Williams: What Direction Will the Pirates Go in at the Trade Deadline?

I’ve been asked by a few scouts in the last week what I think the Pirates will do at the trade deadline. Some of those questions were just in conversation about the team and their recent run. Others had the feel of teams trying to get any sort of idea of which way the Pirates might be leaning.

Right now, it’s difficult to get a read on the Pirates, especially after their sweep against the Brewers. That allowed them to climb back to .500, and sit within striking distance of first place in the NL Central. Even after going 2-3 on their current road trip, they’re one game below .500, and 3.5 games out of first place.

Part of this has to do with a weak division. They were 52-49 after 101 games last year, and 9.5 games out of first place. They were 59-42 in 2015, which was their strongest year and the strongest year for the division, but were 5.5 games out of first. They’re only really “contenders” this year because of a weaker NL Central. They’d be 7.5 games back in the NL East, and would have no shot at all in the NL West.

But that doesn’t change the fact that they are technically contenders, and have a shot to take the division in a weak year, even if this is also a weak year for them.

My best guess would be that the Pirates will take a similar approach to last year. They could trade away some smaller pieces, or some struggling players, while also adding to the team. Last year they traded Francisco Liriano and Mark Melancon, but ended up replacing those two at the deadline with Felipe Rivero and Ivan Nova.

I never thought Gerrit Cole would be traded, and I don’t think that will happen now. I thought there would be a chance of an Andrew McCutchen trade. However, the Pirates could get similar value for McCutchen this offseason if he continues hitting the way he’s been hitting lately. If they keep him, then they’re gambling that he maintains his trade value. However, the other side of that gamble is that he would be a huge boost to them if he continues hitting like this.

That would be the only area where I think it would make sense for the Pirates to gamble. I’d expect them to add in some way, and that’s not a bold statement. They’ve added at every deadline since 2011, with the exception of 2014. During that season, they pursued a few big names, but the players who were traded were dealt for young MLB players, while the Pirates were offering prospects. It’s probably a good thing that happened. Looking back at those trade rumors this morning, I saw a lot of mentions of Josh Bell, especially for rentals like Jon Lester.

I’d also expect the Pirates to add in the way they’ve done the last two years. They haven’t gone out to get the biggest names at the deadline. Instead, they used scouting and coaching to get some under-the-radar players. They added J.A. Happ in 2015, rather than going for a bigger name like David Price, then saw Happ pitch just as well as any other pitcher down the stretch. They did the same thing last year by adding Ivan Nova. The cost for both rentals was a combination of Tito Polo, Stephen Tarpley, and Adrian Sampson, which is a package that wouldn’t even get in the conversation for a rental like Price.

The Pirates have salary to spend, which could help them make a low-key addition. They saved about $5 M this year with Starling Marte’s suspension and Jung Ho Kang being on the restricted list. They also saved about $2 M when they released Jared Hughes. So there’s about $7 M in the budget that they expected to spend at the start of the year, and didn’t end up spending.

As for bigger name players, I don’t expect the Pirates to do anything that would require trading a big package of prospects, unless they were getting multiple years of control. They’ve been in talks for similar trades in the past, but haven’t pulled off a deal. Again, it’s probably a good thing they haven’t made such a trade, since a lot of the names in previous years have been guys like Josh Bell, Jameson Taillon, and others who are currently helping in the majors.

They are at a point now where there is depth throughout the system at certain positions, which would allow them to make a deal while still having prospects for the future. As a few examples, Jordy Mercer has one year of control remaining, but the Pirates have shortstop prospects Kevin Newman and Cole Tucker in the upper levels, along with projectable guys like Stephen Alemais and Adrian Valerio in the lower levels. They have no urgent need for a first baseman with Josh Bell performing the way he is, and have prospects like Will Craig doing well in the minors.

At the same time, the Pirates continue to show an ability to find pitching talent without having to pay big in dollars or prospects. The Happ and Nova trades were criticized at the time, but both worked out well. I’d make the Melancon for Rivero trade a hundred times over, and would even take five years of Rivero over five years of Melancon.

They do have some success stories on the hitting side, but a lot of what has worked for them have been situations where a quality hitter is available due to economical issues. David Freese and Matt Joyce were two of their best recent signings, and both fell to them due to a lack of offers. They need outfield help, have money to spend, and the economic issues could work in a different way. Big salaried outfielders like Melky Cabrera, Jay Bruce, and Curtis Granderson have been rumored to have little interest. There might be others out there who fit the same category of a high paid outfielder who is probably a #4 option right now, but who can still help.

I don’t know if the Pirates are looking at any of those players, but with the position they are in, it would make a lot of sense. They have the money to spend, and it would allow them to keep top prospects while still upgrading the team.

If I’m predicting what will happen with the Pirates, then the easiest prediction would be to say that they will be active at the deadline, and will probably make some addition to the team, whether it’s for this year only (rentals like Happ/Nova), or a move that might help a bit this year and more in the future (such as the Travis Snider trade a few years ago, or even the Rivero trade last year). But it’s difficult to guess what type of specific approach they will have, considering their recent run. I’d have to guess that they would go with a bit of buying and a bit of selling, rather than leaning specifically in one direction.

Columns

  • BucsStopHere
    July 29, 2017 10:10 am

    After Losing three straight to the Giant’s and Padres this team is unfortunately done. Id suggest trading Gerrit Cole to Houston for a couple of their top prospects. Watson for whatever they can get, Nicasio for a prospect, Freese for something to save cash. In the offseason I’d surprise everyone by trading (overrated) Starling Marte for a couple of top prospects and start next year with Meadows in left.

  • Go back to the Orioles and target Seth Smith and Brad Brach. One trade can patch two holes.

  • We need a solid outfielder to have any chance due to Polanco’s injury problems and the reality that we have no Marte if we reach the playoffs. No outfielder means no chance. Beyond that, a solid innings eater to replace Kuhl and a third baseman would be beneficial. Walker to play second and JHay back to third would be a good idea, but there is likely better options that can actually play defense…..

  • BucsStopHere
    July 27, 2017 10:54 am

    Trade Watson.

    • I think you’ll be surprised how little Watson will return.

      Dan Jennings has posted similar numbers, is paid less, with two seasons of control and just returned an “okay” prospect.

      • BucsStopHere
        July 29, 2017 10:02 am

        Watson’s gone at the end of the year, so somethings better than nothing and the Pirates aren’t going anywhere with respect to the playoffs. I’d trade Cole to Houston and pry a couple of top prospects away from them.

  • I was thinking about this some more last night in terms of next year. Assuming that we keep Cole and Cutch like Tim says:

    We will return the same team with the exceptions of Watson, Nicasio, Jaso, and Stewart.

    Diaz is an upgrade on Stewart.
    Brault, Santana, and Neverauskas could replace Watson and Nicasio but it feels like we need a back end guy.
    We will miss Jaso’s LH bat on the bench but maybe Luplow, Barnes, or Meadows could be that and a 4th OFer.

    So our biggest need seems to be 3B and general improvement almost everywhere.

  • it’ll have to depend on where they are in the standings on Monday, right?

    I’d imagine they’ll act drastically different if theyre 7 GB vs 4 GB vs 2 GB vs tied for the division.

    it’s almost pointless to talk about deadline strategy when we don’t even know what their playoff odds will look like on Monday.

    if they’re 7 GB, obviously they’re dealing Nicasio and Watson and every player with an expiring contract. might pick up a few struggling guys who they like.

    if they’re 2 GB, then they can get into the buying rental game and probably keep NIcasio.

    If they’re like 4 GB, then the buying-and-selling type approach from last year makes sense. this is where Sonny Gray might even make some sense. Keep hopes alive for this year while improving 2018 and 2019 team.

    At this point, we have no idea which situation they’ll be in and any fan yelling “Sell Sell Sell” or “buy buy buy” is just jumping the gun.

    • if they’re 5+ GB on Monday, then it makes sense to save that Kang/Marte/Hughes money till 2018. if they’re 4 or less GB? throw that at 2017.

  • They are two games below .500 and in 4th place. At this time last year they were 2 games above .500 and in 3rd place. They dumped salary last year. Based on history I assume they’ll dump salary again this year regardless of how much money they saved on Kang and Marte so far. They aren’t “contenders” by any stretch of the imagination, so being sellers makes sense.

    • What exactly is the correct definition of a contender, Thomas?

      From where I stand, a contender is any team with a reasonable shot at reaching the postseason. Because the postseason is about which team gets hot in October more than how successful they were during the regular season.

      Being 3.5 games back in division w 60 remaining is a contender for October baseball. Whether or not they meet your eye test is irrelevant to that fact.

      • 8.9% chance according to Fangraphs and slightly more than 7% according to BP. Of course, not having a bullpen after Rivero or competent right fielder this week probably saw those things take a little dive since the Brewers sweep.

        • Scott Kliesen
          July 27, 2017 1:43 pm

          Sounds like the “experts” odds Trump was given to beat Clinton last year about this time.

          Feel free to put your faith in forecasting models, but I have seen them fail way too many times to do so.

          • They just lost 3 in a row to the dregs of the NL. You still think they are “contenders?”

      • My definition of a contender is a team that is a reasonable chance of winning the World Series. The Pirates aren’t that. I agree they haven’t been mathematically eliminated with roughly 60 games to go. That’s true of virtually every team. If “being in the mix to win a bad division” meets your definition of “contender,” you’re kidding yourself in my opinion.

        My point was that The Pirates were sellers last year when they had a slightly better team than they do in this year. Why anyone would expect them to be buyers this year is beyond me. I think it is obvious that they will be sellers this year but, maybe their best move would be to stand pat and see how things shake out. We will certainly see what they do soon enough.

        • Scott Kliesen
          July 27, 2017 1:39 pm

          I believe you’re underselling the importance of winning division. Winning division means they play 5 game series vs Washington to get to NLCS. And a distinct possibility of missing Dodgers completely if CO or AZ beat them.

          On a more macro level, regular season results are meaningless to postseason success. Strong pitching and timely hitting determines WS championships, not what happened April – September.

          As for Pirates buy/sell this week and beyond, I expect very little of both. I think NH believes this team can compete next year as constructed, if not this year.

          • I think you are underselling the reality that many teams play baseball better than they do. The Pirates are 7th in the NL in ERA and 12th in runs scored. Teams in front of them – Cubs and St Louis – won’t be sitting pat. If they do nothing major at the deadline, which I am not advocating, they will be lucky to finish in third place.

            They are at best a mediocre team as constructed. They aren’t catching the Cubs or winning the division. I hope I am wrong but I think they’ll finish in 3rd with a losing record no matter what they do at the deadline. If they are lucky enough to sneak in, they lose Marte. So… how good are their chances exactly?

            But whatever. If you want to look at the world with rose colored glasses you’re entitled.

    • pierogieking
      July 27, 2017 9:37 am

      They dumped a bad player with a large salary last year. Good thing they did bc liriano sucks this year too. That’s a lot different then dumping salary just to dump salary. I know exactly who the pirates are so I have no interest in getting into a cheap owner debate, but I can’t remember this team just dumping salary for the sake of dumping salary when they’re contending.

      • They dumped more than one salary last year including Melanceon, Niece, and Liriano. Every trade they made last year resulted in them spending less money with the exception of the Nova trade. They lost more games then they won after the trade deadline too. Those are the facts.

        I don’t care if you like Nutting or not. It really doesn’t matter. My point was that they were sellers last year at the trade deadline despite having a slightly better team than this year’s team. I don’t think they’re willing to dump Cutch’s salary when they are technically “in it” but, given history it’s hard to say one way or another. I also think he may be a special case. I certainly don’t think they will add payroll. They have so far. Do you? We will see soon enough.

  • After losing again to SF it’s pointless to talk about adding players. This team won’t win the division this year or any time soon. They will try to move Watson and Nicasio for a couple Class A pitchers.

  • justinblain1996
    July 26, 2017 10:01 pm

    Last year’s approach makes the most sense, trade someone like Watson or Jaso, while maybe picking up an outfielder and some relief pitching.

  • taylor26554
    July 26, 2017 9:44 pm

    My guess if the Pirates trade for a hitter, McRae or Corley will be part of the deal. Really agree with the idea of getting Neil Walker back. A definitive boost to the club both offensively and emotionally.

  • This team isn’t going anywhere. Looking at the potential players available there isn’t enough out there to put them on the level of the Dodgers, Nats or Cubs. Our top three starters are good not great. With the possible exception of Gray there isn’t anyone out there better than our top 3. Williams has been decent. Kuhl has talent but can’t put it together. Our bullpen is below average. Our defense is below average. Our offense is below average. A healthy Polanco and a sober state side Kang would help a lot, but not this year. Best course of action is putting two of Kuhl, Glasnow, Willia, Brault and Hutchinson in the bullpen. Get rid of the journeymen AAAA guys. Use Frazier, Freese and Osuna as bench guys.

    One pitcher who I would trade for who could upgrade them now and for two more years is Matt Moore. He might not cost too much in prospects as he is having a bad year.

    • honest question. what makes you think Matt Moore isn’t broken?

    • also, if we’re going to keep kicking the can until there are no Dodgers, Nats, or Cubs, etc. superteams, then they’ll never buy.

      if you have a reasonable shot at making the postseason, you need to try. even the dodgers only win 70 pct of their games. anybody can be beat in a short series.

  • I would love to add Donaldson but the Blue jays will make every attempt to resign him. Looking at the cost to sign him, if he is in the 16 to 18 million per, that is in the Cutch number and the Pirates have very few contracts after 2018. Do you give up Glasnow if you can sign him?

  • I had forgotten that Marte is suspended for the playoffs. So either they need to sell or trade for his rental replacement. Melky Cabrera would be a good candidate.

  • joebaseball
    July 26, 2017 8:31 pm

    What would the cost be to re-up Cutch? Is it feasible, since he seems to want to stay in the burgh.

    • Total wild guess with no research. 4 yrs $80M? Not sure other teams would pay him like a superstar anymore.

  • Will Meadows or Luplow be up in September? This team needs another hitter.

    Let’s be realistic in order to be in the race they have to find 35 to 40 wins somewhere. I don’t see the current 4th or 5th starters being able to pile up the innings to compete. Time to audition the AAA starters again.

    Harrison has to play third and we have to find out if Frazier can figure out second.

  • I cracked up about being thankful we didn’t make a big move in 2014. Yes, heaven forbid we would have picked up someone like Jon Lester or David Price who put up about 1.5 WAR pitching 80 dominant innings down the stretch instead of giving those innings to Jeff Locke with a 4.6 FIP and one of worst pitches in league post deadline. I mean geez, we very likely win the division and have a rotation lined up of Lester/Cole/Liriano/Volquez. Remember that Cole and Liriano were dominating down the stretch in 2014.

    Instead we still have those prospect(s). Josh Bell is a fine player but not even on pace for 2 WAR. And look how bright the future looks. We very well may have seen peak Cole already and he’s probably here for another year or year and a half at best. What is Josh Bell going to be surrounded with in another 2 years?

    • Lester worked wonders for the A’s future

    • You do realize the Rays where going to take the deal the Pirates offered for Price but Price didn’t want to come to the Pirates.

      • Price didn’t have a choice. He didn’t have a no trade clause, that I recall. Where did you hear that from?

      • That’s incorrect. The rays wanted MLB ready players, not prospects. Regardless,it really doesn’t address my point. It’s not as if this team has a bright future because they hung onto josh bell.

  • Sell, sell, sell

  • In other words nervous Neal Won’t commit to buying or selling but will perpetuate this middling team and its pseudo contention for a few more years.

    • What would you suggest he does?
      1. Over commit and sell off young prospects to win the division – assuming he can out maneuver the Cubs and win the division, we would face either the Nationals or Dodgers in the Divisional round and probably the other team in the NL Championship Game
      2. Give give up on a team that is only another hot streak away from a division title

      • As I told Tim a year ago, the window is CLOSING. So you have 2 choices. You can load up on some controllable assets and/or rentals. Spend some prospect currency and try to acquire a Sonny Gray, maybe even a Josh Donaldson, another very good reliever and make a run between now and the end of 2018 while you have Cutch. Maybe you luck into a WC or division this year or next year.

        Or you can sell assets now and try to reload for sometime near 2020.

        But I tell you what you CAN’T do- that would be exactly what Tim suggest they will do. If NH does his wily, nilly, add some, subtract some and thinks they are going to meaningful contenders with a perpetual window he is simply deluding himself. Take a real hard look at what this team will look like in 2019. NH is simply not good enough to build a 90-94 true talent team without a MVP player like Cutch along some very high draft picks. If people think this team can be contenders year in year out with NH competing with other GM’s around the league. Well, let’s just say you are in for a very rude awakening.

        • The same guy that did build a contender… can’t build a contender? Teams do win WS without an MVP in the field (Giants)… and teams lose throughout the season with MVP in the field (angels/ Diamondbacks). I’m unsure why you feel it’s impossible to content year after year.seeing as how we are doing it. Cutch is a huge piece- I get it. But it’s not necessary to have his peak talent to compete year in and year out. There are only a few guys like him. It’s easy to bag say that he can’t build a team without cutch and high picks… let’s see what happens before “guaranteeing” he’s not good enough to adapt. I like the way this team looks in 2019.

          • What do you like about 2019?

            • Cole, Taillon, Bell, Rivero, Marte, Polanco, and Glasnow just for starters.

              Likely Meadows, Keller, and/or Newman will be key contributors, too.

              Does that answer your question? Or are you just an irrational hater at heart?

              • I know, the future always looks bright. Do you remember this comment:?
                ” If this next wave of prospects performs anywhere close to expected, then the Pirates could get two starters who would be number one or number two guys, along with their starting first baseman, second baseman, and strong defensive catcher. That would be enough to keep the Pirates competing for much longer than the three year stretch coming into the 2016 season.”

                That was Tim talking about the “next wave” in the 2016 Prospect handbook. The next wave being Glasnow, Taillon, Hanson, Bell, and Diaz. So how does that look a year and a half later with the benefit of more time.??

                In aggregate those 5 players are worth 2.2 FWAR in 2017- that’s about a good 2 months of work for peak Cutch. Taillon leads the way at 1.8 FWAR, Bell is at .9, Hanson is out of the system and well below replacement on the year, Glasnow below replacement. And while Diaz had some success in a small sample he is sitting in Triple A with a WRC+ around 70.

                Obviously we all wanted these guys to do well. The reality is we should probably expect about the same sort of sucess rate from the next , next wave. Meaning you will have some good players with some pretty big disappointments. When you put it all together at best it looks like a middling team to me,

                Keep in mind Marte is at peak of his aging curve. We probably only have Cole for another 1-1.5 years so for the rotation to just stay the same you need Keller or Glasnow to pick up Cole’s production…

                • Scott Kliesen
                  July 27, 2017 9:59 am

                  John, you think you’re a realist, but in reality you’re a glass half empty and losing water fast type thinker.

                  Just b/c prospects don’t meet your expectations in the time frame you desire doesn’t mean the next wave of prospects won’t, or the current wave won’t improve with experience. But somehow that doesn’t stop you from spouting out Pirates should dump whomever they can to get more prospects in hopes of competing in 3 years!

                  Surely a man of your obvious intellect can see the hypocrisy of these statements, John.

                  • You completely fail to miss the relevance of the quote from Tim. The essential point is I hope everyone, including Tim has learned about the problem with this quote “If this next wave performs anywhere close to expected” One should never assume 5 prospects (even if they are all top 10 prospects) should all turn into average regulars let alone all average starters with a couple stars mixed in. That completely defies the actually success ratio of even the best prospects. But people continue to think the same way about the next, next wave which isn’t even as good on paper as the 2015-16 “next wave”

                  • Commit to a strategy Scott. Either add one while Cutch and Cole are here together for another 1.5 years or try to reload for a run in 2019-20. But if NH straddles we likely get more of the same. A true talent team between 78-82 wins. You seem to like that sort of team and that’s fine. It’s all a matter of personal preference.

                    • Scott Kliesen
                      July 27, 2017 1:53 pm

                      He does have a strategy. It’s called “dancing with who brung ya!”

                      He trusts his scouting and coaching staffs to draft and develop talent in house to build a competitive team year in and year out. Next trade away those who have value shortly before losing them to FA to supplement system. And lastly, trade for and sign undervalued MLB talent and attempt to coach them up.

                      For a small market team with limited resources compared to their main competitors (Cubs/Cards)this is a wise business model.

        • Tim actually suggested that they do something similar to last year.

          That was basically unload Liriano (and his 5+ era) and then trade McGuire, Ramirez, Tarpley, Polo, and Melancon (and his two remaining months) for … $16 million, Rivero (and his five years), Nova, and Hearn.

          We don’t really have a similar scenario for salary but we could unload Jaso for a young and better 4th OF or Watson for a younger better 7th inning guy. Then maybe trade some minor prospects for a starting 3B that we could resign.

          That gives us a playoff chance. It allows us to sell Cutch in the offseason assuming he has value. The problem with what you are suggesting is that we don’t have a team to blow up like the White Sox where we’ll get three top notch prospects for two to three different players.

        • “As I told Tim a year ago, the window is CLOSING.”

          Well then it must be true if you said it. I guess me disagreeing with you, all based on the extremely young roster the Pirates will have together for several more years, is totally invalid.

          • It’s The irrational Pittsburgh fans, Tim. We have the steelers (model sports franchise of the US) and the penguins (win cups every year) and people start to get fed up with the one team in the area that can figure it out. I like our team and would make some changes, but these people saying blow it up are morons.

            I’m not a NH or Nutting apologist, but you can’t hate on them without looking at the competitive imbalance in MLB where high money clubs can out bid and do whatever they want to win. We have to have luck on our side.

      • The other factor about the playoffs – should they have a major hot streak – is that Marte is not eligible to play. Chance of winning a series without Marte is not very high.

    • Call me crazy, but watching my favorite team play meaningful baseball games late in the season is more enjoyable than watching them suffer through 100 loss years. Which is exactly what will happen if they take the course you suggest.

      • Oh so you were one of the twelve people at PNC Park last August and September. So meaningful!

        #blessed #NH

        • In a sense we should consider ourselves lucky. If NH was as reckless as Dayton Moore we could be watching a team on pace for 100 losses this year… oh wait.

          • Scott Kliesen
            July 27, 2017 10:22 am

            What the hell are you talking about? Royals stuck with their prospects even after they didn’t light MLB on fire right away and let them improve with experience.

            And for the record, from 2012 a 2016, Pirates won 14 more games than the Royals during the regular season. And before you suggest the Royals spent more money which brought about postseason success, tell me why Royals also had more postseason success than Dodgers, who spent a whole hell of a lot more than Royals?

            • Royals weren’t afraid to supplement their young talent by spending prospect currency. See Zobrist and Cueto etc. See them adding on at the deadline this year. Regardless how you view those additions the point is I was told “well they are going to be in big trouble while the Pirates are poised for great success because we didn’t make any reckless trades”.

        • Scott Kliesen
          July 27, 2017 9:45 am

          I think you’re getting 2016 confused with 2006.

        • The funniest thing to me is how the Huntington disciples are convinced if he strays from his uber risk averse course we are doomed to go back to the Littlefield days of 100 loss seasons and decade long losing streaks. My goodness…

          For the record I don’t “hate” NH. I think he is an average to slightly above average GM relative to the other GMs across baseball in 2017. Sadly, that isn’t close to good enough given the Pirates needs.

          • They’ll never admit it, but from the start the Huntington uber-alles have been prone to equal and opposite exaggeration. “Hot takes” only go one direction in their minds, though.

            Just one time I want to see them have the awareness to admit there’s not one proven way to build a competitive team. That having the audacity to look at the current state of Major League Baseball and understand it’s set up for cyclical success, not some mythical never-ending window, is perfectly reasonable . That vast parity across the league means a team has to truly be *good* in order to separate themselves, lest be stuck in the milky realm of pseudo-contention with half a dozen other teams.

            Just one time.

            • Scott Kliesen
              July 27, 2017 10:26 am

              Here’s a hot take for you NMR, I support a GM who has a proven track record of success when he chooses to support his scouting and coaching staff in the drafting of development of young players, while working within the confines of an operating budget.

              • I thought we were talking about being fans of the *team*?

                • Haha. I suspect Scott and many others are almost as much a fan of NH of the PIttsburgh Pirates. And that’s fine. I love the Pittsburgh PIrates- but from my perspective that leads me to be less than enamored with NH.

                  • It’s understandable, honestly. Back in the bad old days, you didn’t have a *choice* but to hope for Huntington to succeed if you wanted the Pirates to eventually succeed. You *had* to care about what Huntington was doing more than what the actual team was doing, because the actual team was hopelessly bad. It seems like some have never been able to break themselves of that mentality despite the organization overall being in a much better place. Like it’ll all come crashing down into 100-loss seasons for five years if another path is taken. They haven’t been able to accept that Huntington is in unchartered territory, post-peak on the win cycle, and hasn’t come close to proving his direction for the organization is correct.

                    They take that out on fans who have the audacity to suggest there could be another way forward simply because it’s not the way Huntington professes. It’s really a reflection of their own lack of confidence in the plan, IMO. Attack the person, not the idea. The literal definition of the ad hominem fallacy.

                    • Fantastic point. We are in a much different place as far as being post peak in the win cycle and that is unchartered territory. I think NH deserves a lot of credit for the 2012-15 resurgence. But at the same time, this does not lead me to simply assume he has the right recipe to get this current version of the Pirates where they need to be. If anything, his moves since the end of 2015 have made me increasingly skeptical and I fear he refuses to accept the reality of the MLB cycle which could put this team in middling purgatory for many years.

                    • You don’t seem to recognize how ephemeral MLB success is. Look at the Cubs. World champs one year, mired in mediocrity the next, with essentially the same players. Did the Cubs GM loose his mind last winter? Obviously it’s his fault that the Cubs are a .500 team this year, right?

            • It will never happen with Huntington disciples. And tell me this, given the fact that it looks likely Kang never plays for the Pirates again is it really a hot take to suggest this current course of action by NH looks like a middling team for the foreseeable future?? But that viewpoint is a HOT TAKE. But people who are generally assuming 70 to 80th percentile outcomes for the next next wave are the sane, sober ones.

              • Somehow suggesting they utilize limited resources by choosing one direct, focused strategy has become a radical idea unworthy of fandom.

                ^This makes sense to people.

                • I don’t know if you saw but look at Tim’s quote in the 2016 handbook. I haven’t given up on Glasnow. But my point is this: have the Pirates ever had a more heralded grouping of prospects than they did with those guys? If so that group was very near the top. And Tim is talking like all 5 of those guys being at worst average starters and quite possibly a few stars mixed is a 50th percentile projection”if they perform anywhere close to expected”

                  This type of thinking continues to persist. People are way too sanguine about prospects meeting 70-90th percentile projections.

                  Maybe I’m not conveying my point. Going back to preseason 2016 let’s assume hypothetically that the way things have looked so far is how they actually do turn out long term:

                  Taillon #2 starter
                  Glasnow bust
                  Bell- average to slightly above average starter
                  Hanson bust
                  Diaz- maybe long term backup

                  That really isn’t that bad of a turnout. In aggregate that is what you probably should expect of prospects of that quality on paper. But people basically think almost all of these guys will work out.

                • No way you suggest that this year is the year to go “all in”. You are way to smart for that.

            • Nicely said.

  • Bill Harvey
    July 26, 2017 7:00 pm

    IMO, they should sell. The goal should be to build a championship caliber team, not try to win the division. Winning the division should be a step in that process. Personally, I don’t feel like the Pirates have the pitching to win a 5 game series or a 7 game series.

    We’re it up to me, I would do a White Sox type rebuild. Trade everyone not nailed down, load up the farm sysyem. The only problem with my theory is that it takes more than one team to make a trade.

    • It’s not a horrible idea but will never happen with NH. He simply does not have the guts or fortitude for such a move. He also doesn’t have the guts to make a bet by adding to this team in a big way while Cutch is still here. He will do his add/subtract thing and tell you he tried to make this team better but the important thing is having a strong baseball team in 2018, 19, 20 etc.

      Of course those teams won’t be very strong but of the middling 78-82 true talent variety but that is besides the point.

      • It’s not about guts or fortitude, John, it’s about brains. And thankfully, his brain doesn’t work like you and Bill’s.

        Taking the course you two suggest guarantees only one thing, years of losing with 100% turnover in management of organization.

        There is certainly no guarantee the team will be better off for it.

        My suggestion is for you and Bill to trade in your Pirates fear for White Sox swag.

    • A White Sox type rebuild… they are blowing up their whole team. The majority of our team are pieces of the puzzle. Couldn’t be more far off

      • Bill Harvey
        July 27, 2017 7:21 am

        Selling off our entire team, outside of Bell and Taillon is pretty much what I am suggesting. Outside of those 2, who do the Pirates have that they can build a team around? The Pirates have 10 complementary pieces on their roster, but no difference makers. It’s time to give up on the current endeavor and do an actual rebuild.

    • Cutch and Cole would be the first to go. If Tim is right and their value won’t change in the off season why trade them now? Might as well ride this out and see what happens.

    • as currentlyconstituted, they’re not as good as the Cubs or Cardinals and with significantly less money. Sell Cutch, Cole and Harrison for large bounties each. Trade Watson, Freese and Jaso. Depending on the return like 2-3X what the Yankees got for Chapman, I’d move Rivero. 4-5 years of a lights out closer on a below average team is worthless. Quick rebuild with high level MLB ready talent to add to Marté, Polanco, Bell, Taillon, Glasnow, Keller, Meadows etc. etc.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    July 26, 2017 6:49 pm

    Cubs are hot and buying…Pirates lose 5 of 6 to one of the worst teams in baseball….don’t sell the farm Neal…

  • Does it really matter when you go 1-5 versus one of the worst teams in baseball in the last month? Absolutely pathetic – build toward next year…

    • Overreaction to a SSS.

      • Should I start to list the other awful teams and the Pirates’ record against them as well?

        • Scott Kliesen
          July 27, 2017 10:16 pm

          Only if you list their records against the totally awesome teams, too. I suggest you start with the World Champs.

          • Any half-decent coach can get his team “up” for games against the top competition, but 5-16 against the Giants, Reds, Mets , and Orioles is inexcusable. Their record against the better teams makes the losses to awful teams even worse.

  • I predict that there will be a lot of hot takes on this topic.

  • I’ve looked at all the possible SS options seeking an upgrade to Mercer. There is nothing out there that is an upgrade that might be available.

    • Upgrade Mercer? Dude has been one of our better players this year. He’s solid on defense and has somewhat pop on offense. Look at 3B or outfield now that polanco is hurt.

    • The Pirates currently have, and have over the past several years, had several areas of need. Anyone who thinks that the short stop position is one of those area of need is in serious need of a reality check. SHORTSTOP IN NOT EVEN ON THE MAP IN TERMS OF AN AREA THAT THE BUCS NEED IMPROVEMENT ON.

  • NEIL WALKER. Everyone else is mediocre and the pirates have plenty of that unless there’s some crazy trade for Josh Donaldson. Otherwise stick to the position roster add two solid relievers.

    • Walker comes in to play 2nd, Harrison moves to 3rd, and all of a sudden the world is back on its axis.

      • Well one thing that is hard to measure is the emotional impact of trading someone like Neil Walker. What’s our record since then? I would also say that when McCutchen is gone there will be at least one year where the record will drop.

        • Then there’s all your key starters packing it in last year and your best hitter and defender sidelining themselves this year. Tack on MLB is much better in last 2yrs (kc won in the trough)

        • You mean further than it’s already dropped with him?

        • um…..no. the record drops because you traded your best player.

      • Walker has about 8 million left on his contract. Is that expenditure worth it? What about the prospects that they would need to give up. Reality, this team has no chance of winning the division. I understand you want to bring back the hometown hero but it makes little sense to me.

        • It’s a rental for someone on the DL it will not cost a top 5 or glasnow it’s more like 6m past half way. Other IF options offer little more than Freese. Maybe Kendrick gives me a little hope and I think he can play OF. Good relievers otherwise. The problems today and first month of season point to missing a gear on offense it’s taken multiple guys being hot at the same time to match last years offense with Kang.

        • It makes more sense to me to try to sign him to a 2-3 year deal in the off-season instead of trade for him. With his injury history there’s no way hes going to command the 17 mil a year he got on the qualifying offer.

          • I say it isn’t crazy to do both if they try to resign and fail so be it

        • The Mets would have to pick up some of the salary, which they have a history of doing.

          • Tim did spend a good bit of the article talking about how the pirates could absorb a lot of salary right now. If it means that no real prospect goes the other way, i say take on all of Neil’s salary.

            although, they might be better off using that extra money to have a $110 million payroll next year instead of using it all up on this year.

        • With all due respect, this team having no shot to win division is your PERCEIVED REALITY.

          • With all due respect, this team having a shot to win the division is your PERCEIVED REALITY.

            • Scott Kliesen
              July 28, 2017 9:44 pm

              You’re right, no team has ever come back from a 4 game deficit w 60 games left in the season.

              FFS!!!

        • to be fair, they objectively have something like a 7.3 % chance at winning the division.

          • That may be, and God only knows how those stats. are arrived at. But for whatever low chance the Pirates supposedly have for getting to the post season this year, it is mainly due to the absence of Marte and Kang from the lineup. They have hung in there, albeit in a poor, underperforming Central Division, and now that Marte is back, Neal Huntington needs to make whatever move(s) necessary to give this club its best shot at getting to the post season. This is not the year to wait until 3:59 p.m. on July 31st, and then go and get some Ryan Ludwick type player.
            Coming out of the Colorado series, the next 19 games are against bottom feeders. They have started the first three of those games with two losses, and now five losses in six games against the Giants. THAT IS COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE FOR A TEAM THAT HAS A LEGITIMATE SHOT AT OCTOBER BASEBALL. THIS TEAM DESPERATELY NEEDS ANOTHER BAT, AND AT LEAST ANOTHER ARM. OTHER TEAMS HAVE MADE DEALS IN PREPARATION FOR THE STRETCH RUN. NEAL HUNTINGTON NEEDS TO DO THE SAME, AND NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I AM TIRED OF HEARING ABOUT ACQUISTION COST AND ALL OF THE G.M. JARGON. THIS TEAM IS IN CONTENTION. THE PIRATES FRONT OFFICE OWES IT TO THE TEAM, THE FANS, THE TAX PAYERS OF WESTERN PA THAT LARGELY HELPED FINANCE PNC PARK, TO PUT A WINNER ON THE FIELD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GET IT DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • how much do you really think its going to cost to get walker……a mid thirties overpaid defensive liability……get real. this isn’t costing us two of our top ten prospects here people

  • Does Tyler Glasnow still considered an elite prospect? Does still have high trade value?

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