Pirates ship Hanrahan, Holt up to Boston

Over the past few weeks, numerous rumors floated around Major League Baseball regarding a possible Joel Hanrahan trade.

Those rumors slowly became a reality on Saturday afternoon, as the Boston Red Sox closed in on a deal that would bring the two-time All-Star closer to Beantown. Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston was the first to report the rumblings.

Although a Hanrahan trade was inevitable heading into this offseason, this is still a tough pill to swallow for select Bucco fans. While the closer position is overrated, Hammer was a fan-favorite that saved 76 games over the last two seasons.

Neither of us are too upset that Hanrahan is gone. It was nearly guaranteed that he’d be traded this offseason. But we weren’t immediately pleased about what the Pirates got in return. We were pretty bummed to see the deal centered around former Dodgers prospect Jerry Sands. Boston beat writer Pete Abraham summed it up this way:

Apparently the Pirates are receiving “spare parts” after demanding a signficant return earlier.

From the opposite side of the debate, Jeff Moore of The Hardball Times claims that the Pirates have made a good baseball move.

Anyway, one name that frequently popped up as a possible return was shortstop Jose Iglesias. Despite a weak bat, Iglesias provides value defensively, as he’s great with the glove. Clint Barmes’ contract expires after 2013, and Iglesias is under team control until 2018. We would’ve liked this addition, as he could’ve stepped into the starting shortstop role after splitting time season. However, he was the first name to be eliminated from discussions:

The first member of the BoSox that was confirmed to be part of the package was 1B/OF Jerry Sands. Sands, 25, was sent to Boston from the Dodgers in the deal that sent Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, and Carl Crawford, among others, to LA. According to Jim Bowden of ESPN, he has a long, loopy swing. He is a career .289/.376/.562 hitter in the minors, but hasn’t found much success in 70 MLB games.

Sands just adds to the logjam of first basemen and corner outfielders the Pirates have. Garrett Jones and Gaby Sanchez are penciled in at first, while a bunch of underachievers, including Alex Presley, Jose Tabata, and Travis Snider, hold down the corners. Starling Marte is unproven as well, but will most likely be the starting left fielder. With the addition of Sands, there may be another trade involving one of the players sooner than later.

The second Red Sox prospect named was pitcher Stolmy Pimentel. The 22 year old righty hasn’t had an ERA under 4.00 since 2009 when he was in A-ball. He was 6-7 with a 4.59 ERA in 2012 with the Class AA Portland Sea Dogs.

The third trade chip is 27 year old reliever Mark Melancon. He was dealt to the Red Sox from Houston last offseason for shortstop Jed Lowrie and pitcher Kyle Weiland. Melancon was solid in the closer role for the Astros in 2011, posting a 2.78 ERA and 20 saves. He struggled last season in Boston in 41 appearances. Despite a rocky 2012, he is the most intriguing player in this deal that is coming to Pittsburgh. Switching back to the NL Central should help Melancon, and he’ll likely be a key piece of the bullpen. Some insight from Peter Gammons:

The fourth and final player coming from Boston is 25 year old infielder Ivan De Jesus. He went to the Sox with Sands last year in the mega-deal. De Jesus is a career .298 hitter in the minors; he’s hit just .205 in 48 big league games. He will not be included on the Pirates 40-man roster.

The other player leaving the Pirates in the deal is Brock Holt. Holt, 24, soared through the minors last season and earned a call-up after hitting .432 in 24 games for Triple-A Indianapolis. In 24 MLB games, he hit .292 (19 for 65) and potentially earned the right to battle for a backup infield job in 2013. Catching prospect Tony Sanchez is sad to see Holt go:

With the departure of Hanrahan, the Bucco bullpen is up in the air. As of now, Jason Grilli seems to be the only true veteran in the ‘pen. Mark Melancon has experience in the bigs. Jared Hughes and Tony Watson will be in there as well. After that? Who knows, but we expect a combination of young players, and maybe Vin Mazzaro (who is out of minor league options). The bullpen could either be solid or a total mess next year; it’s really too early to tell.

The Pirates haven’t stood pat this offseason, whether the fans like it or not. First, they gave $17 million to a decent catcher that could be a total flop. Then they gave a 36 year old reliever, who struggled down the stretch, nearly $7 million. They are taking a huge gamble of almost $13 million on inconsistent Francisco Liriano. Now they’ve dealt their closer for salary relief and a few unproven players. As we mentioned earlier, another outfielder or first baseman (maybe Jones?) could be on the way out. All of these moves are pretty risky, and could definitely put some jobs on the line in the front office. If/when Neal Huntington is fired, there could potentially be some moves to point to.

Andrew McCutchen was slightly confused when word got out on Saturday:

… then tweeted a cover-up:

… but ultimately wished Hammer well:

Tony Sanchez:

Neil Walker:

Best of luck to Joel Hanrahan and Brock Holt in Boston.

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Official Trailer for “BUCN: The Story of the 2012 Pittsburgh Pirates”

Since last spring, Bucco fan Greg Allison has been working on a documentary about the Pirates, and it’s nearly set to be released. He uploaded the official trailer on Friday; here’s a look:

Greg plans on releasing the full documentary next Friday, December 28th. We’re excited to see all the footage and interviews he captured over the last several months.

You can check out his blog at piratesfandoc.blogspot.com, and also follow along on Twitter @piratesfandoc.

Go Bucs

Pirates agree to terms with Francisco Liriano

The Pirates finally addressed their anemic starting rotation by signing lefty Francisco Liriano to a two-year deal. It was first reported to be a $14 million contract, although Jon Heyman suggests it’s around $13 million. Liriano joins A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, and James McDonald in the starting rotation. The fifth spot is still up for grabs.

In his career, he is 53-54 with a 4.40 ERA. He possessed a 5.34 ERA in 34 games with the Twins and White Sox last season. The 29 year old Dominican Republic native is fairly inconsistent and struggles with his control at times. However, Liriano threw a no-hitter in 2011 and struck out 15 batters in one game in 2012, so he definitely has potential for bright spots.

Although it’s a bit expensive for a risky, back-of-the-rotation starter, we think this signing is a good gamble to take. Liriano should benefit as a lefty with the spacious left field at PNC, plus he still has some upside at age 29.

ESPN breaks down the deal:

Here are some links pertaining to the Francisco Liriano signing:

- Dave Cameron of FanGraphs looks at Liriano and the “slow death of ERA.”

- Bucs Dugout‘s Charlie Wilmoth discusses how this deal speaks well of Neal Huntington.

- Rich from This is Getting Old thinks the money should have been spent elsewhere.

- Rumbunter weighs in on the situation.

- Twins blog Puckett’s Pond thinks the signing is worth the risk for the Pirates since they have a few strong pitchers coming up through the system.

Go Bucs

Top Ten Pirates of the PNC Park Era: #1 Jason Bay

JBay

Year Age Tm G 2B HR RBI SB BA OBP SLG OPS
2003 24 PIT 27 6 3 12 3 .291 .423 .506 .929
2004 25 PIT 120 24 26 82 4 .282 .358 .550 .907
2005 26 PIT 162 44 32 101 21 .306 .402 .559 .961
2006 27 PIT 159 29 35 109 11 .286 .396 .532 .928
2007 28 PIT 145 25 21 84 4 .247 .327 .418 .746
2008 29 PIT 106 23 22 64 7 .282 .375 .519 .894
PIT (6 yrs) 719 151 139 452 50 .281 .375 .515 .890
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/21/2012.

Jason Bay comes in at #1. J-Bay came over from the Padres in 2003 and made an immediate impact in 2004. He led all NL rookies in home runs, RBIs, slugging percentage, and extra-base hits, and was the rookie of the year in the National League. 2005 was, statistically, Bay’s best season with the Pirates. He raked at a .306 clip and knocked in 101 runs with 32 bombs, and played in all 162 games. He represented the Bucs as well as Canada in the 2005 home run derby, but couldn’t hit one out of Comerica Park. Bay hit more home runs and drove in more runs in 2006, but his BA/OBP/SLG dropped off slightly. He went on an absolute tear in May of ’06, hitting 12 bombs, including one in six straight games at one point. The 2006 All-Star Game was held at PNC Park, and Bay was elected to the starting lineup to represent the Bucs. 2007 was a down year for the left fielder, but he was still tied for the team-lead with 21 home runs. A new regime took over the Pirates in late 2007, and by mid-season of 2008, it was almost inevitable that Bay would be traded as part of the front office’s mentality of loading up on prospects. He put up nearly the same number in 106 games in 2008 as he did in 145 games in 2007, and went out with a bang. In a May series against the Cubs, he collected his first two walk-off hits in back-to-back games. In late June, Bay helped beat the Rays with a walk-off home run in the 13th inning, and was traded to Boston in the three-team trade that sent Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers just over a month later.

As of now, Jason Bay is certainly deserving of the #1 spot on this countdown. He had 6 solid years in Pittsburgh, but once Cutch puts in the same amount of time, he may take over the top spot.

So, here’s your full countdown of the top 10 Pirates of the PNC Park era:
10. Neil Walker
9. Paul Maholm
8. Joel Hanrahan
7. Aramis Ramirez
6. Jack Wilson
5. Freddy Sanchez
4. Jason Kendall
3. Brian Giles
2. Andrew McCutchen
1. Jason Bay

Go Bucs

Photo: dnkbdotcom/Creative Commons

#FTFTrivia Answer 12/20/12

Tonight we asked…

and the answer to tonight’s #FTFTrivia is…

t_40813

Bobby Bonilla

“Bobby Bo,” as he was called, actually made the NL All-Star team four straight years: 1988-1991.  He was an All-Star again in 1993 and 1995, but he had left the Pirates by then.  Bonilla may have company by next July if either Cutch or Joel Hanrahan make the mid-summer classic, which will be the third straight for both of them.

Congratulations to tonight’s winners: @johnlucas18, @fdawg30, @740JZD, @chrissytinaaa, and @baseballfan4746

Thanks to all who participated, and tune in next time for another edition of #FTFTrivia.

Go Bucs