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Felipe Rivero Should Be The Pirates’ Closer In 2018. But…

Could Rivero keep the Mark Melancon trade tree bearing fruit?

Let’s establish this right from Jump Street.  I’ve been very vocal that the Pirates should make an honest effort to assemble a playoff-caliber team in 2018.  That entails spending to their correct threshold of revenue-to-payroll, a level I’ve set at $115M for 2018.  If things aren’t looking good in July, then I’m onboard with a full tear-down and rebuild.

A key part of any success the Pirates may achieve in 2018 will stem from closer extraordinaire, Felipe Rivero, coming in and causing nightmares for opposing hitters at the end of games.  He was a revelation in 2017 and finished the year with the 4th highest WAR among relievers in Pirate history.

But if the Pirates intend to just fidget around at the periphery of the team and hope for internal improvements, without augmenting the team and funding it properly, then they should just start the rebuild right now.  If any rebuild happens, whether it is now, in July 2018, or next offseason, the player that has the most potential trade value is none other than Felipe Rivero.  Yes, I love watching Felipe Rivero pitch.  But having a stud closer, one who is easily in the top 3 in all of baseball (and I’d entertain arguments that he could be #1 or #2), on a losing team is a total waste.

If the Pirates are going to be bad for the foreseeable future, then trading Rivero for assets that could be part of the next great Pirate team is the correct course of action.  There have been two recent closers traded that provide good case studies.

KEN GILES

After the 2015 season, the Phillies finally admitted it was time to go full-bore on a rebuild.  In December of that year, they traded Ken Giles to the Astros for a package of five prospects and young players.  As with most trades involving a bulk of players in return, some were chaff soon to be discarded.  Interestingly, one of the pieces in the return for the Phillies was old friend Mark Appel, who the Pirates drafted in 2012 and were unable to sign (thankfully).  He was re-drafted 1st overall by the Astros in 2013 and never developed.  At this point, he’s a long shot to even reach the Majors.

But one of the players the Phillies got back appears to be a key piece for them in their future.  Vince Velasquez is a flame-thrower that has been in the Phillies’ rotation for the past two seasons.  When he’s in the rotation, his stuff has been phenomenal, even if his surface stats like ERA don’t show it.  The problem is that Velasquez can’t stay healthy, which means that a move to a dominant closer/setup role may be in his future.  His fastball will play up and the smaller workload will keep him healthy.  With four years of team control remaining, Velasquez can still be part of the next great Phillies’ team — which I’m predicting may happen starting in 2019.  He was rated only as high as #86 by Baseball America, prior to the 2015 season.

And don’t sleep on Harold Arauz from this trade, either.  He’s still toiling in the low minors of Low/High A, but his stuff is very promising and his K/9 and BB/9 rates portend future success.  If the Phillies can get two assets out of this deal, it’s a clear win for them in terms of extracting value from Giles.

Naturally, the newly-minted World Series champion Astros like their end of the deal, too, even if it took Giles a full season to adjust to the American League after a down 2016 season.

CRAIG KIMBREL

The Padres acquired Craig Kimbrel right at the start of the 2015 season in their somewhat misguided attempt to go for it that season.  It predictably didn’t go very, so GM A.J. Preller course-corrected and embarked on a full-scale teardown at the end of the year.  In November of 2015, Kimbrel was traded to the Red Sox for an intriguing package.  It seemed very light to me, based on how dominant Kimbrel had been in his career (as a point of reference, Kimbrel has had three 3+ WAR seasons in his career).

But the Padres have extracted some value from it.  CF Manuel Margot doesn’t have a dynamic bat, but his defense and baserunning make him a competent ML starter.  Carlos Asuaje is not spectacular, but he’s a solid utility player with great defense that generated 0.8 WAR last year.

Prior to the start of the 2016 season, Margot was rated the #56 prospect in baseball.  I’ve never been very high on his hit tool and I’m not a fan of his squat 5′-11/180 frame, but he was rated as a Top 100 prospect.  Javier Guerra was ranked as the #52 prospect in baseball prior to 2016, but (again) I’ve never viewed him an as impact bat.  He struggled last year in High A and Double A.  Carlos Asuaje was never ranked and Logan Allen was just starting his career when he was traded.  I think Logan Allen could reach the Majors in 2-3 years.  For me, he profiles as a high-end #3/low-end #2 starter, so he could actually be the prize of the whole lot.

***

So these two trades are sort of the template that the Pirates could look to expand upon, in the event they would look to move Felipe Rivero.  They could target two prospects in the mid-range of the Top 100, plus a lottery ticket from a lower level.  Or they could go for a young, promising starter plus a lottery ticket and some fungible assets.  Rivero, even as a Super Two, has immense prospect surplus value.  The Pirates need to be sure that they get at least two starters for the price of one if they move him.

About Kevin Creagh (309 Articles)
<p>Nerd engineer by day, nerd writer at night. Kevin is the co-founder of The Point of Pittsburgh. He is the author of Creating Christ, a sci-fi novel available on Amazon.</p>

77 Comments on Felipe Rivero Should Be The Pirates’ Closer In 2018. But…

  1. There a lot of talk throughout baseball about the rebuild model and mostly because it has worked for the past two World Series winners. And it’s also looking good for the Yankees and maybe some others.

    But the World-Series winning Cubs and Astros have shown there is another ingredient to building a championship team when starting almost from scratch. And that would be spending big time to put the finishing touches on that team.

    The Cubs added Jason Heyward, Jon Lester and Ben Zobrist for deals that were valued at $184 million, $155 million and $56 million, respectively. The Astros added Brian McCann, Josh Riddick, Carlot Beltram and Justin Verlander for terms that were $34 million/2 years, $52 million/4 years, $16 million/ 1 year and $40 million/2 years, respectively.

    There is no way the Pirates can or will make such additions.

    Furthermore both teams were aided by an abundance of luck/skill in the draft and development, which also are assets the Pirates do not seem to have.

    I’m not saying rebuild isn’t the way to go for this team, but only that the results of such a rebuild are far from guaranteed.

    • mark delsignore // November 14, 2017 at 8:48 AM // Reply

      Add Cleveland and KC to that list as well but to a much smaller degree but bigger than the Pirates want to/can spend

      You nailed it Bob
      The formula these days is develop and draft well and get lucky as well as spend when required on vets that are projected to help.

      No guarantees anywhere — not many in life actually except death and taxes — so why expect any in baseball.

      This is the formula.

      Sadly on both fronts, this leaves the Pirates on the outside looking in.

  2. There has been much talk throughout baseball about the total rebuild model and much of that stems from the fact the two most recent World Series winnings have used that plan.

    But there’s more to winning championships than drafting and developing and the Cubs and Astros clearly show that to be true. To finish off their title team, the Cubs added Justin Hayward, Jon Lester and Bon Zobrist, for contracts of $184 million, $155 million and $56 million. respectively. The Astros added Brian McCann, Josh Riddick Carlos Beltran and Justin Verlander at teams of $34 million/2 years; $52 million/4 years; $16 million/1 year and $40 million/2 years.

    In their history I do not believe the Pirates have made any deals the equal of those. And it is unlikely they can or will in the future.

    Nor have the Pirates had the luck/success in drafting and development that the Cubs and Astros have had.

    I’m not saying rebuilding isn’t the way for this team to go. I am saying that this method is hardly a guarantee.

    • Kevin Creagh // November 14, 2017 at 8:13 AM // Reply

      Of course it’s not a guarantee, but for the price sphere the Pirates operate in, it’s the only way. The heart of the matter is that the only NH-drafted players to generate at least ONE 3+ WAR season are Pedro Alvarez and Gerrit Cole. That’s completely unacceptable for a franchise that has to grow their own impact talent.

      • mark delsignore // November 14, 2017 at 9:03 AM // Reply

        Completely unacceptable is right.

        The lousy track record, specifically of hitters, for Neil and Stark is deplorable. This is supposed to be a main pillar of their strategy. Stark, as head of “player development” should be fired immediately. Neil……well that train left the station however he has no payroll.

        Also, their revenues are pathetic. I get that they are geographically pinned in but Frank, as prez, is not growing the revenues as he should. This team needs more revenues in order to compete. Smiling Frank needs to go.

        Neither of these are guarantees, but they are a good start.

        • I’m not pinning this all on you but it’s funny, Mark. People bitch and moan incessantly about the non-stop, in-broadcast advertising. Some whine about the signage at PNC. The organization is and has been mocked for years about fireworks, concerts, pierogie races and the ongoing carnival atmosphere that is the in-game entertainment.

          Well, those are examples of how teams grown revenues. Yet Coonelly should be fired for not growing them fast enough?

          Pittsburgh is not a great baseball market. I’m not sure it’s even a good one. The franchise has always had to scratch and claw to approach attendance figures that are the norm for many other comparable markets.

          Of all the issues the Pirates have to worry about, I’m not sure Frank Coonelly is high on the list.

        • I’m not pinning this all on you but it’s funny, Mark. People complain and moan incessantly about the non-stop, in-broadcast advertising. Some whine about the signage at PNC. The organization is and has been mocked for years about fireworks, concerts, pierogie races and the ongoing carnival atmosphere that is the in-game entertainment.

          Well, those are examples of how teams grown revenues. Yet Coonelly should be fired for not growing them fast enough?

          Pittsburgh is not a great baseball market. I’m not sure it’s even a good one. The franchise has always had to scratch and claw to approach attendance figures that are the norm for many other comparable markets.

          Of all the issues the Pirates have to worry about, I’m not sure Frank Coonelly is high on the list.

          • I agree with you Don. FC should keep his sound bites to a minimum, but otherwise he is actually very effective in his job.

          • mark delsignore // November 14, 2017 at 10:38 AM //

            Revenues need to be in the $300MM range for the Pirates to have a $145MM payroll or thereabouts. That number seems to be one that at least gives Niel, or any other GM, a fighting chance.

            Frank is the President. ALthough he has found other sources of revenues as you stated, he seems to have plateaued.

            More revenue is needed if the Pirates are going to get back into the Post Season —- or a whole lotta good fortune.

        • Like Don said, I’m not sure how much more Frank can do. However, the TV deal is up relatively soon, no? Perhaps there is an opportunity there.

      • Dean Plafcan. State College, PA // November 18, 2017 at 10:07 PM // Reply

        If these 2 trades are the template of what the Bucs may
        get in return for Riverio, I only have one thing to say;
        “please don’t do it.” I would ride Riverio for the next year
        and a half, then trade him for an established major league bat (3 years of team control) and a prospect. A return of 3 or 4 minor league players is a big time reach. Check past deals, for instance, involving Jason Bay and others. These deals are hit and miss. Riverio is a special talent.
        I would never trade “special” for 3 prospects. At a minimum, I want at least one player who is somewhat establish if I am forced into trading “special” because of financial issues! And again, Riverio is indeed, “special”. Thank you.

    • I agree 100% that there are no guarantees with a total rebuild if you don’t add some cash for free agents to close the deal. That being said, I think the Astros probabbly overpaid for some of those veterans, as the market for guys of that age seems to be dipping back towards a more affordable posture as teams emphasize youth movements.

      Theoretically, if a team drafts well and develops those players quickly so that a majority of the roster is made up of guys with less than six years service time, there should be more cash to spend on veterans in the free agent market to augment a good young squad. It never seems to go that way in Pittsburgh, but it is possible if they go the total rebuild route.

    • Charles Vine // November 15, 2017 at 8:40 AM // Reply

      It’s just about impossible to argue with your logic, Bob. Unless by some unforeseen miracle the Pirate philosophy and budget constraints change, I fear we are locked in to more of the same. May as well get used to it.

  3. Maybe I’m missing something, Kevin, but you seem to be defeating your own argument. You say the team should rebuild but you point out — correctly — that the people in charge of that rebuild previously have failed in drafting and development.
    As stated, I have no problem if the decision is to rebuild. I’m just not sure it can work with this franchise as it is presently constituted and will be so for four more seasons.

  4. mark delsignore // November 14, 2017 at 9:00 AM // Reply

    The Pirates have a classical and text book Catch-22 this upcoming season. They are not good enough to compete for post season as currently constructed (unless many miracles happen — just like last season’s hopes and dreams) but if they tear down this winter, even less people will show up for games and revenues will decline further.

    In addition to Riviero, they can trade Cole who will bring a semi-decent booty as well as Marte and Cutch who will get us 2 low level prospects/suspects at best. Harrison might get you a low level pitching prospect. FOr a tear down, that is about it till July.

    This team needs hitters. They cannot seem to draft and develop impactful hitters, save for bench players. Kyle Stark needs replaced and you have to scratch your head on the Huntington re-signing. CLearly falls into their courts.

    On the revenue side — the $115MM payroll — this is not enough. This falls on COonley as he has done a lousy job as Prez at getting this economically and geographically challenged team more much needed revenues.

    No quick fixes here. My hope would be to tear down in December and get it over with. No one shows up in 2018 but you are relieved of “big” money, relatively speaking.

    Sadly, they will try to make a go of it with the cast of characters they have and then get a lower booty during the July fire sale.

    But there is that thing called Hope…..

    • The Pirates have set franchise attendance records during Coonelly’s tenure despite having one of the smaller DMAs in MLB.

      From what I read at various blogs, Bob Nutting is pocketing millions in profits and now possesses assets in excess of $1B. The vast majority of that is wealth is derived from the Pirates.

      What exactly has Frank Coonelly done wrong?

      • mark delsignore // November 14, 2017 at 10:41 AM // Reply

        Again…..
        COmparing Pirates to Pirates — they were woeful for 20 years Don — I expect someone to come in with a low bar and exceed it.

        YAY. Hats off to Frank!

        How about comparing Pirates to Cleveland or KC?

        Frank is a problem because he is the boss.

        He has plateaued.

        • And no one came to see them when they weren’t woeful, Mark. The Pirates hit the 2M attendance number just three times in the franchise’s history prior to the five year run by this current front office. One of those was the opening season of PNC.

          Forbes 2017 Est Rev:

          Cleveland $271M ($40M in TV rev)
          Pittsburgh $265M
          Kansas City $246M

          As stated, Coonelly doesn’t appear to be the problem. He’s generating a ton of money in a not so great baseball town.

          • Fish Monger // November 14, 2017 at 11:57 AM //

            He has also locked up the best GM and manager tandem in baseball to lifetime contracts. He deserves a gold star for that, too.

          • Clearly, both Cleveland and K.C. are spending a larger percentage of revenue on payroll than the Pirates appear to be willing to do. Hard to believe that will ever change without new ownership. If that happens, N.H. and F.C. will both be gone and this discussion will be moot.

      • I don’t think Coonelly is the problem for sure. He has no real opportunities to grow cash flow until the next television rights deal that starts in 2019. One thing of note here in Philly is that even though they just signed a great new local rights deal with Comcast, the Phillies still market 10 or so Sunday afternoon games to local stations like the CBS affiliate and also a few on the local WB affiliate. I don’t know what kind of revenue those games bring in, but everything you can do helps. Maybe the Pirates should be looking at a hybrid rights deal instead of an exclusive deal just with AT&T. Perhaps they already are, as the Bucs front office is one of the least opaque ones in all of professional sports.

        • mark delsignore // November 15, 2017 at 8:34 AM // Reply

          He is “A” problem

          Pirates have 4 main problems and very little prospects of getting better with the current management

          1. Low revenues. This prevents them from having a “contemporary payroll number” of what looks to be around $140MM just to have a chance. This is on Frank as President

          2. Lousy drafting – This is on Neal. He has been at the helm for 10 drafts. Some bench players plus a blossoming Bell and Tallion to show for his efforts. Not good enough.

          3. Lousy player development — This is on Stark and Neal. Once we get them, they take forever to see the majors if at all. Unacceptable. What has Stark been doing?

          4. Lousy fundamental team play. This is on Hurdle/Stark. This is the one area that does not cost money — it simply punishes those that do not keep to the fundamentals and forces them (like Polanco as one example) to keep their heads in the games for all 9 innings. This is a differentiation that they Pirates could exploit as a low revenue team.

          Borderline if not full on pathetic

          • Bob Stover // November 15, 2017 at 3:04 PM //

            I don’t think Coonelly can magically make money appear. So I don’t agree with #1. I sure agree with the development team and fundamentals argument.

          • mark delsignore // November 15, 2017 at 8:27 PM //

            He is “the president”!!!!!!!!!!

            It is his freaking JOB!!!!

            President of GE does not make revenue targets — he/she gets fired.

            President of Home Depot does not make revenue target — he/she gets FIRED!

            Too many excuses on Federal Street for me.

            Row the Boat!

  5. I think the discussion is missing a viable way to help the rebuilding process. Give Huntington credit for developing some good young pitchers. I totally agree that he has not developed enough hitters however he could trade a pitcher or two for promising hitters. There are teams who historically develop good hitters, like the Reds, but seldom ever develop pitchers. Make a trade or two to help the rebuild. Huntington has some resources if he is willing to use them rather than hoard them.

    • The only `good, young pitcher’ the Pirates have developed to a successful MLB career is Gerrit Cole and he was the No. 1 pick in the draft. Whomever else you might be thinking of — and I’m guessing they would be Taillon and Kuhl — they are not “good, young pitchers.” They are at least a season away from such a designation.
      And since he has been on the job since 2008 and conducted 10 drafts, I would suggest Huntington is abysmal in developing young pitchers.

      • how many other teams HAVE developed a stable of young pitchers? Cubs? Cards? Yankees? As?

        Perhaps developing young pitchers is harder than some folks think it is. afterall, 70% of all 1st rd picke alone fail. Perhaps developing 1 young pitcher ( Cole ) and 2 other possibles ( Taillon and Kuhl ) is the norm throughout baseball. I dont know. havent done the research. just throwing that out there.

        • Yet only 19% of this front office’s first round picks have made any meaningful contribution at the ML level.

          Perhaps that’s a problem?

          • not sure where you get 19%
            Alvarez – contribution
            Sanchez – yuk
            Black – traded for MByrd
            Tallion – contribution
            Cole – contribution
            Barnes – yuk
            Meadows – God only knows

            Cant expect picks from 2014-2016 to contribute yet. Yes, some picks from the past 3 yrs have made it to the Majors for other teams, but lets not pretend thats the norm.

          • On the other hand, other teams have guys go from drafted to the major leagues in 3 years. With the Pirates its rarely less than four and more often five. There are definite problems in the developmental end of this equation that very few people are qualified to address. We can compare results with other organizations and conclude that changes need to be made; however finding the right people to make a wholesale change in developmental staff is probably a lot harder to do than it sounds.

          • mark delsignore // November 14, 2017 at 3:19 PM //

            Don

            Its a HUGE problem especially when the definition of “meaningful” is broadened AND the fact the the Pirates have to do this better than the average team if they are going to make any headway in moving forward in this league.

        • I think drafting and developing only one starter with more than 15 wins over a 10-year period rises to the level of abysmal no matter how many excuses you wish to make for the Pirates, TomP.

          • excuses?? i was simply asking how does that compare to other teams. seemed like a valid question.

            Seems like we are trying to draw a line by using only one pt.

          • Since 2008–NH’s first draft–the Pirates have drafted 3 starting pitchers to compile 2 bWAR (small I know) for the team that drafted them. In a study I ran on my own of the NL Central, here are the comparative results:

            Pirates: Taillon (3.6)
            Cole (12.3)
            Kuhl (2.6)

            Cubs: 0 (but used Andrew Cashner to acquire Anthony Rizzo and his 26.6 bWAR)

            Cards: Lynn (14.1)
            Wacha (6.4)
            Miller (6.0)
            Joe Kelly (3.4)

            Reds: Mike Leake (12.1)

            Brewers: Jimmy Nelson (4.4)
            Mike Fiers (3.8)

            That’s it. So comparatively regarding starting pitchers, the Pirates aren’t performing horribly. And actually, when comparing total value from draft picks since 2008, while the Cardinals blew everyone out, the Pirates were actually 2nd in the Central.

            Cards: 117.1
            Pirates: 26.2
            Reds: 25.6
            Brewers: 17.5
            Cubs: (8.0)

            I have the spreadsheet all painstakingly in order, so you’ll just have to trust me

          • Kevin Creagh // November 14, 2017 at 2:31 PM //

            I’m a little skeptical about some of your numbers, esp. the Cubs, as Kris Bryant himself has been worth 19.7 bWAR.
            Also, just because the Pirates are close to the Reds/Brewers in overall total value with 26’ish bWAR, just means that they’ve all been bad at drafting/developing.

            26 WAR spread over 10 seasons is fairly terrible, esp. for 3 franchises that all need to draft and develop.

          • Bob Stover // November 14, 2017 at 2:43 PM //

            Kris Bryant is another good example of why, all things being equal, you draft college players. A lot of the development is already done. Bryant was actually drafted in 2010 by the Blue Jays but passed to go to college at San Diego State. Now he is making history. Maybe the Pirates will get lucky like that with Jordan Luplow.

          • thank you Ethan. That was my pt. how do we know the Pirates are doing poorly in the draft if we refuse to compare their results to other teams.

          • Tom, that was the point in my exercise. I kept hearing fans bash the Pirates drafting, but it didn’t add up when I started to think about it. I went into the study open-minded, waiting to see what the result told me, rather than just a narrative. While I wasn’t really surprised by the Pirates results, I was astonished by the Cardinals extreme success, and also really surprised by the poor track record for the Cubs, as anecdotal evidence would suggest they’ve heavily succeeded in the draft. It really goes to show their success in trades and reliance on FA over draft. Unfortunately, I would have loved my study to involve international signings, but that would have been an even bigger undertaking. However, I recognize the importance of that facet of development in the majors.

          • Kevin, the qualifications of my study is what led to some of the result totals.

            What I did was go through every player drafted by those 5 teams from 2008-2017. Then, I looked at every player to ever make the majors, at which point I compared their bWAR with the team that drafted them, as well as bWAR for the very next team they played for if traded and all subsequent teams if released. If traded, any bWAR accrued for the player acquired was a positive for the team, while any bWAR for the prospect traded was a negative.

            For example, the Cubs draft D.J. LeMahieu and he was credited for (.3) bWAR for the Cubs. Then he was traded for Ian Stewart, who compiled 0.0 bWAR for the Cubs, but has compiled 14.5 bWAR for the Rockies, so the total hit is (14.8) bWAR for the Cubs. However, just for players who have made the majors and contributed for the Cubs, the total is 29.1 for the Cubs, 19.7 of which was Bryant. So yes, one big hit was a big win for the Cubs, but they have very little depth, whereas the Cardinals have much deeper results.

            Also, I had no idea how to credit teams for drafting–but not signing–players who eventually made the majors with someone else. For one, the team deserves credit for evaluating the talent, but also a negative for not signing or developing. So, the Cubs received (12.5) for Sonny Gray, but I readily concede this may not be the best evaluation for draft success. If you remove all those totals for all teams–surprising the Cards have had no such instances–the standings don’t change, but the results obviously do.

            Do you have a site email I could send it to? It was a lot of work and would love to share, and I’ve even dreamed of publishing somewhere in an ideal world.

          • Kevin Creagh // November 14, 2017 at 3:04 PM //

            OK. In your original comment that I responded to, you had the Cubs with 8 WAR, which is what caught my eye.
            I wouldn’t count any of the credit for a drafted-not-signed player. Every team has those players that they drafted late as a flyer or a backup and then didn’t sign.

            Feel free to email me kevincreagh1 at gmail and I’ll check it out.

          • mark delsignore // November 14, 2017 at 3:08 PM //

            We get that Tom but the Pirates have to do it at least twice or Thrice as good as the teams you mention because the Pirates are not going to sign a John Lester or a Johnny Cueto.

            They must be better than their counterparts at drafting and developing because you are not going to get much in the FA market with a payroll of ~$100MM

    • The Phillies are another team that is better at drafting, acquiring, developing hitters than they are with pitchers. Although the Phillies have occasionally gone into the free agent market for position players, they have by far spent the bulk of their FA dollars on pitching. If they do decide to go after Harper in next years FA lollpalooza, they will have some pretty good hitting outfielders they can deal.

  6. Mark Gaudiano // November 14, 2017 at 10:29 AM // Reply

    If i could get 3 to 4 very good prospects for Rivero, he would be gone in a heartbeat. A closer pitches between 65-70 innings per year and i get it, everybody needs one, but i believe the Pirates need to rebuild, they can’t win a WS with the team they are going to field, but they have some pieces. I count 8 possible contenders that could use a closer. Arizona, Baltimore, Cubs, Rockies, Twins, San Fran and Washington. Not only would i move Rivero, i would kick the tires on Cole and of course Cutch. One thing that i saw in Rivero near the end of the season, he had lost his fastball consistency, and in the last week or two, he had to come out of one game as a precautionary move, he twinged something in his arm, there was no injury reported but who knows how this might effect him once he starts throwing hard again.

    • The Phillies, who are not projecting themselves as contenders until 2019, will be contenders if they have a closer like Rivero. They probably had the most blown saves of any team in baseball last year.

      I’m not advocating for trading Rivero. I don’t think a total tear down is in order yet, but they will have plenty of potential partners for a trade of Rivero. Not only the obvious contenders, but those who think they will be contenders in 2019 and 2020.

    • If the Pirates decide to trade Glasnow, I can almost guarantee you that it will be to a team looking to convert him into a closer.

  7. how many other teams HAVE developed a stable of young pitchers? Cubs? Cards? Yankees? As?

    Perhaps developing young pitchers is harder than some folks think it is. afterall, 70% of all 1st rd picke alone fail. Perhaps developing 1 young pitcher ( Cole ) and 2 other possibles ( Taillon and Kuhl ) is the norm throughout baseball. I dont know. havent done the research. just throwing that out there.

    • mark delsignore // November 14, 2017 at 3:22 PM // Reply

      It is hard Tom but the main point, IMHO, is that the Pirates have to do this better than the average team in order for them to get ahead as they are not going to sign top FA talent to fill in the gaps till the AA/AAA guys are ready.

      They sign dumpster dives and take a flier on the Liriano’s of the world. Some work, most dont.

  8. I don’t think that there is any chance in Hades that N.H. admits defeat and deconstructs for a total rebuild this year. So, as far as 2018 goes, Rivero isn’t going anywhere. Now, if 2018 goes bad, a total rebuild is in order and then there is no such thing as an untouchable player. Cutch will be gone by the deadline in 2018, and Harrison and probably Polanco as well will be moved after the end of the 2018 season. They might move Rivero, Glasnow and one other starter as well and try to get real bad and then real good quick, like the Astros did. They would need at least 2-3 years of very high draft picks, good return on the above-named players, and some actual good drafting for a change.

    • Charles Vine // November 15, 2017 at 8:44 AM // Reply

      That sure would make them ‘real bad, real quick’…..I don’t know about the rest of it, however.

      • The Cubs staring in 2012 and the Astros in 2013 prove that getting really bad really fast can work as a rebuild strategy, but you have to get the drafts right, have a good developmental staff and spend a little to supplement what you can’t draft. So, for the Pirates its almost Mission Impossible.

  9. Navin R. Johnson // November 14, 2017 at 12:59 PM // Reply

    I would not trade Rivero for prospects. I’d want good major league talent in return. If that is a deal breaker, then so be it.

    The best options for the 2018 Pirates are: 1) Win (obviously) or 2) lose badly and hope McCutcheon, Rivero or Cole have good seasons that can result in a trade at the deadline.

    The worst thing that can happen? Be 3-5 games from the second wild card in July (sound familiar). What do you do then?

    • Navin your post pretty well sums up my view can. Go all out now to win in 2018 but do a major rebuild at the deadline if out of contention. Would trade every veteran player if the price is right.

  10. Daquido Bazzini // November 14, 2017 at 1:05 PM // Reply

    The Pirates only hope to contend in 2018 will be to stand pat, sneak Jung Ho Kang back in the country, and hope that they get career seasons from the likes of (just to name a few) Marte, Polanco, McCutchen, Cervelli and Cole.
    Being that GM Neal Huntington likes to find a couch to lay down on in the off-season, I think standing pat is possible.
    Huntington did nothing to help the Pirates last off season (and in season), but I will be the first to admit that the team had many, many bad breaks (though most their own fault….examples Kang & Marte).
    It’s “possible” things could go better for them this year.
    Stand pat….Try to add to a bad bullpen and a shaky bench, and see what happens.

    As for Pittsburgh being a “bad baseball town”, that’s just an excuse for the Nutting Regime to keep cheap.
    I see failed promotions and empty seats all over the league.
    Pittsburgh will heavily support a franchise that shows effort in the FO and wins on the field.
    We’ve seen little of that in the past 21 years.

  11. I stand by my previous comment that the Pirates are developing some good young pitchers. I did not say they were already major league successes. The article is about trades for players (prospects) who could help in a rebuilding effort. Trading pitching prospects for hitting prospects can help in that effort. In addition to Taillon and Kuhl the Pirates have young pitchers who have done well in AAA in Glasnow, Kingham, Brault and Holmes, and in AA they have McRae, Anderson and Keller who have been successful. Trade our young guy(s) for a AAA/AA third baseman or catcher, since we have no one at those levels who have had any success.

    • mark delsignore // November 14, 2017 at 3:16 PM // Reply

      Norm
      No way does a team trade a quality AAA or AAAA 3rd baseman unless it is for major league talent.

      DO you know of any?
      There are not many and they are a unique, prized commodity.

      The pitching talent that you cite in AA and AAA for the Pirates is not so unique however as most teams have these types of pitching prospects that have shown some success at the lower levels.

      Most will not ever see the majors.

      • “Most will not ever see the majors.”

        Salient point, and yet another reason why Huntington’s refusal to trade prospects does not help the team.

      • I would be remiss if I did not point out that the Pirates own Ke’Bryan Hayes is a highly rated prospect both as a hitter and as an above-average defender at 3B.

        According to only one web page that I read last night, the following are all 3B at Triple-A who are viewed as “Can’t Miss”:

        Rafael Devers – Boston
        Nick Senzel – Cincy
        Vlad Guerrero, Jr. – Jays
        Christian Arroyo – Giants
        Jeimer Candelario – Cubs (and blocked by K. Bryant)
        Matt Chapman – A’s
        Miguel Andujar – Yankees
        Austin Riley – Braves
        Hayes – Pirates
        Hunter Dozier – Royals.

        Chapman and Hayes are both just now being promoted to Triple-A, so I included them on this list. If the Pirates do desire to trade for a young, hitting third baseman, any one of the above might be available. Their good point is that they are all natural power hitters. Their bad point, they are all universally thought to be destined for a position other than third due to some deficient defense, whether it is with the glove or throwing.

        • I read several times about a certain 80 inch hurler being a can’t miss guy, many times.

          Ke’Bryan Hayes CAN miss. In fact, odds still say he will. There is no thing as can’t miss, in baseball prospects, unless your name is Bryce Harper.

          • Bob Stover // November 15, 2017 at 3:17 PM //

            I agree with you Fish. I was replying to the guy who thought we ought to look for a Triple-A or Quad-A third baseman to solve the Kang problem. I think roughly half of the guys I listed will hit well in the majors, but only one or two will remain third basemen. I don’t know enough about Hayes to have an opinion on whether or not he will make it, but he’s still considered a Top 100 prospect in all of MLB and one of the top 10 at 3B.

        • Kevin Creagh // November 15, 2017 at 2:36 PM // Reply

          Bob – I’m not sure what list you were looking at, but Ke’Bryan Hayes is not going to AAA this year. He’ll be in AA and that’s after hitting a whopping 2 HR’s in the High A Florida State League. He’s not a power hitter and does not have a dynamic bat. I have severe doubts he’ll make the Majors and he’s not a top prospect for me at all.

          • Charles Vine // November 16, 2017 at 8:49 AM //

            That’s pretty much what I’ve read as well, Kevin. Most scouts have said all along that his upside is very limited. Supposedly, he was a little more advanced when than most prospects when he entered the Pirates minor league system, accounting for his decent early performance.

        • mark delsignore // November 15, 2017 at 3:04 PM // Reply

          What “web page” was that Bob?

          Cant miss?

          I assume you posted this for humor value.
          Nicely done

          • Bob Stover // November 15, 2017 at 3:23 PM //

            A “can’t miss” prospect is an oxymoron.

            This is the page I was reading about potential third base prospects who might be available for trade. The guy I was responding to suggested the Pirates should trade a major league piece for a third baseman.

  12. It tickles me to read various commentators who are now agreeing with what some of us were saying over two years ago, but will never admit it.

    From 2013 thru 2015 the Pirates had some decent teams. However, not enough was done at the trade deadline (or in fact at any point) during any of those years to take those teams “over the top”. The Pirates did not win a division title during those years. They did not win a playoff series. They could and should have gone deep into the playoffs at least once during that time.

    During those years, I continually heard that the Pirates brought in all kinds of talent during the deadlines, and that they did all that they could. Mid level players such as Marlon Byrd and JA Happ were used as the so called evidence.

    Now, I’m reading such comments from the so called “experts” indicating that championship teams have been building from within (as the Pirates did), but have been putting the finishing touches on their teams, and thereby winning it all, by spending big time for the final piece(s) of the puzzle. They further go on to say that the Pirates will never commit to that kind of spending (i.e. no Justin Verlander type player for the stretch run). And that much we can agree. But where were these comments from 2013 thru 2015 when those teams were just begging for one additional impact player?

    I was arguing for an impact player from 2013 thru 2015 (particularly during the stretch runs), but was severely castigated with examples such as Byrd and Happ as evidence that the Pirates were really going full throttle.

    No…no…no. Justin Verlander is full throttle. JA Happ is fake full throttle. (In fact, Happ was a cheap replacement for #2 starter AJ Burnett during mid season 2015 when Burnett was injured. Happ did surprisingly well, but was merely the replacement for Burnett and was not much of a net addition for the team from that perspective.)

    Anyway, I just love how time exposes the truth.

    • You give one example and perhaps it’s the best late season move in baseball history and expect it to be SOP.

      Perhaps the Indians weren’t trying because they didn’t get Verlander? How about the Yankees?

      If memory serves me Happ was statistically the best deadline pick in all of baseball in 2015. There were other big names that year, but Happ turned out to be the best.

      You want to criticize the team about not adding to teams in the offseason, I can buy that. You want to criticize the team for pathetic drafting and development, I’m all in agreement.

      If they pick up Cueto, instead of Happ in 15, the only change that happens is that they play the WC game in Chicago and not at home and they still get throttled by a pitcher who had the best 3 month stretch of pitching in baseball history.

      The Pirates have their warts. Deadline deals in 13,14 and 15 are way, way down that list of warts. In 2015, they added Happ, Soria and Ramirez, who all played helpful roles in the stretch run. They helped get the team to 98 wins. That’s a pretty good win total. 8 times out of 10, that wins the division.

      • Spot on, Fish. Anyone who complains about the Pirates doing nothing at the deadline simply does not know what he’s talking about. Starting in 2011 with Derek Lee and Ryan Ludwick through 2015 — Happ, Ramirez, Soria, Blanton — the Pirates were among the best in MLB in adding at the deadline.

      • Bingo Crossbiana.

    • mark delsignore // November 15, 2017 at 8:26 AM // Reply

      Jim K

      I dont recall many complaining about the Pirates not doing deadline deals — at least not the rational crowd. In fact I think they have done many that have worked for those years that you cited above. Certainly not the worst thing wrong with the Pirates.

      I argued vehemently that when they were 2 games out of first please in late July this past year, that they did nothing but in the years you cited, they did bring in some help. Happ for sure — maybe the best pickup of all time certainly that year and Soria comes to mind as well. If you want to talk about not doing anything in July 2017, I am all ears.

      Furthermore if you want to dredge up old (and at times current) complaints about not doing much to build on the 2015 team after winning 98 games, then count me in or if you want to complain about how bad their drafting and development is, let’s get a beer together and I’ll buy.

      However, I am not sure as to what “impact player” they were supposed to get from 2013-2105 that they did not already go and get who was available.

    • With all due respect, a team that won 98 regular season games was over the top and good enough to win it all. THEY CHOKED!

  13. Daquido Bazzini // November 15, 2017 at 1:31 PM // Reply

    The only year that I felt the Pirates went even close to all out was 2013.
    Needless to say, that was the furthest they went in their three recent post season runs.
    JA Happ (for example) was not a big splash at the deadline.
    He “over achieved” which made it look like it was a major trading deadline grab.

    • You may be right, Daq about Happ, but what would rather have? Getting Happ and him overperforming or getting Cueto and underperforming?

      If he brought in Cueto and they win 95 instead of 98, you would have been up in arms about them picking the wrong guy.

      They won 98 games in 15. They picked up three guys who helped immensely.

      Repeating myself. This team has its warts. The 2015 deadline is/was not one of them.

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