The MLB trade deadline is a week away, and over the next week, we’re going to see a lot of pitchers being connected to the Pirates. Some of those rumors will involve players the Pirates have scouted or asked about. Some will involve pitchers who are just on the market, with the Pirates mentioned by default, due to their pitching need. I’ve written many times the last few weeks that the Pirates would be better off trading with Indianapolis for their pitching needs. But then Tyler Glasnow and Chad Kuhl went down with injuries over the weekend, changing the pitching depth.

I could write about who the Pirates should go for, but I’m going to take a different stance. It’s not going to be a popular one. It’s not something you can say about a team that is just two games back from the Wild Card race. It’s not even something that I think has a chance of happening.

The Pirates should be sellers.

I’m not talking the classic “sellers” where you blow up the team. Most of this roster is under team control through the 2018 season or later. So it wouldn’t make sense to deal a lot of those guys. I’m talking about guys under one year deals, who will be free agents after the season. And the biggest guy who should be included is Mark Melancon.

So far, the pitching market has been looking like an extreme seller’s market. That was on display today when Aroldis Chapman landed shortstop Gleyber Torres, right-hander Adam Warren, and outfielders Billy McKinney and Rashad Crawford.

Torres was ranked 27th in Baseball America’s Mid-Season top 100. McKinney started the year in the top 100, but fell off the list. Crawford is a nice lottery ticket. And Warren has struggled this year with the Cubs, but had some good results with the Yankees in the previous three seasons. That’s a big return for two months plus the playoffs, even if Chapman is a dominant reliever.

It also makes you wonder what Melancon could get on this market. Chapman has a 1.4 fWAR this year, and has been around 2.5-2.8 the previous two years. Melancon has been a tick below, at 0.9 this year, and 1.5-2.0 the previous two years. So I doubt the same return would be possible, especially because Melancon isn’t as flashy as Chapman. But a big return should be possible.

You wouldn’t just be trading Melancon because he could get a lot of value, though. You’d be trading him because it makes more sense to get the value that would come in a trade, rather than getting the value from his production the final two months. The only way his final two months would be considerably valuable to the Pirates is if they were serious contenders. And they aren’t serious contenders.

Sure, the Pirates are 1.5 games back from the second Wild Card. But they’ve got three teams ahead of them. Not to mention, even if they do jump those teams, and even if they do win the Wild Card game on the road, they’d have a five game series likely against the Cubs. And yeah, they’ve got a chance to beat the Cubs in that five game series. Then they might have a chance to beat the Nationals or Giants in the NLCS, for a chance to go to the World Series. But having a chance is not the same thing as having a good chance.

We used to do a Playoff Odds feature on the site each week. We would only include “Contenders”, classifying that as any team with 15% playoff odds or higher in all three projection systems (Baseball Prospectus, Clay Davenport, and FanGraphs). Here is where the Pirates stand in each projection system today:

BP: 12.8%

CD: 8.9%

FG: 19.2%

Under our old guidelines, we wouldn’t even consider the Pirates contenders. They’d only be contenders in one ranking system, and they’d be dangerously close to dropping their status.

These things can fluctuate. Keep in mind that a week ago, the Pirates had just won an 18 inning game, avoiding dropping to .500 in the process, and had 13.9% playoff odds on FanGraphs. They’ve seen that number increase in the last week. But we can’t assume that the numbers will just keep going up.

And now, let’s look ahead. The Pirates are returning much of the same team in 2017. Their lineup will be the same, except Josh Bell will probably take over for John Jaso at first base. Their pitching will include Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano, with Jameson Taillon having half a season of experience under his belt and no restrictions. They will also have more experience for the other pitching prospects. And since a lot of their team is young and making the league minimum, they could afford to make some additions in the off-season to boost their team.

The Pirates are going to have a much better chance of competing in 2017 and beyond than their chances in 2016. So do you keep Melancon, hope for the best in 2016, and then watch him leave after his final two months, likely for no compensation? Or do you trade him at a time when pitchers are going for a massive value, getting players you can use when the team is in better position to contend (either by those prospects helping the team directly through their performance, or indirectly by making it easier to make a big trade for direct help)?

Like I said, I don’t think this will happen. A team that is two games out of the Wild Card spot can’t exactly sell. The fans would go nuts, and I think the atmosphere in the clubhouse would sink as well (especially since selling would also involve one year guys like Neftali Feliz, David Freese, Matt Joyce, and Sean Rodriguez). In a way, it’s like the Pirates would have been better off in the long run if they didn’t have that big week before the All-Star break, or a big week this past week.

I do think that the Pirates will be active in the next week. My hope is that they don’t make a move to go all-in for this year, when the prices are sky-high and the team isn’t good enough to warrant that approach. Their best plan would be to make some lower key moves, similar to what they did last year when they added guys who weren’t marquee names, but had a chance to provide a boost, and ended up providing that boost.

We’ve already seen one of those rumors with the Pirates connected to Nathan Eovaldi. They’ve also been connected to the Rays pitchers, and those guys seem like the types the Pirates should avoid in this market, as the price would be huge. Sure, you’re getting help for future years as well. But when the Chris Archer price starts with Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows, you know that’s an area the Pirates should avoid.

Jerry Crasnick had a somewhat rumor today, suggesting Hector Santiago for the Pirates. I say “somewhat rumor” because he didn’t say the Pirates were actually interested, but said that they could be in play for him.

This makes sense, as the Pirates were connected to Santiago during the Neil Walker trade talks over the off-season. Of course, Santiago isn’t the best guy to get. He does have a career 3.68 ERA, but also a 4.76 xFIP. This year he’s at 4.28/5.12, and you’d have to wonder how long this trend would last (it’s mostly due to a career .268 BABIP, and he’s at .256 this year).

Although, in a way, Santiago would be a fitting addition for this Pirates team, since he’s almost a microcosm of the team itself. He’s been more successful in the past, but is surprisingly still good enough this year to be considered for a contender. He’s not a guy who looks like he’d do a lot, but you’d just be hoping that he gets hot for two months down the stretch.

Anyone hoping for the Pirates to add a player to make a run this year wouldn’t want Santiago, because he’s not close to the best option available, and banking on a guy getting hot for two months, when the odds suggest otherwise, is a bad approach. That’s ironic, since the Pirates aren’t close to the best team in the NL, and banking on them getting hot for two months, despite the odds saying otherwise, doesn’t seem smart, and doesn’t seem like justification to buy on this crazy market, rather than take advantage and sell.

I don’t expect the Pirates to sell at the deadline. And I think there’s a really good chance that in a little over two months, we will be looking back at this as a missed opportunity, thrown away because you’re not supposed to be a seller at the deadline if you’re this close to a Wild Card spot, even if your actual chances of contending are very low.

**Prospect Watch: Nick Kingham Goes Five Innings in Latest Rehab Outing. This should be Kingham’s last outing in the GCL. He is expected to join the Marauders for a few starts, now that he’s stretched out to five innings.

**Ke’Bryan Hayes Placed on Disabled List. Abigail Miskowiec reported on his injury at the end of last week.

**Top Performers: Newman, Joe, Polo, Ramirez, Brault, Escobar, Williams. Our weekly recap, looking at scouting reports of the best performers from the previous week.

**Huntington on the Impact the Pitching Prospects Will Have on the Trade Deadline. It sounds like the Pirates will go with a similar approach to the off-season, putting a big focus on the pitching prospects, rather than adding a lot of outside help.

**Morning Report: Taking a Look at the Remaining Schedule for the Pirates. One thing that might help the Pirates would be their easier schedule down the stretch, although that would be factored into the simulations mentioned above.

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  1. To compare the Chapman trade:
    Gleybar Torres- Austin Meadows/Josh Bell
    Adam Warren- Chad Kuhl
    Billy McKinney- Harold Ramirez
    Obviously this is just a comparison within the two systems, but that’s what a contender paid for a 2 month rental closer. If Melancon would be moved you’d think something similar would be in return (more than likely a little less). Melancon doe’s not make a difference in making this year’s team a serious contender. We’ve seen it for how long now, the starting rotation is not putting this team deep in October.
    Since when did John Jaso become a gold glove first baseman? I understand Josh Bell needs work at the position, but Jaso is now hitting .262 on the season. Josh Bell’s slash line in Indy total is .323/.412/.511 with a total of 539 PA’s.
    What’s the role of Elias Diaz going to be in this organization? He’s already 25. Cervelli is locked up for 3 years. Chris Stewart signed as well. Diaz’s defense alone makes him a good backup at the big league level.

  2. Let me start by saying that I understand the philosophy behind this. It makes all the sense in the world.
    That being said, I don’t believe we should do it. We should be trying to make the playoffs every year that we can. If you miss the playoffs, then you miss them, but you still try to win, every game possible. That is just where I think we are as an organization. Not a single player that we could move at the deadline will have any bearing on what we will be able to do this off season.
    I believe we should be in add mode, bring in a pitcher that can help us make the postseason. If that is only one game, fine, if you miss, fine, but try. We have spent too many years rebuilding to weaken our team, that prior to the season, was thought of as a playoff caliber team.

  3. Melancon,, Joyce, and maybe Rodriguez are 3 guys that make sense to me. Their value will probably never be higher and none of them will likely be resigned. Plus why start acting like contenders now? They had since the end of 2015 to do that and they haven’t.

  4. It is finally time TOO make a splash for a controllable pitcher IF you can hold on to the big three.
    Here’s why:
    1. We should make any other prospect available for example a package of top 100 type guys of h.ramirez and newman, add brault, Holmes tier pitcher, and Polo is still an impressive package.
    2. a rotation of cole, an improving liriano, insert pitcher (archer, odorizzi,Moore, etc), taillon, glasnow/kuhl.for rest of year and beyond is impressive and cheap
    3. if we get someone in this class that also means the dodgers,mets, cubs, cards do not
    4. with the young guys arriving and the possibility of a cutch trade in the next year payroll will be driven down even further, so let’s go against NH bullpen theories and extend melancon for 2 or 3 years
    5. Tim talks about how many prospects are being blocked for playing time so take advantage of prospect depth.
    6. most importantly they have proven without searage magic they will not pay for a legitimate top end starter so a trade is the only logical way.

  5. If you can get anything close to the Chapman value then do it, and then flip some of those pieces and get Sale/Archer/Moore. Sale’s contract is on of the best in the game. They all help beyond this year. It is not easy at times being a Pirates fan. Not many other teams would have Bell down. Not many contending teams would have continued to trot Locke and Neise out there as long as they have. Also, please IR Cutch to get his thumb a break. I really worry he’s in the beginning stages of a Carl Crawford decline.

    • IMO opinion you can’t value Chapman’s take to anything with MM. Chapman is an elite closer. MM is good, but the widely held perception is MM is not elite.

      Chapman is a rental; Sale is a long term piece at a current salary less than either MM or Chapman. Again, IMO no comparison.

      • Not elite on Chapman’s level, but his return wouldn’t be that much less. The idea is to flip any prospects you get with some current guys and get Sale, I wasn’t suggesting a straight up deal ffs.

  6. Depends on what is being offered for Melancon and what he is indicating it will take to resign him. If the Bucs are still in it for the wild card, you don’t ship out big prospects for a rental but you don’t give up as you never know what will happen once you make it to the dance. Several players like Jaso can wait till the off season to trade but if you are within a couple of games for the wild card you can’t give up the ship yet.

  7. Tim makes a lot of good points. I just take a different look here. Dodgers have no chance without Kershaw- lots of people have said it. Marlins will fade, they are too young and aren’t going to stick around. The Cardinals……aren’t very good and aren’t likely to get better this year. That leaves us with the Mets (with a lot of injury worries) and us. So statistically we may not look like locks for a 2nd wild card spot, but we have a very good chance at getting there with really……….1 decent starting pitcher to fill a gap. I’m okay with trading Melancon if we can get even a rental of a #4 to stick in the rotation. Selling him doesn’t throw away the season, nor does it keep us from adding a part if needed. Really- we only need pitching at this point. Everything else. we have. The have the best bench in baseball.

  8. There are 5 teams with basically the same record fighting for 2 spots. That is not too much to overcome, especially with our schedule. Once you get in the playoffs it becomes a crapshoot, so you never give away a chance to get on that crapshoot no matter how good you think you are. Melancon’s value is obviously limited, so hurting your team by trading him for a minor prospect would be dumb. Frankly all this team needs to become the WC favorite is Cutch and Liriano playing close to normal.

    • The notion that “once you get in its a crapshoot” is a fallacy. Don’t get me wrong. I agree that a second wildcard can make the show IF the team can PITCH. The Pirates are a well below average pitching team now. It would take a hell of a lot more than one rental player to change that.

      Did you know that Nicassio, Neise, and Locke are all tied for the team lead in wins this year? As bad as Nicassio, Neise and Locke have pitched, they’ve all out pitched Cole and Liriano when it comes to wins. To me that stat is telling as to the Pieates season.

      This just isn’t going to be their year.

  9. the Bucs should be sellers this year and go all in next year. Give the kid pitchers experience this year and move Melancon for whatever prospects you can acquire as he is gone next year anyway. The Bucs are a .500 team give or take a few wins or loses and they can not jump all the teams in front of them for the second wildcard. Even if they were to get into the wild card game they can not beat the pitching rich clubs they will be meeting.

  10. Regardless of who, or if, the Pirates sell Melancon…if they are to have any chance this season, they must hold onto Jaso.

    Bell is simply not ready.

    Yeah, his fielding has improved and he could probably man the position at the ML level adequately, but…come on…let’s be reasonable…

    The .318 batting average and .924 OPS are clear warning signs that his hitting is suspect. And to that the woeful 47:59 K:BB and the picture becomes clearer.

    He needs to stay down there and keep picking up time in the outfield and maybe…maybe with two positions under his belt…this kid won’t be a total bust.

    But, as for supplanting Jaso…you’d have to be crazy to think that should happen.

    • Blaine,
      This is entirely too subtle for some. You forgot to mention how jittery he gets under pressure in front of the big crowds and how he freezes when somebody sticks a microphone under his nose. Yep, physically, mentally and emotionally we better protect him and nurture him.

      • It is such a frustrating thing, isn’t it?

        I was fully in favor of the Jaso signing…and still think it was a great pick-up. Bell, obviously, had things he needed to work on and the Pirates needed a first baseman.

        The kid has done what he was supposed to. Sure, he may struggle when he comes up…but his talent level is high enough that he’ll overcome and, most likely, become a high quality ML bat. Why, on earth, he is still at AAA when the Pirates are just fringe contenders is absolutely baffling.

        Jaso did exactly what the Pirates needed him to, now he’s expendable…trade him for a can of Sprite to some team looking for bench help.

        • I want Taillon, Frazier, Diaz, Bell and if healthy Kuhl and Glasnow experiencing this playoff drive. They won together on the way up and They should grow together with the big club. It is not a knock on Jaso that a star is ready to shine. We might be surprised …Jaso might bring a case of Macallan.

        • The only reason I can fathom why this hasn’t happened already is the front office has a feeling Kang will be suspended at some point and they don’t want to leave the team thin at the corners.

          • You very well may be correct.

            Now that August is almost here, I’ve sort of resigned myself to Bell being at Indy until rosters expand, then coming up for pinch-hitting/spot starts until the Pirates are mathematically eliminated from all playoff contention, he becomes the starting first baseman. Hopefully I’m wrong.

  11. This article is based on two assumptions, both of which are highly questionable IMHO. First, you assume, Tim, that Melancon’s market value is high enough for another team to offer more than 2nd tier minor league prospects in exchange. I strongly suspect that Huntington found out that other teams aren’t willing to put top-tier prospects and certainly not high quality players currently in the ML when he shopped Melancon’s around last winter. Secondly, this article assumes that there is another pitcher in our system that can perform in the closer role at a high level. Please don’t suggest Watson as an adequate closer. He is clearly better as a set-up man and not a closer. Perhaps the best move is for the Pirates to Make an earnest attempt to re-sign Melancon to a long term team friendly deal and then use some of the prospects to land a #1 starter like Chris Sale who’s under contract for 3 years at a reasonable salary.

  12. Yup…I’m in 100% agreement with the article.

    The Pirates should be reasonable sellers, they won’t be, they’ll probably pick-up a lottery ticket, and let’s all hope they don’t go all in on a high-cost acquisition. Check, check, check, and…check.

    Assuming Glasnow and Kuhl don’t have any serious injury…I feel very confident the Pirates will have a solid team in ’17. With the rotation as Cole, Taillon, Liriano, and some combination of Kuhl/Glasnow/Brault/Williams filling out the bottom two slots with Kingham/Duncan being possible mid-season depth.

  13. I agree that they are not contenders. As a season ticket holder, I’d be upset if they threw in the towel. However, it’s hard to disagree with your logic. The Pirates would likely have a much better chance next year if they unloaded Melanceon, Joyce, Freese, Jaso, Feliz for prospects rather than go nowhere this year and allow allow them to leave at the end of the season for nothing.

  14. The only way I can see trading Melancon, is if the return is a multi year starter like Moore or Odiruzzi. That would take three teams to pull off. Maybe Melancon to the Rangers, prospects to the rays, and Moore to the Pirates.

  15. In my opinion the best case scenario with Melancon is to trade him now and get some assets for him then resign him in the offseason for another 2-4 years. With how many players on the 40 man roster that are either locked in on team friendly deals (Marte, Polanco, J hay) plus so many pre-arb players, the Bucs can afford to pay market price for a closer for a few years, especially given Liriano’s contract is off the books after next season too.

    • Better to get something now, than see MM walk away for nothing. He’s been stellar and his numbers likely can’t be replaced for the final 2 months. I don’t really want any prospects in return and doubt if MM could pull a SP from another team, but maybe kicking in another bench player or prospect would sweeten the deal enough to make it work.

      Also the offseason resigning is intriguing.

  16. Tim,
    I just don’t agree with the premise of your conclusion that the Pirates should be sellers on Melancon and all others not under contract for next year because they don’t have “a good chance” in the playoffs and aren’t serious contenders. Granted, you also say that you don’t think the FO will be sellers at the deadline. I believe the FO is truthful when they say they greatly value making the playoffs four years in a row. Recent history shows that a hot WC team can win it all. You owe it to the players, the fans, the ownership, and the organization as a whole….including your sponsors, to take your best shot and improve the team. We have the currency to do so with our prospects.
    I would put Feliz out there in the 9th once this week to confirm he can handle it and to show the team he can do it. we should listen for offers for Melancon and keep our options open. I stronglybelieve the FO can and should deal from the excess prospects to improve our chances this year, and listen for offers on the contract final year “lateral” assets as well. Bell and Taillon are my untouchables.

  17. Based on the starting rotation they started the year off with, I believe this was a planned bridge year. And I totally understand why they wouldn’t bring in higher profile pitchers that would block our young guns. So they may as well just sell off the players that are not locked up beyond this season. But the fan in me says ” what if Cutch gets it back together, what if Cole and Frankie start to pitch like we thought they would, what if the young pitchers step in and get hot, what if Bell wins first and continues to hit like he has all year.” Tough decision, glad I don’t have to make it.

    • I agree it’s a tough decision and one I don’t have to make. Too many ‘ifs’ to work for the best though.

  18. AGREED. I want them to sell so badly! They could get someone like Reynaldo Lopez from the Nationals – a great prospect who should be ready for the majors next year.

  19. When you say they won’t get anything for Melancon, what about a comp pick? Would he qualify for that?

    • What Cory and Bobby said below…and…

      Will there even be compensation picks this off-season? I’m a little unclear, to be honest. The players and union hate this set-up and the CBA is expiring at the end of the season…so, I’m guessing there’s a good chance this may not exist going forward.

      • Yes there will be comp picks. The CBA runs through the end of the year, by which time QOs will already have to be made. And teams have no doubt been pricing in the likely comp pick in their free agent offers this pas offseason (e.g., the Mets could land one if Cespedes opts out) and moves this trade deadline. Retroactively changing the rules would create a lot of squawking from front offices around the country.

        We’ll have one more year of the current system, at least.

  20. I’d assume the open opportunities would have a positive impact on the logjam in the minors. Let the youth take over. This current team would be far worse without the minor league depth and definitely out of any playoff race. Who cares if it makes an underperforming clubhouse upset. That’s the business On top of that, it’s time to let Watson try out as closer.

  21. They should be buyers and sellers. Getting 2 prospects and controllable RP for Melancon would be ideal. Also, getting a controllable SP, my preference is Matt Moore b/c of his 3 club options, lefty and the acquisition price shouldn’t be as high as Archer. I feel these would be very smart moves not only for this year but for next year and beyond.

  22. I do think selling off key pieces like Melancon could have a very real impact on the clubhouse. Players and even some coaches probably aren’t thrilled with the pitching bandaid NH put together over the offseason to get them to late June/July. One could make a reasonable argument the very reason this team is 1.5 games back instead of tied or .5 games ahead for WC is because of the crap pitching NH put together. Now they are scratching and clawing to get back in the race with a weak schedule and NH comes in and says I’m dealing your closer…

    I’m actually not opposed to moving pieces like Joyce for the right prospect. I think Melancon is too important in terms of WPA down the stretch though.

  23. I would not trade Melancon unless we get a haul for him. Either for part of a package of lottery ticket prospects or as part of a package for a solid starter. However I still think that MM is not valued that highly in the market. I still think the Pirates have an excellent chance to make the Wild Card and at that point anything can happen. I really think at least 2 of Glasnow/Brault/Williams/Kuhl etc will be better than anything we could possibly pick up in a sellers market if not immediately then by next season at the latest. We probably do need to make a trade from depth due to the impending roster crunch in the off season. Preferably for a controllable reliever or another Happ type reclamation project.

  24. I’m not sure what market for Melancon would be. I don’t think Chapman should be used as any sort of barometer for Melancon. Forget historical effectiveness or stats, Chapman and Miller are seen in a class of their own in terms of market value.

    This offseason Tim was saying Melancon would fetch at least a top 50 prospect and I never thought that to be the case. If it was, I assume he would have been gone already.

    Playoffs are better bet than I think some realize. I don’t like FG projections for our rest of season winning percentage. 538 currently has Pirates at 32% which I think is more accurate. I actually see a Pirates/Cards wildcard. It’s amazing this team is 4 games over 500 right now given an incredibly tough stretch of 50 games where we were without Cervelli and Cole for a large part of it and Frank was below replacement. With some stabilization to our staff and schedule I think we will push 90 wins now. I actually think we very well may pass up Giants as crazy as that may sound to some.

    • I was shocked by how badly the Giants have played since the break. I hope they win the division if we manage to get to the WC. I want no part of Madbum. Now if Kratz was in Indy that might be different lol.

      • Cardinals are best team imo of possible Wild Card opponents and who I sort of expect to face if we do get near 90 wins. I could easily see Giant/Marlins/and Mets fading between 84-87 wins for each of them.

        • I still don’t believe in the Marlins or Mets and with Kershaw being hurt, I like the Bucco’s chances of making the wildcard game.

        • I agree but Unfortunately Wainwright looks tough again. Fortunately we have over 2 months for Cole to look better or if Taillon can get settled in that hook could be unhittable for a WC game he might be an option. I don’t think you want anyone else to start that game unless someone gets hot over the next 2 months.

  25. Tim – I noticed you use XFIP a lot when legitimizing a pitchers performance relative to their era. The issue I have with XFIP is that it uses the league average for HR/FB ratio, as if every pitcher ultimately reverts to the man. I struggle with this. It’s not a pure coinicidence, or good or bad luck, that Kershaw has a HR/9 ratio of .4, Cueto .5, and Niese 1.7. I know this is HR/9 and not HR/FB, but I think one gets the point. Its pretty simple, its harder to hit a home run off a good pitcher than a mediocre one. Even with FIP, good pitchers induce weaker contact than bad ones. When Jeff Locke falls behind 2-0, or 3-1 on a count, and the hitter knows a 91 MPH FB with no deception is on the way, in the zone, the result of the ball in play is not as random as a good pitcher who gets ahead 0-2 and has full array of pitches. I know there are more advanced metrics that incorporate how hard the ball is hit, as well as GO/FO, and I would imagine its a matter of time before they are quoted in the main stream. FIP and XFIP just seem lazy and too incomplete to me.

    • Kershaw has a career 7% HR/FB ratio, so I’d say his 7.4% is legit.

      Cueto has been a bit lucky this year, since he’s normally 9.8% (close to league average) and is 7.2% this year.

      I’ve written about Niese since day one, saying he has a home run problem that doesn’t look like it will magically reverse. I actually got criticism for that stance, even though I pointed out his recent track record as a sign that this wasn’t just bad luck.

      There are exceptions to xFIP, but in most cases, it’s a far better tool to use than ERA. And as you know, I go well beyond just xFIP. I even did that in this article:

      “Of course, Santiago isn’t the best guy to get. He does have a career 3.68 ERA, but also a 4.76 xFIP. This year he’s at 4.28/5.12, and you’d have to wonder how long this trend would last (it’s mostly due to a career .268 BABIP, and he’s at .256 this year).”

      • xFIP is a very poor stat that I agree with the other commenter is referenced way too much by people who think they are “analytical.” It’s extremely primitive to label all balls in play as the same type of quality contact by the batter and assuming results are all luck, including homerun rate on flyballs. It’s not an “advanced metric.” It’s actually not “advanced” at all. Front offices don’t use such primitive data and look at things like hard hit rates, soft contact rates, exit velocity graphs, hitting to the opposite field or up-the-middle vs. pull-rate, groundball rate, pop-up rate, distance on flyballs, and much more sophisticated data to help determine if BABIP for hitters and pitchers are in line with their stat lines.

        • xFIP is a starting point that is better than ERA. From there, you expand for a full evaluation. But xFIP is the best overall indicator of a pitcher’s future performance.

  26. How about this, we sell melancon, jhay, brault, joyce, feliz, for giolitto. Washington , gets closer and other bullpen help, a super sub who we replace with Frazier and Hanson. We bring giolitto up to take 8th inning and if Tyler is ok he is 8th inning guy this year. We add and subtract and don’t lose anything

  27. Sell? The Pirates are 1.5 out of the Wildcard, they have one of the easiest schedules in baseball over the rest of the season, and they are just starting to play their best baseball. The bullpen has solidified over the last 30 games, Cole is healthy, Liriano is starting to look like we expect, and Taillon has been competitive. Also, there is no dominant team in any of the WC spots. The Pirates and Cubs ran away with those spots last year, but there is no team in that caliber. Do we really think we can’t catch the Marlins, Dodgers, or Mets if we continue to play well? I’d trade for a starter and see what happens.

  28. Look at all the so called top 100’s (Snider , Lambo, La Roche, Craig Hansen)we traded for and did not pan out. Prospects are crap shoots. Also let’s collect them like china dolls. Put them in the minors and admire them. Get the best pitching prospects and watch them get injury after injury. You plan to win! We have prospects let’s play them.

  29. They set up the team this year to play for a wild card, not a division. I agree that they should be selling, but would rather see extensions as opposed to trading both Joyce and Freese.

  30. I couldn’t disagree more w Tim.

    First off, I could care less what any of those computer nerds think the Pirates’ odds are for making playoffs, or what “experts” like Tim think of how this Pirates team matches up w the Cubs, Nats or Dodgers. The simple fact is in baseball any team which makes the postseason can win it all. This has been shown to be true in recent years time and time again.

    Each season the team has a reasonable shot at postseason, the FO owes it to BN, the players, and the fans to strengthen the team if it can in July, not weaken it. And despite the percentages Tim cites in his article, 2 games back w 64 games remaking is a reasonable shot.

    • “I could care less what any of those computer nerds think the Pirates’ odds are for making playoffs”

      Those are actual computers running the sims, not people. They’re completely objective.

      “or what “experts” like Tim think of how this Pirates team matches up w the Cubs, Nats or Dodgers”

      My biggest pet peeve in the world: Using “experts” in quotes when you disagree with what someone says.

      • Just because the computers are running sims, it doesn’t mean they are good at accurately predicting whether teams are going to make the playoffs. Vegas does a much better job than Fangraphs or Baseball Prospectus at the over/under predictions at the beginning of each season (Fangraphs has been wrong by an average of 9.8 wins per team and BP has been wrong by over 10 wins per team the past 3 seasons). If you think the Pirates only have a 10% chance of making the playoffs this year, I would love to bet those odds in Vegas and bet $20 to win $200 if they make the wild card. These projections are guesses like anything else with a bunch of assumptions that are extremely flimsy.

      • I’m sure glad that the Penguins management didn’t pay any attention to the computer models regarding their playoff chances when they were out of a playoff position with just over two months left in the regular season earlier this year. They didn’t sell, and it worked out pretty well for them. The games are played on the field (or ice as the case may be), not in computer sims.

      • Tim, how anyone matches up against anyone in the regular season is a far cry from what can happen in the playoffs. That is a dangerous way to think. You are playing the game and match-up on paper, and you know what they say about that. Let the team on the field decide their fate. In July of last year, did you honestly think the Mets would be three games shy of winning the WS?

      • The computers program themselves, do they?

        Sorry if I struck a nerve, guess that makes us even.

    • You are on to something but no way do they want Melancon. Trade Melancon to a contender for prospects and then go for Sale, although I’m not sure I would want to give up Marte. Dare I say that I would rather trade Cutch. Anyway, that is a totally different discussion. I think they can have their cake and eat it too. Go for Sale, 2 years left on his contract. Trade Melancon, he can be replaced.

  31. Am I hearing right here??? The majority of the comments on here are about the Pirates being sellers and they have very little chance to get a wild card or to the WS. The majority of players we would be selling off, are not going to net us huge prospects, and any prospect or prospects we would get for Melancon, is not guaranteed to pan out, no prospects are guaranteed to turn out to be very good MLB players. The Pirates are two games out of a wild card, and while they have to climb over a few teams, it’s just two games with around 65 plus games remaining. That’s nothing. It’s not like they are 8 games out of a wc with four teams to pass. Josh Harrison is right, they should still be thinking of the division. They are 8 games out and just the Cards in front of them by a game for second. Is it likely that they catch the Cubs? No. Impossible?? Absolutely not!! Did anybody predict the Mets would win the division in late July last year? No! Did they? Yes! Did anybody think they would make it to the WS? No! Did they? Yes!! Same goes for the Giants in 2014 and they won it. This is crazy!! Look, we built up the farm system enough. This team will be better for it in years to come. Teams who are this close and sell off players, are losing organizations and have a losing mindset. You add what you can and go for it. Anything can happen once you get to play in October, and there should be no debate about it. The selling attitude should have changed three years ago. Go Bucs!!

    • You have good points, but selling doesn’t mean rebuilding. If a good return is possible for Melancon it would make good business and baseball sense since he is gone at seasons end. Trading Jaso makes room for Bell which improves the team offensively.

      • Understood. I don’t mind trading Jaso at all. In fact, I think Bell should be up here now. I am not talking about a rebuild though. I just think that you are taking a huge gamble trading Melancon. We are still right in the thick of a playoff race, and Watson has never been this team’s closer before and not everybody has the mindset to perform that job. Watson also hasn’t been lights out this season and he has been getting hit more this year as well. I just think trading away our closer sets a bad example all around, mainly for the reasons in my prior comment. I’m not saying to trade Glasnow and Meadows for Archer, but maybe adding a Moore or some bullpen help by giving up marginal prospects, I can do. Trading Melancon is just way too much of a gamble both on the field and public relations wise.

      • Glad I’m not the only one. I’m sure the Cardinals aren’t thinking about being sellers. That’s why they always seem to get to the post season. They have a win now attitude.

        • Exactly! Some organizations, and I now consider the Pirates to be one, understand how to balance the present and future. And I can assure you that balance doesn’t involve ridding the team of its’ most reliable arm in a pennant chase!

  32. Santiago spent a good part of this season being worse than Locke, Niese and Liriano. No thanks.

    Personally, I’m hoping NH is talking the Angels about Santiago only to deke them into giving us Shoemaker. The Angels should be motivated to take quantity over quality, similar to what NH did with the Bay and Nady trades when the Bucs system was barren.

    I want no part of Archer for Meadows or Bell. Archer isn’t Sale. His six years of control don’t mean squat if he’s pitching like a #3 instead of a #1. Which he is. The only pitcher out there that’s worth discussing a Bell/Meadows is Sale, period.

    The other concern I have is that Miami is rumored to be interested in Pineda. Note that they’re not interested in bringing back Eovaldi. I would also be targeting Pineda over Eovaldi as it seems Pineda is an easier fix and more capable of helping immediately. That Benedict is also interested should be a clue as to which the Bucs should look at.

    Trading Melancon. If the Bucs were blown away with an offer, fans might accept it. Honestly, it’s probably not the worst idea to use Glasnow in the pen this year – he’s probably as good a 7th inning option as anyone else. I personally don’t think Watson is closer material, but I’ll defer to the “closer role is overrated” argument if we can get a haul for MM. If NH got us a Blanton and Soria equivalent again, then it’s probably a smart deal to do.

    However, let’s not discount the fact that there is no other team out there that currently has a 108-year World Series drought coupled with a butt-ton of money to work with. That the Cubs used their top prospect to get Chapman instead of another SP when they’re already all but untouchable after the 8th inning makes me respect Theo & Jed a little bit less. I’d have been much more worried if they got a solid SP to replace one of Lackey/Hammel/Hendricks, all of whom have slipped a notch (along with Lester). Cubs SP has stunk over past 30 days.

    But I do disagree vehemently with Tim about the Bucs chances in the post-season. Just get there and let things shake out.

    • I was frightened that the Cubs were going to go all in for Sale blowing the Sox away with an offer, but seeing them overpay for Chapman actually makes me a bit relieved (trade deadline is still looming so who knows what else the cubs might do I suppose). I would much rather see Chapman in their uniform then Sale that’s for sure.

  33. When I first saw the Chapman deal today, I immediately thought about Melancon!! Wow!! The Yanks got better today!! But so did the Damn Cubs!!! When Tim tweeted today about trading Melancon, I was all for it. Let’s get what we can get and roll with Feliz and Tony. But I definitely understand the locker room effect it will have and NH wants this team competitive every year!! Those were his words!! So I don’t expect Melancon to be on the move!!

    This team is funky as hell. Frustrating to watch at times!! But that is what a .500 team is!! We will make a run and have a nice chance to make the WC game! I will be excited because all the BS they put us through will be worth it at the end. Plus 4 straight years in the Post Season has never been done!! Correct me on that if I’m wrong!!

  34. If the Pirates can sell high on the likes of Liriano, Freeze, Joyce, SRod, and Melancon, they need to do so.

        • Trading the likes of Liriano, Freeze, Joyce, SRod, and Melancon is not the same as throwing in the towel….it is partly preparing for 2017 and getting some of the short-termers out of the way of the kids like Bell, Frazier, Kuhl, Brault, Diaz, etc. As good as Melancon has been the past 3 years, he is replaceable – and if we can steal 1-2 very good prospects for him, I’d do it in a heart beat.

          • I just wouldn’t get rid of Freese, instead I’d sign him to a 3 year deal as a solid bench/backup to 3B & 1B. That way if Kang is charged and/or convicted then you have your guy at 3rd…if Bell struggles then you have a guy who can play first.
            As much as I like having an actual Pirate on the team, Jaso is hurting the team by keeping Bell down. 1 for 4 with a meaningless single every game blows as a leadoff man and/or first baseman.

            • I don’t think the Pirates are blown away by Jaso’s production (despite statistics to the contrary) and therefore keeping Bell down, the issue is they aren’t sold on Bell playing any defensive position right now. I hope they do get him up here and see what he can do, but we all have seen what he can do in the field all year in the minors so that magically won’t change overnight. At this point if Jaso was traded we would just see more Freese and S-Rod over at first and still have Bell at Indy

            • The Pirates should definitely explore extending Freese and Joyce. They wont get much for Niese, Locke, or Jaso. Niese and Locke will not be on team next year, Jaso might but only as bench player but probably not. The next week or so is pretty crucial as to what the Pirates might do. As to Melancon if they get blown away then maybe trading him but they should at least broach the subject of an extension.

          • You may not consider it throwing in the towel, but I can assure you the players left in the clubhouse after your proposed house cleaning would. And so would I.

          • Melancon is not replaceable. Your taking having the best closer in the league for granted. Nothing’s worse than losing a game in the 9th inning. Trading Melancon would be throwing in the towel. However, I agree on seeing what value the bench has in the market.

          • I would argue that without the contributions of Freese, Joyce, and S-Rod this year we would probably be under .500 with no chance right now with the production these guys have provided (helping to make up for the lack of production from Kang (injury) and McCutchen among others). If we have any hope of making it to the playoffs we probably need to keep these guys or we’ll come up short. In a way trading them would be giving up on the season

          • So you think trading 5 of the best players on the team is not throwing in the towel??? How is one of the best closer in baseball replaceable?

        • Yep. I’m a die-hard fan and also a realist at the same time. The Pirates aren’t winning a World Series this year. Not one chance! Period! Keep living in denial all you want. This pitching staff is BAD. And Cutch can’t hit anything. Our Pirates will finish with a winning record, yes, and they could still make a Wild Card birth. But it ends there unless they strike gold and end up buyers at the deadline.

          So if there’s a team out there that gives us an incredible deal on prospects, the Pirates sell. Period!

  35. The reason I think selling is a bad idea because there is a possibility for this team to go down the Giants of 2014’s path. That team had plenty of struggles and injuries throughout the regular season but put it all together and got hot at the right time. If Liriano and Cutch were to start playing the way we expect with some more pleasant surprises from the young guys, we could see this team make noise. On top of that, tanking this season could come at a sizable financial cost and not bring in the surplus this organization has become accustomed too.

    • I am with you JT. You can add the Mets from last year who were buried at this time and got to the series. Once in the playoffs anything can happen so to be as close as we are and then to quit would be stupid. Additionally if you think this team is not good enough this year what makes you think it will suddenly be better next year with the same core and the same young pitching? I could argue if you think the club is not good enough this year that there is no way they could compete with Cubs or Washington next year as well. Make the playoffs and get hot. Thats the formula. The best team doesn’t always win in the playoffs or the world series but you have to get in the playoffs to have a chance.

  36. If they can make the playoffs this year, they should. Maybe the odds are long, but every year they have a chance to go, that’s a chance they get hot at the right time and win a World Series.

    That said, I wouldn’t make any massive moves. Find a low-cost option who can help this year but who won’t hurt next year to acquire. Use expendable pieces, deal from depth. We can still get perfectly useful players that way. Maybe not players who will really boost the team, but players who can make marginal improvements.

    I like Eovaldi to this end. Cashner, too, though less than Eovaldi. They’re having down years, but the talent is there for them to get hot. In Eovaldi’s case, we’d also have an offseason to work with him and get him set to help the team next year. If he can’t start, he’d at least deepen our bullpen for now.

    • Has there ever been any indication that the Pirates have tried to sign MM to a 3 year extension? The best Closers are in the $11-$13 mil range, and we are already paying him $9.6 mil – going to $11 or $12 a season for him is not a huge bump! Bringing up a bunch of new, young, SP’s and then weakening the BP seems counter-productive to me.

      I like the subject, but talking MM without seriously mentioning guys like Freese, Jaso, and yes, even Harrison, is really confusing. Polanco, ‘Cutch, Marte, Cervelli, and Mercer are off-limits at this time, as are pitchers, unless it is excess pitching.

      • I agree with you Emjay. I’ve yet to hear anybody give me a logical explanation as to why the PBC wouldn’t consider extending MM. 3 years at $10-$11 million AAV would probably get it done. This isn’t much of a stretch beyond what their paying now. It’s also in the ballpark of what it costs to have an ace closer (all contenders need a top notch closer). I would consider moving Watson if I could extend MM. I also would extend Feliz (2 years at $6.5 m AAV would probably get it done). Now then find a lefty 8th inning guy to replace Watson for the next 2-3 years (I doubt it could be Watson as he would be seeking free agency $$ in a year or two and closer $$ in addition). Watson is NOT a closer. He may save 30-40 games, but he would blow 7 or 8 saves every year also. Then who replace him as a set up man.

        We have the answer already, that being MM. He’s done it now for 3 years straight. No reason to think he can’t succeed for another 3 years.

        My trade pieces for this year are Jaso, Joyce, Neise or Locke. I try to extend Freeze to play 3B full-time (not a big believer in JHK). I’m looking for a LH set-up man for the pen, so I can move Watson in off-season. Of course that only holds true if they extend MM.

        • The key is that Feliz will be a Free Agent, but I think Watson has his 3rd year of arbitration for 2017. Freese has proven his worth and will be a FA, as will Joyce so they will not be available as cheap signings for the Pirates for 2017. Niese and Locke are still under team control for a few more years, which is a trade plus. Jaso has some decent numbers overall for the season, but in his Last 30 games he is .207/.291/.293/.584 OPS with 8W/23K. Harrison also has good overall season stats and has had a few key hits lately, but in his Last 30 games he has a slash of .186/.210/.324/.534 OPS with 1W/21K. We have to be able to be better than that.

  37. I’m an analytics guy….I get the analytics. However, a GM can’t set the tone within the org and clubhouse that we’re a bunch of quitters. That would be more damaging than the loss of prospects coming the other way for Melancon. NH will remain relatively neutral through the deadline as he should.

  38. The Pirates are in a great position to be sellers this year. They have a nice quantity of trade able assets who become free agents at the end of the year. I wrote a month ago about being sellers, and I believe it is the wise direction to go.

  39. Or even better (In my mind) extend Melancon. He clearly likes it in Pittsburgh and has done very well here. The window is wide open for them to win a championship and finding a great closer is not easy. The Pirates have money to spend. I’d trade Jaso though and have Bell play 1B. If for some reason Bell isn’t up to the task they have Freese or S-Rod who can play fine.

      • I disagree. I think a reasonable middle ground could be found. He likes Pitt. Not much of a money chaser.

        • This is Melancon’s first crack at free agency. How do you know he’s “not much of a money chaser?”

          • The man has made his money. I really have a hard time seeing him leave this late in his career if we offer decent money

            • He will leave unless the Pirates offer a massive amount of money for too many years – and they can’t afford to do that without hurting the future.

            • He will have made 19 mil or so after this year. He will more than triple that in free agency. If you can get 2-3 nice prospects or a nice prospect and good reliever with team control for a closer or a good starter with team control I think you take that every time. Melancon is great, but you can’t give a 32 year closer 15% of your payroll for 4,5,6 years.

          • I would tend to agree.

            Even some of the top BP arms are getting just 3 year deals. So length wouldn’t be a major concern. And relievers are inherently cheaper. When MM goes into free agency this season, I’m guessing he’s going to get a deal in the range of three years/$8.5M – $11M AAV.

    • I agree, they should explore extension. They did with Walker (maybe it was not serious) but they should at least talk to Melancon. Its possible Melancon wants to explore free agency which is his right. He has been a great Pirate, an allstar. He still is pitching very effectively and should continue to do so. In my opinion he is a superior pitcher to Watson.

  40. The Nationals are desperate for relief pitchers. There bull pen depleted and exhausted. They were talking trade with the Yankees for Aroldis Chapman giving up the Nats No. 1 prospect RHP Lucas Giolito and perhaps others but the Cubs came through consummating the trade.

    The Cub’s acquisition of Chapman is a big offset to other wild card contenders and it looks unlikely the Pirates will be a wild card this year. NH’s view will be for the long run 2017 and beyond.

    • If the bucs can get giilito for the shark, I say do it

      They might have to pull off a 2nd trade for a big name to pacify the fan base.

        • it would have to be a good baseball trade. Not a trade just to make trade. I didn’t think I had to type the obvious, I apologize

      • Chance of getting Giolito for Melancon is something less than zero. Washington wasn’t willing to part with him for Chapman. They also refused to put Trea Turner or Reynaldo Lopez in any deal for Chapman.

      • They’ll never get Giolito though. There was a bit of a gap between Giolito and Torres in term of value so the deals aren’t really comparable. Just ask yourself, would you trade Glasnow for a rental reliever

    • Agreed. They talk about Melancon on the radio down here in DC all the time. I don’t think the bucs are out of it, but this is the kind of thing a team like the Pirates should do. Bring up big Doyvidas and see what he can do in a setup role.

      • Neverauskas for setup role this year? No thanks. King less than 18% in Indy so far with a BB rate far from elite. I see nothing there to think he is ready for set up role in bullpen today.

    • NH has to balance the present and the future. He would be doing everyone a disservice by throwing in the towel by trading their most reliable Pitcher at this point.

  41. In theory this makes sense, but reality says Melancon will not bring anywhere near the haul the Yanks got…..Pirates are positioned well to make a run, with the schedule and to trade their closer makes no sense, especially with no one waiting in the wings. I firmly believe they put him on the market in the off-season and had no takers with a legit return….Ride out the rest of the year and offer him a QO. If he is truly worth what PP thinks, then we get a comp pick.

    Maybe a team like Texas could see Melancon as useful, but do you think they would give up Joey Gallo straight up for Mark? I sure don’t.

    • He will not bring what Chapman netted the Yanks, but it’s better than an extra win and then watching walk at years end.

  42. I remember after watching JHay’s walk off against the Brewers Robbie asked Josh a question involving winning a WC spot. And without having a seconds hesitation Harrison stated that this team was fighting for the division.

    We all know that the division is a long shot and even the WC is tricky but the conviction in which Harrison stated his answer stuck with me. It shows that he as a player and the clubhouse as a whole believes that we are still in it and are fighting as hard as they can. I can say with total confidence that the kind of spirit and mentality that has permeated in our Clubhouse for the last few years is one of the best in the league. That has come from many positive players, a world class coaching staff, and a belief that the Front Office is fighting for this team just as much as the players are.

    When you trade away a key player like Melancon, it sends a clear message to everyone in the clubhouse. It tells them that the Front Office has lost faith in you and you’re expected to lose. When everyone in that clubhouse is fighting for the wildcard with everything they have and the Front Office gives up on you it wrecks the spirit of the team.

    Even if we don’t make the playoffs this year the Front Office needs to support the team all the way to the bitter end to preserve the trust and belief built in the Clubhouse for years to come.

    • I disagree. The FO isn’t going to resign Melancon as their closer for years to come. And whether it’s a poor message sent this summer or when Melancon is lost to FA, it’s a bad message. The team isn’t going to win a WS title this year. If a deal is made that will benefit the Pirates even more in the future, you absolutely take it. Granted, hopefully that would be a can’t refuse deal.

      • First off, you nor I have any idea who they will or won’t sign this off season. To claim otherwise is utter bs!

        Second, even if he is lost to FA this winter, players won’t perceive this as a bad message. Players who have earned the right of FA change teams frequently. Players understand this as a part of the business. On the other hand, players rightfully are pissed when the FO pulls the plug on the season prematurely by selling off soon to be FA’s while team is in a playoff chase.

          • All-Star players on teams with post-season aspirations don’t get traded in July. Try again.

            • Why not? He’s not going to get the Pirates to the World Series. And I, for one, am not satisfied with an appearance in the wildcard game every year. They’ll compete for the wildcard with or without him. I’d trade him in a nanosecond for a decent return before I’d let him walk for nothing.

              • What if the choice were:

                Keep Melancon, make the wildcard, get first crack at negotiating with him (even if he ends up walking)


                Trade him, miss the wildcard by a game, but at least you got a future #4 starter in A ball (50 FV) out of the deal.

                Because it is absolutely plausible that Mark Melancon could be the one game difference between making the wildcard and not. The dropoff in quality from Melancon-Watson-Feliz to the next guy up is at least a win, and that next guy up is the guy you just put into a setup role.

  43. Seems like this paragraph infuses some market/business reality into this idea:

    “Like I said, I don’t think this will happen. A team that is two games out of the Wild Card spot can’t exactly sell. The fans would go nuts, and I think the atmosphere in the clubhouse would sink as well (especially since selling would also involve one year guys like Neftali Feliz, David Freese, Matt Joyce, and Sean Rodriguez). In a way, it’s like the Pirates would have been better off in the long run if they didn’t have that big week before the All-Star break, or a big week this past week.”

    I agree with the theoretical logic of moving Melancon since we face the uphill battle this year and look poised for next year. But:

    1) Selling Melancon sends a signal to fans in terms of butts in seats late in the year. Bringing fans to the park is a reality for PGH, and moving Melancon clearly tells fans they arent into trying to play playoff baseball even at this point

    2) It might not result in the clubhouse getting upset/listless, but damn it sure could. Players arent dumb, and that clubhouse loss would hit hard in terms of faith in the plan this year.

    • But if you are selling and effectively conceding the season, does clubhouse morale really matter? It’s not like they’d sell off players with the hope of still making the playoffs. I wouldnt really think the clubhouse is a consideration at that point, as it goes without saying that the clubhouse would be upset if you give up on the season.

      Fans and PR, however, are a different story. Not only for the lost revenue the rest of this year, but also because Pirates fans have excellent long term memories when it comes to front office decisions to be competitive or not, and that could easily carry over into future years.

    • How great is that clubhouse right now? Their leader, some guy named Cutch, can’t even hit right now. If the clubhouse goes to … well, you know … then that’s on Cutch. His failure as a player and leader would be the number one issue with the clubhouse, AND, a major reason why this season was lost.

      I would absolutely trade Melancon if there was a deal that made sense. Absolutely! They won’t sign him long-term anyway.

      In the end, this team is still building a true championship team. This season is a bridge to that. And the number one goal is to finally get to the pinnacle of all of these years of building, and we are not there yet. But we will be, and we’ll be there faster with a long-term vision.

      Again, Just my two cents.

      • GoSteeler, that was a Horrible thing to say about Cutch!! Is he having a down year?? Yes!! 100% agree with you!! I am in your boat when it comes to me being frustrated with him when he comes to the plate or when he misses a play in the field. But for you to attack his leadership is out of bounds!! This dude deserves a huge pass for getting us where we are as a organization!! He has made other players want to come to Pittsburgh when we were a Wasteland!! I am with you. I am frustrated as hell when he steps to the plate, but he has more than EARNED a year like this for all he has done for us!! I know this is a production business and folks have to perform, but we have to give a guy that has had a huge hand in our Renaissance a pass this season!!

      • Just because Cutch has been one of the best players in the game doesn’t mean that he’s been the leader in the clubhouse…I think its Cervelli. That’s not based off of any info that I have, just a hunch from the on-field actions and on camera interviews. (and really the catcher should be the capt of any team)

      • You should’ve kept those 2 cents. Cutchs job on this team isn’t to clean up the front offices messes. If they shoot the team morale in the head, it’s completely unfair to expect McCutchen to waltz in and right the ship. That’s not what a clubhouse leader does. If the Buccos sell, Cutch will likely lose a faith too, and rightly so. He’s a player, not a Pirates exec. And the FO would be dumping all over him as much as his teammates if they sold. He would have some right to anger in that scenario

      • Trade Melancon for a couple of prospects, then next year when your youth lowers the payroll, pick Melancon up again. Hey……if you guy’s on PP can be nuts, so can I.

    • Selling right now on this season would undermine much if not all the good will the Pirates have built up over the last few seasons. The FO would rightly be criticized for their lack of faith in the very players they have drafted, developed and acquired. All in the name of what? Just wait ’till next year.

      Give me a break!

      • If we, as Pirates fans, are so fragile that we can’t see the value in trading away an asset for greater value, then we are terrible, irrational fans. It doesn’t show a “lack of faith”, it shows a front office that has realistic expectations and a grasp on a seller’s market. The Pirates have added talent at deadlines, resigned guys like Liriano, extended young talent, drafted well, and made the playoffs the past few seasons. If all of that is undermined because they trade away two months of their closer, all criticism of this front office would reveal more negative traits about the fans than the team.

        • All of which is true, but the irrational fans also buy game tickets, parking, concessions and cable TV.

          And that’s not going away anytime soon. Having lived in a few places in different parts of the country (Pittsburgh, NY, Philly, DC, LA, Phoenix), I can tell you that Pittsburgh fans are the most pessimistic ones I’ve run across.

          Not only does the front office have to deal with the constraints of a smaller market with less earning power, but its consumer is more prone to overreact not just to bad news (losing streaks, injuries, struggling pitchers) but even to NO news (quiet offseasons and trade deadlines). Heck, more than a few regular subscribers to this site have proclaimed this a “lost season” while the team is sitting 1.5 games out of the playoffs with 64 (!) games to go. Plenty of others have suggested Huntington and/or Hurdle need to lose their jobs for this debacle of a season.

          NH can ignore the masses and follow the plan, but let’s not pretend there aren’t real world consequences to the bottom line even if the plan is sound.

        • “It shows a front office with realistic expectations and a grasp of a sellers market.”

          My expectation of the front office is to have faith in the players they have drafted, developed and acquired until they show through poor performance over an extended period of time that faith isn’t warranted. When this article was written, the team was 2 games out of playoff position with 64 games remaining. If you believe the front office should have a realistic expectation the season should be punted, than we can agree to disagree.

          As for a sellers market, I agree when dealing with players with elite skill sets and/or multiple years of control (I.e. Chapman and Pomeranz), but Melancon for all his success, possesses neither. No team is giving up a top prospect in MiLB for his 91mph fastball for 2 months.

      • While I understand your sentiment, I think you need to consider the bigger picture. And let me emphasize, you only trade Melancon at the deadline if someone is willing to pay a very high price for him, a price that will benefit you down the road. The basis of Tim’s article is correct: The Pirates are not likely to go deep into October, even if they win the wild card game. And it is certainly not a lock that they even garner one of the wild card berths. I think if someone wants to overpay for Melancon to such a degree that it can help the Pirates for years to come, then I say make the trade.

  44. Well said, I agree. You should try and at least shop Melancon. If you get a good offer you do it because Watson is more than capable to close. Trading Melancon a Teammate and fan favorite would cause rift within the organization though.

    • The bullpen has been absolutely essential to the Pirates climbing back into contention. As long as the rotation still has problems getting to the 7th inning (let alone the 6th), that pen is what’s holding things together. If you trade Melancon, sure Watson can close, and Feliz can handle the 8th, but who’s going to handle the 7th? The 6th? That’s a lot more high-leverage innings going to Hughes, Caminero and Schugel. I’m not confident they can get away with that without losing some additional games in the middle to late innings.

      If you make this trade, you do it knowing full well it will almost certainly subtract win(s) from the current squad, and in a 5 team race for the wildcard, 1 win could very well be the difference between playing and sitting at home come October.

      The yield would probably be someone in the back half of the Top 100 – a 50 FV guy. Which isn’t a bad deal, mind you; 6+ years of an average major league position player/#4 starter/mid-tier closer or lights-out set-up guy for 2 months of Melancon is a deal you absolutely make in a vacuum, or if the Pirates are comfortably out of it. But if you make that move, you might as well keep going and trade off the rest of the guys on expiring contracts.

      • As long as the rotation has trouble getting to the seventh inning, even having Melancon is not going to make a difference. Yes, the bullpen has been instrumental over these past roughly three weeks. That is not going to continue through the end of the season and through a pennant run. You simply cannot tax a bullpen to that degree for an extended period of time and expect to have success.

      • The point is not trading Melancon, but testing the waters to see what he can bring in return wise. To be completely honest the Pirates chances of even making the playoffs are growing slimmer and slimmer, if they don’t upgrade their rotation they are not going to make the playoffs more than likely, and even if they do make the playoffs they are going to facing either Jose Fernandez, Jacob DeGrom, Clayton Kershaw, MadBum, and if they beat any of those guys they are probably not going to beat the Cubs 3 out of 5 games. The odds of us winning a championship this year are very slim, next year and the few years after that the Pirates are going to have a better chance at winning a World Series, that’s why you test the waters on a Melancon trade.

        • Sure, you always test the waters. But let’s not be fatalist about it. The Royals made back to back world series with a third-rate rotation and a second-rate lineup. Along the way they beat plenty of front line starters (Lester, de Grom, Harvey, Price). No reason to think the Pirates couldn’t do the same.

          • I’m not saying it isn’t possible, but the likelihood is slim. I’m thinking ahead to what our future holds. Not this we should go all in this year and trade Meadows, Bell, Glasnow, etc like people are saying we should.( not saying you said that, just using an example) If the Pirates make a trade for a player the need to get a guy who is controlled for multiple years( Matt Moore, Edinson Volquez, jake Ordrizza,) guys like that.

            • Slim likelihoods is what makes the world go ’round, Corey.

              My preference would be for a 4th starter on an expiring contract – Volquez, Hellickson, Nova. Cost will be low (though Hellickson’s is rising), it stabilizes the rotation behind Cole/Liriano/Taillon and allows the team to mix and match the 5th spot among Glasnow, Kuhl and Brault, without having to rely on two of them. After next Monday I think it’s 31 games in 31 days, and if this team is going to contend, it can’t give 2 out of 5 spots in the rotation to guys who might not get out of the 4th inning.

              That said, I can see the wisdom in picking up a guy signed through 2017 or longer, but you’re either going to deal from your top 2 tiers (Moore, Odorizzi) or take on a high risk arm that might not pan out (Eovaldi).

              I just can’t really get behind a sell-off sitting 1.5 games out with 64 to play.

        • This year may be best chance they have to win WS. Who’s to say what the future holds. That’s why you don’t squander it.

        • Cubs have been average lately. Especially their vaunted starting pitching. Don’t crown them yet!

      • Tired of one and done Playoff Baseball, build a team that can go the distance and use the assets–starting with trading Melancon, Jason, Niese, Locke–who can generate a return, something that we haven’t had in NH trade in a while.

        Why isn’t Bell up here and playing right now??
        Joyce and Freese (because of Kang’s uncertain status) shoudl not be dealt, but give Frazier some starts somewhere.

        • Wait, I’m confused. You write that you want to use assets that can generate a return, but you list Locke, Jaso and Niese among those assets. If you think those three guys are going to get you any kind of “return,” I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

    • I agree with you Corey, and with Tim as well. If you can get someone to perhaps overpay for Melancon, then by all means make the trade. And I think that both the fans and the players in the clubhouse would understand the rationale behind the trade. If they can’t, that’s just too bad. A huge return for Melancon would facilitate the continued moving forward for the Pirates as an organization. As Tim said, it is not very likely that even if the Pirates get to and win the wild card game, that they will advance any further. I say trade Melancon, but only if we get a huge return.

      • Anything can happen once you get to the playoffs…Mets last year and Giants in 2014. If Cole and Liriano gets on track, and Taillon, Kuhl, and even Glasnow, get more comfortable with each start (although I think NH will make a deal for a back end of the rotation starter), the Pirates can absolutely be a serious contender again this year. Still can’t believe where most people here think the Pirates probably have no shot at the playoffs. They have the easiest 2nd half schedule in baseball and are 2 games out of the wild card. I don’t care that they have to climb over two teams….it’s two games out. Sorry, I’m not giving up on the division either. Cubs are capable of flopping. They have a history and I am still not sold on them. The past 6 weeks, they have looked very human as well. Pirates have a resume the last three years and won 98 games last year, so they are capable of making a run. The future is there, that will take care if itself. In the meantime, stop the thought process of selling this year, this is no longer the 1990’s thru 2012 team. The Pirates built up their organization and it should be a win now mentality, not just for the organization, but the fans too. I guarantee the Cardinals fan base and organization isn’t thinking about next year. Geez!

        • Sure…give up on the team, fans, and season. I’m sure the Cards are thinking just like you as well….they aren’t. Secondly, Melancon will in no way get us back a major prospect for a two month rental…he isn’t as good as Chapman.

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