Thursday, October 30, 2008

Give-Away Day

The Royals acquired first baseman Mike Jacobs from the Florida Marlins for RHP Leo Nuñez today.

You may remember Núñez. He was originally signed by the Pirates on February 16, 2000. Four seasons later, Núñez was traded to the Kansas City Royals for catcher Benito Santiago. Benito was released in May after playing 6 games for Pittsburgh, and was out of baseball by July.

Núñez was converted from a starter to the pen by KC, and last year the 25-year old was 4-1 with a 2.98 ERA in 45 games. To boot, he's not even eligible for arbitration yet, and is making just $405,000.

And the Royals just flipped him for a LH first sacker that hit 32 home runs.

And hey, do you remember San Diego starter Chris Young from his Pirate days? No? He was selected by the Pirates in the third round of the 2000 draft, and the Bucs sent him to Montreal for Matt Herges. Then they cut Herges at the end of camp.

The 6'-10" RHP has a record of 42-28 in 117 starts since then, with a 3.72 ERA and pitched in an All-Star game.

How about Jeff Keppinger? He was drafted by the Pirates in the 4th round of the 2001 draft. At the 2004 trading deadline, he was traded to the Mets as part of the Kris Benson for Ty Wigginton trade.

Keppinger is with the Reds now, and in 4 big-league season, he's put up a .287 average. A bit better than Brian Bixler, hey?

Then there's the case of Jeff Bennett. He was drafted by the Pirates in the 19th round of the 1998 draft and lost to the Brew Crew in the 2003 Rule 5 draft. The RHP has been in 75 games for Atlanta in the last two years, with a 5-8-3 record and 3.68 ERA, mostly out of the bullpen.

Duaner Sanchez was booted from the 40-man roster in 2003 and claimed by the Dodgers. The RHP has appeared in 276 games in six seasons since then, with an 18-10-8 line and 3.91 ERA.

We can even take a trip in the way-back machine to remind Bucco fans that Bip Roberts was once was Pirate property. He was drafted by the Pirates in the 1st round (13th pick) of the 1982 draft, and San Diego nabbed him through the Rule 5 draft in 1985.

In 12 years, the second sacker has a .294 average, and teams are still lining up for his services.

Now the point of this isn't that Pittsburgh has lost a bevy of All-Stars through giveaways, although Dave Littlefield did make an art form of it. With the buzz about who the Bucs are waiving and the upcoming decisions on whom to protect on the 40-man roster, its just a cautionary tale.

Through Rule 5, throw-ins to major deals, poorly thought out trades, and waivers, the Pirates have seen some of their home-grown talent blossom on other clubs. A minor league system can be devasted by bad decisions as easily as by bad drafts.

(This, of course, doesn't include dealing Jason Schmidt, Aramis Ramirez, etc. They knew what they had with them, and just elected to not pay them. Look no further than the 1992 Pirates to see what penny-pinching gets a team. But that's a post for another day)

The lesson is don't give your young major league players away. There are a couple of big names - and we're sure more, if we dug around - and a few MLB capable ballers on the list. The most important club to scout is your own. We hope Neal Huntington understands that.

Tomorrow: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly - Pirate trades.


WilliamJPellas said...

Jacobs is not a worldbeater, but getting him for a decent-but-definitely-not-great part time starting pitcher is a strong move by the Royals.

Ron Ieraci said...

Value for value, Will - and Pittsburgh didn't get any when they let him go. KC did.

WilliamJPellas said...

Yep. That's the bottom line. When even the sadsack Royals are doing a better job maximizing their assets than you are doing (or at least, than you have been doing)....

Yoi and double yoi.