Saturday, July 26, 2008

Game 104: Padres at Pirates

Banks and JVB.

Nady and Marte for Tabata, Ohlendorf, Karstens, and D. McCutchen

I read some of the trade comments left by people on the other blogs. First off, people pay way too much attention to the pissy comments made by television broadcasters and rival GMs. You will grow gray and die before these people talk about Pittsburgh in a way that's fair and not infuriating. The Pirates should be run to win games and not to please the media or impress the scouts and GMs who work for other teams.

So throw out all the complaints that reference a rival's or a media personality's snap opinion. Evaluate the trade for yourself.

Here's what I say. I'm not a fan of trading excellent everyday players for long-shot prospects. In theory I think it's not sound. In practice it can work. It depends on the players, and it depends on the prospects.

Xavier Nady is a 120-game-per-year player. He's already played 90 games this year. He might go on to set a career high in games played; maybe he'll play 150 this year and set a new career high in at-bats (468 is his current career high). Guys like this tend to be underrated, but I don't think Pirate fans are reacting to the trade like this is the case. He's not the equivalent of Jason Bay or Jack Wilson in the playing time department. For the sake of argument, let's not regard Bay and Wilson as every-game players any more. Still, the difference between a 125-game player and a 140-game player is large: it's two weeks starting a replacement player.

Nady also has a career OPS under 800. He's 29 and he's having a career year. To put his career in perspective, his most comparable batters are Pedro Munoz, Shane Spencer, Herb Perry, Don Lenhardt, Dick Kokos, Harry Anderson, and Jim Greengrass.

He's been a great player this year and, by all reports, an even better clubhouse personality. I don't see him as someone who has a career that suggests he would also be a great player for us in 2009 and 2010. He's the kind of player you trade high.

Damaso Marte? He's a relief pitcher.

I like the prospects the Pirates got for these guys. I think they got a good haul. I also think the team has an unusual and urgent need for starting pitchers. I don't think the trade makes the 2009 Pirates significantly worse, and I think that even the 2008 Pirates might not be so worse off as people are talking.

Sure, Nady was one of our best hitters, but the shape and nature of his relatively long career suggest that he was likely to cool off or get hit by a pitch and miss a month.

Marte was our best relief pitcher, but where's there is opportunity, some kind of breakout usually follows. There's a good chance that someone will pitch as well in the vacancy created by Marte. And relief pitchers are not the most dependable variety of ballplayers.

... update ... the change of players does not alter my perception of the trade. Three minor-league starters with some promise plus Tabata for Nady and Marte is a good return. I'm not persuaded by overconfident prospect forecasting, so comments like "middle-relief fodder" or "#4 starter" don't carry a lot of weight with me. Such comments might depress my expectations, as they should, but there are no guarantees. Given the chance, some players will grow and outperform expectations. Others will wilt and fail.

And duh, the Pirates could use middle relievers and #4 starters, so the minor-league pitchers fill an obvious need.

So, for sure, the trade is not killing the Pirates this year or next.

And as always, more comments in the comments ...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Game 103: Padres at Pirates

Baek and Duke, starting about now.

... sounds like Marte and Nady to New York-A for half a AA team.

... Bones & Rowdy give the trade two thumbs up.

High draft picks are for Losers

The off-day Dejan Kovacevic describe the Alvarez situation in this report of his phone call with Scott Boras, a burly dude who wears black turtlenecks and expensive watches.

Boras argues that Alvarez is a can't-miss player, an elite prospect. He compares him to the best players he has represented out of the draft. (I wouldn't make comparison to J.D. Drew, if I were Boras, given the way he bungled the Philadelphia negotiations, but whatever.) Boras argues that the Pirates need to pay Alvarez a lot of money because it's a good investment for the Pirates. The Pirates, obviously, are balking at the high asking price. And they are of a mind to offer less each week that goes by without seeing Alvarez in the minor leagues getting ready for next year.

The Pirates got themselves into this situation by Losing. Littlefield avoided players like Alvarez in the draft, a plan with predictable bad results. One, the Pirates have not produced so many good players with their high draft picks, and a winning team team needs good players. So, two, the Pirates have been perpetual Losers. And three, the fans of the Pirates caught on to this cheap philosophy and have wisely demanded better from the new leadership.

Boras must know the pressure that the Pirates are under to pay what he wants for Alvarez. Here the new leadership pays a price for the incompetence of the old leadership. They are over a barrel. They have to sign this guy. They could not sign him, but this would surely perpetuate losing much more than the opportunity cost associated with overpaying for Alvarez.

The way to get out of this situation is not get into it. The truth of the matter is this. The Pirates do not want high draft picks. High draft picks are for Losers. Literally -- you have to lose a lot of games to get a draft pick capable of claiming a player like Pedro Alvarez. You lose that many games, get that high a draft pick, and then you pay the Loser's Fine to the Bad Man in the Black Turtleneck.

The Pirates need good players to stop Losing. So, obviously the way to solve the problem begins with getting the good player. Once they get the player, the next step is equally obvious: stop being such Losers. That's the only way to avoid getting into this situation again.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Game 102: Padres at Pirates

Friars come to town to match Clay Hensley up against Yoslan Herrera. Game on at 7.

Alumni autographs day. Former Bucs Grant Jackson, Barry Jones and John Smiley will sign autographs on the Riverwalk from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Bones and I met John Smiley in his rookie season. He was amused.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Game 101: Pirates at Astros

One more game on fantasy island before the Pirates come home to face the Randy Wolf-less Padres. It's a day game. Snell and Moehler will start.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Game 100: Pirates at Astros

Maholm and Cassel at 8.

I happily slept through last night's adventure. Today I was going to pack up & send in the win meter for repairs, but it looks like it buzzed to life while I was sleeping. FWIW it's humming pleasantly, perhaps because Maholm is the scheduled starter.