The trade deadline dust hasn’t exactly settled yet. There are still a lot of complaints about the Francisco Liriano trade, and I don’t expect that to go away anytime soon. This is a long-term trade, which means we’re not going to see the MLB results from Drew Hutchison until at least September, and won’t see him in the rotation until next year. We also won’t see how the Pirates spend their saved money until this off-season. That combination means we’ll probably hear about the Liriano trade daily.

But let’s ignore that trade for a second and act like the dust has settled around the deadline. Let’s look at how the Pirates fared for the 2016 roster. Because with all of the complaining, you might have missed the fact that they arguably upgraded their roster in a few minor ways.

First, they traded for Ivan Nova to replace Liriano. Nova hasn’t had the best season, and the Pirates seem to be banking on a J.A. Happ bounce back performance. But even without that, Nova has been better than Liriano. He has a 4.90 ERA and a 4.06 xFIP. Liriano has a 5.46 ERA and a 4.51 xFIP. Neither one represents a good number. However, Liriano is still bad if he reaches his xFIP, while Nova would be acceptable.

Then there’s the swap of Jon Niese for Antonio Bastardo. Neither lefty is having a good season, but if you’re banking on someone to bounce back, the most likely guy seems to be Bastardo, especially rejoining a team where he had so much success, and in a smaller role that will have less pressure.

Nova and Bastardo aren’t guaranteed to provide big upgrades over Liriano and Niese, but there’s a chance they could provide those upgrades. There’s a lot of rebound potential with each pitcher, more so than the guys who were traded away. The approach this year on deadline day was very similar to last year — add some guys who have a shot at boosting your team, with a smaller chance to provide a major boost, all while avoiding the market rates for upgrades.

The key difference was that Liriano trade, which was totally different. I’ve seen some crazy reactions to that deal. They range from calling for Huntington to be fired, to losing faith in Huntington, to acting like that trade ended the chance to contend in the current season and any future seasons. And it’s all a crazy over-reaction to something that looks questionable now, and could end up being a very bad trade, but isn’t going to sink the team.

Forget the 2016 upgrade potential. What has changed for 2017 and beyond as far as the projected rosters?

They swapped out Liriano for Drew Hutchison. And Reese McGuire isn’t available, meaning they’ll go with Francisco Cervelli and Elias Diaz as their starters.

I didn’t like the inclusion of McGuire in the deal, and think that could really hurt them in the future. But they haven’t taken anything away from 2017. They might have upgraded it, if Liriano continues struggling with his new team. They haven’t taken anything away from future years either.

At the very worst, they will have given away a valuable prospect who shouldn’t have been lumped in the “we’ve got depth to trade” group. That’s not a good thing, as a team like the Pirates can’t afford to waste prospects. And that’s what this is all about: Trading Reese McGuire in a questionable move.

No one seems to have a problem with dumping Liriano. People hate the term “financial flexibility”, but that’s due to the usage when Dave Littlefield was the GM. Littlefield used his flexibility to sign guys like Jeromy Burnitz, Chris Stynes, Randall Simon, etc. Huntington actually signs good players, or players with a lot of upside.

Not many seem to mind trading Harold Ramirez, and I don’t think there would be as much outrage if it was Ramirez and two lower ranked prospects in the deal, rather than McGuire. This all basically comes down to McGuire. And with the reactions, you’d think they just gave Andrew McCutchen away for nothing.

This is a team that still has that outside shot at the playoffs, but probably won’t advance far if they make it past the Wild Card game. They’re still a team looking good for 2017, with the young guys having more experience, and now plenty of payroll space to add a big starter to the top of the rotation with Gerrit Cole.

So nothing has really changed for the worse after the deadline, and you could argue that things have a chance to be better. That perspective is needed, because it seems a lot of people are using their disgust over trading McGuire to proclaim this season and future seasons over, when the reality is that this is just one questionable move, which could result in one talented prospect wasted.

**Prospect Watch: Good Outing From Waddell, Taylor Returns From Tommy John. Live report on Waddell, plus my live report from Morgantown, and some notes on Jacob Taylor and Drew Hutchison.

**MLB Pipeline Ranks Pirates as Fourth Best Farm System. This will probably go down when Jameson Taillon is removed from the equation.

**Barrett Barnes Striving to Rediscover His Old Self This Summer. Sean McCool looks at the success Barrett Barnes has been having over the last month.

**Glasnow and Hanson Listed Among the Best in the International League. Baseball America releases their best tools list for Triple-A.

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  1. Everyone should just get over that the 2016 version is not an elite team and shouldn’t be added to. The offense and pitching has not been good enough recently for Melancon to save any games regardless.

  2. clinthudle please bring mark melancon bak to you guys that is why you ar not winning any game cause you traded markmelancon for no reason

  3. The thing the fans are irate about is we were 1 game from the wild card and we traded our closer and teams behind us in the standings were adding. We were thinking if 2 top 10 guys were moved (or even more) we’d add Sale, Archer, Moore, or Odorizzi. We were thinking fine dump Liriano and pay some of his salary if need be to be rid of his salary. The players have responded like humans would if your job told you we have to make quota still but were going to make it harder on you, (Melancon and Walker deals) but you’re getting paid either way. Subliminally you’d say why should I work even harder for you if you’re taking away from my team? This is a team of players in the process of quitting on management, and you can argue they are professionals, but I don’t blame them. Cutch gets benched for comments? He should have found a week off a long time ago for his performance. When I suggested to trade him before his value goes too far down people thought it was crazy. But If he continues to hit .230 I guess well need to say goodbye to Keller, and Polo to make that happen since we have plenty of OF and P prospects. I tell you one thing, they won’t be getting any more of MY financial flexibility for the rest of this year for sure!

  4. The Pirates are done for 2016. They will not compete in 2017. They may compete in 2018, but at this point aren’t shaping up as one of the best five NL teams two years from now. At best, given what we know at this point, the 2018 Bucs project to be the 2016 Marlins, IMO.

    The window for the current group has closed and has been nailed shut.

  5. Tim, did I miss something? The trades are not over as there are 2 PTBNL yet to be cut out, outed like McGuire and Hernandez.
    When will their names be released? Are the Yankees determining who the 2 players are?

  6. I agree with Tim, the Major League roster looks better for both 2016 and 2017. And they traded prospects to do it, Isn’t that what people are complaining that they never do? And they saved money in the process. But because it’s Pittsburgh, that means they’re cheap, rather than smart.

    • Definitely better off without Neese, probably better off without Liriano (although they paid a price to get rid of him) definitely not better off without Melancon.

      • The price they paid is irrelevant to whether they are better in 2016. Agree that Melancon to Rivero is a downgrade, but the gap is really not that big. I think on balance they’re better now:

        Nova likely to be better than Liriano
        Rivero + Bastardo in the pen vs. Melancon + Niese in the pen? Close
        Plus you get Hutchison in September if he’s needed.

        Nova + Rivero + Bastardo + one month of Hutchison > Melancon + Liriano + Niese.

  7. Tim it is not just throwing away “assets” like Reese Maguire, but that is bad enough. if you’re going to trade 2 top 10 prospects, then get a return to improve the team. Exactly what will they do with Mr Financial Flexibility – exactly who will they sign or extend with that money that will make them better. I think the reaction (or at least mine) is looking at this “trade” in context of the so-called “rotation” they started the year with, which was Cole + question marks, when the Cubs had so clearly upgraded. Everyone knew Liriano was a risk otobe inconsistent, and thinking that Niese (banished from Mets rotation) and Nicasio (banshed from Rockies rotation) and Locke (history of blowing up early in numerous starts), holding Bell back when the bat is obviously more than ready, and then running out Locke and Voglesong instead of Kuhl/Brault/Williams – anyone – for heaven’s sake, Tarpley or Yeudy Garcia couldn’t do worse – is what has me completely disgusted.

  8. Would anyone feel better if the pitcher we got back was Kevin Gausman on the O’s instead of Hutchison? I for one would have and if u look at their careers they are kind of similar. Except for the fact that Gausman went to LSU and Hutchison was drafted out of high school. Gausman is starting to get it together after being rushed through the minors. He is also going to be a big part of Baltimore’s post season run this year. So, after all the venting that everyone (including myself) is doing about the trade there is still hope for Hutchison.

    • Everyone loves to complain. RIght below, one is lamenting the losses of Morse, Worley, and Niese…..smh……

  9. Does anybody see a dark retaliatory side to FO moves over the last two years. Worley, Walker, Morse, Niese, Liriano get sent packing after speaking up or differing with the man. Cutch gets a seat after questioning deadline deals.

    • Yes. There certainly seems to be a bit of this going on. Based on his comments yesterday, I think Locke is the next to go which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I also wonder if Cutch makes it through the off-season

    • All of the players you mentioned were not doing much for the Pirates except for Walker. The only reason why Walker was traded was that he was never ever going to be signed to the long term large dollar contract here that he was and will be seeking at the end of this year. Those were the kind of deals to that age group of player that got the Pirates in trouble in the 90’s The Worley and Morse have done what since the left? Everyone wanted rid of Niese and Liriano. Major stetech here michael.1

      • You missed the whole freakin point. I took note of players standing their ground as men or speaking up and expressing an opinion that was critical or could be viewed as critical of the FO. Pretty soon they were gone. Don’t be surprised if you see more of this.

    • I don’t really think that there is a retaliation motive for the moves that have been made. No one was a bigger pain in the ass to management than AJ Burnett, and they brought him back after the year in Philly.

      • Yes AJ was a pain in the ass, but he was a winner who brought swagger and by all reports was a locker room leader.
        The fans loved the guy, I don’t think NH was sorry to see him go the first time. In fact Neal dicked around with him on offers before he went to Philly. But the players wanted him back and I am sure you remember the dance about making peace with Hurdle when he came back.

        • We sure as hell weren’t going to pay AJ what Philly did on a two year deal, so I am not sure we dicked him around. And I think the making peace with Hurdle had to do with Hurdle not starting him in Game 5 of the 2013 NLDS.

  10. From the stories that came out yesterday, the players seem to have been quite unhappy about some of the deadline deals, particularly the trade of Melancon. Not surprising that they wouldn’t like trading away their closer, since they hasn’t lost a game in Melancon’s last 80 save situations. The idea that the deadline trades would make this team stronger in 2016 is simply wrong and the players know it. As to whether the team will be stronger in 2017 as a result of the trades, that is completely irrelevant to the players. They don’t care about next year, they don’t care about prospects, they want to have the best possible chance of winning this year. All this talk about financial flexibility, years of control, etc are wasted when it comes to the players. They are not robots, they are flesh and blood with emotions. And the message they clearly received was that management does not believe in them. I’m afraid that this is going to get very ugly before it’s done.

    • So tell Liriano, Cutch, Harrison, Cervelli, Jaso, Hughes and yes even Cole to play better.

      Sorry their feelings got hurt – but this team has not performed anywhere near the level they are being paid.

      Huntington did what he had to unload some seriously “dead money”

      And all of this weeping and wailing over Jose Tabata II and a catcher who probably is still two years away from playing in the majors strikes me as kinda silly.

      • Not much point in telling Liriano to play better. And there was absolutely no dead money whatsoever with Melancon.

        • Dead contract. Melancon was gone in 21/2 months. The whole clubhouse knew he was being shopped and the plan was to move Watson into the closer role to begin the year. If that were the case, It should have shocked no one that the deal was made and the team got 2 hard throwing lefties in the process. Would Melancon have cared about those moping when he would have left on his own in 21/2 months ??

          • Teams like the Nats that are actually trying to win a championship this year are thrilled to have two months of a closer like Melancon. Teams which say they are trying to win a championship this year but really aren’t, like the Pirates, trade away a closer like Melancon because he is going to be a free agent at the end of the season. And that is the message that management sent to the players when they traded Melancon.

  11. After this trade, if they did need or wanted to trade McCutchen, with his salary it would cost the top ten of our prospects. As Tim and many have said a waste of good prospects. Very
    disappointed with FO on this one

    • Andrew has not been absolutely horrible this year. By his standards, he has not been nearly as good as he has been. He is at least contributing. He is not terribly overpaid for the remainder of his contract. Not quite the same scenario.

  12. Tim, from one fans prospective, the trades have not improved the team this year or going forward. All they did is replace two bums with two other bums, that some how will be great for the Pirates is very quesstionable. I can not really believe what you are saying. The team is a dog and is not going anywhere this year. If the kids do not produce next year and into the future you have a sub 500 club for the next few years or more. What a sham to say that these trades have improved the team, the same team the can not beat the Brewers or Braves or for that matter any team. This team will be hard pressed to win 81 games.

  13. OK LOOK EVERYONE!!! Lets Give NH a break. Maybe he was on a train ride with Casey Jones. There was trouble ahead and trouble behind. Lets all lighten up, none of us are gonna live or die by this trade. All baseball stuff aside. Lets keep things in perspective and not attack each other personally. ME INCLUDED I AM TALKING TO MYSELF TOO!! All of us here have one thing in common, we like the Pirates, lets not forget that. So if I offended anyone I am sorry not my intent.

  14. The Pirates set a precedent with the Liriano trade. They came away looking weak/vulnerable. If Toronto demanded RM, walk away. Trade FL in the off season. Don’t give away higher level prospects as part of a salary dump. Don’t set that precedent with this organization. The Rays are a small market team, and they typically don’t give away players.

  15. I like guys who are “glass half full” and the end of this article ends with that flavor BUT I think we all know that the chances General Risk Manager NH signs a legit #2 starter in the off season with his dry powder and seeing a unicorn are about even.

    • I don’t get these comments when they signed Liriano at market rate. It’s not like they never go to the market for free agents. That deal didn’t work out, so they dumped him and they’ll try again.

      • What the hell is 13M going to buy on the open market? You think they are going to find another Rich HIll. Pelfrey got a 2 year deal LAST year at 8AAV. Add 5-10% inflation on that. 13M doesn’t even buy an average pitcher in this market. And there is basiccally nothing out there next year. Watch Volquez get a 3-4 year deal around 14 AAV or better.

        So what is that going to buy us?

        Or do they trade for cost controlled starter. Maybe- that has its own costs.

        • Last year that money would have bought JA Happ.

          Also, there’s the possibility of taking on salary via trades. Except getting someone who is much better than Liriano right now.

          • To be honest, who would have really thought JA Happ would be worth a 3 year deal based on his previous years work? Besides the end of last year with the Bucs, he did not show much. Much complaining by the fans when they traded for him. If he would have tanked like Niese, the screaming would have begun.

              • Yes you were, and you were in the distinct minority. I was screaming bloody murder about what a terrible pickup Happ was, glad to have been wrong about it. I was very sad when I saw that Happ signed with the Blue Jays.

                • Screaming… kinda like you have all week. Maybe you should consider not screaming bloody murder next time until we see how things actually work out…

                  • I express my opinions, so yes, sometimes I am wrong. But you don’t need to wait a couple of years to see how these trades ultimately work out to know that they have had a negative impact on this team this season. Simply cannot trade your closer and pretend that you’re serious about contending. Must be great to be a genius like you and always be right.

              • Tim, I actually was surprised of all the teams that Toronto offered him as much as they did. Considering how poorly he had played there just 2 years earlier. Not surprised he was paid just who paid him.

                • That makes sense. They obviously would have liked him two years earlier, and when he started putting up the numbers, it would have affirmed their original views on him.

                • In a weird kind of way, did Toronto really take much risk on Happ? It cost them only money to sign him. If he flames out, they can ditch him by giving up prospects ala the NH method. Conversely, the cost to the Pirates of not signing Happ is that they’ll likely be required to give up prospects to get a decent pitcher. The best “risk mitigation” technique might’ve been to sign Happ, even if they thought he was too expensive. At least they would have had a chance to keep prospects if he performed. The Frankie deal — if you see it as part 1 of a plan to get a decent pitcher to “replace” him in 2017 with the dry powder, is a terribly expensive trade given that you give up prospects on both ends of the deal (getting rid of Frankie and obtaining his replacement) and end up with only one starting pitcher.

              • Just was saying based on past history, which many of these posters are complaining usually bring up as an argument, JA Happ did not look like a guy that would be doing what he is doing now. Sinking long term money in a guy with no history would have had people complaining that they overspent. If he regressed again this year fans would have been really screaming. SInce he didn’t people are screaming that they should have sign him. I agree that they could have and prob should have signed him but who would have thought that Frankie would have regressed like he did this year and would have had to pay to get rid of his contract.

          • Who is it going to buy NEXT year? JA Happ probably would have been a fine signing. And you also forgot one thing. When Frank signed here it was below market rate- He “left money on the table” those words came right out of NH’s mouth.

            Any trade which would bring in someone better than Liriano is probably going to start with either Glasnow, Meadows or Josh Bell as centerpiece(and probably 2 of those pieces0 I don’t feel like calculating the surplus value but it’s a hefty price.

              • Franciso Liriano could have got more money than 3/39 if he left Pittsburgh following 2014 season. Whether it was AAV or a 4 year deal. You don’t believe me Ask NH who explicitly stated that in the press conference when he signed with the comment about “leaving money on table” and that part of Frank coming back for a slight discount was how much he loved the team.

          • I think your response also shows you are missing something very important with the Liriano trade. Even in a theoretical world I doubt NH would sign JA Happ if he was available again this offseason at 3/36. I think he is spooked and their budget is so stringent that they can’t afford to take those chances.3 year deals on pitchers at 12 AAV.

            Because the reality is there is probably a pretty good chance of 2017 Frank Liriano being better than whoever they allocate that money to. But their financial constraints are so severe that they can’t take a chance of a repeat of 2016. So NH will settle for a lower ceiling/higher floor reclamation that probably only comes with 1 year price tag. Because they don’t want to be on the hook again if JA Happ starts to stink in 2017 and go down the road of trading Cole Tuckers, etc to help dump his salary.

            Im picturing something like Charlie Morton on a year 5-6M deal. How exciting!

            • The argument that he’s spooked comes up all the time, and it’s never right.

              You hear this a lot in the draft. For example, after the 2008 situation with Alvarez/Boras, people said he was spooked to deal with Boras again. Then he drafted Cole/Bell in 2011, who were both Boras clients.

              • No. Completely different situations. I’m talking a budget reality and I think while the budget has grown from an absurdly low base in 2010 to near 100M that this team is probably maxed out near 100-105M for the next few years until a new TV contract. It will be real interesting to see the average annual payroll growth in 2017 and 2018. Will they be able to increase it 8-10% a year. I doubt it. I think their revenue sources are about maxed out until TV contract is renegotiated. And I don’t expect inflation in MLB to slow down.

                You never answered my question either. What is 13M likely to buy them NEXT year?

                  • Well we know who the free agents will be. The only other thing would be potential trades unless I’m missing something.

                    And a trade will have a very high price tag associated to it in prospect surplus value so that’s not 13M.

                    • The trades won’t have as high of a price tag as they would at the deadline, though. Also, teams competing at the deadline might have players available in the off-season who weren’t available last week. So there will be more on the market.

                    • My point is even in the offseason to get a guy likely to pitch well in 2017 is going probably cost a lot more than 13M. If you make a trade you have to factor in the surplus value of prospects dealt on top of salary you are picking up.

                  • What changed since you wrote this about 6 weeks ago:

                    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.

                    • Not much. I even wrote the other day that I was prepared to write an article saying the biggest priority was getting Liriano back on track. But the Pirates don’t seem to think that will happen.

                      I also wrote last week about how he might not get back on track, before the trade happened.

                    • There is something rather sad about your posts the last couple days.
                      Despite anything you have written earlier about a player or a plan, once the organization makes a move you come around to defending it. Liriano gets dumped for salary reasons, so now he is bum. Prospects you raved about in your midterm update get sold, now they are fair value for a guy Toronto gave up on. The kicker is to actually headline that the team might be better in 2016.
                      It doesn’t seem fact based or rational, let alone impartial.

                    • “Despite anything you have written earlier about a player or a plan, once the organization makes a move you come around to defending it.”

                      Let’s get some examples.

                      “Liriano gets dumped for salary reasons, so now he is bum.”

                      Wrote this before the deal:

                      I’ve been saying the same thing since the deal, except acknowledging that the Pirates gave up on him.

                      “Prospects you raved about in your midterm update get sold, now they are fair value for a guy Toronto gave up on.”

                      We haven’t changed our opinion on anyone. In fact, I’ve spent time arguing that McGuire is higher value for us than some of the national outlets. We ranked both higher than national outlets, and I spent a big part of my deadline article defending why they were good prospects.

                      “The kicker is to actually headline that the team might be better in 2016.
                      It doesn’t seem fact based or rational, let alone impartial.”

                      They upgraded over Liriano and Niese at the deadline. And I don’t think it’s a huge drop going from Melancon in a limited role to Rivero. I also think there’s some upside with Nova and Bastardo.

                    • Thanks for the detailed response. It does not address the selling of top 10 prospects. It remains to be seen if Nova is an upgrade over Liriano. Trading the All-Star closer raised the white flag.
                      I wonder if there is a single player who put on the Pirate jersey tonight who agrees with you. I doubt if management at any level believes they are a better team for the rest of the year. Does it look that way to you based upon their play?
                      They gave up, blew up the team, dumped the first key to a turnaround, and benched the second key to a turnaround.
                      I really don’t see the reasoning behind not calling it for what it is.

              • And Tim exacty how successful has NH’s drafting been? He started drafing in 2008, right, 8 years ago. And how many impact players has he actually drafted? Compare the Cubs. They turned around so much faster with smart drafting. And convince me that Will Craig h was the highest upside choice available when they drafted this year.

          • I suspect that if the Bucs do try to acquire a decent pitcher in the off season, it will be via trade as you say. The upcoming FA market is slim pickings sadly so I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about an extreme market for those few that are good. Bummer that we may have to part with even more prospects. Given the few decent FAs out there, I would assume teams’ “ask” for pitchers will continue to be high. I presume they’ll be looking to move JayHay and his $7.5 million salary in the off season since he’s been kind of a dud and they can replace him with the kids from AAA. Hopefully they won’t have to trade prospects to get someone to take him.

          • And a year earlier They could have kept Volquez.

            The rotation was a mess because of bad choices and limited budget AND because Liriano regressed AND Cole can’t figure out how to consistently go seven innings. His last start was pathetic – 5 innings from a so called ace.

            Think it is time to explore an off season trade for him and hope one of the west coast teams overpays

          • OK Tim what trade candidates are there and what would the acquisition cost be in more prospects? Tyson Ross? Maybe Maguire and Ramirez would have been enough for him right there.

      • That might be the singular example of them paying a market rate for a
        top-shelf free agent, albeit their own free agent (maybe that’s a
        difference?). You’re also right that they do sign free agents
        generally. But they are frequently bargain hunters. I’m not suggesting
        that they should abandon that as part of their overall strategy going
        forward. They just don’t have a history of going after top-shelf free
        agents. In their shoes, they have to be thinking that they don’t need a
        high-priced guy b/c of their internal options that are slot 1-3 type
        guys in the rotation and they can “fill in” around them. Taking NH at
        his word, he must view Hutchinson in that range, plus Glasnow (mid-June
        2017 I’m sure), Cole and 2 others from the collection of Kuhl, Brault,
        etc. What top-shelf pitcher is going to want a 2-3 year deal? Even if
        they were interested in a short term, they’ll surely want more
        money/year in return and that’s even less likely to happen with NH. If
        they sign someone next year, I would bet that it’ll be another
        reclamation project. We’ll be in the same boat next year as we were at
        the beginning of this year. The only difference is that we’ll have
        inexperience with higher upside but no one truly “reliable” from the
        get-go. I hope that I’m wrong.

        • “They just don’t have a history of going after top-shelf free

          They also don’t really have a long history of being good.

          They went for reclamation guys in 2012-2014. They paid for Liriano in 2015. They also paid for Martin in 2013, when he was more a mid-level free agent.

          They’ve maybe had two years where we’ve known they’d be contenders. They paid for a free agent in one of those years. They didn’t do it this year.

          There’s not much of a track record either way.

      • Tim all well and good if they didn’t think Liriano was ever going to bounce back. But why why why include RM as the cost of a salary dump. Is there any other team in MLB that does something so obviously stupid?

  16. I dont think it was a wise move to bench Cutch. I believe it would have been better to move him down in the order, take the pressure off of him and let him work through his slump by continuing to swing the bat. Hurdle appears to think it would be a less hit on Cutch’s pride by benching him than to move him down in the order. Look at his numbers in the Chicago series that preceeded the All Star Break, he went 4 fo 9 with a double and 2 Homeruns. After the 4 day break he went back in the tank again. Time off I don’t believe is the answer, but at least try moving him down in the order and see if that changes things for the better with Cutch’s season long slump.

    • James that depends. If some of the grumblings of bumps and bruises etc.. is true. Perhaps giving him time off is good. Some had even said on here about a possible DL stint. I know he had the thumb issue. Just a different perspective if that is true. My thought with that is, this is probably about a Month or so too late. But I see your point since he had the All Star break off. I think they said it best last night. They are trying everything. Maybe they are trying too much too and he just needs to disconnect. But the flip side. Joyce is playing well and does deserve to play some so.

    • I think it sends a clear, and needed message, to the entire team. Even the face of the franchise will get benched if performance is not what it needs to be so everyone else better be on their best (except Jaso, he is free to do nothing for the club as long as Bell doesn’t make it up…yes that is sarcasm)

  17. Tim I can’t believe how poorly you are misreading the anger about the Liriano trade. I mean someone as calm as Charlie Wilmoth called it a disaster. And those are strawmen you cite as far as the reasons for anger.

    The anger is about what this signals.

    • The trade in being panned nationwide for exactly what it is………the desperate dump of a #2 starter with a market salary to a deep pocket contender able to extort two top prospects in return for the salary assumption.

      • Exactly. And what the hell do you think 13M is going to get you next year in free agency? That probably is going rate for a #4 arm if you are lucky

        • and Liriano was pitching WORSE than a #4 arm…he needed to go as he was dragging the team down every 5th day (Just like Locke and Niese)

        • Liriano was a wildly inconsistent #2 starter (this year)that they dumped and sold top prospects to enable the dump.
          On July 21st he struck out 13 and walked none. He was unhittable that night. Toronto is putting him right in their rotation.
          One week before the deadline they were saying he was a key to their playoff drive.
          Why defend the indefensible? You initial reaction was that the trade could be a disaster. What changed?

          • “Why defend the indefensible? You initial reaction was that the trade could be a disaster. What changed?”

            Nothing at all. I’m still putting the emphasis on “could”.

  18. They saved 17M on Frankie. LOL would that even cover one year of Cashner next year?

    Need a bounceback pitcher for next year. Anyone know a pitcher with great stuff, a wipeout slider and an above average fastball he needs to command better to make his stuff play up. Toronto has this guy- maybe we can make a deal with them this offseason.

  19. It wasn’t about money. It was about production. Liriano basically was poor and didn’t appear to be getting back on track. So Toronto took him with two prospects and sent the pitcher back. In short, what would you do if a pitcher went south and you are on the hook for millions. You cut and run. Now Nh has money to allocate to improve the team. That is good management. they were going nowhere with five innings frankie.

  20. Tim, always a good article but come on, we all know that “upgrading in free agency with a big starter” is term for spending on a mid range arm. Plus, who in free agency would even be close to saying they are a high end arm? We all know it will have to be a big trade and with that big trade, we will get rid of more prospects, and then in the end, we are up a creek without a paddle. Would I be upset if we sent McGuire in a package for say Chris archer? To be honest, I don’t think so. I just don’t see us spending on a big arm in free agency because the class is pretty terrible.

    • The problem is, the Rays were asking for Meadows and Glasnow and not just McGuire.. If Ramirez and McQuire would have brought in Archer, the Bucs would have done that in a heartbeat.,

  21. Wow, this article is a stretch…, a Yankee cast-off and a prospect turned non-productive makes us better? So, instead of Niese and Locke blocking more talented young starting pitchers in 2016, we’re going to make the same mistake in 2017 with Nova and Hutchison? Sorry Brault, Kuhl, Kingham Glasgow, and Williams….you guys will have to wait another year…

    • Kuhl was down with an injury last week still working back.. Kingham not pitching in the majors this year. Glasnow on the DL …Brault and Williams will be in the mix even with Nova on the roster. You had Liriano blocking these guys as well. Nova is only here for the 2016 season unless he turns it around in 2 months and they resign him.

      • Other than Kingham, the other developments you cite were recent ones, Glasnow, Taillon, and Kuhl should have all been up in early to mid June. But, instead the FO decided to keep the likes of Niese, Locke, and Liriano in the rotation for another month and threw away the season in the process….

        • Disagree on Glasnow & Kuhl. Tyler was, and is simply not ready. And Chad was in the middle of losing his command for a whole month back in June. They weren’t ready.

        • Well, in Mid June, no takers for Niese, Locke, and Liriano. They finally moved 2 of the three and only Nova is blocking anyone and 3 of the guys are not available to pitch now anyway. Unless Nova lights it up, he will be blocking no one in 2017. No idea when Glasnow or Kuhl. will be ready to go in Pgh again.

  22. This is the type of article i reference when i say Tim bends over backwards to keep the shine on his holy NH and Pirate Management. The Liriano trade is separate from the other trades. Compare Liriano’s numbers last year, the year before and the year before that to the players we picked up… they don’t stack up. Statistics don’t lie and if someone had success previously there is a higher likelihood that they will turn it around vs. somone who never had that type of success to begin with. Just because a player struggles one year doesn’t mean you dump them for nothing while also throwing in prospects… that would have been like dumping McCutchen and throwing in 2 top 10 prospects to get them to take him.

    I like adding Nova but at what cost… remember we paid Toronto to take Liriano with two top prospects but for Nova we are giving two prospects… seems like we don’t know how to negotiate. Niese should have never been a pirate and NH finally owned up to that terrible trade but we still lost Walker as a result.

    This line is the worst of the article… They haven’t taken anything away from future years either. I guess McGuire and Ramirez were useless assets and this site is nothing more than drivel covering irrelevant, unimportant personnel and games.

    End of day… would you rather have Liriano in the rotation or continue trotting out Locke and/or Vogelsong? Frankie has been frustrating but no other pitcher provided us a better chance to win a game during his tenure with the Bucs.

    • Tim has to give positives to keep his readers. If he was negative most of the time or close to all the time, wouldn’t he lose his readership? As a paying site, he has to avoid much negativity.Can you imagine how much falloff there would be if Tim was constantly berating the Bucs or John was negatively posting on the minors. Not implying that either are homers, but to stay in business I feel they do what they do.

      As an example didn’t Perrotto lose his job because of his negativity?

      • I get what you’re saying, but Kovajevic is as negative as it gets and he rakes in the subscribers.

        Perotto did Pirate Report, which was supposed to be a mouthpiece of the FO. They wanted zero negativity.

        Tim is optimistic more often than not. However, could you have seen him try to be optimistic when Littlefield was here?

        “Uhhhh….Bixler has the upside of a………, uhh, Brian can play lots of positions and……….uhh, screw it, the guy’s a bum.”

        • Couldn’t remember what the situation was with Perotto. Thanks.

          DeJan also does other sports. When you have a Stanley Cup winner and Steeler FB, you can be negative with the lesser program in town.

        • If I was writing when DL was here, you would have seen negativity on the level of other Pittsburgh outlets. Only it would have been warranted, because DL didn’t know what he was doing.

      • All of this is false. It’s better in this market to be negative. If you’re positive, you get the bullshit above constantly about how you’re trying to defend management, even when your article is right on.

        Last year, I was defending management by saying Happ/Blanton/Soria/Morse was a good trade deadline with a lot of high upside guys. The people trashing the deals as not doing anything were objective. And yet who was right after all of that? How many people saying I was defending management came back and said “I was wrong, you didn’t just rush to easy criticism like everyone else, but you saw some value in the trade and it turned out you were right”?

        If I was negative, my life would be so much easier in this town. I’d also have more subscribers, because negativity is seen as objective. But I write what I see. The Pirates have won the third most games in all of baseball from 2013-2016, and they still have a top farm system. They also routinely add guys who look like they have no value at the time of a deal, only for the deal to look great later. Perhaps it makes sense that I’m not negative all the time for this team, and don’t immediately write a deal off because it’s not a clear winner on deadline day.

        • I rarely post, but I think there are probably a lot of subscribers like me who tend to take a wait and see approach. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t ticked off about the Liriano trade. It doesn’t mean I don’t question other FO moves that NH makes or on field decisions that Hurdle makes. But more often than not, if I reacted shortly after various moves were made, my reaction would likely be a very negative, over reaction.

          So I definitely value these types of articles that give a perspective that I may not have considered during my feet stamping temper tantrum mood soon after the trades. More often than not the moves made by NH have improved the club and helped put together a winning team. I don’t see how that can even be argued, yet it is argued daily by some posters.

          I will admit, it is kind of fun to read the negative over reactions to these moves/trades. Some will never give any credit to NH and Hurdle for developing a championship caliber team. They will question every move and will have the wonderful benefit of hind sight if their position is validated, but will rarely admit when their opinion was out in left field.

          Having said that, I still hate the Liriano trade and I really hope this was one of the “more often than not” trades that work out because it is kind of hard to accept.

          • You are actually in the large majority. Only about 1-2% of subscribers comment, and maybe closer to 5% when big deals happen. And comments — not just here, but all over the internet — tend to be more negative because people speak up when they’re unhappy, as opposed to when they’re happy.

            This isn’t to say that everyone who isn’t commenting is happy. But I think there are a lot more like you who are at least patient to see how it all plays out. Which is actually where I fall in all of this. I wrote on Monday that the Liriano deal looks like an overpay, and looks like it could end up being a disaster. But I’m not screaming my head off, and giving things time to play out, and somehow that translates to defending management.

            • I got pissed the the evening of the trade deadline because I was emotionally invested in McGuire’s bat coming around and reaching his upside. Kinda like many fans are emotionally invested in the Bucs being cheap.

              Then I read everything I could find on the deadline, Huntchinson, McGuire, and Ramirez. And I found balance. MLB.Com commented the trade didn’t have much impact on the Farm’s rating. Fangraphs had recently downgraded McGuire & Ramirez to basically replacement level prospects.

              Try not to take too much of this anger and blaming on buddy. Keep up the great work.

              • That’s been the interesting thing about the deal. People are mad about the trade because they gave up such big prospects. But all of the national ratings on those prospects are low.

                In my deadline recap, I had to raise McGuire to a top 76-100 prospect, and Ramirez to a Grade B hitting prospect to get Toronto ahead in this deal. And that’s where I view them.

                If I went with the national rankings, this trade might actually be in favor of the Pirates, and definitely would be even when you match McGuire/Ramirez for Hutchison.

        • I distinctly remember a very good article you wrote about how Happ/Blanto/Soria/Morse could work out well.
          It was compelling because I was at the Happ debut when he got bombed because he was ordered to only throw two pitches…fastball and slider. I wrote a post saying he threw 92 and 86, missed bats had good control but got hit hard they timed him up. He also had composure. I think I described him as looking like a great batting practice pitcher.
          We did not know the coaches ordered him not to throw his other pitches because they were intent on studying the delivery. They sacrificed a game to break him down. Everybody they got at the deadline helped.
          Last year’s team was stunned when they lost the wildcard after winning 98.
          I think this team is stunned management sold them out at the deadline. Trading Melancon, Trading Liriano, selling prospects, starting Locke, benching McCutchen.

        • One of my other replies said it was a negative media market, so to speak. Never lived there and the Pirates are the only of Pitt’s teams I follow at all. Good that you know your market so well, unlike me.

      • This makes the case that PP and staff are not impartial, it goes against what they say we are getting as subscribers.

    • “This is the type of article i reference when i say Tim bends over backwards to keep the shine on his holy NH and Pirate Management.”

      When this is your opening argument, I don’t read the rest.

  23. Hard to see 2017 being great with the SP rotation still very questionable. I’m pulling for the young guns, but to expect four of them to step in behind Cole and perform at a consistently high level is neither realistic nor fair to the young pitchers. They’ll scuffle. True, we now have ‘financial flexibility”, but others on this site have pointed to the paucity of FA SP expected to be available. To realistically have a chance at the WS next year, we need to acquire a strong No. 2 at a minimum. Otherwise, it’ll be groundhog day, again.

        • Of course it will. That is also part of why you build a farm system. I am in NO WAY SAYING THIS WOULD WORK PURELY AN EXAMPLE ONLY but. IF we traded Glasnow, Williams, and say Dickson for Sale that would still be beneficial The White Sox wont take that but I am just saying if you can get a top line pitcher or a #2 it is going to take prospects but if you use the prospects that would be filling that spot its not bad. Especially if that pitcher has controllable years. In that example we would have Sale, Cole, JT top 3 with Brault and Kuhl as 4 and 5. Still have Kingham developing and some of the other younger guys working your way up. That would truly be dealing from your depth not what NH did cause I don’t think Catcher was a depth for us, but that is besides the point.

  24. The inclusion of McGuire does tilt the evaluation of the deal. He may not be McCutchen but that isn’t a fair comp since he is still one of the better catching prospects in baseball. Furthermore,injuries and the waiver wire thrift shopping for catchers highlights the need for (and lack of) depth at the position.

    The article also doesn’t consider who the PTBNL end up being in the Nova trade.

    I don’t like the Frank trade but I am waiting to see what they do with the $20 million or so that they chopped from next year’s payroll.

    • Most likely wont be made to perhaps the end of the minor league season. I would expect it at best talent level to be a Rule V guy that we did not plan to protect and an organizational guy. Look at the AJ Burnett deal for an example.

  25. All in all they gave up one of the best closers in the game, a starting pitcher who has had success in the majors as recent as last year and 2 top 10 prospects for……an A ball pitcher, a reliever who might turn into something and a 25 yr old pitcher who has had no major league success and is in AAA. So in the end it looks like a pirates trade of the past, we give up the most and get the least in return. Well done.

    • Well said. Mind you this is in a market where even marginal pitching is fetching a premium and we not only overpay but undersell as well.

    • Don’t forget they also netted two MLB relievers having bad seasons!
      this is plain and simple a salary/roster purge. Liriano and Niese have been nothing but anchors (in the worst sense) on this ship and the PBC wanted them off the books completely. McGuire and Ramirez were quite literally sold for the gold in Liriano’s contract.

      I’m not so down on Melancon’s trade as I don’t think this team needs a closer as much as it needs a reality check. The return for him was fair if you insisted on having a MLB reliever in return. We can mock calling a middle reliever the equivalent to a top 50 prospect but we expect a king’s ransom for OUR reliever.

      Biggest problem with this deadline dealing was that we are so NOT as good as the Cubs that we had to make 2017 decisions not October decisions. The Cubs had the luxury to make a bad, selfish deal. We had to make a bad, stingy deal. I’m jealous.

  26. I’m not sure where the hell to post this but here is as good as any. Is anyone, Hurdle, NH, taking responsibility for sending Locke out there last night instead of Brault? You didn’t need Kershaw or Bumgarner out there last night. You needed someone who could give you 6 innings, 3 runs, yes a 4.50 ERA, and a chance to win. Brault can and has done that for you. Locke can’t. It’s that simple. If you have to go 6 man bullpen for a little or a 4 man bench you do it. I don’t understand it. Has anyone come out and explained it? This is basic stuff. It’s alarming.

      • I get that. My problem is sending him down for Moroff on the 31st. They never should’ve made that move. I think they thought they could get away with starting Locke against the worst team in baseball and they thought wrong.

        • Well that was before the trade deadline and they probably had higher hopes. Who knows. I get your point I questioned that move at the time. But unfortunately when I even looked at it. We were kinda stuck and yes I think they had hoped he could pitch well enough to win against Atlanta which he almost did except the offense decided to only play the first inning.

          • Come on Ron. Locke going less than 5 innings giving up how many hits, runs and walks not to mention little in the way of strikeouts and your blaming the Offense? Our pitching has been unable to hold a lead quite a bit this year.

            • Dude, I didn’t say I wanted Locke pitching did I. I said we were stuck. I didn’t say I agreed that could pitch well enough. But we scored 4 runs in the first against a rookie and then did nothing after that. The kid was clearly nervous and we had his pitch count elevated and we did nothing. There is no reason we should not have had more runs last night. That is my point.

              • you were passing blame from managements decision to keep Locke in the rotation and start him last night to the offense not scoring more than 4 runs. 4 runs against the worst team in the league should mean a win plain and simple.

                Having played ball I can tell you it is difficult playing behind a guy you know just can’t get it done. You feel like any lead isn’t safe and no matter how many you put up could be irrelevant.

                • No I wasn’t passing the blame. I am just also sick of the lack of offense as well. I played ball too man. I know. But when you score 4 in the first you should add on simple as that especially when its a rookie pitcher who is obviously not confident. But we didn’t.

                  • i hear you. I just pass blame to management for keeping Locke in the rotation. Yes, the offense should have put more on the board but 4 should be enough if management is serious about winning.

                    • That’s fair. I passed the blame to the management for my 0-3 performance in Softball Monday night because I read about the trade right before the game.

        • Moroff coming up for any reason was highly questionable and passed off as him being the backup for Frazier. What a pile of whatever. Brault would have been starting if that were not the case.

  27. Try spinning the trades anyway u can but they used top prospects to dump salary after telling the fans for years how valuable the prospects are as the reason not to add veterans.
    Even if neither prospect would have never played a meaningful inning in Pittsburgh what was done at the deadline was a slap in the face to true pirate fans

      • Simply not true. Hutchison alone was not worth two top ten prospects. The Blue Jays needed two top ten prospects before they were willing to trade Hutchison and take on Frankie’s contract. Which is why Hutchison was part of a trade whose main purpose was a SALARY DUMP.

          • Just because you wrote an article saying it doesn’t make it true. Do you really think that the Blue Jays took Liriano because his performance this season justified assuming the remainder of his contract? Because that is what you are saying happened when you say that Hutchison was worth the two top ten prospects the Pirates traded.

      • Exactly Tim. At worst – one of those guys went for Hutchinson IMO. People are on their soapbox hard, with agendas, twisting things the way they want things to be. Thanx for bringing balance to the conversation/temper tantrum.

      • Now I am stunned.
        Tim ……..are you really saying the Pirates traded Ramirez and McGuire for Hutchison?
        Even Neal, who threw that BS out there, covered his ass and got the Toronto GM to mirror him by adding the “financial flexibility” admission.
        Or perhaps “used” is a verb that includes the whole ugly transaction.

      • Tim, with all due respect, they did not trade prospects for Hutchison, it was salary dump. Just this past off season Huntington would not trade Diaz for a 1B because as NH said “You can never have too much catching depth” now all of the sudden its okay to include a better catching prospect for a reclamation project.

        I can believe that the Pirates and Jays were talking about a Liriano/Hutchison trade. But when the talks started about who pays for the salary of Liriano that’s when the prospects came up. Remember NH said that Nova was added to replace Liriano, but Toronto reported that the Liriano deal was not completed until about a minute before the deadline. Toronto probably wanted the Pirates to send money but the Pirates probably refused and instead offered prospects eventually working up to two top prospects for the Toronto taking on the entire contract. Frank Coonely probably and a big role in that.

        • I agree that you can’t have too much catching depth, which is why I didn’t like trading McGuire.

          Here’s a thought: Is it possible they like Diaz more than McGuire, which is why they’d trade one and not the other?

          Also, they did trade prospects for Hutchison.

          • Tim if they liked Diaz better then McGuire then why rush McGuire to aa this year, as you have state the kid could still be in low a age wise

            I have no problem with the trading of prospects, but do really believe that a Ramirez/McGuire package could only net a reclamation project that is stuck in aaa For an organization that is desperate for pitching. And if Hutchison was so desired then why acquire at the deadline, why not wait until the off season, why not wait until you see what u have in ur own guys like Kuhn n brault.

            I just keep having a problem when anyone including the likes of Greg brown and bob walk try to spin what happen at the trade deadline as a baseball move

            • They moved McGuire to AA because they liked what he showed in the off-season as far as his development.

              As for Hutchison, I think there’s a lot of value in getting him in the system for two months, having pitching coaches work with him, work with him throughout the off-season, and enter Spring Training with a plan, rather than entering Spring Training just getting him adjusted to the system.

              • Tim since I joined this site I have seen articles about how important a defensive catcher is. I have seen articles on how much you valued mcguire. I agree with you on both those parts. This site actually is why I valued McGuire as much as I did.

                But now I have seen two articles on how the Pirates can be better by trading away a 21 year old aa player regarded as one if not the best defensive catcher for a quad a reclamation pitcher who has not seem to be the same pitcher since surgery and could possibly be a number 4 starter ( which the Pirates seem to have plenty of ) .

                I honestly believe that McGuire is not a pirate today because of money, not because of what value they place on hutchison. You seem to be making an argument that it’s Hutchison value not money

                • “But now I have seen two articles on how the Pirates can be better by trading away a 21 year old aa player regarded as one if not the best defensive catcher for a quad a reclamation pitcher who has not seem to be the same pitcher since surgery and could possibly be a number 4 starter ( which the Pirates seem to have plenty of ) .”

                  We haven’t made any arguments that the Pirates are better by trading McGuire away. I’ve written over and over that I don’t like that part of the deal, even if I like Hutchison.

                  “You seem to be making an argument that it’s Hutchison value not money”

                  I’m saying it’s more Hutchison than money.

  28. With Bastardo signed for next year, it is nice that our left-handed relief situation is already squared away with Watson, Bastardo and Rivero all looking like locks to start the season in the pen. I remember the “second lefty” question being an issue discussed in spring training this year, and the Luebke/Lobstein experiment didn’t go so well.

  29. I’m more upset that they keep marching out Jeff Locke, Vogelsong and Jaso while better players are wasting starts in AAA. Plus Bell is playing RF instead of getting better at first. Is he that bad defensively at First? I don’t see what playing him at RF accomplishes other than possibly raising is trade value.

    • I’m curious about this as well. Hanson can clearly play 2B so you can try him in LF in case the need arises. Hanson has nothing left to learn at second. Bell is down because of his defense. People smarter than me that have watched him play in Indy will tell you this. So then why wouldn’t you play him at first full time in a way to accelerate his arrival and more importantly his bat?

        • Hanson is tryng to salvage his career by learning how to become a more patient hitter and take a few walks. He’s looking better the last 60 days, but it takes a while for those new habits to settle in. It would be foolish IMO to bring him up this season. And I think he went 5 for 50 after his last call up, and is hitting 260/310/370/680 in his 2nd season at AAA. How is that kid ready?

          • Moreso than Moroff, who they didn’t have any reason to call up. Hanson will be out of options next year. Might as well put him out there for a few games.

  30. These trades can help solidify the future,Rivero has potential to be very good,mixed with Watson and Bastardo 3 nasty lefties out of pen.Hutchinson can be a good addition to rotation,and give them more time to develop Glasnow.The two big horses are Cole, Taillon then Brault ,Kuhl,Hutchinson with Glasnow waiting in the wings not bad. Bullpen Watson, Rivero Feliz,Bastardo,Caminero,Nicasio,Hughes not bad. Judge these trades after next year then we will have a proper gage. Liriano, stunk,Niese stunk Locke stinks needs to go.

    • Dude. Hutchison stunk so bad he couldn’t crack a terrible rotation in Toronto and was demoted to AAA. Most likely woulnd’t have been offered Arbitration over the winter. Liriano was great last year and has played better than a 3 the past three years. So he had a down year… hate to tell ya but the whole pitching staff has had a down year not to mention guys like Cutch, Kang and Cervelli. I would also mention Searage having a terrible year as well. Our best hope of having a strong 2 next year to help our young ones along was Liriano… the Pirates are paying to bring one in… 13M for a 2 or 3 or 4 is under payment so the dump make absolutely no sense.

      • Most of your argument is good except Toronto has a pretty good rotation. Especially when you consider they are in the AL east which has some of the most hitter friendly ball parks in all of baseball. Just have to correct you on that though.

      • Toronto has the 6th best team ERA in the MLB. You are kind of off base on the Hutch comment here. You rarely see guys in their first year of arbitration non-tendered. Reason being is that the raises are never that big unless the production is crazy good. Which in that case they aren’t getting non-tendered anyway. Liriano was not even pitching like a #5 let alone a #2.

    • More than likely Feliz won’t be in Pitt next season. Hughes is a target to be nontendered. My self, I don’t have much confidence in Nicasio, but others do.
      Hope the Bucs get a good look at Hutch is Sept.

      • To Nicasio’s credit he has only allowed 5 ER in his last 21.1 innings pitched. With 28Ks and 8BBs. If he continues that pace for the rest of the year I think he is a lock to be back.

  31. If you include all three trades:
    -2016: I would rather have Nova over Liriano and I might rather have Melancon/Niese than Rivera/Bastardo but not by much. So the deals are a wash.
    -2017: I would rather have Hutchison and $18 mil over Liriano ($18 is the Liriano/Niese minus Bastardo difference). And I would much rather have Rivera/Bastardo than nothing. Big win for 2017.
    -2018: Hutchison and Rivera remain. If we still have Cutch at this point, Ramirez would not be needed or used in this year which would be the last year they could keep him in the minor before losing him to waivers. With Stewart gone, McGuire would be the valuable AAA option regardless of his hitting. Still a win but the McGuire loss is now felt.

  32. Despite Complaints, The Pirates Might Have Upgraded for 2016 and 2017″
    I have read this article three times, the headline the same. How can you post this without including the effect of the trade of a three time All-Star closer to a contender?
    “Nothing has really changed for the worse after the deadline…”
    In the midst of a playoff race, the Pittsburgh Pirates traded their All-Star closer, gave up on their number two starter, sold prospects for salary relief, benched for an entire series a former MVP, and benched Harrison and Jaso (two guys our GM made big bets on). To be specific, I don’t believe players are inanimate pieces of a puzzle. When you construct any sports team it has talent and a personality. When you blow it up and bench people in the middle of a race it has an effect on the human beings who make up that team.
    The implosion of the Pirates is a huge story in Pittsburgh, in all media. The McCutchen story is getting national play.
    I realize you guys attend and watch the minor league games but my opinion is that this site is completely out of touch on the magnitude of the Pirates deadline moves and the local and national perception.

    • They got rid of a #2 starter who was pitching at worse then a #5 level. But your right that really kills us. I think you also put way too much importance on a closer. If we can’t get to the 9th with a lead what good is a closer. That is the real problem.

      • Ron – you need to read Michael’s comment again. It isn’t a matter of how you feel it is a matter of how it affects a team that is supposedly competing for a title. This is nothing more than a firesale and sellout of this season. We will be lucky to finish above 500… right now i am hoping we tank for better draft selection and pool next year.

        I actually liked the Melancon trade… we wouldn’t have him next year, weren’t going to CQ him and weren’t going to do what was necessary to win this year. The other trades this year i was not behind… Niese for Walker – Bad, Liriano plus McGuire and Ramirez for AAA Hutchison – Bad (also seen by the team as a salary dump), Nova for two propects – Bad (Who did we give up for a back end rotation guy? Should have replaced Locke or Vogelsong not Liriano) and Niese for Bastardo – Bad (only done to recover from massive mistake earlier in the year.

        • True but Liriano was not helping us compete for a title. I could go further Harrison is not being benched he is hurt. Cutch everyone has said it here needed time away to get his head together. This probably should have happened sooner. Honestly I looked at the teams competing for the wild card I am not sure who is going to actually make it The Mets have way to many injuries (and literally no center fielder on their roster left), the Cards do now too (Diaz probably done for the season and still missing Carpenter). The Dodgers I think may be done now that Kershaw is not going to make it back. Miami is possible but also banged up. We are well just read anything on the message board. The Rockies I actually thought might be a lock until Trevor Story was lost for the season. So its a crap shoot at this point. Any way you look at it. regardless of who gets the WC which we still have a shot none of those teams will compete with the Cubs, Giants, or Nats so….

  33. I agree with nearly everything said here, but the statement, “They’re still a team looking good for 2017, with the young guys having more experience” only works if they ACTUALLY play the young guys now. Where to ***BLANK*** is Josh *BLANKING* Bell!!!!!!!!!

  34. Yeah Tim, I’m not buying it. Huntington said himself that the Hutchison trade was to help them in the here and now, not the future, that he liked this guy so much that he felt 2 good prospects was worth what he brings to the table.

    • Yeah I will agree with there is no way the Hutch trade helps out this season. It is possible it could help us next season, “possible.”

    • it helps by simply NOT having Liriano pitch…addition by subtraction. Same thing with getting rid of Niese

      • They didn’t have to trade Liriano to not have him pitch, they could have dfa him. Instead they used top prospects to dump salary instead of using top prospects to improve the team, that is the problem

        • not disagreeing but the premise of the article is that the team is better today and for next season. True, it might be worse off in future years depending on the catching situation.

          • How can we believe someone who has had no success in the majors like Hutchison is a better bet to be good in 17 vs. someone who has pitched at a 1 and 2 for more than a few years in the big leagues like Liriano. Just because he struggled this year doesn’t mean he will suck next year. Hutchison couldn’t stay in the bigs and arguably we could have had him for nothing over the winter when Toronto cut bait with him… no way they were going to arbitration with him.

            • that’s true if you believe Liriano can make a comeback….I don’t think he can. I think he’s washed up and his career is just about over. If Liriano bounces back to the last 2 years then this is a bad trade. His velocity is still there, but I believe he is overthrowing to try and maintain that velocity and hide that his arm is done. He simply can’t hit his target anymore on a consistent basis.

  35. They chose to start Locke last night. They went with LOCKE! I don’t care if the trades somehow make the team marginally better. Starting Locke is not a demonstration of how you compete to WIN.

    • I’m thinking they were auditioning him for the waiver wire to other teams hoping for a good showing. They will more than likely just have to DFA him for nothing in return now…oh well more than likely gone either way.

      • I agree… but that totally goes against Neil’s statements around continuing to contend for this year. All he is doing is lying to his fan base.

    • I had much less an issue with starting Locke than I did with Hurdle leaving him in the game when it was getting away from him. How you can bring Locke out for another inning when he amazingly escaped from giving up the lead and held onto to a 4-3 edge was among Clint’s worst mistakes of the season. Every fan could see what was going to happen when Locke started the next inning.

      • Exactly.
        It reminded me of seeing a deer just freezing for some reason in the middle of the highway while the semi was bearing down on it. The result was inevitable and very ugly to witness.

      • I agree with you, but 4 runs in the 1st and you can’t add on against a young rookie who clearly was nervous and had his pitch count elevated. That upset me even more then Locke giving up the lead. And that game was sooooo slow. I looked at my watch after the third inning and it was 8:30. I think an 8PM start finished before the Pirates and they only played 9 innings (I made this part up by the way).

      • The could have started Nova – but chose to go with Locke.

        Totally idiotic to bring Locke out for the 5th

        He had not pitched for 12 days – so take the four innings and go to the BP

  36. Can anyone recommend a good website that explains baseball statistics? (stats for dummies level)

  37. Tim, my personal disgust over the Liriano trade has nothing to do with whether the trade made the Pirates better or worse for this season or next season. My disgust comes from living through 20 years of losing baseball which were often accompanied by trades, signings and draft picks (see Bonds, A Ram, Moskos, etc.) which had more to do with saving $$$ then winning baseball games, all while we were told some obvious “other reason” BS about why these moves were being made.

    Then towards the end of those 20 years a light began to shine through the darkness as there was a change in hierarchy of the Pirates’ ownership structure and a new GM and team president were brought in. And the team suddenly started acting like it wanted to win by wisely spending big money on the draft, and by extending players even beyond their free agent years and even spending a little on free agents.

    Now I know the Pirates were still not big spenders as compared to the rest of the league but they were at least building up their payroll and were no longer making bad baseball moves for purely financial reasons. The result as we know has been three winning playoff seasons followed by this year’s disappointing but still at least competitive team.

    This brings us to the Liriano trade. Was it time to give up on Liriano? Probably. But if so the proper baseball move was to either find a team willing to take on all or a portion of his salary for a bag of balls or to eat his contract by releasing him. The Pirates payroll is no where near what could be considered an exorbitant level and with Melancon, Feliz and a few other vets’ salaries coming off the books the Pirates had plenty of extra money to play with for next season even if Liriano’s entire contract was still on the books. And that is including raises some players will be getting. Instead the Pirates made a desperate and obvious money saving move by trading two quality prospects to the Blue Jays for being nice enough to take Liriano off of our hands. And we are given some BS “other reason” why this trade was made.

    As you can imagine, this trade brings back bad memories of the Buccos dark days, which were not that long ago. Perhaps I am a fool for assuming so, based on how things had been going, that those days were long gone. But now I don’t know. Do I continue to faithfully follow my team at the risk of being played like a fool or do I turn my back on a team I have been rooting for since the early 80s.

    So ya, the Pirates may be a little better this year and next based on all of the deadline trades. But you could say the same thing if the Liriano trade was not included in these moves and the team could have avoided giving long time fans like me flashbacks to a darker time in franchise history.

    Anyhow, sorry for the rant. But I felt a detailed explanation was needed here.

    • I think you hit a lot of key points there. For a while, at least for me, the Pirates were moving in a clear direction. Build from within, extend guys like Cutch, Polanco and Marte. Draft well, develop, don’t overspend, don’t be short sighted and don’t panic. Make shrewd moves by trading Melancon and not offering him a 3 year extension on market value because they have a great track record of replacing closers. And then the McGuire deal comes. And truthfully McGuire may turn out to be a back up and Ramirez may turn into a .300 hitting corner OF with no pop. But how it was spun leaves a bad taste in our mouths. It was a direct departure from what got you here. And to Tim’s point where are they going to spend all this money when guys like Ian Kennedy and Jeff Smardzija are going for outrageous contracts? The OF is set. The infield is set unless you’re going to trade Harrison or Kang and sign a star at 2B or 3B which I doubt. Catcher is “so deep” they could afford to trade McGuire. So is this money going to be used to resign Feliz? I’ve gone from a wait and see/give them the benefit of the doubt attitude to highly skeptical in less than a year.

    • this rant captures my exact same feelings. The Liriano trade was a punch in the gut to long time fans who thought this current ownership/management group was above “making bad baseball moves for purely financial reasons”. It makes me seriously question if I want to continue to follow the team. I passed on both games the last 2 nites. Not sure when I will tune back in. Have still checked in here at PP to read Pirate news, but renewing my subscription in the future is also up in the air now. If this is the best fans can expect under ownership’s current budget constraints, I’m afraid we are not past the “dark time” in franchise history. There will be more dark days ahead.

    • I said the same thing on this site when the trades were made. Good for you to express your heart felt opinion.

  38. Tim, I think this is a very good article. I have completely agreed that this team did not get any worse for this season. Maybe Marginally better. I have not been a believer we were truly contenders before the trades based on our inability to beat teams with bad records (playing down to our competition), so personally I don’t care. The first two trades and even the Nova trade is ok with me. The Liriano one I am on the fence not quite as negative as most but you hit it, McGuire’s inclusion is my problem. But yes you are correct that doesn’t hurt us next year or even the year after that. From that aspect “IF” Liriano continues to struggle regardless of what Hutch does we improved because it does allow us to go out and potentially add a piece that might be able to help. Time will tell for sure. But I do understand everyones grumbles too. Some are more far fetched and overly negative but a lot do have some validity too. I trust you and John Tim. I will let this all play out.

    • If Washington is able to get Melancon for their 27th ranked prospect, why couldn’t McGuire have gotten us something that would have helped us more this year. Not arguing McGuire wasn’t going to help next year but counting on Diaz so magically be a great starting catcher is a bigger stretch than saying McGuire will be. Cervelli is an injury risk and so is Diaz now with his elbow…

        • I am saying we gave him away plain and simple. If the intent was to get better this year and next we could have done much better than we did. We weren’t seeking to get better but to dump salary.

      • One, we were asking them to take Liriano and his 17 million to eat. It was going to take some incentive for them to take the contract and give up at least a major league pitcher in return.
        Two, Melancon is a rental, he will be gone in Washington at the end of the year. (I think the Bucs did well on that return in my opinion)
        Three, If this was going on for several days leading up to the deadline, who knows what was being asked for to be included and got them to agree to take Rameriz and McQuire.

  39. You need to look at how and who constructed this rotation in January. Then you need to look at trusting him with these trades. It is a big leap of faith.

    • Bill that is a little harsh if you want to look at numbers now. But in January I thought we had a very good top of the Rotation with Cole, Frankie, and Niese. Cole is our ace who just needs to take it to the next level. Frankie was coming off 3 straight mid 3 ERA seasons. and Niese one bad year after 3 straight 3 ERA seasons (expecting Ray to be able to get him back to that). Then yes Locke and Vogey were ??? but they also were stop gap guys to get JT ready and limit his innings which he has moved up fine and potentially one other taking over as well. So in January things did not look that bad. I agree they look bad now but I would bet if you polled GM’s around baseball probably over 20 teams would have taken that rotation in January.

      • Dead Wrong.
        The dialogue on this site including from the writers was that the replacements for Happ and Burnett were inadequate. Not to mention also losing Soria, Blanto and Bastardo. Niese and Nicasio were big money team discards.

        • NOPE I AM NOT DEAD WRONG. Stats are what they are. Niese had 3 straight mid 3 ERA seasons prior to his bad 2015. AJ had worse stats when he came to Pittsburgh and was a big money team discard too by the way. Burnett retired what were the Pirates supposed to do. Happ was to be replaced by some of our young rookies when they were ready.

          • You are out of it….if you were a subscriber back then you would have read that even your heroes thought Niese and Vogey were not adequate bridge starters to the kids.
            Of course it was also widely discussed that the kids might not be ready on schedule and that Locke was questionable at best.

            • So because I was not a subscriber I know nothing. Guess what I made that whole decision completely on my own. I used a crazy thing called data to back that up. Lets look at your players both Happ and Burnett were throwaways because of poor performance and all of a sudden then were players we could not live without. I guess we were supposed to make Burnett not retire and keep him or something. So they replaced him with Niese the data showed that he had been good just had a HR problem and they hoped to solve that it didn’t work not every project will. I made that whole decision without reading anything from this site or my apparent heroes. I like the articles here and the info they provide. I am sorry if I have respect for people and was taught manners growing up. At the end of the day my life does not revolve around how well the Pirates do. Ironically these writers here to a degree depend on that. They need a fan base to have a audience. I like coming here and reading this. I choose to comment. I choose to be involved and add the insight that I was able to come up with completely on my own. As a former baseball coach and a current football coach I have a qualification to do that. If you don’t like my opinion then fine move on. Otherwise you just look like a fool. Perhaps I am more Acute then you are.

              • Take a deep breadth. The interplay on this site is not personal. I hope you calm down before football practice.

                • You are right its not. So don’t make it personal. Personal attacks are not necessary. You don’t agree, no one said you had to. There is the old saying opinions are like (you know what). we all have them and well….. I respect everyone’s opinion even if I feel it is wrong. I will challenge people with data. Personal attacks get you no where.

                  • Ron – Nobody agreed that Niese would be a good or even marginal number 3 on a contending team. His numbers have never beared that out so even pointing to his history doesn’t help you. Much of the dialog was around Cole needing to take the next step and be an Ace which he certainly has NOT. Averaging less than 6 innings per start is pathetic. Liriano needed to keep pitching like he had the previous three years and we had three 5’s in Niese, Locke and Vogelsong. I, for the life of me, cannot see how anyone would think this was ok to start the year. I knew the plan was for 16 to be a bridge to 17 with Glasnow, Tallion and others so NH’s lies early on didn’t bother me so much. His desperate moves at the deadline are what bother me and leave me with the impression we are back in the 80s and 90’s with past bucco management. NH has always talked about doing things the right way, doing things via the draft and developing your own talent. Then goes out and gives up two valuable assets for nothing but a salary dump on someone who had a better chance to bounce back and solifify our rotation next year than a bunch of we like this type potentials.

                    • Niese:
                      2012 ERA 3.40
                      2013 ERA 3.71
                      2014 ERA 3.40
                      How are those not #3. 3 straight years showing he could do it. His historical numbers were even better then Liriano’s were at the Twins before he came to Pittsburgh so not sure I see your point.

                    • Can’t let the facts stand in the way of an agenda……. Yes it did look like Niese was a good bet to have a bounce back year. Those who scream at the Niese deal scream that the Bucs should have spent decent money for a 3 year contract for JA Happ when he had shown nothing in his past of being worth big money except for the end of the year for the Bucs last year. Most people would have assumed he would have regressed this year instead of putting up the numbers he has in Toronto. Smh ……..

    • He took your dumpy team from one of the worst run franchises to one of the best. It’s hard to have contingencies when Liriano, Neise, Locke, McCutchen, Harrison, and Kang all are having or had bad seasons for the Pirates. The factor in Cole missing a month, Cervelli missing 6 weeks…I think you ought to see where I’m going with this.

      Not that NH is perfect, but you can only have so many contingencies for your team considering the financial limitations.

      I’m sure he didn’t expect to have to replace the entire rotation and make up for an MVP being nonexistent.

      Huntington’s earned some more faith than that, and he obviously plays the long game, Every. Single. Time. So not only do I think he earns more trust given his history so far, but these moves and how he’s played this season shouldn’t surprise or bewilder anyone, since it’s what you should’ve expected.

      • Well said, and we’re still in the WC hunt, even with a non-productive team. How big have Joyce and Freeze been?

        • The one thing about this whole “still competing in 2016” thing is now down to this – Jaso vs Bell. IMO, they have to bring Bell up and figure out what they’re going to do with Jaso, Bell’s glove will have to suffice. They need offense and quickly.

        • Those two were hail marys right before the season started after failed attempts to acquire others early in the off season. Glad they have worked out but its hard to give NH much credit for that.

      • Yes but unfortunately with the resources available any error is magnified. He is put in the position to make “crap shoots” out of his moves. Low budget possibly high potential. If you roll craps you know what I am talking about. The margin for error is razor thin with this franchise. He has rolled a good number of money bets but alas it has run out. What amazes me is what BOSOX paid for Sandoval and they have not missed a beat. We take half that and spend it in Frankie AND in 4 months it’s a disaster. Why not make a DL injury send him to Bradenton UNTIL something is figured out. They have AAA options that for some reason they are keeping under tight wraps. Unfortunately I did not trust him with the Blue Jay trade.

        • It probably has something to do with NH being an experienced major league GM with accessories on an entire staff of scouts, statisticians, and seasoned baseball people, and you just being a frustrated baseball fan with an Internet connection.

          Misses are just going to happen, some players are just going to have bad years, and just because something goes bad on an otherwise very good GM, doesn’t mean you completely lose your faith.

          If one trade, one free agent signing does it for you, then you were probably just looking for an excuse to hate on him and second guess.

  40. I hope that in the next several months it doesn’t look like trading Cutch for a bag of balls at this deadline would have been a good idea. Not too long ago I wanted to trade Frankie for a bag of balls. Unfortunately we paid Toronto a king’s ransom to take him.

  41. Is it just me or do people have a bad feeling that the “financial flexibility” will just go toward the arbitration increases that would have happened regardless of Liriano being given away. If Neil Huntington makes a significant signing/trade with the savings I will be happy. I guess we all have to wait and see :/

    • He keeps talking about raising the payroll but you are right they are not keeping pace. They look like inflation adjustments.
      Payroll as a % of revenue they rank low.

    • They will never use the “financial flexibility” to sign a top end starter to go with Cole. You are correct, it will go to cover arb raises and the occasional team friendly extension. Those are nice but will not get them over the top. Need some sort of proven big league arm to go with Cole and Taillon. At that point, I would feel good going into ’17 with some combination of Glasnow, Kuhl, Brault, Williams, Hutchison, and hopefully Kingham fighting for the last two spots.

  42. I’m curious why Diaz and Cervelli were mentioned as next years starters, especially with Stewart’s extension on the books.

    Nova was a little less than what I expected. But he is a backend starter (which the Pirates can’t seem to accrue enough of) with a slight to chance to be an upgrade. If he can stay away from his Niese like gopher ball tendencies he may shore up the rotation.

    Hutch didn’t win any allies with last night’s start. I guess he deserves a chance, based on being part of the org now, and hopefully will be productive. It’s not Pirate like to stash a $2M/yr player in the minors, but maybe he will get some extra attention and fulfill his potential.

    The BP looks potentially good for next year. Can’t say the same for the SP or the bench (which has been super). The financial flexibility may improve with the subtraction of Harrison and Cervelli in the offseason and NH can bring in more players he’s had his eyes on for some time. If he’s really going to make a go for it, he can free up a substanial amount if he trades #22.

    • Because Stewart is not a starter. He is signed to be the back up. Diaz’s injury definitely had a part in him not playing more after Cervelli broke his hand, but don’t expect that to happen again. If Cervelli goes down again and Diaz is healthy, he would be the starter in future years.

      • Surprising to me that extending Stewart for next season. Agree that Diaz would be the main man if Cervelli is injurred. What I don’t get is listing Diaz and Cervelli as a tandem for next season.

        • I am not sure if that is really what was meant by that. I think it might be more those are your long term starters. Cervelli if healthy and Diaz if he gets hurt. BUT I don’t want to put words in his mouth. That was how I read it though. I could be completely wrong thought.

    • The BP looked good this year too…that didn’t go so well. SP doesn’t look good for next year, and the bench will be a downgrade. If Cutch doesn’t hit, the team will once again fall on the shoulder’s of Polanco and Marte, and next year we won’t have Freeze and Joyce to save our butts. But we will likely be over .500, and five years ago all of us would have traded McGuire for that!

      • I don’t think it is “likely” that the Pirates will be over 500 this year or next year. It’s possible, sure. Bu for the past week they sure look like a team that has already given up. And next year? They have two legitimate pitchers and a bunch of question marks exactly like it was this year. Given the poor play this year by many of their regulars, they might go into the off season with questions at centerfield, third-base, second base, and first base. The only regular bench player coming back is Frasier so, they will have to re-create their bench. I think predicting anything for next year would be difficult.

    • Hutchison’s start last night is meaningless. If you know anything about how the Pirates operate, they will always let a new acquisition pitch his first game like he’s always pitched. They won’t intervene until after that first start.

  43. Nova, Bastardo and Rivero instead of Liriano, Niese and Melancon is probably not going to make a difference for this club in 2016. Rare is the deadline deal for Cespedes that changes the ballclub.

    • Next to go should undoubtedly be Locke, an improvement by subtraction. The recent pathetic showing vs 2 of the NL’s worst teams has possibly taken the PBC out of the WC chase, if they were ever a serious possibility in the first place.

      • Locke was especially frustrating, but let’s not forget the pitiful hitting after we scored 4 in the first. Getting two on in the 3rd with no outs, their SP on the ropes, and we waited for the big hit but it never came, and those two runners never moved up a base.

        Put Fryer on that bus out of town with Locke. A Catcher has to frame pitches and block if a pitch is in the dirt. Their first run was on him. I have to listen to the Atlanta feed here in Tennessee and they even commented that the pitch that was ruled a Wild Pitch should have been blocked without much difficulty. Rather than dropping and blocking the ball in the dirt, he tried to catch it with his glove and it rolled up his arm. Shaky stuff at 1B also last night that led to runs rather than outs.

          • that is because he sucks as a catcher. Sure McGuire would have been better behind the dish. Fryer can’t hit so if defense is what we are looking for McGuire would be better in the burgh right now… that’s right we have so much depth he doesn’t matter but we keep trotting these sub standard catchers out there.

            • So we are going to start a AA Catcher. Really? By the way Fryer is hitting .310 on the season and career .265 so he is hitting better then half our lineup right now. He is not a bad back up that was why the Cards had him due to injury to start the season. The let him go because their other catcher came back and got hurt again.

  44. So the slight “upgrades” Nova and Bastardo provide over Liriano and Niese more than make up for the downgrade in exchanging Rivero for Melanceon, an all-star closer.


    • Thomas: The Pirates wanted Drew Hutchison. Difficulties in 2016, but in 2014 and 2015 he was 24-18 in 60 Starts, 335 IP (almost 6/game), and had a combined WAR of 3.8 with means a Value of almost $30 mil. He will be “coached up” in AAA and come up in Sep and we will have him for ’17, ’18, & ’19. He pitched in the AL in a band box and is still only 25. Let’s wait to see how he develops.

      • Pitcher wins mean nothing. And if he’s so good, and we’re supposedly trying to win in 2016, why keep such a “great” player down until September? In case you didn’t notice, our rotation is one of the worst in baseball. And if he presents so much value in terms of WAR, why is he having so much trouble getting out of the minors

        • NH wants the extra year of control, ideally with the opportunity to have a few starts in AAA to work with him. If they turn Hutchison around and get him for a full three years, that may – may – turn this trade into a net positive. It’s about the only way the math can possibly work.

          Assume Locke is out of the rotation after last night’s fiasco. Vogey is auditioning (I think he’ll do OK at least for tonight). Then you’ve got Brault & Kuhl to handle the other rotation spots. At this precise moment, Brault & Kuhl likely bring more value than Hutchison. That may not be the case in a few weeks.

          Look, the optics of the trade/dump sucked. But it’s done and there’s nothing we can do about that. So let’s see if they turn Hutchison into a decent-to-good pitcher. He has the tools to do that. His 2014 was certainly better than Niese or Locke at the very least.

          • I understand the contract stugf , I truly do. What I want is for the FO to stop spinning it like Hutchison is here because he’s a good pitcher.

          • everyone understands the deals are done and cant be changed. my issue is with management trying to spin this as a positive we are trying to win this year and beyond and then others bending over backwards to echo that sentiment. As a whole NH did little to make this team better than the team last year. The recent trades don’t make us better now and will not in the future. Hutchison isn’t a great pitching prospect, wasn’t being held down in toronto due to money/contract issues… they are big spenders not like the pirates… and we didn’t need to dump salary… still in the bottom 10-15 percent.

        • The Bluejays had him at AAA and Tim explained very well that it is a money/contract issue. If he comes up in Aug he becomes a FA after 2018; if he comes up in Sep he becomes a FA after 2019. Luckily for the Pirates, we are just continuing the direction already established by Toronto. According to Fangraphs, his Value was in 2012 WAR of 0.5; 2014 WAR of 2.3; and 2015 WAR of 1.5 for a 4.3 Total as a SP in MLB.

      • He had better results than I originally thought. Read last night’s summary and he probably not only was okay, but after he settled down, performed at least average.

      • Like the trade if you want. I disagree with your opinion entirely.

        Tim wrote an entire article saying “despite complaints” the Pirates are better in 2016 because of these trades. In said article, he failed to address the dumping of Melanceon, Who I think is a significant talent. He didn’t address Hutchison either, perhaps because Hutchison hasn’t even advanced from AAA.

        Tim is entitled to his opinion, but I think he is clearly wrong. The Pirates are a worse team now than they were before the deadline. You can believe that they wanted Hutchison if you want. They did say that. I think the trade was about money. They said that too.

        Personally I think the Liriano trade stinks all the way around. I think because of it they are weaker now, weaker in 2017 and potentially further down the road. Sure we will have to “wait and see” to know for sure, but c’mon. The Pirates brass gave up on 2016. Obviously.

        • Thomas: It is very difficult to believe the Pirates goal was just 2016, because the trades do not support that. Between the deadline and the end of the season MM was going to be gone, so we got the best available deal.

          Between the deadline and the end of 2017 Liriano was going to be gone. His only value to the Pirates was to be the solid veteran presence for the kids coming up from AAA, and he was not doing a very good job at that. Toronto has a ton of contracts expiring after this year and they needed something NOW and had to give up a rising star to get the aging Liriano. Hutchison has advanced beyond AAA 3 years and has an MLB overall record of 30-21 in 73 MLB Starts. There’s a big money/contract reason he will spend Aug in Indianapolis. The Pirates will reference it as something else, because that is how the game is played.

          • I absolutely believe that the Pirates goal wasn’t to get better in 2016. You are right about that. I don’t think it was about being better in 2017 either. I think it was about $$$.

            Hutchison isn’t a “rising star.” He is a middling 4-5 starter at best in 2016, otherwise he would have been in Toronto’s rotation. They are in contention, unlike the Pirates. No one projects Hutchison as a “rising star.” No one. He projects as a AAAA pitcher and the Pirates have plenty of those already.

            If Liriano returns to form at all this will be a horrible trade for the Pirates. Even if he doesn’t the Pirates payed too much for Hutchison.

            • Thomas, switching Melancon for Watson as your closer was what the plan was supposed to be from day 1 this season. I would not pay Melancon $17 million plus a year starting next year either. The Bucs got a hard throwing lefty to put in the pen for 5years now to go in the later innings. They got a huge upside hard throwing lefty to boot. Again, if Watson was not there, you would have a point.
              As for Liriano, he was not even a bad 5th starter. He was horrible.

              • Nobody is saying Melancon didn’t need to be traded or was going to play for the pirates beyond this year. The argument is Tim echoing managament and saying after the trades the big league team is better this year and next. Losing Melancon does not in any way make us better this year. Should he have been traded before the year… i personally think so. Doesn’t matter though because losing him now weakens our chances this year.

                • The deal gave us a stronger LH reliever position. Watson for Melancon is a push. Yes, Mark has a bunch of saves but he does seem too make a lot of them very interesting and exciting and not for getting 3 up and 3 down consistently. If they did not have Watson and made the deal, you have a valid point

      • He had a winning record because the Blue Jay’s score a lot of runs…what is his career major league ERA?

    • Thomas, it seems you may not have noticed that Melancon wasn’t going to be signed for 2017 (too expensive relative to other bench or bullpen pieces that we can sign), and Rivero will be part of the 2017 team, and then 4 more years afterwards if not traded. … Tim, great article. I had no problem with any of the trades. Liriano gone: while he has been fantastic over the years, he has been awful for 4 months. His inability to eat innings did not fit with the rest of our below average and young rotation. The trade was in part addition by subtraction. Sad about Reese, but that’s the way life goes. It appears, Tim, you are now paying the price for grasping the Pirates organization as whole, in that, you are now in the smallest of minorities, which can be quite lonely. I am with you. Keep up the great work – you’ve built something great – Pirates Prospects!

      • Tim wrote that the trade made the Pirates better in 2016. Melancon is a better pitcher than Rivero. Period. Ergo that trade made the Pirates week or in 2016. If you want to pretend otherwise, that’s fine. But you are living in the land of make believe.

        • Tim wrote the trades MAY HAVE made the Bucs better. Important distinction that you ate blowing write past Thomas.

      • Count me in that small minority. Tim wrote the article that needed to be written – sorta counter-balancing all the crazy Pirate fans here. Those fans have a point, but are overboard IMO, and totally disregarding our history rehabbing guys like Nova & Hutchinson.

    • Thomas H, Melancon was to be traded last off season. Watson was supposed to be the closer going into the year anyway. No idea what was offered last winter but since they did not move him, must not have been much. Now, if Watson was not there to be the closer already and they were going to have a closer by committee, you would have an argument. To pick up a hard throwing lefty to go with Watson does make the bullpen better now in my opinion.

    • In case you haven’t noticed, the Pirates’ starting rotation rarely gets through the 6th inning. Melancon was reserved strictly for the 9th inning. They had a bigger need for middle inning relief right now, as Nicasio and Caminero have been hit or miss. So, judging by the usefulness of each of the players you mentioned on this particular team, I would argue that the team got better in 2016.

      But, even if you don’t agree, looking past 2016, the trade was a no-brainer. Rivero is a future closer or at worst a great set-up man who the Pirates will have for 5 more years. If you don’t see the value in that addition in exchange for two months of Melancon, you are dillusional (did you forget how we got Melancon in the first place?).

      Time to move on from the Melancon trade. Also, it would add some credibility to your comment if you spell his name correctly.

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