5 Pittsburgh Pirates That Can Walk the Plank
PNC Park BP
It's getting to be that time of year in the MLB baseball season when words like “buyers” and “sellers” start to get bandied around the league. Basically, if a team has a shot at the playoffs, they're in the former group, otherwise they're often looking to move players in exchange for future “good times” and they're of the latter.
In looking to find that special player or two that helps propel the team into the playoffs, a smart GM has to take into consideration not only what his team needs, but what they can do without. After all, you can't get somethin' for nothin'.
It may turn out later on down the road that it appears that way, and you got something for nothing -- as with the recent deal the Pittsburgh Pirates made last winter that sent closer Joel Hanrahan to the Boston Red Sox for pitchers Mark Melancon and Stolmy Pimentel, as well as infielders Ivan De Jesus and Jerry Sands (and which also allowed Jason Grill to step into the new closer role with Hanrahan's departure). But at the time, the Pirates gave up perceived value for perceived value. Hanrahan threw a few pitches for the Red Sox this season before blowing his arm out and heading home for the rest of the summer, while Melancon has been lights-out for the Pirates as the eighth inning set-up man to the equally lights-out new closer, Grilli. Add to that the continued encouraging development of Pimental and DeJesus in the minors, and you have a steal of a deal for the Bucs.
But as mentioned, when deals are made, it's pretty much perceived value for perceived value and you can never quite know exactly what you're going to get yourself until you get it. One thing a GM does know though is what he's giving up, at least based on the player's past performance with his club and what he sees on an ongoing daily basis, beyond mere statistics and numbers.
With that thought in mind, here's a list of five current players the Pirates can do without and why.
Stacey Kengal is a writer for RantSports.com covering the Pittsburgh Pirates. Follow him on Twitter @StaceyKengal, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.
When the Pirates first got Jose Tabata back in in 2008 in a trade from the New York Yankees, the 24-year-old born in Venezuela was considered a top prospect with a very high upside, an Andrew McCutchen-type upside. Tabata has talent. He can do it all, though his power numbers are never going to be what was once hoped for, the guy can play at the major league level. The question is, can he think at the major league level. A couple of injuries have slowed his development over the past two seasons, but as it stands now, he's a fourth outfielder who's now viewed by the organization as a fourth outfielder. Alex Presley, Travis Snider and Garrett Jones all rate ahead of him right now, though he still has the potential to surpass them all with a regular spot in a line-up. So, there will be some takers out there looking to build a team, and he could fetch a hefty return. With recent draft pick Josh Bell looming on the horizon, losing Tabata would not really hurt the team now or in the foreseeable future.
Tom Watson has quietly pitched very-well, though in limited quantities, for the Pirates since joining the team in 2011. In three seasons, he's logged only a total of 129 innings. Though a solid 3.75 Pirate-career ERA backs up those innings, would losing 129 innings over the next three years really affect the team? Especially with the emergence of Justin Wilson as the sixth and seventh inning guy, Watson is expendable. Teams in the market for a solid lefty who could very well step up his game and be an effective eighth inning set-up man will pay a good price for such a pitcher and Watson could be that guy.
Jeanmar Gomez is an interesting guy. The Pirates took a chance on Gomez, acquiring him in a minor trade with the Cleveland Indians last January where, with a 5.38 ERA in three prior seasons, he was less-than-spectacular. He has surprised many though with his solid pitching performance to date with the Pirates, sporting a nifty 3.07 ERA in 44 innings of work before tightness in the forearm temporarily sidelined him. His stock is high right now, and with a number of equally ranked starters waiting in the wings, the Pirates would not miss Gomez all that much.
James McDonald, aka Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, can't seem to find the consistency to be considered anything other than a project right now. Teams in a pennant race though don't have the luxury of waiting for a project to work itself out one way or another. Any team who's willing to roll the dice or has nothing to lose (but only more games) might be willing to take a flyer on J-Mac, who's had periods of top-of-the-rotation-type performances, alongside too many stretches of "what's-this-guy-doing-in-the-big-leagues-anyway"? And with the recent emergence of Gerrit Cole, McDonald falls even further on the Pirates' depth chart.
With Jordy Mercer taking over at shortstop, there is little place on the roster for Barmes other than utility infielder. But without the stick, Barmes' value there is limited. Essentially a defensive specialist, the Pirates need more of a bat off the bench than glove in the pinch. Finding any takers at this stage of Barmes' career though may be tough. Still, a team looking for a veteran starting all-field no-hit shortstop to hold down the position while a younger player develops behind him might be interested.
So there you have it. Five Pirates that can walk the plank. Expendable trade bait. What can be gotten for them is anybody's guess right now. And since I'm anybody, I can guess.
A right-handed power stick would be nice. Most of the power for the Pirates comes from the left-side of the plate. Someone like a Marlon Byrd perhaps. A top of the list shortstop would be nice also. Mercer has taken the job from Barmes, but it was never projected for him to be a starter. Kudos to Mercer for taking his opportunity and running with it, but if a Jimmy Rollins became available for any combination of the above players, the Pirates would be wise to jump on the deal.