Huntington Gives Pirates Hope

July 29, 2009 at 11:40 pm 2 comments

Tim Alderson

Pittsburgh Pirates GM Neal Huntington pulled off two trades today that, for the first time in a long time, makes the team look like they actually know what they are doing. All he did was shed a bunch of payroll from overrated players and recieved a ton of prospects in return, highlighted by one of my favorite prospects, starter Tim Alderson, and it is not the first smart move Huntington has made since he took over in 2008.

The Pirates traded Jack Wilson and Ian Snell to the Mariners for Jeff Clement, Ronny Cedeno, Aaron Pribanic, Brett Lorin, and Nathan Adcock. This trade freed up $10.25M in 2009, and at least $4.85M in 2010; $12.65M if Wilson’s option is exercised. Snell also has two club options, one in 2011 for $6.75M and one in 2012 for $9.25M.

They also traded Freddy Sanchez to the Giants for Alderson which freed up $8M in 2009 if his option vests (which is highly likely).

The Pirates cleared over $18M in 2009 contracts in one day and recieved six players in return, one non-prospect and five prospects.

The prize of the trades is Alderson. He stands a tall 6’6” and about 215-220 pounds. He has a 90-94 mph fastball, a curve that is already plus, and a developing change to go along with his already above-average command and control. He is only 20 years old and has already pitched in Double-A. His career numbers in the minors are: 20-6 with a 3.07 ERA and 202 strikeouts against only 51 walks in 249 innings. Alderson still has room to add velocity in his frame and has top of the rotation ability.

The Pirates also recieved Jeff Clement, who can fake catcher but is more likely to play first base. He owns a career minor league stat line of .286/.374/.497 and is currently hitting .288/.366/.505 with 14 homers in 372 at-bats. He could come up and play first base and be the back-up catcher immediately for the Pirates.

Here is a report from Dave Cameron on the three pitchers the M’s gave up for Wilson and Snell:

It’s the three pitchers that the team gave up that pushes the deal in Pittsburgh’s favor. Pribanic and Lorin were the teams 4th and 5th round picks in 2008, and both had impressed in their first year as professionals.

Pribanic’s an extreme groundball guy who throws strikes but lacks an out-pitch, so he profiles as a #5 starter or a good reliever. If his breaking ball improves, he could beat that upside, though.

Lorin’s a good command guy with a nice breaking ball and an average fastball, plus some projectability as a big guy (6’7/250) who hasn’t had much experience on the mound. If he adds a couple of MPH to his fastball, he could be a mid-rotation starter.

Adcock had struggled of late with his command, but as a 21-year-old with a decent fastball-curveball combination and the ability to get groundballs, he’s also an interesting arm. Getting him out of High Desert should give Pittsburgh a better idea of where he stands right now.

They’re all just decent pitching prospects instead of good ones, so the M’s gave up quantity over quality, but the old cliche about building a rotation by getting a ton of arms and seeing who sticks is really true. The M’s had done a good job of collecting an inventory of decent arms, and they just depleted that fairly heavily, while also giving up a LH power bat, for two guys with marginal value.

Let’s not forget that Huntington recieved Lastings Milledge and Joel Hanrahan for Nyjer Morgan and Sean Burnett, Argenis Diaz and Hunter Strickland for Adam Laroche, and saved about $3M this year, Casey Erickson and Eric Fryer for Erik Hinske, Gorkys Hernandez, Charlie Morton, and Jeff Locke for Nate McLouth, freeing $4.5M in 2010, $6.5M in 2011, and a $10.65M club option ($1.25M buyout) in 2012. He also got Tyler Yates and Delwyn Young for nothing. The only mistake he has made is holding on to Jason Bay for too long and getting a lesser package in return.

Neal Huntington has done a great job as the Pirates GM this year, not to mention he got Jose Tabata last year for Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte, clearing even more payroll.

These deals are not just about clearing payroll but about getting great value in return while clearing payroll that he can stash away and spend at the right time. All Huntington has to do now is develop the young talent he has recieved in trade and drafted the past two years and decide when the right time is to spend the saved money. Huntington knows it takes time to turn a ship around but he is doing it correctly and making wonderful time. The right time to spend and contend might come as soon as 2011 thanks to his brilliant moves.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. mike mcginnis  |  August 15, 2009 at 11:55 am

    i was told very bluntl recently by a group of pirate fans that management sees the bucs as a product that is an alternative to having families go to the movies in pittsburgh. doesn’t exactly inspire you to think optimistically about this club. but, yes, for once you and i like the moves the pirates have made. but, still this team has been marred by awful trades and even worse scouting for years and that part of the equation has to change if this team has any notions of competing. we all know the deal with this ballpark they play in too. you need strong lefthanded pitching and power lefty bats. it will be interesting to see the pirates and where they sit in two years

  • 2. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  August 18, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    I think this team is finally in the right direction. It will take at least two years but I like the potential rotation and lineup they could have in 2-3 years.


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