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Williams: The Pirates Need to Get Out of No Man’s Land

Pirates management at last week's Q&A session at PiratesFest. Photo Credit: David Hague
Williams: The Pirates Need to Get Out of No Man’s Land

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I don’t know how many times I’ve typed “No Man’s Land” on the site in the last six months. I just know that it’s beginning to sound like a catch phrase.

The Pirates entered the trade deadline this year in a place that I’ve referred to as No Man’s Land. They were on the outer edge of being contenders, but not strong enough to go all-in for the 2017 season. They had some players to trade away and rebuild for the future, but they weren’t far enough out to justify a total blowup. So they played the middle. They traded Tony Watson for Oneil Cruz and Angel German. But then they traded for Joaquin Benoit to take Watson’s place.

Trading Watson makes sense. They probably weren’t going to contend, and they got a high upside infield prospect in the lower levels in return. Adding Benoit didn’t make sense. It didn’t cost much, but it still made you wonder why they were wasting a roster spot, rather than giving additional time to one of their young relievers.

In the following week, they added Sean Rodriguez and George Kontos in more smaller deals. Kontos came for free, while Rodriguez was added for Connor Joe. Both moves were more aimed for the 2018 season, with Rodriguez under contract through the 2018 season, and Kontos under team control through 2019.

So now we enter an offseason where it hasn’t been clear what direction the Pirates are headed in, and those moves at the deadline didn’t make it easier to figure things out. If they’re planning on selling for the 2018 season, then why add Rodriguez and Kontos? Those are moves that should be precursors to bigger moves allowing you to contend. Granted, the Pirates could try to get the best performance out of each player, then flip them in 2018 for a bigger return than what they got them for in the first place. But it doesn’t seem like that is their main priority. That’s a strategy the Oakland A’s and other teams have employed in the past, but when the Pirates add players, it’s aimed at helping the team, rather than future trade value.

Neal Huntington’s public comments don’t exactly clear up the confusion of where the team is headed.

Huntington also expanded on that topic, saying that they are comfortable going in either direction, but did have this notable quote, via Adam Berry:

“We’re not looking at ‘all-in’ or ‘all-out’ because we believe this is a good group to build around.”

Before I get into that, I’m going to start with a disclaimer. I generally don’t put much weight into public comments like this. Actions speak louder. All we’ve heard so far are rumors where other teams are asking about the Pirates’ bigger names, such as Gerrit Cole, Andrew McCutchen, and Josh Harrison. We haven’t heard rumors suggesting the Pirates will be buyers. The market indications are that the Pirates have a better opportunity to sell.

We also haven’t heard from the Pirates what direction they’re headed in, and all of the selling rumors come with the point that the Pirates aren’t actually shopping players, but just listening to offers.

I don’t buy that Huntington is undecided on their direction. I think he knows the direction the team is headed in. I just don’t think we know that direction, because there’s no incentive for him to make it public. He is asked questions, and he has to give an answer, which can be tricky if you don’t want the honest truth out there about the offseason plans. We’ll find out eventually what their plan is, but we’re going to find out from actions, rather than getting an early preview from words.

With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s break down that quote. I believe the second part is true, no matter what direction we’re talking about here. This is a good group to build around, whether the Pirates are buyers or sellers.

If they try to contend, this is a group that I calculated at 85 wins, based on the depth charts and ZiPS WAR. You can add to that group and try to contend.

If they decide to sell, they still have a lot of long-term pieces in place to contend in the future, and maybe as early as 2019. You can trade a lot of players and still have core people like Jameson Taillon, Josh Bell, Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco, plus top prospects like Mitch Keller, Kevin Newman, Cole Tucker, Austin Meadows, and Ke’Bryan Hayes in the mix for the future.

I believe this team could try and contend in 2018 as buyers this offseason, or they could contend in future years, even if they sold. But now let’s go back to that first part of the quote.

“We’re not looking at ‘all-in’ or ‘all-out'”

Again, public comments disclaimer applies, but if this is something the Pirates believe, then they’re not trying to contend in MLB in 2018 and beyond. They’re trying to contend in MLB circa 2013-2015 and before.

This is an “all-in” league now. You have teams like the White Sox blowing it all up, going hardcore on a total rebuild, and caring nothing about the MLB results until that rebuild is finished. They pair that with spending when it’s time to compete. We haven’t seen the end results for the White Sox, but this same approach led to the last two World Series winners.

You’ve also got mega-spenders playing with small market strategies. The Cubs and Astros benefited from this, with their high local revenues leading to the ability to boost their team in a big way when it counts. The White Sox will be able to do the same thing. Then you’ve got the Dodgers and Yankees with similar strategies. That makes it even more difficult on small market teams like the Pirates when they want to contend.

If the Pirates want to contend in 2018, they need to go all-in. That’s just because this team isn’t a small addition or two away from being a strong contender. In order to be a strong contender, and in order to justify keeping McCutchen and Cole, they’re going to have to trade a lot of valued prospects and spend a lot of money to make it work. They could try to edge their way into a Wild Card spot, which would technically be contending. It would also be the same strategy they’ve had the last two years, which didn’t work out well.

If they want to rebuild, then I don’t know if there’s a definition of “all-out”, but there are players they’d have to move. If they move Cole, then McCutchen, Harrison, Francisco Cervelli, and others who are under control through 2018 and 2019 should be on the move as well. There’s no use keeping any of those options if you’re not going to be contending. If you’re not worried about contending in a certain year, then you don’t need to worry about how many wins you’ll have in that year. Anything below the amount needed to make the playoffs is irrelevant, and not worth paying for or keeping players around for.

We’ll find out soon enough what direction the Pirates are actually headed in. But we already know what direction MLB is headed in. It’s now an all-in or all-out league, and any team playing the middle is in serious danger of being stuck in No Man’s Land.

  • On thing I’d point out is that everything isn’t equal. The Pirates are in a very tight largely self-imposed budget. They will not go for big free agents. So when we talk about them blowing it up, the risk is higher than say, the Cubs doing it. They Pirates need prospects to work out at a higher rate and if we are dumping Cutch, Cole etc. they need to win those trades big time. But…I don’t see it. Huntington has a mixed record with trades, and I just can’t imagine a rebuild working well. In fact, it is likely to lower attendance and spiral us into less spending again like the late 1990s.

    • Tyler S

      If they traded Garret Cole for Clint Frazier. Do you think the they could flip Meadows for Chris Arthur or Micheal Fulmer?

      • I’d consider this if we got more than just Frazier. Cole is worth a lot. Maybe Chance Adams?

      • I am worried about Frazier’s low batting average. Only hit .256 in AAA last year. Hasn’t shown insane power to justify him as a top prospect I’d say

    • Everyone’s budget is self-imposed.

      • No, usually they are externally imposed by lack of funds. In this case, the owners are not limited by internal supplies of cash at all. It is totally clear that they could spend more without having any significant burden to themselves.

    • EWS34

      I agree with your assessment of GM NH. See handling of Bay, Walker and Cutch last year. Probably held onto Pedro too long.

  • Smokinjoe

    If they truly do not know which way to go for 2018, that’s an extremely sad statement. I saw the 4 year extension to both NH and CH as the early signal of a rebuild, and for myself if they do not try to maximize the return for Cole as a waste as they missed the opportunity last year to try and maximize the return for Cutch. For me it should be ALL in now to sell and play for 2019-2020.

    • piraddict

      NH is “letting the game come to him” right now to see which path creates the most excess value. Once he determines that we’ll see how good job he does executing that strategy.

  • opieterp

    This is not popular but I would blow this team up. Accept the reality that you are living in an budget basement owner’s world and must be competitive with a lower payroll. Dump Cole for Frazier and Sheffield or Adams. Call the Giants and offer them Cutch for Panik and a B prospect. Move Harrison to third and Freese, Osuna, A Frazier and SRod to the bench. We are not beating the Cards or Cubs or even the Brewers with Cole and Cutch on this team in 2018. That is just our division and we haven’t mentioned the Nats or Dodgers. Add some veteran FAs to the bullpen like Hughes and add one 4 or 5 SP via FA. Build with controllable, low cost, arbitration players who can grow into potentially solid MLB players along with a core of Marte, Polanco, Rivero, Bell, C Frazier, healthy Meadows, Taillon and eventually Keller. Bank on three years in the future to catch lightning in a bottle.

    • A voice of reason. Play for 2020 and blow this thing up. No other way. Nutting’s not going to spend and we can’t get there now so retool. It may work. It may not, but it’s the only way we’ll see another 3 year window anytime soon. We’re 4th in a 5 team division…maybe 5th.

    • Tom M

      I agree with both you and Bill. I may have my own ideas about how to use current assets to rebuild, but I agree wholeheartedly with what you’ve touched on. The Pirates have always backed away from making the bold move… signing the higher level free agent or trading for the marquee guy who can help you get there (Verlander?). I would argue that small market teams have to be even bolder than the big money guys. The Pirates approach is to always field a team that has an outside chance if all the stars align, but mostly be just interesting enough to sell tickets and make profit for the owner. I lay this at Nuttings feet. He’s an almost committed owner with an almost good enough team. Oh, yeah. The Phils signed Carlos Santana today. Agree with that or not, but it’s not “no man’s land” as Tim says.

      • NorCal Buc

        Phils spend $60,000,000 to get far less than Josh Bell offers

  • tmcgowan

    But we forget that randomness happens – and why I’m ok with not being ‘all in’ either way. For example, the Brewers come out of nowhere to compete for the playoffs and reinvigorate that fanbase. Guys can explode from nowhere like Tommy Pham and put up a 5 WAR season unexpectedly. However BANKING on those breakouts is not good business. But if you think you have an 82 win team, I don’t mind not blowing up if you feel you have a reasonable core and ability to compete, its just when you get into “analysis paralysis” I begin to take issue.

    Example – if you want to maintain the ability to be opportunistic, that is fine. But to not be in for Zack Cozart for 3 year $39m is a great gamble to fill out our left side of the infield, but we choose not to do anything about it.

    Also – if you feel like you have reasonable replacement pitchers and can expect only a 1 win drop from Cole to your next pitcher, if you can load up on top end talent I’m ok trading there too. In the end, we just need to be able to get behind the team that its moving in a direction, and not just caught up in the stream to take us wherever the baseball powers that be allow us.

  • jedeweese

    Completely agree…we need a 2009 trading deadline clearance trade of anyone with a close-to-expiring-contract.

    • Wolfharp

      Yes, and you’ll get Andy LaRoche and Xavier Nady. You will also get @ 1.4 million people going through the turnstiles in 2018. The Pirates cannot afford either “all in” or “all out”. While patience and moderation are out of fashion all of the Pirates’ championships came as relative underdogs (excepting, perhaps,1925)

      • piraddict

        Exactly!

  • tonyframpton

    I don’t think the Pirates can afford to go “all-in” … they don’t have free agent dollars to spend for the impact guys, and if they gut the farm to trade for impact players, it’d better work or we’re screwed for several years again. I think the plan Neal has is to hope to be blown away with a “can’t refuse” type offer for Cole or Cutch. Otherwise, he’ll hold his chips until next summer. The goal of the new front office has been pretty straight forward, they want to contend consistently. That means shooting for around 90 wins and a wild card, trading close to FA guys for prospects, and praying the prospects pan out. Without a salary cap, that’s all they can hope for. All that said, I think trading Cole this winter for SS/3B/C that can hit makes a ton of sense. They desperately need offense. A good offense (and bullpen) can offset a “roll the dice” rotation, and we do have depth. Contending without Cole won’t be easy, but this is a bridge year. Cutch and J-Hay should only be moved if they are out of contention by mid summer.

    • beaverjp

      Don’t the pirates have 50m on the way one of few advantages of being so far far from lux tax limit.

      • tonyframpton

        Everyone does.

  • beaverjp

    Phillies making noise maybe they can enhance the market for Cole even they do so by taking Duffy or Archer off the board. Maybe the nats wake up.

    • capirate

      Finally nice to see some movement on free agent position players. Hope this slow market finally gets in gear.

  • I’m confused as to why the Pirates would want Frazier (for such a high cost) from the Yankees if they’re not both trading Andrew McCutchen and writing off Austin Meadows.

    • The Cutch part I agree with, but no need to write off Meadows just because another OF has been acquired.

      Meadows isn’t ready yet…by the time he is (if he is) and the Pirates are still struggling…either Marte or Polanco May be a trade candidate if they are overperforming.

      If he’s ready and the Pirates are hot, Meadows, himself, could be a trade chip to bolster the team.

      • redrage97

        IMO Polanco should be a trade candidate now lol in which case taking a closer look at Frazier probably a good idea.. other wise i think he is a pretty easy pass

        • No use selling at rock bottom…especially for a club that is probably going nowhere.

          Hold him to see if he rebounds. If so, and the outfield is loaded with potential, sell high.

  • capirate

    If the Pirates are considering trading Cole, I sure hope they get serious interest from teams other than the Yankees. We need a bidding war! I know the Rangers and Twins asked about Cole, but the Twins will probably wait to see if they can get Darvish first. Any other realistic landing spots for Cole?

  • Trade Cole for Frazier, etc.
    Trade Cutch for Arroyo (SF), and whatever else you can get
    Trade Mercer for a bag of pucks
    Use the $30M saved to shop for a SP and/or 3B upgrade (such as Walker to shift JHay to 3B).
    If Meadows miraculously gets healthy enough to make the big leagues, that’s a good problem to have.

    • Bucco99

      Everyone seems eager to get rid of a very steady player in Mercer. Who knows if either of the kids in the minors are either ready or can to use the Pirates catchphrase, can “compete” at this level yet. The same goes for Meadows. His only concern isn’t health, although that’s big. But he hasn’t exactly torn up AAA pitching. His bat often looks slow, and he’s too much into pitch selection, getting himself behind in counts. He will be eaten alive but most good MLB pitchers at least based on his AAA performance last season.

      • I like Mercer, but (A) not for $6.5M and (B) I just “traded” for Arroyo to play short. Mercer is a symptom of the problem. A “steady” player that people like who is consistently in the bottom 3rd of SS performance. If you settle for that then how are you going to get out of no man’s land?

        ps: no disagreement from me on Meadows. He has a lot to prove.

        • emjayinTN

          Trade Mercer because he is not worth $6.5 mil and keep Harrison for $10 mil +options, and Rodriguez for $5 mil?

          Cole individually can bring back some strong prospects – can we get what we want/need if we add Marte in that Yankee trade?

          Who replaces the 30 doubles/28 HR that ‘Cutch provided in 2017? Could an offer of 4/$76 work? 3.7 WAR in 2017.

          Arroyo, 22, will be a future MLB SS, but is he better than Cole Tucker, 21? Not in my opinion. Stay the course

  • Robert W

    I think the FO wants to be a 2nd or 3rd place team for as long as they can and keep the ticket sales at between 1 and 2 million/yr. Keep players the fans are excited about and try to trade them before they are free agents. I think the only way they will be a true contender is if they get really lucky and play over their heads for 2 or 3 months straight but will fall in the playoffs.

    • emjayinTN

      If not for the pitiful Reds, this team would have finished dead last in 2017. Obviously ownership does not think any of that blame belongs on the GM, Manager, or Coaches. Therefore all that is left is to trade pieces that can be replaced and try to get help for the now and future. To me, in this off-season, that means Cole, Harrison, Rodriguez, and Marte.

      Cole is major and we need to have a ready 3B coming back – if not Torres, then Andujar, and then add at least Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield.

      • BucsFan54

        Ownership never will assign “blame” to management for not fielding a winning team because ownership’s goal is not to field a winning team but only a team that is just good enough to generate profits. Nutting never had and never will have any intention of running with the big dogs of baseball owners.

  • redrage97

    Really i think the pirates are in a good position to make a run now, but it all depends on players living up to their potential, staying healthy and actually playing.

    If it where me i’d extend cutch a couple years if you can at a rate fitting of his current play level Maybe trade cole but only if the return includes MLB ready 3b and you think Cole’s spot can be filled with an internal option (glasnow, brault, kingham, keller?) by july.

    Maybe not to the series, but 82 “should” be with in reach. but you know.. its not me..

    edit: nice post btw.. just wish the whole site was free

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD

    Are there any Pittsburgh area business people, with deep pockets, who could want to buy this team and actually compete and win?

    • rich

      There have been reports that Nutting is a billionaire. That would be enough to win.

      • Jon S

        He is not a billionaire. His family was worth that 5+ years ago. He himself is probably worth way less than any of us thinks.

  • jaygray007

    the weird thing about their situation is that they have plenty of depth. Lots of players who are okay and a lot of prospects who project to be okay-to-good.

    full rebuilds typically come from teams that have a few stars to spare, but no real depth and bad farms.

    this isn’t the Pirates’ situation at all. they have a farm that probably ranks somewhere from 8-15 depending on who you ask. They have a ton of decent young guys in the first few years of service / knocking on the door.

    therefore… what the pirates have is a stardom problem. their stars just aren’t as good as other teams’ stars. The pirates probably won’t have one player surpass 4 WAR.

    what i’m getting at is…. if they do sell Cutch Cole and Harrison, they need to do anything they can to get an elite prospect. even if tht means eating salary or packaging two or all three of them together. Depth isn’t the problem. Upside is.

    • Yup.

      The pirates have a roster filled with guys who could be on a championship team.

      No one would bat an eye to see Mercer or Harrison or Cutch on a World Series winner.

      The problem is…out of all these guys that are “good enough” not one is good enough to be the leader of a winning franchise.

      Sprinkle in two of Trout, Altuve, Harper, or Kershaw-like talents and this team is destined for 99 wins and a deep run into the playoffs…absent standouts, this roster is filled with guys you look at and say: “meh, he’s good enough to start and cheap enough that it would be wasteful to upgrade upon”.

      Aside from Keller…and, possibly, Glasnow, this is the state of the farm system, as well. I’m high on Hayes and Tucker, but, really, they’re upgrades, not game changers. The Pirates need to move movable assets for impact players…ASAP.

  • emjayinTN

    The picture tells everything about this team right now. Don’t read anything or think anything – just look at the picture.

  • walkire

    If you can get players like Frazier and Andujar plus a highly rated pitcher for Cole, then you do it. I’m sure Cole will probably turn into an ace once he leaves, but he hasn’t been one for us except for one season. Make the trade!!

    The problem is I wouldn’t be shocked to see just two players for Cole, which sucks. I am also not shocked at anything the ownership does anymore. They got lucky on some decisions and had success that made them lots of money. Then we run into the current situation with no spending and intentional cheap moves. We are like the baseball version of American Pickers, but our characters are not very likeable.

  • Bill W

    The PBC will be getting $50 million from MLB for Advanced Media Rights in the first quarter 2018. So after refurbishing the Pierogi uniforms they will have about $49, 992,000+ left to spend on competing with enhanced talent. Can’t wait to see a couple of pieces to help us compete.

  • Rob Forsyth

    It’s incredibly frustrating to be a Pirates fan with the current ownership and front office. I’m not sure I’m opposed to trading Cole, but if you do that I think it means Cutch is sure to go next. However, it appears that his market value is low and I don’t know what you get in return. I don’t follow other teams’ prospects much at all so I’m not sure about the returns everyone else here is mentioning. I believe Huntington when he says he’s going to let the market determine what he’s going to do. However, he’s by no means a bold GM and I’m not holding my breath for anything astounding to happen. He hates giving away talented prospects and the Pirates have a boat load of live arms down on the farm.

  • Bruce G

    The difficulty facing management is that:

    Outfield:
    IF Marte and Polanco start playing consistently to their potential, McCutchen continues what he did last year, then it’s back to having a top-notch outfield. McCutchen becomes a FA after this year and with his inconsistency the past two years, opposing GM’s are probably uncertain what they are getting if they want to deal for him. If he has a good first half, then his value should go up. My concern with the outfield is the other two have not been as consistently reliable or durable as Cutch. I don’t know if boneheaded baserunning mistakes get factored into WAR, but these two have made their share of mistakes.

    Out of all the position groups, I think the outfield has the highest upside and also the most likely group to succeed in meeting expectations. These guys can fill the top and middle of the lineup and be as solid as any outfield in the division.

    Infield:
    A year later and the Kang situation is still not settled. Management has to assume that he is done and make plans to shore up the infield. The team went into last year thinking Kang was going to be a key component in the lineup and be a major run producer.

    Bell should continue to improve and lock down 1B for the foreseeable future.

    Mercer is Mr. Reliable. He is going to hit .250 and hit double digit HR’s and 50+ RBI’s. His defense is usually solid, though I thought he made a few more errors than usual last season. He’s entering his age 31 season and has been the starting SS for 4 years. I think his type of player was a better fit for the team a few years ago when the overall offense was stronger. The Pirates had Walker and Alvarez in the lineup and McCutchen was producing at peak levels.

    Harrison is a solid piece to the puzzle and generates offense and plays outstanding defense.

    I think finding a high impact bat for 3B (or 2B if you slide Harrison to 3rd) would be a key to making or breaking the season. Freese is a really good bench player. We all know he wore down playing as much as he did at his age. The Pirates lost two substantial HR threats in Walker and Alvarez a few years ago and last years lineup didn’t scare anybody.

    Danny Valencia might be a solid addition at a reasonable price.

    CATCHER:
    Did the Pirates catch lightning in a bottle when Cervelli stayed healthy most of his first season on the team? When healthy, he’s a nice piece of the lineup and does a great job behind the plate. However, I think it’s just as likely that he will miss half the season with an injury. It looks like he lost some power the last two seasons. Again, I imagine most GM’s look at him the same way and his value is not that high. I would love to see the Pirates make a run at Lucroy, but I’m sure his price tag is pretty high. He is a solid bat and familiar with the division.

    ROTATION:
    IF Cole and Taillon pitch to their capabilities, then that’s a solid 1-2 punch. I liked how Williams and Kuhl improved over the course of last season. I would like to see a lefthander in the rotation. Is Brault ready? Can Glasnow figure things out?

    BULLPEN:
    I think the back of the bullpen can be solid with Rivero and the new pieces added since the end of last year. Does Hudson have a chance to bounce back?

    SUMMARY:
    I think there’s enough there to compete if things fall into place – the outfield plays to their potential and the rotation (especially Cole) performs. I would like to see a couple key additions to bolster the lineup – 3B and Catcher. If Cervelli comes back 100%, then that would be huge, but his history suggests otherwise. Finding a good, experienced OF would help as well.

    • NorCal Buc

      Your thoughts are similar to mine Bruce, and I appreciate your full analysis

  • NorCal Buc

    Last year, McCutchen had no support in the offense until Bell started to hit in the 2nd half. The two of them simply could not carry the team.

    This year, I expect a rebound from Marte and Polanco. Bell has the smarts to improve. Harrison can play 3B, with SRod and Frazier sharing 2B

    IMO, the above provides pretty decent offense. So, in June, judge how this team performs, then make an evaluation about trading Cutch, Cole, and Harrison.

    The value of Cutch with a decent 1st half in ’18 would be parallel to his value now, considering the current doubts about his ability.

    I would ONLY move Cutch and Cole now if an overwhelming offer comes through.

  • Bridgevillebuck

    Big market teams with small market strategies feels like the last nail in the coffin for any small market teams hoping to compete once every 10-15 years.

    • NorCal Buc

      Spot on. The only small market franchises that competes year in and year out are Cleveland and St Louis; though the Cardinals have brilliantly marketed throughout the midwest to reach from Kansas to Indiana to Arkansas………..

      This board shows it is much easier to complain about out ownership, than to complain about the inherent injustice in the system.

      I wonder if the fans of the A’s, Rays, Brews, Reds, and now Royals vent onto the ownership, or the system?

  • Wabbit_Season

    Oy.

    We must never forget how 20 years of losing happened. The lessons are you can compete most years if you go about it the right way and get lucky once in a while.

    I would say deal Cutch and Cole and let the depth come forward and prove itself. This would take pressure off guys like Glasnow and basically say, you’re going out there every 5th day anyway so stop worrying.

    I think Cole and Cutch would land us some good pieces and the Pirates’ pitching depth will have this good opportunity to mold into a strong group that supports and backs each other.

    Tim talks about being all in or out… Not sure I buy it. I’d say you can do a graded approach where you deal guys like Cutch, Cole, JHay, Cervelli over the next two years. I’d move Cole and Cutch now. Cervelli and JHay by the deadline this year.

    Bring on the youth.

    -Wabbit

  • Chuck C

    Going all in requires a budget larger that 100 million. The front office hasn’t shown they want to do that.

    • bucs1971

      Thank you, Chuck, for reiterating what I have been bemoaning about for years now. They throw around the $100 million figure like we are supposed to be just head over heels impressed by. That dollar amount was impressive back in 2005, but by today’s standards, it is simply not going to field a contending team.

  • jsdspud

    Going back to ‘13-‘15, NH never traded prospects to make the bold move and try to win a division. The reasoning was that they wanted to compete every year. Flash forward to ‘16-‘17 the team was on the fringe of a wildcard and the only prospect that we would have really missed is Bell.

    This will never happen but why not make a bold move to win Cutch’s final year. Trade Keller and 2 or 3 other prospects at various levels for Manny Machado. He plays and bats 3rd in the lineup. Leaves you with a lineup of Harrison, Cutch, Machado, Bell, Polanco, Marte, Cervelli, Mercer. Bench of Freese, Frazier, S Rod, Osuna.

    If you win, Cutch and Machado will receive qualifying offers and bring extra picks back at the end of the first round to help restock the farm. If you don’t win, Machado, Cutch, Cole, etc can be traded to contenders.

  • rphbuc

    Looking at moves made and rumors of who’s available, I really don’t understand why NH hasn’t pulled the trigger on something. Almedys Diaz (former AllStar) was traded — pre-arb player. Starlin Castro (former AllStar) may be available — 2yr/22M. John Jay available. Eduardo Nunez available. We have a glut of AA & AAA players. We have Freese and Mercer exceeding $10M of payroll. Our 4th/5th OF could be Jordan Luplow — not what you’d want if you are a contender. This team could get better, especially offensively, without major payroll additions. Bell-Castro-Diaz-Harrison would be an above average offensive infield with SRod & Osuna on Bench. Marte-Cutch-Polanco would be a solid offensive outfield with Jay & Fraz on bench. If we can’t spend any more $$, at least tweak the roster in hopes of catching lightning in a bottle. Ugh! Don’t just hang out in this no mans land.

  • If competing for a WS title is the goal, through Pirates should opt to rebuild. Kang, Marte, Cole undermined the 2017 season. Polanco and Glasnow failed to become the 5 war players they appeared they would be. The organization should face the fact that 2017 was the year for the team core that remained intact after the organization cut ties with Pedro Alvarez. Now, it needs to retool for 2019 and beyond.

  • What makes you think–given the offensive, defensive, and base running flaws he showed–Polanco could be anything but pedestrian??? I liked the guy for his potential but he started a major regression in late 2016 and continued all of last season.

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Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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