Results tagged ‘ Pirates ’

Just who did the Yankees get for Burnett?

The deal is now official and A.J. Burnett is a Pirate. I think this was a good deal for the Pirates, a flier worth taking. Rather than get into that into too much detail, I suggest you read my colleague Matthew Leach’s take on it. He’s smarter than I am anyway.

One of the things that does make it a positive is that the Pirates didn’t give up too much from their ever-improving farm system to get him. Not that long ago, of course, any trade that sent minor leaguers away from Pittsburgh hurt. But there’s so much more depth now. Even if the Pirates don’t have the top system in baseball, it’s come a long way. I noticed it particularly when I was constructing their Top 20 prospects list. It used to be difficult to find 20 guys worthy of being listed on such a rankings. Now there are leftovers who could be legitimate prospects in the future.

When you have some depth, you can trade a couple of pieces away and not have it derail efforts to build a system up. In the past, a player like Diego Moreno, the pitcher going to the Yankees in the Burnett deal, may have been protected on the 40-man roster. But not this past offseason.

The 25-year-old Moreno, signed back in 2006 for $6,000 out of Venezuela,  hasn’t exactly moved quickly, with just a smattering of games above A ball. And yes, he had some disciplinary problems earlier. But he does have arm strength that’s allowed him to strike out 9.8 per nine batters. He’s also walked only 2.3 per nine and a scout I spoke with said he’s generally a strike-thrower. When he first signed, he was throwing about 86-88 mph. Today, he’ll touch 98 mph and couples it with a wipe-out slider that breaks bats. He’s started and relieved, with most thinking that his plus two-pitch mix is ideal for bullpen work.  He still needs to show he can get hitters out at higher levels, but perhaps his strong showing in the Venezuelan Winter League this offseason will help.

The Pirates spent much more to sign the second player in the deal, outfielder Exicardo Cayones. Both Cayones and Moreno were signed by Latin American scouting director Rene Gayo and scouting supervisor Rodolfo Petit in Venezuela. The Pirates gave Cayones $400,000 in 2008, the most they had paid any player from Venezuela (It had been noted it was the largest payout given to any international amateur player by the Pirates and that was true, at least until they gave Mexican RHP Luis Heredia $2.6 million in 2010.

Cayones is still just 20, so there’s time for him to tap into his solid tools. He’s a graceful player who still needs to develop and mature physically. He’s received comps to Carlos Beltran, both in terms of his actions and temperament. For him to reach his potential, though, he’ll have to show a little more intensity, a little more sense of urgency in his game. He’s spent two summers in the Gulf Coast League and will have to show soon an ability to move up and face the challenge of a more advanced league.

So while the Yankees largely made this deal to rid themselves of Burnett and a chunk of his salary, and while the Pirates didn’t give up anyone “of note” for Burnett, there is the chance that this pair of Venezuelans could pay some dividends. The chances might be slim, the payoff might not be huge and it may take some time, but there is a little talent there to keep an eye on in the coming years.


The Burnett deal: Who the Pirates won’t include

Well, it looks like this A.J. Burnett to the Pirates trade is all but official. One thing that’s not known at this point is who the Pirates are sending to the Yankees in return, other than what are being considered “low-level prospects.” So the question is: What does low-level mean?

There are some obvious prospects who won’t be on the table either, starting with names on the Top 20 list.I’ve been told by a source that no one on that current Top 20 is involved in this deal. So, Pirates fans who were worried that “low-level” for one person might not be for someone else, you can relax. Anyone from the 2011 Draft is excluded anyway — you can’t trade them yet — so here are the rest of the names of Pirates prospects who will not be included in this deal:

Jameson Taillon

Starling Marte

Stetson Allie

Luis Heredia

Tony Sanchez

Robbie Grossman

Jeff Locke

Justin Wilson

Kyle McPherson

Nick Kingham

Rudy Owens

Bryan Morris

Alen Hanson

Colton Cain

Zack Von Rosenberg

Jarek Cunningham

More as I can get info…

Day 4: Bradenton

I’m in Pirate City folks. And yet, the guy I’m going to focus on in a bit is a Twin. Go figure.

First, a couple of tidbits, one on-the-field related and one an off-the-field bizarre small world story I meant to share with you yesterday.

I’m beginning to fear that prospects — especially in the Pirates organization — are going to start avoiding me. I saw — and wrote about — Jose Tabata here yesterday. Then I find out when I arrive in Bradenton that Tabata, along with Tom Gorzelanny, had been sent to the Minor League side. Gorzo will be in the Indianapolis rotation and it’s looking like Tabata will start with Double-A Altoona.

Then, to add to it, I see the Pirates again today. Neil Walker makes a few nice plays at third, walks and scores a run. Then, after the game, he’s optioned to Triple-A as well. To be fair, both were eventually going to be sent down. Turns out that Walker’s was more a procedural move than anything else. If a player is on the 40-man roster and is still in big-league camp after March 20, if he gets hurt, he has to be put on the big-league disabled list. That might not sound like much, but that counts against his service time clock and he’d get a Major League salary. Since Walker was not going to make the club anyway, it’s not that big of a deal. Walker, as always, handled it with grace and said he understood the situation. Sounds like it was well communicated to him and the Pirates, for their part, would’ve loved to keep him around to let him learn in this atmosphere for a while longer. But rules are rules.

OK, on to our Prospect Impression:

luke_hughes.JPGI first met Twins prospect Luke Hughes at the 2008 Futures Game. The Aussie was on the World Team and we took him and New Zealander (Kiwi) Scott Campbell of the Blue Jays on a double-decker bus tour of New York City. A good time was had by all. You can watch the video feature we did by going here. The link is on the bottom right, where it says “Hughes, Campbell tour NYC.”

Now, Hughes isn’t just a good personality. He split the year between Double- and Triple-A in 2008, finishing with a .309 average and .524 slugging percentage. The 24-year-old then went to Venezuela and handled himself well, hitting .298 in 32 games. He’s on the 40-man roster and participated in the World Baseball Classic, where he went 3-for-12 with a homer and three RBIs in Australia’s three games.

He’s still in big-league camp and really opening some more eyes. He had two more hits today against hte Pirates to raise his average to .429 (6-for-14). He’s played second, third and the outfield over the past year. He’ll either settle into one position (an offensive-minded 2B perhaps?) or he can be a superutility guy who can really rake. Whatever the case, he’s bound for Triple-A eventually. He told me he was hoping he could stick around in big-league camp for another week, at least, maybe show more people what he can do. The bigger impression you can make up here, after all, the more likely the whole “phone call away” thing comes true.

I’ve got an “off day” tomorrow, but I’ll try to do a draft update of some sort just to mix it up.

Day 3: Tampa

Sorry I’m a little later with the entry today, but there was night baseball at George M. Steinbrenner Field between the Yankees and Pirates. Filling in for the esteemed Jen Langosch on the Pirates beat (I’ll see them tomorrow and Friday to boot. Go Buccos!), I wrote a story about Xavier Nady’s reunion with his old team on the Major League side of things. But lets move on to what we’re all here for, right? Today’s Prospect Impression.

I really wanted to be able to write about Virgil Vasquez and his quest to be a serious contender for the No. 5 starter spot. While one start does not a competition end, he can’t really be the focus here after giving up six runs on seven hits over 2 1/3 IP. I saw VV pitch in the 2006 Arizona Fall League championship game and he’s always been a good dude to talk to, so here’s hoping he gets back on the horse — assuming he’s given the chance to — and shows the club how he can bounce back from a bad outing.

Since I was writing about Nady, though, I thought it only fitting to write about the guy here fortabata_curve.JPG the Pirates who came to Pittsburgh on the other end of that deal. I’m talking, of course, about Jose Tabata. The young outfielder’s had a real nice spring, hitting .391 through 23 at-bats. It’s a big reason why he’s still in big-league camp and made this trip. He didn’t seem fazed by  coming back to Yankee-land, though things didn’t go so well for him here, particularly at the end. Using his ever-improving English — he was apologetic at the end, but I always make a point of giving kudos to a guy for trying (I couldn’t conduct an interview in another language, could you?) — he talked about how happy he was to be a part of the Pirates organization and how he felt like it was a family. He also spoke of how he idolized Roberto Clemente, seeing a video of him when he was a kid (not that he’s so old now, mind you). He’s even got a tattoo of Clemente’s picture more or less over his heart. Only seems fitting he should become the Pirates’ right-fielder in the future, a cast-off of sorts from another team (the Pirates got Clemente, you may remember, from the Dodgers in the Rule 5 draft).

Anyway, as for tonight’s performance, Tabata showed a bit of everything. He singled off of C.C. Sabathia in his first at-bat, got balked to second, stole third and scored to make it (briefly) a close 2-1 game. He made a real nice catch up against the right-field wall to snare a Johnny Damon drive in the third. He picked up another hit against Alfredo Aceves in the seventh. He went 2-for-4 overall, making him 11-for-27 this spring, a .407 average for those of you scoring at home. I think Tabata was targeted for Double-A at the start of this spring. It wouldn’t shock me after this to see him go to Triple-A Indianapolis to play in the same outfield as Andrew McCutchen to begin the 2009 regular season. 

Bay to Boston

The three-way is coming true. The Minor Leaguers involved appear to be: Craig Hansen and Brandon Moss from the Red Sox; Bryan Morris and Andy LaRoche from the Dodgers… More to come…

Bay not a Ray … yet

As the deadline quickly approaches, rumors were abuzz that Jason Bay was headed to Tampa in return for shortstop Reid Brignac and pitcher Jeff Niemann. But not so fast.

A source has told me there is no done deal… yet. One of the above names has not been made available. I’ve got no confirmation on this, but my guess is that Brignac is the one the Rays won’t part with.

More as this develops…

%d bloggers like this: