Pittsburgh Pirates trade deadline roundup
The Pittsburgh Pirates and their fans can now exhale.
The 2015 MLB non-waiver trade deadline has officially passed.
EDIT: well, it seems I should start taking some of my own advice.
Mere minutes after the 4pm EST trade deadline – the Pittsburgh Pirates swung a trade for Mike Morse from the Dodgers in exchange for Jose Tabata and Cash
Mike Morse is a career .276 right-handed hitter who can play 1B and OF positions. He has 103 career home runs, including a high-mark of 31 in 2011 when playing for the Washington Nationals. Here are his career stats:
Although he has struggled in recent years, the fact that Morse can play 1B likely made him very attractive to the Pirates.
EDIT2: J.A. Happ is now a Pittsburgh Pirate in exchange for Adrian Sampson. Time restraints limit us from going in depth on this acquisition but expect more from us soon. Right now, here is the career line for Happ, who is coming over from a dreadful Seattle team:
While not as much of a whirlwind as the 2014 deadline, the 2015 version was not without its charms. The Pirates struck early – adding Aramis Ramirez a full eight days before the deadline on July 23rd. Since then, Ramirez has struggled a bit – 4-for-22 as a Pirate – but at the very least provides a presence right after Andrew McCutchen in the lineup. From our initial reaction to the trade:
"While he’s a career .284 hitter, this season he’s batting .247/.295/.430 with 11 home runs and 42 RBIs. He also has 42 strikeouts to 16 walks. While by some measures he’s having a down year, Ramirez has been playing for a losing club in what may be his final season. Moving to a contender, and to the organization that drafted him 21 years ago, with a chance to compete for a World Series for the first time in his career, might spark his play"
After acquiring a bat, Neal Huntington then turned his attention to a suddenly-lacking middle section of the Pirates’ bullpen. With continued struggles from Antonio Bastardo and Arquimedes Caminero, the need for a bullpen arm suddenly became greater than we all thought even three to four weeks ago. Enter…Joe Blanton?
Blanton is a name that was on approximately ZERO Pittsburgh Pirates fan’s radar. But as we explained in our acquisition breakdown, there is a lot to like for the former Philadelphia Phillies starter.
"If we take a hard look at these numbers, we can find a lot to like. The first that jumps out is Blanton’s strikeout-to-walk ratio. With 40 punchouts against but seven free passes, we see that Blanton is a pitcher that values control. He would have to, as he’s not going to blow anyone away with his velocity. His four-seamer only averages 90.4 mph, according to FanGraphs. Blanton has a nice arsenal of pitches, with a cut fastball, sinker, slider, curve, and change all in play. Blanton uses all of those pitches to end up with a very good swinging-strike percentage – 11.1% to be precise. That figure would put him right in the middle of the current pack of Pittsburgh Pirates relievers, on par with Mark Melancon. Blanton sets batters up with the fastball (thrown 52% of the time) and then uses the slider as his strikeout pitch (hurled 24.2% of the time). On the slider, batters are hitting .240 while the changeup is even more effective, with batters struggling to hit it at .091."
After some initial scrutiny, Pirates fans came around on Blanton somewhat. Those that still bemoaned the move were satiated when the Pirates acquired Joakim Soria on July 30. Soria is a solid bullpen arm with 201 career saves. He easily slots in right before Tony Watson or Melancon, and can save games on those days when Melancon is not available. From our analysis on Soria:
"He’s having a very good year this year, and knows how to pitch in high pressure situations. This season, he has a 2.85 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP, has thrown 36 strikeouts in 41 innings pitched. His FIP, however, is 4.85 in 2015, which is exactly two points higher than his ERA. This is a noticeable difference, and it’ll be interesting to see if Soria regresses at all moving forward. However, his career ERA of 2.61 and FIP of 3.04 means that any regression is far from guaranteed. It’s also important to note that Soria had Tommy John surgery in 2012."
All of that foreplay brought us to the day in question. July 31 is quickly becoming one of the most-anticipated days on the MLB calendar. While many teams were still finalizing deals and whispers flew, the Pittsburgh Pirates were content to sit back and watch the madness. Was no move the right move? Are the Ramirez, Blanton, & Soria acquisitions enough to gird the team for an NL Central dogfight? To take the easy way out, let’s pull out a tried-and-true sports cliche: only time will tell.
Let’s now turn our attention to what the Pittsburgh Pirates’ NL Central rivals did at the deadline:
Next: The Cubs and Brewers