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  • Trade Target Team Profile: The Pittsburgh Pirates

    The Big Picture
    The Pirates are in first place at the All-Star Break. Oops - hold on. I didn’t say that with the right emphasis. Let me try again. The PIRATES are in FIRST F*$%ING PLACE at the ALL-STAR BREAK.

    Wha? How?
    That’s a fair question, considering their offense has scored 345 runs this year, 21st in the majors. The answer is that their pitching and defense has been outstanding, resulting in the 5th best team ERA in the league.

    Why They Will Trade With The Twins
    For starters, they’re “in a buying mode” according to their manager. And they’re looking for offense.


    You can almost throw a dart and find a spot in the lineup that needs improving. That said, the Pirates leadoff spot has been terrible this year, with a combined .228 batting average and .272 on-base percentage. That OBP ranks 29th in the major leagues. Recently they turned leadoff duties to a guy they just picked up off of waivers. It’s that bad.

    Denard Span probably wouldn’t play center field in Pittsburgh because their center fielder, Andrew McCutcheon, is having an enormous year. However, left fielder Jose Tabata was just sent down to AAA. He’ll be back because he signed a six-year deal with the Pirates, but there is also right field, where Twins castoff Garret Jones is platooning with …well, its not clear day-to-day that there is a good option for the other half of that platoon. Or that Jones wouldn’t just be better served off the bench.

    So Span fills a desperate need, improves the Pirates corner outfield defense and does so long-term at a reasonable salary, which is always a factor for the financially strapped Steel City.

    Why They Won’t Trade With the Twins
    Lately, they’ve been tied to two much bigger names: Justin Upton of the Diamondbacks and Carlos Quentin of the Padres. But the Pirates don’t seem to match up well with the Diamondbacks, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.

    As for Quentin, the Pirates would probably love to have him bat behind McCutcheon to protect the budding superstar, but Quentin is also a free agent at the end of the year. And there are several other teams in on Quentin, including the Reds who the Pirates are trying to fend off.

    So it might come down to which the Pirates prefer – big and gone or steady and staying. Or Span could be a defensive move if the Reds get Quentin. Or the Pirates could decide one doesn’t preclude the other. It shouldn’t. This lineup needs plenty of help.

    Conclusion
    The trade market may sort itself out very late this year as teams take as much time as they can to see if they are “in it” or not. Of the possible fits for the Pirates, Denard Span is near the top of the list. And as you can see below, the Pirates have plenty of pitching. There are reasons for optimism here.

    Trade Targets
    Jameson Taillon – RHP
    He’s a 20-year-old blue chip starting pitching prospect whose numbers (High A - 4.05 ERA and 73K in 86.2 IP) don’t reflect his stuff. Pittsburgh have instructed him to command his fastball rather than striking out hitters with his breaking ball. I’m sure the Twins will ask about him. I doubt they’ll get him, unless the bidding turns fierce.

    Jeff Locke – LHP
    Locke had a similar year to Liam Hendriks in 2011. He showed a lot of promise in AA, made just five starts in AAA and then was promoted as a September callup. Not too surprisingly, he was disappointing. This year the Pirates are stashing the 24-year-old left-hander in AAA to be used as major league filler and he’s having a very good year: 2.92 ERA, 84K and 23 BB in 95.2 IP. The looks to me like a middle-of-the-rotation arm that could be ready as soon as the fall, which is a nice fit for the Twins. (But then I still feel the same way about Hendriks.)

    Thanks to Jeremy Nygaard for this next name...

    Kyle McPherson – RHP
    He’s 24, and started the year late in AA because of a shoulder problem, but there is no reason to think he’ll stay there long. He dominated AA the second half of last year en route to being the Bucs minor league pitcher of the year. He’s got a good strikeout rate and excellent control – exactly the kind of guy the Twins would target. Baseball America ranked him as the 6th best prospect in the Pirates system this year.

    Luis Heredia – RHP
    A 6’ 6”, 18-year-old, high-upside (his fastball is already in the low 90s) pitcher who is still several years away from the majors and will be limited to rookie ball this year.

    Stetson Allie – RHP
    Here’s a wild card – emphasis on “wild.” The 21-year-old right-hander was the Bucs second round pick just a year ago. Unfortunately, his 100 mph fastball doesn’t do anyone any good if it can’t find the plate. Recently, it got bad enough that they demoted him to rookie ball - and had him switch to third base. If the Twins think they can “fix” him, like they did Alex Wimmers, maybe he could be an interesting secondary piece to fill out a trade package.
    This article was originally published in blog: Trade Target Team Profile: The Pittsburgh Pirates started by John Bonnes
    Comments 17 Comments
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      I really like Heredia. He would be extremely difficult to get even with Denard Span involved.
    1. IdahoPilgrim's Avatar
      IdahoPilgrim -
      I would want Taillon, McPherson or Heredia as part of the deal. We don't get one of those, then we're not getting enough and we should keep Span.
    1. shs_59's Avatar
      shs_59 -
      Quote Originally Posted by sbknudson View Post
      I would want Taillon, McPherson or Heredia as part of the deal. We don't get one of those, then we're not getting enough and we should keep Span.
      My thought, THey could REALLY use Willingham, not so much Span with McCutchen and Starling Marte/ Pressley already on the roster.

      Willingham, Liriano, and Casilla to Pittsburgh
      for

      Robbie Grossman, *Jameson Taillon or Luis Heredia, Kyle McPherson, Evan Meek, and Allen Hanson, or Jarek Cunningham

      (i don't think they want to move Cole, Marte, Sanchez, Appel, and probably Hanson)



      ---Span to the Nats for LHP Danny Rosenbaum and INF Steven Lombardozzi

      ----
      2013 Twins

      1. Revere -CF
      2. Lombardozzi -2B
      3. Mauer -C
      4. Torii Hunter -RF
      5. Morneau -1B
      6. Plouffe -3B
      7. Doumit -DH
      8. Grossman -LF
      9. Dozier - SS
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      Quote Originally Posted by shs_59 View Post
      2013 Twins
      .
      .
      .
      4. Torii Hunter -RF <-------------------- WTF???
      .
      .
      .
      Sorry, on what planet does Torii Hunter return to a Twins uniform with Revere, Benson, Hicks, Arcia and various other cheap, young, talented players coming up or already on the roster? The only reason Hunter would even consider such a move would be if the Twins were just one player from making a serious run at the World Series.

      Wrong planet, wrong dimension. Please adjust your television set.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      God. Trading away a key component at the top of the lineup for an unknown MLB contributor is just ridiculous. As are the subsequent jabberings about Hunter and Lombardozzi. Lombardozzi batting second!

      Everyone wanting to trade Span is ignoring the hole that creates in the lineup. Full stop. It is not the case that trading him merely means adding a starting pitcher. It means adding a potential starting pitcher and creating a hole in the lineup.

      The Twins should spend $25 million on two starting pitchers. And forget the rest of this trading away the best players BS.
    1. Klochner's Avatar
      Klochner -
      They converted Allie to a third-baseman. The word on him in leading up to the draft was light tower power with likely contact issues.
    1. CK's Avatar
      CK -
      I just want to see a move that improves the team, even if it's only initially... Even for one second. TRY.
      I'm not saying give away pieces, but I'd like to see them roll the dice with good-looking prospects. Even young "B Prospects"
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by jimbo92107 View Post
      Sorry, on what planet does Torii Hunter return to a Twins uniform with Revere, Benson, Hicks, Arcia and various other cheap, young, talented players coming up or already on the roster? The only reason Hunter would even consider such a move would be if the Twins were just one player from making a serious run at the World Series.

      Wrong planet, wrong dimension. Please adjust your television set.
      Actually, it makes all the sense in the world. Trade Span, move Revere to center. Willingham stays in left. The Twins no longer have a viable right fielder.

      Hunter is 36 years old this season. He'll be looking at one last contract to close out his career and he's no more than a middling corner outfielder at this point. He's popular with the Minnesota fans. He has stated an openness to returning to the Twins.

      Arcia, Hicks, and Benson will not be ready before mid-2013 at the earliest (Hicks) and 2014 is a more realistic possibility (Arcia, Benson). Hunter slots in perfectly as a 2013 stop-gap and possibly a platoon role in 2014 if the Twins need to give him a two year deal.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by shanewahl View Post
      God. Trading away a key component at the top of the lineup for an unknown MLB contributor is just ridiculous. As are the subsequent jabberings about Hunter and Lombardozzi. Lombardozzi batting second!

      Everyone wanting to trade Span is ignoring the hole that creates in the lineup. Full stop. It is not the case that trading him merely means adding a starting pitcher. It means adding a potential starting pitcher and creating a hole in the lineup.

      The Twins should spend $25 million on two starting pitchers. And forget the rest of this trading away the best players BS.
      A few reasons why trading Span is a good idea:

      1. The Twins have a middle-of-the-pack offense. Losing Span won't make the offense spiral into obscurity.

      2. The Twins have the worst starting rotation in baseball. It's all about net gain in a trade. They lose a little on offense but gain a ton in pitching because their staff is so bad right now.

      3. Finding a corner outfielder that can play is one of the easiest things to do in free agency. Look at the demand for Josh Willingham; the guy was an obvious choice and for $7m a year, is a steal. The Twins will probably be able to pick up a guy like Hunter for a 2/$12m type deal and he'll put up similar offensive numbers to Span in the short term. For that kind of money, you get Jason Marquis if you're looking for a starter.

      4. Finding a starting pitcher that can pitch is the hardest thing to do in free agency. Every team wants starters and every team overbids for them in FA.

      5. Going into 2013, the Twins would be close to payroll neutral sans Span and plus Hunter. But now, they're one starting pitcher closer to contending. They still have close to the same money to go pick up another starter on the free agency market. Suddenly, their rotation isn't awful anymore.

      A smart team trades from a strength to improve a weakness, particularly if that weakness is nearly impossible to find on the free agent market for a reasonable price.
    1. chopper0080's Avatar
      chopper0080 -
      Span becomes more and more of an option as long as Pedro Alvarez keeps raking. If Alvarez keeps hitting, I would look for the Pirates to pursue options that have more long term value rather than short term fixes. Putting a legit lead off hitter with team control for the next few years in front of McCutchen and Alvarez will be a more attractive option for the team as it will almost have to give up pitching prospects to gain a player.
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      Quote Originally Posted by chopper0080 View Post
      Span becomes more and more of an option as long as Pedro Alvarez keeps raking. If Alvarez keeps hitting, I would look for the Pirates to pursue options that have more long term value rather than short term fixes. Putting a legit lead off hitter with team control for the next few years in front of McCutchen and Alvarez will be a more attractive option for the team as it will almost have to give up pitching prospects to gain a player.
      It's a good point. Alvarez had become their Trevor Plouffe. It's truly a no-brainer that they need to fix their leadoff situation.
    1. tobynotjason's Avatar
      tobynotjason -
      From the perspective of a Pirates fan, this is bordering on ignorant. FYI. Span as a semi-long-term corner? Um... Starling Marte, Robbie Grossman, and oh by the way Alex Presley except for April and May this season. If you've watched the day in, day out you wouldn't have much if any leadoff angst. Sutton's a hot-hand fill-in. Presley raked in his AAA concussion rehab tonight. Willingham has been discussed at length for months on Pirates' boards. Liriano gets an occasional mention. I don't think I've ever heard Span's name even mentioned save as "well, the Twins are probably trying to deal him, but he's not a fit."
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      I live in Indy and got to watch their AAA facility play yesterday. Marte and Presley looked pretty good (Presley was apparently called up yesterday and made his debut in AAA yesterday). I have a tough time believing they will want any type of OF help. Marte is having a decent enough season where I'd think they can just call him up if they want additional help offensively, so I don't get the need for Span...
    1. PMKI's Avatar
      PMKI -
      The Pirates are going after Justin Upton and will not give up Cole or Taillon for him but I guess they are will to part with Marte.
    1. tobynotjason's Avatar
      tobynotjason -
      diehard, Presley's rehabbing. He's their starting LF and lead off man with Tabata down.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Ah.... He looked like he was ready.
    1. chopper0080's Avatar
      chopper0080 -
      Quote Originally Posted by tobynotjason View Post
      From the perspective of a Pirates fan, this is bordering on ignorant. FYI. Span as a semi-long-term corner? Um... Starling Marte, Robbie Grossman, and oh by the way Alex Presley except for April and May this season. If you've watched the day in, day out you wouldn't have much if any leadoff angst. Sutton's a hot-hand fill-in. Presley raked in his AAA concussion rehab tonight. Willingham has been discussed at length for months on Pirates' boards. Liriano gets an occasional mention. I don't think I've ever heard Span's name even mentioned save as "well, the Twins are probably trying to deal him, but he's not a fit."
      From the perspective of a baseball fan, your post comes off as ignorant. No one on this board will say that Span is in the same league as a player like Upton, but neither would the Pirates have to give up as valuable of prospects as they would have to for Upton. Facts are their are very few power bats available for trade at this point in time. So, if you can't upgrade your offense by power, it would make sense to upgrade it with speed and make sure their is someone on base when Neil Walker or Andrew McCutchen goes yard. You can tout your own prospects all you want, you know them better than I do, but none of them are a proven and premier lead off hitter in the major leagues. Combine that with Span being a solid defensive player and having a team controlled contract for the next few years, and maybe he is more than just an option who is a bad fit. Honestly he is probably a better fit for a team trying to win a division than a prospect coming back from a concussion (Presley), a converted infielder (Sutton), a demoted player (Tabata), or a top 100 prospect who has not sniffed the majors yet (Marte).

      As a pure baseball fan, I can tell you your outfield would be much better for a stretch run with Span, McCutchen, and Jones/Tabata/Marte/Presley/Sutton than with MCCutchen and two question marks. You have pitching, you need hitting, and Span won't cost one of your untouchables. How can you find anything wrong with that option to upgrade your team's offense?
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