There's not much going on today besides the roster moves mentioned below (as of right now, the Jason Grilli signing is official, Ciriaco and Josh Harrison are on their way to Triple-A, Evan Meek is headed to the 60-day DL, and there's no official word on anything yet though it seems that at the very least, Ronny Cedeno will be back tomorrow and Steve Pearce could as well, which would probably send Chris Leroux to Triple-A), so I wanted to make a short observation post.
So far, the hitters that the Pirates have appeared the most interested in are Josh Willingham and, from Buster Olney's tweet today, David DeJesus. I don't think that it's an accident that they both play for the A's. They're both having bad years in Oakland, but the Coliseum is a notoriously difficult park to hit in because of it's huge amounts of foul territory and it's killed offensive numbers in the past. Which means that Huntington's looking for guys that he feels are undervalued for one reason or another
I think that's a pretty good sign that Huntington's not planning on getting in on a bidding war for a player like Carlos Beltran or Hunter Pence. Remember that in terms of 2011, we're only talking about 60 games. The difference between, say, the way Beltran is playing right now and the way DeJesus played with the Royals last year is maybe a win, but the difference in cost between the two might be significant.
Remember that these moves don't exist in a vacuum. If the Pirates acquire Beltran and have to give up Tabata, they probably don't make any more moves and we're left with Presley, McCutchen, and Beltran in the outfield and a Jones/Pearce platoon at first. Is that better or worse than a Presley/Tabata platoon in left (once Tabata's healthy, of course, and I know Presley's playing well enough to hold a position down on his own right now, but he's got to come back to earth at least a little bit), McCutchen in center, DeJesus in right, and a Carlos Pena/Steve Pearce platoon at first?
Obviously with ten days to go until the deadline, it's impossible to say what Huntington's really planning on doing. I don't think he'll get into a bidding war over a rental player, but that doesn't keep him from finding creative ways to plug the team's needs. It's a bit of a risk to hope that guys like Willingham or DeJesus will blossom a bit away from Oakland, but it might be worth a shot.
As a Pirates fan living in Houston, I have to wonder why there is so much Hunter Pence speculation, but nothing about Michael Bourn. He's not a power hitter, but he is batting .294, can field, and leads the league in stolen bases. After watching two runners caught stealing against the Reds the other night, this seems like it could be attractive.
Is there a Pirates bar in DC? I know the usual Pens/Steelers spots... pour house, tortoise & hare, etc. But does anyone get together with Pirates fans? We need a spot.
Please, please no David DeJesus. This guy has already been thought of as a poor man's Carlos Beltran once before in Kansas City. Don't we have the same guy in Tabata. Just leave him in LF and give Presley RF. I don't even want just Willingham. It says "Hey, we tried but...." type of move. When the payroll is where it is go get Pena and if Willingham comes as well, that will be a good attempt to add bats inexpensively without mortgaging the future. But Pena should really be first.
I don't understand that overcautious take on Pence. If there is hand wringing over the chances of resigning an all-star but not a superstar 2 years from now this organization and its fans are a lot more removed from ever really contending than we realize. Is a 25 hr per year outfielder going to bankrupt this club? Are we never going to be in position to sign the occasional all star? Are we that attached to all of our prospects- prospects that we'd be lucky if 1 out 3 ever actually become solid major leaguers? Look at the current pitching staff before you believe that the only way we're ever going to win is with homegrown talent that we can hopefully utilize before they hit free agency too. Only Maholm fits that theory.
As far as Josh Willingham, I watched him in his prime as Marlin and even that guy wouldn't be a difference maker on today's Pirates. I'm just getting the feeling that some of the fanbase has been battered into believing that this organization can't sign a guy that's already performed solidly somewhere else because, god forbid, they might continue performing and be due a salary increase. Another case study to look at would also be the Marlins of 2003. They had to deal a hot prospect by the name of Adrian Gonzalez to get Ugueth Urbina to bolster their pen. 8 years later Gonzalez is a MVP candidate and Urbina is in a Venezuelan prison but nobody would ever take that deal back. There are 2-3 prospects I'd label as untouchable right now and everyone else would be on the table at this point to get any type of proven commodity that you'd still have control of past this season.
I wouldn't mind the pickup of DeJesus so much. He had a career year last year with KC hitting .318 (his best full-season .AVG in his career), but he only hit 5 homers. We already have a lack of power, and that wouldn't solve that much. We might as well stay with GI Jones/Xavier Paul/Matt Diaz in RF, and take our chances with Willingham at 1B. Then again, he leads the A's in strikeouts (83), which is saddening, but it would be much less of a risk than trying to purchase Carlos Pena. Man, the market is thin this year...
I just can't see a more clear fit than Carlos Pena. Salary dump. Clear upgrade at 1B. No prospects in return. No long term commitment. the only downside is that you would probably prefer a righty there but what else is out there? Willingham? Meh. I'll take my chances with Tabata (though that seems iffy now...), Cutch and Presley in the OF. Get me Carlos and Pedro and let's MASH.
Question is: What would Wilingham's WAR be vs Beltran's re: Tabata? I'd really hate to see Presley platooned. Not to mention, Wilingham makes me nervous. Also, I'm starting to wonder if we see Tabata at ALL again this year regardless of trade moves due to rehab setbacks.
@natelson cause he's redundant. not sure even if he's available, but he doesn't fit a need. Cutch + Tabata + Presley + Marte are all speedy outfielders without huge power.
I've noticed all of the Steeler bars in South Florida have suddenly become Buccos Bars. I'd try the most popular Steelers bar as I think all of those houses of awesome are usually Burgh Bars first and foremost.
@LauderdaleBuccosFan It's less Pence himself than the idea that Pence may be pretty expensive to acquire and he's more of a solid regular than the kind of guy you want to give up a lot for. He's probably going to be over-valued by the Astros and it'll probably take over-paying to get him because he's really their only good player and he's one of the best players available on a pretty weak trade market.Remember, trades are all about cost/benefit. Pence would, in a vacuum, be beneficial to the Pirates, but only if they don't give up too much for him.
Also, for every time you cite that getting the rental worked out, I can cite five that it didn't. Sabathia didn't work out for the Brewers. Victor Zambrano didn't work out for the 2004 Mets. Think the Giants would rather have Joe Nathan and Francisco Liriano right now than the one season they got from AJ Pierzynski? In 2007 the Braves gave up Elvis Andrus and Netfali Feliz for Mark Teixeira. They missed the playoffs, and Andrus and Feliz were big parts of the reason the Rangers made it to the World Series last year. Hell, there's even one from our own roster: Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte sure as hell didn't work out for the Yankees, but that trade was a boon for us.
There's something to be said for acquiring a player at the deadline in order to contend. But the price of that player ALWAYS needs to be kept in mind.
@LauderdaleBuccosFan I couldn't agree with you more! Not to mention, with all of the excitement and ticket sale increases this year....there's a buzz in Pittsburgh. Management, and I mean this sincerely, owes it to Bucco fans to make a solid statement by bringing in an all-star for the stretch run. Hell, Zane Smith was that guy in '92...and this offense can't get any thinner re: run support, yet we're still possibly going to be tied for 1st at the end of the night. Let's up the ante and compete by adding some obvious power...nor splitting hairs on players having bad years with OBPs right around the same as guys we already have. MAKE A STATEMENT THAT THE BUCS ARE BACK!!!!
@kylelane87 "it would be much less of a risk than trying to purchase Carlos Pena."Not really. Word is the Cubs aren't asking much for Pena at all if the team they trade him to is willing to take his contract.Also, DeJesus is better than you're giving him credit for. He's a plus defender, he gets on base well, and even though he doesn't have home run power he has a lot of extra base power (He's never played a full season with < 25 doubles or < 5 triples. There's a lot of reason to think he'll hit better here too, as his BABIP is .263 this year as opposed to a career mark of .317. He's not worth much, but I doubt the A's would ask for much either and he's an upgrade over what we've got. Not a sexy pickup like Beltran or Pence, but he would bolster the outfield at least until Tabata gets back.
@joshuabobby Agreed. We need a power hitter, and 1B is a black hole this year. We have the opportunity to fill it with a real major league player who could start every day. I would be very pleased if we grabbed Pena.
(Aramis Ramirez back is interesting too - but the feel good feelings will probably not be worth the prospects and the money.)
@stealing1stbase You make solid points regarding the rentals but at worst you'd have Pence for 2 addl years. My issue is with the automatic assumption that he'd HAVE to be gone after those 2 years regardless of performance. Let's say you remove Taillon and Allie from the trade discussion. What then would be too costly? If I told you right now that only one of the prospects below those two would end up being a perennial all star and a guy that hits in .300 range with 25-30 hrs per year- would you not be content? Do you really expect to get multiple versions of that type of player from our #3-10 ranked prospects? That doesn't even factor in that Pence would help you NOW. I just don't understand why it's assumed and accepted that we trade for Pence (or any other player like him) that we'd only have his services for the remainder of his contract or until he's no longer arbitration eligible. Are we EVER going to turn the corner as a franchise where we can trade for a proven entitiy AND have a chance to resign him? Like I mentioned and you somewhat agreed, Pence isn't a superstar but is an all star. The fact that it's believed we'd have no chance to keep him is pathetic.
@stealing1stbase @LauderdaleBuccosFan I'd rather swing for the fences this year and risk missing. Paying too much for a proven all star that might not be a 'guarantee' help you win a pennant? There are no guarantees, and there are still other rewards with a big move...like increased ticket sales and a fan base that will finally go into the winter truly believing that management wants to win a World Series as passionately as the players and fans do. That will translate into more season ticket sales. Win-win. The time is now....but I agree with you that the market is thin.
@nickjuneau24 @joshuabobby Ramirez won't waive his no-trade clause, so he's out of any realistic discussion. But I agree with acquiring Pena. The most common objection I hear is "Pena can't hit lefties," to which I have two responses: 1. Yeah, but Pearce can and they could platoon, 2. Neither can Overbay. The difference is that Overbay can't hit righties either. Or play defense.
@BlknGld4life @LauderdaleBuccosFan We're gonna have to disagree here. You should never pay too much for anything. If I sell you an apple for $20, even if it's the best apple you've ever had, you're probably going to have some buyer's remorse.Also, I think you overestimate Hunter Pence's ability to draw fans. People don't come to the ballpark to see a single player unless they're, like, Barry Bonds chasing the record or something.