Saturday, January 5, 2013

Summing Up the Pirates Offseason So Far

I've been relatively quiet about the Pirates' offseason on this blog.  With January upon us and the Pirates' estimated 2013 Opening Day Payroll at $66.5M, it seems as if the Pirates' major moves are done.  The Pirates made three major moves so far:

1.  Signed Russell Martin to a 2 year/$17M deal.  The Mayans may have been wrong, but a sign of a future apocalypse may be that the Pirates outbid the Yankees for Martin's services.  The 2 year deal tells me that the Pirates are hedging their bets on Tony Sanchez being a full-time starter, which is disappointing.  Martin's $8.5M average annual value is steep, but if he is a 1.5-2.0 WAR player it's worth it.  His defense should be an upgrade over Rod Barajas and he is more athletic.  The offense may be a push, as Martin's power will drop from New Yankee Stadium to PNC Park.

2.  Signed Francisco Liriano to a 2 year/$12.75M deal.  Liriano is still awaiting his physical and official announcement, but barring something goofy this will get done.  Liriano on a 1 year deal would be great, so I'm not wild about the 2nd year for someone as volatile as Liriano.  During this year, Liriano will make 5 starts in which he looks like the best pitcher in the NL, 5 where he looks like the worst, and 10 others that will make you want to throw something at your TV because he is frustrating.  He may also miss 5 starts, too.  Liriano as a 4th starter, behind Burnett, Rodriguez, and McDonald, is a good option.

3.  Traded Joel Hanrahan to the Red Sox for 4 players.  Once the Pirates signed Liriano, it was almost a fait accompli that the Pirates would re-allocate Hanrahan's estimated $7M salary to the signing of Liriano.  The Pirates tossed Brock Holt into the deal and got Ivan Dejesus back, too, but that's basically a trade of utility guys.  The 3 main guys received from the Red Sox are RHP Stolmy Pimentel, 1B/OF Jerry Sands, and future setup man Mark Melancon.  Melancon will take the 8th role as Grilli's setup man.  If the trade was Melancon for Hanrahan, it would still be a decent deal as Melancon has 4 years of control opposed to Hanrahan's 1 year.

Keep in mind that Hanrahan had a bum-clenching year most of last year due to his 5.4 BB/9 and harrowing 9th innings at times.  If Pimentel develops as a starter in the Majors, then the trade is a huge win.  If he's a reliever, it's a slight win.  I personally have no hopes for Sands, as he appears to be a Quad A Hitter and product of the Dodgers' hitter-friendly minor league affiliates.

Once the Pirates traded for Burnett last February, I predicted the Pirates would win 78 games (never been sadder to be right about a prediction).  With these moves, the Pirates seem like a 81-83 win team right now.  Hopefully they won't do something unnecessary like trade Garrett Jones, with his still affordable $4.6M estimated arb salary.

The Reds are still strong, the Cardinals are the Cardinals, the Cubs are improving, the Astros are gone.  Only the Brewers have not substantially improved this offseason.  The Pirates have proved the past two years that they're fine through 108 games.  It's just the last 54 that give them fits.

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