Today there was a rumor from Jon Morosi that the Baltimore Orioles were interested in Francisco Liriano, but the Pirates didn’t want to trade him as they continued to push for the playoffs.

I can’t think of a rumor or a tweet that perfectly sums up the current Pirates situation. They are currently five games back from the second wild card spot. They are four games under .500. One of the (many) reasons they’re so far back is because Francisco Liriano has struggled this year.

And yet Liriano has value. It could be that this is the beginning of the end for him, and he won’t get back to what he was doing from 2013-15. But right now, he’s that pitcher who is just having a few bad months and can be turned around. If a team like the Orioles would want him to help them in 2016, then the Pirates would be in the same situation.

For all of the talk about bringing up Tyler Glasnow or Chad Kuhl or bringing someone in via trade, nothing will really help the Pirates if they don’t get guys like Liriano back on track. They’re stuck in a situation that is created by the likes of Liriano, Tony Watson, Gerrit Cole’s injury, and all of their former productive middle relievers. That’s also a situation that can only be fixed by those players turning things around.

But at what point do the Pirates give up? When do they decide that even if those players turn it around, they still won’t be contenders?

The Pirates might be just five games back at mid-season, and that’s not a lot. But they’ve got three teams ahead of them in the standings, plus the second wild card team, plus two teams that are right behind them. They also have a brutal schedule, with four against the Dodgers, two against the Mariners on the road, four on the road against the Cardinals, and three at home against the Cubs before the All-Star break. Then, they come out of the break with three against the Nationals.

It could very well be that the Pirates end up sellers after all of that, falling to that point where they are so far out of it that it wouldn’t matter if their guys turn things around.

But there’s another thing to consider here. Liriano is under control through the 2017 season. Even if the prospects all arrive and perform well, the Pirates will need additional starters. They could go with Jon Niese, but his best wouldn’t compare to Liriano’s best. Having a rotation of Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Tyler Glasnow, and Chad Kuhl is a best-case scenario for the start of the 2017 season, as there’s no guarantee all of them will be ready by then, and no guarantee that they will all be productive, since rookies can be inconsistent.

So even if Liriano turns it around this year and it’s too late to help the 2016 team, he could help the 2017 team. And since the 2017 free agent pitching market looks like hot garbage, it would be hard to imagine finding a better option than him. You’d likely be looking at finding an option with his upside, who you would also have to fix.

The same can be said for Tony Watson (one more year of control, and good luck finding a replacement with more upside from this current bullpen), or other players who could help the team beyond 2016.

Of course, the conversation gets interesting next month when talking about players like Mark Melancon, who is only under control through the end of the season, or someone like John Jaso, who is blocking a top prospect who would be called up if the season didn’t matter, or if there wasn’t a productive first baseman already performing in the majors. And I don’t even want to get into Andrew McCutchen and Austin Meadows.

The 2016 Pirates are a frustrating group. They’ve got a good team, and a lot of good prospects on the way. But some of their best players aren’t performing at the big league level, they’ve dealt with a ton of injuries, and the prospects aren’t ready. So the result is that they’re probably not contending in 2016, but still have a good chance to contend in future years. If they reach the point where they are sellers this year, any trade needs to come with those considerations.

**Pirates’ Inefficient Offense Proves Costly. Alan Saunders recaps the latest loss, where the pitching let one slip away, and the offense failed to score on chances in three innings in a row when down by one run.

**The Challenges of Evaluating the Pirates Middle Relievers. Alan looks at how it has been challenging to evaluate the middle relievers when none of them have been up for long enough stretches to get an evaluation.

**Prospect Watch: Glasnow Throws Seven No-Hit Innings. Speaking of prospects not being ready, this was the second no-hit outing by Glasnow in a row. The last one didn’t look good. This one looked great, and John Dreker broke down why.

**Injury Updates: Gerrit Cole to Miss Another Start. He won’t be ready to return on Sunday, which means the Pirates will need a starter that day.

**Pirates Call Up Kyle Lobstein, Option Wilfredo Boscan. The Pirates get some bullpen help for a few days.

**Mitch Keller Looks Like He’s on the Path to Being a Future Ace. Abigail Miskowiec looks at the progression Mitch Keller has seen this year, and how he’s on the path to being a future ace.

**Morning Report: The Best and Worst of the First Half for Altoona. John Dreker continues his first half breakdowns, this time with Altoona.

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116 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t know about you, but I think the loss of Jim Benedict is hurting the Bucs more than anyone will admit. Ray Searage can’t do it all.

  2. Tim you seem to ignore another possibility. That he Pirates use the $ saved from Liriano, some additional money that should be available, and prospects to make a trade like the Rangers did last year for Cole hamels. I don’t think trades have to be for starting over and for prospects purely. Maybe the hamels trade isn’t out there this season. But Liriano most certainly isn’t part of 2018 plans and it’s a roll of the dice in my mind that he recovers his form. If he does in the near future then ya he is needed. But it’s at lest 50/50 that he doesn’t isn’t it?

  3. I would hate to tell NMR whose been quiet for a while that he’s right about this season bc it’s getting very close! I will still believe!

  4. Another sterling performance by Niese today….and another HR given up in the process….the Mets must be giggling in glee….

  5. The Pirates are in an odd situation. I believe they are a good to great team/organization having a bad year. I would trade Freeze and Feliz, maybe Jaso and if someone wanted Neise, but not Frank. In an ideal scenario my 2017 roster is every position player with Bell starting and Jaso on the bench, with Hanson taking a bench spot as well. My rotation is Cole, JT, TG, Frank, Locke/Kuhl/Boscan/Kingham and my pen is centered around Melancon, Watson, Nicasio, Hughes, DuRapau. That is a championship roster. I give Mark the QO and pay him huge bucks for 1 year nobody will be willing to offer more if they lose the pick. Bring in a few middle relievers and retain Joyce/Srod and this team can win it all. Keep calm, bucco on

    • Not sure about the QO for Melancon for two reasons…

      1. It’s a bad idea.
      2. It may not exist. The CBA expires at the end of the season and the PA hates the QO. From everything I’ve read, they’re going to try to scrap it.

  6. Melancon, Freese and Feliz are my top 3 to be traded in July. Free agents at the end of the year and all preforming at a good (Freese, Feliz) to great (Melancon) level.

    • I could see all of that. Also could see the Pirates trying to get a deal worked out for Feliz to keep him around for the back end of the pen.

    • I somewhat agree…I don’t fully because I’m terrified of what the Pirates bullpen would look like minus Melancon and Feliz. If those two are dealt, 85-90 losses are within our grasp;

      • That wouldn’t be that bad. They would nab a high pick and already be set up to contend next year. All they will need to do is add a SP and rebuild a bullpen that was going to lose Melancon and Feliz anyway.

        • Long term, yeah…I agree…short term…ugh, with those two gone, you’d be looking at a pen of? Lemme think…

          Watson, Hughes, Schugel, Nicasio, Caminero, and Vogelsong(?) with someone from the Boscan/Luebke/Lobstein/Partch/Rondon/Mystery Pitcher group filling the #7 spot. And, since these guys are getting battered…and the SP isn’t much of a help, the team is almost going to need eight relievers.

          The rest of ’16 is just going to look damned ugly.

  7. let the dumping begin, frankie, jaso, locke, neice, cutch. bring up the younsters and save some money for next year. This should have started 2 weeks ago.

    • The logic is to trade when the bidding begins. The competition for anyone is closer to the deadline to maximize the return for the assets so NO to 2 weeks ago.

      • I could go either way…right now you’ve got a lot of teams who think they’re contenders (the Pirates, for instance πŸ™‚ ). By the deadline, a lot of them may turn into sellers and reduce the number of potential buyers. Not sure what the right answer is other than to answer the phone whenever it rings see what’s being offered.

        • The Pirates could actually wind up with a excellent return if he could just pitch to a 4.00 ERA or better between now and the deadline. He would be the best SP available (especially with Rich Hill hurt) that is available. Plus the fact that Pirates would project to contend next year so they can play the we don’t really need or want to trade him card. Then hope teams are so desperate to win this year they fork over an elite prospect for him.

          • A 4.00 over his next 5 starts would help, but he’s been getting progressively worse.

            Starts 1-5: 3.86 ERA
            Starts 6-10: 5.34 ERA
            Starts 11-14: 6/75 ERA

            If he’s not traded, he needs to be a better pitcher…if he’s going to be traded, he needs a better pitcher…he needs to be a better pitcher πŸ™‚

              • If I knew…I’d be the pitching coach! πŸ™‚

                From what I’ve seen from catching about half his starts…batters aren’t swinging at his junk. Well, his pitches out of the strike zone, that is…if they were swinging at his ‘junk’ they’d have to be standing about 60 feet closer πŸ™‚

                Liriano has excelled with the Pirates because batters went after stuff out of the zone. Now, they’re not biting. I’m not enough of an expert to say whether it’s because he’s missing just a tad too much or hitters have just had the epiphany of: “Damn! He’s not even throwing strikes! Why in the hell are we swinging?”

                If it’s the former, hopefully an adjustment can be made. If it’s the latter…send him packing ASAP.

    • I’m not opposed to shedding, but I don’t know about the names on that list…

      Liriano? I can’t believe much is being offered. The rumor was Dylan Bundy. Meh, the only reason you take something like that is if you don’t think he can rebuild any value in the next 5 weeks.

      Jaso? Yup…no qualms.

      Locke? I can’t envision any contender that would be looking to put him in their rotation…heck, the Pirates aren’t even contending and have no use for him.

      Niese? A slightly better version of Locke. Somebody really desperate may bite. Texas maybe?

      Cutch? A lot of the same arguments as for Liriano. I don’t see his value being anywhere near what it could be. As well, the team has no replacement for him until you want to run Joyce out there full time or promote Rogers. Meadows isn’t ready, Fraziers’ D is highly suspect.

      Also…as far as replacements…wut? With Cole on the DL and Nicasio going to the pen, you’re talking about replacing the entire rotation.

      • Which is why the Pirates won’t being doing much trading . They still need to run out an MLB starter every game. Right now they are having trouble doing even that. No time to be cleaning house.

        • They’ll be a little, I think. especially guys who have value and whose position can be filled from below.

          Jaso can be replaced by Bell.
          S-Rod by Frazier, Hanson.
          Joyce by Rogers.
          Freese by Rogers, Hanson, Bell.

          I wouldn’t be shocked to see the bench go and have them replaced from Indy. And, quite honestly, the Pirates could probably end up snagging something in the deals…most of the 6-8 acquisitions will fail, but there’ll be enough of them that one (or hopefully two) will amount to something. As for pitchers, there are only two that have value…Cole and Liriano. If Huntington trades Cole, he better damned well empty out someone’s farm system. Liriano is tradable, but the value is so low….well, unless Dave Stewart is on the other end of the deal…. πŸ™‚

          The problem with this season from the very beginning was, few…from management down to the fans…wanted to admit what this was a hail mary for a WC while trying to get rookies substantial playing time. The Cubs pulled that off last season, but it’s not an easy trick. The odds are against being able to do both. They were able to do it because they had the money to grab Lester and happened to have the best pitcher in baseball not named Kershaw.

          Cutch should have been traded in December. I’m no genius, but even someone as limited me saw it. His value was peak, the Pirates were likely to regress, he was cheap, and the Bucs could have gotten just about any team’s top 2-3 prospects. Hell, after the Shelby Miller deal…they might’ve gotten 4.

          • Interesting thoughts. I agree on moving the bench closer to the deadline. NH would have had to hire bodyguards if he had traded Cutch last Winter. In hindsight, yes it would have been the right move to make. But what GM would have had the balls to do it?

            • Me…thankfully for all the Pirates fans…and my own personal safety…the job is not mine. (However, I will take the salary if offered.) πŸ™‚

              I floated what I thought was my idea of a very balanced trade in the off-season…and damned near everyone hated it because the Pirates were getting robbed…which tells me it was probably pretty balanced πŸ™‚

              Cutch to the Rangers for Mazara, Profar and Deshields Jr.

              Oops on the last one…damn kid really tanked it…but…wow…could you imagine having the other two on this team? Mazara alone would be making people who was going to be traded next to make room for Meadows…Marte or Polanco πŸ™‚

              It’s the curse of the small market team though…you’ve gotta sell high and no one can be untouchable. Keep the pipeline filled, promote, and deal ay peak.

              Agreed though…Cutch traded in the off-season would have set off a fan revolt. On the other hand…had it paid off…the fans would have accepted more the next time ’round.

  8. For the right price is key. Teams over pay for players at the trade deadline. I would prefer he turned around his pitching and be a part of a much better staff in 2017. Cole , Tallion, Liriano, Glasnow?,Locke maybe Niese is Liriano is traded is OK,

  9. You can never have enough pitchers and Liriano can be a good one. Moreover he is a less expensive option than what you’d find on the open market. The Pirates stated policy is “We don’t pay market value for pitching,” so I don’t think Liriano is going anywhere.

  10. First off, what would Balt offer? Bundy? Sorry….not impressed. I would want more. Besides, Bundy is out of options. We’d have to fix him at the MLB level. And, the parent club doesn’t like to do that.

    Their farm system was rated #27 by BA, pre-season.

    What else do they have to offer? Hunter Harvey hasn’t pitched since 2014.

          • Yep pretty much. I mean I have no idea how they think they could get Pomeranz. Bundy was rated their top prospect coming into this year and we are talking about him being traded for a pitcher with a 5+ ERA at the MLB level. I was reading MLBTR’s comments and even Orioles fans on there weren’t totally opposed to that trade. Hunter Harvey is still hurt. They won’t trade from their MLB roster. They are in a really bad spot. Fringy contenders that don’t have the assets to acquire pieces they need.

    • This might be a case where a third team enters to make a trade work. Still, the Birds don’t seem to have the assets to make any type trade.

  11. I think it comes down to whether the Pirates think they can fix Frankie for the rest of this year and especially next year. If not I would trade him. They may consider trading him even if they haven’t given up on the season. He is lined up with TG. Right now he frustrates me more than Locke although I am probably in the minority with this opinion. At least we get to see good Locke fairly often. I haven’t seem good Frankie for a while. Frankie’s past performance is in the past. He may be up for another comeback award next year. If so then he is a bargain. If not I would rather keep Locke around and use Frankie’s salary elsewhere. I also don’t assume that they will trade Melancon. He is not a fire thrower like Chapman so there will not be as much interest from other teams. I know it goes against the perceived management philosophy but I would not rule out an extension or the Pirates signing him to a 3/27 type deal in the off season.

    • Reports indicate Liriano and Searage recently had a blowup. Things like that lead to players becoming expendable.

      As for MM, I would not expect him to be at PNC next season, unless he’s on a visiting team.

      • I think the chance Mark is back next year is less than 50% but not zero. Unless the Yankees want him I don’t see him getting a huge contract and the pirates have already shown they will pay 10MM for one year.

        • The Yankees have been pretty frugal with their money in FA over the last few years. I could see Melancon getting 4/40 on the open market. I don’t think the Pirates would have paid that for Melancon if it wasn’t arbitration. I don’t think they will pay a reliever more than 3-4 million per year.

  12. Perhaps he can only be fixed in Miami — where Jim Benedict is.

    I still have to wonder if the massive fall off across the staff as a whole has something to do with Benedict no longer being a part of the organization. And am still curious as to how much input he provided at the Major League level throughout the course of a season.

    • That sounds like a convenient solution, but I have my doubts that we can blame it all on Benedict. I suspect coincidence more than anything.

      • I’d still love to know how involved Benedict might be at the ML level given the struggles this year. Seems we can’t get anyone straightened out — even guys with proven track records of success — something Benedict was fairly proficient at tapping into.

        • By my recollection, Benedict had very little to do with MLB staff. The only time MLB pitchers worked with Benedict was spring training and if they were rehabbing an injury at Pirate City.

          • He was also instrumental in finding the flaws to be fixed though. I don’t think the loss of Benedict is the reason why our team suddenly can’t pitch, but I also think it is one less really important resource to help correct the problem.

            I think talent is why we’ve seen such a dramatic falloff in pitching that combined with poor seasons from the more talented pitchers on staff.

      • Convenient excuse likely, but hard o ignore that he left and things went deep south. Not just south but off the deep end. Coincidence? Maybe…but something tells me losing him hasn’t helped

        • Just googled “Jim Benedict” and found the article written in the PG back when he was hired away. Cites him as working very closely with Searage on Liriano, Volquez and Melancon, amongst others. Perhaps Jim could get Frankie back on track — he’s done it before. But he ain’t here anymore. So you have to wonder, CAN the Pirates fix him?

          • Miami is a team also looking for SP. They have young talent. I could see a deal with them before Baltimore.

        • Then there’s this gem from from a Trib article in late 2013…

          “As chief troubleshooter, he is adept at tagging pitching problems and solving not only the immediate ones but also the deeper issues.”

          They miss Benedict right now. Period. And I gotta believe his impact on the staff was huge!

    • Not saying he couldn’t help, but the biggest problem is guys who have a record of performance, haven’t lived up to their past performances. That includes both pitchers and position players.

    • If Benedict’s departure is the reason for the Buccos’ struggling pitchers, then why are Volquez and Happ still pitching well? They are two of Benedict’s biggest reclamation projects, yet they are no longer associated with him either.

      • Nothing says a guy can’t continue to implement a game plan and/or an adjustment that was made. It’s when he runs off the rails that it seems Benedict was so influential in getting him back on track.

        The Pirates have a bunch of guys that have “run off the rails” and the Pitcher Whisper isn’t there to fix them anymore.

        • Maybe Liriano is just washed up. He’s 32 and he’s had numerous injuries throughout his career. Might be best to unload him now and get a prospect for him while also trimming some payroll. Cole, Glasnow and Taillon as a top 3 sounds like a good start. Add in Kuhl and Kingham and we might have something.

  13. I am starting to worry about next year. Many of thought that this was a roll the dice year – and it is. But we all thought that Hanson, Bell, Glasnow, and Kuhl would be up now with Taillon. This would then set the stage for a second wave next year.

    Bell is ready (to hit at least) but is blocked. Hanson is struggling. (So are Moroff and Garcia who is now looking like a bit of a bust.) Kuhl seems to have hit a wall but there is hope he could soon be ready. Glasnow seemed to show great improvement last start and could also be ready soon even without the change up – so that we can answer once and for all if it is needed.

    So to determine if Bell, Glasnow, and Kuhl are rMLB ready, they need to be brought up in the next few weeks
    Which means moving Jaso to the bench, moving Locke to the pen (or trading him), and when Cole returns either trading Liriano or moving Neise to the pen.

    The last thing we want would be a repeat of this off season where the choice is to start rookies without any experience to find temporary free agents to fill a short term gap.

    • But we all thought that Hanson, Bell, Glasnow, and Kuhl would be up now with Taillon.

      No, we “ALL” didn’t. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  14. Locke and Neise both have 6 wins. Having your back end starters over 500 is a good thing.

    Having your back end starters projected to win 10 games or more, is a good thing.

  15. Disagree with everyone who wants to trade Liriano. He’s having an awful season, that’s not debatable, but trading him now makes very little sense. This season is gone and I don’t care that the record was similar in 2014. Cutch is bad, the rotation is terrible, and the bullpen a revolving door of shit. It is what it is and 2016 is a dumpster fire.

    With that said you have to look ahead a little I think and this is where things get interesting. Liriano is extremely cost effective for the pitcher he has proven he can be. In fact you could definitely not find a better option for less money in my opinion. Now that assumes he can pitch like he did for 3 straight years for us. I prefer sending him to DL and getting him some time off and some more bullpen work and getting him right for next year. All you looking to trade him, what do you replace him with in 2017? Which lefty are you wanting and expecting to pitch like a #2 starter?

    We gave very few left options, first (see Jeff Locke), and second we have very few if any options tht can compare to Liriano when he’s right and on. You keep Liriano and work to get him right again (see suggestion above) and then add him to Cole, Glasnow, Taillon in 2017.

    Simply put: results aside right now you have almost 0% chance of getting a more talented pitcher for 2017 for less than Liriano, especially a lefty.

    This year is over…prepare for next. I would move Melancon, Niese, and one of SRod, Joyce, and Freese…

      • Niese, to me, is nothing more than a 5th starter and likely could be replaced by Brault for similar production. I get the depth move go keep him though.

        • He could but it is also possible he could not. Niese has the 2nd best xFIP of all the Pirates current starters. I would hold on to him and move Locke if I had to move a pitcher.

          • Niese has the 2nd worst xFIP of his career this year, worst if you discount his first 3 professional starts in 08. He also has NEGATIVE value with a -0.5 WAR.

    • The raised strike zone next season will have a negative effect on Liriano.

      Liriano’s bullpens have not gone well lately. If he’s not receptive to coaching, how is he going to improve?

      It might work out that Liriano rebounds. But if he doesn’t he’s easily replaced.

      Guess it all depends on which side of the fence you’re standing on.

      • How do we know/since when is he not receptive to coaching? He’s been active in helping recruit guys here based on the coaching and clearly was receptive to coaching when he did a 360 and became a top of the rotation arm for the Last 3 years.

  16. By this point in the season, I hopefully expected Glasnow to push his BB/9 rate down to 3-3.5. I believe the Pirates can live with that. I did not expect Kuhl to become easy to hit. The ML rotation would have been

    Cole
    Liriano
    Taillon
    Glasnow
    Kuhl

    By the end of this season and early in the 2017 season, the Pirates would have had a group of 1-3 starters. They mostly would be young, cheap, and at least effective on the mound.

    But Liriano’s implosion this season, Glasnow’s inconsistent control of his pitches and Kuhl’s difficulties have undermined this plan and put the FO into a tough situation.

    I doubt the O’s want to pay much for Liriano. If so, that would make it easy for the Pirates to keep him in Pittsburgh. Why move Liriano for long-shots and salary relief if the team believes they can get him back to where he was?

  17. I have to believe that the Pirates could get good returns on Joyce, Jaso, and Freese – SRod not so much, but if we can net a B prospect for him, I’d do it….

    • Most agree with you Bucco. We can get some good value on these players. Several contending teams need a decent 3rd baseman. You have Frazier and Matt playing good at Indy. Bring them up. Replace Serpico.

    • I understand that basically our whole bench could net positive assets in trades but I can’t see Joyce being moved simply because they don’t have anyone to call up from AAA to replace him. Marte’s been banged up lately, Cutch is hitting in the .230 range as the All Star break nears, Meadows isn’t getting the call to sit 3-4 out of five games, J-Hey isn’t playing outfield anymore, which leaves Frazier or Hanson most likely as our 4th OF. No thanks, if any bench piece is moved, I’m guessing it’s Freese.

      • The decision to trade in this situation regarding the bench always depends on the return 1st, not the aftermath. IF they trade, I find it hard to believe the FO isn’t trading away 1-yr deals which is the whole bench. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a no-brainer that Joyce, Freese and S-Rod are gone! As for the 4th OF, Hanson and/or Frazier WILL be called up for the spot bc they have been getting groomed for the utility all season. Prospects come up! No-brainer!

      • Isn’t Joyce on a one year deal? If so, unless they are going to extend him, they should trade him and get something for the future – this season is lost. Bring up one of the Indy guys and see what they have or don’t have….

  18. It would likely be a pipe dream for the Pirates to get a Brach or Givens for Liriano, but if they could land one of those two straight up, I’d make the trade today. This team is not going anywhere this year – far too flawed pitching wise. Liriano is getting older and is expensive, given his performance this year – now if they could somehow package Niese or Locke with him in a bigger deal, better yet….

    • No one is giving up grade A prospects for our shit. That’s first.

      Second. I love how unable fans are to use logic at all. Liriano is having a bad year. He’s also bee INCREDIBLE for us and still has the talent. And he us incredibly cost effective for his talent. You have NO replacement for him. You have NO access to a lefty with his ability for cheaper…and you want to get rid of him?

      It was short sighted and stupid to let Volquez and Happ go for free after working them to a better place. It would be idiotic to trade Liriano and that contract (which only will require 1.5 WAR) with no replacement and an almost impossibility to replace his talent with similar cost.

      • I agree w you on Liriano esp w the fact of an upcoming weak free agency class that we won’t compete in.

        I have to squash this whole Volquez drama that you’re hooked on! If the FO didn’t sign Liriano that offseason, then we would’ve signed Volquez as the insurance. The Pirates were not signing BOTH so please let it go. What’s short sighted is you believing they could’ve fit both in the budget! I’ll give you Happ which was a #1 priority FAILURE!

        • I think you mean that the Pirates wouldn’t have signed Burnett. The Pirates took on Burnett’s salary as well as additional salaries at the deadline thst certainly would have made it possible to afford Volquez.

          Now we could debate whether we preferred Burnett over Volquez for sure.

        • By the way just for the actual numbers…Liriano+Burnett cost $1M MORE than Liriano+Volquez would have. Volquez was signed for 2 years with $20M guaranteed but that includes his buyout guarantee for his option year in 2017. He cost $7.5M in 2015 and $9.5M this year.

          • Can’t keep everybody dude! They had Burnett wrapped already before those decisions regardless if Volquez would’ve given them another year! Morton coming back from TJ surgery and Locke/Worley were already in the plans at that time as the #4/#5. Sorry! NO ROOM!

            • The Pirates signed Burnett, what Nov 14th? Volquez signed Dec 28th or so? So, yes, Volquez signed later but he was a part of the 2014 roster so they had the opportunity to sign him before Burnett even. I loved Burnett so I’m not mad we had him. I’m just demonstrating that yes they could have signed Volquez still and he’s an incredible value for the Royals.

              Also Worley was in the bullpen until Morton proved not to be ready and he had to slot into #5 spot. He would have still been in the pen if there were another rotation option.

              • They didn’t resign Volquez and Happ for reasons only known to them. If either of them were sucking , you wouldn’t be saying anything about them. That’s a lazy mans argument

              • Man! You’re a persistent one! Yes they “could’ve” signed him but they obviously favored Burnett and Liriano(who signed at the winter meetings and originally wasn’t expected to be signed) over Volquez. IF Burnett would’ve played for another year then Volquez would def be a moot point. Edison was the odd man out!

                You’re forgetting Locke in all this and he was even outplayed by Worley but Worley was thought to translate to the bullpen better. I would take Volquez over Locke anyday but at the time Morton was still the #4 man at the time w his $6-7 million salary and Locke/Worley were the cheaper #5 options and that’s how the budget rolls! Respect that budget!

    • Im not saying it never happened, but when has a team traded away 3/5 of its starting rotation at the deadline?

      • They aren’t trading 3/5 of the rotation. That doesn’t even make sense. If our rotation is so bad–which it is by the way–why would others trade for our garbage?
        (And yes I know it wasn’t your idea to trade 3/5th…I’m answering yur question).

  19. You would think someone like a Matt Joyce would have a pretty decent value right now with the way he is playing, if you could get a return similar to what we gave up to get Byrd…

    • Honestly if they decide to sell they should get decent returns for Joyce, Freese, and Rodriguez. Melancon should bring them a very nice return as well.

  20. “You’re likely looking at finding an option with his upside, who you would also have to fix.”

    I’d like to see some progress made this season with regards to the current pitchers. With the pitching being almost dismal, you would think if the Pirates were to magically fix next season’s pitchers, they could help the current crop.

    Fixing no longer seems to be an option, much less a plan.

  21. Seriously who in their right mind would want Liriano? This does not make any sense. Morosi made this up.

  22. Some excellent points Tim and I applaud your fortitude and patience, but, if somebody wants Francisco Liriano, who has only one year remaining under contract to the Pirates, it would depend on what that team has to offer, and what the path forward will be for the Pirates. I think B’more has a limited window, and the AL East is up for grabs this year.

    I had hoped that Cole and Liriano would have strong years and be able to help develop the young arms, but the whole team seems to have regressed this year. The Pirates are not out of the WC yet, but changes have to be made. I favor bringing up kids who would be full of excitement, and hope that their youthful enthusiasm will help turn this thing around. They would need guidance from our team leaders, and sometimes helping others brings out the best in us. If we do that, I favor keeping Liriano.

    • Trading Liriano would be as stupid as not signing Happ or Volquez to reasonable deals after reviving their careers.

        • Yeah? You think so, huh? Too bad you must not have been here to see I said all of this as it was happening in the offseason(s). You do know what a Monday Morning QB is, right? Or should someone explain that to you?

          Maybe get your facts straight before being an idiot.

          • LOL. Were you in meetings with NH and the player’s agents?

            BTW, I’m sorry I missed what you said in the off season. I’m sure it was as exhilarating as what you always write.

            I’ll make sure to tune in from now on.

            • You think this offseason strategy was a better one huh? You would be in the minority.

              Feel free not to comment at all (or “tune in” as you call it).

              • Please stop deflecting. Were you privy to the talks between NH and the player’s agents. Yes or no.

                • No. Were you? No members of the media or any of the writers here were eithet. Doesn’t mean they aren’t equally right that the Pirates dropped the ball both with Volquez and Happ and that this last offseason plan was no a good one.

                  Your point is an idiotic one, bereft of any value except for argumentative value.

                  • LOL. You’re quite the emotionally charged one.

                    It’s easy to criticize the Pirates by looking at Happ’s and Volquez’s stats, but if they outright sucked, you wouldn’t say a word.

                    You need to learn to take the good with the bad , instead of whining like a HS girl when things aren’t going well.

                    • Thanks for the life advice. Since I’m here to talk about baseball, though, I’ll cotinue to do that.

                      And now look who is deflecting. You clearly are unable to provide anything substantive for discussion so I’m quite happy not to hear from you again.

                      PS: You pay for a site that is run by someone who largely agrees with the sentiment expressed in my post you responded to.

                    • Life advice? I’m talking about the Pirates recent play in June. Wow.

                      So because you agree with TW, no one is allowed to have a difference of opinion?

                      No one can sit here and say their plan was great, going by current results. That’s Monday Morning quarterbacking.

                      Saying that they didn’t do enough to keep Happ and Volquez, is also Monday Morning quarterbacking. You don’t know what the inner workings of the PBC budget is and neither do I.
                      Apparently, signing either or both, wasn’t in the framework of short and long term budgeting .

      • @Jared, Happ signed a 3 yr 36m contract going into his age 33 season with only his Pirates success to really bank on getting that money. Niese is 4 years younger, under control for the same amount of time and cheaper with similar recent stats. Volquez had been all over the place with his results before his 1 year success here. Both pitchers surprised the MLB experts with the results they got here. Volquez seems to be regressing. Not a given that either pitcher worth what they got elsewhere. Do you still wish they matched Toronto for Russell Martin?

        • No to the Russell Martin question. Of course you’d want Russ on the team, but the price point was exorbitant.

          As for the other two:
          (1) Volquez was brought in and the discussion was that he had been a successful pitcher who they felt confident that they could make successful again. He then goes on to have success and we don’t sign him 2-20? Counting this year he has put up 3.8 WAR which is good for somewhere around $30M and he’s only half way through the 2nd year of his two year deal. You say he’s regressing? His gb% is at an all time high, he’s striking out more batters than either of the last two years, and has a lower BB/9 than he did as a Pirate. His FIP and xFIP are both exactly in the same general area (improved FIP actually) than when he was a Pirate. He also already has a higher WAR this year as a Royal than he had as a bucco. He’s on pace to put up 5 WAR over his two year contract…or, $20M in excess value.

          (2) I won’t argue with the shocking nature of Happs performance. But he also is not paid like a front line starter either. He clearly came here and figured things out to some degree bc he’s also finding success, although to a lower degree, this season. He already has 1 WAR (versus Niese’s -0.5 WAR) and has better statistics across the board in a much more offensively friendly/pitching difficult league and environment. His HR/FB ratio is highest of his career and I can understand why in the division and league he plays in. Niese on the other hand has been trending downward and continued to struggle with the long ball while putting up negative value. Right now Happ is somewhere around $12M more valuable than Niese. Interesting since he’s only $3M more expensive I think.

          As for Niese himself? I don’t hate him. $9M is quite a bit honestly for a rebound candidate, which is really all he was going to be and certainly we are losing quite a bit of value in the Walker for Niese trade (Niese+Harrison= 0.2 WAR to Neil’s 1.3 WAR).

          • You would be correct about possible loss in value in the Niese/Walker trade but using the Martin model, the Pirates would lose him with no value in return after this year as another team in need of a 2nd baseman will overpay him when he goes FA after this season As with Martin, no issues with the player going for the gusto. If someone wants to give them a boatload of cash for their services, more power to them. The Pirates were not going to ever pay Neil a large long term contract given his age and a history of some back problems. Neil missed a few games this year due to the back. He, like Russell will start to regress much sooner than later due to his age. I am glad they got at least a serviceable pitcher as opposed to nothing for him.

          • Volquez has a career FIP of 4.24 and is about to turn 33. Niese has a career FIP of 3.97 and is 29. Both are receiving similar compensation this year. Volquez’s FIP this year is slightly worse than it was as a Buc – and it was very mediocre then.

  23. I would sell him now, for the right price. We have too many others not performing that, even if he turns it around, it wouldn’t be enough this year. And we’re only playing for the wild card. Get some young guys some experience in the majors for next year. But that’s just me.

    • I agree dc. Even though I agree with Tim most of the time, the time for the new kids to pitch is now. Why wait until next year or even starting the year. Let them get knocked around for a bit and next year, they will be better for it. Look at Coles first year. They all have bumps in the road.

    • The right price will NEVER be right now for any team! Bidding and competition is the point of the deadline. IF the Pirates fail, 2 months is plenty of experience for prospects and they MAXIMUM their asset’s returns.

      So they shouldn’t play for the playoffs if it’s just the wildcard? Another one to give up! Starting to sound like a Philly fan!

      • Philly fan? Whatever. I said only playing for the wild card, didn’t say I was giving up on it. I just don’t see him turning it around enough to help all that ails us and Glasnow can probably do just as well and be just as wild while getting valuable experience. And if he doesn’t turn it around, there isn’t going to be much bidding for a guy with a 5+ era at the trade deadline. In thatcase, the right price would be NOW.

    • I think we can still wait on a trade until it gets closer to the trade deadline. One the middle of the season presents itself, the WC teams may separate themselves a bit more. Right NOW every team thinks they’re in the chase for the WC spot that’s what makes trading at this time very hard…no one wants to give up on the WC. Sure a few teams are way out of it like Twins/A’s/Braves/Padres/Reds and they’ll make midlevel trades.

      If the Pirates continue to freefall, they may end up out of the WC race as well and that would be time to trade some pieces.

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