Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Berardino: Building a contender on the cheap like the Marlins will be tough to duplicate

“It sounds good to drop down in payroll, but this is not a common tactic,” says Pittsburgh Pirates General Manager Dave Littlefield, a Marlins official from 1999-2001. “This is no knock because they have done a nice job with the players they acquired themselves, but one issue I do think people overlook is that there was a lot of talent there to begin with.”

Littlefield’s comment is spot on; it’d be nice if he took a lesson from it. The difference between the Marlins and other teams in the same predicament (like Littlefield’s Pirates) is this: The Marlins trust their own talent development people. The Pirates, Royals, Devil Rays, et. al. don’t. So when there’s a need to be filled, the Marlins reach down and pluck someone from the farm - a Cabrera, a Willis, an Anibal Sanchez or Taylor Tankersley - while the other teams go for cheap free agents or someone else’s discards.

There are some signs that the well is running dry; with the exception of Gaby Sanchez and a handful of pitchers, there’s not much there. But I think that by the time this group does become too expensive, the Marlins will have other players - some we don’t know about yet - working their way through Jupiter and Carolina. That’s what Beinfest has done, and you have to like his track record.

 

Mike Emeigh Posted: September 06, 2006 at 05:48 PM | 29 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: miami, teams

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Internet Commenter Posted: September 06, 2006 at 06:25 PM (#2169387)
I will always wonder what could've been if the D-backs had Florida'd the team.
   2. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: September 06, 2006 at 06:33 PM (#2169396)
In the case of the Pirates, there are actually two problems. The first is that they don't trust their scouts and player development people, and the second is that their lack of trust is entirely deserved.

God, Ed Creech is just so awful at his job. Just thinking about it makes me want to cry.
   3. Kyle S Posted: September 06, 2006 at 06:45 PM (#2169405)
Taylor Tankersley is pretty tough to hit. Nice pick there. But yeah, Littlefield makes a fair point when he says that not just any team can do what the Marlins did this year.

First of all, you have to have quality players to trade in exchange for young talent -- Delgado, Beckett, Lowell, *cough* Lo Duca, e.g. -- the Pirates don't really fit the bill here (though they have in the past, e.g. Aramis).

Second, you have to trade them for good players: Hanley, Sanchez, Petit [maybe], Willis, Jacobs, Gaby Hernandez. The pirates success in this area has been a mixed bag, from Jason Bay on one hand to Bobby Hill or Matt Peterson on the other.

Third, you have to draft and develop a good crop of young players: Olsen, Josh Johnson, Tankersley, Cabrera, Hermida, Willingham, e.g. The Pirates are getting there but still a ways away.

Finally you have to make shrewd pickups from other organizations' trash piles: Uggla, Miguel Olivo, Borowski. You could argue that the Pirates did this with Lofton or Stairs or Reggie Sanders, but it didn't end up making a difference to them.

Anyway, here's hoping for the sake of the Pirates fans that they are the next Marlins.
   4. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: September 06, 2006 at 07:10 PM (#2169439)
"The Pirates are getting there but still a ways away."

Actually, if you look at the Pirates' drafts, they've been getting further away ever since Mickey White left and they replaced him with Ed Creech.
   5. Kyle S Posted: September 06, 2006 at 07:12 PM (#2169445)
i dunno, mccutchen, walker, and lincoln all look pretty good to me. it's not a loaded system by any means but there is reason for optimism imho.
   6. OlePerfesser Posted: September 06, 2006 at 07:21 PM (#2169457)
Just for the record, Anibal Sanchez was a Red Sox product, signed by the old regime in '01.

But don't cry, Vlad. I think Kyle's right that there's reason for optimism there, though it sure would help if certain FO people were cashiered...
   7. Mike Emeigh Posted: September 06, 2006 at 07:41 PM (#2169495)
i dunno, mccutchen, walker, and lincoln all look pretty good to me.


Well, except that Lincoln's hurting now...

What remains to be seen is whether:

a) McCutchen and Walker will continue to develop (other prospects in this system, reaching a comparable stage, have stalled), and
b) McCutchen and Walker will be given jobs at the major league level, and keep them when they struggle.

Just for the record, Anibal Sanchez was a Red Sox product, signed by the old regime in '01.


I was, of course, aware of that. The point here is that Sanchez had 57 1/3 innings above A-ball entering 2005, was sent back to AA to start 2006, and even though there were concerns about his readiness to pitch in the majors (no one expected him to be there for more than a couple of weeks - the word in Carolina was that he was coming back) was promoted to the majors directly from AA when the Marlins needed a starter, and kept there when he was successful.

The Marlins do this all the time, beginning with Willis and Cabrera in '03. I don't know of another team that will routinely call up players from their AA club when there's a temporary need, and keep them if they do the job, even after the need has passed. The Marlins do.

-- MWE
   8. Gainsay Posted: September 06, 2006 at 07:47 PM (#2169504)
The problem with saying that things are looking up for the Pirates is that it ignores the fact that service time is ticking away for the players they have in the majors (Bay in particular). In order to replicate what the Marlins have done, you need to have a critical mass of young talent all hit the majors within a couple of years, and all be productive.

Does anybody really think mccutchen, walker, and lincoln are going to be contributors for the Pirates starting in 2007? Even if they were, I don't think it would be enough to make the Pirates a contender. By the time those guys are solidly in the everyday lineup, Bay is going to be on his way out the door.
   9. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: September 06, 2006 at 08:06 PM (#2169533)
"i dunno, mccutchen, walker, and lincoln all look pretty good to me."

So what you're saying is that he didn't blow any of the team's last three first-round picks, all of which were in the top 11? I might suggest a slightly less generous standard: Look past the first round (like in this draft), and tell me where the prospects are.

When Littlefield talks about all the "young" players making positive contributions in the bigs (Castillo and Bautista and Paulino and such), 90% of them are 25/26-year-olds who signed under Bonifay. Hickory and Lynchburg are jam-packed with ringers because the team's Creech drafts can't even produce reliable organizational players.
   10. The Buddy Biancalana Hit Counter Posted: September 06, 2006 at 08:12 PM (#2169549)
I don't know of another team that will routinely call up players from their AA club when there's a temporary need, and keep them if they do the job, even after the need has passed. The Marlins do.

Didn't both McCann and Francouer earn everyday jobs straight out of AA last year? Cox will certainly add anybody from anywhere to the bullpen if he thinks it might work out.
   11. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: September 06, 2006 at 08:29 PM (#2169592)
Or, to put it another way, look at the Pirates' callups since the start of August. In order: Chris Duffy, Josh Sharpless, Rajai Davis, Jonah Bayliss, Marty McLeary, Brian Rogers, Carlos Maldonado, Shane Youman, and Juan Perez.

Of those nine guys, only three are even in the same general vicinity as the concept of prospect-dom, and only one (Sharpless) is above the level of throw-it-at-the-wall-and-see-if-it-sticks.

Compare that list to the list for Tampa, a team with a comparable recent record of futility: B.J. Upton, Ben Zobrist, Seth McClung, Chad Orvella, Jason Hammel, Kevin Witt, J.P. Howell, Delmon Young, Brian Stokes, Edwin Jackson, Shawn Riggans, and Juan Salas. See the difference?
   12. Kyle S Posted: September 06, 2006 at 08:36 PM (#2169609)
okay, okay, okay. sheesh. i didn't say the pirates were the next marlins, but things are better now (IMHO) than they were two years ago, when there was NOBODY on the horizon. Of course, in that span, Duke had a horrible season this year and Perez has exploded and been dumped on another organization. so maybe there is no hope.

also, didn't know lincoln is hurt. uh oh.
   13. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: September 06, 2006 at 08:47 PM (#2169638)
"...but things are better now (IMHO) than they were two years ago, when there was NOBODY on the horizon."

Not to pile on, but I don't agree with this, either.

Two years ago, the following guys were at Altoona or Nashville: Freddy Sanchez, Mike Gonzalez, Ian Snell, Zach Duke, Ron Paulino, Sean Burnett, Ryan Doumit, Jeff Keppinger, and J.R. House.
   14. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: September 06, 2006 at 08:50 PM (#2169645)
Plus some decent prospects who didn't make it: JVB, J.J. Davis, etc.
   15. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 06, 2006 at 09:05 PM (#2169674)
And Chris Shelton, right?
   16. Kyle S Posted: September 06, 2006 at 09:12 PM (#2169687)
vlad, you'd be hard pressed to argue that any of those guys with the exception of duke and MAAAYBE burnett were touted as prospects. even duke didn't really hit the scene until he started throwing up zeros in 2004. snell, house, and doumit were all talked about, but not really considered good prospects.

shelton was already gone - he left in december 2003 during the rule 5 draft.

anyway, my point is that mccutchen walker and lincoln (assuming he has no major health probs) are thought more highly of NOW than any of those guys were then. this is just my opinion and you may disagree. the fact that lots of relatively unheralded pirates went on to make the majors should be heartening to you - of course i guess you'd say they were all holdovers from the white era, and you're probably right - i have no idea.
   17. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: September 06, 2006 at 09:42 PM (#2169755)
"vlad, you'd be hard pressed to argue that any of those guys with the exception of duke and MAAAYBE burnett were touted as prospects."

I don't have time for an exhaustive search, but here's a quick-and-dirty reckoning.

Burnett made BA's 2004 top 100 at #64. I'd say that qualifies as "touting".

BA's 2004 Eastern League top 20 had Duke at #6 and Snell at #19. That probably also qualifies as "touting".

Duke was the Carolina League's Most Valuable Pitcher in '04, despite a midseason promotion. Keppinger and Paulino both made the Eastern League All-Star team in '04, and Paulino had been a Rule V pick by the Royals in '03. Doumit was a Carolina League All-Star in '03 and a former first-rounder, who'd also made the NY-P All-Stars in '00. Davis, House, and Sanchez had all made at least one league all-star team in prior years, and Davis and House were first-round picks as well. These were all guys who would've been well-known to prospect watchers of the time, to say nothing of Pirate fans.

"anyway, my point is that mccutchen walker and lincoln (assuming he has no major health probs) are thought more highly of NOW than any of those guys were then."

Pirates in BA's 2004 top 100: JVB (38), Burnett (64), Bay (74), and Bullington (97)

Pirates in BA's 2006 top 100: Walker (43), McCutchen (50), and Gorzelanny (95)
   18. WTM Posted: September 06, 2006 at 10:32 PM (#2169842)
I have trouble with the notion that three guys make a farm system good. Some years ago, the Pirates were in a similar position with Bobby Bradley, JR House (who by far outhit Walker in low A) and Burnett. All three were wiped out by injury, as was Van Benschoten, who was their 1st round pick following Burnett. They still got a lot of talent out of that period because they'd drafted guys like Duke, Snell, Doumit, Duffy, McLouth and Bautista in later rounds, not to mention guys that Littlefield gave away, like Shelton and Chris Young. You look at the system now beyond McCutchen, Walker (who had a bad year this year while recovering from wrist surgery) and Lincoln (who got bombed in a few starts at Hickory and now is hurt), and there's almost nothing. If they're lucky, out of those three guys they'll get maybe one above average and one average regular or starting pitcher. Then what?

BA rated the Pirates' system 19th last year. They've added Lincoln, but a bunch of guys graduated to the majors, so I figure that rating will go down. IMO, it was a fair rating. You can't just look at a system in a vacuum. The better systems have three or more guys that good or better, and they've got far more depth. I don't see this system producing what a low-spending team needs, and I don't see it producing what their system did from the drafts before Littlefield became GM.
   19. WTM Posted: September 06, 2006 at 10:38 PM (#2169853)
. . . one issue I do think people overlook is that there was a lot of talent there to begin with.

This is a pretty funny way of distinguishing them from your own team when you've been GM of your team for over five years.
   20. Ignatius J. Reilly Posted: September 07, 2006 at 12:21 AM (#2169932)
Pirates in BA's 2004 top 100: JVB (38), Burnett (64), Bay (74), and Bullington (97)

Pirates in BA's 2006 top 100: Walker (43), McCutchen (50), and Gorzelanny (95)


I am not sure how useful those numbers are given that the level of talent in the minors is not static.
   21. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: September 07, 2006 at 12:26 AM (#2169938)
As usual, Wilbur says what I wanted to say in about half as many words.

"I am not sure how useful those numbers are given that the level of talent in the minors is not static."

It's not perfect, but it certainly is suggestive.
   22. Russ Posted: September 07, 2006 at 01:10 AM (#2170017)
The Pirates could have had Stephen Drew or Jered Weaver instead of Neil Walker.

The Pirates could have had Lastings Milledge or Conor Jackson instead of Paul Maholm.

And let's not begin the litany of guys who came after #1 pick Bryan Bullington: BJ Upton, Adam Loewen, Prince Fielder, Scott Kazmir.

The Pirates have begun adhering to three foolish principles in the post-Mickey White era:

a) Pitching is more important than hitting.

b) Don't pay any draft pick more than slot money (and try to pay a hell of a lot less).

c) Draft tools over skills.
   23. WTM Posted: September 07, 2006 at 01:29 AM (#2170064)
The Pirates could have had Stephen Drew . . . .

The Pirates drafted Drew out of HS, but AFAIK there were never any serious negotiations.
   24. Russ Posted: September 07, 2006 at 01:58 AM (#2170126)
but AFAIK there were never any serious negotiations.

Actually, now that I think about it, this probably applies to any Pirate draft pick in the post Mickey White era.

Man... I miss Mickey... Chris Young, JR House, switching JVB to pitching... at the very least, Mick was creative.
   25. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: September 07, 2006 at 02:23 AM (#2170178)
For another perspective, Sickels grades for the guys I mentioned, from the '04 book (i.e. published after the '03 season):

Gonzalez: Not listed.
Sanchez: B-, "...a solid player who will have a good career, though he won't make any All-Star teams."
Snell (listed under Oquendo): B+, "...one of the premiere (sic) pitching talents in the minors."
Duke: Not listed.
Paulino: Not listed.
Burnett: B+, "...track record is unique, and normal methods of analysis and projection may not apply."
Doumit: C+, "has always played well when healthy...a very intriguing prospect"
Keppinger: Not listed.
House: C, "a major wild card...capable of returning to prominence or fading out completely."

JVB: B+, "I don't think he's quite ready for the Show. But he is a fine prospect."
J.J. Davis: B-, "...should turn out to be a good player, though I don't think he's going to be a star."

Burnett was 35th on the list of the top 50 pitchers, and JVB was 41st. Jason Bay was 17th on the list of the top 50 hitters.

Others grading fairly highly:

Tony Alvarez, C+
Jason Bay, B+
Bryan Bullington, B
Matt Capps, C+
Jose Castillo, B-
Rajai Davis, C+
Tom Gorzelanny, C+
"Pat" Maholm, B-
Nate McLouth, C+
Cory Stewart, B

Out of the "C" grade guys, the ones who turned out the best were Chris Duffy, Josh Sharpless, and Wardell Starling.
   26. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: September 07, 2006 at 02:32 AM (#2170188)
By comparison, the '06 book had four Pirates with a "B" or greater (Walker, McCutchen, Gorzelanny, and Maholm), and 14 with a "C+".
   27. MM1f Posted: September 07, 2006 at 02:58 AM (#2170221)
"
c) Draft tools over skills."

Uh, i dont know if this is that big of a deal for an org that picked Paul Maholm, Sean Burnett and BB over other players (both pitchers and hitters) with much better tools and Drew over Walker was about money not "tools and skills"
   28. Walt Davis Posted: September 07, 2006 at 09:14 AM (#2170340)
First of all, you have to have quality players to trade in exchange for young talent -- Delgado, Beckett, Lowell, *cough* Lo Duca, e.g. -- the Pirates don't really fit the bill here (though they have in the past, e.g. Aramis).

Interestingly enough, the first Marlins fire sale netted them very little of value.
   29. Russ Posted: September 07, 2006 at 11:29 AM (#2170349)

Uh, i dont know if this is that big of a deal for an org that picked Paul Maholm, Sean Burnett and BB


David Littlefield was not responsible for drafting Sean Burnett.

And Paul Maholm and BB clearly fall into categories a) and b). Not all prospects fall into all categories.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Dynasty League Baseball

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Tuque
for his generous support.

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

Hall of MeritHeavy Johnson
(59 - 6:02pm, Jan 25)
Last: Dr. Chaleeko

NewsblogTom Goodwin, former Boston Red Sox coach, says MLB bullied coaches into getting COVID-19 vaccine: ‘There was no choice’
(104 - 5:50pm, Jan 25)
Last: smileyy

NewsblogNBA 2021-2022 Season Thread
(2138 - 5:45pm, Jan 25)
Last: Tom Cervo, backup catcher

NewsblogBaseball Hall of Fame tracker 2022
(1162 - 5:44pm, Jan 25)
Last: alilisd

NewsblogBraves, A’s Discussed Matt Olson Prior To Lockout
(4 - 5:38pm, Jan 25)
Last: Smitty*

Hall of Merit2023 Hall of Merit Ballot Discussion
(144 - 4:35pm, Jan 25)
Last: kcgard2

NewsblogOT - NHL Thread
(83 - 4:29pm, Jan 25)
Last: The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV)

NewsblogMLBPA drops age-based free agency proposal as negotiations on new labor deal continue: Source
(17 - 4:25pm, Jan 25)
Last: Walt Davis

NewsblogRobot umpires at home plate moving up to Triple-A for 2022
(49 - 4:25pm, Jan 25)
Last: SoSH U at work

NewsblogBest baseball movies based on a true story
(8 - 3:23pm, Jan 25)
Last: sunday silence (again)

NewsblogFrontier League adds sudden-death tiebreaker to extra-innings games in 2022
(18 - 2:28pm, Jan 25)
Last: Karl from NY

Hall of MeritSam Jethroe
(19 - 2:20pm, Jan 25)
Last: DL from MN

NewsblogTexas starts No. 1, SEC dominates top 10 in preseason college baseball rankings
(2 - 1:30pm, Jan 25)
Last: Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network)

NewsblogOT - 2021 NFL thread
(238 - 6:32pm, Jan 24)
Last: Tom Nawrocki

NewsblogRosenthal: The pressure is mounting — MLB cannot afford to lose games this season
(61 - 4:55pm, Jan 24)
Last: Jack Sommers

Page rendered in 0.2766 seconds
50 querie(s) executed