Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday Squibblers

> Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports wrote that "the Dodgers backed off their pursuit of shortstop Jack Wilson after the Pirates asked for shortstop Chin-Lung Hu, outfielder Delwyn Young and a third player.

Well, there's a reason the Pirates asked for a third player, according to a major-league source. The Dodgers wanted the Pirates to include cash that would help defray Wilson's $7.25 million salary next season and $8.4 million club option or $600,000 buyout for 2010.

The Pirates did not rule out the idea, but wanted an additional prospect for their money, a player whom they essentially would buy from the Dodgers. The better the prospect, the greater the amount the Pirates would pay."

We think Hu and Young aren't much of a return, anyway. We don't know what Neal Huntington sees in the Dodger system. Like the Bucs, many of their hot prospects are already on the 25-man roster.

> MLB Trade Rumors reports that John Perretto in his Baseball Prospectus column says that the Tigers are still looking to land Matt Treanor from the Marlins, and that tells us all we need to know about Detroit's feelings towards Ronny Paulino. So any Motown deal for Jack Splat won't be huge; maybe him, a reliever or prospect, and cash for a couple of up-and-comers.

The Tigers are trying to sign Joe Biemel, old Bucco and Dodger, and that could affect what they're looking for from Pittsburgh.

> Earlier in the week, Pirate GM Neal Huntington had a Q&A session with fans. A couple of points form his discussion:

On the trade returns for Bay, Nady, and Marte - "We acknowledged from the outset that not all eight players would live up to expectations, but we need to caution against jumping to quick judgments (positive or negative). We did not make the trades looking for immediate returns; rather we made the trades to positively impact the quality and depth of our system currently and in the future."

It was pretty obvious in the Nady/Marte deal that the Pirates were addressing a crying need to get some competent pitching for the back end of the rotation and Indy. They rolled the dice on the Bay deal. They hoped that Brandon Moss and Andy LaRoche would be everyday players, with Bryan Morris and Craig Hansen eventually developing. The deals were all about organizational depth and future returns.

On the third base logjam: "As an organization, we will be closer to our goals when we have multiple players at various positions throughout our farm system that we believe will become Major League players."

And we have no beef with that - solid organizations thrive off of competition and depth. Good players are like like money in the bank - the more you have, the more you get.

> 29-year old catcher J.R. House agreed to a split major league/minor league with the Kansas City Royals. House was with the Astros last year, and once upon a time was the heir apparent in Pittsburgh to Jason Kendall. And you may recall, he quit baseball briefly to become quarterback at WVU.

He's played in the bigs for the Pirates, Orioles and Astros in 32 games, going 10-for-60 (.167) with 3 homers. House has played in 817 minor league games with a .310 average, 108 homers and 509 RBIs. J.R. has been hampered by shoulder problems throughout his career.

> Midnight Monday is the deadline to offer arbitration. The Pirates have ten players eligible, including Adam LaRoche, John Grabow, Nate McLouth, Ryan Doumit, and Paul Maholm.

Expect to see the free agent market heat up at the winter meetings on December 8th after arbitration is sorted out and the players can sign with other teams. The potential FAs have until December 7th to accept or reject the deal.

Arbitration for free agents is a different horse than service-time arbitration. Usually only the top guns - those rated A or B type free agents - are considered for arb by their teams because they get a draft pick or two back if they sign with another club.

Unlike service-time arbitration cases, FAs can reject the offer, and usually do. Of course, the player may accept arbitration, and then the team is looking at picking up a fat contract for another year, so it's double-edged.

Service-time arbitration has to be offered by December 12th to players with 4-6 years in the show that aren't under contract.


WilliamJPellas said...

Looks like you were right on it, Ron. The Dodgers seem determined to send every four-A player in their farm system to Pittsburgh. That sure wasn't much of a return they offered in the Jack Wilson talks. No, thanks.

Meanwhile, Detroit obviously doesn't want Paulino. Again, that surprises me more than a little, since his game might play better in the offensive-minded American League than it does in the NL. But, whatever. There's always the chance Ryan Doumit could get hurt again, in which case Paulino is good depth.

Ron Ieraci said...

You know, Will, that AAAA label is what struck me about the names in the deal, too. They must be desperate to unload Wilson; it's looking more and more like a salary dump to me every day.

WilliamJPellas said...

There are salary dumps and there are SALARY DUMPS, seems to me! ;-) Aramis Ramirez was a dump in blazing neon capital letters. Perhaps the blackest day in modern Pirates history. Trading Jack Wilson for a bag of beans would not be a treat for the taste buds, but it wouldn't be anywhere near as bitter as losing Ramirez was.

Ramirez is one of the better players of his generation at his position. Jack Wilson is a very good fielder who was a great fielder in his prime; however, except for a couple of peak years, he's generally average for his position with the bat. Since he doesn't steal bases, he's not really a "plus" player at short most seasons. So, Jack is better than average relative to his peers, while Ramirez is at or near the top of the heap. Therefore the two situations are really apples and oranges, I think. That's why I won't scream too loudly if/when Wilson is finally traded, as long as we get a halfway intriguing couple of prospects.

Again, though, we had better have someone who is at least serviceable to take his place. And no, I don't mean Luis Cruz. (Who?!?) I certainly don't mean Brian Bixler. We'll have to go outside the organization for a scrapheap guy to be a placeholder for a year or two.

I'll miss Jack and believe he never got credit for his overall contributions in Pittsburgh (though the start of last season sure showed how valuable he is). But a better than average veteran shortstop is a luxury for a team like the Pirates. Better to send him on his way to a contender.

Ron Ieraci said...

Point well taken, Will. But if the ilk of Hu and Young are his return, I fail to see what help if provides the organization other than saving a few bucks. It certainly doesn't improve the system very much.
Detroit has a couple of prospects that are interesting and much more upside than LA. So we'll see if Huntington can pry one or two of them loose.
Right now, that about looks like his market, though we'll see what happens when Furcal, Renteria, and Cabrera find new homes.