he had 2.156 years of service time heading into the 2015 season. Vance Worley also qualified at 2.139, beating the deadline by a week. However, Jordy Mercer (2.093) and Jeff Locke (2.016) didn’t have enough days to qualify.

Is the Date the Same Every Year?

Short answer: No.

Super Two always fluctuates, representing the players with the top 22% of service time between two and three years in that given off-season. Here are the historical cutoff dates:

2015: 2.130

2014: 2.133

2013: 2.122

2012: 2.140

2011: 2.146

2010: 2.122

Players who are called up for the first time this year won’t be eligible for Super Two status until after the 2018 season, assuming they remain in the majors after they get called up. We don’t even know what the Super Two cutoff for the upcoming off-season will be, making it extremely difficult to project out to the 2018-19 off-season (and with the upcoming CBA, it’s possible that there either won’t be a Super Two, or will be an adjusted system — the last CBA increased the amount of eligible players).

Because of this uncertainty, teams usually call players up about a week after that 120 days of service time date goes by. This gives them plenty of cushion, just in case the cutoff is lower in the future.

For example, this year, Gerrit Cole had 2.111 years of service time. If he was called up just 19 days earlier in 2013, he would have been eligible for arbitration for the first time this past off-season. But if this year’s cutoff was the 2.122 date from a few years ago, then we’re only talking about an 11 day cushion.

What About an Extra Year of Control?

That’s something totally different. An MLB season is 183 days long, and a year of service time is 172 days. If you keep a player down for a few weeks at the start of the year, you can call him up and have him finish with less than 172 days of service time. This allows you to control him for six more years beyond the current season.

At this point, every player is beyond that deadline for years of control.

So It’s All About Money?

For the most part, yes. But it’s more complex than most make it seem. This is where the “Nutting is Cheap!” arguments start taking over the conversation.

Prospects are held in Triple-A because they have legitimate things to work on. If you only look at the stats, then it’s easy to assume that a player is ready when he actually has things to work on. The best prospects (i.e. the ones who are usually impacted by Super Two) are good enough that they can dominate Triple-A with flaws in their game.

Two years ago, everyone assumed Polanco was ready to come up and make an impact in the Majors around this time, all because he had a 1.015 OPS through his first 5-6 weeks of the season. And yet, he was called up a month later, had a ten game hot streak, then struggled for an entire year in the Majors before he started putting it together. And it took him a year and a half from his call-up to really break out.

Other players are less extreme. Gerrit Cole might be the best case scenario for guys like Glasnow and Taillon. He’s also an example of someone struggling in Triple-A, but still putting up good surface numbers. Cole had a 2.31 ERA in his first month of the year, with 19 strikeouts in 23.1 innings. The problem was that he had 15 walks. That was a problem that carried over from the previous year in Altoona.

He cut down on the walks the next month, with 11 walks in 30.2 innings, although during this development, the surface numbers struggled, with a 4.70 ERA and 20 strikeouts (the ERA was blown up by one really bad outing). Finally, he made two starts in Triple-A where everything came together, with 14 shutout innings and an 8:2 K/BB ratio.

Cole wasn’t magically ready after those two good starts. But Super Two had passed, and it made sense to have him work on his development in the majors, now that there was no high long-term cost involved. He was a league average pitcher his first month in pro ball, posting a 3.94 ERA and striking out a batter every two innings. He showed improvement throughout the year, and by September, he was showing flashes of his potential as a top of the rotation arm.

Cole’s story is really what this discussion is about. If you’ve been reading this site, then you know what Tyler Glasnow and Jameson Taillon are working on. They’re not polished pitchers with no flaws, waiting for a magic date to pass to be called up. They’re still developing, and it makes more sense to do that development in the minors, while the cost is so high in the majors.

How High Is This Cost?

There’s one recent example of a player who was Super Two eligible, posting top of the rotation results, and going year-to-year in arbitration: David Price.

Price made $4.35 M in his Super Two year. He then made $10.1125 M in what would have been his first year of arbitration, followed by $14 M and $19.75 M.

By comparison, Max Scherzer was a year-to-year player who wasn’t Super Two eligible. He received $3.75 M in his first year of arbitration, which was slightly below what Price received. His second year got him $6.725 M, which was below what Price received. His third year made up for that, landing him $15.525 M, which was in line with what Price made in his third year. And then Price made close to $20 M extra in his final year.

Then there’s Stephen Strasburg, who just signed a massive extension with the Nationals. Prior to that, he made $3.975 M his first season, $7.4 M his second year, and $10.4 M this year. That’s a bigger difference than Scherzer/Price, but Strasburg didn’t have the massive year that Scherzer had before his final arbitration year.

This rough estimate puts the cost of Super Two around $20 M. A more conservative estimate might have it closer to $15 M.

Ultimately, if you call up Glasnow and Taillon now, and they go on to become the pitchers you expect them to become, you’d be signing on for an extra $15-20 M in the long-term, just to get one month extra in the short-term, when they’re still developing and still have legitimate things to work on.

This feels like a good time to point out that David Price had a 4.42 ERA his first season in the Majors (not counting his brief call-up in 2008). The Rays traded him two years before free agency, although they might have been able to afford to keep him an extra year by giving him more time in the minors in 2009, while avoiding Super Two status.

Price is an example of why the majority of teams wait for Super Two. He got paid in arbitration because of the player he became a few years after being called up. But he got the Super Two status for getting called up early in 2009, when he wasn’t close to the player getting those arbitration dollars.

Calling a player up early and exposing them to Super Two results in paying the player extra in his prime, based off his prime years, and getting one month extra of his development period, where he’s adjusting to the majors and far from the player he will eventually become. That’s not a good trade-off.

Even if he’s the extremely rare case of a player who comes up and dominates right away, you’re paying $15-20 M extra in the long-term, for one month. That’s essentially a pro-rated $90-120 M contract (6 months in a season x $15-20 M per month). No player in baseball is worth that.

I will bring up that some players have signed early extensions, where the cost of Super Two ends up being closer to $5-10 M if the player would have otherwise been eligible. That’s much easier to deal with than $15-20 M if a player goes year-to-year, but it’s still high, especially when you consider that this argument comes up every year.

Every year, Pirates fans want to ignore Super Two and just call a player up. Let’s recap: With Starling Marte, Gerrit Cole, Gregory Polanco, and now Glasnow and Taillon, you’ve got five players you’d expose to Super Two. Best case? You extend all of them and it only costs $5 M extra per player.

That’s still $25 M extra over the long-run, just to call each of those players up a month early. We know in hindsight that this wouldn’t have helped Polanco. Cole was still working on things in Triple-A, and would have had a much worse transition to the majors in early-May than early-June. Marte wasn’t even a factor for Super Two, as he came up in late July.

And if you don’t get that $5 M, best-case scenario? Then you’re looking at potentially an extra $75-100 M over the long-run, once again just to call these guys up a month early. It won’t stop here either. The Pirates aren’t done with Super Two scenarios, which means if you continue ignoring Super Two, the costs continue to add up.

Conclusion

Overall, Super Two is about money. But more specifically, it’s about spending money in a smart way.

It’s easy to compare numbers in Triple-A to numbers in the Majors as if they’re similar. But this ignores the massive gap between the two levels, and ignores that top prospects can put up strong results in the minors while still having legitimate things to work on. Using Polanco as an example, he posted a .945 OPS in Triple-A before his promotion. He had a .650 OPS in the Majors that year.

Calling a player up at this point isn’t going to get a guaranteed massive upgrade over Jon Niese, Jeff Locke, or Juan Nicasio. It’s possible that Glasnow and/or Taillon could post better numbers than those guys right now, but the long-term cost would be massive. It’s easy to just not care about that as a fan, but as noted above, those costs can add up, and it’s the job of a General Manager to think about the impact of moves in the short- and long-term.

In a month, Taillon and Glasnow could both be in the Majors. They might just put up league average numbers at first, and that would be an optimistic expectation, despite their current Triple-A numbers. They will still have things to work on, but at that point, it won’t cost a lot of money in the long-run for them to carry their development to the Major League level. And that’s what the whole Super Two debate is all about.

**Prospect Watch: Taillon Goes Seven Innings Again, Keller Dominates Again. This seems topical. Continued success from Taillon, along with another great start from Mitch Keller. I have a feeling I’m going to be doing an article soon explaining why the Pirates will keep Keller in West Virginia all season, despite his numbers.

**Morning Report: Is This the Best We Have Seen From Jameson Taillon? More on Taillon, as John Dreker breaks down his performance this year, and his stuff coming back from his injuries.

**Top Performers: Newman and Kramer Lead a Big Week For the Bradenton Offense. Our weekly Top Performers section, with reports on over a dozen prospects.

**Mel Rojas Jr. Traded to Atlanta Braves. Rojas made it to Triple-A, but was struggling at the level the last two years, eventually getting demoted back to Altoona last year, and Extended Spring Training this year. This move seems like it was made to give him an opportunity elsewhere, since he wasn’t finding that in Indianapolis.

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90 COMMENTS

  1. Glasnow will be in Pittsburgh before Taillon. Waddell will by in Indy by end of year. Taillon may be wearing a different uniform in his pro debut. Swansby in the mix.

  2. I appreciate the explanation, Tim, and generally agree with the points you make. But one factor we seem to have overlooked in this discussion is that pitchers and position players aren’t inherently equal in terms of their future value.

    Quite simply, pitchers tend to have a far shorter shelf life than position players. To make a comparison to the NFL, most teams in recent years have concluded it’s a better investment to take a left tackle early in the draft than a running back because one could stick around in the league for 10 or 15 years, while the other will almost certainly blow out his knees and be gone long before he’s 30. Those are just the actuarial table facts.

    Likewise, it’s one thing to worry about Super 2 and extra years of control when you’re talking about Polanco or Bell — position players who will almost certainly be in their prime when they turn 30. But statistically speaking, the odds of Cole, Taillon, Glasnow or any young pitcher performing at an elite level beyond that age are pretty long.

    I’m not necessarily saying you should ignore the calendar entirely when it comes to a pitcher. But given all the things that can and do go wrong with pitchers’ arms, you can make a pretty convincing case that if a minor league pitcher is already better than what you have in your Major League rotation, it might be smarter to bring him up now rather than worrying about losing him to free agency six years from now — since there’s at least a 50-50 chance he’ll be just another sore-armed has-been by then anyway.

    • I don’t like the idea of treating pitchers and position players differently. I think it’s important to recognize there is more risk of injuries with pitchers. But where do you draw the line with treating them different?

      I’ve heard arguments saying you shouldn’t draft pitchers with high picks because TINSTAAPP. If the Pirates did that, they wouldn’t have Cole and Taillon right now. And the argument that you should bring a pitcher up early would mean that Gerrit Cole would be making around $4-5 M this year, and would likely be making an extra $15-20 M in the long-run as a Super Two player.

      If you take that as a blanket approach, you might get burned by an injury, but I think you’re also likely to get burned by assuming every pitcher will get injured.

        • Or about 20 other teams had Trout – I never play the woulda coulda shoulda draft game – I will play at times in the FA space – think J. A. Happ. But the draft is like the lottery.

      • It may not be the case now, but the Pirates spent a lot of years treating pitchers and position players differently in the draft for essentially the same reason … you need more pitchers because they’re tougher to project and break down more often.

        And your argument about Cole being more expensive down the road ignores the possibility of him missing a season between now and then with Tommy John surgery or some other injury — which is distinctly possible (God forbid a thousand times). If Cole truly wasn’t ready to be one of the five best starters in the Pirate rotation when he was brought up, that’s one thing. But if he was and they waited anyway just to save a few bucks, it’ll only be a smart decision if the team doesn’t eventually wind up paying him all that money for a season spent rehabbing his elbow.

        In Taillon’s case, it actually worked out pretty well. Had his injury occurred just a few weeks later, after he’d come up and debuted in the Majors, his service clocks would have been ticking away even though he wasn’t playing. That’s the risk you take.

        I don’t know what’s the right thing to do with Taillon and Glasnow, but if they’re healthy and capable of outperforming someone in the current rotation — which seems likely — I’m just saying it might be better to get what you can out of them now rather trying to ensure they’re affordable in seasons they may never see anyway.

      • Pirates will NEVER pay Cole or any pitcher $15 to $20M – I think they really regret the Neise deal – tying up 10% of payroll in a below replacement level performer is bad – very bad. Cole will be traded before he gets to that level of salary

  3. I agree w/ this article and the value in leaving elite prospects in AAA until deadlines pass, allowing them to develop in AAA rather than the Majors. The Pirates have been smart about this and will continue to be smart, despite braindead fans clamoring for them to change their strategy.

    That being said, saying that ‘league average’ expectations of Glasnow/Taillon would be ‘optimistic’ and that it’s only ‘possible’ that they’d outperform Jeff Locke and the others isn’t accurate. The best projection systems – hardly definitive, I concede – all say that both Glasnow and Taillon would be better than league-average and definitely better than Jeff Locke, Nicasio, and than the current-SSS Jon Niese.

    Glasnow is projected at a sub-3.50 FIP and Taillon is projected at a a sub-3.80 FIP.

    It takes away from the argument when you make them both out to be projected-worse than they really are projected. The projections – which are better than Tim Williams’ projections – simply aren’t as pessimistic as you are.

    • ZiPS has Glasnow with a 3.99 FIP and Taillon at 4.39.

      League average for NL starters is a 3.96 FIP.

      So the best projection system agrees with my projection.

      Also, I’m going to ignore that you’re now criticizing me for being pessimistic, when other criticism has said that I’m optimistic. I’ll just point out that saying a rookie pitcher putting up league average numbers in his first half season is definitely not pessimistic. If that’s pessimistic, then your expectations are too high, and Glasnow and Taillon will disappoint you this year.

        • The real question is, as Tim put it, is league average now worth an extra 15-20 million to have around for an extra month? That is what super 2 really means. Seams to me someone like Niese is league average. Would you pay an extra 20 million to have him an extra month right now?

          • It’s probably not worth it but as mike says let’s acknowledge it is all about the money in the case of taillon. Niese isn’t close to league average so far this year

            • Oops had first typed Nicasio and Niese and deleted the wrong one when I double checked stats. Any way, it is about money but in the case of Taillon, it is added that I believe they they are also being slow on bringing him up due to first the TJ surgery then the sports hernia last year. the 6 games he started in AAA this year are the first 6 games in 2 years. I think they want to make sure 100% he is sound before they bring him up and have extra adrenaline added to his pitching. I would agree with that if it is the case.

            • Who denies it’s about the money? I think everyone has agreed it’s about the money, at least as to why JT/TG aren’t up today. People are confusing the debate of JT/TG’s ability to perform better or worse than Niese, with the debate of whether the incremental upgrade is worth the steep cost (it’s not). The article points out that you would be paying $15M for a month of a rookie that perhaps is an improvement but likely not a drastic one. And anyone who wants to counterpoint with a Chicago Cub example, take a look at the market size, the TV revenues, and the budget, and accept that baseball is unfair. (Not aiming all of this at you John, I just happened to reply here).

        • I never use Steamer on this site. I always use ZiPS. And you can’t accuse me of cherry picking when you’re doing the exact same thing on the other side.

          How would you average the two? ZiPS is based on 67 innings from Taillon, while Steamer projects 22 innings. ZiPS projects 116 from Glasnow, while Steamer projects 37.

          If you go the really simple way, and average the two numbers with no other consideration, then you get 4.09 with Taillon and 3.74 with Glasnow.

          Now let’s say Glasnow pitches 120 innings in the majors. The difference between the league average of 3.96 and the averaged number for Glasnow of 3.74 is just three runs in that 120 inning span.

          So, at best, you’re saying that my statement is wrong for Glasnow, because the projections, averaged together in a sloppy way, say he will give up three fewer runs than he would as a league average pitcher.

          • Are you insinuating we are currently getting league average production from the starter(s) taillon and Glasnow will replace?

  4. This is a well written summary, and I completely understand the rationale for holding these guys back until they are past the Super 2 date. However, I do take exception to this sentence: “They’re not polished pitchers with no flaws, waiting for a magic date to pass to be called up.” To start, they are 100% waiting for that magic date to pass, at least with Taillon. Glasnow and Bell wont be far behind. My second point would be – what prospect is completely polished with no flaws when they are promoted? If that was the criteria for promotion, the entire Pirates team would still be in the minors. Guys are always going to have flaws, its just a matter of whether their strong suits outweigh these flaws, and if their net production is better than the guy currently occupying a roster spot. Lastly, the article focuses on rookies who struggled out of the gate, but there are plenty of examples of rookies who are making and have made positive contributions. Trevor Story had a “flaw” of swinging at bad pitches in the minors, and look what he’s doing. Heck – Jose Fernandez skipped AAA and dominated the majors as a rookie. Is that to say Taillon and Glasnow will do the same? Impossible to say, but no more impossible than comparing Taillon to Polanco or Cole…

    • You’re splitting one statement up into two separate statements.

      I’m not saying “They’re not polished pitchers with no flaws. They’re also not waiting for a magic date to pass.”

      I’m saying they’re not those two things together.

    • Do you really expect taillon to have a fip under 6 in his first 40 innings pitched? Cmon stop drinking the koolaid.

        • Sorry. Yes sarcasm mark. Just basically agreeing with you and pointing out the huge disparity between league average and the actual performance we are getting from some members of our rotation.

    • Trevor Story is also an anomaly in that he is producing better in MLB, thanks he ever has in the minors.

      Also if not for the Reyes situation he probably would not have been on the opening day roster.

      Again, everyone looks for examples to fit their own narrative, the facts are the prospects will be up when the Pirates say so, and there is no concrete answer to handle these situations.

        • Many of his homers have been away from Coors, but thats not the point. I can write many examples of successful rookies who have helped their teams win, many I can assure you still had some flaws in their games when promoted.

      • As I wrote below, Story was just one example, there are many rookies who make positive contributions. I am just saying that the Pirates and anyone can always rationalize why I guy needs more time in minors, but in the case of Taillon, its 100% Super 2. I’m fine with that, its just naive to thing its anything else..

        • I don’t think it’s entirely Super 2. I think there’s a major innings control component, which is much easier to handle in AAA. I could see them wanting to wait for Glasnow to also be ready to call up Taillon so they would have the option to piggyback the latter with someone to keep his innings down. Moving two of the current starters to the bullpen would allow them to have that option, plus another long reliever, with neither of those guys being named Lobstein or Vogelsong.

          • Bingo Darkstone42 Many forget Taillon has not pitched in a game in 2 years. 6 AAA games is good but does not mean he is ready 100% to pitch big league games

            • Oh, I think he’s 100% ready to pitch in the big leagues. I just don’t think he’s 100% stretched out to last a full season’s worth of innings without some clever innings control.

              • That is my point as well. I do not think that they really want to pitch him a bunch yet because if all goes well they will need him in October. It is the fine line with him for the number of innings considering his 2 year layoff. Skill wise. Yes. Arm durability is the question.

  5. Talking Super2 costs relative to the Pirates is at least a bit disingenuous since there’s literally zero history of them paying an arb-eligible player through all three or four rounds and just letting him walk. They extend, or they trade, and if any of these guys perform well enough to justify the large 4th-year salaries Tim cites there will be no shortage of teams looking to acquire them.

    The Pittsburgh Pirates are in the overwhelming minority on this issue, relative to the rest of baseball.

    • A big reason for this is that they either:

      1. Didn’t have players who were good enough to consider keeping until they were free agents.
      2. Had those players, but weren’t contending at the time.

      It’s kind of like the arguments saying they’ll trade Cole before he’s in his final year. We just don’t know, because they’ve never been in this situation before where they are expected to be contenders, and have a really good player who is close to FA.

        • Martin wasn’t drafted and developed by the Pirates, and kept through arbitration. He was a free agent who signed a two-year deal, and the second year looked like a massive value.

        • As for not re signing him, Russell Martin was not worth anywhere near what he received from Toronto. I do not blame Russell for bolting for the big bucks. I would have done the same thing. Had the Pirates matched that deal, we would now have a starting catcher making $15 mil this year hitting currently .163 after a year batting .240 in Toronto with the prospects of owing the guy $60 mil more after this year. Cervelli is a much better value. Diaz’s health and the availability of other FA catchers this winter will determine if the Pirates try to extend Cervelli or not

  6. A very clear, concise article on the mechanics of Super 2 grounded with real player examples. This article should be required reading for some of the sports talk show hosts and print media guys who are leading with inflammatory and incorrect statements that ignore the impact of Super 2.

    • Yes it would be good reading for the radio callers with a propensity for hot takes on super 2. Unfortunately though, all the hot takes about how horrible niese and Vogelsong would be appear to have been accurate.

    • Except the examples are those that support Tim’s views – not included are guy like Bryant and Harper and others who HAVE produced at high levels when brought up “early”

  7. Tim … One thing I am not sure about with Super 2, does it count all days? For instance, if you brought Diaz up for
    – the final month in 2015 (say 30 days)
    – the final month of 2016 (another 30 days)
    – spot call ups totaling 80 days in 2017
    for a total of 140 days.
    Then he played full time in 2018 and 2019.

    Would he then be Super 2 in 2020?

    • Another reason why putting crap like Niese and Vogelsong on the field and asking fans to support a team, that is not putting its best players on the field sucks.

      • Ok Tim, Let me ask you a simple question.

        IF Super two did not exist and you were the Pirates GM and your boss called you and said “Tim, we owe it to our loyal fans to put the best 25 players on the Pirates roster – do it”

        What would your best 25 roster look like today?

        • If he called me “Time”, then it probably means I haven’t been in the job enough for him to know my name, let alone for me to know the system. So I’d need more time to evaluate.

            • I was joking around earlier, but I don’t have an answer for you. That would take a lot of thought and a lot of information no one has. One example: what is Taillon’s innings limit? The Pirates have an idea, but they’re not saying. Without that information, I don’t know if it’s a good idea to bring him up now, since I’d want him up for good, rather than shutting him down early. And that’s just one example.

              • Well I will give you a lot of credit for how you handled this difficult topic – but since you won’t take on the “best 25” challenge – here is mine for you to shoot holes in

                C Cervelli
                1B Bell
                2B Harrison
                SS Mercer
                3B Kang
                LF McCutchen
                CF Marte
                RF Polanco

                Bench Stewart
                Bench Frazier
                Bench Joyce
                Bench Rodriquez
                Bench Freese

                Starter Cole
                Starter Liriano
                Starter Tailon
                Starter Glasnow
                Starter Locke

                Bullpen Melancon
                Bullpen Watson
                Bullpen Hughes
                Bullpen Feliz
                Bullpen Boscan
                Bullpen Nicasio
                Bullpen Kuhl

                • Did John Jaso die?

                  Or is your point that all those names on the bench are actually better than Jaso?

                  • Would try and flip Freeze, Joyce and Jaso…
                    Jaso is limited to first base so if you can get something back fro him he would be first to go…

                    Freese will likely have more value as you get to the trade deadline – if you can get a good return on him then I would consider adding Hanson

                    Joyce COULD be moved – but he does offer some power and experience off of the bench and can rest the corner guys as we get into July and later..

  8. I just get a bit feisty when you – and others point to Polanco – I can and will point to Kris
    Bryant. The Cubs brought Bryant up in April and he produced – 6.5 WAR fort 2015 and it can be argued that had they left him in Iowa to avoid Super Two they would not have made the wild card last year. The idea that Polanco failing to perform was a given – or that Bryant performing was a sure thing is overly simplistic.

    As i have said over and over again – baseball is a very hard game to play – and an even harder game to predict.

    What is a sure thing is that Niese is not as good as Locke right now – and shows no sign of being a quality ML starter – Voglesong is a wreck. As a fan I find it offensive that this FO continues to put these two on the field when there are two [or more] better pitchers waiting in Indy for a date to pass. I consider it an insult to loyal fans who have supported the Pirates through the 36 years without a flag of any sort.

    • Your argument is based on the assumption that we just don’t know what will happen when guys come up. The people who follow the players have a pretty good idea of what to expect.

      I don’t cover the Cubs, obviously, but everything I read on Kris Bryant prior to that season said that he was ready for the majors on Opening Day. The fact that they called him up so early and he had success wasn’t an example of a story that worked out. It was an example of a player who was ready at that time.

      Polanco wasn’t ready on Opening Day. He wasn’t even ready in the middle of May. He legitimately had things to work on, and a lot of those things remained after he was called up. If he was called up before Super Two, it wouldn’t have been a coin toss or a spin of the wheel to see if he was ready.

      You’re taking a blanket approach that prospects are unpredictable, and we don’t know who will have success and who won’t. Ultimately that’s true, but we have a pretty good idea. This idea leads to an informed decision, which is what leads to someone like Bryant coming up early, and someone like Polanco staying down until after Super Two (or someone like Marte staying down for an extra month and a half after Super Two).

      • There is a very long list of players who were “major league ready” who failed – and an equally long list of players who were called up to fill a need or fill a void and thrived – that is probably something like Fangrahs can tackle better then I can or PP can or should tackle. We can only agree that we disagree.

        • You’re separating the second group from the first group, and that’s not the case. The players who were called up to fill a need or a void were also Major League ready.

          The accurate statement here is: Some players who are Major League ready succeed, and some don’t, and not all players are Major League ready at the same time.

    • Baseball is a game of Failure. I think the Pirates are looking at 2017. The Cubs and Pirates have about the same hitting, although the Cubs do a better job scoring runs. The major difference is Pitching. The Cubs have poured lot of $$$$ into their pitching. Last year their pitching was good, this year, lights out. You can put runs on the board (rockies) but not win. The Pirates starters are keeping us in the games, but not helping the bullpen. A bullpen cannot be worked 3-4 innings every game, and i haven’t looked at the stats, but I would think they only have a handful of starts that get into the 7th inning. Kansas City is having a hard time for that very reason. I really don’t think anything the Pirates do this year is going to put them on par with the Cubs.

    • I don’t get how you flat out say in the second paragraph that baseball is so hard to predict, but then you can say with such certainty that Glasnow and Taillon would be better than any of our SPs right now. I certainly don’t feel that way. I think it MIGHT be true but they could easily underperform what any of our starters are currently doing.

      • The only way we will know if Tailon and Glasnow are better – or worse than Niese and Vogelsong is to bring them up and see how they do. What we DO know is that Niese and Voglelsong have not performed at replacement level -0.5 fWAR/-0.3fWAR respectively.

        Should Tailon and Glasnow fail – there are other options – Kuhl and Boscan – heck maybe even Duncan and Keller

        • Right, thats all true.

          So is the fact that its an easier gamble to make when its not a 10-20 million dollar gamble.

          I guarantee we’d all take a far more nuanced approach to this discussion if we actually had millions invested in the decision.

  9. Super 2 is pretty straightforward and I think most people I talk to accept the reality. What is more concerning is is the 7th inning where niese stumbled and handed the game over to Vogelsong who proceeded to fumble through 4 miraculous outs and who knows how many base runners. Well those 2 guys , niese and Vogelsong/ nh envisioned about 25 starts between the 2 of them to get up to super 2. That is the true fiasco we are facing. So now we have pitcher a half win below replacement in the rotation and a 2 pitch reliever imitating a starter to cover for the vogelsong signing.

    • Vogelsong was awful, but I don’t put the blame on him since Reds didn’t score.

      In 8th, Cutch gets on. Polanco is given a green light on a 3-0 and swings at ball well out of the zone, flying out. Marte then hits a grounder he should have beaten out if he was going full tilt. Bases should have been loaded no outs. Instead Cutch is on 2nd, two outs.

      It’s been noted the Cubs are doing all the little things to win. The Bucs aren’t.

      • Yes regarding last night I agree. But my larger point is given the reality of super 2 nh should have had a better plan to get to June 10 than Jon niese as his number 3 and Vogelsong as his number 5. The vogelsomg mistake was compounded by having to replace him with a key piece from the bullpen. Nh is a great gym but that was some very poor work this winter.

  10. that’s why I wait for super 2 passes to buy my tickets for the year. because I want to go see the best possible pirate team. So I guess it is about money.

    • But if that’s truly the case, you wouldn’t buy tickets until September, since the prospects who do come up are going to be much better at that point than they are in mid-June, thus leading to the best possible Pirates team.

      • How can you say that? Maybe they would be worse or the league figured them out and they have to adjust. These sites that give out projections for what they think will happen with a player’s performance or truly subjective. I doubt these guys have watched every pitch that glasnow and taillon have thrown this year. Of course we readers have the advantage of reading about every inning so probably have better knowledge then the professionals 🙂

      • you don’t know that, polanco had a great start his first year than faded in sept. there no straight lines in baseball.ps I guess my point is tallion and glasnow are better than 60% of our current rotation, if they move nicasio to the bullpen, hell niese might turn things around by moving to the pen and throwing full speed for one inning.

        • To be factually correct, Polanco faded in July, August, and September.

          Unless sub .230 hitting on any level is “good”. Greg had 1 good month, and then was a struggling rookie.

          So that really doesnt help any argument stating “i wait until the young guy comes up since that’ll be the best team possible”. Will be some years, wont be others. Thank god for Travis Snider….

  11. Since JT missed 2 years with injuries, how long do we have him for under contract still? Do we automatically get 6 years when he is called up? Or even Glasnow, because he is so young do we get him for even longer?

    • Yes, major league regs are separate from minor league free agency. And no, it works the same for Glasnow. It doesn’t matter if you get promoted when you’re 19 or 29.

    • A player gets seven years under a minor league contract if they’re not added to the 40-man roster prior to that.

      Once they’re added to the 40-man roster, they get three option years where they can spend time in the minors.

      Then, once they come up to the majors, they get 6+ years of service time.

      The Pirates had Taillon under a minor league deal from 2010-2014. They added him to the 40-man roster during the 2014-15 off-season. He has spent the last year and a half in the minors, using two of his option years (this is the second year). From there, he will have 6.5 years in the majors when he comes up, assuming he stays up.

      This means you can have control of a player for 16 years with all three things considered.

    • The “Nutting is cheap” is not in play due to Super Two. It’s in play because there were better (albeit more expensive) options than Vogelsong and Niese the Bucs could’ve acquired during the offseason.

      • Yes exactly. Whether people want to,say it’s because nutting is cheap or simply because nh and his staff did some very poor analysis it all amounts to the same thing. This pitching staff was very poorly constructed.

  12. Clearly defines the process but the Nutting family is very very very Frugal. Also I believe Neil Walker was /is a Super Two player. This could of impacted the reason he was traded.

    • The reason Walker was traded is that he’ll be a free agent after this year, and they were attempting to get some value for him. So far, the jury is still out on that. But worst case, it’s a wash by the end of the season. Offensively, it would be nice to still have Walker, but it’s hard to say they’re missing it. I mean, Harrison’s hitting over .300, and S-Rod found steroids. So it’s fine….probably fine.

      • How is a trade which caused you to insert a pitcher with a fip over 6 and below replacement into your rotation as a number 3 pitcher a wash? Or are you assuming niese just gets a lot better by end of year. Why not just non tender Walker and use the savings on something that could help this team like another reliever or 2.

        • John W, you are spot on correct. The nine to ten million dollars that they could have saved by non-tendering Walker would have gone a long way to retaining J.A. Happ, or bringing in someone else who is more of a reliable commodity than Niese and Voglesong.

      • Ian – All I was stating was that I believe that Walker was a SUPER 2 and if not his salary would of been less this year since he would have another year of arbitration. I did not reflect on the trade value only the fact he was getting a higher arb. salary because of SUPER TWO.

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