Wednesday, February 29, 2012


After what seemed like a year's worth of speculation, the Pirates recently completed a trade that brought A.J. Burnett to Pittsburgh. Despite coming off a couple of disappointing seasons in New York, Burnett still possesses outstanding stuff and some of the advanced stats suggested that he had really just been the victim of some bad luck. Pirates fans were hoping that a change of scenery would help Burnett return to form and he would be a workhorse for the Bucs. Earlier today, Burnett managed to bunt a ball into his own face. What the #%$@?!?!?  Although the original reports said that Burnett was fine, we are now learning that he will fly back to Pittsburgh to be examined further. Obviously, I'm hoping that this is nothing more than a bump in the road and that Burnett will be fine. I guess the silver lining is that he didn't hurt his arm or shoulder so as long as he didn't shatter his orbital bone a la James Harrison, it shouldn't really affect his ability to pitch a bunch of innings for the black and gold this year. It also helps that it happened a month before the games start to count. Still, it made me think about just how snakebitten this franchise has really been.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

#3 Prospect - Starling Marte

Talk about bang for your buck.  The Pirates signed Starling Marte - who was originally scouted as a pitcher - out of the Dominican Republic for a scant $85,000 bonus.  The investment turned out to be a great one.  Marte, who stands 6'2, 185 lbs according to fangraphs, oozes tools, highlighted by blazing speed and a strong arm.  Combining those tools with good jumps and reads, Marte is an elite defensive centerfielder.  On the other side of the game, Marte's bat has developed nicely, making him a very good overall prospect. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Reaction: Braun - Not Guilty but Not Innocent

This article fits under the Reaction heading of the blog.  Read more of our Reactions here.

 On Friday, Brewers superstar Ryan Braun got up to the podium and forcefully declared that “the simple truth is that [he’s] innocent.” This comes a day after the first successful appeal of a positive drug test in MLB history. The blowback from Braun’s case has been substantial. One camp insists that this is all a cover up manufactured so as not to taint the career of the reigning NL MVP. Another believes that Braun has been completely vindicated and should be viewed as a clean player from here on out. The reality probably lies somewhere in between. Braun and his representatives responded to the positive test exactly as you would expect a falsely accused individual to respond. He denied everything, he challenged the results through baseball’s appeals process, and most importantly, he won his appeal. By ruling in Braun’s favor, arbitrator Shyam Das determined that Braun was not guilty of the charges against him. That is not the same, however, as saying that Braun is innocent, as the slugger would have you believe.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

#4 Prospect - Luis Heredia

Under Neal Huntington, the Pirates haven't just been committed to adding amateur talent through the draft.  They have also become a bigger player in the international market recently.  It started in 2009 when the Pirates attempted to sign top international prospects SS/3B Miguel Sano.  Unfortunately, they were unsuccessful and he signed with the Twins after significant drama involving Sano's agent.  It was a big blow for the Pirates and their fans, but the front office responded admirably.  The following year, they again attempted to sign the top international prospect on the market.  This time they succeeded and pitcher Luis Heredia became a Pirate.

Reaction: Ryan Braun Wins his Appeal

This article fits under my Reaction heading of the blog.  Read more of our Reactions here.

Back in December, just as I was starting this blog, the baseball world was stunned by a 50-game suspension levied against the Brewers Ryan Braun.  The reigning NL MVP allegedly tested positive for PED's.  I wrote my reaction here.  Being a Pirates fan, I attempted to be objective and believe I did a good job.  Personally, I took issue with how quickly Braun was crucified in the court of public opinion.  The general consensus seemed to be that Braun was guilty, even prior to him exercising his ability to appeal the suspension.  Detractors pointed out that no player had ever successfully won an appeal against the MLB.  Others called for the MVP to be stripped from Braun and given to runner-up Matt Kemp, again prior to any appeal.

New Addition: Welcome KentuckyPirate!

Buried Treasure is no longer a one man operation.  Please welcome KentuckyPirate to the fold.  Make sure to leave a comment about how much better this site will be now that I'm no longer the only contributor.

Here's a link to his first article, Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda.

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda: Hindsight and the MLB Draft

No complaints on McCutchen

Buried Treasure is expanding!  No, I didn't buy a warehouse.  Yes, I did add a new author.  Please welcome KentuckyPirate to Buried Treasure.  Although this is posted under my name, this is his first article for Buried Treasure.  Personally, I'm very excited to add such a knowledgeable Pirates fan to the site.  Make sure to check back regularly for new content from him, especially if you hate my writing. Welcome him here!

One of the most common complaints levied against the Pirates’ much maligned management lately has been their big “misses” in the Rule IV Draft, namely Pedro Alvarez and Tony Sanchez. If only the team had been smart and drafted instead either Eric Hosmer or Buster Posey and then Shelby Miller  we’d be a playoff team right now! While it may be too early to really pass judgment on any of those picks you could at least make the argument that, given the amount of money the Pirates have invested in the draft recently, it wouldn’t be totally unfair to hope for a better overall product to this point. Having said that, I don’t think the best way to critique a team’s draft strategy is by cherry picking specific selections and playing a hindsight-aided game of “woulda, coulda, shoulda.” The problem with this type of analysis is since you are able to seek out handful of guys in a given draft who really hit it big you are bound to come up with several teams who wound up with a bust instead. The baseball draft is a crapshoot and there is probably not a single team in baseball that doesn’t wish it had a mulligan or two.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The MLB Draft under the new CBA: This sucks but there is hope

For more on the 2012 MLB Draft click here.


Mid November: The world is over.  The new CBA arrives.  It destroys the draft - the Pirates best chance of competing - and love, hope, and happiness. 

December 27: There is hope. A slightly late Christmas gift. Charlie reports the Pirates will get a draft bonus pool that will be around nearly 10 million dollars in 2012.  

February 20: Hope is again crushed. Jim Callis of Baseball America reports will only get $6,563,500 to sign their players.  That is without Derrek Lee - who will provide an extra $900,000 - but that's only if he signs a major league deal with another team, which looks doubtful.

February 21: After crying a lot, I attempt to argue why this sucks but there is still a glimmer of hope.  All is not lost.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

#5 Prospect - Josh Bell

I'll go ahead and rank Josh Bell at #4.  No, I'm not talking about on my prospect list; he's still #5 on that list. #1 on this mystery list is Andrew McCutchen. #2 is Michael McKenry's 3-run homerun against the Cubs in early July of last year (relive it here). #3 is hometown hero Neil Walker's grandslam on opening day against the Cubs.  The list is the most exciting moments/developments surrounding the Pirates over the past several years, at least to me personally.  McCutchen's development into a superstar and those two homeruns during last year's sensational run (even though that run felt short, come on, it was fun as hell) were something special that has given hope and excitement to Pirates fans.  The drafting and signing of Josh Bell has done the same.

Mack's Mets Q&A

Stephen Guilbert of Mack's Mets (an excellent site by the way - check it out) was kind enough to interview me on a couple of topics both Pirates related and Draft related.  Links are provided below.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Reaction: Pirates trade two prospects for A.J. Burnett

This article fits under my Reaction heading of my blog.  Read more of my Reactions here.

The Pirates finally made a splash.  Actually, it might be better characterized as a small swell.  A splash was last year when we acquired Derrek Lee and Ryan Ludwick.  The Pirates haven't yet created a tropical storm, but the times they are a-changin'.  No longer is Pittsburgh just a triple-A club for other baseball teams around the league.  This time, the Pirates gave up the prospects and took on money in order to help facilitate a salary dump for another team.  This time, in a very strange turn of events, that team was the New York Yankees.

From the Yankees, the Pirates received talented but oft-maligned starting pitcher A.J. Burnett.  In exchange, the Pirates sent prospects Diego Moreno and Exicardo Cayones to the Yankees. In addition, the Yankees will provide the Pirates 20 million dollars to cover over half of the 33 million Burnett is owed over the next two years (some sources indicate that it's 18.1 million instead of 20 - stay tuned). Details on all three players after the jump and my opinion.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Reaction: NL Central Positional Breakdown

This article fits under my Reaction heading of my blog.  Read more of my Reactions here.

 A little over a week ago, ESPN had an article detailing the various depth charts in the NL Central and then comparing and ranking each position for all six teams.  Here are the results.  Per position, I'll add my own reaction and comments.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

It's Arbitration Time!

Since it's that time of the year again with MLB teams taking MLB players to arbitration to decide salary, I thought it'd be appropriate to post this.  Last year, I had the privilege of attending a talk given by General Counsel of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Larry Silverman. During that talk, he gave an in-depth and behind the scenes explanation/view of the arbitration process.  I wrote a post on BucsDugout (here) about it last year, but I'll also copy and paste it here after the jump.

Reaction Series

Here on Buried Treasure, I do love producing my own content.  My prospect list is all my work.  So is my mock draft and big board.  Yes I used info from other sources, but those articles are all my opinion.  Other times though, I find it beneficial to take a piece produced by another excellent baseball writer and respond to it, react to it if you will.  Sometimes it's just my reaction to news, a trade, signing, or even a rumor. That's what this series is about.  My reactions, both negative and positive, to the world of baseball.  Enjoy.  Articles after the jump.

Chasing the Dream

Quick Update.  I love Baseball.  Thus, I love awesome baseball coverage.  Here is a site with some really cool content and an awesome concept. Included is an interview with the Pirates sixth round pick last year, Dan Gamache.  Click the link and check it out. A short excerpt after the jump.

How Foreign the Game of Baseball is Sometimes

Even to so-called "experts."  I will admit right now that I'm about to pick on a writer by cherry-picking (pickity, pick, pick) on one thing he wrote, but onward I plunge.

In this article writer Wallance Matthews writes about the pending AJ Burnett trade between the Yankees and Pirates.  I'll go ahead of give Mr. Matthews the benefit of the doubt here and assume he's informed and intelligent when it comes to baseball, but even so, he manages to offer up this gem a little past halfway into the article.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

#6 Prospect - Robbie Grossman

Much like my #7 Pirates prospect Tony Sanchez, my #8 prospect Robbie Grossman hangs his hat on being able to get on-base, but more on that later.  Grossman is indicative of a philosophical change that Neal Huntington ushered in concerning the draft.  The outfielder -who signed for exactly one million dollars rather than go to the University of Texas - is the first player the Pirates gave a seven-figure bonus to that was drafted outside of the first round since pitcher Chris Young in 2000.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

High School to the Majors: Positional Players

Recently, I ran across a criticism of the Pittsburgh Pirates, specifically how they handle prospects.  The criticism alluded to the fact that the Pirates generally are conservative with pushing prospects, especially high school draftees.  The general statement bemoaned the fact that expecting a player to make the major leagues within four full years of being drafted is nothing more than a foolish wish.  Under Neal Huntington, college players drafted have beat that four year limit.  Pedro Alvarez made it to the big leagues by his second full year as a professional.  Chase D'Arnaud made the show last year in his third full year.  On the high school level, the criticism is fairly accurate.  In 2008, Huntington's first draft class, the Pirates paid two high school players - Quinton Miller and Robbie Grossman - either seven figures or nearly seven figures.  Miller has been a bust and while Grossman has turned himself into a top prospect (on Keith Law's top 100 list for example) but will start next year in AA and is unlikely to arrive in Pittsburgh by the end of the year.  That will give him one more year to make the show by his fourth full year in the big leagues.  This reality can be particularly disheartening as Pirates fans watch high school phenoms such as Jason Heyward and Mike Trout fly to the major leagues, with the former taking his first at-bat for the Braves at age 20 and the latter taking his first at-bat for the Angels still as a teenager.

I decided to take a more in-depth look at how quickly prospects, specifically those drafted out of high school, move through the minors.  To do so, I used the following criteria.  First, I used fangraphs to identify each batter (I will do pitchers later) that had his rookie season.  My time period was the last five years, from 2007-2011.  From there, I determined which of those batters were high school draftees that made it to their rookie season within five years of being drafted.  That means every player on my list played a maximum of four full seasons in the minor leagues.

Player Name Draft Bonus Draft Position Draft Year Current Team
Delmon Young
James Loney
Billy Butler
Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Elijah Dukes

Player Name Draft Bonus Draft Position Draft Year Current Team
Ian Stewart
Jay Bruce
Blake DeWitt       
Ryan Sweeney

Player Name Draft Bonus Draft Position Draft Year Current Team
Cameron Maybin
1 (10)
Andrew McCutchen
1 (11)
Travis Snider
1 (14)
Colby Rasmus
1 (28)
Dexter Fowler
14 (410)
Jordan Schafer
3 (107)
Kyle Blanks
(42) (1241)

Player Name Draft Bonus Draft Position Draft Year Current Team
Jason Heyward
Austin Jackson
Ryan Kalish
Mike Stanton
Peter Bourjos
Logan Morrison
Michael Brantley
Josh Thole

Player Name Draft Bonus Draft Position Draft Year Current Team
Eric Hosmer
Mike Moustakas
Brett Lawrie
Hank Conger
Ben Revere
Freddie Freeman
Domonic Brown

The list is ordered according to bonus amount.  In those five years, there were 31 players who made it to the big leagues out of high school with only four years or less of minor league experience.  16 of the 31 (51.6%) were first round picks.  Jarrod Saltalamacchia was drafted in the first supplemental round.  15 of those 31 received more than one million dollars (48.3%) for their signing bonus.  Those draftees making the show quickly are expected.  They were drafted in the position they were drafted and given the bonuses they were given for a reason: talent.

On the flipside, there were only a few players that came out of nowhere.  Kyle Blanks, Domonic Brown, and Logan Morrison all were drafted in the 20th round or later and given bonuses under a quarter of a million dollars.  Outfielder Michael Brantley also signed for only 150K, although he was drafted in the 7th round.

Basically, the Pirates do seem a bit behind in producing major league positional players quickly once they nab them out of high school.  They are represented by Andrew McCutchen, although that's not unexpected because he was drafted in the first half of the first round.  Still, it seems to me that there are so few players that have zipped to the major leagues.  Again, only 16 who received a bonus under one million dollars in the last five years.  It looks like the Pirates drought will continue into the near future, but considering having a player make this list seems to be a rarity rather than the other way around, I'm not too upset.  However, considering the Pirates have spent more on pitcher, I can't say my sentiment will be the same when my pitching study is complete.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

#7 Prospect - Tony Sanchez

Tony Sanchez, my #7 Pirates prospect, invokes painful memories of another catcher, Matt Wieters.  It's not as simple as they are both catchers or even that both play or played for the Pirates.  In fact, Wieters plays for the Baltimore Orioles, much to the chagrin of Pirates fans.  Wieters was considered a future star as a two-way Catcher coming out of Georgia Tech in 2007.  The Pirates had the opportunity to draft Wieters, but instead drafted pitcher Daniel Moskos, largely due to Wieters price tag.  That gaffe was seemingly the straw that broke the camel's back for general manager Dave Littlefield, who lost his job.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Jeff Karstens's Crazy June and July

On the surface, Karstens had a heck of a year last year.  The 28 year-old finally saw significant action in the rotation and responded with a 3.38 ERA.  Amazingly, Karstens could have had an even finer year had he pitched the entire season in the same manner he pitched the middle of the season.  Specifically, Karstens turned in a wonderful June and July, at least on the surface.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

#8 Prospect - Jarek Cunningham

My #8 Pirates prospect, Jarek Cunningham, was part of Neal Huntington's first draft class as the Pirates general manager in 2008.  Cunningham is indicative of a change in the Pirates draft philosophy of paying high school players overslot bonus money in later rounds to improve the infusion of talent into the farm system.  $100,000 bought Cunningham out of his commitment to Arizona State, which was actually a fairly low figure considering prep middle infielder's talent.  Part of the discount was a result of a torn ACL that prevented Cunningham from playing his entire senior season. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Why the Pirates Shouldn't Trade Andrew McCutchen

The rumors are persistent.  Andrew McCutchen, the face of Pittsburgh Pirates franchise, is a potential trade commodity.  To his credit, Neal Huntington has done his plenty to try and dispel the rumors regarding McCutchen being on the trade block.  At the same time, Huntington hasn't fully dispelled the rumors, stating recently that he wouldn't trade his star player, unless there was a 'dramatic overpay.'

Technically, Neal Huntington is 'right.'  If Mike Rizzo of the Nationals loses his mind and calls Neal with an offer of Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon (the definition of an 'overpay') for McCutchen, Neal accepts before Rizzo can come to his senses. Despite that, by not saying 'Our superstar is untouchable, period' Huntington leaves the door up for some uncertainty, which is amplified by the fact that extension talks have went nowhere so far.