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:
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.
Huntington on 1B battle: "Wherever we end up, it doesn’t mean we’re set in stone."
— Bill Brink (@BrinkPG) March 23, 2014