Pirates fans, like all baseball fans, are obligated to obtain their information second-hand, mostly by repeating the same ideas that are spewed on the radio by talking heads that may know very little about baseball. So as a creative thinking exercise for our loyal and well-informed TPOP readers, I’ll list a couple points and counterpoints:
“We should trade M e l a n c o n Watson for a good return”
What was the best offseason move of 2014-15? Definitely the trade of Justin Wilson for Francisco Cervelli. Are the Yankees total idiots to give us the best pitch framer in baseball who also is a plus hitting and plus baserunning catcher? No. First, Cervelli has had an injury history and only had two years of control. But more relevant to this point, Justin Wilson was a good relief pitcher with four seasons of cheap control. Justin Wilson had 1.5 WAR in 2015 and was a great investment for the Yankees’ backup catcher.
The Justin Wilson trade should tell you that while trading Mark Melancon and his $9M-10M contract might bring a B prospect or a lottery ticket reliever, a Tony Watson trade would bring a haul.
Craig Kimbrel brought a huge return since he is under control for three more years. Watson is controlled for two years and is drastically underpaid, in comparison to the going rates for relievers on the free agent market. Melancon will probably be paid what he’s worth in 2016 and would need to stay if Watson would be dealt.
You want to add some stud arms to AA or a stud AAA catcher if you think Elias Diaz or Reese McGuire won’t hit enough to be a starter? Then deal Watson and not Melancon.
Mid-season pitching promotion no one is talking about
Speaking of Tony Watson, he was a very unheralded midseason promotion back in 2011. He came up after the Super Two deadline in 2011 and pitched 41 decent innings. Those innings allowed Huntington to fill a void in-house and didn’t cost the Pirates an extra year of control.
The mid-season pitching prospect promotion that no one is talking about is Chad Kuhl. Kuhl will be in the Indianapolis starting rotation with his more heralded AAA teammates Jameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow, but will be a reliever in the show. He only really has two pitches (a sinker and a fastball that hits 97), but he locates them both very well.
Kuhl and his great control and good stuff, combined with Cervelli’s pitch framing, could prevent Huntington for dealing for a reliever at the trade deadline.
“We need to extend - - C e r v e l l i - - Stewart”
Francisco Cervelli might have been the most valuable Pirate last season for the reasons that were mentioned above. He also has endeared himself to Yinzer Nation by being an emotional leader and his dreamy good looks which has landed him many beautiful girlfriends.
The talking heads have advocated extending Cervelli since he’s been SOOO good and seems loved by the pitching staff. This isn’t a terrible idea, as the Pirates do have some leverage with Cervelli since he does have that injury history and he’ll only make $3M this year. A 4yr/$32M with an option for a fifth would probably get him signed tomorrow and would be much less than comparable catchers: McCann, Martin, Molina, Wieters, etc.
But what about Chris Stewart ? He’s no All-Star but he’s a solid backup, good pitch framer and a locker room favorite. He is Gerrit Cole’s favorite receiver and is only controlled for one more year at approximately $2M. A 3yr/$8M contract would provide a cheap reliable backup and would buffer against Cervelli leaving after 2016 or the aforementioned Diaz or McGuire busting. It would give the 33-year old Stewart his golden parachute into his coaching career.