The Pirates recent signings of SS Pedro Florimon and pitcher Radhames Liz has brought on the Spend-Crazies’boringly predictable “Dumpster Dive!” bitch.
One would think they might have learned, after moaning the same miserable moan about the Pirate acquisitions of Jason Grilli, Mark Melancon, Edinson Volquez, Vance Worley, John Holdzkom, Chris Stewart, and Gaby Sanchez . . . But we’re talking about the Spend-Crazies, who focus all of their energies on Bob Nutting’s finances. They feel that success is having a mid-tier payroll, rather than a top-tier organization.
And the Pirates have, indeed, re-built themselves into a top-tier organization. So, the Spend-Crazies must ignore the fact that the Pirates are one of only 6 MLB teams to have reached the playoffs in both 2013 and 2014; and that they consistently have had one of the top rated farm systems in baseball. In fact, they must resort to the lowly “Rule 5 Draft” in order to find some feeble way to criticize the Pirates minor league organization.
So, let’s take a look at what the Nutting-obsessed have called “Dumpster Dives.”
Jason Grilli was at AAA when the Pirates acquired him from the Phillies in 2011. He was 34 years old and had not pitched in the major leagues in two years. From 2011 – 2014, Grilli saved 47 games for the Pirates, while posting a 3.01 ERA and 2.94 xFIP in 161.2 innings pitched.
Mark Melancon had a 6.20 ERA when the Pirates traded Joel Hanrahan and Brock Holt to the Red Sox for him and Jerry Sands, Ivan DeJesus, and Stolmy Pimentel. In two seasons, Melancon has saved 49 games and pitched to a 1.65 ERA and an outstanding 2.26 xFIP in 142 innings.
Vance Worley had just posted a 7.21 ERA for the Twins in 2013, when the Pirates acquired him. He gave the Pirates 110.2 innings of 2.85 ERA and 3.54 pitching
Edinson Volquez had a 5.71 ERA for the Padres and Dodgers in 20134. The Spend-Crazies cried when the Pirates signed him for $5 million. He had a 3.04 ERA and 4.20 xFIP for them this past season, while pitching 192.2 innings.
“Chris Stewart?!” they moaned. “That’s our big off-season acquisition.” Stewart went on to hit .294 with a .693 OPS in 2014 (the MLB average for catchers was .687). And he played average to above-average defense, while providing pitch-framingthat was just as good as that of Russell Martin.
“Gaby Sanchez?! That’s the bum we get for the pennant race at the trade deadline?!” Since being acquired in 2012, Sanchez has hit for an .846 OPS against left-handed pitchers – the exact job he was acquired to perform.
“Now, their diving all the way down to the Independent Leagues for pitchers?! C’mon, man,” they say, a bit less than creatively, “John Holdzkom?! Really,” they echo the meaningless cliche.
And we hear the very same things now about two players about whom they heard for the first time when the Pirates signd them; Pedro Florimon and Radhames Liz.
“Woo-hoo!! The dumpster-dive season has started early this year. . . Well, it is what it is,” they whine-out another meaningless cliche. (When is “It” ever not what “It” is. I would think that “It” cannot ever be what “It” is not. But that’s just me. Probably a result of my graduate degree in existential psychology.)
Of course, the Spend-Crazies neglect to consider that Pedro Florimon is an excellent defensive SS. He had a +12 Defensive Runs Saved and +9.9 fangraphs defensive rating, when he played 134 games for the Twins in 2013. That’s Clint-Barmes-level fielding at a premium defensive position.
Florimon’s OPS was only .611 in his 134 games for the Twins in 2013. That’s not good. But it is quite good enough for an excellent-fielding, back-up SS.
The Spend-Crazies conveniently forget the Michael Martinez experience of 2014, which happened when Barmes and Neil Walker went down with injuries at the same time.
Radhames Liz was once an excellent prospect, but control problems washed him out of the Major Leagues. However, his fastball is now hitting 97-98 mph in the Dominican Winter League and he is throwing what one scout called a “vicious curve.” He has K’d 29 and BB’d only 5 in 23 innings in the Dominican. And it’s not as if the Pirates don’t have solid reports on him. Dean Treanor, who manages the Pirates AAA team, is Liz’s current manager in the Dominican.
Sure, there have been waiver claims and low-level acquisitions that did not work out for the Pirates: Jayson Nix, Michael Martinez, Chris Dickerson, Jonathan Sanchez.
But there is little to no risk involved with bringing these players into the fold . . . and they could become Jason Grilli . . . Mark Melancon . . . or John Holdzkom, Edinson Volquez, Vance Worley, Chris Stewart, or Gaby Sanchez, who all helped the Pirates succeed to the point of reaching the playoffs.
Keep on diving into that kind of dumpster, Neal. You’ll be doing the Nutting-obsessed a favor. They’re not happy unless they’re bitching.