Tuesday, January 27, 2015

No Rumor: Lunchbox Hero on the Oriole Menu...

Edit - The Pirates acquired LHP Stephen Tarpley & a player to be named from the Orioles in exchange for OF Travis Snider. The 21-year-old Tarpley spent the entire 2014 season w/ Aberdeen in the NYPL and went 3-5 with a 3.68 ERA and 60 Ks in 13 games (12 starts).

Per Baseball America (behind a subscription wall & reported by MLB Trade Rumors) "Tarpley has the stuff to start, with a 90-92 mph fastball that touches 96 at times in addition to a curveball and changeup. He previously had a slider in his arsenal as well, though the Orioles opted to scrap that pitch so he could focus on his change, per BA. MLB.com praised him as an arm with upside, touting not only solid curveball and a changeup that shows potential, but also his pitchability and size."

We'll wait until the PTBNL is named to weigh the deal.

Travis Snider's deal shouldn't be a shocker; the O's needed a lefty OF'er with a little bop, and the Bucs have Andrew Lambo sitting around. In fact, Snider-for-Brian Matusz was one of the few baseball meeting rumors generated by the Pirates' FO, but the Antonio Bastardo deal squelched the need for a bridge lefty and the talks.

Travis Snider - Baltimore Bound? (credit: Charles LeClaire/USAToday Sports)
Pittsburgh is moving a guy at high tide, more or less - Lunchbox Hero had a decent year, getting into 140 games with 390 PAs, putting up a slash of .264/.338/.438 with 13 homers and 38 runs batted in. It's true that Lambo has two more options to go to Indy, but he is 26 and doesn't have much left to prove in AAA, where last year he hit .328 with 11 bombs and 42 RBI in 260 plate appearances. He also has been lightly groomed to play first base, which could be an open position in 2016. Lambo is under team control through 2020, which plays into the equation.

The Pirates have pretty strong organizational depth in the OF. Ol' bud Jose Tabata is still around (and will be through 2016) and Jaff Decker is probably a competent bench option, while Willie Garcia and Josh Bell are comin' hard, though Bell is likely the post-Pedro answer at first base. Even Gorkys Hernandez is back in the system, a guy that can fly and glove with the best.

On the ML roster, Josh Harrison and Corey Hart have both been corner outfielders, too, so that shelf is stocked high and wide.

Could it backfire? Sure. First off, Snider could turn into Steve Pearce or Brandon Moss. And it does weaken the outfield depth a bit. Cutch is a rock in center. Even with his achy ribs, he was in 146 ballgames - and that was the fewest he played since his rookie season in 2009.

But Snider was the wild card when the league passed around the book on Gregory Polanco, and that safety net is now gone. And one never knows when Starling Marte is gonna take one for the team that lands him on the DL, (for various reasons, he's never topped 135 games in a season) so depth is big part of the 2015 outfield construction as the fourth man is in play.

But the FO seems confident they have that depth. After many years of wandering through the wilderness, players actually have to earn a spot on the roster, and that makes some guys expendable. The team is deep in outfielders and pitching, so don't be surprised if the Bucs move some more players on the fringes to restock the system.

And they won't be trading bubble players for other pine riders. The discussed take from Baltimore is said to be a minor league player or two from the AA or even A ranks. The FO is looking to keep the system stocked at each level with guys that are young and hopefully can be coached up to snuff. So it begins...

No comments: