Saturday, December 12, 2015

Charlie Morton: Off to Philly as the Rebuild Continues

Ground Chuck was a lot of things; electric, frustrating, jinxed, introspective and injured all come to mind. Unfortunately for all parties concerned, consistent wasn't among those things. So Charlie Morton and his $8M deal (with a $1M buyout in 2017) have been shipped to the Phillies for David Whitehead, a 23 year old righty that looks from his resume to likely provide organizational depth; he'll start at Altoona.

Charlie Morton (photo Dave Arrigo/Pirates)
A plain and simple salary dump? Well, we're sure the FO would prefer you look at it as asset reallocation - enter stage right Jon Niese and his $9M salary; exit stage left Charlie and his $8M hit. The back end of the rotation was a train wreck last year, and we see this as a somewhat convoluted Niese-for-Morton swap to fill the #4 spot in the rotation.

That theory will be put to the test. If the Bucs get a true mid-rotation guy either through the market or a trade, then we'll know there was a method to their madness. We'd like to see them come up with a reclamation project to challenge Jeff Locke for the five hole in addition to a proven guy to plug in the middle. So in our eyes, they're two pitchers shy of a load today. Clint Hurdle told Rob Biertempfel of the Trib that "We'll definitely go look at another pitcher or two. We have a plan."

Keep in mind that the future of the staff is likely a year away, with Tyler Glasnow, Jameson Taillon, Nick Kingham and company all slated to toss for Indy sometime this year. They all project to be minimally mid-rotation guys, while other pitchers like Trevor Williams and Steven Brault could step up to become back-end candidates.

So goodbye, Charlie. We wish you luck in Philly, and hope that the FO's blueprint to transition the pitching staff takes root this season and isn't short-changed into 2017.


WilliamJPellas said...

The guy who will probably give Locke a run for his money as the fifth starter is Whatsisface, that indy-league righthander they signed a few weeks ago. I read somewhere that he was rated the fifth best prospect in all of the independent minor leagues---a sort-of lefthanded compliment, I suppose, but still.

Ron Ieraci said...

Nope, Will, won't be Patrick Johnson - the Marlins took him in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft; guess Jim Benedict knew a little something about him.

WilliamJPellas said...

Wow, I missed that. Yeah, I would guess that Benedict might have known about Johnson and about the Pirates' interest in him before he (Benedict) left for Miami. Yoikes, did that come back to bite the Bucs. I wonder what sort of rules, if any, MLB has in place about this sort of thing. I guess it would be really difficult, if not impossible, to police borderline tampering moves like this, though of course the knife cuts both ways: I am sure that Neal Huntington was able to take advantage of his knowledge of the Indians organization and of Cleveland's "intel" on other teams when he came to Pittsburgh. Etc and so forth.

Ron Ieraci said...

No prob here from the Marlin's picking Benedict's mind; that's why he gets the big check. I read that Johnson may have a shot (as, in justice, do about a zillion other guys) at breaking camp as the Fish' fifth starter, so he must have shown something last year, indy league or not. The hiding him on Altoona's roster ploy didn't work, lol. I kinda look for Trevor Williams to compete, tho I'm guessing a rebuild guy is on the horizon to hold hands with Jeff Locke at the back end.