I made a decision last week: I’m done discussing the Francisco Liriano trade, unless something new happens that updates the discussion.

This decision probably should have come a lot sooner. Liriano was traded on August 1st, and since then, there has been five months of almost daily conversation about the trade. Actually, conversation isn’t the right word. Complaints seems too mild. We’ll just say that people have been stewing in anger for months, repeating the same things over and over, even though there was no new information.

Granted, there were some factors that changed after the deal. Liriano had some good results with Toronto, although that was seen as a possibility at the time of the deal. It was also a situation where the Pirates didn’t expect Liriano to turn things around with them, making it somewhat irrelevant if he turned it around elsewhere. Drew Hutchison — the lone return for the Pirates — didn’t do so well in his initial jump to the majors, although he hasn’t had a lot of work with Ray Searage. When I say no new information has come out, I mean in terms of how this deal changes from expectations at the time of the deal.

I went back and looked at my reaction at the time of this deal. It wasn’t a positive reaction, although I didn’t resort to screaming and acting like it was the worst move in the world. I wanted to take a measured and nuanced approach — which is always my goal here — and see how this deal could change in the future.

The fact of this deal is that it is nuanced, and a lot of the Liriano talk since then has tried to take a nuanced trade and fit it into a black or white rating system. This deal was about saving money. If you say otherwise, you’re ignoring things that Neal Huntington said, and you’re ignoring the reality of the deal. It was also made because they liked Drew Hutchison. If you deny that, then you’re doing the exact same thing as the people who deny the payroll savings and say they just really liked Hutchison and that was their sole motivation. The Pirates had two motivations here — get a player they liked and cut some salary from a player they didn’t think would produce for them going forward.

So the biggest things that could change for the perception of the deal came down to Hutchison’s performance, and what the Pirates did with their payroll savings. We’re still left waiting with Hutchison, and might get a chance to see how that side of things plays out. I said at the time that I liked the pickup. This is a guy who looked like a legit MLB starter just a year ago. I’ve talked to scouts who have seen him, and my opinion matches theirs — he’s a guy who can start in the majors, although he’s not going to be a top of the rotation guy. If Ray Searage can make that happen, then he needs to go in the Hall of Fame immediately.

I do think that Hutchison could end up in a Jason Rogers situation. If the Pirates add Jose Quintana, that leaves one rotation spot remaining, with Hutchison battling with Chad Kuhl, Steven Brault, and Trevor Williams. He would then become expensive depth, although would find it easier to make his way into the picture than Rogers did.

But it’s safe to say that we’re still waiting to see what they’ve got with Hutchison, and whether they can turn him back around to the pre-2016 version of himself.

As for the money, we now know how that has turned out, and that’s the one reason I’m breaking my new rule and discussing Liriano today. Last week, the Pirates signed Daniel Hudson and Ivan Nova. Hudson received a two-year, $11 M deal. Nova received three years and $26 M, plus up to $2 M per year more in performance bonuses. The Pirates also signed David Freese to a two year, $11 M extension during the season, and noted that this was the type of move they could make with Liriano’s savings.

It’s tough to break down how the Liriano money was reallocated. The Pirates saved about $18.5 M, and they committed $48 M to those three players. They’ll also spend about $20 M on those three players in 2017. If you look at the payroll, they are currently just shy of $103 M, which is where they started last year. It’s safe to say that they’ve spent the Liriano money, and exactly in the way they said they would. Here was a quote from Neal Huntington right after the trade.

“At the end of the day, I ultimately decided that the financial flexibility, adding Drew Hutchison to go with our young pitchers, the financial flexibility that’s going to allow us to reallocate those dollars onto this club in different ways, was a good move for us as we sit here,” Huntington said. “It didn’t take away from this year, but added to our ability to impact this club in different and potentially better ways for next year and beyond.”

The Pirates dumped Liriano’s salary, and they’re moving forward with Nova, Hudson, and Freese. If you have Liriano on this team, you don’t have the salary for Nova and one of the other two players. I would personally take Nova and one of Hudson or Freese over Liriano, especially when considering that the Pirates weren’t confident he’d turn things around with them.

The entire salary situation really shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s only a surprise because people spent months talking about this deal on a daily basis, with no changes. When you talk about a deal on a daily basis, you quickly run out of things to talk about. So you start creating new things to complain about. One of those things was the idea that the Pirates wouldn’t spend the money, and would just enter 2017 with a lower payroll than 2016. And when that got repeated daily, it started to become a fact for some people, to the point where the signing of Nova and Hudson last week was a surprising move, even though it was exactly what Huntington said they were going to do after the trade.

But where does this leave the Pirates? It’s a good thing that they spent the money, but that doesn’t really change the deal. The deal was Reese McGuire, Harold Ramirez, and dumping Liriano’s salary for Hutchison. The Pirates have answered the question about who will replace Liriano on the payroll, but we still need to see if that was a good decision. If Nova and Hudson don’t fare any better than Liriano last year, then it won’t matter that the Pirates ended up spending the money. Hutchison is an unanswered question, and I’m not sure when we will get the answer as to what he can be, at this point.

One thing that has changed about this deal for me has been the evaluation of Reese McGuire. If you recall, I pushed him up during our mid-season rankings because I wasn’t ready to downgrade his offensive potential. It seems I was alone in that regard. Baseball America didn’t have McGuire or Ramirez in their top ten prospects for Toronto, and the Blue Jays don’t exactly have a loaded system. We were low on Ramirez, rating him 12th overall a month before the trade. If I hadn’t pushed McGuire up, he would have been 10th. He probably would have dropped down a few more spots in the second half. And after seeing how many national writers were down on his offense, I’d probably have to change my view and start to downgrade him. It’s not that I’m afraid of going against the pack when I’ve got a different opinion. But Reese McGuire’s future offensive potential is not a hill that I feel strongly enough to die on.

The interesting thing about this deal and the daily complaints is that when Liriano improved with Toronto, it was noticed. When Hutchison didn’t do well, it was noticed. But when every national writer started saying that McGuire and Ramirez weren’t as good as Pirates fans were making them out to be, it was largely ignored, or seen as spin. That’s not a very objective approach.

And still, it’s hard to get beyond the idea that the Pirates traded prospects for salary relief, which is an idea that doesn’t sit well, even if the prospects are more throw-in type guys, rather than top of the system guys. The trade could look better for the Pirates if Hutchison turns into a reliable starter for three seasons, and if Nova/Hudson/Freese work out. But the latter part is just the advantage of having salary relief to spend, which means that it’s impossible to view this deal as three players for Hutchison. The salary relief is the second return, and the Pirates traded that pair of prospects to partially get rid of that salary.

The salary question has been answered. There’s really no need to discuss this deal on a daily basis at this point, in my opinion. The only thing it accomplishes is just steering every conversation to this topic, or hammering the exact same talking points over and over like a broken politician. At this point, it doesn’t yield smart baseball talk, but instead takes us down the path to making up false realities about the Pirates’ intentions for the trade. There will be a time when it’s appropriate to discuss this deal again, but that probably won’t be until we see what Hutchison does, or what everyone else does during the 2017 season.

And now, I re-shun the Liriano trade discussion.

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125 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks Tim for rehashing good topic!
    To me this is more about NH continuing to find non-traditional ways to sustain success with a bottom end budget.
    He’s focused on managing expenses and taking measured shots on upside depth plays (Hutch). Typical NH.
    There are no guarantees with this, (see Rodgers), but he’s been selective enough to find value (Hanrahan, Melancon, Rodriguez, Freeze).
    The question I find is if it’s enough. This is the source of most of the angst from people: you either see it from NH’s actual situation financially or you have jealousy over how other teams approach or exceed their budget.
    For the most part NH has had success and managed his budget. Not sure that will ever be accepted as successful in this city of champions.

  2. They liked Hutch? Didn’t they also like Whitehead? 🙂 🙂

    I’m with the poster below. I was upset when they included McGuire. Ramirez, to me, was another Tabata, maybe with a better attitude?

  3. One of my frustrations with the Liriano Lunatics is they seem to think the trade the sem to love to hate occurs in some magical isolated place. I am almost certain that…
    1. Liriano was fully “shopped” – multiple teams were contacted directly and indirectly. There may or may not have been other offers – we probably will never know.
    2. Both “prospects” were also shopped and again there may or may not have been offers for one or both.
    3. Negotiations with Toronto were complex – a variety of players were discussed – and how much of Liriano’s salary Toronto would pay and how much the Bucs would pay. It seems likely that multiple scenarios we’re agreeable to both Pittsburgh and Toronto.
    4. Before “they pulled the trigger” the FO evaluated all of their options and decided the deal with Toronto was their best option – nobody forced them or Toronto to make this deal and reject a better option.

    But for some people it is easier to believe that Huntington and his staff just take any old deal that comes along and gets regularly snookered by smarter GMs

  4. I’ve thought for a while that NH needs some lateral moves, i.e. trades that can move us up a notch, particularly with how good the Cards and Cubs are.
    While NH has made some good trades, he has had some flops. My observation is that That Theo and the cards gm have gotten more in trades. Maybe a future article could take a closer look at NH trades compared with our division rivals.

    • Cubs and Cards have so much financial flexibility that covers any blunders, such as the Cubs spending $180,000,000 on Hayward. Highly questionable moves were trading for Chapman for three months and signing Fowler when greater talent was at AAA.

      The Cardinals represent a small city, but their market spans across the Mid-West, partly due to being the region’s only consistently winning franchise for more than a generation.

      IMHO, it is more fair to compare the Pirates’ trades with their brethren in the ‘small market division’ of MLB, such as the A’s, Reds, Rays, Brewers, Royals, Twins.

  5. The only issue is Mcguire. Good salary move, an outfielder from a position of depth, and an arm in return. Mcguire may not turn out but plays d and catchers is a position you never have enough depth

  6. I am so sick of all this bs talk that the Pirates are a business just like any other. As fans we don’t pay for Westinghouse to build a new plant unless you are a stakeholder. Those companies with stakeholders are required to make their books public. We as fans PAID for PNC Park. We have a vested interest in the club and should now how they are allocating their money. In general, the clubs value has increased exponentially with the building of the park. We have every right to criticize how they allocate their funds, especially with many articles like Forbes that have shown they have not spent enough on payroll. But Forbes I guess isn’t a viable resource because it’s only the most respected financial publication in the world and doesn’t support your argument. Stop comparing the Pirates to a normal corporation in arguments because it is apples and oranges.

    • While you are at it why don’t you find out how much Parking revenue goes to the city that The Pirates get no share of.

      And then get PNC to rework its absurd naming rights deal since they too are “ripping of the taxpayers – $2M a year through the 2000 season – the Mets get 10 times that amount

    • The Pirates paid $40 million, Allegheny County taxpayers $220 million. (For PNC only) Fans didn’t fund the stadium, taxpayers and Pirates did. The plan also included the Convention Center and Heinz Field. Total expenditure about $810 million.

      Forbes actually doesn’t have a good reputation when it comes to trying to figure out professional sports teams budgeting. Plus… how could they be accurate is as YOU say the info isn’t public? Guess?

      • Yes, taxpayers funded the stadium. All the more reason Nutting should have to be more open about his business practices

        • Would that put them at a competitive advantage or disadvantage if they were the only MLB team to do that? I don’t see any advantages to the Pirates or their future on the field success by doing so. So what’s the point? To appease Hank’s?

        • Why?
          Seriously…
          it is his team – he did not force taxpayers to fund the stadium they were free to vote no.
          i am constantly amazed by the number if communists we have on this site

      • Hmmmm well I’m an Allegheny tax payer and a fan, the majority of the 220 million came from those taxpayers are also fans so again the fans paid for the park. So your argument is doing nothing but supporting my argument so Thanks!

        • I live in Allegheny County also. Unfortunately a majority of Allegheny County taxpayers aren’t fans. Otherwise they’d get more people showing up to the ballpark. Regardless I believe taxpayers have every right to scrutinize the way their money is spent. You’re barking up the wrong tree though. Your elected officials chose how that money was spent, not the Pirates.

  7. Liriano was a wonderful addition to the Pirates, and I will always be appreciative of his contributions to the team. With that said, it was time for him to go both for his sake and the team’s, too.

    Time will only tell if NH made a great deal, but in my eyes, it’s all but certain he made a good deal.

  8. Tim, your site writes at times glowingly about prospects which gets the readers thinking that the prospects can’t miss. Then they are traded and the comments reflect the loss, especially when it is done for salary relief. Now that the prospects are with another team and other writers and scouts comment on their potential we get a different perspective of the players abilities. I personally liked both Ramirez and McGuire and think we will see them both make the majors but at this point I have to say that major league teams should never trade prospects for salary relief as the Pirates did. I will wait and see what Hutchinson does and hope he is very successful but I think the site has to realize that its coverage tends to mold the readers thinking and perhaps we should all realize that these prospects are all suspects until they prove they can make it in the majors and be successful there.

    • I reject the notion that we write any different about prospects than any other site. We didn’t really have glowing reports on Ramirez and McGuire. The mid-season report on Ramirez said he was a big risk to become Jose Tabata, and by that, I mean the no-speed, singles hitting version.

      The entire mid-season report on McGuire was how most people were doubting he’d improve his offense, and we were giving him another shot because he was still young. Not exactly glowing to point out a flaw and say that you could justifiably rank him lower if you didn’t trust the offense would come around.

      • Can’t locate the McGuire profile and 2016 Guide right now but I recall that he was rated by this site as a MLB quality defender, advanced beyond and his years, and “ready” defensively. Certainly questions about the bat but nobody was down on him at the time and it was losing him that caused most of the angst.

      • The remark was general in nature. Sorry it was construed to be specific to those players. Bottom line is the site is relied upon to tell the reader how good the prospect is. Once gone the reader can absorb other view points.

    • Why should they never trade them for salary relief? If you are ultimately better why rule any type of transaction out? Who do you think will make the Pirates better should be the question.

      Liriano
      McGuire
      Ramirez
      Polo
      Tarpley

      OR

      Nova
      Freese
      Hutchison

      Nova is projected for 2.5 WAR in 2017. Freese 0.7 WAR. Hutchison 1.0 (as a swing man 10 starts, 20 relief appearances)
      Liriano is projected for 2.0 WAR in 2017. The 4 minor leaguers 0.0.
      (Steamer projections from Fangraphs)

      Why not make your team better?

      • Ah, I see that I just walked on your post in my comment above! Sorry about that, I hadn’t read your comment before I wrote mine. But I obviously whole heartedly agree!

  9. The real solution to the Pirates problems were Nutting giving NH the “financial flexibility” to have a $115m payroll. Anyone arguing for the trade is accepting Nutting’s artificially low payroll ceiling, and there is zero proof that that ceiling is necessary for the franchise to survive………

      • He has made many times his initial investment, which is the ultimate proof that even in a word case scenario he can run small deficits without hurting the business.

        • No one who has ever run a business would ever argue that drawing from equity to increase your operational budget is a good idea. If in fact it’s possible for a majority owner to do so in the first place.

          You can argue that the team generates excess profit that could instead be diverted to payroll. You just have to accept that you have no evidence to support your position.

          • Much more evidence exists that they are making a significant profit versus breaking even. I have not seen a single analysis guess that they are breaking even now. Owning a sports team is not a normal business, and it should not be compared to any industry outside of the sport business. Winning drives your profit, so you better spend what it takes to win.

            • But we know that’s empirically not true. Spending is only weakly correlated with winning (r < 0.3 five years in a row), and winning is only weakly correlated with profit (per SABR, only 9 teams had a consistent, positive correlation between winning and increased attendance – and the Pirates are not one of these teams).

              And since national and local TV revenue and central fund revenue sharing are locked in contractually (unless you happen to be in a re-negotiation year for your local TV contract), gate receipts are the only variable that would lead to significant increases in profit.

              But back to the Pirates' bottom line. There is no "evidence" one way or the other of the Pirates' profitability. Forbes is the only outlet that even ventures a guess, and when Deadspin leaked 6 teams' financial information in 2010, Forbes' net income estimates were significantly higher than those teams' internal figures, almost across the board. Everything else you may read is, as you pointed out, a "guess."

              I'm sure the Pirates turn a profit, the only question is how much. Anyone pretending to know the answer is fooling themselves.

      • There are 29 other teams without the artificially mandated payroll at less then 100 million no matter what. All the other teams can go up and down we are stuck at a flat number. That’s an issue

    • Please….. lay out your financial facts on the Pirates payroll for all of us to see….. or do you have zero proof to back up your payroll claim? Also in the spirit of financial transparency include your most recent pay stub with all your posts.

      • Are you serious??? NH has clearly outlined his budget limitations. You must not be reading this site….or any other for that matter. I would love to show you my financials if you want to send millions my way…really ridiculous statement. Nutting doesn’t need to show his financials, just be more open about his budgeting assumptions. Do he budget at break even, or at a $20m profit level?

    • Survival? That’s your litmus test for Pirates payroll budget? You clearly have not a single clue about owning/operating a business!

      • It is Nutting’s litmus test that matters and not mine. No one has any clue about the underlying assumptions he makes in his budget. I use the word “survive” as Nutting has shown little flexibility to go much above $100m, leading us to a “bridge year” last year. The term is used for dramatic effect. And by the way, I have managed yearly Corporate budgets that are much higher than the Pirates, so I know just a little about this subject.

      • Sure, and that doesn’t make it any less stupid, and that means this franchise cannot compete over the long haul.

      • Your making our argument he can do what he wants. The value of the team has increased close to 1000%. We have had 1 really good team 2 good teams and 14 terrible teams during his ownership. He has been wildly successful financially and arguably the top three worst owners bases on performanced.

        • Not to interrupt the narrative with facts, but Nutting became principal owner in 2007, so you can lop off a bunch of the terrible teams and the value of the franchise has only increased about 250% since he took over.

          As for 3 worst owners – that’s hard to argue. Nutting’s teams have averaged 76 wins (McClatchy’s averaged 71). Not great, but better than Colorado, Houston, Miami, Minnesota, San Diego and Seattle. And the further away from the McClatchy years you get, the higher the Pirates rank. Over the last 5 years the average is 87 wins.

          • You are correct Bob Nutting has been the official owner since 2007 however he has been chairman since 2003 and his father owned in Plurality the team since 2005. I guess you could say the Nuttings have overseen 10 years of crappy baseball with one really good year and two good years (maybe one of the crappy years was average)

            Still thats a lousy record no matter how you look at it. All of those teams above have had more success then the Pirates during that time except possibly the Twins, Seattle, and San Diego. I would argue that Seattle ownership really trys they just are not very good. The others it could be argued that the Pirates are consistently a better franchise

    • It works this way also…..

      An ideal solution to the Pirates problems could be Nutting giving NH the “financial flexibility” to have a $115m payroll. Anyone arguing for the trade is accepting Nutting’s low payroll ceiling to be what it is, and there is zero proof that that ceiling isn’t necessary for the franchise to survive………

  10. Another attempt to defend the indefensible trade….if the team wasn’t rubbing pennies together, they would have eaten the contract or kept Liriano, in the hope of turning him around again. To also trade two top 10 prospects to unload his contract, and to say afterwards what a great return they got in Hutchinson was an insult to Pirates fans. That is all that needs to be said – there is no defense for that trade or a way to redeem it – unless Hutchinson shocks the world and wins 15 games in 2017 for Pittsburgh.

    • There you go. Ignore the fact those 2 players aren’t top 10 prospects in Toronto in 2017 much less where thet would rank in Pittsburgh in 2017. Ignore the fact that the Pirates have a budget and there is no eating Liriano’s contract unless you are adding no one but league minimum players. You bitch to high hell over the Jason Rogers trade. He looks like Babe Ruth compared to Bob Uecker Jr and Jose Tabata Jr. If you yell the same thing over it will eventually be true. Keep kicking that horse BFSMD.

    • If they had kept Liriano, this is what we’d be hearing:

      1. They need someone better than Liriano. They should try to get rid of his salary and get someone better.
      2. McGuire and Ramirez are busts and won’t reach the majors in any important role.

      I know this because those were the opinions of those players before the trade.

    • This article was right at you Dr. BF Stuckin. Of course, you ignore the facts regarding the prospects and the need to wait and see how the guys we picked up fare, namely Nova, Hudson and Hutchison.

    • I loved the Liriano trade at the time for the sole reason that the Bucs could stop paying #1 money to a guy putting up a 5.46 ERA and in most starts giving no chance for the Bucs to win. The fact that they had to give up McGuire and Ramirez for Hutchison to grease the skids to make the trade work was maybe risky, maybe not. That depends on how all three and Jhang’s careers play out. But in the aggregate combining the Liriano and the Nova trades with the expenditure of the “financial flexibility”, here is what the exchange consists of:
      Pirates gave up: Liriano (1 year), McGuire, Ramirez, Polo, Tarpley
      Pirates got: Nova (3 years), Hudson (2 years), Hutchison (3 or 4 years), part of the Freese extension (the other part a reallocation of Srod’s money)
      Frankly this looks like a win to me. Liriano’s final year was likely to be less than worthless, and the prospects future is uncertain (though McGuire might make it as a back up and Polo may break out). For these assets the Bucs received decent return. Good job by management.

    • You have to be the biggest loser on here. One of the main reasons I stopped even looking at the comments for months.

  11. I still feel they traded too much. If Liriano were a free agent today could he get something close to the 2/$26 left on his contract? Yes, he’d come close. And McGuire and Ramirez had value.

    The only credit I could possibly give is perhaps they had soured on the prospects and also knew their value was falling so they wanted to cash them in ASAP. Still, I feel it was too much.

      • McGuire was rated the best defensive catching prospect in baseball and MLB ready……go to Toronto’s current ratings and they say the same thing. By the way they have McGuire and Ramirez ranked just outside their top 10, and say they both could have been in the top 10.

  12. The thing that got me exercised about the deal was not Liriano or Hutchison. It was McGuire and to a much lesser extent Ramirez. The deal is going to look fine if McGuire goes on to be a career back-up with good defense or something less than that. But if he becomes a starting catcher with strong defense, including holding runners, throwing runners out, calling games and pitch framing, it looks like a loss, unless Hutchison becomes a strong #3. This site consistently pointed out that McGuire was young for his level, and that hasn’t changed. When trading prospects, you have to put in some level of projection, or no prospect is worth much. Is Tyler Glasnow worth nothing because he hasn’t pitched much in the majors? (Obviously not, and I’m not saying McGuire is worth Glasnow, only that trading prospects means projecting.) So, the jury is going to be out on this for a while.

    But…if McGuire turns out to be nothing, then the Huntington team still is on the hook for drafting him in the first round. If he’s not good, and not much of a loss, then it’s worthwhile to examine the scouting the got him here, and the training that caused his development to come to this point.

      • Well, the logic isn’t horrible. Either McGuire had real value, in which case those who are critical of the deal have a point; OR he had no value and it’s worth asking why he was drafted in the first round.

        • Sure it is….. Your logic is extremely flawed if those are the only 2 outcomes. You’ve created an either-or fallacy.

          • My point, if you read my original post, was that this deal won’t be able to be judged for a while yet, and that it’s not as simple as considering Hutchison and Liriano. The issue of McGuire won’t be able to be evaluated fully for some time. Then, if McGuire was not worthy of keeping, it’s still fair to ask whether problems occurred in scouting, or development, or some further possibility so we avoid a binary system. First round draft picks are not supposed to be made as organizational depth.

        • This is beyond silly – you can not know when you draft a player what his value will be at some point in the future – some get better – some do not. Some develop all their tools some do not….

          • If you mean that you cannot know whether someone will develop into Mike Trout, you’re right. If you mean that there is no way in which to judge the likelihood of a player developing into a significant major league talent, then I disagree with you. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be a draft, and we would be just as excited about the 15th round pick as the 1st. Sometimes, the problem is with the players. Sometimes, scouts miss.

        • You could make the same argument on Liriano. When the Pirates initially signed him prior to the 2013 season, the Pirates saw value in him. When the extended him after the 2014 season, they saw value. At some point during this past season (2016), they didn’t see value. So then the question is what was the tipping point that changed the Pirates opinion of how Liriano was performing and his value? Obviously, when the Pirates drafted McGuire they saw value in him but somewhere along the way their opinion changed.

            • There was a game Liriano pitched last season, I believe it was against Milwaukee on July 21, where he looked like his former self. He pitched into the 7th inning, gave up 4 hits, 3 runs (2 earned) while striking out a season high 13 and not walking any. I thought at that point that maybe he was turning the corner on his season and ten days later he was traded. The big thing I noticed with Liriano this past season is that in most of the games he pitched, he wasn’t able to get the strikeouts like he had in the past. In years past, he had a filthy slider that made many an opposing hitter chase for strike 3. After that July 21st game, he pitched again 5 days later against Seattle and laid an egg, only going 3.1 innings while giving up 7 runs (all earned) and only striking out 3. Was that the point where NH realized the ship was sinking fast with Liriano? Probably. But also looking at his season stats, he had a horrendous month beginning with his last start in late May up until early July. But what also bothers me is that at the time of the trade his W-L record was 6-11 but yet in 7 of those 11 losses, he only received 2 runs or fewer run support. There was also 3 games that the Pirates lost that were decided by one run, two of which he ended up taking the loss. That accounts for 9 of the 11 losses he had at the trade. Losing to the Cubs on May 13 had to have been disheartening, due to the fact the Pirates knew from Spring Training that the Cubs were the likely favorite to win the division (which they did) and ultimately the World Series. But then to follow that up with a loss against Atlanta, which I believe had one of the worst records in baseball at the time and were about to fire Fredi Gonzalez as their manager.

              http://www.espn.com/mlb/player/gamelog/_/id/6211/francisco-liriano

  13. I didn’t mind the trade, didn’t like it, but just didn’t mind it. What I didn’t like was drafting Reese in the 1st place. There was other options that I really liked way more then him. I just never seen the appeal. Slap hitter.

    • I do wonder if they’d maybe have gone a different route had they not been picking twice high in the first round that year due to the Appel non-signing, which they had just used to take a more conventionally projectable all-around hitter in Meadows.

      • I think they just loved Reese. After getting Meadows I was hoping for Shipley. With him not being at least 6′ 4″ I knew we weren’t taking him

  14. Did Mark Madden suggest this article? Talk about kicking a hornets nest… I LOVE IT!!

    Even if they’re C prospects fans will always torch trading ANY prospects to save money. At the end of the day NH traded Lirano, McG Polo and Ramirez for Hutch, Nova and Freese. I can live with that.

  15. It reminds me of the recent election: The sun was in my eyes, the Russians ate my homework and so on. I agree that it’s time to move on.

    • Yes, by all means, let us please move on. I am just beyond astounded over the ongoing lament on this and other sites about trading Liriano. I could understand it, and even agree with it, if the deal included two of our top tier prospects. But for an outfielder who realistically had no future in Pittsburgh, and a catcher who is projected to be all defense and very little-to-no offense, I think that shipping that head case (Liriano) out, along with his over inflated salary, was actually a very good trade.

  16. Tim, why do you have to provide fodder for those on this site that want to equate Frankie Liriano with the reincarnation of Walter Johnson in his prime? Liriano stunk to high heaven in 2016 and more problematic than that is that he was no longer coachable. That’s it. Neal H. addressed that problem in the best way that he could. EVERYONE PLEASE, GET OVER IT AND LET IT GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. Ok, one point not mentioned. Some have speculated
    (and its simply speculation) that the White Sox may
    be interested in Diaz in the Quintana deal. If the Pirates
    still had McGuire, Diaz could be expendable in the short
    run if the Pirates can go with Cervelli and Stewart
    in ’17, but NOT now.

    • Tell us about one of your Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories while you are at it. As Nutting is always accused of, he is a billionaire that chooses to follow a budget. I doubt very highly that the money saved on Liriano influenced his decisions of how he operates any other business. It appears that he does business with a plan to have growth and profit. He accounts for market conditions, economic trends and the unexpected, as he should. He doesn’t appear to be a Fantasy Baseball aficionado.

      • And as long as he continues to be a billionaire, and do business in ways you describe, we will have a better chance of keeping The Pirates in Pittsburgh. Yes, I would like to see another World Series Championship in Pittsburgh before I die, but, even with ups and downs, the team is competitive, and far better run than they were in the 1992-2007 period. The credit for that goes to the Nuttings’ business discipline and the management skill of the team he’s assembled to run The Pirates.

    • The truth I know is the Pirates under him are relevant. I could care less what he and other Owners do with their profits.

  18. I was in favor of trading Frankie for a bag of balls well before the trade happened. It really appeared that not only was he struggling but there were reported issues between Frankie and Ray. It appears the one thing that will get you a ticket out if the PBC is a bad attitude or not listening to the coaches (I think this is why Locke is finally gone as much as performance). I was unhappy with the trade when it happened because it appeared that we paid too much for the Jays to take him. It would be interesting to know the internal values the team had on Mcguire and Ramirez versus Hutch. It still looks to me like the value of McGuire and Ramirez exceeds the value of Hutch unless Ray can turn him into a solid 4/5. If they trade for Quintana and they “Rogers” Hutch then it may make the Frankie trade look worse. I would still like Quintana if they can pull it off without selling the farm.

    • Locke listened to the coaches to a fault. He underwent mechanical changes at the behest of Searage and Benedict twice in his time here.
      Locke wasn’t a good pitcher but his attitude was great.

      • My comment on Locke was more about the attitude that I saw in many of his post game interviews when his results were less than stellar. He came across as somewhat whiney in my opinion. He also seemed to deflect any resposibility for the poor results.

    • Edward: Was Ramirez or Polo for that matter ever going to climb above Marte, “Cutch, Polanco, Meadows, Osuna, and Barrett Barnes was in the midst of a smoking hot, break-out season. And, Adam Frazier. Same with McGuire – 3 to 5 years away?

      • I won’t either but it will add more fuel to the argument that the Frankie trade was a bad trade. Winning cures all ills too. If they win the ws it will shut down most of the complants.

        • How would that add fuel to that particular fire? They offloaded Liriano’s salary which allowed them to sign Nova and trade for Quintana, who is a better pitcher than Liriano and Hutch. I think it would add fuel to the fire of the camp that thinks it was a good trade.

  19. Well stated, Tim. If there is one thing I have learned through this – I’ll call it a process – is to trust NH. It seems that he has a plan and one move oftentimes sets up another. He’s not perfect but he does a great job with limited payroll.

  20. Bottom line is that you get one shot, one decision when you trade. It’s like a stock purchase. You may like, or get professional advice, on several stocks to buy. You make the decision and live with it. One ace up Neal Huntington’s sleeve is that he has Ray Searage to help with the decision after the fact. Matter of fact I’m sure Ray was one advisor who thought he could help Hutchison. That’s good enough for me. Move on.

  21. There will be a re-action to this evaluation Tim, so be prepared. Personally, I agree, especially after watching McGuire and Ramirez for some time in Altoona.

    • Leo: Did something happen during the year with McGuire? He was being replaced and did not seem to react in any way. With Cervelli and Elias Diaz he was still years away, but he just seemed to be very nonchalant about the whole thing. Did something happen between he and one of the Coaches?

      • Nothing I know of emjay like that.Cora was nothing but positive in the media about him. Nothing like the stuff I was hearing when Hanso and Carlos Garcia were here ! He was a really nice defensive player, but not any better than Diaz had been here, if as good. And he showed nothing offensively other than he was patient. No real pop at all.

        • Thank you. There was much concern that his bat was not ready for the jump to AA in 2016, and that is the way it played out. Sometimes a change of scenery works.

  22. Oh god, if the internet doesn’t explode due to the volume of comments this article creates, I’ll be shocked. It’s true Huntington has made some moves worthy of criticism, but I’ve always said that he makes more good moves than bad, and that he gets way too much criticism that is unfair. I like that you emphasized the current values of Ramirez and McGuire and I’m glad you pointed out that NH is doing exactly what he said he’d do by spending the salary they saved. Good, level-headed analysis of the trade without any emotional bias that may exist in the immediate aftermath of such a contentious move. It would be great if this temporarily silenced the cries of “They’re cheap!”, but I doubt it. I’m sure we’ll continue to hear the same puzzling demands for them to outspend their budget that we’ve been hearing all along. Now go get us some Quintana!

    • Nutting has this team locked into a $100m payroll budget, one of the lowest in the majors, and you want this trade to “silence the critics”??? A budget which no one understands it’s assumptions? Nutting deserves criticism until he further explains his financial management of the franchise.

      • Their budget is totally in line with their market size and revenues compared to other MLB teams. What about that needs further explaining?

        • Their payroll as a percentage of revenue ranks in the bottom 5.
          Without knowing the full budget, including operating expenses and net income, all this is noise depending on what camp you choose to join.
          I think it is a fair question to ask why payroll is capped if revenue continues to rise, and payroll as a percentage of ranks near the bottom.
          I challenge anyone to say that buying control of this franchise for $92M when it is currently valued at $925M+ has not been a blazing financial success for the Nuttings.

          • Again, Nutting doesn’t own the entire team – the value you set for the franchise isn’t his solely , as the team has multiple owners.

      • What proof do you have that it is Nutting setting payroll? What proof do you have that it is locked in at around $100 million? You make blanket assumptions with no facts to back them up.

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