OT: Raise the Jolly Roger: Spring [training] is here!

Discussion in 'Pittsburgh Penguins' started by Scandale du Jour, Feb 21, 2021.

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  1. Scandale du Jour JordanStaal#1Fan

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    Continue! :)
     
  2. Scandale du Jour JordanStaal#1Fan

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    Oh... and a friendly reminder:

    Warning: If you do not want to discuss the Pirates, don't. Do not come in here and judge the people that do follow the team. Some of us still follow them even if ownership sucks... and we know it sucks. No need to discuss it ad nauseam.. especially if you do not follow the team. We respect your choice, respect ours.
     
  3. Jacob as seen on TV

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    Don’t follow baseball closely but didn’t they trade Bell a little prematurely evem for them?
     
  4. DJ Spinoza Registered User

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    I should have known better than to dump two long prospect / roster preview posts at the tail end of the other thread!

    The Bell trade is a complex one, since his value was lower than it probably once was, but if we kept him and he struggled, even for just a month or so, his value probably tanks completely. If anything, the timing of the trade looks like we lucked out a bit, since there was still a guess that the NL would have a DH when we moved him.

    It's possible that the trade could look bad if Bell rebounds, but his die seems to be cast as an MLB player at this point. He hasn't been able to consistently put hitting and power together, and definitely not enough to make up for what he subtracts defensively. Cynically, I think there was definitely a component of shedding his salary that factored in, but I also think from a baseball perspective, the chances of getting a better return on him at some point were very low.
     
  5. DocEmrickSkitters Registered User

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  6. DJ Spinoza Registered User

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    I forgot to mention a somewhat cynical thought I also had in relation to Bell, namely that his value might be even dicier given the likelihood of a lockout next year. I guess contracts could somehow be deferred or something in that case, but it also occurred to me when thinking about the timing. I think there's a pretty strong chance of serous work stoppage, though who knows. With how erratic things have become due to the pandemic, you'd like to think that they might want to get down to business and finally have a normal season by then.



    This was also getting some attention, and while these platitudes are fine as they go (it's still GM-speak, and maybe more elaborate than usual and vaguely more direct), I still am not holding my breath. Step #1 would be investing in young core players, and I would really like to see him pressed on the timing of a payroll increase. It's one thing to say you need to add talent, but at some point you also have to be confident in the talent that you are developing and add to complement it, maybe prior to it fully showing up.

    The comparison with the Padres is somewhat telling in this regard, since you'd be hard pressed to sell anyone on the idea that we'd make an investment in a deal similar to what Hosmer got. Cherington does still have a little bit of time, but after the dust settles one of the biggest questions I have is whether he'll add in anticipation of the 2022 or at least 2023 team, given that year as when the wave is anticipated to really arrive.
     
  7. Scandale du Jour JordanStaal#1Fan

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    Well, it was GM speak, but it did have substance.... and most importantly it made total sense. He even said it might be oversimplifying things... but the best solutions/strategies are usually simple and success lies in the execution. I feel like Cherington said that too.

    So, yeah, it is kinda cliché, but it is also true. Maybe I am naive, but it at least tells me they are trying to do the right things. Now, will they succeed... we'll see ;)
     
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  8. Gallatin A Banksy of Goonism

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    He basically told the truth, right? I mean, isn't this exactly what we all want him to do? build a strong base of homegrown talent, and then make the moves necessary to develop a champion?
     
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  9. Scandale du Jour JordanStaal#1Fan

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    My feelings exactly.
     
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  10. Empoleon8771 I apparently hit on people through PMs

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    Yeah, that's exactly what the Pirates SHOULD be doing. Don't waste money when your team sucks and then start investing in the team when they're good, and keep going in that kind of cycle. The issue is whether Nutting would actually spend enough money when they're competitive. He didn't really do that when they were competitive from 2013-2017, he did spend more (usually hovering between $80 and $95 million for payroll) but that wasn't to a level high enough for this team to be a contender.

    I'd be completely happy with Nutting going for a bare bones salary structure when the team was bad if I was confident that he'd spend $150 million for 3 years when the team was good.
     
  11. DJ Spinoza Registered User

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    The main reason I was poking at it is not really because I disagree with him, but more because all he is really saying is "get good players, make sure they are good players, and then we'll spend." But even the references to spending are pretty vague, so I'm just skeptical at this point. If you want to ready what he says really cynically, he doesn't even make a vague commitment to spending when the team is better - he keeps saying "add back" talent. That could easily translate into, "we have a good prospect system so we can trade for guys on affordable contracts."

    I don't want to take it too far, even if I'm still very much in a wait and see mode. There's a whole can of worms about salary cap and floor that I don't mean to open up. Ultimately, my view is that you need to spend adequately in order to give yourself a sold chance to win. The winning teams that tore down and added/developed a bunch of value, namely Chicago and Houston, also spent, and the same will be said about San Diego if they are successful.

    Concretely, I think the best we can probably hope for is that the payroll will go north of 100 million for a span of three or four years rather than just one or two, and ideally the system will be strong enough to sustain re-toolings without full tear downs. We don't quite know what sustained success looks like, outside of perhaps Houston and I suppose the Yankees and Dodgers. In Pittsburgh, winning it all or getting reasonably deep into the playoffs will probably go a long way. I think the structure of the baseball playoffs makes it such that you can't do any more than put a good team on the field and hope for the best come playoff time.

    This will probably rub some people the wrong way, but I don't really think a team like Tampa Bay is a model to imitate. They produce good talent, but that organization is ultimately a shining example of a lot of what's wrong with MLB today: maximizing efficiency like a McKinsey consultant, and then not pushing the chips in due to a bottom line. They got really close and then spent the offseason tearing down their roster. They could have easily kept Morton and Snell and added a little bit in a down market to go for it again.

    Obviously, continuing to produce cheap young players from within is a cornerstone to success in MLB, and a part of that story is indeed the kinds of trades that Tampa often pulls off best, where they turn their pitchers into more good young players. But I think at the end of the day, what the recent several years in baseball show is that you can't fully try to emulate and copy other teams. You have to do what others have done to have success and also put your own stamp and twist on it that's right for your situation, and plays to the strengths you develop. I'm probably no less guilty of oversimplifying or generalizing, so again I'll reiterate that I don't fully have a problem with what Cherington is saying, but I'm skeptical there will be a sustainable winner built that doesn't push the 2022 or 2023 payroll much higher than what I anticipate it being.
     
  12. DJ Spinoza Registered User

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    Last edited: Feb 22, 2021
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  13. DocEmrickSkitters Registered User

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    Since this is in the realm of a discussion about finances again, I'll say a couple of brief things in defense of (barf) Bob Nutting.

    First is that they did spend over $100M from '13-'16. Or at least intended to. Potentially dumping the Liriano contract made '16 <$100M on payroll.

    Second is that the Pirates aren't really maximizing revenues from PNC Park. Even when they had their up-cycle they had some of the lowest ticket prices in the league. Maybe this time they'll do a better job of it. I dunno. Also supposedly their ATTSN contract is now more lucrative but who knows with that. When I was in Chicago and the Cubs started winning, you couldn't find a single seat at Wrigley under $100. Pirates you'd still see $20 seats all over the place.

    Lastly I do think that the Steelers and Penguins will be on the downsides of their respective runs by then, so perhaps the finite amount of sports time and investment from the small-market Pittsburgh fanbase will slide the Pirates' way.

    Edit: this relates to the Rays too. The city of Tampa never gave them any love. I'm not going to feel bad that the team decided to show its fanbase a similar level of investment.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2021
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  14. DJ Spinoza Registered User

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    Thos are fair points for sure, I'm just not going to hold my breath on any real changes until we see the proof in actions. If we want to be sustainably good, eventually we're going to have to break through a few walls, so to speak - in signing solid FAs at market value, extending some of the developed talent long-term, and not culling back. I think the latter is probably my biggest point of skepticism, but we'll see. Still a ways to go before we can start asking these questions again.

    Rocker's control ending up leaving him in the 5th and he was pulled for pitch count reasons. Solid performance, especially given that he was meant to start Friday but the game got moved to today. FB/SL both very good, mixing in some CH and a new cutter as well. Leiter will pitch game two of the doubleheader today.
     
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  15. DocEmrickSkitters Registered User

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    You are right that Nutting has to prove it to all of us. We're right to call him out for that. He hasn't proven it yet.

    I think some of your calling for Hayes to be extended is really rooted in that thinking. Prove it, Bobbo.
     
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  16. DJ Spinoza Registered User

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    Leiter evidently pumped triple digits fastballs in the first inning according to the stadium gun. Locating 96-101 heat.

     
  17. DocEmrickSkitters Registered User

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    Oh lord.

    Tiebreakers?

    Leiter better secondary stuff. Rocker more downward plane and lower injury risk?
     
  18. xlm34 Registered User

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    I love Rocker’s attitude. He’s got swagger that the Pirates desperately need. I recognize that that’s waaay down the list of things to look for but if they truly are neck and neck it’d tip the scales for me.
     
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  19. DocEmrickSkitters Registered User

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    It makes sense.

    +Height helps. Downward plane helps. Size helps too. Cole was TJ-proof and maybe with Rocker's sheer size he would also avoid going under the knife.
     
  20. Gallatin A Banksy of Goonism

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  21. DJ Spinoza Registered User

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    If Leiter can consistently live around 95-96, I think that ultimately may tip the scales a bit, but we still have to see. Leiter has been able to get up to the mid-90s before, but I think in his freshman year he sat more around 91-92. The most impressive thing with Leiter for me was probably how much command he had on the fastball, especially up in the zone where he totally dominated. If he does that, he's more of a total package with the two offspeed pitches, but we have to see how Rocker's cutter and change are looking as well.

    Rocker dominated today until his control seemed to go in the final inning and he missed with 8 straight fastballs. Overall though, a win-win day. I think the best case scenario for us is that Rocker and Leiter are pretty neck and neck in order to make it a hard choice between them.

    It's sort of funny, because one of Rocker's knocks is lack of projectability, but you can basically same the same generic thing about Leiter, since his frame is smaller. Hill is the more projectable of the three, but my sense is that for 1.1 prospects, Rocker and Leiter are the best of the group. We want them to keep rivaling each other. More than frame, Rocker's question mark is probably command. He was pretty solid in that regard, and as we can see, some of his game is just overpowering and dominating others. He makes hitters look silly, but for me the operative queston will be if there's more impressive things under the hood with Leiter, so to speak.
     
  22. DJ Spinoza Registered User

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    Thought this was a good, succinct summary from prospect hound Joe Doyle: Examining Kumar Rocker v. Jack Leiter after Monday — Prospects Live

    It's a nice start, but ultimately just that. Both have a lot more innings to showcase their stuff between now and the draft. I think what tempts me the most with Leiter is that he has a higher floor. Unless his fastball somehow tanks, he has the profile of a strong front of rotation guy, maybe more of a solid #3 if it really comes to it. But looking at his ability to command the pitch, and sit around 95, and I see someone with a really strong path to true FOR anchor.

    With Rocker, it seems like worst case scenario is something like high leverage reliever, since presumably that would guarantee the FB velocity holds and the slider alone is enough. His cutter looked pretty good in the clips I saw. The changeup being a work in progress isn't exactly a disastrous, and maybe it'll flash average at times this year.

    I think the bar should be pretty high (and hence can't be answered till we get more new data), but ultimately I lean towards the allusion Doyle makes towards the end there that a choice will come down to the eye of the beholder. It's also generally worth pumping the brakes somewhat, as it's almost always the case that a decent amount can change between now and the draft. I'd ballpark both of them in the top 25-50 range of MLB prospects right now, but it's feasible that one or both could be pushing top 15-20 by draft time if their performances from today and repeated/expanded upon. From my perspective, that's exactly what we want, and BC and the scouts can make their choice.
     
  23. DocEmrickSkitters Registered User

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    I just look at the high effort delivery that Leiter has to get such good stuff and I think "arm problems." I don't have the same level of concern with Rocker.

    That has to count for something.

    In a way it's better that Rocker isn't throwing like 102 because then you'd think the arm issues would be inevitable, like they were with Strasburg.
     
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  24. DJ Spinoza Registered User

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    I don't quite have the same read. Leiter looks like there's a lot of effort going on because his body has a lot of follow through, but the actual arm action is short and repeatable. The comp I've seen that convinces me is Giolito.

    That said, it's a good point about Rocker and injuries. My question with him comes down to whether his command will leave him too much or not. I don't put a ton of stock into the end of today's game, as this start was pushed from Friday and he wasn't going to throw a lot of pitches anyways. With his approach, some wildness is fine, but it's more a question of how often it shows up, whether he's missing spots consistently even if the results are still there, etc. The kind of thing that can't be said for sure until we have at last 4-5 more samples of starts for sure.

    The extent of my posting about it probably betrays that I'm starting to lean more and more towards Leiter, but really, I'm not sure I'll have a firm take just from clips and results this year, and I hope the decision will get more and more difficult. I think there's something to the kind of bullying mound presence, and today's the first day I've really noticed Leiter overpowering people in the same way. If Rocker is consistent and the cutter or change flash like they could develop into plus pitches, then it's going to be a coin flip for me.
     
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  25. DJ Spinoza Registered User

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    For anyone who wants to dive further into the draft head-on, including beyond our Rocker-Leiter discussions and even beyond pick 1.1 discussions in general, TDK Baseball/Pirates Analytics dropped this long piece this morning: Scouting: Notes and Observations from the First Week of College Baseball – TDK Baseball

    Still working through it, with fingers crossed that we may also get Longenhagen's full Pirates list today (it's next up, so it's coming this week no matter what, I think).
     

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