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Monday, January 11, 2010

MLB: Pirates closing in on deal with Church

Intelligent design? Church of the Pastafarianism rulz.

The Pirates may soon have a new option in right field, as FOXSports.com reported on Monday that the club is “closing in” on acquiring free-agent outfielder Ryan Church.

The Web site, citing multiple Major League sources, added that it’s possible a deal could be announced within the next few days, but one source said “steps in the process are still remaining.”

Church batted .273 with four homers and 40 RBIs in 359 at-bats over 111 games with the Mets and Braves in 2009. Swapped for Jeff Francoeur on July 10, Church hit .260 in his final 44 games of the season in Atlanta, then the Braves non-tendered him in December.

The Pirates have Andrew McCutchen entrenched in center field, and in-season acquisition Lastings Milledge played mostly left field down the stretch. Church would likely get the majority of his at-bats as a right fielder, where Brandon Moss and Garrett Jones also get playing time.

The 31-year-old left-handed hitter has spent significant time in all three outfield positions but has seen the most action (210 of his 481 games as an outfielder) in right field. For his six-year career—the first four of which were spent with the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals—Church has hit .272 with 51 homers .

Repoz Posted: January 11, 2010 at 03:46 PM | 61 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Frisco Cali Posted: January 11, 2010 at 04:12 PM (#3433843)
Worse things have happened, but shouldn't the Buccos be playing Milledge and Moss as much as possible - to see what they've got?
   2. Mike Emeigh Posted: January 11, 2010 at 04:15 PM (#3433846)
This might very well spell the end of Brandon Moss's Pittsburgh career, at least for the moment; their skill sets are pretty similar and I really don't see room for both of them on the roster.

-- MWE
   3. Der Komminsk-sar Posted: January 11, 2010 at 04:17 PM (#3433850)
What's Moss's option situation. For that matter, are they any 'out of options' lists out there, like mlbtraderumors did last year?
   4. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: January 11, 2010 at 04:30 PM (#3433863)
Hmm, I would have thought that Church had more than 51 HRs but he just hasn't played that much -- approximately half-time.
He's on my "I thought he was going to be better" team of the aughts. Austin Kearns is the captain.
   5. Mike Emeigh Posted: January 11, 2010 at 04:43 PM (#3433869)
What's Moss's option situation


He's out of options, according to WTM (who is very good about tracking those things).

-- MWE
   6. TerpNats Posted: January 11, 2010 at 05:07 PM (#3433894)
Nats fans will recall during the halcyon days of mid-2005, Church ran into the wall as PNC Park and made a fabulous catch.
   7. Der Komminsk-sar Posted: January 11, 2010 at 05:17 PM (#3433907)
WTM is great, in general - love his site.
   8. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: January 11, 2010 at 05:52 PM (#3433942)
MLB: Pirates closing in on deal with Church
They've narrowed their choices down to the People's Temple, the Moonies, and the Church of Satan.
   9. bunyon Posted: January 11, 2010 at 06:05 PM (#3433955)
Matt, I would say that they have agreed to release two bishops being held prisoner and turn over a monastery in Bermuda in exchange for two chests of gold and free passage throughout the Caribbean.
   10. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 11, 2010 at 06:17 PM (#3433976)
Yeah, this probably spells curtains for Moss. The only remaining path to the roster that I see for him involves Delwyn Young beating out Vazquez for the second UT IF slot, and since Young can barely even fake 2B, that seems unlikely.
   11. Hack Wilson Posted: January 11, 2010 at 06:21 PM (#3433986)
Everyone has a patron saint:
British actor Robert Newton is considered the "patron saint" of pirates by the founders of International Talk Like a Pirate Day, as Newton influenced many modern perceptions of pirates.


Oh I knew about Newton, I just didn't know that Talk Like a Pirate Day had gone international, ARGH.
   12. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: January 11, 2010 at 07:13 PM (#3434075)
Man, it has to be tough to be a Pirates fan. Watching this team's off-season is like watching somebody use a thrift shop to do their Christmas shopping. There's a whole world of free agents, amateur free agents, and skilled-but-overpaid-and-thus-available-for-cheap-if-you-have-money players out there, but the Pirates have no chance at even pretending to browse in those talent pools. I'll say what I always say on BBTF about teams like Pittsburgh, Kansas City and others: until these franchises build their talent base to the point where they have assets to either trade or put on the field, it's almost impossible to see how they get out of this 20-year cycle of crappy baseball.

Tampa is one of the only teams I can think of lately who have busted through this vicious cycle, by doing all three of the things you have to do well if you can't buy lots of talent:
1) Draft really well (Crawford, Upton, Longoria, Price, Shields, etc.)
2) Identify free agents and non-tenders who are low-risk, high-reward, and take a shot (Carlos Pena was somebody with many of the marks of a potentially successful, low-average, high-walk, high-K, high-HR guy. Ryan Church has #### for upside. What does he give the Pirates that Moss doesn't give them, really?)
3) You've got to get lucky with a couple of really stupid trade partners (I'm looking at you, Mets. Zambrano-for-Kazmir. The Twins trade of Garza and Bartlett for Delmon Young was big, too.)
   13. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: January 11, 2010 at 07:44 PM (#3434117)
Chruch strikes me as a significantly better player than Moss (if he's healthy). Equal with the glove, and significantly better in both the Majors and Minors with the lumber.

A player like Moss only becomes a useful option if:

a) He starts hitting more in the minors (or majors).
b) If he can play center field.

Both Boston and Pittsburgh have ruled b) out and an .816 lifetime OPS in the minors (with a lot of strikeouts and a not great number of homers) and a .700 OPS in the majors in 700+ PAs doesn't satisfy a). Maybe Church isn't quite the correct direction to look in, but it's tough to fault them for looking in another direction. They had showed some interest in Ankiel earlier and that maybe was a more interesting idea as despite his age you could argue Ankiel might still have some upside.

As SBPT mentions, it isn't easy when you don't have many options and a lot of them are not good ones. The Pirates seem to be doing better than the Royals at avoiding the bad ideas at least even if they aren't dazzling anybody with great ones.
   14. zonk Posted: January 11, 2010 at 07:46 PM (#3434125)
This seems pretty pointless...

I would think the Pirates would much prefer to see if Garrett Jones is for real or run through younger flotsam on the offchance one of them over-performs than waste any money or ABs on a known mediocrity the wrong side of 30.
   15. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 11, 2010 at 07:49 PM (#3434129)
There's a whole world of free agents, amateur free agents, and skilled-but-overpaid-and-thus-available-for-cheap-if-you-have-money players out there, but the Pirates have no chance at even pretending to browse in those talent pools.

Well they certainly can play in the amateur FA market. The price tags are not big (<$5M for elit talents like Inoa) and these guys seem to have no hesitation of taking the highest bid, even from small-market teams.
   16. JJ1986 Posted: January 11, 2010 at 07:56 PM (#3434138)
Now they have Church and Milledge. That trade didn't really work out for anybody, except maybe Jeff Francoeur.
   17. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: January 11, 2010 at 08:05 PM (#3434145)
It's just annoying because it's the new Pirates administration doing exactly what the old Pirates administration did. They can't afford to pay for a real prospect, so they draft a guy at #4 overall whose optimistic future outlook is 'reasonable impersonation of a Molina brother'. They can't afford to pay extra to land a premium foreign talent. But they can afford to toss a million or two dollars to an old, never-really-was outfielder who is all but guaranteed to spend half the year in the trainer's room that nobody else really wants. See, we want to win! We splurged for a real major league player!

In practice, it's harmless. I'd be complaining about this signifying the Pirates' intent to bury Milledge, except that even if they want to bury Milledge, signing Church won't do it; Church will likely as not be on the 60 day DL by Memorial Day.

But the underlying process (or lack thereof) behind making such a decision is disturbing.
   18. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: January 11, 2010 at 08:16 PM (#3434157)
There's a whole world of free agents, amateur free agents, and skilled-but-overpaid-and-thus-available-for-cheap-if-you-have-money players out there, but the Pirates have no chance at even pretending to browse in those talent pools

The Pirates signed 31 international free agents in 2009. Is that a lot? They also took a long, hard, serious look at Muguel Sano.
   19. Bob Veale Parmigiana Posted: January 11, 2010 at 08:23 PM (#3434165)
OK, who would you have drafted at #4, and at what signing bonus? If you spend $5-6m on a 1st round pick, that leaves you pretty thin on the ground in rounds 2-50, assuming a draft budget of say $10m overall. And if your answer to the question is "pitcher x", do you really want to bet that pitcher x adds more value over the course of his career than Sanchez, Dodson, ZVR, and Cain combined? In a draft whose strength is pitching depth it is beyond stupid to spend the majority of your draft budget on a single roll of the dice. But of course, performing a cost/benefit analysis of expected values for draftees relative to the bonuses they are paid requires more than 30 seconds of thought. Much better to settle for the same old shtick that the Pirates are cheapskates, except when they spend $6.5m on Alvarez, in which case they are cleverly hiding the fact that they are cheapskates.
   20. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 11, 2010 at 08:26 PM (#3434174)
They can't afford to pay for a real prospect, so they draft a guy at #4 overall whose optimistic future outlook is 'reasonable impersonation of a Molina brother'.

Didn't this guy look absolutely awesome in his first pro season? And haven't Molina brothers been some of the better catchers in baseball?

If Sanchez turns into Yadier or even Bengi that will be an awesome draft pick.
   21. JJ1986 Posted: January 11, 2010 at 08:31 PM (#3434179)
OK, who would you have drafted at #4, and at what signing bonus?

Mike Leake. He got about the same bonus Sanchez did.
   22. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: January 11, 2010 at 08:34 PM (#3434182)
I do think it's past time that teams like the Pirates be allowed to move their high picks for just that reason. If they can trade down to the middle of the first round and still get the player they want, but also get several extra cracks at talented players in the succeeding early rounds, then it's a potentially valuable weapon in the small market team's arsenal, even if it does mean teams like the Yankees can get early 1st round picks.

I do think there are reasons for some optimism in Pittsburgh. It's currently the easiest division in baseball and they have acquired some guys like Milledge and the other LaRoche who did enough in the minors to solidify themselves as good prospects and are still young enough to blossom. They have more well thought of prospects coming through the pipeline to go with McCutcheon, so it's not entirely hopeless.

If there's one area I think the current front office has the ability to improve on is doing a better job of getting their pound of flesh from other teams when their better players start to become expensive. I realize that's often easier said than done, but it's not impossible.
   23. Walt Davis Posted: January 11, 2010 at 08:46 PM (#3434207)
I would think the Pirates would much prefer to see if Garrett Jones is for real or run through younger flotsam on the offchance one of them over-performs than waste any money or ABs on a known mediocrity the wrong side of 30.

1. I don't think you have to worry about Jones not getting enough PT. Between 1B/LF/RF there will be plenty of PA for all concerned. 1/3 of Jones' starts last year came at 1B. (Or have I forgotten a Pitt 1B signing?)

2. While Jones is on the right side of 30, he's 29.

3. His AAA OPS from ages 26-28 are 807, 821, 850 ... of course he's not "for real". ZiPS likes him well enough as an average hitter for a corner. That's pretty much what Church has been his ML career. I agree you prefer Jones' greater uncertainty over Church, especially given Church's recent health history and possible decline, but it's unlikely to matter in the great scheme of things. Or to put it in classic saber-ese, neither of these guys is going to be part of the next good Pirates teams ... and neither is ever going to bring a good return in trade.

4. Of course I don't see a money figure here. If they're paying Church much more than Podsednik money, this seems a real waste of resources.
   24. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: January 11, 2010 at 08:56 PM (#3434226)
Didn't this guy look absolutely awesome in his first pro season?


Yeah, .976 OPS. That's not gangbusters for a 21 year old at low-A; more like 'so far, so good'.

If Sanchez turns into Yadier or even Bengi that will be an awesome draft pick.


In the abstract, yes, since most #4 picks are total busts. But the problem is that the guy's ceiling is Yadier Molina. Picking that high, you have to pick a guy who at least has some small chance of one day being the best player on a championship-quality team. Picking guys with low ceilings but high chances of making the majors quickly is exactly what the Pirates did wrong for years.

Much better to settle for the same old shtick that the Pirates are cheapskates, except when they spend $6.5m on Alvarez, in which case they are cleverly hiding the fact that they are cheapskates.


Yep... pretty much. :)

Seriously, I didn't like the Alvarez pick, but he raked the daylights out of the Eastern League, and I appear to have been wrong. And they did lay out the money.

And I'm hardly the only guy that ever observed that the Pirates picked a guy at #4 that was a late first/sandwich round talent, because he'd be cheap and projected to make the majors quickly (albeit probably as a backup on good team/starter on bad team type). Who would I rather have, non-pitcher division? Grant Green comes to mind. That's besides my simply disagreeing with you about the pitchers.
   25. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: January 11, 2010 at 08:58 PM (#3434229)
1. I don't think you have to worry about Jones not getting enough PT. Between 1B/LF/RF there will be plenty of PA for all concerned. 1/3 of Jones' starts last year came at 1B. (Or have I forgotten a Pitt 1B signing?)


Ideally they'd park Jeff Clement there for a year and see what he does, but that doesn't appear likely at this point. Pedro Alvarez will be their first baseman in 2011.
   26. zonk Posted: January 11, 2010 at 08:58 PM (#3434230)
1. I don't think you have to worry about Jones not getting enough PT. Between 1B/LF/RF there will be plenty of PA for all concerned. 1/3 of Jones' starts last year came at 1B. (Or have I forgotten a Pitt 1B signing?)


I thought they had targeted Jeff Clement for the 1B job, though - I hear they're also willing to move Doumit, so perhaps I've missed some developments in Pittsburgh.


The other points Jones are quite true - though, he exceeded all expectations in his half-season last year. Chances are certainly heavily weighted towards a crash back to earth, but we don't know for sure.

Don't get me wrong - I don't think this is Royals/Pods level dumb... I just think, if I'm the Pirates, I would prefer to use 1B and whatever corner Milledge doesn't play to weed through a whole host of probably nots... Clement, Jones, Moss, Young, maybe even Pearce or Neil Walker.

My Pirate 2010 would basically be an extended spring training and I don't have much use for 31 yo OFers in it.

Still, I suppose, being left-handed and probably making peanuts -- Ryan Church might fetch some sort of raw young arm at the trading deadline.
   27. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 11, 2010 at 09:02 PM (#3434239)
And I'm hardly the only guy that ever observed that the Pirates picked a guy at #4 that was a late first/sandwich round talent, because he'd be cheap and projected to make the majors quickly (albeit probably as a backup on good team/starter on bad team type). Who would I rather have, non-pitcher division? Grant Green comes to mind. That's besides my simply disagreeing with you about the pitchers.

But they did this to save money to go over-slot elsewhere, correct?
   28. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: January 11, 2010 at 09:08 PM (#3434254)
They did; that is correct.

I'll roast them until the end of time for picking Tony Sanchez at #4, even while crediting them for spending money on the rest of their draft. Good for them. If I may go back to my original point here... Ryan Church's addition to the 2010 (and possibly 2011) Pirates has zero impact on anything, now or ever. But it will cost the Pirates a seven-digit number of dollars. The Pirates presumably have a finite amount of money to spend. Why isn't this money being spent on acquiring talent, either in the draft or internationally, or on hiring people to help develop talent?

That's somewhat discomforting. It seems likely either the Pirates' front office hasn't thought its plan all the way through, or it has the wrong plan, or it doesn't have a plan. They should be carefully planning the best long-term method of spending every single cent at their disposal. Spending a dime on Ryan Church is a waste.
   29. Tripon Posted: January 11, 2010 at 09:10 PM (#3434256)
If this happens, then the winner of the Milledge-Church trade is... the Pirates?
   30. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 11, 2010 at 09:53 PM (#3434400)
They can't afford to pay for a real prospect, so they draft a guy at #4 overall whose optimistic future outlook is 'reasonable impersonation of a Molina brother'.


I hated, hated, hated the Sanchez pick, but that's not a fair summation of the situation. The Pirates invested very heavily in their late-round picks, and spent $8.9M (the sixth-highest total bonus outlay). And they managed to spend that much despite signing only 23 picks, the lowest total of any team in the draft, so they weren't just racking up the senior signs.

[Personally, I would've taken Shelby Miller, and dropped $1M worth of other signings to make room.]
   31. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: January 11, 2010 at 09:56 PM (#3434405)
[Personally, I would've taken Shelby Miller, and dropped $1M worth of other signings to make room.]


Or just spent the $1 million in June and forego signing Ryan Church in January. That's the aggravating thing I've been describing.
   32. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 11, 2010 at 10:40 PM (#3434493)
Or just spent the $1 million in June and forego signing Ryan Church in January. That's the aggravating thing I've been describing.


What's wrong with paying a million bucks for Ryan Church? He's a pretty good player.
   33. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: January 11, 2010 at 10:47 PM (#3434508)
What's wrong with paying a million bucks for Ryan Church? He's a pretty good player.

The point is that instead of finding low-priced and underrated free agents, the Pirates are wasting money by signing underrated free agents like Ryan Church to low-priced deals.
   34. Foghorn Leghorn Posted: January 11, 2010 at 10:51 PM (#3434514)
I wished the Mets had this much sense. Church is better than Francoeur.
   35. Mike Emeigh Posted: January 11, 2010 at 10:54 PM (#3434524)
What's wrong with paying a million bucks for Ryan Church? He's a pretty good player.


He was an acceptable player at one time. What he is now is a 31-YO player who looks like he's declining and whose skill set(*) duplicates one the team already has.

(*) I am fully aware that Church's performance record is better than Brandon Moss's. My point here is that Moss is five years younger with the same base of skills and with virtually the same minor league profile as Church when you account for differences in level, environment, and age - e.g. they're much more similar than they are different.

-- MWE
   36. Russlan is fond of Dillon Gee Posted: January 11, 2010 at 10:56 PM (#3434528)
Church is still a pretty good defender. If he can get a little bit of the power he used to have, he's is a solid regular.
   37. Der Komminsk-sar Posted: January 11, 2010 at 11:12 PM (#3434551)
I'm agnostic on this one.
I agree with those that think Church is a slightly better version of Moss - in fact, he's probably a bit more than $1M (of value) better. But the true cost difference would, presumably, exceed that, if Moss were kept around for more than a year. [Granted, the cost of keeping Church over Moss isn't 1M in year one - as Moss would be paid to be on the roster + would likely return something via trade.]
   38. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: January 11, 2010 at 11:31 PM (#3434585)
What's wrong with paying a million bucks for Ryan Church? He's a pretty good player.


Yes, he's a pretty good player who makes no impact on the Pirates, now or ever, unless you think his positive, white boy hustling influence in the clubhouse is worth a million bucks.

The Pirates don't have that many millions of bucks. Every single one needs to be put toward building the 2013 Pirates. The 2010 Pirates may safely be ignored, or at least, treated as a farm team of the 2013 Pirates.

If Ryan Church has the best year of his life, that transforms the 2010 Pirates from a 62-100 team into a 68-94 team. ...and there was much rejoicing? I guess?

(Actually, the upside here is if Ryan Church has the best year of his life, the Pirates might be able to swipe a real prospect for him at the deadline.)

In the abstract, it's a nice gamble on a player who's pretty good when he's on the field. To the Pirates, he's worthless. That $1 million (or whatever Church gets) is better spent in the international market or on next year's draft, where, lest we forget, the Pirates pick second. Not just in the first round, but in all the rounds.
   39. jingoist Posted: January 11, 2010 at 11:46 PM (#3434616)
At least it wasn't another Jeremy Burnitz at $7M when he was CLEARLY toast.
Now, if the Nationals could swap Elijah Dukes for Moss and McCutcheon then the Bucs and Nats could start the other teams 2009 outfield in 2010
   40. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: January 12, 2010 at 12:01 AM (#3434632)
if the Nationals could swap Elijah Dukes for Moss and McCutcheon


...then I'd have beatings to hand out.

Also, it's McCutchen. No "O".
   41. Lassus Posted: January 12, 2010 at 12:15 AM (#3434652)
Also, it's McCutchen. No "O".

No relation to Daniel McCutchen of the same counter-intuitive spelling, also on the Pirates.
   42. Frisco Cali Posted: January 12, 2010 at 12:18 AM (#3434655)
Chruch strikes me as a significantly better player than Moss (if he's healthy). Equal with the glove, and significantly better in both the Majors and Minors with the lumber.

Not sure what evidence you are using for your minor league lumber argument.
Using BBRef,
Moss at age 22 ops'ed .796 in AA, while Church ops'ed .892 in the Sally
At age 23, Moss was in AAA hitting .834 and Church was .830 in AA
Age 24 Moss was .874 in AAA, Church was .754 in the Eastern League.

Maybe you saw them play?
   43. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: January 12, 2010 at 12:35 AM (#3434671)
I'm with #38. Let's say Church is better than Brandon Moss, even taking into account that's he several years older than Moss. So what? This has nothing to do with the Pirates getting better. If he sucks, you've wasted a million bucks. If he's typical Church, it has no impact. If he's awesome, he either gets traded at the deadline for a decent AA prospect (who you could've paid $1 m to in the draft to sign), or he walks after the 2010 season for a multi-year deal somwhere else.

Take Jeremy Hermida. He was available for nothing, because he's eligible for arbitration. Now, I'm not suggesting that Hermida is some superstar or something, but he's going to be 26 years old in 2010, and he'll probably get a raise from the $2.25 million he made in 2009. If the Pirates traded for him and offered him a two-year deal for, say, $6m, I bet he takes it.

Because of his age, and because of flashes of ability he has shown (and he hasn't been horrible, in general), there is a chance that he would be a very good ballplayer. He has upside. He can hit righties well. He was a very good player as a 23-year-old. I know it's more than $1 million, but it's for two years, and he could probably get traded in 2011 if you're going nowehre and need salary relief.

I just think trading for players on the wrong side of 30 who have zilcho upside are a waste for teams like Pittsburgh.
   44. Der-K: Hipster doofus Posted: January 12, 2010 at 12:42 AM (#3434675)
So, the marginal value of a win for Pittsburgh is zero?
   45. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: January 12, 2010 at 12:48 AM (#3434681)
If the Pirates make a move, and the only Pirates fan who is enraged is the guy who has promised to be enraged if they don't trade all three of Doumit, Duke and Maholm this year, I think that's the best they can hope for in terms of fan reaction.

I just think trading for players on the wrong side of 30 who have zilcho upside are a waste for teams like Pittsburgh.


They didn't trade for him.

Pirates management are not idiots. If this was any other sport, fans would be saying that they brought in a credible veteran at a bargain-basement price to provide "competition" for their underperforming youngsters who would otherwise expect guaranteed playing time. But this is the quantifiable sport, so an idea like that induces confusion. What scientific evidence do we have that Brandon Moss will perform better with so-called "motivation" and so-called "competition"? How do we know the concept of "trying harder" and "concentrating" exist? Why on earth would a team like the Pirates not have 25 players all making the minimum and guaranteed to lose 130 games? Would they somehow fail to be "motivated"? All of these ideas are ridiculously illogical.
   46. Willie Mayspedes Posted: January 12, 2010 at 12:58 AM (#3434684)
MLB: Pirates closing in on deal with Church


The congregation will pray for wins in exchange for Andrew McCutchen. Gammons predicts the pastor will be the NL MVP this year.
   47. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: January 12, 2010 at 01:18 AM (#3434714)
That Moss was pushed faster than Church doesn't actually make him better. It just would tend to mean better things for his future development.

But Moss is .287/.356/.460 lifetime in the minors in 2500 ABs, .241/.307/.393 in 650 MLB ABs. Church hit .290/.374/.503 in the minors in 2200 ABs and .272/.345/.441 in MLB in 1700 ABs.

Dan projects Moss to hit .259/.321/412 with a 90 OPS+ next year in Pittsburgh next year, and projected a .271/.345/.415 with a 103 OPS+ for Church in Atlanta.

Moss had one big year in 2004, and has followed it up with five straight mediocre ones. Church was the better hitter all five of those years including the most recent one which was Church's worst.

So yeah, I think Church is a significantly better hitter. Being younger only goes so far.

I don't think Church was a great move, but I don't think Brandon Moss is the reason why. A better move would have neither one of them being an everyday outfielder. He'll be 26 next year, and has done nothing to suggest he's a starting caliber player in one of the corners now or in the near future. Considering the near future is his peak...
   48. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: January 12, 2010 at 01:35 AM (#3434744)
Why on earth would a team like the Pirates not have 25 players all making the minimum and guaranteed to lose 130 games?


I've been asking that for years. :)

I know you're making fun of me, and that's OK. If you're going to find an upside to signing someone like Church, you just laid it out: Motivation and/or veteran example-setting. That has value, but I don't think that's worth $1 million that could be spent on talent, especially not to a team that projects to lose 95+ games anyway.

Actually... Church rates as positively awesome in either outfield corner by plus/minus (and a plus center fielder, actually). Last year he only played 86 games in right field, and rated a whopping +17, third in baseball (Ichiro!, +21; Ryan Sweeney, +20).

If he's really that awesome in the outfield, I like this signing a lot more, because if he can play at least the first half of the year, that'll go a long way toward making Duke and Maholm look better than they are. Then the Pirates have a shot at trading one or both of them for more than they're worth.
   49. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: January 12, 2010 at 02:32 AM (#3434813)
One other thing to consider: would 82-80 and breaking that god awful streak be of any long term value to the Pirates as a franchise or at the very least buy management some time to build from the ground up?

While that's a longshot as well, I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility. There are very few teams in my lifetime where I went into the season thinking they had _zero_ shot of clearing .500. I'm not sure that makes it a goal worth considering, but I wonder what others' thoughts are (I realize I probably put greater error bars on expected records for teams like the Pirates than most people do).
   50. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: January 12, 2010 at 03:03 AM (#3434843)
I can't see that it has any value at all, not unless Pujols gets hurt and the whole NL Central sucks, such that the Pirates are in contention at 67-66 heading into September. And even then, it's only short term value; long term, nothing short of actually fielding a good team is going to have a big impact.

But let's be realistic. The 2010 Pirates are terrible, even if you're optimistic about McCutchen, et. al. 82-80 is pretty much the best case scenario, in the same sense that 119-43 is the Yankees' best case scenario. I can't see how that should factor into a decision to sign Ryan Church. More likely it had to do with

(a) Veteran Presence™ and challenging the youngsters*; and
(b) Saying 'look, we're doing something!' to the local press.

* Note: Aside from McCutchen the Pirates actually don't have any youngsters in the outfield with upside
   51. PreservedFish Posted: January 12, 2010 at 03:08 AM (#3434848)
If he's really that awesome in the outfield, I like this signing a lot more, because if he can play at least the first half of the year, that'll go a long way toward making Duke and Maholm look better than they are.


He's pretty good. He reminds me of old Larry Walker - medium speed but well above average at everything else.

After his concussion in NY, though, he had some weird moments in the field.
   52. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: January 12, 2010 at 03:22 AM (#3434860)
* Note: Aside from McCutchen the Pirates actually don't have any youngsters in the outfield with upside


Not only is having Church an utter waste of time, having Moss and Milledge is an utter waste of time too? They need to go get someone with upside. Put that Quincy Latimore guy in the lineup, let's see what he can do. But seriously, if they are going to have these seemingly mediocre youngsters as placeholders, they might as well get as much performance as possible out of them.

If you're going to find an upside to signing someone like Church, you just laid it out: Motivation and/or veteran example-setting. That has value, but I don't think that's worth $1 million that could be spent on talent, especially not to a team that projects to lose 95+ games anyway.


Sorry for my derisive tone earlier. I think $1 million gets you credible competition, rather than just competition. If they only bring in a guy with no track record at all like Jon Van Every, or someone who is obviously washed up, the incumbents probably don't see him as a plausible threat to their jobs, unless he hits fifteen home runs in spring training.

This is also my explanation for the White Sox signing Omar Vizquel. But I tend to give GMs the benefit of the doubt (unlike any other kind of corporate executive...hmmmm.)
   53. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: January 12, 2010 at 03:32 AM (#3434873)
Gotta admit I am surprised nobody has made the obvious comment on Church still suffering from a head injury or otherwise he would never agree to playing in Pittsbugh.

Y'all are getting soft.....
   54. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: January 12, 2010 at 03:35 AM (#3434876)
My dear man, wasting time is not quite the same thing as wasting money. Time, plate appearances... the Pirates have lots of that to waste on anybody who wants it. It's spending the money that I... well, I don't even want to say 'object to'. I hope it doesn't represent a pattern in the Pirates' thinking, summarized as 'well, the money's here, let's sign somebody'.

I guess I've come across as b*tching about the Pirates for the 3,854th time, which isn't really how I feel. I'm just expressing my radical views about spending money when money is scarce. But then, there's probably a good reason why I'm not the general manager of any baseball teams that I know of.
   55. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: January 12, 2010 at 03:36 AM (#3434880)
Gotta admit I am surprised nobody has made the obvious comment on Church still suffering from a head injury or otherwise he would never agree to playing in Pittsbugh.


I proposed to my wife the day after she sustained mild head trauma in a car wreck. You have to give me credit for knowing when my chances are best.
   56. Der-K: Hipster doofus Posted: January 12, 2010 at 03:43 AM (#3434893)
Left undiscussed is the whole 'big league money and minor league money can come from different budgets' issue... which is admittedly tricky.
   57. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: January 12, 2010 at 03:47 AM (#3434902)
If by 'tricky' you mean 'stupid', yes.
   58. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: January 12, 2010 at 03:48 AM (#3434905)
It's spending the money that I... well, I don't even want to say 'object to'. I hope it doesn't represent a pattern in the Pirates' thinking, summarized as 'well, the money's here, let's sign somebody'.


But again, compare this to the kind of "veteran" the Littlefield regime would have signed. My guess is, Garret Anderson. Or Brian Giles. Someone with more of an eye to impressing the duller members of the press and the public. Or I could even imagine signing Jermaine Dye to 1 year and $4 million, which would serve to inform the public that Dye is much more washed-up than they had realized and he will be retiring this coming October.

Say what we will about Church, he's not obviously washed up. He doesn't inspire anyone to think "They may have just made the team worse". He merely inspires some to think "They may have just wasted a small amount of money."

Left undiscussed is the whole 'big league money and minor league money can come from different budgets' issue... which is admittedly tricky.


They've still spent, what, six times as much on amateur signings as free-agent signings this year?
   59. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: January 12, 2010 at 03:50 AM (#3434906)
But again, compare this to the kind of "veteran" the Littlefield regime would have signed. My guess is, Garret Anderson. Or Brian Giles. Someone with more of an eye to impressing the duller members of the press and the public. Or I could even imagine signing Jermaine Dye to 1 year and $4 million, which would serve to inform the public that Dye is much more washed-up than they had realized and he will be retiring this coming October.


Funny and true. The silver lining even I can take from this is that the new Pirates apparently have a much better eye for a cheap high risk/high reward free agent signee than the old Pirates did.

That still doesn't mean they had to spend $1 million (or whatever) that could have been locked in the war chest for June, though.
   60. adamadkins Posted: January 12, 2010 at 03:57 AM (#3434913)
Does anyone know if Church being around means Lastings Milledge is not getting a chance? Seems to me they ought to find out what they have. Same for Clement.
   61. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: January 12, 2010 at 03:58 AM (#3434915)
You know, for all I've been going on about this, I probably should wait until Church actually signs. The Paul Bako Experience was just the latest in a long, successful string of examples of how no one wants to go to Pittsburgh unless they have pretty much no other options (or was that the Miguel Sano Experience?), so until the contract's faxed with a signature, we should probably be treating this with some skepticism.

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