Each season we always take a look back at the free agent pickups by the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Buccos signed four free agents before the 2012 season. Clint Barmes, Rod Barajas, Erik Bedard, and Nate McLouth.
Bob Nuttin put some cash together to land Clint Barmes to sure up the defense at the shortstop position. The metrics say he is one of the best at doing just that. After an atrocious first half, his hitting has improved a great deal.
Rod Barajas is touted by the organization as being loved by his pitching staff. The opposing pitching staff loved him too. He was awful at the plate.
After such an impressive debut, Erik Bedard became mainly lousy.
And finally, Nate McLouth was cut because he was so bad, but now he’s heading to the post season with the Baltimore Orioles.
This year Texas, Oakland, and Boston were the winners in free agency. Texas and Boston stroked some serious checks, but Oakland won with the likes of Jonny Gomes, Coco Crisp, and the PED loving Bartolo Colon.
The Reds, Rays, Brewers, and Diamondbacks also did alright in the free agency game. Eight teams did worse than the Pirates including playoff bound teams like the Atlanta Braves who signed just one free agent while the Washington Nationals missed on their free agent pickups too.
Everyone always says well that it’s easy to second guess what the Bucs did. Yeh it is, but here is exactly what I would have done, we wanted Carlos Pena. If we wouldn’t have been able to land him, we didn’t want anyone. The post is attached below.
The Pirates have an option on Barajas for next season. Barmes is coming back in 2013. It sucks to see the organization swing and miss on talent in the free agent market each, and every season.
The risk shown to sign Bedard was never rewarded, but we didn’t mind the move.
McLouth, that’s a different story. He obviously tried to prove to everyone that he could find his stroke again. He worked very hard to do that, and he made it happen. McLouth found it, the fact he did it for Buck Showalter and the Orioles is what sucks.
When a business owner invests over $10 million dollars an expected return is usually in an 8-1 or 10-1 rate of return. Free agency hasn’t given Bob Nutting much the past few years. Barajas was $4 million, Bedard was $4.5 million, and McLouth was $1.75 millon. Poof!
Looking back on some free agent deals–Javier Lopez was nasty, it sucks he was moved for little return. Octavio Dotel being signed for $3.5 million and moved to L.A. looks like a steal. It looked much better before the All-Star break, but still a good deal. But maybe signing right hander Kevin Correia for $8 million is the best deal.
The point has been made however, after the likes of Lyle Overbay, Matt Diaz, etc…that building through free agency is not productive. It’s no way to build a team unless your name is Billy Beane.
An upcoming article will take a look at Russell Martin and the stellar cast of free agent catchers available for next year. So after watching this year’s crop of free agents fail once again, maybe what we wrote back in November (attached at bottom of the post) would have been a suitable cause of action after all.
Or maybe the Pirates can just not piss away a million and a half bucks on the likes of a Nate McLouth ‘bounce back’ candidate and take that cash and direct it toward the scouting and development regions of the organization.
Hire away young, hot shot scouts from Oakland, Boston, Milwaukee, and Cincy. Steal some of the best, most promising scouts the game has to offer. Swipe some of the games best development gurus. Load up with talent off the field–the guys that determined that Coco Crisp and Bartolo Colon were going to have strong seasons. Put offers out to the best talent in the game, and cherry pick who the organization wants.
It always amazed me how few scouts are employed by teams. It’s nearly impossible to cover all of the talent. It’s nearly impossible to get multiple looks at interesting players, after all there is only so much time in the day.
We think adding more eyes and ears–with proven success in finding the best possible talent–is a good idea.
The offseason is upon us, so let’s trust answers and exciting changes are forthcoming for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
MAYBE THE PIRATES SHOULD JUST GIVE UP ON FREE AGENCY
It’s free agent signing season in Major League Baseball, that time of year when angst runs high among Pittsburgh Pirates fans. The Pirates suck at acquiring players in the free agent market.
When was the last time the Pirates hit it big with a free agent? Or even hit modestly? We’re pretty sure you know the answer.
We looked at a few recent picks like Ramon Vazquez who worked a career high 109 OPS+ in 2008 with the Rangers into a $3.8 million dollar deal with the Pirates. Vazquez was awful.
Vazquez was released in April 2010, and hasn’t had a major league plate appearance since.
As we move left to right on our Pittsburgh Pirates Usual Suspects lineup, Ryan Church was signed in January of 2010 for $1.5 million. Six months later, Pirates fans were thrilled when Church and D.J. Carrasco were shipped to Arizona for some cash for Bob Nutting, catcher Chris Snyder, and Pedro Ciriaco.
Church was ugly to watch. When he wasn’t running over Neil Walker, he was striking out in about 25 percent of his plate appearances. Church posted offensive numbers so low if we were to write them it would be hard to even decipher.
Like a large percentage of Pirates free agents signed over the years, Church was out of baseball last season. The Pirates would be his final paycheck.
We heard from a gentlemen whose son suffered from concussions like Church that the amount of medicine Church had to take was unreal. (We thought it couldn’t possibly match the amount of beer it took us to watch him play the outfield.)
A RumBunter favorite is Scott Olsen. What a great story this guy is. The Pirates offered him a $4 million deal with a $100,000 buyout. He never threw a pitch in the bigs for them. Not one pitch. Just plenty of bitch.
The only action we witnessed from Olsen was when a buxom autograph seeker that tracked him down in the right field corner at McKechnie Field in Bradenton.
Matt Diaz completes our lineup. $2 million dollars a year was invested in the Cave Man. The projections were there for a perfect platoon with Garrett Jones in right field.
In true Bucco fashion, the Diaz/GFJ platoon never worked out as planned.
Diaz was sent to the Braves for Eliecer Cardenas, a reliever who has dominated at the A-ball level. When Atlanta acquired Diaz, the thought would be that he would help put them over the top. They must have had the same feeling in about picking up Jack Wilson.
We all know how that worked out for the Braves. Serves those bastards right.
So the only question that remains is why do the Pirates try so hard in free agency? (Leave your suckiest Pirates’ free agent signing in the comments, please.) The team has proven that paying players in the lower tier of the market a few million dollars simply doesn’t work.
So, why do they continually do it? We know they have to fill out a Major League roster, but free agency isn’t the avenue for such acquisitions. We can’t imagine that all of the free agents the Bucs sign this year will all work out. It never seems to happen. It never happens.
So how about this… sign Carlos Pena to play first base, and wrap it up. Don’t sign another free agent – no matter what the cost. History shows us reaching for any other players is futile.
Here is our idea: since the talent at the higher levels in the Pirates system doesn’t have a starting pitcher that is ML ready, let the scout or evaluator that pushed for the Jose Veras deal select two starters from the scrap heap. Keep the cash that is usually pissed away on a ‘bounceback’ candidate in a secret spot so Nutting can’t get it, maybe in a ceiling tile above Frank’s office, and give it to the players who perform well in 2012.
As you probably know, the movie The Usual Suspects had a whopper of an ending. The Pittsburgh Pirates need an epic losing streak to end… now, that would be a whopper of an ending.
Relying on lower tier free agents seems a ridiculous way to reach such important goals. But heh, we get it.
Every team misses in the free agent market. Our question is this: When will the Pirates hit?