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Transaction Oracle
— A Timely Look at Transactions as They Happen

Monday, February 20, 2012

Pirates - Acquire Burnett

Pittsburgh Pirates acquire P A. J. Burnett for outfielder Exicardo Cayones, pitcher Diego Moreno and $20 million in cash ($11.5 million in 2012 and $8.5 million in 2013)

All in all a pretty reasonable deal for both sides. The Yankees free up a roster spot, add a couple of middle grade suspects and make those last few additions to the roster a little more cost effective. It’s been reported in terms of giving the Yankees financial flexibility. That’s only true if they were dealing with an absolutely fixed budget. Color me doubtful that this is the case. They would in effect have to pay a premium for some marginal talents had they not made this deal. In other words it’s a nice side effect of the deal to my mind.

From the Pirates point of view, if Burnett stays at the level he’s been at for the last couple of years they get an inning eating mediocrity at something close to the going rate (from the Pirates point of view this is a 2 year, $13 million deal. More than I’d expect Burnett to command on the open market, but not by any great margin) in exchange for two guys who didn’t rate to be an important part of the team going forward. The big part of the deal though is that nobody would be at all surprised if Burnett was a fair bit better than mediocre. His results have never matched the general perception of his level of talent, and while he’s clearly slipping his stuff is still pretty good when he puts it all together (it just doesn’t happen often enough)

I called both of the players the Yankees get middle grade suspects. Both are seriously odds against ever playing regularly in the majors, but in both cases you can see how they could make it. Cayones is a young outfielder with good plate discipline. He has to seriously improve what he does when he actually tries to put the ball in play—he’s shown little power and the average just isn’t good enough. Still as one philosopher has noted, OBP is life. And Cayones has a chance to be a pesky OBP guy. Just not a good chance. For one thing, his only true strength is his walk rate and that doesn’t translate all that reliably from the minors to the majors.

Moreno—while it’s almost true that there’s no such thing as a pitching prospect, it’s almost equally true that no young pitcher can be truly written off (provided his arm is still sound). He’s now 25. He hasn’t mastered AA, but has clearly established that he’s wasting his time in A ball. In his limited time at AA his walk rate has been pretty good as has his strikeout rate. He’s just given up a lot of hits on balls in play. I would expect his walk rate to worsen as he moves forward and his strikeout rate to drop. In other words, I see has stuff as marginal to get a shot at the tail end of a major league bullpen. But pitchers with worse minor league records than him have gone on to some success.

I’d give long odds on him ever pitching for the Yankees (except perhaps garbage time in September) with some chance of being a sweetener in another deal down the road.

Ron J Posted: February 20, 2012 at 08:51 AM | 10 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Mike Emeigh Posted: February 20, 2012 at 02:07 PM (#4064842)
For one thing, his only true strength is his walk rate and that doesn’t translate all that reliably from the minors to the majors.


And this is especially true of low-power players like Cayones; at higher levels, and in the majors, pitchers don't have to worry as much about working corners when pitching to guys like this, so the odds of their being able to take enough pitches to walk drop way down.

It’s been reported in terms of giving the Yankees financial flexibility. That’s only true if they were dealing with an absolutely fixed budget. Color me doubtful that this is the case.


I'm less doubtful; the changes in the CBA make the penalties for being where the Yankees are now significantly worse than they were under the old CBA, and the Steinbrenners have been pretty vocal about not continuing to subsidize teams that have little or no interest in having a competitive payroll. I think this truly was about ridding themselves of a player whose production was nowhere close to his salary and opening up some possibilities that would not lead to a significant payroll increase.

-- MWE
   2. The kids disappeared, now Der-K has too much candy Posted: February 20, 2012 at 02:50 PM (#4064872)
Agreed.
   3. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: February 20, 2012 at 03:51 PM (#4064907)
Pittsburgh Pirates acquire P A. J. Burnett for outfielder Exicardo Cayones, pitcher Diego Moreno and $20 million in cash ($11.5 million in 2012 and $8.5 million in 2013)


Whoa, I hope the Pirates are actually ACQUIRING the cash instead of what it suggests here.
   4. Ron J Posted: February 20, 2012 at 06:16 PM (#4065049)
#3 Ah yes. Good point, bad writing.
   5. Run Joe Run Posted: February 20, 2012 at 06:42 PM (#4065068)
Moreno, I believe , was available in the Rule 5 draft, no takers. Yankees should try him at AAA in a make it or break it year to determine if he belongs on the 40 man roster.
   6. Ron J Posted: February 20, 2012 at 06:51 PM (#4065073)
Mike, the point I was struggling to make clear is there's a difference between "really don't want to" and "can't" when it come to payroll increases by the Yankees right now.
   7. Ron J Posted: February 20, 2012 at 07:00 PM (#4065085)
#5 If it comes to make or break, he'll almost certainly break.

He'd need to improve massively to be ready this year. What he has going for him is youth -- and a skill that has a very real chance of deserting him as he moves forward. That's enough to move him into the suspect (as opposed to being an actual prospect) category.

If he's really on the clock (at 21? -- that would be unusual) I'd put him at a level where he has some chance of success (narrowly defined -- good stats in other words) and figure on packaging him up. He's years away from an outside shot at being useful.

   8. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 20, 2012 at 07:24 PM (#4065106)
If he's really on the clock (at 21? -- that would be unusual)


Moreno will be 25 this year, not 21.
   9. Ron J Posted: February 20, 2012 at 09:53 PM (#4065200)
#8 Oops. I somehow transposed the two.

Sure, Moreno needs to take a step forward this year. Again though I'd look to put him at a level where he has a chance of success (with the idea of packaging him if it works out)

Could he have success at AAA? I suppose. If his K rate and BB rate at AA are an actual ability level (I'm skeptical) and his poor hits allowed rate was at least mostly bad luck (plausible, but far from guaranteed) then he has a real shot.

If that's the case, the Pirates seriously misjudged him regardless of how well Burnett plays. Yes, Burnett could have real value over the next two years, but they didn't have to give up anything approaching a real prospect to land him. And to be clear I don't think they have. If Moreno works out I think it'll be just one of those, "you never know with pitchers" situations.
   10. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: February 20, 2012 at 11:09 PM (#4065238)
Meh, Moreno is just another flier to take on a young reliever with a big fastball. His upside is probably, I dunno, Scott Proctor? Dwayne Henry?

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