Neal Huntington’s track record of acquiring MLB talent

neal huntington pirates

[quote_simple]”We are going to utilize several objective measures of player performance to evaluate and develop players. We’ll rely on the more traditional objective evaluations: OPS (on base percentage plus slugging percentage) , WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched), Runs Created, ERC (Component ERA), GB/FB (ground ball to fly ball ratio), K/9 (strikeouts per nine innings), K/BB (strikeouts to walks ratio), BB%, etc., but we’ll also look to rely on some of the more recent variations: VORP (value over replacement player), Relative Performance, EqAve (equivalent average), EqOBP (equivalent on base percentage), EqSLG (equivalent slugging percentage), BIP% (balls put into play percentage), wOBA (weighted on base average), Range Factor, PMR (probabilistic model of range) and Zone Rating.” – Neal Huntington on his staff’s evaluation of players, November 2007[/quote_simple]

One of the most debated topics among Pirate fans seems to be each one’s respective stance on team management. Both sides – the apologists and management haters – are quick to either defend or challenge general manager Neal Huntington, team president Frank Coonelly, owner Bob Nutting, and the Pirates front office.

Using MLB Trade Rumors’ Transaction Tracker, I found each player who was acquired and played in at least one MLB game since Huntington & Co. took over in late 2007. With Baseball-Reference‘s version of wins above replacement (WAR), I counted the WAR for each of the 125 players in their time as a Pirate and totaled the results. Here you go:

Player WAR as a Pirate
Phil Dumatrait -0.4
Carlos Maldonado -0.2
Jimmy Barthmaier -0.5
Ty Taubenheim 0.2
Evan Meek 2.5
Raul Chavez 0.5
Marino Salas -0.4
Luis Cruz -0.3
Luis Rivas -0.5
Chris Gomez 0.1
Brian Rogers -0.3
T.J. Beam 0.5
Doug Mientkiewicz 1.2
Tyler Yates -0.5
Jason Davis -0.3
Matt Kata -0.8
Jason Michaels -0.8
Denny Bautista -0.6
Jeff Karstens 3.8
Daniel McCutchen 0.5
Ross Ohlendorf 2.3
Jose Tabata 2.2
Craig Hansen -0.5
Andy LaRoche 0.3
Brandon Moss -1.2
Bryan Morris 0.3
Robinzon Diaz 0.6
Jason Jaramillo -0.8
Donnie Veal -0.2
Ramon Vazquez -0.4
Garrett Jones 4.8
Jeff Salazar -0.3
Chris Bootcheck -0.8
Craig Monroe -0.2
Virgil Vasquez -0.4
Eric Hinske 0.4
Delwyn Young -0.9
Steven Jackson -0.1
Charlie Morton 0.4
Gorkys Hernandez 0.1
Jeff Locke 0.5
Joel Hanrahan 5.4
Lastings Milledge 1.0
Eric Fryer 0.2
Argenis Diaz -0.4
Ronny Cedeno 1.6
Jeff Clement -1.0
Jose Ascanio -0.2
Kevin Hart -1.3
Josh Harrison 1.6
Akinori Iwamura -1.7
Chris Jakubauskas -0.2
Wil Ledezma -0.3
Bobby Crosby -1.2
Javier Lopez 0.9
Jack Taschner -0.1
Brian Burres 0.6
Brian Bass -0.3
D.J. Carrasco 0.9
Ryan Church -0.6
Brendan Donnelly -0.3
Octavio Dotel 0.2
Hayden Penn -0.3
Dana Eveland -0.2
Sean Gallagher -0.5
John Bowker 0.2
Joe Martinez 0.0
James McDonald 2.7
Chris Snyder 0.3
Chan Ho Park 0.2
Chris Resop 0.9
Chris Leroux 0.1
Justin Thomas 0.0
Dusty Brown -0.4
Kevin Correia 0.2
Matt Diaz -0.6
Lyle Overbay -0.6
Jose Veras 0.4
Wyatt Toregas -0.1
Joe Beimel -0.4
Garrett Olson 0.1
Tim Wood -0.1
Brandon Wood -0.7
Xavier Paul 0.0
Michael McKenry 1.4
Josh Rodriguez -0.1
Jason Grilli 2.7
Derrek Lee 0.8
Ryan Ludwick -0.2
Michael Crotta -0.6
Matt Pagnozzi -0.2
Rod Barajas -0.9
Clint Barmes 2.4
Erik Bedard -0.6
Nate McLouth -0.5
Yamaico Navarro -0.1
Casey McGehee 0.4
Kris Johnson -0.2
Doug Slaten 0.2
Juan Cruz 0.6
A.J. Burnett 3.9
Rick van den Hurk -0.2
Drew Sutton -0.5
Wandy Rodriguez 0.9
Chad Qualls -0.3
Gaby Sanchez 1.1
Travis Snider -0.2
Hisanori Takahashi -0.2
Felix Pie -0.4
Vin Mazzaro 0.9
Russell Martin 4.3
Mark Melancon 2.0
Stolmy Pimentel 0.0
Jeanmar Gomez 0.2
Mike Zagurski -0.4
Jonathan Sanchez -0.9
Francisco Liriano 3.0
Brandon Inge -0.5
Jose Contreras -0.3
John McDonald -0.3
Kyle Farnsworth 0.3
John Buck -0.2
Marlon Byrd 1.0
Justin Morneau 0.2
Total for 125 Players 34.3

Note: Those who returned after previous stints in Pittsburgh (Beimel, McLouth) are accounted for by the WAR for the season after they were acquired. (Their previous years in a Pirate uniform were excluded)

Some of the best adds: Karstens, Jones, Hanrahan, Burnett, Martin, Liriano
Some of the worst adds: Iwamura, Barajas, J. Sanchez

Here’s what Huntington has acquired offseason-through-following-season (October to October) each year:

Oct. 2007 – Oct. 2008 7.7
Oct. 2008 – Oct. 2009 9.0
Oct. 2009 – Oct. 2010 1.3
Oct. 2010 – Oct. 2011 1.6
Oct. 2011 – Oct. 2012 5.8
Oct. 2012 – Oct. 2013 8.9

Last year’s offseason moves, including the Martin & Liriano signings, Melancon trade, etc. obviously paid off. However, the 2008 offseason/2009 season rivaled the 2013 moves from a WAR perspective – that’s when players like Garrett Jones, Charlie Morton, Jeff Locke, and Joel Hanrahan were brought to Pittsburgh.

Going through the list of players, there haven’t been a ton of inspiring additions. The Pirates have managed to add wins through acquisitions, though there have been more players to produce a negative WAR value than a positive one. They’ll never find a perfect formula – evaluating talent and translating it into on-field success isn’t easy, especially for a small market club with limited resources.

For every strong batch of players you find, you’ll miss on plenty. That’s the way it goes, and you also have to consider the role each guy was in (not all brought in to be starters/huge impact players), playing time, etc. I do think the Pirates are headed in the right direction in terms of player evaluation. 

This offseason, of course, was a letdown. While they don’t have too many holes, the existing ones weren’t filled with much excitement. The primary external additions that will affect the MLB club’s success are Edinson Volquez and Chris Stewart, two guys who will be lucky to add a win apiece to the equation. The market was thin, but not a whole lot was added to give the Pirates a significant boost. There’s still time for in-season moves to impact the roster, but we’ll see what happens.

Go Bucs

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