March 20, 2007

BTW Q&A

This is the first of it's kind here at BTW. I received my first email with a question on the Pirates. The timing could not have been better since I put in a 60+ hour week at work last week and am just now getting to my email. Maybe this can be a new feature?

Bill asked on March 16th:
"Bucco announcers, yesterday, mentioned the plethora of lefties on the roster and the fact that other teams "are aware and looking at them."

Is that really the case and who might want who (Burnett, Grabow, Davidson, etc) and be willing to give up who?"
During the last weeks of Spring Training teams usually spend a lot of time scouting players who may be released. Teams pay attention to the waiver wire a bit more this time of year to fill any gaps that may have come due to injuries or to round out their minor league teams.

Major League trades are usually made because of necessity or forced by deadlines. Teams will make a trade to fill a need if they are close to a run or to fill a sudden need they can't fill from within. Generally, early in the season, teams will see what they have coming out of spring to determine what moves they need to make as the year wears on.

Don't get too eager for the trade and don't expect the Pirates to land top talent in return for their minor league arms. If a pitcher is traded for during the season, they usually are experienced players, not prospects. Look for the likes of Torres, Marte, Kolb and Grabow to garner the most interest as teams look to solidify their bullpen as the season takes its toll on bullpen arms and expose weaknesses in the pen.

Left handed relievers will land a bit more in return, as compared to their right handed counterparts, due to the lack of quality from the left hand side of the mound. Grabow could land a good positional prospect, think along the lines of Saurbeck to Boston. Marte could land a marginal to good prospect maybe a player blocked from advancing with his current team along the lines of Rincon to the Indians deal.

As for starters who will get some interest, easy selection here. All the above. Teams in need of left handed starters will ask about Duke first, then work their way down the rotation. Teams looking for a strong starter will inquire on Snell. Those teams looking to fill out the 4 or 5 spots in the rotation will ask about Chacon and Armas.

Remember Free Agents, Armas, signed in the off season can not be traded until they have reached a certain service time with the club that signs them. If a pitcher is traded early, look for Chacon to be the one moved.

If the Pirates are looking to add a player, they will have to offer up a minimum of 2 minor league starters to be able to improve the Major League squad by adding a starting position player who is only marginally better than current options. The question is where do they need to add that player?

Positions we know they are set at are LF, 1B, SS, 2B (depending on Freddy's position come the regular season) and C. The positions where they may look at solidifying might already be filled.

Nady may be the solution in RF, we need to see what he offers to this team. I think he will be a good solid RF for the next few seasons, maybe not spectacular but better than anyone we have had in recent years.

Jose Thirdbaseman, whether Castillo or Bautista, this is one position that could be solidified. Problem here is you put a road block up for Walker who just changed positions in hopes of getting to the majors quicker. I don't see a move made here.

Duffy, here is a question mark based on history and his preseason. Center is the position that scares me the most right now. McCutchen is oh so close to being ready, you don't want to block him before he can get his feet wet.

Basically two of the three positions that could be marked for improvement have prospects close to arriving. The third (RF) has a player who is good enough to start on many teams. To improve in RF, the cost would be too high for minimal improvement.

So what trades will be made. None. At least until closer to the Trade Deadline. The Pirates are not being driven by necessity nor a deadline, so don't look for an early season move. Pitching is a premium, and a fragile commodity. The best thing for this team is to hang on to as many arms as they can until someone offers the moon for mediocrity in order to fill a perceived hole in their team.

Don't look for many trades in the early part of the year throughout the league, at least nothing of major significance.

As for deadline deals, my crystal ball is broken so I will refrain from making rash calls until sometime in June or July to see where teams stand.

Bill, thanks for the question. Keep them coming.