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"Fell apart like a piece of Target furniture" is perhaps my new favorite analogy, as someone who has owned way too much Target furniture.

3 weeks, 3 days ago on Conversation @ http://whygavs.com/july-2014/the-pirates-are-the-best-example-of-the-argument-against-relievers-as-all-stars.html

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@noooodbtaboutit @whygavs Eh, I feel like I'd still hate it. I could be wrong, of course, but that's how I feel.

10 months ago on The one game playoff is ridiculous

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@steve_010 Yeah, but Meek did it for four seasons. It's all about consistency.

11 months ago on The greatest hitter in the history of the Pittsburgh Pirates is ...

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@battlingbucs That's not how options work. The way options work, there are three years (option years) starting from the time that a player is placed on the 40-man in which they can be promoted or demoted without having to clear waivers. Once a player has been optioned, they can be recalled and demoted as many times as the team wants throughout the season without burning another option. In other words, only one option is used per year. Also, if a player is in the minors for less than 20 days, it doesn't burn an option.

11 months, 1 week ago on Who should start on Sunday? I've got a suggestion.

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@wkkortas If Marte had Andruw Jones' career, I'd be pretty happy with that.

1 year, 1 month ago on A few words in praise of Starling Marte

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@Eephus @NateRose That's the beauty of Stanton over, say, Rios or Willingham, though. Those players are gone after this season. Stanton is around for another three years. Even if he doesn't put the Pirates over the top in the NL Central this year (And, really, overtaking the Cardinals is looking like an impossible task for us AND the Reds) we've got three more seasons with one of the best hitters in baseball and a nice core. Stanton will be here for the entire duration that our window is open if we go get him. An outfield of Marte, McCutchen and Stanton would keep us in the World Series picture for a while.

(Side note: Really? Rios? He has a career .325 OBP and isn't getting any younger. He's barely an upgrade over what the Snider/Tabata platoon was producing before Tabata got hurt. I'd rather give up top prospects for Stanton than give up mid-level prospects for Alex freakin' Rios.)

1 year, 1 month ago on The Pirates, Giancarlo Stanton, and trading prospects

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I've been posting this elsewhere on the blogosphere, so I'll go ahead and dump it here, too:

To anyone saying "Don't sell the farm," you have to consider the stunning failure rate of what “The farm” produces. Let’s look at some blockbuster player-for-prospect deals and how they turned out:

Jason Bay landed four prospects. And say what you will about the performance of the people we got in return, but LaRoche and Morris were both highly regarded, while Moss was a C-grade prospect and Hansen was a former top prospect with a chance to rebound. And yet, you kinda have to say the Red Sox and Dodgers won that trade, don’t you?

How about the trade that the ESPN article linked to in this blog post mentioned, where the Tigers sent Andrew Miller, Cameron Maybin, Mike Rabelo, Eulogio De La Cruz, Dallas Trahern and Burke Badenhop to the Marlins for Miguel Cabrera? Maybin was BA’s #8 prospect in baseball. He’s now 26 and is a 4th OF for the Padres with a career .248/.311/.370 line. Miller was BA’s #10 prospect in baseball. He’s 28, in Boston as a reliever, and has a career 5.37 ERA, 1.67 WHIP. Was 6 prospects – including two of the top 10 in baseball – for 2 MLB players (Dontrelle Willis also went to Detroit) a bad deal for the Tigers? Did the Marlins get more value out of Maybin and Miller than Detroit has gotten out of Cabrera? Kinda hard to make that case, don’t you think?

Remember when the Indians traded Cliff Lee and got Carlos Carrasco, Lou Marson, Jason Donald and Jason Knapp? Carrasco was Philly’s best prospect, number 41 in baseball per BA. He has a career 5.18 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, and had Tommy John surgery. Marson was another top-50-in-baseball prospect. He’s a backup catcher now. Knapp was a top-100 prospect and is out of baseball now. Donald is in AAA for the Reds and was a utility player in Cleveland. It’s kinda hard to say that the Phillies paid too much for Cliff Lee in retrospect, isn’t it?

Remember when those same Indians traded CC Sabathia to the Brewers for Matt LaPorta, Zach Jackson, Michael Brantley and Rob Bryson? LaPorta was ranked 23rd in baseball by BA, 14th by MLB, and was drawing comparisons to Ryan Braun. He ended up being a quad-A player with a career .238/.301/.393 batting line. He’s in AAA now. Jackson was the Brewers’ #10 prospect. He has a career 5.81 ERA, 1.56 WHIP. Rob Bryson was the Brewers’ #11 prospect. He’s in AA now at 25 years old. Brantley is a semi-successful fourth OF for the Indians, but can you really say he provides more value than Sabathia provided to the Brewers? They won the NL Central largely because of Sabathia that year.

The Phillies acquired Roy Halladay from the Blue Jays for Travis D’Arnaud, Kyle Drabek and Michael Taylor. D’Arnaud was and remains a top prospect. We’ll see how he turns out. Drabek was ranked #25 by Baseball America. He’s now had two Tommy John surgeries, and at 25 hasn’t pitched in the Major Leagues. His AAA line has a 7.44 ERA and 2.02 WHIP. Michael Taylor was ranked #29 by BA. He has had 81 MLB plate appearances…in Oakland, scattered over 3 seasons, for a .135/.210/.189 line. He stopped hitting after he made the jump to AAA.

There are, of course, deals where the team getting prospects wins the trade, and wins big. The Nady trade for us comes to mind. Bartolo Colon for Brandon Phillips, Grady Sizemore and Cliff Lee comes to mind. But those deals are MUCH rarer than the case where the team that’s getting the player wins the trade.

Do you know why it takes multiple top prospects to land elite MLB players? Because the vast majority of prospects, no matter how highly regarded, flame out. Pirates fans should know this too well. Remember Chad Hermansen? Scouts said he could walk on water. Kris Benson? At one time, he had as much national hype as Stephen Strasburg.

When you’re a rebuilding team, it’s wise to stockpile prospects. That’s not because they’ll all pan out, it’s because most of them WON’T pan out, and you need to gather as many players with potential as possible to catch the few that do. But when you can compete for the World Series, that focus shifts. You start trading “maybe” for “definitely.” The Pirates are at that stage right now. They have the third-best record in baseball. If they carry that into the trade deadline and they can upgrade RF from Travis Snider to Giancarlo Stanton, NOW IS THE TIME TO DO IT. He’s one of the best hitters in the game. They’ll have him for three years after this one. And while Taillon and Polanco both have a chance to be very good players for a long time (Sanchez, I’m not as sure about), Stanton is definitely a great player right now and barring something horrible happening will be for years. If he continues on his current pace, he’s a future Hall of Famer. Maybe Taillon will be the next Roger Clemens, and maybe Polanco will be better than Stanton. Then again, maybe Taillon will be the next Kris Benson and Polanco will be the next Chad Hermansen.

We are the only contending team in baseball with a fanbase that wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to trade top prospects for Stanton. Everywhere else, fans of teams are constructing elaborate packages of “what it would take for us to get this guy.” 21 years of losing has conditioned Pirates fans to always think about the future. Always think about “In a couple years, when some prospects pan out, we’ll contend for the World Series.” The Pirates are 43-30. The future is right now. The prospects HAVE panned out. It won’t take a couple years. RIGHT NOW is the time to contend for the World Series. And the beauty of Stanton in particular is that he’ll also help us contend for the entire duration of this McCutchen/Alvarez/Walker/Marte offensive and Burnett/Rodriguez/Cole pitching core. He’ll be there for the whole time that the window is open. Trading prospects to get him isn’t mortgaging the future at this point, it’s competing for the present AND the future. And you know what else? When his contract is about to run out, if we’re not contending, we can trade him to acquire prospects.

1 year, 1 month ago on The Pirates, Giancarlo Stanton, and trading prospects

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@benharris64 Oh, god yes. I'm sure he could demolish some BP fastballs at the Derby. Mammoth, impressive moonshots like we've seen him hit.

1 year, 1 month ago on Pedro Alvarez is on fire, but nothing is changing

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@wkkortas While it is important to note that even with regression, the back of the rotation would only regress to league average at this rate, it's also important to note that the Pirates have been so good precisely because they've been above average. It's been because of the pitching and defense. They're slightly below average offensively, ranking 20th in wOBA, 18th in wRC+. They're middle of the pack in power, ranking 13th in ISO, 15th in home runs and 19th in SLG. And their hitters strike out the 8th most in baseball. So their record is definitely not offensively driven.


The reason the Pirates have been winning games is that their team ERA is second-best in the Majors, behind St. Louis. And it's that good because of the starts that Locke and Gomez have had. Their FIP is 24th in the Majors, and their xFIP is 23rd. They're striking out the 7th-most batters, but they're also walking the 8th-most. So regression to average back-of-the-rotation pitching from the 4 and 5 starters would have significant implications on where the team stands - they're below average offensively, and unless Locke and Gomez have made some kind of pact with the devil to enable them to keep posting these numbers all season, they'd regress to below average in pitching as well. That's a formula for another collapse, sad to say.


Now, there is one caveat here in that these stats are somewhat distorted by the terrible games we've seen from Jonathan Sanchez and James McDonald. Sanchez won't pitch in Pittsburgh again unless something goes horribly, terribly wrong, and I'd have to think McDonald is on a short leash and will have to either pitch well or be demoted to AAA or long relief. So those problems should work themselves out. But, that sample of badness is not big enough to distort the numbers enough that we can say "Well now that they're gone, we're fine." They've only pitched 42.4 innings between them out of the 473.1 innings the team has pitched - meaning that just ~9% of innings pitched were pitched by people we can reasonably assume we won't have to deal with anymore.

If the Pirates want to stay competitive, they need to either get better offensively, keep getting unsustainably good starts from the back of the rotation, or replace the back of the rotation with pitchers who CAN sustain good starts.

1 year, 2 months ago on Jeanmar Gomez, Jeff Locke, and unsustainable pitching

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I'm willing to cut Huntington some slack on Crosby, Barmes, Barajas and even to some extent Bedard. The shortstops are always extremely thin on the free agent market, so not much could have been done with them, and Barajas was sadly enough probably the best free agent catcher available when he was signed.

1 year, 8 months ago on Neal Huntington's approach to the off-season

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"The downgrade from McDonald (when he's effective) to Correia is steep."Granted. However, the fact is that McDonald *hasn't* been effective for some time now. It's at the point where getting him out of the rotation is essential. Now, I'd probably replace him with Locke myself rather than Correia, but that's another issue. If the Pirates were out of the playoff hunt I'd keep running McDonald out there just to see what happened, but we're (nominally, at least) still in it.

1 year, 11 months ago on Five man rotation will return next week; who will be in it? | August 2012

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I can't say I'm overly against a six-man rotation. In the short term, maybe it gives McDonald some extra rest and keeps his arm fresher and he starts to bounce back a little. If the move also gets good rest/performances out of Bedard and Correia, then it may be worth losing one start from the staff ace to get 3 of the other starters pitching better. And, in the longer term, if it doesn't work out for McDonald maybe you move him to the bullpen for the rest of the season and slot Correia into his spot. In any case, I doubt the team is going 6-man for the whole rest of the season.

1 year, 11 months ago on James McDonald hammered again: what happens with the rotation now? | August 2012

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 @devilinpgh However...it also means we don't have a 4th OF that's a true OF on our bench anymore. That's a bad thing.

1 year, 11 months ago on Jeff Locke up, Alex Presley down | August 2012

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Correia has been replacement-level this season as well as the past two seasons. (0.1 WAR this year, 0.0 the two previous years.) I'm sure Locke or Wilson could be replacement level as well. If he's not going to be professional about it, no skin off my nose.

2 years ago on Some Friday morning links: Ultimate Fan Guid and Kevin Corriea and other things | July 2012

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 @Carnegie Chip Aside from that one year, Capps was always pretty reliable.

2 years ago on Things are never easy | July 2012

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Fun fact: My friend named his band "It's All Happening" after that scene in Almost Famous, and now that link is inextricably made in my head every time I see it.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4qUjc_YNA8

2 years ago on Game 98: Pirates 5 Astros 3 | July 2012

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 @Carnegie Chip With Alvarez hitting as well has he has for the past month or so, what would we need Headley for? Can he secretly play SS or something?

2 years ago on Game 85: Pirates 13 Giants 2 | July 2012

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 @TomBrenholts Taillon allowed a run, and Manny Machado bailed him out of the inning with an excellent leaping catch.

2 years ago on Game 85: Pirates 13 Giants 2 | July 2012

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One positive thing that's not really focused on here is that the numbers as they stand don't account for what the Pirates do at the deadline. They're playing at about a .500 rate in third-order win percentage despite having two of the least productive players at their position in baseball - http://idevmail.americaneagle.com/message.aspx?d=313&m=1277 Which means if we can upgrade from Clint Barmes to even an average SS, and/or from Jose Tabata/Alex Presley to even an average LF, we immediately improve the team's production by a significant amount. If we pull of a major deal and get an above-average player at either or both of those positions, so much the better.

2 years ago on Let's take a deep breath and be briefly logical about the Pirates | July 2012

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 @Stevie D Someone like Castro with a 5-year deal is about the only thing I'd consider trading Taillon for right now.

2 years ago on Let's take a deep breath and be briefly logical about the Pirates | July 2012

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Regarding Pedro's Ks: It's generally better to use ABs as opposed to plate appearances if you're trying to determine if a player has trouble making contact. Since walks, sacrifices, HBPs and the like are taken out of ABs, and since there are better metrics to judge plate discipline on, generally when people refer to K-rates it's on an AB basis. And Mr. Alvarez doesn't look as good there, with a 32% K-rate. His plate discipline has indeed improved, but he still has some pretty significant trouble connecting the bat with the ball.

2 years, 1 month ago on Talking myself into the 2012 Pittsburgh Pirates | May 2012

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What's more sad is that offensively, this may be the best lineup we can muster with the players available to us...

2 years, 2 months ago on Let's just give Justin Verlander the no-hitter and get on with our lives | May 2012

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"There's no other aspect of our modern lives in which it's OK to disregard the advancements made in favor of "It's old school!""You have clearly not met hipsters. XD

2 years, 2 months ago on I have an idea to help the Pirates' moribund offense: STOP GIVING AWAY OUTS | May 2012

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 @whygavs And now it has come to pass: I must deride Rod Barajas before every game that he starts.

2 years, 2 months ago on James McDonald's recent success is coming from ... his slider? | April 2012

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 @whygavs  @NateRose Nah, not making fun, just ribbing. It's interesting, for sure. Still don't want Barajas anywhere near the field at this point, though, lol.

2 years, 2 months ago on James McDonald's recent success is coming from ... his slider? | April 2012

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Veteranosity comes through again, with grit and determination and experience the veterans are way better than their stats because they make everyone around them better!

2 years, 2 months ago on James McDonald's recent success is coming from ... his slider? | April 2012

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 @Andy Coulter You have to make contact to ground into a double play. :-p

2 years, 3 months ago on Pedro Alvarez's weird start | April 2012

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